Disclaimer: 'The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers' is copyrighted by Hearst Entertainment, Inc. This is a work of fanfiction and I make no profit of it.

Summary: After she has been left by Stingray, Darkstar struggles to find her way. Starts right after 'Pride before the Fall.'

Based on the song "Flying to the Moon and Back" by Savage Garden.

Thanks to Robyn for beta-reading.

She didn't wait for the ash to cool or for people to start asking questions. Stingray had betrayed her, and she needed to run.

The woods would have offered cover from air surveillance, but she didn't have time to find her way through them; instead she took her robosteed and galloped off on the main road. Chestnut Grove was out of the question as a space port – she was too well known there, and she couldn't afford to leave any trace.

Her rifle's number was registered, and she had to throw it down a canyon where no one would look. Gun controls were too strict on New Chennai to do otherwise. A rifle wouldn't do her much good anyway if she was caught by the Space Navy. Daisy Miller didn't exist anymore, and Darkstar would do anything she needed in order to survive.

For good measure, she cropped her hair short with her knife. At late afternoon, she reached Little Salamanca and was able to sell her robosteed at an acceptable price to a barely legal junk dealer. She hoped by the time anyone would check there, he would already have disassembled it into unrecognizable spare parts.

She spent the rest of the day scanning the town for any type of unusual police presence. She knew she needed a place to sleep and to change her appearance; she used her poncho as a hood, scratched her face and went to a shelter for battered women. They didn't ask her many questions when she stumbled in around midnight.

She rested some hours, then got up before anyone else did. She had no desire to meet people who might remember her. In the shower, she tinged her hair red with the henna she had stolen from a street seller; then she threw away her old clothes, got into tight jeans and a close fitting gold metallic blouse, topped it off with heavy make-up, sunglasses and gaudy bronze ear rings and hoped this outfit would distract anyone from the black markings on her skin.

It was just turning dawn when she left. So far she had detected no sign of increased search activity, which either meant there was no search or her enemies had sent specialists.

She went to a diner that served breakfast and flirted with a truck driver who was transporting a load of grain to Union City. She easily persuaded him to take her along.

She wasn't sure if he believed her story about wanting to visit her gravely ill mother or whether it was the prospect of sharing some drinks with her later that convinced him – she didn't plan to stick around long enough to find out.

Shortly after lunch, at one of the rest stops, she found different transportation and snuck as a stow away passenger into another truck headed for Belleville, a settlement that harbored a small space port because of the prominence of ore mining in its surroundings.

The truck was full of badly stowed utility goods, and she had to be careful not to be squashed by them. She allowed herself a moment to curse Stingray from the bottom of her heart, then she had to concentrate again on keeping her balance between water filters, wood stoves and solar panels.

To top it all, the driver had the same song playing again and again at a volume that made it impossible for her enhanced hearing to ignore it.

She's taking her time making up the reasons

She didn't have time to think about hurt, just about survival. She retraced her steps in her head, making sure she had not overlooked anything. Unbidden, the memories sprang to life.

To justify all the hurt inside

When she was standing in front of the burnt down house, she did not try to retrieve any belongings. People might already have called the Space Navy or a special team of galaxy rangers. She needed to get to a spaceport fast.

Guess she knows from the smiles and the look in their eyes

When she reached Little Salamanca by late afternoon, she tried to shake off her old identity. A junk dealer gave her a little sum for her robosteed. She changed her appearance and hitched a ride to one of the smaller and less watched space ports.

Everyone's got a theory about the bitter one

People were looking at her curiously as they would at any outsider. She needed to make sure they did not remember anything that they could connect to a government fugitive. She had already cropped her hair short and stolen some clothes different than her usual style from a second hand store.

They're saying

There was no out of the ordinary police presence she could detect, but she did not want to run any risk by sleeping on the streets or checking into a hotel, so she went to a women's shelter.

Mama never loved her much

And daddy never keeps in touch

That's why she shies away from human affection

She focused on the present. She was totally on her own now – no one but herself to guard her back, no one but herself to blame if she drew unwanted attention.

She did not know where to go, but that was of second importance. First of all, she needed to keep moving.

But somewhere in a private place
She packs her bags for outer space

Outer space was large. It should be large enough to hide one more woman who wanted to forget her past.

The tape kept repeating endlessly, and in her mind she'd already gone twice about any possible story she could tell a ship's captain why she needed to leave immediately.

She wished the truck weren't going so slowly.

She's taking her time making up the reasons
To justify all the hurt inside

She's angry. Being hurt kills you. Being angry, you can hurt those who hurt you. She doesn't yet know who, but someone will pay.

