Acceptable Losses

Characters: G’fen, Dunstan Kordieh

It was maybe an hour after G’fen had returned to his quarters that the chime rang. “G’fen? It’s Dunstan. I need to talk to you.”

G’fen really wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone…maybe put someone into the medlab for a few weeks…but not talk. “Enter,” he said.

Dunstan came in, letting the door close behind him but staying close to it. There was a set to his jaw that G’fen hadn’t really noticed in him before. “I just have one question for you,” he said, his voice low and tense. “Why?”

G’fen started to mumble, “When aren’t you asking why…” but he stopped short. “Do you know what it is like? Do you? To have your homeworld occupied by the Centauri-not once-but twice? Do you?

“Why don’t you tell me about it?”

“Do you really want to know what it is like to watch your family die? To see the death camps where thousands are slaughtered? I think you are able to figure it out on your own. Now, is there anything else you want from me?”

As G’fen spoke of watching family die, Kordieh saw in his mind’s eye the White Star of his brother, hanging dead in space, spinning slowly on a bizarre axis. That sight had carried him into madness once … now it carried him into bitter rage.

“Oh yes, ” Kordieh breathed, “I know.” He glared at the Narn. “Is it worth it? Your new friends dead? Your mentor? Millions of people who didn’t have a damn thing to do with your precious death camps, all dead?” He was shouting now. “Does it really make you feel that much better? I cannot BELIEVE that’s all you care about, your hate.”

“Then you don’t know me as well as you think.” G’fen was not pleased with this conversation in the least. “All Centauri are guilty…every man woman and child. And anyone who happens to be on Centauri Prime who is not Centauri…are accepted casualties.”

“You’re right,” said Kordieh, white faced and shaking. “I don’t know you at all!” He fixed him with a fierce stare. “Obviously, neither did Ayeshalan.”

The mention of Ayeshalan caught G’fen off guard. “Low blow mentioning that name to me like that…”

“Don’t you think it’s a low blow to decide for Carlacci, Ryath, G’kar, and all the rest, that they are ‘acceptable losses’? I mean, I suppose if you want to hate that much, none of us can stop you. But what right do you have to decide who lives and who dies?”

“Well, since I’m not pulling the trigger…it really doesn’t matter.” There was a moment of silence. “Is there anything else you want to lecture me on?”

“Since you’re not pulling the trigger …?” Kordieh’s voice was soft again, more from shock than anything else. He looked at the Narn for a moment, then sighed, blinking sudden tears out of his eyes. His rage evaporated in a blast of hopelessness.

“No, I’m not going to lecture you any more, G’fen,” he said, his voice still quiet and full of grief. “I was glad to have you as my friend, for as long as it lasted. It’s over now. Goodbye.”

“Now wait just a minute!” G’fen said in a disgusted tone. He always knew his friend was sensitive, but this was overkill. “What kind of friend are you if you leave me for something I didn’t even do to you. I am Narn. Plain and simple. You knew how much I hated the Centauri when you met me. Climb off your high horse…I think that’s the human phrase, and pull yourself together.”

“No, G’fen, as you yourself said a moment ago, I didn’t know,” Kordieh said. “And frankly, I don’t think being Narn has anything to do with it. If G’kar — who has had his own body maimed by the Centauri — can yet live and work and serve and even forgive at least some of them, then being a Narn doesn’t have anything to do with how much you hate.

“I don’t think I’m any better than you, G’fen. That’s what being on my high horse means. But I don’t want a friend who would write me off as ‘acceptable losses’ if I happened to be on Centauri Prime.

“Dammit, G’fen,” he cried, shaking his head and sending teardrops flying, “We’re Rangers! We live for the One. Not so that Centauri can die. What matters more to you? Your hate, or what you are? Or has your hate become what you are? If that’s what it is, then I can’t be your friend any more. I dare not, don’t you understand?”

“Living and Dying for the One does not exclude the death of the Centauri, and at no point did I say that you would be an acceptable loss.” G’fen was beyond steamed. “Now, if you are finished…” G’fen motioned at the door.

“As you wish. Somewhere along the line, I’d like to know what the difference is between me and Carlacci, Ryath, G’kar and all the others.” Kordieh turned and slipped quietly out the door.

“And I thought he would be the one to not jump all over me…ah well.” G’fen sat down on his bed, retrieved the Ka’tak and began to polish it.

Copyright (c) 2003 Jamie Lawson and Nick Wistner. All rights reserved.


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