Things were going smoothly, nothing of dire importance.
Dr. Franklin hadn't lost anyone yet. Not to death anyway.
Dylan was an aid in Med-Lab. There were people newer at the job then him, there were people older at the job then him. He was a tad on the morbid side. He liked to check the bodies in cryo. He was never asked to, he just did. Just the sort of creepy thing that was to his liking.
And so Dylan was being creepy and checking the bodies in cryo. It was a good thing too. Today, something was wrong.
He immediately found Dr. Franklin. "Dr. Franklin, we have a problem," he said.
"What is it?" Franklin asked back.
"In the cryogenics lab, there's a body missing."
Huh. Yeah, right.
Z'Ha'Dum is not a likely place to casually say, "I'm taking a walk." But it's the truth, and I seldom lie. I just like to play with words. There's a line between that and lying. Granted, it's a fine one, but it's there none the less.
You should see the rebuilt city, the one Sheridan destroyed. Don't think it was the capital. No outsider has ever seen the capital. Not their brain-washed little monkeys, and not me. Especially me. We're not even allowed to speak its name. Among the Vorlons it's fabled. Not even Sheridan was special enough to see it. The Shadows are smart, you see, too smart to let the Minbari beat them. Too smart to let the Vorlons beat them. And too smart to let some petty human beat them. Not even those two great Achilles, Sheridan and Sinclair, er . . . rather . . . Valen.
Oy, I promise I'll learn to keep on track. I always let my mind wander. Where was I? Ah, yes, the rebuilt city.
It's much nicer than the old one. Not as much glass, they learn from their mistakes. They did use some old Minbari crystal from past conquests. It's much more durable. The crystal shining against the black is very stark. Like an Edvard Munch painting. Absolutely beautiful.
Shadow cities are laid out in the same basic plan as Spanish cities. The church and municipal building are in the middle and everything else is built from there. The cities are not laid out like a grid. It's more like Kyiv, where the streets sprawl everywhere with no real pattern. Except there's a method in the madness of these cities, as opposed to Kyiv, where there isn't. And here, there aren't a bunch of crazy European drivers.
So, I'm taking a walk, passing pleasantries with the arachnid type creatures I pass by on the street. Probably to your surprise, the Shadows are very polite. Hospitable enough when they enter the human sector. And not half as snotty as the Vorlons. The Vorlons are better than you, they know it, and you know it, and you're just not worth their time for it. However, one thing can be said for both Shadow country and Vorlon country, they are both terribly expensive for a human living there. Exchange rates suck.
Then there's me. A simple half Ukrainian, half Irish go between. I'm a little Vorlon, I'm a little Shadow, and I, too, am terribly expensive.
Oh dear. I should explain, otherwise that last statement could be construed wrong. Let me introduce myself first. My father's name is Volodimir (Not Vladimir – he's Ukrainian, not Russian) Mysnick. He was (he's retired now) a Government worker of some sort, I never knew anything specific. He was sent to the British Consortium, Killarney, Ireland, to be exact. There he met Margaret O'Higgins. They fell in love, got married, and moved to Lviv, my father's hometown. A year later, my older sister, Solomiya, was born. They had me ten years later. My name is Marichka. I was born in Ukraine Consortium.
"Ukraine Consortium?" you're thinking.
It was a political thing. We didn't want to be affiliated with Russia as we had been for 700 years before. We refused to be grouped with Russia. The only countries contained in the Russian Consortium are Russia, Siberia and Estonia. Ukraine Consortium contains Ukraine (just in case you didn't pick that up), Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Byelorussia, Moldova, Crimea and Georgia. There's a piece of Earth history and politics for you non-natives out there.
Tati (my father) kept working for the Government. Mati (my mother) opened a pub. She called it the Kretchma, after an old song about a bordello. It was all decent, honest. I just keep doing that, don't I? Anyway, she liked the song so much, she named her pub after it. That's it.
Nothing really happened in the 20 years that followed. My sister got married and had a daughter, Tamar. But her husband beat her. And when Tamar was three, he beat her to death. I took Tamar and I ran. The great thing about space is that there are more places to hide.
That isn't the only reason I left. I'm a telepath. Not only that, I'm a telekinetic, and I'm not clinically insane. My father did his best to hide it, but when I was 23, he couldn't anymore. I found the Psi-Corp creepy enough on the outside, I didn't want to see it from the inside.
