All characters and plot devices that are taken from Space: Above & Beyond, are property of its writes, producers and owners of the series. Quotes from Te-Tao Ching by Lao-Tzu, translation by Robert G. Henricks; quote from Invictus by William Ernest Henley; quote from Much Ado About Nothing by Wm Shakespeare; quote from The Book Of The Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, translation by Thomas Cleary; all used with out permission, no copyright infringements intended. The movie that is mentioned is Love In The Afternoon.

Rating R (sex and language in general)

Voices In The Dark


Phyllis Christie

   The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

                                                                                from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Catalina Island February 10, 2064

Patsy sat on the porch swing. The sun had set long ago, and the stars were out. Upstairs, in the house, Frank Savage was packing. He had said he would be staying a week, but it had only been two days, when the message had arrived. Now, he would be off again, at first light.

“Patsy, I’m sorry,” the tall general came out on the porch and joined the woman who he had come to care about more then he ever thought possible. “I have to be going much sooner than we planned, but before I go, there is something we need to talk about.”

“What’s the matter?” Patsy had seen the way Savage reacted to the message when it arrived. He was worried and was trying not to show it. “Is Jenny all right?”

“I haven’t heard anything to the contrary, but this does have to do with her, in a round-about way.” Frank hated to bring Patsy into this, but she was the only source of information he had. “Early this evening the In-Vitro Health Facility was blown-up.”

“No!” Patsy’s mind went blank, “was anyone hurt?”

“The Facility has been empty of patients since all of the doctors that ran it ‘volunteered’ for space assignments, due to the war.” The General had been shocked at the blatant lie that had been printed about the closing of the Facility, when he researched the matter on returning from Kordis. “There’s a night watchman who’s missing and feared dead.”

“Why would anyone want to blow up the building?” Patsy stared at the stars as she had seen Jenny do so often when she was on medical leave.

“That’s what I wanted to ask you about,” Savage rubbed the woman’s shoulders with his one good hand. “It looks as if the place was broken into before the bombing. A neighbor saw lights in the office area about thirty minutes before the explosion.”

“I don’t understand any of this Frank,” Patsy shook her head. “The Health Facility was there for eight years. That’s the reason Jenny joined the Navy. The only people with funds for in-vitro research were Aerotech and the Navy. She couldn’t stomach Aerotech, and she believed in the work they were doing at the Facility.”

“How long was Jenny assigned there?” He probed.

“She worked there for almost six years, if you count the time she volunteered during her surgical residency. The Navy had her officially stationed there for almost four years, then she was sent to the training center on the moon, for six months. After that she was at Loxley for almost a year. Why are you asking?” Patsy had been questioned by the best in her younger years, she didn’t like the feeling she was getting from the man sitting next to her.

“I’m looking for a pattern here, that’s all,” he shrugged. “Was it Jenny’s book that caused the Navy to send her to the Moonbase? That’s not usually an assignment given to a research doctor, no matter how good a surgeon they are.”

“That’s what I always assumed, and I heard a friend of hers say the same,” turning, she met dark eyes, that she had seen full of affection, but that were now cold. “What aren’t you telling me? And don’t give me that need to know business. If it concerns Jenny, I need to know!”


“You listen to me, Frank Savage,” Patsy had enough of being protected. She was created to be a warrior. Her blood was singing for a battle, and here she was being coddled like a child. “If this is something that could hurt either you or Jenny, I have a right to know.”

“Remember the communications chip I told you about from Kordis? It was a record of all the radio activity from the air strip. When I was going over it the last time, I found an incongruity. At first, it seemed to be nothing. Just in case, I took it to a friend of mine, and he did a bit of searching. What he found was an AI-coded transmission, that was sent from our radio-bunker,” Savage spoke softly, the night enveloping them.

“But who? Why?” Patsy was outraged. “What did the message say?”

