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The Great Machine

"I am sending this message to all three parties involved in the struggle for control of this planet. It belongs to none of you, it belongs only to itself and to the future... The defensive systems on this world are now fully operational. Do not attempt to come here again. Any approach will be met with resistance. Any ship attempting to land will be destroyed. When the time is right we will be here, waiting for you but not until then." - Custodian Draal, 2258

History | Description | Functions

History

 No one knows who, or what, built this planet-spanning underground fortress.

For the last five hundred years, the Great Machine has been operational. It was activated by Varn and his team, who had been searching for the planet for some time. Varn's people were not the only beings living on Euphrates, Zathras and several of his kind also live there, maintaining the Great Machine. How they got there is a mystery.

 In 2258, a science team was assigned to Babylon 5 to explore the planet the station was orbiting. Dr. Tasaki, the lead scientist, on performing a standard planetary scan, inadvertently activated the failing Machine's defense system. After almost being shot down twice, Tasaki discovered the main entrance to the Machine, located in a five-mile fissure on the planet. Meanwhile, the planet's seismological readings were reaching a critical point; the Machine's fusion reactors were going to reach critical mass in 48 hours. Epsilon 3 was declared a possible hazard to station security and a probable First Contact situation. Commander Sinclair and his subordinate, Ivanova, decided to explore the new find and to discover the cause of the Machine's meltdown. After thwarting several internal traps, they entered the Heart of the Machine and found the dying Custodian, Varn.

 After recovering in the station's Medlab Varn chose his successor, the Minbari teacher Draal. Without a Custodian tied to the Machine, the planet itself would die. They quickly returned to the planet, where Varn spent his last days ensuring that Draal's melding with the Machine succeeded. Draal warned off anyone who would wish to take control of the planet for their own gains, saying that the power of the planet was for the future. The safekeeping of the planet was given to the Babylon 5 Advisory Council in whose enlightened self-interest it would be to insure that no one disturb the Machine.

 The future was not as far away as some suspected. The following year, 2259, Draal contacted the new commander of Babylon 5, Captain John Sheridan, and offered him the services of the Great Machine in the coming Great War. In addition to assisting the War Council contact those First Ones still existing in the galaxy, the Great Machine created a time rift to allow Babylon 4 to be stolen for the Shadow Uprising in the 1250's.

Description

 Tunneled through a large part of the planet Euphrates, a planet orbiting Epsilon Eridani, the Great Machine is powered by massive banks of fusion generators (the largest are 5 to 10 miles across). Heavily armed with missile launchers, planetary-scale slicer beams, electronic debilitator wave

 generators and other weapons; it might possibly be the most secure place in the galaxy (barring the Vorlon Homeworld, Sigma-957, and Z'ha'dum). Highly advanced technology is housed within; including the Time Manipulation devices used to "hijack" Babylon 4.

 The Great Machine is controlled by the Heart - a control room where the Custodian is bodily hooked up to the machine. The Machine itself chooses who may control it. Once installed, the Great Machine's operations are tied to the lifesigns of the Custodian. By entering the Machine, the Custodian's life is greatly extended, mostly by rejuvenating the physiology of the individual. While the Machine needs contact with the Custodian, it can be programmed to operate for several standard hours without the Custodian's presence. The previous Custodian of the Machine described that by being the Heart you "see all the futures, hear all the songs, and touch the edge of the universe with [one's] thoughts."

 Functions

 In addition to several offensive weaponry arrays, the Great Machine harbors several defensive systems -- for both incoming vessels and ground troops. While all systems are regulated by the Custodian, the Machine can defend itself in his or her absence. The automatic defense net activates at an altitude of 40 miles from the planet's surface.

The Heart of the Machine allows anyone hooked into the Machine access to an "Ethernet." The Ether Interface allows a being to travel along the paths woven between all lifeforms. Within the Ether, time and space are irrelevant. Travelling the pathways can bring the traveller to the past, present, and future, allowing the Custodian to see into distant worlds and to gain greater understanding of the universe. Not that this grants omniscience, places and people can be shielded to hide things from view. Having telepathic powers enhances use of the Heart. Beware of Shadows lurking in the darker places.

 The Machine has the ability to record transmissions found on the Etherweb from the past, and possibly future. The Custodian can also utilize the Machine's holographic projection system, allowing the receiver real-time interaction with the golden holo-image of the Custodian. The massive computer banks contain reports regarding the First Ones and their haunts: Tales of encounters with alien forces beyond description and stories of vast and nameless forces that prowl the ruins of ancient cities. Each file ends with the words "Do Not Approach."

 The most taxing functions of the Machine is the generation of a temporal rift. This requires intense concentration on the part of the Custodian and the dedication of all the Machine's resources.

IRL: Notes on the Entries

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Comments, criticisms, suggestions, and additions welcome! Post them here. Babylon 5, characters, names, and all related indicia are trademarks of Time Warner Entertainment Co., LP. 1994-98 Time Warner Entertainment Co. All original text, artwork and page design 1995-98 iNFiNiCorp Transgalactic/Christopher Russo.

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