Story of a Captain-Master

by Mistress Sarah

Disclaimer: These are not my characters. They are owned, copyrighted and created by far wiser people than me. I have attempted to bring them back to life for a short time, attempting to ease that gaping hole in my heart where B5/Crusade once was.
Note: Series is NC-17. m/f, m/m.
Archiving: SW and the WWOMB archive

Matthew Gideon II.

I can't believe that this damn ship doesn't have running water except for drinking. I can't take a shower! I want to take a bath!

You'd think that a Captain would at least rate that much.

I had managed to figure out how to use those 'vibe' showers thanks to a few helpful crewmembers who apparently had wanted the chance to sleep with their Captain White Bread. It started off simply enough, a flirtatious comment with one yeoman, and before I knew it, I easily had a Gideon's dozen of assorted men and women who wanted nothing more than to make me happy in any way I wanted. If the Captain wanted sex in a vibe shower, well, the Captain got sex in a vibe shower.

"Time to get out of bed, sugar." I announced to the sleeping figure next to me. She was a red head, big boobs and absolutely nothing between her ears, but she was lively, limber and enthusiastic, so I enjoyed our time together, especially when we played "Space-Ship Captain and the Wanton-Sex-Whore." Mumbling something in response, Red stayed where she was, and I grew annoyed.

"Time to get out of bed." I ordered again, and this time, I pushed her out of my bed. There was a loud noise when her body hit the floor, and she began protesting.

Shit. She was going to make me get out of bed, wasn't she? Time to drop her like day old flarn.

Grabbing her by her hair, I assisted her. It was rather simple. If she didn't want her hair pulled out by the roots, then she'd get off the floor. She began protesting again, so I hit her, not too hard, but with enough power so she realized I was serious.

"Stop your bitching. There are plenty of other women on this ship who are more than willing to play by my rules. Remember that you offered your services right after you heard about what a wonderful time Jenny had. Now go, before I make you regret pissing me off."

She ran like hell, but not before I blocked her escape. I needed to make sure she was presentable and neat, so nobody would suspect that Captain Celibate had just finished fucking her. I had finally decided that my alter ego wasn't celibate, he just hid his conquests awfully well.

Therefore, I would continue to do so.

I joined the military when I was young, youthful and enthusiastic, wanting nothing more than to kill all the Bone-HeadsI could find. Promising my mother that I'd be the youngest General-Master in the history of the military, I had eagerly thrown myself into my career, waiting for my first chance to kill a Bone-Head and to see a Mind-Freak up close and personal.

That was far too many years ago for me to comfortably count, especially after a strenuous night like the one I'd just had. I had played Ship-Captain & Shuttlecraft with a security guard that probably wouldn't be able to sit comfortably for the next three days, and then Red had stopped by.

Enough pleasant day dreams, I'm tripping down memory lane right now.

I joined the Alexander right after I finished the Academy. My lieutenant bars were so new they squeaked when I put them on, and they were so frequently polished that the gleam from them would have blinded half the Minbari population. It was a plum assignment, as Lt. Colonel Ed Ryan was making a name for himself as an up and coming hotshot, guaranteed to be the one who everyone would be saluting, in a few years. Bill Hague had gotten his big promotion to the Chiefs of Staff, and Ryan was the new Commanding Officer of the Alexander, the biggest, baddest ship on our side.

Even those Big-Haired Centauri grew nervous when you mentioned the Alexander and a few of my fellow classmates from the Academy had openly wept into their beers when they heard where I was heading.

Jealousy - never a pretty emotion, but sometimes just so damn satisfying.

I joined the crew along with several other officers. Some were from the Academy, and the rest were transfers, and I was eavesdropping on the older officers' conversation when we first entered the Alexander. Lt. Colonel Ryan had a few personality quirks, but apparently was a decent enough person to a new officer who needed the edges rubbed off of him.

He wouldn't have to do that to me, of course, but some of my fellow officers had a rough time brewing, I was sure of it.

We were shuffled off to crew orientation where we were advised that the Executive Officer of the Alexander had sent a message to apologize that the Lt. Colonel was busy with an Inquisitor. One of the old salts suddenly hissed, and made a quick religious symbol, which earned a few chuckles from his fellow old timers. The rookies who were sitting on the other side of the table all looked at each other in concern.

The Inquisitors were the intermediaries between the Guides and the younger races. Didn't everyone hold them in the high regard? It had been drilled into my head since I was a small child that the Inquisitors were only to be feared by wrongdoers, not the innocent.

"I'd suggest that you don't let Galen see that gesture,"the Officer, who was obviously not thrilled about being stuck with doing the newbies' orientation, remarked. She was a pretty enough woman with brown hair, but nothing special. "Nor Elric or Alwyn."

"Of course not, Madam."

"Lt.? You were on the Prometheus, weren't you?&"

He nodded.

"Then I'd quietly remind you that your experiences are in the minority here, and the old Man would appreciate it if it stayed that way."

Stunned by the threat in her voice, I quickly looked at the Lieutenant, who was looking slightly pale.

