...Mightier Than the Sword
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Locked Out

by Diana

Email: robinyj69@yahoo.ca

Just cause I can't get Harper outta my head, and I am currently hyped on chocolate I am writing this my first Andromeda fic. I do enjoy Harper/Trance set ups, and I think they work great together, but you won't be finding any of that here. The most you'll get from me is flirtations, if you even get that. I am strictly a Suspense/Adventure/Action writer, and I've been told I'm quite good at it. Although I've written many fanfictions for other shows, this is my first Andromeda fanfic. Hope you all enjoy. BTW - I have actually seen only 4 episodes of Andromeda, don't flame me if I get some facts wrong. Deal? Good.

Oh yeah. I don't own 'em. But you already knew that.

You wanna archive just tell me where it's going so I can stop by and say hello.

"Ow! Damn it!" He swore as he shielded his eyes from the flames.

Seamus Harper, genius extraordinaire, fixer of everything, chaser of sparkly purple babes, and all around good guy, was having a bad day. The latest installation of which was the console which had just more or less blown up in his face. He coughed several times and fanned away the smoke, hoping that Rommie would ask before she turned on the fire extinguishers, unlike last time.

So far the day was not going well. He had woken up from a night of restless sleep to find he was late for work and received a threatening glare from Tyr for not being around to fix his shower. He had also come to the end of the search for his favorite shirt, he found out Rommie had somehow shrunk it down four sizes while washing it and had disposed of it, hoping he wouldn't come looking for it. He had the first symptoms of a cold, which was definitely not good, especially for him, so he had begun to take medications in a hope to stop the cold before it escalated. It didn't seem to be working.

He was also swamped with repairs since they had run through an electric storm which had blown out a good number of systems. Worst of all though was that he was getting hardly anything done since he found it so hard to concentrate. He had been mortified to find out that they had run out of Sparky Colas and couldn't get a new shipment for over a week. Without the almost pure caffeine running through his veins it was almost impossible for Harper to accomplish anything. He felt groggy and unmotivated.

"Least it can't get any worse." Harper stated, just as the fire system kicked in and the room was filled with thick choking gas used to put out on ship fires. He thought to himself as he called for Andromeda.

"Rommie! Shut down fire safeties, there's no fire!" The gas stopped seeping into the room and Harper was left trying to clear his lungs. Rommie's hologram appeared as he began coughing.

"My sensors indicated a fire hazard." She said in her matter of factly way.

"Yeah, it was just this frigging console blowing up in my face. Nothing to concern yourself with."

Rommie suddenly seemed concerned, "Harper, you don't look very well. Are you getting enough sleep, or have you been pushing yourself too hard on these repairs?"

"It's just caffeine deprivation, I don't feel like my usual charming, genius, self without it. Plus these repairs are taking forever. I'll be okay though, once again, nothing serious." He repeated as he picked up the his tools and moved to another area that needed fixing. Andromeda seemed to accept and disappeared into her systems.

The repairs never seemed to end.

"You know Rommie, you may just be too much for one guy to handle. Even for a super genius such as myself." He said aloud as he worked away at the slipstream driver coils.

"Hmmm, I'll take that as a compliment." The voice echoed through out the room.

"You better." Harper packed away a few of his tools and headed out of Engineering. He needed another dose of whatever medication Trance had been giving him. He began coughing as he entered the Medical Bay, only further proof of his losing battle against his cold.

Trance smiled when he came in and didn't need to ask him what he needed, she knew that it was time his booster.

"Hello, Harper. How are you?" She asked making conversation.

Harper hopped up on the bed nearby, "Rotten. This could possibly be one of the worst days of my life." Of course it wasn't by a long shot since he had grown up with the atrocities of Earth but he hoped she knew it was a figure of speech.

"That bad huh?" Trance sympathized as she administered his medication.

"You don't know the half of it. In fact you don't know the third or even the fourth of it. And you know what? Just when I think things can't get any worse, they do."

Just then the ship lurched slightly. As if impacted with something.

"All hands to the bridge, we're under attack." Dylan's voice came over the comm.

Trance shot Harper an odd look before she headed out of medical with him behind her.

He thought to himself miserably.

"What'd I do now?" Harper asked immediately as he stepped onto the command deck followed by Trance. The ship suddenly lurched once more as it was hit forcibly once more.

"We've encountered a ship emitting a distress call. When we moved in closer they attacked." Dylan explained, ignoring Harper's comment.

"Shields at 50%." Rommie announced.

"Return fire. And try to hail them again." Dylan ordered.

Several shots were fired before Rommie appeared again, "Three direct hits, but they are very well shielded. Still ignoring our hails."

"We must launch an all out assault." Tyr insisted from behind his console.

"Yeah, before they make my job a lot harder." Harper commented as the ship shifted once more from another attack.

Dylan hesitated slightly but knew they were right, "Andromeda, power all weapons and fire when ready."

"Firing." The enemy ship was pummeled with the brunt of Andromeda's full defenses. The species obviously weren't idiots as they made a tactical retreat.

Beka sighed, "Well, that was interesting."

"I'd like to know why they attacked us. Anyone know what species they were?" Dylan enquired.

"Not a nice one?" Harper chimed in.

"I believe they are called the Hasisians. They are very highly advanced but not by their own developments. They are known for their attacks against other worlds, they then steal the race's technology and add it to their own. Normally killing anyone in their path." Rev Bem said solemnly, the others listened closely.

"Oh, that's not nice." Trance pointed out.

"Well, I guess we got off easy then."

"I would not be so sure, Dylan. I've heard that when they fail in an attack against a culture they usually return with a larger arsenal. We should assume the same will be done for us." Rev Bem added.

"We must prepare for attack." Tyr announced strongly.

"I agree. Rev, has anyone ever been able to reason with the Hasisians? Is there anyway for us to avoid another confrontation?"

"I have not heard of anyone who has reasoned with them. There are very few who even manage to survive their assaults." Rev explained.

"Well then, it looks like we may have to fight if they come back. Tyr, I want tactical reports and strategies. Harper I need everything running at top efficiency, we don't need anything unoperational if we fall under attack." Dylan ordered.

Harper nodded, but inwardly groaned, He thought to himself as he left command deck and headed for Engineering, wishing to get started right away.

An hour later Harper felt his eyelids droop, he struggled to force them open but it was a losing battle. He decided to rest his eyes for a few minutes and took off his outer shirt to use it as a pillow. He was asleep in seconds.


Harper bolted up and looked around frantically, "I wasn't asleep." He said automatically.

"Yes you were." Rommie replied, a smile hinting on her lips.

"Okay I was, so sue me." Harper wondered how long he'd been asleep, he didn't have a watch so had no way of knowing, but he felt better.

"Here." Rommie held out a hypo. "I brought you your medication, I didn't want to wake you to make you walk several decks to go get it."

"Oh, thanks." Harper took it graciously really wanting to get rid of his cold as soon as possible. "All this technology around us and there's still no sure-fire cure for the common cold." Harper complained as he swiftly started getting back to work. Rommie took back the hypo and left silently.

Shortly after Rommie left Rev Bem came in. "Hey, Rev. What's up?" Harper asked, not turning away from his work.

"Very little. I was curious as to your progress in the repairs."

"Ah, well I've only got a few things left to do and none of them are main systems so I'm almost finished." Harper explained, being very pleased with himself.

"Harper!" Dylan bellowed.

"That's me. The one and only, Seamus Harper, genius extraordinaire. I could've sworn I told you that already." Harper smirked.

