Chapter 26

Slowly Alex came to. Light was coming from somewhere, piercing through her eyelids like tiny spears and a steady beep resounded around her. She wanted it to stop, she wanted to go back to sleep but the light and the beeping refused to desist. Vaguely she noted she was in a bed of some sort, she must be in the medical bay finally incapacitated, just as Lucas had been. Lucas! She thought and sat bolt upright, swatting away the wires that impeded her. Looking around frantically she realized she was not in the medical bay; this was a hospital ward. SeaQuest had made port sometime since she had collapsed and she had been taken to a hospital. She didn't care.

The only thing on her mind was finding Lucas and discovering if he was alright. Alex began ripping the wires off and hands tried to stop her, female hands. Her eyes followed up the arms attached to those hands to see the face of their owner. Lonnie gazed back at her, a worried knot furrowing her brows. Her skin had regrown and she looked as healthy as she ever had, the skin baby soft and smooth, completely flawless. The cure had worked better than any of them could have hoped for, total reversal of the damage the stem cells had caused. Alex's mind noted it but was so set on finding Lucas it didn't seem to register that the last time she had seen Lieutenant Henderson she had been little more than a breathing cadaver kept alive by synthetic skin against all odds. It didn't occur to her to wonder why Lonnie would have chosen to wait by her bedside.

"Whoa, hold on. It's okay, Alex. Calm down, you're fine," Lonnie said trying to sooth her. Alex gripped her arms and peered into her face searching for some clue to Lucas's condition.

"Where's Lucas?" she demanded desperate. Lonnie smiled and began to respond but Alex had resumed tearing the wires from her body, including the IV and heart monitor, which caused the vital sign system to begin wailing a flat line alarm. It could no longer detect her heartbeat or brain function, had just declared a code one, and was intent on blaring it to anyone who could hear. Alex ignored it, scrambling off the bed, dodging Lonnie's attempts to halt her and explain. She was not yet coherent enough to realize that Lonnie could simply have told her if Lucas was alright or not. She was too firmly in the grip of panic to reason, still trapped in the last emotional upheaval she had experienced before collapsing onboard seaQuest.

"Alex, he's…" Lonnie tried to tell her but she was already out the door and into the hallway. Nurses and medics raced toward her room, believing they had a downed patient. She glanced around looking for someone to demand information of. Lonnie followed trying to get her to be rational. Now the medical staff was in a tizzy trying to figure out what was going on. The supposedly code one victim was bolting across a hallway in a hospital gown with an expression of fierce determination on her face with her minder trying to dissuade her mad journey.

Alex leaned over the nurse's station counter and grabbed the first person she saw, hauling the poor startled woman forward by her shirt collar. Alex was a remarkable sight, her legs dangling off the floor she was so far over the counter, her hand wrapped in the nurse's shirt like a mental patient. Lonnie tried to pry her off as the medical staff closed in on them afraid they would send her straight from the recovery rooms to the mental ward for her sudden snap in sanity.

"Lucas Wolenczak, Where is he? What room?" Alex demanded. The nurse shook her head terrified of the diminutive blonde ball of frenzy that had her in a very difficult position.

"I'm sorry miss. We don't have a Lucas Wolenczak in admittance," she squawked. Alex went white, her worst fears surfacing. He was dead. If she had been admitted and he hadn't he must have died on the way here. She couldn't move, she couldn't breathe. Her hand remained in a death grip on the woman's shirt, latched there like a steel claw. She didn't hear pounding footsteps coming through the babbling crowd of doctors and nurses too afraid to intervene lest she strangle the nurse in her grip.

"What's going on?" a voice said.

"Is everything alright?" another asked.

Alex let go of the nurse and slid off the counter in an ungraceful tangle, turning to face the direction of the voices. Lucas and Captain Bridger had just forced their way through the press of personnel and had looks of deep worry on their faces, both assuming the worst, the vital monitor still wailing a code one. No one had bothered to shut off the machine's alarm in the chaos. They carried cups of coffee and snack bags in hand, obviously on their way back from a food run. It took a moment for any of the three to realize what was going on. Then Alex flung herself at Lucas, nearly toppling him in a wildly relieved embrace. He stumbled trying to keep from crashing to the ground, dropping the coffee and wrap his arms around her at the same time. Lonnie saved him, deftly plucking the cup from his hand before someone ended up scalded with an amused smile. Nathan shared it, looking on with his arms crossed over his chest, all trace of his paralysis gone, his normal fluid movement once again restored to him.

