Chapter Twelve: An Instance

The wind drifted softly over the great spanning fields of grass. With it, the frizzy green rippled and waves of reflected light washed over the vast landscape, as if beating with life. Every pulse, every touch filled Renton's heart with peace and serenity. He sat on the grass next to Eureka who rested against him. They both felt the pulse of the land, the beating texture of life and wonder that filled their vision.

They had been there once before, surrounded by such pure calm, where all the calamities of life were walled outside.

"I could be here forever." Renton whispered as he held Eureka next to him. She smiled gently and nodded.

"But you can't." A voice answered from behind and Renton's entire body tensed. He wasn't sure why the voice scared him so, but the sweet toned and concerned voice acted as a reminder of how things really were. The place of reality that existed outside those walls he could see.

He lowered his head and looked over Eureka leaning against him. How she did not hear it, he didn't know.

"Renton, you have to stay strong, you have to be strong if you are to make it through these times." The woman called from behind. "Please, forgive us."

Renton's eyes shot open. His eyes fell on the glowing screens and the slither of cords across the floor. Wind filtered over the sides of the ship in a muted hum, and as he looked forward, he noticed it had become night while they were asleep. The entire inside of the shuttle was dark and only the computer screens gave a faint glow.

Looking over, he noticed Eureka was still asleep and smiling. As he watched, the distant specters of his dream called to his thoughts like an unwanted reminder.

"That dream." he whispered. The place they had been to before with the vast green field surrounded by tall cliffs. Both Eureka and himself had gone to similar place back when they passed through the great wall, a memory not so long ago.

"Awake there, Renton?" Renton looked up to see Xellien studying the one of the monitors. He hadn't even noticed him come up, the man never made a sound.

"Yes." He answered and looked towards the front of the shuttle. "Are we there?"

"Just about, you woke up at the appropriate time." Xellien stopped and looked at Renton. His eyes stared for a moment and then turned back to the screen. "Is something wrong?"

Renton frowned. He hadn't said anything or done anything to his own knowledge, but even without a minute of talking, Xellien had already picked up on Renton's mood. "I'm alright."

Xellien smiled. "Ah, so I see. Perhaps you've encountered a bad dream?"

"Something like that." Renton conceded. Xellien was both an interesting and mysterious man. He could have tried to resist his probing, but knowing the man, he would have found out anyhow.

"Hm, our dreams are intriguing windows into the fast meanings held inside our minds and soul. If one keeps track of them enough, one might find a pattern." He grinned softly and glanced at Renton. "I find that, sometimes, perhaps the coralians have tried to reach out to humans through their dreams. Visual image when compared to all other forms of language is the most basic and easy to understand." He turned back to his monitor. "The only thing limiting its abilities is not understanding, but rather perspective. Such is a limitation in all language no matter how sophisticated its structure." Xellien let out a subtle sigh and continued on with his work.

Renton wasn't sure what exactly the professor said, or even what he was getting at, but talking about it only harrowed up the memories of the dream. He wondered who was the woman, what did she mean, and what did it have to do with them? Eureka couldn't hear the voice, so was the message solely meant for him?

The questions burned in his thought until he grumbled and hit his head against the back of the shuttle. No matter how much he thought about it, there simply wasn't enough information. He decidedly closed his eyes and allowed his mind to wander. After only a moment of doing so, the shuttle shifted in momentum.

Xellien turned his head towards the front. "Have we arrived?"

"According to the big thing on the ground in front of us, I would have to say yes." Shara answered in her strange tone of sarcasm. Renton wondered what kind of life it took to produce a voice like that.

"Good, set the shuttle down in landing port 707-A." He moved to the front of the ship. "And make sure to send the proper recognition codes to the port. This area is known for several security breaches dealing with the Voderak. I would hate to conclude this day with unnecessary violence." He said and placed an arm on her chair. "Wouldn't you agree?"

Shara sighed and queued a few buttons. "Completely, Doctor."

The shuttle tore through the wild air pushing against the ship. Reflecting off the hull, the New Port Indin lights shined brilliantly off the cool black metal. Bellow the ship the base looked like a network of beacons and red dots, almost like a glowing circuit board. Off to the side of the base the large battleships rocked silently in the water. The ocean itself appeared like a dark breathing mass stretching on over the horizon, except for a single pillar of pure white light from the moon. The white slivers shifted and dance on the water like angels swimming playfully over the surface. The sight was oddly beautiful.

