Ad Astra Per Aspera 10
Desperate Times Chapter 10
“Oh my...” S.A.R.A.H trails off. Disgusted even as an AI.
“My God.” Logi gasps covering her mouth and nose with one hand and stabilizing herself on the dashboard with the other.
“Bleeeeagh.” Boro can’t even say anything as the sight mixed with the smell instantly churns her stomach and she vomits.
“Huh? What’s wrong?” I ask looking at each of them, but they all look away, even S.A.R.A.H.
“Your… Kind of hard to look at.” She finally says still not looking at me. I raise my eyebrow in confusion, and she pulls up a video of me from one of the on-ship camera’s and even I find myself disgusted at my appearance.
I had a deep gash on the right side of my head, my left shoulder was missing a chunk of it, I had a fist sized hole in my chest, my arms were torn to shreds, my right rib was blown out with pieces of meat just dangling, and my legs were riddled with holes and shrapnel.
“Ah. Excuse me.” I mutter disgusted at my own appearance, and I excuse myself from the room.
Time’s almost up. Time to pick between me and God. The now familiar voices says and no sooner that it does the most intense pain takes over me. However, I couldn’t bring myself to die somewhere they could see me, so I find a service hatch that was unlocked and as soon as I’m inside I press my back against the wall and seemingly the last bit of strength fades and I slide to the floor.
“It’s so cold.” I think to myself as my vision slowly goes out. Then I feel my body lightly shake, and the light tug of my helmet being removed. With the last of my strength and vision I look up and see Boro and Logi.
Boro drops to her knees on my right side and carefully brings my head to her chest and rubs it, while Logi does the same the left except she takes my hand in hers. “Sorry for earlier. You just caught us off guard.” She apologizes sweetly.
“Yeah. We know you destroyed everything out there to protect us and our reactions were disrespectful.” Boro adds. I couldn’t see them anymore, my vision finally failing me. “We knew you were close to dying after you left and immediately regretted our actions. However, we also didn’t want you to die alone, since who knows if this was your last life. It’d be sad to go off alone, wouldn’t it?”
“Yeah, not many people get to fine ladies to give them a warm send off.” Logi adds jokingly and I feel the light smile cross my lips.
“I take it back.” I whisper. “It’s warm. So warm.”
Soon after whispered that the girls felt him go limp. Boro starts to sniffle, but Logi quickly cuts her off.
“Don’t you do it Boro. He’s not gone, he’ll be back. If we cry it’s basically us saying, we believe he’s gone.”
“Your right.” Boro sniffles wiping her eyes and nose. “I don’t know about you but I’m going to wait for him to return.”
Both girls smile seeing as how they were in complete agreeance. I’m going to get us some food and hydration. We’ll probably join him if we don’t eat and drink.” Logi says getting up and Boro nods.
“Commander. It’s been four days. The mission was supposed to take less one.”
“Indeed, but the broadcast has stopped which means they must have succeeded. Plus, if you’ve seen Hull Tech I’s healing ability. If something happened to him, it’s only logical for them to wait it out.”
“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t all wiped out.”
“That may be so, however the argument stays the same. Hull Tech I would still be in a recovery status.”
The entire bridge could only sit in awkward silence as their Commander and Lieutenant went back in forth in their heated argument. Currently the ship was split into two factions. The first was the “Ozarkian” Faction which was spearheaded by the Commander and the majority of the non-combat classes. The second was the “Powers” Faction which had less members due to most of the personnel being non-combat classes. However due to them being combat classes even though they were outnumbered, none of the non-combat classes could operate long without.
However, that didn’t mean everyone was in a faction. Just like politics you had those who didn’t care or stayed in the middle. Such as the crew on the bridge. Everyone else on the bridge only cared for the wellbeing of the rest of the crew and was currently weighing the pros and cons of both factions. It was due to this reason that Master Gunnery Sergeant Albritton made the announcement he did.
