Saturday, May 23, 2020

Author Highlights

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Andre Alice Norton (born Alice Mary Norton, February 17, 1912 – March 17, 2005) was an American writer of science fiction and fantasy, who also wrote works of historical fiction and contemporary fiction. She wrote primarily under the pen name Andre Norton, but also under Andrew North and Allen Weston. She was the first woman to be Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy,[2] to be SFWA Grand Master,[3] and to be inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.[4][5][6] 

Biography and career

Alice Mary Norton was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1912.[7] Her parents were Adalbert Freely Norton, who owned a rug company, and Bertha Stemm Norton. Alice began writing at Collinwood High School in Cleveland, under the tutelage of Sylvia Cochrane. She was the editor of a literary page in the school's paper,The Collinwood Spotlight, for which she wrote short stories. During this time, she wrote her first book, Ralestone Luck, which was eventually published as her second novel in 1938.
After graduating from high school in 1930, Norton planned to become a teacher, and began studying at Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University. However, in 1932 she had to leave because of the Depression and began working for the Cleveland Library System,[8] where she remained for 18 years, latterly in the children's section of the Nottingham Branch Library in Cleveland. In 1934, she legally changed her name to Andre Alice Norton, a pen name she had adopted for her first book, published later that year, to increase her marketability, since boys were the main audience for fantasy.[8]
During 1940–1941, she worked as a special librarian in the cataloging department of the Library of Congress.[9] She was involved in a project related to alien citizenship which was abruptly terminated upon the American entry into World War II. In 1941 she bought a bookstore called Mystery House in Mount Rainier, Maryland, the eastern neighbor of Washington, D.C. The business failed, and she returned to the Cleveland Public Library until 1950, when she retired due to ill health.[10] She then began working as a reader for publisher-editor Martin Greenberg[a] at Gnome Press, a small press in New York City that focused on science fiction. She remained until 1958, when, with 21 novels published,[11][12] she became a full-time professional writer.
As Norton's health became uncertain, she moved to Winter Park, Florida in November 1966, where she remained until 1997.[13] She moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1997 and was under hospice care from February 21, 2005. She died at home on March 17, 2005, of congestive heart failure. 

Literary career

Norton's novelette "The People of the Crater", published under her "Andrew North" pseudonym, was the cover story in the debut issue of Fantasy Book in 1947.
"The Gifts of Asti", also published under the "North" byline, took the cover of the third issue of Fantasy Book in 1948.
In 1934, her first book, The Prince Commands, being sundry adventures of Michael Karl, sometime crown prince & pretender to the throne of Morvania, with illustrations by Kate Seredy, was published by D. Appleton–Century Company (cataloged by the U.S. Library of Congress as by "AndrĂ© Norton").[14][15] She went on to write several historical novels for the juvenile (now called "young adult") market.
Norton's first published science fiction was a short story, "The People of the Crater", which appeared under the name "Andrew North" as pages 4–18 of the inaugural 1947 number of Fantasy Book, a magazine from Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc.[16] Her first fantasy novel, Huon of the Horn, published by Harcourt Brace under her own name in 1951, adapted the 13th-century story of Huon, Duke of Bordeaux.[17] Her first science fiction novel, Star Man's Son, 2250 A.D., appeared from Harcourt in 1952.[18] She became a prolific novelist in the 1950s, with many of her books published for the juvenile market, at least in their original hardcover editions.
As of 1958, when she became a full-time professional writer, Kirkus had reviewed 16 of her novels,[b] and awarded four of them starred reviews.[12] Her four starred reviews to 1957 had been awarded for three historical adventure novels—Follow the Drum (1942), Scarface (1948), Yankee Privateer (1955)—and one cold war adventure, At Swords' Points (1954). She received four starred reviews subsequently, latest in 1966, including three for science fiction.[12]
Norton was twice nominated for the Hugo Award, in 1964 for the novel Witch World and in 1967 for the novelette "Wizard's World". She was nominated three times for the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, winning the award in 1998. Norton won a number of other genre awards and regularly had works appear in the Locus annual "best of year" polls.[4]
She was a founding member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA), a loose-knit group of Heroic Fantasy authors founded in the 1960s, led by Lin Carter, with entry by fantasy credentials alone. Norton was the only woman among the original eight members. Some works by SAGA members were published in Lin Carter's Flashing Swords! anthologies.
In 1976, Gary Gygax invited Norton to play Dungeons & Dragons in his Greyhawk world. Norton subsequently wrote Quag Keep, which involved a group of characters who travel from the real world to Greyhawk. It was the first novel to be set, at least partially, in the Greyhawk setting and, according to Alternative Worlds, the first to be based on D&D.[19] Quag Keep was excerpted in Issue 12 of The Dragon (February 1978) just prior to the book's release.[20] She and Jean Rabe were collaborating on the sequel to her 1979 Greyhawk novel Quag Keep when she died. Return to Quag Keep was completed by Rabe and published by Tor Books in January 2006.[16]
Her final complete novel, Three Hands for Scorpio, was published on April 1, 2005. Besides Return to Quag Keep, Tor has published two more novels with Norton and Rabe credited as co-authors, Dragon Mage (November 2006) and Taste of Magic (January 2008).[16]


