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The deck sloped now at a peculiar angle as Gareth gingerly got to his feet. His head was spinning as he grappled with whatever had just happened. In the back of his head, he surmised that the ship’s engine had exploded in some fashion.

“Ok. Let’s get off this ship.” He said without thinking. Forcibly, Hayes got one of the prisoners up onto his feet and hustled him towards the transporter plates. “Osprey? Do we still have a transporter link?”

Transporter control replied. “Affirmative. Your link is good.”

“Ok. We’re sending the last of the slavers through. Move it, move it.” A thought then occurred to him about the emphasis place on ‘your’. “Our link is good?”

“We lost Faraday’s signal initially but have re-established it. The captain is trapped in her section. We are trying to find a means to lock on to her.”

Ryuu raced up to Hayes. “Commander, I can get through the rubble.” Ryuu pointed towards the doorway towards the section where the captain was trapped. Hayes considered that the young man’s frame was the only one likely to fit through the tight spaces available, especially with such a limited window. “If I take a transporter plate we can punch through the interference.”

The young man looked very serious and earnest but Gareth was troubled at the prospect of sending one so young into such a precarious situation. “What are the options Osprey?”

This time it was the voice of T’Renna, cold and implacable on the line. “The released radiation and the continuing nebula interference have made a lock on the Captain impossible. We are unable to raise Captain Faraday on the comm. but are now reading bio-signs.”

Gareth licked his lips and weighed up the possibilities. With a heavy sigh, he turned to look at Ryuu and then through the doorway blocked by the twisted frame of the ship. “Ok Ryuu. As the captain would say, ‘don’t get dead’. Be careful and if needs be, I will order your emergency beam out, captain rescued or not.”

 

* * *

 

Faraday groaned and then lifted her head. Her head ached and she could feel rubble pressing down on her legs. She looked back to see a bulkhead support lay atop of her legs. Twisting to free herself, Mercy wriggled out from under the rubble.

Smoke filled the interior but she felt grateful for the fact she still had air, however polluted, to breathe.  Thankful too for the protection afforded by her armour suit, Mercy stood and tripped forwards away from the collapsed section. She looked around and marvelled at how lucky her escape had been. “What the hell? What just happened?”

Depressing her commwrist Mercy got nothing for her efforts but static. This caused her to wince but added impetus to moving position.

Faraday leaned against a bulkhead and assessed her own condition and her position. A head laceration and a hobbled leg, she’d live. Spying one of the tactical drones pinned down by a bulkhead, Mercy staggered over to it before toppling the metal off the drone and at once it whirred back to life. First it rose hesitantly and then it seemed to recalibrate and hovered with ease, albeit with a groaning wheezing sound.

Linking her commwrist to the built in communication panel, Mercy quickly established a new link to the ship. “Faraday to Osprey. Come in.”

Shelly Logan answered her. “Captain! Thank gods! I’ve got the captain. She’s awake.” The relief was obvious in the master chief’s voice. From this, Mercy concluded that she must have been knocked out for a short time. Her sore head and queasy stomach attested to it further. She rolled over onto one side and gagged as Logan gave her a sit rep.“The engine core gave out and went boom. We got everyone out. Just. However the storm front is closing and the raider vessel is breaking apart. We can’t get a transporter lock on you Cap. Reinitialise the plate enhancers. Get off the ship quick, Boss.”

Meracy wiped her mouth and looked down at a scrap of a transporter plate remnant. “I can’t Sparks. The plates are a no go.” She kicked the nearest offending broken plate for good measure.

“That’s ok Cap. Ryuu is making his way towards you through the rubble with an enhancer plate.”

“Belay that! The fool kid will get himself killed. I’ll get to the raider’s transporter room and try to ...” Mercy then heard the cry again. She darted off in the direction. “Osprey. This is Faraday. I’ve got a straggler. Sounds like a child ... somewhere ahead of me. Get a lock on any vitals and direct me.”

The captain’s feet clanked down the dark hallways as one of the tactical drones followed behind her. It whizzed ahead then probing with a bright search torch as well as scanning and enhancing the ship’s sensors. Mercy stopped to collect her senses and tried to listen out for the cries again.

Now the cool measured voice of T’Renna came over the comlink. “Captain Faraday. I am detecting faint signals approximately seven metres to your left.”