"Rommie says you were asleep." Dylan accused him, he wasn't really mad, just curious as why he was napping when things needed to be done.

"Well, I was tired. And I've got this serious Sparky deprivation thing going on." Harper explained. "Not to mention that I'm sick and working like a dog. I think I'm entitled to rest every now and then." He felt somewhat defensive.

"Harper, calm down. I don't mind that you took a break and got some sleep, in fact I encourage it. You have been working hard. But I'd prefer it if you took your breaks in your quarters. This is not the best place to take a nap." Dylan said, gesturing to the many consoles Harper had open.

Harper looked suddenly sheepish, "Good point. Won't happen again. Naps are now strictly to be taken in bed."

Dylan smiled in understanding, "Alright then." He replied and promptly left.

Harper sighed, it had been kinda stupid to fall asleep in Engineering.

"Asleep on the job were we?" Rev enquired, having heard the conversation.

"It's no big deal. Besides, the floor's not all that hard." Rev left smiling as Harper began finishing up his repairs.

"Check it out. A *bed*!" Harper exclaimed to himself as he entered his quarters. He threw his toolbelt to the floor and collapsed, enjoying the comfort and security of the mattress and over fluffy pillows. He cuddled into the bed and sighed in relief. It wasn't that he wasn't getting enough sleep lately, he was just really exhausted with all that had happened. But the repairs were done and he didn't expect anything to break soon, the ship was in good shape. He only had to concentrate on getting over his cold and finding a new Sparky supply. Sleep overtook him easily.

Dylan sat on the bridge, thinking intently about the Hasisians. Rev was nearby monitoring the sensors.

"Rev, you say these Hasisians take other race's technology and add it to their own." Dylan asked.

"Yes, they have been known to board ships, take what they wish and leave the ship dead in space." Rev explained, with obvious unapproval in his voice.

"Hmm, but if they take the technology then integrate it into their systems it would be safe to think that they wouldn't know how to repair their own systems properly." Dylan thought aloud.

"Yes, I suppose it would."

Dylan took that into consideration. Rommie suddenly appeared beside him. "I'm experiencing several power surges in my system on decks 8, 9 and 10."

"Cause?" Dylan asked.

"Unknown. Most likely random fluxuations, I haven't had my systems totally overhauled in some time. The power discharge is most likely unbalanced." Rommie explained matter of factly.

"Tell Harper. He should take a look." Rommie nodded and fizzled away into thin air. She reappeared in Harper's quarters.

"Harper, I have several power...." She began speaking as soon as she appeared but stopped when she saw Harper sleeping peacefully, completely unaware of her presence. She considered waking him but noticed the obvious signs of exhaustion and decided to let him sleep, it was nothing serious. She disappeared again, when she was gone Harper smiled to himself. He thought as he drifted into oblivion once more.

Rommie reappeared beside Dylan. "Is he on it?" He asked.

"He was asleep, I didn't feel I should wake him. It's hardly a problem, just a slight annoyance."

"Well, he needs to sleep." Dylan said just as the ship lunged to the side. "But he won't be getting any just now. Everyone battlestations." Dylan ordered through the comm link.

Harper had the sensation of falling, at first he thought he was dreaming but then felt the accompanying sensation of hitting the ground and having the wind knocked out of him. He gasped for breath as the world spun around him. He looked up at his nice comfy bed and knew he wouldn't be returning for awhile.

"Why me? The minute I finish fixing all this stuff we run into some nasties who just wanna blow it all up again." Harper rambled as he got to feet and made his way to the Engine room. That was where stuff tended to blow up at the least opportune times. "Guy lays down to get forty winks and I'd be lucky if I got one and a half." The ship lurched again just as Harper entered Engineering. He ran over to a console and opened a link to a bridge.

"Hey, it'd make my life a lot easier if you guys would avoid getting us shot." He complained.

"We're working on it, Harper." Beka replied, "Just keep everything running down there."

"You got it boss lady." Harper felt his adrenaline rise and began to work. He didn't need to be told to find a way to get more power to the shields, every time they had a battle that was what they always wanted. He had back up generators ready and various other power sources at the ship's disposal if she needed more power. The ship lurched again and Harper turned his attention to the Slipstream Drive, it always seemed to take the brunt of these sort of attacks.

"Andromeda, why didn't we detect the ships?" Dylan bellowed from behind a console.

"The ships are capable of cloaking themselves. They were forced to drop shields to fire and that was when we first detected them."

"How many ships are out there?" Tyr asked as he made his way to the Command Deck.

"I'm detecting at least half a dozen and there may be more cloaked." Rommie replied. The ship was taking a pummeling.

"Alright, we're outta here. Beka." Dylan indicated the pilot's chair which Beka quickly took, ready to go to slipstream.

"Slipstream is unoperational. The aligners have become unstable, we could be ripped apart if we enter slipstream." Rommie explained.

"Evasive maneuvers. Harper, we need slipstream." Dylan announced over the comm.

"I know, I know. I'm working on it. I've got the back up shield power ready when you need it." Harper answered then cut the link.

"Shields at 20%."

"Guess we need it now." Dylan reinforced the shields with the back up Harper had prepared, moving them up to 50%. "How long Harper?"

"Seven minutes if you wanna get precise on me. I'll move faster if you'd stop calling me." He once more severed the com link.

"He has a point." Rev spoke up, agreeing with the Engineer.

"Alright, continue returning fire and feel free to input any suggestions." Dylan's voice had breached the calm barrier, but only slightly.

"Shields at 25%." Rommie announced. "One ship is pulling back, the rest are still in pursuit."

The ship lurched once more, but this time it felt different than the previous ones, "What was that?" Beka asked, still in the Slipstream chair.

"A ship has just docked. They are attempting to enter the ship."

"Don't let them." Dylan reopened the comm link, "Harper ..."

"What did I just say? I'm done when I'm done." Harper sounded slightly annoyed.

"We're being boarded." Dylan explained.

"Well, that's different then." Harper squirmed out from underneath the pile of wires he'd been working at. Consoles and panels were now exploding left and right and the attacks weren't relenting anytime soon.

The ship continued to be pounded by the attacking Hasisians.

"Shields failing." Rommie announced grimly. "The Hasisians have made it onboard."

"It seems we must bring the fight to them." Tyr powered up his force lance and headed off the bridge.

"Oh, this can't be good." Trance almost whimpered. Dylan and Beka both retrieved their forcelances and followed suit.

Down in Engineering, Harper knew a lost cause when he saw one. Half a dozen enemy ships, and they were being boarded. He really didn't like those odds.

"They can come onboard but there's no way I'm letting 'em get control of the strongest warship in the galaxy." Harper promised himself as he jacked into Andromeda's systems through his cerebral port. He was completely oblivious to the world around his physical body as he strolled through Andromeda's mainframe. He quickly began rearranging and locking out systems, leaving only life support and simple things such as door control untouched. Rommie appeared inside the mainframe.

"Harper, what are you doing?"

He didn't stop his work when he answered, "I'm locking out all major systems. I'm not gonna let these Hasisians take control over you if we don't win this."

"Sound reasoning. I appreciate it. Despite your lack of faith in our abilities."

"Rommie, do me a favor. Make sure the doors to Engineering are locked, I want as much time in here as possible."

It took Andromeda only a microsecond to comply.

Tyr, Dylan and Beka walked silently through Andromeda's halls. The barrage of weapons fire from the other ship had stopped when they had been boarded. Dylan motioned for them to stop as he beckoned Andromeda.

