So Let The Flames Begin
Some when in the night I woke from faint rustling and an soft light. I realized instantly that nobody was lying beside me anymore.
I ordered the computer to turn on light. Thanks Valeria, he only cowered on the writing desk chair and read. His eyes looked tearstained.
"I am sorry, I didn't wanted to wake you.", he looked so young and fragile.
I walked towards him and hugged him. He returned it very, very deeply, as if he wanted to hold onto me. I felt every detail of his body, as if I had to save this memory forever. "That's not that bad."
"Everything in my life I did to serve our people.", he said dully after a long break, "But how can I still do that, when my own clan has expelled me? How can I serve the Minbari if one has expelled me?"
"You still belong to our people, and you are still as sacrificing and honorable as before. And now, as you serve not only just your clan, but in first place all of us, you can maybe do that even better than before.", I tried to comfort him, despite I know, that this couldn't ease his pain too. He pulled me tighter to him and hid his face in my shoulder.
"I have spent the first twentyfour years of my life solely here.", he mumbled toneless.
"I am so sorry, Lennier. I didn't wanted to do all of this to you.", and I didn't knew if I talked about his banishment, my attempt to blackmail his clan or all the times in which I had simply exploited his help because I needed it so desperately, without being able to even just treat his friendship with the respect it deserved.
And I hold him as he cried. It hurt so much to see him suffer, yet it also brought a new kind of closeness.
Only at daybreak we were finally weary enough to be finally able to sleep.
I had waited for hours in front of the room and prayed, as finally Lennier left the mass and we made it on our way to my shuttle. On the way the glances of the monks and nuns followed us, yet I didn't care. Only cold fury built steadily in me.
Then, as we crossed an broad corridor that pillars and wall ornaments adorned, a young woman and an just as young man approached us. Already their slightly ducked, lithe posture showed their hostility. The woman fixated me with her gaze. She was clearly taller and more muscular than I. The boy reminded me with his petite frame, the narrow, soft face and the even in skulking almost humble posture unpleasantly at Lennier.
They wouldn't attack us, I said to myself, disdainful gazes and humiliating sayings were one thing, but the Third Fane of Chu'Domo wouldn't be so dishonorable to in truth physically attack us.
They were closer now, and the paces of the woman became even more purposeful.
"Traitor!", she pressed out as if she had to make fast work of it or else would lose courage. And then she kicked. I had halfly braced myself. Not enough to block. Pain in my flank, I was thrown against Lennier. We toppled against one of the pillars.
He screamed out pained, a high, shrill screech. Sharp pain, at every breath trough my torso. At least I could breath.
The woman already took a swing for the next kick, the boy close beside her.
Where was something here that I could use as Denn'Bok-surrogate? I was no especially good close combatist without weapon. If one of them was as good as Lennier…
Damn. Damn damn. I grabbed his crutch. Managed just barely to bring it between me and the kick for my head.
I stumbled backwards, dodged an karate chop, went in small, fast footsteps forward, everyone accompanied with an blow. Compel them out of the corner. The crook was badly balanced, the handle bothered.
The woman dodged, sprang forward immediately and stroke or kicked. Every time when she did nothing, the boy attacked, I had no time to look for targets or weaknesses in their defense.
The woman could dodge my blow from above only in the last moment. I pursued. But she blocked without even contorting her face with her lower arm, and used the small distance between us immediately to rim her foot in direction of my stomach. Only in the last moment I could bring my improvised fighting pike between. The force let me stumble backwards. Strands fell before my eyes, I wished I had braided my hair back.
Already her fist shot towards my face. I blocked, the staff between both hands, and her hand smacked against the metal. She contorted her face in pain, yet made no sound.
Damn deluded fanaticans. I had to show them that they couldn't simply do this with me!
I noticed vaguely how Lennier tried to pull himself up on the wall, but was pushed back by the boy, yet I was to preoccupied with his fighting comrade to really perceive it.
The boy hasted towards me. His arms were to low. I slogged him the end of the crook into the face. He stumbled backwards, whimpered and held a hand in his face. I felt no pity at all, only grim delight.
Then a dull bang, a yelp, and he sunk permanently against the wall.
He had completely forgotten Lennier, and had come to close to him, what he promptly had quitted with an kick of his healthy leg against his shin.
Distracted by Lenniers intervention into the fight I could hardly block the next attack of the woman. Yet already she kicked after my leg. I didn't managed to change sides of my staff in time.
Sharp pain quivered trough my knee and then every single muscle and tendon in my lower leg and foot. Only with pure force of will I managed that my leg did not simply collapsed under me. But I wouldn't let these racists have this satisfaction. They had humiliated me already enough. I wouldn't let them destroy everything I had built up so painstacking.
We stared at each other for a moment. He skin at her knuckles was bursted and bleed, and her right hand shook a little bit, but she stood unblinking in fighting stance before me.
I walked towards her as good as it was possible with my injured leg. Right attack. Other side forward, left. Don't ever give up. Don't pay attention to the pain. She bashed after me, I almost fell because trough my injuries I had no secure stance anymore, yet I could push her hand away from with a swipe of the staffs end. Her left flank was unprotected. Only a fast move down, building up momentum, then my improvised fighting staff smacked into her ribs. I hit her again as she doubled up.
