Characters: Katia Santiago, Miina Awenata, Dr. Robert Evers
“Come one step closer to me,” she hissed through teeth clenched against the pain, “and demon or no, I swear I’ll run you through!”
At that moment, Katia came up behind Bobby just in time to hear the threat spoken. The angry words made them both blink and hesitate for just a moment.
“The last was a Minbari … now humans? What will it be next?” The woman spoke with the gravity of a warrior on the battlefield who refused to go down in defeat. Her words were draining her of the little strength she had left, but still she continued. “What do you want from me?”
Katia spoke first. “We aren’t going to hurt you. I am Katia Santiago of the RS Phoenix … and this is Bobby Evers. He is a doctor. And you look as if you could use some help.”
Katia’s mere tone of voice seemed to drain the anger from the injured woman. It was as if the woman had been prepared for battle, and now stood helpless, disarmed by Katia’s kindness. She had no defense against Katia’s gentle words.
“The Phoenix?” she said blankly. Her eyes grew wide and the blood drained from her face. “Dear God … what happened to the Hellfire?” The enormity of what had just happened to her, or rather, the fact that she didn’t know what happened to her began to settle over her. “You mean I’m … not dreaming?”
“The Hellfire?” Bobby asked, taking cautious steps toward her so as not to alarm her further. “Are you from the Hellfire?”
“No, you are not dreaming,” Katia assured her in the same calming voice. “And we are from the Phoenix.” Katia paused, allowing her words to sink in. “Do you know what happened to the Hellfire?”
“Yes …” the woman answered slowly, but the pain in her head was taking its toll. She raised a hand to her forehead. “I mean no, nothing happened … that is … I was only there a moment ago … in Medlab…”
“No, you were here, in the shuttle.” Bobby tried to help her piece her thoughts together.
“No!” she said, leaning forward for emphasis. “I was there …” But she leaned forward a little too much, and Bobby and Katia both moved to catch her.
“Come and sit down,” Bobby told her, and they helped her back into the pilot’s chair. “The Hellfire disappeared from our instruments, and we don’t know where she is. You took the shuttle from the Hellfire?” Bobby asked, opening up a scanner.
“No,” she said, shaking her head, “this shuttle? I … I woke up in the shuttle … Don’t know how … or where …”
“But you were flying the shuttle, weren’t you?”
“Yes,” she said slowly, “but once we came through … the atmosphere … it wouldn’t let me …”
“You mean it went out of control,” he offered.
“No,” she said, “it …” She sighed, and looked helplessly at the damaged cockpit. She shook her head. “Never mind.”
Katia looked at Bobby, and then at the injured woman, her concern showing plainly on her face. “Who are you?” she asked softly.
“I was having this terrible … nightmare … in Medlab,” the woman said in a whisper. Then she turned to Katia as if she had just heard the question. “Cat …” She swallowed. Her mouth was very dry. “Cat … triona … Morgan.”
“And you say you were in the Hellfire not too long ago?” Bobby asked. She looked at him dumbly for a moment.
“Yes … a few minutes … no more … I think … I don’t know how long I was … asleep…”
Bobby held the scanner close to her forehead. “You have a minor concussion, and a few contusions and abrasions. We are going to see that you are taken care of.” The woman, Cat, just stared at him, hoping her eyes could convey how grateful she was.
“What is the last thing you remember?” Katia asked softly. “Cat, is it?”
Cat nodded. “I was in Medlab … on the Hellfire … and this strange Minbari woman …” she turned to Katia and looked into her eyes. “Awful nightmares … and terrible pain … She kept saying the same thing over and over.”
Bobby continued his scan while Katia was keeping Cat occupied. He scanned her leg more than once and shook his head. “Fractured tibia,” he said, though not as much to his patient as to himself. “That is not good. We will need the bone regenerator back on the ship in order to fix that. Here, let me give you something for the pain,” he said, injecting a painkiller.
“All I felt was pain,” she whispered.
Katia didn’t know if Cat was talking about her nightmares or her broken leg. “What was it that the Minbari woman said?” she asked.
