"To Kill a Spider"

by tag

I would like to dedicate "To Kill a Spider" to everyone who is reading it--especially those members of the b5-creative mailing list; and, of course, to J. Michael Straczynski, without whom this wonderful world would not exist.

Babylon 5 is copyright © PTN Consortium. No infringement of that copyright is intended by this story.
"To Kill a Spider" is copyright © 1996, tag. This copyright will be surrendered to Babylonian Productions upon request.
This story may be distributed electronically, as long as this copyright notice remains intact.

Chapter 1

Jeffrey Sinclair, the Earth Ambassador to Minbar, glared at his desk in frustration. It was covered in flimsies and data crystals, half of which he hadn't yet had time to look at. There was no end to it! And he'd thought running Babylon 5 was work...

He leaned back in his chair and reached for his cup of tea. It would be easier if he could give some of the paperwork to Avair and have him handle it, but his aide was in the middle of a well-deserved vacation.

Vacation, he thought with a sigh. It's only been a bit over six months, and I'm already beginning to forget the meaning of the word!

Then he gave himself a mental shake. He didn't have time to indulge in a fit of self-pity; there were too many other things he had to do. He sat back up, and was reaching for the next set of flimsies when his com beeped.

He turned to face the screen. "Yes?"

"Ambassador," replied Kozorr, who was screening his calls at the moment, "there is a Gold Channel transmission for you, from Babylon 5."

"Who is it?" he asked.

"I believe that it is Mr. Garibaldi, Ambassador. Shall I put it through?"

"Yes, please, Kozorr," Sinclair replied, wondering as he did so why Garibaldi was calling.

The screen flickered, and Garibaldi's face replaced Kozorr's.

"Hello, Michael," Sinclair said, smiling.

"Hi, Jeff," Garibaldi replied. "How've you been?"

"Fine," Sinclair said, although underneath his desk, his hand rubbed against his leg for a moment, as a twinge of pain reminded him of the lie. "And what about you? I haven't spoken to you face to face since before I arrived here, so..."

"Same old, same old," Garibaldi replied.

Sinclair leaned back in his chair again. "You didn't use the Gold Channel just to check up and see how I am, Michael. What's wrong?"

"Why are you assuming something's wrong?" Garibaldi asked, all innocence.

"Because I know you," Sinclair replied. "So what's up?"

"Okay," Garibaldi said, leaning a bit closer to the screen. "Listen, Jeff, the Narns are really getting pounded by the Centauri, and Captain Sheridan's agreed to give G'Kar all the help he can. The problem is that EarthDome won't let us give them any official help--they don't want the EA to get involved at all. So Sheridan and Delenn have come up with a plan to smuggle food and medical shipments to Narn colonies, and smuggle refugees out, using Minbari transports--"

"I know," Sinclair replied, glancing for a moment at his desk. One of the data crystals that he had had a chance to look at described the plan in its entirety.

Garibaldi blinked, and then gave a shrug. "Anyway, I was wondering if you could, well..."

Sinclair smiled slightly. "Don't worry, Michael; it's already been taken care of. I don't like what the Centauri are doing any more than you do..." He paused, and studied his friend's face.

"What else?" he asked then.

"Huh?" Garibaldi said.

"What else did you want to talk about?"

Garibaldi chuckled, weakly. "There's no hiding things from you, is there, Jeff?"

It was Sinclair's turn to shrug.

"There are a couple of other things I need to tell you, but I'm not sure how much we can talk about right now... And I don't know that it's something that I can just relay through someone..."

Sinclair frowned. This was obviously something big, and he had an uncomfortable feeling that he knew what it was about. Considering everything that had happened over the past year and a half...

"So what were you thinking of?"

"I dunno, Jeff. I mean, it's something that I think you need to know, but I can't think of any way to get it to you..."

There was a pause, and then a corner of the screen began to blink.

Sinclair glanced at his chrono, and his mouth tightened for a moment.

"Listen, Michael, I've got a meeting in a few minutes that I've got to attend. Why not put it on a data crystal, and get it to me through one of our friends? No one else will look at it, I assure you."

"It's taking a chance, Jeff... You're the only one who I want to see this, and how can you be sure?"

"Believe me, Michael; if you say that it's only for me, I will be the only one to see it," Sinclair replied. He glanced at the chrono again. "I'm really sorry, Michael, but I've got to get going--this meeting is extremely important..."

"Okay," Garibaldi said, his tone reluctant. "I'll see what I can come up with. Take care of yourself, Jeff."

"Don't worry, I will," Sinclair replied, hiding a grimace as he thought of Kozorr's 'precautions'. "I hope to talk to you again soon."

Garibaldi nodded, and the screen turned off.

