She walked into her living quarters, feeling tired. Though, once she got into bed she found that she couldn't sleep. She got up from her bed and switched on the lights. For a few moments, she sat on the bed, surveying her rather untidy room. Cleaning usually made me want to sleep, she thought, so she decided that was the best thing to do at the moment. She casually sauntered over to one of her many disoriented desks. Drawers were open, papers strewn everywhere, and pens and pencils were scattered across the once clean desk. Hmmm, she thought, must have gotten knocked around during the attack.
Her name was Sigrid Undset. She was currently stationed on the NCV Verybyl. She and the 23 other people on board had suffered an attack from the bentha forces, which they'd been fighting for over 20 years. The bentha were responsible for the annihilation of countless intelligent races through out the known galaxy, including the human race. Sigrid had only been there for 7 of those years, but was now a top agent of the Interstellar Stealth Operations Force (ISO-Force) and second in command of the Verybyl.
They had been under attack just earlier that evening by a bentha vessel. They had been in the middle of a mission to retrieve tactical information on a construction yard just on the rim of bentha territory that ISO-Force had been contemplating their own attack on. They got the necessary information, however, they were apparently detected just after leaving, and the bentha dispatched two attack crafts. The Verybyl had taken heavy fire, but in the end the attack crafts were no match for it. The Verybyl was a dreadnought, fitted with the latest technologies and superfluous offensive and defensive systems. It was, in fact, one of the most sleuth tactical vessels out of ISO-Force.
She started gathering the jumbled papers from the desktop and began to cram them into the nearest open drawer. Yet something caught her attention on the opposite side of the desk. A very large drawer that was usually locked was wide open. She paused. As she finished shoving the rest of the papers into a drawer, she walked nervously over to the open drawer that had seized her attention. She cautiously looked into the drawer and put her hands over her mouth. Her heart began to beat rapidly against her chest as she pulled out a large box. She set the box on her bed and gawked at it, thunderstruck. She could feel her hands tremble wildly with anticipation as she fumbled with the lid. This was the box she'd brought back from Earth after it had been destroyed seventeen years ago. Luckily, she'd escaped in time before she, too, was destroyed by the Bentha.
She pulled off the lid and glanced at the objects inside, then pulled out three slightly singed photographs. The first was a picture of she and her friends from school. Her tired eyes welled up with tears as she surveyed the picture. The next picture was of her and Matthew (as she had called him then), or Demarian, his real name, and her current boyfriend. She closed her eyes. A scene flashed across them, it was of the day that she left Earth.

Seventeen years before.

She strode jubilantly out of her classroom towards a bench on campus. She glanced casually to her left and did a double take. There was a glowing figure standing in the alleyway. It stood there for a moment, glanced around (obviously not seeing her, and pressing something on its wrist). She saw the creature slowly morph into a human form right before her eyes. It was Matthew, one of her best friends. He spotted her. She held her breath. The expression on his face went from relief to fear. She turned around, pretending she hadn't seen him and began to walk away, very quickly.
"Ashley, I can explain," said Matthew, catching up to her.
"No, it's alright, no need to explain," she said nervously and continued to walk, gradually getting faster. Matthew kept up with her.
"Ashley, stop," he said, it sounded more like a command than a request, but instinctively, she stopped. It felt as if her feet were glued to the ground beneath her. She didn't turn around, for she could do nothing except stand there feeling hopeless. She felt Matthew's hand curl around her shoulder, she felt tense.
"Come with me," he said, leading her to the ally way. She gulped. She didn't feel she had much of a choice.
"What's going on!?" she whispered wildly.
"Ashley, this isn't easy to tell you. I really wish you hadn't seen that," he began. Suddenly she realized that his face looked different. He looked older. He was always known to act older than fifteen, but now he looked it, "I am an alien."
She relaxed. He has to be kidding me, she thought. "An Alien?" she repeated wryly, raising an eyebrow.
"I know you don't believe me. I was sent here on an undercover mission. There is a war, Ashley, and our enemies, the bentha have taken refuge here on Earth. The Interstellar Stealth Operation Force is attempting to get them off this planet before it is destroyed."
"Dude, you've gone all out on this one, huh?" she laughed, folding her arms, "alright, the joke is up, but I do have one question. How on Earth did you pull that transformation?"
"No, this isn't a joke," he said fiercely, "This isn't my real form." He pressed something on his wrist again and in the blink of an eye, Matthew was gone. In his place stood a creature. It was about 3 feet tall, completely bald, with a slit for a mouth and large black eyes.
She gasped, recoiling backwards against the wall of the ally.
The creature transformed back into Matthew.
"That is my real form," he said, "and my real name is Demarian."
That's when she began to believe him. He went on to explain how humans were ignorant, self-centered creatures, full of malice and arrogant dignity. At least, that was his opinion of them before he met her. He told her that she had the most fascinating skeletal structure he had ever seen. She hadn't been sure whether to take that as an insult or a compliment. He also said that she had opened his eyes to real human emotions; love, happiness, fulfillment.
"Do you understand what I'm trying to say?" said Demarian, blushing.
"Well, you have feelings for me," she said, questionably.
"Yes, that is what I am telling you. I love you."
She was speechless. She could feel her cheeks turning red. She smiled. " love me?" she choked.
He smiled and was about to answer when they heard a loud ringing noise. Th' Tolimnes reached into his pocket and pulled out an ordinary cell phone. He snapped it open. "Yes?" He answered professionally. Sigrid could hear a muffled voice coming from the receiver. Th' Tolimnes' eyes widened. "What?" he said, as if in shock, "Right now? Okay," he paused, listening intently, "Alright, meet me at the high school," he hung up the phone.
"What's up?"
"Ashley, if I were to tell you that the Earth was going to be destroyed in 3 hours and I needed to get off the planet right now, what would you say?"
"What do you mean? I guess I wouldn't know what to say," she said suspiciously.
"Well, what if I asked you to come with me?" he looked desperate for an answer.
"Is the Earth really going to be destroyed?!" she asked.
"Yes, yes. The Earth is going to be destroyed, will you come with me?"
She paused.
"I need an answer, Ashley," he said desperately.
"Yes." she answered.

...The rest was history.
Sigrid's hands trembled even more violently as she looked at the third photo. It was of her mother and she smiling happily in front of their house. She dropped the photos and fell to her knees. She put her hands over her face and wept for a long time. All those memories had suddenly come flooding sadistically back to her. After a while, she wiped her eyes and pulled herself back together. My emotions are running away with me, she thought, that is not acceptable. It mustn't happen again. She had forced herself to adapt to the alien way of life, seeing as she was the only human left in the entire known galaxy. She collected the pictures of her broken memory from the floor and placed them next to the box. She was slightly fearful of what she might pull out next. She took a few deep breaths and slowly reached back into the box. She was startled when she felt something rather large and squishy. She pulled it out and laughed out loud. Though its fur was slightly faded and its fluff rather flat, she recognized it immediately. It was her stuffed bear she'd had since childhood. Most of her friends called it the germ-infested bear because they knew she rarely washed it. Yet she more commonly called it Grandpa Bear.
She buried her slightly red face in the bear's fur and closed her eyes. This, she thought, was one of my happier memories of life on Earth.
She placed the bear on her pillow and turned back to the box. Next, she pulled out a crumpled, oddly folded, charred piece of paper. Her curiosity grew as she carefully unfolded it, then realized that it was a note her best friend had given her the day that she had left Earth with Demarian. She glanced at it. It read:

SIG! Hey American! Haha! Hey, are ya ready for the concert? Only 2 more days! AHH! Remember! We're going full out! Alrighty! Peace!