"Yes, Dylan."

"How many Hasisians are on board?" Dylan asked as he peaked around a corner cautiously.

"I'm detecting 25 individuals, moving in groups of five around the ship." She replied, although her hologram had never appeared.

"Okay, we stick together. Got it?" Beka and Tyr nodded in agreement as they followed Andromeda's instructions to the nearest group of invaders.

Rommie's image appeared onscreen, "Dylan. Harper is currently working to lock the Hasisians out of all major systems."

"Good, tell him to keep at it. But not to over-ride my access codes."

The trio came to a turn in the hallway and were told the Hasisians were on the other side, five of them. Dylan, Beka and Tyr stood ready against the wall and at Dylan's mark moved out of hiding and began firing on the Hasisians.

"Not good." Beka said as she got her first glimpse of the Hasisians. They were humanoid, but much taller. The largest of the five stood a head taller than Tyr. They were also very well built and Beka got the impression that the entire race was like that. Their eyes were deep slits with glowing red eyes and they all wore their hair long to their shoulders. They were otherwise basically human apart from the webbed fingers and elongated fingernails.

What really worried Beka though were the powerful looking weapons they held and the fact that they appeared to be ready for them and had been in wait. The three of them didn't back down though. They would protect their ship to their last breath if it came to that. They continued firing upon the Hasisians who began to fire back. They were not yet in close enough to engage in hand to hand battle. They took out one of the Hasisians but the remaining four weren't backing down.

"Pathetic humans, this is your resistance." One of the Hasisians mocked.

Tyr became enraged, "Who are you calling a human?" Tyr shot the Hasisian directly in the chest, sending him reeling to the floor unconscious. "Idiot."

Two of the remaining Hesisians continued firing but the third pulled some sort of weapon from a case he was carrying. The other two saw it and immediately backed away from it. Tyr, Dylan and Beka knew that wasn't good but before they could cover a huge flash erupted in the corridor and the trio found themselves bathed in a bright light, then only darkness. The weapon had in fact emitted a wide energy beam that had knocked out the three of them.

The remaining three Hasisians stood triumphantly over the unconscious bodies of Tyr, Dylan and Beka.

"Victory is ours!" The Hasisian with the weapon shouted with joy, just as all the lights in the corridor and throughout the entire deck suddenly went off. Leaving them in pitch black.

The Hasisians didn't know what was happening, one minute it was all systems go, the next they were shrouded in darkness. They didn't have long to think about it though before they were hit with a barrage of laser fire from the darkness.

"Take cover. There must be more of them." The lead Hasisian ordered. They all began firing into nothingness, hoping to hit their attackers. Little did they know their assailant was the ship itself. A number of Andromeda's weapons had been knocked out in the first part of the attack but the battle drones were functional and taking on the Hasisians that were onboard.

Harper continued locking out the systems, he even added a few electrical shock mechanisms so if anyone other than Andromeda's crew tried to use anything they'd be in for a 1000 watt surprise. He had been delayed though when he took time to reactivate the internal defenses and fix them up the best he could from inside the system. It also took skill and time to shut out a system to only a certain number of people and still keep the access codes functional.

"Rommie, how's it going on the front lines?" Harper asked as he worked.

"Dylan, Beka and Tyr are all unconscious, but their vital signs are strong. Trance is in Hydroponics, I believe she intends to guard her plants and Rev Bem is attempting to reach Dylan and the others." Rommie replied, "Half of the battle drones have been disabled and the internal defenses are still partially unoperational."

"Why am I not liking where this is going?" Harper asked rhetorically.

"There is also a group of Hasisians nearing your location. I suggest pulling out soon."

"Thanks for the advice babe, but I'm not done yet." Harper was very determined to do as much damage to these guys as possible.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the ship a Hasisian had managed to gain limited access through a main console. He couldn't control any systems but he was able to fulfill his objective. He downloaded a file into Andromeda's database. Namely a virus. They had stolen it from a practically defenseless race some time ago. It was used to shut down any form of Artificial Intelligience and had come in quite handy in the past. It could also override a large variety of security lockouts.

"Let's see you defend yourselves now." The large man grinned, very pleased with himself.

"Harper, they are at the door to Engineering. You must leave n ......" Rommie was cut off and then suddenly disappeared into thin air.

"Rommie!" Harper didn't know what had happened. He scanned the mainframe but it looked as though her database was simply gone. That was when he detected it, he could feel the virus in the system with him. "Oh no you don't." He located the virus, it was very complex and definitely state of the art. Harper did his best to combat it and managed to gain some ground on eliminating it when the virus detected him.

"Oh, sh*t." Harper felt himself rush back into reality as the virus kicked him out of the system. He knew he was back in Engineering and unjacked himself, without opening his eyes. He felt groggy and his head hurt. "God, this day has sucked, majorly." He looked up to see a group of Hasisians towering over him, guns pointed straight at his skull.

"Don't suppose you guys just want a tour do you? Cause we only have those on Fridays, but if you were to come back later I'd be glad to," The Hasisians pulled roughly to his feet. "Show you around now." Harper wasn't stupid and had a great instinct for survival, he placed his hands on his heads and walked in the direction he was being led.

He thought, trying to somehow look on the bright side. As soon as the thought crossed his mind he felt a sharp pain in the back of his head and the sensation of falling returned once more. This time it was followed by only darkness.

Dylan paced around the small two person cell. He didn't bother trying to test the forcefield that entrapped him, he knew it's strength and that it was still enforced. He had tried his access codes to drop the field as soon as the guard had left but they weren't responding. Nor was Rommie. Dylan had no idea what could have happened to Rommie, and why Harper hadn't kept his access codes functional.

He had woken up from the blast from the strange energy beam to find himself in the cell. At a quick glance he saw Rev and Tyr in the adjacent room and Beka and Trance next to them. There were also several more empty cells, the brig was built to hold a good number of people, although Dylan had no idea why.

Everyone assured him they were all right. Tyr had made a valiant attempt to break through the force field but to no avail. Dylan had been the last one to wake up and after looking around the room immediately realized they were one short.

"Where's Harper?" No one knew.

So they waited in silence, each trying to think of a way out of their predicament. After a few minutes the door opened and several guards came in.

"Harper!" Trance exclaimed when she saw the engineer with the Hasisians.

Two of the guards were practically carrying Harper, he seemed to be conscious but completely unaware of his surroundings. The guards aimed their weapons casually at Dylan as they let down the force field and threw Harper in, then left. Dylan caught the young engineer before he crashed into the floor.

"Harper, are you okay?" Dylan asked as he helped him stand.

"We should have just given them the tour." Harper replied, his gaze was wandering and unfocused. Dylan immediately checked for a head injury and wasn't surprised to find a large bump on his skull.

Dylan gently walked Harper over to the bed, "Why don't you just lay down for awhile." He suggested.

"Okay." Harper immediately complied and his legs fell out from underneath him. He fully intended to lay down on the floor of the cell and was now more or less unconscious.

Dylan sighed as he pulled Harper to his feet and placed him in the bed. He'd sleep it off shortly.

"Is he okay?" Trance asked worriedly from across the room.

"Yeah, I think he'll be fine. Looks like he just took a shot to the head." Dylan surmised.

"Those sons of ... When I get my hands on them." Beka was looking for some way to vent her frustration.

"Well as much as I agree with you Beka, that's not an option right now. We have to figure a way out of here first." Dylan explained.

