Just one warning in advance: this is a darker Babylon 5 universe, so if that's not your cup of tea, leave now. This story parallels a real story, but you'll have to figure out what it is on your own.

And the reason for this: Jeffrey Sinclair was not able to fight at the Line due to an inability to obtain a fighter. Yeah, sounds kind of dumb, but there has to be some kind of reason for this.

X X X X X X X X X X

The Grey Council watched as the last of the human ships were destroyed. They had sustained a few losses, and one Sharlin was damaged beyond repair, but apart from that, they were all but unscathed. There were still close to 200 of them, along with 750 Tianshis, around 75 percent of the Minbari fleet. "And so it ends." Delenn said, bowing her head.

"Yes; their resistance meant nothing to us." Coplann boasted. "Now it is time to wipe out these savages once and for all."

"What of the transports evacuating Earth?" Hedronn asked. "Many of them are beyond our reach at the moment." Like the rest of the Religious Caste, he was no longer supportive of the war, but it had taken on a life on its own, and after Lennon's death, they was no way to end it.

"They will be hunted down and destroyed in time." Coplann reassured. "Even in neutral space, there were be no one who will dare try to protect them."

The Minbari fleet approached Earth and entered the outer atmosphere. The Sharlins opened fire, destroying any target they could reach. Delenn turned her head away, not wanting to see any more death.

After an undetermined amount of time, there were frantic reports coming into the Grey Council. "Satai Delenn, we have urgent news." One of them reported. "Several of our War Cruisers have been destroyed and more have been damaged. It seems like the humans still have weapons available."

The Grey Council looked at the screen and saw more weapons heading towards them. The Minbari momentarily stopped bombarding Earth and turned their attentions towards their current threat. The missiles were easy to lock onto, but there were just so many of them, likely thousands.

Most of them were shot down, but the few that got through cost them many lives. One came close to hitting the Grey Council ship (don't remember what it is called) A few more seconds and it would have been too late.

"These humans will pay dearly for the dishonorable slaughter of our warriors!" Coplann exclaimed. "All of them will suffer for this."

"Perhaps, but I believe a ground campaign will be necessary." Delenn cautioned. "Think of the heavy price we paid on their colonies. How many more will die on their homeworld? This war must be stopped, and stopped now!" Indeed, on the ground, the humans seemed to have an advantage. The Minbari had superior technology and numbers, but the humans were skilled and not easily overcome. Delenn was hoping to persuade them to end the war, however small the hope now was.

"You're going soft on us, Delenn!" Coplann protested. "You were the deciding vote when it came to the war. We must fight it to its conclusion." Delenn did not have the heart to say more. It would take weeks before enough transports could arrive for a suitable invasion. The human attacks had stopped for the moment, but how many more were they capable of?

"It will not take long!" Morann bragged. "The humans are nearly helpless, with only these toys to defend themselves with." He overlooked the fact that the first wave of these weapons claimed several ships, along with nearly 2,000 Minbari. The humans were primitive, weak, and defenseless, so this would be an easy task.

The Sharlin continued raining plasma on the planet, focusing on major population centers and destroying them one by one. They detected enemy transmissions, but they still could not understand what the male was saying, only that it appeared to be an angry voice.

"There must be some way to end this!" Delenn protested. "They are beaten; there is no reason and no honor to slay the helpless!"

"They are far from helpless!" Coplann exclaimed. "Their entire species will be exterminated for their crimes! Or have you forgotten their recent attack? How many more will they have?" Indeed, the losses the Minbari suffered in the campaign to reach Earth were considerable, more than anyone expected. If not for the stealth system that every Minbari ship possessed, the losses would have been much higher than they were.

"You will punish an entire species for the actions of a single ship?" Delenn said sadly. What are we doing? What are we becoming? Now more than ever, she regretted the words she spoke at the moment of Dukhat's death.

"You said 'kill them all! No mercy!'" Coplann reminded her. "Are you not strong enough to stand by your words?"

"I changed my mind long ago; this must end!" Delenn exclaimed. Even as she said that, though, she knew no one would listen to her, as they had not during the course of the war. She prayed that the humans would survive, that their species would not fall victim to their madness. However, as she watched neutron beams slam into the planet, she saw no hope for them.

