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"We're only, at best, half civilized. This thin veneer of civilization we share is the only imaginary line that keeps us from acting out our own darkest impulses. It allows our 'humanity' to resist justifying butchery. You call yourselves civilized, but you're tottering on the brink mindless savagery just to satisfy your egos. Yes, we are aware of what is happening right now at Earth. Right now, your people are desperately trying to force your way to Earth. To do what? Kill in the name God-in this case a memory of a leader you revered. But, instead of asking that a world be sacrificed, you can exercise your civilized ideals and say 'stop'."
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Admiral James T Kirk, to Satai Delenn

This is a Crossover written by committee. It can be found on Spacebattles and Fanfiction.net.

It describes a war between the Minbari Federation and the United Federation of Planets. In the beginning, a ship from the Earth of Babylon 5 and a Minbari ship chasing it go through a space anomaly. Captain Kirk's Enterprise finds them before the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon in what would have been The Undiscovered Country, leading to the Federation and Klingons discovering a hyperspace channel to the home of the Earth Alliance... and bringing down the wraith of the Minbari. The consequences extend into the next century, and the Vorlons get involved as well — also as enemies of the Federation.

It can be found here.

Also supplemental chapters can be found here.

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Tropes:

  • Abusive Precursors: Vorlons march up one side of this trope and down the other. If it wasn't for helpful precursors on the Federation's side, this would be a much darker, and much more terrifying fanfic.
    • The Shadows also have a bit of this, as part of their backstory. However, as their style is more "Infiltrate and learn," rather than "appear as gods," they more quickly learn about the Federation and its benefits, and leave not that long after they're introduced.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Chang is revealed to have been the one who assigned Kruge to obtain Genesis, and was quite upset, mostly at himself, for choosing such an incompetent.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Averted... but justified why it's inverted. It's rather hard to appreciate alien arts when they're being used as part of a plan to turn the entire hull of your ship into a sonic weapon. And even barring that, it's mentioned that part of the selection of songs includes Klingon Opera and Bagpipe music... being played at the same time.
    • Played straight in other areas. The Federation Ambassador to the Narn likes their food, and the Vree "Master of Sleep" has several sets of sheets for everyone's beds... which all have cartoon dinosaurs on them.
    • Dellenn's parents muse briefly on a Centauri that decided to renounce his citizenship to live among the Minbari because he grew infatuated with their culture.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The "elder races" such as the Metrons frown on the ideological conflict between the Vorlons and Shadows, and warned them not to join in the war against the Federation and their allies, or else. However, the Vorlons seek to find a loophole such as sending the Ashen to assist the Minbari and setting up one of their ships to "accidentally" destroy some Federation and Klingon ships. The latter attempt got the Metrons and the rest to seriously remind the Vorlons to understand why they shouldn't have done that.
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    • The Shadows agreed with the "elder races" in not interfering with the younger races at all because they felt that their ideology is finally validated when the Federation and Klingons first appeared and have other interests to pursue.
  • Always Someone Better: How Chang sees Kirk and boy, does this ever gall him. It seems to be the core of Chang’s Idiot Ball, when he first hints, in Kirk’s face during a press conference no less, at having been behind the events of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and thus David’s death, then taking stupid risks to earn glory in order to surpass Kirk that end up not paying off.
  • Alternate Universe: An alternate universe Admiral Janeway from the future, Voyager, and a Minbari warship travel to the ATV universe to deliver a warning about the Vorlons and provide weapons and technology from over one hundred years in the future. This scares Kirk, as Starfleet has strict rules against this sort of thing, and if Janeway is willing to break them, things must had gotten very serious.
    • In another sense, the story breaks off from the "Original" timeline during the sixth Star Trek movie, "The Undiscovered Country." Instead of the mission being sabotaged by combined Federation and Klingon forces, the mission is interrupted by the appearance of Earth Alliance ships fleeing from Minbari warships. As such, Chancellor Gorkon and his crew survive and play a key role in the war.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The Minbari adheres to the adage/rule that 'Minbari do not kill Minbari' for over a thousand years. Needless to say, at the tail end of the war both Satais Coplann and Caldroni were mortified when they learnt in their peace negotiations with Admiral Kirk that there is Human DNA in the Minbari's racial gene-pool, which was responsible for their race's growing sterility, thanks to their Vorlons patrons' ancient genetic manipulations - Like in B5 canon they, and the Minbari as a whole watching the live broadcast of the surrender, were forced to confront the reality that they were in a way killing their own kin. And then shortly afterwards Civil War erupts between the Minbari and the Ashen over the issue of the surrender, and the fanatical Ashen's attempts to burn Minbar rather then let the Minbari surrender or let the Federation/Empire/Alliance forces occupy their ancient homeworld completely overturns the rule as the Minbari's rage over their brethren's atrocities against the Minbari explodes into a bloody war of retribution against their own distant relatives.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 3a to 6 (Planetary levels) were attempted or occurred multiple times throughout the story, many of them by the Minbari in their attempts to exterminate Humanity via hundred megaton yield nuclear weapons, antiproton beam weapons and nerve agents.
    • Averted in several notable instances: The Minbari attempted, and failed, to do this to the Wolf 359 and Jericho colonies, and then at Earth at the 'Battle of the Line', thanks to Federation and Klingon support of the Earth Alliance. Later on the Earth Alliance, following the upgrades of their vessels, managed to successfully hold off a Minbari fleet attempting to do the same to the Wolf 424 colony.
    • Played straight at Beta Nine thanks to Aly Aalaan's Minbari fleet. Meanwhile the Ashen forces set to try and destroy the Earth Alliance homeworld again successfully destroyed the Proxima colonies, killing over 80 million Humans as well as all the token Earther, Starfleet and Klingon forces present.
