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A Redux preview thread


When Redux goes up in its spiffy new format, it won't be QUITE the same. Sure, it'll be the exact same story -- that's the point -- but I've done some minor edits now that I have 20-20 hindsight vision. It will hopefully flow better from point to point, have better transitions, a more balanced viewpoint, etc.

To get a taste of what I mean, please read the first few entries I made, and then read the following. Let me know if you like it, or if you think I'm adulterating perfection. (Umm, yeah, that's just my delusions-of-grandeur thing kicking in...)

Spiffy. That's the word. 'Twill will be spiffy.


APR.12.2267 | 8 a.m.

In his younger years, Sindell could have hardly fathomed this thing that was unfolding before him. Nor could he have imagined so many races gathered together in one place -- the Minbari, the humans, the Narns, the dozens of others pouring into the great Council Chamber of the Interstellar Alliance.

But that man was dead.

Sindell-that-is had to remind himself often that the hopes of a young man never went hand-in-hand with reality. His allegiance had changed -- long ago, he pledged himself to Lenonn, his mentor, master, and brother-in-arms. Now, he served the Entil'zha, Delenn, and the human John Sheridan. It was his duty as Anla'shok.

But that didn't mean he had to like it.

Sindell-that-was would have never understood the need for the Interstellar Alliance. That man remained trapped within the gunnery pod of his old patrol ship, addicted to the dizzying expanse around him and bonded to his long-dead crewmates, drinking in the silence that inthe old days used to be a Ranger's constant companion. Sindell-that-was had been a warrior, a listener, a guard against an ancient enemy too powerful to understand. Sindell-that-was had been Anla'shok.

Sindell-that-is was just a ghost, a shell, created by the victory at Coriana, where the Anla'shok held the bridge at the cost of thousands of lives, the lives of his brothers, his Rangers, his Anla'shok.

He adjusted his own robes as he waited, high above the Council floor, in the space reserved for observers. Waited for Rathenn to come. Waited for Entil'zha to come and take her place at the head of today's discussions. Waited for the afternoon reports to come in.

And that was the only thing Sindell the dead man and Sindell the living ghost had in common -- they waited for the ancient enemy. They waited to be reborn.

Sindell had, in fact, arrived obscenely early to the summit, which seemed to disturb no one but the seemingly imperturbable Rathenn, who had been hunched over deployment plans in the security aerie for  most of the morning. Rathenn -- whose task it was to remember this kind of thing -- found that he could not recall a single time when Sindell had been this early, or this eager, to attend an event that would inevitably end in the Centauri complaining, the Narns whining, the Earth Alliance throwing up their hands in denial, and the Drazi calling for some sort of military involvement.

It intrigued Rathenn.

For being the spokesperson of an organization as devoted to progress as the Anla'shok appeared to be, Rathenn knew that the Councillor was often stubbornly and immovably traditional -- in fact, he had mentioned to Rathenn once that the day he went into a Council session, even as an observer, without undergoing the proper rituals at the door was the day he could no longer call himself Minbari.

Rathenn peered at the display in the corner, which clearly showed Sindell, dressed in the grey-green robe of the Ranger Council, entering the chamber without a single lit candle, bow, or soft mantra.

Anyone else on Entil'zha's staff would have let it slide. But for Rathenn, it was enough.

He tossed the keys to his deputies and followed Sindell across the east courtyard, questions on his lips. Rathenn prided himself in having the answers.

The loud clangor that emanaged from the nearest training room belonged not to a bargain-bin soundtrack from a bad Narn tragicomedy, as Rathenn likened it to as he passed, but to two whirling blurs in beige, having at one another with extraordinary skill, resolving into human figures only when they were of the inclination to hurl insults at one another. A minute later, the woman was disabled by her opponent's nasty stave-thrust to the back of her knee. Her legs buckled, and she fell to the ground breathless, wincing, and sporting a mild bruise that would most likely become a black eye within the next few hours.

"You're out of practice, Sarah," warned David Martel. He paused and stepped back as Sarah got to her feet. She stood with an involuntary groan, straightening to meet his wry grin with a self-assured smile of her own.

"It didn't take you that long to beat me last time," she said. She walked to the side of the mat, tossed Martel a towel, and picked up a bottle of water. "Who's out of practice, here?"

Martel wiped his face. "You know, you ought to see Firell about that bruise."

