Illusion in the Night by DD Agent

Chapter Three

I seem to be operating on a chapter every other day basis. Which I suppose is a good thing because this story will go on a two-week hiatus next week when I go on holiday! I was planning to do some work on my History coursework, but I had John tapping his foot in front of me so alas, I decided to churn out chapter three. :D

Disclaimer and spoilers are the same as previous chapters, and I'm thinking of new ways to bribe JMS. Perhaps I will bring him back something nice from my holiday in exchange for Sheridan. I could live with just him!

Enjoy ladies and gents, as the plot doth thicken…

X

She could hear two female voices outside the door, and decided to hide under the bed. It was musty, and Samantha had the feeling that she'd go under there and find the rotting corpse of Susan Ivanova's last victim but thankfully it was just her and a silver box. Knowing that curiosity killed the cat and would have no trouble hurting her, she tried to avoid prying.

One of the women sat on the bed; the other resided on a chair in the corner. From the voices she could hear, Samantha assumed that it was Ivanova and President Delenn having a conversation.

"And that stupid kid came in and asked for the papers about Marcus. The chance that they'll be able to wake him up is the only thing that…I wasn't going to allow her to get her hands on them," Ivanova explained.

"I know Susan. But sometimes you have to let go of the things you love no matter how much it hurts."

"Like you've done with John and his pictures? David's worried, hell I'm worried about what you're going through. Delenn it's been five years." Samantha felt her heart break for Delenn, but she was drawn to the box again. It taunted her, but she resisted opening it.

"It's been twenty five for Marcus and you still won't let him go. Why should I let John go Susan? I can barely look at David without seeing his father, I'm reminded by John everywhere I turn."

"I know what its like Delenn, I do. Listen, I'll make you a deal. I'll give Marcus' cousin the papers and you bring all the photos of John out of your room. Agree?"

"Agree," Delenn whispered after a short pause. Samantha banged her head against the hardwood floor as loud as she dared. This whole escapade had been for nothing, so she threw caution to the wind and turned to the box. She opened the clasps gently and inside was photos, the sort of small ones that you keep for sentimental purposes. She recognised most of the photos as belonging to her family, her mother and grandmother were in a few. Marcus' belongings, Samantha realised. Scraping the bottom of the box she came across his Ranger pin. It was beautiful, the jewel in the middle deep like the ocean.

"The papers were right here. Right here! Damn it, David!" Both women left the room, and Samantha felt her chest tighten in fear. Pocketing the Ranger pin she got up from the side of the bed and slowly tip toed out of the room. Looking around, she watched as David talked to his aunt and mother about her. The look on Ranger One's face was pure fury. She directed two of the Rangers in the compound to look around and she joined them in the search. David helped his mother back to her room, her eyes barely lingering on his face.

Samantha rushed across the room, making sure she wasn't seen by any of the Rangers. As she passed by the kitchen, she saw the photo of both Sheridan's. She wasn't into stealing, but something inside compelled her to take the photograph and place it in the messenger bag she carried, along with the papers. Her journey to the door was successful, but as she swung herself through the bars of the Presidential Compound, she was sighted on by one of the Rangers in the search.

Adrenalin pulsing through her, Samantha began to run. The Ranger gave chase, calling out for his colleagues to join him. Looking behind for a brief moment, she saw four Rangers just metres behind her. Seeing the market in the town centre, Samantha sprinted for that, shoving shoppers into different directions. She ran past Eric Baker, who watched with an incredulous expression as the An'lashok hunted her down. Finally making her way to the transport she handed over her ticket and jumped aboard. She also handed the pilot some money on the way to her seat so he wouldn't stop when asked.

She had reached Yeodor on tenterhooks, and was not surprised that the Rangers were swarming all over the place. She felt pressure on her elbow, and was surprised to see it was one of President Lewis' guards. His Earthforce uniform made him stand out, and Samantha was glad to see the colours for once.

"Miss Cole? President Lewis requires a meeting with you. Would you like to come with us please?"

