Number One flicked her gaze over to her Captain, a wry smile forming when she noticed the child-like gleam in his eyes. He had a firm grip on the flight controls and looked more relaxed in the pilot's seat of a shuttle than One had seen him in years; the image was adorable and quite honestly much needed. Captain Pike had been uptight and tense recently, even more so than usual after a few disastrous missions. Getting away from the Enterprise, and what with it being just the two of them, allowed for a relaxed camaraderie.

Chris glanced her way suddenly, his brow raised in intrigue. "Something on my face?" He quipped with a grin.

Una chuckled and shook her head, returning her gaze forwards. "Like I'd ever tell you." She joked back.

Pike barked a laugh and grinned genuinely, his dimples showing. He enjoyed their easy banter just as much as she did.

Una watched with half of her attention on him as he took manual control of the flight stick and started gliding through the landscape, she didn't miss the half-hidden smile as he performed the elegant manoeuvres.

"Do you miss it?"

Chris kept his eyes on the view-screen and where he was piloting, but the smile slipped to be replaced by something a little more melancholy. "Sometimes... it sure was simpler back then." He replied, sounding almost wistful before shaking the feeling off. "Although the seat's not as comfy."

That time he did turn to look at her, flashing a grin her way. Una knew that this was Pike's way, he didn't like others to see his emotions, not even her, so hid them behind jokes and sarcasm. As usual, she didn't comment on the behaviour. Instead she just smirked back and made a suggestion of her own.

"If you're getting too old for the Captain's chair I will happily take over; leave you to fly your little box ship."

Chris snorted and laughed heartily. "Yeah yeah One, always chomping at my heels for the job." His eyes gleamed as he promised fondly, "not gonna happen."

"As you say Sir." Una replied, her smile widening into a grin.

Number One was not someone who could be scared easily and she usually had good tactical awareness, so when there was a sudden clang from the back of the shuttle she almost fell out of her chair in shock.

She turned to Pike, checking that he had heard the sound too before looking to the back of the shuttle. "What was that?" She muttered, not seeing anything obvious from their position.

Pike didn't have any luck seeing anything out of place either, he checked the ships systems and soon ruled out a mechanical failure. "The sensors say it's nothing to do with the ship but they could be malfunctioning."

They both sat and listened for another sound, or any other indication as to what that had been. Una got tired of waiting, she unclipped her belt and jumped to her feet.

"Una?" Chris queried, half his attention on her and the other half on not crashing the shuttle.

Number One had a bad feeling about the noise and she needed to get some peace of mind by checking, she didn't tell Chris about her worries which in hindsight was probably a mistake. Una really had to learn to listen to her gut...

"I'm just gonna check it out, make sure all the systems are functioning." She assured him with a smile before heading off.

Pike shrugged and made an okay sound when he saw how relaxed his XO was; if she wasn't worried then he rarely was. Whilst she made her way to the back of the shuttle he ran a few more system's diagnostics, his paranoia about missing something the first time getting the better of him.

It wasn't long before he heard footsteps approaching and figured that Number One was returning, and considering her silence hadn't found anything of merit.

"Everything alright?" He called back over his shoulder as he finished up the final checks on the shuttle.

Chris frowned when he heard nothing back from his first officer, he took a firm grip of the flight stick, set the speed to auto and glanced back over his shoulder. When he saw Number One with her back to him, frozen to the spot and tense, his senses warned him something was off. His danger warnings were proved correct when he noticed a body behind Una, one which definitely shouldn't be there.

"Not exactly." Una eventually answered, her voice cracking a little, giving Chris an insight into just what kind of trouble they were in. If it had ruffled his XO then he knew it had to be deep.

Before Chris could work out what to do with that troubling revelation, the mystery man stepped to the side and into Pike's view. That was when Chris saw the lethal energy weapon in the man's hand, and that it was pointed directly at Una's head.

His eyes flitted between Una and Chris and he made a nervous gesture with the weapon. "Hands up both of you."

