Something happened to Godiva over the first two days the Paradox crew spent upgrading the Phoenix. She stopped caring.

She had a strange feeling that something going on inside her had finally started to break through. It seemed oddly familiar to her, however she couldn't quite figure it out. For split seconds at a time she thought she could see it clearly, but instantly it eluded her, as though she had tried to remember a word she knew but couldn't recall. She felt she had gotten very close to figuring it out at times but always had nothing in the end. As vague as it seemed, she tried to pass it off as her imagination acting up. It had, however, become too powerful to ignore.

So instead of thinking about it too much, she kept herself busy with other things. The Paradox crew made for a good distraction. She had become indifferent to their presence, yes, but she kept a watchful eye on their work. While she grew more reclusive each day, she had Michael tasked with familiarizing himself with the new upgrades.

She narrowed her eyes, leaning against a support beam running up a wall in her bedroom. Indifference had set into her. Much as she tried to pay attention to the Paradox crew, she had grown less than interested in what they were doing. Her confidence had remained, the solid continuity in her life, and she knew she could handle any problems heralded by the Order crew.

The lights outside her window caught her attention. Vanessa's warning about travelling at superluminal speeds hadn't given it justice. The swirling reds and blues from stars redshifting and blueshifting could make a person really dizzy pretty quick. Godiva averted her eyes from the windows whenever she could to keep from feeling ill, but occasionally it stole her gaze and captivated her. She almost felt hypnotized by it, as though staring at the lights long enough would compell her to walk right out an airlock. An overwhelming force to enter the mesmerizing light overcame her. Then she'd notice herself walking toward the window, reaching a hand out to the light, and she would stop. Her stomach wrenched, and she felt tired and disturbed.

Shaking it off, she really felt the need to get out of her room for a while. The information from the data drive Vanessa gave to Michael had crossed her mind a few times. She hadn't looked over it at all. Part of her really didn't want to. She didn't want to face the reality of their situation. The lights outside almost convinced her, and she found that terrifying. Her common sense told her she needed to face facts. With nothing else to do, she decided to finally use it as an excuse to get out of her room. So she got dressed and headed up to the bridge.


A noticable silence had encompassed the briefing room, and Vanessa didn't like it.

Commander Dvoretsky stood in a corner behind her. Two security officers looked like statues at the wall in front of her. The communications panel buzzed, a crewman on the other end alerting her that Ensign Jakab had arrived. Vanessa acknowledged and ordered him in.

The recent recruit barely looked out of his teenage years. He had dirty blonde hair, slightly disheveled. Like most humans in the Order, he had pale skin, as they rarely spent any time planetside. His stocky, short build made it difficult for Vanessa to believe such a seemingly innocent young crewman had committed treason.

Regardless, when Commander Dvoretsky presented the evidence against Jakab to Vanessa, she had a hard time denying it. Every hacked data stream had come from a terminal Jakab had accessed at the time of the hacks, and after each hack he had sent a private message to someone offship. The later didn't exactly seem unusual, as people sent messages to friends and family often, but the first made Vanessa uneasy. The evidence almost sounded too good.

It made her feel worse that Jakab had no clue why they had called him there. She didn't want to feel like a predator pouncing on an unsuspecting prey.

Greeting him, she asked him to sit. He took a seat at the opposite end of the elongated table. A brief glance at the guards behind him put a pinch of anxiety in his eyes. Vanessa took note of it, deciding then to speak as tactfully as possible.

Interlacing her fingers, she leaned forward over the table and fixed him with a discreet gaze. "How are you settling in on the Paradox?"

"Very well, Captain. It's an honor to be here." A level of confidence in his tone, the words came quick and professional.

Vanessa nodded once with a brief smile. "It's a big ship, but every person onboard plays an important role. Your service is appreciated." She caught the sound of Dvoretsky's feet shuffling in disapproval behind her.

Suppressing a frown, she lit up a glowing yellow holograph between herself and Jakab that she pinched and dragged to her right. "That said, there are a few things we need to go over with you.

"You accessed terminal 4-B in the recquisitions office last 5th of Ludwig, at approximately eighteen-hundred, forty hours?"

"Yes, Ma'am," he answered almost studiously. "I had to order some mainetenance equipment I needed to work on the ventilation system the following day."

Sounded reasonable enough to Vanessa. She pressed onward. "Three days ago you accessed the comm systems in bay nine, third level of engineering around nineteen-hundred hours?"

Jakab's eyes wandered a moment, recalling what happened. "Yes. I was on janitorial duty, and I accidently activated the console as I was cleaning it."

Vanessa paused, uncomfortable with his answer. The holograph she looked at clearly showed a lot more happened at that console. Unless he accidentally broke into high-priority comm channels while scrubbing a few panels, his story didn't add up. She leaned back and crossed her legs, locking her eyes sternly on the ensign. "Mr. Jakab, we've had a series of security leaks onboard. Someone has been tracking fleet movements by hacking the data streams."

