The holophone chimed, a sonorous peal that cut through the hubbub of conversation around the Assembly table. Lieutenant Barch's head snapped up and round like a meerkat on amphetamines and he was halfway out of his seat before General Timon had even looked up. Timon waved a hand at Barch, who dashed for the holophone, and another at the Assembly. The hubbub subsided reluctantly, voices dropping as people realised they could hear themselves over everyone else and finally falling silent as the holophone came to life.
The holophone showed a jittery green picture with ragged edges, flickering and blurring erratically. In the middle of the image was ap Pendell, his uniform dishevelled and his face smeared with something black that appeared to be dripping. His eyes were wide and his eyebrows were missing.
"M'aidez! M'aidez!" he yelled. Behind him the high windows of the room had been ripped out leaving holes through which a grey sea with high waves could be seen.
General Timon sighed heavily and glared at the image. "Explain yourself," he said, his voice curt and angry.
"Hello? Who is that? We've got no picture on this wretched ball!" ap Pendell reached forward and slapped at something out of sight. "Help us, m'aidez, and all that!"
"This is General Timon." ap Pendell straightened so quickly it was as though he were a marionette whose strings had been drawn tight. "What has happened? Where are you? More importantly, where is the Captain?"
"Umm, I might have the wrong number sir..." ap Pendell fumbled at the side of the image.
"Leave that holophone alone! And answer my damn questions! In order."
ap Pendell swallowed, his Adam's apple jerking. "There's been an explosion Sir! I'm on board what's left of the Faebreak! Sir! The Captain has been abducted! Sir!"
Timon sighed again, more softly this time, and looked across the table to Owen. "All my answers, and none what I wanted." He looked back to the image. "What has happened to the Fae-- to the Captain of the Faebreak?"
"He's been taken, Sir, by one of the volunteers for the project. The bottom half of the ship exploded, and he came out of the light like the Wraebourne angel itself, all fury and glory and descended upon the Captain like rage made flesh and carried him away. Then there was a noise like the grinding of flesh in the burrows of the dead and the ship halted, and here we are, waiting on a sandbar for judgement and revelation."
"I see," said Timon slowly, looking down at the table. He lifted his head up again and surveyed the Assembly. "The Wraebourne angel?"
There were a number of heads nodding around the table, so Timon turned back to the holophone. The image still jittered and the green haze was spreading over more of it, but ap Pendell was gone.