Visit From Beyond

Characters: Ryath Oaks

Ryath had spent the time the Phoenix was refitted to figure herself out, learn and practice telepathic exercises, and complete other business.

She was on her way to join the Phoenix, still mulling over her last encounter. Why did it have to end like that? she thought for the twentieth time in 10 minutes. She replayed the action again in her minds eye, leaving the Flyer to its task of weaving through the hyperspace currents towards Minbar.

She had been researching the Psi Corp. data on training telepaths, and practicing the techniques when she received a message. At first she didn’t recognize who the message was from. The rune attached to it seemed a distant memory. Opening the message in her minds eye, Ryath was surprised to see an invitation to meet. The rune had been repeated at the end of the message, but so too had the authors name. -Sherina.

Ryath had last seen Sherina just before they left Babylon 5, with Elric. Sherina had been on the ‘other’ transport with Calvin. “Oh sweet poor Calvin.” The memory of her flooded Ryath with emotions she had never quite learned to control. Rage of the terrible loss of so many Mages threatened to overrun her, again.

“So, Sherina, you escaped another death?” she whispered. The meeting was set for three days time, and on Mars. Both the time and place of the meeting upset Ryath. “Why there, then?” She couldn’t make sense of it. If it was a trap, which she was almost certain it was, then why choose a place that would be inhospitable to both of them, and why give Ryath only three days to get there? Sure, Ryath could make it in three days, but that would mean she had no time to really ponder the reasons for the invitation, which would be half the fun for Sherina. She had always been into ‘mind games’. The more bazaar the better.

Ryath set the Flyer on course for Mars and calculated the quickest flight path, taking half a day off the flight time.

Another message! Sherina was going to make certain Ryath was at the meeting. Ryath hadn’t replied, so Sherina was repeating herself. Why once again Ryath was thrown by Sherinas’ actions. She began thinking along parallel lines. Maybe Sherina was in trouble and Ryath was the only Mage she could contact? No! she thought shaking her head with a wry smile on her lips Sherina would rather die than ask me for help. It is a trap! She was trying to get Ryath away from something, or somewhere, or someone? But what, where or who?

Ryath accessed some of the few remaining probes working on the Phoenix. For some reason the probe that had made its’ way to the security section had been recharged. Scanning the location she couldn’t see from what, but then the new probes had been designed to try and find a power source to maintain usefulness. She saw Darquin walking towards her. The image made her feel a little nauseous at first. The probe was close to the ground and for a brief moment Ryath got the distinct feeling that Darquin was going to step on her.

Darquin was talking to the Narn she had followed, via probes, after leading Darquin to a very ill looking man, in a very dark, church-like place. The Narn hadn’t been of any use. He basically hung around his friend and then went back to his quarters. Ryath found him so uninteresting that she had decided it was time for his life to have some adventure in it. She accessed the data and consoles of the Rangers Head Quarters and bumped his name up a couple of places on the waiting list for the Phoenix. She had replaced his name on the list for a little transport ship with that of a Minbari of the warrior class.

As they approached her Ryath accessed the audio. She couldn’t believe it, they were talking about her! How dare they! She was about to project a holo-image of herself, just to scare them, when she pick up on another image from another probe. She changed focus and watched.

The probe was placed inside a shuttle the shuttle wasn’t piloted by anyone on the Phoenix, not even a new recruit. That in itself was not an issue, what troubled Ryath was that the pilot seemed a little too interested in the cargo of armament that was aboard. With only a light guard of Darquin’s security, it woud be easy for someone to remove or set the armament. Of course being aboard the shuttle with the potential bomb wasn’t a good thing, but plenty of people in history had shown the levels some would go to to do the things they believed was right. Ryath instructed the probe to turn slightly, trying to get a better look at the pilot.

The face that she saw shocked her more than it should have. “Sherina! But How?…..” The messages she had received had come from Mars, she knew because each Mage, when they send a message, sends a return address. A way for the other Mage to reply, the sequence of relays needed to be used. Then it clicked. Sherina wasn’t on Mars. She knew through the talk of the crew that Ryath had an interest in the Phoenix, and guessed she wouldn’t be far. But why was Sherina on Minbar?

How had she managed to get on the planet surface without someone finding out? The Minbari were noted for their ability to be able to ‘read’ shadow energy. Even if it was just a gut instinct, it spooked nearly every Mage, and they agreed to stay away from Minbar.

What was she planning, and had Ryath enough time to change direction again and personally intercept her, or did she have to contact the Phoenix directly. Immediately she gave the command the Flyer doubled back and shot into the swirling currents of Hyper space. Ryath all the time keeping an eye on Sherina. This must be one of the last shuttles to the Phoenixbefore she departs on her next mission. But what have you got against the Phoenix, or her crew? she thought staring at the image in her mind’s eye.

It didn’t take long for the Flyer to trill its confirmation of Minbari space, and then jump to normal space just in front of the Phoenix. She still hadn’t decided how she was going to get Sherina to stop what she planned, but figured it would come to her when she caught up with her. Ryath angled the Flyer so that it would cross the path of the shuttle on its way to thePhoenix. Quickly the Flyer dipped and turned and kept out of view until the final moment when it flew close enough to the shuttle that Ryath could see Sherina’s eyes as she saw and recognised the rune on the Flyer. In that instant Ryath saw, in her mind, Sherina would cancel her plans, for now.

The Phoenix was safe, today.

Ryath swept back around and followed the shuttle into the flight deck of the Phoenix. It was the first time she had flown her own ship into the Phoenix, and smiled as those about the deck stopped and stared. She hadn’t gotten permission to land, so Ryath simply turned her Flyer around and hovered there, watching the shuttle being unloaded, all the time searching for Mage energy. When no-one came out apart from the security guards, and the shuttle lifted off again, Ryath backed the Flyer out of the Phoenix, being closely followed by the shuttle. As the shuttle exited the Phoenix, it turned sharply and flew off towards a Minbari moon. Ryath pursued, and noticed the jumppoint forming just in time to see a large ship, the type she had never seen before, exit gather up the shuttle turn and then jump back to hyperspace. Ryath instructed her Flyer to pursue, just as she received another message from Sherina. It read:

 You should have gone to Mars! Now you have lost all that 
 you held dear. You chose, not me. This is on you!
 I will be around, watching.

Ryath noted the attachment to the message. She stopped the Flyer dead in space. A feeling of complete dread welled up from the pit of her stomach. She took a deep breath and opened the attachment. It was a file Sherina had just received from another Mage. The first line confirmed no response from Ryath, the second line read:

 It is done!

It is done? she thought. She opened the file, and watched the probe recording of her teacher, Olyn, being flayed. The tech being pulled from his body. Olyn sat rock solid, not uttering a sound, not even with the death blow. Ryath sat there shaking. She wasn’t sure whether she shook from rage or tears, but both were present, and one needed to take control. She allowed herself her tears, she had never been good at hiding them. She would swallow her rage, until she faced Sherina and her friend in person. She filed the messages and turned the Flyer around. She would return to the Phoenix when she knew she could trust herself around people again.

Babylon 5 TM and 2002 Warner Bros.

Phoenix–“Visit from Beyond” (c) 2002 Niki Hipwood