It is January 8, 2259. The Earth Alliance ship Agamemnon jumps into hyperspace. Its commanding officer, Captain John Sheridan, receives a gold channel message from General Hague of the joint chiefs of staff. General Hague tells Captain Sheridan that a Minbari warship has appeared several times in Earth-controlled space, only a short distance from Babylon 5. Hague believes that the ship may have hostile intent. Sheridan doesn't understand until Hague tells him that the ship is a renegade warship, which Sheridan correctly guesses is called the Trigati. The Earth Alliance is awaiting the arrival of a ship sent by the Minbari government to assist should the warship decide to attack. Sheridan is ordered to make personal contact with that ship to help with the search. Sheridan questions the wisdom of that action, remembering his previous encounter with the Minbari, when he destroyed one of their warships. Hague understands Sheridan's reservations, but tells Sheridan to proceed to Babylon 5 to perform one additional duty.
On Babylon 5, Ivanova, currently in command of the station, walks through the halls and is bothered by several aliens, whom she sets in their place during an elevator ride. The action of the scene continues under her voice, a status report for the station: "It is now eight days since the death of Earth Alliance president Louis Santiago, and five days since Commander Sinclair was recalled to Earth without explanation--and the whole place has gone straight to Hell. I can only conclude that I'm paying off karma at a vastly accelerated rate. Security Chief Michael Garibaldi remains in critical condition in Medlab. Dr. Franklin's done all he can, but we still don't know if he'll recover. As for Ambassador Delenn, well, something's going on in her quarters. That's for sure."
General Hague contacts Ivanova and tells her that Commander Sinclair will not be returning to Babylon 5 and that he has been permanently reassigned to the Minbari homeworld as the first human ambassador to the planet. Hague informs her that Captain Sheridan is the new choice for the commander of Babylon 5, but Ivanova is unsure of the decision, claiming that it is "bound to be a controversial choice." Hague understands, but tells her that the decision has already been made. He ends the communication.
In Delenn's quarters, Lennier continues to maintain a vigil over the chrysalis in which Delenn is changing. Another Minbari, Hedronn, enters and addresses Lennier directly. "So...she's done it, hasn't she? She's in there. We told her to wait. `The prophecy will attend to itself,' we told her. Now we are committed to the path. I've spoken with the other members of the council. The Trigati has been seen in this sector. If it should appear, you must go to the humans and tell them what we told you. It's time they knew the truth."
An officer approaches Ivanova, and wants to talk to her about Sheridan's arrival. She orders him to have a full honor guard in place when he arrives, but he tells her that Sheridan's transport has already docked; there was a miscommunication about the time. She rushes off and meets Sheridan just as he comes aboard, and he officially takes command of the station. While his luggage is delivered to his quarters, Ivanova takes him on a tour of the station. He asks her what the status of the station is, and she recounts it for him. After hearing about Garibaldi, G'Kar, Delenn, and the ever-mysterious Kosh, the only reply he can come up with is "Interesting place you have here..."
Elsewhere on the station, there is another arrival -- a Minbari who asks the computer to show him the station, but walks away after hearing the description of the green sector -- the ambassadorial quarters.
Ivanova and Sheridan complete their tour and arrive in the new commander's quarters. She takes the opportunity to ask him about his appointment as head of the station. He tells her that he was President Santiago's second choice to head the station, probably because he had worked with many races, including the Minbari. This worries Ivanova, who reminds him that the Minbari still refer to him as "Starkiller," and guesses they won't be happy to learn he is in command of Babylon 5. He hopes they have forgotten, but doesn't believe they have. He asks her to help bring him up to speed. They talk about the crew's reaction to the President's death. Many of them are having a difficult time accepting the loss. Ivanova and Sheridan are no exceptions. Because of the recent turmoil around the station, Ivanova is especially glad to see Sheridan again; they had served together at the transport point near Io. They make plans to go to C&C so that he can deliver a "good luck speech" to the crew.
Sheridan describes his speech.
