"Wake up Eyes," is the soft voice of my lover whispering in my ear, as he shakes me awake.

"What now?" I am not fond of waking up early, if I had the energy I would thrown a pillow at him.

"We have an emergency on the station," Palto says in a sing song voice as he gives me a quick kiss, right before he pulls the covers off of me.

"Gods, again, don't we ever get some time out?" I groan as I roll out of the bed, there is no rest for us.

"Never," he laughs at me.

But what can you do, right, this is all in a days work for us Defenders.

Although Palto has a strange sense of humor and it is one of the things I like about him, right now I just wanted to strangle him.

"Status?" I ask gathering my wits and look around for my weapon.

"Communications contacted me 2 Deds ago. There is some sort of energy build up in the core reactor," He reports to me in his precise Imperial.

"Oh?" Squinting at him, I try to remember where I laid it down. Ah, there it is on the side table. I can feel my eyes widen as I spot it. A small cylindrical tube of metal with a chain of gold wrapped around it.

"A terrorist group has claimed it is their actions," He adds just as calmly

"We think it is artificial, then?" Is my rhetorical question as I pick up the energy sword. The symbol of my office and my order.

"Yep," Palto then gives me one of his patented winks. I am not cheered by it.

I would rather have stayed in bed but the Pettada have our contract. We agreed to protect this station, it's population and the resources that it represents. That means dealing with so called terrorist till they become the ruling party then we either negotiate a new contract or we fight our way off the station and call it even.

"Alright," I decide. "I'll handle the reactor. You get to Communications and work on evacuations"

"What?" He gives me an indignant stare. "Why do you get the reactor?"

I hold back a sigh. I can not believe he is getting all huffy at this time.

"I am better at energy manipulation than you are, and you are much better at public relations than I am," I give him a dry look and add. " Now move it. You are wasting time."

"By your command," he gives me a short mocking bow, and a flinty smile to let me know that he will argue later. But he takes his leave of me.

With a grin I paw through the sheets, till I find the discarded night gown that I started the evening in.

Palto always makes fun of my need to be dressed. He always says, that with all the different life forms coming and going on this station, they would not notice if I went around naked.

He laughed even harder when I told him of all the things I could secret away on my persons if I was dressed.

Sadly my night gown is slim pickings for hiding places, but I feel much more official with it on. When covered, I wrap the chain that is attached to my sword around my waist and across my shoulder.

Now I am ready. Off to stop a bomb.

The station is on the large size for it's kind. But I have made it my business to know where the critical areas are. So getting to the is not difficult reactor core, having been there a number of times on inspections. Still it takes time, as our apartments are on the outer rim of the station. Palto likes the lighter gravity there.

There is station Security and some Techs, all standing outside the entrance. At my arrival, they fall out of the panic circle that they had been standing in.

"What is the status?" I ask the first Tech I come to.

They are more than happy to have me on sight now. I am always amused at how much authority these people give the defenders, even known rogues, like me.

"We have an unidentified energy spike. Security was called, they have located the warping source, but are unable to shut it down. Great One," he informs me and gives me a small bow.

"Very well," I acknowledge his bow with one of my own in return. "I will contain the field until you are able to remove the warping source."

Gesturing for Security to open the door. The door hisses open. Stepping through, I look around the cavernous room. The area is a blaze of lights, flickering on and off. Colors and spectrum I can not see and quite frankly do not want to.

The Core is much like all the core energy processors that I have seen. Energy, matter, and antimatter all condensed into one carefully balanced ball of power that we can siphon energy off of.

This time the ball does not look stable, even with my race's poorly developed eyesight. There are tendrils of all three elements pouring off of it. What a mess!

As I begin my work I must set aside my terror, my upset, even my anger. I start to draw the lines of containment of the elements to me.

The core wobbles some more.

"Damn," I curse to myself.

Who ever set this knew a Defender would respond. And they are willing to sacrifice the whole station just to get us, knowing that we would do everything in our power to protect the population.

"Palto," I activate my communicator.

"What is it sweetheart?" his calm tone comes through the channel.

"Evacuate. Now," I reply in what I hope is an equally calm tone.

"Working on it," I can almost hear him cursing under his breath. "Time frame?"

A quick probe of the core reveals that my containment is a poor fit.

"I would say one hundred and ten Deds," Giving him my best estimate.

"I'll be down there as soon--"

"NO!" I can feel the fear sliding off me in waves as I cut him off. It would break my heart if he died because of me. "You-will-leave," I command him in as cold a voice as I can muster.

"I can't leave you," his voice cracks, if I didn't know him better, I would say Palto is crying.

"You must," is all I can say. By now I understand what I am to do. I have been living on borrowed time for years.

If this is the end then so be it. I will do everything in my power to save everyone of these people. That is what I said I would do when I spoke the words.

"I am pledged," I remind him.

"I am pledged," and to my surprise, he cries back. "I love you."

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