Chapter II

USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-E

"I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise," Picard began looking up at the image of the Narn warleader. "Do you still require assistance?"

"I am Warleader N'Kal," the Narn said. Relief was evident in his voice, but also a bit of confusion. "Thank you Captain Picard, but our jump engines are online once again and we are ready to return to hyperspace. Besides, once we get to Babylon 5, we will be quite safe since it is neutral territory." N'Kal's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "The only Federation I know of is the Minbari Federation, and Earth is not a part of it. What may I ask is this Federation you speak of?"

Picard nodded. N'Kal had just provided information that they needed. Earth existed here in this universe; something they'd been wondering about. "The United Federation of Planets, founded over two hundred years ago." He paused, better not to give all his cards away at once. "If I may ask," Picard resumed. "What body does Earth belong?"

N'Kal laughed. "You humour me. You're human and you don't know?"

"No," Picard told him. "Unfortunately, we've been out of touch with Earth for some time."

"I doubt that," N'Kal said sceptically. "But I'll tell you anyway. Earth, is the capital world of the Earth Alliance."

"Sound's like this universe's version of the Federation," Riker murmured.


He was interrupted by N'Kal. "Let me give you a piece of advice. Do not go to Earth, if that is what you are thinking, Captain Picard. Earth isn't exactly the safest of places to be right now for non-humans. Instead, I'd go to Epsilon Eridani. It's where Babylon 5 is, and though it is run by EarthForce; the Earth Alliance's military arm, it's considered neutral territory."

The image winked off, being replaced by a view of the Narn cruiser, slowly making its way through the emptiness of space to the nearby planet.

"Sir," Data reported. "Sensors a picking up another vortex forming directly ahead of the G'Tok… It's going in."

Picard nodded, watching the G'Tokenter the yellow-orange vortex. "Analysis," Picard ordered as the vortex collapsed in on itself.

Data's answer was prompt. "The vortexes appear to be similar to wormhole phenomena and are apparently artificial in nature. Sensors are unable to penetrate beyond the vortex itself."

"Understood," Picard acknowledged.

USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-B

As the vortex collapsed on the viewscreen, Kirk turned to the communications station. "How much data did you manage to scan off their main computer?"

"Not much," Lieutenant Tobiaston stated. "About a third. Could have gotten more, but their computers don't run at FTL speeds like ours."

"Transfer the data to the science station," Kirk told him. "And send a copy over to Picard's ship."

"Aye sir," Tobiaston acknowledged. "Sir, the Enterprise-Eis signalling."

"Put them on screen," Kirk stated, leaning back in his chair. "Captain," he said as Picard appeared on the viewscreen. "You should be receiving a download."

On the screen, Kirk saw Picard glance at the golden skinned being seated at what he thought was either the operations station or the helm. "Mr. Data?" Picard said.

"Receiving download," Data confirmed. "Captain, it would appear that while we were talking to N'Kal, Captain Kirk violated Starfleet—"

"We'll done, Captain," Picard said glancing over Data's shoulder. "Looks like we've got star charts, information on the main powers and so on." Picard looked directly up at the viewscreen. "Captain, why don't we convene in our conference room in say fifteen minutes after we've both had time to process this information? Bring your senior officers."

"See you in fifteen minutes," Kirk acknowledged. "Enterprise—"

"Something else," Picard said quickly. "Captain, do you know what year this is?"

Kirk knew where this was going. In fact, he'd been expecting the question. "At our best guess, some time around 2248 plus or minus several years, but before we were transported here it was late 2293."

"You're out by about eleven years," Picard told him. "According to cartographic sensors the exact date is December 18th, 2259."

"Thank you," Kirk acknowledged. "See you in fifteen minutes. Enterprise-B, out."

As the screen blanked, he turned to Chekov. "Reset the ship's chronometer accordingly."

"Aye, sir." Chekov said tapping his controls.

December 18th, 2259
Babylon 5, in orbit of Epsilon 3 (Epsilon Eridani)

"I'm not entirely sure I understand, Delenn," Captain John Sheridan said looking up at the Minbari ambassador from behind his desk. "You can tell me that someone is coming to see you, and that you have business together, and that you want him to pass through customs without incident. But you can't tell me who he is or why he is coming?"

