1999, Lyta. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be re-posted in part or in full without written permission from me.

Disclaimer: Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict is copyright 1998, Tribune Entertainment Co. Its characters are used without permission, no infringement is intended.

Rating: PG

Title: Alterations

Author: Lyta


Summary: What if it had been Liam's death that Sandoval faked in “The Vanished”?


Author’s Note: The poem Sandoval quotes from in this story is “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.




    Liam Kincaid came to in a dimly lit holding cell on the Mothership. The first thing he noticed was that his hands were bound behind his back and that someone had taken his clothes and left him wearing a blue bodysuit. Liam wiggled his hands and momentarily debated whether or not to use his shaquarava to take care of the cuffs before he had to concede that such an action would take care of his hands as well.

    Liam sat on the ground. His arms still felt bruised from where the Volunteers had dragged him. A mysterious blond Volunteer had apparently rescued Augur and Doors, he had not recognized her and took no small comfort in knowing they were safe for the moment.  He had been given an injection of some kind by a Volunteer he had recently noticed in discussions with Sandoval. Then he woke up here.

    "Time to go, Major Kincaid." The Volunteer, whose name Liam recalled suddenly as Erika Vosser, said from behind him. "Come on, get up, we don't have a lot of time."

    "I'm in no hurry." Liam quipped.

    "Well thanks to me and an incredibly real looking android, everyone thinks you're dead. Zo'or ordered your execution, so unless you'd like to experience that for real you had better do as I say. As of this moment, I'm the only one on this entire ship who even knows you’re alive."

    Liam was stunned into silence.




    Da'an watched the city lights of Washington D.C. twinkle. With the curfew in effect there were noticeably fewer cars and people at this time of night.

    Liam was dead, and Lili imprisoned for attempting to destroy the Mothership. Da'an had been appalled by Lili's actions, surely she understood that such an attack on the Taelons was an attack on him as well. He had believed that she of all Humans understood this. Now it seemed he had gauged her wrong.

    Though he had personally seen Liam's remains, Da'an found himself wondering if they were a ruse. He still felt the faint presence in the Commonality that was Liam's, faint but like a distant star visible if you knew where and how exactly to look.

    Had his protector's true nature been discovered? Zo'or might not wish to reveal such a fact to the Synod as Kincaid's fate would be decided by them and not solely him. Many on the Synod would wish to use Liam as a weapon, Da'an knew, but Zo'or would prefer to have Liam put into one of the many projects he ran without the knowledge or approval of his Taelon peers.




    "What about the other Resistance prisoners being held on the Mothership?" If Julia and the others were interrogated they would eventually lead the Synod to Doors and Augur, assuming they had not been captured in another sweep.

    "Focus on your own wellbeing for the moment Major."

    "And why exactly should I put my trust in you?" Liam demanded.

    "Sometimes you just have to go on faith, if you still have any left, that is." Vosser gestured for him to follow her, and having no real choice aside from waiting for the Volunteers to stumble across him, he did. Vosser deactivated his handcuffs, but kept the remote in her pocket. Liam began to run his hands over his wrists to ease the stiffness even as he followed her down a little used service corridor. To his amazement, they did not run into anyone else on the way to the shuttlebay.

    "Stop." Vosser ordered, just as he was about to follow her into the shuttle bay.

    "What is it?" Liam whispered.

    "Keep your head down and stay close to me. You're a bit too well known for my taste and I'd rather not have to shoot anyone who recognizes you. Clear?"


    "Okay, now we are going to head over to that shuttle over there. In three minutes its crew will be called to do emergency repair work on another shuttle that should keep them busy for quite a while."

    "A shuttle you arranged to malfunction?" Liam asked.

    "Do you want to get off this ship or not? If I was you I wouldn't be so moral sounding. Coming from you it’s very hypocritical." Vosser nearly snarled.

    "I take it you're not a fan of the Resistance."

    "Does it look like I am?"




    "Who are you working for?" Liam demanded as soon as we were safely in interdimensional space.

