The Battle of Coriana VI was the final battle of the Second Shadow War and location of departure of all the remaining First Ones, including the Vorlons and Shadows, from the galaxy. It also marked the final beginning of the Third Age of Mankind.
Setting up Armageddon
The Second Shadow War had been escalating for over a week in February 2261. The Vorlons and Shadows, who had up to this time been very reluctant to face each other in pitched battle, began twin campaigns, each meant to eliminate any race that had dealings with the other race. The Army of Light, having suffered heavy casualties over the course of the war, were shocked at the sheer brutality of both the Vorlons and the Shadows.
John Sheridan, the leader of the alliance formed to fight the Shadows, realized that neither race would be satisfied until the followers of the different ideologies of chaos (supported by the Shadows) and order (supported by the Vorlons) were annihilated, and decided to go on the offensive after receiving news of the Vorlon advance against Coriana VI and Centauri Prime, because both worlds supported important Shadow bases.
Realizing he did not have the resources to save both planets (with populations in the billions), he focused his campaign on saving Coriana VI, a low-tech world in its bronze age. Taking the White Star fleet, he hit several Vorlon bases, totally destroying them all. At the same time, he had a group of six White Stars head out towards the Shadow Fleet, and planting on the lead ship information about a base being set up on Coriana VI. This was meant to draw both fleets there, for a final confrontation with these two powers.
Bringing in the two sides to Coriana VI was only phase one of the plan. The second part required that as many ships as could be rallied from the Army of Light would be there, in part to protect the planet, and also to engage the two sides in a bold move. But this would only be successful on the condition of a third part of the plan: using the last of the First Ones that had not left the Galaxy to face off against the two sides.
But, in order to get their support, they needed to find the First Ones. To this task, Marcus Cole, Susan Ivanova and Lorien were assigned. Cole and Ivanova had found one of the five remaining races the previous year, making them ideal for the job, and Lorien was the very first of the first race and if anyone knew where they were hiding, it was him. They were successful in rallying the First Ones to the banner of the Army of Light.
The Battle Commences
Sheridan and his fleet arrived shortly before the Shadows and Vorlons. He positioned the fleet right in the middle of what would become the battlefield, reasoning that if they were to get at each other, they would have to go through him first. But, when the two sides arrived in numbers that vastly outnumbered the Army of Light, they totally ignored the younger races and attacked each other with a vengeance.
Sheridan, refusing to allow the allied fleet to go unnoticed, launched an attack on the Vorlons and the Shadows using mined asteroids within both fleets, which, in Lyta Alexander's words, made them "pissed." As the sheer numbers of the Vorlons and Shadows threatened to overwhelm Sheridan and the Vorlon planet killer got within firing range of Coriana VI, he called in the other First Ones, who arrived to destroy the planet killer and even the score, holding them in check.
"The Vorlons ask only one question over and over: "Who are you?" For you, the question is, "What do you want?" I have never heard you answer that question. Who are YOU? What do YOU want?"
"You don't know, do you? You've been fighting each other so long, you've forgotten. You've lost your way, so how can you guide us? How can we learn who we are and what we want if you don't even know it anymore?"
- – John Sheridan and Delenn
At this time, the Vorlons and Shadows telepathically connected with Delenn and Sheridan through Lyta. The Vorlons chose to engage Sheridan while the Shadows took Delenn. While thus connected, they were entreated by each side to follow its ideology. What neither side knew, however, was that their conversations were being eavesdropped by Lorien, who telepathically shared Sheridan and Delenn's experiences with the entire fleet. Neither Sheridan nor Delenn were intimidated in the slightest as they now knew the truth: neither the Vorlons nor the Shadows wanted to destroy each other. Rather they wanted the younger races to choose one ideology to follow for the next thousand years. Sheridan and Delenn both refused to play this game any longer. Suddenly, a stray asteroid struck White Star 2, breaking Lorien's concentration. The Vorlons and Shadows became aware of Lorien's presence. But Lorien drew their consciousnesses to safety.