Norton wrote more than a dozen speculative fiction series, but her longest, and longest-running project was "Witch World", which began with the novel Witch World in 1963. The first six novels were Ace Books paperback originals published from 1963 to 1968.[16] From the 1970s most of the series was published in hardcover editions.[16] From the 1980s some were written by Norton and a co-author, and others were anthologies of short fiction for which she was editor. (Witch World became a shared universe.)[c] There were dozens of books in all.[18]
The five novels of The Cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan, To the King a Daughter, Knight or Knave, A Crown Disowned, Dragon Blade, and The Knight of the Red Beard, were written with Sasha Miller.[21] The fifth and last novel was dedicated "To my late collaborator, Andre Norton, whose vision inspired the NordornLand cycle."[22] ("NordornLand cycle" is another name for this cycle.)


Cover of Voodoo Planet by Andrew North, artist Ed Valigursky; half of Ace Double #D-345 (1959)
On February 20, 2005, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, which had honored Norton with its Grand Master Award in 1984, announced the creation of the Andre Norton Award, to be given each year for an outstanding work of fantasy or science fiction for the young adult literature market, beginning with 2005 publications. While the Norton Award is not a Nebula Award, it is voted on by SFWA members on the Nebula ballot and shares some procedures with the Nebula Awards.[23][24][25] Nominally for a young adult book, actually the eligible class is middle grade and young adult novels. This added a category for genre fiction to be recognized and supported for young readers.[26][27] Unlike Nebulas, there is a jury whose function is to expand the ballot beyond the six books with most nominations by members.
Often called the Grande Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy by biographers such as J. M. Cornwell,[28] and organizations such as Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America,[29] Publishers Weekly,[30] and Time, Andre Norton wrote novels for over 70 years. She had a profound influence on the entire genre, having over 300 published titles read by at least four generations of science fiction and fantasy readers and writers. Notable authors who cite her influence include Greg Bear, Lois McMaster Bujold, C. J. Cherryh, Cecilia Dart-Thornton,[31] Tanya Huff,[32] Mercedes Lackey, Charles de Lint, Joan D. Vinge, David Weber, K. D. Wentworth, and Catherine Asaro.

High Hallack Library

The High Hallack Library was a facility that Norton was instrumental in organizing and opening. Designed as a research facility for genre writers, and scholars of "popular" literature (the genres of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, western, romance, gothic, and horror), it was located near Norton's home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.[33]
The facility, named after one of the continents in Norton's Witch World series, was home to over 10,000 texts, videos and various other media. Attached to the facility were three guest rooms, allowing authors and scholars the chance to stay on-site to facilitate their research goals.[33]
The facility was opened on February 28, 1999, and operated until March 2004. Most of the collection was sold during the closing days of the facility. The declining health of Andre Norton was one of the leading causes of its closing.[33]

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Multicreative people can be overwhelmed

Happy Thursday!

First of all I want to thank our amazing contributors during this difficult time.  You are amazing poets, writers, and artists of all fields. Sometimes you do both.  That is what this blog is all about. You inspire us in a way and take us away from the usual dilemma in our worlds.  You rock on, when the rest of us are beaten by the quarantine and everything else going on the last few months.  I finally am taking a week long break without kids in the next couple days as our family looks after them.

My son has special needs, five therapies a week.  Since the shutdown, I have been the therapist while the main therapists do their sessions online.  I am the OT, the PT, and the Speech therapist.  It doesn't stop there, I keep going off hours to build on his levels to get him where he needs to be.   I have a new respect for all the therapists that do this 40x a week.  Take that as one child per hour. So if a therapist has 6 kids a, that is a lot.  My own child is enough, I can tell you.  After the public schools closed,  the situation fell upon me to be sure he doesn't fall behind. He is making progress, great strides.

