I don't own Babylon 5; just this story.
Please let me know what you think, and I am sorry I haven't updated recently.
The Beginning of the Age of the Raiders.
Sitting and strapped into the command chair on the bridge of the Lexington, John Sheridan was reading a coded communique sent from EarthForce command. Operation Exodus was going as planned, and right now, with his ship and six others in orbit above one of their outermost colonies, John felt exposed. He had been feeling that way each time his squadron travelled through the Underspace to their colony worlds which were still holding out against their enemies so they could be evacuated.
So far there hadn't been any Minbari, Narn, or Centauri activity seen in this part of Earth Alliance space, but Sheridan knew they were coming although he was concerned by the lack of recent attacks; his best guess was they had noticed the lack of any ships being sent to fight them, and they were trying to find out why so they could change their war plans. That would have been what he would have done himself. He rubbed his eyes tiredly before he looked back down at the communique. There were reports of the minefields being laid in hyperspace and in normal space before the hyperspace mines were triggered, multiple fusion explosions sending devastating shockwaves of energy through the already volatile domain of space before the jump gates themselves were destroyed while they were activated and a barely spaceworthy ship was sent into the threshold of the vortex before it exploded.
Sheridan smirked, wondering how the other bastard aliens in the galaxy, not just their current enemies, the Narns and the Minbari, were taking that, but he found he genuinely didn't care. While all other races who had destroyed a Jumpgate, either by accident or by design, had been shunned, Sheridan truly did not care anymore. He had argued about it at the meeting on Earth when Operation Exodus was announced and discussed for refinement, but now he was doing it and laying the minefields in both hyperspace and in normal space, where any alien who came upon them would suffer the consequences. He could see the beauty of the tactic now, but truthfully….
Sheridan had always believed humanity and aliens should work together in order to usher in a new future. A lot of the philosophy came from his father and his stories as a diplomat where he'd dealt with aliens who, despite many stories, were in many ways similar to humans in mentality, but the true reasons for his beliefs were because he believed while one race could do a great deal by themselves, they could be even greater together.
Sheridan had believed following the defeat of the Dilgar, humanity's future as an interstellar power was set. Granted, while he believed, like many, the Centauri embassy assigned to Earth should be treated with caution since there were many who believed the Centauri's sharp-toothed smile hid a knife behind their backs since there were rumours from E.A intelligence the Centaurum had been nursing plans to conquer and occupy the Alliance since humanity had spread into space, Sheridan had hoped they could make all races, including the Narn and the Centauri, work together while humanity used their new contacts to allow them to evolve and sort out the numerous problems which had chained Earth down for decades.
Now those hopes had been blasted to pieces; Sheridan knew even if Earth somehow managed to survive and they managed to get back out into space, the Interstellar community would never accept them.
Destroying Jumpgates was the worse thing anyone could do. But while Sheridan felt the Senate and EarthForce command should be looking into another way, find another tactic, he knew better than to open his mouth. With the war on, Sheridan knew his opinion even as a war hero who had gone up against the Minbari wouldn't go too far if he argued with them if it went against the President's desire to ensure the survival of the human race.
That was the top priority and while Sheridan shared it, he didn't like the thought of them not looking to the bigger picture of the future.
"Captain, the minelayers in hyperspace report they've finished," Sheridan looked up into the face of his first officer, and he nodded in response.
"Very good. Tell them to come back out and if they've got any more mines, they're to join the mining fleet out here in normal space. But have they reported any activity? Tachyon shadows, anything?"
"No, they haven't. They just sent that report," his first officer replied.
Sheridan nodded thoughtfully, inwardly wishing they had a better idea of how Minbari technology worked. The Minbari had been keeping quiet for the last few days, and they hadn't had fresh reports of new attacks, no disappearances. Nothing. But they were out there, and the strategist in Sheridan was concerned.
"Tell the commanders of the minelayers to take every precaution. If they detect anything even remotely suspicious out in hyperspace, they're to drop whatever they're doing and to come back out," he ordered.
His first officer was a fast learner. "You think the Minbari are out there?" He whispered.
