Michelle Pichette


Chapter 62



* * *

     Captain Crane was seriously tired of the current state of affairs and wanted it to be over with one way or another.  The three aliens in the room were standing in the same spots that they had occupied since bringing everyone here hours ago.  Most of the men were sitting on the floor.  Cookie had given everyone something to eat, but everyone picked at the meal, giving anxious looks at their guards.  The aliens were like statues, unmoving, watching over the room, seemingly not caring what anyone did as long as they didn’t try to leave.

     “I could throw a pan of oil on one and then a match,” Cookie had offered quietly at one point, but Lee had shaken his head at the idea.  They didn’t have enough oil here in the room to douse all three of their guards and even if they did, Lee was fairly certain that the smoke alarms and other noise would bring more of the aliens down on them.  Lee had seen several more of the beings pass by the open cabin door, so he knew there were more aboard the Seaview, probably a lot more since some of the aliens would be occupied with guarding the rest of the crew.  Unless everyone else was dead, he thought a little grimly, but then pushed the thought from his mind.  He had to believe the rest of the crew was fine until he had evidence to the contrary.

     The Seaview shuddered at one point and several of the men that were standing were tossed to the deck.  The aliens swayed with the movement, but otherwise did not react to the vessel’s shaking.  The trembling lasted for several minutes and Lee looked around himself at where the nearest bulkheads were with concern as the hull groaned audibly.  Something was happening, but he had no clue what.  He wanted to get a status report, wanted to know if the Seaview was taking damage, but their guards looked undisturbed by the rather ominous sounding things going on around them and so he could do nothing.  As suddenly as the shaking and sounds started, they stopped again, then all fell into silence.  Lee didn’t know what to think at that point, but he didn’t think any of what had happened boded well.

     Not long after, a din arose from somewhere nearby.  There were shouts and what sounded like some sort of weapon’s fire and some crashes and general mayhem.  To Lee’s surprise, none of the guards in the room reacted to this any more than they had reacted to the Seaview shaking.  They stood perfectly still, guarding the people in the room right up until the time that a huge, dark skinned man strode into the room, snapped the neck of the nearest alien, lifted a metal tube at another and shot some sort of energy burst while demanding, “Stay down!”  This was probably directed to everyone except the aliens, since the one that the energy beam struck glowed for a moment, then disintegrated into a pile of smoking black ash.  The third alien began to rush toward the huge man, but was greeted with another blast from the weapon.  At the same instant, the first alien, his head hanging at an impossible angle from his plainly shattered neck, rose up from the floor behind their rescuer, but before Lee or anyone else could shout a warning, the large man turned to him and deftly dodged the blow directed at his head.  Growling, the huge man swung back at the alien, sending him back to the ground, where he was dealt with as had his fellow guards.

     Lee looked at the new arrival in shock.  The man was large and muscular, with long, braided, black hair which was tied back.  He looked human, but something told Lee that he wasn’t, at least not entirely.  He wore a skin tight chain mail vest which left his arms bare except some gauntlets.  These had boney spikes sticking out of them.  Lee thought they were some sort of weird decoration until he saw them flutter and he realized they were part of the man’s arms.  The man looked imperiously around the room and snarled, “Would any of you be Captain Lee Crane?”

     Lee didn’t know if they’d just gone from bad to worse, but he stood up, squaring his shoulders as he looked into the man’s impassive brown eyes and said, “I am.”

     The man raised an eyebrow and stated, “I am Tyr Anasazi out of Victoria by Barbarossa, Weapons Officer of the Andromeda Ascendant, High Guard Heavy Cruiser of the Line.  Your presence is requested on the Command Deck of this vessel by your Admiral Nelson and Captain Dylan Hunt, also of the Andromeda Ascendant.  I have also been instructed to give you these.”  He tossed a pack to Lee then said, “You point them at what you want destroyed and press this, then this and this” he held up the tube that he had used to disintegrate the aliens and indicated a line of buttons on it, pointing at three in turn, “and what you are aiming at won’t trouble you further.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have vermin to exterminate.”  And with that, he turned and left the room, marching off, most likely hunting down more of the aliens.

     That’s Tyr?” Ro asked, sounding baffled.

     Lee turned to her, rather surprised himself.  “You know who that was?”

     “Harper talked about a Tyr who served on the Andromeda with him,” Ro replied, still sounding confused.  “Tyr just said that he’s the Weapon’s Officer of the Andromeda Ascendant, didn’t he?”

