The Babylon Effect

Authors Note: Well here we go, here's the first chapter of my Babylon Five/Mass Effect fusion fic, its been really challenging to merge the realities and get this far so please be kind.

Chapter One

TSV Prometheus

12th May 2247

Captain Michael Jankowski resisted the impulse to sigh in relief and to rub his eyes to relieve non-existent strain as he finished filling in his latest piece of electronic paperwork and saved it for later transmission back to base. His relief however was soon shattered and a groan of annoyance drawn from his lips as the ships VI automatically flashed up another piece for his attention.

Not for the first time he mused that the recruiters who'd persuaded him to join the Alliance Navy all those years ago had not been entirely honest with him. Yeah serving in the Alliance Navy was an adventure – he'd seen things, done things and been to places that he wouldn't have otherwise gone to or been able to go to if he hadn't joined the navy. In that regard the recruiters hadn't lied, but what they had conveniently forgotten to mention was the amount of paperwork – especially bureaucratic paperwork – that you had to put up with, especially when you became the commanding officer of a starship.

To distract himself from the bureaucratic make work on his holoscreen he thought about his command and his mission for a few moments. The Prometheus was a top-of-the-line Sacramento-class heavy cruiser, bristling with all the latest weapons systems and at just over eight hundred metres long the two year old vessel was the pride of the 64th Border Patrol Flotilla. It was a sign of that pride that she'd been chosen to lead the task force sent out to scout the Minbari border and determine if they were a threat to the Alliance or not.

For this mission Prometheus was not alone. Accompanying and supporting her were five other ships in the form of two Hades-class destroyers and three Euphrates-class attack frigates – all powerful vessels in their own right though each had firepower that was only a fraction of what the Prometheus was capable of. All in all the task force was an intimidating array of power, one that would prove daunting to anyone with hostile intent who came in contact with it. Even the Batarians would think at least twice before risking a confrontation with six top-of-the-line Terran warships.

Personally though Jankowski thought that sending this much firepower to the Minbari border was more than a touch of overkill. After all the handful of Minbari vessels that had been detected scouting out the edges of Terran space – at least the regions of space they claimed on this side of the Charon Relay – had not taken any hostile actions, even if they had ignored all hails and retreated the moment Terran ships got to close to them. In his opinion it would have made more sense to have sent the Prometheus to the border alone – he was after all confident that she had more than enough firepower to take whatever the Minbari could throw at her and pay it back in kind should they prove hostile.

Alliance Command however seemed to believe otherwise 'else they wouldn't be sending so many ships to investigate the enigmatic aliens. Either that or they're sending the other ships along as watch dogs, he thought well aware of the fact that there were some admirals in Alliance Command who didn't like or trust him – who thought he'd gotten his position due to his families powerful political connections and not because of any inherent ability to command. He wouldn't put it past them to send along watch dogs – so they could come down on him like a hoard of rampaging Krogan if he made a mistake.

The bleep of the comm. jolted him out of his thoughts of his political enemies in Alliance Command. With a single quick movement he tapped a flashing holographic button on his consoles haptic interface.

"Yes?" he asked.

"We're approaching the Minbari border captain. You asked to be notified," his new XO Commander Alan Chaffin responded from the bridge. The younger man had not been his first choice to fill the place left by his previous XO – for some odd reason his first choice John Sheridan had preferred to stay with that old fool Sterns on the old Sheffield-class Lexington – but he was tolerable and was certainly good at his job. If only he weren't a freak then things would be perfect, he thought with a mental sigh knowing Chaffin was a biotic albeit not a particularly strong one. He'd never been able to understand biotics and what they could do, biotics and telepaths were just a bit to freaky for his tastes.

"Very good, commander," he answered "have all ships slow to sublight speeds and prepare to commence long range scans of the Minbari border. I will be right up."

"Aye sir," Chaffin acknowledged before signing off.

For his part Jankowski sighed and looked back at his terminal and the still waiting open file. A file which appeared to be general systems status report from the frigate Gorgon – as fleet commander it was his job to read such reports. He took great pleasure in closing the unread report and shutting off the terminal before getting up and leaving for the bridge.

It was a decision he would live to regret.

Space momentarily rippled slightly as though a wave of heat was momentarily passing across a section of it. In time with the ripple six ships travelling in a standard inverted V formation seemed to materialise from nowhere. Purplish-blue light momentarily rippled around the ships as their mass effect FTL drive cores powered down to sublight running mode.