"I know it is asking much of you, Captain," Delenn acknowledged.

"Delenn," Sheridan stated. "Asking is not a problem, not for you. Not after everything we've gone through lately. I'm just trying to, you know, understand."

Delenn rose from where she'd been seated, joining her aide, Lennier by the window of Sheridan's office. "Ambassador Kosh has doubts," she told Sheridan.

"About what?" Sheridan asked.

"Doubt, is the wrong word." Lennier interjected. "He wishes confirmation."

"It's the same thing," Delenn tried to tell him.

"Excuse me," Sheridan interrupted, rising and coming round from his desk. "As I understand it, Ambassador Kosh and the Vorlons are crucial to the big war that's coming. "Now, if he is worried about something, I want to hear about it."

"Ambassador Kosh," Delenn told him. "Is unsure about me."

"About you?" Sheridan shook his head disbelievingly. "Why on Earth—?"

"By aligning myself with you and with Kosh," Delenn answered. "I have placed myself in the centre of the coming storm. Kosh must be certain that my choice was correct and made for the right reasons."

"If you do the right thing…" Lennier said, taking over from Delenn. "…for the wrong reasons the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive." Lennier continued glancing at Delenn. "Ambassador Kosh wishes confirmation that the right people are in the right place at the right time."

"And," Sheridan said, trying to understand. "Whoever's coming will help you decide if you're one of these right people? How?" He paused. "Delenn, if there's anything I can do…"

"No," Delenn told him firmly. "What I must do, I must do alone. I have agreed to this of my own free will. Please do not interfere, no matter what happens."

"Captain Sheridan," Sheridan turned to the wall monitor behind his desk upon hearing the sound of the Centauri ambassador, Londo Mollari. "I demand to speak with you at once."

"What is now, Ambassador?" Sheridan asked irritably.

"I have just been informed that two EarthForce ships have attacked and destroyed a Centauri battle cruiser," Mollari said aggressively. "My government demands an explanation at once…"

USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-E
Sigma Draconis (Sigma 957)

"Marissa Flores, Jeremy Mason," Commander Riker said loudly at the pair smooching practically semi-naked in the two of conference room chairs. "Get out before I replicate a bucket of water and throw it over you." As the two red faced adolescents scampered into the far turbolift, Riker smirked at the two. He remembered Marissa from three years earlier, just before the Enterprise-D, this ship's predecessor, had struck a series of quantum filaments. Back then she'd been twelve and had just won the Enterprise-D science fair; now she was fifteen and a whole different kettle of fish. Kestra Troi, the ship's part Human part Betazoid counsellor, he knew had described her as sluttish given the number of boyfriends she'd had in the last year.

"She at it again," Kestra asked coming in behind him and taking a seat.

Riker nodded, silently wondering how long they'd been in here. "She was. If I'd come in any later, I really don't think they'd have had anything on." Taking his seat, he looked up as Data, Doctor Julian Bashir who'd replaced Doctor Crusher when she'd transferred to DS9a couple years ago with Chief O'Brian. Then came Worf with Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge coming in last, having come up from main engineering.

"Commander," Bashir asked. "Are you alright? You look rather flushed."

"I'm fine," Riker said a little too quickly.

"Sir," Bashir said. "Are—"

"Doctor," Riker warned him. "If you don't—"

He broke off as Picard entered with Kirk and two of his senior officers. One of which he recognised as Captain Scott from the time he'd helped rescue his own universe's version of the legendary engineer. Following behind them was a pair of Worf's security personnel carrying three Starfleet duffel bags. "If you'd take your seats," Picard said as he took his own at the end of the table.

The trio in the old style uniforms; black trousers under the angular burgundy-red jacket, black belt, department coloured turtle-necked undershirt and that fold-over chest placket took their seats.

Picard made the introductions. "Worf," Kirk said when they got to the Klingon. "You aren't related to a Colonel Worf, are you?"

"My grandfather," Worf rumbled. "He always considered it an extreme honour to have defended you."

Kirk smiled. If Doctor McCoy had been here, he would have been hearing a comment along the lines of: 'Some defence.'