"Of course, Madam. Never did I mean to."He was stammering in his haste to reassure her.

"Of course not. Now you're dismissed. Ryan will meet you all tomorrow at thirteen hundred hours in the Officers' Mess."

It wasn't surprising that I couldn't sleep, so I explored the ship trying to familiarize myself. Meandering throughout the ship, I finally decided that everyone was being too damn industrious, as everyone seemed far too busy to chitchat.

I stumbled across someone who was quietly shuffling cards in a break room. He could have dealt cards at New Las Vegas, as his hands were going a light-year a minute. The silent man had a wicked looking scar on his face, and he seemed light years away. Riffle shuffling, overhand shuffling, you name the technique, he was displaying perfect form while the cards were shuffled so fast and furiously I was surprised that the colors didn't bleed from the deck and that the gold from his wedding ring didn't melt onto the table. He was in the nondescript grays of off-duty military wear, and I noticed that he wasn't wearing any insignia.

Suddenly he looked up, and his mustache quirked into a slight smile when he recognized a fellow gambler.

"You must be new as I don't recognize the face. Play cards?"

"Somewhat..."I answered evasively.

"Pull up a chair, and we'll play a few hands."Flashing another smirk, the older man began dealing cards. "My fellow gamblers appear to be running late tonight. No doubt they're trying to keep Alex ship-shape and care-free, but it plays havoc on the weekly card game."

I watched his hands while he dealt, and I was glad to see that he didn't cheat. Alex? Must be nickname for the living ship known as the Alexander. Alex... I'd have to remember that for later.

"Not for charity, or for fun, either. Got some credits?"

"Absolutely."I assured him.


After a few hands, the regulars began pouring into the room. Quickly, I began detecting a few rules.

No rank. No names. No departments. No 'work' talk.

What so ever.

Not even a hair of any of that was mentioned, and I had the sneaking suspicion that I had fallen into a senior officer's card game. The lady with the crew cut and the hard eyes looked familiar to me, and I tried to place her.

Oh. Yeah. She was the Head of Security, I think. The sardonic brunette next to her was the Chief Medical Officer who was making a few disparaging comments about jarheads, which got the blonde with the southern drawl rather annoyed. Was he the Operations Officer? Or was he the Executive? Still the mustached man played on, and I hoped he wasn't who I thought he was because everyone at the table was giving him a modicum of respect that no one else was rating at the table. Everyone else was fair game, and they were drawing blood from all around, like circling card sharks, except for the blonde as the only person that teased him was the man with the mustache. Even I rated more than a few cuts, as the "Newbie".

Matt, you better get out of here, and quick, because I think you just won the last two hands from your new commanding officer.

My stomach was somewhere in the vicinity of my shoes, and I quickly made my escape. The group razzed me, commenting loudly about how I was leaving the scene of the crime far too quickly to be innocent, and the Security Head declared that she had figured out how I was cheating. Her description of how I cheated was rough and vivid, and I tried not to blush.

"No. He's not a Centauri, he can't be cheating with his dick,"The doctor declared over a few loud catcalls, and a growing demand from the peanut gallery for me to drop my pants to prove the Security Officer was correct. "Thinking with it, yes, it's a proven fact that all men think with their dick, but they can't play cards with it."

"Maybe."The Mustached Man laughed. "Goodnight, Matthew. See you tomorrow. 1300 hours."

I was half way to my quarters before I realized that I hadn't ever told him my name.

Please. Don't let him be Ed Ryan, because I really didn't want to tell him, "Hey, you still owe me from last night's poker game."

Not on my first day.

Nor on my second.

The next day found me a little short on sleep, as I was mentally hitting myself with a two by four for most of the night. Maybe it wasn't Ryan, because maybe I was just automatically thinking the worse. I hadn't seen a picture of him, so...

NEXT TIME! Mental Note - on your next new assignment, which might be happening quicker than you had hoped it, would, you will find out what your commanding officer looks like before you dock.

I didn't even have computer access yet, so I couldn't verify it that way.

Shit. Why me?

At thirteen hundred hours, I was in the Officers' Mess with the rest of the new shipment of officers, and I was getting more and more discouraged as each senior officer showed up.

Chief Medical Officer. Communications. Security, Linguistics. Science Officer. And the Executive Officer who was temporarily heading Operations.....

Oh damn it to hell, Mattie!

He's wearing the Black and the Scarlet! He's the goddamn ship's Assassin!

Yup. They had all been there last night in the card game, and two thirds of them still owed me credits. I figured I'd be magnanimous and not insist that the Executive-Officer-Assassin pay me what he owed me. The Security Head and I saluted, and then she whispered loudly. "The credits are already in your shipboard account. Make sure Doc pays. She's a little forgetful."

"Tamara, I'll remember this conversation next time that you need a body part replaced. But shame on you, do you think the Old Man would be happy if he heard what you were saying in front of a junior officer?" The Doctor nodded an acknowledgement of my perfect salute, and then I heard someone announcing Ryan's arrival.

