Sanctuary 3
I
Lucas . . .

The slumbering child stirred restlessly in his sleep before settling back down
against his soft pillow.


It's Time, Lucas . . .

Lucas gasped in terror as flashes of carnage appeared before him in his
dream, surrounding him with the stench of rot and decay. Lucas covered his nose
and mouth with his hand, but the acrid odor invaded his nostrils, relentless. The
boy stumbled back and turned to run.

Someone was blocking his way.

Tessa.

"The Time has come for you to fulfill your destiny, Lucas," she said.

No.

"NO!!!!!"

Lucas sat up in his bed, sucking in gulps of fresh air. Sweat covered his
brow, chilling his cooling body. On shaky legs, Lucas stood and hurried out of his
room, unsure of his intended destination.

So disturbed was he that he failed to notice a pair of transparent hands
reaching out to him from his pillow.

* * *

Captain Bridger's sleep was no more restful. He was standing in the center
of what had once apparently been a very bloody battle. The stench of death
surrounded him from all sides, but what was most eerie was the absolute silence.

"Captain Bridger."

Bridger turned and saw the last person he ever wanted to see. "Tessa? What
are you doing here? Where is here?"

Tessa's face bore an expression of sorrow and loneliness. "This is what is to
become of both our peoples unless Lucas saves us."

Bridger shook his head, not understanding. "What do you mean? He's just
a boy."

"A boy with immense power," Tessa corrected. "I have brought you here to
warn you. Lucas' sanctuary is weakening. It can no longer withstand the
confinement of your ship's walls. It burns to be free, and as a result, this sanctuary
can no longer protect him."

Bridger paled. "I thought that you said he was safe here."

Tessa nodded solemnly. "He was. But Lucas' power is too great. His Time
to fulfill his destiny has arrived. We must act quickly before the faction can reach
him."

"What do we have to do?" Bridger demanded.

Tessa shook her head. "You need to do nothing. Your role has been fulfilled
in Lucas' life. I will take him and guide him to his destiny."

"And then what?" Bridger demanded. "Just leave him to his own devices
when you're done? Toss him aside once he's used up his usefulness to you? He is
not some toy you can discard when you're done playing with him!"

Tessa began to grow angry. "I care about him as well, Captain."

"Yes, I've seen that," Bridger replied hotly. "You cared about him enough to
risk his life against some monster that was bigger and stronger and more powerful
than he was! You sent him on his own in the middle of some unknown forest where
he got hurt! Hell, you all but gave him up for dead when more monsters took him
back to your realm. If this time is going to be anything like that, then you're damn
well not keeping me here! Now, I'll ask you again. What do we have to do?"

Tessa looked about ready to argue, but the determination and protectiveness
burning in Bridger's eyes made her rethink her decision. "Very well. Lucas is
blocking me. I can't tell him what he needs to do. Find him, and tell him to wear
his crystal. Both of you meet me at your dusk where your sanctuary is at its
strongest. You will know where that is when the time comes. I will take you both to
a realm separate from either of ours and begin to train Lucas. He is not to be told of
his destiny in the meantime, regardless of the situation. I will tell him when it is
time for him to know."

Bridger nodded and suddenly found himself staring up at the ceiling in his
cabin. Standing, he donned his robe and left to look for his youngest charge.

II

Lucas didn't notice he was cold until his back began to ache from his
shivering. He paused in the hallway and pressed his back against the wall, hoping to
calm himself down. The dream had really shaken him up. Thank goodness it was
so late. He didn't feel like explaining to anyone why he was so scared.

Looking around, Lucas found himself close to Bridger's cabin. He had been
so lost in thought that his feet had simply taken over. Now that he knew where he
was, Lucas debated whether or not to disturb the captain with his dream.

The decision was made for him when Bridger suddenly turned a corner and
found Lucas huddled against the wall. "Lucas?" he asked. "What are you doing on
this side of the ship? And so late at night?"

Lucas' wide blue eyes stared up at the captain. He was unsure of what to tell
him. Bridger had helped him so much since his last bout of nightmares had receded
the month before. He decided to try and talk about this latest one.

"I-I saw Tessa," he stammered uncertainly. "In m-my dream. We were in a
battlefield, with a lot of dead bodies. Tessa told me it was my time. That's when I
woke up. I thought she wanted to help me. Why does she want to kill me?"

The last two sentences poured out in such a rush that Lucas couldn't stop
them. Bridger pulled Lucas into his arms and hugged him.

"She doesn't want to kill you, kiddo," Bridger assured the trembling boy.
"Why else would she have helped us two months ago?"

Lucas shrugged his shoulders as much as he could in Bridger's grasp. "I
dunno," he mumbled.

Bridger turned Lucas around and began to walk him to his cabin. "I want
you to stay with me tonight. I have something to tell you, but it can wait till
morning."

Lucas nodded and walked with Bridger, too tired to argue. Besides, he
didn't feel like being alone right then.

Behind them, numerous arms stretched through the bulkhead, reaching out
to touch the child.

* * *

The overwhelming sense of power emanating from the One consumed
everyone, drawing them closer and closer, filling them with a desire to see and touch
the greatness of such magnitude. The walls were the only things standing in their way,
but with their combined effort, they would be able to tear them down and absorb every
ounce of power that compelled them.

Despite attempts to thwart them, the Faction had grown in number as a result
of the taste of infinite power. It wouldn't be long before the One would be at their
mercy. Not even Tessa and those like her could stop them now. Not when their Time
was so close at hand.

"Keep pushing!" the leader bellowed. "Think of what awaits you inside!
Hurry before the One is taken from us!"

With renewed efforts, the faceless mass pushed harder at the walls of the
sanctuary, now more determined than ever to achieve their goal.

