Tara reached her mind out to each shadow vessel in turn being careful to withdraw as soon as she felt it starting to react. As she scanned the third ship a smile of recognition formed on her face.
One moment Willow was falling, wondering how long it would take her to hit something, or even if she would hit anything The next she was floating still. After a moments thought she realised something was holding her up. Looking up Willow knew what it was. "Tara," She whispered.
"Willow can you hear me?"
"Just about. Where am I?"
"You're inside a Shadow vessel."
For a moment Willow couldn't think of anything to say. Finally she said, "That's... not good."
"I'm coming to get you, but first we've got a slight situation."
One the bridge of the Whitestar one the pilot said, "One of the ships is firing."
"Everyone brace for..." Tessa stopped as she saw that the Shadow Vessel wasn't aiming at them. It's energy beam went through one of the other Shadow vessels, slicing it in two. The other two stopped and hung motionless for a moment. Tessa got the impression that they weren't used to one of their own attacking them. Not wanting to wait round to see what would happen Tessa said, "Use whatever engines we have left to get us the hell out of here."
"Activating get us the hell out of here engines," The pilot said.
The ship began moving away from the battle as quickly as possible, though not quickly enough for Tessa's liking.
Tessa watched as the renegade Shadow vessel destroyed the other two. It turned and headed towards the planet. Tessa sighed with relief.
"Ms Holloran, the techno mage's ship has just left."
It only took a moment for Tessa to work out who was flying it. "Tara."
Tara hurried to her case and opening it up pulled out a short metal rod. "Thanks Faith," She whispered as she slipped it into her pocket. She left the room. Technicians were hurrying about, moving to repair the damage to the ship. Tara hurried to the docking bay. Hoping it would work Tara placed her hand against the control panel. She was a little surprised as the door opened. Going in she said to herself, "Well I guess that was the easy part, how do I control this thing?"
As Tara sat down in the cockpit and started looking over the controls she was surprised when some of them started to light up. She was even more surprised when a voice said, "Welcome aboard Ms Maclay."
"Uh, you know me?" Tara asked, not used to space ships talking to her.
"Ms Rosenberg programmed me to recognise your biosigns."
"Why didn't she tell me?"
"I'm afraid I'm rarely able to figure out what Ms Rosenberg is thinking, or if she even does think at all."
"Well we need to get after her. She's in that Shadow vessel."
"Beginning launch procedures."
As the ship was heading towards the Shadow Vessel Tara asked, "Why haven't you spoken before?"
"I communicate with Ms Rosenberg through her neural interface. I must admit that I find this form of communication to be... quaint."
As she approached the Shadow vessel she saw a small capsule being fired from it. The vessel then turned and headed towards the sun. As the ship moved up alongside the capsule the computer said, "One more thing, if you ever hurt Ms Rosenberg then at the first opportunity I will space you."
"A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend."
"I'll keep that in mind." Seeing that the capsule was being brought on board Tara got up and raced to the hold. As she got their she found a large black, oblong object with veins running along it's surface. The object opened up and Willow stumbled out. Falling into Tara's arms she started sobbing.
"Shh," Tara said, holding onto Willow. "It's okay, you're safe now."
"I was so lost."
"I found you," Tara said, "I'll always find you." After they had been holding each other for a while Tara said, "We better get back to the Whitestar."
"No, we need to go to the planet, or they might destroy any evidence."
Tara frowned, "I know you want to stop the people behind this, but don't you think we've been through enough?"
"You don't understand, they have Shadow technology," Willow explained.
"I know..." Tara started, not getting what Willow meant.
"We can use it. To find a cure for the plague."
Tara's face lit up as she understood, "Of course."
On the bridge of the Whitestar Tessa asked, "What's Tara doing?"
"She picked up something from the Shadow vessel, now she's heading to the planet surface."
"Dammit, does she have a death wish?" When no one answered, She went on, "Okay what about the Shadow vessel?"
"It flew into the sun."
"Well that's new. Are there any other's in the area?"
"Okay then send some fighters to the surface, see if we can stop Tara getting in too much..."
A technician turned and said, "Ms Halloran, there's a jump point forming. It's big."
