...et Willelm ad Pervensae Venit
Andrew C


A few miles from the monk’s hut, they came to a village called 
Bosham, and Nick got them rooms at the local Best Western. It was, of 
course, a complete hovel, but it had a roof and shutters on the 
windows, and that was all it needed to have. No one questioned the man 
in armor with a boy, here. Father and son, knight and squire; it was 
common enough. Sitting in the inn’s common room, Nick closed his eyes, 
and let the surroundings carry him back across the centuries. After so 
long in the filtered, purified, recycled environment of Alpha, he’d 
nearly forgotten the smells of home. Wine, sweat, smoke, urine, horse 
shit, and other things. In the back, he could both hear and smell meat 
cooking. As usual it made his stomach churn, though not so much as it 
once would have. Obviously, Nat’s potions and therapies were having 
some sort of effect. 

He opened his eyes, and watched Jackie eat. Obviously, roast meat 
agreed with him, after the reprocessed everything of Alpha. He was 
devouring the hunk of boar and the bowl of some sort of porridge with 
gusto. Thank God he’s not a fussy eater, thought Nick, who had even 
allowed him a little wine, as well. Nick had tasted his first wine at 
seven, under his mother’s watchful eye, and it had done him no harm. It 
might also look a little out of place here, if he did not. He sipped 
his own wine, a somewhat passable vintage, and recognized it with some 
surprise as coming from his own family’s vineyards. How utterly 
bizarre, he thought, to have come all this way, and to run into a 
family export!

Apparently, it was song night at the Medieval Bar and Grill, and 
each of the patrons sang a verse of some ditty, then passed the harp on 
to another. Nick agreed, and began a love lay that his mother had 
taught him, when he was barely old enough to hold the instrument in his 
little hands. He must have been in good voice, for he was asked to play 
again, and did so, till he felt a tingling at the edges of his 
awareness. Vampires! Others of his kind, and very close. Even as he 
stretched out his feelings, he heard them on the steps of the inn. 

The door opened, admitting a gust of chill, wet wind, and the 
three of them entered. From his corner, Nick watched as they shook out 
their cloaks, and were shown to seats near the fire. They, of course, 
sensed his presence as well, and turned, looking about the room, at 
last fixing their eyes upon him. Nick passed the harp on to the next 

LaCroix had the same arrogant look of disdain as always, as he 
took in the place. Nick could almost hear him decrying the quality of 
prey, hereabouts. Janette, as usual, was trying to keep her obscenely 
expensive clothes clean here, and the third…

The third was Aristotle! Aristotle, the master forger, who more 
than once had helped Nick vanish from one life into another. Need a new 
ID? Passport? Work history? Tax returns going back 20 years? Aristotle 
was your guy.

And yet here he was, back in 1066 with Janette and LaCroix, and 
the answer to one of Nick’s most puzzling personal questions. How could 
he possibly have known Aristotle in that year, when he would not even 
be born for well over a century? That, and he would not even become a 
vampire until 1228.

Nicholas had first met Aristotle in late 16th Century England. By 
then, he was already a master of forgery and false identities. Though 
he would never say whether or not he was the Aristotle, the student of 
the great Plato and tutor of Alexander The Great, Nick knew for a fact 
that his Greek, make that ancient Greek, was flawless. They had met at 
a party, given by an English Lord, to which LaCroix had gotten invited 
somehow. Aristotle was “something” in Queen Elizabeth’s court, and 
they’d been introduced. After the festivities, the drinking, and the 
feeding, Aristotle gave Nick profuse thanks. 

“For?” he asked Aristotle. For saving his life at the Battle of 
Hastings of course, Aristotle told him. Surprised, Nick explained to 
him that he hadn’t been there, hadn’t even been born, yet. It wasn’t 
until 1198 that his mother had given birth to…

“’Faith, tis manifestly thee, Good Nicholas,” said the other. 
“Never have I forgotten thee, or thy help.”

“But, truth…”

“Nay, I know tis a secret that LaCroix keeps from the Council. It 
mattereth naught to me if he chooseth to vouchsafe it unto none. His 
secret and thine shall stay so.”


“But I am in thy debt, Young Nicholas”. Aristotle looked about 
furtively, as if he expected hoards of mortals with crosses and stakes 
to suddenly burst in, or the Enforcers to descend upon them like 
snowflakes. “Thou hast but to come to me, Nicholas. Papers, passports, 
letters of credit, all of them. They are thine, without expense, 
forever. Not a groat shall they cost thee.”


“Oh here you are,” said Janette, all ruffles and folds and frills, 
suddenly interrupting. “Do come, boys,” she said, in her condescending 
way. “Lord Burleigh has arrived.” 

Nick shook his head, returning to the “present”. Janette had 
smiled at him, and had the landlord send him over a tankard of wine.

“Nick!” said Jackie, between mouthfuls. “Look who it is. That’s 
the man you painted!”

“Hush, Jackie. Please,” said Nick, alarmed that the others might 
hear him over the din of the other customers. “Don’t mention that.”

“But Nick…”

“Jackie! And keep your voice down.” He hesitated to hypnotize 
Jackie, being both too fond of him, and suspecting that he was a 
resister as well. Obviously, things were getting thornier by the 
minute. He tasted the wine Janette had sent over. It was only just 
above Chateau d’Treatment Plant, but in it he tasted a few drops of her 
blood. Nick raised an eyebrow. An old custom, it signified that the 
offerer came in peace, and wasn’t trying to muscle in on anyone’s 
territory. Nick was surprised, having never actually seen it practiced 
in his time. He took another sip, and nodded, acknowledging her gift. 
He also sensed from her that she was horny.

How unusual.

“Nick, what’s going on?” asked Jackie once more, though a little 
quieter this time. “What are they doing here?”

“I’ll tell you later,” sighed Nick. He’d hypnotize him, and…

Janette and Aristotle rose, and came over to his table as soon as 
two other customers had left the inn. Having no choice, he bade them 
sit. LaCroix left the inn as well, off into the night. Nick did not 
have to wonder why. 

“My thanks,” he said to Janette, indicating the flagon of wine.

“Thou art welcome, good sir,” she replied, her eyes and expression 
as lustful as when he’d “first” met her, on the way home from the 
Crusades. “I am Janette duCharme, and this is my friend, Aristotle.” 
She indicated the other vampire. “And thou?”

“Nicholas”, he answered. “Nicholas deBrabant.” It didn’t matter, 
he decided. After all, there was such a noble family, even now, back 

“And who is this?” Janette asked, eyeing Jackie. She looked him up 
and down, this time with a different though no less real lust.

“This is Jacque,” he answered.

Jackie could just make out enough of the Old French to get the 
gist of their conversation. Something about this lady made him nervous. 
The way she looked at him was decidedly not maternal. As for the 
balding man with her, he never took his eyes off of him. But Jackie 
didn’t like being left out of things, having been the center of 
attention all his life, and rose up, offering his hand to the woman, 

“Bonem noctem, Domina,” he said, since his Old French wasn’t up to 
it. “Mihi nomen Jacobus est. Pergratum est te convinere.”

“Well,” said Janette, “let it never be said that the young have no 
manners.” She offered her hand, and he kissed her ring. “Mihi quidem 
volup est, juvenis Jacobus.”  She looked at him again, and Nick 
recognized that look. Janette was sizing Jackie up for his nutritional 
potential. He could hear her heart begin to beat rapidly, and her nose 

“No,” he said quietly in Old French, firmly locking eyes with her. 
“He is mine.” She nodded reluctantly, and he smiled. After all, in this 
time she was only a couple of centuries old, while he had the strength 
of eight. It would be no contest. Of course, should she appeal to 
LaCroix, it might be a different matter. She was, now, LaCroix’s 
favorite child, and he could refuse her little, indulging her much, 
much too often for her own good.

Such as in the matter of a certain French Crusader knight, 162 
years from now.

“Thy squire?” asked Aristotle, his pulse almost as loud to Nick as 

“Yes, after a fashion.” He looked down at Jackie, and squeezed his 
leg under the table. “I found him amongst the ruins of a monastery the 
Norsemen had burned in France. I kept him as my servant.”

“However dost thou resist such…succulence?’ asked Janette, eyes on 
Jackie, tongue stroking her teeth. Her eyes flashed for a brief moment.

“He did save my life from a Norseman that recognized me for what I 
am. Ran him through with a spear before the barbarian could take my 
head. I was in his debt. I made him my squire. My protégé.”

“Doth he know?” asked Aristotle?”

“Indeed. There was no way to hide it, and he is a resister. One 
day, if he wisheth it, I shall bring him across.”

With that, he could feel the others back off a bit. One did not 
interfere with the mortal protégé of another vampire. While they were 
few, some vampires raised mortals from childhood, eventually offering 
them the Dark Gift when they were mature enough to make a reasoned 
choice. So reared, few declined it. It was a reasonable, believable 
explanation, and Nick could sense that they were buying it.

The door opened, and he looked up to see LaCroix re-enter the inn. 
From his Master’s flush skin and self-satisfied expression, he could 
see that he’d fed. With his usual arrogance, he took a seat among them, 
without asking.

“I was wrong,” he announced. “The hunting tis good, hereabouts. 
Very good.” He took a draft of wine, and looked at Nick, then Jackie. 
“And who have we here?” Nick introduced Jackie again, and told the same 
story. “Lucien LaCroix,” said the old vampire, and extended his hand to 
both Alphans. As he and Nicholas touched, there seemed to be the 
faintest of sparks, and LaCroix looked oddly at him.

Can he sense it? Nick wondered. Can he perceive our link?

“Nicholas deBrabant,” replied Nick. Something told him that he’d 
been very dumb to give his real name, but he couldn’t undo it now.

The data from the sensors aboard the Eagles confirmed Victor’s 
theory. The unforeseen and unpredictable interplay of energies when the 
power plant was fired up had created a temporal rift in the fabric of 
space-time. Somehow, through that rift, Nicholas and LaCroix had passed 
in opposite directions. 

“Can we replicate it?” asked Koenig, looking at Victor’s computer 
model. “Reverse the procedure?” 

“John,” said Victor, looking up as well, “I just don’t know. Part 
of the mix was the polarity flip on Outback, and part was the 
electrical storm LaCroix experienced back home. We can neither predict 
the next flip, nor know exactly how strong the bolt of lightning was. 
The only constant we have is the plant itself. That much is certain.”

“Not even a theory?”

“We’re working on an idea, Commander,” said Maya. “But it depends 
on the planet’s magnetic field, and when Nicholas is.”


“The rupture wasn’t just spatial,” the Psychon went on. “It was 
temporal as well. LaCroix may have come from present day Earth, but 
Nick and Jackie didn’t go there.” She indicated a screen full of 
equations. “See?”

“Well…sort of,” he shook his head, trying to follow the math. 
Lord, how did Maya do it?

“With information from the Cylon database, and the transport 
chamber we used to rescue you before,” said Victor, “we may be able to 
come up with a method, John.’ Koenig shuddered, recalling the drafty, 
smelly old Scottish castle.

“Well, keep me posted,” he said, and left them to their work. 

Nat headed for Medical, her mind filled with new information. She 
now knew for certain that LaCroix had not merely drained her, and 
conspired with Vudu in the plane bombing, but had also killed Alyssa, 
Nick’s first wife.

It had hit her suddenly, like a laser blast. The way LaCroix had 
muttered “husband”, had triggered something. When Nick had married 
Alyssa centuries ago, he had attempted to bring her across. All had 
seemed well till, come morning, she was dead. LaCroix had been there, 
almost at once, berating him for his failure to succeed, oblivious to 
Nick’s grief, and shrugging it all off as if it meant nothing. As 
usual, LaCroix wanted nothing and no one to come between Nicholas and 
himself. When Nick found out…

And as if that were not enough, she knew for certain that LaCroix 
had “gone over” as it were to the other side. That LaCroix had murdered 
innocent people, as an oblation to the Father Of Lies himself, in order 
to get Nick back. She shuddered at the pure sickness of it all. The 
unadulterated evil of Lucien LaCroix.

She entered Medical to find him already there. As always, he was 
ruthlessly punctual. He wore a leftover uniform from the period before 
Breakaway, without indication of department or rank, and only an ID 
badge with his photo and name. Helena entered a few moments later, and 
began scanning LaCroix’s regenerating hand. As a doctor, she was 
fascinated by the progress of the tissues. Already the little finger 
was back, and the two middle ones longer by nearly half an inch. Human 
bodies did not do this, yet here was one doing it nonetheless. She took 
some cell samples and plates, and set the computer to analyzing it all. 
A sample of LaCroix’s DNA soon followed them.

True to her word, Nat gave him a little extra blood, an ounce to 
be exact, and Helena scanned the accelerated healing. Natalie thought 
her chief looked as happy as a loan officer at a foreclosure at what 
her studies were showing her. She was smiling, and had that excited 
glint in her eye.

“Okay,” said Nat, and began grilling the old General. About the 
night in Nick’s loft, and the bombing of Schanke and Cohen’s plane. But 
mostly about Alyssa. It was obvious to even a non-vampire that LaCroix 
had been taken completely off-guard by this revelation. Obviously, 
Natalie was more adept at reading the blood-knowledge than he had 
expected. He hated her all the more for that, angry already at her 
pestilential questioning. No one, certainly no mere pup, ever dared 
treat him this way. And lived, that is. But, in his current 
predicament, he had no choice but to cooperate with all questions and 

Revenge would come later.

“And what precisely,” said LaCroix, with a sigh that nevertheless 
conveyed his vast contempt, “do you hope to learn, Doctor?” He looked 
at Helena as though she were an customer at the Raven with an overdue 
bar tab.

“Science is a journey, Mr. LaCroix,” said Helena. “A quest. And 
knowledge is its own reward.” She positioned a scanner over his chest. 
“Besides, we’re a bit short of prosthetic limbs here on Alpha. If we 
could adapt this regenerative capacity of yours to ourselves, we might 
be able to replace lost or damaged tissues, should the need arise.”

“What I am is not adaptable to mortals, Doctor,” he intoned 
dogmatically. “Save by being brought across. Once done, the body is 
proof against nearly all damage or maladies.”

“So I have seen,” said Helena, casting a quick glance at Natalie. 
“It’s truly remarkable. But I’d rather not.”

“A pity, Doctor. Your beauty, preserved for all time.” He smiled 
at her.

“Your soul infected with bloodlust for all time,” added Nat 
sarcastically, doing a fair impression of his voice. “Can it, LaCroix.”

“Doctor Lambert, I…”

“It’s Barber, LaCrap. Or deBrabant if you wish,” Natalie shot 
back, and jabbed him with a needle. “Ooops. So sorry.” He glared 
daggers at her, but before he could do more than say “ow”, the door 
opened, and Sue Crawford entered. She looked haggard from her days of 
worry, and approached LaCroix, glaring.

“Anything, Natalie? Helena?” Her voice was controlled. Too 

“Nothing yet, Sue,” said Helena. “Victor and Maya are working on a 
theory. It looks promising, but nothing so far.” Sue didn’t respond, 
but just looked at LaCroix. He returned her gaze, wondering who this 
woman was.

“Is there something I can do for you?” he asked at last.

“What have you done with him?” she asked, slowly. “Where is he?”

“Who?” asked LaCroix, though he at once guessed.

“My son. Jackie! Where is he? What have you done with him?”

“I assure you, Madam, that I have…”

He never finished, for Susan leapt forward with a scream, 
pummeling him with her fists. So sudden was her attack that he received 
a broken nose and split lip before hurling her across the room, to 
crash into a chair.

“How dare you…” he began, rising, eyes and fangs to the fore, but 
Nat shoved him back down with her greater strength.

“Where is he?” screamed Sue, as she saw him thus. “What have you 
done to Jackie? Monster!!” 

“I have done nothing to anyone,” he snarled, anger barely in 
check. “I do not even know this ‘Jackie’.”

“Liar!” she screamed as Helena helped her to her feet. The door 
opened and Falxa entered, but Helena bid him hold. “Liar! You…”

“Sue! Sue!” said Nat, taking hold of her, and looking into her 
eyes. Sue looked back, and slowly began to relax.


“He had nothing to do with it. Do you hear me?”

“Yes,” said Sue, softly.

“He had nothing to do with Jackie’s disappearance. Do you 

“Yes. Nothing. Nothing to do with it. I knew that.”

“And you never saw him like that. You never saw him with anything 
but normal eyes and teeth. Sue?”

“Yes. Normal. He’s just normal.”

“In fact, you weren’t even here. Go back to your quarters and 
sleep. Sleep, Sue. This never happened.”

“Never happened,” said Sue, and left. Nat took a deep breath, and 
turned back to LaCroix and a stunned Helena.

“My thanks, Doctor,” said the old vampire, wiping his nose. 

“Don’t thank me, LaCroix. I did that only for Sue, not you. But…” 
and she got close, almost nose to nose, “hurt anyone on Alpha again, 
hurt so much as a potted plant, and I’ll pump you so full of muscle 
relaxants that a two-year-old with muscular dystrophy will be able to 
rip you apart, limb from limb, like string cheese. Starting here.” She 
jabbed him where it hurts the most. He bent over, gasping in pain, eyes 
wide. “Got me?” She waited a beat, as he glared up at her, eyes buggy. 

“Crystal,” croaked LaCroix, eyes murderous.

“Good.” Then to Helena; “How unprofessional of me.” 

As Natalie turned away, LaCroix managed to straighten up. After a 
moment or two, he looked at his healing hand, then to Helena. Alpha’s 
CMO had stayed out of his dustup with Natalie, but she felt herself 
coming to share her hatred of him more and more. 

“So, Doctor, once I am fully recovered, what do I do?” His voice 
had a decided squeak. “What is my place, as it were?”

“We’ll just have to see, Mr. LaCroix,” she answered. “But we’ll 
find something for you. You can count on it. Here on Alpha, everyone 
pulls their weight.”

“You catch that, LaCrotch?” said Natalie, motioning for Falxa to 
return him to his quarters.

“Understood, Doctors.” 