The vision disappeared as the shuttle lowered down into the base where Shara placed the vehicle atop a raised platform. At the back of the shuttle, the ramp hissed and lowered its thick ramp until it touched on the slick, reflexive floor.

Xellien stepped out of the shuttle and absorbed his surroundings. The facilities were much like those he could remember. Boxy shaped, bright and dim lights that illuminated the entire area, but failing where ghostly shadows crept into the corners. The buildings were closely knit together and several stories high. Dozens of walkways surrounded each floor of the boxy buildings.

When Xellien turned around, he observed the dozens of other landing pads surrounding them, as well as the two very large ones off to their sides.

One by one the other attendees exited the ship. First was Shara who, Xellien occasionally noticed, walked out with a bored and underlie excited look about her face. Next Renton and Eureka, hands intertwined in a gentle but tight gesture.

Renton let go of Eureka and walked up next besides Xellien. "Where are we going now?"

"We don't really have much time to waste, now do we?" Xellien answered with a question, something he did too much. "Let us continue to my personal research quarters and asses our situation from there, shall we?" He turned around and gestured with a hand towards one of the doors. Renton gave him a look and then followed.

They moved down the brightly lit walls and pathways of the base. No matter where they walked, the place always seemed empty of people. They ran into the occasional guard, who gave them a stern stare as they passed, but other than that, nothing.

The trip was long and there was little to watch. Finally, after another few minutes had gone by, they stepped down a set of stairs. They moved onto a large field of wet grass, which felt odd after having been walking on hard ground for so long.

Across the grounds, a rather large building separate from the rest sat in the middle of the field. Once Xellien saw it, his step suddenly became quicker and more energetic. "I haven't seen this place in years." Xellien commented excitedly as they drew closer. "This was the place the government granted me to work on my project with whatever equipment I desired and with whatever discretion required." He suddenly became quiet and Renton noticed his feet slowed if but slightly. "Perhaps that's where it all began, with that one simple statement assigned in the order. 'Whatever discretion required.'" he whispered quietly.

They reached the door. Xellien placed his hand on a panel next to the handle and a blue light swiped across the surface. He then reached down and hit several combinations on a pad bellow. When he finished, the door shifted back and slid to the side where light opened out across the dark grounds.

Xellien walked through without a word. Shara hesitated but followed in as well. Renton started forward himself, but as he started to go, Eureka's grip on his hand tightened and he stopped.

He turned to look at her and noticed the look over concern on her face that he had come to know all too well. "I know Renton what we have to do, but-," she faltered and looked around at the ground. Renton wanted to say something, but no matter how hard he searched his mind, he drew nothing. Seeing Eureka this way dug at him violently, but Xellien's prophetic words still rung terror in his heart.

She looked up at Renton. "What should we do, I don't know anymore. I can't," she said but stopped, "I can't stand the thought of you-," she began against but couldn't finish. Her eyes broke off and stared at the door, as if the answer her heart desperately desired were just a few feet away, but at the same time she looked on with built at the possibility.

Renton, not knowing what else to do, stepped forward and took her in an all encompassing hug. She held him back, tightly, tighter that she had ever before as if it were the last time. He guiltily realized the gesture scared him.

"Eureka, Renton, are you coming inside?" Xellien's voice came from the door.

Renton didn't want to let go, but he pulled away and turned towards the door. "We have to make a decision at one point, don't we?" He asked to something other than themselves.

Eureka didn't answer. She instead took his hand and led him inside the building. When inside, all of their worries faded into the background of their thoughts. In the center of the room a powerful display laid itself for all to see.

A large circular display sat in the middle of the room. Scattered across the display little and small devices stood, some appearing like computer stripped of their outer shell. Some of the pieces took on the shape of what looked like millions of plastic strings woven together into a thicker rope, and some glowed a dark, dark color of green.

Surrounding the center of the display were four rectangular objects, and at the very tip of each was a red glowing sphere. In the very center, towering over the rest, was a single small tower lined with glowing circuits of green, and at the very top sat a glass box which almost hummed the same color.

The entire display appeared like a mini city, with the different shining pathways filled with green and red, the towers, and the glowing lights.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Xellien asked from where he stood atop one of the pads. "This is a very stripped down version of a compact drive, with the individual sections enlarged and separated. The different parts are connected through the lower mother board." He began to work with a keyboard off to his side. "This is the very first prototype I designed. I've restricted the compact drive so that I may work with the pieces quickly and decisively." He pointed out to the center piece. "That is the main trapar processing interpreter with my own modifications. At this time, I was barely on the verge of finishing the device and making it possible to control individual thoughts."

