Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Inching Ahead, More Or Less

Oh man, I have very very little progress to report today. My daughter and I got whacked by a big ol' stick of summer cold last week and as a result I really didn't do a whole lot on the yarn front (or on any other front, to be honest).

I did manage to finish two projects.

One of them, I can't show you yet, because it is a present and has yet to be gifted.

The other is the blanket I was making for my daughter.

Snuggle Time by Cori 2012.

Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in Shaded Browns (four skeins)
Hook: K

It's just a huge granny square. I did one row too many so the border is just a cluster of five single crochet in each chain one space around (with a slip stitch in the middle of each cluster). You can't really see it in the picture, and I really couldn't get a good shot of it (because of the aforementioned cold and my addled brain), but I am most proud of the detail on the left bottom and right upper corners. All I did was (chain ten, slip stitch in third sc of cluster) five times. It's a cute little almost flower effect though.

My daughter truly seems very pleased with the blanket, and she is slowly starting to realize it is her blanket for cuddling out of bed, so that is all for the good too.

Other than that, I did a few rows on Color Affection (finished the second section--one more and the edging left) and the small project I can't show you. Now I am back to the dragon blanket. Hopefully I can get some marked progress made on it this week.

Monday, July 30, 2012

B5 Rewatch: Born to the Purple

Hello there! Welcome back to the Babylon 5 rewatch. Today's post is about the third episode, "Born to the Purple."

Spoilers. Spoilers. Spoilers.

What Happened

We find Londo enjoying himself in a club where women are dancing (rather sedately, and fully clothed) on raised stages. Sinclair and G'Kar arrive to inform him that they need to discuss the Euphrates treaty with him, discussion of which he has apparently been dodging. He says sure sure, whatever, and agrees to a meeting the next morning. Just then the music changes and Londo gets excited, saying this is the act he has been waiting for. He invites Sinclair and G'Kar to sit and join him for the performance.

A Centauri woman begins a dance and Londo calls her perfection. G'Kar settles in to enjoy the show and have a drink when a Narn woman arrives and calls out his name very abruptly, causing him to spit out his drink. She introduces herself as Ko D'Ath, the new head of his diplomatic staff. G'Kar has clearly been expecting her, but not for some days yet. She explains that she was eager to begin her new duties and booked an early transport. A human man comes up and hits on her while they are talking and she puts him down none so gently. G'Kar offers to show her to her new quarters. They leave and Londo and Sinclair resume watching the Centauri dance. Later, Londo walks through the station humming to himself and clearly a bit in his cups. He enters his quarters and grins to find the dancer from earlier waiting for him in his bed.

Garibaldi does a check of the communications channels and the computer picks up an anomaly. He radios Sincalir to tell him he's picked up an unauthorized transmission to Earth.

Sinclair, G'Kar, Vir, D'Ath and Talia have gathered for their discussion of the Euprhates treaty but Londo is a no-show. G'Kar is getting more angry by the minute and Sinclair sends Vir to go check. Talia excuses herself and walks away, holding her head. Sinclair goes to check on her and she confesses that such strong emotions, like G'Kar's anger, are hard to block and they can get to her. She comments that these talks must be very important to Sinclair, and he agrees. He says a peaceful settlement is necessary, and with Talia's help they can keep the Centauri and the Narn from lying to each other and get down to a reasonable compromise. Assuming Londo ever shows up, of course.

Londo, meanwhile, has been having sexy fun times with his dancer friend in his quarters and is loathe to leave. He tells her that she makes him alive. She seems to be very enthralled with his position as ambassador and he worries that his title is all she really wants of him. She says she wants no more than what she's getting. He calls her Adira and asks what that is exactly. A washed up old politician dreaming of better days? She says that these are her better days and then she kisses him and leaves. Londo finally answers his comm and Vir reminds him about the peace talks. He says he will be there shortly.

On the bridge, Garibaldi has brought the anomaly to Ivanova's attention but she seems to think it is not a big deal. Garibaldi tries to convince her that it is, and she says that she will look into it as she is required and kind of shoos him off.

Londo arrives at the peace talks all smiles and apologizes for his tardiness.

Adira arrives in her own quarters and a man called Trakis is waiting for her in the dark. He asks her if all is going well with the ambassador and she reluctantly tells him yes. Trakis asks why she hasn't gotten the purple files from Londo yet then and she says it is difficult. Trakis says she forgets her place and that a slave must never lie to her master. He puts a hand on her face and releases some kind of electrical charge that is clearly painful to her. She begs him to stop and he does, turning away. Trakis says that Londo has the power he has because his family has been collecting dirt on other noble families for years, that's how the game is played. Adira says not all Centauri play such games and Trakis says yes, and then they end up like her. Trakis says those files will bring down any noble house in the Centauri republic. A Narn would pay heavily for such secrets and he wants them. He orders Adira to get them tonight and hands her a mind probe to use on Londo. As he leaves he tells her to cheer up, reminding her that the prize for her cooperation is her freedom.

Later Adira greets Londo in her quarters. He brings her a special kind of flower that she says she hasn't seen since she left her world and he admits he had them grown for her. He also gives her a present, a brooch from the earliest days of the republic, belonging to an ancestor of his. She says she can't take it but he insists and pins it on her gown. She suggests ordering dinner but he thinks they should go out. He's made a reservation at the finest restaurant on the station. Adira is surprised, worried about what others will say if they see him with her. He says he doesn't care, she makes him too happy for him to worry about appearances. She is very moved by his admission and a look of guilt crosses her face.

Garibaldi is on duty and the computer alerts him to another unauthorized transmission but the computer fizzles out before he can track its source, much to his frustration.

Sinclair takes Talia out to dinner as a thank you for her help with the negotiations. He says after their day she deserves it. She admits she hasn't sensed so many lies since her days with the political bureau. She also says that Londo's thoughts were intensely erotic. Sinclair says he's not surprised and points out Londo and Adira at a nearby table.

Garibaldi heads to the bridge and he tells Ivanova he picked up another call. She asks if he tracked it and he says he got a prefix on the Russian Consortium before it hit a wall and crashed his computer. She says if they used I.C.E. they should have no problem finding the source with a scan and he says he knows. Hence his presence at her console. He runs the scan and it comes back clear with no unauthorized transmissions. She asks if maybe it is just a figment of his imagination and he grumbles and stalks off.

After their dinner Adira bids Londo to make himself more comfortable while she gets them some drinks. She drops a pill in his while he is out of the room. He returns and they share a toast, she watching him nervously after he quaffs his glass. They kiss and then he passes out from the drug. She pulls the mind probe out of her bag and affixes it to his head. She uses it to get him to tell her the access code to his purple files. She removes the mind probe and leaves him to sleep, heading to his computer and playing his code, which she had recorded him saying. She accesses the files and has them transferred to her crystal port. Once the data is transferred she gives the sleeping Londo a sad kiss goodbye, saying she's sorry and removing the brooch. She sets it on the table and leaves.

Londo wakes later to the beeping of his door. Vir comes in and says that he was ordered to rouse Londo for the negotiations. Londo is feeling a massive hangover and as he sits up he notices the brooch on the table. He picks it up and looks at it in confusion.

Adira, meanwhile, stares at the crystal for a moment and then calls Trakis. When he asks if she got the files she confirms she did and he says he'll be right over. She says no, Londo might come looking for her. She says she will meet him in the Zocalo (the ship's market) near the Galactic Boutique. He gives her ten minutes and warns her not to be late. She makes a sad face at the screen after he signs off and then glances at the flowers Londo had brought her with a regretful smile before she leaves.

Londo looks at his computer while Vir hovers, wanting them to get going. Londo suggests that Vir represent the republic in the talks today and grants him full ambassadorial authority, admonishing him not to give away the homeworld.

Adira makes her way through the Zocalo, and she sees a man buying flowers. When she sees Trakis she runs from him instead of going to greet him. He notices her and begins to give chase but runs into someone and loses sight of her before he can bet back on her trail. He makes his way to her quarters, where he finds Londo knocking loudly. Trakis tells him they won't find her there and that they have much in common. Adira has betrayed them both. He opens the door and goes inside, a very confused Londo following.

Adira, meanwhile, has contacted one of her dancer friends. She wants to return to her world Davo, where she thinks that Trakis won't be able to find her. There is a transport leaving soon and she asks a friend to book passage for her. The friend agrees and promises that Adira will be safe at her place until the transport leaves.

Trakis decides to play Adira off as a Narn agent to Londo. Londo, of course, doesn't believe this for a second, reminding Trakis that Adira is Centauri. Trakis tells him not to be a fool, if those files get out Londo's career, and the republic, will be ruined. Londo wonders what interest Trakis has in any of this, not being Centauri or Narn. Trakis says he is just trying to protect his own interests, and his property. He presents documentation showing that Adira is a slave, and his. It is all perfectly legal under Centauri law. Londo is dumbfounded by this revelation. While he is distracted, Trakis places a small device on Londo's back and then tells him that Adira never cared for him, used him and lied to him. Londo tells him to get out and Trakis leaves.

G'Kar is once more annoyed at Londo's lateness. Vir arrives and says he will be negotiating on behalf of the Centauri today. G'Kar is furious, saying he doesn't have to put up with this. He says he is leaving and will not return until Londo does. In the meantime, D'Ath will represent the Narn regime. She expresses her honor at the responsibility. Before he storms out, G'Kar admonishes her, "just don't give away the homeworld." (Oh, I love symmetry.) Sinclair tells Talia to keep Vir and D'Ath talking while he goes in search of Londo.

Londo has returned to his quarters and found that Adira accessed his purple files. Sinclair shows up to try to bring him back to the talks but he says he doesn't have the time. Sinclair starts to lecture him on their importance and Londo acknowledges it but he has other concerns. He beseeches Sinclair to help him track down Adira. He can't let it become official. It must be handled discretely, only Sinclair can help. Sinclair says he'll help, but only if Londo agrees to accept his compromise on the Euphrates situation. Londo willingly agrees.

They head to the club to talk to the dancers in hopes of tracking down Adira. The club owner is less than cooperative, however. He tries to have his security throw them out. Sinclair starts laughing like a madman, saying that "Argo" was right about the owner. That perks his ears up, and he is surprised they know Argo. It seems to be enough to pique his attention and he asks what they want. Sinclair says they want to hire some dancers for a private event and the owner calls out the ladies. Londo asks Sinclair how he did that and Sinclair says he likes to know everything about everything on the station and Garibaldi's files are very thorough. Londo asks the dancers about Adira and offers up payment if someone will talk. One of them says Adira has a friend named Gera Akshi that she roomed together with once and Londo asks where they might find her.

