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acknowledged the order, moving the Minbari vessels away from the artifact. He fancied that he heard relief in her voice as well.

The fleet, needing no further urging, distanced itself from the artifact. The alien vessels began to pursue them, perceiving the withdrawal as some sort of massive retreat. The mother ship, for its part, was nearly through the gate that the artifact had created.

And deep within the artifact's core, the monster which had pursued Sheridan in futility returned to oversee the final emergence of the mother ship...

... and noticed, for the first time, the strange-looking device that the annoying little Human had left attached to the wall. A device which, had the creature been able to understand it, was saying, "-five, four, three, two, one..."

Ivanova, with her usual pessimism, was convinced that they weren't yet far enough away.

The explosion erupted within the heart of the device as the thermonuclear bomb went off, and from there the destruction appeared to spread in segments throughout the artifact. Each explosion in turn became more and more intense. The mother ship, caught in the midst of passage, was unable to get away in time. The other alien ships immediately peeled off from their pursuit and darted back toward the mother ship, as if they might be able to provide some sort of assistance.

Or perhaps... and this thought actually amazed Ivanova... perhaps they sensed that the death of the mother ship was irrevocable, inevitable, and they wished to share its fate, as if they were all linked somehow.

As if they were One.

The explosions built and built, each one fueling the next, growing exponentially in power. Ivanova shielded her eyes against the intensity as the artifact erupted in a final, brilliant explosion of light and
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