If I fall along the way

Pick me up and dust me off

And If I get to tired to make it

Be my breath so I can walk

(Matchbox20-Bent)

"Captain! We're receiving heavy fire from a single Gremlim ship off the port side!"

Kevin Teal, captain of the ship Explorer, sighed. This was getting to be a frequent scenario since they'd entered Gremlim space 6 hours ago. He watched as the Gremlim's green energy beam lanced out and absorbed in their shields.

"Direct hit, shields down to 80%," yelled his pilot, Lt. Comm. Dusty Cormick.

"All right Cormick, swing us around 90 degrees, Harper, can you get a lock on them?"

"I've got a lock Captain."

"O.K. Harper, give me two energy torpedoes. Target their weapons and propulsion."

"Firing… I've got them. Their propulsion is out. They've still got weapons."

"Ahhhh! Dusty yelped."

"Dusty!" Harper yelled. "Captain, he's unconscious."

Kevin frowned. "All right Harper. Fire one more torpedo at their weapons and then get him to sick bay."

"Aye sir. Direct hit to weapons, their weapons are down."

"Cameron", Kevin called into the COM system. "Can you come up here and take over the helm? Cormick's injured and in sick bay."

"Aye sir," Cameron called "I'll be right up."

Kevin, a tall 30-year-old, sighed again as he pondered the last attack. They had all come without warning, but something was different about this one. Suddenly, it hit him. In all the previous attacks, the Gremlim had only targeted their weapons and propulsion. In this attack they had shot to destroy the Explorer, not disable it. Fortunately, the Explorer, a small undercover cargo ship for the International Space Navy, had state of the art shields & weapons and probably did not sustain heavy damage. "What have we got Cameron?" he said as the twenty-two year old engineer sat in the pilot's chair. "Shields at 80%, minimal damage to port side energy lasers. Basically easy repairs." "Good." Kevin said. He heard Sam Harper come up the metal stairs. The tall, slim, 23-year-old woman came up behind him.

"How's Cormick?"

"He's still unconscious sir. Permission to stay with him?"

"Granted. I'll take over weapons."

"Thank you sir."

Sam and Zane had always had some kind of a bond since they met, despite her having blown him off for almost 8 months after they met, a bond that Kevin himself couldn't understand, and neither, he suspected, could Jack. He suspected it was because they had both already suffered at the hands of the Gremlim race. Zane in 'the fighter incident of '72', where he had been infiltrating a Gremlim military spaceport when it had blown. One of the only survivors, he had flown a Gremlim ship out and spent 3 months in sickbay. Kevin wasn't quite sure what had happened to Sam; she never had talked about it.

Dusty, a tall, 24-year-old Lieutenant Commander had been with him for about 3 years and was his number 2.

Jack Cameron, a 2nd Lieutenant had been with him for 1 and ½, and Sam, a weapons expert, and 1st Lieutenant, 2 and ½ years.

"Hey Sam" Jack called over his shoulder. "Any idea what happened to him?"

"I think the Gremlim fired an energy burst and it traveled through the shields and hit him. No phasar beams came through our shields. I can review the sensor logs while I'm watching him though if you want."

"Why don't you do that?" Kevin said slowly. "I'd like to know what happened so we can prevent it from happening again."

Kevin hoped they wouldn't have any more problems. They were on their way to deliver food and medical supplies to a military ship stationed on the other side of Gremlim space. It was a dangerous post to be at. The Gremlim had unleashed themselves on the human race after one of their command ships had found a human fighter with a severely damaged Gremlim cruise ship 5 years ago in 2870 A.D. The Gremlim, believing that the fighter had damaged the cruise ship, had destroyed the fighter and it's two occupants. They had then proceeded to attack every other human ship in the sector. 7 ships were lost, 3 were severely damaged. Only 1 ship made it back to the International Space Port, or ISP, undamaged. Now they were waging a major war against the human race.

"Sir?" Jack brought Kevin out of his daydream. "Long range sensors show no Gremlim ships within 15 light years. We'll reach the Warbird II in 6 days."

"Thank you Commander."

Same Time:

20 light years away, Grouth Key'la, leader of the Gremlim fleet, sat on the bridge of his warship, The Gremlim

Pride. A young tech came up to him.

