Disclaimer: not mine

Chapter 6

Prompto couldn't help pacing as they waited for Hermione. He'd waited his whole life for her to be with him again and now he was terrified. He could feel her coming ever closer and couldn't help half panicking. Hermione was the first person to ever treat him like a real person, the first to love him, the first he had loved… arms wrapped around him and he turned, burying his head against Noct's shoulder. He felt his magic settle around him, reaching back and Noct's mind welcomed him, comforting him, letting him feel that Noctis was nervous too.

He felt Noct do something and then the door slid open and he took a deep breath before looking up. Hermione… she stepped in further and the door shut behind her. He looked at her, seeing the military uniform, wild curls tumbling down her back….warm brown eyes. "Mia," he reached for her and then she was there, the three of them hugging tightly, hearing her sob.

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Noctis held them both tight, feeling tears gathering in his eyes. Finally, they were all together again. It had been so hard to not simply access the station records and find everything there was to know on who she was now, but he had managed to hold back. They didn't have his advantages when it came to technology, it wouldn't be fair of him to do that. Though…he was tracking on Alfred Bester, he wanted lots of warning should the man return to the station and perhaps…he would get a lesson in why one did not anger a techno-mage.

"Welcome home," he whispered, pressing a kiss to her curls when he heard her sob.

He managed to shift them to Prom's couch, not the most comfortable thing in the world but it'd do. He was the tallest of them now by a bit. He'd been a smidge taller than Prompto on Eos but now he was inches taller and they were both taller than Hermione, though she wasn't short. He wrapped them in his arms and magic, loving the feeling of her magic responding eagerly to his, he'd missed it so much.

They sat quietly for over an hour, just soaking up the contact. Eventually Prompto sat up and wiped at his eyes, just looking between them, as if memorising everything he could take in.

"You're really here," he whispered.

Hermione offered a watery smile. "I'm here, sorry I'm the last. I looked for you on Earth Prom, I just couldn't find you."

Noctis stayed quiet even as Prompto winced slightly, looking down. He reached out and squeezed his hand, offering his support.

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"I could feel you too," he admitted softly. He went to the counter and picked up his pin, running his thumb over the cold metal before walking back and pressing it into her hand. "Even if you'd found me, you wouldn't have been allowed to see me."

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Hermione looked down at what Prompto had passed to her. She recognised it instantly and she forced back tears….and anger at Harry. Why Prompto? Hadn't he been through enough on Eos? She looked up at him, seeing the wariness…probably made worse by her own Earthforce uniform what with the usual attitude towards telepaths in the ranks. She stood up and pulled him into another hug before kissing him, feeling him slowly untense in her arms.

"I love you Prompto, no matter what. Even if you'd been a Narn, Minbari...or Vorlon," she told him firmly.

"Told you so," Noct grinned at them.

She looked at him then, taking in the casual clothing, but something hadn't felt quite right when they'd been hugging. He obviously saw something in her expression because he shrugged slightly.

"Every heard of a techno-mage?" he asked, and her eyes widened.

"On route, an intel package came in, said they were….oh," she whispered. They had arrived on Babylon 5 right when she'd sensed their reunion, but it had also said they'd left so she hadn't paid it much mind other than her interest in them apparently using technology like magic. "What does that mean for you?" she asked, and then she saw the pained grimace on Prompto's face. "What?" she demanded.

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Noctis bit back a sigh at Prom's expression, knowing why it was there. He pulled his shirt off, hearing her gasp. He didn't need Prompto's skills to know what she was thinking. "I'm fine Hermione, promise. Like I told Prom, techno-mages tend to live longer than an normal member of whatever species we come from. It's not like what was done to him," he explained, holding still as she gently touched his skin and implants. Okay, so now all he wanted was for the three of them to go make use of the bed…except they wouldn't fit. Bigger quarters were a must!

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Hermione lay on her bed trying to sleep since she started work in the morning. She really shouldn't have stayed with them so long but none of them had wanted to part, despite being able to sense each other and only being a few decks apart. Her mind was just spinning with everything she had learned. Seeing Noctis' body riddle with implants had terrified her, bringing up the memories of Prompto and his many siblings, the surgeries and gradual decline in health. She hoped she never met Alfred Bester or else the man was getting transfigured into something small and very squishy! She'd had good parents, Noctis may be an orphan but he'd had his order, Prompto had been so isolated, unwanted by his own Dad. Not that Prompto seemed to like the man, and for more than his ignoring his existence. Once again, Prompto was the only one of them to have siblings, but he'd never met either his younger brother or sister.

She wondered what was coming that Harry had placed them where he had. Noctis had spoken briefly of an ancient enemy that was beginning to move again, was that why? They would have to look into that more. There were tensions all over between various species, brush fires that could become so much worse with a small nudge. The Centauri and Narn were practically at war already. The Emperor was old and rumoured to be in ill health, a lot would depend on his heir, would they seek war or peace?

