“Captain, I’m picking up something unusual here,” Commander Ivanova said hesitantly as she pulled up the information on the Command and Control computers.
“What is it?” Captain Sheridan asked as he walked over, a few papers still in his hand from where he had been going over the approvals he’d received from the various ambassadors, granting their permission to speak to Mr Endawi about the ‘unknown’ ship ISN had reported, the one he already knew was a Shadow ship but wasn’t willing to tell Mr Endawi anything he knew.
“I’m picking up an unusual signal coming through the jumpgate,” Ivanova explained. “It’s on a high frequency tachyon band, extremely powerful, targeted directly at the jump point.”
“Origin?” Sheridan asked curiously, none of the races he knew used tachyon bands like that for communication, especially not through hyperspace where the signal could be confused with the beacons.
“Unknown,” Ivanova said with a frown. “Wherever it’s coming from, it’s deep within hyperspace.”
“A lost transport?” Sheridan asked. “A distress beacon perhaps?”
“Targeted at us?” Ivanova asked dryly.
“Let’s hear it.” Sheridan said impatiently.
“Yes sir,” Ivanova nodded as she activated communications and directed them to receive the unusual band. “One second, it’s an intensely powerful beam, taking our computers a minute to decipher the contents.”
“Whenever you’re ready Commander,” Sheridan said dryly as he waited, watching the console as Ivanova worked.
“Ah, here we go,” Ivanova said after a moment, tapping a few buttons before the hailing screen activated displaying a fuzzy image of an unknown human wearing an unfamiliar black and grey uniform. “This is Babylon Five; state your reason for the targeted tachyon stream.” She announced firmly.
“Captain Ezri Dax of the Federation Starship Aventine,” The young human said, causing Sheridan to look over at Ivanova in surprise. “We have someone here to wishes to speak to an Ambassador Delenn?” She asked cautiously, looking off-screen and then smiling as she turned back.
“Ambassador Delenn can be reached through the normal communications channels,” Ivanova said firmly. “Tachyon transmissions are a risk to hyperspace travellers.”
“May I?” Another voice came from off the screen, this one male and English sounding, causing Sheridan to look at the screen in surprise again when another human stepped into view, this one with long hair past his shoulders and wearing a uniform he recognised instantly.
“Ah,” Sheridan paused as he noticed the badge the person on the screen was wearing. “Can you transfer this to my ready room Commander, and have Delenn meet me there as soon as possible.”
“Captain?” Ivanova asked, turning to him and ignoring the hailing screen for the moment.
“Transfer the channel to my ready room Commander, I’ll take it from there.” Sheridan said firmly as he moved to leave the Command and Control area. “Once it’s transferred I want you to close the channel from C&C, I’ll be talking with them alone.”
“Yes Captain,” Ivanova said, knowing the look on Captain Sheridan’s face as one she didn’t argue with. “Stand by.” She said frostily, turning back to the hailing screen and transferring it through to Captain Sheridan’s ready room as ordered.
“You’re a Ranger,” Captain Sheridan said without delay as he activated the waiting channel in his ready room, making sure the door was closed behind him so he could talk without anyone overhearing him.
“Yes Captain,” The man said with a nod. “I was on my way to Babylon Five when these people offered assistance.”
“Assistance?” Sheridan asked cautiously.
“I’d been pushing my engines past the mark, hoping to get to Babylon Five as quickly as I could.” The man explained. “Is Ambassador Delenn there?”
“She’s on her way now,” Sheridan said firmly. “What were you in such a rush you get here for?”
“I’d rather wait until Ambassador Delenn was there Captain; it’s something she needs to hear as well.” The man said respectfully.
“Alright,” Sheridan nodded at him. “Who are these people that offered you assistance then?” He asked, moving onto another topic while they waited for Ambassador Delenn to arrive.
“Captain Dax,” The man nodded as he stepped out of view, only to be replaced by the sight of the woman they had first seen on the communications screen when they’d accessed the signal.
“Captain Sheridan,” The woman said respectfully as she came back into view, Sheridan paused for a second as he looked at her, on first glance she obviously seemed human, it was difficult to gauge over a communications screen though but she appeared to be quite a bit shorter than the Ranger he had just been speaking with. Her short hair was pulled back tightly, exposing decorative spots that trailed down her hairline from her forehead and down her neck to below the strange uniform she was wearing.
“I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with your species Captain Dax,” Sheridan said cautiously, having learnt from the past that first encounters needed to be handled as delicately as possible.
“That’s understandable Captain,” The woman smiled pleasantly at him. “We’re new to this area, only recently having arrived here.”
“And you came to the assistance of our friend there,” Sheridan said with a nod, mentally scolding himself for mentioning the Rangers on an open channel previously.