“Good God,” sighed Helena, when he was gone. “Sick.”


“I’m surprised we didn’t have to clean up in here when Sue hit 


“Everyone knows shit splatters, Nat.”


Janette and Aristotle had departed into the night to hunt, 
inviting Nick to join them. He declined, declaring that he preferred to 
hunt alone. He ensconced Jackie in their rooms, then went out. Although 
he was loath to kill anyone, he was very hungry by this time, having 
not fed for more than 24 hours. He looked about for an animal, finding 
a cow in a yard behind a small house. He hesitated, sensing people 
within; he did not wish to deprive some poor family of what might be 
its only livelihood. Nick was above all a kindhearted man, and had been 
a kindhearted Lord of the Manor, before war and seemingly endless 
killing had changed him. He turned away-no peasant’s would go hungry 
because of him. 

And was nearly knocked over by someone with a knife. The attacker 
stabbed him in the chest, then began to rifle his clothes as soon as he 
was down.

Then screamed, as red eyes glared up at him. There was a blur of 
movement, fangs, burning pain, then a slow descent into oblivion and 

Nick tossed the dead mugger into the woods, after relieving him of 
both weapon and purse. Apparently, business had been good, the bag was 
plump with cash. As he returned to the village, he mused upon how he’d 
killed three people in two days. He loathed killing, even in self-
defense, and salved his conscience with the knowledge that, so far, 
they had all been malefactors. The blood knowledge from this one was 
clear. The man who had attacked him had been a thief and murderer of 
long standing. No great loss to society, there.

Still, it bothered him, to have had to kill. Part of the process 
of becoming Human once more had been his foreswearing of killing for 
food. As he re-entered the inn, he found himself praying for 
repentance, evil as the other man may have been.

Returning to their rooms, he found Jackie wide awake. Curiously, 
perhaps as a result of his possession by Jarak, the boy tended to need 
little sleep. Like now, as he sat up staring at Nick, eyes never 
leaving him. 

“Nick,” he said. “Where ya been?”

“Out, Jackie. Just…out.”

“Doing? You find a woman? That one at the table, maybe?”

“Jackie!” Nick responded, trying to hide his surprise, turning to 
him. “I’m married. I…”

“But Natalie’s not here.”

“Hey, you watch it,” said Nick sternly. “I don’t want to hear that 
kind of stuff.” He had to admit, however, that it had been tempting. 
Janette, as beautiful and luscious as ever, and oh so close! He’d been 
sorely tempted, but no. She’d know, with the first taste of blood, the 
truth of things. And, be it the 21st Century or the 11th, a vow was a 
vow, as far as things with Natalie were concerned.

“But you wanted her, Nick,” the boy went on. “I could…”

“Enough!” Nick barked. Janette and I are none of your con…”


“Janette,” said Jackie, with the barest hint of a smile. “First 
names, already.”

“Look, Jackie, I don’t wish to discuss…”

“Why you have a painting of you in your quarters? Why you have 
another one, of that weird guy with the punk crew-cut?”


“Or why you don’t go outside in the daytime, and heal up so fast?”

“It wasn’t so bad, that, as it first…”

“I saw you last night, Nick, with those robbers. I saw how you 
killed them.”

Any pins dropping in, oh say Canterbury Cathedral at that moment, 
might understandably have been mistaken for multiple explosions.

“Jackie,” said Nicholas, lighting a candle, then drawing closer 
and looking into his eyes. “You saw nothing. Do you understand? You saw 
nothing out of the ordi…”

“Bull,” said Jackie, blinking. “I know what I saw, Nick.” He 
waited as Nick leaned back, frustrated. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to 
blab it all over.”

“That’s good,” sighed Nick.

“Does Natalie know that you’re a…vampire?” Nick looked at the boy. 
A long, annoyed, even angry look.

“Of course she does, Jackie,” he sighed, disgusted.

“She’s one too, right?”

“H…how long have you known?”

“Only since we got here. But I’ve suspected for a long time.”

“Why?” asked Nick, rising.

“The way you killed that Dorcon soldier. He was really strong, but 
you offed him like he was nothing.” 

“Offed,” muttered Nick, shaking his head.

“And your speed. You move faster than any runner.”

“And my reaction to sunlight, I presume?”

“Uh huh. And I’ve never seen you eat. Sometimes you pretend, like 
the other night, but you never really eat anything. And last night, I 
saw you bite one of those suckers on the neck. You took his blood.”



“Yes. Yes, I took his blood, Jackie.” Nick sat in silence a while, 
mulling it. Better perhaps to have the kid in the know after all. Of 
course, all his well-laid lies fell to dust, here. And who could have 
predicted this situation? “Aren’t you afraid, Jackie? Afraid of me?” He 
looked at the boy, and let his fangs drop.

“No,” replied Jackie, though his voice quivered a bit.

“Oh? And why not? After all, I am what I am, Jackie.” He let his 
eyes flash.

“You’re a good guy, Nick. You saved me and Mom. You saved those 
people here when you didn’t have to. And beside, you were a cop.” More 
silence. “I saw some of your old pictures.”

“I ought to paddle your butt for snooping,” growled Nick. “Did not 
your mother teach you any manners?” 

“I was curious. Nick?”


“Have you fed, tonight?” Nick turned to him again, glaring, then 

“Yes. Yes I have.”


“Someone tried to mug me, Jackie.”

“I thought so. There’s a tear in your cloak that wasn’t there, 
earlier. You were attacked, right?”

“Yes! Now, if Little Mother Jacqueline is quite through,” he 
snapped, “it will be dawn soon.”


“Yes. ‘Uhh’! You have to guard me, Jackie. While the sun is up.”


“Now that you know the truth,” he snapped again, “there is 
responsibility. I am a knight. You are my squire. In this time and 
place, that is how it must be.”

“Okay,” grumbled Jackie, and in keeping with his new station 
helped Nick out of his armor, and handed him the bowl of water and a 
rag. That done, Nick laid down, the sky already beginning to lighten. 
As he felt the tiredness steal over him, he wondered where LaCroix and 
the rest were hold up. 

“Nick,” said Jackie.


“What’s the date? It looks like fall.”

Nick searched the blood knowledge of his recent kills. One had 
been moderately educated, and had known the date.

“September 23, 1066.” 

“Right.” There was a long silence. “Nick?”


“Where’s the bathroom?”

The mining and exploitation of Outback continued without letup. As 
Victor had calculated, the shift in their trajectory had put them into 
a highly elliptical orbit around the planet, though it was very unclear 
at present whether or not they would stay. Victor and Maya also 
continued to refine and recalculate re the vortex problem. On the 
sixteenth simulation, Alpha’s upgraded, speeded-up computer succeeded 
in “opening” a temporal rift. When and where it went, however, were 
another problem.

“Inigg!!” swore Maya, as another simulation went thud. 

“Maya?” said Victor, surprised to hear her use so…colorful an 

“Oh this model, Victor! We just don’t have enough data! LaCroix 
was brought from modern-day Earth. But we cannot be sure…Oh, I am 
sorry, Victor,” she said, calming down. “I’m just so frustrated is 

“I understand perfectly,” said Victor, with a smile. Hormonal, he 
decided, though he did not voice it. His mother had been just the same, 
when she’d been expecting his sister. He smiled at the long-ago memory, 
for a moment letting himself wonder about them all, back home. Were 
they alive? Were they well? Perhaps… He flinched, as Maya swore again. 
Some things, it seemed, transcended time, space, and species.

“A date!” growled Maya. “Give me a date!”

“Still confined to quarters, LaCroix kept on reading those things 
that the computer permitted him access to. He was somewhat surprised to 
discover that the computer even had a file on him. A couple of 
Nighcrawler broadcasts were in here, as well as that hideous episode of 
Cop Watch, with Nicholas and Don Schanke. For the barest instant, 
LaCroix regretted Schanke’s death, and his own part in it. 

But that moment of penitence passed quickly, and he looked at 
Nick’s personnel file. Carelessly, he’d been left access to those. Oh 
well, it was something to read. Hhmm. Aristotle had done quite a good 
job, with Nicholas’ latest identity. How unfortunate his own sabotaging 
of it hadn’t borne fruit before Breakaway. He read Nat’s, next. He was, 
in spite of all, pleased that her beauty would not fade with time, now 
that she was one of Them. Pity that she had no personality. Commander 
John Koenig. Ughh. He passed him over, quickly. Ditto Kano, Paul 
Morrow, Bergman…


Ah, Maya. Interesting. LaCroix had never once given the slightest 
thought as to the reality of extraterrestrial life, before. As a 
vampire, who cared? But here was a real, live alien. As he read, he saw 
she was listed as “Science Officer”. Perhaps he should talk with her. 
Aside from his twisted, evil psyche, LaCroix actually enjoyed purely 
intellectual conversation, and had a nearly eidetic memory. A relic, no 
doubt, of his education in philosophy and rhetoric, standard for a 
Roman boy of his day. But what excuse?

He continued to flip through the files. Weyland-deceased. Collins-
deceased. Lowry-deceased. Picard-deceased. Kelly-ditto. Simmonds- He 
laughed at that one! Served the bastard right. Crawford-deceased. Gods! 
What fools rushing in these Alphans must be. Such a death rate! 
Craw…Ah, the hysterical woman in Medical. Hhmm. Widowed, one son. Jac…

“Di Immortales!!” swore LaCroix, as he saw Jackie’s photo. He 
stared at it for a long time, blocking the uniform collar, and scanning 
just the face. A bit younger, but it was he! He shook his head, as 
various old things came together.

“Di Immortales!” he swore again, scarcely able to believe it. He 
keyed the compost in his quarters. Yes, Doctor Lam…Barber? Might I 
speak with you?”

Jackie awoke before Nick. He thought the chamber pot barbaric, but 
had little choice. Settled back he observed Nicholas in repose. He 
really liked Nick, as Nat put it idolized him, as long as he could 
recall. The revelation of what Nick truly was had come as a severe 
blow. His idol, his hero…

A vampire.

But Nick wasn’t like the vampires in the old horror flicks, or 
novels. Nick had saved people, he and his mom among them, rather than 
killed them. The tinkers would have died, if not for him. Those guys 
were thugs, and got the reward they so richly deserved. Same with the 
mugger Nick had told him about. But…

What must it be like, to be a vampire? To live forever? To never 
face age, or disease? On the other hand, what must it be like, to 
hunger so unnaturally, to have to hide, and to fear the light of the 
sun? Of course, this explained why Nick was so good at history. He’d 
lived through so much of it. And why he was so good at so many 
languages, too. How old was he, Jackie wondered? Had Nick lived in this 
time? Would they meet his earlier self? That might prove…interesting.

Nick stirred, and he returned to the here and now. September 24th, 
1066. Right now, up north, King Harold Godwinson was getting ready for 
all that hack, slash, and chop stuff with the Vikings, and then would 
soon be heading this way. In three days, William, Duke of Normandy, 
soon to be William the Conqueror, would set sail with his huge invasion 
fleet. The two would meet at Hastings a few scant miles away, and 
history would, as they say, be made.

Jackie was both excited, and terrified. Excited to be on the spot 
when history was in the making, on his parent’s homeworld. History he 
had only read about. Terrified when he recalled that after the battle, 
the victorious Normans had been none to gentle with the locals.


    “You know him?” asked Maya, in the lab. With her were Victor, 
Helena, Nat, Tony, and the Commander. Across from them sat Lucien 

“Yes, after a fashion,” replied LaCroix. “This boy, Jackie 
Crawford, was, briefly, known to me as Jacque.”

“And this was in 1066?” asked Koenig.

“It was. I and two companions were traveling through England at 
the time, and in the inn of a picturesque English village, there he 

“Was he alright?” asked Natalie.

“Nicholas appeared well, as did the boy. I sensed considerable 
confusion in them both, which I did not understand the reason for at 
the time.”

“What were they doing?” asked Helena.

“Eating. Or rather the boy was. Stuffing himself with abandon as I 
recall. Janette, one of my companions, sent Nicholas a blood-greeting, 
and we fell to talking.”

“A what?” asked Tony, and LaCroix explained. Recalling Janette’s 
predilections, Nat asked: “Did Janette harm…”

“No, Doctor. Nicholas introduced the boy as some waif he had saved 
from a Viking raid on a monastery, and made his protégé. Under the 
Code, that made his person inviolable.” He saw Nat and the rest visibly 

“Didn’t you sense anything of your link with Nick, LaCroix? Surely 
you must have.”

“I did, but it confused me. After all, Nicholas would not be born 
for well over a century. I did not yet know him, and dressed as a 
knight, he seemed to be exactly what he was.” LaCroix was silent a 
moment, reflecting, and Maya began imputing data into her model. 
Natalie, who knew LaCroix far too well, knew where his mind was going. 

“So what did you think, when you finally met Nick, in 1228?”

“I did not think, Natalie. I felt only shock and surprise. I could 
not believe it, neither when Janette told me of the young knight, nor 
when I first saw him for myself. It was Nicholas, exactly as I had seen 
him, all those years before, down to his voice, and the slightest 
mannerisms. Yet, he was mortal. When I first tasted his blood, I could 
sense no knowledge, no memory, of that time at all. It was as if he 
were an entirely different man, yet it was Nicholas.”

“Well, you can hardly be blamed for not thinking of time travel 
then, Mr. LaCroix. It isn’t a Medieval concept, after all.”

“Did you ever speak to Nick about it?” asked Natalie.

“No. Somehow, I could not,” he replied, as if the admission cost 
him a lot. “I probed his mind, more than once, but I found nothing.” He 
looked down at his hand. “When I was old enough, I was permitted to 
look at the archives of the Community. There was no reference to him, 
or to anyone from his family, before 1228.”

“What name was he using?” asked Tony.

“His own. Nicholas deBrabant. No others from that family were ever 
vampires, except Nicholas or yourself, Natalie.” He waited a beat. 

“You leave her out of this,” said Nat, stiffly.

“Who?” asked Koenig.

“Nick’s sister, Commander. Fleur. But that’s another story.” She 
glared back at LaCroix.

“Anything more, Mr. LaCroix?”

“Well, after a time, I began to think that he might have actually 
been a sorcerer of some sort.”

“A sorcerer?” asked Helena. “Why?”

“Because of something that he and the boy carried under their 
cloaks. Something which, until I saw Jackie’s picture here, never 
clicked for me.”

“And that was?” asked Koenig, realizing the truth at the same 

“This,” said the old vampire, and plucked Maya’s commlock from her 


For the next two days, they hung around Bosham, Nick managing this 
time to find some animals to assuage his hunger. Jackie, for his part, 
began to find a genuine Medieval town fascinating. The sights, sounds, 
and smells, none of which he had ever experienced before in the 
enclosed environment of Alpha, held him spellbound, at least for the 
present. He purchased, per Nick, some extra clothes for himself, and a 
decent pair of boots. He also brought back food for himself, and, much 
to the butcher’s surprise, a large jug of blood which he quickly mixed 
with a little wine.

“Thanks,” said Nick, as he partook of his sustenance.

“How do you stand it?” asked Jackie, watching him drink it.

“This? I don’t want to be a vampire anymore, Jackie. I made a 
terrible mistake, a long time ago. I don’t want to kill anyone, ever 

“But you killed those guys, the other night. What about them?”

“It was an automatic reaction, Jackie. Inside every vampire is 
what we call the Beast. It’s like a wild, thoughtless animal, wanting 
to get out. Every moment of your life, it’s there. Sometimes, 
regrettably it does get out.”

“When you are afraid?”

“Afraid, angry, or very hungry. That’s why I never let myself get 
too hungry, Jackie. It’s too great a risk.”

“And that’s why you never come to dinner with me and Mom, isn’t 
it? Or ever have lunch in the cafeteria.”

“Yeah, it is. We can’t eat real food, Jackie. We just don’t 

“How do you live with it? All of those people…”

“Please, Jackie. I don’t want to talk about it, alright?”


“No! Now, it’ll be dark in another couple of hours. I need to get 
some more sleep.”

“Okay, Nick,” he sighed, and they fell into silence. As they did 
so, across the Channel, the largest armada those waters would see until 
1944 was hoisting sail. 

After nightfall they fed once more, Jackie with exuberance, and 
then rode out of Bosham to get closer to the site of the “future” 
action. All the way, Nick felt the others somewhere nearby, also 
heading this way. He recalled LaCroix’s sick taste for raiding 
battlefields, and knew the old reprobate was drooling, waiting for this 
one. Though only Nick and Jackie knew exactly battle would be joined, 
everyone and their brother knew that Duke William was coming, and that 
the Sussex coast would soon provide a feast for crows. 

And vampires.

They reached the village of Watling just as the edge of the sun 
came over the horizon, and made a mad dash for the inn. Nick’s skin and 
eyes stung madly, but his cloak and some cloud cover protected him till 
they got indoors. The innkeeper was already up, and soon they were 
safely ensconced in a dark room behind shutters. Once alone, Nick 
downed some of the remaining bloodwine from his wineskin, and at once 
felt the pain subside. He let out a long sigh, and sagged back onto the 

“Why here, Nick?” asked Jackie. “Why not stay where we were?”

“It’s closer, Jackie. From here, we can see Duke William’s fleet 

“Okay, but why do we have to be at Hastings at all?” 

“It’s necessary, Jackie.”

“Why?” pushed Jackie, testily.

“Because it is! Now just let it drop!”

“It’s got to do with those other vampires, doesn’t it?”

“Jackie!” bellowed Nick, getting up, fist striking a table and 
reducing it to firewood. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. 
“I’m…I’m sorry, Jackie. I just don’t want to talk about it now.”

“Fine!” growled Jackie, and hopped onto the other bed. Arms 
crossed, he proceeded to pout, with a touch of fume. Sitting there, 
Nick was struck by the boy’s resemblance to his late father. Jack 
Crawford of the Clan Crawford could look just like that, when his Scots 
temper got the better of him. Seethe, boil, and yes, pout. Like father, 
like son. Tired and annoyed, Nick let him, and setting aside helmet and 
sword belt, he lay down, and fell at once into sleep.

