Chapter 16

Six weeks passed and no one saw very much of Cawdor and Dale. They'd moved into Cawdor's home once Dale was physically strong enough and very little had been seen of them since. Vanley and Kendrew were exceptions, but only if Cawdor said so. For this reason, Vanley was surprised when it was Dale who answered the door, clearly in Phase and radiating female pheromones like a jet stream.

"Timing's a bit crap, Vanley." Dale stated and held the door open for them.

"Hark at you." Vanley retorted. "Not hard to tell who's mate you are."

"Mate implies mating, Vanley." Cawdor wandered down stairs fastening their belt. "Are you just here to be a killjoy?"

"I really don't like you two. All Station Cumberland's systems have been reconfigured and upgraded. From what I can gather, the place is back to normal with Captain Crown ruling the roost." Vanley told them.

"That's good." Dale said and Cawdor nodded in agreement. "Foley?"

"Recalled back to HQ." Vanley shrugged. "Now then, these upgrades are pretty hefty stuff and we're not sure we can get through them once they're fully installed. So if you want to contact Captain Crown, I suggest you do so now while you still can."

"If we want? Of course we bloody want!" Cawdor grabbed Dale's hand and hurried out of the door. Vanley sighed wearily and followed them.

"What do I press? This here?" Dale sat in front of the communications array.

"What the hell? Grey! I thought this was inoperable." Natasha's voice sounded through the interface.

"Natasha! Natasha it's Dale."

"I'm having this communication traced. Dale Tanner died on Bedlam and I promise you ... "

"Natasha it's me! I didn't die. Cawdor's with me, so are Vanley and Kendrew. It's me Natasha."

"Dale? How ... how ..." Natasha had to sit down heavily.

"Cawdor. They saved me. I'm Bedlite, Natasha and I'm very happy." Dale held Cawdor's hand.

"B ... Bedlite? As is ... Bedlite?" Natasha stuttered in complete shock.

"Ocer." Dale smiled.

"I'm ... I ... I don't know what to say." Natasha started crying in sheer joy. "I can't believe you're here talking to me. Is Cawdor OK? Vanley?"

"Judge for yourself." Dale shuffled over to let Cawdor in.

"Captain Crown! May I say that your engineer makes a damn fine lady." Cawdor beamed and Vanley cringed.

"Cawdor! Oh my god. Cawdor!" Natasha sobbed. "This is miraculous. So he's been there with you all the time? We had a memorial service for him!"

"How fraudulent of them! I'd stick a claim in if I was you, charge them for the flowers. They've been here with me, yes. This is the first time Vanley's managed to get through." Cawdor said.

"We've had no systems. Officer Grey has fainted. Cawdor I'm so happy to hear from you and Dale."

"Natasha, it's Dale again. Cawdor's gone to pieces." Dale took over. "Listen Natasha, Vanley may not be able to contact you once your new systems are fully installed. They've assured me they'll never give up trying but it's not certain. I'm fine and very happy here, so is Cawdor. I think Vanley needs a few co ordinates from you."

"Take care, Dale. You and Cawdor look after one another." Natasha was still in tears and Dale was no better. Vanley nudged their emotional friend towards their emotional sibling and sat at the array.

"Pair of big Mary Sues. Captain Crown! Back large and in charge?"

"Absolutely." Natasha laughed. "Admiral Foley has a nice desk job."

"Best place for him." Vanley sniffed. "Captain Crown, I meant what I said about persevering to bypass your systems, but it's a tall order. Just remember that Dale and Cawdor are well and happy. They always will be."

"I understand." Natasha replied. Vanley was telling her there was little chance of contact in the future. "System specifications on their way but don't tell anyone."

"My lips are sealed." Vanley received the data they'd already got an hour earlier for themself. "Thank you, Natasha."

Admiral Foley read the texted message for the fiftieth time. It was from Sor Vanley.

. . . . There is a retrievable drone at co ordinates 171,965,Beta,Indigo,12. This drone carries one pellet of refined Fifeogen. Refined, not 100% safe. The sample has been refined to the limit of our abilities, and has taken 20 years to get to this stage. I've sent you a copy of every shred of research, and results, ever conducted on Fifeogen regarding any medicinal properties. We can do no more. We estimate the sample's stability to be around 80%. That means an 80% chance of handling it with no adverse effects. It's never been tested on any life-form as a medicine. Read our research very carefully, Admiral. After that, your road is your own.
Should you decide against using the sample, the code VWinchester2512 will send the drone back into Bedlam's atmosphere where it will disintegrate and be re-absorbed harmlessly.
The decision is yours.
. . . . . . . . . . . . Vanley.


"Hey Vanley!" Cawdor ran into the control room. "We have another star!" Bedlam's atmosphere was laden with all manner of activity of every different type and it shifted constantly. Occasionally an activity left a 'scar' that wasn't obliterated in the shifting gas. The last star had been named Miranda, after Cawdor and Vanley's once female parent. "See it? It's beautiful."

"Yes I noticed it." Vanley smiled and put his arm round Cawdor. The new star was at the disintegration point designated for a stealth drone with a single pellet cargo.

"I think we should call it Dale." Cawdor nodded.

"Same as the stream, the crop hill, the three wind turbines and the tree in your garden?" Vanley rolled their eyes.

"Well they're important!" Cawdor objected.

"Too late anyway. It's already be named and logged. She's called Annie."

"Annie. Yes I like that. Foley's ..."

"Yes I know. Annie." Vanley smiled at the brand new, twinkling star.


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