"I don't mean to alarm you, but your pants are talking to you."
- – Sakai to Sinclair, 2258
Catherine Sakai was a captain and owner of the Earth survey vessel Skydancer, with which she contracted her services as an independent planetary surveyor to various mining corporations.
She grew up on Earth in Alaska, but moved to Hong Kong with her mother when her parents divorced. When her mother passed away she moved back to Alaska to live with her father again for a short while, though she remained in contact with her Aunt in Hong Kong. She had always been fascinated by the stars and was always passionate about travelling in space, however she grew to dislike hyperspace travel and like many long range space pilots, Sakai occasionally suffered from HST syndrome.
Careers & Relationships
In 2243 Catherine Sakai joined Earthforce and while in her second year as a cadet at Earthforce Academy she first met Jeffrey Sinclair, who was her flight instructor. During her first instruction flight with Sinclair, she almost blacked out after he performed a hairpin backward loop followed by a spinning barrel roll. She would later admit to herself that it was love at first sight. This was the beginning of a 15 year on-again off-again relationship where the two would often argue and go their separate ways for years at a time, only to get back together and begin the cycle anew. Shortly before the outbreak of the Earth-Minbari War, Catherine took Jeff to meet her Aunt in Hong Kong. During the trip they had a picture taken of the two of them that Catherine would carry with her for years to come, keeping it in a black lacquered wooden frame decorated with tiny golden stars. After the war ended in 2248, Sakai finished her hitch in Earthforce and started a new career as a professional planetary surveyor and independent contractor.
Breaking the Cycle
In March of 2258, shortly before visiting Babylon 5, Sakai surveyed a likely candidate for mining; a Class-2 planetoid with minimal atmosphere in Grid Epsilon, co-ordinates 471-18-25. It contained high levels of platinum, derinium as well as many other valuable minerals. Once on Babylon 5 she met with her business contacts to give her report on her last surveys and discuss her next commission. Before boarding, Catherine was unaware that Jeffrey Sinclair was the Station's Commander, had she known she said she wouldn't have come having promised to stay away from Jeff after their last encounter, when he was with Carolyn. The two shared a dinner at B5's Fresh Air Restaurant and while there was still a considerable attraction between the two, they agreed that things simply don't work between them. Later that day, Sakai's business meeting ended up providing a significant windfall after it turns out that one of the planets she had previously surveyed for that company, turned up a large quantity of Quantium 40.
Feeling a need to celebrate her lucky break, she dropped in on Sinclair and after a brief exchange and despite their earlier conversation, the two decide to once more rekindle their relationship, this time, hopefully, for good. Sakai left the station shortly after for a survey run in the Deneb Sector, though she promised to be back soon.
Later that month Sakai negotiated a contract with Universal Terraform Corporation to survey Sigma 957. As that planet is in contested space it was necessary to clear her expedition with the Narn Regime, though she is warned by Ambassador G'Kar that Sigma 957 is a dangerous world to visit. Believing he is motivated by a desire to keep the planet for the Narn exclusively, she goes over his head and proceeds with her survey mission. Shortly after Sakai arrives at Sigma 957 aboard the Skydancer and begins her survey, she encounters an unknown object in orbit (later found to be a First One.) The object quickly drains the Skydancer's power levels, leaving the ship disabled, long range communications down and with less than two hours before it will crash on the planet's surface. Luckily two Narn Frazi class heavy fighters, having been previously despatched by Ambassador G'kar, arrive in time to assist her and tow the Skydancer back to Babylon 5.
Strange Things Out On The Rim
"... they are a mystery. And I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe, that we have not yet explained everything. Whatever they are, Miss Sakai, they walk near Sigma 957, and they must walk there alone."
- – G'Kar to Sakai, 2258
Though she fully intended to get married, she first had a business commitment to honour for Universal Terraform, so on January 1 2259, Catherine again set out on a survey mission out to the Rim of known space in the Skydancer, not expecting to be back for another five months.
Her first stop was Planet UTC43-02C, code named Fensalir. An initial survey turned up plenty of diridium gas in the atmosphere, often a good indicator for the presence of Quantium 40 in the planet’s crust. However a more detailed geological survey showed that what little Q-40 there was consisted mostly of improperly formed crystalline structures, or was too tainted by other minerals to make mining it profitable.
