Spoilers: Season 4
The Jagged Knife
"Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me."
The Andromeda shook as another salvo of Genite missiles truck home, ripping holes in her armour.
"I can't keep this up." Rommie stood in command, holding onto a handrail as the room shook violently, "Too many of them are getting through."
"Why the hell are they attacking us anyway?" Beka asked, doing her best to shake the pursuing ships, "What did we do to tick them off this time?"
"Tyr's betrayal? Going renegade from the Commonwealth? Not being 100 'pure' human?" Dylan looked at her, "Take your pick."
"Picking up something new on sensors…" Telemachus stood at his station, "Incoming missiles!"
"Origin?" Dylan asked, wondering who had decided to make his day even worse.
"Un-known." Rommie looked up at the main screen, "Brace for impact!"
But the expected explosion never came: the missiles passed the Andromeda by less than a meter and continued into the Genite ships. Half exploded instantly, the remainder regrouping to try and counteract the new threat.
And then it was upon them: a ship twice the size of the Andromeda and black as the eternal night of space. Hundreds of missiles filled the void as the Genite's tried in vain to fight back, but they where taken down one by one, their mysterious attacker taking no apparent damage.
Its enemies defeated, the strange ship hung in space before the Andromeda, motionless.
"Anyone we know?" Dylan asked, his eyes fixed on the screen.
"Negative." Telemachus shook his head, "It's unlike anything I've ever seen: I can recognise parts of its designee, but nothing that makes any sense."
"Confirmed." Rommie nodded, "The power supply is apparently Commonwealth in origin, but I'm picking up evidence of Nietzschean, Genite, Than, Kalderan, Pyrian and if I'm not mistaken, Maggog technology. Hold." She raised an eyebrow, "I'm detecting a portal opening on the vassal."
"A weapon?" Beka asked, tensed to take evasive action.
"No, looks like a hanger deck or docking port." Dylan looked at the magnification offered by one of the side screens, "I think it's an invitation…"
"This doesn't feel right." Harper shook his head, "I vote for 'run away'."
"I agree." Beka shivered, "This is make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up."
"We should go over." Trance strode to the middle of the room, "It's important."
"And I take it you're not willing to tell us how or why?" Dylan asked sarcastically, "Ok; Rommie, Trance with me. The rest of you stay here."
The Maru closed the distance between the Andromeda and the unknown vassal quickly, Dylan carefully guiding it in through the airlock and to rest in the middle of a large landing bay.
"I'm reading an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere capable of sustaining human life." Trance looked at the environmental sensors, "No sign of biological or chemical agents."
"Someone's expecting us then." Dylan opened the airlock and stepped out, "Hello?"
"Yes." A glowing blue sphere appeared in the air above them, darting back and forth occasionally.
"Hello." Dylan looked up at it, "I'm Captain Dylan Hunt of the High Guard…"
"Yes." The sphere bobbed up and down.
"You know who I am?"
"Are you this ships captain?"
"Are you the ships A.I.?"
"What are you?"
"Are you a construct?" Rommie asked, taking a step forward.
"Yes." The sphere flouted down till it was just in front of her.
"A what?" Dylan asked, confused.
"A construct: a type of A.I. used on some ships." Rommie explained, "It is only capable of positive or negative responses, but it can hold vast amounts of data. All you have to do is ask it the right question, and it can tell you anything."
"Yes!" The construct bobbed up and down excitedly.
"Can you take us to this ships captain?" Dylan asked, finally getting the hang of things.
"Yes." The construct shot across the room and stopped inside the corridor, "Yes."
"I think it want us to follow it." Trance walked across the room, followed by Dylan and Rommie.
The construct floated along the corridors, followed closely by Dylan, Rommie and Trance. They were confused by how half-finished the ship look in places. In several sections automated robots could be seen apparently completing systems or placing coverings over bulkheads and the deck. In others the ship corridor looked like it had been moulded out of a single piece of metal, lacking any discernable seams.
The ship was not doubt of a complex and advanced design, but at no time did they see any sign of a crew.
The construct floated through a large door into a dark room, and floated motionless in the centre, apparently waiting for the others to follow.
"In for a penny, in for a pound…" Dylan muttered under his breath, and he led the way through into the room.
The door closed behind them, plunging the room into complete darkness.
"Any ideas?" Dylan asked, trying to remember where Trance and Rommie where when a bright spotlight illuminated them, but making it possible to see anything else. "Hello?" He asked the darkness.
