Inoeth: The Shadows and Vorlons are gone but there are a few legacies left. The Shadow vessels are on Mars but these ships will leave as soon as some poor Earther touches it. Once discovered the other vessels will leave on an automated signal, or they will self-destruct. I haven't forgotten Psi-Corps in the least as you will see.
SpecH82: Humanity is a forgiving but also very cruel species. But we do desire peace if we can survive it. But Humanity id prideful and at this time in history, Earthforce (Earth Alliance) was as prideful as they came. But they were really also weak, something that is about to be shown both here and in AUOC. But they will improve.
The Sithspawn: Thanks! And I am looking forward for your next update on your AUoC series. I want to see how the Scarrans respond to the Feds. Also Grayza may be feeling terrified but her superiors should be crazed and more than willing to try to hunt down and destroy the Enterprise and Ambassador no matter the cost. But we'll see.
On with this story:
H'yllenn, member of the Minbari Castine clan of the Worker's Caste, officer on deck of the command and control center in charge of space traffic around the huge still-to-be-finished space station they had so inappropriately named Babylon Five, discovered that he had that rare blessing of a few minutes of free time between incoming ships. A Centauri transport along with two Narn freighters had arrived without incident. Just to make sure there were no incidents, he made sure that the recent enemies ships were parked as far as he could away from one another, not that he really worried about them too much. It wasn't for him to know (but he, like everyone else, did), however he'd heard how Dukhat had come down upon both the Centauri emperor and Narn leadership like the wrath of Valen, and not surprisingly they had listened. This wasn't the time for local bickering when there were real enemies out there and Dukhat was taking no chances. The five Minbari war cruisers patrolling the station helped served to keep trouble to a minimum. Plus, everyone in the local systems were concerned about the attacks on everyone by the so-called Scarran creatures that dared to attack Dukhat's ship.
He treasured these moments of peace as much as he treasured is job. Unlike many Minbari, he enjoyed meeting and interacting with other non-Minbari species and this responsibility presented the perfect opportunity to do so. Many in his family quietly disapproved but his parents accepted it and that was all that really mattered. The Human leadership that had arrived earlier was a source of endless fascination to him. They were strange and represented an alien culture totally different from anything he'd ever experienced. Their physical appearance suggested that they were related to Centauri at first glance but that's where the similarity vanished into the void. If nothing else the Humans were a bit more dignified.
Many of his subordinates were curious why the numbers of alien transports had increased so significantly in the last two days. He was shocked to see the Wandering Star arrive late last night carrying several leaders he'd only seen in images. Delenn had arrived as well as Branmer. Dukhat was present and with the addition of these other two, it was hard to keep his mind to wander exactly what was going on, rumors aside.
When he was informed (by Shakiri no less!) what was to happen, H'yllenn visibly paled. The Scarrans were coming here to this station under a flag of truce within a few hours? Impossible! Their actions demanded nothing less than their total extermination. Obviously his initial rage was noted by Shakiri who simultaneously praised and rebuked him. The worker calmed down quickly, after all he was there to serve, not dictate policy. That was what their leaders were for. But it did explain why the Gray Council was on edge.
A Minbari cold-storage transport had just entered the station when the alert signal pierced the normally quiet control center. The lone Human traffic controller in the room jumped almost causing the Minbari officer to sigh. Why the Human was assigned here in the first place was a mystery to him. Associating with them was one thing but working with them an entirely different matter. They were somewhat chaotic, always asking questions when being told what to do should have been enough.
Traffic officer Yelldell, detecting the ship on her screen was the first to inform the crew of the arrival. H'yllenn immediately demanded position, speed, and other relevant data and as she gave details he stifled a smile. Her voice was so melodic that he felt his desire to perhaps talk to her outside of work rearing its ugly head. She was a distraction that he could joyfully embrace. However now the time to do one's duty and it was a serious duty at that.
"We have three Scarran warships… confirmed they are Scarran ships arriving in Babylon space. Estimated time seven minutes, twelve seconds."
"Confirmed," said Linda Gray, the one Human controller of the group. "No jump point detected; repeat, no jump point detected. Transition into normal space is unknown."
The Minbari turned towards Linda in surprise. The sensors indicated a burst of exotic particles including tachyons just before the three ships appeared. By now long-distance imagers could see the ship quite clearly. They were shaped in combinations of dark-colored rectangles and cubes, quite ugly, but very intimidating to the younger races. All three were the length of Minbari Sharlins.
