"Eye of the Storm"
by tag

Earth: Final Conflict is copyright © Tribune Entertainment and Roddenberry/Kirschner. No infringement of that copyright is intended by this story.
"Eye of the Storm" is copyright © 2001, tag.
Author's Note: Work In Progress. Chapters on may not correspond with parts on PhilosophySphere.
I decided to start posting this here because it looks like so many people here are interested...

It was a good thing that he'd started packing as soon as he got home from the Embassy, Liam reflected, as he closed his global - having just finished leaving timed messages for Augur and Renee - and tossed it into his duffle bag, on top of his clothes. Sandoval had called an hour ago to say that he was finished on the mothership and so they'd be able to leave several hours earlier than originally planned.

Well, I'm about as ready as I'm ever going to be, Liam thought, as he tugged irritably at the duffle's zipper. It was so awkward, trying to do everything using only one hand, especially when it was his left one...

Finally managing to get it closed, he picked it up and walked out of his bedroom.

Looking around the small main room, Liam nodded in satisfaction. He'd taken his few plants down to the Café already; the girls and Augur would take care of them until he got back. He'd already packed the books he intended to bring with him in his duffle, along with a few changes of clothes and his painkillers. So he had everything he was going to need.


Moved by some impulse he wasn't sure he understood, Liam walked over to the bookcase where he kept his parents' favourite books and took down the Taelon puzzle Augur had given him. Unzipping the duffle, he slipped it in, and then tugged the zipper closed again before depositing the bag on the floor.


And just in time, he thought, as there was a knock at his door. Picking the duffle back up again, he opened the door and gave Sandoval a hesitant smile. It was... strange, seeing his father standing there. Not something he'd thought was ever likely to happen.

"The car is parked just downstairs," Sandoval said. "You're all packed?"

Liam nodded silently, swallowing to moisten his suddenly dry throat. He wasn't entirely sure how to behave with Sandoval, now that the exhilaration from this morning had had a chance to fade. He'd never had the chance to interact with any of his parents as his parents before, not really. The time in the psychokinetic dimension with Ha'gel didn't count - he still wasn't certain whether or not it had really been his Kimeran father - not to mention the fact that the reality of the entire experience had been highly questionable. And his mother had only remembered - thanks to him Sharing with her - for a minute or two before she had died.

Sandoval seemed to understand Liam's uncertainty, however, because he simply started toward the stairs.

Closing his door behind him, Liam locked it, and then followed his father down the stairs and to the car. Still in silence, he put his duffle in the trunk - next to Sandoval's two small suitcases - and then got into the front passenger seat.

"We're going to have to stop along the way to pick up some food," Sandoval said, as he got the car started. "The cabin's in the middle of nowhere, which makes it an excellent safehouse; but it means that to go shopping, we've got to drive for about half an hour."

"Where exactly is it?" Liam asked curiously. All his father had said earlier was that it was about a three-hour drive away from Washington.

"Just outside of Shenandoah National Park," Sandoval replied, his eyes on the road.

"That's more than a three-hour drive," Liam pointed out, not knowing what else to say.

"A bit more," Sandoval agreed. "It depends on the traffic. That's part of the reason we're leaving now - to try to avoid all the rush-hour traffic around the city.

"Did you speak to Dr. Park?" he added after a moment.

Liam nodded. "She gave me some more painkillers, just in case," he replied. "And ordered me to call her if anything happens."

An uncomfortable silence took hold in the car as Sandoval headed it toward the interstate. Liam occupied himself by looking at the window and trying to figure out what to say to his father to get rid of the uncertainty he felt.

"Dr. Park knows, doesn't she," Sandoval said suddenly, breaking the silence.

Liam hesitated, looking at Sandoval out of the corner of his eye.

He wasn't entirely sure how to handle this. It was obvious from the way his father had phrased it that Sandoval was fairly certain that Dr. Park did know... but discussing it could lead to the little matter of the Resistance, and Liam still hadn't decided how to handle telling Sandoval about that.


Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Liam nodded. "Yes. She knows." Should I...? No, save it for later. When I have to tell him about the Resistance.

There was no doubt in Liam's mind that the matter of the Resistance was going to come up sooner or later - it was inevitable. His entire life had been bound up with the Resistance, from the moment Ha'gel had chosen to meet his mother at St. Michael's in the hopes that an Implant would be able to handle a Joining. So yes, it would come up. Liam could only hope that by the time it did, he'd have an idea about how to handle it.

"That's what I thought," his father said calmly, and the silence returned.

Liam returned his attention to the view from the window, and his eyes slowly started to close. Within half an hour after they had left his apartment, Liam was sound asleep.

Sandoval glanced over at the passenger seat as he turned into the parking lot of the mall. Liam was sound asleep - had been since before they'd actually left DC.

Of course, it wasn't really all that surprising, considering everything that had happened yesterday.

As soon as Sandoval had arrived on the mothership this morning - before Zo'or had summoned him to the bridge to discuss his vacation - Lt. Hartland had informed him of how Liam had fallen asleep in the middle of the afternoon yesterday.

After his meeting with Colonel Ahmid, Sandoval had done some digging into the records from the hybrid program, and had discovered that - at least in the case of Belle and Steven Hartley - the use of their shaqarava tended to drain them in proportion to the amount of energy directed through the organs. And Liam had expended a great deal of energy yesterday in his efforts to protect them both from the bomb's blast.

Parking the car right by the entrance to the mall - thankfully, it was still early afternoon, and so the mall wasn't that busy - he reached over, careful not to jar Liam's injured shoulder, and locked the passenger side door before getting out.

Leaving his son in the car - he didn't really want to wake Liam up until they reached the cabin, especially since he suspected that Liam needed all the rest he could get - Sandoval headed into the supermarket.

As he went through the aisles, picking up enough food to last the two of them about a week - they could get some more from the nearby town when they ran out - Sandoval thought about how he was going to deal with the situation he found himself in.

He hadn't missed Liam's reluctance to confirm the fact that Dr. Park knew the truth about his heritage. That suggested that there was more going on with the good doctor than he had realized. Quite likely she had ties to the Resistance as well.

And that, Sandoval knew, was going to be a difficult subject to discuss with Liam. The best way to go about doing so would probably be for him to lay some of his own cards on the table first, let Liam know about the elite and what he was doing with them. He definitely couldn't start out by saying that he knew that Liam was in the Resistance, not after the fear Liam had obviously felt during their discussion this morning.

There were so many secrets...

Pushing the grocery cart up to the cashier, Sandoval waited patiently as everything was rung through, ignoring the whispers of recognition from around him.

Once everything was bagged, he paid the cashier and headed back out to the parking lot. It didn't take him too long to get everything packed in the trunk of the car; once that was done, he unlocked the driver's door and got in.

Sandoval had just started the car when Liam stirred, opening his eyes and blinking dazedly.

"Sandoval?" he mumbled. "We there yet?"

"No, not yet," Sandoval replied patiently. "I just stopped to pick up groceries. It'll be another couple of hours before we arrive. Go back to sleep."

Liam studied him for another moment or two, his eyes half-open, and then leaned back in the seat and closed them. Within minutes, he was fast asleep again.

Sandoval returned his attention to the road with a sigh, pushing the slight pang he'd felt when Liam had called him 'Sandoval' out of his mind.

The elevator door opened and Augur stepped back into his sanctuary.

He'd headed over to Liam's to see if the kid was there, but the door had been locked and there had been no one home. He'd even tried calling the kid again, but he kept getting the message saying that Major Kincaid wasn't taking any calls at the moment. He was beginning to get quite concerned; yeah, the kid had survived the bombing of the Embassy, and Sandoval and the Volunteers had captured McKenna - but he hadn't heard anything directly from Liam since Friday, when he'd called to give the kid McKenna's identity and information.

"Augur!" Holo-Lorna called, as he came down the steps.

