An ATV Snippet

As you can see, I have restarted this. This is a snippet, or should I use the old phrase, a snippen (larger snippet since I didn't post snippets in the olden days. Hah!). When this chapter is completed, I will ask Bob R to check it over before it will see the light of day. But I thought you might be interested in a bit of it. Now that I have gotten over my psychological block about this story and that part of my life, I will continue this. To everyone thank you.

For WW: I have some of it written but Roads Paved in Shadow will come out first.

Merry Christmas? Nah. It's too early still.

Chapter 83

Chi Draconis Star system

USS Enterprise

"…So, you are baiting them, inviting them to attack?"

"I am giving them an opportunity," corrected Admiral Kirk. "There an old human anecdote that says" what goes around comes around." Coplann felt a chill run down his spine at the steely-eye look the human gave him. "At last count, more than twenty-eight million people died on the Regulus colony alone. Millions of Minbari and Ashen, Humans and members of the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and others have died. I intend to be the one to end this now."

"You believe that this suicidal strategy will end this?" the satai stated as it wasn't a question. "And you call us arrogant. The Ashen will cripple your fleet is weepy from the battlefield and you will have no one to blame but yourself." He glared at the human admiral. "I thought better of you."

Kirk's piercing, hazel-colored eyes snapped towards the Minbari leader. "When you boarded my ship, it was under the conditions that I would offer you the hospitality of the Federation until these negotiations were over. Those negotiations are being held in good faith both sides. That hospitality included protection while you were on board the ship. It wouldn't be…honorable for me to endanger the Minbari delegation onboard my ship, would it?"

Now it was Cadroni's turn to glare. What was in his eyes wasn't hostility, but bemusement. He and Coplann were continually underestimating this human commander, probably due to the fact that they were seeing him from their perspectives. The natural prejudice that they had against humans was continually working against them. This epiphany struck him so hard that he had to force himself from taking a step backwards in shock. This, he realized, was the weakness of the Minbari people. They were warriors, afraid of nothing, confident in their own power, strength and understanding in the ways of war. But what the Minbari people failed to realize was that there were other ways to wage war, other strategies, other points of view that were just as effective and just as different. In a thousand years, no younger race had ever successfully defeated the Minbari. In the great war, the Shadows and their minions came close. However, in individual combat, the Minbari prevailed and had always prevailed against the forces arrayed against them. They were few races that had survived that dark war a thousand years ago and none of those survivors had regained enough to fight against the forces of darkness again. It was only with the Vorlon's help that victory was achieved. It was a great achievement and it had prevented even greater chaos for the galaxy, but that victory brought about a certain arrogance and confidence in Minbari superiority that follow them for the next millennium. They reveled in their position of being the greatest of the younger races and why shouldn't they? They were Minbari.

Their superiority was a shallow arrogance, a ghost of their imagination, a weakness that gut punched every single Minbari in existence in the gut. The weakness was revealed clearly when the Minbari came up against another power equal to theirs. Despite some beliefs to the contrary, refused to believe that any young race could challenge them unless they were steeped in darkness.

Minbari power, Minbari technology, and Minbari justified rage wasn't enough to stem the tide of the inevitable defeat staring them in the face. It wasn't that they weren't strong, it was that they weren't strong enough. For all of the wisdom and understanding that the Minbari had, they had also lost something. His people had the passion and rage to win. But they had lost compassion and had lost the quality of mercy that this Federation seem to have in abundance. The Federation's General Order Twenty-Four was a brutal edict almost Minbari–like. On the surface, it was oddly different from the edict the Minbari planned for Earth Alliance. However, Cadroni saw the reason it was unlike the Minbari course, and he saw the hint of mercy behind it. To the Minbari, the edict to destroy Earth and every human was final. The Federation's General Order Twenty-Four was…flexible. It was a totally alien concept. Did it make this Federation weaker, or did it make it stronger than his own Federation?

Such an interesting enemy.

Coplann looked as if he were prepared for death to take him in the next few moments. He could not see what was happening, Cadroni mused. This human had no intentions of having his people slaughtered in a straight up fight against the Ashen. The humans had a saying, 'like lambs to the slaughter'. Kirk and his people weren't lambs–if he understood those terms correctly. They were predators. One a part of Cadroni smiled inwardly as he watched his fellow satai whither in despair. The other part was filled with embracement and disappointment couldn't see what was happening.

"Coplann," Cadroni intoned. "Be at peace." A confused Coplann looked at his companion. "These people are warriors not lambs."

Coplann was lost but for reasons that Cadroni couldn't guess at. It wasn't the incoming Ashen ships. It was everything else. The truth was, he was having an epiphany of his own. Wasn't it only a few months ago that he thought that Federation was steeped in darkness? The answer to that, he acknowledged, was yes!

