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Title: In the Light of Two Moons
Author: Shakatany
Series: Babylon 5
Pairing: Neroon/Catherine Sakai

Rating: FRT
Chapters:
Disclaimer:
These stories are not meant to infringe upon the copyrights held by J. Michael Straczynski, Kathryn M. Drennan, Babylonian Inc. or Time Warner Productions. I'm merely playing with what they've apparently abandoned, adding my own take on that universe. It's not my fault...
my muse is forcing me to do it.
Summary: After "Objects at Rest" John and Delenn find that once again the dead do not stay dead.
Note: This fic is dedicated to John Vickery who has been described as having a voice that could melt the underwear off a cloistered nun at 50 paces.
So very true.

In the
light of two moons
crystal mountains gleam
within their hearts
no shadows fall.
--Shaal Mayan

Chapter 8


It was so reminiscent of that night over a year ago when she had taken Neroon to the Citadel that Dancer found it hard to believe so much time had passed since then. However, on this occasion, they were heading to the Pit as the sun was beginning to light up the sky. The Pit was a valley a few kilometers from their base about a mile in diameter with layer upon layer of crashed spaceships. Many were recognizable but there were some that were completely unknown to the current denizens of Limbo. In the distance behind them several airsleds followed.

Back at the base a still sleeping Jade had been left in the care of Tr'Gan. Anyani had not returned to the office building after the incident at the shore though they caught sight of her flittering about and peeking in occasionally. Eventually they would have to decide what to do about her but not today.

For a change Dancer wore a Drazi desertsuit, the billowing pants tucked neatly into soft boots which would be far more suitable for exploring wreckage though not as light and comfortable as her usual caftan and slippers. She nervously rubbed the silky fabric that covered her thigh; so much depended on what they might find. They were running out of time and options; they could all perish, leaving only traces to be discovered centuries hence, if ever. She never dreamed how apt the name they'd given to the planet might be

Neroon expertly landed the airsled on top of the bridge of the almost intact Brakiri carrier that was one of the first they'd explored once freed. Together they walked to the edge where a rope ladder was suspended. Peering down Dancer could see no end to the layers of wreckage yet somewhere below lay the surface of Limbo.

"The wreck is angled so it's probably more third level than second but the way it impacted part of it is higher. I'd just started exploring it when the call went out to help find Phuenden," Neroon said as he checked the ladder and began to carefully descend followed by Dancer.

The sun was higher up in the sky as they reached the wreck in question. The part Dancer could see made it likely that it was an old Taurean-class freighter possibly 50 years old which utilized centripetal force to mimic gravity. The ship was medium-sized which made it about 10 times larger than her Skydancer and would have had about a dozen crew members. Dancer searched for any sign of a name on the ship but if there was one it was hidden by other wreckage.

Cautiously they slipped into the opening in the side of the ship caused by a blast of some sort and turned on their headlamps. Dancer took a deep breath before descending further into the stale and fetid air. They'd entered near the crews' quarters where bloodstains and other evidence of violence marred the bulkheads. Whoever they were, they'd gone down fighting. Thankfully, in all their explorations, they rarely found corpses. Had the bodies been spaced or had the crew survived only to perish when the prison was destroyed?

Dancer always found it disturbing to be roaming about the crashed ships. It was as if she was trespassing amidst unseen ghosts who still clung to their ships; there was also the guilt of robbing the dead that always bothered her even though the rational part of her knew it was necessary and the dead were just that...dead.

The wrecks were mostly pitch-black inside and it was easy to stumble over unseen objects so they began walking carefully downward on the curving deck until their lights found a door. Dancer opened and stepped into a small cabin which was a jumble of furniture and personal items scattered about. At her feet Dancer found AV datacrystals with Terran and Martian labels. The Martian labels seemed to vindicate her wild hope that they had found the right ship. Examining them, Dancer found one marked "As Twilight Falls on the God of War", one of the great epic operas of the 23rd century written in the aftermath of the Food Riots by Ila Kiersaarge. She remembered attending the premiere performance on Earth with Jeff during one of their dating intervals. Dancer tucked it into the pocket of her outfit so she could view it later then, turning to Neroon still standing in the hatch, asked, "Where did you see that sign?"

He led her further down the corridor towards the recroom where a 3D wall mural filled most of one bulkhead. It appeared sort of abstract yet Dancer could make out a view of a tall mountain in the distance against a butterscotch sky. She was pretty sure it was meant to be Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the solar system. Two tiny moons hung in the sky and the setting sun consisted of elaborate curlicues with the design of the Thieves Guild visible in the heart of the sun. She looked at one of the broken mugs lying on the deck at her feet with an image of Mars embossed upon it. It was looking more likely that this was the Aelita! She said as much to Neroon.

"What is so special about the Aelita?"

"The Aelita belongs...well, if this is it, belonged to Jaron Carter."
"I don't understand."
 
"Jaron Carter of the first-landing Carters, one of the leading families of Mars along with the Lees, the Montoyas and a half dozen others, was rumored to be the one of the best smugglers in space, evading Earthforce when he supplied Mars during the Food Riots," she commented as she looked around the deck. "The last time I was on Babylon 5, before I journeyed to Minbar, I heard the ship had been lost on route to the Orion Colonies." Above them she could hear the sounds of the others entering the ship. "If this is indeed the Aelita we may have hit the jackpot. Better inform the gang."

Neroon left to retrace his steps back to the entrance as she continued to look about the room. It struck her as strange that the sign of the Guild was so out in the open even if no one but crew used the room. Debris was everywhere and as she walked closer to examine the mural she stumbled over a flat round object. Thinking it was a plate she picked it up to find one side had a polished brass surface. What the heck? Then she realized that it was about the size of the sun and placed it on the Guild sign where it clung, hiding the sign completely. At some point it had been torn lose to expose the sign to Neroon.