    • General Order Twenty Four of Starfleet authorizes a ship or fleet to destroy the entire surface of a planet if the situation requires it, which Admiral Kirk invoked in response to the Minbari's ultimatum post-Battle of the Line to force the Earth Alliance to surrender and the Federation/Klingon forces to withdraw by threatening to destroy all of the Earth Alliance's colonies - if the Minbari carry out their colony-destruction campaign, Starfleet will glass Minbar in retaliation.
    • The Minbari-Ashen Civil War which erupted shortly after the unconditional surrender and ceasefire between Minbar and the Federation/Empire/Alliance forces nearly led to a class 3a but stop short at a class 2, with more than 80% of the Minbari population killed and most of their civilization on Minbar levelled within six hours.
  • Arc Words: Destroying an empire to win a war is no victory. And ending a battle to save an empire is no defeat.
    • The title, "A Thin Veneer," also shows up several times, asking the question of exactly how "Civilized" each group in the war is. Are the Minbari, with their Crystal Spires and Togas technology, who have launched a genocidal war, civilized? Are the Federation, who for all their good points, still show signs of righteous rage towards old foes and the Minbari? Are the aggressive Klingons? Are the Gorn?
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The Minbari's murder of twenty five million beings from several major nations in a Pearl Harbor-style attack on a Federation colony brings the Federation, Klingons, and Gorn into the Earth/Minbari War with a vengeance.
  • Big Good: The Collaboration of Elder Races, consisting of races such as the Medusans, the Metrons, the Q Continuum, and other 'First Ones' of the Alpha Quadrant, who watched over the Alpha Quadrant races and civilizations and prohibited the likes of the Vorlons and Shadows from interfering with their development, allowing them to grow and advance on their own accord. They had long looked upon the Vorlons and Shadows' mucking about in the B5-verse region of space with disapproval, especially the whole Stable Time Loop thing the Vorlons had exploited to 'win' the argument against the Shadows no matter how many suffer and die in the process, and it's implied and suspected by the Vorlons that the Elders interfered with the Hyperspace Channel's operation to allow for the Earth Alliance refugee ship to reach the Alpha Quadrant, kickstarting the entire plot of 'A Thin Veneer' which irrevocably disrupted all the Vorlons' plans and work.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Delenn in particular tries to reason with Kirk to stand down by arguing that humanity isn't advanced enough to be trusted with the technology they wield and should accept the 'guidance' of the Vorlons and the destruction of the 'local' Earth. Kirk refuses to countenance the destruction of this Earth and rejects the idea of accepting peace by condoning butchery, to say nothing of the Federation as a whole rejecting the idea that they abandon their dream of coming together with other races in exchange for the 'honour' of being slaves to the Vorlons.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The Gorn's warships. While the first four ships listed are almost certainly an attempt to tease the Federation, being named Smaug, Fafnir, Mothra, and Rodan, the last is registered as the GCF ''Fires Of Regulus''.
  • Central Theme:
    • The thinness of the line between civilization and barbarism which all people and cultures walk. The Minbari were seen as an enlightened civilization in their region of space between their technological supremacy, their age and their contact with the Vorlons, but their pride and passions could overwhelm their reason, and many races and civilization found themselves disillusioned when the Minbari completely flip their lid over the Earthers' accidental killing of Durkat (their greatest leader in generations) and responding with their genocidal war against the Earth Alliance. Meanwhile, the United Federation of Planets, for all their legitimate advancement, still struggles with the impulse to not use their technological supremacy to force other races and star nations to toe by their will or retaliate wrongs and aggression with overwhelming firepower, while the Klingons have to struggle with their cultural character as a Proud Warrior Race, which is growing to become a liability that left them unable to compete with the Federation and feared and hated by everyone with their martial and imperialistic ways. Even the elder races such as the Vorlons and Metrons are not exempt from this, with the Vorlons' faults being portrayed in full as making them little better than a race of Abusive Precursors who are all too willing to dominate and destroy any younger race who deviate from their way of the universe, and the Metrons, while way better than the Vorlons, are still willing to threaten to start a war on an unthinkable scale just to protect their charges in the Alpha Quadrant from Vorlon interference. When and where do people and civilizations cross the line and how 'civilized' they truly are is a oft-repeated question throughout the story.
    • Order Versus Chaos: Both the younger and elder races and civilizations of the Star Trek and Babylon 5 universes are compared and contrasted in this light. The 'Collaboration of Elder Races' such as the Metrons and the Medusans watching over the Alpha Quadrant embodies 'Chaos' with their hands-off approach to guiding younger civilization, refusing to interfere and mess with the development of younger races and letting them rise and fall on their own accord with occasional light input, while the Vorlons in the B5-verse region of space embodies the 'Order' side of the divide with their hands-on approach, genetically and culturally manipulating whole races to achieve results they feel 'optimal'. Throughout the story Alpha Quadrant precursors and younger races' 'Chaotic' approach is portrayed in a much better light than the B5-verse younger and elder races' 'Order', giving them freedom and dynamism which allow them progress socially and technologically at rates which leave the B5-verse civilizations in the dust, while the borderline Control Freak methods used by the Vorlons left the B5-verse civilizations and even themselves reactionary and stagnant. That is not to say the answer is clear-cut: the Shadows' social-darwinist approach to growth of races and civilization (by promoting conflict everywhere to weed out the weak and empower the strong) is portrayed as doing more harm than good, something which they come to recognize themselves. Even so, the Alpha Quadrant's approach is ultimately shown to be more correct than that of the B5-verse's approach.