Elsewhere on the station, Hedronn notices someone he recognizes -- the Minbari who was on his way to the ambassadorial sector of Babylon 5 -- as Kalain. Hedronn runs after Kalain, who grabs and threatens him, claiming that the Grey Council betrayed the Minbari. Kalain explains that he has intercepted a message saying that Sheridan had been chosen to lead Babylon 5. When Hedronn protests that the wishes of the Grey Council were ignored, Kalain asks if Delenn also ignored the Council. Kalain says his people have supporters in the Grey Council, who have told them that Sinclair is on Minbar, though Kalain does not believe that Sinclair being an ambassador is the whole story. Kalain lets Hedronn go, warning him to leave while he still can.
"Minbari do not kill other Minbari!"
After she goes to check on Garibaldi's condition, Ivanova finds Sheridan and tells him that the officers on C&C are ready for him. He enters and begins his speech, talking about the visit he made when he was twenty-one to Tibet and the Dalai Lama. After eating a very simple dinner, the Dalai Lama asked if he understood. Sheridan didn't. "Good beginning," the Dalai Lama said to him. "It will be even better when you begin to understand what you do not understand."
During Sheridan's speech, a call from security says that a Minbari is demanding to speak to Sheridan. Sheridan and Ivanova leave. While they are on their way, Kalain attempts to enter the green sector, but is stopped by a security officer, whom he attacks. Kalain steals the officer's weapon and proceeds into the green sector.
It turns out that the Minbari who wanted to speak with Sheridan was Hedronn, who has some important information regarding Kalain. Hedronn tells Sheridan and Ivanova that Kalain was second in command of one of their flagships during the Earth-Minbari war and that he vanished when the war ended. Ivanova asks why Hedronn believes Kalain is here to cause trouble, but Hedronn just answers that he has his reasons.
Sheridan suspects the ship Kalain was second in command of was the Trigati. Ivanova has never heard of the ship, but Hedronn explains that at the end of the war, Sineval, one of their warship commanders, committed suicide rather than obey the Grey Council's order to surrender. When that happened, Kalain took command of the ship, and it vanished. Sheridan says that, while the ship had been seen over the years, it had never attacked. Hedronn suspects that its recent reappearance suggests it might be "out of retirement."
Sheridan doesn't understand, however, why Hedronn, who claimed that he was from the Ministry of Culture, knew Kalain, a high-ranking member of the warrior caste after twelve years. Hedronn doesn't respond, saying only that he would answer if he recognized Sheridan's authority, but he doesn't because the Minbari government was not consulted on Sheridan's appointment. Sheridan tells Hedronn that the president decided on him because the Minbari had too much influence over an Earth outpost.
"And the day that a man such as yourself is given a position of this importance is a dark day indeed," Hedronn says. "We lost many of our best warriors because of you. And we do not soon forget such things. If there is a doom on this station, it is because you brought it here." Hedronn then leaves abruptly.
Because of Hedronn's attitude, Sheridan believes that he is a member of the Grey Council, because no one else would know someone so high in the warrior caste so well. Sheridan then admits that Ivanova was correct, that the Minbari don't want him in command of Babylon 5. She points out that they are a prideful people, and that he did destroy their flagship, the Black Star. She asks how he destroyed it. Sheridan explains that, because their weapons could not lock on to the ship, due to some sort of stealth technology, he mined the asteroid field between Jupiter and Mars with fusion bombs, which don't need direct targets. It destroyed the Black Star and three other heavy cruisers. "It was the only real victory we had in the whole damn war, and I am not about to apologize for it!"
Sheridan suddenly remembers Hedronn's statement that Kalain felt betrayed by the Minbari homeworld, and deduces that, in such a situation, it would be natural to attack the representative of that world. Realizing they might not have much time, Sheridan and Ivanova rush to Delenn's quarters to find Kalain pointing a gun at Lennier. They are able to easily apprehend Kalain, but when Sheridan attempts to get a close look at the chrysalis, Lennier stops him. Ambassador Delenn is indisposed, he says, and Sheridan should come back later...much later.
Lennier defends Delenn.
Sheridan and Ivanova interrogate Kalain, asking him about the Trigati and why he has suddenly appeared on Babylon 5. Sheridan can't believe that Kalain's goal was to murder Lennier and Delenn; he had ample time to kill both of them.
"Everyone knows Minbari do not kill Minbari," Kalain says. Sheridan doesn't accept that as an answer and again asks Kalain about his presence. "Perhaps everyone is wrong."
