Destiny's Edge

by Jason Finigan

Copyright © 2010 -  

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

This chapter, and all following chapters, are the original 1st draft chapters from Destiny's Edge. The places, names, and events contained within these chapters are somewhat different than those found in the finished novel.

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Chapter 16

'You okay, Jev?' Kiyel asked.

The two of them were at that moment propped up against the side of the cave, staying close to one another, and trying to keep warm. The air was much cooler up in the mountains than it was down in the valley, and despite the extra hair that Jev now had thanks to the change, the bitter cool in the air still made him shiver. Kiyel had found one of their blankets, and had sat down with Jev, holding him close and making sure Jev was properly covered.

'You'd think with all this extra hair, I wouldn't feel the cold as much,' Jev replied, huddling in as close to Kiyel as he could.

'You're still part human, my love. Give yourself some time to get used to things,' Kiyel told him.

'I'm sure it wouldn't be as bad if I was doing something other than laying here,' Jev said.

'Does that mean you don't like laying here with me?' Kiyel sent, mischievously.

'Of course not, silly,' Jev replied, laughing slightly at Kiyel's comment. 'I just wish there was something I could be doing right now.'

'We did our part, love. Now it's time for the rest of the crew to do theirs.'

'It was kind of cool how my brother decided to join the Captain's crew,' Jev sent, watching his brother work with Janice who was trying to replace the missing power leads. Jev could still hear Captain Harris' voice when he learned of another member of his team defecting to join Kel's crew. Jev could not believe that the man who at first accepted Kel's crew, and offered his assistance, was suddenly a whole different person. It was as if the very thought of confronting the T'Kri face to face terrified him. But as he scanned the Captain's mind, he saw the Captain for who he really was; a coward. It was no wonder why the rebels never seemed to make much headway in ridding Haven of the T'Kri forces. What little they had achieved wasn't due to the Captain's leadership, but rather by his lieutenants' actions out in the field. For the most part, Captain Johnathan Harris preferred to lead from the safety of his home base, and let those who serve under him to do the dangerous work. To Jev, he seemed more like a politician than a soldier.

No one else who had accompanied Captain Harris defected however, climbing aboard their stolen T'Kri shuttle, and taking off, leaving Captain Kel and the rest of his crew to face a possible confrontation with the T'Kri alone. Jev was only thankful that Captain Harris had at least agreed to give Kel some of their weapons. He had a feeling that they'd need it, and soon.

'Was there any doubt in your mind that your brother would want to stay with you, now that he knows that you are alive?' Kiyel asked.

'He left before,' Jev answered simply. Kiyel could not help but notice the sadness that had begun to grow in his Laij's mind.

'Jev, if there is one thing I have learned in my life, it is that sometimes things have to happen as they were meant to. I believe it was fate that took your brother away from you, but I also think that you were meant to find each other again. Maybe his being away made it possible for us to meet and fall in love.'

'I never really looked at it that way,' Jev sent.

'There are forces in this world that we as mortal creatures were never meant to comprehend. This is just one of those things.' Kiyel told him through their link.

'How'd you get to be so smart, Kiyel?' Jev asked, turning his head to look at Kiyel.

'Many hours of studying, my love,' Kiyel replied. Jev didn't say anything after that, instead, he leaned over and brought his lips to Kiyel's, drawing him into a long, passionate kiss.

* * *

"Janice, you have enough wire there to turn yourself into a mummy," Mikkel kidded her, watching as she attempted to untangle the mess she found herself in.

"Stuff it, Mikkel," she hissed at him, not for a second allowing her concentration to waver in the slightest. "If I don't get these wires sorted out, we'll never get the power supply fixed in time."

"Yes we will. Just cut the length we need. I can't keep sitting here like this all day you know. My legs are falling asleep," Mikkel complained.

"Hey, you were the one who wanted to help," she reminded him.

"I know, I know. Just didn't think it'd take this long is all," Mikkel replied.

"Well, it would take less time if you would stop complaining, and lend me a hand."

"Janice, I know next to nothing about engineering," Mikkel admitted.

"Then why agree to help me?" She asked, finally looking up to look at Mikkel.