"What is it?" he grumbled. He needed to reach Liam... they had to talk about Special Agent Patterson's discovery of the Dark Knight files.

"I have a message for you, from Major Kincaid," the holo replied.

Augur gaped at her. Two days he'd spent trying to get in touch with Liam, and the kid had called when he wasn't here?

"Play it," he ordered.

The screen in front of him flickered on, revealing Liam's face. The kid looked exhausted - there were dark shadows under his eyes, and his hair had the rumpled appearance that meant he'd been too tired to worry about it - but there was a hint of excitement in his eyes that didn't fit with his appearance.

"Augur, I'm sorry I didn't call you earlier, but I've been really busy since yesterday morning. I just got your message.

"I assume you've heard about both the bomb and McKenna's capture. What you probably haven't heard is that Dr. Park - and Da'an - have put me on two weeks of medical leave. I've gotten strict orders not to do any work, whether duty or Resistance related.

"As a result, I'm heading out of town for the two weeks; I'll be back the Thursday after next. I'm going to be incommunicado unless there's some sort of emergency - and by 'emergency', I mean a real emergency.

"While I'm gone, Renee's in charge; I've already called her to let her know. However... I'm going to need you to keep an eye on her for me. I want the Resistance to keep a low profile for the moment; Sandoval's also on vacation, and Zo'or's brought in Colonel Ahmid, Si'al's Protector, to take Sandoval's position temporarily. We can guess how Sandoval would react if the Resistance were to do anything major, but we don't have any clue about Ahmid. So... just make sure that Renee doesn't try to pull anything, okay?

"Also... I've got a feeling that the vaile wasn't the only little project that Doors and Renee have been hiding from us. If possible, I'd appreciate it if you could do some poking around and see if you can find anything else. Doors told Sandoval that the vaile was originally a project in fashion design; check out some of the other supposedly 'low-priority' projects that DI has going. I can't do my job properly if I have no idea what's going on.

"Oh, and I left my plants in the Café - can you and the girls see that they get watered?

"Thanks, Augur. I'll see you in two weeks' time. Bye."

With that, Liam's image vanished.

"Oh, great," Augur muttered sourly as he slumped down into his chair. "Thanks a lot, Liam. Give me the easy stuff, why don't you..."

With a sigh, he turned back to Holo-Lorna. "Are there any other messages?"

"Yes," the holo told him. "Renee Palmer called. She wants to see you as soon as possible."

"Great, just great," Augur said again. "It never rains, but it pours." Standing up, he headed back over to the elevator. "I'll be back soon," he said, and punched the button to take him back up to the church.

Renee looked up as the door to her office opened and Augur walked in. "You wanted to see me?" the hacker asked, appropriating a chair and sitting down.

"What do you know about Liam's little 'vacation'?" Renee demanded.

It had not been a good day for Renee so far. First of all, she'd had to deal with a potential security problem at the new project. Then she'd had a meeting with Bradley Hunt from Personnel to discuss the latest problems with One Taelon Avenue. After that, she'd stopped by her office for a short break before meeting with Doors about the portal problem, only to get the message from Kincaid saying that he was taking off - somewhere unspecified - for two weeks, that she would be in charge of the Resistance during that time, and that she wasn't to do anything that might draw any attention.

It hadn't helped her mood in the slightest.

Augur shrugged. "I got a message from him saying that he was on medical leave for two weeks, and Dr. Park ordered him not to do anything resembling work. That's all."

"Damn it, that's not enough!" Renee snapped. This really had not been a good day. She had too many other things to do; she didn't have time to pick up the slack for Liam. "You're his friend, Augur... where would he go?"

Augur frowned. "He's on medical leave, Renee. And after last week, I'd say that he needs the break. It's only for two weeks, that's all. Let him have the time."

Renee rubbed her forehead tiredly. "We can't afford to, Augur," she declared. "I'm really too busy at the moment to handle the Resistance." She expected him to ask what she was busy with, but he stayed silent - perhaps recognizing for once that she wouldn't tell him even if he did ask.

"Where would he go?" she continued.