  • Character Development: Several on both sides of the war, but a notable example is a Minbari commander named Shaka. When he is first introduced, he is an arrogant, hotheaded bigot who is completely assured of the superiority of the Minbari and the barbarity of his opponents. After spending almost a month on the receiving end of Commander Acaltha's trolling and having the one sided battles rubbed in his face, he is still hotheaded, but starts to realize that the Federation may not be the barbarians that he had believed, and eventually sacrifices his fleet (though he and his ship survives) to protect Uhura's ship from the Ashen after a ceasefire is declared, partially to maintain the ceasefire, but also because he realized the Ashen were far more of a danger to his people than the Federation was. It was still an impulsive action spurred by anger, but not one fueled by his own arrogance.
  • Control Freak: The Vorlons manipulate extensively in the development and nature of the races in the space of their influence on a genetic and cultural level in order to 'win the argument' with the Shadows and react with almost petulant fury at their work being disrupted and their antics being looked down upon by other 'First Ones' who don't approve of their controlling methods. Those who criticize however have good reasons to do so as the Vorlon's manipulations and forceful 'guidance' often do more harm than good, causing stagnation and insularity among the alien cultures at best and leading to devastation and extinction of whole civilizations and races at worst.
  • Crossover: Between Babylon 5 and Star Trek. While the main focus is on TOS-era Star Trek (in the Movies, sometime during the time period of Star Trek VI), mentions are made of Enterprise and the animated series, while several viewpoint segments are made from the perspective of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine crew.
    • At one point, characters from the author's other series, "Universe of Change", briefly communicate with the Federation of that day.
  • Culture Clash: The races of Babylon 5 have a wide range of mixed reactions to the Federation. Generally over the multi-species members of the Federation peacefully coexist without falling into racial strife and divisions.
    • The concept of Interspecies Romance is treated with a mixture of intrigue or outright disgust. The Minbari finds it utterly barbaric and disgusting. Certain racist members in the Earth Alliance such as William Clark derided Federation humans as "alien lovers."
    • The Federation has no problems concerning telepaths as they are socially accepted, whereas the Earth Alliance and Psi Corps are shocked that there are telepathic species such as the Betazoids exists and that telepaths in the Alpha Quadrant are without government supervision. Psi Corps attempted to recruit (human) Alpha Quadrant telepaths under their belief of 'protecting' them from people who despised them, but only to be rebuke and criticized as self-serving elitists. The Federation's tolerance towards telepaths convinced a group of telepathic refugees to seek political asylum in Federation space which sparked a diplomatic dispute between the Federation, the Alliance and Psi Corps.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Well, just about every single time the allies go against the Minbari, and even sometimes the Vorlons. The B5 powers are just that outmatched in terms of speed, firepower, durability (at least while the shields are up), and actual combat experience. It's hard not to feel sorry for the Minbari.
    • As time goes on, Minbari start to get upgrades from the Vorlons, which make battles much harder for the Federation, and the Minbari do learn from mistakes. So do their much stronger cousin, the Ashen... to the point where the longer the story goes, the fewer and farther between the curbstomps come.
    • However, even the Ashen can't change things for much longer since they were also being completely outclassed.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: The Minbari and Ashen occasionally get a few kills against the Federation and Klingons. Probably the biggest example of this was when a Klingon fleet decided to simply charge in with no strategy against an Ashen fleet. The Klingons won, but took a lot more casualties than they needed to.
  • Deconstruction: The concept of Minbari "Honor" is quite thoroughly deconstructed, with multiple characters pointing out that there is no "Honor" in slaughtering foes who can't fight back, and many times the Minbari react to any losses with rationalizations and denial. In short, their version of honor tends to come across as a mean-spirited, spoiled bully who complains and whines to Daddy (the Vorlons) when their victims start actually fighting back.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Up until the Third Battle of Jericho, the Minbari still believed with Ashen and Vorlon help, they might still be able to prevail against the Federation, the Klingon Empire and the Earth Alliance in spite of the heavy losses they had suffered. Even after losing THAT battle, they still believed that they could turn things around by concentrating all their remaining forces at Minbar and bleed out the enemy coalition with a 'decisive battle'. They however finally crossed it by the time of the 'Ceasefire', as it finally dawned upon all the Minbari people that they cannot win the war.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Poor Alyt Aalaan was mentioned as a notable commander among the first Minbari casualties in the opening shots of the 'Third Battle of Jericho'.
  • Enemy Civil War: Between the Ashen and the Minbari, as of chapter 79, over severe disagreements regarding the Minbari's ceasefire with the Federation, Klingons and the Earth Alliance, beginning with Alyt Shaka and his squadron opening fire upon an Ashen squadron about to attack Uhura's ship performing reconnaissance (and being insulted by the Ashen captain), causing the growing tensions between the two peoples to boil over. By the time the civil war ended, much of civilization on Mnibar was levelled and 80% of the Minbari population were wiped out by urban warfare and orbital bombardment in less than six hours, while the Ashen forces and fleet were completely wiped out by both the Minbari and the arriving Federation/Klingon/Alliance forces
  • Enemy Mine:
    • The United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire had been at each others' throats for decades and had only just signed a peace treaty. Then the Minbari massacred a Federation colony and insulted the Klingons by destroying one of their patrol fleets and telling them to stay out of their affairs. Cue instant Federation-Klingon alliance going after the Minbari Federation.
