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1d. Book 1 - Double Double - Part 4: Moving Forward

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Part 4 – Moving Forward

Chapter 1
Ilas stood in front of Lily's door, looking at the key lying next to the wall. [So, Lily isn't here. Well, she must've left her toys here, otherwise she wouldn't have locked the door.]
Ilas picked up the key and opened the door, peeking inside Lily's room to find Matheson and the doctor sitting on the edge of Lily's lounging pit. They looked up when they heard the door open and seemed surprised--[And a bit disappointed,] Ilas thought--to see her instead of Lily.
"Hi Sweet Face," Ilas said as she entered and closed the door behind her, imitating Lily's tone, "What's up Doc?" She giggled, then asked, "Where's Lily?" Both men watched her as she sat down opposite them on the edge of the lounging pit.
"She said she wanted to see if everything was all right with you and your sisters," Raven said. "Did you... feel anything? Lily said something felt wrong with your connection."
Ilas frowned. "Now that you mention it... yes, it is a bit strange. I didn't really notice until now. I was a bit preoccupied..." She couldn't quite suppress a grin. "But my sisters are a bit more attuned to the fine vibrations than I am. I just came to see how Lily was."
"So, you can't say exactly what’s wrong?" John asked.
Ilas looked at him and said, "No," then stood up. "Well since Lily isn't here..." She walked up to Matheson and bent down, pressing her lips to his, taking him by surprise.
Ilas broke free and looked at him with sparkling violet eyes; both were panting slightly. "It's your choice," she said in a low, seductive voice. John blinked, obviously tempted by the invitation, but unsure what to do. He looked to Raven for help.
Luke suppressed a grin and shrugged. "She's right - you have to decide. I don't know what Lily would say..."
"Oh that's no problem. She's always ready to share with her sisters," Ilas said with an affectionate grin. "Besides," she added, running a finger along John's cheek. "She should know not to leave her toys unattended if she doesn't want to share."

Demon slowly regained consciousness. She realized that she was in her bed, her hands now untied. Lucas had gone. She tried to move and found that her whole body ached, inside and out. She was stiff and sore, her back and legs ached, and she wasn't sure if she'd be able to walk. The pain inside was the worst; where Lucas had thrust into her so often and so hard, she felt bruised and swollen. Demon pulled herself upright and off the bed, staggering as she moved towards the door. She nearly fell as she reached for the handle. Locked. She tried to call to her sisters but found that she was so weak and disoriented, she couldn't make contact.
[Pull yourself together; you've got to get out of here.] Stumbling away from the door to her living room, Demon half fell into her bathroom, but soon discovered that the door connecting the bathroom to her living room was also locked. She realized that she would have to pull herself together physically before she could do anything sensible, so started the bath running; she could soak some of the aches out of her muscles and bones. She swore when she realized that the regenerator she'd used to heal Matthew’s injuries was in the other room, locked away from her.
Demon slid her battered body into the hot bath and felt the warmth start to ease away her pains. She moved her hand down between her legs to open herself up to the warm water, allowing it to flow into her, hoping this would ease the bruising and soreness inside. She lay in the hot soothing water trying to work out what had happened and what she should do next.
The tall blonde cast her mind back over the events of the last few days and tried to figure it all out. She remembered the first time she and Gideon had made love and the slow, gentle way he had entered her. Every time after that he’d treated her with care and respect, ensuring that she enjoyed their coupling as much as he did. He’d taught Demon new things, led her gently into giving and receiving pleasure, all the time making sure that she was willing to do what he wanted. She’d known that if there was anything she was uncomfortable with, Gideon would have stopped immediately.
This was the man Demon had fallen in love with. Warm, gentle, compassionate, but capable of a fierce sensuality that excited her body and mind. But that man had disappeared at their last encounter. The man she had spent the previous evening with was entirely different. She remembered being taken by Lucas, not Matthew.
Lucas had given her pleasure, but he'd taken his own, brutally at times. This wasn't Matthew. This was someone much more manipulative and dangerous. Demon didn't know how or why the change had happened, but she decided that this man, Lucas, was a threat to her and her sisters. He had to be stopped.
But what had happened to Matthew? Demon feared that he was gone, lost to her, and the sense of loss that came with this realization nearly overwhelmed her. She clamped down on her feelings. [No time for that.]
Demon pushed herself to her feet realizing that the long soak had eased much of the aching, and the only real pain remaining came from inside her bruised vagina. She dried herself quickly and went to her wardrobe where she pulled out leather pants and a wide belt with a sheath for a knife. She then dragged a short, sleeveless, low-cut t-shirt over her head, wanting as much freedom of movement as possible.
Next, she pulled on knee-high boots, both of which had knife sheaths built into them. Demon grinned and wondered whether Lucas had found her weapons store during his "looking around." She pushed the clothes in her wardrobe apart and pressed one particular spot on the back wall. It didn't look different to any other spot, but when pressed, a door in the back of the closet slid back.
Behind it was a shelf and above the shelf a wall display of knives of every shape and size imaginable. Demon took a large hunting knife and slid it into the sheath at her waist. Two smaller knives went into her boots. She picked up two leather arm guards from the shelf, strapping one to each forearm. Two more knives slid inside the guards. Finally, she took a slim stiletto from the wall and turned to her bedroom door. [Now let's see about that lock.]
For the next half hour Demon worked on the lock with her knife. Finally, she was rewarded as the last tumbler clicked back and the door opened. Standing quickly, she gasped in pain as her internal bruising made itself apparent again. [Well, at least I can fix that now.]
Demon moved quickly to the drawer where she'd left the regenerator and was relieved to find that Lucas hadn't taken it. She dropped her pants and inserted the small cylinder inside herself. As soon as the soreness within had appreciably diminished, she removed the regenerator and redid her pants, pushing the cylinder into her pocket, [Just in case,] then left the room running.

Raven sat in Lilith's room, reading a book he'd found there, worrying quietly. Lily had been gone for more than two hours now. Where was she? And the blue-haired woman, Ilas, had taken John Matheson away with her soon after. Where had they gone? The door to the room was securely locked and Lily had learned her lesson. No key left in the door this time.
He'd tried to tell himself that there was nothing he could do, and that he should use the time constructively. So Luke had searched through Lily's room, looking for clues as to how these women did the things they did. They seemed to have powers that he could only describe as "paranormal," but being a doctor, he believed in science, not spirits (unless they came in a bottle, in which case he mostly avoided them).
Raven was convinced that there was a technological basis for the abilities that the Vorlons appeared to have given the sisters. Just as telepaths had proven to be produced by a genetic mutation, something similar would explain these women, and that, combined with a superior technology given to them by the Vorlons, would clarify all the things he had seen. Luke just had to find the explanation.
He searched Lily's rooms for clues but found nothing of interest other than the book which he now sat reading. It seemed to be a book of spells. ["Eye of newt, and toe of frog" indeed!] Luke was fascinated by what he read but was finding it all a bit hard to believe. Then he heard a key turning in the lock. He leaped up, hoping that Lily had returned but was surprised to see the tall blonde called Demon standing in the doorway.
"Where's Lilith?" She barked the words at him, her voice as cold as ice. Luke found he was struggling to make eye contact with her. The outfit she was wearing was distracting and the sight of her nipples pressed hard against her t-shirt doubly so.
"Uh, I don't know. She left a couple of hours ago." He dragged his eyes away from Demon’s breasts and noticed the marks on her neck, shoulders and arms. There were bruises and scratches and yes, those looked like teeth marks. Lily had told him that Demon was with the Captain, but Raven found it hard to believe that Gideon could have inflicted those injuries. It just didn’t fit with what he knew about the man.
"You're hurt. Let me look at those." He pointed to the bruised and scratched areas. Demon followed his gaze and raised an eyebrow. She pulled the regenerator from her pocket and passed it to him. "Here, use this," she switched it on and demonstrated how it worked by running it over the bruises on her wrists where the sheets had cut in.
Raven watched in amazement as the bruises faded and the cuts healed. He took the cylinder from her and examined it. Just a small gray cylinder, with no clues to how it worked. Demon stood in front of him waiting impatiently until he lifted the machine and started moving it over her neck and shoulders. She turned her back to him and Luke found a particularly deep bite mark on her left shoulder. He ran the regenerator over and around it until it had closed completely.
"Any others that I can't see from here?" he asked.
Demon shook her head, “Nothing worth worrying about.”
Raven wasn’t sure he believed her, but guessed she wasn’t willing to let him see other injuries that might be concealed by her clothing. He’d need to earn Demon’s trust before she allowed him to examine her properly. He looked closely at her and asked, "So why don't you tell me who did this to you?"
"That's a very good question, doctor. I only wish I had an answer." Demon spoke so softly he could hardly hear her. He looked up to see that tears had formed in her eyes, but then her expression reverted to its usual impassivity. "We have to find my sisters. He may have hurt them too. You'd better come with me in case we find something worse than my little friend here can handle."
She took the cylinder from his hand and replaced it in her pocket. Turning to leave Demon asked, "And where's the other one, Matheson? I know Lily brought him here."
"The blue-haired girl, Ilas is it? She came and took him away just after Lily had left. She didn't say where they were going."
Demon allowed herself a tight smile. "Well, Ilas is getting greedy! Taking three of them on at once is ambitious." Raven hadn't a clue what she was talking about. "Let's go, we'll probably find them all in Ilas' rooms.” She left at a run, Raven hurrying to keep up with her.

Ilas, John, Dureena and Max were snuggled together in Ilas' bed. When they'd left Lily's room, Ilas and John had made a detour to the kitchen to get food and had gotten a little distracted there. When they'd come back to her rooms with a large bowl of fruit, bread, cheese and dried meats, Dureena had been delighted to see John. Max seemed a little put out at first but had stopped making snide remarks after Ilas had shot him a warning glare that made it clear she meant business.
Ilas and Dureena had decided that to break the ice, it would be best if they fed each other, and soon the four of them were competing for the most innovative feeding technique... and a short while later for other most innovative techniques.
Ilas was startled by a knock on her door. Her three bed companions looked at her questioningly as she sat up, but she just shrugged, a puzzled look on her face. She slipped out of her bed, quickly drawing the curtains around it, and picking up her robe on the way to the door, suddenly feeling uneasy.

