Title: Lazarus Author: Anna McLain Rating: PG-13 Spoilers: 1st season Andromeda. Takes place during the first season. DO NOT ARCHIVE, PLEASE! Disclaimer: The author claims no rights to Andromeda or its characters. Original characters and situations are the property of the author. ~~~~~**~~~~~

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE FANZINE, 'ANYWHERE, ANYTIME', BY GREEN DRAGON PRESS. URL: www.greendragonpress.net

Still available in print (with other stories) for $9.00. Available to post online, May '03.

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Author's notes: Thank you kindly to my betas: David and Jen.

This was one of my very first Andromeda stories, so inconsistencies are entirely my fault. Feedback or coffee are welcome as they make me stronger.

LAZARUS

By Anna McLain

Rated PG-13

~~~*~~~ Chapter 1 ~~~*~~~

Messiahs are not born of flesh, rather created of superstition, fear and greed.
--Nietzschean proverb.

Trance Gemini was naked except for her panties. Dark eyes closed, she inhaled the fragrance of the bubble bath that she had concocted herself from plant extracts and oils. It gave her the impression of rain on flowers, chocolate and the sweet nuts outside her granny's cottage, the damp earth and grasses she used to lay in to watch the triple moons set.

It wasn't often that she could indulge in a soothing bubble bath. Life was too hectic aboard a star ship. The Andromeda Ascendant could easily manufacture the bubbles but Trance preferred her own. She tipped the vial and watched the stream of pink liquid drizzle into her makeshift tub. It pooled on the bottom. She nudged the water hose then scampered back into the bathroom to turn on the tap. She adjusted the water to its highest volume and let it run over her lavender fingertips until it reached a comfortable chill. Her scented bubbles worked best in water the same tepid temperature as the pond that ran both in and out of Granny's cottage.

The cargo bin, converted into a makeshift tub, was just outside the bathroom door, surrounded by some of her favorite large and draping plants. All the touches of home. Well, some of the touches of home and touches from other people's homes. Turning off the tap, she attached the end of the hose to the faucet.

Tonight was another in a string of diplomatic dances held to celebrate the addition of the Soltan System to the new Commonwealth. It was rumored that they lived hard and partied hard. It would be a very long night. A nice bubble bath would put her chi on the right path.

She opened her expressive eyes. An impish grin spread across her lavender features. A bubble bath was exactly what she needed. She glanced at the large metal watertight cargo bin she'd persuaded Harper to give her. He'd been undeniably curious about its purpose and she toyed with the idea of actually telling him. She giggled, almost able to see his expression of shock. He was fun to tease. However, if she had told he'd probably install surveillance equipment to see what the pink bubbles didn't hide. A violet flush spread across her delicate cheekbones. The idea wasn't all bad. Harper was a bit childish and annoying at times, but he also made her laugh. Her best friend, he was cute in a harmless way.

She turned on the water then went to kneel beside the tub. The air filled with the hypnotic hum of liquid hitting metal. She rested her elbow on the edge of the tub, chin in palm and let the soft drumming of the stream against the side of the metal tub lull her into her memories.

**The water cooled her skin; hot from hours spent picking lyla berries and tubers along the banks of the Kaylarz Tributary. Home was cool, lush and carefree under the twin blue suns and fluffy white clouds. The drifting scent of berry mush and tuber cakes made her mouth water and her stomach growl. Trance relaxed in the huge natural bath, fed by the flow of spring water into the pond outside and through the small openings in the house.

"Trance, Dear, hurry out of the bath now," Granny called from the kitchen. " Dinner is nearly ready. I cooked up the lyla berries you gathered with Macea. You need to eat tonight and keep up your strength for the ceremony." Pots and pans clattered as she prepared dinner in their old clay oven.

Trance shivered at the thought of the impending hand fasting ceremony. Benler was nice enough, but she didn't want to marry him, even if the actual marriage wouldn't begin for a year.

"Just imagine," Granny had said the day she told Trance who had been chosen as her husband. "Benler Frazir, so handsome, so young. His family has deep empathy as strong as any of the ancestors. You'll cement his gift into our line. Good for your children, eh?" She had looked so happy.

