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Gareth D. Williams

A Dark, Distorted Mirror.

Volume 5 : Among the Stars, like Giants.

Part 3 : On the Edges of Perception

Chapter 1

It is impossible to discuss the final years of the Alliance without mentioning the individual people involved. More than anything else, the Alliance was the creation of individuals, and the events which led to its collapse especially so. General Sheridan the Shadowkiller, the Blessed Delenn, G'Kar the Messiah, Emperor Londo — all of these cast long shadows over the exploits of others, but they were only the stars at the zenith of the firmament. Others moved and acted, their movements and actions perhaps smaller and more shadowed, but every bit as significant.

Without Vejar, without Dexter Smith, without Talia Winters or Lennier or Jorah Marrago, could events have transpired as they did? Would Delenn or Sheridan or the others have been able to act without them?

But of course, if we are to talk about individuals, there is one who cannot be ignored, who cannot be forgotten, no matter how much some might wish to.

Primarch Sinoval the Accursed will be with us always.

For good or ill.

WATKINS, J. K. (2295) A Cathedral of the Ages: The Sinoval Conspiracy.

Chapter 4 of The Rise and Fall of the United Alliance, the End of the Second Age and the Beginning of the Third, vol. 4, The Dreaming Years.

Ed: S. Barringer, G. Boshears, A. E. Clements, D. G. Goldingay & M. G. Kerr.

* * *

There was pain, an agony of the souls screaming. Their memories, their lives, their whispers, their knowledge, all being stolen, all violated.

Sinoval could feel it. He was as much a part of the Well as the Well was of him. The Well of Souls, repository of the wisdom of millennia, stronghold of the last souls of races long since destroyed. A memory, and like all memories, with the potential for great joy or great anguish.

The pain ended, in time. The invader was driven away. He was not yet ready to attempt to conquer Cathedral itself. Despite his knowledge, he needed more time to prepare. That did not matter. He had done enough.

"We shall meet again, Primarch," said the voice in his mind. Calm, confident, clipped. The voice of one who has never known fear, never known doubt, never known anything but the absolute certainty of what he is doing. "Have no fear of that."

"I do not fear you," Sinoval hissed, knowing the invader could hear him.

"I know," Sebastian said as he departed. "But you will."

Sinoval did not know how long he lay there. He stirred, coming back to himself through a haze of red mist, to see Susan running towards him, two Praetors Tutelary at her side. He had sent them away, not that they could have done any good.

"What happened?" she asked. "Are we under attack?"

He accepted her hand, and rose awkwardly to his feet.

"I think we have much less time than we had hoped," he said gravely.

* * *

The drinking house was dark and noisy. He did not like either, but at least he could not hear his own mind with the noise here, which was something. The humans sometimes complained about loud noises by saying that it was too loud for them to think.

As far as he was concerned, that was a good thing.

His contact was late, but that could mean anything. Anything at all. He did not know the Narn's name, only that he was connected to certain individuals in the Kha'Ri, and that he had information. The silent, dark-clothed figure sitting in the corner of the bar knew the value of information.

It was why he was here, after all.

He raised his head slightly as he noticed a fight starting at the far corner of the room. Not surprising. There was a great deal of violence about on Narn these days. Most of it directed at aliens. There were fewer of them around than there had been.

There were no Centauri, obviously, but even some of the Narns' former allies, such as the Drazi and the Brakiri, were suffering. In the corner of the room, a Drazi was facing off against four Narns. The Drazi must have known this would happen, but then they had never been famous for their peaceful nature. With their world occupied and humiliating 'sanctions' imposed, they had to try to win somewhere.

The silent man remembered where he had been when he heard about the Drazi blockade and the war. Rather embarrassingly for someone in his position, he had heard it in drunken gossip, and had at first dismissed it as nothing more. Then he heard more confirmatory reports, enough to make him believe, despite how much he had wanted to deny it.

He supposed he should not care. He had few friends. Probably just the one, and he was not Drazi. Still, it raised the question, what had any of them been fighting for if not for the freedom to make one's own choices? The Drazi blockade and sanctions seemed to argue against that.

In the other corner, the Drazi had downed two of his assailants through strategic use of a chair. He could not however block the stone hurled from another table. It struck him squarely under the armpit and he fell, in obvious agony. Narns piled on top of him, kicking and stomping.

"Not an uncommon sight," said a voice, and the silent man looked up. A Narn was standing in front of him. He matched the description given, but that was not enough these days.

"The password?"

"You know who I work for. Don't make this any harder. I want this over with."

"The password."

"Odin. There. Happy now?"

"It will do." He reached out a hand, and the Narn sat down.

"Stupid password anyway," the Narn said. "What does it mean?"

"It is a human God, one very few of them believe in now. He gave up one of his eyes for wisdom, and he had two ravens called Thought and Memory who flew around the world observing things for him."

"Humans! They'll believe anything." The Narn was looking around nervously. Everyone seemed to be paying attention to the events in the corner.

"Were you followed?"

"I don't think so. I backtracked and double-tailed and went into several pubs and all sorts. If anyone can follow me through all that, then we're both already dead. I've got it."

"Good." Beneath the table, in two casual motions, a data crystal was passed over and hidden.

"That's all I could get, understand? But it is enough. It's everything you asked for."

"I shall commend your name to my master."

"Don't. Do not even mention me at all. You never saw me."

"Very well." He nodded, keeping a careful eye on the corner. Everyone seemed occupied with what was going on there, but the voice in his head had fallen very quiet. It was not simply that he could not hear it, but that it was not talking.

"I'm done," the Narn said, rising.

Another Narn appeared from nowhere to block his path. Female, slightly built and dressed in clothes long past their best, she did not look out of place, and yet.... His contact blanched and stumbled backwards.

"Thenta Ma'Kur," she whispered, reaching out with one hand. She caught his contact on the shoulder and he fell, not even having had a chance to scream.

Somewhere, in the part of his mind that was divorced from reality, the part that he had trained not to care, he admired the precision of the murder. No one had noticed but him, and the death would appear entirely natural, perhaps the result of too much alcohol, or some tragic medical condition. He did not know Narn physiology, but he recognised the nature of the attack, and he knew a nerve strike when he saw one.

"I apologise," the assassin whispered to him. "You have involved yourself in a matter that is not your concern."

"An unfortunate reason for death."



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