Schanke Resurgens
Andrew C


"I... do not understand," said the beautiful woman sitting upon the
green grass, wildflowers in explosive profusion about her. He long
golden locks fell like a shimmering waterfall about her shoulders,
and her intense blue eyes sparkled like precious gems. She was
staring down at the image of a large, mottled grayish sphere,
surrounded by stars, that seemed to be afloat in the pool between them.

"Well," said the man sitting across from her, his dark hair
terminating in Elvis sideburns, "it was a bomb that did it, actually."

"That is what I do not understand," said the woman, looking up from
the pool. "What exactly is a...bomb?" She frowned, pronouncing the
unfamiliar word.

"A bomb is a device that explodes with great violence," he began,
and went on to explain. "And I was sitting there, next to Amanda and
our prisoner, when there was a huge ball of fire that burst through
from the front part of the plane where the pilots were. All the
lights went out, and then we started to fall."

"How horrid," said the woman. 

"It was, believe me," the other continued. "I looked out the window,
and saw the ground coming up. Believe me, I prayed. I held onto
Amanda, and we prayed like crazy. People were screaming, and the fire
was everywhere, burning our skin and our clothes. Then we hit, and
that was that." He shook his head, remembering. "Then I was here." He
looked up at the sky, then down at the pool, and the silver orb
within it.

"And your last thought, there?"

"My wife. Her name's Myra. And my daughter. What would happen to
them?" He was somber a moment. "But, hey, my partner took care of
everything. The funeral. My daughter's education. All of that. What a
guy, huh? Who would have thought, I mean with him being what he is,
and all."

"My brother has never stopped being the chivalrous knight," replied
the lady, with a smile. "Not even, really, in the darkest times. He
loved thee as a brother. The brother he lost so very young."

"I wish I'd appreciated him more, when I had the chance," the other
replied. "He..."

"He was saving you from the others," she interrupted, putting a hand
on his, and smiling again. "Your life was precious to him, and he
sought to protect you. As he did Natalie, by removing to Alpha."

"And I love him like he was my own brother." He looked up at her,
then back down at the image before them.

"Then we are family," she smiled. She rose, and turned her face
towards the City. "Fear not, Donald Schanke," she said, half-turning
to look once more upon him, and gesturing towards the silver orb in
the water. "We shall all be joined together again."

"I know. I just, well...miss him, is all. "He watched as Fleur left
him alone, then looked up at the ever-bright azure vault above. "God
bless you, Nicky old boy," he sighed. Then, looking yet again into
the pool, and running a finger across its surface: "God bless you and
Natalie, wherever that bouncing billiard ball of a Moon has taken you."

Chapter One

At a velocity which no instrument had ever been able to calculate
with certitude, Earth's former satellite continued to move through
the void, carrying with her the 258 people of Moonbase Alpha. A
little older, a good deal wiser in the ways of an often capricious
and bizarre universe, and stronger for their acquisition of various
technologies, Alpha was more of a home than ever, if such a word
could ever be applied to an airless rock, 2,160 miles across,
careening blindly through space.

But, in the face of repeated disappointments, the Alphans had shown
their strengths, and manifested the better angels of Human nature.
Pulling together, supporting one another, and keeping both their
sanity, as well as their cultural heritages intact.

Alpha's small theatre, not often used since Breakaway, was full
tonight, part of a "cultural exchange project" dreamed up by Helena
Koenig, nee Russell, Alpha's CMO, Victor Bergman, Alpha's
chief scientist, and Maya Verdeschi, late of the late planet Psychon.
In their travels, Alpha had managed to acquire some cosmic
stragglers, Maya being chief among them, and the only non-Human among
their number. Besides her were three Human castaways from a destroyed
civilization called "The Colonies". One of them, Athena, sat next to
her husband, Alan Carter, the other two, Greenbean and Brie, on their

Tonight had seen a moving recital by David Kano, Alpha's chief
computer engineer, of modern African poetry, his voice and elocution
leading one to wonder if perhaps he had missed his calling. Petrov,
Alpha's lead gunner, gave a reading of Aloyshya's Apple, an
old Russian story, in both languages as well as traditional Russian
dress, and even Commander Koenig, not normally one to grace a stage,
related some old Jewish stories, learned from his Rabbi father, about
life in the shtetl. Maya, who never forgot anything, had
transcribed over a dozen epic poems and plays from her now-extinct
culture into English, and recited, actually sang, one for the
assembled. Called Love Reborn, it told the story about two
young men, and how the unbreakable bonds friendship and love between
them led one to brave great dangers and dare fearsome deeds, to bring
his departed friend back from the Land of the Dead. Some were
actually in tears by the end.  

The Colonials, appreciative of the opportunity to learn and to
share, eagerly reciprocated. Athena, a warrior's daughter, told the
tale of a great warrior of her Colony, Caprica, early in the Thousand
Yahren War against the Cylon Alliance. Thick with parallelisms,
alliteration and archaisms, it was a form of storytelling much
revered on her homeworld, passed down from mother to daughter through
the generations. Greenbean and Brie, from the Colonies of Gemon and
Saggitara respectively, did comedy, a back and forth, rapid-fire send
up of their Cylon enemies, which reminded Helena of Hope and Crosby
in the old Road pictures. 

The evening was capped off by Drs. Nicholas and Natalie Barber,
arguably the two oddest residents of Moonbase Alpha. He was dressed
as a knight (the costume was fabricated from an irreparably damaged
spacesuit, and some sheet metal from the machine shop), she as the
buxom Lady of the Manor. With a ruffle and a flourish that was all
Nat, she was belting out The Wife Of Bath from Chaucer like an
old pro.

"So they lived ever after to the end.
In perfect bliss; and may Jesu Christ send
Us husbands meek and fresh in bed,
And grace to overbid them when we wed.
And-Jesu hear my prayer!- cut short the lives
Of those who won't be governed by their wives!"

Here, Nat produced a rolling pin, looked it over minutely, then up
at Nick, then back to the audience, all while managing to keep a
straight face.

"And all old, angry niggards of their pence,
God send them soon a pestilence!"

The audience roared, as all through this Nick had run the gamut of
expressions and postures, from drooling, to cringing. Greenbean,
being from the most patriarchal of the Colonies, looked befuddled, as
if the humor was passing him by. Maya, on the other hand, couldn't
help it, and fell off her chair, laughing.

"You are a natural," said Helena, as people filed out of the
theatre. "Theatrical family?"

"No, but I did do several plays in High School," replied the former
Crown Coroner for Toronto, Canada.


"Uh huh," replied Nat, cleaning off her makeup. "Antigone,
when I was sixteen. Arsenic and Old Lace was fun, too. She
laughed a moment, recalling her brother, Richard, done up as the
insane Johnny Brewster.

"Oh, but please," croaked a voice, and they both turned, to see
Nick, making a face at Nat. "We can't leave Mr. Spinardzo in the
rumble seat, Johnny!" She thwacked him with a towel, smiling sweetly. 

"Well, you're a natural, Nat. We should try some of the Classics,


"Antigone, and the rest of the Oedipos cycle.
Shakespeare, of course. Heck, Jeeves and Wooster would be a kick."
She plopped her own wig back in a box. "Now, when you guys are done,
I've got something important, make that very important for you
in Medical." 

"Oh?" asked Nick. "Did the last test...?"

"Uh huh. I think I've gotten a little deeper into..." She looked
both ways, making certain the coast was clear, and dropped her voice
sepulcherally, "the vampire bug."

"Really?' asked Natalie, all serious now. 

"Yeah. Meet me in the lab tonight, at 23:30, alright?"

"We'll be there, Helena" said Nick.

The Moon was just exiting the arm of a nebula, and Helena was
looking out the window in her office, watching as the last swirling
tendrils of gas parted before them. This time, fortunately, there had
been no planets lurking in the mist for them to crash into, and she
fell to admiring the colors that washed across the Alphan sky. It was
beautiful, in a way, and a painting began to take shape in her mind... 

She turned at the beeping of her commlock, and she opened of the
door greeting the Barbers. As always, she was struck by the seeming
placidity, the normalness, of these two members of her staff.
They were among the deadliest of predators, yet they looked

"Helena," said Nick. "Sorry we're late. Jackie's lesson ran over a
bit. What have you got?"

"Good news, I hope." She turned to the computer, and entered her
private code. Up came a graphic, an electronmicrograph of the
"vampire bug". It was smaller than the AIDS virus, yet in its own way
so much more hideous. Both vampires leaned close, studying the
screen, and the data scrolling up alongside. "Using some of the new
technologies we got from the Colonials, I tried a new approach to
trying to culture the bug."

"And?" asked Natalie, her voice betraying expectation.

"I managed to get it to replicate seven copies of itself before it
destructed. But, I got this." She switched images. There on the
screen was a series of amino acids. 

"You got more?" cried Nat, almost ecstatic. "More base pairs?"

"Yes," replied Helena, and she allowed herself a small smile of
triumph. "I managed to scan twenty-one base pairs, before the virus
went poof."

"These sequences are different from the additions it makes to the
DNA in the cell nucleus, Helena. All I ever got was five base pairs
from inside," said Natalie, looking at the screen.

"Yes. And now we have twenty-six. Hey, can Helena cook, or can't she?"

"How much closer does that put us to a cure?" asked Nick.

"That I don't know," said Helena, straightening up, and rubbing her
offended back. "Like most viruses, this thing has a lot more than
twenty-six sequences, and those aren't even in exact order, mine and
Nat's. But, it has never survived to be cultured for this long. We're
getting there."

"Come on, Nick," said Nat, noting his downcast face. "You've waited
800 years. What's a little more time, huh?"

"Yeah. Yeah, you're right, Nat." He looked up at Helena. "Anything

"Yes, in fact. I'm convinced that this virus is non-natural. First,
the way it takes over, then repairs tissues. The database it seems to
have, no, must have, on animal physiology in order to
accomplish that has to be immense. That can not be just a freak
of nature, Nick. Nat. And when you try to analyze it, it self-
destructs, as if to keep its secrets."

"A built-in fail-safe," said Nick. "Like the nuclear bombs the
superpowers had. If they ever fell into enemy hands..."

"Exactly. Wrong approach dismantling it, boom."

"Helena," asked Nat, scrolling through the base pairs again, "what
are these?" She pointed at a part of the display, showing the
chemical formulae.

"That's the second part that convinces me that it was engineered
purposely. Those molecules are unquestionably amino acids, Nat. You
can see the amino structure, here. They function as amino acids, but
they have never been observed or catalogued before." She rubbed her
back some more. "At least in any organism on Earth."

Chapter Two

The news from Helena of having extracted more data from the vampire
bug boosted the Barber's mood for a while. Armed with this, Nat
renewed her attacks on the virus, while Nick divided his time between
two projects, the first being the assisting of Doctor Mathias in the
assimilation and retraining of Moonbase Alpha's latest additions.

It had been just over two months since Nick, while working to bring
on-line Alpha's new zero-point power plant, had been transported into
Earth's past when a bizarre malfunction had opened a portal in the
fabric of space-time. He'd found himself, along with Jackie Crawford,
Alpha's sole pre-adolescent, in Medieval England, in 1066, on the eve
of the Battle of Hastings. They had at last, thanks to creative use
by Victor's staff of the transport chamber that had once rescued
Commander Koenig's party from the past, gotten home, barely surviving
the battle, and discovered that they had company. Aside from a number
of very bewildered farm animals that had escaped a burning barn along
with them...

...there were two Medieval Humans as well. One, a hulking Anglo-
Saxon warrior named (much to the amusement of some), Egbert, and his
charge, King Harold Godwinson, last ruler of Saxon Britain. Two of
the king's surviving warriors had been spiriting him away from the
battlefield after it had become clear that all was lost, another
having died in his place, when they had encountered Nick and Jackie
hiding in an abandoned barn, and two of them had been accidentally
transported to Alpha when Maya located them, and the portal was
reopened. Both men had been terribly wounded, dying, but the medical
staff of Alpha was not to be out done, and both men survived.

King Harold was slowly learning to walk again, and Egbert was
propelling him around, pushing his "marvelous cart". In their (to
them) spacious quarters, Nick was teaching them modern English, and
slowly bringing them up to speed on history, the use of some basic
modern devices, and the facts of where, and when, they were.
It had taken some considerable time to convince Harold that this
bizarre place was not, in fact, Hell. Having been surrounded by, and
then passed through roaring flames, only to find himself strapped to
a very strange bed, in great pain, covered in tubes and wires and
surrounded by baffling lights, sounds and smells did not quite fit
into his expected picture of the Hereafter. Ditto Egbert. Slowly,
they were being made to understand that this was neither the Infernal
Regions, nor some form of punishment. ("Can't be Hell," said Tony
Verdeschi. "Simmonds isn't here!") Egbert, seeing the endless ocean
of stars out the window (and being barely dissuaded from breaking it,
as well. After all, glass...!), and Alpha firmly rooted on the ground
("Hwær is se græs?" "Where is the grass?"), wondered
aloud if this were perhaps the Celestial Jerusalem.

