Read Babylon 5: Red Fury Online

Authors: Claudia Christian,Morgan Grant Buchanan

Tags: #Babylon 5 short story

Babylon 5: Red Fury (3 page)

BOOK: Babylon 5: Red Fury
9.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

RED FURY

“Berensen, you’re in charge,” she said, striding towards the turbo lift. “Captain?”

“Keep angling us behind the asteroid so we only have to take fire from one ship at a time. Force them to keep repositioning if they want to hit us.”

As she stepped into the flickering light of the turbo lift she felt fluid running down her forehead and into her right eye. Ivanova instinctively wiped it away and as she lowered her hand she saw blood. She recalled she’d hit her head during the battle. That explained why she suddenly found it so hard to think straight. And now that she thought of it, she felt tired. So very tired.

Keep focused
, she ordered herself.
Keep it together. You can rest when
you’ve done your duty.

“Sir? Where will you be, sir?” Berensen’s voice came in through the speaker as the turbo lift carried her down into the ship.

“Deck 7,” she replied. “I’m going to poke our resident Vorlon

transport with a stick and see what happens.”

Susan struggled to remember the complex sequence of letters and

numbers that would grant her access to the sealed deck. It seemed as if a fog had settled over her mind and it took an enormous effort of will to overcome it.

The heavy door slid open and she stepped into darkness. It was the first time anyone had been in there since John and Lyta had helped her integrate the alien transport with
Titans’
systems but there hadn’t been a day when she didn’t think about it. Her ship was like her body, an extension of herself, and having the Vorlon craft inside it was like having an unwanted skin cancer, you never forgot it was there. Sometimes she awoke to realize she’d been dreaming of it. In those dreams, she’d be back home, in Russia, and she’d suddenly spot it in the sky overhead.

-17-

RED FURY

It occurred to her there’d never been a dream where she’d gone inside it, never any clue of what lay behind the living Vorlon shell.

As Ivanova moved down the metal walkway, the transport started to glow—a crimson, pulsing light with scarlet accents—revealing itself in the darkness. It looked like a giant, angry squid. There was no doubt in her mind that the pulsating glow was a warning—she wasn’t welcome.

John had told her how he’d got it to cooperate last time. He’d put his hand on it and simply talked to it. She wasn’t John. Wasn’t Vorlon-touched like he was. There was one other thing he’d said though—it had been bored. It had welcomed fighting the Shadow entity that had taken over her ship. And she suspected that was why it had jammed her outgoing signal for reinforcements. It wanted something to do. It wanted to stretch its wings.

She strode towards it with purpose and the living surface of the alien ship warped in response. A long, thick tentacle emerged from its surface, its tip hovering in the air above her, glowing with a strong, yellow light. The point of light came to rest over Susan’s heart. A targeting beam; another warning. One more step and an organic beam weapon would kill her instantly.

“This is your doing,” she said to it. “You wanted this conflict, you blocked my call for assistance, and now you’re going to set things right.”

She took another step forward, the targeting beam shining right in her face. A loud humming filled the deck.

“Kill me if you want, we’re all going to be dead in a minute anyway, so fire away or get that tentacle, or whatever the hell it is, out of my face.”

And, to her surprise, it did.

She took one tentative step after another until she was beside it. It rippled with power, radiated energy. Ivanova had some small telepathic ability, and in the back of her mind a part of her was screaming, yelling at her to turn and run. But she was Susan Ivanova. She was Russian.

She did not give in to fear. Slowly, she placed her hand upon its surface, which was surprisingly warm.

“You know what I want,” she said. “I know you hate anything

touched by the Shadows and out there are two Shadow tech enabled

-18-

RED FURY

ships. Help us destroy them. You’ve been caged up here. I bet you’re itching for a fight.”

Susan could feel its resistance. Then she realized she could sense its thoughts. It was like looking at a deep, fast-running river. She was human; she was nothing. It had stopped her transmission to punish them.

“To punish us? For what?”

Images flashed across the surface of her mind. At first she saw John, except it wasn’t just John. In the mind of the Vorlon ship, John occupied the same space as the first of the First Ones – Lorien. When John had used the Vorlon ship to purge the Shadow tech from
Titans
,
he hadn’t simply asked it, he had compelled it. It was trapped, unable to resist his command. She got the sense it wanted to die but couldn’t kill itself, that was forbidden. The Shadow tech destroyers could though. Since it had been on board
Titans
they were the only enemy they’d come across powerful enough to do the job. Susan realized then that John hadn’t got it quite right. It wasn’t bored, it was in deep despair, it was suicidal.