    "Everything will become clear in time. Right now concern yourself with landing the shuttle

    "All will be made clear to you in time, right now focus on landing the shuttle."

    "Do you get all your lines from a Magic 8 ball? Besides, I've never had a problem landing the shuttle before so why would I now?"

    "No, but you've also never had to exit interdimensional space and land in a room before have you? Its for our own protection, we can't risk being detected by the Taelons in air space. Here are the coordinates." Vosser handed him her global. Liam gasped when he saw what was on the screen.

    "You've got to be kidding me! "Do you have any idea how small that space is?" Liam asked incredulously

    "As a matter of fact, I do." Vosser replied, her voice betraying a hint of anxiety.

    "I won't have any room to maneuver.

    "I suggest you lock in those coordinates before the Taelons realize they are missing a shuttle."

    Liam sighed and entered the coordinates and hoped that the prayer he silently uttered would help. The shuttle exited ID space in what looked to be an underground parking garage. It might have been roomy for cars, but Liam was fast running out of space in which to land. It was a struggle, but he managed to set it down only a meter away from the wall.

    "What?" Liam said, at Vosser's amused and relieved laugh.

    "Looks like I have more confidence in you than you do in yourself."

    "Now that I got you here you tell me what's going on."

"Patience, Major Kincaid." Vosser said with infuriating calm and self-assurance.




    After they exited the shuttle, he followed Vosser out of the parking area and through the facility. The place looked part warehouse, part prison and part lab. The strange mixture of rubble and high tech equipment was almost amusing. Then Vosser and Liam walked past a clear plastic curtain and he followed her gaze to the main feature of the room.

    An implantation table.

    Liam was flooded by his parent's memories of implantation and for a long moment was too shocked to move. When the flight or fight response kicked in a minute later, he turned to make a run for it, only to slam into a man. The man restrained his arms as Vosser held a device up to his neck. Liam continued to try and free himself even as he felt the sharp sting on his neck and he rapidly became dizzy and weak.

    "Welcome home, Liam." The man said with cold amusement in his voice




    Tired and weak, he could not even put up a token struggle as they lifted him onto the black implantation table and firmly strapped him down. He could not scoot away or even shake his head. All he could do helplessly was watch them calibrate the equipment, moving in and out of his limited field of view, and prepare for the implantation they were about to perform on him. It seemed so surreal, a situation made even more so by the frighteningly vivid memories of when Sandoval and Beckett had been implanted. Unlike most first time implants, Liam knew exactly how horrible it felt when the CVI began to infiltrate the brain. This was not an experience he wanted to have for himself.

    "It's a relatively painless procedure. You should be up and running in a couple of hours." Then Vosser's nameless male associate came over by his face. "Change can be a good thing, Major. Even if it doesn't seem that way at the time."

    Liam could hear Vosser performing a check on a blood sample, a precaution to check for chemicals in his system that could interfere with the CVI, and his vital signs to compare with after the implantation. Then he heard her run the check again.

    "This blood sample must have been contaminated." Vosser announced uncertainly. "This sample shouldn't have these results at completion, much less step one."

    "I took the sample myself. Show me the results." The man demanded.

    "Here, see for your yourself." There was a shuffling of feet as the Volunteer handed over her global.

    The man was silent for a long moment as he checked the data. "I think we'd better tell him about this development. This could prove to be very useful once we know what we really have on our hands with the good Major here."

    "I'll make the call." Liam heard Vosser leave the room and then make a call, but he could not make out what she was saying or to whom she was speaking, but Liam could guess who the recipient of Vosser's call was.

    The man came up to Liam, so that their faces were nearly level. "It would seem Major Kincaid, that you've been keeping some very interesting secrets."




    "Come on, your presence has been requested on the bridge." Her guard sneered at her, her disgust at the Liberation member obvious. Lili sent her a scathing look, but the Volunteer turned away from her, missing her look entirely as she entered in the code to lower the virtual glass barrier that locked her cell. Just as the Volunteer was about to enter, she suddenly crumpled to the deck.

    Lili looked toward where the Volunteer had been standing and saw a blond woman in Volunteer uniform.

