Who Are You, Part 6
Dunstan awoke to the sound of Ryath crying out. He hurdled the back of the sofa and was in a fighting ready stance in her bedroom before he realized she was in no danger. As he turned to leave, she called out again. This time he understood what she said. She had called out a name — “Peter”. As he moved toward her, a holo-image appeared above her body.
The image was of a young boy with blue eyes shaped like Ryath’s. He stared for a moment, and then the image changed. Now it was of a family crying, getting smaller as though Dunstan was moving away from them. Ryath moaned and rolled over, causing the image to blink out.
Dunstan stood leaning against the door frame, chin cupped in one hand. What could disturb her so, that she would seek comfort from images of family? he wondered, thoughts turning to his own family and his last encounter with Lucius on the Day of the Dead. He smiled. “I hope you gain as much comfort as I have,” he whispered.
As in response, Ryath groaned and turned back over, the holo-image reappearing. This time, of a man dressed in black. Dunstan recognized the style, clothing similar to Ryath’s. “Techno-mages!” he whispered, leaning forward slightly to see better.
Ryath called out again. He assumed it was a name, but he had never heard it before. The image shifted and changed again and again. Some he recognized. Others made Ryath call out. There were some that filled him with dread, even though he didn’t have any idea what they were. Ryath became more restless with each image.
Once she tried to sit up, only to collapse back on the bed. As he went over to try and calm her, the image of a Shadow ship appeared and froze him in place. Ryath screamed and threw her arms over her face in a defensive pose. The image changed once again, and Dunstan wondered if this was what Kim and Ryath had been dealing with when something happened to disable her.
The images kept changing. The Phoenix, members of her crew, and images of the boy kept repeating. Dunstan watched each image, looking for changes, trying to make sense of it all. Soon he had slipped into sleep.
Ryath woke with a start. She had been dreaming of her family, something she hadn’t done in a while. She accessed an organelle in her brain. It showed her images of the healing process. There were more organelles and a fair amount of healing had been completed; however, there was still some tissue damage that would require more rest.
Opening her eyes she found she still couldn’t see, but it was probably dark in her bedroom. Slowly she rolled over to the edge of the bed. Even that sent complaints from her muscles. She felt like she had been in a battle, and lost!
Ryath heard a sigh and stopped. She accessed her external sensors and soon found a heat source just to the left of the door to the front room. She connected with the probe on her forehead, only to find it was no longer working. Silently she cursed. She assumed it was Dunstan, but without visual proof the assumption could prove fatal. Then she remembered that she was aboard the Phoenix, and the Rangers wouldn’t let anything happen to her on their own ship. She turned her external sensors towards the outer door and found a heat source there too. This she knew would be G’fen.
She swung her legs over the edge of the bed, the momentum forcing her to sit up, which in turn forced the blood from her head and made her feel very dizzy. She put out her hand to grab the bedclothes, missed and rapped her fingers on the cabinet next to the bed. She was still moving forward. She wasn’t certain she could stand, but now had no choice. As she left the bed she tried to straighten her legs. They failed — but she didn’t hit the floor.
“What are you doing?” Dunstan cried as he caught her. “You shouldn’t be up!” He gently lifted her back onto the bed.
Ryath was confused. She hadn’t heard him cross the room. She was struggling to stay focused. Her head felt foggy; thoughts drifting into clarity only to drift out again. She clung to him like a child scared of the dark. “Dunstan?” she whispered into his ear.
“Yes. What’s wrong?” he asked gently, peeling her away from him to do a visual check of her condition. Apart from obvious disorientation, and the fact her eyes were still closed, she seemed all right.
At the sound of his voice, concerned but calm, Ryath settled a little. “What are you doing in my room?” She hoped the question would distract him from assessing her, as she knew a medic would.
“You … called out during the night. I thought you might need me!” He turned on the bedside lamp and leant in close to her. He lifted her right eyelid; briefly he saw the golden liquid just before she pulled away from him, covering her eyes with her hands.
