Characters: Katia Santiago
We usually know what we can do, but temptation shows us who we are. – Thomas a Kempis
The noise in the bar started ebbing to a din from a cacophony of racket it had been. The time on the station moved on towards morning and many of those who were seeking solace in the bottle had long since left and returned for a few hours of sleep in anticipation of their next duty shift. Even in her drunken state, Katia found it quite simple to block out the other minds.
As the alcohol had flowed, and she had drink after drink, the pain she had been running from, trying to avoid, seemed to intensify, as her mind was uninhibited from the affects of the alcohol. It just seemed to open up all the wounds she was doing her best to battle against.
Finally, as the lights outside the bar were brought to full power, and daytime officially began on Babylon 5, Katerina Santiago stood a bit unsteadily and moved as quickly as she could, weaving every so often, to find a room for the remainder of her time on B5. The activity in the Zocalo began picking up and shop owners began opening up their stores or kiosks. Many EF and other uniforms could be seen as people began making their way to their respective positions.
Katia strode purposefully to the nearest computer panel. As she inserted her credit chit/identity disk, there was suddenly a tickle in the back of her mind, something she hadn’t felt in quite sometime. Someone was trying to attempt a scan, a presence that seemed vaguely familiar. She turned quickly and glanced through the crowd, seeing a face she thought she recognized staring at her before quickly turning and fading into the crowd.
Shaking her head, thinking she had to be imagining it, she turned back to the console and tapped in the request for a room. When approved, she removed her chit and slowly turned to walk in the general direction her room was. As she moved through the crowd, the sensation tickled at the back of her mind yet again. She realized whoever it was, wasn’t trying to scan her mind, just get her attention. It was definitely someone trying to get her attention.
The Engineer turned and glanced around once more, and the same person stood staring at her across the crowd. Briefly, he nodded to her in acknowledgment and turned slowly, indicating she should follow. She stood in place and watched him move off, his face nagging at her memories. What was going on, she didn’t know, but someone wanted to see her alone, that much was evident.
She gave in to the curiosity of the moment and moved silently to follow the man who seemed familiar to her. If this was a trap, she decided it would be better to find out now, then to find out later in her sleep, alone in her quarters. Not even accepting that she was in no condition to face an ambush in her current condition either.
The man moved slowly through the crowd, careful to stay ahead of her, but at the same time, making sure she was able to follow. He entered a lift and waited silently for her. Hesitating outside the lift, Katia did not enter until he motioned for her to join him, and only after she sent a quick surface scan into his mind, trying to determine his intentions. She sensed no malice coming from this tall, dark man who seemed to stir something within her.
The lift began moving as soon as she entered and the doors closed behind her. She closed her eyes as the walls began to waver a bit, realizing the alcohol may have affected her more then she realized. As her eyes were closed, a face from her memories drifted in front of her eyes and she opened them quickly to the exact same face, only one a little older and worn from the hard life he had led.
“Calvin?” She asked suddenly, glancing over at him incredulously. The last time she had seen him, he had gone rogue and was running from the Corps. But, that had been over 7-years prior.
He smiled and nodded, still remaining silent. She could see that she would get no information from him until he was ready to speak to her about why he had gained her attention. Katia leaned back against the wall behind her, waiting for the lift to arrive wherever he had ordered it to go.
Finally, the lift stopped and the doors opened to the desolate scene of an area of Down Below. She had never personally been down here, but had heard about it on her many visits to Babylon 5. It was not a pleasant place, just as described, and she was still curious as to why Calvin had brought her down here.
The anguish and despair that creeped through her defenses seemed to match her own. Everyone down here seemed to feel lost and abandoned by any number of people or organizations. The sadness and desolation was almost enough to help her to forget her own pain as it pushed in on her mind.
They moved quietly and quickly through the corridors, and as they did, she lost track of where they were going, finally becoming lost in the twists and turns they were taking. Finally, after what seemed like forever, Calvin led her into a small set of rooms, and immediately she sensed the presence of three other telepaths.
She glanced around and sent out a “feeler” to the other telepaths, trying to determine who they were and what they wanted. It was then, she realized that all three of those waiting for her she knew in one capacity or another in the past. What all this was about, she still had yet to find out.
At length, the four other telepaths gathered around and the door was closed behind them. It wasn’t a menacing move, but it did set her into a certain trepidation about what was going on.
Calvin was the first to speak, “Katia, we brought you here because we thought you needed to be made aware of what is going on.”
She crossed her arms in silent defense, not sure she liked, in just those few words, just what he was going to be talking to her about. “Alright, Calvin, talk to me. You went to a lot of trouble to get me down here, and make sure I didn’t know where I was … What is it you are wanting?”
