The Fire Still Burns
Chapter 4

Authors note
I've been trying to think of another way to do this. I really don't want to lose a... well "character" like the Bio-Weapon but as we all know it must be killed. So I re-wrote this chapter about four times before finally settling on this outcome. Also looking back on the last to chapters it looks like Jenny's under gone some what of a character-bypass, I'm going to try and change that

David knew he had to take action. Now. 'Commander, lock down every ship on the planet. Contact Shock'na Arann, get her to set up a blockade. She should keep an eye on her long range sensors for a Hand ship but not try anything. When that's done get here with your best men. We'll work out our next move then.'

'Already done, this isn't my first major disaster.' Stoney grinned before looking away for a moment. 'This isn't good, I just got a report about nine missing people, four of them from my security forces. All last night and in a line that leads right to the spaceport.'

David hung his head. 'Wonderful, can this get any worse?'

'Yes, we've only found parts of them.' Stoney said. 'With Lutran dead you're the ranking Ranger on planet. I'll get the report to you in person.'

Great now David was in a position of authority for this sector, with a command structure so murky that it looked like Pak'ma'ra bath water. 'Na'Feel, Malcolm. I need you both on the bridge, now. Things are not looking good.'

'On my way Captain.' Malcolm responded.

From another speaker there was the sound of heavy machinery collapsing. 'Sprockets!' Na'Feel shouted David guessed something she was working on broke. 'We'll be right there.'

' "We'll"?' He asked himself before turning around to check on Dulann. 'How is he?' no one answered

At first David thought it was just that they didn't think he was talking to them, he opened his mouth to ask again but the words died in his mouth. Both Sarah and Kit were frozen in place, crouched around Dulann. 'Oh give me a brake.. .'

'That's exactly what this is.' A familiar English voice came from his captain's chair. He spun around face to face with the technomage

'Galen, what have you done this time?'

The black cloaked man stood up. 'Made absolutely sure no one can spy on us. You have yet another problem David Martell.'

'I wasn't going to mention her.'

The Technomage shook his head. 'This has nothing to do with my little joke. The thing that killed your friend, I've been watching it. It's more dangerous than you can imagine.'

'I can imagine pretty dark, right now I'm imaging doing it to you.' He pointed at Dulann. 'Is this your fault?'

'No it's just proven something to me. That this creature's telepathic...'

'Creature? What creature?'

Galen shook his head and then talked in a very quiet voice. 'David, I'm sorry. You're being hunted by one of the most dangerous creatures ever created. It's telepathic and a perfect killing machine. Built genetically from the ground up to kill anything that moves. If it reads your mind and relays what you know about me, what I've told you... It could be very bad. For all of us.'

'In other words you've messed up. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse. So your grand plan now is what?'

'Destroy this ship and all on board. Now. It will have to look like an accident, so your power core overloading is the best bet.'

David knew what that would do. 'The explosion would take out the colony. Thousands of people because you made a mistake?'

'It wasn't my mistake. They shouldn't have sent it, it's not exactly built for stealth. More mass murder and chaos. It was designed to kill whole populations.'

David shook his head; 'I'm going to have to stop you.' He reached for his pike and the technomage's staff glowed. As it did David got a bad static shock from the air around him.

David flinched away and got another shock from nothing but air. The shocks got worse the more he tried to move. 'I'm really am sorry David, I've no choice. Goodbye' Desperately he threw himself at Galen, only to be was sent backwards by a massive shock.

Galen shook his head and walked to the door. David had been throw backwards and was pinned by even more shocks to the floor 'We can stop them. Don't...'

'Even if you stop it, they will still be out there. With the knowledge of our existence. This is our last hope.' He opened the door with a familiar kick to the bulk head. It slid open but before he could leave something sent him flying backwards

The blonde woman on the other side of the door smiled as she lowered her leg. 'Hi, what you doing?'

