Lights flickered in the central command hub of the ship, and Admiral Martin gritted his teeth as he looked around at the chaos around him. Not all his crew had been successfully restrained during the crash and men were strewn about bleeding or dead. A man was pitched through the main view port of the deck and had punctured the thick glass with his head. As Martin tried to get up, he realized that sharp metal protruded from his shoulder. A mechanical arm previously hanging from the ceiling was now halfway through his body. He coughed up blood and looked at the viscous liquid coming out with disdain. He hacked and finally was able to speak through the agonizing pain.
“Sitrep! I want a sitrep now! Someone get the power back on and tell me what just happened! Anyone still alive needs to help the wounded now! I want to hear the status of the rest of the ship. If the Stasis wing is still operational I want more pilots woken up and in here now! Squad KBC.... complete... the mission... at all costs.”
With that, the Admiral fell into shock. Belmont's cybernetic arm was pinned under a massive steel ceiling panel but he pushed it away with some help from Hatchet. Hatchet somehow survived unharmed though not being restrained during impact, and a large crater in the hull surrounded him when he came to. Hatchet and Shreddy, using a dead body missing an arm as his vessel, were already rushing about the main deck tending to wounded. Agent 12 awoke just after, only to notice his own arm had been cleaved right off by falling debris. Immediately, he began to spit on the open wound at his shoulder furiously, until a green skin covered the wound site. The pain was insurmountable, but it brought his mind relief nonetheless. Then, he rushed to the Admiral's side. Fish did not have a scratch on him, for he was able to shield himself with his psychic prowess. Fish and a few cadets still breathing were able to pull the metal arm out of the wound on the Admiral's side, all while Agent 12 continued spitting on it. After some yelling, Agent 12 directed Hatchet to bring tools from the medical ward to help save the Admiral.
Wolf was bleeding bad from his head and felt woozy, but after a painful treatment from the doctor, He was in a stable condition. He spoke to Belmont as they tried to activate the power on the ship.
“The Admiral is dead isn't he? What are we going to do? This whole mission has gone sour and now we're paying the price. I knew we shouldn't have done this mission! All comms are down. All engines beyond repair. Our time warp device's location is unknown. How can we bring this artifact home with no ship? We're doomed!”
Belmont had his arm connected into a port on the ground and was tired of Wolf's defeatist views.
“Get a hold of yourself! No matter the costs we finish the mission! I don't care who dies or how we get it back but we are accomplishing our mission. Do you hear me? If the Admiral is dead, then you are now in charge. Start acting like it. Now if you just give me some time to read these files, I'll find our time dilator and we'll build a skiff with our bare hands to get back home if we have to.”
Several hours passed, and the Admiral is brought into the barely intact medical wing as most of the squad stands over him. They watch in silence as Agent 12 fiercely works as fast as he can with only one arm and a tail. Cadets are unfrozen from stasis in swaths and now there was one here aiding the doctor.
Wolf is the first to speak, in a cracking voice. “Will he be alright, doctor?”
The doctor passes a quick glare in his direction that made Wolf wince. “His condition is stabilized and he has a heartbeat, so yes, he will make a recovery. His blood has been frozen for stabilization but he may stay like this for some time however. Past a certain point, there not much else I can do but wait for his body to do the brunt work of recuperation. Though right now, I still have a lot of work ahead and wouldn't mind some peace and quiet while I work my magic.” The squad began to dissipate, looking for where they were needed most.
Belmont had an arm firmly connected into the backup power line for the ship and was manually rewiring it to send power to the vital functions around the ship. He also was able to search the back-up drives for any location on the time dilation device, and found there was none. Though he was very disgruntled, he thoroughly enjoyed his new left eye's perspective that wasn't much more than an endless line of code he could interpret. Fish passed by on his way to say a blessing for the dead and was stopped by Belmont.
“Captain! I need your help. I can't figure out where the device is through the back-up data files and I'm thinking that maybe you can find out telepathically. You may be the only one who can find this device. Maybe look in with the Admiral, and see what he knows.”
The lights inside the globe swirled as Fish spoke. “I would, but the Admiral forbid me to do so. He said to do so would jeopardize the entire mission. Keep searching. Maybe the file was corrupted or damaged in the crash.”
Belmont sat there glaring at Fish's faceless head. “I'm telling you there's no record of it anywhere! I'm looking at an unscathed back-up log of the ship's contents and there isn't even a mention of it at all. It must be on this ship because telemetry is saying we have arrived at the right place in time. If he is hiding something in his brain that would be detrimental to our mission, don't you think we should know about it?” With a sigh, Fish turned around and headed back towards Medical.
