Battle of the Light Brigade

by Mistress Sarah

Disclaimer: These are not my characters. They are owned, copyrighted and created by far wiser people than me. I have attempted to bring them back to life for a short time, attempting to ease that gaping hole in my heart where B5/Crusade once was.
Note: Series is NC-17. m/f, m/m.
Archiving: SW and the WWOMB archive

Matthew Gideon I.

Time to get out of bed.

"Come on Matthew, there's an universe to save, and it's not even your own!"

What the hell is my conscience thinking? Is he NUTS? I don't want to play solider today! No, how about I stay in bed, enjoying how snug and warm I was? Besides, that other Matthew guy was going to get all the credit for me risking my ass. He'd probably get a promotion!

I tried to ignore that small sense of unease that occasionally grew into a full blown screaming match. There's an imposter on your ship pretending to be you!

Nope, I'm going to stay in bed. There's nothing I can do about the Excalibur's problem from here, so I have to try and stay focused here. I need more sleep, that's what I need.

That decided, I covered my head with my blanket. Got to love this alternate universe for one simple reason, it appears that senior officers are given nice, large king...hell, Centaurian Emperor sized beds.

"'ello. This is your conscience speaking. Remember SINCLAIR? Remember someone was implanted with something to make sure you behaved? In case you forgot what he looks like, he's sleeping right next to you..."

Oh, you're back. I thought you were still getting laid.

Embarrassed silence.

Oh, looks like Mr. Puppy Hater just shut his conscience up.

"Well... if you don't get out of bed, you may find yourself the owner of a puppy, Mr. I-ain't-gonna-sleep-with-no-Avatar."

That's supposed to strike terror in my heart, disturb my sleep, and make me look old and haggard like Eddie does? You gotta try a bit harder there.

"A puppy that hasn't been housebroken, and well, to be honest, doesn't really like you because you were mean to her Master. She missed all the kiss and make up routine that you two practiced all night long. It was probably a good thing too, as she probably would have thought that you were attacking her Master so she would have nipped you in a spot that you hold near and dear to your heart. I can just see you telling the Sarah of this universe how you got teeth marks on your..."

You're cruel, do you know that?

"Well, Sarah... the reason I have the teeth marks..."

Really, really cruel.

"Well I didn't want to be your conscience. I wanted to be our Sarah's but she's such a moral person that they figured that I should be given to you, since you're such a hard case. They figured I'd have to do drastic things... oh... is that the sound of a puppy chewing on your leather boots?"

OK! I'm OUT of bed! See? Both feet on the floor!

"Good boy!"

Sitting up, my feet firmly on the floor, I again realized how dangerous it was to be living in this universe.

Galen! Things are getting dangerous here, and I hope that you'll find some way to get this Camel back through the eye of the needle. I need to get home. I need to get back to the beginning, wherever THAT is.

JT stirred next to me, and his face suddenly brightened like a supernova when he saw me.

"Morning... Matthew," his voice sounded rough and he gave me a slight half smile.

"Morning, slugger." I kissed him on his forehead, which caused him to break out into a huge grin.

"Oh dear, I think someone's Avatar has a bit of a crush on his Captain-Master."

Shut UP!

"Can't make me, nananananaaaaa..."

I ignored my conscience, who seemed to have gotten out of the wrong side of the bed this morning.


Pardon me, did someone say something? Two can play at that game.


"You need to rest after yesterday, so you'll stay here in bed to recoup. We can't leave the puppy alone, now can we?" I spoke to JT using my softest tone of voice so as not to frighten the badly abused man.

"No. Being alone... bad."

"No. It's not, for Avatars or for anyone else. Now I've got to get to work, and you need to keep an eye on the puppy. See if you can get her housebroken by the time I get back." Giving him a wide smile, I was glad to see that JT smiled back.

"Yeah! Right! Not in this universe or any other!"

