Story Hour: Beyond Babylon 5


Episode 2.04: The Prooving Ground.
February 2nd 2259.

Guest Stars:

Russell Crowe as Michael Haversham.
Joss Ackland as Eldrin.

Barely time to relax and unpack, when Haversham is calling them. Seems that ASI has planned a small educational training course for them, since they will be acting as operatives for the company. A Markab transport will be arriving in a couple days to take them to the facility on Tiree, a world within Markab space. They are not so sure about this but since they feel the need to continue their investigation into ASI they agree to go.

They are the only passengers on the transport when it arrives and due to Markab religious law are not allowed to wander the shop, but to stay in their cabins. The two Minbari use this time to meditate and prepare for what is to come. A couple days out and the screen in their cabin flicks on and shows the beginnings of a Centauri training video, which cuts off after less than a minute. A Markab engineer arrives shortly and apologises for the interruption, and proceeds to "fix" the screen. Once he's gone, Rathenn hooks his portable computer to the screen and runs its directories. He finds a number of training and orientation videos dating back over a century - mainly Centauri.

The day before they arrive at Tiree there is a problem. It seems that one of the crew has come down with a flu like symptom and it has the others worried. Rathenn offers to help but the crew refuse and say that everything is ok, the ill crewman just needs a few days rest.

Once in orbit of Tiree they are met by one of the trainers who has flown up to pick them up. The facility is located out of the way several miles from the nearest settlement so as not to disturb the training. He parks the shuttle at a small town and takes a skimmer up into the hills where they reach a large cabin like building and meet the others. There are three markab trainers and a handful of others trainees (two human, two drazi and two abbai).

Their days are taken up with exercises and courses on a variety of subjects. For the first few days this is what makes up their time on Tiree. Then they notice one of the Markab has developed a cold... coincidence? The two drazi start pointing out others, mainly our two heroes, and saying "shuggi." Then comes the first major exercise. The group is split into three teams of three and two (Rathenn and Keeno, being more experienced are together). They are taken out to different points in the surrounding woods and told that they must hold their base against the others but the winning team takes control of one of the other bases. They are given supplies and a pair of dedicated two-way radios. Rather than jump straight in, Keeno and Rathenn debate the course of action. Rathenn rewires the radio so that they can listen in on the other conversations. They overhear the other two teams planning to meet up in the middle of the woods and work together to take the Minbari base. Not having that, the two Minbari race through the woods while the other teams meet up and they take both bases! The Markab, who had been watching through hidden camera's call it a win for Keeno and Rathenn. Not quite what they expected but they are happy with the result. The Drazi are far from happy.

The second training exercise is the use of networked pilot simulation pods. One team fly simulated Starfuries against a station operated by team 2. The objective being to plant a bomb on the station and detonate it. Team 1 pass this exercise with flying colours by waiting for a incoming transport and attaching the bomb to that. They fire a few shots to make it look like they are attacking but wait until the transport docks and then blowing the bomb. Once again, the drazi on team 2 are less than pleased.

They are then given the rest of the day off. While walking in the woods, Keeno spots recent tracks that looks like someone is watching the camp. They pin a note enquiring who the person is and if they are after them, to a tree and head away for dinner. When they come back, the note has been replaced with one that says "not you." Puzzled they decide to keep an eye on the woods. Later that day, the Markab with the cold is confined to the infirmary.

The next day the exercise is to survive a descent from the cold hills above the camp in quickest time possible. They are split into two teams and dropped off and different points, equal distance from the camp, with cold weather gear and supplies. The team is made up of Keeno, Rathenn and the two humans.
As they follow the path, Keeno realises that they are being followed paralell along the path, but he cannot see anyone. Rathenn can sense someone there but cannot pinpoint. When he hears the sound of a PPG being readied right next to one of his human companions, Kenno lashes out with his fighting pole and strikes an invisible assailant but not before the man is taken down by a shot to the head. He gives chase and with Rathenn helping by trying to pinpoint with his telepathy, is able to catch up and take the "individual" down. Unconcious they search the shape and turn off a chameleon-suit, which they then strip from the human wearing it and keep it. Rathenn scans his mind and learns that he is a hired killer sent after one of the two humans on the course, supposedly for being involved with the assassination of the EA president.
They take both bodies back (the drazi team beat them back to base) and explain that this man killed the other. The drazi are up for killing him but cooler heads prevail. Rathenn interrogates him further but is soon convinved that he had a job to do and nothing else. He reaches in and alters the man's memories to forgot the capture and interrogation. He makes him think he fell down a cliff and knocked himself out. His job done. They they dump him in the woods at the base of a short fall and leave him.

The next morning one of the markab is dead, and the others feeling unwell. Just in case they teach all the participants a phrase that all those who complete the course learn in order to recognise future allies. By the end of the day the two remaining Markab are dead as well. Keeno takes a blood sample and Rathenn leads everyone back to town and suggests that they return home, while they inform the markab authorities.

Back in the woods, the assassin awakes and looks up into the face of a ashen-faced Minbari (who we last saw on Tantalus months ago). "Idiot!" the minbari says, and shoots the assassin.