The Passing of the Techno-Mages #3: Invoking Darkness
|Written by Jeanne Cavelos
Based on an original outline by J. Michael Straczynski
|DelRey, November 2001|
This novel takes place between November 2260 and January 2261. (Chapter One takes place in August 2260, featuring Kosh's death (from Kosh's perspective) as seen in Interludes and Examinations.)
The Techno-mages have now spent nearly two years in seclusion, with only minor altercations between mages, and new initiates continue to be trained, despite the fact that there can now no longer be any new fully-fledged mages, and the knowledge of the history of the tech still kept secret. Despite encouragement from Elric and other members of the Circle, Galen keeps to himself and acts as an observer upon the outside Universe. He discovers that Soom has been devastated by a Shadow attack - and that Elizar, Razeel and the telepath Bunny are there, searching for the secret of Galen's Spell of Destruction. They gain information from Fa, a native girl whom Galen had befriended and had given a ring that his mother had made for his father for his birthday - the day they both died. Galen begins to regain memories of his mage parents - including the fact that they bullied each other, and ultimately killed each other along with many innocents in a shuttle accident.
Elric is threatened by Circe as she attempts to engineer an escape for herself and others who believe they should join with Morden and the Shadows. Elric is killed as he fights against Circe and her co-conspirators are uncovered. Galen takes the opportunity to convince the Circle that they must let him go back out into the Universe - expressly to kill Morden, the agent of the Shadows, but also to ensure that Elizar and Razeel do not discover how to use the Spell of Destruction. Galen is even supplied with a device that will detonate should he be killed, or his tech be rendered inert, in order to prevent any of the enemy from learning of the mages' hiding place. Also, he must complete his mission in 35 days, or he will be unable to return.
Meanwhile, Anna Sheridan is removed from symbiosis with her vessel by a human named Justin, who informs her of a new role she must play to ensure Shadow victory. Bunny is employed to try and break down Anna's memory barrier so that she can remember her past life and her husband, John Sheridan. When Bunny fails, her usefulness is over and she is enslaved to the Shadows, replacing Anna in one of the ships.
Posing as a trader named "Guy Phillips", Galen travels to Babylon 5 where he meets up with Alwyn and G'Leel. Alwyn is keen to persuade Galen to remain with them and fight. Observing Morden, Galen is once again able to intercept communications between the Shadows - however this time his consciousness gets caught in the transmission, and sent through space to a Shadow vessel. Only by catching onto a reply transmission can Galen return to his own body with what he has learned - that the Shadows are ready to make a final attack, and they have something special planned for Captain Sheridan.
Galen makes his move on Morden - he kills the Shadows with him using a PPG rather than risk using his Spell, and then gives Morden an ultimatum: surrender and be free of the Shadows' influence, or be destroyed. Morden refuses: he is faithful to his employers, and they have rewarded him well. When other Shadows hiding on Babylon 5 arrive, Galen is forced to flee, and he makes his way to John Sheridan. While Sheridan sleeps, Galen communicates with Kosh, who lies dormant in Sheridan's mind. Kosh tells him to find the new Vorlon Ambassador, Ulkesh, who will help him on his way to Z'ha'dum, where he must fight the rogue mages. When Sheridan wakes, Galen conjures a disguise of Michael Garibaldi and provides a subtle hint about the Shadows' strategy.
Justin continues to try teaching Anna about her old life, and how to convince John Sheridan into joining them - something that becomes even more crucial when Sheridan's forces win a major victory against them. When Morden returns he also helps Anna come to terms with her identity as Sheridan's former wife. Galen is near Z'ha'dum, observing, when a Vorlon ship materializes and takes Galen aboard. Ulkesh accuses Galen and his kind of being tainted with Shadows, which Galen does not deny, claiming that he seeks to halt any further involvement of the mages with the Shadows, and that the mages may eventually wipe themselves out anyway. Ulkesh provides him with the information he needs to pass through Z'ha'dum's defences: Galen himself is a product of the Chaos, and like will allow like. If Galen does not resist or betray himself, the defence net - "the Eye" - will let him pass. It incites thoughts of death and destruction, but Galen makes it through.
On Z'ha'dum, Galen finds his way underground and observes the Shadows and their various servants, learning also from his probes on Babylon 5 that Captain Sheridan is currently en route in a White Star holding two thermo-nuclear devices. He also discovers the true nature of the war between the Vorlons and the Shadows: to influence and direct the younger races to their own ways of thinking, to choose between Order and Obedience, or Chaos and Destruction. The Shadows grow impatient and seek now to entirely enslave or destroy those who will not follow them. Galen is reminded again of his parents: his mother, who loved him and protected him, and his father, who taught with heavy discipline. They both ended up in direct conflict with each other, an act which resulted in the deaths of many others.
After evading a trap, Galen receives a message from Elizar arranging a meeting "at the opening of the Eye". Exploring, Galen discovers himself at the base of an enormous chasm, the heart of the Shadows' base. There are thousands of beings totally consumed by the machine - and all a part of the Eye itself - with the power to destroy. Elizar meets him, demonstrating on some Drazi soldiers that he possesses the Spell of Destruction and can control the machine people. When Galen tries his own Spell on Elizar, the other mage deflects them away harmlessly. Despite Galen's arguments, Elizar insists that he is still working for the good of the mages - and that he shall build up his own, new order. Galen flees, unable to kill Elizar - the other mage has become too strong.
