The shuttle from the passenger liner Asimov landed at the spaceport, and the passengers immediately began reaching for their bags.
Sean Trevanti glanced around the passenger section of the shuttle and had to force himself not to shudder. There were only a few other humans visible--most of his fellow passengers were Minbari, and Sean had always felt uncomfortable around Minbari.
Not that he had fought in the war--not like Alex, who was seated next to him--but he just felt, well, uneasy about them.
Alex, on the other hand, was someone he felt quite comfortable with.
Alex Greenway was a fellow trader, and the two of them saw each other at intervals of about a year and a half or so, which was part of the reason that Sean had been surprised to see Alex get on the Asimov at Babylon 5--they had seen each other only eight months before.
Sean grimaced slightly, then, as the passengers up front (Minbari, all of them--most of the humans were in or near the back of the shuttle) began to get out.
"What's wrong, Sean?" Alex inquired.
"Just trying to remember the procedure my boss described," Sean replied, wondering as he did so why on Earth Alex was here, of all places. He had been one of the few survivors of the Line, and most of them seemed to hate the Minbari with a passion.
"Oh?" Alex asked archly. "You mean, 'Stay in the incoming area until Embassy personnel come and get you, go with them, and stay quiet'?"
Sean blinked in surprise. "You got the same spiel?"
Alex's mouth twitched slightly. "Yeah," he replied noncommitantly.
"Well, how about that!"
"Nothing strange about it, you know," Alex remarked then. "After all, we're some of the first humans actually allowed on Minbar, so it stands to reason that they'd want to take some precautions, like making sure we get a thorough briefing from the Embassy staff about what we can and cannot do. After all, the EA hardly wants us to cause a diplomatic incident."
"Guess so," Sean replied, shrugging.
"Well, we'll be getting out soon," Alex said, looking into the aisle. He picked up his bag and rummaged through it, finally pulling out a rumpled cloak made of the same brown cloth as his tunic and pants, which he quickly pulled on over his head, and a small silver and blue brooch, that he pinned to the front of the cloak.
"What's that?" Sean asked, gesturing at the brooch. He'd never seen its like before, much less worn by Alex. He'd once told Sean that he wasn't the type to wear anything particularly ornamental, whether it was jewels or medals.
"Just a little something, nothing important," Alex mumbled, as he stood up--it was their turn to leave.
Sean glanced around curiously as they came from the shuttle to the incoming area. He could see a number of Minbari--it was Minbar, after all--but no humans, no one that might be here from the Embassy to meet them.
Just as he was thinking this, a young-looking Minbari, male and dressed in the clothing of the religious caste, entered the area and moved toward them.
"Greetings," the Minbari said as he reached them, in English, and bowed slightly. "I am Avair, from the Earth Embassy. If you would please follow me, I will take you there, where you may wait until Ambassador Sinclair is available to give you your briefing."
Sean felt surprised--why was a Minbari part of the Earth Embassy?
"Wait a minute," someone said. "I thought that Ambassador Sinclair himself was supposed to meet us here."
The Minbari looked calmly at the woman who had spoken. "The Ambassador is extremely busy, and does not have the time to handle a task such as this. He has asked me personally to meet you."
Sean looked over at Alex, wondering what his friend's response to that would be.
Alex met his gaze, and rolled his eyes up. "Too busy doesn't even begin to describe the situation!" he muttered.
"What do you mean?" Sean whispered back.
"I mean, he's up to his eyes and ears in reports and..."
Alex stopped abruptly as he caught sight of something, and gave a nod to Sean. "See you around, Sean," he said, and then hurried across the room, to where a tall Minbari warrior was standing. Sean didn't even have time to feel shocked at Alex's violation of the 'spiel', however, as the Minbari Avair began to hurry the rest of them out the door.
Greenway glanced back over his shoulder for a moment, and shook his head slightly as he saw Avair herding the other human passengers from the Asimov out the door, to the groundcar that would take them to the Embassy, where they'd likely be cooling their heels for the next two to three days, depending on how long it took Entil'zha to deal with everything that had happened in the past month.
"Kozorr," he said, as he came up to the warrior, and bowed.
Kozorr bowed back to him, and then looked at him expectantly.
"I've got to see Entil'zha," Greenway said apologetically. "It's, well, rather urgent."
"Yes," Kozorr replied, nodding. "He wished to see you as soon as you arrived. I'll take you to him."
As he followed the Star Rider, Greenway was reminded of the first time he had come to Minbar. Was it only four months ago?
It had seemed so innocuous at first.
Greenway stepped nervously into the incoming area of the spaceport at Yedor, the capital of Minbar. He glanced around, wondering even as he did so what the hell he was doing here in the first place. He hadn't really meant to imply that he'd be willing to be the company's agent when he'd suggested they feel out the situation on Minbar. He hadn't meant to agree to come here. And yet, here he was. So, now what?
"Good day, Mr. Greenway," said a calm voice, and he turned around to see a young religious caste Minbari looking at him. "My name is Avair--I am Ambassador Sinclair's aide. He has asked that I meet you, and bring you to the Embassy."
"Okay," Greenway said, and it was only as Avair opened the door to outside that he realized that the Minbari had spoken in perfect English.
The young Minbari--Ambassador Sinclair's aide, Greenway repeated to himself, confused by the idea of a Minbari in that position--led him to a small groundcar parked just outside the spaceport. He opened one of the doors and gestured for Greenway to enter.
"It will not take long to reach the Embassy," the Minbari continued, still in English, as he took the driver's seat. "Ambassador Sinclair is waiting there for you. He is looking forward to seeing you again."
Greenway nodded, remembering the dark-haired Squad Leader he'd met during the inquiries after the Battle of the Line. "I didn't know that the ambassador remembered me," he blurted out.
The Minbari glanced at him. "He has recently had reason to remember you," he said, and then turned his attention back to the route.
Ambassador Sinclair looked up as Greenway entered the room, and smiled. "How did it go?" he asked.
"I'm not entirely sure," Greenway replied, sitting down in the chair opposite Sinclair's. "I delivered the messages, both of them, and an extra warning to Mr. Garibaldi, because of what happened, but I wasn't able to deliver them until after the attack in Quadrant 14."
"Yes," Sinclair said, glancing down at the flimsies covering his desk, "the attack.
"What additional warning did you give Mr. Garibaldi?"
Greenway shifted in his chair. He'd given the warning because he thought it would be something Entil'zha would want, but he knew that he'd have to account for it.
"I mentioned that there was an unknown race that seemed to have connections to the Centauri, and that they may have helped with the destruction of the Narn colony. I also mentioned that he might want to say something about it to a few others."
Sinclair looked at him. "Did you suggest anyone in particular?"
Greenway shrugged. "I didn't mention anyone, but he probably spoke about it to Captain Sheridan and Commander Ivanova. He did promise not to bring either of us into it."
"Good," Sinclair replied, nodding, and then glanced ruefully down at his desk.
"I've got too much to do," he muttered.
"Know what you mean," Greenway replied. "It's the way I often felt on trading missions.
"Oh, and speaking of that, we just got a whole bunch of new trader agents in on the Asimov..."
"Yes, I know," Sinclair said, sighing. "More work. And this can't be put off, any more than the meeting with Rathenn tomorrow, or... Well, let's get going," he added, getting up.
Sean was sitting in a chair, one of many, in a room filled with his fellow passengers from the Asimov. Their Minbari guide, Avair, had brought them here and told them that Ambassador Sinclair would be with them as soon as possible, though he wasn't sure exactly when that would be.
Just then, the door opened. Sean stood up and looked over, curious, and saw a tall Minbari clad in the clothes of a warrior come in. The warrior, a female, strode over to Avair and spoke to him for a moment, before leaving again, closing the door behind her.
"Could I please have your attention?" the Minbari said, not loudly, but with enough force to cause everyone to look at him.
"I have just received word that Ambassador Sinclair is on his way to speak with you. Before he arrives, there are a few things that I must warn you about."
Warn us? Sean thought, puzzled. What sort of things?
"First of all, you must listen carefully to everything that Ambassador Sinclair tells you. He has the knowledge of the pitfalls you might encounter and how to deal with them, and he will explain this to you.
"Second, and even more important, Ambassador Sinclair is very busy. This is perhaps the only time you will see him during your visit here, and, if this is so, you must count yourself lucky. If you see him again, it will quite likely be because you have made a mistake that he must deal with.
"If you do have any problems or complaints, I am available to help deal with them. We have not had very many during the time that the Embassy has been here, and all of them have been resolved in a manner that was satisfactory to all concerned. Now--"
Avair stopped talking as the door opened, and, to Sean's absolute and utter surprise, Alex Greenway came in.
"Ladies and gentlemen, could I please have your attention," Greenway said, raising his hands so that everyone looked at him.
"What's going on?" someone asked.
"The ambassador has been held up, and has asked me to see that you are all given rooms for the night. He'll likely be able to talk to you all tomorrow, or, if he can't, then another of the Embassy's personnel will.
"Now, if you will all please exit the room, there is someone waiting to show you to your rooms. You'll find that they have every convenience, and, as I said, you will all get the briefing tomorrow."
Sean frowned slightly as he began to follow everyone else out. Alex was watching them leave, and Sean caught a worried expression on his friend's face as he exited.
So, instead of going with the older religious caste Minbari waiting for them, like the others did, he slipped away from the crowd and leaned against the door, listening. He could hear what Alex and the Minbari Avair were saying, if only faintly.
"What's wrong, Greenway?" he heard Avair say.
"It's Entil'zha. I'm not certain what happened, but..." Alex replied.
"What seems to be wrong, then?"