- Jen/Canadian Bacon

She giggled once she finished reading the note. Her best friend since third grade was Canadian and they had an ongoing joke about it! They had also gotten tickets to a concert that both of them had been looking forward to for months. It's amazing how seventeen years can make you forget, she thought sadly. It pained her to think that she had almost forgotten how much she loved music. She held the note for a while, reading it over and over again, as if to take in the memories. She set down the note and pulled out two more items from the box. The first was an old portable CD player. She looked at it in amazement. She popped open the slightly melted lid. There was nothing inside. Her amazement turned to curiosity as she snapped off the battery cover. She found the batteries covered in a powdery dust, the acid that had leaked from them. No doubt they no longer work, she thought. She glanced over at the other item she had taken from the box. It was a large black case that had a zipper on the side. She smiled; it was her extremely large collection of CD's. Slowly, she unzipped the case and took out the first CD. It was Avril Lavigne's Under My Skin CD. She beamed. Of all the things she had pulled out of that would-be infamous box, that was definitely her favorite.
She set down the CD player. There was only one item left in the box now. At first glance it appeared to be an old rag, but when she picked it up she saw that it was an old T-shirt of her Mother's. It had the name of her Mom's favorite band, Kansas, and the year 1979 on it. Once again, her eyes began to tear. The very thought of her mother was painful.
She got to her feet and took a deep breath. She grabbed the now empty box and took it to her closet. Then she placed all the items on her desk and smiled proudly. She sighed and turned off her light. It somehow felt like she had found pieces of her soul when she opened that box. She slept well that night, feeling more complete.

She woke up rather groggy after sleeping for no more than five hours. It had been an early morning. As her tired eyes had opened in her bed, she'd had the view of framework outside her window just above her bed, the starry sky just beyond it. They had docked with one of the primary ISO-Force bases. Judging by the short time period it had taken, she presumed it was one of the two just inside of Novae Command territory. She showered and put on a uniform; ordinarily, she'd just throw on something comfortable, but since they were docked, she'd no doubt have to "dress appropriately". She stood in front of a mirror for practically half an hour doing her hair, only to leave it hanging down, jet black and very thin and straight. She straightened the wrinkles out of her thick, cotton-like uniform, dark blue as it was and always reminding her of the kind of uniforms that the German Nazis used to wear. She kind of liked the nice, tight feel of it as she wore it, though; she liked the authority it gave her. She sighed, however, taking one last glance at herself in the mirror. She'd always been so not just short-small, but small in the chest area. She had a big nose, small, thin lips, and when she got nervous, which was usually all the time, her voice would crack more often than an escaped mental patient. She often hated her life. But she was glad to have a great guy like Demarian who accepted her. She felt he was her blessing, her one gift in it was enough to keep her happy.
She left and found her way up one level in the ship to Demarian's quarters. They'd have slept together if they could. Unfortunately, ISO- Force had never been too keen on the Captains of their spy vessels sleeping with their first officers, at least, not while on assignment. She'd walked by a numerous amount of station officers on her way, realizing Demarian must have ordered them aboard from the station for repair after yesterday's attack. Every now and then, she'd salute one with the standard right arm out across the face, fist clenched, and bow. Most of them were thremosian, the aliens that earth had been most familiar with as the "grays". The others were either azadi or vatrilicon, the only other two races in the Novae Command Alliances. The azadi were an insect race that Sigrid had always thought looked a lot like preying mantises with wings, fingers, and glossy black scales. The vatrilicons were tall humanoids, aquatic mammals with icy-blue skin and long, thick tentacles. They were usually much taller than she was.
She buzzed Demarian three times when she got to his quarters, but no one answered. She decided to try the bridge.
The bridge was the only place she'd been all morning besides her quarters that wasn't bustling with people she didn't know. The spy vessel that the Verybyl was, acceptance to the bridge required at least a Class Two-clearance level. In fact, there was only one person on the bridge when she got there, and that was Th'Loptious, the Chief Tactical officer. Th'Loptious was a vatrilicon, always very calm and interesting in a boring kind of way. That's the way most vatrilicons were, never very enthusiastic. Their bodies didn't have the energy levels for excitement.

She walked into the silence, nothing but the lulling hum of energy and the feel of it as it coursed through the floor beneath her feet. The bridge was pretty dim, as was usual, for the thremosian were sensitive to light.
"Have you seen Demarian?" she asked when she stepped in.
"He's speaking with the Admiral," Th'Loptious answered.
She sighed and sauntered over to the center of the bridge. She slumped down in the Captain's Chair. She brushed a hand through her hair, her eyes wandering around the room casually.
"Tired are you?" Th'Loptious asked.
"You could say that," Sigrid answered emptily. She propped her elbow up on one of the armrests and tilted her head into her hand. Her eyes focused on the framework and part of the station she could see outside through the viewing window that wrapped around the whole front half of the bridge.
"He says he has something planned for you two," Th'Loptious said.
"Who?"
"The Captain, Demarian."
"What's that?"
Th'Loptious looked up from the console he sat at toward the front at her. "I am not to speak of it."
"You just did." Sigrid smiled, turning around in the chair to face him.
Th'Loptious gave her a simple smile.

