Something Human eyes were never meant to see.
The Starfury pilots sat there, confused and uncertain. This was unquestionably a first contact scenario, and it was hardly considered good form to greet a first contact by opening fire on it... especially when they hadn't been fired upon first. The last time that had happened, the Minbari had almost annihilated the entire Human race.
And the fact was that this ... this whatever-it-was had not yet launched an assault against the Starfuries or Babylon 5.
Then the first ship came through, and a second emerged moments after the first. They took up defensive positions in front of the gate, opposite each other. Marlette stared in horrified fascination, the way that he had as a kid when he'd come upon a dead cat, with insect life crawling in its guts.
And it was at that moment that Marlette came to a conclusion. Not only was this a jumpgate, but it was a jumpgate that opened straight to hell.
A third ship emerged, far less tentatively than the first two, and then a fourth. They ringed the artifact, and then energy beams crisscrossed in front of them. These were thin, gossamer beams, like spider webs, and they enveloped the artifact in a protective cocoon.
Screw first contact. These things were evil, monstrous ... it was as if a deep-seated racial memory was screaming, informing Marlette of the true nature of what they were facing. Whatever the enemy was, it was trying to protect the artifact...
The artifact. That was the key. His orders were to destroy, or at least disable, the artifact, and the fact that ships were now coming through it hadn't altered the status of his orders.
"What the hell is that?" Thomas's voice came from Delta 9. "Some kind of field?"
Marlette said, "Doesn't matter. We've got a job