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BABYLON PROJECT: THE AGE OF SHADOWS
by PJ

Earth Year 2263

Minbar System

Fleet Admiral Jeffrey Sinclair sat dispassionately within the command chair
of the EAS Retribution as the battle for Minbar raged across the holographic
display screen on the forward wall of the bridge. The dark void of space was
filled with criss-crossing laser beams and neutron blasts as the Earth
Alliance task force engaged the homeworld defense fleet of the Minbari. A
Minbari War Cruiser sailed directly towards the bow of the Retribution,
firing a steady stream of fire from its two massive neutron cannons. The
bridge of the Retribution shook as the two garish gold beams splashed across
the oily hull of the Wraith-class destroyer.

"Minor damage to hull," reported Commander Deane from his console.

"Return fire," ordered Sinclair, his cold eyes riveted on the advancing War
Cruiser.

The forward plasma cannons of the Retribution locked on the Minbari warship,
releasing crackling beams of electric blue fire. The War Cruiser quivered
like a living thing when the beams slashed across its main hull, slicing
a large section away like a knife through freshly baked bread.

Internal atmosphere spewed from the open ship like smoke while the mortally
wounded ship slowly began falling to starboard, all of its systems failing as
it died. Two Minbari fighters blurred past the bow, firing their fusion
cannons, closely pursued by two Thunderbolts spitting laser bolts.

"Captain Elrod's battle group has broken through the Minbari line. He
requests orders," said Captain Fremm from her station.

"Tell him to swing around and attack the Minbari rear," replied Sinclair,
placing his interlaced hands upon his lap.

"Aye, sir," nodded Fremm, speaking softly into her comm headset.

A fresh frenzy of lights followed Sinclair's command as the Earth Alliance
battle squadron fell on the Minbari, six Wraiths preceded by a swarm of
Thunderbolts lashing the War Cruisers with coordinated plasma and laser fire.
The Minbari defense line fell apart, War Cruisers and fighters hurling in all
directions, easy prey for the well disciplined Earth fleet.

"Do we advance towards Minbar?" inquired Captain Fremm, her lovely face
eager.

"No. Order the fleet to pursue the Minbari War Cruisers. I want them all
destroyed."

"Aye."

The constant flash of weapon fire disappeared from the holo-screen, replaced
by the cold beauty of Minbar. Sinclair gazed at Minbar, the homeworld of his
enemy's ally, a threat that would finally be removed after years of war.
Sinclair sat quietly, listening to his bridge officers coordinate the
destruction of the Minbari Fleet.

"A few War Cruisers managed to Jump from the system, but we got the rest of
them," informed Captain Fremm.

"Good. Send my compliments to all of the ship captains, then instruct them to
Jump to the rendezvous point near the Vorlon border."

"Aye, sir."

Sinclair tapped the arm of his chair, watching while two Wraiths sailed up
across the screen, plunging into the swirling gold Jump Points generated by
their engines.

"We're the only ship left in the system. Do we Jump?"

"No, maintain position," ordered Sinclair, the fingers of his right hand
tapping a transmission code into the comm unit built into his chair.

The bridge crew fell silent, switching their attention from the Admiral to
the holo-screen.

Even through the thick hull of the destroyer, the bridge crew heard the
scream of Shadow vessels as they emerged from Hyperspace, racing towards the
defenseless world of Minbar.

"Good god!" gasped an officer while dozens of Shadow vessels filled space,
howling like hellspawn on their way to the white blue planet before them.

"What are they going to do?" asked Captain Fremm in a tense whisper.

"Erase the Minbari from existence," replied Sinclair, his heart heavy.

****

"Satai! Satai Delenn!" called the acolyte, pushing his way through the
panicked mob fleeing past the Temple doors.

Delenn did not reply, she remained on her knees before the alter, her hands
clasped tightly together, her head bowed in prayer.

"Satai! You must leave with the other members of the Grey Council! They are
departing on a shuttle immediately!"

"No, I will remain here, with the ghosts of my father and Holy Valen, when my
world is reduced to ash by the Darkness."

"Satai! You must leave to guide those who survive!"