Her estimation of the captain rose but could he have been clever enough to hide any contraband from the Shadows and where would it be? Most customs searches focused on the storage bays where the trade goods were kept so it was unlikely that anything would be hidden there. Thinking hard she left the recroom to head to the engineering section when she found herself facing twisted bulkheads. The wreckage of the other ships above had effectively cut the ship in half; Taurean-class ships were especially vulnerable to such things as they were never meant to withstand gravity and the mass of debris now piling on top of the ship. She could only hope that they could access the engine room from some other point and hurried back to tell Neroon and the others. Slowly, one by one, they climbed back to the topside of the carrier and spread out looking for more of the freighter.

"There!" said Viddig, having cautiously climbed onto stern of the carrier and pointing to the right and downward, his Drazi eyesight seeing more clearly in the brightness of the day. The others rushed to join him. He was correct - barely visible beneath some other wreckage was what appeared to be the rest of the freighter. Carefully they tied the ladder to a piece of twisted metal that jutted from the stern, a souvenir of the fatal battle, and began to descend. They were able to enter the freighter via a large gaping hole in the port side of the ship and stood precariously in what was the engine room, now bereft of engines though ankle deep in water from the downpour of the previous day that had fallen into the ship.

"This is like the other ships. Do you really think there is anything left?" Neroon asked as he surveyed the area. Dancer shrugged and looked about; it seemed smaller than a typical Taurean-class engineroom but then she'd never been in one in near darkness. She waved Ni'Dayr closer; he had been an engineer in the Narn fleet. She pointed to where the engine had been asking, "What kind of engine do you think the ship had?"

He scrutinized the mounts, couplings and struts carefully then cautiously sloshed about the detritus-filled water, examining what remained behind when the engine was torn from the ship. "I'd say it was probably an Alandel engine or something similar from what's left."

Alandel Astronautics was the top engine maker in human space having been building engines since the 20th century starting with airplanes and graduating to spaceship engines with the coming of the Centauri. They were sleek and beautiful, far beyond her price range and utterly out of place on a 50 year-old freighter. She climbed over a pile of debris to an almost obscured plaque on the wall and brushed off the sign to read: The Aelita launched 2217 out of Meridian Shipyards on Phobos; Captain Josiah Carter commanding. Josiah had been Jaron's father if Dancer recalled the gossip correctly.

This was promising and she said so. They spread out, looking for any hint of a small hiding space for smuggling goods. While Dancer checked the deck, not easy with all the water, Neroon, warrior that he was, examined the gaping hole they'd entered from curious about the weapon that had made it. Something caught his attention; the hull was wider than usual though sealed off by the heat of the blast. He activated the dennbok and slipped it into a crevice and levered it open. There was far more space than was usual between the outer and inner hull. He called Dancer over and as she was the smallest person present, she squeezed inside. When she focused her light she saw box upon box fastened on the inner hull going all the way to the ceiling. Yes! she thought jubilantly, jackpot. She relayed that to the others and crept further in.

She stumbled over some debris; looking at it it appeared to be the remains of a generator. It would have been useful but it wasn't what she as looking for. She walked a bit further looking closely at the cartons. They were marked; some had weapons, probably PPGs, while others held explosives; there were even boxes marked emergency rations. She walked around until she reached the end, probably where the gangway connected the engine room to the rest of the ship. She walked back to where the others waited. "Nothing here of use except rations. Let's try the other side."

It was actually a bit easier to get into the other part of the concealed space once an entry point was found. Again she stumbled over the remains of a generator and some fuel cells. The section that had been blown out had probably contained those items. As she explored the remaining space Dancer figured that with a new Alandel engine replacing the older, larger, original engine, Carter had simply had a smaller engine room built within the larger compartment that wouldn't be detected by casual observation. She'd noticed that the inner hull was lined with kirrilium which would make it difficult for any detection device to expose the deception.

She passed row upon row of stuff they didn't need until finally she saw a box simply marked com. Could this be what they required or was it merely full of comlinks. Fortunately it was on the deck so she carefully detached it from the clamps holding it in place and dragged it to where the others could pull it out into the engine room. Ni'dayr pried it open with a crowbar that he'd found amid the debris. When he plucked the padding out they saw a Unicom 97, one of the latest model tachyon-transmitters. They stared at each other in shock for a moment until one of the Drazi exclaimed, "We're saved."

"Not so fast," Ni'dayr replied. "To get this to work we'll need quite a bit of power."

"Can our generator handle it?" Dancer asked.

"Probably but it will drain it, possibly beyond the point where it can regenerate, burning it out completely. And while it's hooked up we can't use the power for anything else."

They all looked at Dancer. The decision rested with her. If the worst happened could they live without the power for the lights and the cooler and recharging the engines of the airsleds and skimmers? They'd been so fortunate to find a functioning generator at all - it had seemed like a miracle back then. Now she was faced with one of the most important decisions of her life. Even with the additional rations in the wreck and whatever else was still salvageable, eventually the food would run out and, with the loss of Phuenden and his knowledge of hydroponics, growing crops in the greenhouse was no longer a certainty. Was it better to play it safe or take the risk? This might be their only hope to get off Limbo... it might be Jade's only hope to get off Limbo. With that in mind Dancer made her decision. She faced the others and said to Ni'Dayr, "Go for it. Make it work." And as she said it she thought of a line of an old play: I have set my life upon a cast, And I will stand the hazard of the die. They were committed. How it would play out only the universe knew.
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December 2012

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