I ignored my conscience as I thought about my Avatar. JT seemed to have difficulty in stringing a few words together. He never spoke a complete sentence easily, but instead he took a few rest stops along the way. It wasn't because JT was unintelligent, but I think my alter had so savagely crushed JT's spirit, that JT never felt comfortable talking for fear of ridicule. Or maybe, JT wasn't allowed to talk?

Ed Ryan – General of the Rag Tag Earth Alliance Fleet currently stationed at Babylon 5.

Where the hell was Morrison? He hadn't answered his page, his com system was off line in his quarters and I was really getting annoyed. I needed to have my Executive Officer nearby.

"He still hasn't answered?" I growled.

Lyta-Avatar shook her head.

"If he's not answering because he's getting laid, I'm going to cut his balls off and use them for paperweights."

Yeah. I'd need a few dozen people to help me, probably, but I swear to every God, Goddess and all the ones in between in the Centauri's Pantheon that Morrison got more and more eccentric as he got older.

I felt a twinge in my left shoulder, and I rubbed it until it faded. I was getting old, too old to deal with this, and meanwhile my damned Executive Officer, who was older than I was, appeared to be able to get laid every single time he so much as smiled at someone. Bad enough, he looked years, DECADES even, younger than I did, but sometimes... sometimes... I wondered if I had made a bad career decision years ago.

I stopped by Matthew Gideon's quarters first, to make sure that he was attending our meeting. Even with his Avatar induced surety, I still didn't trust that he wouldn't try to do whatever he could to get out of this mess, because I knew I'd be trying for escape if I were in his shoes.

"Morning, Matthew."

He nodded.

Ah, he was still annoyed about last night, but apparently his universe was less demanding than this one.

Matthew Gideon I

Ed escorted me to the meeting, and Randy met us half way. He looked like hell, with assorted abrasions and contusions visible on his face.

"What happened to you? Rough night last night?" Ed asked.

"Nothing," the Assassin answered in a tone that said he didn't want to talk about it.

"The girl from the Victory...wasn't... appreciative of your efforts?" Ed questioned.

For some reason, I think the real question was hidden beneath a veil of double meanings, as Ed wanted to know more than if Randy got lucky last night.

"It is a Guild Matter. When you need the information, it will be given, but not before," Randy answered. "But I see Matthew had a rough night last night. Did the puppy keep you awake?"

"Not really. His owner, on the other hand, had me rocking and rolling all night long."

Great. You're back. I have a great idea, when I finally get out of this mess, you stay behind, and you become the conscience of this universe's Matthew Gideon.

"Can't get rid of me that easily. Don't forget! Puppy treats on the way home from the meeting! And I think that Randy would like a chance to play with the dog, too."


"Lots of puppy treats! Maybe a hot water bottle, a clock so the puppy can hear the ticking and think it's a heartbeat, a bed and..."


"No, the damn thing slept the entire night through, without so much as a whimper."

Matthew Gideon II.

The jig was up. I had Galen and General Ed Ryan promising a visit within the next few days.

I thought for a bit, and I decided that I had only one possible option.


Using the security guards who had joined my cult of personality, I rounded up Sarah, Max and John Matheson. The three of them were heavily drugged and shuffled through the deserted hallways like they were zombies.

"Put them in storage area #B-12 that we've just emptied. Make sure they have food and water for the next month in there. Give them a few blankets and mattresses. When that's done, fuse the door shut. We're in crisis mode right now, so we've got to run silent. I can't have them spreading their sickness to the rest of the crew, not now. We've got a high priority mission."

That done, I announced to the ship that we were on a mission that took priority over everything. We had to run silent, and we would be at battle stations for the entire trip. Then I ordered the helm officer to open a jump gate.

Matthew Gideon I.

Interesting. Randy sat in the middle of the round table, facing his Commanding Officer. I sat on Randy's right side, next to Sinclair, and I watched as the Starship Captains came into the room. There were a lot of Executive officers, too, and I quickly noticed something.

The room was split.