* * *

Lucas opened heavy-lidded eyes and gasped at the sight of several hollow
faces calling out to him from the ceiling. Rubbing his eyes, he looked again and saw
nothing. He snorted to himself, thinking his nightmare affected him more than he
believed.

"Well, good morning."

Lucas glanced over and saw Bridger sitting at his desk across the room.
Bridger pushed away from what he was working on and approached the boy.
"Sleep well?"

Lucas blushed and nodded. He sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the
captain's bed, and stretched. "What time is it?"

Bridger smiled and sat down next to him. "Almost eleven. How are you
feeling?"

Lucas ignored the question as he stared at Bridger in shock. "Eleven?
Shouldn't you be on the bridge? I mean, I'm fine. You didn't have to stay here."

Bridger sighed, suddenly becoming very serious. "Actually, kiddo, there's
another reason I'm here."

Lucas tensed. "What?"

Bridger searched Lucas' blue eyes. "I had a dream last night . . . Tessa was
there."

At the sound of her name, Lucas became pale.

"The battlefield she showed you, she showed me as well," Bridger continued.
"She explained it as a possible future. Of both our peoples."

"Possible future?" Lucas echoed. "It doesn't have to be that way?"

Bridger shook his head. "No. All I can tell you now is that tonight we have
to meet her and go with her."

"Where?" Lucas asked.

"I don't know," Bridger told him.

"Well, why?" Lucas pressed. "Why us? Why not somebody else?"

"I can't say," Bridger evaded.

Lucas stared at him for a long moment, then looked away. "What do we do
in the meantime?"

"Prepare," Bridger replied. "Same as if we were going on shore leave. Oh-
Tessa also said to bring your crystal. You still have it, right?"

Lucas nodded.

"All right, then," Bridger continued. "I already informed Jonathon about
our absences from the seaQuest for awhile. Do you have any experiments you need
someone to look after while you're gone?"

Lucas thought for a minute. "Just the vocoder. It acts up every now and
then for no reason whatsoever. I can show Dr. Westphalen how to fix it if it
happens again."

Bridger nodded. "We'll visit her today and get things set up with her. Go
ahead back to your room and get your crystal, then meet me in medbay. We'll get
something to eat once we've finished talking to Kristen, all right?"

"Okay." Lucas stood and headed out of Bridger's cabin. He paused in the
doorway and turned back to face the captain. "Sir? Um . . . thanks. For last night,
and stuff."

Bridger smiled faintly and nodded. Lucas smiled back and hurried out the
door to his room.

He was halfway to his destination when a chill crawled up his spine, freezing
him inside and out. Lucas stopped, suddenly very frightened, but unsure why. He
turned his blue eyes to the bulkhead behind him and gasped in shock and terror at
the numerous transparent arms reaching out to him from the solid wall. Lucas
backed up against the wall opposite the hands, only to let out a scream of fright
when several more hands wrapped themselves around him from behind. Lucas
struggled to free himself, but each second he remained captive, more arms reached
out to hold him.

"Let me go!" Lucas shouted. "Help me! Somebody! Please! Let me go!"

"Lucas, what . . . oh my God!"

Ben Krieg tore down the hall to Lucas' side. Lucas let out a sob of relief.

"Ben, help me, please," he pleaded, tears filling his wide eyes.

"Okay, Lucas, just calm down." Krieg tried to touch the arms pinning Lucas
to the wall, but his hand went through them. He gripped the front of Lucas' pajama
shirt and tugged. He felt Lucas starting to break free, and tugged harder.

"Almost . . ." Krieg grunted.

"Ben, what the hell? Oh my God!"

Tim O'Neill joined the two and stared at the scene in utter amazement.

"Tim, don't just stand there!" Krieg barked. "Help me!"

O'Neill snapped out of his shock and helped Krieg in his tug-of-war to get
Lucas free. As the two pulled harder, loud moans began to fill the corridors,
deafening them. With one final tug, the three tumbled to the floor.

"Lucas, you okay?" Krieg asked.

Lucas nodded numbly. "W-What's going on?"

"I was hoping you could tell us," Krieg replied. "Thanks for the help, Tim."

"Uh, guys, I don't want to alarm you, but I don't think we should stick
around much longer," O'Neill said.

Krieg and Lucas looked around and saw the walls on both sides of the
corridor filled with reaching arms, searching for Lucas. Lucas gasped and
stumbled into Krieg. "I-I need my crystal. Captain Bridger said I was going to
need it."

"Okay, we'll get your crystal," Krieg assured him. "In your quarters?"

Lucas nodded.

The three began the trek to Lucas' quarters, dodging arms on all sides when
suddenly Lucas' foot caught on something and fell. He looked and cried out when
he saw a hand clutching his ankle. Krieg lifted the boy up from behind as O'Neill
tore Lucas' foot from the hand's grasp. More arms appeared on the floor, passing
through the officers as they reached for Lucas.

"Oh God," Lucas moaned. "Now what?"

"Run!" Krieg gripped one of Lucas' arms and began to tear down the
corridor at an incredible speed. O'Neill's footsteps pounded close behind them as
they ran furiously, staying just ahead of the many arms reaching out to catch hold
of the terrified child.

"Faster, Lucas!" Krieg cried out. "Faster! Come on!"

Lucas tried to put on more speed, but found he was quickly running out of
energy. A quick glance behind him at the hands catching up, reaching out, put
wings on his feet and he pulled ahead of his friends by several steps.

Lucas was running so fast that he nearly overshot his room. Krieg snagged
the back of his shirt and swung him towards the door. Lucas' momentum carried
him right into the door, hitting it as he opened the hatch and stumbled inside.

