Characters: Tomás Darquin, G’fen
Darquin paused as he faced G’fen’s door, getting himself together before tapping the door chime. “G’fen? It’s Darquin. Got a minute?”
G’fen thought to himself, “I’ve got more than one…” More trouble. “Enter.” With that the door slid open.
Darquin stepped in and looked around, awash in blood-red light. “Nice place.”
“Yes, I have changed it as much as possible to make it more like home. But only so much can be done. Have a seat…” G’fen motioned to a single small chair.
“Thanks.” He took a deep breath once he was seated.
“So…Chief…I figure you didn’t come to admire my quarters.”
Darquin nodded. “I figured you’d want to know what the verdict is from upstairs.”
“Of course…” G’fen said calmly and with no emotion.
“It took a lot of thought…to figure out a way to keep you on the ship.”
“Yes…” G’fen wished he would come out and say it.
“You’re basically gonna be demoted. Your privileges are gonna be cut way back. Including your security clearance.”
“I see…and for how long?”
G’fen remained sitting there without even a glimmer of emotion. “Will I be spending…indefinite time in this room?”
“You’ll get put on a new detail pretty soon, maybe even tonight. But I gotta tell you–it’s going to take a lot to get you back into Security.”
“When I say this, I mean it with respect. I don’t understand why it will be hard to get me back into Security. How would it be different if I was a Medlab tech or an engineer? What makes me being a Security officer any different?”
“Access to security control functions, procedural stuff, tactical info. If somebody got that out of you, they could do things like infiltrate us, sabotage us, or worse.”
“Do we have such people onboard the Phoenix who would try to get them out of me? Is everyone convinced that I want the Phoenix destroyed or some such kru’sha idea?”
Darquin rolled his eyes. “Cool your jets, all right? I’m talking security, strictly hypothetical. Not everybody likes the Rangers and this ship is even less popular. You never know what somebody’ll do to take us out.”
G’fen was really wanting some good Narn liquor about now. “How many people wish to have me spaced?”
“It’s not that bad,” Darquin said with a brief smirk. “But close.”
He sighed. “I’m not exactly thrilled. Disappointed, once the anger wore off. Kinda embarrassed, to be honest.”
“Embarrassed? Of me?”
“Yes,” he said firmly. “I thought you were Ranger material. I’m not so sure now.”
That made G’fen angry. But he knew that showing it wouldn’t help any. “I have had considerable contact with other species throughout my life…but some differences are more prominent than others.”
“That’s what I talking about.” Darquin frowned. “We don’t have to like everybody. Just accept the differences and move on. We have more important things to do.”
“You don’t get it, do you? This isn’t about you being ‘different.’ This is about being Anla’shok.” Darquin edged his seat closer. “The minute you take the oath, you have to live by a code–and all the disciplines and responsibilities that go with it. You can’t just drop it. When you say, ‘I live for the One’ and all that, it’s not about the Entil’zha. The One is everything. All life, anywhere. Like what G’kar said in the Declaration of Principles. ‘We are One.’ We’re fighting to protect everyone. Even the Centauri.”
“During the Shadow War, Rangers were trained to watch them and fight them.” G’fen pointed out to the stars in his viewport. “They were a threat!”
“So were the Vorlons, by the end. So what?”
G’fen was on his feet, counting off his points on his fingers. “The Centauri have preyed on shipping lanes, destroying cargo, and making sure no one survived. They have destroyed jumpgates, tried to destroy Babylon 5, and I don’t think The Entil’zha’s Whitestar has just taken a wrong turn. Now, this sounds like an enemy to me…”
“We don’t have the luxury of going by first impressions–”
Darquin and G’fen stared each other down. After a tense and long silence, G’fen slowly took his seat.
“When I joined the Rangers,” Darquin said quietly, “there was some old expression flying around. I only just found out what it means: ‘Truth is a three-edged sword. Your side, their side, and then the truth.’ We don’t have all the facts. And we sure hell don’t know the truth.”
“First impressions and philosophy are fine for you,” G’fen answered. “I live in a different world. The Centauri spent 100 years bleeding it dry. This isn’t their first list of offenses. If you like, I can produce rock hard evidence of Centauri death camps from their first enslavement of Narn and their latest occupation–that just ended a little over a year ago.”
“I’m talking about right now. If I went by what happened a year ago or ten years ago, I should’ve killed the first Minbari I saw.”
“No offense, Chief, but until you have been enslaved, you just won’t know what it is like. Your race came very close with your war with the Minbari, so you may have some insight.”
