the pearl


"Hey David, guess what?"

David Sheridan turned towards his best friend. "What now, Sunita?"

Sunita Franklin threw her long black braid of hair behind her and grinned. "Well, remember how Dad is always telling me that he found me in Down Below?"

David nodded, his eyes curious but wary. "Yeah...just after I was"

"So...Last night I asked him about it again. And he told me exactly where he found me. Isn't that great?"

David frowned slightly, his nine-year-old forehead wrinkling. "And...?" he asked, waiting for the inevitable.

"And I thought that we could go find it. C'mon! It'll be fun..."

David frowned even deeper. "I don't know, Sunita. We could get in trouble..."

She stared at him for a second, her mouth open. "'Trouble'? We'd only get in trouble if anyone else knew about it!" Her liquid black eyes grew pleading. "C'mon, David...Don't you remember how much fun we had sneaking into the Zen Garden?"

"Then we got in trouble for making sand castles! I don't know about this..."

"Come on, David! It'll be fun! And no one's gonna know about it!" She paused for a second, a mischevious look creeping over her face. "Unless, of course, you're chicken..."

David stood up beligerently. "I'm not chicken!" he said sharply. He brushed a lock of sandy brown hair away from his eyes and tucked it under his small bony crest. "I just think we're going to get caught. People know what we look like, Sunita. How are you gonna explain this?" He pointed at his crest, thinner than his mother's, but still noticable.

Sunita grinned again. "Here," she said, pulling a baseball cap from her backpack. "Now you'll be just another kid."

David put the cap on, but still looked concerned. "I still don't know, Sunita. How are we going to sneak out of school?"

Sunita frowned for a second, then brightened. "Hey, Sofie!" she said to a small child nearby. "Come here!"

Sofie Cole shuffled over, her pudgy five-year-old face curious, but wary, which seemed to be a common expression around Sunita. "What?" she asked, in a near mumble.

Sunita pulled Sofie towards her. "I want you," she said in a near whisper, "To turn on that console over there." She pointed to a basic education module, one that all the students knew was broken.

Sofie stepped away from Sunita. "Why?" she asked, her voice filled with distrust.

Sunita began to look menacing. "Because I say so, Sofie. So do it."

Sofie stood there stubbornly, her blue eyes flashing. "No."

David looked at Sunita worriedly. "Come on, Sunita..." he said, his voice coaxing. "We don't really have to go to Down Be-"

Sunita cut him off. "David!" she said sharply. She turned back to Sofie and grabbed her shirt. "Look, either you do this or I tell Aunt Susan who really took all the cookies!"

Sofie stepped away, an even more stubborn expression on her face. "No!" she said again, this time a bit louder.

Sunita sighed. "Fine!" She ran over to the console, flipped the switch, then ran back. She counted to five, then smiled when sparks began to fly and fire alarms began to blare.

The teachers jumped into battle-readiness. "Okay, children. Let's exit in an orderly line. No pushing." They began filing the children out of the room. Sunita and David exited with the rest of the children, waited until they were counted, then snuck off into a lift. Sofie saw them leave, and smiled.


The two children wound their way deeper and deeper into the darkest parts of the station. Adults noticed them from time to time, but let them pass. There were always children running around in Down Below. Two more weren't noticable.

Sunita's eyes were wide with wonder. Everything about this place was so cool! She stopped at a vendor's stall. barely managing to grab onto David to get him to stop too.

"Sunita...I'm not sure about this...let's go back."

She looked at him in shock. "What are you talking about? This place is great! And we haven't even gotten to where I was found yet!" She left the vendor's stall and took off. She had gotten several feet before she realized that David was still back at the stall, distracted by a piece of jewelry. She ran back and grabbed him. "Come on, David," she said, pulling his arm.

David let himself be pulled away, his eyes still on the jewelry. "That would be so nice for Mom..." he said, his voice longing.

Sunita heard the tone of his voice and slowed down. "She still on Minbar?" she asked, already knowing the answer.

David nodded. "Yeah...There's a lot to do." He fell silent for a second. "She calls every once in awhile, but with Dad always being called away on something..."

Sunita nodded. "Dad's never at home either. If it isn't Medlab, it's down here at the clinic..." Sunita looked up from the ground and tried to get her bearings. "He said it was one level from..." She gasped. "David," she said, her voice barely a whisper. "I think this is the place..."

David looked around, noticing the trash strewn around and the faint sounds of movement in the background. "You were found here, Sunita?"

