Keffer and Garibaldi escape Centauri clutches in a struggle that parallels Garibaldi’s first adventure with Jeffrey Sinclair – concluding the story of their meeting, what they discovered… and what it may mean for Babylon 5’s future.
[singlepic=67,200,,,left] Shadows Past and Present: Silent Enemies
Issue 8 (September 1995, released July 5)
Setting: Before “The Coming of Shadows”
Writer: Tim DeHaas Premise: J. Michael Straczynski Penciller: John Ridgway Inker: C-S. Hampton
Warning: this comic issue contains a spoiler for the episode
Garibaldi and Keffer make their way toward the Centauri city. As they walk, Garibaldi continues his story.
He and Sinclair were low on air and their comlinks had stopped working suddenly. A hunch led Garibaldi toward a canyon, where to his great surprise — and apparently Sinclair’s as well — they found a gigantic spidery ship apparently excavating another just like it as people from a nearby building watched. Was this what Sinclair was sent to look for, Garibaldi wondered?
A land vehicle approached them. Garibaldi pulled a gun on Sinclair and shot him. “Our coms were being jammed,” he thought, “which, to my knowledge, meant all communications were jammed. That meant the other guys had to use an alternative way to communicate… and the possibilities made my skin crawl.”
The vehicle came across Sinclair’s body. Its armed occupants got out to investigate. They returned to the rover to find Garibaldi waiting for them; they were down before they could react. Garibaldi roused Sinclair from his stungun-induced slumber. The two had suspected they might be dealing with telepaths. Sinclair had asked Garibaldi to stun him so his thoughts couldn’t be read.
Garibaldi and Sinclair quickly donned the telepaths’ suits. Sinclair explained that he was investigating possible covert human-alien activities. Previous missions sent to investigate had found only the tip of one human ear, nothing else. Perhaps suspecting that the earlier missions had been sabotaged, Sinclair elected to go with Garibaldi’s privately-run shuttle service rather than through official channels. “Right now, Garibaldi, you may be the only one I can trust,” he said.
Their planned escape was cut short when they discovered that the only way back was the roadway the vehicle had come from — straight toward the buildings and the mysterious alien ship, still performing its excavation. They decided to play along until they could escape, and followed the hand signals of the people on the ground. Unfortunately, that strategy led them straight toward the largest of the buildings. Garibaldi got out and tried to blend in with the other people; he was directed to load boxes onto a cargo platform attached to his vehicle. Then he was motioned to drive into the building — straight into the belly of the whale, he imagined.
Inside the building was a horrific sight: a huge transparent dome containing a large alien biomechanical construct, veins and skin and bone intermingling with tubes and panels. Passing through the organism were scores of human bodies on a conveyer belt. The whole operation was being monitored by technicians in a small isolation area jutting out the side of the dome, as workers milled about the rest of the building with heavy weaponry. Suddenly, Garibaldi could feel darkness closing in around him, self-pity and fear building in his head. It subsided somewhat when he remembered what Sinclair said about trusting him; he gathered enough courage to get out of the vehicle and unload the boxes, one of which had contained something he wanted, something with which to cause a diversion later.
He walked closer to the dome and looked inside. The bodies on the conveyer belt appeared to have energy fields surrounding their heads. It was clearly some kind of medical experiment, but Garibaldi couldn’t figure out what it was for.
His pause at the dome gave him away, or perhaps one of the telepaths happened to read his thoughts. Whatever the cause, a large group of people started heading his way. Luckily, he was carrying the box he wanted — it was full of grenades. He tossed one into the crowd, but quickly found himself
pinned down. Sinclair came to the rescue, bursting through a stack of boxes with the vehicle and confusing the situation long enough for Garibaldi to climb aboard. As the vehicle raced out of the building, Garibaldi tossed out the entire box of grenades; the resulting explosion ripped the roof off the building. They were pursued, but not for long. Whatever was inside the building, Garibaldi guessed, the telepaths wanted very badly to try to save.
As Garibaldi finishes his story, he and Keffer are discovered by two Centauri sentries, who lead them at gunpoint into the city. Later, the city magistrate tells them that his investigators found no trace of a crashed ship, or a fight in a clearing, as Garibaldi and Keffer described. But he remembers that Babylon 5 is where Londo Mollari — the man responsible, Garibaldi learns, for saving Quadrant 37 from the Narn — is stationed. He says he’ll call Londo and try to verify Garibaldi’s story.
Back on Babylon 5, Vir answers the call and tries to cover for Garibaldi and Keffer, but the magistrate insists on talking to Londo. Londo also covers for Garibaldi, but clearly isn’t happy about it. He tells the magistrate to arrange for their transport back to Babylon 5. The problem resolved, he goes back to what he was doing: discussing something with Morden.