"No," answered Nick, who had volunteered for the job, since he,
being from the Middle Ages himself, understood the mindset of kings
and nobles. He explained, as patiently as he could, that this was
not the England of 1066, nor the Celestial Abode of the
Blessed, but in actuality a city on the Moon. Harold seemed,
surprisingly, readier to accept this mind-reeling concept than his
warrior, who of the two men was the less talkative.

Of course he is, Nick, thought the vampire, helping the king
as he took some tentative steps. He's lost his whole world. In
both senses. What's there to say? 

Even so, the erstwhile knight and his king wanted to see all of this
"strange keep", and Commander Koenig reluctantly agreed. The hangar
bay, the records section, hydroponics, and especially the new
makeshift stockyards fascinated Harold. Predictably, thought
Nick. It's something familiar, something he can grasp. 

"He's a bright one, that's for sure," observed Victor Bergman to
Nick, in his lab. "Born into our time, he might well have been a

"Well, I'm amazed at how well they're adapting," replied Nick, now
at work on the second project. "I expected a nervous breakdown, at
the least, Victor. Massive culture shock."

"The Human mind is more robust than we often think," said Victor,
running tests on a circuit board. "After all, some of us can accept
the impossible." He cast Nicholas a knowing glance. "I suspect that
His Majesty is ultimately no different."

"They are learning modern English quite well, for sure," replied
Nick, plugging another board into place in a large chassis. A light
on it flashed green. "Ah. There."

"Good," said Victor, and plugged his own circuit board in next to
Nick's. A series of green lights went on. Victor clipped one wire of
his tester to the chassis, and probed the circuits with the other.
"Excellent, Nick. Voltage steady."

"I just hope there's enough buffer space, Victor," he replied.

"Oh I think there will be," said the old academic. "If we use the
same data compression methods that we used for the synthesizer, we
surely will. Of course, we'll start small." 

Victor and several of his staff were at present working on their
latest "breakthrough". The transport chamber was being modified once
again. The machinery they had encountered on Elna had shown that it
was possible, and Maya, along with Alpha's newly enhanced computer
had worked out the preliminary math. If this latest endeavor
succeeded, Alpha would soon have a functioning matter transport system.

Although a few asked why, the reasoning was clear. If someone were
trapped on the surface with air running out, or in a crashed Eagle,
this could make all the difference in the equation of survival. And,
when it came to exploring possible new homes, it might be possible to
set the Eagle's aside, saving precious time and fuel.

As he worked, Nick looked out the window, catching sight of some of
the remaining nebular gas. Many of the heavier compounds had actually
been retained by the Moon's gravity, creating a tenuous atmosphere,
clinging to a few low-lying places. While of scientific interest to
the chemical people, it brought to mind for Nick their time near the
mysterious planet dubbed Ariel, around whose sun it appeared the Moon
would go into orbit. Xenophobic in the extreme, the inhabitants, in
order to keep the Alphans away from their world, had given them an
incredible gift. Air! An oxygen and water rich atmosphere for the
Moon! Anything to keep the Alphan's from making a landing.

It had been difficult for Nick and Natalie, watching their friends
go out into the open air and sunshine, even getting up a volleyball
match, while they had to cower inside. Only come sunset could they
venture out under the stars together, enjoying the sounds of the
night. The wind, oh how he'd missed the wind!

But no-the Moon was not going into orbit around that sun, and
once beyond its warmth, the new atmosphere, and all its water, would
freeze down on them. Nick remembered the last photo taken from orbit.
Cyclonic cloud formations, storm fronts brewing, a few lakes forming,
even some tiny spots of green! All lost when the mysterious aliens
took the atmosphere back, rather than let it freeze. He had mourned,
Nat had actually cried, at the loss of what could have been a
liveable home, right here on a living Alpha. Another chance lost,
gone, robbed! And all due to the blindness of celestial

Nick shook his head, dismissing such lugubrious thoughts, and went
back to work. Soon, he told himself. Soon, they would be ready for
the first test.

"So," asked Natalie later, in their quarters, "how'd it go?" 

"Well," yawned Nick, tossing his jacket onto a chair, "the first
test on the buffer seems okay. It's merely an extension of the buffer
we developed for the blood synthesizer. More memory of course. A lot


"The Cylon memory banks stripped from the BaseShip. Huge memory
capacity, Nat. Just one of those has twenty times what our original X-
5 had."

"And Kano didn't scream in agony?" she asked, picking up his jacket,
and shaking her head. "Ouma didn't fall on his circuit tester in

"With several others already successfully integrated into Main
Computer as it is, we convinced them the universe wouldn't come to a
screeching halt if we used one," he smiled. Sitting down, he tossed
both shoes and socks off into the void somewhere, oblivious to Nat's
discomfiture. "Tomorrow, we begin tests on the new scanner array."

"What are you going to use?"

"Something small, at first. Inorganic. But hopefully, eventually..."

"Uh huh," she replied, dumping his clothes into his lap. "Living

The first test went exactly as planned. With a variety of alien
technologies integrated into the new device, a small sheet metal
screw was put under the scanner, and data flowed into the memory
bank. It was a slow process, taking almost a full minute, but in the
end, every conceivable detail of the tiny metal object was scanned
and stored. Perfectly. 

Then stage two-Put into the chamber, surrounded by humming coils,
the screw vanished. They ran checks, and more checks, and it was
there. Held in the buffer circuits. They then reversed the process.
There was a sharp glow in the center, a hum, then nothing. There on
the floor of the chamber sat the screw.

Over the next week, they kept on, as Alpha drifted into another lobe
of the vast, dense nebula. The stars slowly faded from view, and the
Moon was swathed in myriad colors of flowing gases, an atmosphere of
sorts. An atmosphere composed of hydrogen, ammonia, carbon dioxide,
water vapor, and numerous hydroxyls and radicals. "Total witch's
brew," muttered Helena, watching it blow across the surface.

"Moment of truth," said Victor, as a soybean was placed within the
scan field. As with the screw, its every detail went into memory, but
then they hit a glitch. They watched the seed dissolve in a wash of
light. When it returned...

It crumbled into dust.

"Glad I'm not a soybean," said Nat.

"Complete breakdown of the hydrogen bonds in the DNA," declared head
botanist Laura Adams. "It literally fell apart."

"Any clues on why?" asked Nick.

"Not yet. With the screw, all you had were atoms of iron and carbon
mostly. With an organic object, the chemistry is vastly more complex,
as you know."

And so it proved to be with other organic guinea pigs. A pea, a
microbe-filled jar of water, even a drop of blood on a glass slide.
All returned from their data-stream journey either badly damaged or

"There's got to be an answer," hrumphffed Natalie, pouring
over the test reports. "All of our other experiences with matter
transport have worked, Nick. Dione did it. And they obviously solved
the problem on Elna."

"I know. We've done it before, why not this time?"

It was Maya, naturally, who figured it out. The scanner was tuned
too far into the ultraviolet and higher parts of the spectrum, the
radiation inimical to living things. That, and being too intense
irreparably damaged any cells that came under it for more than a few
seconds. Run up to insure total penetration of the steel, it had
degraded the delicate biological bonds of living things.

"Like using hundreds of rads of gamma rays to x-ray a tooth," said
Victor. "Extraordinary that I didn't see it."

That corrected, the experiments went forward. This time, the soybean
lived to tell the tale, as did the pea and the microbes. Then,
gradually, they moved up the scale of complexity, experimenting with
ever-larger organisms, culminating in one of the recently acquired
chickens. For each increase in biological complexity, an increase in
scanner power was needed, requiring a deft touch on the controls. Too
much, and the organism came back sickly or dying. Too little, and
whole parts of cells were missing entirely, giving the same happy

When at last only Human experimentation remained, an idea began to
form in Nick's mind. By coupling another extra memory bank to the
buffer unit, the complete pattern of any object could be kept
permanently on file. Like the synthesizer...

"Natalie," he asked in the wee hours, unable to sleep. "Nat?"

"Mggmhhmmphffgmff?" said Nat, face down in the pillow.

"Nat, I have an idea. Wake up."


"Okay," sighed Nick, and rose. As he tossed on pants and a shirt, he
watched the bizarre colors of the nebula flash and roil outside their
window. He then went to Natalie's what-not shelf, rummaging through
things, at last finding what he was looking for. Then, scouring his
own few possessions from home, he found the rest.

"Nicholas?" asked Maya, trundling into the lab at about 0430, and
looking awful. 

"Hi, Maya," said Nick, eyes glued to the tunneling electron
microscope. "Can't sleep?"

"No," she sighed. "The babies are practicing to be security guards,
just like Tony." She grimaced, holding her side. "That, and I don't
think goat cheese agrees with me."

"It can be a bit rich, as I remember. It didn't set well with
Mother, either, as I recall." Unlike Fleur, he fleetingly thought.
His sister had had a cast iron stomach. Could have eaten old

"Perhaps one of your French dishes?"

"I don't cook," replied Nicholas.

"Oh yes. One forgets." She eased her plump, pear-shaped form onto a
lab stool. "So, what are you working on at this ungodly hour?"

"Scanning DNA patterns."

"Oh? What kind?"

"Human. Natalie's, in fact. Look." He put a picture up on a monitor.
"Here's her DNA, from a scan of her wisdom teeth."

"Her teeth?" asked the Psychon, surprised. Then she remembered.
Unlike her race, Humans outgrew and shed their infant teeth. Psychon
teeth on the other hand, once they come in, are for life, and there
is no equivalent to the so-called wisdom teeth. Nick explained how
some people kept their baby or wisdom teeth in a bottle or jar as a
keepsake. She looked at him as if he'd gone mad, shook her head, but
forbore comment on Human customs. 

"I scanned the cells inside the pulp chambers," Nick explained.
"It's a fairly reliable place to find uncontaminated DNA. Now
this..." he indicated the viewscreen, "is the DNA pattern from before."


"Before she was brought across. Now look here." He put another
graphic, side by side with the first. "See?"

"Yes, I see it. The extra sequences. And this is what makes her a

"We think so, Maya. As we go on, the sequences gradually become
longer. Here is mine." He put up yet another DNA image. Like Nat's,
his was altered in the same way on the same chromosomes, with the
exception of several anomalous base pairs on their respective sex
chromosomes. "And here's yet another. A control." The new display was
entirely clean, showing no sign of alteration.

"Whose is this?" she asked. "Or should I ask?"

"An old friend. A deceased one, from home." He reached across the
table, and handed her a partially burned piece of paper, heavily
bloodstained on one side.

"What is it?" she asked, of the charred document.

"Part of the extradition papers for a criminal." He explained Donald
Schanke's horrible death, while transporting a bombing suspect from
Toronto to Edmonton. Nick had found one remaining scrap amidst the
plane's wreckage, and had never been able to part with it.

"I'm sorry about your friend, Nick," said Maya, putting her hand on
his arm. She, no less than they, knew what agony it was to lose.

"Yeah. Thanks," said Nick with a nod, for a moment silent.

"So, why this?" she asked, indicating the bloodstained scrap. 

"No one else I could tap at this hour. Besides, the fewer that know
about Natalie and I..."

"Well yes, but I still don't see your plan."

"Just this. I've already run one preliminary test. I ran a
screwdriver through, then deliberately damaged the handle. I ran it
through again, only this time I dumped the new pattern, and
substituted the original pattern from the backup memory." He held up
the tool. It was undamaged. 

"Nick I...oh my."

"Yes. By creating a template of Natalie from her pre-vampire DNA,
and then running her through the system, and substituting patterns, I
might be able to..."

"To cure her," finished Maya, slowly. "Yes, Nick, this might work.
But what about you? There were no DNA scans in 1228."

"I don't know, Maya," he replied, a bit glumly. "We'll just have to
cross our bridges one at a time."

"When are you going to try it?"

"Not for a while. Even if Nat goes for it, we still have lots of
tests to run." He began deleting the vampire-altered patterns from
the machine. First his own, then Natalie's. No sense leaving needless

"Maya?" asked a voice. They turned, and saw Tony in the doorway.
Nick stopped what he was doing, and turned to the Security Chief. He
must be getting soft, he told himself. He hadn't even sensed Tony's
approach. For an instant, he had images of his Master, LaCroix,
berating him for such "slackness".

"Oh, Tony," said Maya, interrupted by a cavernous yawn, "I..."

