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The Deconstruction of Falling Stars
Babylon 5, episode 88 (4.22)
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2006 13:30:03
A being from the distant future looks back at the repercussions of the B5 crew's actions 100, 500, 1000, and 1000000 years in the future.
President Sheridan and Delenn's shuttle is just returning to Babylon 5 after their honeymoon, and they are welcomed aboard by a party in the docking bay, something Garibaldi knew Sheridan would want to avoid. Sheridan promises to pay him back, but thanks the crowd, and takes Delenn off into an adjoining hallway. Londo appears with G'Kar and asks why there is a party for human weddings, instead of the Centauri method of celebrating with a somber ceremony - he insists it is a bad sign for the future. Franklin and Garibaldi have no interest in discussing this with him.
Sheridan and Delenn consult with each other about the attention - Delenn wishes people wouldn't give the two of them all the credit for what all of them did collectively, but Sheridan insists that, in a hundred years, no one will know the difference - probably no one will even remember them. Delenn agrees, and they move down the hallway, joined by Franklin, Garibaldi, Londo, and G'Kar.
"And here's our first shot of the First Couple of the Interstellar Alliance, President John Sheridan and Delenn, live on ISN," an announcer's voice explains. "Their triumphant return to Babylon 5 after the liberation of Earth..." Then, the audio begins to break down. "...generated good...messages from the Senate and the... former League of Non-Aligned Worlds..." The screen erupts into static, and is then replaced with a computer display screen.
"Continuity error caused by high energy," a voice explains. "Correcting for error. Resetting. Do you wish to continue?"
Someone selects "Yes."
"Reloading Sequence: Sheridan and Delenn. Please select a time period, or select Auto Play for chronological display of records."
"Auto Play" is selected.
As the records load, the voice continues, "Loading records for period covering one year through one thousand years from events shown. Please stand by to receive."
The voice resumes. "Accessing records from initial scanning date. Standby."
"ISN Night Side," an announcer says, "a no-holds-barred look at the events of today that will shape the world of tomorrow. And now your host, Derek Mitchell."
Derek Mitchell appears in the ISN studio. He explains that the previous few weeks - with the end of the civil war and the creation of the Interstellar Alliance - have been quite overwhelming, and that the purpose of this broadcast is to reflect on recent events. The broadcast begins with a report from an investigative reporter, who describes the important events in Sheridan's life and predicts it'll be a struggle to hold together the newborn Interstellar Alliance.
Mitchell then introduces a panel of experts to discuss the issue, and each member of the panel is sharply divided. Henry Ellis, a political speech-writer, feels Sheridan is underqualified to run the Interstellar Alliance, and that he has no business being President of anything. He thinks the Alliance is doomed from the beginning. Senator Elizabeth Materie and journalist Leif Tanner disagree - they want Sheridan to be given the chance to prove himself. They don't know if the Alliance will work, but they feel he deserves the right to try. Senator Materie accuses Ellis of trying to discredit Sheridan, someone who might prevent his party from achieving a majority in the senate.
Coming up on a commercial break, Mitchell asks them, assuming Sheridan can make the Alliance work, if it will make a difference, and what the most difficult problem to overcome will be. Tanner feels that Sheridan has already made a difference, and Senator Materie feels that it's too early to tell, as the most important developments will happen in the next year, with many problems still needing to be solved. However, she feels he can handle it. Ellis disagrees - he says that the only way the Alliance will work is with the use of military force, which will cause the Alliance to fall apart.
"Thank you, thank you very much," Mitchell tells them, as he turns to the camera. "We'll be back in just a moment to consider the political implications of this new Interstellar Alliance, and the recent calls for the formation of independent political parties on Mars..." The audio and video cuts out, the screen filling with static.
"Record ends," the computer voice resumes. "Auto play feature engaged. Loading next sequence. Date: One hundred years from first time period. Stand by."
"...with another in our series of educational stellarcasts on the 100th anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance. Taking part in today's discussion from Earthdome, historian Dr. Jim Latimere from the University of York, Political Science professor Dr. Barbara Tashaki, University of Japan at Tokyo, and psychologist Dr. William Exeter from NYU."
