Part Two By: Me, Tato “Harlan, take it to 23 degrees starburd on the X axis,” Radu said from his post in his normal, dull tone, which was an immediate sign that the young Andromedan was bored out of his mind. Harlan glanced at his surroundings as he observed where he was. The last Harlan remembered, he was on the Christa through the spacial time rip. The next moment.... Harlan swung around and caught a glimpse of Radu who looked like he was nearly going to fall asleep at his post. Harlan grinned as he saw his young friend alive and well. “Boy, am I glad to see you...” Harlan mumbled, making it completely slip his mind that Radu’s Andromedan hearing could pick up what he had said. Radu looked up at Harlan. “Pardon?” Radu asked, slightly confused on why Harlan would say anything remotely like that for no apparent reason. One minute, Harlan had been telling Radu about the different techniques he used to piloting the ship, and the next moment, he was talking about how glad he was to see him! Radu hadn’t wanted to tell Harlan about how incredibly boring it was listening to the different ways of piloting a ship, seeming that he wasn’t going to do any of the piloting. He preferred to let Harlan speak for the time being. Once, Radu dozed off from Harlan’s ramblings, and had a hard time getting Harlan to forgive him for it. He didn’t find his friend boring, but some topics that were chosen were incredibly dull, and extremely hard to stay awake by. Especially if the previous night before, he had gotten absolutely no sleep whatsoever due to his comrades’ snoring. Now, Harlan had completely changed his tone and was claiming that he was glad to see him. Had he missed a crutial moment of time to where he needed to know what was going on in the conversation? “Oh...uh...nothing,” Harlan said, turning back around. He scolded himself for several minutes mentally. He should have KNOWN that Radu could hear anything beyond a whisper, and his voice was not an acception. No matter now. He had a mission to complete. It was then did he realize Bova and Rosie were in the same time frequency with the same mission to accomplish. Without a word, Harlan rushed out of the room, eager to find the two youths. If only he knew what a terrible mistake he had made: The first step to the death of his young Andromedan friend. Radu sighed heavily. Harlan was acting incredibly strange, stranger than usual, and he had just run out on command post duty. Radu only hoped Harlan would come back in time so Goddard wouldn’t bust him. Radu chuckled to himself. He remembered what had happened the time before when Harlan had been caught off duty. He not only had extra duty in place of his free time, but he had to help Ms Davenport out in class. That meant helping with the lesson plans and being the “teacher’s pet” for a time period of one month. It didn’t bother Harlan as much as it bothered Radu. After all, Harlan had spent most of his time with challenges of Minbar Chess with Radu. In other words, Radu was so incredibly bored, he had to sink as low as doing his homework and double-checking it in his spare time. As Radu drifted into his own land of deep thoughts, a light blinked on the communications post. But where was Rosie to handle it? Radu did know quite a bit about running the communications systems, but he was never sure which knob was which. What if he accidentally deleted the message? He would be to blame. Nevertheless, the blinking light bugged him somewhat. He had no choice. Making his way to the communications, he opened the frequency, practically leaping for joy when the screen showed Elmira’s face. “Elmira!!” he shouted, sending ringing vibrations throughout his own ears. “Hello. My father is-s us-sing my power-s for evil purpos-ses. Pleas-se help me. Go to the s-southern border territory. Hurry.” The message repeated itself over and over again. Radu only stood, shocked and dismayed. He didn’t know what do to! One impulse told him to change the coordinates of the ship immediately. Elmira could be hurt, or worse. She had said many times that she was too important for the Spung empire to be killed. But after the many times he had heard that, it never once crossed his mind that they could still keep her alive and torture her. She looked tired and worn in the visual on the large viewing screen, and she needed help immediately. But another instinct told him otherwise. If Elmira needed help, why wouldn’t she send it telepathically? She normally did, and she knew he would receive it. On the other hand, what if she was too weak to use her powers? Or what if her powers were gone? Anything was possible. Radu couldn’t help but wonder. He decided that, for the safety of the crew, he would go alone in a starling shuttle. It was