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Marideen was tossed around like a doll. Her face continued to smack into the ground over and over again as she desperately tried to hold onto anything. There was nothing available. What was happening? The noise was so sudden and loud that her ears were once again deafened. The world around her seemed hollow. Her head throbbed.

She felt consciousness starting to slip from her, only to find the sudden onslaught end as suddenly as it started. A pair of hands grabbed her, lifting her off the ground pulling her away. She started to slap the hands away to keep them off. More hands grabbed onto her. She was caught. The guards had done something to her, and now they were all around her, dragging her into a cell to be tortured.

She struggled to fight back, but the encounter with whatever happened made her feel so weak. Her head throbbed, she could barely hear anything, the world was blurry, and her muscles were like jelly.

“It’s okay sis, we got you,” A voice blazed through, sounding watery and distant.

She couldn’t tell whose it was, or what they were trying to tell her, but she calmed down a bit, letting the hands pull her. Then the trembling started happening again. The ground around her started rumbling, slowly at first, then increasing in severity. She feared being tossed about again, but the hands around her kept her stable and on her feet. Maybe the tremors were not as bad as they seemed.

Something about the shaking and the deep rumble tickled at the back of her memory. Rumbling… Rumble…Rumbler! With a flash of clarity her mind began to understand again. A bomb. Kate’s bomb. She must have been able to set it off so they could escape. Escape!

She glanced around her. Danelle and Berret were holding her. There were several other people around her as well. Markus was there, but she didn’t really recognize anyone else. Her eyes had been open the whole time, but she only just started to see the environment around her and what was going on. The ability to hear seemed to slam back into her at roughly the same time.

“…to get moving as quickly as possible. I don’t think Kate hit the right target. Had she, the whole station would have lost gravity. Either way, escape pods must be activated and I think we can get out of here in the confusion. They should be evacuating all nonessential personnel. Let’s get out the back door and on an escape pod as quickly as possible. I’m afraid we won’t be meeting up with Kate or Beiromon, they are on their own for the moment.” Marideen heard Markus saying.

“I’m not going anywhere until I know if Marideen is alright,” Danelle replied stubbornly.

“I’m okay,” Marideen whispered hoarsely.

Berret, Danelle, and Markus all glanced at her.

“Are you sure? We can stall the guards. Most of them are about as shaken up as you. Most of us were near enough to something to grab, but I saw you get smacked around like a Tarvan housewife.”  Berret asked.

She attempted to use her feet, using Berret as balance a bit more than she would have liked. The world around her still seemed to spin, but not as badly as before. She slowly let go of Berret’s arm, although he had his hands out as if to catch her at a moment’s notice. After a second, she nodded to all of them. Markus audibly sighed in relief. Danelle threw him a scowl over Marideen’s shoulder. Berret grabbed Marideen’s arm again and began tugging her towards the exit at the back of the prison.

“What is this about Tarvan housewives?” Danelle broke in.

“Not the time, Danelle,” Markus let out a growl.

Marideen could now make out they were still in the prison. There were six other people they had released from their cells with the key Marideen had thrown to Markus. They went through the doorway in single file, back into the dark hallway beyond. Markus pulled out a small grenade. Pulling the trigger, he tossed it down the hallway hitting the corner as it landed. Smoke began pouring out of it, quickly filling their view of the corner of the hallway with dark grey smoke.

Markus closed the door, sealing them off from the smoke and putting them back into the almost darkness of the back alley between the holding cells and the storage area.

“I am not sure how long before the smoke wears off before they become bold enough for an attack, but I will try to buy a little time,” Markus mumbled as he quickly worked.

Within seconds, he had a flame torch ignited and was welding the locks shut. The whole process took about a minute. The darkness seemed to help Marideen’s head. She must have been steadier, as Berret removed his hands from her after a bit. When Markus finished his welding, he glanced up with a look of surprise on his face.

“Well don’t just stand there, get going,” He said in a rushed tone, kneeling to put his tools back into the tool case.

His words seemed to have an effect on the whole party, who up until that point still seemed afraid to move.  Marideen, to prove to herself as much as Berret and Danelle, took the lead. The first few steps seemed the most difficult. Once she got her momentum going she felt stronger and more capable.

Berret and Danelle quickly followed her down the dark hallway, staying close in case she fell. Their concern irked her a little bit, yet at the same time comforted her. Each stride grew more confident until she reached the door leading into the artifact holding. Without missing a stride, she opened the door and took a step into the light.

A short woman stood in the middle of the room. She had auburn hair set up in a frizzy mess. She had a small petite face, although her eyes could only be described as hawk-like. She also had a gun trained directly at Marideen. Marideen stifled a gasp at the unexpected sight.

“It would seem that even a group of renegades have interest in my work,” she spoke in a deep Hucton accent that Marideen had some trouble understanding at first. “I assure you, I will die to protect my findings from scum like you.”

Her hands stroked something on the table. Marideen glanced at the table suprised to see the thing the woman was touching affectionately was a man. He laid across the table in a supine position, various tubes and syringes stuck into his arms and legs. A breathing apparatus seemed to be over his face as well.