Latimere introduces those watching to the broadcast, and passes along the first question to the others: What role did Babylon 5 play in the creation of the hundred year peace? Both doctors agree that it didn't play a role at all - Dr. Tashaki explains that individuals cannot effect change themselves, they enable others to do the work for them. Exeter feels they didn't do anything, and that the record of their accomplishments is overrated. Tashaki claims the force of history was all that saved them, after so many people died during the first year of the Alliance's operation. As she begins to talk about Delenn and Sheridan's son, she is interrupted by Latimere.
His next question for them is where Sheridan and Delenn went wrong. Though Latimere tries to defend them, Exeter says that one of their problems was the establishment of a telepath colony on Babylon 5. Tashaki agrees, saying that she felt it helped bring about the Telepath War. Latimere tries to prevent her from associating events too much, but she won't be swayed. Latimere then shows them a video clip of Garibaldi, in a room, surrounded by people, begging them to work with him. They refuse, but are soon confronted with a message from Sheridan on a screen nearby refusing to bargain with terrorists for the lives of hostages. Sheridan gives them the choice to surrender or to die, with ten minutes to decide. One of the people raises a gun, and the sound of gunfire is heard as Latimere ends the clip. Exeter feels that Sheridan was pathological, and that he was power-hungry, never letting anything get in his way. Tashaki thinks it was, instead, a sophisticated PR campaign.
"And then there's that bit about the way his death was handled," Exter says.
"Exactly," Tashaki agrees. "Everyone knows Sheridan died on Minbar. The cover story they put out was designed to perpetuate the myth of his character. And I guess it worked, 'cause a lot of people still believe it, eighty years later."
Latimere then asks them about Delenn - Exeter feels it's ridiculous to believe that Delenn is still alive, living in seclusion, and that the Alliance is using that for their own purposes. Tashaki also agrees, wondering why, if the Alliance is truly that strong, they need the lies and myths.
Latimere asks if they feel the Alliance has been a force for good. Exter basically thinks so, but also believes that the Alliance's original motives may not have been as pure as believed. Tashaki thinks that it is unfair to give Sheridan and Delenn undue credit. As she is about to continue, an alarm sounds, and Latimere informs them that there has been a security breach in the building.
Three Minbari walk in, and the one in the lead is very recognizable. It is a much older Delenn. "John Sheridan was a good, kind, and decent man," she says. Latimere asks her if she came so far to say that, to which she responds, "You came just as far to say less." She tells them that they don't truly wish to know anything - they ignore that which they truly know because it is inconvenient, and they invent that which they do not know. Delenn insists that Sheridan was a good and kind man that cared about Earth, even when everyone turned their backs to him. She starts to walk away, but is interrupted by Exeter, mentioning that they would expect her to say that. She tells them good-bye, and looks around at their faces, finding nothing to give her reason to stay. She turns and leaves.
"Record ends," the computer voice intones. "Auto play feature engaged. Loading next sequence. Date: Five hundred years from first time period. Stand by."
In room with a conference table, the rear wall glowing blue, a man, Daniel, steps forward from the wall. He hits a few keys on the control he is carrying, and the blue wall changes into a Babylon 5 background. He explains, for the benefit of posterity, the "virtual environment" is identical to that of Babylon 5 in 2262, and is as accurate as possible, given the age of the records available, and the destruction of the station 480 years earlier. He turns to the camera. "The purpose of this simulation is to provide reverse-correct infospeak as support for current changes in Earth policy. That is, the new policy that the Interstellar Alliance is restrictive, against the best interests of Earth. Intent is to deconstruct historical figures revered by Prole Sector, thereby legitimizing current government policies."
