CIRCLES



By

Dana Bell



Three full moons have risen in the darkest sky of star studded night. This is the time of our Clan gathering. A time of joy for our people. It happens but once in ten full turns of the planet. This world we have come to call Bastetus. Our new home since the Great Crossing.

Kitlings jump and play in the tall saffron grasses. Heez, searching for mates, drop wriggling moudons at the feet of select Sheez, proving they would be excellent providers and fathers for kitlings. The Elders watch from their perches on rocks, still warm from the afternoon sun. The heat is a comfort to their old bones.

Yes, it is a joyous time for us. Not just for the matings and the pleasure of being with our kind. (A rare thing anymore. So many of us are scattered amongst the various worlds as Chroniclers.) But also for a sharing of our history. Ours. Human. Minbari. Vulcan. Wookie.

For it is during this time and the telling of these stories that the young ones decide which world or interstellar government they wish to make their lifes' work.

Just I did. Two centuries ago.

I rise to my feet, taking a moment to clean a dirty spot on my white tummy. I see Four Footed One lounging on a nearby rock. I would pay my respect to She who is matriarch for our clan. Beside her is Many Paws. My Grandame's pitch black fur and yellow eyes a sharp contrast to his pure white coat. He peers at me as I approach scrutinizing me with his one brown and one gold eye.

'Grandkit,' Four Footed One greets me.

'Grandame,' I return. I seat myself primly, my long tail wrapped daintily around my white front paws.

Soft Whiskers dashes in front me, her brother, Dare Eye in hot pursuit. They circle the rock of my Grandame and Many Paws, and flop, in typical kitling abandon, in front of the two elders.

'Tell us a story,' Dare Eye announces. As if it was his place to ask.

Soft Whisker swipes at her brother. I think she knows he shouldn't have asked.

Many Paws blinks. He lazily licks his six toed paw.

He is the oldest of the Elders. From what Four Footed One has told me, he was an Elder when she was a kitling. And that was centuries ago! I have also heard, from those who think they know, he was part of the Great Crossing. The only remaining one who made the journey. The only one who would hold the memory of our original home.

Many Paws sits up then. His ancient presence demanding attention from all.



Page 2



'I will grant your request, kitling.'

Awed silence. This is unusual. Many Paws has not told a story since before my Grandame's time.

'Twelve centuries ago,' he began, his voice gruff in our minds. 'There was a Great War.'

Most of us know our history. The second Great War was only two centuries ago. This is one before.

'I was Companion to T'Popal. A Vulcan healer who lived in the desert near Shi-Kahr.' His two eyes sweep the gathering felcats. 'It was day like any other. The desert winds blew, the heat beat down on the fine sand....' he knows he has the attention of all the clan. 'We had a visitor...'



The figure struggling up the hillside caught Many Paws attention. Not because visitors were rare. They weren't. Many from the city came to the healer. But more because the person wore all black. Unheard of in a place of desert heat.

The unusual dress... and the sense of power surrounding him.

Yes. It was definitely a He.

Many Paws stretched and prepared to meet the newcomer. He sauntered over from his favorite niche in the rocks and planted himself right before the visitor.

The figure stopped, kneeling down to pet Many Paws. He allowed the liberty and purred appropriately.

"Welcome." T'Popal stood behind the felcat. Her grey robe fluttered in the faint breeze.

The visitor rose and bowed slightly. "I come with a request, healer."

"I will listen."

It was then the figure revealed his face. It was young human face. Eyes of startling blue and hair the color of sand. He wore a silver belt and what dangled from it...Many Paws couldn't believe it. A light sabre!

" I ask for another." The young man seemed uncertain. "There has been a war."

T'Popal nodded. Many Paws knew she had heard reports of it from those who scouted the skies.

"There is a leader. A leader of war and peace. The allies of his enemy have made it unsafe for him, and his family, to stay on their homeworld. "

"Your request should be made of the Council." T'Popal turned to leave.

"I make the request of you. " Many Paws could see the Jedi hesitate. "This is a personal favor. A repayment."

