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Fanfic / A Thin Veneer

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

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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 be 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.
  • 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 agressive 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.
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  • 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''.
  • Character Development: Several on both sides of the war, but a notable example is a Minbari commander named Chaka. 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 ship 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.
  • 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 Aschen... 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.
  • 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.
  • Enemy Civil War: Between the Aschen and the Minbari, as of chapter 79.
  • Even First Ones Have Standards: None of the other "elder races," or "first ones," such as the Metrons, Medusans, Organians, or even Q like the Vorlons. The Shadows don't like them either, but they have a history to back it up.
  • Everyone Has Standards: As part of the new Federation/Klingon alliance, Kor assures Kirk that he and other Klingons condemn Kurge's actions on Genesis and regret that Kirk lost his son in such a manner.
  • 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 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 Republic 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.
  • 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.
  • Fusion Fic: Between Babylon 5 and Star Trek.
  • 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.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Minbari, and very definitely the Vorlons and the Aschen. 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 put paid to any trace of their benevolence.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Vorlons are this to the Minbari and the Aschen.
    • They also pushed the Dominion into going to war with the Federation, and encouraged another race to try and take over the Federaton.
    • The Aschen 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.
    • Later, the Minbari are shown up at this by the Aschen.
  • 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 suspicious (because they didn't want to be sent back or treated as cannon fodder), but it still doesn't help matters.
  • 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 married and had children with Delenn, a Minbari.
    • The Gorn call Kirk "Bamboo Warrior," for how he constructed a cannon with nothing but available materials and bamboo.
    • An admiral is commenting to Kirk how "The Cardassians are a war waiting to happen," while Kirk brushes him off. The Cardassians were minor antagonists through later seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and 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 defence before they realise 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 Kill 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 of 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."
  • 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.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: The Federation has labeled a Gorn dreadnought design as the Tyrannosaurus Rex-class ship. The Gorn love it.
  • 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", prompting President Levy to privately muse that, regardless of the limited time she has spent with the Vulcan, even a blind man could see that Sarek loves his wife.
  • 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.


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