United Naval Space Corps

“So if im not mistaken, you must either be Johns mother… or older sister-“ *SMACK* quicker than I could react the shapely alien back hands me with more force than I thought possible, knocking me to the floor.

Sitting up while spitting blood, I grin a crooked smile. “That confirms all of my questioning… your response told it all…” I get back up onto the bench. “So, I presume you came here to ask me some questions. So show your face and ill cooperate to the best of my knowledge.”

Silence permeates the air as tension grows. Finally, with a nod, they grab the back of their helmet and remove it in one swift movement, exposing long golden tresses and a delightfully feminine face. Letting the helmet fall from her grasp, it disappears before it hits the floor.

“I’m Leia. One of John’s older sisters…”

“And one of his favorites if I recall. He speaks highly of you after a few drinks at the bar.” I chuckle as I remember one of John’s drunken rants about his family.

“Him? Drunk?”

“Life in the UNSC is a tad bit stressful. Sometimes you need to forget what you saw with a few stiff drinks… Oh I bet he will have quite the hangover after this drinking party. He tries to honor every lost sailor… But losing his entire ship I fear he may try to clean out the bar.” I chuckle thinking about the good times we will have teasing him about his hangover.

“How do you remove your suit.” Leia asks.

“Quite to the point, aren’t you?”

“Tell me. NOW.” Leia steps towards me, making the motions to backhand me again.

“Whoa there, I’ll tell you. Have the occupant of the armor key the release or use a medics key to take it apart piece by piece.”

“Where do I find a medics key?”

“Beats me… I don’t carry one because of my job. Only medics and captains carry a medic key. Your talking about Captain Hensworth right? She keeps it in her amulet behind a picture of John with two of his little sisters.” I reply honestly.

“That does me no good.”

“Why do you want her armor off? Need to do a little bit of old-fashioned torture?”

“She’s injured, and we want to treat her. Is that so wrong?”

“A little different that what I expected based on your people’s behavior… but understandable. What’s the state of her injuries?”

“Her right arm is hurt. Its blue and purple with red blisters.” Leia describes.

“Ouch. Sounds like decompression damage. How long has it been that way?”

Leia pauses. “I think since the fighting on the rock.”

“That’s what, four hours?” I pause to remember my decompression training. Medical attention needs to be seen within thirty minutes of a severe decompression incident. “Sounds like its too late to really do anything to save the arm.”

“We can save it.” Leia exclaims.

“I bet you could… But there’s nothing we can do if she has locked herself in her suit.” I counter, doubtful they could save that much damage.

“That’s why I want you to open for me.”

“I would need about two hours. And the process would wake her up anyways. Do you mind if your prisoners visit?”

“… I’m not sure… I think I can let you look at her, but I will need to bring it up with my prime if you can converse with her…”

“That works for me. If I can establish a visual, I can pull her health data remotely.”

Leia nods and turns for the door. The moment the door opens, a scream sounds from down the hallway.

“That’s not good.” I mutter as I grab the helmet of my suit and push past Leia, sprinting down the hallway towards the screaming. Following another sprinting female form in the hallway I shove my way through the open doorway.

The scene that greets me as I push my way into the room looks like its from a horror movie. Blood is splattered everywhere, leaving no surface spared. Writhing in the middle of the room is Carrie. The right arm of her armor removed, and her flesh and blood arm dangling by a few unsevered tendons, and obvious failed attempt at a field amputation.

“Jesus Carrie…” I mutter, as I try to find sense in the situation.

“So that’s why she wanted a knife…”  A deep male voice behind me states the obvious.

“Good thing you gave her combat knife back. I can at least work with that.” I jump on Carries chest, pinning her under my knees as I straddle her. Gripping the hilt of Carries combat knife, I gesture the suit’s controls to apply a current through the edge of the blade.

The sound of sizzling flesh and the smell of cooked meat permeate the air. Carries screams seem to grow louder and louder before finally going silent as she runs out of breath as I separate her dying arm from her body six inches below her shoulder where she failed. The knife sizzles and slices through her flesh, passing by the already broken bone and cauterizing the wound.

Loosing my free hand, I slam my helmet over my head. “I don’t want to even know how she ended up like this, but sometimes a wolf will chew off its own leg to survive.”

I feel a hand on my shoulder as I slam my armored head against the captains, effectively stunning her and making her pass out. Reaching underneath her pauldron, I try to reach for her amulet. Removing my gauntlet, I try again with a bare hand, this time reaching further and grasp the chain it is attached to. Carefully pulling it out, I grasp the amulet and yank it out, snapping the delicate gold chain.

