Disclaimer: I own nothing. It's all about Fox and whoever created the show. The characters I did create I don't like so anyone can use 'em. Please don't reproduce/use this story(like to base another one off of) without letting me know.

R-rated for attempted nonconsentual situation.

To Emily for editing, typing, encouraging, and keeping me sane.

Fight the Inevitable


Stephanie Meyer

Captain Vansen rubbed the bridge of her nose. She couldn't remember the last time she'd slept. She smiled to herself. At least this way she didn't have to dream.

"King of Hearts to Queen of Diamonds, you still with us, Shane?" Shane smiled.

"Roger, King. Just wondering how long it's been since I've seen the bottom of Phoose's bunk."

"Understood." The Wildcards glided through space like poisoned tipped arrows. They had been escorting troops between hot zones and were now returning to the Saratoga for a few days recuperation before their next mission.

As the Saratoga's launch bay appeared around her, Shane reached to pop the canopy. She could almost feel her bunk now. She unstrapped her helmet and pried it off her sweaty head. Her long, dark hair spilled onto her shoulders and down her back. All she wanted was a shower and a nice long nap. She heaved herself onto the deck. The instant her boots thudded against the metal plating a sharp voice cut through the air.


Shane looked up to see a sour-looking official making his way through the tech-crew toward her hammerhead.

"Shane, you coming?" Vanessa followed her friends gaze to see what she would call trouble. And she did.

"Uh, oh. Here comes trouble."

"Yeah, go on Phoose. I'll be there in a minute."

"You better girl, if you want any hot water."

"Save some. And that goes for the rest of those ugly mugs I call a squad. Tell 'em it's an order."

"Yes, ma'am." Vanessa grinned and headed out of the bay.

By this time, the official whatever he was had reached Vansen. He handed her an envelope. Shane's heart stopped. That envelope only meant one thing, transfer.

"Captain Vansen, your are to report back to this local in fifteen mikes for transfer to your new post. Go straight to your quarters, and clean out your bunk. Do not speak to anyone.

Failure to do so will result in severe disciplinary measures, for both parties. Have I made myself clear?"

Shane struggled to reply, but her throat suddenly closed.

"Move it, Marine."

Grasping her new orders, Shane dashed toward her quarters. She hurried toward her bunk and threw her things together. The rest of the fifty-eighth was still in the showers.

Fighting tears, Captain Shane Vansen headed for her transport, making it with one minute to spare. Wishing her friends good-bye and good luck, she watched the Saratoga fade away into the backdrop of space.

McQueen was not happy. He was losing one of his kids, and no one would say why.

"Look McQueen. Vansen ticked someone off. Someone important." The Commodore did not seem any happier than McQueen did.

"The fifty-eighth hasn't made a lot of friends either. I don't like it, but there's nothing to be done. This comes from the top."

McQueen gritted his teeth. This wasn't finished.

Vanessa Damphouse strode into the fifty-eighth's bunk still toweling her damp hair.

"Shane?" she called. Vanessa was concerned. She'd seen neither leather-necked hide nor long, dark hair of her friend and commanding officer since they'd got back, forty minutes ago. Something was up.

She was just about to haul herself up on her bunk to search for a note when the rest of her squad mates jockeyed through the door. In the age old tradition of male bonding, the members of the fifty-eighth (minus the female portion) were in the midst of a towel snapping, noogy-giving free for all.

"Boys," Vanessa sighed as she placed a foot on the frame of Shane's bunk, " I don't know why Shane and I tolerate you."

"Hey," Cooper remarked, releasing a grateful Paul in his indignation, " who you call'n a boy?"

Vanessa rolled her eyes and shook her head at the floor. As she did she saw something that made her freeze. Noticing Vanessa startled reaction, Nathan asked, "Phoose, what's wrong?"

"It's Shane's bunk. It's clean. Her stuff is gone."


"She's right," a strong, steady voice said from the doorway. The Wildcards looked up to see McQueen standing impassively before them.

"Where'd she go?" Hawkes demanded.

