VOICES (V/I)

By Frieda W. Landau

 

 

 

Hi,

Continuing Voices through season 5 posed some problems not encountered in previous seasons. For one thing, there are great blocks of time unaccounted for by the episodes, including the three months between the end of "View from the Gallery" and the beginning of "Learning Curve"! What were Delenn and Sheridan doing all that time?

Then, there are the politics of the Alliance, and how the President and Entil'Zha handled the routine and not so routine problems. We saw a little bit of that, but didn't really get a sense of what is involved in the day to day running of the Alliance. How did John and Delenn reconcile their private lives with their public duties? Where did the authority of the President and of Entil'Zha overlap and where did it conflict? Did they bring their public problems to bed with them? How did they handle married life? And what was behind that awful orange hair?

But, most of all, there are the related problems of the aftermath of John's captivity and Michael's responsibility for John's capture. What aftereffects did Sheridan suffer? How did he deal with them? How did he work closely with Garibaldi again, and trust him again, after such a betrayal? Why did he miss the signs that Michael was drinking again? Was he bending over backward to avoid giving the appearance that he didn't trust his head of covert operations?

I've tried to answer these and other questions as best I can. John hasn't always been forthcoming with the information. And Delenn won't say anything because she's still editing her letters for publication.

This is the first half of Voices, Part 5, from "The Long Night of Londo Mollari" ("No Compromises" is covered near the end of Part 4) to the beginning of the war against the Centauri. The second half will cover the rest of the season and life on Minbar, and end, hopefully, with David's birth. I can't promise when it will be finished, but I will finish it eventually, promise.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the first half. Feedback - positive and negative - is always welcome.

 

 

 

 

*****



   President John Sheridan, Personal log: 30 January 2262:

   Damn! Delenn is taking this very hard. I think she expected that nothing would change after our wedding, that everything would be as it was. Or was it just wishful thinking on her part? I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. If I were in Lennier's position, I would have gone long ago. It must be intolerable for him, watching us together. I don't care what his training is: no male can take it, knowing that the woman he loves is happy in another man's arms. I tried to tell Delenn, but she just snapped at me. Three may be sacred to the Minbari, but not in this case. But the Rangers! That's the last place I would have guessed. Still, it makes sense in a weird sort of way. I think he wants to become more like me, a warrior, as he sees it, in the hope that Delenn will find him more attractive. Poor sap. He's going to hurt for a long time, until he can accept that she's never going to love him the way he wants her to. I wish I could help him. I wish I could help Delenn. I wish she wouldn't shut herself up with her pain....

   I'm worried about Londo, too. If he can hang on 'till morning, Stephen says he's probably be all right. I hope so. Londo is not a young man anymore, though he still eats and drinks like one. He's been a pain in my butt ever since I got here, but Delenn is right. We'll miss him if he goes. And not only because he's become as staunch an ally as he was an enemy. Despite everything, I like him, and so does Delenn.

   And there're the political implications as well. The Centauri are an important part of the Interstellar Alliance. If Londo dies, his world will be thrown into turmoil. No one is strong enough to take power, and no faction trusts any other enough to share power. Civil war would be a real possibility. And what would be worse, from our standpoint, those grabbing for power might try to start a war that would drag in the Alliance. I don't even want to start thinking about that prospect. Londo, you're too wily an old war horse to die so easily. Hang on....

   

   President John Sheridan, Personal Log: 2 February 2262:

   Londo made it. He's already complaining about the food in Medlab. Stephen wants to keep him a while longer, just in case, if Londo doesn't drive the entire medical staff crazy. Delenn is happy he's going to be okay. I just wish I could be sure Delenn will be okay. She won't talk about Lennier, at least not with me. I understand why not, but I wish it were otherwise. I hope she's talking to Mayan at least. I didn't get a chance to spend much time with Delenn's old friend, but I like her. I think I'll suggest Delenn invite her to visit us.

   

   President John Sheridan, Personal log: 3 February 2262:

   Mars officially becomes independent on the third of March. The invitation came today. We have to go, of course, but it's going to be very tricky. I'll have to make a speech, too, one that will celebrate Mars' independence without rubbing it in the faces of EarthGov. Delenn is better at that sort of thing. She'll have to go over it with me, line by line. I can imagine the uproar if the President of the Interstellar Alliance appears to show favoritism to one member state over another. I wonder if I can get away with a simple congratulations to all parties concerned. Probably not.

   I didn't really expect to be going back to Mars so soon. At least this time there's no crisis and I'm sure they've forgiven Lieutenant Sheridan for his role in the food riots. I hated that assignment. The rioters were trying to help their people and I couldn't really blame them for that, but they had to be stopped. That's the sort of thing the Alliance has to prevent. We've got to make sure that conditions never get so bad that violence seems the only way out.

   

   President John Sheridan, Personal log: 5 February 2262:

   Delenn never ceases to surprise me. That remark about terror being a form of communication. She's right, of course, but it was so incongruous coming from her, especially sitting on the couch like that, just after dinner. I'm going to have to remember that my wife has much more experience than I do in matters diplomatic and her judgment is probably better than mine. No, no probably about it! I would have liked to see her in action as a satai. I don't see how the others on the Grey Council ever withstood her when she was determined. She never talks about her time on the Council or about Dukhat either. Just brief hints here and there, like tonight. I won't ask her. She's closed that part of her life and wants to keep it closed. I can't help wondering about her and Dukhat, though....

   Delenn surprises me in all sorts of more personal ways too. Like when she insisted I read G'Kar's statement of Alliance principles aloud to her. She made me feel like no one in the universe could have done it better.

   

   President John Sheridan, Personal log: 7 February 2262:

   I still don't like working with the telepaths. I don't trust them. Michael's right, though. We need them for what's coming. And they have proved useful so far. I don't think the Drazi will try anything like that again. Not that I expect them to become model members of the Alliance. They'll continue to cut corners and try whatever they think they can get away with to further their own interests, and so will all the other Alliance states, even Minbar. It's a fact of political life I'm going to have to deal with from now on. For every satisfying ending like with the Enphili, there are going to be lots of difficulties like with the Drazi or worse. And telepaths helped with both. If Lyta hadn't been around to get the information from the dying ranger, the Enphili would have been destroyed. She saved a lot of lives.

   I wonder what's the matter with Lyta lately. When I wanted to thank her for her help, both with the ranger and with Byron, she wasn't interested. She's distancing herself from all her friends. Maybe I should try to talk to her....

   

   President John Sheridan, Personal log: 8 February 2262:

   ...The nightmares have started again. I thought I was over them. All that time I spent with the shrinks on Earth two months ago and then the Minbari healers, I thought I was over it. Especially after that Minbari telepath worked on me. Delenn hasn't noticed yet. She's preoccupied at the moment and I've been able to persuade her that it's just a few bad dreams, probably from all the teething pains of the Alliance. But that won't work for long. I'm still not ready to talk to her about what happened when Clark's people had me, at least not in detail. After those sessions with the healers, I told her a little, all I was comfortable with, about the attempts to mess with my mind, and how the image of her kept me going. She told me she saw me then, sitting in that damned chair, smiling at her. I told her she imagined it as worse than it was, but I don't think she believed me. She didn't press me at the time. I'm not ready to tell her any more. Maybe I'll never be ready.

   

   President John Sheridan, Personal log: 13 February 2262:

   I shouldn't have tried to send Delenn away from the station. It was as much her duty to remain as mine. Her Rangers are here and her place was with them. We've been over this before, about our tendency to protect each other, and then I go and try to do just that. I thought I learned my lesson when she fought the Drakh mother ship. And I was glad she was at my side during the inaugural fiasco. So why was I so adamant about sending her away yesterday? I don't know...maybe now that we're married, I want to see her only as my wife and not as my partner. I'm going to have to watch that tendency or I'll really be in trouble.

   Actually, I shouldn't have stayed myself. Babylon 5 is no longer my responsibility. I only made it harder for Captain Lochley. I'm sure she assigned security personnel to watch over me, personnel that could have been better used elsewhere. My days of leading the battle are over. I'd better get used to that fact. My only battlefield now is the Council chamber. My troops are files of data and my weapons are persuasion and cajolery. But at least my best ally is still Delenn. I think I'll go find her now and prove it to her. We're sleeping at her place tonight.

   

   ....Personal log: 15 February 2262:

   The Alliance and EarthForce are jointly examining the debris - and the bodies - of the raiders. So far, there's no indication of where they come from. But we have found out one disquieting fact: there is evidence of Shadow technology in a few of the weapons recovered from the dead. Are they Shadow allies? Are they allies of Shadow servants such as the Drakh? And how many more like them are out there?

   And why did they choose to attack Babylon 5? Was it just a trial by raiders to see if we would be relatively easy targets, or was it a deliberate attack on the Alliance, or EarthForce, or both? Delenn has sent out Rangers to try to backtrack the invaders. I am very much afraid, and so is she, that the trail will lead to the area around Z'ha'dum....