Leonard Anderson nodded a hello, and he sat on Randy's left side. Max sat next to him, and so did a few others. Very few Captains and Executive Officers of the same vessel sat next to each other... or even on the same side of the table.

The room was split only slightly in favor of Ryan, while the majority of the Commanding Officers were sitting on Anderson's side.

Ed began detailing what the Minbari's military response was, and I had a sinking feeling in my gut when I finally realized what killing Dukhat had caused. I should have warned Ed that killing Dukhat wasn't the greatest idea. The Minbari would be furious when he died, and they'd want revenge.

The Minbari had a planet killer.

And they were heading toward Earth.

The debriefing was fast and furious, with a minimum of questions raised. It was going to be one hell of a firefight, but we might be able to save Earth. What the hell have I gotten myself into? We're going to be massacred! That fleet outguns us.

One of Anderson's flunkies then asked if perhaps we should write off Earth. "We might be able to get more of the fleet together, if we let them destroy Earth. Then we can ambush them later."

"Not an option. There are over ten billion people on Earth, but more people sprinkled through Earth's solar system. We got to make the effort to save them."

Anderson didn't say a single thing in the debriefing, and when it was dismissed Ryan and Anderson both stared at each other. Lennie was the first one to look away, and Ed shook his head. Ryan then went up to him, and said something softly. Was it ... "Do what you have to, Anderson, you know that I'll never hold it against you"?

Lennie walked away from the older man, and Ed sighed. He looked at the three of us who still remained in the room, and he began rubbing his left shoulder.

"Soon. It will be soon, Randy. The dogs are circling, and I'm too weary to fight them off."

Jeff Sinclair was at a loss for what to say, and so was I. Randy, the irritating, pain inducing, puppy producing Assassin, appeared to be waiting for Ed to say that, for he answered quickly.

"You will be avenged. Thoroughly. The Assassins on the ships have been given their instructions. We will ensure that Anderson and his cronies die."

"I don't want to be avenged. I just want the split in the military to stop. I want Terrans to be free. I... want to be free." Ed sank into a chair, and he placed his head on the table. "I... want... to... go... home."

Randy quickly went to his General, and he motioned for us to leave. "He is exhausted. Go now."

Sinclair and I left the room quickly then I said goodbye to Sinclair. After all, I had to get some puppy treats for the damned furball.

Ed Ryan

Lyta was waiting for the two of us when we returned to my quarters. I went to my bedroom where I stripped out of my clothes, and I crawled onto the bed. Randy straddled me quickly, and soon he was massaging my shoulders and my neck with his curiously gentle hands.

"Master..." His voice was oddly soft. "I can now tell you what the Guild has planned for the last several centuries."

I tightened up, which caused my mother hen to berate me. I could just imagine what the Assassin Guild has been planning.

Death! Mayhem! Chaos! Despair! Universal Terror!

"Now I must undo all this tension again."

Again his hands continued to relax my tense muscles, and he worked especially hard on my shoulders.

"The Guild has been trying to separate themselves from the Guides. They insist on our members being tagged and coded for their protection, but we have managed to produce Assassins who were not identified. Instead, they were classified as unsuitable to be trained, and placed in normal society. A very high percentage of these untrainables ended up in the military. In fact, there are six on the Alexander right now. "

"Also, we have been helping... Telepaths who are on the run."

I tightened up again, and Randy sighed.

"Must I give you a muscle relaxant to tell this story? We have hidden numerous Telepaths in our ranks, allowing them the sanctity of the Guild for protection. All we have requested is their genetic DNA structures so we can insert the Telepathic gene code into our genotype. There are numerous Assassins who are also Telepathic."

"So what you did to Lyta was... unnecessary?" My tone was sharper than I would have liked it to have been, but Randy didn't appear to notice.

