Illusion in the Night by DD Agent

Well…this came to me in the early part of this year, and it seems to have been put off since then. This is a longer, more epic B5 fic but I warn you now that I'm terrible for regular updating on my other longer fics. However, this is my favourite fandom so hopefully things should be better here.

Spoilers: Entire Babylon 5 arc, specially 'Sleeping in Light'.

Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own these characters. My new plan involves bribing JMS with some sort of confectionary. Or shoes. As you can I see, I'm not an evil genius. Lets hope I'm a better writer.

Hope you enjoy, and reviews are like confectionary, but unfortunately not the sort I intend to bribe in order to get my hands on the B5 characters.

X

The year is 2286, and the universe is very different to the one John Sheridan left behind. Earth has a new President who is determined to raise Humans to the high reaches of the stars. The Grey Council are permanently separated from their people and have grown to loathe the Interstellar Alliance and its influence.

The Interstellar Alliance is in the midst of celebrations, but their grieving President is distracted by the changes on the wind. Her son David is trying to escape Minbar on every opportunity, and Susan Ivanova is remembering Marcus as the anniversary of his 'death' arrives.

Change is coming, and it is a time to remember the phrase 'All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again'…

Samantha Cole stared out of the transport window, looking into space as they made their descent. A Centauri was asleep next to her, his snoring loud enough to wake the dead. Sighing slowly, Samantha traced a cross on the window.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we will soon be approaching Yeodor, Minbar. If you could tighten your belts and place any items in an upright position we can continue on to our destination safely."

She slipped the folder out of her bag again, and opened it up. Inside was a picture of her cousin, and the details about his cryogenic suspension. Samantha looked at the photo of Marcus Cole, her older cousin. He was very handsome, he had the same thick black hair that Samantha had, but instead of the bright green eyes that he must have inherited from his father, she had deep brown.

At the back of the folder was an invitation to the twenty fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Interstellar Alliance. The year was 2286, and Samantha was nearing her twenty fourth year. She hadn't been old enough to witness the civil war on Earth, or the Shadow war. Samantha had never met her cousin; he had 'died' before she was born. But her mother had and that was why she was travelling to Minbar.

Light turbulence started, and Samantha began to breathe in deeply. She hated flying, detested the feeling of having someone else other than her in control. Back on Earth, she tried to walk everywhere, and if that didn't work she would drive herself. Closing her eyes, she could see her mother's face.

"Samantha."

Her eyes flickered open to the sound of her name, but there was no one around. The Centauri beside her was still sleeping, and no one else was looking at her. Sitting back in her chair, it wasn't long before they had arrived safely at their destination. Samantha couldn't get off the transport quick enough, even bumping into a few Minbari religious caste as she ran as fast as she could.

Everyone was here for the celebration, or to research the mystery of Sheridan's disappearance. Samantha couldn't care less. Although she had tried to block out her father, his opinions on Sheridan had bled through. Nevertheless, she was here now on the home world of the Minbari and the centre of the Interstellar Alliance. She glanced around the customs area, and caught sight of her guide.

Eric Baker was a weedy Human who had thickset glasses and a mop of brown hair that seemed untameable. But he waved to Samantha in earnest, and for all intents and purposes he was the man who was going to help her survive the next few days.

"Samantha Cole?" Eric asked, and she gave a curt nod. "Its wonderful to see you. My notification said you were going to arrive an hour earlier."

"Problems on the Earth side, I apologise. They're not too happy about people going to Minbar. Seems that they think the ISA is interfering with Earth policy or something."

"Ah well, governments, what are you going to do huh? They didn't actually tell me what you were doing here…"

"I need to talk to the former General Ivanova. She has papers regarding my cousin, Marcus Cole. As the last living member of his family, legally they belong to me. That is all Mr Baker."

Eric stared at Samantha for a moment, taking in her appearance. While he had opted to wear Minbari style clothing as he studied their culture, Samantha had gone for typical 'Earther' clothing. Dark black jeans and a plain white t-shirt with large sunglasses was the appearance of an outsider, something that Eric believed Samantha wanted. She was certainly rude. She saw a signpost for the transports to Tuzanor, and she went off at a fast pace. Eric had a hard job catching up with her.

They made it onto the ship, and Samantha stared out the window, taking in the Minbari landscape as she did. Eric watched her, and she didn't even flinch as he openly stared. She was paying him a lot of money to help her through the circus that was Minbar in the present climate. In nine days, the whole galaxy would celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance and everyone was rushing to Minbar to be part of it. Feeling a slight movement in his bowels, he went to find the nearest toilet leaving Samantha alone.

She hadn't noticed that he had gone until she had turned away from the window and back into the transport. Minbar looked stunning from what she could see. She wished she had time to see it, but she was here on business only. If everything went like it was supposed to, she would be in and out of Minbar in three days. The invitation was just a precaution.

"Beautiful."

Samantha turned around to see a handsome man next to her, eyes sparkling and a strong chin. He was wearing the uniform of the Rangers, and was staring directly at her.

"The ice caps are spectacular. It must be lovely to actually live here," Samantha pointed to the broach he was wearing, and he fingered it slowly before turning his eyes back to her.

