"You're clear for launch," Rommie told Janet.
"Thanks Rommie," Janet said as she tapped some buttons on the console nearby. "Everything OK back there?" she asked Trance, who was coming with her. There was no reply. "Trance?" Janet said looking over her shoulder. She couldn't see much because the pilots chair was blocking her view. "I'm fine. Just worried, that's all." Trance's voice answered.
"I'm sorry Trance. I know you don't like to leave Harper while he's unwell but he is recovering. He'll be just fine," Janet thought about letting Trance off the ship and going on her own but she knew Dylan would have a fit and he had let her go on this trip in the first place. She had to do what he said.
Trance didn't answer. Janet sighed and launched the ship. When she was far enough away from the Andromeda she put the ship on auto-pilot and stood up. She walked down a small corridor to the room where Trance's voice had come from, what she saw in the room made her jump in surprise, "Tyr?! What are you doing here? Where's Trance?"
Tyr held up a voice modification device and talked into it. Tyr's voice was replaced by Trance's. "Trance is on the Andromeda. Hope you don't mind." Tyr saw that Janet had that look on her face that said she was trying to hide her laughter. He smiled at her and the corners of her mouth twitched. Her shoulders started to shake. Then she collapsed into laughter, the sight of Tyr speaking with Trance's voice was too funny. "Oh God Tyr! Why....the," more laughter prevented her from continuing. Tyr smiled at her. Janet was so beautiful when she laughed. Her whole face lit up and her sky-blue eyes shone like stars. She threw back her head as another wave of laughter hit her and Tyr saw her red highlights catch the light making her brown hair appear auburn in places. Janet's face then grew serious. "Why did you do this?" she asked a small smile staying on her face.
"You're going to a planet that is either on the border of Drago-Katzov space or inside Drago-Katzov space. If you ran into trouble Trance would be of little help."
"I see ....and you intend to see to my survival?"
Janet smiled. Tyr always came after her if he thought she would get into trouble even though she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. "You don't have to come with me. I can handle this myself."
"Dylan wanted someone to come with you. The only difference is I'm coming instead of Trance."
"Dylan's going kill you for this you know. He wants us to act more like a High Guard crew and follow orders to the letter."
"He can try to kill me."
Janet sighed. "I didn't mean it literally Tyr."
Janet threw her hands in the air in an 'I give up' gesture. "Y'know Tyr sometimes I just don't understand you." She turned and left the room. While keying in the code to take the ship off auto-pilot she sat in the pilots chair. Tyr entered the room behind her. "Keep an eye on the sensors in between the slipstream jumps would you? If we do enter Drago-Katzov space we'll want to see them before they see us."
Tyr nodded in reply and stationed himself beside the sensor console. "We should power up the point defence systems just in case they do see us."
Janet nodded. After a few minutes she asked, "Everything ready?"
"OK. Entering slipstream," Janet said and began to navigate the ship through slipstream.
Janet was aware of two hands covering hers and moving them as if to pilot a ship. Glancing up she saw Tyr gazing down at her. "What?" she asked sounding drowsy.
"You nearly crashed into the slipstream wall. I had to exit slipstream for you."
Tyr nodded and pointed to the back of the ship. "Get some sleep. I'll pilot for now."
Tyr picked her up, carried her into her quarters and dumped her on the bed. "You are of no use while you're this tired. Get some sleep. If there's an emergency I'll call you."
"I know," Janet said sounding half-asleep. Tyr turned, exited the room and sat in the pilots chair. He sat listening to Janet scrambling around looking for something and then the creak of the bed as she lay down. He shook his head to clear it and took the piloting controls.
"They came out of nowhere!" A male voice yelled from behind Janet. Janet turned around and saw she was in a large control centre. There were seven Nietzschean men sitting in front of a large computer while several others were dashing around the room. Urgency and panic filled the air. "The Warriors Way has left the atmosphere and is coming around to attack them," said another man.
Janet looked at one of the screens and saw numerous dots representing ships. The Warriors Way was a green dot and "they" were the red dots. "One Drago-Katzov ship has been destroyed," a dark haired man reported.
A red dot disappeared from the screen. Janet stood in shock staring at the screen. Drago-Katzov? How did she get here? What was happening? "Warriors Way this is Command. There are five Drago ships coming at you from behind. I repeat five Drago ships are coming at you from behind," a man with brown hair yelled into the com system.
Janet stared at the man. He seemed familiar somehow. There was a loud beeping from the computer and the green dot disappeared from the screen. "Warriors Way has been destroyed. Are there any other ships?" The man that Janet had been staring at asked.
