Garibaldi sat down and glared at the flimsies covering his desk. Next time I decide to take a 'vacation' for a few days, I'll have to get someone to deal with all the paperwork, he thought to himself. There's always too much to do as it is--I don't need to worry about filling out reports as well. And added to that, the reports on the Markab...
Garibaldi looked up and saw Zack standing at the door. "What is it, Zack?"
Zack shifted uncomfortably. "You know while you were on vacation?" he said nervously.
"Yeah," Garibaldi prodded.
"Well, the Captain asked me to help him deal with that Morden guy," Zack said, relaxing a bit. "Anyway, something really strange happened. We were getting some strange noises from the microphones in the cell, and the Captain asked me to fool around with the monitors, try other frequencies. And I think he saw something."
"What do you mean?" Garibaldi asked.
"Well, I was scanning the frequencies, and suddenly the Captain ordered me to stop. I did, and asked him what he'd seen. He replied 'Nothing', and then he paused for a moment, and said 'Shadows'. I thought you might want to know."
Garibaldi stared at Zack for a minute, his mind racing. 'Watch out for Shadows' Jeff warned me. Did that have anything to do with this?
"Thanks for telling me, Zack," he said slowly. "I'll check the records."
Zack nodded in acknowledgement. "OK, chief. Catch you later?"
"Yeah," Garibaldi agreed. "As soon as this is finished," he added, looking at the pile on his desk with disgust.
"I could almost think I'm lucky, not to have your job," Zack said with a grin, following the chief's gaze.
"Sure," Garibaldi muttered, fighting a grin himself.
Neither of them noticed that Jake Donalds, one of the other security officers, had been listening carefully to their conversation through the door.
Commander Ivanova glanced up as Ambassador Delenn paused by her table.
"Can I help you, Ambassador?" she asked.
Delenn looked at her for a moment, and Ivanova noticed that she seemed unaccountably nervous.
"Yes, Commander, perhaps you can," she said then. "I am in need of some advice."
"What sort of advice?" Ivanova asked, putting down her fork and gesturing for the ambassador to sit down.
Delenn remained standing. "I am curious about the human custom of celebrating one's date of birth," she replied. "I would like to learn more about it."
Ivanova noticed that Delenn was fingering a necklace of crystal that hung around her neck. She'd never seen the Minbari ambassador wear any jewelry before, aside from the metal ring on her right hand.
"Well, there's not really that much that I can tell you about it, Ambassador," she replied. "There are a number of different types of celebrations; it depends on where one comes from. Why?"
"Merely curiosity," Delenn replied, fingering the necklace again. "What is the most common?"
"Giving gifts, I suppose," Ivanova answered with a shrug. "It's more important to children than it is to adults--children have parties and treats and things, whereas adults might invite a few close friends to go out for dinner or something like that. And the person whose birthday it is gets presents from relatives and friends."
Delenn nodded. "Thank you, Commander," she replied, bowed slightly, and strode off. Ivanova watched her go, puzzled.
Jake Donalds paused in front of a door and glanced around the corridor. At this time of day, the corridors of Red 9 were always quiet and deserted, and he was glad to see that today was no exception. The last thing any of them needed was for him to be noticed.
He pressed the entry bell at the side of the door and waited.
A moment later, a voice said, "Yes?"
The door slid open quietly and Jake entered, taking in everyone else in the room with a glance.
Greenway, their liaison with Entil'zha, was leaning against the counter holding a glass of water in one hand. He was in full uniform: the brown tunic, pants, and cloak, along with the brooch that identified them. Seated on the couch across from him was a young woman, also in full uniform. Next to her was a Free Trader whom Jake knew to be one of their most important sources of information.
And, to Jake's surprise, standing impatiently in one corner of the room was the Moon Shield Sherann, the Minbari warrior who was second-in-command of Entil'zha's security detachment.
"Well?" Greenway demanded, as soon as the door had closed.
"Zack told him," Jake replied. "I haven't the slightest idea what he'll do with the information, especially considering the Markab situation, but he does know."
"Now, Sherann has something to tell us."
The warrior stepped forward, drawing all their eyes to her. "He is coming here," she declared.
Everyone else stiffened in shock; they all knew to whom she was referring.
"Coming here?" Greenway asked in disbelief.
"Yes." Sherann held out a data crystal. "Here are the orders from both himself and Kozorr. You are to inform Ambassador Delenn, and only Ambassador Delenn; Mr. Garibaldi is not to be told."
Sheridan sighed as he headed toward the council chambers. Another day of listening to Londo and G'Kar argue wasn't exactly high on his list of favorite things to do, and the fact that they would would also be arguing with the League, well, it was a guaranteed recipe for a headache.
He entered the chambers, noticed that the League ambassadors were all there, noticing as well the empty seat that Ambassador Fashir had sat in, and then stopped in surprise. Seated in Ambassador Delenn's seat was Lennier, and Delenn was nowhere in sight.
"Mr. Lennier, where is Ambassador Delenn?" Sheridan asked.
Lennier looked up at him. "Ah, Captain, it is good to see you," he replied calmly. "I am afraid that Ambassador Delenn is quite busy with other matters at the moment, and has requested that I take her place on the council for this meeting."
Sheridan sighed. "I mean no offense, Lennier, but I do think that Delenn really should be here. This meeting is very important; surely it's at least as important as whatever else she might be occupied with."
"I am afraid not, Captain," Lennier replied, as Ambassador Mollari walked in. "She is occupied with a matter of gravest importance."
Before Sheridan could respond to that, Ambassador G'Kar strode in, waving a number of flimsies, and began to shout at Londo. Sheridan sat down with a silent, and heavy, sigh. It seemed that it was going to be another one of those days.
Ambassador Delenn was at that moment in her quarters, waiting for her StellarCom communication to go through. She just hoped that Rathenn would agree to take the call.
Then the screen flickered, and the Chosen One's face appeared.
"Delenn," he said, with a nod of his head.
Delenn bowed, and then sat back upright.
"Is there some important reason for you to have called, Delenn?" he asked.
"Yes," Delenn replied calmly, though her fingers brushed against the crystal necklace she wore. "There is a very important reason.
"I wish to know why you have agreed to permit Ambassador Sinclair to come to Babylon 5," she declared.
The Chosen One's face showed surprise. "What do you mean, Delenn? I have agreed to no such thing."
"I have just received word through the Rangers that he will be coming here--it was Sherann who informed them of this. According to what I have been told, he will be arriving here within the next few days."
Her friend's face took on a thoughtful look. "Sherann would not have done anything without Kozorr's agreement," he said. "So Ambassador Sinclair must have convinced Kozorr in some way.
"I will speak with them, and get back to you, Delenn."
The screen went blank as the communication was terminated from the other end. Delenn's mouth tightened, and she fingered the necklace. What was Jeffrey doing?
Sheridan sat down next to Garibaldi, rubbing his forehead as he put his tray on the table.
"Something wrong, Captain?" Garibaldi asked, as Ivanova and Dr. Franklin joined them.
Sheridan shook his head. "Just a bit of a headache," he replied, waving his hand dismissively. "We still haven't managed to find a solution to the problems that the League is having with the Narns and the Centauri, and G'Kar and Londo spent the entire session accusing each other's government of having started the fighting near the trade gates. And to make things worse, Ambassador Delenn wasn't there to act as the voice of reason--I was too busy trying to shut G'Kar and Londo up."
"Delenn wasn't there?" Ivanova asked.
"That's right. Lennier told me that she was busy with 'a matter of gravest importance'. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to ask him what he meant by that--G'Kar came in at that moment, and the shouting started."
"Sounds wonderful," Garibaldi commented, taking a bite out of his sandwich.
"Well..." Garibaldi began, and then trailed off as Lou Welch came up.
"What is it, Lou?"
"Zack's got someone who wants to see you, chief," Lou answered.
"Okay," Garibaldi replied, getting up. "See ya later," he added to the others, as he followed Lou out.
"So how has your morning been, Commander?" Sheridan asked.
"Not too bad," Ivanova answered with a shrug. "It's been fairly quiet. The only problem is that we've got ten ships scheduled to arrive within an hour this afternoon."
"Well, I'm sure you can handle that," Sheridan replied, picking up his tray and standing. "I've got to get back to the Council Chambers--I've got a session with Ambassadors Kalika and G'Kar in twenty minutes."
"Good luck!" Franklin said, and turned back to his lunch.
"Captain Sheridan was not pleased," Lennier said, picking up his cup of tea.
"That does not matter," Delenn answered firmly. "You are quite capable of representing us. Perhaps more so than I am."
"That's not true, Delenn," Lennier protested. "The Council did not remove you from your position as Ambassador."
She nodded absently and sipped at her tea.
There were a few minutes of comfortable silence, and then Lennier spoke again.
"Did you discover the meaning of the gift?" he asked, glancing at the crystal necklace now resting on the table.
"Apparently it is a human custom," Delenn replied. "Gifts are given to celebrate the day of one's birth."
"I see," Lennier replied. He paused for a moment. "That would explain the card, then."
"Yes, it would," Delenn replied.
She glanced at him. "What happened at the Council session?"
"Ambassadors Londo and G'Kar spent the entire time yelling at each other. Ambassador Kalika kept attempting to get them to discuss the trade route issue, but neither of them would listen. And Captain Sheridan spent the entire session attempting to out-yell, I believe the human term is, Londo and G'Kar."
"Yes; that is how the sessions have been going since the attack in Quadrant 14."
Delenn got up and began to pace back and forth.
"Lennier," she said abruptly, turning to face him, "I need you to do something for me."
"Of course. What is it you wish me to do?"
"So, Zack, where's this person who wants to see me?" Garibaldi asked, entering his office. Zack was sitting on the desk, looking at the monitors, and glanced up as Garibaldi spoke.
"He's in Holding Cell 12, Chief," he replied.
"Oh? Why there, and who is he and what does he want to see me about?" Garibaldi demanded, sitting in his chair.
Zack shrugged. "He's a lurker; he wanted to talk to you privately, and I figured that a Holding Cell would be just as good a place as any to have him wait. It's got chairs, and isn't as uncomfortable as your office. As for what he wants, he says there's something strange going on down in Grey 13, and he thinks you ought to know about it."
Garibaldi snorted. "There's always something strange going on in the Triangle, Zack. Nothing new about that."
"I don't know, Chief. He seemed to think that it was important."
"Does he have a name?"
"Yeah," Zack replied. "He said his name was Amis, that you'd know him."
"Amis?" Garibaldi repeated, blinking in surprise. "Are you sure of that?"
"Yes, of course I'm sure, Chief. That's what this guy told me. Why?"
"He's one of my contacts DownBelow," Garibaldi answered, frowning. "I can't imagine why... I'll go talk to him," he added, getting up. "You get back to handling things here."
Zack nodded in acknowledgement, and Garibaldi hurried out.
As Sheridan wandered by the customs area, in an effort to relax before he had to go up to C&C, he noticed Lennier studying a screen in the arrivals area.
"Can I help you with anything, Mr. Lennier?" Sheridan asked, walking over.
Lennier turned to look at him, and bowed slightly. "No, thank you, Captain," he replied. "I am almost finished."
"If you don't mind me asking, what are you doing here?" Sheridan queried, glancing at the screen the young Minbari had been studying. It had a list of ships scheduled to arrive over the next three days on it.
"I am engaged in research for Ambassador Delenn," Lennier replied calmly.
"Oh, that reminds me," Sheridan said. "Will the ambassador be at the next Council meeting?"
Lennier glanced over Sheridan's shoulder for a moment.
"I am uncertain, Captain," he replied, returning his gaze to Sheridan. "She is quite busy with something that is more important, to our people at least, than the problem of the trade routes. It is unfortunate, but her schedule is, at present, very changeable. With luck, she will be able to attend, but as I said, it is still uncertain."
"Well, I'd appreciate it if you could remind her that this is an important matter, and that she's the one who's best at controlling G'Kar and Londo's outbursts."
Lennier gave him a nod. "I will do that, Captain," he replied. "Now, I hope that you will excuse me; I have further duties."
"Of course," Sheridan replied, moving out of Lennier's way.
He then turned and watched as Lennier strode over to a tall Minbari warrior, and began speaking and gesturing with an urgency that Sheridan could literally sense. He frowned, wondering exactly what was going on.
Then his link beeped, and his frown changed to a look of consternation as he realized that he should have been in C&C a minute ago. Grumbling under his breath about his schedule, he raced for the transport tubes.