"Quite honestly, Avair, I haven't the faintest--"
"Excuse me," said a voice from right behind Sean, "but I don't think you're supposed to be here."
Sean turned around to see a girl standing in the hallway, looking at him carefully. She had long dark hair, and her clothes were in the style typical of the religious caste, although she was very definitely human.
"I said, I don't think that you're supposed to be here," the girl repeated, with an edge in her voice.
"What makes you think that?" he asked.
She looked at him. "I don't know you, which means that you came in on the Asimov, and are supposed to be with the rest of those from the Asimov, with Ladann. They went that way," she added, pointing down the hallway, just as the door opened and Avair and Alex came out.
Sean turned to look at them, and caught Alex's frown.
"Didn't you hear what I said, Sean?" he demanded.
"I wanted to talk to you," Sean replied, blurting out the first excuse that came to mind. He wasn't about to tell his friend that he'd been listening to what was obviously a private conversation.
"I don't have time to talk right now," Alex said curtly, and then looked past him, at the girl. "Alisa, take him to the transient quarters, please. Ladann will know what room he's assigned to."
"Got it," the girl said with a nod, and then gestured for Sean to follow her down the hallway.
Sean hurried to catch up with her.
"Who are you?" he asked, as he slowed down to walk next to her.
She gave him a sideways glance. "My name's Alisa Beldon," she replied.
"Do you work in the Embassy?"
"No, I don't," she replied. "I came to pay a visit to a few people.
"You're a trader?" she added.
"Yes. I work for one of the major Earth-based corporations," he answered.
"Oh." She paused for a moment. "Which one?"
The girl stopped and turned to look at him directly, forcing him to come to a stop as well. "And why is TerraCorp interested in direct trade with Minbar?" she inquired. "After all, they're an exporter, not an importer, and the Minbari don't really need that many Earth things."
Sean shrugged. "I just do my job," he responded.
After a moment, the girl continued along the hallway. A minute or two later, they turned a corner, and there were the other passengers from the Asimov and their Minbari guide.
"Here's the other one, Ladann," the girl said, waving her hand at Sean.
"Thank you, Alisa," the Minbari replied, and then nodded slightly to Sean.
"You are Sean Trevanti?" he asked.
When Sean nodded, the Minbari gestured to the first door on Sean's left. "This is the room that has been assigned to you," he said, and handed Sean a keycard. "I will come to collect you for dinner."
Greenway frowned as he watched Sean follow the young telepath down the hall.
"I don't like this," he said worriedly.
"You think he was trying to listen to us," Avair said; a statement, not a question.
"I'm afraid so. And combined with what just happened to Entil'zha, it worries me. It worries me a lot."
"I don't blame you for worrying, my friend. The fact that such a terrible thing could happen, here on Minbar... it is a sign of the times we live in and that we face, I fear.
"Will Ambassador Sinclair be all right?"
"I really don't know, Avair. The plasma blast just brushed his leg, but something else seems to have happened. Like I said, I haven't the faintest idea what, but, whatever it was, I think it's responsible for his collapse. A plasma burn is bad, yes, but it shouldn't have knocked him out."
"Have they caught whoever fired at him?" Avair asked, as they headed quickly toward the Embassy lobby.
"No," Greenway said, shaking his head. He felt inexpressibly weary.
First his mission on Babylon 5, which had nearly been a disaster, and, even if it hadn't, wasn't exactly the success that he had hoped for, and then, right on the heels of that, the attack on Sinclair. An attack that looked to be more than just the PPG blast that had barely touched him.
As the two of them reached the lobby, Dr. Keith Saunders, one of the Rangers, and Tesain, the Minbari Healer who had been assigned to Ambassador Sinclair by the Holy One, were both bent over Entil'zha, who had been put on a pallet on the floor.
"Do you know what's wrong with him?" Greenway demanded, kneeling down next to them.
"Aside from the burn on his leg, you mean?" Dr. Saunders asked, looking at him irritably.
"I mean, do you know what's keeping him unconscious," Greenway answered, just barely keeping himself from snarling. He knew that Keith's irritation came from his worry about Sinclair, that his pedantic tone was just an expression of his worry, but it didn't help. Greenway was just as worried.
"No," Saunders replied curtly, and went back to examining Entil'zha's leg.
"Tesain?" Greenway asked.
"We will see," the Healer replied calmly.
Greenway found himself relieved, at least a little bit, by her tone. Tesain was one of the best Healers on Minbar, and he had already seen examples of what she could do.
Then he looked at Sinclair's face, slack now in unconsciousness, and his thoughts drifted back to their first meeting on Minbar.
He has recently had reason to remember you? What did he mean by that? Greenway thought, puzzled, as he replayed the Minbari Avair's comment over and over in his mind. What reason?
He had a feeling that he wouldn't get an answer from Avair, and so didn't bother asking. Instead, he said, "Are there any other traders from Earth here at the moment?"
Avair glanced at him for just a moment before turning his attention back to the road. "No," he replied calmly. "In fact, you are the first one to come. That is part of the reason that the Ambassador wishes to meet with you immediately."
Oh? Greenway thought, curious. Part of an answer, to a question he hadn't asked.
"In fact," Avair continued, "we anticipate very few traders from the Earth Alliance during the first few months that the Embassy is here. We expect more to start coming after the third month ends."
The groundcar stopped smoothly just outside a building carved of blue crystal, different from the red and yellow crystal of the other buildings in Yedor. Avair opened the door and got out, motioning for Greenway to do the same.
He then, silently, led Greenway through a door that slid open as they approached, into a large room with a fountain in the center.
"This is the lobby," Avair said. "If you will wait here, Ambassador Sinclair will be with you shortly."
Greenway just nodded, and watched as Avair strode across the lobby and through another door, that he noticed only when it opened to admit the Minbari. He then walked over to the fountain and regarded it curiously.
It looked small, in the large room, but it had to be at least five square meters in area. It was, Greenway noticed absently, in the form of an equilateral triangle. Poised above the pool of water, looking as though it had been caught in mid-leap, was a dolphin carved out of crystal. The water sprayed out of the dolphin's blowhole, and came back into the pool in a perfect circle.
"The design was created by someone on the staff of the Minbari Embassy on Earth," said a voice that sounded vaguely familiar, and Greenway looked up.
The man standing on the other side of the fountain was tall, with dark hair and eyes. He wore an Earth Alliance diplomatic uniform, but, Greenway thought to himself, it was hardly necessary. The man's bearing alone identified him.
"Ambassador," Greenway said calmly, despite the fact that his heart rate had just about climbed through the roof. What's wrong with me? he thought, desperately trying to keep the thought off his face.
"It's good to see you again, Mr. Greenway," the ambassador replied, with a slight nod. "If you would come with me, please, I'll show you to the quarters that will be yours during your stay here."
Greenway followed Ambassador Sinclair numbly, still trying to figure out what was going on. He felt confused, more so now than he had ever felt before in his life. And yet, he didn't think it wise to let the ambassador know that.
The ambassador led him through the same door that Avair had gone through, into a long hallway carved entirely of crystal. Greenway found himself gaping in astonishment as they moved along the length of it.
Finally, they came to a doorway, that the ambassador opened by simply placing his hand on the wall next to it.
"Here you are, Mr. Greenway," he said, and gestured for Greenway to enter. "I'm sure you must be tired from the trip; you might want to relax until dinner, which is served in three hours."
"Yes, I think I'd like that," Greenway replied. It would give him a chance to collect his thoughts. He stepped into the room, giving it a quick glance as he did so.
Something seemed wrong, off-kilter, but he didn't get a chance to decide what it was before Ambassador Sinclair spoke again.
"If you need anyone before dinner, or if you want to send a message out, the console's over there," he said, pointing to a table beside the neatly made bed. "I'll have someone come to fetch you when dinner's ready.
"Oh, and to open the door, all you need to do is place your hand on the wall next to it, and the sensors will pick up your handprint and open it for you," Sinclair added, before bowing slightly and stepping back into the hall, letting the door slide closed.
Greenway took a deep breath and let it out again, slowly, before beginning to explore the room he'd been given. And the first thing he noticed, the thing that had made the room seem off-kilter when he had first glanced around, was the closet. The closet door was open, and hanging on the rack were four sets of clothes, all dark brown and in the same style--a tunic, pants, and a cloak that would go over one shoulder.
He frowned, took one of the sets out, and held it against himself. He wasn't particularly surprised to find out that it was his size.
"I want him taken to his quarters," Tesain said firmly, touching Sinclair's forehead with a gentle hand. "He'll be safe from any further attacks there, and he'll be right next to the lab."
Dr. Saunders looked for a moment as though he were going to argue, and then shrugged and gestured for Greenway and Avair to each take one end of the pallet. "The sooner we can scan him, the better," he said. "I don't like this--even the shock of the plasma burn shouldn't have been enough to make him lose consciousness; at least, not so suddenly."
Greenway nodded carefully as he and Avair maneuvered the pallet containing the ambassador into the Crystal Corridor (as the human Rangers called it), and toward Sinclair's quarters.
"You're right, Keith. It was too sudden," he replied thoughtfully.
"Be careful," Tesain warned as she pressed her hand to the wall. The door to Sinclair's quarters opened smoothly, and the others walked carefully inside. Greenway and Avair lifted the pallet a bit and slid it onto Entil'zha's bed, but the movement didn't wake Sinclair up.
"What exactly happened?" Avair demanded, as Tesain and Keith slipped past him to continue the examination.
"I'm not entirely certain," Greenway said, as the two of them moved out of the way.
