The Glorious Cause
Ian K.

Farscape-Babylon:  A Farscape/Babylon 5 Crossover Saga

Book Four: The Glorious Cause

By:  Ian K.

Rating:  R

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.
Their use by any other writer is prohibited without my permission.

Time Frame:  Takes place one year after the end of "the Invasion".
Farscape-25 years after end of Season 2.  Babylon 5-Earth Year 2287,
six years after "Sleeping in Light".

Chapter 1:  Opening the Door

Royal Planet, Sebacean Royal Colonies:

Earth Force Brigadier General James Hancock looked out the window of
his shuttle as it descended into the atmosphere of the Royal Planet,
capital of the Sebacean Royal Colonies.  He had been here before, the
first time as a Lieutenant on the EAS Indefatigable under then Captain
Robert McGregor's command.  That was an expedition that would jumpstart
many careers, including his.  Hancock returned many years later as
General McGregor's flag Captain when the General and his wife paid an
official visit to the Royal Colonies.

Now, Hancock returned on the Indefatigable as a General himself, and
charged with a diplomatic mission of dire importance.  He was here to
secure permission from the Empress to use the Royal Colonies as a
staging area for an Interstellar Alliance fleet.  This fleet's mission
would be to invade Peacekeeper territory with the goal of taking down
their regime.

It would not be an easy task.  The Royal Colonies were noted for their
tenacious grip on neutrality in matters of wars and conflicts between
other systems.  They had reluctantly agreed to open relations with the
Interstellar Alliance twenty years ago, doing so for the benefits that
would be gained in trade and eventual access to hyperspace jump
technology.  This same technology now made the Royal Colonies a prime
staging area for the ISA's fleet, which would use the Royal Colony jump
gates to access the Uncharted Territories.

It had been a year since the Peacekeeper invasion of the Earth Alliance
had been defeated.  In that time, ISA President Delenn and Earth
Alliance President Schroeder have pushed for a counter-invasion of
Peacekeeper territory to permanently remove the Peacekeeper threat to
the galaxy.  The call was answered by four member worlds of the ISA:
Earth, Minbar, Centauri Prime, and Narn.  The rest of the member worlds
were too small and not powerful enough to send military forces as far
away as Peacekeeper space.

In the previous year's time, these worlds prepared a massive fleet of
180 warships to mount the invasion of Peacekeeper space.  As the
warships assembled, they were all equipped with the latest weaponry
available, and were all outfitted with hetch drives to allow them to
travel faster through normal space.  The ships were also modified to
operate at a much longer range capacity. 

The plan was to use hyperspace travel to get to the Royal Colonies,
cutting the travel time to get there from 5 months to 1 month.  Once
there, they would use their hetch drives to proceed through the
Uncharted Territories to Peacekeeper territory.  They would rely upon
navigational data provided by John and Aeryn Crichton, previous
expeditions to the Uncharted Territories, and information they could
hopefully secure from the Royal Colonies.

This would be a multi-faceted conflict fought against the Peacekeepers.
Even with the fleet they had assembled, the ISA can not take down the
Peacekeepers alone at such a long distance.  It was hoped that
cooperation and military support could be secured from other races who
lived in this region of the galaxy that would gladly see the
Peacekeeper threat removed. So besides fighting an open conflict with
the Peacekeepers, this would also be a diplomatic and intelligence war
in which the ISA would use its powers of persuasion to get other worlds
to sign on.

Hancock's mission to the Royal Planet was the first step.  After his
shuttle touched down on the landing pad at the Royal Palace, the
General stepped out of his shuttle and was greeted by Counselor Barusa.

"General Hancock," said Barusa, as he greeted the Human with a
handshake as called for by Earth custom.  "It is good to see you

"And you, Counselor," said Hancock, returning the handshake.  "Its
been, what...five years, sorry, cycles, since my last trip here."

"That's right," said Barusa.  "By the way, congratulations on your

"Thank you," replied Hancock.  "Now, if I may speak to the Empress.  It
is urgent."

"Of course," said Barusa.  "Follow me."

Counselor Barusa led General Hancock through the corridors of the
palace to the Empress' personal office.  Upon entering the room, he was
greeted by the sight of Empress Novia, who rose from her chair and
walked over to greet the Earth Force General warmly.

"General Hancock," said the Empress.  Hancock bowed before the ruler of
the Sebacean Royal Colonies, who quickly motioned for him to right
himself.  "Welcome back to our world."

"Thank you, Majesty," replied Hancock.  "It is an honor to be in your
presence again."

"Yes, well, I must say that it was a surprise to us all when we
received a communication from Earth, telling us to expect the
Indefatigable to arrive on official business," replied the Empress.
"Since the matter seems urgent, I thought we might forgo the
pleasantries and get to the business at hand."

The Empress motioned Hancock to sit down at a conference table with her
and Counselor Barusa. "Now, General," she said, "What has brought you
here with such urgency?"

"As you know, Majesty," began Hancock, "the Earth Alliance was invaded
by a Peacekeeper fleet a cycle ago.  We took heavy losses, but were
able to destroy almost all of their fleet and send the remainder of it
back to where it came from."

"Yes," said Empress Novia.  "Word of your victory has spread throughout
the territories and beyond.  It is not often that a Peacekeeper fleet
returns nearly obliterated and defeated.  My congratulations to you and
your people.  But what has this to do with your visit?"

"Empress Novia," said Hancock.  "The Interstellar Alliance feels that
the Peacekeepers will continue  to be a threat to our security in the
future.  We have decided not to live in fear of a future Peacekeeper
threat, and have committed ourselves to take the initiative.  The ISA
has organized a fleet of 180 warships to strike at Peacekeeper

Empress Novia and Counselor Barusa were both shocked by what they just
heard.  Half startled, Barusa barely managed to speak.  "With...with
what goal?"

"The destruction of Peacekeeper High Command, and their armed forces,"
replied Hancock directly.  "We are going to take them down."

"You don't know what you are saying," said Empress Novia.  "The
Peacekeepers have been a force of power and strength for a thousand
cycles.  No other race has been able to defeat them entirely.  And now,
your Alliance intends to swoop in from another part of the galaxy and
do it.  Impossible."

"Majesty, our alliance draws strength from the fact that we are
combined force of several worlds," replied Hancock.  "Hopefully, with
the help of other powers in this region of the galaxy, we can lift the
yoke of Peacekeeper oppression and end generations of fear of the

"Wait," said Barusa.  "You mentioned the cooperation of other powers in
this region.  Is that why you are here, hoping we will join you in this

"General," said Empress Novia.  "If that is the reason you are here,
you might as well leave.  You should know that the Royal Colonies
maintain a policy of not interfering in outside conflicts.  We will not
aid you in this fight."

"We are not asking for that, Majesty," said Hancock.  "What my
government is asking for is permission to use your space as a staging
area, a jumping off point, to attack the Peacekeepers.  We need to use
the beacons in hyperspace parallel to your territory.  Our fleet will
jump into normal space in your territory, regroup our forces, and move
on.  That's all."

"That's ALL," said Empress Novia with astonishment.  "If I allowed you
to do this, we would still be committing ourselves to your side.  If
you loose, the Peacekeepers would exact a price against us."

"Empress Novia," replied Hancock, "the Peacekeepers will not act
directly against you.  That would risk provoking other powers like the
Scarrens into a conflict with them.  You hold a strategic position in
the Uncharted Territories, and the powers out here would not allow a
Peacekeeper move against you to go unchallenged.  Now, the Peacekeepers
might be able to handle them, but not them and US."

"That may or may not be true," replied Empress Novia.  "I am reluctant
to take that risk.  I am also reluctant to support a war against the
Peacekeepers for other reasons.  Namely, the fact that you would be
directing a war against fellow Sebaceans, against Sebacea itself.  I
can not support that."

"Majesty," said Hancock.  "Our war is not with the Sebacean people.
Our war is with the Peacekeepers, and their military structure.  If we
can take down their regime, we would also be liberating the Sebacean
people themselves, allowing them to live free.  Empress Novia, the
Sebaceans would be far better off without the Peacekeepers, you know
that.  That is why your ancestors founded these colonies to begin with,
to live without the oppressive boot of the Peacekeepers lording over
them. And there is something else to consider.  The Peacekeepers
invaded our space to get at hyperspace jump technology.  Now, they
haven't tried to get it from you probably because of the problems an
invasion of your territory would cause with other powers like the
Scarrens.  But, since their invasion of Earth failed, they may change
their mind."

"Majesty," said Barusa, "what he is saying makes sense."

"Barusa," said Empress Novia, "are you advising me to go along with

Barusa was hesitant to respond, but finally did so.  "Majesty, since we
opened contact with Hancock's people, we have found them to be friends
to our people, a power we could trade with and work with.  But above
all, you have said before, that the Humans and their allies have proven
to be people we can trust.  Now, they wish to end the Peacekeeper
threat to the security of the galaxy, and free our brothers and sisters
from their regime.  Yes, Majesty, I advise you to provide the aid
requested by the ISA."

Empress Novia looked at Barusa for a long moment.  She then rose, and
walked over to a window and looked out on the capital of her beloved
colonies.  Her actions in this matter could decided the fate of not
just her world, but many others.

"My Counselor," began Empress Novia, "is not a man given to hasty
decisions or advice.  He is a contemplative, and thoughtful man, and
one whom I have relied upon for his informed council.  But, I need more
time before I decided."

"Majesty," said General Hancock.  "I don't want to pressure you,
but...our fleet is already on the way.  It should arrive in a weeken.
If your decision is no, then I will have to jump into hyperspace and
tell them to turn back.  If it is yes, then they will arrive here in a
weeken's time.  I know this is a difficult decision, but I beg of you
to make it as soon as possible."

Without turning around, Empress Novia replied.  "I will decide as soon
as I can.  Thank you General.  You are dismissed."

Peacekeeper High Command, Sebacea:

In a conference room within the headquarters of the Peacekeeper High
Command, Admiral Talkron Mattoc, head of the High Command Council,
stood looking at a holo-diagram of Earth Alliance space.  It had been
seven months since Scorpius had returned to Peacekeeper space in
defeat, coming back with only four command carriers when he started
with fifty.  Since then, the High Command Council had been in debate as
to what action to take next in regards to the Humans and their allies.

He was in a meeting with the High Command Council, Admiral Scorpius,
and a Peacekeeper Disruptor named Alastra Tial.  She had been a deep
cover operative who had lived on Earth for 3 cycles, and was there to
advise the Council about the Humans.

"So, Disruptor Tial," said Admiral Mattoc, "it is your conviction that
the Humans and their allies will attempt to strike back at us."

"Yes, sir," replied Tial.  "The history of the Humans points to a
species that is resilient, and one who strikes when provoked into
action.  We have invaded their territory, killed many of their people,
destroyed many of their proudest ships.  They will strike back."

"Admiral," broke in another member of the Council, Admiral Lanis Jol,
"I find it hard to believe that these Humans could mount an expedition
to our territory.  They rely on hyperspace travel for long range
expeditions, yet do not have beacons near our territory.  They have
been dealt a heavy blow to their forces, one that will take them time
to regroup from.  I do not believe the Humans have the capability or
the will to strike back."

"Admiral Mattoc, sir," said Tial, "if I may speak freely."

"Of course, Disruptor Tial," replied Mattoc.  "That's what you are here

"With all due respect to Admiral Jol, he does not know the Humans like
I do."

"Oh, I would be I don't," said Jol sarcastically.  "I'm sure Disruptor
Tial knows quite a lot of 'intimate' information about Humans.  Well,
Human males at least."

"I am a Disruptor," said Tial in response.  "We are charged to use
whatever means necessary to accomplish our mission.  I am a woman, and
I have used my femininity to gather information.  It is a good tool,
because when men are distracted in bed, they often don't know what a
tongue can be good for." She said that last part with a direct look at
Admiral Jol.

"Enough," said Mattoc.  "Tial, you were going to provide some
'relevant' information before on the Humans.  I suggest you do it."

"Of course, sir," replied Tial.  "The Humans are a people will go to
any length to strike back when angered.  Their history is filled with
circumstances where they are attacked without warning, and angered into
a holy crusade to exact revenge from their enemies.  If angered enough,
the Humans will find a way to strike."

"Admiral Scorpius," said Mattoc.  "You have had much experience with
the Humans.  Would you agree with the Disruptor."

"Yes, sir," said Scorpius.  "The Humans will not simply leave the
situation as it is.  They will strike."

"Admiral Mattoc," said Admiral Jol.  "I simply can not agree.
Logistically, it is nearly impossible.  Admiral Scorpius and Disruptor
Tial are speaking based on conjecture and supposition.  Where is the
evidence to back up those assumptions?"

"I must agree with Admiral Jol," said Admiral Mattoc.  "Until more
evidence of some kind of threat from the Humans and their allies comes
before us, we will consider the matter closed.  This expedition to
Earth space was a disaster, and we can't afford to waist resources and
time preparing for what is most likely a nonexistent threat.  We have
other concerns to deal with."

(One Week Later)

Sebacean Royal Colony Space:

Empress Novia, Counselor Barusa, and several other Sebacean Royal
Colony officials and military officers stood on the bridge of the
Indefatigable as guests of General Hancock.  The General approached the
Sebacean party with news.

"Majesty," he said to the Empress.  "They are jumping in now."

General Hancock turned to match his gaze with those of his guests to
the forward bridge viewscreens. The Sebaceans watched in wonder as 180
hyperspace jump points opened into normal space.  Out of each one of
these jump points came a warship of various types.

The fleet was made up of fifty Earth Force destroyers and cruisers,
forty Minbari war cruisers, twenty-five Centauri warships, twenty-five
Narn heavy cruisers, thirty White Stars, and ten ISA Victory class
destroyers.  The fleet was under the overall command of Entilza Susan
Ivanova, with commanders from each government commanding their
respective military's forces.  

Empress Novia had decided to allow the ISA fleet to use Royal Colony
space as a staging area.  It may not have been the safe decision, but
she felt it was the correct one.  She gave her trust to the Humans and
their allies, and now the door had been opened for the ISA forces to
reawaken the now dormant war with the Peacekeepers.  Only now, the war
would be taken to the Peacekeepers.

Chapter 2:  The War Council

Entilza Susan Ivanova made her way to the main conference room aboard
her flag ship, the Excalibur.  The previous day, all 180 ships of her
fleet arrived at their destination in the Sebacean Royal Colonies after
a month in flight through hyperspace.  Since then, the ISA, Earth,
Minbari, Centauri, and Narn warships of the fleet have formed up
according to plan and have all reported ready for deployment.  Now,
Ivanova needed to speak with the principal officers of her fleet about
the operational plan for their invasion of Peacekeeper territory.

When she entered the conference room, the group of officers rose from
their seats to welcome the Entilza.  Ivanova looked on a room occupied
by members of several races both from ISA territory and the region of
the galaxy near Peacekeeper territory.  She motioned for them all to
sit, and they did so around a large conference table.

The mixed group of officers included Ivanova's fleet commanders.
General Abduhl Kemal, the commander of the Earth Force fleet, was a
Turkish officer who had served under General Robert McGregor during the
Peacekeeper invasion.  He had distinguished himself in the Battles of
Signet and Delphi, and was appointed commander of the Earth fleet after
General McGregor was relieved of his command.  Admiral Lakhat was the
commander of the Minbari fleet, having led the Minbari forces in two
victories against Peacekeeper forces during the invasion.  The Centauri
and Narn fleet commanders, Admiral Rollo Tukari and War Leader G'Stan
(respectively), also led forces against the Peacekeepers at the Battle
of Delphi.

Besides the fleet commanders, there were several others who joined the
meeting.  Brigadier General James Hancock was there as head of Fleet
Intelligence and Covert Operations.  Captain John Crichton and newly
promoted Captain Aeryn Sun-Crichton were there as fleet advisors.  Ka
D'Argo, a crewmate of John's and Aeryn's from Moya, was there as an
official Interstellar Alliance Ambassador appointed by President
Delenn.  Rygel XVI, deposed Dominar of the Hynerian Empire (and also a
crew member of Moya), was also at the meeting.  As part of the
conditions of allowing the ISA's fleet to mobilize in their space,
Empress Novia has sent Counselor Barusa to be a part of this strategy
session in order for the Empress to be informed about how this war
would be conducted.

Entilza Ivanova now sat at the head of the table in front of this mixed
group, and began the meeting.  "This is a meeting of what I will call
the War Council of this fleet.  All of you are here for a specific
purpose, and all but Counselor Barusa accompanied this fleet through a
month's journey in hyperspace because you will play a vital role in
this conflict.  I will begin with the order of battle for the fleet
itself, before going on to intelligence and diplomatic operations."

Ivanova activated a holographic display, that hovered over the
conference table and displayed a map of Peacekeeper territories.  Their
space itself was not that massive, but it was a concentrated one, made
up of the various world settled by Sebaceans and ruled by the
Peacekeeper government.  Plus, there were other areas that the
Peacekeepers controlled inhabited by other races who have hired them to
maintain order, or have had order thrust upon them by the Peacekeepers.

"Okay," began Ivanova, "this is how we are going to go about this.  The
fleet will be divided up into three sections.  I will command the main
section of the fleet, which will consist of the ISA destroyers and
White Stars, as well as the Centauri and Narn sections of the fleet.
We are going to advance towards the center of Peacekeeper territory,
starting with taking their colonies here and here." She said the last
part while indicating the areas she was referring to with a laser
pointer.  "The other two sections will be the Earth Force fleet and the
Minbari fleet.  Your jobs will be to move on the relative flanks of
Peacekeeper controlled territories, starting by liberating several non-
Sebacean worlds controlled by the Peacekeepers, before moving on
Peacekeeper home territory to the left and right of the main line of
advance.  Admiral Lakhat, your Minbari forces will move on the right
flank, taking Delvia and several other worlds before moving on Sebacean
territory.  General Kemal, you and the Earth Force contingent will move
on the left, taking the Peacekeeper held worlds here, before moving
into Sebacean territory here. Hopefully, if all goes well, our forces
will converge on the Peacekeepers third largest population center,
Latrios.  From there, we move on their innermost colonies and, finally,
Sebacea itself.  Are there any questions?"

"Yes," said War Leader G'Stan, the Narn commander.  "Entilza Ivanova,
we are not going to be able to move against that much territory on our
own for long.  Perhaps, if we concentrated our forces, we could do it,

"No," said Ivanova.  "Look, we need to divide the Peacekeeper defenses,
keep them off balance by attacking on multiple fronts.  One thing we
learned at the Battles of Signet and Delphi is that the Peacekeepers
are more vulnerable if they have to defend against multiple threats.
But, you are right, we are going to need some help.  That's where
intelligence and diplomacy will come in.  General Hancock, if you will

"Yes, ma'm," he said.  "This is not going to just be a war fought on
the fleet level.  We are going to do some old fashioned
counterinsurgency ops, and rely on a little bit of wrangling to get
other races on board for this fight.  What we do know is that there are
plenty of races out here that don't like the Peacekeepers.  Several of
these races could contribute significantly to this war, but they won't
out of fear, or timidity, or because their governments are in bed with
the Peacekeepers.  Now, we've been in consultation with the Crichtons,
Ka D'Argo, and Rygel XVI, and we've come up with a way to hopefully get
two, maybe three powerful governments out here in the fight on our
side.  Ka D'Argo has been appointed as an Ambassador for the ISA.  He
is going to make contact with the Luxan government, and hopefully get
them to sign on."

"If I can convince my people," said D'Argo, "with both the promise of a
treaty of alliance with your governments, and other concessions, the
Luxans can also call on the Illonics, our genetics cousins and closest
allies, to join the cause.  Neither my people or the Illonics like the
Peacekeepers, but are not powerful enough to act on their own.  But
with the ISA's help, I can hopefully convince them that we can win.  If
the Luxans and Illonics commit, other races may as well."

"There is another government that we can hopefully secure help from,"
said Hancock.  "But, this is were covert ops is going to have to come
in.  We are hoping to secure an alliance with the Hynerian Empire."

"Wait," said General Kemal.  "I thought Rygel here was the 'deposed'
leader of that government.  Why would that government now follow him?"

"Because," began Hancock, "we are going to put Rygel back on his

With a smile, Rygel joined in the conversation.  "I was wrongly deposed
from my throne, both by the laws of our monarchy and by tradition.
With the help of the ISA, I can be returned to my throne.  Once that is
done, I pledge the full support of the Hynerian Navy to this

"Why would your people follow you?" asked Admiral Tukari, the Centauri
commander.  "You have been off of your throne for a long time."

"True," said Rygel.  "But my cousin has not been a kind and generous
ruler from what I understand.  He is a brutal tyrant, and was never fit
for the throne.  I can trace my lineage directly to the greatest rulers
of the empire.  My people will follow."

"We hope," added Hancock.

"Are there any questions on that front?" asked Ivanova.

Several questions were brought forth by various members of the council,
and discussed over a period of about a half hour.  When this was done,
Ivanova turned the briefing over to John and Aeryn, who were going to
go over some technical details about Peacekeeper military technology
and tactics.

Counselor Barusa opted to leave the meeting early, not needing to hear
a briefing on Peacekeeper tech and tactics.  As he did so, the
Counselor walked over to General Hancock, and whispered to him.

"Is there somewhere we can talk privately, General?" asked Barusa.

"Yes, of course," said Hancock with an expression of curiosity on his

Hancock led Barusa through the Excalibur's corridors to the bridge.
They entered the smaller bridge conference room, and Hancock asked two
Rangers who were there to leave him and Barusa alone.  After the two
officers left, Hancock closed the glass door to the conference room.

"Have a seat, Counselor," said Hancock.  Both men sat down.  "What's on
your mind?"

"General, the Empress asked me to speak with either you or Entilza
Ivanova about this," said Barusa.  "Since you are the head of
intelligence for your fleet, I choose you, since this matter falls
within your area."

"Sounds interesting already," said Hancock.  "What's up?"

"Empress Novia was reluctant to have you know about this, but felt that
it might be helpful to your people since you seem determined to go
through with this invasion.  In recent monens, we have heard rumors
about a renegade Peacekeeper command carrier that has taken refuge
somewhere in the Uncharted Territories."

"A renegade command carrier," said Hancock with great interest.  "Have
any of these rumors been confirmed?"