"None will survive, the Shadows will make sure of that," replied Delenn
softly, tears falling silently down her cheeks.

"Delenn, please," begged the acolyte, his own eyes brimming over with tears
of despair.

"Come, kneel with me, let us pray to Valen together," suggested Delenn
gently, indicating a spot to her left.

Wiping the tears from his eyes, the acolyte fell to his knees next to Delenn,
hunching down his shoulders, praying for the survival of his people.

The Shadow vessels screamed in triumph as they descended from the bright
blue skies of Minbar. Purple tongues of death fell onto the capital city,
shattering towers of crystal that had stood proudly for centuries. Plumes of
smoke rose into the air as the Shadows circled like vultures, spitting violet
fire, slashing across streets and homes with unholy glee. The Temple shook
violently to its foundation, stained glass windows shattering from the blast
wakes of Shadow assaults.

The acolyte kneeling next to Delenn attempted to shield the small woman with
his body when the huge stained glass window in front of them exploded,
hurling thousands of razor sharp missiles at them both. Delenn fell onto her
back, the dead acolyte weighing heavily upon her thin body as she felt the
blood from her own wounds spill onto the steps leading up to the alter.

"Why, Valen? Why did this happen?" beseeched Delenn just before her eyes
clouded over with death.

****

Admiral Sinclair stood, watching Minbar burn below him. He felt sick,
nauseous from the deaths he was responsible for, the lives of an entire world
offered up for the sake of revenge. Unwilling to watch more, Sinclair turned
away from the screen, arms crossed behind his back while he walked towards
the bridge lift.

"Beautiful, isn't it, Jeffrey?" observed Sybyl from her seat at the back of
the bridge, her light brown eyes smoldering with obscene pleasure.

Sinclair tried his best to hide his revulsion long enough for the lift doors
to slide shut.

****

"Today the Earth Alliance has won a great victory!" exclaimed President
Morgan Clark from the steps of Earthdome. "Today the tyranny of the Minbari
Federation is broken!"

Thousands of spectators cheered, happy that the long war against the Vorlons
and their allies was finally nearing an end.

"The mighty Earth Alliance Fleet, commanded by decorated Admiral Jeffrey
Sinclair, has finally broken the back of the Minbari, crushing their war
machine and setting their decadent world ablaze with purifying flame!
Rejoice, this is the first step to everlasting peace in our galaxy!"

The crowd cheered loudly again, shaking the steps beneath President Clark
with the strength of their cries. Clark smiled benevolently, shaking his
raised right fist into the air.

"Now the final phase of the war can begin. Now we take the war to the enemy!
For too long have the peace loving races of the galaxy feared the arrogant
Vorlons. For too long have we allowed them to fence us in, to destroy our
peaceful ships of exploration at their whim. No more!

Today we show the Vorlons that their day of dominion is over! Today we take
back our skies, our stars, our freedom!"

The crowd roared their approval as Clark waved in farewell, ascending the
steps up to the wide open doors of Earthdome. He passed through the richly
carpeted hallways, nodding to loyal senators and military officials on the
way to his own lavishly decorated offices.

"Very stirring, Mr. President," remarked Morgana from her seat near Clark's
desk.

"Thank you," bowed Clark mockingly before he sat down heavily in his plush
padded chair.

"You've done very well. My associates are pleased," smiled Morgana, crossing
her alluring stocking covered legs. "I trust you will continue to do your
part in the final assault on Vorlon space."

"If your 'associates' honor their promise to me. I want those occupation
zones in Narn space. The Narns will make an admirable slave work force."

"The Narns are yours to do with as you will," nodded Morgana with a wolfish
flash of her teeth.

****

"Talia Winters to see you, sir," said the secretary through the desk
intercom.

"Let her in," acknowledged Alfred Bester, leaning back in his chair as Talia
stormed into the spacious office.

"It took you long enough to activate me!" snapped Talia with a toss of her
short blonde hair before she flopped into a chair facing Bester.

"We didn't need you until now," replied Bester smoothly. "Did you learn
anything more from your 'friends' on Babylon 5?"

