Flying Colors
Ian K.

Farscape-Babylon:  A Farscape/Babylon 5 Crossover Saga

Book Two: "Flying Colors"

By:  Ian K.

Rating:  PG.

Spoilers:  Yes.  

Note:  This is a crossover story of Farscape and Babylon 5.  

Disclaimer:  I did not create Farscape, the universe of Farscape, or
its characters.  Nor did I create the universe of Babylon 5 and its
characters.  I merely borrowed them for this story, for which I will
receive no monetary compensation.  No infringement of copyright
intended.  Some of the characters in this story were created by me.
There use by any other writer is prohibited without my permission.

Time Frame:  Approximately four years after the events in my first
crossover story, "Alas, Babylon".  Farscape-6 years after Season 2
ending.  Babylon 5-Earth year 2268, during the time frame of "Crusade".


It was the Earth Year 2268.  The Earth Alliance was at war with an
alien menace, and at war with time.  It had been one year since the
Drakh had attacked Earth.  One year since they released a plague into
Earth's atmosphere.  One year since Earth was quarantined.  There were
now four years left to find a cure for the Drakh plague before it wiped
out all life on Earth.  This brings us to our story.


Chapter 1:  The Mission


Two men stood looking out a window at the surface of the planet Mars.
They were in an office building in the capital of the Mars Colony.  One
of the men was Senator Redwave, one of the few Earth Alliance senators
not caught on Earth when the Drakh attacked over a year ago.  Now, he
and the other senators not stuck on Earth because of the plague are
carrying on as best they can without direct assistance from Earth Dome.

The other man was General Edward MacDoughan, known affectionately in
Earthforce as "Mac".  A former instructor at Earth Force academy,
MacDoughan is one of the most respected officers in Earth Force, and is
now the military advisor to the Senate.  A tall, black man with gray
hair and a firm, confident demeanor, he made his case to the Senator.

"Sir, I have no doubt that he can do the job," said MacDoughan.

"He's only been a Captain for a year, General," replied Senator
Redwave.  "Do you know how many other senior Captains would jump at the
chance for this mission?  I might be inclined to choose one of them not
only for their enthusiasm, but also for their age and experience.  Yet,
you are telling me that you want me to send a 36 year old Captain with
one year's experience as a Captain on a mission of this importance.

"Sir, I did not make the decision for my recommendation lightly.  It
was General Lefcourt who originally mentioned his name as a candidate. 
From that moment, I began to envision him for this assignment.  But, to
be on the safe side, I made a few calls.  Every officer he has served
under all enthusiastically recommended him for this mission. Sir, you
speak about his lack of age as a disqualifier for this mission.  From
my viewpoint, his youth makes him perfect for it.  His youth and his
energy make him the perfect Captain to send into the unknown.  You've
read his file, seen his record and qualifications.  Is there anything
in that file which you don't like?"

Senator Redwave chuckled slightly.  "Far from it," he replied.  "That
young man made Captain at such a young age on merit, I'll grant you.
He'll probably be a general by the time he is 40.  I seem to remember
another young man who rose to the Captaincy so quickly.  Of course, he
never made General."

"No," replied MacDoughan with a smile.  "He jumped over General and
became the President of the Interstellar Alliance."  The General
couldn't help but smile when he thought of John Sheridan.  He was a
former student of the General's at the academy.  The Captain he and
Redwave were discussing also served under MacDoughan.  Mac saw many
similar qualities in both men.  There were many differences between
them, of course, but they were both men who loved challenge and who
lusted for a chance to pursue adventure.  

"I'll ask you one more time, General," said Senator Redwave.  "Are you
sure about this young man?  The fate of Earth may be riding on our

"Yes, sir.  I am positive that the man for this mission is Captain
Robert McGregor."

The Senator sighed, and finally committed himself to a decision.
"Alright.  McGregor it is.  Get him here, General."

"Yes, sir"


"Continue firing.  I want that ship!" said Captain Robert McGregor.

The Earth Alliance Destroyer Perseus was in pursuit of a Drakh warship
that had been attacking a supply vessel near Orion sector.  Captain
McGregor was determined to destroy that ship before it could build up
enough power to jump to hyperspace.

The Drakh, of course, were not making that easy.  The two ships
exchanged heavy fire as the pursuit continued through open space.  The
Perseus had inflicted heavy damage on the Drakh vessel with her plasma
cannons and was closing on it with each passing moment.  It was now a
race to see if the Drakh could re-power their jump engines before the
Earth ship could catch them.

Just as the Drakh were building up the necessary power to jump, the
Perseus had closed to laser cannon range.  "Were are in range," said
Lt. Commander Grant, the ship's Executive Officer.

Captain McGregor activated the comm to the laser gun crews.  "Captain
to forward batteries.  Remove that ship from my sky!"

The forward laser batteries on the Perseus came to life as red laser
beams began to cut into the Drakh warship.  The enemy vessel was doomed
as explosions raked through the Drakh warship.  Finally, the Perseus's
laser batteries cut the Drakh ship to pieces, and it exploded into a
brief, but bright fireball.

Grant turned to his Captain to officially report what McGregor's own
eyes had already told him from looking at the forward view screen.
"Sir, target destroyed."

McGregor smiled slightly at the victory, but his face turned serious
again very quickly.  "Damage and casualty report, Commander."

"Jump engines temporarily off line, but we should have them back up
again within an hour.  Damage to forward sections which will require at
least a week in space dock to repair."


"Two dead, 19 wounded."

Captain McGregor closed his eyes for a brief moment.  This was the
hardest part about being a Captain, having to give orders that result
in the death of some of your people.  With a sigh, McGregor asked the
dreaded question.

"Who were they?"

"Crewman Polaski and LtJG Benitez."

"Benitez.  God, he just graduated from the academy a year ago.  Would
have been a good Captain someday," said McGregor with regret.

Just then, Lt. James Hancock approached Captain McGregor with a piece
of paper.  "Sir, we just received these orders from fleet command,"
said the Lieutenant.

McGregor read the paper quietly, while Grant and Hancock looked on.
When McGregor finished, he looked at his two officers.

"We've been ordered to Mars," said the Captain.

"Mars," said Grant.  "Are we finally getting a leave?"

"Probably not," replied McGregor with a smile.  "It says I'm to report
to a Senator Redwave when I arrive."

"A Senator," said Grant.  "Sounds like the big boys want a word with

"Yeah," said McGregor.  "Sure does."  The Captain was quiet for a
moment, pondering what the orders could mean.  Finally, he spoke again.
"Commander, as soon as the jump engines are back on line, set a course
for Mars.  Best speed."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied Grant.


38 Hours Later

A shuttle departed from the EAS Perseus and entered the atmosphere of
Mars.  On board was Captain Robert McGregor, a man who was pondering
what he was doing here.  The orders gave no details, only that he was
to come to Mars ASAP and report to this Senator Redwave.

The shuttle flew through the Martian atmosphere and headed to the
colony capital.  It orbited the landing area until given final
clearance to touch down on the landing pad.  As soon as it did, the
protective dome above the pad closed, shutting out the poisonous
atmosphere outside.

When the dome was re-pressurized, the Captain was allowed to exit the
shuttle.  McGregor stepped confidently from the shuttle onto the
landing pad.  Captain Robert McGregor was a tall, handsome man (6ft. 1
inches) with tan skin, brown hair, brown eyes, and a well built
physique. He looked around him, and saw a figure approaching him from a
nearby building.  As the man got closer, McGregor recognized a familiar
face.  He smiled as General MacDoughan walked up to him.

Captain McGregor came to attention, and saluted the General.  The older
man returned the Captain's salute, then reached out his hand.  McGregor
gripped MacDoughan's hand in a firm handshake, and greeted his former
commanding officer.

"Mac!  Its good to see you, sir."

"Good to see you too, Robert!  Welcome to Mars."

"Thank you, sir."

"I told Senator Redwave that I would come to bring you to him myself.
I wanted a chance to see how you are."

The two men walked into the building, and headed to Senator Redwave's
office.  They asked each other about their families, MacDoughan's wife
and children and McGregor's parents.  Although separated by years and
rank, the two talked as friends due to a common respect and common way
of life, that of a soldier.

When they got outside of Senator Redwave's office, Captain McGregor
stopped General MacDoughan momentarily and asked him a question that
had been on his mind for almost two days.

"Mac, what am I doing here?  What is going on?"

"That'll have to wait until we get in there to tell you.  All I can say
is this.  Remember what the Earth Force recruiters said about joining
Earth Force.  'Its not just a job, its an adventure.'"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, just think of this office as the place where the biggest
adventure of your life is going to begin.  This adventure will either
make you or break you, Robert.  This is the one you wait your whole
career for.  Now, let's not keep the Senator waiting."

The two officers stepped into the outer office, and were quickly waved
through by Senator Redwave's secretary.  They knocked on the inner
door, and a voice from the other side told them to come in.

MacDoughan and McGregor entered the office, and were greeted by Senator
Redwave.  General MacDoughan made the introductions.

"Senator Redwave, this is Captain Robert McGregor.  Captain, Senator

McGregor and the Senator shook hands.  "Good to meet you, Captain."

"An honor, sir."

"Well, sit down, both of you, let's talk," said Senator Redwave.

The three men sat down in some chairs set up around a conference table.
Senator Redwave cleared his throat and addressed Captain McGregor.

"So, Captain.  I've been looking at your service record, and I've been
listening to what the General here has had to say about you.  I have to
say that I am impressed.  Earth Force Medal of Valor.  Quick rise
through the ranks to make Captain by age 36.  Outstanding
accomplishments on both counts."

"Thank you, sir," said Captain McGregor.  He was anxious for the
Senator to stop reviewing his service record and tell him what he was
doing here.

"Senator," said General MacDoughan.  "Perhaps we should get down to
business, sir."  McGregor inwardly smiled at the General's save.  Mac
knew that he was anxious to hear about his assignment.

"Very well," replied the Senator.  "Captain, you served as the
Executive Officer on the Eisenhower during the engagement with the
Peacekeeper Command Carrier at system JL-327 four years ago, correct?"

"Yes, sir.  That was one hell of a battle.  We lost the Furies, but the
fleet was able to take out the Peacekeeper warship."

"Yes.  Since then, the Interstellar Alliance and EarthGov have both
discussed sending an expedition to the region of the galaxy where the
Peacekeepers came from.  But each time, funding has been an issue and
other concerns have arisen.  Now, with the Drakh War and Earth under
quarantine, long range exploratory expeditions have been refocused in
finding a cure for the Drakh plague.  Most resources are put into that
or into fighting the Drakh.  However, the President has decided to go
forward with an expedition into the so called 'Uncharted Territories'. 
That's the area of space that the Leviathan ship Moya came from four
years ago."

Senator Redwave activated a view screen, and a series of pictures
appeared on the view screen.  Captain McGregor recognized the first

The Senator turned to the Captain.  "Did you ever meet Commander John

"Briefly, sir, at a briefing on Babylon 5 before the fleet departed for
JL-327.  I also met his wife, LtJG Aeryn Sun-Crichton."

"Well, they and the rest of Moya's crew allowed us full access to
Moya's databanks while they were at Babylon 5.  We gathered a wealth of
intel on the area of space where they came from.  Using this data, we
looked for possible candidates for first contact.  This became our
prime choice."

The Senator used a control to change the image on the view screen.  A
star chart appeared on the map showing a group of planetary systems.
Redwave again spoke to the Captain.

"These are the Sebacean Royal Colonies.  They were encountered by
Moya's crew approximately 6 years ago.  This society developed when a
large group of Sebaceans colonies broke away from Peacekeeper control
and established themselves as an independent power.  They are sort of a
wild card in that region of space.  Many of the other races are
interested in the colonies for their strategic value.  But, they are
powerful enough to make invasion a costly prospect, and they resist
alliances with other powers.  More information is provided in a data
crystal I'm going to give you."

"So you want me to take the Perseus and go to these Royal Colonies?"
asked McGregor.

"No, not exactly," said MacDoughan.  "An Omega class destroyer would
not be an optimum choice for this expedition.  Its long range
capabilities are limited.  An explorer ship is no good because its not
armed well enough if it got into trouble.  No, we want you to command
the expedition.  But, we have another ship in mind for you."

Senator Redwave again changed the pictured on the view screen.  The
schematics of a warship appeared on the screen.  General MacDoughan

"You are to command a modified Warlock class destroyer.  She's called
the Indefatigable.  The work crews have been working on her for two
years, but she's finally ready."

"You called it a modified Warlock destroyer, sir," said McGregor.  "How
had she been modified?"

"First," replied MacDoughan, "she had been equipped with an additional
engine system called a hetch drive.  We got the specs for this system
from Commander Crichton.  It allows you to travel much faster through
normal space than our engines can.  Of course, its still much slower
than hyperspace travel.  But..."

"But, we don't have hyperspace beacons out that far," broke in Captain
McGregor.  "I was wondering how I was supposed to get to there, sir."

"You'll go as far as you can in hyperspace," said Senator Redwave,
"then go the rest of the way using the hetch drive.  Estimated travel
time will be about 5 months.  When you get there, if you run into any
trouble, the Indefatigable is equipped with another modification."

"Captain," said MacDoughan.  "Remember what made that command carrier
so hard to kill at JL-327?"

"Well, sir, besides the fact that the ship was about 3 times as big as
an Omega class destroyer, they also had some kind of defense screen."

"We got the specs for a defense screen from a study of the defense
screen on Moya," said MacDoughan.  "Your ship is now equipped with
defense screen."

"The great equalizer, Captain," said Redwave, "in case you run into

"Well," said Captain McGregor, "I'm certainly going in with some big

"Yes, but remember something, Captain," said Redwave.  "This is a
diplomatic mission.  Only fight if you have to.  Yes, we are sending
you with a powerful warship.  But, we want you to follow the policy of
Theodore Roosevelt.  'Walk softly, but carry a big stick.'"

"Sir, I have to ask," said Captain McGregor.  "Why are we undertaking
such an expedition during war time?  Surely, this can wait until after
the war with the Drakh is over and a cure has been found for the
plague, sir."

"That brings us to another matter," said Senator Redwave.  "We want you
to establish diplomatic contact, yes.  But we also have a second
purpose for this mission.  Human and Sebacean physiology, though not
exactly the same, is similar.  We want you to very quietly request the
aid of the Sebacean Royal Colonies in helping us to find a cure for the
Drakh plague.  Perhaps they have medical knowledge we don't.  They are
certainly more advanced in some areas than we are.  The President and
others felt that this possibility made the expedition worthwhile."

"Captain," broke in General MacDoughan.  "Its already been a little
over a year sine the Drakh released the plague into Earth's atmosphere.
We have a little under four more years to find a cure.  We have to
pursue every option available to find a cure, or every human on Earth
will die.  Our hope is that the Sebaceans can help us."

"Let me emphasize something on this point, Captain," said Redwave.
"Make this inquiry with their government as secret as possible.  We
don't want to advertise our present vulnerability to possible hostile
races out there."

"What should I promise in exchange for their help?"

"Well, don't promise the keys to Earth Dome," said Senator Redwave.
"But, your orders will give you a great deal of leeway in negotiations
on this point.  This could be life or death for everyone on Earth.
This is no time to be picky about trade issues.  Do what you have to
within some limits to get their help."  Senator Redwave went to his
desk and retrieved something from a drawer.  He approached Captain
McGregor and handed him a data crystal.  "All of the details of your
mission are on this data crystal.  Read it.  If you have any more
questions, General MacDoughan will be your contact.  If there's nothing
else, your dismissed Captain."

Captain McGregor and General MacDoughan left the Senator's office and
walked back to the shuttle pad.  On the way, they talked about the

"Sir, um....I have to ask," said McGregor.  "Why me?"

MacDoughan smiled.  "Because you are quite simply one of the best
officers in the fleet.  You are certainly the best equipped officer for
this mission.  Your record in first contact protocol is excellent.  You
know how to be diplomatic, but you can fight when you have to.  Also,
you have experience fighting the Peacekeepers.  That might come in
handy out there."

"Sir, I'm sure there are other officers out there.  What about Captain

"She's on another assignment, won't be back for months.  No, Captain.
We've made our choice, and it's the right one.  Never doubt that.  Now,
go back to the Perseus and pack.  Your crew will be transferred to the
Indefatigable, along with some additional linguistic experts,
scientists, and doctors that will go with you on the expedition.  While
we are on the subject of your crew, there is something I want to

"Sir?," said Captain McGregor warily.  He knew what was coming.

"I have to ask, Robert.  Do you think that Lt. Commander Grant can
handle this assignment as your exec?  Before you answer, consider this
carefully.  His record...."

"I know all about his record, sir," replied McGregor.  "I was asked
this same question when I picked him to be my exec when I took command
of the Perseus.  I trust Grant.  He is a good officer, and a good
Executive Officer.  He knows how to get things done, to get into the
minutia of operations, which is exactly what I need in an exec.  Yes,
he has had some trouble in the past.  But that's in the past. I want
him on this mission, sir."

MacDoughan considered for a moment, but nodded his head.  "Very well,
Captain.  But if he screws this up..."

"He won't, sir."  The two exited the building and stepped onto the
shuttle pad. The shuttle McGregor arrived in waited there to take
Captain McGregor back to the Perseus.

The two officers shook hands.  "I'll contact you in 24 hours, Robert,"
said MacDoughan.  "Have your crew ready for transfer by then."

"Aye, sir," replied the Captain.  They exchanged salutes, and McGregor
climbed back on board the shuttle.


Chapter 2:  The Captain


Five and 1/2 months after the initial meeting between Captain McGregor,
General MacDoughan, and Senator Redwave, the EAS Indefatigable was
proceeding through the Uncharted Territories.  After McGregor and his
crew were transferred to the Indefatigable from the Perseus, they began
one month of orientation training on their new ship.  Meanwhile, the
other linguistics, science, and medical personnel transferred aboard.

After a month, the crew had learned their new ship inside and out.  The
began to affectionately refer to the vessel as the "Indy", and made
themselves at home in what would be their surroundings for at least a
year.  The Indefatigable was a heavily armed vessel approximately 1,992
meters long, weighing 66.8 metric tons.  She was armed with missile
batteries capable of firing both conventional and nuclear missiles,
plasma cannons, laser batteries, a multi-tasking defense grid, a 15
meter thick armored hull, and their new piece of hardware, a defense
screen.  The Warlock class destroyer is the first class of Earth
warship to be equipped with a gravimetric drive system based on Minbari
designs.  This eliminated the need for rotating sections to maintain
gravity.  The Indy also carried 42 Starfury fighters, as well as a
number of shuttles.

In short, the EAS Indefatigable was a fast moving, heavily armed
fortress, with a new hetch drive system that was working with great
efficiency.  They spent nearly two months in hyperspace, another 2 and
1/2 traveling through normal space using the hetch drive.  Along the
way, they had encountered a few other ships from various races.  None
of them were hostile, or at least the ones that would have been decided
against picking a fight when they saw the Indefatigable.

The crew was almost to their destination, and Captain McGregor sat in
his quarters quite pleased with their performance to date.  They had
been out of touch with home for a long time, but the crew was holding
up very well.  A lot of goodbyes were made before the Indy left home,
and the welcome homes would not be coming for a long time yet.

McGregor sat at his desk reading a well worn copy of C.S. Forester's
"Beat to Quarters", one of the 11 Horatio Hornblower novels.  He had
read all of the Hornblower novels at lest four times over the years
(they were his favorite books), and he chose this one to read because
it saw Hornblower faced with similar circumstances that he was in now. 
A Captain on independent command with a ship a long way from home and
out of touch with superiors, braving unknown waters (or space) to meet
with a foreign power.  McGregor took comfort in his favorite literary
character's trials in the book, and gained inspiration to face the
trials that were ahead for him.

Captain Robert McGregor was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, to Harold
and Ann McGregor.  His parents were both professors at the College of
William and Mary, his father a professor of history, his mother a
professor of literature.  They were academic types who had a huge
library that they encouraged Robert to indulge in as a boy.  Robert's
parents instilled in him a love of reading and a respect for education
in the hopes that he too would become a part of academia when he grew
up.  However, young Robert McGregor developed other ideas.

In his adolescence, Robert developed a keen interest in naval history
and literature, especially anything from the Napoleonic Era.  He was
introduced the Horatio Hornblower series by an uncle, and he read all
11 of those books in a single year.  Robert also began to read about
the real lives and adventures of British and American naval heroes from
that era, such as Admiral Nelson, Thomas Cochrane, Stephen Decatur, and
John Paul Jones.  The more and more he learned about these men, the
more and more he wanted to be like them.  Robert McGregor developed a
spirit for adventure that would not allow him to be tied down to a
professor's job at some stuffy University.

Instead, his craving for adventure and his desire to lead a life of
service took him to the Earth Force Academy, where he graduated with
top honors.  While there, he caught the eye of many of his instructors
and fellow classmates who all saw in him some aura of destiny.  After
graduating, he spent one year serving on a destroyer as a junior
Lieutenant.  While there, he developed a keen interest in Starfuries,
and set about becoming a fighter pilot.  This would lead him to the
events that would begin his career with high honors and recognition for
bravery and leadership.

While on final maneuvers for fighter training near grid Epsilon, the
training squadron McGregor was in responded to a distress call.  A
supply ship was under attack from raiders, and the flight of rookie
pilots were the only Earth Force unit within range to respond.  Not
long after arriving on the scene, the training officer's fighter was
shot down, leaving the green fighter pilots to face the determined
raiders alone.  McGregor acted quickly and took command of the
squadron.  Without loosing another pilot, he led the squadron against
the raiders and destroyed them all, saving the supply ship.  For this
action, young Lieutenant McGregor was awarded the Earth Force Medal of
Valor, the service's highest honor.

From then on, he would rise through the ranks quickly on various
assignments.  This included serving as a Lieutenant on the EAS Vesta,
under the command of then Captain Edward MacDoughan.  They fought under
Sheridan in the Earth Civil War, and participated in the final campaign
to liberate Earth from President Clark and his goons.  On his first
assignment as a Commander and Executive Officer, McGregor served on the
EAS Eisenhower and fought in the Battle of JL-327 against the
Peacekeeper Command Carrier.

At age 36, he was promoted to Captain and given command of the EAS
Perseus, just in time for the beginning of the Drakh War.  He remained
in command of that ship until that fateful day 5 and 1/2 months ago
when he was given command of the EAS Indefatigable, and chosen to lead
this expedition into the unknown.  McGregor was an officer who was
highly dedicated and had a sense of honor unchallenged by anyone who
knew him.  Many officers in the service see his charmed rise through
the ranks as the prime example of the ideal officer.  He was very much
a man of tradition.  Some say that he really belongs in the era of
those naval heroes, both real and fictional, that he loves to study
from the age of "wooden ships and iron men".  In fact, whenever
McGregor is in full dress uniform, he wears his Earth Force standard
saber, even though they are usually only worn as an optional parade
item on the dress uniform.  He chooses to wear it as a connection to
the naval officers of that bygone era who wore sabers on their dress
uniforms.  Consequently, all of his officers follow their leader's
example and wear their sabers when in full dress uniform.  When
assembled in dress uniform, the officers who serve under McGregor are
the best dressed and smartest looking of any group of officers in the

McGregor heard a knock on the door.  "Enter," he said.

Lieutenant Commander Thomas Grant, the ship's Executive Officer,
stepped into the room.  He handed his Captain a ship's operations
status report, which McGregor read over.

Grant and McGregor had known each other since the Academy.  McGregor
was actually a year behind Grant at the Academy, but that did not get
in the way of them developing a strong friendship.  Grant was slightly
shorter than McGregor (5 ft 8 inches), with blond hair, firm features,
and a smile that tended to make him popular with women.  While McGregor
was the conservative, serious type, Thomas Grant had always been the
outgoing, party animal type.  He was still a good officer, although
mediocre at his studies at the Academy.  When Grant graduated, he
started off his career doing very well, rising to full Lieutenant in a
respectable amount of time.

That is when a woman named Tanya Ware stepped into his life.  She was a
waitress at a bar on Proxima 3 where Grant was stationed.  All of
Grant's friends, including McGregor, tried to tell the smitten young
man that Tanya was no good.  She had been known to have been with more
than one hot shot Earth Force officer in her time, and had a reputation
for drinking and partying around.  Tom Grant would hear nothing of it,
even decking a friend of his when he warned Grant to stay clear of her.
Tanya Ware had slipped her way into Thomas Grant's heart, using womanly
wiles, an act of being a deprived woman from a poor background, and an
incredible body that Tom couldn't get enough of.  Tanya wanted Thomas
Grant, and his Earth Force military benefits, and she used every trick
in the book to rope Tom into marrying her.

The two of them married, despite the objections of McGregor and other
friends.  Almost from the start, Tanya began to cheat on Grant.  She
was hopping in and out of half of the beds on that base, making Grant a
laughing stock.  He heard about it, but dismissed it as rumor until he
came home from deployment to catch Tanya in bed with another man.
Humiliated, Grant turned to drinking, crawling further and further into
the bottle.  McGregor tried to get him to leave Tanya, but Tom was not
ready to give her up.  For some reason, he still wanted Tanya despite
her liaisons with other men.  He thought he could reform her, but all
he ended up doing was turning his life into a living hell between
fights with Tanya and more and more booze.

This path of destruction eventually led Grant to a fateful night 4
years ago.  On that night, Tom came home to find Tanya going out.  When
he asked where she was going, Tanya brazeningly admitted she was going
to see another man and probably sleep with him.  Something in Thomas
Grant snapped.  He beat Tanya severely, and sent the young woman
running from the house in terror.  She took their hover car, and went
to meet her boyfriend.  But along the way, she ended up in an accident
and was killed instantly.

Feeling guilty over Tanya's death, Grant crawled even further into the
bottle and ended up suspended from duty.  This is when Robert McGregor
went to Grant to talk some sense into him.  After a long night of
arguing, and even getting into a fistfight, Robert convinced Tom to get
counseling and save his career.  For a year, Thomas Grant went to
alcohol abuse counseling and anger management training.  At the end of
that year, Thomas Grant was stone cold sober and had a new lease on
life.  However, many in Earth Force were still skeptical about Grant's
recovery.  When he was promoted to Captain and given command of the
Perseus, Robert McGregor (against the advice of many) took Lt.
Commander Grant as his Executive Officer.  Since then, Grant has
remained a good and stable officer, and had proven to be the ideal XO
for McGregor.  The Captain never knew if Grant would ever had a
relapse, but the more time that went by, the more he felt sure Grant
would remain on the right track.