His eyebrows raised slowly as he began to realize why they had called him there.

"We've traced these hacks to terminals you accessed at the time of the incidents." She let his eyes tell her when he knew exactly what they suspected. "Is it you?"

Jakab instantly looked nervous. He looked up at the Commander and noticed his fuming stare. Then he looked back at Vanessa's empty look. "Captain, I would never-"

Dvoretsky couldn't hold himself back any longer. Suddenly he flew at the table and pounded his fist. "Who have you been sending the information to?"

Jakab's face twisted with befuddlement. "Commander?"

"Your private messages!"

"Commander," Vanessa tried to interject.

Dvoretsky either didn't hear Vanessa or he didn't care. He continued, punctuating each statement with another blow to the table. "You have no siblings. Your parents died in an accident eighteen years ago. You have no one! Who did you send those messages to?"

"Commander!" Vanessa exclaimed, yanking his arm back before he could hit the table again.

Dvoretsky drew in a deep breath and glanced down at Vanessa. Reluctantly, he stepped back from the table and crossed his arms.

She sighed behind her hand as she brought it up to run it through her hair. Dvoretsky's reaction didn't surprise her, which is why she would have rather kept him out of the room in the first place. Part of her couldn't blame him, though. Jakab had raised some suspicions in her as well, and the idea that one of her own crew had abused their position to betray them set a fire burning inside her.

In the thick of the growing ire, Jakab had developed a terrified look on his face. Apparently speechless, he only watched her, wide-eyed and mouth hanging open. He looked like he expected an execution.

Catching the horror in his eyes, Vanessa sighed inwardly and stifled her own temper. She pursed her lips for a second in thought. "All computer access in your room is hereby rescinded, and you are restricted to your quarters until further notice. Dismissed."

Jakab slowly rose from his chair and left the room, followed by the two guards who would escort him. Vanessa didn't watch. Her thoughts went to the Commander, and how he had virtually destoyed her attempt to keep control of the meeting. While his actions had produced a vaguely telling reaction from Jakab, it had not really helped her decide one way or another on the matter. The information on her holograph about the hacks seemed far more trustworthy than the ensign, but she couldn't call a member of her crew a traitor without solid evidence.

Dvoretsky made his way toward the door, but she caught him before he slipped out.

"Commander," she glared at him, "you had better put a cork on that temper before you find youself restricted to quarters."

He narrowed his eyes at her, and he started to turn to her as if to say something but halted. "Yes, Captain," he replied sharply and stepped out.

She slapped a button on the desk to turn the holograph off, rolling her eyes as she did. Dvoretsky seemed to become more of an issue with each passing day. He had served as her executive officer for just over a year, but never had he acted so insuboordinate as he had the last few days. She couldn't figure out if it was the war stressing him out or if he had some kind of chip on his shoulder, but she had an uneasy feeling that it would only get worse. Before long, she worried, her biggest problem might not be a traitor, but an uncontrollable first officer leading a mutiny.


The ship looked the same. Godiva didn't see anyone during her trip to the bridge. Nothing looked different, but it felt different to her. She didn't understand why. Perhaps simply knowing that the Paradox crew dwelled somewhere within the ship made her feel strange. She knew the changes going on. Lieutenant Reeder had provided her with a complete list, and much to her own surprise, she had approved all of them. The changes made sense, and it seemed like they would only improve the quality and ability of the Phoenix. Godiva still didn't like them digging around inside her ship, but she had chosen to try and ignore it.

When she got to the bridge, she found Michael and one of the Paradox crewman talking about guns. Michael made a few obvious glances her way with a look that seemed to plead for help getting out of his conversation. Another crewman lying on the floor with his head inside a console attracted her attention though.

Meandering toward the crewman whose face she couldn't even see, she raised an eyebrow at the undeniably humorous sight. "Can I ask what you're doing?" she asked nonchalontly.

The movement inside the console came to an abrupt halt. A few seconds passed, and then the crewman finally pulled himself out and leaned up. Wide-eyed in surprise, the blonde, baby-faced young man answered carefully. "I'm installing the new communications command subroutines. I was told you approved it." His last sentence sounded more like a question than a statement.

Godiva smiled sarcastically. "Yes, I did, but the communications console is over there." She pointed at a station on the other side of the bridge in front of Michael and the other crewman. "This station is for controlling engine room functions."

The crewman grit his teeth slightly, hesitant to respond. Godiva obviously didn't seem too happy about the situation. "I was ordered to move communications to this station," he replied softly.

Godiva blinked several times, witholding her urge to yell. "And the engine room station?"

His eyes wandered a bit. Then he slowly pointed at a pile of circuits and wires on the floor next to him. "There?"

She looked at the pile he pointed at, an almost feral look in her yes. Biting her lower lip, she sighed inwardly and pressed her palms together in front of her face as if to calm herself. Dumbfounded by the crewman's response, she simply shook her head and walked away.

