Babylon 5 is embroiled in a deadly conflict between the Narn and Centauri; an ISN reporter covers the story and tours the station.
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ISN Network "36 Hours" September 16, 2259
Announcer We interrupt your evening schedule to bring you the following special program. September 16, 2259. The Interstellar Network News presents "36 Hours on Babylon 5" with your host, Cynthia Torqueman, reporting live from the ISN News Center, in Geneva.
Video Footage (The bridge of a ship. Babylon 5 is visible outside, with two much smaller ships in front of it)
(The Narn ship fires on the Centauri ship several times, destroying it.)
Torqueman (at anchor desk) A terrible explosion, conspiracy involving several of these individuals [pictures of Sheridan, Londo, and G'kar appear over her shoulder], lies, deception, and the deaths of hundreds of people. All this and more on "36 Hours Aboard Babylon 5," here on the Interstellar Network News. We'll be back with our story right after this break.
Announcer "36 hours...," sponsored by Interplanetary Expeditions. Exploring the past to create a better future.
Torqueman (from a chaotic docking bay) Thirty minutes ago, a Narn vessel opened fire on a Centauri transport without warning or explanation. The bodies of the dead and wounded are being brought to this central docking area for transfer to various MedLab facilities on Babylon 5, which are already working beyond maximum capacity. Behind me is Dr. Stephen Franklin, Chief of Staff. Doctor? Doctor Franklin?
Franklin (to medical assistants) ...for immediate surgery and full CAT scan. I need more regent packs over here, people.
Torqueman Dr. Franklin, Cynthia Torqueman, ISN news. What happened here?
Franklin I don't know. Somebody said something about an ambush. (to assistants) All right, keep his head elevated thirty degrees minimum or he'll choke on his own blood.
Torqueman Can you say what the reason was...
Franklin I'm sorry...
Torqueman Captain Sheridan! Cynthia Torqueman, ISN news. Do you have any comment on what just happened here?
Sheridan No, no comment at this time. (to Franklin) Doctor...
Torqueman What about the Narn vessel that attacked the transport.
Sheridan We dispatched a fighter wing to apprehend them. We won't know anything more until they're in protective custody. If you will excuse me please.
Ambassador Londo Mollari, Centauri Republic This is exactly the kind of behavior that endangers the very purpose of Babylon 5. This place is dedicated to finding peaceful solutions to our problems. For the Narn to carry their vendetta against our people into neutral territory like this is reckless and irresponsible. And though we mourn our own losses, we have felt strongly about our friends from Earth, ever since we first encountered your world a hundred years ago. To endanger your people for no reason...
Torqueman Then the attack on your transport was completely unprovoked?
Ambassador Mollari Of course.
* * *
Ambassador G'kar, Narn Regime He's lying.
Torqueman Then can you tell us why your ship opened fire on the Centauri transport?
G'kar I'll issue a statement after I have consulted with my government.
Torqueman Are you saying your government sanctioned this attack?
Torqueman Do you think attacks of this nature put everybody aboard Babylon 5 in unnecessary jeopardy?
G'kar We are already in far greater jeopardy than you can possibly imagine.
Torqueman For all the apparent danger in this part of space, it seems to have had little effect on travel. Nearly a quarter of a million humans and aliens are here at any given moment. While most are in transit to distant worlds, many others actually live and work here. What does it take to call a place like this home?
* * *
Eduardo Delvientos. Dock Supervisor. Guild dockworkers on B5: 1500. Well, it's a...it's a job. I've been in a lot worse places, let me tell you. It gets crazy around here sometimes, you got fifty, sixty ships a day coming through here, loading and unloading, and every last one of them is a priority job, at least that's what they tell us. (to a worker) Hey, watch those crates over there. Get 'em over to the side. No, no, the other side. (to Torqueman) We had a couple of problems here last year, try to hit us with some budget cuts. You know, same old song. But that's the past. You gotta go along to get along, you know what I mean?
Second Lieutenant David Corwin. Earthforce personnel on B5: 6500. Overall, I've found this to be a good working environment, and a valuable experience. I've learned a lot while I've been here.
