Categories > TV > Babylon 5 > B5/ST: Cold dish, served.

Interlude Earth pt. 1

by notBald 2 Reviews

The Earth Alliance can do nothing but prepare for the final hours of Earth.

Category: Babylon 5 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Other - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2006/09/16 - Updated: 2006/09/16 - 12070 words

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This chapter is more conformant to B5 canon//, and therefore conflict a little with the former chapters.

Interlude Earth pt. 1

Shai Alyt Sinoval entered the bridge of the ship with flagrant robes. Shai or not he led all his battles from here. He preferred the clean serene unbroken lines of his bridge over the dark starscape of the observation chamber.

He also felt more in touch with his crew here. His eyes flickered over his bridge officers, letting gaze rest shortly at their hands. He was pleased to see his chosen had cut their hands as expected of them. Had they not he would have asked them to leave.

As a follower of Nur he knew the importance of tranquility of soul. Sinoval took the center chair. /Even the greatest warrior grows complicit with ease/, he repeated in his head. It was Nur's teachings and with that in mind he took out his ceremonial knife and made a deep cut in his left hand.

No battle should be taken lightly, the cut served as a reminder of that.

Pain flared up his hand, but Sinoval welcomed it. Despite the status as the humans biggest colony the next battle would face nothing more than a token defense. In an act of cowardice and desperation the humans had shut down large parts of their network of jump beacons.

It was a wasted move. The Minbari had traversed hyperspace for a thousand years, and was only inconvenienced, while at the same time severely impeding the human's own fleet movements.

A ship defending a colony could not be redirected in defense of another colony, forcing the humans to pick and choose where to defend.

Sinoval stared down at his bleeding hand. The humans had obviously picked another colony or the homeworld. With the colony's proximity to Earth the humans must have feared it would be bypassed; understandable as the Minbari armada was advancing on a direct route for Earth.

Sinoval snapped out of his musings and gazed firmly forwards. In Dukhat's name all humans would die; he had himself sworn that oat.

"We move now, ready for jump."

-0-

PsiCore command
Earth

Though he had seen many awe inspiring sights in his carrier, Alfred Bester mussed, there was just something about the El Paso skyline that took his breath away. Tall buildings, not the glass covered kind of other cities, but with mate stone brown rose over the cityscape. Looking at it Bester felt a smidgen of respect for those that created it. /I must preserve an image for the dark days ahead/, he reminded himself. The everlasting cold darkness of space could drive even the most ardent soul up the walls.

A door slammed shut, and he put his current trail of thought on hold. Bester was not the most trusted of the telepaths in the higher echelons - he was after all a man of opinions and the drive to see them through - but there were few that could mach him in both skill and experience.

Alfred slipped his hand into his pocket and turned a small knob, this in turn told a small electronic device to filter out all sound coming from ahead, and amplify sounds originating from behind.

"Time is running short; our sources indicate that the Minbari might hit Earth any day now."

A self satisfied smirk crept up on Bester's lips at the clear speech in his ear. It both amazed and horrified him that telepaths could be so ignorant to all things mundane.

"Yes, we will have to move on soon. Why should we perish after all?"

/Because you have not taken the simplest of precautions, /Bester sniped in his head. He never cared for the sniveling brown nose the voice belonged to, and it disgusted him that Vallance had made it far up the ranks.

"I'm not leaving this rock," an old voice grouched, "Which is fine, as someone has to stay behind to keep up appearances."

Involuntarily, Bester inhaled a sharp breath of air. The old man had been an almost constant presence in his life; his passing would truly signify the end of an era.

He rested his eyes on the park laid out on the roof of the tall buildings just bellow. Lush green grass, walkways, fountains, trees and tall obelisk statues contrasted against the majestic brown gray domes on the roofs of the buildings surrounding it. There was a serene clam to the sight and Bester felt his inner turmoil recede.

The city had once served as the stepping stone for what would become humanities' first visit to the moon, and was now the city with the largest population of telepaths on Earth - or so the official records stated.

Sunlight suddenly filtered into his eyes as the bright afternoon sun peeked out from the city's tallest building. Bester shielded his eyes from the sudden sunlight, and let his gaze wander over to the choppers and flying transports livening up the El Paso sky.

"Yes, I'm sad to say so but a number of us will choose to stay behind. Now, how do we proceed?"

Bester quelled his musings.

"We Telepaths have long lived at the whims of the mundane." It was the raspy old voice of his former mentor. "And ... have worked towards changing that." Bester reached into his pocked and adjusted the dial of his amplifier. "The fall of the AllIANCE IS UNEXPECTED, BUT CHANGES LITTLE IN THE SCALE OF THINGS." He gritted his teeth as he adjusted the volume knob down a little. "But the Minbari may still turn back and I do not want to be caught with my pants down if that happens."

Existence without the mundane breathing down their neck was something all telepaths had dreamt of at one point or another. Even standing where he was, high up in the clouds, he could hear the ever present whispers.

"Yes, we can not go up against a coherent force of mundane, yet." Bester felt a sneer form at Vallance's self important voice. "But," there was a silent pause, "if the Minbari do proceed with their expected extermination of the mundane we can reap the whirlwind."

Bester rolled his eyes. In forty years Vallance and not changed a bit, he was still the sniveling little weasel he recalled from school, always ready to state the obvious and rat to the teachers at first opportunity.

"We have colonies, ships and equipment," said a raspy old female voice, 'the mother's' voice. "What we lack is warships, warships to defend those colonies. With that in mind I too believe this war can be twisted to our benefit."

"A pyrrhic benefit," the old man reminded them, "don't forget that." A self condensing smirk formed on Bester's lips, it was easy to forget the benefits the mundanes wrought. "But I agree. Draw up plans, and position our people."

Yet pyrrhic benefit or not, freedom from the mundanes and their silly dreams and thoughts was more than tempting. A part of Bester wanted for the Minbari to just get it over with.

"With that, my order on the matter is to wait and do nothing."

Bester's brows rose up and he heard someone ask confused, "Nothing?"

"Yes - nothing," the old telepath confirmed, "My eventual successor might be of a different opinion."

Bester's thoughts flew back to the old telepath's statement about staying behind. One some level he still resented the old man, and would not mourn his passing the slightest. In fact he felt excitement in his belly at the prospect of a future without by grouchy old men.

"BESTER!"

Bester again gritted his teeth as he scrambled for the volume dial. His crafty little spy device was actually a toy he picked up at Harrods, and was lacking a bit in finesse.

Oh well, time to face the music. He turned to the open door behind him. It amused him on some level how the world's most sophisticated anti-spy technologies was defeated by simply leaving the door open.

He scolded his features and walked with fast steps into the well furnished room. Five of the highest ranking PsiCore members sat near the room's center around a dark wooden table, with a fire roaring in the fireplace a short distance away.

"Good Bester, now tell us; what plans do the mundane hold for the scorched Earth eventuality?"

