Now the command control would have to be rebuilt. Smoke and sparks spoke of its demise, having taken the brunt of the fist slamming on it in a single hammering blow. The silent corps, what was left of the mercenary unit, stood without flinching as the last flickerings of life arced from the console. Manual navigation would have to do, for now. It was a sane response to an insane situation. They had become accustomed to outbursts like the one they had just witnessed.
Only seconds before, a blue flash of light sparked on the viewscreen, brilliant against the blackness, before zapping out of existence. An empty void stared back at them while scanners sought the coordinate point their prey had exited into so alarmingly fast. Another potential quarry lost, another explanation to give to those awaiting the mercenaries’ return. Another mission failed, and another angry scream added to the many let loose by the commanding officer of the cadre. He, himself, stood shaking, his fist still knotted and grasping the truth of the moment. The last lost contingent of soul-bearing humans had slipped from his sights, and now with dwindling supplies and a crew questioning his capacity to lead, he had before him the prospect of explaining himself to his superior. His anger seethed in unintelligible spittle-laced mutterings. He pivoted and stalked off to his quarters, his leather-gauntleted hand narrowly missing the head of a quick-witted crewman while his dark eyes pierced those nearest him with threat and fury.
“Fix it,” he snarled. “An hour and we’re heading back. There’ll be more where that one came from.” His broad back heaved with the effort of giving them some hope. He paused momentarily, leaning in a jagged mass against the bulwark. Expelling his weariness in a long, vaporous breath, he suddenly straightened, squared his shoulders and uttered as he strode from their company, “We’ll find them yet.”
With his bulk of ominous shadow gone from the room, the crew as one let an inaudible groan escape from their tense bodies before spurring into action. Enough components were available to do the job in time, but to what end? Silent looks shared gave voice to what they dare not say. For most, this wasn’t what they signed on for. For most, hunting souls was distasteful work at the very least, ignoble and without reward or sanity. A few furtive glances to see if the screen gave any indication of remnants of the blue spark that had lit up more than the room, more than the commander’s temper, went undetected by the quartermaster’s minions keeping an eye on them.
The practice of silence, however, gave rise to a new mode of communications between the more sensitive of the lot. Understanding would come. For now, they knew enough to hide what they felt. In flashes of telepathic comms, the blue light would come to link them internally, as a beacon in their minds. For now, patience and quiet, emotionless obedience, they knew, would get them through another day.