Confessions of an Ex-Nightwatch Flunky
Disclaimer: Babylon 5 and its characters don't belong to me. The characters mentioned all belong to J. Michael Straczynski, and my amateur efforts probably can't do justice to his work.
"Confessions of an Ex-Nightwatch Flunky"
by Christine Anderson
aka Anla'shok Ivanova
I really don't know what's gotten into everybody lately. I mean, one minute everything's normal- or at least as normal as it ever gets on Babylon 5, which is still pretty weird -and then my boss, Michael Garibaldi, says the Captain wants this guy Morden picked up.
Okay, sure. No problem. I've heard this before. I mean, there's always somebody the command staff wants for something or other, and we don't always find out what it is till later. I don't ask questions, just take the guy's identicard when he comes through, and ask him to come off to the side of the line. Garibaldi and the guys take him away, and I go back to checking IDs, confiscating weapons, and marking down customs violations, which there seem to be a lot of today. Somebody's gonna have to tell the Drazi ambassador- again -that he really can't have his favorite knife collection shipped from home, but that somebody's not gonna be me.
By the time I hit the security office at the end of the day, I was ready for a break. I figure, sit and watch the monitors for a few, leave orders to toss the latest group of bar brawlers out of holding once they sober up, go back to my quarters, order a pizza, maybe catch a vid... But I walk in and there's Captain Sheridan sitting in Garibaldi's chair, and I can tell that my plans aren't happening.
The Captain looks like he's been there a while- jacket off, sleeves rolled up, sweat plastering a couple strands of hair to his forehead. He tells me that the Chief's taken a leave of absence, and that he wants me in charge of the prisoner till the Chief gets back. The prisoner turns out to be Morden. I don't know who the hell this guy is or what he's done, but I know my job, and I tell the Captain I'll take care of it. His link goes off- you could really get to hate the sound of those things, working around here -and somebody from C&C says Vir Cotto wants to meet with him.
Vir's kind of a funny little guy, for a Centauri. He's the attaché to their ambassador to B5, but nobody really takes him seriously. I like him, though. All these ambassadors and heavy brass that hang around, I can say yes sir, and no ma'am, but I can't really talk to them. Even the other ambassador's aides, Lennier and Na'Toth, are pretty unapproachable. Lennier's so serious all the time, and Na'Toth- geeze, she reminds me of a drill instructor I had at the academy.
Vir, though... Vir's the one nobody notices. They see the job, not the person. Kind of like me. So I guess we've got something in common.
Anyway, the Captain went off to meet with Vir, I guess, but before he did that, he asked me to bring the telepath, Talia Winters, to the office. I called her and told her the Captain wanted to see her. She said she'd be right there.
So while I was waiting for Talia to show up and the Captain to get back, I sat down in the chair and took a look at the playback on the cameras in Morden's cell. It didn't take me too long to figure out why the Captain was so interested in this guy, even though what I figured out didn't make that much sense. Turns out, this guy Morden was on a ship that was destroyed a few years back. He was reported dead, and so was everybody else onboard the Icarus.
The Captain's wife was on that ship, too. Explained why he was interested, at least. I guessed I would've been too, in his shoes. I'd heard she was dead- somebody told us about the time Sheridan came aboard, I think it was Ivanova, who'd served with him before. Anyway, she said not to mention her, or she'd- well, never mind, but Ivanova's Ivanova, and it's usually smart to do what she says.
Listening to Morden's interrogation, I had to admit something seemed pretty fishy. The guy's story had holes in it you could fly a Starfury through, not to mention the fact that it was just too damned easy, too coincidental. I didn't like it either, but- Hell, if the guy hadn't broken after all these hours, he probably wasn't going to, and what that meant, I couldn't say.
I could've told the Captain what Talia would say about his request, but he didn't ask me, and it's my job to take orders, not second-guess them. She takes those PsiCorps rules pretty seriously, though, and since I've met the guy they send after you when you don't follow them, I couldn't really blame her. Scanning scum like Morden sure as hell wouldn't be worth having Bester on my tail if I were her, that's for sure!
The Captain seemed disappointed, but then he asked her to wait outside. He told me to move Morden to another cell, and escort Talia back to her quarters through part of Blue Sector. A part that'd have her passing right by Morden while the others were moving him.
I had kind of a bad feeling about all this, so I handed Morden's transfer off to the others and stuck with Talia. As soon as we were outside the door she said, "He really shouldn't have asked me to do that."
