Disclaimer: Pretty sure that all B5 belongs to JMS. And if not him, the characters and universe still definitely are not mine…
Author's note: I know LoR isn't regarded as great, good or even decent by B5 standards, but I still felt it had potential. Besides, we all know JMS' best stuff is the impressive story arcs, not the one-shots. And you all remember the pilot for B5, don't you? Anyway, for some reason I was inspired to play with the characters and plot setup by To Live And Die In Starlight.
This particular planet wasn't the most attractive, especially for humans that held any love for the blue marble. However, it was ideal for those who wanted to disappear. Wanderers, peddlers, thieves, outlaws, the lost, the lonely… this was their place.
The need to escape past demons had created this world, this city. There were no resources on the dead planet worth utilizing. There was no strategic value to its location. In fact, it was out of everyone's way; Perfect for a colony of lost souls.
All who were running away ended up here, if they ran for long enough.
And this is where Sarah Cantrell's journey had found her. At least, she liked to think of it as a journey. There was something less cowardly about the term. For despite her abandonment of her previous life, she still clung to its ideals and her training. At heart, she was still Anla'Shok.
And so were her senses.
Her ears picked out a specific set of footfalls amongst the busy market street. Not hurried to arrive at a destination or leisurely strolling by the various merchandize and amenities offered; they didn't belong. But the most notable aberration was the fact that they were falling perfectly in sync with her own as she made her way down the dirty, hectic street.
Removing the hood of her cloak from atop her head, she expanded her range of vision while continuing to weave in and out of the foot traffic in order not to tip her stalker(s) off. Supposedly human sight wasn't the best in the universe, and normally Sarah was inclined to disagree, but with these creatures, she had to admit the deficiency. They were hard to look at when facing them straight on. They were near impossible to detect out of the corner of one's eye.
But she knew they were there, even if her eyes couldn't confirm their presence. She'd be a pretty lousy Ranger if she didn't. Of course, one could argue she was quite a lousy one on several counts, or that she could not even be considered amongst their numbers any more.
However, even though she may have broken the most sacred rule and backed down from a fight, if only an emotional one, and cravenly running away, she wasn't about to put others at risk. Anla'Shok were protectors.
There was an alleyway up and to the left a little. She remembered taking a wrong turn once before and ending up in the dead end. Common sense would argue against selecting an arena to face pursuers that disallowed any escape. But common sense wouldn't have one believe that a lone person could walk unscathed out of a fight with half a dozen assailants. In short, common sense didn't take those into account those who walked in the dark places no others would enter.
She squeezed in between two aliens whose mass outdid her own even when taking into account her special condition. Strategically placing a hand on the offending bulk, she supported her large belly and the child growing inside. It was time to employ some of those furtive skills. She slipped around the corner and into the alley with as much stealth as she was presently capable.
Not being a complete fool, Sarah knew better than to place too much faith in her abilities and let her guard down. These people (could she even call them that?) had stalked her before. No, this was nothing new. Almost since she had first run away they had been chasing her. They would not be evaded by such an elementary ruse.
Keeping one hand and arm supporting her end-term belly, her right hand went to the Denn'Bok buried deep in her cloak as she blended into a doorway. There were always arguments against favoring one hand over the other, but in her condition she wasn't about to choose the left just because she had been relying too heavily on her right. If it was stronger, she was going to use it: These bastards did not go down easy.
And there they were. Black cloaks. They always wore black cloaks that obscured their heads. Maybe it was because they were so utterly disturbing to creatures accustomed to seeing faces on their fellow life forms. Instead of features, there was nothing, a smooth black head devoid of eyes, ears, mouths, noses… Just the black skin that was like a starless void except for the veins of subtly glowing deep violet, a violet so deep it was another black. She had found out it was what they bled. At least, before their bodies decomposed within seconds of what she assumed was their deaths. She still hadn't figured out that part.
But with the way things were going, she was about to get another chance.
They had passed by in their creepy, almost floating way. The only reason she knew they had feet was because of the footfalls that echoed off the adobe-like walls. Then again, she had never had time to examine the bodies before they disintegrated into a cloud of particles.
Stepping out of her hiding place, she stood tall and adorned her most intimidating face. When a group of menacing aliens and a Ranger were in a deserted alley that dead-ended, the aliens were the ones in trouble.
"Looking for me?" she asked.
They never answered, at least not in words. Six sets (they always came in posses of six) of hands rose. Long, sleek black fingers slipped away dark hoods, revealing the abyss of faceless heads. And yet, she felt them stare, felt their cold hatred for her.
"I will defend myself," she stated, as she had half a dozen other times. She brandished the Minbari fighting pike, the preferred weapon of all rangers. "I'm giving you this chance to just walk away. I suggest you take it."
Their response was the same as it ever was; the cold hateful stare. This time there seemed to be a bit more arrogance in the feeling she got from them. They seemed to say that she was getting weaker every time she encountered them. They knew that all they had to do was keeping trying her. Eventually, she would no longer be able to fend them off.
If that time was ever going to arrive, did they know it would be that moment? With her belly about to pop, this was as compromised as they'd ever find her. Too bad for them, she had every intention of not only fighting, but winning.
Perhaps, they sensed this in her. Perhaps, they just grew impatient. Either away, they began to advance. Kicking was out of the question with her extra burden of flesh, so she relied primarily on her Denn'Bok. A few, quick, blows smashed two of them in the sides of their sleek, expressionless heads, dropping them to the ground. She had learned their weak spots…or spot (unfortunately, only the one), as it were.
The demonstration caused the others to back off momentarily. She wasn't as feeble as they had expected. Maybe if they realized she still had teeth, they'd retreat, cut their losses and leave.
And it looked as if they were contemplating their options, cocking their heads to the sides as if they were listening to something. More telling, there was a falter in the malevolent aura that seemed to perpetually surround these creatures, at least in Sarah's encounters with them. Yes, she could win this one, hopefully without too much more struggle.
Then, there was a complication. It was the strangest sensation she had ever felt, but she knew precisely what it was the instant her water broke. Labor wasn't to be entirely unexpected, she supposed. This was obviously a stressful situation. Plus, she never knew precisely when she was due, since it could have been any number of times that she and… And being on the run, she hadn't exactly gone to see a doctor, or anyone of a medical persuasion, really. At least, none that knew humans.
Her knees grew weak as muscle spasms permeated her belly, and she backed herself against the nearest wall for support. It fell like she had been stabbed and they were twisting the blade. She cried out.
The assailants, previously hesitant, now began to bear down upon her. She swung her fighting pike in a sloppy but powerful swipe, halting their advance. Her back was to the wall, but she was thankful for it as she desperately fought to stay on her feet.
"Stay back!" she cried out desperately at them, making another threatening swipe. They heeded her threat, but remained close. She felt like a cornered animal. But cornered animals were notoriously vicious, not to mention the ferocity of pregnant ones. And she was just as likely to bite. "I said get back!"
Oh, god it hurt so bad! Why would anyone choose to go through this? Okay, the first time, they wouldn't know better, like she hadn't. But to have another one?!
Sarah found herself sliding down the wall with every passing second. The pain tearing at her insides threatened delirium. Generally, whenever she was injured to the extent of this agony, she'd be on the verge of loosing consciousness. And even with the menacing, evil creatures, she silently begged for it.
Closer, they were getting closer.
Sarah Cantrell forced herself to rise to her feet. Maybe she had left the Anla'Shok. But the Anla'Shok had not left her.
Setting her jaw, she opened her mouth to speak her last.
"We live for the One. We die for the One."
A/N: There is more…