Galen looked up from the control console he was sprawled across. 'How...? No, this is a time dilation field. There is no physical way you can get inside it.'

'I don't know how you turned everyone into statues but it didn't work on me.' She stepped into the bridge. 'So Hi. I'm Jenny and whatever you did to my friends I want you undo it.'

'Don't let him...' David started to warn her but Galen's staff glowed again and a static shock hit her.

David watched as Galen struggled to his feet, almost holding himself up with his staff. 'I'm sorry I have to do this.' he said, dragging himself across the bridge. 'Who ever you are this is nothing to do with you.'

The woman struggled against her own static field, each time she tried Galen flinched.

'Keep fighting.' David shouted and tried to find his feet. However the Technomage was doing all this he was powering it from something inside him. Keeping this time field up and two force fields was taking a lot out of Galen. Too much.' Jenny, fighting shocks, stepped into the doorway. Blocking Galen's way out, not that it mattered. Galen was breathing like a man after a five mile run, bent over his staff like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Slowly his grip slipped and fell to his knees.

It was then David heard it, it sounded like a recording with the power low. 'What is going on?' He looked around and it was Sarah, she was moving incredibly slowly.

Galen slid to the floor, eyes sliding shut as the effort was too much for him. Like an elastic band snapping everything returned to normal. The shocks stopped and David made it back to his feet. 'Thank you.' He nodded to Jenny. 'David Martell.'

'Jenny. I still don't know what he did or who he is.'

'Same here.' Kit mentioned. 'And isn't she the one who killed what's-their-name?'

'Hey.' She half shouted 'I don't kill people.'

David took the Technomage's staff from him. 'Galen here warned me about something killing but didn't know about her. This is a bad day.

'Alright.' He continued, 'lets start from the top. Galen here is a Technomage. He's here to warn me that something's trying to kill us all, the same something that's comatose Dulann and killed Lutran.'

Na'Feel ran on to the bridge. 'Hey, one moment I was walking next to you and then you vanished.' she said to the other woman

Jenny nodded. 'This guy did something, made you freeze. It didn't work on me. I don't know why but I helped David stop him do whatever he did.'

'Na'Feel I want you to seal the bridge off and then the ship.' David told her. 'We need Dulann awake. Kit, Sara. You keep trying to snap him out of it. Jenny; we'll see what we can get out of Galen here.'

Jenny was actually enjoying this. Not knowing what was happening, learning things about people. It was almost as fun as running. Between them they picked up the strange man in the big black cloak and dropped him into a chair. She took his staff and had a look at it.

David shook the man for a moment before slapping him, hard. Waking him up. 'Ahh good now it's our turn.'

'No.' he croaked and reached for Jenny, at least that's what she thought at first. The metal staff jumped in her hand but not enough to brake her grip on it.

'Ah, ah.' David pushed his hand away and the pull stopped. 'Now you're going to tell us about this Hand and just what they sent here.'

'I can't tell you that, don't you understand? It's telepathic, it can pluck whatever I tell you from your minds. I'd be bringing the full power of the Hand down on us.'

Jenny wasn't one to know the signs of madness, but she knew hearing voices was one of them. So when, just after the strange bald man had finished talking, she heard Dulann. 'holding, can't read... protect you all...'

The stranger was continuing to spin threats 'Hang on, you hear that.'

'Hear what?' the other human woman in the room asked

Jenny listened as hard as she could but it wasn't the right sense 'Dulann. He's telepathic right, like this thing. I don't know about me but I just heard him. He said he's holding but holding...' She trailed off, an idea coming to her. 'He's holding it off. Dulann's fighting it now, giving us a chance to find it.'

'And kill it? the other woman supplied. 'Sounds like a plan.' Jenny didn't like the idea of killing anything but she kept that to herself.

The bald man frowned at her. 'It would need a powerful telepath to do that, or very skilled one, but it can be done.'

'Especially with help.' David looked up. 'The ghosts.'