X X X X X X X X X X

Abbai Matriarchate:

Yrisha, the empress-mother of their homeworld, looked through the stars sadly. Along with the other Non-aligned worlds, they had pleaded with the Minbari to show mercy to the humans. They were firmly rebuffed, and warned that if they so much as protested again, they would suffer the same fate as the humans.

However, they were meeting unexpected resistance on Earth. From what little intelligence was getting out, Minbari warriors were taking heavy causalities, already beyond what they endured on Earth colonies. She felt utterly helpless; the Drazi had their largest colony burnt to ash for ignoring a similar warning.

Nonetheless, there were patrols everywhere and their defense grid was activated at all times. Perhaps they could do some good, she hoped.

They detected something coming through the jump gate. There were over 100 ships in poor condition. They were unpainted with no markings and it looked like they would be able to do anything more. She immediately ordered aid ships to assist them, even though they were not sure who they are.

"This is Elizabeth Sheridan to Abbai homeworld; we require assistance." She heard through the translators. "Repeat, we require assistance. We will not be able to last much longer."

"We will assist you in any way we can." she replied, preferring to do this herself rather than let another do so. "Our ships are already on route."

Unfortunately, when they got there, more jump points opened. A few Minbari war cruisers left the jump gate, firing on the refugee transports. The abbai fighters went towards the Minbari ones, but all of them were destroyed easily.

The planetary defense grid was activated and opened fire. Not many of their shots hit the Minbari, and even the ones that did caused only minimal damage. A few of the Minbari ships turned to oppose them, while the remaining ones finished off the refugee transports. None of them had a chance. The transports were unarmed and incapable of jumping.

The empress watched with sadness as tens of thousands of innocent humans were slaughtered. She once thought the Minbari were a benevolent race, although somewhat mysterious; not anymore.

One by one, the planetary defense grid platforms were destroyed. One of the Minbari Sharlins fell to the constant onslaught, but they were more primitive than the humans, so it did little good.

"Your world will pay dearly for this crime." One of the captains sent a transmission to her. "For protecting these criminals, you will share their fate."

"For being willing to take in innocent humans that desire nothing more than to survive?" She replied in horror.

"There are no innocents among humans. For killing our beloved leader, every human man, woman, and child will perish! And now, so will yours; this I promise!" The Minbari cruisers formed jump gates and left, but the Empress knew it was only a matter of time before they would come back.

She remembered this from the Dilgar invasion, but the slaughter of sentient beings that could do nothing to defend themselves was not something that she ever thought she would see again. Much of their planetary defense grid was destroyed; what hope did they have of survival? She knew she had to muster up what defenses they still had.

X X X X X X X X X X

Sydney, Australia:

"All right, is everyone ready?" John Sheridan asked. True, he was of Earthforce and not of the army, but everyone with superior rank was either dead or wounded, so he was left in charge. "I don't think we have much time."

"Yeah, that would be putting it mildly." Michael Garibaldi quipped. "Damn boneheads; they aren't taking me prisoner." He hoisted up his slug thrower, ready to use it at a moment's notice. With their desperate situation, Earth had no time to build PPG's, and it turned out that slug throwers even had advantages. They did not set off alarms in Minbari bases the way plasma fire did.

"All right men, we've gotten reports of the Minbari coming this way!" Sheridan exclaimed. "Let's give them a warm welcome. Attacking them is stupid, foolish, and suicidal, so that's exactly what we're going to do."

"Wait a minute; we've moving forward. That'll get us killed!"

"If you were the enemy commander, would you expect us to counter-attack in our current state?"

"Well, no."

"Precisely; it's the last thing they'll expect. Just remember to save the last bullet for yourself." All of the men and women under his command were well aware of what the Minbari did to people they captured. While fighters from their religious castes generally treated them well, the warrior caste were vicious and sadistic. Sheridan still remembered seeing what was left of Steven Franklin when they got a hold of him; that image was going to stay with him for a long time.

None of them expected to live through this fight. They saw the Minbari warriors, easily outnumbering them 2-to-1, preparing to assault their makeshift position.

The humans slowly moved on either side of them, surrounding them. Sheridan stayed in front with his group, while Garibaldi moved to the left, attempting the flank. While technologically superior, the Minbari had little sense when it came to military tactics. They relied on superior technology and firepower to destroy them.

Before they could surrounded them, someone screamed and opened fire. "Oh, hell." Sheridan muttered. Things almost never went according to plan. "Fire at will."