"Captain Vansen has been transferred. As of this moment, she's to be forgotten. Understood? Until further notice, West has the squad."

"Colonel..." Wang protested.

"Look, I'm not happy about it either. But there's nothing that can be done. So deal with it people."

"Why?" questioned Vanessa.

McQueen's shoulders came as close to sagging as his unit had ever seen. "I have no idea."

Shane stepped out of the transport and into a cold, unfamiliar hanger. Her orders were vague, at best. Report to the USS. Crazy Horse. Airforce division.

A voice called to her. "Captain Vansen?"

She looked at the speaker. Lieutenant Colonel, probably her CO.

"Follow me."

He took off at a brisk pace. Shane struggled to match his pace, nearly running to keep up with his long stride. He talked as he walked.

"You've been assigned to the ninety-seventh squad. You're still a Marine, but you take orders from the Airforce now. You've in my squad. My rules are simple. Follow your orders, no hot dogging. You're not a Wildcard anymore. You've been assigned to an all male unit. Deal with it."

He stopped walking.

"This is your bunk." Then he turned and left.

Shane took a deep breath and walked in. Four pairs of hostile eyes stared back at her. She had a bad feeling about this.

Two months. Two long months. That's how long Shane had been away from the fifty- eighth. Two months of crude comments, sexist remarks, and general hostilities. She'd almost rather be stuck in some fox hole firing at Chigs. At least then there was something she could do about coming "under fire." Here there was nothing.

Shane sat on her bunk knees drawn up to her chest, trying to concentrate on the letter her youngest sister had sent her. It was hard. Tears nearly blurred her vision. She could only ignore the comments so long. These flyers didn't like a woman thrown in their midst, and they let her know it, every minute. Today was worse than before. Shane was miserable.

A boot kicked the bottom of her bunk.

"No use, man. Vansen doesn't like natural borns. She's only a tank whore." Shane stayed silent.

"'Course, how else you think she made captain?"

"Wish I'd joined the Marines. Integrated units. Who needs shore leave?"

"You would if you got stuck with a cold fish like Vansen."

"Maybe I need to be a nipple neck.....or an AI robo-flunky."

"She'd take it either way."

The last comment was too much for Shane; she snapped. Leaping off her bunk, she landed on the floor and, with a lightening quick turn (never underestimate the littlest Marine), she grabbed the owner of the last comment by his shirt and hauled him to his feet.

"What did you say?"

The man's eyes narrowed. "Well, looky here boys, Shane wants to play rough."

Shane drew back a fist to knock the smirk off her captive's face when the arm she had raised was suddenly drawn back behind her. She found that she was now the captive.

"Try it honey, you'll like it."

Then a fist came into contact with her jaw. She thought it came from her right, but then another blow descended on her, disorientating her. The next punch came to the stomach.

Shane would have doubled over, would have if her arms hadn't been pinned behind her and her torso being held upright.

A rough hand grabbed her now sore and swollen jaw.

"You think you're tough, Marine? You think you're special? Let's just see how special you are, and how long you can fight."

She couldn't believe this was happening. Not even when she was held prisoner by the AI's, it hadn't been this way.

The zipper of her flight suit was pulled all the way down. She saw what was going on in her head, but it was as if it was happening to someone else.

A rough hand grabbed her. Foul smelling breath whispered in her ear. "Are we having fun yet?"

She tried to struggle, but she was held down tight. Suddenly a mouth covered hers. Her mouth was forced open, and a tongue was thrust into it. She couldn't breathe. She was suffocating.

The hands moved along her body, crushing, bruising. Again the whispered words. "Now for the fun."

The hands moved downward.

Shane desperately tried to break free of the iron grip that held her. Suddenly the ship rocked, a voice called, "All hands to battle stations," saving her from her newly decided fate.

They dropped her as they moved toward the door. "Just wait," one hissed as he exited,

"You'll get yours."

Shane, near tears, collapsed on the deck. She knew she must pull herself up and get to her plane. For the sake of her sanity, her brain temporarily blocked her emotions, and pure battle logic took over. She hurried to suit up. She'd have to watch her own six now.