By this time, the doctor is cleaning what is left of his tools and the Admiral has been suspended in a water tank. Fish walked in without a word and stepped in front the cylindrical tank. He looked deeply at Martin's closed eyes, and began to focus his energy. In the blink of an eye, he infiltrated Martin's mind and found out more than he needed to know. The doctor looked at him confused, but shrugged it off thinking Fish was there to pay his respects. Fish walked out slowly, but at the doorway he turned around to look at Agent 12.
“Doctor, keep this man safe. I know that should go without saying, but I can't stress enough how important it is to keep this man out of harm's way. Wake up every soldier in stasis and have them posted at his side at all times. Not just our mission but our lives depend on it. Got it?” With a nod from the doctor, Fish left bewildered by what he saw in that man's mind.
Wolf and Belmont managed to get secondary power up and running, and now lights and comms turned back on throughout the ship. Once that happened, they were able to get exterior imaging on line but could see nothing past a thick layer of snow. The squad assembled on the main deck where the bodies of the deceased were removed, but the bloodstains and smell of death still remained. Wolf stood where the Fleet Admiral should be standing, and it made him feel queasy to now be the center of attention. He spoke meekly and everyone craned to hear what he had to say.
“Alright guys, here's your sitrep. The hull is mostly intact and comms are working. Repairs on the ship may take weeks, local time, to accomplish, but it can be done. The Admiral is alive but in no condition to lead so I am taking the helm now. We must complete our mission, not just for the Collective, but for Fleet Admiral Martin. I think this is a suicide mission but we must at least try. Non-essentials are staying on board but the Squad should prepare for departure in thirty minutes. Living quarters down below are completely destroyed, so don't go trying to take a nap. We are left without a heading for where the artifact may be hidden, but seeing as it's the only item on this world with power of such magnitude, it shouldn't be hard to spot.”
Shreddy was still swimming inside his dead pilot container and scoffed at Wolf. “So those are your orders, big shot? Go wander in the snow until this awesome item falls into our lap? Great idea. Why don't we also dig graves to lie in while we're at it?” “Shreddy, I have given you your orders. You can either stay with the squad and help, or sit here and wait. Your choice. Now, Fish had something he would like to add. Captain?”
Captain Fish's globe began to swirl quickly and soon he was speaking in a somber tone inside the heads of only the essential squad members. The cadets looked around densely, wondering when this mystical being would begin speaking.
“Gentlemen, If you are wondering how we are getting back home, it all rests in the hands of the Fleet Admiral. The time dilator lies literally within the admiral, surgically implanted when he gained command of his ship. Even he does not know where in his body it was placed, and it is somehow linked only to his mind. To use it, we would genuinely have to tear Martin to pieces to find it and hope it would not reject our untrained minds trying to activate it. Our better bet is to have the cadets nurse him back to health here on the ship while we attain the artifact. This is very sensitive information and when he awakes, not one word can be uttered eluding to us knowing his secret. That is of utmost importance because if he finds out we knew that, he'll have us all exiled for espionage. That is all I can say for now.”
Belmont and Hatchet were finally able to dig through the ice and faint light peeked through from the other side. The entire squad was behind them in the decompression chamber, all geared and ready. Shreddy had managed to salvage his favored vessel from his living quarters, which doubled as his pet when not in use. It was a small furry creature from Alpha Centauri, that had razor sharp quills poking through the fur. It hovered when its eyes glowed white and once curled into a ball, it could spin with such speeds that it would literally shred a man to bits. He befriended this incredibly durable creature long ago and found solace in bringing him along because he preferred the silence inside the mind of a non-sentient creature. Hatchet gripped his favorite weapon, a small ax, with white knuckles, ready for anything. Agent 12's wound where his arm was severed now had a small budding arm growing out of it. It freaked Wolf out to look at, but the doctor assured him the arm would be full-size and functional in a matter of hours. Everyone stood at the ready, until the ice sheet was fully breached and a large opening was made.
They all poured out into the fierce snowstorm outside. Snow and fog cut their view very short, but they didn't walk far before they saw it. It was a wide-spanning army of winged men, similar to Hatchet but obviously not friendly because all manner of weapons were drawn on the front line. The crew barely had time to react before they were surrounded and being poked by spears. The entire squad had their weapons ready and were about to open fire, when all of a sudden the daunting, winged army raised their spears and made a small part. Down the pathway flew a towering beast of a man and he landed right in front of the squad, sending snow flying up in a huge wave.
They had come across the angels.