The Hayn’gok was ready to depart — as ready as it would ever be, in any case. Morgan had arrived at the Minbari patrol shuttle a few minutes ahead of the time she and Kordieh had agreed on. But, uncharacteristically, he was late.
Morgan lifted her eyebrows when she realized it, but just started on the preflight list, while making a parallel to-do list. Nearly ten minutes later, he came running up the ship’s boarding ramp, a duffel bag bouncing across his back and an embarrassed flush on his face. “I’m so sorry,” he said, panting.
She smiled. “No bother, if everything is fine.”
“Yes,” he said. “A little trouble getting some data crystals wiped, but settled now. What should I do?”
She opened her mouth to ask, then decided against it. Instead, she gave him part of the list. There wasn’t much left to do.
He glanced at it, then smiled. “I’ll just head down to the engine room, then,” he said, hefting the duffel bag once more. “I’ll drop this in my cabin along the way and call in from down there.” He turned and quickly headed aft.
Morgan watched him go, curious, but then turned back to her list to finish it up. Once they were underway, she could find him.
About twenty minutes later, the comm crackled. “Kordieh to Shok’na. Everything is clear in the engine room.”
“Diolch. I am about to get our departure vector.”
“Do you want me up there, or down here?”
She hesitated just a moment. “Here, unless the engines require… babysitting.”
“For the moment, they seem well. I’ll be there in just a moment.” The channel closed.
Morgan let out a breath before contacting the tower.
The response came, prompt as always, in clipped Lenn-ah. “Tuzanor Control. How may we serve you?”
“This is the Hayn’gok, requesting a departure vector.”
“Acknowledged, Hayn’gok. Vector coordinates are now at your helm. Departure at your discretion. Go safely.”
A footstep announced Kordieh’s presence. He paused a moment, his hand on the back of the co-pilot’s seat. “That sounds almost ominous.”
“Mm. That could describe nearly any assignment.” Her mouth quirked, darkly amused.
He dropped into the seat and strapped in. “‘Come freely; go safely; and leave some of the happiness you bring.’ I wouldn’t want to see Dracula as a Minbari.”
She pinched the bridge of her nose, as if trying to stifle a laugh, but then let it out anyway.
He smiled, then turned to check the displays at the co-pilot’s station. “All report nominal,” he said.
“Good. Though I do not believe ‘boredom’ is a word that will be in our vocabulary on this trip.”
“I have no doubt of it.”
An odd look passed behind her eyes, but then it was gone and she was making the final steps necessary to launch, then doing so.
A few minutes passed in silence. As the ship passed through the jumpgate, Kordieh said, “Eight jumps … about four days.”
“Ie? I had not calculated it, though I had thought perhaps longer.”
“So did I … in a human built ship it probably would be. But this ship is fast … pretty fast even for a Minbari vessel.”
“How is it said? ‘They don’t make them like they used to?'” Then she gave him a quirked smile, and looked at her console.
“Something like that.”
All the instruments showed the little ship was responding perfectly well, locked on the beacon at their first interim jump, the Minbari colony of Tarallen. So far, it was hard to credit the Shipmaster’s dubious assessment of the vessel.
Morgan finally had to say it. “This thing we never have enough of on-ship, now that there is more of it, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.” She gave a wry smile at her obliqueness.
He blushed from his collar to the roots of his hair. “I …” his mouth worked several times before he could get any more words out. “I know … several things,” he managed finally. “That I want to do. Get to know you better, for one.”
Her eyes widened – she hadn’t expected the blush. “Ie. I have not had much time at all of late, and I apologize.”
“It’s hardly your fault,” he said. “But now, ship willing, we should both have plenty of time.” He took two long, deep breaths. “And the number of things I know about you can, I think, just about be counted on one hand.”
It was her turn to blush, faintly. “There is not much, truly.”
“Tell me … about your family,” he said. “Did you have any siblings? How did your parents treat you?”
That wasn’t a very comfortable subject for her, but he deserved the truth. Still, she spent a while looking out before answering. “I did have a sister, but she was on Earth during….” She stopped, and changed subjects. “My parents – most of my family, really – hated Earth, hated anything English. Not just the language, everything. We were Cymraeg, and that was all that was allowed, food, language, culture. Other Celtic might be allowed, if nothing else was available.” She shrugged.
“I never got to know my parents very well. They had enough money to afford excellent nannies, and they availed themselves of it. Sometimes I wonder if that contributed to what happened to my brother and I … we were all the family we had, most of the time.” He paused, looking out into the swirling scarlet for a minute or two before adding, “I honestly don’t know what has happened to them. I’m ashamed to admit I’m having a hard time bringing myself to care.”
“You are not alone in that. Since I left home, I have not looked for any news at all, even if opportunity was there.”
“Had you mentioned to me once that you have a young relative on Minbar itself?”
She let out a breath. “Yes, my sister’s daughter.” She hated to, but she couldn’t say it directly, even with him. “I am her guardian now. And I have a cousin in Security at Babylon 5.”
“I’d enjoy meeting them sometime. I’m afraid … my brother was the only real family I had. I wish you could have met him … or perhaps you did, sometime?”
Morgan thought, but then shook her head. “If I did, I do not recall. I believe I heard the name before, though.”
“It is the strangest thing … we were so close for so many years, but I never really knew him. For the unique person he was. I only got to know him … after he was dead.”
She looked across at him, silent, then stretched a hand out to him, offering.
He leaned forward a little to take it between both of his own. “Thank you, cherie,” he said softly.
It was a bit more than she was expecting, but not in a bad way. Her faint smile got a funny twist to it. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Something I still don’t understand … I’ve never really experienced this before. Katia, and Ryath … I was attracted to them both, I can’t deny that. But … the more I think about it, the more it seems as if they … were looking to me for something else. Something besides just me, if that makes any sense?”
Morgan nodded. “Ie, I understand what you say.” Then she looked away, shy. “I… I am trying to be… transparent. Even if I am… unsure still.”
“What is it that you are unsure about?”
“The easy answer would be ‘everything’. I… over-focus on my duties, and things get forgotten. But….” She stopped, but she was smiling.
“But?” he asked, letting his head tilt to one side just a bit.
“I think it is time I made the attempt. I need to make room for something other than being shok-na’li, because that will not be forever.”
“Nothing lasts forever,” he agreed. “And the future is always even a mystery — even if we think we’ve seen it.”
She let out a breath, relieved he understood. “Ie.”