    • Subverted for the Minbari regarding seeking possible assistance from the Romulans against the Federation and the Klingons: as far as the Minbari are concerned, an enemy of my enemy is merely their enemy's enemy, nothing more, and owing to the severe Culture Clash and technological disparity they are already facing with just the Federation, they would not dare risk having another Alpha Quadrant power into their confidence, since either they would not get along or the Romulans might end up dominating the Minbari.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Minbari and even the Vorlons themselves come to see the Ashen reinforcements as too wild, ruthless and fanatical for their tastes. That is saying something since the former is waging a war of genocide over the death of one Minbari and the latter are Abusive Precursors who created the Ashen as weapons of war against the Shadows to begin with.
    • General Chang of the Klingon Empire, the Token Evil Teammate among the war-leaders of the Federation/Empire/Alliance coalition despises Kruge like other Klingons. Less that Kruge killed Kirk's son and being a despicable bastard in general, but more that Chang himself was foolish enough to pick an idiot like him to do the dirty work of getting the Genesis Device.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • As part of the new Federation/Klingon alliance, Kor assures Kirk that he and other Klingons condemn Kruge's actions on Genesis and regret that Kirk lost his son in such a manner.
    • None of the other "elder races," or "first ones," such as the Metrons, Medusans, Organians, or even Q like the Vorlons. The Shadows and the Melkotians don't like them either, but they have a history to back it up.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The Federation classifies Gorn ships by Dinosaur name. The flagship of the Gorn group that arrives at Beccara Alpha One is a Tyrannosaurus rex class dreadnought.
    • Interestingly, the whole thing started as a joke – some "wise guy" at Starfleet Headquarters started labeling Gorn ship classes after Dinosaurs. When the Gorn found out, and found out the reverence that humans placed on "The large collections of bones in those old museums", they not only found it hilarious, but also took great pride in it. Now, they're almost certainly naming their ship classes to screw with Starfleet Intelligence.
  • External Ret Con: The Vorlons led the Dominion into the Dominion War. The Vorlons and the Dominion are for Order, and the Federation and its allies are sheer chaos just a wormhole away.
    • Humorously, Tomalak, a Romulan officer who played a semi-major role in The Next Generation, is shown to be the son of the Romulan Ambassador from Star Trek V. Made especially funny because (adult) Tomalak is played by the same actor as G'Kar.
    • Also, the Vree's "Dimensional Slip" technology came from reverse-engineered tech from an abandoned Iconian outpost.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: William Clark is hailed by the Earth Alliance public as a hero for sacrificing his life to save civilians on Titan, when in reality he was saving his own ass at the expense of others.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The events of this story are interspersed with occasional looks into the future of the ATV-verse, including Sisko and Picard. The war ends with the remnants of the Minbari Federation signing an agreement with the Federation/Klingon alliance, followed by close to a century of cold war with the Vorlons, who eventually lead the Dominion to war with the Federation and help along the Ciona Imperix in their attempt to dominate the Alpha Quadrant races in the name of Order. Meanwhile, the Narn Regime and the Centauri Republics join the United Federation of Planets.
    • Many consider the inevitable conflict between the United Federation of Planets and the Vorlon Empire to be this in favor of the Federation. True to the predictions of the Collaboration of Elder Races, the civilizations of the Alpha Quadrant continue to advance and expand at breakneck speeds which the Vorlon Empire frowned at, while the Vorlons themselves despite their manipulations and buildup are still largely stuck in the level of development a century before due to their stagnation. The war between them would likely be quite damaging on either sides, but the Vorlons are not likely to win this, and members of the Collaboration, from the Medusans to even Q, are working behind to scenes to head off issues like the Borg troubling the Federation in order to give them a clear run against the 'Orderlies'.
  • Foreshadowing: Alternate Universe Admiral Janeway from the Future warns of four separate threats: The Vorlons, "a race of cyborgs", "aliens from another universe", and "a hostile government in the Gamma Quadrant". While Kirk and the others of the time ponder over who these enemies could possibly be, hindsight tells the audience that she's referring to (respectively) The Borg, either Species 8472 (AKA The Undine) or the Thirdspace Aliens, and the Dominion.
  • The Fundamentalist: The Ashen, an offshoot of the Minbari which the Vorlon saved from Minbar during ancient times before they were annihilated by rival tribes, genetically enhanced and given advanced technology, and were told that they were the 'warriors of light' who exists, are all this by default, practically worshipping the Vorlons as gods and nearly all are willing to die to destroy the enemies of Light (i.e. any alien culture the Vorlon deems too dangerous or potentially pawns of the Shadows). They are so fanatical in fact it unnerves their Minbari cousins and even the Vorlons, to the point they deem them too uncontrollable to be relied on, and this fanaticism causes as much harm as it contributed to the Minbari's cause.
  • Fusion Fic: Between Babylon 5 and Star Trek. What makes "A Thin Veneer" this instead of a crossover between parallel universes, is that the Earth Alliance and the Babylon 5 setting actually both exist in the same galaxy as the United Federation of Planets and Star Trek setting, albeit separated by 60,000 light-years of space. This was cited as possible result of astro/social-cultural engineering on a colossal scale by ancient Precursors even older and more powerful than the Vorlons and Shadows, possibly the same ones who also built the Hyperspace Tunnels which connected the two regions of the galaxy and even now still move, if not outright copy, whole planets and their inhabitants through those transit ways. While the EA Humans and other B5-verse characters were completely bewildered and stupefied by this, Federation and other ST-verse characters merely reacted with mild surprise and curiosity, since Starfleet had encountered copies of the Solar System and astronomically displaced Human populations before, whether discovered by USS Enterprise and other ships, and had already started suspecting this by the time the Federation/Klingon-Minbari War began.
  • Hope Spot: For a moment, with the surrender of the Minbari Federation by the Grey Council and the immediate ceasefire ending hostilities, the destruction of Minbar and most of the Minbari people by orbital bombardment from Starfleet may be averted. Then tensions between the volatile Minbari and their fanatical Ashen brethren boiled over and a Civil War erupts, which by the time it ended left civilization on Minbar levelled and 80% of the population killed in the brutal fighting and orbital bombardment.
