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Synopsis by Katrina Glerum (kat@midwinter.com)

The command staff arrives for breakfast to find Sheridan leaned up against the wall carrying on a conversation with himself. Their attempts to engage him don't get through, but his occasional outbursts of laughter disturb their conversation. Trying to form the non-aligned worlds into a union again is a daunting task, they agree, but one that must be done.

With an exultant shout, the Captain stands up and comes over to their table. "There has got to be an easier way to do this!" he enthuses, with his characteristic "I've got an idea" gleam in his eye. He orders Marcus to take three White Stars to a sector of Centauri border space and wait there for orders.

As he leaves in a hurry, Ivanova gets up and sniffs his empty coffee mug. "Just checking..." she remarks only half in jest. Franklin laughs that this is after Delenn has only been gone three days.

There is no laughter for Delenn, however. Lennier reports fighting in the capital, the opening salvo of civil war. In the next days she passes time in a chamber watching scenes of the capital city in all its splendor, and she weeps to think of it in flames. "Did I do this, when I broke the Grey Council?" she asks. Valen predicted that she would, but since he was Sinclair, he could not have known what would pass after the breaking. There is no prophecy to steer her course now.

What she does know is that the fighting must be stopped immediately, or they will all face a millenium of war. And so she goes to rendezvous with the leaders of the religious caste. She has also invited her old enemy Neroon of the warrior caste to meet her there.

Ambassador Mollari is baffled that the Captain is asking him to deny that the White Stars are patrolling the borders of Centauri space, especially since their presence there was for the sole purpose of inspiring the League worlds to allow White Stars on their own borders. As Londo launches into a tirade about human psychology, Sheridan reaches out comfortingly and smiling broadly says, "Trust me."

Delenn strides purposefully on board the waiting Minbari war cruiser into palpable tension, as she finds Neroon and a small party of warriors lined up opposite a welcoming party from the religious caste. Apparently Neroon's presence aboard the religious caste vessel has been met with a hostility just shy of violence. Delenn states that he is under her personal protection and demands to speak with him at once. She stares his adjutants down until they make way for her passage.

Lennier turns toward the religious caste leaders, and as he passes by they hiss their anger at the honor with which she treats Neroon. Loyal as ever, Lennier simply states that they must wait for Delenn to speak for herself.

Alone with Neroon at last, Delenn asks for his help. When he reminds her that the last time they met he intended to kill her to keep her from taking control of the Rangers, she states that despite their differences he has always acted honorably and to serve their people. She explains that neither the warrior caste nor the religious caste can win the war because it will unbalance their society.

With a fragile trust they sit to discuss. He argues that their "world gone mad" cannot be stopped easily, but she has a plan. Even though it will expose them both to the mistrust of their respective castes, he offers her his temporary support. Meanwhile, panicked civilians flee through the burning capital.

The Drazi Ambassador pounces on Sheridan in the Zocalo to ask about the White Stars which have been sighted on the borders of Centauri space. At first amiably and then curtly the Captain refuses to comment, leaving the Drazi more frustrated than ever.

After standing by waiting with his three White Stars for the Captain's orders, Marcus is not pleased to hear that he's gone all that way to destroy asteroids.

"I see," he says, mystified. "Shoot a bunch of rocks, and then leave."

Sheridan appears almost annoyed at being questioned, and tells Marcus to follow orders. Ivanova tries to question him too, but he blithely agrees that it was an unusual command and departs to find Franklin.

The Drazi Ambassador calls upon Londo for an explanation as well, but only meets with a categorical denial and a heap of insults thrown in for good measure. He is now deeply worried and quickly huddles with the other League ambassadors in the corridor. At that moment Franklin finds them and asks them each to ask their governments to send extra blood supplies for their species, just in case of an attack.

The religious leaders are also busy trying to figure out what Delenn is up to. She must intend to surrender, some say. One of them even eavesdropped on her conversation with Neroon enough to hear her say that the religious caste should not win the war. Another argues that killing someone so revered would split their caste deeply. So the first replies that they must martyr themselves and the entire ship to prevent her from reaching homeworld. They place a small time-release cask of toxic material in an air duct and prepare their hearts for death, unaware that Lennier has observed their scheming.

The Voice of the Resistance is about to begin broadcasting when Sheridan casually steps into the War Room. Just as casually he asks Ivanova to report that nothing happened today in sector 83x9x12. It won't be a lie, he argues, because it's true. Keeping bewilderment just barely at bay, the Commander goes on the air the next moment with this announcement, and advises everyone to please remain calm. This message and the intelligence that three White Stars engaged an apparently invisible enemy in an asteroid field drives the perturbed League ambassadors deeper into the arms of paranoia.

Standing in contemplation in the cruiser's battle command center, Neroon is suddenly attacked by one of his retainers. Delenn is furious. After Neroon is taken away for care and the attacker thrown in the brig, she asks the religious leaders to watch over him because his caste believes he will surrender to her, and thus will do anything to stop him. The religious caste members exchange a quick look, and one asks if they really don't intend to surrender.

"Don't be foolish," she retorts, and explains again that neither side can surrender to the other or there will be chaos. She shakes her head in dismay at the warrior caste who are so full of extremism that they would attack one of their own. Her compatriots' remorse only grows as she says gratefully, "But you. You are the steady rock beneath my feet." They realize that it is now too late to prevent their own pointless suicide.

But they did not count on Lennier, who is able to reach the cask in time to shut off the valve just as the poison begins to escape. "Have we fallen so far that we cannot even trust ourselves?" he asks them as he collapses from the effects of the fumes.

Neroon reports that Lennier is being tended by his personal physician, but until he recovers there is no explanation for how he was exposed to the toxin. When pressed, Delenn admits how deeply she cares for Lennier, that she is training him the way she was trained by Dukhat, and that she utterly relies on him.

Neroon tells Delenn that if their people are ever to understand why she treated him with honor, it will be because she taught them, and ruefully admits that he is finally coming to see why Dukhat chose her to succeed him. "I do not know what lies ahead, Delenn. But I do know that it is right that we are here."

The League ambassadors call a hasty council meeting. When Sheridan arrives, they present him with their demands. He must supply them with the same defense he is providing the Centauri. He balks, but they insist. He is only able to obtain the concession that they will give his ships the authority to intercept ships on their borders, and they will support his fleet in the event of a greater danger. Then they dismiss him. He is only able to contain his glee until he reaches the first lift.

Lennier regains consciousness only to tell Delenn that he smelled a leaking valve, but he denies the suggestion of warrior caste sabotage. As soon as she leaves, the religious leaders cluster around to ask him why he didn't tell her the truth. He explains that she lives in a world where everyone is better than they really are. When they thank him, he replies angrily, "I did it for her; I did not do it for you." Her faith in their goodness was more valuable to him than her knowledge of their weakness. And so they depart, deeply chastened.

The Voice of the Resistance announces the League's new border patrol initiative, and asks for news of the events on Minbar. Meanwhile, Neroon leaves the war cruiser stealthily. In his first message to his caste leader he announces with satisfaction that he possesses the religious caste's plans and victory is at hand.


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Last update: November 8, 1997