Characters: Miina Awenata

Joy. Pure and unmistakable joy. She could not help but feel it. Again. She had left the observation deck quickly after the funeral, lest anyone gaze on her beaming face, lest she do dishonor to her fellow Rangers in her crewmates eyes. She tried to search her mind for the source of this overwhelming feeling that had intensified with each name that was read from the White Star’s crew. With every detail of the funeral service, her feelings had intensified, until she had wanted to… to… sing.

For a moment, she was a small child. The heat of the campfire warmed her face and illumined her long, black braids. She lifted her eyes to just beyond the flames height and began to sing, a solitary child’s voice raised in prayerful chant, surrounded by the beauty of the night.

She fought the memory at first, wondering where it had come from as she sat in silence on the floor of her quarters, but her mind was racing, as if she was pacing back and forth like a criminal frantic with decisions. What was happening to her? And why were her emotions dreadfully confused? Everyone else had been so quiet, so sad.

She looked down at her hands, the only outward sign that something had truly happened to her, and turned them over and over, searching for answers in the soft, unblemished skin. She wondered if anyone had noticed. Perhaps she should have at least told one of the doctors. How long had it been now? Indeed, how long had it been since someone noticed her at all? She almost smiled, for at 6 foot tall, with her ample body weight, she was hardly one whom someone would miss, even, as Tadewi used to teasingly point out, if she stood sideways.

But that was not quite true. For she had been invisible–until. What? It was difficult to put it into words. And it had been such a private matter. She smiled as she wondered if anyone had suddenly noticed that they had gained one more engineer on this White Star she found herself on…found herself a part of.

During the service, she had gazed out into the stars from the observation deck, trying to find something on which to focus, to center her feelings, to bring them back to where they should be. But she only succeeded in waking the child within her once again, and suddenly, the childish voice, not burdened with circumstance or the weight of years, again filled her ears. “I love the stars, Grandfather. Sometimes they sing to me.”

Emotion clutched at her throat, her eyes grew hot, and the greatness of starry expanse was overwhelming. But now instead of fighting for control any longer, she simply spoke deep in her mind, “I may have forgotten how to listen for a time, but I am listening now.” And now, seeds of joy welled up from the depths of her soul and sang a silent song of beauty, and peace settled over her like a mantle of silk, filling all the empty hollows of her mind.

There was no shame in what she felt. This joy, this celebration of lives. For the crew of the White Star had not died in vain. Frightening, cold deaths though they appeared, death was not the only thing that they represented. Each had a life with joys and sorrows of their own. Each had their reasons for joining the Rangers. Each had fulfilled a burning desire, to do something for the good. And to that end, they had all succeeded. They were all heroes, and rightfully deserved a hero’s end. And each one of them, she was most certain, would do the same for her, had their roles been reversed.

With a deep breath, she roused herself from her thoughts. She did not even ask the computer what time it was. Katia was probably in Engineering, and Miina knew that was where she belonged too–to continue their search for answers. Katia. She smiled. That was the first time she had ever thought of Chief Engineer Santiago by her first name. How very un-Minbari of her.

She instantly thought of Kerel, her Minbari friend and Ranger mentor, and of her oft-spoken words. “Embrace, but do not bind.” Only once had Kerel given any more explanation than that, and suddenly, her words rang so true that Miina was astonished she had not understood before. “You learn quickly, Miina, but perhaps too quickly. You are holding on to Minbari ways so tightly, you lose yourself. Embrace, but do not bind.”

“Dear patient Kerel,” Miina whispered, her eyes suddenly brimming with the acknowledgment, “I finally understand.”

Just then Miina’s link went off. “Miina, please report to my office, we have some work that needs to be done.”

Miina’s fingers hovered over her link for an instant, and an answer flashed across her mind. “As you wish, Chief Engineer Santiago. I am leaving immediately, and shall endeavor to be of assistance.” She tapped her link. “I am on my way, Chief. Miina out.”

Copyright (c) 1998 Judy Caswell. All rights reserved.


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