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The TOC Files 19: Accepted Time

Title: For All Time
Series: The TOC Files
Word Count 5446
Summary The TOC return from their last mission to find Earth has been invaded


XIX. Accepted Time
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
II Corinthians, 6:2


The four travelers stared at the room. How could so much dust gather in three days? "Something really weird is going on here," remarked Alan Kelly, the ranking officer, as he walked about the room, reading the graffiti.

Shannon Flynn, the only woman, said, "I feel like I'm in an episode of The Twilight Zone," revealing her 20th century origins.

Eric Rader looked at a slim watch-like device on his wrist. "I think I've discovered the problem. My machine is reading December 1st."

"What?" Alan turned and looked at the final member. "Ryan, I thought you said you knew how to set the coordinates."

"I do. Remember, I had one of my own before I joined you," Ryan answered his brother.

"Yeah, though I'm trying to forget. What did you do?"

"I programmed in the month, day--"

"That's the American way! These are set up for the British way--day, month, year!"

"I'm sorry. I guess it's from all that time spent in the States."

"Now that we've figured out how we skipped the whole year," said Alan, "we've got to find out what happened while we were gone."

"Earthquake?" asked Shannon.

"No cracks or any other signs of stress on the walls," answered Eric.

"We are in definite trouble, guys," declared Ryan as he pointed to some graffiti: TABBIES GO HOME.

"What's a Tabby?" asked Shannon.

"That's short for Taborzan," said Eric. "It looks like their invasion was a success."

Alan, who had forgotten that he was sent on a temporal mission instead of being able to fight, cursed his ill luck. "If only I could have been there."

"Why? It couldn't have done any good," said Shannon. "I know you're a fabulous pilot, but one wouldn't have made a difference against a fleet."

"I guess you're right, but it would have made me feel better about it."

"That sounds prophetic," said Ryan pointing to another piece of graffiti, one in bright red. BEHOLD, NOW IS THE ACCEPTED TIME; BEHOLD, NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION.

"Corinthians," said Shannon.

"This woman certainly knows her Bible," remarked Eric.

"Catholic upbringing." Explosions sounded from outside. "What's that?"

"I'm not sure, but it makes a great diversion," answered Alan as he cracked open the door and peered out. "Perfect. The coast is clear."

"Our best bet would be to head in the opposite direction which would lead us to the back lot. Hopefully, the guards there will have gone to check the explosions as well," said Eric.

"Let's quit yapping and go," hissed Ryan. "They could come back at any moment."

"Okay. Keep quiet."

Alan led them through the corridors of the Base, now headquarters for the dreaded Taborzan. They made it safely outside without being spotted and stayed in the cover of the other buildings as they headed for the chain-link fence that ran the perimeter of the Base. Ryan spotted a hole just wide enough for them to squeeze through.

A whistle pierced the air and they heard someone shout, "Over here!" A man with shoulder-length blond hair stood up out of the long grass across the street and waved. They ran over and, as they got closer, recognized him. "Thank God you made it out. For awhile I thought I guessed wrong about what happened to you."

"What happened to us? Gil, what happened here?" asked Alan.

"Hold on. Down into the grass."

The five lay on their stomachs and Shannon looked through the blades at the base to see three figures running towards the fence. As one turned to face their hiding place, she lost her breath--it was a magnificent creature. It was about six-feet tall and its face was a strange cross between that of a man and a cat. Its hands--or paws--gripped what she guessed was a laser rifle. When it turned to face its compatriots, she noticed the tail.

"Don't let their looks fool you," whispered Eric. "They're fierce fighters."

"Most cats are, I guess."

"Okay, it's safe now." Gil stood and began to walk across the field. Alan couldn't get over the change in his friend. He had always been a whiz in the lab but a little lost when it came to the "outside world"--an absent-minded professor. Now he was taking part in a raid!

"C'mon, Gil, tell us what happened," said Ryan.

"As you can tell, the Tabbies won. After you left, the majority of the ships were sent to intercept them before they got too far into Alliance air space. We were too late. Somehow, some of the Taborzan warships made it to ______ where they were hidden from our tracking devices. They waited until the main force was too far away for recall and attacked.

"Evan tried to convince your mother to take shelter, or at least move into the country where it's safer, but she refused. She's okay and leads a normal life--or at least as normal as it can be with the Tabbies watching her all the time."

"Why would they be watching Mom?" asked Alan.

