Sanctuary 2
I

Fifteen-year-old Lucas Wolenczak sighed and shifted impatiently in his seat.
He was bored. The complex mathematical equations flashing across his screen
couldn't seem to hold his interest like they used to. He wanted to be somewhere else,
anywhere else, than here, in the science lab.

It wasn't that he didn't like being there. Oh no, he loved it. Working on
complicated technical computer problems that other kids his age, and even most
adults, couldn't hope to understand intrigued him.

Usually.

But not today.

Lucas sighed again and fidgeted. He hadn't been off of the seaQuest since
he'd first come aboard, and he doubted that her captain, Nathan Hale Bridger,
would allow him to leave. Not that he didn't trust Lucas, but he was still eerie about
even letting Lucas out of his sight since the incident that had occurred two weeks
ago.

Lucas shuddered involuntarily at the unwanted memory. He still wasn't
clear on what had happened, and Bridger hadn't been very forthcoming with
information, but what Lucas did remember was enough to send shivers down his
spine.

He remembered a blond woman named Tessa, telling him that someone
wanted to hurt him. He remembered being scared when a crewman turned into a
hideous monster before his very eyes and tried to hurt him. He remembered being
relieved when he felt Bridger gather him into his arms and hold him, protecting him
from the surrounding dangers. And he remembered being scared awake by the
nightmares that plagued his mind in the middle of the night, only to be held and
comforted by Bridger as he slept in the captain's room. The experience was almost
as bad for Bridger as it had been for Lucas. Even now, Bridger would occasionally
drop by to 'check up' on him. They both knew that he was being overprotective,
but Lucas didn't mind too much. He felt safe.

Lucas shut down his computer and stood, stretching. He wasn't going to get
much done, so there was really no point in trying. He decided to go to the mess hall
and grab a late lunch.

* * *

Captain Bridger strolled briskly down the corridors towards the science lab,
where he knew Lucas would be. He hadn't seen him yet that day, and he wanted to
check on the boy to make sure that he was all right.

Of course, he knew that Lucas would be just fine, but he couldn't shake the
protective instincts that the child sparked in him. He supposed that it was a part of
him that wanted to be a father again that was making him feel this way. It certainly
made sense. Lucas meant the world to Bridger, and Bridger would be devastated if
anything ever happened to him. The incident that happened only two weeks ago
really scared him. He wanted Lucas to feel safe on the seaQuest, despite the danger
living on the UEO flagship posed.

Bridger entered the science lab and stopped cold when he found the room
empty. Panic flared up in him, seizing his heart and taking control of his mind.
Tessa had promised that Lucas would be safe on the seaQuest; that the seaQuest was
his sanctuary. Had that promise been broken?

"Captain?"

Bridger whirled around and immediately engulfed Lucas into an enormous
hug. Lucas let out a whoosh of air at the sudden act, startled.

"Lucas, God, don't scare me like that again!" Bridger exclaimed.

"Um . . . Captain, I just went to the mess hall to eat," Lucas' muffled voice
stammered.

Bridger pulled back. Lucas eyed him carefully.

"You okay?" he asked.

Bridger smiled. "I'm fine, kiddo," he replied. "I just got scared when you
weren't where you were supposed to be."

Doctor Kristen Westphalen walked into the room in time to hear this last
statement. "Nathan, relax. Lucas isn't going anywhere. He's perfectly safe."

Bridger sighed. "I know, I know," he replied. "I can't help it."

"Well then, maybe it's time that the two of you spend some time apart,"
Westphalen suggested. "I couldn't help but notice that Lucas is becoming more and
more restless. Maybe it would be good for him to take a break. Go topside and
breathe some fresh air."

Bridger instantly tensed at the suggestion. "I don't know . . ."

Lucas looked up at him, excitement gleaming in his bright blue eyes.
"Please?"

Bridger appeared torn.

"I happen to know that Ben is about to go up for some more supplies,"
Westphalen continued. "He'll be gone for the better part of a day. It isn't much,
but it's something."

Bridger liked the idea even less when Westphalen mentioned Lieutenant
Benjamin Krieg's name. The supply and morale officer was notorious for getting
himself into all kinds of trouble, and he had taken to Lucas like a big brother, much
to Bridger's dismay. Bridger didn't really like the idea of Krieg alone with Lucas.
There was no telling what could happen.

Lucas looked up at Bridger hopefully. Spending the day topside with his best
friend was just what he needed. Bridger just needed a little convincing.

"Please, Captain?" he pleaded. "I've been on this ship so long that I forgot
what sunshine felt like."

Westphalen smiled faintly. Bridger was crumbling.

"Well . . ." Bridger was still unconvinced.

"It will do the both of you some good to be apart for awhile," Westphalen
coaxed.

That, combined with Lucas' excited gaze, caused Bridger to cave in. He
nodded.

"All right," he conceded. "You can go, but you have to be careful. No
trouble. Got it?"

Lucas nodded, thrilled. He threw several thanks at Westphalen and Bridger
before racing out of the room. Westphalen laughed after him.

Bridger sighed and shook his head. "I hope that I didn't just make a
mistake," he muttered.

Westphalen overheard him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Look at
how happy he is. Do you think it was a mistake?"

Bridger allowed himself a small smile. "Guess not. I just worry about him."

Westphalen squeezed his shoulder. "He'll be fine. You'll see."

Bridger nodded. He still had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing.

* * *

Lucas practically jumped into the copilot's seat in the cockpit and craned his
body around to see Krieg standing just inside the launch, checking a list on his
clipboard. Lucas sighed, exasperated.

"Come on, Ben," he urged. "Let's go!"

Krieg barely glance up at him. "Keep your pants on," he teased. "We'll get
going, just as soon as I double check the inventory."

Lucas groaned. "Well, hurry up!"

Krieg chuckled softly and finished his checks, then slid into the pilot's seat.
"Ready?"

Lucas gave him a look of incredulity, which made Krieg laugh. "Then strap
in," he said, guiding the sea crab away from the seaQuest.

II

The effect was instantaneous, and it spread through the faction like wildfire.
They all stopped what they were doing, wherever they happened to be, and looked up as
if the source of the power were the heavens.

Their leader stood, his eyes wide with wonder and shock. He could hardly
believe what he was feeling. The power of the One, there sworn enemy, was incredible.
Not one being had ever possessed such strength in their history.

The leader mentally called for all members of the faction to meet at once,
himself heading for the pre-designated meeting place.

Some of the members had already gathered the minute that they had sensed the
power. The leader didn't have to wait long for the rest of their faction. As soon as they
had all assembled, their leader stood.

