The hangar doors closed behind them with a deep groan.
Dust and smoke billowed from around the capsized vessel. Within, the crew again was scattered about the main deck and cabin, overturned from the hastily executed landing.
“Everyone alive?” Cedric asked into the room. “Amelia?”
His wife groaned in response, “Alive…”
“I’m alright.” Wyatt said at length pulling himself from a matted wad of cables.
Kitty helped Javert to his feet. Javert held Amarante, who was unconscious.
“Vale!” Kitty called, “Amarante is–”
“She’s alright…” Javert muttered finding his footing, “I took the brunt of the blows…I think she blacked out in the free fall.”
Across the room Vale struggled with a fallen beam which pinned him to the flooring. “Ah, a little help…”
Rottger lifted it off his crew mate and tried to help him up. Vale tenderly winced as he put pressure on the leg as he sat up. Upon standing he found that nothing was broken, but he would certainly need to examine it later. Rottger anxiously whined and put the doctor’s arm over his shoulder.
“Are you alright, Rottger?” Vale asked him after a moment of catching his breath.
The fretful man shook his head yes. “hungry.”
“Ah, yes…You’re fine.”
Luthiem helped Cedric to his feet and brushed herself off. She had broken a few cogs…but nothing major. “Is ok.”
“What about Seamus and Audra?” the captain muttered puffing his cheeks out with a deep breath.
The group looked around in fright.
The microphone was across the room in shambles. The comm tubes were bent and badly out of shape.“Seamus, Audra, Suzeaux! Fox! Attica, Report!”
There was no response.
“We have to get down there.” Vale muttered.
Cedric looked at the room dismally. With the Isabella on her side, there was little way to reach a few of the doorways.
All at once the door that lay open above them was filled with strange orange light.
“We’ve got blood! Hello?! Vhaen rescue team, are you injured!”
There were a flurry of hands and voices as one by one the crew was taken up with the utmost of care from the helm room.
As Cedric was loaded into a canvas harness to be lifted from the ship he drew his pistol.
“I have crew still inside my ship!”
“Captain, this is hardly time for violence!” the female voice replied.”I have thirty of my best people searching your vessel for survivors. Now please…put the gun away.”
That word. Survivors. It chilled him to his core. The pistol slipped into its holster and he cleared the door that led into the large hangar.
When all were upon the large steel floor, the medical officers made themselves busy. Vale forced himself to help them despite their protests.
When the rescue team pulled Seamus and Audra from the wreckage they were soaking wet. Coated in liquid Aether. Audra was white as a sheet, a cut across one cheek that let a trickle of blood run down her jaw and neck. She was held meticulously by a tall male nurse. “Get me an oxygen mask for both these crewmen!”
Cedric pushed the hands of the medic that was attempting to treat him away and attempted to reach his crewmates.
“Sir please-They’re being well taken care of i-“
But Cedric would have none of it. “Let me talk to my crew!”
With a stagger he made it to them.“Are you both alright? Are you still with me?”
Seamus who looked rather dazed gave the captain a thumbs up and smiled.
Audra looked up at him and nodded, “I’m still here.” She clutched a bruised arm to her chest.
“These are good folks…let them help you.” Cedric soothed. Audra didn’t like it, but she looked at Cedric again and allowed the nurse to inspect her arm. Suzeaux came along with Fox and little Amelia. All three in better shape than many.
“I managed to get in a crawl space after the impact.” Suzeaux muttered rubbing her neck. “Now I know what the dynamite stick feel like.”
“We were safe strapped into the chairs,” Fox nodded, “Pretty shaken up and lunchless…but pretty well off considering.” he held Amelia’s hand and put an arm around the shaking girl.
The house keeper looked at Fox and Suzeaux with a colorless face and wide eyes. She rubbed the spots where the straps had held them so tightly. “The ship is gonna be an awful mess to clean up.”
Cedric sat back on the cot they had brought for him. The blankness in his face reminisce of the shock to his system. His ribs were bruised and broken. He had a number of small lacerations that were now bandaged as best they could be. It could have been so much worse, but that word rattled around in his brain. His wife, who was not far from him, having a cut to the forehead repaired, watched him sit there so quietly.
“Don’t start getting fretful now, Cedric. We’ve all made it. Beat up sure, but all alive.”
The nurse was checking over her arms and legs, “Minor damages, hairline fractured to the right ankle, get a splint from bio, concussion, laceration to the scalp. repaired.”
