In a comfortable office in the Earth Embassy on Minbar, a man is listening to a message from an old friend. He is middle-aged, with dark brown hair fading to gray that just brushes the collar of his shirt. His expression is one of pure concentration as he tries to read every nuance of the message. He is Jeffrey Sinclair, Earth Ambassador and secret leader of the Rangers.
The woman on the screen is Delenn, once of the Minbari Grey Council, and now the ambassador to Babylon 5. Her face is more readable now that she appears half-human, and at the moment it wears a troubled expression. She speaks of the war that is coming, their hope for victory, and what they must do to ensure that victory.
"Old friend, I fear that my judgement in this matter is--not entirely reliable. The captain has shown a great deal of courtesy to me at a time when many would not, and I confess that I--enjoy that courtesy. That is why I am asking you to make this decision. I know that your other contact here has told you a great deal about him, and for completeness's sake, I will tell you of the man I have seen. He is--more honorable than the Warriors would ever believe. Even though he is first a soldier, he has a spiritual side that sometimes emerges... He draws me, Jeffrey, and I do not know how to react to that.
"You know that his wife was killed on Z'ha'Dum. He still mourns her. But now... I sense a settling of his grief. He is laying her to rest, and starting to look ahead again. I do not think he realizes this yet. Kosh has told me that he plans to go to Z'ha'Dum and fight the Shadows, even though he would certainly die in the attempt. I believe that he would be a good ally in our fight, and with our support he may be able to strike a significant blow against the Shadows." She pauses, and look away for a moment. Her fingers brush her long hair restlessly.
"Kosh will not say why he has agreed to teach the captain, but I suspect he senses the same thing I do--that John has the potential to be--much more than he is. After several long discussions with him, I believe that he has at least some portion of a Minbari soul. He accepts our traditional beliefs, and understands them. He knows honor, by living it, and he encourages this quality in his staff, as you did. The captain does not give up, old friend, and he will not conform. Those traits give him an advantage over many Minbari. We have been taught that the Shadows are nearly invincible, and this inhibits our will to fight. He will not stop fighting until the Shadows are destroyed.
"Because of all of this, I feel that he is the right person to take charge of the new ship. But it is your decision, and if he does accept command, it will be on his terms, not yours, or mine. Please consider also that the Warrior caste will eventually learn of the ship, and who captains her. If he is in charge, it will fuel their anger. As will the news of her crew and the secrecy with which she was built.
"Valen go with you, my friend, and light your way."
The recording ended, and Sinclair sat back in his chair with a thoughtful look on his face. <She makes some good points,> he thought. <Sheridan does have a record of spectacular victories pulled from the teeth of defeat.> He stretched, then removed the data crystal from the port, considering it thoughtfully. <But I'm surprised that she seems to be falling in love with him. That could be a major complication.>
He stood up and slipped the crystal into a box on one of the other tables in the room, pressing a triangular button on the top. A red light blinked for a few moments, then turned green. He nodded in satisfaction and removed the now blank crystal, placing it in a drawer in his desk. Sinclair walked to the window overlooking a courtyard outside, and looked at the fountain there without really seeing it. The thoughts running through his mind claimed all his attention.
<If I give him the ship, the Warrior caste will go ballistic when they find out. He has duties on Babylon 5. His loyalty is to Earth. But he is a good fighter, a good commander. He takes care of his people. He wants the best for Earth. Our cause is beneficial to Earth. He is the best for the job. And I don't think we can afford to have someone second-best in a position like that. All right. It's his. And... that leads to the perfect name for the ship. White Star. A reminder of what we're fighting for.> His decision made, the leader of the Rangers turned back to his desk to draft the orders.
"Hello, old friend. Your judgement is better than you think, and I agree that he is the best captain for the ship. By the way, I finally decided on its name: White Star. With him as captain, and a crew of the Religious caste, it's doubly symbolic.
"You said he draws you... Delenn, is this going to cause a problem with your ambassadorial position? Both of our governments would frown on anything more than friendship between you. Follow your instincts, but be careful.
"Tell him about the Rangers, and the ship, when you feel the time is right. Michael will back you. I would ask, however, that you keep my name out of this for now. I want to see how he reacts to the news of a secret army first. Michael will probably just tell him that he promised a friend that he would keep our secret. Kosh... will undoubtedly be his usual enigmatic self about everything. If any of the others object, tell them it was my decision. I'll deal with them.
"The coordinates for the rendezvous point with the ship are at the end of this message. Give the crew as much time as you can to train. I want them as ready as possible when he takes command. They'll need to either learn English, or have a good translator on board. See if you can get him interested in learning Minbari, as well. Backup plans never hurt. Until later, my friend."