"Reports," Picard said bringing the conference to order. "But first, I want to take care of a something." He looked at the three officers from the Enterprise-B. "Computer," he said. "Access Starfleet personnel records for Captain James T. Kirk, Captain Montgomery S. Scott and Commander Pavel A. Chekov. Log their commissions as active, effective immediately."

"Acknowledged," the computer reported. "Status of Captain James T. Kirk, Captain Montgomery S. Scott and Commander Pavel A. Chekov now logged as active; effective immediately."

"I take it," Kirk said. "Those duffels contain our uniforms?"

"They do," Picard told them. "Among other standard issue equipment."

"There goes my retirement plans," Scott murmured. "I was hoping to retire to the Norpin Colony. I already have my starship ticket."

"Scotty," Kirk said amused. "I can't see you anywhere else but in an engine room or crawling through a warp nacelle."

"Gentlemen," Picard interrupted, but with a smile on his face. He turned to Data. "Report."

"As you are all aware," Data began. As he spoke, the display case containing the golden models of this Enterpriseand the previous ones split apart revealing a large viewscreen, displaying a map of known space but with several known powers. It was apparently centred on Epsilon Eridani. "We are in an alternate universe. One in which known space is as similar as it is different. From our analysis of the data Captain Kirk managed to 'acquire' from the Narn cruiser indicates that the region of space where the Cardassian Union, The United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire should be is occupied by the Narn Regime, itself under occupation by the Centauri Republic, the Minbari Federation and the Earth Alliance. There is also a loose organisation known as the League of Non-aligned Worlds."

The different powers, Picard noted, were being represented by different colours; red/purple for the Narn Regime, purple for the Centauri Republic, blue for the Minbari Federation and green for the Earth Alliance. A multitude of different colours represented the League of Non-Aligned Worlds.

"This Centauri Republic," Worf stated, looking up at the viewscreen. "It was one of their vessels that attacked us."

"Yes," Data confirmed. "A Primus-class battle cruiser. It would appear to be their main ship-of-the-line and usually supported by a contingent of Vorchan-class medium cruisers. Though in this case, the Primus was supported by a second vessel of the same class. The vessel it was pursuing was a Narn heavy cruiser of the G'Quan-class. If we hadn't distracted the Primus's, it's very likely the Narn vessel would have been destroyed."

"Merde," Picard sighed. "Data," Picard asked. "Warleader N'Kal said he was on course for a place called Babylon 5. He also recommended we go there ourselves."

"Yes he did," Data confirmed. "The Earth Alliance Space Station Babylon 5is located in what is generally regarded as neutral territory," The image on the viewscreen changed, showing a schematic of a space station roughly cylindrical in design. "It is an O'Neill type station over eight kilometres in length, constructed by EarthForce with monetary assistance from the Narn, Minbari and Centauri. It is the fifth station to be built under the Babylon Project and the only one to become successfully operational."

"What happened to the others?" Kestra asked.

"Babylon 1 through 3 were destroyed by sabotage and the fourth, Babylon 4, vanished without trace a day after it became operational. Their purpose was to create a centre for commerce and diplomacy in the aftermath of the Earth/Minbari War." Data told them. "Essentially, it is an attempt for these and other races to work out the differences peacefully."

"Much like Nimbus III," Kirk commented. "Only Nimbus III was a failure."

"Yes it was," Picard agreed. "But that doesn't mean Babylon 5 will fail. It just shows they need to put in more effort. Something we didn't do ourselves." He paused thoughtfully. "Data," Picard asked. "I take it that there is some sort of council or forum that meets there regularly?"

"Yes," Data said. "The Babylon 5 Advisory Council. It's made up of representatives of the Earth Alliance, Centauri Republic, and the Minbari Federation, the Narn Regime as well as representatives from the League of Non-Aligned Worlds." Now it was Data's turn to be thoughtful. "Captain," he said. "I take it you are thinking of going to Babylon 5?"

"I am," Picard nodded.

"Captain," Riker said. "That's a four day trip at warp seven. "The Enterprise-Bis damaged and I don't think she has the resources for that length of voyage."

"She doesn't," Scott confirmed. "She was launched with a bare minimum of resources for a voyage of only a day. We've only got half a crew on board, no medical staff or the ship's science teams. Neither is the lass fully fitted out and needs access to a docking facility to fully repair the hull breach and starboard nacelle."

