(c) Copyright 1998 by Rhonda Eudaly. All Rights Reserved.
The man moved through the station without drawing attention. He found a similarly clad man standing next to a pillar with his back turned. With a half smile, the man quickly and silently swept up behind the man next to the pillar and drew a wicked looking knife. Suddenly, at the last moment before the knife found its mark, the man by the pillar turned and blocked the blow. Bright but cold blue eyes locked on fathomless dark eyes, only centimeters apart.
"You always were a slow student, Marcus," the dark eyed man said quietly.
"And you never bother to look down," Marcus Cole replied.
Both men glanced down at a second wicked looking blade ready to penetrate the dark eyed man's rib cage. Suddenly both grinned and embraced. The blades mysteriously disappeared within the folds of their clothing.
"Garrett! You weren't supposed to be here for another two hours!"
"We made better time in hyperspace than I thought," Garrett, a slightly older but still quite handsome Ranger commented, pulling Marcus around and heading for the nearest drinking establishment on the Zocalo. "Seeing as I am early, you can buy me a drink and show me something of this station you call home, Marcus ole buddy."
Marcus Cole could do nothing but laugh and do as he was told.
Michael Garibaldi saw the two Rangers sitting together at a back table and changed his direction to greet his friend. He paused at the table, checking out the newcomer.
"Marcus," Garibaldi said with a guarded nod. "Who's your friend?"
"Michael Garibaldi, may I present my friend, teacher, and fellow Ranger, Garrett," Marcus introduced with a flourish. "Garrett, this is Michael Garibaldi, Chief of Security."
"Garrett," Garibaldi acknowledged, looking carefully at the new Ranger. "Have we met before?"
"I doubt it, Mr. Garibaldi, I've never been on the station before," Garrett replied easily.
"My mistake then. Enjoy your stay," Garibaldi said before he headed off.
Garrett looked at Marcus with a grin. "I feel safer already."
"We should probably be going. Delenn will be waiting for us," Marcus said, getting to his feet.
The two Rangers stood outside the council chamber and watched as the members of the Alliance of Non-Aligned Worlds filed out, chattering among each other. None paid the least bit of attention to Marcus or Garrett. When the tide finally ebbed, the two pushed away from the wall and headed for the door. However, not all had left the council chamber.
Commander Susan Ivanova was in a hurry. She hadn't intended to be drawn into conversation by the Oletian delegate, not for that long at least. Now she was late for her next meeting. The commander was looking at her notes and not where she was going. She ran straight into Marcus. He caught her before she stumbled.
"I'm sorry, Marcus. I should've been watching where I was going," Susan apologized.
"No problem, Commander. I'm just glad I was here to break your fall," Marcus replied lightly.
Ivanova stared at Marcus for a moment, trying to regain her balance. Then she spotted Garrett. She stepped back to look at him. She stared at him puzzledly.
"Have we met before?" Ivanova asked. "I'd swear we'd met."
"Perhaps in the gardens outside of Lenz on Zandura Prime?" Garrett asked with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
"I've never been to Zandura Prime," Ivanova responded. "I don't suppose you have a brother."
"In fact I do. A twin brother. Haven't seen him in years. The name's Garrett."
"Forgive my awful manners," Marcus apologized. "Garrett is one of my fellow Rangers, Commander. Garrett, this is Commander Susan Ivanova, second in command of Babylon 5."
"Nice to meet you. If you'll excuse me, I'm really running very late for a meeting." Ivanova took a deep breath and hurried down the corridor. Garrett and Marcus watched her go.
"Seems like a nice lady."
"She's incredible..." Marcus began, then he saw Garrett watching him. "Incredibly competent at her job. She's a very good officer."
"Uh huh. Sure. Right. So does this incredibly competent officer know how you feel about her?"
"What makes you think I have feelings for Commander Ivanova, Garrett?" Marcus asked, trying to appear innocent and failing.
"The moon-eye'd look your face when you looked at her. The stupid look you have on your face now. You haven't told her, have you?"
"There hasn't been time, what with the war and all."
