Note: The characters James Christian, Jennifer Christian, Rosemary Schultz, and Ra'el were created by members of the ULSG's US Taelon Division, a role-playing game. You may not use these characters without permission from the author.  All other characters are taken from the show Earth: Final Conflict and are used without permission. They are property of Tribune Entertainment and Roddenberry-Kirshner Productions. No copyright infringement is intended. This story is set towards the end of US Taelon's Mission #3 and after "A Stitch In Time". Text enclosed in ~ indicates mental communication or thoughts.


US Taelon Division

Date: January 23

Author: Jen LeMaire, Esti, and Sithspit

Time: Present

Place: Unnamed island in the Pacific Ocean

Subject: Double Date

Liam's hands danced nervously over the controls of the shuttle. He didn't really understand the source of his agitation. It was not like he hadn't ever used the shuttle for personal reasons before; it was probably the fact that this would be his first date. A week or so ago, his friend, James Christian, had asked Liam if he would be willing to help out with a little favor. Commander Christian wanted to go on a date with his wife to some secluded place and have some quiet time together, but he didn't trust any of the other shuttle pilots. Rather than make Liam feel like a "third wheel", it was decided that they would invite one of Jennifer's friends along and make it a double date.

The beeping of the alarm told Liam that they were about to come out of interdimensional. He turned back to his passengers and said, "Get ready guys." Liam's extreme nervousness caused James to comment, "Liam, she won't bite. Maybe just nibble a little." This sent Jennifer into a small fit of barely stifled giggles at the thought of Dr. Rosemary Schultz actually biting a Companion Protector.

Rosemary sat just as uncomfortably in the back of the shuttle. ~When I said I'd love to go out with someone in Companion Security, Liam Kincaid was NOT the person I'd had in mind!~ She shook her head wondering just how she had gotten into this...Jennifer had been acting very strangely since she'd returned from her assignment for Zo'or. ~Although,~ Rosemary thought, ~an assignment for Zo'or would probably make anyone act strange.~ Still, Jennifer had been quiet...too quiet, in fact. She had not been her usual friendly self. The invitation for a night out had come as quite a shock to Rosemary.

The shuttle sat down on the island they had picked. It was a small, uninhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean. The only thing on the island was about an acre of bushes and palm trees. The remainder of the island was taken up by a beach barely large enough to safely land the shuttle. It had been carefully scanned and the Companion agents were satisfied that their evening would be completely unmonitored. A few things needed to be said tonight that required complete privacy. No one except James and Liam were even aware of the location; the men wanted to ensure that they would have a completely uninterrupted evening.

The sound of laughter filled the air as the ladies sent the men to make sure there were no small life forms to contend with. Feeling secure, the ladies ran over to the bushes and changed into their swimsuits. The men had no twinges of modesty. The two Companion Protectors stripped in front of the shuttle and changed into their suits directly under the nighttime sky.

When the ladies came out, Liam could do nothing but stare for several long minutes. He had seen women scantily dressed at the Flat Planet Cafť, but this was the first time he had ever been face to face with a woman in a bikini. James snorted a laugh and said, "Come on, Liam! It's not as if you've never seen a lady in a swimsuit before... although, I will admit these ladies look especially hot tonight..."

With that, Jennifer playfully batted at James, the heaviness that had been shrouding her for the past few weeks temporarily forgotten. James, of course, instinctively blocked Jennifer's swat and deftly flipped her to the sand. She looked up into his shining eyes and grinned, "I really should remember not to try that if you aren't looking..." He planted a quick kiss on the end of her nose and helped her back up. Looking at the blanket that the men had set out, Jennifer jokingly chided, "You'd better be careful. You're about to have sand in all of the food!" The Companion Protector stared quietly at the woman he loved, and Rosemary could feel that something unspoken had passed between them.

Rosemary gazed at her two friends and smiled slightly. ~Maybe something's back to normal,~ she thought. She looked over at her date, wondering if they'd get along at all. She and security weren't always known to mix, and in particular Agent Sandoval continued to act annoyed at her from the time when that CVI virus was running amok. Of course, Liam Kincaid didn't seem to have Sandoval's biases about her, and he was quite a bit friendlier besides. He wasn't Agent Lassiter, but a person never knew who she could meet. The growling of her stomach brought Rosemary out of her musings, and she realized that in all the excitement, it had been quite a while since she had eaten.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An hour later, the incoming tide saw the two couples sit and watch the sun peacefully find its rest below the horizon. The deep red rays lit the deep and the ocean looked awash in liquid fire. As the warm breeze blew over beach, the world seemed consummately perfect. Everything outside of the island was forgotten for a short time.

