The Glorious Cause
Ian K.

----split by archivist----

Chapter 13:  Passing the Sword

Five White Stars entered the Latrios system, and moved the join the
growing ISA allied fleet forming there.  On board those five White
Stars were General Robert McGregor and the surviving members of his
raider squadron.  After almost two weeks, they had finally managed to
escape from Peacekeeper territory.  Once they made it into ISA
controlled space, McGregor contacted the fleet to inform them they had
escaped.  That was when he found out what happened at the Battle of

The ISA allied fleet under Ivanova's command had won the battle.  They
had managed to destroy all but two of the enemy ships which were able
to escape.  The Latrios system was now in ISA hands.  However, it had
been a costly engagement.  Of the 104 ships Ivanova went in with,
twenty-eight had been destroyed and a dozen more were seriously
damaged.  To top it off, Entilza Ivanova was seriously wounded in the
engagement, and was now laid up with a concussion.  McGregor was told
to report to Ivanova, who was laid up on a Minbari cruiser that was
being used as a medical ship.  

Since the battle, the fleet had been reinforced from several different
sources.  The ISA had sent 75 more ships, which included ships from the
ISA's fleet of White Stars and Victory class destroyers, Earth Force
destroyers and cruisers, Minbari war cruisers, Centauri warships, Narn
heavy cruisers, and even a few ships from the League of Non-Aligned
worlds, at least the one's that could mobilize any ships for such a
long range expedition.  Finally, the ISA fleet was joined by allies
from this area of the galaxy.  The Luxans came through with thirty
assault piercer warships, and the Illonics sent twenty warships to join
the cause.  

An unexpected source of reinforcement came from the ranks of the
Peacekeeper fleet.  A command carrier and two Vigilantes defected over
to the allied side.  They entered the Latrios system, and almost came
under attack until they signaled that they wished to speak to Fleet
Captain Atrios.  It turns out that the crews of those ships had heard
about Atrios, and the fact that she was fighting on the ISA's side.
They had been waiting for monens to see what her ship and crew would
do.  When Atrios decided to join forces with the ISA, these crews who
had been inspired by her defection decided to follow her lead.  The
crew of the command carrier actually mutinied and killed their Captain
and most the ship's senior most officers.  Atrios sent her second, Lt.
Meltra, to command their leaderless crew.  

All told, the allied fleet now consisted of over two hundred ships, and
more were on the way.  The coup on Hyneria had succeeded, and with the
help of the Rangers, Rygel XVI was returned to his throne.  The cousin
who had deposed Rygel had ruled the Hynerian subjects with an iron
fist, and they were grateful to be rid of him.  As promised, the
restored sovereign of the Hynerian Empire has declared war on the
Peacekeepers and is sending a fleet of twenty ships from the Hynerian
Navy to join the fleet.  He also made contact with the Dominion of
Trall, who also agreed to join the fight to lift the restraints the
Peacekeepers held on commerce and to open new trade ties with their ISA
allies.  They were also sending twenty ships, matching the commitment
of the Hynerians.  The Hynerian and Trallan ships would arrive in
another week.  This will bring the total number of ships up to nearly
250 ships.  

When the five White Stars that launched the McGregor raid arrived at
the fleet, the General traveled in a shuttle to the Minbari ship that
was going to head to the Royal Colonies with their casualties.  Ivanova
had wanted to see McGregor about something as soon as she had heard the
General was back.  Traveling with McGregor was Yalon Marst-Taylor, the
widow of Lt. Commander Joe Taylor.  

After the shuttle landed in the landing bay of the Minbari ship,
McGregor and Yalon disembarked from the shuttle.  A Minbari officer
greeted McGregor, and told him that he would take him to Ivanova.
Before they left, McGregor turned to Yalon.

"Yalon," said McGregor.  "This ship is going back to the Royal
Colonies.  You can board a ship bound for Earth at the transfer point. 
When you get to Earth, my wife, Jenavia, will meet you.  She'll make
sure you're taken care of."

"I feel...bad," she said.  "Leaving the fight before its done."

"You've done your part, Yalon," said McGregor.  "And you've lost your
husband to the service of the cause.  That's more than anyone can ask. 
Besides, its not just yourself you have to worry about now."

"I know," she said.  "I still can't believe I'm pregnant.  Joe would
have proud."

McGregor gave Yalon a fatherly hug.  "Goodbye, child," he said.  "Good
luck to both of you."

"Thank you, sir," said Yalon.

McGregor followed the Minbari officer out of the landing bay and
through the corridors of the ship.  They came to the infirmary, where
they found many wounded officers and crewman from the different ships
of the fleet.  When they saw McGregor, they began to applaud as best
they could in their injured conditions.  Robert walked through the
room, and said hello to several of the wounded, before moving on to the
private room where Ivanova was recovering.

Robert was startled to see Ivanova's condition when he entered.  She
had a large bandage wrapped around her head, the result of her
concussion.  Her left arm was broken, and was set in a caste.   When
she saw McGregor, she smiled as best she could in her condition.

"Well, well," she said.  "If it isn't the conquering hero returning."

"Hello Susan," said McGregor, as he came over and shook Ivanova's
outstretched hand.  "I hear you've been doing some conquering of your
own.  Looks like someone kicked the shit out of you in the process, but
your alive.  That's what's important.  How's the Excalibur?"

"Auto-repair systems have got her almost back to fighting strength,"
said Ivanova.  "Captain John Crichton is in command of her now."

"John's in command, huh," said McGregor.  "How's he taking that?"

"In stride," said Ivanova.  "Its an opportunity for him to feel like
he's playing a bigger part in all this.  Aeryn's still on the Krandolia
with her unit.  You'll be briefed on that when you take over."

"Take...over," said McGregor.  "What do you mean?"

"I want you to command the fleet," said Ivanova.  "Take my place."

"I thought Admiral Lakhat was in command," commented McGregor.

"Temporary command," said Ivanova.  "I've spoken to him, and all of the
other fleet commanders.  They all agreed to follow your command.  Even
the Peacekeepers who have defected, even though your not exactly their
favorite person.  You're the senior officer in the fleet, and you are
the one all of the races will follow.  The ISA races know you and
respect you.  The Luxans, Illonics, Hynerians, and Trallians know about
the McGregor Raid.  That's what got them to sign on to begin with.
They'll follow you.  Atrios has convinced her cadre of defectors to
follow you as well.  Will you do it?"

"Well," said McGregor.  "How can I turn down the request of such a
lovely lady?" he asked jokingly.

Ivanova chuckled.  "Don't make me laugh, please," she said.  "It

"Alright," said McGregor.  "Sorry.  I guess I'll make my flag ship the
Excalibur.  If that's okay."

"I already spoke to Crichton," she said.  "He'd be proud to be your
flag Captain.  I almost thought you might choose the Indefatigable,
though.  Why didn't you?"

"Hancock has the Indy," said McGregor.  "He's done well commanding her,
and heading covert ops.  He deserves to command without the old man
around for once.  Besides, the Excalibur has been the flag ship since
the invasion began.  It will signal continuity."

"Good luck, Robert," said Ivanova.  "I'm glad that...I'm glad that its
you taking my place.  I know the fleet's in good hands."

Admiral Scorpius entered into the private offices of Admiral Jol in the
new High Command headquarters on the northernmost continent of Sebacea.
As he entered the room, he could hear Jol laughing and yelling at

Scorpius was greeted by the sight of Jol in the process of having fun
with his new slave, Karsten Polise.  Polise was crawling around on the
floor naked, as Jol walked behind her striking her with a cane.

"Come on, bitch!" Jol yelled at Polise in between striking Polise on
the but with his cane.  "You can crawl faster than that!  COME ON!

Scorpius watched the display unfold for several moments, as Jol
continued to whack Polise with his cane, chasing her around the room as
she crawled.  He finally made a noise to indicate to Jol that he was

"Oh, Scorpius," said Jol.  "I won't be but a few moments."

Jol then walked over in front of Polise.  She was on her hands and
knees in front of Jol, her face and body bloodied and bruised from
various forms of torture.  "Now, slave," said Jol.  "I assume you are
hungry and thirsty.  Are you?"

"You know I am," said Polise defiantly.  

Jol snapped his fingers and a guard placed a tray on the floor near
Polise.  It contained food and water in bowls.  "Now, slave," said Jol.
"I will let you eat and drink, if you do one thing.  Lick the toe of my
boot.  I want them to SHINE!"

Polise stared defiantly at Jol.  She had done some humiliating things
to survive, feeling that while there was life, there was still hope.
But she was not going to lick this monster's boot.

"Slave," said Jol, sounding irritated.  "If you do not lick my boot, I
will break your jaw, and let you starve to death.  Which will it be?"

Finally, Polise gave in.  She leaned in and began to lick Jol's boot.
He laughed as her tongue lapped at the toe of his shoe.  "You see,
Scorpius!" yelled Jol.  "My little animal begging for her supper!"  He
began to laugh maniacally.

"Sir," said Scorpius.  "I'm so sorry to interrupt, but this is

"Of course, Scorpius," said Jol.  "It is I who should apologize for
keeping you waiting over this piece of dren on the floor.  Slave!" he
yelled to Polise.  "You may eat now, like you are supposed to."

Polise crawled over to the tray of food and water, and leaned over it. 
She ate it like a dog would eat food from a bowl on the floor, knowing
the painful penalties if she did not.

"Now, Scorpius," said Jol, as he went towards his desk.  He picked up a
piece of fruit from a bowl, and began to peel its skin off as he sat
down.  "Tell me what has brought you to see me."

"I have just received a report from the front lines, sir," said
Scorpius.  He paused momentarily, seeing Jol toss the skin of the fruit
he was eating at Polise, who was still eating her food.  "Apparently,
since our loss at Latrios, some of our ships have begun defecting over
to the enemy's side."

"WHAT!?" asked Jol in an enraged tone.  He stood up from his desk and
came closer to Scorpius.  "HOW MANY?"

"At least one carrier and two Vigilantes," said Scorpius.  "There are
rumors that others ships may follow."

Polise, lapping at her dish of water, inwardly smiled as she heard
about Jol's command breaking down.  Jol was furious with what he heard.

"Why would they defect?" asked Jol.  "WHY?!"

"They are apparently inspired by Fleet Captain Atrios' actions," said
Scorpius.  "Her ship and crew now fight on the ISA's side."

"Atrios, Atrios," said Jol.  "One Fleet Captain inspires this much
loyalty.  RIDICULOUS!  There must be more to it!  There must be others
working to help these traitors in their defections!"  He was quiet for
a moment, then turned his eyes over to Polise. 

Jol ran over to Polise, and yanked up her head by her long, blonde
hair.  "YOU!" he screamed into her ear.  "YOU!  It must be you!  You
must have been plotting for this to happen all along!  She is the key! 
I bet she had planned to kill me, then invite the ISA forces to Sebacea
as her allies!  SHE KNOWS EVERYTHING!"  He turned back to Scorpius.

"Sir, I don't think..." began Scorpius.

"Scorpius," said Jol.  "Have an aurora chair prepared for my little
slave here!  I want you to supervise the interrogation yourself!  Drain
her brain of all knowledge if you have to, but find out who she is
working with to stage these defections!"

"You can't," said Polise from behind Jol.  She was kneeling now on the
floor.  "No Admiral has ever been subjected to interrogation by aurora

Jol backhanded Polise across the face.  "YOU are no longer an Admiral,"
said Jol.  "You are a slave!  I will do with you as I wish!"  He turned
his attention back to Scorpius.  "CARRY OUT MY ORDERS!"

"As you command, sir," said Scorpius.  "I'll have a chair prepared for
her.  Guards, take her to the interrogation chambers!"

Two guards came over and grabbed Polise by her bare arms.  They dragged
her to her feet, and led her out of the room.  As they took her through
the corridors of the base, other Peacekeepers watched as a former
member of the High Command council was taken naked towards the
interrogation chambers.  One of the guards, as they approached the door
that led to the chambers, whispered in Polise's ear.

"Admiral," he said.  "Be strong.  Endure.  You are not alone."

Generals McGregor and Hancock, Captain John Crichton, and LtJG. Jack
Crichton stood in the hangar deck of the Excalibur, as a Peacekeeper
built Marauder to come in for a landing.  Not long after the Marauder
touched down, Fleet Captain Jani Atrios stepped out of the Marauder and
approached the group of Humans waiting for them.

Aeryn broke with her usual sense of military protocol, and ran up to
her son and took him in his arms.  She wrapped herself around Jack in a
tearful embrace, feeling the relief of holding her son once again.
Aeryn pulled back and looked her son in the face, giving him a kiss on
his cheek.

"My son," she said.  "Thank whatever god or gods that exist that you
came back to me."

"Its good to see you, Mom," he said.  "I missed you."

"Hey," said John, walking over to the pair of them.  "No kiss and hug
for your husband?"

Aeryn stepped over to John, and wrapped her arms around his waist.  "Of
course I have a kiss and hug for you, handsome," she said.  They leaned
in and exchanged a passionate kiss, and for several moments, ignored
the rest of the people around them.

McGregor made a coughing noise, which brought the couple out of their
revelry.  He, Hancock, Atrios, and Jack were all laughing quietly.  

"Can we get you two a room?" asked Atrios jokingly.

"Yeah, that sounds good to me," said John.  Aeryn hit him on the
shoulder playfully.  "Hey, now wait a minute," said John.  "Hitting the
Captain on the landing bay deck of his own ship.  Don't make me confine
you to my quarters, Captain Crichton."

"Go ahead and confine me," said Aeryn.  "If you confine yourself in
with me."  They smiled at each other, and Aeryn looked deeply into
John's eyes.  "I'm so proud of you, John.  You are the Captain of this

"Thanks, baby," said John.  

Aeryn then walked over to Jack.  "And you," said Aeryn.  "Robert sent
me a report about your performance in the raid.  I am so proud of my
son's conduct under harsh conditions.  You have grown into a strong man
and a great soldier."

"Thank you, Mother," said Jack.  "Coming from you, that means a lot."

"I'm sorry to interrupt," said Atrios, turning to McGregor and Hancock.
"But there was something I needed to speak to General McGregor and Jim

"What is it?" asked Hancock.

"I've been in contact with the resistance," said Atrios.  "Resistance
members on Sebacea say that apparently Admiral Karsten Polise of the
High Command council has been arrested by council leader Jol on charges
of treason."

"Why?" asked Aeryn.

"She tried to have Jol assassinated," said Atrios.  "Admiral Jol is a
fool, and a madmen.  With him in charge, the Peacekeepers' war effort
will be severely handicapped."

"How was she discovered?" asked McGregor.

"Scorpius," said Atrios.  "Polise tried to make an alliance with
Scorpius, and he turned on her.  In exchanged for siding with Jol, the
council leader has made Scorpius his second on the council."

"Leave it to Scorpy to not be trusted," said John.  "He probably thinks
he can manipulate this Jol guy, and someday take over the show."

"That would make sense," said Hancock.  "So, has Polise been scheduled
for execution?"

"No," replied Atrios.  "We have members of the resistance in High
Command who say that...Jol is keeping Polise as a slave, a play thing. 
He is torturing her.  Jol has also ordered Polise be interrogated by
aurora chair, thinking she is connected to the resistance."

"Poor woman," said John in a sympathetic voice.  "I know exactly what
she's going through.  Isn't there...isn't there some way the resistance
can help her?"

"That's the other thing I wanted to tell you," said Atrios.  "Polise is
a good officer, and I...I've always respected her.  I can't stand to
hear of her being tortured, so I...I took some initiative.  I've
ordered the resistance to try and get Polise out, and get her to our

"Jani," began Hancock.  "Do you you think that she might
come over to our side?"

"I don't know," said Atrios.  "But if she does, so will many of the
fleet officers.  Many of the Peacekeeper cadre officers don't like Jol,
and respect Polise.  Now, she is a die hard Peacekeeper, so it might be
all for not if we get her out."

"Its worth the chance," said McGregor.  "If we can get more Peacekeeper
ships to cross over to our side, we might shorten this damn war and
saved thousands of lives." He turned to Hancock.  "Jim, you're in
charge of covert ops.  Any assistance we can give to getting Polise
out, give it."

"Aye, sir," replied Hancock.

Karsten Polise screamed in agony as the aurora chair ripped into her
mind, and into her memories.  On the screen in front of her, images
from her days as a young child to the most recent days of torture and
degradation at Jol's hands passed before her eyes.  Her body writhed in
pain under the restraints.

Meanwhile, Scorpius stared at the screen on the aurora chair in
boredom.  "This is a useless waist of my valuable time," thought
Scorpius between Polise's screams.  "She knows nothing about the
resistance or these defections.  She tried to kill Jol because she was
a loyal Peacekeeper, not because she sympathized with our enemies.
That fool Jol has me waisting my time on his deluded since of reality. 
Hah.  When the time is right, I will deal with Jol.  And I will never
have to bother with fools like him serving over me again."

"Sir," said the technician running the aurora chair.  "We've scanned
her memory three times.  There is still nothing which would connect her
in any way to the defections."

"As I thought," said Scorpius in an irritated tone.  He walked over to
Polise, who was now breathing heavily in weakness and exhaustion from
her time in the chair.  She looked up at Scorpius with defiance still
written in her eyes.

"I will kill you someday, Scorpius," said Polise.   "Make no mistake.
Someday, you will feel my blade at your wretched throat!"

"I doubt our 'distinguished' leader will give you the chance," said
Scorpius.  "You will die eventually, when it suits him.  Now, I must go
and see the Admiral, and give him my report on what I have found in
your brain.  Nothing, of course."

"Sir," said Captain John Crichton to General McGregor.  "All fleet
commanders report ready to depart."

They were on the bridge of the Excalibur, the flag ship of the massive
fleet now sprawled across the space on the outskirts of the Latrios
system.  It has been a week since McGregor had taken command of the
fleet.  With the arrival of the Hynerian and Trallan warships,  the
fleet was now all together and ready to depart on the final campaign to
rid the galaxy of the Peacekeepers.

McGregor sat in his command chair, and looked upon the mass of ships
from so many alien races, all brought here in common cause against a
common foe.  The General had commanded many fleets in his time, but
never one like this.  He felt proud and nervous all at the same time,
hoping that his experience and ability would be enough to lead this
fleet to victory.

"Alright," said McGregor.  "Signal all ships to proceed on course."

"Aye, sir," replied Crichton.  

Captain Crichton got on the comm channels, relaying General McGregor's
orders to the fleet commanders, who would then relay it to their
squadron commanders, who would in turn relay it to their ship's
Captains.  All on the one order, passed down the chain of command, the
massive allied fleet started forward into destiny and into the fire of
the battles that were to come.

Chapter 14:  Calm Before the Storm

Admiral Scorpius of the Peacekeeper High Command council read over the
reports that were coming in from the front.  The ISA fleet, now with
the support of the Luxans, Illonics, Hynerians, and Trallans, was
pressing forward into the inner region of Peacekeeper controlled
territory.  The Peacekeeper armada was holding strong, but was slowly
being forced back by the enemy.  It would only be a matter of time
before drastic action needs to be taken.

Captain Braca walked into Scorpius' office.  "Sir," said Braca.

"Yes, Captain," replied Scorpius.

"Admiral Jol requests that you come to see him, sir," said Braca.  "He
said it was urgent."

"Very well," said Scorpius.  He got up from his desk, picking up the
latest reports in case Jol wanted to go over them.  

Scorpius walked through the corridors of the recently established High
Command headquarters to Jol's office.  When he got there, Scorpius was
ushered into the office by an aid.

"Scorpius," said Jol, as the Scarren/Sebacean half-breed stepped into
the office.  "I've just received some disturbing news."

"What is it, sir?" asked Scorpius.

"I received a report from the Special Directorate," said Jol.
"Apparently, there has been a change in command over the ISA's fleet.
According to what they've been able to gather from their sources,
General Robert McGregor is now in command of the fleet."

"McGregor," said Scorpius with curiosity.  "Interesting.  He is a
skilled officer, I know.  I have faced him in combat during the
invasion of the Earth Alliance."

"The Sword of Drathnor," said Jol with a slight tinge of nervousness.
"He is their most dangerous officer.  If given the chance, McGregor
will bring his fleet down upon us just like he brought that raid down
upon High Command headquarters.  Unless we act first."

"What do you mean?" asked Scorpius.  He didn't like the sound of what
was coming.

"Its time to decide this war, Scorpius," said Jol.  "Its time for bold
action.  Otherwise, McGregor will continue to close the noose around
us.  We must draw their fleet into one battle, with one battle we
destroy this invasion.  I have issued orders for 100 command carriers
and 50 Vigilantes to assemble and intercept McGregor's fleet at
Delcrion system."

"Sir," said Scorpius.  "That is most rash.  We must not.  Admiral
Mattoc's original strategy was the correct one.  We should return to
attacking their fleet in small strikes, and slowly wear down their
forces.  Some of their allies will not stay with them for too long."

"No, Scorpius," said Jol.  "Mattoc is dead.  I am in command, and I say
we stop them with one stroke.  A massive assault."

"Sir, that's too great a risk," said Scorpius.  "We have a much better
chance of winning a war of attrition."

"NO!" yelled Jol.  "My decision is final!  We strike them at Delvion.
We will wipe out their fleet, destroy McGregor before he destroys us!
Now, I want you to command the fleet personally."

