The sun was rising when Lieutenant Wu returned. She ran her thin fingers through her hair in an attempt to look more presentable. The effort had little impact; the Lieutenant's short black hair still looked unbrushed, and her face told the tale of a long and tiring night, just one of many.

The Alpha Senator was an impeccable and very attractive man; it was hard not to be aware of the one's own inadequacies when around him.

Lt. Wu didn't care that she looked a wreck, which testified to how tired she truly was.

Wu clung to the hope that he would be asleep, but knew that he awaited her report.

The night had been long, and far too eventful. For ten hours Wu and her squad had pursued the fugitive. First in transports, and with sniffer dogs and then, when he had exhausted the machinery and the canines, Lieutenant Wu and her men had chased him, on foot.

Yet, in the dark hours before morning, Dr. Webster had escaped. Wu was drained; her physical and mental stores were severely depleted. She steeled herself as the housekeeper showed her in to the Alpha's private office.

The doorway into the room was enormous, and didn't escape note as Wu entered.

It was wood.

Like most of her contemporaries, Wu knew very little about the rare natural resource. Since the Wash, natural materials were a precious commodity, and as a result, very expensive. It didn't surprise the woman when she noticed that the Alpha's desk and a ceiling high bookshelf were also made of the same substance.

The young Alpha had taste, and more importantly, the money to support it.

On any other occasion Robyn Wu would have found secret delight in being so close to the Alpha's private life. However in her current condition, she felt nothing but exhaustion.

The Alpha was a silhouette against one of the many high windows that striped the East-facing wall. It was winter in the Arc, and days were short.

The Alpha was a reclusive man, idolised by many for his beautiful and traditionally Greek features, but very little was known about him. Besides the Commander, no one came close to him.

The Commander was out on business in the Salt Plains, and in her absence, the Alpha made even more infrequent public outings.

He looked alone, standing at the window, and for the first time in the four years she had known him, he looked his age. He was only 32, and it was easy to forget that at times, when his clear amber gaze was upon you, his firm voice commanding, his shoulders square, his head high.

Alpha Cleaver Florence, the youngest to ever win the position of supreme senator in the five hundred-year Antarctic Alliance, wore his power well.

This morning however, he looked like a man, a young man, who was just as fatigued as his Lieutenant.

Cleaver didn't acknowledge Wu's presence, as she clipped her heels together and saluted. Wu waited at attention, as he gazed out the window. The sun began to rise, and illuminated his long blonde hair. With a sigh he turned finally to his Lieutenant.

Seeing her own broken expression reflected in her leader's, Robyn's gaze fell to the floor.

"At ease, Lieutenant" The Alpha's deep voice seemed even huskier this morning.

"Please take a seat" he gestured to a chair before his desk and sank himself into a tall backed chair.

"I need good news this morning, Lieutenant Wu." He told her, still looking out the window.

The morning sun was attacking the shadows and the room was slowly filled with clear white sunshine. Sunrises were infrequent enough in the Arc to be events. Wu knew that around the city, hundreds would be sitting in rooms, and on rooftops doing the same thing as their Alpha.

"You don't have good news though, do you? That's why Paulson didn't come himself." There was a silence. "Or did he not come because he can't?"

Lieutenant Wu shook her head and looked into her lap. "Captain Paulson is dead, Sir."

The Alpha stood and walked back to the window. Fearing her legs wouldn't hold her, Wu remained seated.

"Who else did you lose?" Cleaver asked.

Wu flinched, she didn't lose anyone. The great Doctor Webster had killed them.

"Privates Pepper, Niamey and Steele. The doctor himself also took out three transports and killed a squad of Bruno's dogs. We searched the ruins sir, and could find no trace of your brother, or of his Weapons. There was a lot of blood, sir. The Commander's blood."

The Alpha's reaction to this news startled Wu. He swore, loudly.

She jumped.

"The Dragons, what about the dragons?" he demanded to know.

Wu kept her face impassive, trying not to wince as his gaze fell upon her again, his voice harsh. "Tell me you found them lieutenant."

"Sir, your brother, Master Laurence, his Weapons were gone, and none of the other Dragons which were employed by the Arc were to be found."

Again the Alpha swore, this time louder, and harsher.

"And the Commander is gone you say? Her blood everywhere... but not dead?"

"There was no body, sir, to survive that amount of blood loss though would be no small miracle."

"She is no small miracle, Lt. Wu. She must be found!" His eyes burnt with an unholy kind of intensity, the light from the window making his pale hair glow.

He looked like a slightly deranged angel. Wu supposed that he was.

There had been rumors about the Commander and the Alpha since her arrival in the Arc. She'd appeared not long after he had, both rising out of obscure and misty pasts into roles of supreme power. It hadn't taken them long.

They were ruthless and dedicated and both frighteningly intelligent. Their careers mirrored each other's so perfectly that it was inevitable that they meet.

And meet they did.

Cleaver had never tried to hide his regard for the girl, despite the huge age difference and the girl's genetic classification.

They lived together, here, in the house Wu was sitting in, with its wooden furnishings. But they were rarely seen together in public, asides from official functions.

Unusually, the couple was still childless and unmarried. In the population struggling world the Wash had left behind, it was strange that such a popular and attractive couple would have no children. The average marriage age was fourteen for females. The Commander was already in her twenties.

The Alpha's government encouraged young couples to reproduce and the hypocrisy hadn't gone unnoticed by Cleaver's critics.

"My brothers Weapons will go straight north, and if the Commander is alive, she will be there with them also. In any case, the hunt will not stop until her body, animated or not, is returned."

Robyn thought him a little naïve, to imagine that she was still alive, but the miraculous always seemed to occur with either of the pair present. Perhaps she was alive.

"The pregnant one, Elspeth. She and her partner will go north to the Dragonlands."

"Maxwell also, sir?" Robyn interrupted.

Cleaver looked a little annoyed. "That pathetic little lackey, if you find him I give you permission to do away with him. He's a traitor and guilty of treason."

Maxwell had worked closely with the Commander when she'd been assigned the duty of ensuring the safety of the Alpha. He was a charismatic young thing, witty and good looking, but trustworthy also, and she had thought, loyal to the Arc.

Apparently, however, the Commander was mistaken.

"Eleven other men, Lt Wu. I trust that will be enough?"

"Yes, sir!" she stood, a little too quickly and saluted.

"Ones you trust, Robyn, I don't need to tell you that this is a sensitive issue and wont be mentioned in the Daily Reports."

Wu was surprised, hearing her first name was not something that she had come to expect from the man. She hadn't even realized that he knew her name!

"Bring her home?" he asked.

She saluted, her pride swelling at the thought that an issue so close to the Alpha's heart be given to her.

She slid her report onto the desk, and slipped out of the room.


The sun was warm on his face, and in its light, Cleaver had more colour than he had experienced since she'd gone.

He wandered back to his desk, feeling relieved that something was now being done to get her back. He'd known that there was something off colour about the situation in the Salt Plains. His brother had never been a reliable fellow, and if he wasn't dead already, Cleaver would soon deal to that.

The report on the incident was classified, and Lt. Wu knew only of the segments, which she herself had recorded.

These, the Alpha skipped, scanning through the reports of the Crime Scene Investigators. Chemical work ups, models of the guessed situation and blood work.

Here, the man stopped.

There had been large losses of blood, Lt. Wu had been right, but something in the chemical read outs wasn't right. The Alpha was a clever man; he didn't need them to tell him what high levels of folic acid meant.

The Commander was pregnant.