"I thought I'd lost you," Alex breathed, her head buried in the hollow of Lucas's neck. He held on tightly, feeling the same need for succor in their enfolding hold on each other she did. It had been three days since they docked in Pearl Harbor, three days since they had brought Alex to the nearest hospital unconscious and bordering on an embolism that could kill her, none of them sure if the cure would work soon enough to stop it.

"I'm here. I'm fine," he consoled her, stroking her hair and kissing the top of her head. They stayed that way for a long moment savoring the feeling of having the other safe and whole in their arms. The medical staff slowly filtered away seeing that the crisis had passed. Only one or two stayed nearby in case something more transpired, careful to keep their attention elsewhere as much as possible seeing two lovers reunited against all odds in the midst of the crisis the world faced.

Their tender moment was broken by the rumble of more running footsteps, a small cavalcade of them pounding up the opposite end of the hallway and stopping suddenly, already too late for the upset Alex's overwrought escapade had caused. All of the bridge crew stood there looking on with varying degrees of concern, confusion and relief on their faces. None of them able to decide which they should be, all of them looking as hearty as they ever had, not a mark on them from the horrific ailments they had suffered. Lucas and Alex broke apart, dropping an arm around the other's waist, unwilling to disengage completely, both of them still too emotionally tense to let go of that tenuous and invisible thread of support it offered them.

"Hey, Rip Van Winkle is awake. We thought you might sleep for the next twenty years, lazy bones," Brody joked smiling wide as he stepped forward and clapped her affectionately on the shoulder. His overture triggered a similar out pouring from the rest of them, Captain Bridger and Lonnie joining in, each coming forward in turn to greet the last member of their crew to come out of the darkness the stem cell holocaust had dragged them into.

Alex stood there in something close to a daze, unable to immediately grasp that all of them had come out relatively unscathed in the end; incapable of understanding why they were so exuberant in their welcome. It was as if they had missed her, even worried about her and she still could not accept that they wanted her around; saw her as more than a simple coworker despite Nathan's advice to the contrary.

When all of them had greeted her, some pulling her into a quick hug or stealing a kiss on the cheek, she finally seemed to focus enough to speak.

"But why are you all here? You can't all have been waiting for me to wake up," she said in awe of the idea. Why would any of them, save Lucas, even entertain the idea? It was Tony who gave her, her answer, such as it was, in typical Piccolo fashion.

"Why not? We couldn't leave you to face the abomination of hospital food alone. Have you seen that stuff? It looks like the leftovers in the back of my fridge!"

All of them favored him with a look of disgust.

"What?" he asked, oblivious to the mental image he had just subjected them all to.

#**#

It was another twenty-four hours before Alex was released from the hospital with a clean bill of health. The doctors had insisted upon putting her through as many tests as they could think of to prove there was no longer anything wrong with her. Not one of them showed anything. It was if she had never been exposed to the stem cells at all. In that time she learned a great deal about what had transpired since her collapse onboard seaQuest.

While distribution of the cure had been an unqualified success, on a scale so large it made the history books, more than twenty thousand people died from exposure to the stem cells before it could save them. On a worldwide scale, twenty thousand wasn't even a drop in the bucket but to a single person who had fought to keep even one from dying of it, it cut deep. On seaQuest alone they had lost thirty four crew members despite all they could do to save them. The losses struck home with Alex. She felt responsible somehow, at fault for the deaths caused by this entire tragedy. It was irrational but there it was.

A further thorn in her side, the scientific community had tacked a name on the whole thing as soon as they could come up with one. Scientifically it was now called paragenocytolysis, to everyone else it was Northman-Ward Disease or, worse still, Ward's Scourge. Alex had made her displeasure at having her name associated with the disease known, loudly. General McGath had taken perverse pleasure in denying her request that her name be removed from the moniker under the auspice that new diseases were commonly named for those who discovered them. Retribution for her power play on seaQuest no doubt.

