jump closer," he said.
"Risky, Mr. Garibaldi."
"Not as risky as letting them find whatever is down there while we cruise in at sub-light speeds. Jump again."
This time it was the discernible disk of a planet that greeted them as the black-and-white of real space replaced the red nightmare of what lay under it.
Garibaldi crinkled his brow at the sight of the planet. Like most habitable worlds, what he saw was mostly white. The poles were huge, and equatorial regions were quilted in clouds - ribbons and veils, swirls and checkerboards. Glimpses of topaz oceans came through near the equator, and the yellow brown of arid regions. He saw very little green.
"Well?" he asked, impatiently. "What have we got?"
"Earth-like," Firth said. "Larger, but with fewer heavy elements, so about the same mass. Sir, it's been banged up. A lot, and recently."
"There are two large continents. Both of them have been bombed to bedrock, in some places. There's still dust in the air - that planet seems to be in the grips of a nuclear winter. No signs of energy or industrial production. Not on this side, anyway."
"Any ships around?"
"Not yet. There is a moon - small, with a few metal structures." She looked up excitedly. "There's a jumpgate, sir. Or what's left of one!"
"Unknown, but it looks more like a Vorlon gate than anything else."
Garibaldi turned. Lyta had just come on the bridge.
"Can you feel them, Lyta? Are they out there?"
"I've been trying. There is - something - on the planet. It might be Bester's people, it might not. I really can't tell."
"Sir! Firth shouted. "I've got a profile! Cyclops class cruiser. That's got to be them, sir!"
"Hot damn. Let's go light some candles."
But what they