     Lee nodded, starting to put some pieces of this together himself.  “And Harper said that Dylan Hunt was the Captain of the Andromeda,” he continued, then yanked opened the bag.  Inside were more of the tube shaped weapons that Anasazi had destroyed the aliens with.  “Patterson, did you see how he said to activate these weapons?” Lee asked, pulling one of them out of the bag and looking it over more closely.  It was surprisingly heavy for a tube and Lee wondered what happened if a different combination of buttons was hit.  He glanced at the still lightly smoking piles of ash and decided he didn’t need to know that badly.

     “Yes, sir,” Patterson said coming over to him.

     “Good.  Give these out with instructions, but... be selective,” Lee said, nodding meaningfully at one of the piles of ash.  The last thing he needed was for someone with an itchy trigger finger to wipe out a crew mate.

     Patterson nodded somberly, saying, “Yes, sir,” and started to turn away.  Ro relieved him of one of the weapons before he could finish, but he didn’t argue the matter with her.

     “If that was Tyr, I can’t wait to see what Captain Hunt looks like,” Ro commented as Patterson moved off into a crowd of waiting men.

     “Then let’s go take a look at him,” Lee said.  “Mister O’Brien, can you take charge here?  I want you to set up search parties of whoever is armed with these,” he hefted his own rod up, “and I want this boat searched from stem to stern.  If you find Mister Anasazi or anyone else that doesn’t look like those grey skinned things, I wanted them escorted to the Control Room immediately.  I think we can take care of things now.”

     “Yes, sir,” O’Brien said with a wide grin and nodding with a wince.  His neck was bruised and probably hurt like hell, but that wasn’t going to slow the man down now that he had a weapon in hand and the knowledge that it would work against the invaders.  Lee didn’t worry about leaving O’Brien in charge at all and marched off to the Control Room to see what was waiting for him there.

     “Do you think the Admiral got through to the Institute somehow and Harper contacted his old ship to get us some help?” Ro asked as she marched right along with him.  

     “I don’t think that Anasazi person was human,” Lee said, his face grim.

     Ro’s brow knit.  “He looked like a huge African American man to me.”

     “Those boney things on his forearms, they were part of him,” Lee told her.  “I don’t think he is from America or Africa.  I don’t even think he’s from Earth.  Harper... do you suppose he’s not from Earth either?  Is that why he seemed so strange to us?”

     Ro looked perplexed, but seemed to shrug it off.  “Harper’s human.  Doctor Jamieson would have known if he wasn’t.”

     “Unless he isn’t and that’s why Jamieson agreed to treat him rather than sending him to a hospital when he nearly died,” Lee suggested.  “He’s from the future, in any case.  Dom told me that much and the Admiral confirmed it.  That Andromeda Ascendant is the ship he served on in the future.  So how are Anasazi and Hunt here?  Or did the aliens pull us into the future somehow?”

     Ro suddenly looked like she had gotten a headache.  “I think we need to talk to the Admiral and this Dylan Hunt person and get to the bottom of this,” she said.  “I wonder if Dom is with them.  She ought to hear this.  After all, she’s engaged to the possible alien from the future.  Wait.  She wouldn’t have had time to make it to the nose before everything went nuts, which is why she wasn’t with you and the rest of the Control Room watch.  I didn’t think about it until now, but I know that she would have probably hidden out somewhere, but where is she supposed to hide in case of aliens, whether they’re from the future or not?”

     Lee shook his head.  “I don’t know.  It’s probably just as well.  The alien leader was looking for her and I could honestly say that I didn’t know where she was.  I’m hoping she’s with the Admiral, otherwise I’ll have Patterson go find her.  After all, he’s the one that told her where to hide if things got hairy.  I’m sure she’s fine.”  Ro seemed unconvinced.  She frowned and hurried their pace a little.  Lee noticed several more smoldering piles of ash along the way and wondered exactly how many aliens were dead and how many were still around.

     As they stepped into the Control Room, the Admiral and a tall, strong looking man with brown hair and blue eyes turned to them.  They were both holding the tube weapons and wearing some sort of dark grey armor.  “Lee,” the Admiral said with a relieved smile.  “I thought you would be here.”

     “The aliens moved us,” Lee said, looking the stranger up and down.  He didn’t have the boney things coming out of his arms and looked human, but that didn’t mean anything.  “Tyr Anasazi said that you would be here with a Captain Hunt,” Lee said, giving Hunt a suspicious look.

