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Transference (Part 2 of 3)

Minbari Home world - 2281

Minbari Home world - 2281

Sheridan was dying. He couldn't really tell much, but his best guess was that he had 4 or 5 days left, a week at most, and he wanted laughs, a celebration, not a wake. He’d planned for this day for some time now and, with Delenn’s assistance, his request was sent to all who shared his life.

At dinner, Garibaldi was telling a story involving a Pak'ma'ra, a dead cat, and a data crystal; Franklin, Delenn, and Sheridan were laughing, while Vir listened intently. Ivanova sat silently, absorbed in her own thoughts.

When the story was over, Vir recalls another incident. Once, on Babylon 5, he and Londo happened to hear a group of Pak'ma'ra singing; a very rare occasion, done for religious reasons but a couple of times a year. It was, Vir said, the most beautiful sound he had ever heard, full of sadness, and hope, wonder, and a terrible sense of loss. Even Londo was moved, a tear running down his face at the sound. "When it was over," Vir continued, "Londo turned to me and said 'There are forty-nine gods in our pantheon, Vir; to tell you the truth I never believed in any of them. But if only one of them exists, then God sings with that voice.' It's funny. After everything we have been through, all he did... I miss him."

Sheridan proposed a toast: "To absent friends, in memory still bright."

They raised their glasses. Garibaldi: "G'Kar."

Vir: "Londo."

Delenn: "Lennier."

Franklin: "Ma..." but Ivanova interrupted: "Marcus." And Talia.

Later that night, Vir was fast asleep on the balcony, as Franklin, Sheridan, and Garibaldi talked. Ivanova looked at them, still silent, and moved away. Delenn followed her, and asked if she was all right. Ivanova claimed she was, but then asked Delenn how she handled it; Delenn had twenty years to prepare. As much as anybody could be ready, she was ready. "But I'm going to miss him terribly, Susan."

"So will I," Ivanova said. "I've buried so many friends, Delenn. I'm beginning to resent it, and I don't want to. It seems like, some days, there's no one left to play with. There's no joy any more."

Ivanova tried to change the subject, asked where David is. Sheridan and Delenn's son was away on a Ranger training mission, and they made it clear when he joined that he would not receive special treatment. Besides, Sheridan wanted to see his old friends, and wanted David to remember his father the way he was.

There was something else Delenn wanted to talk with Ivanova about. When Sheridan refused to accept re-election as the President of the Interstellar Alliance two years ago, Delenn was elected. Unable to devote her attention to the Rangers, she passed the mantle of Ranger One to Sheridan. When he left, she would have to choose a new leader for the Rangers, and she would like a human to maintain the sense of balance she and Sheridan have achieved. In fact, she would like Ivanova to take the job. Delenn knew Ivanova was not happy with her responsibilities at home, and here there would be no politics or bureaucracy in her way. She could create something new, answering only to Delenn. Ivanova thanked Delenn for the offer, but said she'd have to think about it for a while. She thanked Delenn for everything, and went off to bed.

A few months later, shortly after the destruction of Babylon 5, Susan reflected on her past and the people who shared it and looked toward her future.

"Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future, and it changed us. It taught us that we had to create the future, or others will do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for each other, because if we don't, who will? And that strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places. Mostly, though, I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings, even for people like us.”

Ivanova informed Interstellar Alliance President Delenn that, if it were still available, she would like to officially accept the position of leader of the Rangers. Her message was greeted with an immediate request for her to come to Minbar to be sworn in. So, she made plans to pack up and leave – not only her home – but also her career with Earth Force. A quick check up and she would be on her way to begin a new chapter in her life.

“Well, General,” Doctor Franklin said to the currently dressing brunette, “You’re as healthy as you’ve ever been. The only thing I might recommend is removing the grey from your hair.”

“No, thank you, Doctor,” Susan replied as she touched the streaks in question, “Medical advances might keep my body healthy and strong but in my mind I know… I want to remember every day, week, month, and year. This is my way of acknowledging the passing of time.”

Minbari Home world - 2282

Upon her arrival Ivanova was escorted directly to the President’s quarters. The two women embraced and began the process of catching up – a process that involved an equal amount of laughter and tears.

“Susan, what is wrong?”

Clutching at her chest, Susan turned to Delenn. “Oh, it’s nothing really.”

“You seem to be in some pain, how can this be nothing?”

“It’s not really a physical pain as much as an emotional pain that manifests itself physically. At least that’s what I’ve been told by every physician I’ve seen about it.”

“How long has this been so?”

“It’s been almost twenty years, can you believe it! I should have forgotten all about it after all this time.” Running a hand through her hair, Susan went on. “It’s not as if I haven’t experienced any other great physical and emotional upheaval in these past two decades.”

“Perhaps if you speak of it, it will lessen the pain.”

“I’m not sure… I try not to think about it.”

“Perhaps the pain is a way of making you remember? Perhaps you really do not wish to forget, or perhaps the person who caused this wishes you to not forget.”

The pain intensified and Susan grimaced. “Perhaps you are right.” Deciding to take a chance, Susan began to tell Delenn of the events of the best and worst day of her life.