"Thanks for calling me," Sigrid said as she stepped into Demarian's quarters. He'd just gotten back from his meeting with the Admiral on the station and had called Sigrid to let her know he was back. He was currently in human form, tall, dark good looking in Sigrid's opinion, which was why he'd kept to that form.
When she entered, he was typing away at something on the computer at his desk. He saw her and turned away from it, rubbing at his eyes tiredly. He smiled. "Yeah.I kind of need to talk to you about something."
Sigrid smiled. She remembered what Th'Loptious had told her just hours ago about Demarian having something planned for them. She knew that they were supposed to have some time off, a couple of weeks or so, after the assignment they just got back from. She was hoping it was some sort of vacation or trip. She'd really like something like that. They'd all been so busy lately. The war was just getting worse as time went on. The bentha were starting to attack non-space-faring worlds, wiping out entire species like they had the earth or enslaving them and taking over their planet and territory. As their territory grew, as did their resources and starship construction capability. Their fleet was growing ever stronger, which was why ISO-Force was starting to focus on their construction yards. The bentha attacks were waging evermore. The Novae fleets were beginning to dwindle. They had to concentrate on their own attacks if they wanted to get any closer to defeating the bentha.
"What about?" Sigrid said, standing over his desk.
Demarian stood up and walked around his desk, sitting down on it and taking Sigrid into his arms. They kissed. "There's a little something I have planned for us. A trip."
Sigrid stared into his eyes, rubbing her hands through his hair. "Where to?"
Demarian tipped his head to the side and smiled slyly. "Oh, a little here, a little there. Just have your stuff packed by morning, we're taking the Paramount out at 13:00 hours."
Sigrid shook her head. "You're too sweet."
"No," Demarian's eyes fell away from her, "I'm not. Not really."
His head down, Sigrid kissed him on the forehead, her smile gone. "You're the sweetest guy I've ever known." Tears welled up in her eyes as old memories went through her mind again as they had the night before. Only these were bad memories, of times when the guy she'd liked had discarded her like trash because she wasn't hot enough or her chest wasn't big enough. Demarian was the only guy who'd ever accepted her. Though even that couldn't keep the pain from her at times, times when she wondered if he accepted her simply because he was an alien. She wondered sometimes if any human guy would have ever accepted her. "I thank God every day for you," she said, a tear falling silently from her eye.
Demarian's brows furrowed as he looked up into her again and saw the tear. He wiped it from her cheek. "What's wrong?" he asked, concerned.
She smiled. "Nothing," she said, shaking her head. "That's just it."
Demarian smiled and caressed her cheek, staring into her green eyes. Their hands clasped each other and their fingers interlocked. She felt the warmth then of his strong hands. She knew they were she still allowed herself to thrive on the desire it sent through her like fire, almost healing those old scars of years long past. They kissed again, this time longer. The urge was there, the undeniable feeling of wanting to be closer to the other. Slowly, their hands let go so that their arms could wrap tightly around the other. An unquenchable thirst swelled up in their waists; they wanted to feel each other all over every inch of their body. Their tongues had locked, almost curling around each other and soaking up the saliva like sponges, but their saliva was like ambrosia to each other, a sugar so sweet it could start wars.
The energy piled upon itself. Their lips parted company a moment. "There's a bed just in there," Demarian said, gesturing toward his bedroom.

"So," she said simply, and thrust her lips back onto his.
He pulled back again. "You're right," he said, "much too far." Their lips met each other again, and this time they would not part until their hunger for each other was fully satiated.

Swimming close to the shore of a beach, Sigrid was smiling a mile a minute in the feel of a good swim, something she hadn't had in the past seventeen last swim had been on earth when she was fifteen; she was now thirty-two. There were moments when she closed her eyes and tried to imagine she was back on the late earth, destroyed by the bentha thought of which was often the driving force of her bloodlust against the bentha. It felt strange to her, for there was a moment then, just for a split second, where she really did feel like she was back on earth. .It had been so long. She'd forgotten. The earth as it was then was as alien to her now as any other world. She no longer had a homeworld like the other races of the galaxy. She no longer had a race! She was all that was left of the human race. She often wondered about her relationship with if the two of them could ever breed. Demarian had the ability to transform into a human form to allow , like the night before, but when it came to the possibility of Sigrid becoming hadn't a clue. She'd never really thought to ask Demarian about it. There were a lot of things she never asked Demarian about. Seventeen still she had so many about him, about his world, and even about herself. Of course, the thought of "propagating" the human race seemed overwhelming to Sigrid. She and Demarian would become the interstellar Adam and Eve. It was rather disorienting for Sigrid to think about. .Though, sometimes she felt it was her duty, her duty as a human being to reproduce so that the human race could live her.
It wouldn't quite be the human race though. It would be a whole new race, a race of mutts, hybrids, half alien and half human. The human genes would pass onto whatever offspring she might have, and their genes would pass onto whatever offspring that they might they still would never truly be humans. Her offspring, if she ever had any at all, would never be human like her, completely. It was so strange a feeling to her; she would never have imagined seventeen years ago that her own children would be alien to her.
An alien wind blew, throwing the sounds of Sigrid's soft splashes into the distance. Demarian was climbing down the second ladder from the top of the Paramount that was landed just a little ways off the shore. They'd left the Verybyl earlier that day aboard Paramount, a personal craft that they kept docked in the Verybyl's primary docking bay. Demarian had flown them to a tropical world that sat as the fourth planet from its binary stars to spend the first night of their trip together. He'd set the ship down on a beautiful, sunny beach, much like that of earth.
He looked around him for a moment, trying to find Sigrid. He saw her swimming in the water ahead. He walked out to the edge of the shore and put his hands on his hips. "Swimming I see," he called out to her. He shook his head. "How you can stand it is beyond me. We've never been on this planet," he continued, concerned, "how do you know what the sea life is like? It could be dangerous."
Sigrid, floating on her back, wiped the water from her eyes. "Aw, you worry too much. 'C'mon! Why don't you come in?" She splashed some water at him.
Demarian stumbled away trying to avoid the spraying water. "Watch it! I don't want to get my uniform wet."
Sigrid just laughed. "Then change."
"Now why should I do that?" Demarian asked in a playful tone. "Then I wouldn't have an excuse, now would I? Besides, I'm not in a very watery mood right now."
"Why?" Sigrid said laughing. "Afraid you'll get pulled under by some alien creature." Sigrid proceeded to splash ferociously and scream like she was being pulled under. She couldn't help but laugh at the same time.
"My Creator!" screamed Demarian in panic, fooled into believing something had actually taken her. "Sigrid! I'm coming!" Demarian looked around him nervously. He looked at the water for a moment. Reluctantly, he ran and jumped in. He swam out frantically to Sigrid.
Sigrid stopped splashing and laughed so hard she could barely keep herself afloat. "Demarian, Demarian," she said as best she could through her giggles. "There's nothing here. But look, isn't it nice? See? Nothing to worry about."
Demarian stared at her, astonished. "What! Nothing's out here! Nice! I'm soaking wet in my uniform and you think it's nice!" Demarian swam back to the shore without hesitation and steaming angry. "Oh good world! I think the coloring's coming out!" he said looking at his uniform and stomping back to the ship.
Dumbfounded, Sigrid laughed and called out to him. "Honestly, you're so uptight! You should really relax!"
"Relax!" Demarian said swinging around to face Sigrid. "How do you expect me to relax after you scream bloody murder, making me think some sea monster has you in its maw? Next time, the sea monster can use you as a bloody toothpick for all I care!" He turned and began to trample back to the ship.
Sigrid swam back to the shore. "Aw, c'mon!" she said desperately. "Don't get mad! I was just kidding!"
Demarian simply ignored her and made his way up the ramp, dripping wet all over it. When he stepped inside he turned and gave Sigrid a look that would make the devil himself shiver in fear and shut the door.
"Demarian!" Sigrid called still. "We're supposed to be on vacation!" She gave up, knowing he wouldn't come out and dropped her arms hopelessly to her sides. She sighed, drowning in guilt. She turned and looked over at a single cloud in the sky just over the ocean and plopped to the ground. These were the moments when she felt more alien than Demarian did to her. It happened so often. She'd do something completely out of context for Demarian's alien character and he'd end up disturbed by it. Usually he could understand what she really meant, after his being a human for that little bit of time back on earth when he met Sigrid, but most often his alien nature just complicated things. It was quite typical for them to have arguments. And I thought men were from a different world, thought Sigrid. More often than not, guys had her wishing some alien fleet would go blow them all up. .She'd just never imagined it would actually happen. .Now that it almost wished she'd had more time to practice dating and having relationships back on earth, maybe it would have made things easier for her now. She knew, of course, when she left with Demarian that it wouldn't be easy having a relationship with an alien. .It also wouldn't be easy being an alien..