In unison the six sleek greyish-white shapes of the Prometheus task group turned several degrees to port before firing their main thrusters once again and beginning a slow creep towards Minbari space. As they approached the imaginary line in space a variety of scanners reached out and began probing the area ahead and around them as they began the thorough scans that had been ordered by Alliance Command.

Five Minutes Later

Commander Alan Chaffin frowned slightly at his stations sensor display. Long range scans were picking up two large silhouettes at the edge of their range – they were also picking up a dark energy flux from both silhouettes that looked downright strange. Certainly it wasn't like anything in their experience or in the Citadel Council's experience either.

"Captain we're picking up two silhouettes at edge of scanner range," he reported glancing over his shoulder at Jankowski. "Silhouettes are also emitting a dark energy flux."

"What kind of flux," Jankowski asked. "And I though this area was supposedly well outside Minbari beacon transfer points."

"I don't know sir the computer doesn't recognise it at this range," Alan replied. "And yes sir it is, unless the Centauri information was incorrect."

"Wouldn't be the first time that happened," Jankowski commented with a snort. "Any sign that the Minbari are engaged in a search pattern? Maybe they found out were coming and are looking for us."

"Negative sir, the contacts are holding steady on a bearing of zero two five mark one zero four. We're getting some more sensor returns sir. Scanners confirm targets are unknown vessels – reading two dreadnought-sized vessels and several support ships. From the size I'd say they're fighters or gunships."

"Show me," Jankowski ordered looking at the main holographic display screen at the front of the bridge as it came to life showing a number of flickering, wire frame images that refused to stay fully in focus. Additional information appeared on the screen showing the dark energy flux being generated by the two larger vessels. "This is all we have so far?"

"Yes sir most of our sensor beams are being disrupted. They maybe using some sort of electronic stealth system to block the majority of our scans."

"Any sign they've detected us?"

"Negative sir."

"Hmm," Jankowski muttered thoughtfully before allowing a small grin to show on his face. He had an opportunity here to show those at Alliance Command who didn't like him that he deserved to be here, deserved to command Prometheus. He knew what he was thinking about wasn't technically in his orders but he doubted anyone would complain if what he planned worked as he believed it would.

"Move us in closer," he ordered after a moment.

"Sir?" Chaffin questioned looking at his commanding officer in surprise.

"I said move us in closer commander," Jankowski repeated. "Is something wrong with your hearing?"

"No sir its just our orders are to avoid…"

"Our orders are to bring back information on the Minbari and that's just what we are going to do, commander," Jankowski interrupted before his second could finish. "What we have here looks like a border patrol group, if we can get closer and get a profile on some Minbari warships command will be very pleased and will hand out medals by the bucket. We handled the Turians when they attacked us at Shanxi, we handled the Dilgar I'm sure we can handle a few stray Minbari ships. Now move us in closer."

Chaffin scowled he didn't like this one bit. Something about this just felt wrong but he couldn't put his finger on what it was that felt so bad about it. Noticing Jankowski staring at him and unwilling to be relieved of duty for disobedience he sighed to himself.

"Aye sir," he said at last and tapped the holographic keys relaying the order to the helmsman and to the other ships of the task force.

"Relax commander nothing is going to happen," Jankowski said confidently leaning back in his chair.

"Yes sir."

Minbari War Cruiser Valen'tha

That Same Time

Satai Delenn was sure that she was still somewhat numb as she arrived in her spacious quarters aboard the heavily modified Shagotti-class war cruiser that served as the Grey Council's home amid the great sea of stars. As calmly as she could she slowly slipped off the obscuring grey hoods of the station she had formally been inducted into twenty minutes earlier before picking up a lighter and pointing it at her meditation candles before the triluminary shrine on the wall. A slim line of light leapt from the device – touching the wick of the first candle immediately lightning it. She repeated the process with the other two candles before putting the lighter down and preparing to begin a meditation on the day's events.

A soft knock at her door caught her attention and she looked over to see Dukhat himself standing in the doorway and a small smile graced her face at the sight of her mentor and sponsor. If it hadn't been for Dukhat taking her under his wing she wouldn't be in the position she was now as one of the youngest in history to become a member of the Grey Council – the great institution set up by Valen himself to end all the inter-caste warfare that had so ravaged Minbar in the time before the great leader came.

