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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Posted on 20 Mar 2019 @ 6:36am by Lieutenant Commander Dutch Mogun & Lieutenant Patrick McEntire

Mission: The Trial
Location: Aldebaran III / Moggs Eye Beach
Timeline: Current

SUMMARY : The group works together to beat the game.


Mac began indicating the nearest alcoves they could hide in if they heard anything coming there way, ignoring the fact that they each seemed to have the bodies of dead or dying children piled like cord wood in them.

“Okay, so first we arm ourselves.” Mac told them all, reaching into one of the alcoves and digging through the bones until he pulled out a relatively long bone, and a length of some sort of stretchy substance, which he laced over each end to form a crude sort of sling shot. “You guys each want to make something like this then gather a few knee caps or whatever else you can find and fit them into it like this….” he demonstrated. “But do not touch the walls and stay away from anything that still has flesh on it. If it’s got flesh, it’s got the blue things and they’ll fuck you up faster than the Gorn will.”

“Well they weren’t going to just up all that gold pressed latinum for nothing,” Mitchell said to Misty. He stepped over to a hole in the wall and looked inside and found a long bone that appeared to have been once been some poor dead kids femur. He pulled it out and smacked it against the ground splintering it in two. He handed the now makeshift dagger to Misty. “Here,” he said before turning back and looking for something for himself. A few alcoves down he found it.

Mac shook his head at him again. Stepping close to him, he told him softly, “Those things have some seriously thick hides. You’d have to have the strength of .. we… Josh, I guess, to do more than poke at it, and I’m not even sure he could do it, to be honest. Maybe if you aimed at it’s eyes. If you really wanted to get that close. But otherwise… “ His head suddenly raised. “Shit,” he hissed, “Everyone hide.” He pushed Lindsey into the alcove with him, gratified to see that VJ had done the same with Sammie and Analyn.

Following everyone else’s lead Mitchell and Misty dove into an alcove together and hid wrapped up together underneath one of the skeletons trying to remain as quiet as they possible could.

Four large reptilian creatures marched dragging the bruised and bloodied bodies of two emaciated looking young boys, one Antillian and one human, between them, hissing and growling between them as if discussing the weather, paying no mind to the children at all.

Mitchell looked from his alcove across the room to where Mac was in his and their eyes met. He nodded at him as if to say, “We should do something.” and began feeling around for a skull or a rock to bash one of these Gorn’s heads open with.

Mac shook his head and held up a hand, mouthing ‘wait’. He waited until they’d passed, the mouthed, ‘watch closely’. Then he stepped out, pulled back the skin on his slingshot, aimed carefully, and let the first bone fly, jamming into what was probably the only place he’d ever managed to successfully kill one with, then ducked back as quickly as he could while the others realized what happened, then turned back toward them.

One roared loudly, as the other two drew the barely conscious boys against them, one arm wrapped around their bodies, the others holding their heads up against them by their chins. They began to tramp forward, bellowing loudly.

Mac looked across at Mitchell and mouthed, ‘see where?” hoping he’d noted where he’d struck the first so that he could duplicate it. He didn’t bother asking VJ or the girls. One look at any of their expressions clearly told him that they hadn’t.

Mitchell nodded having seen the bone shard fly and lodge directly into the spot just where it’s unweildy skull sat atop it’s neck, killing it on the spot. He reached down and grabbed the small bone dagger from Mistys hands and prepared himself for a fight if their spot was discovered. He looked back at Mac with a shrug as if to say, “Now what?”

‘If they pass,’ Mac mouthed, pointing first toward them they moving his hands along as if to indicate them passing by, ‘Do the same.’ he pointed to his weapon, the one he’d told them each to make from the beginning. ‘If not, you and me,’ again he gestured, then mimed aiming high, ‘go for their eyes, then run as fast as you can.’ Which he knew wasn’t going to be very fast at all. Not nearly enough to outrun the Gorn.
“Better idea,” Lindsey whispered to Mac, gesturing for Mitchell’s attention, too. “Don’t fight. Stay hidden. Wait it out.”

One of the Gorn paused, tilting it’s head to one side, then bared it’s teeth in what could only be called a smile in the very loosest of terms. It’s companions, using their nails, slit the throats of their captives, tossing them aside as the prospect of fresh playthings sounded far more appealing than putting away the last.

Mitchell watched as the slave kids slumped to the ground lifeles and shrugged, he nodded to Lindsey agreeing to just let them pass now if possible.

