TITLE: Forsaken
TYPE: Story
DISCLAIMERS: All Earth: Final Conflict characters is the property of Tribune
Entertainment and all related affiliations (Kirshner-Roddenberry, Atlantis, etc.)
NOTES: This is a follow up story to That Which We Hold Dear.
This story closes up my splinter faction of the Liberation thread. I had a little trouble in some areas, finding I wrote
myself into a situation I couldn't figure how to get out of reasonably. This story was the result. Let me know what you
think. Comments, criticisms, and suggestions are welcome. :) Thanks to Anne, brother Ron, and the rest of the
efc-fanfic gang for their suggestions and kind words!

by Karolyn Gray <kmgray3@aol.com>

Part 1

    "Please deliver the parcel immediately, Commander." Da'an was saying,
dismissing the red haired implant with a gesture. "Afterwards, the rest of the
day is yours to do with as you wish." "Yes, Da'an." Commander Boone replied, a barely concealed harshness under the subservient tone. Gesturing the Taelon salute William Boone exited Da'an's chamber quickly. 'Far too quickly.' Ronald Sandoval thought unhappily to himself. He was certain he had seen anger in the larger implants eyes at Da'an's orders. Ron himself didn't like it. 'Implants shouldn't be used for simple courier work.' "Agent Sandoval." Ron quickly focused his attention back on Da'an, knowing the American Companion has caught his inattentiveness. "Yes, Da'an." The Taelon blinked slowly, as if considering the human carefully before it. "Your behavior indicates you are disturbed by something. May I know what it is that troubles you?" "It's nothing, Da'an." Ron replied immediately. "I sense that your words are devised in an attempt at relieving any perceived distress on my part." The Taelon gestured gracefully. "Be that as it may, I wish to know your thoughts." Ron mentally sighed to himself as he considered the Taelon's order. Da'an couldn't very well reprimand him for speaking his mind when he had been asked to do so, could he? "I think your attitudes and actions towards Boone have been....inappropriate." He finally said, cringing slightly at the reaction the Taelon may have to his negative assessment. Ron was surprised to see Da'an merely stare impassively at him for a long moment before leaning back in his chair. "I am merely trying to keep him from any undue stress. Boone has still not fully recovered from his ordeal." "Da'an, you're making the situation worse!" Ron protested, surprising even himself that he so openly challenged the American Companion. Da'an blushed blue and stared at the implant coldly. "And how did you make this assessment, Agent Sandoval?" "I can see it in his eyes, the way he reacts to you." Ron explained. "He's angry and rightfully so. You're wasting him on trivial duties when he should be acting as the Head of Interspecies Relations. I can tell he is frustrated." "He, as all our implants, serves as we dictate. None of our tasks are trivial." Da'an noted archly, causing Ron to wince slightly. "Da'an, all I know is he cannot perform to the best of his abilities if he is continually reminded that you deem him a failure." Ron stated, deciding to try another tact to get his point across to the American Companion. He knew Da'an did not like to make humans feel uncomfortable around him, especially those he had great interest in. Such was the way of the Companions of the diplomatic caste. "He has not failed us nor should he feel this is so." Da'an stated adamantly, clearly upset at Sandoval's words. "I'm sorry, Da'an. I did not mean to offend you." Ron replied. "I was merely intending to indicate to you how I, or any other implant, would view your recent actions towards Commander Boone." This admission seem to stun the Taelon. "You view the duties I have assigned Boone a punishment for recent events." "Yes, Da'an." Ron admitted honestly. "That is not the case. You know the actions I have taken are in his best interest." Da'an said. "Please convey that I still hold high regard for Boone to the others." "Yes, Da'an." Ron replied. "Perhaps...." "Yes, Agent Sandoval?" "Perhaps it would be best if he was told what is happening." Ron suggested. Da'an seemed to consider this for a short time, before slowly shaking his head in a very human gesture. "No. I fear such knowledge may do more harm than good in this case. William Boone is unusually determined in cases such as this one." "Da'an, humans have a saying: Forewarned is forearmed." Ron stated. "A wise saying." Da'an said with a nod. "He shall not be informed." Ron sighed. He had tried and that was all that mattered. "Do you wish an update on the situation?" "Proceed." The Taelon directed. ---------------------------- Lili sighed to herself wondering if she could have a more stimulating conversation with Condor, William Boone's skrill. Certainly the red haired implant the creature was attached to had been uncommunicative and gloomy the entire trip. Every day for the past two weeks Wil seemed to become angrier and colder, withdrawing from those around him. It was starting to become a problem. "Wil?" Again nothing in the way of a response. She cast a quick glance behind her to see him gazing off distractedly with a look she had seen far too often to miss. He was lost in another of his CVI enhanced memories, she was sure. That too worried her. He'd been doing that far more often since the embassy seizure by the Front for the Liberation of Earth and the subsequent failed attempt by that group to take over the orbital weapons platforms. "Coming out of interdimensional." She reported, doubting he was even listening. "Good." Came the wooden reply, which Lili found surprisingly relieving to hear. A reaction, even as clinical and detached as the one she had heard, was better than the silence between them. Things just hadn't been the same since the trouble
with the so called Front for the Liberation of Earth. After she landed the shuttle, Wil had quickly left with the package while Lili decided to get some coffee and chat with a few of the medical center's workers on their break. Fifteen minutes later she could see Wil headed back to the shuttle, closing his global as he approached. "Lili, take the shuttle back to D.C. I've just received some last minute items that need to be attended to. It'll take most of the day. No need for you to be tied up here." Wil informed her with a hint of a genuine smile on his face. Lili smiled back in relief. 'I guess Da'an finally gave him something within his duties.' She couldn't help but think. Da'an's harshness towards Wil had begun to annoy Lili to no end. "OK, Wil. Just call when you need a pick up." She said. "Sure, Lili." Wil replied before quickly turning back the way he had come. 'I guess Da'an finally came to his senses. Now Jonathan can stop pestering me about Wil's usefulness to the Liberation.' Lili just shook her head with a bemused smile as the shuttle lifted off and she made the leap into interdimensional. She couldn't help but feel good to see Wil so revitalized. It had been far too long. ---------------------------- "Captain Marquette, where is Commander Boone?" Da'an inquired as she walked up the incline to Da'an's chamber. Lili stopped, dumfounded at the Taelon's question. "I thought you gave him new orders?" Lili asked, carefully. "I did not." Da'an replied with some puzzlement to his tone. "Why do you believe this is so?" "Boone said he had received new instructions that would take the remainder of the day and that I was to return here to Washington until he called for a pickup." Lili explained quickly, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in her stomach. "I am afraid you have been deceived, Captain. No orders were issued to Commander Boone by myself or any other Taelon." Da'an informed her, with a slow blink. "Da'an did you not also indicate that Commander Boone was to have the remainder of day off after delivering the package?" Ronald Sandoval asked. "This is true." Da'an nodded. "Perhaps he desired some time away from here." Ron supplied. "Alone." "Perhaps, Agent Sandoval." Da'an glanced at both humans. "However, I cannot fathom why he chose such covert means to achieve this isolation from us." "I guess he needed some time alone." Lili replied, barely succeeding in keeping her own anger in check at Wil's deceitfulness. 'I can't believe he lied to me!' "I can retrieve him if you wish." "No." Da'an said. "Let us allow him this time of privacy. He would not have done what he has without cause. Of this I am certain." "But Da'an, you know he is in danger." Sandoval protested. "What? Wait a minute! What do you mean he's in danger?" Lili asked the pair, noting Da'an casting the Taelon equivalent of a daggered stare at Sandoval. She was a bit surprised to see Sandoval actually return the Taelon's gaze resolutely. After a moment Da'an waved his arm in an apparent gesture of acceptance. Lili could almost swear Da'an would have sighed if he were human. "Agent Sandoval is correct. A threat we had thought was vanquished has reappeared." Lili looked questioningly at Sandoval hoping the implant would not have the news she suspected from Da'an's obliqueness. "The Front for the Liberation of Earth has made a new threat. They intend to avenge the death of their founder, James Littleton." Ron informed Lili, looking relieved to finally have told someone. "And Boone is the target?" Lili asked. "It appears that this is the case, Captain Marquette." Da'an answered. Lili frowned worriedly, having suspected the FLE had not been eliminated as so many believed. "But most of the Front was thought to be killed or captured. Are you sure it's not another group pretending to be them?" "We are certain it is the same individuals. Our analysis of the message confirmed our suspicion that it is the same person that created the first one." Ron replied. "May I hear the message?" Lili asked. "Of course." Da'an replied gesturing to Sandoval. In a moment Ron had the message playing back for the ex-Marine. "This is the Front for the Liberation of Earth. Know that we shall avenge the death of James Littleton, martyr to Humanity! The instrument of his death shall know our wrath for this atrocity. May God forgive him, we shall not!" Lili shivered slightly at the recording so much like the first one she had heard. 