So not only did they have an armed stowaway to contend with, but they had an armed stowaway who was nervous and jittery; not a great situation whilst flying in a shuttle. Number One immediately did as instructed, Pike hesitated a second too long, still dumbfounded by the sudden intrusion and trying to come to terms with how this was possible.

"Hey!" The intruder took a step forwards, forcing Una to turn and he pointed the weapon directly at Pike. "Do you think I'm not serious?"

Chris noticed that the gunman kept his distance from the pair of them, making sure he was out of hand-to-hand range. He also noticed the weapon didn't waver any more and the jittery attitude had disappeared, to be replaced by a cold threatening demeanour.

He quickly held up his hands and babbled back. "Hey, no problem here. I just didn't want to let go of the controls completely."

Chris wanted the gunman to know he wasn't just being disobedient for no reason, his first instinct had been to hold onto the thing keeping them all in the air. His sentence snapped the gunman's attention to the controls and the nervous look reappeared.

"Put it on autopilot." He waved the gun at Chris before adding a threat as an afterthought. "Nothing else, or I'll shoot your friend here."

Una bristled at the threat as did Chris, although when the weapon was swung to its new target he set about doing exactly what he had been told; turning on the autopilot system fully and not touching anything else. No matter how tempting it was to send off a distress signal or message to Enterprise, it just wasn't worth getting shot over, not yet at least.

When Pike was done he turned back around and returned his hands to their previous position which seemed to help calm the gunman down, although the nervous jitter returned when he looked over Pike's shoulder to the flight system. Was he really that paranoid?

The anxiousness evaporated in an instant and was replaced by cold steel. He suddenly gripped Number One's shoulder spun her to face the cockpit and kicked the back of her legs harshly. Una hit the floor with a grunt and bit her lip in an effort to not retaliate, Chris wasn't so smart.

He stood from the seat abruptly and took a step forward. "Hey, there's no need for that."

The gunman suddenly snapped his attention to him and the phaser was up and pointing at his head in less than a second, his eyes blazing furiously and clearly disbelieving that Chris was daring to be so brazen at gunpoint. Maybe not his smartest move, and Una's disapproving stare didn't help matters.

"Shut the hell up!" The gunman snarled and his finger tightened around the trigger.

There was a tense standoff as both sides waited for the outcome of Pike's foolishness, the air was so thick with emotion that they could taste the fear. Chris really thought he'd pushed too far, that he'd finally talked himself into an early grave. He didn't know which way it was going to go, the gunman looked half tempted to just shoot him but thankfully something stayed his hand.

"If you do anything out of line again I'll kill you." He threatened menacingly, speaking in an even matter-of-fact tone like he was just talking about the weather. "Understand?"

Chris didn't miss the blazing anger in the man's eyes, the twitch of his finger which indicated he was so very close to going the other way. He was on thin ice here, very thin ice. He nodded dumbly and swallowed hard, taking the threat and the gunman's resolve far more seriously. Pike had seen empty threats in his time and sadly he'd seen killers. This kid, no matter how young he looked belonged in the latter.

Yeah, they were in deep shit here.

The gunman took a step back and motioned for Chris to approach. "Hands in the air and turn around."

Pike did as he was told and kept his thoughts to himself, any further smart-ass comments could very well be the end of him. He knew when to shut-up and do as he was told; this was definitely the time for that.

Soon after he turned around Chris felt someone approach, he let out a yelp and grunted when the backs of his legs were kicked, sending him down and forward. He barely managed to stay upright and all his focus was on keeping his hands in plain view. Chris clenched his jaw and managed to find his balance, readjusting his weight on his sore knees and ignoring the dull throb shooting up his leg. The fact wasn't lost on him that the gunman had repeated his violent action on purpose, likely to provoke a reaction. Chris didn't give him one.

The gunman moved into view and appraised the both of them silently, his eyebrow raised like he was expecting them to protest to the treatment. When they both remained silent and tight-lipped he smirked and lowered the phaser a little.

"Good, that's much better." He smiled at the both of them and held himself more confidently. "Now if you both cooperate you may just make it through this alive."

