"There are beings in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. Once, long ago, they walked among the stars like giants... vast and timeless."
- – Delenn
The First Ones were a group of ancient races that achieved sentience billions of years before any of the "Younger Races", such as the Minbari, Humans or Centauri. The most well known races among the First Ones are the Vorlons and the Shadows, who after most of their contemporaries passed beyond the Rim, into the void between galaxies, opted to stay behind and act as guardians and shepherds for the younger races.
The First Born
Before even most of the First Ones were young, there was a race in the galaxy born to be naturally immortal. The first among them to rise to sapience was an individual named Lorien. He, along with the few others of his kind, found the Vorlons, the Shadows and all of the other races later known as the First Ones, when they were infant races. Over time, Lorien and his kind helped them grow and flourish, becoming vast and powerful beings.
They created great empires, exploring beyond the Rim, and like Lorien's people before them, they found even younger races and became their teachers and guardians.
Guardians of Order & Chaos
Like all things, this did not last forever and gradually, over the course of a million years, most of the First Ones, along with a few of Lorien's people who did not perish through injury or illness, left the galaxy, never to return, and some simply disappeared.
Of those few who were left behind, Lorien was the only Firstborn to remain while among the handful of First Ones that did not leave, the Vorlons and Shadows were the most numerous; as such, they took up the responsibility as the sole guardians and protectors of the younger races. Others, such as the Walkers of Sigma 957, took little interest in the affairs of the younger races, if they noticed them at all, yet they stayed, hidden or asleep waiting for the day that they would be needed. Lorien eventually withdrew and dwelt deep beneath the planet that would become known as Z'ha'dum.
A War of Ideology
Though the Vorlons and the Shadows followed diametrically opposite ideologies on what is the best way to help and to teach the younger races, they both agreed to respect each other's position, maintain the balance between them and abide by rules of engagement. However, at some point, one or both of them decided that their way was the right way and the only way and so began a conflict of ideology that would last for over a million years. Although the two guardian races were technically at war, neither attacked the other directly, choosing instead to fight their battles through the hearts and minds of the younger races in their care. The Shadows fostered conflict and hardship with the belief that it would both breed stronger races and weed out those too weak to survive. The Vorlons on the other hand believed in rigid order and obedience and had already manipulated many of the races to see them as beings of light, messengers of the universe and even gods. Rather than letting nature take its course, the Vorlons actively adjusted the genetic evolution of certain races and, in time, even created telepaths that could be used to counter Shadow Technology.
For a time, the few remaining First Ones helped the younger races fight back against the destruction and chaos wrought by the Shadows, but they were only ever beaten back, never destroyed. Each time, they were defeated and driven off their homeworld of Z'ha'dum the Shadows, having left some of their kind in hibernation there would always return, believing that they were showing respect for Lorien. The last great war fought between the remaining First Ones took place around ten thousand years before the Third Age of Mankind, and it would be the last time that the other First Ones would walk openly among the younger races.
Nine thousand years later, the Shadows once again returned to Z'ha'dum and began to rebuild their power and stretch forth their hand to begin another war among the infant races. This time, however, they were defeated by an alliance of worlds including the Minbari, Hyach, Vorlons and the few remaining First Ones. When the war was finished it was thought that all the other First Ones, having grown tired of the endless conflict, went away, leaving only the Vorlons behind.
Breaking The Cycle
Creating The Future
The Shadows were again driven back into hibernation on Z'ha'dum, but not before seeding the galaxy with their remaining ships, hiding them away on uninhabited worlds where they could be retrieved again. The Vorlons meanwhile continued to advance their program of creating and developing telepaths among the younger races. In 2055, nearly eight hundred years after the Shadows had been beaten back, two Vorlons were sent to Earth to advance telepath development to the next stage. Setting up a base in the Gamburtsev mountains in Antarctica, they began abducting humans and implanting them with the next stage telepath gene cultured from their Nephilim. Their activities were discovered by the allies of the Shadows, who came to Earth to stop them. One of the pair was killed in the ensuing fight, its deathscream felt in the dreams of hundreds of telepaths across the planet, and a piece of its consciousness managed to escape into the mind of a human who had been prepared for just such an eventuality. The second Vorlon, after destroying all trace of the Antarctica base, retreated in its ship to hide near the Venusian south pole.
The results of the latest genetic implantation became apparent even to the humans themselves, with the first verifiable telepaths appearing in 2115. However, they would not be aware of the Vorlon tampering for years to come.