Sinclair turned back to his desk, grabbed one of the piles of flimsies--the plans for Zagros 7--and got up and headed to the door. Drozac was waiting for him, and he didn't want to be too late.

Tony Santelli sat down at a small table and let his eyes flicker over the crowd in the Zocalo. It was busier than usual today, though not by much--the Zocalo was always busy.

And he looked around, he spotted a pair of Markab traders; a Narn couple, staying as far away as they could from the noisy group of Centauri at a bar down the way; a Minbari warrior, of the Fire Wings clan; and seated just a few feet away, drinking a gin and tonic, was his quarry.

The man had led him on quite a long chase, but he'd finally located him, and now was the time to end it.

As his quarry turned to order another drink, Tony stood up and walked over to the other's table, taking a seat.

The man turned back, and stared at Tony for a moment, surprised.

"Wh-- Tony?" he blurted.

"Hi Rich," Tony said, grinning. "Long time."

"No kidding!" Richard Banks said, shaking his head. "It's been what, ten years?"

"Something like that," Tony replied.

"Took me a minute to recognize you in that getup," Richard continued, jerking his chin at Tony's business suit.

Tony shrugged and continued to unobstrusively scan the Zocalo.

"So, what've you been up to?"

"Nothing much," Tony answered; not the whole truth--but then, the whole truth was dangerous. "Been doing some mining, a bit of trading; the odd job sort of thing. What about you?"

Richard grinned. "Lots," he replied. "I've also been doing some trading--mainly with some of the Non-Aligned worlds. It's a good market; I've been fairly successful."

"Really?" Tony asked. He already knew; in fact, he knew pretty well everything that Richard had been up to since the end of the Earth/Minbari war. But that wasn't something he was about to let Richard know.

"Yep," Richard said, his grin widening. "I'm even starting to amass a considerable amount of money!"

Tony chuckled. He knew that as well.

"So what are you up to here?" Richard inquired.

"I'm here on business," Tony replied. "I've got a couple of things that I need to do here--then I'm off again."

"Well, I guess a lit--"

Richard broke off abruptly when he noticed that his companion had suddenly stiffened, and was staring over his shoulder. He turned around, wondering what Tony was looking at.

All he saw, however, was a crowd. A few people stood out, admittedly; a tall blonde woman, dressed in earth-toned colours--the station's commercial telepath; a Drazi wearing a purple scarf; and a tall man talking with a Minbari.


Tony's gaze snapped back to him. "I'm sorry, Rich," he said hurriedly. "I've got some stuff I have to take care of. Talk to you later?"

"Sure..." Richard said, his voice trailing off as Tony stood up and hurried away.

Tony felt almost as though he'd been hit with a board. He'd been given the man's description; but he'd never expected to actually see him. What was he doing here, on Babylon 5? And with that warrior...

Kozorr had to be told.

Alyt Loseann nodded in satisfaction as the crystal panel was replaced. All was in readiness; Kozorr would be pleased. And as for Entil'zha... well, that depended on Kozorr. It was possible that the Star Rider might not even mention this little addition to his quarters.

She was turning to leave when Kozorr appeared at the door, his face grim.

"Alyt," he said somberly, "there is a problem. I want you to join Entil'zha's guard--his meeting with the Drazi representative is almost finished. I must speak with the Chosen One and the Council."

Loseann nodded obediently, and strode out.

Sinclair smiled as Drozac stood up. "I'm glad that we could get this settled," he said, standing up as well.

"As am I, Ambassador," Drozac replied. The Drazi representative nodded politely, and then strode out the door, holding the data crystals Sinclair had given him.

Sinclair sat back down in his chair, and stared blankly at the crystalline walls for a few minutes.

It had been a long seven months. The President's death--Assassination, whispered a small voice in the back of his mind; his new assignment as Ambassador to Minbar; the revelations of the events on the Line; the trial; the organization of the Rangers; and the assassination attempt on him.

It was the last that was occupying his thoughts whenever he got a chance to relax. He was still more than a little confused about exactly what had happened to him; Tesain had said something about a native Minbari poison, but that didn't explain the dreams...

His reverie was interrupted when the door opened. He looked up, surprised to see Alyt Loseann standing there.

"Is something wrong, Alyt?" he asked, getting up.

"The Drazi left fifteen minutes ago, Entil'zha," she replied calmly. "We were wondering when you would be coming out."

Sinclair hid a grimace. The Star Riders that the Chosen One had assigned as his guards took their duties very seriously, and tended to worry about him unnecessarily. It could be quite annoying, especially...

His thoughts ground to a halt. "What are you doing here, Alyt?" he demanded. "I thought you had duties back at the Embassy."

Loseann looked reluctant, obviously not wanting to answer.

