Death In the Family

Characters: Margaret Morgan, Terron, Duvanyi

Though they were part of the same training group, their schedules were not identical, and so it was that as on most days, Duvanyi arrived at the quarters they shared shortly before her husband Terron did. After slipping off her shoes, she sat down on a bench near the door, trying to massage some life back into her lower legs. She was still learning proper defensive techniques with the denn’bok.

At least she knew how to fall properly, she mused, looking up to see her comm unit blinking. Surprised, she rose and went to it, her eyebrows rising further as she realized it was an off-planet message. “Open,” she said, and the screen blinked into life.

Morgan appeared on the viewscreen. But not the confident, if nervous, one who stood with them at their wedding. Something had defeated her in the short time since that. “Terron, it’s … Margaret. I can’t do this… Please call me, when you get in. We need to talk.”

Duvanyi frowned, feeling a sudden tightening in the muscles at the base of her headbone. She had not been able to make a detailed acquaintance of the human at the wedding feast, but the change in her demeanor was painfully clear.

There was bad news brewing.

The door opened and Terron strode through, grasping his bride boldly about the waist and turning her halfway around before he sensed the dark mood. “What is it?” he asked.

For answer, she played Morgan’s brief message. The two Minbari locked gazes in front of the screen. “What is Morgan’s post on the Sorna’silat?” Terron asked.

“Shok-na’li.”

Terron murmured something — it sounded like it was in Drazi — before quickly instructing the comm to return Morgan’s call.

It took a few minutes for Morgan to be tracked down, but she took the call immediately. “Morgan here.” She hadn’t asked, but was dreading talking to who this probably was.

The scarred face and dark eyes of Terron looked out at her from the screen. Over his shoulder, she could see Duvanyi. “Shok-na’li Morgan,” Terron began, then caught his lip between his teeth, searching for the word in English. “Father. What has happened?”

My God, I can’t do this, she thought, frantic. All she wanted was to run to her quarters and hide. Every time she had to speak to someone it tore into her control. “Please, just Margaret. I… There is bad news. Your mother…” Morgan looked at the ceiling, took a deep breath.

Duvanyi looked into the face of the stricken human, then into her husband’s, which was slowly assuming the same expression. The muscles at the back of her headbone tightened a bit further, as she spoke the words none of them wanted to. “She’s been killed, hasn’t she?”

Ie. Yes. In battle, with the Centauri. Terron, I…” ‘Sorry’ seemed a foolish thing to say, so she stopped.

“And what of the Centauri?” Terron’s voice sounded cold, and harsh, even to him. It was the voice with which he challenged in the Mutai, the voice which silenced all derisive murmurs about “weak Minbari.”

Eyes wide, Duvanyi reached out to catch his arm, but then drew back. This was between Margaret and Terron; they had to make their peace in their own way.

“Gone,” Morgan answered quietly. “We are Rangers — we don’t take the death of our own lightly.”

Terron nodded, suddenly lowering his head and looking away from the screen.

She took a deep breath, looked at the screen again. “I’m sorry. I wish I could have done something.” Part of her was sure she had done all she could, but it seemed a very small part right now.

He turned back toward her, eyes glistening. “You did all you could,” he said. “When we commit to serve, we all know our lives are part of the pledge. Ayeshalan knew that too.” He pursed his lips, thinking. “We will have her memorial when the Sorna’silat returns to Minbar,” he said. “Duvanyi and I will make the arrangements.”

“Thank you. I wouldn’t have any idea what to do, if it’s even…” She stopped, shrugging. “I don’t know a lot of things, right now.”

Terron blinked hard, then looked at Morgan with his head tilted a little to one side. “Such as?” he asked curiously.

She sniffed, then sniffed again. “What to do now. How to deal with… family, I guess, over this.”

“Family as in our family? Duvanyi and I?”

Ie,” Morgan sighed. I was proud to be asked to stand with you at your wedding, but I don’t know what it means now. And I’m too tired to think.”

Terron considered a moment. “Then don’t,” he said. “This is not a time to think, anyway. It is a time to mourn. When you come back to Minbar — then we can all think.” He offered her a smile, which suddenly seemed eerily familiar in its fierce cheerfulness. “Your presence in our family does not end with Ayeshalan passing beyond the Veil. It ends only when we are all passed beyond. And Duvanyi and I … we would not have it otherwise.”

Morgan’s eyes widened — she wasn’t expecting that. She had to turn away from the screen and cover her face. “Diolch. Thank you.”

She heard Duvanyi’s voice next, quiet over the link. “You’re welcome. Rest now, Margaret. We’ll speak again soon.”

There was a soft chirp as the connection closed.


Copyright © 2002 Jamie Lawson and Leslie McBride. All rights reserved.