   

   ....Personal log: 17 February 2262:

   The Mars trip is becoming more complicated. MarsGov wants to present a medal to Entil'Zha in appreciation for the role of the Rangers in the liberation. Delenn is reluctant to accept. She says the Rangers were only a part of the whole Army of Light, and were merely doing their job. But she also realizes the new government needs to start its own traditions and have its own heroes, separate from Earth. I think she'll agree in the end. I teased her that the only reason she's reluctant is that she'll have to give a speech too, which earned me one of her looks. So I kissed her! There are advantages to working with your wife.

   MarsGov also wants to combine the ceremony for entry into the Alliance with the independence ceremonies. I can't blame them. They want the protection of the Alliance, such as it is at this point, as soon as possible, before Earth tries to make things difficult for the new government. But that means we'll be on Mars for at least a week. And, God help me, I'll have to give another speech! This one will be easier though. I can just crib from Delenn's speech at EarthDome and read part of the Declaration of Principles. And with all the pre celebration activities, we'll have to arrive on Mars at least three days before the official independence ceremony. Looks like we'll be spending closer to two weeks there.

   

   ....Personal log: 20 February 2262:

   ...Delenn wondered last night when I was going to stop pretending that the nightmares were caused by Alliance problems. She's known all along. But I can't bring myself to talk to her about them, except in very general terms. She said she can accept that for now, but that I'd better talk to someone or I won't survive the Mars trip. She's right, I know...maybe I'll try to talk to Stephen...it's so hard....

   

   ....Personal log: 21 February 2262:

   Londo will be the most senior member of the Alliance government on B5 while we're on Mars. That's a frightening thought. Fortunately, there is no pressing business, just the routine problems. I'm leaving guidelines for him, which I hope he'll follow. And strict instructions that if anything out of the ordinary comes up, he's to call me. It's not that I don't trust him, but he is his government's representative and it would be natural for him to be biased.

   Delenn misses her aide right now. She has refused to accept a replacement for Lennier. Perhaps, in time, she'll change her mind. I don't know. She has so much to do before we leave for Mars. And with Marcus gone, there is no senior Ranger she knows well enough to leave in command on the station. I suggested she choose someone who had been stationed here during the Shadow war. At least then someone who knows his way around will be in charge. But that still leaves her the problem of a stand_in for her role as the ambassador from Minbar. I think she's going to decide Babylon 5 and the Alliance can get along without a Minbari representative for two weeks.

   I don't think I've realized just how much responsibility Delenn has in so many areas. She always handles everything so well and makes it look so easy. Now that I stop to think of it, I'm amazed she has any time for herself, or for us, at all. But she can't keep this up indefinitely. I'll be glad when the Alliance moves headquarters to the permanent facilities on Minbar. That will relieve Delenn of at least one of her duties.

   

   ....Personal log: 25 February 2262:

   Delenn finds it all very amusing (come to think of it, she finds a lot amusing now that we're married and more or less living together) and Stephen says the side effects will wear off once I get it out of my system, but they don't have to live with it. They're not the ones walking around with hair a sickly orange color! We're supposed to leave for Mars in two days and it still hasn't worn off! I am not going to give a speech looking like I escaped from a circus! How was I supposed to know that antibiotic shouldn't be taken with that Minbari fruit juice? Stephen's supposed to be the expert on Minbari biology. He should have warned me. I suppose I can't really blame him either. No one's really done any studies on how human and Minbari medicines and foods interact. There's never been much need, until now. Maybe I'll suggest it to Stephen as part of his ongoing xenobiological research....

   

   ....Personal log: 27 February 2262:

   Aboard White Star 17: It still seems odd being just a passenger on a White Star. I'll have to get used to it. I doubt very much that I'll ever command from the bridge of a warship again. Even if the Alliance goes to war. I have to accept that. I'm a politician now, a bureaucrat, not a soldier who can go tearing off at the first sign of trouble.

   I'm deliberately staying away from the bridge to make it easier on the captain. I bet he feels odd too, knowing I'm aboard and probably itching to take over the controls.

   But there are some compensations. Delenn and I have two whole days to relax before we reach Mars, even though I still have to finish up that independence speech. I'm not entirely happy with the paragraph about future Earth/Mars relations....

   

   ....Personal log: 2 March 2262:

   1500 hrs. mst: We're staying at the former Governor's official residence, which will soon become the presidential residence. The officials who greeted us apologized that the apartment was so small, only a bedroom, sitting room and bath, but it's almost twice the size of my quarters on B5. We can actually both work in the same room without getting in each other's way. Michael's friend, Lise Edgars, invited us to stay with her at the estate, but I agreed with Delenn that we need to avoid any appearance of favoritism to any faction on Mars. Besides, Delenn doesn't like her very much. She thinks she's wrong for Michael.

   The official receptions and such have already started. Last night we attended the last ball given by the outgoing Earth governor. Delenn, as usual, was the most beautiful woman there. She wore one of the gowns she bought on Earth, a deep blue one I'd never seen her in before. With her hair up in curls around her crest, she looked like a fairy tale princess. When I told her so, she said they must have been very uncomfortable then, with all those pins necessary to hold the curls in place. She said Liz told her the reason she wore her hair so short was to avoid the bother of putting it up. I wonder if we can squeeze in a visit to Proxima on the way home. Probably not, but it would please Delenn and Liz, and me too. We left early, pleading fatigue from the trip. We weren't tired, at least not very much, but we couldn't tell our hosts that we were bored. We've only been here a day and a half and already we've both had our fill of politicians and bureaucrats and business people all angling for favor with the President and Vice President of the Alliance. There's another party tonight and then the independence ceremonies start tomorrow. It's going to be a long two weeks. Actually, it's only one week according to the Mars calendar, but if I try to go by that, I'll never get to any event on the right day.

   Speaking of which, a messenger just delivered some papers to me. Probably a copy of the official schedule for tomorrow's ceremonies. I suppose I should look at them, to see if there are any changes I should know about....

   NOOOOOO...I WON'T! I CAN'T! NOOOO....THEY CAN'T! NOOOO...

   John! What is wrong? John. Tell me. Please, John....Log off!

   1730 hrs. mst: Damn! I left the log on. Now I'll have to edit and...the hell with it! Why bother? This is supposed to be a record of how I feel as well as what I think. And right now I'm totally bewildered on both counts. Maybe if I read it again, it will make more sense. Here it is. Let's see...subpoena...testify...defense...People vs William... penalty of contempt....

   I knew Mars was trying some of Clark's people for war crimes, those that survived the civil war and could be found. I haven't paid much attention, though. I guess I was afraid to...afraid to open old wounds...afraid how I would react. Well, now I know. After I started screaming...good thing there's no one else around at the moment, they're trying to give us as much privacy as possible...when Delenn came rushing in, I was huddled on the floor against the side of the couch, shaking uncontrollably. Delenn held me until I finally stopped. When she was sure I was okay, she said Stephen warned her that I would likely have a severe reaction to something trivial. I started laughing then, which really frightened her. I told her I was sorry and showed her the subpoena. She sat there on the floor with me and read it through twice. She couldn't believe it either. Monstrous was the word she used. I couldn't argue with her.

   We're finally going to have that talk now. Delenn was right. I should have talked about it with her months ago. But now that I"m ready, we can't. The Mars Senate is hosting a reception this evening and if we don't go, they'll take it as an insult and a sign that the Alliance favors Earth. Maybe we can get away early again, on the grounds that we left the Earth party early last night and it wouldn't be fair to stay longer. I don't believe I have to resort to such idiocy. I better go get ready now. I'll have to wear that new suit. Delenn says it looks fine, but I have my doubts. The trousers don't feel right. I thought that tailor was in too much of a hurry. Life was much easier when all I had to worry about was whether my uniform was buttoned straight.

   

   ...Personal Log: 3 March 2262:

   0100 hrs. mst: I should go back to bed. The independence ceremonies start early and it wouldn't do for the President of the Alliance to fall asleep during the speeches. The interim president, until Mars has full elections next year, has to be one of the dullest men I've ever met....I'm avoiding again. I got up to think about what I told Delenn a bit earlier, not blather on about boring politicians and inane social events....

   The reception ended early so we had no problems getting away. Delenn was gorgeous as usual in a gold and red Minbari gown. And it's not avoiding to stop and admire my wife! We got ready for bed and then sat on the couch holding hands. She thought it might be a little easier for me if we weren't face to face. Maybe she was right. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I guess I finally accepted that I would tell her eventually. I didn't go into all the details of the physical torture. Delenn is well aware of such things. I talked about how I felt, how I tried to hold on, and how close I came to breaking....