"I was just on my way to sleep," Dukhat explained as he stepped into the room. "I wanted to see how you were doing."

"I'm fine thanks to you," Delenn replied with a warm smile, "everything I am, everything I will ever be I owe to you."

"I'm not so sure about that," Dukhat answered looking at his protégé calmly, wondering if he should tell her what he knew of the great destiny that seemed to be before her as he was sure she was the one Valen had hinted at in some of his last prophecies before he went to the sea. "You would have become a member of the council eventually, Delenn. I knew that the moment I first met you."

Delenn blinked and wasn't sure how to respond to her mentors words. So she changed the topic with easy skill to something from the ceremony that had been bothering her ever since it had happened.

"Master if I may," she said. "I was thinking of the triluminary when I touched it the triluminary glowed. From your expression I guess it hasn't done that before."

"I will answer that question in a moment. But first tell me what do you know about the triluminaries, Delenn?"

"Only that they are our most holy relics, gifts from Valen himself."

Dukhat nodded, he'd expected that answer as it was one every Minbari no matter the caste knew but it was only part of the truth of the triluminary. "The triluminaries come from a time far into our past," he confirmed, "but there is also a rumour that they came from a time far into our future. The fact that one reacted to you in the way that it did merely confirmed something that I have suspected for quite sometime."

Delenn frowned and was about to ask the council's leader what he meant by that when a trilling alarm began to sound throughout the Valen'tha. Delenn's eyes widened as she recognised the alarm from drills as a call for all personnel to assume their stations. It was one level below a full blown battle alert and indicated the something had happened, something that required the crew to gather to deal with it.

"Strange," Dukhat commented frowning. "Come we should go to the Council chambers."

With that Dukhat turned and left the room, Delenn herself took a moment to blow out her candles before putting up her hood and following him. As protocol demanded she moved slowly through the corridors of the Valen'tha even as around her worker, warrior and religious class crewmembers scrambled at attend their duty stations. Through all the controlled chaos she moved like a grey ghost and with a calmness that she didn't really feel but put on for the sake of the crew as members of the Grey Council could never been seen to be in a hurry to get anywhere.

Beneath her hood Delenn was deep in thought wondering what exactly was happening. She had a feeling that it was something truly momentous, something that was going to have a profound affect on the Minbari as a people. What that something was she had no idea but she just knew that something was about to happen – though whether it be good or ill she couldn't say.

She was so deep in thought that she almost didn't notice that she'd arrived in the tactical centre that doubled as the Grey Council's chambers only a few paces behind Dukhat. She did notice however that the holographic display was active making it seem like the Council was standing in the void of space.

"What is it," Dukhat asked firmly as Delenn moved to her place among the other two religious caste members.

"We detected these alien ships approaching our space," Satai Morann of the warrior caste replied moving aside slightly so Dukhat and the rest of the Council could see the interlopers clearly.

Six alien vessels hung there in the great void of space. They were sleek ships, elongated delta shapes that hinted a great speed and contained power. The hulls were a strange greyish-white colour almost like the colour of bone with some blue and red highlights here and there. Strange markings adorned the hulls. And though even the largest was considerable smaller than the Valen'tha, they were obviously warships going on the very visible weapons arrays that they mounted. Delenn was stunned as she saw them, she recognised them from Anla'shok reports she'd read.

"I've never seen ships or markings like those before," Dukhat commented moving a little closer to examine the ships more closely, "who are they?"

"I believe they are the Terrans," Delenn replied and explained as Dukhat turned to look at her. "I have been investigating them on my own. The design of these six warships matches those mentioned in the reports forwarded to me by the Anla'shok."

Dukhat stiffened as Delenn spoke. The Vorlons in his sanctum had spoken to him extensively about the humans or Terrans as they were officially called. They had told him in no uncertain terms that they were essential for the coming Great War against the Shadows, that the Minbari would have to unite with them or all would be destroyed. He'd been so motivated by the Vorlons counsel that he'd even brought the issue up of contacting them but the Council – smug in the arrogance and complacency that had settled like an all smothering shroud on their people – had ultimately voted against it.

Now it appeared the universe had taken the matter out of the Council's hands.