  • The First Ones' Hands Are Tied: The Vorlons WANT to intervene more with the Federation/Klingon-Minbari War, but are prevented from interfering by the First Ones of the Alpha Quadrant, leaving them unable to do more than to give what little techno-trinkets they could to the Minbari to even the odds a bit and sending their long-lost Ashen brethren to double their fleet size - neither of which are much help beyond delaying the inevitable. Meanwhile the Collaboration of Elder Races does not do much to support their charges, both because they don't need it and also because of their belief that younger civilizations should grow and develop on their own with minimum interference and aid from their elders.
  • Guile Hero: Commodore Acaltha of Starfleet, full-stop. An imaginative, cunning, experienced, and occasionally ruthless strategist, Acaltha is able to use a brilliant combination of trickery, technology, and tactics to defeat the Minbari, despite often being outgunned and even outnumbered by the Minbari in multiple battles, seeking every fatal flaw of Minbari ships, doctrines, and mentalities, and squeezing every advantage out of them for all they are worth by anticipating how they would act or react and planning accordingly. Even General Chang of the Klingon Empire is impressed by him and his conduct of war, seeing him as one of the few Federation commanders actually worthy of his respect. As Acaltha explained to one of his subordinate commanders, war is like a 4D-chess game, and as with those games, it is paramount to be ahead of the enemy not just one step, or two steps, but every single step of the way.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Becomes a notable plot point – between close racial interactions, progressive social views, and advanced Federation technology, the Federation has many hybrids within their diverse populations and they are accepted and celebrated without prejudice or intolerance. To the much more insular, xenophobic, and reactionary Babylon 5-verse nations and cultures, however, this practice and tolerance is viewed with horror and disgust, contributing to the Minbari and even some Earthers perceiving the Federation as a "mongrel power" of depraved savages wielding technologies too advanced for their station whom they cannot surrender to or negotiate with. Some of the Minbari are so disgusted that one Alyt even outright declares that the Federation humans are worse than the Earther humans when he hears this from Kirk, and many keep fighting out of the misguided belief that defeat and surrender would result in the Federation spreading or even enforcing such practices upon them, diluting and degrading their gene pool and racial purity.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Alyt Aalaan is presented as a much more reasonable, cool-headed, and competent commander among the Minbari who is not as arrogant or narrow-minded as his colleagues, and might have eventually come to see the folly of the war and the Minbari's cause... Then comes the news that the Shadows are real and have made contact with the Federation at their space station in Becerra Alpha One, along with information concerning Alpha Quadrant ways of life, such as tolerance for alien hybrids. The horrifying revelation of the Shadows' existence and his instinctive fear and ingrained cultural attitudes makes him, like many other Minbari, immediately double down on their support for the genocidal war, either out of the belief that the Shadows had or would corrupt the Federation or that they cannot have peace with such a 'degenerate' alien culture as the Federation. The Third Battle of Jericho puts an end to any hope of Aalaan pulling a Heel–Face Turn completely, with Alyt Aalaan being among the first casualties in the terrible battle which follows.
  • Humiliation Conga:
    • Commodore Acaltha actively weaponizes this with calculated blows against Minbari morale and beliefs in his part of the offensive campaigns against the Minbari Federation proper, especially following the Minbari broadcast. His reasoning is that Minbari pride and fanaticism is preventing the Minbari from realizing their war is a lost cause and giving them strength to continue resisting, and so to counter this and make the Minbari surrender faster, he aims to undermine it through things such as spectacular routs of Minbari forces and hacked broadcasts in order to demonstrate the allied forces' overwhelming technological and numerical superiority over the Minbari as well as their determination to use them, while spreading fear, doubt and uncertainty among Minbari military and civilian ranks to demoralize them and make them question their folly.
  • How Unscientific!: When the ship from Babylon 5's Earth realizes for the first time that the new ship has warp drive – which is strictly forbidden by Babylon 5 physics, but which is the only way to explain the sensor readings.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: The fic continues the Babylon 5 tradition of making humans community builders, and the prologue reveals that the Narn and the Centauri have joined the Federation in the future.
    • Someone at Starfleet decided to classify Gorn ships with dinosaur names. When the Gorn find out, the Gorn ambassador thinks that this is an honor, and their battleship program is rumored to be called Godzilla! Four of their ships that come to the Earth Alliance's side of the galaxy are named after dragons or monsters: Mothra, Rodan, Fafner, and Smaug. Except, of course, for the GCF Fires Of Regulus.
  • I Do Not Own: And neither does anyone else. Explicit permission is given for anyone to copy this story as long as they leave the credits. The credits mention many works, including all vs. of canonical Star Trek extant at the time.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: A major weakness of the Minbari early in the conflict is that they constantly judge the Federation by their own standards, unable to conceive of the idea of the Federation as a mixture of species where all are treated as equals and assuming that the Federation's powerful ships require more regular maintenance than they actually do.
  • Irony: The Federation notes that the Minbari accidentally killing the Clan Leader of one of the Gorn Homeworlds has more than a few similarities to how their war with humanity began – a tragic misunderstanding accidentally killing a highly culturally-significant figure, and the nation-state of the cultural figure swearing revenge.
  • It's All About Me: When the Minbari learn that Kirk has been promoted to Admiral, they assume that this is solely because of his recent victory over their forces, when in reality Kirk has just been returned to a previously-lost rank as the closest thing Starfleet has to a genuine military commander based on his long experience.