Lucas lay back thinking while Lily, now naked and fully impaled on his cock, rode him hard. She was certainly a neat little mover, squirming and rocking, thrusting and bouncing but after his sessions with Demon and Angel, Lucas knew he wouldn't come for a while, so he was happy to let her do all the work. He watched her breasts bouncing in front of him as she pushed herself up and down, enjoying every moment.
But he'd now been loose for nearly a day, and it would soon be time to put the simple pleasures of the flesh behind him and start taking action. Lucas thought about how he was going to get off the planet and back to the Excalibur. He'd watched Gideon pilot a shuttle several times, but he wasn't yet ready to risk trying to do it himself. He needed someone else to drive the car.
Lucas considered the options available. Matheson was definitely out; Lucas couldn't be sure he could control the telepath when they got to the ship. Either of the pilots who had flown the shuttles down would do, but they'd be of little use to him once they arrived on the Excalibur. Lucas didn't believe in carrying excess baggage.
As far as he knew neither Dureena nor Raven could fly a shuttle. Lucas thought about Dureena then, fantasizing about what it would be like to take her on. In his previous existence he’d always drawn the line at his own species, but that was when the only alternatives were barnyard animals; now the opportunities were wider. He wondered if she functioned like a human female. Shame there wouldn't be time to try her out. That could be a really wild ride although Lucas knew he’d have to check her very carefully for weapons before he mounted her.
Which left Max. Could Max fly a shuttle? Gideon had never seen him do it but if he could that would be the ideal solution. Lucas decided he’d take Max and Angel with him, both being useful to him in the longer term. He thought about just how Angel was going to be useful to him, which drew his attention back to the little bundle of fun he was currently enjoying.
Using the opportunity provided by being buried deep inside her, Lucas probed into Lily’s mind. He was astonished by what he found there. [I never believed in fortune tellers, but damn, this little firecracker seems to be the real thing!] Probing deeper he discovered her ability to block telepaths. [Now that’s an interestin’ skill. I wonder…]
Lucas concentrated and found that Lily was able to set up a block and once it was in place, she didn’t need to concentrate to maintain it. It would just stay in place until she focused again and removed it. Delving ever deeper into Lily’s head, he worked out how she did that and how he could use his own limited telepathic skills to replicate her block. [Very satisfyin’, Red. Talking of which, I’m ready for a little satisfaction.]
Lily had brought herself to the brink of orgasm with little effort on Lucas’ part; time to push her over the edge. He sat up, and pulling her to his chest, rolled her on to her back without withdrawing from her. "My turn in the saddle now darlin'. Brace yourself for the ride of your life."
When Lucas had taken his pleasure, Lily was sprawled bonelessly across the floor in Angel's living room, gasping for breath. He enjoyed the view of her tiny but completely female naked body for a few seconds then jumped up. Despite having had only a couple of hours of sleep and some very strenuous exercise, he'd never felt better or stronger.
Grabbing his clothes, he left Lily where she lay and sauntered to the outer door. He locked it and removed the key. "Get yourself dressed, Lily-love. Fun’s over."
Lucas moved back into the bedroom and closed the door behind him. Angel was stretched naked across the bed, bound hand and foot, gagged, but with her eyes flashing with anger. He dressed quickly while looking down at her, then leaned across to caress her face.
“I know you’re angry with me right now, Angel-face, but you have to trust me. What I just did was necessary. Do you think I’d ever want to make love to another woman after I’ve had you? Believe me, that was just a quick fuck. No heart, no soul. What we have together is so much more. But I need your sister tired and mellow to get her help in our escape. What I just did, I did for us, darlin’. For our future together.”
Lucas watched as the fire died in Angel’s eyes, to be replaced by doubt. He reached out and removed the gag, then lifted a glass of water to her lips to allow her to wet her dry mouth.
When she’d sipped a little, Angel swallowed and looked up at Lucas, her eyes full of disappointment. “I don’t understand, Lucas. Why did you have to do that? Lily would help us if I asked.”
Lucas moved to untie the scarves that secured Angel to the bed. “Would she, love? Do you think she’d help us if she knew that in doing so, she’d be hurting Demon? Do you really trust Lily to make the right choice? Or will you trust me to know what’s best for us? Please, Angel-face, trust me and I’ll get us away from here, and we can be together forever.”
Angel sat up on the bed, and Lucas paused to admire her naked body. She really was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. And she was perfect for his needs. In a few years, when she’d grown into her powers, and he’d subjugated her completely, she’d be the perfect host for his heir. He looked forward to impregnating her one day but in the meantime, Lucas planned to enjoy practicing as often and in as many ways as possible.
"Come on, Angel-face, get dressed. And wear something practical. We're movin' out."
Lucas left her sitting on the edge of the bed, and returned to the living room, where Lilith was standing, lacing her clothes into place. He picked up a piece of fruit from the bowl on the table and started to eat. "Can you contact Demon from here?" When he finished the fruit, he threw the core back into the bowl.
"Yes, of course. I can think directly to her if I want. Why?"
Lucas pounced. His right hand grabbed Lily’s throat as he threw her against the wall. "'Cause if you want to live to tell your sisters just how good a fuck Buck is, you'd better get Demon to meet us in the courtyard in fifteen minutes. And tell her to make sure she has the others with her." Lucas knew that Demon would have released herself from her rooms somehow by now. She was far too smart to get stuck there for long.
Lilith's eyes widened in fear. She managed to force words past his tight grip on her neck. "Which others?"
"Your other sister, Eilerson, Matheson, Dureena and Raven. I want to see them all out there in the open when we arrive. Or I hurt you. A lot." He loomed over her, using his full height and weight to intimidate the tiny girl.
Lucas caught Lily’s wrist as her hand flashed towards his face, her knife slashing at his throat. He stopped her when the knife was only a hair's breadth from his jugular. He squeezed hard on the tendons in her wrist, numbing her hand and forcing her fingers to open. The knife fell to the floor. "What is it with you women and knives? Nice try Lily-love, but you have to move faster than that to catch me napping." He grinned down at her, twisted her wrist behind her, then kissed her hard.

As he pulled his mouth away, Lily heard a noise from behind him. Her eyes widened as they shifted to where Angel had appeared in the bedroom doorway. She hadn't realized that Angel had been in the other room all the time she and Gideon had been...
Lily frantically projected her thoughts, begging Angel to use her powers to free her from Gideon's grasp. But Angel wouldn't meet her eyes or respond to her sister’s sending. Lily looked back up to the captain’s face, grinning down at her. "That's right Lily-love. No hope for salvation there. Angel-face is with me now."
Lucas shifted his grip on Lily’s neck, and moved to stand behind her, where she couldn’t see his face. One of his hands held the back of her neck tightly, forcing her head forward and down until she was looking at the floor, unable to see her sister. His voice was low and menacing as he said, "One of you girls is gonna tell me where Demon put the weapons and commlinks. 'Cause if you don't, Lily-love is gonna regret it."
Lucas gripped Lily's neck harder and shook her. She heard Angel say, "Stop, please. You don't have to do that. I'll show you."
With her face forced downwards, all Lily could see was the back of Angel’s legs as her sister unlocked the door with the key Lucas had thrown to her. Angel led the way out and Lucas followed with his hand grasped tightly around the back of Lily's neck, pushing her in front of him. Lily didn't even try to resist. She knew she was powerless against his strength. She'd done as he’d asked and linked to Demon, explaining what had happened. Demon reassured her that she would be waiting in the courtyard with the people Lucas had specified.
While they walked Lily dropped the block she’d had in place to prevent John from sending and tried desperately to make contact with her lover. But there was nothing. She knew that John maintained his own blocks against accidental intrusions on the minds of others and realized in despair that he couldn’t hear her thoughts.
They arrived at the armory where the Excalibur crew’s weapons were secured, and Lucas told Angel to hand him two PPG's. He pushed one into his pants’ pocket and held the other, saying, “I’ve never had much time for guns, but there are times when they have their uses.”
Picking up a commlink, he closed it around his left wrist, instructing Angel to place all the other commlinks and weapons in a pile. Lucas then ordered Angel to leave the room and pulled Lily with him as he moved to stand just behind the heavy door. Pushing it almost completely closed, he aimed the PPG he held straight into pile of commlinks and weapons, quickly slamming the door on the resulting explosion.
Pushing the second PPG inside his shirt, Lucas steered Lily out of the armory, and they followed Angel again towards the courtyard.

Angel had at first been horrified when she saw Lucas grasping her little sister by the throat and threatening her. But when he’d moved to stand behind Lily, she’d seen him wink and smile, silently reassuring her that it was all an act and that he meant no harm to Lily. Angel had gleefully joined in the pretense. While she wasn’t happy deceiving her sister in this way, Angel couldn’t help but remember Lucas’ question about whether Lily would be willing to help them if she knew Demon would be hurt. Angel wasn’t willing to take that risk. Lucas was like an infection in her blood. She burned for him; she had to have him.
Injecting as much fear into her voice as she could, Angel had begged, "Stop, please. You don't have to do that. I'll show you."
She could see that Lily’s head was forward, and that she’d be unable to see Angel’s face and her wide grin. Angel knew that Lucas wouldn’t really hurt her sister, although the hold he had on her neck looked a little uncomfortable. But if this was all part of his plan to allow them to be together forever, then she was willing to play her part, as long as her sisters weren’t really hurt.
Angel had found it odd that she hadn’t been able to link with her sisters since she’d first found Lucas in her rooms, but he’d said he was blocking her powers, so maybe her link was also blocked. She didn’t really care. Angel knew that now she had Lucas she didn’t need anyone else. Only Lucas mattered, as only Lucas truly loved her.

Demon had received Lilith's call soon after she’d arrived in Ilas' room, bringing Raven with her. Until then, and since her ordeal with Lucas, she'd been unable to send to her sisters; she’d been limited to line of sight. As soon as Ilas opened the door Demon rushed in. "Have you seen Angel or Lily?"
Ilas shook her head. Demon had been hoping that she'd find Angel and Lily there, with Ilas. She was frantic when she discovered that both were missing. Ilas had a robe roughly clutched in front of her, which she pulled around her as Demon paced the room. Raven had followed Demon in and stood quietly in the doorway, watching carefully.
"Gideon's loose and he's changed." Demon could hear whispers from behind the drawn curtains of Ilas' bed. "Oh, for fuck's sake, come out of there."
Matheson and Max emerged naked. Max stooped and picked up a pile of clothes from the floor, pushed them through the curtains then started to dress himself. Matheson dressed quickly and turned to Demon, pulling his shirt on as he walked across the room. "What do you mean 'changed'? What have you done to Captain Gideon?" He marched fearlessly towards Demon and looked up at her. She was several centimeters taller than him, but he appeared in no way intimidated by her.
Raven intervened. "Slow down, John. I think the boot may be on the other foot." He walked across to where Demon and Matheson stood face to face. "Tell me, Demon, who was it who hurt you and made those bite marks? It was Gideon, wasn't it?"
"Not exactly. He wasn't the same. That's what I meant when I said he'd changed. I can't really explain it, but it was like... the same outer shell but the person inside was different. I could feel the difference. And he behaved differently." Demon dropped her eyes from the direct contact she had made with Matheson "Very differently."
Max was by now fully dressed and had been joined by Dureena who emerged fully clothed from behind the curtains of the bed. Having listened to the last exchange Max immediately asked. "So where is he now? This changed Gideon?"
Demon glared at him. "If I knew that, do you think I'd be standing here asking you? I'd be out there with the guards. I have them all searching the castle."
Max wasn't fazed. "When we were searching for Dureena, you could feel where she was from her emotions. Why can't you track Gideon in the same way?"
Demon looked anguished. "I don't know! I felt him once but only when I touched him. Since then I can't feel him at all. Somehow he can block me." Her anxiety levels were increasing. "I can't find Lily and Angel either and I'm afraid he has them."
Matheson obviously couldn't understand her concern. "But why should that worry you? The Captain won't hurt them."
"Gideon wouldn't, but he might," was Demon's only response.
At that moment both Demon and Ilas felt Lily's call. Whatever had blocked Demon’s link to her sister seemed finally to be lifting. They both went still and closed their eyes to concentrate. The others stood and watched, puzzled by this sudden change in their demeanor.
[[Demon, help me!]] Lily's voice sounded clearly in Demon’s head. [[He's hurting me, and he's done something to Angel. I don't know what he's done, but she won't talk to me or look at me. She won’t help me! I think he must have hurt her, too. Help us Demon.]] Both Demon and Ilas could hear the pain in Lilith's sending.
Demon's worst fears had materialized. Lucas had them both. [[What does he want Lily? Why is he hurting you?]] Demon could hear Ilas explaining to the others what was happening and what Lily had said. At the same time Ilas dropped her robe and was pulling on clothes as quickly as she could.
[[He says you must all come to the courtyard at once. You and Ilas; Max, Luke, John and Dureena. He says that he can offer a deal. But you must come at once or he will... oh, Demon he's hurting my neck so much, make him stop, please...]] Demon turned back to the group standing watching her and listening as Ilas repeated Lily's words.
"Let's go. We need to get to the courtyard now."
Matheson tried to stop her. "What about weapons? You took them off us. If you're so worried, shouldn't we be armed?"
"No time. We go now." Demon left the room, running again. The others followed quickly.

 

