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A Distant Star
Babylon 5, episode 26 (2.4)
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2006 13:30:03
Disaster strikes an old friend of Captain Sheridan. Dr. Franklin offers nutritional advice to some reluctant patients.
At C&C, Ivanova delivers a message to Sheridan from Captain Maynard of the Cortez. The Cortez is coming to Babylon 5 to pick up supplies. Ivanova notices that they are asking for a lot of supplies, and Sheridan explains that it is because they have been travelling for five years. The Cortez is an Explorer ship, a rare sight for most people since such ships are nearly always out mapping the edges of known space. Sheridan is informed that the ship is coming through the jumpgate, and everyone is amazed by it; it's nearly as long as Babylon 5 itself. Sheridan tells everyone at C&C to take a good look.
Sheridan and Captain Jack Maynard of the Cortez spend some time getting reacquainted. Maynard talks about some of the mapping he did on the rim, and says that he returned to fix one of the Euphrates jump gates and to resupply.
Delenn approaches them, and Sheridan introduces the two. Delenn makes a request to convene the council to discuss the problems in sector 19, and Sheridan agrees to do so. Maynard is confused about Delenn's apperance, not understanding how a Minbari can look so unusual.
"There's the story she told us," Sheridan explains, "but then the Minbari never tell you the whole truth."
Maynard agrees. They talk about Babylon 5, and Sheridan talks about how busy the job is keeping him. Maynard says that he never thought Sheridan would accept such an assignment.
Garibaldi is in MedLab, being examined by Dr. Franklin. Garibaldi says that he appreciates Franklin's help, but eats whatever he wants whenever he wants, and as much as he chooses. Dr. Franklin says that Garibaldi can no longer do that, as he is iron-deficient and has high blood pressure. Dr. Franklin says that, to remedy the situation, Garibaldi needs to be put on a restricted diet. Garibaldi objects, saying that it is almost time for him to make Bagna Cauda, an Italian fondue that contains olive oil, garlic, butter, anchovies, and other ingredients, but Franklin says he shouldn't have it, and that he should stay away from salt and bread especially. Garibaldi says that, without those things, he can't make Bagna Cauda. Dr. Franklin still won't allow Garibaldi to eat it, and gives him a list of other things he shouldn't eat. Garibaldi looks at the list and is angered that most of his favorite foods are there.
Dr. Franklin says that he is serious and that this gives him the opportunity to call in the ranking officers for a nutritional profile, as they probably all have poor eating habits.
Sheridan tells Maynard about his first day on Babylon 5, regarding the Narns and Centauri, the Vorlons, the Minbari's feelings toward him, and Delenn's chrysalis. Sheridan says he is handling things one day at a time. Maynard says that he never imagined Sheridan would be on the station. He wonders why the President would choose someone the Minbari didn't like. He also wonders how Sheridan is doing, since this job was not what he was trained for. Sheridan says that he can make a difference on Babylon 5, and that doing that is important. Maynard doesn't understand how Sheridan could be satisfied with a desk job, but Sheridan says, "Well, it's a hell of a desk to be tied to."
Garibaldi reports to Sheridan about a recent wave of shoplifting cases. Sheridan is upset that Garibaldi would come to him with such a minor problem. He says that he is sure Garibaldi can handle the problem, and expects a full report as soon as the guilty parties are apprehended. Garibaldi thought that Sheridan wanted to know everything that happened on the station. Sheridan says he wants to know everything important that happens, but wants Garibaldi to take care of the details.
Sheridan, Ivanova, Warren Keffer, and the leader of Zeta Squadron are in the officer's lounge, listening to some of Captain Maynard's stories about the rim. Maynard says he wants to hear their stories, but the others say that his stories are more interesting. Keffer asks Maynard where he is headed next, and Maynard says that he is going back to the rim to build jump gates so the area can be explored. Ivanova asks about Maynard's experiences in hyperspace, but Maynard is unsure what she means. Keffer tells Maynard about the Universe Today article a few months earlier asking if something was living in hyperspace. Maynard isn't sure about the answer to that, but does say that he has seen something out there, and that it is "stranger than any one of us can imagine."