"There are two pieces of evidence that have come to our attention,"
said Barusa.  "The first was a report from the Jenaians that renegade
Peacekeepers had traded with them for a large amount of supplies, such
as food and medicines, about a monen ago.  The other was a report we
received several days before you arrived.  A Sheyang vessel arrived
here with products to sell that were Peacekeeper in origin.  They
claimed to have salvaged them from the wreck a Peacekeeper Vigilante
class warship that had been destroyed by a renegade command carrier."

"How did the Sheyangs know this?" asked Hancock.

"They watched the battle," said Barusa.  "The Sheyangs are scavengers. 
They hover near the site of battle, wait for one side to destroy the
other, and then swoop in and take what's left.  They watched the two
Peacekeeper ships fight one another, and waited for one to win."

"Like vultures sweeping in on a carcass," said Hancock.

"Vultures?" asked Barusa.

"Never mind," said Hancock.  "Do you know where this renegade carrier
may be found?"

"Not exactly," replied Barusa.  "But we can give you the information
about where the Sheyangs last saw the carrier."

"Good," said Hancock.  "I need to tell Ivanova about this immediately."

Later, General Hancock met in Ivanova in her quarters, along with John
and Aeryn.  He told them what Counselor Barusa had told him about this
renegade carrier.  Their reactions were ones of shock and disbelief.

"I can't believe it," said Aeryn.  "There must be some mistake.
Peacekeeper command carriers don't just go renegade."

"Um, Aeryn," broke in John.  "Remember your old buddy Crais."

"That's different," said Aeryn.  "He was obsessed with capturing you.
But why would this carrier go renegade?"

"Look," said Ivanova.  "We don't have a lot of facts here.  Just rumor,
for the most part, and a battle allegedly witnessed by these Sheyangs."

"True," said John.  "The Sheyangs aren't exactly the best one's to be
relied upon for truthful information.  But why would they lie?"

"I just still can't believe it," said Aeryn.  "I won't believe it until
I see it."

"Good idea," said Hancock.  "That's exactly what we should do."

"What are you talking about?" asked John.

"Here's how I see it," said Hancock.  "We potentially have a renegade
Peacekeeper command carrier.  If we could confirm this, and make
contact with them, maybe they would join the war on our side.  I could
take the Indefatigable, along with a Special Forces team, that could
work with them as sort of a liaison outfit.  Just think, if we can get
one Peacekeeper crew to sign on, others might as well."
"I don't know," said Ivanova.  "What about operations to put Rygel back
on his throne?"

"That's primarily being handled by the Rangers," said Hancock.  "I've
helped them plan it, but they are handling it from here.  If there is
truly a renegade carrier out there, I need to be the one to make

"He would be the logical choice," added John.  "He's an Earth Force
General, he has experience with the Peacekeepers, and he is the head of
Fleet Intelligence and Covert Ops."

"Come on, Susan," said Hancock.  "This may be a golden opportunity.
What do you say?"

Ivanova thought quietly for a moment before replying.  "Alright," she
said.  "You can take the Indefatigable, and a Special Forces team.
What else do you need?"

"I need John and Aeryn," said Hancock.  "As advisors.  Plus, they could
be valuable liaisons with these renegade Peacekeepers.  After all,
Aeryn IS a renegade Peacekeeper."

"What do you two say to that?" asked Ivanova.

"I'm game," said Crichton.

"As am I," said Aeryn.  "If there truly is a renegade carrier, I want
to see it for myself."

Chapter 3:  The First Steps

Entilza Susan Ivanova stood on the bridge of the Excalibur as her fleet
entered Peacekeeper territory.  It had been about 4 weeks since the War
Council meeting, where the plans for this war had been outlined and the
final details worked out.  A couple of days after that meeting, General
Hancock and the Crichtons set off on the Indefatigable in search for
the renegade command carrier.  She hadn't heard from them since, but
she didn't expect to.

Now, the section of the fleet under her command was about to make the
first strike against a Peacekeeper base on a planet called Yarga.  She
had ten Victory class destroyers, 35 White Stars, 25 Centauri warships,
and 25 Narn heavy cruisers under her command.  An impressive force to
be sure, and she was about ready to release it at their first target.

"Lennock," she said, speaking to her Minbari aid.  "Open a channel to
the fleet."

After a few moments, Lennock replied.  "Channel open."

"Attention all ships, this is Entilza Ivanova.  We are about the engage
the enemy for the first time.  Our forces may have the advantage of
surprise, although I'm sure they have detected us by now.  Remember, if
we engage command carriers, don't let them keep to their formations.
Separate them, single out a target, and destroy it, then move on the
next one.  The Victory class destroyers will take the center, while the
Centauri move against the left flank and the Narn against the right.
White Stars, your job is to get in there and mix it up with their
forces at close proximity.  Concentrate your fire on their smaller
capital ships and colonial defenses.  This is our first step, let's
make it a good one.  Ivanova out."

"Is it confirmed?" asked the Peacekeeper commander of the Yarga base to
his tactical officer.

"Yes, sir," replied the officer.  "The configurations match those of
warships belonging to the Interstellar Alliance and their member
worlds.  Nearly one hundred of them."

"Order all ships to engage!" yelled the base commander.  "And open a
channel to High Command."

The Peacekeepers activated their base defense screens and weapons
systems, and launched their squadrons of Prowlers and Marauders to
defend against the attack.  Four command carriers and two Vigilante
class warships berthed in orbit also came about to engage the enemy.

Ships on both sides launched their fighters, and the smaller ships
headed for each other like two swarms of insects on a collision course.
The fighters opened fire against each other first, and began to engage
in dog fights across the area of battle.  The White Stars accelerated
past the larger warships of Ivanova's fleet and swooped in on the
Peacekeeper forces, raining down fire on their orbital defense
platforms and base defenses.  

Meanwhile, the main warships of both sides opened fire.  Bursts of
heavy weapons fire filled the sky as the two fleets engaged one
another.  Fire from Peacekeeper frag cannons crashed into the defense
screens of Ivanova's ships, while her forces returned fire against the
carriers and Vigilantes.  Ivanova's ships did as they were instructed,
and forced the Peacekeeper ships to break formation and engage them on
all sides.  The ISA forces used the fact that they outnumbered the
Peacekeepers to their advantage.  Some of the ships swooped into the
Peacekeeper formations causing them to break and engage, while others
waited to single out a Peacekeeper target.  Once an enemy ship was
separated from the main group, anywhere from six to sixteen warships
would pounce on it and pound their way through the Peacekeeper defense
screens.  When they broke through the screens, one of Ivanova's Victory
class destroyers would finish off the carrier with their main guns.

The Peacekeeper warships were separated from their brethren, ganged up
on a destroyed, like a herd of wilder beasts being ravaged by a pride
of lions.  At the same time, the White Stars punched through the
defenses of the Peacekeeper base, and were now pulverizing the
Peacekeeper landing fields and military buildings on the planet below.

The battle was over in twenty minutes, and Ivanova's fleet gathered in
orbit around Yarga.  The Victory class destroyers targeted their main
guns on the Peacekeeper base.  Ivanova had one of her ships fire on a
target close to the main Peacekeeper base, pulverizing it with a
massive burst of destructive energy.  She then signaled the Peacekeeper

"This is Entilza Susan Ivanova, commanding the ISA fleet, to the
Peacekeeper base commander.  That last shot was a warning.  We will not
give another one.  Surrender your forces and your base at once, or I'll
have all ten of my Victory class destroyers fire on your base,
pulverizing it and you.  Comply at once."

At first, their was no response.  Ivanova was about to give the order
to fire, when she heard a voice reply to her command.  "This is Captain
Gregrin," said the Peacekeeper with a defeated tone.  "We...surrender."

"Good," said Ivanova.  "All personnel on your base will form up on the
Northern perimeter of your base.  Prepare to receive our forces when
they arrive.  No weapons, Gregrin, or my ships will open fire.  Ivanova

When the channel was closed, she turned to Lennock.  "Have the 2nd and
3rd ground assault units secure the base.  Tell them to expect
anything, and not trust those Peacekeeper bastards for a moment."

"Yes, Entilza," replied Lennock, before turning to carry out the order.

Ivanova turned and looked at Yarga, the first Peacekeeper held world
captured by her forces.  They had lost two White Stars and a Narn
cruiser in the battle, but had taken down four carriers, two Vigilante
class ships, and an enemy base.  "Not bad at all," she thought.  "But
next time it won't be so easy.  The Peacekeepers know we're here now,
and they'll be ready next time.  This is only the first step of many."

"Admiral Jol," said Admiral Mattoc, in a meeting with the Peacekeeper
command council.  "Have we heard anything more from Yarga?"

"Negative, sir," replied Jol.  "Nothing else since their initial
message.  We have repeatedly tried to contact them, but with no
success.  We must assume the base has been captured by ISA forces."

"ISA forces that I believe YOU said would never come," said Mattoc

"With all due respect, sir," replied Jol warily.  "It was an assessment
you agreed with."

"So we are both FRELLING NERFS for it!" yelled Mattoc.  "Sitting so
smug in our complacency.  Now, the enemy has taken us by surprise!"

A Peacekeeper Lieutenant brought in a message to another member of the
council, Admiral Karsten Polise.  After reading the message, she spoke
to Mattoc.  "Sir, we have just received a report from our forces in the
Delvian system.  They are under attack by a large fleet of Minbari war

"What?!" asked Mattoc in disbelief.  "Are they sure?"

"They have sent data to confirm it," replied Polise.  "At least thirty
Minbari ships, perhaps more."

"That means at least two major fleets are involved," said Jol.  "The
ones that attacked Yarga were, according to the message received, made
of up White Stars, ISA destroyers, as well as Centauri and perhaps Narn
warships.  Now, the Minbari are attacking in another area of our

"That means one thing," said Polise.  "Full scale invasion."

"Wait," said Mattoc.  "We have received reports of attacks by ISA,
Centauri, Minbari ships.  But none about attacks by Human warships.

"Perhaps they were part of these attacks," commented Jol, "and were not
mentioned in the messages we received."

Just then, another Peacekeeper officer came into the room and handed a
message to Mattoc.  He read it, and sighed.  "No," said Mattoc.  "My
fears have been proven correct.  This message states that a fleet of
Earth Force destroyers and cruisers have attacked our forces in the
Turenda system." He activated a control, and brought up a holographic
chart of Peacekeeper held space.  "The enemy seems to be undertaking a
three pronged attack, coming at us from the directions of Yarga,
Delvia, and Turenda.  Polise, what would you estimate to be their
numerical strength?"

"Taking into account the numbers seen at Yarga and Delvia, estimating
comparable numbers of enemy ships attacking Turenda, at least 150 enemy
ships, likely more?"

"It seems they are making an attempt to throw us off balance," said
Jol.  "Attacking from three directions.  But can they sustain that?"

"For a while," said Mattoc.  "My guess is they will probably converge
on one point eventually, bringing their forces together.  We must stop
that from happening."

"Where would they converge?" asked Jol.

"If they stay on a similar trajectory," said Mattoc.  "It looks like
their eventual destination could be Latrios.  That would be the most
valuable target on those converging vectors.  We will form three battle
groups to engage each of their fleets.  Our goal will be to wear them
down, force them to push harder and harder to get to Latrios.  This
should weaken them, allowing us to force their withdrawal from our
space.  But we have to keep them from coming together at Latrios, at
all costs."

"Sir," said Polise.  "What if they have other forces they haven't
committed yet?  Most of our fleet would have to be use to meet each of
the enemy battle groups."

"We will have to hope they don't have another fleet at the ready,"
replied Mattoc.  "If they do, we will have to reformulate our strategy.
Any questions?"

When no questions were forthcoming, Mattoc continued.  "Very well.
Now, let us go about the business of selecting fleet commanders."

"Sir," said Commander Gregory, General Hancock's second in command.
"Captains Crichton and Sun-Crichton's shuttle has just returned from
the planet's surface."

"Thank you commander," said Hancock.  "Have them report to the bridge."

"Aye, sir," replied Gregory.

The Indefatigable had been scurrying about the Uncharted Territories
for several weeks now, searching for this renegade command carrier they
have heard about.  They had started with the place where the carrier
was last sighted by the Sheyangs, and then proceeded to follow up on
any leads they came across (sightings, rumors, etc.).  So far, no trace
of their quarry.

John and Aeryn stepped onto the bridge and were greeted by General
Hancock.  "Well, anything?" asked Hancock.

"No, sir," replied Aeryn.  "No one down there claims to have seen a
command carrier in this area.  Of course, they could be lying."

"Yeah, but I don't think so," said John.  "As soon as we mentioned a
command carrier, they got pretty spooked, and seemed to want to
cooperate.  Peacekeeper command carriers skulking around tend to be bad
for commerce in an area, so they'd love to tell us where to find them
hoping we get rid of them."

Hancock turned and sat down in his command chair.  "Dammit," he said,
pounding his fist on the arm of the chair.  "That trader we ran into in
the last system seemed sure the carrier had been seen in this area.
Its been four weeks, and no trace.  I'm starting to think this is
turning into a useless enterprise."

"Not necessarily," said Aeryn.  "We have found a number of people who
have heard about this carrier, a few who have even seen it.  That tends
to lend credibility to its existence."

"If these Peacekeepers are on the run," added Crichton, "they are going
to make it hard for anyone to find them.  I mean, they aint going to
take out an add with the Uncharted Territories Tourist Bureau.  'Come
one, come all, to see the renegade Peacekeeper ship. Only $9.95, plus
tax, per visit.'"

"True," said Hancock.  "But we could be back with the fleet, helping
them.  Instead, we're out here in the boonies, out of contact with the
fleet.  We don't even know how the war's going."

"Its hard being away from the action," said Aeryn.  "We're warriors,
and we want to fight alongside our comrades.  But if we can make
contact with this ship..."

"I know, I know," said Hancock.  "I made these same arguments to
Ivanova to get her to agree to this expedition." He sighed.  "Alright,
let's move on to the next system."

Chapter 4:  Making Contact

General Abduhl Kemal, the commander of the Earth Force contingent of
the Interstellar Alliance fleet, stepped off of a shuttle that had
landed him on the surface of a colony they had just captured from the
Peacekeepers.  This had been the third one to fall to Kemal's forces
since the invasion had begun a week ago.  

Since the initial engagements, the Peacekeepers had offered scant
resistance to the advance that Kemal and his forces had made on this
front of the invasion.  In his last communication with Entilza Ivanova,
Kemal had found out that the same was true on the other two fronts of
the ISA invasion.  It had made things easier for them in the short run,
but it was the long run that Kemal worried about.

Kemal walked over to a young ground forces Lieutenant, who saluted the
General as he approached.  Returning the salute, Kemal spoke to the
young woman.  "Lieutenant, where can I find Colonel Santana?"

"He's over in the main hanger, opposite of the control tower," replied
the Lieutenant.

The General thanked the Lieutenant, and headed in the direction of the
building she had indicated.  On the way, he passed a group of about 30
Peacekeeper prisoners who were in the process of being searched,
tallied, and separated into smaller groups by a detail of Earth Force

When Kemal reached the hanger, he stepped into the building and saw
Colonel Santana, the commander of the regiment that had secured the
base, talking to one of his officers.  Santana saw Kemal enter the
building, and immediately headed over to greet the fleet commander.
After an exchange of salutes, Kemal spoke first.

"Report, Colonel," said Kemal.

"Sir, the base has been thoroughly searched, and all Peacekeepers
located and accounted for," replied Santana.

"What about the civilian population center nearby?" asked Kemal.

"Two companies are securing the town as we speak," replied Santana.

"Fine work, Colonel," said Kemal.  "Have you or your men been able to
find anything that might indicate future Peacekeeper plans for

"None, sir," said Santana.  "The Peacekeeper data stores have all been
wiped clean.  All documentation they may have had seems to have been
destroyed.  We are still sifting through the material we have captured,
but I don't expect to find anything."

"I see," said Kemal.

"Sir, if I may speak freely?" requested Santana.

"Absolutely," replied Kemal.  "What is in your mind?"

"Sir, this base...its as if the Peacekeepers expected it to fall to our
forces, and didn't make much of an effort to defend it.  They've
destroyed anything that might have provided any intel to us.  It was a
preplanned, deliberate effort to rid this base of all useful data, in
my opinion.  And there is something else.  This base was built to
accommodate forces probably three times larger than what we
encountered.  I'd say that a normal compliment of Prowlers assigned to
this base was probably somewhere near a hundred.  Instead, we run into
maybe twenty.  Same thing with ground troops, assault vehicles,

"What your saying is that it seems that the Peacekeepers deliberately
cleaned out most of their troops, weapons, and material from this base,
and left only a skeleton crew to defend it," commented Kemal.  "Does
that sound about right?"

"Yes, sir," said Santana.  "But why?"

Kemal was quiet in his contemplation, putting together all of the
pieces of the puzzle he was being presented.  Very little Peacekeeper
resistance to our invasion to date, a base easily captured with only a
small compliment left to defend it, and every shred of information from
this base's records disposed of.  All of this came together to paint a
picture that made Kemal nervous.

A bleep from his hand link stirred Kemal from his musings.  The General
raised his hand, and activated the communications device.  "Kemal
here," he said into the link.

"Sir," said Captain MacKenzie, his flag ship's Captain, "scanners show
a large number of Peacekeeper warships closing on this system.  They
are coming in at full speed and on an attack vector."

"Estimates as to numbers?" asked Kemal.

"We place estimates as to around twenty command carriers and about a
dozen Vigilante class warships," replied MacKenzie.

"Damn," said Kemal.  "That's why they didn't try to defend this place
and left us nothing to capture.  They wanted us here, to be occupied in
securing this base while they moved a large fleet in position to
attack!  Captain, have all ships form up to meet the enemy fleet.
Recall all units from the colony.  And have two squadrons of
Thunderbolt starfuries readied for a bombing run."

"Aye, sir," replied MacKenzie over the link.

Kemal turned to Santana.  "Recall all of your men, and prepare to
evacuate this base.  We'll evacuate the base, and bomb it to the ground
after we leave, making sure the Peacekeepers can't use it against us."

"What about the prisoners, sir?" asked Santana.

"No time," said Kemal.  "Have all of the prisoners already processed
brought with us.  Leave the rest here in a safe place away from the
bombing area."

"Yes, sir," replied Santana.

John Crichton and Aeryn Sun Crichton stepped into a dark drinking
establishment on a commerce planet in a remote part of the Uncharted
Territories.  They and the rest of the crew of the EAS Indefatigable
had spent the last five weeks scouring the territories for the renegade
Peacekeeper command carrier they had heard so much about, questioning
beings on every commerce planet and trading outpost in hopes of
acquiring information on their quarry.  

In that time, word about the invasion of Peacekeeper space by an alien
fleet had spread to the Uncharted Territories.  From what the Humans
aboard the Indy had been able to gather from the rumors, it seemed
their side was winning for now.  That was good news to them, although
they treated it with some skepticism considering it was just rumor.

Finally, two days ago, they had found a definite lead.  The
Indefatigable had been contacted by an anonymous source which stated
that someone wished to meet with John Crichton and Aeryn Sun-Crichton
about the renegade carrier.  A meeting was set up at the establishment
John and Aeryn now walked into, where they would be met by two men.

The husband and wife team were wary about this meeting as they
proceeded into the dark room full of drunk aliens.  For all they knew,
this was some kind of Peacekeeper trap that they could be stepping
into, so they kept their hands near their weapons.  General Hancock had
made the extra precaution of sending down a squad of Earth Force
Marines dressed in civilian garb down to the planet.  They were
stationed just down the street in case they were needed.

John and Aeryn were dressed in their civilian attire, temporarily
trading their Earth Force uniforms for their customary leather coats
and dark clothing.  They made their way through the patrons, waiting
for their counterparts to make contact.  Finally, after about twenty
minutes of waiting, John and Aeryn were about to give up.  But that was
when they were approached by two Sebacean men.

"Are you John and Aeryn Crichton?" asked one of the men.  He was
dressed in a black cloak, and had dark hair.  The other, a younger man
dressed in a similar cloak, looked around nervously.

"Who wants to know?" asked John.

"Look, just answer the frelling question," said the dark haired man

"Yes, we are," said Aeryn.  "Now, who are you."

"Not yet," said the man.  "Come with us to the table in the back
corner.  We can talk there."

John and Aeryn warily followed the two men to the back table.  The
Crichtons made sure to take the chairs facing the room so they could
keep an eye on the door.  Once seated, the younger of the two men took
out a device from his coat.

"Whoa!" said Crichton sternly.  "What the frell is that?"

"It's a medical scanner," said the young man.  "I need to scan you,

"I'm sure your, um, companion, can confirm what it is," said the other

"They're telling the truth, John," said Aeryn.  "It's a standard
Peacekeeper issue medical scanner."

Crichton looked at the device, and the young man holding it with some
scrutiny.  He finally nodded his head, indicating the man could use the

The young man ran the scanner over Crichton, and looked at the readings
that registered on the device.  After a few moments, he turned to his
companion, and nodded his head.

"He is Human," said the young man.  "His scans match our biological
records for his species."

"Satisfied," said John.  "Now, could we dispense with the pleasantries,
and get to business.  Who are you?"

"My name is Meltra," said the dark haired man.  "This is Staan, a med
tech.  We have come from the ship that you seek."

"You are are from the renegade carrier?" asked Aeryn in
disbelief.  "What ship is it?"

"One thing at a time," said Meltra.  "First, tell me why you have been
looking for us."

"We are here on behalf of the Interstellar Alliance," said John.  "We
heard about your ship going renegade, and we wanted to make contact in
the hopes that we could be helpful to one another."

"How did you know we were looking for you?" asked Aeryn.

"We heard about an Earth destroyer searching the Uncharteds for our
ship from various traders," replied Meltra.  "Then, we heard about your
fleet's invasion of Peacekeeper territory from...other sources."

"Are you in command of the carrier, or has your Captain led this
mutiny?" asked Aeryn.

"Our ship is under the command of Fleet Captain Jani Atrios," replied
Meltra.  "I am her second."

"Jani Atrios," said Aeryn in shock.  "She led a section of Scorpius'
fleet in their invasion of the Earth Alliance.  Why did she go
renegade?  How did she get her crew to go along with it?"

"It's a long story," said Meltra.  "One that my Captain is willing to
tell you herself.  But we had to be sure you are who you say you are
before we would agree to that.  Captain Atrios proposes a meeting
between us and you, along with your commander, at a small moon in this
system.  Here are the time, coordinates, and instructions for the
meeting."  Meltra handed Aeryn a data chip.  "You and your commander
must come alone, in a transport.  The Captain and myself will do the
same.  Our command ships remain at least one million metras away from
the moon."