"How big?" Tessa had the feeling that, given how her luck was going, it'd probably turn out to be a planet killer.
"That big," The tech said as the jump point appeared. A moment later a ship started to emerge from it.
Tessa smiled, "Well look who's arrived just after the nick of time."
"So what's the plan?" Tara asked as they approached the planet, "Since I'm guess they're not going to let us walk in and get the information we need."
"That probably would be expecting too much," Willow agreed, "Also sneaking in isn't really an option since they're probably already tacking us. So I guess the plan is we hope they still want me alive and don't shoot the ship down and after that... we'll have to see how it goes. Thanks."
"I was just telling Ms Rosenberg that there is only one ship on the planet and only minimal life signs," The ship said.
"I'm guessing that in order to avoid attracting attention to the base it'll only have a minimal staff, which will make things easier."
"So the plan isn't totally insane."
As Willow set the ship down she said, "Now that was easy, though the guards outside might not be."
"How many are there?" Tara asked.
"Three at the moment."
Tara nodded, she shook the small rod she was holding and it extended into a long staff, "We'll have to hurry." Tara started moving as the doors were still opening. Coming out she caught one of the guards round the head before he could react. Another began to reach for his gun, but Tara was already moving towards him. Swinging her pike she caught him across the stomach, knocking him out. The third moved back, pulling his gun out. He aimed the PPG, but before he could fire Tara swung her staff round catching him across the arm, making him drop the PPG. He moved back pulling out a shock stick. He swung at Tara a couple of times, but she was always able to move out of the way. After a wild swing put him off balance, Tara swung the pike along the ground, knocking him over, She then knocked him out. Turning she saw that Willow had dealt with the other guard.
"How did you do that?"
"It's hard to fight someone who knows what you're going to do before you do it," Tara said, tapping her forehead.
Willow nodded, "Oh yeah. We'd better get going."
They started towards the compound. "How are we going to get in?" Tara asked,
"I'll handle the door if you keep an eye out."
Tara nodded, looking round for any guards. A moment later the door opened. "So what are we looking for?" Tara asked.
"Somewhere where I can access there databases or, better yet, someone in charge."
"Maybe we should have asked one of those guards."
"It's not that large a place, how long could it take?" Walking down the hallway Willow stopped at a doorway saying, "There's a terminal in here."
They went into a small office. There was a desk with a computer terminal at one end. Willow sat down at it and started working at it. After a few moments she said, "I think that I've... oh dear."
"They were cleverer than I thought. I've set off a silent alarm. I'll just... No good," Willow got up saying, "We better get out of here."
Tara stepped back into the hallway, looking for guards. No sooner had she stepped out of the room when the door slammed down behind her. Spinning round she hit the door, "Willow!"
"Don't worry, I'll get it open."
Tara glanced down the hall, "There are guards coming. I'll lead them away."
"What? Tara wait." But Tara had already set off.
Two guards walked slowly down a corridor, neither seeming to be in much of a hurry. "So what do you think it is?"
"Probably a false alarm." His companion answered.
"But they lost contact with the people at the landing field. I bet we've got an intruder."
"So why aren't we hurrying?"
"They'll be sealed in the room, so no..." He stopped as Tara appeared in front of them, coming out from another passage.
"Hi," She said before turning and running back down the passageway.
"You were saying?"
"Come on," They both hurried after Tara.
Tara stopped in order to get her bearings. The good news was she had lost the two guards, the bad news was she had lost herself in the process. 'Willow?' Tara thought, wondering if they still had the connection.
'Tara, are you okay?'
'Yes, I got away from the guards. Where are you?'
'Over the east side of the building.'
'I'm going to head over to you.'
Concentrating a moment Tara worked out the way she'd have to go to get to Willow. There was a conference room which she worked out she needed to go through. She walked into the room and stopped a moment. She had been sure that she had sensed someone in there. Not seeing anyone Tara continued towards the next door.