Laughing and joking, everyone abandoned thoughts of responsibility and relished the time they had stolen for the evening. The Companion agents swam and played volleyball. Jennifer seemed a little more at peace with herself. Liam splashed in the waves and yelled with delight as he tossed about in the surf. Unfortunately, as the night grew later the festivities began to die down. Jennifer's joy faded, and with the passing of each hour, she became more and more sullen.

After a while, it became obvious to everyone there that she had serious things on her mind. Jennifer and James walked into the surf and spent several minutes in deep conversation. James embraced his wife, and she wiped away tears before walking back towards the beach. James followed her in and looked around for the other couple. Once he found them, he went over to where they were sitting watching the stars. "Liam," he said. "I've been meaning to ask you something about the shuttle ID drive. Could you come show me how the controls work?". A brief look of confusion passed across Liam's face, as he sought the hidden reason for the request. He realized that there must be method to the madness, and so he excused himself from his date and followed his friend to the shuttle.

Jennifer watched the men walk away with dread. She forced herself to go over Rosemary, but found herself with a loss for words. Rosemary looked up at her friend and wondered if this had something to do with what had been troubling her recently. She smiled at Jennifer and motioned for her to sit down. Jennifer took a deep breath and began, " Um, Rosemary, there's something I've been wanting to discuss with you. It's really been on my mind lately."

"I can tell that something has been really bothering you. What is it?"

Jennifer stared hard at the sand between her feet. "Do you know anything about what I was sent on assignment for?"

Dr. Schultz considered the question for a moment before replying, "I don't seem to remember what it was. Other than it was something for Zo'or..."

The other doctor looked up at the stars and sighed deeply. Finally she found her courage and confessed, "I need to tell you something...something serious. But by telling you, I'm putting us both at risk÷"

Rosemary blinked in confusion. "It would have to be something really heavy, for you to be this worried."

Dr. Christian nodded her head. In a cracking whisper she replied, "I've been a part of some things I'm not proud of, Rosemary"

Dr. Schultz reached out and put her hand on her friend's shoulder. "We all have, Jen. But, I guess that you're thinking of something that's a little more serious than the usual?"

Jennifer nodded again. "This assignment for Zo'or...it...it opened my eyes to some things."

Rosemary drew a small breath before speaking. "Oh, dear. Like what?"

Dr. Christian looked away. Staring at the crashing waves, she confessed, "I'm risking both our lives by telling you this, but after everything that we've been through, I can't hide what I know anymore."

Dr. Schultz nodded and thought back to through the time she and Jennifer had spent together. She remembered all of the long days that they spent in isolation locked together when they had been kidnapped. Jennifer broke Rosemary's train of thought by asking, "What do you know about the fixed link travel system?"

Rosemary shook her head and blinked. Finally, she answered, "Well, I know it's a fast way to get places. I've taken it twice, well, at least the Los Angeles to New York portal."

She was completely taken by surprise when her companion began crying softly. "Oh Rosemary," the other doctor said. "If I had only known...."

Rosemary was confused, "Known what?"

Jennifer took a deep breath and whispered, "If Zo'or ever finds out I told you, we could both end up dead..."

Dr. Schultz muttered, "Oh, good, I'll just add him to the collection of other Taelons who want my head÷"

Jennifer looked up into her friend's eyes, suddenly clear-eyed. "Rosemary, not all Taelons are like Zo'or. There are some that are on our side÷

Rosemary sighed, "I know. There are some that I trust... like Ra'el." She was grateful for the unexpected change of mood. "If I truly thought that all Taelons were awful, I'd join the Liberation. You don't see me doing that, do you?"

The darkness fell back over Jennifer then. She looked down at the sand and muttered, "After what I'm about to tell you, you just might..." Several long moments passed before the doctor found the courage to continue. She studied her friend's eyes and finally whispered, "There is another way÷"

Rosemary could tell that her friend was having trouble admitting whatever secret she was hiding. Her frustrated curiosity got the better of her. "Jen," she said. "What's so blasted awful that it has you talking like this? This has got to be something bad to have you this upset."

Jennifer took a deep breath and steeled herself. She locked eyes with her friend and said, "Rosemary, Zo'or sent me to Antarctica to follow up on a project he was head of recently. It was a project involving the portals."

Dr. Schultz cocked her head, "The portals? What do you and Antarctica have to do with the portals?"

