Disclaimer: Don't own it. Never will. If I did, I would've gotten to meet Bruce Boxleitner, and that would have been way cool.
Author's note: Art is never finished, only abandoned. Such is the case with this story. It has been a massive undertaking for me, and I am very, very proud of it – but I will always, no matter how many times I read and re-read it, change something every time. Finally I decided – it's time to let it go, and let my readers be the judge. Thanks for all the feedback as I've posted the chapters - the complete story is here as of 5/18/10, but I will (once I've had a chance to decompress my brain with something else) try to tinker with the beast and make some revisions based on reader suggestions and reviews.
A few specific things to note:
1) I always try, no matter the length of the story, to keep it as cannon as possible. That being said – I made Garibaldi David's godfather because it worked for the plot I had in mind. I was about ¾ of the way finished when I learned that it is established in the Legions of Fire novel trilogy by Peter David (which I have not read) that, in fact, Garibaldi really was given that position. My reaction was a slack-jawed, "Holy crap, I'm psychic." I tweaked tiny bits of the story after that, but it boosted my confidence about 110 percent.
2) I tried to do a little Bible-centric symbolism. It's a new thing for me; I think even if you don't get that, the story still works. Still, I'd be interested to know if that comes through.
3) JMS has said that he writes his best when he just lets the characters talk to him and then writes down what they say. I tried that. I think it makes me a little bit insane, but seriously, that's how most of this was written. I didn't write it. They did. Thanks, y'all.
You are the beginning of the story… and the middle of the story… and the end of the story, that begins the next great story." – Zathras, War Without End Part 2.
Born into Grey
Chapter 1 – The Vision
It was the only name they could have given him. At birth, his destiny was written in the stars, long before it was written in history. "David" for his human grandfather. David, meaning "beloved" in the language of his father – and he was certainly that. Da'vid, meaning "the beginning" in the language of his mother – and he was certainly that, as well.
Long after his father set history in motion by leaping into the abyss on Z'ha'dum; long after the Grey Council was broken and rebuilt by his mother's will; history would begin again, and he would venture his own descent and victory over darkness. Long after his parents fought to bring together a galaxy, he would fight to bring together two halves of the same whole – his people. He was the beginning of the next great story.
But that was later. Today, in Tuzanor, on Minbar, he was barely a day old.
In the tradition of his mother's caste, despite a difficult entry into the world that threatened the life of both mother and child, he had been born in the temple and sheltered there in his first hours. Now it was time to leave that shelter.
"He is The One made whole. He is your strength and your ambition. He will walk through dark places, but he will be drawn to the light – forever Grey, he will unite his people. He is a child of Valen. How could he not do marvelous things?"
John Sheridan was spellbound by the Minbari seer's revelation. He was equally captivated and confused. One look at Delenn and he knew she shared his opinion.
The seer kissed the brow of newborn David Sheridan, who was wide awake and nestled in his arms. He recited a Minbari prayer, and the child met his gaze with curiosity – but not fear. The words captivated David and his father equally, for they had in common that neither understood them, and were drawn instead by their flowing melody. "We have waited for you for a long time, little one," the seer told David. The child remained still and silent. "I see it now… you are a very old soul." As if in response, David emitted a sound of joy. "Yes, I see you know it already. A very old soul." He shook his head in wonder and then, as was tradition, he handed the baby to his father – the same-gender parent.
"He will walk above the castes long after you have gone to walk among the stars." John's demeanor was serious now at the reminder that he would likely not live to see his son reach this destiny. "He will be a bridge. He is the beginning."
"The beginning of what?"
And that word again, the first Minbari word John had ever spoken, the one that had saved his life so many years before. "Isil'zha." The future.
"Da'vid," Delenn breathed, and John looked down at his wife with a furrowed brow. There was clearly a different pronunciation in the name they'd agreed to months ago. "It means 'the beginning' in the dialect of the religious caste. It means…"
"It means this name will serve him well," the seer finished. "That is all I see for now. But I must admit that in all my years, I've not had a vision as clear and powerful as this one. Fear not. You both will give him the foundation he will need. Instill in him all of your values and beliefs from both your worlds. He will need them if he is to fully reach his destiny." He bowed to the family, and then the lights in the temple dimmed as the seer departed and the doors opened, leaving John and Delenn to carry their newborn child out into the Crystal City for the first time.
"How was Minbar?"
"And the child?"
"He lives, then?"
"Sheridan is not unbreakable. The child makes him vulnerable."
"Indeed it does, Mr. Bester. Indeed it does."