The guard watched as Tara entered the room, starting to move forwards. He stopped as she hesitated. Had she seen him? Wearing a black light suit that shouldn't have been possible, but if he had been moving too fast she might have noticed something. Then Tara continued on, apparently unaware of his presence. When she was close enough he ran forwards, swinging his baton at her head, only to find she had her moved her fighting pike in the way. Tara spun towards him, twirling the pike round she forced him back. He tried to fight back, all the while he trying to work out how she could see him. Not only that but she seemed to know where he was going to hit before he moved. Then he saw it, her eyes were closed. He bumped against a desk, and while he was distracted Tara hit him in the chest, and then round the head.
Opening her eyes Tara leant down to remove the hood from her opponent. As the black light suit deactivated he appeared on the floor. "Must be some sort of camouflage," Tara mused, "Too bad you were fighting someone who doesn't just see with her eyes."
There was someone behind her with a PPG.
Tara dropped to the floor just before bolt of plasma went past where she'd just been. Rolling towards the gunman Tara rose, swinging her pike, knocking the PPG out of his hands. She then swung it into his stomach, and then brought it down over his back. Tara then left the room, keeping her senses tuned for any other attackers.
Willow stepped through the door to find the man who had interrogate her their. "There you are," She said, "So are you going to cooperate?"
"No," He smiled, "It's you that will."
"Why? You don't have any Shadow vessels left."
"We're already growing more. Besides here's the reason." As he said this another door opened and Tara came in. The man put a small cylindrical object on the desk, "Tara, do you recognise this?"
Tara shook her head.
"It's the same device that killed your mother." Arnold smiled pleasantly as he turned to Willow, "You see unless you want me to activate this device and turn her into a vegetable, then I suggest you do what I say."
Bowing her head Willow nodded.
"Good, now come over here."
Willow started to approach the desk. Tara tried to work out a way out of this. Then she remembered the dreams she'd been having about her mother's death. One of her mother's colleagues had been hired to investigate the device, which is what had set it off. She sent a telepathic message to Willow, "He's bluffing. He needs a telepath to activate it."
Willow didn't seem to have heard, as she kept moving towards Arnold. As she reached the desk he said, "Very good."
"There's just one problem," Willow said.
"And what is that?"
Willow punched him the the face, sending him flying backwards into his chair, "You're all unconscious." Turning Willow held her hand moaning, "Ow!"
Running forwards Tara asked, "Willow, are you okay?"
"His chin was harder than it looked," Willow whimpered, still holding her hand.
Taking Willow's hand she kissed it gently before saying, "We need to get out of here."
Willow nodded, "Good idea."
They were starting towards the door when Tara stopped them, "Willow there's something in the room."
"More black light suits?"
"No, I think it's one of them."
There was a faint buzzing sound and then a large, black, six legged creature appeared. There was a small ball of energy forming between it's front limbs.
"Whatever that is," Willow said, "I don't think it's good."
Tara grabbed Willow and started to pull her to the ground.
"Get down!" A voice shouted from behind them. A moment later a stream of plasma shots fired over them, into the Shadow. The creature writhed in pain for a few moments, before collapsing to the floor. Standing Willow started to move towards it, but stopped when she smelt something burning.
"I'd stay back if I was you, they don't like people messing about with their bodies."
They turned to see a bald headed man, who was wearing a flack jacket and carrying a plasma cannon. Putting the cannon down on the desk he said, "Man I really hate those things."
"Thanks for the help, um..." Tara said.
"Garibaldi," The man answered, "Michael Garibaldi."
"So what exactly is the president of Edgars Industries doing out here?" Willow asked.
"Like I said I really hate those things. Let's just say we've had a few run ins in the past. So when I heard there was a chance for a little pay back. I grabbed a BFG and then got a ship out to meet the Excalibur."
Tara turned to give Willow a questioning look. Willow mouthed,'Big Fucking Gun." She then asked Garibaldi, "The Excalibur, it's here?"
"In orbit at the moment. You know if you want to come up for a tour of the ship I'm sure Gideon won't mind. I could show you both my second favourite thing in the galaxy."
"No thanks," Willow said.
"I think we'll pass," Tara added.
As they walked towards the exit Willow put her arm round Tara whispering, "I'd much rather spend tonight seeing my favourite thing in the galaxy."