"Me," said Scorpius in shock.

"Yes," said Jol.  "Although your invasion of the Earth Alliance
ultimately failed, you did win several significant battles against
them.  Name another Peacekeeper fleet commander that hasn't.  I want
you to command the fleet."

"But, sir..." began Scorpius.

"Why do you hesitate?" asked Jol.  "It would seem to me that the man
who I put on the High Command council, the man who has promised me his
loyal support, would want to serve me anyway possible.  Or are you

"No, sir," said Scorpius with growing anger.  "But if this move were to

"Then YOU must make sure it DOES NOT FAIL!" yelled Jol.  "NOW!  Carry
out my orders!"

"Yes...sir," said Scorpius with an angry sneer.  He turned around and
stormed out of Jol's office.  The angered half-breed stormed down the
corridors with a murderous look on his face, causing the officers who
saw him along the way to quickly step aside.

Karsten Polise, former member of the High Command council, and current
slave of Admiral Jol, lay in her cell recovering from her latest bout
of torture at her abuser's hands.  She knew it was rather late at night
judging by the time it was when she was brought back to her cell.
Other than that, she wouldn't have known from the pitch darkness of her
cell whether it was night or day outside.

Jol's cruelty had increased after Scorpius was unsuccessful in linking
Polise to the resistance using the Aurora Chair.  When Polise was
brought back before Jol, he ordered the guards to leave the two of them
alone.  As ordered, they dropped the emotionally and physically drained
Polise on the floor, and left her alone with Jol.  She was too weak to
resist what happened next.

Despite the fact that the Aurora Chair found no evidence of Polise
having anything to do with the resistance or defecting Peacekeeper
ships, Jol still thought she was the orchestrator of the whole thing.
In his deranged mind, Polise was the enemy he could get at, and the one
that he decided to take out his frustrations on.

Jol grabbed Polise by the hair, and dragged her over to a bench.  He
threw Polise on it, and began to ask her questions about the
resistance, for which she of course had no answers.  Whenever she
answered him with the truthful statement of her ignorance about the
resistance, Jol would punch her brutally in the stomach.  Eventually,
after questioning her for who knows how long, he began to beat her
without even questioning her anymore.

When he stopped beating Polise, she has bruises over much of her upper
body and her face was bloodied.  Polise could barely see Jol standing
over her out of eyes that were soaked with blood, sweat, and tears.
She could not see the mad look in his eyes, like an animal ready to
slash her to pieces.  

Without a word spoken between them, Polise watched as Jol reached down
and ripped open the fasteners of his pants.  Her beaten form could
barely register the sensation of Jol climbing on top of her, and could
feel barely anything at all as Jol raped her.  She knew it was
happening because she could barely see and hear what Jol was doing, but
she felt nothing from the senses of her body that were dulled by pain,
and could do nothing to resist him.

When Jol was finished, his madness was apparently satisfied, because he
called his guards in to carry Polise back to her cells.  The guards
dragged her limp form back to her cell, and dropped her there.  Polise
lay in the same spot where she was left by the guards arns ago, and did
nothing but shed quiet tears that fell to the floor from her face.

She heard the sound of someone opening the door.  Polise could only
come to the conclusion that Jol had ordered the guards to bring her
back for more yet more torture.  As the door opened, Polise wished for
nothing but death to relieve her from the pain.

Two Peacekeepers came into the room.  One wore the uniform of a
Marauder commando, his dark helmet covering his features.  The other
was a woman, a technician, carrying a large bag.  She bent down close
to Polise and whispered to her.

"Admiral Polise," she said.  Polise registered the slight sensation of
being injected with something.  "I've given you a stimulant," said the
technician.  "It should give you enough strength in a few microts so we
can get you out of here."

"Get me..." began Polise.  "Get me out"

"Yes," said the guard standing behind the technician.  He took off his
helmet, and revealed his face.  "I was the one who whispered to you the
other day.  I told you that you were not alone."

"I remember," said Polise.  ""

"We're going to slip you quietly off of a base and into a Marauder,"
said the technician.  "Hopefully, no one will know you are gone until
tomorrow.  By then, we should be well out of the Sebacean system.  We
have doctored orders to proceed to Restria system."

"Who" asked Polise.

"We're with the resistance," said the man.  "Fleet Captain Atrios sends
her regards."

"You're...taking a great risk, why?" asked Polise.

"We knew of what you tried to do to Jol," said the technician.  "And
what Jol has been doing to you.  When Atrios heard, she and General
McGregor both authorized us to retrieve you and get you out.  Now,
we've brought you a Marauder commando uniform and helmet.  Are you
strong enough to put them on?"

"Absolutely," said Polise.  With renewed strength granted by the
combination of stimulant injection and the hope of ending this
nightmare, she got up off of the floor, and put on the uniform.  It
felt so good to wear clothing again, to feel like a person again.

With uniform and helmet on, Polise walked with her two rescuers out of
the cell.  As they walked down the corridors, Polise noticed several
guards were not at their usual postings, and figured her two rescuers
were responsible.  They walked towards the base's hangar complex, the
few people up and about taking little notice of a tech and a couple of

When they got to the hangar, the technician parted company.  "I have to
go," said the tech.  "Ranar here will take you from here.  Its been an
honor, Admiral Polise."

"Thank you," said Polise.  "For everything."  

The tech smiled, then turned and walked back down the corridor.  Polise
turned to Ranar, and gave him a nod.  He returned it, and they stepped
into the hangar.  They approached the duty officer, and Ranar handed
him orders that cleared them to take one of the Marauders.  The officer
saw no problems with the orders, and gave them clearance to leave.

Ranar and Polise stepped into the Marauder, and sealed the hatch.  They
got behind the controls to the craft, and fired up its engines.  Within
a few moments, they were darting out of the hangar and gaining
altitude.  They achieved orbit in a matter of minutes, and set off
across space, leaving Sebacea far behind them.

"Its strange, sir," said General Hancock to General McGregor, as they
examined a holographic display in the bridge conference room of the
Excalibur.  "In the past few days, it seems that the Peacekeepers have
been offering less and less resistance to our advance."

"How can you account for it?" asked McGregor.

"I'm not sure, sir," said Hancock.  "Only thing we can gather is that
they are calling in a lot of their fleet ships for something big.  But
what it is, I don't know."

"It looks like the Peacekeepers have changed tactics," said McGregor.
"Their going away from the hit and run, wear us down strategy to
something else.  Now, we have to just figure out what.  But, I don't
like the looks of what I'm seeing.  I think the Peacekeepers have
something cooked up for us, and they are going to throw it at us soon. 
And its going to hurt."

"Sir," said Hancock.  "I recommend we put all ships and instillations
between here and the Royal Colonies on alert."

"Agreed," said McGregor.  "Also, tell our allies' governments to be on
their guard against a possible move against them.  Just to be on the
safe side.  I'm going to have my fleet commanders extend forward
patrols.  If we run into something, I want to know about it long in

"Aye, sir," replied Hancock.

"It might be a good idea to speak to Fleet Captain Atrios," said
McGregor.  "Get her input on this."

"I'm having dinner with her aboard the Krandolia tonight," said
Hancock.  "I'll bring it up then."

McGregor looked at Hancock with a smile.  "Uh, huh," said McGregor.
"Jim, is there something I should know?"

"Nothing at all, sir," said Hancock.  "Oh, by the way, Atrios got word
from the resistance that they were able to get Polise out.  Atrios
wants to send Aeryn's unit to meet Polise, and get her to the fleet.
She wants to send them on one of the Vigilantes that defected to our
side.  They could slip into Peacekeeper territory, pick them up, and
slip out again."

"Very well," said McGregor.  "Permission granted.  Tell Aeryn to get
back safely, otherwise my flag ship Captain wouldn't be too happy."

"I will, sir," said Hancock.  "Now, if you will excuse me, sir.  I have
to get ready for dinner." 

"I do, too," said McGregor.  "I'm dining aboard the Hynerian flag ship

"Another flag dinner," said Hancock.  "First it was the Luxans, then
the Illonics, now the Hynerians."

"Making the rounds, General," said McGregor.  "I want to get to know
our allies, and get a chance to see what their tech looks like.  I like
to know who and what I'm working with."

"Well, hope you have a good evening, sir," said Hancock.

"You, too," said McGregor with a knowing tone.  Hancock left the
conference room, just as Captain John Crichton stepped into the room.

"Sir," said Crichton.  "Your shuttle will be ready to go at 16:00

"Thank you, Captain," said McGregor.  "Anything I need to know about
Hynerian dining customs, John?"

"Don't expect any table manners," said Crichton.  They both exchanged a
chuckle.  "Is Hancock going with you?"

"No," said McGregor.  "He is having dinner with Fleet Captain Atrios

"Oh," said Crichton with a smile.  "That's, what, the third time..."

"Fourth, I think," said McGregor.  "Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"

"Yep," said Crichton.  "You notice how they call each other Jim and

"Oh, I noticed," said McGregor.  "If there is something going on, I'm
glad.  Jim hasn't been in a relationship since he and his wife got
divorced a few years ago.  Well, I need to go get ready for dinner,
Captain.  If you'll excuse me."

"Are you sure, Braca?" asked Scorpius.

"Positive, sir," Braca replied.  "Jol was enraged over Polise's escape.
He has gone completely paranoid, thinks Polise is leading the
resistance and is going to have her people avenge her mistreatment at
Jol's hands.  So Jol has doubled the guard around him, and hand picked
those who are loyal to him personally.  No one gets near him without
being searched, and only if they have been cleared by Jol personally in
advance.  Jol has huddled in his office and personal chambers."

"So we can't get to him," said Scorpius.

"No, sir," said Braca.  "Not before we have to leave for the fleet."

"FRELL!" said Scorpius with anger.  "I was hoping we could remove Jol
before we had to fight this insane battle with the enemy fleet.  We
could have prevented this gamble, and gone back to a more sane

"Could this strategy still work, sir?" asked Braca.  "Engaging the
enemy fleet head on like this."

"We shall have to make it work," said Scorpius.  "Frell, Polise's
escape couldn't have come at a less opportune time.  We could have
gotten rid of that fool, but now must play out this gamble."

"So," said Jani Atrios to James Hancock.  "How's the water?"

Hancock was sitting in the bath tub in the center of Fleet Captain
Atrios' private Chambers on the Krandolia.  After he and Atrios had
eaten dinner, they decided to relax in the tub together for a while
before Hancock had to get back to the Indefatigable.

"The water's fine," said Hancock.  "When are you coming in?"

"Right now," said Atrios, stepping up to the edge of the tub.  She
removed her black robe, and tossed it to the floor, leaving her naked
before Hancock's admiring eyes.  Atrios climbed into the tub, and lay
on top of Hancock in the warm water as he took her into his arms.

Atrios and Hancock had been lovers for a couple of weekens.  Ever since
they had met, they had sensed a connection between them, and that
connection developed into a working partnership.  From there, it grew
into a friendship, and then finally grew into a romantic relationship. 

They kissed passionately, enjoying the warmth of the water and the
warmth of each other.  "I must say," said Hancock.  "I see some
comforts are granted Peacekeeper Captains that are not granted to Earth
Force senior officers.  Wish I had a tub like this."

"I'm glad you are...comfortable," she said, as she turned in Hancock's
embrace, and leaned her back into his chest.  He kissed her neck, as
she settle back down into one spot.

"So," said Atrios.  "McGregor thinks that the enemy is going to send
some kind of massive strike at us."

"Yeah," replied Hancock.  "He wants to be ready when they do."

"I think he's right," said Atrios.  "It sounds like something that Jol
would do, opt for some massive strike."

"This could be the calm before the storm," said Hancock.

"So let's enjoy it while we can," replied Atrios.  She turned around,
and met Hancock's lips in a passionate kiss.  

Chapter 15:  Armageddon

A Marauder stood silent an inactive on the surface of a small planet in
the Restria system.  Although the planet was capable of supporting
life, it had never been settled by colonists because it was almost
entirely covered by glacial ice.  In that Marauder, two Sebaceans
waited for friends or enemies to find them.

The two Sebaceans were Karsten Polise, and one of the people who
rescued her, a man she knew only as Ranar.  He didn't speak much, and
she didn't press him for conversation due to the fact she was still
recovering from the torture that the sadistic Admiral Jol had put her
through.  For most of the journey to Restria, Polise slept, letting her
body recuperate.  Ranar had little medical training, so all he could do
was offer her food and water, in between flying the Marauder and
avoiding Peacekeeper patrols.

Now, the two of them waited.  They had been there for two days, hoping
that the unit dispatched from the allied fleet would find them before
the Peacekeepers did.  Ranar kept watch over the scanners on the
Marauder while Polise recuperated.  Finally, close to the end of their
second day of waiting on the planet, a target appeared on the
Marauder's scanners.

"Admiral," said Ranar.  "We're detecting a ship entering the atmosphere
on a vector close to our position."

"Can you identify?" asked Polise, as she got up and headed for the
control panel.

"Yes," said Ranar. "It's a Marauder."

"Frell," said Polise.  "The Peacekeepers have found us."

"Not necessarily," said Ranar.  "The unit sent to retrieve us is coming
from Fleet Captain Atrios' ship.  They may be using Peacekeeper craft. 
We'll know when we make contact."

They watched their screen until the Marauder touched down nearby.
Ranar and Polise retrieved weapons, and disembarked from their ship and
took defensive positions.  The two of them waited under cover for
several minutes, until they saw a group of soldiers coming over a hill
and towards the ship.  They were led by a dark haired woman wearing a
green uniform.  The other members of the group wore either a similar
uniform to the woman's or the uniform of a Marauder commando.

When they got close, the dark haired woman shouted towards the
Marauder.  "THUNDER!"  she yelled.

"LIGHTNING!" yelled Ranar.  That was the signal that they were from
Atrios' ship.  Ranar and Polise rose from their cover, and came out to
meet their rescuers.

"Admiral Karsten Polise?" asked the dark haired woman of Polise.

"I am Polise," she replied.

"Captain Aeryn Sun-Crichton, Earth Force, commanding the Blue Team,"
said Aeryn.  "We come with the compliments of Fleet Captain Jani Atrios
and General Robert McGregor, commander of the ISA allied fleet."

"So," said Polise.  "You are the infamous Aeryn Sun.  I've read much
about you in Peacekeeper data files.  You are one of the most infamous
traitors in our records."

"Thank you," said Aeryn.  "And its Aeryn-Sun Crichton."

"Oh yes," said Polise.  "You are married to the Human John Crichton.
Look, Captain, I don't mean to be rude, but could we please get the
frell off of this rock.  I assume you are to bring me to the allied

"Correct," said Aeryn.

"For what purpose?" asked Polise.

"Fleet Captain Atrios wanted to save you from that madman Jol," said
Aeryn.  "General McGregor would like to meet you.  Beyond that, I am
just to get you there.  There is a Vigilante standing by in orbit.
Shall we?"

"Yes," said Polise.

Admiral Scorpius stood on the bridge of his flag carrier, watching
through the forward viewscreens as his massive fleet pressed forward
through space.  They were just outside of the Delcrion system, the
location where Admiral Jol told Scorpius to intercept the enemy fleet. 
Scorpius had been contemplating strategy ever since he arrived on board
ship, taking into account every single battle he had ever fought with
the Humans.  He used his experience to formulate a plan of battle to
defeat the enemy fleet and hopefully make this insane gamble Jol has
made pay off.

"Sir," said Captain Braca, pulling Scorpius out of his thoughts.  "You
wanted to be informed when the fleet had reached designated

"Yes, thank you, Captain," said Scorpius.  "Issue the following orders
to the squadron commanders.  Have the command carriers form up in
groups of five.  Half of the carrier groups will hold a line of
defense, the others half will maneuver around the left and right flanks
of the enemy fleet.  The Vigilantes are to divide up among the groups
of command carriers.  They're jobs are to swat away any ships that may
try to break up our formations.  That is how the enemy has been
successful against us in fleet actions of the past, by breaking up our
formations.  The Vigilantes are charged with preventing that.
Ultimately, we will surround the enemy fleet, and crush them between
our formations of carriers.  Make sure all commanders understand these
orders perfectly.  Understood?"

"Yes, sir," said Captain Braca.

"Captain Crichton," said General McGregor, as he stepped onto the
bridge of the Excalibur.  "You said it was urgent."

"Yes, sir," replied John.  "Forward elements have detected a large
formation of enemy ships just outside of the Delcrion system.  They're
sending us information on their numbers and deployment now."

Crichton activated a viewscreen on the bridge, that showed a tactical
display of the enemy fleet.  What appeared on the screen was a
nightmare for McGregor and Crichton.  

"Mother of God," said Crichton.  "That's the biggest damn thing I've
ever seen."

"That must be...sweet Jesus," said McGregor.  "There must be at least
100 command carriers there, and a shit load of Vigilantes.  Get me
Fleet Captain Atrios on the comm.  Now!"

"Yes, sir," replied Crichton, as he had the communications officer open
a channel to the Krandolia.  "Channel open."

"Atrios, this is McGregor.  Are you seeing what I am?"

"Yes, sir," she replied.  "We're getting the tactical data now."

"What do you make of that?" asked McGregor.

"Quiet simply, sir," said Atrios.  "That is perhaps 1/3 of the entire
Peacekeeper fleet.  It's the largest armada of Peacekeeper warships
that has been assembled in a hundred cycles."

"And we're headed right for it," said Crichton.  "Looks like the
Peacekeepers want an all or nothing showdown."

" 'And I beheld,'" began McGregor, " 'when he had opened the sixth
seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black
as sackcloth, and the moon became as blood.  For the great day of his
wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?'"

"Sir?" asked Crichton.

"Its from the Bible," replied McGregor.  "Revelations.  I feel we've just arrived at the battle of Armageddon.  And I am
riding a pale horse."  He was silent for a moment, mesmerized by the
magnitude of what he knew was about to happen.  "Captain, contact all
fleet commanders."

"Aye, sir," replied Crichton.  After a few moments, a channel was open
to all of the fleet commanders.

"Attention all allied fleet commanders, this is General McGregor.  We
are about to engage a massive Peacekeeper fleet that has been sent to
oppose us.  We can not go around them, leaving this fleet between us
and our lines of supply.  We can not turn around and leave if we are to
win this war, for this fleet will merely pursue us.  We have to face
the giant, and knock it down.  The following are instructions for fleet
deployment.  The Sebacean, Hynerian, Trallan, Narn, and Centauri fleets
will deploy in the center and press forward with frontal assault.  All
ships from the League of Non-Aligned Worlds will intersperse with these
forces to provide them with extra cover and firepower.  The Minbari and
Earth Force fleets will proceed up the left flank of the attack, the
Luxans and Illonics on the right flank.  All ISA ships will proceed in
a close quarter attack to try and break up their fleet formations.  If
the enemy attempts to move on our flanks, fleets assigned to each flank
will have to intercept them.  Remember to have all fighters monitor for
correct friend or foe ID signals.  If we can knock out this fleet, we
can seriously cripple the enemy's ability to fight this war.  If we
loose, our ability to fight may be just as crippled if not more so.  We
have all come together to fight a common foe, and standing together, we
will win this day.  All ships, break and attack when in position."

Ships on both sides began to launch fighters, raise their defense
screens, and arm their weapons.  The two armadas came closer and closer
to each other on a head on collision course.  The combined number of
capital ships on both sides of the coming storm numbered close to four
hundred.  Now, added to the sight were an estimated 20,000 fighters of
various types from various worlds.  The fighters moved out in front of
their main fleets, and seemed to outnumber the stars against the black
void of space.  As always, even the largest battles begin with on
person firing the first shot.  In this case, the first person to fire
was a Luxan fighter pilot, but within a matter of seconds, almost every
fighter on both sides opened fire.  

Small streams of fire filled the sky as the fighters from the two great
fleets engaged each other in combat.  Dotted among the lines of multi-
colored fire were the bursts of exploding ships as ships fell under
their enemies fire.  The whole sight might have seemed like a beautiful
fireworks display if its meaning did not spell the deaths of what would
soon be thousands of brave pilots on both sides.

And now the capital ships began to open fire.  Peacekeeper frag cannons
opening up on the allied ships, while various cannons and beam weapons
from the allied fleet opened fire on the Peacekeepers.  When the
maelstrom of fire began, the darkness of space seemed to brighten as if
someone turned on a light in a dark room.  Pulses and beams of
destructive energy filled space and it seemed impossible not to score a
hit on an enemy's ship.  Thick as rain, the fire of so many hundreds of
ships streamed across the void and impacted on an enemy's defense

The Sebacean, Hynerian, Trallan, Narn, Centauri, and League ships
pressed forward against the center of the Peacekeeper fleet, taking a
large brunt of the firing coming from the Peacekeepers, but giving as
good as they got.  Earth and Minbari warships darted along the flank to
attack the left side of the enemy fleet, Luxan and Illonic assault
piercers doing the same on the right.  

