Powered by a massive network of advanced fusion reactors, some of which are up to 10 miles across, this complex machine required a sentient being to merge with it in order to regulate and stabilize its operation. With the colossal amount of raw power at its disposal, the machine is known to be able to boost a tachyon signal over dozens of light years, project the operator's mind clear into deep space and even control and widen a temporal rift. The Machine also features a holographic system that can scan and project images at least as far as near orbit and even blanket all local signals. Though extremely advanced by the standards of the Younger Races, the machine has its limits and can be blocked by a sufficiently advanced race, most especially the First Ones.
In addition to its communications and sensing abilities, the Machine features formidable defence systems, including missiles and particle beam weaponry capable of taking out warships in near orbit.
Within the Machine's great storehouses of knowledge are the designs for many advanced technologies and the facilities to fabricate them. Among the devices known to have originated from the Great Machine are the Triluminaries, Time stabilizers, the Chrysalis Device and the time-jump system that allowed Babylon 4 to travel 1000 years into the past.
Access to and from the machine is made possible by several hangar bays, hidden in deep fissures on the planet's surface. Some of these fissures also house small cargo transport craft.
Guardians and Caretakers
From the Earth year 1758 to 2258 Varn, the last of his race (apart from outcasts), served as the guardian of the Great Machine. During this time a number of Caretakers also lived within the machine, assisting Varn in maintaining and repairing the machine's systems. After Varn reached the end of his life he relinquished his duties to Draal. At 110, Zathras was the oldest living caretaker before leaving to join Valen and Babylon 4 in the distant past. Among those Zathras left behind were his nine brothers and Spragg.
Though the identity of the Machine's builders has never been determined it is known that it was not Varn's race, though they were entrusted with its safekeeping for centuries. However, not all of that race were as trusted as Varn, as a violent group of outcasts exiled centuries earlier would spend 500 years searching for it, to claim it as their own and use it for their own ends.
In June 2258, his health began to fail as Varn's long life finally began to come to an end. As his condition worsened he began to lose control of the Great Machine, causing seismic tremors and power fluctuations. He reached out to the nearby station, appearing as a hologram to those he felt worthy of taking his place: Commander Sinclair, Ambassador Mollari and an old Minbari teacher named Draal. Following a brief conflict between Babylon 5 forces, the EAS Hyperion and the outcasts led by Takarn, Draal accepted guardianship of the machine and warned all parties that any attempt to land would be met with lethal force. The outcasts ignored this warning and moved in regardless, only for their cruiser to be annihilated by a powerful particle beam. In late 2259, Draal broke his silence and made contact with Delenn and Captain Sheridan, pledging his support to the oncoming Shadow War. In 2260, Draal allowed Susan Ivanova to connect to the machine and use it to search for the places where the First Ones still dwelt. In early 2261, during the darkest days of the Second Shadow War, Stephen Franklin set up a temporary Medlab facility to cope with the overflow after B5 was inundated with refugees from planets destroyed by the Vorlons' planetkillers. Later that year, Zathras assisted Susan Ivanova by utilizing the machine's immense power to boost the Voice of the Resistance broadcasts to Earth's colonies and outposts.
- The identity of the race that built the Great Machine has yet be revealed. Prior to their production, JMS did say it was a possible plot point in one of the TNT TV Movies, though that never came to fruition.
- The Great Machine appears to have been at least partly inspired by the great Krell machine of Altair IV, featured in the 1956 Science fiction film "Forbidden Planet". JMS has repeatedly stated that while the "big reveal" shot in ("A Voice in the Wilderness, Part I") wasn't designed by the storyboard artist to be an intentional homage to "Forbidden Planet", the resonance certainly wasn't lost on them.
- A Voice in the Wilderness, Part II
- Conflicts of Interest
- Voices of Authority
- To Dream in the City of Sorrows
- War Without End, Part I
- A Voice in the Wilderness, Part I
- Severed Dreams
- JMS post on CIS - 2/28/1996 3:57:00 AM
- JMS post on CIS - 2/8/1997 5:37:00 PM
- The Long, Twilight Struggle
- Falling Toward Apotheosis
- JMS post on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated - 10/20/1994 10:18:00 AM
- JMS post on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated - 10/29/1995 1:17:00 PM
- JMS post on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated - 7/28/1994 1:34:00 PM