"What's going on?" asked Tony, a glint of jealousy in his eyes.
Rather than fabricate something, Nick just locked eyes with the
Italian, and told him to go back to bed. In the morning, he would
remember not a thing.

Thank-you, said Maya, voicelessly with a wink, and escorted
Tony back to their quarters. Nick just smiled, and shut the equipment

Outside, the nebula flashed and roiled on.

Chapter Three

After two more days, and myriad more tests, Nick at last laid his
idea before Nat. She could be cured. She could become mortal, again.
She could live life as a normal woman once more.

She said no.

"No?" said Nick, taken aback. "Natalie, how can you say that?" His
face was aghast. "To be..."

"Separated?" she retorted, voice tight. "To grow old and die without
you, Nick? No bloody way."


"No buts, Sir Nicholas deBrabant. We get our cure together,
or we go on. Together." She looked him straight in the eye, arms
crossed in that defiant pose of hers. The look that had, in its time,
sewn caution even in LaCroix's heart. He looked to protest, but took
her in his arms instead and kissed her forehead. 

"What a woman," he said, smiling, and at once thought of Fleur, in
many ways so like Natalie. A woman's body, with a lion's
heart. "Alright, Nat. But I want you to promise me something."

"And that is?"

"If anything should happen to me..."


"No, please Nat. Hear me out. We're in danger, every day here on
Alpha. Things happen. If something should happen to me, I want
your promise that you'll go through the transporter, and return to

"But Nick..."

"Please, Nat," he insisted, following his request up with another
kiss. It was a long one, accompanied by the probing of hands, and the
dropping of fangs.

"N...Nick, we're on...on duty..."

"I know."

"We really...really shou..."

"Uh huh."

An hour or so later, lying side by side, each feeling the blood of
the other singing through their veins, Natalie languorously turned to
him, and slowly ran her fingers through his wild hair.


"What is it, Maya?" asked Commander Koenig, moving from his desk in
Command Center over to her station.

"A tiny change in our trajectory, Commander," replied the Psychon.
She ran a full diagnostic on her station, and then went to
concentrated scan. She nodded her head, absorbing the data. Alpha's
course had shifted by almost a quarter degree, and Maya had detected
a gravitational anomaly ahead. "If it weren't for our enhanced
sensors, we'd have missed it entirely," she proclaimed. "Even so, all
I can tell so far is that there is a gravity well ahead. How far or
how strong I can't quantify. The nebula is scattering most of our

"So you can't tell if it's a planet, an asteroid, or what."

"Not yet, Commander. We are still too far for any meaningful data at
this juncture."

"Okay, get me Alan." He turned, as Nick entered Command Center, with
a sheaf of reports for Koenig's perusal. What he got was an assignment.

"Alan is taking one of the newly modified Eagle's up to investigate
a gravitational anomaly ahead, Nick," said Koenig. "You're going


"Helena's off flight duty right now, and your name is at the top of
the roster." Pause "Dr. Barber. Report to Alan on launch pad two."

"Yes, sir," said Nick, and left. Normally, he'd have "whammied"
Koenig and gotten out of it. He disliked flying by machine, and
worked to minimize his ventures outside of Alpha, lest something
should happen to give his nature away. But regs were clear-people
from all departments had to pull Eagle time, and Nick was well below
requirements. Hopefully, it would turn out to be a dull trip, and he
could spend his time refining his calculations for the transport
system. Already, he had ideas that went beyond mere transportation.
Way beyond.

Back on Alpha in Victor's lab, Jim Haines, just coming on duty,
began firing up the transport device for the next round of experiments.

"So, how goes the research, Nick?" asked Carter, over the IC. Nick
was back in the passenger module, crunching numbers on the computer.
Ideas for applying the new technology were coming thick and fast, and
Nick was feeling like a little kid with a new toy to play with.

"Coming along great," replied Nick, running another equation through. 

"Well, the nebula is starting to thin out ahead. I'm gonna need the
computer soon." 

"Right," said Nick, saving his work. He switched his monitor to
forward view, and saw the swirling miasma of the nebula outside.
Moving up front, he scrunched in between Alan and his co-pilot,
Greenbean. Through the ports, the nebula looked like the proverbial
witch's brew, its colors swirling and boiling like a vision from
hell. "Anything, yet?"

"Hi, Nick," said Greenbean, late of the Battlestar Galactica.
"Yeah, we're coming up on something." 

"How far ahead?"

"About fifty micr...uh, about a half million miles." The former
Viper pilot made some adjustments to the Eagle's reconfigured
controls. "Shields are up, Alan."


Ahead, the nebula was visibly thinning out. The Eagle bucked
slightly, as if buffeted by a heavy crosswind. Which in fact it was.
The nebula was criss-crossed with severe currents, and the Eagle had
crossed one boasting hurricane-force winds. Alan fought it for a
while, then the ship's new boosters pulled them free...

"Merde!" hissed Nick, at what they now saw. The nebula had
thinned considerably, as though they had passed through a curtain,
and space was relatively clear ahead for about half a mil. And there,
in the middle of it all,

"What in Hades Hole is it?" asked Greenbean, while Alan muttered
something less than Churchmanlike. Directly ahead of their ship was
what could only be described as a hole. A hole in space. Against the
background of the ever-writhing nebula it sat, black as night, its
edges blurred and irregular. Like a well or sinkhole, it seemed to be
punched or dug, right into the very fabric of space-time. Around its
irregular, undulating edges, gas and dust from the nebula, sucked in
by the intense gravity, disappeared into the void like water down a

"It's pulling us towards it," said Alan, hitting reverse thrust.
"Gravity already at four times lunar normal, and increasing."

"What do the sensors say?" asked Nick. With his vampiric vision, he
could see bizarre flickers and shapes dancing around the void's
edges. And, it stung, his skin feeling like he was caught out of
doors, too close to dawn.

"It's nearly half an A.U. in diameter," replied Carter. "But the
edges are fluctuating. It's hard to get an accurate reading."

"We're getting enormous tachyon radiation on the screens, too," said
Greenbean. "And gamma rays, too. Over 400 rads and increasing."

"Reverse thrusters, full power," ordered Alan. At once, they could
feel the vibration from the engines hum through the deck plates.

"But we need this data," said Greenbean, "what with Alpha headed
this way."

"We can't survive this radiation if the screens decide to give out,"
retorted Carter. "Let's haul it."

"Full reverse aye," replied the other. The Eagle's engines roared,
then screamed, but gradually they pulled away from the black maw.
Alan switched on the monitor to departure angle, and they watched as
the mysterious rip in space began to fall behind them, then vanish
back into the obscurity of the nebula.

Nick retreated back to the passenger module, and let the pain wash
over him. His face was red, his eyes bloodshot. Some form of
radiation inimical to the vampire had punched through the shields
and the ports, and hammered him. He made for the head, and
taking the hip flask from his jacket, downed it in one go. At once,
the peeling skin began to flake away, and his eyes to clear. He
washed his face and returned to his station. He had just started to
run a preliminary analysis of the new data, when they came back into
scanner range of Alpha.

In the lab, Jim Haines was busily fine-tuning the scan field on the
new machine. All was, so it seemed, working well within expected
parameters. Small devices, live plants, even small animals, now
passed through it without harm. 

The next step was to route the data stream through a wave-guide, up
to one of the secondary scan emitters atop the old Main Mission
tower, to the outside of Alpha. The diagnostic routines with the
computer came back as expected, as did the dummy signals sent through
to the outside. When all seemed well, a small rock was sent through-

To slowly rematerialize out on the surface, smack in the center of
launch pad one. It sat there, as more diagnostics were run, oblivious
to what was about to hit it. The machine was powered up to saturation
point once more, coordinates confirmed, the sequence reversed, and
the stone began slowly to shimmer, and then to fade...

There was sudden turbulence in the nebula, with a massive flash of
light coupled with a huge energy discharge, just as the rock began to
dissolve. A light began flashing on the main transport control,
joined by the alarm, as Maya entered the lab.

"What is it?" she cried, dropping her papers and racing for the
machinery, as acrid smoke oozed from somewhere.

"Some sort of overload," replied the other. "There was a huge
discharge of energy from the nebula. I'm shutting it down."

"What were you doing with it?"

"Transmission to and from the outside of the..." The chamber
flashed, and sparks flew at them.

"Shut it down!" cried the Psychon.

"I tried, Maya. It won't power down," said Haines. "The main switch
is fused. I'll have to..." 

As he stared at the Moon in the still waters of the pool, Schanke
felt odd. What was it? He looked up at the sky, then back down at the
image of Alpha, as the sense of disorientation slowly grew in him.


They both stared, as something began to coalesce in the transport
chamber. It was amorphous at first, roiling and translucent. It
flickered, then began to take on some measure of solidity. Slowly,
fitfully, the light faded, and the form in the chamber...

Nick strode in, and stopped, eyes wide in utter shock. The shifting
form in the chamber at last coalesced into a man, standing naked on
the pad. He stood, rigid and unmoving, until the machine cycled down
and the coils at last went dark, then toppled out, onto the floor.
All three rushed towards the prostrate form, Maya turning him over.

"Emergency!" called into her commlock. "Emergency medical team to
Professor Bergman's laboratory! Professor Bergman, report to the lab
at once please!" Maya heard Nick curse, and looked from the insensate
form to the vampire. His expression...

"Nick? Are you alright?"

"Mon Dieu!" whispered Nicholas, eyes riveted on the man's
face. His eyes were open, staring blankly up at the ceiling,
apparently oblivious. "How..."

"Oh my God!" cried Natalie, as she entered with two med techs, and
saw him." Nick looked up at her, and they both said...


Chapter Four

"He's who?" asked Koenig, in Medical, looking down at the comatose

"We've identified him, from his photo as well as fingerprints, as
Donald Garibaldi Schanke," said Helena, adjusting her new patient's
IV drip. 

"Who is?" Koenig pressed, looking from the patient to the Barbers.
More of a scowl, actually.

"Was, Commander," said Nick, voice subdued. "He was someone that I
knew, back home."

"Go on."

"He is...was, a member of the Toronto Police Department. A homicide

"And how did he get here?" asked Tony, arms crossed. "According to
our files, he's supposedly deceased."

"Yes," said Nick, never taking his eyes off the simulacrum of his
old friend. "He died back in 1995."

"Again," said Koenig, "how did he get here?"

"I'm not sure."

"Well, don't you have a theory?" Koenig looked around. "Anybody?"

"Essentially, John," said Victor, face contemplative, "he's a clone."

"A clone?" said Tony. "He fell out of the transporter. How is that a

"It has to be the pattern," said Nick. "I forgot to delete it."

"Pattern?" said Natalie. 

"I scanned the patterns of a number of organisms, and ran them
through the buffer. To see if something as complex as Human DNA could
survive the process intact. I used Don's as a control. Someone never
exposed to the hazards of life in space."

"And precisely where did you get his DNA from, Nick?" asked Tony, as
ever the suspicious type. Bending the truth as much as he could, Nick
explained. He also, under questioning, explained his idea of using
back-up patterns for "medical purposes".

"I think, John," said Victor, still musing, "that when the rock was
brought back in, a massive energy surge from the nebula must have
come down the waveguide with it. It burned out the main memory in the
buffer, and the machine defaulted to the back-up memory bank we've
been experimenting with."

"But that's a rock," said Koenig. "How does that give us a man?"

"The back-up bank still had Schanke's DNA pattern in it," said Nick.
"It was never purged. The computer used it."

"Okay, but I still do not see how..."

"The surge," Victor broke in, "blew the main memory, which included
the mass of the object sent through. When the back-up memory was
accessed, the machine pulled in matter from the nebula, as well as
the stone. Enough matter to account for a 200 pound man, rather than
a six ounce stone." 

"And the nebula contains many of the same elements and chemical
compounds as a Human body, John," said Helena. "Carbon, hydrogen,
oxygen, plus traces of zinc, sulpher, you name it."

"Yes, " said Natalie, looking at the medical scans. "The nebula
includes virtually all of what our bodies contain." She motioned for
Koenig to take a look.

"So you're saying that, once the original pattern was lost, the
machine used his," Koenig looked up, and pointed at "Schanke", "and
sucked in enough matter from the nebula to construct a Human body?"

"Essentially yes," said Victor. "The machine, to put it simply, made
a man from his DNA."

"What's his condition?" Koenig asked Helena, looking at the body.

"Paradoxical," she replied. "On the one hand, as you can see, he's
emaciated, with virtually no body fat." Schanke's eyes were sunken,
his face very thin, his ribs showing through. He looked like a
concentration camp survivor from old newsreels. "He's severely
deficient in several minerals, calcium and phosphorous especially.
I'm trying to compensate with this." She indicated the IV. "I'm
surprised this body is even alive."

