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Intersections in Real Time
Babylon 5, episode 84 (4.18)
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2006 13:30:03
Sheridan faces an inquisitor from Earthdome.
In the dark of an empty room, Sheridan is lying on the floor, asleep, voices floating through his dreams, reminding him of how he got there. Sheridan is rousted from his sleep when the single door to the room flies open, and from the light outside steps a man with a briefcase. He studies Sheridan as several of his associates bring in and set up a chair and a desk. "Do you have any allergies or illnesses I should be aware of? Are you currently taking any medication? Have you had any trouble with your heart?" Sheridan doesn't respond. "When I ask a question, you will respond at once. You will not hesitate, you will not consider, you will not lie. Cooperation will be rewarded, resistance will be punished. Do you understand?"
Sheridan doesn't respond, but gets up and moves toward the man. When he gets fairly close, a device around Sheridan's neck causes him great pain, and he crumples to the floor. The man explains they are Narn paingivers, purchased during the war. The man explains that there is no reason to harm him, since he is not the enemy - he has no personal stake in what goes on. He is there only to do his job. He further explains that, though he has no desire to inflict pain, he will do so if it is required. He is not there to negotiate or assist him, but is there to ensure Sheridan's cooperation, and will use whatever means he feels are appropriate. He asks Sheridan if he understands, but Sheridan doesn't respond. The man pushes a button on his table, the door opens again, and two guards come in, force Sheridan into the chair, and shackle him down. The man asks Sheridan again if he understands, and Sheridan nods. "Do you any allergies or ilnesses I should be aware of? Are you currently taking any medication? Have you had any problems with your heart?"
"No," Sheridan answers.
"Good," the man replies. "Then we can begin."
Sheridan is sitting in the chair, a bright light shining on his face, when the Interrogator returns, this time, with the outside shrouded in darkness. "Good morning," he tells Sheridan, but Sheridan believes that, since it is dark outside, it can't be morning, as it was before. The Interrogator walks to the door and demonstrates that it is he who controls the lighting, not the time of day. The Interrogator opens his briefcase and begins removing his effects when he appears to have forgotten something, and retrieves his glasses from the outside. He pushes a button on the table, causing Sheridan great pain. "Never contradict me," he says. The Interrogator begins looking over Sheridan's file, when he looks at his watch. He opens a small package in front of him, and removes a sandwich, which he begins to eat. As he eats, the Interrogator explains that he finds it interesting that Sheridan had never previously shown interest in politics, and Sheridan agrees - the Interrogator explains that, in that case, it is unlikely he would try to overthrow his own government without outside influence. Sheridan insists it's not true, but the Interrogator doesn't believe him, and asks if he is that far removed from other people. He says he will write that down as Sheridan's "first fabrication."
The Interrogator asks Sheridan if he would like some of his sandwich; since they haven't fed Sheridan, and it is lunchtime, he would probably like some. Sheridan says that, a few moments ago, the Interrogator said it was morning, but the Interrogator insists that you can't have cornbeef sandwiches for breakfast. Sheridan concedes that it must be lunchtime somewhere, and takes the sandwich. The Interrogator promises Sheridan that the sandwich will not kill him, and Sheridan begins consuming the sandwich. The Interrogator explains that this proves that everything is a matter of perspective, the truth is fluid and subjective. "Out there, it doesn't matter what time it is. In here, it's lunchtime if you and I decide that it is. The truth is sometimes is what you believe it to be and sometimes what you decide it to be. My task... is to make you... decide to believe... differently. And when that happens, the world will remake itself before your very eyes." Sheridan insists it's not true, but, the Interrogator disagrees, explaining how the truth changed for Sheridan whenever there was a new enemy for him to fight. Sheridan denies this, but the Interrogator knows that a solider must accept what is ordered to believe, unless he is rejecting everything he claimed to stand for.
Sheridan finishes the sandwich, and begins commenting on it, but the Interrogator claims he's being evasive. Sheridan says it's better than being dishonest. The Interrogator points out that, while Sheridan has changed the truth to suit himself, he has never lied to Sheridan. The Interrogator says that it's for supper, and he begins to pack up his things. As he does, he explains that, if you eat a little poison every day, you will gradually become used to it. The contents of the sandwich won't kill Sheridan, but the toxins will have their desired effects in a few minutes. "I'll be back when they've had a chance to clean up the place," the Interrogator tells him as he leaves.