Chris saw Una roll her eyes when the gunman's attention was off of them; he felt a similar sentiment. Frankly he wanted to know what this was, and as for cooperating... There was only so far either of them would go, even with a gun held to their heads.

Pike studied their hijacker more carefully, trying to fill in some of gaps about him like: where the hell had he come from, why was he here, and why was he armed?

The gunman didn't seem aware of the scrutiny, he kept his distance from the pair of them and began to glance at the cockpit controls, a light frown appearing as his eyes roamed over the terminal. He soon swung back to Pike and Una, the phaser swinging up to point at Pike causing them both to tense.

"This isn't an Riserian shuttle." He accused heatedly, taking a step forward. "Who are you, what ship is this?"

Chris frowned at both the statement and the question, was their hijacker really that inept that he had stowed away on the wrong ship? He obviously stayed silent too long because the gunman suddenly took a step forward and swung the phaser at his head, hard.

Pike's vision greyed and his head exploded in a symphony of pain, he fell to the side from the force of the blow and miserably slammed his head again on the way down. His entire body felt unresponsive, blood was starting to trickle from the wound and his teeth had cut the inside of his mouth leaving him with a nasty copper tang.

Chris groaned into the floor and blinked rapidly in an attempt to forestall passing out, he clenched his fists and breathed heavily when a wave of misery washed over him, one which made him want to retch all over the floor. He felt the vibrations in the ground indicating somebody was approaching, Chris tensed, closed his eyes and prepared his body for another hit.

"Chris!" He heard Number One yell before a bark from the hijacker override anything else.

He felt a foot nudge at his side and then suddenly it kicked out causing him to yelp and pull away from the violent treatment. The foot kept pushing until he was rolling over, with him ending up flat on his back and staring up into the hijacker's face and the barrel of a phaser. Chris also noticed that his attacker's foot was pressed into his chest, and that he was starting to apply pressure.

Pike gasped for air and tried to wriggle out from under the crushing hold but the hijacker was having none of it.

"Hey! Stop it, I'll tell you what you want to know." Una cried out desperately.

Chris let out a sigh of relief when the pressure on his chest lessened to more manageable levels, the last thing he wanted was for this bastard to get anything out of them but frankly he needed to breathe.

The hijacker grew impatient when Number One stalled, he reapplied pressure into Pike's chest until he cried out. "Well come on then, get on with it."

The threat caused Una to reply immediately. "We're both Starfleet, from the USS Enterprise. This is our shuttle, we're here for the conference."

Chris opened his eyes and saw the hijacker's expression, he was squinting over at Una suspiciously but the phaser was still pointed directly down at Pike. Chris thought about trying something for about two seconds, because soon after the thought popped into his head he almost passed out and his vision went completely.

"You're both Starfleet... Tell me your names."

When the pressure was removed from his chest Chris realised Una had hesitated, and that the gunman had noticed. Suddenly the boot crashed into his ribs from the side, causing him to curl up and protectively clutch his ribs. When the gunman repeated the vicious kick Chris felt something strain inside him and he yelled out from the stabbing agony.

Did it really matter who they were?

He had resigned himself to a beating when Una jumped in. "Wait!" She cried out desperately, nervously licking her lips. "I'm Commander Una, and he's Captain Pike."

They all waited a beat for the hijackers reaction, Pike hadn't expected the information to get much of a reaction at all and he certainly hadn't expected their reputation to be known.

"You're the federation big-shots. The Captain and his first officer..."

That wasn't a good sign. Una hadn't mentioned anything about being his XO, this hijacker knew them, he was informed about visitors and that was dangerous. Chris raced through all of these thoughts as his body slowly unfurled and he started to breathe normally again, his ribs were throbbing and he already had one almighty headache coming on.

"Yes." Una finally replied in a defeated tone. "Now can you let him up?"

Up, that sounded nice. Anything sounded nicer than being pressed down into this floor under the weight of a boot.

"That depends." The hijacker answered and Chris could tell by his tone that he was smiling, the sick bastard was enjoying his pain.