The Vorlons had gone away. It was the last of its kind left in the galaxy.

“You want to die and take us with you? You’re the last Vorlon

thing left this side of the galactic rim and this is how you honor the memory of your kind? By killing yourself, by letting Shadow tech ships humble you?”

It quivered beneath her touch and radiated a sudden, intense heat.

Susan had to pull her hand away quickly to avoid being burned. She was satisfied she’d hit a nerve. She knew it wouldn’t be hard, the ship’s master was a Vorlon fundamentalist named Ulkesh. It’d been easily provoked too. Killing that Vorlon had been a pain in the ass and Ivanova knew she’d have to tread carefully, she didn’t want to have to go through that again with this ship. She tentatively put her hand back on the ship and was relieved to find the surface had cooled. “You’re compelled to stay where John put you but what exactly are your limitations?” Ivanova asked. “Do you have to stay here? In this exact spot?” Another ripple of feelings and images hit her. At first she saw
Titans
, and then the form of a person, overlaid on top of it. She tried her best to clear her mind, to identify the person, and was surprised to see herself. To the ship there

-19-

RED FURY

was no difference between Ivanova and
Titans
. They were as one and it was bound to serve.

“You’ll stand with us and continue the Vorlon mission,” Ivanova

said. “You can eliminate the last influence of the Shadows and after that you can go wherever you wish. I’ll set you free.”

She felt its acquiescence, a reluctant agreement.

“But on one condition. I want to pilot you. I want to see it done right. You’re on your own in a hostile galaxy. You’ve got to pick a side.

You don’t get to hate everything because it’s not Vorlon.”

The walls of the deck echoed the ship’s scream of denial.

“It’s my way or the highway and the highway’s going straight to hell in less than a minute.”

Another blast struck
Titans
, nearly knocking Susan from her feet.

“You want to die a coward’s death?” she yelled at the ship. “Have that go down as the last thing a Vorlon did in our galaxy?”

There was no reply. The pulsating red light stopped suddenly and Ivanova was left standing in absolute darkness. She tapped the link on the back of her hand.

“Berensen?”

“Star Furies are all down, sir. One more hit and we’re done. What are your orders?”

What could she say? They were sitting ducks and their last hope

had just done the Vorlon equivalent of slamming a door in her face.

And then there was light. A shimmering portal appeared, radiating red-tinged light.

“Thank you,” she whispered beneath her breath.

“Sir?” Berensen’s voice squawked from the link.

“Open up the flight bay, don’t bother with the airlock. I’m about to show whoever’s on those ships that they’ve just made the biggest mistake of their lives.”

-20-

RED FURY

TWO

Susan Ivanova fell upon the two massive destroyers like a hawk

upon its prey.

The moment she’d entered the ship it had been like walking into

a dream—two dreams in fact, running simultaneously. In one she was flying through the air, completely supported on all sides by a great cloud of light. In the other dream she was back behind the controls of her favorite Star Fury, the first one she’d piloted on Babylon 5. That fighter had been like a second skin, she’d felt completely confident when she was strapped into it, and when it was destroyed she’d felt like she’d lost a limb. The two dreams overlapped effortlessly; being inside the Vorlon craft made that way of looking at things seem perfectly natural.

“Hold onto your encounter suit,” Ivanova said. “I’m about to see what you can really do.”

The Ivanova in the bright cloud dream saw thin white threads appear and start to move into her body—the ends of the strands pressing in through the pores of her skin. The more threads that entered her, the stronger the connection she felt with the ship. The strands turned red, one by one, until she realized she wasn’t actually surrounded by a cloud at all, but floating in a cocoon made up of millions of fibers.

The vague awareness she had of the Vorlon ship’s feelings was now transformed into a powerful tide of emotion. Heartache, loneliness, anger, resentment. Ivanova saw now why the ship had agreed to let her pilot it. It needed what it had received from its previous, Vorlon master—a mind to direct and focus its power.

