735: Hellfire

by *William Lindsay and Zanh Liis
Following From Above
Soundtrack: Violet Hill by Coldplay


-=Aboard the Romulan Vessel=-

The debris from the collapsing roof showered down in front of Blane and Lindsay as they fell back, all the time firing at their unseen attackers above.

The weapons discharge had been enough to ignite what were once functional components of the Romulan ship, and the searing heat drove them further back. As the roof collapsed below their Romulan assailants, they too were forced to retreat.

The pair of Starfleet officers could see them, moving above their heads and fired up at them but they were like rodents scurrying through the tubes faster than the two men could move. As soon as they were far enough away that they could strike a section of roofing without it collapsing on them, the Romulans had escaped it.

Detritus continually descended; sparks, raining hellfire. Metal and glass and god only knew what else threatening to impale them the moment they stood still, forcing them farther and farther away from the help of their comrades.

The remainder of their team was caught on the other side of the conflagration. Salvek fired with them, and O’Sullivan was dragging the Captain out of there; whether she liked it or not.

Smoke from the flames thinned the air and breathing became more laborious. Their eyes stung and it was quickly becoming hopeless to try to aim. They could no longer make out what was happening on the other end of the corridor. They were struggling even to see what was going on right in front of their faces as they fell back, further still.

Even keeping low and protecting their mouths as best they could, drowsiness was starting to strike. A fit of throaty coughs overcame Lindsay, which served as a beacon to the Romulan fire. A blast of green light hit the ground in front of them, close enough to melt the toe of Will’s boot but somehow missing his foot.

As they were practically operating blind Blane had kept to the wall, managing to give them some idea of their location. Though the metal of the walls was now heated enough to sizzle their hands were they to touch it, they could make out the frame of a door. TC charged backwards into it, never taking his eyes off of the roof. Through whatever force of luck, it slid open enough for him to wrangle his way through, and to yank Lindsay along with him.

The door slid shut behind them, trapping the flame and the smoke in the hall, but insufficient to fully block the heat. They inhaled deeply of the cleaner air as they took in the room around them.

It was an office, probably belonging to the Chief Engineer. There was a desk to provide possible cover, a computer terminal which could hopefully be used to bring up some schematics of the ship and a replicator which should be sufficient to recycle the clean air in here, but as safe as the space seemed, there was one fatal flaw in it.

There was no way out.

The door they’d just entered was the only exit, and unrelenting flames trapped them here. They weren’t sure how long the door would hold off the smoke- let alone the fire itself.

[O’Sullivan to Lindsay!] came the call over Will’s combadge, which was, amazingly, still working.

“Aye,” he acknowledged as best he could with the smoke in his lungs. "Here, Keiran."

[You an’ Blane need to bloody well get back here, now. Liis is hurt and refusin' to leave without you lot,] O’Sullivan snarled in disbelief.

“That’s going to be tricky. We’re trapped in an office of some sort,” TC warned.

[I am not hearing that.] Keiran replied, refusing to accept that these two men with their combined skills were going to be unable to find a way to get back in time. He closed the channel without any additional comment.

“We’ll have to blow a hole in the wall,” Lindsay suggested, his breathing still coarse. “But given our location, we’ll have to be very careful not to hit a vital system and blow the ship to hell.”

Before they could make any plans, a green disruptor blast struck the ground in between the two men.

Blane and Lindsay leapt in opposite directions.

As soon as the sniper seemed to aim at the other side of the room in his attempt to spray the space with disruptor blasts the way that one might thoroughly water their lawn in the summertime, Will doubled back toward the desk and dove beneath it, where Blane was already seeking cover.

Somehow, both men managed to force themselves into the very tight, very unhappy little space.

"So, Spec Ops," Will hacked between words, "Got any bright ideas now?" He felt heat above them, and came to the conclusion very quickly that the furniture was not going to protect them for long. It was already, in fact, melting under the steady, unrelenting hail of disruptor fire.

"I could use you as a human shield and make a run for it." Blane's expression, as cold and unwavering as stone, gave Will no clue as to whether at a time like this he would be prone to make a joke as his Captain would.

Blane took another shot at the ceiling and thought he heard a howl. He hoped he'd hit something that would cause the Romulan intense, and maybe even intensely personal, pain.

"Aye, ye'd do it, too, would'na ya?" The more stressed out Lindsay became, the more clearly his words reflected his heritage as a Scot. He cursed as he discovered that his hand phaser power cell had overheated and was functioning only sporadically now. He tossed it aside with disgust and switched back to his rifle.

"Nah. She'd never forgive me." Blane replied, wondering just how 'injured' she, Zanh Liis really was. He continued to fire without let-up, even as sweat dripped down his forehead and burned his eyes as he struggled to see. "What about you, TI? What's your plan?"

"Well," Will reached for his belt, "I say we start by killin' the bastard who won't stop shootin' at us!"

Without another word, he dove out from beneath the desk, somersaulted onto his back and hefted an explosive device up into the air and through a hole in the ceiling created by the sniper's shots.

TC wouldn't have believed it possible, but the device found its mark. There was the sound of commotion above, and all that he could think was that the flames must've spread up and to the point where the Romulan couldn't easily retreat any longer.

Blane scrambled, grabbing Lindsay by the shirt and yanking him from the deck. Reacting without a thought, he pulled Will into a supply closet he'd spotted in the corner, and the two men ducked as best they could as the heavy metal door clanged shut.