In 2245 the Vorlon Empire sent Naraneks Kosh and Ulkesh to secretly contact Dukhat, Chosen One of the Minbari Grey Council, and warn him that the ancient enemy was returning and that the humans, a race unknown to the Minbari, would be instrumental in the coming war. By this time many of the Grey Council had begun to doubt, or even disbelieve, the prophecies of Valen, that the Shadows would first return to their homeworld before moving against them--and the Anla'Shok, charged for 1000 years with watching for the Shadows' return, had been reduced to a handful of dedicated yet aging Rangers with little in the way of the resources they needed. After Anla'Shok Na Lenonn's request for additional support was turned down by the council, Dukhat took advantage of the situation and declared that the council would go to Z'ha'dum and see for themselves. Disaster struck when an Earth Alliance explorer division, probing the border of Minbari space, stumbled across the Valen'Tha en route to the rim. The Captain of the lead ship panicked at the sight of the Minbari Cruiser closing with its gun ports open and, not understanding the gesture of respect for what it was, opened fire, damaging the ship, killing Dukhat and beginning the Earth-Minbari War. The war was ultimately stopped, just short of the annihilation of the human race.
In January 2257, the Interplanetary Expeditions vessel Icarus landed on Z'ha'dum, prematurely awakening the Shadows and setting in motion the Second Shadow War before the Vorlons were fully ready. Once awakened on Z'ha'dum, the Shadows again began to rebuild their power, quietly recalling their allies and ships to them. Their re-emergence did not escape the attention of the Vorlons as Kosh Naranek had observed the Icarus's landing via a probe left behind to monitor Z'ha'dum. Both sides moved quickly to consolidate the younger races to their side, and it didn't take long for the Shadows to recognise the Humans as the key to the latest conflict. They then managed to gain an influence, directly and otherwise, with certain factions within the Earth Alliance. They made use of ambitious politicians such as then Vice President Clark looking to create a new order, and elements within Psi Corps, essentially hijacking the Vorlon-inspired breeding and enhancement program set forth by Director Vacit some 60 years prior.
When the war finally came, events progressed as both sides expected until in December 2260, Captain Sheridan, the chosen leader of the Army of Light, travelled to Z'ha'dum, managing to inflict serious damage and encountering Lorien. The Vorlons took advantage of the Shadows' weakened state and began striking directly at their followers and allies, wiping out whole planets, colonies, anywhere the Shadows had found influence. The Shadows soon responded in kind, each side intent on finally settling their eons-long dispute over order and chaos. The younger races soon found themselves caught between two unstoppable forces and would have fallen apart if it were not for the rallying cry from Babylon 5, of Sheridan returned from the dead by Lorien.
After the calling together of the very last lingering First Ones, including the Walkers of Sigma 957, the Shadows and Vorlons were finally persuaded at the Battle of Coriana VI to stop their endless cycle of war and depart with Lorien and the others out beyond the galactic rim, though a few briefly stayed behind to wait for John Sheridan to join them at his passing.
|The following is based on The Agents of Gaming Strategic Game and contradicts canon sources.|
An expanded universe on the First Ones was produced by Agents of Gaming who developed a miniature line as well as a number of sourcebooks. The supplement called "War of the Ancients" gave details on the various First Ones including and detailed them as:
- "Triad" - one of the eldest of the First Ones who were born in the void as three separate beings with one being devoted to the concept of Order, the second to Chaos, and the last to Neutrality.
- "Walkers" - a race devoted to the concept of gaining knowledge of the universe with regular explorations into different dimensions in order to expand their databases.
- Mindriders - a species that became beings of pure thought before they left their homeworld. They gained their name from attempting to learn what they had lost during their evolution into such beings and thus entered into the minds of other sentient beings in order to experience their lives.
- "Torvalus" - this race still possessed their physical bodies and developed advanced stealth technology. They were also noted for making cosmic gambles as well as bets.
- "Kirishiac" Lords - youngest and most brutal of the First Ones, they were giant beings who still possessed a physical form and were engaged in a brutal conflict called the Kirishiac War where they battled the other First Ones until they were defeated.
|The following is based on The Mongoose Publishing RPG books and contradicts canon sources.|
- The Mongoose Publishing book Darkness and Light refers to Lorien's people as the "Speakers" as they were the first species to develop speech and sentience. However, this should not be considered as part of canon due to the nature of the books.
- The book also refers to a race of First Ones called the "Xu-Ha", who went insane after their Transcendence. Their insane rampage is known as the Xu-Ha Purges, where the Xu-Ha proceeded to wipe out race after race, for no apparent reason. The other First Ones united and wiped the Xu-Ha out.
- Another new race of First Ones is mentioned in The Rim sourcebook called "The Pact", a race of beings that intended to divorce themselves from order and chaos by engaging in quiet contemplation. It's mentioned that the Rangers tracked them down in order to enlist their aid in the final battle of the Shadow War, but they used their great technology to deposit the White Star into distant space and did not participate in the conflict at Corianna VI.
- "The Travellers" were described as elder First Ones who mastered dimensional travel. The book also infers that they are the same race as the Walkers of Sigma 957.
|First Born · Vorlon · Shadow · Walkers of Sigma-957 · Thirdspace Aliens · The Hand · Asmodeus' race|
|Minbari · Centauri · Human/Neanderthal · Narn · Dilgar · Drakh|
|Drazi · Brakiri/J/Lai · Gaim · pak'ma'ra · Abbai · Yolu · Hyach/Hyach-do · Markab · Llort · Grome · Hurr · Cascor · Balosian · Onteen · Iksha · Vree|