Lost, on the run and stranded on a Centauri outpost, Keffer and Garibaldi are overtaken by strange aliens with the power to control
[singlepic=66,200,,,left] Shadows Past and Present: Survival the Hard Way
Issue 7 (August 1995, released June 6)
Setting: Before “The Coming of Shadows”
Writer: Tim DeHaas Premise: J. Michael Straczynski Penciller: John Ridgway Inker: Robbie Busch
Garibaldi and Keffer are walking across a valley, two hours away from the Centauri city they spotted from the summit. Garibaldi reassures Keffer that they got enough of a head-start on the aliens that they should reach the city before their pursuers are able to catch up. As they press forward, Garibaldi continues the story of his first mission with Sinclair.
Sinclair and Garibaldi had taken shelter in a cave to wait out the dust storm. With only five days of air and food, it wasn’t easy to just wait, but at least they were in radio contact with Lt. Sanchez aboard Garibaldi’s shuttle. Sinclair believed the worst of the storm was over.
Garibaldi tired of the conversation between Sinclair and Sanchez and moved closer to the mouth of the cave, where he started drinking. He recalled a previous assignment, as head of security on Io, and the death of his friend Frank Kemmer (cf. episode “Survivors”) — a death Garibaldi felt responsible for.
Garibaldi found himself out on the surface, apparently after wandering off in his stupor. He reactivated his commlink to find Sanchez urgently trying to contact him. Sinclair, it seems, had noticed Garibaldi’s absence, and started to go out looking for him — but the mouth of the cave had collapsed, and Sinclair was pinned down just outside the cave, almost out of air. Sanchez hadn’t heard from Sinclair for five minutes, possibly because he’d blacked out.
Sanchez told Garibaldi that if Sinclair died, it would be on Garibaldi’s head. That struck home; Garibaldi immediately went looking for Sinclair, aided by a flare fired from the ship by Sanchez. Following the flare’s lead, Garibaldi found a collapsed cliffside, and soon came across Sinclair. He was almost too late, but eventually Sinclair regained consciousness after Garibaldi switched air cylinders. As soon as Sinclair came to, he wrestled Garibaldi to the ground and threatened to kill him if Garibaldi ever did something as stupid as wandering off again.
Keffer notes that in fact, Garibaldi’s wandering saved Sinclair’s life; Sinclair would never have survived if he’d been at the back of the cave when it collapsed.
Meanwhile, the aliens — humanoid, fanged creatures with feline eyes — have not only caught up with Garibaldi and Keffer, but overtaken them, and enter a small forest, where they somehow meld with the trees. Keffer and Garibaldi arrive shortly thereafter, and Keffer begins acting paranoid, accusing Garibaldi of keeping them out in the open so they can be picked off by the alien ship. He pulls a gun on Garibaldi and takes Garibaldi’s weapon.
As Garibaldi tries to argue, he feels something try to control him, too, get him angry at Keffer. He ducks out of the way as Keffer fires, manages to zigzag out of the line of fire a couple more times. One of Keffer’s shots hits a tree and sends an alien flying off to the side. That breaks the aliens’ grip, and as they close in to attack, Keffer tosses Garibaldi his gun. The two manage to kill all the aliens, but the creatures self-destruct before the bodies can be examined.
“Did you see those things?” asks Keffer. “They could have torn us apart… but they tried to mind-warp us into killing each other instead.”
“Yeah,” says Garibaldi. “Always work from behind the scenes… leave no traces… leave no witnesses…” If this has anything to do with what he saw on Mars, Garibaldi says, they’re in big trouble.
Because what he saw on Mars, looking on with Sinclair from the top of a canyon, was a large Shadow cruiser, apparently excavating another Shadow ship from beneath the surface — while figures from a nearby building stood
• Both Garibaldi and Sinclair have seen a Shadow ship in action, years before Sinclair took command of Babylon 5.
• Garibaldi saved Sinclair’s life twice on Mars, once inadventently and once out of remorse.
• Why did they try to get Garibaldi and Keffer to kill each other rather than simply attacking from their ship? (see Analysis)
• What else did Garibaldi and Sinclair see on Mars, and what do they know about what they saw? Garibaldi’s comment suggests they may have seen more than just a ship. (see Analysis)
• The creatures’ strategy of pitting Garibaldi and Keffer against each other seems to be consistent with the Shadows’ modus operandi; the Shadows are pitting the Narn and Centauri against each other rather than striking directly. Perhaps their caution and indirection stems from their defeat at the hands of the Minbari and First Ones a thousand years earlier, when they moved too quickly and were perhaps too direct.
• It was already revealed (in “The Long Dark”) that some servants of the Shadows were already on their way back to Z’ha’dum before the Icarus landed there and reawakened the Shadows themselves (cf. episode “In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum.”) But if Sinclair and Garibaldi saw a large Shadow ship before then, it suggests that either some Shadows were awake before the Icarus incident, or that their servants are allowed to pilot their vessels unaccompanied.
If the latter is the case, why didn’t those servants awaken the Shadows before the Icarus’ crew did?
• What was the set of buildings overlooking the Shadow ship’s excavation? We know of one secret installation on Mars — a Psi-Corps training center (cf. episode “A Voice in the Wilderness.”) This could be how Garibaldi knew about the training center, and if true, it suggests a strong link between the Shadows and the Psi-Corps.
• The cover picture is something of a temporal slipup; the young version of Sinclair is fighting with the present-day Garibaldi (judging by the latter’s lack of hair.)
- The comics version shows creatures that are not the shadows themselves but some of the many creatures who serve them.
- Actually, in the comic, you never saw shadows influencing anyone’s mind; you saw their humanoid (in this case) servents doing this.