Being rousted at three in the morning because of a bad dream was unpleasant. Being rousted at three in the morning because there was a problem on station that ought to have already been dealt with by someone else was infuriating. Being rousted out of bed at three in the morning after a double shift by an irately hissing and screaming Narn demanding a meeting of the Babylon 5 Advisory Council was about as close to the seventh circle of hell as Ivanova could imagine. She had put her head down on the pillow for only a matter of seconds before her link had gone off informing her that the Narn Embassador pro tempore had called an emergency session of the Advisory Council. At three in the morning! She wouldn't even be able to cast a vote on behalf of Earth, she was only authorized to abstain so that Sinclair could make the vote when he returned.
Lieutenant Commander Susan Ivanova stared daggers at anyone foolish enough to eye contact with her as she strode to a transport tube. Not stomped, she was sure she was not stomping. The flower deliveryman who jumped out of her way had simply been overreacting. It was three in the fragging morning and her shift would be in just under four hours. The sooner they managed to get Commander Sinclair back on station the better, things seemed had taken a turn for the worse since he'd left. The Embassador's for both the Narn and Mimbari had become indisposed, the Centauri posturing had gotten worse than ever, and the League of Non Aligned Worlds was at each other's throats nearly twenty four seven.
It was all she could do to resist the urge to pull the ridiculous sash off the Brakiri ambassador's waist and choke him to death with it earlier that day when he'd had the audacity to suggest that the layout of Babylon 5 ought to be altered to better allow for the "will of Derchal." Every ambassador seemed to take Sinclair's absence as a sign of weakness and they were spending every waking moment petitioning for the most insufferably insignificant alternations to apartment locations and seating charts. Susan pondered the possibility of simply venting the entire council chambers into space as she entered the lift.
"Please hold the elevator Lieutenant Commander," a small Mimbari in white robes was shuffling quickly along the corridor. It was Lennier, assistant to Delenn and the temporary Mimbari ambassador in her absence. He was a lean and spindly man, with a temperament as pleasant as one could ask for. Susan thumbed the button for the elevator and allowed him to enter the lift.
"Thank you Lieutenant Commander," Lennier smiled brightly and innocently, "I did not get the message for the meeting till moments ago. My link was temporary silenced so as not to interrupt the flow of my prayers."
Ivanova's expression softened. Lennier was understandably troubled by Ambassador Delenn's condition. Delenn was encased in a cocoon.
Dr. Franklin assured her that Mimbari encasing itself in a cocoon was unprecedented in his records, "How is the Ambassador doing?"
"She is in a state of what she is on the way to the state of what she will be," Lennier said smiling sadly, "I pray to Valen twice a day. I believe it eases the process. Delenn told left me a message telling me to 'not worry about the now but to look forwards to what is yet to come."
"Mr. Lennier I'm not even sure I understand what you're talking about," Ivanova looked down at her watch trying to ignore thoughts about her next shift, "When I find out one of the Ambassadors I'm responsible to ensure the safety of has become encased in a cocoon and her assistant is refusing treatment based upon her wishes I'm more confused about the here and now than eager for what comes later.
"Frankly Lieutenant Commander on this we are in agreement," Lennir shrugged, "But understanding is not important only obedience."
The Mimbari sense of duty, it was hard not to respect it. It equally hard to associate the kidly Lennier and the Mimbari's blind obedience to duty that had started the war between their two peoples.
Ten years ago they would have been enemies. Susan would have killed the kind faced Lennier without a second thought and Lennier would have done the same. That was why the Babylon Project was so important. Given the opportunity to live together in peace sentient species tended to prefer co-existence to warfare.
The Earth-Mimbari war, for all its bloodshed, was a war caused by cultural misunderstanding during first contact between the two races. Captain Jankowski had seen the open gun ports of the Mimbari ship pointed at the EAS Prometheus and fired on the ship. It might even have been resolved through negations if someone hadn't bombed the peace summit.
He had no way of knowing that open gun ports was a sign of respect to the Mimbari, no way of knowing the Mimbari ruling body was onboard the ship, and certainly no way of knowing he would kill the religious leader of the Mimbari. Millions had died for what he did not know and because both sides were unwilling to talk. Three in the fragging morning but better three in the fragging morning than not at all. Lost sleep was better than lost lives any day.