'Damn! Jonathan needs to know.' Lili looked at Da'an questioningly. "Why did you keep this from Boone? He *is* head of Companion Security." Lili asked, allowing a hint of disapproval to slip into her voice. The American Companion caught the inflection and looked away for a moment. "William Boone's tenacity in discovering and removing threats to the interests of the Companions is well known to me. In this endeavor I feel his personal involvement would prove....restrictive to this situations resolution." Lili looked over at Sandoval noting just the hint of disagreement on the implant's face with Da'ans words, but as always did not contradict the Taelon. She shook her head slightly. "I still don't understand why you would not want him to help in the investigation. If anything his 'personal involvement' would be an added incentive for him." Da'an blinked slowly. "I fear you underestimate the great animosity in Commander Boone that is harnessed by his CVI over this group of individuals." "And maybe you underestimate Boone's loyalty and sense of justice." Lili couldn't help but say, staring down the decidedly angry gaze Da'an now gave her. "He shall not be informed." The Taelon ordered. Lili nodded once in resignation. She knew her inconsiderately spoken words had ended any chance of persuading the American Companion to change his decision. "Yes, Da'an." She replied. "Captain Marquette is correct about one thing." Ron interrupted. "Boone should be kept close by or, at the very least, under surveillance." "I could bring him back here under the pretense that you have new orders for him." Lili offered, seeing a chance to let Wil know what was up as well as get this new bit of information on the situation to Doors. Da'an seemed to consider this for a moment, a sudden smile coming to the Taelon's face. "Please do, Captain. Inform Commander Boone that Zo'or has need of an implant for his tour to Ireland. I have decided Boone shall accompany him." Lili was sure her face must have fell as Da'an looked at her suddenly. "Is there a problem, Captain?" Da'an asked. "No, Da'an." Lili shook her head, seeing an equally baffled look on Sandoval's face. "It just surprised me is all." Da'an smiled, obviously pleased with the two humans reactions. "Good, then it is unlikely anyone else would anticipate this action." 'But Zo'or?' Lili practically screamed in her mind. "It is that." Lili agreed, a hint of admiration at Da'an's wiliness. Apparently the American Companion wasn't so naive about these things as some, including herself, had thought. "Please locate and retrieve Boone." Da'an instructed the pair of humans. ------------------------------- The man angrily yanked the Global open more to stop its incessant beeping than any real desire to see who disturbed his work. "What?" He snapped, his eyes visibly darkening in anger at his caller. "Have you found him?" "No." The man growled back. "I'm tracing his calls via global. I may be able to track him down that way." "Fool. How did you loose him anyway?" The man snorted in derision. "Hey, if you can do better then I'm going home." This threat silenced the other for a moment. "My apologies." Came the grudging response. "Do you think you can find him?" "Pretty sure." The man nodded. "If I am left alone." "Call when you have something." "I know the procedure." The man said as he snapped the global closed, ending the transmission. 'Amateurs.' He snorted to himself again and return to his task. A few minutes later the man's eyes widened with surprise. "Sometimes it helps to be lucky." He murmured to himself as he dialed the number on his global. "What?" Came the obviously irritated voice. "I found him." ------------------------------- 'I can't believe I'm giving myself a headache over this.' Ron thought to himself, as he scanned through dozens of pages of information looking for any signature that would mark Boone's location. He paused a moment to glance over to Captain Marquette. Lili was rubbing her head in an obvious attempt to stave off a headache as she continued to search the information files. She was shaking her head and Ron could see his frustration mirrored on her face. "Captain, perhaps we should take a short break." Ron suggested suddenly, earning a somewhat surprised look from the former Marine Captain. "But we aren't through with this set yet." She said gesturing vaguely to the screen in front of her. Ron could not help but admire dedication in individuals, even in those he did not personally like. "It does the Companions no good if we collapse from exhaustion and are unable to complete our task." Ron replied reasonably, in what Lili had long ago come to think of as his 'implant mode'. Lili raised her hands in mock surrender, silently thanking god that Sandoval had called for the break. "You want some coffee?" She asked. "Yes, please. Black." Ron replied as he stood and stretched to uncramp his muscles. As Lili handed him a cup of coffee the screen to his office came on to reveal Agent Lassiter's somewhat stunned expression. "Agent Sandoval, turn on the news." Without even asking why Ron activated the local news station to see a hectic looking female newscaster, with a graphic denoting an explosion that seemed to be favored in the past by so many news stations when reporting a bombing or terrorist incident. Ron was not particularly pleased to see the imagery return to the news. "I repeat, there has been a reported explosion at the Los Angeles Portal Terminal. We go now to a live feed from the site of the explosion." "Has Da'an been informed?" Ron asked. The screen switched from Lassiter's image to Da'an's. "I am aware of the situation, Agent Sandoval." Ron nodded, about to ask for instruction when Lili spoke. "There's Boone." This fact caught both Ron and Da'an's attention. On the screen could be seen several reporters hounding the red haired implant who did not seem pleased at all by the media's presence. A small cut could be seen above Boone's right eye freely trickling blood down the side of his face. "Commander Boone, is it true that a portal malfunction was responsible for the accident?" Boone shook his head. "I can't answer that question. I only know that as we arrived there was an explosion." As the reporters started yelling question again he silenced them. "Please refrain from any speculation on what happened here until this situation has been investigated." "Then Companion Security will be involved in the investigation?" "As this is a joint Taelon-Human project naturally the Companions shall be involved in discovering what happened here." Boone replied, his patience obviously starting to wear thin. "Commander? What do you have to say about reports that the Front for the Liberation of Earth claims responsibility for this attack?" This question instantly got Boone's full attention and silenced the other reporters. Wil narrowed his eyes coldly. "As I said any speculation regarding what happened here should be avoided until the facts are known." He replied, his voice tight with controlled anger. "But if it is the FLE?" The reporter prodded. "Then they shall be dealt with." Wil replied and quickly turned and walked away from the shouted questions of the reporters. Ron pinched his nose between his thumb and forefinger shaking his head slightly. The headache he had hoped to avoid just hit him. He sighed and turned to face Da'an. The look on the Companion's face defied description. "Do you wish us to proceed to Los Angeles?" Da'an nodded in a rather subdued way. "Please join Commander Boone there. When everything is secured, return here with the Commander immediately." Lili and Ron merely nodded and cut the transmission. Ron glanced over at Lili only to find her doing the same to him. She sighed and downed the coffee and headed for the doors. Ron quickly followed suit. Neither were happy with the coming confrontation with William Boone. 'Worse yet, Boone will be right.' Ron mentally grumbled. Sometimes he hated his job. But only sometimes. 'Boone is an implant, he will understand where others could not that the needs of the Companions take precedence over our own.' ------------------------------- "So you decided not to tell me." Lili winced at the cold tone, grateful for once that Sandoval's presence in the shuttle required William Boone to behave as an 'implant'. She didn't want to think about the tirade she was certain she would have heard otherwise. She had seen Wil angry before, but never like this. He had progressed far beyond the definition of anger into something she had never even considered possible in such a person as William Boone. The look he gave her every time she cast a glance his way was enough for her to remain silent. She was curious as to his sudden decision to visit his sister but knew now was definitely not the time to ask. So she simply sat, quietly piloting the shuttle as the two implants spoke. "It was Da'an's decision." Sandoval stated for the fourth time since they had left the Los Angeles Portal Terminal. "Of course." Wil replied. "What I want to know is why Da'an felt it was necessary." "As I already stated, Da'an believed your capability to work for the Companions would be diminished with such information." Sandoval answered, starting to wonder if what Da'an had feared was true. Boone seemed to be fixated on destroying these terrorists. Not that Ron couldn't blame Boone. He too would happily eliminate them given the chance to do so. "But I am the Head of Companion Security." Wil noted. "How can I perform the duties inherent in that role if I'm not informed of potential threats?" "I understand your frustration, Commander." Ron answered. He cast a glance over to Marquette and sighed slightly realizing that the Captain was pointedly ignoring the conversation between the two implant. 