Where There Is Life, There Is Hope
by Karen

Richie first's thought upon entering the Machine Shop, was he had entered a techie geek's dream come true: the entire large, rectangular room that was roughly the size of a football field, appeared to be nothing more than a hodge-podge of mechanical equipment and tools scattered haphazardly by a wind storm.

"Follow my lead, and I won't steer you wrong," Harper announced as he dragged his new trainee along in his. Wake. The voluble, disheveled and talkative blond engineer continued to rattled off a stream of helpful advice and mechanical theories and speculations. Most of the talk registered on Richie's brain and then popped like a soap bubble. Trying to keep up with both the track of the conversation and the route and the corridors that all looked alike to him Richie missed a great deal of the one-sided conversation.

Richie still felt a lingering lassitude from the affects of what he called, in the privacy of his own mind, the longest jet lag in history. Stepping carefully over the piles of tools and loose silver and white deck plating that appeared banded with black streaks as if they had been burned from either an attack or an electrical short, Richie moved forward and took a seat on the edge of a metal work bench. The work bench, itself none too clean, its surface buried underneath a pile of sheer floppies the color of the jellyfishes he had once nearly stepped on, barefoot, on a long ago trip to the beach, lay in stacks.

Harper paused for breath, leant over to pick up an object from another work bench and hurled it in Richie's direction, who responding to instinct more than sight, palmed the device. "Reminds me of Mason's back room workshop," Richie muttered under his breath. Richie turned the handheld device over and over in his head, puzzled why any one would place so many damn blinking readouts and push buttons on a something that reminded him of a personal digital assistant. His scattered thoughts were interrupted a moment later when Harper came up to plant himself directly in front of him and stuck on his hand. "Seamus Zealany Harper.

"Richie started and rose to his feet. "Riche Ryan of Seacouver, Washington."

"Trust in the Harper. The Harper is good. Nice reflexives," the engineer commented. You any good at fixing things?"

"Not really. Does fixing my bike when it has a flat tire count? I mean, I used to sort of run a dojo and have to keep up with the books and other stuff when it came to maintenance, but most of that involved calling someone else in," Richie replied.

Harper shrugged, "That's better than nothing. Everybody's gotta start somewhere. Speaking of which, would you believe that I spent the better part of my young adult youth running cargo and salvage runs, and now look at me: acting engineer of the most powerful ship in this or maybe any other galaxy."

"I honestly don't know, " Richie sighed and a muffled growl from his stomach reminded him that he hadn't eaten anything since his arrival on board. "I'm starved. You have anything to eat?"

"Sandwiches are still in their packaging in the back, if you want some, help yourself," Harper replied. "You haven't much of this ship yet, right?"

"Right," Richie smiled, trying to muster some of the other man's enthusiasm, Mason had spoken nothing but the truth when had said this was an adventure, so where did Richie get off complaining and griping that it was not the adventure he had wanted or envisioned.

"This garage mechanic," Harper asked, cocking his head to one side, thinking something through, "do you have any idea of the calculations he used to account for the shift in the time-stream. Or don't worry, it's not that I don't believe you, it's just it made think of an incident not that long ago, the tests I ran before the actual put up or shut up, where less than successful..."

"Huh? Mason, I remember a lot of theoretical stuff but I don't think he explained the math behind it. He just told me to suit up in an orange flight suit and walk up the ramp into and the portal, no equations involved."

"Darn," Harper griped. "I was hoping to run a few computer simulations, still the raw data should still be in the Andromeda's data banks, I'll ask Rommie later."


"Oh, wait, Harper grinned. "I kept forgetting you haven't had the tour or meet the ship's avatar. Believe, it'll be worth the wait. Let's have at those sandwiches. I think this will work out just fine, just fine." Richie could only nod and agree.


