"I'm sorry. Mr President." Replied the Minbari on the link, "but we've had no response."
John Sheridan blew out yet another breath as he tried to keep his temper in check.
"OK." He said "But as…"
He never got to complete his sentence.
"Sir, I will notify you, if we receive anything." The link terminated.
John Sheidan was a well but frustrated man. Sat at the desk in the Presidential Office, he allowed himself several dark thoughts about the Minbari at the other end of the comlink before breathing out and forcing himself to be calm. He'd managed to get out of bed a couple of days ago, only to find that his wife had been missing for nearly two weeks. Her entire flight of White Stars had gone missing, as had any trace of their crews. Further searches of their last reported position had been fruitless.
On top of all that, now that he was back on his feet, the whole of the Alliance had demanded his attention at once. He'd managed to deal with the demands of the Drazi and the Narn to resolve a minor incident, which had been blown out of all proportion. He'd accepted the apologies from the Packmara Ambassador for the flu, which involved one of those world-weary ceremonies that the Minbari loved. Finally, He'd managed to explain to David that his mother had gone missing.
This was really the first opportunity he'd had to try and look into the missing white star issue himself. He wasn't too worried about Delenn just yet. She'd gone missing before under odder circumstances and for far longer than this time. A knock at the door interrupted his musing.
A tall, blonde woman walked into the office. Head of alliance intelligence, sat down across from him without asking. It was only in moments like this that Shreidan reminded himself of how much the Alliance relied on her. Ex Mars freedom fighter, cool and calm under pressure, with a super human ability to analyse data put in front of her, she was normally as cold and remote as a monk on a mountaintop. However, Sheridan knew that there was one subject, which would break that ice like exterior.
"Mr. President." She stated formally.
"Number One." He replied. She always preferred being referred to as her old resistance handle. "I hope you've got some good news for me."
"Yes and No." she replied.
"Bad news first." He sighed.
"I've got nothing on Delenn's flight." She stated quickly, "There isn't anything at their last known position, no wreckage, no background radiation and no black boxes."
"That implies that they weren't destroyed then."
"Not with any weapon we know off."
"Captured then?" he asked.
"I'm unable to speculate sir."
"What's the good news?"
"I might have a lead on the flights of white stars which Delenn went looking for."
Number One stood up and walked over to the viewer and placed a data crystal in it.
"We intercepted this from White Star 42, two weeks after it was reported missing."
The picture sprang to life. The White Star's diagnostics were at the bottom of the screen. It was in a star system that Sheridan couldn't recognise. It, as well as a second white star, was targeting a single vessel that was approaching at speed. Both White Stars opened fire on the other ship with their side batteries, scoring hit after hit but not having any effect.
As it passed straight between them, it started a 180-pitch rotation. As the point of view began to turn, they could see the other White Star hit again and again until it exploded in a ball of light. White Star 42 completed its turn but its momentum was still in reverse. Then the viewpoint shuddered and half of the diagnostics went red.
The camera started a nauseating slow vertical spin. They could see the White Star's adversary come closer until they could make it out quite clearly. It was a silver ship, with a pointed nose, a flat saucer like body with wings pointing out each side but the most distinctive feature was the size of the engines at the back. They were spread out like a fish's tail. As the ship got closer, a vague feeling of recognition began to creep into Sheridan's mind. The White Star fired in the approaching ship when the ship came into view, but again the weapons had no effect.
The opponent fired and the screen when blank.
"Oh my." Sheridan gasped, not since the Shadow war had he seen White Stars receive punishment like that.
"Spectacular isn't It." replied Number One.
"The crew of those White Stars?"
"The location of this fight?"
"Is there anything else which is known?" Sheridan was fighting the rise of frustration again.
"Yes." Number One turned back to the screen, "Find frame 4587 and enhance sectors 38-48"
A view of the front portion of the opposing vessel came into view and they could make out the nameplate quite clearly. "CNV-399 Ark Royal."
"It's in English?" Sheridan was astonished.
"Yes Sir, I've had to run some cross references back on Earth." She said.
"And how's Stephen?" he asked with a slight smile.
Number One controlled herself well, not blushing too much but giving enough away to show that Dr Franklin probably had been making house calls. Sheridan allowed himself a small smile. Delenn would call it teasing but a little of him was reassured that, despite appearances, Number One was just as human as he was.
"Fine." she replied, regaining her composure. "But most of the references came from the old British Navy or the Earth Minbari War."
"What was the Earth Minbari reference?"
"A Commander Douglas used a ruse to fool a Minbari Strike force to retreat by …"
"Calling on a non existent carrier group 'Ark Royal' for assistance." Sheridan finished. "I remember hearing about it. The Minbari cruisers thought they were going to go up against most of the home fleet when they weren't ready to, so they pulled back. Do we know what happened to this Commander Douglas?"
"He was assigned to battle group BG at the battle of the line. The whole group is listed as missing."
"Oh, "replied Sheridan, "I keep on forgetting how many were lost in that battle."
There was a pause as Sheridan composed himself. The vague feeling or recognition clicked in the back of his mind.
"I've seen plans for those ships." He exclaimed.
"Or at least proposals for them during the Earth-Minbari war." He explained, "We never had the technology to be able to build them, so the designers started work on vessels we could build."
"The Dreadnought Class corvette. Similar in role to our White Stars, but the capabilities were nothing like we've just seen."
"So we have someone who has access to technology on parity to our own and is knocking out White Stars." observed Number One.
"It's got to be supporters of the old President Clark Regime." concluded Sheridan, "There's no one else who could have access to that level of technology and they're earth based."
"Normally I would agreed." replied Number One. "However, in this case I have to disagree."
She called up a different presentation on the screen. There was a picture of the exactly same kind of ship, only in this case its weapons were in full flow. Bolts of Plasma hammering into whatever was taking the pictures. This time the nameplate could be made out to read CNV-301 Dreadnaught.
"That's definitely the same design." Confirmed Sheridan. "They even kept the same the registration number. Any idea what CNV stands for?"
"None Sir." Replied Number One, "If you could read the executive order?"
Sheridan read the executive order by President Clark regarding this vessel and any vessel coming into contact with it.
"My God. Clark ordered that?"
It occurred to Sheridan at that moment, that as soon as you think you know the way the universe works, it will kick you in the pants for being so arrogant. Suddenly the search for Delenn became much more urgent.