Thursday, January 31, 2019

Circles We Find Ourselves In, Babylon 5 Fanfic and Literary Device Writing Exercise, Part VI

Marcus is now coming to grips with the reality he had created for himself.

Circles We Find Ourselves In, Part VI

When Marcus stood, he was at his Ranger training camp. Instead of his regular teachers, Delenn stood before him in a ceremonial room. This time she wore all white. Both greeted each other with a bow.
“What are we doing here?”
She handed him a piece of red fruit. He ate the sweet flesh. She ate some herself. “You owe me, Marcus.”
“Owe you what?”
“As part of your Ranger training you were supposed to participate in the Nafak'cha. You did not. On Babylon Five you were obligated to fulfill the requirements of the Rebirth Ceremony again. You fled. Now, you will.”

Marcus blinked. She had remembered. Even though he wanted to bolt out the nearest air lock, he knew he could not. He was stuck. He had to face his fears. “I must give up my guilt?”
“All of it this time.” She held out her hand. “Also, you must give up something that means a great deal to you.”
The Ranger deliberated. He had nothing else to give. He had lost his family, colony before he joined the Army of Light. Next he lost Susan and then his own life.
He had no material possessions. He had nothing to offer her. He was befuddled. “What else can I surrender?”
“An identity that helps you wallow in your guilt.”
Reluctant, he removed his Ranger pendant and handed the gem to Delenn. That act hurt more than any other he had ever known. He needed that identity. He also realized how dependent he was on hiding behind his Ranger duties.
Her fingers clasped over the ornament. “Now, you must tell something you have never told anyone else.”
He held his breath. Tears welled up in his eyes. He did not want to say what he felt. Vocalization would make the theoretical real.
Marcus released his apprehension and breathed again. “I never realized how my decisions affected others. I always assumed I was expendable. I never thought anyone would mourn my loss. Not as they have, anyway. I just didn’t see the value of my own life. Now, I know I’m as important as every other human soul.”
Delenn smiled and handed back the Ranger pendant to Marcus. “Congratulations, Anla’shok Cole, you are now a full-fledged Ranger.”
“So I am.” He giggled as he snapped the accessory onto his uniform. “Thank you. Now for you, Delenn.”
“I’m not the only one participating, am I?”
She shook her head. She removed her engagement and wedding rings. “I’ve held onto these symbols for several millennia. Humans have lost what it is that makes them great. John too. I wear them in the hopes he’ll come back to me.”
“I’m your way to reclaim Captain Sheridan?”
“Yes, Marcus. I hoped you could restore the balance, but before love was lost between John and I . . .” She turned away from the Ranger. “There was never any mix up. Your cryogenic container was brought to Minbar. When Ivanova died, I kept hope alive that some way to revive you would be found. Before I passed beyond the veil, I had you sent to a medical isolation lab in the middle of unchartered space.”
            “But why?”
            “At first, I didn’t know what else to do. If you were some how alive in there, I couldn’t just cut off the machine.”
            “I saw how humanity viewed themselves. The goals they were setting to improve their race. I figured someday humans would need someone like you to remind them of who they are.”
“Seems, you were right.”
            “But not at the cost of your soul.”
            “I promise, my soul and I are just fine.” He stared deep into her blue eyes. “If I must give up my guilt, then so do you, Delenn.”
“I’m sorry, Marcus, for making you go through this.”
“All is forgiven.” He grinned. “Anyway, it’s not for not. If you hadn’t hid me away, I would never know how angry Susan was at me.”
“I don’t see how that helps you.”
“You don’t stay mad thousands of years at someone unless you really do love them.”
Her eyes sparkled. “Now, to get her to admit it.”
“I bet humanity would take notice.”
“In the end, you will have a choice to make. You are in fact in stasis.”
“I’ll deal with that reality after we deal with the whole crux of this situation. Shall we?” He gestured to leave. “We have humanity to save.”
