Kayla: By His Will
In the 28th century, the technology of rejuvenation allows for immortality. This device is also used for sentencing as well. A penitatas; a criminal that is sent back to childhood to live a highly strict and disciplined life to start anew. (Story Fifty-One)
Concept by Lurking Dragon
Kayla and story by Professor Bob
More Kayla Stuff!: www.Professor-Bob.net
A noise interrupted the calming drone of the U.S.S Capitol's warp drive, bringing a twitch to Kayla's eyelids. The sound of the starship's propulsion had been the only thing keeping her in the lap of slumber once her mind grew restless, away from the comfort of her own bed. Kayla's left ear flicked gently in unison with the chirping noise, beckoning her eyes to open and reality to flow back into her consciousness. With that reality, so did the radiating ache from her bottom and upper thighs which reappeared with a throb that made the girl squeeze her eyes back closed. Huffing out a groggy growl, half awake, Kayla reached back and stroked her left paw's fingers through her fur, gripping at the more tender bruises located at the lower center of her backside. Having taken a deep breath, chest tight from a fairly poor nap, she opened her eyes to find nothing had changed. The window above peered out at the streaks of rainbow passing by, leaving the room as dimly lit as Kayla previously remembered it.
Out in the open space of the crew quarters, the more awake members of the trio sought to examine the source of the informative chirp. Jacob had already begun pacing and examining random things throughout the room prior to the audible disturbance, trying to keep his young mind occupied while confined to such a small space. He was first to track the source of the chirping to the quarters' replicator, stroking his muzzle out of curiosity as Emily stepped up behind the Karrian boy to join him.
"Oh I see. That's a great use of space; my office didn't have that.", Jacob commented aloud without elaborating, being the first voice Kayla had heard since she laid down in bed after being sent there by her mother. Paw giving one last squeeze beneath the base of her Aspatrian tail, her muzzle curled into a light smile upon hearing his voice. That certainly perked her ears up, prompting the fox to roll over onto her left and prop her body up; feeling the fur of her cheeks scraggly from resting on the pillow. Still in only the t-shirt she was sent to bed with, tail draped over her legs, she observed with her body and mind stiff from just waking.
"I had a separate panel for this, behind my desk.", the old Starfleet boy got to chuckle a bit for the first time in a while, having had sulked after the debt of his errors were paid for. It was too awkward for him to strike up conversation with the human that had only briefly ago tanned him beneath the tail, with just cause. Feeling weak and foolish was a thing Jacob often ran away from, opting to sit quietly and pretend to calibrate his medical tricorder. In truth, he just didn't want to move from the position that his backside and tail felt decent in, leaning forward on the room's sofa to favor his undisciplined thighs. Time and care allowed for the ache to soothe down without resorting to cheating by healing his welts and aches in the bathroom with his equipment - something he did not have the heart to do, after what he had done.
Now uplifted a little at the change of pace and the opportunity to return to being useful as the good Commander Vasse, his right paw left his muzzle once he had read the displayed keys beside the room's replicator. A brief tap of his fingers upon two separate keys made all of the colored keys disappear from the flat panel, acknowledged by one of the starship computer's longer chirps. In an instant, the key pad was a video screen, looking up from Lieutenant Brayden's lower right via the arm of a bridge command chair. A much more personal means of communication.
"Jacob, Emily.", he greeted the two poorly lit figures in the dim room he was looking into from a small screen next to his right hand. Blaine sounded relaxed and positive, making this a casual sort of impromptu visit upon their wall. But, as soon as he spoke, he tilted his head closer to the screen on the arm of his chair, looking more closely.
"No Kayla?", Blaine asked with a note of surprise, not thinking a Penitatas would be that far from her parent. Considering she was the subject expert for his mission, the information he was going to provide pertained as much to her as it did her mother and companion. Over on the bed, the inquiry had Kayla moving. Taking that as a note to get up and terminate her bedridden status, the fox got her footpaws on the floor and began walking with a stagger from being stiff. On Blaine's small view screen, Jacob and Emily turned their heads as Kayla stumbled into sight just a step in front of them, rubbing her muzzle to wake up faster.
"I'm here.", Kayla replied with a weak wave of her left paw, since the right one stood beside her muzzle trying to hold back a yawn. Staring for a moment, Lieutenant Brayden adopted a light hearted smile across his face. People did not generally stand in front of him half naked as Kayla was, wearing nothing more than a white t-shirt and a bunch of unkempt orange fur, much less casually.
"And what have you been doing?", Blaine made a subdued chortle with, making an open handed gesture towards the lower quadrant of his screen to try and visually refer to Kayla's lack of pants without saying it out loud on the Capitol's bridge. Kayla caught his expression and tone, running her right paw over the bridge of her muzzle and through the fur atop her head with a questionable 'huh?', pushing her ears down which flicked right back up upon her paw's groggy passing. Being a bright girl and able to tell where eyes were looking, Kayla scrunched her face and sheepishly placed her paws over her groin. A bare furred Aspatrian was no big deal to her, but she was getting older and was slowly growing more accustomed to Earth traditions than those she remembered. Once things were so bluntly pointed out, being disrobed below the waist suddenly made it feel like her personal bits were a heck of a lot more apparent.
"The things Penitatas do best.", Kayla replied with a mildly embarrassed tone, being that she wasn't trying to look poorly in front of a man that once saved her life and rescued her from the cold clutches of despair. With the tired, aching sort of look Kayla's eyes had in the low light of the room he was looking into, Blaine was able to well understand what the young girl's words meant. To them, he gave a light nod of his head - not being one to judge over the matters in which he was not privy to. At least his criminal expert seemed more awake now that he gave her a minor startle in the aftermath of a swatting and subsequent nap.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Miss Ackart.", Blaine offered in his condolences to her, as other sounds from the Capitol's bridge leaked into his communications line. Kayla simply nodded her head softly a few times with her eyes lowered a little, paws remaining over her pelvis and the open air where her thighs began. She appreciated his words, and the fact he reminded her she wasn't wearing pants. This was not exactly her house; being on a starship changed matters to a degree. Kayla had enough on her mind as it was. As if to say hello, though, Emily placed her left hand on Kayla's right shoulder. Welcomed back to the world as it was before she was punished for trespassing on the U.S.S Capitol's engineering deck, Kayla turned her eyes up to her human parent and gave her a lighter, more cheerful look to return the sentiment. Jacob was happy of course to have her back at his side, but his expression remained more docile in the pair's silent family moment; tail completely still.
"I thought the three of you would appreciate an update. We're close to entering DeltaStar's system, so we will be dropping out of warp momentarily. Once we arrive, we'll send an escort to take you to transporter room one. Be ready.", Lieutenant Brayden provided as an advisement, making a firm gesture of his hand at the last part of his speech to emphasize that they would need to leave immediately to be in sync with his own away-team. Jacob nodded his head approvingly as he typically would, but Kayla nearly cocked her head. She had not realized she slept the bulk of their trip. Nearly three hours had passed if that was the case. No wonder she felt stiff and groggy.
"I'll make sure of it sir.", Emily assured politely as Jacob and Kayla's guardian, taking her hand from her daughter's shoulder. As she responded however, a brown scaled figure leaned over the side of Blaine's bridge chair. A large seeming Drakonian claw settled into the lower left of their visual area, with Captain Ti'krex craning his long neck over the arm of the chair by Blaine's shoulder. Sharing the same tiny view screen from another chair brought a hint of amusement to Kayla's face, finding the Captain of the ship to be a light sort of man with his guests.
"We'll remain near the DeltaStar banking platform to provide assistance and to fulfill our promise to the bank to act as a defense sentry on their behalf. The U.S.S Tillman will be joining us once it rendezvous at DeltaStar.", the ship's own Captain added to Blaine's information, doing his own part in conjunction with Starfleet's investigative party. Having so many critical systems interrupted and weapons compromised, DeltaStar could not stand on it's own two feet very well while repairs were underway. Keeping such information under wraps was integral to the Federation, but it could only work for so long while the financial workers scrambled and discovered the source of their inability to trade and conduct any semblance of business.
"Yes Captain.", Jacob acknowledged boldly out of old, respectful habits. It was important while wearing his badge and rank pin. Captain Ti'krex gave the mixed-species, ragtag family a pleasant expression for a Drakonian, sliding his claw from Blaine's chair to sit back in his own. Now visible once more, Lieutenant Brayden looked no worse for wear after sharing his video screen.
"Meet you shortly.", Blaine closed their meeting with, tapping a few keys just below their field of view to close the communications window. With a double beep, the replicator's colorful array of keys reappeared upon the panel, stealing away more light from the room and the active sounds of life. No bright light to shine off their eyes, it was back to the calm quiet of their sanctuary tucked into the side of the ship. It would be their last moments away from the bustle of activity.
Kayla's paws left her groin region, loosely returning to her sides as she headed back for the bed to retrieve her clothing and fur-brush. Emily followed her daughter along the few paces, taking a quick seat upon the bed while the smaller fox knelt down at her side with a slow sigh, trying to relax as she collected the articles under her right arm. Kayla looked worn with her fur a mess, likely feeling a steady ache while working on her knees with her thighs well pounded by the same fur-brush she was taking into her paw.
"Are you okay, Kayla?", Emily asked outright, looking down at her furred daughter in an attempt to break the ice and make sure she was alright. Remaining near the replicator, intentionally staying out of the way in his bashful nervousness over his actions, Jacob stuffed his paws into the pockets of his slacks and leaned against the wall to watch and listen. In the quiet, he looked more somber than Kayla's own expression she turned and gave her mother. The words were sentiment she could at least appreciate, shifting the tip of her Aspatrian tail against the thin carpet of the crew quarters where it laid against the ground.
"Just need to get the blood flowing.", Kayla responded with a natural tone, giving a light shake of her head as she began to stand back up upon her bare feet. She did not sound too worse for wear, but Kayla's aching body languages proved to be a note of concern for Emily. Her eyes felt just slightly listless those moments Emily got to glance into those tired blue pools. As her daughter turned and began a slow walk to the bathroom, the human turned to the younger Karrian across the room. The thought she had conflicted with her beliefs of being a Penitatas parent, but this was a time for leniency for both Medicalos and Penitatas alike. Kayla was soon going to be providing a service which earned her comfort in light of the pressure and inner reservations she may have very well been feeling. A small girl, on a big ship. There was no reason she needed to walk off, tail hanging, to potentially have an additional weight on her mind. Jacob and Kayla paid for their mistake well enough, and there was no doubt they at least learned from their own doings.
"Would you be able to heal Kayla and yourself up before we need to leave Jacob? Take the edge off?", Emily leaned forward on the bed to request and offer, both arms resting firmly upon her knees. Her tone eluded to there being no catch, and was parentally soft enough to stop Kayla's trek and for Jacob to lift his head with a surprised note on his face.
"No reason to risk you both not feeling your best. I just didn't think to bring nano-lotion in our rush today.", the human parent gave as additional explanation and commentary, hoping the pair would step past the duty she had to do those few hours ago. Their young minds could not focus on too many things at once without causing undue stress and aggravation. Forgiveness and a couple of warm words did wonders, as it managed to make both the boy and girl under her charge crack a small smile. For Kayla, she was happy to be rid of the nagging throb that gave her a nasty greeting when she awoke, while Jacob was thankful he could provide his partner some assistance and be completely done with the aftermath of his error. It would not have truly been over for him until Kayla was no longer feeling residual pain stemming from his own actions and unknowingly poor encouragement. Even Jacob had the capability to not think things through while excited in the shell of a seven year olds mind; something he was hurt to discover.
"I would. That's very kind of you.", Jacob got off the wall, welcomingly accepting her generous offer with a much lighter sounding voice. Slipping his green scaled paws from his pockets, he un-holstered his medical tricorder and tiny cylindrical scanner, following a gesture towards Kayla that gave him permission to follow her into the bathroom to do his old duty.
"Is that okay?", Emily turned her head to ask across the poorly lit room, careful of her daughter's privacy and the things that often made her uncomfortable; such as doctors getting too close for comfort. Oh how little did that poor mother know when it came to her their fairly hidden relationship. Kayla had to hold back a snicker at the thought of objecting, giving a dismissive wave of her left paw while her right arm held her jeans, underwear, and brush.
"No objections here. I could use it.", the fox affirmed, giving a shake of her head and a tired, but pleased sounding voice. Kayla was holding back her thoughts and responses but was a step in the right direction, able to see her daughter and close friend side by side again as the Karrian joined her. Emily had to guess her young hacker of a Penitatas would feel better once she was actually on DeltaStar and able to do her work. Maybe the anxiety was akin to the old parental trick of making a child wait a long, undetermined period before receiving a spanking. Kayla had to have felt that way at least a little at her current age.
"I'll stay right here. Make it fast you two.", the pair's parental figure asked of them, sliding back further on the bed by the help of her hands. While Kayla and Jacob stepped casually and lightly to the open sliding door of the bathroom, having had turned with a thankful nod of their heads as both rejuves were accustomed to, Emily turned her body and laid back to rest on the bed in her daughter's absence. She had a few butterflies to alleviate, like the room's younger occupants for their varying reasons. Only a pace behind Kayla, eager to spend a private moment with her, his eyes locked on the center of her back. In his right paw, his thumb stroked nervously at the medal casing of his scanner as an uncomfortable reaction, fearing Kayla's potential resentment, rejection, or at least the displeasure with him he felt was more than warranted. Above all else, he just wanted to say he was sorry, and not getting to was eating at him.
Beyond the entryway to the crew quarters' bathroom, the area darkened past what was visible without the meager, gentle window light from passing stars and the vessel's own warp streaks it created through interactions with subspace. Not one of the three felt the need to raise the lights and rob themselves of such a calm beauty before serious non-civilian matters came before them. Jacob stepped into the darkness behind Kayla, seeing the soft, fluid motions of her tail fur disappear last as it trailed behind her, close to her well disciplined backside. Leaving the door open was not going to solve the light issue alone, prompting Jacob to turn his head up to speak to the computer's voice system without being too loud.
"Computer, lights, fifty percent.", he spoke at only enough volume to be heard, low and somber; very light in nature. Gradually the lights raised to half their potential brightness, lighting the bathroom for their eyes while leaving it dim enough to not bother their enlarged pupils. The light's touch upon the walls revealed their fairly plain grey textured panels, looking to have a thin carpeting over the wider portions whine the joints of each had a strip of dulled metal. A dark counter with as lighter top situated below a mirror and beside a toilet unit and empty-looking shower made this a basic, yet comfortable bathroom. Kayla took in the sights for a quick moment in the wake of her partner's words, finding very little color in the low light as she placed her left paw on the counter and dropped her brush and clothes upon it. Thinking little of it, the mildly groggy and distracted fox slid her fingers from the smooth, cold faux granite countertop and turned around with a shift of her hip to be with Jacob and see his face.
As soon as she did, Kayla was grasped tightly in Jacob's arms. His green scaled Karrian muzzle over her right shoulder, he hugged her as soon as he could with his equipment still in his paws. Kayla's look and eyes spoke of surprise, raising her arms to hug her companion in return, locking her paws against the small of the boy's back.
"Kayla, I'm so sorry. I never imagined I would have gotten you into such trouble.", Jacob was able to release from his chest, barely raising his voice as he spoke over Kayla's shoulder. His chin shifted the collar of her shirt slightly, tickling at her fur fibers beneath. Hearing and feeling her companion forlorn and guilty brought on a deeper, yet still weak sigh from Kayla's nose. There was no reason to feel that way, at least she thought. Clouded and confused with heavier thoughts coupled with Jacob's sweet, ever focused loyalty, the silence brought on an emotional response the young Aspatrian did not expect. Against her male companion's left shoulder, where her muzzle ended up, she began to snicker ever so slightly in amusement; inadvertently adding a contrast to their individual worries and tensions.
"A brushing isn't the end of the world for me. Forget about it.", Kayla tried to ease his worries, speaking lightly with a small smile in light of his company and care. Jacob's paws left her back after a moment, giving the fox the opportunity to look into his face and see how he felt more directly once the embrace ended. For a moment, he just stared quietly, looking hurt and surprised to hear such a response. He could not hide the fact he was trying to read her expression and thoughts, as the two rejuves spent their first moment alone since their final stroll back to their crew quarters.
"Don't shrug this off. I caused you a lot of pain.", Jacob seemed desperate to say, as if trying to convince her to be displeased with him. It was obvious in his voice and the way his fingers curled around his medical instruments. While the light was not bright, each of them could see that the other had not shed a tear in quite some time. Neither was worse for wear, technically, but the matter remained. Kayla placed her right paw on the bathroom's countertop, trying to find some words while the cold of the floor chilled her bare footpaw pads. Long naps made the fox feel heavy headed, not so much clear and rested.
"There isn't any reason to punish yourself when someone has already done that work for you.", she raised her left paw and tried to explain from a Penitatas' point of view. Kayla hadn't needed to give discipline related advice since she sat beside him on the school hover-bus those months ago, where the Karrian really looked distraught in the throws of his own criminal sentence he never earned. Leaning forward with a simple curl of her back, Kayla gave the end of Jacob's snout a peck with her lips, right between his reptilian nostrils as she tended to do while "trying to be cute".
"You showed me around and were there for me. I can't really ask for anything else in my position, you know? We're a good team, acting as a check and balance for each other, but it doesn't work when we both don't see the danger in what it is we're doing. Just as much my fault as it is your's, in that sense. I'm a prisoner of the paddle, it was bound to happen.", Kayla opened into conversation, trying to find her lighter, more casual side in Jacob's presence rather than some of the insecurities she held about where she was. Moments from DeltaStar, a place she was tied to criminally, it was not exactly her idea of a vacation. Not even the Corrections Council lifting her technology ban was much of a blessing, faced with a task she would have preferred avoiding if she felt like she had more of a choice. Ethics were a fickle thing.
"Wish you would at least not call yourself a prisoner.", the Karrian grumbled, raising his right paw, medical scanner included, to scratch it's emitter beneath his right eye. Words having an effect, his tone lightened even if he acted like Kayla calling herself a prisoner was an act of self-demeaning. Leaving her right paw upon the dark grey and white marbled counter, Kayla made a face with her muzzle and shrugged openly, not thinking she was saying anything adversely bad about herself. She at least appreciated the events that befell Jacob in wake of taking her to see the Capitol's warp core seriously disrupted his comfort and self-image, leaving him nervous until he made peace with the apology he provided.
"Penitatas are prisoners. I'm a criminal; I'd be doing something better right now if I was allowed. Just because I'm not in a cage doesn't mean I'm not forcibly confined to my body and the decisions of others.", Kayla began speaking with a brief shake of her head, adding a light hearted chuckle half way through. There wasn't much else to add but a shrug in the sterile, low light that surrounded them on such a crazy day. From bustling to calm, it was taxing on their young minds and bodies. Jacob was having trouble accepting his wise old personality and mind could be swayed by his age. While remaining the man he was, even if he was young, he still hated to imagine his decisions could be influenced by outside sources. Trying to impress Kayla and posture like that? Sure it felt good while he was doing it, but having some sense spanked into you crushed notions of adulthood in their tracks. Yet, not long ago was the day he could have wandered the U.S.S Apollo and laid down orders in all sections by the discretion and leadership of it's Captain and First Officer. For that, in a way, it was no wonder he knowingly disobeyed. Such a surrounding stirred pleasant memories of grandeur, but most of all, comforted a heart that was made weary through tragedy. A familiar comfort like the arms of a parent; the security and reassurance all rejuves required.
Dropping the matter with a mild hum, Jacob tilted and lowered his head with a less than pleased appearance, using an upward roll of his right index finger with his scanner tucked into his palm. Taking the gesture to turn around as being a good sign, Kayla allowed her little crack of a smile to return while following his request. Both paws ending up against the smooth countertop to the right side of the sink, her small stature prevented any sort of bending over as she looked out at her reflection. Her orange fur and white shirt, with the bare bits not visible being below counter level. After a rough morning where her fears and reservations were essentially dismissed, it was nice to see the reflection of her own body and mind and be reminded of her own appearance. It gave her an opportunity to see her weak smile, and meek look.
"Are you talking in general, or are you really taking about today?", Jacob decided to join her in meaningful conversation as he began to get down on his knees behind Kayla, using the side of the counter for support. Trying to look back over her left shoulder, Kayla hiked her tail up without needing to be told, to give him proper access to do his work. The white tip of her tail brushed by the shoulder of Jacob's tan shirt, giving the Karrian the usual scent of her clean fur as it wafted by his muzzle.
"Wouldn't you rather make a witty quip about being under my tail?", the fox tried to evade, mixing humor in with a lighter attitude. Jacob always admired her backside, coupled with the more sexually charged preferences the man had. However, the good doctor was not as easily swayed while doing his work. After the error that caused such pain, he felt he owed it to her to have a more direct conversation about how she felt. It did not look like Kayla could be as open with her parental figures than she could be with others. There was a fear of judgment and disappointment, the boy had to figure, raising his right paw to start at the top left of Kayla's bottom - right up close to the base of her tail.
"While the view is nice, no, not right now.", he commented fairly directly, not shaking his head or much averting his eyes from his work. The scanner began emitting a red light and a tiny high pitched sound, while his snout turned to his tricorder to start the dermal repairs necessary to heal away the welts, bruising, and capillary ruptures a hard scuffle with the flat of a wooden brush frequently caused.
"I'd rather hear about what's on your mind.", Jacob affirmed out of worry for her, being that she had been left alone to her own thoughts for quite some time. While he was a Penitatas, he became well aware of the infinite loops of agonizing regrets and fear that can torment the mind of a rejuve. The way Kayla acted was a bit more than being groggy, at least he thought. This could not have been the easiest of all days. Kayla turned her head back forward, cutting that little smile loose from her muzzle. In the mirror, her reflection looked more like her deeper insides felt. Sullen and thoughtful. It kept her quiet for some moments, hearing the light sound of Jacob's cylindrical emitter over the duller sounds further out in the ship. It made her feel a bit more isolated and vulnerable, uncertain as to what her involvement and future meant doing the things she was.
"I'm a hacker that doesn't want to be a hacker. This isn't my comfort zone, being paraded around by Starfleet and forced to visit a place I terrorized. Never had to visit a victim before. I don't belong.", Kayla held her paws more firmly to the cool countertop, holding her un-modest stance for Jacob's doctoring. Her voice was firm, but quiet. Subdued. Across her battered backside the color red illuminated her fur, leaving a warming sensation as the emitter slowly trailed along while Jacob performed his task of bringing her comfort.