Trance kicked defiantly at the delicate bubbles floating around her in the water. Benler indeed! He was mean, swatting at Macea's puppy when he thought no one was looking, and he was old. He was twenty-eight! He would be nearly thirty when they married officially! The ceremony was in less than a month, on her thirteenth birthday. With tears stinging her eyes, she wished it wouldn't come.

No! She didn't want to marry. She wanted to leave the People, leave Home and travel to the stars like the ancients in the stories Grandpa used to tell. They left and used their gifts to spread peace and light throughout the universe.

"None of our business," Granny would say. "if the outsiders want to destroy themselves, so be it. Our place is here. The People are here on Home."

Trance sighed deeply. Her throat burned and her nose ran. She rubbed the tears from her eyes lest Granny see them. She would have to be told soon enough that Trance refused to marry simply to further her family name. She knew for a fact that Benler didn't want to take her surname. He wanted to keep that of his first wife, Celica Frazir.

She gulped in cool air scented with baking tuber cakes and took deep breaths to calm herself. She reached a decision. She would tell Granny that night at dinner that she wanted to leave for the stars. She could see beyond the ordinary to how the little things affected everything else. She wanted to use that talent to change the future.

"Trance?" Granny's voice interrupted her young dreams. She quickly donned her thin billowy one-piece shorts outfit and, using her long tail, swung up through the levels of the cottage. The upper level swayed gently in the pervasive breezes, gently shifting with the living trees that supported the walls and allowed access to each level.

She glanced out the window as she tied back her long curls with a braid of moss and zenna flowers. The walkways connecting the cottage to the others in the village swayed softly in the breeze, fragrant with fruits and living things ... . **

"Trance?" Rommie's voice over the Com system startled her into the present.

Memories of her far distant childhood evaporated. Trance shook her head.

"Um ... yes?"

"We have received notification that the guests for tonight's welcoming ball will be arriving early. We have to prepare now."

"Now?" Trance said, giving her rapidly filling bath a mournful look.

"Yes. You have twenty minutes," the avatar replied.

"I'll be ready," she said and shut off the water with a sigh. Twenty minutes wasn't enough time for a decent bubble bath, so she would have to wait until the ball was over and try again. Still, the ball was important. After all of this time, Dylan had persuaded another system to join the New Commonwealth. She felt badly that he had toiled for years only to have less than twenty-five worlds join him on his quest. Despite the threat of the Magog Worldship, everyone wanted someone else to rescue them without committing to help their neighbors. It was sad. As she turned to leave the bathroom, a psychic vision struck her; she swayed and fell against the sink, gripping it with fingers gone colorless. The vision overwhelmed her, blurring her senses of the real world.

** ... Pain. Excruciating pain stabbed her torso. She lay on stained sheets. Hot sweat burned her eyes. Pain, tearing, ripping agony clawed at her body like a wild beast. A newborn's shriek pierced her red veil of pain. She screamed. Fire. Heat. A man's fists beating down again and again. A crowd chanting. The baby held up before them. Darkness ... **

The psychic vision evaporated as quickly as it had come. These insights usually came and went suddenly, although not in such a physically powerful fashion. Trance breathed rapidly, kneeling on the floor. She shivered. This vision shook her to her core with its abruptness. She could almost feel the bruises on her skin from the beating and the pain of labor that she had never actually gone through. The pain, the child, they belonged to someone else. She licked her lips, still feeling at a loss for the exact meaning of her vision. They usually explained themselves though this one was familiar ... could it be the one she waited for? Could this be the one that signaled a change in the entire future of the three galaxies?

Instinctively, she knew it was a vision of the recent past. Someone else's past. The future always came to her with several options, different paths. Sometimes, time opened up to her like a rose unfolding petal upon petal. Often it gave her a glimpse deep inside before closing. Instinctively, she knew which vision was past, complete, and which a possible future. This vision was solid. It was past. She frowned, wondering how it would change the ethereal visions of the future she had seen, shift the ebb and flow of energy she felt around her.