Garibaldi tells Sheridan what happened and explains that he thinks the erasure of his crashed ship links it to what he and Sinclair found on Mars. After they had escaped the telepaths, Garibaldi says, and gotten out of range of the comm jamming, they’d returned to the area with an Earthforce shuttle and found no trace of ships, explosions, buildings, or anything. Earthforce conducted a thorough search, but it was Sinclair and Garibaldi who found the one piece of evidence at the site. It wasn’t enough to convince anyone, though, so they kept it to themselves.
“The alien ship we saw on Mars looks exactly like the ship Keffer saw in hyperspace when he helped rescue the Cortez,” Garibaldi says. “Something’s out there, Captain, something big and dangerous. And it doesn’t want us to know it’s out there. And Londo’s involved. I don’t know how, but I intend to find out.” Sheridan believes Garibaldi, but for appearance’s sake has to give him an official reprimand.
Keffer and Garibaldi talk about the outcome of their adventure. Keffer wonders if anyone survived the explosions on Mars. Garibaldi isn’t sure; it’s hard to see how anyone could have. Sooner or later, though, he’s going to find out who owns the item he found on Mars: a Psi-Corps badge.
• When Garibaldi and Sinclair were on Mars, they discovered a secret operation involving Psi-Corps and the Shadows, part of which was a medical experiment of some kind. They destroyed the operation, which was erased without a trace, presumably by the Shadows.
• Londo’s involvement in clearing up the Narn problem in Quadrant 37 (cf. “Chrysalis”) is widely known among the Centauri.
• Talia Winters survived the explosion on Mars, and may have been one of the experimental subjects. (This is shown on the last page of the comic, and is probably a spoiler for the episode “Divided Loyalties.”)
• What was the organism?
• Who built or grew it? The Shadows likely had some input, but was it simply a gift from them?
• Was it destroyed in the explosion?
• What was the purpose of the Mars operation? Why were weapons being warehoused?
• What were the two Shadow ships doing on Mars?
• What is the connection between the Shadows and Psi-Corps?
• Was Talia one of the people under the dome? (Garibaldi sees a blonde woman on the conveyer belt, but it’s not clear if that’s Talia or someone else.) If so, what was done to her?
• This issue provides pretty compelling evidence that the Shadows were back in operation long before the Icarus stumbled across them (cf. “In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum.”)
• It seems odd that the Shadow ship in the air just stood by and let Garibaldi and Sinclair escape unharmed. Perhaps it was simply there to perform an excavation mission and didn’t care what else was going on.
• Garibaldi is quite a storehouse of knowledge about what’s going on: he knows about Londo’s connection with Quadrant 37, knows about the Shadow connection to Psi-Corps (for that matter, knows about the Shadows, even if at the time of the story he doesn’t know exactly what they are) and, possibly, knows that Talia was involved in a Psi-Corps experiment. Whether, and how, all this will surface on the show remains to be seen.
• Assuming the Shadows were involved in the construction of the organism under the dome, this is also compelling evidence that they have mastered the creation of living technology. What’s less clear is how much of that expertise Psi-Corps now has as well.
• Could the fact that Talia was involved in the Mars operation have something to do with why Kosh was interested in her in “Deathwalker?”
Likewise, did Jason Ironheart (“Mind War”) realize what was going on with her, and did he do anything to change the situation when he altered her abilities?
• On page 12, to the left of the dome, an indistinct shape can be seen standing by the wall. From its outline, it’s obviously a Shadow.
- Did you tell the artist what the organism under the dome should
I didn’t get too much into that one shot in the comic; it seemed
reasonable under the circumstances. The one panel where I *did* get
screwed was saying, “Hey, look, this here episode’s going to air just
before the book comes out, so why don’t we REALLY tie the book and the
show together by inserting this one panel I came up with here….”
Sometimes I outsmart myself…..
- Didn’t Garibaldi see Talia? Why didn’t he recognize her later?
Nope, he was looking at the process overall; he never saw Talia. The
one shot of her is the omniscient POV, not his. (And even if he had
seen her, it would’ve been only a glimpse of a blonde woman, no name
that he could see, and after so many years, given that her condition
wasn’t great at the time, he wouldn’t necessarily recognize her in any
event.) But it’s a moot point; the comic never indicated that he saw
- “…picture of Talia on conveyer with red net over her face.”
C’mon…you’re saying anybody’d be able to recognize a flash image of
a woman with a red net over her face as much as 7 years later…?
- As I recall, the Winters, T badge was only visible in the next to last
panel, which is a narrative flashback, not him personally.
- Does Talia remember being on Mars?
I think that non-memory of the event is a good assumption.