Disclaimer/Authors note:

I wonder sometimes if I really need to do this but for the record just so you know I did not invent any of these characters or Babylon 5 itself. This is the stuff of geniuses and I, regretably am not one of them. However the creation and universe of Babylon 5 belongs to Mr. Straczynski and all the credit goes to him. I only am borrowing it for a time to etch out possible view points and what if's. Many thanks to Hobsonphile for being gracious enough to Beta my work once more.

This current vignette is taken from the third season episode titled "Messages from Earth". For those who have seen this episode you will reconize this scene to be from the perspective of the Shadow vessel and its telepathic rider. This tale is takes place when the Psi core and the Earth government attempt to meld a telepath to a shadow vessel on Ganymede. Of course it loses control because they are both unprepared for the bond.

When I saw this scene I couldn't help but notice how vulnerable this moment must have been for both parties involved. Not to say that they were innocent or good but its not often you can witness the villian in such a position. Hence my tale...

"The Headless Horseman"

"...Subject is approaching target. I repeat: Subject is approaching target."

The calm voice echoes into the communications link as a young man before them nears the bridge leading to the giant, spider-like ship.

"He's coming onto the bridge... He's dissipeared inside the ship... Some... Someth... Something's happening... We've lost bioscans. Something's... Oh my God! It's moving! It's moving!"

He is nervous, more nervous than he has ever been in all of his life; even more than the day his skills awoke. Taking a deep breath, he nears the machine. He can sense the darkness of the ship; how it calls to him, yet pushes him away as though in warning. Pausing, he looks at the eerie form before him, a strange sense of peace crossing his mind. For the first time, he will serve a purpose greater than himself. Even if he should die, perhaps something can be gained from this. He only hopes he lives long enough to learn what it is.

Closing his eyes, he slowly reaches out his slender fingers to the black, sparkling form and is instantly consumed by the cold, inky blackness. His mind opens up as the "fingers" of the shadow's ship reach into his thoughts, trapping him, melding his form with its own. It is a strange, parasitic, almost symbiotic union. His screams echo through all telepathic minds nearby as pain rips through his unprepared body. He shudders to the coldness as it creeps through his skin, chilling him to his very bones. Then slowly, very slowly, he begins to tap into the thoughts of the form that he has now inhabited. Or rather, it permits him to enter.

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From its slumber, the beast's senses awaken to the sound of movement all around it. Its thoughts erratic and confused as the creature struggles to locate itself.

~Where? Creators? Alone?~

It is then that it senses another nearing it. The sound of voices echoes in its thoughts. It is a strange, gutteral language, nothing like the smooth, high-pitched resonations of its creators. Yet it is comforting. It is as in days of old, when riders who spoke in simular dialects rode the vessels. Perhaps this approaching other is its new rider preparing to awaken the beast from its hibernation. Gently, it stretches its thoughts to the being who nears it. While not sentient by most alien standards, the beast knows enough to realize that this one is not trained, not prepared. The thought causes the beast to be confused and it reflects in its thoughts. But it does little stop the strange being that nears it. Once the rider gains control over the ship, there is nothing short of death that will seperate them.

The ship feels the slender fingers of the strange being's hand touching its outer shoulders. There is no time now to think, to question or second guess. Within seconds, the ship's mind senses the being taking his "seat" as the ship uses its inner tendrils to ensure he is secure. Sensing its riders mind panic, the ship becomes frightened and struggles to complete the merge. The telepath's mind screams out in pain, causing the vessel to jerk to life. The two alien minds meld and become as one while their blind fear and instinct heightens.

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His mind merges with the ship and he becomes aware of the fact that this is nothing like he's ever known. Growing up, he had always wanted to become a combat pilot and for a time, it looked as though he would achieve his dream. But it was all shattered when his skills as a telepath came to light and he was rushed off to Psi-Corps. So when this oppertunity arose, he jumped at the chance. Not only would he be able to fly a ship of his own, he would be manning a ship that was far more advanced than anything Earth had ever encountered.

Still, it is nothing like he had expected. This was a living organism; capable of thought, albeit primal, it could almost be considered sentient.

Pouring his thoughts into the vessel, he struggles to gain control of it. The ship's thoughts echo his fear as it desperatly awaits his commands. The rush of cold seems to suck the life out of him while the primal thoughts break through his mental barrier as though he were a mundane. Responding the only way he knows how, he screams for dear life, begging whatever god he believes in to kill him, free him, anything to take him away from this nightmare. Finally, a deafening silence fills both minds as the overwhelming darkness and chaos shatters the telepath's mind. Only thoughts of escape and destruction remain.

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Like a spooked horse, the Shadow vessel screeches out loudly in response. Blindly, it bursts through the dome, resembling a wild animal escaping from a cage that is far too small for it. Firing heavy lasers, it blindly struggles to gain some semblence of direction or task from its rider, but only silence is given in response. Finally, a single thought rings through its mind and it responds quickly, hoping it will appease the one who controls it.

~Destroy all.~

Leaving the moons atmosphere, it destroys the dome with ease. Flames erupt all around as the smaller shadow vessel attempts to locate others of its kind. After all, the creators were always there in the past when a rider and the vessel merged for the first time. So where are they now? Confusion sets in further and is only worsened by the disorientation it feels from the lack of response given by its rider.

