Character/Pairing: Cally Henderson, Diana Seelix (Gen)
Warnings/Spoilers: Only through "Act of Contrition"
Prompt: How new nuggets find out not to frak with the deck crew.
Author's Note: The story ended up going a different, darker place than the snarky prank war I had intended. For that, my apologies.
Summary: They are but mortals shells, and beyond the skills of any human to repair.
One minute, the hanger deck had echoed with catcalls and laughter. The ordinary voices were made mute by the landings rumbling overhead, but accompanied by gestures that spoke volumes.
One minute, Diana Seelix had been leaning against a welding crate, grinning at the clowning pilots. She had a headache gripping the back of her skull and another hour's worth of work left in her shift, but the officers were making fools of themselves as though no one else existed in the universe.
One minute, she was granting the passing loader no more than passing notice - not heading this way, don't need to move and not even focusing on the load of air-to-air T73s that it carried.
The next minute, the world was flame and sound.
She did not remember ripping the med kit from the wall, or sprinting across the deck, or tripping over a scrap of debris and skidding the last ten meters on her ass. She didn't remember strapping a tourniquet on one shredded thigh before scrambling to the next near-corpse. She didn't remember the fire suppression mist pouring over her, blocking her vision as she struggled to set the sternal iv through the remnants of a charred flightsuit.
Someone had to tell her all of that, later.
The last one went to cardiac arrest as they were lifting her onto the stretcher, and the medic threw aside the depleted paddles and snapped, "You breathe." So Diana had run with the stretcher, one hand locked on the bumper bar, dragging in ragged lungfuls of air between careful exhalations into the pilot's mouth. Above the pilot's body, the medic knelt on the stretcher and pumped steadily, elbows locked, his whole body rocking with each thrust.
They burst out of the elevator into sickbay, and into chaos. Diana's head snapped back and forth, looking for someone, anyone, to come and take over. Someone with more experience, someone good.
There was no one - everyone else was busy with someone else.
"Breathe!" gasped the medic, still hammering at the pilot's chest. She fitted her mouth to the pilot's, the barrier square long lost, and pushed air into the other's lungs.
There were people shouting all around her - shouting people and crashing equipment and medical alarms screeching at a high pitch. But all she could hear was the grunt of the medic as he kept the compression rhythm, on and on and on.
"Here, give me that."
A pair of hands took the syringe from her fingers. Diana blinked at the trauma nurse leaning over her and relinquished the instrument. Dully, she watched as the nurse loaded the syringe into an automatic dispenser.
"There, that'll do better. I think you can go now."
Diana straighted and looked around. A near silence had fallen over sickbay. The red digits on the wall said nearly three hours had passed.
"Better take her up on that offer." Diana turned at the rasping voice. Across the aisle, a familiar face gazed back at you - the chest compressions medic, his elbow leaning on a white-draped stretcher. The stretcher's bumper rail looked...chewed. With a start, Diana realized the marks had come from her own nails. As if aroused by the realization, her hand started to throb.
"You look done in. Go, get some rest," the medic said.
Around them, sickbay had emptied, leaving only a handful of blue-gowned medical personnel moving steadily from bed to bed.
"You're not going," Diana said. She flexed her hand but stopped when that made it hurt worse.
The medic shrugged, waved a hand. The other rested on the white sheet, his hand leaving a dark stain. "Just came on. I'm here for the duration." Diana noted the dark circles under his eyes and opened her mouth to argue.
"Hey, Lou," called one of the other blue-gowns called from across the bay. The medic turned his head and said, "What."
"Did you have Dee-eff number four? Downstairs, I mean."
"Yeah, grabbed it - frack." Lou-the-medic rubbed a palm over his face. "Charge went down, twoooweeet. I left it down there, when me and the deckie here were riding that one shut-down up the lift." He levered himself upright. "Must still be downstairs. I'll get it."