Sheridan escorts Maynard back to his quarters, and asks if his comments about hyperspace were true, or if he made it up. Maynard says that they were true. "Well," he continues, "it wasn't in hyperspace, though. But you know, things can get kind of weird out on the rim, too. It's funny. You never know what you're going to find when you look over the edge of what's known and into what's not. We were in sector 857. I took my nav officer, Lietuenant Patrick, with me for a look around in one of our scout ships. Well, I noticed that we'd gotten out of sight of the Cortez, and I was, I was just about ready to turn back when I saw something. It was maybe a thousand kilometers away - black against space. Now, the reason that I knew it was there is that it blotted out the stars behind it. I don't know the exact shape of it, but...it was big. I turned to Pat, to ask him if he could see it, and when I looked back, it had vanished."
Sheridan tells Maynard that he is the second person in a month to tell him that something strange is happening out on the rim. He asks if Lieutenant Patrick saw anything. Maynard says he only saw a blink - a change in space. "He doesn't know what it was any more than I do," Maynard continues. "But it's there. And it was real. It still sends a shiver up my back when I think about it."
Garibaldi is talking with a young man named Orwell. Orwell tells Garibaldi that it will be very difficult to obtain the items he wants. Garibaldi says he can pay for it, but Orwell thinks it will be difficult to obtain because Garibaldi won't accept substitutes, and it is extremely difficult to find the items. Garibaldi offers a bonus and tells Orwell not to mention anything about it to Dr. Franklin.
Meanwhile, Sheridan is in MedLab, talking to Dr. Franklin, who says that Sheridan should lose ten pounds, and should avoid meat, fat, and should eat lots of vegetables.
"I'm not sure I understand the intent of this meeting, Teronn," Delenn tells the Minbari who is speaking with her.
He explains that the other Minbari on the station are afraid that Delenn is no longer one of them.
"I am more 'one of us' at this moment, than I have ever been. More than you will ever know," she tells him. She says that she appreciates the concern, but says she can't tell him anything else.
He tells her that they need to understand what has happened.
"Understanding is not required. Only obedience."
Teronn says that they would be obedient if they could be assured that she was still one of their own kind. He says they have the right to know if she is. "If you can not give us what we need," he continues. we will ask permission to send a representative to speak directly with the Grey Council...unless you object." She does not object. Teronn leaves.
Dr. Franklin tells Ivanova that she too needs to go on an increased diet in order to replenish deficiences in calcium, iron, and other minerals that are hampering the healing of her leg. He hands her a food plan, and after looking at it, she protests that she will gain weight. As she leaves angrily, she says, "Figures. All my life, I've fought against imperialism. Now, suddenly, I AM the expanding Russian frontier." As she leaves, Dr. Franklin adds, "But with very nice borders."
Sheridan escorts Maynard to the Cortez. Sheridan tells Maynard that he wishes he were going along. Maynard says he understands Sheridan's feelings, but does regard his job as just a job. He says that interesting things don't happen very often, but Sheridan doesn't agree. "The adventure is out there, Jack. A man has to go meet it."
Maynard says that sometimes, you don't need to find it, because it will find you. Captain Maynard is then called to the Cortez. He and Sheridan say their goodbyes and leave. Sheridan goes to C&C, where he gives the final departure clearance to the Cortez. He watches it enter the jumpgate and disappear.
Later, Ivanova is in Sheridan's office, talking to him about problems she is having with two of the delegations on board. He tells her that such problems should be her concern, but she informs him that they will not accept a solution from anyone but him. Sheridan reluctantly agrees to help solve the delgations' problems, but Ivanova is not completely satisfied. She tells him that she feels he has been acting strangely ever since the Cortez arrived. She asks him if he wants to talk about it.
"I command starships, Susan," he explains to her, "not cities in space. These problems, the...the petty complaints, the endless bickering, the constant negotiations. Jack Maynard said this isn't what I was trained for, and he's right. I mean, I am constantly sandbagged, swamped, drowned, and snowed under by nothing but trivia. I mean, look at this desk. I can't find a thing on it. You know me. Is this me? Huh?"
She tries to tell him that command a starship and commanding Babylon 5 are two different challenges, but that one is not more difficult than the other. She doesn't accept this as an answer because he never had difficulty with problems such as these on a starship.
He says that Captain Maynard was right. "They have turned me into a bureaucrat, a politician."
Ivanova asks him if he believes President Clark was wrong in assigning him to the post.
"I don't know," Sheridan answers. "Maybe he was, and it's just taken this long to sink in."
The Cortez is in hyperspace when an explosion rocks the ship. After they completed the jump, their fusion reactor spiked, dropping power to 30%, and causing the ship's tracking system to malfunction. This caused them to lose their lock to the jump point and rendered them incapable of leaving hyperspace. Though they are flying blind, they continue to move through hyperspace, hoping to eventually locate a jump point through which they can exit.
