|What May Come
Author: Tajjas PM
Stopping at a station for minor repairs leads to trouble when the Christa and part of her crew go missing.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure - Chapters: 25 - Words: 68,365 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 01-27-06 - Published: 05-14-05 - id: 2394183
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
What May Come
Please see chapter 1 for author's notes.
I am aware of the fact that not all of the Spung in this chapter speak grammatically correct English. I doubt the Spung military gave lessons in the language of the enemy.
Chapter 25: Who's Side Are You On?
A moment ago the universe had made sense, Harlan noted, staring at the scene in front of him. Granted, it had been scary sense, considering his best friend had just been shot, the Commander was bleeding, and they were all being shot at, but at least he knew how things had come to be. Now…an Ashrach lay on the floor, dropped by the Commander's weapon as he'd blocked the shot at the tall Spung. Said Spung was being held back by Jacie, who had one hand clamped over his holster and was refusing to let him draw the weapon. Harlan couldn't understand what the Ashrach was saying, and Radu wasn't in any shape to translate, but it didn't sound particularly threatening. Somehow two of the three who'd been shooting at them lay dead—he hadn't seen it happen; he'd been looking at the Commander. And now the remaining one—the female—had loosened her grip on her weapon and was staring at the dead boy.
"Taver, enough!" Aslinn's voice made Jacie and the tall Spung turn towards him. "What happened?"
"He shot Dak! And the blast was set high," the man responded. "Dak wouldn't have bothered to block a knockout!"
The woman hissed something, and her force shield dissipated as she tapped her waist. She knelt down by the boy, then jerked back upright hissing fiercely. When no one responded immediately, she shook her head. "Where fixing?"
"What?" Harlan blurted.
"Where I fix him!"
"No one's going anywhere," Goddard said firmly. "I don't know who you are or what you want, but—"
At that, the tall Spung caught Jacie around the waist and lifted him out of the way, moving towards the commander with a snarl. "Taver, no!" Aslinn interrupted, moving to block his path. "Help your brother! Commander, we'll explain later, but if Dak is still alive after catching that shot, we need to move now. Jacie, grab Radu, he doesn't look so good either. Now where is medical?"
Harlan looked at the Commander, who looked as confused as he felt, but the older man still managed to make a snap decision. "Fine, we'll take you, but your weapons stay here."
This time both Spung hissed in annoyance, but the female dropped hers on the floor and tugged the one out of the other Spung's holster—he'd lifted the Ashrach boy and couldn't get to it himself. "Just to hurry!"
Goddard led the way, indicating for Harlan to bring up the rear. The teenager had moved to assist Radu at first, but Jacie had waved him off. Radu was bleeding pretty heavily from the open side anyway…Harlan couldn't really get in there to help anyway. "Should we get Rosie?" he asked.
"After we get them there," Commander Goddard said. "I don't want to risk using the intercom. Do any of you have medical training?"
"Malee does," Aslinn said with a nod to the Spung girl. "More so than the rest of us, anyway. Tav, is he…"
"Still breathes, barely…his face is burned..." He glanced back at Harlan. "Watch rear, we are not the only Spung on board."
Something about his face sparked Harlan's memory… "Hey, I know you! You're the one who intercepted our transmission! Why are you helping us?"
"Intercepted what transmission? You is the ones who hanged up on…" There was a pained moan, and his attention immediately focused on the figure in his arms. "Dak? Dahak?" He began to hiss quietly.
"They're in the resistance?" Radu asked. "You gave us their contact codes on purpose?"
"Of course…the four of them are four of our best. They were our first assignment for evacuation…when we found out they were with a newly captured ship of unknown design we tried to contact you, but you must have been on the Centauri ship by then." Aslinn shrugged.
"The Rockhopper made it this far that fast?"
"Maybe it could have once upon a time, but not with as much damage as we took. Caught a ride on with a transport captain we know—he's waiting beyond the perimiter to evac us all—and then shuttled in maybe twenty minutes ago. Good timing, I suppose."
"Here's medical," Goddard announced.
The female—Malee—said something to the taller Spung, who immediately put the Ashrach boy down on one of the beds. "She wants a…something scanner," Aslinn said a moment later.
"Diagnostic scanner," Jacie put in. "And sedatives…I don't know what you'd be calling them, or if you even have the ones she wants."
