Valen


It was with hope that we extended our reach upwards.

It was with joy and excitement we cast our eyes up to look upon heaven.

We dreamed of walking with Gods

We dreamed of speaking with the oldest of the old

All our will was bent upon it

And for our sins, our dream was granted.


We gazed upon the brightness of day, and forget the cold of night

We bathed in sun, but ignored shadows

We looked at the stars, but neglected the blackness that lay between

For one only exists with the other

Brightness can only glory with darkness

And Every light casts a Shadow.


We took our steps out into that void, gazing at stars

Slipping the bonds of our primitivity

Assuming the grace of travel beyond our world

We travelled to our sister worlds

We walked on seas of ice and rivers of fire

And at the limit, we found our great trial


It was a structure not of Minbar

A gateway and portal to the furthest corners of the galaxy

Those first few pioneers who travelled through it are legend

They gave their lives so others could follow safely.

A dozen ships went into the nothing

Until on one day, one ship returned.


From then on Minbar changed, for we were no longer constrained.

We explored the stars

We set up colonies

We met alien races

We built new ships, new stations, new technology.

We were noticed by the galaxy, and by others.


The children of Minbar took their ways to the galaxy and learned much.

Priest taught, Warriors fought, workers repaired.

The clans had found new meaning and new purpose in the brightness of the stars

Old rivalries began to fade as we united

For the first time in millennia Minbari did not kill Minbari

We killed others.


Few challenged us, for while we were new to space we were old in war.

The fire of our righteousness burned our enemies

The calm of our priests won our friends

The skill of our workers cemented alliances.

Minbar had risen in glory to prominence in the galaxy

We forgot the warnings of prophecy and expanded our borders in all directions.


In our haste to explore and take territory we grew prideful

As our victories grew so too did our arrogance

And as our arrogance grew, so our caution diminished.

We did not heed the words of the Religious clans

We did not remember the stories of Angels and Demons from the stars.

We did not prepare for the terror in wait for us.


For we had been noticed

For long years we had been scrutinized by an intellect beyond our knowledge

A force of legend

Armies of Myth

Legions of fire and Death were stirring

And we were their target.


Those we had defeated in battle returned for revenge

They were stronger than ever, newly ordered and newly armed

They fell upon us and the races of the galaxy in fury

The children of Minbar fought back with equal fury, but others could not

Many worlds were taken, many races grievously injured

The galaxy had begun to divide into light and into dark.


As our enemies grew strong and united the elders met

Each clan gathered in the great hall outside Yedor and sent its wisest

For a week they talked, and argued, and shuddered.

The strength arrayed against us was overwhelming

The Hate all consuming, and our doom seemed inevitable.

But in those times hope grew.


There rose one from the Religious clan, Lenor of the family Mir.

She was young and had great passion, a favoured teacher of her people

She was wise beyond her years and a great speaker.

Lenor took the circle and spoke of uniting our military with our allies.

'We had traded with aliens' she said. 'Why not fight with them?'

She spoke magnificently, but to no avail


The Warriors mocked, claiming they did not need help to win

The priests tutted, claiming divine right would grant victory

The workers fidgeted, fearing the loss of military production.

All had fears for their own power, and not enough fear of the enemy.

They saw threats in their allies and it over powered the true enemy

Self interest ruled the clans, and doomed many to death.


Lenor left in defeat and the Minbari fought alone.

More races died on our borders begging for help, but none came

Our ships defended our worlds and no other

It was a strategy that could not be sustained, for as our allies died so too did trade

Our wealth diminished, our economy splintered

Our warships went without supplies.


Seeing this the dark alliance struck down upon us.

Our furthest colony did fall to their depravations, even with our fleet in battle

Ships and warriors fell by the thousand to no avail

Enemies died by the million, but it did not stop them

Those on the colony suffered an unthinkable fate

And those clan elders who had refused to believe such a thing could happen knew shame


Lenor of the family Mir spoke again of alliance, and no laughter greeted her.

The great and the wise listened in humility

They saw their pride die before the massed guns of our enemies

The death of our world was suddenly mirrored in their eyes

Envoys were sent, calls for help were answered, a new fleet grew

Minbari now treated aliens as equals, friend and foe alike.


