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Seek First...-Pt. 11
Seek First to Understand
I monitor the enemy personnel, watching for signs that we have been detected and they are advancing toward us. Commander Tucker slips the shuttlepod through the aft breach. The gaping hole is not a proper docking bay, but would do for our purposes, which were to infiltrate the Xindi armory, download data if there was sufficient time, set charges for a time delayed explosion, returning to the shuttle with at least one Xindi for interrogation. The plan was simple. The execution however was complex and risky. I estimated that we had a 1:5 chance of executing the mission successfully. The odds of survival were lower.
Using a combination of inertia, skill and at the last moment landing thrusters, the shuttlepod settles on the debris strewn deck effortlessly. The latches of our helmet click in unison. I open the shuttle hatch, phase pistol at the ready. My scanner will emit a signal if Xindi personnel are within a 20 meter radius. It is satisfyingly silent as I float into the zero gravity breach.
“That looks like a hatch at ten o’clock, T’Pol.”
The Commander’s voice spits from the comm. unit. There is interference. Thirty seconds into the mission and something has already gone wrong. I shake off the pessimism and move in the direction he has indicated. I do not turn around to note his progress, although every muscle in my body is demanding that I do. It is the reaction of a protector towards the protected, totally illogical.
I change the setting on the pistol to maximum. We need to get through that hatch quickly. The alert sounds. Xindi are on the move.
“What’s the delay, T’Pol?” He is curious, rather than critical, another surprise in a day already too full with them.
“A Xindi patrol is within 20 meters of the hatch.” No other explanation is necessary.
He moves to one side, grasping a broken conduit that extends from the bulkhead. When he is confident of his grip, he nods. I fire. A gaping hole appears where the hatch was and through it six Xindi crewmen float rapidly drawn by the change of pressure. They twist and turn trying to grab hold of anything, but the cold and the vacuum finish them off.
Commander Tucker is already inside and moving down the depressurized hallway. I follow.
“Six down. Have you any idea how many more we might meet on the way to the armory?”
I read the screen. “None for the next twenty meters.”
“Funny, T’Pol. Real funny.”
We reach a Y junction, where he quotes Robert Frost.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both. / And be one traveler, long I stood, / And looked down one as far as I could, / To where it bent in the undergrowth; / Then took the other, as just as fair ”
He disappears with a wave, taking the left corridor. I take the right.
Not to be out done, I quote a different verse by Frost, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. / But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep.”
His chuckle emerges from the comm. “Sleep, darlin’? I can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep. Maybe if I had someone snuggled up against me, sleep would come?”
The alert sounds.
“I heard that Sub-commander. Are they in your sector or mine?”
“It appears they are headed your way, Charles.” I call him by his first name for the first time. I hear his breath catch. I am illogically pleased by his reaction.
“Tag, I’m it.” There is a heartbeat of silence. “I’ll meet you back at the shuttle in 15 minutes, T’Pol.”
Then I hear him shout, “Hey guys, can you show me the way to the head, I gotta pee real bad.”
His diversion has enabled me to reach the Xindi armory without encountering the enemy. I rest low on my haunches at the armory hatch. I use the time to remove the incendiary devices from the sack that I have been carrying. Twenty meters in advance of the hatch, my alert had sounded, confirming that the armory was manned. I turned off the device and moved low and silently toward the target.
I hear the sound of feet pounding up a metal gangway. I am on the hinge side of the hatch. I hold my breath as the hatch swings open, hiding me from sight, but blocking my tactical view. The sound of feet running fades. I step out from behind the door. Will I be alone or confronting the barrels of enemy weapons?
The personnel inside are engrossed in their jobs. They are responding, it seems, to disembodied rapid fire commands emerging from their comm system.
The download will have to wait. I toss my grenades into the room in a triangular pattern. They are limpet like with a magnet that activates on impact. My aim is true for some, attaching themselves to the bulkhead above eye level. Others are less successful. My fourth throw draws the attention of the Xindi nearest the hatch. She yells and points. I retreat. I have 30 seconds to get out of range of the bombs.
I can hear the pounding of feet behind me. They are gaining on me. I must find a way to reach the vacuum of space. They will not pursue me there. The EV suit, intended to be my salvation, may be the death of me. It is slowing me down. My pursuers are gaining. Ahead is a Y junction. I ask my body for one last burst of speed, taking the road less fair.
End of Part Eleven.
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