Disclaimer: Andromeda and character's belong to Tribune. I am just borrowing them. All other character's and the story itself is copyright me.
Summary: It's mainly about Trance :o)
Notes: This story came to me as I listened to Travis's "Driftwood" on their (truly excellent) album, "The Man Who…"
Night Must Fall
"Few people make choices in their lives, rather the choices make their lives…" High Guard Proverb.
Prologue: Pain Belongs to the Divine…
Dylan held the photograph in his hands, his thumb stroking absently at the gilt frame. Sara's beautiful face smiled out at him, bright and alive, as real as the day he took it. He felt a stab of sadness at the memory. The day they had hiked up the foot of K2, her birthday…They were heading for the base camp and had ended up hopelessly lost. She'd been so mad at him for leaving the Global Positioning handset at home. It was a cliché, but she really did look beautiful when she was angry. The fire in her eyes; the slight flush across her cheeks…
"We're going to die!" She'd snapped. "In years to come, someone will find our bleached carcasses laying here," she pointed at her feet, "and you know what they're going to think? They are going to say to themselves… 'What a couple of idiots!'" She threw her hands up, "and they'll be right!"
And he'd laughed at her. She'd glared even more at him then and that only made his chuckles worse. And then he'd seen it, the tiny twitch at the corner of her mouth and then the spark of laughter that crept into her eyes.
That little twitchy smile seemed to summon his lips to it and he'd kissed her. She let him push her backwards gently, supporting her with his arms until they were lying on the mountainside amid the spring flowers. After many moments, Dylan had broken away from her and smiled into her face. He brushed the hair back from her forehead. "I think it's time I gave you your birthday present."
"I think you'll like it." He'd murmured and covered her mouth with his, their bodies entwined so closely it was as if nothing could ever separate them.
But time separated them now
And it would forever…
Dylan sighed, pulling himself from the memory. She was gone and nothing could change that. They'd tried…and failed.
Dylan put the photo down. It was time to move on, but there was one thing he had to say first.
"Happy Birthday, Sara…"
Beka grimaced as the tension in her shoulders turned into an icy pain. Her arms were rigid; hands gripping the controls as she steadied the ship manually through its journey amid the slipstream. They'd been in there for over half an hour, jumping across light-years in bare moments. The trip was taking its toll on the engines…. And on Beka's posture. The Andromeda was headed for the Darva celebrations of Tallen Three, where the crew were due to be paraded like decorations for the royalty there. Dylan hoped the invitation to their most holy of festivals was the start of negotiations into joining the Commonwealth again. Beka saw it differently. They would be little more than a political statement to the people – "See, we believe in democracy…"
And none of the injustices on the planet would change.
"I am detecting an energy source in the Stream," Rommie said from the viewer.
"What is it?"
"Unknown, however it is now caught in our wake and our momentum is carrying it along with us."
"Is it hostile?"
"I do not believe so, but I recommend exiting slipstream."
Beka pulled back on the controls and the whole ship seemed to shift to the left, the sensation churning her stomach. Then it stopped as the ship halted in normal space.
"The energy source is now located 3.67 metres below my aft exhaust outlets."
"What's it doing?"
Rommie looked inward. "Beka, I'm detecting a lifeform on board!"
"Get Dylan up here."
"I have already informed him, he's on his way."
A few minutes later, Dylan strode onto the bridge. Beka frowned when she saw him. She knew him fairly well by now and he seemed to be…distracted. "Rommie, close up of the object." He said. The computer's face disappeared to be replaced by a small missile shape. "That looks like some kind of lifepod."
"What would a lifepod be doing in the slipstream?" Beka asked.
"Dylan, I believe there's something you should see." Rommie said, blinking into existence beside him. The viewer closed in on the pod and small unintelligible words appeared. And a symbol.
"Isn't that the insignia of the Systems Commonwealth?" Said Beka.
"Yes," Dylan frowned, "but it's been altered somehow."
"Dylan, the life signs are failing. Whoever's in there is dying."
"Rommie, bring the pod on board." He and Beka began towards the door. "Tyr," he said into the comm, "meet us at airlock twelve."
The life pod looked battered. Carbon scoring coated the surface, obscuring the writing and the single hatch was so corroded Dylan wondered if it was possible to open it at all. He knelt down and gripped the door release. He pulled hard but nothing happened.
"Dylan, I'm sensing no respiratory effort from the inhabitant!"
"Let me!" Try pushed Hunt aside. The Nietzschean took hold of the hatch and grit his teeth, straining with every last ounce of his genetically superior strength.
"I've lost his heartbeat!" Rommie said.
"Trance!" Dylan called into the comm; "get the med deck ready!"
The pod's hatch came off and a body tumbled out as Tyr threw the door away. Dylan knelt beside the man lying face down on the deck. "He's human."
And he turned him over.
They gasped in surprise.
It was Harper.
And in the midst of their shock, Rommie's voice said quietly, "Dylan, he's dead."