Bester hurried onwards, mentally going over his report. Lately he had spent quite a bit of time at Earth Dome, snapping up stray thoughts and conversing with contacts. With some creative interpretation he now had a good view of Earth Force future plans, even the project names to go with them.

Although only Holdings - a wasteful ploy to throw sand in the Minbari's face - had not recently been fleshed out on ISN.

-0-

Minbari Flagship, Valen'tha
2248 A.D.

Warleader Banmer stood staring out in the starscape. He was a man of many years and had seen many things. He wasn't truly of the warrior caste, but turned to that calling after learning of Dukhat's death at the hands of the humans.

The humans were a race that had recently entered the galactic scene. Arrogant and brash they had spread outwards, steeling whatever technology they could find and used that in the construction of thousands of warships.

Warships that the humans used to, among other things, wipe out the Dilgar. The war with the Dilgar was a war that a young race like the humans by all accounts should have lost, but the humans were not like other races.

Humans reveled in war. One glance on a human starship confirmed it. It was not built to impress, it was built for war and war alone.

Sickening, really.

No such race should be allowed to exist. The humans were a plague to the galaxy threatening to wipe out those that could not defend themselves, and even those that could might be overwhelmed by the shear size of the human armada.

Branmer had led the campaign for two years now and had a better understanding of human animal than most Minbari. In the face of certain annihilation any other race would have fled to the rim. But not humans, they stood their ground.

Commendable perhaps, but the humans did not fight with honor. No, the humans resorted to trickery and deceit; this was exemplified with the cowardly destruction of the flag ship, the Black Star, by use of a distress call.

While repulsed by this cowardly action, it did propel him into the position of Warleader, and thus giving him the opportunity to correct the deficiencies of the campaign.

Taking charge, he made sweeping changes across the front and instead of rooting out all human resistance they struck at key installations and moved on, a tactic that he had developed and called 'blitz strike'.

Now the homeworld of the humans was now only a jump away, in large part for them passing over much human territories, and with that his part of the campaign was nearing and end.

With the humans broken he would gladly step back and leave the rest to the various warrior clans. He was old and his wife was waiting for him on Minbar. He looked forward to seeing her again.

The air changed ever so slightly as another Minbari walked up beside him. Branmer made no moves to acknowledge his presence; instead he continued to look into the depth of the stars.

How long they stood like that Branmer did not know.

"I find that I can completely loose myself in the stars if I stare too long." The voice saying this was distinctly male.

"Stars tell stories of the past, honored Satai, they have looked down on us since our first breath."

"Indeed they have, and I'm sure they have many interesting stories to tell." The Satai paused. "Lately I've been hearing rumors."

"I'm sure you are referring to our misguided brethren."

The Satai gave a slow nod. "The Warrior castes have tolerated their antics for many a cycle now, but if they truly are in league with the humans I fear drastic steps have to be taken."

Branmer felt a sneer tug at his lips. "Minbari do not kill Minbari."

"Except when they do," the Satai refuted in a harsh manner. "I want evidence proving one or the other, see to it."

Branmer felt anger spark up. He dared to callously order him! But he perceived the underlying threat and controlled his temper. "You will have your evidence, Satai."

"Good," the Satai said and walked out, leaving Branmer staring into the stars.

-0-

Earth Dome
Geneva

The center of the Earth Alliance's authority was a truly massive structure. Built before the interstellar age the main building was a dome shaped marvel of concrete, steel and glass.

Truly a contender for the title of the world's foremost wonder, but little did that now matter to the people that now inhabited that dome.

The Minbari was coming.

In an office with a great view of the ocean fountain outside Earth Dome a viewscreen displayed images of civil unrest in New Venice. Images like that were now common all over Earth, and those in the government had long stopped paying them any heed.

"Madam President. The Minbari are making a large number of probing attacks, ranging from Venus to Pluto. We have dispatched a few fighter squadrons to contain them, but...."

The President sighed. "General. I understand. The Minbari will jump us any day now." She ran her hands through her head. "What we need is to buy as much time as possible."

Fontaine grunted.

"The Minbari will not stop at Earth, but we have to keep them here as long as possible."

Fontaine gave an exasperated snort. "We are reading every facility that might escape bombardment. Both above and bellow ocean and ground. But we do not know the effectiveness of Minbari orbital weapons."

"Will they use biological weapons?"

"Probably," Fontaine barked with ire. "It would be foolish to assume otherwise."

Levy stared down at her desk in consent.

"We will fight to our last breath." Fontaine said with conviction. "It will not be enough, and when we fall it all hinges luck." A weak smile lit up on his face, "project Holdings will help a little with that."

"Have you selected who will be behind Holdings?"

Fontaine gave a single nod. "Three of my best and most trusted men. They are being briefed as we speak."

"Even so, we can not count on them achieving anything," Levy said with regret.

Fontaine gave another grunt. He had sent more men and women to their deaths than he could count, he had long passed the point of feeling anything but regret.

Levy moistened her lips. "All we need is a little time. Time to prepare ships for the rim." She sighed. "It feels like I'm grasping at straws here. Will we make it? Can we hold the Minbari long enough?"

Fontaine made no move to reply. After the Line, Earth Alliance's forces would be down to capital ships counted in the low hundreds. Just enough to discourage nearby governments from striking at them, but that was no guarantee that they wouldn't anyway.

On the upside, they only needed to hold the Minbari and other races back long enough - long enough for a good number of explorer class ships to lead the way out for the rim.

Certainly not an impossible task.

-0-

Sinclair felt himself pushed back by light G forces as he boosted his Starfury forwards.

The Minbari had launched a large number of probing attacks into the system and command was beginning to fret. It was like the Minbari was saying 'we can attack whenever we feel like it, and we want you to know it.'

Not a message any human wanted to hear.

Worse, Proxima 3 and Beta Durani had already fallen. There was simply nothing holding the Minbari back. They could attack any time they pleased, whenever going directly to Earth or moving through the solar system.

Forces were kept on high alert, which might be the true purpose behind the Minbari's excessive probing. A force could not be constantly be held on high alert, and they were exhausting themselves by doing just that.

Never the less, command wanted him and his squadron out on patrol around the area of the moon. The moon was huge and Minbari could easily be hiding in the many blind spots around there.

Just as Sinclair swung around to the Moon's dark side a Minbari stared at huge screens showing a live feed of Earth, giving him a good view of the humans' defenses. The area around Earth was brimming with crude human warships, fighters, satellites and mines, and for the warrior spirit in Branmer it was truly a sight to behold.

Many a good warrior would look upon this view and think it a useless gesture, a last act of desperation - but Branmer saw it for what it was; at this moment in time Earth was one the most heavily defended planets in the quadrant.

Defenses within defenses, lines within lines, with no glaring weak spots and the ships kept on constant alert. However no defense could stand up to brute overwhelming force, truly overwhelming force, and that was the strategy Branmer had opted for.

Perhaps an obvious choice for the last stronghold of the enemy, but he doubted his generals would ever realize that. Attacking the homeworld with overwhelming numbers was a natural show of force to them; they did not see the necessity and strategy behind it.