"We were almost at the doorway to the lobby, when I suddenly heard Entil'zha shout a warning. He shoved me forward, and I just managed to get my balance and turn around in time to see the PPG blast strike his leg. He started to limp toward me, and then suddenly collapsed."
"Avair," Dr. Saunders said abruptly, "could you get my medscanner, please? It's in the lab next door."
Avair nodded and hurried out.
"What is it?" Greenway demanded, taking a step forward.
"There's a hole in the shoulder of his tunic," the doctor answered, frowning. "It may have been made by some sort of sharp projectile, like a dart or a needle."
"In other words?" Greenway said.
"He's quite likely been shot by some sort of poisoned dart," came the answer.
Greenway looked at Tesain to see if she agreed, but she was studying Sinclair's face worriedly. He stepped a bit closer to her.
"What's wrong?" he asked quietly. If Tesain was worried, then they, or at least Sinclair, were in big trouble.
Avair arrived back before the Healer could answer, and Keith quickly took the medscanner from him and put it against Sinclair's shoulder, where there should still be enough of the substance that had entered Entil'zha's bloodstream left to do a decent analysis.
The medscanner blinked for a moment, and then a reply came up on the screen. Keith grimaced.
"He was poisoned, all right. Whoever it was used a native Minbari poison which isn't fatal to humans, by itself. But combined with the shock from the burn on his leg, it could very well kill him."
The other three stared at him for a moment, and then Tesain moved forward, shooing Greenway and Avair away in a gesture she'd picked up from Alisa Beldon.
"Out you go," she ordered. "Dr. Saunders and I need to discuss this."
As they went out, Greenway happened to glance back at Sinclair, and saw what had disconcerted Tesain moments earlier. Under his eyelids, Entil'zha's eyes were moving rapidly, almost as though he were in REM sleep rather than unconscious due to poison...
"Oh, Greenway," Tesain added abruptly, jerking him away from the puzzle of what was happening to Sinclair; "you're to inform everyone that Ambassador Sinclair will be unavailable for a few days to a week, and then tell the Council and the Holy One what has happened."
Wonderful! Greenway thought sardonically as the door closed behind himself and Avair, all thought of Entil'zha's apparent dreaming driven from his mind. Just what I wanted to do--tell the Council that someone's poisoned Entil'zha with a Minbari poison--I wonder what they'll do?
Sean sat up in the chair, blinking, as a chime rang through his room. "Yes?" he answered automatically, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
"It is time for dinner," came the response, in English.
"I'm coming," Sean muttered, standing up and straightening his clothes. He hadn't even realized that he'd fallen asleep.
The door opened as he approached it, revealing the Minbari who'd shown him his room.
"If you would follow me, please, Mr. Trevanti," the Minbari said, gesturing toward the other end of the corridor, opposite the way they'd come earlier.
"Where are the others?" Sean demanded as he obeyed.
"You are being seated one by one, rather than as a group," the Minbari replied calmly. "Each of you has been assigned a guide for your first few days here, while you get accustomed to the layout of the Embassy. It was designed by our people, and is sometimes confusing to Earthers who have just arrived.
"I will be your guide during this time. As your guide, I will show you around and sit with you at meals, in order to better answer any questions you might have about the staff, the Embassy itself, or Minbar. This method has proved useful in eliminating hassles for both the staff and the visitors, as any questions you have can be directed to me, rather than having to go and look for someone to answer them."
While the Minbari had been talking, they had reached the dining hall. The Minbari, Ladann, Sean remembered the girl calling him, led the way to a small table in one corner of the hall with three seats around it.
As he sat down, Sean glanced around. The dining hall was quite large, with a number of small three and four seating tables, and a few larger ones as well. Seated at one of the larger ones were the Minbari Avair and Alex Greenway, who wore a tense and unhappy look on his face, as though he had a major problem.
Looking around, Sean noticed something odd. All of his fellow traders, with the single exception of Alex, were seated at the small tables, each one paired with a Minbari. However, there were a few humans who were, like Alex, seated at the large tables. They wore the same sort of clothes as Alex, and seemed to be chatting in an amiable and relaxed fashion with the Minbari who were seated with them, if there were any. Some of the large tables had only humans at them, no Minbari; all of which didn't add up when put together with the Minbari Ladann's statements.
And, to make things even more puzzling, there was no sign of Ambassador Sinclair anywhere. Before Sean had left Earth, he'd been shown a picture of the Ambassador, as had all his fellow passengers, and there was no one in the dining hall who matched the picture.
Sean decided to try and take advantage of the Minbari's offering to answer his questions.
"Where is Ambassador Sinclair?" he asked. "I don't see him anywhere around."
"The Ambassador is quite busy, and often takes dinner in his quarters or in his office," the Minbari replied, with a touch of curtness in his voice.
"Ah," he added then, looking over Sean's shoulder. "They are serving dinner now."
Sean turned around, and saw a few Minbari dressed in worker caste clothing and a couple of humans bringing trays to the tables. To his surprise, he found his mouth watering, and resolved to not to ask his questions until the end of dinner--he was starving!
Sean finished the last of his steak--wondering as he did so about the reason for the Earth food--and looked around. Most of the others in the room, both human and Minbari, either had already finished or were close to finishing. Most, but not all. Alex and the Minbari Avair, seated at one of the large tables, still hadn't eaten most of their food.
Then Sean noticed something else strange. All of those at the large tables, Minbari and humans, had what looked like Minbari food, or at least, it looked like the food that Ladann had on his tray, which definitely wasn't Earth food. It made him wonder even more about what was going on here.
Because there was something going on, without a doubt. Alex seemed unusually friendly with the Minbari here, as if not only did he know them well, but had also forgiven and forgotten the Earth-Minbari war! And that was more than just strange.
Sean had met Alex Greenway two years after the end of the war, and had found him to be very bitter toward the Minbari. It was an attitude that was apparently common among the two hundred odd survivors of the Battle of the Line.
Alex had relaxed a bit as time passed, but always before there had been a sense of distrust about him whenever Sean had seen him with a Minbari. But now that was gone, vanished as though it had never been, and in only eight months! Yes, something strange was going on.
He was just about to ask his guide who the other humans at the large tables were, when the door to the dining hall opened and the girl Alisa Beldon came in. She paused for a moment in the doorway, looking around the hall, and then strode toward Alex's table.
Sean saw Alex look up as she reached him, and she leaned over to whisper something. And Alex's face grew even paler than it had been.
Sean started to get ready to hurry over to his friend, but Alex quickly appeared to regain control of himself, and stood up.
"Could everyone please be quiet and listen," Alex said loudly, drawing all eyes to him.
"For those of you who have just arrived on the Asimov, your briefing will be tomorrow morning in The Hall. Your guides will wake you up for breakfast at 0700, and the briefing will be at 0900. You will then be allowed to go into Yedor itself, with your guide, who will be able to show you the best places to look for whatever your company happens to be interested in.
"As for the rest of you, you already know where you're going tomorrow. But tonight, we need a few chores done. I'd appreciate any volunteers."
Sean watched in surprise as a number of those who had been sitting at the large tables suddenly began congregating around Alex.
"What did he mean by volunteers?" Sean asked his guide then, remembering Ladann's comment about asking questions.
"Every so often, there are a number of chores that need to be done around the Embassy. Those traders who have been here for a while, or a number of times, are allowed, or, rather, encouraged to help."
"Oh," Sean replied, feeling none the wiser.
"Now, as you have finished your meal, which I hope that you enjoyed, it is time for you to return to your room. I am certain that you would appreciate a good night's sleep."
"Yeah, I guess," Sean answered, studying the group around Alex.
The others waited until all the traders from the Asimov had left, and then began whispering to each other, wondering what was wrong.
"Listen up, everyone!" Greenway said firmly.
"What's wrong, Greenway?" demanded Alyt Loseann.
"Ambassador Sinclair has been attacked," Greenway replied soberly. "I'm sure you've all heard by now that he got a plasma burn from a PPG, but what you may not have heard is that it seems that that was just a diversion.
"While they were examining him, Dr. Saunders and Healer Tesain found that a poisoned dart or needle had been shot at him as well. The poison used was a rare one, found only here on Minbar, called viraech."
"Viraech!" Loseann repeated, her voice shocked. "Have the Holy One and the Council been told of this?"
"Yes," Greenway answered. "I called the Council just before coming down here, and Avair will be notifying the Holy One immediately after we finish here.
"However, at the moment, there's nothing we can do for Entil'zha; we don't have the medical skills to help Keith and Tesain. Instead, we're going to try and discover who did this.
"Satai Hedronn has agreed to let us investigate the matter. He feels that because of what we are, we may have a better chance of finding the ones who did this than any others.
"The first thing that we're going to do is assign about half of you to guard the Crystal Corridor; that's the point at which we're most vulnerable.
"Alisa, you'll be with the guards. If anyone not a Ranger or Council member approaches, I want you to get some general impressions from them. Also, Tesain might need your help--I have no idea how, but she told me to make sure you were nearby."
The telepath nodded in understanding and agreement. "Got it," she replied.
"Now, the rest of you will be going with Avair to check around the lobby entrance, for any signs that I may have missed. I want a report in about two hours, maximum."
Everyone nodded agreement and started disbursing. Greenway, after jerking his head at Avair, telling him to take over, hurried after Alisa Beldon.
"I think Tesain wants to talk to you now," he said, as he caught up with her. Alisa looked at him soberly.
The telepath had been here for a few months longer than any of the other human Rangers, including Sinclair. She had decided that she wasn't going to work for the Psi-Corps, and proceeded to get Ambassador Delenn's blessing to learn on Minbar. And she was as devoted to Sinclair as the rest of them were; he had backed up her decision to come, and she had, in fact, been the first human Ranger aside from Sinclair.