Seventeen years before. "What is she doing here!" Hollered the guy driving the car as Demarian sat up front, Sigrid just getting into the backseat.
The car had just pulled up to the school, just minutes after Demarian got the call that interrupted his conversation with rather his confession.
"She's coming with us," Demarian said simply.
"What do you mean 'she's coming with us'? Are you crazy? She's an alien! We can't take aliens back with us! This planet isn't a souvenir shop!"
"Will you shut up and drive, please?" Demarian said, a little agitated by his colleague's reaction. Sigrid sat in the back, confused as ever. She almost felt helpless back there. What could she do? She was suddenly the alien? She suddenly felt indifferent, belittled, reduced in value. What was she to them? They talked about her like she was a disease or something! She could not speak, though. Her tongue was frozen.
The driver gave Sigrid a couple more nervous glances then focused back on the road. "The ship's going to meet us at the landing point. We're to leave everything. They only detected the bentha armada two hours ago. They say they'll reach earth in just under an hour. We're lucky they saw them at all! If it wasn't for some random spatial anomaly, their scans would never have been refracted toward the detection grid that picked them up," spoke the driver, specifically to Demarian.
"What about their people here?" Demarian asked, still nonplussed. "Are they just going to obliterate them with everyone?"
The driver shook his head hopelessly. "Can't say. If they are to get their operatives off or did it at some point before, we wouldn't know, we couldn't. Their ships are in phase. It was a stroke of pure skill that whoever analyzed the scanning signal was able to deduce that it was bentha. After that was officially decided, they sent a mountebank drone to see how many ships. From what they could tell, there was at least five hundred. It's an entire fleet, all of them capable of orbital bombardment."
Demarian sighed. "So the moment they enter orbit, all they have to do is flip a switch, press a button, and earth is history." He shook his head. "Why would they do it? What possible threat could earth pose?"
"Well, think logically Demarian," the driver said. "The Sol system's right on the edge of neutral territory. They get a foothold here and suddenly they have access to attack routes, numerous transdimensional vectors, resources, it gives them an incredible advantage."
"That must be why they sent operatives here at all. They had to see how much of a challenge the earth would pose, recognize the territory. Damn it! Why couldn't I see that?"
"None of us saw it, Demarian," assuaged the driver. "Don't blame yourself. The Admiral knows we both did the best we could. The earth is gone, we have to accept it. It's too late to send out an attack fleet. We should be lucky we had warning at you and I would be falling victim to the attack as well as the humans and the rest of the NCA operatives here." He paused, glancing back at Sigrid again. "Although, I'm not so sure how happy he'll be about her."
"She's coming with us," Demarian said, fixing his colleague with a steely look. "Drop the subject."
"Honestly, Demarian! She's a human! Were I to pick any inhabited world for the bentha to destroy, it would be earth!"
Sigrid's brows furrowed.
Slumping down into his seat, Demarian rubbed at his human head as if he had a headache. "Look, you and I both know I've never been fond of these humans either, but I'm not leaving her here!"
The driver gave Demarian and Sigrid both quick glances, as if suddenly realizing why Demarian wanted her with them so bad; with that, the driver fell silent with nothing more than a sigh. Sigrid continued to watch them both, .like nothing more than two ordinary people, conversing, emotion. And just five minutes ago she was wondering what shirt to wear to the movies that night.
Sighing and looking out the window ahead, Demarian turned to Sigrid as if suddenly remembering that she was back there. He reached a hand out to hers and held it firmly. "It's okay," he smiled. "Everything's going to be okay." .

.Everything's going to be okay, Sigrid thought, sitting there on that alien beach, looking into that alien sky, and remembering the day she found out who and what Demarian was. .But she was the alien. On this alien world, she was the alien. .To was the alien..

An hour later, Sigrid was lying out over a towel on the shore with sunglasses, getting a tan. She wasn't asleep, but her eyes were shut, her mind drifting. Demarian came out of the ship. He'd changed into some dry clothes and had a towel in hand. When he reached Sigrid he threw the towel out over the sand next to her and lied down on it.
He took a moment first to get a good look up at the sky, not realizing that Sigrid had quickly glanced at him without saying anything. He'd have thought she was giving him the cold shoulder had he not remembered that he was the one who'd been mad at her. That sky was nothing to Demarian. He'd seen a million skies. "A sky's a sky," he would say when Sigrid would point them out when they first left earth. She'd always make such a bid deal out of the littlest things that Demarian never even noticed. He'd only raise his brow in a condescending disinterest for a moment and then forgotten it. Sigrid would notice this, of course. She couldn't help but feel like he was patronizing her sometimes. She sometimes wondered if he thought of her .or if he thought of her as more of a child or . She did feel dumb sometimes. He knew so much more than her. During the training, when he was putting her through the academy to become an ISO- Force agent like him, he would get angry often, sometimes screaming at her as if frustrated that she couldn't do this or understand that. It made her want to she did, after she yelled back and he left and didn't show up for days later. 'Course, then he'd go out on assignment and be gone for months. There were many times when she thought he was dead, that the bentha had killed him. She'd worried so dearly about him. They loved each other so much. They really did. There was a particular incident where he'd been gone for eight months, with no contact from him to NCA at all, they'd presumed him dead. .She had contemplated suicide then. .In an alien world where all she had was the one thing that had ever accepted her unpleasant had been taken from her, stolen, and she felt she'd never have it again. She thought that maybe she would have killed herself if it wasn't for his sudden heroic return just days before she gave up on the training and admitted herself to some alien psyche ward.

"Never do that again."

