Babylon 4 returns as abruptly as it vanished, but its reappearance may bode ill for the future. Delenn receives a momentous offer.
We join Sinclair and Garibaldi in the dining hall. They are soon joined by a very tired Ivanova, who was awakened one hour early by C&C after mysterious tachyon emissions were discovered in sector 14, three hours away from Babylon 5. Though Ivanova believed the emissions were just routine, she authorized Alpha VII, a Starfury, to investigate the problem.
Alpha VII contacts Babylon 5 when it enters sector 14, and the pilot reports an increase in tachyon emissions. Though he doesn't see anything when he first arrives, the sensors register something, and he sees a large object materializing. By the time he figures out what it is, it is too late. "No! That's not possible! That can't be, it just can't be!" His last words fade into an agonizing scream as the Starfury is engulfed in blinding white light.
Ivanova calls Commander Sinclair after the pilot's last message. She is unable to contact the pilot on any open frequencies, but is still receiving the Starfury's homing beacon. According to the beacon, the ship is returning to Babylon 5 and will be there in one hour and fifteen minutes. Ivanova also reports that more bursts of tachyon emissions are occurring, and that one occurred when she lost contact with the fury's pilot. Sinclair tells Ivanova to make sure that Dr. Franklin is ready at MedLab in case there are any injuries that need to be tended to.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Delenn, in a Minbari ship, departs from Babylon 5. Though Babylon Control asks her if she wants someone to pilot the ship for her, she declines. "Some things one must do alone," she explains just before she enters the jumpgate.
Soon after, Alpha VII returns into scanner range. Alpha VII approaches the station, but does not enter the docking bay. A scan of the ship reveals that there is no structural damage and that hull integrity is okay, but there are no life signs. Soon after, Garibaldi returns to Sinclair and Ivanova with Dr. Franklin's report. "There was no damage to the body, no shock, no trauma. Everything points to death by natural causes." Though things seem ordinary at this point, when Garibaldi explains that the pilot, who just turned thirty years old, died of old age, Sinclair and Ivanova are understandably puzzled. "His internal organs are like those of a man three times his age," Garibaldi reports. Ivanova recommends that they send a team to investigate, in case there is a hazard to navigation, but Sinclair declines. "Not yet," he says. "Not until we have a better idea what we are facing. Meanwhile, I want all traffic routed clear of sector 14. Michael, I want that ship examined with a fine-tooth comb. Something fatal happened out there. I want to know what."
As Delenn reaches her destination, Sinclair, Ivanova, and Garibaldi discover another portion of the mystery. Garibaldi, after a thorough search of Alpha VII, finds the buckle off the pilot's safety harness. Scratched into the surface of the buckle is "B4." Ivanova speculates that "B4" stands for Babylon 4, the previous Babylon station that disappeared in sector 14 four years previous. Sinclair reports that the tachyon emissions from that sector were coming from the same place that Babylon 4 disappeared. The discussion is interrupted by communication from C&C, declaring that the station is receiving a distress signal from sector 14. "I thought I ordered all ships to stay clear of that area," says Sinclair. The technician from C&C affirms his orders, but then identifies the signal as coming from Babylon 4.
After the three arrive at C&C, Sinclair doesn't reply to the signal but instead orders Ivanova to retrieve the secure code of Babylon 4 from the station archives. "Ever since the war, every Earth Force command and control center was configured to broadcast its ID code on a subchannel," explains Sinclair. Garibaldi adds that the reason for it was to prevent counterfeit orders. Ivanova brings up the signal and it matches perfectly to the one being broadcast from sector 14. Sinclair orders the transmission to be patched through. "Earth station Babylon 4 requesting help. We need assistance," says the man on the other end. Sinclair responds, and the commander on the other end explains that they are caught in a flux with only 30% of their power and their escape ships damaged. They request help from Babylon 5 to evacuate their skeleton crew of 1200-1300. The commander of Babylon 4 looks nervous and begins muttering strangely. "Oh God. It's starting again. It's starting again," he says just as the communication is cut off. Ivanova notices that the date stamp on the message is four years out of date.