McGregor finished reading the ship's ops report, and handed it back to
Grant.  "ETA to the Sebacean Royal Colonies?" McGregor asked.

"About 2 weeks," replied Grant.  He smiled, and chuckled slightly.
"Wow, two weeks left after 4 and a half months in flight."

"Yeah.  Hard to believe we're almost there.  I'm very proud of how the
ship and crew have held up for all of this time."

"Um, Robert," said Grant warily.  "I wanted to thank you, again, for
taking me along on this trip.  I mean, this is, well, this is the one
that can get my career back on track, and it would never have happened
if you hadn't given me a second chance when no one else would."

"Tom, you have done very well as my XO.  I put my faith in you, and you
haven't let me down.  Like I said when I chose you to be my XO, I knew
you were the right man for the job.  There is no man better at handling
the minutia of operations, the wrangling of department heads.  I may
command this ship, but you are the one that keep's it running along
smoothly.  As for the rest, what are friends for."

"I know."  Grant hesitated for a moment.  "I promise, Robert.  I won't
let you down."

"I'm sure you won't.  Because if you do, I'll kick your ass," replied
McGregor with a smile.

Just then, Captain McGregor's comm link activated.  He activated the
device attached to the top of his hand, and spoke into it.  "McGregor,
go ahead."

"Sir, long range scanners have detected a ship just within scanning
range.  It appears to be shadowing us."

McGregor looked at Grant, who made a comment.  "Well, somebody must be
interested in us."

"The XO and I will be right there," said McGregor into the link before
deactivating it.  He turned to Grant.  "Let's do it."

The two officers marched smartly from the Captain's quarters and headed
to the bridge.


Captain McGregor and Lt. Commander Grant stepped onto the bridge.
McGregor spoke to the bridge duty officer, Lieutenant James Hancock.

"Sir, the unknown vessel is still following us at extreme scanning
range.  We have detected discreet scanning directed at us from the
unknown ship, but no attempts at communications have been forthcoming."

"Very well," said McGregor.  "Scanners, keep an eye in that ship.  XO,
your opinion."

"Sir, we need to find out who that ship is and what they want.  We
can't have them shadowing us from here on out."

"Agreed," replied McGregor.  "Launch a flight of Starfuries to
investigate and make contact with that vessel.  I want to know their

"Aye, aye, sir," replied Grant.

A few minutes later, 4 starfuries departed from the launch bay of the
Indefatigable and headed for the unknown ship.  It would take them at
least 20 minutes to intercept the unknown ship.  Meanwhile, the Indy
was slowed to 1/4 speed as the Captain and crew waited for the report
from the Starfuries.  

After a few moments, the officer at the bridge scanner station
reported.  "Captain, scanners report that the vessel had detected our
fighters.  The ship has turned away and is proceeding in the opposite
direction with increasing speed."

"Orders, sir," asked Grant.

"Have the fighters return to the barn.  Keep scanners trained on that
ship as long as you can detect it.  When the fighters get back, proceed
back on course and speed."

"Aye, sir," replied Grant.

McGregor sat in the Captain's chair and pondered what had just
happened.  Whoever they were, they were apparently scared away by the
Starfuries.  The scanners had not been able to get much information
about the ship at that range.  It could have been just another alien
race curious about the new ship in the area, or it could have been
something else.  At any rate, the unknown vessel was no longer
shadowing them, and that made McGregor feel much better.

As soon as the Starfuries had returned to the Indefatigable, the
warship proceeded back on course for the Sebacean Royal Colonies.  The
mystery of the unknown ship would have to wait for now.


Chapter 3:  The Royal Court


Officer Lassine sat and watched her scanners as she did every day.  She
was a member of the Sebacean Royal Colony Defense Force, stationed at a
military outpost on the outskirts of their space.  Lassine's job was to
monitor readings from the scanners that monitored the border.

As she was watching the screen, a blip appeared on the scanners.  This
was nothing extraordinary.  Ships of various species came and went
every day in the peaceful conduct of business with the Royal Colonies. 
However, the routine nature of the situation changed when she punched
readings from the scanners into the Ship Identity Computer, and the
report came back as an unknown vessel.

This development caused Lassine to bring in her commanding officer.
"Sir, report from scanners."

A young Lieutenant came up to see what Lassine had to report.

"Sir, I am detecting an unknown vessel approaching our border.  More
information is coming in."  She hesitated for a moment.  "Sir, its
definitely a warship."

The Lieutenant reacted quickly, calling for the post commander.
Commander Riken came into the room and was informed about the
approaching alien warship.

"Open communications, all frequencies," said Riken.

A communications officers opened a channel.  Riken spoke into the comm
system.  "Attention unknown vessel.  You are approaching the
territorial space of the Sebacean Royal Colonies.  Identify yourself
and your intentions."

After a few moments, a voice responded.  "This is Captain Robert
McGregor, commanding the destroyer Indefatigable.  I am the official
representative of the Earth Alliance, an interstellar government from
another part of this galaxy.  We are here on a peaceful mission from
our government to open up diplomatic relations with your government.
May I please speak to a representative of your government?"


After several days of intense official negotiations and discussions
over the communications channels, everything was arranged for a
diplomatic visit to the Sebacean Royal Planet, their capital.  The
Indefatigable was escorted by several Sebacean warships to the Royal
Planet.  Once there, an audience was arranged for Captain McGregor with
the Empress of the Royal Colonies.

McGregor looked at himself in the mirror.  He adjusted the fit of the
best dress uniform he had, and made sure all of his ribbons were in
perfect alignment.  Satisfied with what he saw, McGregor reached around
to a case and retrieved his dress saber and belt.  He put on the belt,
and adjusted the sword to hang from its mount on the belt.  

Once again, he checked every part of his attire to make sure that he
was every inch the properly dressed Earth Force Officer.  After all, it
wasn't every day that he had an audience with royalty.

Captain McGregor left his quarters and headed for the bridge.  As he
passed through the corridors of the Indy, he could feel a resonating
excitement running through the crew.  They had finally reached their
destination after a five month journey, and had successfully made
initial contact.  A feeling of both apprehension and success filled the
officers and crew at having gotten this far.

McGregor stepped onto the bridge, where he was met by Lt. Commander
Grant, who was also fully decked out in his Earth Force dress uniform
and saber.  They shook hands, and McGregor spoke to Grant.

"Are we ready, Commander?"

"Ready as we'll ever be, sir."

"Good.  Communications, open a ship wide frequency."

"Frequency open, sir," replied the communications officer.

"This is the Captain. May I have your attention, please.  The XO and
myself are about to depart for the Sebacean Royal Planet to make formal
contact with their government.  First, let me say to all of you that I
am very proud of how this crew has performed to date.  Now, I must ask
for your continued support as we get to the most vital part of our
mission:  establishing successful relations with this government.  As
members of Earth Force, we fly the colors of the Earth Alliance, and
represent our government and our people.  I know that I don't have to
ask for your best show of professionalism and honor as we proceed with
our mission.  May fortune favor us in the task ahead.  That is all."

The comm frequency was closed.  "Well, Commander," said McGregor.
"Let's visit the locals."


A shuttle carrying Captain McGregor, Lt. Commander Grant, and another
officer, Lieutenant Junior Grade Reynolds, left the Indefatigable and
headed for the Royal Planet.  They were escorted in by Sebacean
fighters, built along similar principals to Peacekeeper Prowlers. 

As the shuttle flew over the capital city of the Royal Planet, the
Earth Force officers were treated to the view of a beautiful city with
sprawling, green parks and pyramid like buildings.  The architecture
was somewhat similar to some human designs, almost like some high tech
form of Ancient Thebes or Rome.

The shuttle proceeded to a landing pad, and set down softly on the
tarmac.  A small party of royal officials and guards were waiting to
greet the party from the Earth ship.  Captain McGregor exited the
shuttle first, followed by Grant and Reynolds.

One of the officials dressed in white approached the Captain and
introduced himself.  "I am Counselor Barusa, the official
representative of her Royal Majesty, Empress Novia."

"Captain Robert McGregor, commanding the Earth Alliance Destroyer
Indefatigable.  On behalf of the Earth Alliance, I come to meet with
your Empress in peace and friendship."

"On behalf of her Majesty, I welcome you and your officers.  If you
will submit to a scan for weapons, then we shall shortly proceed to
your audience with the Empress."

The officers did indeed submit to a scan, and the only weapons found
were the ceremonial sabers the officers wore on their belts.  Captain
McGregor showed Barusa that the blades were not sharpened and that the
weapons were only ceremonial.  After some convincing, the Counselor was
persuaded that the sabers posed no threat.  The Earth Force officers
had also brought a gift for the Empress, which had to be inspected
before being allowed to be given to the Sebacean ruler.

The party proceeded into the Royal Palace.  The Earth Force officers
were stunned by the beauty and serenity of the construction of the
palace as they were escorted through the bleached white corridors.

After a several minute walk, the party stopped at a set of two large
doors.  Barusa instructed the Earth Force officers to wait to see if
the Empress was ready to receive them.  He left them, and came back out
a few moments later.

"Her majesty is ready to receive your party, Captain."

The grand doors opened to a large room filled with Sebacean government
officials.  At the other end of the room stood a beautiful woman
adorned in white whose presence seemed to echo authority and
confidence.  Also noticeable in the center of the room were the statues
of a young man and woman that seemed very lifelike to the Captain. 

Counselor Barusa announced the Earth party. "Presenting, Captain Robert
McGregor of the Earth Alliance Destroyer Indefatigable and the official
representatives of the Earth Alliance."

The Empress smiled as the Earth Force Officers approached in their gray
dress uniforms, adorned with gold braid and multi-colored ribbons.
Captain McGregor stepped out ahead of the group, and bowed to the
Empress.  She then spoke to him.

"Captain McGregor.  On behalf of my people, let me welcome you to the
Sebacean Royal Colonies.  It is my hope that our two governments can
indeed proceed with a peaceful diplomatic dialogue."

McGregor was in awe of this woman and the royal splendor around him.
This was a far cry from the modest Virginia home he grew up in, or the
sparse surroundings that a soldier was used to.  He got over his nerves
and responded.

"On behalf of the Earth Alliance let me express my deepest gratitude
for the welcome Your Majesty has extended to us.  We have traveled a
long way to get here, and it is nice to feel welcomed now that we are
here.  May I introduce my officers.  This is my Executive Officer, the
second in command of the Indefatigable, Lieutenant Commander Thomas
Grant, and Junior Lieutenant George Reynolds."  Both officers gave a
formal bow to the Empress.

"Welcome, gentlemen.  I understand that you have brought me a gift from
your world," replied the Empress.

"Yes, I did.  I believe Counselor Barusa has it in his care."

"Yes, Majesty, I do have it," said Barusa, who approached from the
background.  He motioned for two guards who carried an ornate box and
placed it in the hands of the Empress.  She opened the box, and a look
of awe showed on her face.  From the box, Empress Novia removed a small
vase, an object the likes of which she had never seen before.

"Captain, what is it?" asked the Empress with wonder.

"It is called a vase, Majesty.  The ones of this type are manufactured
in a country on my world called China.  This particular one belonged to
a great Empress from my world's past.  Her name was Catherine the
Great, the Empress of all the Russias."

"It is beautiful, Captain.  I thank you and your government for the
gift."  She placed it back in the box and handed it over to Barusa.
"Now, a formal reception has been arranged for this evening to welcome
you and your officers to our nation.  The members of the Royal Court
will be in attendance, as will Ambassadors from various other
governments.  I believe Barusa has arranged quarters for you and your
officers here in the palace.  We shall begin formal diplomatic
discussions tomorrow.  All of the arrangements will be made through
Counselor Barusa.  I shall see you tonight, Captain."

With that, the initial audience with the Empress was over.  After the
Empress and her entourage departed, Counselor Barusa escorted Captain
McGregor and his officers from the hall.  As the group from Earth left
the room, a young woman in the audience watched with great interest.
She particularly focused her attention on Captain McGregor.  In fact,
she had not been able to keep her eyes off of him since he entered the
room.  Already, the thoughts of her next move filled her head, and she
was determined that she would meet him tonight.


That evening, Counselor Barusa escorted Captain McGregor, Lt. Commander
Grant, and LtJG Reynolds into the reception being given in their honor.
They entered a sort of receiving line, where they were presented to and
exchanged a word or two with the Empress.

Afterwards, the Earth Force Officers went about the business of
mingling with the guests.  Besides the Sebaceans who were the members
of the royal court, McGregor noticed various other alien officials in
the room.  They were obviously the ambassadors that the Empress had
mentioned.  He made a point to introduce himself to several of them,
and struck up quite a conversation with an ambassador from a government
known as the Dominion of Trall.

As the night wore on, Grant and Reynolds had gotten separated from
McGregor.  Reynolds was conversing with a couple of Sebacean military
officers, fighter pilots he believed.  Meanwhile, Grant was talking
(and obviously flirting) with a young Sebacean woman with blond hair
and fare skin.

McGregor was about to find Barusa to discuss arrangements for the
diplomatic meetings tomorrow, when he saw a woman approaching him.  The
Captain stood stark still as he eyed the beautiful woman who obviously
was heading his way.  The woman was tall with brown hair, tan skin, a
lovely figure, and sharp brown eyes that seemed to reach into his soul.

The woman approached and spoke to him.  "You are Captain McGregor," she
said with a firm, but beautiful voice.

"I am, madam.  Captain Robert McGregor.  And you are?"

"Jenavia Chatto.  It's a pleasure to meet the man who is the center of
much discussion in the royal court.  When I saw you standing here
alone, I knew I had to introduce myself."

"You are a member of the royal court?"

"After a fashion.  I was once engaged to the Empress' son, Prince

"What happened?  Don't tell me that he broke off the engagement.  The
man would have to be a fool to let such a beautiful woman as you go."
McGregor couldn't believe what he was saying.  He never talked like
that.  Robert was usually less casual with a woman he just met.  There
was just something about this woman that took his breath away.

"No, nothing of that sort.  He died, quite suddenly."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm not.  Clavor was a fool.  The marriage was one of convenience.
A... long story, one I would rather not discuss.  On the contrary, I'd
much rather talk about you and your mission here."

The two talked for nearly two hours.  They talked about a lot of
things, both formal and informal topics.  The conversation was fluid
and nonstop.  The rest of the reception was a distant distraction as
the two talked openly with each other.  They talked as though that had
known each other forever, but for the life of him McGregor couldn't
understand why.

After a while, Jenavia excused herself.  "I'm afraid I must leave now,
Captain.  It has been nice talking with you.  I'm sure we will see each
other again."

"I certainly hope so," replied McGregor.  He reached for her hand, and
took it gently in his.  His lightly kissed to top of her hand, a
gesture which confused her at first, but one she came to accept as a
friendly act.

Jenavia turned and walked towards the exit.  McGregor's eyes never left
her as she left.  At one point, she turned and looked at him.  She
smiled, turned back around, and glided out the door.

Just then, Reynolds came up to McGregor.  "Sir, request permission to
retire for the night?" asked the Lieutenant.

"Granted, Lieutenant.  I'll be turning in myself in a minute.  Good

"Good night, sir."  As Reynolds left, McGregor found Grant and told him
he was turning in.  He also excused himself with Counselor Barusa.
Apparently, the Empress had left an hour ago, but the Captain was too
distracted to notice.

Captain McGregor made his way to his quarters that were provided for
him in the palace.  He entered the room, and closed the door behind
him.  It was a large, beautiful room, with a window that offered a view
of the royal gardens.  McGregor turned on the lights, and began to
remove his uniform.

He had gotten to taking his sword off, when he heard a noise behind
him.  McGregor turned around, and was greeted with the slight of
Jenavia Chatto coming out of his bathroom.  Her body was covered in a
towel, which she quickly dropped and revealed a beautiful, naked body.

Jenavia walked up to a stunned McGregor, who tried to speak.  She put
her fingers to his lips, silently urging him not to speak.  She wrapped
her arms around him and kissed him passionately.  

Robert McGregor was not the type to go around kissing naked women he
had just met, especially ones who were members of another species.  Of
course, he didn't see any differences in Jenavia's naked body from any
human woman he had seen.  The only difference was that she had the most
beautiful body he had ever seen on any woman.

McGregor gave into the moment, and kissed Jenavia back.  He wrapped his
arms around her, and pulled her close against him.  Robert was still in
his dress uniform, but he knew that he wouldn't be for much longer as
Jenavia lowered him onto the waiting bed.


Chapter 4:  Revelations


Captain Robert McGregor awakened to a sight he had not seen in a long
time, that of the light of a morning sun coming through a window.  He
stretched contentedly in the soft, warm bed he was laying in.  

After a few moments, he remembered that he did not go to bed alone last
night.  Robert felt for Jenavia, but felt only empty bed beside him
where Jenavia was last night.  

They had had sex for what seemed like hours, drinking in every inch of
each other.  Robert had never been with such a passionate lover.  She
had done things with him that he had never experienced with any other
woman.  Of course, he sort of chalked that up to the fact that she was
not human.  Sebacean sexual practices might be quite different.

"Hmm," he thought jokingly.  "I wonder if I should include my
experience with Jenavia in my report on Sebacean culture and rituals." 
McGregor laughed at that thought, but began to wonder where Jenavia had
gotten to.  He could only conclude that she left either during the
night or earlier in the morning for some reason.

McGregor got up and to take a bath.  The mechanism in the bathtub was
similar enough to a shower that he was able to operate it easily
enough.  It felt good to stand under a real water shower again.  On a
military ship, luxuries are at a minimum.  The ship's water recycling
system can't handle enough supply for water showers, so they have to
use sonic vibe showers.  Not very relaxing, but they got you clean

He stepped from the shower, dried himself, shaved, and got dressed.  He
put on his second best dress uniform for his meetings today with the
Empress and the other members of the Sebacean government.  After a few
minutes, he heard a knock at the door.

"Come in," McGregor said.

Lt. Commander Grant entered the room, and closed the door.  "Good
morning, sir.  Sleep well?"

McGregor smiled, wondering if he should mention that he had sex with a
beautiful Sebacean woman last night.  He decided to be a gentleman and
not kiss and tell.  "I slept just fine, Commander," McGregor replied.

"Oh yeah, slept like a baby."

"Uh huh," said McGregor.  "What about that girl I left you at the party
with last night?"

"Oh, we, um, we said goodnight not long after you left.  Her name is

"Hey Tom, I don't mean to but in, but...just what are your intentions
with this girl?  She didn't look older than 20."

"She's 21, and I don't know what my intentions are.  She did agree to
have dinner with me tonight.  Hey, if anything, it's a chance for me to
get to know a local better, get some cultural insight."

"Yeah, right.  Don't feed me that.  I've known you since the Academy.
The only cultural insight you want is to see what's in her pants."

"Robert, I don't think she wears pants.  And you know I'm not the guy I
used to be.  But..."


"Yes, this girl is, well, attractive.  And yes, I have thought  I'm a changed man than I used to be, but I'm not dead.
I'm still a guy."

"Yes, well, I'll leave you to your own personal life.  Meanwhile," he
said as he buttoned his collar, "we'd better get going.  Barusa is
going to meet us in the courtyard."

The two Earth Force officers left McGregor's quarters, and walked
through the halls of the palace.  They made their way to the courtyard,
where they found Barusa and Lt. Reynolds waiting for them.  

Reynolds snapped a salute to his Captain and XO, which was returned by
both men.  Barusa greeted them.

"Good morning, gentlemen.  I hope you both found your accommodations

McGregor inwardly smiled again, thinking about Jenavia being a part of
his room's accommodations last night.  Again, he was thinking of
Jenavia.  Robert began to wonder if he was going to keep thinking of
her all day.

"Yes, they were very comfortable," replied McGregor.  "Now, what's on
the agenda for today."

"The Empress would like a meeting to discuss the history of your
Alliance and the nature of its governance, economy, culture, and so
forth.  She would also like to hear about the other races in your part
of the galaxy, the members of the Interstellar Alliance you mentioned
in the information files you gave us in your initial contacts.
Meanwhile, we shall provide you with information about our culture and

"Good.  Counselor, I was wondering if there might be a time when I
could speak to you and the Empress privately.  It concerns a sensitive

"I believe we can arrange a meeting, but it will have to wait until
tomorrow.  For now, let us have a morning meal and then we can proceed
to the meeting hall."


Jenavia Chatto, Peacekeeper Disruptor, retrieved the special
transmission equipment she kept in her quarters.  As she set up the
equipment, she thought about the man she went to bed with last night.

She had been with a human male before.  That one night with John
Crichton, though, had not prepared her to sleep with Robert McGregor.
Crichton was a fun frell, but McGregor was different.  Jenavia actually
allowed herself to be distracted while in bed with the handsome human
male, distracted from her purpose for being there.

Jenavia had remained in the Sebacean Royal Court because she was
established there as Prince Clavor's semi-widow.  Her superiors felt
that she would provide the perfect eyes and ears in the Royal Court so
they could keep an eye on their activities.  She had decided to get
close to the human to find out as much as she could about the Earth
Alliance and their purpose behind sending an expedition to the
Uncharted Territories.

She activated the transmission device, and sent a brief coded message.

"Have made contact with Earth military Captain.  I am using
discretionary powers to get close to him for intelligence gathering
purposes.  Will advise when more information obtained.  Disruptor 194

Jenavia deactivated the device, and placed it back in its hiding place.
After she did so, for some reason, she felt strange about what had just
happened.  It was completely routine.  She was doing what any good
operative would do-report back to her superiors on her activities.
Jenavia was confused about her feelings for some reason she could not
fathom.  She decided to go out and get some fresh air to clear her


Barusa and the three Earth officers had a meal of various Sebacean
foods, which the humans found very appetizing.  It certainly beat the
ship's stores they had eaten for five months.  After the meal was over,
the four of them went to a room where the meeting was going to take

Around a quarter of an hour after Barusa, McGregor, Grant, and Reynolds
arrived, the Empress and several other officials entered.  They
exchanged greetings, then sat at a large conference table.

The meeting lasted for nearly 3 hours.  In that time, they exchanged
information about their governments to form a basis for determining
whether to continue with a diplomatic dialogue.  Several hours into the
meeting, the Empress began to raise doubts at continuing the diplomatic

"After what you have told me," said the Empress, "about your government
and your recent history, I must say I have some concerns."

"What might those be, majesty?" asked McGregor with concern.

"The Sebacean Royal Colonies have been at peace for most of their
history.  We remain at peace through two methods.  One, we maintain a
strong defense which discourages outside invasion.  Second, we maintain
diplomatic relations with other powers, but we never get involved in
matters that lay outside the realm of our domain."

"And now," she continued, "we come to your Earth Alliance.  In the past
twenty five cycles, your government has either directly or indirectly
been involved in 5 major wars, one of which is ongoing with these
beings called Drakh.  One of these wars was a Civil War in which your
military removed your President from control of the government."

"Majesty, I fought in that war," replied McGregor.  "In fact, I was one
of those officers who fought to remove President Clark.  He had become
a dictatorial tyrant who had suspended many civil liberties, committed
numerous violations of the Earth Alliance Constitution, ordered the
bombing of civilians.  He came to power not by election, but by the
assassination of his predecessor."

"I am aware of all of what you say, and I agree that this Clark was a
danger to your people," said the Empress.  "Still, this does not make
your government appear very...stable.  That, combined with your violent
history, makes one wonder whether open diplomatic relations between
your government and mine might not be such a good idea."

"Indeed," said another Sebacean official.  "It also makes one wonder
why your government sent a military Captain as their official
representative.  A Captain who commands a heavily armed warship.  It
makes one wonder if there is not a fleet of ships like yours waiting to
attack us if we do not agree to open relations with you."

McGregor was becoming frustrated.  "Yes, I am a soldier.  I'll admit
that.  I was chosen to represent my government because they felt that I
could speak well for them, but defend myself and my party if necessary.
Yes, I came here in a warship.  But, from the reports we received from
Commander John Crichton and the crew of Moya, it seemed prudent to send
a warship to an area of space with so many hostile races.  Then, of
course, there is the Peacekeeper threat.  My people are a prudent
people.  We are a people who believe in peace, but not at the sacrifice
of liberty.  We fight when we have to, but we are not conquerors out
for empire.  If you ask us to leave, we shall do so.   But I urge you
to please open relations with my government.  There are ways, even with
the physical distance between our home worlds, that we can benefit each

The room went silent.  The Empress considered for a moment, and then
spoke.  "I must consider the words that have been spoken here.  We
shall meet again tomorrow.  In the meantime, Captain, you and your
party may continue to enjoy our hospitality."

The Empress and her entourage rose and left the room.  Barusa escorted
the officers back to the courtyard.  They said little on the way.


When they reached the courtyard, Grant and Reynolds left with
McGregor's permission to explore more of the area around the palace.
McGregor declined an offer to join them.  He wanted to arrange a
private meeting with Barusa and Empress Novia to discuss the second
reason for their mission to the Royal Colonies, that of seeking help
from their government with the Drakh plague.  Barusa left soon after to
arrange for the meeting sometime tomorrow after the open session of

McGregor walked around the courtyard's immaculate gardens, making his
way down towards a small pond.  His thoughts ranged from his personal
assessments as to how the meeting went to his thoughts on where to go

Somewhere, somehow, his thoughts turned again to Jenavia Chatto.  For
some reason, he could not keep this woman out of his mind for very
long.  As he walked along the edge of the pond, he thought about her in
his arms last night.  He remembered her smell, the taste of her lips,
and the feel of her skin.  Robert had never met a more enticing woman
in his life.

As if he had summoned her to appear, McGregor spotted Jenavia Chatto
sitting on a bench looking at the pond.  Her beautiful, brown hair was
loose, and was blown slightly by the breeze.  Jenavia was wearing a
strapless white blouse that went to her midriff, and a beautiful white
skirt.  She seemed lost in thought and did not notice Captain McGregor
approaching her at first.