.She'd said, throwing her arms around him the day that he returned and crying into his warm embrace. He didn't do it again. She soon finished her training and was assigned to his crew. At first, she was only a security officer, slowly climbing her way up to his level. She worked hard for it, inhumanly hard sometimes. It was the thought that he would think of her as a child that drove her. She felt she had something to prove to him, to show him that she could be as good as he she could be someone he could be proud of and show off. She wanted to be talked about like anyone of them. She never wanted to be called an "alien" again.
"I'm sorry," he said, reaching over and gently grabbing her chin, turning her face toward him. "You're right. This is a vacation. I don't know what got into me."
Sigrid smiled. "No," she said taking her glasses off and sitting up. "It's okay. I was being stupid. This place just reminds me of home, ya'know? We haven't stopped on a planet like this in a while."
Demarian sighed and leaned up. "I understand," he paused. " 's something I have to tell you. It's about earth."
"Okay," Sigrid said cautiously. "What is it?"
Demarian looked down at the sand. He shook his head, not wanting to tell her. "It's about my meeting with the Admiral yesterday."
"Really?" Sigrid said, a little confused. "What did he say?"
"Apparently, a few days ago they picked up some readings of ebydion radiation in the Sol system."
"Ebydion?" Sigrid repeated, trying to remember what it was. "Isn't that the stuff emitted from the benthas' starship engines?"
Demarian nodded. "When they sent a ship to investigate, the emissions led them to earth. . bentha have installed a colony on earth. .Some how, they restored the atmosphere and completely reterraformed it. They're using the resources to construct more ship yards, 've renamed Helio."
Sigrid looked down a moment, trying to remember the it came to her. "Tey Helio!" Sigrid said aggressively, standing up suddenly in rage. "Tey Helio!" she repeated again. "Scum World! They're calling it Scum World!"
"Sigrid," Demarian said sympathetically, standing up after her and putting his hands on her arms in an attempt to calm her, "I'm sorry. I didn't want to tell you, but you would have found out anyway. .We've been given orders to proceed to earth under phase and destroy the installation. In order to prevent the bentha from restoring it, we're under orders the earth's core. .I'm sorry."
".Well," Sigrid said, staring eerily off into space, "earth doesn't really matter to me anymore, at least not the way it is now. My earth is gone. .I'm glad you told me. When do we have ?"
"We've got two weeks. They're sending a couple of battle cruisers with us, along with two carriers."
Sigrid nodded slowly, still bemused.
The silence set in. Demarian had to get them off of that subject. He decided then would be a good time for his next surprise. "Well then," he said, "enough bad news. I've made you lunch in the ship."

Demarian sat at a table just inside the Paramount. The only light was from a trident-shaped candleholder that sat with its candles lit on the table. He was waiting for Sigrid to finish changing into something dry.
On either side of the table was an exquisitely set dish of beautifully prepared food. There were two plates on each side. He'd made them each a thick, juicy sirloin steak and an already prepared baked potato. To Demarian's left upon the table there were small glass bowls of butter, cheese, and bacon bits for the potato. Opposite of that was a basket of toast. There were two wineglasses and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
a sudden winter breeze, Sigrid stepped in. She was in a glistening red, robed dress. Demarian saw her and his eyes instantly watered. His breath had been squeezed right out of him. It felt as if his heart leapt at her. Her sparkling green eyes like stars, her jet black hair shining in the light didn't care how she thought she looked or how small her chest was .beautiful to him.
"This is much better," she said sitting down.
Demarian simply stared at her in awe. Finally, he managed to stutter breathlessly, " .beautiful."
Sigrid looked at him and smiled. "Thanks, Hun. Are you alright?"
"Alright?" Demarian said smiling, amazed she could ask such a question. "I'm ecstatic!" He stood up, taking the bottle of wine and pouring them each a glass. "I've been saving all of this for a special occasion."
"Oh! Thank you!" Sigrid said very pleasantly surprised. " did you get it all? Is it synthesized?"
Demarian smiled slyly. "Come now, my Dear, you don't think I'd serve you synthesized food on our vacation, now do you? What kind of alien boyfriend would I be if I did that?" he said chuckling. He sat down and leaned in closer to her over the table. "It's just a little something I've been saving. It's all genuine, including the steak, just like your mother made for us."
Sigrid looked down at the steak, blushing. She shook her head, amazed. "It's all so it looks ." she trailed off.
"What?"
"You don't usually compliment me like this."
Demarian smiled, practically blushing himself. "A problem I've been trying to fix."

After they finished, they talked for another ten minutes before Demarian realized the time. "Oh! The suns are setting!" He grabbed her hand and pulled her outside with him, excited.
Sigrid laughed. " Jeez, slow down, they're not going to set that quickly."
Demarian chuckled. "Sorry." They reached the shore to find one of the suns halfway set, the other directly above it.
Sigrid stared in awe at it. "I've never seen two suns set before."
"Oh, this is nothing," Demarian said. "I've been to the Rejoilvd system-the only known quaternary system. It's amazing."
"Four suns!" said Sigrid smiling in amazement. "I hope I see that one day," she said, linking arms tightly with Demarian.
Demarian looked at her and smiled. "I'll make sure you do."
Sigrid laid her head on Demarian's shoulder, not taking her eyes from the sight of the two stars brilliantly shining over the alien ocean. "Promise?"
Demarian pet Sigrid's hair for a moment. "I promise." He gently pulled her off of him and walked over to the water and began to take off his clothes. "When we were on earth," he explained, "I would sometimes spend time in the library reading when everyone was gone. There's one book I remember in particular, about a couple that goes skinny-dipping. It's supposed to be exhilarating and very passionate."
"Oh, really," Sigrid said with a devilish smile as she began to pull off her clothes as well. "I never read that one."
When Sigrid finished taking off her clothing, and she stood there bare- skinned, Demarian became lost in her.
Sigrid noticed, and couldn't help but laugh. "Something wrong?"
Finally, Demarian snapped out of it. "Oh! No!" He stuttered, "I just.," he shook his head, ".you're so beautiful."
Sigrid only smiled. He was the only one who'd ever said that to her. She loved the way he made it sound. She walked over to him. "Well, there is a first time for," she leaned and kissed him, "everything." She started walking into the water but stopped and peered enticingly over her shoulder at him. "I just hope there aren't any sea monsters." She smiled.
Demarian laughed, but inside, he was serious when he whispered nervously to himself, "Yeah."
Demarian got in the water and swam out farther from the shore with Sigrid. "Well," Demarian said, "by this time in the book, the couple ," they embraced each other and began to kiss.
They kissed until twilight. The three moons of the world all shone down upon the water they held each other alien water that would forever hold a memory they would. That night, as their wet bodies stroked each other as if a force stronger than gravity had taken hold of the two of them, for just one moment, both human and alien became one.

