Bowers flicked absently at a speck of dust on his pants. How he could even see the dust in the darkened space was anyone's guess. They'd been crouching in shadows for six hours now, pressed together like sardines. Patience was running thin and tempers were about to flare if they didn't get the chance to move soon.
"Why did we have to come right off?" The voice came from further in the shadows, one of the younger members no doubt. "My legs are killing me..."
"Your mouth is moving, you ought to see to that," Bowers hissed into the darkness. He couldn't even be sure of the source of the whining but he was certain it needed to stop. He was met with a bit of grumbling but the silence soon resumed. To be honest, he had also wondered why the doc had sent them to lay in wait when Bonwick's attack was still a dozen hours away but he kept his mouth shut and followed orders because she was the only one giving them out.
Just as the grumbling was threatening to expose them, several security members spilled out of the security office across the deck. They were all armed to the teeth and looked eager for the fight that they'd been promised. Bonwick herself followed them out, hoisting a phase pistol rifle on her shoulder.
Bowers slunk further into the shadows, holding his breath, while the eager young guards barreled past their hiding spot without a second glance. After they'd passed, Bowers pulled out his comm unit and tapped the button twice quickly before stowing it. Hopefully the message got through and the second group would be ready. "You two," he pointed toward the main science lab. It ought to be deserted but better to be sure, "seal the door and then join us. The rest of y'all...let's move." He hoisted his own weapon and darted out of the shadows, headed straight for the security office.
As expected, Bonwick had taken all but two guards on her raid so the outer office was practically deserted. The sudden surge of rebels took the remaining guards by surprise and they scrambled for their weapons, fumbling over their own hands. "I can see why she left you two behind," Bowers snarked. Surrounded and vastly outgunned, the two dropped their weapons and raised their hands. "Come on now, into the brig with you two."
Soon the prisoners Bonwick had been hoarding were released and the two guards took their place behind the force field. Unlike the cocky security officers Bowers was accustomed to, these two were dull and almost cowardly.
Ash, still wounded from the torture he'd been subjected to, hobbled toward Bowers. "What...? Lana... she..." Ash coughed and blood trickled from his mouth once more. His meager medical training with Freya told him his was bleeding internally, a fact he'd surmised hours before and had been brushed aside by Bonwick and her goons.
"It's okay, we know..." Bowers glanced around the mingling prisoners but didn't see the traitor in question. "Where is she?" Ash seemed prepared to answer but was overpowered by his own wounds and fell at Bowers feet. Two others scooped him up, supporting his weight between them. "Get him to the medical ward, along with any other wounded. Remember what the doc said – no force there."
They looked doubtful, but nodded as Bowers arranged other parties to escort the remaining civilians to the Third. "Move everyone you can – just in case," Freya has repeated the words so many times it was engrained in his memory. She'd never specified what the "case" would be – but then he wasn't sure he needed to know. If things went bad, really really bad, whoever had made it would blow the lock and separate from the ship.
Ash regained consciousness as they entered the medical ward. There were armed Sons on either side of him and he had no doubt more were behind him. "What's going on?" Doctor Hapsberg hurried over to them on entry. If she was alarmed by the presence of several rebels, she didn't show it. Instead she started issuing orders to them to get the various wounded – mostly torture victims – to the exam beds.
"These are some of Commander Bonwick's prisoners, as you can see they're in need of medical care," Hanes said as he deposited Ash onto the nearest bed. "Doctor Ryan sends her regards..." he added pointedly. Until then, none of them had shown any force but Hanes glanced at his weapon and patted it lightly. "If you don't mind – a couple of us will be staying here for the time being Doc...we'll stay out of your way."
Doctor Hapsberg narrowed her eyes at Hanes but said nothing, instead turning her attention to Ash. Taking this as consent, Hanes rounded up the others and sent most of them out, back to Bowers no doubt. Three, along with Hanes, remained behind. While they showed no obvious malice to any of the medical personnel, they kept their hands on their weapons and took up position on either side of the door.
"Can I assume there is a coup going on finally?" Hapsberg asked Ash in a whisper. Ash could only shrug – and even that was pitiful due to the pain. "Right..." she nodded and began scanning his body while keeping an eye on the rest of her staff. Visually, Ash was the worst of the patients that had been brought into the ward so she left the others in the care of nurses while she began to assess his damage. "You're going to need surgery..." she said, looking over the readings. "What happened to you?"
Ash couldn't help but smirk a little, recalling the look of frustration on Commander Bonwick's face vividly. "She was not..." he coughed, his entire body shaking with each one, "happy with my answers..." Hapsberg was only confused for a moment before the meaning of his words dawned on her. Then her face was swept with horror.