Meanwhile, McGregor's ISA destroyers and White Stars closed into the
middle of the Peacekeeper formations and used their superior
maneuverability to fly among them.  As in battles of the past, they
tried to break up the Peacekeeper formations of command carriers to
make them easier to destroy.  Also as always, the carriers could not
effectively target the ISA's vessels due to the close proximity of the
other ships in their formations and the stealth technology used in the
ISA ships.  But this time, the Peacekeepers were ready for the ISA

In amongst the carriers were Vigilante warships which began to attack
the incoming ISA ships as they flew in among the formations.  They were
smaller than the carriers and could maneuver in tighter places.   As
ISA White Stars and destroyers came in between the carriers, the
Vigilantes opened fire with great effectiveness, forcing the ISA ships
to break of their attacks.

"Shit," said McGregor on board the Excalibur.  "We can't get in between
the carrier formations, not with those Vigilantes playing watch dog.
We'll have to take them first before we can move on the carriers.
McGregor to all White Stars and Victory destroyers, concentrate your
attacks on the Vigilantes.  Take them out."

The White Stars and ISA destroyers came about and attacked again, this
time focusing their attacks on the Vigilantes.  Meanwhile, the carrier
formations held true and began to pour in concentrated fire on the
allied ships on the center line.  At the same time, half of the
carriers broke from the main line of Peacekeeper warships and proceeded
to flank the allied fleet.

On his command ship, the EAS Suleiman, General Abduhl Kemal watched as
Peacekeeper command carriers moved to flank their fleet.  He contacted
Admiral Lakhat, the Minbari fleet commander, who along with the Earth
Fleet was on the left flank.

"Lakhat," said Kemal over the comm.  "Do you see that?"

"Yes," replied Lakhat.  "We have to stop them at all cost."

"Right," said Kemal.  "We intercept and put our ships right in their
path.  They want to flank our fleet, they will have to get through us."

The Minbari war cruisers and Earth Force destroyers turned on course to
put them in the path of the Peacekeeper carriers moving up the allied
fleet's left flank.  They began to pour fire into the formation of
Peacekeeper ships as they moved, and the Peacekeepers returned fire.
Both formations of ships collided as the Peacekeepers tried to crash
through the Minbari and Earth ships, and as the Humans and Minbari did
their best to stop them.

The Luxans and Illonics saw a similar formation of Peacekeeper ships
move on the right flank of the allied fleet.  They accelerated their
ships to full speed and flew themselves into the Peacekeeper formation,
engaging them at point blank range.  The two sides entered into a
pissing match as each side tried to pulverize the other.

In the center, Fleet Captain Atrios and her two carriers and one
Vigilantes were on the left, and were taking excessive fire from the
Peacekeeper fleet.  Atrios could only surmise that the Peacekeepers
were especially anxious to destroy her ships because they were traitors
to the Peacekeepers.  

"Fleet Captain," said a bridge officer.  "Message from Lt. Meltra on
the other carrier."

"Receive," said Atrios.

"Fleet Captain," said Meltra over the comm.  "The Hynerians are falling
back away from our ships in the line."

"What?!" yelled Atrios.  "I'll handle it.  Get me a channel to the
Hynerian flag ship."  She knew they were pulling back because her ships
were attracting so much fire.  The Hynerians were next to them in the
center line, and if they pulled away from her ships in the line,
Atrios' ships will be exposed.

"Channel open," said the communications officer.

"Hynerian flag ship, this is Fleet Captain Atrios of the Krandolia.
Hold your place in line."

"You attract too much attention, Peacekeeper," said the Hynerian
Admiral.  "We are going to a safer spot on the line."

"LISTEN YOU HYNERIAN SLUG!"  yelled Atrios.  "I will not see my ships
destroyed because of your cowardice.  We need you on our right for
adequate cover, and to maintain cohesion in the line.  Just think of it
this way.  You can brag that a Peacekeeper Fleet Captain had to ask the
Hynerian Navy for protection."

"Hmm," said the Hynerian Admiral.  "Good point.  Oh, very well.  We
will maintain position. For now."

"Thank you, so VERY MUCH!" said Atrios sarcastically.  "Krandolia out!"

McGregor's ISA destroyers and White Stars were still trying to get at
the Vigilantes that were keeping them from breaking up the carrier
formations.  It was a slow process, but the superior design and
firepower of McGregor's ships were taking out the Vigilantes one by
one.  But this process was still slowing down the effort to get at the
Peacekeeper carriers, which were exacting a heavy toll from the center
line of allied ships.  

On the flanks, the Earth and Minbari ships were able to stop the
Peacekeeper formation advancing on the left flank of the fleet.
However, the situation on the right was much more grave.  The Luxans
and Illonics were fighting with bravery and determination, but the
command carriers were just too strong, and were breaking through their
defense of the right flank.  

On the Excalibur, McGregor received word from the Luxan fleet commander
that they needed assistance or the Peacekeepers would soon sweep them
aside.  The General knew that if the proud Luxans were asking for help,
they needed it.  He contacted the Centauri fleet commander, and ordered
the Centauri fleet to move to aid the Luxans and Illonics.  They were
the closest fleet on the center line to the right flank, and thus were
in the best position to render assistance.

The Centauri warships accelerated and came swooping into the
Peacekeeper formation on the right flank.  They poured down heavy fire
into the Peacekeeper ships, allowing the Luxans and Illonics to
regroup.  Once they did, the Luxans and Illonics were able to rejoin
the Centauri in the attack.  This move saved the defense of the right

Both sides were suffering heavy losses at the end of the first hour of
combat.  The Peacekeepers had lost around twenty Vigilantes and around
thirty command carriers.  At the same time, the ISA allied fleet had
lost around seventy warships of various types.  Thousands of lives were
already lost, and still the battle was nowhere near a decision.
Instead, a stalemate ensued as the main Peacekeeper formation held
together despite McGregor's best effort to crack it, and as the
Peacekeeper formations on the flanks were stopped by the Earth,
Minbari, Luxan, Illonic, and Centauri forces.  

Fleet Captain Atrios' two command carriers and one Vigilante came into
a direct battle with a group of three carriers.  The Peacekeepers
stepped up their efforts to remove Atrios and her traitors from the
field.  Atrios' ships were holding their own, but five more carriers
were joining the effort to destroy her forces.  Again, the Hynerian
fleet fell back.

"Atrios to Hynerian flag ship!" she yelled into her comms.  "If you
leave now, my ships will be destroyed."

"Sorry, Peacekeeper," said the Hynerian commander.  "Eight carriers
bearing down on just you.  They want you destroyed, and I for one don't
want to be in their path when they come.  We're going to the Trallan
side of the center line.  They don't seem to be as much of a priority."

Just then, another voice came over the communications channel.  "This
is Brigadier General Hancock on the Earth Alliance destroyer
Indefatigable.  We are moving to support you and Atrios' ships.
Please, maintain formation."

Atrios smiled as her scanners detected the Indefatigable and two other
Earth Force destroyers coming into line with her ships.  After a few
moments, the Hynerian fleet commander's voice came over the comm.
"Very well," he said.  "We will maintain position, since you Humans
think its so important we save them."

Fleet Captain Atrios opened a private channel to the Hancock on the
Indy.  "Jim," she said.  "Thank you.  How can I repay you?"

"Just wait for me in your quarters when the battle is over," replied
Hancock over the comm.  "Wearing nothing but a smile."

She smiled at her lover's frank reply.  The three Earth warships came
into line between Atrios' ships and the Hynerians, and began to add
their fire to that of Atrios' carriers and the Hynerian warships.  

But just as the center line stabilized, the right flank again began to
crumble.  Sensing weakness on the allied fleet's right flank, Scorpius
ordered ten more command carriers to attack that flank and break
through the Luxan, Illonic, and Centauri warships.  This brought the
total number of carriers attacking on the right flank to twenty-five.
Reinforced, the Peacekeepers on the right struck at their enemy's
forces furiously, and did indeed break through the allied defense of
the right flank despite the best efforts of the Luxans, Illonics, and
Centauri to hold.

McGregor watched the situation on the right unfold on a bridge screen
tactical display.  Peacekeeper warships were moving around the right
flank of the center line.  He weighed options, trying to find some way
to stop them.  If he ordered the center line ships to fall back and
regroup, they would expose themselves to the Peacekeeper ships on the
center line.  If the center moved to attack the enemy on the right
flank, the same thing would happen.  He finally came up with a course
of action.

"McGregor to White Stars," he said.  "Maintain assault on the enemy
Vigilantes in the center line.  All ISA destroyers, move to attack the
Peacekeepers on the right flank.  McGregor to Admiral Lakhat."

"Lakhat here," replied the Minbari fleet commander over the comm.

"I need half of your cruisers to join the ISA destroyers on an attack
on the right flank," replied McGregor.

"You'll have them," replied Lakhat.

At flank speed, the Victory class ISA destroyers broke from their
attacks in the center Peacekeeper line, and moved to intercept the
enemy forces moving around the right flank.  McGregor was determined
not to let his fleet get surrounded.  If they did, his forces would be
caught in a hellacious crossfire and would be summarily destroyed or
forced to surrender.  

When the ISA destroyers and the Minbari cruisers came into position to
attack, McGregor contacted the Minbari ships.  "Ok, here is the plan.
Minbari ships, accelerate to flank speed, and attack the command
carriers at point blank range.  Any Luxan, Illonic, and Centauri ships
in proper position, do the same.  Bring down their screens, and my
destroyers will handle it from there.  All ISA destroyer commanders,
arm your main guns.  Select targets, and fire as soon as their screens
are down."

The Minbari cruisers, joined by as many of the Luxan, Illonic, and
Centauri ships as were able, flew straight into the formation of
Peacekeeper carriers and opened fire.  Braving the fire of the
Peacekeeper frag cannons, they began to slowly weaken the defense
screens on the enemy ships.  The allied vessels began to take losses,
but still they kept firing with the goal of bringing down their defense

As soon as one of the carriers' screens went down, one of the ISA
destroyers opened fire with their main guns.  The massive blast of
destructive energy pulverized the command carrier, reducing the mighty
fortress ship to mass of debris in seconds.  One by one, the screens on
the carriers were brought down, and McGregor's Victory class destroyers
used their main guns to destroy the enemy ships.  Although the cost of
this attack on the allied ships was extreme, the tactic worked and the
Peacekeeper ships on the allied fleet's right flank that were not
destroyed were forced into retreat.  

McGregor decided to use the confusion to his advantage.  He activated
the comm.  "All ISA, Minbari, Centauri, Luxan, and Illonic warships.
Fall into line, and accelerate to flank speed.  Full attack on the
Peacekeeper fleet's left flank.  Now!"

The ISA, Minbari, Centauri, Luxan, and Illonic ships charged into the
left flank of the Peacekeeper line, using the confusion caused by the
retreat of the formation of carriers on that side to take them by
surprise.  Unprepared for the ferocious assault, the Peacekeeper left
flank began to fold against the brunt of McGregor's attack.  

As his forces pushed further into the Peacekeeper left flank, he called
in the Narns who were on the allied fleet's center/right to join in the
attack.  Their combined forces used the same tactics that they did to
stop the Peacekeeper move on the allied fleet's right flank.  The
allied ships would bring down the Peacekeeper defense screens, and the
Victory class destroyers would promptly fry the enemy carrier with
their main guns.  The ISA destroyers took turns firing, so they could
cover each other as they took time to recharge their systems after

Meanwhile, the center line of allied ships began to push forward into
the Peacekeeper center, as the Peacekeepers had to divert resources to
stop the enemy assault on their left.  Like a set of iron jaws clamping
down,  the allied forces attacking the Peacekeepers on their left and
center began to slowly crush the Peacekeeper forces between them. Ships
on both sides fell, as the allies attacked and the Peacekeepers were
put on the defensive.

Another hour of combat passed by, and slowly the ISA allied fleet was
winning the battle.  The Peacekeeper ships were falling one by one in
the crushing jaws of McGregor's two main lines of assault.  At the same
time, the Earth and Minbari ships engaged with the Peacekeeper ships on
the left of the allied forces in an almost separate engagement now.
But just like the main engagement, the Peacekeepers on this second
front were also loosing the battle.

Standing on the bridge of his flag carrier, Scorpius watched as his
fleet was slowly being pulverized by the enemy.  His assault on the
right flank of the enemy fleet had been turned against his forces, and
now it was Scorpius' fleet that would soon find themselves surrounded
unless he acted quickly.

"Captain Braca," said Scorpius.  "If we don't end this madness now, our
forces will be annihilated in due course.  Order all ships to break

"Yes...sir," came Braca's defeated reply.

The Peacekeeper forces broke away from the enemy fleet, and began a
hasty retreat.  McGregor watched from the bridge of the Excalibur as
the enemy turned and ran from his forces.  But he was determined not to
let them go that easily, and he activated his comm unit.

"All ISA destroyers and White Stars," said McGregor.  "Break and attack
the retreating enemy fleet.  Let's see if we can get a few more licks

The Victory class ISA destroyers and the swift, agile White Stars
accelerated towards the retreating Peacekeeper fleet.  Scorpius saw
this move, and ordered four carriers to turn and cover the fleet as
they retreated.  McGregor's forces were held by these four carriers,
but the enemy's rear guard paid for this holding action with their
lives as all four of the carriers were eventually destroyed.  

Resigned to the fact that the rest of the Peacekeeper fleet had gotten
away, McGregor ordered his ships to return to the allied fleet.  It was
time to clean up the mess left, pick up survivors, and do damage
assessments to the fleet.  All told the battle had cost the ISA allied
fleet 112 of its 250 warships, leaving them with a fleet 138 warships. 
Thousands of fighters and were destroyed, bringing the total number of
ISA allied casualties to around 40,000 thousand killed and 20,000
wounded in close to three hours of combat.  

The Peacekeeper losses in this battle were far more damaging.  Of the
100 carriers that went into the battle, 78 were destroyed, and of the
50 Vigilantes that entered the engagement, 42 were destroyed.  The
total number of Peacekeeper casualties would later be put at around
60,000 killed and 12,000 wounded.  

The history books would later name this engagement the Battle of
Delcrion, but the men and women who fought there would remember it as
something close to what McGregor had compared it to:  Armageddon.  It
was as if all the fires of hell had been unleashed, and so many
thousands of lives had been consumed by it in a firestorm that lasted
less than three hours.  But it would also be remembered as the
beginning of the end of the Peacekeepers, because the ISA allied fleet
that survived the battle pressed on to defeat their enemy and bring
this destructive war to an end.

Chapter 16:  Shared Pain, Shared Hope

An Earth Force shuttle touched down in the landing bay of the command
carrier Krandolia carrying General Robert McGregor and Captain John
Crichton.  When the shuttle's engines powered down, and the all clear
signal was given, the two men disembarked from their craft onto the
deck of the bay.

Greeting them were Fleet Captain Atrios, General Hancock, and Captain
Aeryn Sun-Crichton.  Anxious to see one another, John and Aeryn broke
military protocol and wrapped their arms around one another in a tight
embrace.  McGregor had allowed Crichton to come with him to the
Krandolia to see Aeryn since both had just survived dangerous
circumstances.  Aeryn had just returned from a mission to retrieve
Admiral Karsten Polise from behind enemy lines, and John had just
commanded the Excalibur in the Battle of Delcrion.  It was a joyous
reunion for the both of them, and they each thanked whatever god or
gods existed that they were both alive and well.

Meanwhile, McGregor approached Hancock and Atrios.  "Fine performance
from both of you in the recent engagement," said McGregor.  "Jim, I've
recommended you for a commendation.  Atrios, I have also put in for you
to receive and ISA decoration."

"Thank you, sir," replied Atrios.

McGregor then turned to John and Aeryn, who still had their arms around
each other.  "As for the two of you.  In recent actions, you have both
also performed brilliantly.  You should be proud of yourselves, and of
each other."

"Thank you, sir," replied John.

Aeryn then whispered in John's ear.  "I am very proud of my husband,
the battle proven Captain of the Excalibur."  The couple exchanged a
brief kiss, as McGregor turned his attention back to Atrios and

"How is Admiral Polise?  What's her condition?" asked McGregor.

"Our doctors say that her body has been brutalized quiet badly,"
replied Atrios.  "She is showing signs of a slow recovery, but...."

"But, what?" asked McGregor.

"If we had not gotten her out when we did," said Atrios.  "She probably
would have died.  Polise was repeatedly beaten, she had a number of
severe lacerations, some broken bones, malnutrition, and her body
showed signs of extreme stress due to pain and physical trauma.  Neural
scans show that she has been treated to at least five complete sessions
in the Aurora Chair."

"Son of a bitch," cursed John under his breath.  He knew what it was
like to be sitting in an Aurora Chair, having your mind ripped to
shreds by that demonic machine.  John had an empathy for Atrios' plight
due to a common experience with the same torture.

"There is one other thing," said Atrios.  "Apparently....somewhere
along the line, the Admiral was raped."

"Dear God," said McGregor.  "Did she say who..."

"Jol," said Atrios.  "Admiral Jol did it after he beat her almost to

"Well," said McGregor.  "This means that Polise might be open to siding
with us, I mean the treatment she got at Jol's hands might be just the
push she needed to switch sides."

"SIR!" said Atrios with anger.  "This 'push' you speak of involves her
being brutally beaten and raped and tortured!  How can you just so off
handedly suggest that this is and advantage for us!  You almost sound
like you are GLAD this happened to her!"

"Of course I'm not glad it happened!" yelled McGregor.  "I'm never glad
when people are made to suffer due to the whims and wishes of MANIACS
and CONQUERORS!  But dammit, thousands and thousands of people have
died in the FUCKING war already!  This fleet has just fought a battle
that saw the deaths of thousands of our comrades, and we killed
thousands of the enemy!  So right now, I am glad of anything, ANYTHING,
that helps bring this madness to an end!  And if the torture Polise has
suffered influences her to come over to our side, and help us get more
of her people to do the same, than that CAN end this war!"

"Easy, sir," said Hancock.  "Take a breath."

McGregor calmed down, and saw that everyone in the landing bay was
looking at him, and had been hearing every word he said.  He took
Hancock's advice, and did take a deep breath, and calmed down.

"Look," McGregor began, "Fleet Captain, I...I don't mean to make light
of what happened to Admiral Polise.  I would never condone what was
done to her, and I am sorry for what happened to her.  I just have so
much more to consider, hundreds of thousands of lives to think of.
Sometimes, I'm so focused on the big picture that I forget about the
suffering of the individuals in all this.  Believe me, when we finish
this war, I will do everything in my power to make sure that Jol is
hung up by his balls for what he did to that woman.  But, for now, I
have to use whatever weapons available to win.  Can you...can you

Atrios was speechless for a moment.  She was taken aback by this man
who was in a violent tirade about winning at any cost at one point, and
then showed quiet sympathy for the plight of those who have suffered in
this war in the next moment.  The Fleet Captain looked into the
General's face, the General's eyes, and saw a man who had the weight of
this war on his shoulders.  She saw cycles of experience as a soldier,
and from that the knowledge of what the hell of war is like.  It was a
hell that she, a professional soldier herself, knew all too well.

"I do understand," said Atrios quietly.  "Believe me, I do want to see
this war end as much as you do.  My people are having to kill their own
kind to bring it to an end, so believe me, I do know about sacrifices
and suffering.  Perhaps...perhaps you're right, that we can...we can
make what Polise suffered have some meaning, have it grow into
something better."

"Look, everyone," said John.  "I think if anyone has the corner on what
it means to suffer, its me.  I know Polise's pain and suffering all too
well.  I also know what it means to take that pain and make it work
for, as Atrios said, something better so that it wasn't all for
nothing.  Look, General McGregor...Robert.  I was wondering if...if you
would let me talk to Polise, be the one to ask her to come over to our
side.  I more than anyone here knows where she is coming from."

"I think that's a good idea," said Hancock.

"John," broke in Aeryn, "are you...are you sure?  I mean, it took you a
long time overcome what happened to you in the Aurora Chair.
Are you sure you want to dredge all that up again?"

"Aeryn," replied John, "it's the right thing to do.  It wouldn't only
help our cause, but it might also help her to talk to someone who
understands.  I want to do this, to win this war and to help her."  He
looked at McGregor.  "Well?"

"Alright," replied McGregor.  "You can be the one to talk to her."

Admiral Scorpius and Captain Braca were escorted into the office of
Admiral Jol in High Command headquarters by several of Jol's personal
guards.  They had to pass through three stations of guards and endure
two searches in order to get in to see him, and that was only made
possible because Jol had ordered them to come once they got back from
the fleet, or what was left of it after the Battle of Delcrion.

Apparently, after Jol had heard about the defeat of the Peacekeeper
armada at Delcrion, he had retreated even further inward.  He refused
to talk to the other members of the High Command council, and did not
leave his office for several days straight.  Scorpius and Braca were
the first two people Jol would allow into his office, and only under
escort from his guards.  

When Scorpius and Braca entered the office, they found Jol sitting at
his desk scribbling on a piece of paper.  His desk was littered with
pieces of paper, all of which had similar scribbling on it.  Jol did
not recognize Scorpius and Braca being in his presence for several
moments.  When he did, he looked up blankly at them.

"Oh, you," said Jol.

"Yes, sir," said Scorpius.  "You wanted to see Captain Braca and I as
soon as we arrived."

"Yes, I did," replied Jol.  He got up from his desk, his uniform
wrinkled and messy from being worn for several days straight.  Jol's
unshaven and unwashed face showed an expression of confusion.  "I read, about what happened at Delcrion.  I think there has been
some mistake."

"What do you mean, sir?" asked Scorpius.