“We know you share many of our views on Psi Corps and the status of Telepaths in society today,” he started, noticing her automatic defense. “We are working with Byron … you remember him, don’t you? From Mars?”
“I remember, yes. What does he have to do with all of this?” she asked.
“He is the whole reason why we are all here. All of us, not just the few that you see here. Babylon 5 has become our haven of sorts. Byron has promised us a planet of our own … a place where we can start our lives over and live in peace. Away from the Normals and all the problems they bring with them,” he explained.
Katia stared at him for a few moments, not quite sure she followed his reasoning and replied, “Excuse me?”
Smiling, Calvin continued, “I see you have never thought of what life would be like if we weren’t terrorized and subjugated by those around us. Used for what we can do for them, never considering that we are just as human as they.”
“I had never really thought about it. I have found a home where I feel comfortable and they would never consider using me for my abilities,” Katia answered, defending the Rangers.
“Oh? Are you so sure of that? Katia, think about it … think of how many of us have been killed because others just didn’t understand. Or how many of us have been forced into positions of compromising themselves in order to allow others to advance themselves. Or better yet, have you ever stopped to think about just how the genetic changes came about to create such abilities in a race that had never before shown signs of telepathy?” Calvin stopped there, letting her process through that much before continuing.
“We just want peace, Katia. Peace to be who we are, without fear of those around us. Living without pain and anguish. Who wouldn’t long for a life like that? We run in fear of our lives all the time … fear of the Corps, fear of the Normals … what else do we have to fear?”
What he was speaking of seemed to actually make it through her carefully laid defenses. She stared down at the ground, realizing what he spoke was true. So very true in light of what she had just lived through.
“A life, Katia, where we wouldn’t have to block ourselves from others. Where we don’t have to fear pain and retribution for wanting to live without the constraints given to us by the Mundanes. Katia, imagine it… no more fear of running for our lives. Of losing …”
” … Ourselves to the atrocities of the Corps,” Katia quietly finished for him.
“Which in turn are perpetrated because of the fear the Normals have of what and who we are. Katia do you know what could happen if we had a place for ourselves?” Calvin seemed very excited about the possibilities, and Katia nodded, realizing how true much of what he said was.
Suddenly a new voice was heard behind her, “I feel your pain, Katerina. If you will join us, that pain can be assuaged. We don’t want to hurt anyone, only to live in peace. I believe we can help you to do that as well.”
Katia turned to see a tall man, with blond hair moving quickly up to her. The dark clothes he wore only accentuated the broad shoulders and muscles as his graceful movements slowed and stopped right in front of her. “I have a place where I belong, Byron. I can’t just turn and leave …”
“Leave the group that has been using you and your abilities? Or at the very least, will use you if they get a chance? Katerina, can you allow that? Can you allow yourself to be turned into a slave of those very people who proclaim they are helping us?” His voice had an almost hypnotic quality she had never realized before when she had known him back on Mars. Back when he was working with Bester.
“That isn’t how the Rangers are, Byron. It isn’t as if I am with Psi Corps any longer. The Rangers do not force people into anything. I haven’t actually been called upon to use my abilities in the line of duty there, nor would they expect that of me if I chose not to offer it,” again trying to defend her decision of staying with the Rangers. Though, somehow, what he said, touched a nerve deep within her. To have her pain removed … to live her life in peace, that was something she would not necessarily have in her continued service to the Rangers.
His voice continued to roll over her, and through her, to the very core of her pain, “Yes, but would you offer due to an honest desire to help? Or from some misbegotten duty that you feel to those in command? Those very same people who wouldn’t think twice about laying your mind out on the line to save anyone else on the ship. You think I don’t know how it works? The first time it seems as if you decided to help on your own … but soon, when a suggestion is made, you won’t have the option of denying them. Tell me you haven’t seen it happen that way, Katia, and I will leave you alone.”
She glanced away from him, over at Calvin who nodded and smiled to her, unable to bring herself to deny the very thing she had seen on any number of occasions. The fact that that had mostly been within her time back on Earth had nothing to do with it, in her mind, in her drunken state, it all seemed to merge into one.
“Katerina, we were friends once … many years ago. I wouldn’t be doing thisif I didn’t want to help you. All I am asking right now is some of your time to show you into the group. Give you a chance to relax, to allow your defenses to relax a bit. Is that truly too much to ask?” Byron ended, smiling encouragingly as he tried to set her at ease. He reached out with a hand… a hand she noticed that was as devoid of a glove as her own hands were. Maybe they truly did have more in common then she realized.
Katia slowly extended her hand and placed it within Byron’s and nodded. The sanctuary he offered seemed almost too idyllic to be true, but what if he offered was true peace … a sanctuary away from her pain? It was something she needed to find out for herself.
(c) 1999 Tamara Friese. All rights reserved.