John and Aeryn looked at each other for a moment before replying.  "Our
'commander' will have to agree to it," said John.  "We'll have to talk
to him."

"Those are the terms," said Meltra.  "Follow them, or no meeting, and
you never find us."

Meltra and Staan rose from the table, and left without saying another
word.  John and Aeryn sat silently for a moment before one of them

"So, what do you think?" asked John.

"Not sure," said Aeryn.  "A Peacekeeper Fleet Captain, a full carrier,
going renegade.  It sounds too good to be true."

"Well, we'll find out," said John, as they got up to leave.

"Do you think Hancock will agree to the meeting?" asked Aeryn.

"Yep," said John.  "We haven't been on this duck hunt through space for
the past five weeks just to back down now."  They continued out of the
bar, going unnoticed by the drunken alien patrons around them.

"Sir," said a Minbari Captain Tastrony to Admiral Lakhat.  "Peacekeeper
forces closing on attack vector.  Estimated time to arrival: ten
standard minutes."

The Minbari fleet had been surging into Peacekeeper territory for a
week.  They had liberated Delvia after a fierce engagement with
Peacekeeper forces, but had since then run into little resistance as
they secured several more Peacekeeper bases.  Now, they were detecting
a large formation of Peacekeeper ships entering the latest system the
Minbari had captured.

"How many enemy ships are there?" asked Lakhat.

"At least twenty-five command carriers and fifteen of their Vigilante
class warships," replied Tastrony.

"That's the largest enemy fleet we've encountered since we began this
operation," said Lakhat.  "This must explain why they have offered
little resistance since we secured Delvia.  They have been preparing
for this moment.  Very well, Captain.  Contact all ships, order them to
make a full attack on the enemy fleet."

"Yes, sir" replied Tastrony.

Chapter 5:  Bogged Down

"Keep firing!" yelled Entilza Susan Ivanova.  Her section of the fleet
was engaged in a fierce firefight with a force of fifteen command
carriers.  This was the third such battle that the crew had fought with
the Peacekeepers in a two day period.  Each time, the Peacekeepers
would send a massed force of warships against Ivanova's forces, inflict
what damage they could, and then break off contact at maximum speed.
These hit and run tactics being used by the Peacekeepers were taking
their toll, weakening Ivanova's fleet a little with each attack.  At
the same time, the advance of the ISA's forces were being delayed.

It was not just Ivanova's front that was being subjected to these
attacks.  General Kemal and Admiral Lakhat reported similar engagements
on their fronts.  The Peacekeepers make a massed assault, inflict
damage, and then break off.  All fronts of the advance were being
slowly weakened, and all had been seriously delayed in their advance.

In the present engagement, Ivanova's forces has managed to destroy one
of the enemy carriers so far, after suffering the loss of one of the
Victory class destroyers and two Centauri ships, whose forces had born
the brunt of the initial enemy attack.  Now, Ivanova's fleet was
beginning to break the enemy's attack.  Another command carrier fell
under the guns of Ivanova's forces, and the Entilza and her forces were
closing in on the enemy.

"Lennock," began Ivanova, "have the White Stars close in on the enemy

"Entilza," interrupted Lennock.  "Your pardon, but the enemy is
breaking off the attack.  All of their carriers are increasing to hetch
speeds and retreating."

"DAMMIT!" yelled Ivanova.  "Every fucking time! They attack, kick the
crap out of us, we start to kick their asses back and get an advantage,
and they scurry off like a bunch of jackrabbits!  I'm sick of this
shit!  Lennock, have all White Stars pursue them out of this system.
Tell them to blast away at the Peacekeepers until the enemy leaves the
sector, then return to the fleet!"

"Yes, Entilza," replied Lennock.

"Entilza," reported another Ranger, the communications officer.  "We
are receiving a signal from our supply transfer point in the Royal
Colonies with an update on incoming shipments."

"Very well," said Ivanova.  "I'll take it in the bridge conference

"Sir, the enemy forces have left the system," said Captain MacKenzie to
General Kemal.  The Earth fleet had been attacked by a force of enemy
command carriers and Vigilantes less than a half an arn ago.  A cruiser
and a destroyer had fallen in the attack, but Kemal's forces were just
managing to beat the enemy back, taking out one of their Vigilante
ships and inflicting serious damage on one of their carriers.  But just
as the Humans gained the upper hand, the Peacekeepers began their all
too familiar withdrawal.

"Not again," said Kemal.  "Ahh! Allah be merciful, when are these
bastards going to stand and fight?!"

"I wish I knew, sir," replied MacKenzie.  "If we could pin them into an
engagement, we could clean their clocks.  We've outnumbered each force
they have sent by at the very least two to one.  But these hit and run

"I know," interrupted Kemal.  "Each time they attack, they delay our
advance.  In the times between attacks, our people are on edge waiting
for the enemy to strike.   If this goes on long enough, WE may have to
be the ones to retreat."

"Any word from Ivanova?" asked MacKenzie.

"Not since yesterday," replied Kemal.  "She said that her fleet and the
Minbari fleet are experiencing this same pattern of Peacekeeper
attacks.  The enemy is making a concerted effort to delay, confuse, and
steadily weaken our forces.  And what worries me the most is that they
may be succeeding."

An Earth Force shuttle launched from the EAS Indefatigable began its
descent into the atmosphere of a small moon orbiting a gas giant in an
isolated area of the Uncharted Territories.  On board the shuttle were
General James Hancock, Captain John Crichton, and Captain Aeryn-Sun
Crichton.  They were heading for their scheduled meeting with Fleet
Captain Jani Atrios, the commander of the renegade Peacekeeper command
carrier that the Indefatigable had been seeking for the past five

Aeryn was at the controls of the shuttle, and brought it in for a
landing at the coordinates given them by Meltra in the bar two days
before.  After the shuttle touched down, the three occupants of the
ship donned heavy coats, as well as sidearms.  The conditions for the
meeting allowed the members of both parties to bring pistols, and
Hancock, John, and Aeryn made use of that allowance.  Hancock carried a
standard issue Earth Force PPG pistol, while John and Aeryn opted for
pulse pistols.  

The three of them exited the shuttle, and stepped onto a barren, rocky
landscape.  The moon had an oxygen atmosphere, small bodies of water
which probably sustained oxygen producing algae, and a standard air
temperature of around 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  There was not much
precipitation to speak of, so the land was completely devoid of life.

Hancock, John, and Aeryn made their way to a large cave that was within
sight of the shuttle.  That was where the meeting would take place, and
the three of them could tell that the other party was already waiting
for them because a Marauder was parked about 1000 yards from the cave

When the three of them got inside the cave, they saw two people in
Peacekeeper uniforms waiting for them.  One of them was Meltra.  The
other was a blonde Sebacean woman who looked in Human terms to be in
her early thirties, but was probably older due to differences in Human
and Sebacean aging.  Her hair was pulled back in a tight braid, and she
wore a jet black leather coat with insignia that indicated she was a
Peacekeeper Fleet Captain.

Hancock, John, and Aeryn approached the pair of Peacekeepers warily.
Aeryn kept her hand near her sidearm, not willing to trust the other
side until she knew what was going one.  Both sides stood and looked at
each other silently, each side appraising the other before they began
to speak.

Fleet Captain Atrios looked at the three Earth Force officers who stood
before her.  She had never been this close to Humans before, and was
curious about them.  The man who seemed to be in charge was a tall man,
with brown hair that was tinged by streaks of gray.  The other two she
knew from Peacekeeper fugitive files to be John Crichton and
Peacekeeper defector Officer Aeryn Sun, who now called herself Aeryn
Sun-Crichton, John Crichton's wife.  It was Atrios that broke the

"Identify yourself," she said to Hancock.

"James Hancock, Brigadier General, Earth Force," he replied.  He then
introduced his two companions.  "This is Captain John Crichton and
Captain Aeryn Sun-Crichton, also Earth Force officers."

"So you did accept a Human military commission, Aeryn Sun," said

"Aeryn Sun-Crichton," she replied proudly.  "I am John Crichton's

"I...apologize for the offense," replied Atrios.  "I am Fleet Captain
Jani Atrios of the command carrier Krandolia.  I believe the Crichtons
have met my second, Lt. Meltra."

Meltra bowed slightly when he was introduced, then spoke.  "I see you
followed our instructions."

"Yes," said Hancock.  "I hope it was worth it.  Perhaps, Fleet Captain,
you could tell me why you and your ship have gone renegade."

"It's a long story," she replied.  "As you may know, I led a section of
command carriers under Admiral Scorpius' fleet command when we invaded
your territory.  It was my command ship that led the remaining carriers
in saving Scorpius' carrier at the final battle of that invasion. On
the journey back to Peacekeeper territory, my crew and I began to take
stock of our losses in that invasion, and whether the objectives were
worth those losses."

"You spoke with your crew about the correctness of High Command's
orders?" asked Aeryn in disbelief.

"I am not typical of my fellow Captains," said Atrios.  "I have always
encouraged independent thinking among my crew.  It makes them better
soldiers if they know why they are doing something, if they feel like
they are important.  This has often earned me the ridicule and disdain
of my fellow Peacekeeper commanders, but I have risen through the ranks
because the victories and successes my crew and I have produced have
far outshone any "differences" High Command may have had with my style
of command.  All I ever wanted to be was a successful Peacekeeper
officer, to serve my people and protect them from any threats to their

"You see," she continued, "I was not born into the Peacekeeper elite.
I was the daughter of a mining engineer on a Sebacean colony.  My
Father was killed in an accident when I was eight.  Having no family, I
was left all alone, without a home or a purpose.  I had always heard
about Peacekeepers, about how they were the vanguard of warriors that
kept the peace and protected our people.  So, I joined up.
Volunteered.  I had to prove myself, to be the best at everything to
fit in.  But I did, and I rose through the ranks.  But, I slowly began
to see that, perhaps the greatest threat to the Sebacean people were
the Peacekeepers themselves.  With the atmosphere I generated on my
ship, Meltra and many other Peacekeepers who served under me secretly
admitted to similar feelings.  Then came the disastrous invasion of the
Earth Alliance, the losses we had suffered, all for nothing.  And then,
when we got back, Scorpius, a half-breed, was not even held responsible
by High Command.  Oh, he got a slap on the wrist, but nothing more.
High Command values that monster above the deaths of so many
Peacekeeper soldiers! They don't care about us!  We are just tools to
use to conquer other worlds, to dominate and terrorize!  So, most of my
crew and I, decided to leave the Peacekeepers.  We fled to the
Uncharteds, where we have been ever for six monens now, on the run."

"So what are your plans now?" asked John.

"Survive," replied Atrios. "Perhaps, go to the Royal Colonies, hoping
they give us refuge.  But that just doesn't settle right with me."

"Why?" asked Aeryn.

"Because, I am still a soldier, and I still want to help my people,"
said Atrios.  "I just...don't know how to do that entirely."

"Perhaps we can offer you a way to do that," said Hancock.  "According
to Meltra, you have heard about the invasion of Peacekeeper territory
by the ISA's fleet."

"Yes," said Atrios.  "I expected it to come sooner or later.  Of
course, High Command did nothing to prepare.  They wallowed in their
sense of superiority, their complacency.  It serves them right."

"Our goal is to help your people," said Hancock, "and to rid the galaxy
of the Peacekeeper threat.  We want to take down Peacekeeper High
Command, to free the people of the galaxy from fear of the
Peacekeepers.  Our people also want to liberate the Sebacean race from
the dominance of the Peacekeepers, to allow your people to grow and
flourish as a free society among many other societies.  It seems to me
we have the same goal."

"Its as I thought, Captain," said Meltra.  "They want us to join the
fight against our own people."

"No, not against our people," said Aeryn.  "Against the Peacekeepers."

"How can you claim to still be one of us?" asked Meltra.  "You are
married to a Human, have conceived a child with a Human, and have
joined the Human's military.  Yet, you still claim to be one of us?"

"I am a Sebacean," replied Aeryn with growing anger.  "I have NEVER
renounced my race, or my heritage as a Sebacean!  The only thing I have
renounced is my ties to an organization that oppressed me, and
oppresses everyone they touch, including you!  I may have married a
Human, and I may serve alongside Humans, but I AM a SEBACEAN!  And it
is for that reason, above all others, that I support this war!  I am
fighting to save my people!  Will you do so as well?"

"We accept your point, Aeryn Sun-Crichton," replied Atrios with a
smile.  "Forgive Meltra for his remarks.  I can explain them.  I asked
Meltra to challenge your identity as a Sebacean, to see if you had
indeed renounced your race as well as the Peacekeepers.  We predicted
that you wanted to meet with us to get my ship and crew to sign on with
your forces, but many of my crew were concerned about doing so, as was
I.  We fear that if we did sign on with Humans, that your people may
try to make US Human, make us renounce our identity as Sebaceans.  To
test this, I decided to see if Aeryn here was still a Sebacean in her
heart.  I see now that she is, and that being married to a Human and
serving with Humans has not changed this."

"Our people have no wish to erase the Sebaceans' culture or identity,"
said Hancock.  "We only wish to help your people, to free them from the
Peacekeepers, which you yourself identify as the greatest threat to
Sebaceans.  It is my hope that someday, Humans and Sebaceans can work
together as close friends, allies.  But, we need your help to do that. 
For your people, will you join us in this crusade?"

Atrios and Meltra stepped away for a moment, and whispered to each
other.  After a hurried discussion, Atrios turned back to Hancock,
John, and Aeryn, and gave her reply.  "Yes," she replied.  "We will
join you.  For the good of our people, we will stand with you."

Hancock stepped forward, and held out his hand to Atrios.  She looked
confused, and John knew why.

"Its called a handshake," said John to Atrios.  "Warriors on Earth for
centuries have done this to show they are not carrying weapons.  Our
people commonly do it as a gesture of friendship and mutual

Atrios reached out her hand to Hancock's, and took his in hers.  They
shook hands firmly, and looked at each other and smiled.  Both saw in
the other someone they could identify with and trust, and knew that
this new alliance was a good one.  They broke the handshake, and Atrios
spoke again.

"Now that we are allies," she said.  "There is something you need to
know, something  that will help us in the task ahead."

"Entilza," said Lennock to Ivanova.  She was sitting in the bridge
conference room on the Excalibur, going over reports from General Kemal
and Admiral Lakhat on the latest attacks by the Peacekeepers on their
fronts.  This invasion, after getting off to a swift start, has gotten
bogged down, and they were already almost a week behind in their
projected timetables.

"Yes, Lennock," replied Ivanova.

"We are receiving a message from Ambassador Ka D'Argo," replied
Lennock.  "He is calling from the Luxan home world."

"Good, pipe it in here," she said.

"Very well," replied Lennock.

After a few moments, the viewscreen in the conference room activated,
and the image of D'Argo faced Ivanova on the screen.  "Ivanova," said
D'Argo.  "How is it going?"

"Not well," said Ivanova.  "The fleet's been bogged down, slowed by
Peacekeeper hit and run tactics on all fronts.  You'll be getting a
copy of the updated briefings when I send them back to ISA command."

"This is not good," said D'Argo.  "It will certainly not help things

"Any word from your people yet on whether they will sign on with us?"
asked Ivanova.

"Chiana and I spent the first weeken here just trying to prove our
diplomatic credentials, in order to see the Luxan ruling council of
Clans Leaders," he said.  "Since then, we have met only resistance on
our requests for their support.  They will not join the fight until we
can definitively prove to them that the ISA can defeat the
Peacekeepers.  The Illonics will not fight unless the Luxans agree to
it first.  I am beginning to doubt the courage and will of my own

"Do they know about our current situation?" asked Ivanova.

"They insist on having as much information as I can provide about your
progress," said D'Argo.  "The lack of it is not helping my argument."

"I know," said Ivanova.  "We need to find some way to strike at the
Peacekeepers where it hurts, but I just don't know how to do that yet. 
I've been discussing it with Kemal and Lakhat, but...I just don't

"Any word from John and Aeryn?" asked D'Argo.

"Yes," she replied.  "A day ago.  They were going to meet with the
Captain of the renegade carrier, but I haven't heard back yet to hear
how it went."

"I hope it goes well," said D'Argo.  "We could all use some good news
right about now."

"Agreed," said Ivanova.

Chapter 6:  A Hero Returns

Brigadier General James Hancock was standing in the docking bay of the
Indefatigable, waiting for a ship to arrive.  The ship he was expecting
was a Peacekeeper Prowler, piloted by Fleet Captain Jani Atrios, the
commander of the renegade command carrier they were now working with.

It had been two days since the meeting between Hancock, the Crichtons,
Atrios, and Lt. Meltra in the cave.  In that time, the Indy had
rendezvoused with the Krandolia, Atrios' ship, and they were now
stationed side by side in orbit around the moon where the meeting had
taken place.  Atrios had informed her crew about their new alliance,
and had met with mixed reactions.  A good number of the renegade
Peacekeepers on Atrios' ship didn't trust the Humans or their allies,
and were unsure about taking a hand in this war.  To prove to her crew
that Hancock and his officers could be trusted, she accepted an
invitation to visit the Indefatigable, and she decided to do so alone.

In the meantime, Hancock had been in touch with Ivanova, and had
informed her about their new alliance with Atrios' ship.  He also told
the Entilza that this new alliance brought possibly more support than
they bargained for.  Atrios had informed Hancock and the Crichtons that
there was a small, but widespread resistance movement among the
Sebacean population under Peacekeeper control.  There were maybe one
hundred members of the whole movement, but they were scattered all over
Peacekeeper controlled territory.  Many were Peacekeepers, but many
more were civilians, all of them trying to find a way of freeing their
people from the boot of Peacekeeper High Command.  Atrios had been
contacted by this movement when their members had heard about the
defection of the Krandolia.  Atrios was going to make contact with
them, to request their help in this war.

While Hancock had good news for Ivanova, the Entilza could not make the
same claim to General Hancock.  She told him about the Peacekeeper hit
and run attacks, and about how the fleet was being delayed by the
advance.  Ivanova also told Hancock about D'Argo's report from the
Luxan homeworld, that both the Luxans and Illonics were dragging their
feet, unconvinced of the ISA's ability to win.  Both Ivanova and
Hancock felt that a way had to be found to hit the Peacekeepers where
it would hurt, and the General began to think about a way to do that.  

Hancock was signaled by the landing bay officer that the Prowler was
arriving.  The sleek black and red fighter made an impressive sight as
it shot into the landing bay, and came to a landing not far from where
Hancock was standing.  After a few moments, the canopy of the Prowler
opened, and a figure in a black flight suit and helmet stepped out of
the ship and onto the deck.  The figure removed the helmet, and the
face of Fleet Captain Atrios was revealed.

The host approached his visitor, and reached out his hand.  Atrios, now
used to the gesture, accepted it.  "Welcome aboard the EAS
Indefatigable, Fleet Captain," said Hancock. 

"Thank you," she replied.

"I would have had a full honor guard here, but you said you wanted this
to be an informal visit," said Hancock.

"Indeed," said Atrios.  "I often find that people can hide too much
behind formalities, so I prefer an informal atmosphere for a meeting of
such importance.  I thought, though, that the Crichtons would be here."

"They'll join us later," said Hancock.  "I wanted to meet with you one
on one first, since you were coming alone.  I felt you would be more
comfortable at first with just me."

"Very perceptive," commented Atrios.  "Well, I'm very interested to see
more of this ship.  I've only seen them from the outside."

"Please, follow me," invited Hancock.

After Atrios left her flight suit in the landing bay, she went with
Hancock on a tour of the ship.  Many of the Earth Force officers and
crewmen on board stared at a Peacekeeper Fleet Captain walking the
halls of their ship, but Hancock and Atrios ignored them for the most
part.  They were too busy talking with each other about their ships,
military structures of the Peacekeepers vs. Earth Force, systems, etc. 

Their tour ended on the bridge, where the officers not on station came
to attention.  Hancock welcomed Atrios to the bridge, and introduced
her around.  Afterwards, they went into the bridge conference room,
where they would have a private discussion.

"Please, have a seat, Captain," said Hancock.  He poured her some
coffee, and handed her the cup.  She eyed the liquid for a moment,
taking a quick sniff.  Seeing her consternation about the alien
beverage, Hancock decided to set her at ease.

"Its called coffee," said Hancock.  "Aeryn drinks it, so it should be
fine for Sebacean physiology.  Try it."

She sipped it, and found it tasted somewhat bitter, but something in
the beverage made it sweet.  "What is the taste enhancer in this
called?" she asked.

"Sugar," said Hancock.  "A food additive that makes something sweet."

"I see," said Atrios.  "Well, its...interesting.  Much like your ship. 
I must say, I am impressed with its systems.  It doesn't have
the...oppressive atmosphere that command carriers do."

"Well, I'm glad you enjoyed the tour," said Hancock.  "But, perhaps we
can now get down to business.  Have you made contact with the

"Yes," replied Atrios.  "Well, at least on cell of the resistance.  I
told them about our alliance, and they were amenable to cooperating
with us.  But, they have to contact the other cells, to make sure they
will also support us."

"Do you think they will?" asked Hancock.

"I'm sure they will," replied Atrios.  "They see me as sort of their
defacto leader, a unifying symbol.  Where I point, they will likely
follow.  I pointed to your people."

"I see," said Hancock.  "I bet being an idol of worship is a hard road
to hoe."

"If you mean that it is difficult to deal with," said Atrios with a
smile, "it is.  I don't much like being a symbol, but it suits our
interests on this occasion.  Besides, it often comes with command.  You
should know."

"True," agreed Hancock.  "Tell me, what information do you have about
the defense of Peacekeeper High Command headquarters?"

"Not much," said Atrios.  "Last time I was there was about four cycles
ago.  We don't have anything in the data spools, in case our carrier
were to be captured.  A security measure."

"Damn," said Hancock.  "Wait.  What about the resistance?  Are there
any members of the resistance on Sebacea?"

"A few," replied Atrios.  "Ten from what I understand."

"Could they get close enough to High Command to get some details on
their defenses?" asked Hancock.

"Perhaps," said Atrios.  "Security is not as tight on Sebacea itself.
Its where High Command feels safest.  Why do you ask?"

