I know it's been a while, but finally the saga continues, as all good sagas do! I start off continuing my look inside the sho'gan vin, and then finish by going back to our heroes! But David's fate remains a dark cloud of uncertainty! Bwa ha! My editor is working init. *whip crack* C'mon Lindsay!

Many considered the Lengrumi biologist Janiculien, to be the foremost scientific mind of the century. Currently, she sat on a bench in her extensive labs deep within Planet Arctica, headquarters of the sho'gan vin. The Lengrumi had mastered perfection in all its forms. Basically, the Lengrumi were the most highly advanced and evolved of all the alien races. Yet they still strived for further advanced technologies. But despite this drive there had been no technological innovations for sometime. Until Janiculien.

Janiculien had strived forward in the field of genetic research, banned by most planets, as well as the Exploriens and Lengrumi Collective Government. She had strove forward, ignoring those others who demanded her to stop, pleaded with her, begged her to follow their flawed logic. Janiculien scowled, quickly wiping the expression from her face. The Lengrumi prided themselves on the total lack of emotion within their species. However, that belief was not true. Some Lengrumi felt emotions. And those who did had them in the face of vicious prosecution. Janiculien knew if her affliction was ever discovered, it would mean an end to her research, indeed, probably an end to her life. Emoters were viewed as degenerate, lower forms of life, that had to be eliminated.

Janiculien jumped at the sound of a Chrarkae's snarls in the background, then quickly reverted to her unflappable bearing. The Chrarkae had shown a 212% increase in restlessness since the escape of Version 2.2 of the species, a little more than a year ago. The Chrarkae themselves instilled a sense of pride deep within Janiculien, no matter how hard she attempted to remain as ice. They were hers! Her very own creations! Life designed by her, brought into existence by her, something never done except at the moment of Creation!

Being a member of the sho'gan vin meant she would be on the winning side once the Day of Freedom came, being a member of the Dark Council ensured her immortality and rule over all others for eternity, and both of these things let her create life. Life forms, designed by her. Janiculien shivered at the very thought. It was the ultimate thrill, creating new life, and you could never be sure what surprises you had accidently programmed into the creature. The Faceless Ones and their masters, the FireDemons, the Chrarkae, the great beast lizards- she had heard Perry remark they reminded him of Komodo Dragons, on Terra - all of these were her creations. They were hers!

She set down the pad she had been working on, and picked up the next. Instead of working, however, she decided to analyze the intrigues of those around her on Planet Arctica. Like Dantu, Janiculien viewed this useless scheming as the waste of resources they were, but she did not feel threatened, or compelled to take part. She was too valuable to dispose of, too intelligent to fool, and her place was assured. Why did the others see this need to jockey for position?

Dantu, the Krigoni in charge of the Future Plan, frequented her labs lately, and she supposed one of her creations had a part in the plan of how events would play out in the next ten years or so. They would have to! Janiculien lost herself in the vision of endless swarms of monsters, all hers, overwhelming such places as Explorien Central Command, or her home planet's very own Tower of the Lengrumi Collective Government. They had both told her she could not continue with the research that had led to the creation of her creatures

A creaking door behind Janiculien announced visitors. The creaking door reminded Janiculien that Planet Arctica, while the perfect hideout, was dilapidated. A Visitor? At this late hour? Janiculien thought almost incredulously as she hurridly prepared to face whoever it was Before turning calmly to face her ‘guests', Janiculien's hand tightened on a hive of sawbugs. Dormant now, they would awaken when enough pressure was put on their palm sized hive; then the tiny insects inside would swarm, striping the flesh from anyone but Janiculien, whom they viewed as their queen. She had programmed a fear and respect of herself into these creatures -not an easy task! - and they would not attack her. Once awakened, the Sawbugs would kill everyone in the room before returning placidly into the Hive.

Her visitors were members of the Dark Council. Before Janiculien stood Kobol, Kresov, Drumond, and Sarenne. Janiculien examined each, one after the other, in the usualy Lengrumi way, which was flatly.