“ATTENTION ALL CREW MEMBERS. THIS IS YOUR WEAPONS COMMANDER, MASTER GUNNERY SERGEANT ALBRITTON. DUE TO LACK OF FAITH AND TRUST IN THE FIDELITIES OF COMMANDER BAJA AND LIEUTENANT POWERS IN THEIR ABILITY TO PROPERLY MAINTAIN THE CREW’S HEALTH AND WELFARE DUE TO THE CURRENT INFIGHTING, THE BRIDGE HAS DECIDED THAT BOTH OFFICERS ARE TEMPORARILY RELEASED FROM COMMAND. ONCE IT IS DEEMED, THEY ARE FIT TO MAINTAIN A STEADY CREW THEY WILL BE REINSTATED. APOSTLES OF THE U.N.S.F PLEASE ESCORT THEM TO THEIR ROOMS ALONG WITH ANYONE WHO INTERFERES. THAT IS. AS YOU WERE AND ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR DAY.”
The entire bridge fell silent as the doors opened and three figures walked in. Apparently, nobody except the Weapons Commander knew the “Apostles” were on board. The Apostles were the very essence of the U.N.S.F. They were the ones upheld all the standards and doctrines within the fleet. Anyone who was deemed unfit or a liability to the fleet would get a visit from them. Which meant that from here on out everyone really had to be on their best behavior. Because even though the cases of it was very rare due to it being a human rights issue. Apostles had the right to eliminate threats to the fleet. And in a situation like this where there was no chain of command, they were basically the law.
“Forgive me. I’m only doing what’s best for the crew. You two are only causing grief and hatred amongst them. It had to be done.” The Weapon Commander says dryly as both of the officers are escorted away.
“No, you are correct. We have been blinded by our own interests and have done this to ourselves.” Commander Baja says stopping at the door. “…”
“It’s truly a shame that this is what made us realize our mistake.” Lieutenant Powers finishes for her as they both exit the room. A heavy and tense atmosphere is left in the air as the rest of the bridge crew search for something to say.
“Now then. We will wait six more days. If the worst has happened and Hull Tech I has “died” then he will need time to heal and recover. However, after that we will count him and the two scouts as Killed in Action and proceed with plans on how to return to the mother fleet.” Master Gunnery Sergeant Albritton states, his finger gliding across his holographic keyboard.
The remaining members all give a form of agreeance, and they go about their usual routine. However, for the majority of the rest of the crew this turn of events meant little to them. They were stuck on a desolate and unknown world where at least once a week they were fighting unknown creatures for their life. Sure, they were in the ship but that didn’t guarantee their safety. Its hulls were slowly being worn down and no one knew how much longer it had left. At this point most of them were starting to accept death. Thus, whether it was the Apostles or the planet none of them really cared.
After all, now it was just the question of which was the least painful way to go. Though not as heavy as the bridge, the tense atmosphere was there, everyone just ignored it since it wasn’t like anything they could do would change it. Plus, no one on board was selfish enough to drag other crew members down with them just yet.
The six days seemed to drag on but eventually they passed and neither Ozark nor his two fellow scouts returned. Most of the bridge thought the next phase of what to do would be a tough decision to make but the Weapons Commander already had things planned and none of them dared question him.
“Our food resources will start running out soon. If I recall, Hull Tech I and the other Technicians were eating the creatures to minimize the food loss, correct?
“Correct Master Guns. Even the former Commander would… well she still practices that, as does the Techs.” Communications Commander Chief Pyro answers and the Weapons Commander looks at him slightly amused.
“Oh, is that so? Is that why our rations have lasted as long as they have despite the ships calculations of running out after a month?” He asks and the Communications Commander nods.
“Very well. We’ll tell the crew starting next week that in order for us to survive, the monsters outside will become our food source.” As expected, most of the members made faces of disgust, even though they all knew it was necessary, they still weren’t keen on eating what seemed to be giant bugs.
