I began this a few weeks ago, but the idea behind it has been around for a couple of decades. It provides a bit of back-story for what I'd like to develop into a campaign at some point, but I'm still currently working on fixing up Den5's "In The Beginning" campaign, so that might be a ways off still.
The overall story I call "Reflected Shadows", but I call this short story, "Buried Secrets"
Doctor Mary Kirkish was feeling the pressure of the kilometers of rock above her head. She was an archeologist, and used to working in the dirt, but not being quite this immersed in it. She’d descended via the lift into the mine-shaft, accompanied by a member of the Worker Cast, but upon reaching the bottom, the woman had ushered her off the platform, bowed slightly and went right back up, leaving Dr. Kirkish to walk alone down the drilled, poorly-lit tunnel.
Her comprehension of the dialects of the Worker Cast was limited, but what she’d understood from the Minbari’s directions, Dr. Kirkish would have to walk for a good fifteen minutes before reaching the nearest tunnel junction, where a cleric from the Religious Cast would meet up with her and brief her on the reason she’d been summoned from Tuzanor into to depths of the planet.
On she walked in near silence. The sound of her boots striking the rock floor, echoed down the length of the passage, combined with the soft grinding of smaller shards of rock that made-up a fine, sharp, gravel that filled in the ruts. Along with these sounds, there was the slight electrical hum from the lights, the ever-present but gentle whoosh of air passing down the ram-rod straight tunnel, and finally the sound of her own breath.
A brightening of the space ahead of her, and a quick check of her watch told Kirkish that she was coming up on the tunnel junction, but it was still a few minutes walk beyond. She was startled by a sudden series of flashes near the junction, but quickly recognized the sparks associated with the use of a plasma welder. Workers were in the process of installing the gravitational clamps mounted in the ceiling would eventually power the train cars needed to remove the minerals once the mine became operational. Given the recent discovery however, that might be delayed for a while longer.
“Doctor Kirkish?” called a male Minbari voice from the junction.
“I’m here,” she replied, panting under the higher atmospheric pressure.
“I am Laa’shan,” he announced as she closed the final few meters. His long, pale-blue robes extended from his shoulders down nearly to the floor, and showed some signs of dirt, which is difficult considering that Minbari linens were quite resistant to soiling. “I apologize for the state of this facility,” he continued as more sparks showered further down the tunnel, “but we only discovered the site yesterday.”
“I understand this mine’s being set up to extract a deposit of Quantium-40,” commented Kirkish, making small-talk in an attempt to get her a few more seconds of rest before the Minbari led her into a side-tunnel.
“Yes,” he answered. “Though crystal deposits are quite plentiful here on Minbar, ‘Harmonic Gems’ as we call them, are nearly unheard of. Our early sources were found in moons elsewhere in the planetary system.”
“But you didn’t ask me here to examine crystal deposits, did you,” Mary moved to change the subject, ready to begin her work.
“The drilling teams were preparing to install barracks for the mining crew when they breached the cavern wall,” explained Laa’shan, motioning with his right arm and beginning to walk down the side-corridor, with Mary alongside him. “At first it was assumed to be a deep fault fracture, but on-site examination revealed the presence of masonry and other evidence of habitation.”
“So your barracks are already prepared for you,” she commented wryly, adding, “convenient.”
Many Minbari had not yet learned how to recognize the Human trend towards sarcasm, but Kirkish was surprised to see Laa’shan acknowledge her remark with a gentle smile and a shallow bow of his head before continuing.
“If we were drilling into sedimentary rock, the logical assumption would be that it was a surface dwelling, buried under countless millennia of sediment, but this rock is igneous,” resumed Laa’Shan. “The architecture was also clearly built INTO the rock rather than above it, so this dwelling was never ON the surface.”
“Have you determined the age of cavern?” prodded Kirkish, hauling a recorder out of her nap-sack to start taking notes.
“An examination of the dust indicates it was last deposited more than ten millennia ago.”
“Any biological remains?”
“Curiously, no. In fact, we’ve found no evidence of skeletons, clothing, or even pottery. It is as though its residents evacuated their dwellings and took all of their possessions with them.”
“What about the size of the cave?”
“In Human terms, it is roughly twenty meters long, with a series of chambers down each side, each about ten meters deep and with similar volumes.”
“That WOULD suggest dwellings of some kind. Is there any more?”
