The Passing of the Techno-Mages #2: Summoning Light
|Written by Jeanne Cavelos
Based on an original outline by J. Michael Straczynski
|DelRey, July 2001|
This novel takes place in January 2259, incorporating the events of The Geometry of Shadows.
Aboard a Shadow vessel, Elizar, Razeel and Tilar enlist the help of a telepath, and are soon rewarded with the arrival of Kell, the former Techno-mage Circle leader who has sought out Elizar to discover if he really is working for the Shadows, or if it is just a ruse to help the mages. Elizar, however, is still determined to see the mages allied with the Shadows, and uses the telepath to extract from Kell the location of the mages' gathering place, before they enter into hiding.
On Selic 4 the Techno-mages begin to gather, having destroyed their places of power, leaving many of them, including Elric, feeling weakened. Elizar's ship arrives on Selic 4 bearing the body of Kell - it has been flayed, all the Mage tech removed. Many mages, including Alwyn and his apprentice Carvin, were attacked en route, and some others are missing, presumed dead. Fearing their hiding place being discovered, the mages decide to amend their plans. One group will proceed directly to the hiding place to prepare the way, while Elric leads another larger group to divert enemy attention. Another member of the Circle, Blaylock, plans to travel to Thenothk 4 to gather intelligence about Elizar and the Shadows - and Galen, desperate for vengeance over the death of Isabelle, is determined to go with him. Alwyn and Carvin announce their intention to stay behind, to fight if need be.
Elric's delegation arrives at Babylon 5, where he discovers through his probes and sources that the Shadows indeed have various influences here: Morden has been here for one, and Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari also has connections. Galen forces himself to study Isabelle's spell for tracking Shadow communications, and meets up again with G'Leel, the female Narn merchant who assisted them once before. She knows the location of Z'ha'dum, and wishes to help the mages to protect the Narn, however she is shocked when she learns they are not preparing to fight, but to go into hiding.
Elric engineers a meeting between himself, Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari, and Captain John Sheridan. Using Mollari as a pawn of misdirection and John Sheridan as an ally, Elric hopes to convince the Shadows the mages are leaving Babylon 5 via a different ship to the one they actually take. A Drazi trader, Rabelna Dorna, is provided with false information to take to her suspected Shadow masters. Elric has an encounter with Morden, who threatens both the technomages generally and Galen specifically. Alwyn leaves Babylon 5 to ensure Galen's safety.
Following Rabelna on Thenothk, Galen finds a Shadow base and is able to translate Isabelle's spell to overhear their communications, but they are discovered and pursued. A Shadow ship also tracks them down - but Galen is able to conjure his Spell of Destruction, against the Circle's wishes, but this time is able to control it to take down the Shadow ship; Galen also discovers it has a human mind slaved to the technology to act as a pilot: Anna Sheridan. While Galen recovers, Blaylock pursues the rogue Techno-mages and the Shadows on his own, only to be captured. Galen and G'Leel track them down, locating an underground base where the excavation of another Shadow vessel is taking place, and Anna is to be transplanted aboard. When he passes by her, Anna seizes Galen's hand, hoping to link with his technology, and once again become part of "the machine". Taking Anna with them, Galen uses his Spell of Destruction against several Shadows and Drakh... but when they find Elizar and his gang, Galen finds his tech has been disabled and is powerless to stop G'Leel from being shot.
Galen deduces that the room they are trapped in somehow blocks mage technology. Alone with them, Elizar reveals that the Taratimude, the race who founded the Techno-mage order, were themselves not even masters of the technology - it was given to them by the Shadows, a secret that is still held by the Circle today. New chrysalises for initiate mages are still acquired from the Drakh, a function performed by the Circle's former leader, Kell. The Shadows alone know how to replicate and control the tech, as the Circle had expressly forbidden anyone from discovering its secret. There is one mage who discovered the secret, and was forbidden by the Circle to speak of it on threat of flaying: Alwyn. Elizar tries to convince Galen that all his actions have been to discover the Shadows' secrets and allow the mages to regain control over their own power. Indeed, Galen's own unique spell-language had led him to discover the raw destructive power held within it. But Galen is reluctant to play along, especially when Elizar demands that he tell him of the mages' hiding place.