     “That would be me,” Hunt said with a soft smile.  His voice sounded strange, almost like it was echoing, but he extended a hand and continued, “Dylan Hunt, Captain of the Andromeda Ascendant.”  Lee took the man’s hand, but was still not at all sure he trusted this person.  The timing of his arrival was certainly suspect.

     “Rowena Simmons, Chief Engineer,” Ro introduced herself, making no effort to hide the fact that she was looking the man over carefully.  “After what Harper had to say about you, I half expected you to glow with a heroic aura.”

     Hunt let out a sigh and said, “Yes, well, Harper tends to embellish, especially when he’s talking to women.  Your friend, Doctor Babin recommended you if I had any Engineering needs.”

     Lee frowned.  How would Hunt know Dom, much less have spoken with her about the Seaview’s crew?  He turned to Admiral Nelson, who seemed relaxed about the entire situation and asked, “Where is Dom?  Where is the Seaview, for that matter?”

     Nelson made a calming gesture, saying, “Miss Babin is aboard Captain Hunt’s ship.  Actually, we all are now.  Barris took the Seaview from Earth and Seamus liberated her from Barris’ ship with the Andromeda’s help, then Captain Hunt, his weapons officer and I came aboard to get rid of Barris’ forces on the Seaview itself.”

     “We met Anasazi,” Lee said with a frown.  “He gave us these,” he indicated the weapon in his hand, “then went off after more of Barris’ people.  I feel more comfortable if we handled any remaining intruders ourselves.”

     “I don’t blame you,” Hunt said, then nudged a button on his collar.  “Tyr, are you engaging the enemy at the moment?”

     “No,” came Anasazi’s voice dimly, “They seem to have withdrawn after the initial rush.  The Seaview’s personnel are armed if they decide to return.”

     Dylan glanced at the tube in Lee’s hand.  “Yes, I know.  Go back the Andromeda and stand guard over Harper and Doctor Babin again.  I don’t trust Barris to leave them alone indefinitely.  Hunt out.”  He nudged the button again and said, “Andromeda, we’re secure here.  Tell Harper he did a great job and make sure he gets back to bed and that Doctor Babin stays with him.  Hunt out.”  He looked back to them again.

     “How did Dom get aboard your ship?  How did Harper get here at all?” Lee questioned Hunt, not liking how the man was taking command over everything.

     “Barris took Seamus from the Institute and tried to force my hand by torturing him in front of me,” Nelson said with a look of barely restrained anger.

     Lee was a little taken aback.  Barris had hurt Harper?  “Is Harper all right?” he asked, concerned.  Harper had been putting up a brave front, but Lee knew he hadn’t fully recovered from being ill.

     “He will be,” Nelson said with a curt nod, which meant that Barris had done something to Harper, hurt him in some way.  “The Seaview would still be trapped on Barris’ ship if not for him.”  That came as a bit of a relief.  Harper was able to get around all right and do complicated tasks, it seemed, so Lee guessed whatever had happened to Harper hadn’t been too bad.  Or maybe it had, Lee thought, considering that Hunt had ordered Harper to bed.  Perhaps he had been badly hurt, but had been able to help rescue the Seaview from the aliens somehow despite that.  Lee felt his lips go flat for a moment thinking that he owed Harper for his part in saving the Seaview again.  The little engineer probably would never let him forget that!

     “Dom’s all right, isn’t she?” Ro asked a bit worriedly.

     “She’s fine,” Hunt assured her.

     “Barris was looking for her, probably wanting to use her to force my hand like he tried with Seamus.  Anasazi found her first and took her somewhere safe,” Nelson said.  “The important thing is that we have weapons we can use against Barris now and that he’s not holding the Seaview for ransom any more.  We’ll find a way to get back to Earth and our proper time.”

     “We moved in time?” Ro asked.  “How is that possible?”

     “Barris has that power.  He’s incredibly dangerous,” Nelson replied.

     “What is he?” Lee asked.  “What is Anasazi, for that matter?  Is Harper even human?”

     Hunt smiled and laughed softly.  “Harper’s human.  He was even born on Earth, near Boston somewhere from what he’s said.  I’m human, too, but I was born on a heavy gravity world called Tarn Vedra.  Because of that, I’m a little stronger than most people.  Tyr is a Nietzschean, a race of genetically altered humans.  We aren’t any threat to you, Captain Crane.”

