"Welcome aboard Captain." said Delenn, as Captain Clay walked into the Captain's briefing room
Clay looked at the woman in front of him with curiosity as he sat down at the conference table across from her. Captain MacDougan sat at the head of the table.
"You're Minbari?" Clay asked uncomfortably.
"Yes, " She smiled. "I'm John Sheridan's wife."
"I see, that means you must be Delenn."
"That's correct." She said. "I hope we can resolve this situation quickly."
"It's hard not to take it personally when I've been attacked twice by your forces, once by your husband and once by the Centari."
"The Centari?" Delenn was shocked by this, "I can understand the misunderstandings between the Minbari and the Commonwealth, thanks to Captain Douglas but the Centari…."
"You've seen Douglas?"
"Yes, Ark Royal was instrumental to help resolve the situation thus far."
"I see," Clay paused. "And where are they now."
"Captain Douglas and the Ark Royal crew are investigating the Galaxy wide communication interference. The assumption was that it was the Commonwealth causing the Jamming but Captain Ivanova had other ideas."
"Captain Ivanova?" Clay looked at the Earth Force Captain for an explanation.
"Captain of the latest cruiser prototype," explained MacDougan.
"We're starting in the middle of things," said Delenn. "I think we should start at the beginning with the attacks on your systems by these 'Black Stars'."
The true history of the events was relayed to Clay, who remained impassive as the explanation was given.
"Do you have any proof?" he asked sceptically after it was over.
"Captain Douglas said you'd need proof," Delenn said and handed over a data crystal. "He gave me this."
Clay looked over it.
"He said, only an officer of the Commonwealth would know how to access the information," said Delenn.
"Very Well," replied Clay, accepting the crystal. "Would you mind if you gave me time to review this on my ship?"
"Not a problem Captain," said MacDougan. "We'll re-convene when you're ready."
It only took Clay ten minutes, for him to review the footage and return. He appeared slightly more upbeat when he next walked into the Conference room.
"Having reviewed the footage and seen the evidence, I have to agree with Douglas' assessment that the events have been manipulated by a third party. I'm afraid that I can't transmit these findings back home because of the jamming but that will certainly, stop the hostilities between the ISA and ourselves."
"That's a relief." said Delenn, visibly relaxing.
"However, we need to get this information to the Commonwealth HQ and that's…"
The comlink on Clay's wrist bleeped, "This is Clay."
"Sir, We have just received this message from HQ. 'Attention all vessels, as of the 0800, the home fleet was attacked by a Minbari/ Centari Fleet at C2. The Commonwealth has taken this as an Act of War and will respond in kind. All Captains are required to do their duty."
"Oh Hell," swore Clay. "Send this response. 'This is Captain Clay of the Dreadnaught; I've recently received intelligence from Captain Douglas of the Ark Royal. This evidence should be enough to halt hostilities."
"Sir, I'm trying but it seems even the text can't get through!" replied the Officer.
"Can we raise the other Corvettes?"
"Captain, we have to find my Husband. He's got the authority to stop the ISA Fleets."
Clay considered this.
"Ed? Can you take piggy back my ship to the ISA Fleet."
"That shouldn't be a problem." replied the Earth Force Captain.
"Attention Corvette Flight," Clay called into his communicator. "We are transmitting a file to you. This is to be taken to Commonwealth HQ without delay. Dreadnaught will stay with the Earth Alliance vessels to help resolve this situation."
"Shouldn't we join the fight sir?" came a response from one of the Ships.
"You can join the fight after you've carried out my orders Mr."
"Aye Aye, Sir."
The Three corvettes broke out of formation, a couple of minutes later; there was a green flash of light as the three disappeared into LDS.
"If the Commonwealth has declared war, then who ever has been behind this has won," explained Clay. "We've been waiting to repay the Minbari for the last twenty years; it might be difficult to stop this now it's started."
Delenn was struck by the irony of the situation. Her 'order to kill them all' in revenge for Dukat had spiralled out of control leading to the Earth-Minbari war. And now that order had come to haunt her again. It felt that she's trapped herself in a circle that she couldn't leave.
"Flight Four! Intercept Target Alpha, draw their fire away from the cruisers," ordered Sheridan.
A tight beam transmission was sent to a flight of White Stars of the Enphinge's port bow and the group of ships headed into a large amount of corvettes. They scattered the attack but did no damage. There were blue and purple flashes as the White Star's scored hit after hit but it was obvious they weren't damaging their opponents.
Sheridan scanned the battle, after the initial salvo, the Commonwealth had retreated it's big ships back and left the fighter classes, corvettes and white stars to duel it out. It was obvious to Sheridan that the opposing commander was being cautious. He was evaluating the ISA fleet and probably had more information about Sheridan fleets' capabilities.
The jamming had ramped up again and they'd lost ship to ship communication just as before. This time, Sheridan had been prepared. The tight beam transmission couldn't be jammed. The only problem was that it might give an idea to what ships will be ordered to move.
The ISA Fleet had lost a few capital ships, none destroyed. However, they were several drifting dead in space. He noticed that they didn't destroy the ships, they just rendered them useless. It was obvious that he was trying a holding action until the Narn and Earth Fleet reinforced them.
As long as he kept his forces back and repelling the probes and fiets from the Commonwealth, then there was hope that this situation could be resolved. He noticed that the corvettes had regrouped but weren't approaching. They'd formed up into a sheer wall of ships. Sheridan was just about to order another pass by flight four again, when all of the corvettes launched missiles. They were targeted for this cruiser. His opponent had correctly deduced the command ship for his fleet.