"Hi, Amis. My aide said you wanted to see me," Garibaldi said, walking into Holding Cell 12.
Amis, who was sitting on the bed, turned to look at him. "Yeah, I do," he answered.
"Well?" Garibaldi asked, grabbing the chair and turning it around so he could sit comfortably.
Amis shook his head. "There's something strange going on down in the Triangle, Garibaldi," he said. "Stranger than usual, that is."
"What is it?"
"I'm not certain," the other replied. "But it hasn't been that long since I was a GROPO, and from what I could see, it looks like someone's gathering the troops down there."
Garibaldi felt a cold lump begin to form in his stomach. "An army?" he said slowly.
Amis nodded. "Yeah, an army. You know, folks with guns running around killing each other? Not a big unit--not enough to be noticed, unless you know what you're lookin' at, and they're being careful, but I remember enough of what it was like to be fairly sure."
The cold lump grew bigger.
"You're certain? Do they have uniforms, or something like that?"
"Dunno 'bout uniforms; there are a couple of them who wear the same kinda clothes, but most of 'em dress normally."
Damnit! Garibaldi thought.
"Are they lurkers?"
Amis blinked at the question, obviously surprised. "Nope," he replied. "Well, maybe one or two of them, but they're mostly from topside--not the kind of folks who fit down here with the rest of us... And they're not all of them human."
"Really?" Garibaldi asked, feeling the cold lump ease just a bit. If they weren't all humans, then it wasn't Homeguard or one of the other Earth-Firster groups. That, at least, was a relief.
"Yeah, really. There are a couple of Minbari there as well. Mainly warriors; that's part of the reason I've tried to stay out of the way."
The cold lump vanished, but it wasn't replaced by relief. Humans and Minbari together could mean only one thing; or, rather, Garibaldi corrected himself, one thing that he was aware of. For all he knew about it, there could be a dozen more groups made of Humans and Minbari that he didn't know about. But his gut instinct said that he was right, and he trusted his gut instinct; at least, he trusted it more than he trusted most of the people around him.
"Did you see any of these uniforms?" he asked.
"Not clearly, no," Amis replied. "I thought I'd just better let you know about it, so that you could maybe do something about it, if necessary."
"Does anyone else know?"
Amis looked at him. "I'm not crazy, Garibaldi. Maybe a little confused... No one else knows; besides, who DownBelow would listen to me anyway, or give a damn about what I said if they did?"
Garibaldi frowned in thought for a moment. Whether his hunch was right or not, he knew he'd have to investigate, but that's where it got blurred.
If he was right, he couldn't take anyone else with him, and he wouldn't need to. If he was wrong--well, he'd better just hope he was right.
"Okay, thanks, Amis," he said, sighing. "Just one question; could you take me down there, show me where they are?" Since Amis already knows about them, this is the best compromise I can come up with between secrecy and safety, Garibaldi thought.
Amis shrugged carelessly. "Why not?"
Garibaldi nodded in agreement, and stood up. As they left the Holding Cell, he couldn't help wondering, What is Jeff up to?
Jeffrey Sinclair, Commander in Earth Force and presently the Earth Ambassador to Minbar, sighed as he sat down on the bed in his stateroom. He would arrive on Babylon 5 tomorrow, and he was likely going to have to face a very unhappy Delenn, something that he wasn't looking forward to. Nonetheless, he needed to go there; no one else could do this job. Unfortunately.
He would have liked to delegate it to someone else; he was all too likely to be recognized, which meant that he'd have to be extra careful. But he couldn't send one of the Minbari--they'd be too noticeable in DownBelow--and most of the human Rangers were either busy on other assignments, or already preparing things on B5. And in any case, this was his responsibility; he was the one who had to arrange the finishing touches.
Besides, he wanted to see Delenn and Garibaldi again.
Not that I'll be able to really talk to Michael, he thought ruefully, picking up the book he'd started earlier. After all, what would Mr. Davids, the agent for Ranging Ways Inc., have to talk about with the Chief of Security of Babylon 5?
And with the arrangements Kozorr had made, well, he probably wouldn't even get a chance to speak with Garibaldi. The schedule was go in, get everything set up, and leave as soon as possible. And Sinclair had a feeling that his head of security had added a little something to the orders that had gone to the Rangers on B5, to the effect that Garibaldi wasn't to be told of his visit. It would be all too like Kozorr to do that.
Sinclair sighed, leaned back against the wall, and began to read, hoping it would help make the time go faster.
Jake frowned as studied the small room in Grey 13. He didn't like DownBelow--none of the security officers did--but this was the only place on the station where they could be practically guaranteed privacy. And privacy was needed; they weren't ready to let everyone know what they were doing.
"We've got a problem, Jake," Greenway's voice said suddenly, from the door.
Jake turned with a sigh. "Another one?"
"This is slightly more serious," the other declared. "Mr. Garibaldi seems to be coming here, with a lurker."
Jake froze. The last thing they needed was to be brought to the attention of Security or the command staff, and, although Garibaldi knew some things about them, his discovery of what they were doing could be a disaster.
Greenway nodded in agreement with the thought on Jake's face. "We've got to do something to get him off the track, especially with what's happening tomorrow," he said.
"Then it's a major problem," Jake said, still feeling numb with surprise. "When he's got his teeth into something, the Chief doesn't give up."
"Yeah, so I've been told. He's a lot like Entil'zha that way," Greenway agreed. "But we've got no choice; we either get him sidetracked, or Kozorr'll be ready to kill us."
Jake grimaced. If Garibaldi did discover them, it was all too likely that he'd find out about the ambassador coming, and if that happened, Kozorr would kill them--no 'likely' about it. "What can we do?"
"That's just what I was going to ask you," Greenway replied with a shrug, coming into the room. "I've met Mr. Garibaldi a grand total of once; and although Entil'zha has told me about him, I don't know him. You, on the other hand, work with him."
"But that doesn't mean I know him," Jake protested.
"We've got to come up with something fast," Greenway said firmly. "We don't have that much time."
Garibaldi looked around carefully as he followed Amis into Grey Sector. He hated DownBelow. There was too much despair in the air; despair and hopelessness. It seemed to almost epitomize his life between the end of the war and his meeting Sinclair, especially since he'd ended up here when Lianna had accused him of the sabotage attempt on the station last year. He really hated DownBelow.
Just then, a figure caught his eye, and he stopped and stared. What the hell?
"Ah, Mr. Garibaldi," Lennier said, smiling as he walked up to Garibaldi and Amis.
"What are you doing here, Lennier?" Garibaldi growled.
"I am engaged in research for Ambassador Delenn," Lennier replied, still smiling. "She has become interested in the rumors that speak of Grey 13 as being an unusual area of the station, and it was decided that I would investigate."
Garibaldi gritted his teeth. Lennier's apparent naïvete grated on him, particularly considering the reputation of this part of the station. "This is a very dangerous area, Lennier," he said, trying to keep his own tone calm. "You could end up getting hurt, and I don't think that Ambassador Delenn would be too pleased about that."
"There is no cause for concern, Mr. Garibaldi," Lennier assured him, sounding very sincere. "I am quite capable of taking care of myself."
"Lennier, I really think that you might want to go back topside," Garibaldi declared. "If the ambassador wants to learn about the rumors surrounding Grey 13, why don't you suggest that she ask me? I think everyone would be much happier that way."
"I am sorry, Mr. Garibaldi, but I cannot do that," came the calm reply. "The ambassador wishes my opinions on the area."
Garibaldi felt like screaming in frustation. "I--" he began.
"Chief!" came the sudden exclamation, and Garibaldi glanced around to see one of his people, a fairly new guy named Jake Donalds, coming toward them.
"What is it, Donalds?"
"Here," Donalds said, breathing heavily as he handed something to Garibaldi.
Garibaldi looked at it, and frowned in alarm. It was a PPG, but one made by lurkers rather than the EA. "Where did you find this?" he demanded.
"In Brown 6," Donalds replied, getting control of his breathing. It was obvious that he'd been running, and Garibaldi reminded himself to have a few words with the other about that. Running in DownBelow was dangerous; it meant either that someone was after you, or else you were chasing someone. Either way, it meant problems with the lurkers. "There was a whole cache there, Chief," he added.
Wonderful, Garibaldi thought sardonically. Just what I needed, a weapons cache in DownBelow!
"Amis, I've got to check this out," he said, turning to the lurker. "We'll have to take a look later." Amis nodded, and Garibaldi turned to Lennier. "You'd better get topside, Lennier. If there's one weapons cache down here, there's bound to be others, and there are a number of people here who don't care for Minbari.
"Now, Donalds," he added, turning to the security officer, "take me to where you found it."
"Captain," came Garibaldi's voice.
Sheridan looked up to see the Chief of Security standing in the doorway of his office, a grim expression on his face. Behind him were two more Security officers.
"Yes, Mr. Garibaldi?" Sheridan said curtly. He had not been having a good day.
Garibaldi blinked at the captain's tone, but moved forward to dump something on his desk.
Sheridan looked down at it and frowned. It looked like a PPG, but something about it seemed different. "What is this?"
"It's a PPG," Garibaldi replied. "A lurker PPG."
Sheridan blinked. "And that means?"
Garibaldi took a deep breath. "It's a PPG that was made by a lurker," he answered. "Every so often, one or two of them pop up."
"So?" Sheridan prodded. This didn't seem to be the sort of problem that Garibaldi should be bringing to his attention.
"This one is different," Garibaldi said. "It came from Brown 6, and was found together with a number of others, about ten. Donalds," and the chief gestured to one of the officers with him, "found it, and brought it to my attention." He ignored the little voice that was asking what Donalds was doing in DownBelow off-duty; he'd think about that later. Right now, it was important to get Sheridan to understand. "We searched the area, but couldn't find any other caches."
"Mr. Garibaldi, it is 2200 hours, and I'm extremely tired. Could you please explain exactly what you're trying to get at?"
"I don't think that the one we found was the only cache," Garibaldi replied, his tone grim. "It seems almost definite that there'd be others, and that means that we have an unknown, and probably large number of PPGs floating around DownBelow."
Exhausted or not, Sheridan was quick enough to understand what that meant. "You mean that we may be looking at a--"
Garibaldi shot a wary glance at his officers. "Exactly. I've already got a number of my people working on trying to locate other caches, but there's no guarantee we can find them all."
Sheridan nodded, and followed Garibaldi's glance. "We're going to have to alert Earth Central," he said.
"Yeah." Garibaldi gave him a tight nod, glad that Sheridan had managed to pick up his message. "I'll let Ivanova know."
"That can wait 'til morning," Sheridan said, beginning to clear his desk. "She went to bed half an hour ago, and she was even more exhausted than I am."
"As long as you're sure," Garibaldi said.
Sheridan nodded again. "You'd better get back to work," he added.
"Wonderful! Just wonderful!" Greenway said, pacing back and forth. There was a restrained energy in his movement that reminded Jake of Ambassador Sinclair--which brought his thoughts back to the matter at hand.
It was six o'clock; the ambassador's ship was due in two hours, and they were faced with a major problem.
"Kozorr's going to have our heads!" the other continued.
"He'd have more than that if I hadn't found them," Jake pointed out.
Greenway stopped pacing and gave a tight nod of acknowledgement.
"The problem is," he said, calmer now, "that we can't get in touch with the ambassador and tell him to stay away. The ship arrives in--"
"Two hours," Jake inserted.
Greenway rolled his eyes. "Thank you," he said sardonically. "Just for that, you get to notify Ambassador Delenn."
"I wouldn't be surprised if she already knows," Jake replied glumly. "Lennier was with Garibaldi when I found them, and he's no fool. I'm sure that they'll both be able to see the possibilities as quickly as the chief."
"If there's one problem with all this secrecy and paranoia," Greenway grumbled, "it's that no one ever knows what one's allies are doing. Why on earth was Lennier DownBelow?"
Jake shrugged. He could guess the reason as well as Greenway could. The Minbari, or, at least, those of them who knew what was going on--which included Ambassador Delenn--were just as concerned about Ambassador Sinclair as the Rangers were, if not more so. Ambassador Delenn's aide would have been checking the conditions in Grey 13, to make sure that Sinclair would be safe there. He dreaded to think what would happen when she found out about this.
"Chief?" Lou Welch's voice said over Garibaldi's link.
"Yeah, what is it?" Garibaldi asked, yawning. He'd just gotten up, and wasn't quite sure that he was awake yet.
