This is dedicated to all the nice people at the Slipstream board who have posted my stories, posted their comments, Beta read and were encouraging to me (you know who you are and thank you ...you are my inspiration)

Ok mushy stuff over!! (parisindy starts to chant... 'this will not be a long story ... this will not be a long story' )

I don't own them and i'm very poor but if anyone knows of a Harper or two for sale feel free to contact me [pic]

UMMMM rated R because i never know what's going to happen till it does.... well here goes...

********************************************

The Kindness of Strangers

The noise was incredible. Like a man the size of a twelve-story building stepping on a tin can.

The Maru slid to ungraceful stop. Beka, who still sat at the con, pried her eyes open.

"Harper we made it didn't I tell you we would!!"

"OW"

"OW what?" Beka quickly unstrapped and turned around. Harper lay ten feet away where he had tried to secure him self but the panel he was holding on to gave way and now lay on top of him. She hurried over to him and helped him move the panel.

"Look see, your OK." Harper half believed her and tired to stand. His left leg buckled underneath him and he did his best to swallow a scream. It was a full minute before he could open his mouth with out yelling.

Harper finally managed a gasp "Broken."

Beka ran over to the med. supply cabinet. "Where are the nano bot injectors?"

Harper looked at her sheepishly

"In engineering..."

Beka turned towards the engineering bay when Harper finished his sentence. "On Andromeda."

"Harper you idiot!"

"Well I wanted to update the nano bot programs and well we never really use those any more, and and you never crashed the Maru before…"

"I did not crash!" Beka interrupted him "It was a controlled emergency landing."

She took a deep breath trying to figure out a plan. 'What would Dylan do?'

Harper looked up at her expectantly

"Well let's get your leg wrapped up, I'll try to contact the Andromeda and then we'll see what the damage is."

++++++++++++

All attempts to contact the Andromeda failed. Beka wasn't too worried though. It would be only a couple of hours before someone realized they were missing. Beka had managed to find some local anaesthesia for Harper leg so with out to much trouble she had gave it her best attempt at feild dressing. Currently Harper sat in the dirt and grass near by as she walked around the Maru and surveyed the damaged.

"I think it was the intake manifold that blew." He shouted over to her. The manifold had been threatening to do so for some time. It was actually a small miracle that Harper had managed to keep it from doing so in the past.

"MMM maybe!" Beka shouted back.

"We're lucky this planet was inhabitable! Rommie should find us, no problems, we sure left a trail for her with that explosion it was pretty spectacular."

Beka was only half listening to him as she walked towards where most of the damage had occurred.

"Your right it looks like the manifold!" she stuck her head into the damaged area and she noticed something unusual. "That's weird."

"What?"

"It looks like we hit something..."Beka reached in and pulled out a large piece of overtly bright silver metal

"Beka?"

"It's OK." She shouted over her shoulder

"NO! Beka…"

She dropped the piece of metal and looked back at Harper in alarm. Harper had a panicked look on his face and a man dressed in a long leather trench coat held a gauss gun to the back of Harper's head.

Harper could feel the cold metal ring at the back of his neck. He swallowed nervously. There were four of them all together they looked like something out of really bad cowboy flexi book he had once read. Long coats, facial hair, they even smelled like livestock.

Beka stood about 10 meters away Harper met her eyes and swallowed again he knew that look he closed his eyes and started to do what he did best.

"OK listen guys, ummmm, I don't know who you are or what you want but we're a salvage ship with no cargo. Some of our crew went for help but they'll be right back and they all carry very big guns...and well you don't want to kill me because I'm really valuable and...." Harper was doing his best to change the focus of who ever had a gun on his neck. While Beka's free hand edged around her back.

One of them men obviously annoyed lifted Harper off the ground by the scruff of his neck and turned him so they were face to face. Harper tried not to grimace in pain. The pain killer Beka had given him was starting to ware off.

"Listen will you shut up!" growled the man "I will have my vengeance."

"Listen buddy I don't know what the hell your talking about!" Harper was getting angry to and impatient plus he leg was really starting to throb.

Though the other men still had there guns focused on Beka but their attention ever so slightly shifted to the argument. That was all she needed.

From the back of her belt she pulled a low-grade explosive. "Harper" she yelled and threw the mini bomb. Harper immediately

threw his hands over his face and dropped to the ground. Just then there was a loud bang and a lot of smoke. As luck would have it one of the men fell to the ground unconscious. Harper reached out and grabbed the leg of the man closest to him tripping him. He reached out and grabbed a rock about the size of his fist and hit the man in the head. 'Two down two to go' he thought. The smoke made his eyes water so he blinked rapidly to clear them. He saw Beka through the fog. 'Scratch that' he smiled as Beka quickly took care of the other two.