"What type of poison is viraech?" Alisa asked then, breaking into his thoughts.
"I'm not entirely certain; all I know is that it's very rare, quite difficult to find, and therefore very expensive," Greenway replied, tapping his fingers against his leg. It was a nervous habit he'd picked up during the war, and he'd never been able to break himself of it. "Keith said it wasn't fatal to humans, but combined with the shock produced by the plasma burn, it could end up killing him. They have given him the antidote, but it'll take a while to work, and..."
"Well, we won't let that happen," Alisa said, with a determined set to her chin. "We'll find whoever did this, and I vote that we turn him or her over to Kozorr."
"Damn! I knew I forgot something!" Greenway exclaimed, hitting his forehead with his palm.
"You didn't tell Kozorr?" Alisa asked in disbelief.
"That's right. With everything around here a mess, it completely slipped my mind; he's been busy seeing to the details for next week. I'd better go tell him now--you get to Entil'zha's room and just do what Tesain tells you."
"Gotcha," replied the telepath, and she darted off toward the Crystal Corridor. Greenway looked after her with a faint grin, but as he turned away, his grin faded.
Oh, it wasn't that he didn't get along with Kozorr. In fact, they were rather good friends. It was just that Kozorr took his responsibility to Sinclair very seriously, and sometimes grew over-protective. He wouldn't be at all pleased that Greenway hadn't told him what happened immediately, even though he would probably understand the situation Greenway had been in. And he would be even less pleased that Sinclair had gotten hurt while Greenway was supposed to be protecting him. And the fact that it was Sinclair who had pushed Greenway out of the way would provide the opportunity for Kozorr's favorite tirade.
"I assume that you're looking for me," growled a voice from in front of him, and Greenway glanced up to see Kozorr glaring at him.
"Yeah," he replied, slumping against the wall.
"Well, what happened?"
As Greenway told the Star Rider the details, he reflected a bit on the relationship that they had.
Both of them were, like Alisa, devoted to Sinclair, though each for his own reasons. Kozorr had seen something in Entil'zha when he had defused his own trial with an offer of self-sacrifice. Greenway was less sure of what made him follow Entil'zha, except maybe the fact that Sinclair was a type of man who was all too rare these days; a true leader.
Kozorr was in charge of Sinclair's safety. After the trial, the Holy One had appointed him to the position, and he took his responsibility very seriously.
Greenway, on the other hand, was Sinclair's liaison with the Rangers not on Minbar--Entil'zha was not encouraged to leave even the city of Yedor for any amount of time. Greenway spent most of his time off Minbar, acting as a courier for the most sensitive information.
And yet, despite all these differences (or maybe because of them), Greenway and Kozorr were good friends.
Of course, it hadn't started out that way...
Greenway had taken a quick nap, and, when the door chimed three hours later, he was sitting at the console going over the details of his assignment.
"Yes?" he said, getting up.
The door opened to reveal a tall Minbari standing in the corridor. He wore the clothes of the warrior caste, and Greenway felt an involuntary shiver run down his spine.
"It is time for dinner, Mr. Greenway," the Minbari said in Interlac. "Ambassador Sinclair has asked me to escort you."
"Thank you," Greenway said, trying his best to keep the sudden fear he was feeling from showing. He followed the Minbari through the crystal corridor to another room, just off the lobby. The only other person in there was the Minbari Avair, who was sitting at a small table with three places laid out.
"Good day, Kozorr," Avair said, looking up. He smiled at Greenway. "Do you like your room?" he inquired.
"Yes," Greenway replied, wondering where the ambassador was. "I was a bit confused about the clothes in the closet, though."
The warrior gave him a scornful look and strode out, and Avair sighed.
"Please excuse Kozorr," he said, gesturing for Greenway to sit in one of the other two chairs. "He is not entirely happy with your presence here."
"Why not?" Greenway asked, sitting down obediently.
Avair shrugged, a very human gesture that surprised Greenway. "He does not entirely trust your people," he answered. "Kozorr respects Ambassador Sinclair for what he has done, but feels that most Earthers are not like the ambassador. He prefers to be safe rather than sorry, as I believe your people say."
"I know the type," Greenway muttered. But at least the Minbari had a good reason, or apparently good reason, for feeling that way. A lot of the others like that that he'd met had no reason, or bad ones.
"Where is Ambassador Sinclair?" he asked then.
"The ambassador has been very busy in a meeting with the Holy One," Avair replied. "Unfortunately, these meetings often go on for longer than--"
"Admiral Carter's planning sessions," added Ambassador Sinclair, coming in from the door behind Greenway. The trader turned to look at him.
The ambassador appeared exhausted. He slumped down in the chair opposite Greenway, and looked at Avair.
"I'm going to need those notes on the Euphrates Sector tomorrow, Avair," he said with a tired sigh. "We're going to have another long session in the morning."
"Now," he continued, turning to Greenway, "I imagine you have a number of questions."
"Yes, I do," Greenway replied, deciding to take the bit in his teeth. "It seems unusual--"
The ambassador held up his hand.
"I'll start at the beginning," he said. "Now, I'm sure you remember the inquiries after the Line, and all the rumours that were flying around..."
Greenway nodded, remembering one set of rumours in particular; the rumours that had made him interested in the inquiry into one Squad Leader Jeffrey Sinclair's actions on the Line. The rumours that had said that it was because of Sinclair that the Minbari had surrendered.
"Well, it seems that some of them were true."
"Did the dart come from the same direction as the PPG blast?" Kozorr asked.
Greenway frowned, trying to remember exactly what had happened, and in what order.
"I don't think so," he said finally. "I'm pretty sure that Entil'zha wasn't facing in that direction when he went down. In fact, I think he was actually facing the Embassy."
Kozorr's mouth tightened. "The implication is that there were two or more people directly involved in this, then."
"Yeah," Greenway replied with a nod, sighing. "And what's worse, I don't think we can say that they were definitely either humans or Minbari. Humans wouldn't have looked too suspicious in the area of the Embassy, but Minbari wouldn't have looked suspicious at all."
Kozorr shook his head. "I don't like this, and neither will the Council or the Holy One."
"They don't," came Avair's voice from farther down the hall, and the two of them turned to see him walking toward them.
"I'm not surprised," Greenway said, shrugging again. "After all, there has to have been some Minbari involvement, because of the viraech."
"Yes," Kozorr agreed, sounding reluctant.
"What have you told the other Rangers?"
"As much as we know at this point," Avair replied. "They're patrolling the area around the Embassy, watching and looking for signs of who did this. To this point, the only thing they've found is this." He held out a PPG, wrapped in a piece of cloth.
Greenway took it and studied it.
"This isn't an officially made PPG," he said finally. "I've seen guns like this, on Babylon 5, in DownBelow. The lurkers there make them."
Sean just sat, reading one of the books he'd brought along, for about four hours after Ladann had left him in his room. Then, glancing at his chrono, he put the book down and stood up. It was almost midnight in Yedor; by now, most of the people in the Embassy should be asleep. It was time to get to work.
He walked over to the door and slipped his keycard in the slot next to it.
He wasn't particularly surprised when the door didn't open; he'd been expecting something like this. Between the Minbari guides and the instructions they'd been given about staying with them, it had been obvious, to him at least, that the doors of their rooms would be locked. Luckily, his boss had made sure that he had come equipped for this sort of thing.
He took another keycard out of his pocket, and slipped this one into the slot. There was a moment's pause, and then the door slowly slid open.
As he stepped out, he glanced around warily. The lights in the corridor were dim, and no one was visible.
Sean walked quietly along the corridor in the direction of the briefing room they'd been in earlier that day; away from the dining hall. He knew where he was going; when they'd first come in to the Embassy, he'd seen a Minbari of the religious caste going through a door on the other side of the lobby from where they'd entered. He was going to find out what was behind that door.
He passed the briefing room and had almost reached the lobby when he heard a confusing babble of voices. Cursing under his breath, he pushed himself against the wall of the corridor and peered carefully around the entrance to the lobby.
There were a number of humans and Minbari there, all grouped into a small huddle on the other side of the fountain. There seemed to be an argument going on, although Sean couldn't tell for sure; there was too much noise.
He cursed under his breath. This would make getting to that other door much more difficult. He didn't want to be seen by anyone, but he had to get to that door. His orders wouldn't allow anything else.
"All right, enough of this!" came a voice, and Sean watched as a tall blond haired man hurried up to the group. "We don't have the time to spend arguing about this; we've got work to do. Come on, let's get back on patrol. Ladann," and the man turned to a Minbari that Sean recognized, with a start, as his guide, "you go tell Kozorr and Greenway about this."
Ladann nodded, and hurried to the other door, opening it and going through, as the rest of them broke up and headed outside.
Sean took a deep breath. It was now or never, and he'd have to be both quick and careful. It wouldn't do to be spotted, not now.
He slipped into the lobby, all his senses alert, and crossed quietly to the other side.
It was a lucky thing that he'd seen the door open just beforehand, or he wouldn't have been able to find it, it was so well hidden. Worrying at his lower lip, he carefully pushed at it.
The door opened silently and smoothly, and Sean peered in.
The corridor was beautiful! It looked as though it had been carved out of crystal, and the lighting had been set up to take advantage of the various facets of the floor and walls.
No one was visible in the corridor; although with a bend about fifty meters ahead, Sean couldn't be certain that there was no one there. However, he'd have to take the chance. This was his only opportunity to discover what secrets the Earth Embassy was hiding.
