Legions of Fire #3: Out of the Darkness

Written by Peter David
Based on an original outline by J. Michael Straczynski
DelRey, December 2000

This novel takes place between May 2274 and January 2278 (the sequence of future events seen in War Without End, Part II).

Legions of Fire 3: Out of the Darkness

2274: Continued Centauri attacks against frontier worlds under protection of Alliance member races are going unchallenged.  The Centauri have secret deals with many races - including the Drazi, whose colony world Mipas was recently attacked, and they are powerless to intervene lest their pact with the Centauri is revealed to the Alliance.  President Sheridan is frustrated at the lack of action, but G'Kar has ways and means of infiltrating Centauri Prime to gather information.

2275: Rem Lanas, one of Vir's resistance fighters, has been captured, in relation to the bombing of the Prime Candidates' safehouse four years' earlier.  Prime Minister Durla, hoping to finally crush the resistance, uses torture and a truth serum against Lanas - until Milifa, father of Prime Candidate Throk who died in the attack, accidentally kills Lanas whilst venting his anger.  Durla, outraged at having lost his only lead so far, leaves Milifa in the dungeons.  When suspicions begin to arise among other Ministers about the true source of Durla's power - his wife, Mariel - Durla brutally assaults Mariel to send a message that no woman is boss of him.

Back on Centauri Prime, Vir has a dream where he is met by the Drakh Shiv'kala, to question him about his knowledge - in particular, how he learned his name.  Vir confesses that Techno-mages told him, but plays dumb so as not to alert the Drakh of his involvement in the resistance.  Shiv'kala states that he is aware of the predictions of Lady Morella, and promises Vir great power if he is willing to co-operate when the time comes.  Vir meets up with Senna, who has already guessed his position in the Legions of Fire - the name he has given his resistance movement - and they each also realize their affection for each other.  But Vir is still also pained to see Mariel, who is still devoted to him via the Techno-mage spell, being treated in such a manner by Durla.

The heads of the various Houses approach Emperor Mollari and demand something be done about Durla, following his treatment of the head of House Milifa.  Londo tells them that Prime Minister Durla's power is now beyond even his own control - that Centauri Prime is now irretrievably headed down a dark path and it is the Houses' own fault for giving Durla the power he wields in the first place.  Londo confronts Durla and his retinue in the Tower of Power, where Durla is forced to reveal to Londo his great plan for Centauri Prime.

The powerful fleet being assembled on various Centauri colony worlds - or other worlds annexed in their recent attacks - is going to be one of the largest ever constructed.  With it they will attack a majority of the Alliance member homeworlds, subjugating the major races, before facing up to President Sheridan and the forces of the Alliance itself.  Durla makes a rallying speech to Centauri Prime promising victory over Sheridan - unlike the Vorlons and the Shadows, and the Earth President, the Centauri will never give up, never surrender.  While Londo stands with Durla on the balcony of the Tower of Power, there is an assassination attempt - against Durla, committed by a Centauri, and prevented by... a Narn, Citizen G'Kar, disguised as a Centauri with a changeling net.  Londo takes G'Kar under his protection.

At a meeting of the Legions of Fire, the resistance members and the Techno-mages Finian and Gwynn decide that it has come time for action: the Drakh must be driven from Centauri Prime, revealing Durla's plan for what it is and showing the Alliance that the Centauri are innocent victims.

2276: G'Kar remains on Centauri Prime, at Londo's request and desire to have a friend close by.  The Drakh send Durla another dream message (as always, in Mariel's form) promising Sheridan's son David to him as a stratagem to defeat the Alliance.  When Durla asks Mariel what she truly thinks of his great scheme, she tells him - earning her another beating.

2277: David Sheridan's sixteenth birthday (Minbari time) arrives: and he is duly presented with the urn given his parents by Emperor Londo Mollari some years before.  He had been having recurring dreams for years of an eye watching over him... and when he is taken by the Drakh Keeper inside the urn, David is easily influenced.  Feeling that his parents have been over-protective of him, never allowing him to leave and have fun, David departs Minbar for Centauri Prime.  He attacks his father during his escape - and Sheridan and Delenn, realizing what has happened, decide to go after him.  When Londo hears of David Sheridan's capture, he confronts Durla, even resorting to attacking him.  This earns him a severe reprimand from the Drakh, and Durla has G'Kar imprisoned.  Londo is powerless: it is only a few days away until the massive attack fleet is ready to be launched.

Vir learns of David's capture from Garibaldi, and vows to something about it himself.  On Centauri Prime, he meets with Mariel and reveals to her that her feelings for him are false - a spell cast by a Techno-mage, at Vir's request, so he could use her for his own ends.  Mariel does not believe him and decides to find another way to prove her love.  When he meets with Londo, the Emperor tells him the story of Don Quixote and his battles against windmills... which inspires Vir to lead the Legions of Fire into their next major assault.

Sheridan finds himself in a dungeon cell along with G'Kar.  Delenn is taken before Londo where he asks her to tell him the truth about the Earth-Minbari War; she does.  The Tower of Power is destroyed in an explosion engineered by the Legions of Fire - which exposes the Drakh soldiers lurking inside.  Vir announces over the broadcast network that it is he who is the leader of the resistance movement, and that Centauri Prime has been duped by the Drakh, who are using Durla as their tool.  Durla flees the fighting and attempts to contact the fleet to launch the attack - but Mariel prevents him, and they both fall to their deaths from an upper-story window in the palace.