"Well... um..." Mikkel stuttered, suddenly at a loss for words.

"Oh please," Janice said, rolling her eyes at him. "It's as obvious as the ears on your brother's head. Why don't you just tell me."

"I don't know what you mean?" Mikkel said, suddenly taken aback by her.

"Everyone sees it, Mikkel. You like me. You've always liked me," she said, laughing slightly at Mikkel's shocked expression.

"Yeah, I mean... um... what do you mean, 'everyone' sees it? Who?" Mikkel asked.

"You know, I'm beginning to wonder if Jev really is your brother," she said, smiling at him. "Mikkel, how many times did you get me coffee, or just show up at the door to my quarters for no reason at all? You've been following me around like a lost puppy."

"Okay... yeah. I do like you. There. I said it. Are you happy?" Mikkel said, resigned to the fact that she knew more about him than he thought she did.

"Now that wasn't so hard, was it?"

"No, but come on, Janice. We're in the middle of a war, and honestly I didn't think you were interested in me. So I never said anything," Mikkel admitted.

"Well I am, and I've been waiting for like forever for you to tell me," she said.

"You mean..."

"Yes, I like you too. Even as dense as you are some times."

Mikkel just looked at her awkwardly for a second, before deciding that he'd waited long enough, and leaned forward, planting a small kiss on her lips. She just looked at him with a shocked expression on her face, the wires in her hands now completely forgotten as she raised one hand up to touch with her fingers where Mikkel had kissed her.

"Um... sorry," Mikkel said apologetically, thinking that he'd made a mistake in kissing her the way he did.

"Oh for crying out loud," she said, and pulled him back to her, planting a long and passionate kiss on his lips. She kissed him long and hard, until both had to stop from lack of air.

"Wow...." Mikkel said, his face flushed, and his heart racing in his chest. She laughed at the look on his face, which to her reminded her of a young teenager who found love for the first time.

"Shall we get back to work then?" she asked.

"Huh? Oh, yeah. Of course," Mikkel said, shaking his head to clear away the euphoria he was feeling.

"When we're done here, we need to talk," she told him.

"Yeah. Oh God, what's my brother going to think?" Mikkel suddenly asked, looking over where Jev and Kiyel were sitting together, wrapped up in a blanket.

"Who says they don't already know? They are both telepaths after all," she reminded him.

"Don't remind me," Mikkel said, sighing out loud. He then got back to work, helping Janice untangle the wires.

* * *

Jev couldn't help but laugh. Even though he never intended to, he did manage to pick up on the conversation his brother and Janice were having.

'What's so funny, love?' Kiyel asked.

'My brother,' Jev replied.

'You mean him falling in love?'

'No, finally accepting that he's in love. They're perfect for each other I think,' Jev sent.

'It's nice to know that he has found someone special for himself.'

'Yeah. Now if we could only get the Captain and Tiela together,' Jev sent.

'You little matchmaker you,' Kiyel sent, chuckling out loud.

Together they watched as Janice and Mikkel finally got the last of the wires untangled. Janice immediately set to work on preparing the new connections, while Mikkel handed things to her as she needed them. Occasionally she would stop and explain something to him, after which he'd simply nod his head, and help her with some of the components inside.

Captain Kel was at that moment looking after his first officer, who still required help doing the basic things. It wasn't difficult to see the friendship that those two shared, and how much Kel cared for Oshi, despite Oshi's recent actions. There wasn't a doubt in anyone's mind that Kel would do what he could for his friend. Jev just hoped that there was something anyone could do.

Tiela was working on an inventory of the items inside the probe, some of which she had determined were useless in their present situation. She was growing more and more frustrated by the lack of medical supplies available to her. She still didn't know what to do about Oshi, and there was only so much she could do for Taaj. Despite the fact that he was awake and walking around, she did all she could do to make sure that he didn't exert himself.

Jaffey, as expected, was looking after what weapons they had available to them. The T'Kri could be here at any moment, and without those weapons, they didn't have a chance in hell of leaving the mountains alive. Even with Mikkel guiding them, there were still too many open areas where the T'Kri could shoot them where they stood.