During the course of the war Branmer had repeatedly been shocked by his fellow Minbari's reckless disrespect for the enemy. A human warship was ugly, but it was not to be taken lightly. It was easy to fall into the trap of thinking ascetics was analogous with power, especially since there was some truth to it.

Crude warships were usually a sign of a race that had recently ventured into space. As time progress races usually rounded out the hard lines on their ships, creating ships that the race could point proudly at to impress others.

Humans went naught for that. During their short reign in space humans had created numerous ship classes, all boxy and brimming with weapons. It was a rather unique trait of the humans, instead of smoothing over their existing proven designs they threw them out for new ones every thirty years or so.

It might be a result of their rather war like and confusing economic system. Warships was not constructed by the government, but instead purchased from fledging economic conclaves of sort. The conclaves could last for decades, or disappear within a year.

It was a waste of time and resources. Clearly the humans did not see the value of working for the common good, or the benefits of a well structured ordered society.

Nor would they ever.

A small smirk pulled at Branmer's lips at that thought. The humans would soon be hit with the most massive force ever wielded by the Minbari - in all history. The humans had more in numbers but they would still be out massed by an order of a magnitude.

It would be a short valiant battle, a commendable end of a savage yet proud race. It would also serve as a powerful message to the rest of the galaxy. The humans would pass into the history books, but they would not pass by forgotten.

More than that the humans had awoken his people to the fact that they were not invincible. That even the greatest of them could fall pray to a barbaric primitive race.

It was not a message anyone wanted to hear, but it served its purpose. Branmer expected sweeping changes in Minbari society as they restructured themselves to deal with the current reality. Other races were out there and ignorance towards them would only lead to misunderstandings and suffering.

Branmer turned away from the view of the humans' homeworld. It was high time to put this campaign to an end. The probing attacks had not yielded the result he wanted, and there was simply no point of wasting any more time looking for ghosts that simply wasn't there.

-0-

Triton Colony
Neptune's largest moon

Three men sat around a round table. They were all dressed as generals, and the all had grave expressions on their faces. The room itself was sparsely decorated, with gray walls, floors and ceilings.

The three men had just been given a task of utmost importance. Towards that end they had been given a small number of ships and the engineers, equipment and other necessities to keep them operational for quite a while.

The objective in its base form was actually quite simple - Time. Time for the exodus of mankind; even a day would help as ships were already heading for the rim - the only question was how many.

General Hague put both his elbows on the gray table and leaned on it with his full weight - which was about eight kilograms at the moment.

"The Minbari will hit Earth any day now, what happens after that we can only speculate."

Another General, Trevor Hall, tapped absently on the table while staring intently into the air. He was fiercely loyal to Earth and the Alliance, and was a man capable of firing on fleeing civilians if the need arose. "In practice we are no longer part of the Earth alliance," he stated calmly, hiding his inner turmoil, "It is a new line of thinking to me, as we're now minor league admirals. We can move freely, and position our ship any way we see fit."

"Yes," McFay agreed with a low whisper, "yes," he said again as he straightened his back. "We are not fighting for a military victory, and not anchored down by colonies in need of defense. Our sole purpose is to be enough of a pest for the Minbari to bother with us."

Hague stared with hard eyes out in the room. "We need to be more than a pest I'm afraid; we need to be an outright distraction."

The room fell into silent contemplating.

"The first thing we should do," McFay said with a thoughtful mumble, "is like command said - establish ourselves behind enemy lines." He nodded to himself. "If we can hit supply ships carrying ordinance to the front I believe the Minbari will think us enough of a bother."

"There is no guarantee of that, but I do hope so," Hall said as he rubbed tiredness out of his eyes, "but we will have to time it right, and that will not be easy."

"Timing is everything in war," Hauge said with a slight smirk, "but in this case we have an advantage."

Hall and McFay gave Hauge their full attention.

"Sol," Hauge said as it explained everything. Seeing confused expressions he clarified, "Sol is a critical point of the Minbari's campaign; we should therefore be able to form a crude picture of the future direction of said campaign by observing the Minbari here."

Hall gave a fevered grin "That is something to grasp on to."

A glint lit up in McFay's eyes. Sol was a deep seethed system and the Minbari could not possibly clear it all out with a single strike. Hauge was right. They would be able to gather useful information from the Minbari's comings and goings in Sol.

"With patience and attentive eyes and ears we might just find the right time and place to strike." Hauge's voice was barely above a whisper. "However, keep in mind that Earth Force will continue the fight regardless of what we do; it would be pointless to attempt something they can do better."

The other two grunted their agreement.

"But moving beyond enemy lines forces us to forgo the luxury of reliable lines of communications." Hauge leaned back with a grave contemplating expression on his face. "We will need to make use of curriers; less a Minbari listening post ruins everything for us."

"As I said, we will have to conform to a different way of thinking." Hall rubbed his hands together. "We're a small autonomous force ready to throw ourselves at the enemy." He smiled as a glint lit up in his eyes. "I believe they named the operation Holdings because we can hold on to ourselves."

Hauge inclined his head, "Probably."

Hall continued. "Obviously the Minbari expects attacks from the front; attacks from scattered groups behind their lines will not give them much pause either." Hall rubbed his chin "If we could make our attacks seem as a stepping stone to something more - a prelude to a larger offensive."

McFay nodded his head. "Yes, distracting the Minbari will not be easy. Sadly time is of the essence so here is what I suggest we do for now..."

The other two bent forwards, and soon they were in a heated discussion that lasted long into the night. When all was said and done they moved out with their small fleet, heading directly for the extended boarders of Minbari's territory.

-0-

Iril'Ri' Del - Ship of the gray council

Branmer had decided to make his report in person, a sign of respect, but it did mean he had to go through time consuming rituals and other annoyances. Many considered it an honor to see the insides of the Iril'Ri' Del, but Branmer had gone through the ordeal enough times to last him for life.

He did, of course, not display any of this outwardly, and patiently followed a white robed woman carrying a set of jingling bells. A long maze of corridors was ahead of him, but fortune was with him this day as he spotted Coplann and Moran moving down the corridor talking in low whispers.

"Satai Coplann," he uttered in a most respectful manner, while straitening his back.

Except for a flicker in his eyes Coplann did not seem the least surprised. "Warleader Branmer. Walk with us."

Branmer gave a sharp nod. "Satai, I have looked into the issue you brought to my attention, but even our best telepaths have not found any indications of cooperation, they do not even know of our brethren's existence."

"I see," Coplann said with ire.

"What issues are you referring to?" Moran asked.

Coplann cleared his throat, "the rumors surrounding the misguided, that they've allied with the humans."

Moran snorted. "They are indeed striding from the path set down by Valen, but even they have not deviated so far as to work with outsiders."

"Don't be so sure Moran. The Dark Knives may wish to use the humans towards some end."

Moran gave a disgruntled grunt.

"With all respects," Branmer said, "I believe we have delayed this operation long enough. We're looking for something that might simply not be there. Perhaps the human ship was what it appeared - a scout ship lucky enough to make it deep into our territories."