"Let me show you something," said Hancock.  He activated a viewscreen,
and a chart appeared on it.  "This chart shows the last update we
received on the progress of our forces on the three fronts of our
invasion of Peacekeeper territory.  As you can see, they have been
stalled on all fronts.  The Peacekeepers have been making massed hit
and run attacks on each front."

"Delaying your forces, and slowly weakening them," commented Atrios.
"Sounds like a plan conceived by Mattoc and Polise."

"Mattoc and Polise?" asked Hancock.

"Mattoc is the head of the High Command council," replied Atrios.
"Polise is perhaps the most brilliant strategist on that council."

"I see," said Hancock.  "Well, I'll get to the point.  Ivanova and I
feel that we need to hit the Peacekeepers in such a way as to strike a
blow to their confidence, and at the same time bolster ours.  We also
need to show potential allies, like the Luxans and Illonics, that we
can win this war so they will come in on our side.  So, I've come up
with the idea of hitting High Command headquarters with an air raid."

"Are you capable of such a strike?" asked Atrios in shock.

"Possibly," said Hancock.  "I've got some ideas, but I'm not near
specifics yet.  But I sent a report on the idea back through the
transfer station in the Royal Colonies to Earth Force command.  A reply
I got from them says that they are amenable to it, and have some of
their strategic planners working on it."

"Even if you do get there," said Atrios.  "The aerial defenses are
quite imposing.  The Peacekeepers may feel safe on Sebacea, but they
are not stupid.  Would you lead this assault?"

"No," said Hancock.  "Ivanova and I have been talking about that as
well.  We need someone who not only has the experience to do it, the
mind to plan it, and the ability to inspire others to follow him.  Like
you, we need a symbol as well as a leader, someone that my people will
jump at the chance to follow into hell.  Ivanova and I could think of
only one person who could do this, and we sent our recommendation to
Earth Force command.  The question is whether or not this person will
take the job."

It was a beautiful early autumn day near the Shenandoah Valley of
Virginia on Earth.  The heat of the summer was beginning to taper off,
and the cooler temperatures of autumn were beginning to prevail in the
air.  In the middle of the green fields and hills of the countryside
stood a large, two story ranch house, with a nearby set of stables, all
surrounded by a set of open fields and some wooded areas.

Two riders on horseback approached the house from one of the fields.
They were a man and a woman, both dressed in jeans and button up shirts
left loose at the collar.  The woman looked in Human age to be in her
thirties, but was actually older, because she was in fact Sebacean.
Her long, brown hair, flowed loose in the breeze.  The man who rode on
the horse beside hers was in his fifties, his brown hair slowly turning
gray and his handsome features included a few wrinkles.  

Robert and Jenavia McGregor had just finished a daily ritual of taking
their horses out for a leisurely ride through the lands of the McGregor
ranch, where they had lived with their children for many years.  Their
tranquil appearance on the ride belied the fact of the ordeals they had
endured in the recent past.  Their oldest daughter, Katherine McGregor,
or "Katie" as they called her," had been killed in the Peacekeeper
invasion, during the massacre at Drathnor.  In his rage and in search
of justice, McGregor had exacted a toll on the Peacekeepers who had
launched the attack.  His actions in doing so were extreme to say the
least, but McGregor had felt they were justified.  Many of his
superiors in Earth Force disagreed.

As a result of his actions, McGregor had been relieved of his command,
and faced court martial on a variety of charges, including murder,
assault, violating regulations regarding the treatment of prisoners,
and several other violations of procedure.  These charges were pressed
by General Jonas Achebe, the Chairman of the Earth Force Joint Chiefs
of Staff, the man who had replaced McGregor in that position the day
the invasion started and someone who McGregor had one called a friend. 
Achebe took it upon himself to try and seek the maximum penalty for
McGregor, feeling the General had brought shame on the service by his
actions.  Fortunately for McGregor, most Earth Force officers supported
him, as did a majority of the public.  Both parties flooded President
Schroeder's office with messages containing demands ranging from
leniency for McGregor to restoring McGregor to command to firing Achebe
for prosecuting their hero.  

The President made McGregor an offer.  If McGregor plead guilty to the
lesser charges,  Schroeder would see to it that only a reprimand
appeared on his record, and that he would be allowed to retire with
full rank and honors.  The proud General considered fighting the
charges in court, but the President assured McGregor that if he did
fight the charges, he would not succeed.  Schroeder would see to it.
The President wanted to dispose of the case quickly, so as to save his
office and Earth Force further embarrassment.  Schroeder was also fond
of McGregor, and wanted to also spare the General's reputation further
slander.  McGregor finally decided to take the offer, and he retired as
he had intended to do before the invasion started.

Robert and Jenavia rode up to the stables near their house, and
dismounted.  As they unsaddled their horses, and put them back into the
stables, Robert took a long look as he often did at his wife.  She had
been his strongest ally through their times of trouble.  He remembered
an incident where a reporter from ISN had approached the two of them
and questioned Robert's integrity in no uncertain terms.  Jena raged at
the reporter, calling him every curse word she could think of in both
English and Sebacean.  Robert had to hold Jena back to keep her from
ripping the head off of the squirmy little reporter.  

"Jena," said Robert.

She looked at him with a smile.  "Yes, my love," she replied.

"I don't know if I've told you in the past hour, but...I love you more
than life itself," he said softly.

Jenavia walked over to her husband and let herself be taken into his
strong, loving arms.  "I love you, too," she replied.  "I always will."

They began to kiss, but heard someone run up to them.  Robert and Jena
broke the kiss, and saw their teenage daughter, Elisa, approach from
the house. "Oh, sorry," she said, realizing that she had caught her
parents in a private moment.

"Its alright, dear," said Jena.  "What is it?"

"Daddy," she said.  "Someone is at the house to see you.  From Earth

"Earth Force," said McGregor with shock.  Jena had a look of concern
and slight consternation.  She has never forgiven Earth Force for its
treatment of her husband, after all he had done for his people.  

"Yeah," said Elisa.  "Its General Zuchov.  He says its urgent."

"Alright," said McGregor.  "I'll be right there."  Elisa ran back to
the house, while Jena put her hand on Robert's arm.

"What could he want?" asked Jena.

"Maybe he just wants to visit," said Robert.  "Nicoli was one of the
few on the Joint Chiefs to give me his full support."

"Elisa said his visit was about something urgent," countered Jena.  

"I know," said Robert.  "I'd better go see what it is."

Several hours after Atrios arrived on the Indefatigable, she joined
Hancock for a private dinner in his quarters.  They had met with each
other first, and were later joined by John and Aeryn Crichton.  The
meeting had lasted for hours, on topics ranging from the readiness of
Atrios' ship, the strength of the Sebacean resistance, and about this
plan Hancock and Ivanova had begun to cook up.

Hancock had decided to invite Atrios to join him for a quiet dinner of
just the two of them.  He knew they would be working closely together,
and he wanted to get to know her better.  She had agreed to join
Hancock for dinner because she too wanted to learn more about her new
partner in this alliance.  As they ate, they talked about a variety of
different topics, much of it of a personal nature.  They found they
genuinely liked each other, and found that although they had come from
opposites sides of a war, they had much in common. Hancock and Atrios
found it easy to talk to one another.

Eventually, the topic of discussion went back to this plan Hancock had
conceived to strike High Command headquarters.  At one point, the
conversation about the plan focused on the person Hancock and Ivanova
had recommended to lead the attack, General Robert McGregor.  

"General..." began Atrios.  

"Please, call me Jim," interrupted Hancock.

"Alright, Jim," she said.  "Can you tell me more about McGregor?  How
well do you know him?"

"I've known him for almost twenty years," replied Hancock.  "I served
with him as a Lieutenant, later as his executive officer, and finally
as his flag ship Captain.  He was the one that signed my promotion to
General before he stepped down as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.  Why do
you ask?"

"Among Peacekeepers, General McGregor is the most feared and most
reviled of all of your leaders," said Atrios.  "His actions in
destroying Fleet Captain Yusanan's command carrier, his brutality."

"HIS brutality," countered Hancock slightly angered.  "How can you
compare his actions with the actions taken by those same Peacekeepers
on Drathnor?  How can you compare that to the massacre of those
Rangers, to the raping of those women?"

"I don't intend to," said Atrios.  "I'm sorry.  Believe me, I never
would have condoned such actions.  Yusanan was a savage brute, but High
Command liked him because of the results he produced.  But McGregor's can you excuse them and condemn Yusanan's?"

"There's something you may not know," said Hancock.  "One of the
Rangers killed on Drathnor was Katherine McGregor, his oldest

Atrios stood up with a start, and put her hand over her mouth with a
gasp.  She said something in a low whisper that Hancock couldn't pick
out, and then walked to the window.  Hancock rose, and followed her.

"What's the matter?" asked Hancock.

"I...I didn't know," said Atrios.  "McGregor's...daughter.  Was she one
of the one's..."

"No," said Hancock.  "She wasn't raped.  Thank God for small mercies."

"Jim, tell me more about McGregor, the man," requested Atrios.  "What's
he like, as a person?  Is he a good person?"

"Why are you so curious about him?" asked Hancock.

Atrios was slow to reply, but turned away from the window to face
Hancock.  "Do you remember how I said that I was not accepted by my
fellow trainees when I was young because I was not one of the elite,
not born into the ranks?"

"Yes," said Hancock.

"Well, there was one exception, one person who did accept me," said
Atrios.  "She stood up for me with the other cadets, and we
became...friends.  Inseparable.  She was already a rebel of sorts,
stretching regs and doing crazy things.  We were quite a pair."

"What does this have to do with McGregor?" asked Hancock.

"When I was sent to fleet training school, and assigned to my first
regiment, we had hoped to be assigned together," said Atrios.  "We
weren't.  You see, although she was a bit rebellious in her
temperament, she had a cunning intellect and a high aptitude.  She was
selected for special operations.  Eventually, she became a Special
Directorate Disruptor.  Her name...was Jenavia Chatto."

"Jena," said Hancock in shock.  He had to return to his table and sit
down.  Hancock did not know what to say.  He was one of the few people
who even knew of Jenavia's past as a Peacekeeper spy.  It had been a
secret Robert had sworn him and the few others who knew to, to protect

"Now you see why I want to know about Robert McGregor," said Atrios.
"He is married to my friend."

"What the hell is going on here?!" asked McGregor.  He had been
speaking with General Nicoli Zuchov, the Chief of Earth Force Fleet
Operations.  They were in McGregor's den at his house, and Zuchov had
informed Robert that Earth Force wanted him back.

"Robert, just listen..."began Zuchov.

"NO!  You listen!" interrupted McGregor.  "Look, Earth Force pushes me
aside, tells me to retire or face court martial. Now, a year later, you
come here and tell me that they want me back in the saddle.  What the
hell is with you guys?  Can't you make up your fucking mind?!"

"Robert, you know I always supported you," said Zuchov.  "I'm sorry
about what happened...."

"You won't even tell me what the hell you want me back for," said
McGregor.  "Well, you know what.  I don't give a damn.  You can take
whatever job you've got, and shove it up Achebe's and Schroeder's
asses!  I'm 'retired', and I intend to stay that way."

"General McGregor," said Zuchov.  "We need you.  Earth needs you, the
Force needs you."

"Don't give me that shit, Nicoli," said McGregor.  "I may have answered
that call once, but not anymore.  You can keep the king and country
bull, and get the hell out of my house!"

"Alright, I WILL!" yelled Zuchov.  "But before I go, I have something
to say.  I knew a man once who everyone in Earth Force loved like their
Father, their Brother, and their hero all at the same time!  I knew a
man that inspired every man and woman who wore the uniform to do great
things!  They...we all worshipped you like a god!  You were General
Robert McGregor, one of the greatest officers the service had ever
known!  Where is that man now?  The Robert McGregor I knew and admired
would never have turned down a chance to serve his people!  To hell
with Achebe and the suits at Earth Dome!  Don't come back for them!
Come back for the Lieutenants and Commanders and Captains and Crewmen
and GROPOS that need your leadership!  Do it for the officers who even
now lead troops into battle against our enemies and strain to hear the
sound of your footsteps, to be half the leader you were!  Will you let
them down?  Ask yourself that before you make your decision, and if you
decide to get back in the saddle, be at Earth Dome in two days.  Good
day, Robert."

With that, General Zuchov stormed out of den, leaving a speechless
Robert McGregor standing in his wake.  Robert turned and sat down in
his favorite chair by the fireplace, and buried his hands in his face.

Jena walked into the room, and saw Robert sitting in the chair.  She
walked over to him, and sat down in his lap.  He pulled her into his
arms, and she rested her head on Robert's shoulder.

"What happened?" asked Jena.

"They want me to come back," said Robert.  "They have some special
operation they want me to plan and lead.  No specifics, just asked me
to be at Earth Dome in two days."

"Mmm," said Jena.  "I see.  And, are you...are you going to do it?"

"I don't know," said Robert.  "At first, I said no, but now...Jena, I
never liked the way I left the service.  Although I retired with full
rank and honors, I...I just felt that there was something not finished.
I felt that my reputation was broken, and if I could just have one
chance to repair it."

"You have nothing to prove to them," said Jena.

"Not to them," said Robert.  "To the men and women in the field.  To
all the people who served me so well.  And to myself." 

Chapter 7:  The Raiders

General Robert McGregor, again in uniform, walked up the steps in front
of Earth Force Command Headquarters in Earth Dome, Geneva.  It felt
eerie to him to be back here, back to the building where he had served
for many years at the height of his career.  The last time he had left
the building, it had been in disgrace.

Now, as he walked in the main entrance to the building, McGregor felt
like he was standing on the threshold of a chance for redemption.  It
was a chance to erase the blot on his name.  He was quickly ushered
into the building by the officers posted at the reception desk, and
directed to report to the Joint Chief's conference room on the top

When McGregor arrived at the main hall outside of the conference room,
he ran into the man who had been one of his leading condemners.
General Jonas Achebe, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, halted his
stride when he saw McGregor.  Achebe wore an expression of anger on his
face at seeing McGregor.  Robert wore a blank expression at seeing the
man who had pushed for McGregor to receive maximum penalties for what
he did.

Finally, it was Robert who spoke.  "General Achebe," said McGregor.
"Its...good to see you again."

"I wish I could say the same," replied Achebe in his thick Kenyan
accent.  "So, here you come striding back like Christ come to clean the
temple.  Everyone just looks the other way, and says 'welcome back,
conquering hero'."

"I see you haven't changed your opinion about me since we last met,"
said McGregor.  "I would have thought my forced retirement would have
been enough for you.  I guess it wasn't, was it?"

"It sure as hell was not!" replied Achebe.  "Before you come back to
Earth Force, I have a few words to say to you!"

"I think you've said quite enough," replied McGregor.  "Now, if you
will excuse me..."  McGregor tried to walk past Achebe, but was grabbed
by the arm.

"YOU WILL LISTEN, MCGREGOR!" yelled Achebe.  Other officers passing
through the hallway stopped and watched the two Generals in their
confrontation.  "Unless you don't want what I am going to say to you
heard in front of our fellow officers.  I wouldn't want to 'embarrass'
the Jesus Christ of Earth Force!"

"Alright, Achebe!" replied McGregor.  "If you have a point, make it!"

"I WILL!" yelled Achebe.  "How can you stand there in that uniform,
when your actions disregarded everything that the uniform of an Earth
Force officer stands for?!  Earth Force officers are supposed to be
defenders of our race, yes, but also defenders of the principles of
honor, freedom, and the rule of law!  ALL of which YOU violated!  Too
many times in Human history have we seen demagogues in military uniform
decide that they are above the law, that they can do what they want
because they have the POWER to do so!  Well, I wouldn't stand for it in
Earth Force under MY watch!  So, I did my damndest to make sure you
were punished for it!  But I should have known better than to challenge
the GREAT General McGregor and his cult of personality that protects
him!  So, here you stand!"

"Alright, you've spoken!" yelled McGregor.  "Now let me tell you
something!  Those bastards deserved exactly what they got!  The
Peacekeepers on that ship violated every code of decency, and the
actions I took were to attempt to make sure they never did such a thing
again!  Now, those actions may not have been pretty, but war rarely is!
You know that!  The only thing I'm sorry about is that my actions
somehow created a rift between us.  I have never tried to be a god, or
even a great man.  I've just tried to be a good man, and a loyal
servant of our people!  As have you.  Now, we have to work with each

"No we don't," interrupted Achebe.  "I have just given the President my
resignation, in protest of your being re-commissioned.  I am on my way
to pack up my office."

"General, don't do this," said McGregor.  "Look, I know that you are
upset, but we need you, your wisdom..."

"I have to pack," said Achebe.  "Good luck to you, 'General'." Without
another word, Achebe stormed past McGregor towards his office.
McGregor stood in stunned silence for a moment, watching Achebe until
he turned a corner and left his field of vision.

McGregor then turned, and went to the door of the conference room.  He
entered, and found President Schroeder and the members of the Joint
Chiefs waiting for him.

"Ah, General McGregor," said President Schroeder.  He walked over and
shook McGregor's hand.  "I was glad to hear you agreed to come back."

"Thank you, sir," replied McGregor.  "I just spoke to General

"Yes," said Schroeder.  "I assume he told you about his resignation."

"Yes, sir," replied McGregor.

"Well, its unfortunate," said Schroeder with a sigh.  "But he made it a
choice between him and you.  We need you more.  General Zuchov has been
appointed the new Chairman."

"Congratulations, Nicoli," said McGregor.  He walked over to a smiling
Zuchov and shook his hand.

"Thank you, Robert," said Zuchov.  "I only wish it would have been
under better circumstances."

"Well, gentlemen," said Schroeder.  "Why don't we brief McGregor on
what his mission is, and start getting down to planning it."

Several days later, Lt. Joe Taylor was adjusting his dress uniform,
making sure every part of it from ribbons to belt to collar were
absolutely perfect.  The fair haired, handsome young Texan looked at
himself in the mirror, satisfied with his uniform's appearance.  At
that moment, a dark haired young woman with tan skin and dark eyes came
up behind him, and wrapped her arms around him.

"Yalon, honey," said Taylor in protest, gently removing his lover's
hands from around his waist.  "Not now.  You'll mess up my uniform."

He turned and faced Yalon Marst, former Peacekeeper officer and pilot,
whom he had met when they shot down each other's fighters and landed on
a deserted planet.  They had learned to survive by working together on
that planet, and their relationship had changed from one of adversaries
to friends.  When they were rescued by an Earth Force patrol, Marst
became a prisoner of war.  But Taylor made sure he could still see her,
and did so every chance he could while she was in detention.

The two of them eventually fell in love, and Marst decided to defect
from the Peacekeepers permanently to be with the man she loved.  As a
result of her declared defection, and cooperation with Earth
authorities, she was granted conditional release.  Taylor and Marst
have lived together since that day.

"Joe, don't be so obsessive," said Yalon.  "I just wanted to hold you
for a moment."

"I'm sorry, Yalon," replied Joe.  "But we are meeting with General
Robert McGregor today.  I mean, General McGregor.  The hero of Epsilon,
the first to make contact with the Sebacean Royal Colonies, the scourge
of the Scarrens, the liberator of Outpost 470 during the Drakh War, the
wall of Signet.  I have always wanted to meet this man.  Now, I am.  We
both are."

"His record is impressive," said Marst.  "I admit, I'm a little
nervous.  But more to the point, I am curious.  Why the frell does he
want to meet with both of us?"

"Don't know," replied Taylor.  "But we'll soon find out."

They left their guest lodgings in Geneva, and boarded a transport tube
for Earth Dome.  The ride over was a quiet one, both Taylor and Marst
feeling nervous about their meeting with General McGregor.

When they got to Earth Force Headquarters in Earth Dome, they were
directed to General McGregor's office.  A lieutenant outside greeted
them, telling Taylor and Marst that the General was expecting them.

Taylor and Marst stepped into an office, and saw a tall man with
graying brown hair and a firm build standing with his back to the door.
He was looking out a window, as if he were waiting for Taylor and Marst
to announce themselves.

"Sir," said Taylor, as he snapped to attention, and saluted.  "Lt.
Joseph Taylor reporting as ordered, sir."

McGregor turned around, and returned Taylor's salute.  Marst, who also
stood at attention in the presence of the General, stood speechless,
not knowing what to say.  McGregor spoke to Marst first.

"You are Yalon Marst, I presume?" asked McGregor.

"Yes, sir," replied Marst.  "Yalon Marst, former Officer, Spearstone
Company, Krelstar Regiment."

"At ease, both of you," said McGregor.  "I'm glad you both could come,
because I have a job in mind for both of you.  If you are willing to
volunteer.  But first, I need to know something about Marst here."

"Yes, sir," said Marst in an inquisitive.

"I understand you have renounced your loyalties to the Peacekeepers,"
said McGregor.  "Care to explain to me why?"

"Well, sir," said Marst.  "I...I'm sure I could never go back there.
And...I wouldn't want to."

"Why?" pushed McGregor.

"Because I have..." she looked at Joe.  "I love him.  I never want to
leave him."

"I see," said McGregor.  "So, you have defected for love, is that about
the size of it?"

"Yes, sir," said Marst.  "I know that may be difficult to

"No, it isn't," said McGregor, thinking of his wife, Jenavia.  "Believe
me, it isn't hard to understand at all.  Very well.  I must ask you to
take an oath, a word of honor.  Will you do that?"

"Yes, sir," replied Marst.

"Taylor, will you vouch for her word?" asked McGregor.

"Yes, sir," said Taylor.

"Good," said McGregor.  "Yalon Marst, do you swear to uphold the
constitution of the Earth Alliance, and to defend the Earth Alliance
against all enemies, foreign and domestic?"

"I do, sir," replied Marst.

"Very well," said McGregor.  "Under special authority from the
President, I herby offer you a field commission of Junior Grade
Lieutenant in Earth Force.  Do you accept?"

Marst was startled at first, not knowing what to say in reply.  After a
few moments, she managed to mutter a reply.  "Yes, sir."

"Are you sure?" asked McGregor.  "Accepting means taking on a dangerous

"I will do it, sir," said Marst.  "To prove myself."

"And you, Lt. Taylor," said McGregor.  "Are you willing to volunteer
for a dangerous mission?  Its classified, so I can't give you the
details unless you volunteer."

"Yes, sir," said Taylor.  "It would be an honor to serve with you,

"Good," said McGregor.  "You're herby promoted to the rank of
Lieutenant Commander.  You are going to be my second in command.  LtJG.
Marst, here, will be our tactical advisor on the Peacekeepers.  Now,
let's get to work.  I'll start by briefing you on the mission."