"I should also point out," Chekov put in. "the Enterprise-Bis lacking torpedoes…"

The discussion went on for sometime, discussing different aspects. Eventually though, they came to the decision of going to Babylon 5 since it was their best hope for getting help. But, they wouldn't go immediately. Instead they would spend a couple days going over the Enterprise-B surveying the ship, installing what equipment they could and transferring some crew to the other ship. The unusual decision was also made to rechristen the Enterprise-B in honour of its late captain; the ship was now to be called the USS Harriman, NCC-2018.

Captain's log; December 20th, 2259:- It has been nearly two days since fitting out work began and the USS Harriman is now almost fully operational. Only their starboard nacelle and hull breach needs to be repaired, but as Captain Scott pointed out that can only be done with access to a docking facility. If things work out the way they we hope, then that can be done at Babylon 5.


"Number One," Picard asked. "Are personnel transfers complete?"

"They are," Riker said. "Captain Kirk expressed a bit of shock that four of the transferees had young children with them. He said something about assigning them VIP quarters."

Picard smiled. He'd had the same doubts himself when he took command of the old Enterprise-D, but he'd come to live with them eventually. "He'll just have to learn." He turned to his left, where Kestra was intently studying her console. "By the way which transferees have children?"

"Lieutenant Commander Albert," Kestra said told him. "Lieutenant Commander Stevenson, Doctor Ogawa and Lieutenant Flores." Kestra winced. "Looks like Lieutenant Flores 'volunteered' Marissa into joining the Harriman's small group of cadets."

"Sir," Worf reported from his tactical station. Shuttlecrafts Berman, Pillar, Braga, Moore and Justman report successful delivery of one hundred photon and twelve quantum torpedoes to the Harrimanand are on route back. ETA: two minutes."

"Thank you, Mr. Worf," Picard said putting his PADD aside and glancing up at the viewscreen. Visible on the dorsal surface of the saucer were three engineers in spacesuits walking towards an airlock after having just finished dry-painting the new name and registry onto the hull; a process that had taken most of the last day. "Mr. Data," he said. "Has Lieutenant Sela had any luck in decoding the encrypted tachyon transmissions we've been picking up?"

"Some," Data answered, swilling his chair round to look at Picard. "Would you like to see?"

"Please," Picard said.

The view of the Harriman disappeared, and was replaced almost immediately by the view of an unknown part of space containing massive dagger-like ships. Over the speakers, Picard could hear thunderous music that sounded both ominous and martial at the same time.

A moment later, the image changed to what was obviously the interior of a starship's bridge. "I think we've got something, sir," a voice said in a very British accent. "The report is only a fragment from a probe droid in the Hoth system. But, it's the best lead we've had."

The scene changes to another angle. "We've got thousands of probe droids searching the galaxy," a second British-like voice said. "I want proof, not leads."

"Data," Picard said. "Cut audio and tell me what that is?"

"It appears to be a two-dimensional holomovie," Data told him. "Specifically a movie from the late twentieth century entitled Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strike Back. Permission to restore audio? I was enjoying that."

"Data," Picard said, silently wishing the android hadn't installed the emotion chip a few days ago. Now, he was acting more like a kid than ever. "Give me forward view."

"Yes, sir," Data said sounding depressed, but still complying. A moment later, he supplied. "All shuttlecraft are aboard."

USS Harriman, NCC-2018

"Mum," Marissa moaned. "I'm bored. There's nothing to do. I want to go back to the Enterprise."

"Sorry, dear," her mum, Lieutenant Sheryl Flores said. "But you're grounded. You'll only be getting out of these quarters at 0430 tomorrow morning for roll call and your morning run with the other cadets."

"Do I have too," Marissa complained. "They're all at least two years older than me. How am I supposed to keep up with them? Can't I just pull a sickie?"

"No, dear," her Sheryl went on. "That's why they sing cadences. It ensures everyone keeps up."

"But Mum," Marissa moaned. "I never had to do this on the Enterprise. Can't I just beam over for five minutes and see Jeremy?"

"So that's why you're moaning," Sheryl said. "Well maybe if the two of you hadn't tried to have it off, I'd let you see him. Plus, you're too young to be acting like that. The answer is… no!"

"I hate you!" Marissa said storming out of the living area.