The dancer says she lives in Brown 6 and Trakis hears this over the listening device he planted on Londo earlier. He is with N'Grath (last seen helping the soul hunter stalk Delenn) and asks if he can help. N'Grath says it will be tricky and Trakis says they just have to delay Londo and Sinclair until he has the girl. He can kill them if he needs to. Trakis promises to double the price if there is any trouble from such an action.

Londo and Sinclair go in search of Gera and run into N'Grath's goons. They manage to hide and overhear the goons getting told to stand down. They realize that Trakis has Adira.

Ivanova radios Garibaldi about reports of heavy gunfire in sector Brown 7 and promises to keep an eye out for any unauthorized calls while he is gone. He makes to leave but stops before he gets to the door. He sits back down and orders a team to check out the incident. He then tells the computer to monitor the channel the unauthorized calls are going out on and to locate Ivanova, clearly suspecting that she is behind the calls.

Sinclair tells Londo that nothing has left the station in several hours, which means Adira and his files are still on board. Londo says likely in the hands of Trakis. Sinclair volunteers to arrest Trakis but Londo shakes his head. That would make the situation public and it is possible that Trakis might hurt Adira. Sinclair is surprised that Londo is still worried about her but Londo implores him to find another way. Sinclair thinks he might have an idea.

Garibaldi picks up another transmission and is able to track and tap into it this time. He gloats that Ivanova's butt is his and moves to listen to the call to find out what she's up to. A nurse pops up on the screen and tells Ivanova that she doesn't have much time, then switches to an old man in a hospital bed. It is Ivanova's father and he is clearly dying. He tells her that he wants her to know he is proud of her, despite their disagreements. He apologizes for failing to give her the love she needed growing up and begs her forgiveness. After he has his say he passes on and Ivanova cries. Garibaldi in his station cuts the transmission and looks pensive about what he has witnessed.

Sinclair walks through the station with G'Kar. G'Kar says that his proposal is most interesting but wonders why Sinclair would wish to provide the Narn with an advantage over the Centauri. Sinclair says it is Earth's call. They want concessions in the Euprhates sector and will rely on the gratitude of the Narn to get them. They will have Talia sit in on the sale to make sure the merchandise is valid.

After getting G'Kar's agreement to the deal, Sinclair and Londo go to Talia to bring her in on their scheme. She is hesitant to break Psi Corps regulations for a personal matter. They persuade her, revealing the danger to Adira's life. She agrees so long as she doesn't actually break the rules--she will read surface thoughts only.

They go to the meeting and Talia manages to trick Trakis into thinking about Adira's whereabouts. She tells Sinclair and, realizing the trap, Trakis makes to flee. He is stopped by Londo, who knocks him out and manages to retrieve the data. Londo then thanks a very confused G'Kar for his help in saving not only Londo's career but the entire Centauri Republic as well.

Garibaldi goes to confront Ivanova about her calls. He says he tracked the most recent call and it was just what she said, a computer error. He fixed it and doesn't think it will happen again. She realizes what he is offering and says, no, it won't. He asks if he can buy her a drink and she declines because she's on duty. As he turns to leave, she stops him, tears in her eyes, and says maybe some other time.

Londo finds Adira preparing to leave for Davo. She apologizes, saying she never meant to hurt him. He says he has been in love many times and has been hurt many times, it is a part of life. He hands her a piece of paper and tells her that Sinclair managed to convince Trakis to cancel her contract. She is free. She tanks him and they hug. Her transport is called and she gets up to leave. Londo tells her she could stay, but she declines, saying the wounds are too fresh. He understands but insists she takes the brooch he had given her earlier and asks that someday she come back to him. She kisses him and tells him goodbye before she leaves.


No, seriously, what was up with that club? I mean, it was set up like a strip club, with men watching women dance, but the women were all fully clothed and none of it was indecent or even erotic or anything. Yet Londo was acting like he was getting a hell of a show and G'Kar was clearly embarrassed to have been discovered there by D'Ath. She, for her part, was equally disgusted by the establishment. I don't get it. I mean, I know that it was the early nineties when this first aired and all, but...if you're going to try to hint that your characters are doing something they shouldn't be doing, or should be ashamed of doing, then at least portray what they are doing accurately, or be creative enough with your cinematography that it doesn't look like they are simply having drinks at the ballet or something. Jeez.

ALSO. I am trying very hard not to judge the special effects because obviously this show is almost twenty years old (eep, and now I feel old), and they were just innovating and still figuring stuff out. But the lightning/electricity effect is just really...wow. Let's call it dated. Can we get back to the stock footage of exterior station shots please? I will say the prosthetic work for the aliens still looks damn amazing though. There is something to be said for the tried and true methods.

So, old effects technology I can forgive, even if it makes me cringe, but let's talk for a moment about the fashion. Because seriously. Nineties sense of style, I am judging you. Hard. Any human not in a military uniform on this show just looks ridiculous. Also, there's a strange throwback vibe to the fashion of some of the other cultures and races that is hard to figure out. I adore how the Minbari dress, and the Centauri not-quite-medieval vibe kind of suits them. So too, what the Narn have going on. But the humans...I mean. Even the military uniforms are kind of questionable, but they tend to be simplistic enough to still hold up. It's just...I don't even know. It's so strange to me how fashion seems to have hit the peak of silliness in the nineties and then just kind of more or less leveled out (at least among the common people). Seeing it reflected in someone's idea of the far future is just...embarrassing, I guess.

Sorry. Okay, so, the actual episode. I find it interesting that Londo has access to such crazy insane secrets that they could bring down his whole government, and he just leaves them lying around, apparently not even encrypted, on his computer. But overall this was a decent story of political intrigue and kind of established how the Centauri society rolls, I guess. It largely did a lot to set up Londo as a romantic, despite his normally cynical nature. That does rather play into how his character develops as the series unfolds, if I am remembering correctly. I do also find it very telling how practical he is in matters of the heart as opposed to matters of blood/honor/vengeance. I mean, Adira drugged him and stole government secrets and he accepted that she had reasons to do it and didn't want to hurt him personally. When his nephew might be dead because of Narn treachery? Dude was ready to go to war against his government's wishes to avenge that. It's...it's interesting.

Oh, and apparently slavery is totally legal throughout the Centauri worlds. So, you know. There's that. Sigh.

Then we get the little side plot with Garibaldi and Ivanova. I am tempted to say it was kind of a pointless little B story but...I am not so sure there is any such thing on this show. The story did certainly give us insight into Ivanova's background, as well as her personality. She could probably easily have gotten clearance to make those calls from Sinclair, given the circumstances, but she preferred to sneak around in secret rather than reveal something about her personal life to her superiors and colleagues. Garibaldi, for his part, showed that when he sets out to find a culprit, he does just that. But we also see that he is willing to look the other way if the situation warrants it. It's actually a fun little change-up, with Ivanova being the one to break the rules and Garibaldi the stickler for once.

I do have to wonder how the negotiations went between Vir and D'Ath. I wish we could have gotten one final scene on that little thread, because it was just kind of amusing. I do very much enjoy that this show manages to give us moments of levity despite a lot of the serious subject matter it tackles.

Favorite Quotes

"What do you want, you moon-faced assassin of joy?" (Londo)

"If I do...will you agree to my compromise on the Euphrates treaty?" (Sinclair)
"I'll even seal it with a kiss." (Londo)
"That should make G'Kar's day." (Sinclair)

"I never knew you could be so devious, Commander." (G'Kar)
"Coming from you, Ambassador, that's a real compliment." (Sinclair)


That's it for today folks. See you back here on Wednesday for the next episode, "Infection."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Choices Chapter Eleven

(Previous chapters can be found here.)

I remained at the House of Jade for almost a moon after the memorial service. Garrus had actually settled in quite well to his new duties and the House suffered very little for Father's loss. I took it as a testimonial that he had chosen his replacement well. Adelyn on the other hand was truly overwhelmed by her new responsibilities in running the manor household itself. I had learned much from Roslyn on that front in my time at the House of the Stag. That in addition to my familiarity with the House of Jade and its staff let me help her transition into her new role with a bit more ease.

About a week after my parents' deaths I was tucked away in a spare office going over the plans for Garrus' ascension banquet. It would officially confirm him as the new Head of Jade. Ascension banquets were normally somber events, given that they usually followed close on the heels of funerals, but they were still a necessary part of any House's affairs. I in the middle of determining seating arrangements when Sebastian arrived, knocking on the open door. Ballard was curled up under the window reading a book and he looked up at the noise. Sebastian noticed him at the same moment and they shared mutual scowls of dislike. I fought the strong urge to roll my eyes.

"What is it Sebastian? I'm arranging--"

"Forgive the intrusion, Laren," he interrupted me. "I wanted to stop by and see how you are holding up. I wonder if I might persuade you to take a stroll around the grounds with me? I am sure some fresh air would do you good."

I glanced out the window. The morning's frost did not seem to have melted at all and it was nearing lunch time. "Fresh" was hardly the word I would use. Still, it was good to see Sebastian, and I could use a break. Trying to place nobles for minimal chance of friendly "debate" was tiring.

"Of course, Sebastian." I stood up and stretched. "Let me just get my cloak."

"I took the liberty of sending someone to fetch it, my dear," he said, glancing at Ballard who was now standing as well. "I had rather hoped we might be...unaccompanied on our walk." He directed a pointed glance at Ballard, who glared back in return.

Oh dear.

"I go where she goes," Ballard said softly. Soft or not, his voice was steel.

"I'm sure you do," Sebastian snapped back, "the page who escorted me here made it quite clear that you haven't let her have a moment's peace to herself since she arrived." I wanted to interject, to stop this before it got out of hand, but I didn't get the chance. "Is Liam so worried about what she'll do when out of his sight that she can't even mourn her parents in private?"

"Sebastian!" I cried in surprise at the accusation. I felt as if I had been slapped and Ballard turned a deep red, his fists clenching. I realized what he intended a moment before he moved. I jumped around the desk and flung myself between them, hands outstretched in either direction to keep them apart.

"How dare you?" Ballard hissed, trying to find a way through me that would leave me unharmed. "My allegiance is to my lady!"

"Oh, aye," Sebastian retorted, "but which lady?" Ballard and I both went very still. Sebastian thought he was reporting to Roslyn on my actions. I had been guilty of the same thoughts, but not for some time. I couldn't blame him for thinking the same thing, could I? I had turned to face Sebastian at his question and so I could not see Ballard's face when he replied. I saw the moment of understanding in Sebastian's eyes, however.

"There is only one." Ballard answered softly. The intensity in those four simple words slammed into me like a horse at full gallop and I forgot to breathe for a few moments. I closed my eyes and tried to bring the world back into balance.