"They know about you and what you've done. That's why they guard the TOC room; they're waiting to capture you."

"I still don't understand," said Eric. "Why are we such a big deal?"

"Aside from the pockets of resistance, you represent hope to the general public. It's considered a test of courage to break into the room and leave a message."

"That explains the graffiti," remarked Shannon.

"Right." Gil slowed as they reached a culvert. "Here's home.

"Hey, I recognize this place," said Ryan. "We used to play in the old underground tunnels."

"You sly devil," said Alan, his voice filled with admiration. "I'd forgotten about these."

"So had everyone else. Evan helped me move the stuff here and it's been home for the past ten months." He walked into the tunnel, his footsteps echoing.

"Evan's here?" asked Ryan.

"Yes. As a matter of fact, he was setting off the explosions."

The tunnel opened into a large room that was cluttered with Gil's equipment. He took them further to where the tunnel forked, taking them left. "That would take you to the rear exit. Up here are the living quarters." The room was divided into stalls along one side and each had a cot and a chest of drawers.

"It looks as if you were expecting company," remarked Eric.

"Do you think I'd let you guys return without a safe place to stay? I tried to bring what I could--a few comforts of home." A beeping came from the lab. "Someone's coming."

The others followed Gil to the lab where he turned on a monitor. "Sensor-activated cameras," said Ryan. "Nice touch."

The cameras showed a man who was dressed in well-worn clothes. He spotted the camera and smiled, shedding the years from his face. Alan and Ryan walked down the tunnel and greeted their older brother Evan. "It's good to see you," he said as he hugged them. "All of you," he added to include Shannon and Eric. "We thought we'd lost you."

"I guess this means you've retired from the diplomacy biz," said Eric.

"As a diplomat, you have to work for the government, and since the present 'arrangement' didn't agree with me, I left. I'm a soldier first, after all."

"That was a great diversion, but how did you know when we'd return?" asked Alan.

"When you didn't arrive at the designated time, we waited around for as long as we dared. While we were sorting through your rooms, we found a note Ryan had written, but the dating was strange. We then realized that he did it American-style," explained Evan.

"We guessed that Ryan finally persuaded you into letting him set the return date," finished Gil with a smile.

"So, are you guys the complete resistance here, or what?" asked Shannon.

"No, there are plenty more throughout the city. Because we're known entities, we decided on this hiding place. We kept it secret so no one will be able to turn us over."

"We even created a fictional leader so if any of our drop points are located, they can't be traced back to us."

"But how to you go about without being recognized?" questioned Shannon.

"We were just part of a sea of faces, no one really knew us. We just blend into crowds. It won't be as easy for you. You'll have to wait here until you change enough so you're unrecognizable."

"More inactivity," groaned Alan.

"But you have to see the reason for it."

"I do, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept."

Gil decided to take his mind off it. "Tell us about Shakespeare. Did you meet him?"

"Yes," answered Shannon. "We also met Queen Elizabeth."

"Really? I've got to go on the next trip."

"I can't get over this historic name-dropping," remarked Evan, who had never traveled with them. "Do you ever get used to it?"

"No," answered Eric, "but I've got something here you both might want get a kick out of." He held up the mini camera.

"Fantastic!" Gil took it from him and hooked it up to the monitor. "Let's take a look." They gathered around the screen and watched as their latest mission to Elizabethan London unfolded before them.

When it was over, Evan sat back and asked, "Why don't you just send yourselves back to January and prevent this?"

"It's a tempting thought," replied Alan, "but by doing so, we could ruin something that was meant to be. I know it sounds corny, but perhaps this might bring people together."

"Oh, come on! Surely that was when you were meant to arrive?"

"But was it?" asked Gil. "If it weren't, it would be too much of a risk."

"I guess we'll just have to hibernate here until we no longer look like ourselves."

* * * *

Five months later when Alan could barely recognize himself in the mirror, he knew it was time. His hair had grown to touch his shoulders and he now sported a mustache and beard. He had seen the almost identical look in Eric and Ryan. Shannon's hair had grown long enough for her to wear it pulled back in a ponytail. Because her hair was such an identifiable color, Gil felt it necessary to dye it black. With the preparations made, it was time for their first trip into the City since their return.

Evan had arranged for them to meet with some contacts in order to prepare for another raid. They met in the lab. "God, if I didn't know any better, I'd think you were a bunch of vagrants," remarked Evan. "The change is remarkable."

"It's amazing what happens when you don't shave or cut your hair," joked Ryan.