She was then quickly at his side.

"You ok?"

"Yeah, you? He replied.

She nodded out of breath. After a second she was able to gasp out "I wonder what that was all about?" She then reached out and helped him to his feet, pulling one of his arms across her shoulder for support.

Harper leaned on her his balance precarious. "We need to get out of here Beka. That guy said something about revenge."

"Well we are not going anywhere soon the Maru needs extensive work."

Harper pointed to something reflecting in the distance. "There seems to be something over there, a town maybe?"

Beka nodded and squinted her eyes in the sunlight. One of the men at there feet groaned. "Can you walk that far if I help you? We'll need to go quickly."

"Do I have a choice?" He gave her one of his best smiles.

With Harper leaning heavily on Beka they headed towards the horizon.

********************

Harper was leaning heavily on Beka by the time they reached the town.

To say it was a town was a bit of an exaggeration thought Beka. There were

large tents and canopies the whole place looked very nomadic.

She set Harper down by some shrubs and they both rested before trying to make contact with anyone in the little village. She looked down at Harper's face, he looked

pale and sweaty. He also hadn't said that much in the last fifteen minutes that

wasn't a good sign.

"How you doing sport?"

"Great!" He tried to smirk back but Beka wasn't buying it.

"Do you think they followed us?"

"Nah, they were just a bunch of thieves, I'm sure we discouraged them."

"Yeah but they said something about revenge."

"You're a worry wart Seamus Harper." Beka smiled this time Harper didn't believe her. "Listen," She continued "I'm going to check out the neighbourhood you ok here?"

Harper pulled out his Gauss gun and nodded. "Good I'll be right back."

"Beka be careful!" he yelled after her as she walked away. She waved her hand at him without glancing back and walked in to town.

Harper watched her go. He did worry. He didn't like her going into a place without backup.

"Just because your paranoid doesn't mean there're not out to get you." He whispered to himself. He tried to settle himself into a more comfortable position. His leg was throbbing. He glanced back towards the way Beka had left and waited.

+++++++++++++++++

Beka tried not to notice the stares that followed her followed her as she wander nonchalantly around. She tried to blend in. It wasn't working so she gave up and approached the first person that didn't look like they would kill her for saying hi.

"Hello, you speak common?" She spoke to an older woman who looked like she hadn't seen bath water in a while. Mind you after crossing that arid grassland with Harper she probably didn't look much better.

The women stood hunched over a tray of half rotten vegetables and grunted.

Beka took that to mean yes "I'm looking for a medic and a communication centre. Do you know where I can find them?"

The women just grunted and seemed to get agitated. "Kobi fruit, Kobi fruit!"

"I'm sorry I don't want Kobi fruit, I'm looking for a medic."

"KOBI FRUIT, KOBI FRUIT!!!" the older women screamed. Beka backed away with her hands raised in defence.

"Listen I didn't...." A hand grabbed her from behind and she was face to face with what might have been the women's husband. Which could only be deduced Beka thought because he came to her rescue and that he and the old women looked almost exactly the same.

"Whatcha wan...!" He growled in very broken common. "We don like you kind!"

A crowd was starting to grow as the older women continued to scream something about kobi fruit behind her. Beka was looking for a quick exit.

"Look I don't want trouble, I was just looking for a medic."

"GO AWAY!!" yelled the man raising his walking stick and waving it at Beka's

head.

Beka drew her Gauss gun "Back off!" Out of the corner of her eye she noticed two men on the edge of the crowd. They were two of the men she and Harper had fought. One of them was carrying the piece of metal she had

pulled from the Maru. That's it time to go, she thought. And jumped around behind the old women and ran towards where she left Harper.

++++++++++++++

Harper sat waiting for Beka to return. He was getting more then a little sleepy. He chalked it up to the adrenaline from the crash and the fight leaving his body. She hadn't been gone very long but he was worried for her. He looked around the sun was on this planet and he had no clue what the nights would be like. They would need shelter soon maybe they could go back to the Maru. He glanced around he felt quite exposed the shrub he was leaning on didn't offer much protection. He rubbed his nose as it itched.

"ACHOO!" Harper sneezed great his was probably allergic to his only protection. As he grew more tired his leg started to hurt even worse. He tried to look at it but Beka had but a temporary split over his pants and he couldn't see much. He could tell it was really swollen. He reached down to pull his boot off his swollen foot when he heard a noise behind him. He let go of his laces and swung his Gauss gunn at the source of the noise.

"Who's there?" He whispered

A humanoid man about Dylan's age walked towards Harper. The man raised his hands.

"Whoa there I mean you no harm."

"Yeah, well then move on." Harper waved his gun indicating the man should leave.

"You're injured?"