"I grew up here, and the scenery is breathtaking. But it wasn't the scenery that I was calling beautiful," he replied, giving her a killer smile. Samantha chuckled, before raising her hand and showing off the small engagement ring on her finger. Her fiancé was back on Earth, awaiting her call as soon as she knew whether Susan Ivanova was going to cooperate or not.

"I grew up on Earth, sheltered from anything and everything. It comes as such a shock when things break apart," Samantha said gently, and she saw her own pain reflected in the man's eyes next to her. Just as she was about to explain, Eric returned from his seat and the man put his hood up.

"We're nearly at Tuzanor. Not long to go now!"

X

Eric had noticed that Samantha had been in a good mood since they had been on the transport, although he did not know why. The city was quiet, as the bulk of the celebrations were happening in Yeodor to protect the hallowed ground. A worker caste Minbari came up to the pair, and handed Samantha an Earth rose. He explained that a young man in a Ranger uniform handed it to him to give to her.

They walked slowly towards the Ranger compound, Eric explaining about the history of the city and Samantha smelled the rose occasionally. For the first time in two weeks, she felt truly calm.

"They have a saying, the Minbari. To dream in the City of Sorrows…"

"…Is to dream of a better future." Samantha turned around and faced an empty courtyard. There was no one there, but she could have sworn she heard the voice that had called her name on the transport to Minbar. She shook her head gently; the past two weeks had made her fragile inside even if she didn't show it on the outside.

"Miss Cole? We're going to be late for your appointment with Ranger One."

Samantha and Eric made it to the compound in plenty of time, and were seated outside Ranger One's office. They only waited a short time before Samantha was called in to see Susan Ivanova. She entered the office tentatively, not sure what to expect. She found a tired looking woman in a Rangers uniform, but her eyes were full of fire. The former General gestured for her to take a seat while she found Samantha's file.

"So Miss…Cole," Ivanova seemed a little unnerved by her surname. "What can I do for you?"

Samantha took a deep breath and began. "While you were stationed on Babylon 5 as Commander, you worked with a Ranger called Marcus Cole. I don't know if he mentioned my side of the family at all, probably not considering that his father and my mother were estranged. I'm his cousin, and now his only living relative. I would appreciate if we could discuss signing over custody of my cousin's cryogenic tube to my care."

Ivanova looked at Samantha for a long minute before turning back to the file. She had handed DNA testing and proof of identity just in case there was any question that she was Marcus' cousin. Samantha had also included a request in writing from her solicitor just to make sure that there wasn't any confusion.

"No."

"No?"

"No."

Samantha was annoyed at this woman's blatant dismissal, but she decided not to give up. "Ranger One, Marcus is my cousin."

"Well he was my…that isn't the issue. The issue here is that I have had papers relating to Marcus Cole for over twenty years now, twenty-five in fact, and no one from his family has bothered to claim him until now. So I'm sorry Miss Cole, but the answer is no."

She was about to argue the point when the door to her office was opened and in stepped the man from the transport. He looked more handsome in the dimming sunlight of Tuzanor, and Samantha felt her anger lessening at the sight of him. The rose she had assumed he had given her was safely in her pocket.

"Ranger One, Mother needs to speak to you right away," he replied, his eyes finally meeting Samantha's and giving her a look of confusion as to why she was there.

"I'll be right there David. As for you Miss Cole, get the hell out of my office," She growled, before storming out of the small room. David gave her a dispassionate look before following suit, leaving Samantha to collapse in a dishevelled heap in the chair.

X

"So you're giving up?" asked Eric as he walked Samantha to the nearest transport to Earth in Yeodor. Night had fallen in the Minbari capital, and Samantha was freezing cold in her small t-shirt.

"No, I'm not giving up Eric, I'm going to have my solicitor back on Earth serve her legal documents. But I cannot spend another moment on this planet." It was true, and not for the reasons that she was sure Eric was thinking. Ever since she had stepped foot on Minbar, shivers had gone up her spine and she kept hearing voices.

"Maybe you should think about this for a moment Miss Cole. Susan Ivanova is a very powerful woman, I have a hard time believing that you'll win this fight," Eric explained, and Samantha turned round to face him, fatigue evident in her eyes.

"My father died ten years ago. He was the reason why Earth was the only place I had ever visited, why I had to sit through lectures on how bad aliens were since I was four. It took my Mother up until her dying day to finally do something against my father and give me the name of my cousin. She died two weeks ago. I have no family; Marcus is all I have left. So forgive me Mr Baker if I don't give up that easily," she nodded to him and pressed the money she owed him in his hand.

On the transport, Samantha felt like crying. Things hadn't gone exactly as she had planned. Now she was returning to a job she hated, a home where everywhere she turned she saw her mother and a life where she felt as if she was going through the motions. All she had was her fiancé Mark, but even their relationship could be strenuous at best. The sights of Minbar passed before her eyes and vanished, and she felt a loss in her heart.

"Don't cry Samantha, it isn't the end of the world. Oh, wait, it is."

Samantha froze in her seat at the sound of the voice next to her. There was no one seated next to her a moment ago, and there hadn't been anyone there when the transport had taken off. She recognised it as the voice that she had been hearing all day, and what's more she could finally place the voice that had been bothering her. Turning around, she faced a man reading Universe Today. He finally looked down from his paper and turned to her smiling. He offered her a hand.

"I don't think we've met. John Sheridan."