Methos slid down the few remaining metal rungs of the ladder marked on his map as the hanger bay three. All the while, Methos wondered why in this particular future anyone engineer, cartographer or otherwise intelligent sane person would keep maps on wafer thin documents that resembled the underbellies of a jellyfish. It was slippery, and grainy to the touch. His fingers twitched every time he had consulted the map in an attempt to navigate his way from he assigned quarters to this hanger bay. It was difficult, one the ship had many decks, two lumbering mechanical automatons kept dogging his heels but never actually impeded his progress. Those he could avoid easily enough, it was the more prosaic flesh and blood shadow that he never quite shake. It had to be one of the crew members he had already met. Before he had set on his solo 'inspection' he had made certain of everyone's whereabouts. The purple girl was in a large spacious area filled with plants that Methos would have called an arboretum. The Captain was on deck with a furry, humanoid wearing a scarlet cape, that Methos had yet had the pleasure of an introduction, the human stealth bomber was in a gymnasium. And the engineer and Richie were still in the a engineering section that looked that it had been through a windstorm and only partially emerged undamaged.

"Unless I am very much mistaken," Methos muttered aloud to himself, "there is no one else aboard this ship. Richie and I are the only 'intruders' so why is every nerve ending in body screaming at me that I'm being followed? Damn it! I know you're there!"

Beka: "It certainly took you long enough." a mocking female voice called out from an undetermined direction. "You call that stealth! Hell, I could still sneak in, sneak out of the most heavily guarded vault in the known galaxy and not trip a single alarm."

"A woman. I should have known," Methos sighed hurling the map in the general direction of the voice. "You sound remarkably like another woman who happened to be a thief. It's not exactly something to boast about."

"Is that so? Care to tell me the name. I like to be able to identify my competition."

"And if that's your way of coming on to me, I must say, I'm flattered."

"Don't be," Methos replied. "Amanda."


"Her name, the other thief, her name is Amanda."

"Captain Beka Valentine," "Captain Beka Valentine, Acting First Officer at your service, " She marked her entrance with a mocking salute jumping down from the top of another ladder across the way from where Methos stood with has back to the wall.

had short, tousled blond hair that sparkled with silver highlights as if she had bleached it or sprayed silver paint into the thin strands. She had icy blue eyes and wore a short sleeved black shirt covered with a silver fest and black slacks.

"Methos, my 'friends' call me Adam Pierson."

"If it's all the same to you, madam, I prefer to have my conversations face to face. Call it a personality quirk."

"Sure, not a problem. "I don't trust you."

"I respect that. I don't trust very many people."

"You're not supposed to do that." It makes arguing lose its appeal."

"Sorry, not in the mood.

"You're not sorry. I know a dodge when I hear one," Beka stated. "Why are you here?"

"What is this, a conspiracy. Tyr already tried to interrogate me. I think the more important question to be addressed: "What do you want?"

"Do you want to remain aboard this ship, as you may or may not have noticed our good Captain Hunt is a tad obsessed with restoring his Commonwealth."

"I've noticed," Methos replied, smiling a tight-lipped smile. "Well, the easy answer is at the moment I don't have many options, and I certainly do not wish to return to the rock that he found by escape pod on."

"Fair enough. We all have secrets, some people are just better at hiding it than others." Beka smiled and came forward and startled Methos by planting a big wet kiss directly upon the lips. "Let's play who can find out each other's secrets first, makes the game more interesting," then disappeared down a branching hallway.


Mason and his double talk, I should have walked out of the entire crack-brained scheme was brought up. Richie walked down the corridors, trying to recall the route to the crew quarters from the lines on the map he studied in the Machine Shop, but all could remember were colorful swirls of red and blue wavy lines, not much help to him in finding his quarters and a warm, comfortable bed. At that moment, a door hissed open in the wall, and the girl he remembered from the medical bay, the one with the purple skin and blond hair, stood framed in the light coming from her room, purple tail swishing back and forth. "Richie?" she asked, concern coloring her voice.

"Trance, isn't it?'

"I am sorry. I should have looked on you before this, as the acting chief Medical Officer, I need to be concerned with the welfare of the crew, and since you're now a passenger as well, and the scans I've had Andromeda track on your vitals, I'm worried."

"You were worried about me? Richie flushed, the blush bringing color to his pale cheeks. "Harper and I eat already, so I'm good there."

"You will be good for each other," Trance grinned. "Come in."


Richie looked around and sat down in a peach-colored chair that looked like a bean bag that was part of a circle of other pastel colored chairs in the center of the room. The light glinted down on a table resting next to a bed. He yawned, but for some reason was too tired to sleep, letting Trance run through a series of questions and checks of his vitals. Seemingly satisfied with what she found, Trance seated herself facing opposite from him.

