MOVING THROUGH MIRRORS (VII)
"How many hours?"
"Three at the most, Satai." Droshal paced a small path behind Delenn, never realizing that his movements were annoying to her. He simply placed his hands behind his back, and paced. "I fear we may not have the White Star operational in time."
Delenn swiveled in her chair, eyeing the various monitors that reported back to her on the White Star repairs. "It does not have to be fully operational, just able to defend itself."
"Against the Warrior caste?" Droshal stopped his pacing, a tired look on his usually placid face. Delenn wondered when he had last slept. "Against Neroon?" he clarified. "No, Satai, we cannot hope to have it to that point in three hours."
"Then the Al-shii will defend her."
Droshal barely suppressed a sigh. Only barely, and not enough to escape Delenn's notice.
"Do you have something to say, Droshal?"
"Yes, Satai." He hesitated, then said, "May I speak to you freely, Satai? As one who has served you loyally for many years?"
"Why is this ship so important to you? Certainly the technical advantage we could gain is not worth risking your life for?"
Delenn said nothing.
Droshal lowered his eyes, taking in a long, deep breath. "The rivalry between you and the Shai Alyt has been well-known for many cycles, Satai." He ignored her warning look. "I understand. The Starriders have ignored our traditions, laughed at the ancient ways, made a mockery of our beliefs. It would be wrong...no, tragic for this technology to fall into their hands. But how many lives will be lost for technology, Satai? How many of our clan will sacrifice themselves for a ship? And if we fall, here, to Neroon, do you truly believe there will not be retribution back home?" He paused, noting the paleness on Delenn's face. For the first time in all his years of service, Droshal lowered himself to his knees, bringing himself face to face with her. He looked her in the eyes.
"Satai Delenn, there is another way to keep this ship from Neroon. We could destroy it; say we only found wreckage...which would not be a complete lie. No lives need be lost."
"No." It was a small answer, but firm.
Delenn looked down, unable to meet his eyes. "No," she repeated. "We will defend the ship."
"At the cost of how many lives?"
Delenn could not answer his question. Without another word, Droshal left her alone.
"You asked to see me, Delenn?" Lennier paused in the doorway, concerned. Delenn sat before a row of monitors, all following the intense repair work being done on the damaged White Star.
He found a chair near her, not comfortable or particularly well-placed, but a chair nonetheless. His mind had finally stopped reeling, and he felt a little more steady than the last time he'd visited her. He appraised her carefully, almost smiling at her frustration. She had a certain flair, even when angry.
"Can you have this ship fully operational in three hours?" she said.
"No. But you need not worry. All will turn out for the best." Lennier placed his hands on his lap. He did not mean to diminish her concern. It was just that, somewhere deep inside, he knew it was true.
Delenn seemed to laugh quietly to herself. "Have you ever heard of the Starriders, Lennier? Do they exist in that other world you called home?"
"Yes, Satai. The Starriders are a strong, but young clan. They served honorably in the Earth-Minbari war."
"Well, a Starrider ship is on its way here from the next jumpgate at Beta Prime. It will arrive in three hours. At that time, Shai Neroon will attempt to...unburden us of the White Star."
Lennier took a deep breath. "I take it this is not an acceptable solution."
She smiled, darkly. "No. I believe I would prefer if Neroon did not gain access to the White Star, operational or not. That may require us to defend the ship, which would be far more reasonable if the White Star were fully functioning."
The young man pondered her words for a moment, choosing his words with care. "Would it come to actual fighting?"
"For a ship like that? Yes, Neroon would fight us, and kill us, to gain that type of technological advantage."
Neroon. Lennier closed his eyes for a moment, as a thought whispered in his mind.
"Are you alright?" she asked.
"Yes, Satai. I have...moments of disorientation." Another thought sang through his mind. "Delenn," Lennier said softly. "I am going to ask you a question which has come to have great meaning to me. I want you to consider your words very carefully before answering."
She looked up, surprised at his candor, but too tired to take offense. "Ask your questions, Lennier. We may not have time for them later."
He studied her face carefully, as if trying to read into her soul. "Delenn, what do you want?"
Her face twisted slightly in confusion. "What?"
"A simple question. What do you want? Please think before answering; it may be the most important answer you ever give. What...do you want?"
Delenn hesitated, not quite sure what to say. A moment earlier, she would have told him she wanted the White Star operational, she wanted it defendable and she wanted to be as far away from the collapsed jump gate as she could possibly be when Neroon arrived.