I didn't want to look, so instead I looked at the young red head next to him.  She would have been breathtakingly attractive if not for the fact that she wore a leash. I realized that she must be the Avatar that was fused with the ship for only they were privileged to wear a 'leash'. My eyes followed the chain from her neck to where it was connected to a man's wrist, and they continued their way up the man's arm, until I saw his face, a face that was all too horrifyingly familiar. Dark Hair. Dark Eyes. Mustache. Scar.


No wonder he didn't fear making fun of the Assassin, for Ship-Assassin's were notoriously loyal to their Guild and their Masters.

Ryan was looking at me, and I saw that he appeared stone-faced, except for his eyes, which were highly amused, and that damn mustache of his was looking suspiciously crooked. He was laughing at me, I could tell, obviously enjoying watching the realization of exactly who he was hit me right between the eyes. Just tattoo 'Stupid-Dumb-Fuck-Hot-Shot' on my forehead and let it be over with.

I gave him my best salute and he openly smiled.


The blond Executive Officer appeared so quickly that I would have sworn that he teleported to the spot and he was smirking at my discomfort also.

Ok - I wasn't expecting Ryan's Executive Officer to be dressed in the guild colors of the Assassin profession, black and scarlet, nor to be displaying his number of kills so openly. He was in full dress uniform; proudly displaying the gold and scarlet handled knife that declared him a master of his trade. There was easily a two-meter circle around him, which no one seemed willing to disturb.

He had agreed with the Doctor last night, when she suggested that I had been cheating.

Shit! Matthew; he could have served your liver on toast for snacks.

"Yes, Captain?"

"Keep an eye on her. Feed her. Make sure she has something to drink."

With a indifferent throw, he tossed the leash to the Killer Marine, and the Avatar continued to stare downward at the floor. I was still at attention, Ryan circling around me, while in the background I could hear Randolph "Randy" Morrison quietly ordering the Avatar to eat.

"At ease."Ryan growled. "Go get something to eat as you look like you're going to pass out. Randy?"

"Yes, Captain!"

"Feed him also. Makes us look bad, if the junior officers are collapsing on their feet."

They had put on a lavish spread for the new officers, and Randy urged me to eat hearty. "Only decent food you'll get on the Alexander, Lt."

Morrison sounded perfectly normal, completely sane and even a bit sardonic, in fact, even though he wouldn't be wearing those particular colors unless his aptitude tests had shown that he was a natural born killer. Randy seemed to be pleasant and jovial, and the thought that he was a cold-blooded murderer, trained specifically by the Guides to kill was a hard one to swallow. Morrison had laughed the hardest last night during the poker game.

He was heaping food onto a plate, and I gave it an appraising look. It was a mishmash of different things and my stomach felt queasy looking at it. Or maybe it was because of the easy way that he used a long handled knife to slice and dice the choicest of the select cuts.

"Not for me. For the Avatar. Galen bred her yesterday, so the Old Man wants to make sure that she eats properly because her litter is going to be a new generation of Ship's Avatars. It was a high honor for our crew that our Avatar was selected, so Ryan's doesn't want anything to go wrong. I don't know what the hell to feed her, but I'm assuming she's having some sort of odd food craving."

"Sir, you're a bachelor, aren't you?"I asked.

"Hell, yes!"The Executive Officer flashed me a quick grin. "Think you can help me out? Ryan knows I'm a confirmed bachelor, but he ordered me to take care of this."

"Pickles. Plenty of pickles."I assured him.

"Good. You can help me, Lt." Morrison flashed me another grin, and so I found myself adding pickles to his plate. "It'll get me a chance to get to know you, as you're the new kid in the Ops department."

She wouldn't eat, and soon most of the senior staff began trying to tempt her into eating something. It became a game of sorts between the officers, as each tried get her to eat. Points were being awarded on originality, quantity and methods of achieving the goal. It was amusing, actually, to see one of the dangerous Mind-Freaks being treated like an award-winning bitch by the senior staff. Her hair, breasts and belly were stroked, and bets were placed on how many she'd drop and when, and what the sexes would be.

It was entertaining, until she turned a startling shade of green and began power puking. Morrison jumped back before it happened, nearly knocking over several of the female officers. He was a tall man, and broadly built so he would have easily hurt someone during the mini stampede that took place while she continued getting sick.

"Randy. She's throwing up." Ryan's voice sounded disapproving. "The idea was NOT to need Galen to show back up on the ship quite so soon, Randy."

"That's normal, isn't it? Right Doc?" Morrison asked hopefully.

My new commanding officer sighed, and then he spoke softly to the miserable Avatar who still looked ill and was kneeling on the floor. "Come on, come on."

She looked at him, and her frightened eyes were tearful. In the background, I could hear someone deciding that it was the quiche that had made her throw up and Ryan silenced them with a glare.

"Let's get you cleaned up. Come on, it's all right. Randy's not going to force feed you anymore. Come on, stand up. Tam - get me some water and towels. Diana, get some seltzer and some crackers, too."

Soothingly, Ryan continued talking to the Avatar while he cleaned her up. She was still on her knees, and Ryan was next to her. Lord, she was an absolute disgusting mess, and she smelled to high heaven also.