All in all, Jev felt the whole situation sucked. And yet, he knew that no matter what happened to them, they had to get that probe working again. The Cetani was the only hope Haven had of getting rid of the T'Kri.

"We're running out of time," Kel said, approaching Jev and Kiyel.

"Mikkel and Janice are working as fast as they can to get it up and running, Captain," Jev told him. "Janice thinks that they should have power to the probe restored within the hour."

"Why'd she report to you?" Kel asked, looking over at the two humans working on the insides of the probe.

"She didn't, Captain," Kiyel answered, smiling at the Captain knowingly.

"Ah," Kel said, realizing how they knew about the humans' progress. "Taaj tells me that he should be able to get the transmitters working on the probe. It's about the only thing that Tiela will let him do. At least all he'll need to do is sit down in front of a console to do it. Providing that this cave does not block the signal, he shouldn't have any difficulties aiming the probe's transmitter to the Cetani's location."

"Did he mention how long it would take to align transmitter?"

"No, but I'm doubting it will take long since the scan will be performed by the computers. All Taaj has to do is enter in the prefix code for the Cetani so the computer knows what do look for," Kel replied.

"Let's hope it doesn't take too long, Captain. I don't think the T'Kri are going to sit around and wait for us to send the signal," Jev said.

"Don't worry, lad. Even if they get here before we've sent the signal, we'll still be able to hold them off. Jaffey has assured me that the weapons we have, as well as the ones provided by the rebels should be sufficient to defend ourselves against attack by either ground or air forces."

"Captain, we're done," Mikkel announced, getting up off the ground and helping Janice up as well.

"Good work, Mikkel. Janice, are all the connection secure?" Kel asked.

"As secure as they're going to be, Captain. We've jerry rigged the wires to the power supply as best we could. It should hold long enough to send the signal out," Janice answered.

"Good work you two. Get some rest," Kel said. "Jaffey!" Kel called out which was loud enough for Jaffey to hear and promptly join them by the probe.

"Yes, Captain?" Jaffey said.

"Get the probe's systems online, and help Taaj align the transmitter. I want the signal sent to the Cetani before the T'Kri get here.

"Aye, Captain," Jaffey said, and rushed over to where Taaj was sitting. As quickly as he could, he helped Taaj to the probe and together the two of them disappeared inside.

"Captain, Jev and I have been scanning for the T'Kri, but so far we haven't sesnsed them nearby," Kiyel told him.

"Keep an ear out, Kiyel, or whatever it is you use. I want to know the instant you detect the faintest sign of the T'Kri," Kel ordered.

"Aye, Sir," Kiyel said. Together Jev and Kiyel moved away from the cave and the rest of the crew.

"Why are we coming here, Babe?" Jev asked Kiyel.

"This way we'll have a better chance of concentrating on the T'Kris' presence. Away from the distractions of the other crew."

"I guess, but they weren't really distracting me too much," Jev replied.

'I know, Jev. But how else was I to get you all to myself?' Kiyel asked. Jev could feel Kiyel's playful mood, and it made him blush.

'Behave, Kiyel. Plenty of time for that later,' Jev sent, laughing out loud. 'I just hope we'll get that opportunity to spend time together alone. I would like that very much, Kiyel.'

'As would I, my Laij,' Kiyel sent in return.

It was at that moment that Jev sensed something at the edge of his mind. Kiyel picked it up too, and together they stretched out their senses, trying to find whatever it was that was out there.

'Aw, shit!' Jev exclaimed, which was echoed by Kiyel.

"Captain!" Kiyel yelled out. "We're going to have company!"

"What kind, Kiyel? T'Kri?" Kel yelled back.

"Aye, Sir. And their almost within range!"

"How long, Kiyel?" Kel asked.

"Any minute now, Sir," Kiyel answered after looking for the T'Kri with his mind.

"Do you know how many ships?" Jaffey asked.

"Four. Each with a five man crew. One pilot, and four ground troops,"Jev answered.

"Damn, that makes twemty of them, and they have shipboard weapons too no doubt," Jaffey cursed.