"Locked in our own brig. There's somewhat of an irony to that. Didn't the little professor there, say he was locking out systems control? How were they able to gain access to the force grids and other areas?" Tyr pondered, shooting out questions no one knew the answer to.

"Why don't we just ask Harper?" Trance suggested. Thinking it was logical since he was the last one brought in.

Dylan thought about it for a moment before kneeling by Harper's side and gently slapping his cheek, "Harper, wake up. Come on, open your eyes."

Harper's eyes flickered open but still appeared glazed over, "What?" He asked weakly.

"Harper, what happened to Rommie? How did the Hasisians get control?"

"Rommie's gone." Harper replied as his eyelids began to shut once more.

Everyone was caught a little offguard by that response. Dylan shook Harper a little harder than necessary to keep him awake. "Harper, what do you mean gone?" Harper gave no response as his eyelids drooped once more. Dylan walked over to the sink in the cell and filled a glass with water, then threw it in Harper's face. He sat up with a sudden gasp.

"Holy sh*t! Since when does Andromeda's roof leak?" Harper asked, surprised. He looked around in confusion as he wiped the water from his eyes. "Where am I?"

"You're in the brig with the rest of us. You said something about Rommie disappearing."

"I did? Oh yeah, I was in the mainframe and she was telling me I should boot out then she was just gone. I looked for her but it was if her program was just wiped." Harper explained, he tried to stand up but when he did the world decided to start spinning around him, but everyone else seemed okay. He decided to sit down again and just hold his head until the little man with the sledgehammer got tired.

"Harper, you okay?" Dylan asked concerned.

"Yeah, my head just hurts like a bitch." Dylan went back over to the sink and filled another glass of water. Harper instinctively brought his arms up to shield himself.

"Hey, I'm awake. No need for another involuntary bath." Dylan rolled his eyes and handed Harper the glass.

"Drink it." Dylan ordered calmly. Harper did so.

"Rather have a Sparky." He said, barely audible.

"Harper, what else happened? AI's don't just disappear." Beka pointed out.

"There was a virus. And I mean a mega mondo super virus. This thing was state of the art, it kicked me out of the system before I could get rid of it. Then I looked up into the not so happy faces of a group of Hasisians." Harper rubbed the back of his neck where he had been struck earlier.

"So the virus gave them access to all the systems. Great, just great." Beka announced and began pacing her cell.

"Hey, what have I told you before? Trust in the Harper, the Harper is good." He smirked. "That virus may have been mega bad but it was no match for the Harper. There's no way they got full systems control. I put up some mother safeguards around those. They can't use weapons, they can't enter slipstream and they can't access any classified files." Harper announced proudly.

"Well, that's something. If they can't do anything with the ship they may just take her essential parts and leave her adrift in space." Dylan speculated.

"Rev, didn't you say they uh usually killed the people they steal technology from?" Trance asked, somewhat sheepishly.

"Yes, it is what the Hasisians are best known for." Rev replied.

"Oh, just wondering."

"Harper, if you could get back into the system do you think you could take out the virus, without Rommie's help?" Dylan asked.

Harper thought about if for a moment, "No prob, give me enough time. I may even be able to get Rommie back online. I don't think they wiped her out of the system, I think they just kinda supressed her so she couldn't do anything."

"Well, that would be wonderful. But how shall we get Master Harper back into Andromeda's systems?" Rev enquired.

"I'm thinking." Dylan announced as he began pacing once more.

Harper layed back down, his head still hurt, the others stood around pondering their next move. Several minutes passed in silence.

"Achoo!" Harper sneezed loudly, everyone just stared at him. "What? I'm sick."

Before anyone could reply the doors to the brig opened and several large gun toting Hasisians came in, they were followed by an unarmed Hasisian who looked to be very much in charge. The leader headed straight for Dylan and Harper's cell.

"I am Hylar Devet. I'm in charge of this operation. This is a very fine ship you used to have Captain."

"Dylan Hunt, of the Highguard Command. What do you want with my ship and crew?"

"Well, I've decided that the infamous Andromeda would be worth much more intact than as spare parts for our ships. I plan to command her myself. As for your crew, I haven't decided yet. You've undoubtedly made many enemies on your journey, I suspect there must be someone out there willing to pay a price for your head." Hylar grinned, well it looked like a grin it was hard to tell.

"Yes, there would be. But I think you'll find most our enemies are dead or across the galaxy." Dylan replied. His confidence never wavered.

"That's unimportant for the time being. We released a virus into your ship's system, it should have given us complete control, it hasn't."

"Well that's a real shame." Harper said sarcastically. The Hasisian glared at him and his red eyes glowed slightly brighter. Harper backed up slightly.

Hylar returned his attention to Dylan, "You will give me the access codes for this ship or I will kill your crew." It was obvious he was completely serious.

Dylan held his ground as firm as ever, "Well your virus must be very efficient then, my access codes are unfunctional. If they weren't, don't you think I would have used them by now."

Hylar seemed to accept this and nodded. "What's wrong, can't get the motor started. Maybe you should get out and push." Harper suggested with a cocky grin. The rest of the crew inwardly sighed, knowing Harper's mouth had a tendency to get him in trouble.

Hylar backed away from the force grid and motioned for his guards to keep their guns at ready. He then lowered the barrier. "Take the smaller one." He ordered calmly.

Harper visibly paled, knowing he was the smaller one, and backed as far into the cell as possible. These guys were big and meant business. "Hey, I was just joking. Don't you guys have humor where you come from?" The two guards grabbed Harper's arms roughly and wrenched them behind his back as they led him out of the cell. Harper turned to Dylan for some kind of help but he was held at close gun point with no chance of being missed if he tried anything. The rest of the crew were clearly worried and Tyr and Beka were becoming increasingly angry.

The guards hauled Harper from the cell and replaced the force field. He was brought face to face with Hylar. Well as close as possible since Hylar towered over Harper by at least a foot and half, as did most the other Hasisians. Harper thought to himself as he stared upwards into the eyes of the angry Hasisian.

"You are the one who sabotaged the ship." It was a statement, not a question.

"Who? Me? Now, do I look like the kinda guy who would know how to do something like that? Please, I grew up on Earth, you think I have any engineering capabilities whatsoever?" Harper tried to dissuade the large man, although he was hating not being able to gloat about his super genius.

"Yes, I do." Hylar twisted Harper's head to the side roughly, exposing his cerebral port. "I believe you know more than you're letting on." Harper opened his mouth to say something but was cut off by Hylar. "Do not deny it, my men saw you interfaced with the systems. Now you will fix the damage you did to this ship." He ordered sternly.

"How about, no!? Screw you pal, I'm not doing anything for you or your ugly pals." Hylar motioned almost imperceptively and the guards released Harper's arms. Then out of nowhere Hylar backfisted Harper hard across the jaw. He stumbled back and slammed into the wall. He knew that since there weren't any windows in this room, it probably wasn't a good thing that he was seeing stars. Hylar moved closer and grabbed Harper around the collar and slammed him into the wall again.

"You will repair this ship, or everyone of them will die. Shall we start with the females?" A guard drop the force field entrapping Beka and Trance and seemed prepared to shoot them then and there.

"No! I'll fix it." Harper shouted and sighed in relief when the guard backed off and reactivated the grid. Harper stared up into Hylar, his eyes showing fury, "But if you hurt one hair on their heads I swear I'll blow this ship up and make sure I take you with it."