The lesson was learned and our warriors became cautious.

No longer did they rush into battle but measured and tested the enemy

In alliance with our neighbours we fought back, raided their worlds.

The war turned, the enemy faltered, the darkness fled.

Over long years the alliance liberated the worlds of the free

Then we attacked the homes of the dark.


Something regarded us with anger

We had united those which it had sought to divide

Our example had led the free, so it decided the example had to be changed

We do not know when they fully awoke, when the first ship screamed into life

We know the darkness rippled and grew, tendrils and sinews tightened.

And then we knew only terror.


The worlds we liberated fell silent. Ships vanished. People disappeared.

We investigated, only to see our search ships vanish

Our unease turned to fear, and slowly fear turned to panic.

But it was Lenor who calmed us

Her voice filled us with new resolve, to meet the darkness with light

The light of the fusion bomb and laser cannon.


A fleet was sent, it arrived at the lost colony and found death.

The city was dead, the people dead, the world dead.

And above was death itself.

The fleet attacked this avatar of the dark, a ship that seemed to live

It thrived in fire and revelled in destruction

And it was a master in it's chosen art.


The avatar savaged our ships, striking down many before they could react.

The battle was a new form of war as the fleet tried to stop this fleeting shadow.

Fire rained down from the dark and the warriors burned

Finally our ships struck home, one after the other

Green cleansing light framed the ship and destroyed it

It died screaming, drenched in warriors blood. It was the first.


The dark alliance had failed to stop us, so now the masters took the stage.

Within three months half our worlds had fallen, destroyed down to the sand and rock

Cloven to the bones of the earth.

Our fleets responded, but failed in battle after battle.

The black ships cut apart everything in their midst with a sinister joy

The children of Minbar wept for each loss as we and our allies bled.


The warrior clans, once united, now grew divided.

As defeat outweighed victory, as world after world burned the dissention grew.

Each clan controlled it's own fleets and no longer coordinated their efforts

They blamed each other for the losses, accused of cowardice and incompetence

The warriors could not accept defeat, their pride was too great.

Our defences further fragmented, and only the aliens kept our lines firm.


But they could not stop the Shadows from falling without us.

Warriors fought and died in the face of unthinkable odds

They died with honour

They died with courage

They died with strength in their souls

They died pointlessly


The clans threw away the lives of their warriors in futile gestures to other clans

Each wanted to score victory at whatever cost, to destroy a black ship.

Black ships died, but our losses were immense and unsustainable

Some warriors attacked, others stood in defence, others did neither.

They did not support each other in battle, and the enemy isolated them and cut them down.

Our warrior clans were bleeding to death out of pride.


And then the Windswords went to war, not with the Shadows, but with their brothers.

Clan battled clan, Minbari killed Minbari in the face of our enemy

Our two greatest warrior clans, Windsword and Star rider battled one another

Their fleets had held our central line, and now turned on each other not the enemy.

It did not go unnoticed.

The Darkness shifted, gathered, marshalled, and then struck with fury.


The Shadows sliced through our strongest defences as Minbari killed Minbari

Our two great clans were decimated by each other and then the Shadows

Our bulwark was breached and our sole surviving starbase lay open to attack.

The other clans drew in what ships they could, the base was defended by the last true might of our fleet.

The shadows came in force and wiped them out in a day, few survived that battle.

The base and the greatest of our warriors were lost in a day of tears.


The war was lost, our hopes burned before our eyes.

The great clans of warriors were all but dead, our fleets a shell ready to crack.

The lines had been broken and the Shadows killed all in their path

Our allies rallied but they were pinned by the other forces of darkness

There was no one to come now to our aid, no one to halt the fall of night

And Minbari itself was open to the eyes of the Shadows.


Our despair was short lived, for when we called out to the universe for help, it answered.

In the path of the Shadows emerged a new light, and that light blazed in every heart.

It held a base to restore our defences

It held angels to restore our wonder

It held supplies to restore our fleets

And it held the One to restore our hope.


Valen stepped from between the Angels of old, the Vorlons of legend.

From the light he arrived with no word of his origin, just his aid.