"The others are in the old engine room. I'll go down and get them—get Rosie, anyway," Goddard announced.
"Alone? Commander, are you sure that's such a good idea?" The man had what looked like a nasty gash along the top of his skull…it didn't seem to be bothering him that much, but it was still bleeding.
"I want you here to watch them," Goddard said firmly, pulling a bandage out of one of the cabinets and passing it to the teenagers. "Harlan, help him bind the wound. Radu, try not to move until Rosie and I get back here."
"I'll go with you," Aslinn offered.
That drew an immediate and disturbed glance from Jacie, and the human shook his head. "Bad plan, brother, you and Taver are the only two here fluent in both Spung and Standard, and he's…"
Since Taver was apparently the taller Spung, still staring at the burned figure on the medical pallet, Jacie was the obviously the only one actually fit to do any translating. "Be careful."
"Take." Malee passed over the odd object that had generated the force shield absently, concentrating on the various medications that lined the walls.
"She wants to put a needle and tube in his arm," Jacie reported.
"An IV? I don't know where Rosie keeps that stuff," Harlan admitted.
"Lower cabinet." Radu was sitting at the head of one of the other beds, still looking unsteady. "Not sure if there are needles."
Goddard tied off a quick bandage around his temple, preparing to open the door. Aslinn fell in at his shoulder. "Be careful. We'll be back with help as soon as possible."
Harlan maneuvered to put himself next to Radu, still gripping his weapon. He wasn't quite sure how to go about helping Radu if he was still supposed to be keeping their…prisoners wasn't the right word…well, whatever they were, he was supposed to be keeping an eye on them. They didn't exactly look threatening though. Jacie was tugging insistently—although apparently not very hard—at Taver's arm; he wanted the man to step back and let the woman work and the man wasn't thrilled with the idea of leaving the Ashrach's—Dak's?—side. The woman had a needle in one hand and was trying to maneuver the boy's arm into a position that would allow her to insert it. He set the gun down on the edge of the bunk. "Radu?"
"I'm all right…it's just a nasty gash."
"Let's wrap it anyway," Harlan insisted. "Hold that end in place." He had no idea how tight he should make the bandage—he hadn't been paying much attention in class the day they covered first aid—and he didn't think Radu would know either. After all, he'd been Harlan's opponent in virtual Tri-D chess at the time. "Tell me if it hurts."
Radu shook his head. "It hurts now."
"Well…tell me if it gets worse."
The Spung woman hissed something, the only understandable portion of which was Jacie's name, and he gave up tugging on Taver's arm to come stand by Harlan. "Let me see." A couple careful pulls on the bandage Harlan had tied off and he nodded. "That looks fine. Just…stay still."
"Was planning on it," Radu replied after a moment.
"You want me to find some…whatever the Andromedan equivalent of aspirin is?" Harlan asked, frowning at the orange-pinkish blood that was slowly seeping through the bandage.
Radu looked dubious, probably at Harlan's ability to safely select medication. "I think we better wait till Rosie gets here."
"Yeah, okay." Harlan didn't like the look on Radu's face. They'd all been staring at the burned boy—Jacie and the two Spung in the room were still focused on him—but Radu was even paler than normal, and if the white knuckles were any indication of his grip, the edges of the bunk were never going to be the same again. "I hope the commander hurries."
Rosie Ianni had her gloves off and was soldering wires into place as fast as she safely could. It was bad enough that the engine room had been completely shut down when the secondary engines had been discovered, but the fact that Suzee had never truly worked on these engines except as a voice in Catalina's head was making the task of rerouting power to bring up the consoles without alerting the Spung nearly impossible. Miss Davenport was doing something with the computers…Rosie wasn't entirely sure what…while Suzee and Bova were working on another portion of the engines. Bova had managed to jump start them once at the start of their journey, they were counting on him being able to repeat the procedure again.
"Roise, how close are you to being done?"
"About halfway," she reported. "But I'm sure the rest will go much faster." After all, that's how it always worked…once you were started it was much easier to finish. And now that Suzee and Commander Goddard and Harlan and Radu were back, there was nothing to keep them from hyperjumping right out of Spung territory. "Miss Davenport, is everything all right?"