Sheridan is lying on the floor when the Interrogator returns, the next "morning." The Interrogator asks how is feeling, but Sheridan is too sick to respond. The Interrogator apologizes for poisoning him, but it is part of the process. "We have to break you physically before we can get to your mind." The Interrogator explains that the room is monitored throughout the day, and if Sheridan won't cooperate, he cannot be held responsible for what might happen. If Sheridan cooperates, the Interrogator promises, they will let him go. He removes a small flask and pours a drink for Sheridan, to help him out of his dehydration. Sheridan is apprehensive, but the Interrogator insists the drink is safe, and that, as Sheridan's only ally, he will tell him only the absolute truth. Sheridan begins to drink the liquid.
The Interrogator explains that he needs to correct some ommissions in Sheridan's files, and begins asking if Susan Ivanova is still his second in command. They just want to confirm her name for the records, but Sheridan won't tell him, because the Interrogator wants it. The Interrogator insists he doesn't care, but his superiors want complete information. He asks Sheridan to sit in the chair, now that his strength has returned, which he does. As he sits, though, he finds himself automatically shackled in again. The Interrogator explains it's for Sheridan's own good. "Oh, by the way, I should mention your father... He sends his regards." The Interrogator says he's being held at another facility, and that he is alive and well. He suggests that Sheridan should thank him, which Sheridan does. He explains that he believes Sheridan's father will only be held as long as Sheridan is, but that they won't let him go if Sheridan continues to resist. The Interrogator asks if Sheridan has been interrogated before, but Sheridan says he would be surprised. The Interrogator finds this odd, as he seems to have forgotten the rules. He holds up a piece of paper. "This is your confession. It goes on at some length. So, uh, allow me to summarize. You plead guilty to charges of treason, mutiny, conspiracy to commit mutiny, sedition, terrorism..."
"That's a lie!" Sheridan insists.
"...conspiracy to overthrow the government, illegal seizure of Earth property, assault on fellow officers, sabotage..."
"Now just a minute!"
"...willful destruction of public property, disobeying direct orders of superior officers, and the murder of 547 officers and crew onboard the E.A.S. Roanoke!"
"I won't sign it!"
"You will sign it! You will sign it and you will read it aloud in full view of the public so they'll know we haven't forged your image or your signature. You will name your accomplices. You will apologize to the families and friends of those who have died fighting you. And in the end, you will beg for mercy on the grounds that you're under the influence of aliens who are trying subvert the government and undermine the authority of the President."
"I demand to see an attorney! I demand the presence of a full military tribunal. You have no right..."
"No, YOU have no rights! There's no courtroom here, Captain, no tribunals, no attorneys, no justice, no mercy, no fairness, no hope, no last-minute escape. You will walk through that door when you confess and not one second before!" With that, the Interrogator leaves the room.
The door flings open and the Interrogator returns. "Good morning." After a few moments, two guards bring in a Drazi and strap him to the Interrogator's chair. The guards leave the three of them alone. The Interrogator places a recording device in front of the Drazi, and asks the Drazi to repeat what he previously told another interrogator. "I was one of those who was reponsible for manipulating Captain Sheridan into turning against his own government." Sheridan begs him not to continue, but the Drazi keeps talking. "I confess to taking part in the conspiracy to overturn your government." Sheridan tells the Drazi he's giving them exactly what they want, and the Interrogator agrees - when he's finished, they will let him go. The Drazi continues. "Those who worked with me in this conspiracy were Commander Susan Ivanova, Minbari Ambassador Delenn, Senator Ross Fowler..." The Interrogator explains that, while the Senator isn't involved, he has become a source of annoyance for the President. "I can personally verify all of the charges against him. However, Captain Sheridan was not responsible for his actions. He was not, uh, mentally competent..."
Sheridan tries to convince the Drazi that however much they tortued him, he doesn't have to let them win, and begs him again not to confess. The Interrogator says he's Sheridan's alibi - the one chance he has of avoiding the death penalty, but Sheridan thinks that the Drazi are strong, and he shouldn't let them win. The Drazi insists there is nothing he can do, but Sheridan says that, if he resists, he will eventually win. The Drazi says he is afraid, and never has been before, but Sheridan pleads with the Drazi not to give them what they want. The Drazi looks at Sheridan for a few moments, and then tells the Interrogator he will not cooperate any further. Sheridan smiles smugly at the Interrogator.
"Are you sure? You understand that this is your last chance?"
"What are you doing," Sheridan asks.
"Do you understand that this is your very... last... chance?"
"Yes," the Drazi replies.
