Summary: Cartagia dies. G'kar collapses outside the Centauri palace, and T'lon is there to pick him up. After realizing the other man's battered condition, he takes him to the safest place he can think of...his own house. Which is how he ends up nursing the most influential man on the planet...and giving him some good advice.
Chapter One: Fateful Day
T'lon stood still, and resisted the urge to shift his weight. He had been here, in the long corridor that led to the main Centauri palace, for the entire night, and a part of the day prior. He was tired of standing, and he was hungry. But he had sworn he would be here, and so he was. And so he would remain, until his purpose was carried out.
He watched the red sun rise through the windows. His heart sped up just a fraction. It was beginning. Today, the hopes of his people would be shattered, or saved. Most likely shattered, he knew.
Today was the day of the public execution of one Citizen G'kar, last surviving member of the Ka'Ri. Former Narn Ambassador to Babylon 5.
He had come himself, and come early, in order to be sure of being in a place where he could clearly see G'kar when the man was brought to Cartagia. He needed to be there, a part of an oath he had sworn to himself, and to G'kar, though G'kar did not know it. A blood oath, as binding and sacred as an oath before G'quan's altar.
When the Centauri had attacked and invaded their world, G'kar had counseled patience, and peace, and passive resistance. He had thought it coward's talk, like so many of his people. Until he had met G'kar, watched him, listened to him speak. And then...
G'kar's courage had astounded him. His willingness to face anything and everything, regardless of personal cost. His eloquence in speaking for himself. The truth had been all too evident in his words when he pointed out what silence gained them, in help and safety and needed supplies and lives spared. So had the truth when he pointed out the consequences of rash action and violence taken too quickly and without thought.
As a warrior, T'lon himself understood the tactics and advantages to delaying one's strike. But he had not thought to see that understanding in an Ambassador, a politician. Much less see the courage and strength of will to hold one's ground, when literally an entire world stood against him. But G'kar had it. Had courage and wisdom and foresight and strength. Had G'kar been a warrior trained, he would have been the mightiest of sword bearers.
He had challenged G'kar, to test his premise. And G'kar had not disappointed him. Faced with a drawn ka'toc, he had not quailed. Had not retreated. He had only snarled in outrage that T'lon would force violence upon him, while knowing where he stood. Only scowled, and dared T'lon to cut his throat, if he was sure that his conviction of what must be done was an act of cowardice.
He remembered his words to G'kar that day. 'Your sword...is in your heart, and no one can take it from you.' And in those words, he had admitted that G'kar had become the second man in his life to whom he would give his loyalty, and trust with his honor. John Sheridan, the human who had saved him from the alien prison and it's torments, had been the first. G'kar's honor and strength burned every bit as bright as the human's, and won his respect no less completely.
That was why he had bathed his blade in his own blood, and sworn an oath to serve G'kar as he served Sheridan. To protect him, to fight by his side, to defend his honor. He had failed in that, when G'kar had left the station without him. But then, G'kar had been the one to ask him to stay, to lead the Narns who guarded the station for Sheridan and Garibaldi. He could hardly have refused the request.
But he had remembered his oath, and that was what had brought him here today.
He had heard of G'kar's capture, and rumors that G'kar was held by Cartagia himself. He had heard darker rumors as well. Rumors of what Cartagia did to his captives, the vile cruelty he visited upon them. Rumors of torture, of humiliation and agony and worse. Rumors that made even his battle-hardened nerves crawl.
And so he had come here, to see what had become of G'kar. And to decide what his course of action was to be.
If G'kar had been broken, then he would kill him. Quick, efficient and painless. He hadn't been allowed to bring his sword or his knives into the corridor but that didn't matter. He knew plenty of ways to kill with his bare hands. It would take him less than 10 seconds, if done properly. Of course, he'd probably die shortly after, but he counted it well worth the cost.
If G'kar had not been broken...there was where his conundrum lay. If G'kar had not been broken, what would he do? To send a man like G'kar to die in the manner that Cartagia would most likely choose was almost unthinkable. G'kar deserved a death of honor, and of dignity. If he could not be saved, then he at least deserved to be sent on by one who had a warrior's honor. And if possible, by one who had some measure of respect for him. Cartagia would give him a death not worthy to be given to the lowest of scum.
