AN// I'm sorry this took so long to put up. This thing has been through numerous drafts, and I'm still not completely happy with it, but it's up now, and if anyone has any comments on this, they'd be greatly appreciated.

...

Chekov shivered, goose pimples rising up his arms under his sleeves as he felt his surroundings change from the gleaming lights of the Enterprise transporter bay, to the dark unwelcoming corridors of the main outpost of Seta Three. He looked around, having whipped his phaser out already purely from instinct, but there was no one there. The corridors were unnervingly quiet, and Chekov knew that somewhere in this building was Sulu. As well as a small army of angry violent alien soldiers. Nothing to worry about then.

It wasn't just the aliens he had to worry about, Chekov thought as he brought out his PADD. Sulu was being held in the east wing of the building, but even if the Russian managed to reach there without being detected and was able to get Sulu out- Chekov was thankful that Uhura had managed to find out which cell Sulu was held in; the east wing wasn't big but it wasn't small either - there was still the issue of transporting out. The majority of the building was affected by a transporter inhibitor that had been set up near the centre, but thankfully, due to the placing of the inhibitor and its' limited range, certain areas of the west wing weren't affected, which was why Chekov had been able to beam down. Beaming up, however, was another difficulty entirely. Scotty had managed to surreptitiously create a small opening in the inhibitor field, near the edge of the east wing, but he could only hold it open for two hours maximum before the aliens noticed. If Chekov wasn't back with Sulu in two hours, he wouldn't be coming back at all.

He looked at the schematics on his PADD, tracing out a route with his finger that would get him to the east wing without getting too close to the centre of the outpost or any of the major corridors. He wanted to avoid as much contact with the aliens, who Kirk had told him earlier were called the Jantax.

The Jantax, who had been a pre-warp culture until fairly recently, were not dissimilar in appearance to humans, except that they were lilac in colour with ridged spines running up their backs and the tips of their ears. They were a species largely ignored by the federation for many years, until the Jantax achieved space flight and began armaments trading with the more unsavoury members of the galaxy, such as Klingons and Cardassians acting outside their respective governments for their own gain.

Sulu, a Trill diplomat called Taynan Kahn and two other ensigns from security had gone down to Seta Three at the request of the Federation, to propose a treaty with the Jantax to prevent further armaments trading and the widespread piracy that was becoming more and more common throughout the system. The Jantax had obviously thought little of their offer, and had killed Kahn and the two ensigns with very little thought, sending the bodies back as a warning to the Federation. The Trill had still been alive when he returned, and had stayed that way long enough to explain what had happened and to reiterate that if the Enterprise wanted its' helmsman back in one piece, the Federation would have to pay for it. The same thought was on everyone's mind; the Federation would never pay a ransom, and so had send another negotiator to talk with the Jantax, a meeting which would probably end as unsuccessfully as the first.

Chekov sighed and put away his PADD, looking around at the dank masonry, searching for the archway signalling the entrance to the first corridor he was to take on the plans. According to the schematics, much of the outer corridors were unused, the majority of the Jantax positioned in the centre of the building. Chekov caught sight of the archway, the official emblem of the Jantax boldly displayed at the centre; two circles- representing their twin moons Rynak and Ghan - crossed with a ka'chek sword, a traditional weapon of the Jantax. But Chekov didn't have time to ponder over the intricacies of the Jantax culture, and he breathed a sigh of relief as he saw that the corridor in front of him was indeed the right one. He smiled, glad that the transporter had managed to beam him down at the right location. He would have to thank Scotty when he got back to the Enterprise. Supposing he got back, his mind pessimistically thought, as he walked thought the archway and down in the direction of the east wing, every step taking him closer to Sulu.

*

Chekov had been walked the corridors for nearly an hour and a half. He'd taken numerous wrong turns, finding more then one dead end, and at some points nearly running into the scattered guards which were patrolling the corridors which had forced him to quietly backtrack and go a different route. Apparently the schematics Uhura had found for him were several years old, and some corridors had been changed or blocked off since then. Chekov could only hope that the layout of the building hadn't changed too drastically, or he was really going to have a problem.

It was quite suddenly when Chekov came across the corridor he was looking for. It was grey and dank, exactly the same as the other corridors, but Chekov knew that this was the one, even before he checked the plans. He just knew that Sulu was here. His heartbeat sounded suddenly loud in his ears, and he was suddenly scared about what he might find behind the third door down, the cell Sulu was in.