“She’s right, Captain.” Vale said leaning hard on the cane he had often carried just for show. “With all that went on, it’s…well it certainly wasn’t in the odds that we all walked away.”
The Isabella was on it’s side in the background. Crews about the hull were preparing to right her and inspect for total damages.
“All those men on the Charmelle.” Cedric shook his head. “This is why I hate war.”
“We all agree with you.”
Across the room Kitty and Luthiem sat on a crate sipping from two blood bags with horror on the faces of the medical team. The whispers and drawn faces made the crew who had gathered together painfully chuckle a bit.
“I forget that not every world is familiar with the mixed bag we keep on board.” Amelia smirked.
One of the medical officers cast a frightened glance to her.
“No, You’re fine. They aren’t gonna mess with you. And save your supplies and don’t bother treating the tall one, and the one in the green over there. They’ll be just fine after some food.”
“Wh-what are they?!” The poor girl asked as her voice cracked.
Rottger smiled widely at her. “I zombie. Rottger.” he extended his hand and shook hers with a pleasant demeanor. The nurse who was flustered and apprehensive slowly started to smile.
“Rottger? Well I’ll be..”
“You?” The ambling fellow asked in his most pleasant voice.
“Annette. I’m the biochemical assistant here in Vhaen.”
Rottger pointed at her quickly and leaned back, “Science!”
The apprehension in the nurse’s face had eased and she chuckled.
Cedric shook his head, “remind me to make Rottger head of PR.”
The team of rescuers came hurriedly up the ramps to the floor.“Hey we’ve got one more!” The group of three carried the last unaccounted for crew member. She muttered under her breath absently as they set her down.
“I said, I’m fine…”
“Miss, you’re bleeding.”
She glared at them a moment before letting them continue.
“Where were you?” Cedric asked her.
“In the ballast room, reading under the sky light.” Attica replied making a face as they cleaned glass from her hands and arms.
“The ballast room blew open with the balloon.” Cedric blinked.
The alchemist shook her head and held up her hands. Raw rope burns wrapped around the palms of both hands and up her forearms. “I found a hand hold. Got blown around a bit…But don’t look much better than anybody else…”
“I think something is wrong with her eyes…” the male officer muttered to his assistant.
“No, that’s normal.” She replied.
“Captain Whittaker.” A tall female in a jumpsuit and boots approached him.
Cedric turned to look up at her and stood to his feet wavering, “Yes?”
“Katherine Tellius. I’m chief of staff and founder of the Vhaen expedition. Please be seated, you’ve taken quite the beating. Sorry about your ship.”
He made a displeased face and looked over at the wreckage.
“We’ll do our best to repair her, I assure you.” The woman soothed.
“That’s mighty kind of you, taking us in on such short notice as this.” He found his seat again and the woman held a clipboard out in front of her.
“Really, Captain Whittaker, it was our duty. We’re all on the same side here. The Order fleet that was after you has circled around to the far side of the mountain range…Right now I doubt they know we’re here…but with any good scanning equipment it won’t be long before we’re discovered.”
“The war birds don’t usually carry scanners…but, yes, I agree.”
“You…ah, you were scheduled to meet captain Chambers aboard the Charmelle?” the woman hesitated to bring it up.
Cedric looked up quickly, “Yes…”
“Chambers, and the Charmelle, was stationed here as our personal guard.”
“Must have been some party…The Charmelle wasn’t a lightly armed ship.”
“We are an archaeological team, captain. The Charmelle and her captain…they were our ride in and out of the camp.”
“Archaeologists?” Cedric’s brow shot up in disbelief. “This is quite the spread for a bunch of…”
Katherine eyed him sarcastically.
She smiled coldly. “We are an independent group. The Order forbade the excavation of the world, despite the widely known origins of the planet and the well preserved ruins that exist here. This is one such spot.”
“This world is uninhabited?”
Katherine nodded again. “Quite. Hasn’t been for a few centuries. Our research shows that the population was a M class world. Had electricity, transportation, government…and overnight it just..disappeared.This particular spot is the Vhaen. A series of buildings and chambers built into the mountain side that housed possibly thousands of individuals every year. It was ritualistic…” The woman trailed off. “Ah, listen to me rambling. I’ll go get your crew some proper places to rest up, we’ll keep a really low profile the next few days and see about fixing up your ship.”
“Thank you, Miss Tellius.”