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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 6: Turbulent Waters and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

You shot me!

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Four phasers fired, four lances of energy streaked across the intervening distance and before anyone could react four people went tumbling to the ground leaving one very confused Lieutenant Gérard Maxwell standing just outside a cave mouth by himself.

Adelinde was about to shout at the engineer to start moving but he started on his own anyway, running as best as he could towards whoever was firing at his captors. While freedom was likely a decent motivator, the sounds of shouts from inside the cave likely served as a more immediate incentive to run. Loud barks could be heard issuing from the cave, announcing the arrival of two individuals with longarms to the cave mouth.

Both were levelling weapons again at Maxwell when a phaser blast took him square in the chest, collapsing him like a pile of rags. The other managed to squeeze a round off before he too went down, hitting Maxwell in the left shoulder and sending the man to the ground just shy of a line of bushes.

“Move up!” The immediate threat neutralised it was important to maintain the initiative but also check on their wounded comrade. For their worth her security personnel, Otieno and Balandin, took firing positions on the cave mouth, pointing the Highcroft police to a position for crossfire. That left herself and Ranger Marshall to converge on Maxwell.

“How bad?” she asked, dropping to a knee beside her comrade.

“Oh, you know, fucking agony,” Maxwell said through gritted teeth. “Fucking hell that hurts.”

“Stay still boy,” Marshall ordered, putting on his best and likely well-practised grandfather voice that surprisingly worked in Adelinde’s opinion. He dropped his own weapon, swung his pack around and was digging out a first aid kit. “I ain’t done anything like this in years outside of refresher courses, so kindly make like a training dummy would yah?”

Maxwell sighed, then tried to relax best one could while lying on the ground face first with your hands cuffed behind you. “Captain’s still inside. They used some sort of energy dampener on her.”

Marshall barely started when he suddenly stopped. “This isn’t going to be quick and I don’t feel comfortable just putting patches on him and leaving him for backup.” He waved one of the cops over who thought about it, then sprinted over. “Jackie and I will stay here with your man. I’ll keep an eye on him and we’ll draw attention for the shuttle when it gets overhead.”

She merely nodded, then moved forward towards her people, then waved their last loaner cop over. “Sweep and clear each room and cavern. Get in, find the captain, get her out. Heavy stun everyone, leave them and move on. Clean up when backup arrives.” Nodding heads all around proceeded entry into the cave.

Barely fifty meters inside the cave opened up into a cavern that while mostly natural had clearly been worked at some point to smooth out the floor and square off the walls. With half a dozen vehicles spread around at charging stations, racks of equipment and a couple of people working it clearly shouted motor pool to Adelinde. Three shots, rapid succession as her team moved forward sent HLF members to the floor, one cracking their head pretty bad on the way down.

They stopped just long enough to confirm he was breathing, pulse was okay and no heavy bleeding before rolling the man into a recovery position and moving forward, all at the insistence of the cop.

They continued down the only tunnel they had before them, sweeping two side rooms clearly cut into the rock, stunning another four HLF members either asleep on bunks or in a kitchen preparing dinner. But their luck had to eventually fail as they ran into two men coming their way. Shots missed and before much longer return fire was coming their way, the loud barks of gunfire reverberating up and down the cave tunnels much louder than the whine of phasers. No one in this cave would mistake that noise and from now on it was an uphill battle.

“Keep moving!” Adelinde encouraged as she peaked out from around the corner had been pinned behind, lined up a shot and pegged one of the two men holding them back right in the face as soon he looked up from behind some boxes for a shot himself.

A loud crack right beside her face stunned her, chips of rock and metal shrapnel cut at the left side of her face, her hearing just a high-pitched whine. Logically she processed the near-miss, but everything was so slow. She couldn’t hear, couldn’t focus her eyes for a moment. Another flash of orange and something in the distance, out of focus, crumpled to the ground.

“LT!” She was shaken by someone. “LT, you okay?” Balandin give her another shake of the shoulders then held up his hand, two fingers up. “How many?”

“Two. I’m good.” She shook off the shock and wiped at her cheek, hand coming back with some blood, but not a lot. “Let’s move.”

“Fucking Starfleet! It has to be!” Charles bellowed at Gavin as those in the HLF’s command flipped tables over or moved crates to form barricades they could fight behind.

They’d planned for this. Make a fall-back position then push forward. That way if they had to retreat, they at least had something to retreat to. As soon as they heard gunshots echoing down the tunnels, they knew what it meant.

“Chuck, calm down,” Gavin said to his friend of many years. “We can handle this. We’ve got their captain, we can negotiate with them.” He wasn’t hopeful about it, but he knew it was a chance. Stop firing, offer to talk, play for time. Get people out the back way so the HLF could live on.