Jackie, however, did not. Annoyed at Nick in the way that only 
kids can, he also powerfully missed home. Alpha was, after all, the 
only home that he’d ever known, and he felt cut off, not being able to 
reach someone by commpost or commlock. He still felt the urge to draw 
his when encountering a door, still unused to something as simple as a 
doorknob. He was also getting sick of the smells of real life, and felt 
horrid, not having bathed in days.

Bored, he got up and went out. Yeah, he was supposed to guard 
Nick, but he was in no mood to be obedient just now. He wandered the 
village till he came to a point where he could look out over the water, 
Pevensey Harbor as it then was known. Long silted up by the time of 
Breakaway, it still provided a haven for mariners in this time. He 
looked around, and on a promontory to his right, he saw the village of 
Hooe, to his left that of Halisham. Directly across the glinting water 
Pevensey sat, basking in the sun, a few boats here and there.

With no idea what was about to hit it.

Then, from one of the tendrils of mist obscuring the Channel, 
something emerged. Jackie squinted, trying to focus on it. Yes! A ship! 
He drew his commlock and called Nick. It took a few seconds, but at 
last a bleary Nick responded.

“Jackie, what are you doing out? Get back here right now young 
man. On the double!”

“Nick, they’re here! Now!”

“Who…you sure?”

“Yeah. Look!” He turned the vid pickup of his commlock towards the 
approaching fleet. More ships had emerged from the slowly dissipating 
mist, and he could make out seven, so far. Eight. Ten. Thirteen.

For a moment, Jackie forgot about his irritation with Nicholas. 
Here he was, watching history being made. William The Conqueror’s 
invasion fleet was landing, here at Pevensey, just like the history 
books said it had. Right in front of him! 

“Can you see ‘em, Nick?” he asked, excitedly.

“I can,” he replied, over the commlock. There were now over a score of 
ships in the bay, and more were coming into view by the minute. The 
tide was still rising, and William’s helmsmen were taking full advantage 
of it. Twenty-five ships. Thirty. As he watched, the lead ship reached 
the beach, and someone leapt out. He at once fell flat on his face in 
the mud, and as quickly picked himself up.

“Just like the history books,” muttered Jackie. By this time the 
harbor was full of vessels, the sun glinting off weapons and shields, 
and more of them were putting ashore. Hundreds of men were now milling 
about, unloading horses and equipment, and others had begun to rob the 
town. Pigs, sheep, and cows were looted, and soon were either roasting 
on spits or boiling in cauldrons.

“Jackie,” said Nick, “get back here. Now.”

“Nick, I…”


“But this is history, Nick! Not a book, but the real thing!”

“And those swords are the real thing, too. And they are sharp. 
Plus, if you remember what you read, they’ll be sending out recon 
patrols, soon. This is England, 1066. They are Normans, and you are 
not. Clear?” 

“Okay, Nick,” sighed Jackie, annoyed at being bested. “I’m 
coming.” He watched a little longer, as yet more ships entered the 
harbor and more men and equipment were off-loaded. At last, 
reluctantly, he turned back and headed for the inn.

As Alpha continued to orbit Outback, the mining continued 
unabated. So far, over six tons of useful material had been wrested 
from the planet, and more would soon follow. The power plant was 
recalibrated to where everything had been and restarted once more, 
every bit checked and rechecked as they did so. But as of yet, nothing 
happened. Outback’s magnetic field was stubbornly quiet, with no signs 
of surging or flipping again anytime soon. The planet was scanned round 
the clock, but showed no signs of change. There was, though, one tiny 
bright spot according to Victor.

“If we have to stay, the planet might not be as bad as it looks, 

“How so?”

“Well,” he said, pointing to a sensor map of the planet on one 
screen, “there’s still a huge amount of water and carbon dioxide locked 
up in both the poles and under the surface. Plenty of geothermal 
activity, too. The planet could, I think, be brought back to life.”


“Yes. It is feasible. In fact, according to our scans, the 
atmospheric pressure is increasing on it’s own, due to natural 

“How quickly?”

“Current estimates put it at about 0.001 percent of a millibar per 
decade. But with a push from us…”

“Yes. I see.” Koenig considered a moment. “But will we stay here, 
Victor? What about our orbit?”

“Well, it’s highly elliptical, John.” Victor changed graphics. “As 
you can see, our last orbit around Outback was nineteen hours, four 
minutes, and we came to within 67,400 miles of the surface. According 
to computer, our next one will bring us closer yet, about 66,000, and 
our outward loop faster still.”

“Are we going to break orbit?”

“Not unless something new happens. According to the best computer 
modeling, our orbit will eventually stabilize. It’ll take years, but…” 
He trailed off.


“It was the interaction between Outback’s magnetic field and our 
new power station that yanked us off our path and into this new orbit.”


“Meaning that if Outback’s field pulses again, or flips, while the 
power station is operating, it could snap us out of this orbit, and 
back into space.” Victor stopped, but John knew his friend far too 
well. There was something more.


“Or sending us crashing into it.”

With all this new data to mull, Koenig only intensified the 
exploitation of Outback for all it was worth. For the first time since 
Breakaway, Alpha’s storage vaults threatened to burst, much to the 
complaint of no one. Every department looked forward to getting its 
stocking filled for once, and the morale of everyone was perceptibly 

Not everyone. Natalie wanted Nick back, and really didn’t give a 
shit whether or not Physics got its ytterbium samples, or Technical 
restocked its supplies of moly grease. For her, nothing else really 
mattered. Life without Nick, even an eternal one, wasn’t worth the 
effort, as far as she was concerned. The two of them had become so much 
a part of each other, that each seemed but half a person, alone. No, it 
wasn’t worth it.

For LaCroix, it was much the same. Alpha, frankly, bored him. He 
did not wish to spend eternity stuck on this wandering rock. Not only 
did he have no place here, no skills, but it utterly lacked, to his 
mind, any redeeming virtue. The art and culture he that craved were not 
to be found here. Also, he could neither be Master here, nor hunt. He 
was merely an unwilling passenger, on an endless cosmic bus ride.

Susan Crawford also did not share in the optimism. She was tired. 
Tired of the endless journey, tired of the emptiness. She’d lost Jack, 
a casualty of Breakaway, and thought she might never make it. Theirs 
had been a marriage of intense and endless passion, as well as great 
plans for the future, when Jack’s tour on Alpha was up. If it hadn’t 
been for carrying his baby, she had scarcely wanted to go on. Only 
Jackie, all that remained to her of the greatest love of her life, had 
given her a purpose and kept her going.

Then, quite against her inclination, she’d found herself growing 
closer to Baxter, one of the Eagle pilots. A man who loved kids, it 
seemed perfect, till Baylor’s machinations brought that relationship, 
and his life, to an end.

She’d buried herself in work, and raising Jackie, trying to close 
herself off from the rest of their little world. But her work in 
hydroponics had brought her into frequent contact with Picard, another 
pilot, whose hobby was breeding orchids, and experimenting with Alpha’s 
precious supply of grapes. The two had at last hit it off after a slow, 
somewhat bumpy start, and eventually begun planning a life together.

Plans brought to ruin by Mentor, and his ruthless plans for 

So, once more Susan retreated back into herself, and her work. 
She’d lost it all, over and over. Jack, the others, now…

“No,” she sighed. “No. I won’t.” Calmly she rose from her work 
bench, and went to a tool locker. She selected a knife. Thin and sharp. 
It would be better, like this.


Once fully ashore, Duke William’s men did indeed send out patrols, 
but Jackie made it back to the inn in time to avoid being seen. 
Already, riders from all the villages and Abbeys hereabouts were on the 
road, to warn King Harold of this new invasion. At Nick’s insistence, 
they remained in Watling, and the reason was soon made clear.

Duke William broke camp here, and moved on to Hastings. He and 
much of his army did so by sea, the rest overland around the bay. While 
the other villages and Manors in the area were raped and plundered, 
Watling was overlooked.

“Why?” asked Jackie.

“Who cares?” said Nick. “But the history books said it was, so…”


As night fell, and Nick awoke, he felt the presence of the others 
nearby. Yes, LaCroix was drawn to battlefields, like a vulture. “I love 
the free food”, he had once stated in a war 800 years, and an ocean, 
away. Once it was fully dark, Nick too prowled the gloom, among the 
ruins of a nearby Manor. Burned buildings and hacked bodies littered 
the place, and he assuaged his hunger on a horribly injured dying ox. 
As the blood entered him, and the poor beast passed beyond all 
suffering, he felt his senses sharpen, and he heard them. He turned, 
and in the gloom saw LaCroix, fangs buried in a quivering victim. He 
dropped the dead, and looked at Nicholas.

“Two minds with but a single thought, I see,” said LaCroix, wiping 
the blood from his mouth, and walking over towards Nicholas. “How 
thoughtful of Duke William to have set this feast for us, eh?”

“He’s a barbaric butcher,” said Nick. “He cometh to steal a 
kingdom that is not his, and murdereth them that hath no part in his 
quarrel with King Harold.”

“And what is that to us, eh? How doth that concern the likes of 
you or I, Nicholas?” LaCroix looked about, searching for more 
survivors. “Let the mortals fight for their kingdoms, Nicholas. I have 
seen so many rise and fall. As, I suspect, have you. Thou art no pup.” 
He scented another survivor and sped there, but Nick prevented him. He 
unhooked a canteen from his belt, and gave water to the helpless woman. 
Nick could almost hear his Master scowl.



“Why dost thou so? Help a mortal?”

“Why not? She did not ask for this. She gave the soldiers no offer 
of battle. If the sword hath spared her, I shall not kill her.” He 
snorted. “Battle. Rape and robbery more like.”

“And again I ask, What is that to us? She is mortal. She will die 
irregardless. Doth it matter, how?”

“To me,” replied Nick, nodding sharply as he washed her wounds. 
“Besides, hast thou so quickly forgotten the Code?”

“The Code?”

“She is with child, LaCroix. Cans’t thou not sense the babe 
within?” Both closed their eyes. Yes, the tiny heart within still beat. 
“Tis forbidden.”

“I…stand corrected,” said LaCroix, clearly unhappy about this turn 
of events. He’d sensed the child, yes, but did not care. But for this 
one, who would ever have known? The woman came to, and it was apparent 
that apart from a badly cut arm, and bruised face, her injuries were 
superficial. She recoiled in fear at the sight of armed men, but a look 
in the eyes from the handsome golden-haired knight, and she forgot her 
fear, and much else besides. The next thing she knew, she was on the 
road inland, with two silver pennies in her purse.

“I must say, I have not met a vampire like thee, Nicholas. Thou 
carest for mortals.” They moved through the ruins, finding only 
corpses. Still feeling the need of sustenance, Nick drained a body 
already dead. Unless given no choice, he would take no man’s life for 

“Blood is blood,” he said, answering LaCroix’s look. “But I will 
slay no man for it.”

“And what of the cutpurse you slew in Bosham, a few nights past?” 
As usual, LaCroix’s look was arrogant and self-righteous. 

“I thought I sensed thee. He attacked me with a knife. I defended 
myself, as would any man, vampire or mortal, and he paid with his life. 
He was a thief and murderer. But I will seek out no Human prey, 
LaCroix. The blood of beasts sustaineth me, well enough.”

“Vinegar compared to wine, Nicholas,” grunted LaCroix, ignoring 
Nick’s food of a moment ago.

“Where are thy friends?” asked Nick, picking his way through the 
rubble. A large trough or ditch had been dug, and he used it to bury 
the dead he’s found. LaCroix watched in stunned silence, as Nick buried 
them, prayed over them, and the put up a …

“A cross??” he hissed, turning away.

 “Twas their Faith,” said Nick, his hands starting to burn even 
through his gloves. “As it was my own, once.”

“But thou art a vampire!” exclaimed LaCroix, still shaking from 
the cross, crude as it was.

“I was a man, first!” snapped Nick. “And a warrior of the Cross.”

“Thou art a fool!”

“Where are thy friends?” Nick asked again, letting the cross go at 
last. For a moment he let the pain tear through him, like a cleansing 
bath. He turned, leaving the dead in peace.

“Hunting. Who was thy Master?” LaCroix waited a moment. “Speak! 

“A Roman girl,” said Nick, after a moment’s thought. His anger at 
LaCroix, over things not yet done, was rising, and he enjoyed taunting 
him. “From Pompeii.”

The old vampire froze  a moment, eyes wide with shock. How? How 

“Nick?” came a voice.


“Nick,” said Jackie, voice wafting from under his cloak.

“What?” said LaCroix, “the boy is with thee?” Jackie called again, 
and LaCroix saw the glow from the tiny screen under Nick’s cloak. With 
his usual grace and courtesy, he grabbed it, staring at the device in 
utter befuddlement. 

“Give it me,” said Nick, and reached for it. He took it back, and 
looked at Jackie. “Yes?”

“Sorcerer!” whispered LaCroix. “Tis an engine of sorcery!” He 
actually backed off a step.

“Then be gone!” hissed Nick, eyes red, and feinting at LaCroix 
with the device. The old Roman flinched, and with a look of both fear 
and anger, took to the air. “Till we meet at Hastings!” added Nick as a 
Parthian shot. “Yeah, Jackie?”

Jackie had gotten worried. Someone had broken into the inn, 
ransacking several rooms. By the time Nicholas returned, they were on 
their way out through the stable yard.

Only Nick said no. They challenged him in the yard, and he fought 
them both. Neither had ever met anyone so fast or so skillful with a 
sword, and soon was bleeding his guts out on his knees, the other’s 
head in a pool of mud, eyes wide with shock. The Innkeeper and his wife 
were profusely thankful, as Nick went through the burglars’ sacks. He 
returned the guests’ belongings, and gave the innkeeper several coins 
for the damages. The rest, as he and Jackie were in a somewhat tight 
position, he kept for themselves.

Would the wandering knight and his son like a job? The innkeeper 
offered him the position of security guard, in return for free lodging. 
Nick mulled it. It was a few days yet, till Hastings, and the history 
books said this place was safe. Not, of course, that there was a lot of 
business at the moment.


“Will she make it?” asked Koenig, in Medical, looking at the 
unconscious Susan Crawford. 

“Physically, yes,” said Bob Mathias, who’d found her in 
Hydroponics on a chance visit there. “We’ve replaced the lost blood, 
and treated the wound. But mentally, I just don’t know, Commander. It’s 
as if she’s given up. No will to live.”

“I see.”

“To her, she’s lost everything. I met her and Jack when they were 
first assigned to Alpha, and I’ve never seen a couple so close. Losing 
him was like losing an arm, or an eye. It’s only Jackie that’s kept her 
going at all. Baxter, then Picard, those she could handle, as long as 
she had the boy. Without him…” Mathias shrugged.

“Well, we’ll get him back, Bob. He and Nick. Maya and Victor are 
working on an idea.”

“I hope so, Commander.”

Maya and Victor did indeed have ideas. Having now a date to plug 
into their model, the Psychon could, theoretically at least, track 
Nick’s movements through the space-time continuum. As to why he hadn’t 
ended up in modern-day Canada, Victor had only the barest theory. A 
bare-bones theory that took up over twenty pages of hardcopy, black 
with equations. He tried to explain it to John, but went so fast and 
deep that Koenig got lost somewhere between “quantum fluctuations” and 
“electron states”.


The transport chamber was brought into the power room, and hooked 
into the system. All sorts of tests and checks were done, and a small 
video recorder was sent through to, they hoped, the right time period.

Not quite. The first recording gave them a beautiful rendition of 
several men being gunned down in a dingy warehouse. Maya, shocked at 
the pictures, had the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre explained to her 
by Tony. The next try gave them a great panorama of a troop of 
elephants crossing the Alps, followed by a clear view of the torpedoing 
of the Lusitania, to finish up with the sack of Constantinople in 1204. 

“We’re getting there, Commander,” said Maya. “It’s a matter of 
refining the date.”

“But even if you do find the right date, how do we lock onto him?” 
asked Nat.

“He’s been through a temporal rift,” said Athena Carter, whom Maya 
had brought in for her enormous experience with scanning myriad 
anomalies with the systems aboard the Galactica. “Like Commander 
Koenig’s  experience with being transported into the past, the quantum 
signature of Nick’s atoms has changed, Natalie. By adapting the warp 
locator you found aboard the derelict vessel, we can scan for those 

“I’m not sure I understand,” said Nat.

“Nick is Human, from Earth. His quantum signature should be the 
same as everyone else on your planet. But the passage through the rift 
has altered it. It’s like…scanning for one tiny signal, in a sea of 
background noise.”

“LaCroix said that Nick used his commlock,” Nat added. “Would that 

“It might.”

“But we’re not sure how to scan for that, yet,” said Maya. “We 
have more computer modeling to do.”

“And how do we send LaCroix back?” asked Tony. 

“Once we figure out how to set it for where Nick is,” answered 
Maya, “we can alter the settings for him as well.”

“Hope,” muttered Nat.

“Amen,” sighed Tony.

Nick stayed at the inn until the 12th. With William’s invasion, 
travel through the area was choked, and business nearly at a 
standstill. He left the innkeeper a few pennies for his trouble, and 
was on his way. They rode out of Watling, but an hour or so later ran 
into one of King Harold’s patrols. Nick tried to bluff his way through, 
but his Anglo-Saxon didn’t seem quite good enough for the big fellow 
with the serious-looking ax, and he was forced to resort to subtiler 
methods. They were let past, the soldier pleased that another warrior 
was on his way to join King Harold at Hastings.

“It is so cool, the way you can do that,” said Jackie, as they 
rode on into the night.

“It helps,” shrugged Nick.

While Victor and Maya worked on their solution, Natalie tended to 
Sue Crawford. Checking her scans and charts, it was obvious that she 
was doing well. Physically. But what of the rest?

Nat understood, at least in part, how Susan must have felt. She’d 
been devastated when Richard had been shot. She’d felt even worse when, 
after Nick had brought him across at her plea, he’d gone off the deep 
end, and had to be destroyed. It had taken quite a while to get over 
that, but it hadn’t been the worst.