He crept along the corridor, finding it easy to be quiet; the floor seemed to almost absorb the sound of his footfalls. He then plastered himself to the wall just by the corner (in the best tradition of spy holos), and looked carefully around the bend.
And discovered that he had been wise not to continue immediately.
Standing about twenty meters away, near a half-open door, were three people; Alex Greenway, Ladann, and Alisa Beldon. Ladann was showing the two humans a small object, and they were talking in whispers. Sean tried to listen to what they were saying, but the acoustics of the corridor defeated him.
Abruptly, the door opened completely and a tall man, dressed in a blue shirt and dark brown pants limped out, leaning on the wall for support. Even without a uniform, Sean didn't have any trouble recognizing him--it was Ambassador Sinclair.
The ambassador held out his hand and said clearly, so that even Sean could hear, "Let me see that."
"You are well, Entil'zha?" Ladann inquired.
The man was too far away for Sean to read his expression, but he could hear a hint of irritation in his voice.
"Yes, Ladann, I am," Ambassador Sinclair replied.
"Oh?" Sean heard Alisa say, her tone doubtful.
The ambasssador gave shrugged. "Well enough," he declared. "Certainly well enough to learn what you've been up to."
Abruptly, Sean sensed that he was being watched. He turned slowly, and found himself facing a furious Minbari warrior.
Greenway frowned, worried, as he studied the ambassador's face. Sinclair was pale, and from the way he was leaning against the wall, it was obvious that the burn on his leg was hurting him. Nonetheless, it was equally obvious that he wasn't about to get any rest until he got an answer to his question.
"We--" Greenway began, and then stopped short as a figure was thrust into sight at the near end of the corridor.
It was Sean; and pushing him toward the group was Alyt Loseann.
"This man was listening to and watching your conversation," Loseann said curtly, before nodding to Sinclair. "Entil'zha," she added, frowning slightly.
Sinclair straightened, causing Greenway to hide a wince at the thought of the pain he must be going through, and asked, "Who are you, and what are you doing here?"
"I can answer the first part of that question, Entil'zha," Greenway said. "His name is Sean Trevanti; he arrived on the Asimov this morning."
"And he was spying," Loseann added, her face set.
Sinclair raised his hand, quieting the two of them. "Well, Mr. Trevanti?" he said.
"I am a trader-agent of TerraCorp," Sean said calmly, "and I was curious. I noticed the door to this corridor when we were herded in here, and I wanted to find out what was behind it."
Greenway's mouth tightened. Sean was a friend of his, true, and had been a very good friend for the past nine years. But it was equally true that Sean was lying.
Greenway himself had arranged for the doors to the traders' quarters to be locked; he had felt it was too much of a risk, with Sinclair being attacked and incapacitated, to let them run around the Embassy freely. The keycard Ladann had given Sean could not have unlocked the door.
He worried at his lower lip for a moment, and then spoke.
"That's impossible. Your door was locked from the outside; you couldn't have opened it with your keycard."
Both Sinclair and Sean stared at him; Sinclair in surprise at the news that the trader's door had been locked, and Sean in betrayal.
"Alex!" Sean exclaimed in shock, as Loseann's hand tightened on his arm. "What are--"
"Alyt," Greenway interrupted, gesturing for the warrior to take Sean away. It was imperative that Sean be questioned--it could be too dangerous for everyone concerned if he were not. "For now, put him in a secure room. We'll talk to him later."
"Of course," Loseann replied, and pulled Sean away from the group. Just before she turned the corner, however, she looked back at Greenway and jerked her head in Sinclair's direction. Greenway nodded to show he had understood--he was to make certain that Sinclair didn't get too worried about this.
He turned back to the others, and had to control the urge to duck; Sinclair looked absolutely furious.
"I think I deserve an explanation, Greenway," the Commander said firmly. "What were you thinking of, locking the traders in their rooms? According to all the agreements between Earth and Minbar, this Embassy is Earth territory. You can't just imprison Earth citizens like that."
Greenway took a deep breath and let it out. "An Earth citizen was involved in the assassination attempt," he replied, equally firmly. "There has to have been some reason why it was done now."
"Oh?" Sinclair asked. "And what makes you think that?"
"The Narn and Centauri governments have been thrown into total disarray by what happened on Babylon 5 and in Quadrant 14," Greenway said, glancing into Sinclair's rooms and catching Tesain's eyes. "It seems only logical that there'd be an attempt to have the same thing happen to the EA and the Minbari."
Sinclair nodded, understanding. If he had died from the assassination, the EA would blame it on the Minbari, and the Minbari would blame it on humans, and there'd be another war underway.
"Of course," Sinclair added, following Greenway's thoughts, "it would imply that whoever was behind the attack knows a great deal about the true situation here."
"Well, it's not something you should be worrying about at the moment," Greenway said firmly. He ignored the way Entil'zha's eyes narrowed, and gestured to the door. "You really need to rest, sir," he continued. "To be quite honest with you, you look dead on your feet. Hell, it's only been a bit over half a day since the attack!"
"Greenway is correct, Entil'zha," Tesain said, moving into the corridor and looking carefully at Sinclair. "For the healing to be quick, you must rest. Avair, Kozorr and Greenway are capable of handling matters for the moment.
"And if you do not, it is quite possible that you could be weak for a month or more."
"I have to--" Sinclair began.
"If necessary, sir, we'll wait until you're fully recovered before asking Mr. Trevanti anything," Greenway assured him hastily.
"They're right," Alisa added, watching them calmly. "You are tired, Entil'zha; and, as Greenway said, you look like death warmed over."
Sinclair sighed. "It seems fairly obvious I'm not going to win this one," he muttered. He started to go back into his quarters, but before he entered, he turned to Greenway. "We're going to have a talk about what you did to the traders a bit later, Greenway," he declared firmly, with no trace of pain in his voice "I won't tolerate having them turned into virtual prisoners here."
"Whatever you say, sir," Greenway replied. He wasn't looking forward to the talk, but Entil'zha was, strictly speaking, right.
The door closed behind him, and Tesain touched the lock at the side of the door once.
"He won't like that," Ladann said.
Tesain gave a shrug; it was a gesture she'd picked up from some of the human Rangers. "It doesn't matter whether he likes it or not," she replied forthrightly. "If I didn't lock him in, he'd be up and about tomorrow, firmly convinced that killing himself was absolutely necessary."
"Come on," Greenway said then, gesturing to Alisa. "You and I are going to pay a visit to the secure area. Ladann, you might want to make a quick check on the other traders, just to make sure that none of them have slipped out as well, and then get some rest."
"You need rest as well, Greenway," Tesain said.
"Don't worry, Tesain, I fully intend to go sleep like a log, as soon as I've made sure that Loseann has Mr. Trevanti secured."
"Very well," Tesain said, a touch of reluctance in her voice.
Greenway bowed slightly, and then gestured for Alisa to follow him.
"You have no intention of waiting 'til Entil'zha is recovered before questioning Trevanti, do you?" Alisa said suspiciously, as they strode down the corridor that led to the secure area.
"We can't afford to lose any time," Greenway replied. "I didn't lie to Entil'zha; what's necessary in this case is that we find out exactly what he was doing and why, as quickly as possible. We've got to do that; Sean might be connected to the assassination attempt, or it might be something completely different. We can't afford to take any chances."
"And Tesain's right about Entil'zha's tendency to overwork himself," Alisa finished for him.
"Exactly," Greenway replied with a nod, remembering the little 'talk' he'd had with Kozorr soon after he'd arrived.
"We need to talk," growled a voice in Interlac, and Greenway looked up from the notes Ambassador Sinclair--Entil'zha--had given him to see the Star Rider Kozorr in the doorway of his room.
"You could have thought to knock, at least," Greenway said sourly. He wasn't in the best of moods; he'd just had a series of shocks and surprises dumped on him, and he hadn't yet gotten his equilibrium back.
"If I had knocked, you would have refused to see me," the warrior replied. "Then you would have been even angrier when I insisted, and it would have gotten us nowhere. By doing it this way, I avoided that possibility."
"I wouldn't be too sure of that," Greenway muttered under his breath.
"I would," came the reply, and the Star Rider strode into his room and sat down on one of the chairs, without even waiting for an invitation.
"We have to talk," he repeated.
Since it was obvious to Greenway that he wouldn't be able to get rid of the Star Rider easily, he took the data crystal out of the port and turned to face the warrior.
"About what?" he demanded.
"Entil'zha," came the reply.
Greenway felt a touch of interest, and the warrior evidently read it in his expression.
"You and I," he said, "are some of the first of Entil'zha's Rangers. At present there are only two others; Avair and a human telepath by the name of Alisa Beldon, who is learning here on Minbar. Alisa Beldon is busy much of the time with her lessons, and Avair is Entil'zha's aide. Both of them are already aware of what I am going to tell you."
"Which is?" Greenway prodded, unable to stop himself.
"I have been assigned to oversee Entil'zha's security by the Grey Council and our leader, the Holy One. As such, it is my duty to ensure Entil'zha's health and safety at all times. He has already decided that you are to be the second-in-command of the Rangers--their liaison with him. Because of this, there are a number of things that you must be made aware of."
"And those are?" Greenway said, impatiently.
"Entil'zha has a very unfortunate tendency to place himself into unnecessary danger," Kozorr continued, ignoring the interruption. "I have been informed that he has done this a number of times while in command of Babylon 5. As the second-in-command of the Rangers, it is your duty to prevent him from doing this. While some danger does come with the task he has taken on himself, I have been told that Entil'zha has a habit of doing things that result in unnecessary risk.
"As well, he has a tendency to concentrate on tasks he is engaged in to the exclusion of all other things, including sleep. Another part of your duty while here on Minbar will be to help Avair ensure that Entil'zha does not endanger his health in any unnecessary way."