“The who, I don’t know. The why, I’m not sure. The timing is such, that it looks as if it was an attempt to kill Jenny, and make it look as if she died in battle.” Savage was relieved to be able to talk to someone about this, but he was worried that he was putting Patsy in more danger. “I had just sent my third plea to have Jenny transferred off of Kordis. Within two hours we had our hands full keeping the Chigs off our backs. Unfortunately, we have no way to decode the message, so we don’t know what it said.”

“Maybe it was just a coincidence?” Patsy wanted badly to believe it was.

“We had been too well hidden, for too long,” this had eaten at Savage for a long time. “I never understood how they could just surprise us like they did.”

“If someone would have a unit of men wiped out to kill Jenny, then what’s to stop them from taking out the Saratoga?” Patsy didn’t doubt that Frank was telling her the truth. “What I don’t understand is why anyone would want to kill her? She never hurt anyone in her life.”

“If we can figure that out,” Frank smiled. “Then it should lead us to who might be after her.”

“Tell me what I can do to help?” She would do anything to help the woman who was like a daughter to her.

“I want to go over the last two or three years of Jenny’s life, tell me anything you can, no matter how insignificant it may seem. We may be able to find a pattern.” He leaned over and caressed her cheek, “you know that isn’t how I wanted to spend tonight, don’t you?”

“I know,” Patsy whispered, then found her voice again. “Tell me again that Jenny’s safe where she is.”

“Glen Ross is a friend of mine. He runs a tight ship, besides, I think he’s placed her in a squad where she’ll get extra protection.” Savage smiled as he remembered a cool-eyed Colonel, who looked at Jenny in a possessive way. “You wouldn’t know a Lt. Col. Tyrus McQueen, would you?”

“McQueen? I knew him,” Patsy wondered what was going on. “It was almost a relief when Jenny got the telegram from the Marines telling us he was dead. The waiting to hear just about killed her.”

“Are we talking about the same man?” Frank wondered, “he was with the Angry Angels, in-vitro, about six feet tall, silver hair, doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s worth listening to?”

“That’s him,” Patsy frowned. “Did you know him?”

“I know him *now*. It was his squad that pulled us off Kordis. He’s very much alive.” Frank grinned at her, “Technically he’s Jenny’s commanding officer, but unless she’s changed in the last month or two, I think it’ll be a battle to see who runs the show. There’s something between them, isn’t there?”

“It isn’t what you’re thinking,” Patsy shook her head. “But there was something there. At first, he was her patient, so she never let herself see what she was feeling. Then when she was assigned to the Angry Angels, I don’t know,..... they were friends, but....? I would watch them together, it was like watching two people shadow box. If he’s the one who’s looking out for Jenny, she won’t come to any physical harm.”

“But you’re worried that he might hurt her in other ways?” Savage wondered if it would have been better to have had Jenny assigned to him, as his personal doctor. He could have watched her back, but at the time he didn’t think it was necessary.

“He wouldn’t do it on purpose,” it was easy for Patsy to say these things in the dark, and maybe it would help Frank understand her a bit better. “He’s an in-vitro with a capital ‘I’. The kind that has learned to survive by holding himself apart, keeping any emotions he might feel tight within him.”

“That’s not like you at all,” Savage leaned close and kissed her cheek.

“No, I had Jenny. She taught me so much, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to teach her about the caring of a woman for a men.” Holding his face close enough so she could see his eyes in the black of night. “I didn’t discover until recently that I didn’t understand it myself.”

“That’s not such a bad thing.” Savage whispered.

“You just say that because you like being the man who taught me about it,” Patsy kidded. “But, Jenny trusted McQueen from the day she met him. He was in detox for Green Meanies at the time. The doctor in Jenny didn’t let her see the man. It was the man she trusted, not the patient, but she didn’t realize it, let alone understand it. I’m not sure she even understood in that year she was with the Angels. They would come here all the time to sail, but....I don’t know?” Patsy shrugged and shook her head. “When she was hurt at an In-Vitro Rights rally, he pulled away from her. It only added to her confusion and hurt. She watched the battle that killed the Angry Angels from the deck of her boat. I don’t know how she was able to bring the *Windswept* in. She walked around here like she had died with her squad. When she got the telegram, she packed and left. I haven’t seen her since.”