Aside from that, I find the time to write and finish my second book.  You find the time, someway, somehow.  There is a siege in book two and it's not always easy to keep the focus on the flow, the grammar and everything else in the story.  I find my best times to focus is after our son goes down for a nap around 1:30, and sit here to focus. The weather has to be good, too. Not cold, or windy, rain or snow.  Of course I didn't anticipate the buckets out in the lawn.  My husband does tai chi, kung fu etc.  He's an instructor as well and runs a school out in the country so his office has been outside, too.

We're nearing the end of May and I am feeling the state of being overwhelmed doing everything.  Seems like I haven't had a me day, or a few days to recoup.  Writers need those too.  

So do you have an outdoor office?  I highly recommend it if you need a change of scenery.

Again as the quarantine comes to a close hopefully this summer,  I anticipate the book being completed and having that sense of accomplishment.  I suppose that is step one, and the next step would be looking into publishing it.  I also illustrate, so my graphic arts degree maybe helpful but technology has changed so fast.

My thanks to all who have stuck it out here on our blog and looking forward to wonderful posts.   I like the wonderous variety our blog offers and helping others in their struggles with writing, art or anything creative.  That is what our blog is for.    
As I become less overwhelmed with so much, I can take a breath and finally pay more attention to the blog.    

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Galactica: Overkill Nebula

Aboard Suru, Subcommander Vaterrin watched five Cylon base ships jump into a staggered formation and immediately launch hordes of raiders. His own Batwings were on station in the gaseous nebula, undetectable by enemy sensors, where they maneuvered into ambush positions. The base ships wouldn't commit heavy nukes as yet, waiting to see how their raiders fared.

"Let's get their attention."

Multiple explosions on the Cylon right flank alerted them to an unseen problem. By  now in visual contact with the Batwings, raiders engaged in melee combat. A few blue flares indicated hits on Batwings, whose limited energy screens could handle a few cannon shells until they jumped into killing zones behind their foes. Their lasers took a terrible toll of raiders.

"Secondary batteries, focus fire protocol."

Suru's wing-mounted chain guns concentrated fire on small areas, wiping out whole squadrons. Those raiders not busy with Batwings got through to  launch small nukes against the ship's energy shields.

The Tac officer highlighted base ship icons. "Surviving raiders are falling back. They've engaged main guns."

Flurries of star charges streamed from the slender branched arms of the base ships. Suru's chain guns neutralized some, and the ship nimbly dodged others. Yet too many hits were blossoming fire on the rapidly-draining shields.

"Pulse gun fully charged," said Weapons.

Vaterrin had swung about to  line up with two foes in an overlapping angle. "Fire and jig right."

The ship shuddered upon release of a blue energy spear from the nose. Though a near miss, it continued firing to rake across both base ships, blasting chunks like a fist through balsa wood. It got worse as the plasma reaction began to consume the metal. Both targets went up in a titanic explosion.

"Survivors have jumped out of system," said Tactical. "Coordinates relayed to our Batwings."

"Recharge the pulse gun," Vaterrin ordered. "Jump when ready." That required fifteen minutes, but the Cylons were unaware their jump could be tracked. A terrible surprise awaited them.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The blonde Six commanding Base Five didn't know there was a problem until an energy lance came from nowhere to slash apart Base Three in a nightmare of explosions.

"They've tracked us!" lamented a Four. For some reason, his model affected that of an old man in a slouch hat.

The enemy's main guns began to pummel them.

"Return fire!" the Six ordered. "It's them or us until we can jump again!" At first, the foe appeared outgunned. His energy screens were failing, and flashes erupted along the port wing. "Now we have them, whoever they are!"

"Not so fast," said an oriental Five woman. "That's just reactive plates blowing off. We've hardly dented them."

Suddenly Base Five rocked under tactical nukes launched by the pesky stealth fighters, just as their attacker winked out of sight.

"How can he jump so soon?" demanded the crotchety Four.

The foe reappeared above Base Four at a perpendicular angle, unleashing a volley of heavy missiles. The ship's slender trio of upper arms bent at grotesque angles under black-light eruptions. No debris ejected; the ship was collapsing into itself.

"Black hole bombs!" called the Five. All that remained of Base Four was a sparking, twisted nodule of junk.

