"What do you want?"

The Shadow Question

The Shadows is the name given to an ancient race who were among the oldest of the First Ones. The name "Shadows" was given to them by the younger races as their actual name is unknown, though it is said to be over ten thousand letters long and unpronounceable by any of the younger races.[1]

Biology[edit | edit source]

Morden was never alone

The Shadows resemble a cross between an Earth spider and praying mantis with a small triangular head and seven pairs of pinpoint eyes in two stacked rows (3 above, 4 below). Externally, they're colored in shades of dark purple and black and possess the ability to cloak themselves from most visible wavelengths. They can however sometimes be seen as figures of static in the upper end of the infrared spectrum.[2][3]

Shadow speech sounds like a dynamic screeching that can be understood by their thralls, such as Morden, Anna Sheridan and Justin, through an implant.[2]

Ideology[edit | edit source]

"As always, chaos is the way to strength [...] Chaos is the engine powering life. The spread of chaos is our triumph. And the greatest joy is the ecstasy of victory."

A Shadow, 2260 [4]

The Shadows believe that for races to evolve into their full potential, they must do so through a cycle of chaos: growth through pain and struggle, conflict and war. Weak races die. Strong races are made even stronger. With this they developed their First Principles: chaos through warfare, evolution through bloodshed, perfection through victory.[4][5][6]

Government[edit | edit source]

Though no official name or structure of ruling government was attributed to the Shadows, several facts point to having a sort of Social Darwinistic rule. The Shadows embrace chaos as the defining characteristic of their race and the supreme force of the universe, and that the strong reign over the weak.

Technology[edit | edit source]

Main article: Shadow technology

The Shadows use organic technology in virtually everything. Their ships resembled huge black spiders and are simply referred to as Shadow Vessels. Capable of phasing in and out of hyperspace without using jumpgates or any known form of Jump point, they require a living sentient being as the central processing unit for their ships; humans have been used for this purpose. They have powerful beam weapons, are capable of de-stabilizing jump points of enemy ships, and can launch shadow fighter squadrons.

The Shadows are also capable of tying their technologies directly into the mind and the body. They can make a person say or do what they want. Such was seen in 2260 with Anna Sheridan.[1][7] By 2262, it was also discovered that they could control alien ships by remote. They used black pods, probably some kind of organic war computer, to navigate the ship, destroy targets and deal with any opposition.[8]

All Shadow tech can be disrupted by telepathic activity. This resulted in the Shadows eliminating some telepaths from the population of some worlds, as with the Narns.[7] The Vorlons, realizing this, created telepaths on many different worlds to be used in the next war.[9] In an attempt to correct this weakness, the Shadows, with help of the Psi Corps, were given telepaths which they adjusted with neural devices in order to fight for them.[7] However, it seems that this was ineffectual since Sheridan, with the help of Bester, got to them first. This allowed the telepaths to be used against their ships very effectively.[10]

Servant races[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

When they were a young race they were found by Lorien and the First Born, who taught and guided them until they were ready to stand on their own. Like the Vorlons, the Shadows opted to stay in the galaxy to guide the younger races when most of the other First Ones went out beyond the Rim, into the void between galaxies. The Shadows believed that races could only grow stronger through chaos and conflict and driving the younger races to war with one another, a diametrically opposite view to the Vorlons' ideology of order and obedience. Initially the two guardian races agreed to honor the each other's positions, respect their boundaries and follow rules of engagement. However, as time went on, one or both of them decided that their way was the only correct way to help the younger races. A series of wars were fought against the Shadows with the Vorlons recruiting several younger races and even some of the last remaining First Ones. The Shadows were repeatedly defeated and driven back to their homeworld of Z'ha'dum, where Lorien was known to have been dwelling. The Shadows believed they were showing him respect by returning every time. After a defeat they would go into hibernation, waiting for the right time to move again.

Around the Earth year 1259 the Shadows were again awake and on the move, setting up bases on remote worlds, forging alliances and seeding conflict among the younger races. One planet resisted their attempts to establish a base and so the Shadows decided to make an example of them by releasing a Bio-genetic Plague into their atmosphere then leaving them to die.[11] One of the younger races, the Minbari, were then new to space travel and were driven back by Shadow forces almost to defeat. When they lost their greatest Starbase, the center of their war effort, it appeared as though they were on the verge of collapse both from without and from within. To their surprise and as if in answer to their prayers a replacement station arrived along with the Vorlons, who had until that point been unknown to them, and a Minbari not born of Minbari named Valen.[12]

Around this time one Shadow base of operations was located on of one of the southern continents on the Narn homeworld and were mostly ignored by the Shadows. After Narn pilots in their small explorer vessels discovered the Shadows were engaged in a war that threatened to overwhelm the very stars themselves and the location of their homeworld in a system at the edge of known space, G'Quan led acts of sabotage to disrupt the Shadows' war efforts. Bringing themselves to the attention of the Shadows, the presence of telepaths in the local population prompted the Shadows to send their dark servants to kill them. Eventually G'Quan, with the support of G'Lan and a number of other such beings, led the last remaining telepaths to drive the Shadows from Narn, never to return.[13][14][15][16][17]

On Minbar, Valen eventually managed to unite the Minbari and alongside the Vorlons and some of the remaining First Ones organized the other races to drive back the Shadows. The Shadows retreated into hibernation once more, though not before burying many of their ships and supplies on hundreds of barren unpopulated worlds including Mars and Ganymede where they would be safe and easy to quietly retrieve when the time was again right for another war. The return of the Shadows was prophesied by many races including the Minbari, Narn, and pak'ma'ra.[18]

In 2253, one of the Shadows' hidden ships was discovered 300 feet beneath Syria Planum by an IPX sponsored dig. As soon as the ship was exposed to sunlight it let off a homing signal and before long another Vessel arrived to retrieve it, though not before the humans managed to install a homing beacon of their own, allowing them to track the location of Z'ha'dum.[19]

In 2254, while the Shadows slept, their allies recognized the newly completed Earth Alliance station Babylon 4 as the same station that appeared with Valen to turn the tide against them. Sending a group of fighters to attach a fusion bomb, they hoped to destroy it and change the course of history in their favor. The attempt failed when an unknown vessel intercepted and destroyed them shortly before B4 disappeared into a temporal rift.[20]

In December 2256, the IPX ship Icarus arrived in the Alpha Omega system. Their long-range probe landed on Z'ha'dum, causing the premature awakening of the Shadows. The Icarus crew were captured by the Shadows on 3 January 2257 shortly after landing and given the opportunity to serve them. All but one - a Dr. Morden - refused and were converted into fresh CPUs for their warships.[21]

In 2258, Morden acted as their emissary to Babylon 5, eventually striking up an alliance with Centauri ambassador Londo Mollari. The Shadows assisted the Centauri in combat against the Narn, apparently without reward. The chaos caused an excellent smokescreen for the Shadows to begin moving openly in 2259.

In 2260, the Shadow War continued in earnest. John Sheridan used a thermonuclear device in a White Star ship in order to destroy the Shadow Capital on Z'ha'dum.

References[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.