Meng had been following Lana through the bowels of the ship for nearly half an hour before she whirled around to face him. "Just stop! Stop following me!"
"No," he said, quite simply.
"Wha-? Why?" Lana sputtered.
Meng sighed, "to make sure you're okay – to finish this and bring you back."
"Well I'm fine!" Her shouts bounced along the walls, making Meng cringe. They'd been moving steadily closer to core of the ship where their voices might be heard if they weren't careful. "And I don't want to come back right now – I want to be left alone! Is that so hard to understand?"
"Lana - " Meng started toward her, his hand outstretched.
She batted it away, "NO! Meng, just go!" With that, she spun on her heal and blasted forward.
Meng realized, with a start, that she was headed straight toward the main deck. Even if she wasn't instantly recognized, she was obviously Quuvarii and would stand out. Though part of him wanted to give her the privacy she desired, the protective part of him urged him after her.
Whether she'd intended it or was simply too absorbed in her own thoughts to recognize the danger, Meng couldn't be sure. Before he could stop her though, she'd strode onto the main deck and right into the arms of passing security team.
Meng pressed himself into the shadows as they grabbed her by the arms and dragged her away. Inside, he was battling back the instinct to charge after and rescue her. All that would gain was another prisoner for Bonwick's delight and Meng realized this before doing anything too foolish. Instead he was forced to watch as she was all but thrown into the security office.
Lana cursed her own stupidity but didn't put up a fight as the brutes pulled her out into the light of the main deck. She could see the doors to security several meters away. She glanced back toward the opening – where no doubt Meng was still hiding – and tried to see him. He was invisible to all eyes though and she cursed him too.
She cursed his relationship with Freya and she cursed his choosing her like he did.
The whole walk to security she cursed everything about Meng Asada. The bitterness had taken root in her heart and now, when violently pushed at the feet of Commander Bonwick, she let it take over everything.
"Oh, how delicious," Bonwick grinned at the new arrival. She barely glanced at her current victim as she motioned for him to be taken away.
Lana's stomach churned when she recognized Ash's face behind the mat of blood and grime that now decorated his face. Beneath it all, she could see a sparkle of recognition in his eyes when he saw her – and then fear. Though what he feared, Lana couldn't guess.
"Bind her," Bonwick said, her back turned to them. She seemed to be hovering over a table of instruments as Lana was dragged toward the chair.
"You don't have to, I'll tell you anything you want," Lana said with a gulp.
Ash, who still had fight in him, tried to turn towards her and started to say something but only a ragged cough came from his mouth. She turned away from him and focused on Bonwick instead. "Well that's...surprising..." Bonwick said, looking slightly disappointed. "Where are they holed up?"
Lana gulped again and kept her eyes on Bonwick, instead of Ash who was struggling now and trying to break away from his guard with what limited strength he had left. "In the Second, sub-section Gamma..." she recalled the faces of her friends as she gave away their location and fought the sudden urge to throw up.
"Is Meng Asada still alive?" Bonwick asked, shooting an irritated look at the officer dragging Ash. Lana merely nodded, she couldn't trust her voice not to crack. "Freya Ryan?"
"Yes," Lana said with a frown. It was easy to send a death sentence after Freya – easier than anyone else at least.
"What are the plans of the Sons of Liberty?" By now Ash had been locked away in another room, releasing a small portion of the weight Lana had been feeling. "Or perhaps I should say, were. What were the plans?" Bonwick's lips curled into a sick smile and the delight of victory glimmered in her eyes.
Lana gulped. What had she done?
Freya pinched the bridge of her nose and tried to tune out the noise – or rather the chaos – around her. Everyone had begun talking at once and no one was actually listening to each other. Freya's mind was overloaded with the incoherent words coming at her. She raised her hands and was surprised to find that most of them silenced and turned their attention to her as a recognized authority.
"We don't have time for bickering," she said, "we have to push forward with the plans already in place."
"Separation?" someone threw out.
Freya shook her head, "we can't separate now – not until the prisoners in the brig have been released or moved."
A few people suggested leaving them behind, which was met with outrage from others. Fighting threatened to overtake the crowd of rebels again. "Those prisoners are our families, our friends..."
"Silence! They're right – we will not separate without making every effort to take them all with us. You all know as well as I do that Meng would say the same. Ninety percent of the people held in those cells have nothing to do with the Sons of Liberty other than being related to someone. They don't deserve to be left behind and left to face punishment for something they had very little part in," her little speech was met with nods for the most part.
"So what do we do then? Separation was the only plan on the table I know about?"
Freya didn't actually have a ready answer for that but was saved from having to respond by a strangled shout from the back of the room. "Doc-doctor!"
Instinct propelled her forward, despite the knot of fear in her gut. The people in the room separated for her like a hot knife slicing through butter but pressed in behind her as soon as she passed them. Everyone was craning to get a glimpse of the owner of the voice though no one knew what had him so panicked. "What is it?" Freya said, when she finally came even with the young man. He couldn't be more than seventeen but she didn't recognize him.