“Too bright! It was too bright.” The pain that shot through her eye into her head retreated and ebbed away.
“Sorry,” he said, quickly turning the light off. He fetched his medical bag from the front room. Returning, he turned on the penlight from his kit. “I’ve turned the light off, but need to check your eyes. May I?” he sat on the edge of the bed, waiting for her to sit up.
Ryath hesitated for a moment, her thoughts full of the pain she had felt from the light. She connected with her organelles and instructed one to interrupt pain sensation from her eyes. She sat up and removed her hands; each movement felt leaden.
Dunstan leant forward and lifted her left eyelid, trying to make the glance brief. “It looks like the liquid is dispersing. It is almost swirling over the surface of the eye.”
Ryath saw the light from his penlight, but was unable to see beyond it. She couldn’t see the liquid he described; to her, her eyes seemed normal.
He opened the other eye, and got a glimpse of a deep blue iris.
“You have the same color eyes as him!” As she stiffened, he realized he had said it aloud. He lowered the light and released her eyelid.
“Same color as whom?” she asked coldly, knowing exactly who he meant. She looked in his general direction, but wasn’t sure she was really looking at him.
“Last night, you … When you called out, you called out a name. Peter. Is that your son?” he asked, feeling painfully awkward. He hadn’t meant to be so personal.
Ryath smiled. She felt his discomfort and realized he had no ulterior motive. “No. Not my son, but my brother.” She readjusted herself on the bed. “I haven’t seen him in a long time. But how do you know we share the same eyes?” Her thoughts raced. Something had happened while she was asleep. Maybe the Rangers had found out who she really was. Had tracked down her family; and even now, held her little brother hostage against her actions.
Dunstan lowered his head, not able to look at her. “When you called out, a holo-image formed above you. It showed a boy with eyes like yours. He was so young, I assumed he was your son.” He shrugged. His embarrassment would have been easy for anyone in the room to see, but Ryath felt it very clearly. What a casual observer wouldn’t have seen was the undertone of relief she felt coming from him.
Struggling to control and understand her own feelings, Ryath was really not prepared to try and deal with anyone else’s. She tried to scan him telepathically to see if the Rangers had her brother. She received nothing. She tried again; this time she was hit with an image that felt like it was burning its way through her mind. She grabbed her head, squeezing her fists into her temples. As the image died, so did the pain. Once the pain had gone, she able to reconstruct the image. She saw Dunstan with another man, the spitting image. Ryath had read his file and knew this was his brother.
What she didn’t understand now was why she was unable to scan easily; and why when she did get an image, it was accompanied with pain.
Dunstan looked up to see Ryath gripping her head tightly. “Ryath? What’s wrong?” He cupped his hands over hers. “Talk to me, please.”
She felt the warmth and worry emanating from him. The pain had gone; but it had been replaced by a feeling of being watched. Her tech was getting agitated; she felt jumpy. Suddenly, she needed to be away from anyone who could possibly understand who she was. “Dunstan. I’m better. But I need to get to my ship. There are things there that I need.”
“No! You’re in no state to go walking around. I can’t let you go!” He sounded almost frantic, even to him. He coughed, and spoke more slowly. “No, Ryath. It’s not a good idea.”
“You don’t understand, Dunstan. I need to go. I can’t guarantee how I’ll act if I stay here much longer. Something…” She felt silly, thinking the Phoenix was trying to hurt her. But if she wanted him to help, she would have to explain how she felt. “Something doesn’t feel right. It’s almost as though the ship is trying to tell me to leave.” She hoped she wasn’t blushing, or if she were, that the lights were still off so he couldn’t see.
“I know what you mean. I felt the same thing when I came aboard this time. It was as though she really didn’t want me here.” He stood and looked down at her. “I’ll help you to your ship. But you must not be alone, Ryath. Someone has to stay with you even if you need to take your ship off the Phoenix.”
Ryath was shocked by his suggestion. “You cannot come aboard my ship. There are things you cannot see, it would be too dangerous!” She slowly shuffled to the edge of the bed, ready to try again to stand.