Though Garibaldi has a difficult time believing the station is Babylon 4, Sinclair prepares a fighter escort with an evacuation fleet to sector 14, determined to find Babylon 4. Sinclair makes a speech to the pilots of the ships warning them of the dangers and the previous death of the pilot of Alpha VII. Though he offers them a chance to withdraw because of the danger, no one does, and soon the fleet is sent off into space. Sinclair wants to learn the truth about Babylon 4, but also wants to take no chances. "If you don't hear from us in eight hours, notify Earth Central, but do not send additional ships," he tells Ivanova.
Meanwhile, Delenn reaches her destination, a gigantic ship, not unlike the one from Sinclair's memory of the Battle of the Line (cf. "And the Sky Full of Stars".) She boards the ship and is taken into a great chamber by a hooded Minbari. When she enters, she addresses the eight hooded figures around her, each of which is standing in an individual pool of light. "Summoned, I come," she intones. "In Valen's name, I take the place that has been prepared for me. I am Grey. I stand between the candle and the star. We are Grey. We stand between the darkness and the light." She is welcomed back by the council, but wonders why she has been recalled.
"It has been ten cycles," explains one member of the Grey Council, "since Dukhat has left this world to take his place with Valen and the nine who were. Ten cycles since our people have had a leader. The time of mourning is complete. We must now choose another." Another member of the council, the one who visited her on the station earlier, (cf. "And the Sky Full of Stars") explains that they have spent much time deciding who the next leader should be, and that they have decided upon Delenn as the leader because she has seen the most, and knows the most about the universe and other species. Delenn doesn't want to accept the position because she believes that her work on Babylon 5 has not been finished. She worries about a prophecy, but is assured by the council that it will take care of itself, and that an appropriate replacement will be selected for her aboard Babylon 5, and that her work there is concluded.
The fleet from Babylon 5 arrives in sector 14 to the sight they didn't really expect to see: Babylon 4. Though tachyon emissions are still present, Sinclair orders the rest of the fleet to approach the station. They encounter a distortion field near the station where tachyon emissions increase by 50%. Sinclair orders the fleet to remain back while he and Garibaldi investigate.
After docking, they are assaulted and shot at in the otherwise empty docking bay. "Monsters! I'll stop you!" shouts the assailant. "I know where you are! I see you! You think I can't? I've gotta get off this station. Come on, show yourselves!" While Sinclair diverts his fire, Garibaldi sneaks up on the assailant from behind and captures him. The commander of Babylon 4 then arrives to take custody of the assailant, who keeps insisting that he must be taken off of the station. After the three officers indentify themselves, Sinclair explains that they are from Babylon 5 and the year 2258. "We have to hurry. We have to get everyone off the station," says Major Krantz, the commander of Babylon 4. He is interrupted, however, by a flash of light that engulfs the station.
Suddenly, Sinclair finds himself elsewhere in the midst of total chaos. "Commander, they burned through levels seven and eight. Can't stop them. They're everywhere!" shouts Garibaldi, there with him, who is wielding an extremely large weapon, firing at a wall being cut through from the other side. "I rigged the fusion reactors for the time I'm done," Garibaldi says. "Get going, I'll hold them as long as I can. Jeff, it's okay. I finally understand. This is the moment I was born for!" Garibaldi pushes Sinclair into the crowd which carries him away, despite his protests, just as the wall collapses. Garibaldi and those under his command fire madly at the hole.
Another white flash occurs, and Sinclair finds himself back in his own time, aboard Babylon 4. Sinclair, very confused, asks Krantz to what happened. "It's different for everyone. A flash. Forward. Backward. All of us. The entire station. We've become unstuck in time, Commander. That's why we have to get out of here. Quickly!"
