#7: The Shadow Within
|Written by Jeanne Cavelos||Dell Publishing, 1997|
This book is set in late 2256 / early 2257 (just prior to The Gathering).
Archaeologist Anna Sheridan is investigating a strange bio-mechanical artefact discovered on a remote planet. It explodes during her experiments, sending all telepaths in the surrounding area into a catatonic state. Her supervisor, Dr Chang, recruits her on a mission aboard the Icarus to investigate the source of the object, a planet designated Alpha Omega 3. She is reluctant to leave: it is the eve of her wedding anniversary to John Sheridan, but this is an opportunity she does not want to pass up.
As it happens, Captain Sheridan himself is too busy trying to restore discipline to the lax crew of his new command, the Agamemnon. He is forced to cancel leave, and messages Anna with the news. She decides not to tell him about the new expedition, she can explain it all when they get back.
Anna meets Dr Morden, the archaeolinguist assigned to the Icarus expedition, who is still in mourning for his late wife and daughter killed in a terrorist attack. She also discovers a Psi Corps operative aboard the ship, leading her to suspect their interest in the expedition.
Kosh informs Delenn that a human expedition has been sent to Z'ha'dum. Delenn makes a request of Commander Jeffrey Sinclair to intervene and prevent the Icarus expedition, but Sinclair is powerless. Delenn informs him that any further ships sent to Alpha Omega 3 will constitute an act of war against the Minbari. Earthforce orders the Agamemnon to intercept a Narn ship believed to be making contact with the subversive group Home Guard, smuggling explosives with the intent to destroy Babylon 5.
Anna learns that EarthGov and Psi Corps learned of the existence of the planet after planting a homing beacon on an alien ship encountered on Mars three years previously. The expedition encounters ancient ruins and a series of underground caves - and also starts suffering equipment malfunctions and personnel losses. Anna and Morden discover that an ancient alien race is re-awakening on the planet and have captured their comrades for use with their bio-mechanical technology. Before Anna can detonate a telepathic bomb to save herself, Morden stops her - he has given himself in to the aliens' promises of power and immortality when they tempt him with images of his dying wife.
Kosh, investigating Z'ha'dum and unable to be present for Babylon 5's dedication ceremony, witnesses the Icarus take off, send a distress signal, and then explode. As the Agamemnon joins the honour guard for the ceremony, Sheridan receives a message about the accident.
Notes: This novel details the events mentioned in In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum. Anna makes a medallion from a gift given to Morden by his late wife - Morden is wearing a necklace in all his appearances throughout the series. Morden's daughter's name was Sarah, but neither his nor his wife's first names are revealed. The snow globe Delenn is looking at in Shadow Dancing was a souvenir from John and Anna's honeymoon. The Shadow ship found on Mars is first mentioned in Messages From Earth, and also seen in the comic strip Shadows Past and Present. The alien servants seen on Z'ha'dum are very possibly the Drakh (introduced in Lines of Communication). In the novel Deadly Relations it is revealed to have been Bester who assigned the telepath (Donne) to the Icarus. Some of the storyline of this novel is followed up in the Passing of the Techno-mages series.
Recurring Characters: Anna Sheridan; Morden. Anna's boss, Dr Chang, is mentioned in Revelations. Senator Hidoshi makes an appearance.
Jeanne Cavelos was former editor of the Babylon 5 range of novels at Dell Publishing, and has since authored the Passing of the Techno-Mages series. This novel was written on J. Michael Straczynski's request to have the novels start telling the back-story of some Babylon 5 plot threads, and he has stated that this book can be considered as canon. The book was reprinted with a new cover in 2002.