Ticket To Ride

Characters: Tomás Darquin, Yoshino Marina

(Set during the latter half of “Who Are You”)



Giving his tan face a hard rub, Darquin took Yoshino’s data crystal out of his pocket.

He indulged in one big stretch to work out the kinks, then fired up the monitor. Almost on cue Yoshino stepped into his office. “Darquin-san? I was told you were here. It’s late, isn’t it?”

“Naaaah aaahm–” Darquin clamped his jaws shut after a big yawn. “Nah, I’m fine. Sorry. Just enough energy to get a little further on this.” He showed her the data crystal and tapped it into the reader. “Then I’ll hit the sack.”

“I wouldn’t ask you to–”

“You didn’t,” he said, giving her his usual grin. “I won’t get any sleep until I crack this anyway. Want a seat, Marina-chan?”

She nodded, smiling. “Thank you. You are most kind.”

“Careful, it’s a trade secret. Okay, the stegg-ware’s loaded.”

“I tried to teach Kitsune a few tricks like this,” Yoshino said as she perched on a chair next to Darquin’s desk. “I hope she remembered them.”

“She remembered some,” Darquin offered with a grin. “Something’s in there. Just not all in the same place. Is there a specific match you or her would watch first?”

Her eyes grew wide. “The first part of her message would be there! Let’s try Munenorimaru’s first bout of the autumn basho.”

“Computer, scene-to-frame index.” Frame captures, time-stamps, and computer code formed clean tables down the screen. “Here’s his first appearance on the vid. An interview or something. Takes a seat near the dohyu here…and he’s getting up. I’ll start there.” He tapped the relevant frame on the screen. “Once it matches up all the data tags, we’ll see something.”

“Excellent. Thank you.”

“No problem. So this guy’s fighting name is Munenorimaru?”

Yoshino nodded. “He’s very likely the next yokozuna. Kitsune knows him better than I do — we only met once.”

“I guess I better read up on–” He grinned despite himself. “There’s an encrypted text file here.”

“Encrypted?” Yoshino pursed her lips, then sprinted out into the security office and activated one of the terminals. “Let me see if we can figure out which key she might have used.”

“You got it!” Darquin came out of his office to join her. “Copy transferred to that terminal. Fire away.”

Yoshino tried number combinations, her heart thumping, and gasped when a letter popped onto the screen. “It’s here! Look!”

 I hope you find this.  I hope I did this right!  As you know,
 the Psi-Corps is after me.  I was getting ready to run for it,
 when the clan told me they wanted me to go with them to New
 Kobe.  Frankly I think they will let me fall into Psi-Corps
 hands the first chance they get, regardless.  So as soon as we
 reach New Kobe I am going to grab the first ship I can find,
 wherever it goes.  I hope eventually I can reach Narn or one
 of their colonies.  I've heard they don't have telepaths -- 
 so I should be able to make myself useful enough to be safe.
 The cats are safe with our friends at Izutsu Beya -- they 
 assure me they will get their fair share of tai during yusho 
 I'm sorry I won't be able to send you any more vid -- maybe 
 we'll be able to make up for it somewhere.
 Take care.
 Your friend, Kitsune

Yoshino smiled as she reached the end of the note, relieved.

“It’s dated five weeks back,” Darquin said. “If she made it to New Kobe, she’s probably gone again by now.”

“It would explain why none of the clans hadn’t found her — or the Psi-Corps,” Yoshino said. “Where do we start looking?”

“Main holo, jump routes.” He approached the holographic map of jumpgate routes blooming from the floor-mounted projector disk. “Any idea where she was when she sent you that package?”

Yoshino turned her mind back. “The first time-stamp on it came from Proxima.”

“So if she’s going to Narn space….” His voice trailed off as he studied the chart.

“Her main concerns would be to get away from the Psi-Corps and the clan,” Yoshino said. “That would force her to avoid Earth-controlled territories.”

“Then she jumped ship at Proxima and hopped freight, she went into Ch’lonas territory. That’s the quickest way out of Earth Alliance space from there. That’d take her the long way around, three weeks if she’s lucky.”

“She might feel safer. And more confident.”

“If that’s true, she’ll head for the Sirius transfer point. Otherwise it’d take her months to reach a Narn colony.”

Yoshino sighed. “Poor Kitsune. Such a long journey, even now.”

“It’ll be okay. Just a slight detour. Once we get the word out to the patrols over there, we’ll find a way to get her to Minbar. I’ll talk to Morgan and the Captain about it in the morning.” Darquin passed his hand over the holo-projection to shut it off. “Now I’ll hit the sack.”

“I’m glad. You look very tired.”

“Guilty,” he grinned, one hand raised. “Now that we got this figured out and Ryath’s business with the Captain sorted out, I can rest easy–”

He was leaning next to the security monitors when he pulled himself away from it. Contorting, he patted the back of his shoulder as if slapping off a fly. “Or not.”

“What happened?”

“Dunno. Maybe she heard me?” Chuckling, he gave Yoshino a wave goodbye. “Probably a short. See you in the morning.”

Phoenix–“Ticket to Ride” (c) 2003 Jamie Lawson & Joe Medina

Babylon 5 tm and (c) 2003 Warner Bros.