Coplann narrowed his eyes, but did not protest.

Branmer's eyes wrinkled. "The Dark Knives are not ones to pass over an opportunity to attack, and the broken down spy ship provided that." He took a deep breath. "Our forces have waited patiently for three days now; it is time to end this."

"Yes," Moran agreed, "we have given the humans more than enough time to make their peace with the universe."

"Very well," Coplann agreed in a conceding tone. "Give our forces the signal to move, I will personally adjourn the council to make up for lost time."

"Thank you." Branmer put his hands to his chest and gave a slight bow. "I will see to my duties."

Coplann stared impassively at Branmer's receding back. "I fear the Knives veering out of control, and that would reflect badly on the warrior caste."

"True," Moran agreed, "but the Dark Knives know our tolerance of them only stretch so far."

Coplann turned around with robes billowing. "Do not presume to understand them." His voice had a warning quality that seemed to echo around the room as Coplann strode away. "They believe they are doing what is best for our society. See the logical fallacy of that?"

Moran narrowed his eyes. Every generation there would be some that failed to fit in. That was how it had always been, whenever they called themselves Dark Knives or otherwise. If there was no place for such people to go Moran feared society would fracture.

With a sneer on his lips Moran hurried on his way.

-0-

Earth Orbit
The 14th of February
2248 A.D.

Ever since their first encounter with alien life, Earth Force had viewed an attack on Earth as a sort if nightmare scenario that they simply had to be ready for.

Ground facilities, satellites and space stations were built, mines littered over areas that Earth Force didn't want the enemy to jump in. Defense plans and Counter Defense plans drawn up, and finally people trained to handle any conceivable eventuality.

All that was now working together to support a fleet of twenty thousand ships and fighters, including almost two thousand capital ships and three thousand ships of civilian design.

It was the largest fleet ever assembled in known history. Perhaps it was folly but many harbored the hope that the enemy coming for them would be discouraged from charging such a concentration of force.

Sadly for them the enemy had responded by assembling the most massive fleet in their history, and was right now waiting in hyperspace right outside Earth.

"It is time, tell the others to jump."

-0-

Alyt Aalann was sitting calmly in the center chair of a spacious command bridge, observing the hundreds of proud Minbari warships surrounding his.

The most prominent and eye-catching ships were the mighty Shagotis and Sharlins dwarfing the ships around them. Aalann found it humbling to think anything could dwarf a Tigara, which itself dwarfed the still huge Tinashis.

Just looking at the ships, knowing how big they really were, gave him a feeling of invulnerability. He had never laid eyes on fleet as massive as this, and he wasn't sure anyone else had either.

"The Shai Alyt has given the order to jump," the Venn Rii reported.

The title of Shai Alyt was the highest rank a Minbari warrior could attain, and was the person tasked with coordinating the entire fleet. As an Alyt Aalann had responsibility for not only his own ship but, in his case, a number of Tigaras and Tinashis as well.

With the order to jump given Aalann could already see the more eager ships lurching forwards. It was a powerful sight; one that made Aalann doubt anything could stand up to the might of the Minbari Federation. He could almost feel the suction as the numerous huge vessels accelerated towards Earth.

"Power weapons, open all gunports and prepare for jump."

Aalann could barely hide the eager trepidation from his voice. He had reviewed the human defenses and knew a fleet matching theirs in numbers was waiting for them on the other side. Human prowess in battle was a common joke among the warriors - a joke Aalann found as amusing as them. But he would be a fool to take a fleet counting twenty thousand starships lightly.

He was satisfied to see the ships under his command form up in a wedge formation, with fighters trailing close behind. Further ahead he could see the glow of jump vortexes forming, and he knew the battle was under way.

"Jump on my mark." Aalann glanced over at a tactical console. He had no desire to jump in on top of friendly ship. "Now jump."

Seconds later, huge spinning vortexes of light formed dead in front of his fleet. Before the vortex fully formed Aalann was pleased to see the fighters accelerate up, timed just right for transition parallel to his capital vessels.

The swirling vortexes were soon replaced with the dull blackness of real space. Aalann could see a blue planet in the distance, and he knew he was looking on the human's homeworld - Earth. Not far from his ships he could see small explosions signaling the death of human fighters, missiles and mines.

Aalann was surprised to see numerous human designs unfamiliar to him, and concluded they had to be older human designs drafted into service for just this battle.

No matter. It only took seconds for Aalann to analyze the humans' defensive lines, partly thanks to reviewing them before hand, and think out how to proceed. The humans had clearly not expected to defend against an attack of this magnitude and was now suffering heavy for it.

"Concentrate our fire at the human ships of the line, tell the Tigaras to move ahead and scatter that cruiser formation, and have the Tinashis destroy human corvettes and fighters."

Had this been a more traditional battle Aalann's orders would have been reckless at best, but the humans was clearly of balance while his forces was in perfect formation.

Human starships fired wildly at anything Minbari, with little or no success. The Minbari formation swooped into the disorganized human lines, carving up human ships left and right.

Deadly green beams shot out from the warships under Aalann's command, digging deeply into various human vessels. The fighters shot down human missiles and mines with ease, while human fighters were callously battered down by wave after wave of electro plasma bolts from lesser warships.

Aalann observed with pride as his formations smashed through the human lines with callus ease, leaving the human ships they passed to the forces coming up behind.

His pride soon turned to anger as one of the Tigaras veered of course, chasing a human straggler. With a deep set sneer Aalann barked, "Tell that fool Hacka to hold /formation/!"

The last thing he needed was for his forces to become as disorganized as the humans'.

-0-

Earthdome
Geneva

The battle had by now only lasted minutes.

Clark stared with rage at the tactical display. Precious warships were dying by the minute, and doing precious little to slow the Minbari advance.

Not wasting any time he hurried out of the Command bunker.

He had known this would happen, and thought it pointless to throw irreplaceable warships at the enemy just so that a scanty few civilian transports could escape. Pure madness.

His superiors had foolishly thought the 'Line' would hold back the Minbari, perhaps even discourage them from attacking.

Unsurprisingly the Minbari had simply sent a force so large that they could attack the entire line - center, point and flanks - at once. Ships on the line didn't even get to fire before finding themselves under attack, and when they did get to fire they missed entirely.

Fortunately he had planned for this eventuality. With Earth under attack no one even spared him a glance, meaning he and his collaborators could move freely.

Like him, they agreed that Earth Force - under its current management - was going to break themselves defending useless colonies from Minbari incursions. They foolishly thought they were buying time for 'the exodus', when in actuality they were making the Minbari's job easier.

"The exodus, pah!" Clark exclaimed with a sneer as the doors to the command center slammed shut behind him. The exodus was better termed 'the exile', as exodus at least indicated a bright spot in the future.

The rim was an area of space where gate coverage was poor, worlds underdeveloped and for most only held promise for an eternal hunt for the next scrap of food. Hardly a promising existence for humanity in any case, and not a future he felt any desire for himself.