Noticing Marideen’s appraisal of the man, the strange woman smiled, “Oh, yes… you like my child of time?”

Her fingers stroked down his chest again, as if to claim ownership over him through her immediate contact.

“What is this?” Marideen choked out, unable to come up with any other response.

“A relic, one that will change everything. And one you should have never laid eyes on. I typically prefer to leave the killing to boys with guns, but I seem to be short on them and you seem to be an immediate threat. Bad business, this, I do apologize.”

The intent in the woman’s eyes became clear as she steadied her gun with both hands. Marideen let out a strangled chocking sound as she lifted her arms, almost frozen by the moment. The woman’s eyes narrowed, her finger tightening on the trigger, followed by a sudden loud thunk.

The woman with the gun collapsed to the floor in a heap. Out from behind a container stepped Maximil.

“You sure took your time,” Markus growled pushing through Marideen and Berret from behind, “Why’d you let her through in the first place?”

“I didn’t want to raise an alarm, and I thought she might just leave before you guys got out of here. Then the shooting started and the bomb went off. She started getting agitated and I just couldn’t find a good time to get up behind her without her getting off an alarm. I figured a good distraction was in order… and then you came,” Maximil stated.

Markus grunted and Danelle barked a laugh, slapping Marideen on the shoulder. Marideen, still a little unbalanced, took a step forward before catching herself. Berret went to offer her another hand, but she shook her head quickly.

“Berret!” Maximil exclaimed, a wide smile growing on his face.

Before Berret could say anything, Maximil embraced him in a hug, attempted unsuccessfully to pull him off his feet. Berret wheezed a laugh as Maximil released him.

“Well, it seems like they were feeding you okay in prison, how was the vacation for you?” Maximil chided him.

“Oh, fine, fine. The room service was a bit awful though,” Berret retorted.

“And what of this?” Markus interrupted, having walked over to the man in the middle of the room attached to all the cables and machines.

“Him? She pulled him out of that weird coffin that we saw when we got here,” Maximil nodded to the body of the man while patting Berret on the back.

Marideen walked over to the body in the center of the room while Markus turned to the remaining prisoners.

“Alright, ladies, gentleman, let it be known that you were rescued by the Lancers. You were taken as prisoners unjustly by a corrupt government that must be stopped. They domineer and demand, while we, the people, suffer and have no voice. You are in a position to really make a difference. Some of you have money, others, power. Use your influence and help work to bring about a new regime!” Markus began speaking.

“To your left through this hole, you will find weapons. We will not all stay together; you need not align yourself with a Lancer today. Get out of here, make it to an escape pod, and leave. If you so choose to join our cause, you will be contacted. If you want to live the rest of your life on the run and in fear that your new colony will be the next one taken by the wrongful persecutions of the Taerrans, so be it. I leave the choice of the future up to you, but remember it was the Lancers who gave you that future.”

Two of the freed prisoners grumbled at the end of the speech, but after Markus turned and walked back to the rest of the group, now assembled around the body of the man, they began reluctantly leaving through the hole Markus had indicated. Not a single one decided to stay behind. It looked like none of them would join the Lancers today. Marideen didn’t blame them. To live a life as a renegade and rebel appealed to few who had other choices. Most of them likely would have been out of captivity anyway by the end of the week by some backroom deal. The Lancers had done them no favors.

Marideen turned away as the last man left through the exit she had carved with explosive gel and glanced at the body Markus was examining. She had seen the dead before, and he had too much color to be dead. The color seemed to be steadily returning as whatever machine the woman had him hooked up to worked. Child of time, she had called the young man. Practically a boy really, although in reality he was probably a few years older than she. She might have considered him handsome, had he not seem to have been resurrected from the dead.

He had features that tickled the back of her memory. He had short light brown hair. It was very messy and disorderly. His face was well set with a strong jaw line. His nose fit well on his face, although she always liked a stronger nose. She pulled the air mask off his face. Danelle grunted and Marideen looked up, her examination quickly stopped. A blush overcame her cheeks as she glanced away from Danelle’s mischievous grin.

“I think she wants to keep him,” Berret muttered over to Maximil with a half-smile on his face.

Marideen responded with an elbow to Maximil’s ribs, which quickly turned his laugh into a grunt. He looked at her, a feigned look of hurt on his face as she raised an eyebrow at him. Despite her worst glare, a smile started to grow at the edge of his mouth too.  Marideen fought the urge to shout in frustration.

“As a matter of fact, I think we should take him,” she finally responded nonchalantly.

The smile on Berret’s face was wiped off in a look of surprise. She found it quite satisfactory, actually.

“Well, think about it! She said it was some kind of relic that will change everything. We don’t know what it, or he is…”Marideen began

“Exactly, so we should just leave it as it is,” Markus finished.

Marideen gave him a dirty look before she continued, “As I was saying, we don’t know if this is some kind of genetic engineering marvel, some bioweapon, or something else. So why do we want to let this stay in the hands of Taerrens?”

