"Welcome to the Warlock class's main test system," announced Ivanova. "Major highlights of this 'exciting' system are one star, two gas giants and an asteroid belt I've come to hate."

Ark Royal had just come though the wrecked jump gate because it was situated over a L Point. Ivanova could still see the wreckage of the Warlock itself floating close to it. She focused on the mission. There was a knock on the Bridge door.

"Permission to enter," said Clanwellin.

Douglas turned and looked at the younger man. He smiled.

"Granted Mr Clanwellin, " he said. "The doctor has cleared you fully fit for bridge duty, so sit next to Captain Ivanova and observe."

"Aye aye, sir." The younger man looked disappointed with this.

"Any help you can give the Captain with our systems would, of course, be appreciated."

The younger man smiled at this and sat next to Ivanova. However, his smile faded when he glanced over that the Engineering station. Lennier was working away quite diligently. Ivanova looked at him quizzically.

"Sorry Ma'am," He apologised. "I'm just used to seeing Kelly there."

"I know what you mean, "she replied, pointing to blips on the scanners. "That's all that is left of my command."

"Sir, " Smith called from the navigation station, "I think we've got a problem."

"Only one Mr Smith?" Douglas replied wryly.

"Indeed Sir, There is something wrong with the Star."

"Define wrong?"

"Well, it's giving off some kind of odd readings."

"Odd? That's hardly what you call scientific," replied Douglas.

"Well, we're getting some kind of solar pulse, it's disrupting all the gravitational fields and communications in the system."

"Oh? Gravitational?"

"Yes Sir."

"Let me guess, No L points."

There was an awkward pause.

"Yes sir."

Douglas sighed. Everybody on the bridge knew that it meant they were marooned in this system and thanks to the jamming; they had no way to call for help.

"Right, we can't worry about that now. Set course for the system's sun. We're going to see if there's anything we can do about that pulse," ordered Douglas.

"Course laid in sir!" replied Smith.

"Switch to Stealth Mode and engage LDS."

Ark Royal turned to face the star and shot forward, with a green flash.

Delenn stood on the bridge of the Agamemnon, not in command but as a VIP. Normally, she'd feel quite uncomfortable on an Earth Alliance cruiser. Her opinion of Earth Alliance technology had changed much in the last few years but you couldn't exactly call the design beautiful. She also knew that some Earth Force personnel still considered the Minbari and, by association, the ISA as a potential enemy.

The Earth Civil war had a lot to answer for there. However, this ship was the exception. Before he was posted on Babylon-5, this had been John's ship. The amount of stories he had told her about his exploits on this vessel had almost bored her to death. However, the advantage was she probably knew this crew almost as well as John. The First Officer, MacDougan, had been promoted to Captain and the crew had mostly stayed the same.

As the Earth Alliance's most successful first contact ship, Earth force must have realised not to change a winning formula. The crew was also of the opinion that if Delenn was good enough for their old Captain, then she was good enough for them.

"We're approaching the designated jump gate," reported navigation.

"Take us straight in," ordered MacDougan, "All hands, go to level one alert."

The Omega Class Cruiser burst into real space but there was nothing there apart from a couple of white stars.

"Captain, could you put me in contact with those ships?" Delenn asked.

"Certainly," he nodded to the comms officer.

"Attention, White Stars. This is Delenn aboard the Agamemnon. Please identify yourselves?"

"White Star Four and Thirty Three. Entilza. The president asked us to relay new orders to any vessel that arrives here?"

"And where is the president at the moment?"

"Third system spin ward from here."

"Very well, I'm updating those orders. This investigation is over; any ships are to return to Babylon 5 for debriefing."

MacDougan walked over to the sensors officer who was attracting his attention. The officer pointed to the screen and then the captain turned round and put himself on ship wide call.

"This is the Captain, All hands to prepare for potential enemy contact!"

Delenn was startled. The Captain walked back over to Delenn.

"We've picked up four contacts approaching at very high speed. E.T.A. two minutes."

"If this is the Commonwealth, then it's probably better that the earth alliance, makes the contact." advised Delenn, "The White Stars might provoke them."

"That shouldn't be a problem, could you ask the White stars to form up behind us."

Delenn relayed the request and the two white stars formed up behind the larger cruiser.

There were four flashes of green and four Commonwealth Corvettes appeared close to the Agamemnon. They quickly turned and flew straight towards them.

The Captain turned to the comms officer.

"Open channels." He ordered. "Attention commonwealth vessels! This is Captain MacDougan on the Earth Alliance Cruiser Agamemnon. Please notify us of your intentions. We are at a level one Alert and any hostile action taken against us or our allies will be met with a robust response."

The four corvettes almost immediately broke off their run and split their formation. A corvette took up position behind the Agamemnon and the white starts while the remainder pulled in ahead and faced the front of the Cruiser. Delenn could make out the nameplate. It was the Dreadnaught.

"Captain MacDougan?" came a voice over com-link, "That's an ugly ship you've got there, Ed."

The Captain looked blackly at the ship through the view port. That voice was very familiar, from very long time ago.

"Jefferrson Clay?" the Captain sounded astonished, "Aren't you dead?"

"It feels like it sometimes," came the reply. "Can I ask when the last time I saw you was?"

"The holding action at Io. We were managing ok until the Minbari brought in the Big Cruisers. It was only the Yagamoto ramming the main cruiser that allowed us to get away. You bought me a drink at Mars and we both saluted the Admiral."

"That we did, how did you avoid the line?"

