WATER AND FIRE IV
Please see part one for disclaimers etc.
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My fanfic can be found at: http://alcor.concordia.ca/~b_lauzo/poetry.html If there's ever a problem, let me know and I'll help you out!! :-)
This part is dedicated to Leslie, as before, and to Kim, who pestered me for so long that I just had to get the damn thing written. ;-) ;-) ;-) Seriously though, I hope you enjoy it Kim. :)
Author's note: The events concerning Ivanova are described in more detail (although I will explain them here) in "I was a Male War Bride", another little effort of mine, which is closely related to this one.
*No news, no news, no news... Oh well, they DO say no news is good news, although part of me feels I could string the idiot who said that up the nearest tree...*
"John?" He looked up from the surveillance reports he was scanning to see the face of his wife.
"Yes?" He smiled at her as she came to sit in his lap.
"You are worrying again."
"And you aren't?" He replied softly. The dim glow of the lamp enveloped everything in a gentle glow, and seemed to cling to her. She pressed herself against him.
"Maybe we should forget about work for a while," she whispered.
"I could live with that," he said, and the pile of reports fell unheeded to the floor.
Some time later, they dutifully picked them up.
"There still isn't any activity whatsoever in Shadow space, Delenn." She nodded.
"That's something I don't understand," he continued. "If the other First Ones helping us against the Vorlons is what's kept them from attacking either us or -perhaps- the Vorlons when both are vulnerable, why aren't we getting signs that they're going to ground? From what you told us about the last Shadow war, the Shadows essentially went to ground for a thousand years, and had to rebuild their forces slowly. But we aren't detecting *any* movement on Z'Ha'Dum -- it's like a dead planet." She didn't have an answer to give him.
It had been over a week since the tremendous battle against the Vorlons, Delenn reflected, and just a few days since President Morgan Clark had been removed from power on Earth. The galaxy was trying to rebuild itself as best it could. Earth, for example, had its provisional government which was trying to deal with Clark's supporters and other radicals who had come to the fore, thanks to the uncertainty of the present situation. John had the Rangers monitoring the situation and protecting government officials, but the situation was still very tense, and the possibility of the Shadows taking advantage of recent events had prompted them all to return to Babylon 5, after the last battle. The other races were tending their wounds, as uncertainty loomed over fate and future. The Vorlons were beaten but not destroyed, and were still a threat, although they had not given any sign of life since being beaten back. The Shadows, who were on everyone's mind these days, had so far not deigned to show themselves; and the other First Ones had vanished without a trace after defeating the Vorlons. And on a more personal front, she knew he was worried about Susan.
Delenn looked down at her hands. And then there was the unrest on Minbar.
"Hey, are you still with me?" John smiled down at her, having piled the last of the Whitestar surveillance reports on the couch.
"Yes, love." She looked up at him, shaking herself from her reverie.
"Is anything wrong?"
"No, no. I was just thinking about things, that's all." She said quietly.
Standing, he raised her up and took her in his arms. "Maybe it'll look better in the morning." He said into her hair, before walking with her into the bedroom.
"Captain, could I have a word with you?" Stephen Franklin walked into Sheridan's office with a grim look on his face.
"Sure. What's up?" Sheridan put aside the pile of surveillance reports he had been studying.
"I just wanted you to see this."
That night, John found that paperwork had lost any whisper of allure it had ever held.
*What a day.* He thought to himself, staring at his drink. *What an abso-fraggin-lutely wonderful day.* The day had started out well enough -he'd actually managed to sleep in for once- but had gone downhill from there, and it wasn't every day that you had to fire a friend.
*Okay, so I didn't fire Susan.* He told himself, *It sure feels damn close to it though.* He had had to remove her from duty after Franklin had come to him, report in hand, stating that Susan had been over the permissible limit for blood alcohol levels during her recent routine physical examination. And now she had disappeared.
Sighing, he began to put the paperwork away.
They searched for three days, before Marcus discovered her lying in a pool of her own blood, in some nondescript area of Downbelow. Her injuries were very severe, and all they could do was wait and see if she would live -that and finding who had done this to her and making sure they were very sorry. Security immediately undertook that pleasant task, and were still looking.
"John?" Her voice shook him out a contemplation of the facts.
"Are you with me?" Delenn smiled at him gently, holding his hand.
"I am now. I'm sorry, it's this whole mess with Susan that's got me worried. I'm just praying she'll be all right."
"We all are, my love." Standing, she moved into his arms, and they held each other in silence.
"Are you ready to see them now?" She asked, after a time.
He nodded. "Yes."
"One thing is certain, Captain. They are moving, just as you thought they might." One of the human Rangers sitting before the Sheridans said. John met Delenn's eyes, disturbed, and seeing a similar expression in her eyes. This was one time when he hated being right...
*Swell.* He thought. *Just swell. As if we didn't have enough to worry about trying to rebuild and regroup in case either the Shadows or Vorlons or both decide to take some more potshots at us. Now I have to worry about a renewal of activity of fanatical groups back home, which means a possible undermining of our forces...*
Aloud he said, "Do you have any names?"
