One Man Sees Red, the Other Sings the Blues, Part 1

Characters: Margaret Morgan, Dunstan Kordieh

Morgan was on the bridge, breathing a sigh of relief. The word had come up that the technomage had gone back to her ship. As far as she was concerned, that was a good thing — the sooner they could all focus on what might happen when they reached Rolui, the better off they all were.

Her console blinked, announcing an intraship message. The voice, its tones and an almost inbred hesitance, were quite familiar now. “Anla’shok Morgan, I know you’re on duty, but I need to speak with you. It’s important.”

Morgan hesitated, concerned, but her response was automatic. On duty, all of the crew was her concern. “Of course, Anla’shok Kordieh. I will meet you in my office, at your convenience.”

“I’m on my way then. Thank you, I really appreciate this.” The channel closed with a quiet chirp.

Worried, she didn’t move at first. She knew history all too well. No. If he’s talking, then that’s progress. Before stepping away, she called down to the galley and begged for some of the precious tea stock.

She hadn’t been long in her office when Kordieh arrived. While his clothes looked fresh and neat, there were dark circles under his eyes, and a livid bruise across his nose. His gaze flickered around the room uneasily. “Thank you for taking the time to see me,” he said.

She bit her tongue, trying not to comment on his appearance yet. Let him tell his story. “Any time. The crew is my first priority, on-duty. Off, obviously, it’s to my friends. Please, sit.”

He did so, folding his hands in his lap. “I really need some help,” he began. “The Minbari taught me a lot of things about thinking and spirit, and some about feelings … but … I don’t know what to do about this one.”

Morgan tapped her fingers against the small teapot, trying otherwise to not telegraph her concern. “What has happened to make you believe this?”

“It’s Ryath — the technomage. I was called in after she met with Kim — I promised not to tell anything about that part, but I don’t think it’s relevant anyway. It’s what happened later. It’s –” he hesitated, as if he didn’t even know the right words. “I feel a little hurt. And angry. Really angry. That’s what I don’t know what to do with.”

“I am the XO,” she pointed out mildly, as she poured tea. She was supposed to know whatever happened on the ship. “But what happened to make you so angry? That isn’t like you,” Morgan added.

He sighed. “I know. Maybe there’s a part of me that’s finally decided I don’t have to take being treated badly … I don’t know. Anyway …I was called to attend to Ryath in the middle of the night. She’d been injured. Kim was there, maybe she can explain, or the Captain … I had to try and take care of her there–she refused to go to Medlab. Then she insisted on going back to her ship. She wasn’t in any condition to move, but she wouldn’t listen to me.”

He pulled in a deep breath, as if to fuel another long rush of words. “So we’re out in the corridor, she can’t handle the light and stumbles, I go to try and help her, and she lashes out and cracks my nose for me. Mon Dieu, she probably would have tried to kill me if Kim hadn’t showed up just then and calmed her down.

“Then, she uses her technology to heal me. Doctor Brannon says she must have put some specialized nanotech devices in me, that’s what the scans found. And it did work. She made sure of that. But … then she just turned her back. Whatever Kim did seemed to help her feel better, so she just walked off.”

His eyes were filled with helpless bitterness. “She was done with me, I guess. Couldn’t use me any more, so that was it. Fin.” He moved one hand in a sharp gesture through the air.

Morgan bristled, angry at Ryath in absentia, but then forced herself to relax. “Perhaps I am not the best person to talk to about anger,” she commented, wry at her own reaction. “You don’t deserve to be treated badly, but there are always ungrateful people out there. This one seems to think she is better than the rest of us, just because she is a Technomage. More powerful, yes, but not better.”

He sighed. “And I thought I was actually starting to like her, too …” He looked up at Morgan. “So what do I do now? My first thought was to try and talk to her … but I don’t want to hurt her, I definitely don’t want her to hurt me again, and she’s locked herself up in her ship anyway.”

“Leave it alone for now,” she answered immediately. “If her injuries made her … unstable, it would be best to keep your distance. Let yourself cool off, and let her start thinking again, instead of just reacting.” The she shrugged. “I’m sorry. That probably seems like the worst answer.”

“No, actually,” he said, “that makes a lot of sense. I understand about cooling off, too. I just got done with my daily exercise routines, and that helped, but … maybe I just need something else to think about for a while?” He chuckled wryly to himself. “You must feel as if you’re talking to a little child, not a man in his thirties.”

Morgan smiled faintly, sympathetic. “No, I don’t. I feel like I’m talking to myself.” She paused, sipping her tea, while she thought. “We didn’t entirely destroy the labyrinth the other day.”

He brightened. “That might do! It will be hard to think of … la salope technomage when I have to focus on taking the next step in front of me.” He blushed slightly. “Pardon my … I must really be angry. Anyway, I don’t have to be back on duty until 2300.”

Chuckling, she waved his apology off. “I am not offended – I didn’t understand you. I cannot join you yet, but you’re welcome to lay it out and start your circuits.” She was guessing it would take more than one to do the trick.

He nodded. “Do you have the sheets here?”

She pointed to the bookcase behind him. They were stacked neatly there, as if she expected to use them soon herself.

“Thank you,” he said, not yet moving from his place. “This … really means a lot to me. I don’t want to fail.”

“Dunstan, we are friends.” She said it softly, as if afraid she were giving away military secrets. “I don’t want you to fail either. And I understand – sometimes, anger is my closest companion.”

He blinked hard and nodded, then went over to the shelf and picked up the stack of paper. “I’ll look forward to seeing you,” he said.

“I will do my best to be there shortly.” She stood to see him out. “Please, do not be afraid to call me, whatever the hour.”

“I will, I promise,” he said. In the doorway, he paused and looked back. “Can you please do me one favor — can you call Chief Darquin and let him know I came to see you?”

Ie, of course. How much should I tell him?”

“Tell him everything,” Kordieh answered. “In both his official and unofficial capacities, I think he’d want to know.” He managed a little smile.

“Yes, probably. But I had to ask. Will you be all right?”

“I think so,” he said. “But I’ll let you know if there’s a problem.” With a slight nod of the head, he slipped out the door.

Morgan shook her head, still worried about him. She headed back to the bridge to finish up as quickly as she could. “Duw cyd-fynd ti.”

Copyright (c) 2003 Jamie Lawson and Leslie McBride. All rights reserved.

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