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: Well, let me apologize for this ring in advance. I confess I completely lost it while I was writing. Therefore - what you're about to read is not to be taken *too* seriously :) Even though I didn't plan on the style of this ring that I ended up with, I do believe, though, after the gut-wrenching and very intense first two rings I needed that kind of distraction. If you think after reading this - that I've gone completely crazy, that's okay. SO DO I !!! :) I promise to return to my serious self in the last two rings.
This piece is based on my belief that our personality is built by several different character aspects. We all have a rational side, an illogical- emotional side, a fearful one...and so on. And now imagine McQueen's different sides in an argument... :) :) And for the Germans among you - do you remember Otto's joke with the argument involving brain, liver, stomach and blood pressure? :) Bwahahahahahaha !!!! And don't flame me...this is not supposed to be funny! :) :) :) :) :)

Susi Patzke

*triumph* can be found in many forms and shapes. It can be the victory of a war or a battle. Can be the passing of a test. Can be the success in gaining someone's attention. Or it can be the realization of having overcome a personal demon that used to paralyse you - and that you now turned into a tool to help you make the first step towards your newly discovered life.

Or - in your case - to make the first step with a newly attached artificial Silicate leg.....

When doctors first suggested this alternative of a substitution for his missing leg, McQueen blew off right away and threw them out of the room...Well, as good as he could in his handicapped condition. But everyone who knows the Colonel just a tiny little bit is well aware of his ability to let Hell's Fire freeze over with just a single glare. Therefore, the consulting doctors decided to prolong their lives' expectency by leaving the room quickly without any further discussion.

Being left back in the room by himself, McQueen was upset. Quite upset.

His head said YES.

His gut said NO.

HEAD: I don't think the idea is *that* bad...
GUT: WHAT ??!!! Didn't you hear that? Them bloody fools of rehab doctors want to use a *Silicate* leg !!
HEAD: Sure, I did. If you asked me - that's the best option.
GUT: Don't you know what the AI`s did to us???
HEAD: Yes, I do. Remember - I was there. So, of course, I know.
GUT: So, how in hell can you tell me to go and embrace those fucking' silicates?
HEAD (shakes head): Boy, I'm not telling you to marry one...just get one of their legs!
GUT: That's pretty much the same deal, isn't it?
HEAD: No, it's not.
GUT: As if I'm not having enough trouble knowing WHO I am...Now you tell me to get a Silicate leg and become one of them...I'll never do that!
HEAD: You're a complete idiot, Ty, do you know that?
GUT: Better be an idiot than half AI!
HEAD (snorting sarcastically): Well, at least you're good at *that*!
GUT (icy glare): Leave me alone.
HEAD: hehehehehe - now, buddy, that would be quite a nice little problem! I am you, you are me... And put down that stare - you can't stare down yourself!
GUT (resigning sigh): Okay, okay...Just..look, leave me alone...I really don't think this is funny...
HEAD: No, of couse, it's not. How could it? We jumped right into that blast and sacrificed everything we ever had - career, home...family... No, there's definitely *no* fun in this.
GUT: Then would you please stop hopping around on my nerves?
HEAD: And leave you alone - pouting? Self-loathing? Telling yourself what good a littel soldier we've been back then - and how badly we've been treated by fate? I always thought we both don't believe in fate.... Wasn't that what we agreed on?
GUT: .....
HEAD: Y'see? So, tell me exactly why this possibility is giving you such a bad day.
GUT: I hate everything that has to do *anything* with the silicates, you know that. I simply can't imagine to have one of their legs. That would be like...like...
HEAD: You mean, like you owed them something?
GUT (slight nod): Yeah. And I'd rather go to hell than be in a situation to *owe* something to a silicate.
HEAD: Well, I understand you. Believe me - I really do. But look at that *situation*, as you call it, for a moment without blowing off immediately. Lemme see...you said, you have trouble knowing who you are. But, be honest - we two know exactly who we are. Tyrus Cassius McQueen is a Marine, right? Took us some time to find out but now we know.
GUT: Yeah, but we ain't no longer.
HEAD: Would you please let me finish? That's exactly the problem, isn't it? After such a long time an so much effort, so much pain and sacrifices to discover what the sense in life is - at least for us - it was taken from us in a matter of seconds. All the years of preparation, of learning, of obeying - just to throw it all away for that geek from Aerotech? Who was responsible for this war? He didn't deserve this sacrifice, did he?
GUT: I can't believe I really did this...for *him*...
HEAD: Hmmm...ya...but you should take something into consideration: what would have happened if you didn't go for the Chig?
GUT (frowning): I dunno. What do you mean?
HEAD (smiling): Well, it's quite simple. You would sit here as well, probably as well with just one leg left. But THEN - you would have a *real* reason for self-loathing.
GUT: I still don't get it.
HEAD: Because then - you would have betrayed everything you ever believed in. Everthing you - no, WE - ever considered important to us. Duty, responsibility as a Marine...Isn't that what we taught the kids?
GUT: Yeah...but where did it lead them? Only two of them survived that day. We're responsible for the deaths of the other three.
HEAD (moans): Now, listen CFB: First of all - we are responsible for those two *surviving* the whole incident. We are responsible for their examplary actions that day - risking their lives and those of their team mates to get the settlers to the SARATOGA - to safety. That's what they were trained for. What they are good for. *THAT'S* what we taught them. And we can be real proud of them. And of *us* for doing such a great job on them. SECOND, neither you nor me are responsible for the deaths of the other three. After all we heard from West about Wang and Vansen, what else could they have done , huh? Do you think Vansen should have jettisoned herself out of the cockpit and leave Damphousse behind? Should have Wang endangered West, Hawkes and the settlers just for his own good? Is that what they should have done in your opinion?
GUT (very quietly): At least then they would still be alive today...
HEAD (equally quiet now): Yes, I know...Everything would be easier if they were still around...
GUT: I miss them...I never thought I would miss them that much...
HEAD: So do I...
(They stop arguing for a moment)
HEAD: I wish they were here. *All* of them. But not for ANY price. Having them run like cowards to safe their own lives...No, I rather see them dead and honorable than alive and in shame by betraying the Corps...by betraying *us*...
GUT: But it hurts so badly...
HEAD: Yeah...and nothing will stop the pain. It's there...We better get used to it.
GUT: I don't know if I can ever get used to *that*...living without them...
HEAD (now determinedly) Well, that's what I'm talking about. Who says we *have* to live without them? Who says that?
GUT (irritatedly) Well, Cooper and Nathan are on the SARATOGA. The rest is dead...We are back here on Earth with just one leg and a million years away form the possibility of getting back to duty, not to mention the 'TOGA...
HEAD: There you go again, you pinhead! Didn't you listen to what the doctors were trying to explain? They said the chances to attach that artificial leg perfectly are great. AND they said - given the overall outstanding condition our body is in - it could be more than only *possible* to get back to our former self!
GUT: Yeah, right. But you said it yourself - they only said *could be* likely. There's no guarantee.
HEAD: Of course, there's none!!! The only guarantee in life you ever get is that you will day one day! And condering myself - I'm not dead *yet*! And if I get the chance - and if it's just one in 10 millions - to get back on my feet like I was able to before the explosion, I tell you - I take that chance and do it! And when I'm done, I'll pass the physical requirements test and *walk* back to the SARATOGA if needed!! And then I'll find Shane and Vanessa. I don't think there's any hope for Paul...but I won't give up on those two fine young ladies...our girls! They've been through worse before...
GUT (finally interested): You think they could still be alive? They had a realistic chance of surviving the crash?
HEAD: Well, the odds are agianst them. It's just like with the leg - there's no guarantee here as well. But I know they would have tried...And can we do any less? Can we really sit here, pouting and loathing, and NOT try to find them?
GUT: ...No...
HEAD: Then I'd say - let's go for the silicate leg! And if you still feel bad because of it, try to see it this way: it's payback time! This way we let the AI's pay back the debts the towered up by torturing us. We'll use them just like they used us. Only this time it'll be us who gain something.
GUT: It won't change the way I think about them...
HEAD (laughs): WHOA!!! I hope it doesn't !!! Because they are the ones who did such cruel things to us - and they always will be. Don't you ever dare to forget that! But I want my kids back - and I'm ready to pay - if the leg's the price.
GUT (ponders for a moment): Yeah...ya...I want those kids back as well.. I need them - and they need us. (then nods determinedly) You're right. You're absolutely right! The heck with the AI's !!! Let's do it - for the kids!

