“It will work.” Tiny pieces of my body were passing by my face in the narrow darkness. I could feel my legs being disassembled. My consciousness began to flicker around the edges.
I had my doubts.
Those legs weren’t doing me much good anyway, crushed under tons of nickel and iron. So, OK, take ’em apart, I’m not going anywhere.
Best laid plans, and all that. Never expected a boobytrap down here, in the lightening shafts, but we don’t think like them.
“It will work,” repeated the group mind of my team. They would say that. Without a qualm, they lie when the truth serves no purpose. But I’ll never know, since if they’re lying I’m good as dead. On the other hand, they’re trying something, which they are far too practical to do if there were really no chance. So…
The rock shifted. I had the utterly peculiar experience of feeling my head crushed like an overripe melon. The team made sure I felt no pain – what good would pain do? What was peculiar is that I didn’t completely lose consciousness even as my gray matter was squeezed like toothpaste into the spaces between the rocks.
Then the team did that disconcerting thing they do, putting images directly into my mind. I guess they thought I’d want to know what was going on. I was really almost beyond caring, but as usual the team did what they calculated to be the right thing.
I saw an image of my mangled body crushed in this hell hole, frozen in a military crawl. Most of my body below the waist was missing; I couldn’t bring myself to focus on my head.
Blue lines, like gently glowing lightning, covered my body. The lightning trailed through narrow gaps in the rubble to a opening about 25 meters ahead. They moved. The individual components were far too small to see, but together they gave the overall impression of swirling motion in a loosely woven blue fabric.
In the space up ahead, I could see the blue lines congealing into a form. Somehow, I knew that network contained not only the fragments of my body, but the fragments of my mind as well. As I watched, the form became more human. Right before I finally passed out, the form became recognizably me.
I came to on the surface, my body inside my suit. “Commander, please summon the retrieval.” The team, as always, sounded completely calm. I moved my hands and eyes, found them gratifyingly functional, and activated the subspace beacon.
“Thanks,” I croaked.
“No need,” answered the group mind. “Control would not have come back only for us.”