"Randy, help me get her off the floor."Ryan ordered. "Come on, come on. Let's get you out of here."

It took a little bit of effort between the two men, but they managed to pull her off the floor and into an upright position. Before I knew what was happening, I found myself in the bullet car with the three of them, and I was the one sitting next to the Mind-Freak.

Obviously, rank has its privileges, as Ryan and Morrison were sitting at a distance I guestimated to be outside the range of projectile vomiting. As low man on the Totem Pole, and designated Up-Start, Smart-Ass, Junior Officer, I was given the awesome responsibility of sitting next to her.

Shit. Somebody had given her something with garlic, and there's nothing quite as bad as the smell of garlic-vomit. I found that if I didn't breathe through my nose, it wasn't too bad.

Ok - it was, but I was trying to be manly, and ignore it.

"Randy. You're an idiot sometimes, do you know that?"

Ah? Sir? Do you think it's a wise idea to call him that? He might snap and after he killed you, he'd come after me.

"Sir, with all due respect, I'm not the person for this job. My mother always told me that I should never get married, and I've followed that advice for all these years. My role has been to be the crazy uncle the Marine for the last twenty odd years, and I'm quite happy with that. And so is my mother."

"Your mother... is... a wise woman."

"I know, but Ed, seriously, I know a few things about pregnancy. How to start it, more importantly, how to prevent it."Randy slapped his arm with his implant loudly, which earned a roll of Ryan's eyes, "That the woman puts on weight, and then this brat shows up one day on your door step and then they puke and shit all over you at any opportunity."Randy moved closer to Ryan and the two older men began speaking quietly.

Like any good junior officer, I eavesdropped while trying very hard not to inhale.

"Look, I know you don't want to go through this, but if you want someone to keep an eye on her, it's gonna have to be you. Forgive me for mentioning this, as I know it's a painful subject, but you were married, and you and Maggie..."

Ryan noticed that his stop was coming up and he cut the conversation off with a smooth hand gesture.

When we finally reached Ryan's quarters, the first thing he did was order his Avatar to get cleaned. Then I was surprised when both he and Randy made good on their gambling debts.

"First decent card game I've had in a while, as everyone's afraid of beating me." My new commanding officer had an easy laugh, I noticed, and I wondered how such an easygoing person commanded the battleship Alexander.

I had been on the crew for seven months when I was given a lesson first hand on how one should never confuse compassion with weakness. It was a hard-learned lesson, and one that I never will forget.

I was at lunch, eating with Morrison and the Avatar. No one usually sat with the Avatar except for the Executive Officer and Ryan, and I was one of the few people that didn't mind eating with Morrison. Yes, he was a killer, but he also was still the acting head of my department. In spite of his repeated protests to Ryan, Randy had been given 'Avatar-sitting' duties as he drolly called them, where he kept an eye on our prized brood mare. Everyone loved stroking her swollen belly and sometimes she grew skittish with all the attention she was receiving. A few times she had tried to 'hide' next to Randy, as he was her designated protector. Randy would then growl at the next outstretched hand, and sometimes he would do more than growl. I saw him break one ensign's fingers as he had gotten a little too familiar with our pregnant Avatar.

Plato once said, that for everything that exists, there is a perfect form of it somewhere. A perfect human being, a perfect chair, a perfect stick, so that everything is a shadow of that one perfect form. Now, if we follow that train of thought, that means that somewhere in the universe there exists the perfect form of the perfect absolute and complete idiot. And his name was Harold McDonald.

The Lieutenant from the Prometheus, Hal McDonald had been specifically brought onboard the Alexander to take over the Operations department but he still wasn't performing up to Ryan's high standards. Perhaps I should restate that. Eddie's standards weren't really that hard. He demanded perfection from everyone.

Simple, sweet and to the point.

I had just gotten my first crew evaluation, in which both Ryan and Morrison had rather cautiously commented that I showed.... Potential.

I had been on the Alexander long enough to realize that was high praise indeed from those two and I had eagerly waited to find out what the scuttlebutt was on McDonald's review. Morrison appeared pleasant to Hal, but I could tell that it was an act.

He blew in the cafeteria, and Hal was pissed. The way he talked, the way he walked, and his general attitude toward the universe plainly said that everyone was against him. Even his usual cronies weren't sitting with him, probably because even they were tired of him.

Some people when they get angry, their brains go completely on autopilot, and Hal was on warp speed. He swore and cursed everyone and everything and then, he started mouthing off on Ryan. I had to admit that I liked Eddie Ryan. He was pleasant though strict, and I had heard enough about how he had earned the scar on his face to make me respect him. When Hal started trash talking, I grew annoyed but... Randy laughed at Hal, which got Hal even more upset.

Hal then got even rougher with some of his comments. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that there appeared to be a mass exodus out of the room.