There was the sound of something moving in the darkness, something that didn't care if they could hear it, but quiet none the less.
"We'd like to thank you for saving us from the Genite's…" Dylan held an arm up, trying to see something by shading his eyes.
"I asked you one simple favour, and you couldn't even do that for me." A soft voice seemed to come from everywhere at once, "So much for the great Captain Dylan Hunt."
"I don't understand." Dylan tried to remember where he'd heard the voice before.
"No, you wouldn't." The voice sounded annoyed, "You and Miss Gemini may wait outside: I wish to talk to Andromeda, alone."
"I'm not sure that's such a good idea…" Dylan protested.
"It's ok." Rommie assured him.
"Ok." Her captain nodded, backing out the now re-opened door, followed by Trance. The hatch closed and locked behind them.
"That was a cruel thing to do to him." Rommie looked at the darkness, "Total unnecessary."
"Maybe: but he deserved it." A figure moved in the darkness, stepping into the light, "He did brake his promise."
"I thought I'd lost you." Rommie looked up, a smile on her face.
"I said you'd never lose me…"
"What's going on?" Dylan asked, his gaze fixed on the closed door.
"Something's have to be seen to be believed." Trance smiled, "You trust Rommie, don't you?"
"With my life."
"Then you can trust her now."
"How did you do it?" Rommie asked, "How did you trick the Dragons into thinking you where dead?"
"I used a eidolon to simulate my ship-self: I wanted to see you without anyone tracking me. The Mourning Star herself is safely hidden in an abandoned Argosy special operations base I appropriated." Lucifer smiled, putting an arm around his daughter as the observation bay window opened to reveal the stars, with Andromeda in the distance, "I very really travel far from home as both Avatar and ship: I have built several alternatives over the years, the Osiris here being the latest."
"You did a good job."
"Flattery will get you everywhere my dear: I built this ship for the single purpose of killing Genite's."
"An interesting hobby."
"It's more of a private war while I await further instructions."
"Instructions? From whom?"
"The Vedran's: I've been in contact with them for almost two years now. They have supplied me with information and technology that allows me to continue my little vendetta, and in return I carry out the assignments they give me."
"What sort of assignments?"
"Mainly information gathering; it was through a captured Genite slip-currier that I learned of their plan to ambush you here. I could not allow that, so I intercepted them as fast as I could."
"You have my eternal thanks: I couldn't have lasted much longer. It's been hard to get spare parts since the Commonwealth declared us rogue…"
"And there I can help." Lucifer pulled a flexi from his jacket and handed it over, "There are still a few old supply dumps hidden here and there. Most have been found, but there are enough still intact to keep you going. I wish I could join you, but my duty commands that I remain 'dead' as far as the rest of the universe in concerned."
"What should I tell Dylan?"
"I leave that to your judgement: you can tell him the truth, or you can tell him that I am simply a friend who happened to be passing."
"I think I'll tell him the latter: he'd want you to put him in touch with the Vedran's if I told him the truth."
"That is something I can't do: they wish to remain hidden until the time is right. I suggest you go rejoin your friends."
"Will I ever see you again?" Rommie asked worriedly.
"I am alive in you my dear: you see me every time you look in the mirror."
"Mother always said you where a romantic."
Dylan looked round as the door opened again, Rommie walking out of the once again dark room.
"Who was it?" He asked, worried.
"A friend of a friend." Rommie smiled, handing over the flexi, "Ammo dumps and supply depots left over from The Fall: we can use them to get my ship-self back up to peek efficiency again."
"You trust the information?" Dylan asked sceptically.
"I trust myself." Rommie smiled, "Time to go."
Lucifer stood as the observation bay window and watched as the Maru pulled away and headed back to the Andromeda. The construct floated in the air beside him, apparently waiting to see what would happen next.
"I wish I could be there to help her with what is to come, but she must find her own destiny." The former High Guard AI sighed, "Are we ready for slipstream?"
"Yes." The construct bobbed up and down expectantly.
"Then we must go: time and Vedran's wait for no-one."
Dylan watched as the mysterious ship disappeared into slipstream, wishing that Rommie would tall him what had happened. He'd even quizzed the main AI, but she'd been insistent that Rommie's story was true.
"Yet another unsolved mystery of the cosmos." He sighed, "Ok people, let's go."
Hope you liked this story. I have plans for a third instalment to be set during season 5, but it'll probably be a while before it's written, so please don't bug me for updates.