"You're using the term 'unnecessary' a bit frequently," Greenway pointed out.
"Ambassador Sinclair has taken a task upon himself that will result in a great deal of danger--unavoidable danger. That is the way it is for any leader. It is our duty to see that he does not place himself, or get placed, in avoidable danger."
"I see," Greenway said slowly. "You said while I'm here on Minbar," he added. "What do you mean by that?"
"You will be Entil'zha's liaison with the other Rangers, and theirs with him," Kozorr repeated. "As such, you will be spending most of your time off Minbar, with them."
"You also said that there are only two others," Greenway pointed out, leaning back in his chair.
"There will be others," Kozorr declared. "We are just the beginning; the nucleus of the army that will be formed. There will be others."
The two of them arrived at the secure area--the cell--where Alyt Loseann had brought Sean Trevanti, to find that Kozorr had arrived moments before them, and was already beginning to question Trevanti.
"Kozorr, what are you doing?" Greenway demanded, striding into the cell, followed by Alisa.
Kozorr leaned back against the wall and crossed his arms. "I am attempting to discover what this Earther was doing in the Crystal Corridor."
"I gathered that much," Greenway replied, not looking at Sean. "What I want to know is why didn't you wait until I got here?"
"I had assumed that you would have more difficulty withEntil'zha than you seem to have had," Kozorr replied. "Now, since you are here, let us continue."
Sean stared at the three other people in the room in disbelief. He'd been absolutely shocked when Alex had betrayed him--he'd expected that Alex, as his friend, would support his story. He was even more shocked when Alex ordered the Minbari warrior to take him to a cell. But this was the last straw. Alex couldn't mean to let the Minbari continue to question him!
"What the hell's going on, Alex?" he demanded.
"I will ask the questions here, Earther," the tall warrior declared.
"This is the Earth Embassy," Sean replied boldly. "I may not be a lawyer, but I know a bit about diplomatic law. Because this is an embassy, it's officially Earth territory, and you have no authority h--"
"You're wrong, Sean," Greenway interrupted abruptly. "Yes, this is officially EA territory, but Kozorr does have the authority to question you. Particularly as you were found in a restricted area."
"Restricted area?" Sean laughed in disbelief. "That's ridiculous. Why would there be a restricted area here, and even if there was, why wasn't it posted as such?"
"Mainly because it was assumed that the traders who came here were law-abiding and wouldn't go looking for trouble!" Alex declared, his expression tightening in anger.
"Calm down, Greenway," Alisa Beldon said, touching his arm for just a moment. "There's no need to yell."
Alex turned away for a moment, the muscles in his jaw tightening, and then turned back to face Sean. His expression had become absolutely blank.
"You will answer Kozorr's questions honestly and to the best of your ability, Mr. Trevanti," he said coldly. "As Head of Security for the Embassy, he has the authority to question you concerning your behaviour on these grounds. If you decide not to cooperate, then we will have to take other actions."
What the hell is going on with him? Sean thought, his feeling of betrayal starting to metamorphose into anger. I didn't do anything wrong!
"Mr. Trevanti," the warrior said--causing Sean to turn and look at him--"I would be interested in knowing how it was that you were able to get out of the quarters assigned to you."
"I don't have to tell you anything!" Sean exclaimed. "I don't see any representative of the EA government here, which means that you have no right to question me. I refuse to answer until there is an official representative present."
To Sean's surprise, it wasn't the warrior who reacted to that. Instead, Alex took a step forward and brought his fist back, as though he were intending to punch Sean.
The warrior grabbed Alex's arm firmly.
"No, Greenway," he stated, "you must not do this."
"Let go, Kozorr!" Alex exclaimed, trying to twist away. "He may have been involved in the--"
"If so, we will not discover it by beating him," the warrior replied, but Sean didn't exactly feel reassured. The warrior's tone was very cold, as though he would have liked to react the same way as Alex, and was only keeping himself from doing so by an enormous act of will.
"Anyway," Sean continued, getting more and more irritated, "what's a Minbari doing as the Head of Security in the EA Embassy?"
"At the present time," the warrior--Kozorr, Alex had called him--declared, "that is not your concern. Your concern at the moment is answering the questions we put to you to the best of your ability."
If the situation hadn't been so serious, Sean would have laughed aloud at the Minbari's delivery; it sounded so artificial! As it was, he had to concentrate for a moment to keep himself under control.
"And if you remain concerned about the presence of a representative of your government," Kozorr continued, his tone still very cold, "Mr. Greenway is the personal representative of Ambassador Sinclair."
Wonderful! Sean thought. Now I'm really confused. How on Earth did Alex end up in that position?
After a moment's thought, he asked the question out loud.
Alex's face was absolutely blank--Sean couldn't see any expression cross it. Alisa Beldon was looking at him, curious, and the warrior Kozorr seemed surprised at his boldness.
"After all," Sean continued, when no one answered the question, "when I last saw you, you were a trading agent for Centrum Consortium. And now you're an important person in diplomatic circles? Come on, it was only eight months ago that we last saw each other.
"And why," he added, seeing that his three questioners seemed frozen, "are you working with the Minbari? I mean, you were--"
Greenway seemed to snap out his trance, and glared at Sean.
"That does not concern you," he said, and his voice was like ice, freezing the remains of their friendship. "I suggest you tell us how you got out of your quarters."
Sean's mouth tightened. There was no way he was going to betray--
"He had a special keycard," Alisa Beldon declared suddenly. "His boss gave it to him, with orders to investigate any unusual people or items he noticed while he was here."
Sean gaped at her. There was only one way she could have known that: she had to be a telepath! Only what was she doing here, on Minbar, and not in the Psi-Corps?
He wondered if his boss had any idea of how many strange things were going on here.
Greenway looked at Sean coldly. He wasn't sure exactly what he felt; fury, fear, disappointment in his erstwhile friend, or some combination of the three. Certainly there was an element of disgust at the betrayal that Sean had committed, but that was small compared to the other emotions that swirled through him.
He had to get out of here--if he stayed any longer, he knew that he was going to pound Sean to a pulp, and Kozorr wouldn't be able to stop him.
"Keep him locked in here for the moment, Kozorr," he said, trying to leach all the emotion from his voice. "The lock won't open to any EA technology, so there should be no chance of him getting out."
Kozorr gave him a curt nod, and Greenway turned and strode quickly out into the corridor.
"You should go get some rest, like Tesain said," Alisa declared, moving in front of him. "I doubt Entil'zha will be in any shape to do anything tomorrow--"
"Today, you mean. It's after midnight," Greenway interrupted drily.
"And you'll need to be as alert as possible to continue the search for the assassins," she continued, as though he hadn't spoken. "That means that you need to get some sleep."
Greenway gestured with one hand, in an unconscious imitation of the Minbari, and nodded. "You're right," he admitted reluctantly. "I do need sleep."
He sighed, and then started toward his room. He paused for a moment, glancing back at the cell where he'd just ordered an old friend imprisoned, and then straightened his shoulders and continued.
Greenway opened his eyes and stared groggily at the chrono on the desk beside his bed.
It was eight o'clock; he had a lot of stuff he had to do. However, instead of getting up, he shifted his head so that he was staring up at the ceiling, and thought. The past four months had been hectic, and it was getting even more so. He rarely had the time to just sit and think anymore; there was always something else that he had to do, something more urgent.
When he'd first come here, he'd wondered about the Rangers; how Entil'zha was recognizing them, and whether they were actually going to expand.
Thinking of that now, he snorted. As he'd told Mr. Garibaldi two weeks ago, they were growing, and at a surprising rate, as well.
Most of them were humans; the Minbari weren't overly pleased about it, but there was nothing that could be done. And anyway, Sinclair was human, so...
Every single one of them had been drawn here. Greenway still wasn't sure about this 'Minbari soul' thing, but it was quite true that the human Rangers found themselves unaccountably comfortable on Minbar, and despite the difference in races, and the fact that a number of the human Rangers were, like himself and Sinclair, survivors of the Line; even with all that, they got along quite well with the Minbari Rangers.
A Minbari soul, Greenway thought to himself. He wondered if Sinclair believed it. He wasn't sure; Sinclair kept his thoughts about the matter to himself, and if he did believe it, he certainly hadn't mentioned it.
And yet, of all of them, Sinclair was the most comfortable on Minbar. He fit in well, and everyone, even those that disliked him personally, respected him. It was, well, strange. Only eleven years ago...
He was brought out of his musing by the sound of a knock on his door.
"Come in," he called, sitting up.
The door opened as someone pressed his hand against the plate outside, and Kozorr stepped in.
His expression, Greenway noted, a chill running up his spine, was grim.
"What is it?"
"Both the PPG and the dartgun have undergone an analysis," Kozorr replied, taking one of the chairs.
"And?" Greenway prodded slowly.
"And we were right; it was the work of both humans and Minbari. A human fired the PPG, a Minbari the dartgun."
"Were you able to identify who handled them?"
"No," Kozorr said bluntly, his expression becoming even grimmer. "There was not enough genetic material left on either to give a definite identity."
"So we've got a very big problem," Greenway finished for him.
"Yes. And to make the situation worse, it seems unlikely that the human assassin remained on Minbar. Without him or her, it is highly probable that we won't be able to find the Minbari accomplice."
"Oh, great," Greenway muttered, wondering for a moment if he could just bury his head in his pillow and forget all of it. However, his sense of duty was too strong; even as he thought that, he was gearing himself up for another long day.
"So you don't think we'll be able to find him," Greenway said.