Mac literally face palmed. Gathering up another round of weapons, he looked at Mitchell and mouthed two words. “We’re fucked,” and then readied a volley in case there happened to be a miracle and either the program froze or they were passed undiscovered, though he suspected the former to be more likely than the latter, and knew the former wasn’t likely at all.

The first Gorn sniffed the air, then glanced at the other two, suggesting they do the same. One of the two who’d been holding the boys stepped toward the alcove nearest it, the one where VJ, Sammie and Analyn all cowered.

Mac swore silently, then shifted in his, readying a shot at the one closing in on the three was. He glanced at Mitchell and pointed to Lindsey, and mouthed, “Catch.” He looked back at her and mouthed ‘ready to run’, then got ready to become the distraction. He let go a volley at the one before it looked into the alcove it had closed in on, then began shooting at the others, too, aiming for eyes, of only to force them to defend them, maybe covering them long enough to get Lindsey to Mitchell and their attention away from the other three.

Lindsey ran as fast as she could, which was to say hardly at all in the unbearably high gravity. She was no more than ten steps outside their hiding place when she stepped wrong and a loud SNAP was heard, followed by her terrified and pain filled scream.

“Shitt,” Mitchell said under his breath as he jumped out of the hole he and Misty were hiding in and began moving as fast as he could towards Lindsey.

Mac yelled as loud as he could, still firing at their eyes, though he realized he’d need to do more to keep their attention on him. He glanced to check Mitchell’s progress with Lindsey as the three began moving at what seemed a ridiculously fast pace given the gravity and the terrible toll it was taking on the rest of them.

Mitchell glanced down at Lindsey’s ankle, not only was it broke and busted and bleeding, but there some bone sticking out. “OH SHIT,” he shouted picking her up in his arms. He glanced back as Misty was right behind them. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.” he said and began moving as fast as they could towards the opposite exit from where the Gorn were.

“We are not leaving the game,” Lindsey said through gritted teeth. “Hide me somewhere and keep going.”

“Lindsey, we have to…”Misty began.

“We are NOT leaving the game.” Lindsey reitorated.

“Shhh.” a soft hiss came from above them.

“Sorry but-,” Mitchell began to explain to her why her life was more important than gold pressed latinum before he was interrupted by someone shushing them. He looked up and saw one long, thin, bruised and scratched and very filthy arm, reaching down. Not quite low enough for them to reach just by reaching up. “Awwww what the hell,” Mitchell shook his head as that wasn’t the craziest thing he’d seen today. He lifted Lindsey higher over his shoulders so she could grab the hand, “Well you want to stay,” he said as she looked a bit reluctant to be headed up into the dark pulled up by some strange hand.

Lindsey reached up and grasped the hand, which hauled her up without too much difficulty, then reached down again for the next.

Mitchell pulled Misty tight and gave her a short but passionate kiss, “Up you go darling,” he reached under her arms and hoisted her up, straining at the added weight the extra gravity was adding.

The hand pulled her up, only a bit less quickly than it had the last, then reached down once more. Realizing the problem, the owner of the hand, swung down, knees hooked over a hidden ledge, revealing a terrifyingly thin and fine boned, filthy and blood covered creature with long, dark, hair matted with blood and dirt and all matter of filth, and large pale blue eyes, reaching down for him.

A little bit surprised, but not too much by the clearly abused and beaten slave Mitchell shook his head, “Hold on,” he said and turned back to see Mac getting his butt kicked by the three gorn. Reaching down and picking up the razor sharp bone shard that he had dropped to the ground Mitchell came charging in from behind and shoved the knife into the base of the skull of one of the Gorn killing it instantly. “HA HA,” he shouted, “Take that you crocodile!”

The filthy dark haired creature flew past Mitchell as a rock smacked a second one right at that point beneath the edge of the skull as well, shot from someone up in the new-found hidey hole. The boy used the falling lizard as a springboard, placing it’s hands at the top of the final Gorn’s head and twisting it’s body until landing with his spindly legs wrapped around it’s thick neck. Throwing it’s meager weight, the boy angled his narrow hips, then twisted his body in a sharp jerking motion, jumping down and rolling to the left as the creature fell, it’s head tilted at an unnatural angle from it’s neck. “Come,” it spoke, it’s voice only just above a whisper as it picked Mac up and tossed him over his shoulder. “Get the others. There’s no time.

“Let’s go,” Mitchell helped VJ, Analyn, and Sammie from the alcove they were hiding in.

The three stepped out of the corridor, shell shocked already. They were more than willing to let Mitchell lead, as they couldn’t quite believe what they were watching was really happening.