"The new shields are in place on all ships and we are working on integrating the new cloaking technology into all ship systems." Grouth smiled.

"Well done. With this new technology we will quickly destroy the humans"

The tech nodded and strode away. Grouth smiled again and breathed the hot, humid air. The Gremlim were a humanoid species, standing about 5' 2" tall. They were a dark, dusky; green colored, thrived in a hot, humid climate and fairly well matched the human's thoughts of an extra-terrestrial back in the 20th-21st century. The green color of their energy weapons was derived from the color of their scales. Grouth punched in his relay codes to speak directly to the Gremlim council.

"What do you have to report Grouth?" the gravely voice said.

"We have finished integrating the shields and are integrating the cloaking shield now. With those modifications we should conquer the humans within a year."

The head of the council smiled, a bit evilly.

"Thank you Grouth. When we do, your reward shall be great."

Grouth gave a military bow and the transmission ended. He too, smiled.

5 Days Later:

Zane opened his eyes and recognized that he was on a bunk in sickbay. Everything waved in front of him and

was fuzzy. With a jolt that startled him, everything became clear. With a groan, he lifted his head and looked around. He saw Sam sitting on chair in the opposite corner of the room reviewing sensor logs. She looked up, allowed a small smile (which surprised him, as she didn't smile much).

"Hey you're awake."

He blinked "Yea, how long was out?"

She smiled again "5 days."

He looked directly at her. "5 days! I better get up to the bridge!"

She crossed the room, put a hand on his shoulder and easily pushed him back down.

"Hang on there man, you're not going anywhere for a few hours until you've eaten and we're sure you're not going to collapse again."

Zane reluctantly agreed with her, mostly because he knew he was in no condition to get up.

"What happened to me?"

"As near as I can tell, the Gremlim sent an energy burst through the shields and it hit you. I'll give the sensor readings to the techs on the Warbird II; we'll be there in a few hours."

Zane sighed, "They just keep finding more ways to get us don't they. By the way, who's flying?"

"Jack is. The captain has weapons. I've been here most of the time for 5 days, I fill in for them if they need a meal or a nap."

"Thank you"

She lifted her eyebrows. "For what?"

"Staying down here, making sure I didn't wake up alone. The last time I was in sickbay, it was after..."

"No problem. Besides, it gave me a chance to analyze sensor logs and write a transmission home."

She stood up, took her hand off his shoulder. "I'll go get you some food."

Kevin swiveled around in his chair as Sam came up the metal stairs.

"He awake?"

She smiled "Yea, and as ready to get up here as anything. I made him lay back down. I'm going to get both of us something to eat. Want anything?"

"I'll bet he's as weak as anything too. No thanks, I just ate."

She took the stairs down from the small obs. Shelf and paused next to the pilots console. "You want anything Jack?"

"I might take a chocolate bar if it's not to much trouble. We reach Warbird II in about 6 hours.

"All right you chocoholic, quit drooling and make sure you don't fly us into a black hole or anything."

Jack grinned with mock horror, "What? Me fly into a black hole? You must be a delirious as Zane can be sometimes."

Sam swatted at him "Whatever Cameron."

Zane was awake and reading the sensor logs when Sam came down with some soup.

"I think you're right about the energy burst. I wish that would explain why they were trying to destroy us that time and not disable us."

"I think they're getting tired of us. That's the only logical explanation."

They sat and talked for a few hours, she catching him up o the events of the last few days.

Suddenly, the ship rocked. The COM unit crackled

"Harper" Kevin called "We could use you at weapons right now."

The ship rocked again

"Coming sir"

Zane stood up. "I'm coming too."

"Oh no you're not" Sam called over her shoulder "You're in no shape to be up there again."

Zane followed her up anyway. Kevin stood up from weapons and Sam settled down in the soft, high backed chair.

"Oh wow." Zane said.

They all looked out the view screen. An invisible ship was firing green energy torpedoes.

"This only could mean one thing," Jack said slowly. "The Gremlim have developed a working cloaking shield."

"Cameron, I don't want to find out what the capacity of those torpedoes is. Take us out of here."

"With pleasure sir."

Kevin noticed Zane standing there for the first time.

“How are you feeling Zane?â€