Page 3

T'Popal faced the knight. Many Paws knew to what the Jedi referred. Half a year ago, a ship had crashed near one of the smaller villages. It had contained eggs. Large green spheres filled with creatures of death. Half the village had died before help arrived. Even then, it had seemed impossible to stop the huge insectoid beings from destroying, not just the village, but the entire planet!

It was then a fighter had appeared. It had contained just one man. A Jedi. In a few days time the invaders had been vanquished and the ship destroyed. The Vulcans had mourned their dead. But, the loss of the katras had been more devastating then the death of the loved ones bodies.

One of the families spared had been T'Popal's brother, wife and two children. The healer owed the Jedi their lives.

"I ask sanctuary for them." The Jedi waited.

T'Popal considered. Many Paws knew the expression. The far away look in her midnight eyes. The slight tilt of her head, her long ebony hair swaying. She nodded. "I grant it."

The Jedi bowed again. " I will bring them. Soon." He turned on his boot heel and strode away. ############################################################################ ####

A desert storm raged outside the cave. Many Paws settled more snugly on his bed of soft fabric. T'Popal sat in the corner of their warm abode meditating. The old cat knew, from long acquaintance, it would be hours before she was ready for any feline company. He settled his tired head on his front paws. Time for a well earned nap. He had spent his afternoon patrolling the cave and the hill area around his home. It was free of pests.

Suddenly, T'Popal's eyes flew open. Many Paws was already on his feet. He had heard it too.

Stones sliding, disturbed by feet. Probably someone from the city. There were several babies due.

A figure wearing a black cloak entered. Behind him came a family. A tall male dressed in grey robes , carrying a very small child. Beside him stood a woman, obviously pregnant, and beside her, a young boy.

They were an odd looking group. All had domed heads, a bone crest running on the sides and behind their skulls. The man had a piercing gaze. The woman was more demure, seeming to prefer looking at the floor than at them. The children, by how they hung on their parents, were obviously scared.

Many Paws decided there was no reason for them to be. He left his bed and trotted over to the boy.

"Meroww," he greeted.

The boy clung even tighter to his mother.

"This is the family I spoke of," the Jedi stated.

T'Popal inclined her head. "They are welcome." She turned her eyes to the man. "I am T'Popal. I am a healer. You are welcome to stay in my home for as long as is needed."

"That could be a long time," the man said. Page 4



"You'll be safe here." The knight told him. He paused, as if listening to something. "I have to go. I must cloud our trail so none will find you."

"Thank you." The man inclined his head respectfully. "Luke."

The Jedi smiled. It was warm smile. Briefly, Many Paws saw a very young innocent this knight once must have been.

"It was a pleasure." He turned then to T'Popal. "Thank you."

The healer bowed her head.

The Jedi left . The dark night seemed to swallow him up.

"I have a place prepared for you and your family." With silent step his Companion lead them down a side tunnel and into a much larger cavern than he and she normally occupied. Clear balls radiating light perched on long staffs were placed strategically in convenient cracks along stone walls.

Comfortable beds had been provided. Most from T'Popal's family. Other articles from various families in Shi-Khar. Vulcans, although austere, were always considerate hosts. They had traveled among the stars for centuries. Contact with other races had taught them to appreciate diversity.

Many Paws surveyed the combined effort of the community with satisfaction. Food for their guests, as soon as they knew what could be safely consumed, would be provided daily from many gardens. Shi-Kahr had always met the need of their healers. It was tradition.

The man took in the room and the thoughtful arrangement. He smiled.

Many Paws sensed the magnetism of him.

"Thank you again."

"You are welcome. I will leave you now. I am certain it has been a long and tiring journey. You will wish to rest."

'They're probably hungry,' Many Paws reminded her.

"I can bring food and drink," she added.

"Some water. For the children." He placed the small child he had been carrying on one of the beds. "And my wife." He went to the woman and helped her sit on another of the beds. The boy sat next to her.

"Not for yourself."

The man's eyes of spoke a great sadness. "Please. I ...tend to forget about myself."

"I will return soon." T'Popal left.

Many Paws stayed. The change in his daily routine interested him.

Page 5

"And just who are you?" He knelt down to gently stroke the felcat's head.

'Many Paws.'

The strange humanoid jumped. His green eyes narrowed. "Telepath."