The vessel cries out as a sharp pain pierces its tendril, causing its attention to suddenly snap to focus. It is being attacked by nothing it had ever seen before. Turning its attentions to the strange ship, it powers up its lasers as its rider's mind finally begins to respond.

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The pain of the attack reaches the telepath as his thoughts and the vessel's become one. His eyes see the ship before him in a way that can't be put to words. It is as though the Shadow vessel's eyes are now his own. He does not recognize this ship and is unsure to whom it belongs to. Not that it matters now. It is trying to destroy him, which means only one thing: it must be destroyed. Just as soon as this thought echoes in his mind, the ship powers up the lasers and begins to fire upon the enemy. It is a strange sensation as he feels the power leave the vessel's body as well as his own.

~Like firing a PPG, only the energy is taken from my body. A weapon made out of my flesh. I will crush them with ease and then I will leave this nightmare!~

An insane grin plays on his features as he commands the vessel to begin its persuit of the enemy. The vessel responds eagerly to the rider's control as its movements become more guided and focused. More shots are fired at them, but the telepath is ready and now aware of the ship's capabilities. With a single thought, he causes the ship's defenses to activate. The vessel responds without question. It was bred for this moment and needs little encouragement to do what it does best.

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The vessel's thoughts become clear as the rider takes charge of it. Powering up its defenses, it rushes at the enemy eagerly. It has been so long since its hibernation and now it has been awakened to the taste of battle. Nearing the enemy, it senses its power level increasing in a focused pattern. It knows it should fall back, but in the heat of the moment, the rider refuses. A shot is fired off by the enemy, causing the Shadow vessel to screech loudly as its third left tendril is neatly seperated from its form.

The effect is minimial and the vessel knows that once it is given the oppertunity, it will regenerate. But the mere arrogance that is displayed by this new threat causes it to grow furious. The rider feeds on this as the two alien thoughts coincide. A battle cry escapes from the creature as it follows the ship into the atmosphere of Jupiter, blindly unaware of the trap that it is entering. The hunt has begun and nothing short of its prey's destruction will stop it.

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The fact that this might be a trap vaguely enters the telepath's mind. He knows the strange ship will never stand a chance against the vessel he now commands. But even this seems too simple, too easy. Had the merging not shattered his mind, he would have not taken this bait. But in his fury and desperation to escape, he pays little heed to the meaning behind this "mocking" behavior. Instead, he pursues of his prey as his thoughts melt, become more and instinctive.

Firing off another heavy shot, he marvels at the incredible power of this ship, enjoying the damage suffered by the prey before them. In the back of his thoughts, he senses a strange tug, but ignores it. After all, he has a battle to win and a ship to destroy. Still, the tugging grows worse and some part of his mind begins to comprehend that they may not escape Jupitor's atmosphere.

The strange orange mist of Hydrogen clouds, which spark to life with the energy emitted from the vessel, surrounds him. The tugging grows worse, but in his arrogance, the rider pays no heed. After all, such a magnificant vessel is only too capable of leaving and entering a variety of atmospheres with ease. If only he knew that it is through the skill and training of its rider that the Shadow vessel is able to accomplish such feats.

The pressure and heat begins to take effect as the telepath struggles to maintain control over the vessel. Pain rips through his body as he too feels the creature's own pain. The ship fold upon itself, leaving it vulnerable to the explosive atmosphere and intence gravity. The searing heat burns the layers of skin that encompass the beast's form. It screeches loudly in pain and the telepath watches in horror as their prey escapes.

~TURN BACK! TURN BACK NOW! ~

The ship struggles to slow its descent, but to no avail. At top speed, it is helpless to resist. The end had come and neither rider, nor beast are able to prevent the inevitable.

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Following the enemy at top speed, the vessel pays little heed to the explosive clouds around it. Firing off a round, it watches as the Hydrogen clouds erupt and crackle, exploding all around the strange alien ship. It can hear the rider's cheer echo through his thoughts and it too rides on the joys of the hunt. As they continue further, the beast begins to become unsettled. Its prey is increasing speed and its intence "eyes" can see its hull buckling. Soon it will be over and it will be victorious. Even the pain will subside with proper time and the twisting of his sharp tendrils will be repaired.

As it rushes forward, the heat worsens, causing its black skin to peel and crackle under the gravity's pressure. It screams desperatly as pain fills its mind. Its thoughts go wild as it begs the rider to turn back. Lost in the madness, the telepath ignores its pleas and continues its flight, descending into the bowels of hell. The enemy suddenly turns around before the vessel's view and rushes past. In fury, it struggles to turn around, but it is not strong enough to resist the pull as it continues to descend out of control.

~TURN BACK TURN BACK NOW!! ~

~TOO STRONG! BURNING!~

In horror, the Shadow vessel watches as the ship escapes to safety while it still descends further. Swiftly, its "arms" begin to distort and melt. It tries to cry out, but its screams are choked as the heat burns away its vocal passages. The rider screams soon die away, his mental connection severed, leaving a void in the beast's mind marking the telepathes painful death.

Alone it frantically struggles to get away the fluids of its insides litterly boil. Fear fills its thoughts once more as it tries to contact its creators in a blind panic. But to its despair, it recieves no response, for even the heavens have turned its ear away from the beast, a small revenge for the pain that its kind have caused over billions of years.

As its life embers slip away to its final dark resting place, only a single thought fills its mind.

~Alone.~