"Now that's getting somewhere. You're not doing the kind of hacking you used to though.", the Karrian boy beneath her tail spoke, trailing further into open conversation. While he tried to sound optimistic and positive about her actions, just like Lieutenant Brayden, it only served to make Kayla lower her head and huff through her nostrils gruffly. This time she could see the curl of her brow and a bit of those inner feelings in her reflection.
"Everyone needs to understand that I don't see that same damn distinction. Only just over two years ago, I was on the other side, just like the hacker that attacked DeltaStar. Just because I'm grasping the concept of right and wrong, it doesn't mean I'm ready to go back to being a tool. I was kidnapped in order to be one, and it's no different to make me a tool for the other side if I still feel obligated to be one.", Kayla closed her eyes to answer, choosing to not look into her own reflection while using such low, shaky words. They rang with a mild degree of fear and disdain for her position, which finally did avert Jacob's eyes. Looking up from her left side, he gazed up over the counter to see the look on her face with help of the mirror. It was hard to say something to such words. She was helping to catch a criminal, but felt like a tool? Did he really support just the same thing her kidnappers Maxwell and Tyson desired? It was the fox's own mind, stuck here standing in the bathroom of a starship so far from home.
"You don't feel that strongly, do you? Is helping them really so wrong? I don't understand.", Jacob tried to pry further into, trying with little avail to keep his eyes on his work when such a notion had been injected into his heart. He encouraged her to do this, so if she felt forced to be here, it was partly his fault. Kayla's feelings were delicate during such a trying time, wrestling with past memories and reflections of the present. Opening her eyes back up, Kayla looked back into that image of herself and surroundings, making a small shake of her head. It was hard to explain the many thoughts that went through her mind, clouded by the fact it was the mere age of eight, filled with the memories and aged personality of one much older. Kindness mixed with remembering her darker side. That cold sneer she could make, when she thought she one upped an institution or system that stood between her and what she believed was being happy. She had seen that in the worn mirror in her own home. It was a world apart from the somber stare she shared with the mirror here, on the U.S.S Capitol.
"Of course I want to help.", Kayla raised her muzzle and assured with an airy voice.
"But I also want to be left in peace. My idea of being a good person, and taking the lessons I've been taught as a Penitatas, is to put my knowledge aside. I'm still learning, and still serving my punishment, but I have come far enough to think on my own a little.", she felt it prudent to affirm, shifting her tail at it's base as a means to stretch it's muscle that held it curled for Jacob's benefit. That much, Jacob thought he may be able to understand. To abandon her ability was her own decision, as a reforming criminal. Maybe saying no to Blaine the first time around was not just a lapse of judgment, but proof that Kayla was gaining the ability to make them. It was a hopeful, if not interesting thought. But still, the old doctor was happy to be at her side to work for a cause. Taking his time to think of what she said, Jacob continued moving the scanner and it's emitter, following in lines straight across until moving a row lower. Nearing her legs, Kayla's bottom was feeling much less like a "solid rock", relieved of pressure and bruising from her tailhole right on down.
"The Lieutenant guilt you into it?", Jacob questioned out of concern for her thoughts, turning his eyes up to peer around her side again, trying to catch a glimpse of her face. From his viewpoint close to the base of Kayla's tail, he could see her hang her head in heavier thought, giving it a small shake. He wasn't trying to frustrate her, if that was what he was doing. The ends of Jacob's maw curled a bit, catching a small, worryful frown while his emitter trailed along Kayla's thighs; welts shrinking and healing beneath the red light and command of the Karrian's tricorder.
"Sort of, but also no, I guess. The world does not need more hackers, it would be nice to be rid of another. I also owed him, for the things he did to find me and rescue me. Didn't expect to wake up in a hospital. Kind of thought I'd die listening to their engines hovering above me, so close, but too far.", Kayla trailed off into her thoughts, ending those words with a sigh and an extra glimpse into the mirror. She imaged her mangled left ear, and all the blood, before turning back over her shoulder to speak to her companion more directly.
"I don't want to disappoint anyone. Just not thrilled to be here, even if I'm willing to do it.", she lowered her voice, making it sound much lighter. Ringing of honesty and a solid try to convey what she felt, Jacob was quick to nod his head approvingly of her words, not wishing for her to strain her mind any further than it likely already had.
"You're in an unfamiliar place outside of your comfort zone. I can appreciate that.", Jacob lifted his medical tricorder towards her in an act of understanding gesture, so she would not have to feel alone. Not with him around. His eyes remained peering up long enough to catch the fox's slow nod, before working to complete the regenerative and restorative efforts he had been performing. The bathroom became quiet, giving the boy enough time to revive a bit of his tiny smile, hoping Kayla would be alright as long as he stayed close.
"Do you still want me to compliment your butt?", he decided to throw out there for a lighter humor's sake, running his emitter slightly towards both Kayla's inner thighs to remove a bit of sting and welting swats that ended up a few degrees off target. Kayla closed her eyes, lifting her right paw to her muzzle with a tiny chuckle from her chest. At least someone had the decency to question her feelings. She knew she always had come off as strong and confident, but she was allowed to waver and be uncertain, right? Being a legend made expectations from others, perhaps.
"You'll make it blush.", Kayla joked back at him, dropping her tail for it to gently lend against Jacob's head. Against his brown hair, her orange and white strands of long silky fur draped over his muzzle and tickled at his scale, bringing it a silent smile where he knelt, barely able to see. No, Kayla certainly wasn't upset with him. She needed more credit indeed. Jacob blew a bit of air from his nostrils, puffing some of Kayla's fur out of the way in order to talk. Inadvertently, it also ruffled a bit of more sensitive fur directly ahead of his snout. Looking over her shoulder, Kayla just made a toothy, playfully young expression. Jacob could make a lonely predicament a bit less mentally taxing.
"Then give her a try. Should feel a lot better.", Jacob encouraged, throwing her tail off his muzzle with a little toss of his head. As he rose to his feet, Kayla took her paws from the bathroom counter and reached back to give her bottom a quick examination. Rubbing a couple of places and poking with the tips of her fingers, she tried to find remnants of bruising deeper below the skin. The area felt worn, and her fur follicles tender, but the pain itself had gone away. All that was left were residual impulses and weakened cells from their rapid repair efforts. Standing at her side, Jacob gave the girl a pat on the back, looking into the mirror along with her.
Withdrawing her paws from the cheeks of her bottom, Kayla faced forward with a small grin. It still felt tired, but she was not left to stew over her thoughts. She turned her head to kiss Jacob on his cheek; the pair sharing a quieter moment before situations again changed. Remaining in her Karrian companion's company, the Aspatrian worked on dressing and brushing the fur on her head. Jacob had undid his belt and slacks, pulling his shirt free to bare his bottom for the second time in one day, but thankfully for his own attentions and not that of a parental figure. Not needing the same amount of time Kayla did, he leaned against the counter while trying to hold his scanner beneath his tail, making his green scale glow red dully in the comfortably low light of the bathroom. The emitter of his cylindrical device was not the only thing red under his tail, as Kayla got to see his reddened, welted backside. Not nearly close to what she got, and well on par for an error caused by a normal rejuve, but she respected the ache her fur brush could cause. Lifting her legs to pull her jeans up her legs and over her pink cotton underwear she loathed, the metal bits of her clothing clacked and clanked in her efforts to dress.
"You handled that well, you know. People don't stick up for me like that.", Kayla commented as her blue denim jeans slid up the last bit of her thighs and she could stand up straight again to reach back and latch the button above her tail. Such a compliment made Jacob chuckle sheepishly, being that his mistake was still fresh on his mind. He hated feeling so foolish and young.
"Didn't want you to suffer because I wanted you to have fun.", he spoke down into his tricorder, keeping an eye on it's information and output screen to move his scanner accurately. The base of his tail flicked as the emitter moved along, straining his arm to do it on his own. It would have been hard to control it if he enlisted Kayla's help, and in the end, he didn't much care if he lifted his idle aches away. Jacob still felt he deserved it, even if he couldn't openly punish himself in Kayla's presence.
"I like to imagine I learn my lessons. We'll spend time together here in the room when we get back.", Kayla added a small positive note to in her voice, slipping the metal button of her jeans into it's hole to secure it. Jacob had no objections to playing it safe. Adults at heart but children in mind, they had more than enough sense to enjoy themselves in the manners that wouldn't cause any more unnecessary ripples. Looking over her fur in the mirror, Kayla checked to make sure she looked decent for what would be her first "real job", sort of speak. The kind people would, with any hope, appreciate.
As Jacob finished his work and the scanner's emitter ceased it's red light, Kayla's right ear flicked. Catching her attention, the girl made a questioning hum, keeping her eyes focused on the mirror while moving her ears. Pulling his briefs and slacks back up over his hips to get himself back into proper dress, he looked over to Kayla while his paws worked. It was obvious when a sound caught her curiosity.
"I think we just dropped out of warp.", Kayla's small voice said, sounding louder in the small bathroom. Jacob wasn't so much surprised her sensitive, directional ears could pick up a change in the flow of warp plasma and the overall dynamics of the ship once the warp core winded down to normal operation. His paws quickly worked to tuck in his shirt and button his slacks, to get his equipment holstered at his waist again. While he hopped on his bare footclaws to hurry his slacks along, Kayla set her fur brush down with a light clack against the faux marbled countertop to step back over to the entryway to the bathroom. Looking out into the room, there was much more light than before. Placing a paw on the doorway, the fox looked around the corner out into the room and it's windows on the wall to her left. Long and rounded, they let in a brilliant array of yellows and oranges, like a sort of far away fire. Jacob turned on his feet while correcting his underwear through his slacks and putting his tricorder away to see an awestruck look on Kayla's face. The various colors shined off her blue eyes and clothing with her maw open just slightly, as if fixed on what it was she was staring at. Once her bare Aspatrian feet began wandering out to the room's windows, Jacob hurried his efforts along to keep with her.
By the time he got out into the room with his clothing prim and proper as before, Kayla was just placing her paws upon the long, clear aluminum alloy window. Right where she stood earlier to watch the Capitol leave Earth, Kayla stared out to make sense of what she saw and the memories it flooded into her. With a quick walk, paws finding their ways into the pockets of his slacks, Jacob joined Kayla at her side where they stood only four hours earlier. Even Emily was sitting up in the room's bed, looking out into the unique expanse of nearby space as it struck her that this place was something that fell at her daughter's knees, time and time again. An unknowing testament to Packet-Storm, that spoke volumes of her true abilities.
Glowing against their muzzles, both Kayla and Jacob looked out at the two stars shining in the far distance; one more red, and one more orange, both to their left and right areas of view. Coming up quickly on impulse power, the U.S.S Capitol approached the DeltaStar banking platform with it's starboard side facing the massive station. After all these years, Kayla did not know what DeltaStar looked like. Named for it's three neighboring stars, the station was constructed in the middle to utilize it's central location and the security having stars nearby created in making specific approach routes to a place integral to the entire Alpha Quadrant. It was not like anything a civilian or resident of Earth would have seen. While the stars were still a far distance away, their colors and light mixed to reflect off the hull of the Capitol lightly.
DeltaStar was more than Kayla had imagined from diving into their computer systems and seeing feeds from security cameras. Cyberspace was much different from reality. Lined with dark grey and black panels, the station appeared thick and armored. Like a flattened top, a child's toy, it was thicker along it's middle. Smoothly, the structure flowed into it's top and bottom, both a bit different from each other. The top of the station was taller, while the bottom appeared more blunt with an assortment of arrays. It appeared dark, having few windows, aside from a long promenade along the very outside of the middle of the station and it's structures rising up from the top. Sunlight from multiple stars shined off it's long phaser arcs along it's top from what they could see, highlighting the fact the station was heavily armed with numerous shield generators intricately littering it's surface. Some protrusions looked to be turrets - much more direct phaser weaponry with internal focusing optics; a note that only Jacob had enough experience to notice. DeltaStar's only sign of life was a slowly blinking white light from the lower extension of the station, off a long protrusion like an antenna. Kayla closed the bit of her maw she had open, curling her muzzle just a little.
"It's a fortress.", she mumbled in disbelief, balling her paws up against the smooth starship window. The light twinkled off her dull Aspatrian claws, just as it did the darker hull of DeltaStar station. It sat there in the dead of space like an ominous dark shell, motionless and crippled. She had the ability to take down such a beast? Diagrams did not paint such a vivid picture as her own eyes could.
"The station has a lot of redundancies. It's power systems must be in bad shape for the station to be this disabled.", Jacob added to her thoughts with his voice lowered, trying to match her own quiet tone for her comfort. Kayla shook her head a little, inevitably thumping her forehead against the clear aluminum reinforced window.
"It didn't look this frightening from a computer standpoint. All of the vaults and primary systems are in the interior of the station from what I remember. The outer sections are security corridors that can be locked down, I presume for physical robbery attempts.", Kayla crossed her arms, taking a deep breath as she allowed her knowledge to return to the front of her mind. It was storied in her memories, having had prodded around their systems enough to have a general idea of how the station operated. Though several paces from the young pair, Emily could still hear her daughter's words.
"They did not make a mistake in asking you for help.", she did not hide her thoughts in saying, impressed. The sentiment made Kayla a notch higher on the uneasy scale, but being her parent, Emily was always going to have expectations of some kind. Closing her eyes a moment to detach her mind from the massive, sprawling sight of DeltaStar, Kayla turned away from the window and took a few steps on her bare Aspatrian feet.
"I hope not.", Kayla replied to that with open worry, despite trying to hold on to her more serious tone and some semblance of inner confidence. She felt like a small girl on this ship as it was. DeltaStar was much more daunting, linked darkly to her past. Kayla hated looking at the blackened station, having been involved with it so many times. It centered many of her battles with morality, ethics, and her crimes themselves. For those next moments, the Penitatas looked thoughtful, with the lower end of her muzzle and maw tucked into her tight paw; like how a human would look, thinking with their hand slightly over their mouth. Emily looked out over the station and light radiating from the background, locked on it's link to Kayla as many others would likely be, while Jacob just stood beside the window, giving Kayla a moment of peace.
Within little time of their arrival, not wasting a moment after coming out of warp, there was a chime from the room's door. Their escort had arrived as prompt as promised, being two red shouldered Starfleet security officers. While the small family of sorts stepped from their room to be taken to their destination, Kayla raised a brow and gave them a hard look while she stepped by, finding a note of irritation in assuming two security officers were unnecessary for your typical civilian family. She just hated being treated and seen in such ways because she was a Penitatas. Granted she was a criminal, but having an officer walking in front of them and one behind them felt like a prisoner transfer. Jacob could see it not only irritated her, but beyond her looks, a closed paw to her chest showed she was quietly scared, and upset. It was no wonder she felt out of place, being marched along corridors. While it appeared casual to them, it wasn't the same way for her.
"It's just because we're going to a transporter room.", Jacob looked to his side and tried to cheer her up while walking along, after leaving the turbo-lift on another deck on their way to transporter room one. Kayla did not sigh, or give much of an outward response of comfort in those words. Yes, a Penitatas in a transporter room, sure, what a threat. Where would she escape to? The freezing cold vacuum of space? Kayla would pass on that. Now, if only these starship corridors would stop closing in around her. Nervous about transporters and DeltaStar in general, this was like the fear before a needle prick.
"I still don't like it.", Kayla griped at whisper level, giving a light toss of her left paw over her shoulder. As if out of a subconscious shame, her paws slipped into her pockets to hide the Penitatas markings that showed through her fur. It must have been hard to show trust and respect when rules and regulations were abound. Nobody meant to hurt her feelings, but come on.
Lead into a pair of automatic sliding doors like the others on board the U.S.S Capitol, the mother and her entourage stepped into the ship's primary transporter room. Unlike the transport out of her home, they would be standing on an actual platform this time around for a more traditional transport from ship to site. Just as she saw on the dry-dock in Earth's orbit, a transporter technician stood behind a wide console, surrounded by controls with additional monitors behind him, colored with vibrant blues in typical Federation configuration. With him off to their right of the door, this room's design had the transporter pad elevated straight ahead of them. Emily couldn't stop looking back or over to her side to check on the location of her daughter, acting like a timid mother hen.
"Step right on up there. Lieutenant Brayden's team transported down a few moments ago.", the yellow shouldered Starfleet transporter technician said from behind his console, only lifting his eyes and not his head to speak. Calibrating his transporter and preparing it for another go, Kayla's ears could hear the terminal's beeps and chirps from the taps of his fingers against the flat control panel. Looking up at her mother, Kayla was quickly given a motion by her parent to go first, with Emily trying to keep her younger charges in sight. Trying not to gripe any further or say a word, with the security officers whom accompanied them standing beside the door, Kayla forced her shaky legs onto the transporter pad. Lit with a light blue color and silvery metallic lattices, it was cold against the pads of her footpaws. Slipping her paws from her jeans, she stood upon one of the circles in the rear, balling them up to hide the fact they wanted to shake. Kayla may have been brave, but that did not change the fact she didn't like transporters and wanted to get this over with. Right behind her, Jacob had stepped onto the platform along with Emily; bag slung over her shoulder with the handle of Kayla's fur brush sticking out slightly as it did earlier in the day. Discipline would always remain a hand's reach away, prompting the fox to stand up straight and get ready for transport without protest.
"The Captain wishes you good luck, Miss Ackart, and wanted to say thanks for helping eighty eight's investigation. He was too busy on the bridge with procedures to be here.", the friendly, middle aged male human behind the transporter console spoke, finally lifting his head from his work. Kayla made a single chuckle, cracking a smile through her worries. Captain Ti'krex had to be one of the less frightening Starfleet officers she had ever met. Not including Jacob, of course, her mind counted him as something unique and different from just a Starfleet officer.
"He's welcome.", Kayla replied to that, short on words due to how she felt. She just wanted it to sound friendly enough for the Captain's benefit, which was fairly successful. Catching the eyes of both her mother and Jacob, she gave them a small nod to let them know she'd be alright. The variations in her voice must have been noticeable. Back at his console the technician began his transport initiation, confirming his coordinates into the computer.
"Okay. Energizing.", he announced to the room, giving them heads up as his fingers touched the controls for the three pads and raised his fingertips smoothly along the surface of his console. Kayla squeezed her paws closed tightly enough to press the trimmed tips of her fox-like claws into her palms, catching a quiver in her left leg as her ears distinctly caught the sound of imaging scanners activate beneath their feet. Right away, she could see that blue spot of light appear at Jacob and her mother's centers, and a fluttering feeling of rapid movement appear at her own. Looking at the backs of those she loved, and the faces of those she only just met, she grasped onto the sense of company as they began to fade behind a static-like mist of bright shining blues and twinkling whites. That same feeling of rushing water came over her, then through her as if she was the water herself; molecules separated and disassembled into the matter stream, buffered and transmitted through hull and space. As the U.S.S Capitol faded away, a new image slowly began to transpose and take it's place. Starting from empty space somewhere on board DeltaStar station, the process worked in reverse with a blue spot of light flowing downwards and upwards as the Capitol's transporter systems reassembled her atoms and form from the data it initially scanned.
Coming to stand on her own two feet in a new location, Kayla was gritting her teeth as the last of her structure was solidified and the glowing mass of "fairies" left her. Stretching her body and standing on the tips of her toes, the young girl growled awkwardly out of disgust with a look on her face similar to that of a child with gum in their hair. Even while dealing with her disdain and the sensations of transport lingering in her belly, she was happy to see she was in once piece with Jacob and her mother standing right where they had been on the transporter pad. Settling down on the floor, she felt a neutral temperature in the pads of her footpaws as she stood upon some sort of composite tile. Moving her eyes and ears, the room they appeared in was dim, lit by only emergency power.
To first inspection, it seemed like a hallway or corridor of some kind. Turning her body with a shift of her right foot, she looked behind herself to see the light of stars in the distance; assuming that was the long windowed security walkway that surrounded the widest portion of the station at it's center. Right in front of her, an open doorway shined with more of an artificial light. Her ears could hear voices as they scanned about, clearly not far from Blaine's team. So, this was it. The metal rafters and cold armored appearances of the walls were the physical form of the system she performed incursions upon so many times. Plain in a functional and foreboding way. The first to make a sound was Emily, making a shaky sigh at the sight of being in such a place. It felt like a fortress even on the inside.
"Alright. Where to?", Emily seemed to try and say with a parental tone, maybe to make herself feel more at home. If it wasn't so dark, it wouldn't have been too bad. But, at hearing her voice, a Starfleet officer popped his head out from around the large open doorway. Seeing him wasn't much of a fright, but it definitely grabbed all three's attention very quickly. The only one not jittery was Jacob, whom provided a nod to the officer upon spotting him, coupled with a gesture to his com-badge to identify whom they were with.
"Come right on in here guys. We're starting.", the younger officer invited, stepping out slightly to see them in. Kayla remained quiet alongside her family, once again tucking her paws into her pockets as a nervous reaction while her muzzle took on one of her more serious looks. Now that she was here, her reservations would have to take the back seat. Faced with a challenge, Kayla was ready to rise to it, tail flowing behind her like normal. Jacob tilted his head towards her as if he'd speak, but it felt like encouraging words weren't necessary once he saw her confidence worn prominently across her face. Tough girl could certainly stand tall. It made him smile a bit, feeling lighter as they stepped through the doorway into the room with the other officers.
The room's purpose did not make itself immediately clear, seeing such a wide space and so many consoles. Red and orange panels covered in keys and controls similar to that of a Federation starship dotted the walls in various configurations, lit under normal lighting. Some were bigger than others, and had fairly cushy looking seats to show off this was a place of business and not military dominance. The largest was in the far corner of what felt like a control room, out to the party's far right where the others had gathered near a graphic interactive table. Looking around and assessing her situation, Kayla quickly deduced she had never seen this room before during her hacking ventures, confirming without asking that this was not be the central computer room or where she needed to work. The composite panels under their feet clopped and clanked like dull metal, alerting those whom had already gathered that their specialist had arrived right on time.
One of the men was nicely dressed on the other side of the table console, looking well-to-do and growing on in years, beside two technicians in what Kayla was familiar to be DeltaStar staff uniforms. With them was Lieutenant Brayden, accompanied by his officers. Three stood at the table with him, while the others examined the room and performed their own operations as smaller teams. As she approached them in front of her family, receiving a welcoming smile from Blaine, the Starfleet man returned his attentions to the men from DeltaStar.
"Mister Peretti, this is the specialist we brought in to assist with the investigation.", he began to introduce, as Kayla stopped a few paces from his side. One of the DeltaStar technicians looked at her strangely, as if in disbelief as to whom he was staring at. The well dressed man and the other staff member stared with a mild note of confusion, unsure which of the three they were speaking of. Considering two were young rejuves, and Kayla was hiding her class designation in her pockets, their first assumption was that the middle aged human woman was their specialist. She did not exactly look the part. Kayla's eyes, though, stared at the uniform of the only man whom seemed to recognize whom the young female Aspatrian just might be, reading the shield-like badge stitched to the chest of his shirt. 'Anti Computer Terrorism'. She must have made some bad days for him here.