“All the more reason we need to get this thing solved,” Frank brought the subject back to where it began. “Start from the beginning and tell me all you know about Jenny’s actions since just before she started writing The In-Vitro Chronicles.”

Frank and Patsy sat on the swing and talked late into the night.

“Does Jenny have anything around here from her research for the book?” Savage stood and stretched. “I can’t help wondering if that might be what someone was trying to destroy when they bombed the Facility.”

“Yes, all her research is filed away in her desk,” Patsy stood with Savage’s help, her injured right leg not wanting to hold her weight.

“Can you pack it up for me?” Savaged watched the woman he cared about work to get her balance. “I want to send it by my special courier to Jenny. She’s the one to go through it, to see if there’s something there worth killing all those people for. And I’ll feel safer if it isn’t in the house with you.”

“It’ll only take a few minutes,” Patsy took a tentative step, glad her knee would hold her. “It’s all on compressed disks.”

“I need to make a phone call. I’m putting off my departure until Mark Gomez can get here. He’s been my attache for years,” holding Patsy’s hand and giving it a squeeze. “You can trust him. He’s the man who went over the crystal for me and found the hidden signal.”

“Frank, wouldn’t it be easier to just turn this all over to Diane Hayden?” Patsy was worried about meeting a person who meant so much to Savage. “How is this man going to feel about me?”

“It would be easier, but not safer. With all I’ve learned, I don’t trust Hayden, anymore. Especially since she’s become engaged to Stryker. That man is not what he seems,” he could feel Patsy digested the information. “Don’t worry about Mark. I want him here to keep you safe, while I’m gone.”

“I do worry about him,” Patsy sighed, knowing this would be the first test of their relationship, and glad for the covering of the darkest part of night. “I am still an in-vitro. I would imagine that anyone on your staff, would have your political leanings. You were a major supporter of Nicholas Chaput. You never made any secret of your dislike for in-vitros.”

“No, but I was wrong,” he reached for Patsy and held her face in his one good hand. “I was very wrong. People like you, Jenny, McQueen and some other amazing people taught me how wrong I was. I had judged all in-vitros by the actions of one, who had gotten a number of men killed in my squad in the AI war. And no, I don’t think all in-vitros are perfect, just because I am in love with one, anymore then I think all natural-borns are perfect.”


“Yes I said ‘love’, I wasn’t planning on springing it on you so fast, but get used to it,” he leaned in and kissed her. “We’ll work it out as we go along. Now, I need to make that phone call.”

February 12, 2064, New York - Diane Hayden’s working residence

Diane Hayden relaxed in bed. She had the drowsy feeling of a woman well sated by love making. Smiling she realized that she and Carleton did their most creative planning at times like this. Maybe it was because when they lay in the dark, their bodies so close, it bound them tighter together. She was blind since birth, and lived in a world of mostly dark and shades of gray. With the two of them wrapped in the cocoon of darkness, their voices low, it brought him closer to her, than in planning sessions in the light of day.

“I didn’t find anything when I checked out the offices of the Facility,” Stryker whispered. He had searched Diane’s bedroom for bugging devices, but he was still careful not to raise his voice. “If there was anything on the property, it’s gone now. The fire following the explosion, turned everything to ash.”

“It should look like just another terrorist action against in-vitros,” Diane grinned. “I’ll make a scathing statement against it in tomorrow’s news briefing. You should be standing beside me, looking equally upset.”

“It was a stroke of genius, when you quoted from Kirkwood’s book at your inauguration,” Stryker laughed. “You were the perfect indignant In-Vitro Rights Leader, throwing out the Loyalty Testing, like you did. We couldn’t have anyone looking too closely at those test sessions. Especially, after what happened on the Saratoga.” It still made Stryker angry to think that he had taken the chance of being exposed. Making the trip out there to administer the drug and mind influencing to that in-vitro Marine, himself, and for nothing. Chaput had survived.