I shrugged. "I just do what they tell me to, ma'am." It sounded stupid even to me. I should've kept my mouth shut, but the silence was getting weird.
Talia smiled, though, like what I'd said was funny in some way I couldn't figure out. "Me, too," she said. "I know, though, you're just doing your job."
Yes, ma'am, I thought, just doing my job. Which I'd liked a lot more this morning than I did right then...
We came around the corner, and there was Morden with his security escort. Talia looked over at him- guess she couldn't help it -and then I don't know what happened, but she grabbed at her head and screamed. She fell back, and I caught her.
I yelled something at Morden's security detail- "Get him out of here" is what I think I said, but I'm not sure.
Next stop, Medlab. I was pretty sure Doc Franklin wasn't going to like this, and I was right. When he showed up, Franklin gave the Captain the kind of look you don't give a superior officer unless you suddenly don't like your job very much, but Sheridan was looking kind of sheepish. He started to apologize to Talia-
And she slapped him. Pretty hard, too, and I guess those gloves must've hurt, because he was still holding his face when she hopped off the bed and walked out.
Talia said a few things about what she'd seen when she looked at Morden, but I didn't pay too much attention after the first word or so. It creeped me out, and it wasn't really my job to figure out what the hell she was talking about anyway.
"I'd better get back to work," I said after she was gone, not that anyone was paying that much attention to me. The Captain was over with Doc Franklin- getting lectured, probably. So I left.
Standing right outside the door, like she was waiting for somebody, was Ambassador Delenn. And from her expression, I wasn't the one she was looking for.
"Ambassador?" I asked. "Can I-?"
"Mister Allen," she said. "No, thank you."
She didn't say anything else for a while, so I spoke up again. "Ambassador? Did you see Talia Winters, the telepath, go past here? I was wondering if she's alright-"
"Yes, I spoke to her just a moment ago. She will be alright."
I nodded. "That's good."
"Mister Allen, you've been in charge of the EarthForce Security on Babylon 5 today?"
"You observed the interrogation of the man called Morden?"
"Part of it," I said, feeling uncomfortable. I wasn't sure how much about that I should be telling her, and I didn't know where this was going, but...
I didn't see the Vorlon-shaped shadow coming up behind Delenn till it was too late. He angled the top of his encounter suit helmet at me. A green light came from the 'eye' in the center, and Ambassador Kosh said, "Forget."
Which is what I did. For a while, at least.
On the day the Vorlon died- the first one, I mean, the Kosh they're calling the 'good' one now- I went to see Ambassador Delenn. She nodded as if she'd been expecting me. "Mister Allen."
"Ambassador, this is going to sound nuts, but do you remember when the Captain had Morden under arrest last year? I have this crazy idea that I saw you and Ambassador Kosh outside Medlab that day, and he- Somehow he made me forget I'd heard anything Morden said, or anything Talia said about what she saw..."
Delenn nodded. "It was necessary. The same thing was done to Talia."
Which I guess was a good thing, considering how she ended up just a little bit after, and how close the others were to letting her in on some of their secrets. I mean, Talia was ahead of me on that list, you know?
Maybe 'cause Garibaldi thought she was cuter than me. Can't say as I blame him for that one. That Nightwatch thing might've had something to do with it, too.
Anyway, none of us talk much about what happened to her after Lyta came back, but everybody knows she went off with Psi Corps, and they learned stuff from her one way or another. Delenn and Kosh were covering our backs the day we caught Morden and let him go, only we didn't know it yet. If anybody had known that we knew anything at all about what was going to happen, about Z'Ha'Dum and the Shadows and all of that, we'd never have known what hit us.
Nobody had to explain that part to me; I understood it alright, it was just strange, looking back and knowing a Vorlon messed with my memories, and all the people who could've died if he hadn't done it... it's all crazy, though, and you wouldn't think it was possible unless you'd lived through it.
Sometimes I'm not so sure that I did, you know? The Captain and Delenn, Ivanova and the others, they were definitely there, doing all the things that had to get done, but me, I feel like I was just along for the ride. I didn't know much of anything about it until it was all said and done. I never really processed much of any of it while it was going on.
But now I look back and it seems like I finally figured out what was with all of them- there were high stakes that day for everybody. And one of the things I learned about the people I served with and knew on Babylon 5 is that they fought for the things they felt like they had to.