The battle was one of the worst she'd ever flown. Her distraction showed. She knew she was on her own. If she'd been at her peak, she would have seen the Saratoga join the fray and heard the 58 over the radio. But she was not at her peak. Hell, she could hardly even see, her left eye was so swollen.

In the course of the battle, the Crazy Horse was damaged. She couldn't take her squadrons back in. They were directed to dock with the Saratoga. Shane was so distracted, she didn't realize where she was until her canopy was rising, and she heard someone calling her name frantically.

"Shane, Shane!"

She looked up to see Nathan West pushing his way through the crowded hanger bay.

"West? How...."

Nathan reached out to lift his friend up onto the deck. "You're docked on the Saratoga. Shane....Shane?"

Shane looked around in confusion. She was in the Saratoga's bay...how? Everything was blurring. Her head started to pound. The she heard her squad .

"Vansen, move it. They're putting us up in quarters."

Shane suddenly knew she couldn't go with them. She didn't know why anymore; everything was so foggy. She grabbed on to her friend's arm.

"Nathan, I can't. Please...don't let them..."

"Don't let them what, Shane?"

Shane didn't answer. Suddenly feeling closed in, she fumbled with her helmet fastenings. She ripped off her helmet and let it fall to the deck. Nathan's expression tuned from concern to rage as he saw her beaten face. Shane's helmet came to rest at her CO's feet.

"Vansen, now!!" His voice was cruel.

"She's not going anywhere." Nathan's tone was unreadable.

"Say's who?"

"Orders from the Commodore."

Nathan confronted the other man.

"Fine take her. You Marines always stick together. Maybe she'll be...friendlier to you." Nathan tried to wipe the smug look off the other man's face but was physically restrained by Shane. She strode in between the two, facing Nathan. She looked into his eyes, pleadingly. Nathan backed down. She felt his body relax and buried her head in his chest.

"Is he gone?"

"Yeah, he's gone. Shane what's going on?"

"I don't know." She looked at him with tearful eyes.

"Let's go."

Together they left the hanger. They stuck to the sparsely populated corridors, Nathan some how knowing that Shane was not ready to see the rest of the fifty-eighth, her family. She needed to figure out what was going on inside her head. Nathan gritted his teeth. If the bastard had...... Nathan would gladly slit the man's throat.

They found an out-of-the-way cargo bay and ducked inside. Nathan grinned as they sat side by side.

"Even if he's got the balls to go to the Commodore, I don't think Ross with flush us out." Shane didn't respond. She'd drawn her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around them. Her head was buried, and her shoulders lightly shaking.

"Shane..." Nathan put an arm around her. She surprised him by leaning into him and wrapping her arms around him. She was trembling.

"Go on, tell me."

She tightened her grip.

"I...remember...someone hit me from the side, then again...I couldn't get loose. I couldn't get away..and then, oh god, then..." She was sobbing. Nathan began to rock her back and forth.

"They tried to, they tried to..."

"Shh," Nathan soothed. "It's all right. They didn't. You're safe now."

After what seemed like an eternity, Shane's sobbing stopped. She looked up at Nathan.

Her face, already bruised and swollen, now was blotched, tear-streaked, and her right eye that wasn't swollen shut was red and puffy.

"I must look terrible," she said as she sat up against the wall.

"I don't know," Nathan teased lightly, " no worse than usual..." Shane swatted him, almost playfully and then turned serious. " I hate crying." Nathan took her hand in his. " I know."

The Wildcards, winding down after battle, clustered around one table in the mess. Picking at the unappetizing food, they stared at the new arrivals from the Crazy Horse. "So you think they can fly?" Hawkes asked.

"Of course they can fly," Paul replied. "They're in the Air Force."

"No, I mean, can they fly. Like a Marine."

"Nobody flies like a Marine....except a Marine, and only because we're crazier than hell," Vanessa interrupted.

Cooper chuckled. "Hey," he said, "speaking of crazy, anybody seen West?"