No, it was high time to take command before Earth Force ran itself into the ground - and towards that end he had made sure the shuttle intended for the evacuation of Earth Force command and the president would suffer a slight failure.

It was quite ingenuous really. He had simply uploaded a virus that would scramble some of the computers on the ship. 'Simply' was perhaps not the right word as he was sure a lot of effort went into the creation of the virus, but the end result was a shuttle dead on the ground and - knowing the president - no time to do anything about it.

Clark grinned at the mental image of the bitch when the shuttle died around her. It served her right, and after that Earth Force would fall in his hands... well not exactly his hands, but all in good time.

Clark wiped away a little sweat as he hurried into a ground car. He mentally went over his plan again; it was after all possible that the Minbari had a change of heart - in which case he would need plausible deniability. The shuttle shutdown, for instance, was just a maintenance glitch - he had even altered the logs to indicate that.

He stared out of the car's window and into the clouds. He half expected to see flashing lights and green beams raining down on him and felt a cold chill run down his back. He recalled from the tactical display that the Minbari was coming faster than even he anticipated.

He would have to hurry.

-0-

Moon
Ptolemaeus Crater

She once had a childhood. Not the happiest of childhoods, but she still had her mother, father and older brother. It was her family, her life, those she cared for and trusted.

Her mother used to tell her wonderful stories that sparked the imagination. Tales of far away worlds, filled with courageous heroes that made sure the villain got his in the end. She believed in those stories back then.

Then they took here. Not all at once, but one little bit at a time. She had been there watching, powerless to stop it. They came, they took and they left. Leaving a husk behind.

Tragic as it was, it gave her a dose of reality, showed her that there was no such thing as fairy tales in real life.

It was a depressing lesson, but her brother had stepped up to the plate and made her happy again. He took her on adventures, showed her the wonderful world. With him she had seen, deep forest, tall mountains, and sparkling lakes. The pain still lingered, but life still held wonder and was good again.

Then he left for the war. She wanted to stop it, demanded it even, and at his refusal she did the only thing she could do.

Go after him.

Her father had not approved. Not that it mattered, her brother was now beyond her and she had doubts she would ever have the opportunity to argue with her father again.

Her heart filled with a strange sort of regret, and she felt the old acing pain so deep within her flare ever so slowly up. It made her wonder why she even bothered to go on.

"...the Line is all but gone! The..."

Her mind snapped out of its sorrow and she suddenly felt a sense of clarity. She had a purpose here! She was here to see to it that as many civilians were evacuated as possible! While just an ensign, did not mean she could shrike on her duties.

"Ensign, what are you still doing here? Go help with the loading of supplies."

She looked up to see her commander. He looked haggard, unshaved and his uniform was in disorder. It puzzled her. Her commander was always pertinent about how he appeared to others.

"Commander," she said with respect, "the shuttles only need to be refueled."

The commander's eyes flashed, but there was also something more. Malice - just beneath the surface. She had noted it, she sometimes did, it scared her. If they noticed they would take her, bit by bit if needed be. She had to disregard it, suppress it.

"Do as ordered!"

Now it was anger... and despair? No, it was not for her to know. She pushed those thoughts to the deepest recesses of her mind. "Yes sir." Her voice was robotic, not in the respectful tone she intended. She scolded herself for her weakness; she was stronger than this.

Putting on a happy mask she turned to the loading bay.

-0-

Earth Dome
Geneva

Lefcourt and Funtain stared horrified at the large tactical display of Earth. It was their worst case scenario come true. Their lines was broken up before they could even form, making it clear that none of the defensive plans they had prepared would ever have the opportunity to come to fruition.

"Lefcourt."

Lefcourt gave a small huff, as if watching something that wasn't real, and turned from the tactical display.

"Take the president and whatever people that can be spared, and go. The outcome of this little trifle has already been decided."

Lefcourt shook his head. "I was always the better tactician."

Funtain's eyes flashed and for a moment it looked like he would protest.

At Funtain's silence a small smile crept up on Lefcourt's lips. He held out his hand. "It has been a pleasure, sir."

"Agreed," Funtain said with tired regret and grabbed his hand, "until next time."

Lefcourt drew an unsteady breath "Until next time, yes."

Funtain let go of Lefcourt's hand and took a quick look around the command center - as if seeing it for the first time. "Just make sure they bleed on their way here."

Lefcourt turned back to display, "and you make sure they bleed afterwards."

Just as this happened an event that should have proven historically significant occurred above the clouds, but only served to give Clark and his colleagues the lull they needed to escape with their shuttle.

"That one."

Powerful graviton beams laced out into space and grabbed on to a struggling fighter.

"I'll see to the interrogation."

-0-

Moon
Ptolemaeus Crater

With every crate she put in the transport, she felt ever so more reluctant to continue. The transports were meant to carry people, not stuff. This was simply not right, and she knew it.

But then, the world wasn't right.

Yet, perhaps it was all a misunderstanding. She was only an ensign, so she had to give the Commander the benefit of the doubt.

"Major," she said to a man carrying a large crate towards a shuttle, "why are we doing this? The Minbari are here, so we will not be able to come back for anyone left behind."

"That's exactly why we're doing this," the major casually replied, "we can't come back for any/thing/ left behind."

Her eyes narrowed into thin slits. Do to others what you want others to do to yourself, her father had taught her. She felt no desire for anyone to maul her over the floor, so she clamped down on her anger and turned to the door.

"I need to see the Commander."

Her voice was again placid and uncaring. She wondered what that was about.

-0-

Earth Dome
Geneva

In Earth Force command Lefcourt was notified that the Minbari sensor echoes was on the move again. The 'Line' had been but a memory for an hour now, but the Minbari had not rushed Earth as he expected.

The most exciting thing that had happened was a group of shuttles fleeing past the moon. The Minbari had not shown any interest for them, and Lefcourt had allowed himself to hope that the Minbari might, just might, accept their plea of surrender.

That hope had just popped, and Lefcourt knew what came next. The Minbari was lining up for orbital bombardment. It was an unreal sight and had he not run this scenario several times through simulation he would have continued to stare at it in abject horror.

"I want all missile batteries, on Earth and the Moon, to open fire as soon as the Minbari mass drivers enter the upper atmosphere."

Ground based missiles were not much use against starships. To break the atmosphere they had to be large, and environmental concerns prevented them from carrying nuclear payloads.

The missiles original purpose was to take out stellar fragments, although they were also able to take out drop ships.

Lefcourt was unsure how effective missiles would be against mass drivers, but the missiles from the Moon should at the very least provide a nice little distraction.

Pointless in the scale of things, but Lefcourt would fight back with everything he had - until he had nothing.

As he had sworn.

-0-

Moon
Ptolemaeus Crater

The fast walk had taken over twenty minutes, but she was now at the entrance to the command bunker. With simmering rage she stepped brashly through the door.

The first thing that met here was a bright flash.

Her commander was standing there with a shocked expression. He was steering down at a terminal with clearly disbelieving eyes.

