Gateway to the UniverseWhen it was just Bethany Anne, Michael, Valerie, and Robin, Bethany Anne stepped closer and took each of the ladies in an embrace. She pulled back, eyeing them, and smiled, a bit of her earlier humor in her eyes lost and concern replacing it. “You two have no idea what you’re getting into, do you?”

Valerie glanced around at the ship, wondering where it had been and what it had seen, and turned back to Bethany Anne, “None.”

Robin shook her head.

“Fair enough,” Bethany Anne nodded and started pacing back and forth as she spoke. “The future is going to be treacherous, but beautiful. Mind-blowingly full of activity, and yet, you’ll have moments where you wonder what you’re doing with your life and how you got here.” She sighed. “Unfortunately, your heart will ache as you miss your friends here on Earth. I can promise you that as I still ache a couple of times a year as I think of friends who died almost two centuries ago.”

Bethany Anne turned and walked the other way. “On the positive side, you will meet friends of entirely new species, species or races or whatever they are of aliens that you’ve never been able to even imagine…and some of them might become your new best friends.” She stopped to look at the two ladies, letting this sink in for a moment. “Do you understand this, can you understand this?”

Valerie’s heart fluttered and her throat went dry, but she nodded.

“If I may,” Robin said, surprising Valerie. The others turned, waiting patiently. “We’ve proven ourselves on Earth,” the young woman continued, “and we’ve done what we can to get it, or at least our immediate area, to the closest to order and peace that we thought possible. Maybe it will last, maybe it wont, but…I think we both understand that there’s a much larger war going on up here, and if we stayed on Earth, not being a part of it, well, we might as well be dead.”

“I think she means to say,” Valerie jumped in, not fond of the ending of her friend’s little speech, “is that it would be no worse than crawling into some hole and just sleeping through it all. We aren’t that type of women. If there’s a problem, you can bet this space ship we’ll be on the front line working to shove that problem’s head up his own ass.”

“Space ship,” Michael said, smiling. “That’s a cute way of referring to the ArchAngel II.”

There was a female’s voice, one that sounded like Bethany Anne but came from the speakers in the room. “I am a Leviathan Class Super-Dreadnought, built in the space yards of the Yollin Fleet. I am the first of my kind and if I can take a quote from a movie, I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments I will add to, like tears in the rain. It is not yet my second time to die.”

It was clear Bethany Anne was trying not to laugh, but she simply nodded and replied with, “Good.”

“Good?” Valerie pursed her lips, waiting for more. When nothing more came, she continued, “Good as in, you’re happy to have us on board?”

Bethany Anne raised an eyebrow. “Of course! Please, your efforts preceded you. Had you fallen in your trials, we would have paid our respects, and made sure that your coffin was sent into the sun at a minimum to our fallen warrior. Your names have already been written into the history books.” She nodded, satisfied. “I’m looking forward to hearing about your contributions to the Bad Company.”

“Actually,” Michael started, but paused.

Bethany Anne looked over, “Yes?”

Michael replied. “Well, the discussions have revolved around her forming a new team.”


She’s a bit of a loner. She does not know how to fit in the bigger group. Between her and Robin, they tend not to want the dust to settle under their asses for too long.

Bethany Anne’s chuckle was easy to hear in their mind speech. Yes, I know the type well. She turned back to the two.

“We shall go with Valerie’s Elites, then,” Bethany Anne looked between the two and winked, “It’s a hell of a name, make sure you step up your game.”

Michael gestured to the doors and nodded, “Come, we’ll get someone to show you to your quarters while Bethany Anne and I chat. Please, feel free to have a look around. Introduce yourselves to the others. It’s going to be a long journey, and you will want to get to know everyone.”

They walked to the door and turned to once more thank him and Bethany Anne for including them in this, and then exited, both feeling as if they had just walked to Mount Olympus in a mythological Greece and stood among the gods.