25. Human Clan Names
Chapter Twenty-Five: Human Clan Names
Following Callie into the underground training center, Faith looked around at the geometric patterns decorating the sloping corridor. As they progressed, the designs became more... angular and upsetting. It was as if the whole place had been built to put people on edge.
Or maybe she'd just gone native, and was picking up on something designed more for Minbari sensibilities. The familiar swishing of her robe around her legs and the weight of the isil'zha against her chest brought her back to more grounded thoughts, and she turned to Callie.
"This... the Ena'Fi Linn Rath? I looked it up in the archives, it's not a traditional part of the Anla'Shoq training." Of course, Faith had forgotten that Anla'Shoq Na Lennon had directly told her it was new.
"It's new." Callie nodded. "It's a space combat simulation. I know your Minbari is not yet fluent, but... I apologize."
"Never apologize. It's a sign of weakness." Faith grinned, remembering an old television show she used to watch.
Callie squinted. "Where'd you pick that up? The Warrior Caste?"
"NCIS." At Callie's puzzled look, she elaborated, "It's an old video entertainment series I used to watch. But go on."
"Well, it means 'White Star Combat Confidence'. I'm not sure how the 'White' part comes into it, unless they mean it as a metaphor for the opposite of the Shadows, which I guess is what we are."
"Not their opposite." Faith corrected. "The Shadows are far greater than what we are. Far more powerful, I mean. We are but the tip of the spear, the min... sentries, the leaders of those who will oppose them. The Anla'Shoq are not the Army of Light, only its... well, Valen's example in the Letter was the Baron von Steuben."
Callie stared, wide-eyed. "You'll have to tell me about that one later." Bringing herself back to the situation at hand, as they came to a pair of large crystalline doors she told Faith, "Watch your English. 'Aw, hell' means 'fire all weapons' in Minbari. And it's not always the best response to a challenge."
The doors opened, and a Religious Caste Minbari that Faith had not met stood just inside. Bowing and making the sign of a triangle with both hands, he greeted them in his own language. "Welcome, Anla'Shoq Callie. And to your companion, whom I cannot yet address by name." Faith opened her mouth to answer, then stopped, remembering it was considered impolite to respond when the question was directed to another. And judging by the informal way he addressed Callie, the two of them were quite familiar.
Callie gestured toward her with a flat, open hand. "This is Anla'Shoq Faith of the family Lehane, ra Kas Ard'ka. She is the Chosen of the City of Leaf-Throwers. Anla'Shoq Na Lennon has asked that she join in this ritual." Had the Religious had eyebrows, Faith thought, they would have been raised at least twice during that introduction. She did at one point herself; she'd heard some of the human Anla'Shoq introduced in that style with Minbari-like 'clan names' before, but had no idea how they were given. Apparently, Callie did. She'd have to ask what Callie's and Jeff's were...
The Religious bowed, and introduced himself. "I am Sech Firell, of the Second Fane of Tha'Domo. Welcome to the ritual of Ena'Fi Linn Rath." Gesturing to the chamber beyond, Faith blinked. From the term 'ritual' she'd expected a temple-like space, but the closest parallel to this room was the command center she'd toured when visiting an aircraft carrier museum in San Diego, years before she'd ever met Lorien.
"Tha'Domo?" Faith whispered to Callie as she entered the room, to allow a mixed group of Anla'Shoq and additional Religious to enter.
"The Order of the Fighting Monks. They're the closest thing the Religious have to a military force. A lot of the Minbari Anla'Shoq come from Tha'Domo parents." Callie explained. "Each Fane lives by a slightly different code of morals and rituals. But they work fairly well together, and with us."
"About your introduction... I've heard a few of us humans with the clan names, but... Kas Ard'Ka?"
"Since we don't actually have clans in the Minbari sense, but we do need clan names for formal introductions and such, the human Anla'Shoq started creating new clan names. Since most of us think in terms of geography, being American or German or whichever, they're usually in those terms. Since Valen referred to you that way, and it is a pretty good reference to Massachusetts..." Callie shrugged. "You didn't seem to have taken one yet."