“Thank goodness for Thompson, Chaput’s bodyguard. We were smart to be sure he never knew where his orders were coming from. He ended up the fall guy for both assassination attempts,” Diane snuggled closer to Stryker. “But it was still too close for my liking.”

“You worry too much Di,” he kissed her forehead. “I’ve always been very careful to keep my real feelings about Tanks a secret, just as you have. Yes, I have my little forays to torment Equal Rights workers, but I’m always very careful. I’ve even got two Tanks working on my staff,” he laughed at the irony of it.

“Are they the last of the ‘mind influenced’ ones?”

“Yes, too bad we couldn’t have kept more of them around. It was so easy to kill Chartwell and shift the blame by using one of them. No one looked further.” He had modeled his plan after Hitler. Find a minority and place all the blame on them. Using it to bind a divided country and build a political base for himself and Diane, but he hadn’t gotten that far.

As soon as Diane was elected, he had planned for them to come out as the voice of reason against Tanks. What would be more damning? Two people who had in the past, appeared, to be pro-in-vitro to change their positions because of the killings of Chartwell and Chaput at the hands of Tanks. Stryker could feel the resentment against ‘those doctors’ again. They had ruined a perfectly good plan. Once they got involved, he and Diane had to move quickly to make sure none of it came back to them. “I can’t believe it was that ass Chaput who helped us by instigating the loyalty testing. It kept everyone angry. Giving us time to kill off any of them that might be a problem and make it look like retribution by angered natural borns.”

“He may be an ass, but we need to keep an eye on him,” Diane shifted to rub against the man she loved. “He’s not stupid. Too bad, we weren’t able to kill him. A third attempt on his life, would be too dangerous.”

“Have you heard anything from your AI friend?” Stryker nibbled at her ear.

“No, he was only supposed to send the one message. I am assuming that no news is good news. The reports I’m getting from the front are still full of Chiggy Von Richthofen,” Diane felt Carleton shiver as she moved closer to him. They both found power to be a very strong aphrodisiac.

“Do you think the Chigs realize the AI’s are really working for us?” The man whispered as he shifted above her.

“No,” Diane purred as she felt his skin against hers. “No more than anyone realizes that my greatest wish is to pound those bugs into oblivion, instead of make peace with them. Even the AI we sent to take care of Sewell thought I was doing it as a gesture toward peace negotiations with the Chigs. Sewell’s life and the return of the ore in exchange for opening a private dialogue with them.”

“When this all hits the fan, Aerotech and E. Allan Wayne will take the blame and we will be there to pick up the riches,” Carleton nibbled at her ear. “With some careful guidance from us, Aerotech will topple and we’ll be in the clear.”

“The timing is the question,” Diane whispered, as her hands moved over his back. “We should make use of the AI’s for as long as possible, they are a wonderful source of information and so handy for doing little odd jobs. Is the virus ready in case we need to terminate them sooner than we had planned?”

“Yes, my dear, all we need to do is push a button and it’ll be downloaded into their mainframe. Within a few days they will begin to sicken and die. I’ve tested a lighter dose version on a planet in one of the outer sectors.” Stryker smiled as he remembered the surprise on the faces of those machine/men. “They began to feel emotions as they became weaker not realizing that the emotions were draining their power cells.”

“I would have loved to see that,” Hayden’s throaty laugh filled the room as her hands moved up and down Stryker's back. “Think of all we’ve done, Carl. In the last ten years we have risen from obscurity and poverty to this.” With one hand she indicated the room around her.

“We did it together,” he caressed and kissed her throat as he began to work his way to her breasts. “You discovered the failsafe that Aerotech built into many of the in-vitro DNA structures it was creating. I uncovered the truth about the ore sample that Aerotech has had hidden in its Space Science Labs since the turn of the century.”

“Ohhhh, that feels so good,” Diane rocked against the man who was sending wild sensations through her body. “Tell me Carl, please tell me the story that excites me so.”