"Two beeps," Ansari looked at the blinking red light on his comm device and then shut it off and tucked it into his pocket. "That's the signal...they're on their way."
A ripple of whispers passed through the rebels that were crowded into the makeshift corridor. In truth they were pressed between two room, inside a bulkhead that barely allowed them to stand shoulder to shoulder. As soon as Freya had explained her plan, the more claustrophobic of their brethren had taken other assignments – understandably given how long they'd have to remain there. Ansari leaned as far forward as he could and nodded to the pairs who adorned the ends of their line. "You know what to do..."
They each returned his nod and shimmied along the wall until they disappeared completely into the darkness. Using a bit of engineering genius, they would lap the former head quarters of the Sons of Liberty, masking the bio signatures of everyone and then set the trap – hopefully anyway. If this all went wrong, if Bonwick didn't take the bait they could all die in a matter of minutes. Ansari pushed the thought from his mind and took several steadying breaths. He wasn't the only one.
After several minutes of oppressive silence, the comm unit beeped three times in his pocket. Without a word said, they crept from their hiding place and took up positions. One of the advance party returned at a jog and nodded toward the door. On the other side of the room, the same message was hopefully being delivered.
'One...place the device over the panel,' Ansari had spent the last six hours repeating the instructions in his head as he waited for this moment. He only hoped Garrett was doing the same at the other door.
'Two...enter code seven-nine-alpha-epsilon,' the tiny beeps from the device seemed loud in the silence. Everyone held their breath.
'Three, press enter and get ready,' as his thumb pressed the final button, the others clutched their weapons and pointed them at the door. A faint series of clicks sounded inside the panel, followed by a hiss from inside the room.
Inside the space, several security agents looked around in bewilderment. According to their scanners there should be at least a dozen rebels in this room – and only this room but they were alone. They were too busy arguing with each other to hear the clicks or the beeps. They were beginning to cough and sputter when they realized the room was filling with some sort of gas. "Fall back!" someone shouted over the madness.
Their vision blurred by the gas, they tumbled toward the two exits they knew of, bumping into each other in their haste. When the doors finally opened and they spilled into the corridors, the rebels were waiting. Though they did not fire any killing shots, the security force was soon subdued and sealed into the room to await some fate. "That's it?" The question was met with a few scoffs but it was valid – this was not a full compliment of Bonwick's personnel.
More importantly, where was Commander Bonwick herself? Ansari looked over their unconscious captives once more and shook his head. Something was wrong.
"Excuse me but you'll all have to leave Engineering...now," Commander Bonwick announced as she strode into the bay, flanked by several of her best staff.
"And who the hell are you to throw me out of my bay eh?" Dex thundered, taking the stairs with surprising speed. He did not back down from Bonwick's glare and only pushed closer. "I think if anyone'll be leaving, it'll be you, Commander." He practically spat the last word out.
Like the security chief, he was flanked by his own – although they weren't his best or particularly adept at fighting. Still, engineers had a heart that Bonwick lacked.
"This is a ship security matter Commander Dexter, vacate the engineering bay and take your crew with you or I'll have you arrested."
Dex continued to stand his ground, prepared to let the evil wench try and arrest him. When two of the brutes laid their hands on his arms, he struggled against them and would have had them had the butt of a phase pistol rifle not been brought down on his temple. He crumbled into unconscious and the other engineers were horrified at the sight. "You didn't have to do that!" Jordan shouted as she fell to her knees beside her husband.
"Perhaps he ought to have listened," Bonwick said dismissively. Without another word to the engineers, she began directing her troops to secure all entrances to the bay.
Outside the doors, the third group of rebels was waiting for the signal to make entry. This group was comprised almost entirely of engineers as an appeal to Dex to see the value of a peaceful resolution. It had been everyone's hope to take all the major departments with very little force – particularly Freya's. Still, everyone had been armed just in case they ran into conflict – as they were about to.
Before the security team inside could secure the last doors, the band of rebels made their move but instead of Dex's mostly friendly face and the faces of their friends, they were met with phase pistol fire. "Cover!" Liam shouted, ushering the rebels in and taking up position behind a console. They fire cut through the bay from both sides, gracing the engine core more than once. The engineers knew the risks and tried to be more delicate with their shots but the security team weren't making it easy for them – nor did they seem to care if this battle destroyed their only means of propulsion.
The engineers who had been crouched around Dex's crumbled form at the moment of breech soon joined the rebel side, pulling weapons from the locker tucked into the corner in case of an enemy boarding.
It was Jordan Dexter's shot that brought Bonwick down – stunned only unfortunately. With their chief down, the security officers started the break ranks – unsure of what to do next. While a handful of the more vicious guards continued the fire fight, several fell back, urging their companions to do the same.