Back on the Minbari ship, Delenn is afraid of accepting the position of leader. "I cannot do it," she says. "I cannot accept the calling." She is told by another councilmember that no one has ever refused the position when offered it. Though Delenn yearns to accept the leadership of the council, her heart tells her that she must remain with Babylon 5 and that she has a part to play in the change that is coming. She wants to reconvene the Council to speak to them, something that has never been done. The other councilmember warns her that it might be a bad time, and that she must be aware of the consequences. She understands, and the council is reconvened.
As the evacuation of Babylon 4 continues, Major Krantz explains the problems they're having with Babylon 4 and the tachyon emissions and time distortions. "It started 24 hours after the station went operational. We began noticing discrepencies in the time track system. We thought it was a computer glitch. Then all hell broke loose." Sinclair asks if anything else unusual has happened, and Krantz replies by introducing him to a strange being called Zathras. "We don't know how he got aboard, where he came from, or what race he is. I've never seen an alien like him before," Krantz says, and describes how Zathras suddenly appeared with a flash in the conference room. When Sinclair enters, Zathras stands and stares intently at Sinclair, then shakes his head. "Not The One. Not The One..."
Zathras babbles that he does as he is told. "The One is hurt. Must find. Zathras must find. Help." When asked why he is there, Zathras responds by saying that he was told the biggest of all the Babylon stations was needed. Zathras is afraid to tell for fear that he will not be able to finish his mission, but explains further after being threatened by Garibaldi:
"Great war. Terrible war. Much killings. Everyone fighting. A great darkness. It is the end of everything. Zathras warn, but no, no one listen to poor Zathras, no. Great war. But, great hope of peace. Need place. Place to gather, to fight to organize...to help save galaxy on the side of light. So they tell me. Must have. Or it is the end of all. The One leads us. The One tells us to go, we go. We live for The One. We would die for The One. We pull this place through time to save us all."
When asked where he comes from, Zathras says he came from his year of 4993, but does not know what year that is in Earth time. An officer appears and says, "Major, it's back." Zathras, Sinclair, Garibaldi, and Krantz run out of the room to see a figure in a blue space suit. The figure is having considerable trouble breathing, and is flickering, as if in and out of time. Zathras is in awe. "It is The One," he says.
The figure in the space suit is apparently in great pain, but Zathras explains that The One will sacrifice himself for others and that he stopped the taking of Babylon 4 to let its crew evacuate. Sinclair approaches The One, who reaches out his hand to him. When Sinclair touches the gloved hand, a great shock sends him flying backward. While Krantz and Garibaldi tend to Sinclair, Zathras runs to The One and hands him a small device. "Zathras fixed," says Zathras. "Take! Hurry!" The One then vanishes completely, and Zathras tries to run away, but is captured before he can escape. "You must leave now. Finished we are," Zathras warns Sinclair. "There is no more time. Leave or be trapped here forever!" Sinclair orders Garibaldi to assist in evacuation.
Aboard the Minbari ship, Delenn addresses the Grey Council. "This Council stopped the war against the humans because of prophecy, because Valen said that humans, some among them, had a destiny, which we could not interfere with. It was my place to study them...to determine if the prophecy was correct. I have not yet finished that task." Another councilmember tells her that he believes that the prophecy refers to others, but Delenn does not believe it. The councilmember does not understand Delenn's attraction toward humans, but Delenn explains that "they do not seek conformity. They do not surrender. Out of their differences comes symmetry. Their unique capacity to fight against impossible odds. Hurt them, they only come back stronger. The passions we deplore have taken them to their place in the stars, and will propel them to a great destiny. Their only weakness is that they do not recognize their own greatness. They forget they have come to this place through two million years of evolution, struggle, and blood. They are better than they think and nobler than they know. They carry within them the capacity to walk among the stars as giants. They are the future. We have much to learn from them." The council cannot understand why she should stay with the humans, but Delenn believes it is the calling of her heart. Delenn is warned that if she leaves the council, she may lose her position within it and may become outcast. She is also warned that should she leave, the council may become divided. She understands, and says that she must do what she believes is right. The council votes on whether or not to honor Delenn's request. The vote ends in Delenn's favor, and the council withdraws its decision and sends Delenn away so they may select another leader.