"Alyt?" Sinclair repeated, a touch of anger in his tone. He was getting sick and tired of having things kept hidden from him...

"Kozorr just received an urgent report from Babylon 5, Entil'zha," Loseann replied finally. "He will tell you about it when you get back to the Embassy."

"And that necessitated you coming all the way here just to tell me that?" Sinclair asked in disbelief.

Loseann shifted slightly. "Kozorr wished me to fetch you, Entil'zha," she replied. "The matter is urgent, and he wished you to be informed of it immediately. I was instructed to interrupt the meeting, if necessary."

Sinclair blinked in surprise. "It must be serious," he muttered, automatically picking up the flimsies still on the table.

Loseann nodded, and preceded him out of the room.

Kozorr looked up as Ambassador Sinclair entered the lobby of the Earth Embassy and dismissed his guards firmly. A slight frown crossed the warrior's face, but he knew better than to re-open that argument with Entil'zha at the moment. The human was too stubborn for his own good...

"Well, Kozorr?" Sinclair said, walking over to where he was standing by the fountain. "What's so urgent?"

"I think that we should go to your office to discuss this, Entil'zha," Kozorr replied.

For a moment, it looked as though Entil'zha were about to argue, but instead he just nodded, and led the way to the office.

Once there, Sinclair sat down on his desk and looked questioningly at Kozorr.

"I have just received a report from one of the Rangers on Babylon 5, Entil'zha--Tony Santelli," Kozorr declared. "He saw Eric Arras there."

Sinclair absently rubbed one hand along his leg. Kozorr had noticed that he did that whenever the subject of the assassination attempt came up, however obliquely, and reminded himself to ask Tesain and Dr. Saunders whether Entil'zha's leg could still be giving him some pain. It had been a month, but Entil'zha had also been more active than Tesain had thought wise...

"And?" Sinclair asked, interrupting the Star Rider's thoughts.

"And what, Entil'zha?" Kozorr inquired.

Sinclair sighed in exasperation. "Kozorr, I've worked with you for the past six months, and I think that I've come to know you fairly well by now. You wouldn't have been so alarmed as to send Alyt Loseann to join my guards if it was just a matter of Mr. Arras being seen on B5. He's human, and has a perfect right to travel through Earth space. What else is there?"

Six Earth months, and his perception still amazes me, Kozorr thought to himself. It is no wonder that he has won over most of Minbar to his cause!

However, Kozorr was rather reluctant to tell Entil'zha the rest. Sinclair had been demonstrating during the past month a tendency to force himself to work well past the point at which any other would have stopped, and willingly risk his health and safety doing so. Delenn had warned him of that particular trait of Entil'zha's as soon as she had found out that the Chosen One intended to give him the charge of Sinclair's safety.

And yet, Entil'zha was growing very impatient with Kozorr's latest set of precautions; it might be wise to give in on this point. Perhaps it might even convince the human to accept the increased security... Although I doubt that very much, Kozorr added to himself.

"Well?" Sinclair repeated, impatience creeping into his voice.

The warrior took a deep breath, and hoped that the Chosen One and the Council would not be overly upset... "Mr. Arras was seen speaking with one of the Wind Swords," he replied.

A definite frown crossed Sinclair's face as he assimilated the information, and realized that this apparent connection was part of what Kozorr and the others had been keeping from him over the past month. But that wasn't the immediate concern; he'd deal with it later.

"No Wind Sword is permitted on Babylon 5, Kozorr," he declared. "It's been that way since the assassination attempt on Ambassador Kosh, and I don't think that Captain Sheridan will have changed that."

Kozorr kept the feeling of distaste he felt at the mention of Starkiller out of his voice as he replied.

"No Wind Swords have been permitted on Minbar since the end of the war, when they were exiled, Entil'zha," he replied. "And yet, some appeared here, and managed to help your human assailants arrive undetected. Is it any great surprise, considering the large underground population on Babylon 5, that a Wind Sword was able to gain access to the station?"

Sinclair nodded in acknowledgement. "You have a definite point," he replied. "And B5 is the one place where most people wouldn't think it unusual to see a human and a Minbari speaking to each other."

Kozorr nodded in agreement. "Now you can understand why I am so concerned for your safety, Entil'zha. These humans and the Wind Swords have proven that they can enter areas that are strictly forbidden to them--and we did not deal with them last month. They did not succeed then; it is more than likely that they will try again, in greater force and with greater cunning. In order to prevent that from occuring, you need more and better security than you had."

Sinclair shook his head. "I really think that you're overreac--"

"No, Entil'zha, I am not," Kozorr countered firmly. "These renegades pose a very real threat, to you and to our cause.

