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Those same plates deployed by Hayes were the same kind of point of entry for Mercy’s team. First one larger disc transporter enhancer was beamed in to a corridor on the ship. When it materialised and sent back an all clear signal, six more plates then materialised around it. Team Raptor commanded by Captain Mercy Faraday standing on the centre plate materialised with their carbine rifles raised a moment later. Above them, the form of two automated tactical drones appeared and whizzed about above them providing intel and telemetry to the boarding party and bridge.

“Raptor team, position secure.”

“Copy captain.” A moment passed as Faraday awaited the readings from the drones to her stat-mat and verification from the bridge. “We detect armed groups heading two intersections over. They are making their way to the holding cells.”

Faraday rolled her stat-mat closed. The silicone electro-mesh gave an MSD like sensor readout of their surroundings and telemetry. “Copy. Moving out. Let’s cut them off at our chokehold point.” With that, Mercy darted forwards and the team followed, barrelling down the corridors of the ship as quickly but as quietly as they could, with the drones ever present above them. The team quickly sprang into ambush positions, hiding behind bulks, cargo crates and corners as the Orion thugs charged towards the holding pens.

“Lock down the doors.”

The doors behind them to the holding pens were locked by Khien and the controls fried. From ahead, the approach of the reinforcements resounded. As much as Mercy wanted to squeeze off rounds and have the element of surprise, her conscience demanded that she shout out. “Stop!”

Her commanding voice had the effect of startling and halting the troop of thugs who turned with weapons raised to the sudden announcement of Mercy’s team. Though it did not need saying, Mercy declared, “Starfleet Border Patrol. Hands up and get down on the deck.”

The Orion henchmen opened fire.

“They don’t seem to be in the listening mood Boss.” Security grunt Mercus intoned in his deep baritone voice as he dove for cover.

“Eh!” She shrugged indifferent. “Truth be told Mercus, I was rather expecting and hoping it would go down this way.”

The same wicked smile spread on Mercus’s blue Cameroe features as hers. “Heh, heh. Me too, Boss.”

To the rest of the team, Mercy cocked her carbine and declared loudly, “Ok team, that’s the legalities out of the way. Kick butt.”

Mercus popped off a quick burst of fire as he added his shout to the call, “You heard the Boss. Take ‘em down.”

* * *

 

An enlisted security officer kicked the door against the wall and quickly scanned the empty room with the tip of his carbine. He hollered out to his back up. “All clear.”

The same procedure was carried out by another team two doors down. “Clear.”

Gareth Hayes popped the lock to the cell he was checking and kicked the door wide open. He fully expected to announce it as all clear but instead the sight struck him as he took in at least twenty five prisoners hemmed into the tight confines. Their condition was woeful, skeletal features and thin scaled skin of a washed out grey and eyes that were sunken in the seemingly cavernous eye ridges.

“I got more prisoners here. Medical assistance!” He turned to the tactical drone and waved it towards him. “Record this.”

He looked back appalled at the sight – truly horrifying and shocking and for some reason the fact they were all Cardassian had caused Gareth’s guts to churn. With tender care, Gareth led those able to walk out of the cells. They flinched and recoiled from their saviours wary that this rescue was for real.

Hayes tapped his comm. wrist and spoke to the ship. “Osprey. This is Hayes. We’ve got more prisoners. They’re Cardassian and in medical need too. Transporting the walking wounded now.”

Acknowledged. Medical assistance on stand-by.”

 

* * *

The disruptor blasts pocketed the walls around them as the barrage of fire came in from the Orion henchmen. Scowling as she kept low for cover, Mercy Faraday gripped her carbine rifle and twisted it with frustration.

“We got five left Boss. The others have been felled or have fallen back.” Mercus informed her as he peeked out to look down the corridor between incoming shots. The Cameroe chuckled as phaser blasts narrowly missed his blue face. Of course, his keen senses and nimble moves helped Mercus to avoid the incoming fire.

“Well I want that last five taken down. We got a class six ion storm heading our way and I want us to haul ass out of here as soon as.”

“I got no problem with that.”

“Cap. This is Mbeke. We got the crew here secured and are sending them back to the ship. But we got a ticking time bomb here. Sparks tells me the engine is reaching critical. It got cracked in the rat trap and she’s struggling to contain it.”

“Damn it.” Mercy cursed at the floor. “Ok. You get that T’Renna?”

“Affirmative Captain, the ship is reading critical power build up in the engineering section.”

“Swell. Ok. The priority is the evac of the slaves and then the crew in engineering. Keep us appraised.” T’Renna coolly acknowledged the orders. To her team Mercy now said, “Well then, I guess we’re going to have to be a little more proactive in stopping these guys. Mercus hit the power node over them. Shower them with sparks. Roueché – cover us when we make the bolt. Qwen and Eir you’re with me. When Mercus makes them duck low we’re going to run at them. Shoot and hit as we run. K?”

“Yes Boss.”

“K. Let’s do this. Mercus – shoot!”

Mercus hopped out and fired above the heads of the pirates. The ceiling exploded in an angry ball of flames and sparks. Mercy and her cohort were already running at the ducking pirates. Mercus ran after them. Two, then three pirates were hit squarely as they fell. Mercy reached a fourth struggling up to his feet and walloped him with her shortened carbine butt. Qwen karate kicked the fifth pirate before Eir and Mercus ran up to the prostrate pirate and clapped him in cuffs.

