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Sleeping in Light
Babylon 5, episode 110 (5.22)
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2006 13:30:03
In Sheridan's final days, old friends gather to celebrate. Takes place twenty years after the end of the rest of the series.
Sheridan is dreaming: he dreams about Lorien reviving him on Z'ha'dum ("Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?"); and Lorien explaining that he will live for at most twenty years after his fall in Z'ha'dum ("Falling Toward Apotheosis"). He wakes with a start, and begins to get up. Delenn wakes up and asks him where he is going, and he replies he only wants to get some air.
He dresses in the robes of Ranger One, and walks to a balcony, to await the comng of the day. Delenn joins him; she didn't go back to sleep, and wanted to see what Sheridan was up to. They sit together, and Sheridan explains he wanted to see the sun come up; he has never done it since he got to Minbar, and wants to carry the picture of it in his head.
"You had the dream again," says Delenn, more observation than question. It is the third night in a row, and both of them know what it means. It's been twenty years since Sheridan died on Z'ha'dum, and he is almost out of time. "Do you want me to send the messages?" Delenn asks. "Yes. Send them," he replies. The sun starts coming up, and they both watch the sunrise, embracing in silence.
On Earth, General Susan Ivanova's secretary is letting her know her schedule: nothing important, really... Ivanova is clearly tired of the whole thing. "I feel like an old war horse," she says, "trotted out after a parade so all the kids can point at it."
Suddenly, a Ranger bursts into the office. A security guard is thrown to the floor, and the captain of the guard follows apologizing for the intrusion. The Ranger insisted, but the captain didn't think it appropriate (even though Ivanova had given orders that any Ranger was to be shown in immediately). "I have a message", the Ranger says simply as way of explanation. "Who from?" asks Ivanova, and he replies: "I think you know." He hands her the message. She reads it silently, and then orders a shuttle readied so she can go to Minbar. She'll leave within the next fifteen minutes.
In Centauri Prime, a Ranger is escorted into Emperor Vir Cotto's bedroom, where he is "entertaining" two ladies. Vir's mood sobers when he sees the Ranger, and takes the message. He orders all his appointments cancelled for the next few days. He doesn't need to read the note; he already knows what it says.
On Mars, Garibaldi reads a newspaper, when Stephen Franklin comes in with Garibaldi's daughter. They've just been playing tennis. Garibaldi is still married to Lise and running Edgars Industries. Lise is out shopping, and Garibaldi promises his daughter he'll come out to play her soon. She leaves, and Garibaldi asks Franklin when he is due back on Earth. By tomorrow, says Franklin; as head of Xeno-Biological research, he has a lot of work that needs to be done.
Garibaldi's daughter silently escorts a Ranger in. The Ranger gives Garibaldi a card, which he opens and reads. "Is that what I think it is?" asks Franklin. "Yeah," Garibaldi replies, "Sheridan's dying. He wants us to come to Minbar for one last get-together before... well, before." Franklin's office can wait; he'll book a flight out. Should he book one for Garibaldi as well, he asks? "John and I may have had our differences in the past," Garibaldi says, "but he is a good man, and he is my friend." He is indeed going.
In Tuzanor, on Minbar, Sheridan again watches the sunrise.
Later, Franklin is checking Sheridan over. He never really understood what Lorien did, or how he kept Sheridan alive. He can't really tell much, but his best guess is that Sheridan has 4 or 5 days left, a week at most. Delenn comes in as Franklin heads out. But Sheridan doesn't want to talk about it: he wants laughts, a celebration, not a wake.
At dinner, Garibaldi is telling a story involving a Pak'ma'ra, a dead cat, and a data crystal; Franklin, Delenn, and Sheridan are laughing, while Vir listens intently. Ivanova sits silently, absorbed in her own thoughts.
When the story is over, Vir recalls another incident. Once, on Babylon 5, he and Londo happened to hear a group of Pak'ma'ra singing; a very rare occassion, done for religious reasons but a couple of times a year. It was, Vir says, the most beautiful sound he had ever heard, full of sadness, and hope, wonder, and a terrible sense of loss. Even Londo was moved, a year running down his face at the sound. "When it was over," Vir continues, "Londo turned to me and said 'There are forty-nine gods in our pantheon, Vir; to tell you the truth I never believed in any of them. But if only one of them exists, then God sings with that voice.' It's funny. After everything we have been through, all he did... I miss him."
Sheridan proposes a toast: "To absent friends, in memory still bright."
They raise their glasses. Garibaldi: "G'Kar."
Franklin: "Ma..." but Ivanova interrupts: "Marcus."
Later that night, Vir is fast asleep on the balcony, as Franklin, Sheridan, and Garibaldi talk. Ivanova looks at them, still silent, and moves away. Delenn follows her, and asks if she is all right. But Ivanova claims she is. Ivanova asks Delenn how she handles it; Delenn has had twenty years to prepare. As much as anybody can be ready, she is ready. "But I'm going to miss him terribly, Susan."
"So will I," Ivanova says. "I've buried so many friends, Delenn. I'm beginning to resent it, and I don't want to. It seems like, some days, there's no one left to play with. There's no joy any more."