"We could not have lost at Delcrion," said Jol.  "I sent you with 150
of the finest warships in the Peacekeeper armada.  Yet, you say in your
report that most of these ships are now destroyed and that the pride of
our fleet was defeated.  This must not be right.  Obviously, there is
an error."  Then, Jol began to laugh.  "Oh, I know.  You clever devil,
you.  This is some kind of joke."  He began to laugh even louder now.
"Yes, a joke.  Scorpius, I never knew you had it in you.  Of course!
We won the battle, and you are just saying we lost out of jest!

"No, sir," replied Scorpius.  "I am not joking, and the report is
accurate.  We lost, and most of the fleet was destroyed."

"NO!" yelled Jol.  "That is impossible!  You see, I made the plan for
sending the fleet to Delcrion.  I put my finest, most experienced
Admiral in command!  We have superior ships, we...we, our race, is the
supreme race of the universe.  And yet you say, that a load of alien

"But it is, sir," interjected Braca.

Jol grabbed Braca by the neck in a chokehold.  "WHO ARE YOU?!  HEH!
Who are you to question what I say is true and not true!  You pathetic
little minion!  You are nothing!  Why not question the movement of the
planets, why not...why not question the flow of a river!  YOU DARE CALL

"Never, sir," replied Braca, choking in Jol's grasp.

"Sir," intervened Scorpius.  "Captain Braca meant nothing by it.
Please, forgive him, and forgive me for not...teaching him better about
how to act around his superiors."

Apparently placated, Jol released Braca from his grasp, and returned to
the chair behind his desk.  He began scribbling once again.  "Leave,"
he said.  "Now!  I'm busy."

"But sir," said Scorpius.  "What are we to do to meet the inevitable
enemy renewal of their offensive?"

"I'll deal with that later," said Jol.  "First, my slave is taken from
my grasp, now my armada looses in battle.  Too much.  Too much.  Get

Scorpius and Braca left the maddened Admiral to his scribbling.  They
walked down the corridors, not speaking until they were well away from
the area of Jol's offices.  Finally, it was Braca that broke the
silence with a whisper.

"He is mad," said Braca.  "Absolutely, fahrbot!  What are we to do? We
can't get at him, not now!"

"We may not need to," said Scorpius.  "We may have to go around him.
Secretly, contact the other Admirals on the High Command council.  Try
to arrange a secret meeting."

"Yes, sir," said Braca.

Karsten Polise, former member of the High Command council, sat in her
guest quarters aboard the renegade command carrier Krandolia.  The
rebels and their ISA allies had brought her to the carrier a couple of
days ago, had provided her with proper uniform, food, medical care.
All in all, they had treated her very well, and so far had asked for
nothing in return.  She knew that would change soon, though.  

She heard a knock at the door of her quarters.  "Come in," she said.

The door opened, and an older man with gray hair, blue eyes, and
handsome features entered the room.  He was wearing the uniform of an
Earth Force officer, and Polise thought that his rank insignia
indicated a Captain, but she wasn't sure.  She had studied what the
Peacekeepers knew about Earth Force, but she was not entirely
acquainted with the minutia of it all.

"Admiral Polise," said the man.  "I hope I am not disturbing you."

"No," said Polise.  "You're not."

"Good," the man said.  "My name is Captain John Crichton of the ISA
destroyer Excalibur.  I wanted to speak with you if I could."

"So you are John Crichton," said Polise.  "I've heard so much about you
over the cycles, have read much about you in fugitive reports.  I
wonder how much of it was true, and how much was romanticized rumor.
Quite the rogue, from what I hear."

"I'm just a man," said Crichton.  "A man who has tried to survive, and
protect myself and the people I love."

"Including your Sebacean wife and half-breed son," said Polise.  "I met
your wife.  Quite a capable officer."

"I'm glad you were impressed," said Crichton.

"I didn't say I was impressed," said Polise.

"Look, um, Admiral," said Crichton, as he pulled up a chair and sat
down.  "I didn't come to argue with you.  I wanted to talk with you
about some things."

"Let me guess," said Polise.  "In exchange for getting me out of that
dren scull  Jol's grasp, your people want me to betray my people.
Well, let me save you some time.  Not...a...chance."

"You really want to support Jol's side in all this," said Crichton.

"Jol is one man," said Polise.  "If it were just him, I would turn on
him in an instant.  But what you are asking me to do is turn on my
race.  That is something I won't do."

"I am here to ask you to help the Sebacean people," said Crichton.
"That is what we are trying to do.  Our mission is not to defeat or
destroy the Sebacean race.  Our goal is to destroy the Peacekeeper
threat to the people of this galaxy.  We want to bring down the
organization, not the race that it rules.  And it does rule your
people, controls them, restricts their freedoms.  Your people are a
great people, believe me I know.  Sebaceans are inventive, intelligent,
and have the potential of being a great race.  But the only thing that
prevents that are the Peacekeepers.  They have branded your people with
the reputation of being murderers and oppressors, of being the greatest
threat to freedom in the galaxy.  The Peacekeepers have attacked my
people among so many others, while at the same time keeping your people
under their thumb.  We want to bring a new day for your people and all
of the other races of this galaxy, to free them from the fear of
Peacekeeper tyranny and to free your race from their yoke.  Fleet
Captain Atrios and the others of your people who fight alongside us
understand this.  So should you.  Jol may be the individual who hurt
you, but he is the symptom of the disease of a corrupt organization
that functions to torture, to destroy, to conquer, to control."

"I have been a loyal Peacekeeper all of my life," said Polise.

"And look at how that loyalty was repaid!" said Crichton.  "Look at how
Jol has repaid that loyalty!"

"Don't you dare use what I suffered as a method of getting me to turn
on the Peacekeepers!" yelled Polise.  "Don't pretend to understand me
or my pain!"

"BUT I DO UNDERSTAND!" yelled Crichton.  "You want to know about pain! 
Huh?  You and I know the same hell!  We have suffered the same
tortures!  Tell me, did Scorpy tell you about me when he had you in
that chair!  Did he tell you how much I SCREAMED as he ripped into my
mind, over and over, trying to get at the knowledge that I had about
wormholes!  It was knowledge planted their by aliens, knowledge I
couldn't even access.  He was so determined to do it that he had his
chair technician segment my mind a layer at a time to attempt to get at
it!  And when that didn't work, and he knew I might escape, he planted
a damn chip in my head, a chip that had a neuro clone of him.  This
chip and this clone slowly took my mind from me, turned me against
everyone I cared for.  Endangered them all!  I slowly lost myself, and
when the woman I love tried to stop me from going to Scorpius, that
damn clone in control of my body caused me to kill her!  Only the death
of a dear friend of mine saved Aeryn from that death!  So believe me, I
know that pain, I know what it is like to be in the hands of a maniacal
bastard and have your mind ripped apart by him!  So, I am asking you,
do you really want your people to be controlled, to be ruled by Jol and
Scorpius and others like them?  DO YOU?!"

"NO!" yelled Polise.  "But I don't want to make war against my people
to get at them!"

"We want your help in ENDING this war," said Crichton.  "General
McGregor wants your help to convince as many of your people as possible
to come over to our side, to remove as much of the Peacekeeper power
base as possible.  You are a respected officer, you can do that.  Many
of your people will follow you."

"In a move to defeat my own people," said Polise.

"To SAVE your people," said Crichton.  "To save them from an
organization that keeps them from being free.  When the Peacekeeper
organization is destroyed, you can use your experience, both as a
soldier and as a victim of Peacekeeper torture, to create a beginning. 
To build from the ashes of Peacekeeper High Command a new government
that works for the people, not for itself and its own power.  You can
build a new military to protect your people from any threat, and we
will help you do that.  All you have to do is use your influence to get
your people to fight for themselves against the real enemy."

"And if I say no," said Polise.

"Then you are a prisoner of war," said Crichton.  "You will be well
treated, just as you have been up to now, you have my word and the word
of General McGregor and Fleet Captain Atrios.  It was Atrios that
worked to get you out because she respects you.  And I will continue to
help help you through the healing process of what's been done
to you."

Polise was silent for a moment, getting up from her seat and walking
around the room.  After several moments of quiet contemplation, she
turned and looked at Crichton.  "Crichton," she said.  "I...everything
made sense in my universe until a few weekens ago.  And now, it seems
that everything I ever believed in is...nothing.  Means, nothing.
Except for one thing.  I have always believe in my people, and have
always done what I did to protect them.  But...but now, I think I see
that I have been a part of the greatest threat to them, to their
freedom, to their...ability to flourish.   Yet, I wonder if...if I help
you destroy the Peacekeepers, will my people still have a defense."

"They will," said Crichton.  "Only now, it will not be a defense built
on a fear of the Sebaceans and the Peacekeepers, it will be built on a
common bond of friendship with other races.  It will take time, and
will not be easy.  But consider the alternative.  The Peacekeepers will
loose this war eventually, but how many thousands of lives could be
saved if you act now, to end the war quicker and to have your people
play a great part in the war's solution."

"Yes," said Polise.  "The Peacekeepers will loose this war.  I've known
it...I've known it from the time I was put into that chair.  But I have hope again that my people can be saved."  She was
silent for a long moment, as she examined her options in her mind one
final time before deciding.  "Very well.  I will do it."

Chapter 17:  The Means and the Opportunity

In a small room in Peacekeeper High Command headquarters, the members
of the High Command council, minus Admiral Jol, the head of the
council, sat around a table and watched as a holo image was projected
over the center of the table.  The image shown was that of Karsten
Polise, the escaped prisoner of Admiral Jol who had now apparently gone
over to the side of the enemy.  On display was a replay of a
transmission received on all Peacekeeper and Sebacean civilian
frequencies several arns ago.

"Attention all Sebaceans," said Polise.  "This is Admiral Karsten
Polise, former member of the Peacekeeper High Command Council.  I am
transmitting from the bridge of the command carrier Krandolia, one of
several ships whose crews have defected from Peacekeeper control and
sided with the Interstellar Alliance fleet.  I am not their prisoner,
and I have not been mistreated by them.  What I say to you now I say of
my own free will.  For those of you who know me personally or by
reputation, you know what my word means.  I give it to you now that I
am speaking to you out of my own desire.  For too long, the Sebacean
people have been isolated and restricted by the rule of the Peacekeeper
High Command, and it is time for that to end.  I was once a loyal
Peacekeeper, and believed that the Peacekeepers were the line of
warriors that stood between the Sebacean people and any threat, and
were also the hired enforcers of peace.  But in reality, the
Peacekeepers are the single greatest threat to the Sebacean people.  It
is the Peacekeepers that have brought this fleet representing an
alliance of worlds to invade our space.  The Peacekeepers have provoked
this invasion, but these invaders are not here to make war on the
Sebacean people.  They are here to free all of the races of the galaxy,
including our own, from the threat of the Peacekeepers.  I have known
first hand the cruelty that the corrupt Peacekeeper leadership is
capable of.  I served the Peacekeepers loyalty, rose through the ranks
by ability, and for that I was repaid with imprisonment, beating,
torture, and rape at the hands of Admiral Jol.  I now stand on the side
of the ISA fleet, but I do so to save our people from the Peacekeepers
and to end this war.  I call on the men and women who now serve in the
Peacekeeper forces to join us and together we can bring a new day of
freedom and peace for our people, built on the security of friendship
with other worlds.  I call on my people to rise up, and follow me into
this new day.  Any Peacekeeper ship and crew that wants to join us,
come to the ISA fleet and you will be welcomed.   For our people, for
peace, and for the future, stand now."

The image disappeared, and Admiral Scorpius stood up from his chair.
"Well, my fellow members of the council," said Scorpius.  "Have any of
our ships responded to this call from Polise to join her?"

"Apparently," said one of the Admirals.  "We have lost contact with
several command carriers that we know have not been destroyed in
combat.  Same thing with some Vigilantes, Marauder transports, and one
or two installations."

"And how has our leader responded?" asked Scorpius.

"He hasn't," said another Admiral.  "There has been no response from
Admiral Jol.  He just sits in his office and scribbles from what I
understand.  None of us can get in to see him."

"It is apparent," said Scorpius, "that Jol is no longer capable of
leading the High Command Council.  I suggest his...removal."

"On what grounds?" asked one of the Admirals.

"On the grounds of mental incompetence," said Scorpius, "and the
failure to maintain order in the chain of command."

"We agree," said one of the Admirals.

"But we will do it without you," said another Admiral.

"You will what?" asked Scorpius.  "But, I am the second in command of
the council..."

"Put there by Jol," said the first Admiral.  "After you turned on
Polise and prevented Jol's previous removal.  If we remove him now, as
second, you would assume command of the council."

"I would suspect that was your plan all along," said another Admiral.
"Clever, but not clever enough."

"We will move without you, Scorpius," said the first Admiral.

"YOU CAN'T!" yelled Scorpius.  "I am the one to lead, I should command
the council!"

"A Scarren half-breed," said one of the Admirals.  "The leader of the
Peacekeeper High Command Council.  We think not."

"But...but, I have always been a loyal Peacekeeper," said Scorpius.
"You can' will NOT DENY ME!"

"Guards," said one of the Admirals.  Six Peacekeeper guards came into
the room armed with pulse rifles.  "Take Admiral Scorpius and Captain
Braca into custody, on charges of treason against the leader of the

"No!" yelled Braca.  "You can't!"

"Take them away," said another Admiral.

"Sir," said Captain John Crichton to General Robert McGregor on the
bridge of the Excalibur, "signal coming in from the Indefatigable.
General Hancock."

"I'll take in the bridge conference room," said McGregor.  He moved the
few paces into the conference room and approached the viewing terminal.
"Receive," he said.

The image of General Hancock appeared on the screen.  "General
McGregor, I have an update for you.  Five more carriers have just
signed on with us."

"That makes twenty command carriers and twelve Vigilantes so far," said

"Yes, sir," said Hancock.  "Atrios has also received communications
from several Peacekeeper bases saying that they will open their doors
to our forces.  A couple of them are between here and Sebacea.  She has
also received signals that seem to indicate that more Peacekeepers
ships will be coming over."

"Polise did it," said McGregor.  "She was able to get a big chunk of
the Peacekeepers to side with us."

"That's not all," said Hancock.  "Apparently, Peacekeeper High Command
is a mess.  Admiral Jol, from what we have heard, has totally lost
control of his chain of command.  Their leadership structure is in

"But that won't last forever," replied McGregor.  "General Hancock, I
think its time to make a final move to end this war.  I'm going to have
all fleet commanders meet here aboard the Excalibur in two hours.  I
want you, Polise, Atrios, and Aeryn there as well."

"Very well," said Hancock.  "See you in two hours."

Two hours later, the fleet commanders of McGregor's allied armada met
in the main conference room on board the Excalibur.  In the meeting
were the Earth Force, Minbari, Centauri, Narn, Luxan, Hynerian,
Trallan, and League fleet commanders.  Also in the meeting were Admiral
Polise (just appointed the Free Sebacean fleet commander), Fleet
Captain Atrios, General Hancock, Captain John Crichton, Captain Aeryn
Sun-Crichton, and Ambassador Ka D'Argo (who had recently joined the
Luxan fleet).  McGregor took a seat at the head of the table, and the
various aliens who represented the fleet followed suit by taking their

"Ladies and Gentlemen," said McGregor.  "I've called you all here
because I feel the time is right to bring this war to an end.  We have
the means and the opportunity.  The means are, of course, the military
forces we now have at our disposal.  Our fleet has been reinforced by
all of the allied worlds, including another wave of reinforcements from
the ISA worlds, and by the Sebacean ships that have chosen to follow
Admiral Polise on this crusade.  As of now, the number of ships in our
fleet are close to the number we had before the Battle of Delcrion.
The opportunity to move now is provided by an atmosphere of leaderless
confusion now permeating in the Peacekeeper High Command.  But this
opportunity will not last long.  Admiral Polise, what do you think will
eventually happen?"

"Well, no High Command leader has been compulsorily removed in hundreds
of cycles," replied Polise.  "But it will be done soon.  Either
Scorpius will do it, or the other members of the council will.  They
will justify it my Jol's madness and by his lack of ability to maintain
the chain of command."

"We have to move before they can get all their chips in place," said
McGregor, "before Jol can be removed and the Peacekeeper chain of
command reigned in by whoever does it.  So, I propose we take the fleet
and move on Sebacea itself.  Now."

"Sir," said the Hynerian fleet commander, "we were not planning on
moving on Sebacea for at least another monen from what I understand."

"Plans have changed," said McGregor.  "The time table has been pushed
up by necessity, and by opportunity.  If we wait, High Command will get
its head screwed back on straight, and it will be harder to move on
Sebacea.  We go now, while the going is good.  Now, Fleet Captain
Atrios, I understand several bases have defected over to our side
between here and Sebacea.  Are there enough bases between us and
Sebacea on our side to allow us safe passage?"

"Just about," said Fleet Captain Atrios.  "There is one base that is
still loyal to High Command that stands in our way.  Selarna.  If we
were to move on Sebacea without taking it, enemy forces could launch an
assault from there could flank us and inflict severe damage on our
forces.  We have to take that base first."

"Sir," broke in Aeryn.

"Yes, Captain Crichton," said McGregor.

"Sir, I have been examining the schematics of the Selarna base," said
Aeryn.  "I think a small team as spearhead, supported by say a Regiment
of ground forces and some orbiting ships, could take the base.  I just
happen to command such a team."

"Bladestar Regiment has defected to our side," added Polise.  "They are
well experienced in such assaults, they could support her team.  A
command carrier could get them in, and lay down the cover fire from
orbit necessary."

"Sir," said Atrios.  "Might I volunteer the Krandolia to do this.
Since Admiral Polise is now commanding the Free Sebacean fleet, I and
my ship can be spared for this mission."

"Very well," said McGregor.  "Mission is authorized."

"Sir," said Hancock.  "We don't know what the Krandolia is going to run
into when they get to Selarna.  It is a shipyard, so that means there
could be anything from some Marauders to a command carrier or two.
Atrios may need some fire support, so I would like to take the
Indefatigable and go with her."

"Well," said McGregor.  "The reasoning for you proposal is sound,
though I'm not sure those are the only reasons you want to go with the
Krandolia on this mission."  Atrios took a quick glance at Hancock to
gauge his reaction to McGregor's last statement.  She saw a hint of
slight embarrassment, seeming to indicate McGregor was right.
"Alright, the Indy will go with the Krandolia.  Atrios will command the
operation from space, Captain Sun-Crichton will command from the
ground.  Our offensive on Selarna and Sebacea itself will launch in two
days, so get your fleets ready.  Any further questions?"

McGregor fielded questions from the fleet commanders for several more
minutes, before the meeting broke up and the various officers left the
conference room.  In the corridor, Atrios moved over to speak to

"Jim," said Atrios.  "Can I speak with you a moment?"

"Alright," replied Hancock.  They stepped into a side corridor for a
little more privacy.  "What is it?"

"What McGregor said was true, isn't it?" asked Atrios.  "You want to go
with my ship to protect me."

"Well," began Hancock.  "I, um...yes, that did factor into my thinking.

"Frell," said Atrios with irritation. "Aeryn warned me about this."

"Aeryn?" asked Hancock.

"Yes," said Atrios.  "When you and I became...involved, I wanted to get
some advice from someone who has been in a similar position."

"You mean a former Peacekeeper falls in love with a Human," said

"Well, yes," said Atrios.  "She warned me about Human men and their
over protectiveness.  Your actions have confirmed her warning."

"Look," said Hancock, as he put his hands on her shoulders.  "I do want
to protect you, but it will also be good for you to have a second ship
providing cover fire.  Two ships are better than one if you get in
trouble.  But, I am protective of you and I won't apologize for it.
And I do...I do love you."

"Jim," said Atrios, putting her arms around Hancock.  "I love you, too.
But remember, I'm in charge in this mission.  Got that?"

"Yes, ma'm," said Hancock.  "Permission to kiss the Fleet Captain?"

"Permission granted," she said with a smile, as they leaned in and

Aeryn walked onto the bridge of the Excalibur, hoping to find her
husband there.  He had been silent all through the meeting, and had
left without saying a word to her when the meeting broke up.  Now,
Aeryn found her husband sitting in his command chair on the bridge of
his ship, going over some reports on the ship's operational status.
She walked up to him.

"Can I help you, Captain Crichton?" asked John.

"Yes, Captain," replied Aeryn.  If he wanted to play the hide behind
formality thing, she could do that.  "Permission to speak to you

"I'm rather busy now, Captain," replied John.  "Is it urgent?"

"Yes it is," said Aeryn.

"Very well," said John.  "Lennock, take over the bridge."

"Yes, sir," said the Minbari Ranger first officer.

John led Aeryn into the bridge conference room.  Aeryn closed the door
behind them.  "Aeryn, by the way," said John.  "I've been meaning to
tell you.  I got a message from Jack's squadron commander on the
Indefatigable.  She said that he has performed extremely well, and that
we should be proud."

"I know," said Aeryn.  "I received a copy of that same message.  But
I'm not here to talk about Jack."

"Oh," said John.  "What are you here to talk about?"

"I want to know why you are acting like a drannit?" asked Aeryn.

"You know," said John, "I remember the first time you called me that.
I didn't know what it was.  Now I know, and I don't like the
comparison.  So if you don't mind, I have better things to do than
stand here and be insulted."