'Smart woman.' Ron thought to himself in a spark of grim amusement. "I revealed my own reservations on this decision to Da'an, but my request that you be properly informed was denied." "Denied?" Wil asked, surprised more by the fact that Sandoval had actually questioned Da'an than by the result. "By whom?" "Da'an." Ron replied. "I see." Wil said as he sat back in his seat pondering Ronald Sandoval's answer. For the remainder of the short trip through interdimensional the shuttle was very quiet. ------------------------------- "It pleases me to see that you have not suffered unduly from the unfortunate incident at the Los Angeles Portal." Da'an spoke as the trio walked up the ramp into his chamber. All three humans gave Da'an the Taelon gesture of welcome. "The Portal was not the cause of the explosion, Da'an. That occurred mere moments after we arrived." Wil reported, cutting off Sandoval before he could start his report. "I am aware of this." Da'an said as he slowly sat on his chair. "It was the FLE, wasn't it?" Wil asked, gambling that the indignant tone he allowed in his voice would compel the Companion to be truthful with him. "Yes, Commander." The Taelon replied. "We received a transmission a short time ago from these individuals. Their intent was clear. They wish to inflict vengeance upon those who defeated their previous attempts against the Companions." "You mean they want to kill me." Wil said, sickened at the thought that so many had been harmed because of him but secretly pleased that Da'an seemed to finally be honest with him. He hadn't realized until then just how much he had missed that part of their association. Hadn't even realized until now that it had been there all along. Da'an merely nodded. "I fear that is the case." "But how did they know Boone would be arriving in Los Angeles?" Lili asked. "That is something that must be ascertained as quickly as possible." Da'an ordered. "We'll get right on it." Wil said, gesturing to leave. "No, Commander." Da'an's words stopped the implant in his tracks. "But you just said we needed to discover how they tracked me down." Wil said. The relief he felt mere moments before was quickly being replaced with a feeling dread. "Agent Sandoval and Captain Marquette are more than proficient in this task. I have another assignment for you of more pressing need." Da'an said. Wil swallowed hard to help keep his voice neutral. "What is the new assignment?" "You will report to the Companion to the United Nations." Part 2 'Zo'or.' 'I can't believe he assigned me to Zo'or. Zo'or!' He shook his head slightly, ignoring much of his surroundings on the short trip to Ireland. "Commander Boone." "Yes, Zo'or." Wil snapped his attention to the Taelon sitting next to him in the shuttle. Wil still couldn't decide if the Taelon was upset at his presence, pleased, or simply tolerating him. Wil was betting it was the last option given the past encounters he had with Zo'or. "It occurs to me that we have rarely had moments in which we could develop more of an understanding between us." The crafty Taelon said. Wil was uncertain whether Zo'or was sincere or not but decided to chance taking the U.N. Companion's words at face value. "I did not realize you desired such from me. Had I known I would have done so earlier." Zo'or smiled slightly, somehow unable to loose the slight sneer that seemed ever present on his face Wil noted. "You serve the Companion's well. It is fortunate that we have found one as knowledgeable of your people as you. You have averted many a crisis for us." "I only serve the will of the Companions." Wil replied in his best 'implant' tone. "Of course." Zo'or nodded once. "May I ask you a question?" Wil asked, seeing Zo'or give him an odd look. After a moment the Taelon nodded slowly. "Ask your question, Commander." "I have noted certain....tensions....between you and Da'an." Wil noted, acting subservient and reluctant as possible while asking the question. "I wo..." "You wonder at our apparent confrontational behavior, do you not?" Zo'or finished his question with a benign smile that seemed to be anything but. Wil nodded his head, feigning relief. "I thought the Companions were united in their policies towards Earth." Zo'or nodded. "You are very perceptive, Commander. More so than some of your fellow implants, it seems." Zo'or gestured toward the human pilot. "As your people are often divided on how to proceed on a myriad of issues regarding your race, so too is the Taelon race. Our Commonality allows us to consider all opinions and options, thus giving us the most reasonable solutions to our situations without resorting to violence." "So Da'an and you agree on the same goal, but have different means of attaining that goal." Wil nodded once, smiling to himself at the smug look Zo'or gave him. "As I have said. Very perceptive." The Companion said, surprising Boone that none of the normal condescending tone he expected was present. If anything the Taelon sounded almost respectful. "Thank you." Wil replied. He tried not to squirm under the intense stare Zo'or suddenly focused upon him. He couldn't help but wonder what the alien was thinking. "Commander, if I were to give you an order that contradicted the command of another Taelon, would you obey it?" Zo'or asked. Wil swallowed nervously. "I would follow the orders of any Taelon so long as the order did not interfere with the desires of the Synod or threatened Taelon interests on Earth." Zo'or smiled at this suddenly, seemingly greatly pleased by the human implants words. "Of course, you would." "Do you doubt me?" Wil asked in a hurtful tone. "No, Commander. But your answer makes me consider a possibility I had not thought of before this moment." Zo'or replied. "A possibility?" "Coming out of interdimensional." The pilot reported. "We shall speak of this later." Zo'or said, clearly ending the conversation. Wil simply nodded and sat back in his chair like a dutiful implant. A few minutes later Wil escorted Zo'or from the shuttle only to be greeted by Lieutenant Siobhan Beckett who led them quickly into the Irish Companion Headquarters. Both Beckett and Wil gave the Taelon salute to the Irish Companion while Zo'or greeted him in eunoia. Wil studied the Companion for a moment, noting her was shorter than Zo'or but not as short as Da'an. He also seemed far more frail than many Taelons Wil had seen. His impression was the the Companion was female, though he knew better than that. "You may leave us. We shall have no need of your services until tomorrow." The Irish companion ordered, in a surprising deep and harsh voice. Beckett instantly complied and started to leave, while Wil merely stood and waited for Zo'or's command. He knew the subtle little games the Taelons sometimes played with one another in regards to humanity. Though he disliked Zo'or, he was, for now, assigned to him as his implant and protector. Zo'or turned and seemed pleased to see Boone waiting for his next action. He smiled slowly and seemed to nod to himself. He gestured his hand dismissively. "You may leave, Commander. The day is yours to do with as you wish." Wil simply bowed his head ever so slightly to both Taelons and then turned to leave the room. Waiting for him was a rather disgruntled looking Siobhan Beckett. The two implants quickly departed in silence. Once in the lobby Beckett suddenly stopped and glared at Boone. "How dare you treat the Irish Companion that way!" She hissed coldly. "I am not his implant to command." Wil pointed out. "How would you feel if Zo'or started to order you about without your Companion's permission?" Beckett seemed to consider this for a moment. "I serve the Companions, all the Companions." She sighed and looked away. "But I see your point in this matter. Please forget I said anything at all." "You are just protecting him is all." Wil said. "Be that as it may I have been rude. Perhaps you will allow me to make amends by buying you lunch?" Beckett offered. "I'd love something to eat." Wil nodded with a smile, deciding he liked Beckett much more than he did Sandoval and some of the other implants he had met in D.C. "We can discuss some of the new security arrangements if you like as well." "Excellent. I do have some questions for you regarding your new security arrangements for Companion facilities." Beckett nodded as they started for the shuttles. -------------------- Several hours later Wil leaned back with a satisfied sigh, dropping his napkin on the empty plate before him. "That was delicious." "I thought you might like it. The food is good and plentiful." Beckett said with a small, pleased smile. The smile faded slightly as she glanced around the small establishments, taking in their fellow patrons. "I come here whenever I have the chance." "But not often enough with our job requirements." Wil finished for her, nodding in understanding. "Exactly." Beckett agreed. "So do you have any more questions about the security arrangements?" Wil asked, hoping they were done. They had spent nearly the entire lunch going over the new procedures. "No. They are quite thorough." Siobhan hesitated for a moment, her pause earning her Wil's full attention. "Is there a problem?" He asked. "No. I just wonder if the level of security is really all that necessary." She said. "A number of the most advance security procedures are already in place. You act as if the Companions are under