"But?" asked Tony.

"But, on the other hand, despite the weakness of his skeletal
structure, his joints are good. They show no sign of wear at all, nor
do his teeth. And no indication of arteriosclerosis, or any scarring."

"Schanke had pneumonia when he was nine," offered Natalie.

"Which his lungs show no signs of," finished Helena. "Scar free."

"Okay," said Koenig, "we have a fresh body. What about him?"

"Perfect functioning of the autonomic system," said Helena,
indicating a monitor.

"But the rest?" said Nick, tapping his own temple. 

"Flatline. Vegetative. Virtually no activity in the neo-cortex, and
the ascending reticular activating system is strangely quiet. If I
didn't know better, I'd say he had massive brain damage."

"But he doesn't?" asked Tony.

"No. All tests show that his brain tissue is healthy. It's just..."

"Nobody's there," said Nick.

"Essentially yes. Nothing indicates consciousness at all."

"So, what do we do?" asked Tony.

"I'd like to study thi...him, some more, John," asked Helena. "This
is a unique situation."

"Alright. We have more immediate concerns, though. That thing, and
Alpha headed right into it."

"What can we do, John?"

"I'm not sure there's anything we can do, Helena." Koenig
looked at Nick, and it wasn't a nice look. "Victor, science briefing
in 15 minutes."

"Right, John."

A small probe, originally built as the backup machine to
Spacefarer 9, was launched towards the anomaly from an Eagle.
It's sensors modified slightly, it radioed back data the whole trip,
returning information on both the nebula, and the rift.

"It's a wormhole," said Maya, as the void became visible on the main
screen, data scrolling up one side. "Tachyon and neutrino radiation.
Gravity wave distortions, too."  

"A wormhole?" asked Tony. "You mean like another space warp?"

"Very much," replied Maya. "Thankfully, we're better equipped to
detect them now."

On the screen, the hole in the nebula had grown to nearly fill the
entire view. The probe bounced and shook in the nebular winds, but
remained inexorably on course for the dark maw. 

"Distance to boundary?" asked Koenig.

"Hard to say, John," replied Victor. "The edges are indistinct, and
radiation is beginning to interfere with the probe's transmissions,
now." They continued to watch as the nebula disappeared from view. 
Something zoomed by, lost in the darkness.

and the screen went black.     

"Meteorite," said Maya, and fired the probe's tiny engine, trying to
slow it down as much as possible. It slowed, then cut out. "I think
this is it," said the Psychon, and streaks of light began filling the
screen. They seemed to fly by, like a driving rain...

"Probe velocity, Maya?"

"Off the scale, Commander," she replied. "It's last measurement was
over 400,000."

"400,000?" whistled Alan. "Lord o'mercy."

"But it's still transmitting?"

"Incredibly, yes," she said, as the image on the screen changed
again. The streaks of light shortened to blobs, seemingly connected
by filaments.


"None of this makes sense, Commander," said the science officer.
"This phenomenon read as a gravity well, yet I read null gravity
inside it. This should be impossible."

"Null gravity?" asked Kate and Yasko simultaneously.

"Yes. Nothing." As she spoke, the image began to break up into snow.
From what they could still see, the filaments were splitting up in
different directions, and the probe was being drawn along one at
enormous speed. Then nothing. "Contact lost, Commander."


"We won't know until we analyze the telemetry."

"There was a lot of radiation detected, John," said Victor. "It may
simply have burned out."

"ETA to entering the wormhole?" asked Koenig.

"Two days, nineteen hours," reported Maya. Without, of course,
looking at the readout.

"Alright Victor, rip that telemetry apart. We need to know all we
can. In the meantime, Maya, prepare another probe. We've got to have
more data."

As Helena monitored her newest patient, she found herself pondering
the ethics of it all. Though she had never met Donald Schanke, she'd
been shown some snaps by Nick, as well as that egregious episode of
Cop Watch. He seemed a pleasant, if somewhat odd gentleman.
Not the sort she'd have pegged to be a police homicide

But, odd or not, Schanke had died more than four years before
Breakaway, his body, what was left of it, lying in a Toronto
graveyard, God alone knew how many light-years away. And from
Natalie's description of the post mortems of the air crash victims,
there hadn't been a whole lot to bury.

Yet, by a weird confluence of science and accident, here he was, at
least in the flesh. Helena had always been ethically opposed to Human
cloning, deeming it an immoral intrusion into the God-ordained order
of nature. Sure, this body might have Don Schanke's genes, but
Schanke was gone. Gone into whatever awaited. 

That being the case, what would this new body become? Would a mind
eventually develop? Would it ever be "Human"? A person? Was it even
ethical to let it continue at all? She watched the body, pondering
this. Since his "birth", Schanke had gotten marginally healthier, the
deficiencies in his blood and tissues slowly beginning to disappear
as the IVs continued. She ran a finger along his jaw. The body had
emerged from the transporter completely hairless, but already his
hair and beard were beginning to grow. Completely empty of food or
drink, nonetheless his kidneys had begun to produce urine, and his
skin to sweat. All in all, this body was gradually getting up to
speed, functioning as it should.

"But what of the mind?" muttered Helena. "What of the soul?"

"But I don't want to go back," said Don, facing, surrounded, and
infused by The Light. "I'm here."

"But you must," said The Voice. "Your body has been

"I know. I've felt it. I don't understand it, but I sure have felt

"The body needs a soul, and you will be needed, Donald."


"Do you not think that I shall continue to watch over you
family?" said The One, gently. "I shall, and they shall be
safe, Donald. But a crisis impends for Alpha, and you will provide
the help they need."

"Well, it'll be good to see Nick and Natalie again," agreed Schanke.
He was silent a moment, and The Eternal respected his silence. He
looked across the immensity of Creation, and beheld Alpha, peering
into realities where she still orbited earth, where she'd been
destroyed, where...

The vastness of it all boggled even his much-expanded mind,
and he turned to face The Infinite. "Can't you just stop it?" he
asked, turning back to gaze at Alpha drawing closer to the wormhole.
"And how could I possibly help? I'm no scientist."


"Alright," he sighed. "I will." He looked directly into the face of
the Holy, and spoke again. "Very Well, I shall."

"Good, Donald Schanke. Now go."

Before he could even move, Schanke felt the Ethereal Realm slowly
begin to fade, and saw myriad faces about him. Faces he knew. Fleur.
Amanda. His parents. His long-gone baby sister. Then all was
blackness. Blackness, and a crushing weight, like lead on his chest,
his limbs like stone. His last thought was...

"Doctor!" cried a nurse, as the monitor over Schanke's bed
took a jump. Helena ran as fast as she could into the ward. "His
brain activity, Doctor Russell."

Nick and Nat rushed into medical, at Helena's call. All Schanke's
indicators were active now. Natalie studied them, turning to Nick in

"It just started," said Helena. "He was flatline, like always, then

"REM," said Nick. "It's like he's dreaming." He watched Schanke's
eyelids flutter and twitch, along with his limbs.

"And his pulse has jumped to over 100," said Helena. "Respiration
and blood pressure are also heading up."

"He's here," said Nick, his preternatural senses to the fore. He
closed his eyes, and slowly took a deep breath, letting himself
"feel" the "ethers".

"Who?" asked Helena.

"Schank. He's here. He's back. I can feel him, Helena. His aura."

"Nick?" asked Natalie. "I don't feel anything."

"It takes age and practice, Nat." He slowly opened his eyes. "I'll
teach you. But he is here." 

Nat turned, and noticed that the nurse was still present. She looked
into her eyes. "You heard none of this."

"I heard...none."

"Nothing at all."

"Nothing. Now go back to your station."

"Yeah. I think I'll return to my station now, Doctor."

"Right," said Helena. She looked at Nat, shaking her head. Nat
smiled, shrugging. She turned back to the monitors.
"Something's here. Brain activity increasing. Center after
center is firing up. He's coming up out of REM, Natalie." She looked
at the Barber's. "Could it be...?"

"Myra!!" croaked a voice, and they all turned. Schanke had
taken a deep breath, sat bolt upright, and spoken. He drew another,
and from a throat that had never produced a sound came the same word.


Slowly, he blinked and opened his eyes, squinting as he tried
focusing in on the nearest face. His expression went from blank, to


"Schanke?' whispered Natalie.

"God, I'm hungry!"

Chapter Five

Since Alpha was a little short of souvlaki at the present time, the
patient would have to settle for chicken soup. Nick was forcibly
reminded of his own time in hospital, eating the same thing, and
feeling almost as confused. Like himself in that setting, Schanke
seemed to have no memory of certain things. A lot of certain

"The Moon?" he asked, after eating all that Helena would
permit for his first meal. His look could, charitably, be called
confused, and the EEG confirmed that his brain was doing neurological
somersaults. "You're kidding, right? Natalie, he's kidding."

"No," said Nat, looking down at the frail man in the bed. "It's
true, Schank." She explained their being here, Breakaway, and
adventures since.

" How can I be here, on Alpha? I was on a plane, which
exploded. We crashed. Captain Cohen and me. With Dollard. I remember
the explosion, then this...ball of fire, and then...Then I..." He
pounded the mattress in frustration. "Why can't I remember, Nick?"

"You died, Schank," said Nat, slowly. "You didn't survive the crash.
I...I identified what was left of your body." She looked at him, her
eyes sympathetic, his filled with confusion and questions.

"My body?" He looked down at himself. "But I'm here, Natalie. I..."
His eyes narrowed, thinking. "Then I..."

"No," said Nick. "This isn't the afterlife, Schank. You've been,
well, resurrected."

"Res...resurrected?" replied Schanke, very confused. "I don't
understand." He furrowed his brow, trying to remember...something.
Something important.

"Yes, said Nick.

"We'll explain it all when you're better, Schank," said Natalie.
"Right now, you need to rest, and gather strength. That body's very


"Rest!" said Nick. "That's a medical order."

"I...okay," sighed Schanke, leaning back. "Nick?"


"Did you catch him? The bomber?"

"Yeah," smiled Nick. "We didn't give up till we got him, Schank." He
headed for the door.

"Good. I knew I could count on you. Fleur said you were still the
chivalrous knight. Like always."

"Fleur??" said Nick, turning back suddenly to gaze down on
Schanke. "How do you know..?"

"You had a sister? Well, I...I...just do, Nick." Schanke scowled a
moment. "How?"

"This is terra incognita," said Helena, in her office.
Despite all pleas, she'd shooed the Barbers out of Schanke's ward.
"We've never dealt with anything remotely like this before."

"Well, I know I never told him about Fleur," said Nick. "Not a
word." He noticed Helena's look. "My kid sister. Fleur deBrabant."

"Helena?" said Natalie.

"Well, perhaps" said the CMO, "and I emphasize perhaps, all
his memories aren't fully integrated yet."

"What does that mean, exactly?" asked Nick.

"To tell the truth, I'm not entirely sure, really. But his brain,
while healthy, is new. Never used, and now he's..." she shrugged,
"back in it. Our memory patterns and neural pathways are the product
of our entire life experiences. That brain hasn't existed a week, and
it having to go from zero to adult in nothing flat. It's trying to
integrate the entire life experiences of Mr. Schanke all at on go.

"I see," nodded Nick. "Over 40 years in just a few hours."

"Exactly. And, well, this is only theoretical, but wherever he's
been, as it were, since he died, he has experienced things, and
acquired memories, without a physical brain."

"Like Near Death Experiences," said Natalie. "Seeing things that can
later be verified, while you're in actuality clinically dead."

"Yes. It could be that a brain in Mr. Schanke's state cannot
assimilate such things. Or at least not quickly."

"But he mentioned Fleur," said Nick.

"Exactly. If he met her, wherever, then it could mean that memories
of there, wherever there are filtering back to the
surface. Slowly."

"Heaven?" asked Natalie, palms upwards.

"There...we venture into the realm of Faith. Of the Mystical," said
Helena. "While I believe in it personally, there is no way in which I
can quantify it scientifically." She picked up Schanke's chart, and
her pen. "It will all have to come back to him on its own, Nick.
But..." she looked up at them, "if he's suddenly remembering you
never told him, then I'd say he'll remember them rest, in time." She
replaced his chart, and headed for the door.

"I hope so," said Nick, and offered up a silent prayer of thanks for
the return of his friends. He moved slowly towards Schanke's room...

"Ahh ah ah!" said Helena, leaning back in. "None of that" she
pointed to her eyes, "Woo woo woo stuff!" 

"Right," sighed Nick.