"We can't let them leave!" Liam called out, jumping up in the midst of the fire and crossing to the nearest console. He dodged two shots before dropping into an awkward roll. Jordan, faster and driven by rage, had beat him to the console and her fingers were flying across the surface.
The force field shimmered into existence in front of the door before fading to invisibility. "We can't out fight them..." Jordan said doubtfully as she sealed them all in.
"What if we flood the bay with gas..." Liam suggested, recalling the original plan for these guys. If only they'd been with the rest of their team down in the bowels of the ship.
"Well then we'd all pass out and possibly die," Jordan threw herself against Liam as phase pistol fire ripped past them, catching her in the shoulder and knocking her down in a gasp of pain. Liam reassured himself that she was alive, if wounded, and then looked back over the console. Three of their own had now fallen in addition to Jordan while the security team had only lost two so far. Bonwick's form had been dragged away from the center of the fire fight but the other had been left where he'd fallen. The rest of the security officers were crouched around one console on the other side of the bay, rising and falling in a rhythm to exchange fire with the engineers.
Liam took a steadying breath and leveled his phase pistol in their direction. None of them paid him any attention as he lowered the aim a degree or two and said a small apology to no one in particular. The beam sliced through the console in seconds and the tell tale whistle sent the engineers to the deck as the explosion threw the security force out. Those closest to the explosion were likely dead, the others were unconscious or broken to the point of offering no resistance. "Dex is gonna kill you," Jordan smirked, then grimaced.
"Better him than them..." Liam said as he yanked out an emergency med kit to treat her wounds. For a moment he was thankful for the brief instructions in first aid Doctor Ryan had given them all over the last few months.
Freya said a silent prayer to the universe before nodding to team. Their group, the smallest of all, consisted of only five people and was possibly the most likely to fail. Jenkins was manipulating the door panel next to her and cursed once before the doors slid open. Lady Ice's personal goon, Radke rushed forward and was subdued with a single stun shot to the chest. He'd be sore when he woke up but he would wake up....eventually.
Inside the Council Chambers, Lady Ice commanded the center seat and was flanked by two other ancestrals – no doubt the new Council members. Freya wasn't surprised to see them there, though she somewhat regretted their presence. She motioned to her team to take up positions on either side of the room as there didn't seem to be any more security. To be safe, two of them began sweeping the room and peaking behind the curtains while Freya hopped up into the center spot, reserved for those the Council had granted an audience. "My Lady Ice," she smirked and gave an exaggerated curtsey, "I've come to request an audience with the Council..."
"Denied," Lady Ice said, her eyes as cold as her name suggested. "People of such...low birth...are not permitted within these chambers," she added, lashing out and hoping to sting Freya.
Freya was about to rebut her when one of her team gasped and yanked a curtain aside – revealing Meng, trapped in a glass chamber of some sort. He was badly bruised and Freya couldn't tell if he was even alive. She wavered, momentarily, longing to run toward him.
Lady Ice watched with amusement, a sick smile on her face. The other two council members did not looked surprised at the discovery but both looked sickened – a fact Freya picked up on.
Before Freya could decide, another curtain was thrown back to reveal Captain Hunt in a twin chamber. Unlike Meng, he was not bruised or wounded – though his hands and legs were bound to the walls in thick metal cuffs. His eyes met Freya's and she was able to see the strength there, still holding steady. She nodded and turned back toward Lady Ice. "I'm afraid you're mistaken ma'am," she was greeted by a snarl but continued before the witch could comment, "though not about the regulation. About my birth." Freya stood a bit taller, carefully focusing her eyes on Lady Ice so she couldn't see the others frantically trying to find a means of freeing the captives.
Lady Ice's face betrayed her anger for a fraction of a second – long enough for Freya and the other Council members to see – before she recovered her composition. "I cannot imagine what you mean Ms. Ryan."
"Really? Hmm...I imagine you can. My mother was an embryiotic – I won't deny that. But my father...my biological father was one Doctor Allen, who is related to the original Doctor Allen actually. So you see, I am ancestral – more so than you anyway. As I recall, and I recall quite well, you're only and Ice by marriage," Freya's barb struck deep and Lady Ice winced, as if she'd been physically wounded.
The other two council members, meanwhile, were looking between the two of them confused. "So, I'll ask again...as an ancestral member of this ship, I'd like an audience with the council. What say you?" Freya looked to the other two briefly before settling on Lady Ice.
Having regained her fortitude, Lady Ice pushed to her feet and prepared to verbally lash out but the other council member stopped her. "I, for one, would like to hear what she has to say. And you Elana?" he looked past Lady Ice toward his compatriot. Elana nodded and turned her attention toward Freya.
"I think that's two again one then eh?" Freya said as Lady Ice sputtered and glared at the pair of traitors. "I thank you both," she added, nodding to each in turn. "We came here hoping to put an end to all of this – as peacefully as possible."