Renton opened his mouth to ask a question. "Don't be so rashly quizitive, I'm moving to that point." he said before Renton to ask. "This device is designed to directly read the different pulses in the waves." He paused for just a moment. "Or perhaps, rhythms would be a better word."

"The device in its primitive form will allow me to alter its interpretation parameters. The inverse drive, unlike a compact which analyzes the state of the trapar, can actually target a specific space of trapar and record its rhythm." He clicked at the controls. "In this case, I will record our own specific affects on the trapar." He said and gave a tight smile. "A trait taken from the compact drive itself. So if you'll give me a moment."

Xellien took a few moments to work the commands. Once he finished, the pad suddenly came to life. The different pathways and circuits began to glow bright reds and greens. With a bright flash of white, the device came to life. The green literally pulsed through the crevice in the device like the blood of the machine. A thick red aura hovered over the center tower, following in the same beat, but becoming thicker every moment.

Suddenly, the very top cube turned a thick blood red. The surrounding red mist began to swerve around the device, occasionally flashing out with tentacles of and then slurping back in. The gas sucked into the center, drawing closer and closer until it formed a vortex around the cube. Renton stared in awe. It reminded him of the times he'd seen pictures of in their own galaxy.

"That's incredible Xellien." Shara muttered quietly, standing only a few feet from the device.

"Careful, the inverse drive is drawing in the trapar and condensing. If you were to touch that area of space, I'm not quite sure what it would do."

Eureka's hand tightened inside of Renton's. He felt a flash of surprise as he saw her stare into the mini-galaxy in terror. "What is it Eureka?"

"I don't know what it is. I've never experienced this kind of voice before. It sounds like yelling." Her lip quivered for just a moment. "It sounds like screaming."

"Like in pain?"

"Anger."

"What?" Renton's brows furrowed deeper. He'd never heard Eureka describe anything like that before.

"I'm not sure how to describe it. But I can hear it Renton, can't you?" She asked and then looked up at him. Renton thought for a moment and then turned his eyes to the vortex. He stared into for a moment and felt his thought numb as he stared deeper in. He felt himself moving towards the device without taking a step. A deep hum began to enter his ears

Frowning, he took a step and looked deeper into the vortex, searching for the sound he thought he was hearing. The humming grew louder, deeper, and thicker in his ears. An image flashed through his mind, powerful and clear. He saw a galactic ball of fire with burning eyes and mouth filled with thick darkness. It fiery eyes turned on Renton, blazing with power and rage. The mouth opened wide, ready to consume him. As the mouthed opened, a rush of incinerating heat rushed around his body.

Everything vanished and Renton stumbled back. His breath was heavy and he quickly looked around the room to understand what had just happened. He noticed the machine was off and nothing else but that fact had change. When he looked up, he noticed Shara and Xellien were looking over the controls, but Eureka was still with him.

"Renton?" she called his name quizzically. Renton saw the look of concern edged into her brows, and he realized in that moment that the entire thing had been a vision.

He wetted his dry mouth and wiped off the sweat spread over his forehead. "I'm sorry." He partly whispered. "Did you see it too?"

She looked at him for a moment. "What do you mean, see what? The noise from disappeared once the device stopped." She gently touched the side of his face. "Are you ok?"

"Renton, Eureka, I have it." Xellien said as he passed by the two, siphoning Renton's chance to answer Eureka. "Quickly, we have to leave right now."

"Xellien? You can't just make all of these alterations and then just leave it recorded into the records. Won't that do- I don't know," she struggled for the words, "screw up the time thingy-ma-gingy?"

Xellien urgently beckoned her towards the door. "No, we'll be fine, trust me."

The room went dark and began flashing a deep red. Powerful sirens rang throughout the entire facility, stinging Renton's ears at the sudden burst of sound. They all escaped from the building.

"What's happened?" Eureka asked as they ran back across the yard, and just moments after, the building suddenly exploded. Renton and Eureka shot a look at the now shattered incinerated building that was once Xellien's research facility.

Shara took a step forward and gazed into the fiery fumes of the building. The pad, the mini-city, and everything else lay in a heap of shredded metal. "Were we discovered?"

"Not exactly, may we please hurry?" Xellien urged but stood perfectly still and patient. Seeing as how they already had enough evidence to just listen than ask, the four went to a brisk walk. "The base is under attack, and my younger self knew of the coming attack before I did. So I set my research to self destruct and I field the base hours before the invasion even occurred."

With that last sentence, the entire sky became illuminated in orange fire. Streams of missiles fell and burst out across the horizon, pluming out in thick black clouds of smoke and cinder.