"All vessels, target incoming missiles and fire." Sheridan ordered, trying to stay calm.
The entire fleet opened up at the incoming missiles but it seemed the missiles evaded the fire as if they had pilots flying them. However, against the entire ISA's fire power, the numbers were soon whittled down. The proximity warning sounded as the remaining two missiles approached the flag ship. One missile was caught by interceptors from the Cruiser but the other slammed into the ship and exploded.
Sheridan was thrown to the floor, as the ship lurched underneath him. Alarms sounded all around him. He clambered to his feet.
"What did we loose?" he shouted over the Alarms. In his gut, he already knew the answer.
"They hit the tight beam transmitter," came the reply. "We can't contact anyone in the fleet."
Sheridan knew what it meant. He'd given orders that the next cruiser in line would take command, if anything disabled this ship. Those orders should now be acted on but it did mean that he was no longer in charge of the battle.
"Right Sir, We have four strapped to us!" Chief Tech Lennon announced over the link. "We've linked the release option into the missile launcher."
"So we've got big dumb fires then?" asked Douglas
"Best we could do sir!"
"Wouldn't expect anything else Chief," complemented Douglas. "Get your team back on board and get ready for the big run."
"Aye Aye Sir!"
The Ark Royal had located the front section of the Warlock. There were five or six 'tentacles' which reached forward from the front of the destroyed ship section. Ivanova explained that is was part of the forward weapon systems and had been reverse engineered from the wreckage of Vorlon vessels at the end of the shadow war.
The tech crew had attached one 'tentacle' over the top and bottom of each of the missile pods.
"Once they're aboard, we'll have a small test and then we're straight in," said Douglas. "How's the situation?"
"Both Fleets have engaged with fighters and Midrange vessels," reported Lennier. "The big ships haven't had contact yet."
"All aboard, sir."
"Attention all hands, man your stations," order Douglas. "Mr. Smith, start your test."
Ark Royal moved forward, under Smith's delicate touch. A couple of turns later, he turned round.
"A bit sluggish, but she'll do!"
"Right, Set course and engage LDS." ordered Douglas.
The Agamemnon ploughed through hyperspace as fast as her engines could push. Delenn, MacDougan and Clay stood on the bridge. Delenn noticed that Clay would send a message using his link every five minutes or so.
"That is for security?" she asked him.
"I'm checking in."
"Are you all so paranoid?" she asked.
"Delenn, after facing your people in the war, we're allowed to be paranoid." Clay shot back. "Are Minbari allowed to take charge of EA Cruisers?"
"Delenn isn't in command," replied MacDougan. "She's allowed to make requests but not issue orders. However, as vice president of the ISA, commander in chief of the Rangers and she's the captain's wife, that gives her a bit of, as you say, clout?"
"Besides," said Delenn, "I practically know this vessel and her crew just as much as Jon does. He certainly talks about her enough."
"Everything?" asked Clay.
"From the flutter in the fusion reactor every second Wednesday, to the on-going drama of Lt Tong and her boyfriend on Proxima Three," Delenn said confidently.
"Ma'am," the Chinese officer at environmental, Clay assumed that it was Tong, spoke up. "I'm happy to say he's no longer my boyfriend."
"Lt, that is such good news," Delenn said, turning to the younger woman. "Apparently he never stopped, as Jon would say, 'boffing' the girl at the Proxima Three communication hub."
There was an awkward silence. The woman look devastated.
"I meant to say," She said in a quiet voice. "That he's my husband now!"
More silance. Delenn wished that the ground would swallow her up. She looked around the bridge to see the other bridge crew desperately trying not to laugh. Captain MacDougan couldn't look her in the eye.
"I'm so sorry Lt." she tried to apologize.
"That's not your problem, Ma'am," said Lt Tong recovering some degree of composure, "It will be his, when I get back to Proxima Three."
"Everything about the crew?" said Clay, with a smirk on his face.
"Almost everything," she admitted bashfully and tried to change the subject
"I can get Jon to get the ISA fleet to disengage, can you do the same?"
"I have options," said Clay.
"You mean a general order Seventeen?" said MacDougan.
Delenn looked at MacDougan with puzzlement.
"Any Officer from Ensign up to Commodore can issue a GO17 and take command of the fleet, if they believe they have information which the present commanding officer does not have." explained the EA Captain. "However, there are extreme penalties for its use. After the incident, the officer will be arrested, stripped of all rank and the drummed out of the service, unless there are mitigating circumstances."
"Or they're put in front of a firing squad." said Clay, "If I remember rightly, it's been issued four times and in each case no mitigating circumstances were found."
Delenn realised why Clay was finding it difficult. He was evaluating if the circumstances was bad enough to use a GO17 and risk his own life by doing so.
"Sir, we can jump into the system." called the navigation officer.
MacDougan nodded and the ship lurched as it dropped out of hyperspace and right into the middle of the biggest fighter battle since the shadow war.
Clay was immediately on the link. "Can we raise the Admiral?"
"Negative, Sir." came the reply. "The jamming is even worse here. The text links aren't working."
"Sir, I can't raise any of the ISA fleet." reported the Communication officer, "The Jamming is too thick."
"Well, At least we're safe." said Clay.
"Did they change the definition of the word safe while you were away?" said MacDougan. "We're in the middle of the biggest fire fight I have ever seen."
"Because we're docked, you're marked as friendly to all our fighters," explained Clay. "I imagine you're marked as friendly to the ISA as well."
"Safe we maybe," observed Delenn. "But until this jamming clears, there's nothing we can do."