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Contents: Back Cover - Synopsis - Questions - Analysis - Notes - Author

Written by Jim Mortimore
Release date: January 10, 1996
ISBN: 0-440-22229-X
ISBN: 0-7522-0153-0
Setting: Late 2259, between "Comes the Inquisitor" and "The Fall of Night"

Sheridan is torn between duty and defiance when he's ordered to execute an innocent alien.

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Back Cover

Death Before Dishonor

The Tuchanq, a newly discovered humanoid species, can be an important ally for the Earth Alliance commanded by President Clark. So Captain John Sheridan welcomes their ambassadors to Babylon 5, not knowing that among them is D'Arc - a mass murderer on the run hoping to escape into the unsuspecting worlds of the galaxy....

Clark's Law

But the unforgiving rules of space have a different fate in store for D'Arc. A terrifying accident wipes away D'Arc's identity and his evil... leaving behind a loving, innocent being with a child's mind - a being that must die because President Clark, a leader with his own secret agenda, orders his immediate execution. Now, as Babylon 5 physician Dr. Stephen Franklin begs Sheridan to defy Clark's law, the captain faces the greatest test of his command - and a far greater test of his manhood, which may end his career in shame or become a shining reminder of what being human truly means....


Prologue: Lies

"Earth: First Lie": Opening in November of 2242, we see the Captain of the Earth vessel which fired on the Minbari lie to the president and then Vice President Santiago about who fired first. Captain Ferdinand claims it is the Minbari who fired first.

"Earth: Second Lie": The scene opens on now President Clark in October of 2258 (See Notes.) Clark has been plotting to reinstate the death penalty to regain popularity among humans by maintaining control and re-initiating capital punishment. Clark's internal thoughts also turn to the problems with Earth's colonies without which Earth could not survive. The senate is tied on the vote about re-instating capital punishment. Clark lies when the speaker of the senate asks if it will be equally applied to both humans and aliens. Answering yes, the speaker of the senate agrees to pass the law.

"Tuchanq: First Lie": The scene is inside a Narn battle cruiser as G'Kar drops Centauri plasma generators on Tuchanq. After a few days G'Kar lands the Narn cruiser offering the Tuchanq assistance in recovering from the devastation caused by the "Centauri."

"Tuchanq: Second Lie": October 2259, we see D'Arc of the Tuchanq killing the last of the Narn on Tuchanq and then boarding a Narn cruiser to head for Babylon 5 in search of assistance. Tuchanq has suffered tremendous environmental damage from years of Narn enslavement.

Part One: Among Shadows (December 12, 2259, Day)

The story opens on Sheridan eating breakfast and trying to cope with the mounds of paperwork that he needs to deal with as well as his own discomfort in his role as commander of Babylon 5. His mind turns the phrase "If you go to Z'ha'dum you will die" over and over again as he contemplates life. (See In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum)

Ivanova interrupts his inner turmoil in order to be briefed on the arrival of the Tuchanq delegation. She remarks on the unusual fact that they are quadrupeds and after some jokes about the paper horizon and stations vanishing, he leaves her in charge of the matter. The problem for the Tuchanq is that their world's ecosystem has been destroyed by the Narn occupation.

"The Corps is your friend. Trust the Corps" Ivanova is still plagued with thoughts about her friendship with Talia and hears her whispered words, more than just the touch of bodies, the touch of minds. After shaking herself awake from her nap, she struggles to gain inner peace as the core shuttle heads towards arrivals. The inner struggle relates to her continued denial of her telepathic abilities and the need to hide it to avoid the Psi Cops.

Arriving in the customs area, things were already turning ugly. The Tuchanq were engaged in a bizarre ritual involving leaving blood on the floor of the arrival area. G'Kar had helped program a translator for Ivanova, but she turned out not to need it because they spoke System English. The ritual then involved cutting their throats and bleeding because their customs require returning something to the land.

Anti-alien sentiments begin to break out and Ivanova realizes the situation is quickly escalating out of control. Then a Narn spots a Narn skull attached to one of the Tuchanq and fighting begins in earnest. Ivanova is finally forced to stun the delegation with her PPG to prevent further violence. Unfortunately the Tuchanq do not sleep, at least not as humans understand the concept, and by making them stop singing their songs of being and journey through the stunner, they are now all dead (insane.)

The scene shifts back to Sheridan's office where G'Kar is imploring Sheridan to get the Tuchanq off the station and to make amends for the sole death from the incident -- a Narn. Sheridan refuses his request and G'Kar leaves in disgust.