"He stayed behind in the bay. Said he had to check on something," Paul replied between bites of what the mess passed off as spaghetti. "He'll be along."

"Hey guys," Vanessa hissed, "I think we've got trouble heading our way."

The guys looked up. Several Airforce pilots were approaching their table.

"How do you know?" Cooper asked.

"I just do."

The Saratoga's new arrivals had reached their table. "So," the first pilot drawled, "these are the infamous Wildcards?"

"Last time we checked," Paul replied, not looking at the man he was addressing but winking at Vanessa seated across from him.

"We've heard a lot about you guys," another 'Forcer said. "I believe I'm disappointed."

The 58th looked at each other, sending the same message to their squadmates. 'Don't bite...yet.' The last thing they needed was to be called up on the carpet before Ross. Again. No one had forgotten Tellus.

"Yeah," the leader continued. "All bark and no bite. Marines ain't as tough as they want everyone to think. Ain't that right boys?"

One grunted in agreement.

"In fact, just recently, I had to pleasure of roughing one of y'all up. Weren't too hard, hardly a challenge."

"Probably figured you weren't worth the effort." Cooper's tone was void of emotion as he hurled the insult.

"What did you say, tank?"

Cooper stood. The man advanced. Paul and Vanessa scrambled to their feet, poised to throw themselves into the fray alongside their eight-year-old friend. The two groups eyed each other warily, waiting for some kind of signal to begin. That signal came in the form of Nathan West.

Nathan convinced Shane to rest and took her to the 58th's bunk. No one was there. She was grateful. Maybe if she was asleep they wouldn't ask. Nathan led her to her old bunk.

"We kept it for you. McQueen's trying to get you back, even though no one seemed to know where you'd gone. We didn't give up."

Shane gripped his hand. Nathan pushed her down on the bunk.

"Try to rest. I'll go see if I can scrounge you up something that passes as food on this tub."


"You'll be safe here. There's a k-bar under the pillow."

"Thanks, and Nathan...."



"I know, Shane. I'll be right back."

Nathan exited into the corridor, letting the door slam shut behind him. The first thing tomorrow morning, he'd talk to the Commodore; get Shane back. It never occurred to him that he wouldn't be able to do so. She was not leaving him again. But right now she needed him to be there for her, to be her friend, not to fight for her. He headed for the mess.

When he got there, he saw his squad faced off against some Airforce jockeys. He clenched his jaw. They weren't necessarily Shane's squad mates, he told himself. They'd taken on so many planes. He headed over to the gathering, his errand for Shane temporarily on hold. The last thing he needed was for the Cards to end up in the brig.

"You have a problem?" Nathan's tone was in officer mode.

"Nothing that's any of your business, Marine," one of the 'Forcers sneered.

"My squad, my business."

"Our Airforce friends were just crowing about how easy it was to whip a Marine," Cooper spit. "Thought they might get a chance to eat it."

"Maybe you should all just step away," Nathan suggested.

"Maybe you should get a spine," another of the 'Forcers snarled.

Another spoke up. "Then he wouldn't be a Marine. You know how they are. All talk. All pretty. Not so pretty after a beating. Just like our little friend. Let's show our buddies here how Marines hold up in the Airforce."

"Can't," said another. "Our example is hiding in a hole somewhere."

"We'll find her."

Nathan's vision turned red. All he saw was Shane's bruised, battered face, tears running down both cheeks. Shane who was so strong, so confident, looking so defeated and vulnerable.

Nathan faked turning and then laid into the nearest 'Forcer. His fist came into contact with a solid jaw. The fight had begun.

By the time the MPs had managed to break up the fight, Nathan was feeling somewhat vindicated. Sure, he was roughed up, but not as much as the 'Forcers were. The Wildcards were far less scarred than their opponents. As Nathan was being pulled out of the jungle of limbs, he called out:

"Not so easy when the odds are evened up, huh? You son of a ....."

"West!" A sharp voice cut through the mess. McQueen strode over to where his squad stood. He took in the 58th. Damphouse's bruised cheek, Wang's bloody nose, Hawkes's black eye. Then he continued.

