Characters: Katia Santiago, Tomás Darquin
The sound of the other telepaths in her mind was almost deafening. It had been quite some time since she had allowed her defenses to be down at all, let alone with so many people around. But, in the quiet recesses of her mind, she had to admit that there was still part of her mind that she held closed off. The pain seated in her heart at the loss of her daughters, her dreams, was in a tight little ball, she wasn’t ready to reveal to anyone.
Byron continued talking to everyone as she sat in the back of the room, contemplating just what he was saying. The concepts he espoused were strong enough. And peace without the complications of technology, or fear for her life was definitely a strong draw on her aching need. A silent tear slowly found it’s way down her face, the pain of the lose of her children mingled with her need to be a part of something larger then herself … and then her fingers brushed against the Isil’zha … Dunstan’s pin, and she realized she needed to get away from these people to bring all of this into perspective. Byron was very persuasive, and if she stuck around with him, she knew she could easily be talked into something she may regret later.
Katia walked through the corridors of Downbelow, not too concerned if someone were to try to attack her. So far what Byron had told her had made sense, but when she had actually stopped to analyze what he had been talking about, it started worrying her. The concept that telepaths were superior to mundane individuals was not something new to her … after all she had heard it all the time while in the Corps. But, she had thought she was above that sort of thinking since joining the Rangers. That she could fall prey to that particular way of thinking after all this time was very worrisome to her.
Her thoughts were in turmoil, and she wasn’t sure where she could turn. Maybe if she talked to Kim, she might be able to control her own thoughts. The pain and anguish from Mars was still so new, and she knew that, combined with the wine hadn’t helped her defenses at all when trying to process Byron’s offer. She wanted so badly to take him up on it … to have a place where she didn’t have to had behind a wall would be like heaven.
She finally found herself at a lift and entered, ordering the lift up to the Zocalo. Maybe she could find one of those she was here with and she could put this all in perspective. So few hours ago, it had made perfect sense, she had even agreed. Now, she wasn’t so sure.
The lift opened up onto the Zocalo, letting her exit into the mass of confusion as people traveled back and forth about their business.
Darquin sat in the Eclipse Cafe, enjoying a sandwich and tea for brunch. He had been relaxing the past few hours, just trying to enjoy what was left of his time on B5. Very few things had gone his way ever since he arrived, but sustaining himself until it was time to leave seemed the most practical thing to him. Dwelling on Marcus’ death or Bev’s giving him the gate achieved nothing, wasn’t even his style anymore. As a soldier and as Anla’shok, he’d gotten used to making the most of the moment he had, leaving the past to itself. His future was arriving on the next shuttle to Minbar, and there was little to do until his present took on an interesting shape of its own. He glanced around the Zocalo, casually munching away.
Katia wandered around the Zocalo, hoping she would run into Kim or anyone else from the Phoenix for that matter. She just felt she needed to talk. As she walked past the Eclipse Café, she glanced to her right and caught sight of Darquin inside, eating a sandwich. She hesitated a moment until she saw him perk up upon seeing her. He waved her over. She smiled slightly, surprised by the positive response and angled over to him.
As Katia approached, he hurriedly munched down the rest of his sandwich and pushed out a stool for her. She took it gratefully, wincing, her head pounding a bit from the drinks she had had earlier.
“How are you today, Darquin?”
“Hi. I’m doing okay, thanks. Any word on our ride to Minbar?” he asked.
Katia shook her head. “Nope, nothing. Then again, I haven’t exactly been paying attention like I should. I rented a room, but haven’t actually been there yet.”
“That’s life on B5 for ya,” Darquin replied with a smirk.
“I wouldn’t know,” Katia said with a slight smile, “I have never really frequented the station before.”
She paused while the waitress walked over. After she had ordered a bowl of hot cereal and received her cup of coffee, Darquin replied with a slight frown, reaching for his own tea, “I used to be stationed here. If I knew you wanted a tour, I’d have shown you around.”
Katia couldn’t help but snort at that. “I sort of received an impromptu tour…”
At the tone in her voice, Darquin stopped short. “Everything went okay?”
“It was an experience. I had no idea there was a group of teeps allowed asylum here on B5,” she answered slowly as she bit at her bottom lip.
“Yeah, I heard about that. I wonder what they’re like,” he said to himself.
Katia glanced down at her coffee cup. “They are doing their best to live in peace. Now, if the world would just allow them to …” She drifted off at that.
“You met them?” he asked, watching her closely.
Katia nodded. “It appears I actually knew several of them at one point in time.”
“Wow … It must’ve been nice, seeing them again after all that’s happened. Maybe now they’ll have a chance on their own.”
Looking a bit troubled, Katia took a deep breath and dove into her doubts. “Darquin … if you were offered a chance to leave all this … to live in peace and serenity … to have all your past pain alleviated … would you take it?”
Darquin sat back, confused by the question. “I guess I’d at least think it over. But then, I’m not ready for that kind of life to begin with. Maybe after a few more years in the Rangers,” he added with a shrug.
“I was offered the chance at just that … a chance to never have to worry about … well, life in general, I suppose,” she said and then snorted in self-deprecation. “It almost sounds to good to be true, to tell you the truth.”
As Darquin considered what she had said, he began to frown, “Katia, I don’t know you that well … but can I be totally honest here?”
