Delenn paced the bridge of White Star 2. She was getting impatient. Normally just that made her angry, but add to that the frustration she was feeling and she was working her way into a full-blown fury. Over the last few days they'd lost most of the task force. The exasperating thing was they didn't know whom to. Ships didn't report in and when they arrived in the appropriate system, there was no sign of them. There was no wreckage, beacons or even engine emission traces.
At first they lost a couple of ships, so she had ordered them to travel in pairs. Then they stared loosing pairs. So again, she ordered another double up to four ships in each patrol. Then the four-ship formations went missing. The unknown opposition was good. The ships were just missing. She was down to her last flight of four white star ships out of a fleet of thirty.
The only good sign was that the ships weren't being destroyed. It was like an area on Earth that John explained to her once, the Bermuda triangle where aircraft and surface ships would disappear without trace. Other ships had passed through this sector without problem. It seemed that when a white star flew through this area, it disappeared.
Delenn continued to pace going over the situation in her mind. She reasoned that it must be something about the white stars that made them a target. The obvious answer was because the ships were the Alliance's ships, but maybe there was another thing about them that made the easy to capture. Perhaps to their adversary, this was the only ship they could capture.
She shook her head away. She made her mind up that they were being targeted because if the Alliance and not because of the type of ship. White stars were the only ships available exclusively to the Alliance. That was until the new victory class destroyers came on line. According to Mr. Garibaldi, those ships were at least a year away from completion but once build they would be a powerful addition to the fleet.
The Minbari ranger at the engineering had walked up to her. Delenn had asked all the crew not to use her title while addressing her. She stopped her pacing and turned to face him. He looked young for a Minbari and probably just finished his training. He reminded her so much of Lennier when he'd first joined her as her aid when she was the ambassador to Babylon 5. She pushed the thought away with a grimace and focused on the present.
"We're picking some thruster emissions not far away."
"Are they White Stars?" She asked.
"We can't tell at this distance." he replied.
"Set courser for the emissions but put the flight on alert."
Saran gave a small bow and walked back to the engineering console. Delenn took a deep cleansing breath and sat down in the captain's chair. It was either the missing White Stars or the reason why they were missing in the first place. She asked for a tactical display. There were just emissions but no ships. As her flight got closer they saw one White Star, only the colour was wrong. It was black.
"In Valen's Name." Breathed Saran. "What have they done to it?"
At that moment, it must have detected Delenn's flight and moved off at full burn.
"Follow it." She ordered.
Delenn's ship began to pick up speed. Then it happened. Another ship just appeared right in front of them.
"Hard Over." She called.
Her white star pulled straight up and she could feel the force of the manoeuvre even as the artificial gravity tried to adjust. The huge ship fired a blue projectile at one of the flight, hitting it amidships. That White Star flashed blue and drifted. More projectiles were fired.
"Evasive." She called but before anything could be done they'd been hit.
She was expecting some kind of explosion but there wasn't anything of the sort. The ship's consoles and displays flashed slightly brighter than usual and then darkened. She felt the engines switch themselves off and the ship began to drift. With no power coming from the engines, the artificial gravity failed. She found herself floating with the rest of the bridge crew who weren't tied down.
"Is everybody all right?" she asked.
The bridge crew nodded affirmatives whilst looking worried.
"Saran." She called the ranger's attention, "I want you to get a manual status report. See if there is anything we can do."
He nodded and after forcing the door, floated out of the room. Delenn floated to the front view port, hoping to see something. There was another white star in visual range, probably only six to seven Km. off the bow.
The other ship just hung there as a dark shadow passed over it. The ship that had launched the projectiles hovered over it. It was similar to the big shadow vessels that were so terrifying during the Great War. It had the same black organic look, what looked like large spines coming out the back and what looked like two gigantic pincers at the front. The pincers moved and caught hold of the other white star, which made no attempt to move.
It was picked up like a toy and then a cavernous maw opened in the black ship. With horrid fascination, Delenn watched as the white star was pulled inside. Then it was gone and only the black ship remained. Its form wavered and the disappeared. Delenn recognised the way the ship had gone. It was definitely based on shadow technology. Only their ships jumped into hyperspace like that.
"Delenn." The voice came from the communication link, "This is Saran. I think you should come down here. I'm in power plant."
"I'll be right there." She said.
On the power plant wall, there was a black patch where blue should be. It pulsed and glowed. If you watched for a little while you could see it growing, spreading. Saran looked back from it to Delenn.
"It started from the impact point." He said.
Delenn nodded for him to continue.
"It quickly spread to the power point and has managed to shut the reactor down. We've been trying to stop it but…" he paused and pointed to a body covered by a sheet near the wall where the black shape was.
"Valen's Name." Delenn Breathed.
"At least it was quick." Saran continued, "We've lost gravity control, life support and everything except internal communications. Our engineers say even with only strict meditation, our air will last only a few hours, but the cold of space will freeze us long before that. They give half an hour."
Delenn signed. She'd found what she'd been looking for, but at the cost of thirty white stars and her own life. At least John and David were safe, but she was praying that he would not make the same mistake and follow her.
Half an hour, She thought, What could be done in half an hour.
She looked around at the people she'd pulled along with her. They all looked at her as if she was still in control of the situation. Complete faith that she held all the answers. What could she say to them? She tried to think about any possibilities. One flashed through her mind
"Do we have any fighters on board?" she asked.
"Yes Delenn. We have a flight of four." Replied one of the crewmembers
"Can we link the fighter's power plants up to the life support?" she asked.
"I don't know." Replied Saran, "Might take some time."
"You've got less than Half an Hour." Said Delenn.
Saran nodded and pointed at two of the crew.
"You two come with me." He turned back to Delenn, "We'll let you know."
It was the longest half an hour that she'd faced. It was no good hanging around the crew. It might put too much pressure on them. She sat alone, tied into the command chair waiting. There didn't seem to be anything to do but wait. She undid the strap keeping her to the chair and floated to the view ports. Looking out over the various stars and looked longingly out at them.
Delenn noticed there was a black patch in the sky, which blocked out some of the stars. The patch was getting closer. She hit her link.
"Saran. How's that link up?" she asked.
"We're just about to try powering life support." he said.
The lights on the bridge grew brighter and Delenn fell to the floor as the gravity restarted. She quickly clambered to her feet and looked out the view port. She could see that the shape had formed itself into the black ship what had taken the other white star away with it.
"Saran. Is there any change of getting power to the engines?" she asked.
"None. It took us half an hour to link up two fighters to get life support." He replied." We don't have enough for the engines."
It was worth a try. She was resigned to her fate, I'll see you where no shadows fall John.
The Black ship hovered over the white star for a few seconds and then grabbed the ship with its two pincers. She could see from the view port, it's huge maw opening and the some blue light shining from within it. It got brighter. The last thing she remembered before passing out was that a White Star's deck is very hard when you fall on it for a second time.