"We are moving to intercept them before they get across the border. They have tried to contact us," Morann continued, "but we do not understand their language. As is our custom we are approaching with gun ports open."

Dukhat whirled towards the warrior in alarm. "By whose order," he demanded knowing that approaching unknown alien vessels with weapons displayed could easily be interpreted as a threat.

"Master that is the tradition of the warrior caste," Morann explained with an inward frown, he could see that Dukhat was worried by it but he couldn't understand why, "a gesture of strength and respect. They can see our weapons and see that we approach them open handed."

"Honoured Satai's we're picking up massive power fluctuations on one of the alien ships," a voice reported from the Valen'tha's bridge.

Dukhat's eyes widened and he looked back at the holographic in time to see one of the smaller Terran ships suddenly drop out of formation with its engines and running lights flickering. After a moment a jet of white-hot plasma crackling with blue electromagnetic arcs abruptly shot out of somewhere near the ships stern – pushing the vessel to starboard with the inertia of the plasma jet. Smaller control thrusters abruptly glowed blue as they engaged to compensate for the sudden wayward thrust.

Delenn also watched the display in concern as while she wasn't a worker she knew a jet of plasma like that could only be triggered by an emergency shutdown of a fusion power plant to prevent the plasma escaping containment and burning through reactor housing – an event that would be catastrophic for any ship. Minbari cruisers had similar emergency plasma venting procedures for the event of something going wrong with the fusion reactors that they used to supplement the power output of the main quantum gravitic reactor. Abruptly something else on the display caught her attention and she focused on it, only for her eyes to widen in horror at what she saw.

"Master look," she exclaimed pointing at the section of the display in question. Dukhat followed her gaze and saw three small ships approaching, ships that every Minbari was uncomfortably familiar with, ships that war cruisers had standing orders to destroy on sight.

"Soul Hunters," he growled.

"Soul Hunters come only when there is great death," Delenn reminded him grimly.

Stiffening again this time in horror as he realised what was about to happen Dukhat whirled on Morann again. "Close the gun ports," he ordered hoping against hope to prevent a violent and needless clash between them and the Terrans. Morann opened his mouth to respond but before any sound could emerge there came a deep, rumbling boom and the ship rocked violently knocking everyone in the council chamber off their feet.

A second blast followed a moment later, violently shaking the ship again; this time the blast was followed by deeper rumbles as secondary explosions occurred on board. Around the stunned Grey Council the holographic display flickered and vanished as the shockwave of a third blast rippled through the ship.

"Delenn do you know the Terran language," Dukhat asked as he struggled to pick himself up off the shaking deck.

"I do master," Delenn replied awkwardly getting to her feet a moment before a forth blast slammed into the ship making the whole cruiser groan and shake violently with the shockwave. Why aren't our stealth systems protecting us, she thought as the sounds of additional secondary explosions rippled through the ship but then realised that at this close a range the Terrans could use visual targeting which was unaffected by the stealth systems which could only block electronic sensors not the good old mark one eyeball.

"Good come with me," Dukhat answered knowing they needed to stop this before it went any further. Without waiting for Delenn to respond he hurried out of the chamber and emerged into a scene of total chaos as the corridor was thick with smoke from the fires that were no doubt burning in many parts of the ship. Debris from a blown out bulkhead littered the deck and from all around he could hear the screams of wounded, the wail of alarms, shouted orders and the sounds of panic.

He took a moment to glance back to see that Delenn was indeed behind him. "This way we must hurry," he said moving into the chaotic scene and heading for the bridge. Delenn followed closely, carefully picking her way across the debris strewn deck and doing her best to ignore the fact that around her a great many of her fellow Minbari were dead or injured.

The two of them had only got a handful of metres from the Council Chamber when a fifth blast slammed into the ship and the Valen'tha shook so violently that they were both pitched to the floor. Unlike with the last blast the shaking didn't immediately ease instead it continued and from all around Delenn heard the shriek of metal bending and tearing under some tremendously powerful force. From overhead there came a series of snapping sounds and she shrieked in fear and surprise as a chunk of shattered conduit insulation impacted and bounced off her legs with stinging force. She reflexively started to curl into a ball to protect herself from the rain of debris. Faintly she heard a cry of pain from Dukhat but she dare not move as the ship continued shaking and debris continued to fall around her.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity the shaking and rain of debris stopped and Delenn uncurled herself before looking over at Dukhat. She gasped in horror at what she saw and crawled over to where her mentor lay pinned under fallen metal sheeting, shattered conduits and a broken support girder. Dukhat's eyes were closed and blood was trickling from the side of his mouth – a sure sign of internal injuries.