"We've got a bit of a problem here," Lou declared. His voice sounded as though he were whispering into the link.
"What is it?"
"Well, it's, umm, Ambassador Delenn, chief. She's kind of upset about something; she says she needs to speak with you immediately, that it's of the utmost urgency."
Garibaldi yawned again. "Tell her I'll be there in about ten minutes," he replied. "Oh, Lou, you are at my office, aren't you?"
"Yeah. And I think you'd be best to hurry; the ambassador looks really upset about whatever it is."
"Got it," Garibaldi replied, and let his arm drop down to his side. I'm too tired for this, he thought grumpily. I spent half of last night searching DownBelow; I really don't need any ambassadorial problems added to this.
And then, abruptly, he remembered that Lennier had been there when Donalds had shown up, and his eyes widened. Could that be what was upsetting the ambassador?
Wonderful. This day is rapidly going downhill, and it's only seven!
He managed to arrive at his office in a record eight minutes, and, judging from Lou's expression, it was a good thing he had.
"What can I help you with, ambassador?" he asked, turning to Delenn.
"Lennier has informed me that there is a security problem in DownBelow," she replied. Her voice sounded calm, but Garibaldi could see a tightness around her mouth that spoke of tension.
"Yes, there is, but I don't think it's anything that you have to worry about, ambassador," he replied.
Delenn's mouth tightened even further. "I believe that you are incorrect, Mr. Garibaldi," she declared. "If there are a large number of weapons hidden about this station, it is everyone's concern."
Garibaldi took a deep breath. He didn't think that yelling at Delenn would accomplish anything, and it would definitely make her angry; and that was something that he did not want. "I assure you, ambassador," he said, in a reassuring tone, "my people are searching DownBelow right now, and we'll find out where they are."
The ambassador didn't look reassured. In fact, she appeared even more apprehensive. "That is not suf--"
"Ambassador!" Lennier exclaimed, hurrying up.
"What is it, Lennier?" Delenn demanded. Her hand went up to a crystal necklace that Garibaldi hadn't seen before, and gripped it.
Lennier paused for a moment, glancing at Lou and Garibaldi, before replying. "Your guest has arrived, ambassador," he said carefully.
Delenn paled slightly, and Garibaldi exchanged a puzzled look with Lou. If she had a guest coming, it was understandable that she would be worried about the weapon caches, but why would Security's searching DownBelow be a concern? And why was Lennier looking so wary?
"Thank you, Lennier," Delenn replied. She then bowed slightly to Garibaldi. "We will speak later, Mr. Garibaldi," she declared, before following Lennier down the corridor.
Garibaldi frowned as he watched her go. What the hell was going on around here?
There was a beep, and the man touched the BabCom screen. "Yes?" he said.
"I have some information I think you'll want," the person on the other end replied.
"What sort of information?"
"About DownBelow," came the answer.
The man frowned slightly. "I'll meet you in the Gardens," he said. "Near the maze, in two hours."
"I'll be there."
"Good," the man replied, and shut off the screen. If there was something else going on DownBelow, that could put the entire project in jeopardy. Best learn what it was as quickly as possible.
Michelle Sands glanced casually at the man's identicard. Everything was in perfect order; no problem here.
"Welcome to Babylon 5, Mr. Davids," she said. "Is this your first visit here?"
The man started slightly, and then turned to face her. She couldn't see his expression properly, hidden as it was by the hood of the cloak he wore, but he seemed to be momentarily confused.
Then he gave her a slight nod. "Yes, it's my first visit," he replied. "I'm supposed to be meeting some people here, but the ship arrived a bit early. Could you tell me how to call them?"
"The information booths have directories," Sands answered. "All you have to do is enter your friends' names, and they'll be able to connect you to their quarters."
"Thank you," Mr. Davids said. He bowed slightly and moved away from her. As she watched him walk away, a slight frown crossed the guard's face. The man had seemed unusually familiar for someone who had never been here. Something about his voice, and the way he walked...
She gave in internal shrug, and turned back to the line. She'd mention it to the chief before she went off-duty; if Davids had been here before, he'd know.
Sinclair frowned as he studied the arrivals area. He hadn't expected Delenn or Greenway to be here, of course, since the transport had gotten in early; but there was something unusual going on. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but something about the people scattered throughout customs was causing an alarm to ring in the back of his mind.
He glanced back for a moment at the line of people from the transport, and suddenly it clicked.
There were only two security guards in the area, one for arrivals and one for departures.
Sinclair was certain that regulations hadn't changed in the nine months he'd been away, which meant that there should have been at least two security guards for each section. Usually, Garibaldi stationed one or two whose job was just to wander around the area and keep an eye on things. The fact that there were only two guards for the entire customs area meant that something was very wrong; security was vital here. It would be too easy for someone to smuggle something small in or out, with only one guard available to stop them. So what was wrong?
"Jeffrey," came a familiar voice, and Sinclair turned toward the entrance, smiling as Delenn and Lennier came up to him.
"It's good to see you again, old friend," he said. "Lennier," he added, with a nod in the younger Minbari's direction.
"I'm glad to see you as well, Jeffrey," Delenn said quietly, "but there is a problem."
Sinclair glanced around. "This probably isn't the best place to talk about it, then," he replied.
Delenn nodded in agreement.
"Lennier will see to your luggage," she declared, and Sinclair obediently handed him the claim ticket. "Lennier," she added, turning to her aide, "you will take his luggage to Mr. Greenway's quarters."
"Of course, ambassador," Lennier replied with a bow, and hurried away.
"Shall we go, Jeffrey?" Delenn said then, and Sinclair nodded.
Sands handed back the identicard to the last arrival, and then turned to take a quick look at the customs area as a whole. It was only herself and Sung Wen here this shift; everyone else was searching DownBelow for more weapon caches.
Her eye was caught by a tall figure in a grey hooded cloak--Mr. Davids, the trading agent who had seemed vaguely familiar--and she stifled a gasp of surprise. He was talking with the Minbari Ambassador!
And as Sands watched, astonished, she saw them walk out together, still talking.
What the hell was going on around here?
"Mr. Garibaldi, there you are!" Ambassador Mollari said, hurrying over to where Garibaldi was standing, talking with Zack.
"Londo, I'm rather busy at the moment," Garibaldi said, desperately hoping that Londo didn't know about the caches--it was bad enough that Delenn knew, but if everyone else did as well...
"Of course you are, Garibaldi," Londo replied. "You're always busy these days. Don't you ever take the time to relax?"
Garibaldi glanced at Zack, who was trying very hard not to laugh, and then turned back to Londo. "Yes, Londo, I do; but I'm on duty at the moment. Why don't you--"
Garibaldi's link beeped, and he lifted it to his mouth. "What is it?" he demanded.
"Mr. Garibaldi, please meet me in my office," came Sheridan's voice.
"Captain, I'm rather busy--" Garibaldi began, but Sheridan interrupted him firmly.
"That's part of what I need to talk to you about. I'll see you here in ten minutes."
Garibaldi sighed. "Zack, get that stuff out to everyone. I'll talk to you later, Londo," he added, hurrying off.
Londo looked after him with a frown. There was something very strange going on here.
Garibaldi arrived at Sheridan's office to find that the captain had called Ivanova and Dr. Franklin there as well. He felt a chill run down his spine--what did the captain want to discuss?
"Mr. Garibaldi," Sheridan said, looking up, "I've just heard that Lennier and Ambassador Delenn have heard about the weapon caches. How did that happen?"
"Lennier was there when Donalds told me," Garibaldi replied, shifting slightly.
Ivanova frowned. "But I thought you said you were DownBelow," she protested.
"Yeah, I was," Garibaldi said.
"So what was Lennier doing there?"
"That's a very good question, Commander," Sheridan said.
Garibaldi could think of another good question--what was Donalds doing there--but he didn't say it aloud. Instead, he replied, "Lennier told me that Ambassador Delenn had asked him to check out some of the rumours surrounding the Triangle."
Sheridan looked at him and frowned thoughtfully.
"There's something unusual going on," he said.
"It's not everyday the station gets turned upside down by weapons searches," Ivanova pointed out.
Sheridan shook his head. "It's more than that," he declared. "Delenn's up to something--she missed the Council session yesterday, and she seems to have had Lennier going all over the place, doing research. It may be a coincidence that these two things have happened at the same time, but considering everything that's been happening lately," and he gave all of them a very pointed glance, "I find myself doubting that."
"Surely you don't think Delenn is involved with the weapon caches!" Ivanova exclaimed.
"I didn't say that," Sheridan answered. "All I said was that I'm uncertain of how much of a coincidence the two things appear to be."
Garibaldi wasn't listening to Sheridan, however. Ivanova's statement had caught him off guard, and he found himself remembering both his conversation with Amis the day before, and what the Ranger had told him about them being an army.
The Ranger had also said that they weren't getting weapons through Babylon 5, but that was before the Narn/Centauri war actually started. Had they changed their plans? Did the weapon caches belong to the Rangers? And if they did, then what? Where did his loyalties lie?
The flicker of the screen on the wall brought Garibaldi abruptly out of his musings, and he looked up to see Lennier's face appear on the screen.
"How can I help you, Captain?"
"I'd like to speak with Ambassador Delenn, please," Sheridan replied.
"Please hold for a moment, Captain," Lennier said, and moved away from the screen.
He was back within a minute.
"I regret to inform you that the ambassador is quite busy at the present time, Captain," he stated. "However, she is willing to meet with you this afternoon, at..." he paused momentarily, "1600 hours."
"All right," Sheridan said. "I'll meet her in the Council chambers."
Lennier nodded, and the screen went blank.
"Well," Sheridan said slowly. "Maybe now I'll find out what's been going on for the past two days."
"What are you going to tell him?" Sinclair asked, taking a sip of his tea. It was a blend he'd brought Delenn from Minbar--he had grown quite fond of it since he'd been assigned there.
"That will depend on what questions he asks," Delenn replied calmly.
Sinclair shrugged. "I'll trust your judgment on that," he said, leaning back in his chair. "But what questions do you think he'll ask? You know more of what's been going on here than I do, and I've never met Captain Sheridan."
"I do not know," Delenn admitted. "But I will deal with that when it comes. What we have to discuss now is more immediate, and much more serious."
"True enough." Sinclair nodded, put his cup down on the table, and leaned forward.
Michelle Sands shifted uneasily as she walked into the Chief's office. She didn't like disturbing him when he was so busy with the weapons search, but she had to tell him about Mr. Davids.
The Chief looked up. "What is it, Sands?" he asked.
"There was someone who arrived this morning that I think you should know about, Chief," she replied.
Garibaldi suddenly appeared more alert. "Oh?"
"Yeah. He arrived at about seven this morning on the transport Heinlein. His identicard said that he was Mr. Jeff Davids, a trading agent for Ranging Ways Incorporated, and that he'd never been to Babylon 5 before. He even said that this was his first visit."
"But..." the Chief prodded.
"But he looked and sounded familiar," Sands replied. "And to top it all off, it seems that he came here to meet Ambassador Delenn!"
A look of surprise quickly crossed the Chief's face, and then his expression went blank.
"Thank you, Sands," he said. "I'll check up on him--once I get the chance, that is," he added ruefully, looking at his desk.
"Would you like me to do it, sir?" she asked.
Garibaldi shook his head. "No; the weapons search is more important. Though if you see him again, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know what he's doing."
"Got it, Chief," Sands replied with a nod. "Anything else you want me to do?"
"Just relax for a bit," he answered, waving his hand and looking back down at his desk. "You'll be back on duty soon enough."
As soon as Sands had left, Garibaldi leaned back in his chair, a frown on his face. This entire situation was a complete mess; the possibility of Rangers DownBelow, the weapon caches, Ambassador Delenn's strange behaviour, Donalds being DownBelow off-duty, and--
Wait a minute! Garibaldi thought suddenly, sitting up. What was Donalds doing there?
He quickly called up the search roster on his screen, and nodded. Donalds was presently off-duty; he'd be going on in about three hours, at 1700. Now might be the perfect time to get the answer to that question.
Jake Donalds watched Lennier exit Greenway's quarters, waited until he had gone down the corridor and turned the corner, and then walked up to Greenway's door. He touched the chime.
"Yes?" came Greenway's voice, warily.
"It's Jake," Donalds replied.
The door slid open smoothly, and Donalds slipped in, giving a quick glance around the corridor as he did so. As far as he could tell, no one was there.