"If I were to have my way, I would surround you with warriors," Kozorr continued. Sinclair opened his mouth to speak, a look of horror on his face, but Kozorr shook his head. "Unfortunately, I cannot; to have security on such a scale would negate your effectiveness. So, I must do the best I can--and you must accept that."

"But--" Sinclair began.

"I refuse to hear any more arguments against it, Entil'zha," Kozorr declared firmly--his tone made the statement an ultimatum. "From now on, you will go nowhere without a guard of at least two Star Riders or Rangers."

Chapter 2

Tony sat down on the chair facing his communications screen and tried to relax. Kozorr had gotten his message, and assured him that the information would be passed on, but he was still worried. Secret government agencies and renegade Minbari warriors were not a good mix, and the fact that they had tried to assassinate Ambassador Sinclair...

Tony could still feel the furious rage that had come on him quite suddenly when he had been informed of the events on Minbar last month. To think that Entil'Zha had almost died...

Get a grip, Tony! he snapped at himself. Entil'Zha is fully recovered, and you have a job to do... a job that doesn't include getting yourself killed 'cause you were too angry to watch what you were doing...

He shook his head and, getting up, walked over to the small kitchenette, checked the pot of tea to see whether it was ready, and then poured himself a cup. He was expecting a visitor, and it wouldn't do to not have tea ready to offer.

With that thought, the doorcom chimed.

"Come in," he called, his voice activating the opener.

A slender, cloaked figure--with wisps of dark hair escaping from the hood of the cloak--stepped in, letting the door close behind her. As soon as it had done so, she pushed back her hood, revealing her face.

"Ambassador," Tony said, bowing in respect. "Would you care for a cup of tea?"

"Yes, thank you," Ambassador Delenn replied calmly.

Tony obediently poured a second cup and brought it over to her. "It's Entil'Zha's favorite blend," he said, handing her the cup.

The Minbari Ambassador took a sip and smiled slightly. "Yes," she said.

Then her smile faded. "You said that you had something of importance to tell me," she declared.

"Yes, Ambassador," Tony replied. He leaned against the counter of the kitchenette.

"Are you aware of the attempt to assassinate Ambassador Sinclair?"

"The one last month?" Delenn asked. When the Ranger nodded, she replied, "Yes, I am. Kozorr informed me of the details. All the details," she added. "Why?"

"Because five hours ago, I saw Eric Arras here, speaking with a Wind Sword in the Zocalo," Tony said.

Ambassador Delenn stared at him, her face going pale. "A Wind Sword?" she repeated. "Here on Babylon 5?"

"Yes, Ambassador. I have already informed Kozorr of this, and I decided that it would be wise to speak to you before mentioning certain elements of this to Mr. Garibaldi."

Ambassador Delenn took a deep breath. "Thank you for informing me of this," she said slowly. "I will speak to the Council on this matter.

"As for Mr. Garibaldi, I do not think it will be necessary to mention the assassination attempt. Merely inform him that there may be Wind Swords on the station."

"And what of Eric Arras, Ambasssador?"

Delenn took another sip of her tea. "Kozorr's plan was to let him go free, and follow him, take note of his contacts," she replied. "I do not see how that plan has changed--unless, of course, Kozorr has told you otherwise.

"And as for Mr. Garibaldi, it would be quite possible for him to have been informed of the Wind Sword's presence by another Minbari; there is little sympathy for their excesses among our people. Unless Kozorr or Entil'Zha instruct you otherwise, the original plan will still be followed."

Tony bowed in acknowledgement. "As you command, Ambassador," he replied.

Delenn bowed back, placed her cup on the table, and pulled her hood up. "Thank you for informing me so promptly, Mr. Santelli," she said, and left.

Tony glanced around, and then went out to the Zocalo to place a call to the Chief of Security.

Sinclair closed the door of his room firmly, and sat down at the foot of his bed.

Everything was happening much too quickly, and he was starting to have a great deal of trouble absorbing it all. It had been only six months since his life had changed so drastically, and he'd been handling it well until a month ago...

He sighed. It always seemed to come back to the assassination attempt, now. What was it Greenway had said? Something to the effect of his death throwing Earth and Minbar into confusion. True enough--but how had they known?

The Wind Swords might know; that wouldn't surprise him at all, considering that, whether they'd been exiled en masse or not, they were still Minbari; and as such, they probably kept up with what was happening in the mainstream Minbari society.

But how had whatever group Arras and Tara Klein belonged to found out? Had the Wind Swords told them? Possibly; but if it hadn't been the Wind Swords, then who?

Maybe I should ask Garibaldi to do some digging, Sinclair thought, getting up and walking over to the small counter where a teapot rested. He took a mug out of the cupboard below the counter, and poured himself a cup. Taking a small sip, he opened the door again and wandered into the main area of his suite.

