I didn’t wait to see Fells leave. I crawled through the conduit leading to engineering.
I climbed down the ladder to deck thirteen, listening for any movement below. The engineering control panel at the bottom of the ladder was for emergency use only. I figured this was definitely an emergency. I reached the bottom of the ladder and crouched, scanning the hallway outside the nook.
Two guards, wearing blue and yellow uniforms, talked at the end of the hall. They both carried weapons that looked far more deadly than phasers.
I pushed the button to release the controls. Air hissed as the panel slid open.
“Did you hear that?” One of the pirates turned, scanning the hall.
I ducked under the panel, scooting as far into its shadow as I could.
The intruder alarm screeched to life.
“Deck eight! They’re after the armory!” The two pirates sprinted for the nearest lift, leaving the hall clear.
I cautiously stood. The nook left me exposed to anyone walking in the hall. I quickly scanned the controls. Not as much help as I had hoped, these only controlled backup power systems. I yanked all the isolinear chips free, stuffing them into my pockets. I had to find a different node, take out the main reactor if I could.
I glanced up and down the hall. Still clear. I headed for main engineering at a run. If I moved fast enough, I could chuck something into the reactor core, pull the iso chips, something that would cripple the ship.
Faint thuds echoed through the ship. Eight, ten, more thuds followed quickly.
The alarms changed tone.
“Warning, life boats have been launched. Warp drive has been activated. All hands brace for warp speeds.” The main computer’s voice echoed through empty halls.
The floor vibrated as the engine power built.
I swore and ran faster. Wherever Del’Brugado was taking us, it couldn’t be good. If he’d launched lifepods, maybe he’d ditched most of the crew. And maybe they were dead. I couldn’t think about that now.
The door to main engineering slid open. I skidded to a stop. Five pirates leveled weapons at my head. I reversed course and ran madly down the hallway.
Boots pounded behind me. The guards shouted as they gave chase.
“At least you got your diversion,” I muttered as I slammed the controls for the lift.
Not fast enough, I thought. I darted into a cross hall, heading for the maze of the ship’s life support systems.
A shot ricocheted off the bulkhead. I dodged and slipped, skidding on my knees into a door.
One of the pirates grabbed the back of my uniform, dragging me to my feet.
“Not fast enough,” I said as he shook me.
“Who are you?”
“Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster. I don’t know my serial number.”
The pirate smashed me against the wall. “Search her for weapons then lock her in the brig with the others.”
The pirates shoved me through the ship to the brig. They lowered the force fields just long enough to push me inside. I staggered to a stop.
“If it isn’t the troublemaker,” Captain Herring spoke. “Enlisted personnel were supposed to be evacuated.”
“I think I missed the lifepod,” I answered.
Captain Herring sniffed. “You’ve spent more time in here than anyone else. Do you have any ideas how to escape?”
I fingered the isolinear chips still in the front of my uniform. “Maybe.” I noted who was in the brig. LeGrange lay on a bunk, nursing a bloody nose and black eye, but there was no sign of the others I’d sent. “Are they holding anyone else?”
“Major Yancy, main engineer, and three of his crew are in engineering.” The captain’s voice was crisp.
“Then they haven’t caught up with Turner or Vasha yet. We may still have a chance of escape.”
Herring nodded. “Then do what you can, Stevens.”
I pulled an iso chip from my suit. “Anyone here know how to open the force field generator panels?”
Personal Log 1-7: Delphi Protocol