Stryker laughed, he loved to see the most powerful woman in the world reduced to quivering passion and just for him.

“We will take over what’s left of Aerotech when it falls, for starting a war with the Chigs over Sewell Fuel.” He leaned down and began kissing his way down her body. “Once the Chigs are wiped from the universe, the Fuel and at least two planets that are rich with it will be ours. When Earth discovers Aerotech’s duplicity, the powerful Hayden/Stryker team will guide a weary Earth to peace. If the AI’s try to give us any trouble, I’ve got the virus ready to send their way. When we are truly at the top, will be time to bring the damn Tanks back under control, by using the genetic back-up plan that was added to their DNA structure. Earth will belong to human’s again and we will rule it. Growing richer with each planet that comes under our control.” He punctuated the last few words by biting his way down her neck and across her breasts.

“Not yet Di, not yet,” he called out as he pulled back from her. He loved hearing her gasping in the dark, it added to his feelings of power, which added to his own enjoyment. “We have a long way to go before we finish.”

He had introduced her to the seamer side of love making. It thrilled him to see her, always so cool and calm, out of control under his hands. She was the perfect lady, with passion that no one had been able to reach, until he came along. For him she was anything but a lady and it gave them both such pleasure. *”Now which should it be tonight,*” he thought as he opened the drawer they always kept locked, beside the bed.

“Yes we have a very long night, my love,” he murmured as he cuffed her hands to the headboard and was rewarded with her gasp of surprise.

The Saratoga February 17, 2064

The Tun Tavern was doing it’s usual brisk business on a Saturday night. The Wildcards were sitting at their table playing another in an endless series of poker games, when Jenny Kirkwood joined them.

“Hi guys, room for one more?” She smiled and moved a chair between Vansen and Damphousse.

“Sure, we’ll take anyone’s money, you know that,” Wang tossed in his cards in disgust. That left McQueen and Hawkes to fight it out.

“I’ll be right back, I’m going to get something from the bar, anyone want something while I’m up?

“You buyin’, Lady-Doc?” Hawkes grinned at her.

“In you’re dreams Hawkes,” she giggled at the young man as she turned toward the bar.

McQueen sat with his squad, thankful that Jen hadn’t pulled her chair next to him and that he had the forethought to order a beer tonight, instead of scotch. His eyes watched the the small woman move through the crowd to the bar, then turned his attention back to his cards.

Laughing at a joke the bartender told her, Jen turned, still talking over her shoulder to the woman behind the bar, and headed back to her table, wine glass in hand. She didn’t see the big, rather drunk Marine who was in her path and ran right into him.

“Hi there, you cute thing.” The surprised young man said to the woman who filled his arms.

“Pardon me,” Jenny looked up and stepped away from him.

“That’s okay, darlin’, you’re the softest thing I’ve felt in a long time,” he grinned at her as his hands moved to keep her from getting away from him.

“Sargent, you have the wrong idea,” Jenny put steel into her voice as she stepped away from him. “Move out of my way and I’ll forget this incident happened.”

“You sure I can’t change your mind about that, little darlin’?” The Marine reached for Jenny again.

“That is little darlin’ Ma’am to you, Sargent!” Jenny ground out in her best imitation of McQueen. “Stand at attention when I am addressing you!”

At the table across the room, McQueen’s eyes froze and his hands tightened around his cards, as he watched a young Marine try to back Jen against the bar. “Vansen, Damphousse, over there?” He motioned with his head, while never taking his eyes off the woman at the bar. Every instinct in him shouted to get up and pull the man away from Jen, but he knew that if any of the male 58th backed her up, it would end in a fight. “See what you can do, we’ll watch your six. I don’t want her in a bar fight! Understood?”

“Yes sir,” the two young women took off, knowing why they had been sent.

“I never would’ve pegged McQueen for a male chauvinist,” Phousse whispered to her friend as they wove their way through the crowd.

“Do you need any help here, Lieutenant Commander?” Shane thought Jenny had things pretty well in hand, but she wasn't taking any chances.