When she saw him, Jenavia stood and greeted the attractive human male. 
"Hello," she said.

"Hello," he replied.  They stood their silent for a moment.  McGregor
finally broke the silence.  "Where did you go this morning?  I woke up
and you were gone."

"I woke up and, well, you were sleeping so soundly.  I didn't want to
disturb you.  There was something I had to do this morning."

Jenavia turned and looked at the pond.  Robert walked up behind her and
placed his hands on her bare shoulders.  He didn't even give what he
was doing a second thought.  It just seemed natural to touch her.  She,
on the other hand, thought quite a lot about why she liked him touching
her so much.

Robert asked the burning question that was on his mind, what he had
been thinking about all day.  "Will you come to me again tonight?"

Jenavia turned around, and placed her arms around him.  Robert placed
his hands on the sides of her bare midriff.  "If you desire me to," she

"More than anything," he replied.  They then began to kiss, as Robert
pulled Jenavia close to him.  After a few moments, the pair heard
someone clear their throat near them.

The two of them turned to see Counselor Barusa standing there, eyeing
them with both interest and concern.  Jenavia stepped away from Robert.

"Well," she said.  "I shall see you later, Captain."

"Yes," he said knowingly.  "Later."

Jenavia walked away right past the Barusa.  "Counselor," she said as
she passed.  Barusa did not return the greeting.

"The, um, meeting you requested," said Barusa to McGregor, "has been

"Good," said McGregor, still watching Jenavia leaving the gardens.

"Captain," said Barusa.  "I feel I should speak to you about...her."

McGregor became nervous for a moment.  He spoke warily.  "I hope
that...I hope no one is offended by my, well, my relationship, if
that's what you want to call it, with Jenavia.  I know the Sebaceans
have a thing about interspecies relationships."

"Correction," said Barusa, "the Peacekeepers have such a compunction.
We here in the Royal government do not meddle in the private lives of
our citizens.  You have not offended anyone, Captain.  What I feel I
must speak to you about is Jenavia Chatto herself."

For some reason, McGregor did not like the tone Barusa was using to
refer to Jenavia.  He began to feel defensive of her.  "What do you
mean by that, Counselor?"

"Jenavia Chatto is an opportunist.  She managed to once slip her way
into the late Prince Clavor's life, and thus into the Royal Court.
Even after his death before their marriage, she still has a somewhat
inherited position here.  What I am saying is that she has a reputation
for, well, using her femininity to get what she wants.  I thought I
should warn you to..."

"Thank you, Counselor, but I can handle myself," said McGregor.  "Now,
is there anything else?"

"No, Captain."

"I'm sorry," McGregor quickly back stepped.  "I don't mean to be rude. 
Please accept my apology."

"I accept."

"Good," said the Captain.  "Now, if you will excuse me."

McGregor walked away from the Counselor, his mind muddled with
thoughts.  He made his way back to his quarters to contact the
Indefatigable and check in on how things were going up there.


That night, Robert and Jenavia lay in bed, content after another
passionate encounter.  Robert lay on his back, his left arm around
Jenavia.  She rested her head on his shoulder, her left arm draped on
his chest, her hand gently caressing his chest.

"So," said Robert, "Counselor Barusa doesn't seem to like you that

"Oh, him," she replied.  "He wouldn't.  I...turned him down, once.
Right after he became Counselor, Barusa tried to get me to marry him."

"Why did you turn him down? Not that I'm complaining, mind you."

"He's a politician.  No passion, no spirit, all business."

"You said Clavor wasn't the most exciting guy either, but you almost
married him."

"That was different.  A marriage to him would have made me the future
Empress, until Princess Katralla found a compatible mate in then
Counselor Tyno.  A marriage to Barusa would have just made me a wife to
a Counselor."

"And what about me?"

Jenavia was quite for a moment.  She finally kissed his neck, and
replied.  "You are...different.  I don't know what to quite make of
you, yet.  All I knew last night when I waited for you in this room is
that I wanted to be in bed with you.  Now, I'm not sure what I want,
except to be with you in this bed."

They kissed each other briefly.  Jenavia decided to shift the
conversation back to him. She had planned at such an opportunity to ask
him more about his mission, his ship, his government.  But, she found
herself asking him something else, for reasons she didn't readily

"Have you ever been...close to someone, Robert?"

Robert hesitated before replying.  "I've been with other women, yes."

"No, I mean have you ever been truly close to a woman."

"Well, I thought I was once.  She was a woman I knew growing up back
home.  Her name was Becky.  A nice, quite girl.  She was the type men
from my hometown married."

"What happened?"

"I joined Earth Force.  I changed, my life changed.  I wasn't the same
boy from that Virginia town any more."


"My home state on Earth."  He got back on topic. "You see, when I
joined Earth Force, I became a man, I guess you could say.  Becky just
seemed...boring.  Their was no spark there, no passion.  She was just a
nice girl.  I knew for sure that I was not truly in love with her when
I met this French girl while I was on my first active duty assignment. 
I lead a party to aid a ship in distress.  This girl was a member of
the crew.  Rene, I think her name was.  Anyhow, we ended up in bed
together.  I had been with Becky before.  There was no passion there,
not like there was with Rene, and with Rene it was just a one night
stand.  I was talking about marrying Becky, when I didn't feel any
passion for her.  When I got back to my ship, I sent Becky a letter,
breaking off the relationship.  Last I heard, she married someone else
and has children."

"Robert, do you feel passion when you are with me?"  Jenavia could not
understand why she was asking him this.  Her mind was telling her to
ask him about information that would be useful intelligence.  Some
other part of her told her to ask the question she did.

"Yes, Jena.  I do.  I feel very passionate about you.  I haven't been
able to keep you out of my mind for long since last night.  I don't
know where this road will lead us, but I'm sure it will be

The conversation stopped.  Jenavia saw another opportunity to ask him
intelligence related questions.  Still, she hesitated.  Jenavia waited
and waited, her mind and that other part of her arguing about what to
do.  Her mind finally won the battle, and she was about to ask him
about his ship.

But it was too late.  Robert had fallen asleep.  Jenavia considered
getting up and leaving, but she decided to stay.  She relaxed into his
embrace, and faded off to sleep.


The next day, the Empress entered the meeting room where the rest of
the attendees were waiting.  She indicated that everyone could be
seated, and the attendees settled around the meeting table.

The Empress waited a few moments before speaking.  "I must say that
this has been one of the most unusual initial diplomatic contacts our
people have ever taken part in.  Captain McGregor and his crew have
traveled a great distance to get here.  Never has the Sebacean Royal
Colonies had significant contact with a government so distant from our
home territory.  I have reviewed the information given to me by Captain
McGregor about his government and their intentions, as well as
information about the other governments in the Interstellar Alliance.
My primary concern in reviewing the information was the violent history
of the Earth Alliance in recent cycles.  Granted, most of the violence
was in self-defense and for justifiable causes.  However, I was
concerned that opening formal diplomatic relations with the Earth
Alliance might involve us too deeply in a turbulent area of the galaxy.
However, after much consideration, I have decided that the possible
benefits outweigh the risk.  Therefore, I have decided that my
government will formally open diplomatic relations with the Earth
Alliance, on one condition."

"What condition might that be, Majesty?" asked McGregor with both
excitement and nervousness.

"We will establish relations with the Earth Alliance only if part of
the process will eventually include opening formal relations with the
Interstellar Alliance.  This way, my people can benefit from future
trade not just with one power, but with most of the major powers in
that area of space.  Also, this will allow the Sebacean Royal Colonies
to remain an impartial contact for all of the races in your part of the
galaxy, thus minimizing the risk of the entanglements of alliances
while still allowing the freedom of diplomatic and economic contact.
Is this acceptable to your government, Captain?"

"It is, Majesty.  I was told by my government to provide guidelines for
future contacts with the Interstellar Alliance Council.  I would be
more than happy to make that a part of the process of establishing
formal relations between our governments."

"Then it shall be done," said the Empress.  "Barusa will be my
intermediary with the process of formalizing relations.  There are, of
course, still many aspects of establishing relations that must be
worked out, but I have full confidence in Barusa to act on my behalf in
this matter.  Now, if Counselor Barusa, Captain McGregor, and Commander
Grant, will come with me.  I believe we have a private meeting
scheduled at the request of the Captain to discuss another urgent
matter.  I am anxious to hear what this mysterious matter is about."

The Empress rose, and walked out the same door she came in, followed by
Barusa, McGregor, and Grant.  The four of them, flanked by guards,
walked to the Empress' private office.  

The group entered the office, and the door was closed behind them by
the guards.  Empress Novia sat in a chair, and motioned for the others
to do the same.  Once everyone was settled, the Empress spoke.

"Now, Captain.  What is it that you wished to speak with me privately

McGregor considered on how to begin before plunging ahead with what he
had to say.  "There was a second purpose for our expedition to open
relations with your government, Majesty," said McGregor.  "This second
mission is one of the utmost secrecy.  We are concerned that if anyone
outside of this government heard about it, they may wish to take
advantage of a situation.  The Peacekeepers in particular."

"Captain, before you begin, let me emphasize one thing.  If you are
hear to propose a military alliance, you might as well leave now.  Not
just this room, but leave the Royal Colonies, because I shall want my
people to have nothing more to do with your people."

"I am not here," replied McGregor, "to propose a military alliance.  I
am here on a mission of mercy."

"Mission of mercy?" asked Barusa.  This perked both his and Empress
Novia's interest.  "What do you mean?"

"I told you about the war my people are currently fighting against the
Drakh.  We told you about the Drakh attack on my home world that began
the war, but we did not tell you the whole story.  You see, our forces
were able to destroy the weapon that the Drakh were going to use to
destroy my world.  What we didn't know is that the Drakh had another
weapon, one which they able to deploy.  The Drakh managed to release a
biogenetic plague into Earth's atmosphere.  Every human on Earth is
infected with this plague."

Looks of alarm shown on the faces of the Empress and Barusa.  "Are your
people here infected?" asked Empress Novia with concern.

"No, Majesty.  Earth was quarantined immediately after the plague was
released.  That was over a year...cycle ago now.  Our doctors and
scientists estimate we have another 3 and 1/2 cycles to find a cure, or
every man, woman, and child on Earth will die at the end of that time."

Empress Novia was clearly alarmed at the prospect of the entire
population of a world being murdered by an alien race using a disease. 
"What is it that you want from us?"

"Human and Sebacean physiology is not exactly the same, but it is very
similar.  It is our hope that it is similar enough to allow you to help
us find a cure for this plague.  You are obviously more advanced than
us in many forms of technology.  We are hoping that medical technology
is one of those areas where you are more advanced.  On behalf of my
government, I wish to formally ask your government to use its medical
resources to help us find a cure."

"You see now, Majesty," broke in Grant, "why we wanted this meeting to
be a secret.  If the Peacekeepers or some other hostile race found out
about our current weakness, they might try to take advantage of it."

"Yes," said the Empress.  "It makes sense."  She got up from her chair
and went to look out a window.  She was quiet for a moment before
speaking again.  "What can your government offer in return for our

"My government," replied McGregor, "has given me a great deal of leeway
in negotiating for your help.  The survival of our home world is at
stake.  State your terms, Majesty, and we'll do our best to meet them. 
My government begs for your assitance in this matter."

The room went quiet again as the Empress considered what to say in
reply.  When she decided, she turned to McGregor.  "I must think this
over.  I am inclined to help your people, but I still wish to take some
time with this.  We have the time.  You will be here at least a monen
to conduct negotiations on the conditions of establishing relations
between our governments.  I will give you an answer as soon as I can.
Now, will you please excuse me."

McGregor and Grant were escorted out the door by Barusa, who was then
called back in by the Empress.  When the door closed, the two Earth
Force officers walked down the corridor.

"I hated having to beg like that.  I felt like a schoolboy begging for
treats," said McGregor.

"Robert, you did what you had to do," said Grant.  "Like you said, the
lives of everyone on Earth may depend on whether or not these people
help us.  So maybe we sacrifice some pride along the way.  If it saves
a few billion humans, who cares about eating a little humble pie."

"Yeah, I know, Tom.  Its just difficult.  I've never crawled or begged
before, and I don't like having to do it now, no matter the stakes."

" 'Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die,'" replied Grant.
"This is do or die time, Robert."

The two officers continued in silence as they walked down the corridor.


Chapter 5:  The Crisis Begins


One month later, Jenavia woke up in Robert McGregor's arms.  They had
been sleeping together every night since the first day McGregor
arrived.  Every morning, Jenavia would wake up before Robert did, get
dressed, and leave.  She got out of bed this morning with the
intentions of doing just that.

The two of them had been progressing down a road that Jenavia had never
traveled before.  At first, their relationship had just been physical. 
She had initiated it to gather more intelligence about his government,
military, and mission, but that part of it disappeared very early on in
their relationship.  Jena was developing feelings for Robert she did
not fully understand, feelings she had never felt for anyone before.
Her superiors had been sending message after message to her trying to
see what information she had gathered from being with McGregor.  Each
time, she could only reply that she was taking it slow to gain his
confidence.  She knew that would not satisfy them for much longer, but
Jenavia did not know what else to tell them.  The operative did not
even know what her own heart was trying to tell her, so how could she
possibly explain it to someone else.  Would she even want to explain it
to her superiors in High Command?

As she got dressed, Robert began to slowly awaken.  He had often done
so when she would get up to dress and leave, but he never said
anything.  McGregor did not quite know what to make of her always
leaving him in the morning.  He could only fathom that it was some kind
of defense mechanism to use to deny her feelings.  Robert McGregor was
by now in love with Jenavia Chatto, but he could not in all this time
get through to her heart.  That was still somehow a closed door to him,
although he hoped he was slowly but surely opening it.

Meanwhile, his mission on the Royal Planet had progressed.  The
negotiations between him and Barusa had produced a formal diplomatic
agreement between the Earth Alliance and the Sebacean Royal Colonies
for the conduct of peaceful relations and commerce.  It was currently
being reviewed by the Empress for her approval.  While the negotiations
had gone on, the crew of the Indefatigable had been welcomed on the
Royal Planet for shore leave.  Members of the crew took turns visiting
the planet to enjoy the hospitality provided them by the Sebaceans.  A
close bond and friendship had begun to develop between the Humans and
Sebaceans that had added to the success of the diplomatic negotiations.
The Humans had proven to their Sebacean hosts that they were a race
that the citizens of the Royal Colonies could get along with.

The Empress still had not given McGregor an answer on the question of
whether the Sebaceans would help Earth find a cure for the Drakh
plague.  The mission would probably be wrapped up in another week, but
that one question was still the sticking point.  Empress Novia had
promised McGregor that she would give them an answer soon.

The thoughts of how little time he had left on the Royal Planet brought
his thoughts back to Jenavia Chatto.  Their relationship began as one
that saw them hopping into bed at every encounter.  However, they soon
began to do other things besides have sex.  They began to have dinner,
go for walks in the garden, go on excursions into the city and
countryside near the palace.  Eventually, when they were in bed, it no
longer felt like just passionate sex to Robert.  It became love making.
He loved her, and this morning, Robert decided not to keep quiet while
she left him.

"Not this morning, Jena," said Robert quietly.

Jenavia stopped in her tracks.  She turned, still half dressed to
Robert.  "How long have you been awake, Robert?"

"Long enough.  Every morning, you leave before I wake up.  Please, stay
with me for a while longer."

Jenavia hesitated, not knowing what to do.  She felt like this was a
turning point for her in her relationship with Robert McGregor.  Her
mind, her training, told her to leave.  Her heart told her to run into
his arms.  She didn't know what to do.  That was when Robert spoke the
words she had never heard anyone ever say to her before.

"Jenavia," said Robert.  "I love you.  Please, come to me."

Jenavia Chatto stood there like a deer caught in headlights.  She was
running on fight or flight instincts.  Would she stay and confront her
feelings or run?  This thought made the decision for her.  Jenavia had
never run from anything in her life, and she decided that she was not
going to run from her feelings.  She still had to work them out, but
her feelings told her what to do.

Jena slowly laid back down on the bed, snuggling into Robert's waiting
arms.  Laying half on top of Robert, she nuzzled her head into the
crook of his neck.  The two lovers laid there for a while, enjoying a
feeling of contentment neither had ever felt before.


Officer Lassine of the Sebacean Royal Colony Defense Force was at her
post as she was every day, monitoring the readings from the border
scanners.  The border outpost where she was stationed had been quiet
lately.  After the excitement that the arrival of the Earth ship had
brought, going back to the routine of border guard duty seemed so

Commander Riken came into the room and approached Lassine.  "Good
morning, Lassine."

"Good morning, sir," replied the Officer.

"Anything on scanners," asked Riken casually.

"No sir.  Screen is clear."

"Very good.  Carry on."  Riken turned to leave.  Before he could get
out the door, a large reading appeared on Lassine's scanners.  The size
of the reading made Lassine jump to action.

"Sir, Commander Riken," she said.  "I am picking up a large reading
approaching the border.   Multiple ships, big ones, coming in."

"Run and identity scan," said Riken, as he returned to Lassine's
scanners.  He looked at the on duty communications officer.  "Open a
channel to those ships."

After a few moments, the officer replied indicated a channel was open. 
Riken spoke into the comm.  "This is Commander Riken of the Sebacean
Royal Colony Defense Force.  You are approaching Sebacean Royal Colony
territory.  Identify yourself."

He received no response.  Riken was about to speak again, when an alarm
was triggered automatically by the scanner readings.  Lassine reported.
"Sir, we are under attack!  Approaching ships have launched a barrage
of missiles!"

"Activate defense screen," replied Riken.  "Arm weapons, prepare to
return fire.  Call in all warships in the area.  Communications, get me
a channel to the capital.  Now!"


McGregor had been invited to a formal breakfast reception to be held in
the great hall that morning.  With some urging on his part, Robert had
been able to convince Jenavia to attend the reception with him.

The pair walked into the reception arm in arm, catching the attention
of almost everyone in the room.  The two of them made quite a couple.
Robert was dressed in his gray, gold braided Earth Force dress uniform
and saber, while Jenavia was dressed in a beautiful white gown.

The Sebaceans and officers from the Indefatigable who were the
attendees at the reception smiled as they look on the beautiful couple
as they came into the room.  Their romance had not stayed a secret for
long.  It was a much talked about subject among the Sebacean population
and the crew of the Indy.  Many thought it was like some sort of fairy
tale romance.  The handsome Captain and the beautiful Royal Courtier.
Some where not comfortable with the interspecies romance, but their
numbers among both constituencies were slowly shrinking.

Even Barusa, who now approached the couple, put away his skepticism and
was quite pleased to see the two of them together.  The Counselor and
Captain McGregor had become friends through all of the negotiations,
and Barusa was happy that things seemed to be going well for McGregor
and Jenavia.

"Well, good morning, Captain, Jenavia," said Barusa.  "I'm glad to see
you decided to attend this reception together.  I must say, though,
that you may not make the Empress very happy when she arrives thinking
that she will be the center of attention to find that place already

"I shall be sure to apologize to Her Majesty for stealing the show,"
said McGregor.

"I wont," said Jenavia.  "I'm quite proud to be with the most handsome
man in the room."

A Sebacean military officer walked briskly up to Barusa and whispered
something in his ear.  A look of urgency and concern came over the
Counselor's face, and he quickly excused himself.  Barusa and the
officer ran out of the room heading in the direction of the Empress'

"I wonder what that was about?" asked Jenavia.

"I don't know, but something is definitely up," replied McGregor.  Just
then, Lt. Commander Grant walked up to the couple.  On his arm was
Kastra, the young Sebacean woman Grant had been infatuated with since
the day they arrived on the Royal Planet.  Robert didn't know how the
relationship had been progressing because Grant was very hushed about
it.  All McGregor knew was that Grant took every opportunity he could
to be with Kastra, and something led Robert to think that Tom was very
interested in taking his relationship with Kastra to the next level.

"Good morning, Captain, Miss Chatto," said Grant.

"Good Morning, Commander, and Miss, um, Miss..." replied McGregor.

"Kastra Brakien," replied the young Sebacean woman.  "I know we've
never been formally introduced, although I feel I know you because Tom
talks about you so often."

"Captain," said Grant.  "Why did Counselor Barusa run off in such a

"I don't know," said McGregor.  Just then, he spotted Barusa coming
back into the hall.  He indicated that he wished to have everyone's
attention, and the room quieted.  "We may soon find out," said

"Members of the Royal Court, honored guests, if I may have your
attention," said Barusa.  "I'm afraid that the reception will have to
be concluded at this point.  A crisis has arisen which has led the
Empress to issue an order to declare martial law."

The entire room filled with concerned voices, as Barusa continued.
"All members of the court and all guests are restricted to the palace. 
All members of the Defense Force are ordered to report to their
stations for further instructions.  That is all I can tell you for

Everyone began to file out of the room.  McGregor activated his hand
link to call the Indefatigable.  "Captain to Indy, come in."

"Lt. Hancock here, sir."

"Lieutenant, all hell has broken loose down here.  Are you getting
anything over communications or scanners?"

"Scanners show increased Sebacean military activity, sir.  It appears
to be the beginnings of a major mobilization.  Their has also been a
radical increase in comm traffic between the border and Sebacean
military bases here.  We've been given instructions by their orbital
control to maintain status until given further instructions."

"Alright, do as they say.  Have a shuttle on standby to pick up the XO
and myself.  All shore leaves are cancelled, all crewmembers are to
report back to ship."

"Aye, aye, sir."

As McGregor deactivated his link, Barusa approached him, Grant,
Jenavia, and Kastra.  "Captain, Lt. Commander.  The Empress wishes to
see you in her office.  Meanwhile, ladies.  Will you please report to
your quarters?"

Kastra and Grant exchanged a quick goodbye as she left for her
quarters.  McGregor took Jenavia's hands in his and squeezed them.
They kissed briefly, before they went their separate ways.


Barusa led the two Earth Force Officers into Empress Novia's office.
She was surrounded by military officers and court officials.  They were
all talking in nervous voices until Barusa brought McGregor and Grant
into the room.

The Empress saw them.  "Would all of you leave me alone with Counselor
Barusa and the Earth officers, please?  Except for General Mestra."

All of the Sebacean military officers and officials left the room,
except for one older man who remained by the Empress' side.  Empress
Novia spoke to McGregor and Grant.

"Thank you both for coming, gentlemen.  I believe you know General
Devon Mestra, the commander of the Royal Colony Defense Forces."

"Yes, Majesty.  We've met several times," replied McGregor.  "Its good
to see you again, sir."

"And you, Captain," said Mestra.  "We've never had a chance to arrange
that tour of your ship."

"Yes, sir," said McGregor.  

"Captain," said the Empress.  "I asked Barusa to bring you and Lt.
Commander Grant here on a matter of the greatest urgency."  The Empress
hesitated and turned away, looking out the window to her office.  "Less
than an arn ago, a large group of ships attacked one of our border
outposts.  The outpost and several of our warships have been destroyed,
and a group of at least 15 enemy ships is on course for one of the
outer colonies, Lestral."

McGregor was startled by the news.  "Is it the Peacekeepers, Majesty?"

"No," said the Empress.  "The Scarrens.  This assault is apparently
part of an intended invasion of the Royal Colonies."

"The Scarrens," said McGregor with shock.  

"Of course," said the Empress.  "You don't know about them."

"Yes, Majesty," replied McGregor.  "I know something about them from
the reports from Moya's crew.  But why are they invading your

"They have attempted to gain a foothold here for a long time
diplomatically.  If they could control our space, they would have a
strong strategic position to help them control the whole of the
Uncharted Territories.  Now, they apparently wish to accomplish with
military force what they could not do diplomatically.  I didn't think
they would have the strength to do so.  They must have been preparing
for this for cycles, just waiting to strike when they were ready."

"What about your military, Majesty?" asked Grant.  "Can't they fight
off the invasion."

Mestra spoke on this point.  "We were caught by surprise, I'm afraid,"
said the General.  "It will take some time to get our forces mobilized
to meet the invasion.  Meanwhile, the Scarrens will have taken Lestral
and possibly several other colonies.  We won't be able to muster enough
ships to stop them before they can take Lestral.  What few ships we
have sent to that colonies defense will not be enough to stop them.
Plus, we believe this Scarren force is actually the vanguard of a
larger fleet."

"This brings us to the reason I have asked you and Grant to come here,
Captain," said the Empress.  "My people need your help.  I am formally
asking you for military aid."

McGregor swallowed hard at the implications of what the Empress had
just said.  After a few moments to absorb her words, the Captain
replied to the Empress' request.  "Majesty, with all due respect, I
don't think I can do that.  We are one Earth Force ship operating
independently a great distance from home.  I can't contact my
superiors, and I don't know if I can help you without their

"Do you know what will happen to my people on Lestral if the Scarrens
take that colony?" asked the Empress.  "The ones who are not killed
will be made slaves.  The men will be put to work as laborers under the
most brutal of conditions.  The women..."A look of disgust came over
her face.  "I don't even want to think about it."

McGregor got the gist of what the Empress was saying.  He didn't want
to think about the fate of those people on Lestral if the Scarrens took
the planet either.  The Empress spoke again to McGregor.

"I will add in an extra...incentive for you and your people to help us.
In exchange for military aid, I give you my word that every resource we
have will be used to help your government find a cure for the plague
that has been released on your home world.  I believe you did say that
your government gave you tremendous leeway to negotiate for our aid in
finding a cure.  Does that give you the authority to act?"

McGregor considered her words.  He could act using those parameters,
but he still wasn't sure.  The leeway granted him by Earth Gov sure
didn't mention getting involved in an interstellar war.  Still, he
wanted to act.  The causes, both practical and moral, were just ones.
McGregor made his decision.

"Very well, Majesty," said McGregor.  "As the Captain of the Earth
Alliance Destroyer Indefatigable, I herby offer the aid of my ship and
crew to the defense of your colonies."

The Empress smiled.  "Thank you, Captain.  Let us pray that this
alliance will bring us success in this conflict.  Now, General.  Do you
have that schematic of the situation at Lestral?"