But those words could not come out of her mouth. She sat quietly for a moment. What did she want?
"I want it to end," she said softly. "The fighting, the rivalry, the constant bickering between clans. I want to live in a world where we are not always jockying for position, where who you are is more important that who your family is--"
"Who are you?" Lennier asked. The song was practically filling his entire body, bouying him beyond anything he'd ever known.
"Who am I?" She laughed bitterly. "I am Delenn. A student who wanted nothing more than to learn. I am the only person standing between Neroon and the power he so desparately wants to take. I am Satai, responsible for the lives of my clansmen who trust in me completely."
"You could destroy the White Star."
She eyed him suspiciously. "You have been talking to Droshal?"
"No. But the thought had crossed my mind. By destroying the White Star, you would prevent Neroon from gaining the technical advantage he wants."
"I cannot destroy the ship." Her voice was scarcely above a whisper. "It is the most logical thing to do, but...I can't."
"You will think me mad. The ship...the White Star...is alive. I have heard it in my thoughts ever since we found it. When I was aboard it, I felt...connected. It..it sang to me. To destroy it would be like killing an innocent being. I cannot do that."
"Not even to protect your clan? Not even to stop Neroon?"
"No," she whispered. "I will fight and die to stop him, but I will not destroy that ship."
The music overwhelmed him. Lennier nodded, placing his hand over Delenn's heart. "You will not have to," he murmured in a voice as ancient as the stars.
Delenn gasped as his hand touched her. A spark of energy seemed to shoot through her, blue-white and profound. "What...are you?"
"I am Lennier. I have not lied to you, Delenn."
The energy creeped slowly through her, spiraling outward from her heart to encompass her entire being. The light connected them, joined them in a way she had never believed possible. She saw Lennier before her, an old man, bent with age, but alert and composed. She saw herself, the other Delenn, hair white and peaceful in death. A young man stood by, tall, handsome, grieving.
"David..." she gasped.
"David. Your son."
"I do not understand."
"Each moment holds infinite possibility. Walk through one door, and you fall. Walk through another, and you fly." He reached up to stroke her cheek, never breaking the contact. "I opened a door. With help."
"How? What sort of--"
"Have you ever touched a Vorlon, Delenn?"
"A Vorlon?" Her confusion was tangible, a plaintive voice and expression. "The Vorlons passed beyond the rim a thousand years ago, with all the Ancients."
"In one reality. In your reality. But in my reality, the Vorlons did not pass beyond the rim a thousand years ago. They stayed to guide us, to teach us. They gave us that ship." He smiled. "The ship was not singing to you, Delenn. It was Kosh, the piece of Kosh that lives within me, who lived within your husband, and your son."
"We are all Kosh."
"But I have no husband. I have no son. This is madness."
"Here, now, that is true. As I said, each moment holds infinite possibilities. Each door leads to a different path. One thousand years ago, the Vorlons sent a prophet to our people. His name was Valen. In my world, he led us to a thousand years of peace and eventual victory over the Shadows. In your world..."
"He was killed by the Warrior caste members who found him and the vessel he offered. An alien station, appearing out of nowhere. It was suspect, in time of war."
"With Valen's death," Lennier continued, "There would be no Grey Council. No joining of the clans, no Rangers to lead in the struggle. The War of the Ancients lasted much longer, leading to a stalemate which caused them to finally retreat beyond the rim."
"How do you know this?"
"Kosh knows." He nodded. "When Delenn joined Sheridan in the place where no shadows fall, Kosh knew it was time to join the others of his kind. He could not make the journey alone, so he asked me to take him. A Vorlon can...detach pieces of itself to live inside other beings. Kosh has lived many cycles this way, guiding and protecting us."
"But there are no Ancients here."
"But *you* are here. You are an answer to my final request."
She breathed deeply. "What request?"
"To serve you once more before I go to the Sea of Stars."
Lennier pulled back his hand, breaking the physical contact between them. But Delenn could still feel the blue-white energy coursing through her. "What do you want, Delenn?" he repeated softly.
"Then that is how I will serve you. The White Star will be fully operational in three hours. But you will not use it to defend against Neroon." He stood, his hands folded neatly at his abdomen. "You will give it to him."
"What? How will *that* insure peace?"
He placed a small data crystal in her palm. "The Teachings of Valen. I have highlighted the critical parts for your study. By the time Neroon's ship arrives, you will understand."
And he left her, standing, dumb-founded, and still holding a piece
of Kosh inside her mind.
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