Angered by the lack of cooperation and the fact their conversation hadn't been private, the Shadows engulfed the Army of Light in their Death Cloud, shutting down their life support systems and sapping their energy, leaving them with essentially only ten minutes to live. They and the Vorlons once again demanded Sheridan and Delenn choose sides, this time appearing as holograms. Sheridan then turned the Vorlons' and the Shadows' own ideologies against them by asking them respectively "Who are you?" and "What do you want?" Delenn posited that their reason for challenging the younger races is because they couldn't answer the questions themselves. What good are they as mentors if they don't know what they're supposed to be teaching? They challenged that Sheridan and Delenn didn't really speak for everyone. To test this, the Shadows began firing missiles in the cloud at White Star 2. But each time they sent a missile at them, another ship would get in its path, shielding them from destruction. Delenn told them this proved the Army of Light agreed with Sheridan: they did not want to choose either. If they continued, the only thing they would do is wipe out all the younger races, leaving them in solitude and failure. So Sheridan finally told them the younger races are ready to go it alone, and the First Ones were no longer wanted: "Now get the hell out of our galaxy . . . both of you!"
At this point, Lorien stepped in, and concurred with Sheridan's belief that it was time for the younger races to stand on their own. He convinced the Shadows and the Vorlons that it was time to leave the Galaxy, promising them that he would go with them. With that, the Vorlons, the Shadows, and the other remaining First Ones left the Galaxy, and power was restored to the ships of the Army of Light. Lorien informed the younger races that it was their time now and that when the time came, they too should step aside and join him beyond the Rim of the galaxy. He then transformed into his true form - a being of pure energy - and departed.
With the end of the war, the Third Age of Mankind began. Sheridan could focus on retaking Earth from President Clark, and Delenn would find herself having to negotiate her own people through their own civil war. It was shortly after this battle that the idea for the Interstellar Alliance was conceived.
|The following is based on The Agents of Gaming Strategic Game and contradicts canon sources.|
The non-canon sources in the Babylon 5 Wars miniature tabletop wargame sourcebook of Coming of the Shadows gives the following as the strength of the opposing forces:
- Initial = 1 planet-killer, 5 dreadnoughts, 12 heavy carriers, 36 heavy cruisers, 20 light cruisers, 30 battle destroyers, 20 destroyer escorts, 15 light carriers, 10 scouts, 50 transports, and 500 fighters.
- Reinforcements = 2 planet-killers, 2 dreadnoughts, 6 heavy carriers, 24 heavy cruisers, 10 light cruisers, 20 battle destroyers, 10 destroyer escorts, 5 light carriers, and 350 fighters.
- Initial = 8 dreadnoughts, 60 cruisers, 10 carriers, 30 destroyers, 25 scouts, and 1 death cloud (100 missiles)
- Reinforcements = 3 dreadnoughts, 30 cruisers, 6 carriers, 20 destroyers, 15 scouts, and 1 death cloud (100 missiles)
Army of Light
- Minbari = 120 White Stars, 30 Sharlin War Cruisers, and 360 Nial fighters
- Narn = 1 Bin'Tak Dreadnought, 15 G'Quan Heavy Cruisers, and all available Frazi fighters
- Abbai = 12 Lakara Cruisers, 6 Bimith Defenders, 10 Tiraca Attack Frigates, 4 Milani Carriers, 7 Shyaire Jammer Frigates, 4 Skiatha Escort Scouts, and all available Kotha fighters
- Brakiri = 36 Avioki Cruisers, 18 Halik Fighter-Killers, 2 Corumai Dreadnoughts, 4 Tashkat Advanced Cruisers, 2 Brokodos Battle Carriers, and all available Falkosi fighters
- Drazi = 30 Sunhawks, 30 Warbirds, 6 Stormfalcons, 12 Strikehawks, 16 Stareagles, and all available Star Serpents / Sky Serpent fighters
- Gaim = 1 Tiac Explorer, 6 Moas Gunships, 4 Suom Light Cruisers, and all available Koist fighters
- Pak'ma'ra = 6 Pshul'shi Dreadnoughts, 3 Thar'not'ak Plasma Cruisers, 15 Sim'sall'e Transports, 19 Urik'hal Fast Destroyers, and all available Por'fa'tis fighters
- Vree = 1 Xonn Dreadnought, 24 Xill Battle Saucers, 12 Xorr War Saucers, 6 Xeel War Carriers, 6 Vaarl Scout Saucers, and all available Tzymm fighters
- Earth Alliance = 24 Thunderbolts and 36 Starfuries (from Babylon 5)
In the 1st issue of the comic mini-series In Valen's Name by DC Comics, Commander Ivanova recalls the battle in a conversation with fellow officers. She states at the battle, the Shadows had 10,000 vessels, the Vorlons had 10,000 vessels, and the Army of Light had 8,000 vessels present at the battle. Not clear in the comic if she is exaggerating or not.
- Babylon 5 Wars's Coming of the Shadows