An accident in the docking area kills a worker, threatening to spark an illegal strike. Londo interferes in an important Narn religious observation which leads to a confrontation between him and G'Kar.
Ivanova, on the Observation Dome, is faced with the less-than-pleasant job of scheduling half a dozen impatient ships for docking at B5. To make her life more difficult, the captain of one of the waiting ships - a Narn transport - calls in and claims to be carrying a perishable cargo that he must deliver to Ambassador G'Kar. The captain is unhappy at having to wait twenty-five minutes, and Ivanova tells him that she'll do her best to minimize the delay.
Ivanova calls one of the maintenance crews in the docking bays and asks them if there's any way they can open up a bay and let the Narn transport in. After telling Ivanova how difficult she's making things for the maintenance crew, the foreman of the crew tells Ivanova that she can send the Narn ship in.
Ivanova calls back the Narn transport and tells the captain that he may dock immediately; the captain only responds, "About time." The Narn transport begins the docking procedure, but as the ship enters the docking bay, there is a sudden accident apparently caused by the bay computers. Ivanova attempts to alter the Narn ship's docking course, and she warns the Narn captain not to try to pilot the ship himself. The captain, however, panics and starts his engines - he crashes into the side of the docking bay, and his whole cargo load is lost.
Meanwhile, two people from the maintenance crew have been trapped by the explosion caused when the Narn ship crashed into the docking bay. The two trapped people are brought out, but one of them - the foreman's younger brother - has unfortunately been killed.
In his quarters, meanwhile, G'Kar is observing the holy days of G'Quan - the particular Narn religious figure that G'Kar follows. As he's solemnly chanting, Na'Toth interrupts him, bringing the news about the Narn transport. She tells him about the accident and the destruction of the transport's entire cargo hold; she mentions that the "G'Quan Eth" (spelling correction pending) aboard the ship has been destroyed. G'Kar seems extremely distraught.
A meeting has been called concerning the accident in the bay. Neeoma Connally, a labor leader on B5, and Ambassador G'Kar attend the meeting with the usual B5 command staff. Connally is quite adamant in her belief that the laborers should not be blamed for the accident. When Sinclair suggests that the computer malfunction in the bay could have been caused by human error, Connally disagrees - but she claims that even if the accident *were* caused by human error, nothing else could be expected from an overwork and understaffed crew. Ivanova mentions that the accident can really be considered the fault of the Narn captain, who panicked and started his engines against Ivanova's direct orders, but G'Kar claims that the Narns are the victims of this unfortunate accident - and consequently should not be blamed. Connally, however, is angered by what G'Kar says - though the Narn ship was damaged, and though all of the cargo was destroyed, she feels the most serious catastrophe is that one of the laborers died because the accident. G'Kar offers perfunctory condolences, but he maintains that the Narn captain cannot be blamed - the captain's ship was placed in jeopardy and he reacted. After mentioning that he wants compensation for the damage, G'Kar abruptly leaves, claiming he must attend to a "pressing matter."
As G'Kar leaves, Garibaldi arrives and reports to Sinclair that the accident was indeed caused by equipment failure - it appears that the contractors installed sub-standard parts throughout the computer system. Garibaldi explains that it was probably by using these sub-standard microchips that the contractors could make such a low bid for the installation. When Ivanova explains how they'll have to reroute traffic to the other docking bays until new microchips can be installed in the damaged bay, Connally notes, "The problems dockside run deeper than a few microchips, commander." Sinclair tells Connally that he understands and that he's been trying to get the Senate to allocate a larger budget to B5. The meeting ends, and after Connally leaves, Sinclair is notified that he has a Gold Channel transmission from Senator Hidoshi - about the new budget.
Because all of the cargo on the Narn transport has been destroyed, G'Kar is desperately trying to find someone who can sell him a new "G'Quan Eth." Unfortunately for him, nobody seems to have any. Ambassador Mollari walks over to G'Kar and mentions that he's heard about the accident in the cargo bay. "If there is anything I can do to be of assistance, you will let me know, yes?" asks Londo.
"No," replies G'Kar - and Londo walks away, laughing. As Londo leaves, Na'Toth walks up to G'Kar and tells him that her research shows that nobody will be able to deliver a G'Quan Eth in time for G'Kar's impending religious ceremony. "However," Na'Toth continues, "according to import records, there is one being on the station who has it.... Ambassador Mollari." Londo, from the other side of the room, laughs a loud, shrill laugh at G'Kar and exits abruptly.
"Why does the universe hate me?" asks G'Kar.