"No," snorted Talia. "Once Sinclair left to take command of the EA Fleet,
nothing happened on Babylon 5. It really got boring when the Narns declared
war on Earth, all the ambassadors left except for Kosh. He stayed in his
quarters until Earth started fighting with the Minbari, then he left and
there really was nothing to do, except fuck Ivanova, and that got old real
quick."

"I can imagine," grinned Bester. "Well, we need you here now. Are you ready
to undergo the augmentation?

"Yes," nodded Talia hungrily.

"Good. Report to your quarters. The doctors will come for you when they're
ready."

Talia rose to her feet, bowing mockingly before departing.

"I think I liked her cover persona better," sighed Bester regretfully.

****

Talia took a long hot shower, enjoying the fact that she could use as much
water as she wanted. Drying her golden tresses with a fluffy white towel,
Talia sat on the edge of her bed in a warm white bathrobe until there was a
gentle knock on her door.

"Enter."

A doctor opened the portal, taking in Talia with a quick up/down motion of
his eyes.

"Are you ready?"

"Yes," replied Talia, discarding the towel to follow the doctor and his
assistants to the operating theater.

The operating room was large and brightly lit when Talia entered. She shed
her bathrobe, strutting proudly for everyone in all her naked glory. A few of
the young male assistants raked their eyes over Talia's pert breasts and firm
ass as she walked to the waiting operating table and climbed up upon it. The
medical assistants strapped Talia onto the table with leather belts around
her wrists, thighs, and ankles. A female nurse covered Talia with a thin
sheet while the doctor checked over the beeping equipment.

"Everything checks out, let's go," said the doctor, ushering everyone out of
the room.

"Aren't you going to perform the procedure?" asked Talia from the table.

"No, another medical team is," answered the doctor before the swinging door
closed behind him.

Talia turned her attention to the ceiling, telling herself she would not
become frightened. She glanced at a movable table to her right, its surface
covered with a wide assortment of very wicked looking knives and hooks. She
quickly looked back at the ceiling, a thin sheen of perspiration forming on
her upper lip and forehead.

The bright lights of the operating theater switched off, plunging the room
into darkness. Talia reached out with her mind, desperate to know what was
happening. She couldn't feel anyone, but the doors to the operating room
crashed open, admitting six dark robed beings rolling several pieces of large
equipment into the chamber.

"Who are you? Where are the doctors?" snapped Talia, her instincts screaming
for her to use her telekinetic powers to free her trapped limbs.

"Do not struggle. We will perform your augmentation," hissed one of the
cowled beings while his companions activated their equipment.

"Who are you?"

"We are Drakh."

Another of the robed beings placed a respirator over Talia's face, a faint
hiss the only indication that gas was being pumped into her mouth and nose.

"Submit to the Shadow," whispered the Drakh, his body wavering as the gas
plunged Talia into oblivion.

****

Kosh floated across the immense laboratory, the entire length of the chamber
lined with inhabited stasis tanks. He made his way to a single tank at the
very end of a row, a tank filled with clear fluid and holding the body of
Lyta Alexander. Kosh gazed up at Lyta, her beautiful face calm in repose.
Sensing the presence of a Vorlon, Lyta opened her eyes, and smiled when she
recognized Kosh.

*How do you feel?* inquired Kosh within Lyta's mind.

*Sore. I think your people have prodded every orifice in my body, and few
that I didn't know I had,* grinned Lyta mischievously. *I'm glad you came
back to Vorlon.*

Kosh ran his gaze over Lyta's naked body, on the glittering tubes that rested
within her cunt, mouth, and nose. More fiber thin tendrils surrounded her
neck, wrists, legs, and belly, shimmering as energies coursed through them
into Lyta's nearly transparent white flesh.

*The process will be over soon, then you can leave the stasis tank,*
reassured Kosh.

*Good. I want to...make love to you one more time before...the end,* smiled
Lyta wanly.

*I will always be with you,* said Kosh, extending a glowing gold tendril
from beneath his encounter suit, forcing it through the wall of the tank to
briefly caress Lyta's brow. Lyta smiled, closing her eyes, falling into a
deep,
peaceful sleep.

*I am sorry,* murmured Kosh before he turned away from Lyta's suspended body.