“So we destroy it. Just light some fuel, start a fire, and burn the thing,” Danelle responded, but Marideen was already shaking her head.

“Setting a sustained fire on a space station is near impossible. And even if we could get one started and going long enough to destroy the body, and even if we could manage to avoid notifying every guard about the fact that we are still here, we would still be destroying someone that we could use to our advantage.”

“Bioweapons aren’t exactly the Lancer’s style,” Maximil spoke up.

“No… but what if this he holds a cure to some disease? What if he is a clone as part of some cloning technology?”

“That’s all just conjecture, we don’t know what it is!” Markus growled.

“Exactly, so we take him now to see if we can get someone to figure it out later.” Marideen explained.

Her four companions continued to look suspiciously at her. Eventually she sighed and began removing needle after needle from the body.

“I’m taking this relic one way or another, so you can either help or you can go,” Marideen grumbled at last.

“Well I am sticking with you,” Danelle said, beginning to help.

Markus shook his head with irritation. “This is the stupidest thing we could be doing right now. Every guard in the station is likely looking for us and you want to waste time dealing with some… some… thing!”

Markus gave Maximil and Berret a look. The glanced at each other before shrugging and joining in. Markus said nothing more but continued to scowl at them as they finished pulling the body away from the rest of the machine. Eventually, they finished separating him and began wrapping the body in sheets.

“Think we can get this gurney through that hole?” Marideen asked Maximil.

After a second, he shook his head. Then, as if an idea popped in his head, he  gave Markus a look. Berret, Marideen, and Danelle turned to him as well, with a hopeful expression on their faces. His scowl deepened. After a few more moments of staring at each of the four of them, he finally threw his hands up, opening up his kit and moved to try to open the hole larger.

Marideen could hear Markus mumble under his breath. Most of his words were inaudible but she distinctly heard “don’t have time for this,” mentioned repeatedly as he worked. He relit the torch and began cutting the edges, a little bit at a time. Each pass seemed to make the hole a centimeter or two wider.

As Markus worked, Maximil and Berret ripped the legs off of the gurney and carried it over. Markus finished and moved aside, putting his tools away as he still grumbled to himself. The hole was wide enough for them to put the gurney through now. Maximil stepped through, pushing the containers covering the hole out of his way.

After picking up the gurney with his arms shoved uncomfortably through the hole, they lined up the gurney. It seemed to slide right through with ease after being properly aligned in the hole. Berret helped Maximil place the gurney on the floor before working his way through the hole as well. Markus came through next, followed by Danelle.

Marideen went through last, trying to replicate what Markus had originally done by pulling a nearby container to cover up the hole. When the job was done to her satisfaction she looked up to see the two men balancing the gurney on the small cart they had initially used for fake dinner transport.

Berret shrugged as she raised an eyebrow at the tipping gurney that only remained upright by the two men’s balancing. Markus took a look at the sight, muttered under his breath, and eventually sighed, walking over and helping the two men balance the unstable gurney.

“This is going to be a hell of a sight,” Berret sighed as overlooked the situation. “I think our one chance of getting out of the place alive is that we look too ridiculous for the guards to believe we are escaping revolutionaries.”

Maximil grunted in an agreement while Markus glowered. Marideen made her way to the door, glancing out into the hallway. The coast seemed clear, so she ushered the men to start pushing. At first the gurney tilted off balance as the men began pushing, but after a few seconds of rebalancing between the three of them they finally got it to stay horizontal on the cart.

“I hope Kate and Beiromon will be alright,” Danelle whispered to herself.

“They will be,” Maximil reassured her, “I trust no one more than Beiromon to get her out of any tight situation.”

“And who says Beiromon won’t be the one who needs saving?” Danelle retorted.

Maximil blinked and glanced over at Danelle, “Well, I…”

“I’m betting,” Marideen piped in, “that Beiromon breaks an ankle or twists a nail and Kate has to carry his sorry butt to an escape pod.”

Maximil chuckled with the girls a bit, “You know, I wouldn’t be too surprised; Beiromon told me he has a bit of a crush on our little pyromaniac. I could see him arranging a whole nurse-patient scenario for his benefit.”

“Really?” Danelle asked, “I didn’t think she was his type.”

The gurney suddenly twisted. Markus lunged to grab the side before it tilted over but missed. The gurney spilled to its side and the body rolled stopping against the side of the wall. Then the unthinkable happened, the body moved. His hand came up and grabbed to the side of the wall he was pressed against. His head looked up as he stared at the five of them. His eyes were wide with fright.

Maximal and Berret already had their weapons trained directly at his midsection.

“Easy now,” Markus said, putting his hands out in both directions, one towards the two Lancers with guns, one towards the recently awakened boy. “Look, we are here to save you.”

The boy stared at him blankly. He then opened his mouth and spoke a few words. Marideen didn’t have a clue what he had just said, but he sounded angry. The five of them stared right back at him. He repeated the words again, his voice taking on an edge of panic. After a second, the strange boy looked to his side, and paused for a second. With a thought, he straightened his back and pointed to himself.

“Darian,” he pronounced slowly and clearly.

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