D'Arc awakens surround by Medlab personnel and quickly realizes that her Song of Being is broken. She attacks one of the Medlab people with a knife which she withdraws from some sort of body pouch and flees with her Song of Journey running strong. In order to be whole again, she would need to steal a new Song of Being from someone else.

Londo Mollari meanwhile begins trying to jockey for a chance to meet with the Tuchanq. His conscience is still wracked with images of the bombardment of the Narn homeworld and their destruction of their civilization. Mollari meets up with Garibaldi who explains that the Tuchanq are "killing" each other to cure the insanity. Once the remaining sane Tuchanq break the Song of Journey they will be pronounced dead and be reborn with new Songs of Being and Journey. nu'Viel (their leader/mother) explains to Ivanova the urgency of catching D'Arc to which Ivanova points out the size of the station and their limited resources.

Brian Grond would become D'Arc's target. He would not realize this yet, but his taste for perverse (See Notes) sexual activities with aliens along with his need to record them would be his downfall. Grond was hoping to have an especially interesting encounter with Belladona with whom he had already had several encounters. Down Below he went to where he expected to find Belladona but she was not there. Then his eyes met those of D'Arc. He makes an offer to give her cash if she will take him to Belladona. D'Arc expresses her desire to murder him with a confusing discussion of the need to take his Song of Being, Grond merely replies yes and he heads off towards his death.

The PPG he is carrying does not save him when in the middle of a cargo hold D'Arc pulls the knife from her pouch and kills him taking his Song of Being. In the process, a cargo loader impacts a crane in the cargo area leading to the possibility of the crane impacting the station's structure and causing a rupture.

Franklin and other Medlab personnel head out to rescue the trapped crane operator. He goes out suited up because the area has become depressurized. Further he will have to amputate the crane operator's leg inside the suit. The timing is close to the wire and the crane does in fact impact the station but Franklin and the crane operator survive, barely.

Lyta Alexander appears briefly as we see her thoughts turning to the need to stay out of site and her desire to be able to visit the Vorlon homeworld. Garibaldi interrupts her reverie and asks for a telepathic favor involving Tuchanq. In a moment that recalls Lyta's first role in the pilot, she enters the Isolab to scan Tuchanq. Lyta explains that D'Arc is like a newborn child with no memory at any level of the events that resulted in Grond's death. As Lyta leaves Medlab she starts to hear the song, Kosh's song and realizes that nothing separates her from the Vorlons except some empty space -- and she does know how to deal with that.

This section of the book ends with a Gold Channel transmission from Earth ordering Sheridan to hold D'Arc for the death penalty.

Part Two: Hunting Shadows (December 12, 2259, Night)

This section opens on Jacintha Grond's arrival at Babylon 5 customs. (See Notes). She is surprised to be greeted by the ubiquitous press, specifically Debora Devereau of Channel 57 News. (See Notes). Grond is bombarded with a barrage of questions about how she feels on a variety of issues -- "What will you do if they won't release his body?". A security officer finally takes her hand and leads her away from the media frenzy.

Mollari meanwhile is scheming to provide assistance to the Tuchanq. With the help of Vir he manages to arrange a meeting with nu'Viel and her chorus. Exploiting their hatred of the Narn, Mollari is able to extend a credible offer of assistance.

Sheridan gets a chance to meet with Jacintha Grond who is rather confused and upset at this point. He explains to her that he can not release the body because it is needed for evidence and that she will have to basically deal with the situation. She explains that she intends to be on a return shuttle in 16 hours. Grond also takes her anger out on Sheridan explaining that she holds him personally responsible for the situation. Sheridan's inner frustration and turmoil is evident but he merely invites her to remain on the station and explains he will do the best he can.

Franklin's overuse of stims is starting to have a noticeable effect. His first chance of sleep is interrupted by the arrival of the executioner. The executioner wants to use the life giver machine, Quality of Mercy to perform the execution and demands it from Franklin. Franklin resists and the executioner summons Garibaldi who seems to have been waiting for this eventuality. Garibaldi recommends that Franklin comply by providing some bits and pieces to fool the executioner in the meanwhile.

Sheridan approaches Delenn in search of assistance and guidance. He is disappointed to realize that Delenn has already been approached by Earth Gov and has reluctantly agreed not to interfere. The reason she explains has to do with her post-chrysalis state and the likelihood that the Grey Council would overrule her.

