Contents: Back Cover - Synopsis - Questions - Analysis - Notes - Author
Written by Neil Barrett, Jr.
Release date: March 1996
ISBN: 0-440-22230-3 (US)
ISBN: 0-7522-0158-1 (UK)
Garibaldi and Sheridan battle a deadly rash of violence threatening the station . . . and confront a mysterious force spreading terror on Babylon 5.
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Babylon 5, designed to be a place of peace in a troubled universe, has erupted with riots as visiting cultures clash and passions explode. Security chief Garibaldi must use all his skills to quell the violence between races. But the troubles escalate as terrifying nightmares plague everyone on board from Captain Sheridan to Vorlon Ambassador Kosh. It seems as if some "force" is touching them all...
Then an alien presence appears. A long, twisting band of green light nine million miles long stretches out against the darkness of space on a collision course with Babylon 5. Since it remains invisible to computer sensors, some are calling it an illusion, others are calling it an evil life force. Still others are calling it God. Now it is up to Captain Sheridan and Garibaldi to find out, risking there lives, and perhaps their souls, to venture forth among the stars to meet the unknown...
The novel opens with Garibaldi sitting on a transport near the Euphrates sector jump gate. A friend who owes him from a World Series bet is taking him back home on a rickety transport. Almost as soon as they arrive, the friend offers to buy a drink. After Garibaldi refuses, his link beeps, ending any thoughts of peace and quiet. Garibaldi reports to Brown deck as request.
The Consortium of Live Eaters had gotten down to Brown deck and started rioting. Meanwhile a fight was breaking out at the Trinocular Film Festival and the Life in Transition group was starting a fight in the Main Hall. The LITs as they were called had created quite a stir, their belief that life was just a "mistake," led to a large counter protest outside the hall. Garibaldi convinces them to return to their conference room and posts several guards to keep them there.
Garibaldi finally gets a chance to meet with Sheridan who apologizes for bringing the Security Chief's leave to such an abrupt end. Ivanova arrives and Sheridan explains to them how the entire station has been erupting in violence. Also, a number of people have been having particularly violent nightmares. Dr. Franklin arrives late and explains that he hasn't been able to find a source for the disturbances. Garibaldi reiterates the request to lock the conferees up, but Sheridan explains that a number of the ambassadors have complained. (See Notes.) After ending the meeting, Garibaldi stays and asks the Captain if he has been having the nightmares too. Sheridan admits to having them without saying more.
Psi Corps member Martina Coles attempts to sleep and she feels something and yet nothing reaching out to her. Kosh stands in contemplation as something shakes "Kosh to the core of [its] alien being." (See Notes.) Ambassador Delenn, dreaming, finds a curved scimitar in her hand. A voice cries out to her, warning her to defend herself or die. The voice belongs to Sheridan, who kills her all the while talking about the end of a time for talking. (See Notes.) G'Kar dreams about destroying the Centauri ships as a hero in war. But the Centauri, specifically Londo use a new kind of weapon to disable the Narn and prevent victory. Garibaldi finds himself in a shuttle with Ivanova. The two argue about the controls with him finally attempting the landing. As they were about to make it, he realizes a battle is underway and he wakes screaming 'No!' and covered in sweat. His link beeps, trouble in Security Central among other locations.
After breaking up a fight between two of his officers by throwing them in the Brig, Garibaldi goes to handle the Fermi's Angels. The Angels are motorcyclists in space. Meanwhile, Sheridan plans a meeting along with Ambassadors for the next day about the incidents on the station. The invitation also includes Coles who Sheridan feels may have information. Then Ivanova calls from the observation dome asking him to come see something.
The Worm is 9 million miles long and half a million miles wide but aside from a green luminescence, it does not show up on anything but through direct observation. Sheridan orders a science team to investigate and they begin planning. He also contacts Earth Dome and the president's aide already knows about the vent. Sheridan is surprised that they are willing to admit that they have a mole on the inside.
Two things touched Martina Coles' mind. One was that strange thing that had brushed across the other day. The other was an alien. A Vorlon, Kosh. After shaking off the shivers and cold sweat that the feeling had brought on she goes to the ambassador's quarters. She asks him to stay out of her mind and he responds "You are . . . not ready to hear me." They "argue" a bit about whether there will be a time when she is ready to hear, but Martina flees the quarters in afraid that continuing will not get her anywhere and that she might loose her cool. She finally makes it back to her quarters in a state of terror. Garibaldi manages to handle the Angels by convincing them that he is 'hip'. And they give him a jacket and offer to give him a ride.
At the briefing the next day, the table was crowded. Ivanova had already positioned herself next to the door so that after Londo and G'Kar entered they would not leave and would stay at the table. The science team that Ivanova was organizing had not yet left. And Sheridan tried to get any information about the incidents. Kosh was of course absent from the meeting. Martina Coles balks at reading aliens for Sheridan in an attempt to figure anything out. She explains that her temporary contract has a clause excusing her from such requests. Garibaldi makes a reference to the alleged bomb planted in Londo by saying 'Boo!' and that calms Londo down again. After the meeting adjourns, Delenn talks to Sheridan and warns him that the station may be in worse danger based on her dreams. She warns that the races may all turn on each other and explains her dream in which he tries to kill her.