The Earth Alliance humans were ignorant savages but not dark minions. But these other humans that arrived from the other side of the galaxy–and he wasn't sure if that claim was actually true or not, considering the fact that there were theories within the worker castes that the gateway they came through might be a passageway from another universe intersecting with theirs. That would explain the radical differences between them and their EA counterparts as well the explanation of the passageways themselves. There were at least two of them and the scans of the original passageway and revealed some very disturbing results. Things seen and not recorded… entire worlds being glimpsed at. Strang things. Impossible things seemingly appearing purposely appear just to confuse the observers. He had initially dismissed those reports but there were so many! Now, he believed he believed…

It was very possible that the passageways were connected to other reality and not just to the other side of the galaxy as so many people first assumed. That was the prevailing theory his fellow members of the Grey Counsel suspected. Then, there was the reaction of the Vorlons present when the reasons for the passageways were first theorized.

The Vorlons had said the word, "Preservers."

No one understand what the Vorlon meant and as usual the Vorlons didn't clarify therefore, the Grey Counsel was left in the dark to theorize on their own. Of course, without any real data, the only way to prove or disprove those theories as for a Minbari expedition fleet's to physically travel through the passage way to the location of the UFOP and see for themselves what the truth really was. Quickly, he dismissed those ideas from his mind. For now, pursuits were impossible, and it really wasn't important.

He needed to focus on the now. The fate of world of Minbar was in the balance. He was a proud servant, one of the great leaders of the warrior clans of Minbar and he would perform his duty until the end. And yes, as duty demanded. He was proud of his part in the killing of untold thousands of Earthforce humans. He never imagined that things would have turned out to be so disastrous.

The things that had occurred.

He was as shocked, frightened, afraid, and enraged as the rest of his fellow Minbari when he saw a Shadow warship boldly present itself at the star station Becerra Alpha One. He watched stunned awe, as two small vessels from the monstrous ship were allowed inside station without confrontation of any kind. Like everyone else that one action solidified his belief that this human infestation was in league with the Shadows. Like everyone else, he believed this human Federation, with their Vulcan overlords, had went absolutely insane for even entertaining such an abominable action. If that wasn't proof that they were Shadow minions, then nothing was. The two Vorlons in the room shook in anger and what he thought was confusing, but one could never really tell when it came to the First Ones. No matter, his initial beliefs confirmed, he vowed to destroy every last other human and their allies no matter the cost.

At the time, Coplann was grimly pleased when the Ashen presented themselves to their Minbari cousins for the first time. Their mere presence gave Minbari everywhere hope where it was fast fading. They had allies, more! They had family how had come to help in their time of need.

Then everything changed yet again. For the first time, a Shadow seen live on the Earther's ISN special reports, the same reports that gave the Minbari more information about their enemies in three hours than the entire Minbari warrior and Intelligence Divisions were able to discover since the beginning of war. The information was so freely given that the majority of Minbari everywhere believed it had to be lies. However, it couldn't be disproven otherwise, so they used it. But the shadows, those creatures of pure darkness, had to be allies.

Also, the Minbari had seen the enemies of old. They were real! That utterly shocking reveal however paled to what came next.

And what they said once again shocked them to the core. They freely admitted their involvement of everything, from the wars to their objectives! That alone should have caused every single members of the young races to outright reject the other humans and their allies. Didn't they see that this Federation was allied in darkness and would lead them all to their doom? That was the reason why the Minbari were fighting them, to save not just their own people, but everybody!

But then those dark First Ones added something no one expected. They declared that they would not directly involve themselves in the war. They claimed that they had no intentions of helping the Federation. and they added something that confused him. They claimed that the debate and they were satisfied with the result.

They had won.

Coplann didn't understand what that meant. Apparently, the Vorlons did understand because once again the room trembled as they expressed their hidden rage.

As for himself, he honestly didn't know what to think and dared not say anything in the Vorlons' presence. Those words had turned reality upside down. Even if most didn't believe it, every Minbari living had prepared for the true war between light and dark, and now, the darkness was effectively saying the war was over. They had no interests in continuing.

Coplann like everyone else was left with a million questions, the first among them being why would these First Ones admitted to everything and then just walked away? Those actions confused and disturbed him. Why would they abandon their own minions? Those were just the first of many questions that began to tear at his soul.

Of course, to his increasing irritation, the Vorlons said nothing and just shook the chamber without explanation.

Also. Another concern was the Vorlons' very sparse support for the Minbari in their battle against the so-called minions of the darkness. They had grudgingly given technology, shields, sensors, and heavy weapons, that could level the playing field against their formidable enemies. He praised them for their support at first. But as the war progressed, he quickly realized that their support was only a halfhearted effort. His people were given just enough technology to keep the war going but not enough to support the Minbari war machine in a way that was so desperately needed.