"What the hell are you doing? This is a battleship, not a barfight!"

"We were settling a dispute, sir!"

"Like hell you were! The 58th's now confined to quarters. As for you," he turned to the 'Forcers, "I can't discipline you; you're not my squad. If you were I'd yank you back so hard....."

"But we're not your squad, sir!" One of the 'Forcers cracked. McQueen's jaw tightened.

"That's right, and if you were, you sure as hell wouldn't have lost one of your members. Your fifth pilot never logged in. Explain that."

"Ask lover boy over there," a 'Forcer sneered. "He spirited her off for his own use as soon as we docked."

"You bastard!" Nathan growled as he lunged for the man. He had to be physical restrained by both Cooper and Paul.

"Enough!" McQueen shouted. "Five Eight, to quarters. YOU," he pointed at the 'Forcers, "Find your CO, take care of it." With that McQueen stormed out.

"Just wait," one of the 'Forcers whispered to Nathan as the 58th left, "You can't hide her forever."

It took all of Nathan's will power not to rip the man's throat out. Only the fact that he knew he couldn't help Shane from inside the brig kept him from murder.

The Wildcards didn't speak until they were in front of their hatch.

"Nathan," Vanessa asked, "what in the hell possessed you to jump that guy. He was an ignorant doof, but to jump him...."

"And what was all that talk at the end about?" interrupted Cooper. "Ya lost me there."

"You'll see," Nathan said as he opened the hatch. "Quite now. She should be asleep."

"Who...." Paul began as he followed Nathan through the hatch. The rest of his words died on his lips as he saw the huddled form in the bunk below Vanessa's. Vanessa pushed her way to her friend's side. Taking Shane's sleeping face in her hands, tears clouded her eyes as she beheld the awful bruises and welts.

"What happened to her?"

"One guess," Nathan replied, his tone ominous.

"Damnit!" Cooper slammed his fist into the wall. The Wildcards stood in silence for their queen.

Shane's new CO was starting to get on the Commodore's nerves. The man had been in his office for almost an hour and he still had no clue what the man wanted.

"Colonel, unless you plan to make a point sometime in the near future, I suggest you leave now."

"My point, sir, is that I want my squad member returned."

"Who took your member?"

"She disappeared soon after we arrived. I suspect she's with the 58th and was somehow involved in the altercation in the mess."

"Captain Vansen was nowhere near the mess."

"When she was assigned to my squad, I was assured she was mine. I don't know who the 58th think they are, but until she reports to her bunk, I'm considering her awal. Unless the 58th wants to be considered accessories, they should turn her over."

"Captain Vansen may be assigned to your squad, but as far as the 58th are concerned, she is still a Wildcard. If she's sought refuge with the 58th, that should tell you something about your squad."

The two men stared at each other. Suddenly, there came a ringing knock at the door.

"Enter!" the Commodore barked. McQueen stepped into the room.

"Commodore, you wanted to see me?"

"This gentlemen says Captain Vansen went awal from his squad and thinks your squads has her."


"I told him if Vansen was hiding out, then she must have some reason too."

"She's under my command now," the Airforce colonel said. "And I don't intend to give her up."

McQueen, staring straight ahead at the Commodore said, "If she has a reason for leaving, sir, I will officially request her transferred back."

"You know it will be denied, Colonel. Vansen's orders came form the top."

"I know, sir, but I refuse to watch her be victimized. One way or another, she'll be back with the 58th if so much as a hair is out of place."

The 58th was bunked down for the night. It was like old times, the family all home, every bunk filled. Vanessa felt that things were right again. She was just about to drift off to sleep when she heard a faint sobbing, like someone was crying in their sleep. She listened more carefully and immediately identified the source of the sound. She'd heard it many times before, but not for the past two months.

She climbed down and sat next to Shane. She gently shook her friend.

"Shane, Shane, wake up, Shane."

Shane sat up and gasped. Vanessa wrapped her friend in her arms and began to rock her back and forth. Shane's sobbing stopped, and Vanessa let her go. Shane pushed her matted hair back and looked at her friend gratefully.