"John, its about me leading this mission to Selarna, isn't it?" asked

"Oh, wow!" yelled John.  "Give the lady the first prize!  BINGO!  You
got it, babe!  What's this shit about going over the specs for that
base?  You were preparing to present yourself as the perfect choice to
lead this assault!  Weren't you?"

"I am a soldier, John," said Aeryn.  "A warrior!  I have been since we
met!  In all of these cycles, you still can't accept that!  Why?"

"Because, I love you!" yelled John.  "I've almost lost you so many
times.  Hell, I did loose you once!  And when I got you back, I thanked
God for it!  But why do YOU have to volunteer for every frelling
dangerous mission that comes along?"

"I am qualified to lead this mission," said Aeryn.  "I have the best
unit to lead this mission.  I can help to bring this war to an end, and
hopefully I won't have to risk myself again."

John began to pace around the room, but Aeryn walked over and grabbed
him by his arms.  "John, I love you, too," said Aeryn.  "I want us...I
want to live a life where I don't have to fight anymore, where...where
there are no more Peacekeepers to cast their shadow over our lives.  If
I can play a significant part in the end of the Peacekeepers, then I am
all for it.  For my sake, for yours, for Jack's and Elana's, and for
our granddaughter Aeryn's sake.  I do all that I do for our family.  It
was our family, the Crichtons, that brought these forces into motion,
and it must be us that aids in its conclusion.  Believe me, all I want
is to live in peace with you, to be in your arms for the rest of our
days together.  But we must do this, first.  Do you understand?"

"Aeryn, I..."began John.  He could not finish his thought at first, but
a smile finally appeared on his face and he found the words to express
his emotions.  "Baby, I have...always been proud that you are my wife,
the Mother or my son.  And just now, I was reminded of one of the many
reasons for my pride in being your husband.  I am married to the
strongest person I have ever known, in body and mind and spirit.  I
believe in you.  But just do me one favor?"

"What's that?" asked Aeryn.

"Keep your head down," said John.

With tears falling from her eyes, Aeryn flung herself into John's arms.
They embraced each other in a tight hold, and began to exchanged
desperate kisses on each other's lips and cheeks.  They remained in
each others arms for several minutes, just enjoying the closeness and
familiarity of each other.  Finally, Aeryn broke the silence.

"John," she said.  "I am the one who should be proud...proud to be your
wife, proud to have your family name with mine, proud to be the Mother
of your son.  You are the most remarkable man I have ever
known.  And I will always love you."

Chapter 18:  The Final Battle

The command carrier Krandolia and the Earth Alliance destroyer
Indefatigable entered the Selarna system.  They were approaching a
Peacekeeper base and shipyard on the fourth planet of that system with
their screens up and their weapons armed.  Standing on the command deck
of the Krandolia, Fleet Captain Jani Atrios watched the base come
closer and closer into view.

"Lieutenant," said Atrios to one of her officers.  "Are we detecting
any ships in orbit whatsoever?"

"Not detecting any....wait," said the Lieutenant.  "Confirmed.  One
command carrier on a course vector out of this system."

"Estimated course vector destination?" asked Atrios.

"Sebacea, Fleet Captain," replied the Lieutenant.

"Just one carrier," thought Atrios.  "We got lucky.  But...its not
moving to defend, its leaving the system.  This means the base is open
to attack."

"Fleet Captain," said the Lieutenant, breaking into Atrios' thoughts.
"Captain Crichton is requesting permission for her landing force to

"Permission granted," said Atrios.

A large number of Marauders launched from the Krandolia, and headed for
the Peacekeeper base.  These ships contained the Bladestar Regiment,
the main element of the ground assault force, and Captain Aeryn Sun-
Crichton's Blue Team, which will be charged with being the spearhead of
the assault on the base.

On board one of these Marauders, Aeryn's mixed team of Earth Force
Special Forces and Marauder commandos were strapped in and waited for
the craft to bring them in for a landing.  Two of the people sitting in
the group were medics Trayvor Rel and Kumiko Takagi.  The two lovers
sat next to each other, trying to focus on the mission instead of
thinking about the risk to each other.  But Trayvor Rel had something
on his mind, and he had to get it out before they landed.

"Kumiko," he said.  "I have to ask you something before we land."

"What?" she asked.

"Do you love me?" he asked.

"You know I do," she replied.  "Do you love me?"

"Yes," he replied.  "I do.  Kumiko, I was wondering
would....marry me?"

"Marry..."began Kumiko in shock.  "You want to get married?"

"Yes," said Trayvor.  "The moment we get back from this mission, I want
to marry you.  If you'll...have me."

Kumiko smiled.  "Yes.  I'll marry you."

They quickly exchanged a kiss, that brought about a few cheers from
their fellow Blue Team members around them.  That was when Trayvor and
Kumiko had remembered that they had an audience.  Congratulations were
issued by the members of the groups to the newly engaged couple, but
things soon calmed down again as they began to enter the planet's

Standing just behind the flight stations of the Marauder was Captain
Aeryn Sun-Crichton.  She watched as the Marauders began their
atmospheric descent, waiting for them to start taking fire from the
ground defenses below.  But none was forth coming, and this made Aeryn
very nervous.

"Lieutenant," she said to one of the pilots of the Marauder.  "Are we
detecting any signs from the base of an attempted defense?  Targeting
scans, energy spikes, anything?"

"Negative, Captain," replied the pilot.  "Nothing.  Its as if the base
were dead."

Aeryn began to get a bad feeling about what they were going into.
"Lieutenant," she said.  "Get me a channel to the Krandolia?"

After a few moments, the pilot stated that a channel was open.
"Krandolia," said Aeryn, "this is Captain Crichton.  I need to speak
with Fleet Captain Atrios."

"Go ahead," said Atrios over the comm.

"Could you do a scan of the base for life form reading?" asked Aeryn.

"Stand by," replied Atrios.  After a few moments, Atrios spoke again
over the comm.  "This is strange.  Scanners report no life signs
whatsoever.  Apparently, the enemy has abandoned the base."

"But they wouldn't just evacuate, and let us take..."began Aeryn.  It
was then that she realized what was going on.  She reached over to the
comm system and opened up a general comm channel.  "This is Captain
Crichton to all Marauders!  Withdraw at once!  I repeat, withdraw!
Proceed back to the carrier!"

On order, all of the Marauders came about and withdrew from the
planet's atmosphere.  Fleet Captain Atrios' voice came over the comm
again.  "Captain Crichton," she said.  "What the frell are you doing?"

"The enemy would not just leave that base for us to take," said Aeryn. 
"If they evacuated it, then they would not just leave it.  I think they
have the place rigged as a trap."

"You mean our forces move in, and..."began Atrios.

"The place blows sky high," said Aeryn.  "Look, their defense screens
and defense grids are down.  I recommend destroying the base by orbital

"Very well," said Atrios.  "Get your troops back to the carrier."

General Robert McGregor stood on the bridge of the Excalibur and
watched as the planet of Sebacea came into view from his bridge's
forward viewscreens.  The last time he had seen the planet, it had been
through a flight helmet and canopy of a Thunderbolt Starfury as he lead
the raid on the High Command headquarters nearly eight weeks before.  

Now, he was back again, and this time he was coming with a fleet of 240
warships from eleven different worlds.  These ships included Free
Sebacean command carriers and Vigilantes under Admiral Karsten Polise's
command.  After receiving word from Atrios that the Selarna base had
been neutralized, McGregor gave the order to move in.  As the fleet
approached Sebacea, he felt a nearing sense of conclusion to this war,
but the beginning of a new age for the galaxy as the Peacekeeper threat
was brought to an end and the Sebacean people were freed to find their
place among the free peoples of this galaxy.

Standing behind McGregor was Captain John Crichton, who was in a way
the man who had started this revolution.  He was the one who was the
first to successfully and open defy the Peacekeepers and their power,
the person who made the first connection between Humans and Sebaceans
in more ways than one.  This was the first time he had ever seen
Sebacea (other than in data file photographs), the home world of his
wife's race.  As he looked on it now, he thought it looked much life
Earth in its mixture of landmasses and oceans and blue sky.  The shapes
were all different, but it none the less possessed a similar serenity
to Earth in his view.

Crichton's thoughts were broken into by Lennock, who handed him a
report.  He read it quickly, and spoke to General McGregor.  "Sir," he
said.  "We have a fleet scanner report on Sebacean defenses."

"What does it say?" asked McGregor.  He followed Crichton to a
viewscreen, and the Captain put the information on a tactical display.

"This is what they got," said Crichton.  "Approximately forty command
carriers deployed in a defensive line between us and the planet."

"Just forty carriers," said McGregor.  "I was hoping for this.  That
idiot Jol hasn't been able to muster the forces necessary to defend
Sebacea yet.  The enemy's chain of command is still screwed up, so this
is all they could muster in the time available.  But, we had better
move quickly before they can bring in more warships."

"Sir," said Crichton.  "That's not all.  They also have approximately
thirty heavy orbital defense platforms.  But we won't be in there range
until we get past the carriers."

"Well hopefully the resistance will have that little problem taken care
of, if all goes according to plan," said McGregor.  "Order the fleet to
move in, and have Admiral Polise standing by when I give the signal."

"Aye, sir," said Crichton.

"I just don't understand how they knew we were coming," said Atrios.
She, General Hancock, and Captain Aeryn Sun-Crichton were standing on
the command deck of the Krandolia discussing their situation.

"And if they did know," added Hancock.  "Why didn't they just prepare a
better defense, instead of evacuating and setting some trap?  What a
waist of a base."

"It must have been on Jol's orders," said Atrios.  "Sounds like a
foolish plan of his."

"But it still doesn't explain..."began Aeryn, but she was interrupted
before she could finish.  A Lieutenant and two of the Krandolia's
soldiers brought in a woman wearing a technicians uniform at gunpoint.

"Fleet Captain," said the Lieutenant.  "We caught this tech with a
transmitter on one of the lower decks.  The device was set to a High
Command frequency."

"Identify yourself," said Atrios to the woman.

"Technician Lalost," she said.  "I just...I just found that
transmitter, and I..."

"You don't look familiar," said Atrios.  "You are not a member of my
crew, not one of the one's that defected with me.  I regard myself at
good at remembering faces.  Who are you really?"

"I decline to answer," said the woman.

"So you are not Technician Lalost," said Aeryn.  "I'd wager she's a
disruptor.  Who are you really?"

"Very well," she said.  "Disruptor Tial, Special Directorate.  I'm here
on the orders of Admiral Jol."

"A spy," said Hancock.  He looked at Fleet Captain Atrios.  "Its your
ship, Fleet Captain.  How do you normally handle this sort of thing?"

Without saying a word, Atrios drew her pulse pistol from its holster
and shot Tial in the chest.  The Disruptor fell to the deck dead, as
Atrios holstered her weapon.  "That's how," she said.

The ISA allied fleet approached the wall of forty command carriers
deployed between them and the planet Sebacea.  From the bridge of the
Excalibur, McGregor monitored the situation and waited for the right
moment.  Finally, as they got within a few minutes of being in firing
range, McGregor activated communications.

"McGregor to Polise," he said.  "Now."

From her flag ship, Admiral Karsten Polise activated a comm channel on
all Peacekeeper frequencies.  "Attention Peacekeeper fleet.  This is
Admiral Karsten Polise of the Free Sebacean military forces.  As a
Sebacean and a former member of the High Command council, I request
that you stand down and do not fire.  This fleet is here to free our
people from the Peacekeepers.  Thirty-eight of our ships have chosen to
stand with us and be a part of the solution, a part of the liberation
of our world from Peacekeeper domination.  You too can be a part of it.
I know that it is difficult, I know that it goes against all that you
have been taught, but these people from all of these different worlds
have joined with free Sebaceans to end Peacekeeper rule and bring a new
day of freedom for our people.  You know me, you know my record and my
reputation.  You know I speak the truth.  Don't accept the box that the
Peacekeepers have made you live in.  Join me, join us, and end this
destructive conflict now.  I am not speaking with the voice of treason,
I am speaking with the voice of freedom, as one of many such voices.
As your voices to this chorus.  Stand down."

"Sir," said Captain Crichton.  "Fleet scanners report that the enemy
carriers are raising their defense screens and launching fighters."

"Order all fleet commanders to do the same," said McGregor.  "If they
want to fight this out, we'll accommodate them."

"Wait, sir," said Crichton.  "We're receiving a report from Polise's
ships.  They are getting comm signals from some of the carriers.
Sounds like some of the Peacekeepers want to know if Polise is legit.
What do we do sir?"

"Continue closing," said McGregor.  "But let the enemy take the first
shot.  Order all ships to only fire on those ships that fire at us.
Any ships that do not fire at us are considered to be non-combatant
unless they take hostile action, then act accordingly."

"Polise to McGregor," said a voice of the comm channel.

McGregor activated his command chair comm unit.  "Go ahead."

"We're getting signals from a lot of ships asking about our proposals,"
said Polise.  "We are picking up signals being transmitted between the
carriers themselves, and between High Command and the Peacekeeper
fleet.  Apparently, there is a lot of confusion, some of the carrier
commanders are refusing to fire.  High Command is screaming at them to
obey orders.  It's a massed confusion.  What should we do?"

"The fleet will continue forward, and engage according the rules of
engagement," said McGregor.

"We could attack now with a swift assault, while there is confusion,"
said Polise.

"No," said McGregor.  "If we do that, some of the ships considering
switching sides may get hit.  It would make us look like liars.  No.
We stick to the rules of engagement, and not fire until fired upon."

"Sir," said Crichton.  "Several of the carriers are locking targeting
sensors on the fleet.  Firing."

The frag cannons on eight of the enemy command carriers opened fire on
the allied fleet.  As per McGregor's orders, the ISA allied ships
returned fire on those ships only, holding fire on any ships not
currently engaged in hostile acts.  More of the enemy ships began to
fire, and McGregor's fleet in turn targeted those ships and fired.  But
as about fifteen of the command carriers opened fire, five of the enemy
ships broke formation and signaled that they were standing down.  The
other twenty ships of the Peacekeeper fleet did not do anything.  They
kept their screens up, and their weapons armed, but did not attack or
stand down.

McGregor got on the comm channels again.  "To all fleet commanders,
remember, do not fire on any enemy ships not engaging in hostile
action, whether they have stood down or not.  We don't want to provoke
their fire out of self-defense."  He knew that this was a dangerous
game that they were engaged in, that those carriers that were not
firing could very well engage them with all guns blazing at any moment.
But, he had to give some of those men and women in the other fleet a
chance to stand down, to be a part of ending this conflict.  McGregor
was forging a crucible based on hope.

The concentrated fire of the ISA allied fleet came down on the fifteen
enemy vessels that were firing.  The heavy firepower of the ISA fleet
crashed into those few ships, and began blasting away their defense
screens.  Two of the hostile vessels lost their screens, and McGregor's
fleet kept up their fire into their hull.  One of the ships, after
taking severe damage, signaled their surrender, but the other remained
defiant, and was destroyed.

Unfortunately, seeing one of their ships destroyed spurred some of the
non-engaged ships into action.  Eight more command carriers opened fire
on McGregor's fleet.  The allied vessels in turn targeted those vessels
and opened fire.  It seemed that McGregor's hopes for more defections
might be running out, until two more Peacekeeper carriers signaled that
they were standing down and broke formation.  That made a total of
seven carriers standing down, 1 carrier surrendered, 22 engaged in
hostile action, and 10 still not taking any action whatsoever.

The battle raged on, as the hopelessly outnumbered Peacekeeper command
carriers engaging the allied fleet began to succumb to the fire from
McGregor's vessels.  Two more carriers were destroyed, and still those
ten remaining ships restrained from taking action one way or the other.
About twenty minutes into the engagement, McGregor's forces detected
ten more command carriers entering the system.  The General was about
to give orders for his ships to turn and engage them when these newly
arrived carriers targeted the Peacekeeper carriers engaging the allied
fleet, and opened fire with their frag cannons.  That was when Polise
sent a message to McGregor saying that they were forces who had
defected to her command, and that they were aware of his rules of

When these ten newly arrived carriers began engaging the Peacekeeper
fleet, four more of the inactive carriers in the enemy fleet signaled
that they were standing down.  That still left six undecided, but the
twenty that were engaging McGregor's forces were slowly being
obliterated by the firepower arraigned against them.  Four more hostile
carriers exploded under allied fire, but the enemy still managed to get
their licks in as several allied vessels were destroyed by enemy fire.

After an hour of combat, all but five of the hostile carriers were
destroyed.  That was when General McGregor opened up a comm to those
ships.  "Attention hostile Peacekeeper vessels," he said.  "This is
General Robert McGregor, commander of the ISA allied fleet.  You are
outnumbered, outgunned, and your vessels' defense screens are near
collapse.  The rest of your fleet has either stood down, refused to
support you, or has been destroyed.  Do not waist your lives with
useless bravado.  Surrender now, and I guarantee fair treatment to all
officers and men aboard."

"Sir," said Crichton.  "Two of the hostile carriers have signaled
surrender.  The other three are continuing to fire.  Orders?"

McGregor activated a comm channel to the other Victory class
destroyers.  "McGregor to ISA destroyer group.  Target main guns on
three remaining hostiles and fire."

The twelve Victory class destroyers in McGregor's fleet almost
simultaneously opened fire with their main guns at the three remaining
hostile carriers.  The combined blast pulverized what was left of their
defense screens, and then crashed into the hulls of the ships.  All
three enemy vessels succumbed to the fire, and exploded.  

After the explosions from the three vessels died down, an eerie silence
fell on the field of battle.  Neither side was firing on the other, but
six carriers still remained uncommitted to a course of action.  They
had just stood by and watched as the rest of the fleet stood down, was
destroyed, or surrendered.  Now, everyone waited to see what they would
do.  It was as if every man and woman on every ship held their breaths
to see what would happen.  

Four minutes later, Captain Crichton received a signal over his
headset, and then spoke to McGregor.  "General," he said.  "The six
remaining enemy carriers signal that they are standing down."

Everyone on the bridge of the Excalibur began to cheer, and General
McGregor let out a large exhale of relief that came with victory.  But
he also knew that this war was not over yet, and that there was one
more thing left to do.

McGregor activated a comm channel.  "McGregor to all fleet commanders. 
Move in on Sebacea itself.  Engage defense platforms that fire on us,
or any other hostile target.  But do not fire unless fired upon."  He
then looked at Crichton.  "Captain, see if you can get me a channel to
Peacekeeper High Command."

The Peacekeeper Admirals of the High Command council stood in the
office of their council leader, Admiral Jol.  The guards that had once
protected Jol were now gone, apparently called away on other duties or
just simply abandoning their post and their insane commander.  The
council members found Jol sitting on the floor in a corner of his
office, mumbling and cringing as he saw the Admirals come in.

"Everyone is out to get me," said Jol.  "Everyone.  No one listens.
All gone, its all gone, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.  All
betrayed me.  Polise, Scorpius, the council, the fleet officers, all
betrayed me.  They did greatness, my place, my
leadership.  I was too powerful for them.  All gone.  Nothing, nothing,

"Shall we kill him and put him out of his misery," said one of the

"No," said another.  "We are going to need a scapegoat, an excuse, for
when the ISA and their allies come.  We have no defense now.  Our fleet
is defeated, our defense grid inactive because the resistance has
destroyed the control center.  All we have as a defense now is Jol, and
Scorpius.  When they ask for those to condemn, we will hand McGregor
and his forces those two.  A madman and a half-breed."

A Lieutenant came into the room, glancing at the odd sight of the High
Command council leader cringed up in a ball in the corner of the room. 
But she quickly shook away her confusion and got to the business of why
she was there.  "Admiral," she said to no one member of the council in
particular.  "We are receiving a communication from the ISA allied
fleet commander, General Robert McGregor.  He is demanding our
unconditional surrender."

"Shall we fight them on the ground," said one of the Admirals.
"Perhaps, put up some resistance, give time for fleet forces loyal to
us to come to our aid."

"No one could come," said another Admiral.  "Not with that fleet in
orbit.  Or what if they decided not to land, but to open fire from
orbit.  Planetary bombardment of Sebacea.  No, we can't allow that, and
we can't prevent them from doing it if they wanted to."

"If we surrender now," said another Admiral.  "Perhaps they will be
more lenient with us later."

"Perhaps," said the first Admiral.  "Very well.  I shall signal our
surrender.  Order all forces to stand down.  Meanwhile, place Jol under

Chapter 19:  Ending the War, Building a Peace

It had been two days since the Peacekeeper High Command had signaled
the ISA fleet with their acceptance of unconditional surrender.  With
that action, the fighting ended, but the war was yet to be concluded.
General McGregor insisted on a formal surrender ceremony, and only then
would the war be considered concluded.

Two hours after the Peacekeepers signaled their surrender, the building
was secured by Earth Force and Free Sebacean troops.  The Admirals of
the High Command council were placed in protective custody, pending the
surrender ceremony and what General McGregor had decided to do with

Meanwhile, McGregor turned Peacekeeper High Command headquarters into
allied occupation headquarters for Sebacea.  There was no word yet from
the ISA about what sort of occupational administration would be set up,
so the General only took basic steps to secure all Peacekeeper bases
and weaponry on Sebacea, set up mechanisms to maintain civil order,
among other measures.  He decided to have the surrender ceremony at
High Command headquarters as a symbolic act for the ending of
Peacekeeper rule.