"Deep Patrol, scouting out possible escape routes."

"Yes, a bad time. Well Captain, I'm ordering my ships to stand down to level two. You prepared to do that yourself?"

There was a smile on the Captain's face. "Already as good as done. Can I invite you aboard our ship? We have people here who'd like to talk."

There was a pause. "I accept. Myself and my engineer will come over."

The ship in front of the view port moved out of sight as it began it's docking manoeuvre.

Delenn looked at the Captain, "You know this man?"

"Clay?" The MacDougan was grinning from ear to ear, "Old drinking buddies from the Earth Minbari war. I thought he died on the line."

Delenn was relieved, this was the first bit of good luck they've had with contact with the Commonwealth.

Ark Royal dropped out of LDS, at about 0.7AU from the star, about the equivalent orbit of Venus back home, and started to scan for anomalies. It didn't take long for the ships sensor's to register one.

"Oh, my god!" Ivanova could not believe what the sensors were telling her.

"What?" Douglas looked over at the Earth Force Captain to see that her face had gone deathly pale.

"Look at the star." She whispered.

Everybody stared at the console in front of him or her. They could see a coronal mass ejection of the star reaching out to a small dot some way from the star itself. It looked as if the star was being drunk dry.

"I would say," observed Lennier dryly, "That is not a natural phenomenon."

"You can say that again," replied Ivanova.

Douglas called up a close scan. It was a massive structure, slightly bigger than Babylon 5 but black in appearance with the same spines and aggressive looking emplacements as the black ships from years ago.

"That's definitely shadow technology," said Ivanova.

"Oh!" There was startled cry from Lennier.

"I guess that's not good news," said Douglas.

"In a few minutes, we'll see something big happen," reported Lennier. "There's a big power surge coming from the Jammer. I think that we're going to loose in-system communication as well."

"Good job we've got nobody to talk to." replied Smith.

"Well, I've got to say," said Douglas. "We've got nothing onboard that could scratch that. Not even our REMs could help here, if we had any."

"So we're stuck in this system and can't jump out, we can't call for help and our target is so big we can't eliminate it," said Lennier.

"Yes, unless can anybody new ideas." replied Douglas.

There was an awkward silence.

"Well, there is one thing," offered Ivanova. "Shadow technology is vulnerable to anything based on Volorn tech."


"Well, the Warlock had some built in. If we can locate the right part, then we can ram it into the Jammer."

"I see," replied Douglas.

The Star pulsed as the Jammer made more demands on the Star.

"I'm picking up something else as well. I think it's a transmission."

"Can we hear it?" asked Douglas.

"It's a video transmission," replied Lennier. "I'll feed it through to the other consoles."

On one side of the screen, a large fleet was visible on the left. They mostly consisted of Centari and Minbari vessels. On the right was a slightly smaller fleet but mostly consisting of corvettes like the Ark Royal, and three types of vessel, which was unfamiliar to Ivanova and Lennier.

"Oh Lord," whispered Smith. "They've launched the home fleet."

"Would you look at that!" exclaimed Clanwellin. "T-Fighters, Bastille Destroyers and Danube Cruisers!"

Douglas grimaced, "I've seen what those things can do. It's not going to be a walkover like the Battle of Line was."

"We've got to get that Jammer." Ivanova was a little panicked. She knew that Either Sheridan or Delenn would be with that fleet.

"Ok, we're going to have to do just that," said Douglas with determination. "Mr Smith Lay in a course back to the Jump Gate. Captain Ivanova, when we get there, identify the parts we need and Mr Lennier monitor that video feed. We're going Jousting."

"Oh! We're in trouble now." said Sheridan.

"Mr President?" said Number One as she walked into the room.

Both Sheridan and his chief intelligence officer were in the command room on the Minbari Cruiser Enphilige.

"New Fighters, Mid Level Capital ships and those new cruisers. I don't think they're here to resolve things peaceable."

"Are we going to even try?"

Sheridan looked shocked by this, "Of course."

"Get me the nearest White Star." He called to the ship.

"Mr President! White Star Nine Reporting" The ship was highlighted on the display.

"Captain, I need you to get us reinforcements, Find the Narn and Earth Fleets and tell them to get over here flank speed."

"Yes Sir!" The White Star broke formation and flew off at high speed.

"Maybe if they see Earth Forces allied with us that will be enough to stop this." He said to Number One.

"Sir, estimated time till engagement is five minutes." came a disembodied voice in the chamber.

Sheridan signalled for external communication.

"This is ISA President John Sheridan to Commonwealth Fleet. We are here investigating the intergalactic communication problem and are not involved in any hostile action against you or you're Fleet. The Incident with the Centari vessel was unfortunate and an investigation has been launched."

He paused for breath.

"Please withdraw from the area, we will leave once our investigations are complete."

They waited a minute; there was no acknowledgment and no change to the Commonwealth fleet formation. Sheridan looked at the Intelligence Chief. She shook her head.

"That fleet is on war footing."

"I know, I've got to try and talk to them but order the fleet to level one Alert anyway."

Sheridan asked for external communication.

"Attention Commonwealth Fleet! I ask again to break off. We don't want a fight but this fleet will defend itself if fired upon."

Suddenly there was a flash from the ISA fleet as a couple of Centari destroyers launched gravity mines.

"Hold Fire!" yelled Sheridan. But it was too late.

The Commonwealth ships spread out and returned fire. To Sheridan it was as if someone has switched a cosmic light switch and the eternal night of space was lit up.

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