At the site of this, the four of them quickened their pace just a tad bit faster. Renton wasn't anxious to become the very thing they had only just left behind.

"Xellien, you said you had it. What exactly is it that you have?" Eureka said as they turned around a building and the landing pads came into view.

"I was able to reprogram the software so that I may incorporate a type of compass towards our outwardly auras." He took a breath. "According to the map, the nearest of the arrivals area, as well, they appear to hiding amongst a select fleet of ships hovering about that sector." He said as they approached the shuttle and entered inside.

"Shara." Xellien called after her. She stopped and faced him with an urgent look. "Pass through attack zone." Xellien said and pointed at the glowing horizon. Shara shot him a brief but powerful look of confusion. "It's nothing more than a fear tactic to keep people walled off from a certain direction. The Voderak use this strategy on occasion in order to narrow down plausible escape routes. In this case, we have nothing to fear, just past through it."

She hesitated, staring out over the blazing wall of fire caused by missiles from the Voderak attack ships. The flames spread high into the sky, and explosions rang throughout the chaos, which disappeared into ghostly echoes

Gritting her teeth, she nodded and started inside the and Renton made for the shuttle, and the minute Renton stepped on, the shuttle blasted off the ground, leaving Xellien behind.

Renton stumbled back but fell into the enclosing hatch rather than out of the ship-to his great relief. He stood up and rushed to the front of the shuttle to gather exactly what was happening, and as he reached the viewport, he could see the intense orange glow brightening.

"Shara-Shara! We can't leave, Xellien didn't get inside the ship. He didn't have time." Renton yelled desperately and threw his hands around a ceiling handle to steady himself.

"He's not coming." Despite the loud noise, silence swept through the small pilot chamber.

Eureka recovered first. "He's not coming aboard?" Shara shook her head.

"He said he had other business to attend to.

"And you just let him go, just like that? Without even giving us a splick of a warning? Renton said, fury rising.

"Don't give me that, I have no idea what you guys are doing here and I'm not really all that anxious to find out what."

"But you can't just let him go off like that, how are we supposed to meet up with him, how can we trust him?"

"Listen to me." Shara sternly interrupted him. "I have no idea, not even a comprehension of what the strangest group of people I've ever encountered in my life," she breathed, "are planning to do or whatever their purpose is. At this moment, Xellien ordered me to watch over you two, and he left it at that. I've never questioned his orders before, I've never had reason to. Don't hold me accountable."

Renton gritted his teeth for a moment, but he knew that she had a point, and slowly he let the frustration drain. To think that now Xellien was gone, their grip on the mission had gone from small to none. Now their only lead was that of the spot Xellien, the man who just escaped, had pointed out on the map. A man he should have never trusted. He cursed himself for giving in, he cursed himself for letting his trust for Eureka blind his own judgment.

Uneasily, he ushered the thoughts from his mind and looked over at her. She, unlike himself, took on the epitome of calm.

"Eureka?" Renton said as she stared out the view port. The shuttle moved calmly, despite the distant rumbles of explosions. "What are we going to do, we've lost Xellien and now we're following a lead he gave us."

She dazed for a moment and then slowly turned her eyes to Renton.

"I'm sorry Renton, I should have listened to you." Within those words, he could see for the first time, Eureka was desperately trying to hide her emotions. A feeling of guilt passed for his earlier thoughts. "I'm just so scared for what's going to happen Renton, I don't know who we can trust anymore." Her voice suddenly became silent and weak. "We shouldn't have taken up this task, we should have-," a tear slipped down her cheek, "I don't want to know what I've learned here, Renton." She suddenly broke away from the wall and pushed into his arms. Merely through reflex, he quickly tightened his arms around her, but he too felt the stress of what was happening.

Here they were, stranded in the past, trying to complete a mission they didn't exactly volunteer for or completely understand. He wondered what in the world they would do now or how were they going to find Xellien. He simply didn't know. And as that thought passed over his mind, it felt like the world began to turn its back on them. They were truly lost.

Eureka pulled her head away, but she wouldn't let go of him. "Renton, do you know what we should do now?"

The question struck against his brain. His stomach twisted. His thoughts fogged. And so, he lied. "Yes, I know exactly what we're going to do." He struggled for only a moment to say. Right now, they both needed some direction, some place to go. "We're going to follow the lead Xellien gave us.

"But what if he's lying?"

"Then we find another way." He answered, and from that he started to remember how big the world was.