"Why you?" asked Elana Renaes-Crichton of her husband, Jack Crichton.
The son and daughter-in-law of John Crichton and Aeryn Sun-Crichton
were talking about a decision Jack had made to volunteer for the
mission that General McGregor was putting together.  No one in Earth
Force outside of a few people knew what the mission was, but everyone
was talking about how General McGregor was asking some of the best
pilots in Earth Force to join him on it.

Jack Crichton had received a field commission as a Junior Grade
Lieutenant in Earth Force during the Peacekeeper invasion. The
commission had been signed by both McGregor and General Achebe.  During
the invasion, both Jack and his wife, Elana, a former Peacekeeper
Technician, were key advisors to the fleet on Peacekeeper systems and
technology.  After the invasion, Jack stayed in Earth Force and was
accepted into Starfury flight training.  A month ago, Jack graduated
from flight school at the top of his class.

Meanwhile, Elana had given birth to their first child, a daughter they
named Aeryn, after Jack's mother.  Elana now held little Aeryn in her
arms, as she pleaded with Jack not to volunteer for this mission.

"Why not me?" asked Jack.  "I have vital experience in fighting the
Peacekeepers, I am a skilled pilot.  Uncle Robert could use me out

"So you are going to leave me, leave little Aeryn?" asked Elana in

"I have to do this, honey," said Jack.  "Elana, believe me, I don't
want to leave you and our baby.  But, a lot of people have gone to
fight this war, and left families behind.  My parents are out there in
this war.  I want to be, too.  I feel like I can contribute to this
mission that McGregor is leading, whatever it is.  He needs good pilots
with experience fighting Peacekeepers.  That's me."

"I can't change your mind," said Elana.

"No, you can't," said Jack.  He walked over to Elana, and took her and
their baby into his arms.  "I will come back.  I promise you."

They kissed for a long moment, and Jack lowered his lips to his baby
girl's forehead.  He then held his wife and child in his arms for a
long time, enjoying the closeness of his family.  Quietly, Elana
sobbed, leaning into her husband's embrace while still cradling her

"General McGregor, sir," said the voice of McGregor's aid over a comm

"Yes, Lieutenant," replied McGregor.

"Sir, LtJG. Jack Crichton is out here, requesting to see you," replied
the Lieutenant.

"Very well," replied McGregor.  "Send him in."

McGregor wondered why the son of his good friends was here as Jack
entered the office.  The young Crichton came to attention, and saluted.
"Sir," said Jack.  "Lt. Junior Grade John Robert Crichton, III,
requests permission to speak with the General, sir?"

"Permission granted," said McGregor with a smile.  "At ease."  McGregor
reached out his hand, and Jack took it in a firm handshake.  "How are
you, Jack?"

"Fine, Uncle Robert," said Jack.  "Congratulations on your re-
commission, sir."

"Thank you," said McGregor. 

"How is Aunt Jena handling it?" asked Jack.

"Well, she isn't thrilled that I'm back in the saddle," said Robert.
"But, she understands, just like she always has.  And how are Elana and
that darling baby girl of yours?"

"They're wonderful, sir," said Jack.  "Elana told me to give you her

"Thanks," said Robert.  "Now, what did you need to see me about?"

"Sir," began Jack, "I understand that you are signing on fighter pilots
for some kind of special mission.   No one knows what it is, but its
pretty much understood to be some action against the Peacekeepers."

"I might be, and I might not be," said McGregor.  

"I'm inclined to think you are, sir," said Jack.  "If so, I would like
to volunteer."

"Come again?" asked McGregor.

"Sir, I have a great deal of experience in fighting the Peacekeepers,"
said Jack.  "My parents and Uncle D'Argo have been training me to fight
them since I was 13.  I have seen action against them sir, both on the
ground and in my Mother's Prowler.  I graduated at the top of my class
from Starfury flight school.  Before that, my parents trained me to fly
when they started training me to fight.  You need me, sir."

"Jack, you have been out of flight school for about a month," said
Robert.  "Granted, your parents taught you well, and you have combat
experience against the Peacekeepers.  But I need Starfury pilots who
have had combat experience in Starfuries.  I'm signing on pilots who
have been flying for years, with hundreds of flight hours and multiple
combat missions.  Frankly, you just don't have the experience."

"Sir, may I speak frankly?" asked Jack.

"Go ahead," said Robert.

"Sir, is this about me or about my parents?  Are you protecting me for
their sake?" asked Jack.

McGregor was silent for a moment before replying.  "Partially, yes,"
said Robert.  "Your parents are out there now in the field.  You and
your wife have just had a baby.  I've known you since you were a kid,
and I don't want to see you hurt."

"Sir," said Jack.  "There have been three men who I have respected
during my lifetime.  One is my Father, another is Uncle D'Argo.  The
third person is you.  I want to help you, Uncle Robert.  Please."

McGregor turned around and walked towards the window.  He stared out
the window for a few moments, lost in thought.  Robert finally spoke
after a full minute of quiet contemplation.

"You can go on two conditions," said Robert.

"Name them, sir," replied Jack with a smile.

"One," said Robert.  "You demonstrate to me personally that you can
drop ordinance on a ground target from a Thunderbolt Starfury under a
certain set of parameters.  Two, you fly with me.  You're my

"But sir," protested Jack. "I'm a pilot, not a backseater."

"Those are my conditions," said Robert.  "Take em, or leave."

Jack was slow to reply, but finally nodded his head.  "Alright, sir.  I

A day later, a group of Earth Force officers stood on the airfield of a
small base in the mountains of Montana.  Behind them on the field were
a group of twenty SA-24 Thunderbolt Starfury fighters, lined up in a
row.  There were thirty-eight pilots and backseat officers standing on
the field, waiting for their commanding officer to show up with the
details as to why they were there.

They were approached from a nearby hangar by a group of three men.
These three individuals were General Robert McGregor, Lt. Commander Joe
Taylor, and a Minbari Ranger.  McGregor was dressed in a brown leather
jacket, one given to him by his Uncle when he had graduated from
Starfury flight school.  Pilots on Earth had been wearing jackets of
this type for centuries, and the General decided to pull it out of
mothballs now that he was back in flight ops.  The trio approached the
group, and Taylor yelled for them to fall in.

The officers who fell into line and dressed their ranks included
Lieutenant Junior Grades Yalon Marst and Jack Crichton.  Crichton had
been given the okay by McGregor when the General saw the young man
conduct an impressive practice bombing run.  When the officers were
standing at attention, their ranks dressed and aligned, McGregor spoke.

"This mission which I have selected you for will be a dangerous one,"
began McGregor.  "It is very likely that many of you, or most of you,
or all of us, may not come back.  Before I go into details about what
this mission might be, I give you one last chance to back out.  It will
not be held against you if you do decide leave.  If you decide to stay,
you will not be allowed to leave this base until we depart Earth for
our destinations.  That's why you were told to make your goodbyes to
your families before you came here."

Everyone looked around, and saw no one moving to leave.  After a few
moments, McGregor smiled.  "Well, I wish I could say that you were
going to be greatly rewarded for your bravery in staying.  All I can
promise you is mortal danger and the possibility of capture by the
enemy or death.  But, I am also offering you the chance to strike at
the Peacekeepers where it hurts!  Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to
hit Peacekeeper High Command headquarters on Sebacea!"  This statement
stunned every man and woman on the field.  Murmurs filled the ranks of
pilots as McGregor continued.  "We will be launched by five White Stars
in the atmosphere of Sebacea.  They will make a direct line jump
through hyperspace to Sebacean low orbit.  The White Stars are not made
to normally accommodate Thunderbolts, but they are being modified as we
speak.  Once launched, half of our forces will move on a Prowler base
near their HQ, and bomb the crap out of it before they can launch.  The
rest of us will make a direct run for Peacekeeper headquarters, drop
our fire, and do as much damage as we can to the building, and
hopefully kill as many of their top officers as we can!  The White
Stars will give us orbital cover while we strike.  Those who make it
through, will return to the White Stars, and they will then jump back
to hyperspace.  Ranger Dakonni here will be our liaison with the White
Stars.  It is hoped that this strike will deal a serious blow to the
enemy's morale, and at the same time prove to our people and potential
allies that we are going to win this war!"  

"When Lt. Colonel James Doolittle launched a similar raid on Japan
during World War II," continued McGregor, "he called the pilots under
his command his 'raiders'.  You men and women are my raiders!  And
together, we can hopefully pull off what Doolittle and his boys did so
long ago!  Our people need a solid victory right about now.  Let's give
it to them!"

Chapter 8:  Preparing to Strike

General Robert McGregor and Lt. Commander Joe Taylor stood in the
landing field tower at the base where they and their raiders had been
training for about two weeks.  They were watching the flight crews in
the squadron make practice bombing runs in their Thunderbolt fighter-
bombers using concussion missiles.  

After one of the fighters made a run and hit their target, McGregor
spoke to them over the comm.  "Raider 10, your getting it now.
Remember to hold the stick steady until you fire your missiles,
otherwise they'll go wide."

As they prepared for the next crew to make their run, Taylor spoke to
the General.  "Looks like we'll be ready to go tomorrow as planned,
sir," commented McGregor.

"These men are as ready as they'll ever be," said McGregor.  "You can
practice all you want to.  We could put these pilots through ten more
weeks of practice runs, but...they are all experienced pilots, and they
have practiced the mission parameters.  At some point, nothing more you
can do will prepare them for the real thing.  I think we've reached
that occasion."

"Yes, sir," agreed Taylor.  "Sir, may I make a personal request?"

"Depends on the request, Joe," said McGregor.  "If you're about to ask
for a weekend in Vegas, I can't help you."

They both chuckled at the joke.  "No, sir," replied Taylor.  "I need
your permission to marry a fellow officer under your command."

"I guess I don't have to ask you who it is," commented McGregor.
"Permission granted.  You and Yalon should be happy together.  When are
you going to do the ceremony?"

"Don't know, sir," replied Taylor.  "I haven't screwed up the courage
to ask her yet.  Probably while we're in transit to the transfer point
in the Royal Colonies.  Have any advice about being a Sebacean woman's

"Yeah," replied McGregor with a smile.  "PMS is a killer, so when its
that time, don't do ANYTHING to piss her off.  But, you will never find
a more loyal spouse.  Now I can't speak for Marst, I don't know her
that well, but what I've just said applies to my wife and to what I've
observed in Aeryn Sun-Crichton."

"Thanks, sir," said Taylor.  

"Good luck," replied McGregor.

One Month Later

Entilza Susan Ivanova was reading the latest tactical reports in her
quarters on the Excalibur.  The war is going better than it was a month
ago, but not by much.  The ISA fleet was certainly not winning any big
victories.  But thanks to a change in tactics, the hit and run strikes
being made by the Peacekeeper forces were not taking the toll they once

The new tactical idea started on General Kemal's front.  He came up
with the idea of sending a group of destroyers into hyperspace on
short, direct range jumps.  This can be accomplished if your intended
destination is within range of direct, long range scans.  Then, it is a
matter of using the right mathematical calculations to plot the jump.  

When a Peacekeeper fleet strikes, and finally retreats, the force sent
into hyperspace jumps back to normal space within the line of retreat
used by the Peacekeepers.  Then, the enemy force is caught between this
force and the main fleet.  The first time Kemal used this, he
pulverized the entire attacking Peacekeeper force.  Since the idea
worked, Ivanova began using it on her front as did Admiral Lakhat on
the Minbari front.  It came to be called the Kemal Maneuver, and Kemal
became known as the "Tricky Turk".

But each time they do it, the tactic becomes less effective.  For every
action, there is a reaction, and the Peacekeepers have reacted by
adjusting their tactics in attacking.  They haven't found a way to
totally avoid Kemal's maneuver yet, but they will.  Ivanova knew that
was one thing they could count on.  The ISA fleet was advancing at a
greater pace now, but it was still a long road ahead.  Ivanova felt
that the success of the fleet would inevitably come down to General
Robert McGregor and his strike force, which would be arriving in the
Uncharted Territories any time now.

The EAS Indefatigable and the Former Peacekeeper Command Carrier
Krandolia waited at the transfer point in the Sebacean Royal Colonies. 
The Empress was not pleased with seeing a command carrier, even one
allied with the ISA forces, enter Royal Colony space, but General
Hancock used his tact for persuasion to convince her it was necessary. 
The transfer point in which all communications and ships went back and
forth between this region of the galaxy and ISA territory was a space
station constructed using ISA funds and Royal Colony materials and
labor.  It was guarded by four White Stars and four Earth Force
Hyperion class cruisers, along with the station's own defense grid.

The Empress sold it to her people as an employment opportunity for
Royal Colony citizens.  When the war was over, control of the station
would be transferred to the Royal Colony Defense Forces.  The Indy and
the Krandolia had arrived the day before, and now waited for a

Finally, in the middle of the second day, the ships they had been
waiting for arrived.  Five White Stars jumped out of hyperspace, each
one carrying four Thunderbolt Starfury Fighter bombers.  McGregor's
Raiders had arrived after a month's travel through hyperspace.

General Hancock watched from the bridge of the Indefatigable as the
White Stars formed up alongside his ship and the Krandolia.  The bridge
communication's officer informed Hancock that a signal was coming in
from the lead White Star.

Hancock gave orders for the signal to be received on the main viewer.
The image of General Robert McGregor appeared on the screen.  "General
Hancock," said McGregor.  "You sent for the cavalry?"

"Yes, sir," replied Hancock.  "Welcome to the Uncharted Territories."

Later, Hancock, John and Aeryn Crichton, and Fleet Captain Atrios
waited in the landing bay for a shuttle that was being sent from the
lead White Star.  The shuttle arrived, and settled onto the landing bay
deck.  After a few moments, General McGregor and several other officers
stepped out of the shuttle.  A full honor guard piped General McGregor

As McGregor approached Hancock, the latter rendered a smart salute.
McGregor returned the salute, and heartedly shook Hancock's hand.
"Jim," said McGregor.  "Its damn good to see you again."

"And you, Robert," replied Hancock.  "Welcome back to the field, and
welcome back aboard the Indy."

"I see you've taken good care of the old girl," said McGregor.  "I've
also read your reports on what you've been up to.  Outstanding
performance, General."

"Thank you, sir," replied Hancock.  

McGregor then approached the Crichtons.  "John, Aeryn," he said in

"Its good to see you, Robert," said John, as he and Robert exchanged a
firm handshake.  

"It certainly is," said Aeryn, as she too shook McGregor's hand.

"General Robert McGregor," said Hancock.  "Allow me to introduce Fleet
Captain Jani Atrios of the command carrier Krandolia."  Atrios and
McGregor shook hands.

"Your reputation proceeds you, sir," said Atrios.

"I hope that's a compliment, Fleet Captain," replied McGregor.

"It is, sir," said Atrios.  "General Hancock has told me much about
you.  If possible, sir, I would like to speak with you alone, later."

"I suppose we can," said McGregor.  He turned to Hancock and the
Crichtons.  "Allow me to introduce my second in command, Lt. Commander
Joe Taylor." Taylor walked up and shook hands with each of the members
of the Indy's greeting party.  "And this is another officer in my
squadron, LtJG. Yalon Marst-Taylor."

"Yalon Marst," said Atrios.  "Sebacean?"  She asked the question with
an expression of shock.

"Yes, ma'm," replied Yalon.  "I am Commander Taylor's wife.  We were
married during the journey to get here."

"Were you a Peacekeeper?" asked Atrios.

"Yes, ma'm," replied Yalon.  "Formerly of the Spearstone Company,
Krelstar Regiment."

"Under Captain Metari's command, I believe," said Atrios.  "You must
have been captured during the invasion."

"It's a long story, ma'm," replied Yalon.

"Perhaps we should adjourn to the conference room to start our
discussion," said Hancock.

"Oh, wait, before we go," countered McGregor.  "John, Aeryn, I have a
little surprise for you."  McGregor whistled to the shuttle.  "Alright,
Lieutenant," yelled McGregor to the shuttle.  "Get your but out here!"

John and Aeryn immediately recognized their son, Jack, as he stepped
down from the shuttle.  Aeryn broke from her normal sense of military
protocol and ran to greet her son.  She took Jack in her arms, as John
walked up to join them.

"Jack!" said Aeryn.  "My son, what are you doing here?"  

"Hi, Mom," replied Jack.  Then, he stepped back, and snapped a salute. 
"I mean Captain Cricthon, ma'm."

Aeryn returned the salute.  "At ease," she said playfully.  She looked
over her son from head to foot.  "Look at you.  So handsome in that
uniform.  And are those flight wings I see on your shoulder?"

"Yes, ma'm," replied Jack.  "I graduated top of my class."

"Good for you, son," replied John.  "You got a salute and hug for the
old man, not necessarily in that order?"

Father and son exchanged a firm hug, and then quick salutes.  Aeryn's
face turned from joy to horror when she realized why Jack must have
come with McGregor.  "Wait," said Aeryn.  "Jack, you're not flying on
this mission.  Are you?"

"Yes, Aeryn," said McGregor.  "He is."

Aeryn walked over to McGregor.  "We need to talk," she said.  "NOW!"

"Um, General McGregor," said Hancock.  "Perhaps the rest of us should
go on ahead, so you and the Crichtons can talk."

"Very well," said McGregor.  "Aeryn, John, Jack, let's chat."

While Hancock, the Taylors, and Atrios went to the conference room,
McGregor led the Crichtons to a small locker room near the fighter
bays.  When they entered, McGregor ordered two pilots who were there to
give them the room.  As soon as they were alone, Aeryn let loose.

"What the FRELL is MY SON doing here!?" she yelled at McGregor.  

"Remember who you are talking to, Captain Crichton," replied McGregor

"Calm down, baby," said John, as he placed his hand on her shoulder.  

Aeryn took a deep breath.  "I'm sorry, sir," replied Aeryn.

"Apology accepted," said McGregor.  "Now, to answer the question at
hand.  Jack is going to be my backseater on this mission.  He
volunteered to be one of my raiders, and being that he is a skilled
pilot with combat experience against the Peacekeepers, I took him into
the mission.  Since then, he had trained with the rest of the Raiders,
and has done extremely well."

"Jack," said Aeryn.  "Why?  You have a wife and baby back on Earth.
They need you."

"I know that, Mom," said Jack.  "But Earth is my Father's home, the
home of my Human heritage.  I want to do my part to defend it."

"You were, son," said John.  "You and Elana both have given Earth Force
valuable information about Peacekeeper systems."

"That's not the same thing, Dad, and you know it," countered Jack.
"You and Mom both approved of my decision to seek Starfury flight
training.  What did you think that training was for?"

"Jack, this is an EXTREMELY dangerous operation," said Aeryn.  "And
Robert, I still can't believe you agreed to allow him to join the

"Aeryn, every officer in Earth Force has or had a Mother," replied
Robert.  "Jack has the qualifications, and I was at first reluctant to
take him because he is yours and John's son.  But, I had to put aside
my personal feelings.  Jack's right.  He could be invaluable to me in
this operation.  Now, he is going to be with me every step of the way. 
He watches my ass, I watch his."

"Mom, it will be alright," said Jack.

Aeryn put her hands on Jack's shoulders.  "I hope so," she said, as a
tear fell down her cheek.  "If I were to loose you, I..."

Jack took his Mother into his arms, and held her.  As he did so, Jack
looked at his Father.  John nodded to his son a silent sign of approval
for Jack's decision.

About a half hour later, McGregor, John, and Aeryn joined Hancock, the
Taylors, and Atrios in the conference room.  Jack waited with the
shuttle while the senior officers met.

"Alright, let's get started," said McGregor as he and the other
officers sat at the table.  "General Hancock, Captain Atrios, I believe
you have an intelligence update for me on the target."

"Yes, sir," said Hancock.  "Fleet Captain Atrios has been in touch
indirectly with the Sebacean Resistance cell on Sebacea.  I'll let her
brief you on what the resistance told her.  Captain."

Atrios activated a holographic display of the area around Peacekeeper
High Command Headquarters on Sebacea.  "The resistance has given us the
details on their defenses.  They have eight main ground-based frag
cannon emplacements around the headquarters, and anywhere between six
and eight smaller, portable cannons at any given time.  The building
itself is, of course, protected by a defense screen.  But, we are in
luck.  It turns out one of the members of the resistance is a
technician stationed at High Command Headquarters.  He has agreed to
sabotage the base defense screen at any time we tell him to.  Of
course, the message will take some time to get to him, but we have a
code system worked out to do it.  But we have to tell him now."

"Wait," said Lt. Commander Taylor.  "How do we know this guy is on the
level?  He could be a double agent or something."

"That is a possibility," said Hancock.  "Atrios and I have talked about
it.  The resistance assures her that this tech can be trusted."

"I won't lie to you," said Atrios.  "It is a risk.  If you can take
them by surprise, their defenses won't be able to respond in time to
stop you."

"What if they know we're coming?" asked Joe.

"You'll all be blown out of the sky," replied Atrios.

"I think its a risk we have to take," concluded McGregor.  "If their
defense screens are down when we strike, we can do more damage and do
it quicker, then get out quicker, thus improve the survivability of the
mission.  Fleet Captain Atrios, give your contact the word.  One week
from today."

The meeting continued for an hour, as Atrios gave McGregor and the
others the rest of the report from the resistance on High Command's
defenses.  After the meeting broke, Atrios walked over to Yalon Marst-

"Lt. Taylor," said Atrios.  "May I speak with you privately?"

"Of course, ma'm," replied Yalon.  Joe looked at her with concern, but
Yalon nodded to her husband that it was okay.  The rest of the officers
filed out of the room, and Atrios and Yalon were left alone.

"I wanted to ask you about something," said Atrios.  "Why did you marry
that Human?

"Fleet Captain Atrios, with all due respect, I don't see why that is
any of your business," replied Yalon.

"Please, Lieutenant," said Atrios.  "I don't mean to pry into your
personal life.  I want to know because I am...concerned, about

"What?" asked Yalon.

"Just please answer," said Atrios.  "You weren't...forced to marry him
as a condition of your release, were you?"

"NO!" said Yalon.  "Joe and I love each other.  We were stranded
together on a planet.  We got...close.  We eventually fell in love.
Yes, Joe got me released from detainment, but not under any sort of
conditions.  He did it because he loves me.  And we married because we
love each other!  Now, if you will excuse me."