She’d gotten pregnant in med school, and by an utterly wonderful 
guy. Not at all unhappy at this turn of events, they began planning 
their future together, meeting each other’s parents, and intending to 
specialize in pediatrics. It had been a joyful time, filled with wonder 
and expectation.

Until the day he was mugged by two drug-crazed men with knives, 
and stabbed over a dozen times, left to die on a freezing sidewalk. It 
was never solved, but Natalie was utterly devastated. So great was her 
emotional trauma that she miscarried, and for two weeks barely 
communicated with anyone. Family, friends, fellow students. All were 
shut out of her very private hell. She wasn’t sure how she found the 
strength to go on. Certainly Calvin Tucker, a fellow student, had gone 
more than the extra mile for her, actually jeopardizing his own studies 
to see her through. Richard also missed more than one law exam to make 
sure his sister got back on her feet. After that, pediatrics just 
didn’t hold the interest it once had, and Nat switched to pathology, 
eventually winding up in the Coroner’s Office.

And meeting Nick.

But Susan had no family to see her through the loss of Jack, after 
Breakaway. So Alpha had become her family, and she’d grown close to the 
Barbers. Perhaps it was only chance that their quarters were so close, 
perhaps not. But Natalie had almost come to think of Sue as the sister 
she never had, more so now that her crises were compounded.

“Natalie,” said Susan weakly, opening her eyes. 

“I’m here, Sue,” replied Nat.


“Why what?”

“Why didn’t you just let me go?”

“Can’t do that, Sue. You know that.”

“Why? There’s no point, anymore. No reason for me to go on.”

“What about Jackie? Isn’t he reason enough to go on?”

“Jackie’s gone, Natalie. He’s…”

“We’ll get him back, Sue. Victor and Maya will figure it out. 
They’re working on a plan, right now.”

“Thanks, Nat,” said Sue. “Thanks for trying, but we both know he’s 
gone. Gone fore…”

“Hey! Listen to me,” said Nat, sternly. “Stop that. No more of 
that horse hockey, you hear me?”

“Oh come on, Natalie,” said Sue, more loudly. “He’s gone! So is 
Nick. How can you…”

“Stop talking like this,” said Natalie, locking eyes with Susan. 
She pushed. “You’ll stop this kind of thinking. Now. Do you 

“Stop…thinking like this. I understand.”

“And you will never do this again, Susan. You hear me? Never. We 
are going to get them back. Do you understand me, Susan?”

“We’ll get them…back. Yes.”

“Right. Now go back to sleep.”

“Sleep. Sl….” Susan faded out. Almost at once, Nat felt LaCroix, 
and turned. Sure enough, the door opened and in he came.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“My daily appointment, Doctor,” he said, holding up his hand. It 
was almost fully regenerated, and his hair was beginning to grow back. 
“Unfortunately, you have no apples for me, to keep the Doctor away.”

“They all wilted when they heard you were here,” she shot back, 
and began her examination. Before she was even done, Maya was on the 

“Lucien LaCroix, please report to Physics Lab. Lucien LaCroix, 
report to Physics Lab.”

“Now what?” asked Nat.

“No doubt, they have made yet another breakthrough,” said LaCroix, 
condescendingly. “Shall we go?” He looked from her to Falxa.

“Yeah.” Nat put away her instruments, and turned back to see 
LaCroix gazing through the window into the next ward. On the floor was 
an adult woman, an attractive blonde, squatting on the floor and 
playing with…blocks?

“Who is that?” he asked.

“Don’t you recognize her?” said Nat, testily, her gaze daggers. 
“She worked for you.”

“Worked for…ah,” said LaCroix as the woman turned, and he 
recognized Carolyn Powell. LaCroix had paid her handsomely to sabotage 
Nick and Nat’s work, before Breakaway. Since the loss of her psychic 
powers and its resultant brain damage, she’s been here, mind wiped 
clean, an infant again.

“I see,” said LaCroix, as Natalie explained. He turned away as 
Maya called once more, only Falxa seeing the evil expression on his 


Nick and his charge reached the environs of Hastings mere minutes 
before dawn, taking shelter in a stand of trees near to the ridge. For 
as long as his eyes could endure it, he watched as more of King 
Harold’s army arrived and made camp. It was a tired army, having 
marched rapidly north, fought and defeated the Vikings at Stamford 
Bridge in a savage, brutal engagement, then marched back south, to face 
William’s invasion here. Depleted by heavy losses and bone tired, it 
was nonetheless a tough, seasoned, battle-hardened army. A determined 
army. Nick pitied them, for what lay in store. The loss of their land 
and culture, and a generation of their best sons, all to satisfy the 
juvenile ego of a man that Nick had never thought well of. Though born 
and bred a Frenchman, he had never sympathized with Duke William’s, to 
him, dubious claim to the English crown. The man was an overgrown, 
spoiled brat he thought, an adult-sized two-year-old who would kick and 
scream accordingly, till he got his way.

For a moment, Nick toyed with the idea of changing history. 
England, indeed all of Europe, would be better off, much better, 
without William of Normandy. Perhaps…

But no. Like it or not, he must leave things as they are, or 
rather would be. William The Bastard would win here, and that was that. 
With a sigh, he turned away, the sunlight reflecting off armor and 
weapons too bright for him now. He took shelter in the shadow of a huge 

“You okay, Nick?” asked Jackie.

“Yeah. It’s just too bright, now.” He began burrowing into the 
dirt under some thick bushes. “I have to get out of the light.”

“Here, let me help.” Jackie hove to, and helped Nick tear out big 
clods of earth. After the vampire was safely ensconced in the soil, he 
crouched under the brambles, too. Tired and a little hungry, he drifted 
off to sleep.

“I need to know,” said Maya, in the physics lab, “exactly when you 
first saw Nicholas use the commlock, in your year 1066.”

“After all this time? I do not…”

“We need it, Mr. LaCroix,” said Maya, testily. He just hated the 
way her Psychon accent rendered it LaCraw, and scowled. For Maya’s 
part, now that she saw one of the creatures of her childhood bedtime 
stories come to “life”, she decided she didn’t like it so much. And 
LaCroix, frankly, gave her the creeps.

“Allow me to think,” he replied. Although it was over 900 years 
past, and a trivial event, he soon pulled it up out of his eidetic 
memory. “September 29th, 1066. I am not certain of the hour, but the 
Moon was fairly high. Is that of help?”

“Very. Thank-you,” said Maya, and input the data into her 
terminal. After a few moments, she smiled, apparently pleased with the 
results before her. “Ah!”

“Positive results, I take it,” said LaCroix with a smirk. “Might I 
go, now?”

“No,” said Maya, looking up. “I need you to step over there.” She 
pointed towards what looked like a cross between a badly bent UHF 
antenna, and a floodlamp. 

“And what precisely is this…apparatus, might I enquire?”

“It is going to scan you for your quantum signature, Mr. LaCroix. 
It is needful for our plan.”

“I…see. Another test.”

“Can the attitude, LaCretin,” said Natalie. “Just do it.”

“And why should I?” he snarled, turning to glare at her, angrily.

“Because,” said Maya, laying a hand on LaCroix’s shoulder. He 
turned, and nearly screamed at the site of some horrid thing, shaggy, 
hulking, and with very big teeth. “If you don’t,” Maya went on in her 
new guise, smiling, voice rasping like a dull saw, “I shall start 
ripping your arms out of their sockets, Mr. LaCroix.” She shifted back 
to her normal shape. “Or I can have Falxa here do the honors, as you 
wish.” She glared at him with a look straight out of Mentor. “Falxa?” 
The Cylon stepped closer.

“How could I possibly refuse so…gracious an invitation?” replied 
the old vampire at last, regaining control of himself. 

“Just so,” said Maya, with her sweetest smile.

Jackie awoke near to nightfall, to feel himself being shoved. He 
scampered out of the way, and watched Nick rise up out of the ground. 
It was a ghoulish sight, reminding him of one of the old George Romero 
flicks he’d seen on Alpha. Nick at last broke free of his grave, and 
stood up, shaking the dirt and dead leaves from his hair and beard.

“Nick, are you okay?” he asked, handing him the canteen of 
bloodwine. He watched as Nick took a few precious sips, morbidly 

“Yeah. You?”

“I guess. I’m a little hungry, though.” He checked his satchel. 
There were only a few morsels left. He reached in, and chewed a bit of 

“Well, the English lines are near. We may be able to get 
something, Jackie.” Once the sun was fully down, the unlikely travelers 
left their hiding place, and slowly approached the English lines from 
the rear. Getting in was not hard, at least not for a vampire, and soon 
they were mixing with the troops. Many were asleep, getting what would 
be the last sleep of their lives. A few were eating or cooking over 
their campfires, talking of the coming battle. Some were confident, 
others afraid.

Nick sat with some of the men, and Jackie ate his fill, and then 
some. (Did I eat that much at his age? Nick wondered.) One soldier, old 
and scarred by more battles than anyone should be, reminded Nick of a 
Medieval Victor Bergman. What did he think, asked the old warrior? 

“Only God knows where we shall all be, tomorrow,” said Nick, in 
his best Anglo-Saxon. “We must just stand to our tackle as best we 

“Aye,” said the old veteran, handing something on a spit to 
Jackie. Typically, he did not refuse, and it soon disappeared. “I know 
where I’d be, were it mine to say.”

“Where?” asked Jackie, around his meal.

“Home,” whistled the old warrior through the gaps in his teeth. 
“Say what they will, all warriors, deep within, wish they were home. 
One day, young one, if thou livest, thou shalt learn.”

“Yeah. Home,” said Jackie. Nick heard the word, and for a moment 
felt himself transported there. Not Alpha, not Toronto, nor any of the 
myriad other places he’d lived through the centuries. No, he for an 
instant was back, in Castle deBrabant, surrounded by those he’d loved. 
His mother, his beloved Fleur, his father, whose big, powerful arms 
used to carry him about on warm sunny days, or around and around in the 
Great Hall before the huge fireplace, as a small child. How he missed 
that, he suddenly realized, his father’s warmth and love, his voice, 
his stories of honor and valor made incredibly vivid to a wide-eyed 
toddler. Mass in the castle’s chapel, Father Etienne’s voice 
proclaiming God’s Word to the family. Even…

He shook his head, returning to the moment. Jackie was staring at 
him, face both surprised and concerned. Nick felt the blood tear 
running down one cheek, and quickly wiped it away, hoping no one else 
had seen it. After a suitable time, he and Jackie rose, and kept on 
moving through the camp. Before long they saw a cluster of men moving 
their way. In the midst of it was a tall, handsome, powerfully built 
man, a crown…

“Nick, is that…?”

“Yeah, Jackie, it is. It’s King Harold Godwinson.”

“Gee. This is cool. I’ve never met a King before.” 

“Well, stay quiet. We don’t want to mess things up.”

They stood as King Harold came by, exchanging a few words here and 
there with his warriors. Both Alphans were struck by how kind a man the 
King looked, yet how tired and careworn also. Both were also struck by 
an indefinable resemblance to Commander Koenig. Both men, pressed and 
worn by terrible burdens, each unwilling to lighten his own load at the 
expense of others. How sad, Nick thought, that by this time tomorrow, 
this promising, personable man would lie, literally, in chunks, among 
the English dead. If only…

No! He would not interfere in the time-line. He would let history 
play out, as it should. After all, Alpha was a product of this history. 
If he fooled…

But if Alpha could never recover them, could he not alter history 
as he chose? Manipulate key persons and events? Create, in a sense, a 
new time-line? One free of many of the mistakes of the past, one more 
peaceful? As he mused, he realized that the King was in front of him, 
and he took the proffered hand. Jackie, more in the here and now than 
Nick, had returned the King’s words, and the two were exchanging 
pleasantries in Latin. The King looked to Nick: “Thy son is a credit, 

“Nicholas of Shrewsbury, Sire,” said Nick, quickly. “Yes, he is.”

“Guard him well, boy,” said Harold to Jackie, and then moved on, 
lost among the soldiers. After he was gone, the two retreated towards a 
dark corner, and then Nick flew them out of the camp, back to the 
woods. Jackie was still almost in awe, at having met an important 
historical figure. Nick smiled, remembering the first and only time 
he’d met his own monarch, the King of France, as a boy. He’d felt much 
the same, yes.

Nick laid out for the boy everything he knew about the coming 
battle, all the time wondering where the others were hiding. Surely 
LaCroix was not hold up in the ground, and he could scarcely see 
Janette deigning to get so much as a speck on her sumptuous gown, which 
had probably cost more than a year’s wages for the average working man 
in this time. God, such conspicuous waste!

“We need someplace better to hide,” said Jackie. “We’re way too 
close to the action to be safe.” 

“Yeah, I know.”

“We have to scout the area some more, Nick.”

“There are patrols out, Jackie. From both armies.”

“And tomorrow the sun will be up.”

“Yeah. Good point.”

“Not send him home?” asked Koenig, in his office. 

“Yes, Commander,” said Maya, next to Tony. “Why return him at all? 
We all saw the autopsy report on the dead man. LaCroix killed him, in 
some sort of dark ritual. Why return a murderous criminal to Earth? 
Surely, every society has its undesirables. Why would Earth need any 

“I have to agree, John,” said Tony. “While he’s committed no crime 
here on Alpha, he’s admitted to crimes back home. He’s in affect 
confessed to murder. Under normal circumstances, we’d hold him till 
whichever nation it was extradited him from Alpha.”

“Which of course isn’t going to happen,” said Koenig.

“Exactly, but in our situation screw the law. We’re all the Earth 
law there is out here, and LaCroix is from Earth. We can judge him and 
sentence him right here. We shouldn’t send him home, just so he can go 
on killing people.”

“After all, Commander,” said Maya, “he is a …vampire. He kills 
people for food, and thinks nothing of it. On my world, for what it’s 
worth, he’d never see another hour.”

“But Nick and Natalie are vampires, too. Doesn’t that make them 
evil, as well? After all, Nick is over 800 years old, to hear Nat or 
LaCroix tell it.?”

“But Nat didn’t want to become what she is, Commander,” said Maya. 
“And Nick has turned against it. He wants to be normal again. Look at 
all the good he’s done here on Alpha. All the good he did on your world 
before, through his deBrabant Foundation. It helped to fund Alpha, and 
help countless people through charities. Nick is not the sort of…well, 
man that LaCroix is. If I had to, I know who I would rather trust my 
life to.”

“I agree, John,” said Tony. “Returning LaCroix to Earth is the 
same as giving him a license to kill again. He reminds me of those scum 
at the Nuremberg trials, always trying to justify what they did, or 
mobsters who insist that it was ‘just business’. Maya’s right.”

“I agree that I have no liking for the man. He is evil. A 
sociopath, Bob calls it. But what do you suggest we do? As if I needed 
to ask.”

“Kill him. Nat’s told us some of the ways you can kill a 
..vampire. Once we get Nick and Jackie back, or we know for certain 
that we never can, we put Lucien LaCroix to death.”


“I agree,” said the Psychon. Koenig was surprised. Maya was 
usually the most pacifistic person on Alpha. For her to recommend 

“Very well,” said Koenig. “I’ll let you know what I decide.”

But they found no better place. They encountered a Norman foraging 
party of four men, and for a moment it looked bleak. Nick nearly had 
the leader convinced they were okay, when one of the soldiers, shouting 
“sorcerer!” hurled a javelin at him. He missed Nick, but the spear 
struck Jackie. 

With a snarl of rage, Nick attacked, first killing the spearman by 
smashing his body against a tree. With blinding speed, he drew his 
sword, ripping one fellow’s guts open, and beheading another on the 
backstroke. Then he tripped, going down on his back, thwacking his head 
on a rock. The leader advanced on him, sword raised to strike. Nick 
tried to clear his head and focus, realizing he had but seconds…

Till a spear ripped through the Norman’s throat from behind, and 
he dropped, gagging blood and tongue onto the ground. His nostrils 
aflame with the smell of blood Nick rose, and saw Jackie on the other 
end of the weapon.

“Take him, Nick!” said Jackie, and the inflamed Nick did so, 
draining him. “The rest to.. Come on,” urged the boy. A little 
surprised, Nick nonetheless followed suit, filling himself with the 
essence of the dead men. Done, he remembered himself and looked at 
Jackie. The boy had suffered only a glancing blow to the abdomen, the 
stout chain mail turning the point. He’d have a nasty bruise, but no 

“I killed someone,” he said at last, as Nick looked him over. 
Jackie looked down at the dark heap of the leader’s body, the gory 
spear next to him. “I…”

“Jackie, don’t. Remember, they would have killed us. You did what 
you had to do. We’d both be dead if you hadn’t acted.”

“You? But I thought vampires were immortal.”

“We can die, too. If we’re decapitated, or staked, or burned, then 
we can die.” He moved to the corpses, and rifled their sacks. Within 
were a few loaves of bread, some very late apples, and a couple of live 

“Why did that one guy shout ‘sorcerer’, Nick? I thought we had 
them snowed”

“My commlock beeped suddenly, Jackie. I’m not sure why.”

“Gold!” said Jackie, checking one purse.

“Good. Hold onto it.”

They took the weapons of the dead, and a cloak to wrap it all up 
in. Then, in the distance, they could hear a horn sound. A signal? His 
vampire senses told him that dawn was not far away. They left the dead 
for the scavengers, and sought a better place to escape the approaching 
sun. They found it in a burned-out farmstead, east of the ridge amid 
some trees. Part of the barn was still intact, and Nick hid there. From 
between the slats they could see across to the field of battle.

Nick fell asleep, albeit lightly, till Jackie roused him.


“It’s starting, Nick,” he said. “Look.”

Squinting and looking between gloved fingers, Nick risked a 
glance. The sun was behind them, so he could handle it for a bit. There 
was a throaty roar going up from the Norman lines, as their archers 
advanced. They drew bow, and let fly, pouring volley after volley into 
the English lines.

The Battle of Hastings was on.