siege." Wil looked away for a moment. When he looked back again he had a cold determination in his eyes that impressed her greatly. "Aren't they?" He asked. Siobhan sighed, knowing full well what he meant in his question. Any doubt she had about his loyalty had been erased with the look she had seen. "The Liberation is nothing more than annoyance at this point. They haven't done anything to harm the Companions. If anything I think they may have actually helped them." Wil raised an eyebrow at her comment but let it go. "And the FLE?" Siobhan frowned as she considered the new terrorist group. She glanced up at him to see him watching her intently. "Commander, I am fully aware of what the FLE did to you. And you have my sincerest regards and admiration for what you had to do. But with all due respect you wiped out their powerbase." "That isn't exactly true." Wil said softly. "What?" Siobhan asked, leaning forward. He could see the anger just underneath the cool professional surface she projected to others. "The recent 'incident' at the L.A. Portal terminal was not an accident." Wil confided, knowing he was defying Da'an's orders that no one know what really happened. "Then the early reports were correct? The FLE was responsible?" Siobhan asked, anger clearly in her voice. "Why was this kept out of the security briefings?" "Da'an felt it was best to minimize the effect the FLE could have." Wil answered carefully keeping his voice neutral. Siobhan seemed to consider this for a moment before nodding. "If it was FLE, then why are you not in charge of locating them?" She asked in puzzlement. "That is a question I myself would like answered." Wil sighed, sipping some tea. "Da'an indicated that he thought my previous experience with this group would negatively affect my abilities." "I see." Siobhan said. Though she didn't say it, Wil could tell she disagreed with the assessment. "So is this why you have been assigned to Zo'or?" She asked. "Yes, Apparently Da'an feels it would be better if I were removed from public attention in the States." Wil answered. "But to Zo'or?" Siobhan asked with a slight smile. Wil shrugged noncommittally. "I serve the Companions." "But some Companions are more worthwhile to serve than others. Aren't they, Commander Boone?" Siobhan asked in a lilting tone that actually caused Wil to blush. "Um. Yes. Well, I suppose so." Wil hemmed, causing Siobhan to laugh. "It's all right, Commander. I have heard other implants make similar comments about Zo'or. He is not one for the company of humans, after all." Siobhan said with a knowing grin. Wil smiled back, deciding Beckett was OK in his book. Even with a fully operational motivational imperative. "So, Commander, how is Agent Sandoval?" Siobhan asked. "He's doing well." Wil replied, a bit curious as to her interest but unwilling to inquire further. "He's been assigned to handle the FLE currently." "And Captain Marquette?" She asked. "Lili?" Wil asked, rather surprised at her interest. "She's doing OK. She was assigned to help Sandoval." Siobhan seemed to consider this a moment as she sipped some water. "Commander, may I ask you something?" Wil shrugged to himself. "Sure." "What do you think of Captain Marquette?" Siobhan asked. Wil sat back in surprise. "Lili? Well, she's an excellent pilot and a good friend. She is strong willed, dedicated and quite loyal. Why?" "Have you ever wondered why she has never tried to advance her Companion career? She would make a fine Companion agent, wouldn't you agree?" Siobhan asked. Wil nodded. "Certainly she would. I never really thought about it before." "Perhaps you should mention it to her. She's been working for the Companions for a very long time. I have no doubt she would be immediately accepted." Siobhan noted. "I don't like to impose in the lives of those I work with," Wil paused seeing Siobhan frown slightly, "but perhaps I should make her aware of the benefits of being a Companion agent." Siobhan smiled slightly. "And if she were to refuse?" "That is her decision. I do not think I would want someone to be implanted against their will. I imagine it would be rather dangerous." Wil commented. "How so?" Siobhan asked, confused at his comment. "Since our imperative is to serve the Companions, if someone was implanted against their will I would think it would lead to disaster. Perhaps even the death of the implant. How could one serve to the Companions to the best of their abilities if they know that they did not desire the procedure in the first place?" Wil said. Siobhan considered this. After several minutes she nodded with a frown. "You may be correct. I had not considered that before. Such an individual may try to eliminate themselves if they felt they would hinder the Companions. It would be highly ineffective and certainly a waste of life." "May I ask..." Bleep. Bleep. Wil sighed and picked up his global casting an apologetic look to Siobhan. While he didn't particularly like the direction of the conversation he did find the subject of interest. He opened the global to see Lili's face. "Captain Marquette? You have a report for me?" He asked in full implant mode to warn Lili to speak carefully. From the corner of his eye he could see Siobhan look at him oddly. Lili caught his tone instantly and nodded silently once. "Yes, sir. I'm uploading the information to your global now." Wil tapped a few commands on his screen and nodded as he watched several short vids and pictures flash by of the known FLE members. "Information received, Captain. Is there anything else?" "No, but Agent Sandoval and I are running a search on the individuals you see there. I'll let you know when we have something." Lili said before signing off. "Is that information on the FLE?" Siobhan asked. Wil nodded and handed her the global. "Yes. I'm surprised they were able to get as much information as they have so quickly." Siobhan nodded, impressed at the level of information gathered. She stopped a picture and gasped in recognition. "What?" Wil asked. "These two. I know them." Siobhan said with some contempt as she pointed out two men in a still from a recent transmission from the FLE. "From where?" Wil asked interestedly. "Belfast." Siobhan said simply. "IRA?" Wil asked. "IRA and Ulster." Siobhan said. She pointed to the red head. "This is Martin O'Shea, one of the most violent members of the IRA I have ever had the misfortune to meet." Pointing to the darker haired man. "And that one is James Harrington, an equally violent supporter of the Ulsters." "Sounds like a nasty pair." Wil commented. "More than you know, Commander." Siobhan frowned. "These two nearly destroyed the United Irish Republic before it was even born in their hate for each other. O'Shea's IRA Brigade and Harrington's Royal Ulster Front very nearly waged war in the streets of Belfast if not for the intervention of my own Militia troops and a tip off from one of my informants." She looked worriedly over at William Boone. "If these two have put aside their hatred of one another and are working together we may be in more trouble than we first thought." "Come on. Let's get back to your office and investigate this further. We may just have gotten the break we need to destroy the FLE." Wil said, enthusiastically. 'Finally! A lead.' Chapter 3 (NOTE: Violence warning for small section ending this part.) "Not only do we have O'Shea and Harrington, there are others who used to be associated with various world wide terrorist organizations. Some of these individuals were believed to be dead." Wil finished his report to the assembled Taelons and humans before him. Only the Irish Companion and Zo'or were actually present. The remainder were at the meeting through the holoimaging system located in the Irish Companions headquarters. The information seemed to upset many of those present, which is precisely what Wil had hoped would happen. "We have identified several more of what we believed to be the FLE's leadership. The list of known terrorists amongst their numbers is quite extensive. There are members from Hamas, Shining Path, Japanese Red Army, and so on." Beckett said. "Many of these organizations no longer exist and yet these individuals remain free?" Da'an asked in surprise. Wil and Siobhan exchanged a look. "Yes. A number of these groups disbanded after the arrival of the Taelons." Wil nodded. "Others disbanded after the Companions crafted several crucial peace accords, such as the unification of Ireland. With their goals achieved these groups no longer were needed and voluntarily dispersed. Many of the peace accords included amnesty and pardons to those involved in terrorist activities." Siobhan said reluctantly. "Despite this there are still some groups in operation." Wil picked up. "Some simply because their stated goal has not been reached. Others because they know nothing else and are, perhaps, afraid and unwilling to change without good cause." "Why would past enemies ally together in this fashion then?" Da'an asked, in apparent fascination. Wil paused, earning a hard look from Siobhan that prompted him to continue. He raised his hands to indicate the Taelons present. "They found their cause." "The Taelons?" Da'an asked incredulously. "Yes. The FLE has stated that they deem the Companions as the greatest threat to humanity. Their words ring true to those who feel the Taelons have had too much influence upon our social, economical, and spiritual beliefs and practices." Wil explained. "We only wish what is best for both species." Quo'on stated. "The FLE does not see the Companions actions as such." Beckett noted. "Your words are troubling but must be considered." Quo'on said heavily. "All of our information and analysis has been uploaded." Beckett said crisply. "Are you certain of your information?" Ronald Sandoval asked speaking for the first