I turn and look at the owner of the hand on my shoulder. “Give that here.” Jeffs deep voice grumbles.

Not wanting a confrontation, I hand over the amulet. “It won’t do you much good without an ID chip anyways.” I confess as I latch Carries armor back together over the stump of what is left of her arm.

Swiftly moving through the menus on the external display, I engage the dismemberment mode, causing the internals of the suit linings to swell, and apply pressure to the wound.

Checking her vitals one last time, I get to my feet and remove my helmet. “That’s me done here. I can’t do any more without a med kit, and her captains kit is nowhere to be seen. She should be able to make a good recovery with a short stay on a hospital ship, and we have at least a few days before any complications start showing up.”

“Why did you put her armor back on? Remove it. We could have healed her arm.”

“The armor is providing pressure on the wound and removing any fluids. Plus, since she is stable, I don’t have the right to undress her when she is passed out. I will need to check on her in an hour or so and do some maintenance on her armor in a few hours, so I will need that medics key back later.” Reaching down, I slip the rings off the cold fingers of Carries severed arm. Checking the inscriptions, I verify where the stone embedded bands came from.

“Here.” I hold out my hand with Carries rings in my palm. The platinum’s and golds tinged with blood. A single black titanium ring impregnated with diamonds looks the most menacing amongst the three rings. “You might want these… Either as spoils of war, or to return to their original owner.”

“She stole these?” Leia asks.

“No. Two of them are gifts from birthdays, and the titanium ring is an engagement ring. Symbolizing the creators desire to make the impossible, possible for her, and his desire to go against all odds to prove his love.”

‘Why are you giving these to us?”

“Because it is customary to turn over our valuables when you are captured. If you don’t give them up easily, you are normally beat half to death, strip searched, then tossed out the airlock.” I elaborate. “It’s pretty much the standard amongst mercenaries and pirates.”

“First of all, we’re not pirates.” Jeff exclaims.

“I don’t doubt that.”

“Second, who gave these to her?”

“Check the inscription on the inside of the titanium engagement ring. I have never seen laser engraving done like that before in titanium, but it’s a work of art to behold.”

“’To my beloved Star Siren. Captain JM’ Captain J M? So, these are from John?” Leia asks.

“The one and the only. That band is made from titanium battle plate off John’s old ship. Then he tooled it down and somehow got those diamonds melded into the titanium. A feat even master craftsmen won’t accomplish.”

Leia drops the rings into Jeff’s hand next to the amulet. Jeff examines the jewelry laying in his hand.

“Three rings? And that picture in the amulet…”

“The birthday rings don’t count as part of the three rings ceremony.”

“Three rings ceremony? Where did you hear that from?”

“From an alien race we found a long time ago. The prime gives his queen three hand crafted rings, symbolizing his promise to her. Two are engagement rings, and the third is a wedding band. Each ring must be hand forged or crafted from memorable materials, and each ring must have a story behind it.”

“How prevalent is the three rings with your people?”

“Almost nonexistent. I only know of one other UNSC Captain the performed the three rings ceremony.”

“Tell me, who is the other!”

“No need to get excited.” I counter Jeff’s pushy tone, while moving Carrie to her own bench in her room. “It was Admiral Starlock. It was right after him and Keys both discovered the Elnath collective. One of their councilors made the discovery that Starlock was an Eternal Prime before the reports of a new civilization where even sent back. One thing led to another, and now John Starlock is the Emissary Prime between the UNSC and the Elnath Collective.”

Jeff’s eyes light up as I continue my story. “Tell me more! Where can I find them?! How do I meet them?!”

“Beats me… I’m just a trigger jockey. You would have to ask an astro-dimensional navigator where you could find the Elnath. They are a very private civilization, so much so that very few humans have ever reached their home world that they keep hidden between dimensions. Most contact is held at a predetermined meeting point. Though psi users like Admiral Starlock and Vice Admiral Keys make that unnecessary.”

“Psi? What is that?”

“No clue. That about completes my knowledge of the Elnath. Anything more and you would need to talk to a cultural anthropologist that works with the Collective.”

After a few nods to his family, Jeff steps over to me holding out his hand containing Carries jewelry. “You keep ahold of these and return them when she is able to accept them.” Jeff drops the rings and amulet into my bare palm. Removing my dog tags, I thread the chain through the rings and amulet and hang them from my neck under my armor.

