DISCLAIMER: The universe of Space: Above and Beyond is the property of Glen Morgan and James Wong and Hard Eight Productions, borrowed with all my love and admiration for their outstanding work and creativity, but nonetheless without permission. No copyright infringement intended.

Author's note: This ring is the shortest - I started writing it shortly before the last ep was aired in Germany and when I fell into a deep SWS depression afterwards, I didn't want to write for weeks. When I got back to it - I just stripped it off the end I had already written (the part after the dream sequence) and rewrote the end at least 20 times ... and I'm still not satisfied with it. But this ring became something I have to get over with...in every way. So, today I decided to leave it as you get it now (it's version No. 22, if I counted correctly...) :) Now, all I can hope is that the few sentences that make up the end are more or less self-explainatory... This is an experiment, remember.
This ring was inspired by the soundtrack of "The Piano", titles No1 "To The Edge Of The Earth" and No2 "Big My Secret"; the first ring, btw, was inspired by Beethoven's Symphony No3, "Eroica".

Susi Patzke

Tyrus was dreaming.

He would call it a nightmare - but not because of the horrible pictures one might expect to find in a nightmare. There were no pictures...just darkness. Pitch black darkness that was surrounding him. And no light to be seen anywhere. Not even a silver lining. Just darkness...And cold.

Maybe this was death?

If it was...well, then this was not what terrified him...if it was just for the darkness and the cold - he could have handled that. In fact, plain darkness and cold would have been a relief.....a relief from the one thing that made this re-occurring dream a nightmare.

His own voice.

He could hear it constantly reciting thoughts he couldn't still. Voicing sweet memories of the past. Certain moments - one in particular...

*I don't give a damn for destiny. Anyone worth a Chig's ass will take responsibility for asking themselves, and then answering Who am I, and, What's the point? My name is Lieutenant Colonel Tyrus Cassius McQueen. But I know nothing of who I am. The answer I feel, is near. The defining, perhaps final, moment, is close........*

The Chiggy von Richthofen fight...The dream didn't bring back the images of the battle in space...or the explosion that killed Winslow... the too many caskets being released into space onto their last journey, or any pictures at all ..No...all it did was bringing back the feeling of that particular moment in his life. The moment he had been waiting for. The defining moment ...when he finally would be able to fathom who he was. The excitement of feeling the answer come closer. Yearning for a sense in life, a meaning, a reason for everything he had to go through in the nearly 21 years of his life.

*.....Everyone, everyone in this life knows when the moment is before them. To turn away is simple. To ignore it assures survival. But it is an insult to life, because there can be no redemption, no second chance. Beyond death there's nothing. Just darkness. And cold......*

He knew he would do everything, sacrificing everything needed to make the moment happen and to fulfil his task. Confront his identity. To find out who he was. And he knew for sure that the enemy ace pilot was the key to all of that. Since he didn't believe in an after-life or God, this would remain his only chance to succeed. To seize the moment. Even though the picture didn't appear in his dream, Tyrus couldn't forget Ross, facing him on the flight deck just when he was about to take off to erase this Chig from the sky. Ross could have ordered him to stay, could have thrown him into the brig - but the commodore knew his InVitro friend. He could see in the colonel's flaring eyes that he was willing and determined to go all the way with this. No matter what. No order could have held him, no plea, no friend...maybe not even Tyrus himself. He simply HAD to go.

*.....The instant his existence was confirmed, every action, every breath of my life, became horrifying clear......*

Everything had fallen into place. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Why he was born a *tank*. Why he had to endure the five years in the mines. See the misery. See the dying. Why he re-upped for the Corps after he had served his time. Why he fought so hard. Why the humiliation had been. The harassment of IV's and him in particular, where ever he turned, even as a member of the Corps. Why he became part of the 127th. Why the Angry Angels had to die, with himself as the only survivor. Why he was assigned CO of the 58th so shortly thereafter. Why the Wildcards became the best squad around......and why Winslow had to die.....Winslow.

ALL THAT, just to prepare him. Prepare him for the moment. THIS moment. Realizing who and what he was by facing Chiggy von Richthofen. Because without the 21 years of preparation, filled with pain, tears, death, disappointments, few moments of joy and satisfaction, even love, there wouldn't be a Tyrus Cassius McQueen who was able and determined to go out and battle the enemy who had brought so much sorrow. Because: there wouldn't be the MARINE Tyrus Cassius McQueen was. The outstanding Marine he was. The outstanding CO he was. The outstanding pilot he was.....the special man he was. Not special in the meaning of better or superior, but special in the meaning of probed by life. Prepared by harassment, hurt, scattered dreams, tears, loneliness that functioned as the hot and raging fires that had formed him into hard steel, steel - ready to be used as a weapon. As a sword. AS A MARINE. And deeply buried in the core of the steel there was a heart of velvet. Ready to give. Ready to guide. Ready to love... Enabling him to grief, to feel anger, feel passion for people, the people he was responsible for...and he wasn't just responsible for the Marines under his command, but all people that relied on the military to protect them, them and their families back home.... The steel providing him with the means, and the velvet providing him with the motivation and determination to go out and do his job. Providing him with a reason to live...and a reason to die, if necessary.

And so, he went out to encounter CvRichthofen...and came back as a man who had finally found an answer.

*...... I know now with certainty who I am......*


..And as always THAT was the moment the dream turned into a nightmare...

Because as always THAT was the moment he woke up.

Not on board the SARATOGA but in a hospital room on Earth, mutilated with just one leg left...one leg...only one...Then he usually looked down his body...and all he saw was...his future.

All he saw was.....fear.

end of the second ring...

The sequel to this story is The Third Ring *Triumph* also avaliable at this site.

Next : Book III - The Third Ring - Triumph
Previous : Book I - The First Ring - Pain

Susi Patzke