“Fuck that. Talking hasn’t worked. They want a fight, I’m going to give them a fight,” Gavin spat at him as his own rifle.

“Chuck, stand down.”

“No! You’ve lost the way. I’ve been telling you for years to be more active but instead, you wanted to wait for the right moment. We have that moment now and you want to talk! No! I won’t stand down.”

Gavin looked at his friend and realised he wasn’t looking at the man he knew, but someone else. Someone with a lot more hate and spite in him than his old friend. A quick look around, to see how many of the HLF were seeing this at least, confirmed for him it was just the two of them in the room now. “Charles, we need to evacuate. Trust me on this. We’re farmers and miners and ranchers, not soldiers. Those Starfleet folks will be trained for this work.”

“Piss of Gav. If you haven’t got the stomach to fight, you can run.” There was no emotion on Chuck’s face but anger. “Fucking coward.”

He sighed, then turned to walk towards the cell door, fishing the keys out of a pocket. “Cowards live longer. Go fight your fight Gav. I’m taking our hostage and getting out of here. Least one of us can keep the dream alive.”

He was five steps short of the door when he heard the crack behind him. The searing pain in his back, his front, the ping of metal on metal in front of him off the door. Then the floor came up awfully fast. A boot found his shoulder and helped him onto his back as his breathing became laboured.

“I am the dream. Traitor.” Gavin spat at him, collected the keys and proceed towards the cell door. He couldn’t see his friend, his killer, open the door, just what was said. “Get up, you’re coming with me.”

“Going to have to help me remember?”

“Clear!” Otieno shouted as the last of this wave of HLF members went down.

Adelinde looked over at Balandin who was tending to Jersey, the cop who was still with them. She’d taken a bullet to the leg, what looked like a nasty graze, but was enough to slow her down. “Balandin, stay with her. Otieno, with me.”

They moved, one overtaking the other from cover to cover, aiming down the corridor and stopped when a pair of figures, backlit by the chamber beyond, stepped out into the open.

“That’s far enough Starfleet.”

Her eyes adjusted to the change in conditions and she could see a man, about half a head taller the Tikva, holding her in front of him, a weapon to her temple. His stance was off though as he was having to support someone who was clearly incapable of supporting their own weight properly. Maxwell was right, they had drained her prosthetic limbs.

“Otieno, halt.” She watched the man a moment, watched Tikva and realised something. He was left-handed so he was holding her with his right arm. Her left side was what was covering most of his body. That presented a unique situation.

“Otieno,” she said quietly, trying to keep it between the two of them. “When I say go, I want you to get his attention.”

“Hands up where I can see them Starfleet or your captain gets it.” The man’s voice had a manic quality to it that she didn’t like.

She relied on distance, on Otieno drawing attention, on her own skill. She relied on the Fates guiding a shot. Her thumb switched her rifle’s power setting up, then another control to adjust another setting, all done on feel. This man had to go down.

“Now.” She moved slightly to look down her scope and draw the shot. Tikva was in the way, she couldn’t comfortably hit just her captor, so she compromised.

Otieno’s actions drew attention just like she hoped. The man’s gun went from his hostage to pointing at Otieno and with that, she fired.

The blast was way above heavy stun, into levels typically used for blasting through thin barriers. Thin barriers like someone else’s arm. Someone else’s non-functional prosthetic arm. It ripped right through Tikva’s left arm, hitting the man behind her. If she had chosen the right setting the prosthetic would have taken most of the blast and stunned the man. If it was wrong, she just killed a man.

All in all three bodies hit the floor, only one of them rolled back to their feet, weapon raised. “Clear.”

“Fucking hell!” came Tikva’s voice from down the hall. “You shot me!”

She and Otieno were on her in moments, pushing her captive off of her. The smoking hole in his chest, the blank look in his eyes, all the confirmation she needed on his state of being. “Are you okay?” she demanded of her captain.

“You blew my arm off!” Tikva said, though not in anger. Shock? No. The grin confirmed it. Amusement. “How can I be okay when my chief of security goes about blowing my arm off.”

“She’s fine,” Otieno confirmed with no attempt at all in assessing Tikva’s condition. “I hear footsteps coming our way.” He moved back the way they came. “Reinforcements are here.”

“About time,” Tikva commented. “Give me a hand will you. I’m just about done with this place.”

Adelinde shouldered her rifle and then helped Tikva to her feet and in doing so realised just how slow it was going to be getting out of here with her hobbling on only one good leg.

“I’m not getting out of here with any dignity, am I?” Tikva asked as she leaned into her.

“No, you’re not. Princess or fireman?”