It was a strange sight to see Kobol and Kresov together so peacefully. At most other times they would have been screaming obscenities, or physically attacking each other. Kobol of course was the Vorgon scientist enlisted to create the Freedom Device, the delays associated with the developing of the device had caused many to disassociate themselves from him. His green face was proud in cruel fashion, his eyes were always stern. His rival Kresov was a small Ingori; short and slight, with large eyebrow ridges. Kresov was in charge of weapons manufacture, and the torture -what he called "interrogation" -of captives. Kresov enjoyed inflicting pain on others, to a point that Janiculien believed was not healthy. Drumond Kasarien was the Velexian military tactician; Kasarien was solely responsible for practically winning the Vorgon Wars for the Exploriens. He was getting on in years, still he appeared jolly, and large despite the shortness that was the hallmark of the Velexian race. His hair was gray, and his face set, but he smiled almost warmly at Janiculien, who gave him two calculated blinks. Sarenne was the diplomatic head of the sho'gan vin, and she hung onto Drumond's arm in a fashion Janiculien supposed others would find scandalous. Aravillians had to wear less clothing off their home planet of Aravil, but she carried it to extremes, enjoying seducing men and then dropping them once she had wrung all the use out of them. A more diverse group would be hard to find. She had put off speech long enough, Janiculien decided.

"Social or business." Janiculien questioned bluntly, hiding the hive of Sawbugs behind her back. Not that she thought it likely to be a social call, but she enjoyed delaying speaking words of substance, for she wished to analyze what brought these four rivals to her.

"Business." Kobol said in his cold, iron voice. Actually, his Vorgon second name was Ironwing; the hard coldness of the metal seemed a perfect description of the Vorgon scientist. Janiculien merely looked at him, in the well-known Lengrumi fashion. A flat stare; flat only for a lack of anything to convey, but she felt a little delight at seeing his ever-present scowl deepen.

"We have been thinking, Janiculien. There is too much duplicity in the sho'gan vin, especially in the Dark Council. Sarenne first had the thought to ally together the other necessary members of the Dark Council, to protect ourselves from meddling, useless ones." Drumond explained before Kobol had the chance to let loose the acid comment that was surely on his tongue. Janiculien had heard it whispered that Drumond and Sarenne had been bedding one another for almost a month now, but she knew that the only reason Sarenne would allow that was to forward her own plans.

"So I am considered ‘important'." Janiculien almost smirked, but thought it better not to. "Tell me your plan." Janiculien managed in tones that were as flat as she could make them. Indeed, her accent was flat, but all Lengrumi's accents were that way.

"Dantu has been..." Kresov began in his almost guttural voice, every harsh word a pleasure to him if it caused any displeasure to others. Janiculien listened in spite of herself. She still knew this jockeying for position was stupid, but if this plan succeeded, she could benefit greatly. And if it somehow failed. . . That would also be acceptable. This could turn out very well for Janiculien.

Chapter 40

Anto stood, in the downward speeding elevator, his stance betrayed only a little of the unease he felt. He was here with five of his friends, on their way to ‘rescue' David, as Yenne put it. Yenne looked ready to jump out of her skin. She was so positive something was wrong that it worried Anto. There was no proof – all they knew was that David was on sub-level 13, out of the range of security cameras – but Yenne and her Aravillian intuition had convinced Anto of the necessity of coming along. Audua was the only one who had thought this complete rubbish. The slight Ingori stood wearily in the rear of the elevator, continually rubbing the sleep from her cat-like eyes, muttering that if David was alright she would throttle him for waking her up so early. Shaylor looked worried, but his eyes still held that far-away gleam. He included everyone in his nervous chatter, however. Bantu stood, still as a statue made of ice, waiting calmly to arrive at their destination. Anto sighed, and copied the Krigoni's pose.

Finally the elevator ground to a halt. They were only on sub-level 02, though, which was as deep as the elevators went. The original Exploriens had built Central Command with the intent of it growing up, into the sky. After the great structure had reached a height of nearly two miles, and a gargantuan bulk, it was obvious the building could not be expanded further aboveground. So, Central Command grew haphazardly underground. It was whispered that a great abundance of secrets were housed within the building's subterranean depths. Underground construction was not sanctioned nor governed by the High Commander or the High Council. This meant all constructions were undertaken by Exploriens personally, and no one knew the extent of the underground facilities or just what was kept down there.

