k (channe) wrote in rangersredux,
k
channe
rangersredux

ghosts of coriana | 2

Na'feel's first view of Minbar - helped along by feeding her last five credits into a payviewer in the bowels of an ancient, sputtering Brakiri refugee freighter - had taken her breath away. It hung in space, surrounded by the smooth, predatory lines of thousands of Sharlins and Whitestars, untouched by the bloody war that had torn her homeworld apart. It was Na'feel's last hope of amnesty -- her last hope of a future where she could do something like bring her years of experience running her father’s engine shop to good use.

So the pretty mechanic's daughter, a mass-driver survivor and unwilling murderess, arrived on Minbar with only the clothes on her back, fifteen credits, a hastily-scrawled piece of parchment with the name of a contact at the Tuzanor Anla'shok training facility, no knowledge of Adronato - and a copy of the book of G'kar. 

</font>

If G’kar could change, so could Na’feel.</font>

But she hated the whiteness. She hated the blueness. She hated the soft pastel inland seas and the tall, thin, soaring mountains with their cold snows and icy, stabbing spires. She hated the way the brilliant Minbari sun reflected on the crystalline towers, sending her into fits of near-blindness, and she hated the silent streets of Tuzanor and their artificial, triangular setup. She hated Tuzanor herself, where the only other aliens were Alliance delegates that saw her either as a savior of sorts -- the last, best hope for Ranger integration -- or a freakish, overgrown lizard who belonged anywhere but in the uniform of the Anla'shok.</font>

For the sake of G'quan, she found herself muttering more than once a day. I'll never understand aliens.  

G'kar had taught her tolerance through his words, but sometimes she just wanted to bring a torch to that irritating, omnipresent Minbari haughtiness. During her training, she hardly left the Ranger compound, as it was designed to be far more welcoming, far more universal, dark, and warm, she thought, then Tuzanor's wide, floodlit avenues. She found herself frequenting the close, dark confines of the engine rooms of Nials and assault-class vessels, the cold embrace of piping and wiring enveloping her. 

Since her assignment to the Liandra, she barely changed her usual pattern, preferring to stay in the engine room, wrench in hand. Mornings like this were almost unknown -- after nearly getting run over with nary an apology on the airfield by three worker-caste janitors on a cargo loader, she had spent an hour and a half, measured in Minbari time, attempting to convince the Regional Quartermaster's attendant that she was, indeed, qualified enough to service her very own fuel-injection system.  

Na'feel wasn't usually the type that enjoyed wordplay, and although she got a sense of perverse pleasure by saying to herself we complain for the One, we haggle for the One, the excuses the front-desk Ranger were giving her as to why the system wasn't serviced on time were getting ridiculous. Keeping her voice carefully neutral, she informed the attendant that she'd return later and decided to take her chances with the rapidly moving cargo loaders on the airfield. As she pushed open the door, she felt eyes boring into her back; without even turning, she knew that the young worker-caste attendant had been staring at her.  

That's right, sweetie, Na'feel thought. Stare at the ugly alien.  

Slouching angrily back against the outside wall, Na'feel closed her eyes and listened, attempting to draw on some of her training to calm herself down. Drowning out the deathly silence of the Minbari afternoon was the clamor she loved - engines firing, tools clattering on the deck, somebody (a human, she supposed, as Minbari languages were curiously devoid of profanities) swearing.

And that's when the idea occurred to her about what exactly she could do to speed up the process.

I haven’t had a good fight in ages, she thought. I think it's about time.</font> 

----

As much as he hadn't wanted to admit it, Kitaro had been very glad of the peace and quiet afforded him by Na'feel's absence that morning. In the Liandra's cramped hallways, he ran - sometimes literally - into the Narn engineer at least five times a day, as she made her way to the quartermaster's, or the engine room, or the bridge, or back from the quartermaster's laden with engine coils.  

It was at times like that, pinned up against the wall as a constantly fuming Narn raced down the corridor laden with tools Kitaro had never seen before, that the navigator swore he would never in his life understand the Narn penchant for adding vitriol to everything they did. 

Daily dealings with an angry Narn aside, Kitaro walked the deck of the Liandra as if it was a dream that threatened to end at any time. He had not distinguished himself in training, nor had he accomplished anything flying in a non-combatant wing of Nials during the Centauri conflict. He had been about ready to space himself from boredom when Martel had invited him to pilot the Liandra.</font> 

Kitaro, who recieved the news while attempting a three-hundred-degree fate twist in a Meridian ion storm (in the simulator, although he made it a habit of not mentioning that small fact to women), took about three seconds to say "yes." He was even able to say it through the overwhelming disbelief that someone would actually consider him as a pilot suitable for an attack ship.  

The Liandra wasn't exactly as advanced or as beautiful as a Whitestar, but it moved as gracefully as any Minbari vessel, banked and turned as easily as a fighter, and used an intuitive series of hand movements to control speed and vector. The Liandra also had the worst record of any Ranger vessel when it came to breaking down and falling apart, which meant that Na'feel spent more and more time running to Tirk for spare parts, which meant that Kitaro was subjected to her endless tirades for greater periods of time...  

But, in the end, Kitaro was damned happy to be there.</font>

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