"I'll get it." Diana stood up, jamming her hand into her pocket. "No, I'm going," she said, and kept walking. Lou nodded, and sat down again, next to the body on the stretcher.
Riding down the lift, she kept her eyes up and locked. Someone had mopped the floor, but there was still a smear of blood on the control panel, and the air smelled of ash.
On the hanger deck, it was worse.
The elevator doors slid shut behind Diana as she stood there, staring at the wreckage. A crater bigger than her bunk had sunk into the wall and deck. The shells of two Vipers - one nearly gutted, the other listing hard to port - sat just to the side of the worst of it, sides blackened and scorched. She could barely make out their tail numbers beneath the burn marks.
A handful of hours before, they had been fierce warbirds, awaiting their chance to break darkness with the fire of a sun's heart, to spit death across the void at any foe foolish enough to pass with their reach.
Now they were only mortal shells, and Diana needed no diagnostic kit to see that both were damaged beyond the skills of any human to repair.
Security already had yellow tape strung across the accident site. The empty deck around it spread further than she remembered - someone must have moved the undamaged Vipers, she thought.
A deckhand with a power washer was at work at the edges of the blast marks, making the metal shine like the floor of the elevator. Diana circled the off-limits area, trying to remember where she had been when the pilot's heart had stopped beating. The burn mark on the bulkhead kept drawing her eye, distracting her.
On the far side of the damaged wall, a lone figure crouched under a Viper, half-immersed in the forward guidance access. The tail number read KL-231, the worst hanger-queen in on Galactica. Always a pain to troubleshoot, rarely finishing a scheduled mission, and perpetually in residence on the repair line, 231 was, hands down, the least-favorite Viper in the fleet. Chief could get her in the air, and kept her around as a pet project, or else the rest of the deck hands would have cut her into paperweights.
Of course. We lose two good Vipers and 231 doesn't even get a scratch. When Diana stopped at the Viper's side and bent to look under the wing, the mechanic at work withdrew one hand from the guts of the plane to rub at her eyes.
At the sound of her name, Cally jerked and turned. "What the f - oh, it's you."
"Yeah." Diana dropped to her heels. Cally sniffed, rubbed her face on her sleeve. "I thought shift ended already." At that, Cally lifted her head and laughed.
"Hadn't noticed. Trying to get this bird ready." Another moment, while the two women stared at each other. "Why are you here?"
"Uh. Med guys left some of their stuff down here, I said I'd look for it."
Cally twisted to look over her shoulder. "Black and silver case? Red-labeled stuff inside? Found a box slung under two-one-three, when we went to move her." Cally jerked a finger at the door to the supply room. "Stuck it in with the spare leads."
Diana nodded, staring across the deck at the supply room access. Her brain seemed to be moving at half speed. Cally still sat on the deck, ignoring the open access overhead. Finally, Diana said, "Why two-one-three? She always takes forever to get into the tube."
Cally's face went closed. She picked up a wrench and turned it over and over in her hands. "They just wiped the flight roster clear for the next two days. Only CAP, nothing else. Plenty of time to get even this - " a wave of the fingers at the Viper crouched over them both - "bitch back on line."
"Oh." Suddenly, the image of the white draped sheet slammed into her mind's eye - that stretcher, and the others she had seen, wheeled past. "Oh." Her breath hitched. There had been...there had been a lot of dead bodies. Eight. Maybe ten.
Ten pilots, or more. Two good planes - DE 224, who never managed to launch unless she was in the first wave - put her second wave, and 224 would sulk and melt a fuse, and have to be hauled out of the tube backwards. And KL 248, who would only fly if Cally went out and petted the starboard wing and told the 'craft she was a good plane, brave Viper, beautiful girl, before it went into the tube. Diana would never have believed it if she hadn't seen it for herself.
She didn't realize she had started to cry until Cally reached out and touched her face. Then the sobs wouldn't stop coming.
Cally didn't say a word, only folded her arms around Diana's shoulders and sat with her, under the Viper's wing.