Meanwhile, Sinclair is speaking with Senator Hidoshi. Sinclair is disappointed that the budget was not increased - he claims that promises were made to him.
"Political realities sometimes take precedence over good intentions," replies Hidoshi. "If President Santiago can turn things around - at that time, you may receive *some* of the money you requested." When Sinclair responds that there are certain safety concerns that won't wait for the government to turn things around, Hidoshi responds, "Our experts have assured us that your new budget is more than sufficient for safe and efficient running of Babylon 5. Commander, I have every confidence that you will make it work."
After Hidoshi closes the channel, Garibaldi tells Sinclair that the news about the budget has already become common knowledge on B5 - the station's business channels are broadcasting it. Sinclair calls for a meeting with Connally; Garibaldi points out that Connally will be quite upset because the dock workers didn't get any pay raises, money for new workers, or funds for upgrading equipment. Sinclair isn't surprised, however; he knows that since the workers' contracts prohibit them from quitting or going on strike, the Senate has no incentive to give the workers anything.
Ivanova, from the other end of the Observation Dome, calls Sinclair and Garibaldi over. She explains that the dock workers are all calling in sick; when Sinclair asks how serious the problem is, Ivanova replies, "Well, as far as we can determine, none of them are actually ill. They're just calling in sick."
"In other words, we have an illegal strike on our hands," points out Sinclair.
The dock workers have gathered near the docking bay and are airing their grievances - rather loudly and vociferously. "How much more of this do they expect us to take?" asks one worker. "I say strike," says another, and the whole crowd begins chanting, "Strike! Strike! Strike!"
Connally interrupts them angrily: "Stop it.... I don't want to hear the word 'strike' any more," she tells them. She says that they'll listen to all of the complaints, but she tells the workers to "try to keep a cool head during the management negotiation." Suddenly, Garibaldi arrives and walks over to Connally - he wants to escort her to Sinclair, who has already requested twice that she see him. "I've been tied up. I got a lot of sick workers here," Connally replies.
When the workers start to pretend to cough, Garibaldi is annoyed. "You think this is funny, huh? Well, I don't."
"We're as serious as a rip in a spacesuit," replies Connally, "and we want the Senate and Commander Sinclair to know it."
"By staging an illegal strike?" asks Garibaldi. "I thought you were smarter than that."
"Sinclair and Ivanova are career military," replies Connally. "I don't expect them to understand. But I figure you for blue collar under all that Earthforce grey."
Garibaldi explains that he understands their dilemma, but he feels that they're handling the problem incorrectly. He explains to her that Sinclair wants to speak with her about other possible solutions, and she eventually allows herself to be escorted to Sinclair. As they're leaving, Garibaldi tells Connally that Sinclair wants to help, but Connally is still skeptical.
When Connally arrives, Sinclair urges her to send her people back to work - if she doesn't, Sinclair is afraid that the Senate might invoke the Rush Act, a law which might force Sinclair to use troops against the striking laborers. Connally doesn't feel that the Senate has the "guts to do that" (because it would inflame public opinion), but Sinclair notes that "things are changing" on Earth and that Connally shouldn't discount the possibility of the Rush Act being invoked. Sinclair tells Connally that by going this far, she's already made her point - and Earth Central will be made aware of the laborers' grievances. She replies that she can't send her people back to work without guarantees from Sinclair, but Sinclair tells her that he can't give her any guarantees unless her people return to work. Sinclair asks Connally to trust him, but Connally replies that the Senate controls the money - and she refuses to trust the Senate. Garibaldi points out the possible uproar of violence that might result from a clash between the workers and the government - he mentions how angry the workers seemed when he was down near the bay, but Connally assures him that the workers won't be the first to use violence - they will only defend themselves. When Sinclair tells her that he doesn't feel she fully understands the consequences of her actions, she only replies that she's quite aware of the consequences - her father was killed during a strike on Ganymede in 2237. "I have spent my entire life defending workers' rights," she tells Sinclair, "and I'm not about to stop now." She says that her people won't return to work until they are provided with better pay, higher wages, and more people.
After Connally leaves, Ivanova calls Sinclair and tells him that there is another transmission for him from Senator Hidoshi.
Meanwhile, as Londo is entering his quarters, he notices that G'Kar is already inside. "You left your door unlocked, ambassador. Careless of you. I thought it best to sit here and guard your room until you returned," says G'Kar. Londo taunts him, mentioning that the holy days of G'Quan will end very soon. G'Kar isn't in the mood for games, however: "You know why I'm here," he says.
