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Synopsis by Matthew Murray (n9641343@cc.wwu.edu)

"Commander's Personal Log. We're still searching for First Ones to use in our war with the Vorlons and the Shadows. There's less than twenty-four hours left before everything hits the fan. We can't afford to waste any more time. We have to get back to Babylon 5 and catch up with the fleet."

Ivanova tells Lorien that they need to move on--the five First Ones they have found are enough, and she doesn't believe there are any others. Lorien disagrees, saying that they need to have all six, and that all they have to do is wait for a response to their signal. Ivanova says she'll give him ten more minutes, but then they'll have to go back. She says she hopes Sheridan's plan of attacking Vorlon targets to force out their troops is working. Lorien admits it is an interesting tactic--possibly futile, but very human. Suddenly, a large ship appears outside, one Lorien apparently recognizes. He tells Ivanova that this race is nearly as old as the Vorlons, and hasn't spoken to any outside their race for centuries. Ivanova asks if they'll remember him, but he knows they will.

Sheridan and Delenn, in command of the White Star fleet, manage to destroy a Vorlon observation post without too much trouble, and head off to the rendevous point. After they enter hyperspace, Sheridan looks at the fleet he has assembled--thousands of ships, dozens of races, working together for the first time. "We've put together a hell of a team, Delenn," he tells her. "You should be proud. Win or lose, we'll go down fighting. Pour it on, Mr. Lennier. Take us into the fire."

As the fleet travels to Coriana 6, Lyta tells Marcus that she heard the Vorlons are planning to move against Centauri Prime about the same time they will arrive at Coriana, and she wonders why the fleet isn't making its stand there. Marcus explains that Coriana was the logical choice for the fleet to defend, since its population is twice as large. Marcus hopes, though, that they pulled enough of the Vorlon ships away to give the Centauri enough time to remove all Shadow influence.

Londo and Vir make their way to the throne room, followed by the Regent, who begs for further instructions. Londo tells him that, with the Vorlons less than 12 hours away, he wants the Shadows off the planet. He tells the Regent to bring the ministers of War, Intelligence, Transportation, and Security, and to clear the palace of everyone who worked for Emperor Cartagia. The Regent leaves to follow Londo's orders, and after he's gone, Londo tells Vir that they have very little time left, but that they need to find Morden to tell him the news.

Delenn arrives on the bridge of the fleet's flagship, where Sheridan is waiting, and tells him that Ivanova and Lorien have found all the remaining First Ones. She tries to convince Sheridan that Ivanova's ship won't help turn the tide of battle, but Sheridan explains that he promised Ivanova she would be there at the end, no matter what. He tells Delenn to radio Ivanova to arrive at the rendezvous point as quickly as possible.

Ivanova, after arriving back on the station, is preparing to leave for the battle when Lorien comes in. He says that he was told she was ready to leave, but she isn't quite--she says he seems quite impatient for an immortal. He explains that he isn't immortal, and could die if he fell ill or was injured. He was the first of the First Ones and the last of his race. Ivanova doesn't believe he can be as old as he claims, since no one could discover the technology necessary to develop an immortality serum in one lifetime. Lorien explains, however, that all of his kind were born naturally immortal. Ivanova can't accept this; she is positive that everything dies. Lorien explains that things are that way--now--but they weren't always. The generations of beings that followed his own were mortal, and could eventually die, but those of his time were immortal. He explains that his race discovered the Vorlons and Shadows as infant races and guided them, and the other First Ones, along the evolutionary path. Most of the others eventually died or passed beyond the Rim to what lay beyond. He explains that to live forever means to give up everything else--love, companionship, friendship--since those will come and go. Only races with a much shorter life span can truly appreciate these things and experience them for all they are worth. "You should embrace that remarkable illusion," he tells her. "It may be the greatest gift your race has ever received."

As the Vorlon fleet makes its way through hyperspace, the minister of Intelligence arrives in Londo's quarters and asks to speak with him. The minister tells him that the death of Lady Adira was preceded by rumors that Londo had attempted to poison Lord Refa, and the minister was asked, by Cartagia, to look into the matter. The minister discovered these two matters were connected, and continued his investigation even after Refa's death. The report he presented to Cartagia was to be kept secret until after Cartagia's death. Londo says that Refa was responsible for her death: the liner Adira was on when she died came from Centauri Prime, and the poison that killed her was of Centauri origin. The minister explains that it was not Refa who ordered Adira's murder, but Morden. He says he suspects Morden wanted to secure his position by making it appear as if Refa had killed Adira. Londo dismisses the minister. Londo, alone, finally realizing what he has done, loses control and starts tearing the room apart in rage. Crying, finally understanding how Morden manipulated him, he falls to the floor in tears.

