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Episode Two

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Nar'Bok looked in on his reluctant patient. They had brought Na'Tiel in, along with a body bag, three days ago. Nar'Bok had heard the news - who hadn't? - but one look at Na'Tiel told the story. She was tranked to the eyeballs, but still raved about helping Na'Tal, pleading for him to be given air, that he was really alright, he just needed oxygen. She had attacked a couple of crewmen who had tried to calm her - they would recover, in time. Even Ta'Bon would recover despite the hiding she gave him. They had tried keeping her in the brig, but she had tried bashing her skull in, then tied a sheet around her neck and attempted to hang herself. Whenever the drugs wore off, she screamed and battered herself against the bars. They moved her to a holding room with no bars, indeed no furniture or anything that she could hurt herself on except the walls and floor.

Na'Tiel was showing signs of rousing. Nar'Bok thought for a moment, then unlocked the cell door. He had another trank in his palm, just in case, but he wanted to try something.

"Na'Tiel? Na'Tiel? Can you hear me?"

She was shuddering, fighting off the tranks. Her skin was grey and her spots dull with exhaustion, but she was still fighting. Nar'Bok had never seen a more miserable Narn. He sat down next to her and gently stroked the side of her face. Her eyes struggled to focus on him, but his was not the face she wanted to see. She moaned and shrank further into herself.

"Shh, Na'Tiel, shh. Let me help you."

Nar'Bok was a good medic. He cared about his patients, even ones with diseases that would have them outcast from society or one with problems beyond his experience. Na'Tiel and her brother had been curiosities. They had seemed invulnerable, yet now, separated by the greatest chasm, Na'Tiel was reduced to the level of a child, albeit a large and strong one. So he would treat her like a child.

"C'mon. Let's get you sitting up." Nar'Bok lifted her up and cradled her against his body. "Ssh. Easy." She could only hurt him by biting or head butting him - her arms were restrained and her legs shackled.

Nar'Bok sat for half an hour, trying to sooth Na'Tiel. He held her close and stroked the bumps of her skull. Eventually, though, she came back to what remained of her senses and started struggling and screaming. Nar'Bok had no choice but to tranquilise her again. He sighed and placed her gently on the floor.

The next day he spent longer with her, trying to get her to drink a nutrient solution. He held her and cosseted her just like his father had done when his mother died, and she responded. It took some time for him to persuade her to get something into her system but eventually she drank.

Nar'Bok had been little more than a pouchling when his mother had died. She had been working in the food garden when she slipped and fell, ripping her thigh open to the bone on a gardening tool. The young Nar'Bok had been powerless to stop the bleeding. He had watched his mother's lifeblood draining into the soil, then run as fast as his pudgy little legs would go. But it was too late to save his mother.

Too late. His mother was dead and noone could replace her. But his father helped him through that grief, and so Nar'Bok tried to help Na'Tiel.

On the sixth day, he loosened her arm restraints for a while. She was so weak that he doubted that Na'Tiel would give him any trouble. For the first time in a week, she held her own drink. They had tried putting a drip in her arm, but she had pulled it out time and time again and then had tried to cannulate a major artery in her neck with the needle.

Nar'Bok watched as Na'Tiel sipped at the nutrient pack. Her earlier violence seemed to have left her, along with all her strength. She sipped again, then contemplated the pack. Her face crumpled and the drink fell from her hand. Nar'Bok caught it and set it aside. Na'Tiel turned upon him, impotently pounding at his chest with her fists.

"What's the point? Let me die."

Nar'Bok let Na'Tiel hit him. She had no more strength than a child and she knew it. Her attack stopped and she wept. Nar'Bok held her and stroked her and murmured soft words to her. He knew what it was to be left alone.

Three days later, Na'Tiel was transferred to a way station. Nar'Bok stayed with her - he was the only one who could control her. A body bag accompanied them back to homeworld. Na'Tiel was consigned to the world of the lost, but not forever, and put in care.

Nar'Bok found a temporary assignment on homeworld. He visited Na'Tiel as often as he could. She trusted him and would do as he asked. Eventually, she was released and taken in by her parents. They did their best to help their grieving, strange daughter. They blamed themselves for not separating the pair - such a close bond could only end in grief. Nar'Bok's assignment ended upon Na'Tiel's release and he was sent back to the perimeter.

Na'Tiel couldn't bear living in the house where she grew up. It only reminded her of what she had lost. Every little nook and cranny held memories. Even the jalwah tree in the yard...

That tree was her downfall and her saviour. One day she climbed it to the very top. Its branches creaked and protested under her weight, but she was careless of the danger. If she fell all the better.

A memory came to her unbidden. Here in this very tree she and Na'Tal had made plans for after the military. They would set up a freighter line and ply their trade thought the galaxy. Na'Tiel remembered those plans and a ray of light broke through the gloom of her mind. Maybe she needed to get out and fly again. It wouldn't be the same, nothing could ever be the same, and a freighter was poor replacement for a fighter...

Before she could fly, there was something she had to do. She travelled the parts of Narn that Na'Tal never got to see so that she could show him them when they were reunited in death. It was something for the memory of him that she kept deep inside.


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Na'Tiel's Story / Lynne / last modified 29 February, 2000