Well this is it folks! A big huge thank you for all of you who stuck with me through all this… your words were inspiring… I appreciate it more then I can say…HarperGirl Beta read the entire thing for me so if you see her give her a hug…56pages!!!

Thank you guys I mean it. Well here it is… hope you like it…

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Back to the past

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Beka woke with a pounding headache. She tried to move, but her upper body was stiff and seemed to be wrapped in heavy bandages.

"What the hell is going on?" she groaned, slowly raising her hand to protect her eyes from the harsh light.

"Thank the divine you're awake."

"Rev? Is that you?"

"Calm yourself. It is only I." She felt his furry hand clasp her free hand.

"I'm…what happened?"

"Don't you remember?"

Beka tried to shake her head but the pain forced her to reply verbally. "Not really…we were slipstreaming then the Maru was attacked." Sudden realization struck her. "Oh gawd! Something fell on Harper! Where's Harper?"

"Beka, listen to me," Rev forced his panicked captain to focus on him. "He's missing…We were attacked about a month ago. Don't you remember anything since then?" He couldn't hide his concern.

"A month! No, everything is a blur…what happened? Where are we?"

"We were attacked, as you seem to remember, and then boarded by what looked like High Guard soldiers, which I find very confusing. I haven't even heard of them in a long time. In fact, I didn't think they existed anymore. Well, when they boarded there were a lot of explosions, and I was completely cut off from you and Mr. Harper. There was nothing I could do for you except escape and try to watch where they took you so I could free you later. I managed to make it to an escape pod. Unfortunately the pod was hit upon my descent to the planet and crashed. I barley escaped with my life. The Divine was truly watching over me that day. I searched for you for weeks with no sign of you. I finally found where they might be you. It was a facility of some sort. I prayed that you were alive. I never saw you but I watched them bring in the Eureka Maru and deduced that you would be there as well. I watched and I waited."

He paused, worried about her health, but Beka encouraged him to continue. "Then there was this strange little man with a pointing nose and long stringy hair—a Nightsider, I believe. He had three large men with him and kept surveying the Maru like he was looking to buy it. Then those men came and did some repairs. I was worried that they might be trying to take it away and I still wasn't sure where you were so… I built something to try to dissuade them…just as a deterrent, of course…"

She caught on. "You built a bomb!" Beka was shocked. The Wayist priest was always lecturing on the ills of weaponry.

"A small one, and I wasn't planning to ignite it near anyone. I just wanted to use it as… a diversion."

Beka smiled weakly. "Harper would be proud."

Rev Bem gave a small bow and continued his story. "I was just setting the bomb in place when I saw them loading the Maru with supplies… and then…" Rev frowned. "I am not proud of what I did next."

Beka sat up slightly in her bed, intent on his words.

"I heard ships landing…many ships landed through out the day but I knew these ones were different right away. They weren't landing on the space dock but in the field just out side of town. I recognized the sound of the ships and later the smells and the voices."

"Magog?" whispered Beka.

Rev nodded, his voice cracking as he remembered the attack. "I panicked. I used the bomb, not to help but to destroy, and I killed my own kind…I killed…" His voice died off for a second, the pain of the memory evident on his face. "In the end it didn't help anyway. The Magog invaded the town, maiming and destroying. I was so distracted by their fervor, I…I wanted to join them. I nearly forgot you. "

Beka reached out and touched his furry arm in an attempt to comfort him. "But you didn't."

He drew a little strength from that. "No, I didn't, but my distraction nearly cost you your life… when I found you were wounded—nearly dead."

"How did you get us off the planet?" She was growing tired but she needed to know.

"We can talk again later…"

"No, Rev…tell me please… I'll sleep better once I know the whole story."

"I don't know if I can give you that, but I'll give you what I can." He paused to sit on the edge of her bed. "You were hurt but because of who I am I—we were left alone and I managed to get you aboard the ship. There I encountered some men they said that they worked for a Nightsider named Gerentex and that He had bought the Eureka Maru and its captain from a group of freedom fighters called 'Argosy Avenged.'

"I've never heard of them."

"Neither have I, but they must have something to do with the old Commonwealth because it would explain the uniforms I saw when we were first attacked."

"Why they hell would this 'Argosy Avenged' attack us?"

"We were looking for Tarn-Vedra."

"But how would they know?"

"What about the Nietzscheans that you stole the ship from? Harper was with them when they were making plans to find Tarn-Vedra themselves… they would know that he would eventually find the map."

"Oh gawd, that never even occurred to me!"

"I think they may have sold information to the 'Argosy Avenged.' They must have known we were coming."

"I don't think so…"

"Why?" Rev was surprised.

"Well… I don't remember much and it sure didn't feel like a month had passed…" She paused her, forehead wrinkling as she strained to remember. "I remember getting injections, and people were talking and I remember words… someone said the 'Nietzscheans were killed for knowing too much.' It didn't make sense at the time. Like I said, it was all kind of blurry."

"These 'High Guard' certainly don't act like the legend they have inspired."

"Desperate times lead to desperate measures."

Rev gave a small bow in agreement.

"Rev…we need to find Harper. I promised I wouldn't leave him."

"Beka, Magog raids are sudden, random, and violent. If he made it down to the planet at all I doubt he survived. I never saw any evidence of him even being on the planet. If we searched for him where would we start? We cannot return to the planet—it is in ruins! The people that have been infected will be…"

He couldn't finish it, but Beka new what he meant. The people that had survived and been infested would be dead soon and a new wave of Magog would be born. "And if there are survivors they may still be looking for us… Rev, what should we do?"

"When you two were separated before, where did you meet?"

"El Dorado drift."