"You two." Shara suddenly interrupted their moment. They both looked over at her. "Looks like we've escaped the invasion, Xellien was right, there were no forces pass the wall. It's going to be a couple of hours before we get to the point Xellien marked. I suggest you make yourselves comfortable," she sighed, "because I'm going to go insane from all of this." Letting off another sigh, she turned the bow of the ship towards the east and accelerated.

"So the battle amounted to nothing…" Eureka gently whispered.

"For us, I guess not. But what about all those people at the science facility?"

"I don't know Renton." The tears began to pour again. Renton pulled her into his tight hug and held her as close as he could. Together, they could face the pain, he knew that. As long as they stayed together, they could take whatever the world threw at them, they could handle even this. Nothing would break them, as long as they were together.

The shuttle bounced on the waves as turbulence increased over the ship. Inside, Renton and Eureka huddled into one of the corners, still close, but now relaxed. Even though she had rested before, Eureka was once again asleep in his arms. Seeing her in this state unstressed Renton significantly from before. Just knowing she could escape everything happening now, gave him a moment's happiness.

As long as they were together, he thought, together.

The shuttle jerked in the air and Renton felt the G's increasing around his body. He looked out the window to see the night stars falling down beneath the shuttle, and after a moment, he noticed a large black shadow come into view.

"Shara?" He inquired.

She didn't answer. Instead, she worked at the communication panel for a moment, clicking on a few of the button. She took the mike and then pulled it over to her. "Valiance, this is shuttle mark 203-N, we request a logging aboard your ship for business, may I confirm and dock in your bay." Silence filled Renton's ears as he waited through the stillness of the shuttle for a reply. Minutes passed without a word.

"203, you were a part of the Izumo fleet, were you not?" The deep voice suddenly burst through the radio."

"Correct, this is agent Shara Cowell of the UFIO."

"United Federation Intelligence Organization, hm?" The voice greasily crackled through the speaker. Shara waited for more, but the radio remained silent for longer than what Renton expected.

The silence continued to build, and build, and suddenly he began to feel comfortable.

He turned to Shara when suddenly a loud snap popped through the speaker. "Your identification checks out, agent. Proceed to land at my ship in the second docking bay, and be sure you land well. The last operative scratched the side of my recently painted ship. We had to pull him out of the ocean and gather whatever was left of the vehicle." A sign warbled and cut off.

"Then that is that." Shara commented coolly as she brought the shuttle around the massive shadow of a cruiser. When they turned around, the shinning white hanger turned into their view, appearing abnormal compared to the dark sky and ghostly ship.

Shara gently pushed the wheel forward, and the shuttle followed pursuit and dipped inside the ship, coming to a gentle rest on the reflexive floor. She reached few of the levers, pulled them back, tapped a few buttons, and allowed the ship to hum back to sleep. The engine shut off and the panels blinked off. The entire ship turned off.

Shara stood up and made her way to the back of the shuttle. "According to Xellien, the man we're looking for is somewhere here. But," she tightly gripped the back hatch level, "that dot didn't specify any one ship, all we know is that they're here. I'll do whatever I can to help."

"Where are we going to start?" Eureka asked as she stumbled to follow her to the back.

"You're asking me?" She said and raised both brows at her. "You're the time travelers here, you figure it out. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I'm helping a bunch of mindless idiots or something else entirely." She shook her head and gripped the handle.

"Shara." Renton quickly said before she pulled it down.

She hesitated a moment and then turned back to Renton. "What?"

"You're not going to abandon us, are you? We don't know much about this time, it's before we were born. We'll need help getting around." He stared into her eyes, not daring deviate. Shara stared right back.

She stood straight, walked forwad, and then gently put a hand on Renton's shoulder.

"Renton." She began in a voice he had not yet heard from her, a voice mimicking somberness. "I've known Doctor James for a long time, he's a good friend of mind, and I will support him in his decisions." She took her hand away and drew herself up to full high, almost matching up with himself. "When Xellien took over, I noticed immediately, but still. I've come to know Xellien and I have placed my trust with him, and he within myself. When I told him I would look after the both of you with my life." Silence swerved into the space between them, she let it build, gain thickness and strength to support what she was about to say. "I meant every last word, and I seal that word with the things I hold closest to myself." She stopped and stared into Renton's eyes.

Renton could feel the empathy tied into those words, and when she finished, he couldn't doubt them. In the short time they've know Shara, he'd now learned to trust her. With the world they were stranded in now, he couldn't be happier with the fact that they had at least found someone they could trust, a someone who would be willing to give it all to them.