"Yes, Majesty."  The General activated a holographic viewer, which
presented a diagram of the Scarren and Sebacean forces near Lestral.


Captain McGregor went to his quarters in the Royal Palace to get a few
things before leaving for the Indefatigable.  He, Grant, and General
Mestra were able to work out a plan of attack, but it would need to be
executed within a few hours.  Otherwise, the Scarren task force would
be in optimum position to assault Lestral.

When McGregor entered his quarters, he found Jenavia waiting for him.
This moment reminded him of that first night on the Royal Planet, when
Jenavia had been waiting for Robert in his quarters wearing nothing but
a towel.  This time, she was fully clothed and wore a look of concern.

She approached him slowly, and spoke to him.  "Robert, what's

"It's a Scarren invasion, Jena," he replied.  "The colony of Lestral
will be taken unless my ship aids your people's military.  I have to

McGregor gathered a few things together, then turned back to Jenavia.
He could see a tear gently fall from one of her eyes, and she spoke
very softly.  "Why...why you?"

"If I don't act, your people will not be able to save Lestral in time."
He brushed the tear from her cheek.  "Don't worry, dear.  Those
Scarrens don't stand a chance against my crew and ship.  Our vessel
isn't named Indefatigable for nothing."

He gently kissed Jenavia on the lips, then look her in the eyes.  "I
love you, Jenavia."

Robert waited for Jenavia to respond.  She didn't.  In Jenavia's mind,
a struggle was going on as to how to reply to Robert's statement of
love for her.  She still did not know how to respond.  Instead, she
chose the safest bet:  silence.

McGregor brushed Jenavia's cheek with his hand one last time, before
turning to leave.  He left Jenavia alone in his quarters.  She did not
move for some time, still stunned by what was happening.

Meanwhile, Captain McGregor marched out to the landing pad where Grant
and a shuttle were waiting for him.  Grant saluted McGregor, the
Captain returned the salute, and the pair boarded the shuttle.

As soon as the two officers were aboard and secure, the shuttle took
off and raced at top speed to the Indy.  Upon landing in the
destroyer's main hanger, McGregor and Grant exited the shuttle and
marched to the bridge.

As soon as they entered, Lt. Hancock announced them.  "Captain and XO
on the bridge."

"Report, Lieutenant," said McGregor.

"We have plotted the coordinates for a short hyperspace jump per your
instructions over the comm, sir," said Hancock.  

The plan laid out by McGregor, Grant, and General Mestra called for the
few Sebacean ships that could be mustered to defend Lestral to engage
the Scarrens alone at first. At one point, the Sebaceans would pull
back to a certain location, hopefully luring the Scarrens to pursue
them.  Meanwhile, the Indefatigable would make a short trip through
hyperspace to get to the scene of the battle.  Short jumps were
possible through hyperspace without the hyperspace beacons since the
stellar coordinates were in direct scanning range.  All that was needed
was to do some mathematical calculations comparing direction and
distance in both normal and hyperspace, and a short jump could be made.
Once the Sebaceans had lured the Scarrens to a certain location, the
Indy would jump out of hyperspace and ambush the Scarrens.  

"Standing by to jump, sir," said Grant.

"Lt. Hancock, open a ship wide comm frequency."

"Aye, sir.  Frequency open, sir."

"Officers and crew of the Indefatigable, this is the Captain.  We are
about to engage in a battle with an alien enemy that we have never
encountered before.  This ship will do battle with the Scarrens in
order to aid in the defense of our new friends in the Sebacean Royal
Colonies.  If we don't act, thousands of Sebaceans on the planet of
Lestral will be killed or enslaved by the Scarrens.  I know that you
might have reservations about engaging in battle so far from home.  But
remember two things.  One, in exchange for our help, Empress Novia has
promised to help our people find a cure for the Drakh plague.  Two,
remember that we are Earth Force Officers, the military representatives
of a free Earth Alliance.  Liberty should not be a right granted to and
defended for just our own people.  Liberty should instead be a
universal right to be defended wherever possible.  We have the means to
act, the will to act, and we will do so in the cause of freedom.  This
ship will fight for both practical and moral reasons, and we shall
achieve victory.  Stand with me now.  Together, we shall win the day.
Captain out."

Captain McGregor turned to Lt. Commander Grant.  That was when he
noticed that every officer and crewman on the bridge was staring in awe
at him.  A young crewman stepped forward and spoke.  "Sir," he said,
"I'll stand with you."

McGregor put his hand on the crewman's shoulder.  He knew that the
young man spoke for every officer and crewman there.  The Captain
looked at his XO.  "XO, prepare to jump to hyperspace."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied Grant.  "Navigation, prepare to jump."

"Prepare to jump, aye, sir," replied the Lt. Reynolds, who was sitting
at the Navigator's station.

"Jump," ordered McGregor.

The Indefatigable's jump engines opened a hyperspace jump point.  The
ship then entered the jump point to pass into the void of hyperspace


Six Sebacean Royal Colony Defense Force warships formed a line between
the Scarren task force and Lestral.  The commander, Admiral Cherok,
knew that they would be no match for fifteen Scarren battle cruisers.
Luckily, he also knew that they had secret help that was waiting to
pounce on his signal.  The humans had given them a subspace frequency
to transmit on when the time came.  

Cherok was shaken from his thoughts by the officer manning the ship's
scanners.  "Sir, Scarren ships closing into firing range."

Cherok's second in command spoke next.  "Orders, sir."

The Admiral activated the inter-ship comm unit.  "Command to task
force.  Launch all fighters.  Open fire on enemy ships.  Fire at will!"

Streams of Prowler type fighters streamed out of the Sebacean warships,
heading for the Scarren fighters who were at the head of the main
Scarren battle cruisers.  The Sebacean ships opened fire on the Scarren
cruisers, while the fighters from both sides engaged each other.

The battle teamed on for half an arn, as the Sebacean and Scarren
forces pounded each other.  Sebacean fighters mixed it up with the
horseshoe shaped Scarren fighters, but the Sebaceans were hopelessly
outnumbered by their antagonists.

The Sebacean ships were taking a beating, and Admiral Cherok decided it
was time.  He activated the inter-ship comm.  "Command to task force,
initiate retreat on preplanned course vector.  All fighters cover the

The Sebacean ships lumbered back, as their fighters gave them cover
against the pursuing Scarrens.  The invaders knew that if they could
knock out this Sebacean task force, there would be nothing else of
significance between them and Lestral.  The Scarrens pursued their
quarry with a relentless lust for destruction, but they also did so
arrogantly, not covering their flanks.  They were not prepared for what
was about to hit them.

The navigation officer on the Sebacean command ship reported to Admiral
Cherok.  "Sir, we have reached target coordinates."

"Very well.  Communications, send the signal for the Earth ship.  Now."

The Sebacean warship transmitted the subspace message.  The Sebacean
ships held position, and turned to fight the Scarrens once again.
Thinking the Sebaceans were making some sort of last, suicidal stand,
the Scarrens moved in at full speed to finish off their quarry.  That
was when the Scarren scanners registered a massive energy spike behind

Just behind the Scarren task force, a yellowish hyperspace jump point
opened in the black void of space.  Exiting the jump point at full
speed came the Indefatigable, flanked by her Starfury fighter
squadrons, and with all of her plasma cannons blazing away at the
Scarren task force.

The shots from the Indy crashed into the Scarren warships in the rear,
pulverizing their rear defense screens.  One of the Scarren battle
cruisers exploded within 15 seconds of being engaged by the
Indefatigable, her screens unable to stand up to the sudden and violent
assault from the Earth destroyer.

The Scarren ships that had a moment ago been on the verge of victory
now found themselves trapped between two forces.  Attempting to defend
both attacks to their rear from the Earth destroyer and renewed attacks
to their front from the Sebacean warships, the Scarren task force was
thrown into confusion.

The Starfuries from the Indy engaged the Scarren fighters in ship to
ship combat.  The Scarren fighters were found to be no match for the
highly maneuverable Starfuries which were now cutting into their lines
of battle.  The Earth fighters were able to cut down the Scarren
fighters that attempted to cover the rear flank of the Scarren task

The Indefatigable engaged the Scarren ships at close range.  Protected
by their new defense screen, the Earth destroyer was able to stand up
to the Scarren fire much better than they would have been without the
screens.  Meanwhile, the Indy blasted away at the screens on the
Scarren ships.  Once a defense screen was destroyed, the Indefatigable
would finish the Scarren ship with her laser cannons.
As Scarren ships turned to engage the Indefatigable, the Sebacean
warships would attack the flanks of the Scarren ships.  Between the
Earth and Sebacean ships, the number of Scarren ships being destroyed
was rising.  Meanwhile, the still confused Scarrens were unable to
effectively defend themselves against the forces arrayed against them. 
It became an almost one sided battle as the Scarren ships were
destroyed one by one by the Earth and Sebacean warships.

Eventually, the Scarren task force was reduced to three ships.  At this
point, one of them made a break for it and attempted to escape.
Captain McGregor aboard the Indefatigable saw the retreating warship,
and was determined not to let any of the Scarren warships escape to
report back to their command.

McGregor contacted Admiral Cherok on the Sebacean command ship.
"Captain McGregor to Admiral Cherok.  Please come in."

"This is Cherok.  Go ahead Captain."

"Sir, if you can finish off these remaining two Scarren warships, I
would like to pursue the escaping Scarren cruiser."

"Affirmative, Captain.  Don't let that ship escape."

"Very good, sir.  McGregor out."  The Captain turned to Grant.  "XO,
recall our fighters, and let's chase down that enemy ship."

"Aye, aye, sir."

As soon as all of the Starfuries were collected, the Indy headed off in
pursuit of the Scarren ship.  The  Scarrens had a head start, and
McGregor knew that it would take some time to hunt them down.  But he
also knew the Scarren ship was damaged, and that the Indy should be
able to catch her.

The two ships, one the pursued and one the pursuer, darted across space
beyond the boundaries of Sebacean territory and into the Uncharted


Chapter 6:  Old Friends Arrive


Aeryn Sun-Crichton was in her workout room on Moya punching at the
various practice dummies she had set up in the room.  Nearby, her 4
year old son, John Robert Crichton, III, or "Jack" as they called him,
was playing with some toys Moya's crew had made for him.

She was working out to relieve tension.  Aeryn felt stressed, and she
was relieving that stress in her usual way:  physical exertion.  She
may have not been a Peacekeeper for a long time, but she was still a
warrior, both in spirit and in training.  Aeryn lent a good deal of
physicality to resolving life's issues.

After an arn of working out, she stopped punching at the bags, and
exhaled from exhaustion.  As she went over to a table to gather a towel
and a glass of water, Aeryn eyed her son playing with his toys
contentedly on the floor.  The mother could not help but smile as she
watched her son play, thinking about how carefree his childhood has
been so far.  Aeryn never had a childhood really, and she was
determined that her son would.

Just then, her husband, John Crichton, stepped into the room.  When
Jack saw his father walk into the room, the little boy ran into John's
waiting arms.

"Hi, Daddy," said Jack.

"Hey, squirt," replied John.  "You been taking care of Mommy?"

"Yes, Daddy.  I've been protecting her."

"Good, boy," said John.  "I'll take over for now.  Why don't you run
along and find Uncle D'Argo?  He's in the mess hall.  I need to talk to
your Mom."

"Okay," said Jack.  Before he left, Jack ran up to Aeryn and put his
hands up.  It seemed that Jack's favorite thing in the world was to be
held by his Mommy.  Aeryn certainly didn't mind that.

Aeryn picked up her little boy and gave him a big hug.  "See you later,
Jack," said Aeryn.  She kissed her son on the forehead, and put him
back down on the ground.  Jack raced out of the room at full gallop to
find his Uncle D'Argo.

"He is growing up so fast, John," said Aeryn.

"Yeah," replied Crichton.  He suddenly remembered why he came in here. 
"So, Aeryn, you've been working out kind of hard today.  I can guess
what's on your mind."

Aeryn threw the towel down on the floor and walked up to her husband in
frustration.  She put her arms around him and spoke to him.

"John, why do we have to go to the Royal Colonies for supplies?  Why
can't we go somewhere else?"

"Look, Aeryn.  I'm not exactly jumping for joy to be going back there
myself.  I mean, last time, I was shanghaied into marrying a princess
and frozen as a statue.  These memories do not exactly endear the place
to my heart.  But we need supplies, and the Royal Colonies are the
closest source of supplies."

"I'm sure Empress Novia is not going to be pleased to hear of our
arrival.  It would only be a reminder of our previous visit, and might
raise questions about the events of that visit."

"I know.  But we'll only be there for a day, two tops. Besides, there
are two other reasons why it might be good to visit."

"What are they?"

"Well, it would be good for Jack to interact with other Sebacean
children, for one thing.  The other,"  he hesitated to continue, but he
wanted to keep no secrets from Aeryn.  "The other reason is that I
would like to check up on Katralla."

This statement made Aeryn's face harden with concern.  She stepped away
from John and put her back to him.  John followed and put his arms
around her waist from behind her.  "Aeryn, she is carrying my child, a
child I will never know.  I just want to make sure they are alright."

"Hmm," she replied with a hesitant nod.  John turned her around to face

"Aeryn, I love you and only you.  Never, ever doubt that.  Nothing can
ever take the place of you and Jack in my heart. "

They kissed briefly, and Aeryn pressed herself closer into John's arms,
resting her head on his shoulder.  "I know that, John.  Really, I do.
Its just...bad memories.  I almost lost you, and I was too scared and
too stupid to tell you how I felt."

"You have never been stupid, Aeryn," replied John.  "And as for the
memories, they are just that:  memories.  Memories belong in the past. 
This is the here and now, and in the here and now, I am your husband
and we are together."

At that moment, Pilot's voice came over the comm.  "Attention.  Will
everyone please come to command.  This is urgent."

Aeryn and John ran out of the workout room to the command deck.  Along
the way, Aeryn activated her comm.  "We're on our way, Pilot.  D'Argo,
do you have Jack?"

"Yes, Aeryn.  I'll bring him."


Captain McGregor and Lt. Commander Grant reentered the bridge of the
Indefatigable after having changed out of their dress uniforms and into
their blue standard duty Earth Force uniforms.  Lt. Hancock announced

"Captain and XO on the bridge," he said.

"Report, Lieutenant," said the Captain to Hancock.

"Sir, we are closing on the enemy vessel.  Estimated time to optimum
firing range, one minute."

The Indy had chased the Scarren warship that had ran from the
engagement near Lestral for nearly a day.  It had taken that long to
finally catch up to the enemy warship.

Captain McGregor activated his comm unit.  "Forward gun crews, open
fire as soon as we are within optimum range."


"What's going on Pilot?" asked Crichton as he and Aeryn ran into
command, followed by the other members of Moya's crew.

"Moya's sensors are detecting two large vessels traveling at high speed
on a course that will bring them across our path," replied Pilot.
"They are most definitely warships."

"What, warships," said Rygel.  "Let's starburst the yotz out of here."

"Just a moment, Rygel," said Zhaan.  "Let's at least attempt to find
out who those ships are first."

"Pilot, can you identify them?" asked D'Argo.

"I am checking Moya's databanks now.  Wait, the second ship is firing
on the first.  The first ship is returning fire."

"What the frell?" said Chiana.  "You mean those two ships are shooting
at one another."

"Yes," replied Pilot.  "One moment, I have identified the first ship.
The Peacekeeper data banks identify it as a Scarren battle cruiser."

"What the frell is a Scarren ship doing in this part of space?" asked
Aeryn to no one in particular.  "Can you identify the other one Pilot?"

"Yes, I am getting a better reading on it now," said Pilot.  On the
holo viewer, the members of Moya's crew could see Pilot's eyes bulge
with astonishment.

"Pilot, what is it?" asked Zhaan.

"The second ship is...the second ship is an Earth Alliance destroyer,"
said Pilot with astonishment.

The entire bridge crew was stunned into silence.  After a few moments
of exchanged looks of astonishment, Crichton spoke.  "Pilot, are you

"Confirmed.  It is most definitely and Earth Alliance destroyer, a
Warlock class destroyer to be exact.  We are close enough for a visual.
I am putting it on the viewer."

On the main view screen of Moya's command deck came the image of two
ships locked in combat.  One was a Scarren battle cruiser, whose
defense screens were being pulverized by the fire from the other ship. 
The other ship was indeed a Warlock class Earth Force destroyer, and it
was obviously winning the engagement.

"Aeryn, could that be the Athena?" asked John.

"Its been a few cycles, John, but I don't think so.  Her lines are
slightly different."  Aeryn had been around space ships her whole life
and knew how to spot the minute differences that were present in ships
she was familiar with.  She served on the Athena, and somehow Aeryn
knew that the Earth ship they were seeing was not the one commanded by
their friend, Captain Susan Ivanova.

The crew of Moya frantically began to debate what to do.  Half of them
wanted to flee the area of the battle and come back later, the other
half (especially Crichton and Aeryn) wanted to stick around at a safe
distance and try to contact the Earth destroyer.

As the crew debated, they watched the battle being played out on the
view screen.  Within a few minutes, the Earth ship had destroyed the
Scarren's defense screens and was now finishing off its target.  The
crew watched as the Earth ship sliced the Scarren vessel to pieces with
its forward laser batteries.  The Scarren battle cruiser exploded,
scattering debris through space.

A stunned group stood silent on Moya's command deck.  After a few
moments, Crichton spoke to Pilot.

"Pilot, try to open a channel to the Earth ship," said Crichton.


The bridge crew of the Indefatigable watched the Scarren warship
explode before their eyes on the bridge view screen.  Grant turned to
Captain McGregor with a smile.

"Target destroyed, sir," he officially reported.

"Damage report, XO," replied the Captain.

"Defense screen has taken a beating, power down to 30%.  No structural
damage," Grant said with astonishment.  "After all of that fighting, no
structural damage.  Thank God for that defense screen."

"Casualties," asked McGregor.

"Some minor injuries, sir, that's it," said Grant.

"Good.  Prepare to..." McGregor was interrupted by Lt. Hancock.

"Sir, scanners report a ship bearing 090, 1 million kilometers to our
starboard.   Computer identifies it as a Leviathan ship."

Another officer broke in.  "Sir, communications is picking up a signal
on standard Earth Force comm frequencies coming from the Leviathan."

"Put it through," said McGregor.

"Attention Earth Force destroyer.  This is Commander John Crichton on
board the Leviathan ship Moya.  Come in."

McGregor activated his command chair comm unit.  "This is Captain
Robert McGregor of the Earth Alliance Destroyer Indefatigable.  We read

"Sir, I have to admit that we're all surprised to see an Earth ship in
the Uncharted Territories.  What's going on?"

"Not on an open channel, Crichton," said McGregor.  "Request permission
to come aboard."

After a few moments, Crichton replied.  "Permission granted, sir.
We'll be expecting you."

"Good.  Indy out."  McGregor deactivated the communications channel,
and spoke to Grant.

"XO, you have the bridge.  Hancock, you're with me."

"Aye, sir," they both replied.


Crichton and Aeryn made their way to Moya's landing bay with Jack in
tow.  In route, they went to their quarters and quickly changed into
their Earth Force uniforms, which had been in storage for 4 and 1/2
years.  Aeryn insisted that the two of them meet the arriving Earth
Force Captain dressed in proper uniform, an insistence stemming from a
lifetime of military training in protocol.

Now in uniform, the couple brought their son with them to the landing
bay.  When they got to the bay, John and Aeryn saw that most of Moya's
crew was already there and that the shuttle from the Earth ship was

After a few moments, the crew saw two Earth Force officers exit the
shuttle.  The tall one with brown hair and a firm build was wearing the
rank insignia of an Earth Force Captain, while the other was identified
by rank insignia as a Lieutenant.

The visitors approached Moya's crew.  Crichton and Aeryn, who were out
in front, came to attention and saluted Captain McGregor.  The Captain
returned the salute, and shook hands with Crichton.

"Captain McGregor, EAS Indefatigable."

"John Crichton.  Its good to meet you, sir.  May I present my wife,
LtJG. Aeryn-Sun Crichton."

McGregor shook hands with Aeryn.  "Sir," she said.

"Lieutenant.  May I present one of my officers, Lt. James Hancock."

"Sir," said Hancock to Crichton.  "Lieutenant," he said to Aeryn.

"Lieutenant," they both replied.  That was when McGregor noticed the
little boy with dark hair hanging on Aeryn's pants leg.  Not exactly
the scene of military discipline he was sure LtJG. Crichton was trying
to convey.  The Captain smiled as he looked at the cute youngster.

"Well," said the Captain as he bent down to face the boy.  "Who might
this be?"

"Captain," said Aeryn.  "This is our son, John Crichton, III.  Jack,
this is Captain McGregor.  Say hello," she said to her son.

"Hello, Captain," said the boy.

"Hello to you too, Jack," said McGregor, as he scruffled the boy's
hair.  Jack smiled at the Captain, and Aeryn mirrored her son's smile
as she looked with pride as Jack greeted Captain McGregor.

After that, Crichton and Aeryn introduced McGregor and Hancock to the
other members of Moya's crew.  When the introductions were over with,
the group went to the mess hall to sit down and discuss why the
Indefatigable was in the Uncharted Territories.

As Moya's crew sat down, McGregor began at the beginning.  "Earth Gov
has wanted to send an expedition to the Uncharted Territories ever
since you all left Earth space 4 years ago.  To that end, they began to
build the Indefatigable, a Warlock class destroyer with hetch drive and
defense screen add-ons to make the trip possible and to make the Indy,
as we call her, able to defend herself better."

"I though I saw a hetch drive on that ship," said Aeryn.  "I must say,
humans adapt technology quickly.  I thought it would have taken you
much longer."

"Yes, we were able to get the designs down thanks to the specs you left
us," said McGregor.  "The expedition kept getting put on hold.  Then,
the war started."

"War," said Crichton.  "What do you mean?  What war?"

Moya's crew listened intently as McGregor continued. "A race called the
Drakh, who had been allies of the Shadows, launched an attack on Earth
with a fleet and a Shadow planet killer a year and a half ago.
Luckily, we got advanced warning about it and mobilized our fleet to
defend Earth against the sneak attack.  We didn't even know if we could
destroy that planet killer.  It was unlike anything we had ever fought

"How was such a thing finally destroyed?" asked Zhaan.

"Our ships were able to locate its main control nexus.  Our closest
ship to the nexus was the Victory.  She had taken heavy damage and had
lost her main weapons, and the planet killer was about to strike Earth.
Captain Anderson, the ship's commanding officer, ordered the Victory to
ramming speed.  They crashed into the Nexus, destroying it and the
planet killer."

"Those were brave warriors," said D'Argo.  "They died with great

"Did you know Captain Anderson, Captain?" asked Crichton.

"I knew of him.  He had a wife and daughter back on Earth.  I'm sure he
did what he did to protect them."

For reasons she didn't fully understand at that moment, Aeryn took Jack
into her arms and kissed his head.  Tears were streaming from her eyes
at the thought of Captain Anderson's sacrifice.  She could empathize,
thinking about what she would have done if it had been her child.

"So we won the battle," said Crichton.

"Not exactly.  We destroyed the planet killer and much of the attacking
Drakh fleet, but at a high price.  Seven thousand of our people were
lost in the battle, and over 200 of our ships were destroyed.  It was
the biggest engagement since the Battle of the Line.  And that was not
the highest price we paid."

"What do you mean?" asked Crichton.

"We drove the Drakh into retreat.  On their way out, they released a
biogenetic plague into Earth's atmosphere.  Unless we find a cure in 3
and 1/2 more years, every man, woman, and child on Earth will die."

"Why would they do such a monstrous thing?" asked Zhaan of no one in

"The ultimate act of spite," said Rygel.

"These Drakh are cowards," said D'Argo.  "They were defeated in battle,
and they choose to take their revenge by murdering a whole planet's
population."  The Luxan did not hide his anger at the cowardice shown
by the Drakh, especially in the face of the bravery shown by the humans
as described by Captain McGregor.

Crichton sat in stunned silence.  He was in a state of shock.  It was
hard enough getting used to the fact that he was over 200 years in the
future from the time he left home.  Now, he was trying to absorb the
knowledge that the only Earth left for him was now in danger of being

"We aren't dead yet," said McGregor.  "Earth is now fighting this war
on two fronts.  On one front, Earth Force is fighting the Drakh with
the eventual goal of defeating them and hopefully finding a cure from
them.  Meanwhile, on the other front, our people are pursuing any means
possible to finding a cure.  That's part of the reason why we are out
here.  I and my crew were sent by Earth Gov to the Sebacean Royal
Colonies to open diplomatic relations with them and to secure their
help in finding a cure for the plague."

"They might be able to," said Zhaan.  "Their medical technology is
highly advanced."

"We've been there about a month," said McGregor, "and we've been able
to successfully open relations with the Empress and her government.
However, about two days ago, the Scarrens invaded the Sebacean Royal

"Is that way you destroyed that ship?" asked Aeryn.

"Yes.  A Scarren assault force took the Sebaceans by surprise.  They
were in position to take the outer colony of Lestral.  The Empress
asked for our aid.  In exchanged, she promised us the help of her
government in finding a cure for the Drakh plague.  Our ship and a
Sebacean task force engaged and destroyed the Scarren force, all except
one ship which escaped."

"The ship you pursued and destroyed," said D'Argo.

"Yes," said McGregor.  "We think that the Scarrens may have a larger
fleet waiting somewhere to strike."

"So," said Crichton.  "Earth's fighting one war at home.  They send you
to the Uncharted Territories and you end up in a war out here, too."

"That's about the size of it," said McGregor.  "In the meantime, I need
your help, Commander.  You too, Lt. Crichton.  I am hereby reinstating
your commissions to active duty status.  Welcome back to Earth Force."


A few hours later, Crichton, Aeryn, and McGregor were viewing a video
playback of the Drakh attack on Earth.  Crichton had asked McGregor to
see the vid, to see first hand what had happened.

Crichton's fist balled up with anger as he watched the Drakh ships
release the plague into Earth's atmosphere.  Then, the vid ended, and
the three of them were left standing in Moya's mess hall.

