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Way Down We Go Part 2

Posted on Fri Jul 24th, 2020 @ 8:22pm by Leiddem Kea & Chief Engineer Michael Burnstein & Laurier Cami & Liha t'Ehhelih

Mission: Prospecting
Location: Mine
Timeline: MD 03 13:00
2126 words - 4.3 OF Standard Post Measure

Burnie took a breath, steadying nerves before stepping backward through the hole and repelling down the ragged shaft. The light from his headset providing only a narrow illumination, so he had barely a decent glimpse of the wall below right before his feet hit the next spot. 'Stay stable, stay stable, stay stable...' ran through his head like a prayer the whole way down.

Finally he saw a rubble pile instead of wall and inched down, bringing each foot down gingerly.

"About time!" Liha exclaimed, shifting out from under the blast shield with a grunt to mask the pain. "We need to get Quin out."

And you... Burnie thought, swallowing at the sight of the hole in her leg, but he knew better than to say it. "What are his injuries? I have a harness, but he needs backboard, we'll need to rig something."

"Cracked ribs. I taped them with duct tape."

"Duct tape?" Burnie grinned. "I guess you learned something form me after all."

"Shut up," she snapped, and frowned at the unconscious doctor. "He passed out hours ago. I don't know if it was from other damage or just because you humans have no endurance."

Burnie chuckled but didn't argue - he was too eager to just get out. "All right. I did bring a quikcast," he said pulling the mesh out of his pack and wrapping it around the doctor's chest before activating the stiffening foam. He waited a moment for it to set. "This will have to do. Leiddem," he called up, as he attached the harness. "You'll have to pull Quin up. Go easy - he's got cracked ribs!"

"This anti-grav isn't going to hold forever, Burnie! We need to get them up now," Cami called down to the group. She tightened her grip on the gear, knowing that it wouldn't make any sort of difference but made her feel like she was keeping it together.

"I Know!" Burnie yelled back, as he helped guide the unconscious Quin up the fall of rubble until he was being pulled straight-ish up the shaft wall. Then he turned back to Liha. She obviously wasn't up to climbing on her own, but judging by the way her arm was hanging off her shoulder even strapping her to him was going to hurt.

Liha eyed him. "What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking I need to get harness on you, but it's going to hurt so much you're going to deck me with your good hand for trying."

"Hmph," she snorted defiantly. "I'm not some weak human woman. Put it on."

"Okay..." Burnie bent his head hoping the dim light hid the smirk as he knelt to buckle the harness around her and then to himself.

Leiddem nodded but knew no one could see him so just set out pulling up the dead weight that was Quin. It took a lot longer than the man thought it would but soon the man appeared out of the hole and Leiddem dragged him to the floor as carefully as he could. "I got him." He called down.

"Good. Be ready to belay again. We're coming up," Burnie called and started to ascended the rubble, careful of his step and as careful as he could be not to jostled Liha too much. He could see the tension in her jaw and feel it in the way her good arm was clenched around his back.

"I got you," Leiddem said wishing he had gloves on but it was nothing that a dermal regenerator would not fix in a few minutes. He waited until they were both clear before moving over. "Need some help?" He wondered quickly knowing that it would be unwanted if he just assumed.

"Yes!" Burnie replied before Liha could reject it. "I do. Give me a hand getting over this rubble," he said, swinging a leg over the mound at the opening and bracing his back on the edge of the hole as he reached out with the hand that had been holding the rope.

Liha glared at him and then at Leiddem. "Unhook me and I will make it out on my own."

"Yeah... not with that leg." Burnie shook his head. "Once we're out of the danger zone here you can ride a anti-grav. Until then, I'm carrying you. You can stab me for it later."

Sadly, he wasn't wrong. But that didn't mean she was going to admit it. Liha scowled. "I'll remember that offer," she shot back tersely.

Sensing the two would be bickering constantly anyway, Cami moved over and held out a hand for Liha.

"I know you don't like accepting help, but they'll stop worrying about you so much if it looks like I'm helping you," she said softly, adding a little knowing wink.

Liha nodded. "They should worry," she said, reaching her good hand to Cami. "About what I'll do to them."

Burnie rolled his eyes, and bit back a grin at Cami's tactics. "Fine. Let me get us unhooked," he said, setting Liha's feet down before unclipping the carabiner attaching him to the cable. But just as he reached between them to disconnect their harnesses, he felt a tremor that made him freeze.

Please, please, please... we're so close getting out... But the wish/prayer wasn't answered, or if it was, the answer was 'No' because in the next instant the tunnel shook, rocking them and sending a rain of loose gravel from the ceiling. "Changes of plans!" He scooped Liha back up. "Leiddem carry the Doc. Cami get between us with those anti-gravs. Go! Now!"

Leiddem looked at the other incredulously for a moment before he did a fireman lift chucking the man over his shoulder just hoping that he would not make any of his injuries any worse. It would not be good if that happened along with a tunnel cave in. Liha would never let any of them live it down.

