Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto, Margaret Morgan, Katia Santiago
Kim stood and moved out of the meeting room into the hall, keeping out of the traffic to wait for Margaret. She nodded somberly to a few of the others that passed by. Margaret was one of the last ones out and she glanced at Kim without comment.
Kim smiled slightly, polite reflex, and fell in step with her friend. She had been looking forward to talking, but the meeting’s news crushed everything else. “I can believe it, and wish I didn’t,” she said finally.
“Ie,” Margaret agreed grimly.
Kim shook her head, unsure how to explain the loss, and a little surprised by the depth of it. Though for just a little while, Minbar had been a haven to her — and many others like her — and now even it had fallen prey to chaos. One might wish it could be blamed on the Shadow war, but hindsight showed anyone with eyes that it had been brewing for some time. The signs were there.
“Safe, we thought,” Margaret said as if hearing Kim’s thoughts. “But now….”
“Yeah.” Kim straightened as she passed a junior crew member in the halls. She had her responsibilities as an officer. She forced her mind to other things, nudging her friend. “Glad you got back all right. Worried you’d gotten your crazy self too deep in trouble again,” she said, trying to lighten things.
“Always too deep.” Margaret shrugged. “I lived, again.”
Kim sighed at the failed effort. She tried another tact, remembering Margaret’s message in the meeting. “So, you were going to explain something to me…?”
Margaret finally chuckled, if a little strained. “Many somethings.”
A wry smile rose. “True. I step out for a week and….” Kim mimicked and explosion with her hands.
“Ie, that’s the way of it,” Margaret said and thought for a moment. “Short version? Or long?”
“Short, I suppose. I don’t think we have time for more.”
Kim blinked with amazement when the “short” explanation finally ran down. They had stopped walking once they got into the docking bays and found a quiet corner to talk. It was fortunate. Kim might have walked into something listening to the story.
Margaret raised her eyebrows, almost humorous. “Warned you, I did.”
“If anyone else had told me that….” Kim shook her head and Margaret shrugged, stuffing her hands in her pockets. Kim pushed herself off the bulkhead she’d propped herself against and they headed for the shuttles once again. “Next to getting that message from 090, the end you saw was about as interesting as it got for me. Not that I’m complaining, mind you! Any more ‘interesting’ and I’d be dead.” She was still feeling a little twitchy after the battle and Solo’s mad piloting.
Margaret actually chuckled. “Cursed at birth, the both of us.”
Kim glanced over and grinned, then looks to battle scarred ships with a frown of bemusement. “Honestly, I don’t understand half of it. Like why PsiCorps made such a transparent trap. Desperate?”
“Trap?” Margaret shook her head. “Haven’t heard all of that yet.”
Kim shrugged, looking easier than she felt. “They had 090 send me a message. You know the usual, ‘Come alone’ nonsense.”
Margaret snorted. “Why aren’t we ever the villains? We’d at least have some imagination.”
“We also have more sense than to bother.”
Margaret shrugged again, conceding the point. There was definitely a twinkle in her eyes, making it past the weariness.
Kim smiled, but the motion became more automatic than real. She couldn’t help thinking about the other aspects of the mess. “You think 090 can be trusted now? I mean “
“Cyfeilles, Margaret interrupted seriously, “How many people do I trust?”
“I know.” Kim scowled off at the ships. “Willing or not, because of him PsiCorp knows about me now. Maybe it was stupid to hope they wouldn’t ever, but — ” It was Kim’s own anger that cut the words off then. Margaret paced silently, having no answer that would help.
“Never mind. Hardly matters right now.” Kim forced a laugh. “Too much time cooped up in a shuttle.”
“And about to happen again.”
“Thanks,” Kim sighed, seeing the crafts under discussion. “Not another. Granted, it has a much larger hold than the Valen, but still….I really don’t appreciate the universe’s sense of humor.”
Margaret chuckled at her friend. “Feel lucky it’s not a ‘Fury.”
“You did that to yourself.”
“I did not.”
Kim resisted the demented impulse to say “Did to” and the laughter that threatened at the childish urge. Had to be nerves. “What I heard, Meg. Going AWOL too, ” Kim retorted. She stepped up beside the Silencer and peeked inside. Then she sensed someone else coming close — their third team member, she was certain and turned to look. Margaret was already nodding in greeting to Katia Santiago, the ship’s chief engineer.
“Yeah, well, don’t believe everything you hear,” Margaret replied to Kim.