The participants for the ceremony gathered in the courtyard outside of
the High Command building.  Representatives from all of the races that
went to war with the Peacekeepers, including the Sebaceans that took up
arms against the Peacekeepers, came into formation behind a large table
set up in the middle of the courtyard.  Standing at the head of the
formation was General Robert McGregor, who would represent the combined
ISA allied command.  Immediately behind him was the ISA delegation,
which was made up of Brigadier General James Hancock, Captain John
Crichton, Captain Aeryn-Sun Crichton, Entilza Susan Ivanova (who had
recovered from her injuries), and Ambassador Ka D'Argo.

A party of officers in full Peacekeeper uniform came from the other
side of the courtyard.  They were the deposed Admirals of the High
Command Council, and they would be the ones to surrender on behalf of
the Peacekeeper forces.  Missing from the delegation were Admiral's Jol
and Scorpius, who were being held in custody.  The Admirals came
forward to the side of the table opposite of the allied delegations.

Now that everyone was present, General McGregor began to speak.  "We
are gathered here, the representatives of the warring parties, to
conclude a peace and bring an end to this war.  The many issues that
caused this war have been settled in the battles that brought us here,
and are not the subject of discussion or debate.  The representatives
of the Peacekeeper High Command council will now sign the Instrument of
Surrender on behalf of the Peacekeeper government and armed forces."

Two of the Peacekeeper Admirals came forward to the table.  Without a
word spoken, they picked up pens and signed the surrender document
which was sitting on the desk.  They're names written in Sebacean
alphabet on the document, they stepped back to rejoin their comrades.

"And now," began McGregor, "I will sign the Instrument on behalf of the
Interstellar Alliance and her allies in acceptance of the surrender by
the Peacekeeper High Command.  After I have signed, the representative
of each warring party will be called forward in order of their initial
declaration of hostilities, and will sign accepting the surrender on
behalf of their respective governments."

General McGregor stepped forward, and signed the document in three
places with three separate pens.  When he had finished, he turned
around.  "Would Captains John and Aeryn Crichton, and Entilza Ivanova
come forward please."

John, Aeryn, and Ivanova came forward, and each accepted one of the
pens that General McGregor signed the document with.  Then, McGregor
and the trio he called forward returned to their places.  The General
then spoke again.  "The representative of the Earth Alliance will now
sign."  General Abduhl Kemal came forward and signed on behalf of the
Earth Alliance.  McGregor continued.  "The representative of the
Minbari Federation will now sign."  Admiral Lakhat came forward and
signed on behalf of the Minbari.  McGregor continued to call each
representative in turn.  He called forward the representatives of the
Narn Regime, the Centauri Republic, the Luxans, the Illonics, the
Hynerian Empire, the Dominion of Trall, the League of Non-Aligned
Worlds.  Finally, McGregor called forward the last representative.
"The representatives of the Free Sebacean Military Forces will now
sign." Admiral Karsten Polise and Fleet Captain Jani Atrios both came
forward and signed on behalf of the forces that fought under them
against the Peacekeepers.  

All of the representatives had signed the document.  Now, there was
just one thing left to do.  General McGregor spoke one more time.  "The
signing of this document now concludes this terrible conflict that has
claimed hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides.  I will end this
ceremony with some words spoken by Douglas MacArthur, an Earth General
on a similar day ending another terrible war.  'Today, the guns are
silent, a great tragedy has ended.  I pray that omnipotent providence
will summon all persons of good will to the realization of the utter
futility of war.  We have known the bitterness of defeat, the
exaltation of triumph, and from both we have learned that there can be
no turning back.  We must go forward to preserve in peace what we've
won in war.'"

Several days later, General McGregor called General Hancock, Admiral
Polise, Captains John and Aeryn Crichton, and Fleet Captain Atrios into
the office he had taken in the High Command headquarters.  It had once
been the office of Admiral Jol, the leader of the High Command council.
When Admiral Polise walked into the room, she gave a visible shudder to
once again being in the room where she had suffered torture,
humiliation, and rape at Jol's hands.  They all sat down around a
conference table.

"I've called you all here," said McGregor,  "because I have received
instructions from the ISA regarding the occupation of Sebacea.  The ISA
and her allies have decided that an occupation government will be set
up on Sebacea, with primary responsibility for that government held by
the Earth Alliance.  The other powers will have responsibilities, but
the Humans have basically been given the lead in all this.  Much as I
looked forward to going home, I won't be doing so for the near future. 
Earth Gov, with the approval of the ISA, has appointed me military
governor of Sebacea and all former Peacekeeper controlled assets.
They've given me some instructions, but mostly the ball is in my

"Congratulations, sir," said John.  "I'm sure you'll do a good job."

"I hope your right," said McGregor.  "I'm a soldier, not a politician. 
I was hoping that maybe Ivanova would take the job, but she has been
ordered back to Minbar.  The action may have been out here, but the ISA
still has to maintain security in our home section of the galaxy.
President Delenn needed her back there."

"Its too bad," said Aeryn.  "She comes back, only to have to leave
again.  I'll miss her."

"We all will," said McGregor.  "Now, there are three things that I have
been instructed to do by the ISA and Earth Gov.  First, a special task
force will be put together to perform clean up duty, rounding up all of
the remaining Peacekeeper forces and disarming them.  Any Peacekeeper
military assets that sided with us in the war will be excluded from
this process, but will instead be asked to take part in disarming their
former comrades.  Fleet Captain Atrios, I am putting you in charge of
the clean up operation."

"Yes, sir," said Atrios.

"Second," continued McGregor, "an interim Sebacean government is to be
set up to establish order, aid in the composition of a Sebacean
constitutional government, and to set up the processes for free
elections.  A part of this new governments responsibility will be to
create a Sebacean military from the ashes of the Peacekeeper military,
but one that will answer to a civilian authority and will adhere to
certain restrictions.  In following these instructions, and on my
authority as military governor, I am appointing Admiral Karsten Polise
as the head of the interim government.  After free elections are held
for whatever leaders are called for in the new constitution, Polise
will surrender power to them.  Admiral, if you wish to run for election
to some government post, that is fine, or if you wish to put yourself
forward for a command in the new Sebacean military, that's up to the
new government."

"How long will the occupation government be in place?" asked Polise.

"As long as deemed necessary," replied McGregor.  "If it is still in
place after elections are held, the Sebacean government will still have
to answer to the occupation government."

"I see," said Polise, not exactly please with that arrangement.

"Admiral, I wouldn't worry," said McGregor.  "Earth Gov or the ISA are
not going to want to maintain an government of occupation this far away
from our home territory indefinitely.  Besides, our goal is to allow
for the creation of a free Sebacean government controlled by a
democratically elected civilian authority.  Hopefully, this government
in the future will apply for membership in the ISA."

"General," said Hancock.  "What about our other allies who are non-ISA
members?  Have any of them applied for admission to the ISA yet?"

"The Hynerians have, yes," said McGregor.  "The other governments are
still in discussions."

"Sir," said John.  "You mentioned a third measure the big boys want you
to put in place."

"Yes," said McGregor.  "This one is going to be a little more sensitive
than the rest.  The various governments who fought the Peacekeepers all
want some sort of justice or revenge for the brutal acts committed by
the Peacekeepers.  The problem has been in finding a compromise between
many different viewpoints on this.  What we've decided to do is set up
the investigative and legal processes for the establishment of a War
Crimes tribunal.  This tribunal will conduct trials of various
Peacekeeper leaders who committed various crimes according to a set of
standards that will be established.  I don't have the details yet, that
still all has to be worked out by me and by the various allied
governments.  We will start with the members of High Command and
certain other members of Peacekeeper Special Directorate and Special
Operations.  Now, those officers that fought on our side during the war
will be granted immunity from prosecution.  That one was a little hard
for some of the other worlds to swallow, but they have grudgingly
accepted it."

"So," said John, "we start with Jol and the other members of the
council.  That would include...."

"Yes," said McGregor.  "Scorpius will be one of the first on the
docket.  John, your testimony, and Aeryn's, will be invaluable in his

"Oh, this is gonna be good," said John.  "I can't wait to see that
cadaverous son of a bitch face the music."

"Sir," said Polise.  "What about Jol?  Let me have him, and you won't
have to worry about a trial."

"Absolutely not," said McGregor.  "Look, that was the way the
Peacekeepers did things.  He will be granted a trial, like all the
others.  But, believe me, the acts of torture and rape he committed
against you will be on the list of charges against him.  Any help you
can provide in terms of testimony, or in finding more evidence of his
guilt in the commission of other crimes, will be very helpful."

"Very well," said Polise reluctantly.  "I will do anything necessary to
bury that bastard."

"That's all for now," said McGregor.  "You are all dismissed."

In one of many dark cells in what used to be a Peacekeeper prison
complex, Admiral Scorpius, former member of the High Command council,
sat and stared at the walls.  He had first been imprisoned by his
fellow members of the High Command council, and now he was being held
by the ISA allied occupation government.  Down the hallway stood a
Human guard, who Scorpius had tried to talk to, but got very little in
the way of response.  Earth Force troops had been put in charge of
guarding prisoners, and Scorpius had found most of the one's he had
seen to be unimpressive in terms of conversation.

The door to the cell block opened, and three sets of footsteps began to
echo down the hallway.  Scorpius was the only prisoner on this cell
block, so he knew that someone was coming to see him.  In a few
moments, the door to his cell opened.  The voice of the Earth Force
guard spoke to Scorpius.

"Stay away from the door, make no sudden movements," said the voice.

Two men stepped into the room in Earth Force uniforms.  One of them,
Scorpius did not recognize offhand, but the other he recognized

"Ah, hello, John!" said Scorpius with seeming enthusiasm.  "I've been
wondering when you'd get around to see me."

John smiled at his greatest enemy.  "Scorpy, its not exactly good to
see you again, but it is SO GOOD to see you in this dark cell.  It
seems we have come full circle."  He said that last part with a slight

"I do see the irony, John," said Scorpius.  "And who is this other man
you have brought to see me."

"Scorpius," said John, "I'd like you to meet the man that kicked your
ass to the curb at Delcrion.  General Robert McGregor, this is

"So you are General McGregor," said Scorpius.  "Well, well, not nearly
as impressive as I thought you would be in person."

"The honors all yours, I'm sure," said McGregor.  "When Captain
Crichton said he was coming to see you, I had to take this opportunity
to meet you.   But, I'll leave you two alone now.  I'm sure that you
two have A LOT to catch up on.  I'll be waiting down the hall."

"Thank you, sir," said Crichton.

"Come back and see me sometime," said Scorpius.

"Not until you've had a breath mint," said McGregor as he left the
cell.  Now, Crichton and Scorpius were alone in the cell.

"You don't know how long I've waited for this moment," said John.

"This moment?" asked Scorpius.

"Yes," said John.  "To see you brought to justice.  I would have loved
to kill you myself as an act of justice, but then...I would be no
better than you are."

"John, nothing I ever did to you was personal," said Scorpius.  "It was
all done for the sake of Peacekeeper security and for scientific

"Thank you, Dr. Mengela," said John.  "But, I don't think that is going
to fly with the War Crimes tribunal.  I'm going to love testifying
about everything you did to me, to Aeryn, to my friends and family.
Everything is going to come out.  About you using beings to test your
damn Aurora Chair, about that chip you put in my head, about how you
massacred thousands of Banics just to get at Jothee to use him to get
to me, everything up to and including actions your forces took in the
invasion of the Earth Alliance.  The massacre at Drathnor for

"I did not sanction that action, John," said Scorpius.

"Those who did were under your command," said John.  "That's puts the
responsibility for it in YOUR lap!  And you will answer for that and
for all of the other evil you have done!"

"Don't be so sure, John," said Scorpius.  "You know better than anyone
that I am not that easy to destroy."

"We'll see," said John.  "For now, all I have to say to you is that I
hope you rot in hell, you son of a bitch!"

He then turned and walked out of the cell, the door closing behind him
after he stepped out of the cell.  Scorpius was again left alone in the
dark, to contemplate his future and what he could do to avoid it.

Chapter 20:  The Demands of Politics

General McGregor waited on the landing pad at the space port of the
Sebacean capital city.  Joining him were John, Aeryn, and Jack
Crichton, and all four of them were waiting for loved ones who would be
arriving on an incoming shuttle.  Robert was waiting for his wife,
Jenavia, and his two children, Elisa and Michael, and the Crichtons
were waiting for Elana, Jack's wife, and his baby daughter, Aeryn.  It
had been so long since any of them had seen their families, and they
were anxious for the shuttle to arrive.

It had been three months since the war ended.  In that time, General
McGregor's tenure as Military Governor of Sebacean Occupied Territories
(a mouthful of a title according to the General) had seen tremendous
success.  The soldier had proven to be an adept government organizer,
thanks to assistance from General Hancock, his Chief of Staff, and the
Crichtons.  Admiral Polise had also been extremely helpful in
cooperating with McGregor's occupation government in setting up a new
Sebacean Constitution.  If all went well, the Sebaceans might be
holding free elections within a year for members of a new Sebacean
Senate, and after that a President.  At the same time, now Admiral Jani
Atrios and her detachment of Sebacean and Human troops had done a
superb job in securing Peacekeeper bases and warships, disarming
Peacekeeper troops and ships, and processing and cataloging the weapons
they confiscated or disarmed.  McGregor had recommended her for an ISA
commendation for her service.

At the same time, the War Crimes Tribunal had begun trying several
Peacekeeper war criminals about a month ago for various crimes.  The
ones on trial were the former members of the High Command Council
(including Admirals Jol and Scorpius), the head of the Peacekeeper
Special Directorate and several other directorate chief operatives, and
several commanders of the Peacekeeper Special Operations.  The crimes
listed on the docket for all of the defendants included such charges as
murder, genocide, rape, torture, and other various offenses categorized
under the heading of Crimes Against Sentient Life.  Other crimes they
were charged with included various crimes of aggression and breaches of
certain diplomatic protocols.  

The defendants were being tried by a tribunal of military officers and
civilian officials.  Included on the panel were one Human, one Minbari,
one Hynerian, one Trallan, and one Sebacean.  The other races declined
the right to have representatives on the tribunal.  The defendants were
being prosecuted by a team of mainly Human prosecutors, while the
defendants were allowed to choose whatever representation they saw fit.
Several of them hired very skilled Human litigators to argue their

But all of the fancy lawyers they could hire could not save them from
the nails being hammered on their coffin.  Testimony so far has been
heard from those who have been imprisoned and tortured by the
Peacekeepers, witnesses to acts of murder, rape, and genocide taken by
the Peacekeepers, and various other witnesses to the Peacekeeper policy
of aggression towards other races.  Included on the witness rolls was
Admiral Karsten Polise, who gave searing testimony about her treatment
at Admiral Jol's hands, and about other crimes he took part in as a
Peacekeeper officer.  If convicted, these former Peacekeepers faced
sentences ranging from life imprisonment to the death penalty (a
concession made on the death penalty by the Humans and Minbari when
they were overruled by a vote of the other allied races).

Now, McGregor and the Crichtons had reached the moment they had been
waiting for.  The shuttle from the Earth Alliance transport that had
brought their families touched down on the landing pad, and within a
few moments, the shuttle's passengers began exiting the craft.  The
first to exit was Elana and baby Aeryn, and Jack rushed up to them to
take them both into his arms.  The little family began to shed tears of
joy at being reunited, soon joined by John and Aeryn.  A joyful family
reunion, soon joined by another when Jenavia, Elisa, and Michael exited
the shuttle.  Elisa was the first to run to her father, calling out
"Daddy!" as she ran.  Robert took his remaining living daughter into
his arms, and held her close, as a tear ran down his right cheek.
Michael soon joined Elisa in the hug.  Finally, Jenavia walked up and
was taken by Robert into his arms into a passionate kiss.

"Mmm," said Jenavia.  "I've waited so long for that kiss."

"Me too," said Robert.  "I'm glad you're here."  The McGregors and
Crichtons greeted each other, as a group of friends was reunited with
each other.   They began to leave the landing pad, when a man's voice
called out to them.

"Excuse me," said the man.  The two families turned to see a medium
sized man with dark hair and a full beard, wearing an expensive suit
come off of the shuttle.  He was followed by several others, the whole
group carrying briefcases.  McGregor immediately picked them out to be

"Can I help you?" asked McGregor.

"General McGregor," said the man, "my name is Jameson Leffler, Earth
Alliance Senate.  I've been sent to meet with you to discuss occupation
policies.  I'm here on the authority of the Senate and the President."

McGregor shook his hand.  "How do you do, Senator Leffler," he said.
"May I introduce Captains John and Aeryn Crichton, Lt. Jack Crichton."

"How do you do," said Leffler, as he shook each of their hands.  "Look,
General, I understand you want to spend some time with your family.  I
was wondering, if we could meet tomorrow morning."

"Of course," said McGregor.  "General Hancock, my Chief of Staff,  is
in the terminal.  I'll have him set up the meeting, and get you and
your party set up in appropriate quarters."

"Thank you, General," said Leffler. 

Later that evening at the large house being used by McGregor as living
quarters, after a big dinner party made up of both the Crichton and
McGregor families, as well as General Hancock and Admiral Atrios,
McGregor stood alone looking out the window at the cityscape of the
Sebacean capital.  He thought back to how the first time he had seen
this same cityscape was from the cockpit of a Thunderbolt Starfury in
that now famous raid he lead on the High Command headquarters.

It had been a joyful evening for everyone concerned.  Jenavia had been
reunited with her old friend, Jani Atrios, for the first time in twenty
cycles.  They spent a lot of the evening talking together and catching
up.  Jena talked to her about being married to Robert, and about
raising three children, and Jani told her old friend about her romance
with Jim Hancock.  They sort of compared notes on their Human lovers,
much to the chagrin of Robert and Jim.  Meanwhile, John and Aeryn cooed
over their granddaughter, a pretty little baby girl who was nearly a
year old now.  Jack and Elana were off in a corner alone together,
holding each other and talking softly while Grandma and Grandpa baby
sat for them.

But now, everyone had gone to their respective quarters, and Robert was
left alone in the room.  He was not alone for long as Jenavia came into
the room in a silk night gown, and wrapped her arms around Robert from
behind him.

"Why aren't you in my bed?" she asked.  "Its been almost six months,
you know.  I thought you would be more enthusiastic."

"I'm sorry, dear," said Robert, turning to take Jena into his arms.  "I
was just wondering about...about why that Senator is here."

"Robert," said Jena.  "I count myself a good judge of character, and
politicians.  I've had enough experience with them.  Be careful.  I
don't trust him."

"I will," said Robert.  "So, how does it feel to be back on Sebacea?"

"Weird," she said.  "Last time I was here was when I received my
assignment to the Royal Planet from the directorate.  Now, twenty
cycles later, I'm back as the wife of the military governor of an
occupation government."

"I see what you mean by weird," said Robert.  "I...I almost called you
to tell you not to come."

"WHAT?!" asked Jena in shock.  "Why?  Aren't you happy I came?"

"Of course I am, Jena," he replied, kissing her on the lips.
"But...I've been getting some...death threats."

Jena pulled back in alarm.  "Death threats!  From whom?"

"Peacekeeper loyalists," said Robert.  "There are still some out there,
you know.  They see me as a symbol of the alien occupation of their
world, plus there are quite a few Peacekeepers who are pissed at me for
what I did in the aftermath of Drathnor.  In some of these threatening
messages, they address me as 'the Butcher McGregor' or 'Sword of

"And you take them seriously?" asked Jena.

"I always take a death threat seriously," said Robert.  "But I refuse
to let it scare me into hiding myself.  Jim's been having kittens over
it, but...but it did make me worry about bringing you and the children

"Our place is with you, my love," said Jena.  "Where you stand, we

Robert smiled at his beautiful wife.  "I love you," he said.

"I love you, too," she replied. 

They kissed, and began to become enraptured in each other.  Robert then
picked up Jena, sweeping her into his arms.  "It has been...too long,"
said Robert, as he carried Jena to their bedroom.

The next morning, General McGregor greeted Senator Leffler in his
office at occupation headquarters.  He invited the Senator to sit down,
and offered him a cup of coffee which was gratefully accepted.

"Well, how were your accommodations?" asked McGregor.

"Oh, fine," said Leffler.  "I must say, the time difference takes some
getting used to."

"I know," said McGregor.  "I experienced the same thing, but I'm
probably more used to it.  Now, if we could get down to business."

"Of course," said Leffler.  "We've been reading your reports very
thoroughly back at Earth Dome about the progress of your occupation
government.  I must say, the President and the Senate have all had very
complimentary things to say about it.  But, at the same time, there are
also some concerns."

"Concerns?" asked McGregor.  "That doesn't sound good.  What are they?"

"Oh, don't get me wrong, General," said Leffler.  "We are very pleased
with your tenure as military governor to date.  But, there are just a
few things Earth Gov wanted me to discuss with you, to let you know of
what we see might be potential problems."

"Fire away," said McGregor.

"First, um...Admiral Polise, yes, that's her name.  You appointed her
as the head of the interim government," said Leffler.