Yet, the Ashen had superior technology compared to what was given the Minbari and were in possession of it for scores if not hundreds of years. Why was there such a discrepancy? He didn't understand why the Vorlons had given the Ashen those technologies and had designed not to do the same for their most loyal Minbari servants. What aid the Vorlons had given them was done sparingly and most importantly, when the Minbari needed direct help and support from the Vorlons, they said no. Instead, they gave the Minbari the Ashen, pure Minbari who turned out to be the worst possible allies the Minbari could imagine.

That very though nearly made him sick on the bridge of the Enterprise as the truth struck him like a knife. The Ashen were to the Minbari as the Klingon dogs were to the Federation–but worse. Oh, how that irony burned at him! All this time his people were justifiably worried about the Federation when it should have been just as worried about their own brethren. The Klingons, as vicious and animalistic as they were, hadn't turned on their UFOP allies at the first given opportunity.

And the truth was that the Klingons were warriors, not zealots.

And, they weren't followers of the Shadow!

And, Delenn was missing!

How had it come to this?

The friction began with the Ashen the moment they arrived. They showed no respect for the Grey Council. They destroyed the Grey Council's attempt to make peace with the UFOP. Shai Alyt Branmer's, an honorable Star Rider if there ever was one, proposal had a possibility of success, if it had been given time for it to soak through the dense brains of these other humans. For peace it was a small thin that the Minbari had asked for. Admiral Kirk's and Commodore Acaltha's sacrifice, ten percent of the population of Earth Alliance and the execution of the government leaders of Earth Alliance was a very reasonable request in order to facilitate peace.

The Federation and the Alliance didn't agree. The Klingons just laughed.

There was some part of him that still believed that could have worked, until barely a month ago, but now, as he reflected on things, perhaps that proposal was somewhat excessive… he certainly would not have agreed to such a demand. But at the time, he had honestly believed that the younger races would have acceded to those conditions. And why? Because his people had demanded it and that should have been enough. Having the weight of a thousand years of being the greatest of the younger races afforded a confidence that they knew what was best. An almost hysterical giggle tried to erupt out of his mouth. He was Minbari. He suppressed it magnificently.

Ah, such arrogance. Had it really been that long ago?

Now he did chuckle for a moment, drawing stares from those on the bridge. He didn't care. His feelings were for him alone, not for others, especially aliens, to share. His people had come across something that was bigger and more powerful. He was humbled, and his bitterness threatened to bubble out of his throat. Never could he have imaged begging for help from his enemies in order to save his people from his own family!

He really had change, hadn't he? Perhaps death was preferable. He just wasn't sure at the moment. Admittedly, he really didn't want to die before the Ashen were wiped from the face of the universe.

"Two minute, ten seconds, "Lieutenant Valeris said, naturally devoid of emotion as usual. The Vulcan woman watched impassively as the chrometer counted down.

"All ships report ready, Admiral. The Gorn have acknowledged that they're ready."

"What about the Klingons? asked Kirk as politely as possible. It wasn't his crew member's fault that he hated Chang.

"Nothing from them, sir."

"Get a channel to Chang." Kirk growled.

"Channel opened."

"To be or not to be ready, Admiral Kirk?" Chang said before Kirk could speak. "That is the question you want to ask, isn't it? Kirk," Chang smirked at him for a moment. "We are Klingon. We are always ready," he added snidely as he cut the channel.

Kirk took of his glasses, carefully cleaning them to keep from venting his anger on the bridge. He shouldn't have allowed that…that Klingon to get on his nerves especially at this time. He allowed his anger to drain away so that he could focus on the now.


"One minute, eight seconds."

USS Valkyrie

Constellation class

Captain Jason Tynen, commanding (Hey Norjc-guess what...)

Captain's log, startdate supplemental: The Minbari counterparts, the Ashen have broken off the battle with the Minbari and are mow vectoring on a heading that will bring them directly to the fleet. There seems to be no subtlety to them other than the fact that they believe they can use their famous jump point attack on us and believe it to be successful. Operational planning has prepared for this potential attack. They expect us to stand where we are and take the punishment that they intend to dish out. They are wrong. The crew of the USS Valkyrie is ready for anything that we might come up against. I have full faith in my crew and in my ship as their actions performance and dedication has been outstanding. throughout this conflict.

I'm sorry that it has come to this and that we may have to implement General Order 24 on the home world of the Minbari. An agreement has been reached between the Minbari and the Federation. The Minbari have officially surrendered; however, I can't help but feel that something is off. There is increasing tensions between the Federation and Klingons, specifically some members of the High Command. On the eve of victory, internal strife is rearing its ugly head…

Note:This will be taken down after a while as the full chapter will be posted. So, if you see the same chapter number (83), it will not be the same.

Take care, people!