   I came so close. When they offered me the sun...I was so tired. Only the vision of Delenn kept me going. I told her that before, but I never told her how. But I reached a point where I don't think even Delenn could have sustained me. I was so afraid the next time I would break. If Stephen and Michael hadn't gotten me out of there when they did, I think I would have broken. And that terrifies me even now. I tried to explain to Delenn that it wasn't so much the thought of breaking, but the knowledge that if I did, I would betray her. That's what they wanted. I couldn't bear the thought of that. That was the lowest point. I kept thinking about an old 20th century story about totalitarianism where the hero finally betrays the woman he loves at the end. I wasn't strong enough to resist them forever. I would rather die. I tried to die. I finally figured out how to do it. I determined to choke on my own vomit. Delenn squeezed my hand when I told her that, but she didn't say anything. She just continued to sit and listen, holding my hand. But I couldn't even do that. They stopped giving me the drugs that made me sick. I don't know if they suspected what I was going to do or whether it was part of the usual treatment. And I was so dehydrated by then, all I could manage were dry heaves. I think Delenn started to cry at this point. I wasn't sure because I was crying a bit too.

   Then Delenn turned my face toward her and placed the hand she was holding over her heart. She said I could never betray her, no matter what I was forced to say or do. That her heart and mine were one and she would know that in my heart I did not betray her. And nothing could ever change that. Her eyes were shining, but it wasn't from crying. There was such a light in them....We sat like that, with my hand on her heart, for a little while, before I started talking again.

   Then I started to talk about something I never told anyone. Not the human shrinks, not the Minbari healers. Although I think that telepath may have suspected. Lorien's gift gave me twenty years, barring illness or injury. I kept thinking, even if I got out of there, would I still have those years to be with her. Or had my idiocy in tearing off alone like that, trusting Michael, and trusting that if I were captured, Clark would release Dad, shortened the time even more? By not listening to anyone and being so certain I could do something all by myself, had I destroyed whatever future I have left? Had I destroyed any chance that we would have a child, a son like in my glimpse of the future? And would that future even happen? Would I even be there to try to help my son and my wife? That's what a lot of the nightmares have been about. I was still terrified, too afraid to ask Stephen or the other doctors. I started to cry then in earnest, all the while telling Delenn how sorry I was that I destroyed our future, how sorry that we wouldn't even have those twenty years.

   Delenn tried to tell me something but I was crying too hard to hear. She put her arms around me and drew me to her breast and let me cry, all the while rocking and stroking me. Finally, when I was all cried out, she wiped my tears with the sleeve of her robe and smiled. That was the first thing she asked Stephen, once she knew I would make a full physical recovery. Stephen couldn't be a hundred percent certain, he'd never encountered anything like those 'things' that are in me, but judging from my previous physicals, everything seemed to be okay. There was no sign of degradation or entropy beyond the normal. I was so relieved! I guess I really should have talked to Delenn earlier. When I told her that, she said I know she's usually right so why did I give her such a hard time about this. I laughed then, and after a moment, so did she, but her lips were trembling.

   Then she said we'd talked enough for now, and we would talk again another time. She was right about this, so she's probably right about talking again too. We went to bed then. I had so dreaded this talk and now all I feel is relief, like a weight is gone. I really should listen to my wife more often.

   I think I can sleep now....

   1630 hrs. mst: Well, that's over. It wasn't as bad as I feared. I didn't fall asleep during the speeches. No one complained about my speech, so I must not have offended anyone. The laser display was very impressive, almost like the real thing. But I understand why they didn't use real fireworks. They would have had to add oxygen to the explosive mix to compensate for the lack of atmosphere and that's always very tricky. There's one more party tonight and then we're free for a while. The Alliance ceremony isn't until the end of the week and Delenn's medal ceremony is a few days after that.

   ...I still can't get my head around that subpoena...what does he hope to gain by making me testify for the defense? What can I say, except that I survived everything they did to me and I'm still alive....My God! That's it! Where's that paper? Hmmm....yes... murder and attempted murder among the charges....The bastard wants to use me to prove that no one was supposed to be killed, that murder was never the intention. Well, if he wants me to testify I survived, I'm damn well going to let the world know just what it was I had to survive!

   

   ...5 March 2262:

   I persuaded ISN to loan me some of their vids of the trials that have been going on. They're fascinating viewing. Sort of like watching an accident. You're horrified, but you can't look away. Watching is not as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe it's because I didn't have any first hand experience with those on trial. The details are all too familiar, but hearing them like that, from others, I wonder how I managed to endure it. Sometimes it all seems like a bad dream, a nightmare that's too vivid after you wake up. That will probably change when William goes on trial. I still don't know if I can face him. But I have to. The trials are in recess now, until the celebrations are over. That will give me some time to get ready. The defense lawyers are going to depose me tomorrow. If I can get through that, I'll have a better idea....

   Delenn and I talked again last night. It was easier this time, now that she knows the worst. She asked me why I felt so ashamed that I almost broke. Did I think that I was so much stronger and wiser than anyone else in that situation? She pointed out that my captors knew all about me: my training, my career, how I handled stress, how I coped with adversity. Would it have been so surprising if I had broken? And if I had, would it really have been such a disaster? Susan and the others, Mackie and Captain James and Stephen and even Michael, would have carried on with help from her and the Rangers. Our plans were too far advanced to be stopped. It would have been harder, sure, but we would have won in the end. Was it just my ego that made me think I was indispensable? Is that what I'm afraid to face? I'm going to have to think about this a lot more....

   And I'm going to have to talk to Delenn a lot more too....

   

   ...6 March 2262:

   I spent the afternoon in an alternate universe, or down a rabbit hole. It's the only explanation I can think of. It can't have been real. I went to the courthouse to meet with the defense lawyers so they could depose me. At first, everything seemed normal. There were two of them, although only the older one did the talking. The younger one just sat there, staring at me. Very disconcerting, but I suppose that was the idea. The first few questions were the usual, name, age, occupation. Then, the older one folded his hands on the table and asked me about my meeting with William Smith. I think I blinked a few times. Smith, was that his name? No one's named Smith! Then the import of the question hit me. Meeting? Did that damned shyster think I was there voluntarily? That's when reality disappeared.

   I tried to tell him the meeting was not my idea, that it was entirely involuntary on my part. I was a prisoner, for God's sake, strapped to a torture device that masqueraded as a chair. He waved his hand in the air as if to say that was just a minor detail, not worth bothering about. He asked whether, in all the time we spent together, William ever struck me. I had to answer no. Did he ever hit me? No. Slap me? No. Kick me? No. Punch me? No. We must have gone through the whole litany of blows. Then, the lawyer said that, in fact, William did nothing to hurt me. I reminded him about the poisoned sandwich. Even thinking about that corned beef sandwich now is making me queasy. But didn't William eat some of that sandwich too? Surely, he wouldn't have if he knew it was poisoned. Was I so certain that my toxic reaction was due to the sandwich? Couldn't it have been due to my general physical condition? After all, who knew what I'd been eating and drinking? What alien substances I'd consumed, cut off from Earth and dependent on other races for vital supplies? Perhaps my system was no longer used to good human food? I think I pinched myself at that point. But this was worse than any of my nightmares. I couldn't answer. I just shook my head. And the lawyer looked smug and said by my own words, William never harmed me physically.

   I finally found my voice and reminded them of the pain collar that emitted excruciating pain whenever I came within a certain distance from my tormenter. The lawyer smiled and said I was what, a few inches over six feet and about 200 pounds. I said that's about right and he smiled again. Was it any wonder that William was afraid of me? I was at least four inches taller and forty pounds heavier than his client. Could I blame him for taking sensible steps to prevent an attack on his person? After all, I was so much bigger and stronger, and a trained fighter too. And I was wanted for sedition and treason. Surely I could see prudent precautions were not out of line? I almost lost it then. Only the knowledge that if I lost my temper now, I'd be playing right into his hands stopped me. That and the thought of what Delenn would say if I did.

   I spent the rest of the time, around three hours altogether, in a daze, answering the questions automatically and without emotion. When I got back to our quarters, Delenn was waiting. She'd cut short her own meetings to be there. I didn't say anything. I just handed her my copy of the deposition. She was standing at first. As she read it, she slowly sat down on the couch. She kept shaking her head and muttering in Minbari. I caught a few references to eternal darkness and shadows. Finally, she put it down on the end table and wiped her hands on her tunic, as though she had just handled something vile and unclean. She said it was diabolical. How could they possibly do this? What kind of legal system would allow this? I tried to explain that a defense attorney was supposed to do everything possible to present the best case for his client, short of perjury. And as bizarre as it was, there was nothing in that deposition that wasn't a true fact. It was the speculation that distorted everything, but speculation wasn't forbidden.

   Delenn got mad then. Blazing, furiously angry. She railed against a system that would allow such a monstrous distortion and submit me to the same torture again in the name of justice. I think if that lawyer were here, she would have killed him with the force of her rage alone. The storm was over then as suddenly as it had begun. She calmed down and apologized for losing her temper like that. She was not being very helpful, she said. I hugged her and then we talked about what I could do to prevent William's lawyers from using me like that. We decided I would talk to the prosecutors after the ceremonies the next day. I won't let William win again....

   

   ...7 March 2262:

   Today was the first official ceremony welcoming a new member into the Interstellar Alliance. I was impressed by the number of representatives from the other worlds who showed up. Everyone seemed eager to take part. Maybe we should have had more formal induction rituals besides the farce of my inauguration. I should talk to Delenn about this. She understands the importance of rituals.