"It has become apparent that the strength of the One is increasing, and that our
comrade Sirell was unsuccessful in his mission. That means that we must take matters
into our own hands and destroy the One ourselves. You know the consequences if we
do not."

The members all nodded in agreement, murmuring quietly amongst themselves.
A raised hand silenced them instantly.

"Since we do not know exactly in what form the One was brought into the next
world, we must disguise ourselves as the beasts and follow the power to its source.
Lena, Sylven- it will be your task to dispose of the One. Do whatever you need to do.
Just do not come back until the job is done."

Two of the members stood, bowed, and left. The leader turned to the rest of the
faction.

"We will remain here, offering our support and power to them," he stated.
"The One is a prophesied to be a very dangerous foe. Our comrades will need our
assistance. Everyone, join your energy fields and focus."

They all complied. The leader closed his eyes and joined them. An evil grin
spread across his face. Their destiny was finally at hand.

* * *

Krieg had barely opened the hatch when Lucas suddenly sprang forward,
anxious to get out into the sun. Krieg reached out and snagged the back of Lucas'
oversized baseball overshirt by his neck and held on tightly.

"Hang on there, Speedy," Krieg teased. "I have to get some of this off of the
launch first, and I don't want you getting hurt or lost or something."

Lucas scowled up at him, struggling out of Krieg's grip, but to no avail. "Ha
ha, Ben. Very funny. Let me go."

"Not until you promise to stay put," Krieg countered.

Lucas folded his arms. "Fine. Now let me go."

Krieg released him, then eyed him for a few second to make sure that Lucas
would do as he'd been told before turning to his cargo. Lucas waited until Krieg
turned back around for darting towards the door to the launch when he felt his shirt
being gripped again, holding him back.

"I should have known better," came Krieg's amused voice. "C'mere. If I
have to watch you, I may as well put you to work."

Lucas glared at his friend as Krieg released his hold on his shirt and thrust a
box into his arms. Lucas had to do some fancy maneuvering to keep it from
jumping out of his hands and onto the floor. Krieg hefted another box into his arms
and led the way onto the dock.

Lucas squinted at the bright sunlight as it assaulted his eyes, so accustomed
to the dimmer lighting of the seaQuest's halls as he was. He barely avoided running
into Krieg, who had stopped in front of someone and was deeply conversing with.
Lucas set his burden down and took in his surroundings.

It was a bright and sunny day, with hardly any clouds in the blue sky. The
water beneath the dock glistened in the sun. Lucas caught sight of a familiar
dolphin leaping out of the water and swimming towards him.

"Darwin!" Lucas knelt down on the dock and reached down to pet Darwin.

"Looks like he wanted to come with us," Krieg observed, standing over
Lucas.

Lucas grinned and signaled to Darwin. The dolphin went under the surface
of the water.

Krieg sat down beside Lucas. "Where'd he go?"

Lucas scooted back and grinned mischievously. Before Krieg could say
anything, Darwin leaped into the air and splashed back down, sending a wall of
water crashing over Krieg. Krieg cried out in surprise and scowled at Lucas, who
was doubled over with laughter.

"Very funny," he said sullenly. He twisted his shirt to wring out the water.
"Is that any way to thank the guy who got you off of the ship for awhile?"

Lucas quieted down enough to speak. "Consider it my revenge for you
holding me in the launch. We're even." He leaned over to pet Darwin again.
"Thanks, Darwin."

Krieg quickly imitated the hand-signal Lucas had used and was rewarded
moments later when Darwin splashed Lucas. Lucas gasped in shock and glared up
at Krieg. Krieg only smiled and patted Lucas on his head.

"Don't mess with the master," he replied. "I'll get you back every time."

Lucas laughed and leaned over to splash Darwin. Content that Lucas was
fine, Krieg went to oversee the loading of the crew's supplies.

Lucas stretched out on his stomach and played with Darwin. He was glad
that the captain had let him go with Krieg. He'd missed the warmth of the sunshine
and the smell of fresh-air. He wished that he could stay longer than the allotted
three hours it would take to load all of the supplies onto the launch, but at least he'd
have the chance to take a deep breath and relax. Maybe he could even convince
Krieg to stay a little longer and maybe even hit a few of the local bars. Sometimes,
when they were on shore leave, Krieg would let Lucas have some alcohol. Of course,
if the captain or Westphalen ever found out, he'd be lucky to ever leave the boat
again without one of them, let alone ever be alone with Krieg again.

Lucas was so busy playing with Darwin that he didn't notice tentacles made
of water wrap themselves around his wrists until they tightened and pulled him into
the ocean. Lucas let out a brief cry of surprise as they pulled him under.

Krieg turned in time to see Lucas go over the side of the dock. He ran to the
edge and peered into the murky water. "Lucas!"

Lucas fought against the restraining grips around his wrists, but to no avail.
Whatever had him was too strong. Lucas saw Darwin circle around, looking for a
way to help his friend. Lucas sent out a silent plea for Darwin to hurry; he didn't
know how much longer he could hold his breath.

Lucas' eyes widened in shock when he saw a shape emerge in the water
similar to the creature he'd seen only weeks ago. He opened his mouth to scream in
fright, only to choke as the water rushed inside. He began to cough, making the
water come in faster. The last thing he remembered was seeing the creature reach
out to him.

Up on the dock, Krieg kicked off his shoes and dove into the water. Lucas
had been under for far too long, and Krieg was scared. Lucas was like a little
brother to him, and he didn't want to even think that he could be . . .

Krieg swam down as far as he could. Just as he thought his lungs would
burst, he caught a glimpse of something golden reflecting off of the sun. Krieg
swam further and saw that it was Lucas' hair. Rejuvenated, Krieg hooked his arm
around Lucas and began to swim to the surface. His relief was short-lived, however,
when he broke the surface and noticed that Lucas wasn't breathing.

Krieg lifted the child into the waiting arms of the crowd that had gathered
and hauled himself out of the water. He quickly pressed his ear against Lucas' chest
to determine if his heart was still beating. He was rewarded with a very faint
thump.

"Someone call an ambulance!" Krieg ordered as he began to breathe air
back into the small boy lying on the dock. Two onlookers scurried off to the nearest
pay phone.

"Come on, Lucas," Krieg coaxed, desperate to make Lucas take a breath of
air. "Don't do this to me. Come on. Breathe."

Lucas didn't move.

Krieg tried faster. "Lucas!" he shouted. "Come on, kid! You wanna give
me a heart attack? Breathe!"