Hylar grinned sadistically and then punched Harper hard in the stomach. Harper had the wind knocked out of him and doubled over. "Noted." Hylar said cruelly as he tossed Harper to two waiting guards. "Take him to Engineering and watch him closely." Harper was still gasping for air as the guards dragged him from the room.

"It takes a man of great strength to use his power to force those weaker than himself to do what he wishes." Tyr said calmly, obviously mocking the Hasisian leader.

"A Nietzschean, you're one to talk. Don't make me kill you." Hylar smirked confidently as he left, followed by his guards. The crew of the Andromeda was left to think over their current situation.

Trance sat down on her bed and whimpered softly, "Poor Harper." Beka instinctively sat down beside her.

"They won't hurt him, Trance. They need him to fix the ship." Dylan tried to reassure her.

"They already hurt him." She whispered. "Do you think he's really gonna fix the ship for them?"

"Knowing Harper he will most likely attempt to fool them somehow. I would wager he is more intent on finding a way to regain control of the ship than to actually fix it. And if it's true these Hasisians know next to nothing about advanced technology it would be a safe bet he would be able to delude them of his actions." Tyr explained, trying to think as Harper would, which was more difficult than it seemed.

Trance smiled, "Yeah, Harper will get us out." Everyone else remained silent.

Harper thought to himself as the two burly guards shoved him through the doors to Engineering. The guards watched him as they took up post at the doors. Harper sighed and found his toolbelt on the floor. He turned to his captors as he put it on.

"You want control over the systems or shall I make it so this place is actually functional first?" He asked, not wanting to get slapped around again if he fixed the wrong system.

The larger of the guards moved closer and got right in Harper's face, "Turn control over to us. We do not need the help of a human to get this ship operational."

"Okay. Chill." Harper put up his arms defensively and made his way over to the open console he used previously to get into Andromeda's systems. He thought as he sat on the floor and pulled a jack from his toolbelt. The guards followed him, watching his every move closely.

Harper plugged one end into the console and was about to go in when the guard suddenly aimed his weapon at him. "Whoa! What's your problem?!" Harper asked, not liking being targeted.

"What are you doing?" The guard demanded, unfamiliar with the technology of cerebral ports and sending your consciousness into a computer.

"Hey, you want control? Then I gotta go back in the system. As much of a super genius as I am, even I can't do it manually. Now, if you'll excuse me." Harper held up the jack for all to see then plugged himself into the system. His eyes rolled back and his body went limp as his consciousness left.

Harper walked around the ship's mainframe. "Rommie, you here?" He shouted into the dark abyss. No response. "Damn, guess it's just me and my super genius." Harper set to work immediately. He had created very specific safeguards around the slipstream and weapons controls, for anyone else it would have taken hours to bypass, he could have them down in close to half an hour. It took about that much time to take down the lock outs around the slipstream drive. He figured he could chance giving them control since the slipstream was offline and would take hours to fix. He had seen the damage in the middle of the attack. Weapons were a different story, he refused to make these guys one of the most unstoppable forces in the galaxy.

"Well, they've got propulsion, fat lot of good it does them though." Harper figured he could squeeze another hour or so into his time inside the system and say he'd spent it all to get slipstream back. "Now, Rommie. Where are they hiding you?" Harper needed to find where the virus had stored Andromeda's personality. For that, he needed to take out the virus at least partially.

"Okay, big bad and ugly. You got lucky last time but this time I'm kicking you out." Harper had a lot more time now and used it wisely. Instead of trying to disable it full on, he picked away at the virus bit by bit. He was definitely making ground but figured he should leave, his guards could be getting suspicious. He pulled out and looked up at his alarmed guards.

"Ya miss me?" Harper asked tentatively as he pulled the plug from his head. He looked up and saw Hylar had joined the guards and did not looked pleased with Harper.

"You better have transferred control of this ship over to me, or you'll be very sorry."

"Not exactly. You can control slipstream now, not that it's operational or anything. That's about all I've gotten around to." Harper found himself once more slammed against the wall.

"Well then I suggest you get back in there and turn *all* control over to me."

"Hey, I'd love to pal, really. But I just spent a couple of hours with my consciousness floating out of my body. Now, you can't just do something like that whenever you feel like it. I stay in there too long, or go in too frequently and my brain gets fried and my mind gets trapped in there. And trust me, you don't want me crawling around in there, I get bored easily. I may have to start rewiring things." Harper was lying of course but they didn't know that. He could stay in there indefinitely under the proper circumstances.

"Fine." Hylar released Harper, who immediately readjusted his shirt collar.

"Glad we understand each other. Now, you gonna take me back to my friends or what?" Harper asked, his voice sounded more commanding than he had meant it to.

"When will you be able to go back in?" Hylar sounded as though he was mocking Harper. Only really bad guys could change an ordinary sentence into a taunt so easily, they had lots of practice in doing so.

"I don't know. A couple hours." Harper told them, thinking they would bring him back to his cell. He really wanted to get some rest and his cold was getting worse, not that he was going to complain to his captors. While interfaced with a system Harper's body got no rest, despite it being inactive. If anything he felt more exhausted after being plugged in.

"Well then, that should give you plenty of time to get these engines operational." Hylar sneered.

"I thought your almighty crew was more than capable of fixing them without the help of a pathetic human?" Harper glared at the guards as he quoted them.

"I'm afraid my crew greatly over-estimates their engineering abilities. Besides, they are unfamiliar with the ship's systems, you are not. Now get to work, or I may become bored with you and your ship and take it out on your friends."

Harper glared at Hylar as he reluctantly set to work on the Slipstream Drive and once more yearned for a Sparky. Andromeda was always a big job, especially for one man. He also usually had nanobots and Rommie to help with repairs. He prepared himself for a very excruciating repair job.

Dylan paced in his cell, as did Beka. It had been more than two hours since Harper had been forcibly removed by the Hasisians. Every ten minutes or so Dylan would call for Rommie, hoping Harper had somehow gotten her back online. No such luck so far.

"Would you stop that incessant pacing, both of you?! You are making me dizzy." Tyr said to Dylan and Beka. They both immediately stopped, but still were clearly restless.

"It's just irritating. Not being able to do anything." Beka exclaimed, clenching her fists in an attempt to relieve some tension.

"You are doing as much as the rest of us. If there is nothing you can do, the obvious choice is to do nothing." Tyr pointed out, he was relieved that they had stopped pacing.

"You'd give up? Just like that?" Dylan questioned him, shocked by his behaviour.

"When an opportunity for escape presents itself I will take it, but until then I refuse to please our captors by pacing around like a caged tiger." Tyr replied, as calmly as ever.

Dylan sighed, he hated when he didn't have control of a situation. "I think we're all just a bit on edge here."

"Not to mention bored out of our skulls." Beka added.

Trance smiled brightly, "We could play a game, like eye spy. Or have a sing along. There must be something we all know."

Everyone groaned audibly, Trance's face sank. It was clear no one wanted to play. "Harper would play." She grumbled under her breath. Everyone felt a slight pang of guilt, knowing that indeed the young engineer most likely would play the game with her unhesitantly.

Dylan sighed again, "Okay, Trance. You go first."

Trance immediately brightened, "I eye spy with ... "

Harper worked on the engines as fast as possible. If his plan did work, which he really hoped it would, then functional engines would definitely be a good thing. The guards never took their eyes off him, but at least they had stopped questioning every move he made, apparently when Hylar made an order it was to be followed to the T. He had been working for hours, and would need at least two more to finish, he doubted he'd get that long. As he repaired the Aligners, which he'd been unable to fix in the initial fight, he tried to recall how much rest he'd gotten lately, hoping his fatigue was just in his mind.