The news media had coined the name Ward's Scourge and had all but forgotten Alex's existence in favor of a pity angled take on Dr. Ward's tragic slide into darkness. In a way Alex was just as happy they had found someone else to focus on, though the media's sad sap story of how Dr. Ward had been trying to save humanity only to unleash a plague on it by accident, complete with pitiful anecdotes to bolster it, only firmly entrenched her dislike for what reporting had become. Sam had been right, they had found someone else to harass. Dr. Ward was being hounded by reporters in record numbers, all of them unable to obtain the interviews they so desperately wanted because Ward was in UEO custody. Leaving them to fill in as best they could and as often as not, make up, what they didn't know.

She had seen Ward being escorted in hand and leg cuffs from the hospital as she was being discharged. The cure had returned him to perfect health, just as it had all of his victims lucky enough to get the cure in time. The guards had let him stop and speak with her briefly much to her umbrage. He asked why she had given him the cure, since he was the one who tried and nearly accomplished the dissolution of humanity even if he had the best of intentions. He seemed disappointed she had saved his life, as if dying would have absolved him of his sins or at least kept him from having to face them. She had taken a long time to answer, finally telling him succinctly why she had done it.

"I'm told I should pity you for the tragedy that led you to this. I can't bring myself to do it, you knew what you had done and yet you didn't try to stop it. As a scientist it's my job to see to it that anyone effected by something as horrendous as the monster you created has the chance to survive it, even the one who made it."

She had turned on her heel and stalked away from him but he called after her, saying she could have let him die for what he had done. That it would have been fair play. She answered him one final time without turning. What she said either left him unable to formulate a comeback or wallowing in self-pity, she would never be sure which.

"I'm not like you Dr. Ward. It's not my place to decide who lives and who dies. Maybe, in my own way, I was helping justice along. Rather than die and be relieved of the guilt of your crimes, now you can live with it. For the rest of your life."

Alex sat on the sandy beach adjacent to the UEO base here, her feet buried in the white sand, thinking about all that had happened in the last few weeks, watching the unintended but ethereally beautiful effect the bioluminescent algae had on the ocean. It glowed the same soft blue as the algae, the light sparkling and rippling with every crest of a wave. The effect wouldn't last for more than a few days before the ocean's sea life gorged themselves on the banquet the algae provided but until then it was a radiant testimony to the enduring power of the human spirit, the proverbial rainbow after the flood. No matter how horrible an event humanity faced, somehow, somewhere a tiny spark of joy and hope would be found, however dim that light might be.

Behind her, the seaQuest crew and anyone who had the notion to join them were reveling in that small joy. Enjoying the party UEO had deemed their due after the part they had played in saving the world from destruction – again. It was rather daunting when you thought about how many times in the past it had been nothing but seaQuest between the world and total destruction. Alex wondered if the UEO really understood how valuable the crew behind her really was, even if you couldn't tell by their current antics.

Darwin was busy swimming intricate patterns in the water, diving in and out of the surf, throwing up artful sprays of glowing water drops much to the amusement of onlookers and his obvious delight. The display made all the more vivid in the darkness. The sun had set to the sound of thunderous applause hours ago and now the sea shone brightly against the pale sand.

Dagwood was dancing, very hesitantly, to the pounding music with Lonnie while she encouraged him to follow her lead. Her lead looked something like the funky chicken from decades ago and they couldn't have looked like they were having more fun. Miguel, Tim, Brody and, of all people, Commander Ford were fighting over the microphone near the DJ table, belting out the words to the song as loudly and as badly as they could under the strings of lights strung across the party area. All of them had beers in hand and looked more like frat boys then naval officers, arms slung over each other's shoulders as they sang.

Tony had convinced Dr. Smith to join him in a dance on the hexagonal wooden dance floor hastily assembled earlier in the day. She had her arms draped around his neck doing the jive; her head leaned back in a joyful laugh. Tony's grin was so large Alex wondered if his face might crack. The shenanigans an uncharacteristic and much needed display of the relief they all felt to be alive and whole. The only two she didn't count among the crowd were Nathan and Lucas, both had disappeared off somewhere shortly after the party had begun without a word and Alex, feeling outside the whirlwind of revelry, had chosen to sit away from them and watch from afar.

Ever on the fringes, she just didn't feel like part of the group, an outsider intruding on their private joy. Brody had asked her to dance more than once and she had politely refused saying she didn't feel quite herself yet. He had cordially accepted her excuse with a kiss on the cheek before leaving her to her thoughts. Tim had even come over trying to draw her in, carrying a plate full of chocolate as a lure. She thanked him for the offer but said she needed the quiet. He had gone away reticent, casting her glances that said he didn't believe a word of it.

