Belonging

by

Michelle Pichette

 

Chapter 65

 

 

* * *

     “You can’t just say ‘please stop’ to someone like Barris and actually expect him to listen,” Lee said to the alien named Nowan for what had to be the fifth time.  The aliens gave each other the same confused look and he sighed.  They were getting nowhere exceedingly fast.

     “Captain Crane is right,” the dark haired girl named Rommie said.  She spoke in English and somehow the alien understood even though he hadn’t ten minutes ago.  Apparently, he had a gift for learning languages.  “We’ve explained what Barris has been doing.  We need to know why so that we can get him to stop, but he won’t tell us anything.  And why would he want Harper gone or dead?  Is there anything in your oral history that might explain it?”

     Nowan shook his head.  “No.  It is as I’ve told you.  That is all we know.”

     “Then you need to convince him to tell us,” Lee said, trying to be encouraging to these mild mannered beings.  “You can do it.  You understand him better than we could hope to.”  As far as he was concerned, he already knew Barris way too well.

     Nowan didn’t look very encouraged, unfortunately.  “According to our histories, Barris is notorious for not sharing our ideals.  I fear he will not listen to me any more than he listened to those that tried to steer him from this dark course eons ago.”

     “But you’re gift is talking to people,” Ro said.  “You’ll find the right words.  It’s what you do.”

     Nowan sighed.  “I hope not to disappoint you.”

     “Then let’s try this again,” Lee said, ready to rehearse what Nowan planned to say when a blond woman burst into the room.  She gave the scene before her a frown, then marched up to Nowan and said something rather harsh sounding to him in a language Lee didn’t recognize.  A hologram of Rommie appeared, looking cross, and said something to the blond woman.  The golden skinned alien girl put in her two cents as the other aliens started to rise.  “What now?” Lee asked in frustration.

     “The boy that Barris took is here, but he is injured,” Nowan said as his compatriots gathered around him and the women continued to argue.  “Wemrik will heal him.”

     “Harper,” Lee sighed, rubbing his forehead.  He’d known that Harper had been hurt from what the Admiral had been saying and he didn’t begrudge the kid any help these frustrating creatures could give him, but did it have to be right this second?  “Okay, fine.  Send Wemrik with... whoever this is,” he waved a hand at the angry blond woman, “and we’ll get back to work.”

     “Captain Valentine and Wemrik cannot understand each other, nor would builder Harper understand anything Wemrik said to him.  We want no further misunderstandings,” Nowan explained.

     Lee scrubbed a hand down his face, wondering why nothing was ever simple.  “Fine.  Let’s go get this over with,” he said, rising himself.  Maybe the Admiral was wherever Harper was.  Dom certainly was.  Lee was going to get everyone gathered up in one place then suggest that they move this circus to the Seaview.  At least he could contain things there, not have people wandering all over the place.  Maybe he’d actually feel a little more in control of all this insanity there, he thought as the women of the Andromeda led the parade off, still arguing.

* * *

     Nelson was following Hunt along the corridor when the Andromeda’s voice suddenly rang out, “Dylan, it seems that everyone is en route to Harper’s quarters.”

     Hunt stopped short and his shoulders sagged.  “Why?  Why would everyone be going to Harper’s quarters?” he asked, sounding as though he really didn’t want to know the answer to the question.

     “Beka wants one of the Children of the Maker to heal Harper and Captain Crane decided that they all should go,” the ship replied.  That confused Nelson.  Why would they all need to go?  They should be staying put, not traipsing around the ship.  Of course the part about the alien being able to heal Harper was intriguing, but Nelson knew that such things usually carried a price.  He didn’t care to think what the cost of this might be and Harper was recovering just fine on his own.