The Minbari just surrendered!


The exclamation shocked her just as much as it shocked her commander, and she snapped back to reality. What was that? Labeling the question unimportant she pushed the entire matter to the back of her mind and stepped fully into the command center.

Like in the vision he was steering down at a terminal, but with an expression of irate anger.

"We're not firing any missiles. That will just draw the boneheads' ire to us."

She glanced at the tactical display and saw the Minbari moving away from the Moon and towards Earth. "Commander," her voice was loud but still lacking in emotion, "the Minbari will come here and when that happens, we will die anyway." She narrowed her eyes. "Our first priority is the safely send away as many civilians as possible."

A wave of self-loathing hatred hit her with such force it almost overwhelmed her. As always she disregarded the incident from thought and memory.

"Ensign." The Commander's voice of a man truly angered. "It's you again! Did I not give you an order?"

The words caught in her throat and she felt a spark of panic. Her father's face flashed through her mind and she scolded her features. "You gave me an illegal order, those transports are intended to ferry civilians to safety." There she said it, she felt mentally exhausted yet relieved.

"Don't be foolish woman. We need to grab as much gear and go. It's in greater need than colonists."

The Commander's exclamation struck her like a sledgehammer, forcing her to take a mental step backwards. She had suspected it but at his open admission, now she knew - now she knew that he was a traitor.

She felt no hatred and ill will towards him. Perhaps because his argument made sense on some level? She didn't know. What she did know was that he was a traitor and she was not.

Not putting any more thought in the matter she took stock of the room. Various computer terminals and displays littered the curved walls. There were five other people situated at workstations along the walls, with the Commander standing in the room's bottom, and her at the top of a small staircase.

She noted the Commander had a PPC strapped to his waist, whereas she was unarmed. The other people in the room showed no trace of surprise at the Commander's statement. Hand picked perhaps? In any case she did not expect help from them.

The Commander's hand jerked towards the PPC. It could only mean that he had come to some decision, and that the time to act was now.

Cover. She needed cover. She had never been in a fire fight before, but without some form of cover she knew she was sure to loose. She could turn around and run for the door, but that would leave her back exposed for long enough to the Commander to get off a shot.

She made her decision.

"I can't let...."

Before the Commander could fully raise his PPG or finish the sentence she ducked behind the nearest workstation. "You're a traitor to Earth." Her voice was accusing, but otherwise cold and emotionless.

She somehow instantly knew that she had gotten to him. She had been right in stressing her voice a little, giving him the impression that she accused him.

"Stop her!" The Commander's voice was lazed with anger and frustration, but she somehow knew that only the frustration was directed towards her.

Wait, it was that ability again. She suppressed it. Banished it from her mind.

Suddenly pain flared up in her back and she was knocked down to her stomach.

She instantly knew what had happened. There were other people in the room, and she had failed to account for them. So this his how it ended? Killed by one of her own and not the Minbari? She should have known this the moment she stepped foot into space. It was a very Russian ending.

But....

A PPG bolt in the back should have been the death of her, but she was definitely still thinking. /Low power setting perhaps? /Not sure why, but she willed herself to cheese breathing and lay absolutely still. It was difficult with the pain, but she was familiar with pain and what she felt now was a lesser form.

In her still state she felt shock. No it was the Commander that felt shock, then doubt only to be replaced with new resolve.

"Get back to work!"

Not caring for the consequences, not caring if anyone picked up on her thoughts she let her mind churned on what she just felt.

The Commander first felt shock; perhaps shock that his subordinate shot her dead instead of restraining her through other means. Then there was doubt; doubt that he had done the right thing.

A common human reaction.

He had then reasoned with himself, convinced himself that he did the right thing, and his doubt had been replaced with new resolve.

Proud of her detection she continued to lay absolutely still, barley taking breaths. To her puzzlement the Commander did not ordered for her body to be removed, not even for anyone to check if she truly was dead.

Perhaps he still felt some regret for what he did? Or had he forgotten all about her? It was possible that he suppressed her from his mind, not wanting to face up to the facts of his action? Sometimes it was easier just to forget.

She knew that all too well.

Blood pimpled from her wound, and ran in a tiny river to the floor. It meant that the wound had not burned close, meaning that she would bleed to death.

Was that such a bad thing? What did she have to live for? No family, no friends and the Minbari ruining her future. It was not much of a future to look forwards to, so what if she died on the floor?

Felling a little exhausted she closed her eyes, smile on her lips, but continued to lie absolutely still.

-0-

Ship of the Gray council

Onboard the Iril'Ri'Del Coplann stood in the observation chamber. He was overlooking the humans' homeworld - Earth. It was far from the dirt colored planet he had expected, instead a lush bluish planet covered in mostly ocean.

No matter, it was time. He took a deep breath. "Fellow warriors, friends and comrades, we have finally come to the end of our long campaign." He spoke in a load and clear voice, and the room filled with faces of various Minbari commanders. "Before you are the home-world of the /humans/, the enemy we have fought for three years now. Many of you are wary of battle and are anxious to return home to your wives, husbands and families."

He turned around in the circular room and stared into the eyes the other Gray council members there. He noted that Delenn was not present. "Dukhat's death at the hands of these humans will be avenged, but first I ask that we take a moment to contemplate this war and remember those who aren't here today."

They all closed their eyes and tilted their heads downward for about a minute.

Coplann opened his eyes and stared at Earth. Seconds passed and he drew a sharp breath. With a voice just above a whisper he then ordered, "Commence orbital bombardment. Urban areas and industry is to be targeted first."

Soon asteroids ferried all the way from Minbar, among other places, were accelerated by the mighty angelfish formed warships straight towards the blue planet.

This was just the first of many waves, but the asteroids for the preceding waves would have to be found in the system.

President Levy was one of the first informed of the Minbari bombardment. She had expected it, but still found it a sock to the system. Time was up, and there was nothing to be done about that.

All her planning and all her preparations would now have to run their course without her. Perhaps it was for the best, it was in large part her fault that things had come to this. It was her that insisted on aggressive expansive policies, and pushed for increased trade with aliens.

In her defense, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

"Madam President. The Minbari has surrounded the planet; cutting our route of escape."

Levy did not need to be told; she had known this the moment the transport broke down. "We underestimated them, or overestimated us - again."

"No one could have know the Line would falter that fast."

Levy closed her tired eyes. "We should have expected it." She snorted to herself. "It never felt right leaving behind billions, anyway, now I can perish with them."

"The engineers have almost sorted out the problem. We'll head for Ellemere and wait out the bombardment there."

Levy had to smile at the though of an existence under water. In preparation of the ever impending World War the Centauri finally derailed, huge bases had been constructed under water.

Built for war, there was a possibility they would survive the bombardment. Levy did not believe that, but she would gladly be proven wrong.

-0-

Moon
Ptolemaeus Crater

Still on the floor she bit back a groan as the pain in her tormented her. On the upside the Commander was feeling stressed, so was the other people in the room, so they did not pay attention to her loosing struggle on the floor.