“Thank you, Lieutenants,” Jenny smiled at the women who had come to her aid. “I was just explaining to the Sargent, that if he didn’t want to find himself with a bilateral orchectomy in the morning, he would let me pass.”

“An orchid-what-a-me?” The drunk Marine was confused, but pleased finding himself surrounded by lovely women.

“Lets just put it this way,” Jenny grinned an evil grin. “You would be singing soprano for the rest of your life. Shall we go back to our cards, Lieutenants?”

“Sargent, you need to be careful of this woman.” ‘Phouse’s eyes danced as she whispered, “she’s been known to take off a man’s arm with a k-bar.”

“Aaa, Ma’am,” the young Marine turned white, as the three women moved around him. “I..a..thought you were, well were...”

“I wasn’t! Dismissed Sargent,” Jenny kept her face ridged as the young man moved quickly away, though she fought the laughter that was building up inside. “Is that what you guys call a strategic redeployment to the rear?”

“You mean a retreat!” Shane laughed, pointing to the frightened young man moving quickly away from them.

“Thanks guys, but I really did have it covered,” Jenny sipped her drink as they pushed through the crowd.

“We figured you probably did,” ‘Phousse laughed.

“But the Colonel didn’t like the looks of what was happening,” Shane looked back at Jenny and shrugged as if to say *‘men, who can understand ‘em?’* The congestion in the bar bringing the women to a stand-still.

“Oh, no,” Jenny muttered as she looked over at the table. McQueen had relaxed his hold on his cards, but he was still watching her with unreadable eyes.

“The Colonel takes care of his own, Ma’am,” ‘Phousse patted the older woman on the arm as they began to move again.

“Pardon?” Jenny stopped, pulling Vanessa to a halt.

“You’re one of us,” ‘Phousse shrugged. “McQueen watches out for the Wildcards. That includes you too.”

Later that evening, McQueen looked up from his cards and found Commodore Ross standing in the door to the Tun, worry evident on his face, until his eyes met McQueen’s. Ross nodded slightly to the Colonel, then shifted his glance to Jenny. Nodded his head and motioned for them both to join him.

“You’ll have to excuse us,” McQueen folded his cards. “Jen, I think think we’re needed elsewhere.”

Jenny followed McQueen’s gaze and bit her lip at the lack of expression on Glen Ross’ face. This felt too familiar for comfort.

“My office, you two,” Ross turned as Jenny and McQueen followed him.

Jenny didn’t say a word but she felt her insides quake as they walked in silence. *”This can’t be good,”* she thought. As she tried to empty her mind of worry, a firm hand gripped her shoulder from behind. She reached up, instinctively covering McQueen’s hand where it rested on her shoulder. Silently thanking him for the moment of reassurance, before they separated and kept on walking.

“I want to thank you both for coming so quickly,” Ross took a seat in the lounge area of his office. He indicated for Jenny and McQueen to make themselves comfortable on the couch facing him. “I’ve had more news from General Savage, Jenny.”

“I was afraid of that,” she gripped her hands to keep from playing with her bracelet.

“Doctor,” Ross began. “This is still classified. I would like Colonel McQueen in on this conversation, not only because he’s your commanding officer, but I trust his judgment. Since this is a personal matter as well as a military one, I’m leaving the choice up to you. I can fill him in on the pertinent data later.”

“A..., Ty?” Jenny turned to McQueen. Troubled gray eyes met clear blue ones. She was frightened and wanted him here, but asking for help wasn’t part of her upbringing.

“I’m here for you, Jen,” McQueen saw fear and doubt cross her face, replaced by relief at his words.

Ross watched the silent communication that was going on between his friend and the Doctor. The air of intimacy that surrounded the two, was almost palpable. Just as quickly as it had arisen, it disappeared when a loud thump from the corridor brought the two people back to the present.

“As long as the Colonel is in agreement, I would like him in on this,” Jenny began to babble, a sure sign she was nervous. McQueen sat back, his usual calm restored.