His was a suite of two rooms: a bedroom and a main area--much like his quarters on Babylon 5, in fact. Except that he'd never had such a mess of work in his quarters there. Here, the small table in the living area was even more cluttered than the desk in his office.

Sinclair sat down in his chair with a sigh, and reached for a data crystal that was resting in the one clear space on the table. He then leaned back, and just studied it, taking another sip of tea.

Then again, researching a secret agency could get Garibaldi into a hell of a lot more trouble than knowing about that Psi-Corps training center in Syria Planum, he added to himself. And not just with that agency; if Captain Sheridan were to find out, Michael could end up out of a job... if he's lucky. So what can I do?

Well, he could always just let Kozorr and the Rangers deal with it--but he hated not knowing what was going on, and Kozorr seemed to feel a need to keep certain information from him.

Which was yet another problem that had to be dealt with.

Kozorr had been with him since just after the trial; the Chosen One--the Minbari leader--had assigned the Star Rider as Sinclair's guard just before Delenn had left to return to B5.

Over the past six months, Kozorr had become a friend--a close friend--and seemed to return that friendship. The warrior reminded Sinclair of Garibaldi, in a number of ways--the most obvious being a stubborn determination to do his duty, no matter what.

Sinclair chuckled to himself at the thought, but sobered rapidly. Part of the result of that determination was that Kozorr was over-protective of his safety.

What did Delenn tell him? Sinclair wondered to himself. She told him something, I know that... But what?

His thoughts were interrupted by the beeping of his com.

Garibaldi stared at the screen in dismay. It displayed the Babcom logo, but Garibaldi didn't see it; his memory was replaying the conversation--or, rather, the message--that had ended a moment ago.

A Wind Sword on B5?! he thought in disbelief. What the hell is a Wind Sword doing on the station? Is he after Sheridan?

The Ranger's statement had been short and to the point; "There's a Wind Sword warrior on the station," he'd said. "You might want to keep your eyes open." No mention of how the Ranger had known that, of where'd he'd seen the warrior, or of why the warrior might be here.

And whoever EarthCentral is sending about Dr. Jacobs is going to want all my people looking for him... How the hell am I supposed to find a Minbari Wind Sword in the mess that's going to be?

Garibaldi rubbed his forehead, finally looking away from the screen. And what am I supposed to tell Sheridan about this? "Yeah, I got told that there's a Wind Sword on the station... Who? Oh, just one of my informants, Captain..." Ri-ight. The Captain'll want to know all the details, like how the hell this informant can tell the difference between an ordinary Minbari warrior and a Wind Sword. And I can't tell him that. So what am I supposed to do?

He heard the door open and glanced up to see Zack come in. He nodded absently at his aide, and returned to his own thoughts.

Delenn. I can tell her... Let her tell the Captain. Yeah, that would work... although I wouldn't be surprised if she already knows... There are only two other people who could have let Jeff know about the plan to get aid to the Narns, and Sheridan doesn't know ab--

"Chief?" Zack said.

"Huh?" Garibaldi mumbled, blinking as Zack interrupted his train of thought. "What?"

"The Captain wants you. Says the guy from EarthCentral is here."

"Right," Garibaldi said, standing up. He'd talk to Delenn when he got the chance--right now, he had this EarthCentral guy and Dr. Everett Jacobs to worry about.

Tony breathed a sigh of relief as he left the public com. The Chief of Security had been told; now let the Wind Sword try to remain unobserved!

He, meanwhile, had another job to do. Mr. Garibaldi hadn't been told about Eric Arras--that would necessitate telling him about the assassination attempt, and Kozorr had been quite firm in saying that he wasn't to be told--I wonder why? Tony thought--so that meant that Arras was his responsibility.

And he also had to talk to Richard. Tony groaned to himself as he wandered back through the Zocalo. Sometimes I really wonder how Entil'Zha can handle all this stuff! he thought. He's got a hell of a lot more to do than I do--two full-time jobs, at least--and I'm not sure that I can manage this!

Carol Kramer looked up curiously as the door to her office opened, and then stood up hurriedly as her boss entered.

"Hello sir," she said.

Mr. Nevins smiled slightly. "Good morning, Ms. Kramer," he said, nodding in acknowledgement. "I have a special job for you to do."

"Of course, sir," Carol declared, wondering what it was. As an agent for TerraCorp, her duties involved making arrangements with alien corporations. "What is it?"

"Minbar," Mr. Nevins replied.

Carol blinked. Minbar? "I thought that Sean Trevanti was handling that, sir," she said.

"He was," her boss said, sitting down on the chair opposite her desk. "Unfortunately, it seems that he was particularly susceptible to a disease known as rafiniche fever, and the Earth Embassy sent him back, saying that if he was susceptible to that, then he was probably vulnerable to other Minbari viruses that could affect humans."