Base Five shook again, and all went silent and dark, save for chemical emergency lights. They'd been hit with an energy damping wave.

"Hyper jump offline," warned the Four. "Self destruct offline. Raiding party incoming!"

Battery-powered monitors showed a stream of twin tailed transports swarming toward the central spindle, dodging raiders that drifted without power.

"Direct every last centurion there!" the Five barked.

Monitors showed grim scenes of the silvery robots being blasted apart by rockets from much bigger robots. These looked like canister-head frogs with massive haunches. Marines darted about, scooping up centurions who'd been lassoed by steel cables.

"No, no!" wailed the Five. "They're destroying the resurrect chambers!" That meant any Cylons killed would not be coming back. The enemy were well informed, and now they had captured a base ship.

The control room doors blew inward under a fearsome smash by a frogbot. It stomped in and waved rocket launchers around as it swept the room with purple scans. "Site secured," it said in a booming voice of such basso power as to rattle the sternum.

A bearish, dark haired man sauntered in, escorted by marines. "I hate to ruin your day, folks, but we need one of these fancy spindle ships as a gift for one Admiral Adama." His name tag read Vaterrin.

"And what do you want," the Five demanded.

"You, lady. We're going to study your crackpot philosophy, so don't disappoint, you hear? It keeps our interrogators sharp, even though we already know all your secrets, thanks to one of your own."

At his gesture, the marines took them into custody. Technicians swarmed in, lead by a Cylon Five who had defected aboard Galactica. She could effectively fly the ship until its controls were figured out.

"Who are you?" asked the Cylon Five.

"Earth Protectorate," Vaterrin replied. "If you  cheat by building robots, then we build bigger ones. If you plant agents, we turn them against you. I guess it bites to be one of you."

Monday, May 18, 2020

Galactica: Decision At Road's End

"Would you look at that." Colonel Tigh gaped with his one good eye at the overhead monitor. The warship confronting them had fighter bays like Galactica, but had made no moves as yet. Of greatest concern was the nose hatch, currently closed.

Lt. Gaeta swiveled at his console seat. "Magnetometer is off the scale. It's some kind of plasma weapon, and we don't want to be in the way if they decide to use it."

"They won't," assured the spirit medium, Madam Sazny. "I'm in contact with my counterpart over there, a woman called Shira."

Admiral Adama wasn't going to let this private tea party go on any longer. He pulled down the intership phone. "This is Admiral Adama of the Battlestar Galactica, representing the Twelve Colonies."

The reply had a curious overlay quality, with the speaker's native tongue subdued in the background. So they had a language translator device. ". . . .Commander Selten of the battleship Suru, representing the Earth Protectorate. Your ship could use some drydock time, Admiral." 

That was painfully obvious, given all the scraps with the Cylons. "Is that something you can arrange, Commander? I'm not sure we have a way to pay for it."

"That's the beauty of it. The Malcosians use a barter system. Their preferred medium is literature: heroic sagas and the like. I'm sure your story would entertain them for months."

Adama couldn't suppress the grin he traded with Tigh

"Our telepath has been apprised of your situation. We need to know if these Cylons have technology similar to yours." Adama answered in the affirmative. "Then they represent no threat to us. We need all the intel you can provide, so I suggest making a visit to your ship."

"Certainly, Commander. We'll receive you in docking bay twelve. Our execs can work out the details."

An honor guard formed up on the hangar deck, composed of Adama, President Laura, Tigh, and the full complement of orange-suited deck hands. The track system pulled an impressive shuttle out of the airlock. It was much bigger than Galactica's Raptors, but less agile--a true heavy-lift workhorse. Behind it, two batwing fighters followed on antigravs. The transport lowered a staircase.

"Render honors," Adama ordered, bringing everyone to attention. The short Colonial anthem played, finished up with its rousing drums.

A detachment of black-suited security came down to flank the stairs. Next came a dark-haired man in blue jacket over gray pants and boots. Behind him was a red-haired woman in green jacket and gray skirt. Some moments passed in diplomatic exchange.

"Our first concern," Selten said, "is that spirit familiar who's allowing you to be tracked."

"By all means." Adama gestured to Madam Sazny, who conducted the red-haired Shira with four of Galactica's marines. It pained him a little to see his Viper pilots all but crawling into the exhaust ports of the exotic fighter planes.