Kel stepped into the probe. "How's it coming, Taaj?" he asked, watching as Taaj's hand flew over the console.

"We need at least another fifteen minutes, Captain. The computer is running the search now," Taaj replied.

"Damn," Kel said, exiting the probe, Jaffey following close behind him. "Jaffey. A weapon for everyone. Looks like we're going to have to fight the T'Kri until Taaj can get the transmitter to send out the signal."

In the several seconds it took Jaffey to hand each of us a weapon, both Jev and Kiyel sensed that the first two T'Kri scout ships had already landed, taking a position just below the ledge where the probe was.

"Captain, they've landed already. Four ground troops are now making their way towards us along the path we took to get here. The other two ships are preparing to land as well, but they're on the other side of this peak," Kiyel told Kel.

"Alright, Jaffey, I want two of you taking defensive positions by the path. If the T'Kri are going to come up here, they're going to have to come through there one at a time. That'll make things easier. Kiyel, what about those other two ships?"

"Captain, they've just landed on the other side," Jev said, answering for Kiyel. "The ground troops are out, and making their way towards us. They're hoping to corner us."

"What about the ships themselves?" Kel asked.

"The two ships below us are remaining on the ground, but the other two have taken off again, and are following the troops towards us," Jev said.

"Excellent," Kel said, which surprised both Jev and Kiyel. Seeing their concerned looks, he continued. "With the ships below us still on the ground, it gives us the perfect opportunity to capture one and fly ourselves out of here. Once Taaj has completed sending the transmission, we need to get to them."

"Captain, we're going to be really pressed for time. The ground troops from the first two ships should be here in a few minutes, and the other troops will be here shortly after that," Kiyel told him.

"I'm aware of that, Kiyel. But it's the best chance we have. I need the two of you here by the probe. Let me know when Taaj has finished sending the signal to Cetani, then hurry over so we can get out of here," Kel ordered.

"Aye, Captain," Kiyel said, and took up a position by the probe with Jev. Kel, rushed over to where Jaffey and Tiela were, stopping briefly to give some instructions to Mikkel and Janice before taking a position beside Jaffey.

"Do we have a chance, Babe?" Jev asked.

"If the Captain has anything to say about it, definitely," Kiyel answered.

"I hope so," Jev said, his voice thick with fear.

'It will be okay, Jev. We are together. Do not forget that we also have our telepathy, and the fact that the T'Kri are petrified of us for some reason,' Kiyel reassured him.

'I won't let you down,' Jev promised.

'No, we won't let the Captain down,' Kiyel replied, smiling at Jev.

Their conversation was cut short by the sounds of weapons fire. Flashes of red energy could be seen, with some striking close to the probe forcing Kiyel and Jev to take cover from the loose debris.

"Taaj, how's it going in there?" Jev called out to the opening of the probe.

"Almost got it," Taaj's voice answered back from within.

"I hope he gets it done in time, Kiyel. Those troops from the other two shuttles are almost here."

"I can sense them too, but it looks like the Captain and Jaffey have taken out a few of the T'Kri coming from the path," Kiyel said. "Only five more to go, and we can get to those shuttles."

"Alright, got it. The signal's been sent, and I've included an update of our situation as well," Taaj said, exiting the probe."

"Right, let's get it sealed, and get out of here," Kiyel said, and closed up the hatch, using his own weapon to weld the door shut.

"How's the Cetani going to locate us once we leave?" Jev asked, hurrying with Kiyel and Taaj towards the others.

"I took a mini-transmitter from the probe. It should send out a homing beacon that only the Cetani will be able to pick up," Taaj answered, holding out a small black rectangular box.

Jev had to duck as a flash of red almost struck him in the side of his head. He took cover behind some rocks beside Tiela, who was busy firing her own weapon back at the approaching T'Kri.

"Never thought I'd see the day when I was forced to take a life," she grumbled as she fired off another shot.

"You haven't yet, Tiela," Kiyel told her. "Get behind me and let me see if I can help the Captain and Jaffey clear us a path.

"They're all yours, Kiyel," she said, relief evident in her voice.

'Jev, can you see them?' Kiyel sent.