the only way to go. Hastily, Radu exited the Command post, heading for a starling shuttle. There was no time to tell the others, he needed to save Elmira. He had to prepare what was to be done. If only his head had been in the right place at the time. If only he did a quick analyzing of the message and a careful observation, he would realize that it wasn’t Elmira’s voice at all, and only beared a close resemblance to her very own. If he had also noted that the hissing sounds on the ‘S’ gave another point to not being Elmira. Elmira had never hissed as a Spung, she hardly took after her race and her ways. If he had only realized that the message was only a way to end his own life. * * * * * * Rosie and Bova sat in the galley, dicussing their plans for the day. They had found themselves in the same positions as they were in the past. Both were completely clueless to what had already happened and what needed to happen. Bova and Rosie pondered their whereabouts nervously. This was their final chance to do something right. To fix things that once went wrong. But in order to do that, they needed a plan, and quickly. “What do we do, Bova?” I dont remember what I need to do, and what I dont,” Rosie said in a flustered tone. Rosie and Bova discovered earlier on, only seconds earlier, that there was only one problem they had never considered in their train of thought. They had completely forgotten what they had done wrong and what they did right. They had been so shattered by the tragedy of the deaths of their comrades, they had almost completely forgotten what they had done wrong that day. Bova shrugged in response to Rosie’s question, then spoke. “Well, for starters, we could get the medical kit ready,” Bova said shoving a strange looking food from a large, neon colored bowl into his mouth, then swallowing hard. For a moment, a look of strain came upon his face, as the food slowly made it’s way down his throat. But it quickly changed to his normal, sollem look after he finished swallowing the unique food. “Good idea, Bova! We probably wont need it. I mean, they wouldn’t even MAKE it to their stages if we do things right. But, just in case, you know?” she said, gathering equipment for the trip. As she packed things, she remembered that intriguing, frightening moment. She was working on a solvent for a Uranian allergy, when suddenly, the doors flew open with Harlan looking shaken. “Come on!! We need to save the Commander!” Harlan shouted, rushing into the medlab, quite out of breath. “But I dont have a kit ready!” Rosie protested, becoming flustered. “Just grab some stuff and hurry!” Harlan pressed on, “we dont have time!!” Rosie did just that. Unfortunately, she hadn’t brought the right things, and in consequence, caused the death of her superior officer. She shuddered from the memories, then continued concentrating on what to bring for their journey. “Yeah,” Bova said with a nod. “Okay, Commander Goddard suffered from--” “What am I suffering from?” Goddard asked curiously as he entered the room, arms folded, and a look of anguish to his face. “Uh...uh...” Rosie struggled to find something -- anything -- to say to the Commander. Bova only cracked a smile and nodded to Rosie. He could handle talking to Commander Goddard. He was an expert at lieing when it was necessary. This was his department area. “She was just telling me that she suspects ou may be coming up with an infection. Are you feeling sleepy?” “Well, slightly, but--” “Sore throat?” “Yes. Its really nothing. Just a small bug.” “Ah, but that’s how they all start out. Small bugs. Small bugs that get worse. MUCH worse. They soon become large bugs and turn into infections. It doesn’t take too long until it gets more serious. A coma. Then, death. You better come in for a check-up.” “I dont think that’s entirely necessary.” “Okay, fine. But if you die, it’s not my fault.” Bova then realized how horrifyingly real that statement was. There WAS a chance that Commander Goddard could die. He then felt a sudden reign of guilt pass over him. He hadn’t felt guilt many times. It was a strange and unpleasant sensation, aside from depression. However, he quickly pushed the strong emotion back and continued to play along with his role. Bova folded his arms and gave the commander an ashamed look, as if to be disappointed in not taking care of his health. “All right, if it’s just what the doctor ordered,” Goddard said with a sudden glance towards Rosie. “Guys!! Have you seen---Commander!! Hi!” Harlan said as he raced into the room and stopped dead in his tracks. This was it. He had blow it this time. He could feel his face burning up as he started to turn a marvelous shade of red. “What are you doing, Mister Band? You’re supposed to be at the Command