"This is Kayla Ackart, otherwise known as...-", Lieutenant Brayden began formal introductions to open the primary bulk of his investigation. Instead, he was promptly interrupted once he spoke her true name; one they had all come to learn since her incarceration and the incidents that occurred during Christmas.
"Packet-Storm.", the Anti Computer Terrorism staff member spoke aloud with a strong, snide note in his voice as if to protest the thought in very open disbelief. While he looked none too pleased, the nicely dressed man in a black and grey suit and blue tie, lifted his right arm and pointed a damning, accusing finger straight between Kayla's eyes. The fox was quick to lower her muzzle slightly, curling her brows at a meeting she was not comfortable to encounter. These were her victims. Now they would have faces in the depths of her memories, and not just be invisible people.
"You!", the older man snapped below a shout, drawing the word out in an angry growl; in a human sense. Coming close to shoving the other DeltaStar staff member out of the way, his shiny black dress shoes slammed the metallic composite alloys that made up the floor to rush his way around the table, making Kayla take a nervous step backwards on her right paw at his aggressive approach. Jacob took one step forward when Kayla took one step back, crossing his arms.
"If I could have five minutes with you, I'd have you pay for the fact you stepped foot in my damned bank!", Mister Peretti, DeltaStar's chairmen continued his verbal assault, stepping closer with a throw of that finger he previously used in Kayla's direction. Kayla slipped her paws out of her pockets, balling them up at her sides defensively as she looked up with her own expression of aggression and a twitch of her muzzle.
"I'm here to help you!", she raised her right paw in quick gesture, trying to reason with a person that likely imagined getting to beat her Penitatas brains senseless when Maxwell and Tyson managed to get away with over one and a half billon in funds and a vault of latinum ore. It put a tense feeling over the room operating on emergency power very quickly, catching everyone's attention.
"We had to deal with you for too many years! Do you have any idea...-!", he stomped in front of Kayla to shout at her, beginning to make accusations that came off as time wasting to Blaine. Deciding to cut Mister Peretti off for once as often as he felt the need to interrupt others, he made a motion on his feet and threw his right arm against the well to do man's chest, giving him a nudge backwards and a serious look.
"That's enough of that. You need her.", the thankful Starfleet man gave in the small Aspatrian's defense, so she wouldn't have to stand beneath them taking such abuse she did not come here for. Turning his head to the human younger than he, Mister Peretti scoffed, placing his hand against Blaine's arm to shove it away; wrinkling his tie slightly in the process.
"I deserve five minutes!", he pressed harshly, lowering his tone and sounding very serious in his request; to which he emphasized by turning his gaze back to Kayla, meeting eyes with the hacker that was a scourge of their lives and cost them so much. Trying to seek his privilege as Kayla's victim, he knew being a Penitatas would give him a moment to give her a token of his revenge. Self centered and arrogant, the old businessman felt it was his right to make Packet-Storm stuffer for a few minutes at his hands. Kayla's young blue eyes, shadowed by the orange fur of her curled brows, could see the disdain in his glare. She did not want to feel like she earned such hate, but this was reality.
"I'm not going to let a volunteer put up with that when she's here to fix your own mess.", Blaine took his arm back after having it shoved away harshly, catching the air of adrenaline they were sharing. As he spoke, Emily shook her head.
"And I'm not going to approve it.", the Penitatas mother knew better than to humor, aware of what her daughter deserved. Letting this cranky old man have a crack at her would be futile, dangerous, and pointless. She felt as strongly as Blaine did about Kayla needing more support than that, and Jacob nodded his head firmly at Kayla's side. The words were wonderful for the fox's tall ears to hear, but her mind was focused elsewhere when it came to staring at this man's face. A moment passed as Mister Peretti looked both at Emily and Blaine, seething on the inside from having Packet-Storm brought so blatantly into his presence without being told. Commander Falstaff left that out of his communications for a good reason. Lifting her head up high, the young, one-time hacker gave her tail an idle swish through the air; relaxing her brows a little to convey a look of serious, hard honesty.
"I'm sorry.", Kayla apologized to the older human, for the trouble she had caused over her lifetime. The brunt of it was by her paws only months ago when the bank was compromised financially, but while that was not entirely her fault, there were times before that with a different story. Paws balled lightly at her sides out of tension and a will to be confident, the room fell silent at the man's stare, aside from a few idle beeps from a distant monitor that flickered changes in the station's status via a diagram; much like that Commander Falstaff and Lieutenant Brayden stared at back on Earth.
"You're sorry?", Mister Peretti responded with a distinctly condescending tone, as if to taunt her apology. Kayla squeezed her paws a bit tighter, resisting the urge to growl under her breath. This was not an easy feat for her, and the old man was not making this any easier. She was intimidated by the situation as a whole, despite her strong desire to stand up to DeltaStar's chairmen. As such, she took a deep breath through her ebony nose and kept her head up to assume a firmer tone. If he wanted hostility, he would get a little.
"Yes, sorry. That thing you say when you regret something you've done.", she held strong, handling her affairs on her own. It wasn't that Jacob didn't want to let loose on the man, or that Emily didn't want to take her away from this, but that the girl was trying to do what she thought was right. Watching a Penitatas learn and grow, it was something they respected and allowed her to do without major interference; Starfleet officers watching and listening, silently questioning the man's attitude all the while.
"You expect me to accept that?", Mister Peretti questioned, talking down to Kayla with a small motion of his left hand by his waist. Kayla was losing her patience, just giving a single shake of her head.
"Do with it what you want.", the small Aspatrian had to give up, having to leave her apology on the table. She meant it, but that didn't mean the old man would take it. It would have to stay there for him, in case he ever changed his mind. Kayla's tone made it perfectly clear she wasn't about to continue this back and forth posturing and nonsense.
"Fine.", the human man closed coldly, turning just enough to grasp an orange and red DeltaStar issue data-pad from the interactive console table. Holding out her right paw to take the pad once it had been offered, Kayla did not look pleased, though cooperating and expecting some degree of professionalism. That notion all but fell out the window once Mister Peretti ignored her open, patiently waiting paw and shoved the pad hard enough against her chest to make her stumble back onto her right footpaw to catch her weight. Her small orange paws quickly reached up and grabbed the pad to catch it, taking the shock and surprise of such an action as a physical pain once the butterflies in her belly grew fangs.
"Honestly!", Emily snapped out into the room, making a motion with her right hand to say that was entirely enough. Jacob had already taken another step forward, allowing Emily to do her parenting while he would stand guard; not about to let Mister Peretti an inch closer to Kayla again after that. Her eyes scowled up at the man, fingers curling against the specialized data-pad against her white t-shirt covered chest. That was enough to send the tip of her tail between her legs.
"If Starfleet wants you to work, than go work.", Mister Peretti waved her off dismissively, turning his back to her to return to his focus around the table; making it clear he wanted nothing to do with having Packet-Storm in his presence. Being one of the good guys wasn't enough - he just wanted something to loathe, being a dull-edged old man with a lacking sense of empathy or care. Clutching the pad in her paws, Kayla's fingers trembled and she made an audible growl, baring a few teeth before turning away with a brisk walk and hard swing of her tail past her mother and Jacob.
"Kayla?", Jacob asked out of a quick worry, heart beating a bit faster than the calm Karrian typically dealt with. Before he took an extra step towards the fox, Emily reaching her hand out as if to call to her daughter and follow, Blaine was quick to speak up as Kayla's willful footpaws took her out of the room.
"Let her go.", the Starfleet Lieutenant said with certainty, and an underlying tone of reassurance. Emily turned her head back to Blaine, looking upset and confused over what Kayla had to endure. That was uncalled for, Penitatas or not. Lieutenant Brayden eyeballed the older man ignoring him at his side, before lifting his hand and giving a light shake of his head. Jacob just crossed his arms again and lowered his head, staring down at the composite alloy floor.
"I read her personality profile thoroughly, and you wrote most of it. She'll feel better once she gets to work and relax. Kayla can't hurt herself here; she'll find the central computer room easily with the data-pad she has.", Blaine tried to explain his piece, not wanting to further bombard Kayla with more people and stress. Poor thing hadn't gotten to be alone all day long he figured, not aware Kayla had been bedridden a brief portion of the early morning. Either way, he knew it would be for the best. Emily sighed, placing a hand against her face.
"You're right.", Emily relented, holding back her urge to run off and play Penitatas parent. Kayla earned a little space. A glance towards the room's large doorway that they stepped into showed the Aspatrian had already taken her leave to be alone and head off, filled with a sea of thoughts and emotions. Maybe her daughter had some warranted reservations after all; Emily did not realize this was more than just the debate over right and wrong.
"If everyone is done, I'd like to get back to talking about my station.", Mister Peretti placed his hands on the lit table and spoke roughly, turning his head slowly each direction to ensure the Starfleet officers he had been "given" were paying proper attention. Thinking out of Kayla's own benefit, Jacob lifted his head back up to listen and see if any pieces of information could be useful to her, while Emily stared off distracted by her own thoughts and worries, much like Kayla.
"With no shields and defensive capabilities, administration and our accountants have been evacuated temporarily. We're operating on a minimal staff; primarily engineers performing repairs scattered throughout the station. The computer room and processing areas have been cleared for your teams, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to expect the same timelines I would have my own men, understood?", he stood and lectured the crowd of military personnel around the table, trying his damnedest to be their boss for the sake of DeltaStar. Every second they were offline was another transaction that was not being performed, and more importantly, every second was another shred of consumer confidence lost in their security. Blaine had to make an upwards motion with his right hand, to beckon those under his command to nod their heads and humor the chairmen. Commander Falstaff could get away with ignoring him, but while on DeltaStar, Blaine did not want to ruffle his feathers so badly they'd never get any work done. This was a time sensitive matter for San Francisco as well, with Starfleet central officials closely monitoring this situation in order to not relive the times of Packet-Storm's reign.
"I will not have DeltaStar sitting here like a lame duck. You need to perform your investigation quickly. We will return to operation once repairs to the power relay systems are complete and we've worked software damage out of our central computer, so don't slow any of my remaining staffers down.", the man raised his hand to stress, looking out at them all before pressing a few keys on the table's console to remove the overlays and displays of the station they had brought up before Kayla arrived. As the men began to move and slowly scatter, Mister Peretti walking off for the larger console in the corner of the room, Lieutenant Brayden lifted his voice and called out to assign teams and provide specific orders based on the situation provided. Jacob and Emily remained the odd pair out, not straying far from Blaine's side as it was. But, the DeltaStar staffer that did not wear the badge of any sub-department walked around the table to approach the room's only female.
"If you wanted to catch up to her, that metal alcove back there is a service lift. She took the long way; you can head her off.", he spoke with a surprisingly light voice, sounding as if he was a quieter person, speaking of Kayla. Emily's worry for the young furred hacker was kind of obvious, and the young reptile at her side did not look as perky as he did when he first walked into the room. Following the point of the DeltaStar employee's finger, she turned her head over to see the small lift on the back wall. Silver metals, with a grating for a floor. Simple, but effective for moving a short distance. Coupled with the man's words, Blaine also peered around one of his fellow officers.
"I'll meet you down there.", Lieutenant Brayden provided with a solitary nod, since Emily had been seemingly looking to him for support. With his words, Emily gathered her wits and decided to join up with her furry blessing. She had to be feeling like this was a terrible day.
Not saying anything, Emily gave a weak nod of her head to acknowledge him and stepped for the small lift with Jacob close at her side. Just as she did in the Capitol's transporter room, she busily looked to her side to make certain he was still in tow. Jacob felt weird to be solely in Emily's company after she needed to strip a small bit of his pride and dignity earlier, but with the residual aches of her efforts eased, it was easier than to try and ignore than it once was. While she could step more easily upon the grating, Jacob had to be more careful when it came to his bare scaled feet, taking soft steps upon the metal to situate himself. Catching that Emily was searching for the controls for the lift, the Karrian turned his eyes up and cracked an amused smile; reaching over to give a button near the railing a quick press. The human woman had to grab the railing out of surprise, but shared the same look of light amusement with Jacob once their faces met; room raising up as they sank out of view, headed one deck lower.
Elsewhere, separated from activity and loud noise, Kayla slowly walked the outer corridor of DeltaStar. The endless sprawling window that went straight around the station remained on her right during her slow walk, passing small corridors and reinforced beams. Occasionally a pipe or conduit ran over her head, humming a low sound for her black tipped ears. Stressed and uncomfortable, her paws continued to hold the red and orange data-pad close to her chest when it wasn't in use, showing a diagram of the station and relevant information about it's systems. Across her face was a scowl, as well as a frown; anger mixing with sorrow. It was lit only by the light coming in from the stretch of window endlessly following her from the surrounding stars, and the orbiting U.S.S Capitol. Off to her right, coming slightly closer the longer she wandered towards the central computer room to access it directly from her deck, it blinked it's operational lights and it's warp nacelles glowed a brilliant blue. Walking alone, relaxing with nothing else to cloud her mind or judge her, her eyes would look off towards the ship and scan the dark sections of looping hallway ahead. The Capitol was a bit higher than her location, leaving her to look at the tip of the bridge and some of the under-section of the saucer.
Already long and complicated, the day was wearing her nerves thin. The last thing she needed was a bitter old man in her face and another thing to resent when it came to being a Penitatas. Kayla felt like a tool as it was, and she was being constantly reminded that she was a dangerous tool that not every appreciated. DeltaStar haunted her memories as it was, being the strongest of her frequent malicious accomplishments. Never again did the fox want to add new memories to that batch, having abandoned her past life. Or, she at least thought she did, and hoped she did. It was difficult to let Packet-Storm quietly die when others would utter the name with such disgust or intrigue. Being a Penitatas had the benefit of being punished and brought up differently, safe in your own home. Kayla wished she earned the right to keep foot on her planet, instead of walking in such a dark place in the far reaches of space. Out here she didn't get to be the young fox she actually wanted to be, embracing the idea of her second chance. In her mind, this was just more of the same. Good or bad - right or wrong - it just felt like all the things she wanted to escape from.
Lifting the colorful data-pad into her view about a foot from her muzzle, Kayla examined her surroundings with the diagram, using her eyes to trace conduit above and along the side of the interior bulkhead to discern her location while moving along. Moving the pad aside to see where she was going, Kayla passed an outer support structure on her right and found a conduit junction beneath a grate coming up right in front of her. In the outer corridor in front of a long interior corridor, Kayla took one last glance at the pad before lowering it to her side; having reached the corridor she was looking for. Taking the time alone wisely, she looked through the grating at the mess of tubes that spanned the outer section of the station and split off to go under the floor of the corridor at her side, which appeared dimly lit with emergency lighting like a few of the other areas she passed. Kayla closed her eyes and took a deep breath to stroll down yet another dark hallway; lined with metal alloy beams and composite plates, half the size of the outer ring. Station seeming so empty and desolate, there were few sounds radiating into her Aspatrian ears, aside from the gentle touches of her feet to the floor and the soft beeps of the data-pad when she would lift it and check a section with a tap of her right index finger's claw. The pop sound of an intercom coming online made both of her ears pivot backwards and away in a typical canid manner, catching her curious attention while walking.
"Where are you going?", a calm, direct male voice spoke over the intercom in what could be perceived as a firm professional tone - simply seeking the answer to a question. Kayla had long since grown tired of such things, looking up and around to reply to the voice while not stopping her steps.
"Central computer room, for the investigation.", she announced her intentions up to the invisible person, eyes finally catching a round blackened glimmer of light off a discreet security camera above an armored-looking arch some paces ahead of her, tucked into the right side of the corridor. Kayla was certain to keep her voice to the point, so the man would know she meant business. Just because she was small, didn't mean Kayla wanted to drop the data-pad she was operating from her paws and have a winded conversation.
"I have clearance.", Kayla added, trying to not sound too irritated, even if she was deep down inside with DeltaStar and all of this nonsense over security and the sort of "threat" she was. Giving the security camera a look, her muzzle turned back to the data-pad she held.
"And you are?", the male voice continued to probe, sounding curious beneath it's general tone. Kayla made an agitated 'tch!', lifting her muzzle back up. Her fingers held the orange and red data-pad in her paw more tightly, as she did when she left the presence of Mister Peretti. She was not feeling well enough to keep receiving such prodding, knowing very well she was getting moody. The rapid, random flicks of her tail spoke to that well.
"Kayla Ackart. Packet-Storm? Starfleet brought me, it's old news. Don't worry about it.", Kayla tried to get firm with the man monitoring her movements in the corridor, wishing the station would have been better notified she was coming - their security especially. To those words she did not get a prompt response, just as she would have expected. While coming up upon the camera, by the archway, the man on the other end of the intercom hummed inquisitively. Not lifting her muzzle from the pad in her paw, Kayla only looked up with her eyes, finding that to be strange.
"Interesting.", he responded with an air of awkward amusement that made Kayla's orange footpaws stop upon the composite tiled floor. Lowering the pad slightly, she looked up with a somewhat hesitant look at the rounded enclosure of the security camera; half frozen where she stood, in result of the out of place statement.
"I don't think I like that.", the voice spoke again, plain with the same air of light amusement. Kayla's brows slowly curled, baring a few teeth in silence.
And then she ran like hell.
Turning paw, her feet clambered and banged against the metallic composite flooring, making a mad sprint for the outer ring. Heart accelerating through exertion and fear, Kayla's prior worries fell to the wayside at the thought of a new distinct possibility looming above. One of the worst kind.
Red lights lit up brightly above the junction at the end of the corridor she came from as two large blast doors closed to isolate her corridor from the ring; locking down the outer corridor along it's entire length and perimeter, and throughout the entire station. An alarm sounded with a long, higher pitched tone, stopping Kayla in her tracks as the pads of her Aspatrian footpaws came screeching to a halt; paw giving the blast door that blocked her original route a hard whack. Not a sound - solid as could be. The same red lights and alarm sounded through the entire DeltaStar station, catching the attentions of all the Starfleet officers in the auxiliary control room they were in with a shock to their chests as the door to the room closed like all the other security doors. Down a deck lower, Emily and Jacob lifted their heads in bewilderment, not near enough to any security doors to see what was going on while Jacob tried to lead Emily to the central computer room. Once all the doors were secured, Kayla taking a few steps away from the blast door that trapped her from the other sections of DeltaStar, the long alarm sound ended to be replaced.
"Emergency lock-down complete.", the central computer announced station-wide, echoing through it's cold armored catwalks and corridors. That certainly made Jacob stop in his tracks, Emily looking around in a confused sort of fear out of being potentially isolated. Lieutenant Brayden was already throwing up his arm to give new orders and to secure the issue, as the room went black only to be replaced with the low emergency lighting the rest of the station was under. The consoles went dark, with no longer any access to internal systems or the rest of the world, as they attempted to discover what had occurred to them. That was not part of DeltaStar's robbery lock-down capabilities.
Beside the outer support structure she originally passed on the way into her corridor, Kayla noticed a bit of movement that made her eyes wide. It was happening all too fast to process; everyone on DeltaStar incurring their own situations at once. Outside the window that surrounded the outer ring in the spot she was isolated to, only Kayla was there to see it happen. DeltaStar's external lights began coming back on, flickering and raising to their normal power levels. The station was alive. Taking a couple of erratic steps, Kayla smacked her paws on the lower edge of the window's curved framing, looking out over the black armored surfaces of the station.
On board the U.S.S Capitol, a blue shouldered female Starfleet officer sat at her bridge station monitoring sciences and incoming information from the vessel and station. Having left a status representation of DeltaStar available on the lower display of her controls, a distinct and sudden change caught her attention. Around the green lines that made up the shape of the station, many of the red dots that littered DeltaStar turned a positive blue, showing the station come online. That was great, aside from the fact the stations shields raised immediately after, followed by it's massive battery of weapons. As her eyes caught it, an informative chirp rang out at the tactical station not far from her seat; out behind Captain Ti'krex, signaling the detection of active weapons arrays. Placing a hand on her console below the image of DeltaStar's status, her head flung around to alert the bridge of a major, unexpected change in status.
"Captain!", the woman called out from the port side of the bridge beside the turbo-lift Kayla and her family not to long ago looked out of. Captain Ti'krex craned his head around from his Captain's chair to acknowledge her, only getting to open his maw to speak before matters changed in an instant. Above her, Kayla's eyes saw a high-output phase turret shift it's base, taking aim to fire a shot as quickly as it could. All that preceded it was a sharp sound, followed by an intense ray of red and blue, intermingling in a dazzling array of white. The weapons systems hadn't even fully charged before the beam was fired, haphazardly damaging circuitry on an upper deck of DeltaStar and ruining that turret's phase capacitor.
The powerful phaser beam shot through space at nearly the speed of light, impacting the ventral section of the U.S.S Capitol's saucer section. With it's shields still down, the heavy cruiser was impaled - the beam ripping straight through the left side of the saucer section at a diagonal angle, lighting up the ship in an array of fiery oranges and reds where a hole had been punched straight through; phaser beam streaming off into space. With it were pieces of starship debris which shined from the three nearby stars. All Kayla could do was watch, maw dropping open with a quiver as life turned upside down.
The explosive blast ripped through each deck of the saucer section near it's center on the ventral port side, clear through the ship's dorsal section. Entire walkways, rooms, and systems annihilated. An intense fire blazed through the nearby surviving areas around the hole, filling decks with heat and destructive force that rippled like a shockwave. Those whom were walking down the hallway moments before were among the debris ejected from the dorsal side of the blast, or killed by the subsequent explosion. On the Capitol's bridge, the port side of it's hull exploded in large plasma ruptures from the high-output phaser beam coming so close, making a shrieking bang and a blinding flash while the crew was knocked clear from their feet and seats. The turret was strong enough to knock the ship partially over, sending them flying upon failure of the stabilizers and inertial dampening fields; air filled with grotesque sounds of grinding and rumbling, as if a bomb had gone off.
Captain Ti'krex was thrown from his Captain's chair, bouncing hard off his left shoulder and neck and rolling along the bridge carpeting until his Drakonian back impacted the starboard side of his bridge. The impact was heavy, dazing the seasoned man for only a second. His ears rang, scales still remembering the heat that suddenly fell upon the room - seeing the blackened damaged hull and bulkhead right in front of him across his smoky bridge. The turbo-lift and portion of the wall had fallen to charred pieces, coated in fire. Coming to land violently against the wall at his side was the same female officer that tried to get his attention; a long time companion and senior member of his crew. Her body laid there crumpled into the crease between the wall and floor, bloody, burned, and lifeless with the sciences console ripped in half. Ti'krex could not devote time to saying goodbye to a friend, fighting to get to his feet as the ship quickly began to right itself.
