-|- Galae Facilities, I'Rak Prime -|-
Just months ago, when errie'Arrain Lhaetan tr'Valkar had graduated from the Tal'Diann training regimen, and had received his assignment to I'Rak Prime, he had never once thought his duties would lead him to where his actions had currently placed him.
Environment conduits, he had learned, were very dirty.
Every inch of his usually pristine uniform had been covered with dirt and grime and dust as he had crawled from section to section, avoiding patrols he knew would be looking for him. The small children crawling behind him were no better off, their clothes as filthy as his, though the sorrowful looks on their face made their appearance that much more pitiful.
Having absolutely no experience with children tr'Valkar was able to help them, though they definitely had his pity. But instead of pandering to those emotions, he focused himself on one goal, and one alone: getting them safely off of this station and returning them to t'Rehu. The only thing he had so far accomplished to that end was shutting off the internal sensor units, rendering their movements through the conduits all but undetectable.
The Romulan crew, however, had absolutely no way of knowing that was where the fugitives were. For all they knew, the killer of a Gai'Shian (whom surely had been located by now) was walking among them through the corridors, or could have been hiding in an empty set of living quarters, or stowed away on board a shuttlecraft on the flight deck. It would take great effort to locate them.
But the murder of two more, and the sound of disruptor fire could not have been missed. Not to mentioned the missing children.
Yes, tr'Valkar could not deny that they were being hunted.
The young man held up a hand and motioned for the children to stop as they neared a grate opening up onto a corridor. "Wait here," he whispered in Rihannsu. "I will return shortly."
Edging closer to the conduit's exit, he peered through and listened intently for several moments. There were two options for escape in this situation. They could attempt to gain access to a communications array and call for help (with Charon likely being the only one who could respond), or they could make their way to the docking bays and steal a vessel (with the station's defenses able to quickly destroy them).
The best option was likely the second, for if they could gain access to a small vessel they could attempt to send out a signal from there, accomplishing both goals with one swift stroke. It would also be the most dangerous, as there were always guards posted in the docking bays, and the station had a considerable weapons array.
The best thing would be to shut down internal communications, but that would take more training than he had. It was a lucky break that had allowed him to disable the sensors, and he had been in such a hurry to take the children and run that he had not thought to do much else while he was there. Going back, however, was not an option. Forward was their only choice, no matter which direction he decided to take them.
Finally, after watching for a minute or so, Lhaetan reached up and pushed on the latched holding the panel in place, and slowly pushed it to the side. Sticking his head out into the corridor, his blade in hand, the young man glanced up and down the corridor to either side.
The next environmental conduit access was just over fifty meters to the left, going 'outwards' towards the station's exterior, also in the direction of the docking bays. If he could get his hands on a Lanora-class courier, they just might be able to make their escape. It was small enough he could control on his own, and it was equipped with a cloak, and fast enough to run like hell.
Turning back he motioned for the children to follow him and, as soon as they were out of the first conduit, he started down the corridor towards the next with them safely in tow.
Immediately he pulled off the cover for the next one and ushered the children inside, following behind them and pulling the hatch closed.
Their survival was going to be difficult to maintain. If caught, there was absolutely no doubt in his mind that Lhaetan would be killed; probably on sight. The children stood a better chance at survival, of course, as their deaths would bring the wrath of the Elements down upon tr'Sahen and his minions. But they would kill Lhaetan and use him to maintain their power. 'This is what happens when you defy us,' they would say.
So there was only one choice.
Failure was not an option.
-|- To Be Continued… -|-
errie'Arrain Lhaetan tr'Valkar