Carol frowned. "I'm no xenobiologist, sir, but doesn't it seem a bit improbable--"

"That humans are susceptible to Minbari diseases? Yes, it does. However, there are a few other humans who have caught this particular disease, and the Embassy actually has someone there who is studying the matter.

"But all this means that we still haven't got someone on Minbar, and we need to make connections with them. And I've selected you to do that."

"Okay," Carol replied, wondering what Mr. Nevins was talking about. 'Connections'? She really didn't think that the Minbari were interested in Earth tech, which was what TerraCorp exported--so why did they need to make connections?

"Good," Mr. Nevins declared. He took a data crystal out of his pocket and handed it to her. "This contains all the details of your assignment. You'll be going to Minbar via Babylon 5; I've already booked your passage to the station on the Loki. You leave tomorrow morning at ten a.m."

"Yes, sir," Carol replied. She took the data crystal and slipped it into her purse to look at during the trip, reflecting that it was a good thing she was used to Mr. Nevins' style--all she'd have to do to prepare would be to pack a few suits in the case she kept ready.

Chapter 3

~~He was standing in a corridor--one that he recognized. He'd seen it before, in something that was both more and less than a dream.

With him were Garibaldi and a number of security officers, half of them trying to control the crowd running in the opposite direction, half of them with PPG rifles pointed straight at the bulkhead.

"They burned through levels seven and eight! Can't stop 'em! They're everywhere!" Garibaldi was shouting.

"Garibaldi!" he shouted, trying to make Michael see, trying to make him understand...

"Look, I've rigged the fusion reactors, but there's not much time. Get going. I'll hold them as long as I can," Garibaldi called.

"No!" he shouted in reply. I've got to tell him--

"Jeff, it's okay! I finally understand! This is the moment I was born for!" Garibaldi replied. Then he felt a bump against his shoulder, and got swept into the crowd, so that they carried him away...~~

"No, Garibaldi..." Sinclair mumbled, tossing and turning in his sweat-soaked sheets.

~~He stood at the center of a circle formed of spotlights--nine of them. He wore the remains of his uniform, now rags from the torture and interrogation he'd undergone. Whispers came from behind him, but he was tied to a triangular frame hanging from the ceiling, and so he couldn't turn around. He strained to hear them; the words floated just at the edge of comprehension. He'd known them once...

Then there was a rustling noise, and into each spotlight stepped a figure robed and hooded in grey. One of them stepped forward into the center, facing him, close enough for him to touch; and slowly reached up and pulled back the hood that covered her face.

Her calm, impassive, Minbari face studied him, and he saw a silver triangle glowing brightly--Happily? Contentedly? he thought, half-delirious--on her forehead.

"He has a destiny," the Minbari--So familiar... who is she...?--said, and this time he understood the words, although they were still in that other language...~~


~~They stood together, in the shuttle, all of them anxiously watching the place they fled from; himself, Delenn, and the other...

A bright light appeared through the hull of the station, and he felt a terrible pain run through him... a pain so deep, for all those that couldn't get off...

The brightness spread, engulfing the station in flame, and he turned away, unable to watch the destruction of the place he'd called home... of the dream...~~

"No!" Sinclair shouted, waking himself up.

He glanced around, searching desperately for something upon which to anchor himself, to tell him where he was; and focused on the shape of his desk--visible through the open door of his bedroom--piled high with flimsies and data crystals.

Minbar, he thought, taking a deep breath. I'm on Minbar.

He pushed himself up and wiped a shaky hand across his forehead; and wasn't surprised when it came away soaked with sweat.

"Lights," he ordered, also unsurprised that his voice was shaking.

That was the worst one yet, he added to himself, taking comfort in the familiar shapes of his bedroom as the light level rose. What I am surprised at is that I didn't wake up sooner...

Sinclair glanced out the window, and noticed the soft rose and blue of sunrise just appearing on the horizon. Well, I definitely won't be able to get back to sleep; might as well get to work.

Kozorr frowned, worried, as he studied the record of the past night. Entil'zha had spent the entire time tossing and turning; there was no way in which he could have gotten a proper night's sleep from that.

The door slid open and Tesain entered.

"You wanted to see me?" she asked calmly.

"Yes, Tesain, I did," Kozorr replied. "I require your expertise as a Healer."

"Entil'zha," Tesain said.

"Exactly," Kozorr agreed with a nod. "There is something that I wish to consult you about."


"Please, sit down, Tesain," Kozorr said, gesturing toward the chair on the other side of his desk. "This may take some time."

"That sounds very ominous," Tesain declared, taking the seat.

"I don't know, either way--that is why I require your aid," the Star Rider replied. He took a deep breath.