Selten also took notice. "Like them, Admiral? I'm prepared to donate those two, if their IAs have no objection."

"Your AI is that advanced?"

"Not in the way you're familiar with. It stands for Indwelling Animus: computers ingrown by lab-raised brain tissue. It can fly the ship when the pilot is injured. The helmet and suit links translate thought into actions." They began walking toward the ships, causing pilots to make way.

Adama walked up the wing and peered into the cockpit.

"Greetings, Admiral. I am Kiria."

A few muted chuckles broke out at Adama's discomfiture. Already his best pilots, Starbuck and Apollo, were being helped into the personalized flight suits for a test run.

Baltar couldn't believe his bad luck. Now a second witch came to accost his Cylon familiar. And here he was on trial for his life. Well, let them try, because the Six would refuse to appear.

Bracketed by four marines were Sazny and the newcomer, a redhead whose badge read Shira.

"Come forth," Shira commanded.

In a shimmer of haze, the Six began to form. Her tortured shape lurched to grip the table edge. "How is this possible? You have no right. . . ."

"It's possible," Shira said, "because my race developed this talent for this very reason." She made claws of her hands and spread them apart against resistance.

The Six put hands to head in agony. Her form wavered in and out of view as she tried to escape. With a scream, she dissolved to phantom winds.

"No!" Baltar fell to his knees, for the first time completely alone.

On the hangar deck, Colonel Tigh brought unwelcome news to Adama. "The Suru has just jumped."

"Merely a precaution," Selten said. One of the deck hands seemed astonished at how a hovering fighter was pushed with  one hand toward the launch tube. "The Cylons are certain to react to the loss of their spirit contact. I've directed my XO to the coordinates we expect them to arrive at."

"That's suicide!" Tigh rasped.

"Preliminaries," Selten insisted. "I intend to locate their home world and destroy it."

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Moon Quaker, Episode 5 — Conclusion

They reloaded the lunar sample because, as Celia said, Rocky was unable to carry out his mission due to circumstances, and the sample would still be useful on Earth. They also stored the two torn spacesuits.

At the control, Celia asked, "Ready to launch?"

Rocky nodded.

They had flown a while when Rocky asked why they didn't see Earth. "We need to loop", is all Celia said.

Rocky was silent during the passage. Celia asked why he wasn't reading his book.

"I've been thinking. There's something about the journey that's becoming familiar. I couldn't see it when we were going through it; but I'm certain I'll remember before long."

Later on the flight he asked again why Earth was still not in sight. She told him she is never confused. Then a small object came into view, and got bigger and bigger. They landed.

"Where are we?" he asked.

"I thought we could use a day or two to rest and calm ourselves. Take off your hat and mittens; and lets go out."

Rocky looked on in astonishment as he saw her remove her helmet. This didn't look like Earth from afar. What if the air is poisonous. He slowed followed her. Outside was a bright, beautiful, lazy day.

"This is what we need," she said.

"It's lovely. I could stay here a long time. But where are we?" He looked about, then asked, "Are those islands? It's my eyes, or are they floating?"

"Floating islands, precisely."

"Are we.... Are we on Perelandra?"

She looked into his eyes and at his sad smile, and said, "Precisely, Doctor...Doctor...Holmes."

Rocky thought a moment, then his smile broadened. "Watson, Dr. Watson."

"Oh," she said, "I'm always confused."

                                              —— The End ——

Hope you enjoyed the space junket. At least it won't fall on your head.

Moon Quaker, Episode 4

Celia and Rocky entered the spacecraft and heard the radio crackling with questions. Celia turned it off. They enter another compartment, and removed their helmet.

Rocky asked, "Do you think we should tell base?"

"Should. But we're in the middle of something; they can't help."

"Did you know Orlando long?"

"No, I met him in training. I got to know him a little. It hurts."

"I sorry." said Rocky, then was silent a while, collecting his thoughts. Finally, he asked, "Who is in command now?"

"Franco seems to think he is. You proved yourself. And I was second in command." After a pause, she said, "When I saw the hideous monster, I thought you would be crushed."

"I had no idea of its size, just that it seemed larger than us."

They chatted a long time, trying to calm each other; but suddenly they heard a loud crashing sound and the spacecraft shook. They held motionless, expecting another blow, but when no more came, they rushed to put on their helmet, and went to the exit chamber. Rocky opened the door slowly at first; there was no sound, then emerged, followed by Celia. Franco was not there, but a litter of robot parts covered the surface. They glanced at each other, knowing what this meant. They looked at the craft, and found no damage; but the monster's arm was gone.