Vanessa smiled. "Same old demons?"

Shane shook her head. "New demons to chase."

Vanessa smoothed a strand of hair away from Shane's troubled face. "What happened, Shane?"

Shane bit her lip and averted her eyes. "I....can't, it's so foggy. But when I close my eyes, I.... it's like it's happening all over, but I can't remember it when they're open."

"Shane, you should tell somebody."

"You're crazy. They'd ground me, not to mention a lengthy grueling investigation that will go nowhere because it's my word against theirs. Besides," Shane said, "I've already talked about it. I've already told somebody."

"You should have at least gotten someone to look at those cuts, girl."

"Yeah, like that wouldn't lead to something."

"Let me look at them."

Vanessa snapped on the small light above Shane's bunk. She carefully looked at her friend's beaten face.

"Shane! Some of these are infected!"

"I guess cockpit grease doesn't agree with them."

"Come on."

Vanessa grabbed her friend and headed for the head. She wetted a towel and began to dab the inflamed gashes. Suddenly a white blur flew past her shoulder. Shane snatched it in mid air. Cooper stood in the doorway.

"Antibiotic stuff."

"Thanks, Cooper."

Vanessa began to spread the ointment on Shane's upturned face.

"Hold still."

"It burns."

"Just hold still. That means its infected."

The light in the bunks was still on. The Wildcards weren't sleepy. They were quite, thoughtful.

McQueen, walking down the corridors on a nightly thinking session, noticed the light under the 58th's hatch. Curious. McQueen stopped. They had a mission at 0800 tomorrow morning. Whatever it was it better be damned important; they had a briefing in less than five hours. McQueen opened the hatch.

What he saw was....intriguing. Wang, Hawkes, and West were sitting pensively on their bunks. Damphouse's bunk was empty. The bunk under hers was rumpled. Hushed voices floated in from the head. McQueen's eyes narrowed in suspicion. me moved toward the voices. He could feel their eyes follow him.

"Shane, hold still!" Vanessa scolded her friend once again. Shane sighed and rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. Suddenly she froze. In the doorway, stood McQueen.

Vansen stumbled to her feet. Damphouse turned to see what had startled her friend. She snapped to attention when she saw her commanding officer.

McQueen's face was immobile as his eyes flitted over Vansen's face. Then he turned and left.

The bunk was silent. Vanessa slipped her hand around Shane's arm and whispered in her friend's ear.

"I think that means your home."

Shane exhaled slowly.

"Either that or I'm going to be drug out of here kicking and screaming in about thirty seconds."

Vanessa hugged her friend and smiled. Then they headed back to their bunks.

McQueen was fuming. It wasn't the sight of a bruised and beaten Vansen that enraged him. He'd seen her worse after a bar fight in the Tun. What spurned him into action was the scared, pensive, broken look in her eyes. He'd seen that type of look in prisoners of war, but Vansen was no prisoner, at least not of war.

Although it was still early in the ship's cycle, McQueen went to go see the Commodore. Heads would roll.

The 58th were suiting up. Shane, from her familiar bunk watched them wistfully. She wanted to fly with them so badly she could taste it. She gazed at them, remembering when she was one of them. It hadn't been that long ago, but it seemed like a lifetime.

"Good luck, " she said as they started out the door. "Watch your six."

"You too," Nathan said pausing beside her. The rest of the Cards were already our the door. Nathan squeezed her hand. She smiled and watched him leave.

Shane sat in the 58th's bunk for what seemed like hours. The silence ate at her nerves. She couldn't stay still much longer, but she knew that by leaving the bunk she was leaving her safe haven. She scolded herself. Her friends were out risking their lives, and she was afraid to stick her nose out of the bunk. She was a big girl. She could take care of herself.

At least, that's what she told herself. She headed out into the corridors, heading, without realizing it, for the bridge.

Subconsciously, she knew that was where McQueen would be. She felt as if she owed him an explanation.