"That's right. I have informed the Council and the Holy One, so they will be watching carefully, and the most trustworthy Star Riders have also been informed, quietly. Between us, if the assassin can be found, he will be.
"However, considering our chances, we need to increase security here. There must be no more opportunities for him..."
"...Or them..." Greenway interjected quietly.
"...To attack," Kozorr finished.
"Now," he added, "we must discuss Mr. Trevanti."
Once again, Greenway felt the momentary impulse to bury himself in his bed and pretend nothing had happened. But he was a Ranger; that wasn't one of his options. So instead, he got up and began dressing. But he didn't particularly want to discuss Sean; to his mind, it was better if they just kept him in the cell for a few more days before deciding on a course of action. Let him sweat a bit.
"How is Entil'zha doing?" Greenway asked, as he pulled on his tunic. There was a chill in the air that had nothing to do with Kozorr's words--winter was coming.
"Asleep, as of half an hour ago," Kozorr replied. "Tesain feels that he will sleep for a while, and that this is the best thing for him.
"But to return to the relevant topic, what are we to do with Mr. Trevanti?"
"We don't have to decide right now," Greenway pointed out, reluctance clear in his voice. "After all, the Commander will want a chance to find out what he was doing--"
"Alisa discovered that for us, remember?" Kozorr pointed out. "And you arranged the briefing for the traders to start in half an hour; there will be questions if he is not there."
"We'll just tell them that he's not feeling well," Greenway replied, glancing at his closet. After a moment, he decided to leave off the cloak; it wasn't that cool yet. "And that will also explain why he didn't appear for breakfast."
"That ruse might hold for a day or two, but no longer. We must have a permanent solution."
Greenway didn't like the implication of that last statement, and now that he was fully awake, he remembered what Alisa had told them last night.
"We can't afford to make him disappear, Kozorr," he said firmly. "His boss sent him here to discover what we're doing; if he disappears, there'll be suspicions raised that he did find something, and that it was important enough to get rid of him for. If that happens, they'll just send more spies, and the more we deal with, the worse it'll get."
"You do have a point there," Kozorr admitted.
"And we can figure it out later," Greenway replied, starving toward the foor. "At the moment, as you reminded me, i've got the trafers's briefing, and then we need to discuss whav to do about the attack--"
"How do you mean, 'what to do about it'?" Kozorr asked.
"Do we publicize it? If so, where? And if not, why?"
"Yes, we do, and only among the Minbari and the Rangers," Kozorr replied instantly.
"I don't know that Satai Hedronn or the Holy One would agree to such a plan, Kozorr," Greenway said, as they strode through the Crystal Corridor toward The Hall.
Kozorr frowned slightly and fell silent, leaving Greenway to his own thoughts once more.
He didn't like the direction in which they were taking him. What he'd said to Kozorr was true; if they removed Sean, whether by killing him, keeping him imprisoned, or something else of that nature, they would just feed the suspicions of whomever had sent him. They couldn't afford that.
And yet, Sean had seen the way that humans and Minbari worked together here, and he had seen Greenway himself behaving friendly with the Minbari. Only five months ago, if someone had told him that he'd be very good friends with a Minbari warrior, he would have laughed in their face. Yet here he was.
And it was quite possible that Sean had seen more than they knew. After all, he had managed to discover the lobby door leading to the Crystal Corridor; that in itself was a danger.
Something would have to be done; but what?
Even as Greenway was thinking this, he and Kozorr entered The Hall.
The Hall was just that, a hall, but carved out of crystal and placed so that the morning sunlight created hundreds of colours throughout the entire area. It was the one Minbari place in the Embassy that the traders were allowed to see, and the beauty of it often helped reduce any lingering prejudices they might have. Not always, but often enough that all briefings were now done within The Hall, as opposed to the dining area or the lobby.
Alyt Loseann and Avair were waiting patiently for them, with Alisa behind them.
"Is everything ready, Avair?" Greenway asked.
"Of course," came Avair's response, and the aide gestured to the lectern placed at one end of The Hall. The lectern had a sopisticated projector in it, so that Greenway could present images and maps for the traders during the briefing.
Greenway then turned to Loseann, looking at her questioningly.
"Mr. Trevanti has been given his morning meal," the Alyt declared. "And Alisa has a suggestion that may be of use, to deal with the problem that he presents."
"Alisa?" Kozorr asked, looking at the young telepath.
"I'm not sure if this will work," Alisa began hesitantly, "but if it does, it'll solve the problem. If it doesn't, it'll be just one more thing that he knows about, and shouldn't."
"Go on," Greenway prodded. They only had another fifteen minutes before the briefing, and if this was a workable solution, it would take a load off his mind, and he'd be able to better deal with any problems that arose during the briefing.
"I think that I might be able to put a false memory into his mind," she replied.
Greenway just looked at her as the idea began to sink in.
"What would this memory consist of?" Kozorr demanded.
"Well, I'd have to leave in something that seems a bit unusual; the reason he was sent was that his boss had heard some rumours from various people, and wanted to know the truth about them, and it would seem strange if there wasn't any. So there'd have to be something.
"As for the rest, well, what's the official excuse for his absence?"
"He's sick with something," Kozorr replied. The warrior sounded thoughtful; it appeared that Alisa's idea sounded good to him.
"Then that should be easy enough to arrange," Alisa said, a bit more confidence in her tone. "If we actually make him come down with a fever of some sort, maybe rafiniche, like I did, then it will make it a lot easier to insert a false memory."
"That's all very well and good," Greenway declared, "but I have two questions. First of all, can we persuade Tesain or Dr. Saunders to actually give him the fever; and second, what happens if he starts to remember the truth?"
"All we'd have to do is tell either of them that the safety of the Rangers, and Entil'zha, depends on it; which is quite true," Kozorr replied.
"And as for him remembering, well, I still don't remember much of what happened just before I caught rafiniche, and the fever causes a certain amount of delirium," Alisa added. "As I said, it will only make it easier to implant the false memory."
"And what about the danger of the fever itself?" Greenway demanded. "We don't know very much about how it affects humans, your case notwithstanding."
"I don't think we have a choice, Greenway," Avair said slowly. "It's either that, or do something to him which will cause more problems than it solves."
Greenway's mouth tightened. He could tell that the others weren't necessarily as enthusiastic about it as they appeared, and certainly he wasn't, but as Avair had said, it might just be their only chance.
"Go talk to Tesain and Keith," he ordered. "See what they think about it. If they agree, we'll do it. If not, we'll have to find some other way."
"And what about Entil'zha?" Loseann asked.
Kozorr shook his head. "He is not yet recovered; in fact, it is quite possible that he made himself weaker by not remaining in bed all of last night. Tesain believes that he should rest in bed for another two days at least, and should not be bothered by these sorts of difficulties for another week or so after that. Therefore, in this case, it is Greenway's decision to make."
Lovely, Greenway thought, as the others began to head toward the door; he was the only one that would conduct the briefing. He's going to kill me when he finds out.
Just then, the first of the traders arrived with their Minbari guides, and Greenway turned his attention to the briefing.
The briefing over, Greenway started toward the dining area to get something to eat--he had had neither time nor the inclination to have breakfast before beginning, and he was starting to feel absolutely famished.
However, Kozorr, Tesain, and Alisa met him just outside The Hall, and Greenway, noticing the kit that Tesain carried, realized that they were about to start.
"Where are Avair and Alyt Loseann?" he asked.
"Avair is dealing with the ambassador's diplomatic duties," Tesain replied, "and the Alyt is busy organizing the search for the Minbari assassin.
"They tell me that you have authorized this... this idea," she added.
Greenway shrugged, avoiding the healer's eyes. "As far as I can tell, it's the only choice we have that presents as little risk as possible to everyone," he explained defensively.
"Oh, I'm aware of that, and I agree," Tesain replied. "Dr. Saunders has done a certain amount of research about the rafiniche virus, and has found that it is not fatal to Earthers, any more than it is to Minbari. Mr. Trevanti will be safe enough."
"That's a relief, at least," Greenway mumbled, before looking back up. "But now?"
"The sooner, the better, as I believe you Earthers say," Tesain declared. "Let us go."
Sean glared sullenly at the Minbari warrior just outside the door of his cell. This was not what he had bargained for when he had agreed to come to Minbar; none of this was.
Part of the reason for his sullenness was Greenway's behaviour. He'd thought that Alex, at least, would understand that Earth and Earth Corporations needed more information on the Minbari than they had at present, as well as information of the relations between the Minbari and the EA's Ambassador. And yet, his friend (ex-friend) had just given him up to the Minbari; had even supported the Minbari against him.
It was inconceivable! What had turned Alex Greenway from someone who disliked the Minbari even more than Sean did, to someone who appeared to consider some Minbari as his friends?
Before he could do more than ask himself that question, his Minbari guard gave a bow and moved aside for four people to enter the cell.
Three of them Sean recognized instantly; Alex Greenway, Alisa Beldon, and the Minbari who had questioned him last night--Kozorr. The other one, a female Minbari, he didn't recognize at all.
"What do you want?" he demanded.
Greenway stepped forward. "Sean, I'd like to introduce you to Tesain, one of the best healers among the Minbari, and the one who has made a study of human medicine." He gestured to the unfamiliar Minbari. "She's going to help us arrange a few things."
The tone of Greenway's voice alarmed Sean, and he stood up. "What are you talking about?" he demanded, and then felt a sudden sting in his arm. He stared at Tesain for a moment, and then turned back to Greenway, angry. "What the hell was that?"
"A shot," Greenway replied calmly. "You're going to get a fever; it'll start sometime within the next few hours, and will last a day or two. Once you're recovered, you'll be sent back to Earth, and we'll suggest that you not come back, as you seem to be vulnerable to Minbari diseases."
