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Babylon 5 #01: The Passing of the Techno-Mages: Casting Shadows
Synopses & Reviews
Soon the war would come.
With a cry of joy Anna swooped toward the barren moon,
her sisters behind her. As her sleek body cut through the invigorating
vacuum of space, she surveyed the training site
eagerly, hungry for challenge. The Eye had specified the coordinates
to be attacked. This exercise was to be at close
range, surgical, precise.
Anna loved training, exploring her abilities, honing her
skills. She had learned the dizzying delight of movement, the
exhilarating leap to hyperspace, the grace of flexion, the joy
of the war cry. She had learned to deliver from their confinement
great balls of destruction; to calculate the most efficient
patterns of attack; to engage and never break off, not until the
enemy was utterly destroyed.
This would be the first time she uttered her war cry. As
she wheeled toward the target, Anna held her body in perfect
control. She felt tireless, invulnerable. The machine was
so beautiful, so elegant. Perfect grace, perfect control, form
and function integrated into the circuitry of the unbroken
loop, the closed universe. All systems of the machine passed
through her; she was its heart; she was its brain; she was the
machine. She kept the neurons firing in harmony. She synchronized
the cleansing and circulation in sublime synergy.
She beat out a flawless march with the complex, multileveled
systems. The skin of the machine was her skin; its bones and
blood, her bones and blood. She and the machine were one: a
great engine of chaos and destruction.
The rocky brown surface of the moon grew closer, taking
on definition, detail. She located the seven targets, boulders
within a wide, shallow crater. She and her six sisters were
each to destroy one. She narrowed her focus to her assigned
target, coordinated her speed with her course. Excitement
gathered in her throat. She plunged into the crater and
shrieked out her war cry. Her body rushed with an ecstasy of
fire. Energy blasted from her mouth in a brilliant red torrent.
The boulder was vaporized.
Around her, her sisters fell upon the targets, their mouths
Chaos through warfare, the Eye said. Evolution through
bloodshed. Perfection through victory.
One of the targets was not completely destroyed. A fragment
remained. Anna pounced on it, eager to shriek again.
She targeted it, screamed out chaos. The exhilaration shot
through her. The fragment was obliterated, a hole scorched
into the surface below.
Excited by the activity, her sisters fell upon the vanquished
target, shrieking out a cacophony of chaos. Particles of rock
flew up as they blasted a great hole into the moon, firing again
and again. Anna drew energy up into her mouth, screamed it
out in blazing red.
The greatest excitement is the thrill of battle, the Eye said.
The greatest joy is the ecstasy of victory.
Anna's greatest desire was to feel it. And she knew she
For soon the war would come.
The ship sang of the beauty of order, of perfect symmetry
and ultimate peace. It glided through the calm blackness of
space, absorbing it. Energy circulated through its petals in a
regular rhythm. The serenity of its silent passage, the unity of
its functioning, the satisfaction of service wove through its
Ahead, a blue-and-white orb glowed in the blackness, the
goal of the journey. The ship slipped through the stillness
toward it, following Kosh's direction eagerly. Obedience was
its greatest joy.
Within the song, Kosh slowed the ship's speed, directing it
to stop a safe distance from the planet, which was known to
its inhabitants as Soom. Although most of the planet's inhabitants
had little technology, two lived among them and served
as guardians, two fabulists, who would detect his presence if
he went too close.
Soon more would come as the fabulists gathered for their
assemblage. Long had Kosh watched them, for three hundred
and thirty and three such assemblages. He had watched as
different races had become dominant within the group, the
most recent being Humans. He had watched as the fabulists
gradually transformed from anarchy to order. They had
achieved some admirable goals, had created fleeting moments
of great beauty.
But now the universe was gathering itself for a great conflagration.
The forces of chaos had returned to their ancient
home and had begun to build their resources for war. The Vorlons,
Kosh among them, likewise prepared. The fabulists did
not know the danger of their position. They carried great
power. They could be the pivot on which the great war turned.
Many among the Vorlons thought the time for action was
now. They did not trust the fabulists. Yet Kosh felt they must
watch just a while longer. The fabulists faced a difficult decision,
and they should be allowed to make it. If they chose
wrongly, then they would die. But let them first choose. Great
power carried both great danger and great possibility.
Kosh altered the ship's song, directing the ship to extrude
several buoys, which would take up positions around the
planet and observe it. Then he would return to Babylon 5.
And he would watch this one, last assemblage.
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