But then, G'kar knew of fighting, and of dying. A warrior with enough ingenuity and courage could always find a way to die. G'kar most certainly had courage and intelligence enough, if that was to be his choice. Which meant, if he had not broken and he had not yet died, that he had some plan, some choice in the manner of his passing that had yet to be fulfilled. It would be wrong to interfere with that. If G'kar had chosen a manner to die before Cartagia, to end his life in honor, then it was not his place to step in, but rather to wish the warrior well in his final journey, and salute his passing with the respect it deserved.
And if, by some chance, it looked as though G'kar needed help, he could offer that too. To die beside the man, or shield his life, if required.
T'lon took a deep breath. He would wait. When he saw G'kar, he would know.
Time passed. Other Narns joined him. Centauri guards kept an isle clear for the prisoner and his escort to walk through. Behind that barricade, Narns gathered, until no more would fit, until the narrow space was packed with sad faces and mournful whispers.
The sun rose higher. And then he heard it. The slow, ominous, steady thump of a drum. The faint jingle of chains. The shocked and horrified whispers. T'lon felt himself tense, then relax, his body preparing itself to spring forward if needed.
Finally, G'kar came into view. T'lon felt his fists clench in helpless sympathy and rage.
G'kar's once strong frame was emaciated, as though he had been starved. The shirt draped over him was so ripped and torn and filthy that calling it a rag was charitable. His hands were chained to a stock, balanced heavily on shoulders that looked bruised and broken. G'kar's body, what could be seen of it, was covered in blood and dungeon filth, old wounds and new layered over his skin so that it seemed as though no place on him could be unmarked. A rag was tied over one eye, and from the way it lay against his face, T'lon suspected the eye beneath it was gone. He was staggering. He looked weary, and at the end of his strength.
As he watched, G'kar stumbled into the crowd on the opposite side of the corridor from him. Three Narns rushed to help him up. He heard the low murmur of G'kar's voice. He couldn't hear what G'kar said, but he saw clearly the faces of the three who lifted him so gently to his feet.
There was hope, and fragile new courage in their eyes. And determination. Then the guard pulled G'kar back around, sent him stumbling the other direction, and T'lon saw his face.
His remaining eye was fever-bright, but within the fever T'lon saw the flame that he had recognized on Babylon 5. Determination. Strength. Conviction. Courage. G'kar's face was not the face of a broken man, no matter how his body betrayed his tortured barely-alive state. The look in his eye held neither fear of dying nor resignation to it.
G'kar looked like a man preparing for a fight. A warrior preparing for battle.
He had something planned. T'lon could see it in his gaze, in his eye and the set of his jaw. Whether it was the manner of his death, or something far more powerful, something far more audacious, he had no idea. But G'kar most certainly had something planned this day.
He let himself relax, though his fists remained clenched. He would not interfere. Even if G'kar's only plan was to provide a firestorm of fury with his death, he would not interfere. Instead, he saluted the man as he passed. He was on G'kar's blind side, and doubted the Narn saw him. It didn't matter.
G'kar stumbled onward, shoved through the doors into the Centauri palace. T'lon watched him go. He had no doubts about how this day would end, really. He was too pragmatic to believe it would end in anything other than G'kar's death, most likely a painful and humiliating death. But he would remember G'kar's courage. He would stand witness to G'kar's final stand, to his final actions. He would be the man's honor guard, though G'kar knew it not. He would remain, until the thing was done and the body disposed of. And whether the Centauri tossed it in a garbage heap to degrade G'kar's memory, or made an example of him, he vowed he would rescue the remains and give G'kar an honorable burial. And if they burned the body, he would gather the ash. And if there was nothing left to gather, he would say the rites anyway, for the burial of a warrior, and invite the world to speak with him.
However things transpired, he would see that the Narn people, and the humans whom G'kar had cared for on Babylon 5, knew of his passing, and marked it as the death of a courageous and honorable man. A man worthy of respect, of song and of legend.
The doors closed behind the Centauri guards. T'lon shifted his weight slightly and relaxed, then settled in to wait for whatever transpired.
Author's Note: And so it begins...