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Rangers Redux (fiction)

Hey guys. There will be no update to "Redux" today, and that includes responding to the most recent posts. I'm swamped with work for the upcoming ABYSS interviews and the newsletter (which you should all go join, right now!) Hold your horses. I *am* getting to the arc, really I am...
Hallo. Ok. Getting back on the road, but with new tires.

Please re-read the entries for 6/21/02 12:29 PM (bottom, on Liandra bridge, character change) and 6/28/02 8:22 AM (very bottom, action change). There are significant differences. If you don't read them, you will shortly wonder where the continuity went. Do yourself a favor and skip back up for a review. Thanks a lot!

Re: Centauri Ranger. I'm sorry - I forgot about the Pak'ma'ra Ranger and the conversations from "Learning Curve." I was doing some serious thinking about the possibility of a Centauri Ranger, and it just might work into the story a little bit down the line.

Thanks for the compliment, RW. I'm glad you're enjoying this - because I sure am.
If you've already read this, read it again. I hated the dialogue, so some of it got changed.

-- -- --

"Sit with me, Malcolm," the impassive Minbari responded, indicating an empty space next to her. She turned back to the Triary. "Sit with me for a moment."

"The bridge, Firell. The mission briefing." He edged away from the door, resting his hand on the wall to steady himself. He felt dizzy, for some reason. Frantic.
Swallow it. Swallow it. Now.

Firell hardly moved, save to bring her eyes back to the Triary. It glinted silver and white in the candlelight, tracing lines on his retinas to push further towards the place where he stored the dead memories. When was the first time he had seen it? Yes - on Beta Colony - among the flames, the sulfur in his nose, the smoke coiling in his lungs. A medic. Fast, quick Adronato and flashes of silver among the explosions.

And the screams. The unholy battlecries of an enemy too dark to comprehend.

The mental shriek came unbidden.Swallow it!

Uncomfortable in the face of the calm, straight-backed Firell, Malcolm pushed himself up against the doorway, crossed his arms, and attempted to crawl back into his own skin.

She has to be rattled by something, he thought. Something out there has to bother her. Either that, or - or - well, there had to be. Something had to get underneath that porcelain skin of hers.

"You should come here with me, Malcolm," Firell said, standing and sliding on her jacket. "Before the next mission. It might do well for you."

He grinned ruefully. "I'm terrible at meditating the Triary."

Firell only smiled.

He sometimes hated how the Minbari smiled. They seemed to smile only with the sides of their mouths, lips pressed thinly to give the impression that they were constantly smirking - that they were never going to to tell you that about that spot on your dress uniform or the fact that you just sat in wet paint. Firell, he noted, was exceptionally good at it.

"Which is a reason why you should come more often," she continued softly. "You shouldn't be frightened of the silence."

Malcolm started down the hallway, feeling his face begin to flush. "Let's just get to the bridge. We're probably late."

"Most likely," she answered, and said nothing else.
And now after 3 straight posts from channe, we have another post from RW saying that he is enjoying her story. /forums/images/icons/grin.gif
This is very wierd.

I posted something before I went to the ballgame. It was pretty damned good. Unfortunately, it wasn't here when I got back, and I have no clue where it could have gone. I *did* press post...

Anyway, I'm too tired to replicate it tonight, so such things shall be done tomorrow, instead.
Ok. A little bit edited. This entry is the Redux equivalent of "watch the writing process in action!" Still not anywhere approaching quality.

-- -- --

David Martel, the award-winning Cowardly Captain of the Year and front-runner for the title of Most Underused And Ignored Commander In The Entire Fleet, switched off the comlink with a flourish, tore off the headset, resisted the temptation to hurl it sidelong into the railing, and stared down his exec.

I can't believe this.

"Na'feel on the com," said Kitaro, ignoring his captain's icy glare.

Martel leaned forward and regarded Dulann, who - as usual - had folded his own headset and placed it underneath the console. "They're trying to spite me," he said.

Dulann shook his head. "The Council spites no one - especially their own."

"People change," Martel said.

Dulann admitted this statement with a tilt of his head. "They are, perhaps, being cautious, and understandably so."

"Dulann, when have you ever known me to be cautious?"

Kitaro cleared his throat. "Na'feel on hold," he said again, his hands hovering over the comlink controls.

Martel sighed. "Put her through, Kit - Maybe something'll go right today. Yes, Na'feel?"

His last hope for a good day was dashed as the Narn engineer - her angry face an embodiment of Martel's own furious interior - appeared before him, bleeding profusely from her left temple.

-- -- --

Interrupted again. Drat. Will continue.
**channe leaves RW hanging in suspense...** /forums/images/icons/shocked.gif /forums/images/icons/laugh.gif
There's a lot of passive voice in this piece. I'm ashamed of myself. This is, again, written pretty quickly, so I'll most likely do a revision of it later on today.

-- -- --

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, in the great Council Chamber of the Interstellar Alliance.

But that man was dead.

Sindell-that-is banished the dreams of Sindell-that-was, reminded himself that the hopes of a younger man never went hand in hand with the reality of an older. His allegiance had changed; once to Lenonn, his mentor, master, and brother-in-arms, and now to Delenn, the Entil'zha, and to the human John Sheridan.

But he was Anla'shok, and it was his duty.

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. Addicted to the silence that 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 combat. Sindell-that-was had been Anla'shok.

Sindell-that-is was a ghost created by the victory at Coriana, where the bridge had been defended at the cost of tens of thousands of his brothers, his Rangers, his Anla'shok.