Ivanova tries to change the subject, asks where David is. Sheridan and Delenn's son is away on a Ranger training mission, and they made it clear when he joined that he would not receive special treatment. Besides, Sheridan wanted to see his old friends, and wants David to remember his father the way he was.
There is something else Delenn wants to talk with Ivanova about. When Sheridan refused to accept re-election as the President of the Interstellar Alliance two years ago, Delenn was elected. Unable to devote her attention to the Rangers, she passed the mantle of Ranger One to Sheridan. When he leaves, she will have to choose a new leader for the Rangers, and she would like a human to maintain the sense of balance she and Sheridan have achieved. In fact, she would like Ivanova to take the job. Delenn knows Ivanova is not happy with her responsibilities at home, and here there will be no politics or bureaucracy in her way. She can create something new, answering only to Delenn. Ivanova thanks Delenn for the offer, but she'll have to think about it for a while. She thanks Delenn for everything, and goes off to bed.
Sheridan joins Delenn, who tells him the others are putting Vir to bed. They head to bed themselves, but Sheridan is not sleepy. Tomorrow, he says, is Sunday. As a kid, his father used to take them out for a drive every Sunday. And he is going to go for a drive tomorrow. He'll go early, before the others are up. They've had their time together, said what they wanted to say. And Sheridan wants to feel space again, for he belongs in space.
Besides, he adds, the Alliance, Sheridan and Delenn... it has all become half legend, half mythology. If it ends on Minbar, prosaically... But if it ends in space, he can add to the mythology, make it easier for Delenn to hang on to everyone after he's gone. There will be more legend to remember.
In the morning, Sheridan dresses in his old Army of Light uniform, and prepares to leave before sunrise. Delenn, dressed up in white, greets him in the corridor. After all, it's Sunday, and one dresses up on Sundays. It's a perfect day for a drive. But if he really wants to go, he must leave now; the others will awake soon.
"Good night, my love," Sheridan tells her as they embrace for the last time, "the brightest star in my sky." "Good night," answers Delenn, a tear running down her cheek. "You were my sky, and my sun, and my moon." Tears in his eyes, Sheridan lets go, and slowly leaves, not looking back.
Sheridan makes his way to Babylon 5 on a ship by himself. The place seems empty, a single bored guard at the entrance. The commander rushes in, apologizing for being elsewhere, unaware Sheridan was coming. "I was just in the neighborhood and thought I'd stop by," says Sheridan, and asks where everyone is.
Well, the commander explains, nobody really goes there anyomore. The station has been superseded by the Alliance, has become redundant. Only the shutdown crew and a few others are still on board. Babylon 5 was returned to Earth a few years ago, but budgetary concerns will force it to close; they are getting ready to shut it down, and they'll have to scuttle her then, to prevent the station from becoming a hazard to navigation.
"Looks like we are still tied together," Sheridan tells the station, "even now." He goes for a quick look around, showing signs of fatigue. In an empty Zocalo, he finds Zack Allan, back in EarthForce security uniform, and limping.
Zack went back to Earth for a while, but got bored and came back; which explains why Sheridan's message didn't find him on Earth. Zack wanted to be on the station till they turned the lights off. He asks if Sheridan is staying for the decommissioning ceremony, but Sheridan simply says he can't stay, not even to grab a quick bite with Zack; he doesn't have time.
"I just wanted to come and have one last look around," Sheridan explains. He is on his way to the Coriana system, where they won the Shadow War ("Into the Fire").
Sheridan arrives at Corianna six, his life running out. Delenn, alone in bed back on Minbar, starts crying, as his ship floats, hanging in space. Sheridan turns all the systems off, and looks at the stars as he starts to fade out.
A bright light brings him back to consciousness, as Lorien's voice rings our, asking the questions that defined the sides in the Shadow War:
"Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here?"
And suddenly, Lorien is besides him, and continues: "Where are you going?"
Did you think we had forgotten you?" he adds with a faint smile. "We have been waiting for you." "Beyond the rim," Sheridan finishes for him, and Lorien nods.
"Can I come back?" Sheridan asks. "No," replies Lorien. "This journey is ended. Another begins. Time to rest now." Sheridan smiles, and light engulfes the inside of the ship. "Well, look at that," Sheridan says, looking into the light. "The sun's coming up." The light fades out, leaving the ship dark.
Ivanova: "An expedition to Coriana space found Sheridan's ship a few days later, but they never found him. All the airlocks were sealed, but there was no trace of him inside. Some of the Minbari believe he'll come back some day, but I never saw him again in my lifetime."
Ivanova joins Vir, Zack, Garibaldi, Delenn, and Franklin at the decommissioning ceremony of Babylon 5. They leave the station in a shuttle, passing between two rows of ships from all the races. The lights in the station are turned off, and it stops spinning. As the ships depart, the station is blown up, level by level, section by section.
"Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future, and it changed us. It taught us that we had to create the future, or others will do it for us.
Garibaldi returns to his wife and family on Mars.
"It showed us that we have to care for each other, because if we don't, who will?
Franklin returns to his job on Earth, helping heal both aliens and humans.
"And that strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places.
Zack goes to Centauri Prime and works for Emperor Vir Cotto.
"Mostly, though, I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings, even for people like us.
Ivanova accepts the position of leader of the Rangers.
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