'Yes. There are three more coming up on the right hand side. Two are behind a large boulder on the left,' Jev answered. 'I'm going to try something,' Jev sent, suddenly getting an idea.

'Make it quick, Jev. By the sounds of it, I'd say the Captain's weapon is almost out of energy,' Kiyel sent.

'Kiyel, link with me. I'm going to try and freeze the T'Kri,' Jev sent. He felt Kiyel's energy merge with his own, giving him the boost he needed. Reaching out with his mind, he sought out the five T'Kri blocking the path, and upon finding each one, attempted to force them to stand where they were. It took a lot of effort, and Jev at first thought it was hopeless, until one by one he felt the T'Kri freeze in their tracks, unable to move. The red flashing coming from the path ceased, and only the weapons fire from the Captain and Jaffey could be seen.

"Tiela, I suggest you tell the Captain to move. We can't hold the T'Kri for very long," Kiyel told her. She looked at Kiyel with amazement for a second, before rushing over to the Captain to pass along Kiyel's message. Looking back at Mikkel and Janice, who were busy packing up all the equipment, he sent a brief thought to Mikkel, who after a moment's hesitation made his way to them.

"Kiyel, was that you calling for me?" Mikkel asked.

"Yes, I need you to help Jev as soon as he finishes what he's doing. He's going to be very week and we need to move quickly," Kiyel said.

"What's he doing?" Mikkel asked, looking at his brother.

"Holding the T'Kri in place so the Captain and Jaffey can take care of them quickly," Kiyel answered.

"He can do that?" Mikkel asked, astonishment showing on his face.

"Yes, but it is a strain," Kiyel said.

"Don't worry, Kiyel. I've got him," Mikkel said, and moved over to Jev's side. Together they watched as the Captain and Jaffey carefully made their way down the path, brief weapons fire could once more be heard and then the Captain and Jaffey returned. Jev almost collapsed when they did, but Mikkel was there to steady him, holding him up so he didn't fall over.

"I've got you, Jev," Mikkel said.

"Thanks, Mikkel. So tired," Jev replied weakly.

"Jev, Kiyel, I don't know how the two of you did it, but the last of the T'Kri troops have been taken care of. We need to get out of here fast," Kel said, coming over to them. "Is Jev alright?" Kel asked, noticing the weakened state that Jev was in.

"He'll be fine, Captain. But he'll need to rest. Freezing those T'Kri soldiers took a lot out of him, even with me helping," Kiyel told him.

"I'm okay, Captain," Jev said.

"I can help him to the shuttle, Captain," Mikkel said.

"Very well. Kiyel. You'll need to assist Janice with the equipment. Let's move, People," Kel ordered. Together, they made their way down the path. Jaffey on point, Kel following behind guiding Oshi, Mikkel helping Jev, Kiyel walking behind Jev, watching ever so closely to make sure his love was okay; Janice behind Kiyel, with Taaj and Tiela bringing up the rear. Tiela still had her weapon, though Kiyel could see that she was definitely not happy about having to use it.

Jaffey stopped suddenly, and motioned for everyone to take cover. Kel crept up to him slowly, staying as low as he could.

"What do you see, Jaffey?" Kel asked.

"Two shuttle pilots, armed and standing guard," Jaffey said.

"Any problems?" Kel asked.

"One. One of them is using some sort of communicator," Jaffey answered.

"So they could be trying to get a status report from the troops we took care of back there," Kel said.

"I'd say that's a good possibility, Captain. They could also be in communication with the other two shuttles."

"What do you suggest?" Kel asked.

"That we wait until he's finished with his communicator, then we take them out," Jaffey replied.

"Single shot to targets simultaniously?" Kel suggested.

"Agreed," Jaffey answered, and took up a position which gave him the best shot without being seen. Kel did the same, leaving Oshi with Kiyel. As soon as the T'Kri who was talking to someone on his communicator put it down, two streaks of red shot out from two separate directions, both hitting their targets dead center. Kiyel watched as the two T'Kri pilots fell to the ground leaving a wide open path to the ships.