"You shot Mr. Radke..." Elana pointed out.
"He's merely stunned I assure you. At the moment – the Sons of Liberty are working their way through the ship, securing all major departments with as few casualties as possible. I think enough lives have been lost in this so far," Freya said, "as hard as it may be to believe, we do want peace with our fellow ship mates."
"We knew about your little battle plan, appropriate forces have been sent to eradicate the insurrection!" Lady Ice spat out.
"You mean the team below decks? Or the one in engineering?" Freya pulled out a comm device and held it up. "All teams report in."
"Science, medical and security has been secured Doc," Hanes' voice crackled through first.
"HQ team subdued Doctor – we've begun transporting them to the brig for containment before they wake up," Ansari said quickly.
"Engineering secured – with some losses," Liam's voice was subdued. He'd already reported the console explosion to her so she knew who the losses were.
"Bridge team standing by," Bowers reported. He and a handful of others had broken off from the first group once the departments had been secured and were in position to make a move if it became necessary.
Freya nodded at each and smiled at the council. "Stand by," she clicked the comm closed. Lady Ice was pale and shaking by now. "Not what you hoped to hear?"
"What are your intentions?" the male council member asked nervously.
"We mean to take control of the ship if needed and disband this council until such time as new representatives can be chosen by everyone," Freya said. "No more discrimination or preferential treatment by class. We mean to roll back time to what our ancestors would have wanted."
"How dare you assume to speak for our ancestors!" Lady Ice shouted, briefly revived and incensed by Freya's words.
"'Though these precious babes bear the skin color of our enemy; they are not monsters nor are they our enemy, they are not to be feared or shunned for an accident of birth. They are perfect, they are glorious, they are our family. They will be treasured; they will always remind us of their dear mother – one of the bravest women I've ever met. They will not face prejudice among this crew as everyone fights only for the chance to hold them and love them. And I hope it will always be as such.'" Freya paused, "Surely you recognize the words of your husband's ancestor Lady Ice? That was from a personal log entry of Ambassador Tessa Jones – later Ice – regarding the birth of Amy Swanson's twins. Quuvarii twins. Amy died during childbirth but the crew embraced the children – regardless of their skin color, regardless of their genetics. How did we stray so far from that?"
"How indeed?" Elana brushed tears from her eyes.
"Enough!" Lady Ice pushed herself to her feet and reached for a small panel that was nearly hidden on the desk. Elana was horrified and looked back toward the captives while the male council member grabbed for Lady Ice's hand to stop her.
It took Freya only a moment to guess that the panel controlled something about the chambers – would it suck the oxygen out? Would it torture them in some way? With a renewed sense of desperation, the other member of her team began clawing at the chambers, looking in vein for a release of some sort.
Freya ran for the desk and examined the panel quickly but nothing was labeled clearly. If she pressed the wrong button she could be dooming both the Captain and Meng to death – but if she didn't...
"The green one! Press the green one!" The council man shouted, still grappling with Lady Ice.
Freya couldn't be sure she could trust him but Lady Ice shrieked in horror, which was enough. Closing her eyes, Freya pressed the green button. In a second, a pair of hisses greeted her ears. To her relief Captain Hunt stepped out of his chamber and Meng was caught and supported by two Sons of Liberty as he came out.
Thinking the danger had passed, the council man released Lady Ice and she launched herself at Meng –no doubt hoping to finish him off with her bare hands in desperation. With lightening reflexes, the Sons shifted Meng to one of them and the other grappled with Lady Ice before thrusting her into her own chamber and clanging the door shut. It instantly sealed and Lady Ice began to pound on the glass violently.
Elana – seemingly calm and timid Elana – reached over and pressed the red button on the panel before anyone realized what she was doing. In horror, they all watched as the chamber first filled with water – Lady Ice thrashing about as her own torture device was used against her. Then the electricity erupted, charging the water, and the inhabitant, with extreme voltage.
The thrashing stopped.
The water drained away to somewhere unknown.
Lady Ice's body slumped in the chamber – devoid of life.
"I'm sorry about that," Elana said simply.
"I'm not," Captain Hunt said at the same time as the councilman. They exchanged a dark look before everyone turned away from the sight. "I believe we have a peace accord?" Hunt suggested.
"I believe we do," the council man said, sticking out his hand to Freya. "I congratulate you Doctor – it would seem the ship is yours."
Freya shook his hand but turned toward Captain Hunt, "with all due respect – I'm a doctor, not a Captain," she said with a wink.
They're laughter was cut short as the ship was rocked violently. "Bridge to the Captain...or whoever is in charge..." Katou's voice cackled over the ship wide comm system. "We're under attack."