“We found his ship on minimal power, he was barely alive when we got to him.” The woman explained. “Though he has been extremely helpful in assisting us with information about hyperspace and the beacon system you use here.”
“That’s one of the things we needed to discuss,” Sheridan said diplomatically. “The hyperspace beacons transmit a tachyon pulse to keep the beacon trail active, travelling ships use these tachyon pulses to navigate through hyperspace, your communication could be causing disruption throughout the beacon trail.”
“I apologise Captain, I had no idea.” The woman said apologetically. “Once Marcus has spoken with the ambassador then we will cease any further tachyon communications.”
“It would be a good idea,” Sheridan nodded thankfully, happy that this new species were open to discussion. “If you could stick to the standard…” He paused as the door chime sounded, letting him know there was someone waiting to enter his ready room. “One second Captain, I believe Ambassador Delenn has arrived.” He explained before moving away from the communications screen to the door, pressing the control panel on the wall to unlock it before opening it cautiously.
“You asked to see me Captain?” Delenn asked with a smile as the door opened.
“I did,” Sheridan smiled back as he stepped away from the door to let her enter the room before closing it behind her. “A few minutes ago we received a communication on an extremely high frequency tachyon band,” Sheridan explained as he led her over to the communications screen. “This is Captain Dax, where the communication originated from.” He said by way of introduction as he gestured to the young woman on the screen. “Captain Dax, Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari Federation.”
“Thank you for speaking with us Ambassador,” The woman said politely as Ambassador Delenn came into view.
“The pleasure is mine Captain,” Delenn smiled back at the woman. “What can I do for you?”
“Actually, we’re just here to pass on a message,” The woman explained before moving out of view, letting the Ranger come back into view on the screen.
“Entil’Zha,” Marcus bowed deeply as he came into view.
“Marcus,” Delenn smiled fondly as she recognised the person on the screen, bowing back slightly in respect.
“I would not have contacted you unless it was urgent Delenn,” Marcus explained apologetically.
“It’s alright Marcus, what is it?” Delenn asked curiously, why one of the Rangers was contacting her on such an unusual frequency, the Rangers were taught to hide in secrecy; it was one of the most sacred tenants of the Anla’Shok.
“We’re under attack,” Marcus said plainly. “The Centauri have put up a blockade around our colony. They came about two weeks ago, planting blockade mines in orbit around the planet, shooting down anyone who tries to leave.”
“The Centauri?” Delenn asked in shock. “Why would they do such a thing? Zagros Seven has no strategic value to them, no diplomatic or mining value.”
“Exactly,” Marcus agreed with her. “That’s why I believe we have to be the target.”
“I believe you are correct,” Delenn said thoughtfully before turning to Captain Sheridan. “Zagros Seven is one of our training camps for the Rangers,” She explained.
“Not here,” Sheridan said, cutting her off before she should say anything else. “What can we do to help?” He asked, looking at the screen again.
“We need help to evacuate,” Marcus explained. “Captain Dax has offered, but she only has the one ship, not enough to mount a full defence against the blockade satellites.”
“We can’t do much more,” Sheridan said after a moment. “It would take weeks for the nearest starship to get here, days more to get to Zagros Seven.”
“Our people don’t have weeks Captain,” Marcus said pleadingly. “They’re already on the brink of starvation, the cold hasn’t left much in the way of farmland and the blockade is preventing anyone from trying to bring supplies in.”
“I’m willing to help Captain,” The female Captain said as she moved into view alongside Marcus. “I can provide assistance if you can help keep the satellites off our back.”
“Ours is only a small colony, we only started operations there several months ago,” Delenn explained. “There can’t be more than thirty or forty people there.”
“Less,” Marcus said with a frown. “Two dozen, perhaps more.” He said sadly. “The rest were shot down trying to leave or managed to escape before the blockade was fully in place.”
“Can you accommodate that many?” Captain Sheridan asked, looking over at Captain Dax.
“Easily Captain,” Captain Dax replied simply. “The problem is the satellites and any ships these Centauri have left there to help in maintaining the blockade,”
“We can handle that,” Delenn said slowly. “If you are willing to help, we can arrange to meet you at your coordinates, from there we can launch a defence.”
“We can?” Sheridan asked in disbelief. “Delenn, we can’t openly attack a Centauri blockade, not in Earthforce ships. Besides, it would take days for the Starfuries to reach the Zagros jump point, by then it would be too late.”
“Trust me Captain,” Delenn smiled at him softly. “Transmit your coordinates through; we will be with you shortly.”
“Understood,” Captain Dax said with a nod.