The rest of Moya's crew had left them some time ago.  Lt. Hancock was
being showed around Moya, while McGregor, Crichton, and Aeryn discussed
their next course of action.

"As soon as we leave," said Crichton, "Moya will get away from the
Sebacean Royal Colonies to safety.  Jack will remain here with D'Argo,
Zhaan, and the others, until we send them a signal letting them know
its safe."

"I don't like leaving him," said Aeryn. 

"I don't like it either, Aeryn.  But we can't take Jack with us, not
with a the possibility of facing a Scarren invasion.  He'll be much
safer here on Moya."

"I'm sorry to get you both into this," said McGregor.  "But I need you
both as advisors.  I'm operating in an unfamiliar area of space.  You
two know the Uncharted Territories, and you know Earth Force ships and
systems.  It's the perfect mix of knowledge that I need.  I suppose one
of you could stay with your son..."

"No," said Aeryn.  "As much as I hate leaving Jack, I won't be apart
from John.  We're a team.  Jack will be safe, I know that.  Its

"I know how it feels to be away from people you love," said McGregor.
"My whole crew has been away from Earth space for six months.  I
haven't seen my parents since the Drakh hit Earth.  They're stuck on
Earth because of the plague.  So believe me, I do empathize with your
problem.  I've only been away from the Royal Planet for two days and I
already miss a someone there, too."

"Whoa," said Crichton.  "What are you talking about?"

"Oh, I didn't realized that..." said McGregor.  "I mean, I...I met
someone while I've been on the Royal Planet."

"A woman," said Crichton with a smile.

"Yes.  I shouldn't be talking about this, its not really appropriate."

"Are you serious about this woman?" asked Aeryn.

"Well, I wasn't sure for so long.  But now, yes...I love her.  Now that
I've been away from her for two days, I don't see how I'm going to
leave her when I go back to Earth.  The only roadblock is not knowing
how Jenavia feels."

Crichton's jaw was about to fall open after hearing Jenavia' s name
mentioned.  He looked at Aeryn, who returned his look with a knowing
glance.  John had told her about his encounter with the Peacekeeper
disruptor long ago.  She wasn't pleased about his liaison with her.
Just more bad memories from their last visit to the Royal Colonies.

McGregor saw the looks on Crichton's and Aeryn's faces.  "Do you two
know Jenavia Chatto?" asked McGregor.

"Um, yeah," said Crichton hesitantly.  "I, um, met her...when we were
on the Royal Planet before."

"Oh, well then you know what a beautiful woman she is."

"That's not all she is," said Aeryn.

McGregor didn't like Aeryn's tone of voice.  "Do you have a problem I
should know about, Lieutenant?"

Crichton defended his wife.  "Captain, there's...there's something you
may not know about Jenavia."

Robert did not like the sound of Crichton's words or tone.  There was
something important they knew, something they were not eager to tell
him.  But it sounded important, so he pressed them.

"What is it?  What about Jenavia do I not know?" asked McGregor.

"Captain," said Crichton.  "I don't know how to tell you, but...Jenavia
Chatto is a...Peacekeeper agent."

McGregor stood there in complete shock.  He must not have heard
Crichton right.  "What...what did you say, Crichton?" asked McGregor.

"She's a Peacekeeper agent, Captain," said Crichton.

"Jenavia Chatto," said Aeryn, "is what's called a Disruptor, a member
of the Peacekeeper Special Directorate."

"Some kind of deep cover spy," said McGregor, as he sat down on the
nearest chair.  He had to sit before he collapsed to the ground.
Robert felt like he had just been smacked with a load of bricks.

"Yeah," said Crichton.  "She was sent to the Royal Court to marry
Prince Clavor if he assumed the throne.  If he had, her job was to kill
him to prevent him from letting the Scarrens gain a foothold in the
Sebacean Royal Colonies."

Aeryn jumped in.  "She must have been ordered to remain there as a
plant in the Royal Court after Clavor was killed."

McGregor put his hands on his head.  He was on the verge of tears, but
his discipline kept him from crying.  "She must have...she must be
sleeping with me for information," said McGregor.

"We don't know that," said Crichton.  "She could...."

"Bull shit, Crichton," said McGregor with anger.  "Don't hand me some
ration of bull about how she may really have feelings for me."

"Look, Captain," said Crichton.  "I know Jenavia Chatto.  She is not a
simple woman to fathom.  Believe me.  When I was with her, she and I
were...intimate, one time.  I still to this day don't know what her
motives were for it.  Who knows what her real intentions are for being
with you?"

"John," said Aeryn.  "Don't be ridiculous.  Its obvious to me what her
intentions are."

"And to me," said McGregor.  "Look, Crichton, I appreciate the effort
to console my feelings, but I wasn't born yesterday.  If she had any
real feelings for me, she would have told me the truth."

Crichton did not know how to respond to that.  McGregor didn't give him
much of a chance to.  He activated his link.  "Lt. Hancock."

"I'm here, sir."

"Get to the shuttle.  We're leaving in 20 minutes.  McGregor out."  He
deactivated his link and turned to Crichton and Aeryn.  "You'd better
get ready to go.  I'll wait for you at the shuttle."

With that, Captain McGregor walked out of the room towards the landing
bay.  If one had been able to see his face close up, they would have
seen one tear escaping his left eye and running down his face.
Meanwhile, Crichton and Aeryn went to say a tearful goodbye to Jack and
the others.


Jenavia Chatto looked at herself in the mirror.  She fixed her hair and
her dress to make sure she looked presentable.  Personally, Jenavia had
never attached much importance to how she looked, except when it meant
something to the mission.  However, at the thought of seeing Robert
McGregor again, her personal appearance all of a sudden became very
important to her.

She knew his shuttle had landed, and that he would be coming through
the main palace corridor to meet with the Empress and her military
staff.  Jenavia knew he wouldn't have time for her now, but she still
wanted to see him, to greet him and welcome him back.  She wanted to
feel his arms around her for one brief moment before he had to proceed
to the Empress' office.

Jenavia left her quarters and walked through the corridors of the
palace.  She walked briskly, her loose hair flowing with the breeze of
her fast movement through the corridors.  Jenavia used to wear her hair
up, but she knew that Robert preferred her hair loose, so that's how
she wore it.

She rounded a corner and saw a group of people at the far end of a
corridor.  Some where wearing the white garb common to members of the
Royal Court.  Several of them were wearing the uniforms of the Sebacean
Royal Colony Defense Force.  Four of them were wearing Earth Force

Jenavia immediately recognized Robert McGregor and Lt. Commander Grant.
The other two officers she did not recognize at first.  One of the two,
the woman, was strangely enough wearing a Peacekeeper pulse pistol on
her hip.  After a few moments of scrutiny, their faces became clear to
her, and she felt like the whole world had collapsed from under her
feet.  Jenavia recognized the other two Earth Force officers as John
Crichton and Aeryn Sun.

She stood there as the group approached.  McGregor spotted Jenavia and
gave her a cold stare.  Jenavia tried to smile, but she could only
manage a blank expression as Robert and the others came up to her.

Crichton spoke to her first.  "Well, Jena.  Its good to see you.  You
remember Aeryn."

"Yes, of course," said Jenavia.  "Good to see you again, Aeryn Sun."

"Aeryn Sun-Crichton," she corrected.  "I am now John's wife," she said
with a smile and a sense of victory over John's former "acquaintance".

"Jena," said McGregor.  "Meet me in my quarters in an hour...arn," he
said coldly.  "I want to talk to you."

With that, the group continued down the corridor.  Jenavia was left
standing alone, watching the man she had come to care for so much leave
her there without so much as a by your leave.


Robert McGregor had finished his briefing with the Empress, outlining
the results of the Indefatigable's pursuit of the Scarren warship.
Empress Novia was pleased with the results of the battle, but not very
pleased to see John Crichton again in her palace.  It was a reminder of
things she would rather forget.

Now, Robert was approaching the door to his quarters in the palace.  He
knew that a woman was waiting on the other side of those doors, a woman
he thought he knew once.  McGregor almost wished that Jenavia might not
be there, but he knew she would be.  Robert did know that Jenavia
Chatto was not the type to run and hide.

McGregor opened the door and stepped into his quarters.  He found
Jenavia standing in the room waiting for him.  Robert thought about the
memories that this moment recounted of two other times when he found
Jenavia waiting for him in his quarters.  The first was on the first
night McGregor had arrived on the Royal Planet, the second was the day
he left to fight the Scarrens.  Now, Jenavia Chatto was standing at the
window looking out on the view of the palace gardens outside.  She had
a blank expression on her face as Robert quietly closed the door.

"You know," she said softly.

"Yes, I know," he replied.  "Crichton and Aeryn told me all about you,
Peacekeeper."  He began to pace back and forth around the room like a
caged animal.  Robert was trying to find the words to express the
anger, the hurt he felt about Jenavia's lies.

"Aren't you going to say something?" asked Jenavia.

"What the hell am I supposed to say!" he yelled in reply.  "You want me
to say how angry I am.  Fine, I am PISSED OFF, Jena!  You happy!  You
want me to say how hurt I am, well I AM HURT, dammit!  Does that
fucking satisfy you!"

She turned to look at him.  His face was red with anger and contempt
for her.  Jenavia had never seen him angry before, and certainly not
angry with her.  Robert McGregor had always looked at her with
gentleness, affection,  Now, he looked at her with eyes
full of hurt and hatred.

"Robert, I'm sorry, so sorry.  I thought about telling you so many

"Yeah, sure.   Now how would that have let you accomplish your


"Yes, dammit, your mission!  Your mission to fuck me into trusting you
so that I would give the Peacekeepers all my secrets!  Damn, I am such
a fool.  I should have realized that first night when you waited for me
here half naked, the way you got me into bed with you so fast and
furious that I didn't even have time to think.  But then there was the
time we spent together after that first night, the time where I fell in
love with you.  I thought, in my stupidity, that you may have felt
something for me, too!  That you were just scared.  And all the time,
you were just getting my confidence, using my feelings for you!"

"Yes, your right," said Jenavia with a broken voice.  "At first, my intent was to use sex to get information from you. I am a
disruptor, that's who I am, who I was.  But even in the beginning, I
felt something for you I had never felt for anyone.  I was attracted to
you, but it went beyond that.  I didn't understand what my feelings
were, and even as these feelings grew as time went on, I still didn't
understand.  All I know is that my original purpose for becoming
involved with you disappeared quickly.  I was with you because I wanted
to be, because I care for you SO MUCH!"

"Oh, please!  Your trying to tell me that you love me now, is that it!?
Your trying to get me back into your web!"  He walked right up to and
got face to face with her.  "You really expect me to believe a lying,
dirty WHORE  like you!"

A tear began to fall down her cheek as she absorbed the impact of his
insults.  She replied.  "I don't know, I don't know exactly what I
feel.  All I do know is that I care for you, and that I would not hurt
you for anything in the universe.  I'm sorry that I have caused you so
much pain.  Please," she said as she put her hands on her arms.

Robert knocked her arms away from him.  "Get out!  Get out of my room,
GET OUT OF MY LIFE!"  He reached into his pockets and pulled out some
local currency he had on him.  "Here," he said as he threw it at her.
"Take that for services rendered!  Of course, I don't know if that's
enough for a pro like you," he said with a low voice full of contempt.

Jenavia now felt hurt and angry, and she lashed out.  She slapped
Robert in the face, and ran past him out the door with tears flowing
down her face.  As he heard the door slam behind him, Robert closed his
eyes and regretted what he had done.  He had been so full of anger and
hurt that he felt he had to lash out at Jena for what she had done.
But now, the feelings of love he had for her, he still carried for her
despite the revelations about her true identity, came back to the
surface from where he had suppressed them.

Robert stared out the window, tears forming in his eyes not just for
himself, but also for Jenavia.  He still did not trust her, but he
wished he hadn't have hurt her.  Confused and exhausted, Robert
collapsed on the bed and searched for a dubious sleep.


Chapter 7:  A Bastard and a Hero


Captain McGregor was sitting in the briefing room in the Sebacean Royal
Colony Defense Force Headquarters with General Mestra, Admiral Cherok,
Lt. Commander Grant, Commander Crichton, and LtJG. Aeryn Sun-Crichton. 
They were discussing what the probable next move of the Scarren fleet
that is suspected to be lurking somewhere beyond the border will be.

However, McGregor was having a hard time keeping himself from being
distracted.  He was thinking about Jenavia.  No matter how hard he
tried, Robert could not put the beautiful Sebacean woman far from his
mind.  He shook away these thoughts, and returned his concentration
back to the briefing.

"We can reasonably be assured that the Scarren fleet is somewhere in
this area," indicated Admiral Cherok on a holographic image of a star
chart.  "That is the direction that the fleeing Scarren warship was
heading in when they were destroyed by the Indefatigable."

"Yes, but that may not help us much," said Aeryn.  "That is a large
area of space, and we still do not know their exact location."

"And we don't know their strength and numbers," said McGregor. 

"Without those two pieces of information," said Crichton, "there aint
no way we are gonna know where they are going to hit."

"Yes, your right," said Mestra.  "But what do we do about it."

"We need to send a ship on reconnaissance to the area," said Crichton.

"That could be a problem," said McGregor.  "From what I can see, we
don't have a ship that has the range to go looking for the Scarrens
there and avoid being detected or tipping our hand to them.  At least
one that has the range to get there and back."

"We could send a shuttle," said Grant.  "It would be small enough to
get in there and more than likely avoid being noticed."

"An Earth Force shuttle doesn't have the range," said Aeryn.

"Well," replied Grant, "we could send it on a one way trip.  It could
get there, get the information, get part way back.  We can rescue the
Pilot later."

"Its too risky," said McGregor.

"I'm afraid I have to agree," said Mestra.  "Its late.  Why don't we
all get some rest and we can re-approach the matter with a fresh eye in
the morning?"

With that, the briefing broke up.  McGregor left the room quietly, with
Grant close on his heels.  Grant caught up to his friend and spoke to

"You were thinking about her, weren't you?" asked Grant.

"I don't know what you're talking about," said McGregor.

"At one point in the briefing, your thoughts drifted.  I could tell.
You were thinking about Jenavia."

"What would be the point of thinking about her?" asked McGregor.
"She's a Peacekeeper agent.  There is nothing there for me."

"Oh, yeah," said Grant.  "Then why haven't you reported the fact she is
an agent to the Sebacean authorities?  Answer me that."

"I...I don't know."

"Its because you still love her, Robert.  In all the time I've known
you, I have never seen you look at a woman like you look at her."

McGregor froze in his tracks, followed quickly by Grant.  Tom got in
front of Robert.  "Admit it, Robert.  You still love her."

"Yes, dammit!  I love her!  But what the hell good does that do me?
She doesn't feel the same for me."

"How do you know?"

"She's a spy, Tom.  She was screwing me for information."

"Robert, did she ever ask you any questions about our ship, weapons,
Earth Force, our mission here?  Anything compromising?"


"She has been with you since day one when you got here.  Sure, her
intent in the beginning was definitely to get information from you.
But she didn't follow through.  You're a smart guy, Robert.  Care to
hazard a guess as to why?"

Robert was left speechless.  He didn't respond to his friends line of
reasoning.  Grant put his hand on McGregor's shoulder.  

"Robert, I could be right or I could be wrong, but if I were you, my
friend, I would sure as hell find out for sure how she felt."  After a
moment, he continued.  "Good night, Robert."

With that, Grant left McGregor standing in the hallway pondering what
to do about Jenavia Chatto.


The next day, Crichton was taking a walk through the garden.  Aeryn was
aboard the Indefatigable getting a refresher course in Starfury flight
protocols in preparation for the coming battle.  He remained on planet
because he wanted to talk to someone.  John saw just the person he was
looking for.

Jenavia Chatto was sitting on a bench, looking at the garden pond.  It
was obvious to John Crichton that the beautiful woman he had once been
intimately acquainted with had been crying.  Her face was red and
puffy, and her eyes were filled with loss.  Crichton wanted to talk
with her to try and get a feel for her true feelings, if any, for
Robert McGregor.  Aeryn and McGregor might have been right about Jena
just being with the Captain for intelligence gathering purposes.  Or,
she could really be in love with McGregor, and he and Aeryn might have
just screwed everything up for no good reason.

Crichton approached her quietly.  Jenavia turned to look at him, but
quickly turned away.  "What do you want of me?" asked Jenavia.

"You blame me for what has happened."

"No.  I blame me.  I should have been honest with him.  Its just..."

"Its just that you have never been honest with anyone before," said
Crichton.  "You're a disruptor.  Dishonesty, deception, goes with the
territory.  But it doesn't go too well with relationships, Jena."

"I know," she said.

Crichton asked her the burning question that had been on his mind.  "Do
you love Robert McGregor, Jena?"

She looked him straight in the eye and replied to his question.  "Yes. 
I love him."  She hesitated for a moment before continuing.  "I began
to develop feelings for him early on, feelings I had never had for
anyone before.  Then, recently, our relationship progressed into an
area I was totally unfamiliar with.  He told me he loves me.  I didn't
know what I felt.  I only knew that I liked hearing him say those words
to me, and that I wanted to be with him.  It took loosing him for me to
figure it all out.  To figure out that I love him."

John looked at her closely as she spoke, trying to get a read on her
emotions and expressions.  He came to a firm conclusion.  "I believe
you, Jena.  You've changed since I knew you 6 cycles ago."

She smiled.  "High Command would say I've gone native.  I guess I've
been living away from the Peacekeepers for too long.  I lost
my...restraint."  Jenavia hesitated for a moment before continuing.
"I'm glad you believe me, John.  I only wish Robert did."

"Tell him how you feel, Jena.  Not just with words, but actions.  Show
him how much you care."

Jenavia returned her gaze back to the pond.  Crichton turned and walked
away, leaving Jena to think about his words of advice to her.


Kastra Brakien ran through the corridors of the palace that night,
giggling as she went.  Not far behind her was Thomas Grant, who was
doing his best to keep up with the young woman who had been much on his
mind lately.  He had developed strong feelings for this young woman
lately, and he decided that he was going to admit his love for her
tonight.  Tom Grant was determined to make love to Kastra and
consummate their budding relationship.

Kastra stopped in front of the door to her quarters and turned to look
back at the man who had been playfully chasing her.  He laughed as he
walked up to her, looking at her beautiful smile and well formed

Tom put his arms around Kastra Brakien and moved to kiss her.  A look
of concern came over her face, and she pushed him away before he could
kiss her.  "Tom, please don't," she said.

Tom was confused.  "Kastra, honey, don't you want me to kiss you?
You've never objected before.  I was hoping we could do more than just
kiss."  He said the last part as her caressed her right arm.

"Tom, I...I can't."

"Why?  What's wrong?  Is it something I said?"

"Tom, you are a very nice man, and I like you.  But...there is this
young man.  His name is Tybon.  I've been seeing him, and he has asked
me to marry him.  I've accepted."

Tom was speechless for several moments before replying.  "I thought...I

"You're a fun man to be around, Tom, but I really can't be with you
seriously.  Your not even Sebacean.  Sorry if you got the wrong

"So us being together for the past month, monen, whatever...its all
been a lie?"

"I would prefer to call it a distraction.  Tybon has been away, and I
was lonely.  You were a convenient...distraction.  Now, I have to get
inside.  Goodbye, Tom."

Kastra went into her quarters and closed the door behind her.  Tom was
left out in the hallway hurt and confused by what had just happened.
He slowly walked away from Kastra's door, wondering how he could have
been so foolish as to feel something for her.

He walked aimlessly through the palace corridors, thinking about why he
could never seem to be happy.  It was Tanya all over again.  Tom had
totally misread another woman, and he had gotten his heart trampled on
once again.

After wandering the palace for a while, he came upon the recreation
center of the palace.  This was basically the equivalent of a bar.  In
it, he saw several Sebacean soldiers and court officials sipping drinks
and conversing.

Tom slowly walked up to the beverage server at the bar.  The young man
spoke to him.

"Good evening, sir.  What would like you to drink this evening?"

Grant thought it over for a moment before answering.  His mind told him
to stop, to turn around and walk out.  Unfortunately, he was not
listening to his head tonight.

"What do you have that's alcoholic in nature?" asked Grant.

"We have several beverages.  Reslak is a common favorite."

"Fine, give me some of that," said Grant.

The server poured the drink and handed it to Grant.  The human
hesitated for a moment, eyeing the drink.  Finally, he gave in to his
compulsion.  "Down the hatch," he said.

Tom drank the whole glass in one quick gulp.  The cool, smooth liquid
felt good going down his throat.  He had been off alcohol for a number
of years now, and he had forgotten how good that first drink felt.

"More, and keep it coming," said Grant as he put a pile of currency on
the bar.

Grant sat there for more than an hour, drinking glass after glass of
Reslak.  All the while, he thought about Kastra, and compared her to
Tanya.  He thought about how both women had hurt him, both women had
used him.  He kept right on drinking until he was drunk out of his

After a while, he drank up all the currency he had on him.  The server
refused to serve him more drinks if he could not pay for them.  Grant
walked out of the bar drunk and mad out of his mind.

He stalked through the corridors in a silent rage as he headed for his
intended destination.  Grant got to Kastra's door and didn't bother
knocking.  He threw open the door and found her in the midst of

"How dare you?!" she yelled.  "Get out! NOW!"

Grant slammed the door behind him and locked it, mad with rage and
drink.  "Keep away from me!" she said.

Tom smacked her across the face, knocking her onto her bed.  She tried
to scream, but he put his hand over her mouth.  He climbed on top of
her.  She fought back, scratching at his face and trying to force him
off of her.  Each time she fought back, he would strike her across the
face once again.

He finally spoke with a low tone of quiet madness.  "I'll teach you
what it means to use me!"


Jenavia Chatto sat in her quarters the next morning working up the
courage to go through with what she had planned.  She was a woman who
had made a decision, a decision made with her heart.  Now, she just had
to get her mind to act with her heart.

After sitting and looking at the Peacekeeper communications device she
kept hidden in her room for nearly an hour, she finally decided to act.
Jenavia activated the unit to send a encrypted message to her

"Disruptor 194 reporting to Directorate." She hesitated once more, but
continued with her planned course of action.  "I am formally resigning
from the Directorate and resigning my Peacekeeper commission."


Grant lay on his bed in his quarters on the Indefatigable, brooding
over what had happened last night.  After he had raped Kastra, he
called for a shuttle to take him back up the Indy.  When he got to his
quarters last night, he collapsed on his bed and cried himself to a
restless sleep.

Now, he laid there thinking about what he had done.  He was drowning in
a pool of guilt for so many things, the greatest of which was
assaulting that young woman last night.  He didn't know if anyone knew
about it yet, but he was sure that they would know soon enough.

Tom also thought about how he had failed Robert, failed every officer
and crewman aboard the Indy.  He thought about how he had failed Earth
Force, this mission, and how he had failed himself.  Grant had worked
so hard for so long to keep his personal demons in check, his alcohol
problem and his violence.  Last night, he let out his pent up demons
and they struck with a vengeance.

All Thomas Grant could think about was some way to make right what he
had done.  He slowly considered what to do, and figured that he didn't
have much to loose.

Grant put on his uniform and left his quarters, heading for the hanger
deck.  When he got there, the deck officer on duty came to attention
and spoke to him.  "Good morning, sir," the young man said.

"Good morning, Lieutenant," replied Grant.  He looked around the hanger
and saw what he was looking for.  "Is that long range shuttle fully

"Yes, sir.  As per regulations."

"Good.  Sign it out to me, immediately."

"I'll have to call the bridge, sir."

Grant walked up to the young officer.  "Lieutenant, I am the ship's
Executive Officer, and I just gave you an order.  Now, you will obey
that order, or I will make sure you are addressed as Ensign from now
on.  Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, sir.  Very clear, sir."  He turned to two crewmen.  "Get shuttle
4 ready for launch."  The crewmen raced to the shuttle to get it
prepped.  When the ship was ready, Grant walked up to the shuttle and
began to climb inside it.

The young deck officer shouted to Grant.  "Sir, how should I log this

Grant shouted back.  "Joy ride!"  With that, Grant boarded the shuttle.
He sat in the pilot's chair and brought the engines to life.  He took
off in the shuttle and headed off into the void of space.


"What do you mean Commander Grant just took off?" asked McGregor over
the link.  Crichton and Aeryn stood nearby as McGregor answered the
call on his hand link from Lt. Hancock on the Indefatigable.

"He took off in a shuttle about 10 minutes ago, without permission from
the bridge."

"Did you call him?"

"He responded, told me to not send anyone after him and not to tell
anyone.  Called it a classified mission.  Gave me a direct order.  I am
violating those orders by telling you, sir, but it just didn't feel

"You did the right thing.  Try raising him on communications, I'll be
up there as soon as I can."

McGregor deactivated his link.  "What's going on?" asked Aeryn.

"I don't know," replied McGregor.  At that moment, Counselor Barusa
walked up to him with a infuriated look on his face.  McGregor did not
like the looks of this.

"Captain," he said.  "The Empress would like to see you in her office. 

McGregor was not used to being ordered around like this, but Barusa
seemed to be upset about something.  That probably meant the Empress
was upset, and that was not a good sign.  The Captain quietly followed
Barusa to Empress Novia's office.

When they entered the room, Captain McGregor was greeted by an Empress
who was filled with fury and outrage.  "Captain McGregor!" she said.
"Where is Commander Grant?"

McGregor was stunned by her fury for a moment, but answered as fast as
he could.  "Majesty, I...he took a shuttle from the Indefatigable this
morning.  I was trying to locate him when you sent for me, but...but

"Captain, your man raped a young woman last night!" yelled the Empress.
For the second time in only a few days, Robert McGregor again felt like
he had been hit with a ton of bricks.

"Ra...raped...a woman.  No, Majesty, there must be some mistake."

"There is no mistake!" broke in Barusa.  "The young woman, Kastra
Brakien, identified Grant as her assailant.  She was found by her
mother this morning in her quarters.  She had been beaten savagely, and
her clothes had been torn!  Kastra sai she was rape and named Grant."

"I...I don't know what to say," said McGregor.