The crystal was fairly easy to find. It sat forgotten on his desk, but was now
glowing a brilliant white. Lucas moved to take a step for it and found that he was
stuck. Looking down, he saw several pairs of hands wrapped around his ankles. He
cried out, tugging at the hands, and lost balance, falling to the ground. Numerous
hands reached up and held him to the floor. Lucas was dimly aware of his friends
calling his name, but the terror from this unknown assault was building to an all-
new high. Lucas squeezed his teary eyes shut and, instinctively, retreated to a part
of his mind that called to him. He felt a rush of warmth overtake him, and he
welcomed it. It soothed him. Focusing on the feeling, Lucas felt a surge of energy
rise up in him, and he instinctively lashed out with his mind, ridding himself of all
feelings of fear and discomfort floating around him. A bright flash went off in front
of his closed eyes. When he opened them, the hands were gone. O'Neill and Krieg
were the only ones with him once more, staring at him as though he'd just grown a
second head.

"Wh-What?" Lucas stammered nervously.

"How did you do that?" O'Neill asked.

"Do what?" Lucas pressed.

"You just . . . mumbled something really bizarre, and then, you just . . ."
Krieg trailed off.

"What?" Lucas was beginning to get annoyed.

"There was this bright light," O'Neill tried again.

Krieg strode over to Lucas' crystal, grabbed it, and gave it to the boy.
"Here. Just put this on. Whatever you did, I don't think it's gone for good. Let's
get you to Bridger, and fast."

Lucas slid the crystal around his neck and stood. With his two escorts, he
hurried off to medbay. The sooner he and the captain took care of this problem, the
better.

* * *

Kristen Westphalen glanced up from her desk as Bridger entered the room.
"Well, hello, Nathan. If you're looking for Lucas, I'm afraid he isn't here yet."

"I know." Bridger quickly filled her in on the events that had transpired the
night before. "We're going to be leaving later tonight to finish this whole mess once
and for all."

"But what are you going to do?" Westphalen asked. "Where are you going
to go? Do you trust this Tessa enough to not only go blindly with her, but to have
Lucas go as well?"

Bridger sighed wearily. "I don't think I have much of a choice. I've seen
what we're up against, and I can't let Lucas face these things alone. Not if Tessa
knows how to fight them. One way or another, it ends."

Further conversation was interrupted as Krieg, O'Neill, and Lucas tore into
the medbay as though their lives depended on making it there. They skidded to a
halt in front of Bridger and Westphalen, gasping for breath.

"What is it?" Westphalen demanded. "What's wrong?"

"Hands . . . everywhere," Krieg managed to say. "All reaching . . . for
Lucas."

"What?" Bridger asked in disbelief.

"They were everywhere, Captain," Lucas insisted. "It was as if the walls
were like some kind of flimsy plastic, and these hands were pushing against them. I
thought-."

"Look!" O'Neill cried, pointing at the far wall.

A vague image of a man was trying to force his way through the wall and into
the medbay, his hands stretching out towards Lucas. Another set of hands
appeared beside the man, and another, much to everyone's surprise.

"Oh my God," Westphalen breathed.

Bridger grabbed Lucas' arm. "Come on, let's go!"

The group all began to run out the door, but something caught hold of
Lucas' pant leg, ripping him from Bridger's grip and sending him sprawling to the
floor. Lucas looked back and cried out at the sight of two hands clutching his leg.
This time, however, his foot was beginning to sink through the floor with the hands.

"Captain!" Lucas yelled. "Help me!"

His other leg began to sink down, trapping Lucas to the floor up to his knees.
More hands appeared, forcing his hands down and out of sight.

"Lucas!" Bridger fell to his knees beside the terrified boy and grasped him
around the waist, but it was no use. There were too many hands. Bridger felt Lucas
being pulled further through what was supposed to be solid steel.

"Captain, don't let me go, please don't let me go," Lucas mumbled, his voice
breaking. The crystal around his neck was pulsing a brilliant white, but was
ineffective against so many hands.

"I'm not going to let you go, kiddo," Bridger said, his voice strained against
the effort of holding onto Lucas. "I promise."

By this time, Krieg, O'Neill, and Westphalen had all joined them, looping
arms around Lucas where they could and trying to pull him up. Unnoticed, three
liquid forms appeared from the floor around them and latched onto them, pulling
them away from Lucas.

Krieg fought against his captor. "No! Let me go! Lucas!"

O'Neill and Westphalen struggled, but to the same affect. They could only
sit and watch, helpless, and Bridger alone tried to free their friend.

Bridger felt more than saw more arms rising up to help pull Lucas away
from him. He realized, at that point, that there was nothing he could do to keep
Lucas from being taken. Lucas would be going with them, and there was nothing
anyone could do to stop it.

Bridger did the only thing he could do. Rolling over, he covered Lucas with
his body and tightened his arms around the boy. Lucas would be going, but he
would not be going alone.

To the horrified eyes of his crew and friends, Bridger allowed the hands to
seize hold and pull himself and Lucas through the floor.

And into hell.

III

"The captain and Lucas did what?"

Westphalen stood perfectly still, unaffected by Ford's incredulous outburst.
O'Neill flushed and looked down at his feet, but Krieg stepped forward, anger
evident on his face.

"They disappeared through the floor in medbay," Krieg echoed. "We saw it
happen. And we have to find them."

"And just how do you expect to do that?" Ford demanded. "Sweep the ocean
floor, hoping we find them out there somewhere? If what you say really did happen,
then we don't have the first clue where to start!"

"Go to where the blue waters turn the color of blood. You will find your
answers there."

All four officers in the conference room jumped at the new voice. They
turned and found a familiar figure standing serenely by the door.

"You!" Krieg cried. He stormed over to Tessa. "Where are they?"

"They are beyond my reach," Tessa explained. "The Time- Lucas' Time- has
come. Lucas will be brought to the last place in your dimension where my people
existed. It has no name, but the water runs red every solstice."

"Why there?" Ford demanded.

"One of two things will occur there," Tessa told him. "Something very great,
where Lucas will emerge the savior of both our peoples, or something so tragic that
will mean the end. For all life."