"Move it people. Get into the ship," Kel ordered, pointing to the nearest ship. Walking onto to the other ship, he activated his weapon's self-destruct mechanism and tossed it into the pilot's compartment before running back out to join the rest of his crew. "Jaffey, get us airborne," Kel ordered as he climbed aboard.

"Aye, Captain," Jaffey answered, and closed the entry hatch once he was certain that everyone was safely aboard. Kel joined Jaffey in the pilot's compartment, and sat down in the other chair.

"I sure hope you know how to fly one of these things," Kel said.

"Oh, sure. I fly T'Kri scout class vessels all the time," Jaffey said sarcastically.

"Just get us in the air, Jaffey," Kel said.

"Aye, Sir. Hold on," Jaffey replied, and punched a couple buttons on the panel in front of him. Throughout the ship everyone could hear the hum of the engines as they came online, and felt the ship lift off from the surface. The controls were fairly simple to understand, once he understood where the throttle control, and anti-grav controls were located. The steering yoke was pretty simple enough to figure out, and in short order, was able to fly the ship away from the mountainside.

"Not bad for a rookie," Kel said, punching Jaffey lightly on his shoulder.

"Don't get yourself too excited, Sir. If these readings are correct, we have two scout ships hot on our tail," Jaffey said, looking at the display which was being projected on the forward window.

"Can you evade them?"

"Trying, Captain," Jaffey said, hitting a few more buttons which caused the ship to reduce in speed and drop dramatically.

"Damn it, Jaffey. Warn me before you try something like that," Kel said, holding onto his seat so tightly, he left claw marks on the surface of the arm rests.

"Sorry, Sir. Didn't know I was going to do it until I did," Jaffey said. Kel watched as the two ships that were following them shot ahead, completely unprepared for Jaffey's aggressive maneuvers.

"Does this thing have a weapons console?" Kel asked as Jaffey brought the ship back up to speed and began to follow the two other scout ships.

"Yes, the panel in front of you. I think," Jaffey said.

"You think?" Kel inquired.

"Well I didn't exactly have much time to study its controls before we lifted off," Jaffey explained.

"Alright, alright. Let's see what this does." Kel pressed a button on his panel, and immediately a targeting display was projected on the window. Using the stick in front of him, he saw that it controlled the weapon system's targeting scanners. So very much unlike the targeting scanners of Caitaran vessels which are primarily computer controlled. "Stay with the one on the left, Jaffey," Kel told him.

"Aye, Sir," Jaffey responded and maneuvered the ship up behind the T'Kri. An audible tone could be heard from Kel's panel, and Kel pressed the trigger button on the stick. A loud thump could be heard followed by two bright red flashes streaking away from the ship towards the T'Kri. At the last possible second, the T'Kri pilot veered off, barely escaping the twin lances of energy.

"Stay with him, Jaffey," Kel muttered through clenched teeth, his heart racing, and his blood pumping. He could feel his hunter instincts taking over, and all he could see was the enemy ship right in front of him. Taking aim once more, he waited until the computer sounded a lock, and then fired. This time the T'Kri pilot wasn't fast enough as one of Kel's shots struck the T'Kri ship on the right drive nacelle. It practically exploded away from the T'Kri ship, thick black smoke coming from it as it hurtled down towards the rocky ground. Seconds later the ship exploded on impact, leaving a large fire burning on the ground below.

"Captain, the other ship is moving in behind us," Jaffey warned him.

"I hope you have some more fancy tricks up your sleeve, Jaffey," Kel told him.

"Just one," Jaffey told him, before activating the rear thrusters which propelled the ship skyward at an alarming speed.

"Gods!" Kel exclaimed, holding onto his seat tightly. Just as Kel thought he saw stars and the upper atmosphere of the planet, Jaffey spun the ship around so it's nose was facing the planet below, and allowed the ship to free fall. "You trying to kill us, Jaffey?" Kel said, feeling as though he had left his stomach in orbit.

"Hang on, everyone," Jaffey called back. "We're coming in hot."

"You don't say," Kel said, looking out the windows to see them beginning to turn red from heat of atmospheric re-entry. In the seconds it took to fall, Jaffey had somehow managed to reaquire the other ship and fall in behind it.

