MOVING THROUGH MIRRORS (VI)

By Deborah Baudoin

 

 

 

   Delenn sat quietly in the command chair of the White Star. It felt oddly comfortable, like an old friend. She closed her eyes slightly, gazing upon the sparkling curved lines of the Al-Shii through the observation dome. Her ship was beautiful. She had never wanted to leave Minbar, but the Al-Shii was a stunning reminder of home.

   She leaned back into the chair. Members of her crew scuttered behind her, trying to make sense of the odd technology. It had taken her a long time to convince Droshal to let her board this ship, even when his own investigations proved it was safe. For better or worse, the White Star was repairing itself; all the Minbari could do was hold onto it until she was flight-ready.

   That might not be so easy to do, Delenn thought to herself. Already, they had received confirmation that Neroon's ship was headed toward them from the next-to-nearest jumpgate. Fortunately, the destruction of this jumpgate had bought them precious time.

   "On the other hand," Delenn murmered to herself. "If this jumpgate had not been destroyed, we wouldn't be worrying about Neroon."

   "Satai?" Ailenn, an acolyte from her home village, peeked curiously up from her station behind the command chair. Delenn nodded her aside, focusing her gaze back on the observation port. Her eyes became heavy as the command seat gave slightly. It seemed to welcome her, to adjust to her form.

   It almost seemed to sing to her.

   As her vision blurred, she saw an image before her. The White Star. Hundreds, thousands of White Stars, filling space with an armada of perfectly-matched vessels. Delenn felt a warmth, a rightness, as her mind lingered on the sight. It was her place.

   Hers. And John's.

   The ship was singing to her now. She did not look to see if the others heard it. It was not their song. She looked through the eyes of the White Star, felt its memories. A fleet of White Stars. John, his eyes so kind and full. A moment, endless and full, when their bodies moved together, oblivious to anything but each other. A kiss.

   Delenn felt a tear on her face, and dragged herself out of the memory. It was not her memory. It was the other Delenn, the one who had changed. John, the John of this universe, was dead, an example to those who would defy the power of the Minbari warrior caste.

   She bit down hard, swallowing a feeling of loss she'd never quite known before. This man meant nothing to her. He was a figment, a ghost who had never actually lived.

   "Ailenn," she barked, her voice much harsher than she'd expected.

   "Yes, Satai."

   "Tell Droshal I will be returning to the ship. Continue to monitor the repairs on the White Star, and report to me on the hour."

   Ailenn bowed low as the Satai left the control center.

   

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   Lennier could not meditate. His mind focused hard on the past, trying to find the path which had led him here, alone in this place which was not home. Why were there no other bodies on the ship? Why was he the only one to survive? Why was he here?

   It was as if the ship had run away.

   To bring him here.

   Droshal entered the Healing. Lennier recognized him as the one who had accompanied Delenn in his dream.

   "You are feeling well?" he asked.

   Lennier nodded.

   "The Satai wishes to speak with you." He held out a hand, and Lennier rose unsteadily. He wore only the silver base garment, but Droshal did not seem to notice. With a shrug, Lennier followed him out of the Healing.

   

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   Delenn was waiting in her quarters when Droshal arrived with Lennier. She did not rise, but motioned the young man to sit across from her. From his stunned expression, she did not expect him to be coherent just yet.

   "Droshal, leave us."

   Her aide nodded and quietly left the room.

   "Would you like some tea, Lennier?" she asked politely. He stared at her, wide-eyed. "Perhaps something to eat?" Silence. Delenn smiled demurely, a mischievous glint in her eyes. "Were you not taught, Lennier of the Third Fain of Chudomo, that it is forbidden to gaze directly upon a Satai?"

   "Yes." But still he did not look down.

   Somewhere in her heart, she found pity for him. Reaching out, she brushed her fingertips against his cheek. "You are not dreaming," she whispered.

   "I--"

   She placed her fingers over his lips to silence his questions. "I am not her. The one you left behind is...I do not know where she is. But I am *not* her."

   Lennier nodded. She could see the slow dawn of realization creeping over his face. "You are Satai Delenn of the Grey Council," he murmered.

   With a puzzled look, she corrected, "I am Satai Delenn of the Family Mir."

   His gaze fixed curiously on her. "The Council?"

   "I'm sorry. I do not know of this Council." Breaking the silence which lingered too long after her words, she decided to change the subject. "The Third Fain of Chudomo is well-regarded by my clan. We offer sanctuary to you in return for your help in restoring this vessel to full capacity." With a smile, she added, "I assure you, you will be well-rewarded for your efforts."

   Lennier considered her words for a long time. Slowly, he said, "The Family Mir is an old and honorable clan. As I am without friend or family here, I will accept your offer."

   "A wise decision, Lennier."

   "Thank you, Del...Satai." His eyes lowered.

   She watched him for a long moment, unexpectedly saddened by his adherence to custom. "The...other...Delenn..." She smiled as his gaze popped up, then just as quickly dropped back down. "Does she know you love her?"

   That brought his gaze full forward. "I--"

   "No. Of course she does not." Delenn's smile widened at his flustered look. "You may return to the Healing for now. Droshal will provide you with living space and clothing once the healers have cleared you for duty. We have only a few days before the others arrive. I want the White Star secured by then."

   "The others?"

   "A ship of this magnitude cannot go unnoticed forever." Delenn sighed. "Sooner or later, we are going to have to fight to keep it."

 

*****

 

 

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