   There was only one sour note. EarthGov filed an objection to Mars' entry. They said there were still many details involving independence that were not fully resolved and entry of Mars into the Alliance would prejudice Earth's interests. Nice try, but it didn't work. We're going to have to watch that situation. Keeping the peace among members is part of the charter and I have a feeling Mars and Earth are going to test that article to the limit.

   It's hard keeping my mind on Alliance business right now. This trip is turning out to be even worse than I feared....

   

   ...10 March 2262:

   ...It's no good. I can't go into court, not with William sitting there, staring at me. I'm afraid that I'll be unable to testify. I'm afraid that I won't be able to do anything except cower from him. I've got to meet with him first...prove to myself that he can't hurt me anymore....

   

   ...11 March 2262:

   Michael called a little while ago with an interesting theory. He thinks I was subpoenaed because the lawyers think I'll use my influence to quash the trial rather than testify. I hadn't thought of that, but if it's true, they don't know me very well. Michael also wanted permission to dig up some dirt on the lawyers to give us some ammunition. I told him no. We argued back and forth for a while, until he gave up.

   I guess Michael's feeling guilty again. Well, he should. I know he was under Bester's control, but it wasn't all Bester. Turning me over to Clark wasn't part of the plan. When we debriefed Lyta after she probed Michael, she told us everything she'd learned, including the stuff she didn't pass along to the resistance. That's what eats at me. He turned me over and just stood there watching. He was so ready to think the worst of me that he didn't care. He used me as a means to an end. He wouldn't have done it if it was Sinclair....

   I don't know...maybe I'm being unfair to him. His first words to me were "I don't know you." Did he ever? Does he now? And do I really know him? Circumstances threw us together. But we did become friends...I'm sure of that. Just before the end, before I went to Z'ha'dum, we were close....But not as close as I am to Susan. The way Michael was close to Sinclair.

   God, I miss Susie. I wish she could have stayed, become commander of the station. From a purely selfish point of view, it would have made my life easier. I wouldn't have to tiptoe around, making sure I don't step on Capt. Lochley's authority. Listen to me! I can't even call her Elizabeth in the privacy of my own log! And if Delenn ever finds out....Yet, it would have been impossible. I could never have appointed Susan to the command of Babylon 5. She's too close to me, too identified with the rebellion. I had to appoint someone from EarthForce, someone who was known to be loyal. And she needs time to heal, away from the station and all the memories. But I do miss her. So does Delenn. Susan's one of the few humans she was friends with before her transformation. Susan and Michael....

   I'm back to Michael again. I'm not surprised. I've got to come to terms with what he did and how I feel. Despite everything, he's a good man and deserves better from me.

   I'd better stop now. Delenn will be back any moment. She's been busy all day with preparations for the ceremony tomorrow. And we have to attend another reception tonight. Actually, we're hosting it, at the Minbari Embassy. It's in honor of the Rangers. Delenn is relieved that she doesn't have to worry about what to wear. She's finally realized the benefits of having a uniform. Now if only the President of the Alliance had one.

   

   ...12 March 2262:

   Delenn accepted the award in the name of all the Rangers who died in the struggles for freedom and for all those who are working to preserve those freedoms. Watching her standing there, so small compared to the others, and yet she radiates so much power and authority, I'm always in awe of her at times like this.

   ...I just received word from the court. I've been given permission to see William for a few minutes....I can't decide if it's good news or not....especially since he asked to see me....

   

   ...14 March 2262:

   He's smaller than I remember. Shorter and skinnier....I almost didn't recognize him when I walked into the visitor's room. It took me a long time to open that door.... He was standing with his back to the door, hands clasped behind him. He didn't say anything for a long time. The silence was unnerving. I was tempted to bolt....Finally, when I felt had to say something, anything, or I would scream, he spoke without turning around. In a perfectly calm voice, he said if I expected an apology, I had come to the wrong place. I blinked a few times, I think, and then I said I wasn't. He turned around then and motioned me to sit at the table. I started to and then caught myself...it was almost like before...him giving the orders and me obeying....He just smiled when I said I'd rather stand....and I realized I was doing just what he expected. The bastard was still trying to manipulate me! I sat down, even though every atom in my body was screaming to run out the door and lock it behind me.

   He sat with his hands folded in front of him on the table and told me I looked like I had gained some weight. Most men did, right after they got married, he said. Was he married? I'd never thought of that before. Was there a wife, maybe some kids, too, wondering what would happen to him? I didn't want to think about that...it made him seem more human...and more monstrous....Besides, I was damned if I was going to talk about Delenn with him!

   The silence built again, but it was better this time. I kept reminding myself I could walk out at any time. Maybe it showed in my face or something. He shrugged and started to speak. I don't know if I can remember it all, but I want to get it down as close as possible.

   He started by saying that he only agreed to see me because he had something to say to me and this was the only way. He said I'd won, but that didn't matter. I was still a murderous traitor who should have been shot. That I mutinied against EarthForce, violated my oath as an officer, and led an armed insurrection against my own government, against his government. That I was guilty of treason and sedition and I should be the one on trial, me and my alien friends. Instead, a lot of people whose only crime was to keep faith with their government had their lives ruined...those that survived. How many died because I didn't like their politics? And all my crimes were committed in the name of saving Earth! He was shouting by this time. Saving Earth for what? So that EarthGov would be beholden to a bunch of aliens who would continue to try to undermine everything human?

   I sat there stunned. I knew he couldn't hurt me any more. But the venom in his voice.....He really believed this. I didn't know what to say to him. I had thought, maybe if I saw him, talked to him, I could make him understand that what he had done was wrong...that his orders were illegal and immoral... I don't know....Listening to him, I realized I had been kidding myself. We had nothing to say to each other.

   I got up and thanked him for seeing me. As I walked out the door, he shouted that he'd never killed anyone in his care. How many had I killed to save myself? I just kept walking. I didn't let him see me shaking.

   I don't know...maybe it made it worse, seeing him like that....

   ...At least I know now I won't run screaming out of the courtroom when I testify in three days....

   

   ...15 March 2262:

   Tomorrow I meet with the prosecutors. That's going to be much harder. The defense just wants general statements or simple yes and no answers from me. But the prosecution will want all the details to undermine the defense assertions. It's one thing to stand there in open court and say you've been tortured. But to tell them what it feels like to have electrodes attached to your genitals....

   I think I can understand better now, how the killer of Brother Edward felt. Mind wiping is not a very satisfactory form of punishment for the survivors. Their pain continues while the criminal starts a new life, his crimes forgotten as if they had never been. Prison is more satisfactory. Execution doubly so. But then, revenge is always more satisfactory than rehabilitation. There's a part of me...a very large part...that wants to see William executed for what he did to me, and to others. I've fantasized given the order to fire to a ppg armed squad as he cowers, begging for his life....Mars doesn't have a death penalty, which is just as well. I've never approved of execution, except for mutiny in the face of enemy fire, and I'm not going to start now. But a mindwipe seems so inadequate...maybe he'll be imprisoned....

   When I told Delenn about my conversation, if you can call it that, with William, she asked if it made a difference, knowing that he believed Clark's lies about me. I said I didn't know. I still don't know...I'm beginning to think I don't know anything anymore.... Not about this, not about the Alliance, not about myself...everything's changing, in ways that don't feel right...rushing headlong over a cliff...I don't know....

   There's only one unchanging constant in my life _ Delenn's love. As long as I have that....

   

   ...17 March 2262:

   It was almost as bad as I feared. The defense lawyers carefully worded their questions to me to get the answers they wanted. I tried to avoid it, but I couldn't help giving them at least a part of what they needed. Most of the objections by the prosecution were denied. As I left the witness box for the break before cross_examination by the other side, the lead defense lawyer _ the one who deposed me _ held out his hand. I was so surprised I was shaking it before I realized what I was doing. I quickly dropped his hand, but the damage was done. The jury had seen the handshake between the attorney for the accused and the chief witness against him.

   The prosecutor, an energetic young woman who reminds me a little of Susan in her mannerisms, tried to salvage the situation. She started off by saying that we were all very civil here in court, but things were very different in Clark's interrogation chambers. Then she began by reading back the defense questions and my answers. She asked me to elaborate on those answers, to fill in the details, for the record, she said. The judge denied the defense objections, pointing out that the door had been opened by their previous questions. That's when the defense asked for a bench conference, I think it's called, where the lawyers talk privately to the judge. Afterward, the defense offered to stipulate _ is that the term? _ that unpleasant things may have been done to me while I was in the custody of the defendant. The prosecutor, bless her, agreed only on condition that all the 'unpleasantness,' including the results of my medical exams after I was rescued, is entered into the official transcript. The defense said yes and I was excused. I was relieved I didn't have to talk about the filth and degradation....

   Later, she told me that the other side thought the truth of my captivity would seem less damning if the jury read it rather than hearing it from me and seeing how I react to the memories. But the curiosity of the jurors was piqued now, she said, and they would go over every detail very carefully, paying attention to every horror in a way they couldn't during live testimony. I hope she's right.