Chapter 2
When Lucas steered Lily into the courtyard, he was pleased to see that all the people he'd wanted were assembled there. Demon stood out in front of the group, half shielding Ilas from view. The others were ranged behind her and he could see the look of shock on their faces as they realized how he was forcing Lily in front of him. He had her neck in a grip that he could use to snap it in a second. Angel followed him into the courtyard and stood to one side of him.
Lucas looked Demon up and down. He couldn't help but appreciate the way she was dressed. The black leather pants that were cut low on her hips and clung to every curve, her flat stomach bare to above her waist, the low-cut t-shirt emphasizing breasts that were quite emphatic enough. Even the leather arm guards were damn sexy. All that was missing were the little marks of affection he'd made on her body. She must have used the healer on herself.
Lucas felt his cock twitch as he remembered some of the things he'd done with and to her. [Damn it, she was good.] "Well, hello, Miss Whiplash. You doin' a little S & M today, darlin'? Dressed for the part, ain't you?"
Demon ignored him and Lucas could feel her desperately trying to contact Angel through their link. He hardened the block he’d put in place to prevent Angel from connecting to her sisters, so the young witch wouldn’t even know that Demon was trying to link with her. "Keep tryin' all you like, Whiplash, she won't answer. She's all mine now, body and soul."
Lucas saw Angel’s head turn as she gave him a puzzled look. This was getting tricky. He needed to keep Angel believing that this was all a game they were playing to get themselves off planet.
"What do you want?" Demon's face was frozen and her voice cold.
"I'll do you a trade. You can have Lily back in exchange for one of them," he said, pointing to the group standing behind Demon.
Matheson immediately stepped forward. "I'll trade with her. You can take me as a hostage instead."
Lucas laughed at him "You? And let you try some of those teep mind games on me? No sir, not you." He looked directly at Max. "How about it, Max, don't you wanna be a hero? Wanna trade places with this little girl? Big strong guy like you has got nothing to worry about."
Max took a step forward. "Hero has never been one of my favorite roles, Captain… or whoever you are. It can get dangerous and I’m not a big fan of danger. What's in it for me?"
Lucas laughed. "Now that's what I like to hear. Good old-fashioned self-interest. I can do a deal with a man like you, Max. Wanna hear the terms?"
Max nodded and waited.
"Can you fly a shuttle, Max?" Lucas asked. Max nodded again. "Then I think we can come to an arrangement. How would you like to take the Excalibur to any planet you choose? You get to pick where we go, and when we get there anything you find, we split the profits: 80% to me, 20% to you."
Max laughed. "You call that a deal? You can do better than that, whoever you are. I'm the one with all the knowledge and access to the black market to dispose of anything we find. 75 to me, 25 to you."
Lucas snorted derisively. "But I got the transport, Mars boy; 60% for me." He could see the others watching Max with horror. They were appalled that he could consider doing a deal with Lucas. Didn't they want the girl back?
"Call it 50/50 and we have a deal." Max moved towards Lucas and held out his hand to shake on the deal, but Lucas ignored it.
Raven stepped forward and pulled on Max's arm. "You can't do this. What about the plague?"
Before Max could answer Lucas interrupted. "What's up, Doc? Don't you want your little playmate back?" He leaned forward and spoke into Lilith's ear, but loud enough for the others to hear. "Should have done a better job on him, Lily-love, looks like he don't care if his little flower gets her stem broke."
He shook her roughly by the neck to make his point, then looked carefully at Raven and realized why the man looked familiar. "Well, Harvard, you're a long way from home, ain't you? Did they run out of jackets over at Juniper House and let you go? Or did they finally straighten your head out? Sure took long enough."
Raven gave him a puzzled look, obviously having no idea what Lucas was talking about. He said, “You don't know anything about me.”
Lucas laughed and said, “’Course I do,” then turned to Max. "You got a deal Max. But there's one more thing we need before we can close this deal." He turned to Demon. "You got that handy dandy healer thing you used on me?" Demon nodded and pulled it from her pocket. "Give it to Max." Lucas already had one of the regenerators, which he’d taken from Angel’s rooms, but another would always be useful. [And it will be a whole lot better if they don’t have one of these healers to hand when I take my parting shot.] Lucas sniggered to himself, smug about his plans for the near future.
Max looked puzzled as Demon placed the cylinder in his hand. "Don't screw your face up, Max; that little device is going to be our first profit making venture. Just keep it safe 'til we get back to the ship." He turned to Demon again. "Hey, Whiplash, where did you hide the first shuttle?"
Demon's focus snapped back to Lucas. He could feel her trying to break through the tight block he had on Angel, but without success.
"It's right there, next to the others. We just screened it from sight."
Lucas smiled. He'd hoped that would be the case. His plan was coming together. "Then we all take a nice walk. You," he gestured at the group on the other side of the courtyard, "Lead the way. Me and my ladies will follow along."
Demon led the way out of the courtyard and down to the plain below. When they arrived at the shuttles, all three of which were now in plain view, Lucas turned to Angel. He held Lily at arm’s length then whispered in Angel’s ear, “Play along, sweetheart. Just act like you’re afraid of me, and we’ll soon be out of here.” Angel nodded almost imperceptibly in response. Lucas smiled to himself. Everything was going to plan.
He raised his voice so the whole group could hear. "Got a little job for you, Angel-face. I'm gonna stop blocking that power of yours now, and don't even think about disobeying me, darlin'. You have any idea of how quick I can snap Lily's neck?" Lucas turned so only Angel could see his face and winked. Then he spoke again. "Just use that power to break a few things inside the engines of those two shuttles will you, darlin'? And break 'em good. Or else." He pointed at the two shuttles that stood slightly apart from the third and released the hold he had on Angel’s powers but kept the block on her link to her sisters carefully in place.
Angel closed her eyes and Lucas could feel her using her mind to bend and break. They could all hear objects smashing and metal snapping within the two shuttles. "Now break all the communications equipment. Can't have these nice people chatting to my ship before I get back, can we? And Angel-face, I do plan to check that you did the job right." Another concealed wink in Angel’s direction.
More sounds of breaking and tearing could be heard from inside the two shuttles. Once the noises abated, Lucas used his mind to replace the block on Angel’s powers. He then ordered Angel to enter the undamaged shuttle and stood outside still grasping Lily by the neck. Once Angel was out of sight, and more importantly, when she was unable to see what was happening outside, he called to Max. "Time to go, Mars boy."

Max took a step forward then hesitated. "Just give me a minute to say good-bye." He turned to Ilas and pulled her towards him, holding her tightly in his arms. He knew that if he tried to say anything to Ilas about his plans, ‘Gideon’ or whoever the hell he was would get suspicious. But he had to get a message to the others somehow.
"Ilas, will you do one last thing for me?" Max was horrified to see tears in Ilas’ eyes as she looked up at him. Now he had to tell her what he planned. "Will you change into your real form so I can say good-bye to the real you?" He kept holding onto her and looked down into her eyes, willing her to understand why he was asking her to risk pain to do this for him.
Ilas smiled up at him and started to shift. Max could see ‘Gideon’ watching them carefully, waiting to see if Max was trying anything. But all he could see was Max holding tightly to Ilas as she shifted into her true shape. Max concentrated hard as she shifted and sent through a message which he knew she could pick up in that moment only. He explained that he was going along with ‘Gideon’ to free Lily and to find out what was going on. When he got to the ship he planned to turn on ‘Gideon’ and promised to do his best to send more shuttles down for the rest.
Ilas writhed in his arms and he knew the change was hurting her, but then she stabilized into her natural shape, with golden skin, purple hair and red eyes. Max gently kissed the scar on her cheek and said aloud, "These have been the best few days I've had in years and I'm going to miss you, Ilas. I'll come back when I can." He kissed her again, this time fully on her mouth. Her lips parted beneath his, into a deep, tender and passionate kiss.
When they broke apart, Max turned to see ‘Gideon’ smirking at them. "Oh, very touching, Max. Now let's get going."
Max took a step towards the shuttle then stopped. "I thought we had a deal. Let the girl go."
He watched as ‘Gideon’ turned Lily around, so she faced him. "Sorry to have to let you go Lily-love. Wish I had the time to pluck you again." Keeping his hand tightly behind her neck, he dropped his mouth to hers, gave her a bruising farewell kiss then pushed her away from him with a hard shove.
Lily fell to the ground as ‘Gideon’ stepped back towards the shuttle, pulling a PPG from inside his shirt as he did so.

Lucas waved the PPG at the group, which had surged forward to help Lily. "Now don't get all excited. She's fine. But you won't be if any of you get too close. Max, get in the shuttle."
Max obeyed and Lucas followed him up the ramp. When Max had disappeared inside, Lucas checked quickly to make sure neither Max nor Angel could see what was going on outside the shuttle. Satisfied, he turned to look at the group standing below him. Demon and Raven were on their knees by the girl on the ground. Demon had her arms wrapped around Lily who was crying freely and rubbing at her neck where Lucas had gripped her. Matheson and Dureena stood behind watching, both glaring up at Lucas as he stood in the doorway to the shuttle.
He called out to Matheson. "Hey, teep-boy! Lily there stopped blocking you a while back. It's been me stopping you getting a warning out since then. And just in case you get any ideas when we leave..." Lucas raised the PPG and pointed it straight at Matheson. "This should take care of you."
He fired.
Matheson fell backwards, a hole burned in his chest. Lucas turned and entered the shuttle, instructing Max to take off and strapping himself into the center seat.

Raven leaped to Matheson's side, pushing his hands into the chest wound, trying to staunch the blood. Lily screamed, "Noooooo!” frozen to the spot, while Demon and Ilas stared in dismay.
"Dureena, get the medical kit from the shuttle!" Raven yelled, praying that Angel hadn’t destroyed it. Dureena moved up the ramp like lightning, returning quickly with the kit. Raven turned to Lily, who had now joined him, realizing when he saw her face that this must have been the vision that had distressed her so much the other day. But there was no time for such musings. "Put your hands here and press as hard as you can."
Lily obeyed instantly while Raven rummaged through the medical kit for something to heal Matheson. Not that he thought there was a lot that could help him at this stage. A short-range PPG shot to the torso was almost always fatal. Matheson was lucky he hadn't had his heart burned out of his chest. But the shot had hit the right side of his body, so there was a tiny chance that he could be saved.
He heard Demon giving instructions to Ilas and Dureena. "Back to the castle now. We've got things that might help." She turned and ran with Ilas and Dureena on her heels.

When Demon stretched her long legs, Ilas started to lag, so grew her legs until they matched the tall blonde’s, and she could stay with her stride for stride. Dureena wasn't so lucky and struggled to keep up. The thief was astonished when Demon started talking, even though they were running flat out. Her breath came in snatches, but she got the words out. "Ilas, straight to the infirmary, pick up every piece of equipment you can find which is portable and might be of use. Then back to the shuttle." Ilas nodded as she ran but saved her breath.
Demon was gasping now but carried on. "Dureena, need you, release crew. Need them, pilots, get shuttles airborne, Matheson to ship. Might trust you; won't trust me." She started to cough as her words stuck in her throat but Dureena had understood enough.
They burst into the castle courtyard and Ilas peeled off to the left heading straight for the infirmary. Demon led Dureena, still at a run, across the open space, to the entrance to the cells on the far side. The guards had seen Demon running towards them and opened the main doors.
The two women flew through, barely managing to skid to a halt in the corridor beyond. Dureena bent double trying to catch her breath as Demon snatched the keys from the guard on duty. She grabbed Dureena's arm and ran her to a cell at the far end. By now she could hardly speak. "Sergeant ... here," she unlocked the door and pulled it open.
Sergeant Healy burst out of the cell, ready to tackle anyone, when he saw Dureena and paused. Dureena had just enough breath left to gasp out, "Stop. Freeing you now. Back to shuttles. Matheson wounded."
Healy put his arm under Dureena's shoulder and pulled her upright. "Are you OK, ma'am? What's going on here?"
Dureena tried to explain while Demon moved down the line of cells, unlocking each door in turn, but she couldn't get enough breath to speak coherently. The crew poured out and turned towards Demon aggressively. "No, don't, she's on our side." Dureena gasped the words out as loud as she could.
She was stunned to see that Demon had regained her breath and looked completely recovered. Seeing that Dureena was still winded, Healy turned to Demon and asked what she needed him and his people to do. "Back down to the shuttles as quick as you can, Sergeant."
Demon set out at a flat run again, leaving the troops to follow, then disappeared into a different part of the castle. Dureena groaned and pulled herself off the wall where she had been resting. "You heard her, Sergeant, quick as you can," she said, and headed back to the shuttles as fast as she could run.

Raven was frantically trying to stem the flow of blood, but largely failing, when Ilas returned with the equipment. He didn't recognize her for a moment as she’d shifted into Brakiri form but kept her hair blue. He realized that in that shape Ilas could both move quickly and carry a heavy load, and she was doing both. She stumbled to a halt beside them as Raven knelt on the ground next to Matheson's body.
Lily was giving him CPR, keeping John’s heart beating and breathing for him, but Raven knew she was tiring and couldn't keep going much longer. Ilas kneeled quickly and asked. "What do you need most, Doctor?" Raven looked up at her, wondering what this girl might possibly be able to do to help. Then he remembered the device he'd used on Demon. "Something to stop the bleeding. If he loses much more, I won't be able to save him."
Ilas reached into the pack she was carrying and pulled out a cylinder similar to the one Raven had used on Demon, but larger. She gave it to him and quickly instructed him on its use. He started to move the cylinder over the wound and gradually the flow of blood lessened, eventually stopping. The wound was still raw and weeping but the blood loss had stopped.
Raven looked up and realized that Lily was turning gray. She had worked so hard on John that she was starting to faint. "Ilas, take over."
Lily fell back as Ilas pushed in, still in Brakiri shape and started mouth to mouth. Raven scrabbled through the medical kit and the equipment pack Ilas had brought, looking for anything he could use to start putting liquid back into Matheson. He knew he needed to get blood for a transfusion, quickly. He pulled out Matheson's dog tags and checked the group. Common O+ [Well, let's be thankful for that.]
Demon arrived back at the shuttles and almost collapsed at Raven’s side. She managed to gasp out, "Alive?" before falling to her knees, heaving for breath.
"Just." Raven looked up and saw the Excalibur crew arriving, with Dureena. He told Ilas to keep going, and for Lily to spell her when she tired, then turned to the Sergeant and explained the urgent need for O+ blood.

Healy quickly organized his people, separating out four men who had the right blood group and sending them to join the doctor. He then turned to the shuttle pilots and told them to get the shuttles ready for flight. Demon had recovered enough to intervene. "They've been damaged. The engines and communications equipment have been smashed. I hope you can repair them."
Dureena had now arrived and joined the small group around Matheson, waiting to take her turn keeping him alive. Healy put the crew to work and received their reports within minutes. The comms equipment was completely wrecked. He turned to Demon and demanded their portable commlinks. She shook her head. "I went for them before we left the castle. They've been destroyed, along with all your weapons."
Healy cursed and turned to the next crewman waiting to report. This one was more optimistic. The damage to the engines was less severe and could easily be fixed. Demon's heart leaped. [Angel, thank you! Maybe you weren't totally on his side after all.]
The crew estimated that they needed an hour to complete the repairs. Demon cringed. Half an hour had already elapsed since the first shuttle had left. Could Matheson survive another hour? That and the time taken to reach Excalibur, which one of the pilots told her would be another half hour. So, two hours in total from the time he'd been shot to when they could get him proper treatment.
Dureena had taken over the CPR, leaving Ilas to recover while Lily watched quietly, following whatever instructions Raven gave her. Ilas shifted back into her usual blue-haired form as Demon watched. Healy saw the change and stared open-mouthed in amazement.
When Demon and Healy told Raven how long they needed to get back to the Excalibur, Demon saw the fear in Raven’s eyes. It would take too long.