Katia had stared at Shaver through the whole meeting, even at one point slipping and mumbling something about knowing of another threat to humanity. She vaguely heard the Captain put her in a group with two people named Morgan and Matsumoto. At the time, she was so stressed over having to sit through the meeting with Shaver all she could do was focus on the table in front of her and half pay attention to what the Captain was saying. As soon as the meeting was adjourned, she went to her quarters and prepared to leave on the mission to Minbar.
Matsumoto? she thought to herself, knowing that was the last name of the Chief of Sciences that they had just retrieved. She shook her head as if to clear a bad memory, and continued on to the Shuttle Bay where she was supposed to meet the two in her group.
As Santiago made her way to the docking bay, she glimpsed the two women arriving at the shuttle just ahead of her.
“…what I heard, Meg. Going AWOL too,” Katia heard Kim Matsumoto retort, with amusement evident in her tone. Her back was to Katia. Margaret Morgan had already spotted Katia and nodded in greeting as she answered Kim with, “Yeah, well, don’t believe everything you hear.”
Katia looked at Kim, and for the first time actually saw her. The dark hair and smoke-grey eyes she painfully remembered, the impact not appreciably lessened for being in the female form. So close, Katia suspected Kim was even a twin to….
Katia paled immediately and a look of sheer rage twisted her face. Already uneasy, realizing it was the teep she’d sensed in the meeting room, Kim’s eyebrows rose in surprise at that. Margaret didn’t need to be a teep to know that there was a serious problem brewing, and she straightened, ready for anything.
Kim looked at the Chief Engineer and asked tentatively, “Chief?”
“Matsumoto? I should have guessed from the name that you were related,” Katia snaps out as she starts shaking in anger.
“But I never thought you were actually related to Nathaniel when I saw your name. After seeing you, though — ” Katia’s voice rose dangerously and she started to see red, ready to attack.
Kim’s eyes widened and she started, “You….”
Margaret muttered expletives under her breath as she moved closer to Katia, anticipating trouble, but too late. Already stressed by the meeting in Shaver’s presence, and then the sight of Kim, Katia took Kim’s barely formed words and expression for one of personal recognition. Katia rushed at Kim and knocked her to the floor of the docking bay.
Kim hit the deck hard, breath slammed out of her, but after a moment of startlement, she gathered her wits to fight back. With height and weight giving her an advantage, she twisted and pinned Katia under her. Katia struggled and fought madly to kick her off.
“Let me go!” Katia ordered.
“So you can attack me again?” Kim gasped with a hard glint in her eyes, making her resemblance to her brother all the more terrifying for Katia. Kim held tighter still, trying to keep Katia from getting a second chance to surprise her. Frantic as Katia was, it wasn’t easy. Kim’s combat training wasn’t meant for this, her strength in movement, not brute force. Kim was inwardly startled that the Engineer hadn’t attacked mentally, but keeps her barriers tight regardless, not wanting to let Katia have a chance to try.
Margaret leapt closer, but couldn’t help. Uncertain of the situation, she reached for her hidden PPG. Just then Katia wriggled an arm free and connected with Kim’s face. “How could anyone know of something like that and just let it happen?” Katia accused, and then tried to kick Kim off of her once more.
Kim’s head snapped back from the impact and, furious, she struggled to keep her own telepathy in hand. “Know what?” she snarled back, pinning Katia even harder, without care. At this, Morgan drew her PPG, but didn’t aim it, knowing she couldn’t miss at this range anyhow.
“What your brother did to me!” Katia screamed, and glared at Kim with pure rage. Though there was no one else in direct sight the immediate area of the docking bay was growing quiet with a listening silence.
Kim paled, not doubting at all that her brother had done something. “What did he do?” she asked, her voice very low and controlled in comparison to Katia’s.
Katia looked at Kim as if she were crazy and stated, “You know what he did, don’t play stupid with me!” Then she pushed up at Kim with a surprising burst of strength, but Kim was ready for it this time. She slammed Katia back down and ordered, “Stop it! I haven’t seen him for years.”
Katia looks up at Kim as if ‘coming too’ from a dream. “What?”
“It’s been years since I last saw my brother, and I have reason enough to hate him. Have you no training? Would I be here — a Ranger — if I were with him?” the science officer reasoned.
Katia could be seen to be visibly calming herself down when she realized that what Kim had said made sense. “But…you said….” She stopped there, and thought back to what Kim really had said, and realized Kim hadn’t indicated any knowledge of the situation. She’d actually gotten no more than four words from when they first met to when Katia had attacked. “You really don’t know?” Katia asked.
“I don’t,” Kim sighed, “Can I let you up now?”
Katia nodded, and Margaret scowled with her weapon still held out, her faith in rational behavior considerably less than Kim’s. Kim rolled off and climbed to her feet, rubbing her jaw where Katia had hit her.