   She also told me I probably wouldn't be needed anymore, by either side, but if I were, I could testify by com from Babylon 5.

   I got the hell out of there as fast as I could, before anyone changed their mind.

   

   ...19 March 2262:

   We're finally going home the day after tomorrow! We could leave right now if it weren't for some unfinished Alliance business. MarsGov has requested the help of the Rangers to build up their defense forces. When Earth pulled out, they took most of the hardware with them, including the flyers. And what little they left needs trained personnel to operate. They want the White Star Fleet to patrol Mars space to prevent any attacks, especially from Earth, until Mars has at least the start of its own fleet. I don't think Earth is stupid enough to try to retake her former colony by force, but sight of a squadron of White Stars fully armed should squash any attempts. We'll have to talk to some of the other worlds about some sort of lend_lease program for Mars. They also want Rangers to operate what's left and train their people to take over. Delenn is working out the details.

   I think I'll suggest we stay in tonight and just relax. It really is a very nice apartment and the bed is very comfortable....

   

   ...28 March 2262:

   I was so eager to leave Mars and get back home...but I forgot what I was coming home to....I'm drowning in paperwork and so is Delenn. We barely see each other except when we stumble into bed bleary-eyed. At least it's the same bed. The last few days it's been the bed in my place. Delenn's is unavailable at the moment. It's covered with all kinds of architectural holographs and renderings and models of the new headquarters for the Alliance and the presidential compound. I have final approval, but Delenn knows the proposed sites and what will work and what won't, so I'll just sign off on her choice.

   I need a secretary or an assistant or something. But I can't use any of the station personnel. The other worlds wouldn't appreciate a member of EarthForce on my staff. And no matter who I choose, if it's someone from one of the Alliance worlds, the others will be distrustful, and anyway, it will have to be someone who is immune to bribes and threats...aw, hell, maybe I just better forget the whole thing. At least there are only one or two real problems. The rest is just routine. The sort of thing a confidential assistant could take care of...if I had one.

   The negotiations with Earth have hit a snag over the provision that all colonies have the right of self-determination. I guess it's understandable, given what happened with Mars. There's no real danger of a repetition, though. None of the other Earth colonies can go it alone, not even Proxima, but EarthGov is too spooked to realize that. We'll need to deal carefully with them. The Alliance is doomed without Earth, but I can't let Earth join under different provisions. It's going to take delicate handling. Ordinarily, I'd ask Delenn to take charge of the negotiations now, but she's so overworked, I can't bring myself to add anything else to her workload. Maybe G'Kar. The Narn have had dealings with Earth since before the Minbari war....

   Delenn needs an assistant even more than I do, but ever since Lennier left, she's refused to even consider another aide. I don't think she's accepted that he's not coming back. It's like she's expecting him to come back after he gets this 'Ranger nonsense' out of his system. She still won't talk about him...at least not to me....

   I think I'll have a quiet word with Senator Crosby. She was instrumental in persuading the Senate to vote for the negotiations last December. She'll be able to make her colleagues see reason on this, especially since she's head of the committee that will be the first to vote on the final treaty. But that's all I can do. Any active participation on my part will only antagonize those who still want to shoot me. And there'll be others who'll accuse me of favoring Earth because it's my home. But it isn't, not any more, and not for a long time now. The closest thing I've had to a home is this station, and that will only last until the Alliance moves to Minbar in half a year or so.

   I'm still feeling ambivalent about that. Living permanently on another planet, especially one where a good part of the population still thinks of me as 'Starkiller'. Delenn keeps telling me it doesn't matter. That as president of the Alliance, and her mate, I will be treated with respect and honor. I don't care about that. It's just...I don't know if I will ever be able to feel at home there. Still, I must admit that living even part time in Delenn's quarters, I find I'm really beginning to appreciate a lot of Minbari culture....

   It really doesn't matter, as long as Delenn is by my side. Where she is, is home enough for me.

   

    ...30 March 2262:

   The verdict came in today. Guilty on all counts. That means mindwipe. Can I accept that? Can I accept that my tormentor will become another person, someone who will be a useful, even valued member of society? I don't know...I just don't know....If I accept it, does that mean I must forgive? How can I? I can't...not now...not yet....when does revenge become justice...does it ever become justice or is it always revenge....

   I've been sitting here now for...I don't know how long... and staring at Brother Edward's carving.... He was such a good and caring man...but he was also a vicious killer...but I never knew him before...before he was mindwiped...if I had, could I have become his friend...knowing what he was...yet I accepted that his killer was no longer the same man...I didn't forgive him, really, just accepted...can I do that now...now that it's personal...can I accept that he's not the same man...that the man who tortured me so matter of factly, with no remorse or shame, doesn't exist any more...that Clark's man is dead in effect if not in fact...and isn't that the same thing as a death penalty...if the memories and thoughts are gone, everything that makes a person unique, how can it be the same person...Talia, the Talia we knew and worked with, she was killed by the Psi Corps implant...is that the same thing as a judicial mindwipe...both kill the individual who was...and is it really death....is Delenn right...our bodies are only shells that house who we really are....

   

   ...5 April 2262:

   Lizzie called this morning to talk to Delenn. I barely had time to say hello before my wife suggested I get an early start on my day. My sister was more direct. She told me to take a hike! As I headed for the door, I heard Delenn say that Liz could have been a bit more tactful. I missed her reply, but it must have been funny. Delenn started laughing and, seeing I was still in the room, she shooed me out. They're plotting something, I'm sure of it. Not that I can do anything about it. I assume I'll find out when they're ready.

   My wife and my sister are fast becoming friends. I was afraid they wouldn't, despite what I told Delenn when we visited Proxima a few months ago. I really didn't know how Liz would react. I was afraid she'd feel that Delenn was usurping Anna's place or something. I guess I should have known better. She hasn't told me how Dan feels about it, though. It can't be easy for him, having a Minbari sister-in-law. He was so badly wounded in the war, almost didn't make it. I remember how hard it was on Lizzie, Dan insisting he didn't want to be a burden, calling off the wedding. And afterward, having to leave EarthForce because he wasn't fit enough. Still, he was polite to Delenn and didn't object to the boys writing to her....

    Delenn hasn't had any close women friends of any race since Susan left. I think she misses that, not having anyone to talk to, especially about all the stuff human women take for granted. I know she's embarrassed sometimes when she has to ask Stephen. I thought, for a while, that she could be friends with Lyta, especially since they were close after they tried to rescue me during the Shadow War. But, it didn't last. Lyta's drawn away from Delenn, away from all of us lately. I don't know who's fault it is. Every time we've tried to talk to her lately, she's brushed us off. Maybe we're going about it the wrong way...maybe she's becoming too close to the rogue teeps....

   We're going out to dinner tonight, to Fresh Aire. I planned to take Delenn there last month, on the third anniversary of our very first date, though we didn't know it at the time. We should have, or at least I should have. It certainly felt like a date by the time we left and I walked her home. I teased her about it last night, asking if all Minbari women were that bold and direct, asking out a man they hardly knew. She pointed out, quite logically, that since she had no concept of what a date was at the time, she could not be held responsible for what it seemed like. Later, in bed, she told me that she too felt it was much more than a simple dinner. And if I had indicated that night that I wished to take our friendship to...um... another level, she would not have objected. Now she tells me!

   I wish now, I had...we would have had an extra two years together....

   

   ...12 April 2262:

   The Narn government is holding the official liberation celebration next month. We have to go, of course. They waited this long, till they got the capital cleaned up a bit. There is so much damage and they have so little. Not that they had a lot before. Narn has always been a resource poor planet. Now, they need everything from atmosphere scrubbers to water purifiers. The Alliance will do what it can, of course, but our two richest worlds are still recovering from civil wars and can't spare very much. Earth isn't too bad off, at least not physically. Most of the battles were in space or on the colonies, but Earth lost most of its defense grid and a good part of its fleet. That's expensive to replace. It will be quite a while yet before Earth can afford more than just token aid, or before they'll be willing to give more. Despite joining the Alliance, Earth is turning inward, at least for now.

   Minbar was really hit hard. I didn't see much of it when Delenn introduced me to her clan. There wasn't time and I don't think she wanted to take a chance on running into die hard 'Starkiller' haters; not all of them are from the warrior caste. But, what little I did see, despite the destruction, is beautiful in the way a diamond is beautiful, hard and bright and clear. The fighting between the castes destroyed much that can never be restored, I'm told. I hope they're wrong. The way Delenn described the capital, the way it was, with the singing spires of crystals and the music of the falls that flank the main temple, the dazzling colors when the sun rises and sets, reflected and refracted by every surface, it will be a poorer universe....

   The Kha'Ri is presenting their highest award to David McIntyre for his work with the resistance. G'Kar says he was invaluable, especially in saving lives while thwarting the Centauri occupiers. And he's stayed on to help in the rebuilding. I wonder if he's trying to instill the ideals of the Round Table...and I wonder if he'll succeed. I think about it sometimes, Delenn accepting the sword and taking away his guilt. He couldn't know, of course, but if he'd defied the orders to fire, none of us would be here now. Without the war with the Minbari, Sinclair would never have gone to Minbar to head the Rangers. Valen would not have taken Babylon 4 back in time to defeat the Shadows the first time and then establish the rules for Minbari society. We wouldn't have won the war this time. And there would be no Babylon 5...and no Delenn. I can't begin to imagine a world without her loving me and me loving her....