The Work Of Giants
The second Planet on her itinerary was Planet UTC45-03A, code named Ymir. Using an ancient gate that had only recently been discovered, she quickly arrived in orbit and immediately noticed something amiss. According to the robot probe sent by Universal Terraform eight months previous, the planet was supposed to be a standard Class-4; a rocky terrestrial world with no surface water and minimal geological or atmospheric activity. Instead what she found was an unusually high level of particulate matter in the atmosphere right across the planet and a greenhouse effect that had increased the planet's surface temperature by 1.43 of normal. A more detailed analysis quickly ruled out an asteroid or meteor collision and after launching a series of satellites and sensor probes found that there was no Quantium 40 on planet surface at all and only trace elements suspended in atmosphere. It also showed that twenty-eight percent of the planet surface crust had been removed, exposing what the planet’s upper mantle, as if someone had strip mined the whole planet from pole to pole of all useful materials. Recalling her previous brush with the unknown over Sigma 957, Catherine was instantly on guard and realised the sheer magnitude of power required to blast away the outer surface of a planet to a depth of from ten to thirty-five miles deep over twenty-eight percent of the planet in such a small period of time was far beyond the abilities of any known race. She immediately sent a preliminary report in an emergency-coded transmission to the coordinates where the UT Operations ship was scheduled to be.
A Cryptic Message
Three weeks later, she had was over planet UTC51-03B (code name Glasir), having not heard a word in response to her message about Ymir. Glasir on the other had turned up a significant amount of Quantium 40, an excellent prospect for mining. Before leaving, Catherine was delighted when she received a message from Sinclair among her standard set of mission updates and jumpgate sequence codes, this being the first she'd heard from him since she left Babylon 5 in January. The message read "Catherine, Remember Sigma 957? Your current situation is different-but similar. Be careful. All my love, Jeff".
Puzzled by such a cryptic message she wondered if it was some kind of joke, but she reasoned that it must be some kind of warning and its cryptic nature meant that whomever she was being warned about could be listening in on her communications. After what she had seen at Ymir and the message's reference to Sigma 957, Sakai reasoned that Jeff was somehow warning her that there was something very powerful and dangerous out on the Rim. Not taking any chances she altered her automated jump gate and orbital procedures program so if anyone had intercepted her instructions from the company and came looking for her, the Skydancer would be somewhere else, not on the company specified flight plan.
Her final two stops were at planet UTC59-02B (code name Skirnir) which turned up nothing of value and UTC67-02C, code named Mjollnir which proved to be quite fruitful, though mercifully uneventful. So with her itinerary complete and a sample bay full of promising minerals, Sakai set course to rendezvous with the Universal Terraform Ops ship to drop off her samples and data and get back to civilisation.
Still wary of any surprises, Sakai tuned her early warning sensors to warn of any approaching object, knowing that given the nature of Hyperspace and it's tendency to distort that she would have to endure an endless stream of false alarms as her sensors read the temporary hyperspace eddies and knotted artefacts as solid. Her caution paid off when a day into her journey she was awoken from her bunk webbing by the proximity alarm which had detected a formation of at least a dozen unknown vessels, which the Skydancer had flown right into the middle of as well as an unusual form of jump point remnant.
Keeping in mind Jeff's warning and the scene of devastation at Ymir, Catherine opted not to try to contact the spider-like alien ships and stay on course, in the middle of their formation in the hopes that the Skydancer was too small for them to notice in the chaos of Hyperspace. After a short while the ships began to peel off, one by one apparently leaving her free to get the ship back on course for the beacon and the rendezvous with the Ops ship. However, not trusting her good luck, Sakai had the computer perform another full scan and sure enough, at maximum detection range there was one of the ships following directly behind her. For the next three days the alien ship kept pace with the Skydancer, Sakai occasionally drifted into sleep when her Stims wore off; she dreamt of running across a barren landscape towards an image of Sinclair, encircled by a sphere of light with the black alien ships flying overhead, their weapons just missing her as she ran, before waking suddenly then taking another shot of Stims to stay alert. As she finally approached Quadrant 130 (Coordinates 54 by 802 by 65), the location of the Jumpgate where the UTC Ops ship should be waiting for her, Sakai, convinced that the alien ship would attack as soon as she arrived at her destination prepared her plan of escape.