"So it's like that, is it?" Sebastian said after a heavy pause. I opened my eyes and looked back and forth between the two men, my two dearest friends who had been at each other's throats only moments before. Both had relaxed and a look of understanding seemed to be passing between them. Sebastian turned to me and asked, "Do you trust him?"

"Of course." There was no hesitation in my answer. How could there be? Trusting Ballard was like breathing. Just then a maid arrived carrying my cloak, and Ballard's as well, unsurprisingly. She entered the room humming a little tune and stopped dead when she saw the three of us. Realizing she had clearly walked in on something awkward, she mutely held out the cloaks. "Thank you," I said to her, dropping my arms hastily as Ballard stepped forward to take the garments. She cast a frightened glance around the room and then scurried out as if she had walked in on a pit of vipers. We all watched her go in silence, the tension in the room much relieved.

"Well, alright then." Sebastian said, his normal jovial air returning. "Dear Laren, would you and your...companion care to accompany me on a walk around the grounds before lunch?" I glanced at Ballard. His head was tilted to one side and he was regarding me as if there was something there he hadn't seen before. After a moment he nodded and offered a small smile.

"We would be honored, Sebastian." I fastened my cloak around my shoulders and the three of us made our way out of the manor, Sebastian at my side and Ballard a step behind, ever watchful still.

The air outside was just a hair too cold to be called brisk, but we walked leisurely down to the large man-made pond that was the center of the grounds behind the manor. When we reached it, Ballard gave Sebastian an assessing look and then, seeming to come to a decision, fell back and took up a position off to one side where he might keep watch on us and make sure we were not approached by anyone else. To keep warm, Sebastian and I took to the path around the pond, circling it several times as we talked.

"Now he decides we may have our privacy," Sebastian chuckled. He shook his head in amusement. "No wonder you have not objected to a guard, with such a devoted admirer." I blushed and glanced back at Ballard, biting my lip.

"It isn't...we haven't, Sebastian, please." I said finally, unable to explain, hoping he would leave off with the teasing. There was no denying that something had grown between myself and Ballard, and that we seemed to have reached a pivotal point where the true nature of relationship must be decided once and for all. But I had no idea how to voice that.

"Oh aye, not yet." Sebastian said, grinning, though his smile was not unkind. "But that one no longer cares for Roslyn's wrath, or Liam's, I'd wager. I suppose the real question is whether or not you feel the same for him, although I suspect I already know the answer to that." I heaved a sigh, unable to deny the truth of his suspicions. His voice turned serious as he said, "It will not be easy, you realize. I know you Laren, enough to realize that you will still put preserving your House's reputation over your own desires. I...I can help the two of you," I turned to him in surprise. "Nathaniel and Madge would be willing as well, of course, if you trust them enough with the information. You need only ask."

"I...thank you Sebastian. I still don't know that we, well," I sighed again. "No, you are right, it is only a matter of time. I don't like the idea of sneaking around behind anyone's back, but...well, help in keeping it a secret would be welcome."

"Of course, my dear," he said. His joking tone returned as he added, "I do have quite a bit of experience in sneaking around behind the backs of unsuspecting husbands, after all." I couldn't help myself, I laughed at that, long and loud. It felt good to laugh, the past week had been so wearing. "Now," Sebastian began, turning serious once more, "you have been keeping a secret for moons, and I was promised that I would be told the truth of it. We are finally alone, with no one else around, save your loyal guard. Laren, will you please tell me what happened to you, that you need such a guard in the first place?" The concern in his voice was almost too much to bear.

I had known it was coming ever since I promised him the story. While I had not actively avoided providing an opportunity to reveal what had happened, I hadn't sought one out either. Still, speaking with Ballard about the events had lessened the pain of the memories a little. Perhaps sharing with Sebastian would as well. So I told him about my abduction, from parting company with him and his brother right up through my miscarriage and learning that Roslyn had ordered it done on purpose. Ballard hadn't even known of my pregnancy or the miscarriage until I had told him once we started discussing the events. Sebastian was understandably horrified, and like Ballard, angry on my behalf. Like Liam, he seemed particularly offended that my abductors had raped me after negotiating my ransom, although I suspected his motivations for that emotion stemmed from a different source than my husband's had.

"Damnation, Laren! That you had to go through such an experience!"He caught me up in a tight hug, lifting my feet right up off the ground for the briefest of moments. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Ballard twitch and then visibly force himself to calm down. He had accepted that Sebastian was not trying to romance me, but he did not fully trust the man yet. Sebastian let me go and held me at arm's length, studying me carefully. "You are stronger than I believed, to come through that so whole," he told me quietly. "I can understand why Roslyn would want you kept under guard, now. Even if she didn't want to track down those responsible for secrecy's sake," the scowl on his face said what he thought about that decision, "she is smart enough to know that their delay in asking for your ransom meant something else was going on." A thought occurred to me then, and I was surprised it had not come moons ago.

"Sebastian," I asked, "did you or Nathaniel see anyone or anything strange after I left you that night? If you were still on the balcony..." My hopes fell quickly though as I saw him sadly shake his head.

"I'm afraid not, my friend" An embarrassed look crossed his face. "I was...frustrated by your refusal, completely justified as it was, because with Kara's return I deeply wanted to get to Liam that evening. Seeing him fawn over her just brought back so many memories, and after speaking with you, well....We told you we were going to remain on the balcony, but as soon as you were out of ear shot, we slipped back in through the gallery doors, to interrupt whatever he and Kara might be up to..."

"I understand Sebastian." I did. I patted his arm. "They were quite smart about the whole thing, likely you wouldn't have seen anything if you had remained behind. I just suppose I needed to ask."

"Of course," Sebastian replied. A new thought seemed to come to him, "Liam has not taken this whole course of events very well, has he? That is why he doesn't even try to pretend at discretion any more, isn't it?" I believed as much as well, and nodded. "The more fool he is, then," Sebastian said in disgust. "He has only himself to blame for pushing you to another man's arms," he glanced back at Ballard then, gazing at the other man for a moment before turning back to me. "I hope that he is worthy of you, Laren," he said softly, "though I doubt you would risk so much on a man who wasn't." I did not know what to say to that. "Liam has no idea how lucky he is that you are the wife he was given. Any woman other than Kara of Stars never could have hoped for his full attention and would have sought a more attentive lover eventually. At least you will have honor in it, and he never need fear seeing another man's features on the faces of his children. If you are in need of advice in preventing conception while leaving yourself still capable of it with Liam..."

I blushed furiously, such thoughts hadn't even begun to cross my mind. But he was quite right, I would never risk bearing a child that was not Liam's, as much as I might prefer a different father for my children. It seemed strange to think of maintaining honor while undertaking an affair, but I supposed that it was something that would arise from these sorts of circumstances. Still blushing, I nodded mutely, unable to trust myself to speak. He explained a few methods to me and I filed the information away, managing to stutter out a "thank you." Goodness, when did my life become so complicated? I couldn't help but wonder. We walked around the pond a few more times, our discussion turning to much more innocent topics, and then turned back toward the manor, heading inside for lunch and warmth. I smiled shyly at Ballard as he joined us, reaching out and squeezing his arm quickly before he fell into step behind me once more.


Sebastian stayed to lunch with us, I had the meal sent to my office and we gathered around the desk, speaking easily of nothing of consequence. I was relieved to find what little tension that remained between the two men dissipating rapidly over the course of the meal. Sebastian left shortly after that, promising to visit again soon and imploring me to send a message if I needed any additional company. He parted with a rather salacious wink behind Ballard's back, indicating his doubts that I would be wanting for companionship any time soon. Once more I found myself blushing and I quickly bowed my head over the papers on my desk hoping that Ballard would not notice. He did not ask what Sebastian and I had discussed, nor did he bring up the earlier altercation. He simply picked up his book and went back to reading. Grateful, I once more tackled the plans for Garrus' banquet and we passed the rest of the day in comfortable silence.

I retired for the evening much later than I had intended and by the time I had reached my room, I had almost talked myself out of confronting Ballard about our feelings for one another. It has to be done, Laren, I told myself. Better now when we are away from the Stag than to let it simmer and boil over where we both might regret it. As we entered Ballard quickly searched the room (his own small chamber included) for any hidden intruders and then made a last check in the corridor. I remained standing in the center of the room, breathing deeply and gathering my thoughts. When he slipped back inside and shut the door, I walked over and locked it behind him, sliding home the bar that rested across the doorway. He looked a question at me and I took his hand in my own, walking backward and pulling him further into the room, away from the door.

"My lady?"

"I think after all of this time, Ballard, you can call me Laren," I said with a wry smile. His brows crinkled and I could see he was beginning to realize my intentions. Nothing to do but jump right in, I suppose. Another deep breath, and then, "Do you want this Ballard?" I reached up for his other hand and met his eyes. "Do you want us?" He tensed slightly, his grip on my hands tightening.

 "We can't," he said, turning his head and breaking the eye contact. I had seen the emotions warring behind those eyes, though.

"That's not what I asked." He swallowed and closed his eyes, taking a few deep breaths himself before opening them and facing me once more.

"You already know the answer, Laren." It came out in a low rasp and sent a thrill of heat jolting through me. I bit my lip, but held his gaze. Didn't he know I needed him to say it? He must have sensed something of my thoughts because he spoke again, his voice a little clearer but no less passionate. "I have wanted you for so long, almost since you came to the House of the Stag. I would see you in the courtyard reading or drawing and I wanted to know you. I would see the kindness with which you treated everyone you met and hope that kindness might be directed at me. When you were taken, I would have torn Pelos apart searching for you had I been allowed. While you were gone I worried every second that you might not return to us while your husband," he injected those two words with more vitriol than I would have thought possible, "seemed hardly concerned, daydreaming over another woman."

"When I was finally allowed to go after you, and I found you so..." he looked away again and shook his head before going on, "I was so scared you were already lost. But you stirred, even better, you fought. I held you the whole way back and I wanted nothing more than to kill those who had done this to you," his grip on my hands was becoming painful, but I did not try to break the contact. "I waited while you healed, hoping beyond reason that you would not be broken by that tragedy. You emerged from the other side, whole and healthy. Sad, yes, but strong. Stronger than I could ever have imagined." He looked at me again, and his eyes shone brightly, captivatingly. His voice had not risen despite the intensity of his words, but now it dropped to a whisper. "When Roslyn assigned me to guard you, I was so thankful. The more time I spent with you, the more I realized just how amazing you are...and then you wanted to know me, to be my friend...I...I love you Laren. More than I ever could have believed myself capable of loving anyone." My breath stopped. For the second time that day I was utterly staggered by the realization of his feelings for me.