  • Lady of War: A hilarious Call-Back to Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Uhura has become the captain of the USS Knowles, and the loud-mouthed ensign from the transporter room who was more concerned with the granny portion gets stepped on rather firmly when she reminds him of the badass part.
  • Last Stand: The Battle of Minbar, following the disastrous Minbari defeat at the Third Battle of Jericho, with the Minbari's realization that they simply cannot fight the Federation and Klingons even with the help of their Ashen brethren and decides to concentrate what remained of their military force at Minbar for a decisive battle, where they hope to either pull a win and cripple the Federation/Empire/Alliance forces and turn the war around, or go out fighting to the bitter end as a people. The subsequent ceasefire with the Federation/Empire/Alliance and Enemy Civil War between the Minbari and the Ashen complicates the plan somewhat.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Minbari, and very definitely the Vorlons and the Ashen. For all of their preaching about being the Light against the Darkness, their attempted genocide of humanity, and their frequent talks later in the series about using biological weaponry, puts paid to any trace of their benevolence.
  • Lightning Bruiser: One of the biggest advantages Starfleet and the Klingons have over the Minbari is the fact that, thanks to their Warp Drives and Warp Coils, their starships can outfly and out-maneuver not just the Minbari but everyone else in the B5-verse in both interplanetary and interstellar space, which, when combined with their durability via Deflector Shields and the firepower of their Phasers and Photon Torpedoes, gives them strategic and tactical options and superiority which the Minbari and even the Ashen struggle to match. Minbari war-cruisers had been described as like 'arthritic tortoises' when compared to the Alpha Quadrant ships, while the Minbari thinks Federation and Klingon starships are like 'crazed insects in heat' when they move and attack with blistering speeds.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Vorlons are this to the Minbari and the Ashen.
    • They also pushed the Dominion into going to war with the Federation, and encouraged another race to try and take over the Federaton.
    • The Ashen and the Minbari accuse the Shadows of being this for the Federation, even after the Shadows go on ISN and say that no, they have nothing to do with the Federation, and that they've signed a treaty of non-aggression with them.
  • Moral Myopia:
    • The Minbari attitude toward their defeats. When they are winning their war of genocide and everyone's cowering in fear of their superiority, all's well in the universe, but when they are losing against an actually competent and technically-superior opponent, it's somehow their enemies who are honourless cowards who don't fight fair. They had been compared to spoiled, bullying brats who have been doted on and pampered too long by their Vorlon benefactors at certain points. Later, the Minbari are shown up at this by the Ashen.
    • The Vorlons themselves are this, due to their obsession with order and control, reacting with petulant outrage and fury over any interference with their affairs and work by others, yet showing no hesitation in deeply messing with the younger races and civilizations under their influence on a cultural and even genetic level to forcefully 'guide' them, even if it results in disaster.
      • During the Third Battle of Jericho, the Vorlons, itching to help their Minbari subjects more and even enter the war on their side, deliberately attempt to provoke hostilities by jumping a ship in to stop Federation, Empire, and Alliance forces from firing upon the Minbari being routed, then 'accidentally' decimate some of said forces by opening a jump-point into hyperspace right in midst of their ranks to depart, barely giving them enough warning and time to move. While they had hoped this would piss the combined allied forces enough to start a war between them while still looking like an innocent victim, the Vorlon crew and the Vorlon Empire have the audacity to be outraged when the Federation forces actually retaliate to the Vorlon's own blatant act of aggression by firing photon torpedoes right up the exhaust vents of their departing vessel and actually destroying it. Naturally, while the Vorlons still feel like they are the wronged party in all of this, none of the Alpha Quadrant 'First Ones' buy their paper-thin excuses and repeat their threat to enter the war on the Alpha Quadrant races' behalf if the Vorlons dare to escalate matters.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • A Starfleet commander wonders how far their morals have fallen when she almost destroys a refugee ship of telepaths wanting to escape the Psi-Corps' grasp. To be fair, they were acting very suspiciously (because they didn't want to be sent back or treated as cannon fodder), but it still doesn't help matters.
    • The Minbari leadership collectively have one when they finally realize and accept that the Federation are NOT just a wayward Lost Colony of Earthers, but an entirely different interstellar civilization with hundreds of billions of Humans and other races who were completely unaware of the war they are waging against their B5-Verse counterparts, and are now pissed off beyond comprehension for the Minbari massacring one of their colonies. They are less concerned about slaughtering innocents (A different Human is still a Human, and the other aliens are collateral) and even tried to justify how a war between them would had been inevitable anyway due to the severe Culture Clash between them - what horrifies them more is that they just provoked an entire interstellar superpower (actually two, counting the Klingon Empire) with enough firepower, resources, and numbers to actually threaten Minbar into coming after them.
  • Mythology Gag: Sheridan, when he first appears, is surprised that he doesn't feel disgust at the idea of half-human hybrids in the Federation, or at humans mating with aliens. In the canon Babylon 5 story, he eventually marries and has children with Delenn, a Minbari.
    • The Gorn have given Kirk the epithet "Bamboo Warrior", for how he constructed a cannon using nothing but available materials and bamboo.
    • An admiral comments to Kirk how "The Cardassians are a war waiting to happen", which Kirk brushes off. The Cardassians ultimately do go to war with the Federation (a minor conflict for the Federation, considering the many ways that the Federation outmatch the Cardassian Empire, but still causing Federation casualties) and are minor antagonists throughout later seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, then major ones (active participants in the Dominion War) in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
    • One of the criticisms that an EA professor levies against the Federation is nearly word-for-word a scathing condemnation delivered by Michael Eddington in Deep Space Nine.