After several long, agonizing moments, Lucas gasped for air. He coughed
violently, spitting water out of his mouth. Krieg laughed with relief and pulled
Lucas into a tight hug.

"Kid, don't you do that again," he said. "You tryin' to give me a heart
attack or something?"

Lucas became aware of his surroundings, and he clutched Krieg's arm
tightly. "B-Ben!" he stammered. "Th-They're back! They p-pulled me un-under
and- and tried to k-kill me!"

"Shh," Krieg hushed, concerned. "It's okay. I'm here, you're safe. No one's
gonna hurt you."

Lucas was shivering uncontrollably by the time the ambulance arrived. He
refused to go to the hospital, suffering through the medics' exams in silence. He
waited in the launch, wrapped up in a thermal blanket as Krieg finished loading the
supplies on board. Once finished, he knelt down in front of Lucas.

"Are you sure you're okay?" he asked.

Lucas nodded, too embarrassed to speak. Krieg gently squeezed his
shoulder, then moved to sit in the pilot's seat. There was silence for several minutes,
then, "Uh-oh."

Lucas looked over at him. "What?"

Krieg flashed him a reassuring grin. "Probably nothing. The engines won't
start."

Lucas paled. "What?"

"It's probably a loose wire somewhere, or something," Krieg told him,
missing the look of panic that passed over Lucas' face. "It'll only take me a minute
to check it out. You just chill out here, okay?"

Lucas nodded, forcing the panic down. The image of the monster under the
water was all-too vivid in his mind. He just wanted to get back to the seaQuest as
soon as possible. At least there he'd be safe.

Krieg moved to the back of the launch, leaving Lucas alone in the cockpit.
Lucas rested his head against the cushion of the chair and closed his eyes, feeling
tired. He opened his eyes when he heard a noise, believing it to be Krieg back from
fixing the engines.

"Did you find ----?" The question died on his lips when he saw the same
creature that had held him under the water hovering over him. It's eyes stared at
the child with disgust and hatred.

Lucas did the only thing he could do.

He screamed.

The monster flinched as if struck and dove through the front window of the
launch, desperate to escape. Lucas continued to scream, terrified. Krieg ran into
the cockpit, startled at the sudden noise.

"Lucas! Lucas, calm down! What is it?" Krieg tried to quiet him down, but
to no avail. Lucas curled into a tiny ball on the seat and continued to scream until
his throat became too coarse to use. Krieg was bewildered by Lucas' behavior, and
could only hug the boy. Lucas finally fell silent after about ten minutes, panting and
wide-eyed with fright. Krieg was really worried now. He had never seen anyone so
scared, least of all Lucas. He gave the child a small smile.

"Hey," he said. "You mind telling me what that was all about?"

"It-It was here," Lucas stammered. "I-It was standing r-right over m-me.
R-Right there, wh-where you are n-now. I-I thought that it w-was gonna hurt m-me
again! Oh, God, Ben, don't let it get me!"

He burst into tears at this point, his fear overriding his embarrassment.
Krieg held Lucas, not sure of what to say. He hadn't seen anyone enter or leave the
cockpit after leaving Lucas alone, but Lucas wouldn't be this upset over an
overactive imagination. After awhile, his instincts took over, and he whispered,
"It's okay, Lucas. It's all right. I won't let them get you. I promise. It's okay.
Calm down."

Lucas pulled back and sniffled, wiping the tears from his face with the sleeve
of his baseball jersey. The simple action made him look even younger than he
already was. "Um . . . sorry."

Krieg only smiled and ruffled Lucas' somewhat-dry hair. "There's nothing
for you to be sorry about, kid. Look, I can't find anything wrong with the engines,
so I'm gonna call the seaQuest and let them know that we're gonna be a little late.
Okay? Looks like we're going to be spending a little more time upworld. Hope you
didn't have any plans."

Lucas sniffled again, and Krieg was rewarded with a roll of his eyes. It
wasn't much, but it was encouraging. Krieg turned to the console and typed in the
codes that would open a communications link to the seaQuest. After several
minutes, Bridger's face appeared on the screen.

"Yes, Lieutenant?" Bridger asked. "Is everything okay?"

"Actually, sir, no," Krieg replied. "There seems to be a problem with the
engines. I can't get them to start. Also . . ." Krieg glanced at Lucas. Lucas nodded.
"Lucas says that some . . . 'things' are after him."

Bridger paled, much to Krieg's surprise. "What kinds of 'things'?" he
demanded.

Krieg adjusted the viewer so that Bridger could see Lucas. Lucas cleared his
throat and tried to give the captain a small smile. "Hi, Captain."

Bridger was shocked. "Lucas, why are you all wet?"

"He fell off of the dock," Krieg answered for the boy.

Bridger turned his gaze on Krieg, angry. "He what?" he exclaimed.
"Lieutenant, you were supposed to keep an eye on him! Where were you when this
happened?"

"Captain, it's not Ben's fault," Lucas spoke up. "I didn't fall in. I was
playing with Darwin, and something pulled me in. It was just like that thing from . .
. . you know . . ."

Bridger's gaze softened, and he nodded. "Okay," he replied. "I'll send
someone up to get you. Stay put, do you understand?"

Both Lucas and Krieg nodded. Bridger's image vanished, severing the link.
Krieg looked at Lucas.

"The captain's gonna ream me out once we get back," he joked. "Especially
when we tell them the whole story about you and the dock."

Lucas flinched. "We don't have to tell them the whole story, do we?"

Krieg shrugged. "You seem okay to me. I won't tell if you won't."

Lucas smiled. "Deal."

III

The minute the link was cut, Bridger turned to look at Miguel Ortiz. "Chief,
you're with me. We're going up to the shore to bring those two back."

Ortiz nodded and followed Bridger down to the launch bay. They were
almost there when a soft, feminine voice reached their ears.

"Why did you let him leave?"

Both men whirled around to face the speaker: a tall, blond woman wearing a
flowing white dress.

"Tessa!" Bridger exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

Tessa walked forward. "Why did you allow him to leave this sanctuary? He
is not safe out there."

Bridger became concerned. "What are you talking about?"

"Captain, who is she?" Ortiz asked, wary of the woman's sudden
appearance.

Bridger ignored him. Tessa's angry blue eyes were glaring at him.

"I specifically told you the last time we met that this ship was his sanctuary,"
Tessa scolded. "No harm will befall him here. Why was he allowed to leave this
place? Do you not know the danger that that poses for him?"

Bridger was feeling worried about Lucas' safety at this point. "I thought
that you took care of the problem the last time we met."