"Talk about anything," Trance encouraged. "We're all friends here. Despite their outward suspicious nature, Tyr and Beka will come around, you'll see."

"How can be you be so sure?" Richie asked, plucking at the fabric with the fingernail of his left hand. "While we were in the hospital I could hear how he was giving Methos the third degree." Unless, that's some kind of new crew member initiation, kind of a shakedown."

"I could speak to Dylan about implementing a new shipboard policy for new crew members and officers," Trance giggled, wrapping her tail around in a tight circle and tucking underneath her folded legs as she shifted position on the cushions.

"You're kidding, right?"

"Mostly," Trance replied.

"You know what?" Richie suddenly burst out. "I think that's what is bothering me the most. This entire adventure isn't turning out the way I expected it would."

"What did you expect?" Trance asked, her eyes shading to a deeper shade of purple.

"How the hell should I know? I've never been to the future before!" Richie shouted and then shifted his embarrassed and angry gazed away from Trance's insistent one.

"Richie" Trance said. "Look at me. Don't feel bad, I was not trying to shame or tease you, and I am sorry if it was taken that way. I understand."

"You do. You see my people believe there are many possible futures, many alternate realites, many ways for the decisions that people make to shift the balance of our lives."

"Could you stop with the cryptic advice," Richie griped, "I think I'm getting a headache."

"I've heard tell that time travel has a tendency to cause that, but seriously, I think I can help," Trance said.

"Ok," Richie, sighing and holding his breath, then releasing it. "I guess that's why I'm here," gesturing with his right hand the dimly lit room, "I want to talk to somebody who would understand, who won't look at me funny and think I'm crazy."

"I will listen," Trance said.

"Promise not to laugh or judge?" Richie asked.

"If I were to pass judgment on my fellow shipmates, we would not now be sitting here having this conversation," Trance replied. "You'll find that out soon enough. You do not have to take my word for it, but Richie, everything has a reason, and if this Mason knew enough to send you here, than it has been left to you to find out what that reason is."

"Yeah, because he wanted to test his machine, and I happened to be available," Richie.

"You think it's that simple?" Trance asked.

"Maybe. If I still can't figure out Methos, and I've known him a long time, I doubt I'll be able to guess what Mason was up to."

"Indeed. Which reminds me, Tyr left a message with me, stating that it was for you. He has asked to meet with you in the Arboretum. Would you like some company? I am going in that direction as well," Trance said.

"Thank you," Richie. "Do I need to know what I'm getting myself into?"

"With Tyr, being who he is and what he is, a Neitzchean" Trance sighed, "Expect the unexpected. Get some sleep, whatever Tyr has mind, for your own sake, it is best that you be well rested."


The following morning Richie woke up, his slumber had been surprisingly free from the troubling images and endless replays of the last few encounters with his old mentor and friend, Duncan Macleod. Instead, he woke refreshed if a bit rumpled, having slept in his clothes. He walked over to the adjoining room where he found the wash room 'or the head or whatever its supposed to be called aboard ship' Riche thought, splashing water on his face and washing the grit of sleep dust out of his eyes, remembering that he was still due to meet Tyr. Richie had only heard him grilling and hassling Methos, but had never actually had an opportunity to meet the man face to face, but from Trance's roundabout hints, Richie had no idea exactly what to expect. "Might as well get it over with," Richie murmured to his reflection.**

"Tyr," Richie called out.

"Over here." a deep baritone voice replied, sounding mellow and menacing at the same time. The man came forward holding a long metal pole roughly the size of the poleaxes he had seen in museums, banded at both the top and the bottom with a gold rounded top, and blinking readouts. The big, black haired, black bearded man held one in either hand.

"What are those things?" Richie asked.

"They are called force lances: weapons that belonged to high-ranking officers of the Commonwealth." Tyr flexed his the muscles of his broad shoulders and angled his head back and forth for a few seconds of mutual inspection that had Richie thinking of a black panther. The man wore a chain and metal affair that made the chiseled muscles of his torso plain to view. Richie sighed and wondering what the hell he had gotten himself into.

"I do not know or care who your previous teacher was, but let me assure I will not tolerate any attitude problems." Tyr stated.

