A few minutes later they reached the bottom of the shaft. In front of them, a closed door was all that barred their way to safety.

"Are you alright commander?" Asked Clarke.

"I'll live lieutenant." Replied Lewis grimly. "Let's get that runabout and get the hell out of here."

"Good idea sir." Slowly they eased the door open and looked outside. It was like a scene from hell. The short corridor was completely encased in the alien resin, but most horrible of all, the rest of the station crew were encased in the resin, and every single one had a gaping, bloody hole where their chests used to be.

"Oh my god." Said Clarke, shuddering.

"Let's just go," said Lewis, "there's nothing we can do for them." Slowly the pair picked their cautious way forward, flanked on both sides by the tormented dead. At the end of the corridor stood a large door marked simply 'Hangar Bay 1'. Lewis had never seen a more gratifying sight. Carefully, they slid the doors open and looked inside. Lewis's heart sank. Inside, the runabout lay in the centre of the hangar, surrounded on all sides by hundreds of leathery, egg-like objects.

"Ohhhhhhh shit!" whispered Clarke softly.

"Ditto." Said Lewis. In the darkness, something hissed. "When I say run, run."

Clarke nodded.

"RUN!"

Lewis had never run so fast in his life, behind him he could hear Clarke pounding along after him. Something screeched like a thousand nails being dragged across a thousand blackboards and the bay was suddenly alive with the skeletal forms of the aliens. Lewis reached the runabout and turned to cover Clarke with his phaser. The aliens screamed as the energy spray volatilized their bodies. In the darkness above, unnoticed by the Starfleet officers, something heavy moved. Clarke scrambled into the runabouts cockpit and quickly began powering up the craft. Outside, Lewis was in trouble. His phaser suddenly fizzled and died, its power pack spent. Lewis turned and dived into the runabout, hitting the door control as he flew past. The door slid shut as the first alien slammed into it. There was a series of thuds and the door started to bulge inwards.

"Clarke, get us the hell out of here!" Lewis yelled.

"I can't!" Clarke shouted back. "The hangar doors aren't responding" As she worked feverishly at the controls, she glanced out the window, and recoiled in horror. Outside the runabout, something huge had lowered itself from the heights of the hangar bay where it had been hidden in the darkness. It was similar in appearance to the creatures that had attacked them, but much, much bigger. It had a flared cowl covering its eyeless head, a pair of vestigial arms sprouting from it's torso like those of a tyrannosaurus and WAY too many teeth. It opened its huge fanged mouth and emitted an ear piercing shriek. It was answered by the station computer.

"Warning! Containment field failure imminent. Core breach in one minute." Announced the calm voice of the computer.

"Oh sod!" Muttered Clarke and hit the one the one control that her instructor told her she should never even think about touching whilst docked.

The phaser beam lashed out from the runabout and struck the hangar bay doors. With a soundless explosion the doors were sucked out into space, along with numerous aliens and a Danube class runabout. Clarke was forced back into her seat by the sudden acceleration and she heard a thud and a curse as Lewis and the rear bulkhead became acquainted. The pressure soon eased up as the little ships inertial dampers powered up, allowing Clarke to take a much needed breath. Lewis came forward and slumped into the co- pilots chair. Behind them, the station flared soundlessly as the fusion reactors, suddenly freed from the restrictions of the containment fields, went super critical and turned the research station into a short-lived sun. The runabout rocked as the shockwave reached them.

"Is that it?" Asked Clarke wearily. She was answered by a thump as a massive clawed hand bit into the hull in front of the port. It hauled the ugly flared skull of the big alien into view.

"Awwww no," moaned Clarke, "tell me this isn't happening." There was another thud as the alien again struck the port, trying to smash its way in.

"Warning!" Announced the runabout's computer, "Hull integrity at eighty- five percent." The alien struck again. "Hull integrity now at eighty two percent."

"We've got to get that thing off!" Yelled Lewis.

"I'm trying!" Replied Clarke as she sent the runabout into a series of crazy maneuvers, trying to shake the tough organism off but to no avail. The huge monster struck again, this time a crack appeared in the transparent aluminium of the view port.

"Hull integrity at fifteen percent, structural collapse imminent." Announced the computer calmly. Lewis closed his eyes and waited for the end as the alien raised its powerful arm to deliver the fatal blow, and was struck by an intense beam of high power phaser fire. It opened its jaws in a soundless screech as it quickly dissolved. Above the runabout the battered and scorched form of the Thunderchild flew out of the blinding corona of the sun. She swept past the tiny runabout like an overprotective mother hen.

"Thunderchild to Runabout."

Lewis tapped his badge.

"Lewis here," he said tiredly, "what took you so long?"

"Sorry Number One," Replied Richmond's voice, "We've had a few problems of our own, what's your status?"

"Just the two of us left captain." He replied. "Myself and Lieutenant Clarke." There was a brief silence as Captain Richmond digested the information.

"Understood Number One." She said finally. "Come on home."

The runabout entered the shuttle bay without incident and drifted slowly to halt. Lewis levered himself out of the seat and went to the door. As he keyed the door open he looked down. Pooled on the floor was a curiously luminescent green fluid.

"Permission to come aboard?"

Lewis spun round and found himself looking at the third ugliest face he had ever seen. It had a massive bony forehead, small piggy eyes, long dreadlocks and two protruding mandibles. The apparition bellowed in his face and knocked him flying through the hatch and onto the floor of the shuttle bay. As his vision cleared he saw the creature stagger as Clarke struck it from behind with a medikit. With a negligent backhand blow it knocked Clarke back into the runabout. It turned back to Lewis and jumped out of the runabout. Slowly it began to stalk towards him. Lewis tried to stand, but a massive kick from the creature threw him back. He felt his ribs snap like dry twigs and cried out in pain. The monster advanced again, flexing its wrist and the two blades sprang forward.

"Hey! Ugly!" The monster turned towards the voice.

Clarke had manhandled the isomagnetic disintegrator that Masters and Robbins had left in the shuttle bay to a position where it covered the monster.

"Permission to come aboard?"

"Permission denied motherfucker." she replied and depressed the firing stud. From the barrel of the cannon a beam of pure destruction licked out and hit the advancing Predator square in the chest. It bellowed once and exploded in a shower of luminescent green blood.

Lewis sighed and let his head sink back onto the deck. His last view, before the darkness took him, was of a security squad rushing into the shuttle bay.

"Here comes the cavalry, late as usual."He thought fuzzily, and then lay still.

He awoke in sickbay. Trying to raise his head just made his head spin, so he gave it up as a bad idea and lay back on the biobed.

"Glad to see you're still with us." Came Richmond's voice.

"What's the damage?" He asked.

"Three broken ribs, a nasty concussion and a broken nose." She reported. "But don't worry; it doesn't spoil your classical good looks."

"Critic." he muttered.

"I'm looking forward to reading your report on this Commander." She said seriously.

"I'm not looking forward to writing it" He paused, a stab of guilt and regret overcoming him as he remembered his fallen crewmembers. "Captain?"

"Yes?"

"Do we have any idea where they cam from?"

"I don't know commander." She replied. "But I don't think we've seen the last of them."

The End ?