Wait, how did she know that? How did she know they were stressed when she was bleeding to death on the floor? She could not see them, and her mind was too clouded to listen to what they said.

Yet she knew, and that was wrong.

"That's it. The Minbari are bombarding Earth. Command wants us to fire all long range missile batteries."

Wrong? What was wrong? Her petty struggles? No. The Minbari was bombing Earth. Her father was on Earth.

Her father.

Her only living relative.

Her mother and brother were dead, her father would soon follow and she would not be far behind. Her family, she loved them all, had been torn all apart and was soon nothing but a memory.

Her memory.

Wait. Her memory would soon fade into nothingness. Her family would soon fade into nothingness.

That was wrong.

She wanted to scream; trash the entire room. It was not fair, her family deserved better than that! But if she screamed, let her frustration out on this world, she would be killed.

Yet she was dying.

What was she doing on the floor again? Had she so thoroughly forgotten why she joined Earth Force? She wanted to bring back her brother, but it was more than that. She was a fighter! She was not like her mother; willing to let bastards bleed her to nothingness!

She was the last of her family!

Her eyes snapped open and all worry, thoughts and pain cleared from her mind. Unperturbed she opened her senses - all her senses - it was no longer about her. They no longer mattered.

Somehow she knew there were five people in the room. They were all in a state of high concentration and stress. She tilted her head upwards and saw one man working not that far in front of her. The one that shot her was behind her, but that person was working on a terminal - which meant she was not looking at her right now.

That meant he or she would have to turn to do anything.

The same was true for the one in front of her, but if he was to fire he was sure to hit. She knew that with absolute certainty and that made him a high threat.

Coming to a decision and unconcerned for her own ultimate fate she sprung up with animalistic grace. The man did not notice her, but somehow she knew someone in the room had.

"Hey!"

Feeling nothing for the man she let her fist fly into the man's face. He had partly turned around, just enough for her fist to hit him over the left eye and send his head reeling backwards.

The man was momentarily dazzled, and she grabbed the man's PPG of his hip. Unlike weapons of old PPG were usually keyed to the owner's biometrics; that made the man's PPG about as useful to her as a toy gun.

"Kill her!"

Not giving the man an opportunity to grab her she kneed him in the groin with all her strength, causing him to screamed out in pain. Unperturbed she grabbed the man by the throat and used her strength to fling the man around her - something only made possible by the moon's low gravity.

One of the others, a woman, had already drawn a PPG and fired. She must have forgotten about the moon's gravity, judging by her shocked expression when the bolt hit the man instead.

"Shit!"

Feeling no sympathy she grabbed the man's right hand and manipulated it around the PPG. She fired blindly at the woman, and hit her straight in the face. The sight of the woman's face blown of almost had her reach, but the fact that this was the same woman that had shot her helped her push it from her mind.

"Take cover!"

Idiots! She thought as the three men in the room threw themselves behind the nearest console. It left her route of escape wide open, and knowing she would fare poorly in a firefight she took it.

She ran through the door, and down through the corridor. Taking stock of the situation she concluded that her first priority was to have her wound dressed. She would not last long otherwise.

She was the last of her family.

And that was the drive she needed to go on.

-0-

Mars
Thira dome

A door slammed.

Garibaldi groaned at the sound it made, and knocked down an open bottle as he rolled to the side.

"Michael! The Minbari are attacking Earth!"

Garibaldi groaned loudly from the shrill voice attacking his ears.

"Garibaldi!"

Garibaldi felt the world rock back and forwards as two hands grabbed on to him. "Invite them over later, not right now."



Pain exploded in his chin, spurring him to open his bleary eyes and stare at the blurry view of a woman. "What did ... that for?"

"I said the Minbari are attacking Earth!"

"Good for them." Garibaldi drooled as he said that, and tried to turn over on the side again. "Just five more minu...."

"NO YOU DON'T!"

Garibaldi felt himself be lifted up. The woman was strong; he had to grant her that, or was it because of the low gravity?

"You are not going to lay her dead drunk while the Minbari are attacking Earth."

"The Minbari are attacking Earth?" Garibaldi slurred as he rubbed his pulsating temples. "I need a drink."

"Sorry Michael, we have to leave some for the rest of Mars. Now come with me."

Despite his best effort to the contrary Garibaldi was subsequently pulled out of his dank apartment; he would have preferred to be shot out in cold space. And who was the woman anyway, he could not quite place her face and it hurt to think.

-0-

Moon
Ptolemaeus Crater

Another corridor passed by with no alarm klaxons wailing. The Commander had obviously not activated them and that could only mean one thing; that the Commander did not have the entire base backing him.

Something which improved her chance of survival immensely.

She felt another person approach up ahead, and she plastered herself into an alcove. The other two people that passed her had been looking for something, probably her, but this one was frustrated and confused.

Even so, chances were that he was in league with the Commander, but with her head lightening from blood loss she knew that she would not last long anyway.

Scolding her features into that of a scared woman she stepped out of her alcove, scaring the man, and stared at him with absolute terror and fright.

"What happened?" The man's voice was full of concerns - a good sign - and as he hurried up to her.

"Are you one of /them/!" She said with fear - managed to break her voice up just right to make her fear seem genuine. All her life she had hid her true emotions, and she had little trouble easing herself into her current role.

Yes, it was an act for she did not truly feel anything.

"Them? Who are they?" The man grabbed her around the waste, "My god you've been shot! Who did this!"

Now came the important part. When one wanted to convince someone of something incredulous, it was best to let them draw their own conclusions. "He /shot them/!" A perfectly timed tear leaked out of her eye. "I ran away! I didn't have a gun!"

"Calm down," the man said as he led her towards the infirmary. "Who shot who?"

"The Commander," she choked out, "they said something about cargo on the transports and he shot them!"

"I see." The man's features hardened and she felt riotous anger emanating from him. "I'm sorry but we have little time, I will have to carry you."

He lifted her into his arms and ran down the gray dull corridor.

-0-

Mars orbit

In a slowly rotating conference room sat twelve of the riches most powerful humans out of Earth - alive. On the room's walls there was several huge viewscreens; all showing a direct feed from Earth.

The mood in the room was sullen, no doubt from the display of huge Minbari warships launching asteroids towards the blue planet bellow.

William Edgar gazed over the people present. Like him, they all controlled vast recourses outside of Earth, and together he was convinced they could be a force to be reckoned with.

"Corporations of humanity."

A few snorted at Edgar's exclamation.

"I believe we just witnessed the end of an area. Earth is no more, and with that the Earth Alliance is no more." He glanced at a man from the Belt Alliance. "Now where do we go from here? The rim? No, I think we all have evaluated that option. Gates far between, hazardous navigation and hostile aliens do not hold much promise of anything. "

"You have no idea," a fat man with IPX printed on his shirt stated.

"Fighting the Minbari is hopeless." Edgar pointed at a monitor. "I think we all can agree with that."

Chuckles lazed with despair echoed in the room.

