Willow's chair fell backwards as she shot up out of it, preparing to use her magic against the attacker. She stopped short when she saw he was wearing an Earth force uniform. The sound of a second, then third PPG charging also caused her to pause.
"What's going on?" Tara asked, her gaze shifting between Willow and the three men surrounding her.
"I wish I knew." Willow's face scrunched up in confusion. Turning to one of the men still aiming their weapons at her she said, "Well?"
"You're under arrest." He indicated with his PPG that she should raise her hands.
"What for?" Willow asked, her confusion growing.
The man laughed at this, "You have to ask? Put your hands out." He stepped forward and as Willow extended her arms he slipped a set of cuffs round her wrists. "Come on."
"Willow?" Tara asked, Tara's mind raced as she went over all the possible explanations for this.
Trying to remain calm Willow said, "Um, I'm sure this is just a misunderstanding."
Tara called after them, "I know someone who may be able to help. I'll go see her."
Willow nodded as she was led away.
Off in the corner of the room a figure watched this with some interest. As soon as they had all gone he got up and hurried out of the restaurant. Reaching his quarters he placed a priority call to Minbar. When a Minbari appeared on the screen he said, "This is ranger Ellison, I need to speak to Delenn urgently."
"I'm afraid she's..."
"This can't wait."
"I'll get her."
While he was waiting Ellison got a small metal triangle out of his jacket and placed it carefully on his desk. A moment later a Minbari female appeared on the screen. She looked like any other Minbari save for having long dark hair, a memento of her decision to become partly human in an effort to help bridge the two races. "What have you found?" She asked.
"I followed the two subjects and used the triluminary on them. They are the ones that Valen wrote about."
Delenn nodded, "I didn't have any doubts. But what is the urgency?"
"There are others interested in Ms Rosenberg. She's just been arrested by security personnel. I fear that it is a set up."
"Someone hoping she'll be easier to trap in custody. I'll see what I can do."
"There's one more thing. Rosenberg, she's a Techno Mage."
Delenn nodded, "I'll be in touch."
Willow was shoved into a cell. "Hey, there's no need to be so rude." Turning to the man who was watching the proceedings she asked, "Are you in charge?"
Nodding he said, "I'm Zack Allen, I'm in charge of security on this station."
"Then maybe you can tell me what is going on."
Zack laughed at this, "Come on you must know."
Willow was starting to get fed up of people telling her she had to know why she was being treated this way, when it ought to be obvious that she didn't. "Look, just humour me."
"There are several warrants for your arrest from all over the galaxy, everything from smuggling to murder. The warrants said that you're extremely dangerous."
Willow couldn't believe this. "You're kidding me."
"We'll need to search your spaceship."
Willow smiled as she said, "Sure, why not?"
Zack's com piece sounded, "Allen here."
"Sir, that ship we were to search, The Hecate, it's started launch procedures."
Zack hit a switch, "C And C, there's a ship launching, I need you to stop it."
"I'm sorry sir, but we can't. The controls aren't responding."
"What are you doing?" This was aimed at Willow.
Willow took a step back, raising her hands, an innocent expression on her face. "Me? I'm not doing anything."
"Sir, the ship just opened a jump point."
"Well I guess that you won't be searching it," Willow pointed out.
Tessa looked up as her door chime sounded, "Come in." Seeing who it was she said, "Tara, what can I do for you?"
Tara took a moment to catch her breath. She had run all the way to Tessa's quarters. When she had gathered herself she said, "I need to ask you a favour, a really really big favour."
"Okay, I was out on a date..."
Tessa looked a little confused at this as she said, "Good for you."
"Thanks, but the thing is security suddenly turned up and arrested her."
"Do you know why?"
"No, they wouldn't tell me."
"Well I'd like to help, but I'm not sure what I can do."
"But you're in charge of intelligence for the Alliance."
"The Alliance yes, but this station is run by Earth Force. You'd need to speak to either lieutenant Allen, or Captain Lochley."
"Captain Lochley? You're right I'll talk to her. Thanks."
"Happy to..." Tessa stopped as she saw that Tara had left.
Tara found Captain Lochley in her office. "I wasn't expecting to find you still working."
"I had some reports to finish up. So what can I do for you, Ms..."