     “I don’t want the Children of the Maker or Lechak Bon or whatever they’re calling themselves anywhere near Harper,” Hunt said, apparently feeling Nelson’s misgivings himself.  “Tell everyone to stay where they are and I’ll meet them there to talk things over.”  There was no response and Dylan’s brow knit.  “Andromeda?” he said uncertainly.  Still there was no answer.  “Oh, things just keep getting better and better,” Hunt grumbled, as he turned and started back in the direction they’d come from at a good pace.  Nelson followed, suddenly worried.  They’d barely gone a dozen steps when what looked to be the remains of Barris’ crew appeared before them.  “Oh, great,” Hunt muttered, drawing his force lance.

     “Somehow, I think Barris doesn’t want us going this way,” Nelson said, following suit.

     “I’ve had just about enough of worrying what Barris wants.  How about you?” Hunt asked.

     “Oh, more than enough,” Nelson said with a nod.  Almost as one, they opened fire on the undead aliens before them.  They worked well together.  Nelson had discovered this when they had pushed to the Control Room on the Seaview.  This time, though, the odds against them were overwhelming and after the first few of Barris’ crew fell to ash before them, the rest rushed forward.  Nelson and Hunt tried to stay back to back and take out as many of the enemy as possible, but sheer numbers dragged them both down.  Nelson kept firing, keeping the beam of his weapon away from where he was almost certain Hunt was, but finally it was ripped from his grasp as strong hand pinned his arm to the ground, others soon grabbing him all over, immobilizing him.  He roared in defiance, trying to pull away or push the creatures from him, but they were just too strong.  He could hear Hunt’s weapon for a while longer than his own, but all too soon, it fell silent as well.

     Nelson was sure that they were doomed to whatever fate Barris had planned for them, but suddenly one of the ship’s holograms appeared.  At least Nelson had thought it was a hologram until she raised a force lance of her own and destroyed some of the aliens while shouting, “Dylan, are you all right?”

     “Yes, for now,” Hunt grunted, then with a show of superhuman strength, he flung one of the aliens trying to pin his legs off of him.  Nelson struggled, still to no avail, then remembered, that Hunt had said he was stronger than a normal human because of where he had been born.  If this was the man’s idea of a little, Nelson hesitated to thing what a lot might entail.

     It was then that ten of the aliens swarmed toward the woman that had come to their rescue.  Nelson was horrified.  She wasn’t much bigger than Doctor Babin.  She’d be crushed!  However, she met the leader of the pack with a fist to the face and sent him flying back into those following.  She flew into action, knocking her attackers back with a display of martial arts and blasting some more into ash.  Nelson was stunned.  She couldn’t be human.  She was far too strong!  Dylan somehow fought his way free of the aliens holding him and he moved to help Nelson get free as well.  Everything moved so quickly that Nelson didn’t fully know how he got his force lance back, but he did and before long, he was standing breathless in the corridor, surrounded by smoldering piles of ash, Hunt and the woman there with him, everyone rumpled but basically unharmed.

     “Admiral Nelson, are you injured?” the woman asked, her voice exactly the same as the hologram’s and the ship’s.  That was when Nelson realized who, or rather what, she was.  She was the ship’s avatar, the android that Harper had built.  Nelson almost couldn’t believe it.  She looked so human!

     “Yes, yes.  I’m fine,” Nelson blustered, tucking in a trailing end of his undershirt.  He stopped in mid motion, remembering where his shirt was.  “Seamus, Dominica...” he started, growing instantly worried.

     The android got a faraway look for a second, then said, “They’re fine.”

     “But for how long.  Come on!” Hunt said, then took off at a run.  Nelson chased after him, the android keeping pace.  Nelson suddenly wished he had never left Harper’s quarters with Hunt.  Certainly Anasazi was watching over Nelson’s young people and hadn’t let anything happen so far, but Barris had made that ominous statement earlier.  Nelson cursed under his breath, hoping that matters hadn’t changed.  If Harper and Dominica were all right when they got back, Nelson vowed he wouldn’t leave them again until Barris was dealt with as permanently as his minions and they were all home again.

* * *

 

 

Chapter 66
Belonging, Chapter One
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