“There is an entrance to the cavern, but a cave-in is blocking any further exploration.”
“There MUST be more,” Kirkish commented somewhat more quietly. “There’s no way a cavern that small could support a population, and the inhabitants had to have gotten out SOMEHOW.”
They continued to discuss ancient Minbari cultures and architecture, but it became clear to Kirkish that she knew more about Minbari pre-history than Laa’shan did. Dr. Kirkish had to remind herself that Laa’shan was only a cleric, and not a scholar. New archeological finds on Minbar were quite rare, and thus the research field was nearly absent from Minbari academics, making Dr. Kirkish the logical choice to make the initial inspection. A larger team would follow.
They made a few turns through the tunnels, following the ones with the greatest illumination, but suddenly they entered a tunnel with very rough sides, indicating a recently bored hole. It was circular but low enough that Mary and the Minbari had to stoop to pass through it. The area beyond the tunnel was dark, but Mary could see the presence of a string of dim lighting stretching into it.
Mary stepped cautiously beyond the aperture onto a platform that had been erected, but was stopped from going any further by a railing. It took a few moments for Kirkish’s eyes to adjust, but when they did, she was able to identify that the drill had punched into the chamber near the ceiling, and that a set of stairs had been hastily installed leading from the platform down to the floor of the chamber.
“This is quite different from any Minbari architecture I’ve ever studied,” commented Kirkish as she descended to the floor.
“To be fair, most of our architecture includes crystal structures, or at the very least, ones designed to resemble crystals,” reminded Laa’shan, unnecessarily.
“Recent ones also include the triangular arrangement, corresponding with the new Minbar associated with the arrival of Valen and the Grey Council,” included Kirkish.
“Not entirely,” corrected Laa’shan, “the number three dates back to the formal creation of the three casts some two thousand years previously. The Temple of Varenni would be the most prominent example of our earlier architecture, as it certainly is the best preserved.”
“That temple is old, but nowhere near as old as this place. What little brickwork I’ve seen from Minbari architecture from times before, still include repeating patterns, but the designs here are far more… haphazard.”
“And yet they have stayed intact all this time. It is strong but disorganized. A paradox of planning.”
Dr. Kirkish made a stroll around the room, looking for any signs of symbols or distinctive shapes, but found none. “I’m gonna need a team down here,” she finally concluded.
“We have few archeologists among us,” admitted Laa’shan, “and none experienced enough for a find such as this.”
“Well, send them in anyway,” insisted Kirkish, “and the most versed Scholars in Minbari ancient history. Normally I’d invite IPX in here, but I’m not sure I entirely trust them. I do have a few ex-IPX friends I could call on though.”
“We will supply you with any resources you require, doctor,” assured the Minbari. “May I assume then, that you have accepted the assignment?”
“Are you kidding?” she asked, rounding on Laa’shan, “this is the kind of find I LIVE for. I’ll be lucky to see daylight for a year.”
“We have accommodations on the surface,” he reminded her, “there is no need to-”
“Any good archeologist lives and works in the field,” Kirkish interrupted. “Give me a tent, some rations, and a bucket, and I’m good… but I expect more for my team. I’ll draw up a list of supplies. Don’t worry.”
Laa’shan nodded and departed the chamber to retrieve a data pad that could communicate with outside world, and Kirkish turned back to the rockface and continued scanning the architecture.
“Who built you?” she asked to no-one.
Expedition Log: Doctor Mary Kirkish
Date: October 12th, 2266
Location: Three Kilometers beneath the Lorsai Mountains near Tinarel.
Time: 1545 Hours
I can’t believe it’s been only four days since we breached through the caved-in corridor. We spent the first two weeks of the expedition, stuck in that first chamber while the mining crew removed the rubble blocking the door. We must have picked that room over like vultures on a corpse, just to keep us busy while we waited for the tunnel to be cleared. I assigned Callenn from the Minbari ministry for Culture and Legacy to work with the removal team to ensure they didn’t disturb what was left of the tunnel’s original architecture. Also, she was the most familiar with the worker’s dialects.
That first chamber was interesting, but we hungered for what lay beyond, and we weren’t disappointed. We’ve already found twenty more chambers, and evidence of many more still. The ones we’ve explored are yielding a wealth of data, but we’re still no closer to identifying the former residents of this place than when we cracked that first chamber. We still haven’t found any biological remains, pottery, evidence of linens, or anything other than just the walls and floors.