As he led the way to the hole, the boy seemed to take a small step backward, then approach it at a run, then leaped up, reaching both hands above his head, though one ended up wrapping around Mac as far as it could, securing him as the other grasped the almost invisible lip. A smaller set of hands reached down and pulled Mac up from his shoulders, then the dark haired boy pulled himself up before anchoring his knees over the edge and reaching down for the newcomers.

Mitchell helped VJ lift the two girls up then he kneeled down and motioned for VJ to use his back as a step to reach the hand. “Lets go.” he waved for him to hurry up.

VJ did as Mitchell bade him, allowing the boy, barely more than skin and bones, to draw him up and into the hiding place where the others waited.

Once more, the dark haired boy reached down to take Mitchell’s hands.

Mitchell watched as VJ disappeared up above and turned and looked back as the sounds of footsteps and grunts could be heard just down the hallway. He looked back up and leaped as high as he could grasping at the offered arm and held on tight as he was pulled up, amazed at how easily his nearly 190 pound body was lifted without any effort at all.

The group sat in what appeared to be a crawlspace that moved off in four different directions. It was about four feet high, and perhaps as wide at the base, the gentle arc seeming at odds with the harshness of everything else they’d seen. Within the arc was their group. The dark haired youth and two smaller children - one a terrified looking, dark haired Bajoran girl, the other a tiny human male with large brown eyes. Whose hair color as an absolute mystery given how much dirt and grime there was mired within it.

The two little ones appeared to be attempting to dress the wounds of the others. A length of the stretchy material had been used to tightly hold lengths of bone to create a splint for Lindsey’s leg, while those and long strips of filthy fabrics of various sorts were being attempted as bandages for Mac. The older boy waved them off and scooted to the base of the wall with a bit of bone. He dug for a moment, unearthing several tiny blue things until he finally hit damp soil. He scooped out several handfuls of it, only after carefully scooting the blue things back toward the wall, and brought the damp soil to where the others were, applying it liberally to Mac’s wounds.

Finally, he looked up at Mitchell, examining his features a moment. “You’re not miners.” the littlest said, the timber and slight lisp suggesting an age of no more than perhaps five. “You’re not traders. K’na or G’tal.” he continued. “Why are you here?”

“If you’re here to rescue us, it’s not going very well,” The Bajoran girl whispered.

“No,” Mitchell shook his head, “Just for the Gold Pressed Latinum,” he rubbed his hand over the filthy kids head, “Fortune and Glory son, Fortune and Glory,” he grinned, he was starting to like this game.

The oldest of the three shook his head, his jaw tightening as he worked on Mac’s wounds.

“Boy are you in the wrong place,” the Bajoran girl told him.

“So you are traders.” the littlest sounded disappointment. “That’s why you all come.” He looked over at the older boy as if realizing they’d made a mistake.

“Traders wear clothes.” the oldest one spoke, softer still. “And they don’t fight the G’Tal.”

“Then what are they?” the littlest asked the other, who replied with a shrug.

“Think of us like Gods and Goddesses,” Mitchell patted the little girl on her head. He was really getting into character now.

The little girl shifted out of his reach. “Gods and Goddesses don’t exist, but if they did, they wouldn’t need to be rescued by mine rats.” she told him. “This was a mistake. They’ll get us caught and then we won’t be able to send anymore home.”

The oldest looked at her, a warning in his expression.

“We should have left them down there.” she pointed out. “That’s all I’m saying.”

Once more the oldest shrugged.

“Yes well,” Mitchell cleared his throat, “It was all part of the divine plan, now take us to your rebel leader, we need to talk.” he looked back towards the rest of his group and smiled as the injured were being taken care of. “Hey Sammy, how long has it been?” he had totally lost track of time.

“Eight minutes,” She replied, unable to believe how quickly things had all gone down.

“Eight Minutes!” Mitchell sighed. “Well only twenty two left to go then.” he looked back down expectantly at the kid, “Take us to your leader then.”

The blue eyed boy glanced up at him, then lowered his eyes again, shaking his head. “You need to go.” he told him, his voice pitched precisely loud enough and no louder as he continued to work on Mac.

“He’s right,” the girl told them. “However you got here, you need to leave now. We saved you. You’re welcome. Now, we have things to do and you can’t stay with us. You’ll just slow us down. And you can’t stay here or you’ll get this place found, and that’s not okay either. So… you have to go back however you got here. Now.”

“Well now hold on there kid,” Mitchell held out a hand, “Where’s the dark curly haired guy that brought us up here?” he asked and started looking around.

Both of the smaller kids pointed at the one tending to Mac.