Ivanova, Garibaldi, and Sheridan are sitting at a table together, eating dinner. They eye the plates before them with great distate, not seeing the types of food they would normally eat. Garibaldi explains that he was able to solve the problems with the shoplifters. Sheridan tries to eat some of his salad, but can't. He points at Garibaldi and accuses him of being at fault for the food plan. Garibaldi tries to absolve himself of blame, but the three find a better solution: Ivanova gives her food to Garibaldi, who gives his to Sheridan, and Sheridan gives his to Ivanova. They are all about to eat the meals they would prefer when Dr. Franklin walks by and catches them. They all quickly switch plates around again and begin eating their proper meals.
The Cortez is still flying blind, and while power has returned, they do not have the time necessary to fix the navigational systems of the ship, as it would take them 48 hours, by which time they would no longer be able to locate the jump gate's signal. Captain Maynard orders their communications officer to send a mayday. Though the officer doesn't believe it could travel far enough in hyperspace to be of any use, they send it anyway. Babylon 5 receives the mayday, and Sheridan responds to it, saying that help is on the way. He orders all available pilots to their squadron bays. Ivanova reminds Sheridan that no ship has ever escaped from hyperspace in such a situation. Sheridan knows that, but rushes off to prepare anyway.
Dr. Franklin is examining Delenn in MedLab. She objects to being examined so much, but he says that, in addition to curiosity, he has a responsibility to make sure she is healthy after her change. She says that she is, and has suffered only minor problems, such as dizziness and fatigue. He asks if anything else is bothering her, and she says no. He also asks if the other Minbari are accepting the change without question.
"Of course," Delenn says. Changing the subject, she asks Dr. Franklin about a new delegation coming to the station. Dr. Franklin doesn't understand, but Delenn explains that Garibaldi was waiting for them. "I believe," she tells him, "they're called Bagna Cauda?"
Sheridan and Ivanova are in the squadron bays, addressing the pilots who will go out to attempt to rescue the Cortez. Sheridan says that they must try, even though no ship has been found when lost before. They don't know where the ship is, but they do know that, while the first mayday sent by the Cortez was strong, they are fading now.
Galus, the leader of Zeta squadron, asks how they can find the ship if they do not even know how to begin looking.
Sheridan says that he has an idea, although it is a risky one. "The first fighter will stop just inside the gate, and lock onto the gate's signal," Sheridan explains. "The second fighter will proceed 1000 kilometers further in, and lock onto the signal of the first one. The third fighter will lock onto the signal of the second one, and so on." He also says that they could increase the range, if necessary, by moving subsequent fighters further out. While it is a dangerous mission, all the pilots understand and prepare to leave, though both Sheridan and Ivanova wish they were going with them.
Sheridan addresses all fighters as they prepare to leave on the mission. "An old friend of mine once quoted me a ancient Egyptian blessing: `God be between you and harm, and all the empty places we must walk.' Bring the Cortez home." The fighters then leave the station and enter the jumpgate, to search for the Cortez.
There is no longer a signal from the Cortez, but the fighters are positioned inside the jumpgate, relaying the message to each other, and broadcasting it in hopes that the Cortez will receive it, though there hasn't been a response yet. Soon, the Cortez does receive the signal from Babylon 5, and responds, saying that their lock-on still isn't functioning. Sheridan orders the Cortez to continue broadcasting their mayday so that a fighter can find them and lead them out of hyperspace. The fighters chosen for this are Galus and Keffer. They have difficulty locating the Cortez, because the radio locator "doesn't want to settle." Eventually, the fighters move out so far that they lose contact with Babylon 5.
Ivanova and Sheridan are both in C&C, anxiously awaiting any information about the Cortez, but they hear nothing. Sheridan asks Ivanova to take a break, but she doesn't want to any more than he does. Sheridan says that Maynard is too good a friend to leave his post. "If this turns into a wake," he says to Ivanova, "I want to be here." Sheridan explains that Maynard was his first commanding officer; Sheridan worshipped him. Ivanova understands his feelings, and says that she will be there for him if the Cortez does not make it back, but asks him to remember the Egyptian blessing, given him by Maynard, in the meantime.