I was Anla'shok. The others, the new ones - how can they understand? The thought came unbidden.

He adjusted his own robes as he waited, high above the Council floor. Waited for Rathenn to come. Waited for Entil'zha to take her place next to him and the Ranger Council. Waited.

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.
550 page-views. Even though most of them are likely me doing the edits, I thank you folks for staying interested, especially since this stuff is mostly first-draft quality. /forums/images/icons/smile.gif

Edit: Dear me, I can't believe I missed that small detail. Please read this over. Sorry!

-- -- --

Kitaro's grandfather died the day he was born, taking his last breath in the same room of the same hospital that Kitaro drew his first. He left the family almost nothing - except his modest pension, his collection of antique collector plates, and a number of precious recordings taken at years and years of family Christmas dinners, Easter parades, Alliance Days, and birthday parties. Although the pension was spent almost immediately as the checks came in and the plates were sold at silent auction, the datacrystals were stored in a shrine-like kitchen cabinet. They so became an integral part of young Kitaro's life as his family relived his grandfather's.

At certain times, the Walter Sasaki of those recordings - a robust, older mechanic with a potbelly and a wheeze - would wander into his head and spew a soundbite like "A Narn with a gun is bad enough, but imagine if you gave a Narn a screwdriver," or "Never mistake casual nonchalance for complete indifference," the latter mostly accompanied with a nagging finger and twinkling eye.

For the first three months of the mission, he had tried his best to not associate the first proverb with the mercurial Na'feel, but had failed miserably. He had also found a face to attach to the second proverb - Captain Martel's.

For all his casual deportment, Martel ran the tightest ship Kitaro had ever seen. Though the captain tossed out jokes as fast as he did orders and made faces at field rations, there was nothing that escaped his gaze. He noticed if a minor tech was five minutes late to duty. He noticed if the power readings from the engines were even less than a percent off. He noticed if Sarah had used a different hair tie.

So it was strange that Martel had not noticed the slight discrepancy in the communications log for the day before.

He looked up, but the captain was busy speaking with a bleeding Na'feel, who appeared on the ship's main com (holding a screwdriver and looking like the Angel of Death, the navigator noted idly) with a report on the status of the new injection system and weapons upgrades. Kitaro shook cobwebs from his head and attempted to pay attention.

"Best news I've had all day, Na'feel," Martel was saying, a grin on his face. He paused. "Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?"

The Narn blinked. "No, Captain."

"Are you sure?" Martel, skeptical, narrowed his eyes and focused his attention on the bleeding wound, which Na'feel was dabbing with a blue mechanic's cloth.

"No, sir. Everything's going well."

"...Fine," Martel finished, a question still in his voice. "Report back here in fifteen for the mission briefing."

Na'feel nodded. "Yes, sir." She cut the com and dissappeared.

There was silence for a moment, before Sarah dropped into her seat. "Weren't you going to ask about the..."

"...the cut?" Martel said, grinning. "I trust Na'feel, like I trust all of you. If it were important, she would have told me."

Beneath the console, Kitaro shuffled his feet and tried not to blush. Sarah's face echoed what Kitaro was certainly feeling -
I hate it when you do that, she was most likely thinking, couching an order inside a compliment.

But Martel, like always, had switched into a higher gear. "Either that, or there's something she needs to tell us - but not on an open channel. Sarah, after the briefing, I want you and Na'feel to go to the bay and help Tirk load this in - make sure everything's kosher. This can't be a repeat of last time, and we can't afford to allow someone out there to pull the wool over our eyes." Something occurred to him, and he turned to Dulann. "This is a day ahead of schedule. What -did- you tell her?"

Dulann just folded his hands and smiled. "What you told me to tell her, Captain. You really should be clearer in your orders."

Martel opened his mouth, but nothing came out for a moment. He then laughed. "Never mind - never mind, I don't want to know."

Kitaro, bemused, went back to the communications log to trace the erroneous data he had just found, newly convinced that the maxim "understanding is not required, only obedience," was doubly true on the Liandra.
"Walter Sasaki"

Walter? Ugh.

Well, I am enjoying the story even if I don't like the name Walter. /forums/images/icons/wink.gif
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet... /forums/images/icons/grin.gif Thanks. /forums/images/icons/smile.gif
I just think a Japanese name would make more sense and sound better. /forums/images/icons/tongue.gif
Not in this situation. /forums/images/icons/wink.gif I left you a few clues in the last story entry. See if you can find them.
Collector's plates? Those wouldn't by any chance be the B5 collector's plates - mentioned in Buffy and the MTV Movie awards? /forums/images/icons/grin.gif
No Babylon 5 or Buffy, unfortunately. Walter did have a nice collection of vintage original-mint Norman Rockwells, though, and the tidy profits allowed his Mom to send Kitaro to school for foreign languages (with a concentration in Lan Narnish, Vek Narnish, Japanese, Hindi, Adronato, and Fik.)
Whee! I have a new job - and it's writing!

Because this job starts next week and is in an entirely different city, I will be spending most of my time moving, buying furniture, and breaking the news to my friends (yes, I have friends) around here.

So, I'm going to finish up the interviews I started above before getting back into the narration, or else I'll definitely stumble into continuityerrorville because I'm so busy. Keep your eyes peeled, because these interviews still will be chock-full of semi-important stuff.

And sign up for THE ABYSS newsletter, because Lyta and I are interviewing Tim Truman!

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