She was so lost in her thoughts, watching the others enjoy their new lease on life that she didn't notice someone come up beside her until they cleared their throat to get her attention. She craned her neck around to see who it was, to see Captain Bridger standing there in Bermuda shorts, bare feet and a short-sleeved button down, the picture of the Hawaiian weekender.

"Mind if I join you?" he asked smiling, the night breeze ruffling his usually tidy hair. She really would have rather been alone but how could she refuse? She owed him more than he would ever know and he was the Captain after all. With a reluctant sigh, she motioned for him to have a seat, smoothing down the skirt of her floral sundress against the breeze.

He plunked down with little grace, burying his feet in the sand much as she had and sitting casually. He could have folded himself down onto the ground with elegance if he had chosen to. But clumsiness had a disarming effect on the observer and even from a distance he had seen she was troubled. He came to her as a friend now not as an authority figure. She said nothing to him returning her gaze out to the water; he followed her line of vision sitting in silence in the cool air.

"Why are you out here instead of back there having fun?" he asked when he thought the quiet had gone on long enough. Alex traced patterns in the sand beside her, thinking of what to say.

"I needed to think," she explained. Nathan nodded his head knowingly.

"About?" he asked, knowing she needed to talk to someone. She opened up to him then without the reservation she once had. Trusting him to listen and understand.

"Twenty thousand people, so many dead from all this. I should have worked harder or faster or… I don't know I should have done more," she confessed.

"It could have been twenty million. It could have been all of us. You did everything you could. All of you did," he reasoned. He knew the guilt that came with facing down a crisis like this one. The feeling that despite all you had done it hadn't been enough.

"Then why doesn't it feel that way?" Alex responded sadly. Nathan placed a hand on her shoulder in an unconscious fatherly gesture.

"It's not about who you didn't save. It's about who you did. Sometimes you lose a few along the way but you've done more good than you can imagine. Alex, you and Lucas nearly single handedly saved the human race. How many people can say that?" he said. Alex shook her head and he waited for the denial of what they had done to come.

"No, it wasn't just me and Lucas. We were just the last left standing. It took all of us, every member of the crew, to pull it off. It never would have worked without them," she said. So she wasn't going to be self deprecating this time, refusing to acknowledge her own worth in all this. That gave him hope that she really was beginning to accept her place in the scheme of things, to embrace that she wasn't a liability to every person she crossed paths with.

"I can agree with that," he said squeezing her shoulder before he let go and garnering a wan smile from her in the process. Then he added, "The pain will fade in time. It will never go away but it will get easier."

"I hope so," Alex said tracing an outline of a dolphin in the sand. Nathan leaned over and added a name above it. 'Darwin'. She laughed softly at his impromptu addition. Again, they sat in quiet contemplation for a while before she spoke again. Now that she was willing to talk Nathan let her do so in her own time.

"What do you think will happen to Dr. Ward?" she asked her expression one of curiosity and melancholy fear. Nathan sighed, now there was something he could never give her a satisfactory answer to.

"He's been declared mentally incompetent. Most likely, he will be declared unfit to stand trial and will spend the rest of his life in a prison for the mentally insane. The doctors really don't think he understands the magnitude of what he did. He can't seem to get past the idea of what he was trying to accomplish to see what he caused instead," he said. Alex shook her head gently.

"I think he knows exactly what he did. I think he's too sickened by it to face it. I talked to him before they took him away. He seemed upset he lived through it. I think he would rather have died than face the consequences of what he's done," she said disgusted that he would probably never face real justice for his crimes.

"Maybe, but a prison for the mentally insane is not a pleasant place. He'll have a very long time to think about it and no way to escape it. The justice system doesn't always work the way we want it to but it does work. Most of the time," Nathan said, offering what little consolation he could. Alex sighed and dropped her chin to her drawn up knees. He was right. There was nothing more he or she could do about it. Now it was in the UEO's hands and if they deemed him unfit to stand trial whatever punishment they did see fit to give him would have to be enough.

"I still have to contact Sam's family," she said idly, a mournful frown turning her lips. Nathan looked at her apprehensively before he spoke.

"I already did," he confessed. Her head snapped up and she glared at him in anger.

"I told you I wanted to do it!" she snapped and Nathan held his hands up defensively.