"Minbari, the Centauri, or the Narn. All three of them are enemies at this point, and only two of them have superior technology to our own, and their experience with hyperspace is greater, although they won't risk a fight; but just because we can't see them does not mean they can't see us," Sheridan thought back to the horrifying moment the Minbari warship the Black Star emerged out of hyperspace and destroyed the squadron the Lexington had been a part of.
While Earth technology in understanding hyperspace mechanics was growing, Sheridan knew they hadn't yet managed to crack the secret which allowed them to make such precision jumps so the ships would be torn to shreds by the vortex. In comparison, hiding their own presence in hyperspace so they could quietly spy on the enemy would be child's play.
"I'll tell them, sir," the first officer looked unnerved while Sheridan himself was surprised the other man hadn't realised the danger, and it made him wonder if the ignorance was unique or shared by others. If that was so, it was a problem.
Sheridan, however, didn't let him go. "And contact the colony; tell them to get a move on. The longer we're here, the easier it will be for the Minbari or the Centauri to realise what's going on."
Sheridan released the straps holding him in his command chair, and he instantly floated up, but he skilfully floated around the bridge and he slowly moved around the bridge to take a look at the monitors at the different stations. He wanted to know what was going on, but most of all he was tired of being strapped into the command chair all day. At the same time, he could think of everything going on.
They had been doing this for a week now, moving from one colony to the next, evacuating them and getting everyone in the shuttles or ships which they'd managed to find, sometimes by force. Honestly, Sheridan just did not understand why those particular people were being so stubborn; they knew the Centauri and the Narns had turned on the Alliance, the longer they stayed there, they were in danger.
But he knew from experience that frontier colonists were stubborn to the point of arrogance; Sheridan only hoped they weren't as insanely arrogant as Jankowski after he'd started this whole mess.
Sheridan grimaced as he thought about Jankowski. The last he'd heard, the former captain of Prometheus had been locked up in prison; while EA command was aware of his skills as a tactician, they had not acknowledged their mistake in sending him on a first contact he didn't understand why they had made a brand new mistake. Not putting Jankowski in command of a ship and putting his tactical experience to good use. While Sheridan didn't like the arrogant idiot, he did acknowledge Jankowski was not a fool in combat situations. And besides, the way things were heading, the more help they had, the better.
"Captain, I've just gotten word on the surface; some of the colonists are demanding they be allowed to stay. The GROPOs are having problems persuading them to get into the shuttles," his first officer reported.
Pleased to have something new to think about, although it made him mentally groan, Sheridan turned to his first officer with a grimace. "Don't tell me, let me guess; they've invested heavily in their new homes, and they don't want to leave?"
"That's right, sir," his first officer was just as frustrated since this had happened before with the other colonies they'd already evacuated. "And it's not an isolated incident; the GROPOs and other personnel are having problems getting many of the colonists into the shuttles; the fact this colony is one of the larger ones does not help."
Sheridan closed his eyes in frustration, cursing under his breath and resisting the urge to personally go down to the planet and shooting those colonists himself. Those idiots were causing more harm than they knew by digging in their heels. The longer they were forced to stay here, the sooner a confrontation between them and whoever was out there became more of a probability. But then again, the colonists believed themselves to be kings of their own little world, and they were so ignorant of what was out there, it was a crime.
Didn't they realise what was at stake?
If the Minbari, or heavens forbid the Centauri who were now governed by an over-ambitious bastard who wanted to push his precious Republic back to the 'good old days' of military conquest, slavery, and occupation, and the Narns who merely wanted to have as many colonies as they could so they could outbreed their former Centauri oppressors, then their precious lives would become meaningless.
The Minbari would likely slaughter them out of frustration for not being able to kill any human soldiers because there was no way in hell Sheridan was going to allow any soldier to remain down there, and the Centauri and the Narns will not give a damn either way. Those two would just whip them to death, humiliating them and forcing them to go through all kinds of humiliating hell just because they were in charge.
The Narns had had good teachers, and Sheridan was saddened the Narn even felt they needed to act like this. It was bad enough a superiority complex was a part of the Centauri mentality, but for the Narn to exercise it as well was disgusting. They were like abused children, lashing out because they believed that was how they should behave.