After we left, my parents went goofy. My mother, only 53, and my father, 58, became senile.
What could I be expected to do? Sell my soul to the devil (excuse me, join Psi-Corp) and let my sister's widower beat on Tamar and train her for her future husband?
I took the initiative, and our fates into my own hands.
And I saved us both.
We hung out on Mars for awhile. I learned Narn fluently. We went to Narn Homeworld and learned a language that no human wanted to know, Minbari. Two years later, with the Earth/Minbari war over some five years, we did probably the worst thing a human could have, and we went to Minbar. Tamar was five at the time, but she really loved it there. She still does. Minbari is the only other language she speaks.
I learned Centauri, and we went to Centauri Prime. It was there I was approached by a man. A human man who likes to wear brown, named Mr. Morden.
He's not completely dead. He's mostly dead, if you've read The Princess Bride. If you sell your soul, it won't get released, it gets turned over to your creditors. They use his voice to speak to humans. They use him for other things, the generic dream plane we go to in a forced sleep, the plane Psi-Corp treads on when they do anything with their minds. That's where I envy him. He gets to screw with Psi-Corp. And they use him to baby-sit me. He's a voice in my head. But only one among many. By the way, he says hi.
He told me what I am.
What am I?
I'm a level 15 telepath. I am a level 15 telekinetic (which means I can pick up Babylon 5 and plunk it down neatly on the other side of Epsilon 3 without you even knowing I moved it. Pretty impressive, huh? Blew my mind). And I was an experiment. I was genetically engineered from stolen Vorlon technology. Freaky, huh? Wait, it gets better. You'll never guess who stole and used the technology. The Shadows. I'm a Shadow monkey, just not a brain-washed one. They don't send Shadows with me everywhere, like they did with Morden, they put a chip in my brain that keeps me in line. If I do something the Shadows don't like, and they decide to yank on the leash, I could get anything from a mild irritation to something that would kill any normal person. If anyone ever tries to take the chip out, I'm done for.
The Vorlons wasted no time in snatching me up. They said they were going to give me a little bit of relief. I wish. They turned the chip into a two way microphone. They can hear what the Shadows say, and the Shadows can hear what the Vorlons say. Sometimes, at night, I lay there, trying to sleep, and I imagine myself lying in a grove of trees, and I can hear the birds chirping overhead. But soon, the Arabic men come and stand over me and mumble. I don't sleep much.
How could I do all this hopping around? Well, I'm loaded. Oh, I forgot to mention that, the whole expensive thing. I'm an assassin. When I do a job for a Government, I ask for diplomatic immunity, not to mention the usual huge fee. In other words, I'll never be nailed for a thing as long as I live. Pretty sweet deal. My best work to date was the assassination (yes it was an assassination, murder is such an ugly word) of the Centauri, Lord Refa. That was beautiful. I'm not allowed much creativity in my line of work, but the circumstances lent themselves to me at just the right time. Don't believe I did it? Well, you don't have to. That's the point.
I'm always working for both the Shadows and the Vorlons, but I get farther saying I work for the Vorlons. Yes, they went beyond the rim. But did you think they'd just disappear without a trace? Have you ever been beyond the rim? It's very boring. There's nothing to do. And when you live out in the boonies, you have to come to town for a little action sooner or later.
My wandering mind comes back to the plane of reality when I hear the high pitched chirping in my head. "We have what you want," it says.
I turn and go back to the medical building. My home on Z'Ha'Dum is near it, and for the past few days, I haven't strayed far.
There's one thing I'll tell you about Z'Ha'Dum. It is a place of rebirth. All life was born from chaos. All life is reborn from chaos. Sheridan was reborn here. Just as they had to bring what I wanted from Babylon 5 for another life.
I pull back the sheet from his face. I was surprised he was among my choices. At first sight of him, the Arab men mumble "destiny." I'm glad. Glad he was among my choices. Glad of his destiny. I heard all of Susan's stories, and I saw him. Even in death, such an intensity. I fell for him.
Yes. They have what I want.
"Do it," comes my chirp. Then I turn and walk out. I don't want to watch the process. He's still a dead body. I hear them as I exit the room.
"He's had the life essence sucked out of him. Do we have the instruments?"
"Yes. I've sent others to prepare the room."
"Good. What's his name?"
on with the next exciting chapter!