Oddly enough, the deeper chambers show indications of more advanced architecture than those above. I can’t understand why. We’ll be moving into a new tunnel tomorrow, and airflow suggests it leads deeper.
Expedition Log: Doctor Mary Kirkish
Date: November 2nd, 2266
Location: Three Kilometers beneath the Lorsai Mountains near Tinarel.
Time: 1700 Hours
Things are starting make more sense. The higher chambers are the oldest and thus were the first to be built, and those further down continue to show the use of more advanced technology. Metallurgy! I can’t believe these people somehow developed metallurgy. There are veins of ore here for sure, but smelting metals requires heat, and heat needs fire, and fire needs oxygen. Right now, I can’t even figure out how these people got their air to breath let alone to make fire. And what would they have burned?
Team Four reported their first evidence of biological remains in one of the upper chambers. They indicate what looks like tombs, but the bodies themselves are missing. They did find however, some degraded tissue residue where the bodies used to lie. Genetic analysis confirms that whoever lay there was closely related to modern Minbari. I’ve asked for a comparison from Minbari archives to see if it matches any known ancestors.
Expedition Log: Doctor Mary Kirkish
Date: November 23rd, 2266
Location: Three Kilometers beneath the Lorsai Mountains hear Tinarel
Time: 0700 Hours
This isn’t just a city, it’s a whole civilization. We found out how they smelted the metals… geo-thermal heat! There’s evidence of old magma tubes nearby, that would have been active during that time. Whole industries developed around them, from waste disposal to cooking. We also managed to track the airflow in these chambers to a series of fault fractures that feed all the way to the top of the Lorsai Mountains, replenishing the oxygen.
Team Three found a series of caves full of desiccated lichens. The layout suggests that it was being deliberately grown there, perhaps as a food source. Chemical analysis indicated that these lichens were actually phosphorescent and could glow in the dark. What I wouldn’t give to see it back when they were alive.
Team Five was searching the other side of the dig and found a whole labyrinth of tunnels, including some only a foot across. They were puzzled by these at first, until they discovered a series of fossilized skeletons of some rodent-like vertebrates. Were these a food source as well? Did the inhabitants hunt them? Perhaps the lichens were also a form of bait for these creatures. Maybe they domesticated them.
The question of a source of fresh water was answered last week. We’d first found only the occasional evidence of past water trickles through cracks in the ceiling, mainly near sources of the lichens, but Team Two found an actual underground river, still flowing. The former residents even created irrigation to divert the flow into ponds. Perhaps to cultivate algae, or to breed some subterranean aquatic life. Oddly enough, the discovery of the river finally explains the presence of the fresh water intrusion into the Methur’Zha deep-ocean trench. It must empty into it.
In all of this, the only clue to the inhabitants of this place was that biological sample that Team Four found in the upper chambers. The genetic analysis proves that whoever this was, it was related to the Minbari evolutionary line. It is most closely related to Minbara-Lan’Shai, or ‘Young Minbari, hunched and crowned’, so-named as it showed the first evidence of the more raised cranial bone structure, present in all modern Minbari. This breed dates to roughly eighty-thousand to one-hundred thousand years ago, but our organic samples show considerable evolution since it split from Minbara-Lan’Shai. It’s tough to be sure how long though.
Team Four has called me to examine a find in one if the high-level chambers. It’ll take me about an hour to get there, but the call seemed to indicate that its something of interest. I’ll update this log when I know more.
Straining under high pressure, Kirkish worked her way towards the upper chambers. It was close to a month and a half (Earth calendar) since she’d begun working in the subterranean caverns, but she still hadn’t adapted completely to the atmosphere. They needed to wear masks to filter out the dust particulates in the air whenever they were working, and atmospheric respirators were available to offer a more familiar breathing environment, but most didn’t use them. They added bulk and got caught on their equipment, and would run out of air more frequently than was convenient.
Mary climbed the last few steps up to the level of the chamber she’d been summoned to, and stopped briefly to catch her breath, and hauled out her canteen to take a few sips of water and wipe the sweat from her face. Water didn’t evaporate as easily at that depth, which could also effect respiration if condensation occurred within the lungs. The elevation change between the lower and upper chambers was insignificant, but Mary could almost convince herself that it was easier to breath higher up.
