A MISSION FOR HARPER

Harper was in Machine shop five getting ready for a parts run with Rhade and Becca. Andromeda appeared in holographic form, near the workbench..

"Harper." Andromeda said. "Dylan would like to see you in his office."

"Great!" Harper replied. "What now? I haven't been working on any secret projects, so it can't be that. I haven't even been late at the last few crew meetings. All of your systems are working far above Commonwealth standards. Jeesh! I just wish everyone, especially Dylan would start treating me with some respect and have a little more faith in me."

"Relax Harper." Andromeda told him. "You're not in trouble. He just needs to talk to you about something."

"What about?"

"He didn't say."

"He didn't tell you? That's odd."

"He did receive a classified communication from High Guard Command, on Terazed." Andromeda said. "But when I asked him what it was about, he apologized and said he couldn't tell me. An hour later he told me that he wanted you to report to his office."

"You think they're going to make Dylan replace me?" Harper asked. "I'm not officially a High Guard officer. Maybe they want someone better qualified to be your engineer."

"Harper." Andromeda said. "I don't want this to go to your head, but there is nobody better qualified to be my engineer than you, especially after all the modifications and upgrades you've done. A High Guard engineer would be totally lost just trying to figure out my lights and doors."

"Thanks." Harper said.

"Your welcome. I really don't think that's what's going on anyhow Harper, but if they ever did try to replace you as my engineer, let me just say that they would have a fight on their hands."

"I wonder what this is all about then." Harper said.

"Instead of standing around here wondering about it, perhaps you should go to Dylan and ask him. Otherwise you'll make Rhade and Becca late."

"You're right again." Harper said, as he neared the door. "Thanks again,… uh for what you said. You'd really fight for me?"

"Yes Harper. I would." Andromeda said, and Harper left the Machine shop. "With every warhead at my disposal." She continued, after Harper had left. She then vanished from the Machine shop and reappeared in Becca's quarters.

"Becca." Andromeda said. "I wanted to inform you that Harper may be a little late. Dylan needed to talk to him about something."

"What's Shorty done now?" Becca asked.

"As far as I know Harper hasn't done anything wrong Becca. Dylan just wanted to see him before he left with you and Rhade."

"He's probably giving him a speech about being on his best behavior." Becca said. "Or maybe there's something else Dylan wants Harper to pick up."

"You're probably right Becca.." Andromeda said before vanishing from Becca's room. She decided that it was best not to mention Dylan's classified message from Terazed.

Dylan was in his office when he heard the door chime.

"It's me Boss." Harper said. "May I come in?"

Dylan opened the door and invited Harper inside.

"Andromeda." Dylan said. "Activate privacy mode please."

"Privacy mode engaged." Andromeda's voice answered.

"Boss?" Harper asked, confused at the way Dylan was acting. "What's going on?"

Dylan paced back and forth, in deep thought. How much could he tell Harper? Did he make the right choice choosing Harper for this mission? Finally he decided. If Harper accepted the mission, he would be risking his life, and deserved to at least know as much as Dylan.

Harper watched as Dylan walked back and forth across the floor of his office. He'd never seen Dylan this nervous before, not even before a battle. He wondered what could make his captain so uneasy.

Dylan finally stopped pacing and looked at Harper.

"Harper, what I'm about to tell you can't be repeated to another soul. Do you understand?"

"Uh, yea Boss." Harper replied. "I understand. Mums the word."

"Mum?" Dylan asked.

"Old Earth expression." Harper said. "I won't tell anyone."

"Very well." Dylan replied. "As I said, this is very top secret information and you and I are the only ones that will know about the mission."

"What mission." Harper asked.

"I'm getting to that. Harper as you know you'll soon be joining Rhade and Becca on the Maru to go down to the planet Maligna for supplies. Besides the normal supplies, I need you to go to the Synthori Laboratory and pick up a special package. Be very careful with it and bring it back to the Andromeda without anyone finding out about it."

"That's it?" Harper asked. "Pick up a package? Piece of cake Boss! Consider it done."

"Harper, it may not be as easy as I made it sound. There are other people that want this package, People that would kill for it. You'll have to be very careful and constantly watch your back. Arm yourself as if you were

going into a war zone."

"I see,…" Harper said. "Dylan, can I ask you one stupid question?"

"Go ahead."

"What's in the package?"

"To tell you the truth Harper I don't know." Dylan said. "All I can tell you is that the Synthori Laboratory works to develop new and better genetic enhancements and they also have been attempting to strengthen individuals immune systems. I can only assume that they have made some sort of major breakthrough."

"If that's the case," Harper said. "I can see why others might want to steal it."

"Harper when you get to the Lab, ask for Dr. Doodlewaddle."

"Dr. Doodlewaddle?" Harper asked, trying to keep from laughing.

"That's not his real name Harper." Dylan said. "They'll know that you've come for the package when you ask for him. They will then take you to meet your contact. Once you're alone with Doodlewaddle, tell him that you're the Super Genius come to pick up the Yo-Yo."

"Doodlewaddle, Super Genius, Yo-Yo. Got it!" Harper said. "I just have one more question Dylan."

"What's that Harper?"

"Why in the Tri-Galaxies did you choose me for this mission and not Rhade?"

Dylan sit down on the front of his desk and let out a loud sigh.

"Harper, You have been a member of this crew ever since the day you and Becca pulled the Andromeda out of that black hole. We've been through a lot together, and although most of the time I might neglect to tell you, I'm really proud of everything you do in order to keep Andromeda operating. In so doing, you kept my dream of a new Commonwealth alive as well. I also know that you're a survivor. The fact that you lived so long on Earth and was finally able to get off of that dreaded planet is proof of that.

I was also given some information concerning some rather shocking information about your past Harper. It seems that you used to do some, shall I say "cleanup" work, for an organization called…."

"Uh, ok Dylan that's enough. I'd rather not talk about that. It's not something I'm proud of."

"Very well." Dylan said. "As for why I didn't choose Rhade, I'm not really sure. I guess if I was to be totally honest with myself I would have to say that I don't yet trust him as much as I do you."

Harper was speechless, and for Harper that's really saying something. The thing that shocked him the most was that Dylan or somebody found out about his past activities with the unnamed organization. Not even Becca knew that he had secretly taken contracts from them. Harper cleared his head. That life is all past him now.

"Thanks Dylan." Harper finally said. "I won't let you down."

"I know you won't Harper." Dylan said. "I have faith in you."

"Dylan. Can I ask a huge favor?"

"You don't want me telling anyone about your past."

"It would really mean a lot to me Boss."

"Don't worry Harper." Dylan said. "Mom's the word."

"Uh, that's mum, … not mom."

"That's what I meant. Mum."

OO

Trance was sitting on the floor in her room when she saw a vision of the future. It was bad, very bad. She immediately jumped up and went running toward the docking bay where the Maru was located. She had to stop Harper before he left. She had to prevent her vision from coming to pass.

Trance arrived at the Docking bay just as the Maru was leaving. She saw Dylan standing at the door and ran up to him.

"Trance." Dylan said. "I'm surprised you weren't here earlier to see everyone off."

"Dylan ." Trance said. "Bring them back."

"Why Trance?" What's wrong?"

"Just bring them back!" She repeated. "Bring Harper back!"

"Trance tell me what's wrong. Did you see something? Is the Maru in danger?"

"Dylan." Trance said very strongly. "Just as there are things that you cannot tell, there are things that I also cannot reveal. As long as I have been a member of your crew, it should be enough for you when I say that if you don't call Harper back from this mission, things will never be the same again."

"You know about the mission?"

"DYLAN!" Trance shouted. "CALL THEM BACK!"