"Why are you bothering to train me at all?" Richie demanded. "Another thing I don't get it," Richie replied. "Why officers would bother to carry around something that looks like a retractable high-tech pogo stick."

"And Dylan insists that I have no sense of humor." Tyr growled when he recovered from his bout of laughter. " I shall remember to tell him that one."

"Do you think Captain Hunt will be mad?" I mean this Commonwealth stuff seems pretty important to him," Richie said.

"It is."

"Why did you ask me here?" Richie asked.

"If you are going to become a member of this crew as our good Captain insists, you had better learn how to handle yourself in a fight." Tyr replied.

"Man," Richie mumbled, "You sure don't pull any punches." Do I have a choice in the matter?"

"A simple one, die or survive." Tyr replied, folding his massive arms over his chest, and then tossing Richie one of the force lances, which he caught by its rounded knob.

"Not much of a choice. Let's say I go through with this, promise not to knock me down on my ass one two many times, agreed?" Richie said.

Tyr eyed the short blond young man, a speculatively and unreadable gleam in his black eyes, the human appeared to be taking the proposition of combat training seriously enough, and he a decently muscular build, better than that of the Little Professor's anyway, and there was a look in the blue eyes that the Netichzan could respect. Aloud, all he said was: "Agreed."

Tyr, for all his bulk came forward with surprising speed, his weapon held out like a very long gun, which surprised Richie, because he was expecting to have to use the lance to start out like a quarter staff and trade and block blows. Instead Tyr thumbed one of the blinking readouts on the weapons smooth surface and hot burst of energy nearly caught him a glancing blow on the side of his left ear, if Richie had not ducked in time. The blast completed its trajectory tearing a steaming hole in the wall behind. "So, it's a laser weapon, like a tazer?" Richie shook his head, his ears ringing from the near miss, reached up with a free hand to feel at his left lobe, checking to see if it was still attached to his head.

"Carries an electrical charge?"

"Yes. Return fire." Tyr ordered.

"How? There are two many buttons."

"Second row to the left."

Richie thumbed and a burst of hot laser light darted from the weapon and watched Tyr dodge the fire, whirl around and use the weapon as staff, swinging it narrow looping arcs, coming into range for a swipe at Richie's ribs. Richie twirled the lance in his hands and parried the blow, which was good, but the force but the muscular Neitzhchean's strike was such that Richie was forced to take several staggering steps backwards. "How long did the Commonwealth, using one these for weapons?" Richie asked, when he had recovered and could breath again.

"Long enough, and you would be surprised at the array of weapons the Commonwealth had its disposal both at its height and during its fall, but we are not here to discuss history," Tyr replied. "Continue the lesson."


"Ryan, you are injured," Tyr stated in a tone that sounded like someone commenting on the weather, to say whether it was raining, or if it was cold, as it was too obvious for any display of emotion, except for the stark observation. Richie looked down at his forearm where a long, bloody slash bled freely.

"It's just a scratch. It will heal." Richie slid on the sweat slicked cold floor, leaning on the long haft of the force lance. He wondering how far he could chuck the piece of junk and if so, if doing so it would damage the planted flowers and bonasai trees across the way.

"I would asscribe such a cavalier attitude either to someone trying to mask that he is in in pain or one who simply does not care. Which is it?"

"You have all the answers. You tell me." Richie snapped.

"Methos declared he will take no responsibility for you. Odd as it may sound, my survival and perhaps our continued well-being is dependent on the actions and decisions of everyone aboard this ship. The monk is a pacifist and a Magog. Two things and ideologies I find difficult to reconcile." Tyr allowed a twisted half-smile to curve his bearded lips.

"Methos doesn't want anything to do with me?" Richie muttered, grinding the butt end of the what he referred to as a high-tech laser pogo stick, into a crack in the metal floor. "I never did understand what Mac found so fascinating about that guy." I mean, sure, he appeared out of nowhere. He knew more about everyone and everything than he should."

"Care to elaborate?" Tyr asked, scenting an opportunity to gain more information about the enigmatic stranger from someone who obviously possessed firsthand knowledge.

"You want to figure out Methos, Hah, that's a good one," Richie muttered, "You and everybody else. So, all I can say, is take a number and get in line.