Ivanova and Lorien are trying to get the rendezvous as fast as they can. Lorien tells her to be patient--patience and logic will win the war, not weapons and firepower. He says that Sheridan knows this, but he doesn't know if Sheridan knows he knows it.

Sheridan looks out the window of the flagship, commenting that the fleet, while not bad, is still not big enough to win. Marcus asks why they are there, and Sheridan says, "Hoping the truth will set us free... Before it kills us." He asks if the nuclear weapons are ready, and Marcus says they are camouflaged by asteroids. Sheridan tells Lyta to keep her mind open, and be ready for anything from the Shadows or the Vorlons. They need her--she is their only advantage.

Two guards bring Morden into the throne room, where Londo is waiting. Morden demands to know what is going on, and Londo tells him about the Vorlon fleet that is now headed to Centauri Prime. Londo tells him that, now that Cartagia is dead, he wants the Shadow fleet removed from the island of Selini. Morden declines, believing that the Vorlons would never attack a world with 3 billion people. Londo realizes that Morden and the Shadows are afraid. He says he must make sure that he and Morden may speak privately. Two of Londo's guards fire their weapons to the left and right of Morden, killing two Shadows, who flicker into sight only briefly as they die. Morden tells Londo he's insane, and Londo admits that--today--that's true. He gives Morden one more chance to move the ships, but Morden refuses again. Londo says that while the ships are impressive flying, at the moment, they are on the ground. Morden notes that they can sense an approaching ship miles away, so Londo doesn't have much choice. "What are you going to do, Mollari? Blow up the island?"

"Actually," Londo says, producing a small device from his pocket, "now that you mention it..." As the island explodes, Morden reels as if in pain. Londo tells him that most of the Centauri were evacuated from Selini during the night, but that some stayed to maintain the illusion. Londo orders Morden to be imprisoned, and the guards drag him away. But, as he goes, Morden promises that, even if the Shadows lose, their allies will make sure Centauri Prime pays for destroying the Shadow fleet.

Ivanova meets up with the rest of the fleet and tells Sheridan that Lorien wants to come over to Sheridan's ship right away. Almost as soon as Sheridan approves, though, Lyta realizes that both of the fleets have just arrived in the Coriana system. As soon as they appear, they begin moving toward each other. To get their attention, Sheridan detonates some of the nuclear devices, which do damage to both sides. This substantially angers both the Vorlons and the Shadows, and the battle begins.

Sheridan opens up communication with the Vorlon fleet, and implores them to not destroy Coriana 6--its residents were forced by the Shadows to allow a fleet to be based on their world, and don't deserve to be destroyed for that reason. The Vorlons, however, don't respond, and Lennier suggests they might not even be listening. Delenn asks Lyta to send the Vorlons a telepathic signal to get their attention.

As the battle rages on, Vir arrives in the throne room, where Londo is waiting. Londo tells him that, despite the Vorlon fleet on its way to Centauri Prime, they are no longer a threat, as he has removed the last Shadow influence from the planet. Londo tells Vir to go into the garden, where "a gift" is waiting. Vir does so. The gift is Morden's head on a pike. Recalling the promise he made long ago, Vir looks into Morden's eyes and waves.

Sheridan asks Lyta if she's had any luck, but she hasn't been able to open communication. Lennier informs Sheridan that the Vorlon planetkiller is almost in range of Coriana 6. Delenn is reluctant to call in the First Ones so soon, but Sheridan is not willing to let the planet die. Sheridan orders Lennier to send the signal. Lennier does, and the First Ones' ships instantly appear. Wasting no time, they concentrate their fire on the Vorlon planetkiller, which is destroyed easily. They turn their fire on the other Vorlon ships and on the Shadows.

Londo arrives in the Garden and joyfully explains to Vir that he has sent a message to the Vorlons informing them that all Shadow influence has been removed from Centauri Prime. Londo is sure they will turn back, but Vir does not share his enthusiasm. Vir tells Londo that he's wrong, that there is still one thing left that has been touched by the Shadows. He points to the sky, where the sun is being eclipsed by another Vorlon planetkiller. Londo realizes that they have come for him, and since he sent the message, they knew exactly where he can be found.

The Vorlons still refuse to communicate with Sheridan and his army, but Lennier does detect that they are sending a message to their other ships, for reinforcements.

Londo pleads with Vir to kill him so that Centauri Prime will be safe, but Vir refuses. Londo's pleas are interrupted by the planetkiller moving away to join the Vorlon fleet at Coriana.