'The what?' Jenny asked

Na'Feel answered. 'The Captain thinks the last crew is still haunting the ship. Dulann's supposedly contacted them before.' Jenny looked around, at the walls and floor

Out of nowhere a radio cracked. Just about everyone jumped at that. 'Captain, this is Firell. I've just found Tafeek in the corridor. Captain, his lower half's been eaten. I think something's here with us.' as the woman on the other end finished a human came in to the bridge, he had a short beard and looked at her

'Well it's defiantly on board. Na'Feel, seal the ship.' He began giving orders. 'Sarah, break out the PPG's we're going hunting.' The human woman nodded and jumped to work. He turned to the newcomer. 'Malcolm. You and I are going no a monster hunt. As soon as Galen here tells how to find this thing.'

'It's designed to be able to hide. In plain sight. Do you people know how finite your minds truly are.' Galen said

'Speak for yourself' Jenny smiled as she whispered.

'The weapon is so horrible, so vile that every inch of your being will rebel against it. If you are going to hunt it, trust your training as a Ranger. Some legends of these things survived and the Shadows remembered how useful they were. It all depends on how good you were at resisting fear.'

'What do I do?' Jenny asked

'I still don't know you, stay here with Na'Feel and keep an eye on our other guest. Then I'll know if I can trust you.' Sarah returned to his side, with three guns. David took one of them and the one he'd called Malcolm took another. 'It's not that big a ship. If Dulann can hold it off for long enough we've won. Na'Feel keep an eye on everyone, I'll send a healer up if I see one. Can't risk letting this thing know Dulann is.'

The three of them left the room and Jenny looked around. 'Things went well. Mind filling me in on the whole thing?'

'The whole thing? That's a long and difficult story.' Galen smiled at her.

Galen felt much stronger, a time field followed by two mass static traps. That was draining, but he always did throw too much into his work. Ahh life lessons, always the best teachers.

Speaking of life lessons the young, impossibly blonde, woman was still chipper. Smiling away and poking her head, often literally, into holes in the bulkhead. 'I really want to know; What's happening? and who are these Hand?'

They needed to know just how dangerous this was, With luck they'd understand what he had to do to make sure that their weapon was destroyed 'The Hand, oh if they have any other name it's lost in the depths of time itself. Unlike the Shadows, who's true name is unpronounceable, theirs is just gone. It's said they were a force of pure chaos. Beyond good or evil. They are from a time before those ideas and that is all that is known of them. They warred against the scattering of races that lived back then and won most.'

'Then they were defeated. Cast out of this universe and into the nothingness outside, now they return bringing chaos and destruction.'

'If they were so powerful, how did they lose?' The Narn woman, Na'Feel, asked, looking up from the telepath blocking the Bio-Weapon.

Galen hung his head. 'A people older. A people that represented order. Structure opposed to chance. Everything in the universe happens to a pattern. A pattern that no mortal can see in it's entirety A pattern woven by the Time Lords.'

The Narn jumped back with a startled shout, the young human, Jenny, just frowned. 'But they're gone now.' she said.

'Yes, but their pattern continues. They still can't help us. I'm surprised you know about them.' Humans never really accepted the myth of the Time Lords. Strange given the rumoured interaction. The fact this spoiled child knew about them... she had walked through a time field... She was human wasn't she?

No she was telepathic, still holding his staff. That gave him a link, even with his mental shields up. He reached out through that connection and saw it. An alien mind, he didn't walk through the thoughts of people often but he could tell. There was something in there. Ideas, thought, everything she saw she understood instantly. It wasn't knowledge, or wisdom. She was too young for both. It was pure untapped intelligence. Thoughts moving so fast he couldn't follow them in the maze of firing neurones sparking around her head.

'Who are you?' he asked aloud. She just blinked at him and he got a flash of something.