As soon as the doors opened, Yenne took off - running for all she was worth. Sharing looks between them all, the others followed after. If Yenne was distressed enough to run to David, maybe there was more to her intuition than Audua believed. Anto hated running - he was in good shape, which his job as a Weapons/Defense Explorien demanded - but his short legs and bulky muscles made running swiftly difficult. Anto sighed, as he tried to keep up. Yenne was a swift runner, as was Bantu, for both were tall, long legged, and each made it a point to keep very fit. Audua kept up effortlessly, despite her shortness. When Shaylor had begun running he had easily kept up with Yenne and Bantu, but once they had reached sublevel 08 he had had enough, dropping back with Anto.

Bantu, Yenne, and Audua stopped when both Anto and Shaylor could jog no further. The two stood, bent over, leaning on the walls for support. "We'll wait," Audua began, before being cut off by Anto.

"No, go on ahead. If David needs help, we can catch up once you reach him. The sooner someone reaches him, the better." Anto managed to gasp out between pants. Shaylor nodded, his normally pale face an odd shade of red; from shame or being out of breath, Anto did not know. Bantu just stood, and waited for the two females to start off once more. After a short look at both he and Shaylor, Yenne was off again. Yenne's look to them was pleasant, sympathetic, caring; yet it was obvious she was painfully eager to reach David. Audua also looked at he and the half-breed, but she spent most of the look on Shaylor - and it was a fond concern that she held in her cat-like eyes. There was definently something going on there.

Anto sat down once they were around the corner. He hated being short, but it was the nature of his race. In fact, for a Velexian, he was moderately tall. He understood Yenne's urgency. Not only was David a friend of everyone - aside from possibly Bantu - but in her latest vision a messenger from her very own Goddesses had told her to not let him or David die. If David was dead - the "if" made him shiver - then she had damned herself. "Wait," he thought. Eternal damnation was a Terran notion. Did the Aravillian religion believe in it? Anto found the idea of a "supreme being" very silly; yet he still sometimes envied Yenne the strength of belief she held in her Goddesses, or of Bantu in Gha, the Krigoni who had set out the rules of na'vo on the First Day.

"Finished with your breather?" Shaylor asked, jerking Anto from his thoughts. He realized that he no longer felt out of breath, and wondered how long he had just been standing there.

"Yes," Anto said almost absently, his eyes taking on a concentrated look. "Look, maybe just running to where David is isn't the best plan. If Yenne's fears are true, she may be running into a nest of sho'gan vin, or some of those... things. . . we saw on Aravil." Shaylor shuddered at the mention of the horrible, nightmarish monsters they had all encountered on Aravil, but he immediately saw the logic and nodded.

"You're right. I'm surprised no one thought of that before. Now everyone could be in danger!" If sometimes immature, self-absorbed, or self-pitying, Shaylor was still quite intelligent. "But how can we reach David ahead of the others, and unseen at that?" Anto suddenly found himself the leader once more, and sighed.

Anto had to think. "Maybe, we could use the Engineering tunnels. We could observe David's position and situation from above, in the hidden safety of an airduct, before trying to help him." Anto finally came up with. Shaylor had no arguments, even if travelling in the Engineering tunnels would not be the most pleasant experience.

The Engineering tunnels were dusty, seldom used, dark, and the domain of insects. Anto was happy that this part of Velex did not harbor poisonous bugs. The thoughts of insects reminded him of the Chrarkae, and he savagely killed the thought. Sighing, and covering his mouth with a piece of cloth ripped form the blue t-shirt he wore over his black turtleneck, signifying his designation as a weapons and defense Explorien, he then handed Shaylor a similar piece of cloth. It would not be pleasant to swallow one of the bugs by accident. Flashing, scythe-like claws.... The image came to Anto unbidden, and he shivered, praying to the Velexian's non-existent deity that all would turn out safely and happily before the sun rose.

Using his superior height, Shaylor uncovered the entrance to a tunnel; boosting Anto up when he had finished. Once inside, Anto extended a hand to Shaylor, who climbed into the tunel behind the Velexian. They were off to rescue David! Anto hoped they wouldn't be too late.