After keying in the override to open the door, Morgan walked into Ayeshalan’s quarters. The room was small and simple, furnished only with a Minbari-style bed tilted against one wall, a desk and chair, and a small cabinet. There was a small holopainting of a Minbari city hanging near the desk, beside an advertising poster for the Mutai.
She started to think of Terron, but pushed it away — if she broke down now, this would never get done.
She went first to the cabinet. It contained a spare uniform, a few informal clothes, and two blue and silver dressing gowns.
Morgan blinked. The dressing gowns weren’t what she expected, but then, she didn’t know what she had expected.
Packing the clothes neatly away in the small crate she had brought for the purpose, Morgan then turned to the desk. Inside she found Ayeshalan’s cred-chit, a few holoplates — including one from the wedding which showed herself, Ayeshalan, Terron and his bride Duvanyi — and a small box, with a handwritten note attached to the top.
Morgan looked at it. In bold Minbari warrior caste script, it read, “If I do not return, this box and its contents are my legacy to Anla’shok G’fen.”
She scowled. It took an effort to be charitable, rapidly becoming a vain one.
On her way out the door, the box under one arm, she tapped her link. “Ship, page Tom.”
When he got Morgan’s page on his link, Darquin knew something was up.
Before they were Anla’shok, they were in EarthForce. They’d only just gotten onto a first-name basis after a year or so, serving on the same ship. On ship’s business, it was still Morgan and Darquin.
Today she paged him as Tom. Private. Big problem. Probably both.
He met her in one of the meeting rooms near the main bridge, where she filled him in and gave him Ayeshalan’s note.
“That’s what I thought — G’fen?” Morgan shouted. “A plague on the stiff necks of the dwarfs?”
“So, uh, you read that report…?”
“Of course I did,” she said sharply. “This is my ship.”
“Yeah.” He started massaging the back of his neck. “Uh, well, I did my best to not to paint him in too bad a–”
“I guess not,” he muttered. “Kinda hard to make a Narn this close to chon’kar sound good.”
She nodded at the box. “I can’t even tell what the damn thing is.”
“Want me to scan it?”
Darquin rubbed his face, thinking. Good thing Kim was a few decks down. “Well…we sure can’t open it.” He waited. “I can give it to him.”
“No, I will,” Morgan said, quick and insistent. “Just…keep us at a safe distance.”
G’fen made his way down the corridor as ordered, and he came upon Darquin at the door of the conference room. “Chief.”
“Heya,” Darquin said with a smirk. “Glad you could make it.”
G’fen had been around humans long enough to recognize what Darquin was getting at. “I’m sorry, Chief. I was hung up in Medlab, won’t happen again.”
Darquin waved it off. “Okay, just keep it down to every once in a while. C’mon. This is important. The XO’s got something for you.”
“Okay, Chief … ” G’fen said with a significant amount of nervousness.
“Relax, she’s pretty safe,” Darquin said, “…as long as you don’t push your luck.”
Darquin and G’fen headed into the conference room.
Morgan was perched on the edge of the conference room table, waiting for them. She had managed to calm down enough to be civil, but she couldn’t guarantee how long that would last. When the door opened, she uncrossed her arms. “Anla’shok G’fen.”
“Shok’na-li Morgan.” G’fen gave the traditional Narn hand gesture and bow.
“You have been left a … a box.” She picked it up, gave it another odd look, then tossed it to him.
Completely off guard, G’fen nearly dropped it. “A … box?”
“Yup,” Darquin said. He took the opportunity to cross the room as if leading the way. G’fen wasn’t going to notice, the state he was in. But that was the idea, to put himself between G’fen and Morgan without making it obvious. “We’re not sure what’s in it. But it’s addressed to you.”
“A bequest, if you understand that word,” Morgan added.
G’fen had expected some form of reprimand, but not this. “I see … and you have no idea who sent it?”
“Oh, we do. We just don’t know why.”
G’fen suddenly became queasy. “It’s from …her?!”
Darquin nodded. “Ayeshalan.”
“But…I … I don’t understand.” He was flustered to say the least.
“We don’t either.” Morgan’s stare was hard, but uncertain.
“Maybe you should … check it out.” Darquin gestured to the box.
G’fen didn’t care a bit for the stare Morgan was giving him. “Check it out … right.”
He slowly lifted the lid. Inside, there was a slip of paper, wrapped around something small and cylindrical.
G’fen carefully unwrapped the object. He noticed there was writing on the paper, but when he saw what it enclosed, he was too shocked to stop and read. Sliding out of the paper, it dropped into his dark hand and revealed flowing Minbari script engraved in weathered metal. It was a folded denn’bok, the Minbari fighting pike. It looked like a very old one.
“By G’quan …,” G’fen said with amazement.
Darquin gaped up at Morgan, then back at G’fen.
Morgan blinked, startled. That was the last thing she had expected.
“I ah … I ah, don’t know what to say.” A variety of emotions were surging through the Narn. He then turned his gaze back to the paper, uncurled it, and read.
G’fen nearly lost his lunch right there. The guilt, the sadness, the disgust in himself … almost too much to bear. His face became white … as white as a Narn face could be. G’fen almost cried. If it wasn’t for what remained of his shattered pride, he would have. A long moment passed in silent reflection. What to do now?
Despite his first impulse, Darquin kept his place. Whatever Ayeshalan’s message said, it was between them. And he knew how thorny a Narn’s pride could be.
Had it not been for the incident earlier, Morgan would have left G’fen to his inheritance, but she waited him out.
The gaze of Darquin and Morgan were weighing heavily on him. What to say? What to do?
“Anything you need?” Darquin said. He tried to sound casual.
He realized Darquin was talking to him. In a light emotionless voice, “No … nothing. I must be going…”
Darquin nodded. “We can talk later. Maybe.”
“Yes … yes…” G’fen slowly left the conference room for his quarters.
Morgan let out a breath, then looked down. G’fen had left the note. She shouldn’t read it, but it was tempting.
Darquin spoke with reluctance, embarrassed. “I can … have him tailed.”
She shook her head. Quickly, before she could really think about it, she grabbed for the note and flattened it to read it.
“Need a few minutes?”
Morgan read it, then swallowed. Instead of answering, she handed him the note.
The writing was in Interlac, written in a bold hand:
Anla'shok G'fen -- we have suffered a grave misunderstanding. I have learned to my people's great sorrow what can come of misunderstandings if not rectified. Know that I intended no insult of your race. I only wished to challenge you personally, to be the best person you could be, worthy of being an Anla'shok. If I cannot tell you this myself, let the gift of my own denn'bok -- which has passed through 15 generations of my family -- speak for me. Use it well, Anla'shok G'fen.
Darquin read, a lump growing in his throat. His voice was slow and thick. “It keeps coming back to this.”
“I….” Darquin looked around, about to set the note down before he stopped himself. He didn’t know what to do with the note, the room, himself. “I hope this war ends soon.”
“Ie.” She sighed, rubbed at her eyes.
G’fen sat in his quarters, the lights dim, remembering the fight with Ayeshalan … the words on the note. What haunted him most was his earlier conversation with Dunstan Kordieh: “That damned Minbari said her race was better than mine!”
If only he had known…
Phoenix–“Legacy” © 2003 Nick Wistner, Leslie McBride, Joe Medina
Babylon 5 tm and © 2002 Warner Bros.