Mitchell crawled his way over towards the one they were pointing at, nearly bumping his head on the roof as it was barely four feet high. “Hey,” he placed his hand on the guys shoulder causing him to turn around, “Whoaaa,” Mitchell said startled, “You are Josh?” he looked down at Mac immediately.

The boy moved away from his touch, his brow furrowing as he finished tending to Mac. He shook his head in response to Mitchell’s question. There was no ‘Josh’ in Taursus unless he came with the last stable of slaves to market. Those wouldn’t be sold until the next night, when the translators would be needed.

Mac groaned softly, forcing the one eye that would open to do so. It widened in surprise to see the version of his best friend above him, no more than perhaps ten. He scooted up onto his elbows looking around a bit dizzily, having no idea where they were.

“Wake up Mac,” Mitchell smacked him on the side of head, “We got like 21 minutes left, put on your game face,” he put his arm around Josh, “You remember this guy?” he asked.

The boy shifted swiftly, grazping Mitchell’s arm and twisting it so that his wrist touched his shoulder from behind, then shoved him forcefully toward the others. “You need to go.” he repeated, a dangerous edge to his dulcet tones this time.

“Gaaaaahhhhh,” Mitchell let out a gasp of pain as his arm was wrangled and he was pushed away. Shaking his arm he looked back, “Just relax,” he said to the Josh Holo, “We’ll be gone in like 20 minutes.”

The boy shook his head.

“I’m not sure what minutes are but you don’t have twenty of them.”The tiny boy spoke for him. “You need to go now. On your own, or with help. We made a mistake helping you. You’re just like them. You take without asking and think you’re entitled. Time. Touch. It doesn’t matter. You don’t get either.”

“Wait...just wait,” Mitchell held up his hands. He looked back towards the others for help but wasn’t sure if he was going to get any, “, look I’m sorry, We’re here to help, tell us how to help you, how often do you see people like us down here,” he asked rhetorically, “You know we were sent here to help, just tell us what to do.” He glanced back at the rest of the group wondering if anyone else was gonna chime in.

“The traders don’t come this far in,” Mac reminded them. “They don’t ask for time. They don’t fight K’na. Or G’tal. I couldn’t ever really figure out which was which. My buddy tried to explain it to me once, but I never did get it. Keepers and Guards I get. Which is which?”

“K’na. Keepers. G’tal. Guards. Those were G’tal. K’na are more dangerous.” the girl explained.

“Right. Lucky that wasn’t them, then, huh?” Mac quipped. “So my buddy told me once how they use to try to smuggle the littlest ones back out as quick as they got here. How they had two or three traders they could send the new kids back to fed space to try to find their families. Uncercover types who sold finery and smuggled out kids.”

“Who told you that.” The girl asked, a panicked expression in her eyes. “Who are you really?” she suddenly demanded, pointing a particularly long narrow and jagged piece of rock at them, her grasp suggesting she knew exactly how to use it to her intent. “Truth. All. Now. And we’ll know if you’re lying. The truth or I gut you all.”

“Whoaaaaa,” Mitchell said holding out his hands, “Just calm down,” he said lowering his voice, “We’re here to help you escape, that’s how we know.” he glanced at Mac quickly hoping that would work.

The girl lunged, hissing, “LIAR”, only to be intercepted by the blue eyed older boy, who swiftly disarmed her. “But he lied!” she protested.

The boy nodded. He knew.

“We should drop them back down the hole.” the youngest spoke up. “They could hide again before more G’Tal came by.”

The older boy shook his head, knowing they wouldn’t survive alone. He considered carefully what needed to be done, then sighed. “ Where is your ship?” he asked, looking from Mac to Mitchell as they appeared to speak for the group.

“You’re going to help them?” The girl asked incredulously. “But he LIED.”

The boy shot her a look that caused her to visibly flinch, before glancing once more between them.

“It’s in orbit around the planet but we can’t contact them yet,” Mac replied, laying back dizzily. “Fuck, I got run over by a harvester.”

“What’s a harvester?” the tiny one asked, lisping his way through the word in such a way as to cause Sammie to melt at the cuteness of it.

“It’s a machine that helps during harvest season, things like wheat and hay and alfalfa.” Mac replied, knowing they’d have no idea what that was, either. “We use them a lot on the planet I grew up on.”

The tiny one considered Mac carefully. He hadn’t made a bit of sense, but he hadn’t lied to him either. “Okay.” he shrugged, scooting a little closer to the engineer. “How come you can’t contact them?”

Mac couldn’t help but laugh as he answered, “Because we’re naked and neither of us thought to stash a communicator up our… um… anywhere on our persons.” He looked toward Mitchell and added, “Unless you did.”