****

Sinclair sat pensively at his small desk, watching the stars glitter through
the tall observation window while classical music played through the office's
intercom. The door of the office hissed open, admitting Sybyl Cervantes, who
smiled before descending gracefully into a chair facing the desk.

"The Centauri just called in. They're managing to hold back the Vorlon probe
fleet, but they want us to invade as soon as possible to take the pressure
off."

"I bet. The Centauri can't stand up to the Vorlons, it's only sheer numbers
keeping the Vorlons from overrunning the entire Republic."

"Emperor Cartagia doesn't care. As long as he gets to become a god he'll do
whatever my associates require of him."

"How convenient for them," retorted Sinclair acidly.

"Is that disapproval I hear in your voice, Jeffrey? A bit late to be
listening to the better voice of reason, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is too late," sighed Sinclair, looking out at the stars longingly.

"Your revenge against the Vorlons is almost complete, then you can finally
put Catherine's uneasy ghost to rest."

"Yes, we can both finally rest," replied Sinclair.

****

"Admiral on the bridge!" declared Captain Fremm, rising from the command
chair so that Sinclair could take her place.

"Captain, please request all ships to prepare for the Jump into Vorlon space.
Our first target is a major Vorlon base in sector 994."

"Contacting the fleet now," said Fremm, placing her comm set over her silky
brown hair.

"Let's finish this," whispered Sinclair, staring at the stars nourishing
Vorlon worlds; worlds that he would bathe in fire.

****

Talia sat at a small table, wolfing down a huge meal when Bester knocked at
her door.

"Come in," called out Talia, washing down a bit of juicy steak with a long
drink from her wine glass.

"I see your appetite recovered nicely," nodded Bester, taking a seat opposite
Talia.

"I was ravenous after the operation, for everything," grinned Talia when
Bester detected a young girl sleeping in the adjoining bedchamber.

"One of the Psi Cops in training," observed Bester.

"She was very impressed with my...mental prowess," purred Talia, her eyes
flashing with lewd amusement.

"Enough playing around, you have a job to do, a very important job," reminded
Bester.

"I know," snapped Talia. "When do they want me?"

"They want you ready to depart Earth tonight. I gather the invasion of the
Vorlon Empire has already started, they want you prepped for the attack on
the Vorlon homeworld."

"Exciting, isn't it? To help bring down an ancient, powerful race like the
Vorlons," shivered Talia blissfully.

"And they are just the beginning," smiled Bester coldly.

****

Sinclair stood near the port in his cabin dressed in a bathrobe, looking out
at the melted ruin that had once been the major Vorlon outpost for this
sector. His skin was cold from his brief shower, making him tremble slightly
as he walked to the liquor cabinet to pour himself a large drink, the only
thing that would allow him even a few moments of restful sleep. The door
chime rang, making Sinclair grimace briefly.

"Enter," ordered Sinclair a bit gruffly.

Sybyl slid into the room, dressed in a sheer red gown with a plunging
neckline.

"What do you want?"

"That's usually my question," giggled Sybyl.

"Very funny, now get to the point, I need to get some sleep before the
assault tomorrow."

"Yes, the attack on the Vorlon Homeworld, the final destruction of your
enemies," said Sybyl, her steps taking her to the port so she could admire
the wreckage floating in space. "How about a little pre-victory celebration?"

"You want to have sex?" asked Sinclair with an upraised eyebrow.

"I read once that great warriors would have sex before going into battle, it
gave them luck."

"Why should I need luck? I have a race of demons to aid my cause," retorted
Sinclair bitterly.

"Demons? That isn't a very nice way to describe your valued allies, allies
who shared their technology with the Earth Alliance so it could stand up to a
race of despotic Old Ones."

"I doubt that the Shadows are helping me out of the kindness of their hearts,
they want the Vorlons destroyed as much as I do, probably more."

"You're not wrong," nodded Sybyl, moving to stand close to Sinclair's turned
back, her breath warm on his neck. "But as long as you get what you want, who
cares why the Shadows help you?"

"Yes, let the rest of the galaxy burn," murmured Sinclair, raising his glass
to take a long swallow.

