Glancing over his shoulder, the Starfury pilot said, “We’re cleared to land, doc. You might want to start gathering your stuff so it’ll be easier to carry.”
“Thanks,” Doctor Lanconi said. “I was lost in reviewing the personnel records. I never expected that I’d be on a ship with such a large crew. Much less being in charge of the medical department. Any word on who’ll be meeting us?”
“Not yet. Would you like me to check?”
“No. They’ll do things the Minbari way.”
The pilot laughed, “Right. Let you know after you needed to know.”
Dr. Lanconi laughed at the pilot’s joke. “I sometimes think that’s the case. OK. Everything is stowed. Do I need to assume some sort of landing position?”
“Naw. I’ll have landed and you won’t even know it.”
Dr. Lanconi looked out and saw the Phoenix up close. “Great Maker, I never realized how big she’d be!”
“Yep. And she’s a beauty.”
A minute later they had stopped in the hanger and the fighter was moved to an enclosed area for them to enter the ship. Kaldo undid his flight harness and started to exit. As he stood up outside the fighter he looked around.
As he made his way out of the docking bay, a human woman stepped up to him. She was a little shorter than he, with long hair that was nearly pure white and pale skin to match. “You must be Doctor Lanconi,” she said. “We were notified that you were arriving. I am Yoshino Marina, in charge of ship’s operations. Welcome to the Phoenix.”
“Yoshino Marina.” He repeated her name to make sure he remembered it and said it properly. “Yes, I am Dr. Lanconi. I am overwhelmed by the size of the Phoenix. She is much larger than anything I imagined. Is there any sort of procedure I’ll need to follow?”
“There’s nothing too specific you need to worry about,” she said. “I thought perhaps I could show you Medlab One and Two, your quarters of course, and any other part of the ship you might want to see right away. We’ll also stop by the Station House so Security Chief Darquin can give you your link and access codes — that is, if he doesn’t find us first!” Her smile bore a distinctly fond expression. “Will that suit you — or do you need some time to rest first?”
“I don’t think I could possibly rest right now. Too much to see and too many people to meet. First, let’s stop by security or my quarters if they are on the way to security. I’ve found that security types prefer to be among the first to greet the new folks. After we’ve dropped my things off at my quarters, I’d like to see Medlab One and get to meet any of the medical staff there. I’d expect that the captain would like to see me, also.”
“I’m sure she will,” Yoshino agreed. She consulted the datapad in her hand. “Your quarters are up on Deck Five,” she said, “and the Station House is on Deck Seven, so the Station House it is! The lift is this way.”
They walked the short distance to the lift. The door opened after only a moment’s wait — but there was someone already inside. A mischievous grin spread across the tan face of the Ranger in front of them. “Howzat for service, huh? C’mon in. You must be Doctor Lanconi! I’m Security Chief Darquin. You’ll probably see my name a lot in the medical files,” he added with a half-nervous chuckle. “Anyway, I can help you get your access up and running whenever you’re ready.”
“We were heading to see you to make sure everything was in order, Chief Darquin. I would hope that your name appearing frequently in the medical files doesn’t mean that you are an unlucky fellow. I’d hate to have to spend an inordinate amount of time patching you up. Why don’t you lead the way and we can chat as we walk?”
“Sure, this way. I dunno about me being unlucky,” he chuckled. “Wouldn’t surprise me though. The Medlab crew has been here a while, so they can help you till you get a feel for the Phoenix here.”
He snuck in a quick smile for Yoshino. “Hi, Marina-chan.”
“So Chief, what can you tell me or what questions do you have for me to answer?”
Darquin shrugged. “Security-wise? I don’t have much in the way of questions for ya. Between the background checks done here, Babylon 5, and in Tuzanor, we got a good picture of what you’re capable of. Like the business on Raghesh 3. Now that took guts,” he said with a grin.
Dr. Lanconi laughed, “Looking back, I’d say a lot more stupidity than guts.”
“Been there, done that. Now you know where all my injuries came from. One question. Kinda difficult one. I suppose… your family hasn’t kept in touch with you? I got the impression you were on the outs with them, even before you joined the Rangers.”
Dr. Lanconi replied seriously, “I would say that as far as they are concerned, I’m dead.”
Yoshino, who had been listening to the conversation while consulting her datapad, looked up. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I know what that feels like.”
