Old friends

“Jay! Come on!” Phil snapped.
The scientist waved goodbye, and Jay, conceding defeat, turned and ran with the others heading toward where the Blue Dwarf was embedded in the stations structure.

Running in silence along with the others through the eerily deserted corridors, Katrina knew she was fighting a losing battle trying to keep Max comforted and happy, but she didn’t mind; she was overjoyed at finally having him in her arms again, and although she felt somewhat disconcerted at how unfamiliar he had become to her in the many intervening years, she was sure that this would soon pass and that she could begin to enjoy her time with her child again.
She shifted his weight to try and better support him, and to relieve her aching arms a little as Jay and the others slowed to a halt ahead of her, the five of them cautiously emerging into a massive, cathedral-like chamber, strewn with debris.
“I think that’s the Dwarf up there!” Phil called, his voice echoing around the cavernous enclosure as he squinted up at the ceiling lost in gloom, some thirty metres or more above them
“Does this part of the station look familiar to anyone?” Jay asked
Katrina shook her head
“I’ve never been here before”
“Nor I” Hoshi grunted “I suspect that we’re in one of the restricted zones - Are you able to determine where we are Mister FeBuggure?”
Phil shrugged and pulled his handheld terminal out to tap at the screen a few times, his expression darkening as he tried and retried his access overrides
“They’ve revoked my authorisation” he grumbled “They must be on to us...”
“Hardly surprising” Katrina muttered sarcastically “This hasn’t exactly been the stealthiest of operations”
“Yeah, but look how smegging quiet it still is” Jay said darkly “C’mon we should move”
Picking one of the chamber’s exits at random, they chanced upon a stairwell and by general agreement began climbing up towards where they hoped they would find the Dwarf, Jay leaving his worries unvoiced about how they were actually going to be able to escape once they had made it back to the ship

The climb seemed to go on interminably and Katrina, still carrying Max began to fall behind, Jay eventually breaking off from the lead and dropping back to fall into step beside her
“Can I help?” he asked gently
Nervously worrying at her lip piercing, Katrina shot him a wary look and shook her head; she could tell that he desperately wanted to hold Max, but after so many years apart from her son, she was loath to give him up, even to his father - especially when Max didn’t even know him, and when she herself was only just getting over the decades she had spent hating him for what he had done to her and everyone else at the STCP
“There’ll be time for that later” she murmured “You’ve more combat experience than I have, so you holding Max could get us all killed – I’ll be fine”
Jay frowned unhappily at this, but was unable find fault in her logic
“He looks like you” he said after a moment
Katrina smiled at him
“And you” she said shyly
“Hey guys!” Phil called down to them, hanging over the bannister “There’s a door up here, Hoshi thinks”
The rest of his words were lost to the deafening explosion that shook the stairwell, the detonation fortuitously knocking Phil off his feet and down a flight of stairs before the metallic remains of the door scythed through where he had been standing just fractions of a second beforehand
“Smegging shit!” Katrina screeched, instinctively crouching down to shield the suddenly hysterically screaming Max with her own body “Jay! Go!”
Wordlessly hefting his assault rifle, Jay sprinted up the stairs, taking them three at a time to race past a dazed looking Phil who was sat dumbly shaking his head, trying to clear his vision, and up to the landing above
What he saw when he got to the top nearly made him retch – The door had been blasted outwards, the shrapnel reducing Hoshi to nothing more than unrecognisable, torn meat; the man’s blood and ruined flesh spattered across the smoke shrouded landing
“Oh shit” Jay coughed, his eyes wide “Oh, smegging shit!”
A single slender figure moved amid the smoke in the room beyond the door
“Cass?” Jay croaked incredulously, thinking he recognised the long hair and thin build
“You wish” Brittany sneered as she strode out of the smoke

<tbc />

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