The Interrogator touches a key on the table, and four guards enter with a gurney, which they strap the Drazi to. Sheridan protests, but they will not let him go. "Room 17," the Interrogator tells them as they wheel the Drazi out. The Interrogator returns to the subject of Ivanova, and will not tell Sheridan what they will do with the Drazi, despite Sheridan's demands that he do so. The Interrogator explains that, while the Drazi was expendable, Sheridan is not - his superiors want Sheridan honestly and sincerely broken if someone scans him. The apology must be sincere, and that would save them all time and trouble. As he is speaking, there is a scream in the background, and the lights of the room dim for a moment. The Interrogator begins packing up his things, and touches a button on the table. A recording of his own voice begins playing. "You will cooperate with the State for the good of the State and your own survival. You will confess to the crimes of which you have been accused. You will be released and returned to society a productive citizen if you cooperate. Resistance will be punished, cooperation will be rewarded." The Interrogator leaves for the "night," but his voice remains behind. "You will cooperate with the State for the good of the State and your own survival. You will confess to the crimes of which you have been accused. You will be released and returned to society a productive citizen if you cooperate..."
The light of "day" streams in as the Interrogator returns. "...You will confess to the crimes of which you have been accused. You will be released and returned to society a productive citizen if you cooperate. Resistance will be punished, cooperation will be rewarded." The Interrogator shuts off the recording, and bids Sheridan "good morning." He tells Sheridan that, unless he starts cooperating, he won't be receiving any more of the intervenous nutrition he had been receiving since being taken off solid foods. The Interrogator puts Sheridan's "confession" down in front of him, telling him that that, and a few recorded words, are all that prevent him from leaving the cell. The Interrogator asks Sheridan if he wants to leave, if he wants to be free, and Sheridan admits he does. All he has to do is sign the confession. The Interrogator says they don't want him dead, but rather as a symbol. They will not kill him, though, at least not right away - they will wait until Sheridan has been forgotten. But, until that time, Sheridan will have his freedom - they will encourage him to travel, to spread the message that "you cannot beat the system." "Sign and speak," the Interrogator says, "and you can leave here." As Sheridan looks at the Interrogator, he sees Delenn standing behind him. He smiles at her, as the Interrogator releases his arms from the shackles. Sheridan looks at Delenn for the answer, but she says nothing to him - she then vanishes as quickly as she appeared. Sheridan stares at the confession for a few moments, then spits on it. He turns to the Interrogator and utters his response.
"I... I really wish you hadn't done that, Captain. I really... sincerely wish... you hadn't done that." The Interrogator picks up the confession and his briefcase, but cannot find words. "I... I... I have no control over what will happen next," he explains to Sheridan. "It's out of my hands." He walks out of the room, the door slamming shut behind him.
The Interrogator bursts in and wakes Sheridan up. He tells Sheridan that they are doing this to him because he is a war hero, and he was made such in the public eye. People know him and recognize him, but when war heroes start believing certain things, the public listens, which threatens their credibility. And Sheridan's credibility needs to go - he says that the best way out for everyone is for Sheridan to confess and lay the blame on the alien governments. Whether it is really true or not, they can make the public believe it. They will let him live. But, it isn't the only way - they can forge Sheridan's image and his voice, after he has died. There will always be doubt that way, but the Interrogator explains that it is now an acceptable option. "I can save your life," the Interrogator says. "Right now. If you'll let me."
Sheridan explains that he has considered the Interrogator's words, that you can't fight the system, but, if the truth is fluid and subjective, maybe you can, as long as one person refuses to break, or bow down.
"But, can you win?" asks the Interrogator.
"Every time I say no," responds Sheridan.
The Interrogator moves away, back to his table. "Captain John Sheridan, will you, or will you not, sign a confession and endorse it before a public hearing?"
The Interrogator hits a key on the table, and four guards enter with a gurney, which they force Sheridan onto. He struggles, but can't escape. "You understand that this is your last chance?" the Interrogator asks as he bends over him. "Do you understand this is your very last chance?" Sheridan doesn't respond. "Room seventeen," the Interrogator tells him. The gurney is wheeled down the hall.
As Sheridan moves down the hall, a priest following him, reading him his Last Rites, he looks toward his goal - the door at the end of the hallway, through which light is streaming. In the middle of the light, Delenn is standing. Sheridan is wheeled closer, and closer...
The gurney is placed in one half of the room, the other half obscured in shadows. Sheridan is unstrapped, and the guards leave. Sheridan sits up weakly, and looks into the other half of the room, where a figure in a black mask, black robe, and black gloves is standing before a large device, covered in a black cloth. The figure adjusts his glove and walks out. Sheridan is alone for a brief moment when four guards enter the room and remove him from the gurney. One of the guards removes the the cloth from the device in the corner, revealing it to be... a chair. An interrogation chair much like the one in the room he was in a few moments ago. He is forced into the chair and shackled down. The guards move the gurney closer to Sheridan, adjust it in a few ways, and it becomes a table exactly like the one in the other interrogation room. The guards leave the room, with only Sheridan and the shadowy figure remaining behind.
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