"Ah, yes, the war. I see. With excuses like that, you'll be alone forever," Garrett told him.
"Thanks a lot. We should be going in now. Delenn's waiting for us."
Garrett preceded Marcus into the room and called over his shoulder. "Yes, we mustn't keep Delenn waiting."
Minbari Ambassador Delenn stood before a man perched on the edge of a table. Captain John Sheridan smiled at something she said. Then Delenn's nearly ever-present aide, Lennier, spoke softly to them and nodded toward the two Rangers.
Delenn turned and smiled. Garrett and Marcus approached and offered her the sign of respect reserved for Ranger One. Delenn introduced Garrett to Sheridan.
"Garrett has my fullest confidence to handle the matter we've been discussing, John," Delenn explained.
"I put great faith in Delenn's confidence," Sheridan commented, then he studied Garrett. "Have we worked together before?"
"No, sir, this is my first time here," Garrett responded.
"Something wrong, John?" Delenn asked with the slightest note of concern.
"No, Delenn, it's just Mr. Garrett just seems familiar to me."
"I've been getting that a lot today. I hope that won't affect the job you need done," Garrett responded.
"No. You probably just remind me of someone I once knew. No big deal," Sheridan responded. "Now here's what we need..."
Deep in the bowels of Babylon 5 lay an area most people avoided unless they absolutely couldn't avoid it. Down Below existed solely from necessity and not from design or desire. People who had no place else to go found themselves there. Those who managed to work their way out of Down Below were few and far between. And those who remained lived in constant fear and in close proximity to the people who preyed upon the hopeless.
Two of these carrion spotted a likely bulk under the refuse of Down Below. With evil grunts and blunt instruments, the two circled the lump. They were just about to pounce when the bulk moved violently upward. A wild haired man erupted from the debris.
"Fee fie foe fum. I smell someone creeping 'round my slum!" the man cried, scattering refuse around them in a cloud as he spun around. In the ensuing chaos, the crazy man managed surprisingly accurate and painful kicks and blows to his would be assailants. They ran off with the man's ravings echoing in their ears.
When the air cleared, the man gathered his clothes around him in an incongruous regal manner. "Showed them. Amis can still hold his own!" Then the lurker suddenly got a faraway look in his eyes. "Why?" he whispered. Then his voice grew louder. "Why! Why are you here! Why have you come? The Face man cometh! The Face man cometh!" Amis fled the scene of the would be attack to fly in the face of some new demon of his own making.
Marcus and Garrett paused on the edge of Down Below. Garrett no longer appeared to be a Ranger. He'd been mussed, fussed, and had his clothes changed to near rags. Garrett looked down at his new wardrobe, then at Marcus.
"Do I look appropriately downtrodden?" he asked, spreading his arms for inspection.
"If I didn't know any better," Marcus replied with a grin, "I'd think you an admirable bum."
"Such an antiquated and insensitive term, Marcus," Garrett replied with a grin. "But I thank you. We're set?"
"Contact every eight hours. Signs and countersigns are in place," Marcus assured him.
"You had to be the one to come up with this one," Garrett sighed.
"Why? What's wrong with it?" Marcus asked innocently.
"It's natural for someone in Down Below to just happen to be saying, 'The itsy bitsy spider ran up the water spout'?"
"Do you think 'Down came the rain and washed the spider out' is any picnic for me?" Marcus demanded. "You have the emergency transmitter?"
"Yes, Mother, and a credit chip in my shoe in case I need to call a transport. Don't worry, Marcus. These guys are bullies. They won't stand a chance. Not against us."
"Just make sure you're not late for a contact. I'd hate to come in after you," Marcus warned. "These 'bullies' are also psychopathic killers."
"What do you think I am?" Garrett asked, wiggling his eyebrows. "A girl scout?"
"Of course not. A neurotic killer, perhaps, but hardly psychopathic."
Garrett merely waved as he walked away whistling "Hello Mudah, Hello Faddah." Marcus watched him go until he was out of sight. Then Marcus went on about his business until time for the first contact.