Pooling her and Prompto's resources, they could get large quarters for the three of them easily, but how would they explain it? They were trying to work out a way for her to be able to claim she knew Noctis but it wouldn't be easy. Her life was too well recorded, so was Prompto's which was why they weren't trying. She would just have to 'meet' him through Noctis. But it meant they'd have to hold off on combined quarters. Noctis was going to make sure computer logs and security footage would not record them spending time in each other's quarters. She could have Noctis visibly living with her easily enough since he now had a legal identity. But Prompto? Psi Corps would never agree to Prompto cohabiting with two 'mundanes'. Not that they'd ever let the Corps hurt Prompto and she felt sorry for anyone who tried.

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John watched as the new lieutenant took her station, familiarising herself with everything. He understood Susan's comment on feeling old as he watched her. She looked to be of age with their new resident telepath and techno-mage.

"Captain," she called, surprising him.

"What is it lieutenant?" he asked.

"Something on sensors…it's a ship. It is moving very slowly, barely registering any power."

"Visual?" he asked, watching as it appeared, his eyes widening in excitement. "Incredible," he murmured.

"Captain?"

"That is an old earth sleeper ship, from before we had access to jump technology."

"I'm picking up a message," she paused to listen. "It appears to be automated and identifies the USS Copernicus."

"Send out maintenance bots to bring her in. if the powers low then the crew is at risk of their pods failing."

"Only picking up one life sign."

"Cryo could be interfering. Sheridan to Ivanova."

"Go ahead Captain."

"Meet me in in the docking bay with Mr Garibaldi and Dr Franklin."

"On our way."

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Michael watched the footage with a frown, listening to the Lurker as he called out in his sleep.

"Incoming! Incoming! Incoming! INCOMING!"

"How long has he been like that?" he asked.

"Couple hours now," Hanson told him, obviously not happy about it.

"To the walls. Get to the walls!"

"Damn Lurkers. We oughta space all of them."

"Hanson?" he asked without taking his eyes from the image.

"Oh God. Stop them. Incoming."

"Were you in the war?"

"No, I missed it," Hanson sounded confused and Michael leant back in his chair.

"He didn't," he told him.

"How do you know?"

"I've had that same dream," he admitted, getting up to go and wake Amis only to have his link beep with a call from Ivanova.

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Prompto looked up, able to sense the very high levels of anxiety and terror, spotting the Lurker as he rushed into the Zócalo. The man was rambling and then he began screaming and Prompto approached, hands up, talking softly, trying to calm him. "Easy, you're alright. Just try and take deep breaths. Do you need medical help?" he asked as the crowds backed away, not surprising with a Lurker and telepath there.

He didn't think the man was injured, he was moving well and there was no blood. Ill perhaps, but it seemed more than that.

"What's going on Be, Argent?" Chief Garibaldi asked as he joined him. It was nice of them to try and remember to use his Mother's name.

"I'm not sure, he is highly agitated. I could sense his distress before he even arrived, without scanning. He started screaming but I don't believe he's injured."

"Amis? It's Garibaldi, you need to calm down and tell me what's wrong."

"It's here! They brought it on board. We're all gonna die!"

"What's here?"

"It! The Soldier of Darkness," he broke down sobbing and Garibaldi pulled him to his feet, moving to support him.

"Can I help?"

"Come on."

Prompto followed him back to the Security offices, watching as the Chief settled the other man onto a bunk to sleep.

"Have you heard about the ship we pulled in?" he asked when they were in his office.

"The sleeper ship? I think the whole station knows about that."

Garibaldi stared at him, obviously considering something before motioning him to one of the monitors. "Hope you're not squeamish," he offered, and Prom nodded, so he activated it. "According to Franklin he died in cryo, murdered. Something removed all of his organs and they weren't on the ship."

"He looks like a mummy," he grimaced.

"And his cryo tube was working."

"What are you getting at?"

"There's only one survivor, the dead man's wife. If she agrees, I was hoping you might scan her, see if she knows anything about what happened."

"Chief, we've got a body in Downbelow," a man entered the office.

"Murder?"

The Guard glanced at Prompto but Garibaldi motioned for him to answer his question.

"It looks like the body from the ship Chief."

Garibaldi frowned and Prompto felt a sinking sensation, glancing at the sleeping Lurker on the monitor. "Do we know when it happened?"

"About twenty minutes or so."

They exchanged a look, that was right when Amis had gone nuts. That couldn't be a coincidence.

"Okay, check where Mariah Cirrus was at the time just to be sure. I'll get Franklin to expedite an autopsy."

"Do you think he's mentally competent enough to consent to a scan?" Prompto asked, seeing the guard stiffen.