After her brief respite, she moved on and reached the cavern her colleagues were examining and took in the surroundings. It looked like a large tunnel of some kind, with smaller tunnels branching off into smaller rooms, but one end of the main tunnel looked heavily caved-in.
“Mary,” called a male human who emerged from one of the side-tunnels. His tan shirt was scuffed and dirty, with evidence of sweat-stains in the usual spots, while his dark-brown faux-leather pants were just as dirty.
“Manuel,” she replied, walking forward and shaking his hand.
“Welcome to the top floor,” he began with a voice retaining just a tinge of a central-American accent. “We’re certain that these are the oldest sections of the entire place.” He panned his head from one side, up to the ceiling above and down to the opposite wall.
“The oldest we’ve found so FAR,” corrected Mary. “There might be more back there,” indicating the region behind the collapsed tunnel.
“Not likely,” challenged Manuel, “but I’ll let our resident scholar fill you in on that part. Kha’loreen?”
A Minbari female, who was sorting through artifacts on a nearby table with other Humans and Minbari, turned their way and approached. She was shorter than Dr. Kirkish, but stood with a bearing that told of someone who never stopped moving long enough to be worried about such things. Her eyes were wide and shining with the excitement of their work. Kha’loreen, or ‘Lori’ as she had accepted as a nickname among her Human colleagues, was the most versed in Minbari ancient history in the entire Federation, in terms of civilization, Minbara evolution, and even geology. She’d been an invaluable on-site resource to provide context and references without needing to consult with a computer database on the surface.
Aside from her vast knowledge of Minbar, Lori was also eager to learn the archeology trade, and was a quick study. Mary wondered if she might consider a career in xenoarchaeology, once this place had been tapped for all of its secrets.
“Doctor Kirkish,” Kha’loreen announced with a bow, “we believe we’ve made a discovery of dramatic importance.”
“I’ve told you before, if you’re OK with us calling you ‘Lori’, then you’re certainly entitled to call me ‘Mary’. What’s the find?”
“We are certain that any architecture on this level is the oldest and very likely the first created by the inhabitants. This tunnel,” she paused briefly to sweep her arm around, “is not an artificial one. Mineral deposits in the ceiling are conclusive proof that this was once a magma tube.”
“Is it connected with the others we found?”
“No. This one hasn’t been active for nearly a million years. The others didn’t exist at that time. I tested the mineral composition and have matched it with the Zortel volcanic fields some twenty kilometers further North, which corresponds to the age of this magma tube.”
“Our working theory is that the inhabitants entered through the tube when it was open and settled down here,” joined Manuel, “but according to Lori, that entire area on the surface collapsed in some kind of seismic event about ten millennia ago.”
“Seismic probes of the rock-face,” resumed Kha’loreen, pointing towards the collapsed end of the tunnel, “suggest that there are no further open sections further up the magma tube.”
“Some of these side tunnels look newer than the others,” commented Kirkish, moving towards the tube wall.
“As we earlier surmised, the upper chambers were used to store their dead,” explained Kha’loreen, “but at this level, those that are the oldest appear to have been converted from layouts that correspond to the dwellings further down.”
“So, they lived up here first, then moved further down later on, entombing their dead up here,” finished Mary, still examining the entrance to an older side-tunnel.
“That appears to be the case,” confirmed Lori, “but early this morning, we cleared some debris blocking our access to this cave,” she paused again to point at an opening further up the main tunnel, “where we made our most startling discoveries.”
“Lead on, then,” encouraged Mary, following her colleagues as they headed towards the cave entrance. Upon stepping inside, Mary could see that there was a lot of debris on the floor, some of which looked artificial, but not anything that they had brought with them. The back wall had the same caved-in appearance that the magma tube outside displayed, though some of it looked to have been melted at some point.
“This is our first finds of actual artifacts,” announced an excited Manuel. “There are pieces of pottery, metal fragments that were clearly tools, and what looks to have been garments made from material with a chemical composition matching the lichens.”
“Now we know what they made their clothes from,” summed Kirkish.
“There are also more biological remnants,” reported Lori. “Based on where they were found, it looks as though they died where they lay, rather than being entombed here. A quick test confirms that they are Minbara-related remains as opposed to some other life form, but dating suggests that they are much newer than the remains discovered early on in the expedition. Perhaps even as recent as ten thousand years ago.”