"Some." The Ranger answered, pointing to the data sheets in question. "We looked up several known old members of anti alien groups like the Homeguard, and it turns out many of them recently got broken out of prison -that kind of thing isn't hard to do right now with Earth unsettled the way it is. There also seems to be a good deal of activity on the part of some people that we're pretty sure were in Nightwatch. Basically your general lot of quiet meetings, quiet amassing of funds, quiet searches for weapons suppliers..." Sheridan looked at the names, feeling slightly ill. They had chosen their time well, and had obviously found a common enemy in the alien influence they saw as ruling Babylon 5. The only question now was when, where and how they would make their move.
A few hours later, he surveyed the group of ambassadors assembled in the war room, after finishing his narration of the situation.
"I asked you all here today to apprise you of this situation, as it concerns all of us on some level: if Babylon 5 is gone or weakened, our common front against the Shadows and Vorlons is weakened, as I am sure you know. It is for that reason that I have asked for this meeting.
What I would ask from you is this: if each of your governments would commit to having two ships patrolling Babylon 5 space at all times, and would assist us with manpower on the station, this would substantially increase our defenses both against possible Shadow or Vorlon attacks, and against possible terrorist attacks." He looked at each ambassador in turn as Delenn moved forward and began speaking.
"I know your minds are probably on the needs of your own peoples and worlds, and that you would wish to give them priority at this time. But I would argue that we all need Babylon 5. Without this place and all it means, you know as well as I do that we all have very little chance. Without your cooperation, we have very little chance. I do not think I need to remind you of recent events; and as for present concerns, they have just been elaborated on. The threat is still there. Let us not ignore it." They began deliberating as she walked over to John and G'Kar.
Finally, they turned as one towards the humans, Minbari and Narn facing them and indicated their assent.
An hour later, he was relating his instructions regarding station security to Garibaldi and Zack Allan, Lieutenant Corwin, Franklin, G'Kar and a few others.
"I want to double security in critical areas and I want teams posted in public places like the Zocalo for example. I don't want innocent bystanders as hostages, in the event of an attack by these people. Lieutenant Corwin, you're to collaborate closely with security: I want random searches of all incoming ships, more especially those hailing from Earth space. That should make anyone think twice before bringing weapons aboard. Anyone found loitering in and around critical areas is to be held for questioning. All baggage will also be randomly searched. Stephen, we may need medical help at a moment's notice." Franklin nodded.
"And finally, we need to elaborate a coherent plan in order to deal with a terrorist attack if it comes."
He looked at Garibaldi who nodded and replied, "I'll take care of it."
"Fine. Any questions?" Sheridan asked.
They shook their heads.
"Let's get to work," Garibaldi said.
The next few days were filled with preparations for two very different kinds of battle -within and without.
Delenn thought upon this and many things as she sat by a sleeping Susan's bedside, holding her hand. She had regained consciousness the day before, and seemed to be on the mend -physically at least.
"How's she doing?" John whispered, entering the room.
"Much better now, I think," she said, and gestured towards the door. They stepped outside the room, the transparent window of the room allowing them to keep an eye on the patient. "Stephen says she should make a full recovery... At least insofar as her physical injuries are concerned."
"Sleeping. As concerns Marcus, John..."
He looked at her questioningly. "Yes?"
"I have granted him indefinite leave from the Rangers. I think that would be best for all, at this time," she said quietly.
John smiled, seeing hints of meaning in her eyes. Taking her hands, he kissed her softly. "You're a wise woman, Delenn."
"Entil'Zha." The Ranger bowed briefly and handed her the latest surveillance report from the ships they had stationed near the Galactic Rim.
With increasing alarm, she read the report. "How long ago did this start?" She asked the young woman before her.
"Two hours, Entil'Zha." Nodding her thanks, Delenn moved to call a meeting of the War Council.
The Shadows were moving.
The situation was, at best, chaotic, Lennier reflected silently. The news that the Shadows had begun to mass ships within their solar system had puzzled and frightened everyone. Those races whose space lay closest to the Rim were now requesting protection, but truly, what protection could be offered? For it was as if the First Ones had ceased to exist -even the Vorlons, who were so anxious to destroy anything touched by their enemy and yet exhibited a curious reluctance towards direct confrontation with it. Each solar system appearing deserted, unmoving, lifeless.
And finally, Lorien had disappeared as well. This worried Lennier, in a way he could quite understand (for no one knew who and what this being was, nor where he came from -except Captain Sheridan), because without Lorien, how were they to obtain the help of the First Ones which had saved them before?
It was because of all this, finally, that Lennier found himself on the bridge of a Whitestar ship, in a region of hyperspace not very far from the Rim of known space, coordinating between Babylon 5 and the various ships deployed in surveillance positions near the Shadow system.
Shaking his head, Lennier returned his mind to simpler matters he could control, but not before one question crossed his mind.
How would it all end?
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