"Happily. Very happily," Samantha replied, walking passed some of the Rangers with a smirk on her face. However, the last Ranger she saw was David who looked like his heart had been ripped in two. He had trusted her, thought he had found a kindred spirit. She felt the urge to go back, but the Ranger pin pressed into the side of her leg and she realised that her mission was still not over.

X

"You are quite the star in public relations Miss Cole. But stealing from a member of the ISA cabinet is not something to be taken lightly."

"I only stole files that rightfully belong to my family Mister President. You can check the records and see that I did have a meeting with Susan Ivanova in which she quite rudely dictated that she would not sign over the papers to me. My solicitor will also testify that when I got out of the meeting with her I talked to him about pursuing legal action. I had a change of heart on the ship back to Earth and I decided to take the papers rather than wait for permission that would never come."

"Let me make this clear Miss Cole, you are not on trial here. Moreover, this is a thank you for being a loyal citizen to Earth." President Lewis explained, taking a closer seat to Samantha in the large boardroom that was mostly empty apart from them and the guards. "If there is any fallout from the ISA, I will deal with it. I'm very happy with your initiative Miss Cole, and in the new year I would like to make you a job offer you won't be able to refuse."

"That's wonderful Mister President, thank you for your support."

"No problem. Now can I get you anything? Cup of tea? Biscuit?"

"My cousin."

"No problem whatsoever Miss Cole, not for you."

He motioned for the guards to take her away, and Samantha found herself in another transport heading for the largest hospital in Geneva where they were keeping Marcus in stasis. On the way over, she remembered that she had to call Mark. One of the guards gave her access to the monitor in the transport to let him know how things were going. He picked up readily, and Samantha was so happy to see his face. There was a smudge of engine grease on his cheek; he had obviously been working all day.

"Hey beautiful! How did things go, did you get the files?" he asked, smiling at her.

"I did. We're going over to the hospital right now but I should be there for tea."

"Great! Its nice to have you back Earth side sweet heart."

"It feels good to be back," Samantha said, but she knew she was lying. Her fingers had found the Ranger pin in her bag and were tracing the surface of the eloquent broach. The call finished with blown kisses and soft eyes, as a tear found its way down the length of her cheek.

The hospital was all steel and glass, like many of the government-operated buildings. Samantha felt something stick in her throat as her and two of the guards made their way to reception and then down to the basement where the cryogenic area was. They walked confidently into the room, and the guards talked to the Doctor in charge of the area.

"You cannot wake him up! If we take him out of cryogenic suspension then he will die!" she heard the Doctor mutter, but all she could see was the name on one of the draws. Cole, Marcus.

"Miss Cole, what do you want to do?"

"Wake him up." It was the last thing that John Sheridan told her to do and she was going to do it. Something would happen, Marcus would be all right and surprise the Doctors and he could help her out. She would have family again.

They took Marcus out of his draw, and she smiled at the sight. He looked exactly like he did in pictures she had of him. As his body reacted to the warmth of the room, she saw his skin begin to flush. His mouth gently opened and a scratchy voice filled the room.

"Susan?"

Samantha's heart began to beat fiercely; everything was going according to plan. However, sounds began to beep in a continual rhythm and Marcus started to convulse on the table.

"He's going into cardiac arrest. Get me Doctor Wiseman immediately!" yelled one of the Doctors as he and two nurses rushed to Marcus' side. The glare she received from the Doctor that warned them earlier was enough to cause Samantha's legs to give out. Someone caught her, but when she turned left to thank who it was did she realise it wasn't one of the guards.

He was alien, pale and he had an ancient feel about him. Their eyes met for a moment before he turned to watch as the Doctors tried to save Marcus. There was a bright light, and Samantha felt herself slipping into unconsciousness. The last thing she heard was words coming from the alien who had helped her.

"This is when, as you say, the magic happens."

X

Samantha woke to a splitting headache, but was happy to see that she was back in her double bed. Her house in Geneva that she shared with Mark was lovely, and was somewhere she considered her only home. He wasn't there beside her, and she was still dressed in the clothes she wore when she headed off to Minbar.

"It was all a dream. No crazy ex-Captains back from the dead. No cute young Rangers with puppy dog eyes. No job offer from the President. No prophecies, and no saving the world."