"Open a channel," H'yllenn growled. Just looking at the Scarran ships infuriated him.
"You have entered Babylon Five space. Identify yourself and your purpose for being here," he snapped. His anger was getting the better of him and he forced himself to calm down.
"I am Rylack, ambassador to the Scarran Empire," hissed a voice cover the comms. "I am here to discuss the events of the recent past to rectify and the differences in order to avoid a war between our people."
H'yllenn answered quickly and professionally despite his feelings. "Coordinates are being transferred for your assigned parking station. Contact us when you compete the maneuver and we will transmit the coordinates for your shuttle to enter the station." Belatedly, he added, "and welcome to Babylon Five."
There was no response other than the click of the transmitter being abruptly turned off.
The first thought that came to Santiago's mind when he saw the first Scarran enter the room was' intimidating' and that didn't describe what he was feeling completely. He was barely five foot nine, partially bald and sporting a potbelly that no amount of exercise was going to fix unless he stopped drinking beer for eternity. Next to him stood the reserved–looking Ambassador David Sheridan, Ambassador Calir, and Draal representing the Minbari. Both of them acted like this was a walk in the park for them. Standing together, all of them were about the same height although Santiago was the shortest of the four present. Several guards and a representative of the Psicorps stood nearby.
In contrast, the grayish, six-foot six monster lizard-like alien looked like he could turn anyone of them into paste without half trying. The Scarran had no hair, but an elaborate head crest and teeth that looked like they could take a bite out of a tyrannosaur. The facial features were sharp but almost – in a vague sort of way – Humanoid. The creature's claws were elongated and sharp but that was nothing compared to the fierce intelligence in its eyes. By contrast, the three Scarrans accompanying him were far more lizard-like in appearance but no less menacing. It didn't matter what their appearances were, there was no mistaking that they were all predators.
"Greetings," Rylack said in English no less shocking the people in front of him. He lifted his head in a manner that exposed his throat, a measure of if not respect, then trust for the moment. "I am Rylack," he finished, enjoying their momentary shock.
"I am Ambassador David Sheridan of the Earth Alliance," he sputtered. "This is Senator Santiago of Earth Alliance, and Ambassador Calif, and Draal of the Minbari Federation.
He nodded slightly. "No doubt you are surprised that I can speak your language. It was required of us when the disruptor John Chricton," and he sneered the name, "attempted to destroy our command base with a fission weapon. We wish to make ourselves clear when we explain to him and his associates the error of their ways!"
"I see that you can understand Minbari as well," Calif said slowly. "Did you take the time to learn our language as well?"
"No. I understand the Minbari language but cannot speak it. You have translation devices. We use translator microbes to understand different languages we are confronted with," Rylack explained.
Draal narrowed his eyes. "What are translator microbes?"
"Those are microbes that once injected live in the base of the brain and allows one to understand any language being spoken. It's used in most civilized sectors of the galaxy," he snorted/growled. "I can understand that you wouldn't be aware of them here."
Draal nearly matched his growl at the implied insult. However Sheridan, realizing the Minbari was about to retort, cut in.
"Perhaps it's best that we adjourn to the meeting room where we can discuss our differences in a more comfortable setting?"
Rylack nodded. "Acceptable."
The group followed by security and several aides entered the room and sat down. The chairs were somewhat small for the Scarran's large frame but they made the effort.
"Before we begin, it is a Minbari custom to offer those who enter our house refreshments. Would you like anything?"
"I am not familiar with your cuisines and would rather not," Rylack answered. "I am not here to suffer your pleasantries. I'm here to prevent war."
"As are we," Sheridan answered. The abruptness of the Scarran forced David to change his tactics. Rylack's attitude was one of a predator, one who was used to getting what he wanted and apparently patience wasn't one of his virtues although it looked as if he were trying. "Very well. You stated that one of our people, a John Chricton was responsible in for nearly starting a war between your people and another species…"
"They are called Peacekeepers. Their species is called Sebacean," clarified Rylack. "Yes, blood has been shed, our ships fighting each other because of his interference in the affairs of both governments. Because of him, many of our people demand vengeance, or his head or the lives of your entire species. He attempted to assassinate the Emperor on his own throne. His interference has pushed our quadrant to the brink of war! There are those in the hierarchy that believe his actions were purposeful and used as a prelude to invasion by the planet Earthforce called Earth by Chricton."
