Ryath led the way off the Flyer. She walked much like she currently looked — an ‘Earthforce Special OPS Marine’ in black tank-tee, black pants and black lace up boots. The short, cropped blonde hair on her head, which she had stimulated into faster growth, just added to the image.
She turned back and watched the others disembark, then turned to her ship. She was pleased with the illusion. She hadn’t been sure it was correct until this moment.
When the others joined her she spoke with authority. “Ok. I’ll go through security first. Create a little distraction. Mira, you follow right behind, followed by Peter. Those ID-cards will fool the system, and most of the menials that get entry duty, but just in case someone else who actually looks closely at us and the cards is on duty, we’d best cover all bases.”
She turned and strode out of the docking bay.
Peter looked at Mira. “I guess we’re supposed to be in her custody or something,” he said. “Heaven knows we both look the part at the moment.”
Ryath slowed a bit to allow the others to catch up; still it didn’t take them long to reach the security check. The guard looked bored, like he had spent the last six hours standing in that very same spot, looking at the hungry and desperate that seemed to descend on B5 in times of trouble. She felt sorry for him, knowing if they succeeded in getting through, and were later found out, he would be dragged in front of the Captain to explain himself.
Casting a quick glance behind her to see the other two were with her, Ryath moved forward. She handed her ID card to the guard.
“Terrible isn’t it?” she asked, her tone crisp ans clear like the Marines she currently looked like.
The guard looked up from her card. “Er…What?”
Ryath indicated the bedraggled arrivals around them. “That so many gotta leave their homes for safety. You’d think they’d rely on us to protect them, but no! Want things their way. Well, I’m tired of it. I told the Captain herself — Bring on my squad, we’ll repel any incursion onto B5.”
The guard was getting red around the collar. She was definitely having an effect on him, and he was trying not to cause a scene.
“But even the Captain wouldn’t have us here,” Ryath continued, finalising her plan. “I told her, you know those security guards are all well and good for in house disputes, but when a Centauri vessel is pointing all guns at your station, and there’s no obvious way to stop them, then you’ll be calling for help!”
The guard’s features changed at the mention of the Centuari. His scowl changed to a self-satisfied smile. “You haven’t heard then?” he said, trying to smother the fit of laughter boiling in his chest.
“Heard? No…what?” This is so easy. she thought.
“The Centauri have been attacked on their homeworld. Centauri Prime is gonna be dust by the time they’ve finished. Won’t need your ‘help’ after all.” He couldn’t hold it any longer. He puffed up with pride and a broad grin stretched from ear to ear.
Ryath looked dejected, and moved off quietly. Perfect. He should want to boast the whole time I’m in view. The others should slide through without much of a glance at their ID’s. The guard watched her cross to a map of the station, his left hand stretched out, waiting for the next ID card.
Mira had learned a long time ago to not attract attention. She acted the way she looked, a bedraggled refugee that didn’t look the guard in the eye. She quickly shuffled off to disappear in the crowd, when he gave her card a cursory glance and handed it back.
Peter watched as Mira passed quickly through, her hooded cloak concealing the fact that she was Centauri — just as well, under the circumstances that Ryath had created.
Then he stepped up, it taking little acting to play the part of a weary, beaten down refugee. His own identicard and cred-chit were concealed deep within his clothes — as was his Isil’zha, badge of the Rangers. This would have granted him free passage aboard the station in minutes, but it would have required explaining Mira — who had nothing left to identify her status. Far quicker and easier to follow Ryath’s plan.
And it worked. Soon, they had left the checkpoint behind and rejoined the technomage. It looked like Ryath was searching the map for a particular location. Her eyes roamed, and her fingers occasionally touched the screen. What she was actually doing was accessing some of the probes left by other Mages on their last visit here.
She knew that if a probe was to be used by more than a handful of Mages, there were several generic access codes used to allow the Mage to gain the information inside the probe.
She currently had ten probes feeding information directly to her: several in docking and cargo bays, some in the casino, and a few others in strategic areas such as the Captain’s office, the brig, and the security data base. The one she was concerned with right now was in the database of the office that leased living quarters. She was arranging for them to be quartered as close to the Ambassadorial level as possible.
“Aha!” She smiled and turned to Mira. “You’ll have your wash soon enough, and in style. Thanks to the Psi-Corps. Follow me!”
Mira shot Peter a confused look before shrugging and following the technomage. The ways of mages were mysterious, who was she to question one.
Ryath led them in comparative silence to the quarters she had ‘arranged’. Only occasionally did she hear them talking together, but was never close enough to hear clearly.
She stood outside the door, ran her right index finger across the top of the lock, depositing a couple of probes into the device. One was programmed to unlock the door, the other to monitor activity outside it. The door swung open, revealing quarters that were more than adequate for the three of them.
Ryath followed them in, scanning the inside for other probes and bugs. Finding nothing, she sat on the large sofa.
“You two have the bedroom. I’ll be guarding the door.” she said casually.
Peter managed a smile. “I’d blush, but I’m too tired. Call me if you need a break.”
Mira blinked and processed that comment for a moment before she did blush. She actually started to stammer a protest as Peter gently took her by the arm and steered her to the bathing facilities. Suddenly being confronted with the idea of being clean again for the first time in more than a week rendered her speechless.
After spending a few moments contemplating the state of her court dress, Mira decided that it wasn’t worth saving. The under dress, made of a lighter plainer material, could be washed and dried quickly. It simply would have to do. To any other race, it would be a perfectly normal loose fitting dress with a lovely dye pattern. Only a Centauri would recognize it for underwear. Ah well, she thought, I can survive a few snickers. It’s not like I haven’t had practice in that before.
A little more than an hour later, Mira emerged, cleaned, dried, depillitated and feeling a great deal more normal. Catching sight of Peter, she started to apologize. “I’m sorry for monopolizing the facilities for so long. I just haven’t had a bath for about a week and it was almost a spiritual moment.”
She gifted him with one of her old bright full smiles and motioned him towards the shower. “You might have a difficult time with the hair. I’m not certain how often the men clean their hair.” The dismayed look on Peter’s face elicited a giggle, before she gave him a push and closed the door behind him.
Copyright (c) 2003 Mona Hinds, Niki Hipwood and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.