time. "We are quite certain, Agent Sandoval. Our investigation is based upon the information you and Captain Marquette provided." Siobhan Beckett replied coolly, casting a hint of a smile to Wil as she answered. Sandoval seemed to swallow his comment as he considered her words. "You and Lieutenant Beckett believe you may be able to apprehend these individuals?" Da'an asked, looking decidedly unhappy at Wil. "Yes. Lieutenant Beckett has contacted several former associates of Mr. O'Shea. They have indicated they would help us stop the FLE." Wil said. "How can we trust these individuals?" Zo'or interrupted. "If they are former associated of Mr. O'Shea than it is reasonable to assume they are themselves terrorists. Do not your people have a saying about leopards and their spots?" "They are former IRA, but I believe we can trust them." Beckett countered. "And how do you know this?" Zo'or demanded, clearly in disbelief of the Irish implants claims. Siobhan looked over at Wil reluctantly. Seeing him nod slowly she sighed and turned her gaze back to the Taelon. "The persons in question were part of my personal contacts in the IRA. They are reliable and I trust them." "And why would you associate with such people?" Zo'or demanded. "That's not important right now. The IRA disbanded. Our focus should be on the FLE." Wil interrupted the Taelon, earning himself a cold glare. "Commander Boone is correct. Lieutenant Beckett's association with these individuals is not at issue here. All means must be employed in the elimination of this new threat." Quo'on stated, his words deepening Zo'or's glare at Wil. "How do you suggest we proceed?" Da'an asked. "Lieutenant Beckett and I have already contacted one of her informers. He has given us the location of a possible staging area for the FLE located outside of Wiesbaden, Germany. I suggest we raid this location immediately." Wil stated, willing himself to remain impassive and unemotional when all he felt was an eagerness to finally be able to strike back at the FLE. "And why do you believe this location is of such importance?" Da'an asked, quite skeptically. "My contact indicated that this facility recently received several shipments from Russia, China and several countries in South America." Beckett said. "What relevance does your planets commerce transportation have to do with this location?" Zo'or asked, sneering. "Nothing." Beckett replied evenly. "However, it is the contents of those containers that are of concern. They contained the proper material to manufacture explosive devices such as the the one used at the L.A. Portal explosion." "That was an accident." Zo'or stated, determined to maintain the cover story that had been provided for the incident. "The chemical analysis indicated otherwise." Beckett said, this time allowing a knowing smile to cross her face. Da'an and Quo'on exchanged an unhappy glance. "Commander Boone informed you what really happened?" Quo'on asked. "Yes, I did." Wil answered for her, determined to ensure she suffered no reprimand for his actions. Enough had been harmed by recent events surrounding him. He did not desire to see another. Quo'on simply stared at him in silence for several moments before turning to look at Da'an as the American Companion spoke. "We shall discuss you decision at a more appropriate time, Commander." "Of course, Da'an." Wil bowed his head meekly, knowing a reprimand when he heard one from the American Companion. "It is the decision of the Synod that you proceed in your set course of action." Quo'on announced. Both Siobhan and Wil gave the Taelon salute and started to take there leave when Quo'on spoke again. "We anticipate success. Failure is not a luxury we can afford." Both implants looked at one another seeing the other understood clearly the Synod leaders words. ------------------------------------ "Da'an seemed most displeased with you." Siobhan commented as she and Wil approached the awaiting line of Companion shocktroops. Wil sighed. "I know. We'll work it out." Wil shook his head in confusion over the American Companion's recent behavior towards him. "Eventually." He muttered. Siobhan started to say something but thought better of it as she realized they were within earshot of the shocktroops. Instead she and the Commander quickly inspected those assembled and filled them in on the purpose of their operation. Normally they would have simply used agents already in Germany but she and Boone feared a possible tip off. Instead she assembled a team of her most loyal members of her security detail. Less than five minutes later the troops were headed to the waiting shuttles. Wil watched them go with a small, satisfied smile on his face as memories of another, more peaceful time flashed in his CVI. Siobhan touched his shoulder to get his attention. "Yes, Lieutenant?" Wil asked, blinking as if he just realized she was there beside him. "May I ask what you were thinking about, Commander?" She asked gently. Wil's smile grew a bit, but a sadness crept into his eyes that she did not miss. "Just memories of a better time. Similar circumstances, but nowhere as dangerous. Before the Companions." Siobhan nodded her head in an understanding manner, to hide the sudden concern she felt. A Companion agent could not afford to be distracted from his duties, especially in an undertaking that they were departing on. It was obvious to her Da'an's actions troubled the American implant far more than any, even herself, had realized. She settled face into a serious expression. "Commander, perhaps it would be best if you remain behind." Her comment surprised Wil. "Why?" He asked suspiciously. "Da'an did not wish you to be involved in this operation as it is." She replied calmly, clearly having heard the emotional turmoil in his voice that he hid so well. "The FLE did not exactly give us a choice in this matter Did they?" Wil noted, narrowing his eyes in anger. "No, they did not." Siobhan agreed. "But the Companions did." "Are you saying you believe I am incapable of carrying out my duties?" Wil asked, truly angry now and no longer willing to hide the fact. Siobhan backed up a step in the face of this anger. "Of course not!" Siobhan said. "But you are not acting rationally at this moment, are you? If you cannot keep your self under control then you should not be on this operation. Too much is at stake." Wil opened his mouth to say something, but stopped seeming to consider her words. She watched silently as he sucked in a large breath of air and held it. A moment later he slowly released it. She could see the pain and anger in his eyes and felt for him. How could she not? An implant was motivated to serve and protect the Companions. *Their* Companions. Everything William Boone had been through with the FLE had violated this imperative. She was surprised he had not had a mental break down now that she could see the anguish in the other man's eyes. She gently patted his arm. "William." The use of his first name instantly caught his attention. "Da'an trusts you. He believes in you. And so do I." "How do you know that he does?" Wil asked, surprised at the compassion, sincerity and truthfulness he saw in Siobhan's face. He now seriously doubted Sandoval's claims that the CVI's motivational imperative didn't allow for strong emotions. It certaintly didn't appear to do so in Beckett's case. She smiled gently, an amused look on her face. "You truly don't see it. Do you?" "See what?" Wil asked. "He cares for you." She answered simply. "I'm just an implant. Why should he care for me any more than Sandoval?" Wil asked, skeptically. "Ah, but you are quite different from Sandoval. Aren't you, Commander?" Siobhan said. "Your words are highly valued by him. Even *I* have heard the Irish Companion speak of you with high praise. But more than that I can see it in Da'an's treatment of you. He is concerned for you. I have seen few Companions as concerned for their implants as he is of you." "And your Companion? How are you regarded by him?" Wil asked hesitantly. Siobhan shrugged. "I am a valued servant of the Companions. Just as you are." She replied non comittally. Seeing the American implant was about to ask her another question she was certain she would not like to answer she started walking to the nearest shuttle. She could tell her words had eliminated some of the concern of her fellow implant. She was no longer concerned with his own state. "Come, we better get started." Wil nodded slowly to himself and quickly caught up to her and boarded the shuttle. Several moments later as the shuttle lifted from the ground, Wil glanced over at Siobhan seeing her roll up her the sleeve of her arm to make her skrill plainly visible. He smiled slightly at that, having just finished doing so, himself. Feeling his eyes on her she looked at him with an eyebrow raised in a questioning manner. "I just wanted to say thanks." Wil said. "And good luck." Siobhan smiled but said nothing as she turned her attention to the virtual shield of the shuttle as the shuttle and seven more like it entered interdimensional. ------------------------------------ "Preparing to leave interdimensional." The pilot reported. "All teams, report." Siobhan ordered through her headset. Wil leaned toward the pilot. "What is the weather condition?" The pilot punched a few of the virtual screen icons, nodding to himself. "Heavy storm activity in the area, sir." 