"Make love to me," whispered Sybyl, brushing the tip of her tongue inside
Sinclair's right ear.

Sinclair threw his glass against the wall, breaking it as he spun to grasp
Sybyl's slim brown arms. He kissed her roughly, ripping her dress open. Sybyl
moaned with excitement as Jeffrey yanked back painfully on her long curly
black hair, licking down the side of her neck to her warm tits. Sinclair
threw the woman onto his bunk, grasping the waistband of her black silk
panties and tearing them away from her crotch. Jeffrey fell on top of her,
crushing her mouth with his lips, squeezing her breasts with his left hand
while unbelting his robe.

"Give it to me, oh great conqueror!" panted Sybyl, licking her full red
painted lips.

Jeffrey slapped her across the face, then yanked her legs apart, ramming his
cock into her pussy. Sybyl growled huskily, raking her red nails across
Sinclair's bare chest, digging into his flesh until it bled. Jeffrey seized
Sybyl's wrists, thrusting them onto the pillow on either side of the woman's
head. He pumped his shaft into Sybyl's cunt, her pussy tight around his
throbbing pole.

"Harder, fuck me harder!" begged Sybyl, her lips trembling, her thrusting
tits heaving and dripping with sweat.

"Shut up, bitch!" snarled Jeffrey, wrapping his right hand around Sybyl's
throat, squeezing it tightly.

Sybyl moaned, her eyes filled with lustful fire while Sinclair slapped his
cock into her cunt. Jeffrey impaled her vagina over and over, using all of
his anger and self-loathing to power each thrust into the smiling woman's
pussy. Sinclair climaxed quickly, spewing his seed into Sybyl's hot,
squeezing vagina.

"Feel better, lover?" giggled Sybyl, leaning up to lick one of the scratches
she had made on Sinclair's chest.

"Get out, whore," snapped Sinclair, collapsing onto his side upon the bunk,
his back turned to Sybyl.

Sybyl gathered her ruined dress and panties from the floor, leaving Sinclair
to his brooding while she sought entertainment from more pliant crewmembers.

****

Lyta ran the towel over her wet red hair, pleasantly limber after a long, hot
shower. She draped the rich white robe over her naked body, cinching the belt
tight around her slim waist.

*I have brought you dinner,* announced Kosh as the door to Lyta's room melted
open for the imposing Vorlon.

"Kosh, you shouldn't have!" grinned Lyta happily while the heavily laden tray
floated onto the crystal table in the center of the large apartment.

*It is the least I can do for someone who has sacrificed so much to aid my
people,* replied Kosh, floating to a rest across the table from Lyta.
*Please, eat.*

Lyta sat down at the table, raising the silver dinner lid, eagerly inhaling
the beautiful aromas coming from the dishes beneath, her mouth watering with
hunger. Kosh watched Lyta devour her meal, his eye port narrowing with
amusement.

"That was delicious! I don't think I can move!" sighed Lyta, sitting back in
her chair, patting her belly.

*That is unfortunate. I had hoped to fulfill the wish you had made while
in stasis,* said Kosh, the light from his eye port turning pink with
embarrassment.

"Oh, that," grinned Lyta, her eyes gleaming wickedly. "I think I can gather
enough energy for that."

Kosh turned his gaze to the floor, his eye port still glowing pink.

Lyta slowly stood up, walking into the bedroom. Kosh floated after her, his
eye port pulsing when he beheld Lyta standing naked next to the huge bed, her
robe discarded on the floor. Kosh admired the way the light of Vorlon's
churning gases illuminated Lyta's pale skin, made every sensual curve glow
with a warm, inviting radiance. Lyta crawled onto the bed, waiting for Kosh.

Kosh's encounter suit landed on the thickly carpeted floor. The helmet piece
rose up, allowing Kosh's true form to slither out and float onto the bed and
his waiting love.

"You're so beautiful," sighed Lyta, her eyes gazing up at Kosh's fluttering,
shining body.

Kosh appeared to Lyta as a glowing golden male angel, his eyes filled with
gold fire, his skin taut, smooth and gleaming with vitality. Kosh extended
his arms, caressing Lyta's face with his strong hands, allowing her to kiss
the tips of his fingers with her sensual lips.

