103: Racing the Night

Written by
J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by
Mike Vejar
First broadcast
4 August 1999

The crew explore a dead world where the inhabitants mysteriously disappeared a thousand years ago, yet the cities still remain virtually untouched.  Eilerson has discovered a chamber of hieroglyphics that reveals new areas of scientific knowledge - but only provides the first half of each equation.  One of the team is attacked and eviscerated, and on her explorations deep underground Dureena finds a huge chamber filled with bodies in suspended animation.  Attack ships appear but Gideon leads them away in an aerial chase through the city to allow the others time to escape.  Galen arrives and uses a homunculus projection to explore the planet and draw the attention of the attackers.  He sees inside the planet and finds a ship graveyard of others that have been there before - captured by the aliens for experimentation.  A scan of the interior of the planet draws the attackers to converge on the Excalibur, which begins to be drawn down toward the planet's surface.  The aliens download the ship's logs - and one of them appears to tell the crew that, a thousand years earlier, the Shadows had been denied permission to use their world as a base and, as retribution, they released the same plague that's affected Earth.  They too are looking for a cure, and after three years they placed themselves in suspended animation.  Every two years one is released to act as a Keeper until they succumb to the virus.  The partial scientific knowledge on the planet was intended as a lure to draw the attention of outsiders, where they are captured to be subject to experimentation in search of a cure.  Gideon, disagreeing with their methods, makes them promise not to carry out their experiments and in return he will provide them with any knowledge of the plague they may find.

Notes: Gideon has a flashback to a Drazi Ambassador giving him only four years free access in their space - after which they'll blockade Earth and shoot down anyone attempting to escape in last-minute panic.  Dureena asks Galen to teach her to become a Techno-mage, but he refuses (for the moment; see The Memory of War); his objections are, of course, perfectly valid, given that it truly is impossible for Durenna to ever become a full mage (see The Passing of the Techno-mages).  It is revealed here that Gideon is influenced in his decisions as to their destinations by the Apocalypse Box (see The Path of Sorrows and also The Memory of War).

Guest Cast: Madison Mason (General Miller), Brenan Baird (Kulan).