She could feel some of the seeds she had sown so long ago beginning to bear fruit. Many years before, after first leaving home, she'd found refuge with a group of other seekers, visionaries. Following their secret credo mixed with the teachings of her people's priestesses, she spread myths and legends designed to instill hope in people of all races to shorten the impending Long Night, to give strength to light over darkness. The secret society shared her credo that peace and love could change the world. They all firmly believed. They all followed the same course of action simultaneously. Synchronicity. She felt a pang of regret. So many of her friends in the society were obliterated when the great night came. She felt alone and she didn't recall ever visiting Solta Uno to plant these particular myths.

Shaken by the strength of the vision, she pulled herself off the floor and quickly donned her new dress. This form-fitting blue-black dress had golden star shaped spangles and a teal spider web design imprinted on it, very like the webs of the Tracas spiders back home. She smoothed it over her curves, enjoying the soft and fuzzy feel of the material, the vision fading quickly. She should have bought two of the dresses on Drift Max.

^j^

Saraann drifted into the transport with the last of the partygoers. Silently, she thanked Saints Valia and Jemi that the Regent had invited a random group of civilians to the Ball onboard the Andromeda Ascendant. Due to the fact that her fellow guests were mainly minor aristocracy, no one knew her identity or the person whose skull she had crushed to steal the boarding pass. Her mission was known only to the two of her brethren who, along with her, had escaped the burning of the Citadel and destruction of the outpost on Solta Uno.

Remorse ran through her quickly and was gone. Death is often necessary on the path of righteousness. This death was unavoidable because it preserved the future, the prophecy. She knew the prophecy well, but few agreed that its time of fruition had come.

She scowled. Fools, she thought. Even some of her fellow Essiiv believed she was misguided. They thought she'd misinterpreted the ancient data, a compilation of myths, prophecies and ancient writings gathered over the eons across the three galaxies. She knew better. She had seen the signs. They all pointed to the planet of Solta Uno, the seat of power in the Soltan government.

Bella, Priestess in charge of the head office deep in the secret caves of Shadoe, had laughed in her face.

Saraann could still hear Bella's cutting tone, "Really, Saraann, you're at least a century early. The One isn't due yet. Chaos is still too strong thanks to the Magog and the greed of humankind and its many derivatives. The ancients didn't give us the foundation of our order for us to squander away the future. The prophecies of Saint Jemi and teachings of Valia must be used as given, not to our whims."

Saraann had forced her temper down; staring up at Bella's white pompadour delicately adorned with sparkling flower jewels atop a craggy pale face. What a priestess needed with jewels, she wasn't sure. "But, the scrolls of Am ania –"

"Are fakes." Bella waved a wrinkled hand in her direction and pursed her pencil thin flaky lips. "Come-on girl. You're one of our best operatives. Don't chase after folly. The facts simply don't support the rise of the chosen at this time. When Saint Jemi spoke to Valia, she was very specific. 'The child will arise after hope against chaos is sparked', Jemi said. There is no hope in the Universe yet, not on a grand scale."

"I have studied the ancient texts of all our founding principles. The prophecy says, 'he will grow to aid Lazarus.' There have been reports of a long-dead High Guard officer resurrected to bring back the Commonwealth."

Bella glanced at her sharply. Then her gaze softened. "I too have read of the High Guard Lazarus. But he was not truly dead, so he doesn't fit the prophecy." Close enough, Saraann thought bitterly.

"As you wish, Saraann," Bella said sounding tired. "Take six acolytes with you to Solta Uno and found your outpost, build your Citadel. But beware, the Soltans are said to be a fickle lot, under the thumb of that fool, Fortnoy. A nest of serpents. They WILL turn on you."

"We have been well trained to defend ourselves."

"Perhaps," Bella said.

"Thank you," Saraann told her as she turned to go. The older woman didn't respond, only dug her grizzled fingers into the damp soil of a potted flower. The slanting sunlight through the window did little to soften the deep wrinkles on the woman's face. Saraann waited a moment to see if Bella would bid her well. The old woman ignored her. Summarily dismissed, she left grumbling. "Probably just to be rid of me," she groused, "and rid of the other believers who interrupted her coffee and gardening."