Lyta whimpered slightly, as though remembering all those months of emotional pain and anguish she had been subjected to while she had carried Randy's child. Randy stopped massaging my shoulders for just a moment to console the Avatar. Another change in Randy that needed to be documented and cataloged. Compassion from an Assassin to an Avatar after a spur-of-the-moment gift to the Excalibur's Avatar. It appeared that Randy's conditioning had not been as successful as the Guides had believed, as the minute cracks were spreading and widening, causing the true personality behind the Assassin to appear more and more.

The Guides must have been cruel to my Assassin to be able to break him and mold him, and unexpectedly, I finally realized what the Guild's plan with Randy was. How could I not see it? Their insistance that he bond to me as his master. As an outsider, a stranger to the Guild, Randy's training had been particularly intense, as the Guild had insisted on reconditioning him. What they had done to him was documented in his personnel records, and I had nightmares after reading it for the first time.

Electroshock therapy, repression techniques, pain-pleasure feedback loops....What if the Guild had managed to fracture the Guide's conditioning? Or perhaps, my wife Maggie had helped break Randy's conditioning, just by being Maggie. Not completely, but just enough so that a few human emotions had been allowed to develop behind the façade of a killing machine. Loyalty to his superior officer, a friendship formed...

For a moment, I was glad that I was going to die soon, as I wondered what the Guild would do to break free from their servitude. Their revolt would be ugly and brutal, as Randy's sanity would be splintered from his external and internal stresses. I tensed up again, which caused Randy to sigh.

"It was necessary, as we were unable to recruit Telepaths of sufficient strength to be able to fool the Inquisitors. Galen has underestimated her powers for years, as she hides it from him. We hoped that the child produced would be able to do the same. We were quite correct, and she almost managed to fool all of us into thinking she was a Telepathic-Mute. She would have succeeded except for the fact that her milk-father, Tyree, was telepathic, and sensed the power that she was hiding."

"The girl from the Victory..." I asked.

"She's here. I knew she was. I felt her mind. Felt her soul," whispered Lyta. "She is full of rage."

Randy ignored Lyta's dire warnings, and answered my question. "Is stronger than her mother, but as controlled as her father. She is very, very dangerous, and she will be instrumental in freeing my people from our chains. She has been trained by the very best of the Grand Council, Tyree and Nikolai."

Randy continued to massage me, focusing on my back, when Lyta moved next to me on the bed. She touched me on my face with her hand, and she gave me a bright smile that was diminished by the tears in her eyes.

"Ed, wear your body armor tomorrow. Please. I'm afraid for you."

She had never called me Ed in all our years together, and I marveled.

"No. I won't. It's going to happen, and I'm almost looking forward to it. I'm so tired, Lyta. Forgive me? For not being able to do more for you and Randy?" In the last days of my life, I knew I needed forgiveness from both of these people, who I never could completely understand. I had been unsuccessful in bridging the gap between Free Terran, Avatar and Assassin, but I had tried so hard.

Randy stopped massaging me, and he was resting in the bed on my other side. They both began kissing me, and I allowed the two of them to seduce a very tired, old man.

Matthew Gideon I.

I had bought assorted canine toys and puppy products, deciding that it would be more than OK to utilize the other Matthew Gideon's credit. Then I went shopping for JT, as we had another day before we left Babylon 5. He didn't have much in the way of clothes, so I bought him a couple of shirts, and various other sundries.

We were trying to pull in as much as the fleet as we could before debarking for Earth's solar system, so Ed had decided that it would be better to wait another day before leaving. I also knew that the Babylon 5 armory was going crazy, trying to install as much heavy powered weaponry as they could before D-Day. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out what to do with Eilerson. He had declared himself as one of Anderson's followers in that staff meeting, and every time I took a breath, I felt a knife at my throat.

Thank God, he's not as smart as my Max, because he'd never be that blatantly obvious. No, my Max would have smiled and sat right next to me. DEAR GOD! I'm CALLING him... MY MAX!!!

