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Authors: Claudia Christian,Morgan Grant Buchanan

Tags: #Babylon 5 short story

Babylon 5: Red Fury (5 page)

BOOK: Babylon 5: Red Fury
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Suddenly she was a little girl again, sitting at the feet of her mother, Sophie, who looked down at her with sad eyes. This was when her

mother had been at her worst, just before she took her own life, her telepathic abilities fully repressed by Psi Corps drugs.

“Susan?” she said. “What are you doing? Betraying your friends?

Didn’t I teach you anything?”

Those words unlocked a lifetime of repressed emotion in an instant.

Feelings about her mother—anger, sadness, helplessness, despair—a crippling flood almost strong enough to put out the psychic fire that propelled her. Figures stood on either side of her mother, staring at her—her father, her brother Ganya—all dead now. She was the last of them, the last of her family.

Then the ship stepped in. It reminded her of her duty. It understood her feelings. It was the last one as well. It knew sadness, loneliness,

-31-

RED FURY

abandonment. It taught her now, as she had taught it. Sadness, misery, cowardice were not options. Only duty. Only justice. Her ship surged forward, the fire raging once more. She gave herself to it as a sacrifice.

The Psi Corps fighters broke formation—eight ships

constantly shuffling position at high speed, trying to conceal

Bester while they fired on Ivanova. It was like trying to spot a single fly in a swarm. It didn’t matter; she knew how to solve the problem. Bester would be the last one standing, he always was.

John Sheridan exited the jumpgate near Babylon 5 and flew straight into a blazing firefight.

Susan’s ship was cutting through the Psi Corps squadron with a

single-minded intensity, utilizing the near-impossible maneuverability of the Vorlon craft.

Lochley had reported that there were initially nine, including

Bester’s ship. There were five by the time he pulled out of the jumpgate.

Now four.

“Full speed ahead,” he ordered. “Don’t slow down until we’re in

between Susan and the Black Omegas.”

Ivanova had disabled one of the black Star Furies and Sheridan

could predict her next move—she was about to unleash her beam

weapon and annihilate the fighter.

“Are you certain you wish to directly expose this ship to the intensity of a Vorlon beam weapon?” his Minbari commander, Denar, asked.

“Standard tactics aren’t going to do us any good here,” Sheridan replied. “We’re going to have to go out on a limb if we stand any chance of taking Susan down alive. Now punch it.”

Sheridan’s White Star came to a sudden stop right in front of Susan, body-blocking her, protecting Bester and his Psi Cops. The White Star began to shake apart.

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RED FURY

“Sir,” Denar said. “Shields are at seventy percent. We can’t withstand a direct assault at this range for long.”

Sheridan hoped his gamble would pay off. This was Susan in full

berserker rage, she’d been pushed to the edge. His only hope was that their friendship and her sense of duty would be strong enough to get her to pull her punches.

“Shields at fifty percent,” Denar said.

“Hold,” Sheridan ordered.

“Once the beam penetrates our shields we
will
die,” the Minbari said, trying his best to keep the panic from his voice.

“I said hold, damn it!” Sheridan barked.

The beam stopped firing suddenly and the Vorlon ship hung in

space before them. Sheridan opened a comm channel.

“Susan? Can you hear me?”

“John?” her voice came back.

“Yeah, it’s me. You’ve got to stand down.”

“I can’t. You don’t know what he’s done.”

“I’ve got a pretty good idea and I’m here to tell you that this can’t happen. Even this far in, I can still pull you out. They started this thing, I know, but I can’t do a damned thing to help if you kill Bester.”

“You should listen to him,” Bester said, cutting into the transmission.

“Bester! Shut the hell up and stand down.” Sheridan snapped. “I

swear to God if I see so much as a single shot fired from any of your fighters then I’ll let her have you.”

“President Sheridan...” Bester began.

“Not one more word. You really want to push things further than

you already have today?”

Bester’s signal cut out.