"But the Minbari can't be everywhere, and we all sit on both industry and trading partners. If we consolidate our recourses, we can create a small safe whole for us and our futures. I asked you all here to say, let's put aside our past differences and work together. Together I believe we can do what needs to be done."

Edgar was relived to see agreeing faces all over the room.

-0-

Moon
Ptolemaeus Crater

With her back still hurting she got inside the old stellar transport. It had been quite a firefight to secure it, with several civilians and loyal personnel perishing against the Commander and his ilk.

It was a bitter sweat victory with the Commander fleeing, leaving only the oldest transports behind.

The man that had helped her, Sinclair she learned his name was, sat down behind the transport's controls. "Here we go, hand on to your seat."

"Everyone grab on to something!" She called down the hatch to the cockpit and sat down next to Sinclair.

The transport blasted off, and soon they were surrounded by the darkness of space. A cold space littered with metallic fragments and burned out hulls.

"I should have been out there," Sinclair said with a tired voice, "at the Line I mean. Drifting among my squad mates."

"Why aren't you," she asked carefully. She needed him to pilot the shuttle, not get all depressed.

"An upset stomach," he replied with hollow mirth.

She smiled at Sinclair's feeble attempt at humor. He was dealing with the situation, now she could sleep.

Seconds later Sinclair heard rhythmic breathing from the brown haired woman beside him. She was asleep, leaving him alone to wonder what the future would hold.

-0-

Minbari Flagship, Valen'tha
Exactly eleven Earth days later

Windsword representative Aalann calmly folded his hands as he regarded to other representatives present.

Throughout history the Minbari Federation had found themselves attacked by upstart younger races. The humans were just the last in a string of such occurrences, although it was the one that had sparked the most brutal response.

If the war with the humans had not happened Aalann suspected some other race would have ignited the Minbari's anger instead.

The problem was the upstart races did not harbor enough respect for the Minbari. Attack the Minbari and the worst they received was a painful slap to the wrists.

The first time the Minbari had evicted vengeance on an upstart aggressor it had served as an effective show of force. Weakened, the Garmack Empire had quickly been swallowed up by one of the other upstarts - making it clear to the universe that seeking conflict with the Minbari was unwise.

The Garmack Empire was now - hundreds of years later - just an echo in distant memories, and upstarts like the Earth Alliance, Streib and others paid little heed to ancient history.

The problem, Aalann mussed, was that they had failed to sufficiently impress Minbari resolve onto these younger races. Stories of some ancient race that trifled with the Minbari and was gobbled up by an empire now in decline simply did not get the point across.

Aalann drew breath into his lungs. "The Earth needs to be utterly decimated, so that it can serve as a harsh reminder to all younger races out there." Aalann's voice was dry but full of conviction.

Warleader Branmer, a highly respected Minbari figure, cleared his throat. "I was honestly surprised by the humans' ability to divert our mass drivers, but their defenses have now been overwhelmed and the Earth will be laid to waste on the coming months."

"Should we not deploy similar defensive measures on our homeworld?" asked a religious representative.

A number of warriors, Aalann included, chuckled.

"What use is there to develop weapons that can only be used when the battle is lost?" Branmer refuted.

With that out of the way Aalann again raised his voice. "I mean no disrespect, Warleader, but a two month bombardment is not sufficient. There will still be humans in underground facilities, at the very least, and humans from all over their territories will return to rebuild."

"We can not stay here too long," Branmer claimed, "we need to go back and eviscerate the human colonies and outposts we glossed over in our haste to get here."

Aalann had to concede the point to Branmer. If the human colonies were left alone they would become more troublesome to deal with later. "This is no mere colony, honored Warleader, but their homeworld. Destroy their homeworld and the rest will follow.

"It is true," a female voice said with power to her voice. Silence befell the room as they realized one of the Gray was speaking. "That the homeworld will serve as a rallying point if left in human hands."

"Perhaps," Branmer agreed with a voice that clearly was of a man that thought otherwise. "What do you propose?"

"Since the Windswords brought the matter up, why not have the Windswords deal with the matter as they see fit?"

Aalann held back a sneer. With a few calculations in his head he concluded that cleansing the battered human homeworld was well within the bounds of a relatively small well supplied force, he sneer slowly turned into a smirk as he realized the task would not drain significant recourses while further raise the Windswords respect among the other clans.

"We will gladly deliver the final vengeance upon those responsible for the loss of the greatest among us."

Aalann felt a smug smirk tug on his lips as the other representatives looked aghast at the idea of leaving such an honor to another clan.

-0-

Earthdome
45 days later

From deep underground General Robert Lefcourt - the current acting head of the Earth defense force - had seen it all. Huge monitors had shown him huge waves washing in over once proud cities. Thousand upon thousand of people fleeing to higher ground or shelter. Entire communities wiped out by rocks the size of three story houses crashing into the surface.

It was horrific. One moment he could see people panicking in the streets, the next all turned into burning rubble. Children, wives, soldiers - no one was spared.

The first few days Lefcourt had amused himself by diverting the worst of the mass drives, buying people ever so little time. But the missile sites had by long run out of missiles or been destroyed.

He had initially been outraged when the Moon failed to fire whatever missiles they had, but seeing transports flee from the Minbari lines had abated that. It was not like the missiles would have done any more than annoy the Minbari for a few minutes.

In war, no one handed out prizes for good effort, it all came down to results. A rag tag transport heading for the rim was a far better result then a couple more craters on the moon, or the Earth for that matter.

Lefcourt knew that his final moment was upon him. He knew due to the large mass of house sized rocks falling towards him. It was the reason he reflected on the last days.

Now he could only hope he had done enough, for surely he had given his all.

There was a sudden flash of white.

"Surrendered?" Someone said, "can be? They won!"

-0-

A few minutes earlier

Warleader Branmer stared over the clouded planet known as Earth. After this he would forever step down as Warleader, but that did not mean the war with the humans was over.

He had to choose a successor, and he had to choose someone with the drive to see the campaign through.

Even now the various clans and castes wanted to go their own way. Many desired for the war to end here and now, pertaining to the economic situation back home.

Branmer frowned at that thought. It irked him on some level that the humans had managed to drive the Minbari economy into ruins - especially when one took into consideration that the human economy had weathered a three year loosing war.

No matter, the human menace would soon be begotten and the Minbari economy returned to pristine condition.

Snapping out of his reverie he pressed a button to address the entire fleet. "These are the coordinates of the humans' main seat of government. All capable ships are to fire one last volley towards said point, and then we'll leave Earth to the Windswords."

It did not take long for the Minbari ships to align towards the place the humans called Geneva, for then to send their last batch of collected asteroids towards the hapless planet.

The clusters of rock smashed into the atmosphere. A few broke apart, many ventured far of course yet several struck in the area intended.

Justice was served.

Down on the planet, in the ruins of what was once Earth's center of government, Lefcourt opened his one good eye.

He was alive.

End Interlude

Now do yourself a favor and check out Heart of Darkness - http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2369737/11/ - Probably the best fic on the whole site.
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