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"Watch out!" Peter yelled, rushing at the man and tackling him. He caught him in the stomach with his shoulder. The gun flew out of the man's hand and skied across the floor toward Janet and Dr. Kana. The man crashed to the floor with Peter on top of him. With ease, he threw Peter off and regained his feet.
"Hold it!" commanded Janet, who had grabbed the gun and pointed it right at him.
The man hesitated.
“Don’t shoot,” he said, holding his right hand up as if that would ward off a shot. “I give up.” His words said “surrender,” but Janet noticed his eyes were defiant and calculating.
The man pretended to stumble and fall forward. But it was not the normal fall of a man who tripped. It was a somersault intended to bring him up close enough to Janet to grab the gun. Janet pulled the trigger instinctively as soon as the man started to fall forward. He collapsed, unconscious at her feet.
"It's lucky for him he had his gun set on stun," said Dr. Kana in a puzzled tone.
"What's the matter?" asked Janet.
Peter picked himself off the floor and joined them.
"That was a courageous thing you did, Peter," said Dr. Kana. Then he looked at Janet, “It's just unusual for a U.R. to have his gun set on stun. Normally, they just kill anyone who gets in their way. Life is cheap for them.” A puzzled look flashed through his eyes as he shook his head slightly while muttering to himself, “Some things here just don't make sense… but no time now.” Louder, he said, “We still have to get out of here."
"Out of here… to where?" asked Peter, "We're trapped on this ship."
"Out of the cell area. Then we will try to find a place to hide until we can figure something out."
“Not much of a plan,” muttered Janet.
Dr. Kana wasn’t offended. Instead, he smiled and said, “I’m open to ideas.”
Once again, they began moving toward the door at the end of the hall. This time Janet, who insisted on keeping the gun, was leading. They stopped as they saw the door beginning to open by sliding into the wall. Their eyes were trained on the ever-expanding doorway. Janet aimed the gun. The door opened completely. The hallway beyond looked empty, but Janet did not waver. Someone had to be there. Suddenly a man in a bright red pull-on shirt and black pants with a gold stripe on the outside seam somersaulted from the left side through the doorway and ended up half kneeling on the right side of the door. With split-second timing, another man, dressed the same, somersaulted from the right side through the doorway to the left position. Both had guns pointed at them. They were members of the U.A.F. Security Elite charged with protecting senior officers. Two other men now pointed guns from behind both sides of the doorway.
"Don't shoot," shouted Dr. Kana, "It's a rescue party."
Although his words were directed at Janet, it was the only thing that kept her from being stunned.
A woman dressed in a green pull-on shirt and black dress pants stepped out from behind the men and through the doorway. She was medium height, had shoulder-length light brown hair and had a gun in her hand. She was followed by another Security man with a command stripe on his shirt. The others held their positions.
Dr. Kana stepped forward, “Captain Caspian! Am I glad to see you!”
Janet lowered her gun, "Captain who?”
"Captain Caspian," replied Dr. Kana, "Captain of the Courage."
Dr. Kana rushed forward to greet her. Peter and Janet followed.
"Are you all right?" asked Captain Caspian.
"Better than could be expected," answered Dr. Kana.
Dr. Kana introduced Peter and Janet and quickly explained that they had been kidnapped for being on the U.R.’s escape path.
"We need to get out of here, Captain," said the Security man with the command stripe.
Just as Captain Caspian turned around, Janet blurted out, "The Boss said he was going to blow up Axin in less than an hour. Can you stop him?"
Captain Caspian looked at her and said doubtfully, "The entire planet?"
Dr. Kana confirmed her words, “That's what he said."
"Back to the Courage, double time," commanded Captain Caspian.
Four of the Security men began running back the way they had come. Dr. Kana, Peter, and Janet raced after them. Captain Caspian and one of the Security Elite brought up the rear.
Zipping down the hall at top speed, Peter and Janet kept on the Security men's heels. Suddenly they turned a sharp corner and saw a hole melted into the side of the ship. On the other side of the hole was a short tube which led through an open hatch to a shuttle. The four Security men assumed guard positions outside the hole. Dr. Kana, Peter, and Janet quickly slipped through the hole, the connecting tube, and into the shuttle.
Once inside, they found themselves in a combat shuttle. There were twelve passenger seats to their left. The seats were in three rows and divided with an aisle down the middle. Each set of two seats had a small round window. To their right were two seats, one for the pilot and one for the gunner who could assist the pilot when needed. The seats were in front of a control panel that stretched the width of the shuttle. The windshield began at the end of the control panel, curved around and melded overhead the pilot’s seats with various controls within easy reach of the pilots.
Peter and Janet hurried to the last two seats on the left. Dr. Kana sat in front of Janet. Captain Caspian and the Commander were the next in. Captain Caspian took the pilot's seat, and the Commander slid into the gunner's seat. The rest of the men then poured in and found their seats. Everyone fastened their seatbelts as Captain Caspian sealed the door and prepared to break away from the U.R. Death.
Peter leaned forward and asked Dr. Kana, "Who is that man up there with Captain Caspian?"
"That's Commander Smith. He's the head of our Security Division. The other men are part of his force."
Smith? Janet seemed to remember hearing that name before. Now, where was it? She frowned as she thought. Where was… of course! She had heard the United Raiders mention something about a Smith having a use for them just before they were kidnapped. Could this be the man they were talking about or was it just a coincidence? Janet eyed the back of Commander Smith's head. She had a bad feeling. If this was the Smith on the U.R.’s side, they were headed for big trouble!
A slight jerk told them the shuttle had separated from the U.R. Death.
"Shields to full power," commanded Captain Caspian as they sped toward the Courage. Desperately, she tried to contact her starship.
"Courage, this is shuttle M12; come in."
"Courage, this is shuttle M12; come in."
Again no answer.
"Courage, come in."
There was a burst of static and then, "Courage here, Captain. Sorry about the delay. The Death is causing interference, and we could not cut through until now."
"Never mind that. Put force and radiation shields on full power immediately."
"Yes, Captain, but..."
"No buts, do it! Prepare to take us onboard the Courage at emergency..." Another burst of static and communication with the Courage was cut off.
The tension onboard the shuttle was thicker than the fog on Menene. The seconds ticked away until Axin's destruction. No one was more aware than Captain Caspian that unless they made it back into the protection of the Courage's stronger shields, they would be destroyed along with Axin.
Captain Caspian had the shuttle racing at full speed. Blinking red lights warned that the engines were dangerously hot, yet, if they didn't make it to the Courage, it wouldn't matter. Suddenly it happened! Bright lights shone past the shuttle - red, orange, green, and a few that Peter and Janet couldn't name even if they had wanted to. The shuttle shook violently as rocks and boulders pounded against its shields. The safety seats immediately enveloped the passengers, securing them in place.
Captain Caspian wondered how long before the shuttle would crack open under the tremendous pressure. They were sturdy vehicles, to be sure, but everything had its limit. All at once, there was a loud explosive noise. The shuttle was sent spinning helplessly through space!
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