"I'm trying to track the rest of the Spung onboard the ship…the Christa is allowing me to use all of her systems for once…although that may be because I'm not attempting to alter anything..." she trailed off at sounds from the corridor.
Bova came around to the front, charging up his antennae. The food Suzee and Miss Davenport had brought had done wonders for his ability to hold a charge. "Who's there?"
"It's Commander Goddard, open the door."
Rosie broke into an even wider grin at the familiar voice, moving to disable the lock. "Just a minute!"
"Wait!" Miss Davenport ordered. "How do we know he's not a prisoner? Commander, are you alone?"
"Because if he is a prisoner with two Spung standing behind him, they aren't going to have a problem with him announcing this fact," Bova muttered.
"I've got Aslinn—one of the people that helped us find you—with me. We need Rosie; an Ashrach—Andromedan boy—is badly burned and Radu was shot in the side. It didn't look deep, but he's lost a lot of blood."
Rosie had the door open before he finished his diagnosis. "Where are they?"
"Medical. The Spung girl—she's apparently part of the Resistance—apparently has some medical knowledge, but we don't know where all the supplies we need are."
"Resistance to what?" Miss Davenport asked.
"Let's not go there now," a redheaded human, maybe a few years older than Harlan, said from the doorway. "Not everyone in the Empire like how the military runs things. But if you're the medical expert, Malee could use your help—I'm not sure how Dak took a kill-setting blast from one of our weapons and survived."
"Kill setting?" Rosie asked.
"We weren't using 'kill'," Goddard admitted. "It wasn't having any effect on their shields so we upped it to the highest setting."
"He took the blast at 'crispy critter'? Huh. Verkai will know...he's the one who gave us the things."
"We better move…how long until you can get the jump engines online?" Goddard asked Suzee.
"We haven't even got the consoles up yet…I'm not sure whether they've put blocks on the jump engines or not, and I won't know until we can do a diagnostic sweep." She gestured at the tangle of wires Rosie had been working on. "We're having to drain from nonessential systems that the Spung hopefully don't know about."
"If you've got an extra soldering gun I can help with that," Aslinn volunteered. "More use here than in medical anyway."
"Fine," Goddard agreed. "Suzee can tell you what to do. Rosie, is there anything you might need that won't be in medical?"
She shook her head, following him out the door and into the corridor. "What happened to you?"
"Got clipped…it's just a cut, nothing to worry about."
Rosie wasn't convinced—even glancing head wounds should be checked—but it wasn't the time to argue. "Is Harlan all right?"
"He took a shot in the shoulder a couple days ago, but other than that he's in the best shape of all of us." Goddard stopped at an intersection, signaling her to silence. "Do you hear that?"
She bit her lip and concentrated. It was faint, but… "I think someone's coming."
"All right, keep going. Quick and quiet, I'll take rear."
She stayed close to the walls, listening carefully before making any turns. The Christa was a large ship, there probably wouldn't be anyone else popping up in front of them, but…well, it never hurt to be careful. The sound of approaching nails seemed closer now. She turned back towards the Commander to find he'd halted at the previous intersection and drawn his weapon. "Commander?"
"Go on, I'll be there in a moment. I don't want them pinning us down in medical."
She wanted to argue, but he was the commander, and she had patients waiting. "Be careful." A moment later she was in front of medbay, and she ducked through the hatch as soon as it opened. And found herself slammed into a wall with an impossibly strong hand holding her just below her collar. "Hey!"
"Rosie? Jacie, let her go! She's our medic!"
"Oh. Sorry." She was released, and after turning found herself face-to-face with and Andromedan she didn't recognize. "Where are Aslinn and the Commander?" he asked.
"Commander Goddard…someone was behind us, he was going to stop them from getting here," she reported. "I'm sure he'll be here in a minute. Was Aslinn the human who was with him when he came to get me?"
"He stayed to help the others in the engine room." She rubbed the back of her neck and surveyed the rest of the inhabitants of the room. Harlan leaned against one of the bunks—he'd been the one to yell at the Ashrach to let her go. Radu sat beside him, looking pale but alert. A Spung woman had her back to them, leaning over another bunk where someone with blond hair rested—the one who was burned, probably—and another Spung stood beside her also facing the one on the bed. "Radu, are you all right?"
