A Friend in Deed
Written for 2009 LJ galpalficathon for the prompts: Delenn and Lyta, 'One thousand years ago...'
Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or backgrounds. But they are my words.
Delenn paused outside the closed door to Lyta Alexander's quarters. No one had seen the telepath in a few days, not since Bryon's death. She had come to see off the remnants of the telepath colony as they left the station for a safe haven in alien space, but she had disappeared after that. Delenn herself had not been involved deeply in the developing crisis; she only knew as much as she had heard from John when he had discussed what was happening. For herself, she felt a deep sympathy with Lyta and the telepaths, victims as they were of plans laid long ago. They were victims also of the fears and prejudices of their own people. The humans' attitude towards the gifted among them was not one of their more amiable attributes. Still, without the extensive training and the Code of Conduct that Minbari telepaths were subject to; would her people have felt the same? The power the telepaths possessed was frightening, at a deep psychological level there was a realistic fear of violation. Lyta, though, Delenn considered a friend, even though they had never been close. She had never forgotten the telepath's assistance in that unsuccessful trip to Z'ha'dum. Now she just wanted to see how her friend was coping with recent events.
"Lyta?" She spoke into the com-unit beside the door. "May I come in?"
The door hissed as it opened and slid up and back into the door frame. Delenn entered a darkened room, peering through the dim light to see a figure in black, lying on a mattress on the floor. A thin dark blue blanket was laid over the bed, pulled taut at the corners, and stretched tight over the thin padding. It did not show a wrinkle or any indication that someone was occupying it.
Lyta swung her legs over the edge of the pallet and stood in one motion. "Did you need something?"
"No." Delenn stood in the center of the room, arms at her sides, wondering what she could say. "I just wanted to see how you were doing."
"That's novel. You would be the first." The telepath's voice had a bitter edge. "Lights, low," she called preemptorily, and a white glow from hidden ceiling spots lit the four corners of the small room. Her arms were wrapped tight about her body, as if she was trying to hold something inside. "How did you expect me to be doing?"
"You must be distressed," began Delenn.
Lyta interrupted her. "Distressed is such a mealy-mouthed word. Do you know what it feels like to catch a glimpse of another way of life? Of a purpose and a place in the universe? Of a love that seems meant to be? And then have it all ripped away from you?"
Delenn gazed steadily at Lyta. "I know," she said simply.
Her face stiff, Lyta said nothing, but a slight nod acknowledged the truth in the other woman's statement. "Of course there's more to it than that," she added, her anger barely hidden. She started to pace restlessly up and down the room. "I still haven't got used to the idea that we were designed by the Vorlons. Engineered, manufactured, practically on assembly lines! Cogs in the war machine, meant for weapons, threats...not viewed as individuals at all." Her eyes were blazing with hurt and hatred. "How could they do that? What gave them the right?"
"I do not know whether they gave it any consideration. Perhaps they felt themselves to be above the simple dictates of right or wrong." Delenn clasped her hands in front of herself, interlacing her fingers. "At one time I thought I understood their motives; that they were benevolent figures, powerful and knowledgeable, trying to help us in our struggle against the Enemy. At least, it seemed true of those I knew."
"You're talking about Kosh." Lyta sat down abruptly on the edge of the bed, then gestured to the one chair in the room. "He wasn't like the others. He really did care. At least I thought he did."
Delenn accepted the invitation, and sat, her back straight and her hands now loosely folded in her lap. She waited a moment, then said, "We are not so different, you and I. One thousand years ago, as my people fought the Shadows, the Vorlons appeared to help us. They accompanied Valen, who ended the war and established most of the structure of our society afterwards. The caste system, the Grey Council, the balance of power that kept us from the constant warfare that had plagued us before the Great War. Hundreds of our rituals and traditions--all came to us through the intercession of Valen. And from the Vorlons."
Lyta leaned forward, and stated flatly. "You were manipulated."
"Or guided. It can be difficult to tell the difference."
They sat in silence for a moment.
"Was it worth it?" asked Lyta finally.
"We were a warlike people. We might well have destroyed each other, long ago," Delenn said thoughtfully. "But it does not matter in the end. Wherever we come from, however each of us got to this place and time, the only thing we can change is the future. The past is what it is. The future...the future is what we make it."
Lyta nodded, her voice grim with determination. "We both have work to do, causes that we believe in. Things we need to establish...for the good of our people."
"To build something, perhaps something that will last a thousand years." Delenn stood, and held up her hand, palm outward, towards Lyta, just touching her friend's chest, over the heart. "Something for all our people."
The telepath mirrored both the gesture and the slight bow that the Minbari gave to her. "Thank you for coming," she said with reluctant gratitude, as she escorted her guest to the door.
"I look forward to seeing what you choose to build, Lyta." Delenn called back to her friend, as she left the room for the bright corridor beyond.
Lyta remained behind. "Lights off," she said, as she returned to the darkness once again.