Read Babylon 5: Red Fury Online
Authors: Claudia Christian,Morgan Grant Buchanan
Tags: #Babylon 5 short story
destroyers with Shadow tech? Who was responsible for attacking her ship, destroying the White Star, killing her crew? Susan Ivanova wanted to know who she had to make pay.
She felt the Shadow components of the ship screaming in denial
as she reached out with her mind. Their presence was like an oil slick, attempting to pollute the cocoon of light that surrounded her. Ivanova focused her energy upon that darkness and began burning her way
through to the human minds that lay beneath the Shadow systems.
“Who did this to you?” she asked. “Tell me and I will carry out
justice for you. I’ll see them burn.”
“End this,” they pleaded as one. “Please. End this.”
“A name. A face. Show me who did this and I’ll set you free.”
Then there were both. A face and a name and more—a reason.
Alfred Bester, head of Psi Corps. It didn’t make sense. Whatever Bester was, he would never submit his fellow telepaths to this kind of fate.
She probed more deeply and saw that Bester had discovered the ships, already built on Ganymede. Unable to free the telepaths inside, he’d decided to sacrifice them to serve the greater good of the Psi Corps—
and capture the Vorlon craft for himself. There was technology aboard it that could be taken and modified to further his own cause—to develop an ultimate weapon for when the inevitable
war between humans and telepaths began.
“Please,” the telepaths begged her. “End it now.”
There was nothing she could do for them. No treatment that would untangle them from the Shadow tech and allow them to live. A quick death was the kindest mercy.
Ivanova put some distance between her and the destroyer and then swung back around, firing directly at it. She unleashed all the power she’d been holding in reserve. The Vorlon ship fired its beam weapon into the heart of the destroyer, this time responding to Ivanova’s feelings before they had even become a conscious thought—an experience
that was both frightening and gratifying. This was justice. This was
righteousness. As the enemy ship exploded, Susan drove right into the fire. The ship knew its limits; she could sense them. Fire couldn’t hurt her. Missiles or energy weapons couldn’t stop her. The fire gave her strength, it gave her power.
“Sir? You’ve done it. Head back in now.”
It was Berensen. An incoming transmission from
. His voice and the remembrance that she was the ship’s captain came to her as if from a great distance. The Vorlon ship had given her two gifts. A vision that permitted her to see everything on a grand scale and power she could wield with a direct efficacy. Why had she held back for so long?
Allowed herself to be constrained by little rules and regulations? This assault was the final straw, the final indignity she would suffer at the hand of Psi Corps. Her enemies needed to learn that they could not strike at her with impunity. They needed to feel her rage.
“You’re in command Berensen,” she transmitted. “Repair jump
engines and dock at the Alliance base on Proxima III.”
“And you, sir?”
“I’ve got work to do.”
The Vorlon ship warped space around her, creating its own
jumpgate. She sped through it. The fire was building within her again and when she exited hyperspace it would begin. She would clean the stain of the Psi Corps from the face of the Earth. Every base, every ship, every god-damned Psi Cop and most important of all—before
she killed him, she would wipe the insufferable smirk from the face of the head Psi Cop himself—Alfred Bester.
Interstellar Alliance headquarters, Tuzanor, Minbar.
John Sheridan was having a hell of a day.
When he moved the headquarters of the Interstellar Alliance to the ancient Minbari city of Tuzanor, he’d hoped its tranquil surroundings would make his job as President of the Interstellar Alliance less stressful.
But from day one he’d barely had a spare moment to appreciate the snow-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls and crystalline towers.
Each day was filled with endless requests—trade embargoes, border treaties to sign, settling potential conflicts.
The day had started with a war brewing between the Drazi and the Pak’ma’ra over a massive hyperspace jellyfish that had escaped from a jumpgate and died on their shared border. The Drazi wanted to deify it and build an orbital temple in its honor; the Pak’ma’ra claimed their laws and customs would be violated beyond repair if they weren’t permitted to haul it back to their homeworld for a mass feast. Then the news about Ivanova hit his desk.
“She’s in a Vorlon ship doing what?”