O'Neill muttered a silent prayer.

"What about the captain?" Ford wanted to know. "What about him?"

"He wasn't supposed to be taken," Tessa admitted. "No one knows where he
stands in the prophecy, and until they realize it, he will be safe."

"What are they going to do to Lucas?" Krieg demanded, frustrated at his
own helplessness.

"If they act now, they will lose," Tessa told him. "At the appointed Time,
they will bring Lucas to the Last Site and offer him as a sacrifice to Rissa in what
the Faction believes will save them and bring them power. And rid them of all
human life."

As Tessa had offered her explanation, the faces of her audience had changed
from shock to stunned disbelief.

"Oh, is that all?" Krieg muttered sarcastically. "I thought it was something
serious."

Ford rubbed his eyes wearily. "So we go to this place where the water turns
red. Where on earth is it? And what exactly are we supposed to do when we get
here?"

"There is an area in the Pacific Ocean, about fifty or sixty miles west of the
island of Palau which contains an unusually large number of dinoflagellates at this
time of the year," Westphalen offered. "No one is entirely certain why this occurs,
but fishermen on the island report a large number of deceased marine life that come
their way because of it."

"All right," Ford said. "We'll go there. But what do we do when we arrive?
I doubt the captain and Lucas are floating in the middle of the ocean there waiting
for us."

"You'll know what to do when the Time comes." With these last words,
Tessa vanished in a flash of light.

Ford stared, stunned at the spot Tessa had stood moments before. Even after
speaking with Bridger about her appearances on the seaQuest twice before, Ford
could hardly believe what had just happened. Physically shaking himself into
action, he looked at Westphalen.

"Give the coordinates to the helmsman, and get us there as fast as possible,"
Ford ordered. "The sooner we take care of this, the better."

"We'll also want to seal Darwin inside the ship for the duration of the
mission," Westphalen advised. "Red tide is fatal to all marine life."

Ford nodded. "Dismissed."

When they had left, Ford turned to his communications console and frowned.
Hands had reached through the bulkhead and had pulled a fifteen-year-old boy and
the captain of the UEO's most powerful submarine through the floor and off the
ship into thin air, and now said submarine was on its way into the middle of
nowhere on the orders of a woman who had just vanished from his sight.

What on earth was he going to tell the UEO?

* * *

Bridger opened his eyes and groaned as pain assaulted his head. He tried to
remember at what point the night before he had decided to go on a bender, and
why, since he certainly fell as though he had the mother of all hangovers. He
attempted to move, only to discover that his arms were secured around a smaller
shape beneath him. Bridger turned his head to see what he was lying on when pain
exploded in white stars before his eyes.

When the pain had subsided, Bridger found it was easier for him to move his
head. He looked down and found Lucas, unmoving in his arms. Memories of
earlier that day flooded through him. Bridger gasped quietly and tried to move off
of the child, but discovered that his wrists were bound together around Lucas,
trapping the boy to him.

"Lucas," Bridger hissed, desperate to rouse Lucas, but careful of the
headache he knew the boy would be waking up to. "Lucas, wake up!"

"Oooh," Lucas moaned, shifting beneath Bridger. "What hit me?"

"Lucas, I need you to untie me so I can move," Bridger whispered.

Lucas let out another pain-filled moan, but managed to look down at the
hands clasped around his chest. "Uh . . . Captain?"

"What?"

"I don't think I can do that."

"What?! Why not?" Bridger maneuvered himself and Lucas until they were
lying on their right sides and looked at his hands over the boy's shoulder.

His wrists, and part of his forearms, were bound tightly with some kind of
iridescent cord that pulsed lightly. The crystal around Lucas' neck pulsed in time
with the cord, much to Bridger's surprise.

"I guess our captors didn't tie us up after all," Bridger stated. "The question
is, how do we get your crystal to let me go?"

Lucas didn't respond. His eyes appeared to be closed. Bridger watched in
amazement as the crystal began to glow brighter, triggering the cord to do the same.
Slowly, carefully, the cord slipped from Bridger's arms and slid back into the light
of the crystal until they blended together, shining so bright that Bridger had to look
away. When the light faded to a soft pulse in the crystal, Bridger found that he was
free.

Bridger pulled back and sat up. "How did you do that?" he asked,
massaging his wrists.

Lucas sat up next to him, his face a mask of confusion and embarrassment.
"I don't know, I . . . I remember, on the ship, wanting you to keep hold of me, not let
me go . . . I guess I believed that if I could do the same thing, but in reverse, it would
work." Frightened eyes met Bridger. "Captain? What's happening to me? I know
Tessa told you something, but she isn't here right now. I need to know. Please."

Bridger sighed. He knew Lucas was right, but Tessa had been very explicit
in her instructions. If telling Lucas the truth was going to put the child's life at
stake, he had to keep his peace.

"I'm sorry, Lucas," he said. "I promised not to tell. But when the time
comes, I will tell you what's going on. Believe me."

The storm building in Lucas' face was interrupted by a frigid wind whipping
around them. The two of them noticed their surroundings for the first time.

They were in a large room, with no windows and no visible doors.
Everything was gray, including the mist that seemed to envelope them. It was quite
cold, but not to the point where they would need heavier clothes. A door slammed
somewhere off in the distance, echoing off of the empty walls. Bridger instinctively
seized Lucas' wrist and held tight.

A large creature unlike any they had seen in Tessa's world was approaching
them. It was as big as the monsters that had kidnapped Lucas before, but it had a
drab gray coloring- nothing like the vibrant silver of Tessa's people. Its three eyes
were glazed over, as if it were unaware of its surroundings. A plain beige jumpsuit
was all it wore.

"Captain?" Lucas asked, his voice hushed and frightened.