In the Observation Dome, Ivanova is surprised that the Worm is moving towards the station at a rapid click. The Worm would arrive within forty-eight hours. Lennier meanwhile was beginning to be affected by the Worm. When Coles accidentally brushed against him in the hall, he began to simmer angrily. Returning to his quarters he smashed a mirror and began to recall his dreams of roaming the halls with a spear and a loincloth. His goal, targeting the non-Minbari. The blood from his knuckles brought unconsciousness and sleep.
Franklin was under a tremendous amount of stress from the influx of minor injuries as well as the concern about the unknown plague that was afflicting the station. Garibaldi meanwhile also had his hands full with chaos throughout the station. He attempts to break into Coles' quarters, but she arrives before he enters. They argue briefly and she passes out. Garibaldi offers some aid and seems convinced that Coles is at the least not working against them.
Sheridan and Garibaldi discuss Coles and Garibaldi thinks she knows something but is too frightened to discuss it. Sheridan also explains that Earth Central is afraid of the Worm but unwilling to assist with sending troops. Back in Command and Control, Ivanova monitors the large science probe they sent to the Worm. Nothing. Not even video. They agree to prepare another probe, this one with a weapon to give off a little shock.
Sheridan sleeps fitfully. He dreams of the Minbari Grey Council. They ask what he fears. Delenn enters the circle from behind and asks if Sheridan fears her. The council disappeared and in darkness he found himself staring into a lit mirror, his face Minbari.
Again the Worm invades Martina Coles' mind and she screams in terror. And then a dream, actually a memory comes. Psi Corps had let a Narn come to her when she was sixteen to breed. Psi Corps hoped that it would be more powerful than anything they had ever produced. Martina ran away and nothing was ever said of it again. When she awakens, Martina reaches out to Kosh and asks to speak to him.
Sleep deprivation is hitting the command staff badly. Franklin has created a vile looking sleep pill that will enable a few hours of sleep without interruption by dreams. Delenn informs Sheridan that her world is now on full alert since they are afraid the Worm is a prelude to war. Sheridan gives Delenn one of the pills to assist her in sleep. As she falls asleep in his office she says she could never kill him, and Sheridan responds with the same.
Three hours of truly restful sleep was a great aid to Garibaldi who quickly prepared to go underground in search of the transmitter that was giving Earth Dome the inside track on station events. But, his investigation does not turn up anything immediately except that black marketers from Down Below have already begun to leave the station out of fear.
The Reverend Bobby James Galazy of the Universal Church of Solar Illumination has found the ideal opportunity to stir up further debate. He calls the Worm a chance to drive the heathen from Babylon 5. He claims that only humans are made in God's image and the others must be destroyed.
Meanwhile, a Centauri ship is heading towards the Worm. With Londo's help they manage to get the ship to return to the station with only minimal difficulty. The command staff agrees that everyone should be involved and share in the results when the station sends out its shuttle later.
Kosh tells Coles she is ready and to come to him. But Coles is already having second thoughts, but finally relents and heads towards Kosh. Kosh then opens a portion of his mind to her, revealing what he has determined about the Worm.
Ivanova is called upon to meet with the Consortium of Live Eaters and procure the return of a Centauri who had been abducted. They are a race that live in an acidic atmosphere and were not visited by members of the staff. After donning a special environmental suit she enters their chambers. They explain that they are preparing for termination of their community during the "Feast and Dissolution Ceremony" and the Centauri entered "willingly." They agree to return the Centauri and proceed with their ceremony without the Centauri. Ivanova watches them consume themselves in just a few brief moments.
Hilton Dowd, Clark's aide, explains to Sheridan how displeased the President is with Sheridan's responses thus far. Dowd mentions that military action is being considered. When Sheridan explains that anything like that should wait till after the manned shuttled expedition, Dowd explains he already knows of that and is expecting the results.
Ivanova and her scientific team including several techs and a Dr. Creighton Laramie of Barker Industries on Earth approach the Worm. As the shuttle draws closer, sensors turned up nothing. As Dr. Laramie described it, there is just the illusion of brightness. Ivanova contacts Sheridan before they agree that the shuttle will go through the Worm. As Sheridan agrees, one of the techs comes out like a loony with a spanner in hand. Another tech explains that a third tech is already badly injured and they need to return to the station to save his life. Laramie puts up a small fight about the need to return to the station, but relents.
When they get back to the station things have gotten out of control. Ivanova is sent to try and handle the bikers while Garibaldi tries to handle a situation between the Narn and Centauri in the Zocalo. After locating G'Kar, Garibaldi heads to the Zocalo. Mollari is already dead drunk and next to one of Garibaldi's guards in the Zocalo.