In the morning he had woken up from an unrestful sleep of no more than six hours and then went to work, where he grudged on with his repairs for ten hours, with breaks every now and then and that ten minute nap he'd squeezed in. Then another hour of repairs before he went to his quarters for some actual rest, of which he got maybe five minutes. It had been eight hours since he was removed from the brig and put to work which brought Harper to the conclusion that he was totally exhausted.

"Achoo! Achoo!" Not to mention sick. Breathing was becoming more of a chore as his chest began to tighten, but Harper had had plenty of experience being sick and knew how to function that way. He sneezed again and this time turned away from the console, in the general direction of the guards. Even though they were halfway across the room the guards still backed up slightly when Harper sneezed in their direction. Harper noticed this and smiled to himself. He thought. But it was quite possible, they're race could be very susceptable to disease or just fear it altogether. Harper put that little tidbit of information in the back of his brain while he worked.

Shortly Hylar returned. "It has been six hours, you will reinterface with the computer and turn *all* control over to me." It wasn't a request, it was an order. Harper wasn't good with orders.

"I got a better idea." Harper jumped down from the console he'd been standing on.

"Don't test me human." Hylar warned him with hatred flaring in his eyes.

"Hey, all I meant was I'm gonna have the engines done in like half an hour, let me finish and you can start off to wherever it is you're headed while I'm interfaced getting the weapons online."

"You seem awful eager to participate." Hylar stated suspiciously.

"I'm sick, I'm tired, I've been working like a dog and I wanna see my friends, who you are practically holding at gunpoint over my head. So, yeah, I'm cooperating, I just wanna get this over with." Harper had been practicing that line in his head all day. Hylar seemed to accept this but once more got right in Harper's face.

"Fix the engines." He ordered then turned to leave.

"Aye, aye, Captain Fruitloop." Harper mumbled under his breath. Luckily the Hasisians didn't have very good hearing and missed his comment.

Harper got back to work and in little less than half an hour the engines were running smootly. "Oh Mr. High and Mighty, you can use Slip Stream now." Harper said as he patched through to the Command Deck. "If you even know how." He added after releasing the button.

"About time, now get to work on the weapons." Hylar commanded as he turned off the comm.

"Not even a thank-you, or good job. No one appreciates me ..." Harper stopped complaining when the guards began to converge on him. "Okay, okay, I'm on it." Harper walked resolutely over to the interface console and sat down.

"I know you'll miss me, but please try to contain your emotions." Harper smirked. Just before he plugged himself in Harper felt the ship lurch suddenly. The ship didn't move with it's natural flow it normally did, when Beka or even himself were piloting. He plugged in and allowed his consciousness to drift through the cyberworld.

"Oh, Rommie. Haven't dug yourself out yet have you?" No response. "*sigh* alone in your mainframe and not a soul in sight. Well except a big nasty virus." Harper set to work once more, the virus was deteriorating and Harper could tell it would disperse soon. After an hour or so Harper was done.

"Okay, one adjustment here, another adjustment there and ..." A bright light flashed inside the mainframe as the virus disappeared. "Rommie!" Harper exclaimed excitedly as the AI reappeared before his very eyes.

"Harper. What happened? I am detecting far too many Hasisians onboard and Dylan and the others are in the holding cells. I must go release them."

"No! Don't do anything, they'll know I fixed you. I got a plan." Harper explained.

Rommie crossed her arms, "I'm listening."

"Great, here's what we do."

As the guards hovered over Harper's still form they were forced to back away as sparks shot out from the interface console and Harper's cerebral port. Harper's eyes immediately shot open.

"Ow, ow, ow!" He yelled as he unplugged himself as quickly as possible. He leaned against the wall and rubbed at his neck gingerly, he had been slightly burned, but nothing too serious. "Do not go in there!" Harper warned the guards as if he thought they might decide they wanted to take a stroll through cyberspace.

The guards were not amused, they had automatically signalled Hylar when the sparks started.

"What happened?" One of the guards asked, no hint of concern for Harper's well being in his voice.

"I'll tell you what happened ... " Harper began when the doors suddenly opened and Hylar walked in, not looking happy.

Harper pointed a figure at him accusingly, "Your stupid virus has screwed up this ship's systems worse than I thought possible. All the systems are criss crossed, most of the consoles aren't responding, the reactors are almost completely shut down. I mean when you screw up, you screw up good. It's so fried in there I had to pull out to keep from being barbecued." Harper knew he was taking a big risk releasing his anger on Hylar but his plan had to work. He just needed Hylar distracted for a minute or two he knew this was the perfect way.

Hylar launched Harper into a bulkhead with all his strength. Harper flinched and had a sudden intake of breath, but refused to cry out.

"You will go back in there, *right now*! And I don't care how 'screwed up' those systems are. I want complete control over this ship in an hour." Hylar was completely serious and the red in his pupils even increased in radiance. Harper pretended to be intimidated, he was no longer going to be pushed around by this guy. Harper was playing him and he didn't even know it.

He looked up at Hylar defiantly but moved to replug himself in. He flinched as the jack went in, he had told Rommie not to shock him too bad, but it was still a bit tender around his cerebral port from the sparks. When Hylar left Harper was already roaming Andromeda's systems, with a well hidden grin on his face.

The crew's heart pounding game of eye spy was brought to an abrupt halt when the ship lurched suddenly as it entered slipstream.

"Seems as though Master Harper has repaired the Andromeda." Rev Bem observed.

"Well, the engines at least. I just hope he hasn't given them weapons control." Dylan said as the ship lurched unsteadily once more.

"They should highly consider working on their piloting skills." Tyr commented, not enjoying the bumpy ride.

"Agreed." Dylan added.

"Can we keep playing?" Trance asked, she had been winning a great deal at eye spy. Everyone sighed but agreed.

It was an hour later, and the crew had fallen into silence. Boredom and despair were winning out when suddenly the beautiful AI appeared before them.

"Hello, Dylan." Rommie greeted her captain as she dropped the force fields.

"Rommie, you're back online." Dylan smiled.

"Harper fixed you didn't he? I knew he could do it." Trance felt quite proud of her best friend.

"Yes, he did. He also has a plan to regain control of the ship and get all Hasisians offboard." Rommie explained.

"Great. What is it?" Beka inquired.

"I'll have to go into details later, but I believe it will work. Harper wants you all to go the Medical Bay. The deck is clear of Hasisians except for the two guards outside this door and internal weapons are offline. Harper says you're on your own to get rid of them."

"Shouldn't be too difficult." Tyr said, grinding his knuckles.

"Oh, Harper also wanted me to tell Tyr that he heard the Hasisians say that the Nietzscheans were one of the weakest species they'd ever encountered and offered little to no resistance when attacked." Rommie stated matter of factly.

"Is that so?" Tyr was fuming. Harper had told her to say that, he hadn't actually heard it but he knew an angry Tyr was a force to be reckoned with, even against two burly Hasisians.

Dylan and Tyr positioned themselves directly behind the door. Dylan motioned for Rommie to open the door and they lashed out at the guards before they knew what hit them. Dylan smashed one guard on the back of the head before he turned around then kneed him in the face as he doubled over, knocking him unconscious. Tyr spun the other guard around first and continually pounded his fists into the Hasisian's head, eventually knocking him out as he hit the deck.