While Garibaldi oversees the evacuation of Babylon 4, Major Krantz and Sinclair interrogate Zathras further. They demand to know what Zathras gave to The One. He explains to them that it was a "time stablilizer. Help survive when make next time jump." Sinclair then realizes that Alpha VII was caught in the time distortion and killed by it. Zathras gave his only time stabilizer to The One. He says that when the station jumps, he will die, but that he will probably be remembered for his sacrifice. Krantz threatens to remove him from the station, but Zathras also claims that if he leaves the station, he will die as well, though he does not want to.
The station shakes again, and Garibaldi reports that tachyon emissions have increased greatly. There is another flash, and this time Garibaldi finds himself in the past, at the moment when Lise decided that she could not live with him anymore. He wants to try to change things, but is too disoriented by the experience, and events happen much as they did before. After she leaves, Garibaldi finds himself back on Babylon 4.
Sinclair contacts Garibaldi, who says he wants to leave the station as soon as possible. Major Krantz agrees with Garibaldi, and insists that Zathras be taken with them when they leave the station. "For the next fifteen minutes," Krantz tells Sinclair, "this is still my command. I'm going to have to answer for this station, and I want proof to go with it. Alive or dead, he's the only proof I've got. And he's going with us." Sinclair, Krantz, and Zathras, led by two security officers, attempt to leave the station, but it begins shaking again, and Zathras is caught, trapped beneath fallen debris. Krantz and the guards run away, afraid for their lives, but Sinclair stays behind, trying to help Zathras. "Leave me," Zathras cries. "You must listen to Zathras. You have a destiny. Go. Please. Go for Zathras." Though he doesn't understand, Sinclair runs away and meets up with Garibaldi, who escorts him off the station.
The station continues to break apart, and as it does so, The One returns to the station to retrieve Zathras. Sinclair and Garibaldi escape in their ship just as the distortion field goes off the scale and Babylon 4 begins to disappear again. The One walks out of a chamber into another room. "Time distortion repaired," intones a computer voice. "Present time atmosphere now breathable." The One removes his helmet, revealing an older, and somewhat injured Sinclair. "I tried," the older Sinclair says. "I tried to warn them. But it all happened...just the way I remember it." A hand in a red dress reaches up an touches him on the shoulder. "I know," says a woman's exotic voice, a voice that sounds suspiciously like Delenn's. "It's time. We have to go. They're waiting for us." Sinclair and the woman leave.
Sinclair and Garibaldi from the present return to Babylon 5 and speculate along the way on what they had just experienced. "Do you think that bit was true," asks Garibaldi. "About a great war and Babylon 4 being a great base for somebody to try to bring peace to the galaxy?" Commander Sinclair doesn't know. "But if it is true," he says, "I wish them luck. The station was built to create peace. Maybe now it'll do so in a way nobody ever expected. But it's still on the same mission." They fly off back toward Babylon 5.
Not long after, Delenn prepares to leave the great Minbari ship. On her way, she meets up with a member of the Grey Council. He hopes to see her again, but Delenn believes that she will never see the inside of the Council Chamber again. The councilmember doesn't know, but before she leaves, he presents her with a gift, wrapped in a cloth. It is the Triluminary, a transparent triangle with metal edges. She doesn't want to accept it, but he assures her it will not be missed for a time because there are two others. "These are curious times," he tells her before she leaves. "I feel a great change in my bones. A new beginning, an end, I cannot say. We are surrounded by signs and portents, and I feel a darkness pressing. If ever you have need of me, I am here." She wraps the triluminary back in its cloth and returns to Babylon 5.
On the station, Sinclair talks to Ivanova about what happened. She expresses her regret about not being able to see Babylon 4, but Sinclair counters that they don't know where, or when, it was being taken. It might pop up again some day. He recalls Garibaldi's comparison of Babylon 4 and the Flying Dutchman - a sailing ship, he explains to Ivanova, that vanished, only to appear again and again over the ages. "Did the Flying Dutchman ever make it home?" asks Ivanova.
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