DISCLAIMER: I don't own Babylon 5 or any of the characters represented in the show. They're owned by JMS and other people who aren't me. I'm doing this for fun - I'm not making a profit, monetary or otherwise off of this. No copyright infringement is implied/meant/deliberate in any way, shape or form. If I've forgotten something, insert the usual disclaimer stuff here.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Fire and Ice
By Del Robertson
It was dark. Not the tranquil, peaceful shade that came with dimming the lights and crawling into bed after a particularly brutal day. Nor was it the blackness that surrounded the station on all sides even during the waking hours, its deep velvet liberally sprinkled with the lights of a billion stars.
No, this was the dark that crept beneath the skin, turning rivers of hot blood icy cold, chilling down to the bone. It was stifling in its thickness, suffocating away every breath.
Heartbeat echoing loudly in her ears, she tried to block out the sound of her own erratic breathing. Ears strained, intently listening for the slightest noise. Nothing. Closing her eyes, leaning her head against the corridor wall, she released a long, shuddering breath.
Her heartbeat continued to pound even as she forced herself to concentrate on several deep breathing exercises purposefully designed to calm the overtaxed muscle. Looking down, she thought she could literally see her heart trying to beat itself out of her chest.
The beating abruptly increased tenfold as she heard the steady staccato rhythm of heavy footsteps coming towards her.
The transport tube jerked to an abrupt halt, the interior lights blinking erratically on and off several times before the emergency lights stabilized, coating the entire lift in an eerie, luminescent orange glow. Captain Sheridan slowly picked himself up from the floor, proceeded to help Ambassador Delenn to her feet. As she thanked him for his assistance, he warily glanced around the lift. Raising his link to his hand, he stopped in mid-motion as the power came back on and the transport tube resumed its trek.
"The power disruptions are growing more frequent, Captain," observed Delenn.
Sheridan attempted to keep the solicitous look firmly in place as he addressed the ambassador's concerns. "Maintenance assures me they're working round the clock to correct the situation, Ambassador Delenn."
"That is most heartening, Captain Sheridan." Delenn found her eyes drawn towards the ceiling as the transport tube lights blinked again several times before stabilizing. The power sputtered on and off with each surge, leaving the passengers to wonder if they should brace themselves in case they again lost complete momentum. "Although, if this continues, it may be wise to start using the stairwells."
"Rest assured, Ambassador," Sheridan flashed his most charming smile as the computerized voice announced the arrival of the lift at his destination, "I'm on my way to a meeting to - " the doors opened and he took a step out, barely catching himself before he dropped a distance of five feet. With a frown, he ducked down, hanging his long legs over the edge, giving a solid push to land away from the lift. As he landed, he turned around, still smiling at the bewildered ambassador. "As I was saying, Ambassador, I'm on my way to a meeting to discuss this very issue."
Before she could respond, he gave an abrupt tug to his uniform jacket, turned and departed with as much dignity as he could still muster.
Sweat trickled through her hair, beading about her temple, sliding past her forehead and over her nose. She felt the moisture pooling about her collar and dampening her back, causing the material to cling to her like a second skin. Resolutely, she swiped a sleeve across her eyes, forcing herself to ignore the stinging sensation caused by the abundant perspiration.
In all her life, she didn't think she'd ever perspired so much. Then again, that's precisely what this was about. Her life. Instinctively, she knew she couldn't stay and fight. This was like no other enemy she'd ever faced. She highly doubted she could survive a frontal assault. Her only option now was a cut and run tactic.
She rounded a corner, realizing for the first time she was in the Zocalo. She had blindly ran here, thinking to lose her pursuer in the crowds. The normally bustling shopping center was devoid of all activity. Not a single shopper or merchant could be found. The entire area was deserted.
Or, was it? Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a flash of movement behind a vendor's stall. Cautiously, she approached, her PPG at the ready. She edged around the stall, leveling her weapon at the figure huddled on the floor. She recognized the elderly woman immediately. She was a merchant specializing in jewelry sales and repair. In the past, she'd often stopped at the woman's stand and browsed her wares. She was always a lively, engaging woman, quick with a smile and ready with conversation.