"Shields up!", the Captain ordered with a rough throw of his right arm once he got it off the ground, struggling to get back to his command chair with a hurry of his legs. His surviving crew members returned to their stations briskly, performing as needed while placing the ship under red alert status. The lights on the bridge went down, followed by the Capitol's alert klaxon, ordering her crew to their battle stations. This had come as so unexpected, the officers on the bridge were overwhelmed by incoming reports of damage and casualties. Over at the tactical station, the ship's Chief of Security worked the keys of his flickering console as best he could. On the back wall, a long graphical display of the Capitol showed it's shields extend, along with a mass of flashing red points of damage clear through the saucer section and beyond. Air smelling of burning technology and smoke, another officer was busily ordering fire suppression on decks three through fourteen, organizing their survival.
"Evasive maneuvers, get us out of here!", Captain Ti'krex commanded his helmsmen upon landing in his chair, grasping it's left arm hard with his claw. His face spoke of courage and the will to protect his crew; his lighter side all but disappearing under the pressure of command. The mark of a Captain.
"Weapons ready Captain!", the large, strong man behind the central tactical console called out, preparing the ship's weapons targeting scanners. The ones he still had, anyway, as bits of many decks bounced off the hull and nacelles as the vessel took off at maximum impulse under the control of the Captiol's pilot. Large as it was, the U.S.S Capitol now had a big smoldering hole, littered with glowing alloys and fire. Again, the ship was attacked. Not by the bulky high-output turrets, but by an endless rain of red phaser fire from the station's many phase arcs while DeltaStar's vertical quantum torpedo firing arrays raised out of it's hull to come to bear on the Capitol. Their numerous unified impacts to the shields riddled the protective shell full of invisible holes, reducing the shield generator's effectiveness and output as the ship was rocked. Further sparking, smaller explosions hit the bridge, blowing already damaged systems and adversely affecting their power.
"We can't fight DeltaStar!", Captain Ti'krex shouted out in response to his Chief of Security, not turning over his shoulder as the bridge shook; sparks falling in the empty space in front of him. Trying to avoid phaser fire, their pilot was rocking she ship from side to side, making some of the beams miss as different shield arcs were pummeled; quantum torpedoes beginning to join the phase blasts as they were mindlessly fired from the vertical launch structures like machine guns. The space outside their ship was a sea of shining blue torpedoes and red lines of energy, striking their ship many times in a single second. Across the ship, Starfleet officers ran, trying to do the best they could. Their Chief Engineer stood by the warp core, attempting to reinforce the magnetic coupler's integrity to maintain cohesion and keep the ship steady. Hundreds of people acting for the same cause, putting out fires and tending to the wounded. Ti'krex was not about to stay in this situation, opting for a prompt retreat as soon as they were evading fire.
"Warp two, go!", the Captain ordered immediately after, staring at the view screen to see so many weapons coming towards them from their aft.
"Reinforce aft shields!", Ti'krex added as a second command, throwing his right claw over his shoulder as the command was for his Chief of Security. The large human man diverted power as ordered from the forward shields to the aft arc, but the endless barrage of directed phaser fire was too much for even their own shield generators during a retreat.
Shields failing, the flailing mass of phasers skittered across their hull, cutting lines and ruts into their drive section between the warp nacelles and up along the rear of the ship, just as two of the many quantum torpedoes struck the side of their drive section, sending a powerful ripple through the ship that emanated from the points of massive explosion. Captain Ti'krex grabbed a hold of both arms of his seat as the Capitol jerked forward, certain not to be flung from his Captain's chair a second time. Jamming the controls he had on it's right arm to control the situation as best he could, only seconds from getting away, he actively managed resources as needed to get them free. Further chunks of his ship removed, blowing away decks and his crew, his tactical officer fell over his console to bounce off the command chair on his right side from the inertial force. The Captain was not one to give up until the end, even while all came down around him.
Punched into the helm, the helmsmen inputted the quickest coordinates possible that would not take them into one of the three stars in the system, making further distance from DeltaStar as the ship shook consistently under the damage it sustained. Warp two would be the best they could do; the image of the ship in the back of the bridge flickering and fluttering from damage, surrounding by flowing colors of red to show the failure of multiple shield arcs, having been widdled down to nothing so quickly.
"Engaging!", U.S.S Capitol's pilot announced as needed, taking the ship to warp to escape DeltaStar. Under the stress of phaser fire and dodging quantum torpedoes, the large, long ship buckled and groaned. Outside the ship, covered in damage and fire, the long, fairly unmarred warp nacelles charged with a strong flow of warp plasma, growing a bright blue - before dimming with an odd sound.
On Captain Ti'krex's right arm of his Captain's chair, the display he had up of fire suppression efforts was replaced by an image of the Capitol's dorsal section , and an alarm. It brought a sickening tension to his chest, filled by the voices of his crew, and the efforts they were desperately trying to perform. The image he was given beeped shrilly and rapidly, displaying the U.S.S Capitol's warp field. Growing erratic, the lines sped up as the beep did, quickly losing their geometry and scrambling out away from the ship.
He was not a man to give up until it was over. Well, it was over. The good natured reptilian man lowered his head and closed his eyes, having no time to abandon their ship. Good form, everyone.
Out at Kayla's vantage point, claws scraping at the sloped portion of the hull below the window she was at, she stared out with her ears down against her head, and eyes shaking. Get away, damn it, go! Their attempt to go to warp went lifeless, all occurring in split seconds. A blue light shined from where the U.S.S Capitol was in the near distance, silent, before it exploded into a dazzlingly terrifying display. The starship blew to pieces in an immense blue-white explosion, creating a blinding light that Kayla had to shield her eyes to. Screaming out, Kayla swung her arm away from her eyes as a shockwave from the Capitol flung out from it's center and slammed DeltaStar, sending ripples through it's powerful shielding and shook the plating beneath her feet. The light of the ship's warp core breach shined like a little matter anti-matter star, surrounded by debris and spinning, violently flipping pieces of starship hull.
Their warp core just took too much damage, and lost containment. Warp field collapsing, it was the last hurrah of the U.S.S Capitol. Marred with sadness and terror, the ship turned to memory. Eyes watering, shaking from fear and rage, Kayla stared out at the remains of the Capitol and those she came to meet.
Out of the shining white light of the warp core explosion, not giving Kayla a moment to mourn, a large piece was spiraling her way quickly - like a bat. Kayla gasped, taking a few steps backwards before turning to run back down the corridor. A whole warp nacelle, now free in the endless depths of space, blazed hard enough into the shielding of DeltaStar to partially pierce it and shatter the sides of the nacelle; still spilling warp plasma like a bleeding, severed limb. It's violent impact struck Kayla's section, blowing bits of the conduit junction beneath the grating apart while the shockwave knocked the fox hard off her feet down the corridor. Landing flat on her chest and arms with a low thud and clang, the data-pad she carried included, she winced and growled - a sound that was drowned out by the scrape and crush of metal alloys, like an explosion. The red lights above the blast doors behind her sparked and flickered from being damaged, with a loud rush of air making Kayla's ears pop.
A hull breach opened up around the window Kayla had been standing at, promptly sealed automatically by the station's support systems. Bits of metal and debris wafted through the air, gently striking the force field it made with a static-like sound. Breathing quickly, Kayla rose to her feet, looking back at the mess the wall had become; protected by a higher level force field to maintain environmental conditions. Her eyes were weary and affixed, looking at the damage from the drifting nacelle, and the surreal debris field of the U.S.S Capitol scattering out in space. Not about to make things calm, the automatically placed force field suddenly dropped, breaching the hull again by another's will. Far enough away, Kayla was struck by the blast of air rushing to escape the failed window, gritting her teeth as she took off down the hall.
Past the archway with the security camera, Kayla tucked herself behind a small column and looked to see if this spot had a door that could be closed as the shape of the section suggested. Feeling the wall with her paw, air rushing past her and sending her fur off in one direction, tail caught in the wind, she tried to hold her ground and find any hint of possible controls. Grasping a sort of panel, she dipped her claws beneath it and tore it from the wall; allowing the metal piece to clack and grind it's way down the hallway, lightly skidding due to it's tiny weight. Taking hold of a handle it had covered, Kayla pulled it down to hear a pneumatic-like whining emanate from within the walls. Once enough pressure was stored, the manual door release system slid the door closed from both it's left and right side. Right before the two sides met and locked teeth, the sound of rushing, sucking air turned into a whistle that again made Kayla's ears pop before it closed. Then, silence once more. Fur a mess from the rush of air, the deep breaths she took felt to have lacking oxygen. The deck's life support systems were working to replenish what was lost into space.
Going weak in the knees, Kayla's back slid against the corner the archway and wall made, falling out of exhaust and shock onto the seat of her jeans; practically sitting on her own tail. Staring, her eyes were blank for those few moments while her heart pounded in her chest. Witnessing mass death and narrowly avoiding her own, the mind of an eight year old crashed trying to work through so many emotions and gut wrenching fears all at once. Kayla's ears were still, ringing from the gnarling of metallic alloys and roars of explosive force. Paws trembling, they suddenly flung to her muzzle as the young fox lowered it and half screamed, half cried. Fear and sadness overwhelmed her, clutching her muzzle as she sobbed at a higher, quicker pitch than she would have if she was hurt or under the thumb of disciplinary matters. Coupled in it were confused, painful and small wails like loud hums. Thoughts blazed through the front of her mind as a pair of tears slid from her eyes, balling up where they met her muzzle in the area just ahead of her eyelids.
Jacob's voice repeated itself over and over in her head. About seven hundred, he had said with pleasure and pride, as the pair had stood side by side looking out over the U.S.S Capitol's dorsal hull for the first time. It was repaired and inspected by all those people working in the cold of space. A labor of love and professional pride, only to find those that set off had come to perish. Kayla had seen so many people - how could they all be gone? How! So many lives extinguished at once, it was unheard of. Things like this did not happen in this day and age. Captain Ti'krex was supposed to be there to welcome them back. Security officers, the Chief Engineer, the bustle of the starship's bridge; all her memories of faces and life came to bring her mourning pain. Whether her thoughts were positive or negative at the time no longer mattered, come to coping with the idea of never seeing them again. And she had to watch them die. To watch them try to run away, littered by a mass of weapons-fire from a station capable of thwarting small fleets. As a single ship unaware of pending danger, they had given it their all. In a time of boundless life from the blessings of rejuvenation technology, death was tough to comprehend. Senseless, meaningless death.
Emanating through the corridor, the damaged bits of armored hull behind the sealed door creaked and moaned, making vibrations that could be felt. The failed seal around that portion of the outer ring's window had sucked the last of the air out of the closed-off intersection, bringing the area to rest as it equalized with the environment outside the confines of DeltaStar. No oxygen, no pressure. Such sounds were unfamiliar to Kayla, making her fur stand from her back to her neck, curling up in her corner beside the door.
"Attention, DeltaStar.", a voice echoed through what seemed like the entire station to Kayla's ears, making her paws slowly slip from her face to look up with a cold, damning sneer. It was the same voice that had spoken only to her moments ago, sounding much more cocky. Tickled and amused would be the best way to describe it, breathing as if he had just come down from the thrill of 'the rush'. Kayla's voice had sounded like that before, sitting in her home to glorify herself.
Across DeltaStar, everyone lifted their heads and looked around in tense worry. Emily and Jacob, Lieutenant Brayden and those in the auxiliary control room, and the staff of DeltaStar that were already isolated and scattered, had all felt the rumbles of an object striking the station. Clearly something had gone terribly awry, but those aside from Kayla did not know exactly what. With Blaine's officers tapping their com-badges and receiving no reply from the U.S.S Capitol, the situation was growing to panic with this unfamiliar voice calling over DeltaStar's communications system while they remained trapped and powerless; kidnapped within the confines of their own technology.
"The ship in your orbit has been dispatched. Soon, so will you. This station is only the beginning. Your delusions of safety and peace will shatter when your technology has been stripped from your fingers by a higher power.", the voice deepened, growing aggressive and serious while maintaining it's overall air of arrogance and pleasure. Cold words chilled those who heard them to the core, feeling a demon taunting them. Kayla bared her teeth to the invisible terror.
"For I am God.", he spoke with grandeur, with the intercom system falling quiet. As the man with no body, controlling the station from afar, it was like having rats in a maze. Having laid in wait, an unforeseen trap sprung upon his victims. There was no ordinary hacker, nor an ordinary robber. Through his bold, maniacal words, his intentions became blurred into something much more sinister. It rang out as a threat, and a challenge to Earth. Their hacker had been with them the whole time, never having disconnected once he had set his stage and prepared his means to hide. The contents of a vault were drops in the bucket compared to obtaining DeltaStar station as whole; the first stop in his grab for power.
Clenching his fists across the deck from Kayla, Lieutenant Brayden was hit with a fit of rage. Under the yellow emergency lighting the room was a lot dimmer than it was before, cut off from everyone else. Making a quick turn on his right boot, the Starfleet officer grasped Mister Peretti by his suit, ramming his knuckles into the man's neck. The older business man struck the larger, now blank console behind him, pinned under the force of Blaine's hands.
"Why didn't you shut down your transmission array!", Blaine demanded to know while shouting accusingly, thumping Peretti's back a second time against the console to bring the bitter man additional discomfort. His fellow officers quickly gathered around him, being that such shows of violence was strongly out of character for their steadfast leader. Glaring into Mister Peretti's eyes, the snippy old man grew frightened and belligerent, manhandled as he was. There was no reason for the station to still have it's array active when it was offline, not conducting business and under the scrutiny of investigation.
"Get off of me you crazy bastard!", Mister Peretti strongly ordered, trying to shove back at Blaine's arms and hands. This time, the officer meant business. His limbs did not budge, pressing hard into DeltaStar's chairmen's upper chest. With the station under the control of another and their area completely isolated, there was not a sound to be heard aside from the men's quick, aggressive breathing.
"Answer me!", Blaine did not waste any time replying, nearly shaking the old man where he had him pinned. His actions were outside the realm of a typical, well-to-do Starfleet Lieutenant; taking command once the situation had changed. Outside of assaulting this old man, he was not going to let the possible deaths of his fellow officers go unquestioned. Now even his own life, his team's, and three innocents laid in the balance to go with DeltaStar's skeleton crew. Grunting and breathing roughly, the squirmy man's suit wrinkled and bunched; blue tie hanging out of his jacket, over his left side.
"It takes too long to re-align the array! I'm not going to waste time, we have deadlines!", he argued in what he thought was his defense, only coming to earn a room's worth of angry looks as Blaine's cohorts grew to favor their commanding officer's strong-armed response. Lieutenant Brayden's face curled into wrinkles, needing a moment to force his words from his throat. Lifting the man from his console by his hold on his jacket, he shoved the chairmen towards two of his own officers a few feet away; all while Mister Peretti's staffers both stood in shock, watching someone stand up to their boss' foolish behavior. Around here, you did not stand up to Sampson Peretti. Once the man had left his hands, Blaine raised an accusing finger just as Peretti had done to Kayla.
"Arrest him!", Lieutenant Brayden ordered the two officers he shoved Mister Peretti towards, bringing about an even more exaggeratedly irritated response from DeltaStar's chairmen even while his arms were both grabbed and restrained by the Starfleet officers that were sent here to protect him and the station. Their feet slammed the floor in numerous clangs, scuffling in the dark, foreboding atmosphere of the room.
"This is my bank! I make the decisions! I broke no law!", Mister Peretti shouted, making his throat sore and raspy. Again pulling, his arms were no match for the strength of younger, trained men. Shoving Blaine's arm away earlier was something the good natured officer allowed him to do. In all honesty, Lieutenant Brayden wanted to reel his right arm back and sock DeltaStar's chairmen straight across the nose. He did not like him back at Christmas having to deal with his boundless complaints and demands, and this degree of selfish blindness was inexcusable. Setting both his hands upon his arms, Blaine crossed them at his lower chest to shake his head.
"This is assault! Battery! Falstaff will hear of this, and you'll be thrown from command like yesterday's news!", Peretti seemingly refused to shut up, putting his fouler foot forward with threats and accusations. Blaine raised his head, barely changing his stern glare.
"You put a lot of lives at risk, and the U.S.S Capitol may already be gone. I'll let a judge decide if you violated a law.", Blaine spoke much lower and slower, breaking free of the back and forth adrenaline fueled hostility. He had no idea if Sampson Peretti violated any law. Being a member of Starfleet, and a good one, he was going to let justice run it's course and decide whether the old man's negligence was one to be penalized. Better to arrest based on his judgment, then do nothing at all. With a wave of his hand, he motioned the two officers towards the sealed door on the opposite side of the room.
"Get him out of the way.", Lieutenant Brayden provided as his second order, to which is subordinates responded to by acting immediately, despite Peretti's attempt to stop his feet and not walk, still set on arguing. Hauled off to at least not be in his face, Blaine just had to tune out the storm of threats that continued to spew from the chairmen's mouth, filling the room with more tension than it needed. Being under the control of an unknown, potentially dangerous hacker was a more important matter. Looking around him, Blaine saw all the uncertain, uncomfortable faces of his officers, and that of the two DeltaStar employees whom stood quiet. Their faces spoke of stories, while their minds replayed portions of their life. As his two arresting officers dropped Mister Peretti into the corner of the room to detain him, Blaine shifted his eyes over coldly. He had better go home when this was over. His wife would never forgive him if he died and left her alone, and his daughter would spend a lifetime of heartbreak any time she remembered his name, even if his face one day slipped from memory. Blaine did not want to be the faceless man haunting his child's mind.
"Everyone. Start ripping panels off these consoles. Get under them; jury-rig power into them from a secondary source if you can.", Blaine returned his attentions to his investigative team, toning down his words as his mind and chest tried to latch on to his hopes and spirits to get them through. His fellow human officers all nodded their heads, some adding a "yes sir" to their confirmation of orders. Stepping towards the center of the room, the others dispersed and moved towards each of the consoles, first checking to see how the red and orange panels below the blank control surfaces were connected before trying to rip them off and get inside them. Of course, Mister Peretti griped from the corner, yelling at them that they would damage the consoles and were not properly trained. Foolish man did not realize how much his life was on the line, always having gotten his way. Wanting results, he wanted his hacker gone one way or another, and was clueless to consequences. Blaine couldn't have given a damn about intergalactic commerce; lives being more priceless than even the ever powerful, ever wealthy DeltaStar.
From his vantage point at the center of the auxiliary control room, the station did not rumble any longer. The noise he heard and felt was limited to the voices of those under his command, and those not. Mister Peretti's two employees, an associate and intrusion technician, began assisting their Starfleet accompaniment without being asked. Such camaraderie forced silence down Mister Peretti's throat, eventually trying to play the role of quiet, dignified victim as a minute passed - efforts finally beginning to get them out of this room and off this forsaken place.
"Vasse to Brayden.", a young male spoke somewhat calmly but firmly over Blaine's Starfleet communications badge. It brought relief and regret both at the same time, hearing Jacob speak loud and clear. Eyeing down towards his com-badge, Blaine gave the insignia-shaped device a gentle, weak tap from the fingers of his right hand.
"I was hoping our communications were being jammed.", Lieutenant Brayden replied much more softly than he had been speaking, abandoning his adrenaline and commanding voice to assume a sadder tone. If they were being jammed, the U.S.S Capitol would not have been able to reply, and it could have all been a trick. The station had rumbled for a reason, and not for ruse, he had come to learn with certainty. She was a good ship and had to have put up a struggle worthy of the lives that had been lost. Now his hopes had to rest on that there was survivors, and escape pods. Jacob paused in responding, feeling the same heartache Blaine did.
"Me too.", the Karrian replied to his human comrade with solemn regret. Such words averted the eyes of Blaine's team for a second, looking over their shoulders as if to reply too. They shared the same sentiments, fearing the loss of the Capitol and her crew; their fellows dedicated to a common goal.
"What's your status?", Jacob asked, getting to the thick of matters. One deck below, his arms were crossed just like Blaine's, standing stranded in a dim strip of corridor. Coming over the communications line as she paced right behind him, Emily was busily panicking over their situation and the safety of her daughter. She had never stepped foot outside of Earth's atmosphere or tangled with dangerous hackers aside from her own Penitatas. The mother was not cut out for such risk and dealing with mortality, having had gotten emotional upon discovery that they were trapped in the section they had been in. Dealing with it brought Jacob's older expertise into motion, placing a serious and elder appearance across the reptilian boy's muzzle. Circumstance had demanded he grab the reigns of his mind and take charge as the pin on his collar said he could. This time there would be no room for innocent, young mistakes.
"Our room sealed shut and the consoles here lost power. We're working to bypass and find a way out.", Blaine advised the small Commander, speaking with his head straight forward to watch the work of his team. Though, he wanted to slip in a question of his own.
"Did you meet up with Kayla?", he felt the need to know immediately, feeling a sinking guilt over the matter. They were all here because he asked, and Kayla wasn't the most comfortable in the first place. Civilian lives did not need to be in danger, and neither did a decommissioned Starfleet hero that earned his rest and childhood. Across the channel, Blaine could faintly hear a suppressed, tearful-like squeal from an older female.
"I'm afraid not. We're stuck in corridor junction... twenty six? Somewhere on the deck below, maybe near the central computer room.", Jacob began with a sigh, needing to pause while his eyes scanned the dark to find any sort of identifying numbers or text printed on the armored bulkheads or struts. It was a short space of corridor that curved around a central structure, isolating them to that quarter of the inner ring. Blast doors had closed off intersections at either end of their area, taunting them with a bright red light that reflected off the beams along the ceiling. Blaine nodded his head twice, placing their location into memory. As long as he could begin learning where everyone was, maybe they could figure out a plan once some controls returned to their hands.
"Hang tight Commander. Do the best you can where you are and keep in contact.", Lieutenant Brayden provided from his end. While it wasn't much for the moment with both of them confined to DeltaStar's lock-down, Jacob's old Starfleet com-badge was a lifeline.
"Acknowledged.", Jacob closed his communications as he always did in the past, sticking to formalities. Giving his com-badge a touch from his fingertips, it made a tiny, short chirp to confirm the line closed. Taking a deep breath, closing his eyes partially, the sounds of a worried mother trembled behind him. He had been at a loss as to how to make her feel better. Kayla had been separated from them, and a hacker was playing with their lives. This was not a situation your average person would be brave in, deep in the reaches of space where they really were alone and in mortal danger. Jacob did not know how far the abilities of their so-called deity went without the advice and knowledge of their expert, and his companion. The boy was supposed to remain at her side and keep his word, but once again, life took a different direction. Unlike them, she was all by herself. With nothing more than the clothing on her back and a blank memory chip in her pocket, Kayla was not well off. As with the other Starfleet officers, Jacob's objective by mental default was to regroup and survive.