“All right then,” Ross reached for the packet that had come less than an hour ago. “There is no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it. A few days ago, the building that was the In-Vitro Health Facility was bombed and burned to the ground.”

“No!” Jenny gasped. “Was anyone hurt?”

“The night watchman is unaccounted for and presumed dead,” Ross was as gentle as he could be but he knew this wasn’t going to be easy for her.

“What’s the Navy doing to find who ever did this?” Jen demanded.

“I’m afraid the Navy has bigger fish to fry,” Ross shrugged. “We have a war on. The building was empty of all Navy personnel and they had been renting it to begin with, so it isn’t much of a priority.”

“Sir, is this considered another terrorist attack on In-Vitro Rights workers?” McQueen was afraid this was following the pattern that had started in Houston.

“I was just getting to that,” Ross pulled opened the packet he had been holding. “This is a letter from General Savage. He thinks there is more to this bombing then just a terrorist act. One of the neighbors saw lights on in the third floor office area of the building. It could be nothing, then again it could be something. You are the only one alive who can tell us what was kept in those offices, Doctor.”

“The third floor was all personal offices,” Jen thought hard to be sure she wasn’t missing something. “We didn’t even keep patient files there, unless it was someone we were seeing that day. Medical Records was in the basement.”

“What about any research any of you were working on?” Ross probed.

“There was never much funding for research,” Jen shook her head. “It always seemed as if we needed every penny for patient care. There was the occasional grant, but nothing big. The offices on the third floor were where we saw patients and conducted any business. We used them when we met with visiting Brass and family members of patients when it was called for. And, of course the press, on occasions. Our real work was done in a number of small offices scattered through out the building.”

“Where did you do your research?” Ross questioned.

“I hadn’t been stationed there in eighteen months, before the war,” Jen tried to remember if she had left anything of importance in the building. “I used the call room off the detox ward to do most of my work. If a file was really important, I kept it in my briefcase, with a back-up copy at home. The computers were all encrypted so that we could use a terminal in any of the offices. I don’t know what the others were working on when we were sent our separate ways. I had been waiting to hear from a number of grant proposals that went by the wayside when I was sent to Moonbase.”

“What about your research for The In-Vitro Chronicles?” Ross spoke softly into the silence.

“Oh my God!” Jenny sat forward, all her attention on Ross. “But that was years ago. There isn’t anything in that.........Oh NO, all of that is stored in my desk at home on Catalina......We have to get Patsy out of there!”

“No, it isn’t, it’s here,” Ross smiled as he opened the package and pulled out a small stack of mini-disks. “And Frank is taking care of Patsy. He’ll keep her safe.”

“But I don’t understand,” Jen looked from Ross to McQueen. “I can’t think of anything in the research or my book that isn’t already a matter of public record. Anyone with the computer skills of a first grader can access any of it.”

“Jenny, this is the only clue we have to go on,” Ross patted her hand, realizing she was keeping a tight reign on her emotions. “General Savage wants you to go over these records with a fine tooth comb. There may be something in here that you don’t know you’ve got.”

“What a fool I was,” Jen ground out. “All those years ago, you were right, Ty. I can still remember my righteous indignation, when you and Patsy tried to talk me out of writing that book. Then I walked off in a huff, so convinced that I was going to open the eyes of the world to a terrible wrong. All along it was my eyes that needed to be opened!”

“Stop it, Jen,” McQueen gave her shoulders a gentle shake. Both the man and the woman had forgotten Ross was sitting across from them. “For all we know your research isn’t what they were after.”

“Can you tell me honestly that you believe that?” Jen shot back.

“The pattern is suspect,” McQueen agreed. “But I find it hard to believe that someone would wait over four years to try and destroy it.”

“Okay,” Jen tried to smile, but couldn’t pull it off. “I just wish I had listened to you, back then.”

“When you showed me the first two chapters, how much research had already been done?” McQueen pointed out.

“All of it,” Jen sighed. “But if the book hadn’t been published, whoever may be threatened by it, might not have known of it’s existence?”