He was Minbari not born of Minbari

Of no Clan and no Caste, but of every Clan and Caste

With quiet words he spoke to the survivors of the last battle and drew them to him.

At the new station a new line was formed to resist the darkness, and the Shadows fell on it.


The battle raged for a week, swaying back and forth around the fortress.

The warriors who had survived the earlier battle fought with renewed vigour

Their hearts lifted by Valen who commanded them

At the turning point of the battle Valen took to the sky in a craft unknown to us

A small grey fighter with cross wings and unusual markings

And in it Valen slew many soldiers of darkness until they arrived.


The Angels returned to Minbar

At Valen's call the Vorlons had entered the battle and cast down the Shadows.

In ships as alien and elemental as those of the enemy they attacked

The warriors of Valen launched one last attack and by the end they had victory

For the first time the Shadows gave ground and retreated

The Station was safe, the star of hope for our people. And Valen set about his destiny.


He went first to the warriors who had fought with him and spoke unto them

He called them his household, not of one clan but of all Minbar

He called them Warriors no longer, but Anla'shok.

They were his fist and his eyes, his word and his presence

Where they went Valen went

And where they gave battle they carried Valen's wrath.


He then went to our allies and offered them hope

He spoke of the Vorlons and the aid they promised

He showed them victory, he showed light blinding dark.

He showed them the star of hope that came from nowhere

He stood before them, the man who had driven away the Shadows

And they named him leader, swearing to follow him to the end.


Finally he came to Minbar itself and called upon the clan elders

And they came, drawn by the chance to see this man of fable

This light the Shadows feared.

He brought with him the promise of victory, for he knew the Shadows

He knew their strength and he knew their weakness

He knew the Minbari could prevail, if they followed him.


Valen looked upon the clan elders and they looked in awe at him

As one the worker caste bowed to him, they called him victor and wonder

They marvelled at his plain speech and common way

He had the manner of a worker, he had the dedication of a builder.

In him they saw one of their own, and they called him leader.

And from the elders he chose the three wisest to come with him.


The priest and scholars of the religious clan looked upon Valen

They saw the man who walked with Angels

They saw a figure of legend and prophecy,

A Minbari not born of Minbari

They saw one who spoke with the words and demeanor of a priest

From them he chose three to follow him


The Warriors of the military clans looked upon Valen

They saw the man who had defeated the Shadows

They saw the man who had taken many warriors for his own

They saw the man who commanded more ships than they did

They saw a rival

The Warriors turned their back upon Valen.


With the Elders of the Religious Clans he had unified the heart of the people

With the workers he had unified the hands of the people.

The entirety of those people followed without question,

Soon war production grew, and the Minbari found hope

The Anla'shok welcomed scholoar and worker to their ranks

The Soldiers of Valen grew stronger, and victory followed victory.


But without the Warriors no victory would be complete.

Without their strength there could be no great counter attack

Many among them sought to join him, seeing his warrior soul

But the elders clung bitterly to their power

The desire that had so nearly doomed their world

They did not listen to their warriors, and did not follow Valen.


So Valen issued a challenge under the ancient rules of combat

He challenged the greatest warrior to a duel with the Denn'bok

He made his challenge and he waited

The Warriors could not agree which of them had the right to fight Valen

Each wanted the honour and they argued about it, finally engaging in duels

By the morning only one warrior elder remained standing, and he faced Valen.


But the warrior was weary and injured when he met Valen

The nights battle had taken its toll on the great duellist, and Valen knew it.

The battle was brutal and well fought, Valen claimed to have been taught by the master

Yet the warrior was the greater, only his weariness denied him victory

Through wit and skill Valen won, and by right of combat became leader of all Warrior clans.

Then he picked the three greatest warriors and bid them follow him.


Valen took Three of the Religious Clans

He took Three of the Worker clans

He took three of the military clans

He then declared a new order, that the individual clans were one in service

They were not divided by family anymore, but united in service to all Minbari

The day of clans ended, and the Three Castes of Minbar were born.


From these three castes he called the grouped elders their leaders

Three from each Caste to rule together in equality

Worker, Warrior, Religious.

