Chapter 42 (Michael Garibaldi)

Garibaldi stood aside as teams of technicians jostled past him with explosives and cabling, intent on rigging the station to blow up in the event of an invasion. No one knew when or if the Minbari would ever show up, but having that huge Minbari warship gutted outside was proof that they were vulnerable.

Next came the workers, and their wives and children, who were uprooted from their cramped living conditions and moved into housing accommodation within the city. Garibaldi knew that most of the workers would have been forced to stay within the facility to begin work on new cities once these two left, but with the attack, Elvis was not taking any chances.

Perfect!Garibaldi thought.

He could use this moment and smuggle that data crystal to the Vanguards, who were in their private quarters. But every footstep he heard along the corridors was a signal that he had to be careful. It was impossible for Elvis to know what he was up to, but he wouldn't put it past him to have spies looking for any opportunity. Then again, Elvis was so content in his own power that his stupidity blinded him to the hate his crew had.

Garibaldi clutched his head as ideas raced through his mind, I gotta get control. Elvis will not be watching. I am but a man walking down the corridor.

The red high-security decks held moderate accommodations for visitors and esteemed guests alike. As expected, Elvis had his luxury suite, and the other rooms were allocated to his most trusted staff. It would stand to reason the Vanguards would be in such a place; the only problem was finding them.

Garibaldi reached over to the control panel and entered his commands. He already had a pre-programmed patch that would gain him anonymous access to the system and find the two Vanguards. He wanted to make sure no one could track his whereabouts. That same program should disable the security cameras throughout the hallways. But that red LED light on the face of the camera instilled Garibaldi with doubt. As an extra precaution, he doubled-checked the program and kept his face away from the camera lens.

Further down the hall, he heard running footsteps and muffled sounds. More staff were on the move.

"That's it, fellas, nothing to see here. Just a plain old person doing his rounds." He whispered to himself.

Despite being the facility's second in command, with the authority to go anywhere he saw fit, it would only take one person to run a check, or ask that simple, What are you doing here? Garibaldi did not know who to trust and it stood to reason Elvis's most loyal guards would ask even him the simplest of questions.

Still, Garibaldi always planned ahead and he always kept a free hand on his sidearm just in case he needed to stun someone. The setting was low, but with a modified conductor coil, it would render the victim unconscious with short-term memory loss.

After discovering the Vanguards whereabouts, Garibaldi pressed his hand to the doorplate and it chimed. Whoever was on the other side should have heard the doorbell!

As expected, the door slid slightly to the side to allow a pink haze to appear around the gap.

"Are you Garibaldi?" asked a low clipped voice.

"Yes, I've come to give you something."

The door slid shut for a moment and Garibaldi heard the sound of footsteps walking away. After one minute of standing outside, appearing like a lemming with nowhere to go, the door finally opened and the fresh scent of women's flowery perfume blew past his nose.

Garibaldi entered the dark room with caution, hand still on his sidearm. "I'm here to see some Vanguards about a message I want to send."

The silence hung in the room for a moment. Sounds of splashing water came from what Garibaldi thought was the bathroom. All these rooms were the same layout as his own quarters.

"Take a seat, Garibaldi. I'll be with you in just a moment. If you want, my partner can get you something. Tea?"

Garibaldi picked the most comfortable chair in the room and sat down. Glancing around he suddenly spotted someone sitting in the chair opposite. He hadn't been there on his first scan of the room.

Shocked, he jerked in his chair.

"My name's Samuel. Sorry to startle you. I love to do that to unsuspecting clients, makes the day worth it," the mischievous character said. "Now, what can we do for you, Mr Garibaldi?"