Post.” “Uh...I uh...had...a cough!” “A cough?” Goddard questioned with disbelief. “Yeah...” Harlan then started to cough uncontrollably. Rosie giggled as she saw Harlan with his fake, horrendous coughing. “Very poor excuse, Mister Band,” Goddard said harshly, shaking his head. “Very poor excuse indeed. Get back to the Command Post. I will be there shortly.” Harlan sighed heavily. He desperately needed to speak with Bova and Rosie on their plans for the day. He had no time to worry about the Command Post. But something in the back of his mind started to crawl out, revealing his first mistake. The day had seemed like every other day for Harlan. He was telling Radu about flying the Christa. The subject had come up almost every day, and Harlan always had something to say about it. He never remembered HOW the subject was brought up, but it almost always was, and it gave him the excuse to do this favorite thing: talk. He glanced over to see a very bored looking Radu looking down upon his console; something he had done for too long. “Are you even listening?” Harlan asked, eying his young friend. “Uh...y-yeah! Of course I am!” Radu stuttered, guilt sinking in. “Sure, man,” Harlan said rolling his eyes. He quickly got up and headed for the door. “Where are you going?” Radu inquired curiously, his eyes following every move Harlan made. “Getting something to eat,” Harlan mumbled. “B-but we’re not supposed to leave!” Radu stated. “Relax, I’ll be back,” Harlan said, and quickly left. Radu sighed heavily, his eyes wandering. It was then did he notice a small blinking light on the communications console...... Harlan, his eyes widening, rushed away from the room and raced out the door. * * * * * * Radu dusted his hands off as he grinned boyishly. He had just finished getting the starling shuttle ready. “Now,” he said talking to himself, “what am I missing?” “Radu!!” Harlan shouted racing into the docking bay, very much out of breath. Harlan had been searching high and low for his Andromedan friend. He had finally found him....in the landing bay of the Christa. Radu froze for an instant, then whipped around. He let out a sigh of relief. “Geez, Harlan, you scared me!” Radu put his hand over his heart for a moment, then relaxed. “What are you doing?” Harlan inquired hastilly. “Uh...n-nothing,” Radu stammered. He couldn’t believe his terrible luck. He was so close, yet so far away from getting into that shuttle and taking off, leaving the Christa. He had to save Elmira, but he knew what would happen if Commander Goddard found out what he was doing. Goddard would insist on going through with it peacefully and carefully, and the tone in Elmira’s voice sounded like she needed help that instant. He wanted to leave as soon as possible. “Come on, let’s go back to the Command Post,” Harlan persisted, motioning for Radu to follow. Radu, slumping his shoulders in a slightly uncomfortable position, reluctantly obeyed. He would have to plan another time to leave. Perhaps after duty when no one would see him. Either way, his plans would remain the same. Later that day.... Suzee, Harlan, and Radu were sitting in the lounge area talking about nothing in particular. Harlan had dragged Radu away from the shuttle in an attempt to keep him busy so maybe he could forget the little expedition, or maybe even decide not to go at all. Harlan doubted Radu could ever forget anything like a message from Elmira, but it was his only hope. If Radu only knew about the reality of that message. Of who had sent it and what the purpose of sending the message was. Nothing had occured in Radu’s mind about the message. Elmira rarely sent message to save herself. She was too self-sacrificing. If only Radu knew that it wasn’t Elmira at all who had sent the message, but rather an old enemy and foe. In the lounge, Radu, Suzee, and Harlan had talked about many subjects during the past hour. Their homes, their families, the Starcademy, and even miscilaneous subjects like socks and what the true purpose was. Now they were on the topic of grades. “Harlan, how’d YOU do on that test Ms Davenport gave?” Suzee asked, eagerly waiting for a response. “I got a 97 percent,” Harlan boasted happily. Suzee grinned. “Oh, I guess she made it easy then.” “Hey!” Both Harlan and Suzee laughed. “What about you, Radu?” Suzee asked, drawing her attention to her young Andromedan friend. “Uh....it’s not important.” “Sure it is.” Radu sighed heavily. “68.” “A 68???” Suzee gasped. “Oh, wow, that’s bad.” Radu took in a deep breath. “I’m sorry I’m not a genius,” Radu said bitterly, as he felt both Harlan and Suzee’s eyes burning into his soul. “Excuse me?” Suzee asked, completely shocked from what she had just heard. Radu shook with utter fear of rejection, but his thoughts