"Did I not say that more would come?" Tessa countered. "There is a
protective shield around this ship. He was not detected until he left. Have you any
idea how much power my people felt the minute he left? Do you?"

She lifted her hands and placed them on either side of Bridger's face and
stared deeply into his eyes. Bridger gasped as waves and waves of intense power
suddenly overwhelmed him.

Ortiz saw that his captain was in trouble and moved to help when he
suddenly found that his feet were glued to the deck. Ortiz looked down and tried to
move, but to no avail. He was stuck.

Tessa finally broke the connection and watched as Bridger staggered back,
shocked. Her gaze was unwavering, staring at Bridger while Bridger struggled to
compose himself.

"My God," he muttered. "What the hell was that?"

"You recall when I told you that Lucas was a special child?" Tessa asked.
"He is quickly approaching the time for him to fulfill his destiny. His life force is a
reflection of the power he possesses. What you have just felt is that same reflection.
Everyone in my world felt it when he left the ship. They still feel it now, as we
speak. He must be brought back here, where he can be protected. Attempts on his
life have already been made."

Bridger felt as if someone had just punched him in his stomach. "What?"

"Where is his crystal?" Tessa countered.

"In his cabin, I think," Bridger told her.

Tessa nodded. "Go, quickly. There is little time. I will meet you there."
With that, she vanished.

Ortiz was very confused. "Captain?"

Bridger sighed. "I'll explain later. Right now, let's just get to Lucas and
Lieutenant Krieg before something happens."

Ortiz nodded and took off at a jog behind Bridger for the launch bay.

* * *

Sylven returned to the appointed meeting place to find that Lena was already
waiting for him. She gave him an annoyed look.

"Did you do it?" she asked.

Sylven shook his head. "He's powerful for a child."

Lena let out an impatient noise. "He's not just any child! He's the One! And
it is up to us to make sure he's taken care of before he reaches his full potential!"

"I tried!" Sylven exclaimed. "He started screaming! I thought that my head
would explode! In any case, we wouldn't have to worry about this if you'd done it
right the first time!"

Lena whirled on him. "Don't you dare blame me for this! I did do my job! It
was that insufferable adult with him! He brought the child back to life!"

"LENA! SYLVEN!"

Lena and Sylven froze at the angered tone of their leader. They dropped their
heads and concentrated.

"You are wasting time!" the leader scolded them. "Someone has already been
dispatched to find the One and bring him back to his sanctuary! You must find and
destroy him before that happens!"

"Yes, my lord," Lena and Sylven mumbled in unison.

Their leader's voice dissipated. Lena looked up and glared at Sylven.

"You wait here," she ordered. "I'll finish him off. We can't afford any
mistakes."

Lena vanished, leaving Sylven glaring at the spot she had once stood on.

* * *

Lucas felt exhausted, and it was still light outside. Both he and Krieg had
decided to eat while they waited for help to arrive. Since they were ordered to stay
put, Krieg had made a quick run to the nearest fast-food restaurant and had
brought back dinner. Lucas hadn't felt very hungry, but he ate anyway, knowing
that his lack of appetite would only worry his best friend more.

As it was, Krieg was doing his best to keep Lucas' sinking spirits high. He
proposed hilarious pranks that he intended to pull on various crew members, he
told jokes, and he even mentioned that his source could even get Lucas some new
computer equipment that was still being tested. Lucas feigned interest. He was
grateful for the distractions that Krieg provided, but in all actuality, he was anxious
to get back to the seaQuest, where he knew that he was safe. The reappearance of
these creatures frightened him more than he was willing to admit, even to himself.

"Hey! Earth to Lucas, come in!"

"Huh?" Lucas gave Krieg a confused look.

"You zoned out a little bit there," Krieg told him. "You sure you're okay?"

Lucas sighed. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little tired, I guess."

Krieg smiled faintly. "Why don't you go to the back and lie down for a little
bit? The launch from the seaQuest should be here soon. I'll wake you when it's
time to leave, okay?"

Lucas nodded and stood. Before he could move, however, a bright flash of
white light appeared in front of him. Tessa stepped out from the light, holding the
crystal that she had given Lucas weeks ago.

"Tessa?" Lucas asked, feeling his fear jump up several notches. "What are
you doing here?"

"You must come with me, quickly." Tessa reached her hand out to the boy.

Lucas stumbled backwards as Krieg moved to stand between him and Tessa.
"Look," Krieg began. "I don't know who you think you are, but I'm not going to let
you hurt him again."

Tessa shot him an annoyed look. Krieg disappeared from the launch.
Satisfied, Tessa turned her attention back to Lucas.

"You are in danger," she told the shivering child. "There are some members
of the other faction that are here, and they aren't going to leave until they've
completed their mission."

"Wh-What is their m-mission?" Lucas stammered.

Tessa fixed him with a stern gaze. "You know the answer. Now, hurry, put
this on. We must leave."

She gave Lucas the crystal. Lucas stared at it, then put it around his neck. It
glowed a bright white the minute he touched it. Before either of them could move,
another flash of light appeared in the launch.

"You aren't going to save him this time, Tessa," the monster said. It turned
to Lucas, who was staring at it with wide blue eyes. "Come here and meet your fate,
young one."

Lucas was rooted to the spot. He couldn't move, even if he wanted to.

Tessa turned to look at Lucas. "Lucas, use your abilities. Protect yourself at
all costs."

Lucas blinked, and he suddenly found himself standing in the middle of a
dense forest. He was confused as to how he got there, but remembering Tessa's
advice, he began to move forward in the hopes of finding help.

* * *

Bridger and Ortiz turned when they heard the flash of light behind them,
and were stunned to find Krieg standing there. He looked completely confused, and
could only stare back at the two men, dumbfounded.

"Ben?" Ortiz asked.

Bridger grew concerned. "Lieutenant, what happened?"

"Um, . . . I was on the launch with Lucas, and this woman . . . Tessa . . . she
wanted to take Lucas away . . . I wasn't going to let her, but then I suddenly ended
up here." Krieg looked at Bridger in confusion. "Captain, what's going on? Why
are there people after Lucas?"

"It's a long story," Bridger replied. "Chief Ortiz, how much longer till we
reach the launch?"

Ortiz glanced down at the console. "About twenty minutes, sir."

Bridger nodded and sat back down. Twenty minutes. He could wait twenty
minutes.

* * *

The two women faced off the minute Lucas vanished.

"You can't help him, Tessa," Lena said. "He will die. Make no mistake of
that."

"I will not let you hurt him," Tessa replied, bracing herself for an attack. "He
is just a child. He poses no threat to you."