"That is all?" Tyr asked.


"Very well, I will have to accept that for now. We will continue your lessons tomorrow morning," Tyr said.

"Fine by me," Richie shrugged and left the room the doors sliding to a close behind with a whoosh.


The klaxon blared through out the entire ship, loud as the beating of his heart forcing Richie upright and he banged his head on the shelf of the paneling that Harper had rewiring. He stood up and ran his hands through his hair when instructions came through ordering all hands to report to the command deck. Dashing into the hallway Richie nearly collided with a grumbling, disheveled Methos. Richie skidded to a halt in front of the door to the command deck and it opened it with a soft hissing sound, and they entered.

Methos glared at Captain Hunt out of the corner of one eye and gritted his teeth, an unreadable expression on his pale face. Tyr stalked by, a paperback book in one hand. Richie, his curiosity taking the place of his shock, he gazed around at the Andromeda's command deck, relaxing his rushed breathing and racing heart, seeing that the crew not only seemed to know what to do but were acting with measured and confident responses to the emergency, whatever it was.

Beka, seated in what looked to be a bucket seat on a roller coaster ride at an amusement park, his posture and attitude deceptively relaxed but with a dangerous undertone, her hands curled around the controls, demanded: "What the hell is going on?"

"We're here in response to a distress signal, and we'll need to move in closer to that stellar cloud that we're within 200 yards of the vessel.," Dylan replied.

"Hardly an occasion to sound general quarters," Beka grumbled, but guided the ship closer to the indicated coordinates flashing across her console at the helm.

Rev Bem stood at Dylan's left side and slightly behind the captain, his furry hands lightly resting on the science stations controls. "The Divine will provide."

"I wish I had your faith in the unknown and the invisible, old friend," Beka whispered. "I prefer to work with what I can see and touch."

"We are within range for scanners to provide a visual of the ship."

Harper, the air a soft hiss from between his teeth, "Well, I'll be damned. Will you look at that."

"A high guard ship. But that's impossible," Beka shouted. "According to all the historical records up to and leading to the fall of the Commonwealth, no ships could have survived."

"Looks like they missed one."

"There is something amiss here," Rev whispered. "Something missing from the equation. I can almost feel it. It is so close, but a fog covers my eyes as a the cloud of the nebula hides the ship from our sensors. By the Divine, I feel blind!"

"Rev, don't sweat. We'll check it out, right, Boss?" Harper said.

"Beka, take Ryan and Methos with you, but make sure they stay out of harm's way. I'm holding you responsible for their welfare," Dylan ordered.

"I am not a baby sitter," Beka snarled.

"I realize that," Dylan replied. "But you're second in command, and since they're part of the crew, in a way we're responsible for each other. Please, I don't want an argument right now."

"Seems you never want an argument," Beka replied. "We go in armed, I wouldn't feel right about going into unknown territory without weapons."

"Agreed," Dylan replied.

"Captain, " the ship's electronic voice, broke into the conversation, " I have completed the scans of the ship, sensors confirm that not only is it a High Guard ship, it is the Pax Magellenic, commanded by Captain Warrick."

"Wasn't the Pax lost with all hands aboard during the Battle of Witchhead?" Dylan mused.


"Tyr, you have helm, stay here with Rev Bem," Dylan said, "Meanwhile, the rest of us will take a little tour of the Pax. "Get whatever gear you need and we'll leave within the hour."

"Should we look for survivors?" Beka asked.

"In that murk?" Tyr shrugged. "Doubtful, but someone must have transmitted the distress signal."

"Could be an automated one," Richie suggested. "I mean, how long could anyone survive in there?" He pointed out at the cloudy clump of dark matter and stellar matter that lay displayed on the screen, swirling in eddies, like a pond disturbed by a thrown rock.

Methos took the opportunity to fix the image of the mirror image ship in his mind. Aside from the streaks of black that criss crossed the gleaming silver hull of the ship, mute evidence of the conflicts the ship had sustained, it looked imposing, and beautiful; while he couldn't help comparing it to the both the air and sea going ships he had seen or traveled aboard back on old Earth, Methos was impressed. The Andromeda herself was incredible, its silver hull gleaming in the black blanket of outer space like another star: The Pax Magellan seemed another creatures, a huge life form struggling to break free of a net it had fallen into. At that moment, Methos desperately wanted not only to explore the ship but discover all of its mysteries. He did not want to share them with this band of fools.