     “Barris is who we need to worry about,” Nelson said, nodding to Hunt’s words.  “I think he isn’t finished with us quite yet and I’m still not entirely sure what he’s after.”

     “I think we’re going to be finding out soon and I don’t think it’s going to be anything good,” Hunt agreed.  “We all need to be especially careful for now.”

     Just then, Chip came into the Control Room with several men from the second watch.  “Lee, Admiral, what’s going on here?” he asked, looking over Hunt suspiciously.  Lee sighed.  Whatever was going on, it wasn’t over.  From what the Admiral and Hunt had just said, it wasn’t over by a long shot.

* * *

     Dom stood over Seamus, stroking his head gently, watching him.  He looked like he was asleep, but was still and unresponsive to anything she did to him.  She frowned as she looked at the thick wire coming from the metal disk in his neck.  She had hated watching him insert that metal probe into the disk, into his brain.  She knew he said that it was all right, that it wouldn’t hurt him, that he could work more efficiently and using a lot less energy this way, but she still didn’t like it.  Seamus had a metal stick in his head and even though his body was lying limp in the chair next to her, his mind was somewhere in the ship’s computer.  Could he be trapped this way if that alien came back and did somehow cut his mind off from his body?  Dom shuddered at the thought, then stroked his head again and waited worriedly, unable to do anything else. 

     Suddenly Seamus’ eyes opened wide and he sat up a little, fumbling awkwardly for the wire in his neck.  He probably would have normally used his presently incapacitated right hand to do it, so Dom carefully took hold of it wire and pulled it out, glad to do it.  “Thanks, Babe,” he said tiredly, smiling at her as he let himself fall back again.

     Dom felt better now at Seamus’ mind and body were reunited.  He looked tired, but he’d looked tired before he’d gone into the computer.  “How did it go?  Is everything all right?” she asked, thinking that if the Seaview was safe, Seamus would rest without arguing about it.  It would certainly make her feel better about basically standing around doing nothing.

     “The Seaview’s all snug in Hanger Bay Seven,” he replied, looking as relieved about it as she felt.

     A hologram of a dark haired, dark eyed woman appeared next to them, saying, “Dylan, Tyr, and Admiral Nelson are all aboard the Seaview.  They are meeting minimal resistance.”

     “No one’s hurt?  What sort resistance?” Dom found herself asking worriedly before she really thought about it.

     “Do they need our help?” Seamus asked, making her regret her words.  He was in no shape to help anyone.

     “Harper, your glucose and electrolyte levels are extremely low.  You need to eat something with some sugar and potassium in it, preferably some fruit, then sleep some more,” the Andromeda told him sternly.  “Doctor Babin will bring you to your quarters.  I’ll send a Maria bot there with some food.”

     “But if the Admiral and Dylan need us...” Seamus started to argue.  Dom laid a hand gently on his cheek, silencing him as he looked up at her.

     “They need you not to collapse,” she told him.  “Your body is trying to heal from some pretty severe injuries and a recent illness.  You have to help things by eating right and resting or you’re going to be back in critical care with those oxygen tubes you hate so much.  You got the Seaview here safely.  That’s enough.  The Admiral and Dylan and Tyr will handle the rest.”

     Seamus looked torn for a moment, then nodded, closed his eyes and laid his head against her hand for a moment.  “You’re right,” he murmured softly.  “You’re right and I’m tired and woozy, but I feel grubby and hungry.  I’d really like a shower, then I’d like to lie down and not move for a while.”  He opened his eyes and looked up at her.  “Will you feed me if I run out of energy with the shower?”

     Dom smiled softly at him and stroked his hair.  “Of course.”  She helped him up and he leaned on her a little as they walked back to his quarters.  She helped him to get mostly undressed once they got there, but turned her eyes away as he took off his boxer shorts.  While he showered, she stayed close by, equally afraid that he might pass out or that Barris might show up while Seamus was totally vulnerable again.  She handed him a towel when the water stopped and after he got on some sleep pants, she rubbed his hair a little drier, then settled him into bed.  He barely got his blankets tucked up around him when the food the Andromeda promised to send showed up with a distinctly female looking robot.  There was a nice fruit salad and some cheese, crackers and some sort of juice.  Seamus laid back against his pillows, alternately feeding himself and letting himself be fed and talking quietly with her.  Dom was just glad to see a little color leak back into his cheeks once he’d eaten a little.  By the time the light meal was gone, Seamus looked drowsy and content.