“That’s big of you,” Darquin muttered.
“How long did it take you to not want to grind a Minbari’s skull into powder?”
He stiffened. “Altogether…ten years, I guess. After the war, I was basically mad at everything. The Minbari were just easy to blame.”
“10 years…and they didn’t even occupy your world, torture your people, murder your family.”
“Yes, I’m sure you watched your comrades die, but I have had my family murdered–”
“Don’t even go there,” Darquin warned him. But G’fen’s voice drowned him out.
“–my people tortured, had asteroids taken to bombard our homeworld. It was not 50 years ago…it was not 10 years ago, IT WAS ONE YEAR AGO!!”
“I got a newsflash for you, buddy–As of today, Narns are just as bad as the Centauri! And it doesn’t matter!”
“Just as bad as the Centauri? What are you talking about??”
“They bombed civilians! They didn’t go after military targets or even the Imperial Palace. They killed innocents–kids, old people, families. Whether they cared about the past or not.”
“Oh, and the Centauri have never done such a thing to a homeworld…they’ve never attacked civilian transports…oh, wait, they have! They have even attacked this very ship! What do you suggest we do, sit back and wait for them to do it to us again? And watch the Alliance slap the Centauri’s hands and say ‘Now, don’t do it again?'”
“See? You don’t get it! I’m not saying we should treat the Centauri like heroes, but now we can’t trust you any more than we can trust them. The hatred is more important than the hope that it could ever end.”
“I have nothing against the ship or anyone on it! If it comes between the Centauri and my orders, I will carry out my orders no matter what. I am committed to the Rangers, this ship, and everyone on it! I just want to be entitled to my own opinions!”
“In here, you’re entitled! But out there, there’s over a hundred other opinions too. If you want us to respect your opinion, you should respect ours too. We believe in the Ranger code. We wanted to save those lives. And your opinion doesn’t entitle you to show blatant disrespect.”
G’fen grimaced, skeptical. “Disrespect?!”
“Yeah. To us. The chain of command. The Anla’shok as a whole. And the code.”
“Oh…forget it. There’s no convincing you. I will be waiting here for whatever cleaning detail you assign me to.”
Darquin scowled, his voice like frost. “Deal.”
G’fen pounded his chest extra hard and gave the Narn bow.
“Before I go, a few more things. You have to hand over your uniform, your Isil’zha stone, your PPG, and your denn’bok.” He took a deep breath. “Both of them.”
G’fen was caught off-guard. “The denn’bok is given to all Rangers, no matter what their position.” He looked away for a moment. “One is a special gift.”
“Rangers are given denn’bok when they’re ready. You’re not ready.”
“I passed the Denn’bok training. Sech Te’kai deemed me ready to use the denn’bok.”
Darquin spoke each word with precision to make sure G’fen heard him. “You abandoned the Ranger code. That means you’re not a Ranger. Only warrior caste Minbari and Rangers can own a denn’bok. If you’re going to stay on the ship, you can’t represent the Rangers. If you want to keep those things, you have to prove it. To the Captain. Sech Te’kai isn’t here.”
“Am I to duel with the captain?”
“Careful, she might take you up on it.” Darquin smirked for a moment. “No, you have to show us you can follow the code.”
“Fine, I shall show you.” G’fen handed over his PPG and his denn’bok, not the one from Ayeshalan.
Darquin tucked them into his belt and held his hand out. “I said both of them.”
“Darquin…this was a gift from Ayeshalan. I can’t part with it.”
“I know,” he said quietly. “But this is the path you chose. Now we all have to walk on it. And some of us don’t want to. That’s why we’re angry.”
“What if we put it in a box….”
“Then I’d have to take the damn box,” he growled. “Keep the uniform, all right? I have to confiscate all your weapons. You painted us into a corner. We gave you all the slack we could and more.”
Damn them for this, G’fen thought to himself. “Have it your way, Darquin.” He slapped the last denn’bok into his hand. “Now, if you will excuse me, I have some reading to do…,” G’fen said coldly.
“Let’s get one thing straight. This is your way.” Darquin glared. His eyes shone with unshed tears in the red light, which reminded G’fen of a hundred thousand faces he had seen as a child. “If I had my way, you and Ayeshalan would still be in the simulators.”
As Darquin marched out the door, G’fen roared at the top of his lungs.
Phoenix–“Of Hatred Past and Present” © 2003 Nick Wistner, Joe Medina Babylon 5 tm and © 2002 Warner Bros.