"As long as you're wearing your crystal, they can't hurt you," Bridger
reminded him. "And I'm here with you. You'll be fine."

The creature stopped inches away from Lucas, its sightless eyes fixed on the
child. "You will come with me."

Lucas looked at Bridger. Bridger stood, bringing Lucas to his feet and
pushing the boy behind him. His grip never loosened from Lucas' wrist.

"Take us back to our ship," Bridger commanded.

The creature fixed its sightless eyes on Bridger. Lifting a slender hand with
long, thin fingers, it released strands of vibrant blue light, which wrapped
themselves tightly around Bridger's neck. Bridger choked, clutching at the
offending strands with his free hand.

"Stop it!" Lucas shouted.

With his cry came a blaze of brilliant white light, wrapping around Bridger
and breaking the blue strands' stranglehold. Bridger sucked in a lungful of air,
startled.

The creature remained impassive. "You must come."

Bridger regarded the creature for a moment, then turned to Lucas. "C'mon,
kiddo. We may as well do as it says."

"Captain?" Lucas asked.

"I think it's been brainwashed or something," Bridger explained. "All it
knows is that we have to go with it. I suggest we do as it says. Maybe whoever or
whatever it's taking us to see will have answers."

Lucas nodded, looking terrified, but willing to go along with whatever the
captain said. Bridger gave his wrist a reassuring squeeze, then turned to face the
creature.

"We will go with you," he said simply.

The creature turned and began to walk in the direction it had come, clearly
expecting its two captives to follow. With Bridger's hand moving to Lucas'
shoulder, they began to walk.

IV

"Commander, we've arrived at the coordinates," the helmsman informed
Ford.

"Anything out there?" Ford asked.

"WSKRs report nothing," Ortiz responded. "Not a single biologic. The red
tide has this part of the ocean completely cleared."

"Now what?" Westphalen spoke up. With her mind focused on her missing
friends, she was unable to concentrate on her experiments. She had chosen, instead,
to wait for news on the bridge.

Ford settled back in his chair. "Now we wait."

* * *

The creature had led Bridger and Lucas across the vastness of the room until
pausing before a wall. Bridger and Lucas looked on in amazement as the creature
reached out and, sending out the same blue strands that had almost strangled the
captain, created a door in the otherwise unmarred wall. Grasping a long, thin
handle, the creature tugged the door open and continued on.

This room was quite different from the one the humans had left. There was
what appeared to be dirt on the floor, and walls made of stone and earth. A number
of creatures filled the room, clustered around something that Bridger couldn't quite
see. Some of the creatures looked identical to their guide, who moved to join its
companions without giving another thought to its captives. The rest of the beings in
the room were the monsters Bridger and Lucas remembered so vividly from their
previous encounter in Tessa's dimension. These monsters did not have the glazed
look of the gray beings. These monsters were now eyeing him and Lucas with
hungry looks.

Lucas moved closer to Bridger as the captain wrapped a protective arm
around Lucas' shoulders. They stopped and stared, wondering what the next move
would be.

The crowd before them parted as a tall and seemingly elderly monster
approached them. It was dressed in resplendent robes of aqua and purple, and it
carried itself with authority. Clearly, this was the leader.

"So," the monster stated. "We have you at last. You put up a valiant fight,
of course, but in the end it was our victory, as you knew it must be."

It approached and held out a limb toward Lucas. Bridger gripped him
tighter and angled the boy away from the monster. The monster's three eyes
flickered on Bridger, reaching for the captain instead. Searing pain met the
monster's touch, harming it and sending bolts of lightning up Bridger's arm. The
monster took a step back and regarded Bridger, then Lucas, in a new light.

"So, the crystal's protection has been extended to you as well," the monster
stated. "No matter. Tisbeth!"

The same creature who had led Bridger and Lucas into the room stepped
forward at the monster's command. The monster turned to face it.

"Take the One to the altar," it ordered. "The Time draws near."

The creature didn't blink. It reached out and grasped Bridger, unaffected by
the power of the crystal. At Bridger's stunned look, the monster grinned
maliciously.

"The crystal harms those who are in our Faction," it stated. "Surely you
would have expected us to overcome that particular obstacle."

Lucas had no chance of using his crystal to bind himself to Bridger when he
suddenly found himself ripped from Bridger's arms and being forcibly led forward
into the throng. Without the contact of Lucas and his crystal, the monster had no
problem in holding Bridger back.

Lucas thrashed in the creature's grasp. "Let me go! Captain!"

Bridger had to be restrained by two more creatures. "No! Lucas! Get your
hands off of me! Lucas!"

Lucas felt more hands on him, and he was lifted up and placed on a long
stone slab, not unlike the one he had woken on top of the last time he'd been
abducted by the monsters. More hands worked to bind his hands and feet to the
edges of the altar, effectively trapping him.

The leader approached and allowed its hand to hover over Lucas' crystal.
The crystal surged in response, as if fighting the evil that was so close.

"Find your peace," it told Lucas. "At your Time, I shall return."

With that, the monster turned and walked back to the door. As it passed
Bridger, it paused and stared at the furious brown eyes.

"Kill it."

Bridger's eyes widened in surprise as he was forced closer to the center of the
room, several feet away from Lucas. Lucas' cries of protest were the only sounds
filling the room. The leader, along with the rest of the monsters, had left the room,
leaving Bridger and Lucas at the mercy of the gray creatures.

Tisbeth unsheathed a long, curved dagger with a plain gold hilt. The
expression on its face remained unchanged as it held the dagger under Bridger's
chin. Bridger closed his eyes, waiting for the blade to slip under his skin and spill
his blood.

"NOOOOOOO!"

Lucas arched his back up off of the altar, a solid beam of white light shooting
up into the ceiling. The creatures paused, startled at the incredible display. The
distraction was all Bridger needed. He surged up and away from his captors,
knocking them aside, desperate to get to Lucas and escape from this hell.