“So, the seismic event that collapsed the magma tube, also created this rock-face,” she paused to gesture at it with her head, “and killed our subject, but that still doesn’t explain where the inhabitants all disappeared to, and why they took nearly all of their possessions with them.”
“It gets weirder than that,” warned Manuel. “We’d come to a similar conclusion, but Doctor Hanju was doing a magnetic resonance scan of the collapsed wall and got an anomalous energy reading he couldn’t account for. We brought in all of the scanning equipment we could and found that this entire region encompassed by the collapse, contains faint traces of free bosons.”
“I am not a particle physicist,” admitted Lori, “but I am aware that free bosons can only be produced by a high-energy event. Any naturally-occurring phenomena that do so in this concentration, would have destroyed Minbar.”
Mary felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end, and the skin of her cheeks tingle, indicating a sudden change in blood-flow.
“Mary, are you alright?” asked Manuel, noticing this change, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Mary staggered towards the exit, putting her hand on the wall for support until she reached a chair out in the main work site, which she nearly collapsed into. Although it was quite outside her area of expertise, Mary had encountered this phenomenon before, and the ramifications that it would mean if she was correct, could turn their assumptions on their ear, along with much more beyond.
“Doctor Kirkish,” prodded Kha’loreen, “do you require respiratory support?”
“Probably,” she mumbled, accepting a Minbari breather, looping the clear hose under her nose and taking long, controlled breaths.
“I wonder,” pondered Manuel, turning to Lori as Kirkish gathered her thoughts and her breath, “could the boson particles be residual from something like a Gamma-Ray Burst from a supernova polar eruption?”
“Definitely not,” disagreed Lori. “Such an event DID occur some two-hundred thousand years ago. Our scientists discovered a layer of isotopes in the planetary crust, in all sedimentary regions which correspond to that time period. If a similar event somehow created the bosons, it would have been present across Minbar, and not just this one region.”
“Wait, a planetary-scale GRB would have caused a mass-extinction event, right?” pressed Manuel.
“And indeed, it did,” confirmed a nodding Lori, “it took some three thousand years for the climate to stabilize after the event, and another thousand before life began to reclaim the surface once again, though our examinations of such events on other worlds suggest that it could have been much worse.”
“Then how could the Minbara line have evolved so quickly after the catastrophe?” asked Manuel.
“That question is part of the ‘Zha’fal’thot’… the ‘Dark, Broken, Line’,” replied Lori, who then explained further. “Prior to the stellar detonation event, our evolutionary ancestors lived in vast forests and swampland. We call them the Doshoun line. The event wiped them out, but it is clear that the Doshoun-Skoth somehow survived. There are too many genetic similarities between the Doshoun-Skoth and the early Minbara line to suggest otherwise. None of the other Doshoun variants that existed prior to the event, possess enough of the right genetic markers to have been the forefathers of the Minbara. The ‘broken line’ however, refers to the fact that we have no paleontological data for the period between the extinction of the Doshoun and the birth of the Minbara. There is a gap between the two that is unknown to us.”
“The collapse of the magma tube wasn’t the result of a stellar event or a meteor impact, or any other natural phenomenon,” announced Kirkish, re-entering the conversation after her brief hiatus. Her two colleagues ceased their debate and turned towards her, looking puzzled. “I’ve seen those readings before… about ten years ago, and it was a much, MUCH fresher reading. It came from a weapon.”
“Ten years ago,” repeated Manuel, “that was before we met. That would have even been before you left IPX.”
Mary nodded and went on. “I was in the middle of a dig on Mars, in Syria Planum. We knew that there was an object buried beneath it, but when we uncovered it, we didn’t know what we’d found. It wasn’t until I cut ties with the Earth Alliance and emigrated here to Minbar and began working with the Rangers that I learned that it was a Shadow Vessel.”
At these words, Kha’loreen’s eyes opened wide in shock and her hands began an almost imperceptible tremble.
“Wait, that alien race that the Rangers were trained to fight?” asked Manuel. Mary nodded and continued.
“While I was at the dig site, a second ship arrived and finished digging the first ship out, before the two left together.” Kirkish gave a pronounced shiver. “I can still feel the scream that thing made when it woke up. I went back to the dig afterwards and took some readings. Areas hit by their weapon showed concentrations of free bosons. I later learned that they’re the result of a gluon disruptor beam; the Shadows’ weapon of choice.”