And yet those idiots down below didn't realise if they were caught they would be forced to kiss goodbye to their former lives, but they were endangering everybody else with their antics.
Well, he had just about had enough.
"Tell the GROPOs to stop being so kind about it, Commander," he ordered, deciding to take the law into his own hands. Well, by this point he didn't give a damn what the senate said, or what ISN reported about it. He was in charge of this mission, and he wanted to make the evacuation as quick and as painless as possible, and if any of the stupid colonists wanted to provoke a fight with a gang of armed ground pounders, so be it. "Tell the GROPOs to be rough if they have to, but to get them onto those ships. Now. The longer we're here, the quicker someone is going to realise what's going on."
His first officer was surprised by the order, but he nodded in acceptance before he turned around deftly with the overheard bars to help in the zero-g environment of the ship, to head to the communications officer.
"Captain, the minelayers are coming out of hyperspace," the tactical officer reported.
Sheridan turned to the main HUD and studied it closely, seeing the blocky gun-metal grey ships emerging from the Jumpgate and he watched as the last one fired a laser beam into the communication transmitter of the gate. Sheridan knew the laser beam was actually a signal to arm the bombs within the local hyperspace region. "Good. Find out if they've got any more mines, then tell them to help the other ships. This system needs to be secured before we leave."
"Captain," the communications officer suddenly called, making Sheridan turn quickly, his worry growing at the sound of concern and alarm in the officer's voice, but that rose to near panic when the officer carried on with his report, "we're getting a message; two Starfuries in hyperspace, they've reported a disturbance."
Sheridan's first thought was the enemy (enemies), but he also knew there were phenomena in hyperspace which frequently caused a disturbance. "What kind of disturbance?"
"Their scanners can't pick it up, sir," the communications officer reported, looking up at him with worry.
Sheridan licked his lips as he made up his mind. "Tell them to come out of there, now," he ordered.
The comm. officer turned back to her station and sent the message. She got a reply back pretty quickly, her expression becoming more and more distressed. "They're going in to investigate, sir," she reported.
A dozen nasty curses bubbled in Sheridan's throat, many of them were picked up from a long tour of duty in space. How could these pilots be so reckless and stupid? They had all received orders that if they detected anything in hyperspace that looked like a shadow, a silhouette or something their scanners and other instruments could not lock on to, then they were to get out without delay.
"Tell them to forget it and to come back," he snapped but the officer was already way ahead of them, but she snarled in frustration and slapped her console. "They're not responding."
"Put me through to them," he ordered. Perhaps a little intimidation would straighten them out.
"You're on, sir."
Sheridan took a deep breath while he mentally chose the right words. "Attention Starfuries, this is fleet command. I don't know if you two have a death wish, but we are currently trying to evacuate the civilians of this solar system, and while your diligence is commendable, we cannot lose any more human lives. Return immediately to normal space."
"We can't do that, sir. We are almost there."
"Sir, we detected movement coming towards the gate."
Sheridan was delighted they had the common sense to respond back to him, which raised a question he wanted answering. "Why didn't you respond before?"
"We tried, but we discovered our transmissions were being jammed, but we managed to pull out of range."
Alarm bells were beginning to ring louder and louder inside Sheridan's skull when he heard the news. "All the more reason to come out of there," he answered, his mind racing as he tried to answer the sudden question which had only just now popped up in his mind. Was there any such thing as getting out of range when the Minbari or the Centauri, their more advanced alien enemies at this point where interstellar communications were concerned?
Although he had never met any personally, Sheridan knew many Centauri military officers were good strategists and if they saw an advantage ahead of them now if it was the Centauri currently in hyperspace with those pilots, they would take it.
It was the same with the Minbari; while that particular race just burst out of hyperspace, relying on their superior firepower and their stealth technology to make up for their shoddy battle tactics, Sheridan knew they could be cunning. Their attacks with the Black Star had proven that they had the means of sneaking up on others.
Had one of those bone-headed bastards come up with a tactic where they'd blast the communications systems of the fighters and force them back so they would be forced to communicate with their main forces from a further distance while they hung back?