"After I beat you," she said.

He laughed. "Get in line."

She tossed the towel aside, picked up the practice stave, and slung it over her shoulder. "I'll budge."

Martel stopped, took a long draught of water, and snatched up his stave from its resting position on the wall. "Well, in that case, I can't say no."

Five minutes later, Sarah once again collided rather painfully with the floor, her ribcage making a sickening thud as it came in contact with the practice mat. Before she could move, Martel's stave was pressed against her back. "You win, you win, I owe you dinner," she said, pushing herself up on tired elbows.

"You'll win next time," he said. Martel walked over to the coatrack and slipped on a jacket. He pressed a button and the stave collapsed; he slipped it into his pocket. "I'm heading back to the ship. Care to join me?"

Sarah shook her head. "I'm going to finish up in the gym. I have a few more free hours before duty."

Martel nodded back. "Right. Just be back by the morning briefing."

"Yes, sir," she replied.

She watched him go before collapsing her own stave and stashing it in her nearby gym bag. "Lost again," she muttered. But then -- she thought -- everyone loses to David Martel, don't they?


As much as he hadn't wanted to admit it, Kitaro was very glad of the peace and quiet afforded him by Na'feel's absence that morning. In the Liandra's cramped hallways, he ran -- sometimes literally -- into the Narn engineer at least five times a day, as she made her way to the quartermaster's, or the engine room, or the bridge, or back from the quartermaster's laden with engine coils.

It was at times like that, pinned up against the wall as a constantly fuming Narn raced down the cooridor laden with tools Kitaro had never seen before, that the navigator swore he would never in his life understand the Narn penchant for adding acidic vitriol to everything they did.

Daily dealings with an angry Narn aside, Kitaro walked the deck of the Liandra as if it were a dream come true, with eggshells for deckplates and ether for walls, threatening to break or dissappear at any time. He had not distinguished himself in training, flying in a civilian patrol during the Civil War, or in a non-combatant wing of Nials during the Centauri conflict. He had been about to space himself from boredom, convinced that no human captain wanted him because of that little matter concerning Nightwatch, when Martel called with the offer to pilot the Liandra.

Kitaro, who recieved the news while attempting a three-hundred-degree fate twist in a Meridian ion storm (in the simulator, although he made it a habit of not mentioning that little detail to women), took about three seconds to say "yes." He was even able to say it through the overwhelming disbelief that a Shadow War veteran would actually consider him a suitable pilot for an attack ship.
The Liandra wasn't exactly as advanced or as beautiful as a Whitestar, but it moved as gracefully as any Minbari vessel, banked and turned as easily as a fighter, and used an intuitive series of hand movements to control speed and vector. The Liandra also had the worst repair record of any Ranger vessel when it came to breaking down and falling apart, which meant that he had to listen to Na'feel curse, swear, and be otherwise unpleasant while she was busy in the bridge fixing routers.

But, in the end, Kitaro was damned happy to be there.
Although he knew that discipline often grew a little lax among some members of the Anla'shok while their ship was in drydock, he had never even seen anything like the scene before him. David Martel, (slightly) respected captain and ultimate authority on the ship Kitaro had grown to like, was licking flarn flecks from his fingers. He had placed a bucket of flarn on Dulann's seat, and was giving orders to a tech with his mouth full of the Minbari staple. When the captain saw Kitaro, he flagged him down.

"I gave you some extra things to do, Kit, so check your box, thanks," the captain said, attempting to swallow at the same time. "Flarn?"

Kitaro glanced at the basket. "Um, no thanks, sir, I ate."
"Right," Martel said. He reached out, plucked a flarn cube from the basket, and chewed on it again. As Kit sat down, the commplate lit up.

"Captain, I have Council Office on the line," he said.
At that moment, Dulann appeared through the bridge door. The Minbari first officer stopped behind his seat, picked up the basket of flarn and placed it on the floor nearby, as unruffled as ever. Nearby, Martel sighed, fixed his collar and gave the signal for Kitaro to patch the office through.