As the facts of her story sunk in for her two companions, Mary jumped from this to the obvious conclusion regarding their discovery. “Ten thousand years ago, the Shadows were here. They used their weapon to collapse the magma tube and sealed these caves in. That still doesn’t explain what happened to the inhabitants of these caves, since except for our friend in there, none of them died here.”
“In Valen’s name,” whispered Kha’loreen.
Date: December 9th, 2266
Location: Lorsai Mountain Subterranean City-Caverns near Tinarel.
To: Grey Council
Copies Sent To: Ministry for Minerology – Worker Cast
Ministry for Culture and Legacy – Religious Cast
Ministry for Domestic Security – Warrior Cast
Lady Delenn, Entil’Zah, Anla’Shok
Esteemed members and representatives, I have drafted this report based on a recommendation from Scholar Kha’loreen, upon uncovering certain details regarding the dig here beneath Lorsai.
Based on evidence gathered, we theorize that the inhabitants of this abandoned subterranean city, first came here to escape a massive climatological collapse, brought on by a glancing blow from a Gamma-Ray Burst, which struck Minbar some two-hundred-thousand years ago. The initial inhabitants, belonging to the Minbari evolutionary stage known as ‘Doshoun-Skoth’, entered through an empty magma tube, which had previously created the Zortel volcanic fields.
The Doshoun-Skoth existed here, evolving for some twenty-thousand years before re-emerging onto the stabilized and habitable surface as the Minbara line, but a portion of them remained below and began to thrive, evolving into a separate line. We have dubbed this line, ‘Minbara-Dra’Zod’. All we have of them is the organic residue discovered early in the expedition.
The Dra’Zod existed in these caves for over one-hundred-thousand years, completely separated from the surface dwellers, developing a fully-fledged and self-sufficient civilization, reaching Bronze-Age classification. We have also recovered an organic sample dating back ten millennia, for which genetic analysis has confirmed it as a descendent of the Dra’Zod line. We have designated this variant, ‘Minbara-Dra’Kal’. It is at this point however, that Minbara-Dra line disappears completely.
With the exception of one chamber in the upper-most sections of the complex, we found no artifacts normally associated with habitation by an intelligent species. The architecture and use of metallurgy are clear indicators of advanced intelligence, but even with any mass-casualty event, one would expect to find such things scattered about, but we have found none, suggesting an evacuation of some sort.
The disappearance of Minbara-Dra’Kal coincides with what Minbari planetology records as a seismic event, which collapsed much of the magma tube which connected them to the surface directly. However, we have found irrefutable proof that the seismic event was not a natural phenomenon, but was in fact triggered by a highly powerful and highly advanced directed energy weapon, corresponding to an alien species known to Minbari history as Shadows. It is clear that ten millennia ago, they sealed these caves, likely after an evacuation of its inhabitants.
After further consultation with Scholar Kha’loreen, I have decided that it is also prudent to include that this event corresponds with reference from an ancient Minbari tale, first scribed eight-thousand years ago, but predates this by two thousand years, having been passed down by word of mouth. The poem, which tells the tale, references a great storm that covered all of Minbar for ten days and ten nights, and that intense lightning shook the Lorsai mountains to their roots and devastated the forests that covered their flanks. This could be references to the Shadow Death-Cloud weapon, known to be used as a planetary destroyer weapon.
The other corresponding reference, falls within the mythic stories of the galaxy, passed to the Minbari from the Vorlons, citing a conflict between themselves and the rest of the ‘First Ones’, against the Shadows. This story is certainly biased against the Shadows by the Vorlons, but it is likely that the war was in fact between a multitude of ‘First Ones’ races, the Vorlons and Shadows occupying opposing sides. How this conflict fits into the Shadow activities on Minbar ten millennia ago, or with the Minbara-Dra’Kal and their disappearance is open to wide speculation, but with the departure of the Shadows, the true nature of these events are likely to remain unknown for the foreseeable future.
In light of the sensitive nature of this find and its revelations, I have insisted that the details of this discovery remain known to only myself, Scholar Kha’loreen, and Professor Manuel Lourdes. Whether or not to make any of these discoveries public knowledge will be up to the Grey Council, and we will abide by their decision.
I have decided to continue examination of the tunnels here beneath Lorsai, partially to flesh out our understanding of this unknown cousin to the Minbari people, but also to maintain the pretense that this is an ordinary archeological dig.