'Maybe my lucks finally changing.' Wil smiled slowly. "Good. Take us in directly over the target as planned." "Yes, sir." "Will that not pose an unnecessary risk?" Siobhan asked, surprised by Boone's risky order. "Recent storms in the area should cover our return out of interdimensional. If all goes well, we'll have the place secured before they even realize what happened." Wil replied, as he caught the two shocktroops in their shuttle look at one another. "Leaving interdimensional." The pilot reported. An instant later eight Taelon shuttles returned to normal space with a thunderous like sound that blended perfectly into the heavy rain they found themselves in. The shuttles quickly landed, debarking the troops and then lifted off again to a safer location. Wil quickly took point with Siobhan and the two armored shocktroops that been in the shuttle. They quickly settled in a small cluster of trees, thoroughly drenched by the heavy rain. They were surprised to find no obvious security guards at any of the egress points as the other teams reported in. "Perhaps they have already moved to another location." Siobhan whispered. Wil shook his head slowly. "If that's true we're going to have to have a talk with your informer. He's the only one outside of Companion Security that could have tipped them off." Siobhan nodded grimly, wiping an errant strand wet hair behind her ear. "Or we have a breech somewhere in Companion Security." Wil frowned at that. "I hope not. Everyone would be suspect then." "I know." The female implant replied. Wil sighed and focused a pair a rangefinders on the buildings. Seeing no movement he signaled the other teams. "Secure target." The two shocktroops with he and Siobhan quickly leapt to their feet and trotted ahead of the implants. Wil and Siobhan paced themselves more slowly. Casting a quick glance at her he could see she was as suspicious as he about the emptiness of the place. Only a few meters from the entrance nearest them a quick string of staccato cracks could be heard. A sound Wil and Siobhan both readily recognized as weapons fire. "Team four to one. Hostile fire at." Static filled the line causing Wil to wince. "Get to cover!" Wil yelled to the others. An instant later he saw several of the buildings shuttered windows open. Wil tackled Siobhan as the terrorists opened fire on the Companion Agents, cutting down the two shocktroopers easily. Both implants came up firing, obliterating half the buildings wall with the combined force of their skrills. Seeing the terrorists were stunned by this the pair scrambled for the relative safety of the buildings entrance. Once inside the cover of the entrances overhang Wil contacted the other teams. "Gallager here sir." Was the only reply Wil received, causing him to sigh in frustration. Gallager was with team five. "Where are you Gallager?" "Pinned down at north east entrance, sir." Gallager replied, obviously scared at the situation but well trained enough to know better than to attempt an escape the way he had come. The occasional burst of weapons fire could be clearly heard by Wil through the communications piece in his ear. He could tell the same terrorists that had struck at his team was now targeting Gallager. "Lieutenant Beckett and I are at the north west entrance. Do you think you can make it here?" Wil asked as he glanced at Siobhan. She nodded in understanding and quickly took up a position to cover the other agents progress to their position. "Yes, sir." Gallager responded, though with some trepidation. "Good. Wait for my signal. You'll know it when you see it." Wil ordered. "Yes, sir." Wil tried the door only to find it locked. If the situation had not been so grim he would have laughed at this fact given how flimsy the door was. A coupled of good kicks and he was in. Listening carefully he was able to locate the sound of the gunfire and quickly trotted down the hall to find three men firing an assortment of automatic weapons. "Don't move!" He yelled out only to have one of the trio turn and fire at him, as well. He quickly dove to his left and fire his skrill as he came out of the roll. The blast obliterated all three terrorists and part of the wall immediately behind them. Without even looking back will ran back to Siobhan's position as he heard her mutter in Irish over the commline. He returned in time to see a man in Companion shocktroop body armor dive into their area, breathing hard. "Agent Gallager?" Beckett looked questioningly at the panting agent. "Ma'am." Gallager wheezed. Wil grinned at him. "Glad you could make it." "Thank you, sir." The agent replied quickly recovering his breath. "Should we call the shuttles for a pick up?" Siobhan asked as she fired another blast from her skrill. "No." Wil said. "They used surface-to-air missiles in the assassination attempt on Da'an and brought more when the D.C. Embassy was taken. I'm sure they've got more here." "We should at least report in." Gallager put in. "Wouldn't do us any good, right now." Wil pointed his skrill at another terrorist he spotted and fired. Wil sucked in a deep breath starting to feel the drain of his skrill. "We call in and then try and secure the headquarters to this place." Siobhan merely nodded as Gallager reloaded his assault rifle before joining her in holding off the occasional terrorist that showed up. Wil dialed up his global, not surprised to see Da'an answer. "Your situation, Commander?" The American Companion asked quickly. "We need backup. Only myself, Beckett and one of the soldiers with us are still alive. They knew we we're coming." Wil reported. "Assistance shall be sent immediately." Da'an stated and cut the link. Wil patted Beckett and Gallager on the shoulder. "OK. Let's go. Hopefully our information about their headquarters being in this building is true." The trio quickly trotted down a long hall to a stair case they had been informed led to the nerve center of the FLE's operations. Carefully they tread down the stairs careful to cover themselves as they went. When they had reached the bottom of the stairs they saw an open door before them. Wil and Siobhan exchanged a wary look, knowing they were walking into an obvious trap. "Back up top," Wil ordered gesturing back to the stairs they had just come down. "Hold it!" All three Companion agents instantly froze. Wil and Siobhan slowly looked up to see a masked individual holding one of the shocktroops hostage. Pain was obvious on the soldier's bruised and bloody face. "Drop your weapons." Gallager looked at Boone and Beckett before complying as both implants threw down their spare pistols. Wil exchanged a look with Beckett and smiled sheepishly. 'Old habits die hard.' "Welcome, Mr. Boone Ms. Beckett. Please come in. The other agent stays outside." A voice echoed. Siobhan tugged on Wil's sleeve to gain his attention and pointed to a small speaker in the corner near the door. Nodding Wil and Siobhan proceeded into the room to find seven men and a woman standing there. Most of them the implants recognized instantly. In the far corner two more wounded Companion security agents were bound and gagged. "Commander William Boone." Martin O'Shea seemed to savor the implants name as he spoke. Wil said nothing watching the terrorists in the room as his CVI revealed each one to him. Quite an eclectic mix of former terrorists. Martin O'Shea, James Harrington, Kenji Shutatsi, Guillermo Hernandez, Dirk Mueller, Ram Krivasa, Anastasia Samarova and Derek Bgo. None had been well known in terrorist circles until they joined the FLE. O'Shea smiled coldly. "We only wanted you, Mr. Boone. But the lovely Ms. Beckett is a nice bonus." "Why me?" Wil asked. "Because you are responsible for so many of our troubles." James Harrington said, anger obvious in his expression. "You killed James Littleton for a start. Without him we can't continue." "He planned to kill millions of innocent people. I had no choice in the matter." Wil said, knowing full well his words would be ignored. "No one is innocent, Commander. Especially anyone who supports the Taelons." O'Shea said smoothly. He smiled coldly. "I think it is only fair that you fully understand why you are going to die. Don't you?" "Your running out of time, O'Shea." Wil said quietly, staring at O'Shea calmly. O'Shea actually laughed. "I know that, Mr. Boone. We all do." He gestured to include the others. "We are already dead." O'Shea grabbed Wil harshly "The FLE is dead because of you! I intend to make you pay for that before I die." With that he slammed a fist into Wil's stomach doubling him over in pain. Siobhan started to move towards O'Shea but stopped as several weapons were instantly pointed at her and the other hostages. "Don't be so eager to die for your Companion friends, Ms. Beckett." Harrington cautioned with a smug grin. Siobhan glanced over to Wil who was coughing but slowly straitening himself up. She could see what patience he had with these terrorists was gone. "Perhaps it is you who shouldn't be so eager for death, Mr. Harrington." She replied after a moment. "So why didn't you target just me? Why harm all those other people?" Wil rasped out, coughing once to clear his throat. O'Shea shook his head in disapproval at Wil, relatively calm now since he had struck the implant. "You do not understand what you have done. Do you?" Wil just remained silent, unable to see anyway to reason with O'Shea or any of the other terrorists in the room. As far as they were concerned he was the enemy. His presence with Siobhan and the other Companion agents just reinforced their opinions of him. 