She'd never had the heart to tell Radu he was a bad liar, but he really was. "I'll get you some pain pills anyway. Does he need some also?" The Spung woman hissed something, turning to face Rosie, and the Mercurian girl felt a chill pass through her. "You're the one who came to see if we were still locked up!"
"You did what?" Harlan demanded.
"Stupid idiot not look where go. Danshir behind with gun…" she trailed off in a stream of hisses.
"Danshir—who is very much not resistance member—was behind me with gun, and since you were careless enough walk to right into us we did not have choice but to recapture," the tall Spung beside her.
"You were there too," Rosie said in surprise. "You told the Andromedan—Ashrach—whatever—boy to lock us up somewhere in the first place."
"His name is Dahak—everyone call him Dak," the Spung said with a nod to the figure on the bed. "I am Taver, his brother. This is my mother's sister's daughter Malee…her brother Verkai is around here somewhere also. The four of us are one of the military-based resistance units." The girl hissed something else. "Malee wants nerve numbing cream, and what we call Darghossil…I am not sure if there is name for it in Standard. Ashrach fake skin? It keeps burns clean."
"We have pseudoskin," Rosie agreed. "Although…do you mind if I look? He might be better off in the healing chambers."
"Healing chamber?" The woman gave her a sharp look. "Explain."
"They're one of the Christa's more advanced systems. We haven't done an in-depth study of them, but they speed healing and keep the person unconscious until they've reached a point where they can be safely revived." She moved to stand next to the medical bunk and couldn't hide her wince. Most of his face and the upper portion of his chest was badly burned…his eyelids were swollen shut and she hoped he'd gotten them closed before the blast was able to burn the irises. There was some sort of IV hooked up…the Spung woman must have done it, and monitoring equipment measured his heard rate and breathing. His heart was too fast—probably from pain—and the breathing was far too slow and shallow. "Healing chamber, now. Bring him over her care—"
Before she could finish speaking, the Spung man had the boy in his arms. "Show me where put him."
She activated one of the chambers without thinking, realizing belatedly that if the Spung were monitoring the power relays they'd certainly notice the spike that just went up in the medical bay. But it was too late to worry about that now, and anyway most of the Spung onboard the Christa were dead or in medical with her. "Right in here. I'll set the parameters for an Andromedan patient." The machine whirred to life as she entered the appropriate information, and the casing slid closed over his body.
"What is happening?" Taver demanded.
"It's all right. It's setting up an internal atmosphere to help aid healing…airborne cooling agents and such."
"How long does he have to be in there?"
She shook her head. "Most of the surface damage should heal within a week—seven standard days. Although, his eyes…if they were burned it's possible that they won't heal. But that's probably not the case, closing your eyes when something is going to his you is an instinctive reaction." She hated mentioning possible negative outcomes, but her patient's family needed to know the truth.
The Spung man hissed something at the boy in the bunk bed, and then turned back to Rosie. "Thank you. If…we may have to leave before full week is concluded. Can he be removed safely if only partially healed?"
"It shouldn't be a problem as long as we have a few hours' notice. It takes the sedative some time to wear off."
Both Spung nodded at that. "Best check," the woman told her with a nod to Radu.
"Oh! I'm sorry, I got distracted…"
He waved off her apology and forced himself to sit up straighter for her examination. "You had plenty of reason. And I'm not that bad, honest."
"Radu, I've seen ghosts with more color."
Rosie had heard the stories humans told each other each year at the StarAcademy at the end of the first month of classes and understood the reference, but Radu clearly didn't. "It doesn't matter," she assured him. "And you're going to be just fine…good as new, in fact, if you'd just spend an hour or two in a healing chamber."
He shook his head. "If you'll just give me the pain pills, I'll be fine. It's mostly stopped bleeding now."
The gash was a good two inches high and bit fairly deep around the left side of his abdomen…. "All right, but if you try and do anything strenuous it's just going to reopen. And if that happens, you do have to go into a healing chamber."
He nodded his agreement and took the medication she handed him without looking at it. "Thanks."
"Harlan, are you all right? The commander said you'd gotten shot in the shoulder."
"It seems to be our week for flesh wounds. I'm fine. Hey…shouldn't Commander Goddard be here by now?"