Max was seated at the controls of the shuttle. Lucas had placed Angel in the co-pilot's seat while he sat in the center seat, behind and above the two of them, where he could watch them both. Max started the engines and throttled the shuttle up, before beginning a very bumpy and jerky ascent. By the time they were five minutes into the flight they were all feeling nauseated by the constant buffeting and bumping they were getting.
Lucas snapped at Max, "I thought you said you could fly one of these things, Max."
Max grappled with the controls. "I can, but you didn't ask me whether I can fly it WELL!" The shuttle dropped sickeningly, and then rose again. Lucas had been planning a little entertainment with Angel at the back of the shuttle on the trip to the Excalibur. He gave up on the idea and pulled his seatbelt tighter.
"This is the last time I let you drive, Max!" Max put the shuttle on autopilot as soon as they left atmosphere and the ride was a lot smoother afterwards. Lucas called the Excalibur as they approached the ship and warned them of the shuttle's arrival, imitating Gideon’s voice so effectively that Max turned round in his seat to stare in wide eyed astonishment. Lucas smiled to himself. He knew he could make everyone on the Excalibur think that the Space-cadet had come back to take command.
Dropping back into his own accent, Lucas said, "Max, remind me never to get into a shuttle with you at the controls again. Now when we get on board, we're gonna go straight to your quarters and you can start work on that gadget Demon gave you. I wanna know how it works and how quickly we can duplicate it, and you're just the man for the job."
Max preened a little under Lucas's flattery. "Well, you don't think there’s anyone else aboard who could do it as well as me, do you?"
Lucas sneered at the back of Max's head "Oh no, Max, you're the best."
Max whipped his head around to see if Lucas was being sarcastic but by the time he looked, Lucas had assumed an expression of innocence.
The shuttle steered itself into the landing bay and set down. They were met by the Watch Officer, who gave ‘Gideon’ brief details of the current ship's status. Basically, there was nothing significant to report. Lucas told the officer that he would join her on the bridge shortly, again using Gideon’s voice.
Turning to Max he said, "Let's go," prodding Max to lead the way and grasping Angel by the arm to bring her with them. The Watch Officer looked on quizzically as they left but didn’t presume to question her captain’s behavior.

Max wondered if he should immediately tell Jackson that the captain was an impostor but decided he should wait until the crew had seen for themselves how unlike Gideon this man was. He was sure it wouldn't take long if his behavior on the planet was anything to go by.
Arriving at his quarters, Max entered the code to open the door. Suddenly, he felt a hand slam into his back, pushing him hard through the doorway. He stumbled and nearly fell, yelling out a protest. When he recovered his balance and turned, the door was closing behind him. Before Max could move, the door had slammed shut and he could hear Lucas recoding the lock from the outside.
[Damn him, he's putting a voice lock on it!]
Lucas's voice came through the intercom in the door. "Now don't get worked up about this, Max, but I don't entirely trust you yet. I'm cutting off your comm unit. Just go to work on the gadget and I'll be back later."
Max sat down in a chair, hard. So much for his promise to Ilas.

Lucas turned away from Max's door and took Angel's arm again. She'd watched in silence while he'd imprisoned Max, apparently content with the way his plan was working, but Lucas wasn't going to take any chances with her.
For now, he just needed to get her away from the prying eyes of his crew. They were bound to be curious about the strange woman the captain had brought back from the planet below, even if they didn’t dare question him to his face.
Pausing to get his bearings, [It sure is different watching from inside Gideon's head. Having to work your way round this damned ship is a pain in the ass!] Lucas set out to find Gideon's quarters. That would be a good place to secure Angel until he was ready to deal with her.

When they arrived in Gideon’s rooms, Angel spoke for the first time since they’d boarded the ship. “What do we do now, Lucas? Why didn’t you bring my sisters with us? I can’t be this far away from them. My head hurts.” She knew she sounded peevish, which was not the best way to approach Lucas, but her headache made her careless.
Angel rubbed at her forehead. The pain behind her eyes had grown as her distance from the planet increased. The pain was in the place where her link to her sisters usually resided, the link which Lucas had blocked. Even though she couldn’t use her connection to her sisters, it was still there, and it was being stretched beyond endurance. For the first time, Angel started to question Lucas’ plan. How could they hope to be alone together when she couldn’t stray too far from her sisters? She made the mistake of verbalizing her discontent.
Lucas pulled her into his arms and kissed her forehead. The warmth of his lips seemed to ease the pain for a moment, and Angel looked up into his hazel eyes, hoping he had a plan to deal with this, too.
Lucas smiled down at her, running his hands down her back, cupping her butt, and pulling her close. “I’ll find some painkillers for you, darlin’. Don’t worry. We’ll fix you right up so that it doesn’t hurt anymore.” He led her into Gideon’s bedroom, and pushed her gently onto the bed, lifting her legs up until she was laid full length on the blankets.
Disappearing through a doorway which Angel could see led into a tiny bathroom, Lucas opened several doors, before making a triumphant noise and returning to Angel’s side. He held two small pills in one hand and a glass of water in the other. “Take these, darlin’. Gideon keeps them for when he has a hangover. He was never averse to getting stinkin’ drunk when he was off-duty.”
Angel obediently took the pills, and soon found herself feeling sleepy. The last thing she heard was Lucas saying softly, “You sleep now, Angel-face. I’ll be back soon.

Lucas marched onto the bridge as if he owned it. [Which I do!] He'd voice locked Angel into Gideon's quarters after disabling the comm system, and then set out straight for the bridge. He knew that his crew looked at him strangely, as he hadn't yet taken time to change from Demon's black shirt into uniform. But he wanted to get the ship moving as fast as possible.
He turned to his Watch Officer, using Gideon’s voice to say, "We're leaving. Lt. Matheson, Dr. Raven, Dureena and the rest of the landing party are remaining on the planet to continue with their investigations and negotiations with the natives. We're going to Babylon 5 with some samples of their technology that look promising. Prepare to jump."
Lucas had selected B5 for several reasons, not least of which was the presence of Captain Elizabeth Lochley. [Gideon never did appreciate that woman...] The thought of taking Lochley in her shower, just as Gideon had, was appealing.
For a moment, Lucas wondered just how many women he could fuck in a week, and how long he could keep up the pace he had set himself. He was well aware that his drive to have sex with as many women as possible as quickly as possible was not just his own. Lucas knew the Rage that lived inside him was also driving his libido. It needed him to sire an heir, or it would be unable to move on to the next generation of the Buck male line. Like him, it had been locked up inside the Apocalypse Box for 250 years and now it was out, it was desperate for Lucas to impregnate as many women as he could. At this point, it didn’t care too much about how suitable the women were to carry his progeny, it just wanted as many male heirs as possible from which it could make its future choice of host.
Lucas was happy to go along with the Rage’s needs, and he smiled to himself, thinking, [I’ve got a 250-year dry spell to make up for, too. And if things get a bit sore down below, I can always use that healer gadget and get right back in the saddle.]
He became aware that the Watch Officer hadn’t answered and looked stricken. She swallowed hard and said, "Um, that might take a while, sir."
Lucas narrowed his eyes and glared at the woman. "Explain." [A good ol' Space Cadet bark!]
She flushed and advised him that because they’d been sent numerous messages saying that the landing parties were staying planet side for some time, they’d taken the jump engines offline for maintenance.
Lucas snapped, "How long to get them back up?"
"Three hours, sir."
"Well, get started. I'm going to my quarters to change and I'll be back in two hours. I expect you to have the work completed by then. You have the conn."
Lucas left the bridge, quietly seething. He wanted to hurt somebody for this feeling, and he knew just who he was going to use to relieve his frustration.

Having awoken after a short nap, Angel stood looking out the window in Gideon’s bedroom.
She’d had a good look around when she first awoke, opening closets and drawers, touching the ornaments Gideon kept on the shelves in his quarters. She wondered where each item had come from and what it had meant to the captain. Why did the chess set on the desk appear to be half-way through a game? Who had Gideon played chess with?
Just thinking of Gideon made her shiver and being in his quarters frightened her. Angel felt as if he might come back at any moment and start hurting her again. She checked the outer door and was reassured when she found it was locked. Having watched Lucas voice lock Max’s door, she was sure he would have done the same here. So unless Gideon could escape from the Apocalypse Box, [Whatever that is!] and imitate Lucas’ voice, Angel knew she was safe.
Having moved to the window, Angel was disappointed to find that the view showed only stars. She couldn’t see Eriadne below her and she knew she’d probably never get another chance to see how much like Earth it was. But then she’d never seen Earth from space either, as she and Demon had been unconscious when they’d been abducted by the Vorlons.
Thoughts of her sisters rushed in and for a moment she felt guilty about how she’d betrayed them. She’d supported Lucas and ignored her sisters’ pleas for help. Angel had desperately wanted to explain why she was siding with Lucas, but she couldn't. How could she tell them that she’d chosen this man of her own free will? How could they understand that he now possessed her, body and soul? There was no way to explain that without disclosing how Lucas had taken over Gideon’s body and Angel never wanted Demon to find out how that had happened. So Angel had kept silent, followed Lucas’ plan and now they were on board the Excalibur and she was so far away from her sisters that her head ached with loss.
The pills Lucas had given her earlier had helped with the pain, but they’d made her sleepy and Angel decided that she needed to be awake and alert when Lucas returned. There were questions she wanted to ask, and she wasn’t going to be fobbed off this time. Lucas would have to give her straight answers.
Angel felt a tear rolling down her cheek, just as she heard the door sliding open behind her. She turned, mustering her courage. She needed to stand up to Lucas and not let him seduce her with his kind words and clever hands. Angel loved him, heart and soul, but she needed answers.

Lucas walked into the room and stopped when he noticed the determined look on Angel's face. He arched an eyebrow; he knew what she wanted, but he was losing patience with her. Right now he needed Angel’s obedience, not her questions. Maybe it was time for some tough love.
Before Angel could speak, Lucas said, "You accepted the deal, darlin'."
He watched as Angel’s eyes filled with tears. "I didn't have a choice."
Lucas laughed. “Choice. There’s that word again. You made your choice, Angel-face. You chose me, and you chose to abandon your sisters. Now you have to live with that.”
Taking a stride towards her, Lucas grabbed Angel’s arms and held them tightly. He squeezed her wrists together, knowing that after what he’d done to her mind, the pain would start to arouse her. Angel whimpered in pain, [or is that pleasure, darlin’?] and fought against him as he backed her against the wall.
Lucas remained silent until she grew tired of struggling and became still. He shifted his grip so he could hold both her wrists in one hand and moved his free hand to caress Angel’s face. She leaned into his touch, closing her eyes for a moment, as she enjoyed the pain from her wrists and the pleasure from his caress.
Then Angel’s eyes opened, and she looked up at Lucas, her gaze full of despair. “I love you, Lucas, but sometimes I think I hate you, too.”
Lucas laughed softly, then moved his free hand down to Angel’s breast, where he started to rub her hard nipple through her tunic. [Oh yes, definitely getting hot, ain’t you, darlin’?] He leaned in and kissed Angel’s neck, sucking gently on her soft flesh until he knew he’d marked her, then lifted his head and looked into Angel’s beautiful blue eyes. "And someday we'll make that hate work for you, love."
Angel opened her mouth to speak, but Lucas's mouth clamped down on hers, silencing her. She tried to break the kiss, but he held her too tightly. His tongue probed her mouth, seeking hers out, savoring her sweet taste. He felt her stop struggling as she started to become aroused.
Lucas let go of Angel’s wrists and pulled her close, letting her feel his erection. "You remind me of someone I knew a long time ago," he said with a smile. Angel looked up at him warily; she was obviously wondering who he was talking about. Lucas went on, "She was like you. She tried to fight me even though she couldn't resist me." Lucas paused for a moment, before he continued. "I had to take care of her when she disobeyed me." His tone was dangerous as he spoke those words and he watched as Angel took in what he had said, wondering what he’d meant by 'take care of her.' He could see her confusion and decided it was time to make his point. "I own you. You belong to me, body and soul. That’s the choice you made. I will accept nothing but total obedience and loyalty. Understand?" asked Lucas softly.