Garrett eased into Down Below and stopped. It had nothing to do with the hopelessness, despair and filth. There was something else, something pricking the edge of his consciousness and drawing him along a certain path. He thought he knew what he was about to find once he started on his path. It didn't stop him from meeting his destiny. The Minbari had trained him too well for that.
It took somewhat longer than he anticipated to come to where he needed to be. Within moments of Garrett stopping, another figure came flying up towards him. Garrett didn't even drop to a defensive posture. There was no physical danger. The figure stopped only inches from Garrett. The two men stared at each other. Twin faces. Mirror images. Only the clothes were different and the gleam of the eyes. One set and determined. The other burned with a fire reserved for religious fervor or madmen.
"Hello Amis," Garrett said neutrally.
"What are you doing here?" Amis rasped.
"I was going to ask you the same thing," Garret replied. "But we don't have time for a lengthy, heart-felt reunion at the moment. We cannot be seen together. At least not yet. It could be dangerous."
"Danger is relative, Relative," Amis replied, turning away. "Beware, brother mine, the whispers in the night aren't always voices of light, or in your head."
Garrett moved to follow his twin brother, but it was useless. Amis was gone. Garrett shook his head as he moved farther into Down Below. The shock of seeing Amis again after more than five years was already put behind him. He still had a job to do.
Michael Garibaldi sat in his office going over incident reports. It was the same collection of petty violations and aggravated assaults. Garibaldi went through most of them on mental autopilot. He kept trying to figure out why the new Ranger looked so familiar. Suddenly, Garibaldi sat bold upright in his chair and made a request to his computer.
"Amis?" Sheridan asked puzzledly a little later as Garibaldi sat in his office.
Susan Ivanova had been there when Garibaldi had come in and had stayed. "That name sounds familiar. Why?"
"He's a lurker Down Below. The one who helped us destroy that creature that came aboard with the Copernicus awhile back," Garibaldi explained, pulling up Amis' file.
"Then why are you showing us a picture of Garrett?" Sheridan asked.
"Because that is not Garret. That is Amis. And that's why we thought Garrett looked so familiar."
"He said he had a twin brother," Ivanova mused. "Explains a lot. But will it jeopardize Garrett's assignment?"
Marcus perched in an alcove on the edge of Down Below, watching his staff retract and expand. It was about time for Garrett to make his first check-in. The resident Ranger of Babylon 5 held little hope that Garrett would've found something so quickly, but schedules were schedules, and he could have gotten lucky.
Garrett wouldn't have called himself lucky. He found out much more that he thought he could in such a short time about the living--and dying--conditions of Down Below. He'd found one dead body by smell alone. By indications, the corpse was a victim of the animals he'd been sent in to find. The corpse had been a woman, as far as the Ranger could tell beyond the bruises and stab wounds.
His lip curled in a vicious but silent snarl. The animals responsible would pay for what they had done--both in this life and beyond, Garrett personally vowed that to the woman lying at his feet. He recovered the corpse and headed toward his contact with Marcus. He almost didn't make it.
Two men saw him moving through the area and considered him easy pickings. Garrett appeared unconcerned with his surroundings as he walked and appeared unarmed. Each could be a fatal flaw in Down Below; both would be a foregone conclusion. Garrett was neither. He was ready for the two when they jumped him. Within seconds, both men were lying unmoving but alive on the ground at his feet. He could tell by the ease with which he dispatched the would be muggers that these two were not the men he sought.
Marcus was starting to grow concerned. Garrett was almost never late, and now he was more than ten minutes late. Marcus paced the small confines of the contact area listening and waiting. Then there it was. The light strains of whistling. The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout. Marcus sighed and whistled in return. Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Garrett came around the corner, smiling grimly. "Do we actually have to say the words?"
"No, I think that's enough," Marcus replied. "Where were you? You're late."
"Trouble. I found a body, and then some guys decided they wanted to dance."
"And they decided to sit the next few out."
Marcus nodded. "Did you find out anything useful? Is there anything you need?"