"Yes, that's correct," said McGregor.  "And I couldn't have asked for a
better partner in what we are trying to accomplish here."

"Yes, well, she has performed...adequately..." began Leffler.

"Try superbly," said McGregor.

"Never the less," said Leffler.  "She is a formed Peacekeeper officer,
and a former member of the High Command council.  Yes, she played a
great part in helping us to win the war, but her background still marks
her as possibly less than ideal to be our go between with the Sebaceans
in establishing the new government here.  And Polise is not the only
former Peacekeeper you have appointed to high level positions.  This
Jani Atrios, and an officer named Meltra."

"All of whom have performed very well," said McGregor in their defense.

"But they are still former Peacekeepers," said Leffler.  "Look, your
appointments have proven to be satisfactory, but we would like you to
stray away from using former Peacekeepers so much in the transition

"But most of the people who can keep the trains running are former
Peacekeepers," said McGregor.  

"Try to find some alternatives," said Leffler.  "In the meantime, Earth
Gov will be sending specialists to help in certain areas so former
Peacekeepers won't be needed as much to administer certain civil

"I assumer I have final approval over their appointments," said

"Of course," said Leffler.  "Now, on to another matter.  Earth Gov has
been flooded with complaints from Alliance business leaders that say
that you are heavily restricting the access of Earth industries to the
Sebacean marketplace."

"Not entirely," said McGregor.  "We have been encouraging certain
industries to invest here, hopefully to inspire a more free marketed
economy.  But, there have to be some restrictions, otherwise Sebacean
resources and markets might be exploited by Earth business interests
who have an unfair advantage."

"Now, you see, the term exploited is not really applicable here," said
Leffler.  "These businesses want to make a profit, of course, but it
will help the Sebacean economy for them to be allowed to come here.
After all, if we are to believe in the principles of a free enterprise
marketplace, we must allow a much less restrictive market access.  Now,
we understand you are a soldier, and perhaps you have less of
an...understanding, of such matters.  That's why all Earth business
access will be approved by Earth Gov from now on, and any ones that are
must be allowed access by your occupation government.  Understood?"

McGregor was hesitating from answering so he could keep his anger down.
This smarmy politician and his politician pals back home were probably
paid off to get the access to the Sebacean market.  McGregor had
objected to many business interests gaining access for legitimate
concerns, and he reported them to Earth Dome.  But now, dollars were
overruling his objections, and McGregor could only comply.

"I...understand," said McGregor with feigned politeness.  Then he
thought to himself, "You bet I understand, you slimy little bastard."

"Now, there are several other matters we must discuss," said Leffler.

For an hour, McGregor listened to the "concerns" held by Earth Gov
about the way he was running the occupation.  When the meeting was
over, and Leffler again complemented McGregor on his handling of the
situation, the Senator left the General alone in his office.  Hancock
came in shortly after and found McGregor in a bad mood.

"Well," said Hancock.  "I see that little love fest went well."

"Oh, don't get me started," said McGregor.  "Dammit, Jim, everything we
have been building here, its...its been a good thing.  But now, Earth
Gov has made some 'concerns' known to me, and if I acted on them, they
might mean a severe hindrance to our goals."

"But why would they have made these objections, Robert?" asked Hancock.

"Because, Jim," said McGregor.  "They are politicians.  That means
sometimes you might find a brilliant public servant, but more often
than not you find someone willing to sacrifice things for political
expediency, or for monetary support, or just because they are totally
ignorant of what's at stake.  I am as much a believer in the democratic
process as anyone, but...but its just too bad we have to elect
politicians to public office."

"So what are we going to do?" asked Hancock.

"Well, I am going to run things like I have been running them," said
McGregor.  "Another thing about politics is there is always some angle
to work, if you know where to look.  We are going to work those angles,
get around these 'concerns' Earth Gov has.  We have a goal, Jim.  And
we're going to get there as long as I am in command of this

Chapter 21:  A Secret Revealed

A week after his initial meeting with Senator Leffler, Robert McGregor
was putting on his full dress uniform in his bedroom at the house he
was staying in with his family.  He had been summoned to appear before
the War Crimes tribunal as a witness to testify about the events in the
Drathnor Massacre.  McGregor was nervous about his appearance because
it would mean having to publicly discuss the events that led to his
daughters death.  The death of Katie McGregor had permanently changed
Robert, causing him to loose much of his idealism about things.

He heard a knock on his bedroom door.  "Come in," said Robert.

The door opened, and Michael McGregor, Robert's 14 year old son,
entered.  Michael was a handsome young teenager, brown hair and tan
complexion.  Robert has always thought he has the look of his Mother in
his smile and his eyes.  But Jena often commented that Michael had his
Father's physique, presence, and charm.  "Hey, Dad.  Is it alright if I
come in?" he said.

"Of course it is, my boy," replied Robert.  "I know we haven't had
much...father and son time since you got here, but unfortunately my
responsibilities are many and time consuming."

"Its okay, Dad," said Michael.  "I've gotten used to it."

Robert turned from checking his uniform to look at his son.  "What do
you mean you've gotten used to it?"

"You're a soldier, Dad," said Michael.  "You've...been away, a lot,
over the years.  In the field, or off to some battle somewhere, or some
crisis.  I've just gotten used to you...not being available all the

"Michael," said Robert.  "Believe me, I've...I've always hated being
away from you and your sisters and your Mother.  I had planned
retired now, and be more...available.  But life and circumstances kind
of ignored my plans.  I hope...I hope you can understand that."

"I do," said Michael.  "I've missed you whenever you were gone, but I
always loved getting your letters and hearing about all the things you
were doing.  Hey, it was pretty cool for a kid to have a General for a

Robert gave Michael a long look.  "You're not much of a kid anymore,"
said Robert.  "You have...grown up, so much.  You're becoming a man.
I'm just sorry I missed so much of that."

"Dad," said Michael.  "I've never really said anything, but...I wanted
you to know this now.  I guess this stuff about you testifying before
the tribunal about Katie got me thinking about....all the stuff I never
said to her.  Like you said, life sometimes messes with our plans.
But, I wanted you to know, Dad, that...I love you.  And I have always
been...proud, very proud, to be your son."

A tear fell along Robert's left cheek.  He walked over to his son, and
put his hands on his son's arms.  "Michael," he said.  "I'm the one who
is proud of you."  Father and son embraced each other.
Robert whispered into his son's ear.  "I love you, my son."

The War Crimes tribunal was being held in a building in which the
Peacekeepers used to try and sentence political prisoners.  It had the
facilities necessary to conduct the public trials of the Peacekeeper
war criminals, and it would also serve as a symbol of bringing justice
to those who enacted the injustices of the Peacekeeper regime.  Now a
month old, the trials were still in the prosecution stage, and pretty
damning evidence had been presented to prove Peacekeeper guilt.

Robert McGregor was waiting outside the courtroom for his name to be
called to testify.  John Crichton was finishing up his two day
testimony and cross examination about crimes he had witnessed being
committed by Scorpius, and by the Peacekeepers in general.  Crichton
apparently finished testifying, because a guard came and told McGregor
to step in.

McGregor stepped into the courtroom as John was taking a seat in the
audience next to Aeryn.  The two men nodded at one another as Robert's
name was called.

"The prosecution calls General Robert McGregor to the stand," said the
senior prosecutor, George Dawson, an Earth Alliance ombuds judge who
had been selected by the President to lead the prosecution of the
Peacekeeper leadership.

The General stepped forward and stood in front of the witness chair.
He looked up and saw a group of 10 Peacekeeper officers sitting in two
rows, the defendants on trial.  Among them were Jol and Scorpius.
Scorpius had a blank expression on his face, while Jol looked like he
barely knew where he was.

A court officer came forward and told McGregor to raise his right hand,
and take a oath to tell the truth on the stand.  When the oath was
finished, Robert sat down.

Chief Prosecutor Dawson stood up.  "With the court's permission, I will
enter the defendant's name and file into the record."

"Permission granted," said the chief justice of the tribunal, and

"General Robert Harold McGregor," began Dawson, "General, Earth Force. 
Current assignment, Military Governor of the Sebacean Occupied
Territories.  Citations:  Earth Force Medal of Valor twice awarded (he
had received his second Medal of Valor just recently for his actions in
the McGregor Raid), Legion of Merit, Distinguished Service Medal four
times awarded, Distinguished Flying Cross three times awarded, Star
Legion Medal for courage under fire six times awarded, Distinguished
Conduct Medal eight times awarded...."

"Distinguished tribunal," broke in the lead defense council, a Human
litigator name Joseph Rinders.  "The defense will stipulate to the
remaining citations on file for this witness, in the interest of saving
this tribunal's time."

"Stipulation accepted," said the Minbari justice.  "Prosecutor Dawson,
proceed with your examination of the witness."

"Thank you, chief justice," said Dawson.  He turned to McGregor.
"General McGregor, what position in Earth Force did you hold when the
Peacekeepers invaded the Earth Alliance?"

"I was the outgoing Chairman of the Earth Force Joint Chiefs of Staff,"
replied McGregor.  "I had just turned over the position to my successor
when word of the invasion reached Earth Dome."

"And what position were you appointed to at that time?" asked Dawson.

"Commander of the Earth Force fleet sent to confront the Peacekeeper
fleet," said McGregor.

"Now, please tell us about the circumstances that led you to come to
the planet Drathnor not long after the massacre that occurred there,"
said Dawson.

"Distinguished tribunal," broke in Rinders.  "I renew my objection to
the use of the word massacre in reference to the action at Drathnor."

"We have been over this point," stated the chief justice.  "Your
objection is again overruled.  General, you may answer the question."

"I was informed that my daughter, one of the Ranger trainees at
Drathnor, had been seriously wounded in an action there," said
McGregor.  "On my own authority, I handed over temporary command of the
Earth Force fleet to General Kemal, and proceeded there on the EAS

"What did you find there?" asked Dawson.

"My daughter, Katie, had been mortally wounded," said McGregor.
"She...she died in my arms."

"While at Drathnor, did you witness any evidence of Peacekeeper
atrocities committed there?" asked Dawson.

"Yes, I did," said McGregor.  "I saw approximately fifty Ranger
corpses, lined up in a row and bound by their hands from behind.  They
had been shot execution style with Peacekeeper pulse rifles.  I also
saw...I also saw in a room near the courtyard where those corpses were
found a number of female Human corpses.  They were...stripped naked,
and had all been shot in the head."

"What did you find out about the condition of those women's bodies?"
asked Dawson.

"They had been raped repeatedly by multiple assailants prior to their
execution," said McGregor.

"Distinguished tribunal," said Dawson. "Let the record show that these
statements by McGregor in regards to the conditions of the corpses of
the Human women found at Drathnor coincide with the medical evidence
submitted by the Minbari which demonstrated that these women had been
raped by Sebacean male assailants, and that the General's statements
also coincide with those made by Minbari Admiral Lakhat and others."

"The record will demonstrate this," said the chief justice.

Dawson then questioned McGregor on the stand about other Peacekeeper
actions he had been witnessed to evidence of during the ISA invasion of
Peacekeeper territory.  He was also asked about evidence uncovered by
his occupation government about Peacekeeper atrocities.  After about 45
minutes, Dawson stated that he had no further questions for McGregor.

Joseph Rinders, the chief defense council, stepped forward to cross
examine McGregor.  "General McGregor," he began,  "who was in command
of the Peacekeeper forces that led the raid at Drathnor?"

"They were under the command of Fleet Captain Yusanan," replied

"And Yusanan is now deceased, is that correct?" asked Rinders.

"Correct," said McGregor.

"How did that come about?" asked Rinders.

"A combined Minbari/Earth Force task force hunted down Yusanan's
carrier and destroyed it," said McGregor.

"Wasn't the Earth Force element of that task force made up solely of
the EAS Indefatigable, under your command?" asked Rinders.

"Correct," said McGregor.

"General, after the command carrier had been destroyed, where there any
survivors taken?" asked Rinders.

"Ten survivors were taken aboard my vessel," replied McGregor.

"Isn't it true that there would have been a lot more, had it not been
for the fact that your ship fired on and destroyed a number of unarmed
Peacekeeper escape pods?" asked Rinders.  "And isn't it true that you
personally pulled the trigger that destroyed those pods?"

"Distinguished tribunal," broke in Dawson, "I object.  General
McGregor's actions are not being tried here."

"Distinguished justices," said Rinders.  "We have been hearing
testimony in regards to the conduct of the Peacekeeper forces in
combat.  How could the conduct of the forces opposed to them in combat
not be at issue?"

"Objection overruled," said the chief justice.  "The witness will

"Yes," said McGregor.  "I destroyed those pods, using the
Indefatigable's cannons."

"General," said Rinders.  "What did you do with the prisoners when you
brought them aboard your ship?"

"Could you please specify," replied McGregor.

"Did you not personally order that the prisoners be subjected to an
illegal telepathic scan, and then did you not personally shoot one
prisoner in his testicles with a PPG pistol, General?" asked Rinders.

"I did," said McGregor.  "The scans revealed that the man in

"Distinguished tribunal," interrupted Rinders.  "What those scans
revealed is information gained by an illegal act, and therefore

"The tribunal concurs," said the chief justice.

"But that bastard was one of the one's that raped those women," said
McGregor with anger.  "I shot him to send a message to the

"The defendant will not speak unless asked a question," said the chief

"Thank you, chief justice," said Rinders.  "Tell me, General, would you
not consider your own actions in this matter to be considered
'atrocities', nay war crimes?"

"I would not," said McGregor.

"Hmm, so its okay for the Peacekeepers, but the great Robert McGregor
is excluded from justice," said Rinders.

"Objection," said Dawson.  "The defense council is badgering the

"Sustained," said the chief justice.  "Defense council will ask a
question or conclude his cross examination."

"Very well," said Rinders.  "General, let's talk about your experience
with Sebaceans and Peacekeepers.  Wasn't your first major contact with
the Sebaceans when you commanded an expedition to the Sebacean Royal

"Justices," broke in Dawson.  "How can this be relevant?"

"The General was questioned about his experience with the Peacekeepers
during the war," said Rinders.  "I think I should be able to extend
this examination of his experience to included all Sebaceans."

"It's a fine line you are treading, council," said the chief justice.
"But, we will overrule the objection.  Witness will answer."

"It was my first major personal contact with them, yes," said McGregor.
"Although I had met Aeryn Sun-Crichton several years before."

"In fact," said Rinders, "you had a very PERSONAL encounter with one
Sebacean in particular.  Jenavia Chatto.  I believe you married her,
did you not?"

"I did," said McGregor.

"What was her position in the Royal Court when you met her?" asked

"Distinguished justices," said Dawson.  "This is totally irrelevant."

"I tend to agree," began the chief justice, but was interrupted by the
Hynerian justice on the court.

"Chief justice, I overrule the objection," said the Hynerian.  Any one
justice could overrule an objection.  "I want to hear this."

"The objection is overruled," said the chief justice.  "Witness will

"Jenavia was a member of the court," said McGregor.  "The former fiancé
of the late Prince Clavor."  He was getting nervous about these
questions about Jenavia, and Robert was afraid this nervousness would

Rinders turned around and picked up a data chip from his desk.  He
approached a holo projector and put the chip in.  "Distinguished
tribunal, the defense enters this data chip taken from the files of the
Peacekeeper Special Directorate into evidence."  He activated the chip.
A holographic image of Jenavia appeared on the display, along with some
information in Sebacean.

"Distinguished tribunal," said Rinders.  "This chip shows that Jenavia
Chatto was in fact a Peacekeeper Special Directorate Disruptor, who was
assigned to the Royal Planet initially to assassinate Prince Clavor if
he assumed the throne."  The entire audience erupted into murmurs of
shock.  "She was later permanently posted there as a spy on the court's
activities.  General McGregor, did you know your wife was a former
Peacekeeper Disruptor?"

"Leave my wife out of this!" yelled McGregor.

"DID YOU KNOW!?" yelled Rinders.

"YES!" yelled McGregor.  "I knew!  But I kept quiet to protect her from
the Royal Planet's authorities.  The Empress would have had her
executed if she found out.  I love her, and I couldn't allow it!"

"And you did not tell your superiors in Earth Force either, did you?"
asked Rinders.

"I did not," replied McGregor.

"So, your pretty little wife, General, is one of these alleged
criminals that you have so vehemently condemned on this stand," said
Rinders, getting close to McGregor's face.  "How can we believe any
word you have said if you have been in fact bedding with Peacekeeper
for the past twenty years?  How can we be sure when you have
deliberately covered up your wife's past as a trelk who whored herself
for information?"

Enraged, McGregor grabbed Rinders by the scruff of his neck.  "LISTEN
HERE, YOU LITTLE SON OF A BITCH!" screamed McGregor over the murmurs of
the courtroom audience.  "I told you to leave my wife alone!"

"GENERAL!" yelled the chief justice.  "You will sit down, and release
the defense council, or I will hold you in contempt of this tribunal!"

John Crichton quickly ran up to the stand and put his hands on
McGregor's arms, trying to nudge him to release his death grip on
Rinders' throat.  "Robert," whispered John, "this isn't the way.  You
have to stop now, for Jena and for your family.  Now!"

McGregor released his grip on Rinders, who promptly stepped back away
from the General coughing slightly.  After a few moments, he turned to
the tribunal.  "Distinguished tribunal," he said, "I ask that Robert
McGregor's testimony be stricken from the record.  He has proven to be
an unreliable witness who's honesty can not be trusted."

"Justices," said Dawson.  "This is an obvious attempt to color these
proceedings by the defense council to distract the court with this
attempt to smear General McGregor.  I ask that the testimony regarding
Jenavia Chatto-McGregor be stricken, and that the rest be admitted into

The justices of the tribunal discussed it, and after a few moments
turned their attention back to the proceedings.  "This court rules,"
began the chief justice, "that a fundamental flaw has been shown in
General McGregor's reliability as a witness.  Therefore, only
statements made by the General that are corroborated directly by other
witnesses will be admitted.  The evidence in regards to Jenavia Chatto-
McGregor will also be admitted.  General McGregor is herby reprimanded
by this court for his conduct, and ordered to leave the courtroom."

General McGregor stood motionless for a moment.  He was absolutely
stunned by what had happened.  He had been publicly dishonored in front
of the tribunal, and in front of all of the people of Sebacea and the
ISA and allied worlds.  The proud officer could do nothing but
straighten his dress uniform, and allow himself to be led by Crichton
out of the courtroom as everyone stared at him as he left.

After leaving the tribunal, Robert went home and sat down in his living
room.  His uniform was unbuttoned, and he stared with a blank
expression into nothingness.  Jenavia came out of another room, and ran
straight over to her husband.

"Robert," said Jenavia.  "I...John just called me.  He told me what
happened....I'm...I'm so sorry." 

Robert looked up at her and reached his hands out to her.  She took his
hands, and he pulled her gently into his lap.  "Jena, honey,
I've...I've never felt so...humiliated before.  That little bastard had
the gall attack you, I just...snapped.  If John hadn't been
there, I might have killed him."

"This is all my fault," said Jena.  "If you hadn't been protecting me,
this never would have happened."

"I had to," said Robert.  "I had to protect you from the Empress, and
later Earth Gov.  If they had found out, you would have been arrested,
interrogated...I couldn't allow that.  And even now, after what's
happened, I don't regret my decision."  He looked into Jena's beautiful
eyes.  "I would die for you.  I love you more than anything.  You, my
wife, my lover, my friend, Mother of my children.  How could I not
protect you when..."

He was interrupted by a knock at the door.  Robert got up and went to
the door, and opened it.  Outside the door were General Hancock and an
Earth Force security officer and two guards.  "Robert," said Hancock.
"I tried to stop this, but the order came from Senator Leffler.  He..."

"General," said the security officer, a Chief Warrant Officer.  "I've
been ordered to take Jenavia Chatto-McGregor into custody."

"What!?" asked McGregor in anger.  "What the hell for!?"

"She is to be questioned by war crimes investigators," said the Chief. 
"Charges may follow that questioning."

McGregor turned to Hancock.  "You said Leffler did this, how?" asked

"Apparently the President and the Senate gave him certain powers to act
in such matters," said Hancock. 

"Sir," said the Chief.  "I have to take Mrs. McGregor into custody

"Like hell you are!" said McGregor.  

"Robert," said Hancock.  "This won't help her.  If you interfere, they
will arrest you.  Then, you won't be able to help Jena.  You have to
let them take her."

"Over my dead body," said McGregor.

"Robert," said Jena, who had come up behind him.  "Jim is right.  I
must go with them."

Robert turned around to face her.  "No," he said.  "You can't."

Jena put her hand on Robert's cheek.  "I must," she said.  "I won't let
you be imprisoned as well.  I must face the consequences of my past."
She kissed Robert.  "I love you."

Robert pulled her into a passionate embrace and kiss.  "I love you,
too," he said, after breaking the kiss.  He then turned to the Chief.
"If any harm comes to her, I will make you regret the day you were
born.  Do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir," said the Chief.  "I'll personally see to her safety."  The
Chief then came over and took Jena's arm.  He placed her hands behind
her back, and put hand cuffs on her.  As Robert helplessly looked on,
the Chief and guards led Jena away from the house to a waiting hover

"Robert," said Hancock.  "Leffler wants to see you in your office."