Augur shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe Ireland. But I wouldn't count on it."

"Ireland," Renee repeated thoughtfully. "Okay... Thanks, Augur. That's all I needed to know."

"Renee, give him a break, will you? He's spent the past week being attacked over and over - there are reasons that Park put him on medical leave. He needs the rest. Hell, he's never even had a vacation before. Leave him alone."

There were some people in Ireland that she could call on; if Liam was anywhere on the Emerald Isle, they'd be able to find him within a day or two.

She could handle a day or two.

"Renee? Are you even listening to me?" Augur demanded.

"That's all I needed to know, Augur," Renee repeated, the words a dismissal.

Augur glared at her as he got up. "Don't go looking for him, Renee. Something tells me you'll regret it if you do." With that, the hacker stalked out.

Renee didn't pay any attention to Augur's theatrics. As soon as the door closed behind him, she opened her global and dialed in a number.

"Seamus O'Bannon, please," she told the woman who answered.

Bettis frowned as he studied the information on the screen.

"Is something wrong, Bettis?" asked a quiet voice from behind him, and Bettis started in surprise and turned to see the Colonel standing in the door, giving him a questioning look.

"For god's sake, can't you make some noise to let a guy know you're there?" Bettis grumbled under his breath. Then, returning his attention to the question the Colonel had asked, he pushed his glasses a bit farther up on his nose and shrugged. "I don't know. Does the name 'Andrew Patterson' mean anything to you? He's apparently an FBI agent."

Colonel Kincaid walked into the room and sat down on the edge of the table, cocking one eyebrow. "FBI Special Agent Andrew Patterson?" he asked. "Yes, I know who he is."

"Good," Bettis replied, pushing himself away from his console with a sigh, "because he knows who you are, too."

The Colonel frowned at that. "What do you mean?" he demanded.

"I got a message from Augur a couple of days ago to say that this Patterson guy had broken into some of our files," Bettis replied grimly. The guy was obviously on a par with both himself and Augur, and that could only mean one thing. Trouble. "He managed to bypass all the traps and alarms Augur and I had set, without tripping any of them, but Augur was tracking him for some reason-" he continued.

"Bettis..." the Colonel interrupted, "what did he get?"

"Sorry, Colonel. He accessed your file," Bettis answered.

The Colonel's frown deepened. "My file?" he repeated. "Did he get into anything else?"

"No," Bettis said, shaking his head, "but then again, he wasn't trying to. It looks like he was just interested in you, for some reason."

"In me... or in the Major?" the Colonel asked, his expression thoughtful.

Bettis froze, surprised. He hadn't even considered that. "Err... since Augur informed me, and was already tracking what Patterson was doing... he's probably interested in the Major," he replied after a moment's thought.

The Colonel nodded in agreement. "Makes sense."

"So what should we do?" Bettis asked. "After all, by getting into your file, Patterson's found out about us. And if he now knows that the Major isn't the real Liam Kincaid..."

Colonel Kincaid shook his head. "We're not in any additional danger, Bettis; Special Agent Patterson already knew about Dark Knight. The general outline of what we're doing, at least, if not the details. And it's highly unlikely that he'll expose the Major."

It was Bettis' turn to frown. "Already knew?" he repeated, puzzled. "How could he have already known? He's FBI, not high-ranking military!"

"Patterson is involved in a... sister organization, you might say," the Colonel replied slowly. "He and a few others in that organization were briefed on the basics of Operation Dark Knight." The Colonel then gave Bettis a very pointed look. "That information is not for general distribution, Bettis," he stated firmly. "You can tell Augur that we'll take care of our situation - but don't breathe a word about Patterson's affiliations. Understand?"

"Got it," Bettis replied, nodding, and turned back to the computer. "But what about the Major? And the Resistance? Shouldn't they at least be told that there's no threat?"

