Characters: Katia Santiago, Miina Awenata, Dr. Robert Evers
Katia, Miina, and Bobby continued their trek through the jungle-like growth that laid out on the plateau leading them to their final destination. The Security Personnel walked one taking point about fifteen feet in front of them with the others placed one in front and one in back of the small group. All were watching carefully where they were going, not sure what exactly they were after. The green, lush plants that grew on this planet left little doubt as to why the Vorlons had chosen this planet as their home for so long. Although at this point, the small group had no indications that there had ever been any life on this beautiful planet, so they continued making their way to the energy readings they had been told were there.
Katia looked over at Miina and Bobby, wondering if they were thinking the same thing she was, that there didn’t seem to be anything here at all and they were on a wild goose chase of some sort. Miina gave her a commiserating look with a small smile, understanding the Chief’s frustrations. Bobby had long since fallen into a silence, realizing that his attempts to lighten the mood were not working with these two very serious engineers. Geez, he thought to himself, tough audience. I hope all engineers aren’t as bad as these two. Makes me happy I work in medical with all the other fun stiffs. At that thought he chuckled to himself and the other two looked at him, Katia finally cracking a small smile, her first since being sent on this assignment.
The Chief Engineer had been contemplating their current situation and come to realize that whatever was happening, whatever they were doing, just may be necessary in order to find out what had happened to the Hellfire. Part of her ambivalence in completing this mission had come from the fact that she realized she may not want to know what happened to the Hellfire. If it were something horrible, that would mean, her friend, Alex Rockovich, the XO For the Hellfire may no longer be alive, and that thought scared her. They had finally renewed their close relationship after so many years and Katia was not wanting to give that up, and that included the hope that they were still alive somewhere out there in the vastness of Vorlon space. She had done a complete turn in her attitude since coming down to the planet, but she still wanted to just find what there was to find and return to the ship as quickly as possible. So, when the doctor smiled a bit at her, she finally returned the smile and looked around, hoping they were nearing the spot of the disturbances.
As she broke the silence, she said, “So, do either of you remember where we parked? It would help to know that if we need to get out of here quickly. Although, at this rate we would probably be eaten by something before we reached the shuttle, we have been walking so long.” The others could feel the change in her mood and the humor with which she said that and everyone, including the security officers smiled in response.
Miina included, “Or, with our communications out, it would be more our luck we would fall into a big pit and be unable to get out and the ship would have no way of finding us with all the erratic activity of the sensors around this planet.” They all chuckled at the statements that were plainly not amusing in the least, except to remind everyone, that no matter what they thought of their current mission, things could always be worse then they were now, and for that, they were thankful.
Just as they were starting to relax, they stepped up over a rise that included a clearing and before them stood a large ravine that had an overhang. They had finally arrived. The shadows made the opening seem a bit foreboding, but the brightness of the trees and other foliage softened the effect of the cave like entrance.
“Well, it looks like we have arrived,” Bobby quipped dryly.
Katia nodded, once again a bit serious, but not sullen as she had been before. “Yes, it does indeed. Let’s get down there and take a look and get back to the ship as quickly as possible, shall we?”
The others agreed, and they started down the hill, slowly making their way into the opening and into the unknown. As they got closer, the vegetation slowly thinned out and by the time they were 50 feet from the edge of the ravine there was none left to walk through, which made it easier to walk quickly. The security officer who had taken point moved off in front of them to check out the area before the rest of the party made its way closer to the overlook. Once the Minbari reached the edge, he seemed to stop, transfixed by something that seemed to have him in shock. The rest of the group sped up their pace and finally stopped.
Miina looked down at the portable scanner she held in her hand and spoke quickly, “Katia, our scanners are no longer getting any readings. There is something either blocking them or scrambling the results.” With that, the engineer adjusted the scanner and continued to get the same results.
The Doctor glanced down at his scanner as well and agreed, “I am getting the same readings. I don’t know what is doing it, but all I am getting is static.”
“Well, we have to check out those energy fluctuations, so with, or without our scanners, we have to go in,” the Chief Engineer answered to their concerns. She would already see the Security Personnel gearing up for trouble, not liking the current situation. I don’t like it either, Katia thought to herself, But, I don’t think we have much choice in this matter at the moment. “Let’s go,” she ordered and started to move toward the edge of the ravine once more.
As the group neared the opening, it became apparent why the point man had stopped so suddenly and was looking agape down into the valley. Though the valley was covered with a rocky overhang, and it looked as if they were definitely in a cave at this point, there was light emanating from some source down below. As they approached closer, the buildings and terraces they saw in the light was like nothing they had ever seen before. The buildings themselves seemed luminescent and the streets seemed to shine. There were no actual doorways into any of the buildings it seemed from this distance, but there were plenty of windows and other openings that could be entrances of some sort. The five people stood looking down in awestruck wonder at the creations of the Vorlons. It was more beautiful than anything they had seen before, even than the crystalline structures back on Minbar.
Almost as one, they began to move toward the long stairway that seemed to take them down to the bottom where they could get a better look. The scanners continued to give no readings, but at this point, they needed no readings to tell them any more than what their senses could. It was simply one of those moments that one did not want interfered with technology. And they left it at that. The trek would take about an hour of steady walking to get to the bottom, but they knew it would be worth every minute.
Copyright (c) 1998 Judy Caswell and Tamara Friese. All rights reserved.