   

   ...20 April 2262:

   Damn! Delenn won't be coming home this week after all. The Grey Council's talked her into making the official presentation of the first shipment of aid to the Narn home world. Damn! Damn! Damn! She's been gone almost two weeks and I was really looking forward to having the time together during the trip to the Narn system. We talk every night, but it's not the same as being together. This is our first separation since our marriage, in fact it's the first since we were both on Earth. I suppose it can't be helped. We've been urging the Council to do something, so we can't very well protest. And it doesn't make any sense for her to come to the station first and then return to Minbar to accompany the shipment.

   I think she's a bit relieved to have extra time to inspect the new Ranger training facilities and greet the first class that isn't all Minbari and human. And it will give her more time to go over the progress of the new headquarters for the Alliance. She told me last night that she's worried about some of the modifications to the presidential residence. Not enough privacy, she thinks. She's going to remind the builders that not all the occupants are Minbari and some additional physical barriers will be necessary. Like doors that lock on our bedroom! I don't want Lennier, or anyone else for that matter, coming in at all hours.

   Delenn doesn't seem to have a problem with that. She told me once that Minbari don't have the same hangups - she didn't actually say hangups, concerns was the word she used - as humans do with body privacy. That was obvious from the Shan Fal! I'm going to have to learn a whole new set of cultural norms once we're living on Minbar, but I don't think I'll be able to overcome that particular human concern. At least the staff quarters are separate from the private residence.

   And then there's the question of the House Guards. Delenn is adamant. She won't hear of just a token force. I don't like the idea, I guess, because it really makes the point that my life has changed substantially. I'm never going to be off duty anymore. Part of my job now includes being a symbol. Delenn is right about that, no matter how much I don't want it. I see it all around me now. No one calls me John anymore. It's Mr. President this and Mr. President that. It gets so bad sometimes that I feel like checking to see if I still put my pants on one leg at a time!

   I'm glad Delenn isn't here right now to hear me! She'd tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself over something that is a part of a job that I really wanted.

   The groundbreaking ceremonies are tomorrow. Delenn says they'll last all day for such an important project. I can imagine! At least that's one speech I won't have to give!

   We were both supposed to be there, but I just couldn't get away. That border dispute between the Lumati and the Pak'ma'ra is getting nasty. And the Lumati condescension toward their neighbors isn't helping matters. But I've got one ace up my sleeve. Michael's been snooping around and he's discovered both sides have been mining illegally in the other's territory. That's a violation of the non-interference clause of the charter. If they don't settle, I'll impose an embargo on all trade in their sector until they resolve this. Michael used his new telepathic agents on this. I guess he was right about their usefulness. I wish I could be more enthusiastic. I still don't like using telepaths, and I still don't trust them entirely. But, to be fair, they've done nothing to justify my unease.

   Captain Lochley is having some problems with the telepath colony, ironically, because they've been cooperating with station security. They can't help but notice what's going on around them and they've been informing her whenever they come across something that's worse than usual. She can't get them to talk to anyone in security directly. I suppose that's understandable, given their distrust of authority in general and security forces in particular. But I guess they feel they owe her something, call it payment of rent, so they help when they can. Some of the regulars of Down Below are getting suspicious. So far, there have been no attacks on Byron's people, but it's only a matter of time. I'm glad it's not my problem....unless things get out of hand....

   

   ...28 April 2262:

   Kha'Ri Guest House: Delenn arrived yesterday afternoon. The welcoming committee had all sorts of things planned for her, but she pleaded fatigue from the trip. She wasn't tired when we were finally alone. God, I missed her. And not just that, either! She makes me feel that nothing is impossible....

   The ceremonies started early this morning and went on for most of the day, speech after speech extolling the 'heroes of the liberation', and an endless parade of beribboned Narns strutting across the arena. G'Kar's speech was an exception, a heartfelt plea to his people to let their better nature rule the future. He's going to be disappointed, I think. The Narn want someone to pay for the destruction of their world. There's going to be trouble soon, and I don't know if the Alliance can head it off. It was much easier when the Narns fought by my side on Babylon 5. Things were simpler then...more black and white...now, it's a matter of choosing the lighter shade of grey...and sometimes there isn't any....

   McIntyre was visibly touched by the accolades, all of which were sincere, as G'Kar and Stephen assured him afterward during the dinner reception. The three of them ducked out early for a private reunion. Delenn represented the Alliance during the speech making at the dinner. We flipped for it during breakfast and she lost. I have a feeling I'm going to pay for that. But she's better at these sorts of speeches, anyway. This was the first time she's seen McIntyre since he gave her the sword. He seemed in awe of her still, which embarrassed her, but I was the only one to notice, so it was okay.

   Tomorrow, she presents the three atmosphere scrubbers to the government. They're badly needed. Even with filters, you can't stay outdoors for more than a few minutes at a time. Growing food is impossible. The Narn are going to need a lot of food aid for a long time to supplement their limited hydroponics.

   

   ...5 May 2262:

   ...Stephen will be back tomorrow. He decided to spend a few days on the Narn home world with McIntyre. He's certainly got the leave saved up. He could probably take a year off and not use up all his leave. We all could, and we could all use it. I thought Delenn and I could have a mini vacation on the Mars trip, but the trial ended that idea. I still don't know how I feel about the outcome. I suppose it was justice of a sort.... William was one of the few who were caught alive on Mars. Most of Clark's people didn't make it. Some killed themselves rather than be taken, but a lot more were killed trying to get away in the confusion of the battle for Mars. And some were deliberately left to face the families of their victims by the Resistance. I can't really blame them. Those who were captured by Clark's forces were cruelly tortured before they were murdered. I can recall just emptying that ppg into the guard when I was rescued. If William had been there, or any of the others who worked me over, I would have killed him without any hesitation. I think I would have killed Michael too, if I had remembered clearly...that still bothers me. I like to think I'm better than that....

   Stephen's coming back on the Minbari freighter that brought the scrubbers to Narn. It's stopping here to pick up Delenn's friend, Alisa Beldon. She's been staying with us before going home. She's young, almost a child, really, but I'd never make the mistake of calling her that. She's at that age where one minute she's grave and reserved and the next as careless as a child. And she's very aware of any slight to her dignity. Delenn says she reminds her of herself at that age. The two of them are having a great time together.

   Though why she was part of the official Minbari delegation is beyond me. Delenn says it was part of her telepath training. The idea was to expose her to various races at one time to test her blocking abilities. Maybe...but I bet the Grey Council told her to do a little discreet listening, too. And I wouldn't be surprised if Delenn takes the opportunity to send her own assessment of the Narn situation to the Council. We're going to have to keep a careful eye on that. The Kha'Ri wants revenge bad enough to use what little they have to buy ships and weapons. And the Drazi are happy to sell to them. I have a bad feeling about this....

   Funny, I don't think of Alisa as a telepath. Maybe it's the Minbari robes...or maybe it's because she's so young...I don't know.... I do know I don't feel vaguely uneasy around her, the way I usually do around other telepaths. Come to think of it, I don't feel uneasy around Minbari telepaths, only human telepaths. I've never thought about that... about why...about why human telepaths make me uncomfortable...even the ones who I've worked closely with...like Lyta....I mean, I can understand why Bester makes me feel that way. Bester would make anyone uncomfortable even if he weren't a telepath and a Psi cop. And that's another thing...humans are the only ones who've herded their telepaths into a Psi Corps. No other race does that...or feels the need to...why....

   

   ...11 May 2262:

   It's my birthday tomorrow...it's not a big deal, not a milestone like fifty...but it feels different...for the first time I'm aware, really aware, that there's a limit to the number of birthdays I'll have...only nineteen more to go...maybe only eighteen....

   

   ...15 May 2262:

   Delenn is keeping a close eye on Lennier's progress. Too close, I think, but she worries about him. He's been the closest she's had to a family for years and now he's in potential danger. And she can't contact him directly without embarrassing him, which she would never do. I know how she feels, worrying about someone close to you without being able to do anything about it. If anything happens to him, she'll blame herself.

   She still won't accept a replacement for Lennier. Partly out of guilt, I think, and partly because she doesn't want someone that close to her, not yet, anyway. At least she's finally decided she needs help, if only with the routine work of the Rangers here on the station. He arrived yesterday. A human Ranger who's still on limited duty after getting out of medlab. He was hurt pretty bad last year when Delenn took on that Drakh fleet. She said Kendrick knows the station from when he was Sinclair's courier.

   I've also solved my assistant problem, or rather Delenn did. She had Rathenn send one of the acolytes from the temple. A young woman who wants some experience working with other races. I've agreed to a three month trial. If it works out, I may make it a new tradition, a sort of intern program in the President's office, rotating among the Alliance worlds. That should prevent any accusations of favoritism. And it should be an interesting experience for me. Her name is Finelle. I've asked Vir to introduce her around to the ambassadorial staffs informally. I'll introduce her formally at the next Council meeting.