"At least we got to shower," said Eric.

The warning beeps echoed throughout the lab and Gil rushed to the monitor. "Trouble. The Tabbies are heading this way." He went to the computer and began to transfer files. "Go get whatever items will give you away if left behind then head out the back way."

"What about you?" asked Shannon as she headed down the hall.

"I just need to get rid of the evidence, so to speak."

They went into the sleeping quarters and gathered what they could. They met out by the tunnel, Evan leading the way. Halfway through, Alan stopped. "What's wrong?" asked Ryan.

"The video. We definitely can't let them get that." He turned and headed back to the lab. He heard the Taborzans calling for the occupants to come out. Alan furiously searched for the tape.

A small ball rolled into the room and Alan barely noticed it until he pocketed the tape. The moment he realized what it was, a red light began to flash. "Merde!" he swore before it exploded, bringing down parts of the roof.

* * * *

He moaned and ran a dry tongue over his parched lips. His eyelids fluttered open and, when he saw Ryan, he tried to speak. "Take it easy," his brother said. "You've really been knocked about." He held a glass of water to Alan's lips.

He drank. "Any damage?" he croaked.

"A broken leg and two cracked ribs."

Alan cracked a smile. "No concussion?"

"Considering you were almost dead, it's surprising you don't."

"How long have I been here, wherever here is?"

"Two days. We got you out of the lab and to this safe house before the Tabbies made it inside. A doctor patched you up."

"Where are the others?"

"Out. Evan figured that someone must have followed and squealed to the Tabbies."

There was a pounding on the door downstairs. "Open up!"

Ryan looked at Alan, not sure of what to do. Alan nodded and Ryan went downstairs and opened the door. He was immediately pushed against the wall by a group of Taborzan soldiers. "You are under arrest for working with the Resistance. Is there anyone else here with you?" questioned the officer. Ryan kept his mouth shut. "Search the rest of the house." He stayed with Ryan while the soldiers went through the house.

Ryan stood against the wall with his hands cuffed behind his back while the upper floors were searched. He tensed when they got closer to Alan's room. "Sir!" called one of the soldiers. "We've found a wounded man up here. Looks real bad."

The officer looked at Ryan. "So much for keeping your mouth shut." He told his sergeant, "Transport him to the nearest infirmary, but keep him comfortable. I also want a guard posted on the house. Arrest anyone who comes in." He turned to Ryan. "If all heals well, he'll be able to join you in the prison camp."

* * * *

The others returned to the house, but Evan stopped them. "What's the matter?" asked Shannon.

"Something doesn't feel right."

"What?" asked Gil.

"You believe this?" Eric asked him.

"He's never been wrong before."

"Haven't you noticed how everyone is avoiding the house?"

"They probably just know it's yours," said Eric.

"The reason we chose it was because it was just another house. No, something happened while we were away."

"Do you think it was the Tabbies?" questioned Shannon.

Eric rushed across the street. "Get back here, you fool!" called Evan. Shannon rushed after him. "This is just great." Evan trailed after them.

"I have a feeling I'm going to regret this," remarked Gil as he followed.

* * * *

After about a month in the infirmary, Alan Kelly was walking with a cane. He asked the nurse when he would be getting out. "Where you go from here, you might consider worse, Mr. Gessler," she answered.

"Who?"

"That's who they said you were--one of the Resistance leaders. That's why you've been isolated from the rest of the patients. You might be transferred soon, but I wouldn't get too excited. Prison camps aren't the most attractive places in the universe." She left.

Alan had to smile. Gessler had to be the name Gil and Evan came up with for their fictional leader. Not many people would know that Gessler was the enemy of William Tell. He hobbled over to the window and looked out at the river. What had happened to the others? Were they somewhere in the city, hiding in a new safe house? Ryan, he knew, had been taken to a prison camp, which meant he just might see him soon. Hopefully, they'd be able to organize some sort of revolt.

The next day the doctor and the officer that had arrested him visited him. "Will he be able to travel today?"

The doctor nodded. "Should be."

This angered Alan to no end. "I am here. I do exist. You can speak to me. I'm not dirt, no matter what you think."

The officer looked at him. "So, you haven't cooled down. I thought being isolated would help."

"That's pretty warped thinking. It does quite the opposite."

"Oh, does it, Mr. Gessler?" the officer snarled, showing his sharp incisors. "You'll get a chance to prove it. You are being transferred to our prison camp. Maybe there, if people believe you, you can start a revolution."