“Thank you, Yoshino. But, I have made many new friends and hope one day that my family will see the truth.”
“Amen to that,” Darquin said. “We’ll watch out for them when we can. We’ve all got friends and family somewhere, so I like to keep tabs on them. Someone could use them to get at us.” He grew quiet. “It’s been known to happen.”
He went back to his usual buoyant demeanor. “Here we go, first door on the right! Let’s take care of your access.”
“Thank you, Chief. I’d like to get all the formalities taken care of so I can meet with the MedLab personnel and get to work.”
Taking him past workstations and hologram schematics of the ship, Darquin led them through the Station House till they reached his office. There, he showed Dr Lanconi the quickest ways to get his voiceprint and passcodes recorded.
“I’m routing your activation to Medlab One,” Darquin told him. “That way, you can try out your voiceprint on the commscreens there. Your team’ll be waiting for you. If there’s a problem, buzz me anytime!”
“Thanks, chief. And should you ever need my services, call me. I do make house calls. If there is nothing else, I better get to MedLab and meet my folks.”
He headed off to MedLab 1. Upon arriving, Dr. Lanconi looked at the sheer size of the place and stopped as he tried to understand the sheer size of his new responsibilities.
Yoshino, who was still with him, gave him a few moments to begin taking everything in before saying, “Doctor Brannon was transferred back to Minbar. She had to leave just before you arrived, but she did send her regrets at not being able to hand over things personally. I’ve let Healer Daanike know that you are here — normally she handles Medlab Two — and she is on her way up here now. I’ve made a note of the location of your quarters — you should see it waiting on your personal terminal. I’m afraid I need to attend to a few other things, but if you need more help, please just link in!” She bowed and turned to leave.
“Thank you for all your help.” He began exploring the MedLab. His offices were just in front of him, past a small waiting area. Beyond them were the beds for patients undergoing treatment — all of them, fortunately, empty at the moment.
As the main entrance door opened, he turned back toward it and saw a very unexpected thing: a small, hand-constructed shrine to the Centauri god S’ran-to.
The person who had come through the door was a Minbari female, who looked at him and smiled as she bowed over folded hands. “Welcome to the Phoenix, Doctor Lanconi,” she said. “I am Daanike, presently in charge of Medlab Two.”
Dr. Lanconi returned the bow. “Thank you for the welcome, Daanike.”
“It is a pleasure to serve, Doctor Lanconi,” the Minbari said. “I have been with the Phoenix for several years. I began as a nurse and not long ago passed my exams to qualfy as a physician.”
“Excellent. We will need to update your records as the ones I have still show you as a nurse.” He added, “I especially like the shrine you have set up. It is most thoughtful. Would you be so kind as to give me a tour of the facilities?”
“Certainly,” Daanike said. “The shrine came from our last CMO, Doctor Trassano. She was a Centauri like yourself. To be honest, we hadn’t the heart to remove it — but now that you are here, it’s just as well.”
“Ah, yes. I will see that it is properly maintained.”
As Daanike showed Dr. Lanconi the medical facilities, he asked questions to make sure he understood their capabilities.
After the tour was concluded, Dr. Lanconi asked, “Shall we sit down and go over anything that I’ll need to know as far as schedule and status?”
She nodded, and they returned to the office that was now Lanconi’s. “We only have a few patients at the moment, who suffered minor injuries in an incident on the planet below,” she said. “They are all recovering well and could probably be discharged from Medlab at any time.”
“I am glad to hear that our skills are not in great demand and the injured are doing well.”
“The only other … issue … which you should be aware of, I think, is the status of one of the orderlies, Dunstan Kordieh. He is … on probation, is the best way to describe it. Presently he works the third shift, 2300 – 0800, but you may change his shift if you wish. As you may with anyone in Medlab, of course.”
Dr. Lanconi frowned. “I was unaware of any problems. Please, let me see the full report on Dunstan Kordieh and why he is on probation. Also, who assigned him to probation?”
“You should be able to access his report from your terminal,” Daanike said. “It is … somewhat complicated. Dunstan Kordieh was involved in an … incident … aboard the Phoenix about a year ago. He was dismissed from the ship and returned to Minbar. Before we departed on our mission to Rolui, the Anla’shok Council ordered him back aboard.”
After Daanike had gone, he turned to the terminal on his desk and began a search. A few minutes later, he found himself looking at a file.
