The two days it had taken the Hayn’gok to travel from Babylon 5 to Dra’shu turned into four on the return trip, despite Morgan’s best efforts to make the stopovers to release their Narn passengers as quick as possible. Kordieh spent most of the time in their shared bunk or the patrol shuttle’s co-pilot seat, trying hard to hide both pain, and, after the third day, fever.
Morgan spent all the time she had aside from the passengers doing what little she could for him.
Finally, nearly 90 hours after leaving Dra’shu, the Hayn’gok emerged from the Epsilon Eridani jumpgate. The grey-blue of the station was hanging there in front of them, the planet and its sun behind it.
A brisk, yet friendly-sounding voice came over the comm. “Babylon Control to Minbari vessel Hayn’gok, do you require docking clearance?”
“Ie, please. And if you could let MedLab know we have one who will need their services.”
“Acknowledged, Hayn’gok. Setting your docking beacon now — you will be on a priority approach, docking bay …. 21. We will notify Medlab of your need. Babylon Control out.”
“Kind of them, to let us jump the queue,” Kordieh said.
Minutes later, Morgan helped Kordieh down the Hayn’gok’s boarding ramp, even as a team of Babylon 5 medics was waiting for them. As they helped Morgan get Kordieh onto a gurney, Morgan’s link went off, indicating an urgent message was coming through to the Hayn’gok’s cockpit.
She hesitated. One of the medics said, “We’re taking him to Medlab One. There’s not going to be much for you to do but wait.”
Kordieh added, “It’s probably important. I’ll wait at Medlab for you.”
Still reluctant, Morgan nodded, but stayed where she was until the Medlab team and their patient had left the docking bay. Finally she turned and headed back to theHayn’gok’s cockpit, to check on the message.
It was coming direct from Minbar, the first time that the Rangers had tried to contact them since dispatching the parts to repair the Hayn’gok, when they’d stopped at Babylon 5 on the outbound journey.
The screen lit up, showing Nesaan. “Anla’shok Morgan. Your status, in brief?”
“We have just docked at Babylon 5. The Hayn’gok is in nominal condition. And the doctors have just started their work on Anla’shok Kordieh. They were hopeful it would not take long.”
The Minbari’s eyes widened slightly, but she said only, “I shall look forward to a detailed debrief upon your return. For the moment, I assume you have the expected passenger aboard?” Morgan nodded. “Good. We have an additional mission which you are particularly suited to undertake, and time is of the essence. Are you, by any chance, familiar with the mining colony on Ondal V-A?”
Morgan stiffened a little – she had hoped to never hear of the place again, though her family had long since moved on from there. “Ie, sir.”
“The colony is preparing to join the Interstellar Alliance, but some factions are arguing against the proposal. We need someone to speak for the Alliance, someone who the colonists can trust. You are our best hope.”
She didn’t particularly want to, but there wasn’t much use in arguing with Nesaan. “I will do what I can.”
As soon as Morgan heard that Kordieh was released from Medlab, she headed there as quick as she could.
There were several benches in the corridor outside of Babylon 5’s Medlab One. Kordieh was sitting on one of these, his hand in a fresh splint, drowsy. His eyes opened briefly as each person walked by, then fluttered closed again. When he saw Morgan approaching, though, they stayed open. “Cherie,” he said.
She smiled, in spite of herself. Instead of making him get up just yet, she sat beside him. “How are you feeling?”
“Tired, very tired. A little feverish, yet … they say that should pass soon. The hand will heal properly, in time.”
“Good. I have been worried.”
“They said … you did a good job in setting it. They couldn’t salvage your old splint, but they gave me a new one for you.” He indicated a small bag in his lap.
“No trouble. And I have had some unfortunate practice in that.”
He nodded. “What now?”
“We have an errand to do before going back to Minbar. Do you think you can manage?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“I think you’ll have a few more days to rest, while we get there. A mining colony, Ondal V-A.”
“I’m afraid I’m not familiar with it. What do we need to do there?”
“They need a… a speaker for the Alliance, as they prepare to join, someone who would understand them.”
He grinned. “Ah. And you, louve, would definitely be that.”
Morgan shrugged a little, mouth quirked.
“If you can allow me just a little sleep first, you would be welcome to practice your … charms on me.” She blushed faintly at that, looking away. He patted her hand with his good one. “Sorry. I couldn’t help it.” He paused a moment, looking thoughtful. “You know, if you told anyone on the Phoenix that I said that, I’m not sure any of them would believe you.”
“I would not think so, no. But that is not a complaint.”
“Merci, cherie. Should we get back to the ship?”
“Unless you need anything from the station first.”
He shook his head. “I can’t think of anything.”
She nodded, then stood up, tugging lightly on his good hand. Slowly, but steadily, he followed. She matched her pace to his. Even if they were in a hurry, she wouldn’t have rushed him.
As they boarded the Hayn’gok, they could hear an odd sound coming from the cargo bay. Morgan frowned. Releasing Kordieh’s hand, she went cautiously to see.
The sound became a bit more familiar as she got closer, something like a voice. And when she slipped through the bulkhead door, which had been left partway open, it made sense. Their passenger, her long sleeves tied back, was wielding a broom on the bay floor, humming and occasionally singing to herself in Japanese.
Surprised, Morgan smiled faintly anyway. “Hello!” she called, announcing herself.
Kitsune turned, smiling. “Hello,” she said, holding the broom in one hand to bow. “I hope you do not mind,” she said. “I wanted to make myself useful.”
“Of course not. But we are back.”
“All is well?”
“Working on it, at least. I will be taking her out in about twenty.”
“Hai. I should be done with this in about ten, unless there is something else you need me to do?”
“If you see it needs to be done, just let me know.”
She nodded. “Hai.”
“And thank you.”
“It’s no trouble.” She bowed again.
Morgan took herself back out. Kordieh was leaning on the bulkhead at the door of their cabin, where she had left him. “Everything all right, then?”
“Yes, our guest was just making herself useful.”
“The best sort of guest.”
“Ie. Let’s get you settled for that rest.”
He nodded, allowing himself to be led into the cabin and stretched out on the bunk. Instead of going to immediately start preflight, she perched beside him. He smiled, and seemed about to say something, but fell asleep before he had the chance.
She smiled a little and rubbed his good hand before getting up.