that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
by Teanna

No one else knows this, but Elizabeth Lochley keeps small bits of paper with words scribbled on them. Lines she'd heard once, and wanted to keep. Fragments of things she had been sent, once. Memos, memories, mementos.

When the long night comes, return to the end of the beginning.


The EAS Coronado is a nation-state on its very own, and Lochley is its Captain, King, and God-Emperor, all in one. She rules seven hundred people for several years, and performs marriages, baptisms and funerals. Sometimes her crew decides to go on strike - sometimes she has to handle first contact with an alien species - sometimes she's judge and jury in her own criminal court.

Sometimes she has to decide on the menu for a staff party.


Some news take years to catch up with them, out there on the Rim; some news are so important she hears them within weeks of the event.

One day they run into three White Star ships, and Lochley, a staunch supporter of the Interstellar Alliance (even if she doesn't always agree with it) - Lochley hails them and invites the Rangers for a meal. They accept as soon as they find out who she is.

She doesn't want to know what files the Rangers have on her.

Ranger Karl Asmussen is tall and dark and sad. He greets her with a formal bow and says:

"The Entil'Zha is dead, Captain. I'm sorry."

She takes a step back. Presses her hand to her chest. It must be ten years since they last spoke.

She draws breath. How to imagine a world without John Sheridan leading it. A Universe. That familiar voice, leading them. This loss is deeply personal, and yet not - it concerns too many people.

"No, please. That phrase belongs to me. I am sorry, for your loss."

Rangers bow their heads to hide their tears. She never knew.


They used to be married, but that was so long ago now, so short a time. It left nothing but memories, and they both married again, they both found some kind of true love with other people.

She knows how Delenn feels. Or, she thinks she does. You never know, with Minbari.

But the loss! The loss of someone who has led them all, for so many years. The loss of someone who had earned the right to lead them, because he had sacrificed his life to save them.

She knows the story, she knows it well by now.

He jumped, at Z'ha'dum, he fell, and died. And life was given back to him, he was restored, he returned and he was blessed and angels followed wherever he went.

That's what the story says.

She never saw any angels, she never did. She saw a man who fought to keep them safe, she saw that, and for her, that was enough.

But some people look for angels everywhere.


Some of her crew have erected a small altar in a nook off one of the main corridors. At first, it's not really an altar - it's a picture, and a candle in front of it.

She pretends not to see it.

Then there is a flower - stolen from the hydroponic gardens. Flowers. More candles, a note, two notes. A small table, a footstool for kneeling on.

Someone writes on the wall, in English, in Minbari: "He will return."

She still pretends not to see it.


The Drem are a small race, they have only a handful of planets and they don't reproduce much, these days, says the Ah'mari. The Ah'mari is the closest thing they have to an ambassador.

First Contact protocol. She knows what not to do. At one point, the humans believed they could fight the Minbari, and live.

do. not. make. mistakes.


When she is alone with the Ah'mari, it asks about human religion. She tells it humans have many different beliefs and gods.

The Ah'mari asks about the god Sher'dan. It has seen the altar, and asked the crew.

Lochley doesn't think it appropriate to say she used to be married to a god.


The Ah'mari asks to try some wine. It seems the Drem calendar is based around several holy days, days when they take some kind of drug and have visions.

Lochley pours some, but, as always, takes none herself. Tells the Ah'mari it's a taboo for her.

It drinks, and then makes rapid clicks with its tongue. It's the Drem's way of laughing.

"This is too weak for a real celebration," it says.

"Many humans feel the same way," says Lochley.


At some point, she asks the Ah'mari about the visions.

"Can a drugged mind really interpret - I mean, these visions, are they really true?"

"Oh," says the Ah'mari, "it is not the drug that gives us visions. We are a race of prophets."

"Really? The Centauri, too, have some kind of prophetic ability - though in their case it's deeply personal prophesies."

"The Ken'tri? I should like to meet one of that race."

Lochley smiles and says, that can be arranged. She knows the Alliance spiel by heart, she can recruit worlds and races by the bucket. She was, after all, trained by John Sheridan.


She has a dream of President Clark. He stands before her, PPG pressed to his head.

"Will you follow me?" he says.