Angel looked at him, her body all too aware of his closeness She knew that it was hopeless to fight him. She nodded her submission. Lucas lowered his head and gave her a brief kiss on the lips before he moved away again. "Take your clothes off," he ordered.
Angel's eyes widened in surprise. Her mind reeled at the change in direction, from threat to this. Her pulse quickened and her body trembled at what she knew was going to happen; her body was unable to deny how excited she was. Her mind however, rebelled at his audacity; Lucas had just threatened to kill her and now he was expecting her to strip then let him do whatever he wanted with her.
She looked at him with defiance but when Lucas spoke again, his tone brooked no argument. "Do it!" Angel realized that if she didn't, he would probably just do it for her, and something told her that she wouldn’t enjoy the process.
Lucas watched with a smug expression as Angel pushed herself away from the wall and slowly began to strip until she stood completely naked before her master and lover. When Lucas's eyes raked over her body, she had to fight the sudden urge to cover herself with her arms. Angel looked back up at him, her lips parted slightly as she noticed the bulge at Lucas’ crotch. Then she smiled. She wasn’t alone in her arousal.
"Come here," Lucas ordered, softly. Angel, past being able to resist, moved willingly to him. He grabbed her shoulders and pushed her to her knees. Then he reached down and undid his belt, unzipped his pants, and allowed his hard cock to escape.
Angel looked up and saw Lucas’ grinning down at her. “You know what to do, Angel. Instead of questioning me, you can put that pretty little mouth of yours to better use.”
Angel let her eyes feast on his erection. She was almost ashamed of how much she wanted this. She wanted him in her mouth. She wanted to taste him. For a moment, Angel wondered if Lucas would taste different to Gideon. Time to find out.
She heard Lucas suck in his breath when her right hand reached out to take hold of his shaft, her hand moving back and forth over it slowly. Angel smiled, happy at the effect she was having on him as she began to suck him; she could feel his body shuddering as her mouth and tongue moved over him. Then he thrust his hips forward, forcing her to take him deeper into her warm mouth.
Angel tried to pull back, but Lucas’ hands grabbed her hair, and he yanked her head forward, his hard cock hitting the back of her throat and making her gag. She couldn’t breathe and struggled to escape his grasp, but he held her head tightly, not letting her move as he thrust deeper and deeper into her throat. Gagging and choking, Angel thought she was going to pass out when she finally felt Lucas come hard, giving her no choice but to swallow the warm juices that flooded down her throat.
When Lucas finally released her, Angel fell back on the floor, gasping for air, and choking on his ejaculation. Tears streamed down her face as she looked up at him in despair. When she finally caught her breath, she sobbed, “Why, Lucas, why? I was doing what you wanted, giving you what you asked. Why did you do that?”
Lucas reached down and pulled her to her feet, then kissed her deeply. After a long moment he pulled away. When he spoke his voice was cold and filled with contempt. "Because I can. Because I own you. I get to use you in any way I want. Remember what I said, Angel-face? ’I will be master of what is mine own.’"
Angel shivered as he pushed her away and she fell to the floor again. His voice was cold as ice as he commanded, “Stay!” He quickly stripped his clothes off and pulling Angel to her feet once more, Lucas’ mouth twisted into a cruel smile as he said, “I’ve been told that when trainin’ a dog you should reward the behavior you want and ignore the behavior you don’t want. I never believed that. I’ve always thought that punishment had its place in trainin’, too.”
Angel’s temper flared. “I’m not a dog, Lucas.”
Lucas smiled. “No, you’re not Angel-face. Very far from it. But you do need some trainin’. You’ve had your punishment, so now it’s time for your reward.” His hands moved from her arms to her hips, and he pushed Angel backwards until the back of her legs hit the edge of Gideon’s desk. Lucas lowered his head to her neck where he began to kiss her, his tongue coming out to lick the spot where he had marked her earlier. As he did so, he leaned forward and reached behind her, sweeping everything off the desk.
Angel felt him lift her and push her down until she was lying on the desk with her legs over the edge. Then he pushed her knees wide apart, hooking them over his arms as he leaned forward, opening her up to him completely. He paused for a second, smiling down at Angel and saying, “I remember another woman who I had in this position. I told her I wanted to hurt her. She just wanted to hurt me back. Is that what you want, Angel? To hurt me back? Well, maybe someday I’ll let you. Just a little masochistic nihilism.” Then, with no foreplay or hesitation, Lucas used one quick, hard thrust to impale her.
Angel screamed as Lucas buried himself deep inside her, hammering into her again and again, so hard that it hurt but somehow with an exquisite pain. She pulled her body up off the desk, bracing her arms behind her as he continued to pound into her. Her eyes were closed as she lost herself in the pleasure of having Lucas inside her, her head hung back, and her breasts thrust forward. Angel screamed again as Lucas bit down hard on her nipple, sending an orgasm ripping through her.
She was matching him thrust for thrust now, slamming her hips into his, taking him deeper inside her than she would have thought possible. And with every thrust Angel came again, as Lucas moved his mouth from one breast to the other, biting her soft flesh with sharp teeth, mingling pain and pleasure until Angel thought she would faint. Just when she believed she could bear no more Lucas came inside her. She felt his hot fluid filling her and with one final thrust he made her come again and she collapsed back onto the desk.
After what seemed like an eternity, Lucas let go of Angel’s legs but remained inside her, then lifted her to hold her warm body against him. Angel wondered at how Lucas never sweated during sex. Her skin glistened with the perspiration that poured from her, but he was completely dry. And his breathing returned to normal much quicker than hers. She leaned her head against his chest and realized that his heartbeat was steady and slow, even while hers was still racing.
Angel was enjoying the aftermath of their coupling, relishing the silence as Lucas held her against him, when she heard a loud beeping sound. Lucas looked at the commlink on his arm, withdrawing from her abruptly as he answered the call.
"Yes?" He sounded just like Gideon and Angel shivered in fear, suddenly feeling vulnerable in her nakedness.
"Captain, there's something you should see," said the voice on the other end.
"What is it?"
"There are two shuttles approaching, sir." His eyes turned to Angel, narrowing dangerously.
When he answered his voice was steely and cold. "I'm on my way. Don’t allow those shuttles entry until I give the command." The voice acknowledged Lucas’ order and cut off.
Angel froze in place, terrified at what Lucas might do next. He turned the commlink off and deliberately ignoring Angel, he walked into the bedroom where he pulled one of Gideon's uniforms from a closet and dressed. When Lucas came back into the living area, Angel jumped off the desk and backed away from him in fear. His eyes raked over her naked body and when he spoke, she froze.
"Now, I wonder who that could be?" He drawled softly, his voice again using Lucas’ distinctive tones as he walked up to her. "Care to explain, Angel-face? I guess your sisters have come to pay a visit. I’m gonna have to make them regret that. If you’d done what I asked, your sisters would have been safe down on the planet. Now…" Lucas left the threat unstated, but Angel understood him well enough.
Angel's heart was racing. She suddenly felt dizzy. She opened her mouth to try to explain but nothing came out. Her throat contracted in fear that rendered her speechless. Her head was pounding again, but the pain was different now. Her link to her sisters was no longer stretched, [They must be nearby!] but now there was a pain that seemed to come from deep inside her. It was so bad it made her want to vomit and she hardly felt the discomfort from where Lucas had bitten and bruised her, inside and out.
Lucas stood looking down at her, his face twisted with anger. "When I get back, we’re going to continue your obedience trainin’, darlin’. For your next lesson you’ll be on all fours, and I might just have to muzzle you. Now, go get yourself cleaned up,” He nodded towards the bedroom and its connecting bathroom unit. “And use this.” He pulled a regenerator from the pocket of the pants he’d discarded on the floor and placed it on the desk. “When you’re clean and healed, get yourself dressed. I want the pleasure of rippin’ every item of clothin’ off your tender little body later. And clean up this mess.” Lucas pointed at the debris scattered all over the floor, the remnants of Gideon’s possessions that had been swept from the desk as they’d fucked.
Then he was gone, and the door was already closing behind him. Angel stood for a moment trying to calm her racing heart. Her head was pounding worse than ever. She stumbled through to the bathroom, hoping there would be a tub where she could soak her aches and pains away. But there was only a shower stall and when she tried to use it, she couldn’t get the water to run. Sobbing with pain now, her vision blurring, Angel scrabbled through the bathroom units, searching for some of the pills Lucas had given her earlier. She found the packet, fumbled it open and dropped two of them into her shaking hand. She managed to work the faucet in the basin and positioned her head so she could drink from the meager trickle of water that emerged, then swallowed the pills.
Angel stood, leaning against the basin, her whole body shaking until the pills started to take effect, allowing her to stand upright. She looked at herself in the mirror and was appalled by what she saw. Her hair was a tangled mess, her eyes sunken into her head, with dark shadows etched under them. Her face was bruised where Lucas had held her, and her lip was split again. Looking down Angel saw the bite marks on her neck and breasts were oozing blood. Further down, Lucas’ semen was now drying on her thighs where his fluid had dripped out of her.
She started to sob as she saw how quickly Lucas had reduced her to this state. Yet she still loved him. Angel was still connected to him by the bond she’d been stupid enough to create with her spell. She was bound to him forever, body and soul. She had made her choice, of her own free will, and she would just have to deal with the consequences.
Still sobbing, the young witch used the regenerator to heal the wounds Lucas had inflicted on her, then grabbed a towel, and wetting it with the dribble of water from the faucet, she slowly cleaned herself as best she could. She found a comb in one of the bathroom units, which she used to untangle her hair before returning to the living room. Still naked, Angel stumbled around, picking up the debris from the floor, throwing it into the trash and tidying what wasn’t broken as best she could.
When she’d finished, she reached for her clothes, wondering how long it would be before Lucas returned and started to punish her again. But by now she felt so drowsy and the pain in her head, which had abated for a while, had come back with such ferocity, she couldn’t think clearly.
Angel stumbled back into the bedroom, dragging her clothes with her but unable to dress, and fell onto the bed. She was shivering now, her whole body freezing cold. Pulling the covers over her, she laid her aching head on the pillow and lay there for a moment, wishing that she could go to sleep and wake up back in the castle, having never set eyes on Gideon or Lucas. She wanted her sisters and her old life back, but she knew that could never happen. After a few minutes of silent sobbing she slept.

 