While Maya and Victor labored on, LaCroix was declared fit to be 
released from medical supervision. At both Tony and Nat’s urging, 
straightaway he was put on trial for murder. The affair was short and 
to the point. They had the evidence, to wit one dead body, the weapon, 
Nat’s medical opinion, and LaCroix’s own words. Against LaCroix’s 
objection that Alpha was outside of Canadian jurisdiction, and 
therefore had no authority, Koenig ruled it a change of venue. Acting 
as his own attorney, LaCroix objected, and was overruled. 

Never had LaCroix faced anything like this. Someone, mere mortals! 
daring to sit in judgment of him. Who in Hades did these ants think 
they were? As if to add insult to injury, Tony produced Pierce, against 
him. When he’d been a child, his father, an FBI agent, had encountered 
LaCroix in Buffalo, while investigating a series of bizarre deaths. 
Vengeful as always, LaCroix had eliminated the troublesome fellow, 
tracking him right to his own home. Only there had been a witness. A 
witness who now recounted the events of that long-ago night in DC, when 
Lucien LaCroix had broken in to the house, and slaughtered the elder 

Needless to say, LaCroix was found guilty, and not all the 
Ciceronian eloquence at his disposal, which was considerable, could 
stay the verdict. Lucien LaCroix, aka Lucius Pontius Pilatus, was 
guilty of murder.

But what of the sentence?

Koenig was, even when faced with the blatant evil of this man, 
loath to order his death. After all, he wasn’t a judge in the usual 
sense, and this wasn’t like blowing Balor out an airlock, or detonating 
a surprise under Dione’s ship. Those were do or die situations, barren 
of the luxury of deliberation or thought. But here…What if Nat’s cure 
could be found? They didn’t even know if Nick and Jackie could be 
retrieved. Perhaps…

Koenig, much to everyone’s surprise, delayed sentencing. For now, 
LaCroix was “assigned” to work one of the mining sites on Outback. 
Emphasis on the word work. 

“But John…” Tony began, after the old vampire was lead away by 
Falxa and Hasta.

“One of the miners on Outback broke a leg,” Koenig interrupted. 
“We need a replacement at once, if we’re to stay on schedule. And, on 
the surface, he won’t be likely to pull anything, so far from his blood 
supply. Right now, it’s the best brig we have.”

“And later?” asked Pierce.

“Later, if I decide in favor of execution, he can…have an accident 
with his helmet seal, or a fatal accident on the surface.”

“In a corner, John?” asked Victor. “That’s not like you.”

“We’ve never had anyone like LaCroix, before. I have lived in fear 
that one day I might have to actually decide to kill one of our people, 
Victor, ever since we left Earth. I’m Commander, not dictator or judge. 
I’ve always been uncomfortable with capital punishment, anyway. If we 
openly execute LaCroix, his true nature might leak out. And there are 
still a few folks who fear me, like Sanderson did. I won’t risk another 
mutiny at a critical time. If we decide that LaCroix must die, we won’t 
do it openly. It’ll be in secret, and we’ll concoct a story. Agreed?” 
He looked at them all. One by one, they nodded. “Court” was adjourned, 
and Pierce was returned to duty.

LaCroix fumed. How dare they!!? To him?? A General in the 
Emperor’s army? Dig ore, like any…any slave? He wasn’t sure how, but he 
would have his revenge. 

Falxa escorted him to the Eagle hangar, and he was shown by Alan 
Carter how to suit up. He was put aboard the next Eagle to Outback, and 
shown where the emergency oxygen and the eject were, then strapped in. 
The Eagle was, he decided, actually comfortable, though Outback was 
not. Once there, he was given the tools, shown their use, and put to 
work. From his position, on the bottom of a long-gone sea, he could see 
nothing but flat, rocky desert stretching for countless miles in all 
directions, the gorgeous view broken only by an erupting volcano on the 

How picturesque.

With a sigh, he bent to it, gathering up the manganese nodules 
that littered the area, followed always by the ever-vigilant Falxa. As 
he returned his first load of ore to the Eagle, he felt his wrath begin 
to cool, and slowly began formulating his plan.

Nick slept fitfully while Jackie watched the battle surge to and 
fro. Even from several hundred yards away, he could clearly hear the 
screams of dying men and horses, ripped by the fearsome English battle-
axes. Already hundreds of dead littered the field, and still the two 
sides continued on.

It all seemed so pointless, Jackie thought. Cruelly so. Thousands 
of young men, in the prime of their lives or nearly so, were being 
slaughtered, essentially to satisfy the selfish conceit of one man. All 
the English wanted was to remain as they were, under their own system. 
A system much freer, he thought, than that which the Normans were going 
to impose. It wasn’t right, he decided. It just wasn’t…

And so musing, he fell asleep, once more.

For two more days, Lunar Time, LaCroix continued to work the drill 
site on Outback. He remained there the entire time, safely away from 
Alpha, guarded by one of the Cylons. The crew was supervised by Alan, 
who knew what LaCroix was, and adroitly saw to it that LaCroix never 
messed with the other workers. The only thing he consumed, in an opaque 
bottle, was his “medication”.

“I have to admit,” said Alan, looking at the day’s tally, “you’re 
doing pretty well. You’ve filled your quota, and then some.”

“Servio,” replied LaCroix flippantly. Alan recalled enough 
schoolboy Latin to get it, but let it slide.

“Tell me about yourself,” Alan went on. Though he knew what 
LaCroix was, and hated it, he nonetheless had orders to keep him in one 
piece. For the moment, and casual conversation seemed better than 
fighting, so…

Perfect, thought LaCroix.

“What has Nicholas told you?”

“A few things. Not much. You were a General, once. A Roman. 
Something about you lived in Pompeii.”

“Yes, I did.”

There was a beep. A call from Alpha for Alan. It was Athena, with 
some mundane report about something in the Eagle hangar, followed by a 
stomach-churning round of “How’s the baby”s, and a choking miasma of “I 
love you”s. LaCroix tried not to wretch. Athena at last, Jupiter be 
praised, signed off. 

“My wife,” Alan explained, pointing to the monitor.

“So I gathered,” replied LaCroix.

“You ever been married?” Alan asked him. “It’s great, trust me.”

“Ah, wedded bliss. Waking up to a pair of pigtails on the pillow 
that were not there before,” he said disdainfully. He was silent a 
moment. “Yes, Captain. I was once.”


“As a youth, as was the custom in those days. I was 16, she was 

LaCroix drifted back to those days. The girl, Holconia, came from 
a wealthy and influential family. It was a good match, and the girl 
even came to love him. It was a beautiful and blissful union.

Until the day he returned home from business in the Forum, 
watching his father give a speech in the Senate before the Emperor 
Claudius, to find the house his father-in-law had given them on fire, 
Holconia, the baby, and several of the slaves trapped inside. Despite 
heroic efforts by himself, the neighbors, and even a few passing 
Praetorians, it was hopeless.

Young Lucius had been crushed. Completely beaten down. For two 
days he had wept, very un-Romanlike. So overcome with grief had he been 
that he’d slit his wrists, wanting only to see and be with his family, 
once more. He’d failed, thanks to the vigilance of both his mother, and 
his old nurse. 

He’d healed, but only on the outside. Once he was well enough, he 
performed the appropriate rites for the dead, and then left. Left, and 
joined the army, rising within less than 20 years from grunt, to 

“Sounds kind of young,” said Alan. “Teens.”

“It was the Roman Way, Mr. Carter. Like most Roman boys, I was 
taken to the Forum when I turned sixteen, given my first shave, and 
allowed to don the toga virilis, or manly gown, signifying that I was 
now an adult citizen. I then married the girl my parents had chosen for 
me. It was my duty.”

“Duty? What about love?”

“A minor consideration for our society, then. We Romans were bred 
to duty. Ingested it with our mother’s milk. It was our way.” He sat 
quietly a moment, lost in the past.

“What happened to her?” Carter asked finally.

“She died young,” he replied simply. For the barest instant, Alan 
saw regret in LaCroix’s eyes. Had he loved her? Had her death changed 
him, perhaps made him the hard, callous man he now was? Was there, far 
down inside, still something Human left?

Then it was gone, and he was the same old LaCroix.

All through the conversation, LaCroix had been probing the edges 
of Alan’s mind. Natalie had warned him that Alan was a resister, and 
LaCroix’s subtil probing confirmed it. But, as with Don Schanke and 
Tracy Vetter, there were ways of working around that. He rose.

“Where you headed?”

“What you picturesquely call the head, Captain. Even we, now and 
then, are required to visit the facilities.

“Oh. Yeah. Right.”

Once inside, LaCroix searched through the medical supplies. Yes! 
Now, once Carter was asleep…   

Jackie awoke again, and looked out. The battle still raged on, the 
bodies piling up. The Norman horsemen were in the midst of being 
repulsed by the English shield-wall, and both men and horses tumbled 
screaming down the hill in an avalanche of blood and death.

“How goes it?” asked Nick awake suddenly.

“Just like the history books said, Nick,” replied Jackie. “The 
Normans just got their butts kicked at the shield-wall again. Can you 

“Yeah,” said Nicholas, and rose up to peer through the slats. The 
light stung a bit, but he could see well enough. Surviving Normans were 
retreating down the hill, a few foolish English pursuing them to their 
own doom. Like Jackie, he shook his head at the utter waste of it all. 
“What time is it?”

“Uh…a little after three,” said Jackie, checking his commlock, 
reset to local time. “If we got this right.”

“It’ll do,” said Nick. At this time of year, the sun would set 
soon. Five or so, he thought. Then he could go out. But…

Where were the others?

“What?” he asked, hearing Jackie swear.

“Dunno, Nick. The commlock was acting weird.”


“Yeah. Look.”

Nick drew his own. For a moment all he got was snow and static. 
Then, the picture cleared, telling him the time. Odd. Solar flare, 
maybe? Huh. He shrugged it off, and went back to the battle.


“Victor, look!” said Maya, in the power room. The old academic 
turned and regarded her. “It’s Nick! We’ve found them!”

“Let’s see,” said Victor, as usual as calm as a forest pool. He 
looked at her screen, switching from the video to a graphic showing 
countless waveforms, then back again. “John,” he called into his 

“You’re certain?” asked Nat, with Koenig and the scientists.

“Yes,” said Maya. “Nick’s transfer through the rift left a …well, 
a wake Natalie.”

“A wake?”

“It’s like the rift is still open, sort of. The quantum…” She 
stopped, realizing that Nat wasn’t up to an hour or so of uninterrupted 
technobabble. “Well, suffice it to say that enough of the rift remains 
open that we can receive signals from the other end. Just under half an 
hour ago, we got one. From a commlock.”

“Nick’s using his commlock,” said Nat. “Just like LaCroix said.”

“Yes, and enough came through to get this,” said Victor. He put a 
picture up on a monitor. Fuzzy and distorted, it was nonetheless 
recognizable as Jackie Crawford.

“He’s okay, then,” said Koenig.

“Nick?” asked Natalie.

“Yes,” said Maya. “A few seconds later, another signal came 
through.” She put up a shot of Nick. “It is possible our scanning for 
them was picked up, and caused interference with their units. After 
all, in your Middle Ages, there was nothing else to pick up.” Nat 
studied the image. Nick was scruffy. Dirty. His hair and beard grown 
long. Man, he must be living rough.

“Can we get him now?” she asked.

“We have a few more refinements to make to our settings,” said 
Victor, “that and a power test. But we should be ready for a try by 
2230 tonight.”

“Good,” said Natalie.

“Professor Bergman,” said Sanderson, over the commlock. Victor 
answered it. “We’ve got some new data on Outback, sir.”

“Right, I’ll be there.” Almost at the same moment, Sahn called 
from Command Center for Koenig, with urgent news.

“Uh oh,” said Koenig.

As the light began to fail, Nick watched William’s archers loose 
yet more volleys. This time, it did the trick, and the Saxon shield 
wall at last began to crack. Soon Duke William and his troops were 
smashing through it, and Harold’s cause, and his kingdom, was doomed. 
In the final fight around his standard, they watched the hideous 
carnage as body piled upon body, till at last Harold Godwinson, last 
Saxon King of England, finally disappeared from view, under the hacking 
swords of four Normans. 

Some of Harold’s warriors fought on, but Nick turned away. Even 
from here, the scent of all that fresh blood was maddening, and he 
could feel the Beast begin to stir. He fought for control, and reached 
for the leather bottle in his cloak. The bloodwine dulled his hunger 
for a while, and he looked back outside. The English survivors were 
fleeing into the gathering gloom, and he got up.

“Come on, Jackie.”


“We’ve got to go. The woods will be full of retreating English, 
soon. We don’t want to be found.”


As he spoke, Nick felt it. The nearness of one of his own kind. 
LaCroix and Co. were up too, and active. Which meant he had to, not 
escape, but seek them out!


Soon, he and his young charge were mounted, and heading off into 
the near darkness.

It was a double whammy waiting for Koenig in Command Center. 
According to Sanderson’s report, Outback’s magnetic field was beginning 
to ripple again. Alpha’s gravity was affecting the planet’s rotation 
once more. The magnetic field would spike, and flip once more. But 

And, add to the upbeat mood, Alpha’s enhanced sensors had detected 
a comet, heading their way at high velocity.

Make that a huge comet.

“Computer modeling show’s that Alpha’s the culprit,” said Athena. 
“The comet would have missed the planet by nearly seven million miles, 
but the Moon’s gravity has perturbed it.”


“Sometime tomorrow,” said Athena. “But that’s not all, sir.” She 
put a high resolution magnification up on the screen. “See?”

“Yes,” said Koenig. “She’s breaking up.” The head of the comet was 
visibly beginning to fragment. “Will any of it hit Alpha?”

“That depends on whether it breaks up fully before hitting 
Outback. If not, we may just miss it.”

“And if not?”

“We’ll be facing towards the comet when it passes,” said Victor. 

“Meaning we could catch it,” said Koenig. “Okay everyone, keep on 
it. See if you can refine it any further, Athena. Sahn, contact Alan on 
the surface. Tell him I want all mineral teams to close down, and be 
ready to return to Alpha by 1800 tonight. No later.”

“Yes, Commander.”

“Maya?” asked Koenig, returning to the power room. “You’ve got 

“Yes. What have you decided about LaCroix?”


“You can’t send him back.”

“I know. We’ve discussed this, Maya.”

“No, I mean for physical reasons.”

“Physical? Is there another problem?”

“It appears so.” She indicated a graphic. “Mass. The passage of 
any mass through the rift alters its parameters. See?” Koenig pretended 
he did. “Nick and Jackie are retrievable with few unknowns. But LaCroix 
came through with another man.”

“Who’s now been buried on Outback,” said Koenig. It had seemed a 
humane gesture at the time. Certainly more so than cremation in Alpha’s 
electric arc furnace, he’d sent the body down with one of the mineral 

“Which leaves us short almost 200 pounds,” said Maya. Helena 
estimated his weight in life at about 180 or so. LaCroix weighs in at 
237. If we were to send him through by himself, he might not end up 
exactly where we meant him to go. He might shift in time, or space. We 
cannot be sure.”

“And I’m certainly not digging up a dead man,” said Koenig.

“So, we must not return him,” said Maya. “After all, he has been 
killing for nearly 2,000 of your years, Commander. We had creatures of 
his like on Psychon, once. He is just the same. And,” she sighed, quiet 
a moment. 

“And what?”

“Well, he’s planning something, Commander. He’s…plotting. 
Something evil. I know it.”

“How can you tell?”

“That look in his eye. I have seen it before, Commander. The look 
of someone with dark designs. I’ve seen it before.”


“My…my father, just after he detected Picard’s Eagle heading for 

LaCroix had to admit that flying in space could be exhilarating. 
As the Eagle took off and he watched Outback fall away beneath the 
ship, he decided that perhaps he understood now why some people had 
opted for the space program. He was up in the cockpit with Alan, the 
cargo area being full, Falxa in the service module. He sat transfixed 
as Outback’s atmosphere thinned to black, and Alan turned her towards 
the Moon.

Carter had proven a tough nut to crack, being very resistant to 
hypnotism. He’d judiciously applied the power, dropping in a word here 
and there, and hoped it would be enough. The recall signal had come 
sooner than he expected; would it be sufficient?

“Eagle Four to Alpha,” said Alan, as he kicked in thrusters, “we 
have LOI. ETA Alpha 93 minutes, 4 seconds, mark.”

“Eagle Four from Alpha, we copy,” said Kate, in Command Center.

“I must say, your people are most efficient,” said LaCroix, 
scratching at his regrowing hair. “Almost like a legion, in some ways.”

“We have to be, stuck out here in space. I’ll bet you had to be, 
too, stuck out on the frontiers, far from Rome.”

“Indeed. We often had to make due with less than full resources.”

“Must have felt good, to get home from the Front.”

“Very much so.”

“Pompeii, right?”

“Yes. It was a very pleasant place, then. The Bay of Naples still 

“I visited there once, with my folks when I was a kid.” For a 
moment he scowled, remembering his sister, Sally, the survivor of a 
vampire attack. Though she’d survived, she’d never really recovered. He 
tossed that thought away. “It was kind of spooky, all those plaster 

“Indeed. I revisited there myself, a year ago. It was surprisingly 
little damaged by the Moon’s departure. Vesuvius was quiet.”

“That’s good to hear. Which house was yours?”

“It had not yet been excavated, the last I heard, Captain,” said 
LaCroix. “It was next to that of Caecelius the banker.” To whom, 
LaCroix recalled, he’d been heavily in debt before Vesuvius balanced 
all accounts. 

“I saw that one. Interesting fellow, from the bio they had.”

“Yes, he certainly knew how to throw a party.” LaCroix fell 
silent, thinking back. He wondered what lay beneath the ruins of his 
old place. Who would the archaeologist find first? Proconsul Flavius? 
Selene? For a moment he found himself thinking about her, his mistress, 
and the mother of Divia. He had not seen her, after awakening to the 
eruption of Vesuvius, and being brought across. When asked about her, 
all his daughter had said was “She is doomed”. Had she survived? He 
never knew, one way or the other. He found himself actually missing 
her, strongly, and hoped that she had escaped Vusuvius’ wrath. Missed 
her. Yes, by Jupiter’s beard, he missed…

He shook off these feelings. How distasteful, these episodes of 
regret. Thankfully, they came along only every century or two. They 
would certainly become most tiresome, otherwise.