With strength she didn't know she had Delenn started shovelling the debris off Dukhat with her bare hands. "Help me, somebody help me," she screamed into the chaos but no one heard her as she continued to move the debris off Dukhat, her mentors eyes opened and he gasped. Delenn stopped what she was doing and looked down at her master to see his eyes clouded with pain and the certainty of death.

"Delenn," Dukhat gasped weakly ignoring the stabbing pain in his chest and abdomen. He was dying he could feel it and he accepted it. But first he needed Delenn to know, needed her to understand and stop there people going to war with the Terrans over his death. A war that would only benefit the returning Shadows. "There was… another reason for your… selection," he broke off as agony stabbed through his chest. "Your heritage you are a child of Valen," his voice dropped to such a weak whisper that Delenn couldn't hear the last part of his statement over the screaming of alarms and the ongoing rumbles of internal explosions.

Leaning in Delenn tried to hear what her mentor was saying to her, but all she heard was a deathly gurgling sound as Dukhat drowned in his own blood. His body shuddered once then went limp as the life light fled his eyes…

… and Delenn howled in a voice that she didn't recognise as her own as it contained such pain, grief and anger. It wasn't the cry of someone who had just lost a very close and dear friend; it wasn't even the cry of someone who had lost someone who was deeply loved like a second father. It was the cry of a lost soul.

TSV Prometheus

Four Minutes Earlier

Alan Chaffin frowned in concern when the scanner readouts of the two Minbari dreadnoughts and the small group of ships around them changed. The Minbari ships were slowing down and turning, coming onto a heading that would intercept the task force in the neutral space just before the border.

"Sir alien vessels have changed course," he reported looking over at Jankowski. "There now moving towards us on an intercept course they must have seen us. Intercept in one minute thirty seconds."

"Okay that's it lets not push our luck," Jankowski replied hoping command would be happy with the information there sensors had been able to gather about the Minbari vessels. It wasn't much just a basic and sketchy silhouette and a dark energy flux that seemed to come from somewhere inside the vessel. "Commander contact all ships. Tell them to come about and prepare to jump to FTL speeds."

Alan nodded and was about to carry out the order when an alert flashed up on his screen. "We're being aggressively scanned by the Minbari," he reported before movements on the surface of the two capital ships caught his attention. "Sir alien ships have opened gun ports."

"Are they preparing to fire," Jankowski asked urgently.

"I can't tell sir," Alan replied. "Alien scanners are extremely powerful I can't get clear readings on their tactical systems."

"We can't take any chances, sound battle stations. Communications contact the Minbari tell them 'we mean no harm'," Jankowski ordered as alarms began to wail throughout the ship, sending crew scrambling out of there bunks, out of head, mess halls and recreational rooms to their combat stations. "Commander relay the order to withdraw to the other ships."

"Aye sir."

"Captain urgent communication from the Gorgon," the young woman at communications called out alarm in her voice, "Captain Thomas reports that they're experiencing massive technical failure with their number two fusion generator and they are initiating an emergency plasma vent."

Jankowski's eyes widened and he looked at the main holoscreen – in time to see a brilliant spear of plasma erupt from the starboard emergency vents of the stricken destroyer as powerful magnetic fields evacuated the contents of the failing generators reaction chamber to space before the containment fields failed and the plasma burned through to flash ignite atmosphere in the engineering compartments. Hazy blue ions erupted into space as the stricken frigates manoeuvring thrusters engaged to counter the wayward thrust of the plasma venting.

How the hell did that happen, he thought wondering what had gone wrong on the frigate to cause the generator to malfunction to the point where an emergency scram and plasma vent had to be carried out? After a moment his eyes narrowed in suspicion, it couldn't be a coincidence that the problem on the Gorgon had occurred just after being scanned by the Minbari. The mysterious aliens could have caused the plasma overload with somekind of weapon, something they couldn't see. Something that the entire task force would be vulnerable to should the Minbari use the weapon again.

"There not getting away with causing that," he said aloud.

"Sir," Chaffin asked looking over at his commanding officer.