"What is it?" Greenway asked curiously, standing up.
"What was Lennier doing here?" Donalds countered, evading the question neatly.
"Just dropping off the Commander's things," Greenway replied, gesturing to the small blue bag on the floor by the couch. "Now, what is it?"
Donalds slumped into a chair.
"We're in trouble," he declared with a heavy sigh.
"More trouble, you mean?" Greenway asked.
"Yeah." He reached into his pocket and took out a folded flimsy.
"We've already found two more caches, Greenway," he said, leaning forward in an effort to get his urgency across, and handing the flimsy to the other. "Both were only two sections away from the Triangle, in different directions. Garibaldi's already ordered everyone to concentrate on that area."
Greenway frowned, his eyes narrowing. "You think they were placed there on purpose?" he asked.
Donalds shook his head, not in negation, but in weariness. "I honestly don't know, Greenway. But what matters now is that almost the entire security force is crawling around about this," and he held his fingers about an inch apart, "far away from where we've got everything set up. If they find it..."
Greenway nodded, understanding exactly what the other Ranger was getting at.
"So what do we do now?" Donalds asked.
Greenway frowned. "This, combined with the presence of the weapon caches, puts both us and the Commander in a precarious position," he muttered, not really talking to Donalds, just verbalizing his thoughts. "And while we might be able to keep the Commander hidden..." Greenway's voice trailed off for a moment.
"We'll contact Kozorr," he declared then, looking up. "We really should have gotten in touch with him as soon as you found that cache, but I was hoping it would prove to be an isolated phenomenon. Since it isn't, then we've got to tell him what's going on."
"What about the Commander?" Donalds asked.
Greenway shrugged. "At the moment, he's with Ambassador Delenn. Lennier said that Sheridan is going to be meeting the ambassador in the Council Chambers in about two and a half hours, so presumably the Commander will come here at that point. We can let him know then."
"I'm not sure that it's wise to keep this from him that long, Greenway," Donalds said, slumping back in the chair. "I've heard a few stories from when he was in command here; he seems to have had a talent for getting himself into dangerous situations."
"What can we do about it though?" Greenway demanded. "I can't exactly get into the Ambassadorial Section--"
"I can, though," Donalds pointed out. "I'm a security officer--"
"And you'll look fairly unusual going into Green Sector when the search--that you're supposed to be part of--is going on DownBelow. And," he added, raising a hand to keep Donalds from interrupting, "if you go there off-duty, it'll look even more unusual."
Donalds shook his head. "I don't think we really have a choice, Greenway," he replied. "If we don't tell the Commander, then it's all too likely that he might head down to the Triangle and walk right in to one of the search teams. They're really concentrated in that area--if he did go down there, he wouldn't have much trouble evading them--until he reached the Triangle."
"And we'll get in trouble if we don't tell him," Greenway finished with a sigh. "All right, Donalds, go ahead. But be cautious; we can't afford to have you suspected of anything."
The tall man was frowning as he left the Gardens. Bad enough that one of the caches had been discovered by security, resulting in what looked to be a very thorough search of DownBelow, but this news about some army forming down there was more alarming. Especially since, according to the recording his 'associate' had shown him, it contained both humans and Minbari! This could ruin everything!
Or, he corrected himself, as he strode toward his quarters, almost everything. They still have no idea where all the caches are.
As he entered his room and began to set up a call to his superior, to inform that one of the events of the past two days, he permitted himself a silent chuckle. They had no idea!
As the officer approached them, Donalds noticed Ambassador Delenn and a familiar figure clad in a grey hooded cloak, with the hood pulled up, coming up along a side corridor. His senses straining to their utmost, he saw the flicker of movement from the corner of his eye, and reacted instantly.
Garibaldi stared in shock, coming around the corner, as he saw Donalds shove past Reynaud and Lou.
"Ambassador, look out!" Donalds shouted, tackling an EF officer, as a tall figure dressed in grey shoved Ambassador Delenn back into the side corridor they'd just come out of, and then came back out, approaching the scene cautiously.
Garibaldi ran up, getting there just as Donalds kicked something away from the hand of the man he'd tackled.
"What's going on here, Donalds?" he demanded.
Donalds looked at him in apparent surprise. "Chief! What are--"
"Chief, look at this," Lou said, interrupting. He picked up the thing Donalds had kicked, and handed it to Garibaldi.
Garibaldi was not overly surprised to find that it was a lurker-made PPG, just like the ones in the caches they'd been chasing all over DownBelow.
"Get word to the other teams posted here," he ordered Reynaud as Ambassador Delenn came into the main corridor, to stand next to the figure in grey--probably the mysterious Mr. Davids, Garibaldi figured.
"Now, Donalds," he said, turning to the security officer as Lou quickly secured the prisoner, "what happened?"
"I saw this man," Donalds gestured at the prisoner, "start to take out the PPG and aim it at Ambassador Delenn."
"My thanks, Mr. Donalds," the ambassador said, though she had a slight frown on her face.
"Minbari b--" the prisoner began, and Donalds slapped his hand roughly over the man's mouth.
"Lou, take him to a holding cell for the moment," Garibaldi ordered firmly, wondering yet again about Donalds. Ambassador Delenn seemed to know him, and while that might not be completely unusual, combined with everything else he'd noticed about his subordinate, it sent a touch of alarm to his brain.
"Donalds, you go with him. Reynaud, I want you to go check on the other ambassadors; see if something's happened there."
"Got it, chief," both Lou and Reynaud replied, in unison, but Donalds hesitated for a moment before finally echoing them and heading off. Garibaldi frowned slightly at the hesitation, but decided that he didn't have time to think about it just at the moment; things were getting really out of hand.
He then turned to face Ambassador Delenn and her companion. "Ambassador," he said politely, "have you ever seen that man before?"
"No, I am afraid I haven't, Mr. Garibaldi," the ambassador replied, with remarkable calm. The frown hadn't disappeared, however, and one hand began to play with the crystal necklace she was wearing.
"But," she continued, "how was it that he was able to get that weapon past the security guards? They are al--"
Garibaldi's link beeped, and he raised his hand to interrupt Delenn. "Yes?" he said into it. "What is it?"
"This is Grant, chief," came the reply. "We found two guys near the League section, both of them with those lurker PPGs we've been finding in DownBelow. But they didn't bring the guns past the guards."
"Oh?" Garibaldi asked, feeling cold all of a sudden. He had a very uncomfortable feeling that he knew what Grant's next words were going to be.
"They had to have picked them up somewhere in this area, chief," Grant declared. "I don't think that the caches are limited to DownBelow."
Garibaldi shivered slightly. "Have Zack recall two of the search teams from DownBelow and assign them to searching Green Sector," he ordered. "I'll tell the captain."
"Got it, chief," came the reply, and Garibaldi lowered his link and looked at Ambassador Delenn, about to tell her that she might want to stay in her quarters for a little while.
He was surprised by the expression on her face. Normally, Delenn's face was calm, no matter what she might be feeling. But now, she looked absolutely furious!
"I will speak with you later, Mr. Garibaldi," she declared curtly. She then turned to her companion, who hadn't spoken at all, and whose face was still covered by the hood of his grey cloak.
"I think it best if we return to my quarters," she said. "Once we are there, I will call the Tennil and arrangements will be made."
Garibaldi noticed a sudden tension in the way the figure stood, but he still didn't speak. Instead, he gave Delenn a nod, and they both turned back to the way they had come.
Then the ambassador paused, and looked over her shoulder at Garibaldi. "Please inform Captain Sheridan when you see him that I will be unable to meet him this afternoon," she said. "I will have Lennier be there instead, and he will explain certain matters to the captain."
"Of course, Ambassador," Garibaldi replied with a slight bow. Sheridan was going to blow his top, but Delenn's expression and tone made her statement more like an order that couldn't be refused.
Sheridan was, as Garibaldi had suspected, less than pleased with Ambassador Delenn's decision to avoid the meeting.
"It's probably a good idea for her to stay in her quarters anyway, Captain," Garibaldi replied.
"After all," he continued, when Sheridan didn't interrupt, "the assassin was trying to kill her."
"Speaking of which," Sheridan declared, leaning forward over his desk, "what exactly happened, Mr. Garibaldi? I thought your people were smart enough to make sure that no one wearing weapons got in to Green Sector."
Garibaldi gritted his teeth and reminded himself that Sheridan's week hadn't been much better than his own--with Council meetings every second day, and the present crisis, as well as the day to day running of the station.
"They were. The problem was that the assassins didn't have the PPGs on them when they entered the Ambassadorial Wing."
Sheridan stared at him, a look of shock crossing his face as he caught Garibaldi's meaning. "There's a cache in Green Sector," he said, in a monotone.
Garibaldi nodded. "At least one," he replied, ignoring the chilling sense of deja vu. "I've got two teams searching the area right now."
"What about the assassins?"
"They're being questioned--"
The monitor came on, revealing Lou Welch's face. He was sitting in Garibaldi's office, and looked upset.
"We've questioned all three of them, chief," he declared.
"And," Garibaldi prodded, as Sheridan listened intently.
"They say that they're Free Mars, chief," Lou replied.
"Free Mars?" Garibaldi sputtered in disbelief. "But Free Mars isn't an Earth-First group--why would they do something like this?"
"I dunno, chief. They don't seem to know either; they say that they were just given their orders."
"Thanks, Lou," Garibaldi said, and the screen went blank. He and Sheridan looked at each other.
"Wonderful," Garibaldi declared, sinking into a chair. "Just wonderful."
The tall man scowled to himself as he moved forward in line. The fools! They hadn't managed to even hurt that freak Ambassador; all the work he'd done, planting those caches and bringing everyone on board--all of it had ultimately been for nothing! They hadn't succeeded.
At least I'm safe, he thought to himself. He was too valuable for his superior to get rid of, and it had been part of the plan since the very beginning that he would take the opportunity provided by the confusion, caused by the caches, to escape. Security would never be able to trace those idiot amateurs back to him; especially with the conditioning they'd received.
He stepped forward and handed his identicard to the security officer standing there.
"I hope you enjoyed your stay on Babylon 5, Mr. MacCaffery," the officer said, smiling, as he handed the identicard back.
"Yes, I did, thank you," the tall man replied, smiling back as he lied through his teeth, and strode toward the shuttle.
The StellarCom screen in Ambassador Delenn's quarters lit up, showing Kozorr seated behind a tall desk. "Ambassador Delenn," the warrior said, giving her a nod of acknowledgement. "Where is Ambassador Sinclair?"
"Making tea," Delenn answered curtly. "Kozorr, there has been a problem--"
"I know; Mr. Greenway informed me of the discovery of the caches," Kozorr replied, his tone grim. "We must make arrangements to--"
"That is not what I was referring to, Kozorr," Delenn declared. "Approximately ten minutes ago, someone attempted to kill me--or perhaps Jeffrey--I cannot be certain."
Kozorr looked shocked. "Surely you were still in the Ambassadorial section of the station!" he exclaimed.
"Yes, we were. Unfortunately, it appears that whoever has planted the caches has also placed them within Green Sector, so that the assassins were able to pass the scrutiny of the security officers."
"It seems that the station is rapidly becoming a very dangerous place," Kozorr said, his tone becoming slightly more thoughtful, although his face was still grim. "This makes it even more imperative that we get Ambassador Sinclair away from Babylon 5."
"There is a problem with that," Delenn said reluctantly.
"What?" Kozorr demanded, leaning forward.
"He was with me when the assassination attempt was made. None of the security officers saw his face, of course, but it is highly doubtful that he will be permitted to leave. To Mr. Garibaldi, he is a witness to attempted murder, and Mr. Garibaldi takes his duty very seriously. He will be determined to have Jeffrey give testimony."
"I do not want any others to know of Ambassador Sinclair's presence, Delenn. See that they are distracted."
Delenn's jaw tightened. "And how am I supposed to do that?" she demanded. "Jeffrey will hardly agree to deceiving his friends. As well, there is the fact that there were assassins, and their leader must be found."
"I gather you've reached him," came Sinclair's voice, just before he appeared through the door carrying a small tray with a teapot and two cups on it.
"Of course," Delenn replied calmly, glancing from Sinclair to the screen and back again. "The Tennil is only a jump away from the station."
"Of course," Sinclair said resignedly, putting the tray on the table and coming to stand in front of the screen, next to her.