To: Terry Hale, CO cc: Margaret Morgan, XO/Tactical cc: Anla'shok Council From: Tomas Darquin, CS, RS Phx Sub: re: Kordieh status Date: 12 Oct 2261, Earth Calendar Background: In March 2261, White Star 24 was declared missing in action while investigating possible hostiles in Vorlon space (last contact from grid 927 x 6 x 13). The RS Phoenix entered Vorlon space on a search- and-rescue mission, only to find WS24 and her crew floating dead in space, apparently killed by hostiles. Said hostiles have been identified only as former servants of the Vorlons, raiding hidden Vorlon installations for technology. Among those lost on WS24 was Ranger Lucius Kordieh, twin brother of RS Phx Asst Engineer Dunstan Kordieh. The loss of his brother was the final trigger that set Dunstan off into a delusional state. Engineer Kordieh began sabotaging the Phoenix's defense systems, killing another engineer in the process. Not satisfied, he went on to plant explosive charges in key locations on the ship's inner hull. While we were making first contact with the Vorlon servants, he found out his charges were being disarmed and then detonated the remainders. The Vorlon servants activated some of their stolen Vorlon tech, including some kind of timestream distortion field. Caught in that field, everyone aboard the Phoenix was sent forward or backward through their individual timestreams. Kordieh's sabotage apparently confused the hostiles, giving the Phoenix a chance to respond before they could use the weapon system that destroyed WS24. Security Analysis: Ranger recruitment offices should include at least one person familiar with xenopsychology. Kordieh joined the Rangers early in the group's reconstruction under Entil'zha Jeffery Sinclair. Minbari recruiters, especially in the grips of the new Shadow War, shouldn't be held responsible for Kordieh's entry into our ranks. But if we have to watch for alien threats, we should start by cleaning our own house. Security teams aboard the Phoenix will be regularly drilled to detect and thwart attempts at sabotage. When battle repairs are completed, I will lead a series of section-by-section sweeps until satisfied. Any successful acts of sabotage are now my responsibility, regardless of circumstances. Kordieh must be watched carefully for an indefinite period of time. His mental instability makes him a serious threat to the Rangers, from within and possibly from the outside if he's sent out of the order. He must not be allowed access to sensitive data networks, mission-critical systems, or command/control stations. Update, 11 Aug 2262: Since the bombing incident, I've conducted research and e-mail discussions with professionals in the field of human psychology and psychiatry. Dunstan Kordieh was probably suffering from some kind of dissociation effect at the time. Depersonalization disorder is the term that keeps coming up in my discussions. If I understand this, Kordieh apparently didn't have a strong sense of identity even before he lost his brother. One specialist suggested it might be the "result of separation trauma as a consequence of psycho-neurological dependency on the twin sibling." Another even suggested a possible latent telepathic connection between the unborn twins, but medical records don't refer to any signs of telepathy. Encounters during the timestream distortion generators and the recent Brakiri Day of the Dead celebrations have apparently changed Kordieh for the better. He's shown no signs of delusions, has helped construction work in Tuzanor, and made friends with some of the younger Rangers. Kordieh's presence near terrorist bombing of the Mars Embassy in Yedor looks coincidental. Further investigation by fellow crewmembers and myself haven't found a direct connection between him and the bomb. The possibility of Kordieh staging the event seems remote at best. In his current state, Dunstan Kordieh seems nervous but stable. He's pretty shy and retiring for covert or paramilitary ops. Sometimes he even comes off as sheltered like a teenager who hasn't seen a lot of the world, let alone the galaxy. Assigned to medical, he gets along with his shipmates and does a good job. I'm not sure he's quite ready for field operations, but he's definitely capable of serving the order in a support capacity. If his emotional state improves, it's possible that he could serve in the near future as a trusted technician. More observation is required. Anla'shok Tomas Darquin Chief of Security, ISA Phoenix
Dr. Lanconi sat staring at the end of the report for some time. His fingers drummed on the desktop. What to do? What to do? he wondered.
Dr. Lanconi set up his schedule to have a chat with Kordieh, when his next shift ended. He then went to his quarters and got settled in. “Computer, set alarm to wake me 2 hours before meeting with Mr. Kordieh. Lights off.”
Copyright (c) 2004 Sidney Kuhn, Jamie Lawson, and Joe Medina. All rights reserved.