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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14


Written by Elena Zovatto
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 2

Some hours later, their mystery guest still slept in sickbay. McCoy incredulously pored over her condition.

"Incredible…by the computer's calculation and the pod's own memory banks, she'd been in there for a couple of centuries, and that's a conservative estimate. That thing wasn't built for extensive use, and it appears that a few hours of sleep are all that she needs to recover. That shouldn't even be possible…"

"Even so, that appears to be what happened. Until she wakes up and can answer some questions, I took the precaution of disarming her," stated Bishop.

"Ah got questions all right. Why did she call Remy 'brother' ?"

"Wish I knew, chère. Gambit's only brothers an' sisters be in the Guild, dat I know of…I don' like it. I'm tellin' you, she was in my head - diff'rent than Jean or the Prof - but she was."

"Strange then, that none of us felt any mental probing. Why settle on you, LeBeau? "

"Joseph, if I knew that, I know I'd be a whole lot happier m'self."

"Well, from these readings, she's just waking, so now is the time. Come one, come all, for what shall undoubtedly be a tale of a fateful trip…"

"Blue, give it a rest..."

Nomi was tired. She had no idea how long she had been in the survival pod, but she suspected that it was a great deal longer than she had anticipated. Mind you, she didn't think she had much to complain about -- she was alive, after all. She would still be there for her daughter.

* Vima will be so worried ...*

Dimly, she recalled falling into the Sith ambush. In the battle that followed, she had defeated her enemies, but her ship had been battered into a useless hulk -- right on the edge of the Kesmiri wormhole. The Lightside Explorer, or what was left of her, was already starting to break up when she abandoned ship. The only survival pod that was still in usable condition had suffered circuit damage, and the pod thrusters were completely useless that close to the event horizon.

The only possible route was through the wormhole.

No one had even known if it were possible to survive wormhole transit, but since the only other alternative was certain death, it hadn't been a tough choice for her to make at the time.

* Although I guess I've settled the transit question. After all, I'm here -- wherever 'here' is ... * she thought wryly.

She couldn't remember much of the trip through. To ensure that the pod remained operable despite its circuit damage, she had had to take some drastic action -- though she was sure Master Thon's lessons on using the Force to separate from your body weren't actually intended for the use she had put them to ... living in a circuit board was definitely overrated.

She knew nothing beyond that -- keeping the circuit functional, so that her body would also survive. Time really was meaningless in such a state, and she had no idea how long she had so existed , or how much longer she would have had to endure. Had it not been for the presence she had detected in what remained of her awareness...

Unfortunately, she couldn't remember much of her rescuers, except for one -- her body and spirit had been through too much. She hadn't even had the presence of mind to speak Standard, but had used Bothan instead, since that was the last language she had spoken...

As she slowly regained awareness of her surroundings, she hoped that somehow she would be able to get a message back to Yavin to reassure Vima -- and to find out if her friends had managed to defeat the Sith Lords in her absence.

* I'm sure Cay and the others have been taking good care of her ... I hope they're all right...*

With Hank and the others gathered about the bed in sickbay, the newcomer gradually returned to consciousness. Her eyes fluttered. Slowly, she shook her head and sat up, strangely unconcerned about the rather outlandish collection of strangers surrounding her.

Hank was first to break the silence.

"How do you feel, Madam?"

Her reply was hoarse, but clear -- and in English, to the surprise of the others.

"Like I've been wrestling a gundark ... but all things considered, I'll take it. Thank you. Where are we ?"

" Tha answer to that question is unfortunately, 'we don't know yet' -- we were blown off-course when we happened to find you."

The woman smiled.

"For which accident, I'm thankful. You saved my life."

"Remy's the one who spotted ya -- we all just pulled you in."

The stranger turned directly toward Gambit when she answered.

" Indeed... thank you."

Remy was suddenly acutely uncomfortable. How had she known which one he was? No one had offered any names yet ... maybe she only remembered seeing him when woke up before, and just drew her own conclusions. Suspicious nonetheless, he answered her in a perfectly neutral tone of voice. After all, there was definitely one answer he wanted from her -- no sense in being antagonistic ...