By themselves on a deck that had supposedly been cleared for the investigation, Jacob would have to find his own way out while keeping Emily's wits. She was the parent, but turning to see her sullen expression, it would have to be his own experiences that push them forward. Maintaining his look of confidence while worrying for Kayla's well being was difficult, but he had two separate lifetimes of being quiet and dignified to know how to suppress his outward emotion. Standing near Emily, he looked up with a pair of serious eyes.
"We're going to find her.", Jacob broke the silence with assurance, relying on his confidence to calm her nerves. The corridor they were in was short and fairly dim compared to the rest of the station's emergency lighting, lit mostly by the pale glow of the red lock-down lights. It was not a comfortable place for the boy either, walking into solid, sealed doors either possible direction he could go. Emily took a deep breath; the intake of air sounding very shaky and broken from her tremors.
"For a hacker, that man did not remind me of Kayla.", Emily commented without much turning to Jacob, facing forward with her arms tightly crossed to hug against her chest. The hacker they had all heard sounded cold, heartless, and ruthless - loving every moment of it with a morbid sense of amusement and power. It bothered her to the core. Towards the floor, Jacob shook his head.
"Try not to think about him.", the old-at-heart Karrian was quick to suggest, not wanting Emily to worry about the possibility of the hacker's threats coming to fruition. To be "dispatched" like the U.S.S Capitol. The thought rattled her cage and well as everyone else's. It was his promise that they would all die here.
"Help me check the floor and the ceiling for access panels. A place to escape from, a service hatch, controls - anything.", Jacob moved to requesting, needing to break Emily's cycle of fear by providing a task. They would need to work together to survive if the station was entirely locked down and sitting in space like an impenetrable fortress. They needed a hacker if they were going to fight a hacker.
Kayla had risen to her feet after her initial scare and trauma, leaning against the manually operated door she sealed. The air she breathed had come to sedate her lung's need for oxygen once the environmental systems had enough time to replenish the corridor's supply. Cut off from the outer ring, she was where she wanted to be, half way to the central computer room. How locked down the inner rings may have been was a different story, but sobbing wasn't getting her anywhere. Blue eyes glistening, her brows remained curled in anger as sadness turned to anger during time's passing moments. In the face of a fellow hacker, she dug deep into her mind to find confidence. Being small and alone mattered less when you were smart and aged well from your experiences both good and bad. She did not cower on Aspatria as a Kindern, and now was no different just because she was a lot older, and now thankfully much wiser.
Getting off of the door, Kayla stood up straight and began walking with a small initial growl. The fox's muzzle curled, using her fear as a source of determination rather than a hindrance. She didn't want to die, but by damned if she was going to sit by and do nothing after watching the crew compliment of the U.S.S Capitol be eradicated in such a violent spectacle. All the sudden, Kayla wanted to be here. She had a reason now. Once she had a cause, it was a force to be reckoned with, not willing to put up with a hacker of such massive evil, and cruel ability. He was going to meet his damn match!
Undeterred by the dark sections of corridor and support struts, she started her way down the hall to save her life and that of her family. The corridor was quiet aside from her breathing and steps of her light feet, with her ears and eyes acting vigilantly to spot dangers. She knew the hacker could be watching and lurking at any time, closely aware of his capabilities and those of DeltaStar. Kayla wanted to warn those she accompanied of what to do and what not to do in order to escape his grasp, but she would have to work her way to the central computer room to be of any definitive use. Their hacker had to be well aware that she could push him back, but maybe he wouldn't have known she was tougher than her orange fur let on.
The Packet-Storm of old was a mysterious, hidden entity. No one knew her species or name, because she did not converse with other hackers. Even so, they all knew her alias, and her exploits. Out in the far reaches and slummy corners of the Galactic-Net, there were certain addresses and gateways meant for socialized hacker banter. Bragging, mostly. The name Packet-Storm reigned supreme for decades, coming to be their prime example, and one to cheer for. She was like their king; unstoppable and revered. For a long time she stood as a symbol of power, and the destructive mischief and crime that hackers and technology abusers stood for in those small circles and dark places. Rarely did she interact with them, but when Kayla did, she remained cryptic and discreet, as she did with all people. Kayla did what she did for herself, not to simply relate with them.
And through all of her travels over the Galactic-Net, she could not have recalled one that called himself 'God' or used it as an alias, like she used Packet-Storm. He had serious audacity to try and snuff her out, and after a prior mortal phaser wound to her back, Kayla was downright sick of people trying to kill her. Now those she knew and loved were in a similar situation to her. No means of communicating or knowing what occurred after that bastard Peretti drove her from the room earlier, she wasn't even aware of where everyone was, and if they were okay. Emily was the only mother she had ever known , and Jacob was her only partner. With the faces of those she remembered on the U.S.S Capitol fluttering through her mind, thinking of their deaths made her picture the things she cherished and appreciated.
Down the corridor in the middle of a section straight across from a yellow-toned emergency light source, a rounded black object made Kayla stop and hug the wall. Peering down, the light reflecting off it made it hard to discern if that too was a security camera, and if she was being watched.
"Yes, that's a camera. I see you.", the voice that haunted DeltaStar spoke up again, only a stone's throw away from blatantly laughing at his own words. Kayla scoffed, getting off the wall to resume her walk. Looking up and keeping her eyes moving, she wasn't going to be scared away from going to where she wanted. Not receiving a reply as the young Aspatrian walked beneath the camera and out of his sight once more, the entity activated more intercoms down the hall to continue the conversation as she moved from camera to camera. His hum sounded curious and taunting, as if speaking to a pet.
"Too good to talk to a fellow hacker these days, Packet-Storm?", he changed his tone, trying to sound chummy and pleasant. The man's way with tones and words changed frequently, chilling Kayla, whom grit her teeth as she walked cautiously.
"You're a murderer.", Kayla spat up at the person listening, adding spite and anger to her voice. The response brought on another hum - this one of a higher pitch, radiating amusement. Kayla's paws balled up into fists, trying to ignore the man's random and rapid nature.
"But still a hacker, right? You should accept your betters.", his voice traveled down the expanse of corridor and the alcoves and small rooms that went along the interior of this section. Kayla chuckled just a little, mocking the man back on his own level while retaining her scowl. This insane hacker needed to get real.
"Better? I seriously doubt that.", the fox replied with unwavering confidence in that fact, outwardly conveying he was a fool. Packet-Storm still lived despite her efforts to reform. Success in bettering herself did not wipe her memories clean and steal away her knowledge. Passing another camera, tucked behind a bulkhead, she had already walked passed it by the time the black shining surface was noticeable.
"A little pretentious for a Penitatas.", the man chuckled above, sending his notions of humor down the corridor. Sticking to the walls of the corridor, Kayla checked alcoves and crannies with care as she proceeded, making sure to not fall into any sort of trap or make a wrong turn without her map. Thanks to 'God', that data-pad was likely floating in the expanse of space.
"I already know the limits of your control over the station. You're in the security system portion of the main computer.", Kayla spoke quickly, sounding irritated and annoyed at his arrogance and attempts to scare and rile her up. She didn't have time for stupid mind games. Her muzzle peered around an archway of supports, checking either side of it before proceeding further with careful steps.
"You have control of station weapons, the main computer, and lock-down features. I would not be breathing if you had full control. There are systems like life support that you are isolated from. Your severing of power to locations by causing failures is another backwards means of overcoming your limits.", the ever sly fox continued, checking portions of the wall with her paw that seemed different from others, to see if she could find something to use. Kayla was very aware of what he was doing, and it was why she wanted to convey her own set of orders to those on DeltaStar. As long as you knew what he controlled and how, your efforts could be focused. There were junctions and systems on DeltaStar he would require aside from just his point of entry. Her words were strong, making the hacker that put their lives in his hands curious.
"Skilled words; it's too bad you're a traitor. You were so good to us.", he spoke slowly, keeping his faux-friendly allure to his voice. That one Kayla could not suppress her growl for, looking up.
"I'm not walking down memory lane with you!", the young fox snapped, throwing her head back down to sprint another several paces up to the next alcove in the side of the corridor. Looking around the corner, paws on the metallic beam that went up the left side of the corridor where she was, this one was slightly larger than the others. Perhaps a guard station, she thought, with a desk covered in data-pads and a discarded DeltaStar patrol uniform. Taking a couple of soft steps, looking around for cameras, she spotted one right on the wall behind her. Giving it a snide look, Kayla ignored it and began to look over the area, paw to her muzzle.
"Oh memory lane. What a fun place.", the voice chuckled over the intercom, sounding more darkly amused. Kayla shifted her eyes for a moment, before placing them back upon the desk and surrounding area. A plating on the side of the wall next to the desk rattled slightly when she touched it gently with her left paw, having tried to lean in and used it as support. That ill-maintained sheet of metal became her focus, working to open it with her paws. Despite her efforts, DeltaStar's hacker still seemed innocently distracted and devoid of worry.
"Sometimes you found pleasure in giving targets to us, rather than taking them on yourself. Like the survey satellite over Vernitor Four?", he began, trying to bully Kayla's reluctance to glorify those days. He knew her well as hackers did both armature and seasoned, and her more positive recent exploits had been in the news just like her old negative ones. Their Packet-Storm was still famous. All the while Kayla did her best to shut her ears, wearing a serious look and focusing on her own efforts. Giving the panel several hard yanks from her paws, metal pressing painfully into the soft joints of her fingers, it cracked open with a bang and squeak to reveal a small weapons locker; it's door slamming against the wall with a clatter.
Right away Kayla grabbed a hand held phaser from it's black holster, ignoring the other articles as she lifted it to see it's tiny display. Familiar with the technology and having used one during Christmas' harrowing ordeal, Kayla's thumb jammed on it's 'up' key, raising it's power increments to maximum; one long, bright red line on the display. Each press made a chirp, making it obvious what she was doing as she worked at a rapid, desperate pace to arm herself. However, the man did not stop talking, even if he had a camera there to see her every move.
"The Bolians really wanted to colonize there. You went and dropped a model of their carrier signal attenuation in our laps. We made quick use of that! There must have been six of us, making the satellite do cartwheels across the sky!", he spoke so strangely casually, as if he really was enjoying the memory. The hacker laughed, catching a set of bare, sharp white teeth from Kayla's maw. Yeah, she remembered doing that. Kayla monitored the satellite's telemetry for entertainment, enjoying a cup of tea as if it was a routine day.
"It burned up in the atmosphere. Their progress was set back nearly three years, and that was one hell of a satellite. I wonder if they know you played a part in that?", he resumed his chuckling over the dimly lit corridor and alcove. Not finding the same humor in other's suffering and tired of talking to the most insane person she had ever heard, Kayla raised the white phaser in her right paw. Pointing it steadily at the black dome of the small security camera, her furred thumb grazed the trigger. Receiving no recoil, the emitter of the phaser shot a bright red beam - particles making a bright, sparking blast off the top corner of the wall. Shards of black fell to the ground, along with pieces of scrap metal. Such a loud sound bounced off the walls, echoing like a drum filled with water in that deep sort of sense after the initial clap. Charred and burned, the armored bulkhead was slightly damaged from the phaser blast; wafting a small amount of smoke into the area as Kayla lowered the weapon with the same cold scowl across her face.
Beginning to walk again, leaving the alcove and making quicker distance, another intercom opened up with a giddy sort of chuckle. Kayla growled aloud once more, keeping her phaser clutched in her hand. He was going to have to hold her back, else she was going to save her life by any means possible.
"How violent! What a bad little child.", the hacker openly taunted, sounding more wild and fired up by her actions and strong will. Still, there was no fear. Just his twisted, happy sense of hate and death. A madman by all accounts. Trying to recall the layout of this deck from memory, thinking of the data-pad she shortly ago held in her paws, Kayla pressed on - the corridor going silent, for now, as she slowly crept along trying to find her way. The paw which held the phaser she salvaged for her own use trembled, making the small weapon twitch in her grasp from how she felt deep down inside her chest.
Meanwhile, those her mind thought about were actively plotting their own escape. On his knees, Jacob was checking small access panels he had found that ran the length of the lower section of the wall. They were very small, but each time he opened one of the small rectangular plates, he hoped to find something aside from wires. Emily was doing the best she could to help, trying to find anything near the ceiling since only she could reach that high up. It was like listening to a small construction effort, filled with clangs and thumps as they tried to rip anything off the wall that could be concealing something of actual use. Being the highest security bank in the quadrant, the pair was hard pressed to find even the most remote weakness. This wasn't about to become a cell they would die in after going hungry, and thirsty. In such a confined place, the air was smelling stale and pungent of metals.
Jacob's tail was sprawled out a fairly short distance behind him due to his age, scale against the composite alloy title that lined the corridors. Beneath him, tucked into some of the wires he found, there was a small device or mechanism. Being a doctor much more than an engineer, the Karrian was trying to make heads or tails of it, and if it was even an object of importance. Silvery with a red nodule in it's center, many of the wires coupled to it. First guess was a power system component, but Jacob just didn't know. Not sure what kind of readings he could pick up from a tricorder designed for primarily medical use, the boy slipped the silvery device from his waist and flicked it open; an action of the wrist that came with experience. Though, considering muscle memory was eroded in rejuvenation, Jacob had to try twice to get it right, looking at his tricorder awkwardly while trying to open it.
Holding it up to the small, strangely shaped component, the tricorder's chirping and intermittent beeping caught the attention of his intermediate parental figure. Removing her hands from a panel that was stuck on the ceiling and not budging any time soon, she took a few slow steps to crouch down at his side. Emily was in no position to assume what anything was, looking at the moving lights over the working surface of Jacob's instrument scanning over this oddly shaped box. Panic made her worry that it wasn't something like a bomb, which Jacob could have easily assured it wasn't if she had asked. From over her lap to leading her by the hand, it was a backwards day indeed.
"I can't tell if this is for the blast door or not.", Jacob sighed in frustration, short of growling like his female companion did when matters took a turn south. The display of his tricorder wasn't telling him much of use. Emily swallowed, not certain as to what to do or say.
"Is there something we can try, just to see?", was all she could think of to ask, which in all wasn't a bad suggestion. Not the safest, but as long as the mother of the room give it her approval, Jacob had something he could try. Looking down at his side, the boy slid his cylindrical medical scanner from the waist of his slacks as he did his tricorder. Being the emitter he used to repair the painful welts and bruises Kayla and he shared punitively, he figured some ingenuity would give it versatility. Tapping a various set of keys on his tricorder, it beeped with each stroke until it chirped longer, and faster. The lights of the scanner lit up, spinning in unison with the sounds the tricorder was making.
"The bodies of most known life forms operate by using electrochemical reactions. Muscle movement, senses, thought, the heart. If I can manipulate the electrical signals passing through this device, maybe I could figure out what it does and fool it.", Jacob tried to explain as simply as his mind could come up with, putting a lifetime of knowledge into what he was doing. Hovering the emitter in his right paw over the red nodule of the component, he attempted to use a medical device for non-medical purposes. Using the scanner in conjunction with his tricorder, he had it set to deliver heavy impulses as if he was trying to restart a heart or excite brain synapse. The tricorder read no chemical reactions, but the electrical component remained, showing changes. As if able to see through the synthetic alloy that made up the device, he could see where and how electricity flowed, dancing like golden lines across the display of his tricorder.
"Anything Jacob?", Emily did not wait long to ask while the Karrian interpreted what he was looking at. Normally, back on the Apollo or Starfleet Medical, such a request would have made him a touch agitated. He wasn't sure if it was due to her "rank" as a parental superior or the fact she was genuinely frightened and out of place, but he did not find irritation in being "interrogated" as he would have typically defined it.
"Not quite. I'm thinking of a few things if I can get my tricorder to display it.", the boy replied with a curious hum, low pitched and drawn out as he looked at the screen of his hand held information device without so much as a movement. It took a few moments, but once he had a thought as to how to use his idea going, he was tapping at keys again to add a second overlay to what he was doing. Magnetic fields and radiation sensors came up over the display, with the hopes that maybe he could figure out what the state of this device was when the lock-down occurred. Some sort of residual effect left by the flow of electrons, to see if one of the non-conducting lines coming out of this strange box went to the door. They must have been stuck for almost an hour already while Blaine's team worked on the same sort of jury-rigging, Kayla no where to be seen. This had better work.
Across his tricorder, chirping and beeping the same as it did before with only minor variation, the screen was a mess of moving lines and waves of various colors and frequencies. Opening his maw a little, Jacob tilted his head and tried to make sense of it. It was half impossible while using medical equipment, and it didn't seem like his idea was effective. Moving the scanner around the device, a button press to the tricorder made the emitter light up, and a much lower pitched sound begin to emanate from the cylinder between his fingers. Pumping low frequency, low voltage spikes into the lines, he monitored the screen to do this the hard way. Above where his scanner was, the circuitry below would light up on his display, dancing excitedly and jumpy outcomes occurring. Once over the lower left of the box, the red nodule in the center began to fade and fluctuate. At the same time, many lines tried to light up gold and active, but flickered.
"Think I'm on to something. Should I do it?", Jacob asked mostly for Emily's own comfort, so she would feel a part of this attempt, and more comfortable with it. Hesitantly, she nodded her head.
"Don't hurt yourself or anything.", Emily said with a bit of difficulty from the amount of tension and pressure on her chest, not wanting to see a proud young man such as Jacob injured as the result of her own poor judgment. Escape was by no means poor judgment, but she stood ready to blame herself at the first wrong sign in the mood she was in. Kayla wasn't really that far away, but through so much armored plating and conduit, she felt so far and unreachable. For a high profile Penitatas, she really was a good girl overall. An ideal criminal in reform, she admit inside of her head. While Kayla had her moments, she had very often been put in bad situations such as this. The start of her sentence had been a bumpy road.
Mind trailing off into tender, more motherly moments like tucking her furred daughter into bed, her eyes remained glued to Jacob's efforts with hope. His small paws held his equipment professionally, focused and treating the unknown wired component like a patient. Moving forward with his plan, Jacob ramped the frequency output of his tricorder settings, shortening all of the long chirps the device made as the impulse frequency increased beyond what he would subject a living thing to. Gradually growing faster, emitter over the seemingly sensitive left lower quadrant of the device, the red nodule faded away. When it did, the red light above the blast door did as well, releasing it's sealing mechanisms to open normally as if the all clear had truly been given. Catching both of their attentions, Jacob and Emily's faces lit up. In only a moment's time, the device in the wall began to light up too, as the tricorder continued ramping it's frequency until sparks began skittering off the surface of the device's metal-like surface. The Karrian boy shut down the tricorder's program with a few taps of his thumb, but by then, the scanner's silvery cylinder was burning at his fingers. Rolling it around as to not burn his scale, having over used the device past what it was intended, he shoved it back at his waist to cool down. Closing his tricorder, he fell back onto the base of his tail, lifting his head with a bit of a laugh in the face of matters.
"Commander Vasse, the hacker.", Jacob smacked the chest of his tan shirt, complimenting his work with a strong note of pride. Whether that was a lucky break or not, he had no idea, but at least he made use of the skills he had! Might have trashed his medical scanner and emitter, but he would be able to get another. As it stood, now they could move on.
"Kayla would be proud, but let's get out of here!", Emily was quick to stress, slipping her hands under Jacob's arms to lift him to his feet. Being male and having a reptilian tail, he was heavier than Kayla was at seven, but not all too much. Assisted to his feet unexpectedly, Jacob fumbled over his medical tricorder, closing it and shoving it back in it's holster as Emily and he began a quick sprint down the hall to pass the door and ensure they would not be trapped a second time. The older human's shoes clanked against the floor much more than Jacob's bare claws, leaving behind the distinctive tick of his white nails per his usual. Stopping beyond the door, the young doctor took a deep breath, reaching up to give his badge a tap while looking up at Emily.
"Vasse to Brayden.", he opened a communications line with, starting to feel the heat of his scanner radiating through the thick waist of his slacks, and threatening to get fairly uncomfortable for the side of his belly. He eyed down at it and made something of a face, hoping he would not have to abandon it. If it still worked, he might need it to crash the mechanisms for another door.
"I'm here Jacob. We've made some progress up here, but it's been limited. Listen.", Blaine began speaking on the other end, prompting Jacob to give a nod of his head and begin walking slowly; Emily sticking close to his side, no farther than tail's length. Over his com-badge, he could hear the sound of Federation console beeps, along with a few error tones. Hearing him tap on a console for the sake of good news brought about one of Jacob's braver chuckles, happy to hear progress from his fellows.
"Good work Lieutenant.", the old Commander was quick to commend, giving a tilt of his head as if the man was here in person to receive it. Now that was a lot like the old Jacob. Simple, dignified, and in command. The way he said it revived any pride that may have soaked away into the synthetic wood of Kayla's fur-brush, coming to forget and forgive his mistake as rejuves did. Emily kept him safe and put him in his place, she needed to be commended as well.
"We've managed to get out of the section of corridor we were trapped in. Headed to the central computer room, once I locate it.", Jacob advised with one of his more energized tones in the heat of his work, and the subsequent heat of his scanner at his waist. Walking down a new stretch of corridor from the intersection they were shut out of, they could access the interior area of the station where the central computer room was located.
"The other ship that's coming, can't they get us off this place?", Emily inquired, making a few timid motions of her hands as she looked down at Jacob, walking with him. Jacob stopped suddenly, lowering his head and placing his paw to his face, pinching the bridge of his muzzle as he had done earlier in the day. The communications line fell silent, leaving Emily standing curiously, and worried at such a response to her question.
"The Tillman.", Jacob spoke kind of softly in the middle of the corridor he was in.
"With everything going on, I forgot Captain Ti'krex mentioned another rendezvous.", Lieutenant Brayden spoke similarly, trying not to be so obviously heard by his crew. Emily had only recalled his words through all the things they had gone through simply because her mind had been left to fret and wander. Repeating events through her mind was a way of trying to process and comprehend the magnitude of what was going on around her, and to those she cared about. Blaine and Jacob's victories diminished under the thought of another vessel coming to the station to meet the same fate of the crew of the U.S.S Capitol. Not having seen how one sided the fight truly was, they could only go by the words of their captor and tormentor.