Jennifer sighed. "Rosemary, Zo'or was using the portals as a way to get guinea pigs for a pet project of his. It took Da'an several months to stop him."

Still not understanding, Dr. Schultz asked, "So, you were a part of this? Was I?"

Jennifer dropped her head in shame. "I knew about certain parts of this experiment...but I didn't know the full scope until I went to Antarctica..."

"And???" Rosemary asked in a moment of impatience. "What's this all about, Jennifer?"

Dr. Christian finally admitted, "I discovered that you were one of the guinea pigs..."

Rosemary didn't know what to say. A breathless "Oh..." escaped her lips. It took several seconds for her to gather the courage for her next question. "What happened to me that I don't know about?"

Jennifer sighed with weary resignation. "One of the things that they were doing was implanting people with partial CVI's..."

Rosemary blurted out, "And the other? What happened to me???"

Dr. Christian turned to study the waves for a few seconds before she answered, Seeing her silence, Rosemary whispered, "I'm not going to like this÷"

Jennifer turned to face her friend. "The other thing they were doing was implanting women with hybrid human-Taelon babies."

Dr. Schultz cried out, "I'm a mother??"

Jennifer couldn't help but smile at Rosemary's conclusion. "No, my friend, I didn't find your name in those files." Temporary relief flooded the other woman's face. Jennifer turned her gaze back out to the ocean. "You're not a mother, but you have been implanted with a partial CVI."

Dr. Christian's friend stared on in shocked silence for a minute. A range of emotion began to play across her face. She looked at her friend with fading hope. "Oh, my... no. You're not joking... Are you sure??? Could there be another Rosemary Schultz?"

Jennifer shook her head sadly. "Part of my assignment in Antarctica was doing follow up on subjects from the Portal Project. I found your name when I was reviewing the list of physicians who had been implanted."

Rosemary stared at Jennifer, not able to absorb what she had just been told. "I have a CVI... partial?... in my head? It must not be active..." she mumbled.

Jennifer continued her explanation. "It is only active in your subconscious--for now. We really need to discuss your options÷"

Rosemary could no longer contain the tears. "Uh, just a moment, I need a moment...."

"I understand." Jennifer silently watched her friend get up and run off into the bushes sobbing. The tears on her face mirrored those of her friend.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The men looked up at the sound of the crying, and concern was evident on both of their faces. Liam couldn't feel Rosemary's thoughts, but he could plainly see how upset she was. A burning desire to be with her--to somehow help her overcome the pain coursed through him, and he took off after her. He found his date curled up under a large group of bushes crying heavily. When he reached out to touch her shoulder, she slapped his hand away. Not knowing what else to do, he asked, "Do you want to talk?"

Rosemary sniffed back her tears. "Not really..."

Liam looked uncomfortable, "Is it something I've done?" he asked.

Rosemary shook her head, "Oh! No...it's not you. I just discovered that there's just something I was very stupid about..."

"I don't understand..." Liam said.

"I've been way too trusting, that's all. Nothing for you to worry about, really. It really doesn't involve you," she said, "Unless you're a Taelon in disguise..."

Liam's face crinkled up in obvious confusion. "Trusting? Taelons?" he stated. "What's happened?? Have they done something to you?"

Rosemary stared at Liam for a moment, trying to decide if he was trustworthy. Finally she spoke. "It's really okay, Liam. I'm just upset. You could say that I'm having a little problem with a rotten Taelon in the barrel..."

Before she could finish, Liam blurted, "Zo'or, I take it?" Just mentioning Zo'or's name lit an angry fire in the man's eyes. His expression painted an explicit picture of his feelings for the Taelon.

Liam's outburst helped Rosemary to make her decision. "I trust, that since you don't have a CVI, you won't repeat any information?" A new thought occurred to her. "Why don't you have a CVI, by the way? I thought it was a requirement of your job÷"

"What? Are you kidding??? Let them implant me with a CVI and become a Taelon puppet like Sandoval? I believe in thinking for myself."

His vehement answer surprised Rosemary. She shook her head and sighed, "I'd normally be lecturing you about security issues, but I don't feel like doing so right now." She paused for a moment and looked deep into the man's eyes. "Liam, why are you working as a Companion Protector if you feel that way?"

Liam's face broke into a broad grin when considered his answer. A touch of pride and affection colored his response. "I serve Da'an because he is *worth* protecting."

Rosemary thought about Liam's answer, and shook her head. "It's like I said then, Zo'or is one rotten Taelon in the barrel." The weight of her dilemma found her again and tears began to fall anew. "Do you really want to know what happened to me?"

