The Black. For a career navel officer it had a certain comforting quality. However, normally said career navel officer would be on a warm and heated bridge surrounded by those who would enact his every whim. Now that Rense found himself wearing his disconcertingly thin survival suit standing on his shattered bridge with the very few survivors of his crew mag-locked in their stations to prevent them from floating uncontrollably about the place, he found space a considerably less comforting entity. The Wrath was a broken shell, a beast not tamed but torn apart and left to die. Reinforced glass floated serenely about the space, consoles sparked fitfully and the bridge lay bathed in crimson emergency lighting.
The black was suddenly split, the dimly lit bridge suddenly shattered into fragments of shadow in the deepest places of the ship. An intense white beam speared into the bridge, the distinct lack of motion from the crew it caught showed just how few had survived. A small Aquan cutter, launched from the Endless Wave, hove into view before him even as the recovered from the blinding light. He felt the vibrations through the soles of his boots as the breaching clamps locked onto the flank of the bridge, the automated arc cutters began to carve through the thick plating. It took them a while to get through the tough shell of the ship but when they did he was greeted by yet another spotlight and the armoured forms of the Aquan boarding crews. The largest of their number approached him, looked him up and down, and the drove the butt of his weapon into the armoured forehead of the Dindrenzi admiral.
Draykon came to suspended between two Aquan marines, his feet dragging along the floor with a battle suited arm under each of his. He looked around groggily, his navel intuition telling him he was likely on the bridge. Organic looking control consoles stood in arrayed ranks, the Aquan crew staring at him as he was frog marched through. He was wet, or rather the outside of his suit was, it being environmentally sealed, though he had had his helmet removed at some point and his short cropped black hair lay plastered to his forehead. He had heard tell that some Aquan ships, or at least sections of them, were filled with water for the comfort of the filthy xenos. The irony of the mental insult considering he had just discovered first hand that they spend half of their time in a bath was not lost on him. He chuckled to himself aloud, it coming out as a half conscious gurgle that drew the attention of his gaolers. They spoke to each other, a surprisingly soft sound considering. They laughed then, or at least he thought they did, it was both hard to tell and hard to care at this point.
He was headed for a large pool of water, oval in shape, about ten feet long on the one axis and 8 feet on the other. The fluid was a gentle azure colour, easily the match of the finest paradisical island on Corsica, lit from below with moving images and lines of floating text. It was the command pool, an isolation tank which projected a holographic representation of the entire battle zone and showed every ship, asset and obstacle in the local space; it allowed an Aquan admiral to literally swin through the battlefield and perceive the engagement from almost any angle or vantage point. It meshed well with the Aquan’s natural abilities and explained why they were such masters of the void. A shadow stirred within the pool, moving with a grace and ease that only a native of water would possess. An Aquan, a Tritoni Rense thought, emerged from the pool, even getting out with an intense level of grace. He stood before Draykon, dripping wet in a skin tight body suit of some alien material. He looked down at the Dindrenzi, held as he was by his captors. The Aquan gestured to the two boarders who held him and they set him down on his feet with surprising gentleness so the two admirals were looking each other in the eye.
“So, this is what a Rense looks like,” the Aquan stated with lilting cadence. A couple of the crew laughed, presumably those who understood his tongue. “You look no different from any other of your kind. I was expecting something more… impressive to go with your name. But then, you are only a fragment of a Rense, aren’t you Draykon. A distant scion of the noble house, a red dwarf to your family’s supernova.”
The Aquan was baiting him. Rense knew this but it irked him anyway.
“Yes. I am Draykon Rense. Admiral of the Dindrenzian Navy, 913th P.N.D. I can’t say I have the misfortune of knowing you.”
“In your crude tongue, I am Admiral Tye Ho’gyn, know by some as the Voice of the Sebrutan and master of the Endless Wave and this fleet. You are, hereby, my captive and a prisoner of the war.”
“Very well, Admiral Ho’gyn of the Aquan Sebrutan I shall willingly submit myself to your custody. Though I promise you that I will offer you no information.”
“Oh, fear not my friend,” Tye smirked arrogantly, “I have all I need from you. Word will spread back to the Federation that a member of the Rense family lost a Retribution, got captured and is now a prisoner of war. That will do far more damage than any war secrets you may possess. Thank you, for your honourable surrender.”
Tye turned to his gaolers and spoke quickly to them in the Aquan. He was half walked, half dragged to an platform at the back of the bridge. It was only when they turned around that he realised that half the bridge was underwater. They stood for a while on the platform. Rense saw Tye get back into the command pool, his silhouette moving around the water with a languid fluidity. Draykon had no idea what he was doing until he saw the spears of crimson light fly from the Wave and strike what remained of the Wrath. He watched what little remained of his flagship break apart and fall, smouldering into yet another pile of debris. An ignoble end to a noble steed. Rense couldn’t be sure, but he felt as though Tye’s silhouette was watching him as the platform finally began to descend through the ship.
They got off in another air breathing level of the ship. It was dark, the curved red and ivory walls of the ships interior holding shadow close as a lover. His escorts walked him down a long corridor, the floor and walls glistening with moisture and doors studded it’s length evenly. Most were open. Some weren’t. He was led to an open door perhaps two thirds of the way down the corridor. The room was lit with a faint blue light from the ceiling. They walked him to the centre of the room and turned him around, a pair of fronds descended from the ceiling and the guards wrapped them around Draykon’s wrists. They began to retract into the ceiling, bringing his arms to shoulder height. One of the guards produced a mask, tubes running from the sides into the ceiling near his bonds.
The guard placed it over his face and Rense found it to be surprisingly comfortable. It was like an sub aquatic breathing mask he had used as a younger man in navel training. Even as this realisation hit him his guards left the room and the door closed behind them. The room began to fill with water and suddenly the reason the walls were wet became clear. The chamber filled fast, before long he was suspended in the middle of his cell, his bonds ratcheting him up further as the water began to take his weight. The room was filled in a matter of moments and it did not take a genius to consider that he would not be escaping. He was tied to the ceiling, underwater, in a locked room down a lengthy corridor with a lift that would undoubtedly be on a different floor. Should he ever make it back to the Federation, he may just suggest such a thing to the shipwrights for holding particularly high value targets.
“Well,” Draykon mused aloud to himself, pleasantly surprised to find the mask allowed him to speak while also keeping him alive. “at least I shall have time to contemplate my mistakes.”