"I'm sorry," said Atrios.  "I didn't mean to offend you.  I just
had...reasons for asking.  I have a feeling that Humans and Sebaceans
will be...closer, together as a result of the new alliance between the
Humans and our people's resistance.  I'm simply trying to get a read on
what the Humans are all about, especially when they are engaged
in...relations, with our people."

"I can't speak for all Sebaceans, and Joe can't speak for all Humans,"
said Yalon.  "But my husband and I have found a bond with each other
that I hope everyone could find.  Its called love."

Later that night, General McGregor was sitting in his guest quarters on
the Indefatigable, listening to music.  He had decided to stay there
for the night so he could dine with Jim Hancock, John, and Aeryn, and
catch up on old times.  Plus, he had been sleeping on Minbari beds for
a month, and he wanted to feel a nice, soft mattress under him again.

He heard a knock at the door.  "Come in," said McGregor.

Fleet Captain Jani Atrios stepped into the room.  "I hope I'm not
disturbing you, General."

"Not at all," said McGregor.  "I thought you would have returned to the
Krandolia by now."

"I wanted to speak with you, remember," said Atrios, as she closed the
door behind her.  "Alone."

"Yes, I remember," said McGregor.  "I must admit, I'm intrigued."

"As am I," said Atrios.  She walked over closer to McGregor, and the
General noticed that her hair was flowing loose, in stark contrast to
the tight braid he had seen it in earlier.  "I've been intrigued by you
ever since the Invasion.  I was even more intrigued after I first saw
you in the landing bay today."

Atrios walked over to McGregor, and place her hands on his shoulders.
"General, I have heard many things about Humans," she said, as she
moved one hand to unzip her uniform blouse.  "I wanted to see if some
of what I've heard about Human men were true."

In shock, McGregor did not move away at first, as Atrios moved to
remove her uniform shirt.  Finally, it registered with Robert's stunned
senses that Atrios was trying to seduce him.  He reacted quickly,
grabbing her arms before she could remove her shirt.

"Fleet Captain!" he said sternly.  "This is highly inappropriate!  I
don't know how they do things in the Peacekeepers, but we don't go
around seducing our superior officers!  Especially when they are
happily married!"

Atrios quickly straightened her shirt, and zipped up her uniform
blouse.  "Wait, please, General," she said.  "I'm sorry.  This is not
what you think.  I was trying to seduce you, but only to see what kind
of man you are?"

"I think you'd better explain that, Captain!" said McGregor.

"No, don't understand," said Atrios.  "Its about Jenavia
Chatto, your wife."

"How do you know Jena?" asked McGregor.

"We grew up together," replied Atrios.  "She was my close friend.  When
I had heard she married a Human, I...well, we are told stories about
how Human males want to force Sebacean women into marrying them.  And
then use our women as...slaves for their pleasuring.  Out of concern
for Jena, I wanted to see what kind of husband you are.  I had hoped
that everything I had heard about you was true, that you were indeed an
honorable man.  I can see I was right."

"Wait a second...Jani Atrios..." A look of realization came upon
McGregor's face.  "I thought your name sounded familiar.  You're Jani!"

"Jena told you about me?" asked Atrios.

"Once, yes," said McGregor.  "Jena has never talked much about her
Peacekeeper past.  She left that all behind when she married me.  But
we were talking about our childhoods once, and she told me about you.
I just didn't connect the name...until now."

"Is Jena happy?" asked Atrios.  "Truly."

"Yes," said McGregor.  "At least, I try to make her happy.  Of course,
we have suffered a great deal of loss in the past year..."

"Your daughter," said Atrios.  "Hancock told me.  I'm so sorry.  Do you think you could tell me about Jena's new life, your

"I'd be happy to," replied Robert.

Chapter 9:  The McGregor Raid

A signal came over the comm system of the White Star for all of the
raider pilots to wake up, and get ready for morning briefing.  Lt.
Commander Joe Taylor and LtJG. Yalon Marst-Taylor woke up in each
others arms, and kissed each other good morning.  General McGregor had
arranged for the newly married couple to have their own private
quarters, ones which were originally assigned to the General.  McGregor
felt that Joe and Yalon should have the time alone together.

Joe and Yalon got up and began to get ready for the briefing.  As they
got dressed, Joe took a long look at Yalon, seemingly studying every
feature of her face.  Yalon noticed Joe's stare.

"Joe, what is it?" she asked.

"Nothing," he replied.  "I just...Yalon, I love you."

"I love you, too," she replied.  They kissed each other for a long,
passionate moment, before returning to the task of getting ready.

General McGregor walked into the briefing room with Lt. Commander
Taylor by his side.  As they stepped into the room, they found the
other raiders pilots waiting for them to arrive.  The raiders came to
attention when their commanding officer and second came into the room,
and McGregor quickly told them to take their seats.

McGregor and Taylor stood at the front of the room, and began the
briefing.  "Alright, raiders," began McGregor, "its show time.  As you
know, the White Stars have been in flight through Peacekeeper territory
for a week now.  Thanks to their Minbari and Vorlon stealth technology,
we have not been detected by the enemy.  In an hour, the White Stars
will jump to hyperspace on a direct line trajectory for Sebacea.  If
the navigators have done their calculations right, we should jump into
normal space in low orbit around Sebacea.  As soon as we jump into
normal space, we launch our fighters.  After launch, we will divide up
into the two sections.  Lt. Commander Taylor will command the section
that hits the Prowler base near High Command headquarters."  McGregor
then looked at Taylor.  "Commander."

"Thank you, sir," said Taylor.  "We're going to proceed on course to
the target at low level, approximately 80 meters off the ground.  Our
job is two fold when we get to the target.  One, destroy as many of the
Prowlers on the ground as we can.  Two, if any Prowlers manage to get
in the air, we take them out.  Everything else on that base is gravy.
Anything on that base is a legitimate target, including personnel.
Fire at will on any target, with priorities given to the before
indicated targets.  We continue the attack until we receive a signal to
break off.  Any questions?"

"Sir," began a pilot, Lt. Frank Webster.  "Does that mean we are
authorized to strafe enemy personnel?"

"Absolutely," said Taylor.  "Any more questions?"

No questions were forthcoming.  "Very well," said Taylor.  "I'll turn
the briefing back over to General McGregor."

"I will command the other section of the attack," said McGregor.  "Our
target is High Command headquarters.  Now, if our contacts in the
resistance have done their job, there should be no defense screens
protecting the building.  We come in at low level, bringing our
fighters to within missile range, and we drop our fire.  Now, there
will be ten fighters hitting that building, each with two concussion
missiles.  Hopefully, if we don't bring the building down entirely,
we'll do extreme damage to the structure.  As soon as we drop our fire,
we signal Taylor's section to break attack, and we get back to the
White Stars for immediate jump back to hyperspace.  Now, we shouldn't
have too many problems from orbital defenses.  The White Stars will
give us orbital cover.  But, ground defenses may be intense.  Be
prepared for them.  Any questions?"

"Sir," began another pilot, Lt. Leslie McAndrews, "what happens if we
get shot down, but survive it.  What can we expect?"

"Lt. Taylor," said McGregor to Yalon.  "Perhaps you could give us an

"If captured," began Yalon, "you will be interrogated by Peacekeeper
inquisitors.  They will use torture and mind probing techniques that
are more painful than can be described.  Since we will have hit High
Command headquarters, they will be enraged, so they will be even more
cruel in their treatment.  Females captured can also expect to be raped
at least once.  In the end, after they've spent several weeks torturing
you for information, and just for the pleasure of inflicting pain, they
will execute in one of a number of slow, torturous ways."

"Lt. Taylor," said McGregor.  "What are your recommendations then if
one is to be captured?"

"My recommendation is not to be captured," replied Yalon.  "Better to
die quickly by crashing your ship into an enemy target, rather than die
slowly and painfully and risk giving the enemy information under

The entire room was silent for a moment, before McGregor responded.
"Well, there you have it, Raiders," said McGregor.  "In my opinion, Lt.
Taylor has given some good advice.  I sure as hell won't be taken
alive.  But, if we do this right, hopefully it won't come to that.  On
the other hand, well, you all know what you signed up for.  This is a
dangerous mission, and you know what's at stake depending on our
success or failure.  If anyone can pull this off, its you.  I for one
am proud as hell to fly with you men and women, because I have never
met a group of people with more skill and more courage.  So, to all of
you, good hunting, and let's take the war to the enemy!"

Ten minutes before the White Stars were scheduled to jump into Sebacean
orbit, McGregor and the rest of his crews got ready.  All of the pilots
had gone by shuttle to their respective ships.  Each White Star had
four Thunderbolt Starfuries on board, and each Thunderbolt had a crew
of two people.  

On the lead White Star, McGregor and LtJG. Jack Crichton, were putting
on their flight suits.  A Starfury flight suit was a bulky thing to
wear, with a large helmet which attached around the collar of the suit.
It was designed to keep the pilot in a pressurized environment, just in
case his canopy was pierced and exposed to the harsh environment of

After they were suited up in everything but the helmet, McGregor turned
to Jack.  "Well, young Crichton," said McGregor.  "Are we ready?"

"Ready when you are, sir," replied Jack.

"Good," said McGregor.  "I'm glad your going to be in my backseat,
Jack.  You're gonna make your Mom and Dad proud."

"Thank you, sir," said Jack.

They made their way out into the hangar, were they found some of the
other pilots doing last minute checks on their ships.  McGregor and
Jack did the same, making sure the flight, weapons, and environmental
systems were all functioning at optimum efficiency.  

As Robert looked over his ship, he happened to glance across the hangar
and saw Joe and Yalon Taylor embracing each other in a long, passionate
kiss.  Yalon had wanted to fly as Joe's backseater, but Joe had
insisted they not be in the same fighter.  He felt that it would be too
much of a distraction for both of them, and McGregor had agreed.
Instead, Yalon would be flying a fighter in McGregor's section, and
would act as the General's wingman.

An alarm sounded over the comm, indicating that the Raiders should man
their fighters.  McGregor and Jack stepped into the cockpit of their
ship, and put on their flight helmets.  Technicians checked to see that
their helmets were secure, and then gave the pilot and backseater a
thumbs up.  The canopy of the cockpit came down, and McGregor and Jack
activated their ships systems.  They ran through their final checks,
and found everything to be ready for launch.

McGregor contacted the other Raiders.  "Raider One to Raider Squadron,
report in."

All of the raiders reported status in numerical sequence, the signals
traveling from one White Star to the other.  As soon as all twenty
Raider fighters reported in, McGregor signaled the White Star's bridge
that all pilots were ready for launch.

A minute and a half later, an alarm sounded indicating that the White
Stars were jumping into normal space.  Five hyperspace jump points
opened up in low orbit around Sebacea, just within the atmosphere.
Just as soon as the White Stars had exited their jump points, McGregor
gave the order to launch.

Twenty Thunderbolt Starfuries were flung like rocks from slingshots out
of the White Stars, and they immediately began an swift dive towards
the surface of Sebacea near their intended targets.  As planned,
Taylor's section of fighters broke away and headed for the Prowler
base, while McGregor's section headed for High Command headquarters.

"Its confirmed, sir," said a Peacekeeper Lieutenant to Admiral Mattoc. 
"Five White Stars have jumped out of hyperspace into low orbit.  They
are now attacking our orbital defense platforms."

"Is that all, five White Stars?" asked Mattoc, as he rushed into High
Command's operation's center.

"No, sir," replied the Lieutenant.  "They launched ships which were
last tracked heading for the capital, but we lost them after a few
moments.  Apparently, they are flying low to avoid scanners."

"Raise our defense screens," said Mattoc.  "And signal all bases to
intercept the enemy."

"Sir," said another officer.  "We can't raise the screens.  They are

"WHAT!?" yelled Mattoc.  "Get me Prowler Base One, tell them..."

"Sir," broke in another officer.  "Prowler Base One reports they are
under attack!"

The ten Thunderbolts under Lt. Commander Joe Taylor's command swooped
in on the enemy air base, firing a barrage of concussion missiles at
the Prowlers that were sitting on the ground like ducks in a row.  The
missiles crashed into the enemy fighters, sending primary and secondary
explosions ripping through the lines of Prowlers.  One Prowler which
had been in the process of takeoff when Taylor's fighters hit was
blasted out of the sky by plasma cannon fire from one of the
Thunderbolts before its pilot could react.

On the ground, alarms blared, and Peacekeepers rushed to their Prowlers
or to defense stations.  Taylor's fighters swooped in on the mob of
Peacekeepers running across the base, and sent plasma cannon fire
cascading into their ranks.  Dozens of Peacekeepers were pulverized by
the blasts or were sent flying through the air by the impact of the
enemy fire.  They could only respond by madly firing their pulse rifles
and pistols in vain at the swift Earth Force fighters as Taylor's
forces rained death on them from above.

Taylor's fighters sent more missiles and plasma cannon fire crashing
into the formations of Prowlers, and began blasting away at the
buildings and hangars that were on the base.  Several defense batteries
came to life, and fired on Taylor's fighters.  Most of the shots from
the Peacekeeper guns went wildly off target, and most of the enemy
batteries were soon silenced by Taylor's Thunderbolts.  The Prowler
base became a mass of confusion as Taylor's fighters did their deadly

General McGregor's section of fighters flew in formation through the
hills around the Sebacean capital, finally coming upon the skyline of
the city on the horizon.  They darted over the cityscape below them,
skimming just above the tops of or amid pyramid like structures and
tall spires.

On the ground, civilians and off duty Peacekeepers looked up and gazed
with shock and horror as Earth Force fighters streaked over their city.
Some of the Peacekeepers who were not taken aback in shock pulled out
their pulse pistols and rifles and began to fire on the enemy fighters.

"Whoa, sir," said Jack to McGregor in the lead Thunderbolt.  "Enemy
small arms fire!"

"I see it," said McGregor.  "Every Peacekeeper with a rifle or pistol
is taking a shot at us, probably.  But its not that light shit I'm
worried about.  It's those frag batteries we're going to run into
around High Command headquarters."

The Thunderbolts headed for a large structure at the center of the
city, High Command headquarters.  It was a dark colored, pyramid shaped
structure which had the Peacekeeper emblem painted on each side of the

"Raider One to Raider Section One," said McGregor over the comms.  "X
marks the spot.  Aim for those Peacekeeper emblems."

McGregor brought his tracking system on line, and got a good target
lock on the enemy building.  As he did so, the enemy frag batteries
came to life, and sent heavy fire into McGregor's formation of

"SHIT!" yelled McGregor. "We're gonna have to fly right through this
crap!  Alright, I've got good tone, pickle is hot!  Hack, bombs away!"

McGregor fired his two concussion missiles at the High Command
building.  Almost simultaneously, the other fighters in his group did
as well.  "Raider section one,  BREAK OFF!"  Yelled McGregor into the
comms.  "Raider section two, your signal is buster!"  That was the
signal for Taylor's section to break off their attack.

As the Thunderbolts broke and turned away, twenty concussion missiles
flew into the High Command building.  The missiles crashed into the
structure, sending explosions ripping through it.  The whole building
shook from the impact, as fire began to engulf much of it, and as the
steel and mortar in the building crumbled and fell.

Under a hail of enemy ground fire, the Thunderbolts swooped up to high
altitude to rendezvous with the White Stars.  As they did so, one of
the Thunderbolts was stuck by enemy fire, and destroyed.  

Jack and McGregor saw the Thunderbolt turn into a fireball.  "General,"
asked Jack.  "Who...who..."

"Lieutenants Chavez and Desilva," said McGregor in a low, mournful

"Dammit!" said Jack in a whisper, a tear falling from his eye.

"Section one to section two, status," commanded McGregor over the comm.
No answer came back in reply.

"Come on, dammit!" said McGregor.  "Somebody in section two, talk to

"This is Lt. Webster, sir," said a voice over the comm.  "Section two
reports, one ship lost."

"Who?" asked McGregor.  "Where's Taylor?"

"Sir, Commander Taylor and Lt. Martin," said Webster.  "We lost them."

McGregor was silent for a few moments, trying to grasp what he had just
heard.  Joe Taylor and his backseater were gone.  He quickly put aside
his grief.  "Sections one and two, dock with your designated ships, and
let's get the hell out of here."

As soon as the Thunderbolts touched down in the landing bays of the
White Stars, the five warships jumped back into hyperspace on a direct
jump trajectory out of the Sebacean system.  After the landing bay was
re-pressurized, the raiders opened their cockpits, and removed their
helmets from their flight suits.  Almost all exhaled a sigh of relief.

McGregor and Jack stepped down from their fighter, and examined their
ship for damage.  They had taken some pretty good hits, but luckily
none that were critical.  As they looked over their ship, they heard a
woman scream.

"NO!"  screamed the woman's voice.

McGregor and Jack ran to the other side of their fighter where the
scream came from.  They saw LtJG. Yalon Marst-Taylor, staring at the
empty landing station where her husband's fighter would have landed if
he had made it back.

The General ran over to Yalon, and she turned around with tears
streaming down her grief stricken face.  "Why?" she cried out.  "Why
did I loose him?  Why did I find love for this man, only to loose him? 
Won't SOMEBODY tell me WHY?!"

Robert took the grief stricken woman in his arms, and held her tight,
allowing Yalon to sob into his chest.  "I don't know, child," said
McGregor.  "I don't know.  I'm so sorry."

The other pilots also came over, and simply stood and watched in
sympathy as the General comforted the newly stricken widow like a
Father would for a daughter.  History would remember this day as a day
of glory.  The pilots who flew in what would be called the McGregor
Raid would become legends, and this would become McGregor's most
remembered act of heroism.  But for Yalon Marst-Taylor, she would
remember this day as the day she lost her husband, the love of her
life, Lt. Commander Joe Taylor.

Chapter 10:  The Turning Tide

Admiral Kastern Polise of the High Command Council walked among the
wreckage of what was left of the High Command complex.  The strike made
by Earth Force fighter bombers have destroyed about 80% of the
structure, with only lower levels in one section of the building
surviving.  She looked as Peacekeeper officers approached the debris
with looks of disbelief.  

The Peacekeepers had thought that Sebacea was safe.  They had good
reason to.  Hostile fire had not touched Sebacea in thousands of
cycles.  Now, with a small group of fighters, the Humans had shattered
that security.

Polise saw Admiral Lanis Jol, her fellow member of the council, come
towards her from the wreckage.  He too had the same look of shock that
the others Peacekeepers did.

"Jol," said Polise.  "Have you seen Admiral Mattoc?

"He's dead," said Jol.  "So is the rest of the council.  All dead.
Hundreds...hundreds of officers dead.   The data spools...thousands of
data spools of information...gone.  A prowler base...devastated.  More
dead there.  Its madness, Polise.  Madness."

"Stop your rambling," said Polise to the shocked Jol.  "Have we had any
luck tracking the White Stars that launched the strike?"

"They came out of hyperspace somewhere near Tranilsa," said Jol.  "Our
forces are trying to track them down from there, but...its difficult to

"We need to establish temporary headquarters elsewhere," said Polise.
"I suggest our base on the northern most continent.  Its isolated, and
we can bolster its defenses."

"Fine, good," said Jol.  "Also, we must...recall more ships to defend
Sebacea.  I would suggest at least thirty command carriers to start
with, then...."

"Wait a moment," said Polise.  "Let's not be hasty.  That's probably
what the enemy wants us to do, weaken our forces at the front.  We can
bolster our defenses without weakening our offensive forces.  We must
pick and choose...."

"What if they hit Sebacea again?!" yelled Jol.  "We must defend our
homeworld!   They could come with more forces next time!"

"They won't," said Polise.  "We'll be better prepared for defense next
time.  But thirty command carriers or more...that's unnecessary."

"Don't you dare question my judgment!" yelled Jol.  "Now that Mattoc is
dead, I am the senior member of the council, therefore I am in COMMAND!
You will obey my orders!"

"Jol, listen..."began Polise.

"CARRY OUT MY ORDERS!" screamed Jol.  "Or I will have you executed for

Polise knew that Jol was correct, that he was now the senior member of
the council.  Admiral Jol now commanded the Peacekeeper forces.  "Yes,
sir," she said quietly.  "I shall tend to them immediately."

She turned and left to recall the command carriers as instructed.
Inwardly, Admiral Polise began to consider their situation now that
Admiral Jol was in command.  "The man is a fool," thought Polise.
"With Mattoc dead, and Jol in command...we may have just lost this

General James Hancock and Fleet Captain Jani Atrios stepped of a
shuttle onto the landing bay deck of the ISA destroyer Excalibur.  They
and their ships, the Indefatigable and Krandolia, had been called to
rendezvous with Entilza Ivanova's command ship in order to meet with
the ISA's fleet commander about a special mission.

Hancock and Atrios were greeted by a Narn Ranger.  "General Hancock,
Fleet Captain Atrios," said the Ranger.  "I am to take you to the

The Ranger lead Hancock and Atrios down the corridors of the Excalibur
to the conference room.  When they arrived, Ivanova rose to greet them.

"General Hancock," said Ivanova.  "Its good to see you."

"And you," he said, as they shook hands.  "May I present Fleet Captain
Jani Atrios, commander of the former Peacekeeper Command Carrier
Krandolia.  Fleet Captain, this is Entilza Susan Ivanova, commander of
the Interstellar Alliance Forces."

The two women shook hands.  "An honor, Entilza," said Atrios unsurely. 
"Did I pronounce the term correctly?"

"Yes, you did," replied Ivanova.  "Its Minbari, it roughly means Ranger
One.  And its good to meet you finally in person.  Well, let's talk."

They sat down around a conference table, and Ivanova activated a
holographic display of the three front advance of the ISA fleet.
"Since McGregor pulled off that raid, we have been encountering less
resistance on all fronts.  We've pushed ahead at a tripled pace, and
have taken four enemy systems in the past five days."

"Have you heard from McGregor?" asked Hancock.

"No," said Ivanova.  "But, as you know, they are having to sneak out of
Peacekeeper territory, with the enemy's wolves snapping at their heals
all the way.  We probably won't hear from him or his men for another
couple of weeks.  We don't even know how many casualties he took.
Fleet Captain, what do your contacts in the resistance have to say
about the damage McGregor did?"

"McGregor's forces leveled High Command headquarters," said Atrios.
"High Command is organizing a new headquarters somewhere, but its
location is being kept quiet.  Also, another bit of news.  Admiral
Mattoc, the head of the High Command Council, is dead, killed in the
raid.  Admiral Lanis Jol is now in command of Peacekeeper forces."