Now she was curled onto the floor, arms and hands covering her face as she shivered and sobbed uncontrollably. Reaching out, she gripped both wrists firmly in her hands, pulling the arms away, revealing a tear-streaked face. Eyes wide with fright stared at her, the trembling in the merchant's body visibly increasing along with her rapid breathing.
"Megan, what is it?" she asked, trying to keep her voice at a non-intimidating level. She tried to maintain eye contact, to convey an intimation of safety, but the other woman's eyes continued to rapidly dart back and forth, hardly lighting on her features before taking off again. "What happened here?"
Ominous laughter filled the abandoned Zocalo. "What happened? I did, little girl!"
Fear seized her heart, icy tendrils raced along her spine as she looked up from her crouching position. The merchant screamed, even as she tried to scramble backwards, looking for a convenient air shaft to crawl into.
Letting the merchant retreat from her grasp, she rose to her feet, slowly turning around. Her breathing was coming quickly, her heart rising and falling at a desperate rate. Amazingly, her arm was steady as she raised her PPG. Finger closing about the trigger, she fired.
There was a flash of energy and then -
Eyes going wide, mouth gaping open, she stared at her PPG, checking the energy charge. Raising it, she fired again. A little fizzle this time, and then the energy crackled harmlessly away. Deep laughter mocked her obvious frustration.
Her blood ran cold in her veins as her pursuer came near. At a calm pace, footsteps conveying the impression of someone out for a casual stroll. She knew this was done to unnerve her. To taunt her. To raise her level of anticipation and fear. It was working. With each step, she felt her adrenaline increase. Desperately, she worked with her weapon, trying to obtain enough of a charge for just one shot.
As the steps echoed loudly, then stopped, she felt the presence directly in front of her. Slowly, her eyes rose from her weapon, focusing. So close, she could almost physically reach out and touch - she lifted her free hand, fingers outstretched -
The laughter echoed loudly in her ears, abruptly breaking the spell. She stared in horror at her trembling, outstretched fingers. Shaking her head at the very notion of touching - she came out of the spell. Somehow finding the will, she broke away and ran.
"We need answers, people!" Sheridan punched his fist into his open palm as he paced the length of the room, "And we need them yesterday!"
He stopped from his pacing long enough to cast a meaningful look at the officers seated around the table in front of him. His gaze started from the lowest ranking officers, moving up the line. The representative from the Dock Workers' Guild and the Head of Maintenance nervously averted their eyes from Sheridan's demanding gaze. As did three more officers when he attempted to gain their attention. Dr. Franklin met Sheridan's gaze straight on, but gave no other response save for his repeated tapping of his fingers upon the tabletop.
The captain's eyes moved from the doctor to the chairs nearest his own, flanking the left and right sides respectively. Both were uncharacteristically empty. Ivanova and Garibaldi. With a deep sigh, Sheridan retook his seat at the head of the table, feeling suddenly very alone in his command.
Abruptly, the doors to the meeting room whooshed open and a figure clad in the familiar colors of a security uniform came rushing in. Hurriedly, the officer rushed to the table, dropping into his chair beside the captain.
"Sorry I'm late," he apologized, "We found another one in Red Sector."
"Where?" Sheridan pressed.
"One of the bars. Real dive. Owner says the guy's been there for the past day and half, drinking it up. He got annoyed when the guy stopped ordering drinks. Anyway, he went over there to toss the guy out and - " Seeing the look from Sheridan, Zack Allen shrugged, " - The body's been taken down to Medlab to wait for the doc."
"Thank you, Mr. Allen."
"Sure thing, Doc." Zack nodded his head amiably. At first, he was nervous about coming to these meetings. But, with Garibaldi out of commission, it was his responsibility to represent station security. I just hope I don't do something stupid and embarrass myself or my department.
"Suspects?" Sheridan asked.