 Delenn escorted Marcus back into the Grey Council chambers. The others were present in their lit circles. Stephen and G’Kar were still missing. Londo was at his guestless party.
Marcus and Delenn explained much of what they had learned, but not everything. He kept Delenn’s secret about John. He realized speaking too soon could have a potential catastrophic affect. Then Susan would slide further away.
“Whoa, wait a minute . . .” Garibaldi pointed into the Minbari’s direction. “Delenn, you opened up this old wound as a reminder notice?”
“Someone had to.” Sinclair looked at Garibaldi. “We’ve gotten so far off track. Or, how could one soul have caused all this mess?” 
“If we . . .” Ivanova gestured in a circle to encompass everyone in the room. “All of us here. Forgive Marcus for being a suicidal maniac . . .”
“Thank you, Susan.” Marcus felt insulted.
“You’re welcome.” Ivanova snorted. “If we do, then can we please move on?”
“What’s your rush?” The Ranger put his hands on his hips.
“Rush? You’ve been asleep. We’ve actually been living this nightmare called life. I’m tired. I’m cranky and I want a good stiff drink.”
“Don’t we all?” Garibaldi raised his hand.
Delenn left her circle of light and glided to Sheridan’s area. She handed him the rings. “Here.”
“Why are you giving these to me? They’re yours. I want you to have them.”
“Because we haven’t been married, haven’t been soul mates in quite a long time. We have also lost our way.”
He took her hands in his. “I know things have been strained, but this isn’t what I want.”
“Then what do you want, John?” Sinclair commanded the room’s attention with his voice. “I suggest maybe you and Delenn should find out. Susan accompany Marcus to Londo’s palace. We’ll meet up later.”
“And what about me?” Garibaldi interrupted the exodus.
“You and Lennier get to come with me.” Sinclair grinned. “We’ve got work to do.”
 Next, Marcus found himself in Londo’s banquet hall. Susan stood near the bar. She knocked back a brown fluid. She motioned the bartender for another shot.
He went to her. “Thirsty?”
As she gulped another unit of liquor, Londo giggled. “All the perks, none of the hang over.”
Marcus turned to Susan. “And what do you think of all this?”
“Maybe if Delenn and John can work out their differences, then we can go to the Rim.”
“Is that your only goal?”
With another drink in hand, Susan made her way to the table. Marcus followed and sat beside her. Lando feasted on his Spoo at the head. The two humans retired in the middle of the endless table.
“I need a vacation, Marcus. From what I remember of our lives together, it was stressful.”
“War will make you feel that way.”
“A lot of things made me feel that way.”
“You’re talking about us, aren’t you?”
“Hard to when there was no us.”
“You had no regrets when I died?”
She drank some more. “Regrets? You want a list of regrets? I spent my whole life trying to erase what you did. Give up your life for me. I worked extra hard at everything.”
“And you spent time with me.”
“You were all I could think about. All I ever . . .”
“Ever, what?”
She slammed down her glass. “You know.”
“It’s called survivor’s guilt. I had it and I passed it on to you. I’m sorry for that Susan. That is my regret. I never told you. Never showed you.”
“I didn’t either, Marcus.” Susan grasped his hand. “You were always there. By my side. I just assumed you would be.”
“I was. Every step of the way.”
She snorted a laugh then became solemn. “I know survivor’s guilt. I understand why you did what you did for me. I hadn’t realized what it would mean to me if something were to happen to you.”
“Do any of us really? We think about it. We buried it so deeply in our minds because emotionally we can’t handle the brevity of life. The people we love how they’ll disappear one by one from our lives until we’re next on the list.”
“To tell you the truth, I couldn’t have done half the accomplishments I did without knowing that someday we would meet again.” She giggled. “I thought I had to report to you. Which is why I went and spoke to your cryogenic chamber. I wanted you to know I was doing something with the second chance you gave me. I was making a difference.”
“For ten thousand years?” He stared deep into her eyes. “You have nothing to prove to me.”
“Don’t I?” Susan smiled. “I know what you want from me. I wish I could give that to you.”
“I’m not ready.”
Marcus raised her hand and kissed the back. “If I can keep hope alive, I’ll be satisfied.”