Faraday looked in that direction. The corridor had collapsed partially in the explosion and she had to pick her way over and under the twisted bulkheads. Ahead she saw a twisted doorframe and directed the drone ahead to check it out. “Anything T’Renna?”

“Drone has detected life signs in the room. The structure has collapsed. I believe any life signs are masked by the fallen metal.” T’Renna then added needlessly, “Your time to effect an escape is limited Captain.”

“Once I get the child.” Faraday declared forcibly as she scrambled into the room. The drone circled over head narrowing its search torch methodically looking over and between the warped metal. “Hello? Anyone here?”

“Help us!” came a small child’s plea. Faraday zoned in on the noise and stumbled over to the origin of the small pitiful voice.

“I’m coming. Hold on. Just hold on.” Picking up a metal bar tube, Mercy used it to prise up a sheet of metal she believed to have trapped the child. “Agh. Are you there?” The metal groaned and barely lifted despite Mercy’s exertions.

“Please help.”

“Hold on. I said I’m coming. I’m getting you out of here. Just hold on. Have faith. Believe me. K? Just believe me.”

“Skip. Tthe section you are in is dampening any chances of a transporter lock. You’ll beed to leave it.”

“I’m not leaving without the child, Shelly.”

T’Renna interjected over the comm. to inform Faraday, “We will be able to gain a transporter lock with the enhancer plate.”

“But you will still need to be on it Skipper.”

“Damn it!” The sheet collapsed again as the ship rocked and shifted under her feet. Grasping frantically, Mercy grabbled to steady herself.

The shaking and groaning grew before it started dying out. Everything around Faraday was shifting and threatening to buckle and crumple. Ominously, even as the greater amount of collapse passed, the ship’s frame still shifted and groaned threatening inevitable disintegration.

“Captain Faraday.” T’Renna addressed her without any overt emotional trace in her voice betraying fear or lack in her composure. “The slaver ship is beginning to break apart and the storm is thirty seconds out.”

“Just give me a moment longer.” Mercy declared as she futilely tried to lift the rubble. The little give she made gave way under the enormous weight. “Damn it. Bridge! Wedge the drone in under this bulkhead when I lift.” The drone was directed into the narrow gap Mercy was able to prise apart. It added its power to her efforts and began struggling to lift the weight of the bulkhead. It whirred loudly under the strain, lurching in the air as it struggled to support such a weight.

“Damn!” Mercy cursed aloud as she could now look further in. She saw not one, but two children. One of them was unconscious; the other was calling out for some kind of help. “Hold on love. I’m here. I’m gonna get you out.”

“Skipper!” Skittering through the darkened corridors came Ryuu, his wrist flashlight bouncing off the extensive rubble.

“Ryuu! I thought I said, never mind.” Mercy waved off her recriminations and pointed to the two children. “Here, help me with this.”

“Let me.” Ryuu slipped the transporter enhancer plate off his back before he got into the tight confines. Mercy noted the scrapes on his face and how dirtied his mirco-mesh suit was and realised that the young man must have squeezed himself through some very tight gaps indeed to be able to have made his way towards here.

Mercy initialised the transporter plate as Ryuu crouched down between the gap. He went forwards and wrenched the shouting child out of the rubble. The unconscious child was more firmly trapped and Ryuu had to start pulling twisted metal away.

The captain lifted the crying child out of the gap and herded her towards the plate before going back to Ryuu. “Hurry it up.”

“The wave front is going to impact in fifteen seconds.”

“Captain I will have to raise shields. I cannot risk the lives of all onboard the ship for four lives on the raider.”

Mercy shouted back over the comlink, “Hold on T’Renna! Hold on!”

“Shields on standby. Helm, prepare to evacuate at best speed.”

“Hold on T’Renna!” Mercy tried to implore of T’Renna knowing the Vulcan had to make the choice to save as many lives as possible which would mean leaving them here on the slaver.

“Storm front collision in ... five, four, ...”

“Engineering ...

Mercy grabbed the child tightly into her clutches as the storm approached. She shouted into the ruined ceiling forlornly, “T’Renna!”

“... raise shields ...”

“... three, two, one.”

“T’Renna!”

 

 

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