Randy, on the other hand, suddenly turned quiet and stopped laughing. Up until Hal showed up, he had been teasing the Avatar into eating, coaxing her rather than trying to force it down her throat. The Ship's Assassin had an odd bond with the Avatar, as both of them were Guide trained and after his first disastrous and messy experience with Avatar sitting, Randy tried to be very gentle with her. But still she feared him, I could tell by the way she looked at him warily, as though the Avatar thought he was... rabid.

Hal never did know when to shut his trap, and that's what sealed his fate. His pig eyes landed on the very pregnant Avatar and then he began loudly commenting on Ryan's 'substitute wife.' It was known throughout the ship that her master treated the Alexander's Avatar pretty decently. Unlike other ships, the crews were not allowed to 'play' with the Avatar. Instead, it was accepted that she was Ryan's and Morrison's private property.

While I would have liked to try the Mind-Freak out, there was no way in hell that I was going to argue with Morrison's knives and poisons. If Ed wanted pillow talk with his Avatar, then good for him. A few of the long time crew members claimed that Hague had given Ed the Avatar after his wife died in the hopes of keeping the grieving man from self-destructing.

The Executive Officer's face was grim, and somehow faster than I thought humanly possible, he had jumped from where he was sitting to where McDonald was busy denouncing Ryan's alleged relationship with his Avatar. To this day, I'm not sure what exactly I saw, but the look on McDonald's face when his neck was broken by Morrison haunted my dreams for weeks. I never would have guessed that I would relive this experience repeatedly for the next month and hearing that odd snapping noise that meant his neck had been snapped.

The second in command of the Alexander easily cracked Hal's neck with his bare hands, without breaking into a sweat.

And when time resumed, Hal was lying dead at Randy's feet, his neck in an angle that plainly said that Randy had just killed one of his crew.

Oh, bloody hell. What the hell was going to happen now?

The Head of Security, Tamara McAllen and Ed Ryan were there within minutes, and the two of them sealed off the room. Randy had calmly called for both of them to respond to the cafeteria as an 'incident' had occurred that required their immediate attention. Then he began stripping himself of his weapons, and he sank to his knees in a pose of obsequiousness.

Ryan entered the room first, and he checked McDonald's body. He did so quickly, even though nothing short of direct intervention from the Great Maker was going to salvage this situation.

"Tamara. What do you think?" His voice was quiet, and I could tell that he was furious over what had happened. "Galen's due shortly to check up on the Avatar. Shit. He always shows up when he's least wanted."

"Who witnessed it?" She snapped.

I was trying to sink into the floor, in a futile attempt not to be seen, but Ryan snapped off. "One Witness. Gideon. They'll never take the Avatar's word on anything she saw, so ... what to do with him."

The two of them looked at me intently, and Ryan then turn his angry eyes toward his XO, then shook his head. "Damn it to hell, Randy. You know what they're going to do to you. If you're lucky, the Inquisitors will just mind wipe you, but they'll probably execute you because you're not supposed to be able to kill your own crew. You broke the conditioning, Randy, they'll fucking destroy you and claim that they put down because you're rabid."

"Defense. Randy did it in defense of the Avatar." Tamara spoke quickly, her mind going a thousand light years a minute.

"EXPLAIN," growled Ryan.

"Hal hated her, we've got witnesses on that." The head of the Alexander's Security spoke quickly. "Gideon will agree to it, won't you? Morrison tried to stop him, but Hal went wild, and in the scuffle, his neck was broken."

"Won't work. The conditioning is supposed to ensure that doesn't happen."

"Accidents occur...accidentally." Tamara commented.

Ryan debated for a moment. "Galen? We need to do something with both of them before he shows up, and make sure they're not easily accessible."

"Ship Confinement."

"Whip them, then confine them. Ten lashes for Gideon for being an accessory, then twenty-five for Morrison. Call the troops in, they're going to have to witness this. Get Diana involved, and make sure she gives them an antibiotic, because they're going to be Ship Confined for a month."

It happened quickly with the Doctor prepping both of us for our punishment. I hadn't been sure what Ryan was planning, and Randy was mute. She pressed something rubbery and black into my hand, whispering at me to place it in my mouth before Ryan started whipping me.

"It'll help you not to scream if you bite down on it before you get whipped. It's the only thing I can do for you, understand?"

"Yes, Doctor."

Diana grew quieter, and she whispered, "This is the best he can do for both of you. Realize that."

That was really reassuring. What the hell did ship confinement mean? There had been the occasional quarter confinements, but never ship confinement.

My insignia was ripped from my uniform, and soon Randy and I were standing in front of our peers while McAllen read the 'charges' - Matthew Gideon deemed guilty of accessory to accidental manslaughter for failing to stop the situation, and Randolph Morrison guilty of accidental manslaughter. Nobody really seemed that upset about Hal's death, except for Hal, as no doubt he was bitching in the afterlife.

Ryan spoke to the crew at length about how Hal's death never should have occurred. We were fighting the Others, not ourselves. He warned the crew that what was about to happen to us was to be a picnic compared to what would happen to anyone who thought to break the peace.

Oh shit. I'm in for it now.