Beka and her small squad trooped the down the metal hallways of the Pax, Richie was beginning to get a very bad feeling about the entire mission. It was both fascinating and almost eerie about how closely not only the exterior but also the interior of the ship resembled her twin, the Andromeda Ascendant. He darted glances at his companions, and saw the same thought reflected on their faces as well.

The crew of the Pax they had met seemed genuinely grateful of other people after only God knew how long they had been trapped aboard this ship in the stellar nebula, but Richie could not help feeling there was something not quite right about them. There movements were too stiff, too precise, their words too well rehearsed, if that didn't sound completely insane. Unfortunately, Richie couldn't explain why he felt that way and a uncomfortable made itself known at the nape of his neck, the short blond hairs rising on end.

"I could shoot myself in the foot," Richie grumbled, eyeing with disgust the growing number of smoking holes in the metal deck plates, walls, and floors that were evidence of his less than accurate aim with the force lance.

"Worse things could happen," Harper grinned.

"Funny, very funny," Richie complained.

"Wait," Beka interrupted, "Yes, Dylan," as a crackle in her ear signaled a message coming through on her the communication device.

"You want to trade that force lance in for a laser blaster," the engineer asked, raising a blond eyebrow, following Beka's instruction as he did so.

"Geez, more lessons," Richie, still he couldn't help mull the offer over.

"Every ship has an avatar, how could it lose it's AI system?"

"I hear music," Methos said. "Operatic, sounds German, unless my ear for the classical has completely deserted me."

"Not right now, Methos." Beka sighed.

"The proto energy drive that guides the ship's slipstream drive has been ejected. Unless we do something, this ship isn't going anywhere."

"Negative, " Dylan replied over the communications link. "The ship is missing is avatar."

"How is that possible?" " Beka replied.

"Your guess is as good as mine. I'll keep investigating on my end. In the meantime, keeping checking for clues on your end, and tell Harper to head over to the engineering computer core, see if he can fix the damage to the slip stream drive." ." Dylan's voice, over the communication relay was muffled, but confident.


"They're not human!" Harper yelled, darting around corner of corridor junction e at a full run and into corridor where Beka, Methos and Richie stood examining a computer interface and skidded to a halt, gasping for air. "Dutch just tried to kill me!"

"Calm down, Harper," Beka said.

"Androids. And that's not our only problem. "Can you fix it?" Beka asked.

"Sure," except for the small matter of dodging laser blasts. I'll need to get the ship's computer core and then jack in."

"Go to it," Beka replied.

"Can't you tell the AI to shut down the power to the androids or tell them to call off their attack?"

"We're aware of the situation."

"Can't you tell the AI to shut down the power to the androids or tell them to call off their attack?" Beka asked.

"Negative, " Dylan replied over the communications link. "The ship is missing is avatar."

"Every ship has an avatar, how could it lose it's AI system?"

"It's complicated, Beka. I'm working on that problem with the one of the senior officers, Jill Pearce. Rev and I have already checked the ship's memory logs by tapping into the core. There's more going on here than meets the eye." Dylan explained.

"Pearce?" Beka wondered. "She was the second of command when the ship fought the Neitchzeans, it's her understanding that the device they detonated not only trapped the ship here but also prevented them from aging."

"Neat trick," Beka remarked.

"Tyr is headed your way with the Maru. Head for the hangar and rendezvous with him there."

"That's my ship!" Beka shouted, indignant and extremely possessive of her beloved cargo ship.

"I know, I ordered Tyr to take extra care of the Maru. Dylan out."

Beka acknowledged the end of the transmission and quickly thumbed the off switch, then turned her attention back to her small squad: "Okay, people, listen up. We're up against a bunch of psycho androids. Form up, and follow me!" Beka ordered.

"That's exactly what I said." Harper appeared to want to add something more, but whatever it was lost in the crescendo of sound, whine of metal collapsing under sheer duress as something loud, heavy, and metallic exerted force from the other side of the doors.

"Let's go," Richie shrugged.

"You get shot, boy, and I'm the last person who will cover you," Methos grunted.