He activates the control holograms - one of Sheridan, one of Delenn, one of Dr. Franklin, and one of Garibaldi. He explains that, to determine if research has been thorough enough, the holograms will be imbued with the psychological makeups of the people in question, and will therefore behave "in a fashion consistent with realfact." The holograms do believe that they are Babylon 5 in the year 2262, and as the next step in the process, Daniel updates the holograms with information gathered during the ensuing 500 years they cannot recall. Sheridan realizes what Daniel is trying to do - use the vids as propaganda (or, as Daniel calls them, "goodfacts") to justify a break from the Alliance, because Earth needs room to expand that the Alliance doesn't allow them. Garibaldi realizes they have been recreated to provide false records. The people who created the Alliance are now being used to undermine it. As the memories of the last 500 years become loaded into their memories, the holograms realize they are on the verge of another civil war, with the Daniel's group wanting to invade worlds still loyal to the Alliance - their legacy is a hindrance, and they must be deconstructed.
As the four holograms begin to finally understand what's going on, Daniel beings phase 3 of his project - a goodfact scenario. The area around them changes to a corridor in Babylon 5, with Sheridan's personality reprogrammed. He explains to a holographic group of aliens - who surrendered in hopes of finding mercy - that he shows no mercy to the weak. He promises to "blaze a path across the galaxy" using their blood. Sheridan orders his officers to fire at the aliens, which they do. Delenn, Garibaldi, and Franklin begin to formulate a plan, but they are stopped by Daniel when he begins a new simulation, this time using Franklin, who explains - in a holographic medlab - his method of using alien organs in human bodies to create a genetic cross-breed for use by the Alliance.
Daniel pauses the program to make some notes, and Garibaldi begins speaking to him. Daniel has little desire to talk to him and tries to deactivate the program, but Garibaldi suggests he not do that - he might have some useful information. After all, Garibaldi claims, he did most of the strategic planning during the war, and that kind of information could make Daniel look very good to his superiors, but he will need just a few questions answered. Daniel admits that he does know what his superiors are planning - they are going to attack the outer colonies, and the enemy nations on Earth simultaneously. He also reveals that, to demoralize the enemy, they will attack civilian population centers. Daniel asks what Garibaldi would suggest they do. "I suggest," Garibaldi replies, "that you put your head between your legs and you kiss your ass goodbye."
Daniel attempts to deactivate Garibaldi, but it won't work - while all of the new information was being downloaded into the Garibaldi hologram, he learned how to use the system to transmit their entire conversation to the "enemy" forces. Garibaldi predicts that, since they are more humanitarian, they will probably only target military facilities. Daniel doesn't believe him, but the red alert klaxons sounding change his mind, and he still can't deactivate the simulation. Garibaldi asks if, by any chance, they are currently on military base, and, without replying, Daniel lets out an urgent scream and leaves the room, running through the blue field as quickly as he can. Garibaldi's hologram walks over to his comrades, and says to them, "Rest easy friends. Rest easy," just as the base is engulfed in a blinding flash of white light.
"Record ends," continues the computer voice. "Auto play feature engaged. Loading next sequence. Date: One thousand years from first time period. Stand by."
In an old library or study, with a man, in monk's robes, adjusts the camera, amazed the mechanism still works after so long. He says he needs to begin his report, but is interrupted by a knock at the door. He answers it, and admits another, younger monk, bearing a large book, into the room. Brother Michael, the younger monk, says he's having a crisis of faith.
Brother Alwyn asks what the problem is this time, and Michael replies that he doesn't know why he's there, or what his purpose is, or to what end he is pursuing God's work. Brother Michael explains that he heard a rumor that their request for recognition has been turned down by Rome again, and asks if it's true. Alwyn says they don't understand the wisdom of their mission to keep alive knowledge of the past that would otherwise have been lost after the Great Burn 500 years earlier. Alwyn says that science isn't Rome's calling, but Michael wants to know how they can be sure it is theirs. Since most of the records were lost during the Great Burn, they only have word of mouth to go on. Alwyn says they still have the holy books written after the Great Burn that tell of the battles that burned the air and the sea, accounts which can be verified by looking outside.