"Hold on now. You've been through enough Alex, no one can do it all by themselves. Do you really think Sam would have wanted you to torture yourself? For that matter do you think she would have wanted you to sit out here all alone when there's a party going on?" he asked. Alex thought about what he said for a moment before she chuckled and smiled a wide genuine smile.

"She'd probably have been the first one to haul me kicking and screaming onto the dance floor," she admitted, remembering Sam's carefree nature.

"Then don't you think it would be a better tribute to her memory to do what she would have wanted instead of sitting here drowning yourself in guilt and grief?" he asked. She inclined her head in grudging agreement.

"Why did you do it?" she asked. Unsure why he had deliberately done what she had said she wished to. It still hadn't sunk in. Nathan sighed in a mildly bothered manner at her hardheaded refusal to accept what was right in front of her.

"Because I'm your friend. Alex, you've helped pick up the pieces for the entire world, let someone else pick up the pieces for you for a change. Remember what I said, it's their choice if they want to do it. I'd even go so far as to say the crew sees you as something of a family member," he said. She started to protest but he held up a finger to silence her. She closed her mouth in slight annoyance but she didn't exhibit the rabid repudiation she had before.

Nathan took something out of his pocket and quickly dropped it around her neck before she could ask what it was. "And there's the proof. The first piece of Alexandria Northman put back where it belongs," he said jovially as the object tinkled gently. Alex put her hand to her throat tilting her head so she could see what it was he had put around her neck. Cool metal met her fingers. Dog tags, engraved with her name, her station noted as 'Chief Biomedical Engineer", the UEO insignia, her UEO serial number and the designation of her assignment 'seaQuest DSV 4600 II'.

"Lucas told you I wanted to join the crew? How did you get these so fast?" she asked turning the tags around to catch the moonlight. A thrill went through her and somewhere it felt like a puzzle piece had fallen into place.

"He told me you were finally ready to. I've had those waiting for you since you left seaQuest the first time," he said and waited for what that meant to sink in. She furrowed her brow at him in confusion.

"How did you know I would come back?" she asked. Nathan gave her a lopsided grin.

"You've been a part of this crew for longer than you realize. Did you really think everyone kept in touch with you because they were bored? Did you think the way they treat you is some charade of polite manners? This isn't just a crew Alex, it's a family. And if you weren't a part of it before you certainly are now," he said. Alex sniffled and Nathan thought for a moment what he had said upset her in some way. But the tears were accompanied by a fierce smile as another puzzle piece joined the first. Nathan reached over and wiped them away, admonishing her lightheartedly.

"None of that, the night's not over yet," he said. Alex looked bemused again completely at a loss. What was that supposed to mean?

"Dance with me Ms. Northman," added another voice behind them as a slow number began to play. Both of them looked up to find Commander Ford standing there his hand out stretched in as courtly a manner as he could muster.

"Ah, here's piece number two. Right on time," Nathan observed only making Alex even more befuddled. What was he talking about?

"I don't dance very well Commander. I don't think I'd be a very good choice," Alex insisted. Jonathan smiled impishly.

"It wasn't a request crewman," he said leaning over to take her hand and pull her to her feet. She caught brief sight of the crowd again; Lucas was still nowhere to be found.

"I beg your pardon?" Alex babbled. He couldn't force her to dance with him! She wasn't angry, she was completely bewildered by the sudden change in behavior. She looked to Captain Bridger for some sort of assistance and was met by as impish a grin from him as she was from the Commander.

"I'm afraid you'll have to Alex, Captain's and Commander's orders. You are here by commanded to go out there and have fun. Your first order of business is to dance, so get to it," Nathan piped with as close to an authoritative voice as he could. He failed miserably, he was enjoying teasing Alex too much to be convincing.

"But!" Alex protested. Jonathan linked his arm over hers and led her away, Nathan calling back to them as she was pulled along.

"Welcome to the family Alex!" he called, his grin bigger than ever.

"I'm being shanghaied!" Alex complained good-naturedly. Commander Ford swung her into position for a waltz and pulled her across the dance floor. Alex swept along with him, letting him lead her clumsy feet deftly.

"I think you'd be right. Welcome to seaQuest," he joked turning her gracefully across the floor. The song changed again, another slow number mid way through the first.

"Piece number three," he said to Alex's irritation and twirled her out with precise precision, letting go of her hand just as she reached the end of his arm. She came to a stop with someone at her feet.

