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Ashley and Kat were going through service records of fighter pilots to find out the best people for the job. It was a slow and agonizing process. They have been looking over 500 records in the past 2 hours without any breaks. When Ashley got so sick of looking at records that she couldn't do it without a break, she put it down and rubbed her eyes.

"I can't do this anymore! I'm going to go down to the lab to see if Brett and Jessica have had any luck in creating the bomb. You want to come?" Ashley asked as she got up from her chair to walk around and get her legs working again.

"No thanks, I'll just go down to the mess hall and get a drink." Kat said rubbing her eyes.

"Ok, see you later, then." Ashley exited the room and started walking down the hallway. She passed people having a fun time, chatting about this, that and the other. Then a powerful grief gripped her. She rushed to the closest empty room, closed and locked the door, put her back to the wall and started crying. Only now had the fact hit her that her new enemy was her own sister. Ashley and Mary-Kate had big plans for when the war was going to be over and now those plans would never come true.

"Why Mary-Kate? Why?" Ashley said to herself, imagining that Mary-Kate was there in front of her ready to answer.

Just then, the intercom came on and Jessica's voice could be heard. "Lt.Cmdr. Ashley, please report to science lab 1 immediately." Then the usual click was heard to show the intercom was now off.

Ashley wiped her tears and tried to make herself look like she hadn't been crying. She made her way down to the lab. No one was in the hall, so Ashley was safe from having attention drawn to her. Once she reached the lab, Jessica and Brett noticed she had been crying, but didn't say anything. They thought the good news they had would cheer her up.

"We did it!" Jessica said

"Did what?" Ashley said absent minded.

"We know how to create the bomb. Jessica and I tried different types, but only one worked every time in the simulator." Brett said proudly.

"We're going to get Mary-Kate back, Ashley. I promise you." Jessica told her friend.

"But what if she resists too much? What if she won't be taken alive?" Ashley said, fighting back the tears.

"Taken care of. I made a tranquilizer gun and 3 darts. If she resists, we'll knock her out and take her safely back here." Brett told her.

"Alright then. I had better be getting back to reviewing files to see who will come." Ashley said as she went towards the door.

"How's it coming?" Jessica wondered. "Do you have the people that will be on the boarding party?"

"We have the boarding party all worked out, it's just the pilots I am worried about. This ship is filled up with too many newbies. They don't have enough experience." Ashley said in despair.

"Keep trying Ashley. We have got to have some veterans left on this ship. We lost most of them when we had a refit of the crew." Jessica said.

"All keep looking. Thanks guys." Ashley said as she left the room.

A few hours passed and everyone had taken a break. Ashley and Kat had found the crew members whom will be in the fighters. Brett and Jessica had prepared most of the bomb. The only thing left to finish the weapon was to put in the EMP device without it going off, a hard task, which demands extreme concentration. The two agreed to call it a day and finish it tomorrow.

Brett walked into the mess hall and found Ashley sitting by herself by a window. The bar tender asked Brett what hed have and Brett ordered his usual root beer float. He took the float and went to find Ashley.

"How are you holding up Ashley?" he said as he sat down.

"Could be better." she looked at him and smiled. "I've been trying to figure it out and I still can't think of why she is doing this. It doesn't make sense!"

"I know, I've been doing the same and so has Jess and Kat." Brett said.

Ashley went back to staring out the window.

Brett put his hand on her shoulder. Dont worry Ash, it will all work out somehow.

She smiled, then Brett walked off.

Jessica entered the bridge and went to find Stacey. "Stace, can I talk to you for a sec?"

"Sure thing, Mister Morrison, you have the bridge." the commander told her second in command.

"Aye maam" a young man said.

Commander Stacey took Jessica to the conference room. "What's up Jess?"

"Do you think we have a chance to getting Mary-Kate back safely?" Jessica asked.

"If she is on that ship, we will get her back," she said, avoiding to make eye contact with Jessica. She noticed this and just thought she was lying to protect her from what she really thought.

"What will happen to her if she makes it back?" she asked her.

"I don't know Jess." Commander Stacey said.

Jessica noticed something different about Stacey. Usually she knew everything and explained all she knew, now she was vague and didn't give any details. Jessica didn't want to ask anymore questions so she left him by saying "Thank you."

It was 10 minutes until the operation began to retake the Orion class warship and people were running all over the place getting the final touches done.

Commander Stacey was talking to the boarding team that would go onboard the Orion warship when the shields went down.

"Ok, now that everybody is here." she started as he looked at Brett

"Sorry maam. " Brett said.

"Fine." Commander Stacey said and continued with the briefing. "You will be divided into two teams of 20 people. Brett will be in charge of team Echo. Ashley will be in charge of team Bravo. Echo will be in charge of clearing the bridge and re-take the ship's controls. Team bravo will be in charge of rescuing the hostages."

"Maam, Id like to go on the bridge. Ashley asked.

No, your judgement might be impaired because of Mary-Kate. Brett will go. Stacey said.

"Dont worry, Ash." Brett said as he picked up and loaded his assault rifle. Ill get her back.

"Once inside, you are on your own. Once we reach the Orion, which is on it's way to a subspace jump node, you will have 30 minutes to get in, and re-take. If you do not succeed in 25 minutes, we will destroy the ship, regardless of you being inside or not. We can not let that ship leave. Understood?" Commander said

"Yes maam!" the teams yelled.

"Now if you will all excuse me, I have to make a ship-wide speech." Commander Stacey said as she left. Once she got to the bridge, she opened an intercom channel for the entire Colossus.

"This is Commander Stacey to all hands. As you all may know, we are about to engage the rogue Orion class destroyer. This is a critical mission of absolute importance. We will not be cleared to fire upon the Orion until 25 minutes into the battle. Make no mistake, the Orion will fire on us with all of its guns. Medical teams and damage control teams will work throughout the fight to help you in any way possible. Join me in a prayer to wish all of the brave soldiers who will be out in the battlefield to save our friends and, in some cases, family members onboard the Orion."

An ominous silence fell over the entire ship. The amount of respect people had for eachother onboard the Colossus was unmatched by any other ship. During the prayer, the pilots on the flight deck, along with the boarding party, looked at eachother for it would be the last time they would all be there together. They knew a lot would not come back. It was the question 'Will I come back' that haunted pilots down to their soul.

Within the few minutes, one of the greatest battle of their lives would take place. Every pilot would give it their all. Will it be enough?

Chapter 4