Liam looked tenderly at her and lay his hand on her arm. "I want to help if I can."

Rosemary tapped the side of her head, a mixture of anger and fear on her face. "I have a partial CVI, Liam." she said. "I didn't ask for it--all I did was travel through the portals....thank heavens it's not completely active÷"

Anger flared as he comprehended her words. "They did that to you?!?"

Rosemary nodded. "They did. It was one of those hidden programs the Resistance is always talking about but I discounted because I thought they were all full of hot air, especially Doors...now I know the truth÷"

Liam reached out and pulled Rosemary into a hug. He searched for the words to say and found none. At last he stammered, "I'm÷so sorry for all they've done to you. Is there anything you can do? Do you have any options?"

Rosemary sniffled, "I don't know yet," and the tears began to flow again.

Liam looked deeply into her eyes and wished that there was something he could do to ease her pain. The wind blew a stray lock of hair into Rosemary's face, and Liam gently reached up to brush it away with his hand. As he did so, a small jolt of blue energy jumped from his fingers into Rosemary's head.

He looked at his hand in shock. ~What was THAT???~ But Rosemary didn't seem to notice. Her crying had stopped and she suddenly melted into his embrace. She turned her face into his chest and breathed deeply, savoring his scent. Liam was confused at the sudden change in his date. He didn't know what to do next.

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Back at the shuttle, James was holding Jennifer tightly. Her crying had slowly died down, but he could feel the weight of her guilt pressing heavily on her soul. ~Try to take comfort in the ones you were able to help. The ones who are now free because of your efforts...~ Their mental communication was interrupted by a loud ~What was THAT???~

Jennifer jerked and looked up at James. Her questioning stare mirrored his own. "Uh-oh" they said in unison. ~Was that Liam???~ Jennifer asked.. The couple stared at one another in shock, their confusion compounded by the sudden flow of images now issuing from their friend. The abrupt realization hit them both at the same time

Tentatively James probed ~Liam?~ The implant could feel his inquiry being lost amongst the maelstrom of hormones flowing through the other man. ~Liam!~ James sent more forcefully, trying to sharply intrude and prevent the imminent event.

~Wha--?~ the younger man thought.

Out loud, James called, "Liam, could I speak with you for a minute?"

~No--not now!~ Liam snapped.

~YES NOW!~ Commander Christian insisted.

Liam shouted out loud, "What?!"

James stood and moved over to the shuttle and shouted back, "We have a potential security breach we need to discuss."

Jennifer turned and looked at him quizzically, "A security breach?"

He looked at her with a grin and answered, "Yeah, Rosemary's in particular."

Jen's mouth dropped open and she flushed scarlet and began to laugh. "Yes, I suppose that is a rather important breach of *security* to prevent."

Liam appeared from out of the bushes, looking very put out and uncomfortable. He trotted over to the shuttle and growled, "This had better be good."

James looked him dead in the eyes and then bodily threw him into the water. Liam shot up out of the surf, sputtering and cursing in languages that James had never even heard of, and then charged up after James. He threw a hard punch to James' face, and James deftly moved his hand up and caught the fist in mid-swing. "Liam, stop." Somehow, the quietly spoken words cut through his haze and he stood there, gasping for breath and listening. "Liam, what was going on back there shouldn't happen. Cool off."

"Why not?" he retorted. Though he didn't want to do so, he had to admit to himself that he probably knew the answer to his own question.

"Because she's very vulnerable right now and she may regret later what she would've done now. Whether or not it was intended, that would be taking advantage of her. I know you well enough to know that you
wouldn't want that."

Liam slumped to his knees, then moved to a seated position, knees pulled up and arms wrapped around them. "You're right. Blast it, you're right." He looked over to where Rosemary had stumbled out of the bushes and had walked back over to Jennifer. "But what do I do?"

James smiled and offered his hand. As Liam took it and smoothly rose to a standing position, James answered, "Win her heart, Liam. First and foremost, win her heart. Nothing else matters until you do." He lightly punched Liam in the shoulder. "C'mon!" he said. "Race you around the island!" Immediately, he turned and began to run. Liam followed close behind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

The gentle crashing of the waves along the shore brought peace to the two troubled women who sat barefoot in the surf. After many long minutes of silence and reflection, Rosemary found her voice. She stared at the whitecaps in the distance and shook her head. "I can't believe that I almost did that. I really, *really* can't believe that I almost did that÷"

Jennifer reached up and put a comforting hand on her friend's shoulder. She somehow managed to stifle the impish grin that threatened to erupt. "You've been through quite a lot recently÷and tonight. It's really understandable. You know, it is a normal reaction for a woman to seek release in a man÷" Rosemary blushed brightly at the comment, and Jennifer thought it best to change the subject. "We can discuss your options now, if you're ready." She ventured.