“Nick said your father was famous, too,” said Alan, voice less 
friendly now. LaCroix watched the approaching Moon through the cockpit 
windows for a moment or two before responding.

“Yes,” LaCroix said at last. “He was. Is.”

“Pontius Pilate.”

“Yes,” said LaCroix, almost in a growl. The very mention of his 
famous, or rather infamous father, irritated him at best. 

“Look, I’m curious. One of the most famous men in all history, and 
we know next to nothing about him.”

“If only I could say the same, Captain Carter.”


“Let us just say,” said LaCroix, taking a deep breath and keeping 
his composure, “that today one of your child welfare agencies would 
have us in foster homes, and him in jail.”

“Abusive. I see.”

“Yes, even by the standards of my era.”

“Was your mother…”

“Captain, might we just drop the subject? It is not one I choose 
to wallow in.”


“Enough!” snarled LaCroix, eyes momentarily red. “No more of it!” 
All this reminiscing had taken its toll. Remembering his father was bad 
enough, but thoughts of his beloved mother, dying right after Holconia 
and the baby…

“Okay,” said Alan, momentarily frightened by the display. As per 
LaCroix’s hope, his barriers had dropped a bit, and the old Roman 
pushed a thought while glaring into his eyes. It was quiet in the 
cockpit for a few minutes, then Alan spoke. “Man, I’m thirsty.”


“I’ll just…” began Alan, sliding the seat back.

“Allow me,” said LaCroix. “You must pilot. I shall fetch…what?”

“Coffee,” said Alan. “Cream and sugar. And, well, we don’t have 
anything in your area.”

“That’s quite alright,” said LaCroix. “Water will do. My throat is 
somewhat dry as well.”

He went back to the service module, and under Falxa’s questions 
and gaze, got Alan a cup of coffee, and a cup of water for himself. 
Once his back was turned to Falxa, he dropped the capsules into Alan’s 
cup. After a minute or two, his head plopped forward, and LaCroix hit 
the autopilot. He checked the chronometer. ETA Alpha in just under one 

“Captain,” he said, raising Alan’s head. Carter tried to open his 
eyes, but the Demerol was dragging him down. Had he given him too much, 
LaCroix wondered? “Open your eyes, Captain. Open them!” Alan tried, 
mind a fog. “Listen to me, Captain. Listen to my voice.”

“Liss…listen…” slurred Alan, as LaCroix poured it on. “When we 
return to Alpha, you will do certain things for me. Do you understand?”

“…things. Things.”

“Exactly. Now, once we return, you will bring Mr. Pierce to my 
quarters. Do you understand?”

“Pierce. Your…quarters.”

“Very good, Captain. And then, there is Carolyn Powell.”


Near the edge of the battlefield, Nick paused. He felt one of the 
others. He looked across the carnage, and saw him there. LaCroix. 
Finishing off some poor soul hovering near death. His dark task quickly 
done, he moved on, seeking out other dying men.

For his part, Nick wished to be able to shield Jackie from such 
sights, but dared not leave him alone somewhere. The risk was too 

Where? Where was he? And where was Aristotle? 

“Water,” someone cried, and Nick looked down. A man, face swollen 
and bloody, arm limp, lay staring up at him. Fighting down his hunger, 
he got down, and washed the other’s face and wounds with a little water 
from Jackie’s canteen. He tore a strip from the knight’s tunic, and 
bound up his arm. The wounded man cried out in pain, but Nick looked 
into his eyes, and he soon fell into a peaceful sleep. He looked again 
at his coat-of-arms. No. Not him. 

“Nick,” said Jackie, tugging at his cloak. “Look!” Nick turned, 
and saw armed men approaching, but after a moment he could also see the 

“It’s okay, Jackie,” said Nick. “They’re collecting the wounded.” 
They stood, and after a few words, helped lift the wounded soldier onto 
the stretcher. That one, at least, would escape LaCroix’s fangs, and 
live to see another sunrise. The medics did not question a French-
speaking knight on the field, and he was free to move on. 

He searched through the heaps of dead men, looking for both 
Aristotle and survivors. He found LaCroix’s handiwork on a few, and 
cursed the old vampire. He helped two more, and watched several die, 
then came upon another.

“Nick, why are we doing this? I thought you had to find this 
Aristotle guy,” asked Jackie. 

“I do, but…” He knelt down, and removed the fallen soldier’s badly 
dented helmet.

“Nick!” said Jackie in shock. “He looks just like…”

“Ah,” said LaCroix, suddenly upon the scene, “if it be not the 
Angel of Mercy.”

“This one is mine!” said Nick, sharply. “Do you hear me?”

“I shall have him,” said LaCroix.

Nick ignored him, removing an arrow from the wounded man. 
Fortunately it had not gone very deep, and had missed the heart. He 
pulled it out and washed the wound as best he could. 

“Do you hear me?” said LaCroix. “Give him me!”

Nick looked up at him, and could see the bloodlust in his eyes. He 
understood it. LaCroix was gorged with the blood of warriors, men whose 
blood had been filled with the lust of battle, the rage to kill or die 
killing. That bellicosity was raging through LaCroix’s brain right now, 
making him even less reasonable than usual. “Go away,” he ordered 
LaCroix, and turned back to the injured soldier. LaCroix laughed, 
baring his fangs.

“You heard him!” said Jackie suddenly and unexpectedly. “Get the 
hell outta here, buttwad!”

LaCroix turned to glare at the boy, eyes going red. No one spoke 
thus to him! The pup! He moved, with great speed, and belted Jackie 
across the mouth. Jackie flew off nearly twenty feet, landing in a 

“I’ll take you too,” snarled LaCroix, but suddenly his way was 
blocked by Nick, hands gripping his arms.

“Go! While you can,” said Nick, fangs down, eyes red. “They are 
mine. Seek other prey!”

 “The Furies take you!” snarled LaCroix, and heaved against Nick. 
Nick flew back, and was just as quickly on LaCroix again. He kneed the 
old General in the crotch, and LaCroix bellowed in pain, following it 
up with a fist in the face. He both heard and felt LaCroix’s nose 
break, and felt the blood on his hand. LaCroix retaliated with a kick, 
sending him sailing into a pile of dead.

“I shall glut upon thee as well!” hissed LaCroix, his face 
starting to heal. “How dare…” He never finished, for Nick slammed into 
him  with great speed, cracking ribs and ramming him into the blood-
soaked turf. 

“Maya?” asked Nat, at the controls.

“I’ve got the date set,” said the Psychon. Looking up, the 
transport chamber was glowing, dull and fuzzy images swirling within 
it. “But the battle covered a huge area. Where at Hastings?”

“Here,” said Nat, and drawing her commlock, keyed in Nick’s 

Jackie awoke to pain and noise. His right shoulder hurt like hell, 
and he saw, once his vision had cleared, a scene from the same place. 
Two vampires, fangs bared, in “mortal” combat. LaCroix kicked, barely 
missing Nick’s knees, while Nick brought both fists down on the other’s 
shoulder blades, hard enough to send blood spewing from his nose and 
mouth. The old vampire stumbled, going to his knees. 

“Thou art far…stronger than you look,” he gurgled, looking up at 
Nick. “Who wast thy Master?”

“Go to hell,” said Nick, and landed a mailed boot in the other’s 
face. After a brief cry of pain, LaCroix was off the ground, and had 
Nick in a bear hug. The old Roman was terribly strong, still full of 
the blood he’d taken, and Nick felt his crushing strength. 

But he was hardly weak himself. Baring his fangs, he buried then 
in LaCroix’s neck, and pulled. After a mouthful of his Master’s blood, 
he yanked back, ripping a horrific wound in LaCroix and bringing forth 
a scream. LaCroix let go, staggering back as blood gushed from the 

“Damn…you!” he cursed, blood running from mouth and throat. He 
staggered, going to his knees once more.

Jackie knew he had to help, but how? Except for Polanski’s The 
Fearless Vampire Killers, and an episode or two of Buffy, he wasn’t 
much up on killing these creatures. After all, supposedly they were 
already dead. Well, when one was in need, one improvised. He took up 
two pieces of a broken lance from a dead soldier, and made a rough 
cross. As quickly as his injuries allowed, he moved in front of 

LaCroix hissed in horror and disgust as he saw it. Unable to flee, 
he recoiled as Jackie shoved it in his face, his skin beginning to burn 
under it. With a cry of “Die, asshole!” Jackie speared him with the 
steel point, pinning him to the ground. LaCroix screamed, and lay 

“Thanks,” grasped Nick, nearly exhausted. He got up, and led 
Jackie back to the injured man. He was, slowly, reviving. Nick felt his 
pulse. Weak, but not dangerously so. He gave the fellow water, and 
helped him to a sitting position. The wounded knight thanked Nick in a 
weak voice, and Jackie could not believe his eyes. The two of them…

They turned, as a scream like a damned soul came towards them from 
behind. LaCroix, savaged but still functional, was moving towards them, 
eyes ablaze with fury and hate. He pulled the lance from his gut, and 
broke it with his fingers. He spoke no words, just the growlings of a 
mad beast. He knocked Nick aside, and went for Jackie.

But Jackie was prepared. He had taken up a discarded English 
battle-axe, as a crutch for the injured knight. Seeing LaCroix 
advancing on him, he reacted without hesitation. With a strength one 
would never have expected from his size, he gripped the fearsome 
weapon, all seven feet of it, raised it and swung, a scream escaping 
from his mouth as he did so. LaCroix, beyond thought, didn’t, or 
couldn’t, get out of the way. The hideous tool of death sank deep into 
his gut, ripping organs and snapping bones all the way to his spine. He 
did not scream this time, only gasped loudly, and fell to the side, 
rolling partway down the hill, axe still buried in him. He came to rest 
against a heap of other bodies face up, entrails spilling, eyes 

“Oh God,” cried Jackie, starting to shake like a leaf. “What 

“It’s okay,” said Nick, embracing the boy. “Don’t worry, it’ll be 
okay.” At that moment, more men with stretchers appeared, and took 
Nick’s patient in charge. One of them looked at Jackie, gore-spattered, 
and voiced approval.

“Come on,” said Nick, once they were gone. “Let’s go. I’ve got to 
find Aristotle.”

“Nick? I…”

“LaCroix sent out a mental cry for help, to Janette. We must go 
before she gets here, Jackie. Besides, they’ll be time for our feelings 
later. Come on.”

Victor was, much to his own annoyance, wrong. The comet would 
impact sooner than expected. The Moon’s gravity was accelerating it 
more quickly than predicted. On top of that, the head was now visibly 
coming apart. No question. Alpha was going to get it. Also, as Alpha 
drew closer in its orbit to Outback, the ripples in the planet’s 
magnetic field were increasing. It would not be long. 

The last of the Eagles landed, and began off-loading their cargo. 
As the storage bins were filled, they had to resort to stacking crates 
in the corridors, or piling them up in the catacombs. This part of the 
operation, at least, had wildly exceeded all expectations. 

Which, LaCroix hoped, his plan would as well. As Falxa escorted 
him to Medical, he hoped Alan’s status on Alpha would overcome any 
objections to the suggestions he had planted. Though Verdeschi was in 
charge of Security, carter seemed to engender more respect among the 
Alphans.  A pity, since Verdeschi was, he could see, no resister. 
Still, you did the best with what you had. 

He had counted on being taken to his quarters first, but upon 
reflection decided that it didn’t really matter. Natalie was not here, 
but in the power room. Helena was tending a minor injury elsewhere, and 
he was greeted by Ed Spencer.


“Helena should be back, shortly,” said Spencer, over his shoulder. 
He was studying one of Outback’s few remaining indigenous life-forms, 
and paid LaCroix little heed.

Pierce fumed, as he logged off duty, and headed for his quarters. 
He was barred from all contact with LaCroix, and all attempts at 
reasoning with Koenig had been to no avail. The CIA file on Koenig had 
been, he decided, right on the money. Once made up, his mind was as 
inflexible as a battleship’s hull. He entered his rooms, and tossed his 
jacket aside. As long as LaCroix was free…


He checked his commlock. Interesting. What did he want?

“Yes, Alan?”

LaCroix turned, as Carter entered the ward with Pierce. He smiled. 
Dr. Spencer did not.

“You are barred from all contact with LaCroix,” said Falxa to 

“It was necessary to bring him here,” said Alan, a little vaguely. 
“He is ill. There is a security problem down on Level Five, Falxa. Go 
at once.”

“I have heard nothing from Security Chief Verdeschi,” droned the 
machine, after a moment.

“There is a communications breakdown, there. I was sent to call 
you. Go at once.”

“By your command,” said the cybernaut, and left. Spencer stood, 
thoroughly puzzled now.  


“Doctor,” said LaCroix, turning to Spencer. “Return to your 
quarters at once.”

“Re…return…” mumbled Ed.

“Yes. At once, Doctor.”

Without another word, Ed left. Pierce looked in bewilderment from 
him, to LaCroix. “What the hell am I doing here?”

“Dying,” said LaCroix with a smile. He looked to Alan, who 
wordlessly snatched Pierce’s laser, and stunned him. He crumpled to the 
floor with barely a groan. LaCroix watched him fall, then ordered Alan 
to lock the door, moving to the door to the next ward. Not coded, it 
opened freely. On the floor, Carolyn Powell was crouched, playing with 
a small plastic truck, and a doll which she kept running over with it.

Some things never change.

“Carolyn,” said LaCroix, and the woman looked up, eyes wide. 
LaCroix, fangs down, tore the transponder from his arm, and tossed it 
into a corner. The wound at once began to close, Carolyn fixing wide, 
puzzled eyes on him. “Carolyn, do you remember me?” She looked at him, 
but there was no flash of recognition. Her brows furrowed, but there 
was no flicker of memory. “Well,” said LaCroix, reaching down and 
bringing her to her feet, “I remember you.” He looked deeply into her 
eyes, and probed. Yes! Perfect! Like a blank page, or a lump of wet 
clay. “And I remember my promise, as well. Can you say ‘Master’?” 

Carolyn, of course, said nothing.

“Well, let it never be said that LaCroix doesn’t go the extra 
light-year to keep his word.” 


Nick flew across country, senses wide. There! Below, on the north 
side of a hill, he sensed another vampire. He and Jackie settled to the 
ground, near a tree, and looked out.

It was a deep ditch, crossed by an old decrepit causeway, and the 
Normans were trying to force it. In darkness and unfamiliar with the 
area, many of them, along with their horses, tumbled headlong into it, 
to be hacked to bits by English troops still fighting on. Javelins, 
arrows, and stones rained down upon them, and the smell of blood 
slammed into Nick once more. He also felt the other vampire very near. 

There! Leaving Jackie in some brush, he braved the ravine, and 
found him. There, amidst the heaps of dead and dying Normans, was 
Aristotle. Cradling a broken arm and badly hurt, he was down and at the 
mercy of a soldier with a spear. With his speed, Nick knocked him 
askew, and scooped up the old forger. Within moments he was back with 

Aristotle was in a bad way. Not only had he a crushed arm, but 
he’d been torn by a spear, and had a leg smashed by a stone. Nick 
poured the last of the bloodwine into Aristotle’s mouth, and watched 
his wounds begin to close faster. He offered his wrist to Aristotle. 
The wounded vampire sucked greedily till Nick pulled away. The other 
lay back, and his eyes slowly closed.

“What a fool I’ve been,” he sighed.

“So I see,” replied Nicholas.

“I thought to lay in wait in yon ditch. Had I known it would 
become a battlefield…”

“Put it out of thy mind. Rest.”

“I…am in thy debt,” said Aristotle. “That warrior would have 
pierced my heart. Thou hast…”

“Tis done, sir. Leave it…”

“Nay, but I am thy debtor. If ever thou hast need of aught, I am 
thy servant.” Slowly he rose to a sitting position. “Papers, hiding 
places, letters. All are thine, Nicholas.”

“As thou wishest,” said Nick. He could see the confusion in the 
other. He only hoped that in his dazed and confused state, he would 
remember nothing of the blood knowledge, and the future. But he dared 
not try and make him forget, lest the whole loop of this reality come 

Aristotle got to his feet, and tried out his restored limbs and 
joints. Except for stiffness and some pain, all seemed ship shape. He 
thanked Nick again, then looked down at Jackie. “Serve thy Master well, 
young Jacque,” he told the boy. “He is noble, and one day, mayhap, 
shall reward thee.”

“I will, sir,” said Jackie. Just then, there was a scream, and a 
spear sailed close. 

“Tis time to flee,” said Aristotle. “Till we meet again, 
Nicholas.” With that, the old forger was off into the night. A moment 
later, Nick had taken to the air with Jackie. The timing was great, for 
just then, Nick’s commlock began to beep. 

“Got him!” said Maya, as an image began to coalesce in the 
transport chamber. It was dark and vague, but they could see movement. 
A man in a cloak of some kind, and what looked like a tree. 

“You sure?” asked Nat, trying to divine what the displays meant. 

“Yes,” said the Psychon, adjusting something. “The date’s right, 
and so are the geographical coordinates.”

“See?” said Athena, next to her. She pointed to a graphic of 
Earth. “Right here, in your northern hemisphere. This island.” She 
magnified the picture. “England. The place called, uhh…’Hastings’.”

“Hastings.” said Nat. “But…Battle of Hastings? Of course! 

“Commander,” called Sahn over the commlock.

“Yes?” answered Koenig.

“Astrophysics reports the comet is accelerating its breakup, sir,” 
she informed him. “A piece of it is projected to impact near Alpha in 
fourteen minutes, nineteen seconds.”

“Understood,” replied Koenig.

“And the planet’s magnetic field is rippling more as well, sir.”

“Estimated time to shift?”