The bridge looked different now, Kirk thought taking a glance around. It wasn't that the structure had changed, for it hadn't and neither was there any new equipment on the bridge. All that had changed was the amount of personnel on the bridge was normal; every station was now being manned. Then there were the new uniforms; mustard-gold for operations, teal-blue for science/medical and wine-red for command.

"Departure stations," Kirk said looking up at the viewscreen watching the larger Enterprise manoeuvre.

"Helm ready," Sulu reported from her station. "Course laid in for Epsilon 3."

"Tactical and security systems ready," Lieutenant Sito called out.

"Scotty," Kirk asked, touching the intercom controls. "You find the engine room?"

"Right where I left it," Scott answered jokingly. It was an old joke. "Warp engines standing by…"

"Enterpriserequesting our status," Tobiaston said holding his earpiece in place.

"Signal we're ready to get under way," Kirk told him. "Ensign Sulu, warp seven."

USS Enterprise

"There she goes," Riker said, watching the Excelsior-class vessel go to warp; its hull seemingly stretching on into infinity for a second before disappearing in a bright flash of light.

"Indeed," Picard agreed. "Mr. Data, any problems?"

"No, sir," Data said checking his console. "The Harriman's warp field is stable and on route to Epsilon 3."

"Very well," Picard said rising from his chair; pulling at the sides of his uniform. "Lieutenant Jae, set a course for Epsilon 3 and engage at warp seven." He turned to Riker. "Number One, you have the bridge."

December 24th, 2259
Babylon 5

"N'Kal," Captain Sheridan said looking down at the image of the Narn Warleader being displayed on the main console in Babylon 5's CnC. "How long before your jump engines are online?"

"Not for some time," N'Kal responded. "Why?"

"The Centauri know you're here," Sheridan told him. "Can you navigate at all?"

"Yes," N'Kal answered. "But not very quickly."

"Sir," his executive officer, Commander Susan Ivanova reported from beside him as she the checked the readouts on the console. "Jump point opening. Reading one Centauri Primus-class battle cruiser." Glancing out the view port in front of the two, she saw the form of the Primus surge out of the jump point.

"Damn," Sheridan swore. "Hoped we'd have a little more time."

"Sirs," Lieutenant (jg) Corwin supplied from his post in the pit just behind Sheridan and Ivanova. "Centauri battle cruiser demands we turn the Narn vessel over to their custody."

"Standby," Sheridan said glancing down at Corwin. "Keep this channel open."

"Their taking up position between us and the jumpgate," Ivanova told him. "Blocking the way out."

"I've got Ambassador Mollari on the link," Corwin reported.

"Stall him." Sheridan answered automatically. Turning to Ivanova, he told her: "I gave him my word that we would protect them as long as he was within my jurisdiction. I am not about to break that promise. Launch Zeta Squadron; tell them to surround the Narn ship."

"Scrambling fighters," Ivanova said touching a control on the console.

Below decks, in the cobra bays the alarms went off; their grating noise reverberating off every surface as the pilots rushed to grab their gear and reach their Starfuries.

"Captain," Sheridan heard a familiar voice say. Turning round he saw Frederick Lantz, the representative from the Earth Alliance's Ministry of Peace, or as it was usually referred to as MiniPax, barge in. This was the second time in as many days he'd done it. "What are you doing? I just heard—"

"The treaty hasn't been announced or formalised yet," Sheridan said sharply; not exactly feeling very diplomatic. "I promised sanctuary."

"And once again," Lantz said, trying to put Sheridan in his place. "You are jeopardising everything I've worked for."

"I'm sorry!" Sheridan snapped. "Would someone please remove Mr. Lantz from the command deck?" Almost immediately, Lantz found himself being grabbed at his arm and being pushed not too gently out of the CnC. On his way back, the young lieutenant locked the door ensuring they wouldn't be interrupted any further.

"Zeta Squadron," Ivanova said sharply from her console. "Ready for launch."

"Launch!" Sheridan ordered. Only after he saw the fighters launch, did he head over to his own command station. "All right, put Ambassador Mollari through."

USS Harriman
On final approach to Epsilon 3

"Sir," Vasquez said looking up from her station. "Short range sensors are detecting a Centauri Primus in close proximity to Babylon 5. They are also detecting what appears to be a Narn- heavy cruiser on the other side of Epsilon 3… Captain, Babylon 5 has just launched a squadron of fighters towards the Narn vessel."