With a sigh of resignation , Rosemary replied, "I guess it's better than talking about what I almost did to poor Major Kincaid÷but not by much."

Jennifer couldn't restrain her giggle. "I doubt that he was complaining, Rosemary."

The other woman blushed even brighter than before. "I'm not even married to him!" She exclaimed. After a few deliberate breaths, she overcame her embarrassment and continued, "Ok, so what are my options--or do I even want to know?"

Jennifer raised her head so that she could feel the ocean spray. She couldn't look at her friend. "Well, your first option is to continue as-is, and I have absolutely no idea what it would take to turn this CVI into a fully-functional one. You would be sitting on a time bomb."

Rosemary took a moment to digest the information and then said, "Okay. Second option?"

The other doctor turned very deliberately and looked her friend in the eye. "Your second option would be to join with a group of humans and Taelons who are banding together to do whatever it takes to stop Zo'or's agenda on Earth."

A fire lit Rosemary's eyes at the mention of the Synod Leader's agenda. "Considering how... uncharitably... I feel towards Zo'or right now, I think that sounds like an excellent idea. If this can somehow stop Zo'or from doing to others what he did to me, it'll be worth it." After a brief moment, "Of course, that still doesn't say how I can keep from becoming a recipient of a complete CVI÷"

Jennifer looked up at the sky and then down at the sand. For a long time, she said nothing. Turning to her friend she said, "I want you to know that I'm putting my life in your hands here." She took a deep breath and stared intently at woman beside her. Very quietly, Jennifer spoke. "Ra'el and I have developed a CVI that does not have a motivational imperative...

Rosemary blinked and sat openmouthed. She blinked again and whispered, "It's been tested?!?"

Jennifer flashed a wicked grin. "Rosemary, you don't think I'd implant my husband with a functioning MI, now do you?"

A slightly embarrassed Rosemary blushed and replied, "Oh, no...Duh." Then the light of realization gleamed in her eyes. "This is great! Nobody could attack the implants the way they did before..." She looked back at her friend who was watching her with amusement. "I presume you have it tested on...others?" She asked. "You don't have to tell me who they are...if they even exist..."

Jennifer got a far-away look in her eyes and murmured, "There are others..." She shook her head, as if clearing away thoughts. "Ra'el has included a masking element so that even a full scan cannot detect the lack of the MI..."

Rosemary nodded. "Sensible."

Jennifer gazed at her friend. "If you are interested, this is what we can do. Ra'el will submit a request for your help on a top-secret assignment. The security of the project should require that you become fully implanted. Ra'el would then see to it that you received *his* version instead of Zo'or's." She dropped her head as shame rose fresh in her heart. In a whisper, Jennifer finished, "It would ensure that you would never have a Motivational Imperative÷"

Rosemary spoke softly to her friend. "I think I would like that. Very much. I have lost any desire to have my loyalty forced to the Taelons."

Jennifer met her friend's eyes once more. "The Taelons who wish to *earn* your trust will welcome you into our group..." With a small laugh she said, "You would be surprised to find out just how many support us...."

The other doctor grinned. "Is Zo'or annoying that many of his fellow Taelons?"

Jennifer laughed out loud. "You have NO idea." She said.

Rosemary gave a slight smile. "This would also solve certain problems."

"Problems?" her friend asked.

"Let me put it this way... there was certain stuff that I was researching that probably wasn't on the approved list, and I'm afraid that Companion Security found it while we were kidnapped."

"Hmm÷" Jennifer said. "I'm pretty sure that Ra'el can cover things for you. He works really hard to protect his own. What exactly *were* you researching?"

It was Rosemary's turn to laugh. "I was researching a way to prevent the CVI virus problem that cropped up. I came to the conclusion that we had to remove the MI..."

Jennifer giggled and shook her head. "Welcome to Ra'el's research team!!!"

Rosemary grinned wider. "Thanks."

Jennifer looked around behind her. "Hm. I think that James and Liam have finished their talk. Feel up to joining them over by the shuttle?"

Rosemary answered her friend by getting up and helping Jennifer to her feet. "I think we've had quite a night tonight. Some date this turned out to be." She said laughing. "Race you back to the shuttle!"

 

~~~~END~~~~~