Sheridan's breath caught in his throat. "Get out of there! Its a trap!" He shouted.
"What? Ho-oh, my God! Juanita, pull back, get out of-!" Sheridan closed his eyes in sorrow when he heard the screams from the comm system.
"Turn it off," the first officer hissed, and the communications officer shut it off quickly.
"Send the signal to the mines. Detonate them; whoever is in hyperspace right now, they're going to have a nasty shock," Sheridan's voice was hollow with rage for the deaths of the two pilots. "Do we have any old shuttle that's on the point of falling apart?"
"I'm not sure, but I can check," the first officer floated off to one of the stations on the bridge when the communications officer turned back to Sheridan. "Captain, the minelayers have broadcasted the detonation code. The mines are exploding."
"Good, good," Sheridan turned to the HUD which was showing the view of the Jumpgate clearly. From where he was, Sheridan could see the vortex contained by the struts of the gate flashing with energy and he saw the rim of the vortex receding and then surging forwards, like the sea crashing on a beach before it receded peacefully before it started again. The struts themselves were sparking with blinding white-blue flashes as they strained to take the energy being blasted through hyperspace.
"Captain. We've got a shuttle that's on its last legs, but its currently ferrying up some refugees," his first officer reported.
"Is it one of the shuttles from our ship?"
"No, sir. It comes from the Admiral Sheer."
"Tell the crew of that ship to prepare four nuclear bombs," Sheridan ordered, mentally counting the number of bombs they'd need for this. One was probably enough, two was sufficient, three was over the top, but four would make certain. "As soon as the refugees are up, I want that shuttle sent out on remote to the Jumpgate with the bombs on board."
The first officer guessed what he had in mind instantly. "We're going to destroy the gate?"
"It's the only way; right now hyperspace is churning under the shockwaves of the nukes we'd put in there. Destroy the gate, they won't have a clue where this system is," Sheridan knew the rest of the Alliance was using the tactic, but not like this.
"I'll get on to it now, sir."
"Good, and while you are at it, tell our people to hurry up. I want us to be out of here soon," Sheridan added.
Shai Alyt Jurrok winced as he was slammed against the wall of the Tactical Centre, bouncing off of the wall and landing in an undignified heap on the ground before he leapt back to his feet. "Damage report!?" He yelled.
"The shockwaves are blasting us against each other, Shai Alyt! Inertial dampeners and gravity fields are fluctuating throughout the ship!"
Jurrok cursed, he had felt a little odd as he had leapt to his feet but now he knew the reason had nothing to do with youthful agility but rather a fluctuating gravity field, his mind was bombarded with fears of what was happening now. "What caused those shockwaves, you detected nuclear explosions?" He demanded although he had a damn good idea.
"Those treacherous humans have detonated multiple explosives in hyperspace," the officer on the end of the comm line replied, voice quivering with rage.
Jurrok grimaced at the news. "Are we getting the tachyon beacons?" He called as clearly as he could while he heard the creaking of the ship.
"No. Not ahead of us, Shai Alyt. We've lost it. Sensors have just detected a massive explosion ahead, and the shockwaves will be reaching us shortly!" Fear suddenly appeared in the voice of the officer on the bridge, but Jurrok ignored it even if it was beneath a Minbari Warrior's standing to be afraid.
"Reverse engines as much as you can, let's try to avoid the worst of those shockwaves," Jurrok stood up and looked around the Tactical centre. Apart from flickering around the holographic projection dome, the centre looked intact enough although he knew the Worker Caste would likely have a lot of trouble repairing the damage, and he looked around and found Alyt Irrgnata standing up with a groan.
Jurrok raced towards him and he helped him up. "Irrgnata, are you alright?"
Irrgnata rubbed his head. "Yes," he whispered, "what happened?'
"The humans detonated a number of nuclear bombs in hyperspace," Jurrok replied grimly, hoping nothing serious had happened to his comrade, but his mind was on the implication of what had happened.
"What? Are they insane?"