'If Siobhan wasn't here...' He left the thought unfinished, knowing that even if he revealed the truth the FLE would not believe him. He sighed to himself in resignation. O'Shea frowned at Wil's lack of response. "I see you do not. So I shall explain it to you." He said. "I'm sure you will." Beckett replied evenly, surprising Wil with the almost sarcastic tone in her voice he heard. O'Shea merely smiled in response for a moment before focusing his attention fully on Wil. "How is it an intelligent, educated man, decorated veteran of the S. I. War, and former Police Captain simply walk away from everything humanity has ever given him? Was it because of your wife's accidental death?" O'Shea asked. Shrugging at Wil's lack of response, O'Shea turned away from him. "What did they offer you Commander? What could they possibly give you to forsake your own people? To become a traitor to the world?" "I am not a traitor to humanity." Wil replied calmly, not allowing the surge of emotion he felt at the mention of Kate's death to be seen. "I'm just like everyone else. I'm trying to do what I think is best." "And your best is what? Enslaving humanity? Corrupting everything that ever mattered to humanity for the sake of those aliens?" O'Shea demanded. He waved his hand dismissively before Wil could even respond. "It doesn't matter, I suppose. If it were not you, it would have been another." "Then why are you trying to kill me?" Wil asked. "For the same reason James Littleton targeted Da'an." Harrington stated. "You are a symbol to people. A symbol of the benevolence and concern the Taelons have for humanity." Wil looked at Siobhan with a skeptical look finding her own expression a mixture of contempt, amusement and concern. "So that's why Da'an was targeted? Because he's popular?" She asked somewhat in disbelief. "Yes. And when you saved Da'an and it was believed you had been captured, perhaps even killed, you became the Companion's own damned martyr!" O'Shea answered coldly. "So how is killing me now going to change my so-called martyrdom?" Wil asked reasonably. "Because we will die with you. Loyal servants of humanity murdered by the brutal servants of the Companion occupation. We may die, but the Front shall flourish!" O'Shea spoke with a fanaticism that sent a chill down Wil's spine. "It sounds as if you are the ones with the martyr complex." Siobhan said, causing Wil to wince at the sarcasm in her voice. "We shall see, Ms. Beckett." O'Shea said, nodding his head to Harrington. "Kill them." Harrington ordered pointing to the two bound agents. Wil and Siobhan exchanged a quick glance. They couldn't simply allow the execution of two men. Siobhan nodded once staring at Wil intently as she did so. Wil looked down for a moment, strengthening his resolve in what they had to do next. He nodded once. Instantly the two implants dove in opposite directions firing their skrills. Wil took out the gunmen preparing to shoot the hostages with a single discharge for his skrill necessity of survival overriding his concern for killing the two men. He could hear Siobhan firing her skrill and the sound of gunfire but was concentrating too hard on his primary goal to see what was happening. A moment later he felt his legs swept out from under him tumbling to the floor. He hissed in pain as his head hit the floor. Shaking his head to clear it he looked up to see O'Shea aiming a pistol at him. A second later three small crimson blossoms exploded on O'Shea's chest. O'Shea looked surprise before he fell to the floor. Wil quickly scrambled away from the dead terrorist and skrilled Anastasia Samarova before she could impale a nasty looking combat knife into Siobhan Beckett's back. Beckett finished off the man she was fighting whirling around in time to see Samarova slump to the floor. For a moment the tiny room was eerily silent as the two implants looked around themselves in surprise. All the terrorists lay sprawled throughout the room. By the looks of them Wil was certain most, if not all, were dead. Hearing a scraping sound at the door both implants turned to find Gallager supporting the injured agent who had been held hostage in the hall with a small pistol in his hand. Both Wil and Siobhan smiled in relief and lowered their skrills. Siobhan instantly went to help the two still bound agents while Wil helped Gallager settle the third injured agent in a nearby chair. Thunder could be heard outside causing all in the room to listen carefully. The rumble lasted a full thirty seconds with dissipating. "Jesus. Did they send every shuttle on the planet?" Gallager wondered aloud, knowing full well the string of thunderous claps could only have been made by a large number of Taelon shuttles coming out of interdimensional. Wil merely shook his head, grateful for the arrival. It meant he didn't have to worry about having to fight their way out of the terrorist compound. He looked over at Gallager to find the agent staring at the form of O'Shea. Gallager looked up at Wil looking a bit stunned. "I killed him, didn't I?" The agent asked quietly. "It was either you or him." Wil nodded slowly. "Yes. You probably saved my life." "Why doesn't that make me feel any better?" Gallager asked. "It's not supposed to." Wil replied honestly, He understood all to well the agents reaction. "But it had to be done." "I know." Gallager replied quietly and walked over to sit by the other agent he had helped. Wil let him go. He was surprised at the level of relief he felt when he heard the newly arrived reinforcements calling for him and Beckett. It was finally over. Epilogue "Agent Gallager has been approved for implantation. He seems quite pleased at both of our recommendations on his behalf." Siobhan finished with a smile. "Good. He's an excellent agent." Wil replied. Inside he was not too enthusiastic about turning another human into a servant of the Companions, but in Gallagers case he felt it was probably for the best. The man had seemed unable to get past the fact he had killed another human being in the two weeks since the incident. He had seemed to become a lifeless automaton. Wil only could hope the man's high morals could mitigate some of motivational imperative imparted by the CVI he would receive. Approaching the shuttle Wil stopped to take one last look around feeling better than he had in quite some time. The FLE had been eliminated, making both the Synod and the Liberation quite happy. He was certain Door's was choking on the fact that it was the Companions he had to thank but then again the Synod had not been particularly pleased with the notion of having to thank a terrorist for saving Da'an during the embassy hostage crisis either. In the end things balanced out. William Boone shook Siobhan Beckett's hand enthusiastically. "A pleasure working with you again, Lieutenant." "And you, Commander." She returned his heartfelt regards. "A pity we were not able to get out to Strandhill to tour the excavation work." "Perhaps another time?" Wil asked, briefly sad that he didn't get a chance to visit Ma'el's tomb or the White Horse Tavern again. His last visit hadn't exactly allowed him to enjoy the beauty of the land and it's people. The last two weeks of meetings, debriefings, investigations and arrests to finish rounding up the FLE had kept the pair too busy for any recreational activity. "I look forward to it, Commander." She replied, sincerely. With that Wil entered the shuttle where Zo'or already awaited him. He could tell by the displeased look on the Companion's face that he was not happy with the delay, however short it had been. Wil quickly strapped himself in and told the pilot to launch. They were headed back to the United States and Wil couldn't be more pleased to know that it was Da'an who had very nearly demanded his return, despite Zo'or's protests that he needed Boone's services for a short time more. Quo'on had made the final decision and so Wil now found himself returning home. Not even Zo'or's seemingly bad mood could erase the smile from Wil's face. "I congratulate you on your fine work, Commander." Zo'or said moments after the shuttle had entered interdimensional. "Your actions have eliminated a most grave threat to the Taelons." "Thank you." Wil said, humbly. "I am most pleased to see that you resolve did not waver in eliminating these vermin. I had wondered as to your fortitude in this situation." Zo'or said. "You doubted me? Why?" Wil asked, suddenly concerned. "You have in the past shown an inordinate amount of restraint in the preservation of human lives. " Zo'or gestured slightly. "Even when such preservation would ultimately prove more costly." "All life is precious to me, Zo'or. I've killed before and as such I hope I never need do so again. Despite my wishes I am certain it will happen though." Wil replied, a small hint of resignation entering his voice. "The taking of a life should never be an easy thing. Never." Zo'or seemed to pause at the conviction he heard in the human implants words. He could tell William Boone truly believed what he said. In his experience, few humans had such morals. Suddenly Zo'or understood part of Da'an's seeming affection for humanity. Despite their inferiority they were capable of more than he had previously believed. "I once told you that I had considered a possibility before that once I had not thought possible." Zo'or stated slowly. 'Great. Back to this conversation.' Wil looked at the Taelon silently. Zo'or seemed surprised that the implant beside him said nothing. He shifted slightly, as if suddenly uncomfortable. "That possibility I spoke of was in error." Wil frowned in confusion. 