A man, tall and in a old earth brown pinstripe suit. He was rake thin with a mop of untamed hair on top and he looked sad. Staring off into empty air, lost in memories. Then another flash, she was dying in his arms and he was grieving. Rocking her as if he knew she would come back. Then it was gone.

'I'm Jenny.' She said as if that answered all of the questions he had. It didn't, by a long way. It was right then that the least wanted thing happened.

The door to the bridge opened. He was facing it and still he almost had to force himself to notice. Galen couldn't see it but he could feel something was in the door frame. The technomage could literally sense his mind recoiling from it, like a sore broken tooth half of his mind screamed at him and the other half refused to acknowledge it's existence.

Na'Feel bit back a curse; 'By the Book of G'Kar, it's here!' She scrambled over the bridge to the weapons cabinet. 'Where is it?'

'My staff!' Galen shouted at the girl who was looking, dumbfounded, to one side of the door.

She whispered something. He couldn't make it but that didn't matter.

'Give me my staff, we still have a chance!' he hissed urgently.

'But it's beautiful.' Jenny said, Galen had to blink hard to figure out that's what she had said before.

'What?' Na'Feel gasped

Jenny just stepped towards what she was looking at. With her free hand she reached out and touched... Galen's mind rebelled at what she was doing. This was the most devastating creature in the history of civilisation and she was treating it like a pet. 'You're fantastic... Oh, look at those teeth, just beautiful. Almost perfect.' She openly admired the monster.

Galen touched the connection between them again and, only for an instant, saw what she did and how she saw it. In all its vile, vicious, glory. Somehow this child could see how it was nothing more than an animal. A creature of habit even if it was never created by nature. No more malevolent than a sword or a spear, it carried no malice or hate. Only instinct coded right down in its DNA.

Jenny's own instinct saw that, she even felt a connection to it. As if it held some meaning to her past.

Galen almost missed the warning signs, so caught up in the moment of clarity. Fortunately Jenny, the target, didn't. The creature's whole body shook, as if dredging something from the bottom of it's gut. Faster than anyone could react it spat a thick mass the short distance at Jenny. Somehow she knew it was coming, he could see that much but not how she did it.

Leaning to one side as only a young girl or a true contortionist could Jenny dodged the venom. 'No, you don't have to do this...' she tried to reason with it. It was pointless, you can't reason with a bullet but Galen didn't dare share that thought with her. Distracting her now would be her death.

Two PPG rounds struck the Bio-Weapon, flash burning flesh and slime. By moving Jenny had given Na'Feel a clear shot. Another two and through Jenny Galen could tell one had gone wide. The room filled with with a hiss and the acid smell of rancid, burnt, meat

Jenny shouted for Na'Feel to stop but the Narn Ranger didn't. She fired round after round. Galen knew that in spite of herself Jenny was going to try and save the creature and moved. Throwing himself at the girl, stopping her from doing the same thing in front of the Bio-Weapon, he took her to the ground.

'It wouldn't return the favour.' He whispered as finally the Narn stopped firing. The stench on the bridge was almost unbearable and it was dead.

Fearless Jenny threw him off and ran for the carcass's side. 'You didn't have to kill it.' she growled, as if personally offended.

Now that it was dead Galen could see it, not that he wanted to. It looked like someone had crossed an octopus with a wolf and a spider and then covered it in green, dripping, puss. There were also the eyes of a fly and what looked like foot long talons and yard long teeth.

'It was it or us.' Na'Feel declared, PPG still pointed at the steaming corpse. 'What are you so upset about, I just saved your life.'

'By killing something?' Jenny asked in a hollow voice.

End Chapter 4

Authors note.

I promised several reviewers that I wouldn't make Jenny some sort of Doctor-light character, so this Chapter I've come close to braking that promise. But I haven't broken it yet. If she suddenly started spewing exposition and then astonishingly pulled a plan out of her hair using macgyver like wisdom, a toothbrush and a sonic screwdriver she built out of a kettle and a peace of string I might be accused of Doctor like behaviour.