     “Tyr is on his way,” the Andromeda announced as Dom was setting the dishes aside.  “Dylan says you did a great job, Harper, and that everyone is safe and sound and that you’re supposed to get some sleep.  You’re back on medical leave at least until your arm is healed.  Possibly longer if Trance says so.”

     “Whatever you say, Rommie.  Thanks,” Seamus said back, looking off vaguely at the ceiling, then back at Dom’s face.  “You look tired too.  Come cuddle up with me?  I’ll sleep nice and quiet for sure then,” he told her reaching up to touch her face lightly.

     Dom smiled at him again.  “All my clothes are aboard the Seaview.  I suppose I could go get some pajamas after Tyr gets here.”

     Seamus looked suddenly startled, but the expression faded quickly.  “Just wear some of my stuff.  I’m not that much bigger than you.  They’ll just be extra loose and comfy,” he replied.

     Dom gave him a quizzical look.  “Why don’t you want me going to the Seaview?”

     “This Barris dude, he keeps moving people and stuff around.  I want you to stay with me,” he replied tensely as he stroked his way down her arm.  Dom wanted to argue that nothing would happen in the amount of time that it took to get a few things from the Seaview, but considering the aliens’ attack in the Andromeda’s Sickbay, she wasn’t so sure that was true.  She still shuddered when she remembered Barris demanding Seamus’ death.  She could only be a little reassured that he seemed unwilling or unable to do the horrible deed himself.

     “We have suitable women’s attire in stores, Harper,” the Andromeda cut in before Dom could respond.  “I’ll send some things to Harper’s cabin for you, Doctor Babin.”

     “Rommie, no High Guard uniforms,” Seamus cautioned her, looking a little miffed for some reason.

     “No, of course not.  I was thinking more along the lines of sleep wear and some exercise clothing similar to what Doctor Babin is currently wearing.  I’ll send the clothing right away.  Let me know if you want anything else, Doctor Babin.  After all, you are our honored guest,” the Andromeda replied casually, seemingly unaware of Seamus’ tone or the growing displeasure on his face.

     “That would be...nice.  Thank you,” Dom said uncertainly.  She stroked Seamus’ hair saying, “What’s with the face?”

     Seamus tried to alter his expression, but couldn’t seem to manage it.  “I’m too tired for this,” he grumbled, frowning, then pursed his lips in frustration and let out a sigh before continuing.  “Dylan wants us to stay, apparently.”

     “Well, you are his ship’s engineer.  Of course he wants you to stay,” Dom replied, not getting what the big deal was.

     “No, not me.  Uh, yes me, but you too.  Us.  He wants both of us to stay.  He has the idea that you could help him with diplomatic stuff.  I told Rommie that it’s crazy talk, that you don’t even speak Galactic Common or anything, but that’s what Dylan wants all the same.  Like I said, crazy talk, right?  Don’t worry about it.  I’m going with you when we figure out how to get the Seaview back where it belongs.  Rommie shouldn’t be trying to win you over by bribing you with clothes and stuff, especially when you don’t even know that’s what she’s doing,” Seamus said irritably.

     Dom slumped a little, sighing as she thought about Dylan’s comments when Rollan had just left.  Apparently he’d been a lot more sincere than she’d thought.  She didn’t know how to begin justifying Dylan’s erroneous impression that she of all people would make a good diplomat, so she decided that she wouldn’t worry about it for the time being and she’d concentrate on getting Seamus less cranky so that he’d rest.

     “Then we’ll just have to let her know that while clean ladies underwear is appreciated, you’re more than capable of providing for me,” Dom said, kissing him on the cheek and going to the drawer where she’d seen him take the sleep pants he was wearing from.  “Let’s see,” she hummed, shuffling through the items within.  She came up with a green shirt with some sort of oriental letters splashed across the front.  She held it up, measuring its size across her chest, saying, “What do you think?  Is it me?”  Seamus laughed suddenly.  “What?” Dom asked.

     “It says, ‘Sex machine.’  Tyr would bust a gut,” he giggled.

     Dom rolled her eyes.  “He’s having entirely too much fun at my expense already,” she said, putting it back.  “Is there anything in here that doesn’t proclaim sexual prowess in languages I can’t read?”

