As the expanding corners of his consciousness drifted back together, the being once known as Jason Ironheart spread his awareness, taking in his surroundings.
He was drifting in space, not far from the space station Babylon 5, and he could see the ripples of energy resulting from his transformation, his ascension.
For an infinite moment of thought he feared that the ripples would rend the station asunder, but a warm golden light radiated out from the centre on the station, and the waves dissipated upon contact, fading into the background energy of the universe.
The warm light reached out to him, and his consciousness was filled with a sense of surprise, and welcome.
It was the Vorlon. He had known that the Vorlon Empire had broken with all known tradition and despatched an ambassador to represent them on Babylon 5. What he hadn’t known was that within their fabled encounter suits the Vorlons were beings of thought, energy and will; as he had become.
Was this, then, the final result of evolution for sentient beings? Was he the final stage of humanity? Did any being that lived long enough eventually develop past the need for a purely physical form?
He did not realise that he was projecting these thoughts as questions to the Vorlon until he received a sense of patient amusement.
Were he still so enabled, he would have blushed. He was a telepath, had been a telepath, he knew how to shield and contain his thoughts.
The Vorlon’s golden light intensified for a moment, and an image coalesced in his mind’s eye; the galaxy turning.
Slowly the stars darkened, until the only points of light were like the Vorlon, and like him.
A broad swathe of lights in different colours and intensities which he perceived as the territories claimed under the flag of the Vorlon Empire.
A handful of lights that were similar yet different, including one which blazed like a burning torch and came with a mental impression of ‘do NOT disturb’.
And finally, the brightest light of all, a warmth and brilliance which could be perceived from clear across the galaxy, in spite of the fact that it was nearly smothered by a darkness, a shadow which wrapped around a world on the rim, and was slowly spreading towards the rest of the galaxy.
As they perceived that light, the Vorlon’s sense radiated melancholy, but not enough to hide a reverence and something he could only describe as longing.
As suddenly as the image had appeared it vanished again, and yet did not, the knowledge burned into his mind.
And he realised what it was.
He was the first of his kind to reach this stage, to become like the ancient races which walked the stars. They were ancient, and had ways, thoughts and grudges which he would likely never truly understand.
The Vorlon was giving him a map so he did not accidentally aggravate a being which could snuff him out, even in this newly elevated form.
He sent back a wave of appreciation, and felt amusement again.
And then, a thought so clear it might as well have been spoken, and with a distinctly paternal air.
‘The universe is yours to explore. Just stay out of trouble.’
When the Vorlon’s consciousness withdrew, he realised almost immediately that the faintest glimmer of that warm, golden light had remained, upon the outermost edges of his presence.
He sent a wordless query, and received what was unmistakably the sense of a sly grin.
‘Just in case.’