    • One of the Narn dishes presented to the Federation ambassador is identical to Swedish Meatballs, which was a minor joke in Babylon 5: every species, no matter what, comes up with a food that is identical to Swedish Meatballs.
    • A conversation between Delenn and Jha'dur borrows much from a conversation between the latter and Commander Sinclair in the episode named after the latter's sobriquet. The difference, however, is The episode of the series used the words to imply that Earth will become the monsters the Dilgar were upon gaining her life serum, while A Thin Veneer uses the conversation to parallel the Minbari to the Dilgar for use of biological weaponry.
  • No-Sell:
    • When the Excelsior arrives in orbit of Earth, the ship is battered by nuclear missiles as part of a panicked attempt at defense before they realize that it's an unfamiliar vessel, and when the barrage ceases to reveal that the Excelsior is undamaged, Sulu nonchalantly hails Earth to ask if they've finished firing and "politely" request that they not attack his ship again.
    • On a non-military level: When Warmaster Jha'dur escapes Minbari custody and reaches the Federation starbase Becerra Alpha One, she attemptes to manipulate the Federation to give her asylum and even positions of power with promise of revealing the secret of the life-extension serum she developed. Much to her frustration, she was having an audience with Ambassador Sarek, who stoically turned her offer down and informed her that the Federation, unlike the B5-verse powers, would never compromise their principles for the sake of immortality, having turned down similar offers in the past for the same reasons.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Many Federation technologies are considered normal, even weak for the setting, but are very effective against the Minbari simply because they have had no exposure to these technologies'
    • Of particular note are tricobolt explosives. While they've been largely phased out in the Federation due to the prevalence of more effective antimatter explosives and their ineffectiveness against shields, the tricobolt devices have the unique benefit of royally screwing up Minbari gravity drives (the fact that they have no shields also helps a lot).
  • Poor Communication Kills: Aside from the backstory, where thanks to this, the Earth/Minbari war started, a lot of problems could have been avoided if the Minbari had sat down with the Federation and the Klingons and simply talked to them. As it stands, they offended the Klingons and assume that the Federation is a strange, mongrel power under the control of the Shadows and the Vulcans, seeking to bring all races under their control.
    • Inverted with the Gorn, who grew fascinated with the Federation because the Federation was willing to apologize for its mistakes during First Contact, something that no other alien race had done to them up to that point.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Commodore Acaltha and several other Starfleet characters in this story have never appeared in Star Trek canon, but are depicted as fellow classmates of Kirk and Spock at Starfleet Academy and known acquaintances with established reputations. In Acaltha's case, this is justified partly due to him leaving Starfleet after twenty years of service following an incident involving use of questionable means to interrogate Orion slavers/pirates to find out where they took a kidnapped school of Federation children and had spent the next twenty years working in Federation Express, before he, his ship, and every other starship with their crew which Federation Express has were "volunteered" for the war effort and he was given back command for the duration of the conflict.
  • Salt the Earth: The Ashen United Front attempted to do this to Minbar as the Federation/Empire/Alliance forces close in and Civil War erupts between the Minbari and Ashen. The Minbari managed to hold them off long enough for the coalition to arrive and wipe out the remaining Ashen forces, though Minbar was still severely damaged and much of its population was killed.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Minbari, as they did in canon, want to commit complete genocide against humanity for accidentally killing one of their leaders. Their estranged cousins, the Ashen, are even worse, being willing to Destroy Minbar and all of its population for considering surrender.
  • Shout-Out: The Gorn battleship program is rumored to be called Godzilla. The names of two of the ships in the mini-fleet they bring include Mothra and Rodan, more Godzilla monsters.
    • Another ship is the Smaug, named after the dragon from The Hobbit.
    • When Kirk is going over some of the officers participating in the war, he mentions that he used to work on a ship with Ted Stryker and Buck Murdock, and even mentions Stryker's Drinking Problem.
    • At one point, Acaltha mentions that the Klingons are as bad about leaping before they look as the Kzinti (although this is only a semi-example, since the Kzinti are more-or-less canon as existing in the Star Trek universe already).
    • Commodore Acaltha's trap in the Berlin system includes an electronic warfare attack the Minbari garrison force, complete with suddenly-blacked-out-then-returned computer displays being overrun with laughing skull-and-crossbones.
    • Delenn's conversation with Jha'dur, AKA Deathwalker is very similar in tone to the conversation between Agent Starling and Dr. Lecter, even including a jab implying Delenn only got her position because of Dukhat fantasizing about her, much as Lecter implied about Crawford.
  • Stealth in Space: Multiple variants were featured in this story, both from sides of the conflict surprisingly enough.
    • The Klingons' cloaked warships wreak absolute havoc in convoy raiding and set-piece engagements against the Minbari, who have never encountered such unnatural technology before and have no way of defending against it. Later on, the Minbari find ways to detect them by crisscrossing space with tachyon beams, but this come with downside of presenting the Klingons with extra emissions for their weapons to track and target.
    • The Vorlons, as part of their help to the Minbari, later gave the Minbari an enormous controlled 'Space Amoeba' creature like the one Captain Kirk had encountered during his famous five-year expedition into space, which generates a fleet-sized cloaking field enabling a Minbari taskforce to sneak up on and ambush a Federation/Klingon fleet at the Jericho system.
    • In earlier battles for the control of the Jericho system, Commodore Acaltha had been able to achieve stealth in space without a cloaking device simply by having his taskforce positioned in places where the Minbari, or any of the B5-verse powers would be able to scan or travel to due to their technological limitations, such as hiding within the atmosphere of a gas giant, the electromagnetic emissions of which makes it a 'sensor-mess' even by Federation standards, or hiding his fleet in the Oort Cloud of the Jericho system, which is too far away for the limited propulsion systems of the B5-powers to be bothered searching to begin with.