Chekov was so absorbed in the thought of getting to Sulu that he didn't notice movement behind him until he heard an inhuman growl, instinct forcing him to move just before someone thrust a sword into Chekov's back. Chekov whipped around to take in the guard that had come up unnoticed behind him, twice the height of the ensign and a lot more deadly. The purple hued ridges up the Jantax's back and the serrated sword clutched firmly in the alien's hand were clearly visible. Although the Jantax had the opportunity of using more advanced weapons, they were mistrustful of technology and so still used their traditional ka'chek swords, which Chekov assumed was the vicious looking thing that the Jantax was holding in his hands, a malicious toothy smile on his face.

Chekov grasped his phaser from where it was positioned on his belt, flicking it to stun .No matter how much he hated them for taking Sulu, and God help them if they had hurt him, Chekov wasn't a killer and never would be.

The Jantax moved suddenly and Chekov swore, steadying his phaser to fire. The guard was faster, grabbing hold of Chekov's gun arm, digging sharp talon-like claws into the Russians wrist as he struck Chekov with the pommel of the sword, winding him and pushing him over onto the hard floor, the phaser skittering away across the floor. The guard brought his sword down where Chekov had been lying, but Chekov managed to roll out of the way, thanking any sort of god for the basic combat training he'd had to endure at the academy. His left foot kicked up out of pure instinct, knocking the angry Jantax backwards. Chekov pulled himself up as the guard steadied himself, the two men looking at each other for a split second before the guard ran at Chekov, raising his arm to strike him.

Adrenaline prompted Chekov to lash out instinctively, his arm blocking the blow and his body moving around in a semi circle as he hit out again, catching the guard in the jaw. The guard growled, moving his left foot to regain his balance before swinging his sword round to strike at Chekov's chest. Chekov saw the attack, and swiftly moved out of the way, but he evidently wasn't fast enough. He let out a gasp of pain as the sword sliced deeply into his side, barely missing his left femoral artery. The break in Chekov's concentration was enough for the guard to get another hit in, using his hand to strike Chekov across the face, using the Russian's sudden disorientation to him again hard in the chest, winding Chekov and knocking him down to the floor.

Chekov looked up at the Jantax with his eyes watering from the pain, watching as the guard paused. It was obvious he saw that Chekov was completely incapacitated, bleeding and exhausted, and Chekov watched him bring out a small grey box that resembled an old fashion 21st century version of their communicators. So much for no technology Chekov remembered thinking. Everything seemed to become less focused for a second, like seeing a tele-screen with impaired vision, and Chekov vaguely saw the serrated edges of the sword moving closer, through the blanket of the pain shooting through every nerve in his body like fire. He was ready to give up, seeing that the inevitable was near, but one word rose unbidden to his mind.

Sulu.

It was that word that made the world refocus itself around him, and Chekov realised the implications of what the guard was doing. If he was caught, Sulu wouldn't be safe. Sulu could be hurt and Chekov wouldn't be able to help him. Chekov knew exactly what he had to do. He was within arm-range of his phaser, which was lying across to his left and he leaned to the side, grabbing it with desperate fingers and dragging himself back up, feeling the twisting agony in his side. The guard saw what he was doing, and raised his sword, barking in a strange alien growl , the tone of which, even to Chekov's un-tuned ears, sounded like a warning. It took barely a moment before Chekov's universal translator kicked in, telling Chekov exactly what the Jantax was saying within certain parameters, using the linguist patterns of neighbouring planets and similar species to come to a language match

"Warning. Intruder. Near Starfleet Prisoner cell. Request…."

Chekov pulled the trigger, a blue pulse of energy hitting the guard in the chest, cutting off what he was saying and knocking him backwards, where he lay still.

The Russian staggered up, the pain in his side making his vision blur for a moment. The guard lay unconscious on the floor ,but there was no doubt about his message.. It wouldn't take them long to get here. Chekov could only hope that he could get Sulu out before then.

He caught sight of the cell door, the colour a monotonous grey and looking very much at home among the dank bricks. Moving over to the door, he pulled at it. It had obviously been too much to hope for to have it unlocked. Chekov had wanted to make as little noise as possible, but he was beginning to get desperate now . It didn't matter if they heard him now, they already knew he was here. He pulled his phaser up one more time, blasting at the door, and creating a perfectly small round hole, where the energy fire had melted the lock.