Cat’s strength was obviously waning due to her ordeal, but she pressed on, as if driven. “Something about walking in the dark … uh … on a bridge somewhere. I don’t know … living … and dying for … someone … it made no sense, but …” she said.
Katia and Bobby exchanged glances for a moment. “We walk in the dark places no one may enter,” Katia whispered softly. “We stand on the bridge and no one may pass. We live for the One. We die for the One.”
“Yes!” Cat said, as if she had a sudden rush of adrenalin. She clutched at Katia’s arm. “HOW DID YOU KNOW?”
Katia winced a bit in pain as her arm was grabbed. “That is the Ranger’s oath.”
Suddenly Cat thought that Katia might be in league with the strange Minbari woman. She drew back and her breathing grew labored, but she held onto Katia’s arm with a steely grip as if she was drowning and Katia was her last hope.
“Bobby, do something!”
Bobby was working on Cat’s leg to ease the pain, adjusting a splint and trying to set the bone while she was distracted. “I am kinda busy right now, Katia. Keep talking to her.”
“It’s going to be okay,” Katia said tentatively. “We are not going to hurt you.”
“But you knew.” It was almost an accusation, but it ended in a choked sob.
“Shhhh,” Katia whispered, stroking Cat’s hair. “It is the Oath of the Rangers. We are all Rangers on the Phoenix. We all know the Oath.”
“But that was exactly what she said,” Cat whispered faintly. She let her hands go limp, releasing Katia’s hand, and suddenly felt sympathy for her. “Then she has come to you as well?”
Katia shook her head. “I don’t know who this woman was or what she was doing, but perhaps you are being called to serve.”
“Called,” Cat repeated. “Yes … that is what she said … that I knew for a long time I was being called … but I had chosen not to listen until now … that I must learn to walk in the footsteps of,” she looked at Katia for confirmation, “Valen?” Katia looked away for a moment to Bobby, who was looking up at the two of them. But it was all too much for Cat. Her head was swimming.
“You will come with us on the Phoenix,” Katia told her, “and once we get back to Babylon 5, you could…”
“Babylon 5,” she said, recognizing the name. “I live there…or I did until…”
“Well, you can go back home then….or you could catch a transport and move on to Minbar to see if that is where your destiny lies.”
Our destinies rarely are given voices, Cat heard the woman’s voice in her head.
Bobby picked up a hypo to give her sedative. “I think you should sleep for a bit, Ms. Morgan.”
But Cat reached out in panic to take Katia’s hand again, and looked first at Bobby, then at Katia. She shook her head in protest. “No, not sleep!!” she said desperately. “No dreams!!!”
Cat’s distress was plain, but Katia felt it even more intensely. She laid a hand on Cat’s arm. “You won’t dream…” she assured her. “I promise you that…” She blinked, not sure she heard herself say that. And she looked into Cat’s eyes to reassure her, but was not prepared for the rush of images that she received:
a Minbari woman with eyes that seemed to look right into the soul, her hands reaching out, drawing all consciousness from Cat, and sending blinding flashes of pain through her head. “Our destinies rarely are given voices,” the woman whispered softly, oblivious to any discomfort that she was causing. “But perhaps the combination of your… stubborness…and your present location…” Vorlon space….
Katia closed her eyes for just a moment to break off the physical link with Cat but the images were still there and she grabbed her head as it began to ache, then she closed down her defenses and laid a shield around Cat’s mind. Cat suddenly felt as if someone had draped a warm blanket around her shoulders. She sighed and leaned her head against Katia, and closed her eyes. Katia felt torn–and scared–at the thought of using her abilities, but felt the fragileness of the woman and decided that she had no other choice.
Katia stroked Cat’s hair again, and tried to calm her own feelings as well. “Hold still now,” she soothed, “Dr. Evers is going to give you something to help you sleep. And don’t worry, you won’t dream…” She could feel the woman sigh and settle against her, and she nodded to Bobby. He administered the sedative, and resumed working on the injured leg.
“A strange, glowing city and now someone from Hellfire,” Bobby said, almost to himself. “Looks like we found more than we bargained for.”
Copyright (c) 1998 Judy Caswell and Tamara Friese. All rights reserved.