"What kind of man is he?" asked Hancock.

"A total nerf," said Atrios.  "Admiral Polise survived as well, and she
is a brilliant officer.  But that fool Jol is calling the shots."

"I see," said Ivanova.  "Well, Admiral 'Nerf' is reacting to the raid. 
At least ten or fifteen percent of the Peacekeeper forces have been
pulled back from the front, probably to protect Sebacea.  This has left
us with the opening we need."  

Ivanova zoomed in the tactical display on one system.  "We are going to
converge our forces and strike Latrios."

"That's the third largest Sebacean colony," said Atrios.  "Are you sure
your fleet is ready to attack a target so well defended?"

"If not, we'd better get ready," said Ivanova.  "Our forces have been
bogged down for over two months now.  We need to take advantage of the
Peacekeepers while their licking their wounds, regrouping their forces.
I'm going to take the forces I have and strike Latrios in three days."

"What have you heard from Ambassador D'Argo, or from the Rangers sent
to restore Rygel XVI to his throne?" asked Hancock.

"D'Argo says that the Luxans and Illonics have both agreed to join the
war on our side," said Ivanova.  "The McGregor Raid impressed them.
They are organizing their forces now, but won't be ready in time for
Latrios.  No word yet from Hyneria.  I've also gotten word from
President Delenn.  Reinforcements are on their way from the ISA worlds
as we speak, but won't get here for another two weeks.  We don't have
that the time to wait."

"You are going to have a problem," said Atrios.  "There is a small
Peacekeeper base in the neighboring system."

"Well, if it's a small base, what can they do to cause trouble?" asked

"That base has a long range tracking station that could detect your
fleet, and monitor its movements before it got within a day and a
half's travel from Latrios," replied Atrios. "That would give the
Peacekeepers on Latrios time to fortify their positions."

"We'll have to take out that base before the fleet can move on
Latrios," said Hancock.  "Maybe a small, combined strike force.  We can
send the Special Forces unit from the Indefatigable, and one of Atrios'
Marauder teams."  He turned to Atrios.  "Do you think we could do

"Yes," said Atrios.  "But, one thing.  My people have agreed to support
your forces in this war, but they may not take kindly to a Human being
in command."

"I think I have a solution for that," said Ivanova.  "Have Captain
Aeryn Sun-Crichton take command.  She is an officer in Earth Force
Security and Intelligence, after all.  She has the experience
necessary.  It's the perfect compromise.  She's Earth Force, but she is
also a Sebacean, a former Peacekeeper.  Do you think they would follow
her, Fleet Captain?"

"Yes," said Atrios.  "Especially with my endorsement.  I suggest we
send them in one of my Marauders.  It could slip into the base with
security clearances I can provide.  They would have the element of
surprise, and can take out the base."

"Very well," said Ivanova.  "The mission is authorized.  Now, since
I'll need all the ships I can muster for this fight, I want the
Indefatigable and the Krandolia to move with us on Latrios.  Do you
have a problem with that, Fleet Captain?"

"No," replied Atrios.  "My troops are ready to fight for our people."

"Good," said Ivanova.  "Hancock, you'd better brief Aeryn.  Oh, and be
ready to get grief from John."

"Should we send him as well?" asked Hancock.

"No," said Ivanova.  "I want him on the Excalibur as a fleet tactical

"No WAY!" yelled Crichton.  "Dammit, Jim, I am NOT letting Aeryn go on
this mission alone!"

"Captain Crichton," said Hancock.  "I understand your feelings, but you
are speaking to a superior officer."

"John, listen..." began Aeryn.

"No!" yelled Crichton.  "We are a team.  We go in together!"

"John, Ivanova needs you as a fleet tactical advisor," said Aeryn.

"For what," countered Crichton.  "So I can stand on the bridge of the
Excalibur, and look pretty, and say 'I agree, do this'!"

"John, Ivanova needs your experience...."began Hancock.

"She HAS experience fighting the Peacekeepers," said John.

"Not nearly as much as you or I have," said Aeryn.  "John, please.
These are orders.  I am needed on this mission, and Ivanova needs you
with the fleet."

"Aeryn..." began John.

"John," said Aeryn.  "I know I'm your wife, and I know every Human male
protective instinct in you says to protect me.  But never forget that I
have been a warrior all of my life.  I am trained for this mission, and
I am the bridge that the Humans and Sebaceans need to fight side by
side on this mission.  It will be alright."

"John," said Hancock.  "Aeryn is going in with an elite unit.  This is
going to be a swift strike.  We need her for this."

John began pacing around the room madly, trying to find something to
say to get them to change their minds.  Aeryn walked over to him, and
put her hands on his arms, stopping his back and forth movement.

"John," said Aeryn.  "Trust me."

An Earth Force shuttle touched down on the landing bay deck of the
command carrier Krandolia.  Stepping off of that shuttle was Captain
Aeryn Sun-Crichton, decked out in Earth Force green battle fatigues.
She wore a Peacekeeper pulse pistol on her right side, and carried a
Peacekeeper issue pulse rifle.  In a way, the fact she was wearing
Earth Force fatigues and carrying Peacekeeper weapons symbolized her
status as a bridge between two worlds and two forces.

Behind her stepped eight men and one woman, also dressed in Earth Force
fatigues.  All but one of the men carried Earth Force PPG automatic
rifles, and wore PPG pistols on their belts.  These seven men also wore
dark colored berets to indicate that they were members of the elite
Earth Force Special Forces.  The other two people carried the equipment
commonly issued to Earth Force medics.

Aeryn led the group of people over to Fleet Captain Atrios, who was
waiting for them in the landing bay.  "Fleet Captain," said Aeryn.
"Captain Aeryn Sun-Crichton reporting with the 44th Special Forces

"Welcome," said Atrios.  "Follow me.  I'll take you to the Marauder
commando unit you'll be working with."

As they walked down the dark corridors of the command carrier, Aeryn
could not help but feel strange.  It had been many cycles since she had
been aboard a command carrier, but for her it seemed even longer, like
it was another lifetime ago.  So much in her life had changed since the
days she stalked the halls of a carrier in her old Pleisar uniform.
Now, she was returning wearing the uniform of an alien military force. 
The whole situation just felt weird to her.

They entered a mustering room, where the group encountered a five
officers dressed in the brown, leather uniforms of a Peacekeeper
Marauder commando team.  Fleet Captain Atrios signaled for one of the
members of the team to come over, the one wearing Peacekeeper
Lieutenant's insignia.

"Lieutenant Yarster," said Atrios.  "This is your commanding officer
for this operation, Captain Aeryn Sun-Crichton."

"You are Aeryn Sun," said Yarster, staring at Aeryn.

"Yes, only you will address me as Captain Crichton or Ma'm," replied
Aeryn in a stern voice of authority.  "Is that clear?"

"Yes, ma'm," replied Yarster.  "I apologize if I offended you, Captain.
Its just...I've heard so much about you over the cycles.  Every
Peacekeeper has."

"Oh, and what do the Peacekeepers say about me?" asked Aeryn.

"That you are the most infamous traitor of our history," said Yarster. 
"But, those of us under Fleet Captain Atrios' command view you as an
inspiration for our act of rebellion."

"I'm sure I've replaced you, Captain Crichton, on the top of the list
of greatest traitors," said Atrios.  "Defecting with a whole command
carrier will win me that honor, I'm sure.  Now, I'll leave your two
units to get acquainted."

After Fleet Captain Atrios left, Aeryn ordered the two units to fall
in.  She moved to the front of the two formations of soldiers.  "Lt.
Yarster, Lt. Schrier, fall in with me."

Yarster and the Earth Force Lieutenant in charge of the Special Forces
team walked over and joined Aeryn at the front of the unit.  "Lt.
Yarster, this is your Earth Force counterpart, Lt. Schrier.  Lt.
Schrier, Lt. Yarster."

Schrier held out his hand, and Yarster cautiously took it.  "The hand
shake," said Yarster.  "Atrios warned me."

"How do you do?" asked Schrier in an uncertain voice.  "I'm...sure
we'll work well together."

"Yes," replied Yarster simply.

Aeryn turned her attention to the group of former Peacekeepers and
Earth Force soldiers.  "For those of you who don't know me," she began.
"I am Captain Aeryn Sun-Crichton, an officer of Earth Force security
and intelligence.  I am also a former Officer of the Peacekeeper
Pleisar Regiment.  I was chosen to lead this mission because of my
experience and training, but also because I am a Sebacean who serves in
Earth Force.  I am the link between your two units.  From now on, this
unit functions as one team.  We don't have the time to learn how to
play nice with each other, so I will leave all of you to do that
yourselves.  My job is to brief you and get you ready for a mission
which will launch in three days.  You are all professionals, all the
best at commando strike missions.  We do our job and we work together. 
If you think that you can't work together, I'm here to tell you that
you are wrong.  We are fortunate to have two people on our team who are
living proof of that.  Our two medics.  One is a Human, Earth Force
Medic First Class Kumiko Takagi.  The other is a former Peacekeeper
medic, Trayvar Rel.  Both are qualified to treat Humans and Sebaceans,
and they are a TEAM.  Follow their example.  Now, let's get started."

Chapter 11:  Maneuvers and Strikes

Admiral Scorpius stepped into a small building on the outskirts of the
Sebacean capital.  It was a darkened building he stepped into on a
pitch black night, and even the powerful Scarren/Sebacean half-breed
felt a little nervous.

"Is anyone there?" he called out.

"I'm here," said a woman's voice from the dark.  A light came on, and
Admiral Karsten Polise of the High Command Council stood in the middle
of the room.  "I had to make sure you were not followed."

"I was quiet careful," said Scorpius.  "I must say, I am quite curious
to find out why you asked me to come here."

"Its about Admiral Jol," said Polise.  "I wanted to know what you think
of him."

"Are you going to tell him?" asked Scorpius.

"No," said Polise.  "This does not leave this room.  You have my word."

Scorpius gave Polise a long look.  "I believe you," said Scorpius.
"Very well.  Jol is a fool, an idiot.  When Mattoc was alive, Jol was
not a problem."

"But Mattoc is dead," said Polise.  "And now Jol is a problem.  I
propose that you and I remove that problem."

"An assassination," said Scorpius.  "Interesting.  Jol's death would,
of course, put you in command of the council.  But what's in it for

"Shouldn't helping the Peacekeepers' ability to win be enough?" asked

"Do you have to ask such an absurd question, when you know the answer?"
asked Scorpius.  "By all rights, I should have been chosen as a member
of the new High Command council.  But I was not, and we both know why."

"That was Jol's decision," said Polise.  "But when I take over the
council, I can assure you that you will have a place on it."

"Not good enough," said Scorpius.  "I want to be your second on the
council.  That is my condition."

Polise was quiet for a moment before replying.  "Very well," she said. 
"We must remove Jol in order to win this war, and I must have your help
to do it.  Do we have a deal?"

"Yes," said Scorpius.  "What is your plan?"

Captain Aeryn Sun-Crichton watched as troops boarded the Marauder
transport that would take them to the Peacekeeper base.  It had been
two days since she came aboard the Krandolia, and they had been two
hard days.  Her mixed team of Humans and Sebaceans had a hard time
learning to work together.  

At the beginning of the first day, a discussion comparing Peacekeeper
and Earth Force small unit organization ended up in a fistfight.  But
Aeryn did not interfere, instead leaving Lieutenant's Yarster and
Schrier to handle their own troops.  She could have intervened at that
point, but she wanted to see how her Lieutenants would handle it.

Aeryn sat down her two Lieutenants had a long talk about how to handle
things.  All of the troops slept in the same quarters section, ate at
the same tables, worked out in the same room, took baths in the same
communal showers.  Aeryn felt that this would be the best way to foster
a sense of them being one team.  Yarster and Schrier had actually been
a big help in wrangling the troops, finding the ability to come
together as two commanders and discuss how to settle inter unit

One thing that Schrier had suggested was that every person in the unit,
both Human and Sebacean, would wear a blue piece of cloth on their left
arm.  It was sort of a symbol of unit identity, and it would also make
it easier to identify who was friend and who was foe in the fight to
come.  Aeryn took to the idea immediately, and her and her troops would
all set off with the blue cloths on their arms.

Now, at the time of launching, Aeryn knew that they weren't exactly a
team yet.  But they had come a long way in a short while.  She felt
that the only thing that would make them a united team would be to
taste battle together, and that was what they were about to do.

Aeryn boarded the Marauder behind her team, and walked between their
ranks as they sat on benches in the ship.  On one side was the Marauder
commando team, the other was the Earth Force Special Forces unit.   She
checked in with Lieutenants Yarster and Schrier.

"Gentlemen, are we ready?" she asked them.

"Marauder team reports ready, Captain," said Yarster.

"44th Special Forces team ready, Captain," said Schrier.

"Good," said Aeryn.  "Be sure to have every one of them check their
weapons thoroughly for malfunctions.  We'll go over the plan again on
the way.  I need to check in with the pilots."

Aeryn walked forward to the Marauder flight control consoles.
"Officers," said Aeryn, "are we ready for launch?"

"We are, Captain," said one of the pilots.  "We have clearance."

"Good," said Aeryn.  "Launch."

"Ah, Admiral Polise," said Admiral Jol, watching as Karsten Polise
stepped into his temporary offices in a building near the destroyed
High Command headquarters.  "So glad you could join us."

"Us, sir," said Polise in a confused tone.

"Yes," said a voice from the shadows behind Polise.  A figure stepped
out of the shadows, and Polise recognized the form before the man's
face was revealed by the light.  It was Scorpius.  "Us."

"Admiral Scorpius," said Polise with shock.  She turned her attention
to Jol.  "Admiral Jol, what's going on?  I thought you said you wanted
to talk to me about...."

"I lied," said Jol.  "Scorpius has shown me something very interesting.
I'm sure you'll want to see it.  Admiral Scorpius, if you would do the

"Of course, sir," said Scorpius.  He walked over to a hand held holo
projector, and plugged in a data chip.  The projector presented an
image of Admiral Polise.

"Mattoc is dead," said the image of Polise on the viewer.  "And now Jol
is a problem.  I propose that you and I remove that problem."

Polise watched in horror as her conversation with Scorpius from the
night before played before her and Jol's eyes.  

"An assassination," said the voice of Scorpius on the viewer.
"Interesting.  Jol's death would, of course, put you in command of the

"I think that's quiet enough," said Jol in an angered voice.  "Shut it
off, Scorpius."

Scorpius complied with the order, as Jol activated a comm unit.  "Come
in, now," he said into the unit.

Four Peacekeeper guards armed with pulse rifles came into the room.
They came up behind Admiral Polise and disarmed her.  "Admiral Polise,"
said Jol.  "I hereby order that you be placed under arrest for high
treason!  You would dare plot to kill me!  I am the leader of the High
Command Council.  I now lead the PEACEKEEPERS!  Who are you to question

Polise looked at Scorpius.  "You have just moved to keep a madman in
charge of our futures," she said.

"I merely supported my leader against a traitor," said Scorpius.

"And he will be well rewarded for it," said Jol.  "He will take your
place as my second on the council.  As for you, I have not decided what
to do with you yet.  Regulations give me special dispensation to decide
in these cases.  I could just have you shot,, I have something
else in mind.  Keep her under guard, we'll take her with us to the new
base, put her in a cell there until I enact her punishment."

"Yes, sir," said one of the guards.  "Come on, traitor."  The guards
put Polise and handcuffs and dragged her out of the room.  After they
were gone, Scorpius turned to speak with Jol.

"Sir," said Scorpius.  "I would never question your decision in front
of others, it wise to leave her alive even for a short time.
She could have supporters...."

"My dear Scorpius," said Jol.  "I appreciate your concern, and your
loyalty.  But have no fear.  I will deal with Polise soon enough.  Now,
would you make sure the final preparations have been completed for our
move to the new headquarters."

"As you command, sir," said Scorpius, turning and leaving Jol to relish
his victory.  When Scorpius got outside, he was greeted by Captain
Bracca, his loyal aid.

"Sir," said Bracca.  "I know I don't normally question your decisions,

"You are wondering why I backed that fool Jol instead of Polise," said

"Sir," said Bracca, "I don't mean to speak ill of Admiral Jol,
but...Admiral Polise would be far more confident to command."

"Agreed," said Scorpius.  "That is exactly why I had to get her out of
the way.  Jol will be far easier for me to manipulate, to control from
the sidelines.  And, at the right time, I will dispose of him as well
in such a way that I will not be suspect."

Bracca smiled.  "Which would make you the new leader of the council,"
said Bracca.  "A brilliant move, sir."

"Thank you, Bracca," said Scorpius.  "I have always recognized your
loyalty to me.  It will be rewarded.  When I take command of the
council, you will receive a position on it.  How does Admiral Bracca
sound, hmm?"

"Entilza," said Lennock to Ivanova.  "General Kemal has arrived with
the Earth fleet."

"Good, both Kemal's and Lakhat's forces are now here" said Ivanova.
"Send the General a request that he come aboard the Excalibur for a
meeting to discuss the plan for our assault.  Also, send a similar
message to Admiral Lakhat, and tell him to come as well."

"Yes, Entilza," said Lennock, before turning to carry out Ivanova's
orders.  Ivanova looked away from Lennock's retreating form, and saw
Captain John Crichton sitting in the bridge conference room sulking.
She decided to go and talk to him.

"Well," said Ivanova to Crichton, as she entered the room.  "Looks like
you need someone to talk to.  Or an enema, one of the two.   So, which
is it, Crichton?  Worried about Aeryn, or are you just constipated?"

"Susan," said Crichton.  "I'm really not in the mood for jokes."

"Okay," said Ivanova.  "Then spill it.  Talk to me."

"Why couldn't you let me go with Aeryn?" asked Crichton.  "I should be
with her."

"Look, John," said Ivanova.  "Believe, I am the expert on what being
left behind feels like.  I mean, between my Mother and my brother,
Ganya, and...Marcus, I know what it feels like to watch others go off
into danger without me.  But the difference is, all those people didn't
come back to me.  But Aeryn will come back to you.  She is tough, and
skilled, and she is going in with a damn good team.  I know my friend. 
Aeryn will not leave you alone.  And I need you here.  Look, you and
Aeryn have more experience than anyone in the fleet with Peacekeepers."

"What about Atrios?" asked Crichton.

"Atrios will have a ship of her own to command," countered Ivanova.  "I
need someone on the bridge with me during this fight.  I need your
experience, your skill, your insight.  I need you, John.  Can I count
on you?"

"Come on, Susan," said Crichton.  "You know I'll help any way I can.
Its wife is going on a strike. My son just flew in the
McGregor Raid, and is now out in Peacekeeper territory somewhere trying
to get back to our lines with the rest of McGregor's unit.  I feel like
I'm the only one not doing anything."

"You will," said Ivanova.  "Just by being here in case I need you."

The Marauder carrying Aeryn's team approached the planet where their
target was located.  She stood behind the two pilots of the Marauder,
watching as the planet grew larger and larger in her line of vision.
They continued to approach the planet with still no response from the
Peacekeeper base that was there.

Finally, two Prowlers streaked over the top of the Marauder, darting
into the field of view of the two pilots and Aeryn.  When she saw them,
Aeryn turned to Lieutenants Yarster and Schrier, a silent nod telling
them to get ready.  

Aeryn then turned and activated communications, opening a channel to
the Peacekeeper Prowlers.  "Attention Prowlers," said Aeryn.  "This is
Lieutenant Lasilia Buneas of the Ustar Regiment, Special duty
assignment.  Identify yourself."

"This is Prowler wing one, Base Gamma 40," replied a voice from over
the comm.  "What is your purpose here?"

"Re-supply and maintenance check," Aeryn replied.  "My clearance is
Talsa 6989, confirm."

After a few moments, the voice replied.  "Security clearance verified. 
Proceed on vector 23 for landing clearance."

"Very well," said Aeryn, deactivating the comm channel.  She moved to
the back of the Marauder to where her team was to give them last minute

"Alright," said Aeryn.  "We land in 500 microts.  As soon as we touch
down, I will open the hatch.   Exit in pairs, and shoot every target
you see.  Move out quickly, use short controlled burst, and move to the
doors.  Our goal is to set charges on their long range tracking
station, blow it, and get the frell out.  Medics, be prepared to treat
casualties with priority in getting them mobile to be evacuated.  Earth
Force team, remember, be sure to not to shoot anyone from our team.
You should know them by sight, now, but when in doubt, look for the
blue cloth on the arm.  Any questions?"

"No, ma'm," replied all of them in unison.

"We're setting down now, Captain," said one of the pilots from the
flight stations.

"Alright, stand by," said Aeryn.  All of the Marauder commandos and
Earth Force soldiers stood up, and readied their weapons.  Pulse rifles
were armed, and PPG rifles were charged and hummed to life.  As soon as
she could feel the Marauder touch ground, she activated the controls to
open the hatch.  

As the hatch opened, Aeryn yelled.  "NOW!"

On signal, a Marauder commando and an Earth Force soldier jumped out of
the ship and opened fire.  Stunned Peacekeeper guards on the landing
pad were hit before they could react.  In pairs, the Sebacean and Human
soldiers under Aeryn's command jumped from the Marauder and opened
fire.  The sight and sound of pulse rifle and PPG blasts filled the
scene, knocking down the Peacekeeper guards that tried to put up
resistance to the surprise onslaught.

Aeryn jumped out of the Marauder last, a pulse rifle in one hand and a
pulse pistol in the other.  As she joined her team in the firefight, an
alarm sounded as the base was alerted to the attack.  The initial
Peacekeeper resistance was overcome quickly, as Aeryn's team made their
way into the base complex.

Human and Sebacean fought side by side down the corridors of the base. 
Earth Force Special Forces troopers opened fire with their PPG
automatic rifles, sending barrages of deadly fire at the enemy.
Marauder commandoes opened up with their pulse rifles in rapid
succession, taking down their former Peacekeeper comrades as fast as
they could put up a fight.

One of the Marauder commandos went down, and Earth Force Medic Kumiko
Takagi rushed to his aid.  "Take it easy," she said.  "I've got you.
Where are you hit?"

"My chest," he replied in a pained tone. 

"Alright, let's take a look," said Takagi in a calm and soothing voice,
as the fire from both friend and foe filled the air around them.