He barely had time to scan the contents of the report when his
screen lit up with an incoming
Gold Channel One
transmission from Earth—General George O’Reilly, Chairman of EarthForce’s Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
“She’s snapped, John. We can’t stop her, at least not without killing her. I’m making this call as a personal courtesy to you.”
“I appreciate that George. I’m on this.”
“Here’s what’s not in the report,” the general said. “She was
provoked. Attacked by three Shadow tech destroyers near Jupiter.”
A prickling discomfort crawled up the back of Sheridan’s neck. “I thought we got rid of all of them.”
“We think there must have been some prototypes concealed on
“And somehow this is connected to Psi Corps?” Sheridan asked.
“Why else would she be attacking them?”
“All we know for sure is that she’s going like a bat out of hell, destroying base after base. She’s demanding they offer up Bester or she’ll wipe them off the face of the Earth.”
“Bester’s had this coming for a long time, Bill. If he’s openly
“John, we can’t have this kind of thing going on, not so soon after the war, not with the telepaths starting to make trouble. You know that.”
“I know, I know,” he said, absent-mindedly rubbing his temples.
“And I appreciate you bringing this to me. Have your men stand down.
I’ll fix this somehow.”
“I can give you 24 hours to resolve this. Then I have to act.”
“Wait. I need you to do something else for me, Bill. If she’s inside a Vorlon ship then she’s not in her right mind. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy, take my word for it. And if Bester and the Psi Corps have driven her to this point, she’s not responsible for her actions.”
“I can help her, John. Hell, I can see she gets a commendation for this if you like. I have contacts that can make that happen, but on one condition only. She can’t kill Bester.”
“I thought you were going to say ‘as long as she doesn’t hit any civilian targets.’ And what do you mean ‘contacts who can make that happen’? You’re practically running EarthForce.”
“John, you know there are forces higher than the office of the
President or EarthForce. There always have been, there always will be.
That’s all I can say. You have my word I’ll do all I can for your friend.
Assuming she survives.”
“As long as I stop her from killing Bester,” Sheridan reiterated.
“Good luck, John,” O’Reilly said, and then the screen went blank.
“Good luck?” Sheridan said out loud. “Susan’s gone crazy in
command of a Vorlon ship and all he’s got is ‘good luck’?”
He wished now he hadn’t left the Vorlon ship on board
. But what else was there to do with it? It seemed like the safest bet at the time, leaving it under Susan’s watchful eye. Sheridan patched a signal straight through to Babylon 5. If he had to pry Susan out of the Vorlon ship then
he was going to need Lyta and that was going to be a hell of a problem in itself. The last time they’d spoken, he’d held a PPG to her head.
After the problems with Byron and his telepaths on Babylon 5, he’d been the one who’d personally arrested Lyta on charges of supporting terrorism. Somehow, she’d managed to get the charges against her dropped and now she was due to ship out with G’Kar to explore the galaxy. He didn’t think she’d respond well to one last request for help.
“Lyta. Just hear me out...” he started when the call went through.
“Bester’s on his way here.”
“I haven’t even asked...”
“Bester is on his way here with a personal escort of Black Omega Star Furies. It’s something to do with Susan.”
He wondered if she’d just intuited the reason for his call or if Lyta really was so powerful now that she could read his thoughts over the light years of space between them.
“You’ve heard about Susan?” he asked.
“No. I can sense her thoughts, though. She’s in trouble. I’m
assuming you want my help.”
“You got that right. Look I know there’s been some bad blood...”
“You’ve got it. I’ll help. This one last time before I go away.”
“That easy? I was expecting you’d...”
“Put up more of a fight? If it was for you, I’d tell you to go to hell.
But it’s not. It’s for Susan. She didn’t stick around to see Babylon 5 sell out its telepath population. We stood together and faced the Great Eye on Z’ha’dum. I helped when Shadow tech was hiding on
her ship, and I’ll help her now. Because of who she is and because of what we all once were.”
“Alright,” Sheridan said, “thank you. I’m on my way.”