As she shifted her focus to Michael and the other crewman, she caught the tail end of their conversation. Leaning on a console with one hand and setting the other on her hip, she listened in on what she already knew from what she overheard earlier was a conversation about how the sidearms they carried were just better.

"I'm not saying it's a bad gun," the tall, dark-haired crewman explained, holding up one of the guns Godiva kept inside a case on the back wall of the bridge. Setting it down on top of the station in front of them, he withdrew his own weapon from its holster at his side. "But this gun," he looked at it, smiling with pride, "this is a gun you can go to war with."

"A bullet's a bullet," Godiva commented.

The crewman turned to Godiva, only just becoming aware of her presence. A sly, confident smile creased his face as he took a step closer to her. "You think so, do you?"

Godiva never flinched, and her expression remained unchanged and emotionless. "Would you like me to show you?"

His confidence faultered, and then he began to chuckle nervously. As he glanced back at Michael, Godiva picked up her gun from the console. Michael's serious face didn't help the crewman's not-so-subtle attempt to turn her threat into a harmless jest. "She's joking," he stated hopefully. "Right?"

A soft beep from the gun Godiva had just unlocked quickly drew his attention.

Michael stood up and patted the crewman on the back. "If I were you, I'd leave," then added, as he walked around them both toward the front of the bridge, "-the ship."

The crewman withdrew his fearful look and masked it with contempt. "I need to get down to engineering anyway."

Godiva watched him leave, a smile growing on her face with each of his steps. As the door shut behind him she turned and walked over to Michael.

"So where have you been hiding?" Michael asked, spinning around in his chair at the copilot station at the front of the bridge.

Godiva hopped up on the station behind her. "I haven't been hiding," she retorted. "I've just been sleeping a lot."

Michael smirked and nodded knowingly. "Right. So what finally got you to crawl out of bed and come up here?"

She tilted her head to the side in thought. "I thought I'd go over that data drive they gave you. You been through it yet?"

Michael scoffed. "Are you kidding? It's practically all I've been doing for the last two days, and I've barely put a dent in it! There's so much information on that thing it's ridiculous."

She frowned slightly. Her decision to go through it hadn't anticipated a long read. Reading didn't bother her, she just didn't expect to find it all that interesting. "I guess I'm going to skim through it a little."

Snickering, Michael stood up. "Good luck. I'm not sure it's possible to 'skim' two gigabytes of text."

Godiva's eyes popped. "Two gigabytes?" She repeated the words with horror in her tone.

"Like I said, good luck!" He pointed at a console in the back. "I've been using that station to access it."

She responded with a thankful smile.

"I'll be looking over some of the new systems if you need anything."

She scooched off the console and sauntered over to the station he pointed at. When she flicked on the screen she saw the file still highlighted since he last opened it. Drawing in a deep breath, she decided to just plunge right in.


The bridge on the Paradox appeared normal and uneventful as Vanessa stepped out of her office to relax a bit in her chair atop the center platform. With most of her workload done, she usually liked to cap off each day with a lounge in her Captain's chair. The soft, quiet hum of the bridge seemed to project an aura of efficiency she found comforting after a long day. Everything on her mind would steadily drift away as she lost herself in the somber tones and dark grays.

She especially needed that relief after the day she just had. It almost immediately started off bad when she woke up to a pounding headache. No doubt the result of the drinks she drowned herself in the night before. The rest of the day progressed on the same low. Her mind still reeled from the meeting with Ensign Jakab. The typical daily routine followed, interspersed with relentless interruptions from crewmen aboard both the Paradox and the Phoenix. It didn't bother her really. She took great pride in her duties. Her mind just had to catch a break when it could.

Unfortunately for her, the break wouldn't last long.

The silence broke when a young female officer at the communications station behind Vanessa spoke out. "Receiving a security alert from Guild HQ, Captain. They're updating the alert status in our area from level three to level two."

Vanessa quickly accessed the message through the controls beside her. "Confirmed. Update alert status to level two."

"Aye, Captain. Status level two initiated."

Vanessa mashed a button on the arm of her chair. The ship-wide intercom echoed a dull tone throughout all floors. "Attention crew," she announced, "we have upgraded to security level two. Enemy ships have been sighted in this sector. All hands stay alert. Captain out."

"Captain," the pilot at the front of the bridge called out, "There's a problem with the FTL drive. Something's destabilizing the modulation frequency."

Vanessa rose up and made her way to the pilot station. "Can you compensate?"

"Negative, Captain. The disruption is increasing."

She eyed the readings on his console. What she could see didn't make a whole lot of sense to her. Her initial theory was an error in the FTL calculations, but it wouldn't make sense for the error to just pop up after two days of smooth flying. "Take us out of FTL," she ordered and walked back to her chair.

She opened a channel at her console. "Engineering, this is the Captain. I need a status-"

Suddenly the bridge fell dark.