The outbreak of a disease among the Markab population prompts a panic on the station; Dr. Franklin races against time to find a cure.
On C&C, Ivanova tells Sheridan about a Markab cruiser that is ten hours overdue that has resisted all attempts at communication. She says she wants to send out Zeta squadron to find out what happened to the ship, and that she will do so as soon as Lieutenant Keffer returns, searching for what he once saw in hyperspace. Sheridan tells Ivanova to order Keffer back to the station and curb further expeditions.
Ivanova explains to Zeta squadron that their mission is to find the Markab ship and determine the problem, if there is one. As she sends them out, she tells Keffer that Captain Sheridan has ordered him to curb his expeditions into hyperspace. Though he initially protests, after he is threatened with a four-month suspension of flight priveleges, he changes his mind, and leaves to join the squadron.
Zeta squadron arrives at the Markab vessel, and attempts to open communication, to no avail. Keffer scans the vessel, but discovers no life signs, though there are over two hundred life forms on the vessel. All the Markab on the ship are dead. Meanwhile, Dr. Franklin, while examining the Markab on the station, asks to have access to the other dead Markab before they are sent back to their homeworld.
Sheridan arrives in the docking bay to find Dr. Lazarenn there, not wanting Sheridan or any other non-Markab inside. Dr. Franklin explains that they aren't wanted aboard the ship because all four dead Markab died from an infectious disease. Dr. Franklin demands to know how terminal and contagious the disease is. "It is one hundred percent terminal," Lazarenn imparts. "And one hundred percent contagious."
A young Markab girl wanders through the corridors of Babylon 5, looking for something. She soon locates what she is looking for, her father, who is sitting against a wall. She touches him, and he falls over. She cries out and turns around, into the arms of Delenn.
Dr. Franklin talks to the command staff and his medical officers. The disease is invisible while in its incubation period of up to several weeks, but after it shows up, the patients live for about a day. Garibaldi asks how far it has spread, and Franklin explains that they have to assume the entire Markab population has been exposed. Sheridan asks if the plague is limited to the Markab, but Franklin doesn't know, and says that's what they need to find out. If the disease is airborne, the recycled air aboard the station could put everyone at risk. Sheridan asks Franklin what to do, and Franklin wants every Markab brought in for testing so they can discover how the disease works. The disease, he explains, takes over the central nervous system, keeping it from working properly. Sheridan orders Ivanova to put the station under quarantine, keeping all ships in the station, and preventing other ones from coming in. One of the medical officers suggests segregating the Markab away from everyone else, but Franklin says that will only cause the disease to spread among the Markab faster and that, if the disease is airborne, it won't make any difference. Garibaldi says that, if all the Markab are in one place, he can watch over them better when turmoil strikes the station.
The Markab ambassador herds his people into their isolation area, reassuring them that they are pure and that they will be spared the plague if they are good. The other races aboard the station are all too happy to see them go.
Sheridan receives a call from Ivanova who tells him that the violence against the Markab is increasing aboard Babylon 5. 4,000 of the station's 5,000 Markab have entered the isolation zone, but the rest may be in considerable danger if found by other races. Sheridan wants the violence stopped as quickly as possible. Ivanova suggests he get some sleep. Sheridan agrees, but as he is about to rest, Delenn enters and tells Sheridan that she wants to be allowed into the isolation zone to help the Markab. Delenn says that she has been taught to help others when they are in need, and though Sheridan tries to convince her otherwise, he is unable to dissuade her. She says that she understands the risk, and that she and Lennier should do all they can to help the Markab, since they may all be in need of similar help very soon. She knows that she may have to remain in there if she contracts the disease, but she is willing to make the sacrifice. Sheridan relents and decides to let her enter the zone. "All life is transitory," she tells him. "A dream. We all come together in the same place at the end of time. If I don't see you again here, I will see you in a little while, in the place where no shadows fall." She starts to leave, but Sheridan stops her.
"Delenn...? When I do see you again, call me John?" She smiles, nods, and leaves.
A few humans attack a Markab, and kick him in the stomach while he is down on the ground. Garibaldi arrives and stops the torture, but the Markab is near death. He reaches a bloody hand out to Garibaldi. Hesitating only fractionally, Garibaldi takes the Markab's hand.
Dr. Franklin injects himself with stims in order to keep himself awake. Lazarenn, still inside the isolation area, tries to convince Dr. Franklin to sleep, but Franklin says that, if the plague has spread, that won't matter much. They haven't found out anymore about the Pak'ma'ra, but more and more Markab continue to die, though the violence has been brought under control. Franklin explains that he doesn't understand why humans never learn from all the diseases they face, such as the Black Death, AIDS, and Chalmer's Syndrome. Lazarenn asks about the Black Death, and Dr. Franklin explains how it hit Europe in the 14th century, and that it too was considered an immoral disease, possibly sent by the devil. Cats, the familiars of the devils, were killed by the millions, but since they were the only way to control the rat population, the true way the disease was spread, the plague spread even faster. Lazarenn finds the situation humorous, since often the strategy that makes the least sense is the one that's done the most. He then collapses against the window of the isolation booth, and explains that his suspicions are confirmed: he has contracted the plague. He tells Franklin to run tests as quickly as possible, now that he has someone in the earliest stages of infection.
Dr. Franklin examines some of the data from the tests, and continues to run more tests, though they only have a very short period of time. Lazarenn explains how he feels, and Franklin orders still more tests. While he is suffering, Lazarenn thinks back to how he and Franklin first met many years ago. It was when Franklin was on layover on the Markab homeworld, and Franklin was hitchhiking on starships. Franklin looked upon everything as a test in those days. "Sometimes the test is not to find the answer, it is to see how you react when you realize there is no answer." A medical officer comes up with the results of the Pak'ma'ra autopsy - the plague is now affecting the Pak'ma'ra as well. Franklin, exasperated and irritable, orders some officers to find out what happened to the Pak'ma'ra, before time runs out.
Franklin explains to Sheridan that the plague works by neutralizing the chemicals in the synaptic gaps of a body, which prevent the chemicals from relating messages from the brain between neurons. A few races use specialized cells to manufacture chemicals used in neural relays, but since humans don't work that way, they aren't in danger. Franklin says the disease can't be destroyed, but he can stimulate production of yellow and green cells so that they will eventually be able to fight off the disease. He's prepared enough for five hundred doses of the cure, but hasn't had time to test it, and there is nearly no time left.
Delenn tells Sheridan that he should be congratulated for finding a way to stop the plague. Sheridan tries to explain that it is because of Franklin that they were able to prevent further infection. Sheridan asks what happens next time, and Delenn says that, if they honor the memory of those who died, and remember what happened, the other races will grow, and further problems of this sort will not occur.
"Medical ships dispatched to the Markab homeworld have confirmed the death toll," an ISN reporter says. "The entire planetary population has been wiped out by the plague. Over two billion dead, in addition to another two or three million on other colonies and outposts. Although it is expected that some Markabs may have survived on isolated colonies, for all intents and purposes, the Markab civilization has been destroyed." Franklin, sitting at a bar beneath a video screen, listens painfully to the news report as other patrons of the bar joke about the deaths of the Markab and spread rumors about the dead Markab. The bartender shuts off the television set, refusing to listen anymore.
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