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Ysidra's Story ("Memorial Day")

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March 2248.

            Are we on? This is... this is the President. I have just been informed that the midrange military bases at Beta Durani and Proxima 3 have fallen to the Minbari advance. We've lost contact with Io and must conclude that they too have fallen to an advance force. Our Military Intelligence believes that the Minbari intend to bypass Mars and hit Earth directly and the attack could come at any time. We have continued to broadcast our surrender and a plea for mercy and they have not responded. Therefore we can only conclude that we stand at the twilight of the human race. In order to buy time for our evacuation transports to leave Earth, we ask for the support of every ship capable of fighting to take part in a last defense of our home world. We will not lie to you, we do not believe that survival is a possibility. We believe that anyone who joins this battle will never come home. But for every ten minutes we can delay the military advance, several hundred more civilians may have a chance to escape to neutral territory. Though Earth may fall, the human race must have a chance to continue elsewhere. No greater sacrifice has ever been asked of a people. But I ask you now to step forward one last time, one last battle to hold the line against the night. May God go with you all. [1]

            Ysidra Tapia is eleven years old. She developed telepathy nine, and left her family of birth for the Psi Corps. She is a P12, a future Psi Cop - very rare for a child from a normal home.

            She doesn't know that she will grow up to be a fighter pilot like her father and brother. Not a pilot in EarthForce - telepaths are not allowed to serve - but for the Corps, in the most elite unit, the Black Omegas. She doesn't know that she will intern and serve with the most famous and decorated Psi Cop ever - Al Bester. She even doesn't know that she will survive the night.

            She only knows that she is fearless.

            The school has heard President Levy's broadcast. One by one, the students file into the basement - the best her school can do for a shelter. The teachers tightly guard their thoughts and feelings, but Ysidra isn't fooled. The Minbari have arrived. Everyone is about to die.

            She thinks of home. Her life will end in the dark basement under the main academic building, far from the arms of her mother. Her father and brother will perish in the cold of space.

            No.

            She stops descending. The teachers urge her on, but she turns around and runs back up the stairs instead.

            "Ysidra!"

            She hears the teachers shouting after her. She feels the other students watching her, too, and she pushes her way past them - confusion, alarm, envy. They will follow their elders into the shelter, though in their hearts they wish they could be like her.

            The teachers make chase, but she is faster. They have a duty to protect all the children, she knows, even if it is hopeless. They pursue her for ten, twenty, thirty seconds before they break off.

            They will let her go now, she knows. It's over. She's free. She runs between the empty, silent buildings, heading for the wide open athletic field. They will shut the doors. She will not die underground.

            The March night air has a bite to it, and her lungs burn as she makes her way to the field. She has been told that telepaths like her, P12s, have made telepathic contact at a great distance, as long as they could establish line of sight. She lies back on the cold, damp grass, and looks up at the sky. She looks for her father. She looks for her brother.

            For what feels like hours, nothing happens - and then the sky lights up with stars.

            And the sky was full of stars, every one an exploding ship... every one of them ours...

            And she is transported back to the days before she joined the Corps, to Fourth of July picnics with her family. In her memory, she lies on the grass, but it is cool, and dry. The air is hot and heavy. She can smell roasted meat. The sky explodes in a brilliant display of fire and color, and that color is loud, angry, proud. That color screams of life, of freedom, of hope. Military craft fly overhead, and she can feel the ground shake.

            And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air...

            Here, all is silent. Dark. Cold. Dead.

            She stares into the night sky, trying to find her father and her brother, but the distance is too great. She cannot see the ships until they light up and die. She tries to count them, but there are too many. Far too many.

            She doesn't know that before morning, the Minbari will surrender, though not before obliterating EarthForce - of the 20,000 troops who go in, only about 200 will survive. She doesn't know that she will see the sun rise, and her teachers and classmates will emerge from their underground hiding place. She doesn't know that Earth will rebuild, and that one day, she will die fighting as bravely as her father and her brother - though because she was in the Corps, no one will honor her sacrifice.

            She only watches the sky explode with "stars," and thinks of her mother. She watches the sky until her eyes fill with tears, and she can't see a thing.

 

[1] In the Beginning (movie)