Author's Note: I know it's been too long.again, but oh well what can you do. I thank Ta'al for beta-ing my story, it must of taken lots of patience to actually do it since I kept on saying I was going to send and I didn't. Thank you again

Chapter 4

Harper had been dragged into a small gray room that was otherwise bare except for an examining chair and some restraints in the middle. At first he had been tied down loosely but then he realized, a bit too late, that the more he struggled the further the restraints tightened. Now the very familiar leather straps were cutting off his circulation. The Adon had left him alone with his thoughts. The only thing that Harper could do at the moment was wait and worry. He was quite sure that whatever that they were about to do to him in this room wouldn't be pleasant to say the least.

The time seemed to stretch indefinitely before he finally heard the screech of the door opening. He saw a cloaked figure approaching him and he prepared for the worst. But to his surprise he saw blond hair poking out of the hood. Hope and relief filled his heart.

"Beka? Is that you" Harper questioned, he was still a bit uncertain about his luck.

"Yes it's me, now be quiet before someone hears you" She hissed

Harper flinched but decided to heed her words, she was probably just upset that he had gotten himself into trouble again. He stayed still as she unbuckled the restraint, but the second he was free he lunged for Beka, wrapping his tiny arms around her waist in a big hug. He had never been so happy to see her in his life. Instead of warming to the embrace, Beka tore his arms from around her and harshly pushed him away. Harper tried to hide his hurt expression but he was just too bewildered by Beka's reaction.

"Listen, you dirty little mudfoot," She looked at him angrily "The only reason I came here to get you was because you're a very valuable commodity when it comes to fixing things, but don't chance it. Maybe I should just leave you here." She grabbed his slender wrist and started pulling him towards the door. Harper was just too shocked to move.

"B-Beka what's wrong with you?" He whispered. She whirled around, twisting his arm at the same time, and hit his face hard. Unprepared for the blow, Harper went flying to the ground and let out a small whimper. Beka crouched beside him, as he looked at her face he saw a cruel smirk on her face.

"Really Harper don't be so pathetic" She then stroked his face "Such a beautiful slave" Harper didn't understand what was going on. Beka had never acted this way but it had to be her, or was it? All this didn't matter because as he looked closely into her eyes he saw something that scared him deeply, lust, terrible murderous lust. He knew he had to get away but she had a strong grip on his arms.

"Please Beka, let me go" Harper pleaded. He struggled but couldn't get free.

Beka's smirk widened, she truly looked insane. " Now that you have a willing partner you shy away. Tsk tsk. What shall I do with you? I can't just discard you; I gave too much money to your previous owner for that." Harper looked surprised at her. Beka chuckled almost sympathetically.

"What? You didn't know I owned your ass. Full price, which mean every part of you belongs to me. mind, body and soul. I actually hid the ownership papers under my bed, where I knew you wouldn't look. I decided to keep them, in case I wanted to sell you."

Harper didn't move, he just looked at her in alarm and disbelief.

"You don't believe me? Tell you what, you come with me like a good little slave and I'll show you the proof."

Harper finally broke out of his daze "N-no you're l-lying!" As he was tugging violently to liberate himself he accidentally kicked her in the shins.

"You wretched little creature!" Beka pushed him on the ground and put her knees on his hips to keep him from moving. He resisted as much as he could but her grasp only tightened. She held him so strongly that her nails started to bite trough his skin until tiny droplets of blood ran down his arms. Harper was frantic. He couldn't help himself as all the restraint that kept his emotions in control came undone.

"Let me go! Let me go!" He screamed in terror. He heard a whooshing sound and a shriek that followed. As he looked up he saw Beka, who had relented her hold on him, she wason fire. The fire climbed her arm and reached her chest and neck. She kept screaming in pain.

"Oh my god, Beka! Beka, I'm so sorry! Beka!" Then her glare settled upon him.

"You did this to me! You're killing me! You no good, ungrateful brat!"

"No Beka I didn't mean to!" He implored feeling tremendously guiltily. She leaped towards him, hoping to spread the fire onto him. Harper was too late to move as he saw her coming towards him. He closed his eyes and prepared for the agony that would surely come. He felt her body collide with his and sensed the searing heat of the flames on his skin. He let out a scream, but then he felt nothing. He opened his eyes slowly and looked around the bare room. There were no evidence that Beka or the fire had been there. Harper let out a shaky breath; he was in terrible shock. He vaguely realised that someone was in the room. As Harper's tear streaked face tilted to look at the other person he saw the Adon staring at him satisfied.