Chapter 3
Lucas stormed out of his quarters towards the bridge, thinking about just how he was going to enjoy punishing Angel on his return. He’d teach her that when he gave an order, she should follow it instantly, without question, and do the job properly! This time she'd learn to obey. Arriving on the bridge he could see the viewscreen was set to show the two shuttles approaching the Excalibur.
Lucas turned to Communications. "Any contact?" He wondered if Angel had done as poor a job of wrecking the comms equipment as she had the engines.
"No sir, and they're not responding to our hails either."
Lucas just stopped himself from showing his relief. He could salvage this, and maybe make it work for him. His first inclination was to order the Excalibur’s guns to fire on the shuttles and blow them out of his sky, but he knew he’d never get away with that. So he turned to his Watch Officer--[What the hell’s her name?]--A quick glance at the badge on her chest gave Lucas the information he needed.
"Something's wrong. Get an armed security detail down to the landing bay and tell them I'll join them immediately. Open the landing bay and allow the shuttles entry, but do not allow any of the occupants to enter the ship without my direct command. Got it?" The woman nodded her acknowledgement and stood ready to take over from him when he left. “You have the conn, Jackson.” Lucas left the bridge at a run, as he knew that Gideon would have done.
Arriving at the landing bay entrance, Lucas stood with the Security people, watching through the windows in the doors as the shuttles came to rest. He gestured for his crew to surround the exit door, weapons at the ready. Once the bay was pressurized, Raven was the first person to appear, with two men carrying a stretcher on which Matheson lay. [Damn him, ain't he dead yet?]
Dureena and the three sisters followed a few paces behind. Lucas ordered the troops to open the doors and let the doctor and his patient through first but to close the doors behind them, holding the women in the landing bay. Raven came through fast and stopped dead when he saw Lucas waiting for them.
"What happened, Doctor? How was he injured?" Lucas used Gideon’s voice to ask the questions, knowing it would confuse the doctor. Before Raven could respond, Lucas bent over the stretcher looking concerned. "Get him to Medbay now." He issued the order to the men carrying the stretcher and Raven had no choice but to follow as they left the landing bay area at a run.
Lucas wondered whether he could arrange for an ‘accident’ with the sterilizing system in Medbay, like the one that had happened early in the Excalibur’s mission. That would solve the problem of both Raven and Matheson. He stored the thought away for later action and turned his attention back to the landing bay.
Turning to his crewmen, Lucas ordered them to open the doors again and proceed through, keeping their weapons ready. They found Dureena and the sisters had been joined by Sergeant Healy and the remainder of the crew who had gone down to the planet. Lily was half-hiding behind Demon, trying to avoid his eyes. Dureena launched herself straight at him but was held by two crewmen before she could get to him.
"Whoa, Dureena, what's going on here? Sergeant Healy, can you tell me what this is about while Dureena calms down?" Again, using the Gideon’s voice to confuse, Lucas smiled inside as he saw the puzzled expression on Healy’s face.
"We've been held in cells in the castle since we first arrived. We didn't see anything. They say you shot Lt. Matheson and left them behind. The shuttles were damaged so we got them fixed and followed as fast as we could." Healy sounded uncertain. The people who had been with him on the planet looked equally confused.
Lucas laughed, as if astonished by Healy’s assertions. "They said what?! Now why would I do that? Someone's lying here, Sergeant, and I know it's not me or you."
He turned to the women and focused on Ilas. "Is that the shape shifter, Sergeant?" Healy nodded and explained that he'd seen Ilas change from a Brakiri into the form she now held now, right in front of him and the other members of his team.
Turning to Healy again, he asked, "So how do we know it wasn't her, him, it, whatever it is, pretending to be me, who shot Matheson?"
The women all spoke at once, but Dureena pushed forward against the restraining arms of one of the Security detail shouting, "It was you. I saw you! And I know that you're not really the captain. I don't know who you are, but Gideon would never have done the things I saw you do." She turned to Healy and pleaded with him. "You saw what happened, Sergeant, just tell them!"
Healy shook his head. "All I saw was Matheson down and the first shuttle gone. I don't know whether he was shot before or after the captain left and I didn't see who shot him. Sorry, ma'am."
Lucas was enjoying himself now. "Are you sure about this, Dureena? Even if you saw what you say, how can you be certain it wasn't the shapeshifter you saw?" [Now that’s a tongue-twister and a half!]
Dureena was screaming now. "No, you bastard! It was you. I saw you!"
Lucas turned to Healy. "Has she been behaving like this since you met up with her down below?" Healy nodded again.
Lucas paused and looked thoughtful. "I have a theory here, Sergeant. I didn’t know these women held you and your people captive for the last few days, or I'd never have left the planet. But I think they wanted a way to get themselves up here to the Excalibur. How do we know there's only one shapeshifter? They could all be masquerading. Can we even be sure that this is the real Dureena? They could still have her locked up in the castle for all we know."
Healy turned and stared at the women. It had obviously never occurred to him that they weren't what they appeared.
Lucas gave the Sergeant a moment to think, then said, "I think we need to investigate these allegations carefully, but in the meantime, we may have allowed dangerous aliens on board the Excalibur, and I'm not taking any chances. I can see at least one of them is armed.” He pointed at Demon whose knife was clearly visible in the sheath on her belt. “Sergeant Healy make sure they hand over any weapons then take them to the brig until we can investigate this properly. Then get your people back to their quarters. They all look as if they need a break."
It took everything Lucas had not to laugh at this point. The crew arriving from Eriadne did indeed look as if they needed a rest. After Demon’s projections of her orgasms had been crashing down over everyone in the castle for a couple of days, they’d probably all screwed each other into the ground. Orgies can be exhausting, as Lucas knew from personal experience.
Lucas dismissed them all and stood aside as Healy first made sure that all the women’s knives had been removed. He was a little surprised to see Lily hand over a knife she’d had concealed under her skirts. [How the hell did she hide that one from me? And where?! Lucky she couldn’t reach it when I had her by the neck. She came damned close to slitting my throat the first time she tried.]
Then the Sergeant and the Security detail started to escort the women out of the landing bay. Dureena was screaming obscenities at him as she struggled with the men holding her, but the others appeared calm. He stopped each of the sisters briefly as they left.
Lily was first and she flinched as he touched her arm. He leaned in close and whispered so that the men escorting her couldn't hear, "You seemed to enjoy your last outing on the Buckmobile well enough. Are you ready for another ride, darlin'?" The little redhead stared up at Lucas defiantly but said nothing before she was pulled away.
He stopped Ilas and pulled the bag that held all the medical equipment off her shoulder. "I'll check this out, Sergeant." Ilas looked as if she wanted to fight and glanced at Demon. Lucas was sure they were talking to each other in their heads, and just wished he could tune in on them, but that was beyond his abilities. He waved the crewmen guarding the small girl with blue hair forward.
As Demon passed Lucas, he ordered the men guarding her to go on ahead and wait outside the bay, telling them that he would look after this one himself. He hung back, holding Demon's arm until there was no one within earshot. She waited without moving, then asked. "Where is Angel? What have you done to her?"
Her voice was flat and unemotional; she was totally under control and not allowing any feelings to escape her. Lucas admired her control and courage but decided that this one could be even more fun to break than Angel. "She's been keeping me entertained." He grinned at her, leaving her to imagine how. "But now she's disobeyed me, so she'll have to be punished. And she won't enjoy that at all."
Lucas leaned in close and spoke softly into her ear, using his own voice. "And when I'm finished with her, I'm coming for you and we'll pick up where we left off. Glad you've got the S&M outfit on, darlin', we can have all kinds of fun if that’s your inclination." He felt Demon shudder as he went on, “Play nice now, or Angel will pay the price.” He then called the crewmen to take her and stood admiring her butt as she walked away.
Taking a deep breath, Lucas did a mental check on where things stood. Angel was locked in his rooms, waiting for her punishment. The other women were in the brig where he could deal with them later, and that was something to look forward to. Raven and Matheson were in Medbay where he planned for a little ‘accident’ to occur but in the meantime, he’d get a guard put on them and isolate them from the rest of the Medbay team. Max was locked in his own quarters, and Gideon was safely sealed away in the Apocalypse Box. The Excalibur’s engines were due back online at any minute and he could get the ship the hell away from Eriadne. And most importantly, he now had a bag full of Vorlon tech that could be sold on the black market. Lucas nodded to himself. Things were going well. Not exactly according to his original plan, but in some ways better. He now had all four witches at hand, waiting to amuse him when he was ready.
The thought of what he planned to do to each of them made Lucas smile. He’d give Blue to Max to incentivize him. Then he’d send Lily to Raven and Matheson. She could die in the same accident as her lovers. The little redhead was far too fond of her knives for Lucas’ liking. It wasn’t safe keeping her around. That just left Demon and Angel, and he could see weeks of pleasure ahead as he bent them to his will, playing each with their fears for the safety of the other.
Lucas headed straight to Max's quarters to take him Ilas' bag. He’d had a brief glance at the contents, but they'd meant nothing to him. This was definitely a job for Max.
On his way there, Lucas used his commlink to order a guard to be placed on Medbay. Dr. Raven was to be confined to an isolation unit with Matheson on the basis that he couldn't be sure whether either of them was who they appeared to be.
When he arrived at the Max’s door, he operated the voice lock and entered. Max was seated at his desk studying the healing device Lucas had given him earlier. He leaped up as Lucas entered. "Why did you lock me in here? What's going on?"
"Calm down Max, you'll bust a blood vessel goin’ on like that. Like I said, I don't entirely trust you yet." He dropped the bag on the desk. "But this should convince you which side is most profitable."
He watched as Max opened the bag and sorted through the contents. Max sat down to examine the items in detail, his eyes lighting up at what he saw. "Where did you get these?"
Lucas leaned against the wall, with his thumbs hooked over the edge of his pants pockets and smiled. "Your girlfriend made a personal delivery." Max looked up sharply, raising his eyebrows and peering over the tops of his spectacles. "They got the shuttles fixed and arrived a few minutes ago. Blue girl is in the brig with her sisters, but she brought that bag with her."
Max hadn't seen him shoot Matheson and Lucas saw no reason for Max to know about that yet. "I, uh, liberated it for you. Would you like me to do the same with Blue?" Lucas asked.
Max narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you can have Blue as a playmate if you like. Or I can toss her out of the airlock if you don’t want her. Your choice." Lucas straightened and turned towards the door. "I'll come by later and you can let me know what you choose," he said as he walked out, voice-locking the door again behind him.
Now Lucas wanted to check on progress on the engines. Once he got the damned ship moving, he could go back and give Angel the lesson in obedience she needed. And Lucas was going to have a great time teaching her, although she might not enjoy the lesson so much. In fact, he’d make damned sure she didn’t enjoy it at all.

Max stared at the door as it closed behind Lucas, feeling helpless. He wanted to help unmask Lucas and get the mission back on track, and not only because he knew that would make Ilas happy. Despite the mask of cynicism he wore most of the time, Max truly believed in what the Excalibur, its captain and its crew were trying to achieve. The problem was that right then he had no idea how he could help anyone. With a sigh, he turned the contents of Ilas’ bag onto his desk and started examining each item carefully. If he couldn’t help anyone else, maybe this time Max might just be able to help himself.

Lucas returned to the bridge and immediately demanded an update on progress on the engines from the Watch Officer. He was not happy with the response. "They're having some problems. It's going to be at least another hour, sir. Sorry, sir." He could see her cringing in her seat, expecting a blistering response from her captain.
Lucas controlled his anger. In some ways he was better at this than Gideon had been as he’d been controlling the rage inside him for years, ever since his father had died in an ‘accident’. Lucas only ever showed people what he wanted them to see. "I'll need another update in an hour. And tell Engineering that if we aren't moving by then, they'll be getting out to push. I'll be in my quarters."
He turned and was leaving the bridge when Communications called him back. "Sorry sir, but we're being hailed."
"On screen." Lucas turned back to his chair. [Who the hell is way out here?]
Galen's image appeared on the screen. "Just thought I'd let you know I'm in the neighborhood. Any chance of a nice cup of tea?"
Lucas cursed to himself but smiled sardonically at the screen. "Oh, we'll put the kettle on specially for you, Galen. When will you get here?" The last thing he needed was a Technomage on board. Didn’t he have enough balls in the air already?
The bald Mage gave one of his more manic grins. "Should be ready to dock in an hour. Break out the cucumber sandwiches, Matthew, I'm feeling a little peckish." An hour. That gave Lucas plenty of time to prepare. A plan started to formulate within his mind.
"We'll expect you then. I'll tell cook to cut off the crusts and lay on pastries." The screen went blank and Lucas turned to his Watch Officer. "As soon as he's docked, I want us to be on our way. You know where I'll be."
He left the bridge, whistling softly to himself. A student of 20th century music would have recognized "Angel" by the Eurythmics at once. "She took her life within her hands..."

 

Chapter 4
The women were herded into a large, light cell and the door closed behind them. They heard both a voice lock and physical locks being set. Dureena turned to Demon and spoke. "Well, that didn't go down too well. Any suggestions?"
Demon shrugged. "We knew he wasn't stupid. What else did you expect? That he would break down and confess everything when we arrived? You haven't spent time with him as Lily and I have." Demon turned and hugged the tiny girl who was still shaking from reaction to seeing Lucas again in the landing bay and grief at seeing her lover shot on the planet below. Ilas leaned in from Lily's other side and stroked her arm comfortingly.
"So why did you come with us? You could easily have stayed on your planet and carried on with your lives. Why risk being captured by him?" Dureena stood with her hands on her hips, glaring up at Demon, her frustration and anger at their situation evident to all.
To Demon, her emotions were painfully intense. "Angel." Demon said just the name, then turned to take Lily to sit on one of the bunks in the room. She settled Lily on the bed and knelt by her side, holding her hands and projecting waves of calmness at the distraught girl. Her sisters were largely immune to Demon's sendings, but it certainly couldn't do any harm.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Dureena turned to Ilas, who had become her friend in the last day or so. "Will you tell me what’s going on here? I know you told me you have a sister called Angel and I assume that she was the woman with Gideon in the courtyard, but she seemed to be willing to go with him. So why are you risking so much to come after her?"
Ilas sighed deeply, obviously wondering how she could explain their bond to Dureena. She tried to make things clearer, while Demon continued comforting Lily. "We’re a unit, a team. We are four, but we are one. If one of us is taken away it's like..." Ilas struggled to find a comparison "Like if you lost a limb. It hurts."
She frowned in concentration, trying to pick the words that would communicate their need to Dureena. "When Angel left in the shuttle it was like a... tearing. Something inside each of us was pulled until it tore. I can't describe the sensation any better, but it hurt. And the farther she went away from us, the more it hurt. We've never been separated like that before. Something, someone is preventing us sending to her now. She's cut off from us. It's wrong, very wrong. We must find her and bring her back to us."
Dureena stepped back at the intensity with which Ilas spoke. "Well, in that case we'd better get out of here and find her." She turned to the door and started working her way round the edge, looking for the location of the control panel behind the wall. Then she took off one of the boots that Ilas had given her earlier and threw it into the shapeshifter’s lap. "Start bending that."

Raven had arrived in the Medbay hard on the heels of the men carrying the stretcher and immediately started giving orders to his team for the equipment and blood he needed to work on Matheson. While the tools Ilas had given him on the planet had saved Matheson's life, he wanted to work with instruments he knew about and could predict. Some of the things Ilas had shown him were a little too like magic for his tastes.
His chief nurse started assembling the equipment Raven ordered, while others stripped John ready for surgery. Raven was worried by the pallor of Matheson's face. While he'd stopped the external bleeding, he worried about what was happening internally. He'd pumped all the blood he'd taken from his volunteers into the Lieutenant, but his color hadn't improved. He must be bleeding internally.
When no one was watching him, Raven leaned forward and stroked Matheson's hair softly. He whispered, "This was Lily's 'sight' wasn't it, John? But she said the future isn't written in stone and she made us promise. Don't break your promise, John, please." He started a further transfusion and went to work. "Don't leave us now."
Raven was so focused on saving John’s life that he barely noticed when the others of his team were called out of the room, and he was left to work alone in the Medbay isolation unit.

