Characters: Katia Santiago, Dunstan Kordieh
Heaven send Hell away No one sings Like you Anymore... – "Black Hole Sun," words and music by Chris Cornell
Dunstan Kordieh lay in the dark. He’d blown out his meditation candles some time past … hours, possibly many. At the moment, he neither knew nor particularly cared. It had been one of his black days. He’d woken with the full weight of over a hundred dead bound to his shoulders, and it had taken most of the force of will he had to follow his program and attend his classes and work assignments.
He had managed to slip away from everyone after the evening meal, murmuring something about private studies. And he had tried. But everything around him seemed to remind him of the weight, of the blackness. In the end, there was nothing left but let it close around him, and pray that time would let him rise to the top once more, like a swimmer caught in the undertow.
The last thing he was expecting was the knock on the door. “What is it?” he managed to say.
“Kordieh, there is someone here to see you,” said the young man in the robes of the religious caste who stepped through the door. He appeared quite unruffled by the darkness surrounding him.
“Me? Who is it?”
“Anla’shok Katerina Santiago, I believe.”
“Mon Dieu!” And in that instant, Kordieh understood the meaning of shock therapy. He stepped off his bed, kicking something that had fallen on the floor. He could just make out the silhouette of the Minbari in his doorway.
“Should I send her in?”
“Stall her a few minutes first.”
Kordieh drew a deep breath. “Please ask her to wait for a few minutes before coming in. I need time to compose myself.” The Minbari bowed and departed, leaving Kordieh in darkness that was suddenly much different.
Katia stepped into a room very much like the one she remembered from her own training in the Anla’shok. This one, however, showed distinct signs of being hastily tidied — clothes thrown in a basket, books, scrolls and data crystals piled haphazardly on the small side table. A single dim lamp burned overhead, lending the room a friendly glow. She entered the room slowly, smiling slightly at the one she couldn’t seem to get off of her mind lately. Her friend, perhaps her only true friend.
“I didn’t mean to wake you, Dunstan. How are you doing?” she asked him.
He smiled gently. “I wasn’t asleep, actually. I think I’m all right. Very surprised, of course.”
“I wanted to see how you were faring. And, needed to get away from the ship for a while. I hope it wasn’t a bad surprise,” she said tentatively, hoping he didn’t mind this sudden, unrequested visitation.
He shook his head. “No. Quite the opposite, I think. Probably done me a world of good.” He pointed to the one soft chair in the room. “Have a seat?”
She moved over and sat down on the chair, feeling more comfortable around him then she had before. “Thank you.” Then she glanced up at him closely, feeling a deep turmoil within him, and a bit of depression. “Are you sure you are okay?”
Before answering, he tilted the bed to lie flat, wedging it with a piece of clothing. Once perched on the edge, he said, “As I said in my message to you, I have my black days. This happened to be one.”
“I’m sorry… I wish there were something I could do to help you through days like this,” she stated softly, looking at him deeply, finding she truly meant the words as they escaped her mouth. What is happening to me? she wondered of herself silently, not for the first time.
The response she got was surprising: a wry grin. “Well, you’re here, aren’t you?”
Katia chuckled slightly, “I suppose I am, yes.”
“I admit, most of my thoughts run toward making small talk, avoiding anything important,” he said. “But what would be the point?”
“Probably not a lot, considering our frame of minds lately,” she answered as she bit her lower lip thoughtfully.
“You’re going to go look for your daughters, aren’t you?”
Katia glanced down and nodded slightly. “I have no choice, Dunstan! I can’t just leave them there to be brainwashed and trained into that way of life!”
“I’m hardly trying to discourage you. If … ” his voice trailed off abruptly.
She glanced up at him in question, “If?”
“If what we have seen in our futures does in fact come to pass, you will be successful.”
“Yes… but, part of me wonders, deep down, if perhaps now isn’t the time. I am so confused, but yet I can’t just sit by and wait, either.”
“It is … frightening to know — or at least to see — your own future. It makes you second guess everything you do, everything you say … or don’t say.”
Katia glanced down and nodded solemnly. “Yes, it is… a hard burden. Yet, also an uplifting one to have hope again. For the first time in years.” She glanced up at him again and continued after a minor pause, “I just wish I knew what it all meant… who…” she shook her head as if trying to clear it.
“Talk to me,” he said softly.
With a small smile, she began, “It’s just… there were four people there… two were Kayla and Kira… one, the baby…” she shook her head in amazement at that one, remembering what Mira had said so long ago during her physical: that she would never be able to have children. “And then one more…”
He nodded slowly, and drew a deep breath before looking her straight in the eye. “I know,” he said, trying to pack as much meaning into as few words as he could. After a few weeks of speaking almost nothing but Adronato, it wasn’t entirely easy.
“He was there for just a split second before I made my jump back…. I feel as if I should know who it was, yet….” she shook her head as she paused, “I don’t know, I feel as if I am lost, trying to live in a future that I don’t even know will come to pass. I question everything that happens, if I am doing the right thing. And, yet, I still can’t help but continue to think of him..and who he could be. I have even begun dreaming about it.”
He shook his head. How could she be a telepath and not understand, he wondered. He had to speak clearly, and accept whatever consequences would come. Given the state she was working herself into, it was better for her to know the truth, than to be tormented by the mystery any longer. He could only hope it was the right time.
“I know,” he said again. “I know who he is.”
Katia blinked slowly as his words flowed over her and finally penetrated into her consciousness. “What?? How…Who?? But….” her mind was in total confusion as she waited to hear his answer.
“Because I know who the woman was — will be? — in my time-slip. I was too lost in my own delusions to recognize her face, but I remembered her name.”
Katia continued to watch him in confusion, her mind on the verge of accepting … something … but, it still eluded her as she tried to reach for it to pull it into a coherent thought.
“Her name,” he said quietly, “was — is — Maia.”
She sat back in the chair, as the implications of what he said finally sunk beneath the surface of her mind. “But.. that’s…” Katia glanced down as she let the idea flow over her.
“Yes, it is,” he said.
She glanced up at him finally, a small hint of a smile on her lips, “Maybe that explains a lot. But…”
It was his turn to look at her in confused silence.
“I have been so confused these past couple weeks… about the feelings I have been having. You have no idea how your last letter lifted me up.” She stood then and walked a few steps away from him, her mind in a whirl of emotion. “Every time I have thought about it… my feelings… I couldn’t figure it out.”
“I think I know what you mean,” he said wryly, letting his head rest on one fist. “But … you should know what it’s like. You’ve been married. Had children. Other …. other lovers, for all I know.”
She turned to look at him a bit sadly. “Dunstan… my marriage to Nathan was a sham… a way for the Corps to try to control me… and, it almost worked. As for any others… yes, there was one,” she paused, thinking of William with sadness, but not the overwhelming anger or despair she had in the past, “Things were different with him. This… is totally new to me as well.”
“I never saw my children past their birth… and have been told it is impossible for me to have any more children. I had given up relationships as lost for me.”
“I … couldn’t lose what I never had.”
“But…” she began hesitantly, then continued, “you have it now. And, you aren’t going to lose it.”
He smiled. “As long as you can bear with me through my … ineptitudes.”
“Ineptitudes? I don’t think I would call them that… a gift maybe, for all we can learn together… but, never ineptitudes.” It was her turn to smile.
“As you wish,” he said.