"Ballard," I said softly, pulling my hands free and reaching for his face. I stepped closer but he gripped my upper arms, freezing me in place.

"We can't Laren."

"Why not?" I wanted to scream in frustration but I kept my voice low as well.

"You are not mine to take," he answered. I remembered Liam's constant choruses of "mine" throughout our marriage. My eyes narrowed, and he went on, "I will not let you risk your honor for a tryst--"

"My honor!" I hissed. "That is your objection? I am legally obligated to provide Liam with heirs, and I will do so to the best of my ability. I will also fulfill the other duties of my role in the House, but I belong to no one but myself, and it is my choice to whom I give my honor. My heart was never his, and if I choose to give it to you freely you have stolen nothing." Ballard's eyes widened and he released my arms, stepping back a pace. "Do you really think I would so lightly compromise my loyalty for a mere tryst?"

"I..." he seemed at a loss for words. "I thought you were only--" He ran a hand across his face and then raked it through his hair. "I didn't realize you felt--" I took a step forward, once more closing the gap between us.

"For the sake of clarity, Ballard," I said, reaching once more for his face, pulling it down close to my own, "I happen to love you too."

"Oh!" It was all he had the chance to say before I stretched up on my toes and kissed him. For a moment I feared he would resist regardless, he stood so still. But a heartbeat passed, and then two, and then he began returning the kiss, his arms wrapping around me and pulling my body right up against his. I sank into him and let the heat of his passion wash over me, feeding it with my own. I fumbled at his shirt, pulling it loose from his trousers and then over his head, reluctantly pulling back to allow it to pass between us.

All of Ballard's hesitation had disappeared. He gave me a wicked grin that had me shivering in anticipation and began to tackle the buttons on my skirt. In short order we had managed to undress each other and I pulled him into the bed. I was more than ready by then and expected him to enter me, craving the connection, but he did not do so immediately. Instead he set about exploring my body with his hands and mouth and tongue. I had never experienced anything like it in all of my previous encounters with Liam. Ballard had me shivering with delight, the slightest touch sending shocks racing through my body. It was all I could do not to scream out my pleasure. When he finally joined with me I sighed in relief, eliciting a brief chuckle from him. I could sense he was holding himself back, moving as slowly as he could bear. When pleasure began to wrack my body and I had to bury my teeth in his shoulder to keep from crying out, he let go of himself and made quick work of finishing his task.

He kissed me as he pulled out, slowly and deeply, and then pulled me close, lining up our bodies together. He stroked my arm, my stomach, anything he could reach, placing soft small kisses along my neck. Every nerve in my body was singing and his touches occasionally brought forth a fresh tremor. Eventually he seemed satisfied and he wrapped his arms around me. I turned within them, placing my lips on his in a slow languorous kiss of my own.

"I still think this is madness, my lady," he told me, placing a finger on my lips when I would have protested his use of my title. "But maybe even the Ancestors would have understood. I am yours, Laren." The sweetness of those words followed me down into sleep.


My remaining three weeks at the House of Jade were a confused jumble of emotions. I felt grief at the loss of my parents, pride in seeing Garrus assume Father's place as he had been chosen to do, and complete delight at the hands of Ballard each night. It was easy enough to maintain the affair in my family's home. No one was watching us, and by that time the household staff were quite used to Ballard shadowing me everywhere. We maintained discretion as much as possible, with that being made easier by his occupation of the servant's room attached to my own. But we both realized the unspoken truth that finding such time together would be infinitely harder once we returned home, and we made love as much as possible during those days. After the first night I recalled what Sebastian and Nathaniel had said to me about generous lovers during our first real conversation. I had not known what they were talking about at the time, but now I felt I had a fairly solid idea. Ballard very rarely hurried through our lovemaking. He took the time to give me as much pleasure as I could stand. Wanting to be on equal footing, I asked him to teach me how to do the same for him, and he (of course) agreed rather eagerly, taking great joy in his role as instructor.

Sebastian had provided a key piece of information that allowed such intimacy to continue, and though I had no idea how to thank him without being overcome by embarrassment, I was nonetheless eternally grateful. He had told me of an herb used to sweeten tea that had a bonus side effect of tricking a woman's body to prevent conception for several hours after ingestion. It did not do any lasting damage, which made it ideal for extramarital encounters. Even better, it was a fairly common and innocuous herb, unlikely to draw attention to its purpose, unlike many other herbs and teas used for contraceptive purposes. I had not asked how Sebastian was so familiar with its lesser known use, but I could guess easily enough. Without it, I would have likely forced myself to abstain from Ballard's attentions once we returned home, at least until I had given Liam his heir. I remained firmly convinced that once that happened his nighttime visits would cease entirely.

To Ballard's utter bemusement, Sebastian turned out to be our staunchest ally once I had returned to the House of the Stag. We could hardly conduct the affair while on the estate itself, neither one of us trusted Roslyn's understanding that far, and so my couplings with Ballard were far less frequent than either of us would have liked. Yet somehow Sebastian managed to engineer invitations for me to go on outings requiring Ballard's presence as my guard on a fairly regular basis. The invitations were not just to the House of Blades, as that would likely raise suspicions of a different sort. Still, wherever we were, Sebastian arranged matters so that Ballard and I could always find a few moments of time to ourselves at these events without fear of discovery.

As happy as I was, I felt I was walking something of a knife's edge as winter progressed. I looked forward to spring with great longing, anticipating long days alone in the woods with Ballard. I still had not found myself with child and I felt both relieved and irritated by this fact. I was quite ready to have that particular duty to my House fulfilled. One evening on the tail-end of winter found me curled up in my rooms, silently bemoaning the arrival of my womanly burden, once more signaling that my womb remained empty. I was in a particularly foul mood because on top of the fact that Ballard and I had not been together in almost two weeks, the previous evening had seen me attending a dinner party with Liam at the House of Stars. It was a more private gathering than a true party, and as such, Liam did not even bother with discretion, all but rubbing his affair with Kara in my face. I knew I had no right to feel hurt by his actions, but I did feel anger at the way in which I was treated. The insult had been clear enough to me, and more than once I had seen a look in his eyes that said he knew exactly how he was making me feel.

While I stewed over those thoughts I was interrupted by a soft knock at my door. Liam had already come and gone after learning of my condition, and I had not sent for anyone. So it was with great curiosity that I opened the door, finding a very frantic looking junior cook standing in the corridor, eyes wide with fear.

"Begging your pardon, my lady," she said, bowing her head so deeply she almost toppled over, "I do not mean to intrude, only he insisted, and Cook said I had best be about it and--" I placed a hand on her shoulder gently, cutting her off.

"Best be about what, Anwen?" I tried to make my voice as amiable as possible.

"I..." She took a deep breath and seemed to calm a bit, "I was sent to fetch you, my lady. There's a man in the kitchens. Two, actually. And they are asking, well, demanding, to see you. Said they won't go away 'til they speak with you. Cook seemed to think it best I bring you down there, if you please." She bowed her head again.

"Of course, just give me one moment." I grabbed a robe and slipped it on over my night clothes, not bothering to find any shoes. Closing the door behind myself, I stepped out into the hallway and gestured for her to lead on. Despite her clear nervousness, she beat a hasty path for the kitchens in what I knew to be the most direct route, leading me down the servants' stairways and halls. We arrived in the kitchens and the head cook looked up sharply, breathing a sigh of relief when she saw that it was only Anwen bringing me along.

The kitchen was deserted except for the two cooks, myself, and two men standing by the fireplace. One looked barely conscious, and I could see he had been badly beaten. He could barely stay on his feet and the other man was holding on to him tightly, supporting him. I gasped in shock upon closer inspection of the injured man. It had been well over ten cycles since I had last seen him, and there were lines that had not been there before, but I recognized him all the same.

"Aaron." I breathed. My brother looked up at me and then went limp as he finally gave in to full unconsciousness. The other man gripped him even tighter, keeping him from falling to the floor. He looked up at me, pleading with his eyes. I did not recognize him.

"We had nowhere else to go, my lady," the mystery man said.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

B5 Rewatch: Soul Hunter

Well, hello there. It's time for another episode of the Babylon 5 rewatch, is it? In that case, let's jump into today's episode, "Soul Hunter."


What Happened

A Ship docks with Babylon 5 and Sinclair and Ivanova are on hand as one of the passengers disembarks. Sinclair introduces him to Ivanova as Doctor Stephen Franklin, the new medical chief of staff. Ivanova is familiar with Franklin's work and is glad to have him aboard. From the context it sound like he has experience in treating aliens as well as humans. He asks when he starts and she replies as soon as he'd like. Sinclair is called away and leaves Ivanova to show Franklin around.

Sinclair reports to the bridge and is briefed on the situation. An unidentified ship has been detected and is about to come through the jumpgate. It emerges and is on a wild trajectory, following a collision course straight for the station. Sinclair takes a fighter to try to intercept the ship before it can hit the station. Ivanova remains behind to monitor the station's defenses and, if necessary, shoot down the strange ship. She asks why they don't just do that straight off and Sinclair says he wants to follow first contact protocol in case this is a new species they haven't encountered yet.

Sinclair flies out to the ship and prepares to grapple it before it can hit the station. He plays a few rounds of the claw game as time gets short. He tells them to destroy it on the next pass if he misses again but manages to grab hold of it just in time and heads to the flight bay with it. He orders Franklin to have the medical bay ready in case the pilot is still alive.

Once Sinclair is back aboard, Delenn finds him and asks after the pilot. Sinclair tells her he was still alive but only just and that they managed to get him to the isolab. He tells her that the ship was pretty banged up and had clearly been attacked. He can't tell if it was raiders or something else but the more pressing concern is who and what their new patient is. Delenn says she has seen many different forms of life and volunteers her help to see if she can identify him.

Garibaldi stands outside the isolab while Franklin checks on the pilot. He reads out the vitals and Garibaldi says they sound good. Franklin replies they would be if the pilot was human but he has no way of knowing at the moment if they are good for this particular species. Sinclair and Delenn arrive. She takes one look at the pilot and begins muttering "Shak Tot!" in a very agitated fashion. She grabs Garibaldi's gun and tries to shoot the pilot through the glass but Sinclair manages to stop her.

She implores him to kill it, and quickly. He is confused and asks her why she is so upset. Delenn realizes that he does not recognize the pilot for what he is. She tells him it is a Shak Tot, a soul hunter, and once more demands that Sinclair get the alien off the station NOW, before it's too late. She says someone will die otherwise.