"Last chance, Sir," Jaffey said. "I think I put too much stress on this ship. I'm going to have to put it down somewhere."

"Just give me one more shot," Kel said, lining up his targeting scanners. Once he got the tone he wanted, he pressed the trigger, the ship's weapons firing once more, and both lances hitting the ship in front of them, causing it to explode in midair.

"Yes!" Jaffey shouted as the ship flew past the falling debris.

"Find us a place to set down, Jaffey. I don't want the T'Kri to be able to locate us easily."

"Fine, Sir. I have to put her down anyways. The engines have pretty much had it. Damn T'Kri can't even build a good ship."

"She did the job, now it's time we find some place to lay low until the Cetani gets here," Kel said.

"Alright, hang on. This is going to get a little bumpy," Jaffey said as he attempted to pilot the ship towards an open field below. He tried the reversing thrusters to try and slow them down, which seemed to work, but only slightly. As the ship came down, Kel saw the tree line of a forest rapidly approaching.

"Jaffey, now would be a good time," Kel said, the sense of urgency evident in his voice.

"Hang on!" Jaffey yelled one last time, before he felt the bottom of the hull hit the ground.

* * *

Jev woke up in a jumble of cables and conduits. He could feel a wetness running down his forehead and he reached up only to jerk his hand back in pain, seeing blood on his fingers. 'Damn, what the hell happened?' Jev thought. He felt weak still, and he was dizzy, a combination of what he had to do with the T'Kri, and the head injury he had obviously sustained in the crash.

A body was laying on top of him, and he looked over to see Kiyel unconscious. Suddenly alert, he reached out for their link, relieved to feel it still present, but he couldn't feel Kiyel. A large gash was on Kiyel's arm, which was bleeding profusely. Ripping off his sleeve, Jev wrapped it around Kiyel's wound, stopping the bleeding. He felt for Kiyel's pulse, and felt that it was fast, but steady.

Looking around he, he saw that everyone was strewn about the compartment. Some underneath conduits and wiring, others sprawled out over the benches. He tried to get up, and nearly fell down, just barely able to grab a hold of some cabling hanging from the ceiling. His head cleared up enough to let him move slowly forward, where Kel and Jaffey were in the pilot's compartment. Inside he saw Kel and Jaffey, both unconscious and still strapped into their seats. He saw that Kel was slowly beginning to come around, as was Jaffey.

"Captain?" Jev called out.

"Uuuh..." Kel moaned, slowly waking up. "Remind me to never let Jaffey fly again," Kel said groggily.

"Fine, next time you can," Jaffey said softly, rubbing the back of his neck, and wincing slightly.

"How's the rest of the crew, Jev?" Kel asked.

"Kiyel's hurt, but I think he's going to be okay. He was bleeding pretty badly. I just hope he didn't lose too much blood," Jev said in a worried voice.

"He's a strong one, lad. What about the rest?" Kel asked.

"I don't know Captain. Everyone else was unconscious... I need to get back there, Kiyel's waking up," Jev said, before hurrying back to the passenger compartment.

When he got there, Kiyel was sitting up, and looking at the wound on his arm. He then saw Jev coming towards him, and a worried look began to form on his face.

'What happened, Jev?' Kiyel sent.

'We crashed, my love,' Jev replied, moving to sit down beside him. 'I thought I almost lost you,' Jev sent, tears beginning to form in his eyes.

'Shhh, it's all right, my love. I'm not going to leave you,' Kiyel sent back reassuringly.

'Are we ever going to get to be ourselves? Are we ever going to get away from all this?' Jev asked, tears running feely down his face.

'Yes. We will be free soon,' Kiyel answered.

"I need to check on the others," Jev said aloud.

"No, you sit down. I can see you're injured, and I know you're exhausted. You need to rest a bit," Kiyel said,

"I'm fine," Jev said, attempting to stand up before a wave of nausea hit him, forcing him to sit back down.

"Just stay there, love. I'll see about the others," Kiyel said.

"The Captain and Jaffey are okay, I already saw them," Jev replied.

