A/N: This story takes place during the second season after Bunker Hill (ep 211) but before Ourorboros (ep 212). Which means, Trance is still purple, Harper still has Magog larvae and Rommie has yet to have the weird blue hair. There are references to Bunker Hill and a few other 1st and 2nd season eps.
Oh, and I don't own them. No profit is being made. Etc, etc. Hope you enjoy.
He absolutely loved hot steamy showers. The pulsating water did wonders for his aching neck and shoulder muscles. Too much hand-to-hand combat was the culprit lately, though aches were also a sign of standing on the bridge for far too long. A habit he was sure he'd never break. He was certainly not too proud to recognize his control issues.
The rising steam carried his thoughts far away from negotiations, assassination threats or attempts and could almost drown out the Andromeda's engines so for the briefest of moments, he could imagine himself on his home planet of Tarn Vedra. The rivulets that formed and ran down the shower walls, unhindered, reminded him of his home world's unspoiled rivers and streams.
Dylan closed his eyes, breathed deeply and he was there. His mind's eye presented images from his youth, of lush vegetation, exotic animals and the clear sky of his home world. With the images came the warm emotions of a simpler time in his life. A small, relaxed smile crossed his rugged features.
"Dylan," Andromeda's disembodied voice stated over the com, pulling him from his fantasy, "Beka needs you on the bridge."
He popped one eye open and loudly sighed, the thoughts of home replaced with the cold reality of his situation. "Now?" he asked.
"We have received a distress signal from a drift in this system. It is urgent."
He turned off the shower and grabbed a towel. "Of course, what else would it be?" he half-mumbled. "Tell Beka I'll be there shortly."
Minutes later, Dylan strode onto the bridge to find his first officer already there pushing the relevant buttons to pull up the message. He couldn't say much for Beka's taste in clothing, and today was no exception. She was wearing a tattered black shirt, black pants and an outrageous choker, which truthfully was better than the red fiasco that adorned her yesterday. He actually had tried to convince her to conform to Commonwealth uniform codes but he was given a flat refusal. No matter really, he could always count on her to be herself and that was her best asset. Any change would be disconcerting.
"What have we got?" he asked as he approached the communication console.
"Oh, the usual. Someone needs our help." She answered while flashing the captain a sardonic smile. "Repeating distress signal from the Natasi Drift. No video, only audio," she clarified.
"Let's hear it."
Beka pushed the appropriate buttons and a female voice emanated from the com system on the bridge. The sound was of false bravado with an underlying hint of fear and desperation.
"This is the Natasi Drift requesting immediate assistance. Hit by Drago-Kazov. We require medical and engineering aid. We are facing imminent life support malfunction. I repeat we are facing imminent life support malfunction. If you can hear us, please help. This is the Natasi Drift requesting immediate assistance. Hit by…"
Beka turned off the transmission at the loop and sent a glance in Dylan's direction. He had that intense look he always got when the atrocities of space came crashing into his ideal plan of the universe. Even after witnessing what had become of the cosmos, first hand, and even after all of his attempts at forming a new commonwealth, a new order in the chaos, there was still violence happening that was beyond his control.
"Andromeda, how old is that transmission?" Dylan asked.
The vidscreen came alive with the holographic form of the ship's computer. "That message is approximately twelve hours old. It is very possible their life support has already failed."
"What's the probability that they could've gotten off the drift or received any assistance from anyone else?" Beka asked Andromeda, curiosity and concern lacing her tone.
"It is probable but unlikely. This is not a highly traveled system and the transmission was of poor quality. Only someone in the system would have been able to detect it."
"And if you're a Nietzschean, and hitting a small drift, you're going to cut off the escape routes. Such as destroying any ships docked there." Beka answered herself then let loose a low whistle. "We going?"
"Plot a course," Dylan ordered.
"You do realize we will be a little more than fashionably late to the grand opening of the new Commonwealth training facility, right?"
He winked at her. "Andromeda, ship wide please." He waited for the tell tale beep of the com that signaled that the whole ship would be listening to his address. "This is Captain Hunt, we are taking a detour from our original destination of Mobius, to answer a distress signal from the Natasi Drift. All crew, take action and be ready for a rescue mission."
Within minutes, Tyr, Rommie and Trance stood on the bridge. Dylan waited impatiently for his genius, but time-challenged engineer. Soon they heard the thud of his heavy boots and the door opened to reveal his tired visage but ever-spiky hair.
"Next time, a little more promptness would be appropriate, Mr. Harper."
He looked apologetically at the captain. "Sorry, I was having nano-welder issues."
"Harper, you always have issues." Beka quipped, trying hard to lighten the mood and trying to deflect any unnecessary questions toward her engineer. Since his trip back to Earth, and the increasing episodes related to the magog larvae, Beka knew he had not been himself and knew that there had been no trouble with the welder. She took a quick look at Dylan's stern face and muttered a subdued "sorry."
"Andromeda, replay the message."
Again, the woman's strained voice permeated the air. "This is the Natasi Drift requesting immediate assistance. Hit by Drago-Kazov. We require medical and engineering aid. We are facing imminent life support malfunction. I repeat we are facing imminent life support malfunction. If you can hear us, please help."