Zack shook his head. "Owner and employees didn't notice anyone within ten feet of the guy. I've requisitioned the security cameras for the bar and Martinez is looking through the vids now. Both those in the bar and in the surrounding areas outside. If we can't nail someone in the act, maybe we'll get lucky and spot a familiar face in the main corridors."
"Excellent work. I expect you to personally follow up on that lead when we're done here." Sheridan flashed a reassuring smile at the young officer. He missed Garibaldi's familiar presence, but he knew that Zack Allen was more than capable as the chief's replacement. Sheridan's gaze shifted back to Johnson. This time, he didn't allow the the Head of Maintenance to duck his inquiries. "Progress?" he asked, steely gaze pinning the officer in place.
Johnson ran a hand through his rapidly thinning hair, exhaled loudly. He hated being put on the spot. For three days now, the captain had been posing the same questions to him. And, for the past three days, his answers had been unsatisfactory. Still, that was all he could give - "We've ran repeated scans throughout the entire station," he began his report. "We've replaced any circuit and conduit that even looks remotely suspicious." He gave a helpless shrug. "There's nothing wrong with the equipment on Babylon 5."
Sheridan shot the Head of Maintenance an incredulous look. "There are sporadic power outages all over the station. We've had entire stations shut down. Doors are opening and closing erratically. The transport tubes are operating intermittently at best. And, we've had to suspend all service on the core shuttle. We can't risk the low-grav field being affected and the shuttle come crashing down."
"With all due respect, sir," Johnson protested, "There are fail-safes in place to prevent that sort of thing - "
"You also assured me there were fail-safes on the transport tubes, Mr. Johnson. Yet, I found myself half a level above this floor when I attempted to step off the tube!" The veins in Sheridan's neck began to protrude as the level of his voice increased. "I suggest you run more tests to find the reason for the power failures aboard this station! And, keep running them until you find something!" Sheridan's link abruptly sounded. "YES!?!" snapped Sheridan, tapping the device on his wrist.
"Sir?" Came Lt. Corwin's hesitant voice, "We have a Narn Cruiser preparing to depart the docking bays. The Captain is demanding to speak to you, sir."
"Which part of 'don't allow any ships to leave' do you not understand, Mr. Corwin?" Sheridan's face turned impossibly red as his temper skyrocketed higher. No wonder Ivanova's always such a -
"Sir, they're threatening to open their gun ports in the hangers if we don't allow them to leave, sir."
"On my way." Sheridan disconnected the channel. He flicked an irritated look at his assembled staff. "We'll continue this later. In the meantime, I expect all department heads to work on getting me the answers I need."
"Yes, sir!" came the flurry of sharp salutes as the captain stormed out of the meeting room.
Her flight was without conscious thought or plan. Her initial instinct had been merely to get away. Now, though, as she ran, she gave thought to her best course of action. Giving consideration to her destination, she finally took control of the chase, leading her pursuer where she wanted instead of where she was being herded to.
Like the Zocalo, the station appeared to be deserted. Normally busy corridors were astonishingly void of all traffic. The communications stations were all inoperable, no doubt suffering the same affliction as the lighting systems. The corridors were all but darkened, relying heavily on backup generators that were bathing the halls in an unearthly lighting.
She rounded another corner, barely keeping herself from skidding upon the metal deck as she failed to slow to a reasonable speed. Righting herself, her shoulder bouncing off a wall, she allowed herself to come to a stop. Leaning against the wall, breathing heavily, she looked around, attempting to regain her bearings. Behind her, she could hear the steady beat of approaching footsteps.
Biting her bottom lip, she gave momentary consideration to her options. With the communications systems out, it was obvious that whatever aid she sought would have to be in person. The question was, where should that aid come from? Security? C & C? Flight hangers? Mentally, she tried to calculate the best route to blue sector.
Taking a left at the next passage, she spotted the transport tube at the end of the corridor. Behind her, she could hear the rapidly gaining sounds of her pursuer. Digging deep, finding a last burst of energy, she sprinted for the transport tube, frantically summoning the car. To her relief, the doors immediately opened and she rushed inside.