The Minbari took cover wherever they could, but the humans still had the advantage. Several of them fell before they fired back. People screamed in agony. "All right, it's show time." Garibaldi said angrily through the radio, firing at anyone he could see.

Most of the shots failed to make their mark, since both sides were now behind cover. Sheridan threw a grenade into the Minbari horde; despite their armor, two of them were taken down, due to staying close together, making themselves a better target.

In spite of their advantages, the humans were slowly being forced back. It was next to impossible to penetrate Minbari armor with the weapons they had. "Damn it, this is not going well." Sheridan cursed, reloading his gun and firing.

"No kidding; any idea how we're going to get out of this?" Garibaldi asked. More people fell, wounded or dead, including a woman not 10 feet away from Sheridan. She was badly wounded, unable to get up.

"All right, we're going to have to retreat; tell them." Sheridan shook his head. This counter-attack was a giant gamble, and it looked like they had lost. "Garibaldi, move your men back; we'll provide some cover fire." He turned to the woman, bowing his head and shooting her. He felt guilty, but knew there was no other option. She wouldn't live, and Sheridan was not about to let her be captured by the Minbari.

Slowly, Garibaldi's forces pulled back, though a few continued to fight, sacrificing their lives to give their comrades time to escape. Sheridan ordered his forces to retreat back to their stronghold, throwing more grenades to buy them time.

Suddenly, a Minbari warrior showed up, slashing the throat of two soldiers before they could react. Sheridan fired, managing to wound him in the arm. The Minbari fired his own gun, vaporizing another soldier. Sheridan jumped on top of him, bowie knife in hand. Their armor protected them against slugs and PPG's, but had only limited effect against knives.

They struggled on the ground. Minbari were stronger than humans, but not only was Sheridan fighting for survival, he was full of hate. He knew what had happened to the transport his sister's family was on.

He saw another warrior out of the corner of his eye, but was unable to do anything. Fortunately, someone else shot the warrior in the head before he could kill Sheridan. He used that momentary distraction to plunge the knife through his throat. The Minbari Sheridan was struggling with seemed to take forever to die, and was still trying to kill him.

In a last act of spite, Sheridan's opponent picked up his weapon and shot him through the leg, causing enormous damage. He screamed in agony, falling to the ground. When his men tried to assist him, he yelled: "Fall Back; that's an order!"

X X X X X X X X X X

"In Valen's name, what were those humans thinking?" Sreta asked himself. He was the leader of that particular Platoon, and never thought the humans would actually attack in their current position. "Casualties?"

"18 dead, over 30 wounded." his adjutant replied. "Human losses are unknown, but we presume far higher."

"Presume nothing; we were caught completely by surprise." His men were exhausted from the months of fighting the humans. Despite being completely outmatched, they refused to give up, and however much he loathed admitting it, were better warriors than his own people. "Find out what losses they took."

"Of course; may I ask what our next move is?"

"For the moment, we will hold our position. We need reinforcements before making another assault on the city." Sreta still felt that they should simply use mass drivers and put and end to it completely. Even the most powerful shots from their war cruisers were not enough to kill every human in the cities. "How long will it be before resupply?"

"It will be at least one Earth day." Sreta cursed to himself. Their species found it nearly impossible to survive in this kind of climate. He had already lost warriors from heat stroke. Sooner or later, they will fall. They cannot win this fight.

A short time later, they were receiving reports that they were beginning to use Mass Drivers on Earth, in areas where the fighting was heaviest. Earth was slowly being destroyed, and Sreta looked forward to victory

X X X X X X X X X X

Geneva, Switzerland:

"I am glad to see you have satisfactorily recovered, Branmer." Delenn smiled, as they walked into the human building for negotiations.

"I am not completely recovered as of yet." Branmer replied. When they arrived on the planet, it turned out the Minbari were quite vulnerable to a human disease, which their intelligence told them was called Influenza. "Nonetheless, these talks must proceed. We have paid too high a price already."

The League of Non-Aligned Worlds were pleading with the Minbari to stop the war. The Abbai, Hyach, and Drazi had declared war and were mobilizing a fleet to assist Earth. True, their technology was far inferior to their own, but the Minbari were stretched to the breaking point and the few ships they had out there were being overwhelmed. Their economy was falling apart.