Michael says it's all too clean and too thought out, and opens the book he brought. He shows a picture of a being named Lorien, the Last of the First. Michael says the others claim he was a fable created to match scripture, but that no proof exists. Alwyn insists there is proof, in space - a place they can unfortunately not reach. Michael feels great sorrow at what has happened to Earth, and Alwyn reminds him that is why they are there, to preserve the ancient knowledge that still does exist. But Michael needs to know how they will ever create the flying machines mentioned in the books, or if they will ever find the truth that lies in the stars. He wants to know about Blessed Sheridan, who lived and died, taken "bodily into heaven" and the other people mentioned.
The one element that gives Brother Michael the most pause, however, is that of the prophesies of Delenn III, who predicted the An'la'shok - the Rangers - would come to Earth in its greatest hour of need and rebuild it. He says they have waited so long, and they have never come, that he is beginning to doubt that, as well as all the others. He is afraid that, because of that, his life might prove to have all been a lie. Alwyn tells Michael he cannot help him - only his faith can do that. Faith and reason must work together to look for the reason to continue. Alwyn tells Michael that if the Rangers did come back, they would never know about it. Their secret would be feared by those who blame science for the Great Burn. Michael asks Alwyn if he believes the Rangers are on Earth now, to which Alwyn responds that he believes they could be. That's enough for him, and for faith. Alwyn believes that should be enough for Michael as well. He closes the book, and tells Michael to finish illuminating upon it, that he has come too far to lose his faith. He ushers Michael to the door, but before Michael goes, he says that he hopes that, if the truth lies in the stars, he can one day walk among them. Alwyn tells him that he prays his wish will someday come true. After Brother Michael has left, Alwyn turns once again to the camera.
"Alwyn Macomber reporting in. Nothing of substance to report since my last. We think we may have gathered enough information from the time pre-Burn to assemble a working gasoline engine. Obviously, there is no gasoline in this part of the country, therefore, we ask the supply department if they could... arrange to have a suitable supply of gasoline found in the vicinity near the Abbey in a few days. Only this time, for Valen's sake, please make it look like an old container! The last one could have been produced a hundred years ago!" He moves to his closet and opens the door, and pulls out a black uniform with a green pin over the right breast. "We will rebuild the Earth, though it take us another two thousand years. But this time... We will build it better. I'm attaching a conversation I just had with Brother Michael, who, I still think, would be a worthy recruit, after he's grown a little. Give him another twenty years, and he'll be fine. Alwyn, An'la'shok, first sector, end report. We live for The One, we die for The One."
"Record ends. Autoplay feature complete," says the voice.
"Stand by," says a man.
"System has finished processing and archiving records for period of one million years from initial scanning date. Instructions?"
"Our job is finished," the man continues. "Convey records to New Earth."
"Confirmed," the computer voice says.
"Use enhanced tachyon sequence to ensure arrival in time for the celebrations."
"Confirmed. Note: Atypical solar emissions increasing in intensity. Estimate Sol will hit nova in less than 5 standard hours. Recommend immediate evacuation."
"Tell the others not to worry," the man tells the computer. "I wouldn't miss this for anything. Now go on." The computer display compacts itself into a small point of light, which then floats off. "This is how the world ends," the man says. "Swallowed in fire, but not in darkness. You will live on, the voice of all our ancestors, the voice of our fathers and our mothers to the last generation. We created the world we think you would have wished for us, and now we leave the cradle for the last time." The man turns and walks away, and after a few steps, changes into a ball of brilliant blue-white light. The ball of light floats over to the corner, where it merges with a tall device standing there. The device activates, and a small unit - closely resembling a head - emerges and the eyes glow.
A lone green ship begins flying away from a yellow star. The symbol of the Rangers is emblazoned on its side. As it creates and enters a jump point, the star explodes...
...and becomes the flame of a candle.
Delenn turns to Sheridan as they lie in bed. "You should sleep. We both have early meetings."
"Yeah, I know... I was just thinking about it all, everything we've done... And what I said earlier... And I was wondering if they will remember us a hundred years from now, or a thousand. And I figure, probably not."
"But it doesn't matter. We did what we did because it was right, not to be remembered. And history will attend to itself. It always does." They kiss each other, and then hug and smile.
Dedicated to all the people who predicted that the Babylon Project would fail in its mission.
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