"The G'Quan Eth plant, yes?" responds Londo. "Difficult to grow, expensive to transport, very expensive to own, but so very important to you at this festive time." G'Kar reluctantly tells Londo that he wants to buy the G'Quan Eth plant. Londo replies that he's been saving the plant for a "special occasion" - he explains to G'Kar that when the G'Quan Eth's seeds are dropped into a mixture of alcohol, the results can be quite ... enjoyable. G'Kar grimaces, but Londo continues, "It's a shame you Narns waste them, burning them as incense." G'Kar angrily interrupts Londo and asks how much Londo is willing to sell the plant for; Londo replies, "You are asking for quite a sacrifice from me, but in the interstellar peace and friendship, ummm, fifty thousand commercial credits, in cash, in advance." G'Kar is enraged, but when he tells Londo that that price is an outrage, Londo simply responds, "Of course it's an outrage. The question is, how important is your religious ceremony to you?" G'Kar leaves quite angrily amid Londo's loud laughing.
On the Gold Channel transmission, Hidoshi tells Sinclair that Earth has been hearing reports of an illegal strike on Babylon 5. Sinclair claims that those reports are exaggerated, though he does admit that there's a problem. Hidoshi replies that such a strike would endanger B5 and would set a bad precedent for all of Earth's off-world interests. Hidoshi tells Sinclair that the Senate has sent Orin Zento ("our best labor negotiator," according to Hidoshi, "[who] has stopped this kind of thing before on many of our stations") to B5 - he will be there within twelve hours. "I expect you to give him your full cooperation, and that includes providing troops if he decides the Rush Act is necessary." Sinclair responds that it would be dangerous to invoke the Rush Act on a station with more than one thousand dock workers; Hidoshi replies that the presence of so many dock workers is another "reason to end this thing decisively before it spreads."
When Zento arrives on B5, Sinclair schedules him for a meeting with Connally. Zento tells Sinclair that he wants to speak with Garibaldi; Zento wants to be ready in case he must invoke the Rush Act.
Meanwhile, G'Kar calls Londo and tells him that he has arranged payment for the G'Quan Eth. Londo, however, tells G'Kar that he has changed his mind - the G'Quan Eth is no longer for sale. "Consider this a small - a very tiny - portion of revenge for what you did to our colony on Ragesh 3, and to my nephew. Did you think that I had forgotten that?"
G'Kar, in his quarters, is enraged at Londo. After Londo closes the communication channel, G'Kar yells, "I'll kill him with my bare hands.... Sinclair can only kick my off the station [because of diplomatic immunity]. He might even thank me!" After he calms down, he begins talking with Na'Toth. He knows she's not a follower of G'Quan; she explains that her father followed a different religious figure than G'Quan, and her mother "didn't believe in much of anything." She explains that she only believes in herself. Eventually, G'Kar explains that there's still one thing he can do to get the G'Quan Eth; though he says that he hates having to use this plan, it's the only option remaining. He tells Na'Toth that there's something she can do to help him, however, in case his plan fails. Na'Toth agrees to help.
Orin Zento arrives at a gathering of the dock workers, who don't take particularly well to Zento's assurances that he "understands" their situation. When Zento tells the workers that if they abide by their contracts and return to work, Earth Central will look into the workers' problems; Connally, however, replies that the workers' "problems" have already killed a man, and as the elected representative of the workers, she can't allow that to happen again. Zento claims that despite the recent accident, the government experts assure him that there are enough dock workers on B5 for the next few years and that the workers already have adequate equipment. The workers react badly to this line of argument, however - the foreman, whose brother was killed, replies, "... you can damn well get your 'experts' to run [the] docks." Just as tempers begin to get hot, Sinclair suggests that a recess be called and that the negotiations continue the following day. Both parties agree.
Sinclair, back in his quarters, suddenly gets a message from Zento. Zento tells him that he's heard rumors that the workers have abandoned their pretense of being "sick" and have officially declared a strike. Sinclair tells Zento that he's sure the rumors are no more than mere rumors, but Zento brusquely responds, "Don't play games with me, Sinclair. I know all about you. You've let this situation escalate out of all proportion, and you can bet the Senate's going to get a full report." Zento warns that if Connally and the workers continue to strike, Zento will invoke the Rush Act. Further, Zento warns that Sinclair's troops "had better be ready" to enforce the Act.
Just as Zento closes the channel, the communicator beeps again. This time, G'Kar is on the channel - he says that he must meet with Sinclair to discuss a very important matter. Sinclair agrees, but only after G'Kar notes that he "wouldn't want to burden" Sinclair further by raising this matter before an entire assembly of the council.