The creatures recovered and swarmed on Bridger, fighting him back into
submission and slowly winning. Bridger found himself on his back, held there by
eight pairs of hands. The blade was back under his neck, the pressure already
drawing a thin line of blood.

Lucas, apparently, wasn't done with his display. The beam, emanating from
his crystal, widened inch by inch before finally exploding, blinding all of the
occupants of the room. The dagger was lifted up and away from Bridger and
hurled into the ceiling with such force that it shattered into billions of pieces. The
rest of the weapons that the creatures carried followed suit until the air was fill with
sparkling shard of metal.

The creatures didn't have the chance to figure out what to do next. Another
explosion of light filled the room, and each of the creatures swayed and collapsed
onto the ground, unconscious.

Bridger struggled up and out from under the pile of bodies that had fallen on
top of him and staggered to Lucas' side.

Lucas was unconscious. The power he had expended in saving Bridger had
drained him completely, leaving him pale and breathing shallowly. Bridger
fumbled with the ropes binding Lucas' wrists and ankles to the altar and scooped
the boy into a fireman's carry. A quick glance around told Bridger that there was
only one door, so he headed for it.

No one was one the other side. Bridger slipped into the gray mist, looking
around. As soon as the door behind him closed, it vanished from sight. Too late
Bridger realized that only the creature's magic had revealed the door, and without
it, they'd be trapped in the mist.

"Tessa, if we ever needed you to show up, now would be a good time for it,"
Bridger stated to the swirling mist.

Only silence answered him.

* * *

Power surged and swirled in the air. Every being could feel it tingle against
their skin.

It was almost Time.

* * *

"Commander!"

Ford whipped his head around at Ortiz's startled cry. "What is it?"

Ortiz was working furiously at his console. "Sir, WSKRs just went haywire.
Nothing is responding. It's almost as if there's some kind of electrical problem, but
that's impossible! They were just put through a thorough diagnostic check two days
ago!"

"Sir!" Hitchcock interrupted. "I've just lost sensors!"

Ford frowned. "What?"

"Well, not lost . . . they're going crazy . . . like they're trying to focus on
several different points at the same time and changing its mind!" Hitchcock
explained.

"Communications is fluctuating between frequencies," O'Neill reported.

"I'd say this thing Tessa told us about is starting," Westphalen stated
nonchalantly.

* * *

Bridger walked for twenty minutes in a random direction, wanting to put as
much distance between him and Lucas and their captors. Finally, needing to rest,
he knelt down and carefully set Lucas on the ground, guiding his head with his
hand.

Lucas barely flinched at being manhandled. Bridger checked the boy's pulse
and found it to be faster than he would have liked. He shook Lucas' shoulder and
called his name, but to no avail. Lucas was out cold.

Bridger sighed and sat back, exhausted. He hadn't wanted to admit it to
himself, but he had no idea what to do next. He had been pulled through the
seaQuest's solid steel floor into this . . . place . . . and he did not know how to get
back. The best he could figure, he was in some kind of holding facility in Tessa's
dimension. But unless he could find some kind of door, he and Lucas were going to
be trapped in the misty room for the rest of their lives.

Which may be shorter than he expected with no food and water, and a horde
of angry creatures after them.

Lucas moaned, drawing Bridger's attention to him. As Lucas' eyes fluttered
open, the crystal began to pulse stronger.

"Lucas?" Bridger asked. "Lucas, can you hear me? Are you all right?"

"Captain?" Lucas mumbled. "What happened?"

Bridger frowned. "You don't remember?"

Lucas sighed. "They were all around . . . I couldn't move. And the . . . that
thing . . ." Lucas' eyes widened. "They were going to kill you! Captain!"

Lucas fought to sit up against Bridger's protesting arms. "God! Captain,
are you okay? I saw the knife-."

"I'm fine," Bridger assured him. "You stopped them before they could do
anything."

Lucas' brow furrowed in confusion. "I did? But I was tied down. How
could I have stopped them?"

Bridger frowned, thinking about how to explain what he had seen to Lucas.
"They were about to kill me, but you yelled out. Somehow, you used the crystal to
not only confiscate and destroy their weapons, but knock them all out, too."

Lucas' face held disbelief and fear. "I did what? How can I do something
like that? It's not possible!"

"I would have agreed with you, kiddo, if I hadn't seen the whole thing with
my own eyes," Bridger told him. He made a decision. Lucas' life was in danger- he
at least deserved to know why.

When I first spoke with Tessa, when she first came aboard, she told me she
was from a different dimension," Bridger began. "She said her people and ours
used to live together, in our dimension, when some kind of war broke out and we
were forced to split up. Her people, since then, have harbored a grudge against us."

Lucas was listening raptly with equal parts disbelief, incredulity, and
interest. The story seemed so incredible to him that it almost couldn't be false.

"Over time, this grudge developed so much that some of Tessa's people want
to destroy us," Bridger continued. "A war is almost imminent. The only thing
holding them back is this prophecy that someone, born in our world, will heal the
rift between our peoples. This person would have human form, but possess powers
that Tessa's people possess. This is how this . . . One . . . will be able to save both
worlds. And if this person doesn't, then both worlds will be obliterated, and all life
in both dimensions will end."

Lucas stared at him. "I'm supposed to be the One, aren't I?"

It was more a statement than a question, but Bridger nodded anyway. "You
were supposed to be safe on the seaQuest, but Tessa said your power got to be so
much that you had to be removed. That's why we were going to leave, but this
happened instead."

Lucas looked down at his hands in his lap. "I don't want to be the One."

Bridger pulled Lucas into a hug. "I know, kiddo, I know. But I think it's out
of our hands now."

There was a flash of light nearby, and the two turned to see Tessa standing
several feet away. Bridger and Lucas climbed to their feet as she hurried up to
them.