Lena let out a screech and sent a pulse of energy out at Tessa. Tessa threw up
her arms and blocked the brutal attack as best she could. The force sent her staggering
backwards into the console. Tessa recovered quickly and retaliated with a burst of her
own energy. Lena flew back into the wall behind her and slumped to the ground. With
a glare filled with disgust and hatred, she vanished from the launch.

Tessa let out a sigh of relief and closed her eyes, reaching out with her mind to
look for Lucas. She smiled faintly when she couldn't detect him. He was wearing the
crystal. As long as he kept it on, then Lena wouldn't be able to find him. Of course,
Tessa wouldn't be able to find him, either. He would be long gone from the place
she'd sent him to. She was about to vanish when three men came crashing into the
launch.

* * *

Bridger looked around the launch as he entered. Seeing only Tessa, he ran
up to her and grabbed her roughly by her arms. "Where's Lucas?"

Tessa easily extracted herself from his grip. "I don't know."

This only made Bridger even angrier. "You don't know?" he echoed. "What
do you mean? Where is he? What did you do with him?"

Tessa's gaze became cooler. "I sent him somewhere where I believed he
would be safe, Captain," she told him curtly. "He is wearing the crystal. It's
dampening his life force. No one can sense him, and they will be unable to until he
takes it off."

"Where did you send him?" Bridger demanded.

Tessa closed her eyes. In an instant, the group was transported to a thickly
wooded area. Before anyone could move, a sharp cry cut through the air around
them.

Bridger tensed up at the sound. "Lucas!"

No reply. Afraid for Lucas' safety, the group began to make their way
through the forest.

IV

Lucas whimpered in pain and clutched his right leg. He had been running
aimlessly since being transported to the woods, and had not been looking where he
was going. That had resulted in him not seeing the short but steep decline of the
slope on the other side of some shrubbery. Lucas had tumbled down the side,
earning some cuts and bruises and, he was sure, a broken leg.

"Lucas!"

Lucas heard the captain call his name, but was afraid to respond. It was
probably a trick. Those monsters were looking for him, and they wanted to kill him
for no good reason at all. Lucas began to shiver in the cooling night air, partly from
shock, and mostly from fear.

Gathering what courage he had left, Lucas pulled himself by his elbows
under the cover of some bushes and found a long, thick stick. Clutching the stick
convulsively, Lucas waited for the monsters to make their appearance.

"Lucas?"

The captain's voice was louder now, meaning that they were closer. Lucas
squeezed his eyes shut in fear, hoping and praying that he wouldn't be discovered.

No such luck.

Tessa's white dress appeared before him, and she drew the shrubs out of the
way to reveal his hiding place.

Bridger dropped to the ground at Lucas' side. "Lucas, thank God."

Lucas looked up at him, tears welling up in his blue eyes. He was shaking so
badly that the stick fell from his hands and onto the ground. Bridger simply drew
him into his arms and hugged him tightly.

"It's okay, kiddo," Bridger mumbled. "It's all right. I won't let anything
happen to you. I'm here now. Just relax."

Lucas gave into the sobs that were threatening to overwhelm him. He
clutched at the shirt of Bridger's uniform as he cried on the older man's shoulder.
He couldn't remember ever feeling this scared before in his life. He wished that
Bridger could just wave his hand and make everything better. Of course, the calm,
scientist's voice in him argued, that was impossible. He would just have to deal with
it.

When Lucas had finally cried himself dry, he sucked in a deep breath and
pulled back, wiping away the remains of his tears in shame. He tried to scoot away,
but let out a tiny cry when lightening bolts of pain shot up his leg.

"What?" Bridger asked, worried. "What is it?"

Lucas cleared his throat. "Um . . . m-my leg," he whispered. "I-I fell . . . I
think I-I broke it."

Bridger looked down at the injured limb and lightly touched it. This caused
Lucas to let out another cry. "Sorry. Can you move it?"

Lucas shook his head, more tears threatening to fall.

"I may be able to help." Tessa stepped forward and knelt down beside
Lucas. To Lucas, she said, "You will not want to be awake for this, and it will hurt
for a long time afterwards until you receive the proper care from your medical
facilities. I will do the best that I can for now. Okay?"

Lucas nodded, not trusting his voice to stay put. Tessa reached out and
placed her hand on Lucas' forehead. Lucas flinched slightly until he realized that
she wasn't going to hurt him, and he relaxed. Tessa closed her eyes. Almost
instantly, Lucas' eyes slid shut, and he began to fall back. Bridger caught him
before he could hurt himself further, and cradled the boy's tiny body in his arms.

Tessa's hands moved down to Lucas' broken leg. Her eyes remained closed
as a faint white light engulfed her hands and Lucas' leg. Bridger heard a soft groan
of pain from the unconscious child, but Lucas didn't awaken.

Tessa finished and slumped onto the ground. Her blue eyes fluttered open.
"I must go back to rest. You will be safe here until I return."

With that, she was gone in a faint burst of light.

Krieg and Ortiz exchanged looks of disbelief and crowded Bridger and
Lucas. Bridger wasn't ready to explain, so instead, he said, "Gentlemen, it looks as
though we're going to be camping out tonight. Chief, if you would be so kind as to
secure for us some kind of shelter. Lieutenant, we'll need you to find us some water
and food, in that order."

Both men nodded and headed into the woods to look for the items they
needed. Bridger leaned back against the trunk of a tall tree and gazed down at the
pale child in his arms.

"Kiddo, once I get you back on the ship, I am never letting you off again," he
whispered.

Lucas responded by sighing and burrowing comfortably into Bridger.
Bridger smiled faintly and hugged him closer.

* * *

Lena reappeared at the meeting place, her shoulders slumped in defeat. Sylven
grinned smugly at her.

"I see that you couldn't do any better," he taunted. "Where is the child?"

Lena took a menacing step towards him, but was stopped when she heard the
voice of their leader in her head.

"Stop!" he ordered. "You are acting like insolent children! You have a job to
do, and until you finish, you are not allowed to return! Am I understood?"

"Yes, my lord," Lena and Sylven replied contritely.

As soon as they felt their leader's presence leave, they glared at each other.

"If we want to accomplish our task, then we'll have to work together," Lena
spat. "It is too late to do anything now. We will pick up where we left off tomorrow at
first light."

Sylven nodded and vanished to find a suitable place of rest for the night. After
a moment's hesitation, Lena followed.