"No such luck I am afraid."

Samantha raised her head wearily to the corner of her bedroom where the alien before sat. He had wrinkled pale skin, with a grey beard and had some sort of crown atop his head. He bowed his head to her gently, and Samantha shifted to the back of the bed.

"Do not be afraid Samantha Cole. My name is Lorien. I believe John Sheridan has told you about me?"

Lorien. The alien who brought Sheridan back to life. The first of the First Ones. He certainly cut an impressive silhouette, he was probably a foot taller than her, and his presence was large within the room. She nodded at his question and brought the duvet up to her chin. She suddenly felt incredibly cold.

"He told me about you. What do you want?" she asked, and Lorien stood up and made his way to sit on the edge of Samantha's bed. He kept her personal space clear, something that she was very thankful for.

"The question is not 'what do you want', or even 'who are you'. There were once two races for who these questions were at the centre of everything they believed. The question for you, Samantha, is 'where are you going'. You don't know, do you?"

"I think that's none of your business."

"I believe it is. Samantha: the Vorlons, and the Shadows both influenced the Humans and the Minbari more than they would care to admit. Whether it is through technology or philosophy, both societies carry traits of what their predecessors left behind. Both of them will start a war over this, not learning from their previous war or the war between the Shadows and the Vorlons. As it was back then, there is three who can stop this fight: the one who was, the one who is and the one who will be."

"Okay," Samantha said, standing up from her bed and looking out of the window of her room. The sight was impressive, Geneva always was.

"These three must use both diplomacy and force to bring about the peace between these races. You must find the other two and join forces. Only then will the Interstellar Alliance have hope in preventing this threat and the bloodshed between these two races."

"Who are they?"

"Dios Vintari, heir to the Centauri throne is the one who was, effectively Jeffery Sinclair's position. David Sheridan, John Sheridan and Delenn's Ranger son is the one who is, his mother's position. And you, Samantha, are the one who will be. The nexus and the position that John Sheridan resided in."

His name brought Samantha's head up. "Is he okay?"

"He is fine, you can see him in a few moments when we are done here. A friend of Sheridan's, a Vorlon called Kosh believed that you three would act better if you had a mentor who had been through this before. Sheridan was sent across the Rim with Kosh's help and the help of a few others as a non-corporeal vision that only you could see and touch."

"I knew I was imagining things."

"When I heard of what Kosh had done, I pulled Sheridan back across the divide. The technology that Kosh used to hide Sheridan altered the layers of dimensions that we can see so that you could see him but no one else could. It is rather fascinating, but it is not my preference to remain over this side of the Rim for much longer. The job of taking care of you is in the hands of John Sheridan now."

"Okay, great. I can deal with that." Samantha smiled, her mind still struggling with it all. Especially seeing as David and Vintari, who she had never met but heard of, were in the same boat as her.

Lorien nodded and smiled once again. "There are a few things I must ask of you Samantha, as you start upon this mission. Allow Vintari to act as a go between with you and David. Your actions so far have proved troublesome to the Alliance, and a meeting between the two of you could be the failure of your mission. Do not tell your fiancé what you are doing, if things do not go your way it could be…"

"Troublesome for him, I get it. I take it you want me to keep Sheridan on the straight and narrow too?"

"He is effectively a ghost on this side of the Rim, no one can know that he is helping you otherwise your life becomes in danger. His son and wife cannot see him. Once this is all over, he will come over the Rim and rejoin us. Seeing them will only hinder that. Are we clear Samantha?"

"We are." She couldn't see David again. She couldn't talk to Mark about what was happening. It was her fault that they couldn't go to the Alliance for help because of what she did earlier.

"Good. Farewell and good luck Samantha. Sheridan and your cousin Marcus are in your living room."

Lorien disappeared from sight, and she turned and her eyes burned through the door. One step at a time. She could climb out of her window, hide from the world. Or she could open the door and face her…her destiny. Making her mind up, Samantha reached for the doorknob. She was a Cole, and they attracted trouble. May as well live up to the family name.