an annoying persistence. 'Play message,' ordered Vance, already knowing whose face would appear on the screen.
Sure enough, the pinched cheeks and high forehead of his father stared at him severely from the screen. There was a pause, as though the Colonel waited for someone to tell him to begin. Then he spoke. 'Jimmy, it's your father.'
I know that, thought Vance. I can see you on screen.
'I'd like to thank you for coming at such short notice.' Like he had a choice. 'We'll meet later to talk. I've booked us for dinner at the Fresh Air Restaurant in the hydroponics area of Green Sector. Be there at 1900. In the meantime, I have some business to attend, but I'm sure you can busy yourself productively. Colonel Vance out.'
The Colonel's face disappeared, replaced by the Babylon 5 insignia. Vance's ears rang from his father's grating tone, a voice that had commanded hundreds, maybe thousands, of men in its time. Now it commanded him. Again. Vance wasn't averse to taking orders, but he spent years trying to disassociate himself from the Colonel.
Unfortunately, just like his journey here, he had no control over this. The Colonel piloted the ship this time.
His unpacking took very little time, as he'd only brought one change of clothes: casual civilian trousers and a shirt. Vance hoped the Fresh Air Restaurant wasn't a jacket and tie affair or he would be turned away at the door. He could imagine the look on his father's face if that happened.
It was only 1630, plenty of time to look around and take in the station. He had heard a lot about it: the cautionary tales about it being a den of iniquity, the superstitious stories of the jinx hanging over it, the undeniable fact that its four predecessors had all come to untimely ends. Despite all this, Vance was never