    "Switch clothes with her. Hurry if you want to get out of here!" The woman hissed.

    Startled, Lili complied and soon was wearing the Volunteer's uniform. "Turn her head away from the entrance so passer's by will think it's you sleeping."

    Lili turned the Volunteer's head away and rearranged her hair a bit to better facilitate the deception.

    "Good, now pull the face shield of your helmet down, don't look anyone in the face and come with me." The blond ordered, tossing Lili a weapon and gesturing for her to follow.




    "You seem distracted, Agent Sandoval." Da'an asked his former attaché.

    "I keep looking back and trying to find where I failed to notice Marquette and Kincaid's association with the Resistance. Now that Kincaid is dead, I'll never know." Sandoval lied smoothly. "With Marquette's escape that avenue of inquiry has also been eliminated, at least until she can be recaptured. By now, she most likely has gone underground but my people are trying to flush her out into the open."

    Da'an fixed him with a hard and penetrating stare. They were alone in his audience chamber and Sandoval found himself becoming more and more unnerved by the Taelon. "I doubt that."

    Sandoval appeared confused and disturbed. "I don't understand what you are talking about."

    "Major Kincaid's demise..." Da'an began, just as Sandoval's global beeped.

    "I'm sorry Da'an, but I must answer this call." Sandoval said grateful for the excuse to leave his former Taelon master's presence before the conversation progressed and unaware of the small tracking device Da'an had affixed to his coat sleeve.

    Da'an watched him leave with a mix of sorrow and hope. Liam's presence still remained in the Commonality, and Da'an's sources had found no trace of him among the subjects of any of Zo'or's experiments. Thus, Sandoval was his best lead.




    "Sandoval." He answered curtly.

    "Sir." Vosser responded and he noticed anxiety in her voice as well as the uneasiness in her posture that was out of character for her. Had something gone awry with Kincaid's implantation? It was an unlikely occurrence, but not unheard of, especially when the subject was not cooperative as the Major was sure to be.

    "Yes?" Sandoval asked impatiently.

    "It's the subject, there's something you need to know. We discovered a major abnominally in his blood sample: he already has elements of Jaridian DNA in his system, Taelon too and some we cannot identify other than as not being of terrestrial origin. Agent Sandoval, he has a triple helix DNA strand."

    Sandoval blinked in surprise. "How?"

    Vosser looked troubled. "Its too well integrated, he had to have been born that way and if our cellular aging tests are at all accurate he's only about eight months old. There is something else you need to know about," Vosser said carefully, unsure of how he would take her next revelation. "We've identified his human parents. Sir, its you and Lt. Siobhan Beckett."

Sandoval swallowed hard before regaining his composure." Thank you Ms. Vosser. I'll meet you in an hour and attend to this situation personally." Sandoval closed his global. Before any question aside from how entered his mind, his CVI brought forth the vivid memory of awakening in a dumpster. He shivered from the remembered chill.

    "You're a complicated host, Mr. Sandoval…" The alien had said in his voice. It was the last thing Sandoval heard before he lost consciousness. His last thoughts were that the truism that hearing was the last sense to go were true.

    Another memory resurfaced.

    "I remember searching for Ha'gel, and then its all a blank." A dazed Beckett had said, searching her memory for information that did not exist in there. Sandoval recalled that Captain Marquette had reported her death, that Beckett had tried to convince him of the former Marine's connection to the Liberation. He had dismissed her allegations at the time and in the fast paced events that followed he had failed to connect the pieces to the puzzle he only now realized existed.

    Sandoval blanched as the implications set in. He knew where the alien, Kimeran, DNA had originated from.




    Liam was still lying on the implantation table when Sandoval arrived. The Synod leader's implant stared thoughtfully at the man who now lay helplessly bound to the implantation table. For his part, Liam tried to determine who was in the room with him now after having listened to the approaching footsteps, but the restraints severely limited his field of vision and unless the other person moved into that field, he was stuck.

