WATER AND FIRE II

By Coucher de Soleil

 

 

 

"But yet whan Ioseph Ihesu downe toke,
The syde *that* the wound was on/lay to his brest;
The colde blode/that was at our lordes herte rote
Fell within Iosephes sherte/& lay on his chest.
Truly as holy scripture sayth/there dyde it rest
At the holy place/aboue his stomake,
And whan our lorde/in the sendony was drest,
Thys blode in two cruettes/Ioseph dyd take."

This bit taken from a writing called
"Here Beginneth the Life of Ioseph of Armathia."
Printed by Richard Pynson AD 1520.

    ----------

   

   "Drazi cruiser K'dl'yim, pull back! They've got you surrounded! Pull-" Another explosion added fuel to the fireball that was surrounding Earth, and John's words died in his throat. Resolutely, he turned away to tackle yet another situation. Delenn, at his side, passed him tactical information and yelled out orders as desperate as his own.

   The Vorlons had plowed through half of their forces already, and the ratio of destruction was of several ships for every Vorlon one.

    ----------

   

   A disturbance appeared in space, adding itself to the rest. But this one was different, somehow. Rippled space gave way to waves of ships of designs described by fools, and which had never been confirmed. Wave after wave sighed softly into space.

   The attack went into a short lull as the presence was perceived by all. Vorlons turned to give their full attention to the intruders, firing lustily. The bleeding allied fleet, seeing opportunity, redoubled their efforts as the new arrivals added their firepower to the fray.

   The skies lit up, and then it was over.

   The Vorlons turned and left, cast out.

    ----------

   

   Two days after, they were still picking up the pieces. The destruction inflicted by the Vorlons on the Alliance was massive. The First Ones which had helped them had vanished once the battle was over.

   Which left a lot of broken ships and piles of debris. Nursing their wounds, they all stayed in the vicinity of Earth after communicating with Babylon 5 and others who could help with repairs and injured. They had also contacted Earth, which had acquiesced, albeit somewhat reluctantly, to the demands for assistance -as well they might, since they had been saved from obliteration by the ships which now asked them for assistance. Anything having to do with Earth's government was, transiently, tabled.

    ----------

   

   "So, what's the latest word on the situation?" Sheridan asked.

   "We sent the last of our wounded -the light cases- away to Earth's medical centers a few hours ago. As for the repairs, many of our ships will need several days more for repairs before they are fit to move," Lennier replied. Sheridan nodded tiredly and turned towards a viewscreen on another part of the bridge. Ivanova, onscreen, looked at him expectantly.

   "Well, we're in no hurry to leave. Besides, we've got a lot of people down on Earth that we need to stay for." He rubbed his eyes a moment.

   "So..." Ivanova said. "Are you going to respond to his offer?" Lennier turned to look at him also. President Clark had...contacted them, and asked to speak with him -at his convenience.

   "In a way," he said, simply.

    ----------

   

   The cold air bit him when he stepped out of the shuttle. He stood for a moment, taking in his surroundings. A chapel, built medieval style, stood brandishing its sharp spires -a curious whiff of past near the Geneva spaceport.

   He looked up at the clear blue sky and gathered his courage, then began walking.

   Entering the huge building which had housed the Earth Senate, he gave his name to the clerk at the front desk, then sat in a richly furnished office some floors above, waiting.

   "Captain Sheridan! I'm sorry to keep you waiting." He rose, not taking the other's proferred hand.

   "What do you want from me?" He asked. The other sat down, indicating Sheridan should so the same. After some hesitation, Sheridan sat.

   "I've come to understand that you played a critical role in the alliance of worlds which saved Earth form annihilation a few days ago." Clark began. Sheridan remained silent.

   "I want to make you an offer. You see, recent events have served to teach me that you were much undervalued in your previous position. I want to remedy that situation."

   Sheridan continued to sit in stony silence as the man continued.

   "Over the past year I've come to realize that shouldering the responsibilities of government entirely on my own is...perhaps not the best idea. You see, Earth is a big planet, and it's a big galaxy. Therefore I am planning to reinstate the Senate. And I want to offer you a position as Senator. I think we can both agree it would be a most interesting step upwards in your career."

   Sheridan looked at him wide-eyed. Did the man really think he was going to go for this?

   Clark looked at him expectantly.

   "If you've at all followed what's gone on during the past year, I think you'll know I won't go for this-" Sheridan began before Clark cut him off.

   "Aha! But you see Captain, you've been away from home for a *long* time. I'm sure it's been a long road. Wouldn't it be enjoyable to...change venues? To be able to look up and see the sky above your home at night?"

   Sheridan gave the man before him another hard glare as he answered. "I'm not interested," he said tightly. Clark looked at him, seeming to take his measure. The other's demeanor abruptly changed.

   "Then you leave me no choice. You'll leave Earth's solar system calmly once your repairs are complete, or the fate of the people you've entrusted to our care over the past few days will...make you regret your decision. And you can be sure I'll keep at least some as insurance after you leave. But they'll be well treated, if you and your friends don't move against us. Knowing the high moral ground you like to stand on to view the world, that should be an important incentive."

   "If I don't get my friends to move against *you*, you mean," Sheridan said angrily.

   "Say it whatever way you want Captain, and insult me as much as you want, but the bottom line is you've got to do as *I* say." He stared at Sheridan coldly.

   Then Sheridan spoke. "I'm afraid it's not going to be that way, Mister President." The title dripped with sarcasm, but the rest of his speech -indeed, his entire demeanor- had become strangely calm. "You see, there's one thing you don't realize. We didn't trust you when you said you were willing to help us. So we made sure we had some insurance. With every wounded we sent to you, we sent a Ranger. Now, in case you're not aware of this, the Rangers are a special force, trained in Minbari combat techniques. And another thing is that we have...friends, here on Earth. With their help, we made certain that all the people we sent down are well protected. And trust me on this...They *are*." He paused before continuing. "And finally, you should know that this building is not only surrounded, but that it has been mined. In less than an hour, unless I speak to my people to tell them to defuse the bomb, you and I are going to go to...separate spiritual destinations very shortly."

   Clark's face was, well... as pale as faces could get without actual cardiac distress being involved. "What do I have to do?" He said, breathlessly.

   "You are going to call for the Senate to be reinstituted, with as many of its former members as is humanly possible. You will write out the order, sign it, and seal it in the official way in less than one hour. Don't worry, I'll be here to help you." Sheridan grinned before continuing. "Then, before the end of the day, you will step down in favor of an interim President, to be named by the Senate. You will also give us the names of *all* of your friends. At the end of the day you will find yourself in a cell, where you will await your duly appointed court date."

   Clark moved to his terminal, and began writing.

   ------------

   

   He sat on the bed and put his head in his hands. It had been a long time since he had slept. But he had at least managed to see Lorien.

   He tried to find comfort on the tilted bed. He sighed, opening his eyes. It wasn't working.

   "Hello John." Delenn's face, smiling, was near his own. How could he have missed her coming in?

   The thoughts were wiped away from his mind as she kissed him softly. Sitting up, he took her in his arms, bringing her as close to him as he could, the kiss growing. They parted as Delenn pushed him away gently, breathless.

   "I thought you might like to know," she said, not moving away from him,"that your family is trying to contact you." He had sent out a message after Clark had been dealt with -which worked out to about two hours ago- but had not gotten a response. Indeed, he had not expected to receive one, given the fact that they probably had had to go in hiding when Babylon 5 had seceded.

   Rising, he took her arm, and they walked out of the crew quarters.

   

   [END]

 

*****

 

 

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