Eden fired blindly as they stepped through the door, hoping to force their attackers into cover, to give herself and Ral time to find something other than the open space outside the temple to take a position in.
Miraculously, it worked. A few orange-yellow beams from Cardassian phasers went wide of them as they dove between the buildings of the underground facility, and Eden came up, peeked from behind cover, fired again. She could feel them in the moments they moved out of cover… Nausicaan battle-lust, mostly, though there were one or two among their attackers who were different.
“Who are these people, Commander?” Ral moved with her, firing behind them as she went. “And what do they want?”
“The ones shooting at us? Nausicaan mercenaries, I expect.” Eden dove to the side as a beam burned the air where her right shoulder had just been. “What I don’t know is what they’re doing here.” The trouble Malen warned us about? She’d have been able to speak openly about smugglers, unless they had connections somewhere in Central Command.
“I’m not a fan of firefights, Commander!” Ral scored a glancing hit on one of the mercenaries as the two sides fought across a boulevard. “Do you have a plan to get us out of here?”
“Always,” Eden lied. She does bring up a valid point. “Make for the tunnel out. If we can get line of sight to the sky, we should be able to get a message to the ship.” Not exactly Operation Anglerfish, Enigma.
They kept running, kept fighting, Eden’s legs burning from the exertion. The enemy had them outnumbered by far too much – they would be surrounded long before they reached the exit, unless someone made a mistake first. And that thought was when Eden realized what she had to do.
“Left,” she called out, and she and Ral turned down another byway. Let the net start to close around them. Inch by inch, alley by alley, it the enemy closed in.
It was when she felt a hint of satisfaction across the back of her mind that she knew she’d won. She spun, charged where she had been retreating. Dove as a Nausicaan fired, turned, let off a shot that thankfully killed him instantly, vaulted past his still-falling body and over a mound of debris to slam her quarry into the wall.
The Cardassian grunted in pain as her smaller body hit him full-speed and shoulder-first, and she nearly growled. “You’re going to call off your men now.”
He managed to struggle free of her, but by that time Ral had joined them and had her phaser trained on him. The Cardassian – tall, broad, the insignia of a Glinn on his polished armor – inflated as if he was going to disagree, then he met Eden’s dark eyes.
Whatever he saw there must have let him know how serious she was.
“Let them go,” he said as some of the Nausicaans approached. The mercenaries shrugged, lowered their weapons, and Eden considered the man a moment. “I’d been wondering how the Breen got their hands on Tkon artifacts from the Cardassian system.”
“Tkon,” the Cardassian spat. “Fables of fallen glories, like the ones they tell us in training. The power of the ancients, there to be claimed by Cardassia, to find our old glory! Better to sell those stories to people who believe their power.”
“Cynical,” Eden murmured. “Ral, please keep your weapon on the glinn as we go.”
“With pleasure, Commander.”
“So…” Eden started to walk. “Stealing artifacts to sell as a side job. Murdering scientists to get your hands on more of them.”
“That wasn’t me,” the Cardassian replied. “That was my business partner. Virnid. I had no plans to spill Cardassian blood, but when word came that the Breen had taken the relics from the man we sold them to…”
“Better to clear away any potential witnesses,” Eden murmured. “Tell me about Virnid?”
“I don’t think so,” the Cardassian said. “I’m not saying any more…”
Eden sighed. “Suit yourself. I’m going to be turning you in to Cardassian authorities once we’re out of here regardless.” She shook her head. “Speaking of…”
They were there. Bottom of the hole. Eden tapped her badge. “Enigma to Healer’s Hope. Three to beam up.”