Characters: Charles Cameron, Terry Hale
(Note: this story takes place at least two weeks before the events of “Brave New Sunrise“)
“Please have a seat Mister Cameron.” As Charles Cameron eased himself into the chair opposite Captain Hale, he felt a knot grow in his stomach. Like most sentient beings, he had never enjoyed first meetings with new superiors. The Captain continued, “Mister Cameron…”
“You can call me Cam, Ma’am. Pretty much everybody does.”
“I see. Well, Cam. I wanted to discuss you’re last assignment. I understand there was some trouble aboard the Gilra’en?”
Charles eyes dropped to the table between himself and the Captain. “You could say that Ma’am. One of the crew betrayed us.”
Captain Hale scrolled over the data pad in her hand. “According to your records, you’ve spent the last month in a hospital on Minbar.”
“It was closer to three weeks, actually Ma’am. But, rest assured, I’m much better now.”
“Okay then.” The Captain scrolled through the pad again. “The report here isn’t exactly what I’d call complete. I’d like to know a little more about what happened, Cam.”
The knot grew a little tighter. “Captain, there are some details of that mission that the Council doesn’t want me to talk about. I’d really rather not-”
“Mister Cameron.” Hales voice grew sterner by a fraction, just enough to get the point across. “I have gotten used to members of my crew having secrets. It seems to come with being a Ranger. But when I see that the last ship you were stationed on was crippled beyond repair, and a third of the crew was killed in action, I get a little concerned when I am suddenly assigned someone who was right in the middle of everything.”
Charles grimaced. The wound in his back, while mostly healed, began to throb with every heartbeat. “Yes ma’am.” He took a deep breath to calm himself. “Do you know the primary mission of the Gilra’en was to locate any leftover First One tech?” The Captain nodded affirmative. “Okay, we were investigating a planet in the Midrange, Belekthir 2. It had been a staging ground during the last Shadow War, One-thousand years ago. Valen himself led most of the attacks from there.”
“How come I haven’t heard of Belekthir before, if it was so important to the Last War?” inquired the Captain.
Charles raised an eyebrow. “The Shadows blew the planet to Hell. Apparently it was a surprise attack and Valen was lucky to get away in time. The Minbari and their allies left some stuff behind, and that’s partly what caused the trouble.”
“What do you mean?”
“One of the Minbari Rangers, Tulonn, found some…documents, apparently written by Valen himself. Tulonn was from the Second Fane of Na’eramath…are you familiar with them, Captain?”
Captain Hale nodded. The Second Fane of Na’eramath was a sect of Religious Caste Minbari who were extremely strict in following the teachings of Valen. They were one of the first to join the Anla-Shok one-thousand years ago when Valen first formed them. They were also one of the first groups to be attacked when the recent Minbari Civil War broke out. Almost all of them were killed by the Warrior Caste when hostilities broke out in their home city of Fe’elenor.
Charles continued. “Tulonn was the only survivor from his family after the Warrior Caste destroyed his home city. He joined the Rangers, partly because he had nowhere else to go, and mainly because he wanted to follow in Valens footsteps. Captain, he ate, slept, and breathed Valen. Well, we found some old documents on Belekthir, and Tulonn was the ships Linguist. He found out that one of the Documents was written by Valen himself. That first night, when Tulonn found out who had written the document, well Ma’am, I’d never seen him that happy.”
Charles face darkened a bit. Pouring a glass of water for himself from the pitcher on the table, he took a long drink. “Captain Hale, the Council has sworn me to secrecy on what the contents of the Valen documents are. I haven’t read them myself, only Tulonns journals. What I know of why Tulonn did what he did comes from the journals he left behind. Suffice it to say that when Tulonn translated the document, what he found there completely shattered him. After losing his family, his Faith in Valen was all he really had to keep him going. The contents of that Document were apparently more than he could take. Tulonn went back to the Gilra’en and sabotaged the reactor, nearly blowing it in half…a lot of good people died. I tried to reason with him, but he…he told me he wasn’t going to be stopped by a Human. We fought, he won…and he gave me this…” Charles stood and moved his brown Ranger duster and tunic to the right to show the Captain the six inch scar in his left side, “and then he then stole a shuttle and took off. If it weren’t for the Healer aboard ship, I would have died before the rescue ship came. Next thing I know I’m back on Minbar in a medbay. A few weeks later, I’m here. And that is the end of my story.”
Captain Hale scratched her right eyebrow in deep thought. “So Tulonn is still out there?”
“His shuttle was never found, so as far as I know, yes Captain. And he very well might be looking for me, trying to finish the job.”
“Well, if he does come, he will have me to deal with first, Mister Cameron. The Phoenix is one of the ISA’s most powerful vessels. And I look after my crew members…no matter how shortly they have been with us.” Standing, the Captain extended her hand. “Welcome aboard, Charles.”
The younger Ranger stood as quickly as his injury allowed and shook her hand. “Thank you, Ma’am. I am glad to be here.”
As Charles walked through the corridors of the Phoenix that lead him to his room, he recalled something he was taught the first day of training at Tuzanor. “A half a truth is worse than a lie.” he said to himself. He had lied to the Captain about not reading the Valen Documents found on Belekthir. He had lied about the reason Tulonn had tried to kill him and the crew of theGilra’en. Entering his quarters, Charles called to the computer terminal. “Access encrypted text file. Passphrase, “Don’t call me Shirley.” Tulonn’s personal journals opened onscreen and Charles began to rean them again, for what seemed like the hundreth time.
Tulonn’s personal journals had shown that he did not like the idea of Humans being allowed into a sacred Minbari tradition like the Anla-Shok, but he tolerated them because he believed in Valen. When the Documents he translated told of the true origin of Valen, as the Human Jeffrey Sinclair, Tulonn felt violated. “My whole life I have followed Valen” he had written in his journal, “and he has been a Lie. The peace between the Three Castes was imposed on us by one of THEM! One of the Humans! And as the Minbari were before Valen, I shall become again…”
Charles reached into his backpack. Among the few clothes and personal effects he had packed, he found what he was looking for. Pulling the small cylinder from its holster, he depressed the triangular button. The Fighting Pike extended with a click-woosh. Charles grinned as he retracted the weapon. Walking over to the small refrigerator in the corner, and pulled out a reddish-amber colored glass bottle from his secret stash, opened it and took a long drink. Wiping the beer bottle across his forehead, he said to himself, “Someday, old buddy. I’ll be ready for you next time…”
Babylon 5 TM and © 2002 Warner Bros.
Phoenix–“Half Truths” © 2002 Neil Armstrong