"I love you, Kosh," purred Lyta as Kosh rested on her prone naked body, his
hands enfolding her breasts while he kissed her passionately, his long,
golden hair surrounding her face like a veil.

Kosh lowered his right hand to Lyta's pussy, slowly caressing her labia,
rubbing her stiff clitoris between two fingers. Lyta groaned, her tongue
probing deep into Kosh's mouth. Kosh moved his lips to Lyta's right breast,
licking the nipple, encircling it with his gentle tongue until it was aching
with desire. He switched to her left breast, slowly sucking on her warm
flesh, filling his mouth with her shuddering orb. Kosh inserted a finger
into Lyta's cunt, sliding it up and down the entrance of her slit, caressing
the flesh of her vagina until her honey flowed over his palm.

"Enter me, fill me," panted Lyta, her short red hair slick with perspiration.

Kosh kissed her again, slow and lingering, before grasping her rounded hips
and sliding his long, stiff cock into Lyta's pussy. Lyta moaned loudly,
arching her back, her stomach clenched while Kosh delved into her vagina, his
member growing to fill her cunt mouth. Kosh started thrusting gently into her
pussy, his hands holding her firmly, supporting her as she surrendered
herself to carnal ecstasy. Lyta grunted softly with each shove into her cunt,
her glistening tits quivering, her mouth shuddering uncontrollably.

Kosh maintained his pumping action until he felt Lyta orgasm. She screamed in
bliss, her pussy overflowing with her juices while every muscle in her thighs
and crotch shuddered with pleasure. Lyta collapsed upon the soft bed, gasping
for breath, a satisfied smile on her gorgeous face.

*Did I please you?* asked Kosh, running his right hand through Lyta's wet
hair.

"Very much," murmured Lyta, reaching out to hold the Vorlon.

Kosh rested behind Lyta, wrapping his strong arms around her, kissing her
left shoulder while she fell into an exhausted sleep. He kissed her neck and
hair, pressing his warm body next to hers, lending her his strength.

*Sleep, my love. Rest with me,* whispered Kosh, watching over his charge, his
beloved daughter.

****

The edge of the Vorlon system exploded as Jump Points swirled into existence.
The Earth Alliance Fleet dove into Real Space, dozens of Wraith-class
destroyers protected by a screen of Thunderbolts and Starfuries.

"Long range scans?" inquired Admiral Sinclair from the command chair.

"A large concentration of Vorlon ships surrounding their homeworld. Thirty
cruisers with fighters are advancing towards us."

"Prepare to fire on the Vorlon cap ships when they enter our range," snapped
Sinclair.

"Sir! Our fighters are under attack!" exclaimed Captain Fremm in alarm.

Sinclair watched the holo-screen as a squadron of Thunderbolts were shredded
by several intersecting streams of fire.

"Where's that fire coming from?"

"I can't find them on the scanners! They must be stealth shielded!"

"Order the fighters to pull back, those must be automated defense buoys. Tell
all ships to saturate the area with cannon fire."

The Thunderbolts flashed back behind the destroyers, allowing the massive
warships to fire their plasma cannons in wide swaths, destroying the
invisible defense mechanisms blocking their path.

"Sir, Vorlon cruisers are in range!" reported Fremm.

The approaching dots representing advancing Vorlon vessels flashed,
announcing the lances of incoming fire at the Earth Alliance ships.
Concentrated volleys destroyed five EA warships immediately, many others
taking heavy damage as the Vorlon cruisers sailed closer.

"Fire missile barrage, then let the fighters loose!" ordered Sinclair while
the Retribution shook from a direct hit.

The Wraiths released a swarm of missiles, the projectiles arcing into the
Vorlon enemy, blasting them apart with low yield nuclear explosions.

"Twelve Vorlon ships destroyed, the rest are retreating," said Captain Fremm,
her face relieved.

A key on Sinclair's comm panel blinked, drawing the Admiral's eye. He
regarded the key for a long moment, then slowly, reluctantly, he pressed down
upon it.