"I have recently been noticing that Entil'zha is favoring his leg somewhat, and whenever the subject of the assassination attempt comes up, he has been rubbing it as though it pains him. I realize that both you and Dr. Saunders feel that it has healed, but I'm wondering if there may have been additional damage that you were unable to detect."

Tesain frowned. "I don't think that you have that much to worry about," she replied slowly. "The burn itself is healed; if Entil'zha is favoring his leg, it is likely because the nerves aren't completely healed yet--they take quite a bit longer to heal than does skin. And as for his behaviour when the attempt is mentioned, that is quitely probably psychosomatic: the thought of the attempt focuses his attention on his leg, and it begins to hurt because of that.

"On the other hand," she added, her frown deepening, "Entil'zha has been more active than I feel is wise--it may be that that factor has aggravated things somewhat. I'll see about talking to him on the subject."

"I wish you the best of luck," Kozorr muttered. "Entil'zha is too stubborn for his own good; yesterday, he informed me that he wants to be kept completely up to date on all aspects of the surveillance of the assassins."

"All?" Tesain repeated curiously.

"All," Kozorr confirmed, nodding. "Including everything to do with the Wind Swords."

"And that will increase his workload, which will lead to even more problems," Tesain finished.

"Exactly." Kozorr leaned back in his chair. "We have to find some way to let him relax for a while; the problem is, I have no idea how to go about doing that."

Tesain thought for a moment.

"Ask Ambassador Delenn," she suggested then.

Kozorr blinked. "Delenn?" he repeated. When Tesain's eyes narrowed, he shook his head. "Oh, I don't object to what she has done... I am not Satai Neroon. No, I was just surprised that the thought occurred to you.

"But it may be the best thing to do," he added, his tone becoming thoughtful. "Delenn and Ambassador Sinclair are quite good friends... perhaps she will know what to do."

"Well, I'll leave that matter in your hands, then," Tesain declared. "Meanwhile," she sighed, "I will see about having a long talk with my patient."

Tony Santelli grumbled angrily to himself as he hurried down the corridor.

He'd hoped that, with security alerted to the presence of a Wind Sword, they'd be keeping an eye out for him. Instead, security was sweeping the station looking for Dr. Jacobs, the physician to the President.

Which left him with three jobs, rather than two, since he was the only ranger available here at the moment.

So what am I going to do about this? he asked himself. I've got to keep an eye on Arras, try to recruit Rich as a contact, and, at the same time, keep an eye on the Wind Sword! And I'm not going to get any help from Station Security with any of it...

As he headed toward the stairs, he absentmindedly noticed Mr. Garibaldi and Captain Sheridan coming down them. He could hear Garibaldi saying something about hating to be on the wrong side of someone; and then he was past them, heading up the stairs toward the Zocalo; he needed to contact Ambassador Delenn to update her on the most recent events. After all, maybe she could convince some of the Minbari on-station to help him keep an eye on the Wind Sword...

"Delenn," Lennier said, as she entered her quarters, "a message came for you from Minbar."

"From whom?" Delenn asked, feeling curious. It was obviously not an official communique, or Lennier would have said that first.

"The Star Rider Kozorr," Lennier replied, handing her a data crystal. "I believe it concerns Ambassador Sinclair."

"Thank you, Lennier," Delenn replied, taking the crystal and looking at it. "Is there anything else?"

"No, Ambassador," her aide replied. "Except that Captain Sheridan has cancelled tomorrow's Council meeting--there appears to be something unusual going on. Security is searching the entire station for someone."

Delenn frowned. Mr. Garibaldi would not be so obvious in a matter involving the Rangers--she knew him well enough to know that. It had to be something else--and that something might end up interfering in the search for the Wind Sword. "Very well," she said slowly. "See if you can discover who it is they are looking for, please, Lennier."

Lennier bowed. "I will do my best," he replied, and left.

Delenn strode over to the crystal port, placed the data crystal within, and said, "Play."

Sinclair had been working steadily for the past hour and a half, trying to clear away at least some of the things awaiting his attention. Or, at least, that's what he was telling himself. He was aware, however, that what he was really trying to do was avoid thinking about the dreams. All three were, however, so vivid in his memory that he was finding it difficult.

This isn't going to work, he thought finally, pushing away a report of the latest moves in the Narn/Centauri War. I'll never be able to concentrate on these reports until I figure the dreams out.

He pushed himself up and started toward the kitchen area to get himself a cup of tea. He took a teapot out of the cupboard and put some tea leaves--Naresh, Delenn's favorite blend--into it. He poured boiling water into the pot, and sat down next to the counter.

"Okay," he muttered aloud, "let's see if I can organize this..."