She kissed his cheek. Both smiled. Nothing was ever over.
Garibaldi plopped down next to Ivanova. He grabbed Ivanova’s drink, smelled the contents, and placed the glass back on the table. “Wow, that’s strong. Burnt the nose hairs right off.”
“Stick to your orange juice.” Ivanova shoved him with her shoulder. “This table’s for grown ups.”
“What are you doing here?” Marcus furrowed his brow. “I thought you had something to do with Sinclair and Lennier.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Garibaldi  pointed pass Marcus. “Lennier’s Christmas Past. I’m Christmas Present.”
“Which makes me the future.” Sinclair finished with an all-knowing smile.
Marcus peered at the religious leader. “So you know how this story ends?”
“No, Marcus, that is up to you. I am only a guide.”
Susan looked around the table. “Where’s Delenn and Sheridan?”
“Their home on Minbar.” Sinclair sat down beside Lennier. “Londo has a proposition for you.”
“Yes, but I’m not interested in the dancing girls.”
“No, not the girls. The doors.” Londo sat next to Lennier. He fanned himself. “Why did you have to be clear down here? It’s uncomfortable in the summer months.”
“Explain to him about the passageways.” Sinclair smiled with a curve of sadness.
“Your utlimate joke.” Marcus turned his attention to the Emperor, but he noticed Susan never relinquished his hand. He laced his fingers in hers. “I can’t choose until I know which one is safe, remember?”
“The first door is more of the same. The other is life. Which for anyone but you is a terrible realization.” Londo sipped at his goblet. “We would be lost in this new galaxy. That and totally bodiless.”
“So it’s down to two choices again.” Marcus reclined into his chair.
“Before Delenn went off with Sheridan, she made me place two more doors.”
“Two?” Sinclair frowned. “She didn’t mention that.”
“Being part Minbari yourself, you know how weird their requests can be and without explanation.” Londo signaled for more alcohol. The servant who had followed him filled his cup. “The third door is to commune with the Minbari until such time your body dies. The fourth door will lead to a life of your choosing. Anything you can dream up will be yours.”
            “Am I slurring my words again?”
            “No. I’m just in awe of your abilities.”
“So, what have you decided?” Susan caressed his hand.
“I guess I have some thinking to do. Where are these doors?”
Londo gestured. “Down the hall. Several meters. You can’t miss them. Four large gray doors.”
“Thank you all but I need some time alone.” Marcus kissed Susan’s hand one more time. He stood, bowed, and departed their company. Not long afterward, he discovered the doors.
            Marcus stood in front of the four choices. In his mind, hours had flown by. He did not know which he should choose. He knew what he wanted, but did she?
            Susan sighed as she stepped beside him. “I figured you already knew what you wanted.”
            “I do.”
            “Then what’s the hold up?”
            “Consequences. I don’t want to pass on any more guilt.”
            “We’ve dealt with our collective guilt. So what is it?”
            He lifted and opened his hand. “Care to join me?”
            “I won’t have a body, Marcus.”
            “I didn’t say I was choosing life.”
            “You would let go?”
          “I didn’t say I was choosing death.” He stared forward. Without moving his head, he glanced in her direction. “I just wanted to know if you would . . .”
            “Spend an eternity with the Minbari?” After a giggle, she placed her hand in his. “Whatever your choice is Marcus, I’ll support your decision. And when you’ve returned I’ll be waiting for a detailed report.”
            “Double spaced?”
            “And in Standard English.”
           Guilt vanished. For the first time, Marcus felt the weight of all his fears lift from his shoulders. Part of the reason is that he forgave other people for their trespasses. Another part was he forgave himself. The last and most critical piece is that he realized the truth about life, love, and honor.
            Never be without them.
He grinned. He had everything he ever wanted. With his mind made up, Marcus reached over and turned the knob.


Read the rest of the novelette on Undawnted's Circles We Find Ourselves In dedicated page.

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