"Didn't know I was supposed to." Faith grinned. Two Lanterns. Well, it fit... "Kas Ard'Ka. I guess that fits as well as anything else would."
During their conversation, everyone else had taken up specific positions, and the chamber's doors had sealed behind them, before Callie pointed Faith to a seat near the center of the room. She then took the larger seat next to Faith, as the Religious took a moment of quiet meditation. Finally, after everyone had looked up, Callie said, "I am Anla'Shoq. I live for the One, I die for the One."
Faith was startled when an overhead computer voice responded, "Voiceprint confirmed, Anla'Shoq Rebecca of the family Pearce, ra Wa'Iri. Simulation begins."
As the room darkened, Faith whispered, "Wa'Iri?"
"Translates as 'Peace Sea'. It was close enough." Callie shrugged, as a flotilla of mottled lavender-and-silver ships appeared on the screen, in an unfamiliar but vaguely Minbari design. Faith thought it was telling that the more pointed end of each ship was facing away from them. Callie waved at the screen. "Welcome to the Anla'Shoq war fleet."
After a rather exhausting training 'ritual' - Faith hadn't been completely unfamiliar with the concept, but was mildly surprised when the entire room started moving - Callie led her out and back to the dining hall, where Jeff Sinclair was sitting alone at their usual table. Faith scooped up some food quickly and made her way over there, while Callie had gotten sidetracked talking some of the other humans who sat closer to the food counters.
Glancing around as she set her tray down, Faith started the conversation in a whisper, trying not to startle. "Hiyas, Jeff."
Sinclair looked up, setting aside his reader device. "Evening, Faith."
"Found out about the clan names thing today. What's yours?" She paused. "If that's not to personal."
"Not at all. It's ra Sular'Na." At Faith's blank look, he translated, "Flyer Commander."
"I would have expected something more... British." Faith prodded.
"A lot of them are territorial, but I decided to go with the old Earth custom of profession based names. A lot of Minbari names have translations that come out that way as well, so it sounds a little less foreign to them than some abstract geographical or historical reference." Grinning, he added, "Not that it doesn't suit, Faith of the family Lehane, ra Kas Ard'Ka."
Faith narrowed her eyes. "You come up with that one by yourself, or did Callie..."
"We discussed it. But it's from Valen's prophecies, so I don't think either of us can take credit."
Faith almost responded to that, but decided tonight was not yet the time to let that particular cat out of that particular bag. She comforted herself with the thought, "The truth points to itself." Jeff raised an eyebrow. Damn, had she said that out loud?
In any case, the conversation was interuppted by Callie and Torenn slipping into their usual seats. Torenn opened with, "How was your day, Faith? Callie tells me you were invited to the ritual of Ena'Fi Linn Rath."
Faith chuckled. Some ritual. "Yeah, I was. Callie, you could have told me it was going to be like a ride on Star Tours."
"Star Tours?" Torenn questioned.
"It's an amusement park ride, back home." Jeff interjected. "A fictional experience which humans take part in as a form of entertainment. There are businesses which construct compounds, called amusement parks, filled with a selection of such experiences, and charge visitors to encounter them."
Faith grinned. "In this case, a simulation of riding on a passenger shuttle through a war zone. It's actually based on an old entertainment video from the beginning of our space age." And now that she thought about it, the parallels were a little bit disconcerting. The Anla'Shoq were not that much different - at least in intent and philosophy - from the Jedi.
"I do not see how that could be seen as entertainment, but I will admit I am unfamiliar with many human customs." Toreen conceded.
"It's the adrenalin." Faith pointed out, and when Torenn focused on her, she continued, "Amusement parks are all about movement, surprises, sometimes loud music... it induces a physical, chemical response. Just like being in a battle or a hand-to-hand fight, but the danger is only an illusion."
Jeff nodded. "Faith would know. She used to be employed at one of the amusement parks. One of the oldest and the best."
Faith waved it off. "I was a security officer." At Torenn's confused look, she elaborated, "The park also had several shops and restaurants in it, so they had private security officers in order to prevent crime."
"I can see we still have much to learn about your people." Torenn paused. "My only hope is that the Shadows permit us enough time to do so."