Torqueman And you've never felt that your safety has been compromised?
Corwin No ma'am.
Torqueman So this has been a positive experience for you?
(Corwin smiles and nods)
Corwin (Glancing at Ivanova over left shoulder) Yes. It's a calm, pleasant environment. I don't think I've ever seen anyone get upset here.
Captain John J. Sheridan. Recipient, Earthforce Silver Star for Valor in Minbari War. I guess it's the old joke, "You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps." I suppose there is a...certain attraction to being out here on the edge like this. A new frontier...
Torqueman New frontier is right. When Babylon 5 went online in 2257, oddsmakers from New Vegas to Lloyds of London were predicting it wouldn't last six months.
Sheridan Hmm. Well, I've never been very much on gambling. Never quite found the time for it.
Torqueman You were originally a starship captain, correct?
Sheridan Yeah. The Agamemnon. She was a real beauty. One of the first Omega class destroyers to come off the assembly line after the war. Our job was part military patrol, part diplomatic mission. We went around to most of the Non- Aligned Worlds, put in an appearance, kept the peace, that sort of thing.
Torqueman Babylon 5 has been through some dramatic changes in administration since it became operational. Would you attribute these changes to...bad management, or, to quote former Senator Hidoshi, "Is this horse just to big for anybody to ride?"
Sheridan Changes are part of the military life. Everybody goes into this knowing that tomorrow you could be someplace you hadn't even heard of 24 hours ago. I've been stationed so many places over the years I can't even remember most of them. But you're right. Some days this is one hell of a big horse.
Torqueman Although the airlocks on Babylon 5 are considerably safer, the last three years have shown that the station itself is anything but secure. In its first year of operation, there were half a dozen murders, three acts of sabotage including a bomb that blew out two levels, and a barely averted attack by the Vorlon Empire. Since then, there have been fifty deaths by violence. So the question remains, given its cost in lives and money, is Babylon 5 serving any useful purpose, or, as we're about to see, is the whole thing falling apart at the seams?
G'kar I've just been briefed by my government, and I'm prepared to issue the following statement. The Centauri ship that was attacked by one of our vessels was not simply a commercial transport. It was secretly transferring weapons of mass destruction to ships bound for the front lines where they were to be used in the war against our people. They have turned Babylon 5 into a weapons supply post, and we cannot allow this to continue, even if it means shutting down Babylon 5 completely.
commercial break Announcer "36 Hours on Babylon 5" continues with Cynthia Torqueman.
Torqueman (at anchor desk) According to figures released by the newly-formed office of public morale, President William Clark has risen to dramatic new levels of popularity, because of his administration's emphasis on addressing the needs of Earth. As a result, recent hearings in Earthdome have openly questioned how much time and money should be invested in a project that seems perpetually bogged down in non-human conflict. So, we took that question to Senator Ronald Quantrell.
* * *
Senator Ronald Quantrell. Chairman: Babylon 5 Senate Oversight Committee. (in his office) Well, obviously, Babylon 5 is something President Santiago believed in very strongly and I think we owe it to his memory to try to make it work.
Torqueman That doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement.
Torqueman And now?
Quantrell Now? Well...still too early to tell. Certainly we've rebuilt our military forces to a point far in advance of where they were fourteen years ago. If the Earth-Minbari war started today, I think things might have gone a little differently. So, while I'm not sure how much...concrete benefit we really derive from Babylon 5 any longer, I suppose it still does keep us in a highly visible position with other races, and of course it's very important to interstellar commerce and trade.
* * *
Sheridan Well, with all due respect to Senator Quantrell, speaking as someone who did his part in the front lines, I'd have to say we still haven't fully recovered from the Minbari war. And we haven't anywhere near the level of technology we would need in the event of another major conflict. And anybody who thinks that we could hold our own with the Minbari, the Centauri, and, God forbid, the Vorlons, is just plain kidding himself.
Torqueman You sound angry about it.