We didn't win 'em all, no, but we won the fights we really had to, including a couple I was pretty sure we'd never get out of alive. And then I get to feeling guilty for saying that, because the fact is, not all of us did make it out alive. There was that guy Marcus, who I didn't know really well, but... The couple times I ran into him in DownBelow, he was helping the people nobody else would. Hell of a sense of humor that guy had, too. I've heard people say it was stupid, what he did for Ivanova, but, I don't know, with the way he helped people, the way he went out sort of made sense.
Thing is, though, that even working as a cop in deep space, policing a quarter of a billion tourists, ambassadors, and criminals, I could've had a pretty normal life. If only I'd never gotten assigned to Babylon 5, never let myself get caught up in this crazy stuff of ancient wars...
If only I'd never signed on with Nightwatch. I have to admit now that that was a really bad idea, worse than any of the others by a long shot, and really not at all worth the measly fifty credits a week they paid me to do their dirty work. The money never felt clean, and I never used it, never spent it, not a cent.
I thought for a while about what to do with it. First I was going to cash it and just toss it out the airlock, but then I got a better idea. When the Captain and Ivanova and the others were putting together what was going to be the Interstellar Alliance, I went to see them, with a couple thousand creds' worth of the Ministry of Peace's money, maybe more. So the blood money they paid me to turn on my friends, rat out the honest people I was supposed to be protecting, and keep silent while innocent people were murdered on trumped-up charges of crap like "sedition", that money became the ISA's startup capital.
Nobody knows that, and I think that's the thing I'm most proud of. Out of everything I've done in my life, all the times I screwed up, there's one time I got it right.
And there are only three people in the universe who know about it. But that's okay. I didn't do it to tell people about it- I did it because it was right, and what else was I going to do with those credits anyway?
I still don't feel right about the things I did with Nightwatch. I know I'm probably never going to, and if I could, that's when I'd have a problem. A conscience, no matter what Nightwatch tried to program me into believing, is not a liability. Not in the world we built over the mess they'd left behind.
Of course, I thought my strange days were over when Clark put a PPG to his head and pulled the trigger. Probably would've been if I'd stayed away from B5, President Sheridan, and all the rest. But I still had a job to do, you know, and there wasn't much else I was that good at.
It turned out to be a good thing that I stuck around, after the Chief... Well, Michael's got his own issues, and after a while I realized that even though he could sort them out, he wasn't coming back as head of security. Of course, if I had an old flame like Lise who was willing to give things another try, if I could go back home, get rich, undo some more of the damage from the Clark era, smoke imported cigars, and be able to tell people who'd never have given Sergeant Allen the time of day, that they were on my payroll now, well... I just might decide I'd had enough of Station Security, too.
But that's not likely to happen, and I'm as happy as I'll ever be, where I am right now. I'm almost as bad as Ivanova, really- never looked at women the same after Lyta... Well. Sometimes I still catch myself looking around, and I'll see a woman with red hair cut the way hers usually was, and my heart will stop beating, and for a second I can't breathe- and then she'll turn, and I'll see it's not her. Of course it's not her, Lyta went off with G'Kar, and we'll probably never see her again.
The crazy thing is, though, that as many bad memories as I have of Babylon 5, I know I'll probably never leave, not while the place is still standing. "I'll probably be here when they turn out the lights," is what I say, and my friends laugh, because I've pretty much always been here. I'm a fixture, I guess, like the chairs in C&C, or the Zocalo sign.
Four years ago, we never knew if there was going to have to be a Babylon 6. We never knew from one day to the next if we'd make it. A few times in particular, I'm pretty sure we shouldn't have made it. I don't know what to tell you about those times, except that maybe there was somebody looking out for us. Never been all that religious myself, but you never know, right?
So now we're here, and it's not the end of the road, just the start of another one. And somewhere along the way I realize that we made it, that five stations and a couple lifetimes and a hell of a lot of light-years later, we did it. Not exactly the way Santiago and the others planned on things going when they were building Babylon 1, but maybe in a better way. We built this thing that looked crazy on paper, except that it worked, and it's going to keep on working even after all of us are gone.
And I was a part of it, a part that we all kept to ourselves, a private little joke. Ivanova called it "one last little irony for Clark to chew on when he's on his way to hell".
Two or three decades from now, we'll probably still be laughing about that one.