Mitchell shook his head, “Nope,” he chuckled at the thought, “Look,” he pleaded, “We want to help, I know we’re a bit unorthodox, but seriously, what do you have to lose?” he asked, motioned around the areas meager surroundings.

“Lives.” the blue eyed boy replied quietly.

“Not much of a life living in here, let us help you get out.” Mitchell gave him his best poker bluff stare.

“It’s not us you’re here to help.” the girl pointed out. “But it’s not our lives we’re trying to save, either. So you’re off on both counts. We know you’re here for a reason that isn’t to help us. It isn’t to save us. This twenty minutes you keep mentioning isn’t about us. So you can’t contact your ship. That was true. The only true thing you’ve said to us so far.”

The blue eyed boy shrugged as he moved to peer down the hole they’d all come up through, clearly watching for something specific. She seemed to be handling the rest of their ‘problem’ well enough.

“He’s going to look to see if our people are coming. If they are, you’ll be pushed against he wall and left for lying to us, unless you tell us the truth now. If they’re not, you’ll be dropped back onto the path, unless you tell us the truth now. Maybe even then, if the truth is what I think it is.” She narrowed her eyes. “I’m not as patient as the eldest, or as nice as the youngest. I’d just as soon slit your throats and leave you for the Vr’tae, like G’tal did to the other two because of you.”

“He didn’t say that,” the tiny one pointed out. “About the Vr’tae. OR dropping them back. He didn’t say it.”

The girl shot the little one a look, though he didn’t seem cowed in the slightest by it.

The elder boy sat back up, but made no move to join the rest of them as he remained silently where he was.

“I’m confused,” Sammie told the others. “If these three are here and they could just pull them up to safety, why hasn’t anybody else got this far.”

That’s when Mac remembered. He began to laugh softly, shaking his head. “Because they’re not always here.” he told them. The looks on their faces told him that he’d need to explain more clearly than that. “Last time I ended up going in after him, he got injured saving my ass and getting me back out. He swore he was going to put in a safeguard specifically for me. Something to keep me from getting my ass kicked again.”

“So why didn’t you tell us that in the first place,” Lindsey growled. “We could have been up here the whole time.”

“I haven’t been in the program since. I don’t particularly like it, for obvious reasons, so I didn’t know he’d actually done it.” Mac answered. He shook his head. “Dumb luck you had me with you. Otherwise… people are gonna get killed in here.”

The Bajoran girl looked at them as if they were speaking gibberish, then addressed the eldest in a language none seemed to understand. The eldest just shook his head silently, looking over his charges contemplatively, his weary and care-worn expression, eyes far too old for such a young face hinting, in that moment, at the man he would grow to be. The Bajoran girl hissed a comment back at him, only to be silenced by the glare he shot back at her. The girl skittered back quickly, her expression terrified, only daring to relax at all when he turned his terrible gaze back from her. The tiny one moved to the elder’s side and layed his head against his arm innocently. At long last the elder seemed to soften, drawing the younger one into his long, thin, deceptively frail looking arms.

“You’ll need help.” the elder spoke at last, his dulcet tones only just audible.

Mitchell stood there watching the back and forth and listening in not caring at all about any of it, before glancing back at Sammy and whispering, “How much time we got left?”

“Twelve minutes.” she whispered back after consulting her time piece. Looking up she noticed the elder boy looking at her with a curious expression. More specifically, looking at her time piece.

“What?” she asked. “Haven’t you ever seen a chrono before?”

He shook his head, but made no move to join her to assuage his curiosity, either.

“Ok,” Mitchell whispered again, “Just follow my lead.” he cleared his throat and turned to the group, “How’s Lyndsey doing?’ he asked hoping to divert their attention to her and her fractured ankle. “We can’t go anywhere until shes ok at least.”

“We can carry you out.” The tiny one assured him. “We got you in here easy enough.”

The elder boy nodded, then looked at the tiny one again.

“He says you should tell us where your shuttle is now. It’s not a good night to be here. You need to go now. We can help you out but you really need to go now.” The tiny one told them. “He says you don’t have any more twelve minuteses. It’s time to go now.”

“No no,” Mitchell shook his head, “You have to treat her. That’s a serious injury.” he moved over to her, “Just hang in there for 12 more minutes ok?” he whispered to her and took hold of her hand “Why aren’t you guys doing anything?” he snapped back at the slave kids, “She’s losing blood..” he pointed to the pool of red forming under her, “She’ll die, do something please?” he pleaded, laying it on thick.