The thought sent rivets of comfort through the overbearing stress that had been weighing down as of late. He suddenly wondered Shara was and why she chose to involved herself with everything happening. But above all of those question, he wondered why she trusted Xellien so much, when he couldn't find reason to trust him at all. When he had the chance, he would have to ask.

Shara had moved back to the lever and pulled it down. The hatch hissed for a moment and then slid down, forming a ramp out of the ship. All three of them walked forward and out into the bright lights of the hanger bay. What Renton first saw through his squinting eyes froze him completely in place

Two lines of soldiers stood at either side in front of them, and at the very end of the line a man with young skin but a mature face stood tall. His eyes were cool, almost lifeless as he looked into them. He wasn't quite sure how to describe that hollow look, like a darkness nestled inside the man's head.

As the man stepped forward, his feet moved soundlessly, until he stood as the edge of the ramp.

"Good day, Agent Cowell." He said, his eyes flowing to Renton and Eureka, and then back to Shara. His voice reminded Renton of the wind drifting through the forest, far and distant and yet the sound still sent shivers through the spine. "I'm afraid I have terrible news for you, Miss Cowell." The man clasped his hands behind his back and stared into her eyes, silently urging her to inquire further.

"What?" She humored his emotionless face.

"I'm temporarily relieving you of your rank and status in the military. As of this moment, you are subject to investigation by the command of this ship under suspicion of treachery."

"WHAT?" She screamed, her voice bouncing between the wide open space of the hanger.

"Please, refrain from excitement, I'm sure it's no more than," he stopped and looked over at Renton, "a misunderstanding. I'm afraid you both will be coming with me as well."

"But we haven't done anything." Renton said, worry inkling into his voice accidently. He didn't expect this to happen, and he didn't even want to dare to know how this would affect Eureka and himself.

"I do apologize young lieutenant, but you must take clarity to why these actions are being insured." The man turned around and waved his hand to one of the soldiers. Four of the soldiers in precise unison towards them, each hold a hefty gun, aimed and ready at them.

"What's your name a rank, you don't have the authority!" Shara said and smacked one of the guns out of her face.

"I am Admiral Colins." He said and shared a lazy glance in her direction. Renton noticed the look of confidence of Shara's face turn pale. "And I have enough authority to execute you right here without reason or cause. This is war, ex-agent Cowell, watch your words carefully. Now if you'll please follow me to your new holdings?"

Once the soldiers had a good grip on them, they were dragged and pulled on their way to wherever the general was taking them. Renton desperately wished to speak with Eureka, but every time he opened his mouth, the soldiers poked him in the back with their guns, taunting him to silence.

He unwilling submitted to patience as they walked down the halls of the ship. In only a few minutes, they finally stopped and the Admiral turned around.

"Take the two woman to their new quarters and submit a report of this happening to the captain. I'm sure he's anxious to know what is taking place." The Admiral's lips cracked slightly, what Renton could only guess to be a smile or a smirk.

"What?" Eureka intervened and reached for Renton's hand, but just as she did, a gloved hand shot out and pulled her back. The soldiers kicked her in the stomach and threw her against the wall. A vicious thud filled the hall as she smacked the wall and fell to the ground, out cold. Renton gritted his teeth and charge, but just as Eureka, the guards had him down in a matter of seconds.

They kicked him in the stomach and he fell to the ground gasping for breath. Shara watched, calmly, not daring to interrupt. The Admiral studied the situation with a curious eye, and once the two lieutenants were successfully detained, he continued. "Good work men, continue on with the orders previously given. As for the boy, ask for Doctor Hasine and make sure she brings the proper equipment for interrogation."

"Interrogation, captain?" Shara said coolly and watched him carefully.

He smiled a shallow threatening smile. "Whatever it take to win a war and achieve peace."

She dared to challenge those words, and unable to resist the arrogance stored in her mind, she did. "Only when its for the right a proper cause, not to sickening assumptions." He didn't reply, but only stared at her for a brief moment. His shoulder granted a miniscule shrug and then he waved his hand. The soldier jerked Shara forward and dragged the limp Eureka.

Renton still gripped the pain that felt like a dent in his stomach. He barely caught a glimpse of Eureka through his fuzzy eyelashes as she disappeared around the corner, a flimsy doll compared to their strong grips. He tried to yell in defiance, but his voice came out as no more than a whither of air through his throat.