Lucas stormed back towards Gideon’s quarters, his mood becoming darker with every step. He was feeling put upon. Hadn’t he enough on his plate without that damned Technomage appearing out of nowhere? Lucas knew a lot about Technomages from the time he’d spent in the Box. He even knew who’d created them, and who they served, which wasn’t something many people were aware of. Worst of all, he knew how dangerous they were and how hard to kill. And getting Galen out of the way was pretty high on Lucas’ agenda at this point. Even more important than arranging for that ‘accident’ in Medbay.
Lucas had a plan, but he’d need Angel’s co-operation to make it happen. He gave a wolfish grin when he thought about exactly how he planned to make the witch co-operate, half scaring a young ensign to death as he stomped past her in the corridor.
Entering Gideon’s living room, Lucas nodded his approval. Angel had obeyed his orders and cleaned the place up. The desk looked bare now the clutter had been removed, but Lucas didn’t care about that. What he did care about was why Angel wasn’t standing waiting for him as soon as he entered the room. In fact, where the hell was she?
With a sigh of exasperation, but smiling with anticipation, Lucas sauntered through to the bedroom. He stopped as he saw Angel curled up on the bed, the covers pulled tightly around her, and was about to start yelling, when he looked more closely. The skin on her face, which was the only part of her he could see, was so white it was almost green. Angel’s eyes were closed and a fine sheen of sweat glistened on Angel’s cheeks and forehead, accentuating her deathly pallor. The only sound in the room was her rapid, shallow breathing. Something was wrong, very wrong.
Lucas moved quickly to the bed and pulled the covers aside. Angel was naked, curled into a tight ball, her whole body shaking with fever, but when he reached out his hand to touch her, she was icy cold. He pulled the covers back over her, then swept her into his arms, sitting on the bed and holding the young witch tightly against him, trying to warm her body with his own.
[What the hell is going on here? How can she have got this sick so fast?] Lucas wondered, as he rocked Angel gently, trying to figure out what was going on. Should he carry her to Medbay and get them to look at her? That would raise a lot of questions that he didn’t need just then. But what if she got sicker and died? Lucas needed Angel for all his plans to work, and what’s more he wanted her. He wanted her in his bed and by his side. He realized that he’d miss more than her powers if she died now.
Well, that wasn’t going to happen. And the first thing he had to do was to check that his block on Angel’s powers was holding. The last thing Lucas needed was for her to start throwing the furniture around if she became feverish. At that moment, Angel’s head rolled back, and she started to mumble, barely coherent, calling Lucas’ name. She was begging him to help her, even in her unconscious state. Then her eyes fell open and Lucas stared at them in shock. They were black. Completely black, no whites, no irises, nothing. Just like twin pits of darkness leading to hell.
[Well, that ain’t a good look on you, darlin’. Seems like I’m gonna have to dive in and see what the problem is. Doctor Buck is in the house.] Holding Angel close with one arm, Lucas lifted his hand to her sweaty forehead, [Damn, she feels cold!] and closed his eyes.
As he started tunneling into Angel’s mind, Lucas became aware of pressure and resistance. It felt like her mind was collapsing around him, squeezing down on her synapses and brain cells, as her telekinetic powers turned inward on themselves. [No wonder she said her head hurt, this is giving me a headache, too!]
Wincing at the pain, Lucas continued, deeper into Angel’s head, until he found the source of the pressure. He cursed viciously when he saw that it was his own block on her powers that was the cause of the problem. Angel’s abilities came from somewhere deep within her, somewhere he hadn’t been able to reach during the night he’d spent tormenting her, with his hand buried inside her. Normally, Angel channeled those abilities unconsciously, only tapping into them as and when she needed. The power flowed through her without harming her.
But now, Lucas had blocked that flow and the power had built up behind his block, creating this intolerable pressure, which would blow her brains out if it wasn’t released. Lucas realized that if he didn’t do something, Angel’s head could quite literally explode. His problem was that releasing the block would be dangerous. The pressure that had already built up behind it could cause a surge of power that might take out anyone nearby when it blew. But unless he did something soon, he’d be having to call a cleaning crew to clear up a mess that he’d have great difficulty explaining. [A headless, naked girl in the captain’s quarters would be something new for the crew to deal with!]
Gritting his teeth and getting ready to run, Lucas carefully placed Angel’s shivering body back on the bed. Then he stood at her side, as far back as he could get while still touching her forehead. [Here we go, ready or not…]
Diving into Angel’s mind again and ripping the block aside, Lucas leaped backwards, only just avoiding the shaft of black lightening that exploded from Angel’s head. It hit the bulkhead over the bed, leaving a smoking scar across the ceiling. [Oh great, now how am I going to explain that to maintenance?]
Standing by the bed, Lucas looked down and saw that Angel was completely still. Her face was slack, and he couldn’t hear her breathing. Lunging forward, he snatched her up into his arms again, shaking her violently as he did so. “Don’t you die on me now, darlin’! I’ve got plans for you.”
With a shuddering gasp, Angel started to breathe again. Color flooded back into her face, and Lucas could feel her body beginning to warm as he held her tightly against him. He watched her face carefully and after a few moments her eyes started to flutter, then opened. Blue. They were back to their usual startling blue. Lucas let out a sigh of relief; he hadn’t even been aware that he’d been holding his breath.
Looking down into Angel’s face, Lucas smiled and asked, “How are you feelin’, love? Does your head still hurt?”
Angel looked up at him and smiled, her face full of so much love and confidence that Lucas’ stomach lurched. [Dammit, I really need to eat something soon.]
“My headache has gone now, Lucas. Thank you. I knew you could fix it. But I’m tired.”
Lucas kissed her gently on the forehead, then stood up, turning to lay Angel gently back onto the bed, lifting the blanket to cover her. “You need to sleep now, darlin’. I’m gonna need your help in a little while, so you need to be all better. Can you do that for me, love?”
Angel gave Lucas another sweet smile that did strange things to his stomach. Then she frowned and her face fell as she gazed up at him. “You said you were going to punish me, Lucas. I’m sorry I didn’t break the shuttles properly. I…”
Angel’s voice trailed off as Lucas touched his finger to her lips. “Shush now, Angel-face. That’s all forgotten. Just go to sleep and get well, OK?”
Angel gave one of her heart-rending smiles, and whispered, “My sisters. They’re here aren’t they? I can feel them. I can’t speak to them, but I can feel them.”
[Dammit, I’d better make sure that link of theirs is blocked!] He leaned forward and kissed her forehead again, using the contact to strengthen the block that prevented Angel linking to her sisters. “Yes, your sisters are here. You can see them once you’ve helped me, OK?” Like that was ever going to happen!
Lucas stood watching Angel as her eyes closed and she drifted off to sleep. Carefully adjusting the bedclothes to cover her, Lucas then turned and moved into the living area, closing the bedroom door behind him.
Checking his commlink, Lucas saw that his hour was nearly up. The Technomage would be landing soon. With a sigh, Lucas turned to leave Gideon’s quarters again, wondering why the universe wouldn’t give him a break. All he wanted was to get the ship moving, get something to eat, then spend a few hours with Angel… before moving onto her sisters, of course. Was that too much to ask?

Galen followed his old friend silently. A few moments ago Matthew had come and greeted him, which was his first hint that something was different. Matthew had never come to the landing bay to welcome him before. But Galen wasn't given the chance to say anything as Matthew had launched into a brief summary of the events of the previous few days.
As they’d stood in the landing bay, Matthew had told him about the troubles they'd encountered on the planet below. Galen had been ready to ask if everything was all right, but Matthew continued, saying that things were getting back on track, and that they'd discovered some new technology that could give them a great leap forward in finding a cure for the Drakh Plague.
“Well, that’s excellent news, Matthew. Do you know the source of this wonderful new technology?”
Gideon nodded. “Sort of. That’s part of the problem.”
Galen stood, listening carefully as Matthew went on to explain that he needed the Technomage’s help. “It’s difficult to explain, but it might be easier to show you. Will you come to my quarters?” Galen nodded, intrigued by his friend’s behavior and request.
They’d walked from the landing bay, side by side, Galen with his hood up around his head, his staff grasped in his hand as usual. As they neared Gideon's rooms, Galen cast another sideways glance at the captain. There was something different about him, something not quite right. He looked like Matthew, and he sounded like Matthew… well almost.
When Matthew had welcomed him, Galen had noticed a slight drawl in his voice. But the Mage shrugged it off as his imagination as the captain continued to talk, sounding exactly like the friend he knew. Nevertheless, Galen sensed a shadow surrounding his old friend. Matthew had always carried more than his fair share of darkness, which was only to expected in a man who had lived through what Gideon had. But this was something new, there was something wrong here, but for now Galen’s instincts told him to bide his time until things became clearer.
The Technomage did however wonder why they were walking to Matthew’s quarters when they could have got there much quicker using the bullet tube. Why would Matthew ask for his help and then delay? For now, Galen was willing to be patient. He had no doubt that all would become apparent in time.