The bell chimed and the lift opened onto the wide corridor leading to the Babylon 5 Advisory council chambers. Susan stepped out into the teeming mass of various assorted ambassadors and attendants filing towards the wide double doors to the chamber. All of them seemed to be just as cross about being rousted at this unreasonable hour as Susan was, though some were making more of an effort than others at hiding it. Lennier looked about in innocent curiosity, "Do you know why Na'Toth has called a meeting of the full advisory council at this hour? It is uncommon, even for the Narn."
"No, I can't say I do," Susan looked towards to portly figures with feathered hair wearing purple silk suits with yellow sashes, "but if the Narn government has authorized G'Kar's stand in to speak on behalf of the Narn Government you can bet the Centauri were involved somehow." The Narn would say the sky was green just to spite the Centari. The blood feud between the two peoples had been strong ever since the Centauri occupation of the Narn home world.
"You do not think someone invaded another Narn world do you?" his face scrunched up in distaste at the thought, Lennier abhorred violence, "So soon after they attacked Quadrant 37? Or did the Centauri government claim responsibility for it?"
"I doubt it. The Centauri government was as surprised by it as anyone else," Susan sighed, "As much as the Narn would probably like to go to war it would be too costly for both sides at the moment. "
"I find their respective stubbornness to be confusing," Lennier nodded sagely, "One must be more flexible in their dealings with others."
Susan resisted the urge to roll her eyes, but just barely. The Mimbari were twice as stubborn and rooted in tradition as any other race in the Advisory Council, "I'm sure they'll take it under advisement."
The bustling group filed into their respective seats in the council chambers. The League of Non Alligned Worlds sat in tiered seating opposite a wide table at which sat the five major powers, the Narn, the Centauri, the Mimbari, the Humans, and the Vorlon. Babylon 5 being a human station, a human was expected to sit at the center of the large table. Sinclair had always made being head of the Council seem effortless. Susan always felt small when she sat in the chair and took up the gavel.
She smacked the gravel down twice, "I call the council to order. I believe the Narn representative has a matter they need addressed."
Londo Mollari of House Mollari, ambassador to the Centauri Republic was seated at his chair with the palm of his hand placed squarely in his generous forehead massaging away a well-earned hangover. He glowered at Na'Toth, "I really must protest this entire meeting of the council. I insist upon dealing with the official ambassador to the Narn homeworld and the official ambassador only. If you will not censure this Harridan's presence," he pointed to Na'Thoth, "At least put limits upon the hour at which she can call us to discuss the same arguments for a fifth time. I would prefer my time were wasted during daylight hours."
Na'Toth curled back her lips to show white teeth and hissed, her orange reptilian features were twisted in contempt, "I will not sacrifice the interests of my people, not even so that you can have more time to gamble and womanize Centauri."
"Then at least have the decency to speak your madness quickly so that I might get back to something more important than the ravings of a self important, orange-skinned, spotted madwoman with delusions of greater standing."
Susan slammed down the gavel, "Ambassador Mollari sit down! I will not have this turn into a match of petty schoolyard name-calling," she scowled at Na'Toth's pleased grin, "I hope you didn't call this meeting simply to frustrate the Centauri Ambassador," she paused and twisted the gavel in her hand menacingly, "that would make me testy."
"Of course not Lieutenant Commander," the Narn female's nostrils flared as she snorted indignantly. Her red eyes shone balefully at the plump Centauri across the table, "My government is troubled by the actions of the Centauri."
"I will be glad to give you a properly scornful reply to your baseless and scurrilous allegations," the Centauri Ambassador massaged his temples, no doubt fighting hangover, "Just as soon as the Narn delegate will be so kind as to tell me what in the hell she is talking about. Or is this just another flight of fancy that seems to take them so often?"
"Nothing of the sort," Na'Toth snorted in a dismissive tone, "Serious news has come to my attention that required immediate attention. Any misfortune to the Ambassador's social schedule is purely co-incidental." She emphasized co-incidental smiling cruelly, "It has come to the attention of my government that there has been a first contact situation with a powerful unknown race in the middle of the uncharted space beyond the Drazi border."
The Drazi representative stood up abruptly, ruffling his purple sash. The smooth bony plate on the front of his scull clicked as the folds of scales below it shifted against it, "We have made no such contact! You called a meeting for this? For rumormongering and suspicion? I need not sit here to take these lies."