One of the quirks of being a senior officer besides the officer's cudgel was the whip. Ryan always wore his, and I never saw him use it. Until now. He took it off his belt, and he handed it to Tamara.

"The Barbed one, please."

She gave him a nasty looking one with barbs, and I found myself trying not to look at it.

Swinging it expertly, Ryan hit Morrison with it. Randy tightened up during the impact, and I saw that he was bleeding freely.

"ONE!"Tamara began screaming the count, while I quickly grew nauseous. I tried to block the count out, but Ryan appeared to be getting his second and third wind while he whipped his Executive Officer raw. Randy didn't say anything, but toward the tenth blow of the whip I noticed that he was wobbling. By number fifteen, Randy had passed out cold and I thought a few of the new recruits were going to join him.

"Diana. Revive him, please."Ed's voice was ice cold, and the doctor quickly moved to Randy's side. He had wounds on his back in which I saw the bone and muscle peeping through.

Whatever she gave him worked like a charm, as he was standing unsteadily on his feet in a few minutes.

"That last one didn't count, as he blacked out. Keep counting, Tamara."

Thankfully, Randy managed to make it until the count of twenty-five, actually twenty-six, without fainting again, and then it was my turn.

"Gideon could have prevented this, but he didn't. We must be held to a higher moral code, for we are free humans, free from implants and free from the conditioning that our Assassins receive. Therefore, Matthew Gideon has been declared guilty of the crime of being an accessory. Tamara. You may begin the count."

I didn't black out when the first blow landed, nor did I scream even though it felt like Ed was trying to fillet my back. I was a goddamn Earth Force Officer, and I wouldn't shame myself further by being weak or cowardly. Instead, I chewed through the mouth block I had been given, refusing to allow myself to scream.

Sometime later, I found myself being revived by Diana. The only shred of comfort I had was that I had blacked out AFTER Ryan had finished whipping me and I had done so only after the two ensigns in the front row had fainted.

Manacled together, Randy and I were being pulled through the ship by McAllen and Ryan who were urging us to move faster, faster, faster!

Eddie, you try running through the Alexander with your back shredded. Let's see how that works. How fast would you run?

"Come on, move it. Galen's arriving early. Move it. Faster! FASTER! That's a goddamn order!"

Stumbling, Randy began moving faster, dragging me along with him, and Ryan still urged us to move ever quicker.

"Almost there. Come on, just a few hundred meters."

Blearily, I put one foot after the other, blindly following Randy until we were ordered to stop. I tried not to gasp for breath, as each movement caused my back to hurt more. I felt dizzy, so I closed my eyes. There was the sound of our handcuffs being removed, and I tried not to open my eyes, as I was worried about what was going to happen next.

"Stop. For now. Take a breath." Ryan ordered softly. "Did you talk to him?"

"Yes, Master. I did."

The Avatar? What the hell was she doing here?

"Does he understand what I need of him? That they are not to be released until their time has been served? No one must countermand that order, not Galen, not the Guides."

"He understands, and warns you to hurry. Galen is about to step onboard."

"Always shows up when he's least wanted."Tamara softly commented.

"Alex. I wish to thank you for your assistance in this matter and I acknowledge that I am in your debt, once again."

Master-Ryan. I serve. No debts owed.

"Thank you. Now you two, remember to breathe. Don't fight it, whatever you do. And while you're in there for the next month, pray to whatever gods you believe in that Galen's not the first thing you see in thirty days."

I opened my eyes, and I saw something dark and multi-tentacled inhale Randy. It was the only way to describe it, and he fought like hell against whatever it was. Whatever it was, the ALEXANDER, I reminded myself, as it appeared I was in the 'brain' of the ship, easily overpowered Randy. Morrison appeared to be in a vacuole of sorts, and he was curled up into the fetal position. He was screaming, whether in terror or in pain, I would soon find out, as the tentacles were reaching for me.

The Alexander reached for me, and it was gentle as it encapsulated me even though I fought like crazy. I screamed, and Randy continued to yell for what seemed like years, until at last our voices broke, and we could physically scream no more. Mentally, I continued to wail and keen until at last, physically and mentally exhausted, I fell asleep where I dreamed of a man being killed over and over again.

Whatever I was floating in, appeared to be heavily laced with sedatives. I wasn't frightened when I woke up and found that I was breathing a liquid. In the back of my mind, a voice was trying to scream that this was abnormal, but I ignored it. Trying to focus my eyes, I realized that I wasn't alone in the murky darkness, because there was another figure floating past me.

The figure was sleeping, his body wrapped in the fetal position, and for a moment, I thought I remembered his name, but then I fell asleep again.

Time drifted, and I found myself hearing voices while I floated. The Alexander focused randomly on different people, and appeared to enjoy eavesdropping on scenes of startling intimacy. Apparently Tamara and Diana had a relationship that shocked me with its intensity.  But not all of the scenes I witnessed were pleasant to view especially the ones that dealt with me.


Ryan. I understand that there's been a death on board your ship.

The incident report deemed it accidental, and I agreed.