"There is nothing we can do to warn the U.S.S Tillman. They'll have to figure it out in time on their own." Jacob removed his paw from his muzzle, wondering what would come of them. It would be nice to think of them as their rescuers, but the Tillman was an even smaller vessel compared to the Capitol. Assuming such would be much too preemptive, not certain as to where the ship was, or if they would discover the plight of DeltaStar before her weapons turned on her hull. Out in the open air of Jacob and Emily's corridor, where they stood in solemn, worried thought, a hum came to distract them. It was one that Kayla had grown familiar with, but they had not. Looking up, Emily seemed confused while Jacob's brows curled cautiously, clenching his green scaled paws closed.
"I think we have a fly on the wall, Lieutenant.", Jacob assumed his more serious and older sort of tone, seeming to have a note of regret in his voice. That cold bastard did not need to know what they were speaking of.
"So you do. I wasn't aware the bait had attracted more lame fish.", the voice of their hacker echoed only through Jacob's area of the station, though Blaine could hear it clearly over his com-badge. It had almost immediately halted the work of his team; all the Starfleet officers, DeltaStar staff included, stopping to listen to the voice that held them at bay. Emily's hands found themselves balled nervously below her chest, looking around as if to locate the source of the awkwardly cruel voice. It's interjection had made them all quiet, confirming their fears for the Tillman's safety. Be vigilant, Jacob wished. Don't assume the lack of response to hails is a malfunction, Blaine added in his own mind. They could save their skins if they followed through with caution when red flags appeared, finding the U.S.S Capitol missing, or worse, destroyed as the hacker claimed to have done.
"The murder of one Starfleet officer, or any person, is a heinous crime. If you truly killed as many as you say, you're going to be the worst in hundreds of years. No one will stop hunting you.", Lieutenant Brayden spoke over his communications badge to speak to the hacker, lurking in Jacob's sector one deck below. His voice was deep and strong, almost unwavering, as if to make a threat right back. Blaine imagined holding his daughter's hand, squeezing his right hand around it to find a special strength his urge to return home gave him. The will to live was stronger than the press of fear.
"You will be delivered into my hands - the hands of God.", the hacker teasingly taunted with saintly words, finding such serious emotions directed at him to be funny. As Packet-Storm had proven before him, they were powerless against those that could take their technology and manipulate it out of their control. He would stand to become what Packet-Storm did not - rich and in command. To those forced to listen to his hollow, damning words, each of them had to wonder if this hacker directly admitted to having a god complex, or if he was too deranged to figure that out on his own. Not knowing him, where he was, or even what he looked like, it would be like hunting that which they could not see. For at least thirty years, it was the same situation for Kayla. Purely unstoppable.
Standing silent, all those present stood where they were, not saying a word. They were futile, wasted words on a man purely focused on victory and power. Even pleading for their lives or arguing the value of those potentially lost felt useless, settling on a quiet, angry hatred. He seemed to think they were puppets acting by the motions of strings, delivering a period of silence to cease his rambling. As several moments passed with no reply, Jacob looked around the empty corridor, not hearing anything aside from the soft noises that came from his open com-badge line.
"Is he gone?", Emily was the first to speak, hanging on to the hacker's words of godly grandeur. When that voice did not respond to Emily through interjection as he seemed to favor, Jacob let the air out of his chest and lowered his head to relax and let some of his anger go. He did not need outside sources blinding him, thinking of just getting back to Kayla's side. With any hope, she was not scared. Jacob had faith in her.
"Let's keep moving.", the Karrian of the split group suggested, voice lower and weaker than it had been after his first success with the blast door. Out on the other end, Blaine nodded his head and motioned for his crew to resume their duties.
"I'll be able to help once I have functions up here. Blaine out.", Lieutenant Brayden closed the communications line himself this time, trying not to be somber with confidence surrounding them wavering. Jacob had already resumed walking, Emily in close tow behind him. They were becoming used to walking amongst darkness, guided only by the low emergency lighting they were granted by portions of the power system not damaged by their hacker's hand. What was left, was what he wanted to be left, Jacob had to figure. Just like his first non-computer "hacking" technique, Kayla would have given him props for figuring that out.
"I said sorry to Kayla for getting her into trouble. Then I found out she wasn't even upset with me.", Jacob looked up to his side, using mostly his eyes while slowly walking and trying to navigate. Suddenly striking conversation, Emily found comfort the boy was thinking about her daughter just as she was. He could feel strong, and look strong, but there was still a seven year old inside of him seeking safety and reassurance. Maybe she could have a use after all, even if her fingers wanted to shake like leaves in the wind. She was at least there to talk to him.
"Kayla is big on forgiving.", Emily decided to start thinking aloud right on with him, thinking back to all the times she forgave the mistakes those around her made, such as Ninne, or even Emily herself. The human woman placed her hand against the smooth white skin of her right cheek, making a small sigh of sorts.
"She wouldn't blame a session of discipline on you.", Emily thought, considering her role as a parent. Kayla was an understanding, always repentant and sorry kind of soul that just wanted to live and find that something that made her happy, replacing the false, darker sense of joy her crimes provided her. It was just Kayla's way. Even the kind, wise old doctor at her side had to endure such correction, accepting it with grace just as her daughter did. Jacob had to think that was Kayla she was describing alright, checking markers and numbers on certain bulkheads as they approached an intersection that lacked any power, squinting to see.
The green scaled Karrian grew quiet, too close to Kayla to not be anxious about how she was doing and if she was okay. Damn it, he loved her. Emily couldn't know that yet, leaving his words to the confines of his mind. The kisses, soft words, and sensual nights. Jacob would always be more than just a friend, having shared such hardships with the Aspatrian he owed so much to. His muzzle pointed ahead, paws ready at his sides, he worked to find the central computer room. Kayla had to be there. She had to be.
As it would be, though, the cunning fox had not yet arrived there, still on the deck above. Armed with a weapon, she was relying on it's automatically recharging power source to brute force the last of her way to the computer room. Thumb over the grey button that acted as the phaser's trigger, she mashed the fur of her finger up to her skin with a firm press to it. Crimson red particles ripped at the armored bulkhead surrounding a blast door she encountered, maintaining a steady stream for three seconds each time before allowing the emitter to cool. Both paws on the phaser to hold it steady with her fears causing intermittent shakes, this was already the second blast door she was trying to overcome. With some time, she had punched through the first by causing enough damage to it's surrounding area that the armored door simply fell out of it's socket to land with a massive rumble against the floor only to reveal she had a second blast door to pass if she was going to continue the direction she wished from the intersection she gained access to. Each press of the phaser's trigger lit the area up red, reflecting off her steadfast eyes under the brilliance of the weapon's ray of nadion particles vaporizing metallic alloy, and burning that which was nearby in a strong explosive snap.
However, the area around the door was charring and growing mangled enough that the smoke and near toxic particulate she was kicking up into the air was beginning to make her cough. Halting her efforts a moment, she lowered the weapon into just her right paw so the left could cover her muzzle, and brush debris from her nose. Chest already tight, each cough compressed chest and diaphragm muscle to jolt pain around her body; tail curling against her leg to endure the brief coughing fit. Kayla had shielded her sensitive ears from the blasts by intentionally folding them against her head tightly, to act as a sound deadener. Allowing them up from their place, her paw covered her nose to take a deep, recuperating breath without sucking in a cloud of smoke so directly.
Kayla stared at the blast door wearily and with strong irritation, standing with an aggressive stance while trying to cut her way to freedom. This door was not giving like it's previous, acting as if it was fused to the bulkheads and surrounding supports, like it probably should have been. Her first victory seemed much more like a fluke, not making proper headway through this one as she did the last one. Checking the settings to the phaser again, she examined it to see if she could milk any more power from it. Tapping a few keys, it beeped in acknowledgement as it did before, going past it's maximum setting. Kayla wasn't aware it would allow her to do that, seeing the small display flash it's solid red line, while adding additional numerical data referring to it's area of effect. Flinging the phaser's emitter end back out towards the center of the blast door, she took a single additional step back and placed her thumb back over the firing button.
Her right paw trembled, making her focus and try to aim it steadily while her left paw shielded her muzzle from tainted air. Squeezing the body of the weapon tighter, her shakes subsided for a moment, prompting her to press the trigger and fire. Instead of shooting out a straight instantaneous beam, the phaser spent half a second building up a high pitched whine before emitting a bright, strong spread of nadion energy. As if giving a bottle of fluid a strong squeeze, it sprayed out the destructive particles in a display of red and white, striking the door and it's surrounding damaged areas with a bright crash. Kayla's thumb left the firing button to fling her arm over her eyes with a surprised sort of growl, having shaken herself up accidentally as bits and pieces of metal bounced off her fur. Once able to look over her forearm, sparks were falling from the now shattered red lock-down light above the door, and it's metal looked nearly molten - sizzling as her ears lifted from her head.
"Well that did something.", Kayla whispered to herself, sounding annoyed even in victory, as the door crept upwards at a snail's pace. The mechanisms to raise the door had likely been destroyed after her repeated high power volleys of phaser beams, but the mechanisms that held it closed seem to have broken quite well. As if on a weak spring, the door lifted up just barely over the course of twelve seconds as if something was holding it and pulling it. Leaving her with barely enough room to roll under, Kayla laid down on the composite floor tiling and rolled beneath it, coming close to being burned on her muzzle from the hot base of the thick door. Feeling the heat, she rolled quick enough to make the fluids inside her skull flow around and make her feel light headed; making jingles of metal across the ground as her clothing caught tiny scraps of armor plating and covers.
Clambering to her feet, Kayla took a couple of deep breaths while rubbing her muzzle, trying to get over the quickness of her actions and the near miss of having her muzzle burned. Crossing her eyes, in the poor light of the corridor, it seemed like she might have slightly singed the very tips of her canid whiskers on the left side of her snout. In the thick of life of death, not even a tom-boy sort of young girl wasn't thrilled at the idea of marring her complexion. Kayla grumbled, holding her phaser more limply in her paw as her feet continued their trek, passing new sets of beams and undecorated struts. Her white t-shirt was blackened and dirty from rolling on the ground, having picked up all the soot and debris she made; shifting with each passing step just as her tail did behind her. Many areas of DeltaStar's interior looked the same, forcing the fox to take her time and try to remember what turns she needed to take. This was her final stretch, coming upon her final intersections and not seeing any further security doors. Up above, radiating down to her ears, the intercom system popped as it came active; prompting Kayla to tilt her head back and huff out of agitation.
"You know I don't want to talk to you, bastard.", Kayla snapped up at the sound, getting in the first word. Not willing to participate in his nonsense and murderous ranting, the fox lifted up her phaser and began setting it's power level back to the standard maximum. While looking at it's display, the hacker chuckled differently than before, sounding quieter or subdued in a relaxed state. Everything he did changed so rapidly, echoing through these corridors. Erratic and wild actions were his nature, drunk with control and twisted by criminal ideals. The demon couldn't even let the U.S.S Capitol run away, blindly firing to see if he could kill it's crew before they could act. Kayla's hate ran deep, unable to forget the voice and face of Captain Ti'krex, or the wonders of seeing it's warp core, the site of it's inevitable destruction.
"You'd like it if I disappeared to rot, wouldn't you?", he asked of her, sending down his voice from his digital perch. Noticing the black, shining dome of a security camera not far past the blast door she trashed, Kayla looked up and gave it a snide smile.
"I'd like to see you a Penitatas at my side.", she replied with force and no hint of hesitation, putting forth her true desire. Putting him away and crashing his parade to knock him down a peg, she wanted the hacker and murderer to suffer at the hands of Federation law. If he thought he was better than Packet-Storm and could take her place, he could join her in the same fate, right where Kayla believed hackers belonged. More so, it was where she believed murderers and killers belonged, listening to his voice always so devoid of pity or remorse. His freedom mocked the efforts and tears of Penitatas, paying for their mistakes while this 'God' racked up a monstrous list in such a short period of time. Cold, and calculated, this was his plan being set in motion.
"And you feel as if you can make that happen?", the nameless voice questioned with a tone, hinting to her doubts within her mind. Surrounded by nothing more than a voice, this invisible, intangible hacker had her frightened. Her fingers and paws trembled at his very voice. The hacker could not harvest her insecurities as he could others though, with Kayla giving a nod of her head as she walked.
"I'm going to try.", Kayla declared, leaving the view of one camera to appear within the range of one far down the hall. Just up ahead the corridor split into an alcove with a lift the width of the corridor, and another corridor off to another portion of this deck's interior. Shining from a white light above, the silver and grey metallic alloys that made up the lift spoke of the end of Kayla's journey here. It would take her right down into the central computer room, bringing a note of peace over her heart.
"That's kind of sad to hear, Packet-Storm.", he said in a happy manner in blatant contrast to the words he used. Shaking her head slightly, Kayla no longer felt like sharing words with the crazed man. It was her discomfort and hate of his evil that kept her from breaking down and sobbing over the deaths she witnessed, using her determination to suppress her emotions. With it, she couldn't bring herself to deal with his games and torment. The pads of her feet cushioning her steps across the composite tile, Kayla was steps away from the intersection and the lift mere paces ahead of that, to face this man hacker to hacker. Across the deck, her ears picked up a long, sighing sort of hum. That one he hadn't made before, even if she could imagine a sadistic smile sprawled in front of a glowing console.
"Well, it looks like we'll have to say goodbye now.", the voice from above spoke in a much plainer manner than his erratic nature had ever allowed up till then. Lacking his standard taunting demeanor, Kayla's brows lowered, finding something extremely wrong with his sudden farewell.
Kayla's ears stood on end, snapping forward in an instant, as soon as she stepped foot into the intersection of the corridors. Faster than her eyes could move, the fox dodged to her right, fleeing for a corner two intersecting beams made where the corridor branched off into another at the beckon of her hearing as soon as they caught the shrill sound of moving mechanics. Out of the ceiling, hidden by a matching plate on it's bottom, a device snapped out and extended two barrel-like emitters, breaking out into weapons fire once it deployed. Following Kayla's movement, it's high pitched shots were not that of beams, but more like bullets of energy, made by a higher class of Federation phaser that could fire in bolts. By the time it deployed the agile fox had dived into the small space the support struts at the intersecting corridors made, shoving her back into it with a thump as red bolts of energized nadion particles riddled the floor and walls. Tightly grinding her teeth, Kayla winced and held her breath, listening to the scatter of shots striking the area like a gatling gun; sparks and sharp pings of metallic sound beneath the blare of the turret's weapons. If it wasn't for her ears, Kayla would have never noticed the rapid deployment of a defensive turret before it killed her in the middle of that walkway.
The turret chirped, ceasing it's fire to bring the intersection under it's watchful sensors. While activated by the hand of it's master, a trap Kayla was intended to walk into, the turret was automatic and sensed motion. Barely hidden around the corner of the beam she pressed her right shoulder into, Kayla's eyes were wide with fear, seeing the marks of phaser bolts across the floor and the mouth of the new corridor to her left. She could not look over her right shoulder to see the lift any longer without potentially dying in the process. It was possible to slip into the adjacent corridor without being shot, but that would have taken her away from the central computer room. Giving up would have meant dying under a different trap, as their puppet master premeditated his murder. Over the intercom, a wild laugh came roaring over the system, keeping Kayla's fur standing on end, trembling with a look of anger.
"I can't see you! Are you dead?", DeltaStar's puppet master taunted maniacally, sounding overjoyed and thrilled over the volley of phaser bolts he littered the intersection with. Using a camera just behind the turret, he had a wonderful view, but he couldn't see if Kayla had been struck before making it behind the corridor's strut, just outside of the area for the lift. Huddled in the near corner of the intersection, Kayla bared her teeth like a rabid animal. Kill me, will you? Squeezing her phaser, the fox took a deep breath, deciding to risk life and limb. Back to the strut, barely out of view to the turret's left, Kayla used her agile body to the best of it's ability.
Swinging her torso to her right, she placed herself just a little out in the open, throwing out her arm to fire her phaser in a quick burst. Seeing the black turret for only a split second, her phaser beam skittered across the ceiling, coming to blast a piece of armored paneling just to the turret's right. Even with a quick action, Kayla barely got back under cover in time as the turret opened fire on her position. Phaser bolts slammed the floor by her feet, and one nailed the corner of her beam close enough to rain embers down to disappear against the fur of Kayla's right arm. Right next to her eye line, the close shot chipped the metal, leaving a rut. The rapid fire bursts again came to cease with a chirp, leaving Kayla panting in terror. Her heart pounded, aching her body, as her right paw found itself almost unable to hold the phaser in her fingers. They grew weak as her body withered, even as her will cried for her to go on. She had barely avoided being hit, but the area around her small sanctuary was becoming pitted and damaged.
"No, I suppose you're not dead yet. Try again, give it time!", that damning voice laughed openly, encouraging her to continue to fight to her death. Damn it, she was so close! The lift was right there, beneath the hail of nadion particles the turret sent down to anything that moved. With fear so intense she could barely move, Kayla felt cornered enough to want to beg for help. That want to be saved, and taken away. Sadly, it was others that relied on her. Such pressure made her eyes water; the sleeve of her shirt being enough to bring on another sea of red bullets of energy, lighting up the area with it's violent rays upon impacting any of the bits of corridor in front of her that she came from, or the corridor mouth to her immediate left. Closing her eyes, Kayla had to do something. Anything, it didn't matter.
"Step out, you poor thing. It'll be over quick! I promise!", the cruel hacker taunted further, growing more excited and rowdy the longer he sat in anticipation of the blood spatters he could see over the clear view of his security camera. That voice felt to be what was in his heart and mind, screaming to get out. It painted a picture of his true nature, being more than a simple hacker or menace to society.
"Never.", Kayla mouthed to herself, closing her eyes as a sob wanted to come up from her throat. Tightening her chest, she forced it down, swallowing to try and keep composure and control. If the turret could be set off by the sleeve of her dirty white t-shirt, then something else could set it off too, perhaps. It moved fast on it's base, nearly having killed her even after she realized it was going to deploy before it did. A risk and gamble came across her mind, but it was simple enough to maybe work. Trying to move as little as possible, Kayla moved her phaser to her left paw, and dipped her right into her pocket. Reaching down, she pulled out the translucent blue memory chip her mother had given her before leaving Earth, poised between her index and middle finger. Exchanging the items against the front of her jeans at waist level, she readied both her phaser and the chip. If this didn't work well enough, she was about to die. Two years of being a Penitatas for nothing, only to find love only at the end of her brief existence. Looking down at the chip, the light from above shined off it just enough to see through it to her fur on the other side. Choked up with tension and terror, Kayla growled sharply in a feminine canid manner, going straight for it.
The blue memory chip left her paw with a flick of her wrist, going out into the other side of the three-way intersection to clack against the wall. As soon as it hit, Kayla threw her body out into the intersection, raising the phaser in the shortest moment of her life. Above the turret began it's angry firing, littering the wall of the corridor and it's floor full of ruts, re-targeting to Kayla as soon as she made herself present. In the style of a duel, they both bore their weapons down on each other.
Kayla mashed her thumb into the grey trigger of her phaser, squeezing every muscle of her body as the red phaser bolts flung towards her. The fox's beam impacted the turret, striking it with enough destructive force to blast a portion of it clear apart; emitters falling to the ground like the clang of a pipe. It's final shots struck just shy of Kayla's left; the dark spots and sharp ruts in the composite tile ending before her left arm and footpaw. Standing in silence, body wobbling from her tremors, the young girl saw death in her eyes. By the time she had moved out to move forward with her plan as soon as the chip struck the wall, the turret was already correcting itself. The last discharges of loud, bright bolts from it's emitters looked as if they were headed straight for her neck and head. During that fraction of a second, Kayla believed she failed, yet she stood here without a hole in her body.
Her right arm going numb, her phaser fell from her paw to clatter against the ground with a partial roll. Sick to her stomach from a shock so terrifying and harrowing, having felt the heat of a phaser blast go past her left cheek, Kayla fell to her paws and knees once her legs gave out on her. Landing hard on her paws with a burst of pain up her forearms and wrists, like a heavy whack of a ruler to her palms, she clenched her eyes closed and shook. As a result of her trauma her stomach twisted into knots, tail curling between her thighs. Kayla wretched with her maw wide, coughing up tainted fluids mixed with stringy, bubbling saliva; the small amount spilling against the cool ground over a burnt rut caused by a phaser bolt. Breathing erratically through her nose, the young fox spit the foul flavor from her muzzle, leaving a thin stand hanging from her lower jaw. It wasn't her most dignified, proud, or powerful moment after saving her own life from what should have been certain death. Here she was, throwing up like a coward; thankful she hadn't eaten a single thing all day. The stomach acid burned, but she looked less foolish - the world spinning in a daze around her. Kayla underestimated the fortitude of her bravery in that moment.
"You sure know how to be a disappointment.", the hacker looked down on her from the camera several paces ahead, tucked into a niche in the back of the wall behind the lift. Slowly raising her head, wiping the bit of sticky spittle from her mouth, Kayla glared at the security camera with a crushing tension over her heart. Her body was battered by the effects of her own fear and attempts to survive, widdling down her energy and clarity of mind. Weak as she may have been, or looked, she was still Kayla. The Aspatrian was not going to let this go as long as she was alive.
"Fuck you.", Kayla's voice trembled as she tried to breathe, panting and squinting at his camera. Even her words were quiet and weak, though filled with anger and hatred. Time was allowing her brain to think again, coming down from the massive shot of adrenaline. Standing up slowly and carefully, Kayla stumbled backwards with a limp sway of her tail to catch her back against the wall of the corridor a few steps from the lift. Breathing in silence, DeltaStar's hacker did not raise his voice to haunt her again. With the turret above dropping sparks at her bare feet, Kayla scooped up her phase and stepped onto the lift to lean against it's railing. A press to it's operating controls had the lift humming, slowly descending her away from the ordeal she had faced, to take on her last one.
Silver strips of metal grating pressed at the bare, soft pads of her feet and toes; Kayla placing her head in her left paw while the phaser dangled from her right. Her fingers went over her muzzle and eyes, thumb pressing into the sore muscle below her lower eyelid. Each part of her ached, searing at her normally bright blue eyes. Young and faced with her own mortality, Kayla's eyes glistened under the white light above where the light shined between her fingers. Orange fur worn and messy, and her clothing dirty, the fox didn't know what she wanted. She wanted to see this hacker fall, while at the same time she yearned for home, and another chance to start the day right. Coming over her virus, Kayla could have spent a good few moments under Emily's radar with Jacob to more properly thank him for making her feel well. There were good times and happy memories to be made, if it wasn't for the horrors that came from around every corner of this place.