There was an odd undercurrent to that. A distrust.

'You are?' There had been no real introductions.

"It is not polite to inquire." T'Popal reminded him as she entered, carrying a gold tray. There was a glass pitcher filled with water, several mugs and some fruit.

Many Paws knew from the long friendship with humans, most Vulcans learned which of their fruits were safe for humans to eat. Considering the selection, the healer must be assuming their physiology was similar.

"I must be in Shi-Khar in the morning," T'Popal answered the unasked question on the man's face.

"I appreciate the forethought." The man took the tray and placed it on a large flat rock.

"I will leave you to your rest." Her eyes met the felcat's. "Come."

Many Paws glared at her. As was typical for his kind he preferred to do what he wanted. When he wanted.

The healer left the cavern. Many Paws looked at the family and proceeded to wash a dirty spot on his shoulder. First things first.

He heard the man laugh. "Just like a cat."

A cat? He was more evolved than that. That was insulting. He rose to his feet, tail twitching his annoyance . Cat indeed. He stode to the entrance. He had a well deserved nap yet to take.

"Many Paws," he heard the humanoid call.

He looked over his shoulder at their guest.

"My name is Valen." ############################################################################ ######

Valen! The Minbari have many legends about this one! I creep a little closer to Many Paws. He has paused in his story. His two colored eyes blinks at us all. With great dignity he pushes himself up and stretches languidly. He lifts his aged muzzle to the sky.

The moons are high now. Almost time for the mating dances.



Page 6

The oldest Elder reseats himself on the cooling rock. The air is crisp. Clean. Expectancy hangs.

'The sun rose and fell many times,' he continues. 'The storm season had begun.'



The normally bright sky was pitch black. Gritty sand whirled around the entrance and crept into the sanctuary of the cave. Many Paws licked his fur furiously. He hated the continuous storms. His fur always felt dirty and his eyes constantly watered. The howling wind hurt his ears and he never seemed able to get a decent nap.

Valen approached the entry way and gazed into the whipping darkness. "It reminds me of the final battle on X'Ha'Dum," he commented.

The statement caused the felcat to stop his bath. He gazed at the Minbari. (He had finally learned what these strange humanoid creatures called themselves.) With gentle skill born of centuries of practice he peeked into Valen's mind.

He say anthropoid creatures, dark and scaly, hurrying on a barren dead planet. Flashes of light filled the sky. A hum echoed in the night. A giant explosion and indignant screams of anger. And a deep sense of loss.

Valen's.

Many Paws withdrew his mental touch. The scenes were in no particular order. He supposed the only way to make sense of it all was to ask. 'Tell me. Please.'

Valen fixed the felcat with his oddly intense eyes. "The Minbari were losing." His voice filled the room.

Many Paws noticed T'Popal listening while she peeled vegetables for the evening meal.

"That's when I appeared. In Babylon 4. I brought with me a new ally. The Vorlons. " Valen sat on deeply niched boulder. He was not the first to use it as a chair.

The old felcat sat primly listening. This would be a good addition to his chronicles.

"We finally took the battle to the Shadows home, X'Ha'Dum." For a moment the Minbari leader was silent. Many emotions warred on his strong face.

They passed too quickly for Many Paws to read accurately. He waited, with a patience that came easily to his kind. In his youth, he had hunted moudons for the favors of sheez. To catch the wily rodents took great cunning and much waiting. A lesson he had learned well.

A lesson which served him now.

"Our battle plan was sound. We would wreck havoc and ruin on the planet itself. Destroy as many of their ships as possible. I couldn't afford." he stopped himself suddenly.

There was more. The felcat sensed it.

Page 7

"But they were ready for us. They caught us in a cross fire. " The Minbari took to his feet, slowly pacing between T'Popal and Many Paws. "Babylon 4 took heavy damage. I knew the station would not survive the battle." He drew a deep breath. "I was going to ram one of their mother ships, but before I could several ships suddenly appeared."

Out of the corner of his eye, Many Paws watched T'Popal place vegetables into a steamer and set them over the heating stones. Those stones were always a comfort to his aging bones.

