Characters: Terry Hale, Dylan Shaver
Countless lefts and rights, a climb up a service ladder or two, numerous turbolift rides and a few aerobic jaunts down seemingly endless corridors and she couldn’t be sure she was gaining any ground. Just long series of corridors and halls all identical to the one previous, winding around to turbolifts and near-hidden passageways through the giant, floating mass that was the Phoenix. Tangled like the veins of a Centauri Kreildog and convoluted as the fabled Minotaur’s labyrinth, and there stood Terry Hale, without her ball of twine.
To get where? The place that, honestly, she didn’t really care to be. She had planned on meeting the elusive executive officer of the Phoenix two days earlier, but wishes and her schedule rarely shook hands over anything she wanted.
Dylan Shaver sat, at a console, looking at the history of their newfound allies, the Hellfire. He needed to read up a little bit, and with all the access he had procured recently; which was very little, he was well on his way through a very interesting informational journey.
Of course, when going on these journeys, one usually needs a break or two. A pit stop on the side of the road, for some coffee, a doughnut or two, and a conversation with a trucker who is too nice not to be suspicious of. He was silently hoping his break would come soon, for there was hardly any information available for him to grasp on their newfound, albeit elusive, ally.
Elusive, in Shaver’s newfound opinion, was an understatement. He was familiar with most computer systems; but computers can only be entered when there is information to be found in them. Earthforce computer systems that he chedked while on B5, said that there was never a Hellfire built. The files used by the Rangers, to show the Hellfire’s updates and files, had been deleted as per order of Sheridan himself. Fragomeni’s only files found were of course, minimally helpful- except for that he had blown a lot of money on a nice place to live at on Babylon 5, and is renting it out to a man named Ter’kkil.
“Where the he– ah… finally.”
Terry Hale turned a final corner and surveyed her victory. She’d finally discovered Shaver’s quarters. The man had proven hard to hunt down in his self-imposed seclusion. Hale had wanted to catch him away from the formal bridge and offices, but accidental encounters didn’t happen with the Commander. And so between search reports and now the death of one of the crew in an engineering accident, Hale was forced by duty to hunt him down.
She wasn’t particularly sure what she was going to say, either. How did you go about discussion treason and murder? Oh, to have a simple case of bruised feelings or petty misdemeanors to settle. Her old crew wasn’t nearly so complicated…
With a sigh Hale leaned forward and touched the door chime.
Dylan Shaver sat at the console in his quarters, tapping impatiently away, until the sound of his door chime invaded his concentration. It echoed through his brain like a bad opera, every high note and shrill cutting through his mind. He blinked and glanced back, half-startled, and half relieved to be delivered from his work. “A visitor? Ugh. I didn’t know anybody knew where this place was…. Enter.”
The door whispered open to reveal none other than Terry Hale. She stepped just inside the doorway, hands clasped behind her back. Her gaze flicked over the careful order of his quarters then to Shaver’s face. “Commander. I’ve been meaning to speak to you.”
“Ah,” Shaver stood and saluted, “Captain Hale.”
Hale waved away the salute. “You’re not easy to run into.”
“I try to keep it that way.”
“So….” Hale paused, searching for words and Shaver moved toward the kitchen, far more at ease than the other Ranger.
“Would you like something to drink?” he asked courteously as he retrieved a bottle of mineral water. The sound of water pouring filled the incredible silence between words.
“Ah, no, thank you.” Hale frowned off at some unseen point. “Shaver, I’ll be frank. I’ve been learning some disturbing things about you.”
Shaver chuckled, he had been awaiting this time for quite a while, and much like his first meeting with Santiago when he got back from looking for the former security officer, 090, he didn’t expect it to go very well..
Hale’s eyebrows rose. “Being accused a war criminal is amusing?” she asked.
“It is now, because it happens so often.” Shaver sipped at his water, walking back out into the main room. “It’s one hell of an icebreaker at parties.”
Hale folded her arms, obviously not entertained, “And is it true?”
“Is it true? Well, did you ever serve in Earthforce, Captain?”
Shaver nodded slowly, “Well, perhaps you’ve heard of a few specific vessels? The Chimera? The Styx? The Oberon?”