Seventeen years before. She stood in a barren wasteland. Sigrid's eyes scanned the area she stood in from her environmental suit. Where she had once walked peacefully through her neighborhood, talking with friends, hanging out, not hurting now stood ruins, gases and smoke still billowed from the charred ground. Everything that wasn't lying in large chunks of something was in ashes. Not a tree stood, not a blade of grass blew with the wind, everything was gone. The sky was utterly laden with clouds, black and gray the lot of them. The boots she wore sizzled as she walked, the surface temperature still well over two hundred degrees Celsius. And she only stepped slowly, her eyes gaping in horror, her jaw trembling, and her heart pouting. Far behind her stood Demarian, beyond him a ship. He watched her. He made no move to speak or hold her; he could never have imagined the feelings that were swarming within her mind and leaving her in a perpetual state of total consternation. He did not even attempt to imagine what she was feeling.
The tears welled up within Sigrid's eyes, but they could not find the effort to fall. She would find no redemption for the monstrosity that now encumbered her. It was a sin that tore into her soul, such frightful diablerie. The earth was a world dethroned; the only thing it held now was a dark King of evil malice, such appalling majesty! It seemed to look Sigrid in her eyes with a fiendish smile and take pride in its premature creation, a work of art it had repainted. It took her by the throat and throttled what little remained of her humanity, releasing her with a phlegmatic sense of mind that gently drained from her essence the life she'd loathed with such ire. This was what had become of the earth. This was what had become of the many empires and civilizations, from the millions of years of evolution, the patience of earth's nature, the beauty of even its least interesting of characteristics. Reality! It screamed. Of all that had come to be on the surface of that world, all that was left of it loomed over it now with an alien shadow. The dead earth that lay at the feet of the caliginous King that eyed her, hubristic and callous, looked up at her writhing in agony and begged mercy of her; it cried out for justice, it cried out for dignity. Why had she left it, it would wonder. Why had she given it up in the name of something not of it, after all it had given her! Its eyes became aglow with fury, ablaze with fire, engulfing her in hungry flames that sought vengeance on her traitorous soul. She held condemnation! She was the culpable one! And the cry of silence that howled in the stillness that was the fire in which she burned would leave her a damned skeleton, craving escape and yet tied down with onus.
Sigrid would find her house. She would find the pieces of her that were left there in their black coffins of dust and ash. She somewhat feared its thirst for revenge, exigent for the only desire death could have, so much so that it would be granted its return as evil's embrace to claw invidiously away at her precious body, her vessel, a gift they no longer had.
She saw the ashes all around, unable to help wondering to what the ashes had belonged. She knew that some were of people. Most were likely totally obliterated, but those that weren't reduced to oblivion blew in the steaming wind as dust. She saw the faces take form in the ground. Who had it been? Who had she left behind to die alone while she so merrily left them there. The ground would mutate into a mutilated, burned face of monstrous countenance. It would reach out slowly to her, she'd scream, run from it, and it would catch up with her. There was no escape, it surrounded her like a fleet on the attack, and just as it would reach her it would suddenly dissolve back to dust, objecting her to abysmal guilt, making sure she would live with it for as long as she ever lived.
Sigrid looked into Demarian's eyes that stared back emptily into hers. No words had the right to be spoken at that moment. Not a thing that existed in the presence of the earth had any right then. This was earth's moment. This was the moment of silence where it would mourn its own death. Sigrid would be among it.
As she looked suddenly from Demarian's eyes, something was different. She felt the force of the wind against her suit and she knew then why the earth had spared her. She would carry its torch now. She would seek its revenge. For the earth, she would fight alongside Demarian against the assassins. Sigrid would wage war in the name of earth. Her bloodlust lay starved; she would seek to quench its thirst. She would do the bidding of an entire world. She would fulfill its dying wish. Sigrid would play the hand of justice.

Sigrid awoke from the nightmare in Demarian's arms. They lied together in a bed aboard the Paramount. She looked up into his face, startled, his eyes closed and fast asleep. She noticed she was trembling. She did her best to correct it. Feeling warm, she allowed herself to move around in the cold satin sheets that lay over them in a comfortable embrace. She sighed after lying there for a while, attempting to fall back asleep but was unsuccessful. Finally, she crept her way slowly out of the bed without waking Demarian and found herself wandering outside onto the beach, a blanket of stars shining overhead.
Sigrid stopped on the edge of the shore, watching the waves splashing as the tide was coming in. There was one large, purple moon that hung brightly in the sky with the stars. Her eyes squinted up at the moon, eyebrows furrowed. She felt empty. She . Here was a world of beauty and paradise; it was a world that reminded her much of earth. Why did it get to exist? Why this planet and not earth? From jealousy she went to anger. Soon she gazed out bitterly at the serenity around her. She frowned, damning the tranquil loveliness, almost wishing to destroy it, and wishing it to be abominable.
She was standing out there for a good ten minutes, pacing, her anger. It wouldn't be until a sudden surprise startled her that she would go back to the ship.
"Sigrid," Demarian's soft, yet urgent voice called. He was stepping up behind her, his words forcing her back in recoil as she gasped and turned to face him. "I'm sorry," he said, noticing he'd scared her. "I didn't mean to startle you. Come to the ship, quickly. We just got a message from the Admiral."
Cautiously, Sigrid followed Demarian back into the ship, a little confused that the Admiral would contact them then.
"I was just lying there in bed when the alarm for incoming messages came on," he said as they sat down in the small bridge at a console. He worked a panel to open the transmission. "I looked over it before I went out for you, it's not good news." His eyes went up from the computer screen at her when he suddenly thought of a question. "What were you doing out there anyway?"
Still startled from Demarian's little surprise, Sigrid had been focusing on the computer screen, watching for the transmission to start. Her heart was still beating rapidly, though whether it was over Demarian coming up behind her or the fact that the transmission held bad news, she didn't know. She figured it was both. She looked to Demarian, shaking her head. "Er, nothing," she stuttered, her voice cracking as she said it. She cleared her throat, embarrassed at the error in her voice, and terrified she may have been blushing. "I was just.I needed some fresh air."
Demarian continued to watch Sigrid with a skeptical look for a few seconds before going back to the transmission.
When the message activated, an image of an azadi came on the screen. It was Admiral Vidsata, their usual reporting officer. He spoke with the typical azadi accent, speaking the NCA standard language, with its simple vowels and consonants, with slight clicks and hisses between some of the words and every pause. "Captain," he spoke, "I apologize for interrupting you and Commander Undset's vacation. I am afraid, however, an emergency has arisen. There have been no official statements issued as of yet, but there are rumors spreading throughout the Alliances that some detection grids along the major borders are picking up heavy readings of enormous vessels in fleet formations. According to what I have heard, the vessels aren't bentha; they are of some unknown alien race. The most disturbing thing is, the NCA has issued a general state of Second Alert, which means all officers, NCA, ISO-Force, and even Starbird Legion, are being ordered to their posts. Unfortunately, you two must report back to base immediately. I shall have more orders for you upon your return. End transmission."
The image cut off.
Sigrid's face contorted in frustration. "We have to set back now!"
"Afraid so," Demarian said as he stood up and walked around the console to the helm. He began setting a course. "I'm taking us up and setting auto-pilot. We won't be there for another six hours, so there's plenty of time for you to finish sleeping. I'll join you once everything in here's set. I suggest getting as much sleep as you can."
Sigrid only watched Demarian, watched his back turn to her. As she felt the engines come online, the sudden course of energy flowing through the floor, a rumble ran through as the engines started up and the annoying groaning went to a lulling hum. She heard the CLICK of switches as Demarian flipped them, a new hum coming on with each flipped switch, loud at first and then dimming to a hardly noticeable sound. Sigrid felt as though those switches had activated an even larger rage in her than she'd had watching the beauty of the alien world they were on just earlier. Her heart was beating quite rapidly now, and she felt ready to explode. Now even her vacation was being taken from her. . it because of the bentha? If the alien vessels were indeterminate, then they mustn't have been bentha. A thought crossed her mind: alien invasion. It could happen to space-faring civilization as much as any other. The anger inside Sigrid dwindled to worry. The last thing the NCA needed was another enemy.
The last thing Sigrid needed was another enemy.