Nick returned to his project, trying to both repair the machine, and
figure out how this could have happened in the first place. The data
recorder had fried, so he had to try and recreate the process, step
by step. After several frustrating hours, he got a call from Natalie,
who was ready for another blood sample for her own researches.
Outside, the nebula continued to flash and swirl, the murky vapors
obscuring even the distant hills.

"How's he doing?" asked Nick, as she put the sample into a test-tube
of something really vile looking.

"He woke up, had a little more to eat, then went back to sleep
again," she replied. "His vitals are getting stronger, and his brain
activity is settling down."

"That's good. Nat, how do we explain him?" He looked through a
window to the sleeping Schanke. "What do we tell people?"

"I...I don't know, Nick. The truth, I guess?" she said, adding
something else, equally horrid-looking to her witch's brew, and
putting the tube in the centrifuge. "What can we do?"

"But you know what this'll mean, don't you?" 

"What?" asked Nat, removing the sample, and putting some under a
tunneling electron microscope. 

"Everybody with a DNA sample..."

"Oh God," said Nat, pulling away from her scope, and looking at him.
"I never thought of that. You're right. And with all but a few of
those we've lost preserved in vacuum..."


Many of those who had died since Breakaway had expressed a desire in
their wills to have their remains preserved, if possible, until Alpha
found a new home, so that they might be buried near their comrades on
a living, breathing planet. In the walls of Plato Crater, numerous
caves had been found during the initial survey for Alpha's
construction, and some had been expanded as part of the work. Much of
the original construction gear was stowed there, as well as numerous
of the deceased, preserved by cold and vacuum, rather than put a
drain on Alpha's space and power. Shielded by solid rock, their DNA
should be intact.

What if...


It was Commander Koenig. A conference was called for 19:30 hours.

"How intense?" asked Dr. Spencer.

"The first probe reported in excess of 1,000 rads per minute per
square inch of probe surface, before it entered the wormhole. And
that was just the gamma band," said Maya. She indicated the various
wavelengths on her screen. "The second burned out just short of the

"We've launched a third," said Victor, "sheathed in lead foil.
Hopefully it will last long enough to give us more data."

"Yeah, but will we last?" asked Alan. "That kind of
radiation? And no place nearby to evacuate to."

"Could we evacuate to the Eagles, and use the Moon as a sort of
shield?" asked Tony.

"No," replied Maya. "The gravity distortions along its perimeter are
not constant, according to the second probe. Computer shows the
Eagles experiencing structural failure.

"Ouch," said Bill Fraser.

"Can our own shields protect us?" asked Helena. "The upgrades are
finished, correct?"

"At best," said Victor, "the screens will block out 80-85% of the
radiation bombarding them, at the levels we've recorded so far. But
the gamma and neutron radiation is not constant. According to what we
have, it fluctuates."

"Meaning it could go down?" probed Koenig.  

"Yes. Or up, depending on how much nebular material is being sucked
in at any one moment, John. We can't predict that. And there may be
other variables, too. We just don't have enough data yet."

"Alright," said Koenig, "what are our chances of survival, then?"

"IF the gravity data is correct," said Maya, "we will experience
moderate to severe moonquakes. Since there are no known faults near
Alpha, the danger from that quarter is not great."

"Good, but I want major junctions and airlocks braced, just in case."

"Yes, sir."

"And you and Victor see if you can do anything to boost our shields.
Any little bit."

"Right, John."

"Sandra, what's the probe's ETA at the anomaly?"

"Estimating event horizon in twenty-one minutes," she replied,
checking her watch. "So far, all telemetry functional."

"Okay, let's start prepping the deep shelters," said Koenig. "We've
got just over 60 hours. Let's not waste a second." As the meeting
broke up, Koenig motioned Helena and the Barbers over to him. "How's
our patient, Doctors?"

"He's doing very well," said Helena. "His vital signs continue to
improve, and he managed to stand, today."

"Any clues yet, on... how?" asked the Commander.

"Everything we've found so far fits the original hypothesis," said

"Nick, I...want to apologize. I wasn't very nice at first."

"It's alright, Commander. You didn't authorize me to make people
return from the dead," said Nick. "Leaving Schanke's DNA pattern in
there, even making one, was irresponsible."

"Well, none of us knows where scientific curiosity will lead, Nick.
Can he join in the effort?"

"He's still weak, John," said Helena. "We'll just have to see."

The third probe approached the vortex, but had trouble staying on
course, due to strong nebular winds. Consequently, it entered the
vortex at a different angle, and detected 40% less radiation
bombardment than the last one.

"Yeah, but will it be that low when we go through it?" asked

For his part, Tony had other concerns. As Security Chief, a part of
him naturally distrusted the newcomer, and he put a guard on his
door. That guard was Falxa the Cylon.

"What the hell is that?" asked Don, once more eating. Nick had
smuggled him in a chunk of the newly available goat cheese, thankful
for the fact that Cylons have no sense of smell. Nick explained the
cybernaut, and how they'd acquired it. Or rather them. That settled,
Schanke returned his focus to important things. "This is fab, Nick.
My mother used to make this when we were kids." 

"Well, I figured you needed a little more than chicken soup,
Schank," smiled the vampire.

"And how," said Schanke, mouth once more full. "So, tell me again
how I got here."

Nick once more explained the new transport device, and how it had,
inadvertently "created" a new body, identical to the old one, but
without any traces of injury or wear.

"I remember the crash," said Schanke. "I remember dying. I even
remember hovering around the crash site, Nick. I saw you, and Tracy
Vetter. Captain Reese, too. I also remember the baby you rescued.
Then it's all fuzzy."

"And Fleur?"

"Your sister. Didn't know you had one. In fact, we all thought you
had no family."

"Well, that was...needful, Schanke. But that's years and parsecs
behind us, now."

"Yeah, and I wanna hear it. So, you have a sister."

"I did. She died a long time ago."

"Got a pic?" Nick took a miniature from his pocket, and showed it him.

"A...painting?" He looked up at Nick from the tiny image.

"Yeah. Mom...had them done."

"That's the lady I keep seeing in my memory, Nick. Fleur." He
examined the miniature closely. "Sure looks old." Nick gently
pocketed it. "Nick there's..." He stopped, as if something. "Vudu!"

"What about him?' asked Nick, of the psychotic bomber who had killed
not only Schanke, but Captain Cohen, and everyone else on the plane,
save an infant.

"Vudu, uh...he...had help, Nick. LaCroix!" Don's eyes brightened.
"That weird sucker, LaCroix." Nick blanched at the term. The one from
the Raven, Nick. He was mixed up with Vudu!"


"And...and there was a... city?" Don was trying hard to remember,
images coming faster. "And I saw god, Nick!" He looked at his old
partner. "I saw God!" 

Chapter Six

Bits of Schanke's life continued to slowly filter back, as Nick
helped him onto his feet, and around the room. Though he knew
how, Schanke's brain nonetheless had to relearn to walk all over
again, much like a stroke victim undergoing physical therapy. The
bulldog tenacity he'd often displayed as a cop came to the fore
however, and even when he felt tired, Schanke didn't want to stop. As
his therapy continued, Nick and Nat filled him in on events since the
plane crash, hoping to jog his memory. Nick brought him up to speed
on the rest of the Vudu case, then Jerry Show murders, even
the body in the Raven's beer fridge, minus a fact or two.

"And Myra?" As always, his first concern.

"She made it through, Schank," said Natalie. "It was hard of course,
for both of them, without you, but Jenny was there for her, and the

"" he asked, stopping dead in his wobbly tracks, wide eyed.

"Didn't you know?" asked Nick.

"No. Myra said she had a doctor's appointment the day I left. She
never..." He stopped, smiling. "Oh man, did I miss out."

"A boy," smiled Nat. "Donald Nicholas."

"Oh man," repeated Don, smiling idiotically. "I never...yet," he
looked up at Nick, "I know that you paid for Jenny's college tuition.
A trust fund. How do I know that? And how do I know that you were
worth about half a billion bucks, Nick?" He blinked. "With a 'B'. On
a cop's salary."

Nat's watch chose that strategically placed moment to beep, and she
quickly left for her lab. It was time to check on yet another
experiment. As she left, Don turned back to Nick.

"What's the secret, Nick?" He watched his former partner. "And how
did a Toronto Homicide detective and a Crown Coroner end up on
Moonbase Alpha, married, under the name Barber, right in time to get
blasted into space?" Schanke concentrated, trying to grab on to the
gossamer tendrils of memory, and make them tell him something. 

"We'll talk later," said Nick, getting up. Despite the unusual
situation, he still felt the instinctual caution he always did when
it came to revealing the truth. But, he reminded himself, they were
countless light-years away from LaCroix and the Enforcers. 

And he could handle Tony Verdeschi. 

"You rest, Schank. It'll keep coming back." 

"Yeah," sighed the other, and returned to bed. He yawned, and ran
his hand over his now bristling scalp. At least his hair was growing
back! He did the same with his chin. "Hey, Partner, can I borrow a

"Sure. An electric okay?"

"No problemo, Nick. Thanks."

As he stood, wobbly, in front of the mirror, Schanke kept trying to
get it all to come together, to fit into some rational pattern. There
was something he really needed to remember. Something he was
supposed to do. Do, or was it say? And something important
about Nick, too. Something...some...

"Ow!" he exclaimed, as he cut himself shaving. "Oh great," he
muttered, looking at the tiny spot of blood on his chin. "Can't even
keep from getting nicked by..."




Nicked by the razor.


Nick's razor.



Nick's blood...

Nick needs...

Nick is a...

"Oh my God," he whispered, dropping the razor noisily into the sink.
"Nick! Natalie!"   

Much to Schanke's surprise, he got an invitation for the evening.
Since he was convalescing so well, how about dinner? Given what he
knew of vampires, this didn't make Don very, well, sanguine,
about the evening's prospects, but he reminded himself that Nick was
a friend. An old partner. Someone who put their neck on the line for
you. How many times had he saved Schanke's life, back on the force? 

A bit reluctantly, Helena agreed to the outing, but insisted that
Don use a wheelchair, and issued a list of off-limit foods. Once out
of her sight, however, he hoped, there would be something
more...exciting to wrap his mouth around.

Nick and Nat's quarters were, like most of the rest of Alpha,
somewhere between Spartan, and sterile, but Don at once noticed how
Natalie's touch was everywhere in evidence. Flower pots, photos of
green fields and wildflowers from home, crudely woven, but pretty,
tapestries hung here and there. All made the place look less like a
plastic fetishists dream dungeon, and more like a home. 

Except for the chain mail armor and sword hanging in the corner?

Schanke was not tonight's only guest, he soon discovered. Almost as
soon as he was seated, and had screwed up the courage to say the
V word to Nat, Nick entered with Moonbase Alpha's other

"Schanke,' said Nick, indicating the two men, one a tall, thin
fellow walking with a cane, the other resembling the Incredible Hulk
without the green, "allow me to introduce Egbert, and King Harold
Godwinson." As expected, Schanke's mouth hung open, as he tried to
absorb this, then Nick, after seating his guest, played old-fashioned
host, pouring each some wine.

Schanke listened, when he wasn't stuffing himself, to Nick's tales
of life on Alpha since Breakaway, and their various adventures. Nat's
tapestry, he learned, had been a gift from someone whom they'd
encountered during Alpha's brief time near Crom II, and the painting
in one corner was of the raging volcanoes near their survey site on
the planet they had dubbed "Easter Island", since they had first
detected it on Easter, last year.

"Faith, many an adventure thou hast had," said Harold, "since
leaving Earth behind. No minstrel ever sung the like of them."

"Well," said Nat, "space is so full of unknowns, sir. I'm sure there
are more than we can ever imagine."

"'sooth, Mistress Barber," replied the erstwhile monarch. "What
little I have heard already is wonders beyond words."

"Sure is," she replied, and Nick refilled their plates with chicken
and vegetables. While neither Saxon had ever seen a tomato before,
they both took to them with aplomb.

"How did you manage to get chicken here, Nick?" asked Schanke. "I
thought Dr. Spencer said all the food was synthesized protein, and
the veggies you grow in...uh, hydro..."

"Hydroponics," finished Natalie. "It was, till recently."

"It fell to the luck of this place that certain beasts came here
with us," said Harold, obviously enjoying his meal. Nick poured him
more wine, and the king smiled at Natalie. "Thy wife is a gracious
hostess," he added.

"Sure is," said Schanke, downing another bowl of delicious soup,
certain that he'd exceeded his medically imposed limit, but not
caring. Man, what he wouldn't give for some souvlaki, or even some
donuts. "But how did you get the meat, Nat?"

"Nick's fault," said Natalie.

"They came back through a time warp, actually," said Nick.

"Time warp?" asked the former cop. "How did...I mean..."