"So what are we going to do now? We've got caches of weapons hidden throughout the station, and assassins, also on the station, who know where those caches are."
"And two caches in DownBelow have been located near to Grey 13," Kozorr added. "Or so Greenway informed me half an hour before you called."
Sinclair snapped his fingers. "That must be what brought Donalds," he declared in a tone of sudden understanding. "I was wondering what he was doing in Green Sector; he shouldn't have anywhere near here."
"And it is a good thing that he came then," Delenn added, turning to face the screen. "It was Donalds who saved us from the assassin."
Kozorr gave a slight nod. "I shall make note of that," he answered.
"Now, as you said, Ambassador, we need to take care of these matters. The most important thing, of course, is to get you off the station."
"The most important thing," Sinclair corrected him firmly, "is to make certain that there are no more assassins around, and then get everything set up. We can't afford any delays."
"In this, Kozorr is correct," Delenn put in. "You are too important to risk needlessly, Jeffrey."
Sinclair's mouth tightened. "This is hardly a needless risk, Delenn," he stated. "We need to get that equipment set up, and we need to get it done soon. We don't have the luxury of time to get me off the station and then back on again." He glared at both of them impartially.
"And what happens if your Mr. Garibaldi wants to speak to Mr. Davids, as being a witness to the assassination attempt? What will you do then?" Kozorr demanded.
"We'll deal with that as it comes," came the reply. "I will not leave Babylon 5 until I've got everything set up."
Kozorr and Delenn exchanged a glance, and then both nodded reluctantly. They knew what that tone of voice from Sinclair meant.
Garibaldi slumped down into his chair. Things were going rapidly downhill, and he couldn't see any chance of them stopping anytime soon.
Weapons caches, assassins, Delenn acting strange, armies DownBelow, Donalds's little excursions, and the mysterious Mr. Davids, he thought, slumping down a little farther. That about covered it.
Well, except for the complications, he added to himself. The assassins--amateurs, all of them--claimed to be Free Mars, but talked like Homeguard. The 'armies' DownBelow appeared to be Rangers, based on what Amis had told him. Donalds had found the first cache on one 'little excursion', and saved Ambassador Delenn on the other. And Mr. Davids, whoever he was, had been with Delenn during the assassination attempt, and was apparently a guest of hers. Complications indeed!
For now, of course, the matter of the assassins and the caches were the most important; but there was nothing Garibaldi could do about them at the moment. He'd set up a search program to try to get some positive identification on the assassins they'd picked up, and he had search teams scouring the station. In other words, he now had some time to see if he couldn't put a few other things together.
He took a deep breath, sat up, and leaned forward, putting a data crystal into the port on his desk as he did so. "Computer, start search; parameters are Jeff Davids, and Ranging Ways Incorporated."
The computer began working, and Garibaldi leaned back to try and get his thoughts in some sort of order.
The first thing he remembered was that two of the caches found in DownBelow had been awfully close to Grey 13. He remembered the thought he'd had--was it only this morning?--about the Rangers and the caches being linked. He frowned to himself, not liking the implication. If the Rangers were involved in the mess of the caches, then what was he going to do?
Then he shook his head. You're not thinking straight, Mike, he scolded himself. If the Rangers are involved in the caches, then why the assassination attempt? Jeff would never stand for anything like that.
At that thought, he froze, groping toward a thought that might open the whole thing up.
"Search complete," the computer said, breaking his train of thought, and Garibaldi sighed. He'd almost had it; but almost doesn't count when you're dealing with intuition and hunches.
"Display results," he ordered.
As Garibaldi studied the screen, his frown deepened.
Ranging Ways Inc. was a trading company that had apparently only just started up, back in April. It was a small company, and seemed to be trading mainly with some of the League members, and Minbari. What made it more puzzling was the list of commodities they apparently dealt with: tea, spices, herbs... All of them were luxury items, and there was no sign that Ranging Ways had the backing needed to trade that sort of thing.
What was even more puzzling was the bio on Jeff Davids.
Apparently born on Mars forty-five years ago, he'd served as a 'Fury pilot during the war, and after the war had gone into trading--first by carrying cargo, and then becoming a trader himself, about five years ago. And yet, although he'd apparently been in sectors close to Babylon 5 before, he'd never actually been here until today.
Something was wrong with this, and it wasn't just the fact that the bio was rather scanty; although that was definitely part of it. The way the EA was since the war, Mr. Davids should have had a lot more information in his file. And that was even discounting the details that should have been there from his stint in the military.
But that was only a part of it.
Garibaldi leaned back again, thinking. This Jeff Davids's bio looked more like a badly done persona; a fake identity that was used by undercover agents, inserted into the EA computers so as to provide support for the identity. But it was badly done; there was so little information, and the apparent travel record of Mr. Davids over the past three years had some glaring inconsistencies; namely, he'd never visited the station, although he'd been in the area a number of times. That didn't go with the type of trader that this Davids appeared to be.
Jeff Davids, and Ranging Ways, he thought. Hmmm... Ranging Ways, Ranging Ways--of course! The Rangers! But who is Mr. Davids? Let's see; Jeff Davids; Jeffrey Davids; Jeff--
Garibaldi sat bolt upright in his chair as he felt a sudden shock run through him. There was only one possible answer; hard to believe, but it fit all the facts. He swore under his breath, stood up, and headed out the door. He might just be able to catch Lennier before he met with Sheridan.
The Babylon 5 jumpgate opened, and the Minbari diplomatic flyer Assar came through, and headed for the station.
Sinclair frowned as he slipped out of Green Sector. Although it was a good thing for him that the security guards were being a bit laxer letting people out than allowing them in, he reminded himself to ask Delenn to mention it to Garibaldi. The station was too vulnerable to allow any sort of laxness.
But for the moment, he had something more to occupy his attention.
In his pocket were the data crystals that contained the program for the setup in Grey 13; the most important item, without which the equipment there wouldn't work. He was the only one on the station that could install it without attracting unwelcome attention; Delenn could hardly show up DownBelow--especially after the assassination attempt.
He'd have to be careful, of course. Since most of the DownBelow caches had been found in close proximity to Grey 13, caution was a necessity; although the cloak disguised him well enough, it didn't exactly make him inconspicuous. So he'd be careful.
Sinclair shook his head ruefully. Of course, even if nothing happened to him down there, both Delenn and Kozorr would be ready to kill him when he came back. Bad enough that he was going DownBelow without the escort that was probably even now docking, but he'd managed to slip out without letting Delenn know he was leaving.
Michelle Sands leaned back in her seat and studied the crowd wandering through the Zocalo. "So it was pure dumb luck, huh?" she queried her companion.
"Yeah," replied Jake Donalds. "Right time right place luck, but luck nonetheless."
"Well, it's always nice to have someone on the team who's lucky," she said, smiling.
Donalds grinned back. "You mean you only like me for my l--" he began, and then stopped when he noticed that Sands didn't seem to be listening to him.
"You've still got almost an hour before you go on duty, don't you?" Sands asked, her eyes fixed on the crowd.
"Yes," Donalds replied slowly. "Why?"
"'Cause I just spotted someone," she answered, standing up. "He just came on board today, apparently for the first time, but there's something very familiar about him.
"So I told the chief, and he was interested; but he didn't have time to check the guy out himself. So let's go, before he gets out of sight!"
Donalds stood up, still holding his fruit drink. "Okay," he replied. "Who is this guy, anyway?" he added, taking a sip.
"His name's Jeff Davids," Sands replied.
Donalds nearly choked on his drink at that, but Sands ignored it and grabbed his arm, pulling him after the grey-cloaked figure on the edge of the crowd before he could protest.
Lou Welch and Andrew Reynaud looked up as they heard the sound of people coming, and Lou felt as though an icicle was dripping down his spine. Facing them were four Minbari warriors--Star Riders, Lou thought, noticing the emblem on their cloaks. All four had grim expressions.
"Can I help you?" Lou said, breaking a silence that was becoming threatening.
"Yes," one of the warriors--Lou guessed he was the leader--answered. "Inform Ambassador Delenn that we are here; she is expecting us."
"And you a--" Lou began, and then stopped as the Minbari's attention went past him. He turned around to see Ambassador Delenn herself coming toward them. She didn't look happy.
"Ambassador," the warrior leader said, as she arrived. Lou saw his eyes flicker around the corridor, and then he frowned at the Ambassador.
"Where is he, Delenn?" came the demand.
"Were you expecting these people, Ambassador?" Lou interrupted, wondering as he did so whether he'd gone crazy.
"Yes, thank you, Mr. Welch," she replied, nodding to him. He saw her hand grip a crystal necklace that she was wearing, and wondered absently where she'd gotten it.
The ambassador hesitated, as though wondering whether to continue, and then seemed to come to a decision. "Mr. Welch, do you recall the man I had with me when the assassin attacked?" she asked.
Lou nodded, recalling the grey-clad figure who'd pushed the ambassador out of the way. "Yes," he replied.
"Did you notice him leaving this area, just recently?"
Lou had to pause to think about that, but finally shook his head. "I'm afraid not, Ambassador," he answered. "But we were concentrating more on anyone who was trying to come in, so he may have come by here and we just missed him. What about you, Reynaud?"
"No, I haven't seen him either," his partner replied. "Why? Is there something wrong, Ambassador?"
"I hope not," Ambassador Delenn said. "Thank you for your help, Mr. Welch, Mr. Reynaud," she added. Her tone had a definite touch of uneasiness about it.
She then turned to the four warriors. "Come with me," she ordered.
Sheridan could almost feel his eyes start to glaze over as he listened to Lennier describe the religious ceremony of Vakoss, in excrutiating detail.
It was obvious that Lennier was stalling, but Sheridan couldn't, for the life of him, figure out why.
Finally, as Lennier paused for a moment, the captain managed to seize the initiative.
"This is all very interesting, Mr. Lennier," he declared, lying through his teeth, "but I fail to understand what it has to do with Ambassador Delenn's neglect of her duties."
Lennier drew himself up, a touch of anger or frustration in his tone as he replied. "As I stated in the Council meeting yesterday, Captain Sheridan,"--Was it only yesterday? Sheridan thought in disbelief--"Ambassador Delenn has other duties that she must see to at the present time. These duties do happen to be more important that the Council meeting w--"
Lennier stopped speaking as the door of the Council Chambers slid open to reveal Garibaldi standing there, looking impatient.
"Is something wrong, Mr. Garibaldi?" Sheridan demanded, wondering as he did so why Garibaldi hadn't contacted him over the link, if that was the case.
Garibaldi looked at him. "Not that I know of, sir," he answered. "I've just got something that I'd like to ask Lennier."
"I will be glad to help you in any way I can," Lennier replied. His expression was one of relief.
"Good," Garibaldi declared. "'Cause I'd like to see Mr. Davids."
Lennier blinked. "Mr. Davids?" he asked, sounding puzzled.
"Yes, Lennier, Mr. Davids. Mr. Jeff Davids, of Ranging Ways Inc."
"I'm afraid that--" Lennier began.
"And don't tell me that you don't know who he is, please," Garibaldi interrupted. "He's Ambassador Delenn's guest, and you know exactly who he is."
"As I was about to say, Mr. Garibaldi," Lennier said, his face suddenly wearing an expression of bland politeness, "I'm afraid that I cannot help you."
"Who is this Mr. Davids, Garibaldi?" Sheridan demanded.
Garibaldi looked at him for a moment. "He's a witness to the assassination attempt against Ambassador Delenn," he replied.
Sheridan frowned to himself. For some reason, he had the definite impression that Garibaldi was lying; or, at least, that he wasn't telling the whole truth. It was not something he cared for.
"If he's the witness to the assassination attempt, Mr. Lennier, then Garibaldi needs to talk to him," he explained, ignoring the feeling for the moment. He'd deal with it later. "We need witnesses who can identify the assassin in order to charge him, so Garibaldi needs to get this Mr. Davids' statement."
There was the sudden sound of a commotion from the other side of the door, and the three of them turned to look as it slid open, revealing a Minbari warrior standing there. Sheridan abruptly recognized her as the warrior that Lennier had been talking to yesterday afternoon, in the customs area.
The warrior eyed Sheridan and Garibaldi narrowly for a moment, before turning to face Lennier. "You are required," she declared.
"For what reason?" Lennier inquired calmly.
"Ambassador Delenn requests that you come with me; there have been some difficulties encountered."
"Of course," Lennier replied, bowing slightly.
