Transformation

I have always been here, said Kosh.

When Jeffery Sinclair entered the chrysalis, it was Sunday, the first day of creation, the day of the ressurection of Our Lord. The fibers wrapped around his human body, and tendrils entered his mortal mind. Encased, he could not move, and white covered his eyes. It was Sunday, the fourteenth of the month, in spring, in the year 2260.

In Minbari teaching, before birth every Minbari child before birth sees every past life that his or her soul has experienced. Sinclair meditated, as he had been taught. This was his time before birth. Was there something he would see?

Days passed, or so Sinclair imagined with no way to measure time. He knew it had taken Delenn a number of weeks for her transformation to be complete. Delenn had a companion, he could not help thinking. He envied her the sound of Lennier's prayers, a voice and a presence to break the endless white silence.

Sof. Tho. Til. Hawa. Acha. Tov. Words in Minbari that Sinclair could not understand, although he had learned every spoken dialect of Minbar. He imagied that he could hear them now, filtering through the whiteness, praying for his mortal and unremembering soul.

Perhaps he slept, and dreamed, or his soul was taken away, but he found himself in a dark place. I will be with you always, said a voice, and it sounded like a Vorlon. In the dark, there were fragments of stone, and a bright star in the distance.

He picked up a stone, and read the words. Ad majorem dei gloriam. To the great glory of God. The motto of his Jesuit school. What is this? he thought aloud, in what must be a dream.

It all depends on what you want, said Morden. He smiled in his open, friendly way, and pulled up an invisible chair. Let me show you.

It was the last night of the Earth/Minbari war, and they sky was full of stars, and each star was a human death. "Hold the line!" Sinclair shouted. Another Starfury exploded, spilling the fragments of its human cargo into space. "Hold the line" he shouted, as if anyone would hear, as if there was any hope at all in the face of the Minbari onslaught.

You could make them all go away. You could make them not be there. Then Earth would not be destroyed. All you have to do is leave the chrysalis.

The Minbari could not have destroyed us, Sinclair answered himself. They did not. They saw that we are one. Minbari do not kill Minbari.

Watch. A final push, and the Minbari warships were through the destroyed line. Instead of stopping to take captives, they continued straight on to the planet. One bomb was all it took, perfectly designed to destroy the world into uncountable fragments. One fell into Sinclair's hand. Ad majorem dei gloriam.

Uf. Rosh. Tith. Sir. More incomprehensible Minbari words. Sinclair held onto them like a rope that would save him from drowning.

The thing is, Morden said, you don't understand that you have a choice. But you do. You always did. You used to know it, too.

Unwilling, Sinclair found himself remembering the first time he and Catherine had made love, in a grassy spot behind bushes secluded from the eves of supervising nuns at the college. She was older than he was, a worldly sophomore, and it was not until she had raised herself over him, and then pulled down to bring him inside her, that he had realized that she was also a virgin. Afterwards he was close to tears, feeling like he had doomed himself to eternal wrongdoing. "I had wanted to be a priest," he whispered. She had tried to understand, but could not, and they had separated soon after. For a few miserable weeks, until he returned to her, apologizing, saying that she was worth more to him than his holiness.

This was your last life, Delenn explained. Now you move into the next. Her grey hood covered her face, draped over her headbone. "Delenn!" Sinclair shouted, hoping that she would move from her place in the circle of the Nine to remain with him for at least one more moment, but she was gone.

You take so long to understand, Morden sighed. Why do you trust her?

Minbari do not lie. Minbari do not kill Minbari. Sinclair groaned, and the mark of Minbari torture was on his forehead.

You could stop it, Morden said. Save all the Humans killed in the genocidal war of the Minbari. Save the soldiers under your command. Save Mitchell.

And fall to the Shadows instead? No thanks.

It is only desire. The only question is: what do you want?

It was simple, as always, very simple. If Valen did not return to save Minbar from the Shadows, then Minbar would fall, and could not have attacked Earth.

Or are you so Minbari that Minbar is more to you than Earth? Morden asked. Would you choose another world over your own?

There was an equally simple answer, of course: if Minbar fell, there would be no allies for the Humans against the Shadows.

Because, of course, Morden said, a race you don't understand is more frightening than one who set out to destroy your world, and ravaged your people. Earth was almost a wasteland.

Almost, Sinclair said. Was not. It was as if there was a fist in his head, twisting his mind. It was hard to think, and harder to speak in these mind-words.

Thoth. Sho. Mil.. Tov. For the first time Sinclair began to understand the words, or to believe or imagine he could. What will be, has been. What is, will be. What has been, shall be.

I will always be here, said Kosh.

Now you begin to understand, said Delenn.

It was then, finally, that Sinclair realized what he would have to give up to become a Minbari: the hope that the past or even the future could be changed. The belief that, with choices made differently, Earth could be saved from the war that nearly destroyed it.

And the belief that you can be a hero, Garibaldi said. And then Sinclair knew truly why he had been afraid to tell his old friend goodbye.

What will be, has been. What is, will be. What has been, shall be. Sinclair repeated the words. I will be the One, and the One will be. And death and destruction will happen, and the universe will slowly begin to understand itself.

Valen emerged from the chrysalis on Elevensday, the last day of the week, the day of the coming of Valeria. The tendrils removed from his mind, and the white cocoon unwrapped from his headbone. Vorlons were with him, to guide him in accomplishing what must be. It was Elevensday, the day of the Starfire, in the first year of the new age.