That droll thought made me wonder about my personnel. John, Sarah, Dureena... Returning to my quarters, I caught sight of JT playing with his dog. He immediately stopped when he noticed I was watching, so I assured him that it was OK to continue playing. I gave him the dog toys I had bought, and I laughed mentally, trying to figure out who was happier with the toys, the dog or JT.

I've got to get you out of here. I do.

"We've got to return to the Excalibur tomorrow, so we need to figure out where we're going to hide her. Have you named her yet?"

JT shook his head. I resisted the urge to pat him on his head, and I smiled instead. "You should think about it. You should. We're pulling out tomorrow. This is what's happening..."

For a moment, I thought strongly of John Matheson, for JT gave me the same intense look that John always did when I started talking tactics. He'd just focus on what I was discussing, completely, to the exclusion of everything else.

JT wanted to show me his physical appreciation for the gifts I had gotten him, and I finally had put my foot down. I wasn't going to fly him again, no matter how hard he tried, and no matter how plaintively he looked at me. I eventually ordered him to get to sleep, warning him that the two of us had a really big day tomorrow.

Last night was a big mistake and I'm not repeating it. No matter how alone I was feeling, I shouldn't have flown you. Just because I tried my hardest to be gentle with you doesn't make up for that fact.

I was dozing off to sleep, when there was a flare of light.

"Galen?" I whispered.


"Things are getting really intense here. I'm in the midst of a war, and there's a fire-fight on the horizon tomorrow, which I just don't think I'll survive. There are four people here who know that I'm not their Matthew Gideon. One of them is going to be assassinated shortly, and after he's dead... I don't know who I'll be able to trust."

Hell. I didn't want to trust Ed, except for the fact I had no choice.

"I'm working on it."

"Work harder, damn it. How are things in my Universe? Have you taken care of the problem? How's John? Sarah? Max?"

"There appears to be a spatial tear where you were lost. Do your last known coordinates in our universe match where their Gideon was lost? As for your second question, I am still working on a solution to take care of our problem child."

"Inquisitor Galen?"

That wasn't my voice, and the image of Galen seemed amused.

"Did we wake you? Matthew does have a tendency to make a lot of noise. It's a habit of his that I've tried to break."

"Hard to sleep. Bright lights. Voices." JT murmured, as he curled closer to me, as though hoping I'd protect him. He positioned his head so that Galen couldn't see him talking to me.

"It's not who you think it is. It's not that Galen," I assured him.

"No. Won't help you. Hates you." JT began to shiver in fear, and moved still closer to me.

Galen had acute hearing, and he rapidly performed mental arithmetic to correctly add up the situation. "No, I'm not that Galen, as I've made an entire career out of rescuing Matthew. Matthew, don't you think it's rather rude not to introduce me?"

"It's all right, JT. I'm not going to let anyone hurt you. I'd like to introduce you to Galen. Come on, he's not going to hurt you."

I rolled onto my back, and I watched in amusement as the illuminated miniature Galen proceeded to walk over me to peer at JT. My Avatar was not too thrilled with meeting Galen, but I was holding onto one of his hands, stroking it with my thumb, trying to reassure him.

"Galen. This is JT. He's the Excalibur's Avatar."

"Pleasure to meet you." Galen nodded his head in acknowledgement.

JT mumbled something that didn't sound like he was that thrilled to meet Galen, but fortunately Galen didn't hear, or else he chose to ignore it. Galen whispered something, and suddenly JT was sleeping.

"Wasn't sure that would work. We need to talk, Matthew, after I examine him. What is he?"

"Telepath fused with the Excalibur, which is a sentient life form." God. I couldn't believe I was saying that sentence so easily.

"Are they one mind?"

"I'm not sure. They're separate entities, but sometimes, they fuse together into one personality. I've seen it, when we were in battle, and they just merged completely."

"I don't know if it's going to be possible to take him with you. Your stray might have to stay behind. It might be biologically impossible to separate the two. What happens when an Avatar dies?"

I didn't want to answer that particular question, as it would confirm the strength of the link between Avatar and Vessel. Regretfully, I told Galen the truth. "The ship is put down."