Chekov pushed open the door, peering into the dim cell, lit only by the light from the corridor that illuminated the dark bricks and dank concrete, which seemed to make up most of the facility. His phaser clutched tightly in his hand, listening for the sound of approaching footsteps, he took a small step inside the cell.

"Hikaru?" he whispered tentatively, but he could see little with the amount of light. Praying that he hadn't got the wrong cell, he pushed the door open further, and caught sit of a figure lying in the corner, hunched and with their back to the door. The figure turned their head towards the sound of Chekov's voice and the light hit their features, highlighting a proud Asian complexion and a ruffle of black hair.

"Pasha?" Chekov felt like sobbing with joy as he recognised Sulu's voice but now was not the time, reigning in his emotions as he walked further into the cell and over to his partner. He knelt down next to the helmsman, and hissed in anger as he saw the bruises on his face. There was a dark cut across Sulu's forehead, his lip and nose were caked with dried blood and one of his eyes was swollen and bruised black. Chekov had no doubt that there were more injuries on Sulu that he couldn't see.

One brown eye opened and Sulu's turned to look at him, his face crinkling into a frown as he saw the paleness of the Russians skin and the deep ragged wound of the left side of his chest.

"You're hurt" he managed to breathe out, but there was an anger in his voice. "I heard fighting outside, was that…?"

Chekov waved his concerns away " Just look at yourself, Hikaru" he said, moving closer to his friend. His ears strained for the sound of approaching footsteps, but for the moment the corridor was silent. "I'll mend, don't worry"

A small smile lit up Sulu's face "I've never been so happy to see you"

"Likewise" Chekov whispered back. He looked at Sulu, his voice tinged with barely concealed anger as his hand stroked Sulu's face, muttering more to himself then Sulu "I should have been able to stop zis. I shouldn't have let you go down to the surface, I shouldn't have…"

"You couldn't have known" Sulu smiled at Chekov, his eyes closing tiredly "It's not your fault Pavel, you couldn't have stopped this. What matters is that you're here"

Chekov breathed in deeply before composing himself. Sulu was right, there was no reason to beat himself over something he could have done little. It was the present that was important now, and that thought brought Chekov back to the seriousness of what was going to happen. They had a hurry.

"Come on, Sulu" Chekov whispered, moving to help Sulu up, wondering on how he was going to get them both out. "Ve have to get out of here"

"I think my ankle's broken," Sulu admitted quietly, and Chekov shouldn't have been surprised given the plethora of other injuries that he could see. It looked liked someone had used Sulu for a punch bag, and it made him angry, angrier then he would have liked to admit. But now was not the time for revenge. Sulu needed him, and Chekov had to put all his feelings to one side for now. "Just go, get yourself back to the Enterprise" His friend looked exhausted, his eyes fluttering shut of their own accord, and there was no way Chekov was going to leave him here.

"Not bloody likely" Chekov muttered, wrapping the helmsman's arm around his shoulder, pulling him up onto his undamaged leg as he took the majority of Sulu's weight, the helmsman unintentionally leaning on him heavily, sending a flare of pain through his hip. Chekov didn't complain. "Come on, they'll be coming to find me soon, and I really don't want to stay here longer then I have to"

Sulu didn't say anything, attempting to drag his legs forward in some semblance of a walk. A loud breath of pain escaped his lips, and it tore at Chekov's heart.

"It's ok, we'll get out of here. I promise" he assured Sulu, but he didn't know who he was lying to. Both of them were injured and that seriously affected their already slim chances.

Chekov flicked a glance over at Sulu, his ragged breathing and sudden lack of movement. A look of concern passed over his face before he felt Sulu stumble , quickly adjusting himself to take the rest of his weight, the sudden force of Sulu pulling down on him, nearly making him buckle." No, no, no" Chekov swore in Russian, watching Sulu close his eyes, his body becoming limp "come on, 'Karu, you need to say avake"

He stopped walking for a moment, well aware he was wasting precious time that he didn't have, his grip on Sulu loosening. He lowered the helmsman gently down, his back resting against a wall, Chekov getting down to his height to check that he wasn't in any immediate medical danger. Now that they were in the light, Sulu's injuries looked decidedly worse, but they would have to wait until they got back to the Enterprise. The Russian shook Sulu forcefully by the shoulder, willing him to open his eyes.

