Alien Relations - Part XVI

October 2942
Pirate Asteroid Base 'Haven'
Unknown System

The remaining marines moved off the ship and headed in their direction. In shifting their over-watch, the two groups began leap-frogging each other toward the enemy. Photeus took a longer path around, but caught up to the three humanoids first, flanking them.

"Stop right there," Photeus called out to them.

One of the two females immediately turned and started firing at Photeus. He moved swiftly between crates of ship parts and repair equipment, avoiding the fire. The other two seemed to keep going, leaning on each other for support while same woman kept a bead on Photeus' position, firing a mere step behind him. He took cover behind a massive crate of ship parts, he knew if he moved now this woman would no longer miss.

Suddenly yelling of marines filled the hangar with new sounds, a weapon clanged to the metal flooring and the three were cuffed. Photeus left his cover and headed to the group, "Report."

Lynn responded, "Caught them from behind. First two are really busted up. This one had some fight in her, took a couple of us, but all three secure."

"Good, now we need..." Photeus was cut off by the male in the group.

"We have to get off of this station. It's going to explode any minute now!" the man was straining to make his point clear. His wound in his shoulder looked bad and slowly seeped blood. He struggled free of Patterson and came right at Photeus. The man used his forward cuffed hands and grabbed one of Photeus'. The man had no ill intent for Photeus, but he kept glancing back at the bloodied girl behind him.

"Eyanosa! Get down!" the bloodied girl suddenly had a weapon, and even though cuffed got off a single shot in Photeus' direction. The cuffs threw off her aim and the shot harmless hit a crate behind him.

Big John was quick enough to knock the weapon out of the girls hand and pulled her hands down roughly.

Eyanosa briefly croaked, "No..." and then sunk down, his strength fading from blood loss.

Photeus tried to act fast and pointing at Eyanosa, "Get this man stable! We need them." He then approached the bloodied girl.

"We could have killed you when we jumped you. We can get you out of here. Why in the 'verse would you try to shoot at us?

The girl looked back with cold, but very familiar eyes, "I will not be a slave again."

"I can promise you, you won't be a slave, but we need to know about the bomb or how to disable it," Photeus nearly begged for the information.

The girl turned her head away from Photeus, tight-lipped and defiant. The trigger-happy woman spoke.

"She doesn't know. She was merely one of Gustav's consorts. Go down to the central command, access the computer core and see what you can do. I'm sure it'll work out."

The last words of the sentence were punctuated by a sinister smile and poison in her voice.

"Oh a trap? How quaint," Photeus snarked back, "Load these three into the Renewal. Who here is good with computers?"

Rankers spoke up, "I know a bit about them."

Photeus nodded to him, "Good. You and," he pointed at Big John, "You. Come with me down to the command center. The rest of you, get on the Redeemer and keep the engine running. You see a power spike, get the hell out of here."

While the other soldiers took the prisoners to the redeemer, the three men traveled down to the central core of the station. All along the way, the station blared with the warning klaxon of 'Self-Destruct, engaged. Evacuate Immediately'.

Once they reached the central command, Big John kept watch while the other marine went to look at the computer control system. Photeus was eyeing the core, looking for anything that might be connected to the self-destruct protocol. After a couple minutes of the Rankers looking over and working with the computer he said a phrase Photeus always dreaded.

"Uh oh."

Photeus ran over to him and said, "No. No 'uh oh'. What's the problem?"

"I could see the countdown. But as soon as I started accessing data, it went down to 10 minutes. I just logged off, but before I did it had dropped to 4 minutes. It might be lower. The destruct system is tied to computer access. It has to be stopped or else we can't get the data."

Photeus didn't consider the bomb timer was the central computer itself. He would have to take an odd approach to this, "I have an idea. Where is data stored on a system like this?"

Rankers looked around, but then looked relieved, "Behind that mainframe panel there, I'd assume, but it can only be opened from the computer terminal controls itself. I don't want to blow us up while opening a lock." The marine gritted his teeth. Big John just chuckled softly to himself.

"Don't worry, check this out." Photeus took some moldable explosive, a little ball, from his satchel. He rolled the ball in his hands, back and forth, quickly, fashioning it into a thin noodle. He then took the string of explosive he just fashioned and jammed it into the hinge components of the panel and around half of the door seal itself. He attached a small electronic trigger into the putty.

"Step back a second, it won't be very big though," Photeus activated his trigger and the micro-blast flung the door off to the side, granting access to the computer inside. Photeus got down and pried the rest of the door away from the cabinet.

"Uh oh," were Photeus' next words. He could now see all the wires and triggers for the explosives. They were hard-lined into the computer system itself. He could tell if he removed a part, it would trigger the explosives, but now he could find them.

He now traced the lines around the room. He climbed a nearby control panel and tapped on a panel on the upper wall. It came free easily and revealed a mass of explosives crammed into the wall.

"OK, so which part is where data is likely to be contained?" Photeus demanded as he walked back over to the computer.

Rankers responded, "That there – that's the hard data storage unit. If we can get that back to the Unity, we can analyze it there."

Photeus nodded to Rankers and then sighed,

"Here's the thing, if I pull that, we all die. However, if I can blow up the trigger mechanism itself, I think I can aim my charge at the cooling rods instead. Core will still go critical, but I'll have another few minutes before it does."

Big John chimed in, "But if you screw it up, we all die, huh? Sounds like fun!"

"OK, that's what I'm going to do. I order you all back to the Renewal. Take those hostages back to Matthius. If we get nothing else out of this, let’s get them," Photeus ordered, ignoring John's quip.

Big John suddenly got serious "We don't leave a man behind!"

"I'm not asking you to leave any of your men. Leave me. I'll find a way off and hopefully save the data in the process. Besides, that's an order. Get out of here, NOW!" His yell was a bit harsher than he had intended but it seemed to snap the marines out of any sentimentality they were experiencing.

The marines looked at each other, shaking their heads, but then the ran out of the computer terminal, back toward the Redeemer.