Sheridan concludes that Kalain never intended to kill them, but that something else was going on. "Perhaps you are the problem," Kalain replies.
Ivanova tries to intervene, claiming that they are getting nowhere, but Sheridan has one more question for Kalain. "I'm told that after the death of your commanding officer, you took command of a Minbari war cruiser. But if you're here, where's your ship?"
Sheridan and Ivanova leave. Lennier catches up to the two of them outside and apologizes for his earlier behavior. He says that he needs to speak to both of them. "It concerns," he explains, "the reason you were sent here, the relocation of commander Sinclair, and the reason we surrendered at the Battle of the Line." When they reach Sheridan's office, Lennier begins his story:
"After three years, the Holy War that began when our leader was killed by an Earth explorer division was almost over. To avenge Dukhat's death, we had pursued your forces all the way back to your homeworld. The few surviving Earth ships that were ordered to defend your world at any cost... were not an obstacle. The Grey Council had come to oversee the final victory of our forces."
The scene shifts, back to the inside of the Grey Council ship, where the Grey Council is in session surrounded by a display showing the battle raging outside.
"They fight bravely. They cannot harm our ships, but they continue to try," says Delenn.
Hedronn dismisses her comment. "Whether they fight or not, they know they will die anyway. So really, is this bravery or simple desperation?"
"Perhaps they are the same thing. We should bring one of them aboard for questioning. If our next step is the final assault on their world, we must know their defenses."
"Very well, Delenn. Choose, but quickly. We are fast running out of candidates."
Delenn sees a Starfury making a suicide run at their ship. "That one," she says. A beam immobilizes the Starfury, and it is brought aboard.
Lennier continues his story. "This was the first time the Grey Council would have direct contact with a human, in this case Sinclair. He was tortured, interrogated, scanned. During the course of the scan, the Council discovered something terrible. At first, they refused to believe it, so they took in other humans and had them scanned as well. But it was true."
"What was true?" asks Ivanova.
"It is our belief that every generation of Minbari is reborn in each following generation. Remove those souls, and the whole suffers. We are diminished. Over the last two thousand years, there have been fewer Minbari born into each generation. And those who are born do not seem equal to those who came before. It almost as if our greater souls have been disappearing. At the Battle of the Line, we discovered where our souls were going. They were going to you. Minbari souls are being reborn, in part or in full, in human bodies."
"So you stopped the war to avoid harming your own souls?"
Lennier confirms that, and continues. "But the Council knew that our people, and yours, were not ready for this information. It could unravel our entire society. So we could not tell our generals the reason for the surrender. We had all memory of the examination erased from Sinclair's mind, and we let him go. It has been our secret. Now it is yours. It must be kept."
"I don't understand. If this is such a secret, why tell us?"
"Because changes are coming. Commander Sinclair was the first. There will be more."
The meeting is interrupted by a call from C&C--a Minbari cruiser, on an attack vector, is coming through the jumpgate. Warren Keffer, the leader of Zeta Squadron, watches with the other people in his squad, but can't believe what he is seeing. Sheridan arrives at C&C and orders a red alert. He activates the defense grid and puts all squadrons on standby. While this happens, Kalain, in his detention cell, removes a tooth from his mouth. He opens it, revealing a blue liquid. He puts the tooth in his mouth and swallows.
Kalain practices poor dental hygeine.
Captain Sheridan communicates with the warship, which the commander identifies as the Trigati. She demands that Kalain be returned, since he did not kill or harm anyone aboard Babylon 5. When Sheridan refuses, she launches her fighters. Sheridan counters, launching the fighters aboard Babylon 5. He informs her that an attack could be considered an act of war.
"The war has already begun, Captain. All that remains now is honor and death."
This remark puzzles Sheridan, since no one has yet been killed. He suddenly realizes what's going on: they are attempting to start a war, but since Kalain hasn't killed anyone and the Trigati hasn't attacked, they must be trying to frame Babylon 5. This is confirmed when security reports that Kalain has killed himself. Ivanova can't believe that Minbari would attack after learning they were sharing Minbari souls, but Sheridan reminds her that the Trigati was not informed of that. The Minbari fighters close in on the station, and Sheridan orders his fighters to intercept and engage.