"Poor thing, you gave him quite the kick, didn't you young man?" The general ticked his tongue and shook his head. The uniformed men than reached down and lifted him to his feet, Renton tried to shake from their grip, but even in the attempt, their arms only grew tighter around his own. Helplessly, he gave in and became limp himself, allowing his weight to become their grievance as they dragged him.

"Take the boy as the orders require. And inform the commander." The soldiers left and the general stood in the hall, his ghostly eyes watching as they drew farther down into the dim confines of the ship.

The darkness began to fade into light, gently smoothing its way into the black before her eyes. She felt something dragging across her feet, a cold, and solid something. Finally, after a moment, her eyes opened and she could see that nothing was dragging across her legs, but rather, her legs were dragging across the floor. She gently lifted her head to see Shara walking with a gun to her back. In that instant, her old training sense kicked in.

Three guards in total were with them, two dragging her, and one keeping a check on Shara. Her eyes studied the floor carefully, and assumed the hall was three meters in width. With the older design, some of the pipes lined the walls, exposing themselves to any passerby's. She knew she could make use with such an old flaw.

She began to count the steps, flashes of Renton appearing in her head with every one. She let those images drive her, give her energy and meaning to what she was about to do.

"Nine." She whispered. One of the guards twisted his head down and frowned, only to see a foot rushing up towards his face. Before he could react, he was already flying through the air. Eureka twisted out of the grip of the other guard and swung her other foot at a joint on the exposed pipe. The metal cracked open a stream of high pressured coolant discharged into the hall. The highly cool gas sprayed into the man, knocking him against the wall and then knocking him out.

Eureka prepared herself for the last guard, but when she turned around, she found Shara dusting her hand and a very knocked-out soldier beside her.

"Alright, follow me." Shara motioned with her hand and started down the hall. Eureka stared down at the scattered bodies around her and then followed.

"Do you know where Renton is?"

Shara shot a look back at her. "Of course not, we don't have a chance of finding him, Eureka. We're getting out of here."

"What, what do you mean?"

"I mean that we don't have time to find where he is, make a plan, and then actually save him, let alone get off the ship. We only have time for one of those, and that's get the out of here before they get us again."

Eureka struggled for words, her eyes dashing around the hall until she finally stopped completely. "What do you mean, we can't just leave him. I won't go. I won't leave without him." Shara stopped and looked down the hall. She turned back to Eureka and gave her a cool stare.

"Listen Eureka, I would be sympathetic and caring as you like, but you need to be realistic. We don't have the time to help." She took a step forward. "This is a command ship, and therefore it is packed with five hundred personnel. When they figure out we're gone, the ship's entire security will go off and we'll be found in seconds. If we want to leave, we have to leave now. We won't be able to help him if we're capture again."

Eureka wanted to deny it, but her mind knew the reality of the situation. If they didn't leave that very moment, they would be captured and would be no better use to Renton in that situation.

Still, even as she knew the truth, her heart ached against it. She knew if only she had the Nirvash none of this would be a problem.

Her heart twisted with her thoughts as she tried to come to a decision. Tears slowly swelled at the edges of her eyes, a single drop passed over her cheek and fell to the floor. She knew the answer. She had to be realistic, no matter how much the pain hit her.

"Let's go." she whispered. Shara's eyes opened wide, clearly surprised at the easiness of convincing Eureka. Before she could say another word, Eureka was already off on her feet running down the hall. She only waited a second to catch up to her.

Making it through the ship was far easier than Shara had hoped. They snaked their way around the various vehicles and fighters. As they mad their way, Shara couldn't help but noticed that none of the guards would stop them. Then she suddenly remembered they were wearing uniforms and it was unlikely that everyone knew they were traitors.

"It looks like we might make it out of here without a problem." Shara said as they crossed towards their shuttle. Eureka didn't say a word, she simply walked.

They made their way into the shuttle and began to prep the engines, and as Shara had expected, the entire area turned into a flashing bulb of red.

"That's our cue!" Shara muttered as she kicked the engines into action. Without appropriate preparations, the ship wasn't quite ready to lift up and fly. The jets on the back fired to life and the shuttle dragged across the floor, sending skitters of sparks in a flurry all around them. Warning lights and alarms beeped everywhere inside the ship. Eureka quickly shut them off.

"They're closing the doors." Eureka said a little too calmly.

"I see that, blast, we have to get off the ground or we'll just crash into the closing hatch."

"Give me the controls." Eureka said.

"What?" Shara said, not liking the idea already.

"Give me the controls, I'm familiar with this technology as well."

Shara hesitated a moment, staring at Eureka as the options swirled inside her head as well as the current situation and the dangers involved therein. She knew it was a risk, but as it was, she couldn't think of what to do.