The Bajoran girl tightened the makeshift tourniquet, then looked pointedly at MItchell. “She’ll live. We’ve survived worse. Even him,” she nodded toward the tiniest one. “Let’s go.” She hefted Lindsey over her shoulder, glaring hard at Mitchell as the Elder carefully eased Mac over his shoulder.

“Where is your shuttle?” The Bajoran girl demanded. “Or do we just leave you where we found you?”

Once again the ender glared at her.

“But you said they didn’t have…” she began to argue, then fell silent as his pale blue eyes narrowed, a hardness forming there that suggested continuing to argue could be dangerous. “Alright.” she answered softly. “Since you can’t tell us where you’re shuttle is, we’ll take you somewhere safer. There is a hidden door strangers come through sometimes. More lately. We can send you through there. They come in clean and strong, and they go there to escape this world. You’ll be safe there.”

“All they do is call for “Computer locate exit” and it appears. It’s like magic.” The tinest one told them. “They’ll probly fix her ankle there, too. So see. You don’t have to worry. We’ll keep you safe.”

“NOOOO,” Mitchell jerked up, “They do awful things to people there,” he held up his hands, “Please you can’t send us there like this, if they see her like that she will be discarded. We came here to escape their punishment.” he looked into her eyes, “Please, don’t send us back there…”

“You’re lying again.” The Bajoran pointed out.

Mitchell turned to her, “And how you even know that?’ he scoffed, “What are you some sort of Bajoran mind reader or something?’ he said holding his grip on Lyndseys hand not letting her get carried any further.

“The same way they both know. The miner’s language. It’s all there. And you can’t lie in miners language. No matter what your mouth says. And your mouth lies.” she answered.

“Oh yeah.” Mac huffed softly, though he’d begun to sound a bit punchy. “They know when you’re lying. Did I forget to tell you that?”

“Ahhh…,” Mitchell nodded. “That makes sense then…” he stopped for a second and then continued. “OK, you guys want the truth this is it.” he cleared his throat, “I’m a fighter pilot for the United Federation of Planets Starfighter Corps,” he watched as they slowed for a second to listen. “A couple of weeks ago, I was a on a mission to destroy a giant space amoeba anomaly thing, that really still I don't even,” he shook his head, “It doesn’t make sense,” he waved his hand “Whatever doesn’t matter, so we were out trying to kill a giant space amoeba thing and I ended up risking my life to save someone else's, instead I just made things worse.” he sighed and his shoulders sulked down a bit, “My help just made things worse.” he said it again, “And that’s what your going to do if you try to help us like that, you send us out the exit and it will just make things worse.” he pleaded with them one more time.

“How?” The tiny one asked, moving to his side and placing a hand on his shoulder. “How did you make it worse? And how will our help make it worse for you?”

“Because she didn’t need my help in the way that I gave it, all I did was make her situation worse, even as they were telling me they wanted me to help in another way I just didn’t listen, i was so dead set on doing it my way, the only way I know.” he looked down and paused, “Anyways,” he inhaled through his nose, “if you send us out there into the exit you won’t be helping us like we want you to help us, and when I did that it ended up with one person clinging to life and burned half to hell and the other hating my guts so…..I guess it’s your choice then.” he blew air out his mouth and sighed.

“How many more minutes until you win.” The elder spoke again at last.

Mitchell looked over at Sammy immediately with an eyebrow raised.

“Seven minutes.” She replied, “And how did you know we were competing for something?”

The elder gestured to his face.

“He’s been listening to your miners language.” The tiny one told them. “He listens to that one best. He’s good at most. Except his tongue does not like yours. It does not like most, but it can make them. Mostly though he likes the miners language best.”

“He doesn’t like lies.” The Bajoran girl shrugged. “You said the truth this time.” She said to Mitchell. “I’m sorry you hurt someone. It hurts you. You should tell him what you told us and apologize. Sometimes it helps both of you.”

The elder, meanwhile had moved slightly closer to Sammie, peering once again at her timepiece, his curiosity beginning to win out.

Mitchell nodded at the Bajoran, “Maybe,” he shrugged, “Easier said than done though, they’re court martialing me for it, kind of hard to apologize to people who want you thrown in prison or whatever.” he leaned back against the wall not really caring about the prize money anymore. Just feeling sort of like a burden had been lifted off his shoulders. Just talking about it was cathartic enough.

The elder quickly drew him from the wall, examining his back closely. Looking him in the eye he reached out lightning fast and drew a tiny blue wormlike creature and showed it to him, it’s tiny mouth filled with row after row of sharp, needle-like teeth.