"The Minbari they're not getting away with causing the plasma overload on the Gorgon," he said before tapping one of the small controls on the arm of his chair. "All ships this is fleet command open fire on the Minbari. I repeat open fire."

"But sir…." Chaffin started to counsel against guessing that the captain hadn't had chance to read this mornings systems status report from the Gorgon, a report that had indicated they were experiencing problems with the cooling systems of the number two fusion generator. The only influence the Minbari could have had on the system would be the electromagnetic spikes of their scanners causing the cooling systems to fail – which would have led to a sharp rise in core temperature and an emergency scram followed by a plasma vent to cool it down till repairs could be made.

"No buts commander," Jankowski said harshly as a faint shudder of recoil ran through the ship as the cruisers dual main mass accelerators and her plasma cannons opened fire on the Minbari at point blank range. "The Minbari attacked the Gorgon and now they're going to pay for it."

"But the Minbari didn't attack sir," Chaffin replied as the holoscreen showed the other ships of the task force following there lead and opened fire on the Minbari with every weapon they had.

"What do you mean," Jankowski asked looking over at his second.

"It was in the systems status report from the Gorgon this morning," Chaffin informed him. "They were experiencing problems with the cooling system for the number two fusion generator. The only influence the Minbari could have had would be the enhanced EM emissions from their scanners – it could have easily knocked the already faulty system off line."

"Are you saying it was an accident," Jankowski asked going pale as he realised what his first officer was saying. He hadn't read the system status report from the Gorgon this morning before coming to the bridge he'd just closed it so he'd been completely unaware of the problem with the generator.

"Yes sir."

Dear God what have I done, Jankowski thought before hurriedly tapping his controls again. "Fleet command to all ships hold your fire, repeat hold your fire," he ordered. "Status of the Minbari?"

Chaffin looked back at his screen and groaned at what he saw. The electronic interference from the cruisers stealth systems had vanished and the scanners were giving back clear readings, and what they showed was not encouraging.

"There escorting fighters have been destroyed. Both capital ships have taken multiple direct mass accelerator and plasma strikes sir," he reported. "I'm also picking up a dark energy residue on the larger of the two, my guess is they took one possibly two direct hits with disruptor torpedoes. Both ships are heavily damaged, reading massive power failures and multiple hull breaches. They're dead in the water and are sending out distress calls."

"Jesus," Jankowski breathed in horror though at the same time he was impressed that the Minbari capital ships were still intact after a point blank barrage from the main weapons of six Terran warships. Few ships could take that kind of firepower and survive for more than a few seconds. Even Asari dreadnoughts would struggle to withstand that kind of a beating if caught by surprise as the Minbari had been and a Turian dreadnought – even with full kinetic shields – would have been torn to pieces by the assault. It was a testament to the engineering skills of the Minbari that those two ships hadn't been blasted to scrap metal.

"Send a message to the Minbari," he ordered after a moment. "Explain to them what happened and apologise before asking do they require assistance. Send the message in Centauri."

"Aye sir," communications replied a moment before the sensors screamed a warning.

"Jump points forming," Chaffin called out. "Four more Minbari dreadnoughts approaching, we're being targeted."

"Hail them in Centauri," Jankowski ordered looking at the communications officer. "Tell them what happened."

"Aye sir," communications replied a millisecond before thick green particle beams erupted from the four newly arrived ships and smashed into both the Gorgon and the Medusa, instantly both frigates crumpled and disintegrated into fireballs as the neutron beams passed through their kinetic shields like they weren't there to slice the thinly armoured ships apart.

"Any response from the Minbari," Jankowski asked.

"Negative sir they're ignoring us."

"Shit. All ships withdraw immediately get us out of here. Weapons fire torpedoes at the new ships to cover our retreat."

"Aye sir."

In unison the four surviving Terran warships began to turn about away from the two listing Minbari ships and the four fully armed and vengeful warships that had answered their distress calls. A spread of glowing blue disruptor torpedoes erupted from the Prometheus and streaked towards the new ships.

The four Sharlin-class war cruisers immediately began firing their fusion beam cannons at the incoming torpedoes picking them off one by one. Despite the storm of defensive fire ten torpedoes broke through only for nine to fly wide, tracking systems thrown off by the Minbari stealth systems.