"How long till we get there?" Kirk asked.

"Three minutes twenty," the female Trill operations officer, Lieutenant Kell Perim, announced from the operations station.

"Battle stations," Kirk ordered, the hackles raising on the back of his neck. He had a bad feeling about what was about to happen. His only question right now, was whose side Babylon 5was taking. In response to his order, the bridge lights automatically dimmed as the ship's general alarm sounded in time to the red strobes that flashed on and off.

"Captain," Tobiaston announced, holding his ear piece in place. "We're picking up a tachyon transmission from Babylon 5 to the Centauri battle cruiser."

"On speakers," Kirk ordered.

"The Narn vessel is under my protection, a male voice said. "I have guaranteed them the right of free passage. Once its engines are repaired, it will leave Babylon 5 space. After that, it's no business of ours. I have assigned a squadron of fighters to escort the cruiser safely out of Babylon 5 space. You tell your cruiser to withdraw… at once. If they open fire on any of our fighters, I will respond with deadly force. End."

Well, Kirk thought. That answers that question. "Designate Babylon 5as friendly."

"Aye, sir," Sito said, entering the change into her console. "Sir, Babylon 5just brought their weapons systems online…"

"Load torpedo bays," Chekov said from where he stood just behind and to the right of Kirk, his hands resting on the guard rail. "Set yield to one-quarter."

Babylon 5

"Centauri battle cruiser is changing position; moving to intercept," Corwin reported as the pings from the stations tracking sensors started to become more frequent. "Weapons system active, gun ports are open."

"Are they targeting our fighters?" Sheridan asked, the situation escalating.

"They're targeting the Narn vessel," came the prompt response. "Zeta Squadron…and us."

"Return the favour," Sheridan said. "Target their ship."

"Targeting, aye," Ivanova said manipulating her controls. Outside on the outer hull, Babylon 5's phased plasma cannons and heavy interceptors changed position, rotating and angling towards the Centauri vessel.

"Zeta squadron, standby," Sheridan ordered. "Continue escorting her out. If you are fired upon, return fire. Fire at will."

"Confirmed, Babylon Control," Lieutenant Warren Keffer reported from his starfury, Zeta 6. "Heat 'em up people."

"Close blast doors," Sheridan said, glancing down at Corwin.

As the blast doors closed, covering up CnC's view port, Corwin supplied: "Centauri weapon systems locking on."

The background pings increased in intensity again. "They're trying to provoke us into making the first move," Ivanova said, stating her opinion.

"I don't think so…" Sheridan disagreed.

"We've got an energy spike!" Corwin practically shouted.

"Oh, hell." Sheridan swore.

USS Enterprise

"Captain," Worf said looking up from his station. "Centauri vessel has opened fire."

"Tactical," Picard said.

On the viewscreen, the tactical plot appeared. A top down view centred on Epsilon 3 and Babylon 5. Clearly visible was the Centauri battle cruiser and the Narn vessel surrounded by what he presumed were the fighters. The Narn vessel was apparently trying to make it to the strange structure comprising of four struts arranged in a diamond formation, a few thousand kilometres away from the station. Almost as soon as the plot had appeared, he saw numerous icons for energy weapons fire appear and move off in separate directions.

Babylon 5

"Interceptors," Sheridan snapped sharply. "Fire!" The interceptors fire successfully knocked down the weapons fire aimed at the station, but he watched aghast as he realised the Narn vessel was effective helpless. Its weapons systems were down, he realised. But it wasn't completely without help as one of Keffer's fighters actively moved into the Centauri weapons fire, taking a glancing blow and spinning out of control.

"Zeta 1 through 5 break and attack," Keffer could be heard ordering. "Everyone else with me."

"Interceptors running hot; ninety percent capacity and falling," Corwin called.

"They're getting through," Ivanova reported.

"Sir, reading two unknown ships on an intercept course for the Centauri vessel!" Corwin called. "Decelerating rapidly."

"What?" Sheridan said surprised. "Where—" He never finished his statement as the deck heaved violently; sending Ivanova flying to the deck. Checking the console, he saw what had happened. The Centauri weapons fire had blown off the starboard stabiliser from their zero-g cargo dock. Angered, he ordered: "Time on target!"

