Chapter 9

After agreeing on a plan, both Epps and Jack returned to their room to shower and change, and were now in the process of heading down to dinner. In order for their plan to work, Epps would have to try to get close to Adam. She would have to try to find out as much as she possibly could and one way or the other get to him. Both knew trust was out the question. Like Jack, Adam could not afford to lose his opportunity for any reason whatsoever. He was a very cautious man and they were playing with fire but after everything she'd gone through, she couldn't picture things getting any worse, and so it was worth a try.

They needed only a distraction, diverse his attention long enough in order for Jack to do what he did best. If Adam lost focus on his mission, they could take the Andromeda for themselves and with a ship like it, their mission would be that much easier. Epps had never really understood the importance of them boarding the ship nor the reason why Adam was such a threat to Jack...until now. While they were both looking about in the ship, Jack explained everything to her.

This was both Adam and Jack's last shot at making their manager happy since they had both screwed up before. The Andromeda to them was much more than just a ship, it was much more than means of travel to send forth their delivery. The ship would be in a way a portal from the living to the non-living realm. Whoever of the two gained the upper hand would be compensated greatly.

When she had confronted Jack back in the Antonia Graza, Jack had mentioned that this job of his was given to him after a lifetime of sin. He was a soul collector, a reaper of some kind that walked amongst the living. The task of finding willing humans who would give up their souls in order to end their suffering was something new for them both. As they were both in competition, there was something to be gained for the winner and something to be lost for the loser. The winner would gain redemption, another chance at living and being free, in other words, rebirth. The loser however, would lose it all. They would cease to exist in this world but would be forever experiencing the torture of hell. They would be forced to remain burning for eternity without their pain ever ceasing.

As Epps listened to Jack explain, she couldn't help but shudder at the last part. She had always thought Jack needed to pay for his actions and for other people's suffering but now, she wasn't sure whether this was the right way. It seemed too cruel even for them. However, she had to admit that the other reason was she loved him. Despite everything she couldn't help but love the same man who had destroyed her, but wasn't it the way it always went?

Shaking her head, she tried to get back to what was really important. She needed to focus on the task at hand. Simple as the plan seemed she had a feeling it would not be as easy. Everything just seemed so...simple. A thousand willing souls were to be delivered to "manager" and once done, two of her friends would come back and she could get on with her life. There had to be more...something else...Could Jack be hiding something? If so, what?

Could it be a sacrifice? A human sacrifice? Could there be more to the exchange? There were so many things that came to her mind and as absurd as they seemed she knew they held a possibility of being true. After all, what could be more absurd and hideous than what she was involved now? Being so caught up in her thoughts she lost track of time until the alarm on her watch went off. Snapping out of her reverie, she hushed it and headed to the door before pausing.

She closed her eyes for a moment and pictured herself the night she had been on port with her crew, laughing and chatting, having a good time. The night that Jack approached them. That was the one last time she remembered the crew and herself happy. A sad smile graced her lips. Opening her eyes she brought her mind back to her task and opening the door as well, she headed out looking to fulfill her objective.

Epps was making her way through the halls of the grand Andromeda. It was extremely elegant and beautiful. She allowed herself to take in sight of its' fine decoration. After a few minutes of wandering from corridor to corridor and game hall and so forth and so forth, she decided it was time to go dine. She was about to make her way back when she heard sobbing. Curious, she headed to the source, following the corridor she had yet not explored.

She continued making her way to the troubled person thinking of perhaps lending her support, trying to figure what was wrong when she heard a voice join her sobbing. She halted and stood still, hoping she had not been discovered. The person speaking had not stopped doing so and the one sobbing hadn't either making her believe she was safe. She walked over to the wall and leaned as close as possible, trying to not make any noise and listen in on what was going on.

"-don't worry, it'll be always me..."

There was more sobbing and sniffling. She could see from the shadows across the hall the one crying was a girl, well, female and the person lending comfort was a man.

" sure?" the girl asked inquisitively.

"Yes. Trust won't have to suffer anymore." the man let out in a sweet, reassuring tone.

There was silence then, except for the continuing sobbing of the girl and sniffling now and then. Epps heart began to beat faster with each passing second. She recognized the man's voice. She didn't know what to do. Should she stay and continue to listen or should she leave? She stood there, eyes shut, holding her locket as she always did when she felt scared, worried, nervous or happy, debating what she should do.

Suddenly there was complete silence. Dreading the worst she opened her eyes only to let out a small yelp as she noticed a pair of ocean blue eyes staring back at her. Her mouth was immediately covered as she was thrust back against the wall.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?!"

She tried to answer but her words were muffled. Upon realization, he uncovered her mouth but did not loosen his grip on her, still keeping her tight against the wall.

"What were you doing?!" he said through gritted teeth.

"I was..I was just walking! I hap-happened to stumble-will you let me go?!" she answered, half out of breath.

Breathing heavily, he kept his cold, furious stare but after a moment he loosened his hold, still keeping her pinned though.

"Why were you spying on me?!" he said hoarsely.

She took a minute before she replied, trying to catch her breath.

"I wasn't spying on you Jack! I was walking around and I...I heard someone crying so I made my way here trying to see what was wrong when I heard you..." she replied trying to sound nonchalant.

He stood there just staring back coldly at her. Finally, after a few minutes, he seemed to relax a little and motioned her to go.

"We should carry on with our plans." he said in an authoritative tone.

She had so many questions swirling in her head but she knew now was definitely not the time to ask. Instead, she simply nodded and walked off.

A/N:- First off, I want to thank all of you all who have had patience with me & this story. I know I haven't updated in so long & I'm really sorry, I just had so many things before but I will update sooner now.

Also, I would like to point out a mistake I made since the beginning of the story. I said the Andromeda was a cuise ship & I really meant it to be an ocean liner. I did go back and wrote it out that way but just in case you all see "cruise ship" or something you all know.

Another thing that was pointed out by one reviewer was the "manager" and "management" thing. I saw the movie long ago & I may not remember some things or may have gotten some things differently so we'll just go along with it ok? lol

Thank you to that reviewer though! I appreciate it!

And of course, thanks to all of you all who have given this fic a chance and have reviewed!