Ivanova has little success with the bikers till Garibaldi checks in via link and he convinces them to cut her some slack. They take off to come help Garibaldi in the Zocalo. Meanwhile, Garibaldi is pinned down with G'Kar but he notices that Mollari had been kidnapped by the Narn. G'Kar attempts to help them but given the general chaos little seems likely.
Once again Ambassador Delenn's dreams are intruded upon by the image of a fight with Sheridan. This time the setting is a joust in which Sheridan finally kills her as she pleads for him not to take her life.
Coles awakens to Garibaldi who has brought her back from Kosh's quarters. He gives her one of the sleeping pills. When Coles awakens, Sheridan and Garibaldi question her about what she learned from Kosh. She says she learned nothing, just that it felt like a ghost of something.
Sheridan resolves to speak to Kosh and goes to visit him. Kosh explains that Coles saw a fragment and that he is studying the worm, but can tell Sheridan nothing. As Sheridan pushes Kosh, he senses that the Worm is affecting Kosh also and Kosh finally withdraws asking Sheridan to leave firmly.
In one of the docking bays, Ivanova is trying to keep people from leaving the station. The crowd's mob mentality overwhelmed Ivanova and they stormed towards the freighter. The freighter attempts to take off, but the only thing that it succeeds in doing is rupturing itself, the hull and taking a number of lives with it.
Reverend Bobby James Galaxy continues to dream up his Final Plan. Dreams of destroying the aliens. Mass destruction, which he truly believed in. Franklin found that even with the pills, dreams came, terrible dreams. Him in Medlab being the subject of study. Franklin contacts Sheridan and explains that the pills can not be used repeatedly or that perhaps the ever-increasing proximity of the Worm is reducing their effectiveness.
Garibaldi was having no luck locating Londo, but he did discover that Laramie was the spy. Sheridan has Laramie put in the brig but before long Earth Central is on the comm with a pardon for Laramie.
Lennier begins acting out his dreams and puts on a loincloth and enters the halls of the station and begins attacking people. In Command and Control, Earthforce fighters have entered the sector through the jump gate and are heading directly towards the Worm. Sheridan contacts Earth and demands an explanation and asks that the ships be called back. Sheridan heads off with the station's Starfuries to intercept the Earthforce fighters and deter them from attacking the Worm. Through bullying, Sheridan is able to get them to head back to the station with him.
Then a jump point opens and a Centauri battle cruiser emerges near the Worm. To make matters worse, renegade Narn fighters led by G'Kar arrive and begin a space battle. (See Notes.) The three underground fighters continue the attack on the Centauri despite Sheridan's request that the come back to the station. G'Kar is captured by the Centauri creating a dual hostage standoff. But, the Centauri battle cruiser is also crippled from the battle.
Sheridan has Garibaldi bug Laramie's lab before allowing Laramie to be released. Garibaldi also discovers that as yet Laramie has discovered nothing of value. The two hostage holding parties each make demands for release of their respective hostages and then set simultaneous execution times.
As the Worm drew closer, Coles lay in a fetal position trying to ignore the memories inside her mind. Lennier sat making weapons like a madman. Delenn locked herself in her quarters and fell into nightmares in which she and Sheridan battled over and over. Sheridan saw himself transformed into a Minbari. Everywhere, chaos. Reverend Galaxy awakens with a plan.
Ivanova explains that a mad man, Galaxy, together with the Fermi Angels, was planning to blow up Babylon 5 as the Worm passes over. Garibaldi goes to Laramie and after some arguing, Laramie admits him. Laramie agrees to help.
Lennier and Garibaldi end up in a tussle that results in Garibaldi being stabbed. Delenn summons Sheridan to the garden where she attempts to kill him, first offering a weapon to the Captain. Sheridan is possessed with anger and begins to slash at her and then the power went out.
The Worm passed through the station. The power surge met Laramie's counter surge and all power went out. After the worm passed, the Centauri agree to release G'Kar for Mollari and vice versa. The station and the people on it begin to return to their senses, somewhat embarrassed about what they had done.
As some things begin to return to normalcy, there are apologies for bad judgments. And a final meeting about the Worm. Little was learned; Laramie, Coles, and Kosh each offer nothing of substance. Garibaldi is given free reign to deal with all of the resulting conflicts and claims and basically locks all the various parties in a conference room until they can settle the difficulties.
The book ends inside Kosh's mind. The alien had sensed a presence, "What are you...?", Kosh had asked. And a reply came as the Worm receded, "What are you?"
A writer comes in, has a notion for a book, or gets one assigned to him; the writer then goes away and around that notion writes 100,000 words or so. I don't see it again until the finished manuscript comes in, almost always at the last minute. The *only* way to make sure that every word of that is canon is to work hand in glove with the writer through every page. The reason the B5 series is as consistent as it is, is because that's what I do, day in and day out.
So the broad strokes are always going to be pretty much consistent with the series; of the next batch, we'll probably do some backstory in the B5 universe taken from my notes. But some of the details will always be off a bit, because you're turning the work over to the hands of others. There is simply no other way to do it short of my adding Editor and Publisher to my list of hats.