Star Crossed, Part 5

Characters: Margaret Morgan, Dunstan Kordieh

Kordieh said very little until after the Hayn’gok had transited the Babylon 5 jumpgate and was in hyperspace. He had spent ten days in one of the station’s rented drydocks, first waiting for parts and then giving the little ship a thorough overhaul, but this was the first chance they’d had to see how the repair and maintenance had worked. Finally he said, “I think the ship feels a little better. Hopefully more stable — it wouldn’t do to have a breakdown when we’re carrying a passenger back to Minbar.”

He shifted in his seat and turned to look at her. “It looks like we have about two days until we reach Dra’shu. Should we start planning now, or is it better to wait until we get there and see exactly what’s happening?”

“We can make plans, if we understand that they will perhaps all be out the window once we get there.” Her mouth quirked.

“Didn’t someone once say that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy? I can deal with that. I guess the question is, who our enemy is this time. Would PsiCorps chase a telepath outside Earth Alliance jurisdiction? I thought that was illegal.”

“Since when did the law mean much to them?” Morgan scowled, glared out the port.

He was silent for sometime, his glance jumping nervously between Morgan and the deck. “I see. It appears you’ve had some experience I haven’t.” He tried to keep the tone matter-of-fact. “Well then, I imagine Anla’shok Parnelli will be able to tell us if they’ve gotten there ahead of us. What other opposition could we expect?”

She took a deep breath, composing herself. “There isn’t a way to know that – everyone seems to hate us at one time or another.”

“All right. Is there anything we can plan for, do you think?” He sighed. “I went through the training, same as everyone else … I ought to be better at this.”

Her mouth quirked. “It is not much easier even with practice, anticipating the universe.”

“If there’s nothing you think we can plan for,” he said after a moment, “maybe we should talk about the PsiCorps. You know a lot more about them than I do, clearly. I’m sorry to bring up bad memories, but if we might run into them, I think I should know what you know.”

Even though she trusted him, Morgan still hesitated. “I do not think I know much. They have an agenda and…. the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, ie? And they do not care who is in their way. Or… Some do care, but in the wrong way. They seem to enjoy stepping on normal people on their way.”

“And there’s been a time when you … or yours … have been the ones stepped on?”

“While I think they had their part to play in Clark’s pogrom…. After I was turned out of officer training, they picked me up on the chance I might possibly know something of use to them.”

Bon Dieu …” he murmured. “How did you escape?”

“Didn’t. They became bored, or had more pressing matters come up, or something.”

He sighed very softly, feeling torn in several different directions. He wanted to know more. It seemed possible, even likely, they’d meet PsiCorps operatives, and he had no idea how to deal with that. Then too, this was Margaret — anything that had ever happened to her, he wanted to know, because it was her. Yet it was causing her pain — she had snapped at him when he brought up PsiCorps at all, and it was clear to him she wanted to avoid the subject altogether. He didn’t want to hurt her. Best to change the subject, he thought, but to what? Staring out the viewport, he thought for a moment he’d be just as well off on the other side. “Just as helpless, anyway,” he murmured in French, unaware he was speaking out loud.

“What was that?”

“Sorry, cherie. Just feeling the weight of my own inexperience — in several different places. It turns my mind down paths best left alone.” He turned toward her, smiled, and put a brisk tone into his voice. “Do you think the ship has any information about Dra’shu we can call up? Even something as basic as an encyclopedia entry would give us something to work with.”

“We should be able to call that up, at the very least.” She turned to do that very thing.

After a moment, the computer responded, speaking in calm, measured Minbari — mostly worker caste dialect.

“Dra’shu. Also known as Shu. Narn colony world, considered their final fallback during the last war. A massive influx of refugees which approximately quintupled the population is still in the process of returning to their own worlds with the end of the war and return of Narn planets to Narn control. Primarily agrarian; most permanent residents concentrated in several large cities in various locations. Climate varied; large cold zones at poles and small tropical zone at equator. Small representation of Minbari, Humans, and League races, in slightly higher proportion than many other Narn planets. Non-Narn residents primarily engaged in trade and the arts.”

Kordieh’s dark brows pulled closer together as he thought intently for a moment; then he said, “Cherie, I might have an idea.”

“An idea?” Morgan turned towards him. “Ie, please, I will listen to it.”

“We could pose as free traders, offering our ship as a transport for refugees wishing to return home. If we are bringing aboard a number of passengers, it will be easier to conceal the one we are most concerned with, n’est-ce pas?

She just looked at him for a long moment, long enough to start him wondering if it was a bad idea, before finally saying, “That is… brilliant.”

“You … you really think so?”

“It will provide a cover for us, and our target, in something very common. You have not done this before?”

“No. I went through the training, of course … but never had to do this sort of thing for real.”

“I think you have a good instinct for it.” She smiled a little.

He smiled back, a little twinkle in his eye. “I suppose I should spend some time outfitting our cargo space for passengers. Do you suppose I could also open up my cabin as passenger space?”

Morgan hesitated, considering him and the implications, then nodded. “Ie, I think so.”

His smile blossomed into a delighted grin. “I’ll just get started then. Two days should be just enough time for me to get it all sorted. With a few breaks, of course.” He gave her a quick kiss, then turned and headed toward the cargo hold, almost skipping as he went.

Color bloomed into her cheeks, but she smiled, glancing after him.