There was a solemn silence before Trance spoke. "I'll go get med deck ready." She didn't mention if she was getting it ready for survivors or as a morgue. She surmised it would be best not to mention the second option though they all knew it was a possibility.
As the door swooshed, announcing Trance's departure, Tyr spoke.
"You are aware, sir, that this message makes little sense."
Beka looked up from her quest to map the quickest route to Natasi. "What part didn't you get, Tyr? It was in plain enough Common."
He ignored her biting comment and addressed Dylan. "Why would the Drago-Kazov hit an insignificant drift so far outside their space? It is absurd."
"That is a mystery I intend on finding out. Think about it, Tyr, any information we can gather on the Dragans will be an asset to us. We are at war."
Tyr's features hardened but his voice remained an even measure. "Precisely, sir. And this is some kind of cleverly engineered trap that you are blindly walking into. And I will have no part in it."
Dylan half smiled. "Objection noted." He looked up from his consol, directly at the dark Nietzschean. "But we're still going."
Two short slipstream jumps later, the Andromeda was staring at the Natasi Drift. If fully operational, it would have resembled most drifts, with a circular design and several docking stations, a bustling way station in the middle of blackness. But, now, it sat, eerily quiet, while debris floated around it, unable to escape the small gravitational pull. Scorch marks adorned the outer surface and several smaller vessels had broken away from their ports and were half hanging onto the supports. They looked more like parasites than spaceships.
"Wow, boss, these guys were hit hard." Harper announced into the silence while running preliminary scans. "They're running on secondary power. Life support is still up but there are several breaches in the outer walls and I can almost feel the AG field wavering from here."
Dylan could barely tear his eyes away from the sight before him. "Rommie, anyone still alive?"
The avatar ran a few scans before speaking. "There are still vital life signs emanating from the drift."
"Open a com channel." Though it was highly unlikely that anyone would be watching, out of habit, Dylan walked from behind the console and stared at the screen in front of him. He pulled himself up to his full height and unnecessarily straightened his uniform. "This is Captain Dylan Hunt of the Andromeda Ascendent. We have received your distress call and offer our aid."
Rommie looked up and shook black hair from her eyes. "No response."
He tried again. "This is Captain Dylan Hunt of the Andromeda Ascendent answering your distress call."
"A weak signal is coming through." Rommie transferred the signal to the vid screen.
It was a woman, in some type of uniform, standing tall despite her disheveled appearance and tremor in her voice. The signal was indeed very weak and the picture constantly wavered but at least the audio was clear.
"I am Chief Moriah Reston, head of Natasi security, and we are extremely grateful of your offer of assistance, Captain Hunt." There was a loud sound behind her and some shouting. She looked over her shoulder for an instant then whirled back around the screen. "As you can see and hear, we are in desperate need."
"What happened here?" Dylan asked.
"Attacked by Drago-Kazov. We were no match for their numbers and weapons." She pushed a strand of her short cropped blonde hair from her eyes as gracefully as she could. "As head of security, that is not easy to admit, but it is the truth."
Dylan just nodded and could almost feel Tyr's silent objection but decided a non-wavering person-to-person conference would be the best way to discern the situation.
"Chief Reston, you must understand that my offer of assistance is only based on the safety of my crew." Dylan punctuated the 'safety' aspect. "I will not send my crew to the drift unless I know it is secure. I am sure you understand."
She stiffened but otherwise showed no emotion toward the demand. "Certainly, Captain Hunt. Acting Chief Engineer Frank has assured me that conditions are safe for your crew but will not remain so without your help."
"Acting chief engineer?" Beka asked. "What happened to the original?"
"He was taken along with most of our engineering department. I would rather discuss that in private instead over an open channel."
Dylan nodded and set his lips in a grim line. "Acknowledged. I will have supplies and assistance at your disposal shortly."
Dylan looked over to Harper who scurried off to assemble his tools.
"We thank you Captain Hunt. Please, use docking station 4. It was not damaged during the attack." She nodded her head to the captain. "Reston, out."
Dylan sighed then looked over to his crew who had all been intently watching the exchange.
"Your opinion now, Tyr?"
The tall man crossed his arms, his bone blades sticking straight out from his leather braces, a pensive expression on his face. "It is…intriguing to say the least. Yet, with their much warranted dislike of all Nietzscheans at the moment, I think I'll watch from here."
Dylan shook his head, a small barely discernible smile tugging at his lips. Tyr could always be trusted to be Tyr.
"Nietzschean survival instincts." Beka voiced, hands on her hips. "Gotta love them."
"Just don't let them get in the way of saving us. Just in case this is a trap." Rommie added, a slightly distrustful look on her features.
"Of course. But if it is, I get to say I told you so," he replied, matching her glare.
"It's a deal." Then Dylan looked to his two lovely counterparts. "Beka. Rommie."
As Dylan crossed the bridge to the doors that would lead them to the hallways of the ship, Beka and Rommie followed, leaving Tyr leaning on his console and staring out at the remnants of the Natasi Drift.
So, good? not good? write more? please God stop writing? Let me know. Thanks.