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if given orders that conflicted with the purpose of Babylon 5, remained unclear. He would have to make a choice between loyalty and morality.

Elric considered creating a deceit that would trick John Sheridan into helping them. The mages not only required that John allow them to leave, their best chance of leaving safely would be with the active help of John and his security staff. But for some reason, Elric did not want to deceive the captain. He wanted to believe that John, given the chance, would act for good. Perhaps he simply hoped to convince himself that those billions of beings that the mages were leaving behind would have a good leader to follow, and a chance to survive. The Shadows planted the seeds of division and conflict; countless numbers would die unless the races could be brought together, united against the true enemy.

He would not deceive John. Instead, he would test John with the truth.

Carvin ran up to them, breathless. Her hands twisted anxiously together. "The Tidewell has exploded."

Elric nodded. He should have been relieved that the Shadows had acted as he'd anticipated. But instead he found himself filled with dread. As Ing-Radi questioned Carvin about the details, he told himself there was no reason for his reaction. Yet the explosion somehow seemed a harbinger of greater destruction to come, of an intelligence that could not possibly be manipulated, a power that could not possibly be survived.

It was the emptiness inside him, pushing him again toward despair. He reminded himself that the explosion was part of his plan. He'd been only an hour off in his expectations, believing the Shadows would strike a bit sooner. The Tidewell had just been leaving its last stop before Babylon 5, where it was scheduled to arrive tomorrow. The Shadows
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