“Now then next is…”
“Pardon the interruption sir, but I think next, we should focus on defending the ship. We’ve been taking beating ever since we landed. I’m currently 80% sure that despite what the built in A.I for the ship says about it, that our hull integrity is at least 30% less than it says.”
All eyes now turn to the Analysis Tech Commander Master Sergeant Please. This was quite the surprise since his role was for analyzing the ships electrical and mechanical capabilities and not its combat abilities. “We’ve got the bare minimum power running and after doing numerous examinations myself it has been concluded that our ships automated damage assessor is no longer an asset. I expect that even if we managed to get to space the and get home unless we find someone from the mother fleet, we will not survive the descent through the atmosphere and all of our efforts to survive will have been in vain.”
“Hmm. And your confident?”
“Yes. So much so, that I will step down from my position and put one of the senor Techs in my stead.” He answers confidently.
“Very well. Anyone else have suggestions? I would have never thought of that on my own.” The Weapons Commander states looking at his peers. Then the Engineer Commander Master Chief Dell raises her hand.
“If I recall correctly, I remember Hull Tech I Ozark saying that there is a downed Huntsman still packed full of supplies that he cleared himself to the South which was where we first landed, from here it should be to our East. If we send some combat squads at night when the monster activity is at its lowest, we may be able to restock ourselves if only a little.” She tells them and they all nod. It made sense. Yeah, it was risky, but they were desperately in need of supplies.
“Understood. Anyone else?”
He looks around and no one else raises their hand or offers their input. “Very well. I shall make the announcements and pick the teams.”
As expected after the announcement was made there was a slight uproar amongst the crew. In addition to being told their diet was now to be the giant bugs, they were also doubling up the patrols and Firewatch. The most outrage obviously came from Combat Squads Mike and Whiskey. Their task was to deploy ever other night. One would gather resources one night while the other would rest. They would do that until the downed Huntsman was cleared of all usable items. However due to the dire situation the crew including Mike and Whiskey took the news with a grain of salt within a few hours.
Everyone knew that if they didn’t resupply and maintain the ship that they would only die faster and more likely more painfully. Therefore, as much as they resented the command they obeyed.
After roughly a week everyone was in a routine. Wake up, do their task, eat, hygiene, and sleep. Some people were still disgruntled but knew they couldn’t really complain. Roughly a month passed, and Ozark and his two companions slowly slipped from everyone’s memory. Eventually, three more months passed. The hate for the Weapons Commander gradually increased due to the Apostles and all of his new commands and doctrines that were “For the welfare of the crew”. Sadly, along with different bug dishes these things were now the norm. Mike and Whiskey long cleared the downed Huntsman but due to rationing and not knowing if they could transition back to bugs after having food again the crew opted against eating the meals.
It also turned out that the downed Huntsman was the ATHENA. The Huntsmen that the Admiral was supposed to be on. Just as Ozark had described, the inside was indeed, albeit it was dried and looked more like dried paint, the interior was still covered in the dark dried stains of blood. After investigations by both squads’ multiple times, it was concluded that the Admiral and his escorts were all Killed in Action by the hostile world.
Maybe it was due to the fact that most of the crew had lost someone important to them or maybe it was just that given their situation they didn’t feel anything but even after the information was spread no one mourned or wept for the lost Admiral and his crew. Seeing as how not even the Apostles reprimanded them for not having any type of service for the lost crew, they just went about their day.
Then after nearly a year passed a tragedy happened to the crew. An unknown endemic broke out and almost a quarter of the crew became infected. The medical squads did the best they could, but they had no knowledge of this world and couldn’t do anything for their sick and suffering brothers and sisters. The already disgruntled and exhausted crew were finally at their breaking point.
About the Creator
Marine turned aspiring author looking to find his niche in storytelling.
I also want to improve myself so some feedback would be wonderful.
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