The tenth torpedo smashed into the starboard primary weapons fin of the war cruiser Trigati and detonated sending the purple-blue glow of rapidly shifting mass effect fields over the fin. Polycrystalline armour attacked at the molecular level by the shifting fields of dark energy cracked and splintered sending shards spinning into space. One of the fins dual fusion beam cannons exploded as the shifting fields tore apart its internal mechanisms just as the beam was about to fie – the blast tore apart the top front third of the fin only to be followed by an even larger explosion as rupturing power conduits tore apart the entire front third of the fin. The Trigati visibly lurched to starboard with the impact, the neutron and fusion beams from its port and main forward batteries going wide as a result missing the withdrawing Terran ships by a hundreds of metres.

Then the Terran ships glowed blue for a moment then shot forward leaving behind fading blue trails as they're tore away from the Minbari at FTL speed.

Minbari War Cruiser Trigati

Shai Alyt Sineval groaned as he picked himself up off the floor of the bridge where he'd been flung when the alien torpedo had struck the side of the ship.

"What was that," he demanded.

"Shai Alyt the alien torpedo created somekind of spatial distortion as it detonated against our primary starboard weapons fin," one the warriors tasked with damage control reported, "the front third of the fin is completely gone. We have electrical fires in starboard sections ten, eleven and twelve on deck ten. The blast must have overwhelmed the circuit breakers and blown out the power lines to the fin. Fire control crews responding."

"Keep me informed."

"Yes, Shai Alyt."

"Where are the enemy ships? Have we destroyed them already," Sineval asked noticing that the cruiser was no longer firing, neither were the other three who'd raced to the aid of the stricken Valen'tha and Ingata after the unprovoked attack.

"They've disappeared Shai Alyt," sensors reported. "According to our scans they accelerated to trans-light velocities without opening a jump point into hyperspace."

"Faster than light in normal space? How in Valen's name is that possible?" Sineval asked incredulous though he was a warrior not a scientist he knew that faster than light travel in normal space was supposed to be impossible, no one known to the Minbari, not even the Vorlons had shown the ability to travel at FTL speeds in normal space.

"Unknown Shai Alyt."

"It will give the scientists something to think about at least," Sineval said. "Prepare to send aide parties over to the Valen'tha and the Ingata."

"Yes Shai Alyt."

"Shai Alyt we're detecting three Soul Hunter ships on approach to the Valen'tha," sensors called out.

"Destroy them."

Minbari War Cruiser Valen'tha

That Same Time

Delenn sobbed hysterically as she cradled Dukhat's lifeless body in her arms. She couldn't believe that the universe had allowed this to happen, had allowed what had been the happiest day of her life so far to become marred with Dukhat's death, no his murder.

"Delenn," a familiar voice called out, Delenn looked up to see Satai Coplann approaching only to stop dead in his tracks when he caught sight of Dukhat's lifeless body. A surge of grief and rage gripped him and it was only through sheer force of will that he didn't collapse to his knees and break into alternative tears of grief and cries of rage. Through the same force of will he spoke the message he'd been tasked by the rest of the Council to relay to Delenn and Dukhat – though the latter was now far beyond hearing.

"Delenn we need to strike back but the Council is divided," he explained. "Do we attempt to find the Terran base and take revenge, or do we wait and try to find out what exactly happened here. What led to these events and Dukhat's death. Yours is the deciding vote Delenn."

Delenn looked down at her mentor's lifeless body and felt only rage, rage at the Terrans for causing his death and a desire for revenge, for blood. The rational part of her mind screamed at her to stop and think and remember that these events had been caused by misunderstandings on both sides but for the first time in her life she ignored rationality. All she wanted now was vengeance.

"He was the best of us," she said softly, "they struck without provocation, there was no reason. Animals, brutal barbarians," she stood up and advanced towards Coplann her face a mask of pain and rage, "they deserve no mercy. Strike them down, follow them to their base and kill all of them, all of them. No mercy."

Coplann nodded and left to relay both the news of Dukhat's death and Delenn's vote to the rest of the Grey Council. Delenn for her part stood there and struggled to pull herself back together, there would be time to grief for Dukhat later. Right now she needed to focus and she embraced her rage to allow her to do that. She knew that avenging Dukhat would be costly but it had to be done, justice demanded it. There was much to prepare, much to organise to secure that justice.

For the first time in a thousand years the Minbari were going to go to war.