"Until the attacks by your people began, we had no idea you even existed," Sheridan said. "Why would we send someone to interfere with your affairs when we don't even know where you are?"
"So you deny John Chricton is working under you authority?"
"Yes. We have a lot of Humans named John Chricton, but all of them are accounted for."
"Of course you'd say that," Advon hissed. The reptilian looking Scarran looked not angry, but threatening. "You would say anything to deny your involvement, to keep your hands clean. He looks Sebacean, but he is definitely not of their species. His heat aura is different, exactly like yours. His script is the same; his arrogant attitude reeks of yours. There is a way to discover the truth…"
"Enough," Rylack growled. "We know he is Human, so you can deny all you want but it changes nothing. What is important here is that we find out if he is working for your people or if he is some insane, independent animal that needs to be put down."
"Whether this John Chricton is Human or not isn't as important as the fact that you people attacked Minbari ships without provocation," growled Calif.
"Elements of the Empire did that," Rylack said. "We did not sanction any attacks on your people or the Humans either. That is why were are here, to track down those elements and eliminate them and by doing so keep our people from going to war."
"It's not only us but the Centauri and Narn governments have been attacked by your people as well. In fact several other governments have been attacked that have nothing to do with humans.
"So I've heard. That is why we are tracking them even as we speak. It would be a shame to have to wipe out the local species because of the actions of some hot-heated Scarran." Both Calif and Draal bristled. Sheridan and Santiago twisted in their seats angered by the apparent dismissal of these aliens. But let us refocus on the matter at hand. Crichton's ship called Farscape One, although primitive by Peacekeeper standards, it attacked and destroyed a Peacekeeper Prowler, a type of fighter. That was his first known appearance. He then associated with criminals and murders on a fleeing prison ship called Moya. He poisoned the mind and body of a Sebacean soldier, contaminating her and forcing her to flee her own people. He's robbed banks, murdered innocent civilians, and killed those who attempted to apprehend him. He has destroyed Scarran warships using an unknown weapon. He has killed Scarrans and Peacekeepers alike. He has turned entire worlds into deserts. He brought a nuclear device into the very heart of the Scarran Empire and attempted to blow up the emperor before he escaped. His means of escape forced us to confront a Peacekeeper vessel and a war was almost started because of his actions. The Peacekeepers want him for secrets he's stolen from them. We just want his dead or justice served."
David looked at the Scarran incredulously. "How could one man possibly do all of the things you've said? He would have to be some sort of superman."
"No, he is a superbly trained disruptor," was Rylack's answer.
"We assumed you've tried to capture him?"
"Of course," answered Advon. "We have captured and interrogated him on several occasions. Each time he has managed to escape and left us with more questions than answers."
"Each and every time?" asked a very cynical, unconvinced Sheridan.
"He is very good," the Scarran hissed.
"He must be a magician," Santiago said, much to Rylack's irritation. Having to admit that a mere Human could evade Scarran had been a painful admission and this human was indirectly insulting the Empire, accusing it of being incompetent. "I shall assume that the Peacekeepers attempted to capture him as well. Were they successful?"
It took the Scarran ambassador a few seconds to answer the question. "Yes," he finally admitted. "He escaped them first."
"For a human, that is most certainly impressive," muttered Draal. "I wouldn't believe it possible for a mere human to escape two great and powerful stellar empires. At the least, he must have unlimited resources at his disposal."
This time Rylack slammed his powerful clawed fists onto the table, which trembled under the impacts. He quickly recovered but berated himself anyway. His emperor wouldn't have approved of such weakness and he dared not show that to Ahkna. "Not that we were able to uncover. As I've said, he was very resourceful; using whatever was at hand at the time."
"All very interesting," Santiago said. "A veritable super human travels around in your area of space with an unarmed shuttle, because none of our shuttles were armed, creating havoc in his wake and because of one individual you're ready to go to war with a people who you've never even met. I believe that either you or those Peacekeepers are not as strong as you say or you've been a victim of a massive conspiracy. I prefer to believe the latter."
Moya at the edge of the Dead Zone (Known to some as the Rim)
In the dining area Ka D'Argo stared intently at Johnwho was still reeling from possibility. "He lied to you, John. Scorpius lied to you." He sighed. "I don't know why you're so surprised. He's been doing that since you met. It was another way of, what's the human term, 'psyching you out'."
John looked the crew, including Pilot, who listened in with the others. He could barely speak.
"He told you Earth was seventy years distant," the Luxan continued.
