In Valen's Name
This comic was first published in the UK Babylon 5 magazine before being released as a stand-alone in the US.
|Written by J. Michael Straczynski (Issue 1); Peter David
(Issues 2 & 3)
Pencilled by Mike Collins; Inked by David Roach
|DC Comics, 1998|
Set after Into the Fire.
A distress call from Babylon 4 is received, but coming from a different region of space than its last known location. Sheridan points out that it was the only Babylon station equipped with ion engines following the destruction of the previous three stations. Delenn reveals that Babylon 4's final location after the Shadow War was secret, and those who took it there never returned. Sheridan agrees to investigate, as it may contain a valuable insight into Minbari history.
Travelling in the White Star, the crew discover the station, dead in orbit of a planet, war-scarred and barely recognizable. Sheridan, Ivanova, Delenn and Garibaldi enter the station in EVA suits, finding the docking bay full of debris and the gardens an empty metallic space. They are fired upon, and Garibaldi shoots down a core shuttle in the direction of the hostiles. However, one of them has survived...
Making it to C&C, Sheridan wonders whether the hostiles were scavengers, a thought that horrifies Delenn. Ivanova discovers that the station's orbit is decaying and in 72 hours it will burn up in the planet's atmosphere. The White Star is destroyed by the surviving alien, so the crew work their way through the control systems, now a confusing mixture of English, Minbari, and another unknown language, to send another distress signal.
Delenn accesses the station's records. Contained within are accounts from Nukenn of the Religious Caste, and Rashok of the Warrior Caste, describing the arrival and the work of Valen. They admired his courage and wisdom, and he had no history or family lineage that anyone could discover: he was a Minbari not born of Minbari. He and his faithful companion Zathras brought hope of salvation against the Shadows when all seemed lost.
Valen had attempted to unite the castes, but they still fought amongst themselves when undecided how to proceed, so he formed the Anla'shok as a new army that didn't recognize caste divisions. Zathras was harder to identify with and understand, until the Shadows came...
Delenn's readings are interrupted when Ivanova informs them that the shape of Babylon 4 is causing more atmospheric drag than anticipated, and will burn up in only 24 hours - not enough time for a rescue ship to reach them...
The flagship of a Tak'Cha fleet is diverted from salvage operations when they learn of "savages" attacking their people on Babylon 4.
Sheridan urges Delenn to take a break from studying the Minbari files. She recounts one of Nukenn's recollections of his son dying in battle for Valen, causing Nukenn to become enraged and curse Valen's name. Valen took Nukenn to Mount H'leya, the peak where Valen delivered his holy "Times to Come" speech. Valen told him about the battle, of the potential uniting of the castes, of the return of the Shadows, and of how warfare had changed Nukenn's son, Tulan, from a gentle soul into a bitter, hardened one. Nukenn's faith in Valen was renewed.
Garibaldi finds some "ancient graffiti" in rock patterns on the wall of the station: in ancient Minbari, it reads "Z'ondar". Delenn does not know what it means, and continues to study the records. Garibaldi and Sheridan head for the launch bays to see if any of the fighter ships are still functional.
Delenn finds another entry from Rashok, telling of how Valen wept for the thousands who had died in battle after the uniting of the castes, and Zathras' fierce loyalty to his master. Of all the races that helped the Minbari fight the Shadows, Delenn does not recognize the name of one: the Tak'Cha. Garibaldi manages to get one of the fighters operational as a fleet of Tak'Cha ships arrives...
The Tak'Cha leader, Ramde Haxtur, leads his people in prayer to the Z'ondar. They had fallen from the Z'ondar's grace long ago and hope to use this opportunity to rid the station of alien invaders to restore their honour. Sheridan decides to try flying one of the Minbari fighters to take on the new arrivals. Delenn discovers from a record by the Tak'Cha warrior Zarwin that his people had joined Valen against the Shadows, believing that, because of his Vorlon escorts, he was an emissary of the gods. But Valen was upset to learn that the Tak'Cha saw his teachings as an encouragement to war if there is sufficient cause, and not to embrace peace.
Valen tried to assign Nukenn, Rashok and Zarwin individual missions to ensure a message is delivered to Delenn in a thousand years, warning her of the Earth-Minbari War. However, the Vorlons dissuaded him from this because without the war, he would not have been discovered as holding a Minbari soul, and never come back in time to defeat the Shadows.
After Sheridan accidentally fires upon the lead Tak'Cha ship, his fighter is disabled and he manages to crash back into the launch bays safely.
Valen learns that the Tak'Cha were beginning to attack other races who refused to follow Valen's teachings, and casts them out of the alliance. The Tak'Cha are ashamed of their actions, and return home, hoping one day to restore their honour to the Z'ondar.
Ivanova notes that the station's rate of descent has increased and they have only a few hours left. The Tak'Cha board the station with explosives intent on flushing the aliens out. Delenn greets them with a gesture of friendship - and when they recognize her name they realize her connection with Valen. The Tak'Cha rescue the crew and they watch from safety as Babylon 4 disintegrates in the planet's atmosphere.
Delenn recalls the final recording of Valen's words:
"My name is Valen, and I have served my people like no other. I led them into fire... into darkness... into death... and they followed me without hesitation. They acclaim my victories and hail me as a great leader. They speak of my successes as if they are as infinite as the stars. And yet, for all that I've accomplished, I lie awake, listening to the screams of the dead and dying, those who are already gone, and those yet to be born.
"A few words from me could avert the Earth-Minbari conflict. A warning to Delenn or Dukhat... But without the war, there would be no Babylon 4 and no Babylon 5. There would be no rallying point against the Darkness, and the Shadows would win, now and a thousand years from now. I cannot deviate from the circle of which I am a part. I am the beginning of the story, as Zathras said... and a prisoner of it. I dare not change the end.
"Still, it's been a good life - lives - over all. Delenn, Catherine, Susan, Michael... if any of you see this somehow, don't cry for me. For in the final analysis, I've always been too hard on myself. I'll be content to let history judge me, and all that has been done in Valen's name. And as for me... I've received my own reward, because I've found her. At long last... I've found... her."
Notes: Babylon 4 was first seen in Babylon Squared, and its journey back in time with Sinclair/Valen in War Without End. Valen's final speech seems to indicate he found Catherine Sakai, who was sent back in time in the novel To Dream in the City of Sorrows, even though he addresses her by name in the very same speech (it was an unintentional accident left uncorrected in the final story).
Recurring Characters: Jeffrey Sinclair/Valen, Zathras.