What stunned every interstellar race in the galaxy was that both the Narn and the Centauri were condemning the war, saying that continuing to assault the humans when they were trying to surrender was a "crime against sentience" Even the Vorlons were pressuring them to end it.

Since the beginning of the ground campaign, the Minbari had paid a very steep price. Warrior's deaths were now in the millions, and injuries were even worse. So many lines would now be ended because of the war.

The causalities were higher than even the most pessimistic estimates. True, the humans suffered far worse, but thanks to their New President, who had taken charge after most of their government officials were killed, they continued to fight.

Branmer shuddered internally at what he had seen. The humans fought long after any other race would have given up and despaired, and they used tactics that he had never imagined. He had watched several warriors die as a human child blew himself up. Such suicide attacks were responsible for many of their deaths.

Even the transports and war cruisers had taken a heavy toll. The humans had many of what they called nuclear weapons in reserve, and even one getting through was a disaster. It also made landing on the planet very hazardous. More than one transport had been destroyed by a hidden nuke.

To make matters even worse, some warriors had forgotten completely about honor. They tortured and killed humans simply because they had the power to do it. Not that the humans didn't do the same when they had the chance; there were many, many atrocities on both sides. Some clans had resorted to orbital bombardment with asteroids, which Minbari considered dishonorable. Earth was devastated by the Mass Drivers and plasma attacks, which sent huge amounts of dust into the atmosphere.

It would only make them that much weaker for the coming Shadow War, which is why both of them felt this war had to end. Delenn was the deciding vote on the Grey Council when they debated whether or not to use biological weapons created by Jha'dur and the Wind swords. The warrior Caste were all in favor of it, while the Religious Caste were against it. It ended in a 5-4 vote against using them.

Both of them walked into the room, meeting the Earth President. On the surface, he didn't seem like much. He was overweight, had a beard, and was around 45 years old. However, his voice inspired the humans to continue fighting even when it looked like all hope was lost.

"Have a seat." His deep voice commanded. Delenn and Branmer bowed lightly and sit in them. "Now how do we end this unprovoked war of yours?" Both had made progress in speaking the other's language and each had translators.

"Unprovoked!" Branmer shouted. "Your ships fired on us for no reason, killing our most beloved leader, second only to Valen."

"Really? We see it quite differently." William Grey informed the Minbari representative. "You people decided to launch a war of genocide because one of our commander reacted when you attacked him. What was he supposed to do when you opened your gun ports, preparing to fire?"

"That is the tradition of the warrior caste." Branmer informed the acting Earth President. "It is meant to symbolize strength and respect. You can see our weapons, and you know that we have nothing to hide."

"You led our ships into a trap; is it any wonder that they defended themselves?"

But neither of them responded, and were talking amongst themselves. The interpreter did not bother to translate. "Could it be possible?" Delenn asked. "That the humans attacked not because they're savages, but because they thought we were going to attack them?"

"I am not sure." Bramner answered. "If this is true, we started our Holy War because of a simple mistake. We will have to investigate this further." Among the Minbari, there was no such thing as honor among many of the warriors now. The Abbai homeworld was bombarded, killing tens of millions simply because they were willing to help human refugees. How can we now look at ourselves and honestly claim that we are a benevolent people? Dukhat would be horribly ashamed of what we have done in his name.

However, what they did not know was that Grey knew some of their language. He was far from fluent in it, but he picked up enough to become truly enraged. These damned Minbari launched a war of genocide because of a mistake. Grey knew better than to say anything, as that would reveal something he would rather keep to himself.

"We ask for your complete and unconditional surrender." Bramner ordered. "Earth and its inhabitants will be a Minbari colony from this point on."

"Not a chance." Grey answered immediately. "We're still quite capable of fighting, and we will not give up our sovereignty. Earth will be allowed to remain independent."

"I highly suggest you reconsider, Mr. Grey." Delenn warned, remembering that was the proper turn of respect among male humans. "We have a weapon that will wipe out every last one of your kind if you do not accept our terms." They did indeed have them, even though they voited against using them. Still, he didn't need to know that. If the war went on, humanity would be destroyed, even though the Minbari would pay an even higher price.

"How do we know you aren't lying to us?" Grey asked. "Scaring us into doing what you want."

"Minbari do not lie, President." Delenn glared. "Make such an accusation again and I will kill you on the spot."