"Thank Rissa I've found you!" she exclaimed. "I've directed your ship to
meet us at an area nearby in your world. We need to get to the right area in this
dimension, or you'll be transported into the ocean."

"Tessa! Roksi, Parabel, seize them!"

The trio were surrounded and restrained by monsters and- in Lucas' case-
gray creatures. The leader who had ordered Bridger's death stepped closer.

"The Time has arrived," it announced. "It pleases me that you could witness
this Time with us, Tessa." Its eyes moved to Bridger. "So you escaped death. No
matter. When our One has served his purpose, I will see to it personally that the
mistake is remedied. Let us return to the Site."

"You're making a grave mistake, Parnath," Tessa warned as they were
forcibly led back to the room that Bridger and Lucas had just escaped from.
"Killing him will only bring death and destruction to us all."

"You are wrong," the leader, Parnath, spat. "You and your people.
Preaching peace and forgiveness of the mongrels who cast us out of our rightful
home. If the One succeeds, we will have lost our home forever. This is the only
way."

Bridger and Tessa were forced into the back of the room and held there as
Lucas was once again led to the altar and bound tightly. Frightened blue eyes
darted from monster to creature, his heart thumping in his chest. There was no
escape this time. He could see the truth on the faces of every being present.

Parnath himself drew a dagger smaller than the one Tisbeth had, but much
more ornate with a jewel-encrusted hilt. Bridger began to fight again, but Lucas'
eyes were fixed on the weapon hovering over him.

"It is Time," Parnath stated simply.

With one hand on Lucas' forehead, drawing it back to expose the creamy
white expanse of the child's throat, Parnath placed the dagger under Lucas' chin.

"NO!" Bridger yelled, helpless.

The slice was quick, but deep. A crimson line appeared in the wake of the
sharp blade, and blood began to slip down Lucas' throat. Lucas let out a pained
grunt, then fell slack against the altar, his wide blue eyes staring sightlessly at the
ceiling.

"It is done," Parnath stated quietly.

Shock number Bridger. He turned to find Tessa standing calmly, tears
slipping down her cheeks. Bridger looked back at Parnath and watched as the
monster wiped the blood- Lucas' blood- on the child's clothes and turn away.

A rage unlike Bridger had ever felt in his life filled him. He thrashed against
his captors like a wild man, half-blinded by tears of grief. The monsters released
him, unable to keep hold. Once free, Bridger charged Parnath, his fingers itching to
close around the throat of the monster and exact vengeance on the evil that had just
taken away the last person Bridger had cared about- had loved.

A cry of animalistic rage erupted from Bridger's throat as he lunged at
Parnath. He knocked the dagger to the ground and threw punch after punch at the
monster, not caring that half of his hits didn't even connect. All he could see was
Lucas' lifeless body on the altar.

The monster gripped Bridger by the throat, ending the pummeling, and
stood. "I will allow you to say goodbye before you meet the same fate." He threw
Bridger at the altar and stepped back.

Bridger had connected with the altar at his waist, sending the upper half of
his body on top of Lucas. He straightened, his eyes moving from Lucas' blank blue
eyes to the river of blood at his throat. One hand closed Lucas' eyes as the other
smoothed the limp blond hair back.

Tears spilled over onto Bridger's cheeks. "I'm so sorry, kiddo," he
whispered. "I'm so, so sorry." The rest of his words got caught in his throat.
Unable to hold his sobs in, Bridger laid his head on Lucas' chest and wept.

Several moments had passed before hands roughly pulled Bridger away from
Lucas. Bridger whirled on his captors, ready to fight and take as many monsters
into death with him as he could when the crystal around Lucas' neck began to glow.

The occupants in the room looked on in astonishment as the crystal raised
into the air, anchored by the chain Lucas wore. Moments later, fingers of white
light inched down the chain until all that was left was a light. It didn't stop there,
however. The light crept along the gash in Lucas' throat until the boy's entire neck
was wrapped in a collar. From there, the light moved down Lucas' legs and up his
head and arms until all that was left was a bright light in the shape of a human.

Bridger jumped in surprise when the ropes binding Lucas suddenly snapped
apart, the sound echoing loudly in the silence. Once the ropes were gone, the figure
slowly sat up. Swinging its legs off the altar, the figure stood and walked up to
Bridger.

Bridger stared at it, unsure of what he was seeing. "Lucas?"

The figure shook its head. "Everything will be all right now, Captain
Bridger."

"But-," Bridger protested, but the figure was moving to Tessa. The way was
cleared easily, as if the creatures and monsters feared contact by this strange being.

"I understand now, Tessa," the figure stated. "Be at peace. Your world and
theirs will prosper in peace."

Tessa smiled through her tears and bowed her head.

The figure turned to face Parnath. "You and your kind have shed enough
innocent blood. Away with you all."

The figure waved its arm, and the monsters vanished from sight.

The gray creatures were all staring at the figure. The figure approached
Tisbeth and raised its hand, palm out, at Tisbeth's eyes. "Awake."

A thin beam of light struck Tisbeth's eyes and spread throughout the
creatures entire body until the dull gray color of its skin began to glow the vibrant
silver of Tessa's people. Tisbeth shook his head as if awakening from a trance and
knelt before the figure, head bowed.

"Thank you," he said quietly.

The figure lightly patted Tisbeth's shoulder and moved about to each and
every creature, awakening them in the same manner it had Tisbeth. Finally, the
figure returned to Bridger.

"You may return to your home now, Captain Bridger," the figure said.
"Tessa will show you the way. I must salvage the rest of this world before I can be
at peace."

Bridger felt tears slip down his cheeks, but he nodded.

The figure took a step back and, without another word, faded from sight.

Tessa stepped forward and lightly touched Bridger on the arm. "Captain,"
she said. "It's time."