Looking up, her eyes met those of her pursuer. Fighting down a gasp, she frantically tried to avert her gaze, finding herself mesmerized by hypnotic eyes. She breathed a sigh of relief as the transport tube started to move. A sardonic smile spread over deathly pale lips. Then, the emergency lights flickered. And, the transport gave a last gasp as if dying, metal gears grinding as its momentum was halted.
She found herself inexplicably stepping backwards, each footstep echoing loudly in her ears. Until she found her retreat halted by the far wall of the transport tube. Arms stretched out, hands braced against the door of the transport as a powerful body calmly made its way inside the confined space. She was trapped. With nowhere to run, nowhere to hide - and unable to fight.
Hands came up, fingers brushing against her throat. She felt the coldness settle like ice over her heated flesh. Unable to close her eyes, her entire body shivering against the onslaught, she screamed.
Dr. Whitaker stalked the rows of beds lining Medlab Three. Normally, she worked strictly Medlab One, but due to the rather - unorthodox - nature of their patients, Dr. Franklin had insisted they be moved to a lower profile facility. Medlab Three wasn't located in Brown Sector. That dubious honor was reserved for Medlab Four, catering to the downtrodden and misbegotten souls scraping out an existence in Down Below. Medlab Four had twenty-four hour security on premise and each member of the medical staff carried a weapon for their own protection. Drugs weren't kept on premises - to thwart temptation - and only the barest of medical instruments were kept on location.
No, Medlab Three wasn't housed in Brown Sector, but it wasn't a far cry away. At one time, it catered to the working class of dock workers, maintenance personnel and market vendors. That was before Medlab Two was overhauled and expanded, allowing more room for those in need. Since then, Medlab Three had been reduced to being used for the morgue - and patients that needed to be kept off the record.
That's why she was here. Ever since those vids of that Pak'ma'ra giving birth to a dozen little ones was released on ISN, Dr. Franklin hadn't trusted certain members of his staff with the most remedial of tasks. She had proven her loyalty time and time again, even to the point of not mentioning the number of requests he had made for stims over the past few months. And, she would continue to keep her silence for Dr. Franklin. There was no doubt; she was loyal to a fault.
She knew that's why he had entrusted her with this. Indeed, she had been the only one. The rest of the staff had been temporarily reassigned to Medlab Four; a location specifically chosen to keep them too busy with trauma cases to wonder what was secretly going on in Medlab Three. Only herself and Dr. Franklin were privy to what was happening there now. Access was strictly regulated; not even the roving bands of security patrols routinely made inquiries at the facility. If they needed to speak with one of the doctors, they did it strictly by the communications channel. There were times she doubted if even the Command Staff of Babylon 5 knew what went on behind these doors.
Dr. Whitaker was pulled from her reverie as she reached the end of the row of beds. Turning around, her back to the far wall, she surveyed the room before her. There were twenty beds in this part of the facility. Out of those twenty, sixteen were full.
Each body lay supine on the bed, arms down by their sides. Blankets were laid across each, coming to mid-chest level. Eyes and mouths were closed. The pallor of death hung on each, their skin icy cold to the touch. She watched closely for several minutes; there wasn't even the slightest rise and fall of a chest to indicate that a heart still beat amongst them.
Dr. Whitaker reached out, catching a slender wrist in her grasp, raising the chilled flesh to better observe the readings displayed on the medbracelet. Frowning at the readings, she pressed two fingers to the pulse point of a slim neck. Eyes abruptly opened, the body jerked upright, a scream issuing forth from parched, cracked lips. Dr. Whitaker took an involuntarily leap backwards, echoing the scream identically.
Captain Sheridan was very nearly ready to scream in frustration. He stalked the length of the deck that made up C & C, his fists clenching and unclenching with his barely restrained rage. His face was rapidly reddening, the veins in his temple and neck pulsing wildly as he listened to the barrage of insults being issued by the image of the irate Narn Captain filling the viewscreen.