Her ability to breathe came to a screeching halt. The person at her feet was Lucas, dressed in a burgundy blazer, a black shirt beneath it over dusky cords; his usually haphazard hair neatly gelled into place, on one knee, with a tiny black velvet box in his hand.

The same little square he'd kept stashed in his pocket, a closely guarded secret he had been agonizing over for weeks before any of this had even begun. That he had tried to use more than once and failed. This time he would not be thwarted. It was now or never. Suddenly he was incredibly nervous. What if she said no? He swallowed hard and tried not to have his nerve fail looking at the completely astonished look on Alex's face.

Alex looked around at the crowd. They had all moved back to the edge of the dance floor, joined by Captain Bridger, leaving her and Lucas in the middle, alone, the center of attention. All of them waiting with bated breath. She felt her scalp prickle with excitement, unable to believe what she was seeing.

Lucas fumbled the box open and took a deep breath before speaking. He had rehearsed this so many times today he should have been able to repeat it in his sleep but he found himself stumbling over them in spite of all the practice. He had all these poetic words he wanted to say and found that every one of them had fled. He couldn't remember any of them. He did the only thing he could he improvised.

"Alex, I tried to ask you this twice before and couldn't. I love you. Will you marry me?" he said, managing to ask without stuttering to his amazement.

Alex's eyes had gone as round as silver dollars, frozen in place. She just stood there in complete surprise. Lucas came very close to panicking. She wasn't answering. She was going to say no! Finally words came out, just not the ones he was expecting either way.

"You all planned this?" she squeaked, what they had been setting her up for dawning on her. There were quiet snickers from all around.

"We're a highly trained military and scientific team. Of course we did!" Brody called.

"Are you going to answer him or what doll? He's down there shaking like a dry limb in a stiff breeze," Tony put in to the laughter of everyone.

"I, well, I," Alex stuttered her eyes returning to Lucas, still knelling at her feet. He was indeed shaking in apprehension. Alex pulled in a deep breath to steady herself and answered.

"Yes."

Lucas nearly fainted with relief barely keeping it together enough to slip the ring on her finger. A single, channel set diamond in a white gold band. It slid onto her hand with ease, settling at the base of her finger as if it had always been there. Then he was on his feet and did the only thing he thought you were supposed to if the girl said yes. He slipped both hands into her hair and looked deeply into her eyes, an elated smile on his lips before he pulled her into the most passionate kiss he'd ever had. She returned the favor, her arms going around his neck and in a fit of whimsy he slipped his arms down around her waist and spun her in a circle, her feet completely off the floor, still locked in a kiss.

The whole crew cheered so loud they both thought people in New Cape Quest could have heard it, applauding in case it wasn't loud enough. Even Darwin was flipping out of the water with excited clicks. When they broke apart, breathless and unable to take their eyes off their affianced, the whistles and congratulations died off. Wendy stepped forward with a camera and began herding everyone into place.

"Photo op!" declared Miguel posing. Lucas and Alex were ensconced right in the middle, Lucas just behind Alex with his arms around her midsection, both smiling so brightly they out shone the brilliance of the sea behind them. Darwin swam back and forth within frame shot waiting to jump at just the right moment. There was pushing and jostling as everyone got into place. Once they were all settled Wendy handed the camera off to the DJ and got into position under Nathan's arm.

"Hey, does this mean I get my own room?" asked Tony eagerly. Everyone groaned at him. Dagwood out did him. Just as the DJ yelled "Smile!" He asked, "Does this mean Lucas and Alex will have little Lucases and Alexs?"

Lucas and Alex both look mortified and turned red, everyone else died laughing just as Darwin sprung from the water and the camera clicked. It would definitely be a picture to remember.

"Welcome home Alex," Lucas laughed.

"Home," Alex whispered with longing, leaning back into his arms.

"Piece number four," he whispered into her ear and she laughed with him, a carefree sound that carried out onto the waves, freer than she had been in years.

She knew without a doubt that she was indeed home. This had been what she was missing. Not some lost piece of herself but the pieces she had yet to find. A home, a family, a place she belonged. Captain Bridger had been right. Sometimes it took someone else to put the pieces back for you.

Catastrophe had come and gone. Overcome with the aid of a priceless crew and a dose of determination not even death could rattle. All that was left to do was to pick up the pieces, one at a time… together.