"What sort of difficulties?" Garibaldi demanded, moving forward. Sheridan noticed that he seemed unusually tense.
"Alyt, this is Mr. Michael Garibaldi, the Chief of Security for Babylon 5," Lennier said, his tone still calm. "Mr. Garibaldi, this is Alyt Sherann, of the Moon Shields."
"What sort of difficulties?" Garibaldi repeated, raising his voice slightly. Sheridan frowned; it was unlike the Chief of Security to be so obviously upset.
The Moon Shield frowned, her eyes going to Sheridan for a moment. He didn't think that he imagined the look of distaste she gave him, though it lasted only a moment. She then turned to face Garibaldi.
"At the moment, Mr. Garibaldi," she said--surprisingly politely, Sheridan noted--"it is not your concern."
"Then again, perhaps it is," Garibaldi countered. "I think I can guess why you're here, Alyt; as you may have been told, I'm not a fool."
The Alyt looked slightly uncomfortable, just as Garibaldi's link beeped.
"Garibaldi," he said, raising the link to his mouth without taking his eyes off the warrior in front of him.
"Chief, this is Sands," came her voice. "You remember that trader I told you about--Jeff Davids? Well, he's heading toward Grey Sector, and Donalds and I are following him. I thought I'd better call you to let you know."
Sheridan felt a sudden upswing in the tension in the room, which was high enough already. Looking carefully at the other three there, he saw that they were all standing frozen, shocked.
Garibaldi snapped out of his shock. "Where are you right now?" he demanded.
"Brown 2," came the response.
"I'll be there in a few minutes," he said, and, lowering his link, he turned to the two Minbari. "Well? Are you coming?" he demanded, before hurrying toward the door.
Lennier and the Alyt followed him, and after a moment, so did Sheridan. He wanted to find out what the hell was going on!
Donalds had spent the entire past five minutes quietly cursing himself and everything and everyone around him, including Michelle Sands and Ambassador Sinclair.
So much for good luck, he thought, watching Michelle narrowly as she scanned the corridor for any sign of 'Mr. Davids'. If I was lucky, Entil'zha wouldn't have left Green Sector, or Michelle wouldn't have spotted him, and she wouldn't have called Garibaldi...
That was the real problem, of course. Garibaldi was now involved.
Oh, Donalds didn't distrust Garibaldi. After all, the Chief of Security was a good friend of Sinclair's, and Entil'zha trusted him. The problem was that Garibaldi wasn't even supposed to know that Sinclair was here, on the station.
Of course, Donalds didn't know whether the chief had figured it out now or not, but if things kept on the way they were going--
"There he is!" Sands exclaimed quietly, one arm pointing towards the corridor that led to Grey Sector.
With a silent sigh of frustration, Donalds followed her as she headed after Entil'zha's grey-clad figure. That was the other real problem; how could he let Sinclair know that he was being followed, without revealing himself as well?
Beside him, Sands frowned worriedly. "Jake," she said, her voice still quiet, "it looks as though he's going toward the Triangle, doesn't it?"
Donalds gave a noncommital grunt, not wanting to reveal anything.
"That's where most of the caches have been found," she continued. "Do you think that he might have something to do with them?"
Donalds almost snorted at the idea. Instead, he asked, "Why would he have met with Ambassador Delenn, then? After all, she was actually attacked by someone who certainly knew about the caches, even if he wasn't involved in their planting."
Sands frowned. "How did you know Mr. Davids was with Ambassador Delenn?" she demanded.
Damnit! Donalds thought. "Because he was there during the attempted assassination," he replied quickly, hoping Sands would accept it.
Sands glanced at him doubtfully, but to Donalds's relief, she didn't say anything.
Sinclair frowned as he stopped just outside Grey 13. For several minutes now, he'd felt as though he were being followed. The problem was, of course, that he didn't know who was following him. After all, there were a number of different possibilities. It could be Security, because of the caches; it could be Greenway, Delenn, Kozorr and the honor guard, or any combination of the three; it could be some of the other Rangers on board; it could be lurkers; it could even be Garibaldi, if he'd figured things out.
Either way, it meant he'd have to watch out; there'd be no problems (well, no major problems) if it was the Rangers or Kozorr or Delenn following him, but if it was any of the other possibilities...
He glanced around carefully. Depending on how well his tails knew this part of the station, he might just be able to lose them. While he'd been in command of B5, he'd made it a habit to know everything he could about the station, including most of the tricks and traps of DownBelow--or, at least, the ones that Garibaldi had known about. If he was lucky, he'd be able to use that knowledge to shake whomever was pursuing him. If not, well, he'd be no worse off than he was now.
Sheridan glanced around as the Alyt led them through the station. There was definitely something very strange going on, something that appeared to be completely unassociated with the weapons caches. And what was Garibaldi's part in this?
The captain didn't particularly care for all these questions he had; especially since he had no answers for them, and it didn't seem to be a good time to demand those answers. Nonetheless, he wanted to get a better idea as to what was going on.
He moved up next to Garibaldi, who was hurrying after the Alyt and Lennier; the two Minbari seemed to be determined to outdistance them.
"All right, Garibaldi, what's going on?" he asked, quietly but firmly. "Who is this 'Mr. Davids' that you're so interested in him? And if he was a witness to the attack on Ambassador Delenn, why--"
"He was with the ambassador, Captain," Garibaldi replied, just as quietly, "and she didn't exactly give me the chance to ask him anything.
"Also," he added slowly, sounding, Sheridan thought, almost reluctant, "the ambassador was very alarmed when she first found out about the caches; more than she should have been, since we all thought at the time that they were just DownBelow. I assured her that I had teams searching all of DownBelow, but that seemed to alarm her even more, although I'm not quite sure why..."
Garibaldi's voice trailed off as the Minbari turned a corner just ahead of them, and he and Sheridan hurried to follow them.
They came around the corner, and both of them stopped in surprise and shock.
Standing in the corridor in front of them were Ambassador Delenn and four more Minbari warriors, all of whom seemed just as surprised to see them.
Ambassador Delenn stepped forward. "Captain Sheridan, Mr. Garibaldi," she said, with a nod. "Might I inquire why you are here?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing, Ambassador," Sheridan said, realizing abruptly that they were right by the entrance to DownBelow. "This isn't exactly the safest part of the station, and after what happened only two hours ago--"
"I will be safe enough," Delenn replied curtly, her glance going to the warrior standing next to her.
Sheridan followed her gaze, and had to keep himself from shivering at the cold look on the warrior's face, although it didn't seem to be entirely directed at him.
His eyes then went to Garibaldi, and he was surprised to see a thoughtful look on his Chief of Security's face. It was almost as though Garibaldi had put together a puzzle that Sheridan didn't know the half of, and it worried him.
Then Garibaldi spoke up. "Ambassador, I think that you'll be rather conspicuous down there," he gestured toward DownBelow. "Why not let me go?"
"What?!" Sheridan exclaimed, in absolute shock.
"I cannot allow that," Delenn declared, at the same time.
"Why not, Delenn?" Garibaldi asked. "I know most of what's going on, you realize. Jeff Davids, Ranging Ways; thinking about it, it is sort of obvious, once you figure out the first little bit."
The warrior that Delenn had looked at stepped forward. "You are Mr. Garibaldi, the Chief of Security?" he asked.
"Yes," Garibaldi replied calmly.
The warrior's mouth tightened for just a moment, before he held out his hand. "I am Kozorr," he declared. "If you will take Ambassador Delenn, Alyt Sherann, and myself, we will go."
"All right, just what the hell is going on here?" Sheridan demanded. "I want a full explanation, Ambassador; there are too many unusual things happening, and you seem to be involved in a number of them."
Delenn frowned, and said something to the warrior Kozorr in Minbari. He replied, his voice sounding as though his answer was distasteful.
"Very well, Captain, you may come with us," she said. "Let us hurry."
As they walked quickly after Kozorr, Sheridan thought about mentioning that Babylon 5 was his station; but glancing at the expression on Delenn's face, decided that he would refrain--it didn't seem to be a good time.
Sinclair hurried down the corridor, hoping that he was right about his tails; there was another corridor that joined this one just a bit farther on, and it had a small hidden alcove in the near wall where he could hide until they had passed. It would only work, however, if neither of them knew about it.
He reached the T-junction, turned the corner, and hurried into the alcove, slipping against the wall so that they wouldn't see him.
He didn't have long to wait; about a minute or so later, two security officers came around the corner, and stopped across from the alcove, looking around in surprise.
"Where did he go?" asked one of them, and Sinclair, with a slight frown, thought he recognized the voice of the guard who had checked him through customs.
"I don't know," the other one said irritably, and Sinclair definitely recognized his voice; it was Jake Donalds. What was going on?
"Let's go back; I'm on-duty in a few minutes," Donalds continued. "Besides, we've lost him, Michelle. And this corridor doesn't lead to the Triangle."
"I don't really want to have to tell the Chief that, Jake," she replied, and Sinclair stiffened. What was going on--why was Garibaldi having him followed?
"The Chief's probably lost a number of people he's tried tailing as well," Donalds said, slumping against the wall. "And we aren't on duty, Michelle; this was just curiosity. Admit it."
"Yeah, partially," she answered, "but Garibaldi does want to know about him."
"What's to know? So he's a trader who's met with Ambassador Delenn. That's not overly strange," Donalds pointed out.
Sinclair thought furiously. It looked like Garibaldi hadn't assigned them to trailing him; but that didn't really mean anything. This 'Michelle' was a security officer, and it was likely that she'd reported what she was doing to Garibaldi; Donalds wouldn't have been able to stop her without drawing suspicion down on himself. So Garibaldi knew he was here, knew he had been heading toward the Triangle, and probably had gathered enough information to figure out who 'Jeff Davids' really was. So the question now was, what should he do?
"But--" the other said, and then stopped as her link beeped. "Sands here," she said, raising it up to her mouth.
"Sands, this is Garibaldi," came the Chief's voice. "Where are you now?"
The two security officers looked at each other, as Sinclair listened carefully.
"We're in Grey 11, sir, but we've lost Mr. Davids," Sands replied.
"Hold on a moment," Garibaldi said. There was a pause, and then he continued. "I'm told he'll probably be going to the Triangle; meet us there."
"Us, sir?" Sands asked. Donalds, Sinclair noticed, was as tense as he was.
"I'm with the captain and Ambassador Delenn," Garibaldi answered, and Sinclair felt like swearing. If he was with Delenn, he had probably figured most of it out, and if they were coming here, it was all too likely that Kozorr and his guard had arrived. They were going to give him hell!
"Got it, Chief," Sands was saying as these thoughts went through his mind. She lowered her link, and looked at Donalds.
Sinclair's eyes went to Donalds as well, and he noticed that the younger Ranger was cursing under his breath, rapidly and repeatedly.
"What's wrong, Jake?" Sands demanded.
"Everything," Donalds growled, and Sinclair sighed. It was too late for secrecy; Garibaldi seemed to know, and he'd said that Captain Sheridan was with them, so he'd soon know--what was another security officer, more or less?
Well, it might be a problem, actually, but Sinclair was now confident enough of his ability to read people that he was fairly certain it was safe, so he quietly stepped out of the alcove.
Sands was frowning thoughtfully when she noticed Donalds's eyes suddenly go to a point just over her shoulder, and she heard him gasp in surprise. Her reflexes whirled her around, and she stared at the grey-cloaked man standing there.
"Mr. Davids," she said, through suddenly stiff lips. How had he gotten behind her? For that matter, how had he known they were there?
Behind her, she heard Donalds sputter something, and then he came to stand beside her. And to her surprise, he bowed to the man in front of them!
"There's no need for that, Donalds," the man said, a touch of irritation in his voice. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation with Mr. Garibaldi, Officer Sands," he added to her. "I gather that I am the 'he' that you were referring to?"
"Yes, you are, Mr. Davids," she said boldly. "There's an irregularity in your records." From beside her, she heard Donalds choke as he tried to say something.
Mr. Davids sighed. "I doubt that," he replied calmly. "However, since it seems that we're all going in the same direction, I thought that I might as well come with you."
"Come with us?" Donalds exclaimed in a choked voice. "Sir--"
Before Sands could turn around to stare at Donalds in shock, Mr. Davids reached up one hand and pulled back his hood; and now it was Sands's turn to almost choke.
Standing in front of her was Jeffrey Sinclair, former Commander of Babylon 5, and presently the Earth Ambassador to Minbar!