Sigrid's eyes once again lay gaze upon the framework of the docking port of the space station from the windows in her quarters. In her hand, a steaming glass of, what she referred to as, coffee. It was technically, however, an azadi drink called T'Ark'L'Non, roughly translated of course from the azadi language of clicks and hisses. To Sigrid, it tasted like coffee and had the same effect as coffee, well, it was slightly stronger. Therefore, to Sigrid, it was coffee.
She had been unable to fall back asleep after they took off from the planet that she and Demarian had gotten back from just three hours ago. She could feel a terrible heaviness behind her eyes, but it had failed to overcome her anger in the hours she'd spent lying in bed again trying to rest. The only thing that would break her concentration then would be the opening of her door as the person on the other side grew tired of buzzing and not getting an answer.
It was Lieutenant Asvari, a female vatrilicon and a good friend of Sigrid's. Asvari was the Chief Con officer. She had a great personality, for a vatrilicon, good sense of a vatrilicon, anyone, and an excellent pilot. Like most vatrilicons, she was quite tall, at least two feet taller than Sigrid at nearly nine feet; Sigrid was tall for a human. An array of tentacles hung down from Asvari's head where one would expect hair was she a human.
By the time Sigrid had turned around to face Asvari, Asvari had already assessed that something was wrong. "You seem despondent," Asvari said to her.
Sigrid, slightly startled, placed her glass down on a table in front of a couch that was just beside her. Crossing her arms over her chest, she answered, "Slightly."
"Anything I may help with?" Asvari asked sympathetically.
"No," Sigrid answered without hesitation, obviously not wanting Asvari's help. "Something you want?"
"I came by to see how your trip was," Asvari said after a long pause, disappointed that Sigrid did not wish to discuss what was wrong.
"Brief," Sigrid said, raising an eyebrow.
"As is obvious," Asvari said, finally decided to sit down in a chair across from the couch. Sigrid sat down on the couch just afterward. Asvari's tentacles shuttered for a moment as she got comfortable in the rather large and cold chair. "Your despondency comes from this?" She asked, referring to Sigrid's answer to her question about the trip.
"Among others," Sigrid answered, running her hand through her hair and letting out a heavy sigh afterward. "You know, it always seems we're either out slipping between someone's sensors or in a briefing or on some sort of alert! I don't know about you people, but I'm growing quite tired of it."
Asvari's eyes rolled around the room a moment in thought. "We all grow weary of the times, Commander, it's part of being in a war. No one has the time for anything else anymore. No one is young anymore. We are all on alert."
"It's a war you've been serving for over fifty years!" Sigrid said, standing up as she did. "I've been serving it now for nearly seventeen years." She sighed, her tone dropping as she turned toward the window again, hesitant to say her next words. "I didn't even have to serve it. I could have stayed on have." She snickered. "Hell, I could have decided not to ask to go to the bathroom that day during class and not have wandered outside just in time to see Demarian going from alien to human in the blink of an eye. Then none of this would have happened. I'd be dead now. I wouldn't have known what hit me; I would have never seen it coming."
There was a moment of silence as Asvari contemplated whether or not to say something as Sigrid fell into a pause. "You and the Captain."
"What?" Sigrid interrupted suddenly, turning to face Asvari. "The Captain and I what? We fell in love? We're together? Is that it? Oh yeah, right. We're together alright, running around blowing up planets and attacking fleet yards, running away from our own attackers as we try to save our own asses! We got one day of vacation, Lieutenant, one day! We haven't had that .it must be a year now. Sure we've had our time between assignments, but most of that was onboard, only some were on the surface of a world with each other. I'm sorry, but I'd like a little romantic time every now and then. If I don't have my head in a console somewhere, Demarian has his head in me! Now, don't get me wrong, I like sex and all, but unless you're really good at it, you can't just do it all the time and be happy. He fixed me dinner yesterday! Dinner! That was nice! That was really nice. .I was enjoying the time off. I had a nice, cozy swim. Do you have any idea how long it's been since I had a swim?"
Asvari blinked her eyes nervously, for she had no knowledge of what a "swim" actually was, she figured it was some sort of food. "I know it's hard," Asvari said as sympathetically as possible, "but it is life, Commander, surely."
"Life! This is life!" She asked, throwing her arms into the air. "No, Lieutenant, no. This is not life." She waved her arm toward the window. "That is life, Lieutenant! That out there is life. The stars, space, planets, the universe, that is life. This is not life. Running around killing each other is not life. Life is out there. Look at it." She stepped closer toward the window, staring out at the stars. "The planets out having with to music." She started to say something else, but her gaze had fallen toward the bottom of the window. ".Lieutenant along the hull like a child." she said, her mouth open in surprise as her gaze climbed upward and Goryan, travelling along the outside of the ship in an environmental suit skipped over her window and continued going up. They had both watched with surprise and, after turning from the window a moment in thought, Sigrid finally said, "That's it," she shook her head. "I'm closing all of the airlocks and leaving him out there this time."
Asvari smiled a moment as she knew Sigrid was, of course, joking. "Commander," she said standing up, "life is what it is. There's no exact meaning to it like your people so tirelessly searched for. Life is its own answer. You accept it and move on." She stepped up closer to Sigrid, looking down on her.
Sigrid looked up at Asvari as she usually attempted with every vatrilicon, but ended up sighing and dropping her head back down as she most often did when facing them. "Well, then I don't like life." She shook her head. "If this is I'm not sure I want it anymore."
"I said that you have to accept it, Commander, not give up on it," Asvari replied sternly.
"This can not be life!" Sigrid screamed suddenly. "Life is out there, living!" she motioned again toward the window. "Life is here, being slaughtered! What you say is that life is war, life is death! Life is not death! I refuse to accept that! I refuse!"
"Life is you, Commander!" Asvari retorted. "Life is here! I've seen your face as you watch those bentha ships go up in flames or their stations obliterated. You enjoyed it. That is life. Life is power. Life is taking it from someone else. That is the way the universe is, that is the way people are, and that is the way life is going to be."
Silence.
"Admit it, Commander," Asvari pushed on. "You enjoy what you do. Vengeance, is life. Life is what you make of it, and you have so clearly shown that .vengeance. Redemption is what you seek, Commander, redemption for your friends, for your world, and for what your life once was. No matter what you do, though, whatever it may be, it's not going to bring that back. It won't bring back your friends, your planet, or your old life. What you are doing is sentencing the bentha to death. In your mind, you put them on trial and found them guilty, guilty for the slaughter of countless billions."
"And what are your people doing?" Sigrid asked, defiantly.
"We are defending ourselves." Asvari answered. "We started this war because the bentha decided they didn't like us and wanted to kill us. Therefore, we fight. We fight to save ourselves, and as long as we fight for that, our minds are always the wiser of them. Vengeance clouds your mind; it destroys your judgement. You do not know when to stop, when to fall back. In war, in any battle, you must always know when to fall try again later, must always to take pride in seeing the blood of your enemy run at your feet. .Have that be your motivation, you have the advantage."