* * *

Lucas moaned softly and turned his head, trying to hide from the sun that
insisted on disturbing his sleep. He was almost back asleep when he felt his pillow
move. Confused, Lucas opened his eyes and found himself looking up into the
captain's smiling face.

"Well, good morning," Bridger greeted warmly. "I was beginning to wonder
if you were ever going to wake up."

Lucas rubbed the sleep from his eyes and looked around. It was just after
sunrise, and everyone else was awake and moving around. Krieg was busy getting a
fire started, and Ortiz was distributing water into several pieces of bark that were
curved enough to hold the liquid. Krieg noticed that Lucas was awake and gave the
boy a wide smile.

"Hey, Lucas!" he exclaimed. "Glad you could join us!"

Lucas realized that he was lying on the captain's lap, and he shifted himself
to the ground. He gasped when pain shot through his leg.

Bridger tightened his hold on Lucas, not letting him move. "Does your leg
still hurt?" he asked. "Tessa said it would still be acting up, but would be okay."

Lucas fought to regain control of his breathing. "I'm fine," he muttered.
"Just a little stiff, that's all."

Ortiz handed him some water, which Lucas gratefully accepted. He drank
the entire thing down without taking a breath.

"Careful," Bridger warned. "Don't drink too fast. You're liable to get a
stomachache that way."

Lucas ignored him, wanting to satiate his thirst. He glanced around the
forest. "Where's Tessa?"

Ortiz answered his question. "She took off after fixing your leg. She said
she'd come back, but . . ."

Lucas looked down and fingered the crystal that still hung from around his
neck. "She'll be back."

Once the water had been distributed, Ortiz and Krieg sat down closer to
Lucas and Bridger. "Do you guys mind letting us in on what's going on?" Krieg
asked.

Bridger and Lucas looked at each other. Bridger knew that, of everyone, he
had the most information about their situation. He also knew that he couldn't
reveal too much; Tessa had warned him not to let Lucas know about his true
identity so that he could fulfill his destiny. He took a few minutes to gather his
thoughts before speaking.

"A couple of weeks ago, when Tessa came to the seaQuest, she claimed that
there was an intruder on board," he stated. "This same intruder wanted to . . . hurt
Lucas."

"Why?" The question left Krieg's lips before he even realized he'd asked.

Bridger avoided Lucas' curious eyes. "She didn't quite say. All she told me
was that these . . . people were dangerous, and that they wanted to hurt Lucas. She
also said that they were all from a different dimension. Other than that, I don't
know."

Ortiz and Krieg could only stare at Bridger in shock. Lucas buried his face
in his hands in embarrassment. He was going to be teased about this for weeks on
end, and he knew it.

To his surprise, neither of his friends cracked a joke. When Lucas was able
to look at them, he found that they were regarding him with sympathy. Suddenly
feeling uncomfortable, Lucas shifted and cleared his throat.

"What now?" he asked.

"Now you die."

All four of them whirled around to face two intruders. To the adults, they
were a man and a woman, both blond and blue-eyed, and wearing deep green
jumpsuits. Lucas, however, saw two monsters that looked identical to the one he
had faced only weeks ago on the seaQuest.

The adults jumped to their feet, blocking the monsters' view of Lucas.

"You aren't going near him," Bridger snapped furiously.

The intruders stepped forward, then began to circle around the group on
opposite directions. Bridger, Krieg, and Ortiz crowded around Lucas, who was
huddled on the ground and staring up at the monsters fearfully.

Suddenly, the man jumped forward and attacked. Krieg and Ortiz both
grappled with him, keeping him from getting anywhere near Lucas. With them
busy, the woman moved to grab Lucas' arm when Bridger stepped in her way. She
growled.

"Move aside, human," she snarled. "You can't fight me. I will win."

Bridger glared at her. "We'll see about that."

The woman lashed out at Bridger, her nails cutting his cheek. Bridger
flinched, but swung his fist out at her, connecting solidly with her nose. The woman
cried out in surprise and pain and faltered. Recovering, she straightened and
stretched her hands out at Bridger. Her blue eyes began to glow an unearthly light
just as she sent a burst of energy shooting at Bridger. Bridger was lifted into the air
and propelled back several feet before finally coming to a stop on the ground several
yards away. The obstacle out of her way, the woman turned to Lucas.

The crystal around Lucas' neck was glowing a very bright white. The
woman had to shield her eyes from it as she reached out to touch Lucas. The instant
that her fingers came into contact with his skin, she let out a yelp and jumped back.

The man sent Krieg, then Ortiz, through the air with his energy and joined
his companion. He tried to touch Lucas, but with the same result.

"Now what?" he demanded.

"We can't kill him with that thing on!" the woman shouted back.

Lucas looked up from one monster to the other, too scared to move. All he
knew was that his crystal was keeping them from killing him. He felt a surge of
energy swell in the pit of his stomach, and, more to his surprise than to anyone
else's, he closed his eyes and lashed out instinctively. A startled cry of pain caused
him to open his eyes, and he saw one of the monsters lying on the ground and
writhing in agony. Confused, Lucas looked up at the second monster. It simply
stared at him with fear in its three eyes. Slowly, it backed away from him.

A flash of light appeared in front of Lucas, and Tessa stepped forward.
"Stay away from him," she commanded.

The woman sneered at Tessa. "I'm not leaving until the child is dead!"

Tessa never wavered. "You know that I won't allow that to happen."

"Then you'll die with him." The woman took a step back, prepared to fire a
burst of energy at Tessa. As the two women faced off, the man took the opportunity
to sneak around Tessa to Lucas.

Lucas was so intent on the two women that he didn't notice the second
monster until it wrapped its arms around him from behind. Lucas' startled cry
combined with the monster's cry of pain when it came into contact with Lucas' skin.
Before anyone could move, the monster vanished from sight, taking Lucas with it.

"Lucas!" Bridger cried out.

The woman smiled viciously at Tessa. "We win, Tessa. Until next time."

She vanished. Tessa sighed and closed her eyes in pain before meeting the
three stunned men.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

Krieg surged up to his feet. "You're 'sorry'?" he yelled. "What the hell do
you mean, you're 'sorry'?"

Ortiz joined him. "Are you just going to give up on him?"

Tessa's eyes were sad. "There's nothing I can do now. They have him."

It was Bridger's turn to be angry. "You aren't even going to try? You put
him through all of this, and you aren't going to try and help him? Dammit, he may
be important to your people's future, but he's even more important to us! He's all I
have left, and I'll be damned if I let you give up on him now!"

"It isn't that easy," Tessa argued weakly.

