It was very early, ship time, as the Phoenix made its final approach to Rolui. The assistant navigator, the Minbari Rafell, had already been on the bridge for several hours, making sure the coordinates for the jump to normal space were exact. He nodded respectfully to the command staff as they arrived.
“Da, Rafell,” Morgan said softly, approving of the finesse.
Terry stifled a yawn as she slid into her chair. She glanced at the constant stream of data that was available to her from the various consoles.
Darquin was gulping down the last of his mug of tea as he came out of the lift. “‘Morning, everybody. Rafell. How’s life at the helm?”
“It is well, Chief Darquin,” the Minbari answered. “We should be arriving parallel with the center of the dark side of Rolui 4’s largest moon. It will be excellent cover from the planet.”
“Slick,” Darquin said. “Need someone to relieve you?”
“Perhaps — once we make the transition,” he said.
Darquin nodded, looking on.
“All ship systems are running at optimal capacity,” Yoshino said softly, looking around the bridge and seeing Terry in the Captain’s chair. “Would you like the main holoviewer for the jump, Captain?”
Terry nodded. “Sure, go ahead.”
The space in front of them seemed to swirl for a moment as the image of the scarlet flows of hyperspace appeared. Rafell looked into it as if he could see through it. “Transition in two minutes from …. mark.”
Kim stepped out on to the bridge then. She’d been woken to the sense of more than the usual complement of people on the bridge, and her curiosity brought her up.
Smiling, Darquin turned to see Kim. “Heya. Are we making too much noise up here?”
“Oh yes, quite rowdy,” Kim joked, then smiled in a half-apologetic way. “It’s not the first time I’ve been this way. Though it’s been a few years.”
“Well, you’re in for a treat,” Darquin said. “It’s been a while since I got to see a jump. Peacefully, anyway.”
“I have several sets of sensor scans set to go after we return to normal space,” Yoshino said, “to scan the planet and the surrounding environs. I can send them to the consoles for Science and Security.”
“A little dramatic for just Rolui,” Kim commented as she stepped to her console. She had memories of IPX reports in her past, of insignificant finds and soon abandoned dig sites.
“It kept me from getting bored,” Yoshino said with a trace of a smile.
“Ten seconds,” Rafell said quietly, his hands poised over the jump engine controls.
Morgan leaned against her console, watching. Like Darquin, this was rarely a thing witnessed with time to appreciate it.
A pinpoint of blackness ringed in blue appeared at the center of the viewer image, blossoming out into a cone of light and dark, through which the Phoenix passed in an instant. The blackness of space surrounded them, except directly ahead, where the image of a dark moon filled their view. “Transition complete,” Rafell murmured.
“Nicely done,” Terry said.
Darquin went to the helm and brought his hands together for the traditional Minbari gesture. “I can relieve you.”
“Thank you,” Rafell said to both of them. “Shok’na, permission to stand down?”
Terry nodded easily.
Rafell bowed back to Darquin. “The helm is yours, with my gratitude,” he said, stepping clear.
After a reverent bow, Darquin slid into the helm station and, grinning at Rafell, back into his usual character. “Nice vapes, Rafell.”
The Minbari looked puzzled a moment, then smiled. “Thank you, Chief.” With that, he left the bridge.
“Well, there’s a lot more people around here than I remember,” Kim commented, as she looked over the data coming in.
Morgan glanced over. “I would not imagine they had a population boom recently.”
“Not seeing any concentrations of Narn or Drazi ships right away,” Yoshino said. “Unless they’re hiding too.”
“The day they can hide from Minbari and Vorlon tech,” Darquin muttered, “I’m eating raw spoo.”
Kim both grimaced and laughed at that.
“Spoo sashimi … no, probably not …” Yoshino murmured to herself.
Morgan made a face. “I will not be able to forget that image.”
“At least you don’t get the image from everyone else,” Kim said, amused.
Giving the captain an apologetic smirk, Darquin pulled up scanner data from the helm console.
“Kim, have a look at this,” Yoshino said. “I think we may have some remnants of the first civilization here — they look almost intact!”
“Really?” Kim glanced down at her console. “Undisturbed?”
“I think so.” Yoshino’s voice betrayed her excitement. “It’s under the north polar ice cap.”
“Bless the lazy, profit-focused eyes of the IPX scout.”
Darquin raised an eyebrow. “IPX was here before?”
Kim nodded. “It’s what I was referring to on having passed by here before. They surveyed it years ago, and deemed that whatever profit could be made off an excavation could never return the cost. No flash to be found.”
“Ie, they like what sells well.” Morgan was careful not to include Kim in that.
“I’d hate to be the guy who filed this one away,” Darquin said.
“I’d have to check up on any transcripts.” A mischievous smile suddenly quirked on Kim’s face. “I could probably help you find a lot of information, if I could get on the IPX Net.”
“That could be fun.” Darquin stopped for a closer look at the scanner readouts. “Actually I might have a reason for the higher population.”
Terry had been quietly listening to the conversation until then. “Oh?” she prompted.
“Yes, sir.” Darquin sent a holo-image to one of the smaller projectors. “I’m picking up as many as 50 different ships planetside, all at the spaceport.”
“I bet the Huka are thrilled,” the captain remarked.
“Not exactly a big tourist trade, but they must be making good business down there.”
“It is a more or less logical place for a trading hub,” Morgan remarked.
“Yeah, the nearest jumpgates are a ways out. Rolui makes a good waypoint.”
“Yeah, you do see a lot of business there, of all sorts. Legal, illegal and all the variations between,” Kim said.
“We should blend in fairly easily then,” Terry said.
“Should I begin coordinating shore parties, Captain?” Yoshino asked.
“Yes, I think so. And advise them: no conspicuous uniforms. Being in the news the last while hasn’t been good in that regard.”
“Understood, Captain.” Yoshino turned back to her console.
“Anyone who finds the cameras will answer to me.” Morgan bared her teeth wolfishly, half-serious.
“I’ll put ISN back into my scanning panel,” Yoshino said, “just in case.”
Darquin was programming a geo-synchronous orbit to keep the moon ahead between them and the planet when a thought struck him. “Time to wash all our Sunday best again…”
Phoenix–“Taking Stock of the New Day” © 2003 Alida Saxon, Leslie McBride, Jamie Lawson, Joe Medina
Babylon 5 tm and © 2002 Warner Bros.