"Tara calm down."
"Calm down?" Tara was pacing back and forth across the room, making Willow a little dizzy. "Okay, first you tell me I wasn't mugged but was actually abducted by people from the government and that while I was unconscious, I had some alien gizmo stuck in my neck so that I could be used as the control unit for some alien space ship. Now you're telling me to calm down?"
"Tara I know this must be something of a shock."
"You think?" Tara stopped as Willow looked away from her. Kneeling down beside her, she said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to take it out on you. It's just as you said, it's a shock."
"It's okay. I can understand you being upset, I mean I would be if the same thing had been done to me." Willow paused to consider what she had just said, "Except it had, so I guess I mean if it hadn't been done voluntarily I'd be just as upset as you are."
"Wait a minute, you've had the same thing done?"
"Well not exactly the same thing. Look." Willow started to turn around but stopped, "You better not tell anyone what I'm about to show you, especially not any other techno mages."
As Tara began to recover from her shock she felt the playfulness which had been growing round Willow start to return. "Will you get thrown out of the magic circle if they find out?"
"Something like that." Willow turned around and lifted her head up. The scarring was different from that on Tara's neck, but there were similarities. "This is how we do our 'magic'," Willow explained.
"Where did it come from? Did the techno mages make it?"
Willow shook her head. Reaching up to touch the back of Tara's neck she said, "It came from the same place as your implant."
"The Shadows?" Willow nodded. "You knew and you agreed?"
"Well you see I had this theory that technology is only as good or bad as the people using it. Now the techno mages have this technology but they're too busy hiding. I had this idea that I could use the technology to start helping people. I think I was probably very na´ve at the time, but I still think I can do some good."
"You sound like someone with a plan."
"Yes, but at the moment that plan is just catch up with my friends and then come up with a plan for galactic domination." Willow looked shocked, "Oops, I've said too much."
Tara smiled, "I don't know whether or not to hope that you're joking."
Leaning closer she whispered, "Well if you do take over the galaxy, then I get to be your consort, right?"
Willow gulped, suddenly growing warm. "Of course."
"Then I think I like this galactic domination idea."
"Though before that I can get you some information about your implants."
Tara nodded, "I'd like that. Thanks."
Going to her computer console Willow brought up a list of files. Reading one she said, "It was nine years ago, that they intercepted a ship heading to Z'Ha'Dum. It had two hundred telepaths on board, all who had been altered to be used in Shadow Vessels."
"Nine years ago, that was when I was attacked."
"After the civil war they were able to treat the people who had been affected."
"Treat them, us? did they remove the implants?"
"It doesn't say, but I guess so."
"Why weren't we told? I mean after the telepath war we found out so much about what the Psicorps had been up to but we never heard anything about this."
"I guess because the connection between Earth Gov and the Shadows went a lot deeper than just the Psicorps."
"Maybe..." Tara stopped as a video started playing. It showed a woman, there were cables linking her to the stations computers. "What's this?"
"It says that when they revived one of the telepaths she immediately attached herself to the stations systems and began trying to to take control of them."
"Following her programming," Tara said, her voice low.
Willow took her hand and gave it a slight squeeze. Tara smiled, appreciating the gesture.
"I am the machine." The woman on the screen said.
Tara's grip tightened as she gasped, "Oh!"
"What is it?"
Tara explained about the writing she had seen on her wall. "Was it some sort of hold over from the modifications? But if they were removed, why am I still being affected by it?"
"I don't know. There are some files about the procedure to treat you. But the security on these than the others. I could probably open them but it'll take time, especially if I don't want to tip anyone off."
Tara nodded, "Don't do anything that will get you into trouble."
"Don't worry I'll be careful."
Yawning Willow said, "I should probably get back to my quarters. I can get started on accessing those files first thing tomorrow."
Caressing Willow's hand slightly Tara said, "You could stay the night here."
"Are you sure? Isn't it a bit soon?"
"I just meant to sleep, it'd be nice to have someone to spend the night with."
Smiling Willow said, "Yes it would."
Willow was just starting to go to sleep when she was woken by Tara asking, "So what do they want?"
"The Shadows. What do they want?"
Willow smiled, "I think you've got it the wrong way around, generally they ask other people that."
"Yes, but surely they must have some motive other than just causing mayhem for the sake of it."
Willow nodded, "Okay, you see the thing is, both the Vorlons and the Shadows have this idealised view of how the universe works, or at least how they think it should work. Basically what they both want is to force that view on every one else."
"What are these views?"
"Well the Vorlon believe that strength comes from order while the Shadows believe that strength comes from conflict."
"Surely they're both right?"
"Yeah but they're both to stuck in their own viewpoint to even consider that. They'd rather just wipe out the others point of view."
"So the conflict isn't good versus evil."
"Well the Vorlons have spent a long time trying to convince everyone that it is, and that they're the good guys, but, well, they were the first to start using planet killers."
"I guess it's a good thing they left, but if the Shadows have returned..."
"Then the Vorlon won't be far behind, and the whole thing will start up all over again."
"Pleasant thought," Tara murmured.
"Well so far only one ship has been sighted, it could just be something that was left behind. I mean we know they left one of their planet killers behind, so who knows how much technology is still out there."
"So then it's the Drakh? that doesn't sound much better."
"No, it isn't."
Warren was distracted from his work by the door chime. "Yes, what is it?" he demanded in an irritable voice. He soon regretted this when the door opened and Arnold Thomas, his contact within Neotech, entered.
"I do hope that I'm not disturbing you."
"Not at all, I just wasn't expecting this visit."
"I'm sure that you can figure out the reason."
"We need to have her and soon."
"It would have been easier if you'd told me she was a Technomage."
"We have something that will help you." He threw Warren a small black box, "Use this when you next get a chance to capture her."
"Why didn't you give me this before? You didn't know she was a technomage, did you?"
"We hadn't expected them to let her have access to their technology."
"So you don't know every..." Warren stopped as he heard a strange buzzing sound round Arnold.
"You should know this is your last chance. Fail this time and we will find another way for you to make yourself useful. A way which I guarantee you won't enjoy." He turned to leave. He stopped in the doorway as the buzzing sound occurred again. Turning he said, "Oh one more thing, Rosenberg is traveling with a telepath. Ensure that she dies."