"I'm sure Augur can handle telling the Major about Agent Patterson," the Colonel replied. "As for the Resistance - just because Patterson's found out that the Major isn't the real Kincaid doesn't mean that they're automatically at risk. And I'm not going to take the chance of any information about the organization that Patterson's a part of getting to the Taelons. So... no. Let them come to their own conclusions." Standing up, the Colonel stepped away from the table, heading back to the door - and then stopped. "Bettis... increase security on all our operational files. And let me know if Patterson gets into anything else."

Kincaid was frowning as he left the computer room.

As he'd remarked to Bettis, based on the fact that Patterson had only gone after his files, it looked as though the FBI agent was researching the Major. Which could mean one of two things.

Either they're worried that he could prove to be a serious threat... or they want to bring him in.

If I had to guess, I'd have to say that they want him in. He'd be a definite asset to them.

Slipping into his office, Kincaid closed the door and sat down at his desk, thinking carefully.

He - and Operation Dark Knight - had known about the imposter since he'd appeared at Will's funeral. Kincaid had spent the next few months trying to track down who the imposter really was, but all he and Bettis had been able to discover between them were the false records Augur had created.

Since meeting 'the Major', as the ODK personnel had taking to calling the imposter, Kincaid had become even more curious as to the man's real identity. The Major had been a bundle of contradictions. If he hadn't had the evidence of his own eyes, at times Kincaid would have sworn that the Major was a green recruit, too brash and cocky for his own good. And yet, at other times, he displayed the knowledge and maturity of a man twice his claimed age of 31.

However, the Major had proven himself trustworthy, so - for now, at least - Kincaid contented himself with idle speculation. Eventually, he was going to want to know the truth; but for the present, he had no real problems with the Major borrowing his identity. It certainly kept ODK safer.

And speaking of ODK... With a silent sigh, Kincaid pulled a pile of paperwork out of his inbox. Wherever you find an organization - whether regular or covert - you find paperwork. I wonder if the Major has to deal with as much red tape as I do - or more, considering that he's also a Companion-Protector, he thought idly, as he got to work.

Liam opened his eyes slowly. It took him a moment to remember what was happening, but the muted throbbing in his shoulder and - perhaps even more so - the view out his window quickly reminded him of where he was and whom he was with. Focusing on the view through the window, Liam saw that the city had been replaced by countryside, and he noticed that they were already climbing steadily into the mountains.

"We're almost there," Sandoval said from the driver's seat, and Liam turned his attention to his father. "We've only got about another twenty-five minutes to go."

"What's it like?" he asked, wanting to keep Sandoval talking. The silence that had filled the car before he'd fallen asleep had been uncomfortable, and he didn't want to go back to it.

"The cabin? Very nice. It doesn't look much like a safehouse, which is part of the reason it's one of the Bureau's better ones - and such a coveted vacation spot. It's two storeys, not including the cellar, and has four bedrooms, a den with a working fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, and a communications centre."

Liam couldn't help reflecting that Sandoval sounded almost like a real estate agent trying to interest a prospective client - his tone was aggressively neutral, but with a touch of something else that Liam couldn't quite define.

"There are also a number of hiking trails in the area," Sandoval continued, as he smoothly changed lanes and directed the car toward an exit ramp. "If you feel up to it, perhaps tomorrow we could hike down to Piney River."

Could it be... hopefulness? Liam wondered. It might be - if he wasn't just imagining things, trying to hear an echo in his father's voice of what he himself wanted from their time away together.

"Sounds good," he agreed out loud.

Silence filled the car again, and Liam returned his attention to the view outside his window, not knowing what else to do. He quickly found himself absorbed by the scenery. He didn't even notice that they'd arrived at the cabin until the car came to a stop and Sandoval announced, "We're here."

Liam blinked again, and then focused on the view through the windshield.

As Sandoval had said, it didn't look much like a safehouse. It didn't look much like Liam's idea of a cabin either, for that matter.

For one thing, not only was it two storeys tall, but the front looked to be almost as wide across as the Flat Planet, and had a large, glassed-in porch.

Glass? Liam frowned. Looking a bit closer, he found himself correcting his initial impression; it wasn't real glass - which, even if shatterproof, would have constituted too much of a risk for a safehouse - but virtual glass. More proof of the power of the FBI.