McQueen raised his head. *For the kids...* he thought. Then he reached for the bell handle and called the nurse.

When he woke up after the procedure, the first thing he did was taking a look at his newly attached leg.

His first impression was......

GUT: Wheeew!!
HEAD. Uuuhhhh!!
GUT: This gives me the creeps.
HEAD: Hmmm...
GUT: You're still sure this was such a good idea..?
HEAD: Time will show...But you're right...this *thing* ...it weirds me out on so many levels...
(They look at each other and smile knowingly)
HEAD (takes a deep breath): Sooo...that's it. This is now *our* leg. It belongs to us. It's no longer a silicate leg, understood? We'll use it. Forget about the AI's - at least for now. We've got some work to do.
GUT (winces): It'll take me some time to see it with your eyes, though...
HEAD: That's okay - as long as you're with me on the walking thing.
GUT (wiggles with his eyebrows): Well, I'm here, the *six-million-dollar- InVitro*! HEAD (grimaces): Ooh - good to see you didn't lose your humor along the way. GUT: Hehehehehe, if I had to rely on *you* for the humor...Good grief!
HEAD (sighs): What have I done to deserve this?

Only a few days later it was time to test the artificial limb.

Doctors had been quite a bit surprised about the obvious change in the Colonel's spirits and behaviour...and his newly discovered sense of cooperation. It made things easier. A *lot* easier. So, they didn't argue with him when he insisted on starting walking exercises as soon as possible.

McQueen refused any help when he got up for the first time. He concentrated on laying all his strength in his arms which should lift him up on his *two* feet. He took a deep breath and did it.

He got up. He stood...on his feet...for the first time since the bomb exploded on the SARATOGA. And completely without anyone's help. Adrenaline rushed through his veins. The image of finally standing again gave him the feeling of triumph. He had fought himself - and had won. No matter what it would take from now - this battle was won. He stood.

In this moment - when he stood there - he promised himself one thing: And if it cost his life - he would make his way back to his kids.


end of the third ring...

Previous : Book II - The Second Ring - Fear

Susi Patzke