Sheridan No, I'm not. It just...it just sounds to me like...like jingoism and self-deception and armchair quarterbacking. Any time you lose a war, you just...you just wait a few years, and you'll hear from everyone who thought that we could have won if they'd have done the fighting.
Torqueman Except, of course, Captain, we didn't lose the war. The Minbari did surrender.
Sheridan (Pause, then smile) Of course.
Torqueman Who are the people who run Babylon 5, and what do they do here? What are their hopes and dreams? I'm standing in what's called the Observation Dome, or C&C, short for Command and Control. When the Captain is otherwise engaged with diplomatic or business affairs, this place is under the watchful eye of its perky and energetic commander, Susan Ivanova.
Commander Susan Ivanova (to a ship) All right, make one more sweep pulling in whatever you got, then head for the barn.
Torqueman Commander Ivanova, would you mind telling us what it is you're doing here?
Ivanova (showing her a control panel displaying the HAZMAT team) We're investigating Ambassador G'kar's allegations that the Centauri transport was carrying weapons, justifying his government's attack. The HAZMAT team outside is checking the debris for any unusual levels of radiation or trace elements that could indicate the presence of unauthorized weapons.
Torqueman While we wait for the analysis, would you mind telling us a little about yourself, how you got here?
Ivanova Well, there's really not much to tell. I was born in the Russian Consortium, but spent most of my life at school abroad. Graduated from OTC ten years ago.
Torqueman How did you come to join Earthforce?
Ivanova After my brother Ganya was killed in the war, I felt that I had to try and finish what he started. Of course, as my luck runs, the war was over before I saw any action.
Torqueman Now, Commander, I'm sure there's more to your story than that.
Security Chief Michael Garibaldi What do I hope for? I hope to get through this interview without getting myself fired. How's that for a start? Hmm. I don't know, it's one of those questions I don't think about in words. Maybe because so many times it seems like, if I say what I want, it never comes.
Torqueman There must be something.
Garibaldi Yeah. There are...little hopes I guess. Every day I get up and I hope nothing will happen. I'd love to be just bored out of my skull for twenty-four hours. And, uh, I guess I keep hoping that someday, somewhere I'll make a difference. That at the end of the day, everything we've gone through for the past few years will, uh, mean something.
Ivanova (over communicator) Garibaldi, we just got back the HASMAT report. We've got a problem.
Garibaldi (getting up) See what I mean? Always something.
Torqueman So far, we've spent most of our time here talking to the humans, but aliens make up nearly forty-two percent of Babylon 5's population. Many of them live here in the so-called "Alien Sector," which provides alternate atmospheres for fourteen different species. Ironically, the "Alien Sector" is how the aliens here refer to the human part of the station proving once again that beauty... and the beast...are in the eye of the beholder. Probably the most elusive of all the aliens is Ambassador Kosh Naranek, a representative of the Vorlon Empire, sent here roughly two years ago. Nothing is known of the Vorlons, in fact three expeditions sent into Vorlon space over the years have never returned. The Vorlon government said they had met with accidents...and suggested no further expeditions. Even their appearance is a mystery, compounded by the fact that Ambassador Kosh can only leave his quarters in an encounter suit, which contains his atmosphere and other life support equipment. A few moments ago, while we were setting up this shot, we got our first glimpse of the Vorlon as he was leaving his quarters just behind me. This is an ISN exclusive, presented here for the first time.
Video Footage (Cynthia Torqueman, wearing an oxygen mask, is speaking with someone else also wearing a mask.) Man's Voice It's Ambassador Kosh, over here! Torqueman Maxie, quick, the camera! (The camera pans to reveal Ambassador Kosh.) Torqueman Ambassador Kosh! Ambassador! Cynthia Torqueman, ISN news. Can we ask you a few questions? (The doors in front of Kosh close.) Torqueman Ambassador Kosh! (to camera) Did we get that? Tell me we got that. Did we get it?
* * *
Torqueman Second in elusiveness to the Vorlon is Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari Federation. After initially refusing several requests for an interview, she finally agreed to talk to us.
Torqueman Since very few humans have ever been allowed on Minbar, perhaps you could start by telling us a little about your world.