She nodded, and sat on the ground. "It was the day after you were born. Dad was heading down to his clinic when he heard me crying. He found me sitting on a pile of rags, a sick and hungry six month old. He was going to just leave me in the War Babies Orphanage, but, after delivering you, he felt like he needed someone else in his life. So he kept me." She looked around, then looked at David. "I was born here, David. I would have died here."

David was going to say something when he heard a strange sound behind him. Before he could turn around, he felt himself being lifted up and heard Sunita scream. He closed his eyes tightly, trying to wish it away.


Sheridan made his way through the crowds of worried parents and scared children. He caught sight of the main teacher, and worked his way there. "What happened here?" he asked.

The main teacher straightened up and turned towards Sheridan. "Oh, sir, it was really nothing. One of the children turned on a broken console that caught fire. The alarms went off and we got everyone out safely. We're dismissing the children from school today while the room is repaired."

Sheridan looked around for his son. "And all the children are accounted for?" At the teacher's nod, he frowned. "Then where is my son?"

The teacher looked around in shock. "He was right here...I saw him myself..."

Dr. Franklin made his way into the conversation. "Sunita isn't here either."

Sheridan swore under his breath. "They're probably together. Where do you think they went?"

The Coles walked over, Marcus holding Sofie's hand. "What's wrong?" Susan asked.

Franklin sighed. "Sunita and David took off again. Any idea where they could be?"

Sofie tugged her father's sleeve. "Papa...Sunita turned on the 'puter..."

Marcus looked down at his daughter. "Really?" he asked. "Why?"

Sofie held herself up haughtily. "They were going to go somewhere. They wanted me to turn it on, but I said no." She looked at her mother. "Mama, can I go home and have a cookie?"

Susan held up her hand. "In a minute, Sofie. Where did they say they were going?"

Sofie scrunched up her face. "They went to Down somewhere. Mama...I want a cookie!"

Franklin and Sheridan looked at each other, then ran off to the nearest lift.

Once there, they waited. And waited. Finally, Sheridan turned to Franklin. "You know," he said. "It seems like your daughter is always the one who starts these things."

Franklin looked at Sheridan in mock surprise. "It's not my fault she's a little..." he paused for a second. "Uncontrollable. Anyways, she wouldn't be like this if she didn't have an audience..."

Sheridan was about to give a comeback when the lift opened. The two fathers entered, and were quiet the entire trip.


David opened his eyes to see the walls of Down Below moving past him. He moved his head a little and saw a large arm holding him. Who was carrying him? he wondered.

"Let me go!" he heard Sunita yell. "Ambassador! Put me down!"

David felt his captor's chest rumble with laughter. "I was walking in Down Below, and I saw two children there. 'Whatever could they be doing down here?' I wondered to myself." The man laughed again. "Your fathers are not going to be pleased."

Sunita yelled again. "Ambassador G'Kar! Let me go!"

He laughed again. "Oh Sunita," he said, his voice low. "You should be glad I found you. Down Below is no place for children, especially you two."

David gulped. "Where are you taking us?" he asked, his voice trembling.

G'Kar chuckled. "Nowhere dangerous, I can assure you. I am simply returning you to your fathers."

With those words, Sunita resumed struggling. "No! G'Kar! You can say you never saw us! Put me down! Ambassador!"

G'Kar laughed. "Consider this payback, my dear Sunita. Payback for the time you took my eye from my quarters and hid it among the other artificial eyes in Medlab."

Sunita groaned. "I didn't do that! G'Kar!"

David sighed. It was going to be a long trip.


The lift door opened, revealing a sight that Franklin hoped he would never see again.

Standing in front of them, grinning broadly, was G'Kar, with a child under each arm. "Ah, Captain Sheridan and Doctor Franklin! I was just going to start looking for you!" He looked down at the two children and set them on the ground gently. "I believe these are yours."

Sheridan looked down at his son, none the worse for wear. "Your mother is not going to like this," he finally said. "Come on."

David followed his father into the lift, with Franklin and Sunita following.


Sheridan led the children to his quarters. "Both of you have some serious explaining to do."

David looked down at his feet. "I'm sorry, Da-"

Sunita interrupted him again. "We didn't do anything wrong! We just wanted to see where Dad found me!"

Sheridan looked at her sternly. "So you took David to the most dangerous part of the station?"

Franklin interrupted. "Sunita, what were you thinking? I thought you were smarter than this!"

Sunita sat there sullenly for a second, then started. "You never let us go anywhere! It's always 'Stay here, Sunita.' 'Don't wander off, Sunita.' 'It's for your own good, Sunita.' I want to see what's out there!"