“Here? Susan isn’t anywhere near Babylon 5.”
“No, she’s on Earth right now but she’ll be coming your way soon.
She’s going to try and kill Bester. I’ll send you the file.”
“Oh,” Lyta said. ”That’s not good.”
“That she’ll be coming to Babylon 5?”
“No. That she wants to kill Bester.”
“I thought you’d be pleased about that,” Sheridan said.
“Ordinarily, yes, but no one’s allowed to kill Bester except for Mr. Garibaldi.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Sheridan said, closing the channel.
The journey from Minbar to Babylon 5 was only a little longer than the Earth to Babylon 5 voyage. Utilizing the major jump routes, the gravimetric engines in his White Star would put him there in a matter of hours, arriving just after Susan. There was no time to waste. The matter of the hyperspace jellyfish would have to wait.
Sheridan scowled as he marched down the corridor, heading for the hangar bay. Bester he understood, the Psi Cop was always the same, always pushing the limits to further his own cause, but what was it that Lyta had said about Michael? Didn’t he already have a hard enough job ahead of him? He’d made a personal assurance that he’d stop Susan but what if she wouldn’t listen to reason? If she were inside the Vorlon ship her mind would be addled, her emotions running wild.
“What the hell is wrong with these people?” he said out loud.
Everything had been easy when all he had to do was lead an attack fleet to save the galaxy from god-like aliens. Life and death, right and wrong. Nice and clean. Nothing was simple any more.
Susan Ivanova emerged from the electric blue spiral of the jumpgate and sped towards Babylon 5. She knew why Bester had run here—he
was seeking refuge in the one place he thought she would never attack.
And she did feel a slight inner conflict, but any thought of restraint was like spring rain falling upon a raging forest fire. The account had to be paid in full this time, and not just for the crew of
and White Star 27, but for all of the people that had suffered at Bester’s hands. Her vengeance was fuelled by a divine fire; a righteousness that could not be denied. If Babylon 5 stood in between her and her enemy then its captain would have to live with her mistakes.
“Captain Ivanova, this is Captain Lochley.” An incoming signal from Babylon 5. “I’m requesting that you stand down immediately. I have direct orders from President Sheridan. Stand down and surrender yourself into Babylon 5’s custody. I am authorized to guarantee your safety.”
She didn’t reply, it would only make things more difficult. Really, what was there to say?
“Captain Ivanova? I asked nicely once. Now I’m ordering you to
stand down and hold your position.”
Ivanova’s attention was consumed by nine, black Star Furies
marked with Psi Corps insignia—Bester’s elite Black Omega squadron.
They were lined up behind the station in a reverse phalanx, a V-shaped funnel. She knew that Bester’s ship would be the one at the rear—
he’d happily sacrifice every one of his men to keep her at bay. Another incoming signal. This was one call she wanted to take.
“Bester,” she said.
“Captain Ivanova. We are at something of an impasse.”
“Sure we are,” she said. “You don’t want me to blow you out of
space and I can’t take out nine Star Furies single handed. Oh, wait. I can. So glad we could work things out.”
“Wait!” Bester called out and Ivanova was pleased to hear a tone
of urgency in his voice. “You don’t want to do this. I have assurances from Captain Lochley that Babylon 5 will fire on you if you engage my fighters.”
“I’m okay with that,” Susan said. “But there’s one thing you need to know. Today is the last day you pollute the galaxy with your existence, the very last day, and if that means both of us die then I guess I’ll see you in hell.“
She came in high over Babylon 5 and opened fire on the Psi Corps fighters. They responded at once—concentrating their fire, holding formation and tracking her as she flew over them.
As in the previous firefight, she absorbed the energy from the blasts that hit her, feeding the fire, fuelling both her rage and the fusion beam that was a part of her. Susan flew directly into the storm of pulse cannon fire and let the burning fire surge through her core. Her fusion beam obliterated the nearest Star Fury in an explosion of sparks.
She’d expected them to scatter, to make it harder to target them. By the time she’d worked out the reason they were holding their ground, it was too late, their combined psychic attack had penetrated her defenses.