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Synopsis by Katrina Glerum (kat@midwinter.com)

The station spins amidst a growing cloud of warships and tension as the coalition prepares to defend itself against the Vorlons and Shadows. Ivanova finds the Captain brooding in C&C. It seems that the Shadows have finally reacted to the Vorlon "planet killer" attacks against worlds where they have influence with an equally destructive offensive against Vorlon supporters. They watch with horror as a report shows an evil cloud suffusing a world, rippling the surface and killing all sentient life on it.

"Giants in the playground," Sheridan remarks with disgust.

On Narn, Londo has convened a secret meeting of Centauri leaders. In no uncertain terms he and Vir explain that if Emperor Cartagia is not killed today and the Shadows driven off homeworld, Centauri Prime will be destroyed by the Vorlons.

Ivanova tracks down the Captain again in his office. She tells Sheridan he must be proud. Even if they die in the coming battle, it will be at the head of what must be the greatest fleet the galaxy has ever seen. When he tells her that he needs her to track down the remaining First Ones for him and this will prevent her from accompanying the fleet, she grows angry.

When she was a child, her mother told her to wait at the neighbor's house one day. She waited and waited and her mother never came. It was the day her mother killed herself. Ivanova refuses to be left behind again. She makes Sheridan promise, as one soldier to another, not to protect her, but to let her be there when the final battle comes.

The throne room rings with laughter as a jester entertains the court. Emperor Cartagia enthusiastically explains his latest idea to Mollari. When he attains godhood, Londo shall be his high priest. They will go back to watch the Vorlons destroy Centauri Prime as soon as G'Kar is executed. The emperor turns to find himself the object of the jester's mimicry. The room stills and the courtiers quake until Cartagia laughs, and everyone laughs with relief. Londo leaves to "check on some arrangements."

He is shocked to see the "arrangements" sitting in a dark cell, drawn, bloodied, with only a single eye. But "an empty eye can see through to an empty heart," G'Kar says. Londo tells G'Kar that his chains have been weakened enough that he can break them at the moment before his execution to create a diversion the Centauri can use to kill the emperor. "Your heart is empty, Mollari. Did you know that?" Londo's sympathy dries up at that remark and he leaves the Narn with the injunction not to touch the emperor's person. "Leave him to us."

Mollari returns to the throne room in time to see a body dragged from the room and a jester's cap on the floor. "Humor is such a subjective thing," Cartagia comments.

Later that night Vir appears bearing a secret package. He is surprised no one followed him. "Everyone knows that you are incapable of doing anything really dangerous or subversive," Mollari smiles. The package turns out to be anything but innocuous however. It is a needlelike dagger with a button on the handle that when plunged deep into the breast of the victim will release a toxin that can kill a Centauri "almost instantaneously." They joke around about whether that might be long enough for the emperor to say "Londo killed Aaaaagh!"

As G'Kar is paraded through the corridors as a lesson to the Narn, Cartagia idly mentions that he had G'Kar's chains replaced because they looked weak. The emperor passes judgment, death by vivisection, and asks for the Narn's plea. G'Kar only grabs his chains. With a mighty pull he breaks them and attacks the emperor's guards. Londo hurries Cartagia into an antechamber behind the throne.

Nervously fumbling for his dagger and peering around for guards, Londo distractedly tells the enraged emperor to be quiet. Cartagia turns on him instead, punching Mollari in the face and knocking the weapon out of his hand before getting him in a headlock. "You will burn with the rest of Centauri," he says, then turns away to find a dagger in his chest, in the hands of a horrified Vir.

Within the hour Londo announces Cartagia's death to the court. In the same moment he declares that this is a sign that they must leave Narn forever. They must also return to Centauri Prime immediately to remove the Shadow presence there. Since there is no clear line of succession, he is named Prime Minister by a member of the Centaurum to lead until a new emperor can be chosen.

Back on Babylon 5, Lennier hurries into the war room with an intelligence report. It shows that the Shadows, like the Vorlons, are destroying planets hit-and-run style. He is interrupted by an incoming report from a White Star scout, whose probes are able to show how the Shadows operate. They surround the victim planet with a cloud of black missiles. These missiles assault the planet en masse, burrowing through the crust to the planet's molten core where they detonate together. The resultant tectonic upheaval effectively destroys all life on the planet within hours.

Garibaldi is upset. "We are outclassed, boys and girls."

But Lennier knows where the Vorlons might be heading next, Coriana 6, a planet with over 6 billion people on it. They convene the League worlds to discuss their next strategy.

The Centauri must leave Narn immediately but Vir is no where to be found. Londo's impatience with his assistant turns into distaste when he finds Vir thoroughly drunk. But he softens in the face of Vir's anguish. No matter how good the cause, Vir has just killed someone in cold blood. Londo tells him what he did was necessary, that he may have saved their people. "But you still have your heart. And your heart is a good one. You would not be in such great pain otherwise." Their conversation is interrupted by the fireworks of celebrating Narns. Londo may regret the loss of his own heart, he says as he leaves Vir, but in keeping his promise to G'Kar, at least he retains his honor.

The League representatives are appalled by their first vision of the Shadow planet killing cloud. In this mood of despair Sheridan announces they will stand against the Vorlons at Coriana 6. In addition, it's time the Shadows and Vorlons fought each other directly instead of attacking through the destruction of innocent worlds. The Shadows will have to be tricked into joining them however. While the League watches, Sheridan calls up the White Star scout ship again and instructs her captain to attack a Shadow base near one of their main staging areas. The Shadow response will be instant--and deadly. Sheridan asks this crew to leak news of a nonexistant coalition base near Coriana 6 to the Shadows, and to die in apparent defense of this false intelligence.

The Narn throne room is the scene of revelry once again, this time as the Narn tear it to pieces. G'Kar is outraged when he sees this, and even more infuriated when the Narns try to make him their new leader to strike back against the Centauri once and for all. He will lead only as a member of the Kha'Ri, not as a dictator. Angry at being told off, one Narn asks him, while we've been down here suffering under Centauri rule, "What have you endured?" G'Kar's answer begins in rage and ends in ineffable mirth.

The scout ship's final message is received at the station. The Shadows have taken the bait. And so the greatest fleet anyone has ever known sets off for Coriana 6.


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Last update: November 29, 1997