Keffer locates the mayday from the Cortez, and radios Galus, telling him so. Galus tells Keffer to go, saying that he will maintain position while Keffer finds the Cortez. Keffer soon finds the Cortez, and approaches it. Keffer loses contact with Galus when a Shadow ship appears in hyperspace and collides with Galus' ship, destroying it. On its way, the Shadow ship also collides with Keffer's ship, though luckily it only sends it spinning away, stabilizers offline.
Maynard and the Cortez manage to locate Keffer's ship, but notice only that he repeatedly fires in the same direction as his ship spins. Captain Maynard determines that this must mean Keffer wants him to go in the direction of the fire. They begin to lay in the course when they regain contact with Keffer's Starfury. They offer to come and retrieve him, but Keffer says that both vessels will be lost if they waste time picking him up. Maynard understands, and orders the Cortez to be taken back to Babylon 5.
Sheridan, Ivanova, and the others are relieved at the safe return of the Cortez and most of the Starfuries, though saddened that two fighters did not make it back.
Orwell is waiting impatiently for Garibaldi, who soon arrives. Orwell explains that he had difficult obtaining the items Garibaldi wanted, but did manage to do so, and opens a case for Garibaldi's inspection. Garibaldi begins examining the contents when he is interrupted by Dr. Franklin, who realized that Orwell had the ability to gather the ingredients for Bagna Cauda so far away from Earth. Orwell leaves, and Garibaldi says that he wants Bagna Cauda for his birthday. Dr. Franklin doesn't accept this as an excuse until Garibaldi explains further. "My father always made Bagna Cauda for me on my birthday. Pop was a great cook, and Bagna was his speciality. When he used to cook it, I mean, the smell, oh man, the smell would fill the whole place. It's funny, you know. When I watched him cook, I knew he was doing it because he loved me. He just could never say it, so he did that instead. He's been gone a long time. So, now, I make it myself once a year, honoring him, you know. It's...it's the only part of him I got left." Franklin believes the story, and tells Garibaldi to make enough for two people.
Sheridan is in the arboretum when Delenn comes in. She expresses her sympathy over the loss of the two Starfuries. Sheridan says that the hardest part of command is sending others out to die. She tries to tell him that because he did so, they managed to save others; he was in the right place.
He asks what makes her think that he belongs on Babylon 5, and she answers. "The universe puts us in places where we can learn. They are never easy places. They are right. Wherever we are is the right place at the right time. Pain sometimes comes. It is part of the process of constantly being born."
Sheridan says he thinks she's been doing thinking about this on her own.
"Perhaps," she tells him. "We are both, I suppose, going through transitions. But the universe knows what it's doing."
Sheridan says that he wishes he had the faith in the universe that she did.
"Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain," Delenn says to him. Perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station, and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff, we are the universe, made manifest, trying to figure itself out. As we have both learned, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective."
Keffer is still lost in hyperspace, and running out of air, though he finally gets his thrusters back on-line. He cannot, however, locate the jumpgate because his lock-on systems are not functioning. Suddenly, another Shadow ship appears, flies a brief distance, and vanishes. Keffer tells the computer to analyze its flight path and tells it to correlate with the last sighting.
Sheridan is about to give up on Keffer's return when the jumpgate activates, and Keffer comes through it, requesting permission to dock. Sheridan happily agrees.
Keffer proposes a toast to Commander Galus. Ivanova asks Keffer if he could determine anything about the object that hit him, and indirectly, saved him. He says he couldn't tell anything about it, but that because he knew its position when it first appeared relative to his position, he was able to find his way out, using its origination point the second time as a reference. But he didn't know what it was. "There was just this feeling that something dark and dangerous had gone by," he explains.
Maynard agrees that the feeling is powerful. Keffer wants to learn what the object was, but Ivanova says there are more important matters to attend to. She promotes Keffer to the leader of Zeta Squadron.
Garibaldi and Dr. Franklin are in Garibaldi's quarters, preparing to eat the Bagna Cauda. Though Franklin initially objects, once he tastes it, he admits that he likes it very much. Garibaldi offers him dessert. Franklin says he didn't authorize dessert, but Garibaldi doesn't care - he simply chooses not to give any to Franklin, who then objects to that, but soon loses his cares in the Bagna Cauda.
Ivanova enters Sheridan's office where Sheridan is hard at work. Ivanova tells Sheridan that the others would like to see him in the officer's club. Sheridan says that he has much work to do, but will try to catch up to them in an hour or so. He asks Ivanova if she has ever had a long talk with Ambassador Delenn.
"From time to time."
"She and the universe seem to have a special relationship."
"Don't we all?" says Ivanova as she leaves.
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