"What?!?" Sean exclaimed, surging up in his seat. The warrior Kozorr grabbed his upper arms and shoved him back down, roughly.
"It's necessary," Greenway continued coldly. "There are a number of things that you have discovered that could prove to be very dangerous to the Earth Alliance if you--"
"Don't bother explaining it to him," Kozorr snapped. "It's done; we all have duties to attend to at the moment. Come on."
The warrior strode out the door, and after a moment, so did Alisa and the other Minbari. Greenway hesitated for a moment.
"I'm sorry it's had to come to this, Sean," he said then. "It was either give you this fever, or kill you. This way, you're still alive, and you just suffer a small illness."
He then turned and walked out the door, closing and locking it behind him, before Sean could snarl anything in response.
It had been about two and a half hours since their visit when Sean began to feel dizzy. He moved to lie down on his bed, and as he put his head down, he found himself sinking into darkness. He tried to resist, but the blackness rolled him under easily.
Sean pushed himself up and looked around dazedly. Sitting by his bed was a tall man with reddish-blond hair pushed out of his eyes, who was examining what looked like some sort of medical instrument. As Sean put his hand on the mattress to steady himself, the man looked up, and smiled absently at him.
"Oh, good, you're awake," he said. "That means that you're better, of course."
"Better?" Sean croaked.
"Yes, better," the man declared. "You've just had a case of rafiniche fever; it's an unusual Minbari disease that some humans seem to be susceptible to. Unfortunately, since we don't yet know what causes that vulnerability, we've had some trouble figuring out--"
"Who are you?" Sean asked, his voice sounding a bit better this time.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" the man exclaimed. "Here you are, just recovered from being sick, and I sit here babbling away like--"
"Dr. Keith Saunders, at your service," the man said. "I'm here studying Minbari diseases and the effects on humans, so you made the perfect speci--"
Sean tuned the doctor out and tried to concentrate, tried to remember what had happened. He could remember getting into the shuttle from the Asimov to come down to the capital of Minbar, he could remember chatting with Alex Greenway, he could remember being met by a Minbari at the spaceport; but after that, things became distorted. He seemed to remember a group of people looking down at him, and unclear mumblings, and a whole bunch of other stuff...
"Doc, what does this fever do?" he asked, stopping in the middle of the sentence to cough for a moment.
"Well, it causes a touch of delirium, and seems to play around with the short-term memory from before it manifests itself. You must have caught it very soon after you arrived; unusual that," the doctor added thoughtfully. "I really must check to see if there have been other cases reported recently--it's a mystery--"
"Thanks, doc," Sean interrupted, letting himself fall back onto the bed.
"No problem, no problem at all, my boy," the doctor replied. "You must be particularly susceptible to rafiniche fever; definitely a good subject for study.
"However, I assume you want to know how long you'll be like this?"
"Yes," Sean answered. He felt terribly weak, and didn't care at all for the feeling.
"That will be about another two weeks," the doctor declared. "But we're sending you up to the next ship to arrive, which will be in two days; your recovery will be easier if you're off Minbar. It's unlikely you'll be able to come back before we've fully decoded which Minbari infections, viruses, disease, and so forth affect humans, and how, but your company can always send another rep--"
Sean, listening to the doctor continue to babble, fell sound asleep.
Greenway leaned back in his seat and glared at the flimsies littering his desk. It had been five days since the attack, and Tesain and Keith Saunders both felt that Sinclair wasn't yet up to working, whether it concerned the Rangers or his diplomatic duties. So Greenway was dealing with the Rangers, just as Avair was handling the diplomatic side of things; and the amount of work that he had to deal with had increased his respect for Entil'zha immensely--Sinclair was dealing with what were effectively two full-time jobs, and had no trouble handling the workload. Or, rather, he managed to handle the workload and still fit in a few extra things. Greenway had enough trouble trying to handle one of those jobs.
Of course, it did help that Entil'zha had the three of them--himself, Kozorr, and Avair--to help him, but...
Face it, Greenway, he thought to himself, feeling glumness descend on him abruptly, you're just trying to avoid dealing with the situation surrounding Sean.
That was true enough; Sean had been awake and alert for the two days, and Greenway had been carefully avoiding him during that time. His feelings about what Sean had been ready to do would be impossible to hide; but between Alisa and the fever, Sean's memory of what had happened four and five days ago was now distorted, and he wouldn't understand why Greenway was so angry with him. And it was still possible that if Greenway behaved oddly toward him, that Sean might be able to break through whatever Alisa had done.
Greenway snapped his chair upright, a scowl on his face, and reached for one of the flimsies. Even thinking about the assassination attempt would be easier than brooding over what Sean had done, and what had been done to him.
Then the door opened, and Greenway looked up.
Speak of the devil... he thought ruefully; Kozorr stood there, with two data crystals held in his hand.
The Star Rider had been coordinating the search for more information about the assassins, and, the last time he'd reported in, there'd been nothing new. But now...
"What is it?" Greenway asked, gesturing for the warrior to enter.
"We may have a partial answer here," Kozorr said, coming into the room and putting the data crystals on the desk.
"What's on those?"
"This one," Kozorr replied, picking up one of them, "is a report on all Earthers who have traveled through the spaceport in the past two weeks; that one," he pointed to the other, "holds the results of a search comparing the data on this to the Embassy records. There are two Earthers who were on Minbar five days ago who are not registered with the Embassy, and one of them left on the Asimov, going up on the shuttle that left two hours after the attempt. The other is apparently still on Minbar."
"Wonderful!" Greenway exclaimed, reaching for the second crystal.
"There is more," Kozorr declared, sounding angry at what he had to say. "Neither of the two Earthers arrived through the spaceport. The only way they could have arrived on Minbar is if they were smuggled in."
Greenway nodded in understanding; only a Minbari--or a group of Minbari--could have brought them in; or, at least, there had to have been cooperation.
It wasn't news, of course; the analysis done on the dartgun had made it clear that at least one Minbari was involved, but Kozorr still found it hard to believe. No real surprise that, of course--assassination was dishonourable, and Kozorr found it almost impossible to conceive of a Minbari acting dishonourably. The dartgun had made it obvious that it was possible, but this extra proof made it even more difficult for the Star Rider.
"Well," Greenway said, shaking himself free of his thoughts, "we can probably find the human who stayed on Minbar fairly easily, and they'll lead us to the others involved in this."
"That," Kozorr replied, "is the bad news. There is no sign whatsoever of the woman Tara Klein--it is as though she were never here. And yet she went through the spaceport with Eric Arras; she was here."
Greenway felt a sinking sensation in his stomach. Not just at Kozorr's declaration--although the fact that both humans were off Minbar was troublesome enough--but at the name of the one who hadn't taken the Asimov shuttle.
"Tara Klein?" he repeated slowly.
"Yes," Kozorr said. He studied Greenway's face for a moment, and frowned at what he saw. "You have heard the name before?"
Greenway nodding tightly. "During the war," he said. "She was a special agent of the EA government, Kozorr," he added, speaking a bit quicker. "She got her orders directly from the government!"
"And you think that she may still?" the Star Rider demanded.
Greenway swallowed. Kozorr's rage was palpable; he'd have to make sure that his explanation was very clear.
"You have to understand, Kozorr; our government isn't at all like yours--it's made up of hundreds of different bureaus, and committees, and agencies. Tara Klein worked for one particular agency--I never did find out which one, just that it was fairly secret, and pretty powerful. Yes, I think she still works for that agency; it's not the type of thing that you're allowed to quit. But one agency isn't the entire government."
"I am well aware of that," Kozorr replied curtly, pacing back and forth almost like a leashed tiger. The comparison, Greenway felt, was entirely too accurate.
Then the warrior stopped abruptly and turned around to face him. "I will inform the Holy One and the Council," he declared. As Greenway started to interrupt, Kozorr raised his hand. "I have no choice; it is my duty to Minbar and to Entil'zha," he continued firmly. "And then we will alert the Rangers. We will inform Entil'zha when he is fully recovered."
"And..." Greenway prodded.
"We will watch."
"What about trying to find--" Greenway began to demand.
Again, Kozorr raised his hand. "As you yourself pointed out, this was apparently organized by someone within the EA government. For now, it will be enough to watch carefully, and to search quietly. We cannot afford to try to get Eric Arras--it will alert whoever sent him, and considering the ease with which the attempt was made, it is unlikely that we would have the chance to question him.
"No, we will wait, watch, and learn. Much like we do now, for the Shadows. Now that we know about the EA's involvement, we will be much more careful.
"I believe that you have work to do," Kozorr added as he strode to the door, not giving Greenway a chance to speak. "We must try to make certain that Entil'zha has as little work as possible to do over the next few weeks."
Sean Trevanti sat down in his seat on the Heinlein's shuttle, feeling glad to be off his feet. He was still rather weak, although the fever had broken two days ago.
Two days, he thought to himself, as the shuttle crew began preparing for lift-off. In two days, I haven't seen Alex at all! What's up with him? He wasn't with the other traders, I know, and...
He frowned as a flicker of memory came to the surface--Alex talking to a Minbari warrior, his stance casual and relaxed, as though he were speaking to a friend--and then, as suddenly as it had come, it was gone, back into the distorted mess that made up his memories of his first three days on Minbar.
As the shuttle lifted, Sean looked out the window, watching the sunlight reflect off the crystal buildings of Yedor, and felt a shiver of unease pass through him. He hadn't been able to get that information for his boss; he'd be lucky if the fever was the worst thing that happened to him.