Nick explained, as simply as he could, the rift accidentally opened
during Alpha's encounter with the planet christened Outback. He told
Don of how he and Jackie Crawford had found themselves in 11th
Century Saxon England, just in time to meet William the Conqueror,
and his delightful, dedicated band of cheerful social workers.
Finding that they were in a burning barn, with the wounded King,
fleeing from Hastings, at the moment the rift was reopened, they
jumped through, oblivious of the bewildered livestock, also seeking

"So, we set up a stockyard of sorts, and began raising livestock,"
said Nick. "We've been able to expand the base's diet considerably,
much to the delight of all."

"Incredible story," said Schanke, reflecting on Nick's tale. He
also, as Nick's old partner, could tell that something was being left
out. Why? Because of them? Or...

"Tell me," said Egbert, speaking for the first time tonight, "how
camest thou here, Sir Schanke. Never have I seen thee, till now."

"Well, that's kinda...complicated, actually. It's got something to
do with Nick's latest project. The transport machine."

"And it is from this...machine, that thou dids't emerge? Merry a
strange device."


"I have striven to learn Anglish tongue since coming to
this place," replied the warrior. "Some have loose tongues, deeming
me ignorant of it."

"We aren't sure of just how it happened," Nick intervened. He could
sense unease from the Saxon, regarding Schanke, perhaps thinking him
a wizard, or demon. "We're still trying to understand it all, Sir
Egbert. Even in our day, there are mysteries we don't grasp."

"Well, I for one am grateful for some of them, Nicholas," said
Harold. "By God's Grace, we live, thanks to you. I think that I shall
never fully ken all thou hast done, but I thank God for it." So said,
the pious king crossed himself. Nick tried not to choke on his wine,
and Nat squeezed her eyes shut a moment.

Reactions that did not go unnoticed by one Donald G. Schanke,

Growing somewhat fatigued, King Harold and his man, after some
measure of polite conversation, took their leave of the Barbers, and
returned to their quarters. Once alone, Don looked at Nick.



"I take it that explains the armor?" He pointed to the chain mail.

"Yes. It was more in keeping with the situation than our Alphan

"Safer, too," said Nat, stacking plates. "Even so, he came back
looking like something Sydney would have utterly refused to drag in."

"Nick," said Schanke, slowly, trying to find the words. "I remember."


"What do you remember?" asked Nat, going into "Doctor" mode. "Your
life on Earth?"

"That, yeah. And..." he stopped, eyeing them both, unsure. How
will they take it? Sure, he's Nick, but he's also a vam...

"And?" said Nick, quietly. So quietly, they could all hear the
ventilators blowing.

"You. And Natalie. You're both...vampires."

"Schank..." began Natalie, but Don barged forward, before his
courage failed him.

"It all came back to me while I was shaving, Nick. I nicked myself,
and I saw the blood, and I thought of blood, and you, and then it all
clicked." He stopped, nearly gasping for breath, whether because of
talking too fast, or genuine fear, he couldn't be certain. Nick
leaned close, and Schanke could hear his own heartbeat rise,
hammering against his ribcage like a blacksmith. He began to sweat,
and soon Nick's eyes filled his vision. Nick's eyes, the eyes of a

But then the eyes were replaced by a smile. The boyish smile of his
old partner, Nicholas B. Knight. Kind, gentle, friendly. And, a
little sad.

"I know, Schanke," said Nick. "I sensed it, earlier. But don't
worry, you're in no danger."

"Yeah," said Natalie, sitting next to him. "We're not going to hurt
anyone. We're not like..." She stopped, unable to bring herself to
utter that name.  

"LaCroix?" Schanke said, gingerly. From the sudden angry flush that
swept over Nat's face, he could see that he was right. "Toronto's
very own Vincent Price?"

"Yes," said Nicholas. "We're...what he is, but we're not
like him, Schanke." 

"We hate it, Schank," added Natalie. "In fact, we came to Alpha to
get away from him and the rest. Because we hate what we are.
And, to do research. To find the cure for what we are."

"A cure? But you aren't a doctor, Nick."

"I have been. Several times, in fact." He explained. "We decided
Alpha was one place where LaCroix couldn't reach us. We were getting
close, Schanke. Then came Breakaway, and...phfft!" 

"Then you aren't..."

"No, for heaven's sake," said Nick. "I...we could never hurt you,
Schanke. You're a friend. More like a brother. Keeping the secret
before was only to protect you. From LaCroix. The Enforcers. You and
your family had to be protected. But now..."

"Nick, I..." began Schanke, but he stopped, more memories flooding
in, threatening to overwhelm him. He saw Myra, the crash, LaCroix,
Janette, Nick, here on Alpha. And himself, too. Here, next to the
pool, speaking to Fleur, talking to... He sank in his chair, head in
his hands. It was all so much!

"Schank, you're tired. You need..."

"I was here, before, wasn't I?" he asked, head snapping up,
suddenly. "Nick? I remember being here, on Alpha, before the waste
dumps went kablewy ."

"Yes," said Nick, sparing Nat a glance. See? He mouthed. I
told you! "You appeared to me, Schank. Warned me to leave Alpha.
I...didn't listen."

"But...oh damn! Why can't I remember more?"

"It'll come back, in time," said Natalie. "Just give it time."

"If we have it," said Schanke. "I heard two of the nurses talking
about this vortex thing we're headed for. They were worried Alpha's
going to be crushed or cooked by radiation, or something."

"Hey, we'll live through it,' said Nat, not sounding entirely
confident. "After all, we made it through the Black Sun."

"Yeah, but this time, there's all that radiation," said Don. "I
heard it cooked a probe, or whatever. How the heck are we going to
ride out the ultimate X-ray machine?"

"Frankly...we don't know," Nick admitted. "We're working on the
force field, but we can't be sure it will hold."

"I see. That's why the dinner, tonight, right? One last festive
occasion, before we die?" Schanke said, sharply.

"Schank, I...okay, yes. I promised something to Harold and Egbert a
long time ago. Then you...returned, and we decided..."

"I get it, Nick. I'm sorry I snapped. It was wrong." He was silent a
moment. "Can we survive, Nick? Any of us?"

"I just don't know, Schanke. We're setting up to try and shield
everyone down in the catacombs. But if the force-field fails..."

"Maybe I should have stayed dead,' quipped Schanke. "At least there,
or buried in your transporter, I wouldn't have to worry about being
sizzled to death by..." he fell silent, and got that look Nick
recalled so well, from Toronto. The look that said "Donut" Don was on
to something, and the bad guys had better watch out.

"Schanke?" asked Nat.

"Nick," said Don, slowly, "what would happen to me if I was still
inside that machine? Just a bunch of electronic signals, or atoms, or

"Happen how do you mean?"

"Well, if your transport thingy protected Harold and Egbert from
fire, well, what if something happened to everybody, like...radiation?"

"You mean..." began Nick.

"Yeah. If that device could save you all from being burned to a
crisp, could it maybe protect someone in it from radiation?"

"Well, if the memory buffer was shielded sufficiently, your

"Oh My God, Nick!" said Nat, suddenly. "Do you think?"

"It''s possible. Maybe." He thought hard for a moment, then
moved to the commpost. "Schanke, you've got to get back to Medical.
No 'ah ah ah', Schank. Doctor's orders. We'll have time for talk,
later. " He keyed in a code, and waited. After a moment, Commander
Koenig appeared on the little screen, looking tired, and clearly not
pleased to have been disturbed. Awakened was more like it.

"What is it, Doctor Barber?" he asked, rubbing his eyes, and keeping
his tone civil.

"Commander, can you call a science conference, at once sir? I think
I have the solution. I have to go to the lab, and check on something.
But, if I'm right, this is it."

"The solution? To the vortex?"

"To our survival, Commander."

Chapter Seven

"Ride it out? How?" asked Tony Verdeschi, as Nick laid his plan out
before the assembled group in the Commander's office. "In the

"Essentially," replied Nick, and directed their attention to a
monitor. "I've run the simulation twice now. We link all the salvaged
memory banks from the BaseShip together, and then scan everyone on
Alpha into the transporter, and store them, as it were, inside the

"You're kidding," said Alan, slowly.

"No, I'm not. I've run a few quick tests, with one of the animals.
If we keep the matter stream continuously cycling through the buffer,
there's a better than 96% chance the patterns will remain intact."

"But what about any radiation that might penetrate the computer
banks, and scramble the memory?" asked Victor.

"There is that risk, yes," conceded Nick, "but, if we set the banks
up in the lowest part of the catacombs, and shield them, and the
cable trunks, with as much lead as possible, it could work."

"And if it doesn't?" asked Helena.

"Then it will be an infinitely better death than being fried by
radiation, or suffering as the Moon comes apart," said Nick. "At
least I think so."

"The risk," said Tony, voice rising slightly, "is..."

"Is too great to do nothing," said Natalie, thumping her hand on the
table. "And we have less than 19 hours till we get swallowed."

"She's right,'" said Maya. "We've no time to dig deeper, or to line
the shelters with enough lead, which we don't have anyway. This is
our only chance, Tony. Commander."

"Victor?" asked Koenig, turning to his old friend and teacher. "What
do you think? Is it feasible?"

"There are a lot of unknowns, John," said the old academic,
stroking his chin thoughtfully. "No question about it. But we've not
the luxury of time to investigate other possibilities. This would
seem to be our only chance."

"I agree, John," added Helena, with a heavy sigh. "We've no other

"Well, I'm in," chimed in Alan. "Professor Bergman's right,
Commander. We just don't have the time."

"We'll I've got a question," said Tony, seemingly determined, as
always, to play party pooper to the limit. "Just who gets to stay
behind, while we're all a bunch of digits, and operate this doohicky?"

Nick, of course, said that he would. As the originator of the idea,
he said he had no moral right not to share in the risks. As the first
Human preliminary test subject, he was scanned, buffered, and
returned to solidity an hour later.

"So far, so good," said Helena, after giving Nick a checkover, "but
how will you survive, remaining behind?"

"I'll wear one of the heavy radiation suits," replied Nick.
"Besides, I 'repair' easily."

"And if you die, and come back, where will you get sustenance,
Nick?" asked Nat.

"I'll keep some with me, under the suit."

"You can't Nick," said Schanke, once again eating. "If you die..."


"Nick," said the other, eyes deadly serious.

"Look, you know I'll heal, if it gets too bad."

"Like you did, back in the late '40's?"

"Excuse me?"

"Nevada, Nick. You were in Nevada, downwind from one of those early
nuclear tests, only you didn't know it, then. You, Janette, and
LaCroix got sicker than dogs, and it took you nearly a week to
recover, even with fresh, healthy blood."

"How did you know about that?" asked Nick, slowly.

"I told you, Nick. I've seen the Big Guy. God. Mr. G. He told me all
about it. And Fleur and your mom clued me in on a few things too,
like your chivalrous knight in shining armor attitude. Always rushing
in, to save the day. Like the time your father took you hunting, and
he was nearly gored to death by a wild ox? Eight-year-old Nicholas
grabs daddy's sword, and attacks it on his own."


"Nearly got killed yourself," said Don. "If that had happened, think
where it would have left me."  He watched Nick smile, recalling the
long-ago event. For centuries, the aurochs' head had hung over the
fireplace in the Great Hall of Castle deBrabant.

"Actually, it was more like rusty chain mail," Nick quipped. "Okay,
so what's your point?"

"Let me do it, Nick."

"You, Schanke? But you know nothing about this device. And you're
still weak. If I can't handle the radiation, how will you?"

"I probably won't. But Nick, I serve no purpose here. I don't know
diddly squat about Moonbases, or Eagles, or any of that stuff. I'm no


"And I've been dead before, Nick. It's not that big a thing for me.
Not anymore."


"Look, Nat's right. If you do it, and get really whacked by
radiation, you might get a really bad case of the vampire munchies,
and chomp down on the first one to return. And if the radiation is
high enough to lay you out, what about any blood you keep with
you? It'll get ruined too."

"No, Schanke. I'll keep the blood under the suit with me. And you
don't understand the machine."

"What's to understand? It's got on and off and rewind. It can't
possibly be any harder to get working than my old car."

"No. I've already told Commander Koenig that I'll be doing it."


"No. That's final."

As Kano and Ouma raced to configure the memory banks, Nick and
Victor were laboring to refine the process as much as possible. The
main problem was pattern integrity. With so many patterns in storage
in a jury-rigged system, might they not begin to lose individuality,
or begin to degrade? At this late stage, though, there was little
they could do to improve the device. Time was at a premium.

At T-minus four hours, Nick and Nat sent the first Alphan in. All
seemed well, and then a second, followed by a third. Soon, virtually
every living thing on Alpha was disappearing in a wash of light,
replaced by a computer memory pattern. There was some question as to
whether the process was totally safe for the unborn. Unfortunately,
no data existed on this matter, and thus the computer could do no

"I'm willing to take the risk," said Athena.