    "I always did wonder how you dispatched the Jaridian replicant and managed to restore Da'an to the Commonality." Sandoval mused aloud as he came closer to Liam. He loosened the restraints on Liam's left hand to stare hard at the faint reddish mark in the center of his palm. "But now you leave me with a dilemma. Everyone believes you are dead and things will become very unhealthy if it is discovered that you are in fact still among the living."

    “You could let me go." Liam offered. "I could go underground…"

    Sandoval laughed bitterly. "With the way the Resistance is having its support yanked out by the Volunteers? They'd find you in a month. No, I have another idea."




    Da'an recalled Augur's global number and carefully sent the cyber-wizard a message along with the information on Sandoval's current location. The message was worded in such a way that Da'an hoped it would disguise its origin. He also hoped that they would find Liam in time. He hoped they would receive his message.




    Liam found that the restraints in the shuttle were just as strong as those used on him in the facility's medical area. At least he could move his head here, that much was an improvement.

    "It was intended that you be outfitted with a special CVI and certain…enhancements prior to your trip, but that was before we knew the truth. Your unique physiology would make the enhancements redundant and even more dangerous than they already are. There simply is no time to indulge in much more through studies, though I've sent some of your blood and tissue samples along with readings from our medical scanners to some associates of mine for further analysis."

    "I'm surprised you didn't just kill me. Or implant me." Liam said bitterly, recalling Sandoval's previous attempts to dispose of him.

    Sandoval looked hurt for a moment. "You seemed to be able to read Eunoia when we were in Ireland, though I dismissed my suspicions as impossible at the time. If anything your heritage will make you a better candidate for this project." The implant paused. "As for the CVI, your unique brain chemistry would make that risky without further analysis and as I just told you time is not on our side at the moment."

    Where are you sending me?" Liam demanded.

    "You should not concern yourself with details. The shuttle is on auto-pilot and the restraints will release automatically when you reach your destination. So just sit back and enjoy the flight. I'm sure that you will understand the necessity of this mission upon arrival."

    "Any chance I can get some complimentary pretzels?"

    "It's good you maintain your sense of humor." Sandoval said with a slight, but sad, smile.

    "I'm not the one who really needs a sense of humor. If Zo'or catches one whiff of what you've been doing here, you are dead. Anyone in the Resistance finds out about you disappearing people and I'm sure it won't be pretty either."

    Sandoval grimaced slightly, but recovered himself. He walked behind Liam's chair to put a respiration mask over his head and in place over his face. "Don't worry, its not like we'll never see each other again. Remember Liam:

"We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are-

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will.

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."


    The sad smile returned for a brief moment, but due to their positions, Liam was unable to see it or the single tear Sandoval allowed to slither down his cheek before wiping it away with his coat sleeve.

    "Godspeed, Liam." Then he left Liam alone in the shuttle.

    Liam wanted to reply, but the mask swallowed his words.




    Sandoval thumbed the button that would activate the program he had installed in Liam's shuttle and sent him on his way. Finally he resigned himself to what he felt must be and pressed the switch. The shuttle entered ID space and Sandoval found himself alone in the concrete walled parking garage.




    Liam tried to catch a last glimpse of Earth, but all he could see was the kaleidoscope of inter-dimensional space. He wondered once again where he was being sent and ran through the brief list of possibilities in his mind. If it was to Jaridian space, then Sandoval was sending them an functional ID drive all but gift-wrapped. That would surely hasten the Jaridian arrival on Earth, an arrival Liam knew to be imminent from both the Taelons and the single Jaridian he had encountered. Then again, he could be going elsewhere. Perhaps he was being sent to meet the Taelon Resisters Bel'lie had spoken of, Lili had to give Sandoval a copy of the renegade's shuttle computer files after all.

    Liam frowned inside the mask. He had accused Vosser of ripping her responses off of a Magic 8 ball, but she seemed positively forthcoming compared to his human father. He felt the sedative begin to enter into his oxygen supply. Everything became increasingly blurry and his last conscious thought was a prayer that his mother would be there to greet him on the other side if this went badly.


To be continued…