Garrett shook his head. "It's early yet. But I think I know where to start looking. The body I found was a woman. They weren't nice to her before they killed her."
"Anything you need, let me know."
"You know, Marcus, I think I'll have everything I need down here. I found something that might be of help."
"What is it?"
"I'll tell you...when the time is right. I should be getting back." Garrett didn't wait for Marcus' reply. He merely vanished into the scenery.
Amis sat in the midst of well-organized rubble, cross-legged on the floor, peering down. He'd kept track of the window he'd found when the demon had come on board looking for him. He'd claimed the area for his own, and no one intruded on the wild man. Sometimes he found the stars soothing. Sometimes he watched them for any sign of the demons, or the Shadows he heard about through the station grapevine.
Amis felt the presence watching him but didn't look up. He didn't say a word either. Garrett crouched down next to him. "They are beautiful. Why do you hide in here? Why aren't you out there among the stars? You belong out there. Not trapped in here."
"They're not for me. They taunt me. They call to me, but I cannot go. This is where I belong until Judgment comes or this place is destroyed. This place...this trap...is me."
"What are you talking about? What happened to you? You're my brother. I need to understand."
"Understand? Understand?! What is there to understand? You weren't a GROPO like me. You joined the Rangers. You were the Shining One. I was the Other One. But I fought. I had a thing feed off my soul. Things in the night come after me, not you! You don't know what's out there, what comes after your soul. I do, and I can't face it again."
"So you live down here, like some kind of animal?"
"I exist here, Garrett. I stopped living a long time ago."
Garrett swallowed hard. "Come out of here with me, Amis. I have a mission to accomplish, but after that I want you to come with me. Leave this place, leave Babylon 5, let me help you."
"No!" Amis snarled, surprising his brother. "The things in that bump in the night are coming here. I will face them here. If necessary I will die here. And I don't need you to help me, my brother. Do what you have to do and leave me in peace."
Garrett knew Amis well enough to know when it was useless to say anything else. "Then help me, Amis. I'm looking for a couple of animals murdering men and women down here. I could use someone who lives here to help me identify them."
"They go bump in the night, and the screams echo in the hearts of all who hear," Amis muttered. "If you wait, they will come tap, tap, tapping on your chamber door."
Suddenly the odd lurker got to his feet and began to walk. Garrett got to his feet and paused before following. Amis glanced back only once, then continued. Garrett followed him to see where his mirror image would take him.
He heard the voices first, talking in low, guttural whispers. His Minbari-trained skills and senses picked them out almost as if he'd been telepathic. Garrett closed his eyes to focus his hearing a little more acutely, then reached out for Amis. His brother wasn't there. Garrett was surprised by the talented exodus, but not surprised. He set up surveillance on the cretins to make sure they were the ones.
The night passed. Garrett followed the three men when they moved. He listened to their bragging and story telling of their vicious exploits until he thought he would vomit. How Amis could have known these men were the ones Garrett was looking for would be a mystery of the ages. It made for a quicker investigation and a tidy ending to a sordid affair. About the time for Garrett's next check in, the animals decided to move on to their next victim.
The Ranger had a choice to make. Make his contact and lose his quarry, or follow the quarry and worry Marcus. Marcus would live with his worry. If all went well, the cretins he followed would not.
Marcus paced the contact point again. He knew every square centimeter of the area. Garrett was now over an hour late. An unforgivable sin in a situation like this. "Come on, Garrett, show up."
A noise drew his attention. Marcus crept out of the contact zone and spied Garrett, but didn't receive the contact code. The man nearly walked past with no sign of recognition when Marcus grabbed him and threw him down on the floor.
"Where have you been?" Marcus demanded. He studied the man on the floor then said, "Who are you?"
"The Shadows dance where there is no light. Keep up the pressure, and I will join them," Amis told him.
"Who are you?" Marcus demanded.
"I am the face of one you know but am not he. I have my own identity."
"Where is Garrett?"
"Stepping in the briar patch."
"Show me," Marcus demanded, pulling Amis to his feet. "I know you know where he is. If he dies, so do you."