****

Talia squirmed in her restraints, the slick strands of black fiber holding
her in place as the Shadow vessel materialized into Real Space, the Vorlon
homeworld just barely within sight. She looked around, her mind linked with
the telepath serving as the warship's central processing unit, looking
through the telepath's mind at the immense fleets facing each other. As the
Earth Alliance destroyers sailed forward towards the waiting Vorlon vessels,
the Shadows attacked from below, purple spears of plasma impaling several
Vorlon cruisers, cutting through their hulls like a blade through a belly.
The Vorlon Fleet split, one group engaging the Wraiths while a second dove
down towards the Shadow swarm.

*Now,* whispered the soft sibilant hiss in Talia's mind.

Talia closed her eyes, blocking out everything around her as she unleashed
her mental power.

****

The massive Vorlon battleship floated above the northern pole of Vorlon,
coordinating the battle against the two invading forces. Lyta Alexander stood
on the bridge, watching Vorlon, Shadow, and Terran ships die in front of her.

*Now, Lyta, disrupt the Shadows,* said Kosh from the raised command platform
behind the young telepath.

Lyta nodded, closing her eyes, sending her thoughts out into space.

****

Twenty Shadow vessels spun out of control, crashing into each other or
spinning in all directions. The Vorlons pounced, raking the vessels with
bolts of gold lightning, tearing them into oily clouds of free floating blood
and debris. Lyta shifted to another group of Shadow vessels, but frowned when
they failed to leave formation. Lyta concentrated harder, her temples
throbbing as she used more and more power to confuse the Shadows.

Talia groaned, her face contorting with pain while a telepathic sledgehammer
smashed against the shield she had raised around the Shadow vessels. She
shuddered when the hammer fell again, a trickle of blood dripping out of her
right nostril.

"Take this, bitch," snarled Talia.

Lyta screamed, her eyes snapping open, blood falling below her left eye as
she fell back onto the floor of the bridge. Kosh swiftly descended to the
deck, reaching out with glowing gold limbs to support Lyta's shaking body.

*Someone's...fighting me,* whimpered Lyta, her eyes taking strength from
Kosh's presence.

*You must defeat them,* urged Kosh, Vorlon cruisers disappearing beneath the
swarm of Shadow vessels.

*I'll...I'll try,* smiled Lyta weakly, rising to her feet with Kosh's help.
She leaned against his encounter suit, staring out at the observation window,
searching for the telepath who opposed her.

Talia's ship screamed in bloodlust as it blasted another Vorlon ship apart.
It joined with three others, adding its fire to theirs against a wallowing
Vorlon battleship. The Vorlon vessel withered under the combined attack,
exploding in an expanding cloud of gold flame.

*You are doing well, continue,* praised the voice of the Shadow coordinator.

Talia smiled, marshaling her strength to finish the woman striving against
her.

Lyta clutched Kosh, blood trickling from both eyes as well as her nose, her
legs trembling from the strain. Lyta gave everything she had, paralyzing
another dozen Shadow vessels for Vorlon ships to destroy. But more Shadows
came, waves and waves of them, crashing over and through the Vorlon line,
isolating and destroying Vorlon ships like jackals on crippled prey. Lyta
sobbed, collapsing onto the deck, her heart pounding uncontrollably until,
in a brief instant, something in her brain snapped.

*NO!* screamed Kosh in Lyta's mind when he sensed that something had pierced
her mental shields and inflicted a mortal blow.

*K...Kosh! Help me!* moaned Lyta in the Vorlon's mind, her small right hand
brushing against the breastplate of his encounter suit.

Kosh blasted out of the confining metal, kneeling next to Lyta's dying body,
tears of fire falling from his eyes.

"I'm...I'm sorry," wept Lyta, her lips shivering.

*No, do not blame yourself, Lyta, you did your best, we all did.*

*Kosh,* whispered Lyta, touching his glowing face before her arm lost all
strength and fell to the deck.

"No," wept Kosh, taking Lyta's dead body in his arms, holding her close to
his heart.

****

"We're through, Admiral," reported Captain Fremm.

"Target the Vorlon battleship there," commanded Sinclair, using the plotter
control on his chair to indicate the ship floating above the Vorlon north
pole.

