|Babylon 5: Vir Cotto, Prompt 033 – Too Much
||[Feb. 15th, 2006|01:22 pm]
The Ultimate FanFic Challenge!
Title: Crisis Point
Fandom: Babylon 5
Characters: Vir, Lochley, Zack
Prompt: 033 – Too Much
Word Count: 1176
Rating: General Audience
War is on, tempers have reached a fever pitch, and Vir is called to lead.
Fifth Season. Missing scene for Movements of Fire and Shadow.
Vir felt as if the walls were closing in. He had set the lights within the unfamiliar sleeping cubby to low illumination and had adjusted the circulation system to blow cool air on his face. Still, he found himself imagining that he was resting, alive, in his own tomb.
Beyond that creeping fear, there were many others. Hours ago, he had received word that Londo had been imprisoned in the palace. For what reason, Vir didn’t know – the minister who contacted him did not deign to tell him. But Vir had a fertile imagination and enough knowledge to deduce that something was very wrong back home.
Londo was the second most powerful man on Centauri Prime. Why hadn’t he been informed that the Republic was poised to move against the Alliance? It didn’t make sense. Something strange – and terrifying - was going on.
Vir sighed. Turning over, he closed his eyes and struggled to banish the anxious whispers from his mind. A few minutes later, as he was about to drift off into a troubled sleep, his Babcom signaled. Lurching awake, he hit his head.
“I’m sorry to wake you, Mr. Cotto,” said Captain Lochley as Vir rubbed at the rising knot, “but there’s been another murder.”
This one - the seventh since the war began - was different. Vir knew the victim. Claudio Amadon was apprenticed to Londo’s tailor; Vir had vetted the boy’s travel papers himself as a favor to an old contact in the underground. When he walked into the Med Lab and saw the blood drying on Claudio’s normally cheerful and animated face, his hearts sank.
“Do we know what happened?” Vir asked. Swallowing against his rising gorge, he closed Claudio’s eyes.
“We have a few leads,” said Mr. Allen. “I have several teams tracking down witnesses.”
“We’re doing everything we can, Vir,” Lochley added when Vir failed to respond. “I’ve doubled security on every level and opened temporary quarters to any Centauri willing to move. But those measures can only go so far if your people do not cooperate. I’m sorry – I wish I could give you better news.”
Vir nodded stiffly. “I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.” He took a deep breath and straightened his shoulders. “But this is the seventh family I have to contact, and I… I-I still don’t have anything to say… no explanation to offer them. So I-I’m sorry, but…” Vir’s voice broke, and a brief silence passed before he was able to speak again. “But your apologies aren’t much of a comfort right now. If you’ll excuse me… I-I have to go.”
And, avoiding the eyes of the others, Vir walked right out the door.
For an hour, Vir sat in his quarters trying to find the words he needed to comfort and reassure House Amadon. But if there was anything that made him fully aware of his own shortcomings as an acting ambassador, it was this, for he couldn’t muster the eloquence he thought was required. Frustrated and dangerously close to a minor breakdown, Vir undressed and climbed back into his coffin-like bed, hoping that the inspiration would come to him in sleep - and wishing, deep down, that Londo was here. Londo always knew what to say.
Alas, Vir didn’t even have a chance to close his eyes before he was once again rubbing his aching head and squirming into his dressing robe. “I-I’m coming!” he called out as he forced his right arm into a sleeve and stumbled to the door. On the other side stood a security contingent and several Centauri merchants. Vir instantly recognized Londo’s tailor within the group, and his stomach contracted painfully.
“They demanded to see you immediately, Mr. Cotto,” explained one of the officers, looking as if he felt genuinely guilty for the intrusion.
Feeling naked, Vir, his ears pinking slightly, nodded and ushered the merchants into the room, shutting the door behind them.
They started in at once. “The Humans’ inaction is unacceptable,” said one, a bone painter named Sexto Publianos. “How long do you expect us to suffer these losses?”
Vir sat down heavily on the arm of his sofa and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I-I don’t know what you want me to say, Sexto. Captain Lochley has directed every available resource towards ensuring our security.”
“Yes,” said another bitterly. “We are to be herded like common animals, unable to move freely, as is our right.”
“And it is not simply the murders, Cotto,” Sexto added. “Several of our shops have been vandalized. Some of us have been unable to conduct business at all. Perhaps it is easy for you, with your stipend, to sit and wait passively for all of this to end. But my accounts cannot wait.”
Vir rose. “Are you suggesting,” he asked tightly, “that I don’t care about what’s happening to all of you?” After everything, this was almost too much.
“If you care, then show it,” said Gaio, the tailor. “Let us fight back, for bread and honor’s sake.”
“You can’t do that.”
“So you will let Claudio’s murder go unanswered? Are we all to offer them our lives?”
“No, that is not what I’m saying!” Vir replied, his voice rising in pitch. A moment passed before he could catch his breath and reign in his temper. “Listen to me, all of you. I’m not saying that you can’t defend yourselves if it’s necessary. But if you go looking for a fight, needless blood will be shed, on their side and ours.”
Surveying the stony faces of the assembled, Vir sighed. “I know you all have little reason to trust me… and I do understand how you feel. I do. But I’m asking you now… please. Let me deal with this my way. Let me set up a meeting with Captain Lochley so we can handle your grievances diplomatically. It won’t help if we all lose our heads. It will only invite more reprisals, and I would like to avoid that if it’s possible. Too many have died already.
“I will see what compensation I can get for all of you for the loss of your business. I won’t make any promises I can’t keep, but I will try the best I can. Maybe you don’t believe it, but your lives do matter to me. I know what my responsibilities are,” Vir finished fiercely and without a single stammer, “and I take them seriously.”
After a tense moment, Sexto relented. “We will wait, as you’ve asked. But our patience is not infinite. If you cannot secure our safety and our livelihood, we will have no choice but to act.”
Vir waited until the merchants left to relax his guard. Shaking, he sat down on the sofa and waited, his hand pressed against his mouth, for his hearts to slow. Then, trying not to think about the disaster he had just – hopefully – averted, he swallowed two doses of his headache meds, peeled off his robe, and crawled under his covers.
A few minutes later, the Babcom beeped again.