Actually, they usually had the other Ships kill it, in a bloody display of survival of the fittest.

"What happens to an Avatar if their Ship is mortally wounded?"

"They usually kill the Avatar. It's considered a kindness, as the Avatars are usually... unstable...after the death of their Ship."

"He's completely fused with the implants. There is no way to separate the man and the implants. It would be cold-blooded murder to try and split the two apart."

"I can't leave him here, Galen..."

"I understand your feelings in this, but he's not the John Matheson you know. He and John Matheson share the same face, but they are two completely separate individuals. Why is it that you need to save this one man in this universe? Why not my counterpart? Or Sarah's?"

"Because..." I paused, trying to figure out how I wanted to say this. "Every person I have met in this universe has something in common with the people I know in our universe. The difference is that they've been twisted into becoming what they have been, but underneath it all, they are the people I know. This man sleeping next to me, could be John Matheson, would be John Matheson, if he had been in our universe. It's not right what they do to him. They physically and mentally abuse him, because he's different."

"And they don't do that to our John Matheson? He's never had a slur thrown at him by a hostile crowd of ‘normal' humans? He's not being forced to be scanned by Jones just because he's different?"

"Galen. You're right and you're wrong. I don't know how to say it any clearer than that," I said softly.

"I will do my best. I'll be in contact with you but I need to get back to the Excalibur. I think Dureena is in need of assistance."

With a sudden flare of light, Galen disappeared, leaving me alone to my dark thoughts.

Next morning.

I was invited to Ed's quarters for breakfast by Randy-Assassin, who was busy playing with the puppy while I changed. JT was still sleeping, and I found myself wondering what the hell was going on now. Randy had appeared at my door, before I had even gotten out of bed, and then he had ordered me to come have breakfast with Jeff and Ed.

"She's a smart pup," Randy said, making small talk.

"Yes. I never properly thanked you for getting it for him."

Randy laughed. "With a knife, Matthew? Is that how you'd thank me?"

He had taken another ribbon from one of his pockets, and he was tying it in the dog's hair. That was done only after he had brushed the dog until she literally shone.

He was going to turn the dog into a sissy. Real dogs do not wear bows in their hair... FUR!

"Would I do that?" I innocently asked.

"In a heart beat." The Assassin flashed me the innocent smile of a child. "Just a word of advice? For old time's sake, even if you aren't the man with whom I was ship confined?" Randy appeared serious for a moment, and he was giving me an intense look.

"Go ahead, Randy."

"Don't trust your Assassin. She's been given an Overseer, so she's not in complete control of her actions. I know you two are... " The graying Assassin gave me a gesture that was apparently universally obscene. "Don't trust her. She'll knife you if she has any idea that you're not her Matthew. I should congratulate you though."

Randy was giving me a smirk, and I knew that I shouldn't rise to the bait. "Congratulate me, on what?"

"Apparently, you're so good that she's decided not to investigate your rather radical personality change. Just as long as you keep her sexually... sated, she'll probably let you do whatever you want to. Especially to her."

I couldn't help it, my cheeks were flaming and Randy laughed softly.

"Shall we go?" I motioned for him to leave my quarters. "Make sure you leave the puppy behind."

Randy was busy stroking the puppy, and he gave me an evil glare.

"See! Told you that Randy wanted to play with the puppy."


"I wouldn't take it from him. Though perhaps I should, as when the real Matthew shows up again, he'll probably end up killing it. It's the way of the universe, I'm afraid."

Then the Assassin carefully put the dog onto the bed, where she immediately snuggled up to JT. Mentally, I cursed Randy out, but I should not have. After all, he was correct.

First off, there was a delay in breakfast. Jeff Sinclair began offering tea or coffee to Randy and I, and we took him up on his offer. The three of us made small talk for a bit, until finally my curiosity got the better of me.

"Where's Ryan?" I finally asked. It was rather rude for the host to keep us waiting.