She is wearing a Minbari robe. It's torn at the shoulder, the right shoulder.

"Will it save us?" she asks.

He smiles. And pulls the trigger.


In another dream, the Ah'mari stands before her, asks:

"What do you remember about your father?"

now she is three years old. now her mother is lying on the floor. now there is broken glass on the floor. now she cries. now her mother doesn't move. now she wants her daddy gone now his gone now gone daddy mummy sleeping mummy not moving hide hide hide the glass broken. hurts.

She is three years old and can't do anything. She is sixty years old and she can't do anything.


On their first date she told him she doesn't drink. At all. He just nodded, and ordered water for them both.

He never drank while with her. Not once.

Later, when they were breaking up and the fighting got really ugly, she hated him for that, too. That he'd just stop, for her, and not say a word about it.

Or if she hated him for being able to just stop.

She almost fell back into it, at that time. The self-hate, at that point, the loathing.


The Drem are humanoid and, like Minbari, have characteristics that appeal to humans. Big eyes, but not too big. Not insectoid, like the Gaim.

Lochley knows the Gaim ambassadors are bred to be human-like (Minbari- like, Centauri-like, Drazi-like...) and that most Gaim are even less appealing to humans than their ambassadors. The helmets help.

However, there are stories. Of humans who have lived with the Gaim, and returned to Earth, and locked themselves in sealed apartments. Refused to go outside.

Because. Nice though they are. The Gaim look like huge flies. Huge, talking flies.

And the idea that flies could grow as tall as any human...

Lochley isn't bothered, these days.

But she remembers swatting flies, on warm summer's days, she remembers killing them and Grandma saying, "you're the lord of the flies, honey, you are".

And she understands how people could refuse to go outside, after having lived with the Gaim.


Long after she's seen the last of the Drem, the Ah'mari returns in her dreams, asks other questions.

zoe on the floor bathroom floor cold. cold. coldstiff. the needle next to her hand, the blood on her face, the hand curved. when the end comes return to the beginning, no, thou shalt not want, no, no, the face of the enemy is your own face no. zoe. zoe. zoe forever without a future, zoe dead gone always. you do realise you have to want to stop, don't you. help help help yourself heal thyself no one can heal zoe now.


At one point, during those first crazy months at the station, he said, you are Ivanova's replacement, and she stopped him there. Said, that's not true, I am your replacement, not Susan Ivanova's. And then she wished she hadn't, because what she saw in his eyes at that moment, she had no wish to ever see again.

The litany, she heard it enough times during her six years at Babylon 5, the litany went Sinclair, Sheridan, Ivanova, Lochley and it just wasn't true. Wasn't true.

One day, Zack Allan leaned toward her and said, low voice, as if not wishing to disturb the dead,

"You know, he was dead, for a time, and she was still here. You could see it like that."

Damn Zack, he knew too much. Never did speak much, but knew.


She was asked to attend the closing (destruction) of Babylon 5. But they knew she was out here on the Rim, in her own little world where she is busy ruling her people.

And she was one of the station's captains, but she wasn't one of the Great Captains - there was only once of those, really - and in the long run, she did her time there and she served well, she did that. Did her part.

Wanted to go into uncharted territory, finally (and then she was a widow), and so she left the station and they had a party and John Sheridan was there.

They smiled at each other but really had nothing much to say. He grew less human with time - like the Rangers, curiously quiet men and women with a Minbari ethos and a vision they wouldn't share with just anyone.

Delenn at his side, always. Growing stronger in purpose as her hair turned more and more grey. Lochley wondered why humans wouldn't worship her, as well - but her kind of sacrifice was not judged as his was.

Maybe it was just that Delenn admired the humans too much. Humans want their saints to display a certain arrogance.


She was a wife, twice, but never defined herself as one. She was a soldier, and if, as in the old days, someone would erect a stone for her, she would have liked it to say just that: soldier.

She served.

She fought.

She's out here, on the Rim, in her starship - her own world.

And what she really wants. What she really wants

is to go beyond the Rim.


To sail into that black beyond and be like them, like the saints and martyrs and angels of her people - to go above and beyond and in return, in return, to see something no one else has ever seen.

Her finger, meeting God's finger, and in that moment of a moment, there would be a spark.


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