Meanwhile, Aeryn's team advanced down the corridor.  According to base
schematics provided by Captain Atrios, who once served on the base they
were attacking, the tracking station was nearby.  She pressed her
soldiers forward, firing madly with her own two weapons as they

It seemed that nothing could stop the advance of Aeryn's forces.  As
she had hoped, battle had forged Human and Sebacean into a fighting
team.  Marauder commando covered Earth Force soldier as they advanced,
and vice versa.  One of the Earth Force soldiers was hit, and a
Marauder commando, a female officer, pulled him out of the line of

"Thanks," said the Human to his Sebacean comrade.

"You'll be alright," she replied, then yelled for Medic Trayvar Rel.
"Rel!  Get over here!"  Rel ran over, and began to treat the fallen
Human soldier.  The Marauder commando that helped him returned to the

"There," yelled Aeryn, pointing towards a door.  "That's the target.
Move in!"

After only five minutes of combat, Aeryn's forces had reached their
objective.  Two of the Earth Force soldiers ran up to the door, and
laid charges.  The rest of the team covered them as they worked.  Aeryn
watched as more enemy troops came up from the direction of the landing
pad, and opened fire on her team.  They were between them and their
Marauder, and Aeryn knew that it would be a harder fight getting out
than getting in if they went that way.

After a few moments, the door to the tracking station was blasted open.
Several Earth Force troopers poured into the room, and killed the two
Peacekeepers on station there.  While the Marauder commandos provided
cover outside, the Earth Force soldiers went about laying charges to
blow the station sky high.  As they did so, Aeryn called over
Lieutenant's Yarster and Schrier.

"Look," she told them.  "There are too many enemies between us and the
Marauder where it is now.  We're going to have to find another place to
board the ship."

"If I remember correctly," said Yarster.  "The schematic said that the
Prowler landing field was nearby.  We could have the Marauder pick us
up there."

"Sounds good to me, Captain," agreed Schrier.

"Good," said Aeryn.  "That's what will do.  Tell your people to move
out in that direction."  She then activated her comm unit.  "Marauder,
this is Captain Crichton.  Pick us up at the Prowler landing field."

"Yes, ma'm," replied one of the pilots over the comm.

"Captain," said Schrier.  "Charges have been set."

"Good, let's go," she said.  She then yelled to her soldiers.  "TEAM!
We are LEAVING!"

Aeryn and her team fought their way away from the tracking station, and
down another corridor leading off to the right.  Since the Peacekeepers
thought they would leave the way they came, Aeryn's team encountered
less resistance down this corridor.

Within a few minutes, they had fought their way out of the building to
the Prowler landing field.  When they got there, Aeryn turned to three
of the Earth Force soldiers.

"Esteban, O'Hara, Reiben," she said.  "Grenades!  Take out some of
those Prowlers."

They nodded, and carried out the orders.  The three men ran up and
tossed grenades into the cockpits of six of the Prowlers.  The blasts
from the grenades didn't destroy the ships, but did heavy damage to
their cockpits.  But as the three men ran to rejoin their unit,
Peacekeeper fire caught them in the open.  All three of them fell, dead
before they hit the ground.

Human and Sebacean on Aeryn's team watched as their comrades were
struck down, and both reacted violently.  They ran into the open and
opened up with a mad barrage of pulse rifle and PPG fire on the enemy
soldiers that had killed their comrades, exacting a heavy punishment
for their deaths.  Takagi, Rel, and Aeryn pulled the three bodies off
of the field, as the Marauder came in for a landing.

All of the members of the team boarded the Marauder, the living
carrying the dead, and settled down in the ship as it took off.  The
Marauder shot up out of the atmosphere, and as it did so, Lt. Schrier
activated a hand held control box.  His action set off the explosives
set on the tracking station, blowing the station up in a series of

As the Marauder came into orbit, Aeryn took stock in the condition of
her men.  Takagi came up to Aeryn to report on the casualties.  

"Captain," she said.  "Report, four dead, one wounded."

"Four?" asked Aeryn.

"Yes," she replied.  "Esteban, O'Hara, and Reiben.  Also, Officer
Hilto, one of the Marauder commandos.  I couldn't save him.  Private
Baker was also hit, but he'll be alright."

"Thank you, medic," said Aeryn.  "Carry on."

"Yes, ma'm," replied Takagi.

Aeryn turned her attention back to her soldiers.  She had noticed a
change in them from the time the battle had begun to now.  They were
talking to each other about the battle, checking each other for wounds,
helping each other secure their weapons.  As Aeryn had hoped, the
battle had forged two units into one, and had brought two groups of
people who had once been enemies together.  That may have been just as
great a victory as the battle they had just won.

Chapter 12:  Exacting a Price

Admiral Lanis Jol stepped into a small, dark room in the new High
Command headquarters.  He closed the door behind him, thus momentarily
cutting off all light from the dark room.  Jol didn't need the light to
hear the breathing that was coming from the chained figure in front of

He moved over to a wall, and activated a control which turned on a
bright beam of light pointing from the ceiling.  The light illuminated
the form of Karsten Polise, chained to the wall of her small cell.
Polise turned her head away from the light, trying to shield her eyes
from the painful light that had pierced into her darkened world of the

Polise was stripped naked, and had welts and bruises all over her body
from being beaten.  Jol had personally supervised two of his henchman,
as they pounded their fists into the former Admiral's body without
mercy.  He had smiled and reveled in seeing his old adversary, his
would be assassin tortured.

Jol and Polise had never gotten along.  Although he was senior to her
on the council, Admiral Mattoc had almost always deferred to Polise for
advice rather than him.  Mattoc knew well that Jol had gotten to his
position by political maneuvering and pleasing the right people in High
Command, not by ability.  On the other hand, Polise was the youngest
member of the council, but at the same time the brightest.  Polise and
the other members of the council had also known of Jol's potential for
bouts of insanity and cruelty to those who he saw as enemies.  Now,
Polise found herself in the position of being his greatest enemy.

"Well, well," said Jol as he approached Polise's chained form.  "You
are looking quite fetching today.  Funny, welts and bruises do not
often improve the appearance of a woman's nude form.  But on you, it

Polise merely gazed at Jol with eyes full of hatred for her torture and
humiliation at his order.  "What now," said Jol, "no comment from my
favorite traitor.  I could have sworn that I did not ask my men to cut
out your tongue.  But, if you choose not to use your tongue, I could
have it removed.  After all, we wouldn't want to waist it."

"What do you want?" asked Polise.

"Ah, that's better," said Jol.  "She speaks, at last.  Now, to answer
your question, I have what I want.  What I want is the woman who tried
to kill me in chains, and here you are.  Its deciding what to do with
you, that's what I came here to try to decide.  I needed inspiration
about what to do with you, and I felt that coming here and seeing you
like this would suite that purpose very well.  And it has."

"So, how am I to be disposed of?" asked Polise in a voice of defiance.

"I've decided not to kill you," said Jol.  "Yet.  That would just be
too...easy.  Seeing you now, covered in your bruises and welts, I was
remembering how much fun it was watching you writhe in pain.  I want to
have more fun like that."  Jol walked over to Polise, and began to run
his fingers from her neck down towards her breasts.  "There are many
kinds of pain, Polise.  And you are going to experience them all.  You
are my slave, stripped of all rank and all title and..." He laughed.
"...even all of your clothing.  Hmmm.  You will be my play thing.  I
will use you for my amusement, until I'm bored.  Then, I will kill you

Private Mark Baker stepped out of the infirmary on the command carrier
Krandolia.  He had been wounded in the raid he had participated in
under Captain Aeryn Sun-Crichton's command, but his wounds were healing
up nicely.  Baker went to rejoin the rest of the members of his unit.

The young man made his way down the corridors near the crew quarters
section where Aeryn's unit was being berthed.  Just before he got
there, he sighted a familiar figure walking down the corridor towards
him.  It was the Marauder commando that had pulled him out of the line
of fire in the raid.  Baker had never gotten the chance to thank her,
and decided to take the opportunity to do so now.

"Hi," he said to the commando.  It was all her could think of to say to
start the conversation.

"Oh, hello," she said.  "Its Baker, isn't it?"

"Yes," he replied.  "And you are...Lelona, right?"

"Correct," she said.  "I see you are recovering well."

"Yes," Baker replied.  "Thanks to you.  I wanted to thank you for
pulling me out of that corridor.  If you hadn't gotten me out, that
incoming fire would have fried me for sure."

"Oh, its not a problem," Lelona replied.  "Couldn't let a good soldier
get killed unnecessarily."  

They stood there for a few moments, not knowing how to continue.
Lelona looked like she wanted to ask Baker something, but hesitated.
Finally, she decided to be her usual direct self.

"Look, um, the fleet is going to attack the enemy in a matter of arns,"
she said.  "I was wondering if you would like to pass the time by

"Recreating?" asked Baker, not knowing what the former Peacekeeper was
talking about.  "You mean, like, play a game, work out..."

"No, you nerf" she said with a slight laugh.  "I was wondering if you
wanted to have sex."

Baker was totally taken aback by what Lelona had just asked him.  He
had to run what she said through his mind a few times before replying. 
"Sex," he said flabbergasted.  "But, we've...we've barely said a dozen
words to each other.  We don't know each other..."

"So what," said Lelona. "Its just sex.  We recreate all the time in the
Peacekeepers.  You don't?"

"Well, not so casually," said Baker.  "I mean...well, sometimes.  But
not with members of our unit."

"So the answer is no," she said, sounding disappointed.

"No, wait," said Baker.  "I didn't...I mean, don't get me wrong, you
are...well, really...I'd love to have sex with you.  But, what about

"What complications?" she asked.  "Its just sex.  We frell, enjoy each
other, then move on."

"You mean like a one night stand," said Baker.  

"Who says we need a night?" asked Lelona.  "We just need a couple of
arns, depending on the...endurance level you Humans have."  She leaned
in close to Baker.  "It all depends on how long you can...keep it up."

Baker leaned in and kissed Lelona on the lips.  She then broke the
kiss, and led Baker down the corridor towards her quarters.  As they
left, Kumiko Takagi and Trayvor Rel had been watching them from the

Kumiko began to giggle slightly, and Trayvor joined in with quiet
laughter of his own.  "Poor man," commented Rel.  "Wonder if he knows
what he's getting himself in for."

"I think he's got an idea," said Kumiko.  "Good grief, are all
Peacekeeper women so...aggressive?"

"Many are, yes," replied Trayvor.  "Thank the Lords of Chilnak for it,

They turned and looked at each other for a few moments without
speaking, both asking themselves the same silent question.  Finally,
Kumiko decided to put their mutual thoughts into words.

"Trayvor," said Kumiko.  "How come we have never...recreated?  I mean,
we've know each other for over a year.  We get along great, and I am
attracted to you.  And, I assume you are attracted to me.  Or do I
assume to much?"

"Oh, no," said Trayvor, cupping Kumiko's cheek.  "I find you very
attractive.  I have since the day I met you."

"Then why haven't you acted on it?" she asked.

"Because," said Trayvor.  "We have...we have a great working
partnership, and we are good friends.  I didn't want to frell that all
up by..."

"Why would it?" asked Kumiko.  "Like Lelona said, no complications."

"There would be," said Trayvor.  "If you and I, if I went to bed with
you, there would most certainly be complications.  For me, at least."

"What are you saying?" asked Kumiko.

"What I'm saying," said Trayvor, putting his arms around Kumiko.  "What
I'm saying is, that it wouldn't be recreating for me.  It would
would be love making."

"Love..." whispered Kumiko.  

"Yes," said Trayvor.  "I love you.  Kumiko, you are unlike
any woman I have ever known.  And if I made love to you, you would have my heart in your hands."

A tear fell from Kumiko's eye, as she listened to this wonderful man
proclaim his love for her.  She had never thought it possible.
"Trayvor," she began, "no one has ever told me that they love
me.  No man, anyway.  I've always been so obsessed with my work, that I
never really...allowed myself that luxury to feel for
you feel for me.  Or like I feel for you."

They leaned in, and exchanged a passionate kiss.  Kumiko and Trayvor
wrapped their arms around each other, and deepened the kiss.  Finally,
Kumiko broke the kiss, and caressed Trayvor's sweet face.  She then
whispered to him.  "I love you, too."

Entilza Susan Ivanova was focused on the main forward viewscreens of
the Excalibur's bridge, watching as the Latrios system loomed closer
and closer.  They were within five minutes of entering the system, and
she knew that the Peacekeepers had detected her fleet by now.  But,
thanks to the successful raid of Aeryn and her team on that Peacekeeper
base, the Peacekeepers probably only detected them an hour ago versus a
day ago.

Her fleet had been in battle for over two months now.  In that time,
her fleet of 180 ships had been whittled down to just over a hundred.
For the first time since the invasion of Peacekeeper territory began,
all of her forces were going to be combined to fight one battle.  She
had the 32 remaining Earth Force destroyers and cruisers under General
Kemal's command, the 28 remaining Minbari Cruisers under Admiral
Lakhat's command, and she had the forces which had been under her
direct command.  These forces included 8 remaining Victory class
destroyers, 18 White Stars, 15 Centauri warships, and 12 Narn heavy
cruisers.  Also going into battle as part of her fleet were the before
absent EAS Indefatigable, and their new ally, Fleet Captain Jani
Atrios' command carrier, the Krandolia.  

All in all, Ivanova was going in with a force of 104 ships to take the
third largest colony system the Peacekeepers controlled.  If all went
well, this could be the biggest victory of the war to date.  If they
failed, it might seriously damage their ability to make an offensive
action for the near future.

"Entilza," said Lennock.  "We are have entered the system."

"Very well," said Ivanova.  "Signal all ships to raise defense screens,
launch all fighters, and arm weapons."  

"Yes, Entilza," replied Lennock, as he carried out his orders.

Ivanova's fleet moved in mass towards the planet Latrios Prime, the
main colony world in the Latrios system.  As they readied their ships
for battle, the scanners of Ivanova's ships began to detect a
Peacekeeper force moving to oppose them.  

"What are the estimated enemy numbers?" asked Ivanova of the officer on
scanning station.

"Entilza," replied the Drazi Ranger, "scanners detect at least twenty-
five command carriers and fifteen Vigilante class warships.  They are
closing on an intercept vector."

"Lennock," said Ivanova.  "Open a channel to all fleet ships."

"Channel open," he replied after a few moments.

"All ships," said Ivanova.  "This is Entilza Ivanova.  We are detecting
a sizable force moving out to oppose us on an intercept vector.  It is
likely they will do everything they can to keep us away from Latrios
Prime.  We're going to have to bust through them.  The Earth Force and
Minbari fleets will move up the center of the advance, pouring down as
much fire as possible on the enemy ships, destroying as many as you can
as you press forward.  The Krandolia will do the same.  The Centauri
and Narn fleets will cover the right and left flanks of the main fleet
respectively.  All ISA destroyers and White Stars will make close
proximity attacks on one target at a time.  White Stars and destroyers
will team up as assigned, and move on one enemy ship at a time.
Hopefully, we can break up the enemy's fleet formation and allow the
rest of the fleet to take them out.  Remember, we now have Peacekeeper
built Prowlers and Marauders fighting on our side.  They have all been
equipped with proper friend or foe recognition signals, so be sure not
to fire on any Peacekeeper ship so equipped.  I want no friendly fire
casualties because of that kind of error.  As soon as the Peacekeeper
fleet is pushed out of the way, the landing force can move in on
Latrios Prime.  Let's do this."

The ships of Ivanova's fleet moved into their assigned positions for
the attack, then pressed forward to meet the enemy.  The fighters from
both sides advanced ahead of the primary warships, and would be the
first to engage.  When the lines of Peacekeeper and ISA allied fighters
came together, each side opened fire almost simultaneously.

The area of space between the two fleets became filled with fighters
engaged in deadly duels with each other as pilots from each side tried
to kill enemy fighters.  After a few minutes, the primary fleet vessels
on each side opened fire on each other.  Fire from Peacekeeper frag
cannons poured into the shields of Ivanova's ships.  The ISA allied
ships returned the fire, blasting away with plasma cannons, beam
weapons, missile batteries, and frag cannons from the Krandolia.  

Ivanova's Victory class destroyers and her White Stars charged at the
enemy ships at flank speed.  They broke off into groups, several White
Stars teaming up with each destroyer, then moving on an enemy ship.
The White Stars and swarmed into the formation of carriers and
Vigilantes, pouring in fire at point blank range.  The Peacekeepers had
difficulty targeting the vessel due to the fact that the White Stars
possessed Minbari and Vorlon stealth technology and they're position
relative to the other Peacekeeper ships.  The enemy had to be careful
not to hit one of their own as they tried to strike at the White Stars
that were swarming in on them.

The Victory class destroyers also moved into the formation of command
carriers, each one right behind their small group of White Stars.
Their combined efforts at close range did indeed force the Peacekeeper
carriers and Vigilantes to break formation in order to fend off
Ivanova's destroyers and White Stars.  This action left them more
vulnerable to attack from the main fleet of allied ships that were
closing in on their positions.  

Ships from both sides pounded away at each other, finally beginning to
punch through the defense screens that protected ships on their enemy's
side.  Explosions began to appear among both fleets, as ships met their
deaths at the hands of their enemies.  The two fleets came closer and
closer to each other, but the Peacekeeper fleet failed to maintain
cohesion due to the snapping and stinging they were taking by Ivanova's
destroyers and White Stars.  

When the main fleet of ISA allied ships finally did get in close, they
engaged a fleet of Peacekeeper ships that were breaking and moving in
all directions.  This was the advantage that Ivanova and her fleet
commanders had been hoping for, and they engaged the confused
Peacekeeper enemy with the fullest fury they could muster.

Ivanova's forces had been taking a beating for two months now.  The men
and women of all the races of her fleet remember the days of
uncertainty, of waiting for the Peacekeeper hit and run attacks to
occur.  They remembered watching their comrades die as the Peacekeepers
swooped in and destroyed as many ships as they could, before turning
and darting away again, leaving them to pick up the pieces.  Now, the
Humans, Minbari, Centauri, Narn, and the members of the many races that
served in the Rangers all took this as an opportunity for revenge
against their tormentors.

The Peacekeepers blasted away at their advancing enemy, destroying ship
after ship after ship in the vain hopes of stopping the ISA allied
fleet's advance.  But, as the Peacekeepers watched their enemies ships
fall under their frag cannons one after the other, it seemed to them
that their enemies didn't care about the losses they were taking.
These aliens and the traitors who fought on their side on the Krandolia
just kept right on coming, and began to exact a price from the
Peacekeepers in blood and destruction.

The mighty command carriers and Vigilantes of the Peacekeeper fleet
fell under the guns of Ivanova's force of Human, Minbari, Centauri,
Narn, ISA, and Sebacean warships, despite the best efforts of the
Peacekeepers to stop them.  Ivanova, standing on the bridge of the
Excalibur, watched the tactical displays that showed her forces
enduring the pounding from the enemy's guns, and slowly destroying the
enemy force. 

John Crichton stood beside her, and also kept a close eye on the
tactical display.  As he watched, John saw a group of four Peacekeeper
carriers on the enemy's right flank begin to turn away from the battle.
He pointed it out to Ivanova, who commented that they were probably
retreating.  She decided to let them go and concentrate on the enemy
ships that still opposed them. 

But Crichton kept his eye on those ships, because they seemed to be
retreating on a weird trajectory.  Their line of retreat took them past
the left flank of the ISA fleet on a wide trajectory.  He thought that
an odd line of retreat, and began to think about what else those
Peacekeepers might be up to besides turning tail and running.  Crichton
considered that odd in itself, because Peacekeepers rarely retreated
unless their situation was completely hopeless.  Although the ISA fleet
was winning, it had not reached the point of hopelessness for the
Peacekeepers yet.  Crichton had a feeling that something was wrong, and
his feelings were being confirmed when he saw those four ships start to
make a sharp turn towards the fleet.

"Susan!" yelled Crichton.  "We're about to be flanked!  On the left!
Those four enemy ships!"

Ivanova focused her attention back on the tactical display, and saw
what Crichton saw.  "Oh, shit!" she said, activating her comms.
"Destroyers Camelot and Defiance, White Stars four, six, and eight,
follow us to the left flank.  NOW!"

Three of her Victory class destroyers and three White Stars swiftly
turned to intercept the four carriers moving on their flank.  The Narn
warships on the left saw the Peacekeepers coming, and turned to meet
them.  But the Peacekeepers opened fire before the Narn could get into
position.  The Narn cruisers took a heavy beating from the four
carriers, and began to fall from the enemy's fire when Ivanova arrived
on the scene with her ships.

"Get the enemy's screens down!" yelled Ivanova into her comm.  "Then,
we'll take them out with the main guns."

Ivanova's ships closed to point blank range with the four carriers, and
the two sides exchanged heavy fire.  It became a pissing match to see
which side could bring down the other side's screens down first, thus
leaving the enemy open to destruction.  One of the White Stars was
destroyed as the enemy's frag cannons punished the screens on Ivanova's

"Keep firing!  Keep firing!  Pour it on!" yelled Ivanova, as they
closed to within spitting distance of the enemy ships.  As they
continued firing, the screens on the Excalibur collapsed, and Ivanova's
command ship was left vulnerable.

The command carriers saw the weakness, and took advantage of it.  Two
of the enemy ships concentrated their fire on the Excalibur.  Much of
the fire was absorbed by the Vorlon adaptable hull design the ship was
equipped with, but the hull began to take a beating none the less.

An explosion ripped through a console on the bridge, knocking one of
the Rangers unconscious.  Ivanova went to check on him, when another
explosion rocked the bridge.  This one sent a support beam from the
ceiling of the bridge falling down, and it came down right on Ivanova's

"LOOK OUT!" yelled Crichton, but it was too late.  The beam struck
Ivanova, and sent her falling to the floor.  Crichton and several of
the Rangers moved to get the beam off of her.  John told all but one of
them to get back to their stations.

The Excalibur might have been doomed at that point, but providence
intervened in the form of the Narn warships moving up to help Ivanova's
ships.  They rendered cover to the Excalibur, while it veered off to
lick its wounds.

On the bridge of the Excalibur, Crichton and one of the Rangers managed
to get the beam off of Ivanova.  She looked up and saw Crichton
kneeling over her, checking her over and yelling for medics to come and
render aid.  That was the last thing Ivanova remembered as she passed
into unconsciousness.


----Split by archivist----