"Come with me, if you dare, but don't threaten, I'm already there."
Marcus kept Amis within striking distance as they picked their way through the seeming deserted area of Down Below. Marcus knew there were many watching their progress, but none were seen or would be found if anyone wanted to ask.
"There she is," one of the cretins hissed, as they marked their prey. The third played lookout and had been silently taken out by an enraged Garrett.
A woman was warily watching where she walked. Unfortunately, the area she watched was away from the danger. She had no idea what was about to happen to her until it was too late. The two men jumped out at her. At the same time, Garrett sprung.
"Get him!" one of the two men screamed over the woman's reaction. "And get her!"
The woman had tried to run, but one man happened to get a hand on her and whipped her around before she could get away. Garrett couldn't rescue her and defend himself at the same time, but he gave it his best shot. If the woman hadn't been involved, he would have taken them down without breaking much of a sweat, but he had to be concerned with her life as well.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, two figures rushed into the fray in a blur. Amis took charge of the woman. The two lurkers melted into the scenery. Marcus and Garrett left a bloody and broken wake behind them. Marcus might have been able to control the situation, but Garrett had seen these men's work. They died fairly quickly but not painlessly. Garrett made sure they felt some of what they had done to others as they died in agony.
Michael Garibaldi stepped into Sheridan's office. Once more Sheridan wasn't alone; Delenn was with him. They both looked up and thought Garibaldi didn't look so good. Both the captain and the ambassador came to their feet.
"What is it, Michael?"
"A delivery was left for you in my office."
Sheridan and Delenn followed Michael back to the Security office. Three bodies lay in a heap on the floor. Marcus and Garrett lounged by the wall. Sheridan looked between the pile and the Rangers.
"These are the men?"
Garrett stood. "I regret they're no longer among the living, but I guarantee, these are the men you were wanting, and they are being judged in the hereafter. If you'll excuse me, Captain, Delenn, I need a shower."
A couple of days later, Garrett waited at the docking bay for his ship's departure. He looked up as Delenn and Lennier approached. He stood quickly and saluted her with great respect. Delenn returned the salute.
"You have served well, Garrett," Delenn told him.
"It is my life to serve the One," Garrett responded.
"I only regret you were not able to mend your relationship with your brother," she replied. At his look of surprise, Delenn continued. "Garibaldi figured it out. Sheridan told me. You know you can stay if you like. If it will help."
"Thank you, Ambassador, but no. What's done is done. Amis and I can't..."
"I wouldn't be surprised if you were wrong," Delenn said. "Safe journey, Garrett."
"And to you, Delenn, Lennier."
The two Minbari turned and left. Marcus leaned against the wall as they left. He came over then. "Don't be a stranger, Garrett. I don't see enough of my fellows here."
"I can see why. But with the One here, I think I can find my way back more often. Besides, someone's got to keep you one your toes. You're getting sloppy, Marcus."
The two Rangers embraced and Marcus faded away. Garrett was left alone. He went to find a window. He stared out at the stars. Then suddenly there was another reflection in the window. Twin faces but separate lives.
"I didn't think I'd see you before I left," Garrett said.
"Couldn't let you leave without saying something else," Amis replied.
"What? You made your position clear the other night. If you ever want to leave that place..."
"It is my place, Garrett," Amis told him with unusual clarity. "You have your place. I have mine. But I thank you for the offer, brother. That's not what I wanted to say though."
"Then what do you want to say, Amis?" Garrett asked gently.
"Through it all, Garrett, I'm proud of you, and I've loved you," Amis told him.
"And I you, my brother," Garrett replied gamely. "And I you, Amis."
The two brothers embraced until the boarding call for Garrett's ship. "I've got to go now, Amis."
"I know. Keep well, Garrett."
"And you, Amis, and I know you. When you decided to give up the madman act, talk to Marcus and Michael Garibaldi. They could use you."
Then Garrett left as he arrived, as quick and silent as a shadow, or more appropriately, a flicker of light. Amis stood at the window and with a hand on the pane, watched until the ship became another point of light in the star filled sky.