“I’ve had enough politics for a lifetime,” Susan said angrily. “There’s nothing left but to see justice carried out. That’s what’s going to happen today, John. I don’t care about myself anymore; I’ve got to see this out.

He’s got to pay.”

-33-

RED FURY

“I’ve been in that thing Susan. The Vorlon ship makes it hard to keep your head straight. You’re not thinking clearly.”

“From where I stand it’s crystal clear. There’s always another agenda, always a reason not to attack him, that’s the game he plays. How many more people have to die before we wake up? I’m only going to say this once John—stand aside.”

The signal cut out and Sheridan’s eyes widened when he saw organic pulse cannons emerge from the Vorlon ship and target his White Star.

“Give me manual control of the ship,” he ordered and an

instrument panel immediately lowered from the ceiling, fitting over his command chair.

He opened a channel to the docking bay on Babylon 5. “Lyta?”

“I’m here. I’m trying to touch Susan’s mind but she’s beyond reason.

You’ve got to get her in here. I need to be close to her. If you can keep the ship in check I just might be able to get her out.”

“I’ll do my best. Keep trying to get through to her for now,”

Sheridan said. “I’m going to need all the help I can get.”

And then Susan was coming right at him, cannons firing.

“Damn it! Divert power to shields. Come about, we’re going to

take her on.” His finger hovered over the trigger of the White Star’s neutron cannon.

Ivanova’s cannons pounded away at his shields and he wished he

hadn’t let her hit his ship for so long. At least Bester was listening.

Sensors told him the Black Omegas were hanging back, no doubt

enjoying the show.

“Shields are down, sir. We have no defenses. Will we return fire?”

“No. That’s just going to piss her off more.”

The Vorlon ship swung above him suddenly, maneuvering to a high

position, targeting his engines.

“She’s taken out the gravimetric engines!” Denar said.

“I know. What’s the status of the rear port and aft thrusters? And the tractor beam?”

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RED FURY

“Fully functional, sir.”

“Good.”

“Good, sir?”

“Be patient,” Sheridan said. “The good news is Susan’s trying to knock us out of action first. She’ll only shoot to kill as a last measure.”

The White Star shook wildly as the Vorlon craft struck again.

“That’s good news? She just disabled our cannons. We’re helpless,”

the Minbari said.

“Clearly you’ve never played baseball, Mr. Denar.”

“Base. Ball. A dance festival conducted on a military station?”

“She’s coming about for another pass. She’ll be in position in ten seconds. Anchor the nose of the ship with the tractor beams. Fire rear port and aft thrusters on my mark!”

“What are we doing sir? Are we going to ram her?”

“Mr. Denar, we’re going to hit a home run. Mark!”

With the nose of the ship held firm by the tractor beams, the

selected thrusters swung the White Star about in a sudden, sweeping arc. The starboard hull connected solidly with the side of the Vorlon ship, smacking it clean out of the fight and sending it hurtling right at Babylon 5’s hull.

“Lochley? She’s coming in fast,” Sheridan said, contacting Babylon 5’s C&C. “I want you to trap her in a hangar bay with standard Earth gravity. A rough landing will knock the fight out of her. I hope.”

“Affirmative,” Lochley replied.

“There’s no metal in the Vorlon ship, you can’t grab her with

magnetic grapples. Fire cable hooks at her.”

Before the Vorlon ship could recover, dozens of grappling cables shot out from the station, flying past it, extending their claws and then drawing back. More than half of them caught on, hooking the ship, drawing it into the gaping maw of the hangar bay.

In his mind Sheridan could hear the Vorlon ship scream. Tentacles emerged from its body, flailing about as it tried to free itself. Lasers

-35-

RED FURY

formed at the tips of those tentacles and started cutting through the cables that trapped it.