"What isn't so easy about it?" Bridger demanded. "Lucas' life is in danger!
We're going to find him, we're going to get him back, and we're going to take care
of this problem once and for all! Where is he?"

"It isn't that simple!" Tessa yelled. White energy pulsed and crackled around
her. "He was taken to their faction in my dimension! If I so much as set foot in
there, I would be killed on sight! Look, Lucas is safe as long as he keeps the crystal
on, but the minute he takes it off, then they'll kill him!"

"What are we supposed to do in the meantime?" Krieg wanted to know.

Tessa sighed, calming herself down. The energy slowly vanished as a result.
"There isn't anything that I can do. Not without getting myself and Lucas killed in
the process. I am too easily recognizable in my dimension. If we were to do
anything, then someone else would have to do it."

"I'll do it," Bridger volunteered immediately. "Just tell me what to do and
where to go. I'll get him out of there."

Tessa regarded him thoughtfully for the longest time before finally nodding.
"All right," she agreed. "But we'll need to start on your ship. That way we may
return you straight to his sanctuary without the fear of them following."

The world around them shifted too fast for the eye to watch, and the three
officers found themselves standing on the bridge of the seaQuest. Ford, Hitchcock,
Crocker, O'Niell, and the rest of the bridge officers stared at the newcomers in
surprise.

"Uh . . . sir?" Ford asked hesitantly.

Bridger recovered from his initial shock and shook his head. "I'll explain
later," he promised. He turned to Tessa. "When can we get started?"

"Immediately, if you're ready," she responded.

Bridger nodded and looked at Ortiz and Krieg. "You two . . . thank you for
your help. If I don't make it back, then . . ."

Ortiz nodded at the unspoken statement. Krieg frowned.

"You'll make it back," he said confidently. "You have to. Bring him back
safely."

Bridger smiled faintly and led Tessa into the wardroom. Once the door was
securely shut and locked behind them, Tessa nodded.

"This journey will be a difficult and dangerous one," she told him. "You
must be willing to leave your mind open to any sort of possibility. If you do not, you
will fail, and you will die.

I am going to send you there in my people's form. No one will recognize you
as human, except for Lucas, because he has the gift of true sight. Because no one of
your kind has ever gone over to my dimension, I am unsure as to what you will see
there. I will try my best to guide you from here. Mostly, your vision will be that of
a child's. When you see the faction, do not be frightened. It will be as Lucas sees
them. Remain calm. I will help where I can."

Bridger took a deep breath and nodded, feeling a spark of nervousness begin
to swell in the pit of his stomach. He knew that he was Lucas' only hope of survival.
He couldn't let him down.

Tessa closed her eyes and placed her hands on either side of Bridger's face,
like she had done before. Bridger closed his eyes almost involuntarily and waited
for something, anything, to happen. Feeling nothing, he opened his eyes. "Tessa, I
don't--."

The words died on his lips when he took notice of his surroundings. He was
standing in the middle of what appeared to be a marketplace, with vibrant colors
splashed all over the place. People, at least Bridger thought they were people,
walked by and laughed. They were tall humanoid figures with silvery skin and
three eyes each. They all had white hair, but cut and styled in all sorts of different
ways. They were all clad in the same bright colors of the rainbow that decorated the
walls of the marketplace. Looking down, Bridger saw that he himself wore a
jumpsuit of red, orange, and yellow. Briefly, he wondered if this was how Lucas
saw Tessa.

No, Tessa's voice echoed in his mind. Lucas sees me as you have seen me.
While he is powerful, he is still untrained. I can disguise my true self from his eyes.
The faction's hatred for him is too powerful for them to hide their true selves from his
eyes.

"Oh." Bridger shook his head.

Move south, Tessa ordered. Through the marketplace. Keep going until you
see a lake. Once you reach the lake, I will give you instructions. Follow them very
carefully, or you will not make it to the faction.

Taking another deep breath, Bridger slowly began to make his way through
the crowds and towards where he hoped he would find Lucas.

Hang in there, kiddo, Bridger thought. I'm on my way.

V

Lucas opened his eyes, feeling weak and tired. He moaned and looked up.

And screamed.

He was surrounded by the monsters, in the middle of a large room on a large
table that resembled an altar too much for Lucas' liking. At his scream, the
monsters backed away and clutched at their heads in pain. Lucas curled into a tight
ball and looked at them.

One monster stepped forward and spoke to him in a foreign tongue. Seeing
that Lucas didn't understand, the monster closed its eyes for several moments, then
tried again.

"Welcome, young one," it greeted. "It would appear that, thanks to Tessa,"
he practically spat the name out, "you are to be our guest for several days. Please,
make yourself comfortable. You will be here for a long time."

Lucas could only stare at the monster in fear. He shut his eyes tightly,
hoping that, once he opened them again, they would be gone.

No such luck.

"Wh-What do you w-want from me?" he asked, his voice wavering.

The monster grinned, showing its yellowish fangs. "Nothing yet," it replied.
"But when the time comes, you will know."

It turned and walked away, leaving Lucas on the altar. The other monsters
stared at him curiously, occasionally working up the courage to approach and touch
him, only to let out tiny grunts of pain when they were burned. Lucas buried his
face in his knees, praying that someone would come and save him from this
nightmare.

* * *

The leader approached Lena and Sylven. "Well done," he congratulated them.
"Though it would have been preferable if you had managed to kill him."

Lena and Sylven bowed their heads in shame. "We were faced with many
obstacles," Sylven informed the leader. "We would have accomplished in our mission
if Tessa had not arrived."

"What is done is done," the leader replied. "We must find a way to make the
child remove that infernal crystal so that we can destroy him."

"Perhaps if we appeared as Tessa?" Lena suggested. "Convince him to give it
to us?"

The leader nodded thoughtfully. "You may very well try," he agreed. "But
remember; the child possesses true sight. It will take much energy and effort to
conceal your form from his eyes."

Lena grinned maliciously and left to prepare for her plan.

* * *

Bridger stopped and gazed over the glittering blue lake that was spread
before him. Set amongst a few tall trees and surrounded by beautiful purple
wildflowers, the scene looked almost like paradise.

"Tessa?" he called. "I'm here. Now what?"

Be very careful, Tessa's voice warned him. They're close. Can you feel the
energy pulse through your body?

Bridger thought for a minute. Sure enough, he felt the familiar energy pulse
that Tessa had shown him before. "Yes. Where is he?"

Go to your right and walk to the lake's edge, near the large rocks, Tessa guided
him. Knock on the largest rock three times, then stand back.

Bridger did as instructed. To his shock, the rock lifted to reveal a hidden
stone staircase winding down below the lake. "Now what?"

