The Inquisitor's Doubts
Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or backgrounds. But they are my words.
Sebastian stalked through the corridors of the station on his way to the ambassadorial wing to make his report to Kosh. He was constantly bombarded by images and sounds that grated on his sensitivities. He had become used to aliens in his various projects for the Vorlons; they had made sure of it. Each time he was awakened they implanted information about the species he was to interrogate in his mind. Sometimes they wiped his memory clean afterwards, other times they did not. It left enough residual data to give him a hazy impression of the many worlds and species he'd encountered since he had been taken from his proper time and place in the universe.
This mission was different from all the others, and not only because he thought they had finally found their Chosen Ones. The human-Minbari hybrid was a fascinating creature. He'd interviewed Minbari before, and found their complex hierarchical culture both restful and familiar. It reminded him of his original home; where everyone knew their place, and those who strayed were punished. The thought of those punishments gave him intense pleasure mixed with a twinge of pain. The Vorlons had been careful to deprogram him before using him as an Inquisitor; punishment in their cause was righteous and rewarded, punishment for any other reason resulted in severe personal chastisement. He'd learned this lesson well, and seldom allowed himself even a stray thought outside his mission.
As he neared the airlock leading to the Vorlon's quarters, he hesitated. Something was bothering him. The two test subjects were linked; that was easy to see. However, there was more to that relationship than there seemed at first glance. Tormenting the female had served several purposes. First, it tested her resolve and her motivations. Then, it also served to lure the male to where he could be tested. Finally, it tested the strength of their willingness to sacrifice themselves for another.
Kosh had passed on his consideration that the little Minbari aide might pass part of the test, but that had not exactly worked out. The engrained Minbari deference to authority was strong in that one. The Vorlons' plans relied heavily on that submissive nature, and some of them had been worried that the female's transformation might have altered her nature as well as her form. He had overheard part of the story, when they awakened him on the trip to the station. Kosh had made the decision to encourage her to go into the Chrysalis on his own. The other Vorlons had concurred, after much discussion, but it was very curious. The Vorlons valued consensus above all; for one to make a decision without consulting the others was rare.
So they wanted her tested; and that made sense to him. She had set herself up as a central player; she felt herself to be chosen. If the male was also chosen, or felt he was, then he needed testing as well. What he couldn't see was why the test was set up the way it was. If the male was to eventually follow the female's instructions, and hence the Vorlons', then he should not have disobeyed. The female had asked that he not intervene; he had defied her as well as Kosh. Yet the Vorlons had clearly indicated that the male would be lured to the test by the need to rescue the female. If he came, he failed the test of obedience. If he did not come, he failed the test of self-sacrifice. Something was not quite right there.
He stopped and looked at his watch. It was an old-fashioned solid gold half-hunter given to him by his father. The Vorlons had taken it from him once, but his reaction had encouraged them to return it, with the threat of its removal hanging over him as a potential punishment for disobedience. He still had some time, and wanted to think this over some more. If the two subjects were more than linked, if they were emotionally joined, then the test of self-sacrifice was invalid. Would the Vorlons realize that? They were somewhat naïve concerning the potential strength of human emotions. He knew that from his dealings with them. It had taken them far longer to bend him to their service than they had expected. It was also far more painful than he had liked.
Still, his time in their service hadn't been bad at first. The toys they had given him were far less messy, and far more efficient, than those he had used in his past life. His subjects mostly gave in and begged for release quickly, but there were those defiant ones who lasted longer. The screams always died down to whimpers in the end, and sometimes, unfortunately for them, to death rattles. The Vorlons didn't seem to mind when they died. There was always another candidate for saint, god, messiah, whatever they chose to call it, waiting for his special touch.
Now, though, he was growing tired. He wanted these two to be The Ones, the ones to choose, and thus end this struggle. Then the Vorlons could release him from this over-extended life of pain and testing and purification. Still, if the test was invalid, if their feelings for one another were strong enough that self-sacrifice was the easier choice, he should inform Kosh. If he did not, and they found out he had withheld information--he shuddered at the thought of what they might do to him. Still undecided, he put on his mask, and touched the door chime to let Kosh know he was there.
Sebastian entered the room, mist swirling about him as the atmospheres briefly mixed, and then adjusted. He removed the mask; he had no need of it. The Vorlons had altered him to breathe their atmosphere long ago. The mask was for show, if anyone had been watching him as he entered the ambassador's quarters.
He made his decision in an instant. "They passed, both of them. They each offered to die, alone and friendless, to save another's life. Their motives are pure. Whether they are strong enough for the task, I cannot say."
The Vorlon expanded and contracted the iris in his encounter suit. Sebastian had never been sure what that signified, if anything.
Uncertain where this was going, Sebastian simply nodded.
"Good. He is almost there," and the Vorlon turned away.
The inquisitor hesitated. He wanted to ask questions, but it wasn't usually a good idea with his employers. His curiosity, and fear that he was making a mistake, led him to continue. "Why is this a good thing? Is she not the dominant player in this game? Should he not obey her?"
Kosh turned back towards him, angling his helmet as if to examine this creature that dared question him. "Counterpoint."
"I don't understand."
"Go. You are finished here."
Sebastian turned to go, then daring one more question, asked, "If they succeed, will my task be complete? Will I be released?"
Kosh said nothing for a moment, then answered, "Your chains are of your own making, Inquisitor. I cannot free you. No one can free you. Now go."
Sebastian's face froze for an instant, then he smiled grimly, straightened his shoulders, took a tight grip of his cane, and left for the Vorlon transport in Docking Bay 13. He thought he understood now. Kosh was playing a dangerous game, taking a risk with these two. It made no difference to him. Any repercussions would fall on Kosh, and as long as he was personally safe, he could afford to await results. After all, he had all the time in the world.
Counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm, and interdependent in harmony.