A View From The Front Row

A 'Judith Strikes!' fic, by Brother Grimace

(NOTE: This takes place during Act One of Esteemsters.)

Fall, 1997

Lawndale High School - Lawndale, Maryland

There was silence in the unoccupied classroom.

A blue light appeared in the back of the room, and coalesced into the form of a petite young woman, her face almost totally obscured by the red cloak she wore.

The young woman reached back into the cloak, as if she were searching, when the door to the front of the classroom opened and a forty-something man, wearing blue slacks and a pinkish, button-down shirt, entered the room.

The door closed behind him on its own several seconds after the man's entrance, and he stood behind the desk as he turned to face the intruder.

"Oh, it's just you," the young woman spoke, her voice overflowing with derision as she spoke. "I should kill you, too – but with what I'm going to do, you'll make yourself suffer far, far more than I ever could-"

Her words were cut off as the man lifted his head and looked at her; his eyes were filled with a brilliant blue light, swirling about as if it were alive. "Leave this place," the man spoke, his words not so much spoken... as though they were flowing through him. "She is not for you. Go. Leave. Now."

The young woman smiled - the only part of her face un-obscured by the cloak was her lower face - as the shades dropped without warning, casting the room into a strange maze of darkness and light.


Timothy O'Neill prattled on ineffectively before his class on self-esteem, one Daria Morgendorffer among the students rendered nearly catatonic by his mere presence, before he regained their attention (in part) by playing a video for them.

As Timothy stood to the back of the class and the motivational tape went on, a soft, flowing presence touched his mind at the very edge of consciousness. "Even in the most pedestrian of lives, there may be moments of greatness, when Destiny brushes past, like a snowflake falling from a great height for another purpose – and in that passing, the future may be either changed... or preserved."

A single tear fell from the teacher's right eye as the voice touched his consciousness one last time. "For your service today, you and yours will be allowed to see what is to come," the voice spoke. "For what you have preserved today in allowing us this momentary vessel, we are in your debt. For allowing us to act to preserve the future, your progeny will be there to see that future. They will be there in the beginning, and shall bear witness to the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind..."

Mid-April, 2256

Epsilon Eridani system, Grid Epsilon, Euphrates Sector

Clearing the jumpgate, the Omega-class destroyer EAS Decelaraptor fired maneuvering thrusters as she began final approach towards the massive space station, off in the distance.

On the Decelaraptor's Bridge, Captain Stephanie Puckett turned to the handsome young man who stood off to one side, a winning smile on her face. "There you go, David," she said, the mischievous laughter in her voice familiar to both the young man, and the members of her crew. "Now, you be sure to tell your mother that I dropped you off for your first day at school, all right?"

The Executive Officer of the Decelaraptor, who had been with Puckett for the past ten years, stood off to one side, and smiled as he saw the way the young officer flushed red.

"Captain...!" the young man said, his face going a even brighter shade of scarlet as he saw a pair of female communications techs barely suppressing the urge to giggle as they watched him.

"Oh, don't be ashamed if you need to borrow lunch money," Captain Puckett said, the smile reaching her eyes as she brushed a wayward lock of dirty-blonde hair from her eyes. "Oh, lighten up, David! You'll need that if you're going to be working under Ivanova – she's got a rep as a hard-ass. Oh, you're going to learn a lot – but, still..."

Lieutenant Junior Grade David Corwin turned to the main view screen, and watched as the image of the Earth Alliance station Babylon 5 came into sharp focus. "You know, you could have signed on with me," the forty-something Captain continued, sitting up in her command chair. "That way, I could make certain that you stayed out of trouble."

"Mom pointed that out – right after I said that I didn't want to stay in Boston, serve in the EarthForce Reserve and become a teacher," David replied. "Like her, and her dad, and the seven generations of our family before that."

The young officer turned to look at his mother's best friend. "I wanted to do something more, you know? I wanted to just... I wanted to see more."

Stephanie smiled as she recalled being a young, freshly-minted Lieutenant Commander, on leave from her posting aboard EAS Gregory, when she first met a young, wide-eyed David Corwin, all of six years old and with his gaze already turned outward, towards the stars and the myriad worlds out among them... "You always did," she said, nodding, "and here – well, there's no place in the universe better to see everything."

The Captain of the Decelaraptor turned to look at the view screen. "Being aboard Babylon 5 means that you'll get to see everything," she continued. "You're going to see things that no human has ever seen before. Don't waste it, David. Don't waste a moment of this opportunity."

"I won't, Aunt Steffie," David said, before pulling himself into a parade-perfect pose as he came to attention and saluted her. "Captain Puckett – request permission to disembark!"

Stephanie rose from her seat and returned the salute. "Permission granted, Lieutenant. Happy trails."