Is everything ready?" The voice came from the shadows that clung to the edges of the room, and was low and identifiable as female. The answer came from just inside the heavy bronze doors, a rough murmur of assent.
The room was small, circular, the only illumination coming from candles burning in alcoves inset into the walls. The light from these illuminated dozens of plaques, hung at staggered levels around the room, in no discernible pattern. Some of the plaques were fashioned from polished wood, some from a reflective bronze metal, others from clear flowing glass, and they were each inscribed with a few lines of script in various characters. In the center of the room was a square pedestal of smoke-grey crystal, a single block with patterns that swirled like clouds in a darkened sky or receding eddies of sea foam. A triangle of bright metal was fitted upright into a depression in the pedestal. Small silver bells hung from the bars, and they chimed slightly as the two hooded figures moved about the room, stirring the cold still air. A curved wall of windows revealed the night sky of Minbar, the twin moons chasing clouds and painting tree shadows on the closely trimmed fields of the training grounds outside.
On the pedestal was propped a viewscreen, black glass reflecting pinpoints of candle flame. The screen hummed slightly as it came to life, its flat face gradually lightening to grey, then white. Lines wavered and danced, finally clearing to reveal a somber face, lined with age, dark brows overhanging eyes bright with humour and a wary intelligence.
"You there, Ivanova?" barked the man on the screen. "Come into the light so I can see you. Is Delenn there?"
"I am here, Michael," responded a slim slight figure in a white robe. Pushing back the hood to reveal brown hair flecked with grey, Delenn came to rest in front of the monitor. "It is good to see you again."
"You too," replied Garibaldi, breaking his intensity with a momentary grin. "Even today, of all days."
Susan Ivanova had been standing in front of one of the plaques, hands behind her back, the mottled gold and brown of Valen's robes clinging to her trim figure. She turned and approached the pedestal, shooting a taut smile at the screen. "Glad you could make it this year."
Garibaldi ran his hand over his head, as if to straighten out the wrinkles that lined his high forehead. "Sorry about the last couple of years, Susan. It's been a crazy time for the business. And last year Mary had just gotten back from University on Earth..." His voice tapered off, lost in apologies. "What's the procedure this year?"
"Remembrance," replied Delenn firmly. "We will each share a memory of our old friend, which will be recorded and placed under time seal here in the Hall of Memories. The only requirement is that is be a true memory. History is woven from such small strands of remembrance, and as time flows on there are fewer of us who remember him."
"Uh," hesitated Garibaldi, "You want something important then? Something historical?"
"Something true," replied Delenn firmly. "What we remember, however unimportant to others, forms the whole of a person. Sinclair was many things to many people."
"He contained multitudes," quipped Susan with a snort, and a grim half-smile. She shifted uncomfortably, the colors of her robes muted in the pulse of moonlight that had pierced the room with the parting of the clouds.
"Okay," said Garibaldi. His face was convulsed with silent mirth. "I've got just the story." He cleared his throat. "Is this thing on?"
"You may speak when you are ready. The transmission will be one way, your voice to our ears and to the receiver of the recording device. When you are done with your story, touch the center button on your screen and we will speak again." Delenn touched three areas on the bottom of the screen in succession, and stood back, hands crossed in front of her.
Susan moved to Delenn's side, and listened as Garibaldi began to regale the recorder with an involved tale of a gambling debt, a Martian opera singer, and a pig. "I know this one," she murmured. "It's not exactly appropriate for an official history." She rubbed the back of her neck. "I was going to talk about the time Jeff sat shiva with me, for my father."
"I plan to tell of Sinclair's experience with the Anla'Shok induction ceremonies." Delenn responded deliberately. Her face was set in an expression of demure innocence. "He was somewhat...surprised at some of the ritess he was required to undergo. Particularly the ritual clothing."
Susan raised an eyebrow. "You're kidding," she said. "Jeff went through those?" She shook her head. "I can't wait to to hear that one."
Delenn put one arm around Susan's waist. "I think you will enjoy it. It is good to remember a friend, with friends. And the entirety of Sinclair's life includes incidents such as these. He was a man capable of great humour and warmth."
Susan put one arm around the petite woman's shoulders, giving her a quick hug, then turning her attention back to Garibaldi's story. "This is the good part," she said to Delenn. "Who would have imagined they could teach that pig to sing?"
"It does seem unlikely. Was it not an annoyance to the pig?" asked Delenn, eyes wide with curiosity.
"Possibly," answered Susan. "But it certainly wasn't a waste of time. Not given the amount of trouble they were in with the casino at the Pleasure Dome." She went on, a smile twisting her lips. "Why is it that every story of Michael's from his time on Mars involves the Pleasure Dome? At least the ones he's willing to share."
"Michael likes to emphasize the positive aspects of his past. He is not one to dwell on past mistakes." Delenn looked at the loquacious Garibaldi, who was gesticulating widely as he reached the punchline of his story, as if she envied him.
"He has his ghosts, like all of us," replied Susan shortly. She stayed in close protective contact with Delenn as they continued to listen. "Jeff isn't one of them. Not any more. He's just a happy memory."
"That is why we come together, on the day we lost him, to find him again," answered Delenn, her voice veering between serious reflection and suppressed laughter at Garibaldi's expressive finale. As she readied the recorder for the next remembrance, she added, "That is the purpose of stories. They are how we remember." Glancing around at the dozens of plaques that honored past leaders of the Anla'Shok, she added, "And whether human or Minbari, we need to remember."