"Are you sure this was such a great idea?" Willow asked, for what was probably the hundredth time. Xander had persuaded her to go with him on a hiking expedition, through a local desert. This had been fine till they had somehow gotten separated from the others, and then quickly gotten lost. Willow wiped her brow, she couldn't believe how hot it had gotten.
"Look, how about coming up with some suggestions rather than just complaining," Xander snapped.
Willow opened her flask and tried to take a drink. She threw it to the ground as she found that it was empty. Turning to Xander she said, "Hey it wasn't my idea to..." Willow stopped as she lost her footing, slipping down an embankment, As she fell she wondered why she hadn't seen it there. Willow grabbed at the ground, trying to slow her descent. It didn't work as her fingers just slipped through the soil. She hit the ground hard, her leg twisting under her.
"Willow!" Xander called, peering down from the top, "Are you okay?"
"I think so." Willow tried to stand up, crying out as there was a burst of pain in her ankle, "I think I twisted my ankle."
"Wait there," Xander called starting to sound frantic. He disappeared from the edge for a moment, before coming back and calling, "I'll get help."
"Xander, wait! Xander!" There was no answer. "How is he going to get help if he doesn't know where he is?" Willow asked herself. She watched the top of the bank, but there was no sign of the young man.
Tara reached the bridge just as the White star exited hyperspace and entered normal space. "I assume that you heard that," Tessa said, turning to greet Tara.
Tara couldn't speak. She just nodded, still feeling numb from what had happened.
"So far we haven't picked up any ships approaching us, but we're going to have to be careful."
"Can... Can I talk to you?" Tara struggled to ask. She kept telling herself that she couldn't fall apart until she'd found a way to help Willow.
"Sure." As Tessa led her into the office she said, "I've been in touch with Sheridan. The Excalibur is on route to help us, though it's still some distance away. He estimates it'll be..."
"That was Willow," Tara said quietly.
It took Tessa a few moments to work out what Tara meant, "Surely you don't mean..."
"They used her to activate the Shadow Vessel."
"How do you know?"
"I..." Tara stopped, not sure how to explain the connection to Willow. "I just know."
"I really am sorry."
Tara nodded, "I'm going to try to get her back."
"That's never been done before."
Tara closed her eyes a moment, trying to gather her resolve, telling herself she'd been expecting this. "Has anyone ever tried?"
"Good point, no they haven't. There have been cases of people who had been mind wiped through other ways, and their original personality restored. I suggest you look in Babylon 5's databases for any information."
"Thanks, I'll do that." Tara turned and started to leave.
"There's one other thing. You said the Shadow Vessel fought back, when you tried to stop it?"
"Well several years ago Psicorps tried to ship a number of telepaths to the Shadows to use as controllers for their ships."
"Yes, I... You think that's what happened? The controller was a telepath so they were able to fight back."
"It seems the most logical reason. After all this is the first time this has happened. It means we won't be able to use you if we do encounter any more Shadow Vessels."
Tara nodded, they both knew that in a straight fight they didn't stand much of a chance. "I'll go and get started."
As time passed, with no sign of Xander, Willow tried standing again. She was surprised to find there was no pain in her ankle. A part of her knew that she ought to stay put, that it was her best change to be found, but she sensed that she need to get moving. As she started walking a breeze began to pick up. It started to get cold as the wind grew and as it began to get dark. Looking up Willow saw something moving in front of the sun, blocking it out. Then it began to move away again and the sky grew light again. Shivering, despite the returning heat, Willow continued walking.
Getting to her quarters Tara accessed Babylon 5's databases. Once she had access she said, "I want a list of anyone who's personality has been erased, and later on restored."
Tara was sitting meditating when the computer beeped to tell her it had finished it's search. Going over she saw there was only two results. The first was a woman called Talia Winters. She had been an unwitting part of a Psicorps experiment. They had implanted a second personality within her psyche which would act as a spy. When she received the correct mental command the second personality had taken over, destroying her original one. Tara read that a few years later her original personality had been restored using a recording which had been made by the Vorlon ambassador Kosh.
The second was a serial killer, called the Black Rose. He had been sentenced to death of personality and had been mind wiped. However that punishment hadn't satisfied the families of his victims. They had hunted him down and had used a Centauri telepath to undo the mind wipe, before killing him.
Sitting back Tara thought about what she had found out. In both cases there had been a recording of the persons original personality, which had been used to help restore it. Tara started to lose hope, knowing that she didn't have one for Willow. Then it occurred to her that she might not need one.
Willow hadn't gotten far when she heard a strange sound behind her. Turning she saw a patch of darkness. Then Willow realised it wasn't just darkness, but emptiness, a spot where the universe had disappeared. Black tendrils grew out from the darkness, spreading towards her. Willow didn't know what would happen if they caught her, but she knew it wouldn't be good. Turning Willow started running as fast as she could.
Tessa hurried to the bridge. "Oh damn," She said, seeing a pair of Shadow Vessels on the screen. "how many?"
"Get us out of here."
"Opening jump point." The particle tunnel surrounding the jump point opened up in front of them and the Whitestar began to move down it towards the singularity that would take it through into hyperspace.
"They're opening fire," A technician called.
Through the view screen they saw a ball of energy go past the ship.
"They missed," the pilot said. No sooner had he said this than the jump point began to change colour.
"They weren't aiming at us," Tessa said, "Turn us around, full power to the engines."
The white stars engines turned it round, then the main engines fired, taking it out of the jump point, which had started to collapse. As the jump point collapsed the particle tunnel that surrounded it fell inwards catching the back of the white star, sending it spinning out of control.
"How bad is it?" Tessa asked as soon as they had managed to get the ship under control.
"Main engines are down."
Tessa looked at the approaching Shadow vessels, "This is not good."
Willow looked over her shoulder. The emptiness wasn't slowing at all. She had a few seconds before it reached her. Turning back to the cliff Willow heard a voice in her head, "If you fall, I'll catch you." Willow took a moment to prepare herself then started running. Willow's legs burned as she pressed herself to run faster and faster, trying to keep clear of the emptiness. Then her foot hit the edge of the cliff and she propelled herself over, into the abyss.