  • Stealth Pun: There's a presidential aide for the Earth Alliance whose name is "Hastur". His name is only mentioned three times.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Once again, Kirk is in fine form in this story. Not in the sense that he wants to be the one to defeat the Minbari, but in the sense that yet another group of aliens wants him dead, and demands that they be the ones to tear off his head. Bonus points for the Klingons still being upset about the peace treaty because it means they won't get to fight "The Great Enemy" anymore.
  • Title Drop: As Kirk tries to convince Delenn to stop the war.
    "We're only, at best, half civilized. This thin veneer of civilization we share is the only imaginary line that keeps us from acting out our own darkest impulses. It allows our 'humanity' to resist justifying butchery. You call yourselves civilized, but you're tottering on the brink mindless savagery just to satisfy your egos. Yes, we are aware of what is happening right now at Earth. Right now, your people are desperately trying to force your way to Earth. To do what? Kill in the name God-in this case a memory of a leader you revered. But, instead of asking that a world be sacrificed, you can exercise your civilized ideals and say 'stop'."
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Discussed by Valeris and Kirk. The two converse about whether their involvement in the Earth-Minbari War constituted a violation of the Prime Directive. Kirk eventually states that the Prime Directive was "not written with a finger of flame on the walls, 'Thou Shall Not Butt In'", and that sometimes there are moral imperatives more important than the written law, something Kirk is very familiar with.
  • Understatement: When Sarek is talking with President Elizabeth Levy and she asks him what it's like living with a human, he acknowledges that it is fascinating and confesses, "My logic is uncertain when it comes to she who is my wife". Even though she has spent little time with Sarek by this point, President Levy privately muse that even a blind man could see that Sarek loves his wife no matter how emotionless he claims he is.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Commodore Acaltha is depicted as having traits of this, as more details are revealed about his present reputation and past career in Starfleet. His use of questionable means to interrogate captured Orion pirates over where they had taken a school of Federation children to be sold to slavery - namely, spacing one of them out of an airlock to force the rest to talk - allowed him to rescue the kidnapped children, but cost him his career (and he declared if necessary he would do it again). During the war, he is fine with the Klingons working with him using their 'Mind-sifter' telepaths extract critical information from the Minbari (despite the high chances of insanity or death from the practice) against the objections of one of his captains, and is not above using every trick both clever and dirty he and his crew can think of to gain an advantage over and defeat his Minbari opponents, leaving the Minbari to believe the Andorian is no better than a barbaric pirate scum of the worst sort, second only to Kirk.
  • We Have Become Complacent: Throughout the fic, many characters both within and outside Minbar have noted that a thousand years of technological supremacy and having no equals to watch out for or fight against, have caused the Minbari to become complacent, leaving them completely wrong-footed when the even-more advanced and battle-hardened Federation and Klingons arrived to help the Earth Alliance and give them a fighting chance. Minbari commanders such as Alyt Sarhat and Shaka repeatedly find themselves falling into traps and to strategems created by cunning, experienced, and imaginative commanders such as Commodore Acaltha, and getting their fleets decimated if not outright destroyed by technologically-superior forces despite outgunning and outnumbering the enemy by a considerable margin, while Minbari commanders such as Alyt Aalaan and Alyt Darcannon stand out among the Minbari for noticing and trying to remedy this and make them more dangerous opponents for the Alliance/Federation/Empire.
    • Characters from the Alpha Quadrant are also aware of this possibility and remain vigilant to avoid falling into the same trap. At several points, several Federation characters complain about how certain politicians back home - whom they derisively dubbed the 'Peace At Any Price' Party or PAAP-ers - wanted to effectively gut Starfleet with budget cuts and restrictions on weaponry as soon as the peace treaty with the Klingon Empire is concluded, and were only prevented from doing so by the outbreak of hostilities with the Minbari. Also, the only times the Minbari achieve any notable victories against the factions from Star Trek was when they left their guard down, from Klingon bloodlust and resulting carelessness in convoy raids and boarding actions resulting in ships and crews suffering preventable losses, to a whole Federation fleet being trapped between a planet and a Minbari fleet and getting wiped out late in the war. Also, part of the reason why Kirk was given back his Admiral status was because, out of all the commanders in Starfleet, he was the only one with enough experience to qualify as an overall war leader, since while they had had their Space Cold War with the Klingons and squabbles with the Romulans, they haven't had a serious conflict for quite a long while.
    • The Vorlons are so obsessed with order and so superior to other races in their sector of space, save for the Shadows, that they themselves, like the Minbari, are left stagnant and reactionary, barely advancing for millennia and believing they have nothing to fear from younger races. The Federation's ability to smash their chosen race the Minbari to bits, disrupt their plans, and even destroy one of their vessels at the tail-end of the "Third Battle of Jericho" leaves the Vorlons quite horrified and enraged, and it's noted that given a century or three, the Federation is likely to match and even outpace the Vorlons (and the Shadows) in technological mastery, leaving them likely to lose the inevitable war between them.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: The Shadows win their ideological conflict with the Vorlons simply by having the Federation and the Klingons show up, proving (in their eyes) that conflict leads to strength.
  • Worthy Opponent: Several Klingons reveal that many among them consider Kirk to be this, calling him the "Great Enemy" and expressing both regret that he wasn't born into their Empire and they won't get to fight him with the peace treaty between the Federation and the Empire, and ecstatic that they get to fight alongside him with the outbreak of the Federation/Klingon-Minbari War. Kor even takes time to apologise to Kirk for Kruge killing Kirk's son David, affirming that he and other Klingons condemn what Kruge did on Genesis.

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