“Unknown, sir.”

“Alright. Activate the force field.”

“Yes, sir.”

Almost at once, the images faded out. Maya clicked some switches. 

“What happened?” asked Nat tensely.

“Our deflectors are up,” said Koenig. “A chunk of that comet’s 
going to come down near Alpha.”

“While the shields are up, we can’t scan for them,” said Athena.

“We’ll have to wait,” said Maya.

“How long?” asked Nat and Tony at once, irritation rising.

“Yes, how long?” said a voice, and they turned. Pierce was 
entering the power room, though it had not been his voice. Behind him 
were LaCroix, Alan, and…

“Carolyn?” said Koenig. He reached for his commlock.

“Do not,” said LaCroix, quickly seizing the laser from Pierce. 
“Disarm, all of you. Kick the weapons towards me.”

“Alan?” cried Athena, not believing what she was seeing. “How…”

“Do it now, or I shall shoot Mrs. Carter first!” ordered LaCroix. 
Having no choice, they obeyed. 

“Oh my God!” whispered Nat, who sensed what had changed. 

“Where’s Falxa or Hasta?” asked Tony. “Alan?”

“Down on your level five,” said LaCroix, “which is now securely 
locked down and incommunicado, thanks to Mr. Pierce.” 

“Alan, what the hell’s going on?” yelled Verdeschi.

“Mr. Carter is under my control for the moment,” said LaCroix. “He 
has very kindly helped me escape, and commandeer Mr. Pierce. Now, you 
will send me back, or I shall destroy Alpha.”

“We can’t,” said Koenig. “Our screens are up. There’s a comet on 
the way towards us. We don’t dare lower…”

“A nice try, Commander. Activate that device.”

“We can’t!” shouted Koenig. “We…”

“Very well.” He looked at Carolyn. Much to everyone’s horror, she 
now sported the amber eyes and fangs of the vampire. LaCroix smiled, 
and it was a malignant smile.

“Daddy,” said Carolyn, in a very childish, immature voice, looking 
at LaCroix. No one had heard her speak in months, but there was no 
forgetting that voice. “Hungry.”

“Of course. How remiss of me. You may feed, My Dear,” said the old 
General, and motioned towards Pierce. The Security man screamed as 
Carolyn attacked him, taking him in a grip of steel and sinking her 
teeth into his throat. Nat recognized it…First Feeding. Pierce was 
Carolyn’s first victim. LaCroix had kept him alive for his knowledge of 
Security codes, his voice, and as Carolyn’s first meal. Pierce 
struggled and thrashed, but the outcome was never in doubt. He gave a 
last gargled cry of pain, and sagged in her arms. Carolyn continued to 
pull, draining every last bit of life from him, then dropped the corpse 
to the floor. The sight of her face, befanged and bloody with eyes red, 
disgusted even Natalie. Were it only Carolyn, she was sure she could 
take her. She was, after all, only a fledgling, barely a few minutes 

But LaCroix…

“Ahhhh. Good to the last drop,” said LaCroix, watching the look on 
his new daughter’s face. “Now, Mrs. Verdeschi. I have, as you see, 
solved the mass problem. And I have no compunction about doing what it 
takes. Activate that device.” No one moved. “Do it, or I shall let her 
loose on Mr. Carter, and then the whole base.” 

“Security will cut her down,” said Tony.

“And how many of your people will she take first, eh? Especially 
with half your department locked down below? Two? Five? A dozen?” Still 
nothing. LaCroix’s face went cold. “How about this, then?” He ran his 
laser up to “kill”, and pointed it at the power coils. “The whole room 
goes up, and Alpha with it.”

“Daddy, hungry,” said Carolyn again. “I’m hungry.”

“Patience, child,” said LaCroix. “Well?” He smiled as Koenig 
relented, and ordered the deflectors turned off. At once, Maya powered 
up the equipment again. 

“Scanning,” she reported. 

While the wounded were being tended, and The Conqueror slept in 
his tent amidst the carnage he had created, Nick and Jackie were 
getting as far away from there as they could. While LaCroix had been 
very handily dealt with by Jackie, Nick knew that he wouldn’t be down 
for long. And he wasn’t going to be too happy, either.

He and Jackie at last came down near a farmstead. A quick sweep of 
the place showed it was abandoned, no doubt in fear of the Normans. 
They went into the house, and Jackie searched for food, not too sure 
just when he’d eaten last.

“Jackie,” said Nick, as the boy found a hunk of bread and some 
cheese in the larder, “what you did earlier.”

“Yeah?” Jackie had demolished one piece of bread, and was making 
an impromptu sandwich with the rest. There was no wine, only a little 
milk that had not yet soured.

“Don’t let it get to you. You did what every warrior does in 
battle. You did what you had to.”

“Yeah,” said Jackie, shrugging. Still hungry, he dug deeper into 
the food, finding some ham, and what looked like turnips. 

“Jackie, don’t…”

“Nick, I’m eating.” he snapped back. “Just cool it, okay?” He 
stuffed something into his mouth. Nick gave up for the moment, letting 
his charge eat. Which reminded him he was getting hungry, too. Fighting 
LaCroix, helping Aristotle, then flying had all drained him. He sniffed 
the air. When the farmer had fled, he’d left at least some of his 
livestock behind him. No doubt, one of them would provide what he 
needed. When Jackie had finished for the moment, he stuffed more food 
into a leather sack, and Nick put a few silver pennies in their place. 
He led Jackie out towards the barn. He listened. It was quiet…

But not for long. In the distance, he could hear men approaching 
on horseback. Damn! 


“People are coming, Jackie.”

“Let’s go, then.”

“I…I can’t, Jackie. “I’m too weak to fly. I need blood.”

“Would…would some of mine help?” Nick could hear the fear in his 
charge’s voice, and for a moment his own eyes flashed in hunger.

“No! You…you don’t have enough. I’d take too much, and you’d die.”

“Well, what then?” There aren’t any horses.”

“Into the barn!” ordered Nick, and they ran for the fairly new 
structure. Inside were several animals, and Nick looked them over. 
Several chickens, a cow, some pigs and geese. He’d made up his mind 
which when they heard horses enter the barnyard. With a burst of energy 
he could ill afford, he shot up into the loft to hide. He was obviously 
weak, even to Jackie, and Jackie took his knife, and made a short cut 
on his arm. He put it under Nick’s nose…

The vampire dove for it, without a thought. He pulled, feeling 
Jackie’s thoughts and fears, as well as, much to his surprise, those of 
the long-gone Jarak. Those of the alien interloper disgusted him, and 
he pulled away.

“I told you no!” he said, wiping his mouth. 

“And I need you, to help me survive,” countered Jackie. “Besides, 
isn’t a squire always supposed to help his knight?”

“Blood isn’t usually part of the deal,” said Nick. “But…thanks, 
anyway.” He already felt a little better, the tiredness in his limbs 
easing some. “Hush!” he ordered, as the barn door burst open. Below, 
armed men, three of them and Saxon from their speech, entered. From 
their talk, Nick understood they were survivors of Hastings, having 
barely escaped the carnage. Much to his annoyance, they were planning 
on staying the night.

The blood from their wounds excited the Beast inside, but he held 
firm reign on it. He would not take advantage of helpless men. But he 
would study them. One man he recognized. The sentry that had stopped he 
and Jackie on the road. Interesting. The second, a smaller man, he did 
not. The third, wrapped in a cloak, was almost as big as the first, and 
Nick could sense that he was badly hurt. One of the men built a small 
fire in the middle of the dirt floor, and the big man’s cloak fell 
back, revealing his face.


“Nick!” whispered Jackie. It’s…”

“King Harold.”

Pondering what to do next, things were complicated by one of the 
commlock’s beeping, the noise sounding like a shout in this place. The 
warriors looked up, and they could hear steel being drawn. “You there!” 
barked the big one. “Come down!”


Quickly, before Nick could make protest, Jackie obeyed. Both 
commlocks were beeping, now. The big man pointed his still bloody sword 
at Jackie, expression decidedly unkind. 

“Who art thou, boy?” Jackie said nothing at first. “Speak! Art 
thou deaf?”

“Uhh…Ave, Magister,” he stammered at last. He didn’t know more 
than a few words of Anglo-Saxon with any proficiency, and he didn’t 
figure French would get him very far just now. 

“Eh?” said the other. “What’s that, boy?”

“Uh, bonum vesperum,” Jackie went on, figuring if you can’t dazzle 
‘em with brilliance, baffle ‘em with bullshit. “M..m..mihi nomen 
Iacobus est, Magister.” He waited a beat, forcing a smile. “Quod tibi 

“Bah,” said the big one dismissively, turning back to his 
companions. “Latin. As like tis some novice run away from his 

“He’s a spy,” said the other, eyes unfriendly. “Why speaketh he no 
Anglish? Speak up, boy! Art thou a spy?” The smaller man prodded him 
with his sword point. “Ah. He be armed. Tis no novice.” The commlock 
beeped again.

“Oh shit,” muttered Jackie, as the point stung him. The soldier 
popped the commlock off his belt. It beeped again as it hit the floor, 
and the men stepped back.

“What tis’t?” asked the smaller one, eyes glued to the device. 
“What manner of weapon is this?”

“Tis some engine of sorcery!” opined the first. “Ah! That be it. 
The boy is some sorcerer’s apprentice.” He raised his sword, and 
chopped down on the commlock. It burst into a ball of sparks, 
screeching as it died. 

“What the…”

“Maya?” asked Tony.

“I had them. Both commlock frequencies. Then one went dead. Total 

“Which one?” asked Natalie.

“Jackie’s,” replied the Psychon, checking the ID code. “It just…”

“What is wrong?” demanded LaCroix, moving closer. He gripped Maya 
by the shoulder, snarling.

“I DON’T KNOW!!!!” Maya bellowed back.

Far above Alpha, part of the fragmenting comet continued moving 
away from its companions, arcing towards the Moon.

Far below, in the interior of Outback, the fluctuations in the 
planet’s rotation were again being felt along the inner/outer core 
boundary layer. The strength of Outback’s magnetic field spiked, 
dipped, then spiked again…

“Hey!” shouted Jackie. “Cool it, will ya?” He jumped back far 
enough to draw his sword. Both warriors laughed at the sight of one 
small boy, trying to hold his sword. Both laughs died in their throats, 
as Nick descended slowly from the loft above, to land in front of 
Jackie, facing the warriors. Sword drawn, eyes ablaze, he glared at the 

“Be gone,” he ordered them, and Jackie could feel the hypnotic 
power he was using. “The house is empty. Take your King there.” As he 
spoke, the man in question stirred, and looked out. He was in a mess, 
and Nick doubted he’d live till daylight. He turned back to the others. 
“I give you the gift of your lives. Do not squander it!” But one of 
them was, it seemed, a resister, and raised his weapon.

“Demon!” he screamed, and attacked, his blade clanging against 
Nick’s. As he dodged, so did Jackie, scattering embers from the fire 
into the hay.

“It’s open!” shouted someone, as the transport chamber began to 
hum loudly. LaCroix moved towards it, eyes ablaze. There, as if through 
a mist, he could see Nick, in combat, sword crossed with another 
warrior, flames behind them.

“What is this?” he demanded. 

Still not back at full strength, Nick recoiled at the first blow 
from the Saxon. But the warrior was wounded, and the vampire took full 
advantage of it. He ducked, and then thrust upwards, slashing the 
fellow’s left arm from wrist to elbow. He bellowed in pain, then struck 
back, slashing Nick’s left cheek.

The second, meanwhile, had gone after Jackie. The boy, however, 
was prepared. As the warrior struck, he fell over backwards, and his 
attacker overbalanced himself. Jackie leaped up, the hopped onto his 
back, beating him repeatedly with the pommel of his sword, then getting 
it around his throat. The warrior reached for the blade, and then 
rolled, trying to get on top of him.

Though Nick felt weak, the first man was still no match for him. 
With his speed, Nick got around him, and struck. His first blow 
shattered the man’s sword, and it fell it pieces to the floor, the 
second took off his right arm from the elbow. It thudded to the floor, 
amidst his screams of agony. In a blur, Nick had him in his grip.

“You were a fool to ignore me,” were the last words he heard this 
side of the Gate. Nick felt the hot blood sear his mouth and throat, 
filling him with energy. As he dropped the dead man, he looked up…

And saw Harold, looking back at him. The King was in a bad way, 
and Nick could sense his life-force diminishing steadily. How had he 
escaped? he wondered. History said…

“What art thou?” the King asked weakly, trying to rise to his 

But Nick’s answer was delayed by the fire, and Jackie and the 
other struggling amidst it and the screaming animals. He leapt into the 
flames, despite his fear, and knocked Jackie’s opponent aside. But the 
other was surprisingly fast, and as Nick turned to lift the boy back 
up, he felt a sword pierce his back.

But the attacker had too quickly forgotten one small boy. Nick 
wrenched away, pulling the sword from his hands. Once he had a free 
shot, Jackie plunged his own point into the man’s gut.

“THERE!” shouted Nat. Now clear, the image was truly like a view 
through an open door. Nicholas, on his knees, eyes ablaze, Jackie 
pulling a bloody sword from a falling body, flames all around. Jackie 

“Nick!” he cried. “Look!”

“Jackie!” gasped Nick., and Jackie pulled the weapon from his 
knight. Marginally better, Nick looked up…

And saw Natalie! There, surrounded by a blue shimmering border, 
like a door or a window, Natalie, his beautiful sweet Natalie, stood in 
the new power room on Alpha. Next to her were Koenig, Athena, 
and…LaCroix? He stood, feeling his body beginning to heal from the 
sword wound. The air around them was filled with smoke and the screams 
of terrified animals. Next to him, he felt a presence, and turned. 

King Harold?



Of course…!

“COME ON!” he shouted, feeling strength returning. “Let’s go!” 
Grabbing Jackie, he leapt for the portal…

…and exploded through in a shower of sparks and noise. Smoke, 
embers, and several screaming beasts came through, before Maya could 
shut down the portal. Nick toppled to the floor, and then the lights 
went out.

Outback flared…

And the lights blazed back. In the mad confusion, Nick opened his 
eyes, and saw LaCroix, hulking over Maya, shouting something. 

“I cannot! The comet…” she was saying.

“Do it!” bellowed the vampire, fangs bared, hand around her 
throat. The chamber glowed again, and grasping Carolyn’s hand, LaCroix 
spared a look backwards. “Nichola! Mon fils!” Nick looked up, and the 
two locked eyes. “Here, Nicholas! Come with me. Now!”

“LaCroix?” rasped Nick, still shocked at seeing his Master here. 
He saw LaCroix’s eyes find Jackie, and scowl. For a moment, rage 
suffused the elder vampire’s features, and he took a step towards the 
boy who had so handily defeated him, long ago. Then, he stopped, and 
looked back at his son.

“Nicholas, come here!” he ordered, and Nick could feel his 
Master’s hypnotic powers. He fought back, shaking his head. “Come here. 
And bring the boy!”

“No! Burn in hell, LaCroix!” He stood to his full height,  sword 
in hand, and dared his Master with a look to fight him over the point. 
After a long moment, LaCroix seemed to shrug, accepting the outcome. 

For now. 

“So be it. For now. But remember, the gods are not through with 
us, Nicholas,” he cried, with a last look over his shoulder. “Avoir, 
mon fils!”  And so said, he and Carolyn leapt into the portal…

As the comet fragment, all 40,000 tons of it, raced down towards 
the surface, gaining ever more velocity…

Again, couplers and panels sparked and blew, plunging all into 
darkness. Nat felt herself shoved into something hard, and the darkness 
was filled with screams, both Human and animal.

“Not again!” she heard someone groan, then something plowed into 
her once more. 

Janette gaped in horror, as LaCroix vanished in the blast of 
lightning. Was he…was he dead? She had never seen lightning like that, 
not in over a thousand years. He seemed to shimmer, flicker, like…

She didn’t know what. After hours of searching the surrounding 
woods, she returned to the cabin, tired, hungry, and frustrated. She 
partook of what blood stores remained, and then saw the sky. She cursed 
the dawn, then went inside for the day. When she awoke, after hours of 
jumbled, tormented dreams, it was still light, but she dared a look out 
the window. The shattered altar was still there, and the scorched 
vegetation had at last stopped smoldering. She pondered what to do 
next. What should she do? LaCroix’s disappearance would not go 
unnoticed by the Community, certainly not by the Elders. Not one as 
old, as powerful, and as respected as he. Make that feared. Sooner or 
later, there would be questions, and she did not relish having them 
asked the way the Enforcers asked them. Would they believe her, that 
she had not killed her first Master? Nicholas had survived his attempt 
to kill LaCroix only because LaCroix had survived. But now, with all 

 As the sun slowly dropped lower, she began to feel something. 
Like static electricity on her skin. She looked outside, again. A few 
yards beyond the ruined altar, something was happening at the edge of 
the woods. There was a mist, and flashes of light and electrical 
discharge, just like last night. Then, in the midst of it, shapes began 
to be visible. Human shapes, and a swirl of lights and noise. 

“Lucien?” she gasped, as the form of her first Master became 
visible. Behind him, she could see vague images of lights and people, 
but nothing clear. Then, in an intense flash of light that nearly 
blinded even her, they were through.

Yes, they. Her Maker, and someone else. They emerged from the 
portal, to collapse on a patch of ground barely two feet from a shaft 
of sunlight. She heard a scream of pain, but knew her duty. Grabbing up 
her coat, she also snatched a heavy blanket and rushed outside, to 
where LaCroix was on his knees, skin smoldering, cradling a stranger, 
whose skin likewise was burning. Casting the cover about them both, she 
carried them all into the cabin, sealing out the lethal light. Almost 
before LaCroix could emerge from the blanket, Janette had a glass of 
blood in his hands, and he downed it in a breath. Soon, more was 
provided for the newcomer as well, a normally beautiful blonde, blue-
eyed woman, whose face was peeling from the sun. Janette regarded her a 
moment. Yes, she was a vampire. A fledgling from the feel of her aura, 
and scarcely a few hours old. How…


“Ah, Janette,” said LaCroix, at last getting to his feet. He was 
dressed in a uniform she recognized as being from Alpha, and he smelled 
like a barnyard. “Mon Janette.” He finished another draught, and 
embraced her. “Mon Janette, you…you would not believe the tale.”