Where are the two involved? I wish to speak with them directly. I understand that your... Assassin was involved. The Guides will not be happy to find that he broke his conditioning. Accidents speak of recklessness and carelessness, which the Guides will not approve of.

I'm afraid Galen, that my justice is swift. Both of them have been whipped and they're now in Ship Confinement for one month. The Alexander has them completely secured and they are both in isolation where both of them may reflect on their mistake. At the end of the month, if they are not suitably repentant, I will place them back into confinement.

You moved too quickly, as you should have waited until I arrived before meting out their punishments. This haste of yours concerns me, Ryan. Are you trying to hide something, perhaps? Your vitals appear elevated. Your heart races, your voice analysis shows stress. Do you dare to lie to the Inquisitor, Ryan?

Inquisitor Galen. A delay in the disposition of their punishment until you arrived would have sent a loud message to my crew, that I am not the one in command of this vessel. The accident was investigated, the trial by the senior officers swift, and the punishment given.

 As for my physical state, you should be well aware of my old injuries from the Rebel Uprising including the fact that my right shoulder was broken in several places.  Perhaps, Galen, you have forgotten about my chronic problem with my shoulder and that I am right-hand dominant. What you may view as the vitals of a liar, I know to be the signs of someone who is extreme pain. I can barely move my right arm, Galen, but as their commanding officer, I had to be the one to punish them. By the Code, Galen, I swear upon my soul that everything points to what occurred as an unfortunate accident.


As deep as space, and the Alexander suddenly tensed when Galen began to laugh.


The Alexander hated Galen, feared for Ryan, and disliked those who he held in confinement for they had caused his beloved Master pain and for the despised Galen to arrive.  The vacuole shifted, and I began to scream as the Alexander decided to punish those who had caused his beloved Master pain.

In the background, I could hear the sound of Randy howling in pain, too. The agony continued in a mighty crescendo until mercifully, I blacked out.


No answer. A feeling of annoyance, combined with the agony of an old injury aggravated plus the bitter taste of guilt.


A little louder and a little more forceful as though the male voice believed that perhaps she hadn't heard him.


You know, after all these years, I'd hope you'd know how to answer me when I say Hello. Do you know the proper way of answering? Have you not learned it by now?


Growing annoyance combined with the understanding that it was futile to get angry with her.

You're supposed to answer. I say Hello, and you answer with 'Ed. How was your day?' And I'd answer you with a pleasant inanity about how wonderful my day was. So, let's try it shall we?



How... was ... your day.... Master?

I had a wonderfully horrible day today. My Executive Officer decided to murder someone, over riding years of conditioning by doing so, and Matthew Gideon just stood by and let him. So to prevent the two of them from being punished by Galen, I fucking whipped them until they both passed out, three of the new recruits blacked out and I apparently re-injured my bad shoulder in the process. Gideon probably would have been sent for a few rounds of conditioning, but they would have had to put Randy down.


The man collapsed in a chair, sticking his feet on the coffee table, and he tried to untie his boots one handed, succeeding only in tightening the knot. Frustration, anger and pain boiled within him.

Do you know why they'd put Randy down?


Do you have any idea why they'd put my Executive Officer down? They'd kill him, then place his brain in a jar, and try to figure out how that little chip in his head burned out. If they hadn't caught him during his years at the Academy, and put that little chip in his head, he'd probably already be dead or mind-wiped.


Jesus Christ! What the hell did I ever do to anyone to end up on the Alexander?  My wife and children long since dead, and an Executive Officer who's a PSYCHOPATH, who loves to butcher people, but apparently over-rode the Guides' finest conditioning to kill someone. I have never ever heard of an Assassin who has managed to break his Guild conditioning. It's not suppose to happen, damn it! Do you know what would happen if word of this got out?

And... and... the goddamn person I see just about every single moment of my life doesn't TALK to me. She just looks at me like I have three FUCKING head and we're all singing Narn Opera.

Silence again, with the taint of embarrassment. He knew full well that it was useless to get angry with her, but the pain in his shoulder was clouding his judgement.

So, do you know why Randy killed him? Do you have any idea why an Assassin would break five years of training to do so?

No... Master.

Because McDonald commented on the fact that you're my substitute wife. So dear, kind, deeply disturbed Randy decided to kill him for that comment, because Randy says that I'm his only friend in the entire goddamn universe. He murdered someone because he thought McDonald had insulted my dead wife.

Because... because... dear, sweet Randy had placed Maggie on a pedestal, and he thought Hal should die for comparing you to Maggie. Do you understand what is going on here? Assassin do not kill over mere insults!


Bitter laughter.

You don't even talk to me. What the hell have I ever done to you? I've never hit you, never yelled at you, and I know that you come to my bed willingly, so why the hell are you always afraid of me? Do you want me to order you about? If it makes you happy, I will do so. Substitute Wife, you will attend to my every wish, starting with untying the laces on my boots, and you will do so cheerfully.

Yes, Master.

Substitute Wife of mine, may Maggie forgive me for calling you that, you will learn to have a conversation with me. You will massage my shoulder tonight, and you will bring me that bottle of Scotch as I plan on getting absolutely shit faced. Ah, the joys of Command, so vastly over-rated, and so goddamn few.