On a core shuttle, G'Kar is attacked by Tuchanqs. G'Kar survives with only minor injuries and a closer examination reveals that someone has equipped humans with changeling nets to make them look like Tuchanqs.

Garibaldi was already plenty busy, he had found the executioner bludgeoned to death in the Mosque where he had gone to pray while Franklin produced the life-giver machine. A decision is made to pay n'Grath a visit to find out where the changeling nets came from.

Garibaldi has his teams scan red sector so that he can learn where n'Grath is to meet him. He stops in on Ivanova and they end up fighting about the upcoming execution. Ivanova fairly clearly against and Garibaldi somewhat indifferent to pro-execution. Their attempts to communicate are interrupted by Garibaldi's comm indicating that n'Grath has been located.

G'Kar and Vir encounter each other again and Vir is clearly still trying to figure out how to help G'Kar and the Narns. There last meeting had been several months back and had not gone well. G'Kar asks Vir whether or not Mollari had him attacked and G'Kar nonetheless hounds him further and leaves Vir feeling very uncomfortable. Vir of course is aware that Mollari did in fact plot the attack. (See Notes.)

Vir goes and tells Londo about his meeting with G'Kar and accuses Londo directly. Mollari refuses to answer the question, and provides no useful information about whether or not he had G'Kar attacked.

Garibaldi arrives in Red Sector too late to for n'Grath. The creature is bleeding and he calls for an emergency team to assist the alien. n'Grath refuses to divulge information providing only a name "Askari" and an admission that he did sell the nets. Garibaldi turns and catches the motion of a gun; instead he gets a blast in his face of a PPG. The faceplate of his suit ruptured.

G'Kar decides that he will handle Askari, a Centauri himself. Approaching Askari he grabs him and demands to know who hired him. Askari admits it was Mollari. G'Kar then leaves him for dead from the dagger wound.

Violence begins to erupt on the station as protesters for and primarily against the execution begin to start filling common areas. Grond is starting to have a crisis about what to do and resolves to go see D'Arc.

G'Kar comes in and attacks Mollari with his dagger. He leaves Mollari for dead with the dagger in his back. Vir arrives and removes the dagger and conceals it before summoning Medlab. G'Kar leaves with the intention of committing suicide.

In Medlab, Garibaldi comes around and then Kosh shows up and enigmatically mentions that "Obligation is a hangman's noose.". Meanwhile Ivanova brings nu'Viel to Sheridan to help lodge a protest against the death penalty being applied to D'Arc. As they are talking a gold channel transmission puts Sheridan in charge of everything -- trial and execution. After the transmission, nu'Viel decides that perhaps the Centauri a better choice to pursue aid from.

Part Three: Becoming Shadows (December 13, 2259, Day)

Jacintha Grond heads to security to visit D'Arc. She sees that D'Arc is clearly suffering from brain damage based on the erratic behavior D'Arc is demonstrating in the holding cell. Jacintha then decided to rent a room for the night and stay for a bit.

Vir continues to hide the dagger from security as Londo suffers in Medlab. Franklin has to put Mollari in cryo-stasis since without assistance of donor organs it will be impossible to save him. The idea of using the life-giver device comes up and Vir promises to try and seek volunteers. He discovers that none will assist Londo, they are all afraid of him. And Centauri Prime already has a replacement ambassador on the way. Vir also attempts to enlist the help of the Minbari who will not assist because of religious beliefs concerning diminishment of the soul. (Cf. Soul Hunter.) Vir also thinks of asking Kosh after he bumps into him, but decides against it after getting a sense of someone walking over his grave when talking.

Sheridan will not agree to Franklin's request to order people to donate life energy but agrees to assist in broadcasting a request for assistance on the station network.

G'Kar was still alive because without his dagger he could not perform suicide. Sheridan visits G'Kar and G'Kar shows him a different dagger thus "tricking" Sheridan into thinking he didn't do it. Vir returns the dagger to G'Kar later saying, "I said I was sorry."

Garibaldi starts getting the sense of the violence that is going to break out on the station on his way through the station that day. Protesters are all around with signs pleading to save the alien. Garibaldi true to form uses his fists to break up a fight and is caught in the act on camera by Devereau from Channel 57. Morden happens to be on hand and gets interviewed as the guy on the street. He says, "I suppose that all life is important in some way." Then as if nodding to himself, he continues, "Yes. That's what I believe. Life is important. If you know what to do with it."