Dylan was pleasantly surprised to find his force lance on one of the guards. He powered it up as Beka and Tyr took the guards' weapons.

"Rommie, how many Hasisians are onboard?" Dylan asked as they headed down the corridor.

"52." Rommie answered without appearing.

Dylan nodded, "Let's get to Medical, it's best to go along with Harper's plan, we can't possibly take them all out ourselves."

"I should like to try." Tyr told Dylan, while powering up his new weapon.

"Let's give Harper's plan a shot first, we may not have to resort to violence. But knowing Harper I doubt it." Dylan replied as they made it to the Medical Bay. They all walked in and the doors shut behind them, locking.

"Okay, Rommie. We're here. What's Harper's plan?" Beka asked impatiently.

Rommie reappeared in front of them, "Harper plans to render all the Hasisians onboard unconscious. Once they lose consciousness it will be a simple matter of physically removing them from the ship. I scanned the Hasisians to learn about their physiology, and Harper and I believe that if Arithon gas is vented throughout the ship than it will take less than thirty seconds to take effect on the Hasisians, rendering them completely harmless."

"A plausible plan. But why are we locked in the Medical Bay?" Tyr inquired.

"Arithon gas has been known to have unpleasant side effects when inhaled, every area of the ship, apart from the Medical Bay is going to be flooded with the gas. This is the best place for you all to be." Rommie replied.

"What kinda side effects?" Trance asked worriedly.

"Illness, such as fever, chills, severe headaches. Others have experienced temporary respiratory problems afterwards. Nothing you would like to experience. Just stay here and after I've vented the gas and then the decks are clear of it, it should be safe for you to emerge. I must speak to Harper first." With that note she disappeared.

"Well, I guess we just wait. Sounds like Harper's got this all planned out." Beka surmised, making herself comfortable on the Medical bed.

"Yes, I must admit I'm surprised. When Rommie said Harper had a plan I was certain it would be centered around blowing up the Hasisians." Dylan added.

"There is always time for that afterwards." Tyr commented casually, receiving a nasty glare from Dylan.

Trance frowned, something bothered her about Harper's plan, "Guys. If the Arithon gas is really that bad then won't it have side effects on the Hasisians too?"

"Not like they don't deserve it. But they're physiology different from ours, there's no telling what may happen to them but Rommie's not programmed to kill so it couldn't be anything life threatening to them." Beka said.

Trance still shifted restlessly, "What about Harper? Rommie said the gas is being vented everywhere but here. If he's not here won't he be affected too?"

Realization dawned on everyone's face.

"He wouldn't do what I think he's gonna do, would he?" Dylan asked, unsure of Harper's motives.

"Oh, yes he would. If it meant getting these guys off the ship he definitely would." Beka assured him. "That little psycho, he's gonna shut us in here safe and sound while he risks his life. When I get my hands on him, I'll kill him myself for his self-righteousness. When the Hell did he get that?"

"Maybe he has a plan. You know, he knows somewhere he can go to not be effected, or he just won't breathe or something." Trance suggested.

"It's a possibility but I want to know for sure. If Harper's putting himself in harm's way then we'll find another way to get the ship back. Rommie!" Dylan beckoned the AI. He got no response. "Andromeda!" He called out again. "Why isn't she responding?"

When Harper re-entered her system, Rommie knew that it was time to put their plan to work. Harper seemed anxious as he approached her.

"You shocked me way more than you needed." He complained immediately.

"You said to make it realistic."

Harper couldn't contend with that logic, "You get Dylan and the others out?"

"Yes, they're all safely locked in Medical Bay. Harper are you sure this is wise? There has to be another way." Rommie pleaded.

"I'm positive. These guards haven't left my side for a second since they've come onboard, there's no way for me to get them off my back. And there may very well be another way, but neither of us can think of one right now and Hylar is gonna get really pissed if he doesn't get control soon, so either way I'm screwed. I prefer this way." Harper smirked, he was just glad he was going to be able to get the drop on Hylar.

"I'm still not sure I'm willing to go along with this. You could be seriously hurt in this endeavour."

"Look Rommie, I'm touched, really, but I'm sure this is the right thing to do. Don't make me reprogram you to make you do this, I really hate doing that. I'll hold my breath, I promise." Harper put his hand up in a bad version of scout's honor.

"I will be venting the gas for thirty seconds and then it may take an additional minute to clear it from the deck." Rommie told him, not knowing how long he could hold his breath.

"Yeah, I can do that." Harper assured her although he knew he probably couldn't. His breathing was labored as it was thanks to his ever increasing cold and a minute and a half suddenly seemed like a lifetime.

"Harper, Dylan is requesting my presence. I believe they want to be let out of Medical Bay."

"Don't let them. No matter what. I'm gonna cut off the link now, start venting the gas a few seconds after I log out. Wish me luck." Harper smirked as he disappeared from the mainframe.

"Good luck." Rommie said to herself, then waited a few moments and began venting the Arithon gas.

Harper felt his consciousness return but kept his eyes closed and made no movements to indicate his consciousness. He took several deep breaths, filling his lungs with as much oxygen as possible. He heard a hissing noise which could only be gas being pumped into the room, he took one last deep breath and held it. He silently began counting in his head.

1, 2, 3, 4,

"What's going on?" He heard one of the guards.

5, 6, 7, 8,

There were sounds of movements and then only the hacking coughs of the Hasisians.

9, 10, 11, 12,

He heard them gasp for air and finally felt the floor tremor as they collapsed.

13, 14, 15, 16, 17,

Harper tried to concentrate on holding his breath. He felt the ship suddenly lurch.

18, 19, 20, 21, 22

His first thought was that something had gone wrong, but then he realized whoever was piloting through the slipstream had probably just fallen unconscious.

23, 24, 25, 26,

He felt his chest tighten and could feel his heart desperately yearning for fresh oxygen.

27, 28, 29, 30,

He could hear the gas had stopped venting into the room.

31, 32, 33, 34,

35, 36, 37, 38, 39,

40, 41, 42, 43,

44, 45, 46, 47,

"What's that noise?" Trance asked looking around the room. The others listened as well. They had been unable to force the door open in any way and Andromeda refused to answer any requests of her presence.

"It's gas being vented." Rev replied as he identified the sound.

"Dammit! I'm gonna kill him. I'm gonna have a serious talk with our AI too." Beka fumed as she paced around the Medical Deck.

"I suppose there's nothing we can do now but wait." Rev surmised as he pondered their predicament.

"Trance, get any medical supplies you may need to treat exposure to Arithon gas ready. Once it's safe to leave we're going to get directly to Harper." Dylan ordered, thinking it was the best they could currently do. Trance immediately began to get all the supplies ready. The others waited impatiently for the doors to open, knowing it wouldn't be long.

50, 51, 52

53, 54, 55,

Harper laid down on the floor, trying to get as low as possible. He pulled his shirt to his mouth in a poor attempt for an air filter and breathed in.

56, 57, 58,

As soon as the first rush of air hit his lungs he began to cough violently. The gas burned, but Harper kept his head low still needing the little air in the room.

59, 60, 61, 62,

63, 64, 65, 66,

67, 68, 69, 70,

Harper tried to look on the bright side as the gas kept up it's nonstop assault on his lungs. He continued to cough violently but could feel a difference in the air he took in. It was cleaner. But far from being pure yet.

71, 72, 73, 74,

Harper's coughing became violent as he felt his lungs would soon burn through his chest.

