If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things. – Henry Miller
Ryath knew she couldn’t dock on Babylon 5 as they were. She would have to find alternate transport, or disguise her Flyer. Having considered alternate transport and deciding that to stop might be a mistake (she’d made too many recently), she had fallen back to disguising her Flyer.
A simple illusion would be enough for CNC, and most who might look at her Flyer in passing, but a detailed investigation would show it for what it was. But having little choice, she proceeded with the illusion.
She had piggy-backed with a Brakiri Freight ship through the jump-gates. “Babylon 5, this is Brakiri Freighter Aromni, requesting permission for three to embark.” She had practiced her Brakiri for the last couple of hours, and hoped that the slight Brakiri accent was enough to not send up a flag of suspicion.
“Babylon Control to Brakiri Freighter Aromni. Send a shuttle, permission granted. Docking bay 3. Control out.”
Well that went well! she thought, and instructed her Flyer to move away from the freighter.
The illusion was working, there was no warning from Babylon 5, and no indication of powering up from the ships around them. Her Flyer had been disguised as a Brakiri shuttle, and would remain so until it was back out in Hyperspace. After maneuvering into Docking bay 3, Ryath returned to the cargo hold where Peter and Mira were resting.
Exhausted after the rescue and their escape from Centauri Prime, Peter slept fitfully. Scattered images of the day before flashed through his mind in dreams.
...He had to try several of the card keys at the door he wanted before it slid open, the grinding of ancient gears awakening the cell's inmate. Carlacci's fingers were already pressed to his lips, begging for silence as Mira opened her eyes, sat bolt upright and gasped. She struggled feebly to stand, caught in that moment between waking and awareness. The once cheerfully plump doctor looked as if she had been whittled into a different woman, old and bitter.... ....the first missile came down. It was a screaming, flaming mass that impacted on the wall and blew a twenty-meter wide section apart, sending a wave of superheated air and stone fragments flying in all directions. The Mira-that-was would have squeezed her eyes shut in fear of the speed and close calls, but this one stared at her world with hollow eyes that could no longer weep. They shot through the cloud of debris and flames; then out into the countryside. She glanced back to the city. Buildings were missing; fire consumed other buildings and people. Those lucky enough to have escaped the tombs of house and ministry ran screaming in the streets.... ....Peter and Ryath could hear Mira whispering softly, almost silently. "Take them unto your sweetly perfumed breast and shelter them from the cares of this world. Bathe their foreheads with the waters of forgetfulness that they can return to us renewed. Sweet Goddess, Lady of the Starlit Sky, do not forget us, do not cover your eyes..." Peter didn't know what deity Mira spoke to, but he could feel the power in that quiet prayer....
He startled awake, feeling a sudden deceleration. The Flyer must have made the transition from hyperspace. He checked his chrono, which tallied. “We should be at Babylon 5,” he said to Mira.
Mira nodded. She hadn’t been able to sleep, even as exhausted as she was. So she sat propped against the wall across from where Peter had been napping. As she watched him sleep, she slowly nibbled her way through the various packets of food he had found for her before succumbing to his body’s need.
Peter sat up as he spoke and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. When he smiled at her, she smiled back, and for a moment seemed unchanged by the time between them. “Peter. I’m so glad to see you again. I’m also beginning to understand the Minbari custom of watching a lover sleep.”
Mira’s smile softened as she leaned forward. “I want you to know….”
The door opened ahead of Ryath, and as she walked in she heard their hushed voices. She had resisted the urge to spy on them over the last 24 hours. She was curious about courtship, had read many things about it, but had never really had experienced it. Yes, Vheru had courted her, or that is what Olyn had called it when he had paid much attention to her at a convocation.
She stood in the doorway and coughed. They both stopped talking and looked at her, empty packs of food and drink strewn between them. She could see they had spent every minute of their time together catching up and re-affirming their relationship.
Looking at this neatly put together young technomage, Mira suddenly realized that she must look like hell and probably smelled worse. All thoughts about what she had been about to say fell away before the realization that she was at less than her best. Food had done a lot to restore her to a thinking rational being, and although Peter’s attention was a much needed balm to her soul, she needed something a bit more mundane. A shower and a depilatory would be nice.
She resisted the urge to scratch at her fuzzy head. Instead, she pushed herself to her feet.
“Thank you, Ryath, Peter. I don’t think I ever believed that anyone would come for me. I am very grateful that you did. It’s a bit churlish to ask for more, but I would dearly love to clean up and nap a bit. I don’t suppose there’s a spare cloth and a cup of water? Anything would be an improvement.” She tried to smile. It had been such a long time that it almost felt unnatural. Almost.
Ryath looked more closely at Mira. Shaking her head, she said, “I’m afraid we haven’t really time for that here. But…” she pulled two small plastic cards from her pocket and handed them over, “These will get you both past security. And as soon as we’re all through I’ll arrange for some accommodations. Techno-mage style!” She smiled.
Peter smiled back, at the same time patting Mira on the shoulder. “Once we find quarters, we can both get cleaned up,” he said. “I have got to get the rest of this stuff out of my hair. It killed my comb,” he added wryly.
Mira peered at him. “What is that stuff in your hair?”
“Ryath told me it was the stuff that Centauri men use to keep their hair standing up,” he said. “Worked great, but it itches like all hell.” They started toward the doorway.
“Truly? I don’t think I ever paid attention to what the men did to their hair.” Mira smiled softly. “You gave me a turn, though, when you came into my cell. I thought I had lost my mind and was imagining your face on my jailers.”
Copyright (c) 2003 Mona Hinds, Niki Hipwood and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.