"Captain Du-Rhat!" Sheridan cut off the Narn in mid-tantrum. He concentrated on speaking slowly and concisely in an effort to keep his temper in check. "As I have already previously stated . . . FIFTEEN TIMES . . . " He drew a ragged, deep breath, "Due to an on-going murder investigation, Babylon 5 is currently not allowing any vessels to depart from the station."
"Your investigations are of no concern - "
"Security is currently working around the clock to apprehend this fugitive, Captain Du-Rhat," Sheridan smoothly cut off the Narn, "And, we are confident that he will be arrested in a timely manner."
"THAT is what I was told by your staff two days ago!" protested the Narn. "We have been delayed enough as it is!"
"I agree," nodded the Captain. "But, you see, I can't allow any vessel to leave unless I'm positive there's not a dangerous felon on board."
"This is an outrage!" There was an audible boom as the Narn's gloved hand hit the armrest of his command chair in frustration. "None of my crew are murderers!"
"Never said they were," smirked Sheridan. "However, there may be one stowed away on your vessel amongst your cargo."
"That is not possible!"
"Over the years, I've found that anything is possible. Especially on Babylon 5, Captain. However, in the interest of - " he paused over the word " - diplomacy - I'm willing to make a small concession." At the Narn's expectant look, he expanded, "If you will consent to allowing a security detail access to your vessel . . . complete access; and they find nothing unusual, I will personally allow your vessel to depart unmolested. If not, I'm afraid you'll have to wait out the duration of our investigation just like everyone else."
"I - that - I - " The Narn sputtered and spewed, unable to give voice to his outrage. His second in command stepped forward, whispering low in his ear. The Narn captain turned, shooting an incredulous look at his lieutenant. Then, his face losing some of its bluster, he responded, "Thank you for the offer, Captain Sheridan. But, in the interest of Narn privacy as well as a show of cooperation and goodwill between our two cultures, we'll respectfully wait until the general announcement is made that all ships may leave the station."
The Narn Captain gave a curt sign-off, briskly punched a button on the armrest of his command chair. Instantly, the viewscreen dimmed. Only then, did Captain Sheridan breath a sigh of relief. He stood there, staring out at the stars, feeling pretty smug with himself for several moments before addressing his staff.
"If any more captains make contact, demanding to be allowed to depart the station, give them the same offer I just gave the Narns. Any vessel seeking to leave before the lock-down is lifted may do so only if they agree to have their ships and crew thoroughly searched by Babylon 5 security."
"Sir?" Lt. Corwin hesitantly asked, "If we don't know what the murderer looks like, how will we know he's not on board one of the ships we're going to release, sir?"
"We don't." Sheridan's smile broadened. "But, Mr. Corwin, this IS Babylon 5. And, I can practically guarantee not a single captain will allow his vessel, crew or cargo to be scrutinized by our security."
"Yes, sir." Lt. Corwin returned to his station, marveling at the assuredness the captain was displaying. He had thought no one could possess the sheer audacity that Commander Ivanova brought to her position, but the captain was doing an admirable job of stepping into her shoes.
Sheridan's smile fell when his link sounded. Bringing it to his lips, he barked, "What?"
"Well, hello to you, too, Captain Sheridan," Dr. Franklin's melodic voice swept over the link. "You asked me to inform when there was a - " brief pause " - status change in any of our patients."
"Not more than five minutes ago," came the smooth reply.
"I'm on my way." Sheridan cut the connection, immediately turned his command over to the next ranking officer before rushing out of C & C.
"What happened?" Sheridan asked, keeping his voice low.
He was in the medical officer's office, his back to Dr. Franklin, hands clasped behind his back as he stared out the plexishield window. Dr. Franklin was seated at his desk, reviewing the reports Dr. Whitaker had given him when she'd summoned him to Medlab Three. At Sheridan's question, he arched a bemused eyebrow in response.
"Hmm? Oh, not sure, really. Dr. Whitaker was doing a routine examination of the patients when she - " he shrugged " - just woke up."
"Woke up?" Sheridan turned to look at Dr. Franklin incredulously. "She's been in a catatonic state for three full days . . . and you're telling me she just woke up? Just like that? Like she'd just been napping?"