Lorien arrives on the bridge of the flagship of Sheridan's fleet. Delenn begs him to talk to the Vorlons and the Shadows. She is interrupted, however, by the voice of Lyta, now distant and ghostly. "There is nothing to tell," she says as she turns around, her eyes glowing bright blue. "You thought we could not touch you," she tells him. "You were wrong." She focuses on him and Sheridan is paralyzed in an energy field. Delenn moves to help him, but is warned by Lorien not to do so, as it will kill him instead. "And you they have left..." Lyta says, her eyes now glazed over with black, "...for us." She glares at Delenn, who is paralyzed as well.

Lennier runs to help Delenn, but Lorien warns him that, should he interfere, they will lose the one chance they have to end the war. Lorien explains that Sheridan hoped both sides could be provoked into doing this. Lorien says that Sheridan wants everyone to know the truth, what they may be asked to die for. Lorien puts one hand in the air next to Delenn and Sheridan, and Lennier and everyone else can see what Sheridan and Delenn see...

Sheridan is wandering around in darkness, shouting, "Where are you? Show yourselves!"

Suddenly, a large block of ice is highlighted, with a woman frozen inside, a glowing amulet around her neck. Without moving her mouth, she speaks to him. "We are here. We do not understand you. We have wished only the best for you. We only want to help you."

"You're destroying whole worlds!"

"The others are a disease. You have given us the opportunity to eliminate it. We are grateful. Why do you oppose us?"

"Because I don't like being used... or lied to."

"We have not lied. Our goal is the same as yours--to destroy the darkness."

Sheridan asks why, in that case, they haven't struck at the Shadows directly, since they had the technology to destroy Z'ha'dum all along. The response he receives is, "You do not understand." But Sheridan does understand, and he says that's what has the Vorlons worried. "The Vorlons have a saying: understanding is a three-edged sword. Your side, their side, and the truth." Sheridan believes the truth is that the younger races no longer need either race to guide them.

Delenn, too, stands in the darkness, when Ivanova's voice begins speaking. Ivanova appears and walks toward her. "The Vorlons stand for Order above anything else. No passion, no dreams... just discipline. Obedience. They're frozen in place, an evolutionary dead end! Why side with the old? Embrace the new. Growth through pain and struggle, conflict and war. You of all people should understand this."

"Your race came out of the last war stronger, better." Franklin says, appearing from the darkness as Ivanova vanishes. "How much better, how much stronger will they be after this war? You will rise from the ashes with a strength and power beyond your imagination!"

"Until you do it to us again!" Delenn tells him.

"It is the cycle," Lennier explains to her. "It is the force of history itself. You cannot win against that. We have embraced it. We've helped it along, by creating conflict. Weak races die. Strong races are made even stronger. Evolution must be served. There is no other way."

"No, that's what you want us to believe," Delenn says.

Sheridan tells the Vorlon figure that he knows why they are doing it the way they are--they don't want to destroy the Shadows, they just want to destroy their message, their way of doing things, so everyone will have to follow the Vorlons. Delenn knows the Shadows feel the same way, wanting to leave the Vorlons alive so they can see the Shadows were right. "It's about ideology," Delenn says.

"Of course," Marcus says to her. "What isn't? Order versus Chaos. Choose one."

But Delenn says they shouldn't have to choose, because they aren't given all the choices available. They are only given two. The battle between the Vorlons and the Shadows is no longer about guiding or helping the younger races, it's just about whether the Vorlon or Shadow philosophy is the correct one. Sheridan knows this, too, saying they are acting like arguing parents, manipulating their children, getting them to take sides. "But what if the right choice is not to choose at all," he asks.

"What if we reject the idea that we must decide which of you is right?" Delenn asks. "What if we simply walk away?"

"You cannot do that," says another Delenn, coming of the shadows and facing the first.

"Then the war will never end!"

"That is correct."

"Then there is no hope."

"There is only Chaos and evolution."

"There is only Order and obedience," the figure in the ice says. "You will do as you are told."

"You will fight because we tell you to fight," the other Delenn says.

"You will die for us when we tell you to die for us," the woman in the ice says, "because the others know no other way."

"That's where you're wrong," Sheridan tells her.

A stray asteroid hits the flagship, and Lorien stumbles, accidentally touching Delenn.

"You've let them see," the other Delenn says. "You've let them know..."