"Aye, sir," replied Fremm, the Retribution's engines roaring as the ship
accelerated to full thrust.

****

Kosh placed Lyta's motionless body tenderly on the deck when the proximity
alarm chimed. He returned to his cold encounter suit, floating back to the
command podium. He watched with unfeeling detachment as an Earth Alliance
destroyer headed directly for his ship. He communed with his ship, urging it
to engage the Shadow tainted vessel.

****

"Port cannons destroyed!" shouted Captain Fremm over the din while the bridge
reverberated from another direct hit.

"Maintain fire!" retorted Sinclair, wiping smoke out of his eyes as two
consoles to his right continued to burn, their operators slumped in their
seats.

"You can't take on a battleship! Pull back!" screamed Sybyl.

"No," smiled Sinclair, his eyes flinty with purpose.

"You're on your own, madman," snarled Sybyl before she disappeared into a
lift tube.

The bridge shook again, this time listing hard to port before righting.

"Sir, major breech in port hull, we're losing atmosphere!"

"Maintain course."

The Retribution fired another volley from its plasma cannons, blue lances
severing the forward prongs of the Vorlon battleship. The Vorlon ship
replied, spitting a golden lightning bolt that skewered deep into the
Retribution's belly, shaking the entire ship like a rabbit on a spit.

"Engines are offline! We've lost navigational control!" coughed Fremm, dull
rumbles of thunder echoing from the aft decks of the destroyer. "We're going
to ram the battleship!"

"Sound the call to abandon ship," ordered Sinclair while he sat back calmly
in his chair.

"Aren't you coming, sir?" asked Fremm, waiting by the loaded escape pod on
the port side of the bridge.

"No. Good-bye, Captain," smiled Sinclair.

"Good-bye, Admiral," replied Fremm, saluting crisply.

Sinclair watched the escape pod close and listened as it shot out into space.
Jeffrey relaxed in the enfolding padding around him, watching the huge Vorlon
ship plunge straight towards him.

"Forgive me," murmured Admiral Jeffrey Sinclair, a single tear falling down
his cheek before warm oblivion claimed him.

EPILOGUE:

"Today is a day for great celebration! The Vorlons have been crushed! Their
homeworld reduced to a ball of boiling flame. The few surviving stragglers
sent fleeing beyond the Rim. The Earth Alliance is victorious!" declared
President Clark, his titanic image broadcast to hang above every major city
of Earth. All across the planet, millions cheered, the long war finally over,
Humanity reigning supreme in the galaxy.

"Now we begin the expansion into new realms, worlds laid open for human
habitation by the eradication of the Minbari, Narn, and Vorlons. Hundreds of
worlds wait for us to settle them, to raise new families and create new,
vibrant cultures. The Earth Alliance is eternal, it will stand for a thousand
years as a symbol of human ambition and human nobility. Humanity has always
worshiped the heavens, we learned to reach them, now we take them, as is our
right!"

The inhabitants of Earth roared their approval, the era of expansion, of
Manifest Destiny, had begun.

****

"Hard to believe it's all over," said Alfred Bester, rising from the bed,
putting on a robe, before walking to the table near the observation port to
pour himself a glass of champagne.

Talia left the disheveled bed, walking naked to the table, pouring herself a
glass of her own to click next to Bester's.

"When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain he wept for he had no more
worlds to conquer," quoted Talia, sipping from her glass, enjoying the
bubbles as they tickled her throat.

"Exactly. Humanity's enemies lie defeated, the Psi Corps has a firm hand in
the government, what else is there?

"Creation," purred Talia, rubbing her naked body next to Bester's, pointing
out at the red Martian sky.

Shadow vessels dove through the atmosphere, screaming over the habitat dome,
their midnight black hulls gleaming in the ruddy light.

"Why just be a voice in Earthdome? Why not control it all? Let the servants
become Masters. The Shadows have left to slaughter the remaining Vorlons, I
control these vessels, do you see the possibilities?"

"The oppressed become the oppressors. I like it," smiled Bester, turning to
grasp Talia's chin and kiss her hungrily on the mouth.

THE END

    

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