“If you admitted you were wrong and apologize maybe they wouldn’t need to hurt you as bad.” The Bajoran girl offered in the meantime, “Maybe they would go easy. Sometimes Keeper Saul will if you admit you were wrong. “ She shrugged. “But he wants to hear you admit what you did first.”

Mouth agape at the worm that was just pulled from his back Mitchell scooted as far away from the wall as he could. “No…” he shook his head with a sigh, “It’s too late for that, I got an actual medal for what happened, and now everyone hates me anyways because they all think its some stupid political thing. Not even my own wingmates want to talk to me anymore.” he looked over at Mac, “He’s about the only friend I have left, him and Bean I guess. And old man percy.”

“Don’t forget Tiny.” Mac reminded him, sounding more than a little drunk as his words had begun to slur all together. “He doesn’t hate you. I don’ think. He didn’t before he was beat. Before Bean was blue. Did you see him? He’s blue.”

“You could give the medal back.” The Bajoran girl suggested. “Or give it to the one who got hurt instead.”

“What’s a political?” The tiniest one asked, still standing full height with plenty of room in their cramped space, peering into Mitchell’s face.

“Why I got the medal.” he answered. “It’s all about making the station look good, keeping up appearances, who cares how I feel or if I even deserve it.” he let out a deep breath, “Who cares if I’m now the laughing stock of Visek Nor and even the janitors are making fun of me.”

“What’s a janitor?” The Bajoran girl asked as the eldest finally scooted close enough to really look at Sammie’s watch. She raised her wrist carefully so he could look at it closely.

“They like clean stuff up,” Mitchell answered, “Mop the floors and sweep and stuff.” he shrugged, “Apparently it’s a good retirement for former Marine Master Sergeants too.” he noticed that the Elder was eyeing Sammys watch, “You know we can hang out here a bit longer, there’s no real time table or anything.” he looked over at the Bajoran, “So you are like a counselor or something around here right?” he smiled at her, “You are so easy to talk too you know?”

The girl smiled. “We don’t usually talk here. Mine rats aren’t allowed words of their own.” She nodded toward the elder, “He breaks rules though. Teaches us to. They bring new ones in. We help them go back. But secret.Sometimes caught. He takes blame. And punishment. But he doesn’t stop. So we don’t either.” She cocked her head to the side. “Does that make you counselor too?”

Mitchell nodded, “Anyone who helps someone else is a counselor in my book.” he smiled back at her. “Do you have a name?” he asked, “My name is John.”

She shook her head sadly. “Mine rats don’t get names. They are wasted on those who won’t live long enough to use them.”

“Well I’m gonna call you Carole then.” Mitchell held out his hand towards her. “You remind me of Carole.”

The little girl’s eyes widened in wonder. “Really?” she asked. “I can have it?” She looked excitedly toward the boys. “I am named. Like the innocent ones they bring in to sell and to work here. I am Carole.”

The elder boy smiled sadly, but nodded. It was good she would have a name. It was easier to remember the ones with names. Perhaps she would be remembered when the mines claimed her, as they did everyone eventually.

The tiny one bounced on the balls of his feet. “Hi Carole,” he said then giggled.

“Hi,” she replied, smiling brightly enough to illuminate the cave.

Mitchell giggled too at how excited she was too have a name. “Where I come from, Carole means brave and strong and courageous and had no hair on her head like you do.” he looked over to the the older boy, “And you, you remind me of Morpheus.” Mitchell nodded thinning his eyes, “Oh yeah, you command everyone's respect don’t you, you are the leader here.” he breathed in, “Yeah you are Morpheus.”

The elder boy bowed his head. He knew he’d already outlived most of those in the mines, and didn’t expect that to hold out much longer, but he appreciated the gift. It would be good for the littlest to have an actual name to remember should he choose to think of him later.

“Do I get one too?” the tiniest asked timidly.

He grinned recognizing the kid even though he was years younger than the Zack he had met before. “You,” Mitchell said with a satisfying grin, “You are Iceman. Nothing fazes you, you are calm, cool and collected, and you wear your enemy’s down and when they make a mistake,” he breathed in deep through his nose, “You’re there to make ‘em pay.” Mitchell placed a soft finger on his chest as he said it.

“I am?” he asked wide eyed in wonder.

The eldest had to look away lest the youngest catch the fond smile that had caught him unexpectedly.

“Um… guys…” Mac said softly before his eyes rolled back and he lost consciousness.

“Oh shit,” Mitchell said looking over at Mac, “Alright, time for the exit,” he pointed at Morpheus, “Lead us out,” he said with a nod.