"Wha--" Sands exclaimed.
She had been following Ambassador Sinclair around the station? And Donalds had known about it? What the hell was going on?
She turned to Donalds. "Okay, what's going on?" she demanded.
Donalds shifted uneasily, and his gaze went to the ambassador.
"That's a very long story, Officer Sands," the ambassador said. "And we don't have that much time at the moment. Perhaps we could discuss it later. Right now, I have to get to Grey 13, and since I believe that you are heading in the same direction..."
Sands sputtered for a moment, and then forced herself to calm down. "Of course, sir," she replied.
Ambassador Sinclair smiled slightly and gestured for herself and Donalds to precede him.
Donalds came up next to her, and as they started off, he put his hand carefully on her arm.
"Please don't try calling Garibaldi," he said quietly. "I'm sure the chief has already figured out that 'Mr. Davids' is the ambassador, but we can't afford to take any chances--if you were to try calling him, you might be overheard."
"Just what the hell is going on here, Jake?" Sands demanded, equally quietly. "Why is Ambassador Sinclair here?"
Donalds shook his head. "I can't tell you that, Michelle," he replied. "And it's likely that you'll find out soon enough anyway--we're almost there."
A minute later, they reached Grey 13, and Sands was brought up short; standing in the middle of the corridor were two people, a blond-haired woman and a Minbari warrior. As soon as Sands and Donalds came into view, the woman moved forward, her stance wary. Then, as the ambassador came up behind them, the woman relaxed slightly.
"Entil'zha," she said, bowing to the ambassador.
"Relax, Selena," the ambassador said, moving forward. "Is everything clear?"
"Yes," the Minbari warrior replied, coming up to them and also bowing to Ambassador Sinclair. "There are no search teams in the immediate area."
"Good," the ambassador declared. "Now, Mr. Garibaldi, Ambassador Delenn, Captain Sheridan, and I assume Kozorr and the others are a few minutes behind us. All of them are to be allowed in."
Sands saw a hint of distaste cross the Minbari's face, but he nodded obediently. "As you say, Entil'zha," he replied.
"Good," Ambassador Sinclair said, and then turned back to Sands and Donalds. "Let's go," he added.
Ambassador Delenn's mouth was tight with anger as she glared at Garibaldi and Sheridan. "What do you think you are doing?" she demanded.
Garibaldi put his hand down. "Ambassador, two of my people have been following 'Mr. Davids'," he replied. "And--"
The Star Rider, Kozorr, interrupted. "Bad enough we have Starkiller with us," he declared, his tone thick with disgust--Sheridan gritted his teeth in an effort not to say anything--"but if there are more people joining us there, it will be all the more dangerous; for all of us, but particularly for Mr. Davids."
"Officer Sands is trustworthy," Garibaldi responded, a touch of anger in his voice.
"There are very few people these days who are trustworthy, Mr. Garibaldi," the warrior replied, carefully not looking at Sheridan. Delenn's mouth tightened even more as she saw that. "And I do not know this 'Officer Sands'.
"As well, you mentioned that there were two. Who is the other?"
Garibaldi grimaced. "Officer Jake Donalds," he replied reluctantly.
To the surprise of both Sheridan and Garibaldi, Kozorr looked at Delenn for a moment. When she nodded, the warrior turned back to Garibaldi. "He, at least, can be trusted to do what is right," he declared. "But it is obvious we must hurry. Come, if you wish to continue."
And with that, he turned and strode off, Alyt Sherann following him.
"I must apologize for Kozorr," Delenn said quietly, as she urged the two men forward. "He is not inclined to be so rude, but he is very concerned and does not think very much about what he says when he is in such a mood."
Despite her apology, Sheridan thought, looking at the ambassador, it was very obvious that she was still quite angry. Things just kept getting more and more confusing--what was going on?!?
"Ambassador," Garibaldi said warily--it seemed that he also realized how angry Delenn was--"what did Kozorr mean about Donalds?"
"He meant exactly what he said, Mr. Garibaldi," Delenn declared coldly. "Your Officer Donalds is one of the few people on this station who can be trusted. You would have discovered this soon anyway, so telling you now presents little risk. Unlike your coming with us now," she added.
"Do you mean to tell me, Ambassador, that Jake Donalds is-is a--?" Garibaldi started to exclaim.
"Yes," she replied, her voice still cold.
Sheridan was getting sick and tired of keeping quiet, but he had a feeling that Delenn would refuse to answer anything he asked, so he gritted his teeth and remained silent.
Ten minutes later, they had reached Grey 13. Sheridan automatically continued forward, not really noticing that the Minbari and Garibaldi had stopped, and was suddenly brought up short as a woman suddenly appeared from around a corner, with what looked like an unusual crystalline gun pointed straight at his chest.
"Don't move," she ordered curtly.
Sheridan opened his mouth to say something, and then closed it again as Delenn came forward.
"The captain is with us, Selena," she said calmly.
The woman studied her for a moment, and then the gun disappeared. "As you say, Ambassador," she said, with a low bow.
Sheridan couldn't stand it anymore. In the past two days, he'd had mystery after mystery shoved in his direction, and it seemed that everyone else, including his chief of security, knew what was going on. He was sick and tired of it.
"Ambassador Delenn," he said, trying as hard as he could to keep the frustration he was feeling out of his voice, "would you mind telling me what is going on? I don't exactly appreciate having guns pointed at me, after all, especially on my station."
"It's not a gun," the woman said casually. "It's a throwing knife."
Sheridan gritted his teeth yet again. "I don't care what type of weapon it was," he declared, "I don't care to be threatened. And I would like to know what is going on before I have you arrested."
Garibaldi, hearing that, felt like slinking away. Oh, no, he thought desperately; if they don't tell Sheridan...
Delenn stepped forward. "I will explain this to you, Captain--later. The business that we have here is quite urgent, and I think it best if we do not waste any time."
She then turned back to the woman. "Is he here?" she asked.
"Yes, Ambassador. He arrived with Donalds and another security officer about five minutes ago."
"He was with them?" both Kozorr and Garibaldi exclaimed at the same time.
The woman glanced at Garibaldi curiously, but nodded. "Yes, he was, Kozorr. And," she added, shooting a look at Sheridan, "our orders are to let all of you in."
"Then we will proceed. Sherann, you will stay here with Selena. Zakierr, you will come with us," Kozorr declared.
The Alyt bowed, as Sheridan wondered who 'Zakierr' was. He didn't have to wonder long, though; another Minbari warrior abruptly appeared next to the blond-haired woman.
"You will take us to the equipment room, Zakierr," Kozorr added.
"Of course, Kozorr," the other replied, bowing slightly. He then turned and strode up the corridor, and Delenn urged Sheridan and Garibaldi after him.
Sands stared in astonishment as Ambassador Sinclair led them through the Triangle. Scattered throughout the corridors, she noticed a number of both humans dressed in the same dark pants, tunic, and cloak as the woman Selena had been--and Minbari warriors. None of the lurkers seemed to notice them, but both Donalds and the ambassador were very obviously aware of them. She was just getting more and more confused.
Then Donalds moved forward and put his hand to the side of a door, one that looked just like all the others. However, this one slid open smoothly, and Donalds gestured for both herself and the ambassador to enter.
The room was fairly small, and it was made even smaller by a pile of crystal and metal, topped with a medium-sized screen, by the far wall. Sands stared at it in confusion--it looked like some strange toy, or something. Ambassador Sinclair hurried over to that pile, and looked over it. Then he turned to the two security officers.
"Good job, Donalds," he declared. "Now, perhaps you and Officer Sands had best wait for Delenn and Mr. Garibaldi."
Donalds nodded and tugged Sands out of the room, letting the door shut close behind them.
"Okay, Jake, just what is going on?" Sands demanded. "And what was that thing in there?"
Donalds slumped against the wall. "Like I said, Michelle, it's a long story. As for that 'thing', as you put it--well, let's just say that 'thing' is vital to the security of the station."
If Donalds's tone hadn't been so serious, Sands would have burst out laughing. As it was, she had to restrain a few chuckles that threatened to escape.
"This isn't funny, Mich--" Donalds began, and then stopped as a group of people came around the corner.
As they turned the corner, Sheridan saw two security officers standing outside a door about halfway down the corridor. He recognized the man--Officer Donalds, the one who had found the first cache, and subsequently stopped the assassination attempt on Delenn; the other was probably Officer Sands.
Kozorr stepped forward. "Mr. Donalds," he said with a nod of acknowledgement. "I assume that he is within?"
The security officer took a deep breath. "Yes, he is, Kozorr," he replied.
Sheridan saw Delenn relax slightly. "Thank you, Mr. Donalds," she said.
Officer Donalds bowed.
Sheridan was just about to demand an explanation--how on earth did one of his security officers know Kozorr (who seemed to be of quite a high rank)?--when the door opened and a tall man dressed in grey came out.
The man's eyes passed swiftly over the group, and then he smiled slightly. "Hello, Kozorr, Michael," he said calmly. "I've been expecting you to show up."
The man's voice sounded vaguely familiar to Sheridan, and he frowned, trying to place it. Then he realized exactly what the man had said, and turned to glare at Garibaldi.
"Mister Garibaldi--" he began, but the man interrupted.
"Captain, Mr. Garibaldi knows nothing about this matter. And I had the definite impression," he added, glancing at Kozorr, "that it was supposed to stay that way."
Garibaldi shrugged. "I don't know exactly what's going on down here," he replied. "But you should get someone to add some more details to the Davids file, Jeff; that was wha--"
Garibaldi was interrupted by a loud beeping noise coming from the open door behind the strange man.
Sheridan was surprised to see a look of alarm cross the man's face, and as he glanced around, he noticed that it was echoed by Delenn, Kozorr, Donalds, and Zakierr.
"What's that?" he demanded.
A quick look was exchanged between Delenn, Kozorr, and the man. Kozorr said something in Minbari, and Delenn replied curtly. The man nodded and added something, and Kozorr bowed. "As you say, Ambassador," he said.
Sheridan felt his eyes widen as he started to put the pieces together. The Minbari calling the man 'Ambassador'; Garibaldi calling him 'Jeff'; the vague familiarity of his voice; Delenn's involvement--it all added up to the fact that the man had to be Ambassador Sinclair. But before he could say anything, the ambassador gestured for everyone to enter the room.
Sheridan found himself filing in, and then stopped short in a mixture of surprise and horror.
And one end of the room was what appeared to be a pile of bizarre equipment, a combination of normal EA technology and crystals, with a screen mounted just above it. On the screen was an image that chilled Sheridan--a large black form, blotting out the stars, moving near what he recognized as being the station's jumpgate.
He glanced around, and noticed that while Officer Sands appeared puzzled, and a bit nervous, most of the others looked grim; and Garibaldi was almost white. He felt a shiver run through him as he looked back at the screen. Without having to ask, he knew what the image was of--a Shadow ship.
And then the black form seemed to almost ripple and disappeared, and the screen turned off.
"Well, it works," Donalds said, sinking into a chair near the door.
"It was tested, Donalds," Zakierr countered.
"Are you all right, Michael?" Sheridan heard someone ask quietly, and he turned around to see that Ambassador Sinclair was standing next to Garibaldi.
Garibaldi blinked. "Yeah," he said slowly. And then, somewhat stronger, "Jeff, was that what I think it was?"
"Yes," the ambassador replied simply.
"Wonderful," Garibaldi muttered. "What else can go wrong?"
His link beeped.
"What is it?" he said.
"Chief, this is Zack. You know those assassins we had in Holding?"
"Had?" Garibaldi said. "What do you mean, Zack?"
"They're dead," Zack replied. Sheridan instantly dismissed his questions about Ambassador Sinclair's presence on the station, and the equipment set up in here; they could wait. This couldn't.
"How did it happen, Zack?" Garibaldi was asking.
"I dunno, Chief. I mean, one minute they were alive, sitting around, and the next thing I know they're all lying on the floor, dead."
"Okay, call Dr. Franklin and tell him to do an autopsy," Garibaldi ordered.
"Got it, Chief."
Garibaldi lowered his hand, muttered, "I knew I shouldn't have asked that," and turned to Sheridan.
"We seem to have a problem, Captain," he said.
"You've a gift for understatement, Mr. Garibaldi," Sheridan replied irritably.
"What has happened?" Delenn asked suddenly.
Sheridan looked up and saw that Delenn and Kozorr were now standing beside Ambassador Sinclair.
