A/N: Hi all - the end is approaching! It'll be another few chapters, but I hope it's satisfying and makes up for such a long wait. Apologies!

Chapter Fourteen


I felt blood dripping from my wrists. It ran in a warm stream through the crevices in my palms into waterfalls that ran through my fingers. Every twist and spasm irritated what was else of my skin. It was hard not to squirm when the blade made its way through my shoulder, passing each layer with disgusting ease. I was certain a number of muscles had been seriously damaged. I also estimated at least two litres of my blood was now spread across the cave floor and my chest.

Dylin was a relentless captor. Every moment I saw him was spent hitting, stabbing or spitting on a living being. I could see what was left of Riker's face leaning in my direction; one eye swollen shut, the other cloudy and lifeless. He leant against a wall, a crimson streak staining the colourless rock. His hands had stopped shaking with the last blow from Dylin and hadn't moved since.

I wasn't able to see Troi from my position; Dylin had dragged her to a private section of the cave.

I'd heard her scream plenty of times before, but not like that. Her screams in that cave were of trauma and grief.

The young boy who had helped us lay motionless next to Wesley, restrained to a nearby rock formation. His head was slumped so far over I could see the injuries on the nape of his neck. Blood dripped from one ear onto his shirt collar. The dagger in his thigh had been twisted several times to reveal the layers of fat underneath his clammy skin; Riker had nearly vomited at the sight.

Despite the horrific scenery, my eyes kept turning to my boy. My Wesley. Bound, bloodied and shaking in the corner. Tortured by these rogue men on a strange world. All I saw in his face was agony, and my heart screamed with each moment we were captive.

I kept tugging on my restraints, each movement stinging my wrists and driving the knife further into my flesh. My vision blurred. Bile filled my throat. All that kept me conscious were the muffled screams of my son.

It happened much sooner than I had thought; I didn't have time to fully process what had happened.

One blast rocked the walls. A second shook the ceiling.

Wesley and I gazed at one another in disbelief. How had they gotten inside?

I glanced around a number of times before a third blast rippled through the air.

Coughing, I realised my face felt warm and slowly opened my eyes. The cave was littered with debris. Dylin's men were shouting in distant caverns, though the demon himself was nowhere to be seen.

Dust cleared to reveal an enormous hole in the roof; I had no guesses as to its size or breach point. A familiar voice floated through the air: "Cavern has been breached, Captain."

I cried out in relief. "Jean-Luc did it…"

Data landed gracefully nearby, his gold skin dazzling in the sunlight. I never believed he had any capacity for emotions until I saw his face.

"Hold on, Doctor."