“I’m already sworn to keep your secrets. Why would what I see there be any more dangerous for me? If you won’t allow me onboard, then you’ll have to stay here.” His use of voice control impressed her.
She didn’t know if he did it deliberately, like a Mage would, but he did use it effectively. His argument was an effective one too. She had no reply to it.
She swung her legs over the edge of the bed, and her body followed. Dunstan grabbed her and stopped her from falling off the bed again. Between them, she was sitting upright.
“Would Captain Hale allow it?” She lifted her head to look at him, and could make out his outline, dimly.
“Only one way to find out!” he said as he stepped back to see if she could hold herself up. She could, so he moved towards the front room.
“Dunstan!” she called after him. He stopped and turned to her. “Please, would you bring my coat when you return?”
He nodded, and walked into the front room. He picked up her coat. The black material seemed to absorb all the light from the control panels in the room. He checked the time — 12:34 — and accessed the comm, to speak to the Captain.
“Good news,” Dunstan said as he returned to the bedroom. “The Captain has allowed me to accompany you back to your ship, so I can make sure you recover fully.” It was only then that he realized that the Captain hadn’t asked for details as to how Ryath was injured. Kim must have already filed her report. He held Ryath’s coat up and then swung it around her shoulders.
Slowly she put her coat on properly, then felt in the pockets. She gathered some probes on the tips of her right fingers, and deposited them over the bed. Accessing them, she saw that some just didn’t work, and only a few had enough power to transmit images. She didn’t know what was happening; she guessed it was the Phoenix.
She also found her wand. Pulling it from her pocket, she felt foolish. Dunstan probably didn’t expect a Techno-Mage to have a simple magician’s wand, but somehow what she was doing made sense to her.
“What’s that?” he asked as she held the wand on her palms. She didn’t answer him, just concentrated on associating with it. As soon as she had, she felt the echo. The drop down menu appeared in her mind’s eye, and she chose the action she wanted. The wand quickly grew in width. She wrapped her fingers around it as it grew. The thickening stopped once it fit nicely in her hands; then it extended to nearly five feet in length, sounding like a Ranger’s denn’bok.
Dunstan gasped, staring at the wand turned staff. “That was…”
Ryath smiled once more; placing one end of her staff on the ground she used it to aid her in rising from the bed. She was soon standing, albeit wobbly at first. “Now, let’s go!” Using the staff to keep her balance, she led the way out of the bedroom.
Dunstan could see how painful it was for her to walk. He wasn’t at all sure this was a good idea, but he wasn’t going to let her do it by herself.
Ryath closed her eyes against the dim light from the control panels. She had re-instructed the organelle to allow pain reception from her eyes; now she was regretting it. If this dim light hurt, how was she going to manage the corridor with its bright lights? She stumbled into a chair and then a small table, sending it crashing to the floor.
Another Ranger burst into the room at the sound. She looked around, seeing Ryath somewhat disheveled, and Dunstan exiting the bedroom. “This isn’t what it looks like, is it, Anla’shok Kordieh?” she asked, a smile on her face.
“Who is that?” Ryath asked sharply.
“Anla’shok Toni Villiers,” the woman answered. “Your new watcher while the Narn gets some rest.”
In the greater light spilling in from the corridor, Ryath could make out a tall, sturdy figure … perhaps with red hair? She was too weak to question this new Ranger, had no time to argue against her presence. Yet, her remark reawakened Ryath’s sense of mischief. “It might not have been what it looked like, Miss Villiers,” she said as she stumbled past. “Then again, it might….”
Dunstan caught his breath, blushing to the roots of his hair as he stared after Ryath. “What’s she saying?” he said. “Nothing happened .. I was just trying to take care of her!”
“It’s okay,” Villiers said softly, patting him on the shoulder. “I know. I’d envy you though.” She glanced after Ryath. “Come on, we’d better help her.”
Copyright (c) 2003 Niki Hipwood, Jamie Lawson and Joe Medina. All rights reserved.