She wakes up to the voice saying something who are you? it has said a million times before. Her console lights hum and the air is thin. Her breath clouds, she squeezes her knees, it's cold.
Who are you?
I'm Lyta Alexander- and blood comes out of her mouth.
Her chest hurts when she coughs, and she's got a doozy of a headache, all bells and sirens and acid in her eyes.
Who are you?
I'm a level six telepath- and her ribs snap, her bones break, her skin stretches over torn ligaments and ripped tendons.
Who are you?
I'm a human from the planet- and she can no longer move or breathe.
She heard it in her sleep, in the middle of a dream about horses and men. But the men were all blank-faced and the horses who are you? ran the wrong way and bile chews at her stomach lining because she hasn't eaten in four days? Five?
There are dozens of them, hundreds, knife-edged and bitter and they're all called Kosh and they all know how to whistle. They whistle who are you? in her mind and the tenth time she awakens to it she knows it means are you ready to die? and she says yes.
She is on the ground, spreadeagled, a thousand angels in the air.
"Why have you brought me here?"
"You came," they say, and she knows it means "you have always been here." They speak in voices, they whisper. They whistle.
"Inefficient vehicle," they say and she knows they don't mean the life pod. "It needs fuel."
"I need to eat," she says. "I need water." They give her water. They cluck.
"Very inefficient," they say.
"I can't breathe here," she says, and they cut slits in her neck, gills, that bleed and flutter in the mist.
"There is a hole in your mind," they say. "We will fill it."
"I'm ready," she says, and five days adrift, she is.
They crawl through her eyes, in her nose, her ears, her pores. They slither in her veins and stick to the roof of her mouth. She swallows. "You will not leave this place alive," they say.
"I'm dead already," she says. "That's why I came."
"Yes," they say.
She doesn't know how long she stays there, on the ground, breathing Vorlon and coughing up blood, but they feed her, just enough, and they hurt her, just enough, and when they pull away she feels naked and very much alone.
"Who are you?" they ask, and then who are you? just to check.
I am a Vorlon, she says.
And when they bare their teeth, and when they tell her they will kill her people, when they tell her they will destroy a thousand worlds, wage unfathomable war, she just smiles. She won't remember later, but now she repeats it, rote, because they're inside her and they've saved her.
I am a Vorlon, she says, and it fills her with inimitable bliss -