"They helped us destroy the ships in the air. Luke Skywalker rescued myself, and my crew, from the station. " Valen sat down once again. " I set the self destruct and set the course for their capital. " His eyes burned with anger. " I wanted to take out as many as the Shadows as I could."

"Violence solves nothing," T'Popal commented.

" I know," the Minbari conceded. "After the station did its work, the Jedi and as many warriors as I could spare, continued the battle on the surface. We killed hundreds of Shadows."

The anthropoid creatures.

"The Jedi seemed to go after them with a vengeance. I 've never heard of a light sabre. But I certainly saw the result of their use."

Vengeance? The Jedi? Many Paws was very curious about that.

"At least the Shadows won't be back for a VERY long time." ############################################################################ ########

And they were not. Valen's strategy kept them at bay for a thousand years. I heard Delenn speak of the battle many times. Not with Jedi, of course. Valen did not record THAT in the official Minbari history,. Their involvement only became common knowledge two centuries ago. During the era of Babylon 5.

Luke himself told the story.

But my thoughts wander. Many Paws has not yet finished his story.

"It was the same night Valen's wife delivered her child."



"Work with the pain," T'Popal instructed.

The Minbari woman tried. Many Paws could see her struggle. She, who was Valen's wife, grew weaker with each contraction. The Great War, as it was becoming called, had taken much of the fight from her.

"Push," the healer told her.

The woman tried. Perspiration beaded her bald head.

Valen knelt beside her. "Don't give up, Kara."

Page 8



Her trembling hand took her husband's. Even the felcat could see death in her grey eyes.

"I will not live to see this child," she whispered. "Take it." She lay back in the sweat stained cushions. Her straining body feebly struggling to free the still unborn child.

Conflict on the great leaders face. Sorrow. Resolve.

"Do as my wife asks."

T'Popal nodded. She kept the instruments of her profession close at hand. She placed her hands on the woman's face. "My mind to yours."

Mind meld. It would ease her pain. Many Paws rubbed against Valen. He offered what comfort he could. The Minbari's hand stroked the felcat, as the other continued to hold his wife's.

T'Popal did her work quickly. A few moments later the child was drawing in its first breath. The healer cleaned and wrapped it, placing the small bundle in its father's arm.

Valen cradled the infant close to him. His wife's limp hand still resting in his. "She's beautiful, Kara."

Many Paws saw the tears in the leader's eyes. He did not know if they were for happiness or sorrow.

"Your wife is dead," T'Popal informed him.

The Minbari nodded.

There was something odd in Valen's manner. Maybe it was the way he stared at the baby.

The felcat stood up on his hind feet and looked at the child. He turned his white muzzle quizzically and blinked this two colored eyes. The expression on the leader's face was one of recognition. Shamelessly Many Paws viewed Valen's thoughts.

'My child carries the soul which will become Delenn's." ############################################################################ ########

"As you all know, the Minbari believe that when one of them dies, their soul is born into the next generation, thus keeping them strong and wise as a race."

This is true. I know from the conversations I had with Delenn it was a shock for them discover, during the Earth-Minbari two centuries ago, Minbari souls reborn into humans.

I watch as Many Paws settles himself comfortably on his stone. His eyes close and soon he is napping. The throng of us who had gathered to hear the story began to disperse. Sheez begin gathering their kitlings and leading them to secure nests.

Soft Whiskers soulful eyes met mine. Dare Eye has scampered off.

A soft breeze ruffles my fur. The night is full. Alive. It is time for the mating dances. I nudge the kitling with my nose. She needs to go to her mother and sleep. Page 9



We leave the Elders napping.

'Long Tail,' Soft Whiskers speaks. 'Would you tell me of the second Great War?'

'Not tonight, my dear. There's your mother. Happy hunting dreams.'

Her silky grey fur shimmers in the moonlight. Her mother touches her kitling's nose and they amble off.

I do not think I will chose a mate this gathering. It is my right. I hear the calls of the dance begin. In my still young bones I feel the glee of our kind. The joy. This is the our gathering.

And our stories.

This is the fifth story in the Felcat sereis. The Felcats are an original and copyrighed universe beloning to the author. Written permission must be obtained from this writer.