"May I quote you on that?" Alan smiled.

The officer ignored the remark and motioned for Alan to precede him outside. Alan walked to the waiting truck and climbed into the back where he sat across from two guards and settled in for the ride.

* * * *

Ryan paused and wiped the sweat from his brow. He had always thought summers were supposed to be fun. When the other prisoners--mostly captured Military--learned that he had been with "Gessler" when he was captured, he was made the unofficial leader. When a truck entered the compound of the former Academy with a new prisoner, a guard took him to the Commandant's office. When he saw who the prisoner was, he couldn't believe it. "I thought you were a risk."

"I made an open challenge and the officer dared me to go through with it."

"We shall make it as hard as possible for that challenge to be met," said the Commandant, an older Taborzan with a battle-scarred face. The two were shown out of the office.

Since Alan was not recovered enough for heavy manual labor, he would work inside doing odd jobs until he recuperated. One day while he was helping in the kitchen, Alan saw three trays being fixed with throwaways from the soldiers' meal. His curiosity was aroused so he followed the porter into a separate part of the cellar. He hid behind the boxes as the porter opened a door and took the trays inside. Alan quickly went back upstairs before he was seen. Who were the mysterious prisoners? He'd have to talk with Ryan.

* * * *

One night a week later, after the workers had been shut in for the night, Alan was isolated to one room on the top floor with two guards. Because he had complained of vertigo, the Commandant thought it the ideal deterrent. When they first put him in the room, he saw the large bay windows leading out onto the balcony and yelled. The two guards left him in the room, clinging to the wall. After they had closed the doors, Alan's cries subsided and he smiled.

In the dark, he went out onto the balcony and straddled the rail while testing to see if he could reach the gutter. He made sure he had a good grip before he put his weight onto it. He cautiously climbed down three stories and made a tight squeeze between the bars in the window. The four men in the room stared at him. "Hi, guys. Where's Ryan?"

"Three doors down," one answered, amazed.

"Thanks." He walked to the door. "Any guards?"

"No."

"Door locked?"

"No."

"'Kay, thanks." Alan ran softly down the hall to the door to Ryan's room. He knocked. "Ryan, you there? It's me."

The door opened a crack. "Al--Gessler! Come in." He shut the door behind him. "How did you get out?"

"Climbed down the gutter."

Ryan laughed. "I liked that touch with the vertigo. I almost believed you."

"That was easy compared to Hamlet." He sat on the bed. "So, what's this about a revolt?"

Ryan gave a half-hearted laugh. "What revolt?"

"The one we're planning now. Well, more of an escape than a revolt."

"When?"

"The day of the fealty ceremony. The Tabbies won't be expecting anything. I wouldn't be surprised if they make a point of televising it."

"I've heard they plan to show-off some prisoners for entertainment."

"If those prisoners are who I think they are, we'll have to add our own entertainment."

"You'd better get going before they find out you're missing."

"Good thinking." Alan went back the way he came and was slipping through the bars when the guards grabbed him. He put up a fight but was unsuccessful. As they took him through the crowd that had gathered, he singled out Ryan and yelled, "You'd better start without me!"

He was taken to the cellars and locked up in one of the cells. He heard the other prisoners arguing. "When are we going to get out of here? We've been cooped-up going on two months!"

"Calm down. Yelling isn't going to do any good."

"No, but it makes me feel better."

"Well, it's annoying me."

"Enough complaining," said a female voice. "We've got to figure out how we're going to get out of this."

"There's an escape planned for the end of the week," said Alan.

"Alan!" declared Evan. "What are you doing here?"

"I was taken like the rest of you. They thought I was Gessler, so the secret's still safe."

"Who's going to lead the escape now that you're here?" asked Gil.

"Ryan. He's been made leader of the 'inmates'. I'll explain the rest in the morning. I'm exhausted."

"Good night, Alan," said Shannon. "I'm glad you're all right."

"It's good to know that you're safe as well, Shane."

* * * *

Two days later when the porter came down with their food, he walked right by the first cell to Alan's. "I've got something for you."

"What?" he asked groggily, wiping the sleep from his eyes.

"Your key to freedom!" Ryan unlocked the door.

"Good going!" Alan slapped him on the back. "But why the hurry?"

"Today is the oath-taking. The escape."

"Escape sounds good," said Evan.

"Yeah," agreed Gil. "How about letting us out."

Alan hesitated. "Please?" added Shannon.