"I never said it was the Drazi who made the contact!" Na'Toth's understanding of subtle diplomacy left a great deal to be desired.
"Who then," said the Brakiri ambassador, "my government has made no such contact nor has that of the honorable Pak'ma'ra."
"It was a Centauri Primus class warship that made the first contact," Na'Toth looked more pleased than Ivanova had ever seen the woman. Her reptilian skin crinkled at the lips where her face curved into a wide grin, "A Centauri warship sent to spy on it's neighbors."
Londo scoffed and stood up, pacing in front of the League, being careful to make eye contact as he spoke, "Yes we had a ship at the edge of your territory, in uncontested space. As I suspect many of you have ships at the edge of ours at some time or another. The ship was sent to do legitimate research in an area not controlled by any known governments as well as to explore uncharted space."
"Do you often explore with warships along the borders of your neighbors Ambassador," The fin along the Abbai Ambassador's head was twitching with irritation, "Do you 'explore' the space around all of the League worlds or just those of the Drazi?"
"Honored ambassadors," Mollari smiled, "Do not mistake the actions of my government. We only have the best intentions."
"As you did for Narn no doubt," spat out Na'Toth.
Mollari sent a pained look at Susan, "The lies the Narn still feel compelled to tell about our people's relationships."
"Ambassadors!" Susan smacked the gavel down and stood abruptly. Her eyes flashed dangerously at the ambassadors. At the best of times Susan was imposing, on nearly no sleep she was truly impressive, "I will not have you intentionally provoking each other. I will not allow it."
"Of course Lieutenant Commander," Na'Toth brushed the multicolored fabrics of her jerkin, rounded her shoulders an continued, "But some matters require more immediacy than they do tact."
"It is good then that the Great Maker saw fit to gift you with an abundance of promptness rather than tact," Mollari laughed, "You waste my sleep over this trifle. This was no secret I had half a mind to declare a meeting myself at something resembling a reasonable hour."
"Indeed," grumbled the Drazi incredulously. He stood up and walked over to the pacing Centauri. The Drazi ambassador bent over so his face was within inches of Mollari's face. Flecks of spittle hit Mollari's face and coats, "And when did you intend to tell my government that you were conducting first contact with species surrounding Drazi space? We do not like this action Centauri, we do not like it at all."
"We violated no agreements, no territories, no treaties," Mollari raised a finger with each word, held up his hand and waved it in front of the Drazi's face. The Drazi ambassador looked like he would very much like break Mollari's fingers. It wouldn't be an unprecedented act in Drazi diplomatic history, "We have every right to conduct our business as we please provided that we don't break any treaties we have with your people. Outside of that you may yell your displeasure as loud as you like. Yell till you're blue in the face… or whatever color it is you people turn when you yell, but the Empire is under no obligation to listen to you."
Na'Toth chimed in, "I must insist that the Centauri allow for outside observers to oversee their negotiations with this new race. I wouldn't want the Centauri to promise anything imprudent by accident. Perhaps even offer territory that isn't strictly yours to give."
"You may observe them yourself Narn. My government has nothing hide, in fact we intend to meet with them on Babylon 5. Conduct business with them as you will," he smiled widely showing two enlarged canines, "In fact I'll go a step farther. I'll send all races of the Babylon 5 council a copy of our speculations on the long-range communication technologies used by this race," he smiled maliciously, "That should expedite your own efforts to communicate with them. I will send a highly detailed report over the new races speculated method of long communication including a transcript of all tachyon transmissions sent between the two ships."
Lennier smiled widely, "That is most generous of you Ambassador." Most ambassadors, even the Drazi, seemed to be placated by Londo's offer.
"Is that all then?" Susan looked around the room, "Does anyone have any objections to this?"
Na'Toth eyed the Centauri as though trying to figure out the trap in his words. After apparently finding none she sneered and said, "That would be acceptable."
"Fine," Susan rapped the gavel down in the ground, "I call this meeting to an end. I don't know about all of you but I'm looking forwards to getting some sleep in my own bed. Ambassador Mollari I would appreciate a word with you after the meeting finishes. If we're hosting this meet and greet I'm going to need to know more about these people than how to talk to them."
Mollari gave an exaggerated sigh and bowed his head slightly, "If you insist."