Franklin looked at his daughter in shock. "Sunita!" he said sharply.

David turned towards his father. "I'm sorry, Dad. I wasn't thinking."

Sheridan looked at his son. "Obviously. I hope the next time Sunita decides to explore the other side of the station, you remember what I told you. Down Below is no place for you two! My God, if someone were to recognize you!" Sheridan paused for a moment. "We're just lucky Sofie told us where you were and that Ambassador G'Kar found you." He sighed. "Go into David's room while we decide your punishment."

David went quietly into his room while Sunita stomped. Once the door was shut, Sunita started. "Sofie told! I'm gonna get that little tattle-tale-ing brat!"

David looked at his friend resignedly. "Sunita...we knew it was dangerous. We shouldn't have gone."

Sunita looked at David with anger. "You always say that! You just don't want to go against Daddy!"

David looked at her angrily. "No! Sunita! You're always doing something stupid!"

"I'm stupid! You're the stupid here!" She shoved him.

David moved away from her. "Sunita, stop it, okay? Do you want to get into more trouble?"

Sunita looked at him. "I just wanted to go exploring! Why do we always have to stay here?"

David shrugged. "I don't know." He sighed. "I wish Mom was here. She always let us go out exploring."

Sunita smiled. "Yeah. Remember the time we snuck into the Council Chambers and she let us hide behind the desk?"

David nodded. "Or the time she took us out in the White Star?" He looked down at the ground. "I miss her, Sunita."

Sunita came over and put her arm around him. "I miss her too."

They heard a sound at the door. The captain stood there, with the doctor next to him. "Kids," he said. "We've decided. Since you wanted to see what Down Below was like, I'm assigning you to three weeks of volunteer work at the clinic. You will go there every day after class, and I don't want to hear any complaints. Understood?"

David meekly said, "Yes sir" almost instantly. Sunita glared at her father and at the captain for a second,then nodded sullenly..

Sheridan nodded. "Good. Now, I hope the next time you get an idea in your head to go 'exploring', that you reconsider. This station is not a safe place for you two."

Franklin nodded. "Come on, Sunita. It's time to go home."

Sunita turned to David. "See you tomorrow..." she said quietly, then followed her father home.

John Sheridan turned to his son. "I...I, uh, heard what you said about your mother," he said.

David looked at his father. "And?" he asked.

John looked at his son. He still couldn't get over how much he looked like Delenn. "And...I got a call from her today. She's coming home within the week."

David looked at his father with barely controlled delight. "Really?" he asked.

John nodded. "And she can't wait to see you."

David grinned. "Thanks, Dad," he said.

John smiled. "I know, son. I miss her too."


A few days later...

Doctor Stephen Franklin rubbed his eyes in exhaustion. It had been a long day. He was about to leave when he heard someone walk into Medlab. "Yes?" he said, turning around. Ambassador G'Kar stood there. "G'Kar," Franklin said, looking him over. "What brings you here?"

"Your daughter," G'Kar said.

Franklin sighed. "What did she do now? Hide your eye again?"

G'Kar shook his head. "No, nothing like that." He paused. "Doctor, I have noticed that your daughter is a bit...unruly."

Franklin sighed again. "Obviously," he said tiredly.

"And that you've had trouble restraining her."

Franklin frowned. "G'Kar," he said, his voice guarded. "What are you getting at?"

G'Kar smiled lightly. "Doctor, believe me, I mean you no insult. In fact, Sunita reminds me of myself when I was a pouchling. And that is why I am here."

Franklin frowned even more. "What does this have to do with my daughter?"

G'Kar smiled a fraction wider. "Education."

"She goes to school already."

G'Kar nodded. "Yes, but obviously, that is not working. She runs away, she plays tricks on people. What I am offering is a Narn education."

Franklin looked at him oddly. "What?"

"A Narn education. A study of Narn language, culture, religion, and beliefs. An education like that will do wonders for someone like her."

Franklin sighed. "G'Kar, Sunita isn't Narn. And I don't know if you can control her either."

"But I can try." G'Kar paused. "Doctor, it would be unfair to Sunita if she didn't get the opportunity to reach her potential."

Franklin thought for a second, then nodded. "All right. I'll have her come by your quarters after school tomorrow."

G'Kar nodded and smiled. "Thank you, Doctor. You will not regret it." He began to leave Medlab.

As G'Kar reached the doorway, Franklin spoke up. "G'Kar," he said, his voice low. "Take care of her, okay?"

G'Kar nodded. "Good day, Doctor."

This Babylon 5 story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at