"On what?" Una snapped back bitterly, if the situation weren't so serious Chris would have found it funny.

"Can you fly this thing?"


The shuttle fell into a silence as everyone appraised each other and their options. Chris finally worked his way through the nausea and opened his eyes to see the situation hadn't changed; the hijacker was above him with the phaser held steadily and Una was kneeling to the side with her hands in the air.

Their eyes met and he saw her brow furrow when she met his gaze, he must look worse than he felt or maybe it was the fact that he couldn't seem to hold her gaze without drifting.

"Good, get in the pilot's seat." The gunman suddenly ordered and in one swift movement reached down and hauled Chris off the ground.

Chris swallowed down bile that the sudden movement brought on and swayed dangerously, the hijacker manhandled him into a kneeling position, not too kindly either. Pike grunted when his knees took the brunt of the action. He forced his vision to steady and looked for his XO, who was standing and backing into the cockpit, her eyes latching onto the blood he could feel dripping down his face.

Pike felt the phaser brush against the back of his head causing him to tense and breath in sharply, Una's eyes widened when she acknowledged the threat.

The gunman flicked the phaser forwards, indicating her to carry on as ordered. "Your Captain and I will watch from here."

Not long after issuing Una a new flight path, the hijacker decided that Chris looked a little too much of a threat as he was, so that was when the order to place his hands on his head was barked.

Honestly, he had almost missed the command entirely. The hijacker had been talking to Una for so long that Chris had fallen into a daze and just focussed on not throwing up everywhere, his vision was still nastily spinning now. A helpful slap to the head woke him up and he grunted from the shockwaves it caused.

"Hands on your head, now!" The hijacker yelled, as he flaunted the threat of the lethal phaser.

Chris gritted his teeth, bit back an angry retort and did as instructed. "Okay, okay." He muttered back bitterly.

Number One shot him a look over her shoulder at that, one which roughly translated to - 'don't be an idiot and push this guy, just keep your mouth shut and your head down.'

Suitably mollified Pike nodded at her assuredly and slammed his mouth shut, focussing on letting go of some of his anger. It wouldn't help him here. Mercifully the hijacker soon grew bored with him and started to pay more attention to Una, and where she was flying them. The hijacker was only giving her headings and not final coordinates, from Chris's calculations he would guess the final destination to be the capital city which was just a tad worrying. Una thought so too.

"I'm not flying this thing any further until you tell me what you want. Where are we going?" Una took her hands off the controls and crossed her arms stubbornly.

The hijacker glared at her cooly; he fingered the phaser playfully and glanced between the kneeling Pike and rebelling Una. Suddenly he smiled wickedly and lashed out.

The phaser came crashing towards his face at blinding speed, far too fast for Chris to do anything about it. He grunted from the impact and saw stars, he distantly felt the ground sway beneath him and suddenly he was falling backwards, keeling over with his legs bent awkwardly.

He was trying to recover from the first assault when the second came even more brutally. The hijacker's boot crashed into his jaw, snapping his head to the side forcibly and causing blood to pool in his mouth.

"Arghhh!" He yelled out when the foot stamped down upon his head, crushing his nose and most likely breaking it.

"Stop it!" Una cried out desperately.

Chris couldn't open his eyes to see her, but he knew she was up and out of her seat by her voice. He took the brief lull in the beating to clutch at his head and nose, trying to stem the bleeding and offer some protection if someone started kicking him again.

When the next kick came it was unexpected and aimed at his mid-section; he yelled, his ribs throbbed and buckled under the brutality and force of the assault. Pike curled up into a ball and tried to prepare his body for the next hit, which of course came to somewhere he wasn't protecting.

Chris cried out and his back arched when the hijacker's boot slammed into his lower back. He rolled onto his back, gritted his teeth and tried to take short sharp breaths through the blinding agony. He clutched his ribs miserably and coughed up blood.

"Please stop... I'll fly." Una pleaded with their captor.

Pike didn't hear any reply nor could he hear footsteps, he waited in tense silence for the next hit or whatever was coming his way. From previous experience he was only really expecting more pain, regardless of how much he wished this tortuous nightmare was over.

