Lestrade cursed the day he volunteered for this ass-eating mission. He hadn't questioned his choice until twenty minutes ago when the op had gone ass-over-tits. At least he had the subject secure. Now if he could just get him off of this hell-hole of an asteroid and hand him over to Doc for downloading.
Was the potential for promotion really worth this shit? He glanced at the tall, lean man currently tucked into a crevice in the cave wall, safely out of the line of fire, and he knew promotions weren't what this was about. The man in his care practically glowed with the data stored inside his incomparable mind. Data that, delivered into the right hands, could bring this bloody war to a successful end in weeks instead of years.
He checked the charge on his plasma blaster at the same time he thumbed his comm unit to active. "Sable One, Silverfox. Do you copy?" Static met his first query and he tried again. "Sable One, this is Silverfox. Do you copy?"
The voice that came back was intermittent and distorted, but the familiarity of it was a blessed relief. "Silverfox, Sable One here. Go ahead."
"Oracle is secure but we're four clicks out. Not going to make the rendezvous. Over."
"Copy that. I'm calculating your position now."
Blaster fire disrupted Lestrade's reply and he took out the shooter with efficiency. Another glance back at Oracle's face showed impassivity and trust. He had to get this man to safety even if he died doing it.
"Silverfox, Sable One. Do you read me?" Her voice was more urgent this time and Lestrade answered quickly.
"Still here. Still secure. Requesting immediate emergency extraction. Expect resistance."
"Understood. Homing in now. I'm on my way. Sable One out."
Tense minutes passed. Lestrade exchanged more fire with the enemy. At least the earlier assault teams had taken out the ground-to-air gun towers. All Marquardson would face in her descent was hand-blasters.
He heard the roar of engines entering the atmosphere and prayed it was her rather than back-up for the enemy.
And then there she was. That beat-up old shuttle never looked so beautiful.
He looked at Oracle, and there again was that imperturbable gaze. "When I say go, you get your head down and run for it. Clear?"
Oracle nodded once, brown hair briefly obscuring his pale eyes. Nothing, however, could obscure the glow of the data he carried. There was fuck-all he could do about that, so Lestrade let it go.
Peering out at the rocky terrain, he judged the distance to the shuttle and the last know positions of the enemy shooters.
The moment came. He gave the signal. Oracle ran. Immediately, the enemy's blasters were ablaze. Lestrade had his hands full covering the sprinting man. The damned glow of the data made the moving target an easy one as well.
At last, Oracle was safe inside the shuttle. Lestrade dashed after him, diving behind rocky outcrops and firing back at his attackers whenever he could.
One final sprint and he'd be safe.
A parting shot caught him as he dove through the shuttle's open hatch. He clutched at his belly as he hit the deck, only half aware of the hatch as it closed and the increased gravities as Marquardson aimed for space
Lestrade woke feeling as though his guts were tied in knots. Moments later, as he sat miserably on the chilly toilet seat, he thought of two things he must never, ever do again: lose a bet to John Watson, and eat lutefisk curry.