"Okay. Gil, you, Shannon, and Evan go to the others and help organize the escape. The rest of us have an appointment with a razor."

"If we're going for the complete revelation, the Commandant confiscated our machines," Evan told him.

"I think he's got them locked in his top desk drawer," added Shannon.

"That was pretty stupid of him," remarked Ryan.

"He was probably planning to hand them over to the Governor before the ceremony in order to have them duplicated," said Gil.

Evan knew they couldn't stay in the cellar. "We'll try and stir up a diversion so you can get in."

"Rendezvous, say, in two hours in the isolation room in the barracks."

They split up at the top of the stairs with Evan, Gil, and Shannon heading outside to the barracks. Alan, Ryan, and Eric waited in an alcove near the Commandant's office, ready to make the most of their time to retrieve the time machines. They heard a fight and pulled deeper into their hiding place as the Commandant strode by, tail twitching with impatience. They rushed into the office and forced the lock on the drawer. Alan passed out the machines then closed the drawer to delay discovery. As he put two in his pocket, he said, "Set he coordinates for your rooms, take a quick shower, and shave. Don't forget to grab a uniform." He slipped on his own, set the coordinates, and pushed the button. Nothing happened. "Damn! Wrong one."

"Mine's not working either," said Eric as they traded.

Ryan tried his and disappeared. "At least one of us is having luck," remarked Alan as he reached into his pocket and pulled out the other two. "Here, try this one."

Eric took one of the machines. "Do we meet in your room?"

"No, go straight to the rendezvous. I don't want to run the risk of three of us getting caught."

"Okay, here goes." Eric pressed the button and disappeared. Alan followed, leaving the room empty when the Commandant entered.

* * * *

Alan found himself in his rooms on the Base and nearly tripped on an overturned chair in the middle of the floor. Since they hadn't been able to find him, they took their anger out on his possessions. He opened his closet and sent up a prayer for his untouched uniform. He took it with him into the bathroom. He started the water as he stripped off his sweaty rags, and, armed with a bar of soap and a washcloth, he stepped into the shower and began to scrub off the dirt.

Fastening a towel around his waist, he stepped out of the shower. The face that stared back was that of some bum. His hair, longer than he had ever worn it, reached his shoulders and his face was pale underneath the beard. That definitely had to go! Once that was done, he changed into his uniform and set the coordinates for the rendezvous. He quickly grabbed a pair of scissors before pressing the button.

* * * *

The Governor arrived at the Base in time to see the guards breaking up what appeared to be a prison fight. He had to admire the humans' tenacity, but it was unfortunate that their energy was directed towards a worthless cause. The Commandant appeared by his vehicle and saluted. "I hope this was not staged for my benefit."

"Oh, no, your Eminence," replied the Commandant nervously. "We didn't expect you so early."

"No, of course not." The Governor stepped out of the car, every inch of his uniform immaculate, his black fur glistening. "I understand you have the Resistance leaders here."

"Oh, yes. They are securely locked up in the cellars," the other replied, a note of triumph in his voice. "I thought, perhaps, to bring them in front of you at the oath-taking."

"Very good. Before or after the ceremony?"

"Whichever you think best."

The Governor nodded. "Before, I think. We might let their leaders know that there is no other choice. Show me what arrangements you have made."

* * * *

Alan appeared in the room on the top floor that he had been confined to. The others were sitting around a table where Evan had drawn a diagram of the auditorium. "On the stage will be the Governor, Commandant, and miscellaneous aides," he was saying. "The front rows are reserved for the dignitaries who will take the oath. Behind them will be the hangers-on and the remaining seats will be for the press."

"You seem to know a lot about this," remarked Eric.

"It's how most ceremonies of this level are arranged. No one, however, will be in the galleries. We can set up there with some of the other fighters."

"And how do you expect us to fight their soldiers?" asked Shannon. "I hate to be a wet blanket, but they are armed."

"We simply get some guns for ourselves," answered Alan.

"From where?"

"The Armory, of course."

"Ask a stupid question..."

"That's all well and good," said Gil, "but how do we get past the guards? We're supposed to be confined to barracks?"

"We do a little temporal juggling," answered Ryan, catching on to what Alan was thinking.

"I get it. We take a few within the field and transport them to the auditorium a few seconds later," said Eric.

"Of course, that in itself would take too long," said Alan, preventing Evan from protesting. "We ask how many want to take part in the 'show' and those that don't can use it as a diversion to escape."

