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Synopsis by Katrina Glerum (kat@midwinter.com)

In customs, Londo waits impatiently, complaining bitterly about the inefficiency of the Narn security personnel and the stupidity of the fighting between Earthers. Meanwhile that fighting continues as General Hague's destroyer, the EAS Alexander, is under attack by another Earth Alliance warship, the EAS Clarkstown. When there seems to be no other choice, the Alexander destroys her pursuer and jumps toward Babylon 5. As soon as news of this impending arrival reaches the station's officers, they realize their dilemma. The Alexander is being hunted down on charges of treason, but General Hague has been their strongest ally in the fight against the growing darkness at home. In the background, ISN reports that Mars has refused to implement martial law in defiance of President Clark's orders. Trying to protect the crew from the consequences of his action, Sheridan announces in C & C that the arriving Alexander will be given humanitarian assistance, but he has Garibaldi cut all transmissions from the station just in case some of his crew want to report her arrival.

Delenn has received chilling news as well. A Minbari Ranger traveling among the nonaligned worlds has discovered that the various races have all been goaded by the Shadows into fighting their neighbors, first for defense and then for conquest. The races believe that alliance with the Shadows is the only way to be safe from Centauri conquest. The Grey Council's only reaction is to comment that "The problems of others are not ours."

The commanding officer of the Alexander, Major Ryan, arrives on B5 bearing bad tidings. General Hague was killed during their last fight, the attempted coup against Clark is only having marginal success, ISN is on the verge of being shut down, and the majority of Earth Force is either loyal to Clark or intimidated by him. As the crew discusses his report, the news comes that Earth Gov has begun bombing civilian targets on Mars.

Delenn leaves to find the Grey Council just as the EAS Churchill arrives with her captain demanding an immediate meeting with Sheridan.

Gunfire punctuates the scene of terrified anchors at ISN reporting that Orion and Proxima 3 colonies have declared independence in protest over the bombing of Mars. Apparently ISN has been forced to conceal information about activities in Earth Gov for the past year, but before they can spill the story their final broadcast is cut off abruptly amid falling debris. The Churchill's captain comes aboard to inform Sheridan that transmissions were intercepted ordering elite Earth Gov forces to Babylon 5 to both capture the Alexander, and take control of the station, arresting the command staff and placing the station under the direct authority of President Clark and the Nightwatch.

There is no more room to maneuver. Sheridan puts the question to his officers: Fight or Surrender? If they fight and lose, more than a quarter of a million lives might be at stake, and they will be executed. If they surrender, they will be court martialed at the least. Their decision is unanimous. It is time to make their stand now against Earth and the darkness. They spring into last minute preparations. Fighters are scrambled, Medlab is cleared, and ground troops are geared up.

An acolyte attempting to bar Delenn from the Grey Council chambers is withered by the force of her purpose. Her words are even more powerful before the Council as she accuses them of abandoning the very prophecy they were created to meet, to stand against the Shadows "between the candle and the star, between the darkness and the light." Berating them for pride and presumption she breaks the leader's staff of office before breaking the Council itself by calling on the Worker and Religious castes to abandon the Warrior caste's indifference and follow her into immediate action.

Sheridan takes a moment in the midst of the crisis to call home for what might be the last time. His father urges him not to worry about his parents, and to remember the first lesson he ever taught him. Never start a fight, but always finish it.

Ivanova configures Draal's holographic system so the that captain can transmit a speech throughout B5. He announces that warships are enroute to seize the station and that in response Babylon 5 is seceding from the Earth Alliance until President Clark is removed from office.

Knowing that one of the officers must be personally present to lead the Star Fury squadrons into battle, Sheridan grants Commander Ivanova permission to drop just in time to meet four heavy warships and assembled fighters jumping out of hyperspace. His final effort to talk the approaching captain out of a fight is ignored, and full scale battle erupts. Joined by Star Furies from the Alexander and the Churchill, the station's squadrons are mostly successful in defending the station. Nevertheless, a breeching pod is able to penetrate their defenses. It latches on to the station's hull, bores a hole, and troops begin to jump through, where they are quickly engaged in bloody, close quarters resistance from Garibaldi leading Narn and human security personnel.

The Churchill puts up an excellent fight, until with fire on all decks, she sacrifices herself by ramming an enemy destroyer. Distracted by the sight, Ivanova reacts too slowly to a collision warning and is knocked spinning by another Fury. Sheridan immediately orders her to eject, which she does, an instant before her fighter slams against the hull of a cruiser. The Alexander and the station are able to destroy the other attacking warships, but suffer such heavy damage in the meantime that Lt. Corwin informs the captain that they could not have lasted much longer.

Relief is short lived. Three more destroyers arrive through the jump gate and order Sheridan to surrender. Before he has a chance to consider, four more jump points form. Instead of Earth Force ships however, they expel Delenn commanding the White Star and three Minbari war cruisers. She orders the attacking Earth Forces to withdraw. When they refuse, she replies coldly, "Only one human captain has ever survived battle with the Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else."

They beat a hasty retreat. But they leave a bloody wake of dead and dying both on the station and littered through space where the Minbari take up sentry duty. Sheridan accepts responsibility for some of the Churchill's lost Star Furies. Although he is proud of his crew, his faith in Earth Force is shattered, and he vows not to wear his uniform again until this civil war is over. To the Alexander, he extends a standing offer of assistance, before she departs in search of other allies.

In Docking, the known Nightwatch are being deported along with prisoners from the breeching pod, when Delenn comes aboard. John greets her with gratitude, awe, respect and love. Although less personal, most of the station feels the same way about him-as an enormous crowd expresses enthusiastically in the Zocolo. Even so, the respite is uneasy, and surely temporary.


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Last update: May 6, 1998