Despite the cold fury inside her, she knows that she was lucky. If Stingray had betrayed her at an earlier time, she might not have been able to make it.

Soon after they fled from Wolf Den Base, she started being sick. Stomach cramps, dizzy spells and migraines made her an unreliable fighter, and she had to depend on Stingray to keep both of them alive. He looked after her, but he also got into fights when all she wanted to do was literally lie low. It took almost six months for the medical troubles to subside. Maybe she could blame it all on X-factor: the deaths, her headaches, the loss of her relationship with Ray and what Supertroopers had become.

She'd gained more practical smuggling experience than she had ever wanted, and that wasn't even the worst. Throughout the years at Wolf Den, she had fought to protect life, but she had been trained to kill, and practice had caught up with her.

During one of their errands for local crime lords on Mars, she and Stingray ran into Killbane. Before their argument who could keep the chemicals they were supposed to steal from a factory for explosives could escalate, they were attacked by two platoons of the Space Navy. She never found out what had given them away.

Killbane sliced their opponents like a scissor cuts paper. He was the perfect killing machine he had been groomed to be.

Fire erased all traces of the massacre. It didn't erase her memories. It was she who'd blinded the soldiers even if she didn't fire a single shot.

When Stingray took the job with Laramie, she thought it was a peace offer. It took her two weeks to figure out that threatening innocent farmers was a lot worse than deceiving customs officials and pulling flight acrobatics. She tried to convince Ray to leave, yet for the first time he refused to listen. She'd already lost so many people; she wasn't ready to let go of anyone she cared for.

She guessed the problem of letting go had taken care of itself. She was alone again.

Guess she knows from the smiles and the look in their eyes
Everyone's got a theory about the bitter one

She had to construct a new disguise. She didn't want to dig out her old contacts from smuggling, but she needed time to prepare before she did – whatever she wanted to do. Looking for the others was as good an option as any. There were 17 of them left, as difficult to find as needles in a haystack without a magnet.

If she could join with a freighter's crew, that would give her time to gather intel on the newest power constellations in the world of crime and get the necessary equipment for herself. She should buy at least one good blaster.

The story of a woman left by her husband in dire need of employment would work fine. She wouldn't tell any details. No one needed to know how she felt inside

They're saying
Mama never loved her much

As much as she hated Walsh, Negata, Sawyer, the Senate's gene engineering committee and anyone else ever involved with Wolf Den, she knew there were people worse off than herself in the galaxy. At least she knew how to fight. They had given her everything she needed to survive.

She had nurses from Thailand – or was it the Philippines – who would take care of her until all the foundations for a stable personality had been laid. She was five when she saw the last of the women who were the closest she ever had to a mother.

Survival wasn't life, but it was everything she could cling to right now.

And daddy never keeps in touch

Sawyer optimized her genetic activators; Negata oversaw her progress in light manipulation; Walsh drilled her on battle strategies.

They fed her, clothed her, made her into a weapon, tried to dispose of her when she became too dangerous to control.

That's why she shies away from human affection

Stingray used to be different. He seemed to care. Used to.

She was better off without him. She hated him for all the broken promises.

She jumped off the truck as it slowed down to climb a steep precipice. She was afraid she might maim the driver with his broken record otherwise.

But somewhere in a private place
She packs her bags for outer space

In hindsight, that might not have been a smart move because it meant she had to walk all the way to the next village. She worked out her frustration on the dusty road. It wasn't paved, and each angry step raised clouds of dust.

By nightfall she reached Delhi village. It was a mining settlement like almost any settlement in the area. She decided to pay for accommodation and visit the only local bar to find transport. If she walked, it would be five days until she reached Belleville, and that was time she didn't have. One of the foremen tried to offer her a job in the mines, but she couldn't afford to stay on the planet. She told him her husband had left her, and she needed to return to her family on Mars. Her false tears must have been convincing because he left her alone. A while later, he came back with a seedy space cowboy with an unruly gray beard and a gray white checkered shirt.

She prepared to fend them off with bitter remarks, but the space cowboy surprised her when he asked her matter-of-factly:

"Do you happen to know anything about accounting?"

"It's been some years since I've done any, but I can still tell assets from liabilities."

He'd be astonished what else she had learned at Wolf Den.

He nodded, content. "I'm transporting ore from here to Mars, and my accountant managed to get shot in a bar fight."

Probably by one of the bandits she had failed to catch in her brief time as a sheriff in Rani Town. It didn't matter now.

"I need someone who can both handle numbers and a fork lift. If you can also cook, that would be a bonus."