The Empress walked up to the Captain with determined rage.  "That is
not good enough!  NOT GOOD ENOUGH AT ALL!  Kastra Brakien is the
daughter of one of the leading members of the court, a distant cousin
of my daughter!  This assault by one of your people has brought serious
doubt upon whether or not we should continue relations with your
people.  If it were not for the Scarren threat....I demand that you
find Grant and turn him over to our authorities for trial!  Anything
less will not be acceptable!"

"Majesty," said McGregor, " I...I promise, we will find Grant, and if
he is guilty of this crime...." He paused, remembering his friendship
with Grant, but quickly putting it aside.  "He will be tried and
punished for this horrible crime.  I will not tolerate such a
dishonorable act by one of my officers!  Believe me when I say I didn't

"I don't care what you knew at this point, Captain!" said the Empress. 
"I just want that man found!"

McGregor was allowed to leave Empress Novia's office a few moments
later.  He called the Indy and had Hancock send a shuttle down for him,
then had Crichton and Aeryn meet him at the landing pad.  On the way to
the ship, McGregor filled Crichton and Aeryn in on what had happened.

When McGregor walked onto the bridge, followed by Crichton and Aeryn,
he walked up to Lt. Hancock.  "Report," he said.

"Sir, we have been unable to raise Commander Grant's shuttle."  He
walked over to a view screen showing star charts of the region of space
they were in.  "He's beyond scanning range, but last known course has
him heading in this direction."

"That's towards the area where we suspect the Scarren fleet is,"
commented Aeryn.

It all of a sudden hit McGregor.  He knew what his friend was doing.
"Communications, open a channel on all Earth Force frequencies."

After a few moments, the communications officer reported that a channel
was open.  "Commander Grant, this is Captain McGregor.  Come in."  No
answer.  "Tom, this is Robert.  Answer me, dammit.  I know what you're
doing.  We can talk, work this out.  Come on, Grant.  Answer me."
Still no response.

McGregor turned to Lt. Hancock.  "Who was the duty officer in the
hangar deck?"

"I was, sir," said the young officer in question.  Hancock had been
questioning him on the bridge when McGregor came in.

The Captain approached the nervous Lieutenant.  "Why in God's name did
you sign out a shuttle to someone without clearing it through ship's

The Lieutenant hesitated for a moment.  "Sir, Lt. Commander Grant is
the ship's Executive Officer.  He IS ship's operations."

McGregor turned away from the young man and activated the
communications channel once again.


Lt. Commander Grant sat in the pilot's seat of the shuttle as it flew
through open space.  He had been in flight for hours now, and he was
definitely past the point of no return.  Not that he even considered

He heard the communications unit in the cockpit come to life again.
"Grant, this is McGregor.  Damn you, answer me!"  The Indy had been
trying for hours to reach him, Captain McGregor in particular.  Grant
decided it was probably safe to respond now.

"Shuttle 4 to Indy, come in."

"Tom, is that you.  This is McGregor.  Come back, Tom.  Get back here,
my friend.  We can work this out."

"I...I don't know how you can call me a friend after what I did.  I
lost it, Robert.  I let the demons out."

"I know.  Tom, you are still my friend, and you always will be.  You're
going to have to answer for what you did.  Running won't help you."

"I'm not running.  I'm gonna make it right, or try to. I can't come
back, even if I wanted to.  I'm already past point of no return.   Now
that I'm here, I'm going to find that Scarren fleet.  I'm coming into a
small asteroid field, now.  Picking up some strong energy emissions.
Wait, one."  

Grant saw movement out of the corner of his eye.  The image of several
Scarren fighters came into view.  "I've spotted bogies, ducking into
the asteroids."

He expertly maneuvered the shuttle to hide in the asteroids from the
Scarren fighters.  They flew by his hiding place apparently not having
seen him.

"Tom, stay there.  Don't risk it."

"Thanks for the concern, Robert, but I've got to check out this
asteroid field.  Those bogies were Scarren fighters.  Where there's

Grant flew the shuttle out of hiding and back into the maze of
asteroids.  He flew to the other end of the field and came out the
other side.  This was when he found what he was looking for.

"Captain, I've found them.  Stellar coordinates 148 mark 347, bearing
050 degrees.  Their hiding on the other side of the asteroid belt.  I
count at least 40 Scarren battle cruisers.  You getting that?"

"We got it, Tom," said McGregor.  "Now get back into those asteroids.
Get as far back to base as you can.  I'll send a rescue ship."

Just then, several Scarren fighters came swooping out of the field and
fired on the shuttle.  Grant executed evasive maneuvers.  "Captain, I'm
under attack.  Attempting..."

He was cut off when his shuttle began to take hits from the Scarren
fighters.  The Scarrens pounded the shuttle until it exploded.


"Grant, are you there?  Come in," said McGregor over the comm on the
Indefatigable.  "Tom," he said.

McGregor hesitated for a moment, then turned off the comm.  He knew
that the static he was getting indicated that there was no longer
anything there to receive his signal.  Tom Grant was gone.

"Orders, sir," said Hancock.

The Captain hesitated for a moment and did not answer him.  He was
fighting to control his emotions.

"Captain McGregor," said Hancock in another attempt to elicit a

"List Grant's flight as an approved mission," said McGregor.

"Sir," said Hancock.  "What the XO...what Commander Grant did deserves
a commendation in his record.  Hell, sir, it might even rate a Medal of

McGregor stood still for a moment.  Then, he very coldly replied to the
junior officer's recommendation.  "No commendation," said McGregor.
"You have the bridge, Lieutenant."

"Aye, sir" replied Hancock.

The Captain began to step off the bridge when Crichton spoke to him.
"Is there anything we can do?"

"No, Commander.  Thank you."  McGregor left the bridge and went to his
quarters.  He entered the room and closed the door behind him.  After
he did, he sank to the floor and began to openly weep for his lost

Chapter 8:  The Things We Do For Love


McGregor packed up the last box that contained the possessions of his
friend, Thomas Grant.  It had been 3 days since his friend had died,
died trying to make up for a mistake.

It had taken some doing, but Captain McGregor had been able to patch
things up with the Empress.  This was due in no small part to the
Empress' firm belief in McGregor's sense of honor and decency.
McGregor also visited Kastra Brakien, who was recovering slowly from
her physical injuries.  Recovering from the mental anguish that had
been inflicted on her by the rape would take much longer.  Robert did
not know what to say to the young woman, only that he was profoundly
sorry that one of his officers had done such a thing.

When news of the rape spread, there were a few on the Royal Planet who
wanted to see the Humans gone.  Luckily, the relationship cemented
between the Humans and Sebaceans over the previous month had quieted
much of the outcries for breaking off relations.  It also helped that
the crew of the Indefatigable had fought bravely and risked their lives
and ship to defend Lestral from the Scarrens, and had pledge to defend
all of the Royal Colonies against the coming Scarren invasion.

Meanwhile, McGregor had the sad duty of overseeing a funeral service
for Grant.  The Empress objected to having a military funeral for Grant
and refused to allow her people to take part, even though Grant's death
had bought them valuable information that might save her people from
the Scarrens.  McGregor insisted on sending Grant off with military
honors because he died as an Earth Force officer in the performance of
his duty. The funeral was held on the Indy, with all of her officers in
attendance, including Crichton and Aeryn.  An empty casket was released
into space, as Captain McGregor recited with tear filled eyes the
traditional Earth Force eulogy.  "From the stars we came, to the stars
we return, from now until the end of time.  We herby commit this body
to the deep."  The officers came to attention and saluted Lt. Commander
Thomas Grant one last time before the service broke up.

That was yesterday.  Now, McGregor took one last look around Grant's
quarters.  He saw a data crystal that he had overlooked sitting on
Grant's clothing cabinet.  McGregor picked up the crystal and decided
to see what was on it.

He inserted it into Grant's computer terminal, and activated the data
retrieval function.  The image of Thomas Grant appeared on the view
screen.  He was in ragged condition, and had obviously recorded the
message sometime during that fateful night that saw his future turned
to dust.

"Whoever has found this recording," said the image of Grant.  "Please,
give this to Captain McGregor.  It's a private message for him."  Grant
paused for a moment before continuing.  "Robert, I'm going to assume
its you seeing this.  I wanted to tell you...since I'm now probably
dead, that I am sorry I let you down.  I promised you I wouldn't, and
you put your trust in me.  I tried.  God, Robert, I tried.  But...I
guess once a drunken bastard....Well, there was another reason for me
leaving you this message.  Robert, you are the best friend I ever had,
and you are the best man I have ever known.  If anyone deserves to be
happy, its you.  This said, I know, as your friend, that you're never
going to be happy until you find out how Jenavia feels about you.
Someone once said that 'if you love, love without reservation.  If you
fight, fight without fear.  This is the way of the warrior.'  You are a
warrior, Robert.  Get in there and fight for what you love.  Confront
that woman and make her tell you how she feels.  Don't wait.  Do it.
Don't waist your I did.  I'm going to go now. I need to
think out what I'm going to do next.  Goodbye, Robert.  See you on the
flip side."

The image of Grant disappeared from the monitor.  McGregor stood there
with tears in his eyes thinking about his friends last words to him.
He decided to follow Grant's advice, to fight for what he wanted.  For
who he wanted.

McGregor activated his link.  "Bridge, this is McGregor."

"Lt. Reynolds here, sir."

"Ready a shuttle to take me to the surface.  I've got something to do."


Jenavia Chatto headed back to her quarters from the dining hall in the
Royal Palace.  She had tried to eat some breakfast, but her stomach
told her it would not be a good idea.  Jena had not been feeling well
and she felt like doing nothing but going to her quarters to throw up.

When she came into her room, she found a man sitting in the room
waiting for her. He was an average sized man with black hair, and
Jenavia knew who he was.  She was not pleased to see him.

"Close the door, Chatto.  We must speak."

Jenavia did as she was told, and quietly closed the door.  "What are
you doing here, Sokule?"

"Is that any way to speak to your superior, Disruptor Chatto?" he asked
with a sneer.  He got up from his chair and looked over Jenavia.  "Hmm,
you look like the same Jenavia Chatto I sent on assignment to the Royal
Planet six cycles ago.  Sound like the same person.  But, the Jenavia I
knew would never have sent the message you did to the Directorate a few
days ago."

"Is that why you're here?" asked Jenavia.

"Among other things.  My other purpose for being here is that High
Command wants me to assess the Scarren threat to the Royal Colonies."

"Are they planning on intervening?" she asked.

"Oh, we will intervene.  When the Scarrens have brought these
rebellious colonies to their knees, and when Novia will beg us to save
them.  Given the choice between us and the Scarrens, she will choose
us.  Then, we can dictate our terms for saving them.  We've known about
the Scarren military buildup for this invasion for cycles, and we've
been waiting for this opportunity.  Of course, we didn't count on the
Earth warship being in the picture.  Which brings us back to you."

He walked closer to her.  Jenavia reacted by backing away slightly.
She knew Sokule to be a dangerous man, and she knew to be wary.  Sokule
began speaking again.

"We were pleased to get your initial communication that you had made
contact with the Human Captain, and that you were using your
'discretion' to gain his trust.  But then, you failed to report on any
valuable information you had gained from him.  I told the Directorate
that you were just moving slowly, reassured them that you were one of
my best disruptors and that you could handle then situation."  He
continued in a more angry tone.  "Then we get a message from you
several days ago saying that you were quitting, leaving the Directorate
and the Peacekeepers.  I didn't know whether to laugh or scream.  I
don't know what's happened to you, Chatto.  It must be all of this time
among these rebels that has made you change.  We need to strengthen our
training of field operatives in the future to resist alien influence.
You claim to be in love with this alien, Jenavia?"

"Yes," she said with confidence.  "I love Robert, and I want to be with

Sokule laughed.  "You pretty little fool.  You think we are going to
let you go.  I came here to give you one last chance to reconsider.  Of
course, you will be recalled back to the Directorate immediately, but
we will give you an opportunity to redeem yourself.  The alternative

"The alternative is that you will kill me," said Jenavia.

"Correct.  Of course, not here and now.  That would be too obvious, and
you've had time to consider a course of defense.  It will come later,
when you do not expect. Choose, Jenavia."

Jenavia smiled.  "I choose Robert.  Now, get out!"  She turned to open
the door.  But before she could get to the door, she realized her
mistake.  Jenavia spun around and saw Sokule with a small pulse pistol
in his hand.

"I thought you said that you would not do it now," said Jenavia.

"I lied," came the cold reply.


McGregor approached Jenavia's door with a great deal of apprehension.
The last time he had spoken to her, the last time he had seen her, was
a week ago.  On that occasion, the last words he said to her were to
imply she was a whore.  Robert was not sure how Jenavia would receive
him now.

Just as he was about to knock, Robert heard a shot come from inside the
room.  Instinctively, McGregor drew and armed his PPG sidearm.  He
kicked in the door and was greeted by a horrifying scene.

Jenavia was laying on the floor, a shot wound from a Peacekeeper pulse
pistol in her upper chest.  Standing over her was a man with a gun, and
he was pointing it at her head.

The man reacted to McGregor's entry, and raised his gun to shoot
McGregor.  The Captain was quicker and he fired two shots from his PPG
into the assassin.  McGregor's opponent fell to the ground as the shots
from the PPG crashed into his chest.  

Captain McGregor quickly checked to see if the man was still alive.
Jena's assailant was dead.  He then heard a weak voice come from behind

"Robert."  The soft, weak voice was that of Jenavia.  Robert quickly
ran and knelt beside her, taking her into his arms.

"Jena!" he screamed.  He activated his link.  "Captain to Indy, come

"Go ahead, sir."

"Contact the Royal Palace.  Tell them I need a med team in Jenavia
Chatto's quarters.  NOW!"

He deactivated his link, and brushed Jena's hair from her face.  "What
happened, Jena?  Who was that man?"

"He superior.  He came to kill me."

"Why?  I don't understand."

"I told them, Robert.  I told them..." she was running out of breath.
"I quit, Robert.  I quit the Directorate, left the Peacekeepers."

"You did what?" he said with surprise.  "Why?"

"Because, I...because I love you, Robert," she said with fading breath.

Robert held Jena close to him.  She was bleeding from the wound, and
was loosing consciousness.  He kissed her forehead.

"Come on, Jena," he said.  Tears were filling his eyes, and he openly
began to cry.  "Please, honey.  Don't you die on me!  You fight, you
hold on!  Please, my love, hold on."

She became unconscious just as the Sebacean medics rushed into the


Robert was pacing back and forth in a waiting room in the medical unit
of the palace.  Crichton and Aeryn were waiting there with him, waiting
to here whether Jenavia Chatto was going to survive.

"Why would she do this?" he said.  "She could have come to me, I could
have protected her."

"She did it to show you that she loved you," said Crichton.  "Its kind
of my fault, I guess.  I told her to speak to you with not just words,
but actions."

"Why didn't she tell me afterwards?"

"You've been distracted, busy," said Aeryn.  "She was probably waiting
until she could speak to you.  Or maybe she was working up the courage
to.  I have to admit.  Telling the Directorate to frell off like she
did was a brave thing."

"Yeah," said McGregor.  "Brave, but stupid.  God, what if she dies?"

"She isn't going to die," said Crichton.  "Don't write her off yet."

A Doctor came out of the door to the trauma room where they had been
operating on Jena.  McGregor walked up to meet the Doctor, followed by
Crichton and Aeryn.

"Doctor,  will she....will she be alright?" asked McGregor.

"She suffered quite a bit of damage," replied the Doctor.  "We repaired
much of it, but whether she lives or dies now depends on her personal
strength, her will to live.  She's unconscious.  And, there was another

"What complication?" asked McGregor.

"Captain," began the Doctor.  "Jenavia Chatto is pregnant."

McGregor was speechless for a few moments.  He was trying to run
through his mind every word, every syllable, of what the Doctor had
just said.  Robert was trying to make sure that he heard the Doctor

"Pregnant," he said with a whisper.

"Yes," said the Doctor.  "I've done a DNA test, and it shows that the
child is only half Sebacean.  The fetus has Human DNA as well."

"A baby," said McGregor with shock.  Then, he began to smile.  "A
baby," he said once again.  "I'm going to be a father," he said with
growing wonder.  Then he gave out a cheer.  "I'm going to be a father!"
he yelled with disbelief.

Crichton and Aeryn both shook Robert's hand and congratulated him with
big smiles on their faces.  It was then that it hit McGregor that the
baby was inside an injured Jena.  He turned to the Doctor with concern.

"Is the baby alright?" he asked hesitantly.

"The fetus was not damaged," said the Doctor.  "If Jenavia lives, she
should be able to carry the child to full term."

"But that's if she lives," said McGregor.  It all came back to him now,
blasting away his euphoria over impending fatherhood.

"She's strong, Robert," said Crichton.  "She'll make it."

McGregor smiled.  "Yes, she is strong.  Strong willed, smart, and
beautiful."  He thought again about how much he loved Jenavia, who was
now the mother of his child.  "When can I see her, Doctor?"

"You can go in now.  She's unconscious, but you can see her."

The Doctor led McGregor down a corridor to a door.  When the Doctor
opened the door, Robert could see a weakened Jenavia laying on a
hospital type bed.  She was attached to monitors which kept track of
her vitals.  Her chest rose and fell slowly as she unconsciously
breathed life giving air.

Robert was left alone with her.  He walked over to her and sat down on
the edge of the bed.  He gently caressed her beautiful cheek with his
hand as a tear escaped his left eye.  Robert then looked down at her
midriff, trying to picture the unborn baby growing inside of her.  He
gently placed his right hand on her stomach, while he took her hand in
his left hand.

Robert brought her hand up to his face and kissed it.  He then used it
to brush his cheek which was wet from the tear.  "I love you, Jena.  I
will never leave you, or our baby.  Please don't leave me."

He stayed with her all night, watching her, protecting Jena and their
unborn child from anything that would harm them.  Robert pleaded with
her to live, and silently prayed to God to give her the strength to


Chapter 9:  The War Drums


John Crichton was awakened by a knock at the door to his and Aeryn's
quarters in the palace.  Aeryn was also awake and stirring in John's

"John, was that a knock?"

"Yeah.  Stay in bed.  I'll get it."

Crichton climbed out from under the sheets of his and Aeryn's bed,
quickly put on a pair of pants and t-shirt, and went to the door.  He
opened it to find a young man outside.

"Commander Crichton, I am sorry to disturb you.  Counselor Barusa has
asked for you and Lieutenant Sun-Crichton to come to the main hall."

"Did he say why?" asked Crichton.

"No, but he did ask for you and your wife as soon as possible."

"Alright," replied Crichton.  "Give us a few microts to get dressed.
We'll be there shortly."

John closed the door, and turned to see Aeryn up and getting dressed.
Crichton joined her.

"Any ideas as to what is going on?" she asked.

"Not a clue.  We'll find out soon enough."

The pair put on their Earth Force uniforms and left their quarters for
the main hall.  When they got there, they found Barusa talking to a man
with his back turned to them.  However, even with his back turned,
Crichton and Aeryn knew who the man was.

Barusa saw Crichton and Aeryn enter.  "Aw, Commander, Lieutenant.  I
believe you know Captain Bialar Crais."

Crais turned around to face Crichton and Aeryn.  He was a bit startled
to see them in some type of alien uniforms, though he knew about their
Earth Force commissions.  He was especially taken aback by seeing Aeryn
in the uniform of an alien government.

Crichton spoke first.  "Well, Crais.  Do what do we owe the honor of
this visit?"  The relationship between Crais and Crichton had still
been a strange one, even after all of these cycles.  They had not been
enemies for a long time, but they were not friends either.  It didn't
help that Crichton knew of Crais' interest in Aeryn.  John knew that
Aeryn was not in any way attracted to Crais, but it did make Crichton's
relationship with Crais somewhat adversarial.

"Talyn and I were contacted by Moya's crew.  They told me about the
Scarren invasion of the Sebacean Royal Colonies, and about you being
here to help.  I have come to lend my and Talyn's assistance in this

"Why?" asked Aeryn.  Her relationship with Crais was strange as well,
though more cordial than the one between Crichton and Crais.  Aeryn's
former Captain had helped her and John on several occasions in the
past, and she never forgot that.

"I have visited these colonies on many occasions over the cycles,"
replied Crais.  "They are the only branch of our people that I can have
any reasonable amount of contact with now.  I do not want to see these
colonies fall into the hands of the Scarrens.  You and I both know what
the Scarrens would do to these people."

"Standing up for the brothers, Crais," said Crichton.  "No other angle
than that?"

"None that would be any of your business, Crichton," he replied.
"Now," Crais turned to Barusa.  "Do you want my help, or shall Talyn
and I just leave?"

"Our people would welcome any help you could give, Captain," said
Barusa.  The Counselor looked at Crichton.  "Any conflict you have with
Captain Crais is not welcomed here.  Please, put aside your differences
for now, so we may all work together in common cause."

Crais approached Crichton, and put out his hand.  "I believe it is a
Human custom to shake hands as a gesture of good will.  I make that
offer to you, now."

Crichton hesitated.  He looked at Aeryn, who gave him a "go on, be
nice" look.  John reached out his hand and grabbed Crais'.  They shook
hands for a moment, before they released each other.

"Good," said Crais.  "Now, perhaps someone can brief me on the current


Jenavia slowly opened her eyes, and immediately felt the pain and
weakness from her wound.  She was disoriented, and it took her a few
moments to fully comprehend what had happened.  Jena remembered being
shot by Sokule.  She fell to the ground, and saw her assassin stand
over her and prepare to shoot her again to finish her off.

That was when the door was kicked in, and she was greeted by the most
welcomed sight possible.  Standing in the doorway was her lover, Robert
McGregor, pointing a pistol at Sokule.  Robert shot the Peacekeeper
assassin, and Sokule fell to the ground dead.

Jena remembered Robert holding her in his strong, but gentle arms,
calling out to her.  She remembered telling him that she quit the
directorate because she loved him.  Jenavia had lost consciousness.

She now found herself in a bed, obviously in the palace medical unit.
Jena also heard slow, steady breathing next to her on the bed.  She
felt arms around her waist.  Jenavia looked over to see a sleeping
Robert McGregor, holding on to her as he dosed.  His head was on the
bed next to her, and it was obvious to Jena that he had been there for
quite a while.

Jena smiled at her sleeping lover.  She reached over and ran her hand
and fingers through his brown hair, as she admired the handsomeness of
the man she loved.

Robert, stirred from his light sleep by Jena's touch, looked up to see
her beautiful smile.  He could not help but return the smile.  He moved
closer to her, taking her hand in his.  Robert kissed Jena's hand, then
used his other palm to cup the left side of her face.

"Well, you're awake at last," said Robert with a smile.

"How long have I been here?" asked Jena.

"Half a day and a full night," replied Robert.  "You were hurt pretty
bad.  I thought...I thought I might have lost you."

"I'm not that easy to kill, Robert," she said with a smile.  She
hesitated for a moment.  "Robert, I'm sorry..."

"Shh," he interrupted, placing a finger on her lips.  "Its alright.
I'm the one who should be sorry.  I said..."Robert hesitated, his voice
choked by tears.  "I said some horrible things to you.  If my mother
had ever heard me talk to a lady in such an ungentlemanly fashion, she
would have put me over her knee."

Jena did not fully understand the reference, but put that aside and
responded to his apology.  "Its alright, love.  All that matters is
that we are together."  She stopped for a moment, a worried look coming
over her face.  "If you still want me.  If you don't, its alright."

"Oh, baby," he replied, as he kissed her cheek.  "I do want you.  In
fact, I want to ask you...I was wondering if you would...marry me?"

Jenavia was taken aback.  A few moments ago, she wasn't sure if Robert
still wanted her.  Now, it was clear to her that he not only wanted
her, but he wanted her as his wife.  She smiled, and decided to
continue to follow her heart.

"Yes, Robert.  If you will have me, I will be your wife."

The lovers kissed passionately.  When they broke the kiss, Robert
smiled and decided to give her the big news.  "Jena, honey, there is
something I have to tell you."


"Jenavia, your...your pregnant.  We're going to have a baby."

Jena's shock at this news made her reaction to Robert's marriage
proposal seem mild by comparison.  For a few moments, she could not
speak.  She was trying to fully comprehend the fact that she was
carrying a child inside of her, a child she had created with Robert.
Finally, she spoke.

"A baby.  This...this can't be.  How can I be pregnant?"

"Well, honey, I don't think I need to explain the birds and the bees to
you.  We have been intimate a lot.  Every chance we could get,
actually," he said with a chuckle.  "I guess it just...happened."

"What do birds and insects have to do with..."

"Never mind, honey.  How do you feel about this?"

"I don't know, Robert.  I...Being a mother was never in my future, nor
was being a wife." She smiled.  "Until I met you." Jena placed her hand
on his face.  "Before we met, I was content to be a disruptor, to serve
the directorate and the Peacekeepers.  To do what I was born to do.
Then you walk into my life and shake it to its foundations.  Now, as I
lay here, I am no longer a Peacekeeper.  I am a target of the
Peacekeepers to be killed.  I have just agreed to marry an alien man,
and I am carrying a half alien child.  Forgive me if I am a little

"I understand," said Robert.  "I do, believe me.  Before I met you,
Jenavia Chatto, I was married to Earth Force.  I was content to live my
life as a professional soldier.  Now...I don't want to spend the rest
of my life without you by my side.  I want you, and our baby, to come
back to Earth with me."

"Robert, did you ask me to marry you because of the baby?"

"The baby factored into it, yes.  But, I want you both.  Why do you
think I was coming to your quarters when that Peacekeeper shot you?  I
was coming to confront you, to make you tell me the truth about how you
felt.  I'm a warrior, Jena.  I was coming to fight for what I wanted,
to fight for you.  Grant reminded me of an old saying.  'If you love,
love without reservation.  If you fight, fight without fear.  This is
the way of the warrior.'  Well, I love you without reservation, and I
will fight for you until my dying breath.  Now, do you want me and our

"I do want you, Robert.  As for the child...Robert, I don't know.  For
the first time in my life, I think, I'm scared."