Instead of answering her, he manipulated the computer console he was sitting at until Commander Bonwick's voice filled the room. "...we have the Quuvarii conspirator ma'am. She's been surprisingly helpful." The realization that she meant Lana hit them then but they barely had time to gasp in the small pause. "I'm planning an attack on their location at nineteen hundred – we will crush this pesky rebellion finally!"
"What is this?" Freya asked, just as Lady Ice's voice filled the silence.
"Very good Commander, progress at last. Bring me their leader – kill the rest at your leisure," the coldness in her voice chilled everyone to the bone.
"We tapped into security's comm system last week Doctor," the teen explained. "Meng's had a few of us monitoring it since then." The conversation between Bonwick and Ice had ceased and frantic conversations began all around Freya. The kid tried to put on a brave face but she could see the fear behind his bravado. "What are we going to do?" he asked, his voice cracking.
"It's time to take the offensive," Freya said. "I think she's right – it's time to end this, just not how she expects." Those standing nearest her, silenced and turned toward her expectantly. Soon everyone else noticed the shift in the room until everyone was waiting on her plan, whatever it was. "Bowers, alert the other cells – tell them to evacuate to the Third and sit tight. Move any wounded and the young," she looked over at the kid, he was too engrossed in the security static to notice her. "The rest of us will split up into four groups."
"And do what?" Bowers asked, voicing the question on the tip of everyone's tongue.
"We're going to take the ship," Freya said simply, with absolute confidence. Then she laid out the plan that had been forming in her head since Commander Bonwick announced a plan to attack them.
"Report," Captain Hunt strode across the bridge and claimed his seat from Jamison. On the viewscreen was the same image that had been there for months now. They'd been orbiting the moon so long, Hunt could name every geographical feature on surface in his sleep. "Someone shut that thing off," he said motioning to the screen, "I'm sick of looking at it."
Jamison reached over the back console and pressed a button so the screen went blissfully dark. "There's been no new activity from the alien vessels sir. Lieutenant Ice's patrol just began and they have made..."
"Lieutenant Ice?" Hunt said, recalling Katou's warning. "I wasn't aware he was on the duty roster for today." In fact, Hunt had ordered him grounded for 'medical reasons' just an hour before, but it seems as if his orders had gone unheeded or unnoticed in time.
"He was recleared for duty by the medical team..." Jamison said uncertainly. "Is there a problem Sir?"
"I hope not," Hunt said, looking around the bridge curiously. Katou met his eyes and he saw his own anxiety reflected in her eyes. "Anything else?" Hunt said, trying to reign in the feeling in his gut.
Jamison nodded but looked around the bridge nervously before leaning forward and speaking in a low voice, "Security has arrested one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty – a young Quuvarii woman."
Hunt recalled her face from the broadcast all those months ago but couldn't remember her name just then, "and was she...cooperative?" Jamison's nod was slight, the fear on his face told the captain everything he needed to know.
Just moments later, the bridge doors slid open, admitting a team of three security personnel. The two who came around the sides of the bridge to flank Hunt were grunts – probably a couple of Bonwick's people. But the one who stayed on the upper deck bore the badge of the Council. He was one Lady Ice's private guards – selected and employed after the attack on the Council.
Robert Hunt got to his feet as the Council guard stepped forward. "Your presence is required by my Lady Ice Captain. Now."
Hunt nodded and looked passed Jamison to Commander Katou, "Commander, you have the bridge." It was an unexpected move on his part but necessary. Momentarily confused, the commander nodded respectfully. "Am I under arrest," Hunt asked, returning his attention to the guard.
"Have you done something to merit arrest?"
"That doesn't seem to matter as of late," Hunt said with a sardonic smile. "I'll be back," he added, addressing the crew.
"I wouldn't count on that Captain," the guard said vindictively.
Hunt looked at the arrogant guard and smiled at him, "Oh I would. You can certainly count on it." Maybe they could, maybe they couldn't – but the Captain's confidence and unerring performance was just the bolster the bridge crew needed. Each of them stood a little straighter as Hunt was led toward the doors. Everyone recognized the strength on his face as he walked by them, as he walked to what could be his destruction.
The alien engineer nodded and swiveled around toward the console which issued the orders to the young lieutenant on the human ship.
"How long will it take for him to respond?"
"There should be an opening in their defenses within a rotation," the engineer said. She'd confirmed that their target was manning one of the fighters that stood between them and Unity and reported as much.
"Very good," the ambassador placed and cold hand on her shoulder and then turned toward the conn station. "When you detect the opening, make the move."
"She'll be ours soon sister, and then we will be able to repair the fleet."
"Soon. Soon it will all be over," she said as she rubbed her hands together in anticipation. Months of patience would soon pay off.