She found the bridge in a state of controlled chaos. Orders were being barked in every direction. Shane suddenly found herself face to face with the Commodore. The man's eyes narrowed.

"Vansen! What the hell are you doing here?"

"I thought the Colonel was here."

"McQueen is over by the radio."

"Yes, sir." Vansen moved toward the aforesaid station. She was stopped short by the Commodore's restraining hand.

"Technically, you're awal, Vansen."

"Well then, sir. I guess I'll have to keep a low profile." Ross smiled. One hell of a solider, that girl. But she was still a girl. Ross thought that they got younger every year.

Shane made her way to stand by McQueen. He didn't even look at her to know she was there.

"Shouldn't you be out there?"

"I'm not a Wildcard anymore."

"The 97th's out there too."

"No one told me." They stood in silence as they listened to the chatter over the radio.

"The Cards need a fifth."

"Yeah, but as I said, I'm not a Card anymore."

"Vansen, once a Wildcard, always a Wildcard." Shane looked him straight in the eye.

"Vansen, suit up. Get to your plane."

"Yes, sir!"

Vansen shot out into space. Listening to the chatter over the radio, she headed for the 58th position.

Vansen locked on target. It was almost subconscious. She fired. The enemy plane exploded into a cloud of debris. Over the radio, a voice asked, "Thanks, who spammed 'em?"

Shane smiled, "Cut the chatter, Jack. King of Hearts, this is Queen of Diamonds. Request permission to join formation."

"Permission granted." The Wildcards were playing with a full deck.

The fight was short and sweet, at least the portion after Shane joined up. Back on the Saratoga was a different matter. Shane bounded out of her cockpit, feeling confident and in control once again.

Her relatively high spirits were dashed when a glaring Airforce pilot grabbed her roughly by the arm.

"What the hell were you doing?"

Shane glared at him. "Take your hands off me!"

The Wildcards' pits were almost in the landing bay.

"Sure, sweetheart, sure." His grip tightened. "Now answer my question."

Shane swung. Her fist slammed into his jaw. He went down, dragging Shane with him.

They fought. Shane was still kicking and biting when a pair of strong arms circled her waist and pulled her back. She was crying, she realized, but she didn't care. She needed to fight. She heard a far off voice.

"Shane, Shane!"

Shane tried to clear her head.

"Vansen! Listen, settle or you'll be sitting in the brig!" Nathan's voice was right in her ear.

Shane regained control. She realized she wasn't afraid anymore. She had fought back. She wasn't alone. She had people that cared about her.

She looked her antagonist straight in the eye. With all the disgust she could muster she muttered:

"Go to hell." She turned and walked away, Nathan right behind. In the hall she stopped and turned to him.

"Nathan, thank you."


"Shh. Go back to the bunk with the rest of the squad. I'm going to talk to Ross."

"Let me go with you."

Shane shook her head. "No, I need to do this by myself."

Nathan grinned. Shane's voice was full of its old confidence. He placed his hand on the side of her head and smiled. Shane smiled back.

Commodore Ross looked up to see Shane Vansen standing in front of his desk.


"Sir," Vansen gathered her courage. "I've come to log in with my squad."

"The 58th?"

"No, sir. I'm no longer a Wildcard." Ross was about to reply when a voice interrupted from the hatch.

"Don't you learn, Vansen? You're always a Wildcard." McQueen strode across the room and dropped a pad on Ross's desk. "Her new orders came through."

"Thank you, sir." Vansen whispered.

"I had nothing to do with it. Neither did the Commodore. Someone up top likes you." McQueen replied.

Ross smiled. "Welcome back."

"Your things will be transferred from the Crazy Horse. Right now, I suggest you get back to your squad before Hawkes gnaws through a bunk." Shane turned and left.

Sometime later, Shane once again gazed at the stars. It was almost comforting, to have her old dreams back instead of the horrible ones of recent nights. Almost.

She sensed someone behind her. Nathan.

"Same old ghosts?"

She smiled out into the void.

"Yeah," she leaned back into him, "but nothing I can't handle."

He rested his chin on her head. "I never had any doubts."


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