The eldest, dubbed “Morpheus” took up Mac carefully once again and moved back the the hole they’d been drawn up through. Without a second thought for landings or gravity or possible injury he dropped through, landing with cat-like grace then set Mac carefully aside and reached up to catch whoever came next.

Carole and Iceman carefully lowered Lindsey down to the tall, wiry youth who eased her down beside Mac and reached up again.

MItchell and VJ helped the rest of the women down and then dropped down themselves.

As he landed with Carole’s help Mitchell looked around and made sure everyone in their party was accounted for before signaling to Morpheus to carry on and lead them out to the exit.

The youth picked up Mac as Carole picked up Lindsey and they moved forward until the tiny “Iceman” called out, “Computer, identify exit” and the arched doorway appeared.

Once they were close enough Sammie and Misty created a ‘seat’ between then by holding tightly to one another’s arms to carry Lindsey through and Mac was handed off to be held between Mitchell and VJ.

“Be careful… “ Morpheus warned them, gesturing to Mac’s many injuries, but especially those done to his shoulders back and chest area.

“Good bye.” Carole said sadly. “You’re not going to come back, are you?”

“We’ll probly be dead already if you do,” The tiniest warned him. “But maybe not. Sometimes not. “

“I’ll be back,” Mitchell said to Carole, “We have more stuff to talk about.” he added as he and VJ carried Mac out through the entrance. They were the last three to leave the holo-game and medics were already standing by to assist as they stepped back into the arcade area. He watched as they worked their magic on Lyndsey and Mac before turning back around and waving at the kids one last time before the archway closed. Without even turning back he shouted towards Sammy, “WHATS THE TIME?” he said then looked towards the game attendant with a big grin on his face.

“I don’t know,” she admitted. “I gave my chrono to Morpheus.”

“Congratulation!” One of the other patrons exclaimed. “42 minutes. You lasted 42 freakin’ minutes in there and you hardly have a scratch on you.”

He turned to the rest of the arcade and shouted, “42 MINUTES!!!”

The excitement was overwhelming as they were suddenly surrounded by people congratulating them, asking how they did it and what they’ll do with all that latinum.

“Of course that’s 200 bars, period, not per person. Their group counts as one person. That was clear in what you signed but I do want to reiterate it, just in case,” The attendant made sure he understood, though he’d gone a dreadful pasty white as if going through a terrible ordeal or perhaps he might be sick. “One payment. That’s it.”

“Was it hard?”, “Was it scary?”, “Was anyone hurt?”, “Did you lose anyone?” and many more questions were all fired at him at once, overlapping until the cacophony of voices overlapped into one loud and maddening noise, overwhelmingly loud compared to where they’d just been.

Mitchell shook his head and held up his hands. “Alright slow down, one question at a time.” he grinned clearly enjoying the attention. “OH, he looked over towards the attendant, “Make sure you deposit the bars evenly into our accounts, and no funny business.” before turning back to to his adoring fans.

“Right. Right. 28 each. Consider it done.” the attendant agreed, thinking perhaps he’d just gained four for himself.

“Are you busy later.” A cute young brunette asked him, eying him appraisingly, garnering laughter from the others around her.

“YOUCANDOBETTER!” someone shouted from the crowd.

Mitchell checked the woman out and smiled. “Do I really look like the kind of guy who plans things?” he said motioning to his still completely nude body. He looked around for Misty, “What do you think,” he asked her. “Am I busy later?”

“Oh yes.” Misty grinned, placing a hand on her cocked hip and tossing her hair. “I’ll be keeping you very busy.”

“Sorry,” Mitchell shrugged, “Guess I am busy.” he turned to see Sammy at the counter with the attendant, “Hey Sammie, whats 200 divided by seven?” he asked.

“Twenty eight with four remaining,” Sammie replied without a pause.

“Sounds like we’re getting cheated then.” he looked past her towards the guy behind the counter. “Make sure Mac and Lyndsey get the extra four huh?” he said.
“How would you like that split? According to gravity of the injury or evenly between the two?” the attendant asked, clearly disappointed to have been discovered.

“Evenly,” Mitchell answered and looked around to the others who all nodded with him. “Now,” he began to say pulling Misty to his side, “We have some important busy things to attend to.” He said as they headed towards the exit. “Meet you guys in the van,” he said over his shoulder towards Sammie and the others.


Flight Lieutenant John 'Maverick' Mitchell
Visek Nor

Lieutenant Patrick McEntire
Chief Engineer
Visek Nor


With Cameos by Sammie, Lindsey, Analyn and VJ


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