     “There should be a light blue one with something like palm trees around some waves that says ‘Surf Infinity Atoll.’  I came in forty seventh in a surfing competition there.  Not bad for a part time enthusiast, huh?” he said rather proudly.

     “I’m guessing not forty seventh out of fifty,” Dom said as she looked for the shirt.

     “Out of ten thousand.  See?  I’m athletic.  Just not brawny, lift large, heavy things over my head athletic,” Seamus said.

     Dom held up a shirt that mostly resembled what Seamus had described.  “This one?” He nodded.  She held it out.  It looked like it would be nice and loose on her, probably not bad for sleeping in.  “Okay.  You don’t mind me borrowing it?”

     “Of course not,” he replied, then got a lusty grin on his face.  “You’d look better without it.  I’m kinda looking forward to our first no pajamas necessary evening ‘cause I know I’m gonna enjoy the view.  Still, with Tyr coming to do his bodyguard thing, probably not the best night for it tonight, huh?”

     Dom wrinkled her nose at him and shook her head.  “Definitely not.”

     “That’s okay.  Much as I thought I would never say this, I’m wiped and I’m not up for anything more than a little cuddling,” Seamus sighed, snuggling back into his pillow.

     “Cuddling I can do, provided it won’t hurt your arm,” Dom said.

     “You can snuggle up right here,” Seamus said, patting the bed to his left.

     Just then another female robot came in carrying some clothes and Tyr arrived moments later.  “I’ll go change,” Dom said, taking the clothing into the bathroom.  She found some underwear and reasonable sleep wear, but substituted Harper’s shirt for the top that the Andromeda had sent, then got ready for bed.  When she returned, Tyr and Seamus were talking in what was mostly likely Galactic Common and suddenly fell silent.  She looked from one to the other and said, “What?”

     Seamus blushed a little.  “Guy talk,” he said gruffly.

     “Ah.  Guy talk,” Dom replied as if that explained everything.  “Are you going to be comfortable sitting there, Tyr?  Is there somewhere else that would be better for you to stand guard?”

     “This is quite satisfactory,” Tyr replied, laying a large gun across his lap, his force lance visible in a holster on his hip.  He took out a book, putting an end to the matter by opening it and beginning to read without further comment.

     Dom shrugged to herself, thinking from Seamus’ stories that Tyr had probably had lots more difficult assignments than this.  She climbed into bed and was greeted with a warm kiss, but Seamus didn’t move otherwise.  He didn’t seem like he was in pain even though it had been quite some time since Tyr had given him any sort of medication.  The bruises and cuts were pretty much gone from his face, so Dom supposed that future medicine was probably quicker and more efficient than in her day and age.  She was glad he wasn’t in pain anymore.  Seeing him suffering even for a few moments had been horrible.  She was glad that she hadn’t seen him being hurt like the Admiral had.  She didn’t know if she would have been able to bear it.

     “Do you want anything before I settle down?” she asked, thinking he might want some water or something of that nature.

     Seamus gave her a sleepy smile and stroked her cheek, saying, “Everything I need is right here.”  For that, she gave him another kiss and then snuggled down next to him, pulling the blanket up around them.  Seamus made a contented sound as he put his arm loosely around her and was soon asleep.  Dom cuddled close, listening to him breathe and the soft sounds of Tyr turning pages and shifting in his chair.  She had wanted to ask what had happened on the Seaview, but supposed it would wait.  Obviously the danger was not quite past, but that Tyr had returned seemed to indicate that the Seaview was settled within the Andromeda safely enough.

     Now that she was settled and comfortable, Dom found she was tired herself.  How long had it been since she’d last slept?  So much had happened since then, much of it unnerving.  Dom laid an arm gently over Seamus’ bare stomach, just below where his broken arm rested and felt his heart beating and his chest rising and falling slowly.  He had been so brave through everything, still smiling and making jokes.  She loved that about him, loved him more than she had ever loved anyone.  She decided that when she next saw Dylan, she would ask him if starship captains could marry people like sea captains could.  She thought Seamus would like that, to be able to let his friends see that he was happy and that he wouldn’t be alone if they could ever got to go back to Earth.  If they couldn’t, she didn’t care.  Seamus was right, she thought as she absently stroked his stomach, she had everything she needed here.  She fell asleep with as soft smile, thinking that she would be happy when Barris was no longer a threat and she could curl up with Seamus without another large man in the room.  Seamus would finally get his ‘no clothing required’ night and she knew how happy that would make both of them.

* * *



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