2278: Hoping to salvage some of their plan, Shiv'kala threatens Londo to announce to the Centauri that the Drakh are actually their friends, in league with the Centauri to assist them on the path to greatness.  Londo refuses, and Shiv'kala detonates a number of explosives planted around the planet as punishment: once again, most of the planet is devastated.  Shiv'kala then instructs Londo to arrange for Sheridan and Delenn's execution.  Londo appears to comply: Sheridan (who has been replaced by his temporally-unstable past self) and Delenn are brought before him and accused of neglecting the fate of Centauri Prime following the Shadow War.  Alone in their cell once more, Sheridan tells Delenn about his time-travelling from Babylon 4... despite her best efforts not to alter the future, she pleads with him not to go to Z'ha'dum.

In his throne room, Londo, feeling the end is nearing, tells Senna and two children in her care, Luc and Lyssa, of the glory days of the Centauri Republic, in the beginning, of the Earth-Minbari War...  Next, and in need of alcohol to numb the senses of his Keeper, Londo meets with Vir, asking him to help him with a history he has a plan to write: "I was there at the Dawn of the Third Age of Mankind..."  Finally, Londo calls for G'Kar, asking for his help, before summoning Sheridan and Delenn back again.  Free from the Keeper's influence, Londo lets Sheridan and Delenn go, with David (still with a Keeper attached) waiting for them in the shuttle.

When Sheridan and Delenn are safely away, Londo makes his final request of G'Kar... for Sheridan and Delenn to survive the Drakh discovering they have escaped, Londo must die.  He gives himself willingly to G'Kar, until the Keeper awakens and begins to fight back.  They die by each other's hands.  Vir discovers the bodies... and meets again with Shiv'kala, who resolves to kill him for bringing about his failure.  Vir is saved by Gwynn and Finian, whom he requests to give him their blessings so that, combined with his image in the eyes of many Centauri as the one who fought to save their world, Lady Morella's prediction of his becoming Emperor may finally come to fruition.

Despite Dr Stephen Franklin's best efforts, the only way possible to free David's mind and body of the Keeper is to kill the Drakh that birthed it - which Garibaldi promises to do, secreting himself away on Centauri Prime.  Vir confronts Shiv'kala again, and gets the Drakh's admission that David's keeper is his; Garibaldi emerges and kills the Drakh, and David's Keeper dies.

With the guidance of Emperor Vir and his lady, Senna, the Centauri militia and its fleet of mighty warships is gainfully employed alongside the Alliance hunting down the remaining Drakh and exterminating them.

Notes: Some of Lady Morella's predictions (Point of No Return) are recalled here: Londo recalls her warning to him to "save the eye that does not see", which he decides must mean "save the I that does not see"; and "you must surrender yourself to your greatest fear, knowing that it will kill you", meaning, of course, his final confrontation with G'Kar; Vir had been told he would succeed Londo as Emperor, as was hinted in War Without End, Part II and seen in Sleeping in Light (2281).  Vir recalls his meeting with the Techno-mages, with the intent to get their blessing for Londo, seen in The Geometry of Shadows.  Londo presented the urn to Sheridan and Delenn for David's 16th birthday in Objects at Rest.  Could the "incident" regarding David Sheridan mentioned in The Deconstruction of Falling Stars been his kidnapping here?  It is also mentioned that David is physically Human in appearance.

Sheridan's time-hopping from Babylon 4, and Londo and G'Kar's death sequence, was seen in War Without End, Part II.  Londo first made mention of the circumstances of his death in Midnight on the Firing Line.  The "history" that Londo proceeds to dictate to Vir begins with his opening monologue from the pilot, The Gathering.  Londo's recounting of the Earth-Minbari War is, of course, as seen in In the Beginning; and we discover here that the young woman seen in the telemovie is Senna.  Londo's other ex-wife, Timov, dies of a long illness at the same time as Mollari himself.  Londo mentions the Excalibur's victory against the Drakh's plan to eradicate humanity, which, given that it is 2275 and eight years since A Call to Arms, is very likely a reference to the Drakh plague (Crusade).  Londo also misquotes Kosh: "The blizzard has already begun.  It is too late for the snowflakes to vote", as opposed to the avalanche/pebbles line in Believers.

Recurring Characters: Londo Mollari; Vir Cotto; G'Kar; President Sheridan; Delenn; Michael GaribaldiDr Stephen Franklin makes a brief appearance.  Characters returning from The Long Night of Centauri Prime and Armies of Light and Dark: Prime Minister Durla; Minister Castig Lione; Milifa of the House Milifa, father of Throk of the Prime Candidates killed by Vir in the previous novel; Lady Senna, daughter of Lord Refa; resistance members Rem Lanas and the bomber Renegar; the Drakh Shiv'kala; the Techno-mages Finian and Gwynn; and of course Londo's ex-wifes Mariel and Timov, as seen in Peter David's TV episode Soul Mates.  This is the first story to feature David Sheridan, following the announcement of his conception in Wheel of Fire, and mention of his name in War Without End, Part II and Sleeping in Light.