Contents: Overview - Backplot - Questions - Analysis - Notes - JMS
The return of Babylon 4 leads the crew to a dangerous encounter and Delenn to revelations about the life of Valen.
Issue 14 (March 1998)
Setting: Season four, after "Into the Fire"
Writer: Peter David Artist: Mike Collins
Ramde Haxtur leads his people in prayer to the Z'ondar, aboard the Tak'Cha flagship. He recalls how they fell from the Z'ondar's grace long ago and now hope to be worthy of his greatness someday. Haxtur tells Cozon to prepare the ships for battle; he will personally lead an attack on Ende X'ton to rid it of the alien invaders. This, he says, will be done in the Z'ondar's name.
Ivanova contemplates what Sinclair would do if faced with alien attackers while plummeting headlong into a planet's atmosphere on a derelict space station. Ultimately, she decides that only course of action is to bend over and kiss herself good-bye.
Ivanova counts twenty Tak'Cha ships. Sheridan takes the fighter Garibaldi got up and running, hoping his experience with the White Stars will afford him the skills needed to pilot it. Ivanova has her doubts, for he has never flown a Minbari ship before.
Delenn access the recording of a Tak'Cha disciple of Valen, named Ramde Zarwin. According to Zarwin, his people joined Valen's crusade against the Shadows and fully embraced his teachings. However, Valen felt that they had perverted his teachings and cast them out. Zarwin himself was there for Valen's "Times to Come" speech and was awed by Valen's Vorlon escorts, who appeared to him as Tak'Cha gods. In Zarwin's eyes, Valen was sent by the gods. Valen eventually based the Anla'Shok's staff on a Tak'Cha weapon called a barrken, and Zarwin taught him to use such a weapon. Zarwin was humbled and amazed at how quickly Valen outstripped his teacher's skills. However, Valen was disturbed to learn that the Tak'Cha had mis-interpreted his teachings to mean that one should relish the glory of fighting a war for a cause.
Sheridan, in an effort to stall the Tak'Cha, flies out among their ships but then simply spins in place. The Tak'Cha are confused by the tactic, but do not attack. Instead they watch warily until Sheridan accidentally fires on the lead ship, mistaking the firing controls for the reverse thrusters. Haxtur is furious at being shot at and opens fire on Sheridan's ship.
Zarwin recalls how Valen called him, Rashok, and Nukenn before him. Valen had planned to assign the three of them a mission, hoping at least one of them would succeed in seeing it through. The mission: to hold a message for Delenn for a thousand years, then deliver it to her in time to prevent the Earth-Minbari War. However, his Vorlon companion wisely reminded him that without the war, he would never gone into the past, which would have meant no Valen, no Babylon 4, and no defeat of the Shadows. Like it or not, Valen was powerless to alter history and prevent the deaths of millions.
The Tak'Cha disable Sheridan's fighter, and he crashes the ship into the station's Cobra Bay. There is a large explosion, but he (and Garibaldi, who happened to be in the bay) survives.
Zarwin further recalls how Valen became outraged upon hearing that the Tak'Cha had decimated the Yolu and numerous other races who had refused to fight in Valen's war against the Shadows. In the Tak'Cha's mind, any unwilling to follow Valen into the fire and the darkness must be punished, and they believed they should be the punishers, and that Valen would want it this way. Horrified that so many innocent lives were taken in his name, he cast them out. Ashamed, they returned home, unsure how they had failed the Z'ondar but hopeful of one day serving him again.
Ivanova informs Sheridan that their rate of descent has increased, with only three or four hours until they burn up. The Tak'Cha board Babylon 4 and plant explosives to flush the aliens out. However, Delenn appeals to them with a gesture of friendship and the phrase, "Z'ondar -- Zarwin -- Tak'Cha -- Minbari." Having worshipped her name for a millennium, they are in awe of her and immediately break off their attack. The Tak'Cha rescue the Babylon 5 team, and together they watch as the older station meets its fate. As the station burns up, Delenn recalls a final recording of Valen's words:
"My name is Valen... and I have served my people like no other. I led them into fire... into darkness... into death... and they followed me without hesitation. They acclaim my victories and hail me as a great leader. They speak of my successes as if they are as infinite as the stars. And yet, for all that I've accomplished... I lie awake, listening to the screams of the dead and dying, those who are already gone, and those are yet to be born. A few words from me could avert the Earth-Minbari conflict. A warning to Delenn or Duhkat... But without the war, there would be no Babylon 4 and no Babylon 5. There would be no rallying point against the Darkness... and the Shadows would win, now and a thousand years from now. I cannot deviate from the circle of which I am a part. I am the beginning of the story, as Zathras said... and a prisoner of it. I dare not change the end. Still... it's been a good life... lives... over all. Delenn, Catherine, Susan, Michael... if any of you see this somehow.. don't cry for me. For in the final analysis, I've always been too hard on myself. I'll be content to let history judge me, and all that has been done in Valen's name. And as for me... I've received my own reward, because I've found her. At long last... I've found... her."