   Maybe now I'll get a chance to enjoy my birthday present from Delenn. I don't know how she did it...Liz probably helped, judging from all those private conversations they had last month. The twenty-five best World Series games of all time! They're all there: the seventh game of the 2231 series, the fourth game of 2001, the legendary 2163 game that went thirty-two innings! Wow! It took all my self control not to leave the party right then and put it into the nearest com slot. Stephen and Michael have already asked to borrow it. But they can't have it. It's mine!

   

   ...23 May 2262:

   My wife forgave me for not telling her. But Entil'Zha is still pissed! She's right, though. I didn't think. I was too embarrassed about not telling her before. I should have. God! I never want to go through another night like that! When Delenn turned her back on me like that...I never knew a bed could be so cold....I couldn't take it, just lying there, not sleeping, wanting to hold her and beg her to forgive me...knowing I'd hurt her....

   I tried to explain...we were both so young...and the marriage was so short, only three months...hell! The paperwork for the annulment lasted longer! At least she finally smiled at that. I tried to make her understand...Elizabeth and I were friends before we made the mistake of getting married and we remained friends afterward. That didn't change. Maybe the Minbari are right, all those rituals before a formal joining....And the annulment meant that legally the marriage never happened. I never thought about it...it was part of growing up, making a mistake and going beyond it. It wasn't important to my life...and then the war...all our friends dead...no one left who knew about it...and then I met Anna...I tried to explain...When I fell in love with Delenn nothing else mattered...I think she understood....

   But that wasn't why she was so angry. I put her in an untenable position, denying her information that she needed to know. I undermined her authority. I made it hard, if not impossible, for the commander of the Rangers to work with the commander of the station. All because I didn't want to look like a fool in my wife's eyes. That's got to be the worst excuse...I put my pride ahead of my wife...and the worst of it is that Delenn is right. If someone else had been the Vice President of the Alliance or Entil'zha, I wouldn't have hesitated for one moment to tell them that Captain Lochley and I were once married.

   I guess when Elizabeth asked me to keep it a secret I should have realized that she didn't mean I should keep it a secret from Delenn. That's obvious from what Delenn told me about how Elizabeth spoke to her. I really messed up...and now Delenn has to try to fix it...I hope she can...anything I try to say now will only make matters worse for her....

   ...We talked about it at breakfast, my reasons for choosing Elizabeth. We needed someone from EarthForce who was on the other side but not identified with Clark, and someone I could trust and work with, and someone who would trust me. Not too many on Clark's side would, even those who were coerced. Luckily, Delenn agrees with me that I made the right choice.

   But she still can't understand why I couldn't tell her beforehand. I don't either now that I think about it...which I should have done before....Was it only because I was afraid I'd look foolish...that Delenn would think less of me? Or was it something more? I do know one thing...it wasn't because I was afraid Delenn would be jealous. She knows damn well that she has nothing to worry about!

   

   ...25 May 2262:

   I wish I had been there to see the look on Bester's face when Elizabeth told him the telepaths were under quarantine according to Earth's own regulations! She hasn't lost her knack for getting what she wants without breaking the rules. That's very important to her, not breaking the rules. That's another reason I wanted her here. Funny, now that Delenn knows, I can call her Elizabeth. I couldn't before. Delenn says that she's come to an 'accommodation' - that's her word, accommodation - with the station commander. I'm relieved. I hate that I made things harder for her. They'll never be friends, which is just as well, I suppose, but at least they're more comfortable with each other....

   Bester will be back, but at least we've got some time to find a better - and permanent - solution. We can't count on Stephen to come up with another medical excuse. Maybe one of the other worlds will grant them asylum. If they haven't committed any crimes other than avoiding Psi Corps, then they can't be extradited because that's not a crime anywhere except in the Earth Alliance. But it's a longshot, at best....

   ...Delenn told me the boy who was hurt last week will be posted to the House Guards when he finishes his Ranger training. I'm a little surprised I'm accepting the idea of having House Guards so easily. Maybe I'm growing more accustomed to the idea of living on Minbar....

   I admit I was hesitant about going along with that trial by terror idea at first, but once I thought about it, it made a lot of sense. Like getting back on the horse that threw you. The Minbari have an interesting way with terror. I remember Marcus telling me something about it. I'll admit I've never thought of it as a positive force. I had a long conversation with Sech Turval on the subject at dinner before he returned home. I'd like to learn more about some of the things we talked about. Delenn's been teaching me a bit about Minbari ways, but there's still a lot I have to learn, an awful lot....

   One thing I'm looking forward to learning is how to use a denn'bok! After all, as co-commander of the Rangers in the Babylon 5 sector for more than two years, I was a Ranger myself. And every Ranger should know how to use a fighting pike. Besides, Delenn is pretty good with one. Durhan trained her himself when she was a girl. I'd give anything to have seen that. Now he's promised to teach me after we're settled in. Delenn laughed when I told her and said I'd better put in a good supply of salve to soothe all the bruises. Damn, I wish I had known her then.

   We're actually going to have dinner together tonight, and at a reasonable hour. I'm caught up on all the routine paperwork, thanks to Finelle. She is a jewel among acolytes! I can even let her deal with routine correspondence and such in my name. I'm going to tell Rathenn she's got the job.

   

   ....26 May 2262:

   The confirmation arrived today! Rebo and Zooty are coming! They're actually coming here as part of their fifteenth anniversary tour. I can hardly believe it. But it's true! I can hardly wait. Delenn has agreed to invite them to dinner, even though she's not a fan. I can't understand why. It's not because she's Minbari. Lennier is Minbari and he loves them. Maybe it's a female thing. Mom and Lizzie don't like them either. Come to think of it, they don't like the Stooges either. They always groaned and left the room when Dad and I watched his old vids...

   I'm going to tell Michael and Stephen the good news. They'll be as excited as I am. G'Kar is a fan too. I'll have to tell him as soon as he returns. Maybe I should call him directly....

   

   ...20 June 2262

   ...I still smell it...that sticky, sweet, greasy odor of charring flesh and rendering fat...the acrid stench of burning hair...it clings to everything...showering doesn't help...it was so quick...a wall of flames...impossible to penetrate...impossible to get them out ... the roar of the fire and the explosions as the storage drums disintegrated, like the sound of old fashioned slug throwers...and in the middle of it all, the silence...they didn't make a sound as they burned...I can't get the smell out of my nostrils....

   It didn't have to end this way...it shouldn't have ended this way...I should have been able to do something...maybe if Bester had stayed away...no, it's my fault...I'm the one responsible...but what else could I have done...maybe I shouldn't have allowed the colony here in the first place...no, I was morally obligated, even if one of them hadn't saved my life...maybe I should have kept a closer eye on them...but I didn't want Elizabeth to feel I was interfering in her operation of the station...I didn't want her to think I didn't trust her judgement...even though I did order her to find a way to keep Byron's people from being transferred to Earth....

   Maybe Byron was right...maybe the other worlds owe them a home world of their own. Delenn thinks we owe them something. She feels guilty, I know, because she believed and trusted the Vorlons for so long. And she thinks it's simple justice. She's right about that. But she doesn't understand how humans feel about privacy. Actually, I'm not sure how I feel about it anymore, after having Kosh in my head and Lorien roaming around there too...But I should have handled it better..I can't believe I really said it was 'inconvenient'! I sounded just like those bureaucrats and politicians I've always despised....

   And what the hell happened to the fire suppression system! It should have stopped that fire as soon as it started...I'll ask Elizabeth in the morning to check it out...no, I can't do that. She's responsible for the station now...I still have trouble remembering that....I'm sure she'll send a copy of the report to me. I wonder, though, if they'll find anything. I doubt it. I think it was Lyta. Byron must have asked her to do it.

   I've handled the whole thing badly. I seem to be handling everything badly lately. The delegates are boycotting the Council meetings, not that I blame them. If we can't stop those raids, the Alliance is dead anyway. Ever since I took off the uniform...I don't seem to be able to make decisions like I used to. I'm unsure, hesitant. I'm trying too hard. At least that's what Delenn says. Switching from Entil'Zha to diplomat is easy for her. I've seen her deal with a Ranger problem and then soothe a disgruntled ambassador without missing a beat. Maybe it's all that meditation. She says it focuses her mind. Whatever it is, I could use some of it.

   ...I still smell the burning...

   

   ...26 June 2262:

   I don't know what happened last night or how it happened, and I don't want to know...no, that's not true...I do want to know, but I don't think I ever will. It's just another mystery around here. I should be used to that by now. Still, whatever it was, it was stranger than most. A whole section of the station just disappearing like that, moving hundreds of light years away, or else some form of mass hallucination....Does it really matter which, if the result was the same?

   The real surprise last night was Delenn's reaction to Rebo and Zooty. I've never seen her laugh so hard! She had a great time with them. Now, if I can only get her to appreciate those old vids of the Three Stooges....