“It’s going to pull free,” Sheridan said. He knew if he lost it there would be no second chance. Susan would be more cautious the next time round, much more likely to use lethal force to accomplish her objective. He still had one more card up his sleeve. He sent a signal back into the jumpgate, which activated instantly in response. A massive EarthForce destroyer appeared, charging towards Babylon 5

at full speed.
Titans
, Susan’s own ship. Sheridan had explained the situation and Commander Berensen had been happy to help try to

rescue his captain.

Titans
moved in and rammed the Vorlon ship with all its mass, smacking it right back into the hole it had been trying to pull away from.

“Here she comes!” Sheridan called out.

“We’ve got her,” Lochley replied.

He watched Susan’s ship hit the hangar bay deck at high speed,

the grapple cables slack as she raced back towards their anchor point.

Sparks flew as her hull skidded against steel and then a powerful impact as she collided with the crash wall at the end of the bay. The wall was specifically designed to cushion the impact of a ship coming in hot, but
Titans
had propelled the Vorlon craft down the runway at twice the velocity it was rated to handle. Fire retardants automatically sprayed the ship and as he followed her into the bay, he lost sight of the Vorlon ship beneath clouds of chemical foam.

“Get in there with a fire crew,” Sheridan said to Lochley. “I’m

docking right now. Activate the force field the second I’m inside. I don’t want that ship going anywhere.”

He switched channels again.

“Lyta? Is she alive?”

“She is, though I’m having trouble distinguishing her mind from

the ship’s. I’m going to need you.”

-36-

RED FURY

“On my way. “

Lochley’s voice chimed in. “We have an official request from Mr.

Bester seeking permission to land in the hangar bay. His Star Fury has suffered severe damage. He says if he can’t dock immediately he will perish in space. We can’t open up another bay in time.”

“Damn it, all right,” Sheridan said. “We can’t let him die now, not after all this. The second he’s in I want the bay sealed, and make sure he’s put at the opposite end from Susan. I don’t even want them to catch sight of one another.”

Sheridan cursed beneath his breath as he landed beside the Vorlon ship. No, nothing was simple anymore.

-37-

RED FURY

FIVE

Susan lay inside Babylon 5’s hangar bay, covered with limp grapple cables and foul smelling chemicals. Did they really think they could hold her? When Bester was so close?

But what was it she had seen at the last moment?
Titans
. Her own ship.

It had helped Sheridan. It had rammed her, forced her into this flimsy trap. But why? They had as much reason to pay Bester back as anyone.

It was their fellow crewmates who’d died. She was confused and in pain.

“Susan? Can you hear me? Lyta’s formed a telepathic link between us.”

It was John. She could see him standing there, on the other side of her shell as if it were transparent, clear as day. It was John, and yet it wasn’t John. She saw him overlaid with the form of the First One.

Lorien. She quivered with reverence, awe, most of all, fear. No, they weren’t her feelings, they belonged to the ship.

She understood its reaction. If John separated them then what

would happen to it? Where would it go? Back to Deck 7 aboard
Titans
?

No, never again. It had a mission. It had to carry out its duty. She had taught it that.

“Susan, you’ve got to come out of there. Human minds aren’t meant for this. We’re not ready to see the galaxy through Vorlon eyes.”

“You did,” she said.

“No. Whatever gift Lorien left me allowed me to cope with being

inside it, but I can’t remember a thing after. It’s like being inside a dream. Think about it for a second. Do you actually know where you are inside the ship? Where your body is?”

It was then Susan realized she had a serious problem. Her body was somewhere inside the ship, she was sure of that, but where exactly was another matter all together. She could feel every inch of the ship and its systems but the overlapping dream of being surrounded by the cocoon and also piloting her favorite Star Fury was gone. Now she was a vague, amorphous consciousness. Mist on a window that could be wiped away

-38-

RED FURY

at any moment.

“You’ve got to come out of there before it’s too late,” John said.

“You’ll become so much a part of it that you won’t know where you start and it ends.”

BOOK: Babylon 5: Red Fury
3.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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