I don't own Babylon 5. I have to make do with fanfiction.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this one-shot. Please let me know what you think.
In the Heart of the Great Machine.
Draal was aware of everything, despite his eyes being closed. Thanks to the Great Machine, he was able to see and hear things no one could ever believe, and see concepts only imagined by scientists or philosophers.
When he had entered into the heart of the Great Machine following Varn's body beginning to shut down because the Machine was incapable of sustaining him forever - while the Machine was a wonder and it had the capacity to sustain individuals and even reverse their ages, its builders and designers had clearly known the cruelties of immortality; the Machine had told him clearly everything had its time, and everything died.
It had also told him that it was like an ordinary life form, evolving and developing. Varn's knowledge and experience had shaped the Machine's perceptions of the universe although it had known a great deal, to begin with.
Draal had learnt the Great Machine was like a child desperate for knowledge, and it needed teachers. Varn had been connected to the Machine for five hundred years, his thoughts had travelled through the galaxy for that entire time, using the knowledge and experience he had gathered during his life before he was even joined to the Great Machine, but when he had been connected he had used the Machine to explore the greater depths of the galaxy. He had learnt many, many things while he used his knowledge and his experience to his benefit. And the Machine had learnt along with him, and it had grown as a result; there were ideas, insightful and fascinating ideas about science, mathematics, medicine, and Draal had learnt Varn had used the resources of the Great Machine and of the planet known as Epsilon 3 to devise fascinating little projects, learning many different fields of science, combining scientific principles from various races and cultures along the way.
Varn had witnessed so much, from various races first beginning the steps to exploring space, to the Centauri conquest of Narn and the Narn rebellion, and he had also watched everything that had happened during the disastrous First Contact between Earth and the Minbari. Draal remembered that terrible time only too well, recalling the rage he had felt when he had learnt of the death of Dukhat, but now he was joined to the Great Machine he hadn't been able to help himself now he knew the Machine had recorded the events of the war, and he witnessed first hand the atrocities committed by both sides.
His experience with humans was limited, but Draal was ashamed when he had seen how his fellow Minbari had treated the humans unfortunate enough to be captured by them.
What also ashamed him was the sight of Delenn, one of his long time friends and one of his favourite students, screaming for the blood of the humans when Dukhat had died; Draal had been proud Delenn had been inducted into the Grey Council, just like her father had, but like his old friend Draal had been saddened when he had discovered Delenn had been the final vote in what to do about the attack.
She had wanted war.
But seeing it….
He could tell Delenn had been gripped by the same rage which had burned through Minbar in the first days of the war, a rage which had gripped Draal himself, but seeing her endorse the notion of war, and of genocide….
When he had seen for himself the reason why the Grey Council had ordered the surrender of the Minbari forces at the Battle of the Line he had been frightened out of his mind by the implications that Minbari souls were being born in human bodies, and during the war, the Warrior Caste had gleefully murdered human civilians.
Because that was what it was, really; murder.
It was one thing declaring Holy War following the death of Dukhat, the attack on the Valen'tha and the Grey Council, but what the Warrior Caste had done… It was as if a disease had spread, driving the Minbari Warriors insane.
Draal had been disgusted and disgraced by the way the warriors had treated the humans unlucky enough to cross them; it was more than being killed in combat, many of them hadn't even been armed. Some of them had been children, in fact, many of them had been terrified infants who were scared out of their minds. The Warriors hadn't cared. Many of the children's parents had begged, pleaded with their attackers to let their children live.
Only to be killed by Warriors under the pretence the war was honourable. Draal might be fixed to the same codes of honour as the rest of the Minbari, but in his mind, he had his own opinions, and what he saw was not honourable and he didn't care one little bit what the Warrior Caste claimed about the honour of the war.
It was because of his disgust with the war, Draal had been amazed by how many records the Great Machine had taken of human history. Yes, a lot of it was brutal, but there were moments where he witnessed human love and compassion, which belied the still present beliefs the humans were animals among his people.
And it wasn't just humans, he had witnessed so much of the other races like the Narns, the Pak' ma Ra, and the Centauri. Seeing each of them in his mind as if he was there in person was fascinating while at the same time he was able to hear the songs of the various primitive races in the galaxy that had yet to develop interplanetary flight; as Religious Caste as well as old despite the Machine rejuvenating him, Draal had always liked to believe the same arrogance which had smothered the Minbari people after the Great War with the Shadows hadn't smothered him, but after the war with the humans and being connected to the Great Machine, seeing the various races and using the Machine to listen to the songs of the stars, he realised it had.
Not any more.
Now, he had joined with the Machine and he had pushed aside the Minbari complacency which had smothered everyone, Draal had little trouble observing the entire galaxy; the five hundred years of the Machine's existence gave him a first-hand view of the histories of numerous worlds; he saw so much, so much which shattered every single preconception he had of the galaxy. Draal had been exploring the Machine for a short time, and yet already time just seemed….irrelevant.
Everything came into his mind.
Including the Shadows.
Thanks to the Great Machine, Draal quickly became aware of the movement of the Shadows and their dark servants; when he sensed their presence, felt their servant's malevolence he had been frightened, but he had watched with horror at how despite the slowness of their progress of building up their forces, there were moments when they did come out openly; when their servants tried to destroy Babylon 4 (he had begun the task of enlarging the temporal rift in Sector 14, hopefully within two years the rift would be large and stable enough to complete the paradox), and when they had destroyed that raider ship, before helping the Centauri engage the Narns.
But despite time being virtually irrelevant, Draal did know the day was approaching when he would have to forge the alliance with Captain Sheridan. Unlike many Minbari, Draal didn't have any problem with him, especially now following what he had seen his own people do to the humans; in comparison, what Sheridan had done was honourable.
Yes, soon he would reveal himself.