"So am I, darlin.  I am just as scared as you are.  I mean, I've never
been a parent before.  I don't know a thing about being a parent.  All
I do know is....when I look at you, and think about you carrying our
child, I want to do my best to try.  We'll be in this together, and I
think that together, we can overcome anything.  Will you stand with

Jenavia was silent.  This was the most important moment of her life.
She wasn't sure what path to choose, what each path held in store for
her.  All she knew was that one path included her being with a man she
had come to love more than life itself.  It also included a baby
conceived in their love, and this thought made her smile.  She now knew
what to do.

"I will stand by your side, Robert.  And I want this child.  I want OUR

They smiled, and kissed each other, giggling slightly.  Robert looked
deeply into Jena's eyes.  "So, Jena," he said.  "About the wedding.
How does today sound?"

"What?  Robert, how could we get married today?"

"I don't know, but I'll make it happen.  I don't want to wait another

"Robert, I'd love to.  But...could we wait until tomorrow.  At least
give me another day to partially recover."

"Oh, well, if you want to procrastinate," Robert said jokingly.  Then,
more seriously, he continued.  "I think tomorrow sounds wonderful."


Crichton and Aeryn were standing in the meeting room, talking with
General Mestra, when they saw Captain McGregor and Lt. Hancock walk in.
They went to the Captain to inquire after Jenavia.

"Captain, how is she?" asked Crichton.

"She's going to make it.  We've talked, and...well, we're going to need
the two of you and Lt. Hancock tomorrow as witnesses."

"Witnesses, for what?" asked Aeryn.

"A marriage.  Jena has consented to marry me, tomorrow."

"Congratulations, Captain," said Crichton with a smile, as he shook
McGregor's hand.

"Thanks," replied McGregor. "Aeryn, Jenavia has asked if you would be
her matron of honor."

"Me!  Why me?" asked Aeryn with surprise.

"Jena is a former Peacekeeper marrying a Human man.  Can you think of
anyone else who has had a similar experience?"

"Yes, well, I know what she is getting herself in for," said Aeryn.  "I
accept the honor."

"Lt. Hancock will be my best man, but I was wondering if you would also
stand with me, Crichton?"

"I'd be honored, sir."

Counselor Barusa came forward with Admiral Cherok and Captain Crais.
"Captain McGregor, how is Jenavia Chatto?" asked the Counselor.

"She is recovering, thank you for asking.  By the way, we're getting
married tomorrow.  Your invited, of course."

"I will be there," said Barusa.  "We are still trying to figure out why
that Peacekeeper agent was trying to kill Jenavia.  Perhaps you could
explain it, Captain?"

"Well, from what Jena has told me, he was trying to use her to get to
me.  He knew about Jena's...relationship, with me.  Jena refused, she
fought him, and he shot her."  Robert didn't like lying.  He was an
honorable man, a man of principle.  But, he also remembered something
about the Minbari at that moment.  They were a race who believed in the
principle of never lying, except when a lie would protect another.
Robert would do anything to protect his fiancée and child, and he knew
that the Empress would possibly have Jena executed for being a spy if
she found out about Jenavia being a Peacekeeper disruptor.  There was
no way that McGregor would let that happen.  

"We will place her under guard," said Barusa. " If there are other
Peacekeeper agents in the palace, which I extremely doubt to be the
case, she will be protected."

"Thank you, Counselor," replied McGregor.  "But, with all due respect,
I would also like to have a few Earth Force Marines from my ship
guarding her alongside your people.  One Peacekeeper agent was able to
get in the palace undetected.  I just want to make sure that no others
may have gotten in."

"I understand, Captain," said Barusa hesitantly.  "You wish to make
sure your intended wife is protected.  I can respect that."  He turned
to the two men with him.  "Captain McGregor, allow me to present
Captain Bialar Crais, commander of the Leviathan warship Talyn.
Captain Crais, this is Captain Robert McGregor, commander of the Earth
Alliance Destroyer Indefatigable."

"Captain," said Crais with reserve.

"Captain," replied McGregor with equal reserve.  "I've heard about you,
from Crichton and Aeryn."

"Mmm, I'm sure they not always spoken in the most favorable terms about

"Their reports were quite thorough," said McGregor.

"I must say, Captain, I was able to see your ship while in orbit," said
Crais.  "A most impressive warship."

"Thank you," replied McGregor.

Just then, the Empress was announced as she entered the room.  She and
the officers present all sat down at the meeting table to go over the
final plan for engaging the Scarren fleet.

Twenty-eight Sebacean Royal Colony Defense Force warships have been
assembled and fully equipped for the battle, and would be commanded by
General Mestra.  They, along with the Indefatigable and Talyn, would
leave for the border the day after tomorrow.  The fleet will proceed to
a point at the border parallel to the coordinates where the forty ships
of the Scarren fleet were sighted by Lt. Commander Grant.  There, the
fleet would wait for the Scarrens to move.

The Sebaceans and Humans would be outnumbered and outgunned in the
battle, so they could not just slug it out with the enemy and hope to
pound them into retreat.  Instead, they had to outthink their
opponents, and use the element of surprise.  The Indy would again jump
to hyperspace and ambush the Scarrens from behind when they attacked
the main Sebacean fleet.  But this time, they would be accompanied into
hyperspace by Talyn, who would follow the Indy in and out of its jump
points.  Meanwhile, a group of eight ships under Admiral Cherok's
command would break away from the main force before the battle and hide
behind a nearby moon.  When the battle commenced, they would attack the
Scarrens from their right flank.

Attacking from three sides, the allied forces would mix it up with the
Scarrens, getting in among their ships to limit the advantage given to
the enemy by their superior numbers.  This would be a battle of one on
one, close quarter engagements.  It would be a brutal and bloody fight
to be sure, but it was hoped the Scarrens would suffer enough losses to
convince them to turn and go home.

Talyn would be crewed with small group of trained personnel from the
Sebacean Defense Force, to aid Captain Crais in commanding Talyn
through the battle.  However, Crais still needed a second in command,
and had just the person in mind.

"I would like," he said, "for Lt. Aeryn Sun-Crichton to be my second."

"No," said Crichton.

"Why not?" asked Crais.

"John, I am the logical choice," said Aeryn.  "I know Talyn's systems
almost as well as Crais.  Talyn trusts me.  I can be of greater help
there than I can anywhere else."

"Fine, but I'm coming with you," said Crichton.

"No, you are going to stay on the Indefatigable with Captain McGregor,"
replied Aeryn.  "John, the Captain will need your knowledge and
experience with Sebacean technology to help him coordinate with the
Royal Colony forces and with Talyn.  Plus..." she hesitated for a
moment.  "We should not be on the same ship.  If one of the ships is
destroyed, one of of us could still be there for Jack."

Crichton hesitated for a moment.  Finally, he consented to the logic of
what Aeryn had said.  "Alright.  I'll stay on the Indy.  But, I don't
like it."

"What is there to like in this situation, Crichton?" asked McGregor.
"This is going to be a rough battle.  We've all got a lot to loose."
McGregor thought of Jena, the woman he was going to marry tomorrow.  He
could marry her one day, and make her a widow and his child an orphan
the next day.  Robert quickly put these thoughts from his mind.

"It is done," said the Empress.  "The plan is ready.  Now, we must pray
to lords of Chilnak that it will work and that our colonies shall be

The meeting broke up a few minutes later, as each commander went to
their ships to prepare them for the coming battle.


The next day, Robert McGregor went to the medical unit in the palace,
accompanied by Lt. Hancock and Commander Crichton.  Each of them were
dressed in their best dress uniforms, ready for the happy occasion that
was to come.

They entered Jena's recovery room, and found her waiting there for him
with Aeryn and the Chaplain from the Indefatigable.  A few other guest,
including Counselor Barusa, were also in attendance.

Jenavia was standing close to her bed.  She had recovered enough to
stand for the occasion, but still had to remain close to the bed in
case she got weak.  Jena was adorned in a beautiful red Sebacean
wedding garment, her hair hanging loosely about her shoulders.  Aeryn
stood beside her, also adorned in a red dress for the occasion.

They were going to be married by the Chaplain from the Indy in a
ceremony mixed with Human and Sebacean customs.  He had been instructed
in what to do for the Sebacean part of things.  Robert and Jena had
decided to be married by the Human clergyman to symbolize their new
life that would be spent together in McGregor's world among the Humans.

Robert took Jenavia's hands in his.  They performed the Sebacean part
of the ceremony first before proceeding to the Human marriage vows.

"I, Jenavia Chatto, take you, Robert McGregor, to be my husband.  I vow
to love, honor, and cherish you, for richer for poorer, in sickness and
in health, as long as we both shall live.  This is my solemn vow to

"I, Robert McGregor, take you, Jenavia Chatto, to be my wife.  I vow to
love, honor, and cherish you, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in
health, as long as we both shall live.  This is my solemn vow to you."

"The rings, please," said the Chaplain.

Robert was given the ring by Lt. Hancock.  He placed the ring on
Jenavia's finger, and repeated after the Chaplain.  "With this ring, I
thee wed."

Jenavia received a ring from Aeryn, which she then placed on Robert's
finger.  She also repeated after the Chaplain.  "With this ring, I thee

The Chaplain placed Jenavia's hand in Robert's.  "By the power vested
in me by God, by Earth Force law, and by the consent of the Sebacean
Royal Government, I herby pronounce you husband and wife.  Those whom
God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Captain, you may kiss
your bride."

The pair kissed, as the small crowd in the room applauded.  Meanwhile,
Lt. Hancock stepped out of the room for a moment.  After a few seconds,
the crowd was quieted by the sound of Lt. Hancock's voice.

"Detail, forward, march!"  An Earth Force honor guard marched into the
room in two lines.  They were led by Lt. Hancock up to Robert and Jena.

Hancock gave the command to halt.  He continued to issue commands, and
with each command, the detail of Earth Force officers snapped in
compliance.  "Detail, right and left, face.  Draw, swords."  The
officers drew their sabers from their sheaths, and brought them to
their sides.  Hancock continued with the commands.

"Form, bridge.  Blades to the wind."  The officers brought their swords
into an arch, high enough for Robert and Jenavia to walk under the
swords and between the two lines of officers.  They turned their blades
to the front of the detail.

Robert and Jenavia walked under the sword bridge arm in arm, as was the
custom of a Human military wedding.  As they proceeded under the
bridge, Hancock spoke.  "Presenting, for the first time in public,
Captain and Mrs. Robert McGregor."  Robert and Jenavia smiled as they
walked under the sword bridge, the guests applauding.  When they got to
the end of the bridge, one of the officers at the end lowered his
blade, and gave Jenavia a quick pat on the but with the flat end of his
blade.  Then, the officer mentioned said "Go, Earth Force."  After
Robert and Jenavia had walked under the bridge, the detail of officers
sheathed their swords and were dismissed by Lt. Hancock.

The guests all congratulated the couple on their marriage, and on their
expectance of a baby.  After about a half arn, the guests filed out of
the room to leave the couple by themselves.

Jenavia and Robert McGregor stood in the middle of the room alone.
Robert was holding Jenavia in his arms.

"Robert, don't you have to prepare your ship for tomorrow?"

"I've taken care of most of that.  Lt. Hancock has volunteered to do
the rest."

"He's a good man, Robert."

"Yes, he is. He'll make a good XO.  I wish that Tom had been here

"I know.  I'm sorry he couldn't have been."  She hesitated tomorrow.
"I can't believe I have to send you off to battle tomorrow.  Robert,
I'm scared."

Robert kissed her head.  "Well, so much for the tough Jenavia."  She
looked up at him, tears in her eyes.  Robert kissed her cheek gently.
"Don't think on it now, Jena.  Tonight is for us.  We'll think of
tomorrow when it comes."

With that, Robert picked up Jenavia into his arms, and lowered her onto
the bed.  She was still in no condition to consummate their marriage,
but they laid there together on the bed, in each other's arms.  They
kissed passionately, and spent the night together enjoying being close
to one another.


Morning came too quickly for Robert and Jenavia McGregor, as they woke
up from their peaceful slumber.  Robert dressed into his standard duty
uniform in silence.  He and Jena did not say a word to each other until
he was dressed and ready to go.

Jenavia got out of bed and walked her husband to the door of the room. 
Robert turned and took Jena into his arms one more time before
departing.  They kissed for several moments as Jena began to cry.

She began to say the word she did not want to say.  "Good..."

"No," Robert interrupted.  "Don't say goodbye.  This is not goodbye.
Until we meet again, Jenavia McGregor.  I love you."

Jena smiled as Robert placed his hand on her cheek.  "I love you, too,"
replied Jena.  Robert kissed Jena one more time before leaving her
alone in the room.  He passed by four Earth Force Marines and several
palace guards stationed to protect Jenavia on his way out of the
medical unit.

Meanwhile, Crichton and Aeryn stood on the landing pad outside of the
palace.  She was preparing to take a transport up to Talyn, while
Crichton was waiting to accompany Captain McGregor up to the
Indefatigable.  When they saw McGregor coming, they knew it was time to

John took Aeryn into his arms.  They kissed on their lips, on their
cheeks, and on their necks.  The kisses were the desperate ones of soon
to be departed lovers enjoying one more moment together.

"Good luck, John," said Aeryn.

"Back at you, baby," replied John.

Aeryn boarded the transport as McGregor came up beside Crichton.  John
turned and saluted the Captain, and McGregor returned the salute.  "Are
we ready, Commander?" asked McGregor.

"Yes, sir."

The two of them boarded an Earth Force shuttle.  Both craft took off
and headed for their respective ships.


McGregor and Crichton stepped onto the bridge of the Indefatigable.
"Captain on the bridge," announced Lt. Reynolds.

"Report, XO," said McGregor to Lt. Hancock.

"Sir, the Indy is ready to depart.  We are awaiting the signal from
Admiral Mestra, and your command, sir."

"Very good," replied McGregor.  The crew of the Indy waited a few more
minutes before a signal came through from Mestra's command ship.  

"Sir," reported Hancock.  "Signal from fleet command.  'Proceed to
arranged coordinates.'"

"Very well.  XO, proceed on course with the fleet.  Match speed."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied Hancock.  "Navigation, match course and speed
with the fleet."

McGregor opened a ship wide comm channel.  "Crew of the EAS
Indefatigable, this is the Captain.  We are proceeding into what will
be the greatest battle we have ever fought in.  The next few days will
determine many things.  They will determine whether or not the Sebacean
Royal Colonies will fall to the Scarrens, whether our mission to this
place to help to save our own planet will succeed or fail, and whether
we will survive to return home.  We have the best warship to take into
the battle, and that ship is manned by the best crew any Captain could
ask for.  Like the mariners on old Earth, we set sail into battle with
both ship and crew as one, standing together in common cause against
common foe.  May the wind be at our backs.  Captain, out."

The bridge was silent, except for the sounds of the ship's systems and
for an occasional word or two by an officer in the performance of his
or her duty.  McGregor was in quiet contemplation.  He had gone into
battle before.  Robert had always had much to be concerned with when
going into battle, mainly his ship and crew.  Now, he not only had them
to consider, but he also had a wife and unborn child he was leaving
behind to think about.  This made him quiet and reserved.  The mood was
picked up on by the rest of the bridge crew, which seemed to be able to
instinctively respond to their Captain's lead.

The Leading Chief of the Indy seemed to pick up on the mood as well,
and decided to do something to raise the spirits of the crew.  He began
to sing.

"What shall we do with a drunken sailor.
What shall we do with a drunken sailor.
What shall we do with a drunken sailor,
earli in the mornin."

Slowly, the entire bridge crew, including McGregor, began to join in.

"God speed, the whales are runnin.
God speed, the whales are runnin.
God speed, the whales are runnin,
earli in the mornin."

"Hoo-ray, and up she rises.
Hoo-ray, and up she rises.
Hoo-ray, and up she rises,
earli in the mornin."

The Indefatigable, with Talyn alongside, joined the Sebacean fleet as
it moved as if to the sound of drums into the battle that was to come.


Chapter 10:  The Battle


Twenty-eight warships of the Sebacean Royal Colony Defense Forces,
under the command of General Mestra, waited in formation just within
the border of the Royal Colonies.  They had arrived two days ago, and
had been waiting since then for the Scarren invasion fleet (which was
twice their strength) to arrive on the scene.  Meanwhile, eight
Sebacean warships under Admiral Cherok were waiting in orbit on the
dark side of a nearby moon, while the Indefatigable and Talyn were
waiting in hyperspace.

It had taken a while for Talyn to become acquainted with the
environment of hyperspace.  He was extremely nervous about the volatile
and eddy filled space at first, but with Crais' and Aeryn's urgings and
guidance, the Leviathan warship calmed down.  He now hovered very close
to the Indy, as both ships awaited a signal from the Sebacean fleet to
jump into normal space.

Captain McGregor had been running various combat drills with his crew
for the two days they had been waiting.  He was working on the
principal that an idle crew was one that was more likely to get nervous
and scared.  So, he did not give them time to get nervous by keeping
them distracted.  

They were just finishing a scramble drill with the fighters, and Lt.
Hancock was reporting to McGregor on the results.

"Sir," said Hancock.  "Final report on drill.  All Starfury squadrons
sortied and launched in 3 minutes, 38 seconds."

"Very good," said McGregor.  "Run the drill again.  Let's try and get
it down to three minutes."

"Aye, sir," replied Hancock.

Crichton walked up to McGregor.  "Sir, aren't you pressing your people
a little hard?"

"Thirty-eight seconds can be a lifetime in a scramble situation,
Commander," replied the Captain.  "The less time it takes us to get
those fighters launched, the faster we'll be ready to meet an

"Yes, sir," came Crichton's reply.

"So," said McGregor.  "You talked to Lt. Crichton an hour ago.  How are
things on Talyn?"

"Oh, fine.  Their crew is getting acquainted with Talyn's systems.
Crais has been crawling up the walls with all of this waiting, but
Aeryn's kept him calmed down."

"Crais is the antsy type, is he?"

"You could say so, sir.  I just wish I could be with Aeryn."

"I know how you feel, Commander.  At least you can talk to your wife
right now.  We're out of contact with the Royal Planet so I can't see
how Jena is doing.  Plus, many people on this ship have not talked to
their wives and husbands in six months.  When things are put into
perspective, you and I have it pretty good."

A few minutes later, Hancock again reported on the completion of a
scramble drill to his Captain.

"Sir," he said.  "Final report on drill:  all fighter squadrons sortied
and launched in 3 minutes 12 seconds."

"That's getting there," replied McGregor.  "Give the fighter and launch
bay crews a half hour break, then run the drill again.  Let's get it
down to three minutes."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied Hancock.

"Oh, and Lieutenant," said McGregor

"Yes, sir."

"Well done, XO."

"Thank you, sir," Hancock replied with a smile.


Crais was watching the Indefatigable from Talyn's command view screen. 
He watched as the fighters from the Earth ship were yet again scrambled
and launched from their fighter bays.

Aeryn came up behind Crais.  "Captain, I've cleared that amnexous
blockage on Tier 2."

"Very good, Officer...I mean, Lt. Sun-Cricthon."

Aeryn joined him in watching the fighters being launched from the Indy.
"Are they launching again?" she asked.

"Yes," replied Crais.  "Yet another drill.  How many times are they
going to do that same drill?"

"Captain McGregor is very efficient," replied Aeryn.  "I admire him for

"Hmm, yet another Human male you admire.  And, yet another Human male
who has taken one of our women."

Aeryn gave Crais and incredulous look.  "Since when have I or Jenavia
Chatto been your women, Crais?"

"You know what I mean, Aeryn.  Both of you are Sebacean women who have
mated with Human men.  I am concerned that if contact between our two
races increases, as it seems to be doing now, that more Sebacean women
will be taken by Human males as mates."

"And what if they are?" said Aeryn.  "Perhaps someday soon a Sebacean
man and Human woman will mate."

"It will lead to the dilution of the purity of our race."

"Who the frell gives a rat's ass if more Sebaceans and Humans inter-
mate?" replied Aeryn, using one of John's Human sayings.  "Crais,
whoever a Sebacean chooses to mate with, no matter if their prospective
mate is Human or not, is no one's business but theirs.  Jenavia and I
both married for love.  Our husbands just happen to be Human.  But like
I said, who we chose to marry is none of yours or anyone else's
concern.  Now, I need to check on Talyn's engines."

Aeryn walked away to leave Crais watching the view screen.  She knew
that her words had probably not made a dent in Crais' prejudices, but
Aeryn also knew that such prejudice in many people would only disappear
with time.  For others, it may never go away.


General Mestra stood on the command deck of his flagship, looking with
an expert eye at his fleet of warships.  Three days.  It had been three
days, and still no sign of the Scarren fleet.  Many had begun to hope
that the Scarrens had decided to delay, or even cancel, their invasion.
Mestra felt that was wishful thinking.  He was about to be proven

"General," said an officer.  "We have detected a large formation of
alien ships bearing 090, approximately 12 million metras and closing."

"Identify," said Mestra.

"Sir, ships are identified as Scarren battle cruisers.  Estimate at
least 40 enemy ships.  Closing rapidly."

"Order the fleet to come about and engage.  Raise defense screens and
launch all fighters.  Order Cherok and McGregor to stand by."

"Yes, sir."

The Sebacean warships turned to meet the Scarren fleet, while they
launched their fighters.  As soon as all fighter were launched, they
raised their defense screens and armed their weapons.  As called for in
the battle plan, the Sebacean warships sat and waited for the Scarrens
to come in.  When the enemy fleet was in range, Cherok's task force
would be called in on the enemy's right flank, while the Indefatigable
and Talyn would jump in behind the Scarrens.  All allied ships would
engage the Scarrens at close quarters.

The Scarrens closed in on the smaller Sebacean fleet at high speed,
their fighters barely able to keep up with their mother ships.  The
Scarrens were filled with a zeal for the battle at seeing their
outnumbered opponent.

The Scarren fleet came into range.  Mestra gave the order.  "All ships,
accelerate to full speed. Engage the enemy.  Communications, call in
the other ships."

The Sebacean and Scarren fleets charged at each other and began firing.
Swarms of Sebacean prowler type fighters and Scarren horseshoe shaped
fighters engaged each other within the mass of warships blasting away
at each other with their big guns.  Within a few minutes of the
beginning of the battle, the two fleets were meshed with one another,
as ships from both sides began to blast away at each other in close
quarter combat.

The Indefatigable's jump point opened up not far behind the scene of
the battle, and the Earth ship along with her Starfuries and Talyn came
streaming out of the jump point at full speed.

Talyn was the first to fire, as he charged headlong into the Scarren
fleet with his main guns blazing away.  One Scarren warship was taken
by surprise by Talyn's sudden and lightning fast assault and was
pulverized without even having a chance to fire.

The Indy and her fighters closed in on a group of five Scarren warships
and engaged.  The Earth destroyer's main plasma guns began to pour a
murderous barrage of fire on the Scarren ships.  But the Scarrens gave
as good as they got, their main guns blasting at the Indy's screens
with a hail storm of fire.

A few minutes later, Cherok's task force moved in on the right flank of
the Scarren fleet.  His fighters and warships entered the fray and
began to engage the Scarren ships on the right.

The Scarren fleet entered this battle against one Sebacean force at
their front about half their size.  Now, they were being attacked by
more Sebacean forces on their right flank, and by unknown warships to
their rear.  The various Scarren ships were turning in different
directions trying to engage the enemy, but were taking fire from all

The enemy had been thrown into a state of confusion, and that was just
what the Sebacean and Human officers wanted.  However, even the
confusion on the part of the Scarrens did not change the fact that the
Humans and Sebaceans were still outnumbered.  The Scarren ships were
taking a heavy beating, but so were the Sebaceans.  Four ships from
Mestra's main force were lost within the first ten minutes of combat.
The Scarrens had lost 8, but their forces could sustain the losses more
than the Sebaceans and Humans could.

Seven Scarren ships turned to engage the Indefatigable and Talyn, their
main guns laying down a barrage of fire on the Earth destroyer and
Leviathan.  The Earth Force fighters found themselves outnumbered by
the Scarren fighters, and had to rely on their superior agility and
flying capability to engage the Scarrens.  Luckily, Lt. Aeryn Sun-
Crichton and Captain Crais had given them and the Sebacean pilots
lectures on Scarren combat tactics, and imparted to them crucial
knowledge on how to defeat the Scarren pilots in ship to ship combat.
Even with their training and superior fighter design, the Starfuries
had to stay close to the Indy and Talyn so they could receive the extra
protection of  the main warships' defense grids.

As the battle raged on, more and more ships on both sides were being
destroyed, and the space around the battle seemed to be lighted from
the exchange of fire and from the ships both big and small exploding
all around.  Although the Sebaceans were taking heavy losses (about ten
ships within the first half hour of combat) , the Scarren's losses were
at least twice as many, half of their fleet having been destroyed.
This made the odds even as both sides now had twenty ships engaged in

However, the Scarrens had managed to regroup from their earlier
confusion, and were now making more organized assaults against the
Sebacean and Human forces.  The Indefatigable's defense screen was
slowly being weakened, its power down to about ten percent.  When thr
screen was gone, the Indy would have to rely on her interceptor weapons
and armored hull to protect her.  Talyn had taken a number of hits to
his defense screen as well, but he was far more maneuverable than the
Scarren ships.  He and his crew used that maneuverability to maximum
advantage, swooping in among the Scarrens in their attacks.

A serious blow was dealt to the Sebacean forces when Admiral Cherok's
command ship was destroyed, leaving the Sebacean forces on the right
flank in momentary confusion.  The Captain of one of Cherok's ships
quickly took over, and regrouped the remaining five ships of the late
Cherok's task force into an effective fighting force.

The Indefatigable's defense screen finally collapsed under the
punishment, and now Scarren fire was impacting on the Indy's armored
hull.  The Earth destroyer's interceptor cannons came to life and
repelled much of the incoming fire, but the Indy began to take a

Captain McGregor fought his ship from the bridge with a cool head and
steady hand, as he ordered his ship to destroy one Scarren target after
another, and move on to the next one.  The plasma cannons of the
Indefatigable would blast away at the screens of the Scarrens' ships,
weakening them enough for her laser cannons to finish the job.  The red
laser beams from the Indy's forward batteries would cut into the enemy
ships.  If they were not enough, McGregor would finish an enemy vessel
with the Indefatigable's forward missiles.