"He's sane," Garibaldi answered, "as much as anyone who fought the war. You think he's right and something from the war was on the ship?"

"Something's killed at least two people in an odd way and he seems to know something but is too distressed to pass that knowledge on coherently."

"I'll talk to the Captain. For now, you should probably get back to your quarters, the less people wandering about the better till we work out what's going on."

"Of course," Prompto nodded and left, reaching for Noct and Hermione to pass on what he knew, feeling Noctis alarm when he gave the name the Lurker...Amis had used.

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"I don't feel comfortable asking someone so young to do this," John admitted to Michael who nodded.

"Yeah, I get that. But he's a P9 and fully trained."

John nodded and leant back in his seat. "Alright, have Dr Franklin explain to Mrs Cirrus what a scan is and see if she'll agree. You seem to be building a rapport with Amis, so you can ask him. If either or both agree I think for Mr Argent's sake we should see if Noctis can be there. We need to find this thing before it can kill anyone else." Once Michael left, John pulled up all of the records on Amis' old unit and that so-called lifeless moon they had been stationed to, as well as the logs of where the Copernicus had been.

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Prompto sat across from the older man, keeping his body language relaxed and open, sensing his nervousness. His eyes flicked to Noctis who smiled at him. "For the record, do you Amis Dwight, agree to a telepathic scan in order to help you recall the events of your teams deaths and how they may be linked to current events?" he asked, drawing Amis' attention back to him.

"Yes, I do."

"I won't be deep scanning you," he assured him. "There may be a little discomfort but there shouldn't be any pain. If you feel any I will stop immediately. If at any time you want me to stop, just say so."

Amis nodded shakily, glancing at Noctis again.

"He's just here as a witness and to help carry me out of here if I wear myself out," he pouted slightly and that got a small laugh from the ex-soldier, which had been his aim. The more relaxed he was the better. "Can you tell me what happened?"

"We set up camp in old ruins of some kind. As far as we knew, it…it was a dead world. It came in the night, during a storm. We heard nothing, saw nothing...It came right through the walls, like a hot wind. The first man died, just meters from me - never even screamed. We ran... we ran. For a second, I thought I lost it, and then I saw it. Standing in the middle of a ball of lightning. It looked like it had come straight from hell."

As he spoke, Prompto slipped into his mind, seeing the images, hearing, smelling…he saw it, fighting to not pull back and risk hurting either of them with too sudden a stop to the scan. There was something….he grimaced and turned his full attention to it, even as he reached for Noct, showing him everything. That thing was linked to Amis! No wonder he'd never recovered…how he knew it was onboard…the poor man. Blocking someone else's mind for them was extremely difficult, not something a P9 could usually do, but they weren't linked to a witch skilled in the mind arts and he was. The three of them worked to build up a wall in Amis' mind, keeping the creature from harming him further.

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Noctis ran around the corner, dressed in his robes for the first time since his original meeting with the Captain, staff clutched in his hand. He saw the security forces firing on something they couldn't quite see so he ran a hand over his eyes, activating the cybernetic contact lenses that allowed him to see more than humanly possible. He caught the energy readings of the Soldier and went on the attack. He knew it was part of the ancient enemy and it had to be destroyed before it could kill anyone else.

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Hermione gently cleaned the burn on Noctis' shoulder while Prompto slept beside them, worn out from the scan and worry over the fight. "You're lucky you don't have a concussion," she chided gently.

"It was me or the Captain and I heal faster," he shrugged with his good shoulder.

She kissed the wound as their magic gently healed it now that it was clean and he twisted around, kissing her.

"I'm okay and it's dead. Everyone is safe," he promised.

"For now," she countered and he chuckled.

"For now," he agreed.

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Prompto kissed her, hands running over smooth skin even as her hands ran through his hair. After yesterday, he needed this so badly. She was still able to just know what he needed and it made him love her even more. He felt bad that Noct was out on the couch but he was right, his bed wasn't big enough for three. He missed her having blue eyes, even if Hermione had admitted that she looked more like her original self now than she had on Eos.

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"Isogi-san," Talia smiled at the man already in the room, and he smiled back at her, approaching to take her gloved hand.

"TaIia, it's been too Iong. What did you think of my NeoMars proposal?" he asked cheerfully, and she shook her head.

"Like aII your proposals: too progressive, too risky and too costly in the short run….But if you can make it happen…"

"I must make it happen," he told her passionately, "FutureCorp has to expand beyond Earth, and Mars is the first step." He was always so passionate about his work, a cany businessman and yet compassionate.

"The Senate won't Iike it, and the Mars Conglomerate will try to bury you," she warned, not that she thought he didn't know it.

"We're prepared for that. Now I need only convince Mars to share the risk."

"And if they won't?"

"Then their path to freedom may well be drenched with innocent blood…and a long-held dream of mine will die."

TBC….