Isn’t Life Strange

Characters: Tomás Darquin, Dr. Kim Matsumoto

Coming in from the corridor, Darquin paused to wave to someone outside before he turned and walked quietly into the meditation room. He’d found her all right. Kim was sitting on the floor, facing the familiar pattern of stars. But judging from the reflection, she wasn’t seeing it; her eyes were closed.

He watched for a while, unconsciously smiling at the view of the blue and white sphere outside, thinking he could think of it as home again at last. Captain Sheridan had said it all: We have come home.

After a moment Kim noticed his presence. There was no missing him for long, with his entrances always heralded by the strains of music that filled his thoughts, this time a flute on a tranquil sea of cellos and violins. “I’m surprised you found a moment to escape.”

“Hm? Oh, just barely! I was on White Star 33 waiting for my fighter to get patched up, then they told me to haul my butt back here, so I hitched a ride on a couple of rescue shuttles. I’ll have to get my ‘fury outta hock later.” Darquin stopped a moment to hear a festive tangle of voices outside. “Wow, everybody is really jazzed around here. I wonder what’s going on.”

“I know,” Kim chuckled. “It’s crazy, isn’t it? I don’t think I ever expected to be here again, much less openly.” On the floor she turned enough to look at him.

“I know… I half expected to come into the system from the back door, like before.” Darquin wandered over to share the view, looking out at the face of Earth glowing blue onto the window. “It feels more strange than my first trip to Minbar,” he said softly.

Kim nodded in agreement. “I’ve heard that we’ll actually be given proper leave… after some demonstration for the press conference planned down there.”

“Yeah, I heard.” Darquin smiled. “I can’t wait to see what’s going on now. That’s… kind of why I was looking for you. A favor? When all that’s over with.”

Kim’s eyebrows lifted curiously. “Of course. What is it?”

“Well, it’s about the business with my parents. I found out who the Psi-cop is.”

As bluntly as it was dropped, Kim’s speech failed a moment before asking, “How?”

Darquin shifted his feet, realizing what a mental bombshell that fact really was. “All the going back and forth through time we did. In Vorlon space. I got a hold of him and got a name. For all I know, he’s even waiting for me like he said.”

Kim absorbed it a moment, then unwound her legs and stood. “What is it you want to do about it?” she asked with a hint of worry.

“I want to see him. He can tell me what really happened. But I… I hate to ask, and if you want, you can say no and I’ll be okay with it…. But I was hoping you could come with me.”

Kim couldn’t have denied that she hesitated then. It was impossible not to have some misgivings. After all, this was the Psi Corps…and a Psi-cop at that. Her defense would be a tenuous one if she became a target. But… “Do you really think it will help?”

Darquin shrugged. “I dunno. To be totally honest, my first thought was just kinda selfish, I guess. I wanted to have someone else there with me.” His smile was a lopsided one, filled with embarrassment.

Kim was a little embarrassed herself to assume he was asking for a telepath, not a friend’s help. She knew him better than that. “Well, if it’s what you want to do… I’ll be there,” she said with sudden decision.

“Thanks, Kim. For what it’s worth, I think we can handle it if it got out of hand.”

“Well, we’ll find out at any rate,” she said wryly. She stepped close to the observation window, near enough to feel the chill from the void just held at bay. “Are you going to see your family, too?”

“Yeah… but before I do, I’ve got to see if what’s-his-name is going to tell me anything they wouldn’t. Or couldn’t.”

Kim grimaced. “I hope they weren’t a part of it.” She knew too well the burn of family betrayal.

Darquin nodded grimly, half to himself. “Still, it’ll be a kick to see what they think of all this.”

“‘Kick’?” Kim repeated incredulously.

Darquin smiled and shrugged. “They don’t even know I’m AWOL from Earthforce.”

Kim shook her head. “We’ll, we’re all going to be a seven-day-wonder down there. Let’s just hope this isn’t all on ISN.”

“But did you see the latest? They got the old people back!”

“I saw… some of the broadcast anyway. I’m a little surprised they’re even alive,” Kim said. “Well, most of them.”

“Yeah.” Grim thoughts and recent memory put a damper on his enthusiasm. “I didn’t expect that. Still, it’s nice to see ’em back. I think I really needed it… maybe like a lot of people.”

“I guess it was easier to remove hope. Paint it in a way there wouldn’t be any disappointments,” Kim said quietly.

Darquin paused, considering her words. “I guess I wasn’t expecting much either.” He laughed softly for a moment. “Now we’re one of the levers that moved the world.”

“The Universe has quite the sense of humor, does it? Or is it the perverse….”

“Sure, I’ll take the laughs where I can still get ’em.”

Kim snorted softly, then glanced aside as a ship-wide announcement came over the comm system. She didn’t quite recognize the voice, and stopped trying as the words sank in.

“All hands report. Prepare for short-range hyperspace jump.”

Half-jokingly, Darquin said, “Oh please, oh please, someone gimme a chance to buzz Earthdome….” He tapped his link on the back of his hand. “Four-eleven Dar–I mean, Darquin reporting in.”

Kim smiled to herself, doing her best to conceal it, as he shrugged. He had slipped in Babylon 5 Security’s four-code.

The voice returned, this time with the hesitant surge of a building, anxious excitement. “Prepare for Atmospheric Jump. I repeat, prepare for Atmospheric Jump.”

Kim let out a short incredulous laugh. The only place that fit the bill was Earthdome. Darquin glanced toward her, then into the link he said, “Need anyone at the helm?” For Kim, he crossed fingers on his link hand and jokingly grimaced.

Kim didn’t wait for a reply on the other end. “And if they don’t, you’ll pull them out of the chair, right? Come on, let’s get to the bridge.”

She hooked her arm around his and led him to the doorway.

(C) Copyright 1998 Alida Saxon and Joe R. Medina. All rights reserved.

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