"The man who attacked you, and his companions, are dead, Ambassador," he replied. "And we don't know how it happened."
"You mean that they may have been killed?" Delenn demanded, and Kozorr's expression became warier.
"Quite probably," Garibaldi replied, before Sheridan could say anything. "But I can't see how; they were alone in the cell."
"Dr. Franklin should be able to tell us once he finishes the autopsies," Sheridan added. This didn't seem to be the time to remind Garibaldi that some things were better left unsaid until they could be proven.
Kozorr's face hardened. "But you do not know; there may be another assassin running around this station as we speak," he declared.
"They may have killed themselves," Sheridan countered, hoping to defuse the anger he could hear in the warrior's voice.
"But you do not know," Kozorr repeated.
Sheridan glanced at Garibaldi, to find that the chief of security was looking at him. He muttered something under his breath, and replied, "No, we don't," hoping that his voice sounded calm. It should; by now, he was feeling absolutely numb from the number of shocks he had received in the past two days.
"Very well," Kozorr said. "Entil'zha, you will return with me to the Tennil."
Before Ambassador Sinclair could reply, Sheridan jumped in. "No, he won't. Not until I've got some answers to a hell of a lot of questions."
"I don't think that you are aware of what you are saying, Captain," Kozorr replied. The anger in his voice made the word 'captain' sound like even more of an epithet than 'Starkiller'.
"I know exactly what I'm saying," Sheridan replied, his own anger growing.
"I refuse to risk Entil'zha's safety in any--"
Both Delenn and Ambassador Sinclair stepped forward, Sinclair grabbing Kozorr's arm.
"Stop it, both of you!" Delenn ordered.
"There's no need for this," added Ambassador Sinclair. "Kozorr, I assume you brought the others with you; with all of you I'll be safe enough. I have no intentions of leaving just yet. The captain does have a point--remember what we discussed before I left?"
The warrior looked for a moment as though he were about to argue, but simply nodded. "Very well."
Ambassador Sinclair then turned to Sheridan. "Captain, do you know of someplace," he glanced around, "outside of DownBelow where we can talk?"
"Yes," Sheridan replied, thinking rapidly. His office would probably be the best place, and he had a few jammers stored there--judging from what the screen had shown, it was likely that they'd need them. "If you'll come with me?"
Sheridan took the lead as they left the room, and this time, unlike when they'd been coming here, he glanced around at the people in the area.
There were the usual complement of lurkers, although not as many as in other areas of DownBelow, due to the rumours about Grey 13. However, there were a large number of humans and Minbari who paused as they walked by, and bowed--to Ambassador Sinclair, Sheridan noticed.
Behind him, he could hear Garibaldi and the ambassador talking quietly.
"So Amis was right," Garibaldi said.
"Amis?" the ambassador asked.
"A contact of mine, in DownBelow. He was involved in that thing with the cryogenic ship that I told you about."
"And what was he right about?"
Sheridan happened to glance back, and saw Garibaldi's mouth quirk into a half-smile. "He told me that there was an army forming DownBelow, here in the Triangle," he replied.
"Ah," the ambassador said. "That explains a bit. Delenn told me how Lennier found out about the weapon caches--were you going to investigate what Amis told you?"
"Yeah, and Donalds..." Garibaldi's voice trailed off, and he looked back to where Donalds was walking with Sands and Zakierr.
"He had his orders," Sinclair said, sounding a bit uncomfortable. "Delenn and Lennier were the only ones who were supposed to know that I was here, or what's going on here." He gestured around.
"It was not Entil'zha's decision, Mr. Garibaldi," Kozorr declared, from behind Sinclair. Garibaldi noticed that Jeff didn't even start; it seemed that he was used to having Kozorr there. "He wished to inform you that he was here. However, I felt that it would not be a good idea; I had hoped to avoid this very situation."
"Oh?" Garibaldi inquired. "Why?"
"That story will have to wait until we reach your captain's office," Kozorr replied, disapproval permeating his voice.
Just then, they reached the entrance to Grey 13, and Selena and Alyt Sherann.
The group paused there, while Ambassador Sinclair pulled the hood of his cloak over his face and Alyt Sherann and Zakierr re-exchanged places.
Once that was done, the group continued.
Sheridan, glancing back as they walked through DownBelow, noticed the order that everyone was walking in. He was first, and behind him were Garibaldi, Ambassador Sinclair, and Delenn. Alyt Sherann and Kozorr were right behind Ambassador Sinclair, one on either side of him, and Donalds and Sands brought up at the rear.
We're a goddamn parade! Sheridan thought to himself in disbelief. He wondered what the lurkers who saw them would make of this.
When they reached the point at which Sheridan and Garibaldi had met the others, Sheridan wasn't overly surprised to find that the three Minbari warriors that they'd left there were still waiting, although Lennier seemed to have left. Without a word, one of the warriors took Alyt Sherann's place, and the other two moved to place themselves in front of Ambassador Sinclair--coincidentally moving right between the ambassador and Sheridan. Alyt Sherann, meanwhile, gave a deep bow to Ambassador Sinclair, a slightly shallower one to Delenn, and then strode off, back into DownBelow.
Sheridan felt like shaking his head in confusion, but with all those warriors around, he had the definite impression that he had to be careful how deeply he breathed, not to mention doing anything else; so instead, he just thought, One more thing to ask when we get to my office, and sighed slightly.
They managed to reach Sheridan's office without getting too many puzzled looks, but Sheridan felt as though every single look they did get was a knife going between his shoulderblades.
If this keeps up, he thought ruefully, as he glanced at the four chairs in his office, I'm going to end up as paranoid as Garibaldi, if not more so!
Before he could say anything about the seating, Garibaldi had taken his usual chair. Sheridan sighed to himself, again, and gestured for Ambassador Sinclair to sit in the middle chair, and Delenn to take the one at the far end, while he sat down behind his desk.
"Now," he declared--noticing as he did so the positions of those that were still standing; Kozorr and one of the other Minbari stood behind and on either side of Sinclair's chair, while the other two each took up a guard position at the entrances; Officer Sands stood behind Garibaldi's chair; and Officer Donalds stood between Garibaldi and Sinclair--"it's time for some answers. I would like to know, first of all, why you are here, Ambassador, and then what that thing in Grey 13 is." Underneath the desk, he surreptiously turned on one of the jammers.
The ambassador looked thoughtful. "I have to answer your second question first, Captain," he replied slowly. "The equipment in Grey 13 is a sophisticated sensing device that uses a combination of Earth and Minbari technology. Its purpose is to detect... unusual phenomena occuring near Babylon 5. I came here to install the program."
"Unusual phenomena?" Sheridan repeated. "Phenomena like that--that ship?"
Sinclair's eyes met his for a moment. "Exactly."
"I see," Sheridan replied slowly. From the ambassador's expression, as well as the way he'd explained it, it was obvious that he knew something about the Shadows...
Abruptly, Sheridan recalled what Garibaldi had told him about how the two men had first met. Garibaldi's description of the ships they had seen on Mars matched almost exactly what had appeared on the screen in Grey 13...
"And what about all those people down there?" he asked, deciding that it might not be a good idea to talk directly about the Shadows; especially with so many people around.
Sinclair hesitated, and then took a deep breath.
"They are my Rangers," he replied.
Sheridan didn't say anything.
"They are an organization of both humans and Minbari, under my command," the ambassador continued slowly; he seemed to be thinking carefully about every word he said. "They work to gather information about the..." he paused for a moment, shooting a quick glance at Officer Sands. Then, apparently deciding that it was too late to hide it, he continued, "the--darkness--that is coming. We have been active for the past eight months."
Sheridan nodded, glancing for a moment at Delenn. She didn't appear to be at all alarmed by what Ambassador Sinclair had said, and he concluded that she had known about this for a while.
"All right," he replied, still speaking slowly. His thoughts were whirling rapidly; there was suddenly a great deal more to think about.
"Now I've got a question," Garibaldi declared. "Why weren't any of us told that you were coming here, Jeff?"
"As I said, Mr. Garibaldi," Kozorr spoke up, "that was my decision, not Entil'zha's." The Star Rider looked around the room, and an expression of distaste pulled at his features. "I mentioned earlier that there are very few people in these days that can be considered trustworthy. While I do not doubt you, if Entil'zha's visit were common knowledge, then the consequences could be grave indeed. There are perhaps three or four people on this station, aside from the Rangers, that I feel can be trusted enough. This," his expression of distaste deepened, "was something that was to be avoided."
Sheridan saw a flicker of distress cross Delenn's face at Kozorr's words, and noticed that her hand came up to touch a crystal necklace that she was wearing, but she remained quiet. It was Ambassador Sinclair who spoke next.
"I've done what I came to do, Captain," he said, in a quiet tone. "I'm going to have to leave quite soon--I have other duties I have to attend to, on Minbar. Please, if you have any more questions, it would be best to ask them now."
"I have two more for you," Sheridan replied, thinking as he did so that he'd have to talk to Delenn after this was all over. "Why was that--sensing device--put here on B5, and what happens now?"
The ambassador seemed to relax a bit, as though he'd been nervous about which questions Sheridan would ask. "This station is important to a lot of people, Captain," he replied. "It needs all the protection that we can give it, and that device is, at the moment, one of the best defenses available against the--darkness.
"As for what happens now, well, most of that depends on you. I have to leave, as I said, but there will still be a number of Rangers here, including Mr. Donalds.
"What we need at the moment is information; and if we work together, it's likely that we can get more, and perhaps even better, information on what we face. However, the choice is yours."
"It's not much of a choice, Ambassador," Sheridan answered, in the same calm, quiet tone that Sinclair had used. "You're quite right. We do need to work together."
The ambassador nodded, and then glanced around the room for a moment. He caught Officer Donalds's eyes for a moment, and surprise flickered across the security officer's face. It then disappeared, and Donalds nodded obediently.
Sinclair turned back to Sheridan. "With your permission, Captain, Donalds will be able to act as a liaison between you and the Rangers," he said. "You can arrange the details with him."
"All ri--" Sheridan began.
Garibaldi's link beeped, interrupting the captain.
"Yeah?" Garibaldi said.
"Garibaldi, this is Franklin. I've just finished those autopsies you requested."
"And?" Garibaldi prodded.
"You're probably not going to believe this, but they died from ingesting potassium cyanide."
Garibaldi and Sheridan stared at each other in surprise. "Cyanide?" Garibaldi repeated.
"That's what I said," Dr. Franklin answered. "They must have each had a capsule, or something like that, full of it, and they bit down on them and swallowed."
"All at the same time?"
"Looks like it. And there's one other thing," Franklin said. "All three of them had a slight but definite change in their brain chemistry. I have no idea what caused it, but that's the only other thing I found."
"Thanks," Garibaldi said blankly, and lowered his link. He looked at Sheridan.
"Well, that's just wonderful!" he declared.
Two days later, Mr. MacCaffery walked into a small office in a very ordinary building in EarthDome. He was admitted into the presence of the owner of the office immediately upon arrival.
"Well?" his superior demanded. "What happened? There have been no reports of any incident in the Babylon 5 Ambassadorial Wing."
"The first one was discovered just before he was about to go into action," MacCaffery replied.
His superior's eyes closed for a moment, and then opened again. "So the Minbari Ambassador," came the statement, calm except for the venom in the word 'ambassador', "is still alive?"
"I'm afraid so, sir."
His superior leaned back in the chair. "And what about our people?"
"All three of them were captured--questioning began at 1452," MacCaffery reported.
"And did the conditioning hold?"
"Yes," MacCaffery replied. "Under questioning, they revealed that they were a special unit from Free Mars, who had been sent to eliminate the alien ambassadors who might prove to be a threat to the goals of their organization."
"Very good," came the reply. "And the rest?"
"The command I implanted was activated at 1713, exactly two hours and twenty-one minutes after questioning began."
"Very good. What about the state of the caches?"
"They've discovered the ones in DownBelow and Green Sector," MacCaffery answered.
His superior nodded in satisfaction. "So the only thing that has gone wrong is the fact that the Minbari bitch is still alive. That shouldn't present us with too much of a problem, and we might still be able to eliminate her later. Good job, MacCaffery."
"Thank you, sir," MacCaffery replied.
"You may go."
MacCaffery nodded and started to walk out the door.
"Don't forget this," his superior added, tossing something to him.
MacCaffery caught it and smiled as he strode out the door, his expression reflected in the glossy black surface of his PsiCop identicard.