Meanwhile, Sheridan has arrived on Z'ha'dum, where Anna leads him to meet with Justin. Evading Elizar, Galen realizes what the catalogue of one-term equations in his personal spell-language represent: connections to the technology of the Shadows themselves, access to their machines and vessels, and the generation of shielding and destructive energy beams. He discovers a chamber where the army of machine beings is generated - as well as the technology of the Techno-mages - all of it generated from the bodies of living beings. He is confronted by Razeel, but injures her in his escape, and gives Sheridan time to get away from his pursuers after he refuses Justin's temptations. However, Morden, Elizar and Razeel find him again - and he is taken into the Eye itself. Galen deduces that, like all Shadow technology, there must be a living being at the heart of it, and that is its weakness. When he does reach the heart of the machine, he receives a message from Wierden: At last you have come. You must take my place.
Galen finds himself connected to the whole of the machine - he himself is the Eye. He is almost consumed by the power of death and destruction that the machine thirsts for, but is able to use his mental control to resist and contact Wierden. She is dying, the last of her life given out. She explains to him the history of the Techno-mages: the power given to them by the Shadows that led to the Taratimude wiping themselves out, and other races beginning to do the same before she formed the Circle, and the Code of the Techno-mages. But Wierden was betrayed, and brought to Z'ha'dum, where she had tried to use the Eye against the Shadows but its influence was too great. And now it is Galen's turn, with his own unique control of the spell language and mental discipline.
As Wierden's life-force dies, Galen is inspired. What if he can communicate with the living intelligence mage tech itself - not imposing his own will, nor relying upon the Shadow programming imprinted onto it? In his own spell language, an equation with no terms should open this link to the tech... With seconds to spare as the White Star plunges toward the planet, Galen tries the spell... and it works. One with the Eye, the tech, and himself, Galen re-emerges from the heart of the machine and turns the army of machine people against Razeel, who destroy her with their power. He also uses the Spell of Destruction against Elizar with great effect, finally killing him. He takes Morden into the Eye with him, for protection as the White Star plunges down and detonates, destroying the base.
Galen survives, as does a severely injured Morden, both scorched by the blast. Galen tries to keep Morden alive with his own healing organelles. Seeking refuge in the tunnels far underground, Galen meets a mysterious alien who promises to take care of Morden, as he is already looking after of Sheridan. Galen makes his way to the surface and a finds Shadow vessel, free of the influence of the Eye, which he uses to leave the planet, and return to the hiding place.
Galen receives a mixed reaction from the mages upon his return: some believe he is a hero, others believe he has once and for all prevented any hope of a future for the Order. In his absence, the Circle had informed the other mages of the secret origin of the tech, and violence erupted. Galen visits a dying Blaylock, and informs him of how he and the tech have finally become united, and he teaches Blaylock how to achieve it. Blaylock dies, contented. After the end of the Shadow War, a new ruling Circle is elected, although they elect not to leave the hiding place just yet. They reprimand Galen for behaving recklessly, and warn that they will be watching if he undermines their authority. But Galen is content to continue living his life, enjoying the uncertainty of the New Age into which the Universe has entered.
Notes: References are made to the events of the episodes concurrent with this story, namely: Londo's plotting to assassinate Lord Refa (And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place); Dr Franklin's "walkabout" in Down Below; the Shadows selectively attacking areas of space to round up the refugees for final extermination later, and the intervention of Sheridan's forces (Shadow Dancing); Sheridan's journey to Z'ha'dum; and foreshadowing of the capture of Michael Garibaldi (Z'ha'dum). Morden travels to Centauri Prime to make contact with Emperor Cartagia, and arrange for Londo's recall to the Royal Court (see The Hour of the Wolf).
Anna Sheridan and Morden are the only two survivors of the Icarus expedition. References are made to Anna's friendship with Morden, plus the death of Morden's wife and daughter being instrumental in the Shadows' influence over him (The Shadow Within). We also see a little more of Justin (seen in Z'ha'dum), a human who seems to act as a prime negotiator and instructor for the Shadows amongst the other races.
"Ulkesh" was the name of the Vorlon Ambassador on Minbar in the novel To Dream in the City of Sorrows (see also War Without End, Part I). Kosh has thoughts of "the First One... whose meditation between order and chaos had generated the ancient rules of engagement"; this is, of course, Lorien, the mysterious alien whom Galen encounters underground. The Streib are present on Z'ha'dum working for the Shadows as medical technicians (see All Alone in the Night).
Galen does not inform Alwyn of Elric's death right away - he does this later (The Long Road).
Recurring Characters: Galen, Elric (Babylon 5: The Geometry of Shadows), Alwyn (Crusade: The Long Road), Anna Sheridan, Morden. John Sheridan, Michael Garibaldi, and Kosh also make appearances, many of them in scenes repeated from the respective television episodes.