"I can do all those things. When do you leave?" It was a risk. A risk she had to take.

"Tomorrow morning at 8 am. You can sleep on the ship. Payment is at the end of the month if you stay that long."

And that was how she got into accounting. It wasn't the first strange turn in her life.

The crew besides her consisted of three human men: the captain, his first mate and pilot, and a mechanic. She kept a distance from all of them while she entered numbers into spreadsheets, heated freeze dried food and scrubbed the floors clean. She needed to exercise but didn't want to risk being seen as a fighter, thus she pretended to practice ballet. She perused interstellar newspapers and pretended it was for her job. She loaded and unloaded fertilizers, ore, grain and clothing and hoped not to run into anyone who would recognize her.

But somewhere in a private place
She packs her bags for outer space

The ship was slow, and the silence out in the black stretched endlessly. None of the small mining stations or agrarian settlements they landed on was an alternative to staying on the ship.

When they docked on Mars after six weeks, she weighed her options. She had the money for decent clothing and a stun gun, but nothing more. Smuggling would create more of a profit, but she hated the job. Doing business on her own would be risky. Joining a gang held its own dangers. She tried to decide, but she felt numb.

The first night of their stay, Captain Mimery invited his crew to a fun evening at a karaoke bar, and the invitation was an order. Mechanic Siyatshu drank too much alcohol and stumbled onto the stage to shout out an old love song.

She'd already hated the lyrics the first time she'd heard them, and the song wasn't any better the second time.

And now she's waiting for the right kind of pilot
To come (and she'll say to him)
She's saying
I would fly to the moon and back
If you'll be if you'll be my baby
Got a ticket for a world where we don't belong
So would you be my baby


She wanted to leave, but captain Mimery picked this moment to ask her if she wanted to sign on with his crew permanently.

She can't remember a time
When she felt needed

He told her he had been impressed by her efficient work.

She wondered if love was just need in disguise.

If love was red then she was color-blind

He told her that her no nonsense style went well with their customers.

She knew the molecules, the pheromones, but she didn't believe love existed

All her friends they've been tried for treason
And crimes that were never defined

He said he was glad she didn't try to falsify the accounts.

She fought to stay alive, but the cold of the cryocrypt was catching up with her.

She's saying

Love is like a barren place

And reaching out for human faith is

Is like a journey I just don't have a map for

He asked if everything was all right and put a hand on her arm in a move that was meant to be reassuring.

She forced herself not to slap his hand away. She rose calmly. " Please excuse me. I need some fresh air."

So baby gonna take a dive and push the shift to overdrive
Send a signal that she's hanging all her hopes on the stars

She suddenly realized she needed to leave. They weren't her people, and there was no use pretending.

(What a pleasant dream) just saying
Love we're flying to the moon and back
If you'll be if you'll be my baby
Got a ticket for a world where we don't belong
So would you be my baby
(Hold on Hold on)

She had to find the others. It was so clear, but the realization still came as a shock.

The night air was pleasantly warm as she stepped out into the alley behind the Happy Frog Bar, and she relaxed slightly.

She looked up at the gray sky, but no stars were visible. They held too many broken dreams anyway. She leaned against a container for construction rubble as she tried to come up with a plan.

"Are you okay, miss?"

She spun around and immediately shifted into a defensive position. An athletic young man was watching her carefully. Concern showed in his blue eyes.

"Did someone molest you?" He couldn't be older than twenty. With his neat clothes and short cropped brown hair, he looked out of place in this shabby part of Mars City.

"I'm fine," she replied tersely.

He showed no inclination to leave her alone.

"Should I walk you home?"

He came a step closer, and she scrutinized him. He seemed physically fit, probably trained in unarmed combat, but he didn't seem to carry a weapon. Someone from the Mars police force wouldn't hold himself so care free in a quarter where legal and illegal traders mingled.

"Are you a galaxy ranger cadet?" she asked on instinct.

He drew himself up just a little. "I'm in the Space Navy."

One of those she should have commanded, protected.

She inhaled sharply. Mars wasn't a good place for her memory wise. The events were almost three years past now, yet she remembered them vividly.

Suddenly being trapped. Escaping only with Killbane's help, stepping over dead bodies and not being able to wash the blood out of her clothes.

"When did you enlist?"

"Last year. Why?"

She shook her head. "This isn't a good place for you."

He was too young to have been part of the navy back then. Why did she care anyway? She wasn't a soldier anymore.

She left him standing in the alley, left him alone with his confusion.

She walked crisply through narrow, rubble strewn streets. She knew in which part of the city the outlaws gathered.

It was time for her to make her way to Tortuna.