The Essiiv had secreted operatives on many planets throughout the triple galaxies; a net through which information flowed, myths were planted and power sucked into their coffers. Bella and those in charge believed the boy, the messiah, would rise to fulfill prophecy, prophecy in place long before the Essiiv itself became a cohesive group. They aspired to reach him first and control him, thereby controlling the entire known universe. But, Saraann knew their plan was flawed. The High Guard Lazarus had been rescued when he should have drifted from the singularity naturally a century later. He was early. Thus, the Divine brought the boy early too. She wanted him for a different reason, one that had little to do with the Essiiv's plans for power. "The universe moves as the Divine wills," she whispered.

Now after five years work on Solta Uno and the lesser planets, Saraann sat beside a small group of happy natives, hoping they would ignore her in favor of conversation amongst themselves.

The heavyset woman dressed in garish bright orange party clothes with gold threading who sat in the next seat gave her a broad gold-toothed smile. "First time in space? This is my first time. Isn't it wonderful? What a beautiful ship," she said in a singsong voice. "And invited by Regent Fortnoy himself?" She clapped ringed fingers together, making Saraann wince. "They're trying to restore the Commonwealth? Oh, the myths of my great-grandparents time come to pass."

Saraann stilled the annoyance that welled up inside her, wishing the woman would be quiet. The woman was obviously aristocracy, much too well fed to be a commoner. She lived off the fat of the workers who died in the fields and mines. The heavy woman, indeed all of the aristocracy, lived in veritable luxury compared to the commoners. Sycophants on the Regent's nepotistic power, they turned blind eyes to the less fortunate. Saraann smoothed her expression into a nondescript mask, burying her rage. "Times of change bring many things to pass."

"Yes, but have you been in space? It's wonderful. You can hardly tell that the ship is moving."

'Of course, you idiot,' Saraann wanted to snap. But she held her tongue.

She tucked her hair, dyed a very pale grayish blue so that she could pass as a half-Soltan highbred, back under her wide black headband, hoping the blithering fool would find interest in the others of her group. The woman chattered on about her children, the weather, and the terrible watering down of the purity of the Soltan race by interbreeding with the neighboring system's pink fleshed and dark-haired Belans. The fat woman looked too rosy- cheeked to be of full Soltan blood. A distant Belan uncle, perhaps? Hypocrite. She finally tuned the fat woman out and dipped her fingers into the large soft bag on her lap. The bag was plain, huge and of nondescript shape. She concentrated on it, willing her fingers not to clutch. She couldn't give anything away. Couldn't let them find out what she carried and toss her out of the airlock. The future of everything depended on her now.

"Passes? Passes?" a dull-faced eunuch probed. He was dressed in the black livery of the Regent's Praetorian Guard and stomping down the aisle between over-occupied seats.

She licked parched lips and pulled the bag a little closer to her chest. How many times were they going to check passes? She'd already shown it twice. She opened the bag just enough to insert one trembling hand. Her fingers brushed the sleeping innocent there and her heart skipped at the thought that he might wake. Then she found her pass and quickly pulled it out, buttoning the top of the bag before any roving eyes could see inside.

The guard took the pass. His black ferret eyes narrowed. His tongue darted over thick pale pink lips, reminding her of a werrobeast slobbering over its dinner. He stared at her face through transparent lashes. His colorless hair was a bit too long to be regulation, brushing his brow. She wondered if the Regent's security had begun to slip. She decided she would never get used to the near colorlessness of the Soltan population. She forced herself not to squirm under his scrutiny. The pass had no photo so there was no way they could doubt her claim. He shoved it back at her and moved on to the blithering woman beside her, who chattered happily to him in a nonstop stream. He barely glanced at her pass, obviously glad to move on.

Saraann allowed her eyes to close for a second of relief, praying to Valia that no one noticed her shudder and thanking the Goddess of the Downtrodden that the innocent was still sleeping quietly in the bag. Only the Divine knew how the Soltan dictatorship would torture her if they found her. She swallowed hard. Graphic images of the mangled bodies of those victims the regime had 'taken care of' flashed through her mind. No, she had to succeed so that atrocities like that wouldn't happen again.

TBC in ch 2.

I apologize for any formatting snafus. I've reloaded this quite a few times and can't get it to look right in either htm or doc. Thank you for reading despite this. Anna