Prologue - Karen
Looking down from the window of his office, seeing the four S5's returning from
their latest mission, Commander Joseph Walsh let his mind wander a bit. He
fingered the holo-plate on his desk and after a moment flicked the switch. His
brother Mike's girl was waving at him, dark eyes laughing. The girl had been
pushing for months to be allowed to petition for application to BETA. As her
legal guardian, she needed his permission. He had been reluctant, promising to
give his answer on her seventeenth birthday, which, to his dismay, had been two
weeks earlier. He sighed, feeling old. Did he really want his only living
relative joining BETA? Moreover, did he want to be his niece's commanding
officer? Bad enough he had a pseudo-son in Gooseman, family in the S5's and the
two ambassadors who had started it all....
He had written the letter to Karen. If that was the road she wished to
take, he would not be the one to stand in her way. He addressed it to her
college in the San Francisco Bay area, and his secretary had sent it out. The
girl was arriving in an hour, and he called Shane to his office. He had a
meeting with Senators Percy and Wyner, and couldn't meet the girl at the port.
He didn't want her to be met by a complete stranger, and Gooseman was practically
* * *
Goose looked up to see a crowd milling around the baggage monitors of
Phoenix spaceport, and winced as klaxons pierced the air, matched only by the
voices of the two arguing at the source of the disturbance. Somehow he had a
sinking feeling that one of those voices belonged to his charge.
"...I'm telling you according to League of Planets regulations, no weapons
are allowed to enter or leave the port unless proper documentation is
"And I'm telling you I'm not going anywhere with out them! They let them
on the shuttle in Frisco, and I don't see what the problem is here. They're not
even covered in the articles anyway. That only covers hand blasters and other
powered devices!" A woman's voice growled, and Goose arrived to see a petit,
slender woman with short cropped dark hair and murder in her eyes wrestling with
a port official for a valise. He glanced at the monitor to see what the X-Ray
had revealed the contents to be, and grimaced as he saw displayed there a vast
arraignment of knives, throwing stars, what appeared to be a centuries old
katana, sai, shuriken, etc. The port official looked ready to burst a blood
vessel, his face a dangerous shade of purple.
"Karen Walsh?" Goose asked, afraid of the answer.
"Who's asking?" She took in his black off duty digs with skepticism.
"Ranger Shane Gooseman. Your uncle sent me to collect you."He raised
a brow as she colored, and he gestured to her bags. "This everything?" She
nodded, and he picked the up with one hand, gesturing for her to take the valise
on the table as well, even as the official sputtered in anger, and they walked
out of the terminal.
* * *
"So, you're Gooseman." She took a closer look as the approached his
flitter. "I've heard a lot about you."
"And I've seen your baby pictures. Throw your stuff in the back." He
climbed in and punched in the key code. "Do you make as much noise everywhere
"Only when somebody makes me mad," she answered, snapping her belt in
place, and they lifted off in the direction of BETA mountain. Goose chuckled,
and kicked the flitter into high gear. This was gonna be one hell of a
* * *
Somehow, in her first month at BETA, Karen Walsh managed to spend more time
with the series five Rangers than she seemed to be spending in training. Every
second of her spare time (Zach once remarked to Doc that he certainly didn't
remember having so much free time when he was a cadet) was spent in the crew
lounge, playing table tennis with Zach Jr. when he arrived to spend his school
holiday with his dad, or playing video games with Doc, whom she could never, ever
beat (and it made her crazy), or trying to show Buzzwang the latest dance steps.
She was a veritable bundle of energy. As the Commander was her only
family, that made the S5's, in her eyes, extended family. As long as she kept
her grades up (near perfect, though no one could quite figure out when the hell
she took the time to study) she was allowed the run of the base. Most cadets
stuck with their own class, hanging out, and so on. Not Karen. First thing, she
and Niko got to chatting, mostly about some long dead Japanese dynasty or
sixteenth century samurai swords, and found they had a great deal in common
despite the difference in their ages.
It was obvious to any and all that it was Karen's great ambition in life
to be a Ranger. And perhaps, if she kept at it, it wasn't so such a far off
dream at all. Although she did have a nasty habit of showing up in areas where
she had no clearance, and Doc was beginning to suspect she had some hacking
skills to rival his as she seemed to squeeze all kinds of classified information
out of Q-Ball's computers effortlessly. The Commander was always pulling one or
another of the S5's aside, and asking them politely to look after his niece, as
she seemed to be `an accident waiting to happen' half the time, and they would
smile at his paternal tone, and promise.