"Then that's where we'll go and wait. I do need to tell you one more thing that I have so far neglected to tell you."

Beka looked at him, concerned.

"I made a deal for a freedom with this Nightsider named Gerentex."

"What?! What kind of deal?"

"They bought the ship for a salvage run but since I convinced them—quite forcefully—that they had no right or claim to this ship, they said that we owed them the money back. So I agreed that after we had fully recovered from our ordeal that would we would help them in way of retribution."

Beka groaned. "Rev, what did you promise?"

"Really, it's nothing. They found this ship called the Andromeda and they want us to help with the salvage."

Beka sighed and a small smile flittered across her face. "Remind me to never let a Magog handle negotiations."

Rev Bem chuckled and left her to sleep.

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Present time on the observation deck of the Andromeda

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The group had returned from a successful dinner and Dylan was happy to report that yet another world had signed the Commonwealth charter. He was also happy to see his engineer up and about as both Beka and Harper met them upon their return.

Beka had requested they all meet on the observation deck. They had something to tell him. Dylan looked puzzled but agreed and once everyone gathered she and Harper recounted their story.

Harper still had trouble with the details, so Beka helped him where she could. She sat by his side and squeezed his arm with encouragement whenever he faltered. When it was her turn she spoke slowly and deliberately, trying to leave nothing out, though her memories were sketchy.

The group sat in shock when the two had finished talking and Beka glanced around the room. Tyr looked surprised and little impressed. Trance looked like she had just finished reading a flexi soap opera and was hungry for more. Rommie couldn't keep her eyes off Harper, who continued to stare stoically at the floor, like at any moment he'd burst into tears.

Dylan's face wore a frown, not of anger but one that showed that he was lost in thought. The unasked question of 'what now?' hung silently in the air.

"I have a couple of questions." As everyone gave him their attention he looked towards Beka and Harper. "How did you two get back together?"

"Ummm…well," Harper started, "it took me a while, but I managed to, er, appropriate one of the ships that was no longer being used in the shipyard. I flew to El Dorado drift. I was hoping to find some work, maybe move on with my life the best I could and I literally bumped into Beka one day in the market. She was looking for crew. Well, first she jumped around and screamed a lot."

"I was happy you were alive, you goof!"

"She said she didn't remember much and was worried about me," Harper's voice cracked a little but Beka squeezed his arm and he continued. "I was glad she didn't remember me leaving her so I pretended it didn't happen. I found out later the Rev had saved her. It was then I started to trust him. I was so grateful…the purple one being there was an unexpected bonus."

Beka smiled. "I had forgotten. Trance found out I was looking for crew, and she joined us before we found you."

Trance also smiled, just happy to be a part of the story.

"What happened to the money during all this?" asked Dylan. He wasn't about to let any detail go unexplained.

"Harper hid it really well."

"Yeah, those Argosy guys ripped the ship apart and they never found it." There was pride in Harper's voice. "I took the stuffing out of my pillow and put the thrones inside… I guess it was just a little too obvious for them."

Tyr snorted and hid a smile behind his hand.

"Do you and Beka still know the route that leads to Tarn-Vedra?" asked Dylan.

"No, it was the weirdest thing," answered Beka. "A couple of weeks after there was all these news broadcasts. It seems the 'Argosy Avengers' that survived somehow managed to acquire some Nova Bombs. They blew up half their system, including all known slipstream routes that led back to that planet."

"What happened to the map?"

Harper shrugged. "They must have taken it. I never saw it again and Rev said it wasn't on the Maru when he reclaimed it."

Dylan shook his head. "That's quite a story. And what are your plans now Mr. Harper?"

"I don't know," mumbled Harper. "I always thought that some day I might give the money back to the people we got it from…I know it could never fix what happened but I don't know what else to do."

"It's a start," agreed Dylan

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Three weeks later

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Harper and Beka stood on the lawn out side of where the bank once stood. It had been torn down and a memorial had been built for all that had died there.

Harper looked sadly at the names that were listed on a large stone wall.

Dylan wasn't happy with all that had happened, but in the end he spoke with them alone. He told them about how hard it had been for him to carry on after he woke up knowing that everyone and everything he had ever loved was dead. But, for the good or bad, he had to leave it behind; the past was the past and he had to live for himself and for the people that were around him today. He said he had gotten to know them over the last few years, and that he knew who they were now. Who they were then wasn't important anymore. Beka and Harper had been "forged by fire," he said, and it had made them strong. He was proud to have them on his crew.

So after Beka and Harper returned the money anonymously and as Dylan talked with the planets governor about what really happened and thus clearing Harper's name, the Maru's captain and her engineer tried to say good-bye to their past.

Trance had sent some flowers along and Beka laid them on the ground beside the wall.

"Well, sport?" she asked as she stepped to Harper's side. "Have you done what you needed to?"

"I guess." He shrugged. "It's...just… I'm not sure it's enough…giving the money back, I mean… I wish I could offer more."

"You didn't kill those people, Seamus."

"I know."

"Remember them, and live your life the best you can…it's all you can do."

"You know what I remember most?"

Beka glanced at him and he met her eyes.

"I remember you kept your promise you never left me. I'm not alone any more. My pipedream came true."

Beka smiled and pulled him in to a rough hug.

After a moment they pulled apart and started to walk back towards the main part of the city.

"Hungry?" asked Harper.

"Famished."

"Great! I'm buying." Harper reached into his pocket and pulled out a brightly coloured credit chip.

Beka was shocked. "Harper, that isn't what I think it is!"

"Beka, I just gave away approximately two million thrones! We should at least get a free meal!"

Beka laughed. "Seamus Harper, you're incorrigible."

"And starving. Let's go."

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The end