“Don’t move scumbag.” Mercy glowered at the pirate under her foot with her carbine now pointing at his angry face. “We secure here Mercus?”

“All good, Boss.”

Roueché came up to their position and directed the team to cuff the others and send them back to the plates to be transported to the brig. “Osprey, this is Roueché. Area is secured for now. We’re sending back captives.”

Mercy clapped her comm. wrist. “Falcon leader, what is your status?”

Hayes’ concerned voice rebounded back in the dim corridor. “We found some more prisoners. They’re ... they’re in a bad way. They’re all ... all Cardassian.”

“Cardassian?” Mercy shook her head of the questions that fact conjured. She focused on the here and now. “What’s the scope on completion of your mission?”

“All areas now checked. We are starting to beam the last of these prisoners back to Osprey now.”

“Good. Get back to the Osprey now. We’re running. Storm’s coming in and the ship is cracking up.”

But Captain...”

“No buts XO. Hurry it up. It’s time to save our butts. Raptor leader, out.” Mercy closed the channel to Hayes and opened one to Mitch Duncannon. “Mitch?”

Bridge secured. Do you want us to take them into custody?

“T’Renna, E.T.A. on the storm front?”

“Five minutes.”

Mercy stewed on the matter. She gave the suspect under the heel of her boot a dire look and it was clear she was thinking about abandoning them to their fate. Tagging the pirates was going to cost them precious time. “Damn it. Haul them in Mitch. But we don’t have time for niceties. All teams begin tagging suspects. Transporter control prepare for mass evacuation of Orion Raider. Beam ‘em to the brigs. Additional security on standby.”

The teams all worked fast and frantic but methodically tagging and transporting the criminal pirates to the extensive brig on the Osprey while Hayes’ team got the freed prisoners to safety and medical attention. Mercy paced the whole while in the corridor of the slaver ship keeping tabs on the incoming storm front and the status of the evacuation. She found herself once again cursing the E.M. interference of the Gauntlet that prevented them from simply performing an emergency mass beam out from the slaver ship. Instead, the more laborious task of tagging with transporter tags and bringing everyone to the transporter enhancer plates ate into their window to escape the brunt of the storm.

“We’re good here, Boss.” Mercus informed her as the last of the pirates from their section were beamed over to the ship.

“Good. This is Raptor 1. Team is evacuating slaver. Go Roueché.”

Roueché went ahead of the others as Mercus and Faraday kept a wary eye for any unexpected surprises. “Just us Mercus. Step on the plates.”

“After you, Boss.”

“Do as you’re told.” Mercus laughed at her order but complied, shaking his head, his now loose braided locks banging softly against one another. Just as he stepped onto the plate Mercy whipped her head round in the direction of a far off cry. “Wait!”

Mercus looked alarmed as his captain’s warning came just as he disappeared into the transporter mist.

Mercy watched him disappear before looking back in the direction of the cry she had heard. It sounded like the whimpering of a child. “Osprey ...” Before she could say anything the ship suddenly pitched violently to one side as a thunderous explosion resounded somewhere in the hull.

* * *

Hayes approached the plates with the last of their prisoners. All of the slaves had been transported over first. He kept a countdown in his head of their diminishing window of time when suddenly the ship bolted as the deck buckled and an almighty roar blasted through the corridors.

Crew and pirates toppled over as the violent shuddering of the ship’s space frame jolted them. Fire exploded through open hatchways that led up from the engineering section.  A prisoner made a run for it but fell and cracked his head off a buckling wall and then was crushed by the collapsing ceiling.

* * *

Faraday careened off the bulkhead beside her and came to a heap on the floor. Above her, the ceiling girder crumpled and collapsed down to skewer the transporter plates, which cracked and crackled before they dulled, lifeless with no power.

She twisted and fell as the deck gave out under her. Girders and steel sliced through the deck and flames sprouted all around her. The entire section trembled and rumbled before the ceiling above rained down on Mercy.

 

* * *

Bridge

The Osprey shook from the blast of the exploding raider. The vacuum of space quickly muted the explosion and revealed the raider remained, albeit in a ruined state. As the effects dissipated, the bridge crew quickly took a sigh of relief that their crewmates and captain were not obliterated without a trace. T’Renna quickly regained their focus asking for a curt account of any damage to ship systems.

“Shields held, minimum damage sustained.”

Cree began manoeuvring the ship away from the hulk. “Backing off from raider.”

T’Renna studied the incoming data from the raider and from across the ship for herself. She signalled for the alarms to be cut. “Status on the raider and boarding teams.”

“The engine core ruptured Lt. Commander and there is extensive damage onboard. Large sections of the port side have collapsed and the engineering level is almost completely exposed to space.”

“We’re still reading numerous life signs and bio-reads aboard the raider.” T’Renna quickly scanned the bio-reads that came from the combadges or comm.wrists worn by the boarding parties. Although stoic in the situation, she felt a degree of satisfaction that the computer read out showed no fatal casualties to their personnel.

“Lower our shields again. Begin emergency transport of all remaining personnel.”

“Commander T’Renna, I’m ... I’m unable to detect a signal for the captain.”

 

* * *



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