"He's... shaving off his mustache." Jeff gave Randy a confused look. "He mumbled something about needing to do that. Can you explain that to me?"

Randy's voice was rather subdued. "His wife hated it. It was a long running argument between them. Nothing serious, of course, but just something on which the two of them agreed to disagree."

Eddie came out soon afterwards, and the three of us decided collectively not to mention the fact that he was clean-shaven. Randy began serving breakfast, and to my surprise, I found it was rather good.

"Let's talk tactics. I just received notification that Galen will be watching our fight from the Victory, rather than the Alexander, who is apparently no longer the flag-ship of the fleet. If... and when," Eddie instructed dryly, while he rubbed his jaw and shoulder, "Something happens to me, Matthew, you're in charge of the Fleet unless I state otherwise. Anderson is going to be annoyed, and you're going to have to watch him carefully. I have no doubt that the moment I'm eliminated is when their rebellion is going to take place. Your objective, Matthew, is to make sure that somehow, some way that Planet Killer is no longer a threat to Earth."

"Agreed." There wasn't really a choice, was there? Could I live with myself if I decided not to help save their Earth? Hah! Who was I kidding? I wouldn't be alive right now if the three men in the room had decided that I wasn't trustworthy.

We ate and discussed numerous strategies, until at last there was nothing really to say.

"Matthew." Ed looked at me intently. "I am sorry that you're involved in this. You probably don't believe me, but I am sorry about the necessity of this."

"Yes. I'm sure you are. Why else would you have used JT as insurance? Couldn't you just have asked me? I might have agreed to this." My tone was acidic, but like hell was I going to play nicey-nice with these men.

"Would you?" Jeff asked. "Honestly."

I thought about the situation for a few minutes, and I nodded my head. "Yes. I probably would have agreed to help you." I can't help my crew, but I could help save this universe's Earth. Perhaps that would be enough.

No. It wouldn't be, but maybe I could quiet my guilty conscience.

Jeff and Ed then looked at each other, and Jeff nodded.

"Go ahead. Tell him." Randy urged.

"Tell me, what?"

"There's nothing in your Avatar. There's a slight scar from the DNA testing on his back, but we didn't implant him. I would be no better than the Guides if I did that," Sinclair commented. "We... bluffed."

"Rather well, I might add." Ed commented, while I did a slow burn.

"You bastards... You bloody, bloody bastards."

"Sirs! You bastards, SIRS!" Ed's voice was sharp, but I could tell him that he was amused.

Jeff laughed, and then Randy joined in. Pretty soon I was chuckling, too.

Ed Ryan


Matthew Gideon had returned to his quarters, and Randy gave me a somber look.

"He's never going to make it out of this universe alive. You know as well as I do that we're completely outgunned, and there's no way we can hope to beat that Minbari armada."

"I know," I answered. "Just another death to add to my conscience."

Randy softly began quoting and I had to laugh again. It was a bitter laugh, but Jeff began reciting the poem also. Soon the three of us were declaiming.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.........

Then, after we finished the poem, we said our goodbyes, knowing full well that the three of us wouldn't meet again on this side of the rim.

{1 And so it Begins} {2 Captain-Master & Executive Officer} {3 Captain-Master & Assassin} {4 Battle Fatigue} {5 Story of an Avatar} {6 Story of a Captain-Master} {7 Interlude} {8 General-Master & Assassin} {9 Babylon 5} {10 Lines are Drawn} {11 Alliances are Made} {12 Seeds of Rebellion} {13 The Storm Breaks} {14 Battle of the Light Brigade} {15 "Theirs but to Do and Die"} {16 "Valley of Death"} {17 "Jaws of Death"} {18 Finale}

{The Main Gate} {HomePage} {Wytches World} {We are Family} {A Little Artistic Licence} {No, we don't mean "A"riadne} {Our Home Is Our Castle} {The Witches' Diary} {Witches Familiars} {The Gateway} {Webrings}