"More like sixty," corrected a morose John. "I didn't expect him to sell Earth out to the Scarrans. No matter what I do, I'm screwed."
"John," Aeryn started. We all know that Scorpius hates the Scarran more than anyone. He would never have given them the location to Earth. You know that."
"But they found out," snapped John. "Earth won't have a chance. 'Big D, you've been there. You all know that."
"You're right Chricton," Rigel affirmed. "Erp wouldn't stand a chance against the Scarran armada all of which brings up this point. We all know from bitter experience that we'll be pulled into one of your insanely dangerous schemes, so why don't we use your obsession with wormholes and make it to Erp in a matter of minutes? You can make a wormhole weapon and end this. So Chricton, why don't you?"
If a peacekeeper had said those insulting words to Rylack's face, that Sebacean would have been immediately doomed to a heat death. But Rylack managed to keep his temper in check. He needed time and starting a battle inside the station would not serve anyone's purpose at this point. So instead of killing the Sebacean look-alike as he wished, he asked, "why do you say this, that we might be victims of a conspiracy?"
The taller of the two Humans, the ambassador answered. "It's because of the photographs and information you've provide. The clues are there. First, we have no records of a John Chricton fitting the description your person of interests. Second, the original vessel in the images you gave us, though similar to our space shuttles built more than three hundred years ago, Earth has never built and or use any functional ship of that size for any form of exploration. And third, what convinces us that this is some type of conspiracy to force my people and yours into a war is the fact that according to the script the ships is an International Aeronautics and Space Administration or IASA created vessel." Now the Human glared at him, his eyes alight with the confidence of truth. "Our organization was called the National Aeronautics and Space Administration known as NASA. We've never had an organization called the IASA. This so-called astronaut named John Chricton had never appeared in our records. Of course, it may have been an alias of some sort and his biometrics may simulate a Humans but whoever did this made a critical error in using the name IASA, and not NASA. Someone or something has been playing and interfering with your region of space for any of a hundred reasons, but it was not us. Your forces have been attacking the wrong people.
The Scarran sat there, stunned. He couldn't have been more shocked if the old Human had jumped up and slapped him. The other Scarrans were just as taken aback.
"You lie," snarled Advon.
His body temperature was increasing. Rylack found that understandable. But this conversation was troubling and not proceeding in the directing he had expected it to.
"Where is your proof?"
The Human ambassador smiled and began showing images and records. Twenty minutes later Rylack could barely think. Could Chricton have really been some altered Sebacean? No, that couldn't be right. He wasn't cold-blooded like the Sebaceans and there was no known remedy for that. He was physically weaker than the average Peacekeeper. But he was more flexible in both mind and body, doing things that Sebaceans could never hope to accomplish, no matter how well trained. He thought differently. Then there was the wormhole weapon that destroyed a Scarran dreadnaught. No, that couldn't be faked but according to Scorpius' records, the creature was truly a Human, the same as these creatures here and the ones collected for analysis and dissection. But what if they were from an unknown faction hiding from their fellow humans somewhere among the stars? But how could the Aurora chair or their own interrogations have missed such a thing? The answer was: they wouldn't. Chricton was just a man; but if Chricton wasn't from Earth then what of the flower? He thought hard. If there was an enemy of Earth's out there that was aware that the flower as on Earth, then what better way could there be if the Scarran attacked Earth and achieved the flower and thereby fulfill the purpose of the enemy and never know the truth? A plan within a plan. Very interesting, but very useful as the conquest would serve both purposes. But the Empire did not suffer indignities such as this lightly. It this 'theory' was true then Rylack would hunt them down, after the secured Earth.
"Your proof seems to be acceptable on the surface," Rylack admitted to the Humans and Minbari. "But, I still have doubts. If he wasn't from your Earth Alliance, then perhaps he was from another faction of your species intimately familiar with Earth."
The Humans ambassador looked confused by that statement.
"As far as we know, there are no other factions of Humans in the galaxy other than our colonies and outposts," Sheridan stated. "There were rumors of abductions by unknown aliens who may or may not have experimented on Humanity. The Vree did kidnap humans but they always returned them and never abducted us in large numbers."
"But our information is reliable," protested Rylack. "He had an innate understanding of the planet Earth. His conversations with the Emperor was convincing enough for my leader to believe him."
"Wait," pounced Santiago. "I thought you said that this Chricton tried to kill your emperor."