"Here," Sandoval said then, holding out a set of keys, "why don't you go in and take a look around while I get the bags out?"

Liam nodded, and then twisted around in his seat to get the seat belt off. It was awkward, and his shoulder started to throb as he moved it, but he managed to undo the buckle well enough. Getting out of the car, he took the keys from Sandoval and headed toward the front door.

If it looked big from the outside, from the inside it was absolutely enormous.

The front door opened into a hallway that traveled the length of the cabin. To the right was an oddly-shaped door - a large pentangle - that led to the den Sandoval had mentioned, which also went the entire length of the cabin, and to the left was a normal rectangular door that led to the kitchen. At the far end of the hall was a staircase, and Liam walked over and headed up to take a look at the second floor.

As his father had described, there were four bedrooms. Liam immediately picked out the one to the back of the cabin, on the right, as his favourite. It had a large double bed with a dark green bedspread, light blue walls, a golden-varnished hardwood floor with a small rectangular dark green rug to one side of the bed, and large windows with a lovely view of the forest behind the cabin. It felt warm and welcoming, and Liam found himself relaxing as he looked around. For some reason, the room's ambience made him think of his mother, and he suspected that it would have been her first choice as well.

The other bedrooms all had double beds and hardwood floors as well, but the colour schemes were different, as were the views from the window; they were all nice, but the light blue room was definitely the one Liam preferred - it felt the most comfortable.

Walking back down to the main floor, Liam peered down the stairs toward the cellar, and then decided that he'd probably better go help Sandoval bring in the groceries and their bags before exploring any further.

Sandoval watched as Liam unlocked the front door and headed into the cabin, and then he walked around to the back of the car. Lifting the lid of the trunk, he took out the bags of groceries and brought them over to the porch before going back for their luggage, concentrating on the mundane task in a futile effort to push the hints of uncertainty he felt out of his mind.

He took his suitcases out first, and then reached in to pick up Liam's duffle - and gasped in shock at the weight of it. It felt as though he was trying to pick up a bag of rocks. What the hell does he have in here?

Sandoval could manage it - one of the advantages of having a CVI was the physical enhancements it provided - but only just. Liam had carried it all the way down from his apartment to the car - using only his left arm - without breaking into a sweat.

Not for the first time, Sandoval wondered just what else he had left to learn about his new-found son - and whether or not he really was prepared for everything that he would discover. With a rueful sigh, he shook his head and carefully lowered the bag to the ground.

Then Liam reappeared at the front door, and, seeing Sandoval standing by the car with the luggage, he walked over and picked up his bag. "I'll take this in," he said, and then gave Sandoval a hesitant look. "Which is my room?"

"Your choice," Sandoval answered instantly, eyeing him thoughtfully for a moment. Should I ask about the weight of his bag?

No. We're still not all that comfortable with each other, and considering the way he reacted when he found out that I knew he was part-Kimera... no, better not to bring up any of his differences just at the moment. "Which one would you like?"

"The light blue one," Liam replied instantly.

Sandoval nodded, feeling his uncertainty raise its head again. This entire situation was more awkward than he'd considered.

Maybe, if they managed to keep busy, it would help them both ease into things; but, on the other hand, he didn't want Liam putting too much of a strain on his shoulder...

"All right," he said finally. "Why don't you go in and get unpacked, and I'll get started on dinner? The drive out here took a bit longer than I thought, and it will take about an hour to get dinner ready."

"Okay," Liam said, and headed back into the cabin, stepping carefully over the bags of groceries.

Sandoval closed the trunk lid and locked up the car, then took his suitcases in and left them just inside the den. Carrying the groceries into the kitchen, he could hear the faint sounds of Liam moving around upstairs, and he found himself growing even more nervous.