The viewer sprang to life in the guise of the ever-sour Mural, executive aide to Councillor Sindell, and in Kitaro's estimation, a gaping, festering, bleeding, maggot-infested sore on the nose of the Anla'shok establishment.
"Good afternoon, Captain," Mural sneered, his voice wedged into the constant unpleasant timbre that Kitaro had grown so accustomed to. "I know you're due to depart within the week and you probably have a lot of things to accomplish, but we need you to make some time for a larger matter. The Senate has demanded additional deposition from the crewmembers who were directly involved with the destruction of the Valen and of the colony on Beta Durani 7 -- or, more in particular, those members of the crew who were also under the command of David Martel during the Enfalli affair."

Martel leaned forward. Tiredly, he regarded the councillor's aide. "With all due respect, my crew has already been debriefed on the mission. Last month. Two months ago."

Mural's eyes narrowed. "I don't think I have to tell you the importance of this matter," he insisted. "If Congress believes you are holding back testimony in these matters, I can't assure that the Rangers will be able to protect you."

Bastard, thought Kitaro.

"Who, and when?" Martel said.

"You, Sarah Cantrell, Malcolm Bridges, and Dulann of Chu'domo," he said. "The Executive Building, directly after night session. Thank you."

Mural dissappeared -- he had cut the transmission from his side, apparently -- and Martel leaned back in his chair, opening one eye to regard Dulann. "Dulann, would you please go find Na'feel and explain to her in no uncertain terms that we need that part three hours earlier? And pass me the flarn?"


Na'feel sometimes hated Minbar with a passion she usually reserved for broken jump engines.

Na'feel's first view of Minbar was helped along by feeding her last five credits into a payviewer in the bowels of an ancient, sputtering Brakiri refugee freighter. She remembered it, hanging in space like a marble of hope, surrounded by the predatory lines of a thousand Sharlins and Whitestars, untouched by the strife that had lain her homeworld to waste. Minbar was Na'feel's last hope of amnesty -- her last hope for a future where she could do something, where she could bring her years of experience fixing engines at the biggest spaceport on Narn to good use -- instead of continue on with the bloody, terrible work of the Resistance.

So Na'feel arrived in Tuzanor, carrying the clothes on her back, fifteen credits, a hastily-scrawled piece of paper with the name of a contact at the Anla'shok training facility, absolutely no knowledge of Adronato, and a worn copy of the book of G'Kar.

She hated the whiteness. She hated the blueness. She hated the soft pastel inland seas and the soaring mountains with their snows and the ice columns that stabbed at the sky. She hated the way the brilliant Minbari sun reflected on the city's crystalline towers, sending her into fits of near-blindness, and she hated the silent streets of Tuzanor and their artificial, planned, triangular setup. And, most of all, she hated being the only amphibian. More than once a day, she swore up and down that she'd never understand aliens.

G'Kar had taught her tolerance through his words, but sometimes she just wanted to bring a torch to that irritating, omnipresent Minbari haughtiness and beat it down until it whimpered.

That morning, Na'feel was busy. She had just finished explaining to the young Minbari clerk at the tarmac quartermaster's that she had just nearly been run over by three worker-caste janitors on a cargo loader, and that she had been sitting her waiting for an injection spanner for over a half-hour, and that if she had wanted to wait she would have sent one of her techs, thank you very much.
She wasn't usually the type to throw up her hands and retreat from the battle, and she did get some perverse pleasure from saying that she'd sent the Thenta Makur after the young supply clerk once she got the chance, but the conversation was getting ridiculous. She informed the attendant to forward the part on via courier and stepped outside to take her chances with the rapidly-moving cargo loaders on the airfield.

Drowning out the deathly silence of the Minbari afternoon was the clamor she loved: engines firing, tools clattering on the deck, somebody swearing.

"I thought I would find you inside," said an evenly-toned, distinctly Minbari voice. Startled, she turned around to see Dulann, his arms neatly folded across his chest.

Na'feel snorted. "All the hot air in there was giving me a headache," she replied, not expecting him to get the reference.

"You're impatient, Na'feel," Dulann said, smiling thinly.

She regarded the Minbari, noting yet another case of trademark Minbari arrogance. It was a pity, really, she thought -- Dulann was one of the few Minbari she could actually stand. "So's the captain," she said.

Dulann raised his eyebrows. "Oh?"

"He sent you," she pointed out.

"Mmm, he did," Dulann replied. "He wants the injector fixed three hours from now. Do you have the part you need?"

Na'feel jabbed her thumb over her shoulder towards the requisitionary. "Ask Miss Molasses in there," she answered.

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