"Well, in all fairness, Dr. Whitaker did say she screamed."
Sheridan grunted. Just once, I'd like to get a straightforward answer to a question on this station! For the moment, he decided to forego questioning the doctor and instead refocused his attention on the rest of the medlab. He counted twenty beds, fifteen of them containing still, unmoving forms. Each laying in exactly the same position they'd been in the last time he'd been down here.
What captured his attention now was the woman sitting upright on her bed, legs dangling over the edge as if she had come in for a routine examination. She looked thin - even thinner than usual - and seemed extremely haggard, as evidenced by the dark circles under both eyes and the white pallor of her flesh. She unsteadily clutched a cup of water in both hands, bringing it to her pale lips for an occasional sip as Dr. Whitaker hovered about, poking and prodding, taking multiple scans.
"I don't know what to tell you," Dr. Franklin shrugged, looking up from his reports at last. "The readings from her medbracelet are identical in every way to the rest of the patients in that room. Visibly, there's no discernible heartbeat or pulse. They’re hovering just this side of massive cellular degradation. As a matter of fact, there’s only a tiny hint of cerebral energy buffering at the lowest readings on the instruments."
"In plain English, doctor, what are you saying?”
"They're dead, John."
"What?!?" Sheridan's jaw threatened to hit the deck.
"If that ship had landed on a remote planet without the medical technology we have at our disposal, they would be declared dead." He saw Sheridan's annoyed look, knew he was going to raise protest, and cut him off before he could object. "Of course, we know they're not deceased. It's almost like their energy has been all but drained from their bodies. And, their biological readings are so low on the charts that they could very easily be mistaken for corpses."
"Exactly." He handed his report to the captain, allowing him to read along as he surmised, "And, I'm at a loss to explain why. But, the medbracelet registered a spike in her energy levels just before she sat up screaming."
Sheridan chewed his bottom lip in contemplation, his gaze darting back and forth between the doctor, the report and the 'deceased' patient sitting upright in bed in the other room. Finally, handing the report back to the doctor, he declared, "I want to speak with her."
"Of course," agreed Franklin, "I don't see any harm in a short visit." He opened the door to his office, ushered Captain Sheridan through before placing the report back on his desk and locking the door behind them as they left.
She gingerly sipped at her glass of water, feeling the cool moisture trickle down the back of her parched throat. Patiently, she waited as the doctor fiddled with the medbracelet at her wrist, taking yet another reading. Sensing the patient's waning temperament, the woman apologized again for the inconvenience before moving away to re-evaluate her data.
Grateful for the momentary reprieve from the poking and prodding she'd been enduring since awakening, she closed her eyes, exhaled loudly. Rolling her head from side to side, her neck gave several audible pops as the vertebra sought to realign themselves. Experimentally, she gave a little stretch, letting out an audible sigh as joints cracked.
Her senses prickled with their approach. Running a hand through her locks, pushing her hair back from her face, she slowly opened her eyes. Fixing an irritated glare at the intruders, she tried to mask her annoyance upon seeing Captain Sheridan and Doctor Franklin approaching. A thin line that almost crept into a forced smile edged its way onto her lips.
As usual, the captain was grinning with what he thought was his usual boyish charm. To her, at this moment, it was nothing short of irritating. And, the gleeful expression of the doctor was no better.
"Ms. Winters," Captain Sheridan gave a perfunctory nod of his head as he stopped just several paces shy of her bed, "Good to see you up and about."
"Not about," corrected Dr. Franklin. Unlike Sheridan, he didn't halt his approach. He continued right into her personal space, looking deep in her eyes, using his thumbs to press at the tender flesh just above her cheekbones as he gazed at her pupils, "She's up, but definitely not about." She blinked as he suddenly flashed a bright light into her eyes. Seemingly satisfied at her response, he withdrew, shoving his hand into the pocket of his labcoat. "How are you feeling, Ms. Winters?"
"Like Commander Ivanova made good on her promise to toss me out an airlock."