Well, the first dream, the one with Garibaldi, was a repeat of the flash-forward on B4--or most of it, anyway; the action was just compressed a little. Easy to figure why I'd be dreaming that... Sinclair sighed as he poured the tea into a cup and took a sip. The events of that flash-forward were not pleasant to think about, especially considering what he assumed would happen after he was shoved away from Garibaldi... if the event actually occured, that was.

"Then, the second one..." Sinclair shook his head. That one, he didn't want to think about... at least, not yet; it was the most disturbing of the three. Particularly the implications of what had happened... He sighed again, and put the cup down on the counter.

The Grey Council and the Battle of the Line--there's still something that's missing, something that I don't know or don't yet remember... but I doubt that I could convince Delenn to tell me what it is...

The third one was almost as distressing.

He recognized the image he'd seen--the destruction of the station--it was the one that Lady Ladira, the Centauri seeress, had showed him last year.

At that thought, Sinclair frowned abruptly. "I recognize all of the scenes," he said slowly, under his breath. "Which means..." What? he demanded silently of himself. That they're just the result of delirium caused by the poison? For some reason, I just don't think that's it...

He was just about to take another sip of his tea when he heard his door-chime ring. "Come in!" he called.

The door opened, and Tesain, the Minbari Healer assigned to the Earth Embassy, strode in. "Entil'zha," she said, bowing.

Sinclair stood up and bowed back to her, and then motioned for her to come over to the counter. "Would you care for a cup of tea?" he inquired. "It's Naresh..."

Tesain smiled. "That would be pleasant, Entil'zha," she replied, and Sinclair took out another cup for her.

"So, what is it that you want to discuss that couldn't wait until lunch?" he asked, handing the cup to the Healer.

Tesain blinked, surprised--as Kozorr had been--by Sinclair's perceptiveness. "What has made you think that I wish to discuss something?" she asked.

Sinclair's mouth twitched in a slight grin. "Unlike Kozorr, Tesain, you're fairly easy to read," he answered, raising his cup to his lips and sipping. "And you wouldn't have come to see me at this hour," he glanced at the display on his desk, "unless there's something that you want to discuss with me.

"So, what is it that you feel the need to discuss right now?" he added.

Tesain sat down on the stool next to his and took a sip of her own tea. "Quite good," she said, nodding slightly at her cup. "Much better than what is available at certain Earth restaurants that claim to serve Minbari food."

"Thank you," Sinclair replied, and gave her a pointed look.

"Yes, the reason I came... Kozorr would like me to look at your leg, Entil'zha, to make certain that it is healing properly."

Sinclair blinked in utter surprise. "I was under the impression that it was healed--or, at least, mostly healed..." he pointed out. One hand began--unconsciously--to rub the spot on his leg where the PPG blast had hit.

"Nonetheless, Kozorr is concerned," Tesain declared. "He informed me that you have recently been favoring your leg, and that you have developed a tendency to rub it when certain subjects come up in conversation. Like now," she added, glancing toward Sinclair's leg.

Sinclair followed her gaze and frowned as he noticed that she was right. He was rubbing it. Have I...?

"I didn't realize..." he said slowly.

Tesain shrugged. "Are you feeling any pain when you do that?" she inquired. "Even just twinges?"

Sinclair paused for a moment, thinking, and then decided that it would probably be better to be honest with her. "Yes, I occasionally get twinges," he replied. "I doubt it's anything to worry about, however. Serious burns--like you get from a PPG blast--can cause nerve damage that lasts for longer than it takes for the actual burn to heal; that's probably all it is this time."

"Probably," Tesain answered. "However, I would like to take another look at it--and I want to make certain that you are fully recovered from the viraech."

For a moment, Sinclair debated telling her about the dreams, but something told him that he shouldn't mention the dreams to anyone, not even Tesain or Kozorr. He wasn't entirely sure why, but it seemed to be best. So I won't mention the dreams--and I just hope that the viraech itself is completely out of my system.

Not that it shouldn't be; it has been a month, after all--

"Entil'zha?" Tesain prodded.

Sinclair shook his head. "Sorry, Tesain," he apologized. "Umm--maybe if I stop by the med area after lunch?"

"Very well," the Minbari said, though Sinclair heard reluctance in her voice. "As soon as lunch is over, Entil'zha," she added, standing up. "I expect to see you there on time; and don't skip lunch to make sure of it."

Sinclair's mouth tightened, but he said nothing. Instead, he managed to smile, and walked over to the door with her, noticing her sideways glance at the mess on his desk. "I'll see you right after lunch, then," he said, as she exited.

Tesain nodded, and Sinclair turned back to his desk as the door closed behind her. Now that he'd gotten the dreams sorted out--or at least as much as he was likely to be able to--he might just be able to get some work done.

Always so much to do...

To be continued...

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Last modified October 31st, 1998.