“Do you remember when Lyta Alexander contacted you to get your assistance in arranging a meeting with Babylon Command?” At Delenn’s nod, she continued. “And you are familiar with what took place afterward?” Once again Delenn nodded.

Blowing out a breath, Susan gathered the courage to continue. “What you may not know is that T… Talia and I were close. We’d overcome so much – mostly me and my distrust of telepaths – and we were just at the point…” Susan’s voice broke and her eyes welled up.

Delenn placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “I was aware of your feelings for Miss Winters.” Delenn smiled at Susan’s incredulous look. “During the rebirth ceremony you told me you thought you loved Talia, I was also newly in love at the time Susan, I recognized the signs in you as well.” The tears fell freely now and Delenn gathered Susan into her arms. “You do not have to continue if you do not wish to.”

“No, I think it actually may help to say it out loud. I think you will understand and I know you will keep my confidence.”

“Of course.”

“We’d spent the night together and we’d confessed our love for one another for the first time. It was the most wonderful and most frightening evening of my life.” Taking a few deep breaths to compose herself, she went on. “We made love and I opened up to her, let her feel what was in my heart and mind. She did the same, and all I felt was pure love, no darkness lurking in the corner.”

Angry now, Susan stood and began to pace. “I should have seen it, sensed it, but I didn’t. I couldn’t sleep that night and I always thought it was because I was so emotional. Earlier that evening Talia told me that I was the one person she trusted completely. I believed her, and I gave her my trust in return. How foolish was I, after everything that had happened to me, to trust again? “

“Were you aware of Miss Winters’ activities once she left Babylon 5?”

The question brought Ivanova’s pacing to a halt as she answered, “At first I didn’t want to know, I wanted to forget, but that wasn’t working. When I made some inquiries I was informed that they’d retrieved all the Intel from the control and that they planned to dissect her to study the effects of the mind switch.” Shuddering slightly at this recollection, she continued, “After that I didn’t want to know anymore, I wanted to grieve and move on. I swore I would never speak with my heart again.”

“But you were not successful?”

“At moving on? Not even close. I don’t think I realized just how much I loved Talia until she was gone. I never gave my heart to anyone again, because it was no longer mine to give. Oh, Delenn, why didn’t I see all of this happening… why didn’t I stop it before…” Sighing in exasperation, Susan collapsed into a chair.

“You could not stop what was set in motion that day. What began that day would bring about the end of the tyranny known as Psi-Corp.”

“I don’t understand… what do you mean?”

“It was becoming evident that Psi-Corp had begun to overstep their original purpose. They controlled the telepaths, but they’d managed to wrest control of the economy, the courts, over matter, over thought itself. They needed to be… oh what is that saying? Ah, yes, knocked down a peg.”

“And Talia was involved in this plan?”

“Talia was an integral part of the plan. She had been working with a group of people to bring down Psi-Corps. They had planned to have someone feed false information to the Corps in hopes of weakening them enough to allow other efforts to work at keeping them from regaining their strength. Talia was selected to work on Babylon 5 for a reason, as you now know. What you were not aware of was the fact that counter-measures were in place to foil Psi-Corps plans. Talia was implanted with the ‘Control’ personality, which did in fact take over and erase her original mind. Or at least 90% of it… she was able to retain enough, through Ironheart’s gift, to be able to keep a foothold in her mind.”

“Are you saying Ironheart was involved? Exactly how long was this plan in place?”

“Many people in many places had been working for many years – keeping their eyes on Psi-Corp – ensuring they did not overstep their bounds. A number of alternative plans existed, Talia’s scenario was the most viable.”

“But she changed, she became someone else, someone cruel, I saw it – felt it.”

“Yes, it had to be realistic, she truly underwent the change. The Talia you knew was no more, or so it seemed.”

Rubbing at her eyes, Susan looked up at the woman telling this story. “Delenn, I’m sorry, but it’s been a long day and this story is bringing back some rather unpleasant memories.”

“Please Susan, I will attempt to be brief, but I believe you should hear the remainder of this tale.” At Susan’s tired nod, Delenn went on. “Lyta Alexander was selected to send the trigger for the alternate personality, as you know she went rouge but her connections to Psi-Corp allowed her to get the trigger. When we became aware that Garibaldi and Sheridan had decided to bring Talia into their secret council we knew we had to act quickly. Psi-Corp would never admit to being outsmarted so we knew they would act as if they had no idea how Miss Winters was compromised but they would investigate. Even though Talia was not completely under the alternate personalities control she would still report back some valid information so as not to raise suspicion. At that point what she did know was not very dangerous.”

“Wait. You said we. You were a part of this?”

“Yes, Susan. There were many who played small and large parts in bringing about the demise of Psi-Corp. Many who were willing to pay dearly to see the plan through to a successful conclusion. Many who gave all so that things would be different.”

Sighing tiredly, Susan looked to Delenn. “I wish things could be different.”

“Perhaps things can be different now.” And with that cryptic statement hanging in the air the door to Delenn’s quarter’s opened.