"Captain, we just got word from Firta. Jillopa has been destroyed and the Drago's are heading for Firta now."
"Jillopa? The entire city of Jillopa has been destroyed?!" The man said in disbelief.
"The Drago's destroyed it with one bomb."
"Half our warships were in that city! Get what we have left into space! I want all of those warships manned and ready to fight now!"
"Sir, Firta has been destroyed. The Drago's are heading north."
"Activate the ground defence systems! Blow them out of the sky!" The Captain yelled.
"Six Drago ships have been destroyed but the rest are still heading north."
"There's too many of them!" A man behind Janet yelled.
"Keep working men. We haven't lost yet," the Captain said and walked to a separate office. Janet followed him. "Sir!" she yelled after him but he either didn't hear her or he ignored her. She entered his office and the door shut behind her. Looking at the desk she saw the man talking on a com-channel to a woman. She had bright sky-blue eyes and auburn hair. She looked familiar to Janet aswell. "I want you to take our child and leave," the Captain said.
"I can't do that. I won't leave you."
"You have to. It's for the good of the pride. Kaseera will be able to carry on our bloodline. I must stay here. We still have a chance of winning this battle. I can't order an evacuation while there's still a chance. I need the Alpha's permission to begin evacuating this place."
The woman sighed. "Very well." The screen went blank.
Janet turned to leave but found herself facing a wall. A baby's laugh came from behind her. She turned and saw she was in a nursery. She walked to a small cradle in the middle of the room and peered in. The infant looked up at her with bright happy eyes. The door opened and the woman the Captain had been speaking to entered. She walked quickly to the cradle and picked the child up. The next thing Janet saw was the woman putting the child in a crib. Janet looked around and saw she was on a ship. The woman turned and jumped. "Who are you?" she asked.
Janet stared at her startled. The woman looked her up and down. "You seem to be one of us. Turn around."
Janet did as she was told. She felt the woman's fingers on her tattoo. "You are one of us. Who are you?"
The woman frowned. "That's an unusual name for someone of our pride."
Janet decided not to go into details. "My father gave it to me."
'How odd,' the woman thought but realised she didn't have time to interrogate Janet. She had to get off the planet. There was a loud rumbling and the ground shook. Janet glanced out a window and saw that a building outside had been turned to rubble. A bomb possibly? A siren sounded and the Captain's voice announced, "Everyone evacuate the planet. Find the nearest available ship and get out of the system as fast as you can. Send word to Kodiak that the Drago's have attacked us and they are the next target."
'Kodiak?!,' Janet thought. 'Oh my God! It's the attack on my pride! I can't be here!'
The woman with Janet wasted no time in obeying the Captain's orders. She powered up the ship and left the planet. Janet kept an eye on the sensors. "I'm reading twenty missiles heading straight at us from the starboard side," she said. "Activating point defence systems."
A console beside Janet exploded sending a shower of sparks everywhere. "We were hit by two missiles," she reported while shielding herself from the sparks. She saw numerous green dots representing the other Cougar Pride ships. 'They're not going to make it,' Janet thought and sure enough slowly each of them disappeared one by one. Janet blinked back the tears that were forming in her eyes. The baby in the back started to cry. Janet looked behind her. "Fire!" she yelled.
"You take care of it! I have to get us out of here!"
Janet grabbed a fire extinguisher and worked to put out the fire while desperately trying not to fall when the ship shook. A loud beeping noise came from the computer. The woman leapt out of her seat saying, "Get into an escape pod! The ship's going to explode!"
Some instinct made Janet grab the baby and shove her into an escape pod. Janet quickly clambered in with the baby. She heard the woman gasping and coughing. She was about to leave to help the woman but the doors closed before she could get out. "No! Open you stupid things!" she yelled and banged on the doors. The pod launched and Janet was left staring at the sensor screen where she saw the ship disappear from view. "Damn you! Damn you!" she screamed at the red dots that circled around the area where the ship had been destroyed.
Janet jolted awake, drenched in perspiration, to find Tyr holding her arms staring at her as if she had gone mad. "What happened?!" Janet gasped.
"You tell me. I was piloting and I heard you start tossing and turning. Then you started screaming so I came in."
"I...I..I had the strangest dream. It was so real except for my disappearing from one place and ending up in another. It was the Drago-Katzov attack on my pride. I was there. I saw it and there was a man there. He seemed familiar and that woman too."
Tyr rolled his eyes. Janet wasn't making any sense. "It was just a dream Janet. Dreams don't mean anything."