"Jus' had a naggin' feelin' I had t'check out, dat's all chère…I'm glad I did. I got another naggin' feelin' now -- why did you call me 'brother' before? "

She looked at the Cajun intently for a moment, as if making some kind of judgement, before she replied.

"To answer that will take some explaining on my part, and that will involve me doing some catching up first. However, I will answer your question in full, Remy LeBeau. I owe you that much at least."

At this, Gambit's eyes flashed in anger.

"I don' like people goin' in my head, chère, 'specially when dey not invited. How do you know my name? " he asked harshly.

"A good question ... just who are you ?" Bishop said menacingly.

"My name is Nomi Sunrider, but that isn't important right now. Are your communications up? I have to get a message through to the Yavin system -- I have to talk to my daughter."

Beast looked at her pityingly.

" Madam ... I'm afraid that may not be possible."

She turned toward him questioningly.

"What do you mean?"

" I'm not sure how to say this, Madam ..."

She interrupted.

"Please -- call me Nomi."

"Very well -- Nomi -- you were in that pod for a long time..."

Her eyes darkened in sudden understanding, and her face went white.

"How long?" she asked in a tight voice.

Beast spoke as gently as he could, but he knew there was no way to lessen the impact of his words.

"By our best estimate -- a minimum of three hundred years ..."

At this, Nomi appeared to shrink back into herself in shock. She lay back on the bed, her hands to her eyes.

* Vima ... oh Vima ... *

In her pain, she did the only thing she could for solace -- she reached out with the Force, hoping to find some trace of the essence that had been her little girl. She was not disappointed -- Vima may have died long ago, but Nomi felt the echo of her daughter's love in the atmosphere around her, assuaging her grief.

After a few minutes, she regained control of herself, and opened her eyes again, to find her rescuers looking awkwardly away from her -- except for one.

Like the others, Gambit sympathized with the woman, but something had just happened when she had collapsed, and what, he didn't know -- it was like there had been a change in the air. Whatever it was, it drew him toward Nomi, despite his earlier anger, and sustained suspicion.

" Y' going t' be okay, chère ?"

She nodded with a weak smile.


Beast cleared his throat to gain Nomi's attention.

" I suppose introductions are in order ... the lady on the left is called Deathbird -- Viceroy of the Shi'ar Imperium -- which was the point of origin of our journey. To your right are in order, Rogue, Joseph and Bishop. The lady at my side is Trish Tilby, I am Dr. Henry McCoy ... and you appear to know Remy ..."

She noted the air of suspicion in the room, and the lingering question in the man's voice.

" And you want to know how," she replied easily.

" Er, yes ..." replied Beast, taken off-guard by her forthrightness.

" As I said earlier, I will provide you with an explanation. But before I can -- I'm going to have to sort out what reality I'm in, if that makes any sense," she said carefully.

" I've never heard of this 'Imperium' -- I only know the systems which united and expanded into the Republic ..."

" Which I have never heard of!" Deathbird countered haughtily.

" There's many a system between Core and Rim," Nomi interjected softly.

" I'm simply trying to discover how far I am from my home planet ...and I would appreciate any help in that effort."

" Well, we have other problems ourselves -- namely, trying to fix this bucket of bolts so we can go home," Trish pointed out.

Nomi nodded her head in agreement, then turned her attention to Gambit.

" Granted -- but you will have your explanation, Remy -- as soon as I am able to give it. You have my word."

Remy LeBeau had seen too much of life to like that collateral from a stranger -- but he reached out with his power and found sincerity -- and hope? -- in her words. Suddenly, he was aware of her piercing gaze upon him. Distracted, he broke off his exploration of her feelings, to find her looking at him with a small, knowing smile.

" Okay, chère," he said softly.

" We play your way, f' now."

Hank again broke the silence that threatened to descend.

" Well, Ms. Sunrider, as your physician, I would say that you could use a good meal. Perhaps we can all exchange information over dinner ? "

A loud growl escaped the woman's stomach, and she blushed, embarrassed.

" That would be wonderful ."

As the eight made their way to the ship's galley, Hank's voice could be heard in the hallway.

" Perchance, have you ever heard the story of Rip van Winkle ?"


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