Ok, this is my long overdue sequel to 'Old Friends' and 'Friends old and new'. It's set right at the start of season three, just after the new Commonwealth is officially crated.

Still waiting to hear back from szhismine about beta reading, so until then you'll have to put up with my less-than perfect spelling and grammar.

Friends and Family
Part one: Welcome home

"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."
Human proverb

With a bright flash of light, the Andromeda Ascendant exited slipstream a few light-minuet out from Mobius. Her hull was still scared and battered from her fight with the mysterious attacks that had sort to disrupt the final signing of the Commonwealth charter.

Silent communications flashed between the Heavy Cruiser and the other High Guard ships in orbit, confirming her identification and informing them of resent events. In a matter of seconds half the fleet was busy coming up with strategies to combat the new threat while the other half went over the information on the inter-dimensional vortex, studding it in minute detail.

A warship with time on its hand was a useful research tool.

"It is good to be back!" Harper sounded happier than normal, especially given the amount of work lined up for him as ships engineer, "Rommie, can you please scan for the…"

"The Shoulder of Orion is in standard orbit, as anticipated." The android smiled, "He's already sent me a message that you are to, and I quote, 'get your scrawny little mud-foot butt planet side, ASAP'. I believe it is from Mary."

"I am so there!" Harper span round, only to find his way blocked.

"You have a rather long list of repairs to see too Mr Harper." Dylan looked down at the young engineer, "It'll be a while before you get shore leave."

"What!" Harper protested, looking like a kicked puppy.

"I'm sorry." Dylan shook his head, then couldn't stop himself from laughing, "You've got 24-hours: Go."

Harper was gone in an instant, knowing it would take him two hours to get planet side.

Harper could see the flashing red and blue lights before he reached the apartment block, but thought nothing of it as made his way up the stairs leading to the top level. His anticipation was growing with every step, but he forced himself to remain calm and steady, refusing to run.

"Hey, you!" A tall man in a Lancer uniform stood on the last landing, "What you doing here?"

"I've come to see my fiancé." Harper smiled like an idiot, "Apartment 18, Commander Mary McCoy."

"18?" The Lancer looked at him, then pulled the microphone attached to his helmet closer to his mouth, "Sir, we may have a satiation on the landing."

"Hold position: I'm on my way." A voice crackled back.

"What the hell's going on?" Harper asked, starting to get worried.

"Just wait there." The Lancer's hand moved to his forcelance, and Harper stopped moving, terrified.

"Shamus!" Harper looked round to see Mark McCoy, captain of the Shoulder of Orion, come running down the hallway, a pain expression on his face, "I've been trying to get hold of you."

"What's going on?" Harper asked, wide eyed.

"We don't quite know what happened. It looks like someone…" Mark stopped, "You'd better come see for yourself." He silently led the way passed several Lancers and local security officers and through a holographic partition.

The apartment beyond looked like a hurricane had hit it: books, furniture and personal positions were scattered everywhere, and several men with holo-cameras were taking pictures, apparently for evidence.

"We think it was a burglary that went bad." Mark looked badly shaken, "The local security office think Mary must have come home and disturbed them, and they took her and Travis hostage…"

"WHAT?" Harper almost collapsed, falling against a wall, "How did this happen?"

"We don't know, but I pulled every string I could to get the top CSI team in, even had Orion scan for their nanobot signal from orbit. But there's no sign…"

"What do you mean?"

"The best we can hope for is that they are somewhere that's blocking the signal."

"And at worst?"

"The nanobot's stop transmitting after…" Mark stopped, his unspoken words hanging heavy in the air.

Harper sat staring at the same point on the opposite wall for longer than he could remember. Mark had thrown himself into his work, trying to burry his emotions in paperwork. The local security forces had been placed on high alert, and no ship was being aloud to leave orbit unchallenged by a High Guard warship: the Argosy was rallying around its own.

"Harper." Trance appeared at a nearby doorway, "The others are helping with the search, so I thought I'd better come and check on you…"

"Trance, if you know anything, and I mean ANYTHING, about this, you'd better tell me." Harper did move, his gaze still fixed, "Because, so help me god, if I ever find your holding out on me over this I will kill you, no matter how many times you come back to life."

"The future is, clouded: we stand at a crossroads, and the outcome is dependent on our actions…"

"Don't give me any of that crap." Harpers head slowly turned to the side, his eyes as cold as ice, "Do. You. Know. Anything?"

"No." Trance let out a deep breath, "You have to believe me when I say that I would tell you if I did."

"Well you don't." Harper went back to watching the wall.

The small cubical that passed for visiting officer quarters at the main High Guard barracks reminded Harper of a cell he'd once spent time in, but he wasn't in the mood to take in his surroundings.

He sat on the bed, knees tucked up to his chest and his head held low: for the first time in his life, he had found something to hold on, something to work towards, and it had been ripped away from him, just like everything else.

The com-unit on the wall bleeped with an incoming call.

Harper ignored it, not wanting to talk to anyone, and the message recording system clicked on.

"Hello again, Mr Harper." A familiar voice filled the room, "I believe I have something you're looking for…"

Harper slowly looked up at the screen.


To Be Continued…