75, 76, 77, 78,

The air became much cleaner. The pain in his chest didn't go away, but it didn't worsen with each attempted breath either.

79, 80, 81, 82,

Harper was pretty sure he was breathing pure oxygen now, but there was no way to tell with the searing pain still in his lungs.

83, 84, 85,

Rommie appeared beside Harper looking very concerned. "The gas is gone."

Harper's coughing didn't relent though, his speech was slurred and almost unaudible, "Only .. eighty .. five .. seconds..."

"I sped up the venting. You have to get to Medical Deck immediately." Rommie was in holographic form and her avatar was offline so could offer no support. She was forced to watch as Harper only managed to nod in agreement.

"Beka .... Dylan ..." Harper managed to get out, intending to ask if they were all okay.

"They're all fine. They were locked safely in the Medical Bay when the gas was vented."

Harper smiled through his cough and stumbled out of Engineering. He could still feel the gas in his lungs and would have signed a deal with the devil for a drink of water to quench the flames in his chest. His cough never abated as he tried to get down the corridor, he stopped and leant against the wall for support.


Harper ducked to the floor as the the hallway was filled with weapons fire. Several shots rang out over his head. He looked up and saw Hylar standing at the end of the hallway, rifle charged and looking none the worse for wear.

Harper got up and made his way back to Engineering as fast as possible, which isn't very fast when you feel like you're going to cough up a lung.

Hylar laughed maniacally as he followed Harper and made his way to the door of Engineering.

"Not a bad try, human! I'm actually impressed. Too bad you didn't know a Hasisian can hold his breath for up to three minutes, or else you may have vented the gas a bit longer. I only wish my crew had been smart enough to realize this before trying to fight against the gas as they inhaled it." Hylar taunted as he approached the doorway.

"Rommie ... lock doors." Harper squeaked out, just before Hylar entered and practically got his foot caught in the door. Harper could hear Hylar at the other side of the door, pounding on it for all he was worth. The pounding quickly changed to laser fire as Hylar attempted to shoot down the door.

Harper was beat. The last twenty-four hours seemed to catch up to him all at once. He leaned against the wall, no longer able to support his own weight and slid down the wall as the hacking cough persisted.

Harper thought as he dropped his head to his knees. He heard the sound of the metal door clenching and knew Hylar had shot his way through. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of a force lance, it was far different than the energy discharge of the Hasisian weapons.

He used the last of his depleted strength and lifted his head. He smiled genuinely as he saw one of the most beautiful things in his life.

Beka stood in the doorway, appearing like a giant, forcelance in hand. The light from the hallway cast a shadow on her body, making her appear to be no more than a silhouette. She visually scanned the room until her eyes came to rest on the young engineer crouched on the floor. She knelt down in front of him to make them face to face.

"Seamus Zelazny Harper, I don't know whether to kiss you or kill you." She looked at him with a mixture of concern and pride.

"Please ..(cough) .. kill me." Harper requested with a slight smile as he was victim to another bout of severe coughs.

"Well that's what you get for trying to be a hero." Beka extended her arm and helped Harper to his feet and also supported most of his weight. "Which you are by the way, but don't let it go to your head."

Tyr stood in wait in the hallway, forcelance in hand as well.

"It appears he was the only one who did not fall victim to the gas." He stated, indicating Hylar's prone body. "And you .." Tyr took a seemingly menacing step towards Harper then clasped his shoulder almost fondly, "Well done Little Professor."

Harper smiled and forced himself to always remember the last few moments just as his coughing became increasingly worse. He fell to his knees and everything from then on was darkness.

Harper looked around his surroundings to find himself somewhere very familiar. He was in the Medical Deck, again. He felt much better than before, but his chest was still tight when he breathed and the burning sensation had numbed down to a few sparks. He saw Trance with her back to him messing around with the medical supplies. He involuntarily coughed, causing her to turn around. She smiled broadly.

"Bout time you woke up, sleepyhead. A few more hours and I could have pronounced you clinically dead." She joked.

"You wouldn't be far off. So, what's the diagnosis Dr. Sparkly Purple Babe?" Harper asked, as he sat up.

"Well, let's see." She picked up a flexi that held the list of what Harper had been treated for, "Physical exhaustion, some slight burns around your cerebral port, I don't know how you got those, you contracted a high fever while you were asleep, which broke last night, it's gonna be harder to breath for awhile, your lungs have to recover from the Arithon gas and you can expect to have a few headaches, ranging from bad to very bad. If that happens just take this," She handed Harper a hypo, "and it should go away in a few minutes. You'll also be staying in the Medical Bay for a few more days, I could probably release you in tomorrow but I like watching Tyr try to fix things. It's quite entertaining."

"No prob, Trance. I'll be happy to relax in Medical a few days. I have been meaning to catch up on my sleep. But I'd love to see Tyr's adventure in Engineering." Harper smiled at the thought.

"Not if you wanna stay in one piece you don't." Harper and Trance looked up to see Dylan and Beka had joined them, "It's very dangerous to go near a Nietzschean who can't get something to work, especially when the traditional method of hitting it isn't working." Beka continued.

"Hey guys. Please tell me those idiots didn't do any permanent damage to Rommie's systems." Harper pleaded, his eyes showing that he didn't want to spend the next month fixing up the systems.

"Nothing too serious. We're still operational." Dylan replied as he and Beka took a spot near a Harper's bed.

"What'd you do with the intruders from Hell, anyway?"

"We put them back on their ship and sent them on their way," Beka replied calmly, Harper stared at her in shock. No retaliation? Beka saw the look on his face and smiled. "That is with only enough power to maintain life support and most of the essential parts taken from their ship. They should be adrift for several months before anyone finds them."

Harper laughed but it soon turned into a coughing fit. Trance quickly filled a glass of water and gave it to him. He drank it greedily. "Thanks." He managed to get out.

"Maybe we should all let you get your rest." Dylan suggested, motioning for Trance and Beka to leave with him.

Harper did feel tired so didn't protest as they filed out of the room. He scanned the room visually and called out just as Trance's tail disappeared from view.

"Hey! Where are all the "Get Well Soon" presents?" In the next room Dylan and Beka rolled their eyes and didn't reply. Harper just mumbled under his breath as he sunk into the bed.

"Not even a card." He sulked.

"I think he'll be fine." Beka stated.

"He'll be more than fine, he's never gonna let us drop this. Like he needed an ego boost." Dylan commented just as they were about to walk out.

"Damn right." Harper had heard them and called out again from the next room. "You know I'm not always gonna be their to save your butts. After three hundred years you'd think you could take better care of yourself. I can't just go rescue you guys every time ..."

"Go to sleep!" Dylan and Beka bellowed simultaneously and finally left.

Harper pulled the covers up but continued muttering to himself. "Some people are so unappreciative. I risk my life for them and this is the thanks I get. No thanks at all. The least they could of done was got me a fruit basket." Harper looked up and saw Trance coming back in with her hands behind her back. She brought them in front of her and handed Harper the present.

"Trance you're the best." She just smiled as she made her way out of the Med Deck once more. Harper cheerfully unwrapped the basket and inspected the assortment of fruits, then snuggled back into sleep, after placing the fruit basket safely on the floor.

The End

Thank you for reading Diana's fic. She is an avid collector of feedback actually, she keeps it all in a box. She'll take old feedback, new feedback even used feedback. No feedback will be turned down. Diana wants to hear from you at robinyj69@yahoo.ca , her inbox is always open. And she may not write more if you don't send her any. This is your only warning.

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