She could feel the ship’s anger—over its forced service on
Titans
, towards the Shadow tech vessels, its fury at being left behind when the others of its kind had moved on—and she channeled those feelings, reminding the vessel of its duty. It was of the Vorlon and these vessels containing Shadow technology were an obscenity. One word entered her mind, forming clearly like a ringing bell—
impure
—the greatest

-21-

RED FURY

Vorlon sin. It wasn’t only the taint of the Shadows that offended it. It was the hubris of the humans who had sought to use it for their own purposes—to sully the purity of a higher species with the fears and desires of lower order beings.

Susan checked the position of
Titans
. Her ship was heading away at a steady pace; both enemy vessels were engaging her. Ivanova came in on a high arc above the two black destroyers. Pulse cannons formed on the side of the ship and fired a chain of rapid beams, targeting and destroying the particle beam cannons of both ships in a devastating display of power.

She whooped with excitement. It was effortless, like taking a swim on a warm summer day. However connected she had been to her Star Fury on Babylon 5, nothing beat the instantaneous response of the Vorlon ship. The second the thought formed in her mind, it acted, and with devastating effectiveness. The ship picked up on her confidence, her emotions and amplified them, and Susan had an insight into what these Vorlon craft were. They were magnifiers—conscious, organic entities, cut from the energetic bodies of their masters and polished until they could focus and enhance their powers. She had hoped to use the Vorlon transport to buy
Titans
more time but the discovery of the raw power locked up in the ship’s relatively small package was a complete and unexpected surprise. Ivanova reminded herself that it was never wise to underestimate the Vorlons.

As she looped back for a second pass she was struck by a swarm of missiles and plasma blasts. They hit hard, knocking her about inside the small craft like dice rattling in a tin cup. Susan felt the heat that struck the ship’s surface as if it were scorching her own skin. She saw now what it meant to be Vorlon, the alien temperament that terrified every other, lesser species in the galaxy. When disaster struck, when pain hit, there was no closing down, no coping mechanisms, no retreat into fantasy or delusion. Vorlons saw things how they were. There was no blacking out, no overload, no shutting down or running away. They

-22-

RED FURY

tackled reality head on, saw it without any filters or buffers.

Susan was amazed to discover that the Vorlon ship could absorb the energy barrage that struck it. She lost track of where the ship started and she stopped. The energy the ship absorbed felt like burning heat in the pit of her stomach. It moved up the center of her chest and pooled in her eyes, waiting to be released.

Ivanova concentrated her attention on the destroyer before her. She was fire and light, focused to a single, white-hot point. She was the ship firing its fusion beam, a concentrated line of energy against which there was no defense. She sped along the destroyer’s port side, slicing it in half.

Susan pulled up and away as the ship exploded. Only one left now.

The fire ran up the middle of her body again and she had to use all her will-power not to destroy the ship instantly. Instead, she managed to focus her gaze so that she disabled its engines and weapons only.

The Vorlon transport railed against her effort to harness it. She’d fed it anger and it wanted nothing more than to ride out that wave and destroy the enemy.

“No. Not yet.”

It was like trying to saddle a bronco. It was one thing to use a human to accomplish its goals but it wouldn’t accept Ivanova dictating terms, telling it what it could and couldn’t do.

“You. Will. Hold,” she ordered.

She wasn’t John; she was no negotiator and the Vorlon knew it. She would give her life rather than let it win, and if she was dead then it would be lost again, without purpose. It yielded reluctantly, holding its power in check.

The Omega-class hung in space, crippled. Susan’s small telepathic ability was greatly enhanced by the ship and her hunch that the Omega-class destroyers were utilizing telepaths was quickly confirmed. There were three of them, all victims, forced to integrate with the ship to give it greater responsiveness.

She wanted answers. Who had set her up? Who had fitted out the

-23-

BOOK: Babylon 5: Red Fury
9.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

E.N.D.A.Y.S. by Lee Isserow
Hiding In His Dreams by Jason W. Chan
Homefires by Emily Sue Harvey
Finding Evan by Lisa Swallow
Shifters, Beasts, and Monsters by Aya Fukunishi, Linda Barlow, Elixa Everett, Virginia Wade, Savannah Reardon, Skye Eagleday, Giselle Renarde, Jessi Bond, Natalie Deschain, Audrey Grace, Francis Ashe, J.E., M. Keep, Christie Sims, Alara Branwen
An Undying Love by Janet MacDonald
Behind Closed Doors by Lee, Tamara
Bad Doctor by Locke, John
Thraxas and the Oracle by Martin Scott