Still on the ground, Katia saw Margaret for the first time with her weapon drawn. Katia paled and got up slowly, not wanting to make any sudden moves.
“Do you think you are the only one he’s made miserable?” Kim asked wearily.
“I just assumed since you were family….”
Kim snorted at that and retorted, “He’s not honored family since the Corps came.”
Katia took a deep breath to steady herself and mumbled in reply, “The Corps has a way of doing that to people.” She then looked down in shame for letting herself lose control and asked once more incredulously, “You really don’t know?”
Kim replied in exasperation, “I said no. We parted ways some time ago. How could I?”
Margaret deliberately put her PPG away, scowl deepening at the mention of PsiCorps. The normal sounds of people at work returned to the bay. Neither of the three noticed.
“What did he do?” Kim finally asked of Katia and leaned on the shuttle to brace herself.
Katia closed her eyes at the memory and answered, “He is the father of my children and he and the Corps took them from me as soon as they were born.” She opened her eyes and looked at Kim, her pain evident in her stare.
Kim’s minds refused to absorb that at first and she asked, “He what?” her voice ragged and she was very pale.
“They thought it was a good way to ‘breed’ more and stronger telepaths….”
Margaret turned away at that, sickened, and thought that she shouldn’t be surprised at anything the Corps does. Kim looked sick herself, face white with rage now. She swore something under her breath in another language.
Katia looked back an forth from Kim to Margaret and said, “I still don’t know where my girls are!” she paused then said, “You honestly didn’t know?” Katia sighed raggedly. “I assumed with you being related and also a… well, anyway. I just assumed you knew. I’m sorry.”
“I didn’t. If I’d known….”
Katia considered scanning Kim to see if she really told the truth, and became physically ill at the thought. Kim slumped against the shuttle, not noticing, and then asked, “What can I do?”
“Unless you can tell me where my daughters are…nothing!” Katia said snappishly. Kim’s lips tightened to a thin line, but didn’t fight back. Katia looked down once more and thought to herself, Well, this ought to be an interesting mission.
“We have family on Earth,” Kim said suddenly. “He still contacts them, last I heard. Maybe… I’ll do what I can.”
“You mean you might know where I can find them?” Katia asked as she looked up in hope.
“I might be able to trick it out. I can at least try.”
Katia nodded, “Anything you could do…I would be very appreciative.” She looked uneasily at the two women once more.
Margaret gave her a grim smile and stated, “What, you think we like the Corps any better?”
Katia looked at the tactical officer and said in a dead voice, “I wouldn’t really know. For all I knew, she,” she motioned at Kim, “was a spy sent here by the Corps.”
“And I am one of Clark’s own guard!” Morgan snorted.
Katia raised an eyebrow at that and thought it wouldn’t surprise her since they already had one traitor on the ship. She murmured dryly, without realizing she spoke aloud, “Well, you would be in good company then.”
Kim looked at Margaret and mouthed, “Shaver?” pretty sure she had it right.
Margaret narrowed her eyes again and said to Katia, “You look at my file again and then we can talk.”
“This is the Rangers, not some dilettante’s game!” Kim snapped at Katia, her anger found again on her friend’s behalf.
Just then, Katia realizes what she let slip, and her eyes widen briefly. She sighed deeply and stated, “I know.” Then she looked around and tried to change the subject. Their hard glares were making her uncomfortable. “Shouldn’t we get going?”
“We go when the captain says, and that likely won’t be for another hour. Right now we check over the shuttle,” Kim said. Katia nodded at that, and hoped that they hadn’t caught on to too much about Dylan. Kim pushed herself away from the shuttle, fingers probing her jaw again. She had no idea what it looked like, but she could feel it starting to swell. “Meg, I’m going to put something on my face.”
“Take your time,” Margaret replied.
Kim walked away slowly, glad for the excuse. Her stomach was twisting with nausea, her mind returning repeatedly to what she’d learned, despite her attempts to push it away. A shiver passed through her as another dark fate was added to the considerable list of horrors were she ever caught by PsiCorps. She decided then and there that she would kill herself first rather than submit to that!
Katia winced at the mention of what she had done to Kim’s face and called, “I am…uh…sorry about that.”
Kim paused, glanced back, and didn’t say a word. She resumed her retreat down out of the docking bay and down one of the corridors.
Margaret turned to Katia, “I would have….”she said in a level voice. Her glance indicated that were she in Kim’s place, Katia would have gotten up with more than just a bruised ego. Katia remembered the PPG and nodded in understanding. She knew Margaret would have shot, if she had to.
Margaret climbed into the shuttle to begin the preliminary checks, Katia slowly following.