How Does It Feel To Be One of the Beautiful People?

Characters: Singing Wolf, Tomás Darquin

Dodging human and Minbari medics passing in and out like bees in a hive, Tomas Darquin found the Medlab aboard White Star 33 amazingly busy. The rush to evacuate most of the White Star fleet of their wounded rendered Medlab space a rare and precious commodity. When the Rangers, Minbari, and many of the other races moved quickly to rescue survivors of the space battle days ago and sent them back to their people, there were still more than enough wounded to occupy the White Stars that remained in Earth orbit. So like several of her sisters, White Star 33 had become a medical mercy ship, packed to the rafters with suffering and desperate acts of compassion.

Darquin volunteered to transfer convalescing patients by shuttle to White Star 21, his current assignment. Now it was time to take some of the burden from the brothers and sisters of mercy. Darquin craned his neck around the doorway to White Star 33’s medlab facility, afraid that a passing medic might run straight into his face. He slipped in before the next wave of foot traffic ran him over. He caught a nurse in mid-flight and blurted out a patient’s name before the nurse could complain. Once he got the answer he was looking for, with an equally abrupt apology he gingerly navigated past bloodied surgeons, toward the occupied cots propped up at an angle.

“Um… Singing Wolf?”

She shifted in her bed, lost in fitful sleep.

Darquin’s eyes wandered over the medlab, in search of alternatives. “Dumb question, but….” He moved a little closer, speaking gently. “You awake?”

Her eyes opened slowly and turned to him with a confused expression on her weary face. “I know you…?”

“Uh, well, kinda. My name’s Darquin. I helped get you out of your fighter.”

Singing Wolf nodded slowly. “I think I remember…. It is still so unclear.” She reached out to him. “Thank you, Darquin.”

Smiling, he took her hand. “You’re welcome. Always glad to help another pilot. Or Ranger.”

She gave his hand a tight squeeze and guided her hand back to her side. “Please, sit down. I’m afraid I know no one here, and everyone has been too busy to let me know what happened.”

“Well….” Darquin sprang to snatch a chair from the other side of the aisle. “Lemme see, if I tell you anything you already know, just flag me down. First, the war is definitely over and everyone’s friends now. Officially, anyway.” A wicked grin appeared on his face.

She sighed. “But how long will it last.” She took a deep breath and spoke in the same low tone she’d used to address herself. “Were there any survivors from White Star 18?”

“A few,” he said. “By some miracle, some bulkheads came down and stayed pretty solid, even through the fight. They managed to seal a few sections off.”

She closed her eyes, whispering, “Pilamaya, Tunkashila…,” and turned her attention to Darquin again to explain. “When I saw the ship explode, I was certain there would be no one who survived.”

“I don’t blame you. It took a real pounding, all right.” He smirked. “Let’s hear it for Vorlon and Minbari tech, I guess.”

For the first time, Singing Wolf took a close look at Darquin. “Where are you from, Darquin?”

“Arizona. Born and raised, in the Flagstaff arcology. I was in Earthforce for a while, pilot training, before I went AWOL and ended up with the Rangers.”

“I’ve heard of Arizona,” she said with a nod, “from a Navajo family who lived near us. They said it was beautiful. Where I grew up, there was only my people. Humans of other races were not welcomed, as our elders spoke of them being evil, only out to destroy us. I didn’t question this as a child. I listened to the stories telling of the wars and promises broken. Now, I know that most humans don’t see any difference in race among themselves. Now they hate the aliens. The same as 500 years ago… only someone new to hate and fear.”

He nodded gently, pain and sympathy on his face. “People’s hangups seem to get better preserved the more people hide ’em.” His demeanor brightened as a thought struck him. “But we might be up to a good start for once.” When Singing Wolf looked at him with a questioning expression, he remembered that she hadn’t heard the news yet. “One of the other things that happened while you were out. The Non-Aligned Worlds disbanded and joined up with Minbar, Narn, the Centauri–everybody–and started a new Interstellar Alliance.” He chuckled, pointing to her and tapping his Isil’zha pin. “We’re legit now!”

“That….” Hastily, then with caution, she sat herself up. “…is amazing. I had no idea things would change so quickly.”

“Me neither!”

“Maybe there is hope for the galaxy after all.”

“Lord knows we need it.” Darquin leaned back into his chair, letting its front legs leave the ground as its back met the next bed. “Now that we’re in charge, we have to make it ourselves.”

Singing Wolf nodded, her eyelids fluttering under the weight of fatigue. “How strange, to be working in the light….”

Darquin grinned, saying gently, “Maybe this time without so many shadows.”

As she drifted back to sleep, he resolved to make it an extra smooth ride back to White Star 21. A demonstration of perfectly smooth and level piloting might help him live down the Townshend pivot he pulled after the Earthdome flyover. Good thing Singing Wolf never saw that. He waved a pair of Minbari Rangers over to help him carry her into the shuttle, looking at the tranquility that surpassed the mask of bruises on her face as a wave of gratitude rushed through him.

(c) 1999 Joe R. Medina and Sam Stephens. All rights reserved.


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