Moving her left paw, the lift began to sink into the central computer room, giving her the first glimpse of it. Seeing it under normal lighting and standard power, her eyes squinted to adjust to the brighter light. This really wasn't the first time she had seen this room Kayla quickly realized, looking out over the grey floor and red and orange consoles. Spaced apart from each other, one for each anti-intrusion staff member Mister Peretti had, she had watched this room while completing Maxwell and Tyson's hack those several months prior. Lift coming to a stop, Kayla stepped off with a few bounds of her legs, finding her footing and making her way out into the room. To her right along the entire wall was a structure of main computers and memory banks, with the consoles all to her left, facing that wall. This is where she had seen technicians working in such utter frustration at the problems she gave them, shutting down the coolant system for the station somewhere just beyond this wall, she thought, placing her free paw upon a brightly lit lattice of memory modules just a few steps beyond the lift.
On the far other side of the room, it's primary entry way stood wide open with two sets of double sliding doors unaffected by the station lock-down. The floor was lit like one big light between the two sets of doors, shining out into the computer room to illuminate a DeltaStar insignia on the wall. Having seen this place before, it was surreal to stand in it, and walk past the two consoles she sat. Turning out towards the back of the room, up at the ceiling, she found a black dome; the security camera she herself had used. Wandering with awestruck was calming her nerves, finding comfort in the familiar. She had defeated this system before, and by damn would she do it again to take it out of a killer's hands.
"The U.S.S Tillman made contact, Jacob. They noticed trouble and stayed at a distance, using DeltaStar's transporter relay network to amplify their com-badge carrier signal when hails went unanswered. She'll be at standby status for an emergency beam-out if we can regain control of the station.", Lieutenant Brayden's voice bounced around the black corridor Jacob was attempting to traverse by feel, unable to see a lick of light aside from the small amount his tricorder emanated. It was a poor light source, but he needed something to figure out where he was going; Emily holding his tail instead of a paw, to allow him to keep them free to work. The good news prompted the Karrian to reply right away, but the Lieutenant's voice returned, making him wait on the positive sentiment.
"They also confirmed a debris field of Federation origin. No signs of surviving craft.", Blaine's voice toned down for, while he and his team were already dealing with hearing the news loud over his com-badge the first time. There was no hiding that sad note, Jacob squinting his eyes out of the pain of it. He imagined there being cadets and kids on the Capitol too, like those he saved on his own vessel, happy about getting aboard their first heavy cruiser of the Capitol's reputation. To imagine it gone was like thinking of the Apollo meeting a fate such as that. Eyes closed, it wasn't like he was missing out on anything going through dark hallways with no power in the least; air stale.
"At least we know.", Jacob's emotions relented, lowering his voice to something soft to convey how he felt. Now he felt bad again for betraying Captain Ti'krex's offer to use their amenities, thinking of the man's last moments. With no one to see his face in the dark, his face curled into one of disdain and anger. He wanted to shed tears for his fallen comrades, loathing violence and needless killing. Encouraged by his young mind and age, Jacob was on the edge of it, but he held back; light coming to shine off his green scales and disrupt his privacy. Seeing a source of light, he moved towards it.
"I may have found the central computer room. I'll get back to you.", the boy spoke with a note of calm hope, tapping his singed com-badge to close the line and walk a little faster, Emily releasing his tail now that she could see.
Kayla's right ear flicked at picking up a sound, left paw still on the side of one of the technicians' consoles. It sounded like a voice in the distance, absorbed by the corridors of DeltaStar. Head towards the door, her ears pointed towards it with curious hope as another voice came through, sounding different from the first. Stepping right into her line of sight, out of the darkness beyond the bright light of the computer room's entryway, Jacob and her mother had finally reached the central computer room. The fox's face lit up, bringing a wide, open mawed smile slowly to her face.
"Jacob! Mom!", Kayla cried out, joy cutting through her pains and the burning sensation in her throat to come out purely happy to see her loved ones.
"Kayla!", Emily called back, sounding both surprised and thankfully relieved, ready to assume her place at her daughter's side. Not taking time to call out, seeing her worn face and sullied clothing told Jacob she had been through hell. Making a small, child's sprint towards Kayla, he went to meet her half way and catch her in a hug. Happiness and celebration abound, there were other forces at work at the very moment. Joy was not an emotion permitted under the hull of DeltaStar station.
Jacob's feet had cleared the lighted panel that made up the floor of the central computer room's entry point, spreading his arms with his medical tricorder in his right paw to catch his fox. Almost catching his tail, grazing his scales in a sudden motion that made him gasp and spin back around, the pair of double doors shot closed and hissed with a pressurized seal - slamming shut in Emily's face. Both doors had a pair of clear windows, sounding like reinforced aluminum used on hull of starships when Emily's hands banged on them, calling to be let out. Her voice was badly muffled behind the doors; events occurring in split seconds once again to throw Kayla and Jacob off guard. Kayla and Jacob bolting to the door, they could see Emily start to cough and gasp for air silently on their side of the door, overwhelming them with panic once again.
"Mom?", Kayla tried to ask loudly through the door, pounding back on it. Watching someone else in danger was different than dealing with her own problems. Right away, Jacob threw his tricorder up and began scanning the atmosphere behind the door as the device actually was designed to do. He started shaking his head, trying to work quickly and respond to Kayla's worried face.
"It's some sort of decontamination chamber for coming here to work on the computers, but it's sucking the air out!", he snapped his head toward her to advise as quickly as he could speak, gesturing heavily with his free paw that they would have to do something right now. Oxygen levels in the room were dropping rapidly, with Emily looking choked and desperately panicked. The same feeling came over Kayla, her jaw trembling at the sight of her mother suffocating.
"Did you think I wouldn't have a solution for them as well, Packet-Storm?", their hacker's voice returned and asked curiously, interfering with her thoughts and efforts with his sudden intentional intrusion. Dropping her phaser, Kayla ran to the small console in the wall beside the door, quickly trying to access it with a nervous flurry of keystrokes as she was known for; trying desperately to not make any errors at her speed.
"Let her go! That's my mother!", Kayla screamed out in a child's painful agony, eyes knowingly watering in front of their tormenter. She could not help herself, so close to her parent in trouble. The tips of her fingers jammed at the flat touch-keys, filling the space around her with a mass of beeps and the occasional error chime to denote her actions as failed and to try another. Across the side of the display red numbers blinked, showing an abnormal oxygen saturation level now close to zero, taunting her of the danger time passing caused.
"She doesn't have fur. That's unlikely.", he chuckled casually, acting like an entertained spectator to it all. At least this way, Packet-Storm could watch those she loved die, if she refused to die herself. While the fox jammed at the console, Jacob knelt down and grabbed the phaser she dropped; Emily holding her neck and starting to look blue, leaning against the door to stand. Shoving his muzzle up against the door, Jacob shouted so that she might hear him.
"Get back from the door!", he ordered firmly, running from it's smooth surface to make distance. Stumbling on her feet and unable to breathe at all any longer, Emily got away from the door to lean against the side wall, chest burning from the lack of air. Her desperation and fear was across her face, seeing her tears and grimace from the pain, and the fight she was giving to stick with it. Raising the phaser as he did in Starfleet from tactical training, his arm met a ninety degree angle and fired at the translucent material that made the door's window. The weapon's radiant beam struck the area with little fanfare, needing a few moments to punch through with a loud pop of air. It did nothing to open the doors and get her out safely, but it gave her an opportunity to survive.
"Come! Breathe from here!", Jacob called loudly as he holstered the phaser at his waist, waving Emily forward to come to the melted looking hole. The older human woman darted for the hole he made, sticking her face up to it with a pained gasp, trying hard to get the oxygen her lungs so badly needed. The Karrian lifted his medical tricorder, taking Emily's readings while Kayla worked. Her ears heard the sounds of Jacob's tricorder and her mother's gasping, wheezing desperation. Sad, almost tearfully terrified, she sounded. The pain this nameless hacker gave to others hurt the fox dearly, mashing keys like the hacker she was, or at least, once was. It was the actions and grace of Packet-Storm that inspired and paved the way for hackers such as he, bent on achieving the degree of control she had, to use it for the greater evils. As if the past had really come back to haunt her, it was even trying to kill those she met and grew to love since the start of her sentence.
Lieutenant Brayden was right, Kayla thought deep down, tuning out all the loud and chaotic sounds overwhelming her mind. As she thought, her fingers found their marks, diving into the controls for the door and decontamination system. This was not hacking; not like she knew it. The dance of her fingers and race of her heart beat to a different drum, focused on stopping a hacker instead of enabling. To safe a life, rather than ruin, all without breaking a law. There was no double edged sword, or varying viewpoints on what was right and wrong here. Through her hatred for this hacker, 'God' as he referred to himself previously out of arrogance and insanity, Kayla also found a degree of peace. The fox looked into the mirror so many times to see her reflection, seeing herself in the actions of another evil. Now the two hackers contrasted like night and day, shattering the concept of being like him. Kayla Ackart and Packet-Storm were the same person; wayward, but full of the right ideas, and the will to change. She would never again hurt people, or sit by and allow others to take her place.
Kayla's console chirped approvingly, giving a series of sounds as the door mechanisms depressurized themselves and opened back up; fresh air blowing across Emily's face like a breath of life. Leaping from the light of the entry room, Jacob grabbed her around the belly with his arms, as if he was strong enough to hold a grown human woman at his age. Force of habit, he supposed, trying to ensure Emily was at least steady.
"Mom!", Kayla called to her parent again, taking off on her footpaws fast enough to lose the tear in her right eye; the droplet falling gently upon the console she used. Her arms flung open and plowed into her mother, eyes watering on the edge of sobbing out of stress. Breathing heavily, trying to get her wind back, the mother placed a hand on the back of Kayla's head, stroking through her fur. She looked down with a sense of calming peace, still here to be in this world.
"It's okay Kayla.", Emily whispered down with a note of appreciation, seeing such an outpour of care and affection from a Penitatas. Her little fox saved her life. Letting go of Emily, Jacob turned around while snapping shut his tricorder, not looking pleased while Kayla and Emily had a quiet moment as mother and child. Looking around the room with a face full of anger, the wise old doctor was deeply concerned about their hacker threat. He refused to bear witness to murder, having so nearly seen Emily perish under his guise.
"How can he do so much at once!", Jacob shouted out, throwing his right arm with his paw open in wide, aggressive gesture. It wasn't like him to get so riled up, but he supposed he did when he ran into a room filled with radiation to his own certain death. This was similar to that in the mortality area.
"He's abusing technology, using multiple consoles and devices to make up for what he can't do.", Kayla was the one to reply, using a heavy note of hatred just as Jacob did. Seeing his efforts appear time and time again across DeltaStar, he must had had help maintaining system control to focus so much on individual areas. Letting go of her daughter, Emily stood up straight with a hand open on her chest to finish recovering and to let the girl do as she needed. Appearing battered and dirty, she was afraid to ask what had happened just yet, considering their lack of safety. But, at least the three were reunited.
"Just like the old days, huh Packet-Storm?", the room's voice taunted Kayla in the presence of Emily and Jacob, prompting Kayla to wipe her eyes and sprint across the central computer room to the first counter-intrusion console available. Determined to end this once and for all, the eight year old Aspatrian leapt into the technician's chair and slid up to the controls; eyes burning with a cold sense of duty. He tried to kill her, then her mother and partner, along with the hundreds of lives he took away already. DeltaStar did not belong in his hands. Rubbing her paws together, the fox took a deep breath and focused on the screen and it's idle colors, not used to doing two jobs back to back while in such a small, weak body. Emily and Jacob gave Kayla her space, quickly walking up some paces behind her to watch. Hacker against hacker, they hoped for the best.
"You sure?", laughed across the open floor of the central computer room, the deadly hacker seeing her sitting there ready to begin a struggle for system control. Kayla grinned with her confidence, letting her negative emotions slide off her back. She had her mother and Jacob backing her, and she wasn't alone. Pausing, without moving or replying, Kayla relaxed her body, finding her wisdom and experience to begin and fight this nameless, terrible man on her home turf.
As soon as the fox's paws shot out across the console to bring up it's programs and resume it's operation, a shrill whine caught her ears and made her pupils wide. It happened so instantaneously, the fox barely got to begin. Before she could act or Jacob shout out, the computer console ruptured in a severe power surge, blasting it's display and controls apart with a rain of sparks and a bright flash, coupled with Kayla's sharp scream. The explosive crack and subsequent shrapnel sent the young Aspatrian tumbling, sent backwards and clear out of her chair. It wasn't because she was pushed there, but because she was in agony, landing on her side and screaming with her paws clutched to her chest. The small explosion of heat and damaging force occurred directly against her paws and out over her face, again falling under the influence of what their puppet master wanted her to do.
Jacob slammed the floor with his knees hard enough to bang it's metal surface, sliding out his tricorder and medical scanner both at the same time in his quick actions. Flicking his tricorder open, his right paw and scanner fought to see Kayla's paws while she kicked and squirmed, tightly huddled up in desperate, terrifying pain. Straight across the left side of her muzzle, headed towards the bridge of her snout, was a gash and blackened soot, filling with a line of warm Aspatrian blood.
"Kayla please, let me see!", the young doctor begged her, trying to look into Kayla's face. Her eyes were clenched shut and streaming with tears; blood beginning to appear against her shirt. It struck Jacob in the chest, fearing her injuries and the sort of pain she was enduring. It hurt him to do it, but he reached to grab her forearms and force her to show him what was bleeding. In pain, Kayla screamed at the touch, growling beneath it all as Emily held her hand to her mouth and welled up inside, stiff with shock. The two rejuves struggled and fought, Jacob trying so hard to do what was necessary against the fox's will.
Pulling her paws from her chest, Jacob tensed up with phantom pains upon seeing what the hacker had done to her. Kayla's left paw seemed no worse for wear, just battered and scratched, but her right paw was at the site of the console rupture. Bloody with wounds and burns, having sheared and cooked mangled patches of fur right off her skin. It was blackened, dripping with blood as it trembled, clearly in agony from the amount of damage it received. Holding Kayla's wrist down, Jacob set his tricorder down and plucked his cylindrical medical emitter away from where it had been pinned against his companion's arm for his other paw to use. It's red light came on, shining against Kayla's skin and the mass of twitching, dripping fingers. Staring down at the tricorder, the reptilian boy began to growl in sharp frustration, tensing his entire arms before lifting his body and slamming the small cylindrical device down on the floor. With a bang, it bounced violently, rolling off with jumps across the room. He fried it, having badly overheated it's insides. It looked like it was working, cellular reconstitution emitter shining, but no cells were being repaired. Bringing forth a fit of angry, sad frustration, the doctor damned himself for ruining his equipment to leave Kayla in such a state. Tears fought against Jacob's eyes, looking down at the bleeding, serious injury with fixation.
"I'll see if I can find a first aid kit!", Emily exclaimed as a motherly idea out of sheer worry, scrambling back to her feet to try and help her daughter. Jacob shook his head immediately, growling as a Karrian would, snapping his head back over his right shoulder.
"Stop!", he looked up as if to directly order as Commander Vasse, staring her down with a pair of solemn teary eyes. Such a harshly said word stopped Emily in her tracks, wishing she would not have to see Kayla writhe. Where she stood, she looked down over Jacob and Kayla, taking in the gravity of the face the young, scaled boy made.
"We've fallen into enough traps. I'll make do!", Jacob tried to firmly reassure, taking control as best he knew how with a harsh smack of his reptilian tail against the ground to emphasize his point. The metallic floor chimed as if it was struck with a heavy slab of meat; Jacob's tail striking it unknowingly hard through how he felt. The Commander flung his attentions back down, raising his paws to his own shirt.
"Kayla...", Emily spoke with a notion of sad pain, standing above to watch her suffer, sobbing and screaming while trying to clutch her paw. Skin burnt and hanging, stripped of fur, she had never seen her daughter so badly injured. You were never too old to be traumatized.
While she soaked in lament and worry, Jacob was quickly trying to unbutton his dignified, clean tan shirt. Having it undone enough, he ripped it from his slacks and pulled his Starfleet badge off, sticking it to his right thigh. Off over his head, he began to wrap the shirt protectively around Kayla's paw, working to use it as a bandage. Unfortunately the act was meat with a cry and a heavy squirm, fighting with her paws to let him help her. Seeing her like this and putting such effort against her desperate attempts to get the shirt off her burnt skin, Jacob squeezed his teeth together and sobbed once. It was a hard struggle against someone he didn't wish to hurt.
"I'm sorry.", Jacob apologized tearfully and sadly, causing Kayla agony in order to protect her. Wrapping his shirt around her paw tightly, he held it firmly to create pressure and stop her wounds from bleeding in the absence of modern medical technology. Muzzle so close to hers, Jacob wanted to kiss her cheek, or distract her with a nip to the neck like she loved. With Emily above him, casting a shadow on his bare scaled back, there was no way he could comfort her in any way aside from a friend without doing the poor girl a disservice she didn't need.
Inside the mess of tan shirt, growing bloody as a makeshift cloth bandage, a bit of the Aspatrian's blood smeared across Jacob's gold Command pin, tainting it with a streak of thin red. Holding the shirt tight, rocking it as he did to soothe, Jacob found himself not trying to hide the fact there were a pair of glistening tears trailing down his young cheeks. This was too much for her, and too much for anyone. DeltaStar was that hacker's territory now, in too much control to eject him from here. This battle had been lost. Kayla, it wasn't your fault. Damn it, just know that. DeltaStar was a trap, a set-up!
"You're going to be okay Kayla. If you can calm down, the bleeding will slow faster.", Jacob spoke down to her encouragingly, trying to smile for her benefit, though his words shook and it looked very forced behind his sullen worry. Kayla growled out, trying to open her eyes; grimacing from the pain flowing up her arm, and the sting plaguing the scratch across her muzzle. Endorphins were trying to dull her pain, coupled with adrenaline, clouding her existence with self-made drugs and inhibitors. Her right paw pulsed, pumping like her heart, her mind seemed to think it felt.
"You used to be so impressive Packet-Storm.", DeltaStar's captor decided to pipe up with his cheerful, mocking voice once he heard it would be a good thing if Kayla calmed down. Trying to rile her up, it looked like he was going to get his wish, as his words slowly got Kayla to work her way to her feet. Jacob would have rathered Kayla didn't, but his arms came to her rescue to prevent her from falling once she tried. Leaning against the back of the technician's console behind her, Kayla clutched Jacob's shirt against her right paw, and that against her chest, teeth bared as she looked up to speak to the voice.
"I don't have time for your mind games, damn you!", Kayla sharply and loudly shouted out to the room, overcome with pain and anger. Her lower eyelids twitched and trembled from all the things she felt, feeling powerless in the presence of her mother, and her partner. Their eyes looked to her as if she could do something, but the situation was getting too bleak for her hope to prevail. She thought she could sit down and eject this man from DeltaStar's system, but he pulled no punches. No wonder he never sounded scared about her reaching the central computer room - this was all rigged from the start. Now her most important appendage was out of commission, leaving her unable to type and input commands. Staring at the flickering, shattered face of the console in front of her, the thought of returning DeltaStar to it's owners went out the window. Her left paw squeezed Jacob's tan shirt, trying to not squeal from the stabbing impulses trashing her mind from her injuries.
"This must be hard for you after so many successes. I was there with you, when you attacked DeltaStar for the first time. Several all converged on the station while the security systems were busy, bearing witness in our participation. The others seemed excited once they realized something was going on, out in the expanse of the net.", the old hacker took her down memory lane once again, speaking with a plain "explaining" tone to his ever varying voice. You could feel his smile beaming down from all around. Kayla growled out, long and irritated.
"What of it!", she shouted back, not caring to hear his nonsense and fired up over her pain. She was aware there were additional carrier signals beside her own that day, where vultures came to enjoy the fruits of her labor. Her mind was busy trying to think of another solution or plan, revising her ideas on how he worked with as many fail safes as he created. There had to be something he could not fix, or did not think of. Kayla was certain he was not truly the best. It was just so hard, trying to think while under such duress. No, there would only be one king in existence. Not for her pride, but so the galaxy would not have to deal with a second one.
"You went out of your way to shut down the station's transmitter array when you were done, knocking us all out of the station. You didn't steal anything, and didn't let us either. But still, you thought you were something special. Like you controlled even us!", the voice grew more aggressive, making his points and barking his words; bouncing off of surfaces around the central computer room. While he spoke, Kayla swallowed with difficulty, holding back growls and whimpers from the stinging, burning pain searing up her arm. Beneath the embracing tight wrap of Jacob's shirt, her right paw tried to clench, hurting itself more in her anger; ache flowing into her elbow to make her entire arm tremble in pain. He even gouged her face, seeping a drip of blood down the side of her left muzzle, flowing over dirty fur.
"I couldn't care less about controlling you assholes.", Kayla lowered her head with a growl, trying to better clutch her paw under the strain of her lower voice. Her face twisted with agony, breathing shallowly; those she loved forced to listen to this man's deranged words and narcissism.
"I was a scumbag, not a thief, and no one was going to take advantage of me or my work. Even the old me had her principles! Might have starved at times, but fuck it!", the fox slowly raised her head back up, verbally spitting in the hacker's face. Swearing in front of her mother never even crossed her mind, or even Emily's own. It was just good to have Kayla back. Hurt, her voice remained strong. Her daughter, the infamous Packet-Storm, was tough and loving beneath her habits and the things she came to do that were wrong. She lived with nothing more than the little she had, and the equipment she could salvage in her times of inner despair and anger at the world around her. Kayla was a symbol of adversity, and what it meant to overcome. Upheld since the first day she became a Penitatas and stood in front of her parents for the first time, that small, timid six year old voice affirmed with pride that she did not steal.
Now she stood in defiance of a mass murderer, still alive, though maimed at his hands. Jacob's eyes stared at the security camera on the back wall, close to Kayla in case he needed to tend to her, or help her. They remained shiny with moisture, loyally abandoning his pride to stand without his shirt, Command pin, and scaled cheeks stained by trails of loose tears. Emily and Jacob owed her many things, just for being a part of their life. While their tormenter focused his words on Kayla alone, the three stood as a team. A family. Leaving Emily to think what she wanted, the Karrian reached out with his left paw, placing it behind Kayla's head to cradle her left ear. Kayla turned her gaze from the ceiling back down to his adoring face, receiving gentle scratches behind her ear from his claws. A favorite of hers, slowing her heart rate slightly. While the old hacker could not smile under such distress, her watery, worn eyes looked into his own, changing the way her brows curled from pain and hatred. Stroking bits of fur between his fingers, Jacob forced a smile through to his muzzle, promising without speaking that he was there for her.
"What use were you then?", the man teased over the room, laughing after he spoke his piece. To it, Kayla made a mocking snicker, pushing it out of her throat raspily from her pain. If it wasn't for Jacob's comfort, she wouldn't have been able to be so directly bold. Sneering out from her muzzle, baring a few teeth, she turned to look over her shoulder; Jacob's paw slipping off her head as the result of her movement. Her eyes focused out behind her towards the security camera he was without a doubt using.
