CHAPTER 8

After an almost sleepless night Harper had found a way around the scrambler Vance was using to mask Athena's, and his own, life signs from Andromeda. As expected Andromeda located them in an area that was being rebuilt, after being severely damaged by the World Ship.

Sure that Andromeda wouldn't be able to find them, Vance hadn't taken any other security precautions, and the group from Andromeda easily made their way through the building.

Without a word being said, Rhade went straight for Vance. Doyle, Rommie, Harper and Trance made their way to the door that Andromeda's scans said Athena was behind. Harper made quick work of the lock.

"Trance! Rommie!" Athena greeted as they hurried into the room. Doyle stood guard at the door.

The pain and stiffness had spread up her arms and legs, and Athena found it hard, as well as painful, to move. Trance immediately pulled out the medical injector she'd brought and injected Athena with the antidote, and a pain killer. "Your father needs you," Trance said in a quiet voice. Rommie carefully picked the girl up and carried her out of the room that had been her prison.

Out in the main room the others had watched as Rhade demolished Vance. It couldn't really be called a fight, since Vance wasn't even close to a match for Rhade. Dylan saw that each blow Rhade landed was intended to inflict the maximum amount of pain and damage, but not be fatal. Rhade repeatedly sliced Vance with his bone blades, but made sure to miss the major veins and arteries to that Vance would not bleed out. Dylan knew he should try to stop Rhade, but he also knew it would be pointless.

A softly spoken word stopped Rhade mid blow. "Daddy."

Dropping Vance he turned to look at Athena, still being carefully held by Rommie. He couldn't kill Vance with his daughter watching. He couldn't let her see her father commit what amounted to cold blooded murder, no matter how justified he might believe it to be. Knowing how badly Vance was injured Rhade no longer considered him a threat, and hurried to gently take Athena from Rommie. She immediately wrapped her arms around his neck, not caring that it hurt.

Trance, Beka, Harper and Dylan were all focused on the heart melting reunion. Seeing his chance Vance gathered the last of his strength to pull his weapon. Less than a second after it left his pocket two force lance bolts hit him. Over his, now dead, body Doyle and Rommie gave each other small nods. Knowing their friends would be caught up in the emotion of the moment, they'd kept watch on Vance.

When the Maru got back to Andromeda, Gillian, Persephone and Ares were waiting just outside the hanger deck.

"Are you/we okay?" Ares asked, speaking in Twin, and using a word for 'we' unique to Twin. A word that linked them as one. A word they usually used as a way of saying that if one of hem was hurt, they were both hurt. If one was happy, they were both happy.

"I'm/we're fine," she replied, also in Twin.

Gillian stepped forward and kissed Athena's forehead. "Welcome home, Daughter." With the Neitzian reverence for family, calling someone by their familial relationship was considered an endearment.

"Sister, I've missed you," Persephone greeted, brushing a piece of hair back from her sister's face.

"We need to get her to the Medical Bay," Trance said.

A short time later Trance turned to face the others. "She'll be fine. The antidote is working. There are traces of a sedative, but not enough to matter. He probably gave it to her to get her out of your home without her waking up. To be honest, it might be best if I gave her another sedative, and let her sleep until the poison is out of her system."

"Speaking of sleep, now that we know she's okay, I'm going to go catch up on my sleep," Harper said. With a yawn, and a tired wave, he left.

Rhade's first instinct was to tell Trance to give Athena the sedative, and spare her any more pain. Looking into Gillian's eyes, he could see that she was thinking the same thing. After a long moment he spoke. "She's the one who will have to live with the pain, to not. It should be her choice."

"She is right here," Athena said, no small amount of indignation in her tone. "And I want to sleep. I'm tired of hurting." She also knew that now they were so close together Ares would feel her pain. Not to the same degree, but he would have a sense of it, and she didn't want him to suffer along with her.

"We'll be here when you wake up," Rhade promised her as Trance prepared the sedative.

A/N:

Max: Sorry for the long delays between chapters. My muse just doesn't want to cooperate on this story. . . Thanks for being patient, and the kind words.

ixDale: Thank you! I'll make next chapter a lot longer. I just wanted to let the rescue have its own chapter.

Benesound: Thanks! Glad you liked last chapter, and hope you liked this one. I'd added more 'Twin' conversation just for you;-)