Author's Note:

I still have Breakaway to finish rewriting, Galactic Treasure to update someday, and my first SW fic to continue. So I'm definitely crazy for doing this, especially when my 'Net is down at home and I have no idea when it'll come back up again. But the idea latched on and would not let go.

What's a penumbra? It's the darkest point of a shadow.

Aria Saralyn, a wonderful SW fanfic author, once wrote a fic called Darker than Darkness. This fic is inspired by it, although I'd say this one is more intense.

The rating for now is T, though depending on how bad it gets, I may actually have to jump it up to M. *cue gasp from readers* I know, I know, I've never done anything worthy of the M before. But this fic… just might warrant it.

This is much, much darker than the vast majority of BLoSC fanfiction out there. And despite that, I'll do my best to stay true to the characters.




He has a carefully-constructed routine for a carefully-constructed universe.

In the morning, he wakes up, has his coffee, drives up to work, meets up with his team, blasts off to protect the galaxy (usually from a certain Evil Emperor), has at least one meal with his team at their favorite restaurant, comes home in the evening and racks out on the couch to sleep the sleep of the justified.

That's his routine.

His universe is very black and white, with Good on one side (his job) and Evil on the other (his arch-nemesis). He has his copilot, a sometimes-spitfire princess who's not afraid to give him a piece of her mind (or take a piece of his); his gunner, a kindhearted but rather gullible farmboy who idolizes him; and his scanner, a smart-mouthed robot who has more vices than any hero should ever have. A plethora of identical, miniature astrophysicists; a short-tempered but goodhearted commanding officer; and a load of fellow Rangers complete the part of the Good Side that forms his job. On the other side, he has his archenemy, an Evil Emperor who never stops trying to take over the galaxy; his former-partner-turned-bad-guy, an erstwhile best friend who can be really wicked or sort-of good, depending on the situation; and his target-practice, a never-ending supply of easily-destroyed combat 'bots.

That's his universe, and, despite the millions of times he's come close to meeting his Maker, it's a pretty good universe.

But for some reason, the routine is a little off today.

He's sitting in the Control Room, sipping coffee and listening to the morning bustle around him. Nearby, XR's already back in sleep mode and snoring, and one LGM has found a very attentive audience in Booster.

That leaves Mira unaccounted for—hence, the routine being off.

Sighing, he decides to try to comm her again.

Chirp-chirp! Chirp-chirp!

Oh, that must be her now!

"Hey, you're—" He stops short, blinks, makes sure that he's not just seeing things. "Zurg?"

"Nice to see you, too, Lightyear!" Zurg retorts on the comm screen, scowling.

Okay, this is weird—Zurg never calls Buzz on his communicator. "Zurg, what do you—"

"Actually, what I want is what's best for everyone in this case," Zurg interrupts. "Even Evil Emperors have standards, you know."

Buzz's eyebrows draw together. Best for everyone. Standards. Yeah, right. "What are you talking about?"

Zurg's face abruptly turns serious. "Do you remember Parik Trelme?"

Buzz feels his own face harden. He needs only one hand to count the number of criminals for whom he's pushed to take the death penalty, and Trelme is one of them. "I remember."

"He's out of PC-7."

"What? How do you know?"

"He did some work for me two weeks ago, but I didn't know that it was him until last night."

"Okay, thanks for the heads-up," Buzz tells the Evil Emperor, all business now. They have to hurry to catch Trelme before he ravages more lives. "We'll put out an APB for him—"

"Not so fast, Captain Galaxy!" Zurg interjects again. That's getting annoying. "There's one more thing you need to know. Trelme wouldn't accept cash—only a devious piece of technology."

"What—" Buzz catches the croak in his voice, pauses, starts over. "What devious piece of technology?"

"An implant that can be inserted into a person's arm with very little risk—the catch is, the person would be Tangean Royal. The implant is designed to have a negating effect on their ghosting ability, similar to a Royal/Grounder power cancelation."

For a moment, Buzz could swear his heart stops beating. When he can speak again, his mouth is paper-dry. "Mira."

For once, Zurg's expression is regretful, and it's a look so completely alien to him that it's almost frightening. "'Fraid so. Sorry, Lightyear."

No, he doesn't have to say that, he doesn't have to be sorry, because Mira will be just fine. She will be. "We'll take precautionary—"

"Captain Lightyear?" calls a Rhizomian cadet. "Have a call for you!"

"You can hold that thought," Zurg tells Buzz dryly.

"Yeeeah, hold on." Buzz hurries over to the Rhizomian boy's console—this had better be good. "Who is it, Cadet?" But he recognizes the face right away, a man from the Capital City Police Force. "Woody!"

"Hi, Buzz," the other man says. There's an indefinable something in his voice, in his face. "I've got bad news for you."

Buzz's stomach tightens with apprehension. "What bad news?"

"We found a note that was addressed to you," Woody informs him. "It was found in a broken-in apartment—a neighbor phoned us just fifteen minutes ago."

He knows. He just knows. But he doesn't want to believe it, not yet, because that will shatter his universe—and Mira. "And?"

"And the note says, Got her, Lightyear—it's signed by a man called Parik Trelme."

Buzz's stomach knots so tightly that it hurts and he almost stops breathing. He feels cold, pale, lightheaded, and this can't be happening not Mira no please not her no this can't be happening…

"Buzz, the apartment was Mira's. She's gone."

With those words, his carefully-constructed universe shatters.