The Indy's hull was taking a heavy beating, and the ship began to
suffer some internal damage and hull breaches. At one point, an
explosion ripped through the middle of the bridge.  Shrapnel flew
through the air, and Captain McGregor was knocked to the deck.
Crichton and Hancock rushed to his side, as an alarm claxon sounded
through the room as a result of the explosion.

McGregor reacted quickly.  "XO, back to your station."  Hancock quickly
obeyed, returning to his post coordinating maneuvering and gunnery.
McGregor looked at Crichton.  "Where am I hit, Commander?" asked the

"You've got a shrapnel wound in the shoulder," replied Crichton.
"Should I call for a medic?"

"No.  Anyone else hurt."  McGregor looked around and saw one officer
laying still on the deck.  The Captain ran over quickly to check on his
condition.  When McGregor got there, he found that it was LtJG.
Reynolds.  The young officer was not as lucky as the Captain, having
received a blast of shrapnel right into his head.  Reynolds was killed

"So young," whispered the Captain.  He quickly regained his composure,
got up, and went back to his post.

"Continue firing!" yelled McGregor.

The Indefatigable continued her attack despite the punishment the ship
was taking.  Several minutes of rough combat passed as McGregor
monitored the progress of the engagement.  It was at this point that he
saw eight Scarren warships massing together to the left of the scene of
the battle.  McGregor deduced that they were preparing for a
counterassault on the left flank.  He thought fast about a course of

"Navigation," said McGregor.  "Break off from current target.  Proceed
to intercept Scarren forces massing on our left flank."

"Aye, sir."

"Communications, get me Talyn," continued McGregor.

A moment later, Aeryn's voice was heard over the comm channel.  "Lt.
Crichton on Talyn.  Go ahead, Captain."

"Lieutenant, tell Captain Crais and Talyn to cover us.  We're moving to
engage the Scarren force massing on the left flank."

"Cover you," said Crais in the background.  "Why should we...."

"Just do it, dammit!  I don't have time to argue or explain!  Indy

McGregor then turned to the Hancock.  "XO," he said.  "I am authorizing
the use of nuclear weapons.  Load all forward missile launchers with
tactical nuclear missiles, ready them to fire on my order."

"Aye, aye, sir."

It was Earth Force policy to only use nuclear weapons as a last resort.
The Captain felt he had reached that point.  If they did not stop that
Scarren force massing on the left, the enemy could launch a crippling
counterattack.  McGregor felt he had no choice.  

He signaled the Sebacean forces to move away from the blast area as the
Indefatigable closed in on the Scarrens.  Meanwhile, Talyn did indeed
cover the Earth ship, keeping away any Scarren ship that threatened the
Indy's flanks or rear.  The Indefatigable closed into range for firing.
McGregor waited for the Scarrens to get all eight of their ships
massing for the attack in close formation.  Finally, the Captain gave
the order.

"Signal all ships, all stations:  'Fire in the hole.'  Forward missile
batteries, fire!"

Four missiles launched from the Indefatigable's forward missile bays
and flew strait for the Scarren ships.  The enemy opened fire on the
missile hoping to hit some of them, but McGregor's attack had caught
them by surprise.

A blinding flash of light filled the scene of battle, as the nuclear
devices fired from the Indy found their target.  A huge wave of fire
ripped through the Scarren warships, pulverizing their shields and
incinerating their ships.

Within the span of a minute, the light had cleared away from the scene
and the fire ball receded.  The Scarren ships that had been at the
center of the blast were pulverized.  The nuclear attack on a group of
ships in that close of a proximity was devastating.

Every officer in both the Sebacean and Scarren fleet stood in shock at
the suddenness and devastating effect of the attack.  The Scarren fleet
had been cut down in a matter of moments from 15 remaining ships to
seven.  The Sebaceans and Humans waisted no time in closing in on the
Scarren ships to continue their attack.

However, the Scarrens had lost their stomach for the battle.  They had
lost 33 ships in this battle, plus the 15 ships from the task force
that launched the initial attack of this conflict 2 weekens ago.  This,
combined with the devastating nuclear attack from the Earth ship,
knocked the wind out of the Scarrens' sails, and they chose to turn and
run from the scene of battle.

The Sebaceans and Humans chased the Scarren fleet out of Royal Colony
space, and continued the pursuit for several hours after passing the
border.  The allied forces got in some final licks against the Scarrens
before returning to Royal Colony space.

Although they had won the battle, the Sebacean fleet endured heavy
losses.  Of the twenty-eight Sebacean ships that went into the battle,
only 14 survived the engagement. Talyn had suffered heavy damage, and
would need a great deal of time to heal from his wounds.  

The Indefatigable endured damage and losses as well.  Her defense
screen was down and would need some time to be repaired, and she had
also suffered heavy damage to her hull and defense grid.  Twenty-four
members of the Indy's crew had been killed, and 70 wounded.  Among the
wounded was Captain McGregor, who reluctantly allowed himself to be
taken to med lab before he lost too much blood from his shrapnel wound.

After picking up survivors in escape pods from the scene of the battle,
the Sebacean fleet, Talyn, and the Indefatigable proceeded back to the
Royal Planet.


Chapter 11:  Victories and Commitments


Two days after the battle ended, the EAS Indefatigable was again in
orbit around the Royal Planet undergoing repairs with the help of the
Sebaceans.  The citizens of the Royal Colonies were flushed with
victory at the prospect of the Scarren invasion being stopped.  The
Humans were regarded as heroes for coming to the aid of the Sebacean
forces, and for striking the last major blow that ended the battle in a
Sebacean/Human victory.

As Captain McGregor sat in his office on board the Indy, he did not
like a hero flushed with victory.  Yes, he was proud of how his crew
and ship had performed in the battle and he was pleased that they had
achieve a great victory.  However, McGregor could not help but feel
less than joyful as he composed letters to the families of the twenty-
four officers and crewman of the Indy who were killed in the battle.
He could have chosen to do them any time before returning to Earth
Alliance space, which was when the letters would have to wait to be
delivered.  But the Captain felt that this was one duty to get out of
the way quickly.

McGregor was working on the letter to LtJG. Reynolds' mother.  His
wounded shoulder ached as he worked on trying to find the words to say
to a parent who has lost her child.  He heard a knock at his door.

"Come in," said McGregor.

Crichton and Aeryn came through the door, each with smiles on their
faces.  Aeryn had just come over to the Indy from Talyn, and the couple
was glowing from their recent reunion.  They had come to see how
McGregor was doing.

"Welcome back, Lieutenant," said McGregor to Aeryn.

"Thank you, sir.  I had heard you were injured.  How are you feeling?"

"Physically, I'm alright.  Emotionally, well..."

McGregor got up and looked out of his office window.  "John, Aeryn," he
said, "I think of all the duties that a Captain has to perform, I am
now completing the hardest one."

"What's that, sir?" asked Crichton.

"Trying to find the words to say to a family who has lost their loved
one in battle.  I was just writing a letter to George Reynolds' mother.
I knew this one would be the hardest."

"You were fond of him, weren't you, sir?" asked Aeryn.

"Yes, I was.  He was one of my best Junior Lieutenants.  But that's not
the only reason."  McGregor gestured to a box sitting beside his desk. 
"Those are some of Reynold's personal effects," continued McGregor.
"Take out a small black case from the box, open it, and tell me what
you see."

Crichton reached into the box and retrieved a small black, leather
case.  When he opened it, John saw a black medal with white stars and
an engraving of the Earth on it.  There were words on the medal that
Crichton read aloud.

" 'The Line, in Gratitude and Memory,'" read Crichton. 

"What does it mean?" asked Aeryn.

"That belonged to Reynolds' father," replied McGregor.  "He was killed
at the Battle of the Line.  That medal was awarded to him postumously,
his family received it.  George was born three months after his father
was killed.  He never knew his father.  The only connection Reynold's
had with his father was Earth Force, that's part of the reason why he
joined.  Reynold's mother never remarried, never had any more children.
Now, I have to write a letter telling her that she has not only lost a
husband, but her only son as well."

"I'm sorry," said Crichton quietly, to no one in particular.  He closed
the case, and placed the medal back in the box of Reynold's personal

McGregor stared back out the window at the stars.  "I sometimes feel
that is the only thing that comes out of war.  Mothers weeping for
their lost children."

"Sir," began Aeryn.  "You and your crew have accomplished much in this
battle.  The Royal Colonies have been saved from the Scarrens.  In
exchange for your help, Empress Novia has promised to have every
resource at her government's disposal used to help Earth find a cure
for the Drakh plague."

"There is something else we have accomplished," added Crichton.  "Earth
intends to extend its contact with races in the Uncharted Territories,

"That seems to be the direction their going in," replied McGregor.

"Then its good we fought and won this battle, Captain," said Crichton. 
"We just helped the Sebacean Royal Colonies kick the crap out of the
Scarrens.  That's going to send a message.  Don't screw with Humans, or
we'll knock you down."

McGregor turned his gaze back to Crichton and Aeryn.  "I know.  Believe
me, I know we have accomplished very practical and worthwhile goals
here.  Practically and morally, we have done the right thing.  I know
that in my heart.  Its just...its just hard to see the big picture
right now when I am doing..."he gestured to the terminal on his desk
with the Reynolds letter on the screen, "when I am doing this."

"I understand," said Crichton.  "Is there anything we can do?"

McGregor considered for a moment.  "Yes, maybe there is.  Empress Novia
has offered to provide a place for our dead to be buried on the Royal
Planet.  Hancock is busy overseeing the repairs, and someone needs to
oversee the transfer of the bodies to the planet.  Do you think..."

"We'll see to it, sir," answered Aeryn.  "I'm surprised your not
burying them in space, like you did Grant."

"I was going to.  Unfortunately, we can't take them home for burial.
Burial in space is standard procedure.  But when the Empress made her
offer, I remembered something General George Patton said once."

"General Patton?" asked Aeryn.

"An Earth general from our Second World War, a few hundred years ago,"
replied McGregor.  "Patton once said that 'the boundaries of your
empire are made by the graves of your soldiers.' He believed this so
much that when he died in an accident not long after the war, he
requested that he be buried near the European battlefields where he
fought.  I've decided to bury our dead on the Royal Planet because it
will be a reminder of the courage of our people, and of the sacrifice
we made for the Royal Colonies.  It should help to cement our new found

"We'll get on it right away, sir," said Crichton.

"Thank you," said McGregor. "Oh, before you go, I have something for

The Captain walked over to Aeryn, picking up a small box from his desk
along the way.  "LtJG Crichton, come to attention."

Aeryn responded by snapping to attention.  McGregor continued.
"Lieutenant Junior Grade Aeryn Sun-Crichton, the rank of LtJG. is one
at which Earth Force officers have a chance to prove their command and
leadership ability to their superiors.  You have done so in this crisis
and at the Battle of JL-327 4 years ago.  Therefore, on my authority as
a Captain in Earth Force, I herby promote you to the rank of full
Lieutenant.  Commander Crichton, would you please help me pin the
Lieutenant's insignia on your wife's uniform?"

Crichton's smiled filled his face.  "I'd be honored, Captain."

As Aeryn stood at attention, Captain McGregor and Commander Crichton
pinned on her Lieutenant's insignia.  She stood tall, beaming with
pride as she received her promotion. Then, Captain McGregor shook
Aeryn's hand.  "Congratulations, Lt. Crichton," said McGregor.  "You've
earned it."

Crichton then took Aeryn in his arms and kissed her.  She was a little
embarrassed about being kissed in front of Captain McGregor, but she
allowed the gesture.  "I am so proud of you, baby," said Crichton.

"Thank you, John." She turned to McGregor.  "Thank you, sir."

"It'll have to be a field promotion for now," said McGregor, "until I
can get it approved by Earth Force Command when I get back.  But that
shouldn't be a problem, not after they've read my reports about your
conduct.  Thank you both, for everything.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I
have to get back to this letter.  Dismissed."

"Aye, aye, sir," said Crichton and Aeryn simultaneously as they came to
attention.  They then turned and left.

McGregor was about to return to his letter, when he heard another knock
at the door.

"Come in," he said.

A young Lieutenant Junior Grade, Michael Forester, came into the room. 
He came to attention.  "Sir," began Forester, "LtJG. Forester
requesting permission to speak to the Captain, sir."

McGregor smiled at the young, eager officer.  "Permission granted.  At
ease, Lieutenant.  Have a seat."

"Thank you, sir," replied Forester, as he and McGregor sat down.

"Now, what can I do for you, Forester?"

"Well, sir.  I know this is not exactly a good time, but I wanted to do
this as soon as possible.  You see, sir, according to regulations, I
have to get permission from my superior to marry someone if I am
currently deployed in the field."

"That's correct, Lieutenant," replied McGregor.  "Do you intend to
marry someone?"

"Yes, sir.  I asked her before we left to fight the Scarrens, and she
accepted.  She's a Sebacean woman, sir, from the Royal Planet."

"I see," said McGregor with a smile.  "Lieutenant, I have a few
questions I must ask you.  First, this young woman, her name is..."

"Lollel, sir.  Lollel Ranar.  She's a servant in the palace, sir."

"I see.  Well, she does know that marrying you means leaving the Royal
Planet and going to Earth?  Unless you intend to desert."

"No, sir.  I mean, she knows sir.  She has no family, they were killed
in an accident when she was a child.  Lollel was taken into the palace
as a royal ward, of sorts.  She wants to go with me."

"Okay.  Next, are you being coerced in any way to marry her?"

"No, sir," he replied.

"Are you ready to support her, to support a family?"

"Yes, sir.  I know this is a big change, and I know we are different
races, and all that. married a Sebacean woman, sir.  This
gave us the courage to follow our hearts, and to say to hell with what
anyone else might say.  Sorry, sir, for the language."

"Its alright, Lieutenant," said McGregor with a smile.  "I have one
more question for you.  Do you love her?"

Forester smiled.  "Yes, sir.  More than my life, sir."

"Very well, Lieutenant.  I'll grant you the permission you need, on one

"Yes, sir?"

"That I be invited to the wedding," said McGregor.

"Yes, sir.  We'd be honored, sir.  Thank you, sir."

"Your welcome.  Congratulations, Lieutenant.  Dismissed."

Forester came to attention.  "Aye, aye, sir."  He turned and left
McGregor sitting at his desk.

The Captain sat there for a moment, smiling.  Then, he remembered what
he was working on before Forester came in.  McGregor frowned, and
returned his attention back to the letter to Reynolds' mother.


McGregor descended from the shuttle to the landing pad at the palace on
the Royal Planet.  He was greeted by a member of the palace guard, who
was there to lead him into the palace.  Before they could proceed, a
woman stepped out onto the landing pad.  McGregor sighted the woman,
and knew immediately who it was.

Robert ran across the pad and took Jenavia McGregor into his arms.  She
squealed with delight at feeling her husbands arms around her again.
They embraced for a moment, and then exchanged a passionate kiss.

"Jena," said Robert.  "My God, its good to see you!"  He kissed her
again, and held her close to him.

"My dear," she replied.  "Are you alright?  I heard you were

"Shh, its nothing, baby.  Just a wounded shoulder.  It'll mend."  He
looked at her, running his hand through her long, flowing hair.  "You
look like your doing better.  How's the baby?"

"Fine, Robert.  We're both doing fine.  I have some news about the
baby, but it will have to wait.  Empress Novia sent me to greet you,
but asked me to bring you to her as soon as possible."

"You've been talking to her?"

"Yes.  She knew that I would want to be here when you arrived.  Come
on.  She's waiting."

The couple walked arm and arm into the palace, escorted to the Empress
by the guard.  They entered the main hall to the sound of applause, as
almost every member of the Royal Court greeted the returning Captain.

Empress Novia came forward, closely followed by Counselor Barusa and
General Mestra.  Robert and Jenavia both bowed to the Empress, who
quickly motioned for them to stand tall.

The Empress then began to speak.  "Captain McGregor, when you came to
our world almost two monen ago, we greeted you with courtesy, but also
trepidation.  In that time, you and your crew have proven yourselves to
be people of principle and honor, and this hopefully signals the
beginning of what will be a profitable and friendly relationship
between our two races.  You and your crew have also contributed greatly
to the salvation of our colonies from the Scarren invasion.  For that,
we owe you our greatest gratitude.  General."

General Mestra came forward and placed a medal in Empress Novia's hand.
She then placed the medal around McGregor's neck.  "Captain McGregor,"
she began, "for conspicuous gallantry and service to our colonies, I
herby bestow on you the Medallion of Merit, our highest military

Captain McGregor looked down at the golden medal hanging from his neck,
then returned his gaze to the Empress.  "Thank you, Majesty.  I know
that my crew and I will never forget our visit to your colonies, or
your courtesy and generosity.  I look forward to closer relations
between our two peoples."

The reception lasted for several hours, as Robert and Jenavia mingled
with the various guests.  Crichton, Aeryn, Hancock, Crais, and several
officers from the Indy also joined the reception.  

Crichton and Aeryn noticed that Crais seemed to be spending most of his
time with a young woman with blond hair and fair skin.  Crais ended up
leaving the reception early with the woman on his arm.

"Well, well, well," said Crichton.  "I wonder if that was his other
motive for joining the fight to defend the Royal Colonies."

"We don't know that," replied Aeryn.  "She could be someone he just

"Hmm, I wonder if he would tell us if we asked him," said Crichton.

"I doubt it," said Aeryn.  The two returned their attention to the

As the reception ended, Robert and Jenavia went to their quarters.  It
was the same room Robert had been staying in while on the planet.
Jenavia had moved in there from the medical unit when she was released.

They entered their quarters and closed the door.  Robert sat on the bed
and took off his uniform jacket and undershirt.  Jenavia helped him as
he ached from his shoulder wound.  She then kneeled behind McGregor on
the bed and began to massage his bare shoulders and back.  Robert
reveled in her relaxing ministrations, moaning with pleasure as she
worked on his muscles.

"So," began Robert.  "You had something to tell me about the baby."

"Yes," she replied.  "I had a test done on the baby while in the
medical unit.  You see, we have the technology which allows us to
determine...Well, let's just say that the tests showed her to be
perfectly healthy."

McGregor pondered what she said for a moment, picking up some hidden
meaning to it.  It was then that it hit him.  "Her," he said with a

Robert turned around to face a smiling Jenavia.  "Yes, Robert," she
replied.  "It's a girl."

McGregor's face filled with a beaming smile.  He grabbed Jenavia and
pulled her into his arms, laughing like a madman.  "A baby girl! Oh,
baby, we're going to have a baby girl!"  Robert kissed Jenavia, and she
began to laugh with joy as well.

"I take it your pleased," said Jena.

"Oh, well, I would have been pleased no matter what the baby was,
but...I have to admit, having a baby girl...." He looked up at Jena.
"You know, if she looks anything like her mother, she is going to be
one beautiful young lady."

The couple kissed once again, holding on to each other tightly.  Robert
groaned, as his wounded shoulder registered some discomfort.  

"Are you alright?" she said with some concern.  "I didn't hurt you."

"No, its fine, honey.  It just aches a little, that's all."

A mischievous look then came over Jenavia's face.  "Well, I'm sure I
can do something to take your mind off of that," she said, as she began
to reach for the fasteners of Robert's pants.

Robert reached for the straps to Jenavia's blouse.  "I'm sure you can."

They began to kiss as they undressed each other and laid down on the


The last week the Indefatigable was on the Royal Planet saw a whirlwind
of conclusions and goodbyes.  The Earth Force officers killed in the
battle with the Scarrens were laid to rest in an elaborate funeral,
attended by the Empress and many members of the Royal Court, as well as
officers and crewman from the Indy, Crichton, Aeryn, Jenavia, and even
Crais.  The bodies were interned in a field outside of the capital
city, where a monument would later be added to salute the bravery of
the Earth Force soldiers who participated in the defense of the

Captain McGregor gave the eulogy at the funeral.  "I am reminded," said
McGregor in his eulogy, "of some words spoken on a similar occasion by
an old Earth President named Abraham Lincoln.  In a famous oratory
known as the Gettysburg Address, he said the following: 'We have come
here to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting- place for
those who here gave their lives, that this nation might live.  It is
altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But, in a larger
sense, we can not dedicate-we can not consecrate-we can not hallow-this
ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have
consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world
will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never
forget what they did here.  It is for us the living, rather, to be
dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have
thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated
to the great task remaining before us...that we here highly resolve
that these dead shall not have die in vain..."

In final diplomatic discussions, a treaty of friendship and formal
diplomatic relations was reached between the Earth Alliance and the
Sebacean Royal Colonies.  McGregor would carry these papers back to his
government to be signed into law.  He would also carry papers from
Empress Novia to be delivered to the Interstellar Alliance and several
other governments, initiating diplomatic contact.  Over the years to
come, the Royal Colonies and the Earth Alliance would increase contact
and strengthen their ties.  This would be aided in the future by a
promise from the Earth Alliance to give priority to extending the
hyperspace beacon system in the direction of the Royal Colonies, and to
someday provide the Sebaceans there with hyperspace jump technology.  

One of the happiest occasions of the week saw Robert and Jenavia attend
the wedding of LtJG Michael Forester and Lollel Ranar.  The couple was
joined by both the Chaplain from the Indy and by a Sebacean official,
in a small ceremony, attended by a few friends of Lollel's and
Michael's.  They were a lovely young couple who seemed to be very happy
with one another.

Moya arrived after being contacted by Crichton and Aeryn.  Anxious to
be reunited with their son, they asked D'Argo to bring Jack down to the
planet.  After the transport pod landed, D'Argo got out with a happy
little boy who ran into his mother's waiting arms.  Aeryn picked him up
and held him tight, kissing his forehead.  She then handed him over to
his father, who gave him an equally big hug.  The Crichton family
stayed on the planet until the next day, before saying their goodbyes. 
McGregor offered to take them back to Earth, but the Crichtons stated
that they wanted to stay on Moya.  They intended to visit Earth soon,
but Moya was their home.

The next day, the officers and crew of the Indefatigable said goodbye
to the citizens of the Royal Colonies.  Empress Novia again asserted
her promise to McGregor that her people would aid Earth in searching
for a cure to the Drakh plague.  The Captain left the Sebacean
scientists and Doctors information and samples of the plague for them
to work with.  After an elaborate farewell ceremony, the Indy left with
her crew, as well as the new wives of Captain McGregor and LtJG

As the Indy proceeded back through the Uncharted Territories, Jenavia's
pregnancy progressed.  She began to acquaint herself with Human society
and customs with the help of the ship's computer banks and members of
the crew.  Several female officers in the crew took it upon themselves
to help Jenavia and Lollel get used to the culture of women in Human

Five months later, after almost a full year away from home, the EAS
Indefatigable jumped out of hyperspace at the transfer point in the
orbit around IO, one of the moons of Jupiter.  Jenavia looked at the
giant planet through a window, with Robert right behind her.  She
leaned into her husband's embrace, as he wrapped his arms around her
pregnant belly.  He kissed her neck, and whispered in her ear.
"Welcome home," he said.


The officers and crew of the Indy were welcomed home with open arms as
heroes.  The faces of Captain McGregor and his officers were plastered
all over ISN (the Interstellar News Network) as the Captain and crew of
the first Earth ship to pierce the Uncharted Territories and make
contact with the Sebacean Royal Colonies.  There was also much media
attention paid to the fact that the hero of the hour, Robert McGregor,
returned to Earth space with a pregnant Sebacean wife.  Many humans
were unnerved by the interspecies marriage, but a large majority were
attracted to the story as a great romantic adventure.  'Dashing young
Captain sweeps Royal Courtier off of her feet.'  Of course, McGregor
didn't tell anyone, including his superiors, about Jenavia's former
status as a Peacekeeper spy.

Although McGregor and his crew were granted a heroes' welcome, Earth
Gov and Earth Force Command had plenty of questions for McGregor.  They
poured over his reports, the treaties he made with the Sebacean Royal
Colonies' government, every data recorder, the ship's logs.  The Earth
authorities went over everything with a fine tooth comb, and put
McGregor and his officers through debriefing after debriefing on the
events that took place over the year they were away.

The Earth officials had plenty to say and ask about McGregor's decision
to intercede in the war between the Sebaceans and the Scarrens.
Senator Redwave pointed out in hearings on the matter that Earth Gov
did not send McGregor out there to get involved in another war.  That
there was plenty of war to fight back at home against the Drakh if he
wanted to fight so much.  McGregor was forced to defend his actions,
citing Earth Force law, regulations, and precedents.

There were other questions about the death of Lt. Commander Thomas
Grant, about interspecies relations between Humans and Sebaceans while
the Indy was at the Royal Planet, about Sebacean technology, the
assessment of the possible threat posed to the Earth Alliance by the
Scarrens, about Captain McGregor's encounter with a Sebacean assassin
who tried to kill his new Sebacean wife, just to name a few things.
The hearings and debriefings went on for months.

Three months after returning to Earth space, the final hearings into
the Indefatigable's expedition were concluded.  Captain McGregor was
found to have acted within Earth Force law and regulations, and was
commended for his performance in independent command under difficult
circumstances.  He was awarded another Distinguished Service Medal and
Star Cluster Medal for courage under fire, and several of the Indy's
officers were also awarded medals for bravery and service.

McGregor exited the Earth Force headquarters on Mars and walked into a
nearby park.  When he got to the park, he could see a woman wearing a
sun dress and holding a baby under the sunlight shining through the
protective dome above them.  Robert walked over to his wife, Jenavia,
and took his baby girl into his arms.

Katherine McGregor, or "Katie" as Robert and Jena called her, smiled at
her Daddy as he played with her and spoke to her.  "And how is my
pretty little Katie girl this morning?" he said in a playful voice.

Jenavia put her arms around him, and rested her head on his shoulder.
"She's been missing you, I think.  Its been hard to keep her quiet."

"Ah, well, I've missed both my ladies, too," replied Robert, as he
kissed Jenavia on the lips.  

Robert handed Katie back to Jenavia's waiting arms.  She kissed her
forehead, and laid her in her stroller.  Robert put his arms around
Jena, as she pushed the stroller forward.  The family walked slowly
through the park, content in their happy home that they have found with
each other.

The End