She winced at the sound of her own voice. This was the first time she'd attempted to speak since she'd woken up in the medlab. And, even to her own ears, her voice sounded huskier, raspier than usual. She caught the slight cringe from Dr. Franklin and felt the strong emotions rolling off of Captain Sheridan. In her weakened state, she lacked the necessary strength to completely raise her shields and felt herself carried away by his turbulent feelings.
Suddenly, her eyes widened as a tide of panic swept over her, engulfing herself in a sea of turmoil. "What's happened? What's going on?" she asked, the hint of dread edging into her voice, a mirror of the feelings being projected at her from the normals.
"We were kind of hoping you could tell us that, Ms. Winters." Despite his hands being laced behind his back as he stood nearby, he was able to give a meaningful shrug. "One moment, you and I are firmly entrenched in a diplomatic nightmare with Ambassadors Mollari and G'Kar, the next, you're having some sort of a spell or something."
"My apologies, Captain Sheridan." Talia's face reddened as she tried to move off the edge of the bed. "If you'd care to reconvene the meeting?"
"I think that can wait for the time being, Ms. Winters." The captain seemed a little embarrassed as he tried to voice the news as delicately as possible. "It's already waited for three days."
Talia looked confused, not comprehending what the captain was trying to say. Was he trying to say he no longer needed her professional services? Regardless, she was determined to get out of the medlab and back to her duties. Even if Earthforce didn't need or desire her services any longer, she had plenty of other clients on the station that still had contracts with her.
Dr. Franklin smoothly caught the commercial telepath before she could completely slide off the edge of the bed. "What the captain's trying to say - " He glared at the senior officer " - and failing miserably at, mind you, is that it's been three days since your episode in the conference room."
"Three days?" Both blonde eyebrows climbed at that. That feeling of dread that had slowly crept into her stomach was now seeping into the rest of her bones. She tasted a hint of bile in the back of her throat, instinctively knew from the apprehension levels rising in the room, she wouldn't like where this conversation was heading.
For the first time since awakening, Talia took in the rest of her surroundings. For the most part, the focus of her entire existence up to this point had been that of the doctors pinching, poking, and prodding. Then, the questions from the captain and Dr. Franklin. Now, her eyes darted about, taking in the remainder of the room.
This wasn't Medlab One. It was smaller, more impersonal. And, it lacked the psychic imprints from the usual doctors and patients she had come to recognize as belonging to the lab. No, this was cold, sterile. And, she was definitely picking up some eerie feelings of strong impressions left by those that had been in this facility before her. Her gaze fell on the set of double doors leading out of the medlab. Suddenly, it struck her. Unlike the other medlabs she'd been to, this one had no communications station, no monitors; no view of any part of the station beyond these four walls.
And only one other doctor besides Franklin. This wasn't right. This wasn't a normal Medlab. She'd been taken somewhere secretive somewhere deep within the station. Someplace she shouldn't be -
"I'm guessing I didn't have a simple fainting spell?" she guessed.
"I'm afraid not," confirmed the doctor. "You've been unconscious for that entire length of time. Not just unconscious," he added, trying his best to maintain that bedside manner he so firmly believed in. After all, it wouldn't do any good to unnecessarily frighten the patient, "You've been catatonic, in a severe state of cellular suspension, as near to death as you can get. Just like them."
Talia's gaze swept over the room, taking in the sight of the beds. Her eyes widened, her medbracelet registered an increase in her heart rate as her optical nerves processed the images of the corpses laid out on the beds. She dimly recognized several security officers she'd seen about the station. As well as Michael Garibaldi. Her breath hitched, threatening to still completely as she saw the sleeve of the blue Earthforce uniform, then took in the rank and insignia and the mass of chestnut hair falling about shoulders and pillow.
She felt hands upon her, trying to push her back down upon the bed, heard Dr. Franklin's voice in her ear, telling her to 'take it easy', but found herself unable to comply. Her eyes traveled up the still form of Commander Ivanova, unable to look away. In her mind, she saw the presence from her dreams looming over the vulnerable officer, ready to strike. And, just like in her nightmare, she was powerless to do anything except scream.
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