The Naming of Names
Characters: Phoenix crew
“Captain on the bridge!”
The bridge crew stood at attention as Captain Hale came out of the lift with a small lacquered box. Margaret Morgan joined her as they took their places in front of the command chair.
She looked to Yoshino Marina, who touched a control on her Operations console. Cascading into existence like fountains a half-circle of hologram images–of Main Engineering, the flight deck, Medlab One, the Main Science lab–sprang around the perimeter of the main bridge.
“All present,” Morgan said.
Captain Hale placed the box in her hands. “You may proceed with the Naming of Names.”
From the box, Morgan took a star-shaped emblem set with a gemstone in its center. She held it up for everyone to see, speaking the litany as it began to glow. “This star reminds us that we are born of the stars. We live in starlight. We die in starlight. We come from the stars in life, and we return to the stars in death. When we are done, the star shall be placed in the heart of the ship, where it shall remain for as long as we do.
“Your name. Your place. Your truth.”
The first to accept the twinkling star was a human woman, whose dark Ranger uniform accentuated her pale skin and white-gold hair. Where other Rangers carried their folded denn’bok, she wore a pair of Japanese swords. “Yoshino Marina of Earth, ship’s operations manager,” she said in a soft but clear tone. “I have found my voice in song.”
Yoshino passed the token to the man next to her, letting her fingers linger on his as it changed hands.
“Tomás Darquin, from Earth. Chief of Security, fighter pilot.” He grinned. “I think my place is really here, on the Phoenix.” He stared into the star emblem, searching for his truth. “I hoped to find … beauty … at the end of my journey.” A blush permeated his tan features as he glanced at Yoshino beside him. “I think it found me.”
From him, the token passed to a tall human with a large nose and a white streak in his black hair. “Peter Carlacci of Earth, navigation specialist and jump engineer,” he said clearly. He paused a moment, glancing at Darquin before adding, “I’m here for the generation that will follow.”
Next to Carlacci, a Narn took the star. “G’fen. Quadrant 14, among other places. Security officer. I carry a promise.”
Still gleaming in his hands, the star threw a beam into the hologram of Medlab One, where the medics held their own replica of the star. From their hologram of the bridge, the beam shot out, striking their star, setting off a glimmer.
Helle listened to the others’ name, place, truth statements and was reminded of making New Year’s Eve resolutions. She suppressed a smile and hoped she did better with this than with every single resolution she had ever made.
Now the star came to her. “Helle Brannon of Earth. Doctor. I want to do exceptional work, be a good person and be free from compulsive behaviour.” And never let alcohol get the better of me ever again. She mentally added yet another part: And one day I hope to have the courage to say that last bit out loud.
Helle passed the star to a slightly built Minbari woman. “Daanike of Minbar,” she said with a smile. “Healer. Compassion is my delight. Entil’zha veni.” She bowed reverently and passed the token.
The tension in the room suddenly skyrocketed. The man who took the star in his hands did his best to ignore it. He spoke quietly but clearly. “Dunstan Kordieh of Tuzanor. Healer’s assistant.” He looked around the room and at the holograms, glancing at the images of Morgan and Darquin. “Forgiveness is the greatest gift of all.”
The glimmer faded from their token and transferred to the Engineering Section. When the glowing star came to him, Tass paused. Serious ceremonies had never been his forte, and most of the Rangers had never heard his full name. They’d probably think he was saying some little known phrase in Adronato.
“Apoloniusz Tasszhar,” he said. Then he grinned and added, “Tass, of Earth. Assistant Engineer. I have found my heart in the brightness of the waxing moon.”
He didn’t care that his truth sounded cryptic. He caught a brief glimpse of Miina in the hologram from the Science Lab, and saw by the flush in her cheeks that she had caught his meaning.
In the lab itself, an Asian woman was lifting their star as it shimmered in time with its master, to speak in her turn. “Kim Matsumoto, of… no planet in particular,” she said, her expression purposeful but relaxed. “Chief of Science. So much has changed, and I find I don’t mind it at all.”
The man who took the token from Kim stood just slightly shorter than she. “Charles Cameron of Earth — but most people call me Cam. Xenoarchaeology mission specialist. There’s more to life than just living.”
As she took the star, Miina’s cheeks were still warm with the memory of her husband’s truth. It was a word play on her given name, Migina, in her native tongue. They had not shared with each other what their truths would be, and suddenly, the simple truth she had intended to speak had another meaning. Her truth, yet unchanged, would now answer his.
But there would be one slight change elsewhere she would make. She had wondered how many of the Rangers knew she and Tass had married, and realized that it would be very easy to let everyone know. She also wondered if any of the Minbari had heard of the ancient Greek god of the sun, whom Tass had been named for.
When it was her turn, she said simply, “Miina…” she paused slightly and finished with, “Awenata-Tasszhar, of Earth, Assistant Science. I had to walk in darkness to find the light.”
As their token faded out, the pilots on the flight deck were the next group to receive the phantom light. “Cat Rosha, pilot, Storm One,” the first of them said softly, focusing on the token in her hands and avoiding the looks of the people around her. “I seek the knowledge of the First Ones.” She quickly passed the star to the next pilot.
A human with rumpled red hair and a mischievous glitter in his eyes took the token and said, “Eddie Kriechbaum of Earth. Starfury pilot, Storm Three. Rock on!”
The tawny-haired woman next to him snatched the star away, with a distinct you’re-gonna-pay-for-that look. “Brenda Mawarra of Earth,” she said, drawing a deep breath. “Starfury pilot, Storm Four. The Dreamtime is always with me.”
An alien with a large, hairless head took the star from Brenda. He looked at it with eyes that were set deep under heavy brows and a grief that seemed as permanent as the mottling of his skin. “Lazaret of Markab,” he said. “Starfury co-pilot, Storm Three. My people are waiting where death holds no sway.”
From the Starfury pilots of Storm Squadron, the star went next to the Zen’thas pilots of Desell Squadron. Their leader was the first to speak. “Ayeshalan of Shengol. Zen’thas pilot, Desell One. I see more clearly with one eye than ever I did with two.”
She passed the star to a Minbari whose eyes shone with the excitement and honor of the moment. “Ferran,” he said. “Pilot of Desell Two, ISA Phoenix. We live and die in starlight and shadows. The void is all. Entil’zha veni.”
After the pilots, a human with a long ponytail of prematurely graying hair took the token. “Paul Maxwell of Proxima. Starfury maintenance and repair specialist. This place and moment in time is all that I have.”
Once its journey was complete, the light shot out from the holo-images, back to the bridge and its source. Morgan held the star up as the beam returned and put out the eerie glow. “Margaret Morgan. Pick a mining colony.” Her mouth quirked. “Shok’na li. I am home.”
Finally, the star passed to the Captain. She held it up and said, “Shok’na Terry Hale, of Earth. The unexpected can be very encouraging.”
With a small smile, Hale returned the star to Morgan. Returning it to its resting place, she held the box up so everyone could see. “We are Rangers,” she said. “We walk in the dark places no others will enter. We stand on the bridge, and no one may pass. We live for The One. We die for The One.”
The crew’s response rang out from the comm system. “Isil’zha veni…in Valen’s name!”
Captain Hale nodded to Morgan. They were done, one crew in one voice. “To your stations. Mr. Carlacci, take us out.”
Phoenix–“The Naming of Names” (c) 2002 ISA Phoenix Crew
Babylon 5 tm and (c) 2002 Warner Bros.