"Maybe he went back to help the others in the engine room," Jacie offered.
"Not without telling us," Harlan disagreed. "Radu…"
"I was paying attention to what was going on in here," he said with a shrug. "But I don't hear him out there now."
"He…Jacie?...is probably right," Rosie said after a minute. "After all, he's worked on the engines before, and we need them to escape."
Radu started to stand, but a hand on his chest kept him in place. "Don't even think about it, buddy. You heard Rosie, you open up that cut again and you're in the healing chambers. My arm is fine, I'll head for the engine room and make sure he's there."
Rosie was torn between wanting to stay with her patients and not wanting Harlan out there on his own, but before she could offer the Ashrach spoke. "I'll go with you…would rather stay with Aslinn anyway."
"Thought you had to stay here and translate," Harlan argued.
"Tav is 'here' enough to do that now…he might not know too many medical terms, but I really don't either so there's not much of a difference."
That would leave her and Radu—one injured and one not much of a fighter—with two military-trained Spung both of whom were uninjured, Rosie realized, trying not to feel uncomfortable with the idea. There were only two guns left in the room, and she couldn't expect Harlan to go after Commander Goddard unarmed or a complete stranger to leave his weapon with her…granted, anyone who tried to grab her was in for an unpleasant surprise, but all they'd have to do was knock her unconscious…. She cut off that train of thought abruptly. These were not normal Spung, they were members of a resistance group fighting the Empire. They were not going to hurt her or Radu. "You should both go," she said to Harlan and Radu. "It's not safe for one of you to be in the corridors alone."
"Look Verkai while look Commander," Malee said.
"He should be here now," Taver said with a frown. "He would have gotten 'under attack' warning the same time I got. Go careful."
Harlan moved down the corridor as quietly as he could, Jacie in step behind him. He'd seen the Ashrach in action and knew he was perfectly competent as backup, but…Harlan would have preferred if Radu was there. They were used to each other. And the idea that an Andromedan, at least an unfamiliar one, was watching his back was still a little creepy. "You hear anything?"
"No, but if they're more than a few corridors away I might not. How long does it take to get to this—"
He broke off suddenly, grabbing Harlan's shoulder and yanking them both into one of the side rooms…apparently an unused bunk room. "What?" Harlan demanded, tugging himself free.
"Someone's coming this way…two someones."
"Commander Goddard and Ver—whoever is missing from your resistance cell?"
"And there are no other Spung here on your side?"
"Not that I know of…Taver would have mentioned if he knew of anyone else being here. Is there some kind of viewing window, or…?"
"Screen on, hallway," Harlan ordered, and the colors in the wall swirled and resolved into a picture. "I don't see anyone."
"How many Spung are there onboard, anyway?"
"According to what information Aslinn and I got coming in, aside from our three and Dak—they were brought in as a special team of interrogators—there were six more in the boarding sweep. You got two on command, Malee got two as well, and Az zapped one on our way to command, so that leaves only one." Two figures appeared on the screen, standing at head of the corridor. "Th…"
Harlan turned as the Ashrach trailed off. "What is it? That would be your fourth resistance member and the last enemy Spung, right? We can take him—the bad one—out now and be ready for a hyperjump."
"Neither of them are ours…and neither of them are from a standard boarding party either. They're Jahrin…secret hunters, you'd say."
"Secret police? They're here for Taver and the others?"
"Do you think there are others, or just these two?"
Jacie shook his head. "They know about Taver, and they know he's got Dak…I assume they'd send more, but we don't know much about the Jahraii. Their operatives are questioned under truth serum regularly—fortunately it's too expensive and time consuming to apply to the rest of the military or we wouldn't have any operatives—and there's no way one of us could pass."
"No way to lie at all?" As far as he knew, the UPP didn't have anything like that…they had machines that could determine if someone was lying, but no way to force the truth out of them.
"You can not answer, but that pretty much confirms guilt."
Harlan sighed. "So we're back to not knowing how many Spung are onboard, and we probably shouldn't think about sending one of your friends out to ask someone." And if there were more Spung wandering around the Christa, it's possible that they captured Commander Goddard.
"That's pretty accurate."
"Should we take those two out now?"
"If you can think of a way to do it quietly—the last thing we need is for them to call in reinforcements."