This story is set in two time periods -- in late 2261, (between the final fourth season “Babylon 5” episode “Deconstruction of Falling Stars” and before the fifth season opening episode “No Compromises” and in 1260 on the planet Minbar.
-- PRELUDE --
John Sheridan, the newly elected President of the equally new Interstellar Alliance, was in a meeting with the new Commanding Officer of Babylon 5, and Ambassador Delenn of Minbar was alone in her – their – quarters, trying to find room for all of John’s possessions. She had anticipated that their marriage would result in any number of new challenges, but she hadn’t counted on the problem at hand. What had been an elegant, sparsely decorated space in Minbari style was now crowded with an eclectic collection of items.
Since she had no intention of asking John to dispose of his things -- she knew Humans tended to value material objects – Delenn was sorting through her own items, deciding what to give away or discard. She was beginning to conclude that it was a hopeless task. Perhaps they would have to maintain separate quarters until the new Interstellar Alliance headquarters was built on Minbar. She paused before her crystal wind chimes; the ones shaped like teardrops. They were made from stones retrieved from the river that flowed through the sacred city of Tuzanor, The City of Sorrows, the city where Valen had dwelt. No, those she would keep, maybe just move them to the bedroom. As she reached for them, she heard a familiar, booming voice call from behind her; a voice she had not heard in a very long time.
“I’d give you a hand with those, old friend, but I’m afraid there’s a limit to how much a holographic projection can do.”
“Draal!” she said, turning with a broad smile on her face.
“Yes, it is I, the inimitable Draal, at your service!” he proclaimed, bringing his fingers together to form a triangle and bending in an exaggerated bow. “Had I realized my absence would prompt such a … peculiar taste in redecorating,” he continued, glancing about the room, “I would certainly have visited you sooner.”
“Draal,” she protested lightly, “simply because we do not share the same aesthetic with the Humans is no reason to insult them.” Delenn realized it had been years since she’d had such a frivolous conversation with a friend, and she was enjoying it. “As such things go, John’s proclivities are better than some … I still recall the hideous … object over the bed in Michael Garibaldi’s quarters when I visited him there some four years ago. But surely you have not taken your attentions from The Great Machine to engage in a discussion of interior design with me! To what do I owe this special appearance?”
“To what else but your recent nuptials, my dear? Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” she said, lowering her head almost bashfully, “but how…” She knew the answer, of course; as guardian of the Great Machine on Epsilon 3, Draal had the power to travel and observe almost anything, anywhere in the galaxy, at any time, simply by thinking about it.
“I check in on you now and again, just to see how you are doing. With the First Ones gone and the Shadow War over, I have considerably more time to dedicate to personal matters, you know. And speaking of personal matters … you’ve married a Human! According to their traditions I now owe you a wedding present. What gift that is within my power to give may I offer you?”
Delenn was downcast for a moment, thinking of the things she wanted most, things no one could possibly grant her; a restoration of all the years John had lost when he had perished on Z’ha’dum, and a healing for their respective home worlds in the wake of the separate civil wars that had ravaged each planet. She considered the work that lay ahead -- the rebuilding of physical structures, and more enormously, of the souls and spirits of both peoples. In Valen’s Name, she only hoped she was equal to the tasks ahead of her. Delenn thought for a moment about Valen, Minbar’s greatest historical figure, and her face brightened slightly. Perhaps there was a gift Draal might be able to give.
“Is it possible for me to use The Great Machine, as you once let Ivanova do?”
“Many things are possible … but what is it you wish to see, Delenn? I cannot allow you to look ahead to your own future, you know. I cannot let you see anything that might change what is to come.”
“It is not the future I would ask to see, Draal, but the past. I have been thinking much of my dear friend Jeffrey Sinclair…”
“Ah yes, Valen, your first husband.” Draal interrupted. Delenn was shocked – even for Draal this was an outrageous thing to say. Yes, she had consecrated herself to Sinclair; married him without his realizing it at the time. But Valen?
“I’ve never thought of him that way ... but Draal, it is not Valen as such that I have wondered about – I have of course studied all of the Grey Council’s texts about him. It is Sinclair I brood about – I worry that his life was nothing but self-sacrifice, that perhaps he never knew happiness. It pains me to think that he may never have been reunited with the woman he loved, Catherine Sakai. About his personal life, the records are conspicuously silent. Why is this, Draal? Was it the ancients who were troubled by Valen’s worldly side, or was it Valen himself who tried to hide his other face from history? If you do wish to give me a gift, then I would ask to use The Great Machine to find out what happened to my friend. It would mean a great deal to me, Draal.” She looked at him with innocent anticipation. Draal was silent for a moment, and when he spoke again, the bombast was gone from his voice.
“Such a thing might be done, Delenn, but I would have to monitor your thoughts closely to assure that you do not see anything which might change the Destiny that was set into motion when Sinclair traveled back in time with Babylon 4. I might also warn you, Delenn, that the things you may learn might not be those you hope for – are you positive you will be able to accept the truth, however harsh it may be? Please think about it carefully, old friend. My advice would be to choose another gift. But if it is truly what you wish, then you may visit me on Epsilon 3 tomorrow. Goodbye for now, Delenn.” He stretched his arm toward her, palm facing out, his other hand against his chest. Delenn returned the gesture.
“I will see you tomorrow, Draal,” Delenn said with certainty, as his image faded from view.