had already been shown. “I mean, I’m not a genius like you.” “Not everyone can be as smart as me,” Suzee said in a matter-of-factly tone. “...or as boastful...” Radu murmered. Unfotunately, Suzee heard. “This is NOT like you, Radu. If you dont want to talk to me, FINE. I’m out of here.” Slamming a small object that she had been toying with down, she stormed out of the room, enraged. “Geez, I cant believe you, Radu! Now you’ve made her mad! Good going!” Harlan scolded angrily. “What’s WITH you today?? Dont you even CARE about what you say to her?” “Radu’s heart sank as he heard the all too familiar tone from the past arguements ringing in his ears. He knew he shouldn’t have said anything to Suzee, but he hated being treated like an incompitant because of a few grades he had gotten. It seemed that Harlan was beginning to get extremely smart in Ms Davenport’s class, and it seemed to impress Suzee. Not that impressing Suzee was any importance to him. But he only wanted to be treated as an equal within the crew. When he was with Suzee, she talked to him as if he didn’t understand anything she said, which was entirely false. Harlan’s only mistakes for grades being low was his joking around and not turning in assignments and homework. He knew the material well enough, he only didn’t care to work for a higher grade, which, in all fairness of intelligence, he well deserved. But Harlan had no idea how it hurt Radu to hear the words he had heard only moments ago. Harlan hadn’t chided him since Catalina had disappeared, and they had become friends. Now, hearing them again, the pained words became sharp, piercing his soul. “I...I didn’t...I mean...” Radu couldn’t find the words to explain as he tried to hold in his hurt emotions. He looked down to his feet in a poor attempt to escape from his mistake. Harlan’s angry expression only showed his trembling emotions, making Radu more guilty looking and nervous. But the expression that had scared Radu into a sudden depression and guilt turned quickly to a sorrowful one. Harlan realized, to his surprise, another inaccuracy he had made. Hurting Radu like that would only urge him to go on his expedition and leave his crew for a dangerous mission. It would only press him on. Knowing Radu, he’d go find a way out of his misery. Elmira was a perfect solution to Radu. Harlan’s mission was to keep him on the ship. But his actions were only making matters worse. “Oh, I’m sorry, man. I didn’t mean to. I was--” “Forget it,” Radu said shaking his head. “I need some time to think.” And with that, Radu quickly left the room, leaving an ashamed Harlan to ponder his actions from that day. * * * * * * “Suzee?” Radu called out into the engine room in hopes of hearing her voice. For a moment, only echos of his voice were heard. Then, Suzee’s all too familiar voice, followed only seconds later after his. “Not now, Radu,” she said coldly, “I’m busy.” Radu turned and saw Suzee and Thelma talking. “Suzee, I’m sorry,” he said walking up to the ‘engineering genius’, “I didn’t mean to say anything like that. I...I was...” Radu’s voice started to crack as his emotions began to grow unstable. Suzee only shrugged. “Yeah, okay, Radu. Now, can we talk later?” she asked in an irritable voice. “S-sure,” he said with a nod. Radu exited the room. “Yeah...sure.” * * * * * * Harlan paced around nervously in the Rec room, scorning himself. “Why, oh, WHY did I have to yell at him?” he said to himself. He sighed heavily and slumped down onto the circular couch lifelessly. It was then did he hear the swish o the doors opening. He looked up, only to see Bova and Rosie discussing while strolling into the room. “Oh, hi, Harlan!” Rosie said cheerily, steering away from the massive argument that had been happening between her and Bova. “Where’s Radu?” she inqured curiously. Harlan hung his head low, and started cursing himself once again. “Uh-oh, trouble, right?” Bova guessed, not knowing how close to the truth he was. Harlan nodded gravely. “I tried to stop him, I dont know where he went...I...” Harlan stopped in mid-sentence. He couldn’t help but think that he caused the danger that Radu was in. “Look, Harlan,” Rosie said urgently, “ we have to pull this together. If he’s already left, then we HAVE to go get him!! Who KNOWS how far in the stages he’s in! And what if Commander Goddard finds out? We cant let him do what he did last time, or the SAME THING will happen!” Rosie shook Harlan lightly. “We know you feel bad about what happened. B-but this is our chance to CHANGE things! We cant pass this up, we just CANT.” Harlan stared at Rosie straight in the eye and smiled. “How do you do it, Rosie?” he asked gratefully. Harlan hopped to his feet and put the bravest look on his face that he could