Reluctantly she jumped out the seat and Eureka jumped inplace.

Her hands quickly shot between the different controls and then rested on the flying wheel. She pulled back and suddenly the shuttle lurched forward. Shara barely had enough time to strap herself into the co-pilot seat before the force almost threw her out.

The shuttle bounced into the air and did a single summersault. Outside the viewport, the hanger and door became nothing more than a mixture of red and silver. Shara watched as the mixture abruptly turned into a solid blue. Eureka in that instant turned the controls, flipped them back, and then pushed them forward again.

A splash of grew flew up over the canopy. Shara felt like a thousand G's piled against her body as they came to a swift but steady stop. She waited a moment, letting the spinning feeling in her head slow to a stop.

"Now that we're outside the ship, how do we escape?" Eureka asked, completely untouched by what had just happened.

"How did you get us off the floor and out?" Shara had to asked, only after she calmed her breathing. She wouldn't let this future girl best her.

"I angled the gets so we flipped out of the ship."

Shara felt her jaw drop a few meters. "You what? How in the world did you calculate that kind of aim without crashing into the door, the side, or the ground?"

"I just did…" Eureka muttered and looked out the viewport. "How do we get out of here before they catch up to us?"

Shara paused for a moment, trying to get her thoughts to catch up with her words. "Oh, yes, let me pilot the ship." The two of them switched places in a matter of seconds. "Xellien installed a lot of extra add-ons to this shuttle. One feature which allowed for a quick escape." The shuttle tilted back slightly.

Eureka watched with muted curiosity. The stars hanging over head swooped into view as they climbed towards the sky. Shara punched one of the buttons, and with a loud crack, the entire ship burst forward. The stars shook violently as they climbed for space.

Eureka knew what was happening.

"Amazing, isn't it?" Shara said as the ship began to steady out and gravity lost its grip on them.

Eureka didn't reply. After a moment, Shara turned to see her staring off into the stars, tears glinting off her cheek in the moonlight. She could have said something, but she didn't think it would matter. From what she had seen earlier, she knew Renton and this girl were close, but to what extent, she wasn't all that sure.

She turned back to the canopy to see the curve of the world horizon as they slowly dipped back down towards Earth. The site was beautiful, even mesmerizing. But as she tried to take it in like she had so many times before, the soft whimpers from Eureka echoed into her ears, and she felt nothing.

Renton heaved a tight breath as consciousness poured into his mind. His eyes desperately searched the room, but all he could see was darkness and a single light hanging over him. His breath quickly became erratic as he tried to realize what was going on. When he tried to stand up, binds around his arms and feet made him realize he was tied to a metal chair.

He coughed as he felt something going up his nose and back down his throat, like a long plastic tube. Fear crawled into his chest, he wanted to know what was going on, he wanted Eureka to be at his side. As long as they were together, nothing could go wrong.

He looked through the room and thought he was alone, until he noticed a figure standing in the darkness.

Very suddenly, he wished he had been right about being alone.

"You should feel very afraid, Renton." Admiral Colin's voice moved like an essence in the air.

Renton swallowed a try lump in his throat. "How do you know my name?"

"Your name came to me by certain resources, none of which will matter to you in the next few hours." His hollow stare burrowed into Renton. "That much I can promise you."

The fear began to claw at him. He'd seen these kinds of things in movies before. The room, the smell, and the light hanging overhead all matched that kind of feeling. His breathing became faster. "Where is Eureka?" His voice cracked.

"That girl that was with you before? She's already received her treatment, I'm afraid. A strong girl, we couldn't get anything out of her before she went out cold."

At those words, the fear turned into burning rage. He tried to leap out of his feet, ripping and pulling at the bindings holding him to the chair. He writhed and struggled like a wild beast. The Admiral watched passively and uninterested.

Only a minute had passed until Renton had lost energy and became lifeless in his chair.

"It appears you're ready. Alison, come forward." A woman emerged from the darkness. She wore a white lab coat and strutted with perfect form. Her hair fell down past her back like a river of black liquid. Her eyes, he noticed, glinted in the light overhead, revealing a fierce blue color.

"Hello, Mr. Renton." She said as she pulled a large metal box up behind her. She pulled the box to her side, reached down, and opened it. Inside the box was filled with rows of knives, syringes, vials filled with variously colored liquids, and other things that Renton wouldn't want anywhere within a ten food radius of him.

"Begin, Alison. We cannot be frugal with our time." The admiral said as a world of pain was opened before Renton.