Part of ship's confinement required that I relive the incident in which McDonald had been killed. Over and over again, until I could pinpoint that certain moment when I could have made a difference; a simple word, a gesture of some sort, and Morrison would have not murdered. The first few times I repeated it, I thought there were a few subtle variations in each repeat but I wasn't sure. My mind felt... foggy possibly due to the sedatives I was breathing.

Time flowed differently in the vacuole and I spent a lot of time thinking about the relationship between Ryan, Morrison and the Alexander's Avatar. Ryan snapped his fingers, and both of them jumped. The Avatar was a perfect picture of how an Avatar should behave, meek, mild and completely whipped.

So dear, kind, disturbed Randy decided to kill him for that comment, because Randy says that I'm his only friend. He fucking murdered someone for me because he thought that's what a friend should do.

Therefore if I ever became a Captain-Master, I'd do what Ryan had done. I considered it the second most important lesson of my life. Ensure my Assassin's complete loyalty as that way I had some protection against the use of murder in officer promotions.

There was an irregular contraction in the wall of the vacuole and I fought against it.  It was a futile waste of energy, but Randy and I still vainly struggled. Then I felt like I was being born, thrust from the warmth and darkness of the womb into the cold, brightness of the real world. I felt slimy and cold as I realized that I was completely naked. Whatever I had been swimming in for the last month had dissolved everything I had been wearing, including my boots. Everything and I then saw something that looked like a very wet, very naked Randy Morrison in front of me and his open wounds had faded to thin, white scars.


Randy Morrison. Matthew Gideon.

Our two voices were raw but still we answered as we had been trained to do so.


To serve, now and forever.


You, Master.



Randy crawled to Ryan's feet and he kissed them in a gesture of complete obedience and not to outdone by anyone, I copied his gesture. Taking a quick look at Randy, I guessed that I looked like hell. Unshaven, the whites of his eyes, the sclera, were blood red and he was damned thin.

The sound of Galen's laughter filled the air, and I cringed.

"When they're clean, I'll want to speak with them."

"Absolutely, Galen." Ryan assured him.

"How's that shoulder of yours?"

"Fine. Just completely fine."

Galen questioned me repeatedly, and it took a few minutes for me to gather my thoughts enough to be able to answer him. Yes. Hal had gotten abusive. He had tried to hit the Avatar, and Randy had protected her as Ryan had commanded him to do. Hal's neck had been broken in a fluke accident.

Hal had moved the wrong way, and Randy had killed him accidentally.

For a moment, I thought I remembered something different, but after reliving it so often while in Ship's Confinement, I was able to answer quickly and confidently. Galen didn't seem to believe me, so after the sixth time of repeating what happened, I grew annoyed but I tried to hide it. Every question he asked, I answered the same way, even when he tried to shade it with various nuances, and stress certain words. I think I bored Galen, and I was rather happy to do so.

Finally he wearied of my parroting the identical spiel over and over again, and then he dismissed me.

Galen left soon afterward, with a look of annoyance. It probably blew one of his circuits to be forced to admit that the death had been a complete fluke. Then Ed Ryan proceeded to rip Randy and I, new assholes in assorted sizes and locations, just so we knew that he was really pissed at the two of us.

For the next six months, Randy and I did every shit job on the Alexander, and I was quite happy to do so.

After a few years, I worked my way up to where I was the third in command on the good ship Alexander. Randy wasn't going anywhere, as someone with his specialty would never be given command of a vessel. To be a good assassin, you needed to have a complete lack of respect for human life.

Would you really want someone like that in command of a vessel with a crew of several hundred people?

I ended up on the Cerberus with Captain Rodrigo Belmonte and it was there that I learned my third most important lesson.

Galen could try to blame Roddie for what happened, even claim Avatar error for the ship's destruction, but I knew the truth. That Avatars are willful and deceptive creatures, and they'd willing kill their ship and crew at the first sign of weakness. The only way to prevent that was to break them.

Because as the lone survivor of the Cerebus, I knew what had really happened. The Avatar had purposely committed suicide so he'd take the entire ship down with him.

And like Hell, I would ever let that happen again on my ship.

{1 And so it Begins} {2 Captain-Master & Executive Officer} {3 Captain-Master & Assassin} {4 Battle Fatigue} {5 Story of an Avatar} {6 Story of a Captain-Master} {7 Interlude} {8 General-Master & Assassin} {9 Babylon 5} {10 Lines are Drawn} {11 Alliances are Made} {12 Seeds of Rebellion} {13 The Storm Breaks} {14 Battle of the Light Brigade} {15 "Theirs but to Do and Die"} {16 "Valley of Death"} {17 "Jaws of Death"} {18 Finale}

{The Main Gate} {HomePage} {Wytches World} {We are Family} {A Little Artistic Licence} {No, we don't mean "A"riadne} {Our Home Is Our Castle} {The Witches' Diary} {Witches Familiars} {The Gateway} {Webrings}