Galen tries to escape, as Anna Sheridan revives again and links herself to the technology within the room they are trapped. Galen is subdued and scanned by Elizar's assistant telepath, but Anna ceases the interference with his tech, granting him his powers back. Blaylock, unconscious after his tech had been disabled, is also awakened. Alwyn also makes a timely appearance to help them escape, along with the critically-wounded G'Leel. Along the way, Galen kills Tilar (among many others) with his Spell of Destruction. He tries to remain behind to pursue Elizar, but is prevented and taken with the others aboard Alwyn's ship. He is angry with Blaylock for the deception about the mage technology, but Blaylock claims that it is the responsibility of the mages themselves to utilize and master the tech, regardless of where it originated. Unlike Anna Sheridan, the mages are not slaves of the technology, it is merely a part of them. Galen releases his Spell of Destruction again and again on the pursuing ships, the Shadow excavations, the planet's spaceport, a weapons factory... until they are out of range. A Vorlon ship stands in their path... it is Kosh, a test to determine if the fabulists will attack him. When they do not, he lets them pass.
On Babylon 5, illusory mages board the Centauri freighter Ondavi, a ship of Lord Refa's appropriated by Londo Mollari as part of Elric's persuasions. The few mages who remain aboard are aware they face death, as the Shadows are sure to destroy the vessel, believing all the Techno-mages to be aboard. Elric himself, despite planning to be aboard, is prevented from departing with them - instead, Alwyn's young apprentice Carvin boards in his place. Before he boards a second ship secretly prepared for the remainder of them, the Crystal Cabin, Elric gives Londo Mollari a few choice words of wisdom, a warning of the darkness that threatens to consume him. The two ships depart together, and as predicted, the Ondavi explodes as they approach the jumpgate.
As all the mages gather again to prepare to go to the hiding place, Blaylock tells Galen that he must not speak of what he has learned. Galen must also come to terms with his inner anger and emotions, over his parents' death, over Isabelle, and over Elric keeping the secret of the mage technology from him. Galen agrees to Elric's pleas to go into hiding with the rest of them. G'Leel, healing from her injuries, joins Alwyn, who still intends to remain and fight, even more so to avenge Carvin. He pleads with Galen, but Galen is resolute: with the power he wields, he is safer in hiding than out in the Universe.
Aboard his ship, following the mages as they depart, Galen receives a message from Elizar, blaming him for the "deaths" of the Techno-mages, and that he will find him, and kill him. The mages also make a stop in the Lanep system, finding a ship developed from Shadow technology destroying the Earth base located there, one that had unearthed a Shadow ship some years earlier. Gideon receives a distress call from an Ensign Matthew Gideon, whose ship the Cerberus had also been destroyed by this unknown vessel. Galen rescues Gideon and evades the hybrid ship, which eventually overloads and explodes.
The Techno-mages continue on their way. And once again, Kosh watches them, appreciating their sacrifice against the forces of chaos.
Notes: There is a description of the aliens and the neural implants seen in Ship of Tears, where we also see the Shadow-converts' obsession to link with technology. It is not uncommon for Shadow vessels to be excavated from other worlds, there was one on Mars and Ganymede (Messages From Earth, the comic Shadows Past and Present). There is mention of a "subordinate" Drakh race, who serve as soldiers and workers: these were the type seen in Babylon 5: Lines of Communication and Crusade: War Zone.
Reference is made to Londo's Centauri associate, Lord Refa. Galen's rescue of Gideon is recounted in War Zone and seen in The Path of Sorrows. One of Alwyn's favourite spells is the illusion of a giant gold dragon - as shown in The Long Road. Mention is made of the Xon, a race who also evolved on Centauri Prime before being wiped out by the Centauri (see The Parliament of Dreams).
The Taratimude were a race who fought amongst each other before being given the Shadow tech, and then they sided with the Shadows in the last Shadow War. After it was over, they fought amongst themselves again and disappeared into extinction. Wierden realized that these violent impulses were generated by the tech itself, and so formed the Circle and the Code of the Techno-mages in an attempt to tame it.
Recurring Characters: Galen, Elric (Babylon 5: The Geometry of Shadows), Alwyn (Crusade: The Long Road), Londo Mollari, John Sheridan, Anna Sheridan, Morden.