"Okay, but if we're going to do this discreetly, we'd better get started. We've only got a couple of hours," said Evan.

The six of them left the room and made their way downstairs. They spotted two guards that Alan and Eric quickly knocked out before they could raise any sort of alarm. They discovered that the prisoners had been placed in a common room where it would be easier to guard them. Evan slowly opened the door in case there was another guard inside. He caught the eyes of one of the inmates who discreetly nodded his head sideways, signaling that there was a guard on the other side of the door. Evan nodded in understanding. He quickly pushed the door open, knocking the soldier off his feet. The prisoners pounced, disarming him. The others followed Evan inside. When the men saw Alan, Shannon, Eric, and Ryan in uniform, many smiled for the first time in months.

"We have a little escape planned," said Eric. "Who wants in?" Everyone in the room raised a hand. "I shall let my esteemed colleague give you the details."

Alan stepped forward and explained the plan. "I don't know what will come from this show of defiance, or if we'll even get away with it, so if there are any of you who don't feel physically up to it, don't feel compelled to take part. Just think of yourselves as back-up reinforcements should anything go wrong." Even though it was a lovely speech, they all wanted to take part.

"Okay. So who's going to handle this group?"

"I will," said Ryan.

"Good luck." The twins shook hands and the rest of the TOC left. They stopped at each of the barracks' common rooms, repeated the speech, and left behind a member to take care of the transfers. Evan stayed with Alan. When they were done, all the prisoners armed and stationed throughout the auditorium, the TOC mingled with the press, long coats hiding the uniforms.

The Commandant stood and walked to the podium at the center of the stage. "Ladies, gentlemen, members of the press. We are all here today to witness and take part in a ceremony that goes back generations on both our planets. With all of us working together, things should go most smoothly." The Governor coughed. "Without any further ado, let us all greet our Governor." He clapped loudly and the other Taborzans joined in. The Alliance dignitaries applauded half-heartedly out of duty.

"Thank you, Commandant." The Governor's deep voice penetrated the hall. He looked out over the audience. These Earthlings are like sheep, meekly following a strong lead. I can't believe we were the first to conquer them. "To prove the strength of our position, I have a somewhat distasteful task to perform before we continue with the ceremony. In our holding cells we have some of the leaders of your poor, misguided Resistance and I mean to make an example of them here and now. You may have been wondering about the empty space in front of the stage. It is their place of execution!"

Alan looked at Evan, who nodded. They couldn't wait until the moment they had planned. Once their escaped was discovered... Alan began to make his way forward, whistling the Academy's alma mater. The other members of the TOC joined him in his walk as the soldiers in the gallery hummed, whistled, and sang along. Alan stopped in front of the stage.

The Governor looked down at the small group of people who looked vaguely familiar. "What is the meaning of this?"

"Don't you recognize the people you planned to execute?" asked Alan, a lazy smile on his face.

"That is Gessler," whispered the Commandant.

"I do hope you'll forgive the intrusion," said Evan, "but we felt that now was the time for everything to come out in the open and for sides to be chosen. It is not the time to straddle the fence. Logic may dictate, but follow your hearts."

"Quite a speech," remarked the Governor. "You were a politician."

"Pilot and diplomat Evan Kelly."

Gil stepped forward. "Dr. Gilbert Connor."

The Governor could not believe it. The man whose inventions they so desperately wanted had been their prisoner for almost three months! He looked at the others. "Then you must be--"

"Col. Alan Kelly," he said, removing his coat.

"Maj. Eric Roberts."

"Capt. Shannon Flynn."

"Lt. Ryan Kelly."

"Guards, kill them!" shouted the Governor.

"I wouldn't," said Gil with a nod towards the galleries. "We took the precaution of bringing along our own army."

"And, just in case," said Shannon. "I've got my pistol pointed at your heart--or where it would be if you had one."

The Governor snorted in disbelief. A mere Earthling, and a female at that, dared to threaten him? "Don't let the fact that she's a woman fool you," said Alan. "She's a crack shot."

"If there are any of you who wish it, I'd recommend leaving now," said Evan. The dignitaries, who chose to do so, strode down the aisle, watched over by the liberated soldiers.

When they had gone, Gil came up beside Alan. "Okay. They're safe."

"It's been a pleasure doing business with you," said Alan. "All right, let's go."

When the TOC had gone and the last of the soldiers had left, the Governor turned on the Commandant.

Part Two.

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