   Delenn was really glad to see Lennier, too. She's still pretending. I suppose it's easier for both of them that way...but it must be hard for Lennier....

   

   ...3 July 2262:

   Aboard White Star Two: The meeting with President Luchenko went well. I think we convinced everyone that we were both on the IO station by accident, that we just happened to run into each other. She understands the need for a new fleet. And she wants access to the more advanced technology involved. But she wants some time to think it over, and to persuade her cabinet that the expense is worth it. I hope she doesn't take too long. The sooner we get started, the better.

   That's the only bit of good news lately. Everything else seems to be going wrong. I didn't find anything new at the site of the worst raider attacks, not that I expected to, but I had make a tour of inspection for show, if for nothing else. We have to let the Alliance see that we're doing something, even if we're just sitting around with our thumbs up our ass because we have no leads. I was hoping Michael's trip to the Drazi home world last month would help, but he was lucky to get out of there alive. The whole thing is very strange. Michael seems to have been outmaneuvered at every turn. That's not like him. I hope nothing is wrong...maybe breaking the blocks Bester left in his mind did some damage that wasn't readily apparent. Maybe I should talk to Stephen about it....

   Seeing Michael in medlab like that, with the ppg at his head, and knowing that I couldn't bargain with the rogue teeps, that if it came to it, I would have to let them kill him...I don't know...a part of me still can't fully forgive him...I know it wasn't his fault... still, I can't forget that how he carried out Bester's orders was up to him...Michael didn't have to do it the way he did. That still rankles. Maybe someday I'll be able to forgive him totally. Meanwhile, he's still my head of covert intelligence and I still have full confidence in him...

   Delenn should be home by the time I get back. She's been on Minbar checking on the new training regimens at the Ranger camp. And checking on the progress of the Alliance headquarters. I'm not sure how I feel about the move to Minbar, but it makes the most sense. We can't stay on Babylon 5 forever, and Minbar is the logical place.....As long as Delenn is with me, it will be okay. No matter what....

   I'm going to see if we can wangle a day off together, or, at least an afternoon off. Finelle has the routine well in hand, and with no Council meetings, Delenn won't have to deal with any of the ambassadors. We both deserve a breather....

   

   ...17 July 2262:

   Earth has finally decided to make it official next month and formally join the Alliance, assuming there will still be an Alliance for them to join. The way things look now, that's not a sure thing. We've got to find some proof of Centauri involvement beyond all doubt or we can't accuse them. What I need is someone who knows the Centauri, how they think and how they act, and who can take care of himself. Lennier could do it, but I can't send him. He's not far along enough in his Ranger training, and if anything happened to him, I couldn't face Delenn....

   I can't send Michael either. I need him here to coordinate efforts. And I'm not sure he should be out in the field right now. After the cock-up on the Drazi home world, he seemed to lose a step. Maybe it was seeing Bester again...I don't know. He 's more unsure than I've ever seen him since he thought about killing himself three years ago. He was afraid he couldn't do his job anymore then and I think he may be having similar feelings now. Delenn says he needs time to work out what ever's bothering him, that he hasn't gotten over his betrayal of me anymore than I have. She's probably right, but it doesn't solve the problem of finding out the truth behind those raiders.

   Damn! There's got to be a way...maybe setting up a decoy target with a disguised White Star...if we could figure out where they were going to strike next. There's no pattern at all. It's worse than the Shadow attacks. We were finally able to figure those out because there was a rationale behind them. These raiders...it's like they use a random number generator to pick their targets. I'm afraid the only way we'll find out who they are is to catch them in the act and that's going to take a miracle. And I think I've about used up my quota. Delenn would tell me faith manages and I shouldn't give up. I wish I had her serenity...

   Delenn hasn't been feeling well lately. I want her to see Stephen, but she says she's been poked and prodded by him quite enough since her transformation. She says it's only indigestion. She could be right. Since shipping is back to normal on the station, we've all been over-indulging in everything that was scarce or non-existent during the embargo. As a matter of fact, I have a touch of indigestion myself. Too much rich food last night. We had Stephen and Zack over for dinner. Michael was invited, but he didn't show. He's probably busy following a lead....

   Delenn said since we were inviting the senior staff, we should invite Elizabeth too. I thought about it for a while. It would have been politic, I suppose. But we'd decided to invite our friends to dinner, nothing official, no business. Just a time to relax with the people we'd been through so much with the last few years. It's getting harder and harder to keep the line from blurring between our personal and professional lives. Delenn and I have talked about it from time to time. She doesn't think we should try. She says what we do is a great part of who we are and that won't change. She's probably right. She usually is.

   If she doesn't start feeling better by the end of the week, I'm going to insist that she let Stephen check her out. She can't keep anything down....

   

   ...31 July 2262:

   Stephen is finishing his report right now. Once we present it to the Council, there will be no turning back. The Alliance will insist on declaring war if the Centauri don't stop the raids and make reparations, and that's not going to happen. Damn! I wish Lennier had never brought back the proof! No...I don't mean that. We had to find out...

   Lennier did a good job. Delenn was right to send him, although she shouldn't have gone behind my back. I understand why she did it, and she understands why I didn't want to send him. But we're going to have do something about defining who has what authority and when. Ordinarily, we work well together, almost reading each other's minds, and talking it out when we disagree. But that's because of who we are. It's highly unlikely that the next President of the Interstellar Alliance will be married to Entil'Zha of the Rangers. Assuming, of course, that this damned war doesn't destroy the Alliance...

   Delenn has been praying for most of the night now. I doubt she'll come to bed at all. I can't sleep and I can't pray. I keep thinking about the meeting in the morning. And I keep thinking about Lennier. I didn't tell Delenn the whole truth about why I didn't send him to spy on the Centauri. I don't think she would understand. I'm not sure I understand it myself entirely. When I think about sending Lennier into danger, I feel kind of like David sending Uriah into the forefront of the battle. I know that Delenn loves me and that Lennier doesn't have a chance in hell of changing that...yet...there's a part of me, buried deep in the oldest, most reptilian part of my brain, that sees him a threat to that love. It's crazy, I know. And I don't believe it myself. I guess it's just a primal male reaction.

   I think I'm going to have a problem with Lennier. He disobeyed my order, choosing to obey Delenn's instead. Then, when he returned to the station, he did everything but turn his back when I tried to thank him for his efforts. I let it go. Delenn was still upset and we were alone. Personally, I don't give a damn, but if he ever shows such disrespect to the President in public, I'm going to have to come down hard on him, which will hurt Delenn. No matter what happens, Delenn is going to get hurt, I'm afraid. She's keeping him here, at her side, for a while, at least.

   She blamed herself when Lennier went missing. I tried to assure her it wasn't her fault. If anything, it was mine for recalling the White Star. I should have known that Lennier would ask who gave the recall order and go out on his own. I didn't tell Delenn that. I think she realized it herself, which made her feel even more guilty. She scared me. I remember only too well what happened when she thought I was dead. I know I couldn't stop her from mourning Lennier in the same way if it came to it.

   It's funny, though...Delenn didn't want to show her feelings to me when we found out Lennier was alive. Yet she reached out to me for consolation when we thought he was dead. Come to think of it, she did the same thing when the Markab died. That was the first time I ever held her in my arms, while she cried out her grief on my shoulder. Sometimes, I think I'll never understand her. She is so open and unreserved with me usually, especially in bed. And then she'll shut me out without any explanation. I suppose it doesn't matter. I love her and accept her as she is. I can't do anything else.

   It's almost morning...I might as well shower and get ready for the meeting....

   

   11 August 2262:

   It's funny, some days Delenn and I don't see each other at all. One of us is asleep when the other comes to bed and one of us leaves before the other is awake. Yet now, that's she's been gone barely a day, I miss her terribly. That's why I'm working in her quarters. The place feels more like home when she's not here....

   I hated to ask her, but I had no choice. The quicker the Grey Council approves the new warships, the better. And I have a feeling we're going to need a lot of new ships before this fight with the Centauri is over. I have a bad feeling about all this. The way the Alliance has been maneuvered into this war...it doesn't smell right...there's no reason for the Centauri to deliberately provoke a war. And their battle plan makes no sense at all. No one in their right mind attacks jump gates...they have to know that by attacking the station's gate they risk not only war with the Alliance, but also with Earth and the Minbari directly. If the Centauri are trying to destroy themselves, they're going about it the right way....

   At least Lennier is with her. He would die before he'd let anything happen to her. Delenn hates it when I get all protective, but I can't help it. She says if I had my way I'd have her swaddled in cotton batting and placed in a vault for safekeeping. I don't think I'd go that far! Would I? Nah...I'm not that crazy...okay, I am, but only about Delenn. Good thing she feels the same way about me or I'd be in real trouble....

   She's right about one thing. Now that I see them here, surrounded by Minbari things, they do look a bit silly. I guess I should have realized that before I bought them for her. When I saw them in that stall on the Zocalo, all I thought about was how she'd been complaining that her feet were always cold lately, and how warm those soft, grey bunny slippers would be...



 

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