He took them and formed a circle of nine

Three times three

And he named them the Grey Council, shades and hidden from the light of their castes


He said to them 'We are grey, we stand between the Candle and the Star'

'We stand between the darkness and the light'

To each he went in turn and high the relic he had brought with him

He named it the Triluminary, and it glowed in his presence.

He presented robes to each, each identical.

The council stood unrecognisable, outside and inside they were simply of Minbar.


Then he said to the new Council

'Will you follow me into darkness?'

'Will you follow me into fire and into storm?'

'Will you follow me into death?'

As one the council said yes.

'Then follow.'


The Council went with him from the old Clan meeting place to a new home

There he addressed them a third time

'You must put aside old things'

'Old fears. Old lives'

'This is your Death, the death of flesh, the death of Pain, the death of Yesterday.'

'Do not be afraid, for I am with you, to the end of time.'


The Council followed his words and sealed it with their promises.

They were now united, one to follow Valen in life and death

One to serve all of Minbar, not just clan or caste

One to fight the darkness, now and forever

Valen made his first law 'No Minbari shall ever kill another Minbari'

He ended with three words. 'So it begins'


At the head of the Anla'shok Valen was everywhere and nowhere

He was where he was most needed by the light, and never where the enemy sought him.

He instructed the workers to build new ships, great warcruisers of blue arches

He instructed the warriors to decline battle and gather their strength

And he instructed the Religious leaders to gather the telepaths to him

With the Anla'shok and telepaths he began to form a new strategy.


The forces of light struck where the darkness did not expect

The Anla'shok and the allies never stopped moving, always avoiding battle

Valen said he had fought such a war in his youth, of weak against strong

All the while the Vorlons moved fleetingly among them, aiding when called

After many years the fleet was rebuild, crewed with a new generation of warriors

They were united under Valen, one force, one will, one strength. They were ready.


Valen sent forth his fleets led by the telepaths of the Religious caste

The black ships faltered under the psychic attacks, and then were cloven by our new ships

On all fronts the Darkness retreated and the Army of Light gave chase.

They found no worlds to free, just scarred and dead rock

Each lost species spurred them on and filled their resolve

All united behind Valen, and it did not go unnoticed.


The darkness sent their mightiest servants into battle, the Technomages.

Like a whirlwind they tore through armies and fleets

They wielded the power of the Night and slew with unfathomable joy.

But through strength of arms and strength of will they were repulsed.

Telepaths blocked them, warriors killed them, and while they tried to kill Valen,

Valen lived on, stalwart as ever.


The allies of darkness fell or fled,

The mages were all but exterminated

The Drakh driven to hiding

The Shroggoth repulsed

In the end only the masters themselves remained to do battle

And they fought as only Demons can fight.


Valen called upon the Vorlons for more help

He knew where the Shadow homeworld was and planned battle.

He sought one last swift battle to end this war

But the Vorlons forsake the Army of light

The said the message was delivered and the Darkness receded.

In return Valen expelled the Vorlons from Minbar.


As Valen confronted the Vorlons his followers grew eager

The Tak'Cha were his most reverent supporters, calling him legend.

They tried to rally more races to battle, and if any refused they were called heretic

The Tak'Cha grew wild and waged war on many races

It was the peaceful Yolu who resisted long enough to call upon Valen

And he returned in fury to the battle.


The Tak'Cha had gone beyond his teachings, and were cast from the army.

Yet while they obeyed the will of Valen, they did not change

Still they revere him and name him their greatest prophet

And Valen was sad, for the Tak'Cha had been a noble race before the war

He called them one more casualty of war, that not all losses were physical

Then the Shadows returned.


They came in force once more and while Valens forces fought back, they advanced.

The battle was as intense and desperate as any, and it swayed to the darkness.

The battle came to Minbar itself, the sky glowed with light as ships duelled close above

The Anla'shok met the Shadows with no telepaths

Their fleet were the only ones in range and they fought without hesitation

When help finally arrived the Anla'shok were all but extinct.


