Private Battle

Characters: Dr. Hellecat Brannon, Klevetati Yoshino

Alone inside the Phoenix’s Medlab Two, Helle Brannon was searching, with all the patience and tidiness of the late President Clark’s Nightwatch goons. She tore through one of the overhead storage units, flinging miscellaneous items aside as she went.

Yoshino was just outside, walking down the corridor with a datapad in hand. She’d been told that all the repairs and renovations to this section were complete, and she had come to do a final, personal check. As she approached the doorway of Medlab Two, she could clearly hear sounds of things being thrown around. She quickened her pace and entered the shambles, then paused, feeling the instinct to caution. “Doctor Brannon?”

Completely oblivious to Yoshino’s entrance, Helle continued her search, unwilling to admit it was fruitless. “Damnit! It was here yesterday. I know it was!” She slammed the door shut and dropped to her knees to rifle through another cupboard.

Slipping the datapad into her deepest pocket, Yoshino stepped around the many items scattered on the floor until she was almost at Helle’s shoulder. “Doctor Brannon? Is there a problem?”

She registered the voice this time, but didn’t acknowledge it as being someone else in the room. Her voice dripping with sarcam, she said, “No, there’s not a problem! I enjoy spending my time like this!” She flung a tray of instruments aside, sending it skidding across the floor.

Startled, Yoshino had to step aside to avoid being struck by the tray. Even as she did, what she saw was beginning to stir memories. Obviously there was something very wrong, and in a moment, she might know exactly what. In the meantime, she forced herself to speak calmly. “This isn’t necessary. If you tell me what you are looking for, I will help you find it and perhaps we can leave Medlab intact.”

Helle jerked her head up and glared at Yoshino. She struggled to stand up, finally managing it, but having to lean on the desk between them. “Well, I think I know why you’d find it – you took it, didn’t you!”

As she looked at the enraged woman before her, pieces fell into place. Bits of hushed conversations overheard in the corridors, that odd message from Arven’dra regarding supply requisitions … and her own memories of years ago. For a moment, Yoshino didn’t even see Helle Brannon at all, but someone else completely.

“There’s no more alcohol aboard. And we won’t be getting any more, as long as we’re in Minbari space,” Yoshino said.

“Ah ha!! So you did take it,” Helle said, moving around the desk toward Yoshino. “Well I want it back! You’ve got no right to take what’s mine!” She made a sudden lunge, but slipped on some of the debris she’d thrown about and went crashing to the floor.

Yoshino had instinctively dodged the doctor’s charge, and so missed the chance to catch her before she went down. She knelt on the floor and offered a hand. “It doesn’t have to be like this. Let me take you to Doctor Trassano. She can help you.”

Helle pushed her away angrily. “I don’t need your help, I need what you’ve taken from me.” On her hands and knees, she drooped suddenly as the rage passed. Her head hung down as she wailed softly, “I need it.”

The fury passed to Yoshino. “No, you don’t!” she cried, seizing Helle’s shoulders and forcing her to look up. “Your body does, but that will pass if you let it.”

The haze seemed to clear from Helle’s eyes for a moment and she looked scornfully at Yoshino. “What in the hell would you know about it?!”

“You think you’re special?” Yoshino said, matching the tone. “I’ve seen all this before.” She sat back on her heels, speaking a little more gently. “And I’d rather not see you go the way Kiyoshi went.”

Oblivious to the tone in Yoshino’s voice, Helle pushed herself away and leaned back against the desk, sitting amongst the mess she’d made, self-pity stealing over her. “Nobody knows… hell, I don’t even know anymore.”

Yoshino stood up, leaning against an exam table. “I know, believe me I do. And if you want, I’ll be there to get you through it. But we need to get you to Doctor Trassano.”

The Centauri doctor’s name seemed to trigger something in Helle. She used the desk to pull herself unsteadily to her feet, running a shaking hand over her hair. “No. I can’t.” Seeing the door over Yoshino’s shoulder, she started towards it. “I can’t and furthermore I won’t.”

Yoshino deftly put herself between Helle and the door, blocking her exit. She wasn’t sure how she had suddenly gotten herself into this battle, but now that she was in it, she had no intention of losing. “You can. You can, you must … and you will.”

(C) 1999 Jamie Lawson and Denise Cox. All rights reserved.

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