Why art thou so frightened, stranger? ... Is there that about me which should affright a man? – H. Rider Haggard, She
“You really meant it, didn’t you?”
The tall Minbari woman turned, her foot still resting on the step up to the sleek fighter craft she piloted. Her stern expression changed as she recognized the older Minbari standing nearby, setting down a box of tools.
“Arven’dra! I didn’t know you served here!”
“I could say the same,” he said as he bowed over steepled fingers. “Welcome to the Phoenix, Ayeshalan.”
She turned to face him completely, returning the greeting. “And just what did you mean, ‘I really meant it’?”
“Your eye. You told me you would never let them replace it.” The quartermaster smiled as he looked her over. Very little had changed in the years since he’d seen her last — the jagged, forward swept points on her headbone were a little longer, the mottling across the top of her head a little darker perhaps. But the gaze from her left eye was as brightly fierce as ever, and the grey satin patch remained where her right eye had been.
“Then you are correct,” she said. “And I have never repeated the mistake which cost me the eye — so it was a wise choice.”
“I doubt your clan thought so.”
“They did not,” she said. “But the Anla’shok seemed to think that my wish to serve was more important than my appearance. And so, I have served with them for nearly nine cycles.”
“The Anla’shok have changed much in that time.”
Ayeshalan smiled, hearing the invitation to comment in Arven’dra’s observation. “I surprised myself. I like the humans. They bring a … freshness to so much that they do, like children who never lost the sense of wonder. And … they gave me a nickname. One told me once it was from some of their literature, but I’m not sure I believe it.”
“What is it, then?”
“She who must be obeyed.”
© 1999 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.