"This conversation was held before the threat was realized," hissed Rylack, trying to recover from his admission. "He and the emperor were discussing points of similarity between our two species. The conversation was far-ranging and the two of them even discussed certain botanical plants that were similar to the flora of Earth. For example, he notes that a flower we call the Crystherium Utilia, was the same as the Bird of Paradise flower on Earth. If this is true, then such small revelations would prove that he had some understanding of the planet."
"A lot of people on Earth know about of that flower," Sheridan countered. "It's a common flower. Found in the tropics. Very popular."
"But," continued David. "That doesn't mean this person was Human, although he may have spent time on Earth or studied my world. I believe that this person was a…what you call a disruptor, to get your people and these Peacekeepers set against each other. As we said, we had no idea that you even existed until your people began attacking us. Now, what's a better way for someone start a war than by shifting the blame on a species who had never even heard of your people?"
"As an ambassador, I can sympathize with your grievances against the Humans if they were part of this conspiracy. However that doesn't excuse the thousands of men and women your people murdered throughout this region of space, "Ambassador Calif growled. "Every race in the sector has suffered because of the ignorance of your people and their ill-conceived attempt at revenge. The Minbari will not tolerate any more actions against our people. We will hunt these rebels down and destroy them. Too much blood has been shed. It would be wise for you get out of the way."
"Your arrogance will start a war, Ambassador," replied a shocked Rylack. The vehemence of the statement was unexpected. He was sure that the Minbari would be somewhat reasonable. "We're here to help avoid that, for the sake of your people."
"You can do that by getting out of the way!" Draal growled. "Your help is not wanted. The Minbari have ridden the stars for a thousand years. We will deal with this in our own way."
"Only a thousand years," scoffed Advon. "You are still children just venturing into the stars. The Scarran Empire has been in space for tens of thousands of cycles. We do as we wish."
"We came here to help remove rebels from attacking our distant neighbors, and promote the peace," Rylack said as he got up pushing the chair away. "I see it was a mistake."
Sheridan and Santiago glanced at each other quickly. The meeting was beginning to fall apart as the Minbari and their insane pride had all but derailed the entire negotiations.
"No," Sheridan quickly said. "Peace is always preferable to war."
"Spoken like Chricton before he destroyed our dreadnaught and murdered tens of thousands of Scarrans," Rylack countered. "You claim to know nothing about him but your very mannerisms betray you."
"Maybe this Chricton is Human as you're claiming," Santiago said. "But how do we know that you're telling the truth?"
Rylack stood up. "You dare call me a liar, human?" everyone in the room heard the contempt in the word 'human'.
Santiago stared at the towering Scarran. "You claim that we're lying. You claim that this John Chricton is human and you claim than he, all by himself, has nearly started a war between your people and the Peacekeepers. We're supposed to believe you, but you refuse to believe us. Unless his man is produced and we both can discover the full truth, we're at an impasse," Santiago said, not backing down despite the massive difference in height between the two. "The Minbari have a saying, 'the truth is a three-edged sword, my truth, your truth, and the truth. What's your truth?"
Draal look was that of approval for the Human's bravery. The quote wasn't exact but it was close enough. But the glares being sent his way made Draal think that I might have been a bit much considering the circumstances for a human.
Located in a small room not too far removed from the ongoing negotiations, Satai Dukhat and President Levy looked at the proceedings with rapped interest, dissecting every word, every mannerism exhibited by both parties.
"I'm sorry," Levy whispered. "These Scarran frighten me on a visceral level and I don't trust the ambassador. I just can't accept as truth that one man could do everything that these people are claiming he's done with no support, no equipment, and no backup. There's a part of me that imagines this might be some kind of wonderful fantasy, but what they're claiming is frankly impossible."
"There is no dishonor in being frightened," answered Dukhat. "Only a fool ignores that warning that fear imparts on us. I've watched the Scarrans and I do know that they believe what they're saying if I am discerning their body language properly. They're alien, true but, I believe that they are convinced of that what they're saying is true."
"No one person could be that dangerous, or," she added, "that lucky."
"I could say something like 'the universe does indeed like to surprise us with its mysteries, however, I won't," he smirked. The Minbari leader looked at woman. "We need to know the truth before this escalates into war. The Shadow war has been avoided and I intend to have peace between us and the Scarrans."
"If it's possible. But I do have a suggestion," Levy said thinking about where she though Santiago was heading towards. "Why don't we use the telepaths to find out the truth?"