Hope Springs Eternal, Part 2

by Jilly Harris and April Randall

"Mister Jesbar," D'Kahn started, "Her Majesty wished me to contact
you. We saw the news report that was made."

Brodin blinked twice.  "Yes, I was only just informed of the news
reports myself.  The reporter is being dealt with," he said sternly.

"Have you seen a body?" Midalah asked formally, in a queenly voice as
she walked into the room.

Brodin stared at her for a few moments.  "There was almost nothing
left.  The entire building was incinerated in the explosion."  He
swallowed.  "All that was left of Mia -- that was identifiable, at
least -- was a crackling comlink and a melted blaster piece."

"Deep inside, do you think she is gone?" Midalah asked.

Brodin immediately began to lose control over his emotions.  "I don't
-- I don't want to believe it. But I *saw* her in the building when
it exploded, Your Majesty." His voice had begun to shake and now
tears were overflowing.  Ryatt stepped up behind him and placed a
hand on Brodin's shoulder.  Brodin nodded to him and stepped aside.

"I'm Ryatt, the first officer. Believe me, Your Majesty . . . Mia is
gone." He, too, paused to regain control over his emotions.  "Dozens
of witnesses saw that building explode, with Mia inside. There is no
physical way she could have gotten out in time."

"I refuse to believe that she is dead, even if you do."

Brodin looked at her. "Her tracking signal is gone. Her lifesigns
aren't even on this planet. We ran a bioscan, she's gone. I don't
want to believe it either," he said, beginning to get a little angry,
"but -- there is no logical way that she is still alive."

Midalah stepped closer. "Mia is very resourceful, as are apparently
the people that wanted her and sent a bounty hunter after her; don't
give up yet," she said. "Because all of those things can be hidden in
various ways. Changed, nulled, blocked."

Ryatt stepped away for a few moments to speak to a crewmember who had
just entered the room.

"You think this was the work of some bounty hunter??" Brodin repeated
in disbelief.  "What happened was a complete accident, in
everything.  Someone crashed their speeder.  Someone misinterpreted
orders.  Mia chose to stay in that building.  As for being blocked. .
."  He shook his head.  "I was watching her, in that building, when
it exploded. Explain that to me."

Ryatt put a hand on Brodin's shoulder and whispered something to
him.  Brodin frowned and cursed at the reporters and at the

"I am telling you this isn't right, this just does not feel right,"
Midalah insisted.

"Of *course* it doesn't feel right!" Brodin snapped. "What is it
*supposed* to feel like when the woman you regard as a daughter
suddenly dies in front of your face!"

Midalah straightened her back, narrowing her eyes.  "I know what it
feels like to have family murdered, and practically right in front of
you," she growled.  "And it was ten times worse than this.  Therefore
I refuse to believe she is gone.  If you wish to think so, fine, but
I will investigate this further."

Brodin was taken back, seeing her in a new light. Then he shook his
head.  "Fine," he said tiredly. "I don't even know where to start.
But it's cruel to let yourself believe someone is alive for too

"It's worse wishing someone was alive even more," Midalah growled.
"For six years I wanted nothing more than for those that were
murdered to be alive. And this brings you no closure either since you
don't know for certain, and you do NOT know for certain, all you have
is speculation and what ifs."

Brodin was silent for a few moments. "So what if what you're saying
is true.  Say Mia somehow survived the explosion that killed four
other people in the same building.  How could her biosigns have been
changed so quickly, even if the work of another was involved?"

"I honestly can't answer that," Midalah said. "But I'm sure once we
find Mia, we'll find that answer."

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