"Come on, Hikaru. I can't do this by myself" Chekov whispered. The situation seemed to be getting worse by the second. Sulu opened his eyes a fraction, but there was something about his tiredness that seemed unnatural, and Chekov only had to consider at Sulu's dilated pupils and his soporific state before he realised Sulu had been drugged with something. Chekov felt his hate for the Jantax grow, but there was little he could do as he watched Sulu slip back into unconsciousness. Whether Chekov liked it or not, he was alone on this one.

He froze suddenly, as he heard the sound of footsteps and angry voices heading his way. It hadn't taken reinforcements long to arrive, and the Russian swore again. He needed to get away. The edge of the east sector wasn't too far off , but it was getting there that was the difficulty. He had to get Sulu out of this god-forsaken hellhole if nothing else, and cursing every god he could think of, he pulled Sulu up into his arms, grateful that his partner had a lithe light build because of his fencing. He almost cried aloud at the pain that flared, bright and sharp in his side, but gritted his teeth as Sulu stirred in his arms.

"Pavel?" He asked blearily, but Chekov shushed his worries gently, trying not to jostle the other man too much in his arms on account of any possible injuries.

"Put your arms around my neck, 'Karu" Chekov whispered, as he heard the guards get closer. The helmsman was too exhausted to argue, wrapping his arms around Chekovs' neck to allow the Russian an arm free to draw his phaser. He wanted as little contact as possible with the guards heading his way, but in order to protect them both he needed to be armed, as he began to move down the corridor, away from the direction of the noise. He saw a flash of lilac skin that could only be only thing and fired wildly, more out of panic than anything else. The lilac flash stumbled, but soon another took its place.

Carrying Sulu did not make running easy as Chekov held the other man close, and Chekov could hear the soldiers gaining on them with every corridor he made it down without collapsing from the combined weight and pain. He clicked his commbadge, having lost all sense of direction in his rush, half running half stumbling down identical stone corridors with no idea of where he was heading. The only thing at the forefront of his mind was the soldiers gaining on him, and the weight of Sulu in his arms, slowing him down.

"Scotty?" he said, praying that there wasn't too much interference "Scotty, can you hear me?"

It was several seconds, filled with the sound of Chekov's frantic heartbeat and the Jantax steadily getting closer, before the engineer replied

"Aye, I can hear you Pavel. You're getting clearer every second"

"Vhere am I, Scotty?" Chekov bit back another cry as he turned into a corridor that looked exactly the same as the last five. He turned his head back to check behind him, raising his phaser as firing a warning shot at the lead Jantax, his head too woozy and his aim too rushed to have hit.

"Near the edge of the east sector" Scotty replied through the sound of static "Yer close but I cannae quite get a lock on you and Sulu" There was a pause and Chekov fired off another shot, his aims getting more and more desperate as he saw the guards get closer and closer. He saw only faint glimpses of them as he rounded the ends of corridors, but they were getting faster as he tired. "Kirk's gonna give ye hell when you get back"

"Zank you, Scotty" Chekov bit back a retort, hitching Sulu up higher in his arms "One problem at a time, da?" The Russians' lungs were burning, but he kept going, his heartbeat loud in his head. There was no way he was going to let the Jantax hurt Sulu again, even if he had to fight them off by himself.

He rounded another corner, not looking for a moment as he ran down the corridor. He looked up and suddenly he stopped dead, his face draining of all remaining colour as he took in the dead end before him.

"Nyet" he whispered, as though trying to deny its existence, but it was still there. He must have taken a wrong turning somewhere, but he couldn't go back, not now, as he looked back up the corridor he came down, listening to the sound of the inevitable getting closer. He was trapped, and he instinctively held Sulu closer as he backed up into the wall as far away as possible from the Jantax that would appear in a matter of seconds.

"Scotty, get us out of here!" he almost shouted in desperation, the comms channel still open. He saw moving shadows on the wall to his left and he knew the aliens were close now, too close for escape. Sulu stirred faintly in his arms and Chekov held him closer, scared for his partner. He didn't want Sulu to get hurt, and his knuckles whitened as he held his phaser tightly in his hand.

"Scotty, now vould be a good time" he swallowed as the Jantax appeared, their hulking bodies and raised swords coming into his line of sight. They caught sight of Chekov trapped, and a hideous smile formed on the face of the lead Jantax. Chekov sent a quick blue pulse out but missed, his hand shaking as he poured all his strength into standing upright and holding up Sulu.

