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energy field of unbelievable proportions blossomed forth. Within seconds it annihilated everything around it-the forklifts, the Starfuries, the superstructure ... everything.

The object no longer needed a framework of lights to provide illumination. It was generating all the light it needed on its own.

Watching the incandescent display, knowing that something truly terrible had just been unleashed, and seeing it encapsulated in a burst of light, Ivanova was reminded of her own downbeat philosophy. How, in most cases, the light at the end of the tunnel was usually a train bearing down on her.

Susan Ivanova was convinced that she was staring at the biggest locomotive that ever existed in the history, even prehistory, of Mankind. And the tracks had been laid on a direct course-straight through Babylon 5.

Chapter 14

As the artifact glowed, a fiery corona surrounded it. It was like witnessing the birth of a star, and had anyone outside the station survived to witness it, they would have been roundly impressed. Unfortunately, there was literally nothing left of them except free-floating powder, dissipating on the stellar winds even as the intensity of the radiance grew with each passing second.

Within Babylon 5, the lights began to flash and dim, almost in a rhythm. The more fanciful might have come to the conclusion that the artifact had developed a sort of pulse, like that of a living heart, and that heart was now in synchronization with the power sources of the space station itself. There was not a tremendous number of fanciful individuals, however, in the Zocalo. For the most part there were only panicked people who fled that gathering place in panic, even as the emergency lights kicked in.

And once the frightened majority had run off, those who
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