Sinclair arrives at the council chambers to meet with G'Kar. "Are you telling me this is about a flower?" asks Sinclair after G'Kar explains the situation.
"Not just a flower, commander. The very symbol of my faith," replies G'Kar. He explains that all followers of G'Quan must perform a ritual using the G'Quan Eth plant at a particular time in the year ("when our sun rises precisely behind the G'Quan Mountain," says G'Kar, who also explains that people who aren't on the Narn homeworld must observe this ritual at the same time as those who *are* on the homeworld). Each year, the people who celebrate must acquire a new G'Quan Eth plant for the ritual - and now, the only person on B5 with a G'Quan Eth is Ambassador Mollari. Because this ritual is the most important of G'Kar's beliefs, because G'Kar is the highest ranking member of his faith aboard B5 (and must therefore provide the G'Quan Eth to followers of G'Quan on B5), and because G'Kar feels that it is sacrilege for Londo to possess a G'Quan Eth (for the plant rightfully belongs to the Narn, according to G'Kar, and was stolen from the Narn homeworld during the Centauri occupation), he asks Sinclair to help him. Sinclair agrees to attempt to help G'Kar.
To try to get the G'Quan Eth plant for G'Kar, Sinclair visits Londo. Londo, however, refuses to give the plant to G'Kar: "You know I would do anything for you, my good friend, Commander Sinclair - but not this.... This isn't about ... spiritual beliefs. G'Kar is only worried about losing face. The Narns - they're a barbaric people. They're all pagans, still worshipping their sun. No, I would rather burn the plant than give it to him." Sinclair leaves, and tells G'Kar - who has been waiting outside - that he's sorry, but that Londo would not listen. Sinclair, at that moment, is called to the briefing room by Ivanova. As the commander walks away, G'Kar calls Na'Toth and tells her, "Proceed!"
At the briefing room, Zento and Connally are again arguing. The talks are obviously getting nowhere; Zento says that he refuses to accommodate illegal strikers, and when he tells Connally that he strongly recommends that she send her people back to work, she simply replies, "Stuff it!" Zento says that he refuses to "pander to these people anymore" - he says that after he receives confirmation from the Senate (which he claims he'll have within the hour), he will invoke the Rush Act.
On the way to the docking bay, Sinclair urges Connally to try to end this matter peacefully by sending her people back to work. She says she's sorry that this whole thing had to happen on B5, but she also maintains that it's too late for the workers to back down - they're tired of the abuses and they will finally stand up for their rights.
On the Observation Dome, the reporter from ISN (cf: "Infection") is trying to get Sinclair to comment on the labor situation. When Londo and G'Kar suddenly arrive, screaming at one another (Londo demands that Sinclair arrest G'Kar, for he claims G'Kar has stolen a statue of a Centauri deity; G'Kar responds that he has been in the presence of witnesses for the past few hours and has not stolen anything; Londo replies that G'Kar's "attack dog, Na'Toth," must have stolen it - but on G'Kar's orders), Sinclair gets rather annoyed at the disturbances. He tells Londo, G'Kar, and the reporter to leave the observation dome immediately (and threatens that if they don't leave, he'll place them in the brig). Londo claims that he's going to file an official protest, while G'Kar says that he's going to file *two* official protests.
Just as everyone leaves, Garibaldi enters. At that moment, Senator Hidoshi calls in. Hidoshi tells Sinclair that - though Hidoshi would personally want Sinclair to handle the situation as Sinclair best sees fit - Zento has convinced a majority of the Senate to invoke the Rush Act. When Sinclair replies that the only possible result of the Rush Act can be a violent confrontation, Hidoshi says that he knows that - and he fears that a violent confrontation is exactly what some people want. Sinclair reluctantly tells Garibaldi to mobilize his troops, and asks Ivanova to bring him the full text of the Senate order.
Down in the docking bay, when the workers find out that the Senate has invoked the Rush Act, they are angered but are prepared to defend themselves. When Garibaldi arrives with a few security officers, a fight breaks out.
Amid the fight, Connally is arrested and dragged away by Garibaldi. As Garibaldi leaves the docking bay, he meets Sinclair and tells him that the security forces are ready to flood the bay with a somniferous gas and arrest the dock workers while they're asleep. Both Sinclair and Connally are angered by the fight, and both claim that they wanted to avoid this confrontation. Garibaldi, however, points out that the fight was started by the foreman whose brother was killed; the foreman, according to Garibaldi, threw the first punch. Sinclair tells Garibaldi to have his men to pull out of the docking bay. When Sinclair enters the docking bay, the workers temporarily calm down and let Sinclair speak.