Morden then continues to talk with Garibaldi and asks him about assisting in saving Mollari. Garibaldi rebuffs the suggestion pointing out he would die. Morden remains silent. Morden then shrugs and says "Then I'll consider the debt yet to be repaid." Smiling, he says, "Join me on the monorail?" Garibaldi is interrupted by Sheridan on the comm link and takes his leave of Morden.

The court chamber. Grond is looking on as the trial commences. Sheridan takes his place as judge; there will be no jury. nu'Viel is used as a witness for the prosecution to explain that D'Arc had murdered before. Sheridan responded to prosecution demands that nu'Viel restrict her answers to the questions, cutting her off regularly. (See Notes.) On cross-examination, the defense tries to bring out the issues about D'Arc's psychosis, which seems to fall on deaf ears. The defense calls Dr. Franklin to the stand for direct who explains about the brain damage and her child like state. (See Notes.) Sheridan recesses and on return finds D'Arc guilty on murder. As if on cue, chaos breaks out in the courtroom. Grond even agrees saying on TV that she feels justice is not served.

In Medlab, Sheridan tries to get Franklin to agree to sedate D'Arc. He balks and Sheridan begins to administer the hypo and Franklin agrees to do it only to prevent Sheridan from killing her by giving the hypo.

Garibaldi notices Morden leaving Medlab and that he has used the life-giver without the assistance of any others to save Londo. Garibaldi also realizes that the Shadows had a hand since otherwise Morden would be dead.

G'Kar can't bring himself to go through with the suicide because of his fear of what the future holds. He leaves his quarters to go out and shape the future.

Jacintha Grond goes to find her husband and sees he is missing. The station is descending into further chaos as the preparations for the execution procession commence. The execution will be in an airlock. Devereau grills Sheridan why such barbarism is being used to execute D'Arc and why there are crowds, etc. Then G'Kar arrived to beg forgiveness from nu'Viel. She grants him forgiveness. Then, all hell breaks loose.

Even Devereau had never seen violence like this. She managed to don a gas mask to aid herself. After enough of the violent protesters were downed with gas, the procession proceeded towards an airlock. Franklin makes one last attempt to block the airlock with his body. Delenn offers a very insightful comment stating:

This event has left in my mind an extraordinary feeling of terror and shame. It seems to me I have been witness to -- and indeed, party to -- an act of ... of shameful violence perpetrated by intelligent beings [glance to Sheridan] against one of their fellows. No matter what anyone might say, violence will never prevent violence.

After the death, a gold channel message comes in while they are all near the airlock. Sheridan allows it to be played there. No clemency from the Senate, either way it was too late.

257 Wounded. 53 Deaths, including a miscarried pregnancy.

Clark calls Sheridan to thank him. Sheridan is feeling sick on the inside.

Ivanova helps the Tuchanq delegation head off the station. The Tuchanq have accepted the Centauri offer.

Franklin and Garibaldi arrive together. Franklin is stating he wants to lodge a complaint. Sheridan deters him by explaining that Garibaldi and he had swapped the bodies, D'Arc is safe and actually Brian Grond who was already dead -- wearing a changeling net -- was executed.

The book ends with some words from Kosh. Kosh looks at him quietly. Like a mirror. Fear is a mirror. Sheridan speaks, "I understand now. Because I was scared I became devious. I took advantage of people and events to accomplish my own ends... ...my fear has enabled me to understand myself more clearly." Finally, Kosh said, "You are the light, yet the hope of all darkness." Pause. "You are touched by Shadows." Then Kosh leaves. The book ends with Sheridan realizing in a moment of truth that his life would end as it had begun with awe and wonder, pain and terror. And Shadows, always with Shadows.

Epilogue: Truth

"Earth: The First Truth": We see Clark contemplating the future in the Senate Chamber in late December 2259. He realizes that the actions he takes today will cause him not only to be remembered by the future but to define it. A quote next to the page explains how EarthGov has subpoenaed the footage from the execution to avoid scandal. Devereau (the anchor) also mentions that the death penalty has now been repealed to avoid scandal.

"Tuchanq: The Second Truth": nu'Viel stands surveying the planet now that Tuchanq is being "aided" by the Centauri. She realizes that in reality the Tuchanq song now belongs to the Shadows.

"The Rim: The Final Truth": Captain Varese finds his ship under assault by screaming ships. As he dies, he has a peculiar sense of deja vu about his final words, "They fired first."

The book ends: 2259:
It was Christmas Eve, 2259: the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind. The Shadows were coming.

Unanswered Questions



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