At the height of the battle Valen was attacked by a warrior or Darkness

One of the Masters of night arrived on his ship, killing his telepath guards

Valen and his familiar Zathras met the challenge, but seemed doomed to die

Then the young warrior Ilyr did arrive, and he attacked the monster

Though it cost him his life, Ilyr drove away the Shadow and saved Valen

From there after his name was the most honoured of all warriors.


Minbar was saved, and the last Shadow fleet was defeated

Valen now looked to the heart of the enemy

Z'Ha'Dum.

The Death of futures

Heart of the Darkness

And he resolved to cut it out once and for all.


The fleet gathered, weary and battle scarred but resolved.

Their will was as strong as ever, and their eyes set on final victory.

Valen's fleet arrived at Z'Ha'Dum with a righteous fire

The Shodows fled, their fleets were beaten

Z'Ha'Dum was placed under attack, bombed night and day for a month

The Shadows were driven away, the war was over.


Valen spoke to the Vorlons

He asked them to destroy Z'Ha'Dum for it was beyond his fleet.

He demanded they destroy the Shadows forever

He pleaded with them to protect the lives of the future generations

But the Vorlons refused, and they left

And never again were they seen in the cycles of this galaxy.


The Shadows scattered to a million worlds

Dead

Dying

Sleeping

Waiting

They were defeated, but not broken. They will rise again.


Valen returned to Minbar, releasing the fleets under his command.

The allies returned to their life, save those who had suffered too greatly

They he brought under the protection of the Minbari

He honoured their courage and devotion

For they fought on when the Warrior clans bickered

All Minbari owed them a debt, and it was to be repaid.


He was a changed man, world weary and soul sick

Valen stayed for a long time in Tuzanor, City of Sorrows

Dreaming of the Future

As Minbar rebuild so did he

And when the time came he returned to the people

And he was welcomed with joy.


Valen regarded this cautiously, for he did not wish to be an icon

He forbade any idol or image to be made in his honour

He directed the people to work for Minbar

To honour him by honouring Minbar as one whole

He took the mantle he had worn during the war

But refused to rule alone, only as one of the Council.


He made laws, solidifying the new Minbar

The word of Valen became law

His wisdom was never denied

The world grew in peace and friendship with our allies

It was a golden age

And it was all too brief.


In this time Valen took a wife, the great Lenor of the family Mir

They forged a family, and as he raised his children he left leadership

The Council ruled Minbar in his name and did so wisely

The Council were Valen's chosen, wise and just

The Council however were growing old

And like all things, over time, it changed.


Valen remained Entil'Zha dwelling in Tuzanor with the Rangers

But as he lived many plotted against him

Warriors who remembered the humbly of the clans

Heirs who now inherited nothing grew to age

He was blamed for their loss of power

And they sought vengeance.


Valen turned the Anla'shok into watchers, seeking evidence of the Dark

He restored their losses and directed them

Even in the face of growing hostility from Warriors,

The Anla'shok were well regarded on Minbar and abroad

Valen lay down his prophecy, warning of the return of the Shadows

And that the Minbari would need to find the other half of their Souls.


Valen had grown to old age when the time came

The Warriors denied their birthright attacked

They tried to kill him and his family,

But the Anla'shok rallied to his defence and the warriors were slain

But Lenor did not survive, and Valen's grief was immeasurable

He took his children and fled into hiding.


When news of the attack was heard Minbar went mad

The Workers and Religious Castes threatened civil war

The Warriors themselves were divided, the violent Windswords were blamed

On the brink of Civil war Valen returned for the last time.

He reminded them of his greatest law

Minbari do not kill Minbari


Against Valens will there was no opposition

The Council united once more and Valen forgave the Windswords

He spoke once more to the Council, for three days

He left them his prophecy and warnings to be guarded

He warned them of the future, and that his family was safe

And then he took ship and went to the sea.


A month later the ship was found

It was outside the Great and forgotten Station he arrived on.

It's doors were sealed from the inside

But no trace of Valen was found

The Anla'shok took the station and hid it as per Valens request

So it did not become an Idol to him.


It was with wonder Minbar heard of his passing

He left as mysteriously as he arrived.

Much about Valen was unknown

But there is one fact, one truth known to all Minbari

In a Thousand years when the Darkness grows again

Valen will return.