"I-it wasn't real" Harper said weakly, trying to convince himself more then the Adon..

Adon Eblis' face twisted into a parody of a smile "It's as real as your mind makes it." Harper felt a twinge of pain from his wrists. To his surprise he saw nail marks, streaks of blood, and bruises forming where Beka had held him.

Harper's mind began spinning, the shock finally getting to him. His body felt tired and heavy and his vision blurred. He fell to the cold hard floor as all thoughts left him.

*****

"We know that Harper went to the Ranger's drift, and we found the abandoned ship here, close to the Algarimian Sun " Rommie was bent over a star chart showing to the crew visually where Harper had been. Both places had been marked by red dots.

"Well there's only a couple of slipstream routs that could connect both areas." Beka said hopefully. The paths appeared on the chart as Beka trailed her finger along the possible ways.

Dylan nodded "Alright, I suppose our only chances on finding Mr. Harper is back tracking the routes"

Trance, who had walked into Command only a couple of moments ago, spoke up. "Don't"

Dylan looked up perplexed "Don't what?"

"Don't go that way"

"Why, why not go that way?" Bake asked worriedly and stood up from her seat.

Trances turned and gave her a sad smile. She placed a small golden hand on Beka's shoulder to calm her. She realized that the blond woman had been shaking from concern for her good friend. Her eyes had also glazed over as a result of the unshed tears that stung her eyes. She truly did care for Harper.

"Because you won't find him if you do" she kept her gaze on Beka. "You have to go that way." She pointed to another rout. "Follow the Evening Star"

"Trance that's completely the opposite of the other routes!" Dylan said frustrated. "The only place Harper could have went would be between the Drift and the Algarimian Sun. It's the logical course. We must track his path."

Trance suddenly snapped her attention back to the Captain. Her hands had come to rest rigidly beside her sides. The air became colder as she stared angrily at him "If you do not heed my words than we well never see Harper alive. He will suffer tremendously until he dies. Only one thing will stay with him until his last breath, the question as to why we did not care enough to save him. And you will have to live with the fact that you let him rot in misery and pain. Your precious Commonwealth will never last, nor in fact come into existence, without him" Realising she had said too much she stopped. She let her clenched hands relax and her face soften unto a pleading look. "Dylan please put your trust in me again. You have listen to me before, even if it had seemed completely ridiculous. Have you ever regretted it? Have I ever failed you?"

Dylan sighed. "Trance I'm not sure. You obviously know more than you're telling us. Hell you've always known more than usâE¦" He looked at the other faces in the room. Tyr stared at him, waiting to see what he would do, Beka was avoiding his eyes and Rommie was doing some calculations. But the crew all shared one thing in common, they seemed as uncertain as him

"But I." He sighed again and rubbed his weary face with his hands. "What are the probabilities?"

"0.008751 if you go towards the Ranger's Drift, the Evening Star would be 0.991249"

"Ninety-nine percent, um Dylan I think we should listen to her" Rommie said

Dylan's shoulder slumped as he gave in. "Alright we go your way"

"Thank you"

*****

Harper woke up to the feeling of prodding fingers on his face. He held his breath as waves of panic threatened to overpower him. He was at first sure that whoever was touching him meant to harm him but he soon realized that the other person was only curious. He slowly opened his eyes, careful not be too sudden as not to provoke the stranger. He looked up to see a dirty face hovered over him. Harper wasn't sure how old the man was because of the dirt covering him but he guessed that he was about the same age as him, maybe a bit older. He had long brown matted hair, although he didn't know if the shade of his hair was because of the filth or if it was his natural color, and blue eyes; thankfully he looked Human. When he realized that Harper was awake his lips twitched as if to smile but it quickly turned into a frown.

"Good your awake. How are you feeling? Of course that's a pretty stupid question. You must be feeling awful. No one is in his or her best state here. Well maybe except the Guardians" He turned his face and let out small growl. Harper tried to see who he was glaring at but the man's body was hiding whomever it was. The man turned his attention back to Harper and chuckle silently. "I'm sorry, I talk too much as you can see. I suspect it's going to be the death of me one of these days." He let out his hands in a friendly gesture "The name's Howahkan. I was assigned to show you around and make sure you know the rules"

Harper hesitated for a second but then grasped Howahken's hand. The man lifted him up with enough ease and grace that astounded Harper. "My name is E. Harper. Harper's my name." Howahken's eyebrows lifted up but he smartly kept quiet. After all it was not his business.