The conduit above the office was blown away, erasing the ceiling above from existence in an instant.

The body of the Romulan security officer dropped down, collapsing what was left of the desk they'd been hiding under.

As soon as the hailstorm of wreckage started to slow, Will and TC forced the closet door, now no longer automatically operated as all the electrical for the room had shorted out, open.

"I don't think he'll be botherin' us again." Will continued to cough, feeling lightheaded. He knew his lung function must be pretty badly compromised, and didn't know if he should try to keep going, or if he'd only slow Blane down.

"You... hav'ta go up, through what's left of the ducts, like they did." he told Blane. TC had already come to the same conclusion, figuring they would have to climb and continue one, maybe two decks above, and then cross over to the side of the ship where the rest of the team was stuck. Only then could they descend on the opposite end of the inferno that had overtaken the corridor.

He didn't know how much structural integrity any of the access conduits had at this point, as the whole ship was groaning and creaking around them, warning of danger in the way that no shrieking klaxon ever could.

TC knew one thing for sure; whatever they were going to do, they didn't have a hell of a lot of time left to do it.

The wall opposite the entrance was the coolest, and so represented their best shot at something they could climb. TC ran his hand along the wall and found that it was just as smooth as it looked; there was no way to get a grip on it. The collapse of the ceiling had successfully leveled any remaining furniture in the room and so they had nothing they could use for a boost. He could attempt to climb but given the state of the wheezing Lindsay there was no chance they’d both make it.

Even in here the air was becoming thick with smoke now that the replicators had cut out. A long drawn out shudder from the ship reminded them to hurry.

Will was about to tell TC to go on without him when the man, apparently reading his mind, told him simply to “Forget it.”

Then to make sure there was no misunderstanding, added, “The Captain’s refusing to go without both of us. I don’t have the option of leaving you here.” His tone was once again unreadable, Lindsay had no idea if he was joking.

TC desperately searched the floor for something sharp enough that it could pierce the wall and work as a step. The door behind them seemed to creak three times in quick repetition, as if the fire were knocking to be let in.

Will, realising that there wasn’t much more damage they could do to the ship at this point, focused his rifle on the thinnest possible beam and took aim at the wall.

Hearing the familiar sound of weapons fire TC turned, trigger finger ready on instinct, and found that Will was cutting a series of small holes. It didn’t take long to realise that Lindsay was intending to use them as footholds.

“Not bad,” TC begrudgingly conceded. Will would usually have opted for a witty remark right about now, and his eyes showed that he wanted to, but he just didn’t have the breath for it. Instead he immediately started climbing as the flames burst underneath the door, practically roaring as they entered at all the fresh oxygen they could consume.

The holes were still heated from the phaser fire and were painful on their feet and especially their uncovered hands. They were able, however, to overcome any discomfort with the thought about just how much hotter the rapidly gaining fire behind them was.

Reaching the top and pulling himself into the roof Will kept moving, only briefly glancing back to see that TC was indeed still behind him. The fire was staying down for now but the smoke seemed to be following them up and so they moved quickly on hands and knees to try to get ahead of it. There was barely enough room for their heads and they were forced to stay low as they moved. Had they encountered any Romulan corpses up here left over from the fight they’d never have gotten passed them.

They rounded a corner and as they moved onto the next section, the metal beneath them emitted an eerie, screeching sound. The entire ship was whining but this was a hell of a lot louder, like it was already past breaking point. They didn’t stop to find out if it was going to give and were almost to the next turn when the floor dropped beneath them; exactly two inches. Both men’s hearts skipped a beat as they continued around the corner.

The wall beside them loudly rumbled as the entire area seemed to shake. Electroplasma was building up on the other side and rapidly approaching critical pressure, the EPS correction sequence Rada had set in motion on the bridge had been suspended as the heat from the flames had caused vital components to expand and mechanisms became stuck.

“What the hell was that?” Lindsay shouted, his words quick and his breathing shallow.

“A very good reason to move faster,” Blane retorted, not exactly in the frame of mind to stop and take a tricorder scan to evaluate the situation. Then they hit a dead end; there was no where forward to go, just a latch up to the next level but the mechanism wouldn’t budge. Blane's arms ached as he tried to move it, but nothing happened.

Sweat drenched Lindsay’s shirt and he could feel that the fire had spread to below them. They couldn’t go ahead now, and if they stayed here they’d be cooked.

There was no room to turn around so TC had to crawl backwards. As his foot touched on the section they’d just came from, it began to crumble. TC just barely managed to bring his foot back in before the entire section behind them collapsed; had his reflexes been any slower, the limb would have been taken off. There were flames beating up from behind them and so there was no way they could go back the way they'd come.

Will Lindsay almost broke his combadge, he hit it so hard. “O’Sullivan! I’m assume’n'ya had a bloody good reason why ya didn’t just have yer ship beam ‘s all back!”


“Somethin’s interferin’ with the communicators. We’re not able reach the Sera,” O’Sullivan practically screamed at them. He was furious with them both, just as he was with himself.

It was the responsibility of every one of them to look after Liis, and they’d all failed miserably at it.


Captain *William Lindsay
(as told by Rada Dengar)
Temporal Investigations


Captain Zanh Liis
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC 2012