"Good," said McGregor.  "I want to see him, too.  Tell him I'll see him
there in an hour.  There is something I have to do before I see him."

Chapter 22:  The Fall

"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING!?" asked Senator Leffler of General
McGregor in the latter's office at occupation headquarters.  "Who the
hell do you think you are?  You marry a Peacekeeper agent, and then
bring her back to Earth with you, and you don't inform your superiors! 
Who the hell do you think you are, God!?"

"If you are finished with your little tirade," said McGregor.  

"Don't you address me in that fashion, McGregor!" yelled Leffler.

"IF YOU ARE QUITE FINISHED!" yelled McGregor.  "I want to know what you
want with my wife.  When will she be released?"

"Your so called wife is a Peacekeeper disruptor, an agent who has been
living on Earth for two decades," said Leffler.  "We need to know what
she has really been doing in that time.  Oh, she had a great set up.
Work her way into bed with an Earth Force Captain on a fast track
career, get him to marry her, and spy on Earth Gov while her husband is
totally unaware."

"That's bull shit, Leffler," said McGregor.  "Jena is not a Disruptor
anymore.  When she fell in love with me, to prove that she loved me,
she sent a message to the Special Directorate, telling them to kiss off
and that she was quitting.  As a result, a Directorate agent almost
killed her, and would have if it had not been for me popping in at the
right time."

"What you say may or may not be true," said Leffler.  "But,
nevertheless, she was an agent, and she has a VERY extensive file of
operations where she took part in various activities that might be
considered war crimes.  She will be held, questioned, and quite
possibly prosecuted."

"No she won't," said McGregor with a smile.  He picked up a couple of
pieces of paper from his desk.  "Before you came here, I did a little
digging into my powers as military governor.  One of those powers is
the power to grant blanket immunity from prosecution and pardons.
These two papers are grants of blanket immunity and pardon for Jenavia
Chatto-McGregor from any sort of prosecution or investigation, given
under my authority as military governor."

"You can't do that!" yelled Leffler.  "There is a clear conflict of

"I sure as hell CAN do that, and I have!" countered McGregor.  "You
see, there is no mention of conflicts of interest relating to marriage
in the statement of authority and powers given to me in my position.
And any attempt to insert them now by you or Earth Gov or the ISA would
not be retroactive under ISA and Earth Alliance regs.  I've just given
a copy of this order to General Hancock.  He is arranging for my wife's
release as we speak."

"McGregor," said Leffler with a sadistic smile.  "You have just ended
your career in Earth Force, and your tenure as military governor.
Criminal charges against you may also be pending.  I am going to
contact President Schroeder, and I am sure he will be ordering your
removal as soon as the word gets back from Earth."

"You can't remove me as military governor without the approval of
President Delenn and the ISA advisory council," said McGregor.  "I've
sent word to them stating my case of justification for my actions."

"They have no say in the decommissioning of an Earth Force officer,"
replied Leffler.  "And you can't serve as military governor if you are
not in the military.  Plus, President Delenn has been quite clear in
stating that Earth Gov has primary authority over the Sebacean
occupation.  Your career is history."

McGregor approached Leffler.  "You know something," said McGregor.  "I
was supposed to have retired two years ago before this whole thing
started.  So, I leave the service a couple of years later than planned.
But, there is one thing I have decided, and that is there is nothing
more important to me than my family, my wife and my children.  I will
not let you or Earth Gov destroy my wife or my family!  So as far as my
career being over goes, frankly, Leffler, I don't give a shit!"

"Better start packing your bags, General," said Leffler.  The Senator
then turned, and left McGregor in his office.  Not long after Leffler
left, John and Aeryn came into McGregor's office.

"Robert," said John.  "We just heard.  Is there anything we can do?"

"Its all been taken care of," replied McGregor.  "If all is going
according to plan, Jena has been released by now.  I cut an order
giving her blanket immunity and a full pardon."

John let out a whistle.  "That took balls," he said.

"Well, if anyone had the 'balls' to take on Earth Gov," added Aeryn.
"Its Robert.  Frell, he takes on whole Scarren and Peacekeeper battle
groups.  What's a bunch of drannit politicians?"

"Well, I won't being doing either anymore very soon," said McGregor.
"Leffler's sending word to Earth Dome.  As soon as he gets a reply, my
career is finished."

"Maybe they won't do that," said John.

"John, I abused my power for personal gain," said McGregor.  "I don't
regret it in anyway.  I would do anything to save my wife.  But, I did
it knowing it would most assuredly mean the end of my career."

Just then, General Hancock came into the room with Jenavia right behind
him.  She ran into Robert's waiting arms, and the couple embraced each
other tearfully.  "Thank God," said Robert. "Thank God you are ok."

"Robert, Jim told me what you did," said Jena.  "How could you...I
mean, it means the end of your career."

"I don't care about that," said Robert.  He cupped her face with his
right hand.  "I only care about you and our children.  I would have
done anything necessary to save you.  I love you."

"I love you," replied Jena.  They kissed briefly, before Robert turned
back to their audience.  

"John, Aeryn," said Robert.  "I was wondering if you would do me a
favor.  Take Jena back to our quarters, and stay with her."

"Sure," said John.

"Robert..."began Jena.

"I'll be along," said Robert.  "I need to do some things here.  Please,
go with John and Aeryn."

Scorpius sat alone in his cell after the dramatic events in court
today.  He actually found himself reveling in thinking about the great
General McGregor caught in such a great lie.  For the first time since
the trials began, he actually found himself smiling.

The door to his cell opened, and the guard (as always when the door
opened) told Scorpius to stay back and not make and sudden moves.  A
man stepped into the door wearing a Human style suit.

"Admiral Scorpius," said the man.  "My name is Jameson Leffler, Earth
Alliance Senate.  I have a proposition to make to you."

Three days later, General McGregor sat in his office working on
paperwork just like nothing had happened.  He was, for now, still the
military governor, and he would fulfill the duties of his job to the
best of his abilities until told otherwise.  A lifetime of being a
soldier allowed him the discipline of doing a job he knew that people
were trying to remove him from.  His only hope was President Delenn,
who might be able to stop his removal.  But, either way, the General
actually cared very little about whether he kept the job anymore.  In
fact, he would actually rather go home and do what he had planned to do
two years ago-retire and live out his remaining days with his wife and

A knock at the office door brought McGregor's attention away from his
paperwork.  "Come in," said McGregor.

General James Hancock stepped into the door with a solemn expression on
his face.  "Sir," said General Hancock.  "We've just received a message
from President Delenn.  She...apologizes, but she says that she can not
help you.  According to ISA regulations, she has no say about the
removal of an Earth Force military officer from his post, even if it is
an ISA posting."

"I see," said McGregor.  "Any word from Earth Dome?"

"No, not yet," said Hancock.  "We haven't received our daily messages
from Earth through the transfer points yet."

McGregor got up from his desk.  "Jim," said McGregor.  "Walk with me if
you will."

"Yes, sir," replied Hancock.

The two men left their offices and walked towards the main entrance to
occupation headquarters.  As they walked, McGregor spoke to Hancock.
"Jim, I think its time for me to relinquish the reigns.  I feel...I
actually feel relieved about the prospect of being removed from
command.  Only..."

"Only," said Hancock, "you don't like leaving a job unfinished."

"Yeah," said McGregor.  "That's the only part of this I regret.  I
wonder, I can only hope, that my replacement will continue the work we
have begun here.  I mean...the Sebaceans are a great people.  If given
the chance, and the freedom of a democratic government, they could join
the ISA someday and be a force for good."

"Well," said Hancock, "there is still hope.  President Delenn still has
approval authority over the appointment to military governor.  Ivanova
can advise her.  There are a lot of good men in Earth Force who could
do well as military governor.  Hell, you commanded just about all of
them as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.  You put them into high
positions.  In essence, the Earth Force that helped to win this war was
an Earth Force you and Ivanova before you built."

"I know," said McGregor.  "But, those politicians like Leffler are
still out there, and my successor will have to contend with them.  I've
taken certain measures to make sure things stay on track.  Polise and
Atrios both have authority authorized by me to continue with certain
plans, and I fixed it so this authority can't be removed by my
successor.  A few other things...I just, hope that its enough."

The two men stepped out of the front of occupation headquarters into
the fading light of late evening.  They headed towards the street,
continuing to talk, and completely unaware that they were being
watched.  As they got down to the street, a man stealthily made his way
closer to the two men, hiding in the shadows to keep from being noticed
by nearby guards.

Finally, when the man thought he was close enough, he came out of the
shadows with a pulse pistol raised in his hand.  He ran straight at the
two Generals, and screamed.  "BUTCHER MCGREGOR!"

McGregor and Hancock turned towards the screaming man, seeing the
raised pulse pistol pointed straight at them.  Hancock realized that
the man was going to shoot McGregor, and he screamed.  "NO!"

In a flash, Hancock jumped in front of McGregor just as the gunman
fired his pistol.  Hancock took the hit in the center of the chest, and
fell to the ground in a heap.  As he fell, McGregor was reacting by
drawing his PPG pistol.  For McGregor, everything was happening in slow
motion, as he fired a poorly aimed shot at the gunman.  He missed, and
the gunman fired again, this time hitting his mark when the pulse blast
struck McGregor on the right side of his chest.  McGregor fell to the
ground, as the sound of several PPG's being fired reached his ears.  He
could just see in slow motion the sight of five or six PPG blasts
striking the gunman, and knocking him off of his feet.

McGregor lay on the ground, and saw the guards crowd around him.  They
were screaming "General McGregor's been shot!", but the sound of their
voices was distorted by the slow motion perception the General now saw
the world in.  One of the guards with a look of rage on his face ran
over to the fallen gunman, leveled his PPG at the fallen assailant, and
began to fire repeated blast into the man's fallen form.

Robert looked over and saw Jim Hancock lying on the ground unconscious.
He felt himself scream Jim's name, but could not hear the sound.  The
last thing McGregor heard was the sound of someone screaming for a
medic as he passed into unconsciousness.

Chapter 23:  Saying Goodbye

He opened his eyes slowly, as though they had not been opened in a
year.  As he did so, he was nearly blinded by the even low light
shining wherever he was.  Slowly, the eyes came open, and Robert
McGregor took in his surroundings.  He was in what looked like a
hospital room.  There were instruments hooked up to him, monitoring his
vital signs, and pumping fluids into him.  He was sore, so sore, and
felt like he would never move again.

Robert then sensed a presence next to him, partially resting on his
torso.  He looked down and saw a mess of brown hair and the body of a
woman, her head resting on his chest.  Robert could not see her face,
but knew her presence anywhere.  It was Jenavia, his wife, the love of
his life.  She slept peacefully, and Robert hated to wake her up.  So
he just watched her sleep, listening to her breath just as he had done
quite often when he would lay beside her in bed.

He could not resist lifting his hand up to touch her beautiful hair.
But when he did so, Jenavia stirred, and opened her eyes.  She looked
up slowly and saw the smiling face of her husband looking back at her.

"What a...beautiful sight to wake up to," said McGregor slowly.

Jena inhaled sharply, and began to cry tears of joy.  She cupped his
cheeks in her hands, and screamed.  "Guard!" she yelled.  The door to
the room opened, and an Earth Force Marine looked into the room.  Jena
continued to speak. "Guard, get the Doctor.  Tell her he is awake."

"Yes, ma'm," said the guard, who closed the door to go and get the

"Thank God," said Jenavia.  "You're alright.  You're going to be

"Déjà vu, huh," said Robert.  

"What?" replied Jenavia.

"Remember, when you were...shot, and I slept by your bed," said Robert.
"I was so scared.  But...don't you be, darling.  I'll be fine.
How...long have I been here?"

"Three days," said Jenavia.  "I've been here, waiting..."

The Doctor came in at that moment.  A red haired woman in an Earth
Force Doctor's coat, she came over to Robert's bed and began to check
his vital signs.  "General McGregor," she said.  "I'm Doctor MacDonald.
Are you in any pain?"

"I feel, stiff, numb for the most part," replied Robert.

"That's the pain killers," said Dr. MacDonald.  "That, and the fact
you've been laid up for several days.  Do you remember what happened?"

"Yeah," said Robert.  "Jim and I were coming out of headquarters.  This
man...screamed, shot at Jim and I.  We were...hit."  Robert froze for a
moment, remembering that Jim Hancock had jumped in front of him when
the first shot was fired, and took the hit.  "Wait!  Jim, where is he? 
Is he alright?"

"You need to rest now, General," said MacDonald.

"Where is General Hancock?  Will someone answer me!" said Robert.

Jena took Robert's hand.  "Robert," she said.  "Jim...he didn't make
it.  He was dead at the scene, there was nothing that could have been

"Oh my God," said Robert in the midst of beginning to shed tears.
"Jesus, no.  DAMMIT!  That sob, he...he took that hit.  In the name of
God, why did he do it?"

"Robert," said Jena.  "Calm down.  You need to rest.  We can talk more
about it when you have rested."

Tears were streaming down Robert's face.  He was so tired and numb, so
he was not able to hold them back.  He had known Jim Hancock for over
twenty years, had seen him rise from a Lieutenant all the way up to the
flag ranks.  In that time, they had become good friends.  And now, Jim
Hancock was gone, dead because he gave his life to protect his.  Robert
McGregor was filled with an overwhelming sense of loss, and he wept
into Jena's arms.

Two days later, John and Aeryn Crichton came to see Robert McGregor in
his hospital room.  They were warmly greeted by both Robert and
Jenavia.  "Well," said John.  "If you wanted to get waited on hand and
foot, I could of thought of less drastic ways to do it."

Robert smiled slightly.  "Very funny," he said.

"I guess you know...about Hancock," said John.

"Yeah, I know," said Robert.

"I'm sorry," said Aeryn.  "We both are.  He was a good man, and a fine
officer.  And a good friend."

"He should be alive right now," said Robert.  "What a waist.  A
terrible waist."

"He saved your life," said Jenavia.

"He should not have had to," said Robert.  "Any idea about who the
gunman was?"

"A former Peacekeeper," said Aeryn.  "He was heard screaming 'Butcher
McGregor'.  That was the name the Peacekeepers gave to you after you
destroyed Yusanan's command carrier after the Drathnor Massacre."

"The investigators think the guy was out for revenge," said John.
"Blamed you for the Peacekeeper loss of the war, for what you did after
the Drathnor Massacre.  We'll never know for sure, probably.  He was
dead at the scene."

"A waist," said Robert.  "What a God awful waist of a good man like
Hancock, to die at the hands of a madman.  How is Atrios taking it?"

"Hard," said Jenavia.  " Aeryn and I, we never knew love
until we met someone special.  For Aeryn, it was John, for me its you,
and for Jani, it was Jim."

"To top off the tragedy," said John.  "We...went through Hancock's
possessions.  Among them was an engagement ring.  Looks like he was
going to ask Atrios to marry him."

"There's more you need to know," said Aeryn.  "Word has been received
from Earth.  You have...been officially relieved of your position as
military governor.  They know about what happened to you, and they send
their condolences.  President Schroeder has awarded Hancock the Medal
of Valor."

"Posthumously," said Robert.  "He should have gotten it when he was
alive, Lord knows he deserved it."

"But there is some good news," said John.  "Apparently, Schroeder
refused to press charges against you.  Earth Gov and the ISA have
recognized your grant of immunity for Jena.  You will be allowed to
retire with full honors.  He wanted you to know that...he was sorry he
couldn't keep you in your posting, but the Senate wouldn't allow it

"I know," said Robert.  "I knew my career was over the moment I signed
that grant of immunity.   Schroeder is a good man, he didn't have to
let me off that easily.  Any word on who is to replace me?"

"General Thomas Wilson," said Aeryn.  "Know him?"

"Wilson," said McGregor.  "Yeah, I do.  He was a Captain in the latter
part of the Drakh War.  Ivanova signed his promotion to General.  He
was a fleet commander when I was Chairman.  He's a good man, good
administrator.  He'll do alright, I think."

"Sir," said John.  "There is something else...I'm reluctant to tell
you, but....It has to do with Scorpius."

"What about him?" asked Robert.

"Leffler made a deal with him," said John.  "He turns over all the data
he has on wormholes, and assists in directing research.  In exchange,
he doesn't get the death penalty.  He gets life imprisonment in a
cushy, private facility."  Crichton let his anger show at the prospect
of seeing Scorpius not get the death penalty for what he did.

"Bastard," said Robert.  "I wish...I wish there was something I could
do about it, but..."

"I know," said John.  "I know.  At least he'll be locked up.  Maybe
spending life in confinement will make up for some of the pain he has
caused, but...dammit."

"Sir," said Aeryn.  "Arrangements are being made to get you off of
Sebacea and send you home.  You'll go on the Indefatigable.  You'll be
in command for the trip home."

"Well, at least we get a cruise out of this," said Robert, smiling at
Jenavia.  "Both our families will get a chance to spend some time

"Um, no," said John.  "Aeryn, Jack, Elana, the baby, and I...aren't
going with you.  We're going back to Moya.  She's arrived at Sebacea."

"And go where?" asked Robert.

"Anywhere we want," said John.  "Now that we won't have the
Peacekeepers to worry about.  Moya's our home, and we all decided to
stay with her."

"Well," said Robert.  "We part ways once again.  We're going to miss
you.  When do you leave?"

"Not until you do," said Aeryn.  "We'll leave the same day."

Three weeks later, Robert McGregor and his family, along with the
Crichtons, were riding in a hover car on their way to a shuttle landing
facility.  Both families were leaving Sebacea, and craft were waiting
on the landing pad to take them to their ships.  Earlier that day,
General McGregor had officially handed over the reigns of military
governor to his replacement, General Wilson.  It was a short, cordial
ceremony, and Wilson privately promised his predecessor to do his best.

When the two families got to the landing facility, they stepped out of
the hover car.  All of their baggage had already been transferred to
the Indefatigable and Moya, so now it was only for them to join their
ships and leave.  As they stepped into the landing facility, they were
greeted by two lines of people along each side of the walkway.  On one
side stood Earth Force troops, on the other side stood Sebacean troops.
Like silent sentinels, they stood at attention as the McGregors and
Crichtons walked in between them.

At the end of the line were Admirals Karsten Polise and Jani Atrios.
This was the first time Robert had seen Atrios since Hancock's funeral.
He was buried on Sebacea in an elaborate ceremony, with full honors to
acknowledge the man that he was and the good service he gave.

Robert walked up to Atrios.  "Jani, I hope...I hope you are going to be

"I will, sir," said Atrios.  "I...loved him so much.  But, I have a job
to do.  We still have a brave new world to create.  I need to be part
of that."  She turned to Jenavia.  "I'll come and visit you."

"You'd better," said Jena, as she and Atrios embraced.

Robert turned his attention to Polise.  "Admiral, I want to thank you
for being a good partner to work with in all of this."

"It is I who should thank you," said Polise.  "You helped to put us on
the right track.  I want you to know that I have the highest respect
for you.  You renewed my faith in what it means to be a soldier."

"The admiration is mutual," said Robert, as he shook Polise's hand.  

Admiral Polise then turned to John.  "I also want to thank you
for...helping me, get through the pain I suffered.  I don't know what I
would have done without you."

"Your welcome," said John.  "If you ever need to talk, just send for
me.  I'll be there."

"Aeryn," said Atrios.  "You are the best officer who has ever served
under me.  Are you sure you won't accept a Sebacean military

"I'm sure," said Aeryn.  "My path lies elsewhere, with my family.
Besides, I've had enough of saving the universe for a long time.  I
think I've earned a vacation."

They all said their final goodbyes to Polise and Atrios, before heading
for the landing pad.  Waiting for them was an Earth Force shuttle that
would take the McGregors to the Indefatigable, and one of Moya's
transport pods that would take the Crichtons to their ship.  The
members of both families embraced each other goodbye.

Robert McGregor and Jack Crichton shook hands.  "I'm going to miss my
backseater," said McGregor.

"It was an honor to fly with you, sir," said Jack.

Aeryn and Jenavia shook hands as well.  "Well, we've certainly seen a
lot of history together, haven't we?" said Jena.

"Yes," said Aeryn with a smile.  "I'm just glad we have become

The final goodbyes were said by Robert McGregor and John Crichton.  The
two men shook hands warmly.  "John," said Robert.  "Are you sure you
won't come back to Earth?"

"Naw," said John.  "I may have spent quite a bit of time there, and
even liked it, but...every time I see it, I think of who is not there. 
My Dad, my sisters, DK.  Moya is my home, and my family is there.  We
belong there."

"Well," said Robert.  "Don't be a stranger.  Good flag Captains are
hard to come by."

After the goodbyes were said, the two families boarded their respective
craft.  The two ships took off and headed into space, leaving the
planet Sebacea behind.  When both families were aboard their ships,
both the Indefatigable and Moya broke orbit and headed off into the
stars in different directions.  In a way, this was the end of a great
story, the story of two families that came together and had a part in
making history.  

Yet, this was not the end of another story, the story of the world that
they had a part in laying the foundations for.  A world that still
needed to be built.  A brave new world where Humans and Sebaceans would
come together and create a future that neither could have dreamed of
before.  It would not be an easy process, but more often than not, the
things that are worthwhile do not come easy.  This was a fact well
known by the Crichtons and McGregors, and would be learned by the
generations to come.

The End