For once Liha did not snap back about it. She felt an involuntarily wince in sympathy for Quin's damaged ribs, but better hurt worse than buried under kilotons of rock. She had already been trapped underground once and being truly buried was something to be avoided at all costs. So she clung to Burnie with her good arm, cursing silently at whoever had taken Gregnol and gotten them into this in the first place. If she ever found those responsible, they would regret it for the rest of their short and painful lives.

Leiddem followed closely trying to make sure he did not bounce Quin around too much but it was hard when they were running quickly to save them all. It was a stark reminder that the former marine was getting unfit and would need to get back to the level of fitness that he used to have so things like this did not leave him breathless.

The ground shook as they ran, gravel and larger rocks dislodging from the ceiling. The upside down anti-gravs helped deflect the the worst of it, but dust kicked up from impacts on the ground turned the tunnel caught in their throats and made it hard to see more a meter or two ahead. Burnie found himself stumbling and, arms occupied with carrying Liha, he kept from falling only by hitting the walls of the tunnel.

Finally, there was a spot of artificial light ahead. "The lift! Get in before this whole section comes down!"

Leiddem hated the tunnels, hated the darkness and worst he was pretty sure he had cuts and bruises everywhere. He looked up at the lift and shoved Quin into it and pulled Cami close behind him with the equipment as Burnie and Liha made it inside just as the dust settled on the safety glass outside the tube that kept them safe. “Press the button! Press it Cami!” He ordered in the marine voice he normally used to scare the chef in a moment of jest.

Cami's shaking hand hit the button, and her eyes closed tight as she squeezed between Liha and Leiddem. The whine of the anti-grav straining to keep the tunnel at bay grew louder until it was almost deafening. "Please work...please work...by the prophets, please work!" she murmured.

Leiddem said nothing but checked the man he was hauling’s heart rate. The man was still breathing and his heart was still beating so that was all very positive in his books. He did not want to haul a dead body out of the mines if he could. “It will. Stay calm Cami.” The Betazoid said sounding a lot more positive than he felt. He was praying to his own deities just as much as she was if he was asked but someone needed to sound calm and composed.

Having set Liha down both to save his back and her dignity, Burnie had a hand free and turned off the anti-grav, which was not helping at this point. "Two more levels and we should be past the worst of it. Six more and we'll be able to walk to the exit," he assured evenly, forcing his tone to confidence though he wrapped his free hand around the manual brake lever just in case the pulley system for the lift failed.

Cami felt herself awkwardly positioned to press up against Burnie's back in the tight space. She felt her cheeks redden as she locked eyes with Leiddem for just a second and then forced herself to turn the other way. "Soon, I hope," she mumbled, to divert attention as much as anything.

It was not long until the lift stopped shaking and it almost behind smoother and the hair fresher as they moved. "This thing is pretty slow." Lieddem found himself muttering. "Even Rosie's lifts go quicker." He added trying to lighten the mood even as he thought it was pretty much smooth sailing from that point on.

Just as he said it, the lift lurched suddenly.

"Don't jinx us," Liha snapped.

"Easy... just a little bump between levels," Burnie said, relaxing his grip on brake slightly as he felt the lift start to move more smoothly. "See? She's speeding up to normal now that we're past the danger zone." Still, he almost held his breath as the ascended, counting the levels to the top.

Cami still felt like she wanted to hold her breath but allowed herself to relax just fractionally. "I hate tunnels," she mumbled.

"You and me both," Burnie muttered as the lift stopped and the door opened to show a tunnel with dust falling from the ceiling due to the shaking happening further below. The lifted creaked ominously. "But I'll take this one - let's go!" He scooped Liha back up, getting a sharp look, but no more than a hiss at the indignity.

"Hey, Liha I could be the one carrying you"? Lieddem offered with a small smile as he hauled Quin up again relieved that he at least heard a groan from the man. Groaning meant you were alive and to Lieddem that meant hope to fix everyone up and find Gregnol. The Betazoid could see light in the distance and that meant it would not be long until fresh hair and actually being out of the tunnels finally.

"You can carry both if you want," Burnie grunted. "She's heavy."

"Hey!"

"You are - Romulans must have dense bones or something." His arms and legs felt like lead - probably half from climbing, but he was going to blame having her strapped to him for the climb. That and maybe adrenaline wearing off now that light was just ahead.

**CREAK-SKREE-CRASH!!!**

The sound of metal yielding a tearing followed by a crash as the beam anchoring the lift gave way, sent a renewed jolt of adrenaline through Burnie and he practically sprinted for the exit, stumbling through just behind the others as a plume of dust followed from rock coming down around the lift collapse.

Leiddem looked back at the dust that followed them out and looked at his crewmates incredulous that they had gotten out just in time. "Never been as lucky in all my life and I have four sisters." He muttered unable to understand just how lucky they truly had been. He was not always a good man so it could not have been him.

Burnie set Liha down and bent over, hands resting on knees as he tried to catch his breath past the dust. "Four sisters is lucky?" he coughed.

"Let's go," Liha said, casting a wary look around at locals who seemed a little alarmed by the state of their mine. "I'll send a note to your sister so she can explain it."

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