“Thank you Delenn,” Marcus bowed deeply before the Captain Sheridan cut off the communications channel.
“You mind explaining to me just how we’re going to do all this?” Sheridan asked. “Mounting an attack on a Centauri blockade would be amount to advertising to them to come and attack Babylon Five itself.”
“We have the means Captain,” Delenn smiled at him.
“Not to mention going into battle with an unknown ally,” Sheridan continued, ignoring Delenn’s curious look. “We don’t even know this Captain Dax, her species, her motives, hell, what sort of ship she’s in.”
“Does the fact she offered to help at the risk of her own ship not count in her favour?” Delenn asked quietly. “Or the fact she rescued one of the Rangers from trouble in hyperspace?”
“I’ll admit, she’s done right so far,” Sheridan nodded in agreement. “But that doesn’t mean I like going into battle with a Captain I’ve only just met.”
“Then you will have to talk with her before we go into battle,” Delenn smiled softly. “Come, there are preparations to be made.” She said with a small nod, indicating for him to follow her. “We’ll use my transport to go where we need.”
“What sort of preparations, Delenn?” Sheridan asked as he followed her out of the room. “Garibaldi,” He announced, tapping on the commlink on his wrist. “Meet me in the docking area.” He said when the commlink beeped to let him know that a connection had been made before he pressed it again to close it. “If I’m doing this, I’m sure as hell not going in there blind,” He muttered to himself as he followed Delenn down the corridors of Babylon Five.
“Did they get them?” Captain Dax asked, turning to Seven for confirmation that their location had been transmitted along the link.
“I believe so,” Seven nodded quickly. “I transmitted our relative location using the six closest beacons for reference.”
“That should be enough,” Marcus nodded in agreement as he followed Captain Dax off of the main platform and down to the main floor. “It’ll take them two, maybe three hours to get here Captain.” He explained as they joined Seven and G’Fokk on the main floor.
“I will continue repairs on the ablative armour then,” Seven said with a nod.
“Agreed,” Ezri nodded back at her. “See what you can do about the torpedo tubes as well, we might need them if this turns into a firefight.”
Seven simply nodded before walking out of the room, the automatic doors to the astrometrics array opening and closing silently for her to leave.
“Is there anything you’d like while we wait?” Ezri asked, turning back to Marcus. “Something to eat, I can arrange for a place to rest if you’d like?”
“Something to eat would be marvellous,” Marcus grinned at her.
“Alright, we can arrange something in the briefing room while you explain to me what exactly we’re going to be expecting in the blockade of yours,” Ezri commented as she gestured to leave the room, Marcus following closely with G’Fokk. “And any information you have on the Centauri weapons for Lieutenant G’Fokk would be appreciated as well.” She explained as she led the way back to the turbolift.
“Captain,” Ivanova called out as she rushed down to the docking bay where Captain Sheridan, Ambassador Delenn and Mr Garibaldi where talking animatedly. “This was transferred over the tachyon link shortly after the communication finished, it took our computers a while to decipher it, but it appears to be coordinates.” She explained, holding out the data crystal for Sheridan to take.
“Ah, good,” Sheridan nodded. “I was just about to call you to see if you’d received anything.”
“Yes sir,” Ivanova nodded. “Can I ask what this is all about?” She asked, looking around at the stoic faces of Delenn and Garibaldi. “It’s about the Rangers isn’t it?” She asked blatantly, ignoring the shocked looked that covered their three faces.
“Commander, how… where, no how do you know about that?” Captain Sheridan spluttered out in surprise.
“Captain, the day something happens around here and I don’t know about it, worry.” Commander Ivanova said with a frown. “Now, is there some reason we’re all just standing around in the docking bay, or do we have somewhere to be?”
“You said the computer translated the coordinates received from Captain Dax?” Sheridan asked, tabling the discussion about the Rangers until they were in a more private setting, while the docking bay for Ambassador Delenn was mercifully quiet; there was always the chance of being overheard by one of the dockhands or a passing diplomat.
“It took a while, the coordinates were plotted using the beacons as a frame of reference, once the computer mapped the jump points together, we managed to extrapolate the hyperspace coordinates from there.” Ivanova explained.
“Good,” Sheridan nodded as he held up the crystal. “Now, apparently Delenn has something to show us, I was going to wait until we returned to discuss all of this with you, but since you already seem to know everything that’s going on, and I doubt you’re going to let me leave without making a fuss…”
“You’ve got more chance of Ambassador Mollari and G’Karr exchanging friendship bracelets Captain,” Ivanova said with a small smile.
“As I thought,” Sheridan said with a nod. “Well then, shall we?” He asked, turning to Delenn to lead the way to her transport where Lennier was waiting for them.