The Wheel of Years
Disclaimer: Babylon 5 and its characters don't belong to me. The characters mentioned all belong to J. Michael Straczynski.
"The Wheel of Years"
by Christine Anderson
aka Anla'shok Ivanova
Written for the Theatrical Muse 'New Years'' challenge.
2257: New Years' Day
She's sitting in the middle of the Gigmosian party, watching her friends and colleagues acting out the celebration of a long-dead culture, her hands folded on the table before her, and all she can think is, I'm not doing this again.
It's a hell of a find. She knows that; they all know that. This is the find of the century, and she's just starting to get a grasp on what that really means. And she's finding that, much as she's fascinated by it, much as she wants to learn the answers to all the questions rolling around in her head, she doesn't really like it.
The old year is ending, and she's finding that she doesn't know half of what she thought she did. About any of this. She has been told lies and half-truths by people she trusted, has been kept in the dark about things that she needed to know. She feels surrounded by secrets, weighted down by them.
Her old friend, her mentor, Dr. Chang, is playing politics. She wants to hate him for it, but is angry at herself because she can't. Because she understands the need that must be pulling at him, to be a part of this at any cost.
And yet somehow it's Morden she wants to go to, Morden whom she wants to curse and scream at and punch.
She's tired of secrets. She wants answers. And suddenly she doesn't trust Morden, knows she can't trust him- but she trusts him to give her those answers.
She resolved the day they set out, that she would bring him out of his shell, that somehow she would help him overcome his grief, move beyond the deaths of his wife and daughter. She was going to make it her New Years' resolution, if she hadn't made enough progress by now.
But now she has something else, something more.
She resolves to find the truth.
She resolves to find the answers to her questions, to learn the secrets of Alpha Omega 3 and its lost inhabitants.
She resolves to do her job, the job for which she has sacrificed so much, even if nobody else gives a damn.
She is unaware of the passage of time, now. She does not understand New Years' or resolutions, or the ways in which she kept and did not keep the last ones she ever made. She knows only the machine, the ship of which she is heart and- soul? But she does not now know 'soul', either as a word or as a concept, and perhaps this is a mercy, for she was without one, now.
But in the back of her mind a flicker of memory stirs.
Not doing this again.
She remembers- or thinks she does- a time without the machine. Just a moment, a world of strangeness and changing things, and she misses- there's an emotion, a feeling, but she can't quite catch hold of it. It is like her joy at the bonding with the machine, and yet not. It is warm and soft, like the embrace of the machine, and yet...and yet.
The war will come, soon. She feels it, and knows it, and the Eye tells her it is so. She longs for it, longs to whirl and swoop, shriek her war cry with its energy beam of destruction...
She resolves. She will achieve victory. The greatest joy is the ecstasy of victory.
2261: New Years'
She remembers it all now, the horror and the moments of clarity when she almost knew...
Oh, John, I'm sorry.
The grief flows over her, from her, in waves, but part of her soars with joy. All the obstacles they had thrown in his way, all the times they- all of the times that she- had tried to stop him, and he had done it, anyway.
It's not over, not quite yet. But the war has turned, and it has turned against the liberators- no, damnit, the Shadows. And she's not certain, still, how it will end, but she knows they have a chance now.
She wishes she could claim some responsibility for it, that she could truthfully say that she had done something, anything, to help. But all she had been able to do was stand in the way.
She lingers at Z'ha'dum though there is no reason to, listening to the voices of the past because she cannot close them out. She cannot stop hearing Morden's cries, Justin's, as their world falls into fire around them.
They had wanted chaos, had wanted bloodshed. And if they had been unable to control those forces they unleashed upon the galaxy, it was no more than they deserved.
Perfection through victory, she thinks, and realizes only then that she is furious. Furious with them for what they did to her, and with herself for not being strong enough to stop it.
She knows suddenly that the voice she hears is not Morden, that it is not Justin.
He stands before her then, and he offers her his hand.
She sighs; looks at the hand, but does not take it. "I'm dead. Did you know that?"
"I knew it," he said. "Do you mean to linger here, then? There is nothing for you here."
"There is nothing for me anywhere," she says, realizing as she speaks that it is true.
"Do you remember your resolve, Anna?"
What a question. Does she? She shrugs. It doesn't matter.
"But it does," he says, and she is not surprised by his words, though she knows she did not answer aloud. "You wanted answers. Do you still?"
No! part of her screams, and she shies away from the question, from the very thought of it...and yet she finds herself nodding.
"Yes," she whispers.
She still has, somewhere within her, the archeologist's desire to understand, the scientist's curiosity. And there is more. She was part of it, is still part of it now, and she wants to know...what it is about. What it's really all about.
"My name is Lorien," he says. "If you would know the truth, if you would know the end, come with me."
"John-" she says, and grief overwhelms her. He is dead, now. She has, in a way, killed him. "Oh, God, John-"
Lorien smiles. "Come with me."
And she does.