"All right, we will come back to that at a later time." Bramner decided to let it slide; no point in making things worse than they are. "Another term: we want star killer released to our custody to face trial for war crimes."

"War crimes?" Grey shouted. "He was merely defending himself from your attack!"

"He lured the Black Star in with a fake distress signal and mined the asteroids." Bramner argued. "He did not face our ship with honor; he took it be surprise, and destroyed 2 other war cruisers that went in to investigate."

"What the hell do you know of honor?" Grey demanded. "You destroy ships no longer capable of fighting, even ones that are attempting to surrender. You took no prisoners in space, and the ones you caught on the ground you tortured and mutilated. Is that what you call honor?"

"Do not pretend your hands are clean." Delenn glared. Nonetheless, however much she hated to admit it, the humans had a point. During the ground campaigns of the war, the humans took prisoners, and they were not always treated badly. Some of them fought with honor. The warrior caste, on the other hand…she shied away from remembering that.

"Don't bother pretending to be a kind, benevolent race."

"Recriminations will get us nowhere." Bramner intervened. "We are here to try and stop this war that has claimed so many lives." The humans were furious over the destruction of their refugee ships, and to be honest with himself, Bramner agreed with them. Those ships were full of noncombatants, men, women, and children. There was no purpose whatsoever to wiping them out, save sheer hatred.

Over the next few days, negotiations continued. The terms for Earth were very harsh, even though they ultimately managed to hold onto their independence. They would be confined to their solar system, and allowed no diplomatic relations with any other power. Humans were to accept full responsibility for the war, pay the full cost of the war to help keep the Minbari economy alive and there would be no effort at reconstruction. Delenn argued against the last term, but the others in the Grey Council overruled her.

The Minbari would blockade them, destroying any ship attempting to enter or leave the solar system. When it came to Sheridan, they had reached a compromise. The warrior caste wanted his immediate death, while the Earth Government would not give up a man they considered to be a hero. Neroon challenged him to Denn'sha, knowing Sheridan could not possibly win. Sheridan, however, hit Neroon's pride, and challenged him to fight on his terms.

It was actually a simple fistfight. Even though Neroon was not skilled in this form of combat, he was overconfident which led to his defeat. Sheridan was told to kill him, but he refused to do so. Not out of any compassion; at this point, he felt nothing but hate for the Minbari; but because he wanted Neroon to live with the knowledge that he had been beaten by a human, and a crippled one at that.

"That was a shrewd move of yours, challenging him on your terms." Sinclair complimented when it was over. "Still, you better get yourself looked after."

"Yeah, well, I know I had a better shot fighting that way." Sheridan replied. He was lucky to survive the ground campaign, and would be walking with a limp for the rest of his life. "I dearly wanted to kill him, except that was what he wanted. Let him remember that he lives because of a human's mercy. With any luck, he'll commit suicide."

"Still, we have to rebuild our world and our lives." Sinclair shook his head. "I tried to participate on the Line, only I wasn't able to get into a fighter. It wouldn't have made any difference, but still…I feel guilty about it."

"Unfortunately, there are few people on Earth who haven't lost a loved one or friend." Sheridan bowed his head. "My sister and her family were on one of the refugee ships they destroyed. Why? There was no reason to kill them! They were unarmed, they were no threat; what kind of aliens are they?"

"The war had made that very clear. Evil, but very advanced and very dangerous. We were confident we could beat anyone after we fought the Diglar. They proved us wrong. It's going to take many years to rebuild Earth to even a fraction of what it once was."

"I know that, but I want revenge; so do many others I've spoken too. At least Anna is alive. It was nice seeing you on better terms, Sinclair."

"You too, Captain Sheridan. I wish you the best in rebuilding your life." Sinclair hated the Minbari as well, but unlike Sheridan, was not eager to fight them again, feeling that they needed to rebuild Earth before anything else.

The Minbari chose the terms well, ensuring their dominance of Earth and the assurance that no other alien races would try to intervene. However, the war was a dark part of their history, something they wanted to pretend never happened. In their heart, they knew what they had done, but could not speak of it out of shame. In all their planning to ensure Earth would never be a threat again, there was only one thing they overlooked.

They knew nothing of human history.

Well, hope that was a good beginning. I'm curious: do any of the terms sound familiar to you?