"And I as well," chimed in Maya.

Tony, predictably, was uncertain about sending Maya through, and
suggested that the ladies ride it out in radiation suits, shielded
like the memory banks. Maya pointed out that if things went south,
they would die along with everyone else. If not, and the transporter
system failed to return everyone, they would die, slowly, of
starvation on a derelict base.

"Best we all go together, Tony," said the Psychon, next to the

"We've been through too much to just have it all end now," said
Athena. "Besides, I'm too fat for the suit, anyway."

"Yeah," said Alan, behind her, suppressing a grin. "Let's go. See ya
on the other side, Nick."

"You too, Alan," replied the vampire. He hit the controls, and as
the process took hold and he began to fade out, Alan said, "Look on
the bright side. Maybe the radiation will improve your beer, Ton..."

"Nick, can you keep him in there permanently?" asked Tony oh-so-

"Come on, Tony," laughed Maya, and soon the Verdeschis were gone as
well, followed by Helena, after a passionate farewell to the
Commander, then finally Koenig.

"The Captain's the last to leave," quipped Nick, as Koenig stepped
into the chamber.

"Not a sinking ship, I trust," replied Koenig. Even now, outside the
lab windows, the nebula was thinning out, as Alpha drew ever closer
to the vortex.

"We'll get through, John," said Nick, referring to the Commander by
name for the first time, his movements awkward in the bulky suit.
"Athena was right. We've come way too far, through too much. Besides,
if we all croak now, what becomes of Arra's prediction?"

"Good point, Nick. Okay, let 'er rip." Nick slid the paddles up,
till the chamber was filled once more with light. Then, he was alone.


"Come on out, Schanke," he called. Almost at once, Schanke emerged
from an equipment locker.

"Why didn't you say anything, Nick?"

"I didn't want a scene, Schank, or Tony calling Security. Now you
are going, and that is that." Nick looked at him, eye to eye, and
started to push a thought. "You..."

He never finished. Quick as a snake, knowing about his old partner's
vampiric speed, Don pulled the laser from behind his back, and fired
a stun blast at Nick. Nick being what he was, it took more than one
shot, but at last the vampire crumpled to the floor, unconscious.

"I'm sorry, Nicky 'ol boy," said Schanke, as he began to remove
Nick's suit, "but this time, Donut Don is calling the shots. Ya
hear?" He drug the nearly naked Nick into the chamber, and hoping
that he accurately remembered what he'd seen from his hideaway, sent
him after the rest, into digital limbo. "81 Kilo, over and out."

Chapter Eight

At T-minus 14 minutes, Donald Schanke, entombed from head to foot in
the radiation suit, looked out the only remaining unshuttered window
in the lab. A few degrees above the lip of Plato Crater, the vortex
loomed like some hungry predator, waiting for its prey to come closer.

Most of the systems throughout the base were down to conserve power,
along with the gravity generators. Life support was reduced, except
in hydroponics, to a bare 10%, every spare watt being pumped into the
Bergman Forcefield, both power systems and field upgraded with
acquired technology.

"Well, Don," he said aloud to the walls, "you've done it. Gotten
yourself into a real sticker, as Myra would say. Oh Myra. If only you
could see me now. Or maybe not." He couldn't suppress a chuckle.
"Yeah, and if the radiation doesn't kill you..." As he spoke, a
slight tremor rippled through. "The earthquakes will."

"No", a voice seemed to say, everywhere, yet nowhere. Schanke
looked around, but saw no one. He turned back, to look at the
commlock Nick had left next to the transport cage. It was linked to
the computer, and displayed the sensor readouts on the vortex. The
range was currently at just under 200,000 miles, closing at over
50,000 per minute, and accelerating. The radiation hammering on the
shields was staggering, though he lacked the technical expertise to
fully grasp what the numbers and squiggles all meant. What he did
understand was that a little over 85% of it was being effectively
blocked by the screens, and that...

And that the vortex now filled over a quarter of his sky, the
material around its edges fluorescing and glowing, giving the
phenomenon the appearance of ghostly teeth. Small objects, no doubt
space debris, zipped past to be swallowed by the stygian blackness.

Don was afraid, as he watched the vortex grow closer, grow ever more
bloated. That...thing was about to swallow the Moon the way a drain
swallowed soap bubbles. And considering what usually happened to soap
bubbles afterwards, he wasn't all that sanguine about the Moon's

Yet, he was also un-afraid. Having died horribly once before, it
held no real terror for him any more, though the idea of being
irradiated and then ripped apart by some weird space phenomenon he
couldn't even name thrilled him no more than being blown up and
crashing in a plane. Either way were bummers. But he'd been sent here
for a purpose, and he didn't think he would have been if there were
no chance for Alpha. The Alphans, and their journey, would go on.
They would meet their destiny.

With or without him.

He looked out the window once more. No trace of stars or nebula
remained in view now. All was the blackness of the vortex. He checked
the commlock.

"Anomaly boundary in one minute, mark," droned the computer.
"Shields at 94.3%."

"Uh...radiation?" asked Don.

"Radiation deflection currently at 89.7%. Bombardment on shields has
dropped by  4.17%."

"I guess that's good," said Schanke. He spared another look out the
window. Nothing. He looked back to the commlock, the numbers counting

Twelve seconds. Eleven. Ten. He quickly refitted the lead shutter to
the window, and heard the computer say...

"Vortex boundary positive," and closed his eyes. 

It would have looked, to any observer with a God's-eye view, as if
the Moon actually hesitated a moment, on the very lip of the vortex.
Like a basketball on the rim of the hoop, it appeared to wobble
slightly, as if reluctant to take its final plunge. But finally,
ineluctably, Earth's errabundic one-time satellite gave up the
struggle, and surrendered to the abyss.

The first thing Schanke noticed, once he opened his eyes again, was
a dimming of vision, as if his circulation had been momentarily
choked off. The remaining lights did the same, casting the room into
almost total blackness. The base shook, and a feeling like static
electricity rolled over his skin, making him itch. There was another
tremor, and the shutter fell from the window. He moved to replace it,
but could not turn away from the surreal images outside. 

The total blackness of before was slowly giving way to an eerie blue-
white radiance, highlighted by flashes of pink or green. Slowly, it
seemed to coalesce, till the sky over Alpha began to resemble a
tunnel, a tunnel filled with bizarre and fantastic shapes, and Don
felt as if he, and the entire Moon, were being literally sucked
through this cosmic cuniculus lucis.

Spheres, filaments, spinning shapes, flashing tendrils of color and
light. And, from the rapidity with which they sped by, the Moon's
velocity must truly be staggering. It seemed to slide like a toboggan
along one "bundle" of filaments, till the void ahead looked to be
framed by...

A gate?

That was the only way Schanke could think of describing it. Dead
ahead was a "ring" of sorts. A ring that for all the world looked
artificial, like a series of braces or struts had been assembled and
put in place with the idea of holding the wormhole up, maintaining
its shape. How...

For a moment, Schanke felt sure that the Moon was going to hit it,
but no. Alpha passed through harmlessly. Moments later, another such
structure loomed directly ahead, only this one was more elaborate,
branching off, spreading into myriad branches. Schanke was
irresistibly reminded of an old mine he'd once explored as a boy,
getting lost for hours, afraid he'd never get out. That feeling of
sheer terror was back now, as he watched the cosmic "tunnel" race
past them.

Was this cosmic phenomenon artificial, then? Had someone, some
unthinkably powerful Superrace actually built it? Schanke had never
been much of a fan of science fiction, his reading material as a
youngster being limited mostly to crime literature and the Police
Gazette.  Yet this...this galactic subway tunnel looked like just
that. A tunnel, bored through the very fabric of space by engineers
that made Alpha look a campsite for a bunch of naked
hunter-gatherers. Schanke was lost in utter awe at it all.

Then, he began to feel dizzy. An alarm sounded from his commlock,
along with the computer's voice. The force field over Alpha had
failed. He looked back up. Alpha seemed to be moving even faster than
before, and once more passed through one, then another of the bracing
"rings". Then the flashing iridescence slowly began to fade, and
Schanke could see blackness. Blackness, stars, then...

Then a blackness of his own as he passed out, crashing to the floor.

Chapter Nine

Coming to, Schanke could see absolutely nothing at first.
Thankfully, he discovered this was due to both his being face down,
and the lights being out. Slowly, he brought himself to his knees,
fighting a slow wave of nausea, and struggled to free himself form
the helmet of his suit. Once done, he took big gulps of air, felt a
little better, and saw the glow of the commlock screen and the
transport console. At least something was still working on the base. 

It smelled a little stale at first, and felt chill. His breath was
foggy in the dim light, and looking up, he saw traces of frost
forming around the edges of the window. Not good. Slowly, gradually
beginning to feel a little better, he got to his feet, and surveyed
the room. Reaching for the commlock, he picked it up. It was, to his
surprise, still displaying data from the Main Computer. 

"Uh..." he began, then had to think. "Computer?" No response. Oh,
right. Press the button, dimbulb! "Computer?"

"Ready," it replied, after a few seconds.

Good. At least something still works.

"Uh...restore power throughout the base." He waited. Then the
computer replied: "Unable to comply. Power distribution systems off-
line on upper level, sections..."

"Well, where can you restore power?" he asked the machine, a little
testily, as he felt his nausea and dizziness returning. He waited a
few more seconds. As if in answer, the lights came up in the lab, and
the air slowly began to warm. In all, over a third of Alpha was
without power, and the technical crews would be busy for a while. As
the chill began to fade, he began worming his way out of the rest of
the bulky radiation suit.

Dumping the suit on the floor, he checked over the transport
instruments. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to remember,
then began pushing buttons and sliding paddles. He crossed his
fingers, and prayed he'd gotten it right. The chamber began to glow
and hum louder, and he hit the green key. The chamber slowly filled
with a pulsing noise and light, and he felt a wave of heat wash over
him. Within a few seconds, a Human form began to coalesce within the
cubicle. Schanke thought the process seemed to take longer than
before, as the form faded in and out. Then it solidified into
something recognizable, and he found himself looking at Professor
Bergman. Victor blinked a few times, seemingly disoriented for a
moment, then focused his gaze on his rescuer.

"Mr. Schanke?"

Don didn't answer, but let the dizziness rise up, and blackness take
him once more.

When he awoke once more, it was to the sight of the lovely Helena,
leaning over him. For a moment, his mind was all in a muddle, then he
slowly began to remember.

"Mr. Schanke?" she asked, as she adjusted his IV drip.

"Doc?" he asked, trying to sit up, but she gently pushed him back
down. "Is everybody okay? Nick?"

"Here, Schank," came a familiar voice, and Nick appeared from behind
Helena. His expression, one of extreme umbrage, couldn't hide his
smiling eyes, and relief at seeing his old friend reasonably
functional once more.

"Everybody okay, Nick? Natalie?"

"Pretty much, Schank. We did have one casualty, though."

"What? Who?"

"One of the chickens. It came out a real...well, never mind. All our
people are fine, apart from a little intoxication."

"Intoxication? As in drunk?"

"Well, it turns out the transporter system developed a glitch
somewhere," said Natalie, "and couldn't tell certain kinds of sugars
from alcohol. Only one atom difference, after all, and some of us
came out..."

"Sloshed," said Helena, with some amusement.

"Anyway, we're taking care of some dehydration, and not a few
hangovers, Schank. Other than that, we're okay."

"What about me?" asked Don. "I gotta tell ya, Nick, I felt like
pukesville." He raised a hand to his head, feeling the wires to the
EEG, then leaned back. "Still do. Is it radiation, Doc?" 

"You absorbed the equivalent of three or four old-fashioned chest x-
rays, Mr. Schanke," said Helena, "which isn't life threatening. But
there may have been side-effects of the vortex that we don't
understand, exacerbated by your general weakness. What you did was


"But heroic," she added, landing a kiss on his forehead, and left to
see to other patients. Once she was gone, Nick fixed Schanke with a
gaze, and there was a long silence.

"Ah...Nick, I..."

"I understand," said Nick, adopting a mollifying tone. "You may have
been right, Schank. The sensor logs say the radiation level dropped
as we neared the vortex. Dropped significantly, too. You didn't get
anywhere near a lethal dose."

"Well, that's good, isn't it? I mean, I guess the suit did its job."

"Yeah. Now," and Nick leaned close for the barest moment, his fangs
coming down and eyes flashing, "don't ever do that again!"


"Got me?"


"Good. Now, here," said the vampire, normal again, and took a
styrofoam box from Natalie, who'd held it behind her back. "Ta-da!"
The vampires stepped back, as he opened it.