"Under the Rush Act," begins Sinclair, "the Senate has empowered me to end this strike. I'm authorized to use any means necessary." After confirming this fact with Zento, and after Sinclair is assured that he has Zento's full support, Sinclair explains what "necessary means" he's going to use to stop the strike: First, Sinclair will reallocate 1.3 million credits from B5's military budget in order to begin necessary upgrades of docking equipment and to start hiring more workers. Second, Sinclair will declare a complete amnesty for dock workers who have struck but who have committed no other crime. Zento angrily protests, but Sinclair comments that it was Zento who allowed Sinclair to use these means by convincing the Senate to invoke the Rush Act: "You should never hand someone a gun unless you're sure where they'll point it," says Sinclair. Sinclair adds that no charges will be pressed against the workers who were involved in the fight against the security officers; on this point, Garibaldi and the foreman shake hands. Sinclair finishes by saying that all of these actions are dependent upon the workers' returning to work immediately; Connally agrees, and the workers begin work again. As the workers get back to work, Zento angrily tells Sinclair, "You know damn well you twisted the intent of that order, and you won't get away with it."
"I think Ms. Connally said it best the other day - 'stuff it!'" replies Sinclair. Connally thanks Sinclair and apologizes for underestimating him.
After Connally leaves, Garibaldi politely tells Sinclair, "You look like week-old bread. Why don't you get some sleep?"
Just then, however, Ivonova calls Sinclair and tells him that he'd better come quickly because - "G'Kar and Londo are approximately half an inch from killing each other," she says.
When Sinclair arrives, he tells G'Kar to return Londo's statue. G'Kar protests - he still claims he never stole the statue - but Sinclair isn't in the mood for games. Next, he tells Londo that dangerous chemical composition of the G'Quan Eth plant makes it illegal to possess except for legitimate medical or religious purposes. Londo laughs, saying that the plant is no more harmful than a bottle of Earth whiskey; Sinclair merely tells him to file an official protest if he wishes - but to turn over the plant anyway. Sinclair mentions that Londo will be fully compensated for the plant, of course. Londo, at length, agrees. "I have already gotten my enjoyment from it anyway," says Londo. After Londo leaves, Sinclair tells G'Kar that once Londo's statue is returned, Sinclair will turn over the G'Quan Eth plant to G'Kar - of course, G'Kar will compensate Londo for it.
"Why should I turn the statue over - assuming that I knew where it was - when it's already too late for the ceremony? Mollari knows that - that's why he gave in so easily."
Sinclair tells G'Kar that light travels through space. Therefore, although the ritual must be performed in the sunlight that has touched the G'Quan mountain at a particular time, and although that particular time has already passed this year, the light that touched the G'Quan mountain ten years ago will reach the station in a few hours. "[The light has] been on a long journey, but it's still the same sunlight. Good enough for you to conduct your ceremony - wouldn't you agree?"
"Yes, it might be. Commander, you are a far more spiritual man than I gave you credit for," replies G'Kar.
"There are a couple of Jesuit teachers I know who might disagree with you," says Sinclair. When Sinclair reminds G'Kar to return the Centauri statue, G'Kar replies that he's sure a careful search will turn it up. As Sinclair leaves, smiling broadly, G'Kar thanks him.
Sinclair returns to his quarters and instructs his computer to hold all transmissions; however, when the computer replies that there is one transmission holding, Sinclair tells the computer to send the message through. The message is from Hidoshi, who tells Sinclair that he admires what Sinclair has done on B5 concerning the labor situation - however, the Senate doesn't. In this instance, however, the Senate has allowed Sinclair's decision to stand without comment - because public opinion is on Sinclair's side. Hidoshi tells Sinclair that he sympathizes with his decision - and is glad to see the discomfort it has caused some of his colleagues (for Hidoshi's grandfather was a dock worker himself). He is calling just to warn Sinclair that Zento has powerful friends, and that by embarrassing Zento, Sinclair has made new enemies in the government. "If I were you, commander, I would watch things very carefully. You are not the most popular person in government circles right now."
After Hidoshi closes the communication, Sinclair says to himself, "So, what else is new?" and finally goes to sleep.
Meanwhile, G'Kar is successfully carrying out his religious ceremony. "The gift of time, the gift of life, the gift of wisdom, the gift of light. For these things, were are thankful. For these things, we pray," says G'Kar, solemnly, and the ceremony continues, thanks to Commander Sinclair.
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