After Delenn has calmed down and been taken back to her quarters she apologizes to Sinclair. She says her behavior was extreme but he doesn't know these things like she does. He asks her to educate him, pointing out that he's known her for almost two years and has never seen her react so violently to anything before. She says it is training. As children, Minbari are taught to be careful, warned that if they are not a soul hunter will come in the night to steal their souls. She claims they are immortal and their origin is unknown. But they sense death and are drawn to it. Sinclair asks why and she explains that they can steal souls at the moment of an individual's death. They collect them, and are known to be fond of a particular class of Minbari. She maintains that while the soul hunter is aboard the station everyone else on board is in terrible danger. Once more she begs him to send it away while he still can. She is clearly unnerved by its presence.

In one of the lower decks of the station a hustler plays a shell game. In the isolab the soul hunter seems to hear the hustler's banter and his eyes open momentarily.

In the dining hall Garibaldi meets with Ivanova and Sinclair. He tells them he just got back from the alien sector, finding it strangely deserted, as if they are all in hiding. He heads out, and Ivanova comments that almost a dozen alien ships have asked to leave the station immediately. Sinclair remarks that word has gotten out about their visitor.

The hustler continues his game and the soul hunter still seems to be listening in. The victim of the game takes exception to his loss and the hustler runs for it, the other man giving chase. The soul hunter's eyes open once more. Franklin walks by the isolab and finds the soul hunter awake and standing at the window, staring at him. He begins to question him, asking if the soul hunter can understand him. When he is greeted with silence he calls for a translator to come down to the med bay. The soul hunter begins to grunt something to Franklin and manages to finally form the word "no." He tells Franklin he has been to his world and then asks if he can feel it. Elsewhere, the hustler continues to flee from from his pursuer. The soul hunter begins listing the emotions that the hustler clearly feels. He says "It comes" with a triumphant gleam in his eyes and the hustler's attacker finds and stabs him. The soul hunter repeats, "it comes," once more, sounding very satisfied.

Garibaldi's security staff checks in with him, reporting the stabbing. They have the attacker in custody and the victim is en route to the med lab. Garibaldi heads to meet him there. As Franklin and his team try to save the hustler, the soul hunter continues his creepy narration of the death of the man. Franklin calls out for someone to kill the speaker that lets them hear the soul hunter. It is for naught though, as the man dies on the table. Franklin angrily turns the soul hunter's speaker back on and he says to the doctor, "gone now." He laments that if Franklin could only see, and seems elated by the death. Franklin stares at him in horror.

The soul hunter retreats into a meditation of some sort, muttering a chant to himself as he does so. Sinclair comes down to the med bay and tries to question the soul hunter, but gets no answers. He asks if the soul hunter came for that man's soul. That stops the chant for a  moment, but then he continues again. Sinclair shrugs it off, commenting that he shouldn't be surprised, no one would want to admit to being a thief, a stealer of souls. The soul hunter stops and protests that his people are not thieves, they are preservers. They act for the good of all. Sinclair says the Minbari don't seem to think so and the soul hunter scoffs. He doesn't think much of the Minbari. He says they won't let his people help them. Franklin tries to ask what soul hunters are, exactly and he quips to ask the Minbari.

Then the soul hunter says that he and his people are drawn to the moment of death. When they are, they save the souls. But only the special ones. Dreamers, thinkers, poets, "blessed lunatics," leaders. Sinclair asks what they do with these souls they "save." He says they enshrine them, worship them, talk to them, listen, and learn. Franklin laughs and calls it nonsense. He says it is superstitious and can't be done. He says maybe with the right technology a person's mind could be cloned, but the idea of taking a person's soul is ridiculous. The soul hunter says let him go, then.

Sinclair wants to know what there is between the Minbari and the soul hunters. He tells the Commander that they are jealous, selfish. They are too private, only a few souls of their race have been saved. Minbari souls are very rare among the collections of his kind. The rarest would have been their leader Dukat. The soul hunters tried to "save" his soul during the war with the humans but the Minbari fought it, put a "wall of bodies" in the way, and so he died. All he was, all he could ever be, the soul hunter tells them, gone. Wasted.

Franklin still seems dismissive of the soul hunter's claims. Sinclair seems speculative though. After a moment the soul hunter returns to his meditation, muttering about the jealous Minbari and the loss of Dukat's soul. Sinclair asks Franklin if the soul hunter can get out of the isolab without a breather, if he can survive outside of it. Franklin says it's hard to say and Sinclair says he'll have security post a guard on the isolab. He turns back to the soul hunter and says that personally he doesn't believe that he can do what he says, but his presence on the station is causing a disruption. The alien population considers the soul hunter a clear and present danger and he has no reason to question their judgement. He says the soul hunter can stay in the lab until he is fit to travel but then he wants him off station immediately.

Franklin reports to Ivanova that he's finished the autopsy of the stabbing victim and has cleared the body for burial. She asks if the next of kin have signed off on the death certificate and he replies yes. They can't afford to send the body home, so it is given a space burial. The body is taken out in a shuttle and Ivanova says a short prayer, committing the body to the deep, and the shuttle shoots the casket into the nearest star. They have a brief discussion on the fleeting nature of life.

Delenn goes to visit the soul hunter. She says they never travel without their collection and asks where his is. He tells her it is safe, calling the souls his children. She wonders if any of them are Minbari. She promises him that before he leaves she will search his ship and she will find his collection, she will find any Minbari souls that he has stolen. He asks what she will do then and she says she will free them, release them. He says she means she will kill them. She says they will join with the souls of all of her people, meld with them until they are reborn as the next generation of Minbari.

Without those souls, she says, her people are diminished. Each generation is less than before. The soul hunter calls this a quaint lie, a pretty fantasy. He says that the soul ends with death unless it is preserved. He insists that his people will help the Minbari in spite of themselves. Then he looks at her more closely and says he knows her. She was there at the death of the Minbari leader Dukat. She exclaims that they stopped him from taking what he had no right to take. He retorts that they stopped him from saving Dukat. That is where it all began to go wrong, he tells her. So many lost souls, he tells her, lamenting his failure and blaming her for stopping him. Then he says it is curious that they called her Satai Delenn of the Grey Council. What is one of the great leaders of the Minbari doing on the station playing ambassador, he asks. Delenn flees from his questions.

The guard watches her go and then hears a crashing sound from the lab. He looks in the window and sees the soul hunter unconscious on the floor, lying in a pile of broken glass. He puts on a mask and runs in to check on the patient, calling for a medical team as he does so. He pulls out his gun as he approaches but the soul hunter, playing dead, manages to knock him out quickly and take his weapon. He leaves the med bay, carrying the gun. He makes his way to his stash of souls, which seem to be stored in glowing glass orbs. He tells them to be at peace, saying he now knows why they were brought to this place. He has realized who they have come for.

On the bridge Sinclair asks for an update on the guard. Learning he'll survive he then asks how the search for the soul hunter is going. Garibaldi says not well. They know that he made it to his ship before they did because they found a cabinet they missed on the first sweep. It had been well hidden but is now empty. Sinclair thinks that he will head for the alien sector of the station to avoid drawing attention. Garibaldi agrees but doesn't know why. The soul hunter can't leave, even if his ship was in working order, the ways off the station are too well guarded. Sinclair mentions that Delenn told him they were drawn to death. The more important the person about to die, the stronger the pull. Ivanova says if that is the reason the soul hunter is hiding, then they just need to figure out who is about to die.

The soul hunter makes his way through the ship, meeting up with an alien called N'Grath, who resembles a giant preying mantis. He asks if N'Grath knows who he is and gets an affirmative response. He says he wishes to buy a guide, someone to show him all of the secret ways of the station, places to hide and to run, ways in and ways out. N'Grath calls this difficult, requires level five security, so Earthers only. He says it will be extremely expensive and the soul hunter cannot afford it. The soul hunter says he must. There is a soul about to be lost and he will not allow it to happen.

Meanwhile, as many alien vessels as can are getting the heck out of dodge. Ivanova is supervising their departures when they pick up another ship arriving through the jumpgate. Nothing is scheduled for arrival and another soul hunter ship comes through. Sinclair has Ivanova patch him through to the new soul hunter. Realizing they know who and what he is he says he needs to dock immediately, someone is about to die. Sinclair asks what happens if they refuse to allow him on the station and he answers then more will die. Sinclair gives him approval and asks who he is there to see. He says he is there to see Sinclair, and quickly, before it is too late.

The original soul hunter skulks about the ship, sneaking up behind a human guard.

Garibaldi intercepts Sinclair on his way to meet the new arrival and tries to talk the Commander out of it. Sinclair will not be dissuaded. He picked up on something in the second soul hunter's tone that convinced him that the meeting is necessary. They meet up with him and he says he has come to warn him about his brother that is on the station. He fears that his brother is deeply disturbed and says that someone is about to die, and at his hands.

Delenn is in her quarters speaking with someone on a monitor. Her door beeps and she calls out for the visitor to enter without turning around. It opens and the soul hunter walks in. He says that he has come for her, calling her Satai Delenn, and that he will save her soul at any cost. She turns, startled to find him there.

The new soul hunter rides in an elevator with Garibaldi and Sinclair and explains to them that his brother had been tasked with saving as many Minbari souls as possible during the war with Earth. But whenever he tried to do so, he always was stopped or arrived too late. He was very fragile, the second soul hunter explains, and after their order was disgraced he became obsessed with the fear of losing souls. He claimed one day to have found a solution to the problem and vanished. They ask what his solution was and the second soul hunter explains that his brother decided to stop waiting for death. When he finds a soul worth preserving, he now means to kill those people himself. The second soul hunter explains they have been hunting his brother for some time. They almost captured him a few times but failed. Garibaldi receives a call from security that a guard in Green 2 has been found stunned. Sinclair remarks that Green 2 is the ambassadorial wing and they realize that Delenn is in danger.

Delenn lies unconscious, strapped to a table, and the soul hunter says that she and the others stopped him. They shamed him before his brothers and his failure to preserve Dukat was a horrible loss and waste. He says there must be balance for that failure. As a member of the Grey Council, Delenn's soul will make up for losing Dukat. He says he will be gentle, she will hardly feel it when her body dies. He fires up his soul-capturing machine. Delenn begins to wake, crying out in objection to the soul hunter. He orders her to be quiet tells her he could just take her soul, just rip it from her body. This would damage the soul however. A peaceful death and a clean transfer would be for the best. He doesn't wish her to feel any discomfort. His plan seems to be to puncture an artery and drain her blood. Yeah, death by exsanguination, that sounds comfortable.

Sinclair and Garibaldi get to Delenn's quarters and find her gone. The second soul hunter laments that they are too late. At least his brother can't escape this time, he says, cheering up a little. They will bring him back after the death. Sinclair barks that there isn't going to be any death. The soul hunter tells him apologetically that it's inevitable. He can sense the death and a soul hunter is never wrong. Sinclair says if he can sense the pending death, he can guide them to his brother and Delenn.