While the Babylon 5 fighters move to intercept, Sheridan looks at a display of both groups of fighters; somehow Babylon 5 is able to track the Minbari fighters, even though it's using the same kind of tracking system Earthforce used during the war.
Sheridan orders his fighters not to attack. He gives a message to Ivanova, telling her to transmit it through the jumpgate without the Trigati intercepting it. She does so, but doesn't think it will work if it is a distress signal, as no one could arrive in time.
A tight-beam transmission using the station laser.
The Trigati's fighters continue to advance, but Sheridan orders his fighters to maintain position. When the Trigati's fighters reach the Earth ships, they do not attack -- they fly past and return to the Trigati. Another Minbari ship suddenly comes through the jumpgate. Ivanova is afraid that the Trigati fighters were waiting for reinforcements, but Sheridan tells her that, since he knew another Minbari ship was looking for the Trigati, he figured they must be waiting in hyperspace.
The Minbari fighters fly past.
The other cruiser orders the Trigati to surrender. Sheridan continues to explain to Ivanova that, because they could track the Minbari fighters, that probably meant the Minbari wanted to be destroyed. The Trigati was in exile for twelve years, and could not go home, fight without causing a war, or surrender without being dishonored. If Babylon 5 was forced to attack, they would die at human hands, thereby becoming martyrs.
The Trigati attempts to back off and open up a jump point, but the war cruiser cuts off their engines with a beam. They order the Trigati to surrender and be boarded, but the Trigati refuses, and replies with only one word: "honor." The Trigati self-destructs in a ball of flame, apparently from their fusion reactors. A signal comes in from the war cruiser; Sheridan greets the Minbari commander.
The Trigati is attacked.
"Perhaps to you," the Minbari on the other end says to Sheridan, "this was a tactical problem to be solved. For us, this has been a great sorrow. The crew of the Trigati were heroes to many of our people. Their death will be mourned, and your name will be remembered." The Minbari war cruiser cuts off the communication and vanishes into the jump gate.
Later, Sheridan is in his quarters, looking through his belongings, which have recently been delivered. Ivanova arrives and asks Sheridan if something is wrong. "When I got my orders," Sheridan explains, "I figured this place was a great opportunity. And now I wonder if coming here was irresponsible. This whole mess with the Trigati might not have happened if I hadn't been here. I mean, my presence, my...actions in the war...I'm to blame for bringing all this trouble to Babylon 5. What was it our friend in the Grey Council said? 'If there is a doom on this station, it is because you brought it here.' Well maybe he was right. I spoke with the president. He is the only other human who knows why the Minbari surrendered, and he doesn't believe this stuff about us sharing Minbari souls, and I can't say that I do either. But they believe it. That's why they chose Sinclair to run this place... that's why they've picked him to live on their world. He was their first human contact. Him they trust. But me? I don't know. If Sinclair had been here instead, maybe they might not have attacked."
Ivanova tells Sheridan to give himself the benefit of the doubt. Before she leaves, she tells him that he can talk to her any time, if he needs to.
Lennier is busy preparing candles in Delenn's quarters, and setting them around her chrysalis. "I told them, Delenn, as I was ordered. I only wish I could have told them the rest -- about the great enemy that is returning and the prophecy that the two sides of our spirit must unite against the darkness or be destroyed. They say it will take both of our races to stop the darkness. I am told that the Earthers will discover all this, soon enough, on their own. I hope they are right. Because if we are wrong, no one will survive our mistake." He says good night, and leaves right before the chrysalis begins moving, and Delenn begins to emerge.
"I only wish I could have told them the rest."
Ivanova, Dr. Franklin, and Keffer discuss the recent events in a nightclub on the station. Keffer asks what they think of the new captain, and Dr. Franklin and Ivanova both believe that he will be okay. He was supposed to meet them there for drinks, but Franklin says that when he last saw Sheridan, he was going to the C&C to deliver his good luck speech.
"It was an early earth president, Abraham Lincoln, who best described our situation. 'The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. We cannot escape history. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor, to the last generation. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, or last best hope of Earth.'" Though there is no one else on C&C, he has still delivered his speech in time. He leaves C&C to begin the second day of his new command.