"I have to go down the crater," said Rocky.

Celia said nothing.

Rocky looked at what was left on the ground. "You have the only weapon now, the rest damaged. I'll take this long jagged piece of steel as a sword. Cover me while I go down into the crater. If you need to leave alone you can protect yourself with your arm."

Rocky descended and quickly found the entrance to a cave. Immediately as he entered, a female monster larger than the first, saw him and grasped him. He quickly lost the jagged piece of steel, as they rolled on the ground in deadly combat. He had one arm free with which to strike the monster, but he could inflict no injury. She clasped him, attempting to break his bones or suffocate him. He managed to get up on his feet and throw her on her back; but she still clung to him, then put a hand in his face. He pushed it off with his free hand; but then she struck him in the face with an open hand, the blow stinging him all over, almost sending him into a stupor. His head pushed to one side, his eyes came level with a sword hanging on the wall. He instinctively grabbed it and plunged it deep into her. Her grip relaxed. She lay motionless. He too lay there a long time after the many blows, crushing embraces, and falls. Then, with difficulty he got up, staggered, recovered his breath sufficiently, and looked around him. He saw the first monster in a corner. Not knowing if it was alive, he cut off its head. Then he looked for Franco. He found his bloody spacesuit torn apart. There were no signs of either men who had gone down into the crater. He returned to tell Celia the horrible news.

Galactica Fanfic: The Spirit Medium

A group of seven traversed one of Galactica's outer corridors: Admiral Adama, President Laura, four marines, and an eccentric woman dressed in filmy black. Raven hair topped a diminutive frame, its curls dyed black in defiance of her sixty-odd years. Adama had summoned her from the civilian ship Aurora, acting on an observation made by the president. In the course of spying on the traitor Baltar in his cell, she noticed him gesturing and speaking to some imaginary friend. Or was it real?

A guard admitted them to the holding area, where they took position near Baltar's cell, out of his view.

Adama sighed. "I can't believe I'm doing this. But since we discovered the Cylons are tracking us, I'm not leaving any resource untried." What good was finding Earth if the Cylons did too?

The medium, Madam Sazny, turned owlish eyes on him. "If he does have a spirit familiar, it will come when he feels threatened. Ready?" She led the group in front of the glass plate, catching the prisoner by surprise. "Well, well, isn't she a pretty one. A blonde in a red dress, whispering in his ear."

"What do you see?" asked President Laura. She opened a folder on known Cylon types, so far numbering seven. The medium pointed to a blonde in black. "That's a Cylon Six. We actually have one in a different cell."

"I need to get in there," the medium insisted. Adama nodded to the guard, who began to turn the hatch wheel. "And I need something. . . .that baton!" Again Adama nodded, and a marine presented his baton. "Let's see if this one can manipulate 3D objects. Watch carefully."

Sanzy entered the cell with the baton behind her. Baltar took on a smarmy look, prepared by his unseen companion to counter with a cynical remark. But Sazny only had eyes for the very surprised blonde. "That's right, missy--I'm looking right at you. Catch!" She tossed the baton, which the unprepared woman reflexively caught. Just as quickly, she threw it down and disappeared. "Not very smart, are you, princess? Chicken puke!" With a taunting glance at the bug-eyed Baltar, she recovered the baton and went out, giving it back to the marine.

"We saw that," Laura said. "Something caught it, then dropped it. That makes her a fine assassin."

"Not really. She can't exist far from Baltar, though she feeds him information he couldn't otherwise know. I believe that's how the Cylons are tracking us. Did you know they can even have sex?"

Laura grimaced. "That's just. . . .creepy."

"Wait a minute," Adama injected. "You can sense her thoughts?"

"Yes. She's mourning for the Sevens, who were put in storage--whatever that means." When Laura displayed a photo of one, she added, "Well, I guess you won't be seeing her anymore." Suddenly she went pensive. "There's a great power out there. . . .one like me, who has just become aware of us."

Adama traded looks with Laura. "Is it a threat?"

"I don't think so. Admiral, they know where we are. I suggest we meet them halfway. The route isn't far off the path you're taking to find Earth."

It was quite a leap of faith, taking advice from one who parlayed with spooks.

"Do we risk it?" Laura asked.

"We risk it. If there's any chance of finding friends out there, I'm taking it."