Sigrid slipped into her uniform the next morning. She had yet to have sleep since her nightmare the night before. It wasn't entirely her own mental fault, however; the "coffee" had helped. She showered, slipped her uniform on, stared hopelessly at herself in the mirror again, and left for the bridge.
She'd received a message last night from Demarian. It was the same message he'd sent everyone else. While she wondered why he didn't go see her and tell her face to face, she decided to believe he was busy. After all, he had just gotten done with another meeting with the Admiral before he sent the message. The message was short and simple: meet on the bridge at 07:00 hours.
It was 07:22 hours when she reached the bridge.
Luckily, however, she wasn't the only one who was late.
"So kind of you to join us, Commander," Demarian said as Sigrid walked in. He was standing beside his command chair at the center of the bridge in his alien form.
"Sleep late?" whispered Asvari as Sigrid passed by her station toward the seat to the left of the command chair and just ahead of it.
"Not exactly," Sigrid answered as inconspicuously as possible. She sat down at her own station and did an immediate report check. "My apologies," she said aloud to Demarian. " a problem with the elevator," she said, her voice cracking.
"I'll have it looked at," Demarian said, his suspicion obvious.
Sigrid didn't answer.
"Any word from Commander Lotrias?" Demarian asked impatiently.
"Affirmative, Captain," answered Lieutenant Dorgan, the Chief Communications officer. "He's refusing to come up, Sir. He's sent back a message."
"Let me guess," Demarian said suddenly, bringing his hand up, ".it's only two words?"
A hiss came from Dorgan's azadi tongue. ".And they're not 'Yes, Sir'."
Demarian smiled sarcastically, knowing exactly what Commander Lotrias' reply was. "Quaint," he said simply. "Lieutenant, please inform Commander Lotrias that if he does not show up here within the next five minutes, he will lose the ability to show up anywhere again!"
"Aye, Sir," Dorgan answered with a bit of humor leaking from his rough tone.
A few moments of silence passed, the soft BEEPING of random consoles carried with the cool air that seemed to have a sort of sanctity about it as Sigrid breathed it in. The stars mingled outside the windows around her like an audience staring back at something?
Small footsteps behind her sent Sigrid into the air with fear. It was only Demarian. He stepped up beside her and leaned over, putting his hands along the top rim of the console that extended out to Sigrid's right. "You didn't sleep last night," he said; it wasn't a question.
"No," Sigrid answered, her eyes on her console as she continued to read the report read-outs.
"Sigrid," he whispered, using her name to inform her that she had permission to speak freely, "I don't know why you haven't been sleeping, but I'm going to need all of you for the next few days. I can't have you falling asleep while we're up here or reporting late for duty. I'm going to leave this one incident out of the 't expect me to be so bias next time."
Her eyes fell from her computer screen, befalling the bottom rim of her console. "Thank you," she said appreciatively.
Demarian nodded once and turned slowly around, "And next time," he said, "come up with something a little better than a faulty elevator. You're going to make the crew think I'm an idiot."
She smiled, her eyes going back to her screen's read-outs. Neither of them had looked at each other even once, attempting to look casual in front of the rest of the bridge crew.
As Demarian stepped slowly back toward his command chair, he swiftly pulled out a communicator, tapped a few buttons and put it to his ear. As the person answered, he said, " your soon-to-be corpse on this bridge before I drag you up here by your tentacles!" He hurled the communicator inadvertently toward one of two entrances to the bridge, and a blue, spindly hand caught it just before striking the wall.
That hand belonged to Commander Lotrias.
A smirk across his vatrilicon face, he strolled, nonchalant, up to Demarian and handed him his communicator. "Lose something?" he said.
Demarian fixed Lotrias with a steely look. "My patience!" he said, his jaw tightening when his mouth closed.
Lotrias was much more human than any other vatrilicon. He was also known for being the one to spend the longest amount of time on the earth as a human as any known alien. Apparently, like Demarian, the effect was still apparent.
"Well, you know what humans say," he said, turning around and stepping up to his station at security, " 'Patience is a virtue'. 'Course," he smiled, "I believe it was the azadi," he looked to his right toward Lieutenant Dorgan, "who said, 'To be virtuous is to cheat at life'."

"Guess which one I believe, Commander," Demarian said, obviously not amused.
"Believing is relative, Captain," Lotrias smiled, starting his own report check at his station. "The facts are always first in line."
Demarian stared for a long while at Lotrias before sighing and giving up as he often did when it came to Lotrias. As Demarian had always told Sigrid, trying to fight with Lotrias was like talking to someone whom lacked sanity; Lotrias would babble on, quoting everything from planetary civilizations to himself, which usually came equipped with a condescending attitude of the worst .
"I've called you all up here because we have our orders," Demarian said, turning around, scanning everyone who was now giving him their undivided attention, including Sigrid. "I'd have called this meeting in the briefing room, only there's no time to waste. Since we're to set off in two minutes," he said, eyeing Lotrias, "I'll have to explain after launch." He faced the front, "Commander," he said, referring to Sigrid.
"Stations at ready," Sigrid ordered. "Engineering, stand by."
"Helm, set a course," Demarian answered, sitting down into his command chair and tapping away at the controls on the arm of his chair. "I'm downloading the coordinates to your console now."
"Hail station control," Sigrid ordered to Communications. "Lieutenant," she said, turning her attention to Asvari, "clear all moorings. Bring the engines online."
"Hailing frequencies open, Captain," Lieutenant Dorgan announced.
"Station control, this is NCV Verybyl, Captain Demarian reporting, requesting clearance for launch," Demarian said through the communications channel.
"Captain, this is station control," came the rough, obviously azadi, voice over the intercom from the channel, "clearance granted."
"Moorings cleared," Asvari announced.
"Thank you, Lieutenant," Demarian said, "Engage engines, zero point four thrust, marks two and three."
"Aye, Captain," Asvari acknowledged.
At the press of a few buttons from Asvari's console, the two center shells on the wings of the Verybyl quickly opened half-way from the back and the blue streams of light shot out from the cylindrical engines and the ship, slow at first, began to drag its way out of the docking port and into open space. There was a slight groaning just before the hull integrity kicked in, and, inside the ship, there was a slight jerk just before the inertial dampers activated.
"Station cleared, Captain," Asvari said.
"Thank you," he said standing up. "Shields online," he ordered. "Form the quantum scission and begin burrowing, sequence one-three, all engines, engage."
Two missiles shot from the nose of the ship, set on a collision course with each other. As the explosion evaporated, a very temporary hole was formed as the dark matter inside the missiles broke down all temporal and spatial matter at the quantum level, literally cutting a hole into another dimensional realm in which a ship could enter one of thousands of quantum tunnels through which to travel from one end of space to another at any speed they wished; they could even travel through time or dimensions had they wanted to, of course, it was much more complicated and required much more energy than the Verybyl was currently carrying.
As the end of the ship flew through the hole, the scission collapsed a mere two seconds afterward, sealing the tunnel and healing the scar made in space-time.
"Scission cleared, Captain," Asvari said.
"Thank you," Demarian said once again. "Officer to their stations, Senior crew to the briefing room."
Followed by the senior officers, Demarian walked off the bridge, random secondary officers taking the stations the others were now deserting as ordered. Whatever their orders were, Demarian was obviously under personal orders to keep it under wraps with all secondary personnel and below. Sigrid almost wished she were secondary personnel as her feet took her out of the bridge and down the corridor to the briefing room.