"Maclay. I just thought you might like to know that you've got a techno mage in your cells."
"Excuse me? I think I must have misheard you. Did you say Techno mage?"
"That's right. Some of your security men arrested her a short while ago."
"And she just let herself be arrested?"
"Well I guess she didn't want a confrontation in a public place."
"Right. Look, I don't know what you're..." Captain Lochley stopped as her communicator sounded, "Can you excuse me a moment."
Tara nodded and left.
A few moments later, Captain Lochley came out saying, "Maybe you were right. Come on, let's go and see Zack."
Willow looked up as a woman entered her cell.
"You know it would have been a lot easier if you'd just told us you were a techno mage."
"How'd you find that out?"
"Well that stunt you pulled with your ship was a bit of a give away, plus your girlfriend told us."
"My girlfriend? Oh you mean Tara."
"I have to say I'm a little surprised by the idea of a techno mage having a girlfriend."
Willow smiled, "Then where did you think that little techno mages came from? did you think that the stork brought them, or I know, maybe we're grown in tanks."
Lochley frowned, Willow didn't seem at all like any of the descriptions she had heard. "You don't talk like one either."
Willow just shrugged.
"I take it we're not going to be allowed to search your ship."
Willow drew herself up to her full height and said in an ominous tone, which she'd been practising for years,"There are things in there which you are not ready to see."
"Okay, now you sound like a techno mage."
"I'm not a smuggler or a murderer."
"Okay you can go for now. Just don't leave the station, at least while we check into things."
Willow nodded, "Wasn't planning to."
As Willow reached the door Lochley said,"You really have friends in high places."
"I got a call from Delenn asking me to release you.
"Oh that's nice of her." Willow said as she tried to place the name. As she realised who Lochley meant Willow stopped a moment, "You mean the Delenn?"
"Oh, wow." Willow left, wondering what she'd done to deserve such attention.
Tara waited outside the cells for Willow to come out. Seeing that Willow had been released she walked over saying, "Are you okay?"
Willow nodded, "Pretty good, glad to be out of that cell."
"I'm sorry about you getting arrested."
"Why?" Willow's eyes narrowed, "It wasn't you who set me up, was it?"
Tara lowered her head, "You've found me out."
Willow prodded Tara, "Well just don't do it again, missy."
Tara smiled and as they started towards Tara's quarters she said, "I had a good time tonight, I mean before security turned up."
Willow nodded, "They did kind of put a downer on the evening."
"What I'm saying is I'd like to do it again. Say tomorrow night?""
"I'd love to. Though you do realise that it's your turn to get arrested, don't you?"
"I'll keep that in mind." Tara stopped saying, "Well these are my quarters."
"Oh yes, I know that. Since I've been here." Willow glanced about, looking a bit nervous, "Do you think it'd be okay for me to kiss you?"
Rather than answering Tara leant forward and kissed Willow.
Tara was woken up by her com system beeping. Looking at her clock she saw it was still early in the morning. Getting up she walked over to it grumbling all the way. Seeing who it was she couldn't help smiling, "Faith."
"Hi, Tare. I didn't get you up, did I?"
Tara nodded, "You do know there's a time difference between Minbar and Babylon 5?"
"Of course. You're five hours behind us."
Tara shook her head, "No, we're five hours in front."
Faith looked a bit sheepish, "Oops, sorry. I always get it mixed up."
Tara sighed, "Faith, I'm not interested."
"The only time you seem to call me is when you're trying to fix me up with someone."
"That is so not true. I just called to catch up what's been happening. Now maybe I do know a cute ranger who I think would be..."
"Hear me out. Now she's Minbari but I really think the two of you..."
"I'm seeing someone."
"You are?" Faith looked doubtful for a moment, as Tara had never seemed interested in dating before. Recovering from the surprise she grinned and said, "I mean, hey that's great. Who's the lucky girl?"
"Her name's Willow Rosenberg and I'm the lucky one."
"Well, way to go Tara. Listen why don't I let you get back to bed and I'll call you at a more sociable hour so you can tell me all about her."
"Okay then, talk to you later."
Tara turned and started back towards her bed, only to stop as she noticed for the first time, that there was writing on the walls. The same four words repeated over and over again.
I am the machine.