"I'm coming Pavel." Scotty replied, and Chekov felt his heart sink "I'm trying to work through the interference" The Jantax seemed in no hurry to reach Chekov; in fact they seemed almost to enjoy the slowness of it as they steadily walked nearer, savouring the moment of victory.

"Just get Sulu out at least" Chekovs voice was quiet, almost pleading, as a black uniformed Jantax at the front walked closer towards him, his sword raised as though to strike Chekov. They wouldn't kill him, Chekov knew, but if their previous treatment of Sulu was anything to go by, they would both be punished; Sulu for escaping and Chekov for having the gall to help him. He didn't want to think about that as he raised his phaser as a warning; a small show of defiance in the face of twelve ferocious Jantax who hideously outnumbered him. The black uniformed Jantax made a noise that was almost a laugh, and Chekov heard his own phaser power up, a final stand, but suddenly he didn't seem to be quite there. The Jantax growled loudly and stabbed his sword through the air that moments ago had been the solid form of Chekov and Sulu, but which now held nothing but lingering motes of light.

The sight of the Enterprise's transporter pad had never been so welcome, as Chekov grinned before dropping to his knees from the exhaustion and sudden relief coursing through his veins. His euphoria didn't last long however and his attention immediately turned to Sulu, still in his arms, brown eyes opening as he regained consciousness.

"Where are we Pasha?" Sulu croaked, his voice nearly a whisper. Chekov smiled, running his free hand down to gently stroke Sulu's face.

"We're home, 'Karu" Chekov whispered back, his body to tired for more volume. Sulu smiled faintly and reached to grasp the Russians hand.

"You saved me"

Chekov grinned "I zhink Scotty deserves ze credit more" he looked over at the Scotsman who had a look of relief plastered over his smiling face, giving Chekov a tired thumbs up. Chekov returned the gesture, and noted that Bones had finally entered the bay, making his way over with a determined haste. "Anyvay," he continued, fixing Sulu with a serious look " I vasn't just going to leave you. No matter what"

Kirk watched silently to the side, taking in the state of his two officers. He inwardly flinched at Sulu's injuries and Chekov didn't look too good either, but felt reassured that Bones was on the scene, immediately taking charge, coercing Chekov into letting go of Sulu. Chekov was reluctant, but saw the necessity as Bones ran a tricorder over the helmsman. Kirk still felt uncomfortable about his officers even being in the position of getting hurt but he was reassured by the happiness in Chekov's eyes that had replaced the anger and desperation that they'd held when Kirk had last saw him, and he found that looking into the youth's eyes, he didn't really have the heart to reprimand him for breaking the rules. The kid had risked everything to save Sulu and that had taken guts that Kirk didn't think Chekov had. He wondered how many more surprises Chekov had up his sleeve.

Spock, standing solidly next to him also surveying the scene, spoke first, breaking the silence between the two.

"Are you going to be reprimanding Ensign Chekov?" It sounded almost as though he was uncomfortable about the idea, but Spock being Vulcan, Jim couldn't properly tell.

"No" Kirk didn't have to think hard to provide his answer. "There isn't any need"

"And if Starfleet inquires as to how we managed to recover Lieutenant Sulu?"

Jim flashed one of his signature smiles at the Vulcan "I'll think of something"

Spock nodded once, as if understanding the captains reasoning, and turned back to see Bones and Chekov helping Sulu up onto his feet. "Humans are very emotional beings" he commented as he saw Sulu and Chekov smiling and joking quietly with each other even through their exhaustion " I doubt any Vulcan would have taken such unpredictable actions to rescue a colleague. Maybe that is our downfall" Spock sounded thoughtful.

"Sometimes, it takes a bit of recklessness to get the job done" Kirk mused before sighing quietly "Come on, Spock. We'll get back to the bridge and leave these two with Bones. We'll talk to them later, but now I think it's fair to leave them be"

Spock walked out the door, Kirk following, but not before the captain took a last look back at the two helm-officers. Sulu, who still managed to look dignified despite his injuries, and little Pavel Chekov, his eyes fixed only on Sulu. The two held each other close, and Kirk knew that either of them would risk life and limb to keep the other safe. Kirk wondered what a love like that felt like, and for a moment, he couldn't help look at the expressions of care on the two men's faces. He sighed, before shaking his head and following on behind Spock. He'd have to wait and find out.