You will not be able to contact me once you enter their lair, Tessa said. Listen
carefully. Follow the energy to its source. Lucas will be on the other side. Once you
have him, bring him out into the open and out into the lake. The lake will stop them
long enough for me to bring you back. Most importantly; do not, under any
circumstances, allow Lucas to remove the crystal. The minute he does, he will die.
That cannot happen. Hurry. The fate of our people rests in your hands.

Despite the situation, Bridger smiled wryly. "Thanks. Just what I needed to
know."

He took a deep breath and began to walk down the stairs.

* * *

Lucas rubbed his red eyes with the sleeve of his shirt, trying desperately to
stop crying. The monsters had all left awhile ago, seemingly bored with him. Lucas
couldn't remember feeling so scared or alone in all his life, and he wished
desperately that Bridger were there with him. At least, with the seaQuest captain
there, he'd feel a little safer. He hated feeling so dependent, but he couldn't help it.
He was scared.

The sound of the door closing caused him to look up. His eyes lit up with
hope when he saw Tessa standing in the room with him.

"Tessa?" he whispered, afraid that if he made too much noise, then the
monsters would come back.

Tessa smiled and moved to his side. "We must hurry. I can help you, but
you need to give me your crystal."

Lucas convulsively clutched at the crystal. "M-My crystal? Why?"

Tessa's smile faltered slightly. "I can't get you out of here while you're
wearing it. This place is shielded. Now hurry. We don't have much time."

Lucas looked down at his crystal. He wanted to do as Tessa directed, but
something was nagging him in the back of his mind. He couldn't take it off.
Looking back up at Tessa, he started when he saw her form shift ever so slightly
into something else. It was so quick that he almost missed it.

The fear that began to well up in the pit of Lucas' stomach caused his crystal
to glow a bright white. Tessa looked down at it and narrowed her eyes. Lucas could
see her form shift again, this time into one of the monsters that had captured him.
At this sudden revelation, Lucas backpedaled to the edge of the altar.

"Y-You're not Tessa!" he yelled.

Glaring at him, the monster shifted back to its original form. "Remove the
crystal!" it demanded.

It reached a talon out to Lucas, but Lucas flinched and yelled in terror. The
monster recoiled and clutched at its head in pain.

* * *

Bridger stopped when he heard a scream pierce the stillness of the cavern.
Getting over his initial shock, he took off down the hall to where he believed the
source was.

He had just reached a door when it was flung open. Bridger ducked out of
sight and nearly let out a startled yell when a tall, hideous monster came storming
out. He stared at it for the longest time, suddenly understanding Lucas' fears. If
this was what he saw each time he faced the monsters, then it was no wonder Lucas
was so frightened. Shaking himself out of his reverie, Bridger pulled the door open
and slipped inside.

A tiny, shivering figure was lying curled up on an altar on the other side of
the room. Bridger hurried over to Lucas' side and lightly touched Lucas' arm.

Lucas jumped at the sudden touch, surprised when no pain followed. He
lifted watery blue eyes up and gasped. Bridger suddenly found Lucas in his arms,
hugging him tightly.

"Captain?" he asked. "It's really you?"

"Yeah, it's really me, kiddo," Bridger replied softly, holding Lucas tightly.
"Are you all right?"

Lucas nodded, his face still buried in Bridger's shoulder.

"Let's get you out of here," Bridger said. "Can you walk?"

Lucas reluctantly released Bridger and slid off of the altar. He nearly fell
over in pain when his injured leg hit the floor. Bridger quickly wrapped his arms
around Lucas and set him back onto the altar.

"My leg still hurts," Lucas informed Bridger. "Whatever Tessa did isn't
working anymore."

"Not a problem." Gently, Bridger scooped Lucas up into his arms. "Let's
get out of here. These . . . people give me the creeps."

Lucas looked at Bridger in shock as Bridger began to carry Lucas from the
room. "You can see them?"

Bridger nodded. "Tessa sent me here and told me that I'd see things the way
you do. She's waiting for us back on the seaQuest."

Lucas nodded, relieved, and rested his head on Bridger's shoulder. His relief
was short lived, however, when a loud voice thundered against the walls of the
cavern.

"The One is missing! Seal off all of the exits!"

Bridger tightened his hold on Lucas and started to run down the hall to
where he knew the stairs would be. He had almost made it when something
clamped down on his shoulder. Bridger whirled around and came face to . . . chest
with one of the creatures. The creature released Bridger and seized Lucas' shirt.
Lucas cried out in fear.

Bridger, thinking quickly, sent a vicious kick into the creature's leg. The
creature let out a squeal of pain and drew back, letting go of Lucas. Bridger took
the opportunity and ran up the stairs and into the sunlight. He heard several of the
things close behind, and he jumped into the lake with Lucas still cradled in his arms.

"Captain?" Lucas asked, shivering as the frigid water splashed up onto him.

"Hang in there, kiddo," Bridger assured him. "We're gonna be fine. Just
hang on."

Lucas nodded and glanced behind them. The creatures paused on the shore,
then jumped in after them. Lucas tightened his grip on the captain, terrified.

Bridger reached the center of the lake, which was about chest high, and
paused. He looked over his shoulders at the pursuing creatures, down at Lucas'
frightened but trusting face, and finally at the sky. "Whenever you're ready, Tessa!
Now would be a good time!"

Bridger closed his eyes and said a silent prayer that she would save them in
time. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and he whirled around, prepared to fight off
anyone who tried to take Lucas from his arms. He opened his eyes and couldn't
help the grin of relief at a very tired-looking Tessa.

"Well done," she greeted him. "No one who has ever entered their lair has
ever left alive."

Bridger stared at her in shock. "Now you tell me."

Tessa ignored the comment and smiled down at Lucas. Lucas looked up at
her, his expression revealing fear, pain, and weariness.

"You did well," she told the child. "Now you must rest."

She placed a hand on Lucas' forehead. Lucas closed his eyes and
immediately fell into a deep, peaceful sleep. When she was done, Tessa looked up at
Bridger.

"I would think that, after this, you would remember not to allow him to leave
his sanctuary," she scolded lightly.

"Believe me," Bridger said. "Lucas is never going to leave the seaQuest
again."

Tessa nodded, then tilted her head to one side. "The power has shifted," she
commented. "His time draws near. Our people will be reunited soon. Very soon.
When the appointed hour arrives, I will return." With that, she vanished in a burst
of light.

Bridger stared at the vacant spot for several minutes, shook his head, then
carried Lucas from the wardroom.

The end