conjure up. “If I know Radu, he hasn’t wasted any time to leave. Quick Bova, set the coordinates for the outpost. Rosie, see if you can find Commander Goddard and tell him our plans. Watch him carefully.” “Whoa, where are you going?” Bova questioned, folding his arms. “I’m going to ask Ms Davenport about what she knows about Spung tactics. Knowing her, she’ll GLADLY spill the information without asking.” Harlan cracked a smile, then quickly rushed away, leaving Bova and Rosie to ponder their orders. * * * * * * Radu checked his life suport systems for the twentieth time as he headed for the coordinates Elmira stated. As he once again looked out into the wonderous stars, he could feel knots being tied in his stomach. Although what he was doing SEEMED right, he couldn’t help but feel guilty about what he was doing. He knew he should have told his friends, but he knew the normal routine. Commander Goddard would wait several days through planning. What was so hard about going in, getting her, and getting out? Harlan and Suzee seemed angry enough as it was, but he could only IMAGINE the looks on the faces if he told them about his expedition. Disbelieve and disgust shot to him from every direction; they’d only laugh or stare at him as if he were crazy. His friends had given him reassurance at times, and other times, discomfort. He felt nervous around them. Although they were his comrades, they also frightened him a bit. Harlan and Suzee both knew what they were doing -- most of the time -- and it made him wonder if he was doing things right. He couldn’t help but be unsure about his actions in front of them. Radu sighed heavily, and glanced back to the front view, shaking slightly. His heart began to race uncontrollably as he caught sight of the gigantic docking bay of the killcruiser. The nearer he got, the more nervous he became. Checking several read-outs, he shook his head. “Twenty minutes remaining,” he said to himself, setting the read-outs gently in the empty passenger’s seat. He sighed heavily. * * * * * * “Mister Band!” Commander Goddard said, walking briskly to the head console where Harlan sat, impatiently tapping his finger. “Commander! I thought you’d never get here!” Harlan said with a breath of relief. “What’s this I hear about Radu leaving the Christa? Why was I not informed about this?” he interrogated sternly. “Well...uh, we didn’t even know about it! We just found out.” “And how DID you find out?” Goddard asked, folding his arms. “Well, uh...Bova told me.” “And how did HE find out?” “Well, he just....he was going to check on all the starlings....and, he saw one was missing.” Harlan nodded his head, grinning at his brilliant excuse. “How did he know it was Radu?” Goddard asked suspiciously. “Well, uh...Commander, dont sweat the details! We need to get him back. He’s headed for Spung territory.” “And how did you know that?” Harlan grinned and punched in several commands for the Christa to take out. Seconds later, a message showed up on the screen. “It’s Elmira,” Goddard noted, now becoming extremely interested. “Yeah, and it tells the coordinates of WHERE to find her,” Harlan said in a matter-of-factly tone. “Why would she risk OUR lives for hers?” “Maybe it’s not her,” Harlan said casually. It then occured to him that his mindless guess could be all too true. “Commander,” he said quickly, before Goddard could respond, “do you think it’s possible to forge a message?” Goddard thought for a moment, then slowly nodded. “Yes, I suppose so.” “Do you think that maybe Shank made the message to trap us there?” Harlan proposed, growing excited that his idea could possibly be the answer. Goddard looked at Harlan and nodded. “We’re on the same wave link, Mister Band. How long will it take for you to get us there?” “The engines are running low, Commander. I cant take us to a hyper-jump. It’d take too much fuel up, and we’re low on it as it is. I was thinking that maybe I could go in one of the starlings while you guys catch up for reinforcements,” Harlan suggested, hoping the idea would be bought. “How much fuel do the starlings take?” Goddard asked, an idea forming in his mind. “About half as much,” Harlan said with a nod. “Hmm....Mister Band, set a course for sector 36-A on the border of Spung territory. In the mean time,” Goddard said, heading fo the door, “I’ll set up Starling 6. I’ll meet you there.” “Wait, Commander!” Harlan shouted. “What?” he asked, turning. “Dont you think that you should...have someone with you? I mean, even YOU cant take a Spung killcruiser.” “I’ll be fine, Mister Band. I need you to stay here. I’m only going in to get Radu, I’m not trying to overpower them.” “But--” “Not another word. That’s an order, Band.’ “But you dont know what can happe--” “I said, ‘that’s an order’.” Goddard glared at Harlan, waiting hesitantly for a look of understanding, then quickly left. * * * * * * Rosie and Bova sat cross-legged in the hallway of the Christa, waiting nervously. Bova had set the coordinates for the outpost, and Rosie had notified Commander Goddard of the details that were going on. When the Commander had learned of their plans, he became slightly angry about not being informed earlier, and lectured both about it. He had then ordered both youths to stay out into the hallway while he talked with Harlan about the entire situation. It had nearly been ten minutes, and there was still no sign of Commander Goddard OR Harlan leaving the room. There wasnt even a sign of an arguement, which, entertainment-wise, they needed. “What do you think they’re doing in there?” Rosie asked Bova, boredom and slight nervousness absorbing her mind. Bova shrugged, sighing. “Most likely arguing about the whole mess. What’s going to happen, Rosie? What if we DONT succeed, and we end up changing the future for the worst?” Rosie glanced at her depressed, young friend. His toned sounded like he was actually concerned about the entire ordeal. A worried expression was written on his face, and it was something that intrigued Rosie. Normally, he would hardly show his worried emotions, keeping them bundled up inside of him. Showing his true emotions was quite unusual, and although she did love to finally see what he was really feeling, she hardly knew what to say. “Well...I guess it’s in the hands of us,” Rosie said, shrugging. “I know we can do it.....I mean, we have the medical kit ready. And we did discover the problem sooner than we did last time. Maybe we’ll be able to help Radu this time,” she said, her perkiness growing weak. Bova nodded. “I hope so,” he murmured, looking at the floor. Silence prevailed, and the only thing left to do was to think. Both looked up at the sound of the swishing of the doors. Commander Goddard walked out with a side-glance towards Rosie and Bova. He briskly walked away, looking very much preoccupied. Rosie and Bova looked at eachother, hoping one another had the answer they were looking for to the unspoken question: What just happened? After moments of pondering, they both got up and entered the Command Post where Harlan was pacing. He saw both walking in and looked even more worried than before. “What’s wrong, Harlan?” Rosie inquired, noting the urgent expression on his face. “The Commander just left to get Starling 6 ready,” Harlan stated, as if doom had just struck his entire life. “He’s going to leave.” Bova’s jaw dropped open. “Didn’t you try and stop him??” he asked, shocked by the news. “Yeah, I asked if I could go instead. I asked if I could go WITH him. He denied me that offer. What are we going to do, guys??” Harlan asked, getting worked up. Rosie sighed and took a seat near the closest chair and burried her head in her hands. “I just dont know anymore,” she said with a sigh. “Come on, guys, dont give up!” Bova said, slightly angry at their negative tones. Wait a second, Bova thought quickly, this is odd.....I’m telling THEM not to give up?? He shook his head at the irony of it all. Normally, they would be telling him to keep their spirits high, and to cheer up. Now, he was being the perky one. But that was no matter, he needed a plan -- and quickly. “Look,” he said, catching both his comrades’ attention, “this is NO time to give up hope. Like you said, Rosie, we caught the flaw much earlier than before! We have a med kit ready, with everything we need! There’s no way we can go wrong! We already know where to go, we know how many gaurds there are, we KNOW all that stuff. Right now, we have to focus on doing things right, NOT on the past.....or we’ll all be doomed.” He glanced at his two comrades and sighed, shaking his head. They hardly looked perked up by his speech, and this caught him by surprise. He then turned to leave the room. Their down expressions were beginning to get him in a foul mood! “You’re right,” Harlan said, raising his head. “Yeah...we can do it!” Rosie said enthusiastically, getting back onto her feet. Bova turned and nodded in approval. “Good!! Now, stop being such a downer. That’s MY job!” Both grinned. “Come on,” Harlan said, gathering the two, “we’ve got work to do. Rosie, see if you can convince Commander Goddard to let you go along. Simply persuade that Radu may be injured and need your assistance, he wont be able to say no to that offer. Bova, follow me.” “Wait, Harlan! Where are we going!” Bova asked, chasing Harlan down. “You’ll see,” Harlan said hastily, and both left the room. A moment later, Rosie exited as well. * * * * * * To Be Continued....
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