“No. In that, I have failed.” She could hear the hesitation, the 
badly wounded pride in his voice, as he admitted that. “But…” he 
indicated his fledgling. Carolyn had filled herself with the offered 
blood, but had as yet barely begun to heal, having not the strength and 
vitality of the elder pair. “ Janette, this is Carolyn Powell.” Carolyn 
looked from LaCroix to Janette, and slowly smiled, instinctively 
sensing the relationship between them. As Divia had once observed, “One 
always recognizes family”.  

“Say hello to your new sister, Carolyn,” said LaCroix.

“Hello, Janette,” said the erstwhile Alphan, smiling, eyes golden. 
Janette matched gazes with her, and inwardly shuddered in revulsion. 
Steeling herself, she handed her more blood, and her regeneration 
quickened. “I am Carolyn.”


The emergency lights came back up, to reveal total chaos. Not only 
were several pieces of equipment smoked, but there were at least a 
dozen terrified farm animals running amok, as well as Nicholas and 
Jackie in a heap on the floor. Koenig got to his feet, and saw that the 
livestock weren’t the only uninvited guests. One very angry Anglo-Saxon 
warrior stood, glowering around him, face twisted in pain. He took a 
step forward…

“Oh my God,” said someone, but they had little cause for worry. 
With a sword wound in his gut, the warrior was a threat to no one just 
now. He reached out and tried to get to Nick, but toppled over, face 
down. Next to a second Saxon…

“Nick! Nick!” cried Natalie, at once by his side. He was covered 
in blood and gore, his hair and beard caked with filth. But, he was 
back and alive! That was all that mattered. “Oh thank God you’re 
alive!” she cried, and kissed him, regardless, and helped him to his 

“Commander!” Sahn’s voice echoed from somewhere, and above it all 
boomed Verdeschi’s outrage, as he tried to escape from the smelly 
tongue on his face. Maya began to giggle.

“Will someone get this goat off of me?!?” 

Within half an hour, most of Alpha’s critical systems were back 
on-line. Once more, the unwilling travelers got up, took stock, and 
counted their blessings.

On the screen in Command Center, they watched Outback shrink as 
they moved away from it. The interplay of forces, coming just at the 
point where the Moon was moving the fastest, had done it. Snapped them 
out of their orbit around Outback, and sent them back on their endless 

The cometary fragment missed Alpha when the Moon lurched, and 
impacted near the Mare Crisium instead. The rest of the fragments hit 
Outback, much as predicted, vaporizing on impact, triggering volcanoes, 
and releasing gargantuan amounts of water vapor and carbon dioxide into 
the thin atmosphere. 

“It will become a more habitable place, in time,” said Maya, 
reading her scanner. “More Terraformable. Perhaps…”

“We couldn’t live in a cosmic shooting gallery,” said Tony. “Yeah, 
we might have Terraformed it, but how long would it be before another 
bullet from space came along, and destroyed it all again?”

“I know, Tony,” said Maya, watching Outback slowly recede. “It’s 
just I want our children to be born someplace…alive. To grow up to know 
the kind of worlds we once had. Green. Full of life.”

“Do not worry, Maya,” said Sahn, suddenly at her side. “We will 
find a home.”

“And our children will know the open sky,” said Athena.

“That’s right,” said Kate. “We never give up.”

Jackie’s reunion with Sue was, of course, very emotional. On Sue’s 
side. Jackie himself was oddly quiet, though of course Nick knew why. 
Once he was cleaned up and dressed in Alphan costume once more, he 
looked much like his old self, and not very noticeably older.

Except for the eyes.

Nick had looked horrible, Nat thought, with his hair long and 
unkempt, and his ratty beard. Once cleaned, combed, and coifed, he lay 
in bed in Medical while she monitored his vital signs, and told him of 
LaCroix’s uninvited visit to Alpha.

“How like him,” he sighed, shaking his head. “A pact with the 
Devil. At least now I understand his obsession with me a little 

“Yeah, he never understood how the mortal that he’d brought across 
in 1228 could have been the vampire he’d met in 1066.” She shook her 
head. “The itch he could never scratch.”

“I always felt as if there were something he was holding back from 
me, Nat. Even in the blood knowledge. The Old Ones can do that, 
sometimes.” He sighed again. “At least we know that Earth is okay, and 
picking up the pieces. A new Moon.”

“Uh huh.”

“So, how many know, now?”

“About us? Koenig and Tony. Pierce did, but he’s toast. We’ll fix 

“We can’t. At least not all at once, Nat. They were involved in 
this for too long. We’ll have to reorder their memories, bit by bit.”

“I didn’t know we could do that, Nick.”

“It comes with age and practice, Nat.”

“I see. Well don’t forget, your two months or so back in Merry 
Olde England was only a few days, here.”

“Right. Still kind of hard to grasp, though.”

“True. And Jackie?”

“He’s a resister, Nat. Big time. I can’t. I tried.”

“Hopefully, he’ll keep his mouth shut.”

“He’s already promised, Nat. Except maybe to Alan. Which reminds 
me. What happened to him? Carter’s a resister.”

“Not against drugs, Nick. Somehow, LaCroix got ahold of some 
Demerol, and hypnotically took him over when he was drugged.” She 
explained it all. “He’ll face no charges.”  

“That’s good to hear. Damn LaCroix.”

“Amen,” said Nat, and crossed herself. Nick gulped, and she felt 
only a slight stinging on the skin. “Now, we have a meeting, handsome.”

“Where, beautiful?”

“In the Koenig’s quarters, at 20:30 hours, tonight. A debriefing, 
as it were.”

“Oh, Nat…”

“Hey, Koenig has gone far to shield us, Nick. He kept the truth of 
LaCroix’s nature from almost everyone. He’s still covering for us.”

“Quite a man, our Commander.”

“Yes, he is.”

Helena was herself late for the “meeting.” She’d been in surgery 
most of the day. The Saxon warrior that had stumbled through the rift 
had, it seemed, been tougher than they at first thought. Though 
horribly wounded, he had only lapsed into unconsciousness. Back home, 
he surely would have died in short order, but with a team of 
superlative doctors, and equipment undreamed of in the 11th Century, it 
was a different story. Against all expectations, he had pulled through.

As did his companion. The other body on the floor of the power 
room had been, unbelievably, King Harold Godwinson, last Saxon ruler of 
England. Also hovering near death, he’d been saved by a science 900 
years beyond his time. Like his soldier, he would live, but just what 
the hell they were going to do with an 11th Century Saxon King, and one 
warrior, wasn’t something anyone had an answer for at the moment.

Koenig of course wanted to hear about their adventure, and Nick 
told as much as he could. Alan particularly enjoyed hearing about the 
battle, having a somewhat martial spirit himself, and enjoyed the tale 
of the fight at the ditch, or the Malfosse, as History had christened 


And they had pictures. Each commlock contained a digital video 
chip, able to store up the last full hour of images, much like an 
airplane’s flight data recorder. Jackie had transmitted images of 
William’s landing, and part of the battle, to Nick, and his commlock 
still held them.

“Incredible,” said Helena, watching the Normans storm the shield 
wall. “Actual images of one of the seminal events of Earth’s history.”

“It’s just because Nick couldn’t go outside,” said Jackie. “So I 
acted as scout.”

“You were so brave,” said Susan, hugging her son.

“Aw, Mom…”

After dinner, Natalie walked back to Sue’s quarters with her. By 
the time she awoke the next morning, Sue remembered nothing whatsoever 
of vampires, or of what the Barber’s truly were.

As to the rest of it, Victor and Maya had determined the cause of 
the initial failure of the power plant, and with several modifications, 
Koenig permitted it to go back on-line. The mineral wealth wrenched 
from Outback’s crust was soon finding its way into nearly every part of 
the base, as the fabrication facilities filled orders for filters, 
electronic components, plastic sheeting, the works.

The livestock that had so rudely followed Nick and Jackie home 
were also put to use, though Maya was unable to determine why their 
passage had not prejudiced her settings regarding mass. The old plans 
for a lunar stockyard, shelved in Simmonds’ mad rush to get the Meta 
Probe launched, were dug out and modified. One of the new sections, 
abutting the extension to hydroponics, would be turned into an animal 
pen. Seven chickens, two goats, three sheep, and several noisy piglets 
and geese completed the roster.

This will be good, John,” said Helena. “We can augment our diet 
with meat, milk, and eggs, and recycle the wastes for fertilizer, and 
extract oxygen and hydrogen from the methane.” 

“Yes, it looks pretty feasible,” agreed Koenig, perusing the 
computer’s analysis. “We can all certainly use a more varied diet, 

“Even if it’s hardly kosher,” she teased him. “And, when we do 
find a place, John, we’ll have more species from home to seed there as 
well. Animals, as well as the plant life that we’ve kept going.” He 
nodded, agreeing with her. “Oh, and John?”

“Hhmm?” he replied, now scanning a report from astrophysics on 
their new trajectory. It was very different from their course before 
Outback. They had entered Outback’s system at about two degrees above 
the ecliptic. They were exiting  at over forty degrees off their 
original trajectory, at nine degrees above the ecliptic. The way ahead, 
said the scanners, was clear. 

“Speaking of seed…?”

“Hhmm?” Helena pulled the paper down slowly with an index finger.



“You and I, my heroic Commander, are doing a little seeding of our 

“S…Helena?” he cried, slowly going from confused to grinning.

“Uh huh. First Athena, then Maya, and now me.”

Koenig dropped all the reports, and forgot everything for the 
moment but his wife’s sparkling eyes.

“What shall we do with them?” asked Maya, looking down at the 
recovering newcomers. Like herself, they were forever cut off from all 
they had ever known. Unlike her, they’d been shot forward into a world 
beyond their imagination, and either way, she felt for them. 

“Teach them. At least try and bring them into the modern world,” 
said Natalie, checking their vitals. “It’s all we can do, Maya. The 
world they knew is dead and gone forever, and ours is God knows how 
many light-years away.”


“I’m sorry we lied to you, Maya,” said Nat. “We just… can’t afford 
to let people know about us. You saw how Pierce acted. Imagine half the 
base that way.”

“I understand, Natalie. It’s like…like when I shift, to protect 
myself. I try to appear as other than what I truly am, for survival’s 

“That’s an…interesting analogy. I…” She turned as Nick entered, 
Helena behind him. “Well?”

“Done. Ouma has forgotten all about vampires, and so has…Tony.” He 
spared Maya a look. She nodded. Tony had been suspicious, even a 
threat, before Breakaway. He’d seen, and then been made to forget. He’d 
been made to forget again. Maya, however, could not. Whether by virtue 
of being a resister, or her Psychon neurophysiology, they did not know. 
“I am sorry, Maya.”

“I understand, Nicholas. We are all refugees. We all do that which 
we must, to survive. The Commander?”

“That’ll take longer. Bit by bit. In fact, I’m not even sure…” He 
was interrupted by the door, and in came Jackie. “Ah. Done?”

“Uh huh. I got the armor and the sword all mounted on a stand, 
Nick. You?”

“The same.” He looked at Maya. “A souvenir of our little 
adventure. So, what’s up, Jack? Isn’t it past your bedtime?” As he 
spoke, the boy’s shoulders fell.

“Aww, Nick, I…”

“I’m sorry. You’re right,” said Nick. “After what we’ve been 
through, I shouldn’t be treating you like a child. You’ve gained a lot 
of maturity in the last few, well, weeks, for us. So?”

“I just wanted to see how they were, Nick,” he said, indicating 
the convalescing warriors. “After all…”

“Hey, kid, you did what you had to do. He was armed, and you 
fought him like a warrior. I mean that, Jack. I could have used more 
like you, when I was on Crusade. You saved me.”

“Aww, but you’re a…”

“Yes, well. But that doesn’t change things.”

“I’m proud of you,” said Natalie, giving him a hug. “You brought 
Nick back to me. I can’t ever repay you.”

“Hey, Natalie,” he shrugged, looking down at his toes.

“Okay, well off to bed, now,” said Helena. “And that is a medical 
order, Jackie. Before your mother calls.”

“Okay,” said the boy, then turned back. “Nick?”


“I still don’t get it. That man you saved. I understand the part 
about Aristotle. You had to save him because of the future you had with 
him and all. What he’d said about Hastings. But why that other guy? 
That wounded knight. Why fight LaCroix over him?”

“It was after we’d been there a while, that I remembered 
something. A story my father told me, when I was first learning to ride 
a horse. He told me about Hastings, and the de Brabant that had joined 
Duke William’s cause.”

“An ancestor of yours?” asked Maya. “There?”

“Yes. Father told me the story of how he’d been wounded, and then 
been saved from the Angel Of Death by two heavenly messengers. One 
appeared as a golden-haired knight, and the other one a boy, who spoke 
strangely. Suddenly, I realized what it was all about.”

“You had to go back, then,” said Helena. “It was ordained.”

“A predestination paradox,” said Maya. “Nicholas had to be there, 
in order to save his…”

“Greatgreatgrandfather. Louis de Brabant.”

“Yes. If he had not, LaCroix would have killed him, and there 
would have been no Nick for him to meet in, ah…”

“1228,” said Nat.

“Then it was all ordained,” said Helena. “Predestined. Had you not 
become a…vampire, you’d never have been on Alpha, to…God, it’s 
dizzying,” she said, massaging her temples.

“Yes, it is,” said Nick. “Once again, our path seems guided.”

“By God?” asked Jackie. “Remember Nick, Prior Wulfric did wish us 

“Yeah. Yeah, he did at that, Jack.” Nick thought for a moment, 
then looked at his squire/student. “Enough wondering for tonight, young 
squire. Off to bed with thee!”

“Goodnight,” smiled Jackie, and was off. Once gone, the adults 
turned to look at the newcomers, both still sedated.

“This explains a bit of a mystery,” said Nick. “There has always 
been some doubt about the absolute identification of King Harold’s 
body, after the battle.”

“I guess we know why, now,” said Maya. “But then, who died in his 

“This one,” said Helena, indicating the big soldier, “awoke, 
briefly. He asked if this were Heaven, and was I an angel.”

“I translated,” Nick told Maya. “He babbled, under the influence 
of the medication. It seems several of Harold’s knights decided to 
spirit him away, once they saw that all was lost, and like Alfred The 
Great, organize some sort of guerilla movement against William. A 
soldier who resembled him voluntarily took his place, and Egbert here 
carried him away, despite his protests.”

“Someone died for him?’ asked Maya, looking at the sleeping 
Harold. “Such loyalty.”

“Indeed,” said Nick. “One day, I’ll explain the whole culture of 
medieval chivalry to you, Maya. Anyway, they decided to camp at the 
same abandoned farm we did, and here we are.”

“I wonder what effect that had on history,” said Nat.

“None,” said Maya. “After all, your history records that this 
William the Conqueror won, and King Harold was killed in battle. Had he 
stayed, and survived, your entire history might have read very 

“Which it does not,” said Helena. “Again, it all seems 

“So it may be,” said Nat. “Still, I wish we could have kept 
LaCroix from returning home.” Grunts of assent all around followed 
this. “Who needs him?”

“No one,” said Nick.

“Oh, Maya,” said Natalie. “Remember when you told me that 
according to Psychon legend, some people were immune to a vampire’s 


“Well, at some point, I’m going to pursue that line of research. 
Not now, of course. With you being pregnant, nothing in your system is 
at baseline. But afterwards…”

“Of course,” nodded the Psychon. “Anything that I can do to help 
you and Nicholas free yourself from your affliction.”

“Thanks, Maya,” said Nick. “And thanks for helping to shield Nat, 
while I was gone. That means a lot to me.”

“Fellow castaways, Nicholas.”

“Yeah,” said Nat. “And wishing they were home. And speaking of 
back home…”

“Indeed,” nodded Maya. “I wonder as well. What will happen to…”

“Yeah,” said Helena. “Carolyn.”


The Raven was packed, as was the usual for the Friday night strip, 
the noise of the customers and music penetrating to the street outside. 
He stood there, in the darkness, watching the people come and go. He 
cast an indecipherable look upwards, at the ever-growing New Moon, then 
crossed the street towards the entrance.

He seemed out of place here, among the Friday night revelers, 
dressed in a black suit with red tie and handkerchief. Ignoring the 
crowd, the waiters, and the undulating performers, he headed straight 
through the mass of living and Undead, straight for the bar. People 
began to move away from him without knowing why, the music seemed to 
falter for a moment, and he stood there, gloved hands on the bar, 
unmoving, till Miklos caught sight of him. 

“I am here to see Monsieur LaCroix, please,” he said, in perfect 
French. Something about him set the barkeep’s nerves on edge. He looked 
at the fellow. Tall, trim, athletic, with a narrow face, piercing black 
eyes, jet black hair slicked back Stalin-like, and a well-trimmed 
goatee. He looked an ordinary man, yet Miklos sensed…what?

“He is busy,” replied Miklos, looking over his shoulder. Inside, 
his boss was at work, instructing his new fledgling, and had left 
strict instructions not to be disturbed. Instructions one did not take 
lightly. He turned back, but the stranger just looked at him, calmly 
yet imperiously. He felt his heart constrict, and the strength suddenly 
go out of him, and the stranger’s eyes momentarily flashed red. Surely, 
thought Miklos, nearly in shock and gasping for air, this was no 
vampire, but…

“Who…who shall I say is calling?” he got out at last, surprised at 
how weak his voice sounded in his own ears. The stranger reached into 
his breast pocket, and withdrew a card. He set it on the bar, and slid 
it across to Miklos, never taking his eyes off the bartender. It was 
black, and printed in red letters was a name. Just a name.

“Deal,” said the stranger. “Lucius Deal.”

“I…I’ll get him,” said Miklos, and fairly ran to obey.