Activating the jumpgate sequence, Catherine suddenly increased the Skydancer's speed to maximum as the alien ship began moving in on an intercept vector. At just the right moment, while still inside the gate she opened her sample bays and dumped the entire contents, including a sizeable load of the highly valuable (and highly unstable) Quantium 40 into the open vortex.
As the Skydancer crossed the transition point, the several tons of radioactive material trailing behind it fouled the jumpgates's transition boosters, overloaded the energy exchange, and shut the gate down behind her with a massive crackling energy discharge that nearly tore the Skydancer apart and left the ship limping into normal space. Though she didn't realise it till later, but at that same moment, the enemy ship had fired, but the local hyperspace currents had deflected the worst of it, while the ignited debris had propelled the ship forward and out of harm's way.
A quick scan confirmed that the alien vessel didn't make it into normal space and that the jumpgate was off-line. The Skydancer was intact, but was heavily damaged and operating on emergency power. Sakai took the ship in to dock with the massive Universal Terraform Operations ship that was stationed nearby.
After filing her report with UT, Sakai returned to Babylon 5 having severed her ties with the corporation over the suggestion her relationship with Sinclair wasn't good for the company's image. When she arrived she was shocked to find that Sinclair was no longer in command and was unable to track down any of the command staff, all of whom it would turn out were occupied searching for Captain Sheridan who had recently been abducted by a Streib vessel. Eventually she manages to find Michael Garibaldi who provides her with travel documents, left for her by Delenn so she can come to Minbar and reunite with Sinclair.
After arriving on Minbar, Sakai stores the Skydancer in a Yedor spaceport hangar reserved by Delenn and makes her way to Tuzanor where she is finally reunited with Sinclair. After helping Sinclair to complete the ritual to become the new Entil'Zha of the Anla'shok - a process which involved consuming Sha'neyat - Sakai decided to become a Ranger herself and began the three month long Anla'shok training program alongside fellow new recruit Marcus Cole.
In November 2259, having completed her training as an Anla'shok, Ranger Sakai volunteered for a mission to destroy a Shadow device in Sector 14. During the mission, Sakai along with her Prototype Hybrid Fighter disappeared into the temporal rift. With no way of knowing where or when in time she could have emerged, Sinclair asks Kosh if there is any hope at all of finding Catherine again. The Vorlon responds by leaving the room, but just as the door closes, says "Perhaps".
"And as for me... I've received my own reward, because I've found her. At long last... I've found... her."
- – Valen's last message from B4
- JMS originally stated that Sinclair and Sakai broke off their engagement due to Sinclair's responsibilities to the Rangers. However, this was changed in "To Dream in the City of Sorrows" where they decided to marry.
- Sakai's ultimate fate following her disappearance is never explicitly stated, however there are a number of clues that point towards her being reunited in the past with Sinclair/Valen.
- The first clue is found in the final pages of "To Dream in the City of Sorrows", where a grieving Sinclair asks Kosh if there is any hope at all of his finding Catherine again. To which the Vorlon responds by leaving the room, but just as the door closes, says: "Perhaps."
- The second clue, also from the final pages of "To Dream in the City of Sorrows", where some time after Sinclair's departure, Sech Turval, one of the few to share the secret of Sinclair's true destiny finds a note addressed to Marcus Cole. Although there was no way to tell when the note itself was written, the sheet of paper was very old and of a kind that could be as much as a thousand years old. It reads:
- "From both of us, our thanks and friendship. Continue to dream that better future... where perhaps we'll meet again."
- The third clue can be found in the pages of "In Valen's Name" with Valen's last recording on Babylon 4: -
- "And as for me... I've received my own reward, because I've found her. At long last... I've found... her"
- As originally printed, the message actually mentions Catherine as if she might be one of those reading the message, however according to JMS, this was a typo that slipped past and Sakai is indeed the one Valen has found in the past.
- The fourth clue comes from a line in "Atonement" in which Delenn states that Valen's family left Minbar "to escape those who would persecute them." J. Michael Straczynski has indicated that there may have been a scandal concerning Valen's wife.
- "The Parliament of Dreams"
- "Mind War"
- "TKO" (Mentioned only)
- "Darkness Ascending" (Mentioned only)