Delenn draws closer to death and the soul hunter says she is far enough gone that he can now catch a glimpse of her soul. He looks into the orb he has set up for her. He looks back at her, saying, "You have planned such a thing? You would do such a thing? Incredible." Sinclair get close and calls out for Delenn. Hearing him, the soul hunter turns around and pulls his stolen gun, muttering, "not again." The soul hunter fires at Sinclair who returns fire and manages to hit him. Sinclair approaches cautiously and the soul hunter lunges out from the shadows, slamming him up against the wall, his hand wrapped around his throat. He demands to know why Sinclair fights so hard to save Delenn. "She is Satai!" he exclaims, adding that he has seen her soul and "they are using" Sinclair. He tosses Sinclair aside and Sinclair lands next to the bag of souls. They begin to glow and float to surround the soul hunter. He calls to them, "my children!" seeming to fear what he is hearing from them. He swears he never meant any harm and begs them to listen to him. Sinclair takes advantage of his distraction to turn the soul-capturing machine on the soul hunter. His soul is extracted and he collapses. Sinclair manages to revive Delenn.

Later Sinclair goes to check on her in the med bay and Franklin says she is doing quite well. Losing so much blood would have killed a human but the Minbari seem to be made of stronger stuff. He asks Sinclair what he saw when he fought the soul hunter and Sinclair is reluctant to say, unsure of what actually happened. Delenn wakes up momentarily and seeing Sinclair says she knew he would come. She adds that they were right about him. When he asks her to elaborate she falls back asleep. Franklin says that's normal for her stage of recovery. Whatever she has to say she can say later. Sinclair says he doubts very much she will finish that sentence.

Back in his quarters Sinclair calls to his computer to do a search on the Minbari language. He tries to remember the word he wants and then asks it to search "Satai." The computer says it is an honorific, a title applied to a member of the Grey Council, the ruling body of the Minbari. Sinclair wonders why a member of the Minbari ruling council would be assigned to serve as an ambassador on the station.

Sinclair later escorts the second soul hunter off the station. He says Delenn is expected to make a full recovery and the soul hunter agrees, saying he would sense if it was going to go differently. Sinclair has a parting message for the soul hunter and his brothers. Babylon 5 is off limits to them. He acknowledges that he knows they are only doing what they think right but he can't allow it on his watch or on his station. The soul hunter understands, saying they are rarely welcome. It is just part of who they are. He bids Sinclair goodbye but stops to ask what happened to his brother's collection. Sinclair replies that life is full of mysteries and suggests the soul hunter consider this one of them.

We then see Delenn in her quarters with the souls, joyfully releasing each of them from captivity.


Heh. So, remember on Monday when I was griping that we got so little of an introduction to Delenn in the first episode? I totally forgot that was because the second episode is pretty much all about her. I mean, yes, we get the introduction of Doctor Franklin, which is cool, but it is very much integrated into Delenn's story here.

There are really two big things set up by this episode, at least to me. The first is the reverence that Minbari have for souls. Their cultural belief is that when they die their souls rejoin all of the other Minbari souls currently being used and it is from that stuff that the souls of each new Minbari born are made. It is an interesting spin on rebirth and past lives. It is immediately obvious why such a belief would put their race at complete odds with that of the soul hunters on a fundamental level.

Granted, the soul hunters are just kind of creepy and we see that they are more or less unwanted by all of the other alien races as well. Part of me feels like maybe they get a bad rap. Delenn was going on about how everyone on the station was in danger while the soul hunter was there, but that doesn't seem to be how it actually works. It seems to me that the deaths the soul hunters are drawn to will happen whether they are there or not. They are not (usually) the cause of that death. There is probably some kind of argument to be made here about the implications of knowing future events and predestination v. free will, but I am not sure I am the person to make it. I do think it is kind of unfair that they seem to get blamed whenever such a death occurs, then. On the other hand, whatever their beliefs regarding the rightness of their "preservation" of souls, they are still profiting from the deaths of others. I can see where people mourning the loss of a loved one, or a public figure (as many of these preserved souls are indicated to be) would resent the vulture-like nature of the soul hunters and see their presence as an intrusion upon their grief and disrespectful of the dead. So, yeah. Basically just a super creepy concept all around.

So this episode introduces us to the Minbari's belief about what happens to their souls and the importance they place on such constructs. I love the way it is done and that it is presented as something of a one-off episode. Granted, there's really no such thing in this series. But I know damn well that I had no idea after the first time I watched this just how important that belief about souls would come to play in so many events throughout the series (both in the future and the past of these characters).

The second big thing established is the mystery of Delenn. She is serving as an ambassador for her people on this space station operated by a people her own almost obliterated not ten years past. While it is natural that a representative of some stature within the culture fill such a position, it does seem a little bit strange that a member of their own governing body would be chosen. Even more so that she would hide that facet of her identity from those on the station and the council. So. There's intrigue afoot. Awesome! Even more, we learn that Delenn was present at the death of her people's leader Dukat. We've only gotten a few hints at this so far, but the death of Dukat was huge turning point in the Earth-Minbari war. It was pretty much a crucial moment in the history of both races. So, Delenn having been there, it is a pretty important little fact to have handy.

There is also the bit about the soul hunter seeing that she has apparently planned and possibly intends to do something very out of character for her people. This coupled with his warning to Sinclair that she is using him, and her kind of out of it comment so Sinclair that "they" were right about him...well. These are things we should be making note of, eh?

Favorite Quotes

"This is not a clear and present danger? I must read the rule book again." (Ivanova)

"It's all so brief, isn't it? Typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years. But it's barely a second compared to what's out there. Wouldn't be so bad if life didn't take so long to figure out. Seems you just start to get it right and then...it's over." (Franklin)
"Doesn't matter. If we lived two hundred years we'd still be human. We'd still make the same mistakes." (Ivanova)
"You're a pessimist?" (Franklin)
"I am Russian, doctor. We understand these things." (Ivanova)

"I really hate it when you get heroic. It cuts into my business. A man's gotta earn a living, you know." (Garibaldi)


That wraps up today. Thanks for stopping by. Please join us again on Monday for the next episode, "Born to the Purple."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Maybe Too Much Progress

I think right now I am in one of those yarn-related funks where I am getting stuff done but it really doesn't feel like it because my efforts are spread out among too many projects. Currently I have three things in the works: the dragon blanket, my Color Affection shawl, and an impromptu project for my kiddo.

Dragon blanket in progress.

This is actually coming along a lot better than I had hoped for, I am just kind of stalled out at the moment because of another project. The two panels with the dragons, which is the actual finicky part of the blanket, is sixty rows. I have done twelve already. I can do at least six in a day (when I actually get to sit down and work on it). After that it's just twenty more rows of the stripes and the border. Easy peasy. It's just a matter of actually doing it.

For the record, I am really pleased with how the dragons seem to be turning out thus far. I mean, I know that's their tails but I can see how it will play out, I think, and it will rock. I was a little worried since my sample swatch was in half-double crochet and I am doing the blanket in double crochet. But the change doesn't seem to have messed anything up.

Dimensions in Space in progress.

So here's my shawl. I was going to try to finish it before starting the dragon blanket but I kind of got a little burned out and had to take a break from it. I've got maybe ten rows left in the second section and then I get to start the "short" rows, which sound fabulous to me! I have a wedding to go to in October and the goal is to have this finished by then so I can wear it. We shall see if that happens. I think if I can do a few rows a week on it at least, and maybe give it a full week in between each big project, that will be doable.

Cuddle Up blanket in progress.

(Now with cat tail for scale!)

This one is kind of the current distraction. I am hoping to get it done today though, actually. We've been having some issues with my daughter's sleep patterns and I have been trying out some new strategies to get her back on track. This is one of them. Since she quit sucking her thumb, she has lost her trigger to make herself go to sleep without just running herself until she keels over. My thought is that if she has a special blanket that she can grab whenever she is starting to feel sleepy but doesn't want to get in bed yet, that might help the transition a little bit. But you can see why this one has kind of taken priority.

Anyhoo, it's just a big granny square. I had four skeins leftover from my last blanket so I am using those up. Quick and easy. Well, it would be, if life wasn't being so distracting. For some reason I have been having a hard time finding a chance to just sit for an hour or two each day to actually play with my yarn. It's been sporadic at best. But my goal for this week is to work on that. A Cori who doesn't get her allotted yarn-play time is really not a happy Cori, after all.

Also, for those wondering about the yarn circle, last week's meeting saw much progress! We managed to move on to single crochet and both of my friends seem to be getting the hang of it. With practice it should become completely natural to them. We are skipping a week since I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday, but we'll kick off August right with our next session. Should be fun times.

Monday, July 23, 2012

B5 Rewatch: "Midnight on the Firing Line"

Alright, folks. Welcome to the kickoff installment of the Babylon 5 Rewatch! Today's episode is "Midnight on the Firing Line." So, without further ado, here we go!

Spoilers spoilers spoilers!

What Happened

In a space station orbiting a planet a Watch Commander reports for duty. Before the soldier he is relieving can leave, he picks up a reading on his equipment and declares that a jump point is forming. We see a shot of the space outside and several ships arrive and begin attacking. One of the men calls out for them to alert Centauri Prime that they are under attack and then the ship is destroyed.

On the space station Babylon 5 a woman hails a man she calls Garibaldi, who is head of security for the station, and asks if he has seen the Commander. She remarks that she has been trying to contact him on her link but has received no answer. Garibaldi tells her that means the Commander is probably on the observation deck. He remarks that the woman is new to the station and explains that the Commander only turns his link off for ten minutes each day, and when he does, that is where she will find him. She seems puzzled at this, pointing out that there is unlikely to be anyone there at this hour and Garibaldi hints that is the point. The woman nods and leaves while another man (with spectacular hair matching that of those doomed souls from the previous scene) calls out to Garibaldi loudly. Garibaldi seems less than pleased to see him.

The woman tracks down the Commander and tells him they have a problem.

Garibaldi walks with the man we saw approaching him, calling him Londo, who is asking for Garibaldi to trust him. Garibaldi is not very inclined to do so. He reminds Londo that the first time humans met his people, the Centauri (their first extraterrestrial contact), they were less than truthful. The Centauri said they controlled a vast empire of planets, but it turned out that had fallen a hundred years previously. They also claimed that humans were a lost tribe of the Centauri and that they were were distantly related species, but subsequent testing of Centauri DNA revealed that the species are not related at all. Outward appearances aside, they are completely different. Londo shrugs this off.