"Oh my God, Nick! Souvlaki!"

Thanks to the advance warning, damage to Alpha was minimal, and by
the end of the following afternoon, more than 90% of the base was
back up and humming. A pipe had burst from freezing in the water
recycling plant, shorting out a power bus, and two airlocks pumps
stubbornly refused to cycle, but other than that they had been
incredibly fortunate. As soon as things were back to near normal,
Commander Koenig called a Command Conference, to assess what the
vortex had done to them.

"We've traveled just over 84 light-years," announced Victor,
"according to our star charts. But according to the sensor data, were
we within the vortex for only seven minutes, four seconds."

"That's incredible," said Tony. "Our speed must have been unreal."

"It still is," said Alan. "It's still off the dial, although we seem
to be slowing. If we can trust that, of course."

"It wasn't just speed," said Maya. "That vortex was like a warp in
space, Tony. A wormhole." She brought two edges of a piece of paper
together to demonstrate. "Instead of the long way around," she traced
one finger along the folded length of the paper, "we took a short

"And what a shortcut," added Alan. "From what Schanke described, as
well as the sensor video, it wasn't a natural phenomenon."

"Victor?" asked Koenig.

"Yes, someone built this vortex, John. Someone with an incredible
level of scientific knowledge. And a technology we can't even begin
to fathom."

"Any idea where we are?" asked Helena. Victor punched a starchart up
on the screen, a flashing red dot indicating Alpha.

"Here we were, and here we are," he said. "The computer isn't back
up completely, yet, but from what the scanners say, there's a
plethora of systems ahead of us, including over a dozen G-Class stars
detected so far."

"Then there could be habitable planets," said Alan. "A place to
live. Finally."

"We can hope," said Koenig. He turned to look out across the
surface. During its passage through the nebula, the Moon had acquired
an atmosphere, of sorts. Though its pressure was less than a third of
Earth's, it apparently wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Lunar
gravity, it had been calculated, would be able to hold onto it for
several thousands of years before the loss would become noticeable.
Koenig thought once more of the mysterious world of Ariel, and quite
a different sort of atmosphere. Not for the last time did he curse
circumstances there. Still, who knew? Perhaps, if they went into
orbit around a suitable sun, it could be altered, over time? 

As always, time would tell.

"Okay, everyone," he said, turning back to the assembled group.
"Let's get back to work."

Chapter Ten

A couple of days later, Schanke was up and around at last. Able
finally to keep down every bite that Helena would allow (and a bite
or two she did not), he was definitely feeling more like his old self. 

"Yeah. Yeah, I guess I was pining a bit, Natalie," he said to her,
late that evening in Medical. "I wanted to go back. Back to where I
was, before." He sighed, and leaned back, full as a tick. "I guess
that's just not on the agenda."

"You were sent here for a purpose, Schank," answered Nat. "You ended
up giving us the means to survive. The amount of radiation that got
through after the shield failed wouldn't have been good."

"And I'm...okay? I'm not going to mutate into something weird?"

"Not that I'm aware of," she smiled. "The suit worked as advertised,
and the anti-radiation drugs we got from the Colonials took care of
what little you got. I don't foresee any problems, but we did lose a
few houseplants and some vegetables in hydroponics."

"And without enough suits," said Nick, "a lot of people would be
dying. You were right, Schanke. You did the right thing. That was one
hell of an idea."

"Well, I can't take all the credit," said Don. "It was King Harold
and that other guy who gave it to me."

"Harold and Egbert?" said Helena, entering with a tray. "How?"

"Well, like I said, they were brought here by that machine. You said
the barn was on fire, Nick, just like the fire that almost got the
Commander and you in Scotland. Well, I figured, I mean, I'm no
scientist, yeah, but if it could protect from fire, why not from

"Simple, but profound," said Helena, looking at Natalie.
Interesting, is it not? If we didn't have Harold and Egbert, Schanke
would never have come here, and we'd never have had all the pieces in
place to have survived this one." 

"I guess we really are being looked after," said Natalie. "I just
wish I understood it all, Helena."

"Don't we all?" said the CMO, putting a few last things away for the
night. "Oh, Nat? I double-checked your work. Your latest experiment
survived just fine." She saw both vampires light up. "I have a few
ideas, there. Once things are a hundred percent back to normal, let's
get back to work on the cure."

"You've got it, Helena," said Natalie. "I'm tired of all the

"Well, as long as weird vortexes and nasty aliens leave us alone for
a while," said Nick.

"Well," said Schanke, "glad I was useful. Which reminds me, what do
I do now, Natalie? Doctor Koenig?"

"For now, Schank, you recover," said Nat. "You rest, and get well."

"Even without the radiation, that body of yours has a ways to go,
Mr. Schanke," said Helena.


"NO buts," said Natalie. "Or I will give you many, many injections
of the worst kind, Schanke. In the worst possible place." They
watched him blanche. "Hhmm?"

"Okay," he said, settling back. "But when do I as least get out of
here?" He waved, indicating Medical. "I hate hospitals." He turned to
Helena. "Doc?"

"I don't see why he can't be discharged to quarters, Nat," said
Helena, checking his chart. "Isn't there an empty one near you folks?"

"Yes," said Nick. "Baxter's old quarters."

"Perfect," said Helena. "As long as your primary physician concurs,
Mr. Schanke."

"She does," said Nat.

"Then it's settled, Mr. Schanke. You're outta here."

"Come on, Schanke," said Nick, "we'll help you settle in."

"And after that?"

"Afterwards, well, we'll just have to see," said Nat, making an
entry on Don's chart. "We'll find something."

"One thing at a time," said Nicholas.

"Yeah. Like I know diddly about being anything but a cop," said

"Well," said Nat, as they led him towards his new digs, "we can talk
to Tony in Security, when you're better. Your qualifications and
experience as a cop are top rate, Schank. All those awards. And it's
not exactly like he's got a pile of applications sitting on his desk
right now."

"Yeah. Sure," said Don, still looking a bit glum.

"Schank, what is it?" asked Nick, but Natalie understood.

"You miss her, don't you?" she asked. 

"Myra. Yeah. Yeah, I do, Nat." They finally reached his new address,
and showed him in. Nick told him that tomorrow, he'd get him an
Alphan uniform, get Tony to assign a  commlock code for him, and Nat
clued him in on what was where, and how it worked. Sighing, Don sat
on the bed. "I know I wasn't exactly the world's greatest husband,
but...God, I miss Myra and Jenny. I miss 'em so damn much! And the
son I never even knew about, and'll never see." He fell silent,
looking down at the floor, then about his new quarters, and both
vampires could see his eyes get misty. 


"I remember it all now, Nick. Seeing you and Natalie in your loft,
the night LaCroix nearly turned you into a bug on a card, and you
were forced to bring Natalie across."

" saw all that?" asked Natalie, quietly. She hated the very
memory of that terrible night.

"Oh yeah, Nat. You have no idea how many angels were working on
LaCroix, to get him to not impale you guys. I was actually
tired, afterwards."

"I...I never realized..." said Nicholas.

"Of course not, Nick. The state you were in, you wouldn't have heard
the Last Trump. LaCroix either, for that matter. We tried to get you
not to take Natalie's blood, but we failed." He looked at both
of them, and Nick looked away, a brief look of shame crossing his
face. For a moment, there was silence.

"Tell me something," said Nat, after a quick moment, rescuing
things. "Why did you try to get us to leave Alpha? Before Breakaway.
Why? If we had, Nick would never have gone back to Hastings, and set
in motion the events that ultimately led to our being here."

"Yeah, well I was wrong, Natalie, Nick," replied the former
detective. "Not about LaCroix, or Vudu, or any of that. And there
is danger here, folks. But I...I wanted you there, Nick. Back
home. To look after Myra and my family."


"Uh huh. LaCroix was toying with the idea of threatening them, Nick.
All to get you to come back home."


"I was scared, Nick."

"Why didn't you just tell me?"

"There were some things I wasn't permitted to say. I had to get
permission, even to appear to you, Nick. The others, too. You had to
choose your course. But, I guess you were needed more, here. At least
in this universe."

"This universe?" asked Natalie.

"Yeah. I guess that there are some universes where it all happened
differently, Natalie. I don't really understand it all, though."

"Quantum theory," said Nick. "I'll try and explain it to you,
sometime, Schank."

"Threaten Myra," snorted Nat. "That sounds so totally LaCroix. So,
you bent God's ear to come here, and play 'My Partner The Ghost'."

"Yeah. I guess I still have a lot to learn, huh?"

"We all do, Schanke," said Nick. "Stop beating up on yourself, okay?"

Look who's talking, thought Nat. 

"I guess I...just miss 'em so much, Nick," said Schanke. "To see
them, just once more..." He looked up at his old partner. "And yeah,
I know about her getting married again." Nat raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, I know. It was sweet of you, Nick. Giving her away like that.
And in a church."

"Small price to pay for friendship," said Nick. "I'm getting better
about crosses and things, Schank. Gradually."

The Barber's left, and Schanke settled in to his new home, at last
managing to drift off to sleep. He awoke, sometime amid the wee
hours, awakened by what he wasn't sure. Was someone in the room? He
turned, and found something next to his bed. A photo, or rather a
triptych of photos, framed in what he could see was actual, genuine
wood. One shot was of Myra, at a Toronto P.D. party, celebrating
Schanke's promotion to Detective, Captain Stonetree behind him,
making terrible faces. The middle snap was of Myra, holding little
Don, with Jenny at her side. The third was of Jenny, in cap and gown,
at her High School graduation. Slowly, Don picked it up, and lovingly
ran his fingers over the images, savoring every sight of his loved
ones. Loved ones so many years, so many light-years, beyond
his reach. He stared, and stared...

Then, cradling the triptych to his chest, Donald G. Schanke, tough,
hardboiled, iron-nerved cop, slowly let the tears begin to fall.


"Where was it found?" asked Koenig, looking through the window in
technical at the wreck of the alien vessel. It was long and thin,
with bulky engine pods and stubby wings. The front was narrow, and
terminated in a bulb of a nose. The letters and characters painted on
it were unfamiliar. All in all, it somehow reminded him of an old
German U-Boat. 

"About four hundred yards east of Seismic Monitoring Station Four,
sir," replied Jim Haines. The installation had gone silent shortly
after passage through the wormhole, and he and a team had gone out to
check on it. There, they had found a wrecked ship. Apparently still
more or less in one piece despite its crumpled appearance, it had
nonetheless ruptured an airlock when it had clipped the station, then
skidded to a stop at the end of a long furrow. Too big to be taken
into the hangar, it had been brought here by two Eagles with tethers,
and rested on the ground, just beyond pad four.  


"We found seven bodies, Commander. All Humanoid." As he spoke, they
could see Alphan personnel removing a corpse from the ship. "And one

As near as they could determine, upon emerging from the vortex, the
Moon had appeared practically on top of the alien ship. Suddenly
confronted with a gravity well that hadn't been there a moment
before, the ship had found itself violently wrenched towards Alpha,
crashing into the lunar surface. The crew, all male, had either died
in the crash, or suffocated in the toxic atmosphere, when their air
had bled out of the ruptured lock. The lone survivor had managed to
get himself into an environmental suit, despite his injuries.

"I'd say he was about fifty or so, in our terms," said Helena,
standing over her latest patient, checking a monitor. "He appears
healthy, apart from his injuries."

"How bad?" asked John.

"He's got a fractured left femur, two broken ribs on that side, a
badly subluxed shoulder, and a concussion. There was some internal
bleeding, too."

"Will he live?"

"He's got a good chance. He seems quite fit and athletic."

Koenig nodded, and looked over at the man's clothing. Apart from his
sophisticated environmental suit, he'd worn a black uniform, and a
pistol in a holster on his hip. The pistol was a laser, and he was
about to take it and the suit to Technical, when the door opened and
Athena Carter entered. She looked at the uniform, then the comatose

"Lords of Kobol!" she swore. "It's true." 

"Athena?" asked both Koenigs, taken aback somewhat by her sudden
bursting into Medical. "Are you alright?" asked Helena.

"Alan showed me the alien ship, Helena, Commander, and I just
couldn't believe it," replied the Caprican woman. "I had to come and
see for myself."

"What's the problem, Athena?" asked Koenig. "Do you know this man?"


"Commander," said Ouma, over Koenig's commlock. 

"Koenig here, Ouma."

"Computer now at one hundred percent, Commander. And it has come
back with an identification on the alien vessel, sir."

But Athena beat him to it.

"He's the Commander of a Destroyer, sir," she said. "He's Commandant
Leiter, of the Eastern Alliance of the Planet Terra."