Please contact me with instructions regarding the disclosure of findings, or if you require any clarification regarding these discoveries.
Dr. Mary Kirkish
Delenn set down the data pad she’d been pouring over, and took a deep breath. She’d read the document three times to be sure she hadn’t misinterpreted its contents, but with every read-through a whole new series of ramifications came to her. What would the Shadows want with Minbar, and what became of these unknown cousins of theirs?
Delenn had served on the Grey Council for ten cycles, and in that time, she had been forced to keep secrets, sometimes by the will of the Council, and sometimes she’d needed to keep things FROM the Council. Either way, Delenn disliked keeping secrets, as it was a form of lying, which was un-Minbari on a very fundamental level, but she understood why they were necessary… sometimes. If the Minbari people, even the Humans, learned even half of the secrets she knew, it could destroy both societies.
This discovery could very well become one of those secrets that shook foundations, destroyed beliefs, and could lead to anarchy and violence. Further information would be needed before they were sure either way, so the find would need to be… as the humans say, ‘Classified’, until they knew more.
Delenn sighed again, reaffirming the conclusion she’d made to begin with, but had decided to re-evaluate and ponder over it all before moving on it. She rose and walked over to the communications terminal, ready to open an encrypted line to the Grey council, when the panel came to life on its own.
“YOU HAVE AN INCOMING PRIORITY TRANSMISSION FROM, PRESIDENT JOHN SHERIDAN,” announced the computer voice. “DO YOU WISH TO ACCEPT?”
“Yes,” she replied. She was relieved to see the face of her husband on the screen. She was briefly puzzled by the unfamiliar room behind him, until she remembered that he’d been making an inspection of the new Victory-class warships being developed by an Earth corporation for the Interstellar Alliance. It didn’t explain why there was a number of Earth-Force officers manning the stations though.
“Delenn, good. I need you to assemble an emergency meeting of the Alliance Advisory Council. Mobilize the Rangers while you’re at it. And I’ll need to you speak with the Grey Council directly. We’ll need their help most of all,” he began, almost without taking any breaths.
“John, slow down,” Delenn urged. “The Advisory Council and making preparations for the fifth anniversary of the Alliance, and-”
“Forget the celebrations!” he thundered, causing Delenn to catch the urgency in his voice. “Delenn, I need you to get every ship… anything that can fight… and get them to Earth in the next eight hours! Rangers, Minbari, and anyone from the former League worlds who can get ships there in-time. I’m about to contact Captain Lockley about assembling as many Earth Force warships as they can get.”
“What is it, John? Who will they be fighting?”
“Drakh! They’ve got a fleet almost as big as the one we had at Coriana, and they’ve got a Shadow Death-cloud with them!”
“You’re sure of this? John, I received a message from Captain Lockley about your arrival at Babylon 5… your erratic behaviour.”
“I saw it with my own eyes, Delenn, along with the entire crew,” Sheridan insisted. “You saw what those things did during the war. I can’t let that happen to Earth. I need those ships, Delenn. I need you to trust me.”
“I trust you, John,” she assured with an encouraging but muted smile. “I will do as you ask. Please, be safe.”
“As safe as I can be when going into battle,” Sheridan answered wearily, “I love you, Delenn.” The pair then kissed their own right hands and held them up to meet at the screen, a practice they’d adapted from the Minbari greeting of holding one’s hand out towards the other’s heart.
The screen went dark, and Delenn sighed. Things were so much more complicated with Humans. Among Minbari, a Priest was not a Warrior, nor would a Warrior build, just as a Worker would not preach. John could be in any one of these roles, or none of them, or more than one as the situation required. When she had been a mere acolyte, Delenn had occasionally thought about taking a husband, despite how unlikely it seemed given her calling to serve, but she had adamantly insisted to herself, that she would not marry a Warrior. And here was her husband, heading off to do battle.
Delenn shook her head at the absurdity of it all, and moved to put on her ceremonial robes while simultaneously sending out the signal for the priority meetings she would need to attend in order to assemble the fleet John would need. Before heading out the door, Delenn glanced back at the data pad she’d been reading earlier, and the document that had occupied her concern just a few short minutes before. It could wait. These secrets had been buried for ten thousand cycles. A few days delay in forwarding her recommendations to the Grey Council on this discovery, would not cause all of creation to fall.