Am I going about this the right way? he wondered, a bit desperately, as he started to put the groceries away. I've lost my parents, DeeDee, Siobhan... He felt a touch of bitterness. They've all been taken from me. My parents by illness; DeeDee - and the family I could have had with her - and Siobhan by the Taelons. And if Zo'or or the Synod - or any Taelon other than Da'an - find out about Liam, I'll lose him too.

Sandoval shook his head, silently admonishing himself. This was no time for pessimism. Liam had managed to keep the truth of his identity and heritage secret so far - and that had been while Sandoval had been actively trying to learn that truth. And as for his worries about how things would work out between himself and Liam... well, both of them wanted this We are going to learn how to be father and son, even if it takes us the entire two weeks just to get started. That's all there is to it.

Opening one of the bottom cupboards, he pulled out an electric frying pan. Plugging it in, he took a package of lean ground beef out of one of the grocery bags and emptied it into the pan. Spaghetti and meat sauce tonight - a nice, easy to prepare meal, but one that would take a little while to get ready, so Liam could have a chance to relax a bit before dinner.

Half an hour later, the meat sauce was simmering nicely and Sandoval was getting ready to put on the water for the spaghetti when he realized that he hadn't heard anything from upstairs for a while. Had Liam come downstairs without him noticing?

Heading out of the kitchen, he peered into the den, but didn't see Liam anywhere. He wasn't in the communications centre next to the kitchen either, and the stairs down to the cellar made a very distinctive sound when they were stepped on - a sound that Sandoval hadn't heard.

Going upstairs, he peered into the blue room, and wasn't overly surprised to see Liam sprawled across the bed, sound asleep.

Sandoval stood in the doorway of the room for several minutes, just watching Liam sleep.

Over the past few days, his attention had been focused on capturing McKenna - for the most part - and on how to tell Liam that he knew the truth. Even the drive out here had been spent more focused on his relief at Liam's acceptance than the difficult subjects that they had to talk about. And there was a great deal that they needed to talk about.

Sandoval walked silently into the room and sat down in the chair that rested in one corner, keeping his eyes on Liam the entire time.

Yes, there was a whole list of things they needed to discuss.

Starting with the matter of the gun I gave him to deal with the Jaridian replicant, all the way through to what I did to Captain Marquette, Sandoval thought bitterly.

It was that last that had the most potential for damage. Most of the other things he'd done that he could discuss with Liam were things that Liam already knew about, one way or the other - except for the elite, of course, which should prove to be a pleasant surprise for his son - but not even the elite or Andrew knew that Marquette was still alive, much less where she was. Tate was the only other person on Earth who did know, and even he didn't have the full story.

What he'd done to Captain Marquette wasn't something he was particularly proud of - and it wasn't something that he could offer any excuses for. He hadn't done it on the orders of Zo'or or another Taelon; it was something he'd come up with himself, a plan to cement an alliance with the Jaridians. Captain Marquette had had the knowledge of ID travel and the distrust of the Taelons - and, most importantly, she had been available and it had been reasonably simple to fake her death.

It had been very much a matter of the lesser of two evils. If he hadn't done something about Marquette, she would have been interrogated by Zo'or and the Synod - and both his plans and the Resistance would have been even more seriously endangered than they had been by the crackdown. Marquette had known that his motivational imperative was gone, and that he had an agenda of his own, something that Zo'or - still - only suspected. If they'd broken her - and they would have; the Taelon interrogators were very skilled, unfortunately - everything Sandoval had been working towards would have been in danger. Yes, his plan had very definitely been the lesser of two evils.

The problem was, would his son see it that way? It wasn't something he really wanted to tell Liam about...

But if he and Liam were going to have any chance at building a real father/son relationship, it was going to have to have a foundation of truth. Somehow, he was going to have to find a way of telling Liam what he'd done.

With a soft but bitter sigh, Sandoval pushed himself out of the chair. Leaning over, he carefully pulled the bedspread over Liam's sleeping form, and walked quietly out of the room.

The meat sauce would keep until tomorrow; he'd just heat up one of the instant dinners he'd thrown into the grocery cart as an afterthought. And then he'd go to bed, and hope that he didn't dream.