But she cannot finish. Lorien removes both Delenn and Sheridan from their paralyzed state, and that world shatters around them. The image, and the illusion, is broken, but it is too late--the Shadow planetkiller has engulfed the fleet. Ivanova calls to confirm that she saw what Sheridan and Delenn saw, but the cloud is making the ships so cold, it is affecting the engines and preventing them from escaping. The temperature is dropping so low, it will kill them all in ten minutes. Sheridan can't believe the Vorlons and the Shadows would let the younger races die instead of ending their war, but Lorien knows they aren't finished yet. Two figures appear on the bridge--one Shadow and one Vorlon. Lorien explains they are giving Sheridan a second chance to change his mind and ask forgiveness, to choose. Lorien says that Sheridan's next words will decide the outcome.

"The Vorlons ask only one question, over and over," Sheridan tells the two figures. 'Who are you?'" He turns to the Shadow. "You... for you, the question is, 'What do you want?' I have never heard you answer that question. Who are you? What do you want?"

"You don't know, do you?" asks Delenn. "You've been fighting each other so long, you've forgotten. You've lost your way. So how can you guide us? How can we learn who we are and what we want if you don't even know it any more?"

Sheridan tells them that, no matter who wins, in a thousand years, the battle will start again. They are all a part of the cycle, but Sheridan doesn't want to be a part of it. The younger races have learned to stand on their own, and are prepared to make the mistakes they will make as they find their own way. Delenn tells the Vorlon and the Shadow that their secret is out, and asks them what they plan to do next.

"You do not speak for the rest," the Vorlon figure intones.

"They will not follow you if you are dead," says the Shadow figure.

Lennier detects a missile from the Shadow planetkiller being launched at the flagship. With only ten seconds until impact, one of the Drazi cruisers moves in front of the ship, and is destroyed by the missile's impact. The other ships in the fleet follow suit, and another missile strikes a Minbari ship, which moves in front just in time.

Delenn tells the figures that the other races as well have begun to reject them, and demands to know how they can have a war with no one to fight it. Sheridan tells them they refuse to take sides in the war, and refuse to let either race turn them against one another--they will find their own way.

"You can kill us one by one," Delenn continues, "and those who follow us, and those who follow them, on and on, every race, every planet. Until there's no one left to kill. You will have failed as guardians. And you will be alone."

"It's over because we've decided it's over," Sheridan says angrily. "Now get the hell out of our galaxy! Both of you!"

When neither the Vorlon nor the Shadow move, Lorien steps in. "As I taught you and stepped aside, now you must do the same. Our age is past. This... belongs to the younger races now. They have learned to stand on their own. They have learned... to understand. Time to let them go."

"Will you... come... with us?" asks the Shadow figure meekly.

"I have been here since the beginning. I will not leave you now. I will go with you beyond the Rim, and we will see again all those who went ahead of us, all those who we have missed for so long."

"Then... we will not be alone?" asks the Vorlon figure.

"No," Lorien tells them. "Never alone."

The two figures vanish, and the Vorlon and Shadow fleets quickly leave the system. As the power returns to the White Star flagship, the other First Ones leave as well, all at the same time, leaving only Lorien behind. "I waited a long time for someone to find me," he says. "Now, like the others, I find I hate to leave. But none of us can stay behind this time. That was why it was necessary to find all the remaining First Ones. This... is yours now. And you have an obligation... to do as we have done. To teach the races that will follow you and, when your time comes, as ours has, to step aside and allow them to grow into their own destiny. If your races survive, if you do not kill yourselves, I look forward to the day when your people join us beyond the Rim." Lorien begins dissolving, changing into a tiny ball of light. "We will wait for you..." And then he too is gone.

Londo tells Vir that he can't quite accept that the war is over, that he doesn't know what to feel. Vir says that, given all they accomplished, happy would be appropriate. Londo says that, every time he has felt happy, something bad has happened to him. Vir says that he thinks Londo should enjoy one single night of happiness while he can get it. Vir is planning to return to Babylon 5, but Londo needs to stay behind for a while and tidy up political matters, perhaps returning to Babylon 5 himself, away from whatever repurcussions he may have to face. Vir leaves, and Londo begins to enjoy his evening.

The fleet comes through the Babylon 5 jumpgate, and as the flagship approaches Babylon 5, Delenn and Sheridan sit, looking out a window as the station grows nearer. He tells her the younger races have entered a third age. First, they were too primitive to make their own decisions. Then, they were helped along by the Vorlons and the Shadows. Now, finally, they stand on their own. Sheridan says that Lorien was right, that it is a great responsibility. Delenn says that the galaxy seems smaller with the First Ones gone.

"Feels like the magic's gone," Sheridan comments.

"No," Delenn tells him. "Not gone. Now we make our own magic. Now we create our own legends. Now we build the future. Now we stop..."

"...being afraid of shadows," Sheridan finishes. Delenn smiles, and the two of them hold each other, looking out the window at Babylon 5, and the future they must begin to build.

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