"I feel 'so' much better now." Richie replied, ignoring the darting glance Methos shot at him, and hefted his force lance, thumbing the charger to active.

"Enough of this," Beka shouted at Methos. "I'm no more happy about this situation there you are, but whatever grudge you have against Ryan, you had better set it aside here and now or we are all going to die. That's an direct order, Mr. Methos!"

Methos stumbled back a pace and regarded Beka with a mocking twist to his lips, and not with some astonishment. "Yes, Ma'am." he finally replied.

"I'm no expert, but that can't be good," Methos remarked, indicating the splitting and groaning metal with an extended arm. No sooner were the words out of his mouth then the doors gave way.

The charge was led by the ship's Engineer, the black man whom had identified himself as Dutch, and the other members of the command officers, not one strand of hair was out of place; their uniforms starched and ironed up to High Guard regulation; too perfect. "Andriods" Methos murmured. "What are chances that we could stand up and fight these things?

"You don't want to know." Beka replied, "We make a run for it, trade fire when we have to, and stay together." She whirled and dodged laser blasts twisting and agile as a mountain cat. Meanwhile the androids tore up metal plating like it was constructed of paper maiche.

Methos observed the destruction and wondered 'what the hell have I gotten myself into."

A bolt of laser energy sweeping in a wide deadly arc blazed from their androids hand weapons, missing them, but tearing a gaping hole in the wall. The group ducked and coughed in the resulting smoke and fire caused by the damage.

Richie felt his heart pounding in his chest, his lungs gasping for more air, and it was not all due to the smoke. He racked his brain for memories of Tyr's training in using the weapon he held in sweating palms, and when he had it, returned fire. Richie's heart nearly stopped when he sensed Methos' presence nearby and the older Immortal's hand grasp his shoulder and pull out the path of another deadly barrage of lasers. Richie nodded and following the quiet instructions that Methos relayed via Beka's hand signals, twisted and ran down another intersecting hallway.


Beka came to a skidding stop at the entry to docking bay, cursing a blue streak when she saw that the controls that opened the door were smoking and twisted to a smoldering heap. "Damn it!" she shouted, pounding her fist into the wall, recoiled and swore again, clutching her pain-laced hand. "I should have seen this coming. Still, even if we had found the access controls intact, the AI might have cut of the power."

They entered the docking bay where the Eureka Maru waited, offering safety and escape. It's barrel-shaped hull gleaming in the dim emergency lighting, and casting long shadows on the walls, floors and ceilings.

At that instant, a loud explosion drowned out everything else. A large shadow filled the doorway and Tyr strolled into the corridor, the largest laser gun Richie had ever seen even in movies, draped over one massive shoulder.

"You certainly took your time," Beka greeted the newcomer.

"Did I miss anything," Tyr replied, unfazed by her belligerent angry attitude.

"The Maru is ready for docking. Were you followed?"

Methos risked a quick glance over his shoulder, "That would be a definite yes."

"Hurry then,' get aboard the Maru and take of," Tyr replied.

"Go." Beka ordered. She gave Richie and Methos a shove and indicated a barrel-shaped gold and black ship

"Maybe we should all leave, like, right now," Richie said.

"No one gets left behind on my watch," Beka insisted. "Harper is still in the slip stream drive trying to figure out how to get this gorgeous death trap moving again, and Dylan hasn't checked in and someone should go find him.

"I will retrieve them," Tyr offered.

The androids entered the docking bay, hurtling forward line linebackers in full blitz, forcing Beka and Tyr to back-pedal until the were backed up against the Maru's hull, the ramp to the door still down. Methos and Richie crouched just far back enough to provide covering fire. "This is nuts!" Richie griped. "The more we knock them down, they just keep getting back up."

"Keep firing!" Beka cried.

"What the hey?" Methos muttered.

Without warning, the androids came to a grinding, screeching halt, their limbs and dropping to their sides like puppets whose strings had been cut, and the whine of laser fire, harsh breathing, and smoldering metal came to a stand still.

"I don't know what happened, " Beka said over her shoulder to the other members or her small team, 'but let's not look a gift horse in the mouth,' if you'll pardon the cliché. Let's get the hell out of here."

"They were playing Wagner. That was the most fun I've had in months." Tyr said.


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