“I will be honored to keep them for her.”

“Can you move her to your room? I’ll have Ship clean up this room.” Jeff nods towards Carrie.

“Yeah, I’ll move her. But just incase you are thinking what I think you are thinking… Her arm is not salvageable. With that much damage and death, even the Elnath would be foolish to try to recover that arm, and they are equivalent to a god’s when it comes to healing.”

Jeff frowns at Carries arm lying on the floor.

“Don’t worry, she’ll get a new arm once she gets back to reach.” I reassure Jeff as I pick the captain up, and carry her out of the room, retracing my steps back towards the room I woke up in.

Stepping into the room I am surprised to see the room now furnished, with all the necessities much like a prison cell… all be it a nice futuristic prison cell.

Setting Carrie down on the more prominent ‘bed’, I check that I am alone in the room, and start stripping off my blood splattered armor.

“Jesus Carrie, you lost a lot of blood…” I say to her sleeping form, trying to remember how much blood a person can loose without catching a serious case of death.

Piece my piece I strip my armor down until I am standing in just my reactive skin suite and neuro harness. Using the provided sink, I carefully wash each plate of the armor, assembling it in its standing position against the wall.

“Ah, too bad I didn’t have an AI with me… would make a great sentry guard.”

After completing the laborious task of cleaning the armor I check the time. Two hours had already gone past.

I look over at Carrie resting on the bed. Small twitches coming from her remaining hand signal that she is almost awake. Leaning over her on the bed, I peer into her face mask, hoping to give her a fright when she wakes up.

It only takes a moment until her eyes open, almost popping out of their sockets when she sees my face hovering over her. Carries resulting jump causes her to grab onto her stub.

“Good morning Captain… have a good nap after your self-amputation?”

‘Dreams are for suckers… Nightmares are what heroes are made of.’ Oh, I would love to sock the moron who told me that right in the face… They are probably the reason I was dreaming about being eaten by the Kirrix. Unfortunately, that piece of wisdom came from an Admiral, and attacking an admiral is not a sign of sanity for a good reason. But when I opened my eyes and saw a grinning face directly above me, you could say I flinched, and flinched big time.

All of that jumping around of course reminded me why I was passed out and having nightmares in the first place… My attempted self-performed amputation of my dead right arm.

By the time I was able to look at it, it was already too late. Necrosis had set in and began destroying the tissue. Medical training had told me that at one point, it was safer to risk blood loss and cut it off, than it was trying to save the limb.

“Good morning Captain… have a good nap after your self-amputation?”

“God damn you Ambrose…” I groaned while trying to forget my pain.

“Well at least you are still alive.”

“When we get back to base, I am going to have the med team beat bed side manners into you…”

“Oh, the threats. I had to finish the job you know? If I am getting beat for bed side manners, then your getting beaten for your self-amputation skills!” Sam smiles while sitting on the bed next to me.

“How about we call it even then?” Sam nods his head to our truce. “Anyways, I assume you spoke with the Mathews family?”

“Eh… A little…”

“What about?”

“They seemed a little insistent to heal you, and I let slip that even the Elnath Collective couldn’t heal you…” Sam confesses. “That and they seemed very interested in your engagement ring.”

“My engagement ring?”

“Yeah, that impressive example of a titanium ring. I let slip that it was a part of the three rings ceremony and they about went crazy over it.”

“So you think they have some connection to the Elnath?”

“I don’t think you have looked all that closely Captain, but this room has a few features that just scream Elnath. Between the faucet and the bed you are laying on? I would almost think that this is an old Elnath ship.”

“But judging by their surprise over the slip of information about them, you don’t think they have actually met them?”

“No way. Their reactions indicated that none of them have ever even heard of the Elnath. Much less the collective.”

I groan as I try to think through the possibilities.

“Captain? I think we should get you out of your armor for now. I need to tend to your wounds, and you need to bathe to prevent any infections.”

“Do I stink that bad that you can smell it through my armor?”

“No… But I know first hand how smelly things get when the situations get out of hand.”

“Noooo… I had the situation perfectly under control!” I joke with Sam, both of us understanding that our situation on the rock was the furthest from.

“Well, looks like you are all better now Captain! I now bestow you a clean bill of health!” Sam exclaims jokingly.

“Perfect health, besides my right arm… Didn’t need that arm anyways!” I laugh, enjoying this banter.

“Laughter is the best medicine! But on the other hand, Captain, you need to strip. Doctor’s orders.”

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