"No. Desperate, not insane. The humans have gone out of their way not to fight us in hyperspace even though they know it would certainly lessen the technological gap. They are not stupid, Irrgnata, contrary to what so many think; they know of the dangers of being lost in hyperspace through warfare," Jurrok pointed out, remembering one encounter with humans in hyperspace. The humans had done their very best not to fire too much in hyperspace even though they knew of the advantages, which proved even though the murderers behind Dukhat's death were desperate they weren't completely stupid.
"But what about us? Are we safe from the gravity inclines?" Irrgnata asked fearfully; usually, he was always under control, but the stories of ships being lost in hyperspace because of an explosion were getting to him.
Jurrok took a deep breath as he remembered the stories himself. "I don't know yet. We're trying to pull away from the area. Bridge!" He called.
"This is the Bridge, Shai Alyt."
"Send a priority one distress call to Minbari space. Tell the nearest Minbari outposts and beacon stations to increase their signals so we can find our way out, tell them what's happened."
"At once, Shai Alyt."
Irrgnata looked at his friend and comrade. "Do you believe it will work?"
Jurrok sighed. "I hope so," he whispered. "I hope so."
Sheridan was studying the screens and the reports on them when his first officer floated over to him. "Captain, the refugees are onboard."
"Good, any problems?"
"A few, but they've been brought on board."
"Good. Prepare for entrance into the Underspace," Sheridan ordered.
Meanwhile, in another part of the Earth Alliance, a group of shuttles and fighters were racing as fast as they could for the Underspace entrance while the small fleet of warships fought against a group of Narn warships which had been lying in wait for a while in the system. The Narns had known something was going on with the humans, just as the Centauri did but the Narns had decided to try to discover what was going on. Their recent reports had indicated the humans had been arriving in solar systems in their rapidly shrinking Alliance, and yet none of the hyperspace probes had picked them up.
And when the Narns had gone in, they had discovered the systems to be empty.
At first, the Kha'Ri had laughed the whole idea off, but after more and more systems were reported to be empty, they had taken it more seriously. And they had ordered an investigation, but at the same time, they had known many of their people didn't like the necessity in betraying their human allies. Many of the Narns were concerned with the new stance they had taken towards the humans, who had always been honourable to them. But they needed the space to breed and to set up new homes on worlds which were fertile enough for the growth of crops. And then there was the technology. Human technology was no less advanced than the Narns, but their industrial base was greater than the Narn Regime's own base. Such a base would be advantageous for the Regime. And with the change in Centauri Emperor, especially since they knew Refa was a psychopath, they needed all the room they could get in order to survive.
Three weeks before the Narn Regime had jumped into this solar system as far from the human planet as they could, and they had been waiting for any sign of the humans trying to escape but they hadn't. The War Leader in command of the expedition had been given orders to just observe and to keep quiet. For three long weeks, the Narn had been waiting but there had been nothing. And now the humans were here, and they had appeared from nowhere. A fleet of two warships and a number of fighters and shuttles appearing out of….
And then they had noticed the humans speeding towards a gas giant and then they would vanish. At first they had assumed the humans had found a new way of hyperspace travel, one they'd been working on for years, but they were not sure. Once the War Leader had seen it, he'd ordered the other ships to continue monitoring before they couldn't detect anything, and then they had begun their attack.
The human fleet had retaliated, their warships putting themselves between the planet and the shuttles and the Narn attack force. The Narn attack force had three ships, three against the three human warships, of comparable strength. While the humans hated the Narns for their betrayal, they were thankful they were fighting them since their technologies were a match and for the fight time in months the humans were able to make their enemy bleed even though the Narns were hard fighters.
In the meantime the warships were busy attacking the Narn ships, hoping to destroy them so then the Kha'Ri didn't get word of the Underspace. As their battle continued, more and more of the ships on the planet which had been there the whole time lifted off. The colonists on the planet had been watching the engagement and they had jumped onto the first ship they could board, and they blasted out of the atmosphere where they were guided towards the Underspace corridor, thanks to the fighters.
Finally, one of the Narn heavy cruisers was destroyed, and the battle increased as the humans relied on their superior skill to fight on. And all the time they fought, the evacuation was underway.