Bridger didn't move. Tessa bowed her head, and the next thing Bridger
knew, he was standing on the bridge of his boat.

Ford and Westphalen were at his side instantly, and the rest of the bridge
crew were standing at their posts, looking at Bridger in shock. Bridger felt numb all
over; he was unable to speak, let alone answer their questions.

"Captain, are you all right?" Ford demanded.

"Nathan, what's happened?" Westphalen added. "Where's Lucas?"

Bridger pushed past them and found his way to the maglev, ignoring the
stunned looks of his crew. He wanted to leave- he had to get out of there.

The crew watched him depart, then turned to Tessa. "What happened?"
Westphalen asked again. "Where's Lucas? Why didn't you bring him back?"

Tessa met the eyes of each and every man and woman on the bridge, seeing
the love and concern for their friend. She felt fresh tears burn in her eyes as she
turned back to Westphalen.

"The threat is over," she said quietly. "You won't be seeing me or my people
again."

Westphalen grabbed her arm. "Where's Lucas?"

Tessa heard the panic in Westphalen's voice and met the woman's eyes.
Westphalen read the anguish and sorrow in Tessa's face and released her, taking
several steps back and shaking her head. "No . . . no, it can't be . . ."

Ford was confused and a knot of nausea was beginning to settle in his
stomach. "Kristen?" he asked. "What is it?"

Tears poured down Westphalen's cheeks, and she cupped a hand over her
mouth. "Oh God! Not Lucas! No!"

Several crew members were catching on to what Westphalen had seen in
Tessa's eyes and were beginning to shake their heads. Westphalen, at this point,
had sunk to her knees and was sobbing uncontrollably. Hitchcock was beside her,
her arms around the doctor. Tears of grief were escaping from her normally
composed fa├žade.

"Lucas . . . Lucas is no more," Tessa managed to say.

"No more?" Ford echoed, angry. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

O'Neill was at his console, praying, tears falling onto the unforgiving metal.

"He is dead," Tessa whispered. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

She vanished from the bridge.

V

Bridger sat at his desk in his cabin, staring at the smooth surface without
really seeing it. It had been two days since he'd been returned from Tessa's
dimension, and he'd spent the entire time in his cabin. He couldn't bring himself to
leave it. His mind replayed the last moments of Lucas' life over and over, not letting
him rest.

Lucas hadn't been his son, but he'd felt just as close to the boy anyway. It
didn't matter that they didn't share a bloodline- Bridger had lost another child. As
soon as he was able to string two coherent sentences together without losing control
of his emotions, he would contact Noyce and offer his resignation.

There was nothing left for him here.

* * *

Krieg sat on his bed, fingering the computer part he had specially ordered
for Lucas two weeks before. Lucas had wanted it for his vocorder project-
something about enhancing vocabulary. It had been in that day's shipment.

Krieg swatted angrily at the tears in his eyes. It wasn't fair. Lucas had had
his whole life ahead of him. He shouldn't have died.

He threw the part back into the opened box at the foot of his bed.

* * *

Westphalen sighed wearily at her desk in medbay. Every since the tragic
news of Lucas' death, she had forced herself to work on countless experiments.
Anything to keep her mind off of the animated teenager that had brightened her
medbay only a few short days before. Unfortunately, every experiment held some
memory of Lucas for her. Rubbing the tears from her eyes, she stood. No matter
how hard she tried, the child's smiling face refused to leave her mind.

A flash of light in the adjoining room drew her eyes. Cautiously, Westphalen
stood and edged out of her office, looking for the light's source.

In the last place she had seen Lucas alive, being pulled through the floor, was
the unmoving form of the teenager she had been grieving over.

"Lucas!" Westphalen fell to the deck beside the boy and felt for a pulse. It
thumped strong and steadily beneath her practiced fingers. Hardly daring to
believe it, she turned him over and shook him. "Lucas! Wake up! Lucas!"

Lucas moaned and opened his eyes. "I'm up, I'm up! What, did I sleep
through my alarm or something?"

Westphalen let out a cry of joy and tugged Lucas into her arms, squeezing
him so tightly that Lucas began to complain of difficulty in breathing.

"What's wrong?" he asked, confused. "Why am I lying on the floor?"

Westphalen could only laugh, tears flooding her cheeks. Her hand smoothed
over Lucas' hair and down his cheek. "I have to tell the crew. Come with me."

At this point, Lucas was utterly confused. "Tell them I passed out? Doc, are
you okay?"

* * *

Bridger tore into medbay, his eyes searching for proof of Westphalen's
words over his PAL. He found Westphalen standing next to a medbay, examining a
prone figure, "Kristen?"

Westphalen turned, allowing her patient to sit up. The smile on her face
caused Bridger to look at her patient. Eyes widening, Bridger strode across the
room and engulfed the teen in a crushing hug.

"Oof!" Lucas gasped. "Captain, what's wrong? You guys are acting like
you haven't seen me in weeks! What gives?"

"You don't remember?" Bridger asked.

Lucas shook his head.

Bridger turned to Westphalen.

"There's no sign of trauma anywhere," Westphalen told him. "He's
perfectly healthy. I'm going to inform the crew. They'll want to know."

Bridger nodded and turned back to Lucas. He tipped Lucas' head up and
looked for a scar from the knife wound. Finding nothing, Bridger drew Lucas back
into his arms.

"Captain, are you going to tell me what happened?" Lucas asked, his
patience wearing thin.

"I will," Bridger assured him. "It's a long story."

"Well?" Lucas asked.

Bridger closed his eyes and held Lucas tighter. The story could wait a little
longer. The important thing was that Lucas was back. Alive.

"Captain!" Lucas cried.

Bridger pulled back and sat on the bed beside the boy. "Lucas, do you
remember a woman named Tessa?"

The End