"I said GET LOST!" He was getting a bit nervous now the man showed no indication of minding his own business.

"Are you alone?"

"No I got a whole friggin army on the other side of that ridge so I suggest you take off."

The man stared at Harper. It was like he was staring through him and it really gave Harper the creeps.

"You look like someone in need of assistance."

"Dou you have a communication centre?"

The man knelt down a few feet away from Harper.

"My people are not …ummm, interested in such modern conveniences. I am how ever a doctor."

Harper relaxed a little and lowered his gun it did not however leave his hand.

"You're a doctor really? What's your name?"

"Albin."

"Harper."

"So where's this army." The man laughed

"She went over the hill to find a communication centre…?"

The man paled visible. "Your friend went over the hill… into the village? Is that your ship crashed back there?"

"Yeah what's wrong?" Harper thought for a minute maybe he shouldn't have let his guard down. "Hey man! You leave it alone! You remove one screw from the Maru and I'll know it!"

The man leapt forward quickly. Before Harper had time to raise his gun

The man grabbed his leg right at the break and clamped down hard. Harper screamed in agony and the world quickly turned black.

++++++++++++++++

Beka jogged back to where she left Harper. She thought she had lost the two men who attacked them in a small wooded area not far but it wouldn't belong before they found her trail. She stopped near the shrubs out of breath.

"Seamus?" She called. No one answered. Her brow creased with concern. "Harper?" Nothing.

She did a quick check of the area. She found his gun in the bushes and there were some marks like some one being dragged. He hand flew up to cover her mouth in distress. "Aw Gawd Harper what happened?"

She stood there for a moment in shock unsure of what to do when she heard voices, she turned hoping it was Harper but it was the two men from the village. She would have to look for Harper later first she needed to lose these creeps.

++++++

NO!" Harper woke suddenly with a gasp. His body jerked him into a sitting position.

Hands pushed him down as his head began to spin and he groaned.

He blinked in the semi darkness trying to focus his eyes.

"What's going on? Where's Beka?" His memories rushed over him like a tidal wave and he remembered.

He jerked away from the hands that held him and jarred his leg. The edges of his vision turned red and he nearly passed out again.

"Steady, friend." Whispered a feminine voice with unrecognizable accent. The women leaned into the ring of light that surrounded him and he could see her face. She was not young, about 60 maybe, she looked like a cross between a vigilante and someone's grandma. She wore a long skirt and a ragged shirt her hair was tied back with a bandana and to large knives hung at her waist. She had battle scares on the left side of her face. She leaned against what seemed like a cave wall. It must be her home he thought.

"Who are you?" whispered Harper.

"Emillon, you need to rest young Harper."

"How do you know my name?" Harper asked more then a little shakily.

"Tut, tut, so many questions. Albin told me of course. You need to rest sleep now."

"To hell with THAT! I need to find Beka." Harper tried to get to his feet, putting his entire wait on the one leg.

"No, you must not." She grabbed Harper's shirt pulling him down. He really didn't have much strength and it worried him. Plus how was he going to find Beka on one leg?

"Your friend is lost."

"Yeah I know I have to find her."

"No, she's lost, as in we can not help her."

"What do me lost…. SHE"S NOT DEAD!" Harper felt sick.

"No calm, calm but might as well be"

"What do you mean!?"

"Your ship crashed?" Harper nodded in confirmation.

"Well…"the women continued "The other's the one in the town are Techno's, they love the new way's."

"Techno's?" questioned Harper?

"Umm, yes they like the new stuff like computers and chips and things."

Harper was starting to understand. "And... you don't have any of that kind of stuff?"

The women shook her head. "No, that stuff complicates life."

Harper shook his head, 'there goes any communication with the Andromeda' he thought.

Emillon continued. "The other's they were very proud they built this ship to fly in space and no one down here has had one for a very long time. So they had a big celebration, and put two men in it and they went up." She pointed up with her finger. "They monitored from down here, a big grey flying box came along and SMASH!" Emillon smacked her hands together and Harper jumped at the sound. "No more new flying thing. Both men dead."

"But we didn't see anything!"

"Your ship the flying box appeared and they're flying thing hit it."

"How is that possibly our fault."

"You were there." She said flatly "But we non techno's don't mind we think no one belongs up there." Again she motioned with her finger. 'She is an odd bird' thought Harper.

Harper shook his head in frustration. "So your saying these Techno geeks kidnapped Beka."

"No but they hunt her and when they find her they will kill her for murdering their comrades."

"BUT," Harper took a deep breath and spoke through clenched teeth "We didn't see them!"

"No matter to anyone but you…"

Harper closed his eyes despair almost overwhelmed him. "Come on Rommie where are you I need you and fast."