A young Centauri approaches them, calling out for Londo, addressing him as Ambassador. He seems to have something urgent to say. Londo introduces him to Garibaldi as Vir, his "diplomatic staff." Vir tells Londo that their agricultural colony Ragesh 3 is under attack from an unknown enemy.

(Since it's the first episode, I'll include some of the info from the opening credits: They tell us about the time and place, the year 2258, ten years after the Earth-Minbari war. The station is a place set up for different alien races to meet, live, and work together with the goal of preventing another war of the same kind. It is called their "last, best hope for peace.")

Londo meets with Commander Sinclair and demands to know what he is going to do about the attack on his colony. The woman who tracked down the Commander (Lieutenant Commander Ivanova) says they've only just learned about the attack and asks Londo what his homeworld, Centauri Prime, has to say about it. Londo admits he hasn't been able to make contact with them yet. Ambassadors from two more races arrive and say they have just heard about the attack. Londo suspects that one of them, G'Kar, might know something about the attacks, but he protests innocence. The other asks for information about the colony but Londo says there is nothing to tell. It's an agricultural world, five thousand unarmed inhabitants. Commander Sinclair suggests everyone contact their governments to see if any of them have more information and then he will call for a session of the council and the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. He promises to do what he can to help.

Garibaldi finds Ivanova on the bridge. She tells him she has picked up a distress call from an Earth-registered ship. Garibaldi says he'll grab a fighter and go check it out. One of the soldiers pipes up that they've just lost the signal. Garibaldi curses and races out. A woman comes in and addresses Ivanova, introducing herself as Talia Winters, a licensed telepath. She says that her Psi Corps rating is P5 and she was just assigned to the ship a few weeks ago. Ivanova pretty much ignores her and Talia points out that regulations require her to log in with the ship's second in command but she has been unable to make contact with Ivanova since her arrival. Ivanova brushes her off, saying they can handle it later, she's busy. Talia leaves, disgruntled.

Garibaldi leads a squadron of fighters (Delta) as they head out to check on the distress signal.

Ivanova stops by Sinclair's quarters, where he is doing paperwork and listening to the news. She asks if there is any word yet from Earth Central about the Centauri problem. Sinclair says no, and that worries him. She asks if he has any suspicions on who is behind the attack. Could it be the Narn or the Minbari? Sinclair says it definitely isn't the Minbari. They are too honorable for a sneak attack. Ivanova is surprised to hear him describe them thusly, he apparently fought them in the war. He says that the best way to understand someone is to fight them. He explains that his observations of the Minbari tell him they aren't behind this.

She then asks if there is any word on the presidential election back on Earth. He says it's going to be close and asks who she will be voting for. She says she will vote for Marie Crane. She doesn't like the current president, Luis Santiago. He has no chin, which she thinks speaks of a weak leader. With that observation, she leaves.

Vir finds Londo in his quarters and says that their homeworld is relaying a coded transmission from Ragesh 3. It is a video feed of the arrival of the attackers and the fight until the station was destroyed. After it cuts out Londo has Vir reverse the footage and zoom in on the attacking ships. He sees one and declares it a Narn heavy fighter. He is very angry, cursing G'Kar (the Narn ambassador), who claimed to know nothing.

Delta finds the ship that sent out the distress signal. It is floating abandoned in space, having been severely damaged and stripped down. Garibaldi orders them to recover its black box and return to the station to try to figure out what happened.

Londo seeks out G'Kar, who greets him warmly enough and offers to share his food. Londo spits on it. He tells G'Kar his people will not get away with the attack. G'Kar says he just found out it was sanctioned by his  government. He says he is sure there is a reasonable explanation. Londo claims there could be none for attacking a colony of innocents. G'Kar snarks that it's funny, his people thought the same thing when the Centauri invaded them and remarks that the wheel does turn. At this civility breaks down between the two and they start physically fighting until they are separated by security. G'Kar exclaims to Londo that his people's time has come and gone. It is the time of the Narn now.

Later, Londo receives Sinclair in his quarters and apologizes for the incident. He says it will not be repeated. But he does say that he will kill G'Kar though. Somewhere and some time else. He explains to Sinclair that his people have a curious trait. During their lives they will have a dream of how and when they are to die. Londo says in his it is twenty years from now and he is dying, locked in a struggle with another, their hands around each other's throats, squeezing the life out of each other. He says that G'Kar is the one from his dream. Sinclair says twenty years is a long time, long enough for the Narn and Centauri to come to an understanding with one another. Londo says perhaps. But perhaps not.

Sinclair gets down to business and says he thinks they have a chance to put together a coalition against the Narn attack. Londo says they need to stop them while they still can. He reveals that his nephew Carn was in the Centauri military, against Londo's better judgement. To keep his nephew safe, Londo arranged a position for him as a researcher on Ragesh 3. He doesn't know if he is alive or dead. Sinclair offers sympathy but says they need to keep the situation from escalating to war, else they will be giving the Narn exactly what they want. He reminds him that Babylon 5 exists expressly to give them a chance at peace. Londo scoffs and says that galactic peace is just a fantasy, one he grows weary of. He says all that matters is blood, that it calls out for blood. If his nephew is dead, there will be war, even if it is the last thing he manages to do. He swears it.

Ivanova finds Garibaldi wolfing down dinner. He tells her about the supply ship. There were fifteen bodies on board and it's one of the biggest ships the raiders have hit yet. He also points out that the routes for those ships are kept secret specifically because of raiders, which Ivanova realizes suggests a leak. He says he'll see if he can find anything out. As they speak, Talia enters and begins to approach them. Seeing Talia out of the corner of her eye, Ivanova orders Garibaldi to keep her informed of his progress and makes a hasty exit. Talia watches her leave with a look of annoyance.

Sinclair enters a chamber and presses an intercom, asking an Ambassador Kosh (of the Vorlon) if he may see him. There is a beep of assent and Sinclair dons a gas mask before entering the next room. It is filled with a swirling gas and he makes note of an empty atmosphere suit on a stand. From behind a screen, he watches a bobbing light and the disembodied voice of Kosh greets him. Sinclair notes that Kosh didn't come to the council room earlier and asks if his people have opinion on the current situation. Kosh doesn't answer. Sinclair asks if he will attend the emergency meeting. Kosh says yes and quicker than Sinclair can see, he dons the suit so that he may leave his quarters. Kosh tells Sinclair, "They are alone. They are a dying people. We should let them pass." Sinclair asks if he means the Narn or the Centauri and Kosh only responds with "yes."

Ivanova arrives on the bridge to find Garibaldi at her station. He says he is trying to find out who knew about the route for the supply ship. She asks if he has any leads and he tells her he might.

Vir goes to get Londo ready for the emergency council session and finds him drunk and refusing to go. Vir asks him why he is acting like that. Londo says he's finally had word from his government and that they have decided to do nothing in response to Ragesh 3. It is too far away, to small, too unimportant to risk confrontation. By the time their ships would arrive, everyone would be dead anyway. He curses the government. Vir asks if that means they are canceling the council meeting. Londo says no. In fact, he tells Vir not to repeat a word of what he just told him. As far as the rest of the council is concerned, they have heard nothing from Centauri Prime. Londo thinks that if they act quickly enough, with the rest of the council's help, they can embarrass their government into action. Vir worries about repercussions but agrees to comply in the wake of Londo's rage.

Talia enters an elevator with Garibaldi. She asks him if he has any idea what she's done to piss off Ivanova. He tells Talia that Ivanova takes some time to warm up to people, especially when she's working. He tells her that after her shift, Ivanova usually stops by the casino to wind down and suggests that Talia join her there and try to talk to her. Talia thanks him for the advice. As she steps out of the elevator he invites her to join him in his quarters afterwards so he can show her his favorite thing in the universe. She smirks for a second and walks off without answering.

G'Kar finds Sinclair taking a moment of quiet in a garden. He remarks that he too likes to take a walk in the green before battle. He tells Sinclair that before the Centauri stripped his world bare it was all green. Sinclair asks if now they plan to return the favor. G'Kar thinks that in his position the humans would do the same. He reminds Sinclair that the Narn provided weapons to the humans in their war with the Minbari. He thinks that the humans owe the Narn for that support. Sinclair disagrees, saying that the Narn would have helped anyone with the money to pay for it. He says the humans do have plenty of experience with sneak attacks though and that the are the resort of a coward. He accuses the Narn of not even having the decency to pick a military target. G'Kar bristles at the accusation but does not dispute it.

Garibaldi finds Sinclair and tells him they've got trouble. He has figured out how the raiders have been tracking the supply ships they've been attacking. Someone cracked the data bank of a company that had sold jumpgate access to the shipping companies that used all of the routes that have been hit so far. Only one ship is left from that set of routes that hasn't been hit yet. He says it is due out of hyperspace in six hours, and it is carrying refugees, over 500 people. If the raiders get there before they do, those people will die.

Sinclair fights with a senator about the upcoming council meeting. The senator thinks that he has overstepped the line and wants him to delay the vote until after the presidential election. He is worried that if the council votes to go to war against the Narn it will screw up things on Earth. He says the Earth Alliance can't be the galaxy's policemen. He further says that if Sinclair truly cannot delay the vote, he has been ordered to abstain. Sinclair argues that will hurt the Centauri case. If Earth pulls out of the vote to support the Centauri, so will others. The senator dismisses this as not that problem and reiterates the order, then cuts off the communication.

Ivanova comes in to update the Commander on Garibaldi's mission to stop the raiders. Delta is standing by  ready to intercept the raiders. Sinclair says he hopes that they are well-armed, considering Garibaldi's reports about what the raiders are packing. A thought occurs to him and he tells Ivanova to order Garibaldi to stand down, he is going to take his place for the mission. Ivanova asks if she should postpone the council meeting and Sinclair says no. If he's there, he'll have to do something he doesn't want to do, but if it goes on without him Ivanova can take his place and lead the vote. He says just follow the agenda. She asks if there are any further instructions and he says no. He wasn't able to find her before the vote, he tells her, so she's never heard anything about Earth Central's orders and the last she heard they were voting for sanctions. Ivanova acknowledges this and heads out.

Sinclair takes a fighter and heads out with Delta. They jump to the point where the raider attack is anticipated.

Ivanova calls the council to order, calling for a vote on sanctions against the Narn regime. She sits at a table with Londo, Kosh, and the Minbari Ambassador (Delenn). G'Kar strides in front of the table, arguing his case. He reminds the council that before the Centauri conquered his people Ragesh 3 was a Narn world. Now that they are free of Centauri rule they have a right to reclaim it. Delenn responds that they recognize the prior claim but points out that the reality is that Ragesh 3 has been property of the Centauri for over a hundred years. She asks what is to be truly won by stirring up such cold blood now. Where does it end? She calls it a "cycle of hatred" and G'Kar argues that it is justice. He claims that the Narn have no desire to start a war.

