Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with B5 or Crusade, never have, never will. I'm just a fan, showing my appreciation.
Author's Notes: I was a fan of Crusade right from the start, and wish they would bring it back someday. It's funny how old ideas can suddenly be found, and improved upon. I first wrote this story back in August 99, but it got burnt onto CD and lost. I recently found it again, and thought I'd share it. I've rewritten several parts, but the story is essentially the same as it was back then.
01. Distress Call
Stars glittered brightly against the darkness of space, like diamonds scattered across soft black velvet. A single point of light, at the centre of a jump gate, shone brighter than those around it, signalling that a ship was coming out of hyperspace. The jump gate opened, a swirling whirlpool of energy that gave entry to, and exit from, a different kind of space that existed parallel to our own. Distances could be traversed much faster using hyperspace, as long as you stayed on the safe routes. Wander from those paths, and you risked being lost forever, an ageless testament of how much one slight mistake could cost. From within the whirlpool emerged a sleek silver ship, over a mile in length, a hybrid of Human and Vorlon technologies. Slowing its speed, Excalibur slid into orbit around the second moon of a large planet.
"Sir, we're in orbit around the second moon," Matheson reported. Gideon came to stand behind him, looking at the densely forested moon on the view screen.
"Very good Lieutenant. Have we located the source of the distress call yet?"
"Not entirely. It's an old signal and very faint. We've isolated it to a small island in the northern hemisphere."
"Send a couple of probes to the location, to see if we can find any sign of who activated that signal," Gideon ordered, taking his seat. Matheson turned back to the crew seated at the nearest command station, indicating the location to drop the probes. The young telepath stood beside those who served with him, cocking his head slightly at a strange sound.
"What?" he asked, turning around to see who had spoken.
"Lieutenant?" Gideon queried, looking at his second-in-command quizzically.
"I'm sorry sir, I thought I heard something," he replied, his voice confused. He turned back to the view screen, once again hearing the strange noise. He shook his head, trying to rid himself of the unusual hissing sound he was hearing.
"John..." The word was softly spoken, in an accent Matheson didn't recognise, and spoken telepathically.
"Yes?" he answered out loud, wondering who it was that was contacting him this way. He saw Gideon look at him, and held up his hand to stop the captain speaking, his eyes conveying that he would explain later.
"Why do you bother with the speech of the mundanes? It is so much easier this way," the voice asked. The timbre of the telepathic voice, and slightly floral feel that came with it, told John the speaker was female.
"John, what's going on?" Gideon wanted to know.
"I've been contacted by another telepath. She seems a little confused about why I'm speaking out loud."
"Yes sir. The speaker appears to be female. She seems to be happier speaking telepathically..." he explained, his tone apologetic. He kept eye contact with his captain as he concentrated on the unseen speaker. "I speak aloud because my ship mates do not hear, like we do," he told the woman.
"I was beginning to think you had gone deaf, being among mundanes so long," she laughed, her mental presence tinged with yellow and green.
"I am under restraints, working with normals."
"Ah! They fear your gift. Some things never change," she sighed. John felt her sadness and wondered what she had endured for her 'gift'.
"Where are you?"
"On the moon you are orbiting. I crashed here many years ago, and have been unable to leave."
"You were the one who sent the distress call?"
"Yes. I initiated the signal when I crashed. It is so long since it happened, I had all but given up hope of being found." Her tone became tinged with grey in John's mind, and he felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and loss.
"Captain, the signal appears to have been sent by the telepath who has contacted me," he told Gideon, never breaking eye contact. "She says she crashed here some years ago, and has been stranded here ever since."
Matthew looked closely at his first officer, wondering why this stranger had contacted the Lieutenant telepathically. He didn't quite understand why she was flouting the Telepath rules so blatantly. Should she be discovered, the council on Telepath Integration would deal with her, swiftly and brutally. However, they had responded to her distress call, and were under an obligation to investigate.
"Very well. See if she can give us her location. We'll take a shuttle down, and see what help we can offer."
Yes Sir!" John replied. "Can you tell me where on the moon you are? How close are you to the location of the distress call?" he asked the woman.
"My ship crashed on the small island, where the distress call comes from," she told him. "The larger island to the south of it is currently my home."
"She says she's on the island south of the distress call."
"Thank you Lieutenant. Inform her that we will be sending a shuttle down shortly," Gideon replied, getting to his feet. He was about to head down to the flight deck when he saw the look on John's face.
"Oh! You have a Technomage on board!" she laughed, the threads of her presence tinged with blues and greens once more. "Bring him along..."
"Sir, she has requested that Galen join us..."
"I don't know Captain," Matheson shrugged. "She just said she knows we have a Technomage onboard, and asked that he join us."
"Really?" Galen asked, having appeared from nowhere, as he usually did. "How intriguing."
"Is there something I should know, Galen?" Gideon wanted to know, turning to face the man who had saved his life on many occasions.
"No," the Technomage answered. "Are we going then Matthew?"
"It's impolite to keep people waiting, Matthew," Galen admonished. A slight smile spread across his lips as he looked at the Excalibur's captain. Gideon stared at Galen for a moment, trying to determine how much his friend knew. Shaking his head in mild disgust, he turned on his heel and headed down towards the bullet car, curious as to the identity of this unknown woman...
Part 2 coming soon, along with a few surprises ;-)