Legions of Fire #2: Armies of Light and Dark
|Written by Peter David
Based on an original outline by J. Michael Straczynski
|DelRey, May 2000|
This novel begins in December 2266, immediately prior to A Call to Arms, and continues through to 2273.
Vir travels with the Techno-mage initiates (known as "cloisters") Kane, Gwynn and Finian to K0643, where he meets the remaining few Centauri, including Rem Lanas, working in ignorance at an excavation site. Quakes, occurring more and more frequently, denote that something beneath the planet is awakening. Soon enough, a giant jumpgate is unearthed at the excavation, and a fleet of Drakh ships arrive to pass through it. Vir and the cloisters follow, Kane claiming that they're "supposed to" because he's "seen it".
On the other side, they find Xha'dam: an enormous, almost mythical, base constructed by the Shadows. Close to completion inside it is a Shadow Death Cloud, a massively destructive weapon of war capable of killing entire planets. As one makes its way out into the galaxy, two more are under construction, and the group makes the decision to infiltrate Xha'dam and destroy them. Avoiding the Drakh where possible, they use the command centre to direct one of the new Death Clouds to turn against Xha'dam itself. Kane is killed as they escape (he had already foreseen the circumstances of his death), and in his dying moments tells Vir that he already knows all that he needs to stop the Drakh.
Returning to K0643, they meet the Techno-mage Galen, where Gwynn reveals she discovered from one of the Drakh that, after testing it on Daltron 7, they intend to use the Death Cloud against Earth, and unleash a plague on Minbar, the seat of the Interstellar Alliance. The Techno-mages depart to carry out their duty... and Vir is left to do his.
Some weeks after the Drakh attack on Earth, Emperor Londo Mollari finds himself increasingly worried at the growing power-base accumulated by his Minister for Internal Security, Durla - who is appointing new Ministers to the Royal Court without Londo's consent. Even Londo's long-time faithful valet, Dunseny, has been replaced by Throk, a member of the elite Prime Candidates. Londo recruits the lady Senna to be his eyes and ears about the palace, to watch Minister Durla and his cohorts, but also to get in close with Throk.
Over the following months, Londo tries to use the information gathered by Senna to bring Vir back into favour in the Centaurum. In exile on Babylon 5, Vir himself maintains his empty relationship with Mariel, not wanting to alert her superiors of his movements. He meets again with Galen, who warns him that the time for action is nearing - and Vir requests that the Techno-mage casts a spell on Mariel to make her besotted with him, so he can use her for his own ends. Despite Galen's reticence, he does so; and at the next diplomatic function Mariel espouses Vir's wondrous talents as a diplomat and a lover, gaining him new respect amongst the Alliance races, and also from others on Centauri Prime. Durla himself visits Vir (with a little prompting from Londo) to investigate Mariel's changed behaviour; Vir takes advantage of the situation to restore his freedom to return home, and also to probe Durla about the activities on K0643. However, Vir is saddened by Mariel's own lack of freedom now she is spellbound to him.
Durla and his retinue have masterminded the construction of a new edifice on Centauri Prime - the Tower of Power, a windowless structure intended to be a symbol of the undying power and strength of the Centauri. Vir returns home where he once again meets Galen, Gwynn and Finian, who kit him up with surveillance technology to scout around. He narrowly avoids a face-to-face meeting with a Drakh, and encounters Emperor Londo Mollari, who to his surprise is pleased to see him, warning him that all is not well amongst the Centaurum. Mariel is confronted by Minister Castig Lione, who is suspicious of her recently changed behaviour, and threatens her to do her duty as his agent or face severe consequences for herself and Vir.
When Vir meets up with the Techo-mages again, they replay the surveillance recording, where he sees how close he came to discovering the Drakh, and also the Shadow Keeper implanted on Londo's neck. They decide not to involve Gideon, Sheridan or the Alliance for fear of the recriminations on both Centauri Prime and for the Alliance itself. Vir takes it into his own hands to lead the rebellion against the dark influences on Centauri Prime.
March, 2269: Vir makes an arrangement with Durla to "lose" Mariel to him in a game of poker; Durla is unaware that Vir is positioning her to be his own spy in the Centaurum. He learns from various sources that, due to the failure of K0643, secret new work is being carried out exclusively by the rapidly-growing Prime Candidates. In the following months, even the Alliance begins to question some of the "manufacturing" activities taking place on Centauri Prime - construction of weapons of war is forbidden by the treaty. President Sheridan decides to send an investigative team: Michael Garibaldi; along with one of his former security officers turned private investigator, Lou Welch; and Citizen G'Kar of the Narn.
After Senna rejects Throk's requests to marry him, Londo dismisses him from his service. Throk remains with the Prime Candidates to work in a position of authority within the Tower of Power. While Garibaldi and G'Kar are taken to inspect a suspected weapons production facility, Lou Welch utilizes an invisibility cloak (which he'd found on a crashed ship on Cygnus IV) to sneak into the Tower and investigate the Prime Candidates. He discovers that there are indeed weapons production facilities on Centauri colony worlds - and that the one being investigated on Centauri Prime itself is merely a red herring. Before he can alert anyone of his findings, he is discovered - his cloak is of Drakh origin, which attracts the aliens' attention, and he is exposed and killed by Throk.
Vir appeals to the cloisters for help locating Welch's killer - and with a little brain surgery on the body performed by Finian, he is given the answer. But he doesn't share the information with Garibaldi, requesting instead that he be left to deal with it himself - which makes Garibaldi a little reticent, but G'Kar, remembering Lady Morella's prediction, is certain he can cope. When Vir engineers the death of Throk, destroying the Prime Candidates' safe-house, Garibaldi and G'Kar leave, satisfied.
Back on Babylon 5, Vir begins to assemble his resistance group - including Rem Lanas, and Londo's now-restored aide Dunseny. By 2271, the movement is already making progress wiping out some of the secret Centauri bases. Now married to Mariel, Prime Minister Durla meets with President Sheridan and Garibaldi on Mars to berate them for the attacks on Centauri Prime, to which they deny all involvement. By 2273, Durla's power base on Centauri Prime has increased significantly, while Londo can only sit by and observe...
Notes: Galen shows some considerable antipathy against the Shadows; see the Passing of the Techno-mages novels for an exploration of this. A passing mention is made of G'Kar's travels with Lyta Alexander (Objects in Motion), and Londo also voices his suspicions that G'Kar and Mariel are well acquainted - as hinted at in Soul Mates. In 2269 (which would have been Crusade's third season) it is mentioned that Gideon is close to a cure for the Drakh plague.
Recurring Characters: Londo Mollari; Vir Cotto; Galen; Michael Garibaldi; G'Kar. Lou Welch was one of Garibaldi's leading security personnel in the first and second seasons. Captain Gideon is mentioned, and Captain Lochley, President Sheridan and Delenn (and their son, David) make brief cameos. Characters returning from The Long Night of Centauri Prime: Prime Minister Durla; Minister Castig Lione; Lady Senna, daughter of Lord Refa; Rem Lanas; the Drakh Shiv'kala; the Techno-mage Kane; and Londo's ex-wife Mariel, first seen in Soul Mates.