"Come I will show you the place" Harper left the corner that he had been lying in and followed the other man. Numerous people shuffled around him, some of them where too alien for him to even recognize their race or gender.

"This is the Dinning room. Obviously, it is the place where we receive our meals, it's also the only time when you will get to socialize with the other 'patients'." Harper looked around again and noted that no one was actually really socializing. They just wandered around, avoiding each other's faces. In fact Harper and Howahken were the only ones talking, well Howahken was.

".before we used to have our meals in our rooms. Some patients lost their minds from the lack of contact with other people so the Adons were forced to give us the Dinning room. Lots of good that did. Anyways, that's where you get your food and that's where you eat it" They halted near a simple table. Some people were silently eating their food, well what Harper could only guess was food.

"Come..." They continued walking for a couple of minutes until they stopped again. Howahken pointed at someone in a uniform.

"That's our Guardian. Everyone is assigned to one. They are the Adons' favorite or most well behaved 'patients'. Their job is to watch the others and if they see any hint of rebelling they punish those involved and then inform the Adons. Unfortunately, ours is the most vicious. Her gift is to read minds, so be careful what you think because she will not hesitate to inflict pain upon you." Harper looked at the woman who was his Guardian. She had green eyes and her head had been shaved. His Guardian stood there watching everybody with a sneer, never letting her guard down. Harper knew that she could have been beautiful once but now, she was so cold and uncaring that it marred her prettiness. She was a traitor, a vile woman with a uniform. He instantly disliked her.

"Wait here, I'll be right back" Harper nodded his head as Howahken made his way towards a big metal door and disappeared behind it.

Harper sat down on the floor, too tired and dizzy to stand anymore, when he felt something pulling at his sleeve. He looked over his shoulder to see an old woman with white silvery hair. She moved to sit beside him, never letting her eyes leave his.

"You are the Bodaway" The old lady croaked. She seemed quite pleased with her discovery.

"Excuse me?" Harper was in no mood for riddles.

She sighed in frustration as if he should know what she was talking about. "The Bodaway," she emphasized the word "the fire-maker"

Harper couldn't suppress a gasp. At first he had though that the lady was insane, she certainly looked that way with her shining eyes, untamed hair and the way she fidgeted, but now he could see wisdom in her visage. "What are you talking about?" He said uncertainly.

She smiled and patted his head. "Do not be afraid of the fire, my son. It is not your curse but a beautiful gift. Learn to control it and only then will you be able to live your life. Use it to your advantage and you will see. You have great power." She bounced up and skipped away mumbling to herself.

"Wait!" Harper got up but it was too late, she was already gone. Then he heard someone clearing his throat behind him. When he turned he saw Adon Eblis and Howahken, who had his head bowed down. Howahken quickly looked up with an apologetic _expression and just as quickly left.

"What do you want?" Harper sneered

The Adon hissed and his eyes flashed red sparks. Harper couldn't help but realise that the monster's nails had elongated and become sharper. Quite suddenly Harper felt searing pain in his abdomen and his legs became weak. He fell on his knees, knowing full well that he would have ghastly bruises on both of them. "It would be good for you to learn your place." The Adon clutch his small shoulders and violently lifted him up.

"I will let this pass, but only this one instance. Next time you will regret it. Now Edan, I think it is time for you to meet your Guardian" He looked at the women with the bald head and beckoned her to come. She came without hesitation, never missing a beat in pleasing her master. As she came she harshly pushed and spit on the weakest prisoners. She truly was despising Harper thought.

"Ah here we go, my Guardian this is your new charge." He shoved Harper in front of her.

"Make sure to watch him carefully, more then the others actually. He is quite a resourceful one and I do not want to lose him. He is too powerful and important for that. If he disobeys the rules you can use any punishment you see fit, just don't kill him." Her cruel smile intensified as she imagined all the brutal thing she would do to him. "Notify me after" He seemed to think for a moment "Oh and don't scar his face or disfigure his body." Her shoulder fell in disappointment and she appeared to sulk.

"Yes Adon" She bowed her head to him.

Her hateful eyes settled on Harper but he couldn't help but stare back. She tensed and seemed uncertain for a moment.

"That is all, you may leave" She nodded again. When she left Harper made a startling discovery. She had distinctly smelled of vanilla. At first he hadn't detected it but when she had turned the gentle scent had flowed toward him. No, no it can't be her, Harper thought, but he knew that it was.

*****

Author's Note: Howahken means " of the mysterious voice." (this will be explored later in the story)