She stumbled back, and was hardly able to stand upright, the one hand she held before her stomach as if she could ease the pain like this, the other still quivered in attack stance in my direction.
I wanted to respond to her with an variance of "If you value your life, be somewhere else", but in face of the truth that the clan saw me as a monster and traitor already now that seemed less advisable to me.
"I did not want to hurt any of you. But when you don't retreat immediately I can't gurantee that not maybe a few blows hit you nevertheless. Disapear!"
Finally the woman skulked back backwards, half she carried, half pulled the boy.
I stayed breathing hard and completely exhausted. My ribs throbbed. Sharp pain in my knee, and everything underneath it I couldn't feel at all. I still held the crook like a weapon in front of me. A bit abashed I gave it back to Lennier.
"Are you hurt, Delenn?"
I palpated my flank. Everything felt normal, even if it hurt awfully to touch the skin. "No rib broken. But that will add up to a hematoma of the size of my hand. And I can't feel everything under my right knee anymore, but I can still move it. Is everything okay with you?"
I held out my hand to him and pulled him up.
"Yes.", he said. I knew him long enough to see from the pain-contorted twitch of his lips that this wasn't the case.
I limped off.
"This is direction of the mass."
"Certainly. It has started since already some minutes, hasn't it?", I growled, "I won't tolerate all of this any longer."
"Delenn", he pleaded, "please don't do anything that will harm my clan."
"Oh, it wont harm it. Only their conscience and their disgusting presumption."
Hidden at the back end of the hall we waited until the current prayer was spoken to the end.
"Ensure that this is recorded and ends up in the internet, no matter as if as transcript or video. That is something that concerns all Minbari, not just your clan.", I ordered Lennier. He nodded, still a bit confused, and raised loyally the old, battered camera of his aunt.
Between the rows of praying people I walked towards the altar. If need be I would keep them at bay with arms and feet, like back then, as I had spoken to the masses after the allegend Kamikaze attack on Za'Ha'Dum, and simply continue speaking until I was finished.
I paced up the steps to the triangled altar and stood in front of it. The priest, who had just wanted to speak the next prayer, stared out of concept at me and opened his mouth to scorn me, but as I stared at him resolutely he gulped and crept away backwards.
An acolyte stumbled towards me and mumbled: "You are not allowed to be up there!"
"I am Delenn, uniter of the worlds, renominater of the Grey Council, I am surly powerful enough to decide myself where I am allowed to be and where not, and I have to deliver a message. But I admire your bravery, acolyte."
Her jaw muscles twitched, she breathed in deeply once and then scurried away.
"What is it that makes us Minbari?", I called into the crowd. Thoughtful and curious looks.
"From where does an alien freak like you know that?", only one person hollered.
My heart squashed together, yet I let nothing show and continued to speak: "Especially an 'alien freak' like me inevitably has to understand this topic! Then how often do I surly have doubted to be a Minbari myself, and so have recognized all the more what it means to be Minbari? You believe my half-human body and the truth that I work together with people of other species would make me to a perversity, an traitor. You call me a monster."
"You are a monster!"
"But do you really believe our genetic features only would make our people? That honorable behavior and our culture mean nothing? No, what matters is community."
I thought at Lennier, and his sacrifices: "We don't act for ourself, but for our people. That is what makes us unique among all civilizations. That is our greatest strength. We, all Minbari, create an community that works together for a common goal."
Approving gazes. Some also seemed stunned, and a man at the front row looked scornful, as if he found it silly to hear that from a hybrid of all people. Hopefully they took the rest of my speech just as kindly.
"Does that mean we have to expel everybody different from this community?", I breathed in deeply, tried not to think about that the crowd in truth thought that about me. And I raised my voice, as if to drown out the contradictions I expected now already in advice. "I say no, then that means to confuse community with exclusion and elitisity. Especially the best communities stand out due including differences and to use them and still unify all to an whole. This is what challenge of our future will be.
Don't just only our culture and our traditions make us to Minbari? You believe, we would give up our own culture and only adopt those of the aliens, if we opened for persons from other peoples. It is an terrifying, painful process, but without it we can't exist as society. Shouldn't we not think about how we can bring our culture with all its good with us in our new future then, and how we could maybe even let other species participate in it?"
My heart raced with passion and I felt how not only this skeptical crowd but also all the power of my vision surrounded me, and everything I had reached until now.
"We all built our future together. Yet when parts of our society put themselves against it they only forfeit to contribute to it. That should not mean that there are no different opinions allowed. Dialogues and the solutions growing out from it especially will play an important role in this process. But don't put yourselves against the future, then wouldn't this be also against the community that makes us who we are so much? You can't stop the change anymore. Don't you want to contribute to it then?
All of this will not be an easy task, but I am sure we will manage it. Together."
The audience was silent and stared. And then, oh so slowly, mumbling raised. Discussions. As it should be.
And so I paced back to Lennier, and together, my hand around his upper arm, we left the mess.