'What in the world is he talking about?' Zo'or smiled coldly. "I can see by your expression you do not comprehend my meaning. It is of no relevance now in regards to you." "If you believe that is so." Wil replied, still confused at Zo'or's odd behavior. He heard the sneering tone but ignored it more concerned with the Taelon's words. Just when he thought he had this Taelon figured out. "While our time together has been short, Commander, I have found it quite illuminating. I thank you." Zo'or said. Wil tried hard not to gape at the Companion to the United Nations in surprise. He swallowed and looked as humble as any implant would have been. "Thank you." Several minutes later Wil found himself slowly strolling the halls of the D.C. Embassy, enjoying the cool, dry, airy feel of the building. Zo'or had been dropped off in New York without a further word spoken between them much to Wil's relief. He hadn't realized how much he had come to enjoy the Embassy until now. He couldn't help but smile as he strode up the incline to Da'an's office to see the American Companion and Agent Sandoval in discussion. Lili was standing near the window, obviously bored by the expression on her face. Da'an glanced up and quickly stood. Seeing him Lili flashed him a smile, but remained silent. "Sinaui Euhura. Commander. It is most gratifying to welcome you back to my service." Da'an said gesturing. Wil wasn't certain but he could have sworn he saw a small, pleased smile cross Ronald Sandoval's face at Da'an's obviously welcoming tones. He gave the Taelon salute to Da'an and bowed his head ever so slightly. "I am glad to be back." "I'm glad to see you came out of this ordeal well, Boone." Sandoval said politely. Wil simply nodded, unsure as to this sudden equanimity from Sandoval. "The Synod is quite pleased by you and Agent Beckett's performance in eliminating the threat of the Front for the Liberation of Earth." Da'an informed the implant, quite pleased. "We serve the Companions." Wil replied automatically, forgetting for a moment that he was no longer speaking with Zo'or. Da'an looked at him oddly before continuing. "Of course." Da'an gestured to Lili. "You are relieved of your duties. I offer you a few days respite from your duties in my thanks for your assistance during this crises." Lili smiled uncertainly. She slowly shook her head. "Thank you. But I think I'd rather remain if that's all right?" Da'an nodded with a pleased smile. "You dedication is commendable. It shall be as you desire but know that my offer is available any time you desire to exercise your right to it." Lili smiled. "Thank you." "Agent Sandoval, will you please see to the security arrangements of the Hospital event for later this afternoon?" Da'an requested of the implant. Ron nodded instantly, knowing an order, even so politely phrased, when he heard it. "Of course, Da'an." With that Ron quit the room. "Should I assist him, Da'an?" Wil asked. "No. I need to speak with you of recent events." Da'an replied. "I'll go organize my report so you can be up to speed as quickly as possible." Lili said suddenly, bowing her head to Da'an as the Companion silently bid her leave with a gesture of his hand. 'Coward!' Wil thought with some humor as Lili quickly left the now tense room. Wil decided to wait for Da'an to speak, deciding that discretion was the better part of valor. Especially given the recent situation between he and the American Companion. Da'an seemed to study him intently for several long minutes before slowly descending from his chair to glide gracefully over to a virtual glass window. "The Synod is quite pleased with your resolution of the terrorist threat." Da'an said quietly as he stared out over the cityscape. Wil slowly joined the Taelon at the window, considering his words. While Da'ans words and tone had not indicated any displeasure the lack of approval clearly indicated the Companion was concerned about something. "I gathered as much from Zo'or." Wil replied, keeping his voice equally neutral. "Zo'or has indicated some favor towards you recently. I find this curious, given your past interactions. Have you any explanations for this change in opinion?" Da'an asked, watching the human from the corner of his eye. "I have none. I can only assume that he found my actions appropriate for the situation." Wil offered. He was himself still puzzled at Zo'or's recent benevolent attitude towards him in general. He couldn't help but think the devious Taelon was up to something. "Perhaps." Da'an said settling his gaze fully on the taller human. Wil swallowed uncertainly at the intense azure gaze wondering what Da'an was thinking. After a moment the Taelon turned back to the view of the city. "Tell me, Commander. Why did you disobey my orders regarding investigation of this terrorist group?" Da'an asked in a tone that sent a chill down Wil's spine. "I didn't disobey your orders. You ordered me to end my own investigation. I did as you said." Wil countered defensively. "And yet, Captain Marquette sent you the information she and Agent Sandoval had gathered. I can only assume you instructed her to do so." Da'an said. "I only asked that she keep me apprised of the situation." Wil answered. "And how does this not violate my directive?" Da'an asked. "I did no investigation upon my own until Lieutenant Beckett recognized several individuals in Captain Marquette's information she sent me." Wil said. "You use the letter of my words to violate the spirit of the directive." Da'an chastised the implant. Wil frowned. "I did what was in the best interest of the Companions." He stated flatly, earning him an odd look from Da'an. "There are some in the Synod that question your unorthodox interpretations of our directives to you and our other implants. I begin now to see their concern." Da'an said. Wil swallowed nervously. He couldn't afford the Companions to find out what he was. "As I once asked you does not each implant bring their own unique experiences and perspective to their assignment?" Da'an smiled at that. "Your words are truly spoken. However, your evasion is not an answer." Da'an pointed out. "It seems you have learned as much from Zo'or as it appears he has learned from you." "So it would seem." Wil replied neutrally not entirely certain he was comfortable with the idea of associating with Zo'or. Da'an merely looked at him questioningly. Wil sighed in resignation. "I have no answer for you Da'an. I can only say that I was fulfilling my role as protector to the Companions. Nothing more." "Are you certain there was nothing else motivating you?" Da'an asked as he strode back to the dais. Wil looked down for a moment in consideration. When he looked back up again he found Da'an seated once more watching him. "I cannot say that I did not gain some satisfaction in eliminating the terrorists." Wil said. Da'an kept staring at him calmly. "And did you gain the same satisfaction in the death of these individuals?" Da'an asked slowly. Wil's had snapped up in anger. "What? How could you think that?" Wil demanded hotly, seeming to startle the American Companion briefly with his outburst. "Are you saying you believe I disobeyed your order for revenge? Haven't we already been through this discussion once?" Wil asked, with sickened disbelief plainly on his face. Da'an blushed blue and closed his eyes. After a moment he regained his composure and opened his eyes to see Wil's still angry and stricken face. Hurt and the perceived lack of faith in him. "I am sorry, Commander. I did not intend the meaning you have discerned from my words." "Your evasion is not an answer." Wil quoted the Taelon's own words back to him, causing Da'an to blink slowly. He nodded once. "You are correct." Da'an said simply. Wil sighed in frustration. Taking a deep breath he held it for a moment before releasing it slowly to calm himself. He looked the American Companion in the eyes as he spoke. "I did what I thought was necessary, Da'an. That doesn't mean it was the right thing to do." Wil sighed and turned away from the Companion "I do not condone the taking of life, even in this situation. I've seen far too much death to ever be cavalier about such a thing. I only know I had to do what I did. The threat needed to be eliminated." He turned back to see Da'an watching him carefully. "It was simply what had to be done." Wil finished. Da'an looked down for a moment sadly. "My apologies to you William Boone. There are a rare few individuals I have met in my lifetime that cling so strongly to their beliefs as you do. This has been an even more rare event amongst my contact with your people. I no longer doubt your intentions." "I have never met anyone with a more strong moral compass than you." Wil murmured absently to himself, remembering a phrase his departed wife had often used to describe him. "What was that you said Commander?" Da'an asked curiously. Wil smiled sadly. "Something my wife used to say to me." "She was a wise woman. I regret that I never had the opportunity to meet her." Da'an said softly, seeing a small flash of pain and loss in the implants eyes. "I think she would have liked you." Wil said, truly believing Kate Boone would have liked the American Companion very much. "I am honored you would think so." Da'an said, humbly. "Would you care to walk in the gardens before you depart?" Wil asked suddenly, surprising the American Companion at the abrupt change in conversation. Seeing the Companion's puzzled expression he smiled sheepishly. "It's been sometime since I've been able to tour the gardens. I believe many of the plants should be in bloom. It would seem to be an ideal place to prepare yourself for your excursion this afternoon." Wil offered in a halfhearted explanation. He really didn't want to explain to the Companion that he simply wanted to be some where quiet and peaceful. Da'an smiled suddenly. "An excellent suggestion, Commander. You will accompany me, of course?" Wil smiled brightly. "Of course." "Good. Perhaps you can help me fathom a joke I overheard the other day." Da'an said as he started towards the hall that would lead down to the gardens. "A joke?" Wil asked in surprise. 'What have you people been doing while I was gone?' "Yes," Da'an said gesturing as he explained. "I heard Captain Marquette inquire as to the requisite number of Taelons it took to replace an illumination device your people call a lightbulb. I found the question most curious and was ...." Wil groaned to himself as Da'an started to explain in excruciating detail the matter at hand. 'I'll get you for this, Lili.' He thought as he followed the American Companion chuckling. Fin.

Copyright 1998 Karolyn Gray and Skrillwerks