Suddenly something gripped his arm and was hauling upwards, causing him to cry out when his insides were yanked around painfully. He ended up in a kneeling position, much like before, facing the cockpit and with a gun to the back of his head. Pike bit back a moan, clutched his hurting body and managed to open his eyes to see Una staring down at him in fear. He frowned when he noticed that there were in fact 3 Una's, maybe he was close to passing out... He really wished this guy would stop using his head for target practise.

"Well?" The hijacker snarled pushing the phaser into Chris's head more firmly earning a gasp in response.

Una's worried eyes flicked down to him one last time; she nodded quickly and returned her attention to the flight controls. After that moment any time she hesitated in following commands, Pike got hit. There was no warning, it was just the rules of the game. They both hated this game, but if they wanted to live they had to play by it. Neither of them had seen an opportunity to overpower the hijacker, so this was their only option to survive.

That was Pike's mindset at least until the hijacker made a communication with somebody on the ground, one which revealed his true intentions, how he got on board in the first place and more importantly meant that he and Una couldn't cooperate any longer. They weren't going to responsible for the deaths of everyone in the Capital...

"Forward base, this is Alec come in over."

The mysterious hijacker now had a name, whether it was real or not was another matter entirely, but at least Pike could put a name to a face. Pike listened to the conversation as best he could, Alec was standing behind him and Una talking quietly into a communicator of some description. So far he'd only been receiving static in response, something which had continued for at least 5 minutes which had only made their captor more anxious.

Thankfully, for the hijacker's sanity and Pike and Una's continued existence, a voice started to crackle back through the airwaves.

"Alec, you missed your check in point. What the hell is going on?"

Alec took a huge sigh of relief and stopped pacing. "I ran into some trouble. The beam up point wasn't the right target."

"You're not onboard a ship?"

Alec laughed darkly. "I'm on board a ship alright, but it's a federation ship."

There was a sustained silence on the other end, and then the voice replied. "Are you certain?"

Chris stiffened when he sensed footsteps approaching. Alec's phaser brushed the back of his head, maybe as a warning to stay in place but most likely to dial up the fear factor. Pike took a deep breath to stay calm; he clenched his hands together and kept them glued to his head. "Yes, I'm holding two Starfleet officers hostage as we speak."

"Can you still complete the mission?"

Chris noticed Una's fingers halt above the controls, showing she was as interested in this titbit of information as he was. This was the first they'd heard about any mission, or any reason for the hijacking in the first place. One thing was certain; stowing away and taking control of the ship was pre-meditated.

"Yes. They're flying the shuttle for me."

Another puzzle-piece slotted into place. Alec's unfamiliarity with the shuttle made sense now, Riserian controls were the only controls he knew.

"Your window to fire will close in 10 minutes, make sure you're over the city by then."

Una's head snapped round and their eyes met in shock. The mission… the mission involved using this shuttle to fire over a city.

"I will."

Yeah… There was no way Una was going to fly this shuttle over the city for any reason, even if Alec threatened to kill the both of them.

"Goodbye brother."


Number One was still staring back at Chris, a silent conversation taking place in that brief moment. They'd worked together long enough to read each other, and to understand cues from the other without words. Chris smiled sadly at his trusted first officer and nodded once, a silent order to do whatever she deemed necessary to stop their hijacker from carrying out his plan.

"Hey!" Alec yelled to Una as he brought the phaser up to threaten; "Get back to flying!"

She looked at Pike one last time before turning back to the controls, her posture tense and rigid. Chris started to track their hijacker's movements with far more scrutiny, the haziness in his mind being eradicated by the shot of adrenaline. He needed to overpower Alec, his life be damned. They needed this shuttle to go down somewhere safe and away from the city, they needed to take it out themselves before it could be used by Alec or his group in this attack. Pike just had to make his move before the hijacker shot the both of them and tried flying this thing for himself. Chris knew their impromptu plan was dangerous and that there was little chance of survival, but what choice did they have?