“Jen, you’re chasing shadows,” McQueen chided. “Go through your notes and see what you find. Anything I can do to help, just let me know.”

“Are there any other copies of your notes?” Ross hated to interrupt. He had never seen McQueen interact with a woman the way he was with Jenny. Ross doubted the Marine even realized his actions were out of character. “I would like to make a back-up copy to keep in my safe, if it’s all the same to you Dr. Kirkwood?”

“That’s not a problem with me, Sir, and probably a good idea, since this is the only copy,” Jenny handed the disks back to Ross. “I’ll start working on them as soon as I get them back from you. Is there any more news in that packet I should know about?”

“No, only this letter,” Ross handed Jenny an envelope with Patsy’s hand writing on it.

“Thank you Commodore,” Jenny smiled as she saw who the letter was from. “If that’s all, I’ll say good-night?”

After Jenny had left, Ross reached into the bag and pulled out another letter, this one addressed to McQueen. “You have one, too.”

McQueen looked at the envelope, he had never gotten a real letter before, “thank you, Sir.”

“You’ve know Dr. Kirkwood a long time, haven’t you?” Ross began making encrypted copies of Jenny’s disks.

McQueen turned from Ross to look out the porthole at the stars. “She was my doctor in detox, that second time.”

“She took you on in the state you were in that last time on Greens?” Ross shook his head, “the woman has more courage than sense.”

“Don’t tell her that unless you want a fight on your hands,” McQueen smiled at a memory he wasn’t going to share with his friend. “Sir, do you think those disks are the reason behind the bombing at the Facility?”

“I don’t have the answer to that, Ty.” Ross finished coping the last disk and put his copies in his safe. “But if I were a betting man, I would put my money on the disks shedding some light on what’s going on. Though I get the feeling it’s not going to be that easy. Would you take these to Jenny?”

“Yes, Sir,” McQueen pocketed the disks. “I’m tempted to wait until morning, so she gets some sleep tonight.”

“Drop them off tonight, Ty,” Ross smiled at his friend’s concern. “I doubt she’ll sleep until she has them in her possession. This is a bad business, no matter how you cut it. And I am afraid that Jenny is in the middle of it, somehow.”

After McQueen left, Ross poured himself a drink and settled back in his chair. He felt as if he was missing some important information that was just outside his grasp. Too much was happening at once to keep it all straight. What did notes from a book that was published almost four years ago have to do with a bombing that took place four days ago? Though the bombing added weight to Savage’s theory that someone was trying to kill all the doctors who ran the Facility, it was hard to imagine why. Even harder to imagine who.

Then there was Jenny, a woman who at first glance seemed to be as transparent as a pane of glass, but there was more to her. She wasn’t glass, she was cut crystal, who diffused the light. Tonight when Ross had watched McQueen and Jenny interact, he recognized dark centers in both of them. McQueen’s hidden by darkness and Jenny’s by light.

Ross knew that it was Jenny’s light that dazzled him. Yes, he was attracted to her, found her desirable, what man wouldn’t? But it was her lightness of being that brought him joy. Few women in his life made him think *”what if things were different, what if his heart wasn’t already taken by a lady named Saratoga.*” Jenny was a keeper, therefore not for him. Besides, she belonged to someone else. A someone who had added to the darkness at her center. A someone who if he wasn’t dead, was a damn fool! The Commodore chuckled as he put down his glass, between lack of sleep and one drink too many he was becoming a philosopher.

Saratoga, Jenny’s Quarters February 17, 2064- 2345 hours

Jenny sat at her desk reading Patsy’s letter for the forth time. It sounded as if Patsy was in love. That changed things. Jenny had already decided to resign her commission when the war was over. She had assumed she would go home to Catalina and open a practice. But now, that didn’t seem fair to Patsy. Jenny wanted Patsy free to make her own choices about her life.

Previous : Chapter Three - Moves On

Next : Part Two

Back : Space: AAB General Fiction