"I wasn't of any. And what use are you?", Kayla snidely responded to him, feeling a weight lifted from her heart. Maybe that was a drop of forgiveness. She understood her days as a criminal brought the world nothing, and as such, her replacement was just as useless. Kayla had a use now. It was time to put the Packet-Storm of old to rest as she wanted, allowing her memories to live on in the Kayla Ackart of the present. She was back, but with a new cause. While their captor and puppet master began talking again, Kayla was already working to ignore it, giving Jacob a look and a tit of her head towards the black domed security camera.
"You won't get to see my use. Blood runs out eventually.", the hacker began "cutely", turning his words into more of a death sentence to spark urgency and fear in her heart. Standing over the DeltaStar banking platform, it began to feel as if striking fear and panic was what he enjoyed most of all. It wasn't like he could see her wounds well from a security camera when the fox had her back to him, but it was in this man's twisted nature to deliver the fear, and reality of death in a time of immortality. There would be no peace, and those he held within his proverbial hands would perish where they were.
Jacob and Kayla shared the same focused face after swapping looks; the Karrian distinctly understanding what the gesture meant just by the tilt of her muzzle and a glace to the phaser at his waist. Grasping the weapon with his right paw, the decommissioned Starfleet officer swung the phaser over Kayla's shoulder, the fox turning her head away and closing her eyes to shield her eyes as Jacob fired off a prompt shot. For the security camera, the room flashed red with the beam cutting off it's picture within the same second. The red ray of nadion ripped a hole in the wall, scorching into it with the remains of wires and circuitry hanging with burns. A clean shot from an experienced man, the wall's wound dropped no sparks, leaving little trace of the security camera out the crack shot across the room and the small spot settled. Not expecting her daughter and the boy she was caring for were collaborating without words, the reptile's sudden actions and the sound of a phaser being fired made Emily wince sharply.
Lowering the weapon to his side, shoving it back at his waist where his scanner would have gone, Jacob turned his attentions back to Kayla. His left paw held her right shoulder, leaning in close to communicate with her quietly - signaled by a flick of her ear and a motion with her eyes towards it, too busy clutching her right paw to bother using her left in gesture. Thankful for him and his company, standing there with no shirt and all the care in the world, the young, tired Aspatrian shared a quiet moment, side of her muzzle to his own. Emily stood curious, still half frozen with fear. She didn't want to speak if they weren't, hearing the sounds of the intercom crackle above.
"Lippy, boy. I scolded Packet-Storm for that earlier. Where are your manners?", that voice rang out to be ignored, neither the Karrian or Aspatrian shifting more than their tails, finding strength in their comfort together. Heads side by side, muzzle to muzzle, Kayla opened her eyes to the pained squint she had before; blood slowly soaking through Jacob's shirt to stain the fur of her left paw.
"Fill me in.", Kayla whispered into Jacob's ear, staying beneath what their hacking spy could hear. She had no idea what had gone on across the station, hoping her partner would have some news for her to use if they were going to work together to come up with a new plan. As it stood, Kayla didn't have one, and the voice above was right about her paw. She could not have been left that way for too long.
"The Lieutenant is where you left him. He's got power, but the controls are locked out. The U.S.S Tillman is in the sector, staying clear of the station. She's ready to go to warp and grab us if we give the word, so Starfleet is aware of us now.", Jacob raised the end of his snout to the warm opening of Kayla's right foxy ear, fur tickling against the tip of his muzzle. His whisper was exceptionally quiet, taking advantage of Kayla's acute hearing in keeping DeltaStar's hacker out of their plans. Kayla closed her eyes again, making a quiet, split second hum to show she had begun thinking of a way to let them help themselves. All Emily could so was just stand there, crossing her arms to dive into her own thoughts.
Kayla needed time to think, considering the possibility for a technique that could not be countered or turned into a trap. There were physical components to the station and computer that a intruder could not change, and that was where her mind focused her efforts. Going down to the arrays on the bottom deck would be impossible, as deadly as their brief trips to the central computer room had been. This was the heart of where his control spread out around the station, like arteries. A notion tickled her mind, trying to recall the more intricate workings on the station's systems, and how computers worked in general down to the most granular levels. For it she opened her eyes once more, hunching over a bit from pain, accidentally breaking her muzzle to muzzle stance with Jacob. The boy took a hold of her with his paws, helping her back up by her upper arms and shoulders.
"You okay?", the Karrian whispered with a slow motion of his tail, getting a bit of blood on his upper belly from touching his shirt wrapped around Kayla's right paw. Lowering his body a bit to look up into Kayla's face as he helper her up, the fox was able to bite her lip, breathing through her nose sharply and quick. She had experience in pain endurance, but spankings did not feel like what she felt. Her arm burned, and her paw felt mangled to the bone.
"Over here.", Kayla cut straight to, motioning towards the long wall of computer systems with her muzzle. Seeing the poor girl try to walk and work bravely, focused and determined, Jacob remained at her side, getting an arm around her back to help her walk. She stayed hunched over a degree, cradling her right hand and running short on energy, growing light headed. Emily picked up right behind them, moving across the room to follow. Cutting in with the same worry for her, the mother placed her hand on the fox's back above Jacob's arm. It hurt to walk in silence, wanting to cradle her furry blessing in her arms and tell her all was well, and to make it all go away.
"Still with us Packet-Storm?", bellowed across the room, sounding curious and amused from his spectator's standpoint. Shifting his eyes over to his side to check on Kayla, Jacob didn't see her face at all change as he spoke. He hoped it was her will to ignore him and survive, and not her health declining from the extended stress and bad injuries. Catching his eyes as they walked slowly along, one step of a furred footpaw at a time, Kayla turned to him and began whispering more softly, and calmly, growing confident in her lack of strength. Beside them along the wall, panels blinked and shifted screens, showing system status and internal data meant for the technicians.
"This room is used to monitor and defend DeltaStar on a computer level. Transmission arrays pass through here, so everything is controlled. Beat the computer's defense and the living personnel here, you beat DeltaStar.", the experienced hacker began to explain, moving along the wall, back towards the lift she came to the deck with.. While Jacob could hear and understand just fine, Emily's height cut her out of the moving huddle. The pair worked together so intricately. Seeing them communicating plans and actions with mere body language, she was left to wonder about those two.
"Without it, he can't control DeltaStar. But, nor could we, and the shields need to come down. What we need is to be surgical.", Kayla stressed, moving her muzzle and head for that emphasis while her paws were busy. Coming up on the glowing lattice of memory banks that lined the far end of the room, black in front and positioned horizontally from their support structure straight up the wall, Kayla let out a sharp growl. Recovering from an increased in pain, her left paw squeezed hard at her right arm, taking deep breaths. Jacob shared a face of worry, but it was quickly dismissed by a shake of Kayla's head, urging him to keep his head wrapped around what she was telling him. Her next words came out with the same confidence, but were softer, if not sad. It was the fouler half of her idea, stripping her of her pride as the king of the hackers.
"But, if we do it, it will give us only a window. We would have to contact the ship out there to escape.", she advised as the catch, intentionally leaving out the part that they get just one shot. No pressure, right? Stopping at the edge of the memory bank lattice, glowing a soft white, Kayla nodded her head to let Jacob know he could release her. Paw sliding from her back, along with Emily's hand, Kayla took three small steps ahead, staying hunched over while looking up and squinting at the different rectangular boxes of glowing memory. Infused with artificial biological packs of gel, it was a marriage between technology and sprawling webs of silicon cells that acted like nerves. High speed, high memory, copying the actions of sentient brains in the most insentient, basic of manners. Reaching out and touching the black cap on the end, warmth radiated through it; the banks being cooled by a gel system behind the wall. Such a large computer system handling a galaxy's worth of intergalactic trade all at once, it had to have a place to store information while it was active and being accessed, as well as it's own programs.
"How long will we have?", Jacob whispered out to her, crossing her arms and allowing her to examine what it seemed she needed to. Her orange left paw was left against his shirt by it's wrist, as the ex-hacker looked as if she was counting the memory banks on the wall with her index finger, gently mouthing numbers as she went along.
"Ten seconds.", she whispered back surprisingly plainly, not turning from her counting. Jacob's brows curled upwards questioningly before giving a nod, trusting Kayla's wisdom in this field. He barely understood what he was looking at, only knowing it to look similar to starship neural gel-packs used on some classes of Federation starships. With DeltaStar's unknown hacker not knowing what they were doing, it was Kayla's hope that he would be unable to stop an intrinsic nature of the system he was occupying. His lust for fear and chaos felt to her to be his motives. A murderous mind seeking control, viewing himself as a godly entity. Though it all, the small girl may have lost her paw and spilled her blood, but she retained her will; the thing the invisible intruder wanted the most to shatter in everyone.
Left index finger quivering slightly while she moved along, trying to keep it steady, Kayla took a step forward and placed her open paw upon one of the glowing memory banks. Instead of turning straight to Jacob, the hurt child face her mother, leaning her weight onto the memory bank to mouth crucial words to the woman whom kept her under her wing to bring her to this point. To her, Kayla's canid lips and muzzle mouthed, 'We're going home'. A mere two paces behind Jacob, eyes still weary and chest still stiff from near asphyxiation, Emily knelt down to join them at their height. She hoped her daughter was right and nothing else would come out to hurt her. Patting the memory bank she held, the fox set her final words into motion to organize it's execution.
"This is it.", Kayla started, face growing weaker as facing the pain in her arm grew to be unbearable. Stuck in an endless wince, her breathing sounded terrible, seeping blood all over her shirt and the occasional drip upon the metallic surface below. With a deep, cracking breath, she grit her teeth and pressed on.
"As long as my math is okay, the string of memory addresses I want to terminate is in this bank. The area we want to get rid of tells the central computer how to run it's arrays. You know, where us hackers get in. After losing this, it will switch to a backup system and interlink it back into the central computer to compensate automatically. Hit this with a phaser, and our hacker will lose control of the station until it gives it back to him. As soon as you hit it, tell Blaine to call the ship, drop shields, and get us the hell out of here. His controls will work.", her voice grew shaky at times, elongating some words out of pain despite trying to sound reassuring. This was not exactly hacking, but the knowledge it gave her over the decades she followed the twirl of that baton gave her the insight as to just what DeltaStar's innards looked like in a numerical sense. Now without urgency of gestures, Jacob slipped the phaser more carefully from his slacks, dropping the power output of the device three notches while taking a couple steps away from the memory bank Kayla had her paw on. Standing at the ready in front of his target, Kayla withdrew her paw so he could memorize and focus on which is was, to hit the right bank. Wrong one could throw matters out of their control for good, giving it all to their outside influence.
Though, once Jacob was prepared to raise his weapon and follow through, Emily standing up and taking a few steps back, Kayla opened her paw and gestured for the old Starfleet officer to hold. Looking back up towards the ceiling, as if to find their tormenter looming above, she took a few weak steps away, unable to stop cradling and nursing her paw and arm. Droplets of blood landed at her feet, one soaking into the fur of her right footpaw's inner toe. In synch with the spurts of crushing agony from her paw, her muzzle twitched.
"Hey. Hacker.", Kayla called out to him, growling through her words as speaking began to get too difficult. Her wounds were making themselves more apparent as time passed, growing past it's initial damage through her trembles and bleeding.
"I thought you didn't want to talk to me.", his voice came out across the room, sounding different now that they were standing on one side of it and not the center. Squeezing her teeth, a pair of hot, burning feeling tears forced themselves from Kayla's eyelids, needing medical attention too badly to proceed. She wanted to fall back on her side and howl. Just one last thing.
"Your alias. Tell me.", Kayla seethed out from between her teeth, sounding angry from her small, young feminine voice. Tail curling up tight to her left thigh, tip vibrating it was shaking so badly, the hacker made a little hum - oblivious to her escape attempt soon to come. This entire time, they had nothing to call him. Jacob and Emily looked out at her, looking over her hunched back. The fox needed to know. It burned at her.
"Velius.", the man finally introduced. She was Packet-Storm, he was Velius. His nameless voice was given a title, spoken coldly, and proudly. A familiar arrogance behind his unfamiliar evil cheer. Kayla had never heard it before, not having met this man, but a lead wasn't what she was after. Something to call him was all she wanted.
Well, so long, Velius.
Peering over her shoulder, hint of her blue eye visible, Kayla lifted her left paw and gave it a backwards wave, giving Jacob his signal. With a single nod of reply, he lifted the Federation issue phaser from it's ready position to point it's emitter for the black surface cover of the glowing white memory bank. Aim steady and true, his right paw's thumb squeezed the grey firing button Kayla had jammed so many times before placing it in his more capable hands. The sound of the phaser cut through the air loud and clear, hitting the memory bank Kayla chose with a shrill series of snaps of cracks - blowing out around it's sides with the sound of broken glass as it turned dark. Tossing the phaser up in front of him in an act of saving time, his right paw dived for his thigh to smack his Starfleet communications badge as the lattice of memory flickered, bringing on a wave of flickers and blinks across all the terminals and consoles across the room traveling from their side to the other. DeltaStar lost it's arrays, switching systems.
One deck above, Lieutenant Brayden was looking around in sudden bewilderment, seeing all of his consoles shudder and chirp, flickering to come back to a solid state. Looking around him, all of his officers had only just began checking their consoles as a voice came calling out. Chest heavy, it's sudden nature caught Blaine even more off guard, having just been helping one of his officers work on the console in front of them.
"Lieutenant, drop the shields and get the Tillman! Now!", Commander Vasse ordered promptly and sharply, voice overflowing with critical urgency as he shouted his words, coming over his communications badge. Without hesitating, Blaine slapped his fingers down on the console, tapping at the colorful array of Federation keys along the cold flat console, ordering DeltaStar's shields to drop without so much as an error chirp. Above him on a screen, a top-down overlay of the station showed the fluctuation and withdraw of the shields; green lines disappearing as he smacked the badge on his chest. Baby, I'm coming home! Speaking barely before his badge chirped, he called out with the peak of his desperation.
"Tillman, emergency beam-out! Go!", he called out, waving with his other hand for his team to assemble and stand up. Across the wide expanse of space, and the three stars shining on the black hull of DeltaStar station, his request for help jumped off a relay station the same way the first transmission came, hijacked for military function by the U.S.S Tillman. Their message heard, the space around the station was quiet for a mere two seconds more, giving Kayla enough time to try and stand up straight, turning and giving a look of appreciation to Jacob. She could not smile, but he understood her eyes just as much.
In a bright flash in the far distance between two of the stars, the U.S.S Tillman streaked in with a brilliant line of blue behind it; impulse engines roaring over the top of DeltaStar. Transporter rooms ready as promised, their Transporter Chief and crew made locks on all the life signs aboard the station, engaging their transporters while hitting their warp engines to leave. Below their hectic efforts, the family trio stood calm, in the station's one moment of peaceful silence as the flutters of fairies dances across Kayla's skin and follicles of fur, watching DeltaStar disappear in a sea of milky blues and whites. Good riddance.
Captured in the matter stream, the U.S.S Tillman hit high warp as quickly as they emerged at the station; another flicker coming across the station's computer systems as it streaked away, turning into a bright flash in the distance, headed for Earth. In it's lonesome, DeltaStar station with zero crew compliment, sitting beside starship debris and a field of death, raised it's shields quietly. Slowly floating, a strip of the U.S.S Capitol's dorsal saucer section plating gently bounced off the invisible shell of energy surrounding the station in it's infinite trek through space, sporting a portion of the proud Federation vessel's registry.
Rematerializing in a safe place, Kayla didn't much notice the strange feelings of transport. When she was in the matter stream, almost none of her body in any kind of true physical form as her atomic structure was concerned, she was blessed by a small amount of relief from the pain from her paw. It flowed steadily in waves, like those splashes she felt against what wasn't really her form. How she could feel a limb not attached to a body Kayla did not much understand, but as the blue sparkles began to leave her body, the poor Penitatas let out a sharp, tearful growl as she re-clutched her paw and Jacob's increasingly less-than tan shirt when the pain returned with a blow. Like it was new, it's impulses had hit her unexpectedly, far exceeding her pain tolerance even as her body had not fully reassembled.
Near Kayla's side on the U.S.S Tillman's transporter platform, Jacob's feet pounded the well lit surface and wrapped his arms around her from her side. Unlike Emily, he was large enough to try and catch the fox, looking at her with his maw slightly open out of worry. Surrounding them on the platform was Emily, Lieutenant Brayden, some of his men, and Mister Peretti still in their custody. Transporter rooms two and three had brought aboard Blaine's other men, and the remaining skeleton crew of DeltaStar. As Jacob helped to keep Kayla steady, racked with agony, the well dressed business man in the back of the transporter platform was already resuming his mouthy behaviors.
"What are you doing! What about my station! You are obligated to-...!", Mister Peretti began to assault and demand with a Starfleet officer off each his arms, pulling him forward to leave the platform. His suit a mess and tie hanging out wrinkled and awkward, he looked like a deadbeat after a night of boozing, being pulled along like an unruly citizen. Choking on her own growl, the fox didn't bother to lift her head, turning only her eyes towards the bitter man as he was carried by. She hadn't been aware he was incarcerated by Blaine's officers, but really, she didn't care.
"It's gone!", she yelled towards the transporter platform, feeling as if her heart was fluttering from all the stress. Her blue eyes remained cold, thinking of the good people that lost their lives, while another cared for only commerce. Kayla did not want to hear his same sniveling after what she had been through in the name of helping him. As far as she was concerned, her debt to him had been paid. Her apology, he could take or leave, but in all cases, she still meant it.
"Deal with it.", Kayla growled low with an exhausted tremble, sounding hoarse. Mister Peretti scowled down with a look of shock and surprise, being lead away with Lieutenant Brayden mere steps away from accidentally giving Kayla another injury, almost stepping on her left footpaw. The man's shiny black uniform boots would have cracked any one of her three canid toes.
"This man is in our custody. Get him quarters and I'll assign officers to his door.", Lieutenant Brayden lifted his right hand out towards the officers beside their Transporter Chief, using an open handed point to denote whom he was speaking to in a room with so many people and chaotic movement. Following his lead Jacob lifted his head from Kayla's side, Emily already crouching down to check the paw she so desperately defended beneath the wrapping of her companion's shirt. Jacob would have never looked so scraggly and childish in his age unless he had to, making the gesture of giving it to her something special. Well, if it wasn't for the blaring pain like sirens in her two fox-like ears.
"I need a medical kit here!", Jacob called out towards the other officers remaining behind the transporter controls some short distance from them. One of the younger red shouldered ensigns stepped forward, around the side of the console while one of his colleagues left with Lieutenant Brayden's officers to secure their prisoner to quarters per orders. Emily's hands stroked at Kayla's neck and her upper right arm, trying to at least be there for her.
"Let out sickbay handle it! It's two decks up!", the scrapping young officer replied, giving a point for the door then a turn to the left with his hand to denote the location of their nearest turbo-lift so the child could receive proper medical attention through their vessel. Curling the scales beneath his eyes, Jacob growled out of frustration, grabbing part of the shirt Kayla held without trying to hurt her. Feeling around with a couple of pats, avoiding her skin, as soon as he found a piece of metal his claws ripped it from his shirt's collar. Turning his head, the young Karrian and all his green scales threw the golden pin up against his neck to denote his rank, glaring at the officer.
"Medical kit! Now, Ensign!", the old officer directly ordered, raising his voice and making it sharp - coupled with the sharpness of his own reptilian teeth in his split second show of anger. The young man took one look at his single pin, round and shining with a speck of blood smeared against it, nodding his head as he took a step backwards towards the transporter room's emergency medical locker beside their console with a prompt stammer.
"Yes Commander!", the Ensign quickly changed his attitude, turning around and swinging the door to the supplies open. Grabbing a black case imbued with a Starfleet insignia just like the doctor's own, the officer jogged to Jacob's side and slid the case down onto the surface of the transporter pad with a mild clamber. As if it didn't matter, Jacob dropped his command pin at Kayla's feet, spinning on it's base to rattle it's tiny weight to a stop. He popped the medical case open with a thump, grabbing it's silvery cylindrical scanner along with his own personal medical tricorder. Bringing both online, slipping them into his left paw, Emily assisted his progress by unwrapping the shirt from Kayla's right paw, striking her wounds with the open air and oxygen that made her burns sear. Squealing from it all, eyes tightly shut, a cold rush came over the side of her neck. Flowing through her cells, she whined with a fluttering quiver of her lower jaw, easing her sounds, as Jacob removed a hypospray from her neck. Kayla would have to endure the pain alone no more.
Finding calmer cooperation, Emily held her daughter's right paw out, burnt and shredded to drip blood directly on the transporter pad. Emitter coming to glow over her skin, Jacob started his work to close her wounds and seal up her skin. Orange fur trailing her wound's perimeter looking crispy and browned, the Starfleet Ensign that gave Jacob what he requested grimaced at the gruesome sight.
"Good lord...", the man mumbled to himself, seeing the skin on the bottoms of her fingers practically cut right off, with it's edges burned. The shirt that now laid on the ground, as well as the girl's own, was soaked clear through of blood. The gash across her muzzle looked like a marring, sad thing for a child of any gender of species. Lieutenant Brayden patted the officer's shoulder, giving a tilt of his head.
"Get them a good place to rest.", he asked more softly than he did before as the room cleared out.
"Yes sir.", the Ensign replied with the same volume and tone of voice, walking for the door with an extra look at that fox girl's paw. It hurt just to look at. Still new to Starfleet, he hadn't seen anything yet. Kayla got to be his first experience of blood or violence. Focusing on his tricorder and where his hand was, Jacob tried to do the best he could with the natural curl of Kayla's fingers, regenerating tissue and healing away damage. Pain diminishing from the hypospray he gave and his work, he would need at least a few more moments before he could move her and finish the job in the comforts of their own room. By damned if he was going to subject her to a sickbay, robbed of her privacy and proper rest after standing brave and rescuing their lives. She deserved to be mended by his own, loving hands. Emily at her side and even Blaine above, Kayla was amongst friends.
Left behind, DeltaStar sat abandoned, and lost from Federation control. It hurt Kayla to flee, having failed the reasons she had been sent there. They knew nothing about their hacker that brought them closer to bringing him to justice, in an investigation that never got off the ground. Instead, everyone had their own regrets and tainted memories; Kayla having witnessed brutal mass murder on an epic scale for their century. At high warp towards home, Earth, the station and remains of those that arrived to protect it were lost, for now. Hacker to hacker, Packet-Storm lost before that fight began. All the while, howling with excitement, Velius set his sights on new targets.