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Norman Jorguston emerged from the emergency stairwell and swam the length of the corridor through a raging current. Strength near spent, shivering from the cold, he made it to 12-C but discovered he could not see the top of the water line inside. The cell appeared full, though he saw no body floating in the dark water.
From behind him a man swam up with strong, steady strokes. "I'm Assistant Zucker." He carried a large spiked handle and hammer strapped to his back. "Help me drive this thing into the wall. We don't dare open the shield and let the water out without something to hang onto. We'll be swept away!"
"Got it!" Jorguston yelled above the devil's own thunder.
Jorguston, the larger man, hammered the handle as Zucker tried to hold it in place. Precious seconds passed until the handle held firmly into the wall.
"Now!" ordered Zucker."
Each man gripped the handle as Jorguston palmed the watertight sensor, deactivating the shield.
Hell broke through the opening, nearly taking both men with it. In a few moments the levels of water equaled between cell and corridor. Zucker and Jorguston swam into 12-C.
Berina hung from the ceiling by her fingertips stuck inside the opening that housed Lobo-O's lens. Her thighs dangled in the water. She dropped the short distance with a splash, kicking, sputtering, swearing the air blue between chokes.
"You're bleeding, Colchek," Jorguston said panting, holding her hands above the water while Zucker held her head up.
She tried to say something, but only choked again and coughed up water.
"We better get her to sickbay," Zucker said.
The two men swam with her to the farthest end of the corridor wherethe sloped ceiling was highest. A hatch located near the top appeared to be their only means of escape. Water hadn't reached it yet.
The taller man jumped and threw open the hatch cover, deep breathed three big ones, then heaved himself upward. Jorguston scrambled into the hole barely large enough to accommodate his size. He turned with effort, bellied down flat and reached for Berina. Zucker did all he could to boost her upward, difficult while floating and having no leverage. It took three tries before she managed to grasp onto Jorguston's wrists so he could pull her into the shaft. His fingers bit into her wrists as well, as hers were slickened with water and blood.
"Now what? Zucker asked. He was not much taller than the female inmate and there was no one to boost him. He thought a moment as the guard waited. "I'm going to try to reach the bottom and push myself up out of the water. Be ready to grab for me if I can make this work."
Jorguston nodded with little hope the man's legs were strong enough to accomplish such a feat.
Zucker disappeared beneath the swirling water but seconds later came shooting upward, off center. The current pushed him off. Both men missed. "Once more," he said, splashing back. This time he moved ahead in the current a foot or two, submerged and shot up again.
Jorguston's strong grip captured one hand, then the other as Zucker swung his body, monkey style, to reach his target. "Gotcha. Hang on! With a mighty grunt Jorguston heaved, heaved again; Zucker aided by walking a couple of steps up the smooth wall.
A different alarm sounded, indicating the mains were shutting off. They looked down and saw the water begin to flatten. Giant pump engines groaned to life from deep in the bowels of the facility, but the trio didn't stay watch the water recede.
"Warden Gromar to sickbay. Warden Gromar to sickbay."
Aaron picked his way through fallen furniture to the lift. Good, the lift is working. One couldn't be sure after a shaker like this one. Damage reports flooded into his com, but a call to sickbay was priority.
Zucker and Jorguston waited just outside sickbay to tell him what happened.
"Good work, men. Is she injured?"
"Fingers cut up by hanging from that tiny Lobe-O recess in the ceiling. Don't know how the devil she managed it. Thing couldn't have been more than two inches wide." That from Theon Zucker who, though soaking wet and filthy from navigating through the duct, no longer looked like a freak from a bad movie.
"You men go and change, then lend a hand to help where ever you're needed. No telling how long we'll have to leave the water off."
A moment later Aaron entered sickbay where he found Berina harnessed into a bed. The overhead monitor readings looked fine. "Hear you went for a swim." He also noticed her bandaged hands."
"Might say that. You weren't kidding when you said this place is hell, were you?"