Katia glanced up at him, her face totally open to him when she replied honestly, “I don’t think I would have come to you and talked about this if I wanted it any other way.”
“Okay. Well, the thing is, any time someone offers to free you of all the world’s worries … my feelings are to run like hell.”
“Even if that person was once a friend? I tell you the truth, much of what Byron says has a ring of truth to it,” Katia argued slightly.
“And I sure hope he’s onto something. I’m not a telepath, but I know the sort of stuff the Psi-Corps likes to do. But telling people he can solve everyone’s problems just like that?”
“He truly does know what is going on out there. And only wants to help those under his care,” Katia argued.
“C’mon, that’s the way Clark and Nightwatch used to talk!”
Katia glanced down, troubled. “Isolationism…”
“And running people’s lives–telling them what to think, never questions orders, the works.” Darquin sighed, trying to relax. “Look, maybe I’m not the best to ask about whether it’s a good idea to join anything. And maybe Byron’s ideas will work. But hell, you ever watch the Council meetings on Babcom? Even ol’ blood ‘n’ thunder Sheridan’s got the guts to let people contradict him.”
“Fear of anyone who is not like you.” Lost in thought, Katia mumbled, “Why should I not trust you simply because you are not a telepath … that isn’t right either.”
Darquin looked sharply at her, a shadow rolling across his face. “Excuse me?”
It was then Katia realized she had spoken her thoughts and shook her head, deflecting his question. “Nothing…” She glanced up at him before continuing. “The Rangers have given me a home. Why would I turn away from that? And… we have been stationed on the same ship for over two years now. Even thought I haven’t been exactly the model crewmember, all of you have bent over backwards to help me when I needed it most.”
At that, Darquin relaxed a little. “Katia, you do what you have to do. I’ll be there regardless. But if you want my take on what Byron’s people told you–I mean, are you sure this is really from Byron?”
Katia nodded, “I spoke with Byron himself. At the time, much of it made sense … but as I mulled it over, it just didn’t seem right.”
“I was hoping he was actually doing something down there,” Darquin replied with a shake of his head, frustrated. He shoved his plate aside. “Dammit.”
Katia leaned forward to him. “I did not mean to upset you as well, but I had to have someone else’s take on some of this. I don’t think there is much we can do about it. I’m sure Sheridan’s people have it well under control.”
Darquin sighed. “I hope so. Sorry, it’s just that … let’s just say I have a personal grudge with the Psi-Corps too.”
“I … I didn’t realize. I am sorry.”
Smiling weakly, Darquin returned, “Nah, it’s okay. I was just hoping for something besides them… starting a new local branch.”
“Maybe that isn’t what’s happening. Maybe, like Byron wants, they will be able to find a nice quiet, out-of-the-way planet and settle down.”
Darquin leaned back against the bar slowly and nodded. “Always nice to have a home. If I knew how to help, I would.”
Sighing, wishing she was able to help the telepaths as well, she replied, “That would be nice.”
The pair sat there for a few moments, Katia finishing her cereal, lost in her own inner contemplations of the past few hours. It had at least given her something else to be contemplate other than her loss, but the pain lingered.
Suddenly, Darquin broke into her thoughts. “So, what’s this Byron like?”
Katia put her spoon down and stopped to think. “He is very charismatic. His passion almost makes you want to believe what he says is true. I never noticed that magnetism before, but it is definitely there now. He has a way of making his words fit the situation… no matter what the situation.”
“Whew…. and they said Sheridan was bad.”
“Maybe when you add that to his other abilities, it is a dangerous combination.” Wavering, she hesitantly picked up her spoon. “I don’t know. I am almost glad we will be out of here soon. I don’t want to be here when it all comes to a head… because I am sure it will,” Katia said sadly.
“That’s a nasty thought. If it all goes up in flames, there’ll be hell to pay.”
Katia closed her eyes and sighed, “I know.” She smiled slightly to herself as Dunstan’s face appeared behind her eyes, realizing she had made the right decision for herself.
Picking up his tea, lost in thought, Darquin said, “I just wish there was something I could do.”
Katia opened her eyes and looked at him, “We can’t fix everything…” Katia said very grimly, referring not just to Byron but to her daughter’s as well.
Smirking, Darquin bantered, “I dunno, we only just got started.”
Not able to help herself, Katia chuckled and replied, “What, are we planning on saving the universe now?”
“As long as they form a single file line …” Darquin said with a shrug.
“And only bring us their problems one at a time?” Katia snorted, “Like that will happen!” The humor was evident in Katia’s voice … perhaps for the first time since before she left for Mars.
“Well, if you don’t ask, you don’t get,” he said with an evil grin.
Katia just shook her head in amusement at that. Then she changed the subject, wanting nothing more then to put distance between herself and B5, “So, should we check on our transport out of here, or wait for Kim to hunt us down?” she asked with a smile.
“Let’s check on that ship. I’d like to think Kim’s got better things to do…”
Looking at him in mock confusion, Katia said, “You mean some of us might actually have a life?”
Darquin, glancing around furtively, a grin evident in his eyes, “Shhh, or else everyone’ll want one.”
Katia chuckled and then became serious after a moment, “Thank you.”
“Seems the least I can do,” Darquin replied with a smile.
(c) 1999 Tamara Friese and Joe R. Medina. All rights reserved.