“I believe so; in the news.”
“Well, you can relate my name to their destruction, if that is what you’re asking. A few others, too.”
Hale’s expression went stiff. Shaver was long used to all the varieties of reaction.
“Just like that?” Hale asked quietly.
“If you want to call me a war criminal before hearing my side, then yes, just like that.”
“And what is your side?”
“Well….,” Shaver sat again and set his glass on the table. Hale leaned against the wall by the door, about as comfortable as she was going to make herself, “Early in my career… I had a short encounter with the Vorlons. I’m not really sure what all I did while with them, but they gave me some friendly Vorlon… advice.
Hale’s eyes narrowed, “Sounds more like a command than advice.”
Shaver raised an eyebrow, “Take it as what you will, I didn’t have to do what I did. But they gave me the means to do it with.”
“Why did you do it?”
“They showed me what would happen if I didn’t…”
“And what would have happened?”
Shaver didn’t answer at first. The silence stretched as he took a sip of water and looked out the window.
“The Minbari warrior caste was planning on destroying Earth…” he said finally and shrugged. “Nothing new….”
“And destroying our ships was going to help stop that?” Hale snapped.
“Our? You were never there.”
“Humans.” Hale’s glance all but said: Do you remember them?
“Think of it this way…. We fight them, they fight us. We fight back… they send more ships. Many more…. As opposed to we fight them, they fight us.
“With the war going well, they don’t need to send ships… the Grey Council and the Minbari Government are much more able to control the whims of the Warrior Caste when they’ve only got a small, battered fleet opposing them. When they call their ships back, the Warrior Caste can’t fight the order…. So they stop.
“Or, say the war had continued… with the advancements in fleet technology, we may have stood a chance. The war goes on for ten, twenty more years. And the Shadows come… and attack both sides in the middle of a war.”
Shaver stood up. “Figure the statistics of that, Miss Hale.”
Walking to the kitchen, Shaver stopped and glared at her. “I saw it happen; you didn’t.”
“You saw the future?” Hale’s voice was hard and skeptical.
“I… really don’t remember… I’ve got blocks up all over… sometimes, it feels like I lived it. Maybe I did.
“The future isn’t mapped. What would be the point of choices then?”
“Isn’t it, Captain?”
“I don’t believe so.”
“Have you been there?”
“The Future? No, of course not.”
“Then how can you make that assumption?”
“And who are you to say I’m wrong?” Hale countered. She waved her hand to the ship around her. “Then why try? If it will happen despite us, why bother?”
“Depends on the perspective. For us, the future is new, we live for the future. Fight for it. Die for it.” Shaver paused. “Even kill for it…” He pointed out the window. “For them… it’s already happened.”
“We aren’t them.”
“You’re right, but we all live in the same time, but at different places in it.”
Hale shook her head. “I can’t run this ship on philosophy. They are gone. It’s our time now.”
Shaver looked at her. “You’re right, Now it is our time… but they’re not gone. Listen to yourself, it’s our time NOW but you’re here to ask me about the PAST.”
“They are gone.” Hale stated flatly.
“Are you sure?”
“Were you at the last battle? I was.”
For a long minute they stared at each other neither willing to shift their ground, rooted in their beliefs in how they saw the universe and their place in it.
Hale sighed, her voice fallen back to normal levels again. “I didn’t come here to argue philosophy. I’m here in the understanding that history has a habit of repeating itself, and I mean to see it doesn’t.”
“How can you plot the future like that, Captain? Hmm? You come in here, knowing absolutely nothing about that. Or about me… and tell me the future isn’t mapped. And yet tell me in that perspective that the future could be — and you want to make sure it doesn’t. If the Minbari thought that — who are far more numerous and, I’ll bet my last cent much more experienced than you — would I be here, second in command of the largest, fastest, strongest ship of the fleet?
“Commander, enough. They may be able to order my compliance, but I think for myself and believe as I will and no High Council or government is ever going to dictate to me, human, Minbari or otherwise.” Hale turned away to leave. “I know humans, the Minbari can make mistakes… and the Vorlons. Watch yourself, Commander,” she said over her shoulder and left.
Shaver watched the door close and fell down on his chair, laughing. She had no idea…