Characters: Klevetati Yoshino
Yoshino had thought she was past ever feeling loneliness. From the moment Sasaki had bled his life out over her naked body, to the moment Yoshino had found the Anla’shok, she had been utterly alone. She had reconciled herself to the feeling, she’d thought, put it out of her mind like the burning of the needle bringing color to a new section of her skin.
But in the days after word of the Army of Light’s success on Earth, when Katia became totally absorbed in preparations for her quest to Mars, it began to cut, as swift and sharp as the blades on her swords. At the moment, there was no one on the ship she really knew.
What had become of them, the people she had begun to accept as not just shipmates, but friends? Captain Hale, Kim, DeVries, Morgan … Darquin? She knew the Earth had survived, but had they? Presumably so, but the situation was still chaotic, not enough time to create all the casualty lists yet. And Katia, what would happen to her on Mars? She knew little of the Psi-Corps save that they were dangerous if crossed — her friend Kitsune had told her that often enough.
And with the loneliness, came the memories of why she was here. Everything she had done while in service to the clan, and what had happened to send her fleeing for her life. And with the memories, came the dream.
Yoshino was kneeling on the floor in the center of her quarters. Instead of her Ranger robes, she wore a white silk kimono. Before her, face hidden by the hood of his black cloak, stood the oyabun. He addressed her by her real name. "Takezo Marina, daughter of Eiji, you have dishonored your clan and dishonored yourself. You know what you must do." Yes. She knew. "Who is to be my second?" she asked. "You do not deserve one. You are fortunate that I allow you this." The voice was stern, and Yoshino cast her gaze toward the floor. She clenched her teeth as she pulled the kimono open, just enough to reveal a narrow wedge of skin from collarbones to navel. She lifted the wazikashi from across her knees, drawing the blade and flinging the scabbard aside. As she grasped the hilt with both hands, stretching her arms out to allow for the blade to turn inward, she resisted the urge to close her eyes. With no second to end her pain by a swift beheading, she must make her blow clean and sure.
On the third morning the dream repeated itself, Yoshino rose and paced the silent corridors of the Phoenix, trying to think. The first time she’d had the dream was a scant two months before, as the Phoenix was journeying into Vorlon space. In talking with Kim about it then, her first thought had been of Sasaki.
“Yoshino, do you feel you should have died for that?” Kim had asked her. And Yoshino had not. But there were all the others she had hurt, ruined, killed at the clan’s behest. What of them? She laughed a little at the irony — all those dead souls coming for her, in the form of the very one who had ordered their deaths.
She had told Kim that day, just as she had told Katia, that she had come to the Anla’shok to atone for all of that. And she had served the Anla’shok well. But had she served mindful of her true purpose? Perhaps, she had simply transferred the loyalty she gave the clan.
Then she thought again of Darquin, and the talk they had shared on the deck of the dead WS24. “Disloyal?” he’d said. “We’re only talking about rock bands, right?” She had begun to understand then, from him, that the Anla’shok were different. But had she done all that she needed to do, with that understanding?
No, she hadn’t. And it was past time to change that. The first thing to do was remember the dead and earn their forgiveness properly. And, to acknowledge her new friends. Perhaps, she thought, she could accomplish both at once.
A quick consultation of the Captain’s log showed her which White Star the Phoenix crew had been sent to. She keyed the comm and gathered her thoughts.
“Computer, record message for Anla’shok Tomas Darquin, aboard White Star 21. Begin.
“Anla’shok Darquin. I hope you and all of our people back on Earth are safe and well. We have seen the messages recording your success, and the White Star flyover. I imagine that woke a few people up!
“I wanted to ask you a great favor, if you are still on Earth, or if not, should you pass through Mars, Babylon 5, Proxima, or another Earth colony. Will you purchase some joss sticks and bring them back here for me? I would be greatly in your debt.
“I don’t wish to take too much time, so I will simply say thank you, and farewell, and I very much look forward to seeing you again.” She bowed deeply, and instructed the computer to end the message and send it.
That done, she hoped it might be safe to go back and sleep for a little while.
(c) 1999 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.