"Time on target, aye," Ivanova relayed, getting back to her feet.

Almost immediately, Babylon 5 unleashed her full arsenal at the Centauri vessel. But the station and its fighters weren't the only ones firing. Visible on a monitor showing securecam footage, was the form of two unrecognisable ships swooping into the fray.

USS Harriman

"In range," Sito called out from her station as Kirk saw the weapons fire from the Centauri battle cruiser – the same battle cruiser that had escaped them a few days earlier – unleashed a torrent of weapons fire at the station's starboard projecting boom. It severed, crashing into the port boom. "Weapons locked on."

"Alpha strike, fire!" Kirk snapped as Babylon 5retaliated against the battle cruiser; firing everything at its disposal.

Babylon 5

Silently Sheridan watched his own weapons fire, as well as those from the two unknown ships: what looked like pulsating red-orange particle beams that emerged from points on the undersides of their saucers and a pair of pill-shaped orbs of reddish light from the smaller of the two ships. The two 'missiles' swooping under the hull of the battle cruiser, impacting against its tapering gravity generating tail.

"Cease fire," Sheridan ordered. The battle cruiser was dead in space. Beyond it, the jumpgate activated, creating the jump point into hyperspace and allowing the Narn heavy cruiser to escape.

"Reading massive damage to Centauri vessel," Ivanova said. "Whatever those missiles were… they're powerful."

Sheridan already knew. He'd recognised the radiation profile as belonging to an antimatter detonation. "Scramble medical ships," he said over the din of the alarms. "There's still time…"

"It's too late…" Ivanova said softly.

USS Enterprise

"Merde," Picard said bowing his eyes as the Centauri vessel blew apart sending debris every which way. "Did we manage to rescue anyone?"

"Negative," Data sounded mournful.

"Status of the station," Picard asked.

"With the exception of the forward starboard docking boom," Data answered checking his console. "The station has only suffered minimal damage and no hull breaches. There has also been no appreciable change in life-signs."

"Just how many are we talking about?" Riker asked, looking up at the view of the station on the viewscreen.

"Over two hundred and sixty thousand," Data answered. "Mostly human, but I am also detecting at least a dozen other species."

"Sir," Worf supplied. "The station's weapons systems are still online. But, they are not attempting to lock on."

"I sense a high level of tension coming from the station," Kestra said, glancing at Picard. "They've seen how powerful our ships are; wondering if we're about to turn our weapons on them." Picard nodded, having learnt over the years to trust Kestra's telepathic and empathic feelings.

"Mr. Worf," Picard ordered. "Lower shields and stand down to yellow alert. Instruct Captain Kirk to do the same." The last thing he needed was a gunboat-diplomat.

"Captain," Data said, noticing a blinking indicator on his console. "They're hailing."

"On screen," Picard said, rising out of chair and tugging the sides of his uniform. A habit he'd been trying and failing to break over the past few years ever since they'd abandoned those uncomfortable jumpsuits.

On the viewscreen, Babylon 5 disappeared and was replaced by the view of a dirty-blonde haired human in a blue uniform with a brown leather collar, shoulder boards and a band down the human's right breast. "I'm Captain John Sheridan of the Earth Alliance Station Babylon 5. Please identify yourselves, or I will consider you a threat and act accordingly."

He didn't need a Betazoid to know this Captain Sheridan meant it. He could see it in the way he held himself that he was a veteran and had seen plenty of conflict. Instinctively, he answered. "I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise."

Sheridan visibly nodded. "Captain," he said. "On behalf of myself, the Earth Alliance and the other races present on the station I thank you for your help." Sheridan paused, glancing back at the entrance to his operations room as two well dressed humans entered. One being older and silver haired; the other younger and dark haired. Turning back to the viewscreen, Sheridan looked annoyed. "Captain," he continued after schooling his features into a neutral expression. "Would you like to come aboard for a more formal meeting? Say in one standard hour?"

"One hour," Picard said "I am looking forward to it." The viewscreen winked off, returning to the image of Babylon 5.

"Captain," Worf said as Picard returned to his seat. "They are powering down their weapon systems.