Delta arrives at the target spot and confirm sighting of raider ships attacking the supply ship. They lock weapons and move in for their attack.

G'Kar continues to argue his case, explaining that this "attack" was meant to be the peaceful liberation of Ragesh 3. He says that the Narn did not fire first and that he can prove it. He pulls up a video with a live broadcast from Ragesh 3 that he says will clarify the situation. The screen shows a young Centauri man. He is Carn Mollari, Londo's nephew. Londo is shocked to see him alive. Carn says that over the last six months there have been many outbreaks of violent conflict between colonists. They asked for assistance from Centauri Prime but received no response, so they next asked for assistance from the neighboring Narn regime. Londo doesn't believe it. Carn continues, saying they have chosen of their own free will to ally with the Narn government. They wish to maintain social and economic ties to Centauri Prime in the interest of continued peace. He signs off, leaving the council in stunned silence.

Londo tries to argue that Carn was forced to make that statement. He implores the council to see what's really going on. G'Kar says if they are speaking of lies they should talk about Londo's lie of omission. He asks him about the decision by Centauri Prime to take no action in response to the "liberation" of Ragesh 3. When Londo admits that is the case, G'Kar demands to know why Londo still asks the council to take action that his own government considers inappropriate. He accuses Londo of using the council to carry out personal vendettas and moves that the council dismisses all charges.

Delta gets its attack of the raiders underway and orders them to surrender or be destroyed. They respond with weapons fire. Delta manages to chase the raiders off. Sinclair breaks the squadron up, leaving half behind to guard the supply ship. He takes the rest to finish off the raiders. His men are surprised when he goes in the opposite direction of the fleeing raiders but he suspects a ruse. He is proven correct when they find the raider's base ship hidden in an asteroid field.

In his quarters Londo pulls pieces off of several objects and assembles them into a small gun. He looks speculative and says to himself, "Blood calls out for blood." Walking through the corridors, he bumps into Talia. As he takes her hand to steady her after their collision, she sees a vision of his intentions: to kill G'Kar. While she is still shocked from what she has seen, he makes his escape into the elevator. She tries to stop him but is too late and hurries in search of Garibaldi instead.

Garibaldi finds Londo and confronts him in the corridor. He orders him back to his quarters. Londo says Garibaldi doesn't understand. Garibaldi responds that he understands better than Londo can ever know. Londo is worried that his nephew is still in danger and Garibaldi reminds him that if Londo kills G'Kar everyone on the colony will be killed. Londo comes to his senses and agrees to stand down. He mutters that it appears he is still on target for his appointment twenty years from now. Garibaldi says in an hour he will be by to search Londo's quarters for weapons. Londo had better make sure he doesn't find any. As Londo turns to leave, he stops to ask if Garibaldi would really have killed him and Garibaldi responds in the affirmative. Garibaldi further says that he's glad he didn't have to though, since the paperwork's a pain in the ass. Londo smirks and leaves.

G'Kar is called before Ivanova and she tells him they have a problem, and it is him. G'Kar starts to sputter in confusion and Sinclair appears, saying they tracked the raiders to their base and found a Narn aboard. He remarks that he has been wondering where the raiders were getting their heavy weapons and then he remembered his earlier conversation with G'Kar about the Narn's willingness to do business with anyone who can pay. The Narn government always provides an advisor to make sure that their customers can operate the weapons (and don't sell them to anyone else). In addition to the Narn on the base, they also found a stash of data crystals containing reports between Ragesh 3 and Narn Central Command. The reports confirm Londo's version of the attack on the colony, as well as that Carn was forced at gunpoint to make his statement to the council about willingly allying with the Narn. Sinclair tells G'Kar to tell his forces on Ragesh 3 to withdraw or they will take that evidence to the council.

Sinclair and Garibaldi stroll through the station discussing the happy resolution to both of their situations. Both Londo and Earth Central should be appeased. Garibaldi realizes he hasn't voted in the election yet and Sinclair urges him to go do that. Garibaldi agrees and says then he's off to his place, looking forward to his possible rendezvous with Talia.

Ivanova sits at a bar watching the news, where we learn that President Santiago is leading the vote by 12%. Talia arrives and orders a drink, then moves to sit next to her. Ivanova thanks her for helping earlier with Londo's botched assassination attempt. Talia says it was an accident really, she's trained to block out most normal stray thoughts. That one was just super powerful and hard to ignore though.

Ivanova then says she feels like she should explain her earlier behavior and acknowledges that she's been rude. Talia shrugs it off and says she just wondered what she had done. Ivanova says it's not her, it's what she represents. Her mother was a telepath. She kept it secret and wasn't trained. She asks if Talia was raised by the Corps and Talia says she was. Ivanova says that explains a few things and elaborates that when a telepath is discovered they are given three choices: join the Psi Corps, go to prison, or spend the rest of their lives taking drugs that inhibit their abilities. Talia says it's the law, necessary to protect the privacy of others. Ivanova asks Talia if she's ever seen the results of that law. Her mother was discovered at thirty-five and ended up taking the treatment. The drugs killed all of her personality, the "light in her eyes" went out, and eventually she killed herself. Talia says she is sorry for what happened and Ivanova says she knows it is not Talia's fault. But it is part of what Talia is. She thinks Talia is as much a victim as her mother. Talia says she doesn't feel like a victim and Ivanova acknowledges this, saying so far she doesn't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Talia suggests maybe they can try to start off on better terms and Ivanova says she very much doubts it.

Girabaldi, stood up by Talia, has found alternate company for the evening. He shares a bowl of popcorn with Ambassador Delenn and they watch some old Daffy Duck cartoons. Delenn seems enchanted by the show and it is clear they are having some innocent fun.

In his own quarters, Sinclair seems less than thrilled to learn that President Santiago has won the election for another term. A reporter lists his campaign promises to cut the budget and keep Earth out of war. She then goes on to explain his agenda that includes creating a closer relationship with the Mars colony and preserving Earth's cultures in the face of growing "non-Terran" influences. Sinclair turns off the television and heads to bed, only to receive a call from Ivanova that there is a problem.


Wow, so much information in this episode. First off, it serves as a more or less decent introduction to the major players for the series. We also get an idea of the primary races on the ship: Human, Centauri, Narn, Minbari, Vorlon. It is weird that Delenn is never even introduced here though, at least to me. She's such a big part of what I think of when I reflect on this series. I mean, she's there, we just don't get her name any idea of who she is outside of the Minbari Ambassador. Also, the only assistant we meet in this episode is Vir, which I find interesting.

But outside of introducing the setting and the races and the characters, we also get a lot of set up for the shape of things to come throughout the entire series (or at least the first four seasons, which is the initial arc that Straczynski had plotted out). A few things really stood out to me on this second viewing.

The conflict between Londo and G'Kar, and between Narn and Centauri, gets kicked off in a pretty big way. These conflicts are such a central part of the whole series, always in the background, even when there are bigger conflicts to be dealt with. Having vague hazy memories of how that plays out makes watching this initial set up absolutely fascinating.

Then there is Londo's death dream, starring G'Kar. That's...wow that's just a really captivating concept for me. I don't think I really want to have any idea beforehand how and when I am going to go out. I mean, on one hand it would be nice to be able to get my affairs in order and make sure my family would be taken care of after I'm gone. But...yeah. That's really the only upside I see of that. Actually having a vision of the specific moment constantly in my mind? No thank you. It does give these two characters a fascinating dynamic though, and we know right from the start that their fates are tied together. Considering how their relationship develops over the course of the series, I think this is really well done. I mean, they never actually become what I would call friends, but it's like Sinclair told Ivanova. To really know someone, fight them. These two spend years fighting each other, constantly, and by that logic they know each other better than anyone else in the universe. It's something to think about.

I do find it really intriguing that G'Kar comes across this early on as more of the villain and Londo as, not the hero exactly, but not the bad guy. Very interesting. Vir's bumbling cheerfulness aside, I think it's pretty well communicated throughout the show that the Centauri in general and Londo in particular (likable though he may be) are just shady. Sure, there are reasons for it, but, yeah. While I don't recall ever really warming up to the Narn as a race, G'Kar is one of my favorite characters from the series, and his character shapes up to be one of the most noble on the show if my memory isn't playing any tricks on me. It's just a very neat contrast with this first episode, to be sure.

The conversation between Talia and Ivanova. Wow. That sets up a lot too. The whole use and development of telepaths throughout the series is kind of a crazy ride. I like how just a few simple conversations between these two characters set the stage for how much of that will play out.

One last thing I noticed is that we see both Londo and Sinclair are prepared to ignore orders from their respective governments for the sake of what they each consider the greater good (though the definition of that for each of them may be wildly different). This right here I think is maybe one of the best displays of the mission statements for Babylon 5. Despite being an Earth-controlled station, Sinclair knows that he is going to have to weigh the needs of all of the other races in the galaxy against his superiors' political agendas. Londo's deception further illustrates that the other races aren't above using the station and the council to try to manipulate the other governments into doing their dirty work for them, which means that Sinclair (and his successors) will have to stay on their toes to make sure that peace and justice are the rule of the day.

I hope you wanted some politics in your drama, because boy are we going to get it. Delicious crazy alien politics!!

Favorite Quotes

"Until we finally got our hands on some Centauri DNA and find out we're not related at all. Appearances aside, we're two completely different species." (Garabaldi)
"A clerical error!" (Londo)
"Clerical error?" (Garibaldi)
"Yes! We thought your world was Beta 9, it was actually Beta 12." (Londo)

"Then you'll excuse me, but I'm in the middle of fifteen things, all of them annoying." (Ivanova)

"Believe as you wish. Twenty years from now one of us will be wiser and older. Or, one of us will be dead. Who's to say?" (Londo)

"I will confess that I look forward to the day when we've cleansed the universe of the Centauri and carved their bones into little flutes for Narn children. It is a dream I have." (G'Kar)
"Be careful Ambassador. Not every dream I've heard lately ends well for you." (Sinclair)

"Well, that's why we have the Psi Corps, to help telepaths. Bring out their talents to the fullest." (Talia)
"Yes, I imagine that's what they told you." (Ivanova)


A note about the quotes, really quick: I am doing my darnedest to make them accurate, but I haven't been able to find anywhere that has the episodes transcribed, and I have already noticed that the subtitles on my DVDs are not 100% accurate. So, I apologize if I misword anything, but I am going to try hard to capture what is said correctly.

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you back here Wednesday for the next episode, "Soul Hunter."