Lucas could feel the Technomage's eyes on him as they stopped outside Gideon's quarters. He knew Galen had sensed that something was wrong. That was why he had to get rid of the annoying Magic Man before Galen could become a threat to his plans. Well, Angel would be the one to make that happen, as long as she was well enough to help him. Lucas had deliberately delayed returning to Gideon’s rooms to give the witch more time to recover.
Unlocking the door, Lucas waved Galen in ahead of him, then closed and locked the door behind them. He saw Galen giving him a surprised look and said, “You’ll understand why in a minute. Why don’t you sit down, and I’ll explain what really happened down on the planet.”
Galen moved to sit, and Lucas could see the Mage looking around at the empty desk and gaps in other places where Gideon had kept ornaments. Some of those had also got smashed when Lucas had fucked Angel on the desk.
With a raised eyebrow and sardonic look, Galen asked, “Are you redecorating, Matthew? Going for a minimalist look perhaps?”
Lucas shook his head. “Just getting rid of some old clutter. Time to move on.”
He opened his mouth to start spinning his lies, but before he could do so, Galen said, “And is your Earthforce graduation class one of the things you’re moving on from? I see you’re no longer wearing your class ring.”
Lucas looked down at his hand. He hadn’t noticed until then that the ring was missing. He remembered flinging it across Angel’s bedroom in a histrionic gesture when he’d been pretending that Gideon had been the one to torture the young witch, and he’d then forgotten all about it. Lucas looked up at Galen and gave a resigned smile. “It came off somewhere down on Eriadne, and I couldn’t find it. Guess I must have lost some weight recently.”
To his surprise, Galen nodded. “Yes, you have. You need to eat more, Matthew, you need to keep your strength up for the mission. Now, what is it I can help you with?”
Lucas stood and gestured towards the closed bedroom door. “Let me show you something, then I’ll explain.”
Sensing that Angel was still sleeping, he waited for Galen to join him, then opened the door. Lucas expected to see Angel curled up on the bed as he’d left her. Instead, she’d rolled onto her back, throwing off most of the bedclothes, which now only covered her from the waist down. Lucas blinked a couple of times, entranced by the sight of Angel’s beautiful breasts, then a quiet clearing of a throat from his side reminded him where he was and what he was doing. Lucas silently gestured Galen to take a step back and closed the bedroom door.
When he turned, Galen was giving him a penetrating stare. “Matthew, you appear to have a naked young woman in your bed.”
Lucas nodded. “Correct. And that’s what I need your help with.” [Let Magic Man chew on that one for a while,] he thought.
Galen’s eyebrows raised so far, they looked like they were about to leave his face. “And exactly what sort of help are you looking for, Matthew? I was under the impression that you were quite capable of dealing with naked young women without any outside assistance.”
Lucas laughed. “Correct again, Galen. And if I was interested in a threesome, you wouldn’t be at the top of my list of people to invite.”
Galen sat down abruptly and said, “Who is she? And why is she naked in your bed?”
Lucas moved to the cupboard where Gideon kept his stock of illicit liquor, took out a bottle of good Scotch, and poured generous measures into two glasses. Passing one to Galen, he sat down and said, “She’s from the planet below. She’s one of four sisters—well, that’s what they call themselves although as far as I can make out, she’s only genetically related to one of them. They call themselves witches.”
Galen sat bolt upright in his chair and slammed his glass on the table. “Witches? What type of witches?”
Lucas took a sip of his drink, intrigued by the Technomage’s response. Something had got under Galen’s skin. “Is there more than one type? The only sort I’ve ever heard of do ‘magic’. And some of the things I saw down there definitely fall into that category.”
The Mage leaned forward, saying, “You know what the Bible says about witches, Matthew.”
Lucas snorted. “Exodus 22:18. ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’. But let’s not get carried away here. Exodus 22:16 says ‘And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.’ I’ve done a fair bit of enticing in my time, and I’ve never yet had to make any endowments or acquire any wives, so I don’t plan on burning anyone at the stake just yet.”
This time Galen smiled. “Very wise. I’ve no idea where you’d get the kindling, and your fire prevention systems would probably douse a bonfire very quickly and leave you with a soggy mess. But none of this explains what this so-called witch is doing in your bed, naked. Or have you been doing some illicit enticing?”
Lucas laughed again. “I wasn’t doing any enticing, I promise. But she took a liking to me and got a little clingy. I brought her back up here so I could get more information out of her and find out how she does what she does.”
Galen shook his head. “None of which explains the two things you keep avoiding, Matthew. Bed. Naked. How did that happen?”
Lucas thought Galen had a bit of a fixation on those two things and decided the sight of Angel’s naked breasts must have had quite an impact on the Mage. Then again, they’d have an impact on any hetero human male, and as far as he knew, Galen was all three. Lucas laughed again. “Before I left to see you in the landing bay, I suggested she take a nap. I’d no idea she planned to strip off before getting into bed. I told you she took a liking to me. I guess she was hoping that when I got back, I might take advantage.”
Galen looked at him suspiciously, but Lucas forged on. “I wasn’t planning on that, but I did plan to question her myself. However, when you called and said you were joining us, I thought you were just the man for the job.” The Mage looked surprised and curious, so Lucas went on with his lies. “One thing I did learn from her before I brought her back up her—apart from her name being Angelique—is that she’s a native of Earth who was brought here by Vorlons, then abandoned.”
At the mention of Vorlons, Galen shot to his feet. [Gotcha! I knew that would yank your chain.]
“Vorlons? And witches? What exactly have you got yourself into here, Matthew?”
Lucas looked up at the Technomage and shook his head as he took another sip from his glass. “You tell me, Galen. That’s the help I need from you. I’m going to go in there, wake her up, then persuade Angelique—she prefers Angel by the way—to talk to you. I’m guessing that what she has to say will make a lot more sense to you than it will to me. So will you help? Will you spend some time with her and find out how she does her ‘magic’?”
Lucas knew he was offering the Technomage something he’d never be able to resist. [‘Specially now he’s seen Angel naked. I bet she puts your Isabelle in the shade, don’t she, Galen?]
Galen sat down again, carefully arranging his coat around him, then picked up the glass of Scotch that he’d barely touched and drank it down in one gulp. Taking a deep breath he looked up at Lucas and said, “Of course, Matthew. I’d be delighted to help. But I’ll need to be alone with the young woman. Will that be a problem for you?” He was scrutinizing Lucas carefully, watching for a reaction.
Lucas grinned. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. Give me a few minutes to tell her who you are and what I want her to do and I’ll bring her out to you. It may take a while to persuade her but then I’ll leave you two together. I have a ship to run and it’s about time I got back to my day job.”
Galen nodded so Lucas stood and went through to the bedroom, closing the door carefully behind him. To his surprise, Angel was now awake, fully dressed and sitting on the edge of the bed. She looked up at him warily as he entered the room and Lucas could see that she was still concerned about his earlier threats of punishment.
To reassure her, Lucas smiled as he sat on the bed next to her, slipping his arm around her shoulder and pulling her gently to his side. He leaned across to kiss her gently on the lips and asked, “How are you feeling now, love? How’s the head?”
Angel smiled up at him and said, “Much better, thank you. You did something to me, Lucas, didn’t you? I remember you were here, and you made the pain go away.”
Lucas gave her a gently hug, saying, “You had me going there, darlin’. I was worried I was going to lose you. I did what I could and I’m glad it worked. Now I need a little favor from you in return. Can you help me, Angel? Will you do something for me?”
Gazing at Lucas with eyes that shone with love and adoration, Angel said, “Anything, Lucas. I’ll do anything I can for you.”
Lucas kissed her again, just gently, opening his mouth and feeling hers open under his lips. He deepened the kiss until he felt her becoming aroused, then gently pulled back. Lifting his hand to caress Angel’s face he said, “You make me so happy when you say that, love. This job I have for you is going to be difficult, and I need to explain some things to you first. Have you ever heard of Technomages?”
Angel shook her head, so Lucas continued. “They’re a group of very powerful beings, who use advanced technology to make what they do look like magic. They have metal implants in their bodies which they use to create illusions. They were created by the Shadows…”
Lucas stopped speaking as Angel’s eyes went wide and she struggled away from him, scrambling up the bed, grabbing the pillow and hugging it tightly in front of her. “It’s OK, love, the Shadows have gone. They went beyond the Rim, along with the Vorlons. There’s nothing to be afraid of from the Shadows. They can’t hurt you.” It was obvious that Angel had heard of the Shadows before and not in a good way.
The young witch whispered, “Sometimes when the Vorlons were torturing us, they’d tell us that if we didn’t co-operate, they’d give us to the Shadows, and we’d find out what pain really felt like. They showed us pictures of them, all black and spiky, with lots of eyes and claws. Are you sure they’ve all gone? Won’t they come back?”
Lucas spent a few moments reassuring her, very much aware that time was slipping away, and Galen would be getting impatient. “The Shadows may be gone, but I wish I could say the same for their servants, the Technomages. Now their masters have gone, the Mages have found a new role and purpose.” He looked deep into Angel’s eyes and used his most sincere tone of voice. “They’re assassins now, Angel. Sitting out there in the living room is a Technomage called Galen and he’s come here to kill me.”

Angel stared at Lucas in horror. “Kill you? Why would he want to kill you, Lucas? How could he even know who you are?”
Lucas took her hand and squeezed it gently. “Well, strictly speaking, it’s not me he wants to kill; he’s after Gideon. But while I’m using Gideon’s body, it’ll be me who ends up dead if Galen succeeds.”
Angel’s head was spinning. She was still weak from her earlier headaches and very much aware of the fact that she hadn’t eaten for far too long. What Lucas was telling her was overwhelming. Someone wanted to kill him! What would she do if Lucas were killed? How would she live without him? “Lucas, how can we stop him? You can’t die, I won’t let you!” Tears streamed down her face as she flung herself into Lucas’ arms, burying her head into his shoulder and sobbing.
Lucas soothed and comforted her, then lifted her chin so he could give her another gentle kiss. “I’m so sorry, Angel, but there’s only one way we can stop him killing me and that’s if we kill him first.”
Angel was horrified. She’d never killed anything in her life, let alone a sentient being. What Lucas was asking was impossible. “No! No, I can’t help you do that, Lucas. My sisters and I refused to work with the Vorlons because they wanted us to kill, and they did unspeakable things to us in revenge. I can’t… I won’t help you kill anyone.”
She was expecting Lucas to get angry but instead he looked sad. “Then that leaves me with only two options, Angel. I can stay in this body, and let Galen kill me, or I can go back into the Apocalypse Box, and let Gideon loose. Then it will be Gideon who dies, not me. Is that what you want?”
Angel’s head started to throb again. “Gideon? He’d be out of the Box again? Oh gods, no, Lucas, no! He’d come after me. He’d torture me again. I couldn’t go through that again. Please Lucas, no! Help me. Don’t let Gideon hurt me again.” She clung to Lucas again, sobbing into his neck as he gently stroked her hair.
His voice was soft and low when he finally spoke. “Those are our only options, Angel. We kill Galen, we let Gideon out of the Box and let him be killed, or I die. Is that what you want, Angel? Do you want me to die so that you don’t have to kill? Because if that’s your choice, if you won’t kill, then I guess we say goodbye forever. Either I’ll be dead or locked in the Box where it could take me another 250 years to find a suitable host. You’ll never see me again, love. I’ll never get to hold you again, make love to you again. I’ll just be an insubstantial spirit locked in the Box until someone like you comes along and lets me out.”
Angel continued to sob, but eventually looked up and asked reluctantly, “Why can’t you kill him, Lucas? Can’t you do it yourself?” She hated herself for asking.
Lucas smiled down at her sadly. “I could never get close enough, love. And if I tried to attack him from behind, his implants would protect him. The only way to kill him is with a knife to the chest, stabbing him from the front, up between his ribs and into his heart. You could do it, Angel. You could use your powers to hold him in place, just like you did with Gideon, then you could stab him.” Lucas reached into his pocket and pulled out the knife he’d taken from Angel at their first encounter. Holding it out to her, he said, “This will fit into that little holster of yours. You can hide it there, and when you get the chance, you hold him, then you kill him.”
Lucas’ smile broadened. “Galen has already seen you and I think he was quite enamored by what he saw. You can get close to him easily enough, which I could never do.”
“He’s seen me? When?” Angel asked.
Lucas laughed softly. “We looked in while you were asleep. I’d left you well covered up, but you must have thrown off the covers in your sleep. The Magic Man got an eyeful of the most beautiful breasts in the galaxy.”
Mortified by the knowledge that a stranger had seen her naked, Angel was still pleased with and distracted by Lucas’ compliment. “You like my breasts that much? Demon’s are bigger.” She looked down at the top of her tunic and her cleavage, then up at Lucas when he laughed.
“Bigger isn’t always better, love. You have what I’d call Goldilocks breasts. Not too big and not too small. Just perfect.” A wave of love for Lucas washed over Angel, and she started to waver. She couldn’t lose him. Not now, not when her happy ever after was in reach. But she delayed, asking another question.
“But why does he want to kill Gideon? I don’t understand.”
Lucas nodded. “It’s hard love, I know. But Galen serves the Shadows, even though they’re gone. They unleashed a plague on Earth and everyone on the planet, all ten billion of them, will die unless Gideon and his crew can find a cure to that plague. Gideon has been too successful, he’s getting too close, so the Technomages want to take him out.” He leaned in and hugged her gently again. “I’m sorry, darlin’ but we’re out of time. You need to make your choice. Either come out there with me and wait for a chance to kill Galen, or I’ll walk out of here alone, and we’ll never be together again. And ten billion people on Earth will die.”
Lucas held out the knife and waited silently for Angel to make her choice.

Galen watched as Gideon entered the living area, pulling the girl gently by the arm. The Technomage’s eyes widened at the sight of her. The glimpse he’d caught of this woman, lying naked in Matthew’s bed, had been enough to tell him that she had a beautiful body—well, the part of it he’d been able to see at least. But now he got to see her properly, Galen realized that she was exquisite. She was slender to the point of thinness, her skin pale and flawless, her cheeks colored with a slight flush and a scattering of freckles across her nose that only seemed to enhance her beauty. Her lips were full and her chin firm. Her hair was as black as night and her eyes—when she finally lifted them to look at him--were a startling blue. But at that moment, those beautiful eyes were full of fear.
Galen hastened to reassure her. “Angel—that is your name?” He remembered Matthew saying she preferred it to Angelique. He waited for her to nod then went on, “I’m not going to hurt you. But I do have some questions for you. Has Matthew told you who I am?” She nodded again so he went on, “Well, let me introduce myself properly. My name is Galen and I’m what is called a Technomage. Have you heard of our order?”
Matthew interjected before Angel could respond. “I’ve just been telling Angel all about the Technomages. That’s partly why we took so long to come out to see you. I’m sorry, I’m not being a particularly good host. Let me start again.” The captain smiled down at the young woman and let go of her arm. “Angel, this is Galen. I’m going to leave you here with him while I get back to work. Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you, he just has some questions for you. I think he’ll be able to understand your story far better than I can. Will you talk to him? And remember what I asked you to do? Just do what we agreed, OK?”
Galen watched as the girl looked up at Gideon with adoring eyes and nodded. Then she turned to look at Galen and smiled. The Mage was astonished at the impact that smile had on him. His heart started racing and he felt a rush of blood into a part of his body that hadn’t reacted in that way since he’d lost his Isabelle. Tuning into his implants, Galen quickly brought his body back into equilibrium and smiled back.
Turning to Gideon he said, “I think you can leave us now, Matthew. You go back to running your ship, while Angel and I have a nice chat. And if you’d care to send in those sandwiches and pastries you promised, with a nice pot of Earl Grey, we can enjoy our afternoon tea while we talk.”
Gideon chuckled. “It’s late evening ship’s time, Galen.”
Galen lifted his head and looked down his nose at the captain. “It’s afternoon somewhere in the galaxy, Matthew, so we can choose to honor that time zone while we drink our tea.”
Gideon left the room, shaking his head. Galen turned to Angel and smiled, gesturing at the empty desk. “Shall we sit down? It will make talking much easier and we can have our tea here. That is if Matthew remembers to have it sent in. I have my doubts.”
He was rewarded with another smile, this time a slightly cheeky one, and Angel said softly, “Lu…The captain said you were the Magic Man. Can’t you conjure us a teapot? And some cups and saucers would be useful. A slice of lemon would be perfect.” The young woman’s voice sent shivers down Galen’s spine. His implants were not helping him control his responses at all. He’d need to give them a severe talking to when he got the opportunity.
Galen laughed. “I think you and I are going to get along famously, Angel. Let us begin.”