Kiyel got up off his seat, and started to make his way around the compartment. He found Mikkel and Janice, both laying together on the floor. He checked them over and found that they were only unconscious. But he couldn't tell if either of them had any internal injuries. He needed Tiela. Looking around, he finally spotted her underneath a conduit. With his good arm, he carefully lifted off the conduit, and checked her pulse, feeling relieved when he found one strong and steady.

Moving around the compartment he found Oshi, and upon seeing him, almost lost his stomach. A large portion of piping had broken loose from the ceiling, and had fallen onto Oshi's head, peircing the right side of his face and into his skull. There was nothing anyone could do for him now. And he didn't know how the Captain was going to handle the death of his best friend.

Taaj, having been the only crew member to have been strapped in, was sitting up in his seat, his head bent forward onto his chest. Kiyel checked to him over, and satisfied that he was still alive and would be okay, headed over to the front where Kel and Jaffey were slowly making their way into the passenger compartment.

"Report, Kiyel," Kel ordered.

"Captain, Jev, myself, Mikkel, Janice, Tiela and Taaj seem to be okay. Jev I think has a concussion, and I can't tell about the others other than that they're unconscious."

"What about Oshi?" Kel asked.

"Captain..." Kiyel started.

"Where is he, Kiyel?" Kel asked, a look of dread coming over him.

"I'm sorry, Captain. There's nothing we can do," Kiyel said, and moved out of the way so Kel could see the lifeless body of his first officer, and best friend.

"Oh, Gods, No!" Kel screamed, rushing over to Oshi's body. He fell to his knees before Oshi, and pressed his head up against the side of Oshi's face, for the first time crying openly in front of his crew.

Kiyel, Jaffey, and Jev could do nothing but watch. Jev himself was crying, overwhelmed with the sorrow that filled his Captain's heart.

'They were brothers,' Kiyel sent to Jev.

'I know, Kiyel. I could feel it,' Jev answered.

'He hid it well, even from us,' Kiyel said.

Slowly Kel rose back up onto his feet. Looking down at his first officer, his friend, and his brother one last time, saying a silent prayer to the Gods, asking them to accept him into their waiting arms. He then turned to the rest of his crew, wiping away the last of his tears. "We need to get out of here. The T'Kri will have surely noted the location of the crash, and we don't know how long it will take for the Cetani to get here if they received the signal."

"We need to wake the others first, Captain," Kiyel said. "I will check on Tiela." Kiyel went back to Tiela, who he saw was beginning to show signs of coming around. "Easy Tiela," Kiyel told her, helping her to sit up.

"What... what happened? Kiyel?" she asked, looking up at Kiyel.

"We crashed. Most of the crew was knocked unconscious. But we need to get out of here. Mikkel, Janice and Taaj are still out. Jev has a concussion, and is extremely weak," Kiyel told her.

"Help me up," she told him, which he did, holding her steady until she was able to move about on her own. "Where's my pack?" she asked.

"Here it is," Kiyel said, locating it underneath some more tubing and hanging wires. He picked it up and handed it to her, after which she immediately set about examining the remainder of the crew. She gave each of them a stimulant, which quickly allowed Mikkel, Janice, and Taaj to regain consciousness. She checked over Jev, and bandaged up the cut on his head. When she saw Oshi, she shook her head and put everything back in her pack.

"Alright, that'll do for now until we can find some place quiet for me to look at these injuries," she said. "Are we taking him with us?" indicating Oshi's lifeless body.

"No. There isn't time. I have said a prayer for him, and when we leave here, I will destroy the ship, and burn everything in it," Kel answered.

"I understand," Tiela said. "I'm very sorry."

"He's at peace now, that's all I could hope for," Kel said. He picked up one of the remaining weapons, and checked it's power supply. Satisfied that there was enough power in the cell, he activated the weapon's self-destruct mechanism and set it down beside Oshi. "Okay, people. Let's move it," Kel said, leading his crew through the rear hatch which had broken open during the crash.

Together they left the wreckage, and hurried to a safe distance, turning back just as the ship exploded.

"Good bye my friend; my brother," Kel whispered.

To Be Continued ...