PHD #012: EVENT - Another Soul to the Stars
Another Soul to the Stars
Summary: A salvage operation goes tragically wrong.
Date: 10 Mar 2041
Related Logs: None
Merrell Haeleah Antares 

Uram Sector
Debris Field.

Uram Sector has been the Cerberus' home for several days now, ever since leaving Virgon airspace for the second time. As the massive battlestar and her two companion frigates lurk in the dense fields of debris and proton storms, so does the wreckage of the Protogenoi at play — a large belt of rock and metal, some bits from asteroids and other hapless natural bodies that met their end, and some bits from manmade vessels that cracked off here.

It's these latter that the order comes down to investigate, potential that there is for some to contain useable metal or electronic pieces. A Raptor's brought the two-woman EVA crew out here and now sits nearby, careful not to get so far into the debris mess that it can't get back out.

Haeleah is going through the standard check to her EVA suit while she's still got some time to kill on the Raptor. For the second time. Never hurts to double-check the thing that stands as the thin line between you and vacuum oblivion. "Ready for a stroll, Chief?" she asks Merrell. Slight smile beneath her helmet. It never quite touches her eyes. This sort of work, in these times, is too serious for real joking around.

Merrell cracks her neck inside the suit before securely attaching her Sack of Goodies to her belt and moving off onto the wingtip of the Raptor. "As per the usual. Helluva view, aye sir?" she says over the comms, eyes turned towards the celestial body nearby, magnetic boots clamped securely to the Raptor.

The Raptor's ECO twists around in her seat, watching the two engineers get all strapped together. Well, strapped separately. Together would be kind of funny. She flashes Haeleah a thumbs up, turning her seat with her foot. "Ready to go, El-Tee?"

"Ready-O," Haeleah replies, returning the thumbs-up before edging to the wingtip herself. Her magnetic boots clank, dull and slowly, as she makes her way along. Her neck cranes back at Merrell's words and she concurs, softly, "Hell of a view…you forget how quiet it is out here. Peaceful, in its way."

Merrell is just chillin out on the wingtip. She tilts back at the knees at an angle that would look rediculous in gravity, but she just peers up towards the stars, turning a bit in place to look around. "Beautiful," she whispers. "I love it. Anyhow, let's get to it, sir?" She casts a glance to the other woman before shoving off towards the wreckage, twisting so she'll hit it feet-first.

The ECO flashes Haeleah a little grin and settles back, fiddling with some buttons on the DRADIS screen. The pilot shoots her a bit of a look and lifts his cramped arms, stretching.

Outside in the eternal blackness of space, the emptiness is thick with dust that glitters and shimmers every often as it catches the lights from the Raptor. Just like the old saying, all returns to dust in the end. The dark shape of the Cerberus is barely visible, hulking a ways off. Right in front of the two engineers begins a jungle gym of metal chunks, that are instantly recognizable as once having belonged to some kind of colonial vessel. Little pieces of hull plate, unreadable stamping. Shattered glass. Even — as Merrell glides by — a chair. Really. A swivel chair, floating forever in space.

Haeleah watches the chair float by. Something about that erases all traces of smiles from her face, faint though they were. There's something a little eerie about the spaced chair. Out she goes, testing her line carefully as she moves along. "Don't think we'll want to salvage the recliner. Looks like there *is* some useable metal out here, though. Good to know the trip wasn't worth a waste. Let's get to it, Chief."

Merrell reaches out towards the chair as she floats by but doesn't touch it. A relic from an age passed by less than two weeks ago. Her boots thunk down and connect her to the vessel's wreckage, bending at the knees to absorb the light impact. "You got it, El-tee. What do you want to grab first? Start cutting this thing into small pieces for transport or start ripping out the wiring?" She pulls up her Sack of Goodies and opens the top. The light of her helmet points inside and she reaches in.

Most immediately visible is the large section of hull plating. Large, though not incredibly useful in any sense. The bits that would have identified its origin are gone, black streaking across the metal as though it had been scorched at the moment of its demise. Connected to it is another, larger section of the ex-ship, some kind of burnt-out panel and large funnel shape visible from where the two engineers float. Electronics, perhaps.

"Wiring first. It's generally better to remove the fine parts before you start with the actual severing," Haeleah replies. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Her booted feet grav themselves heavily on the hull plating next to Merrell. "Less chance of cutting into something useful. I wonder if we can get anything from the electronics to ID this ship? Doesn't seem quite right not to know her."

Merrell nods, fumbling around inside the bag before she finds what she's looking for. The Almighty Screwdriver. She thunks her way across the hull towards the burned panel. "You got it, sir." She squats close to the panelling and works at the heads. "I once got involved in a salvage op waaaay the hell out off the main routes once. Our frig ran across an arms smuggler who somehow blew himself up. Nasty business." She works at the paneling easily enough. "Ever had to do things like this before?"

"Gravedigging?" Haeleah replies a little wryly. Cutting to the heart of what they're doing. But it's said with a dry smile. "Once or twice. My last assignment was out of Scorpia. The shipyards got *a lot* of salvage calls for the vessels in that part of Colonial space. I did escort carrier duty before that. They always seemed to get the crap clean-up assignments. Learned to dance in zero-g early. Not quite under these circumstances, though." She's got her screwdriver out and is working along with Merrell, albeit on a different chunk of hull. Her gloves don't allow her the full range of fine motion work, but she's as deft and gentle as possible as she accesses the fine systems.

"Aww c'mon, sir. It ain't that bad. Its more like..delicately removing the classic album worth five hundred cubits that some jerk threw away into his trashcan." Merrell looks up to the LT and gives her a reassuring nod. "Dancing in zero-G? You're going to have to teach. Sounds like a fine art form. One which I will surely fail at. I'm about as artful as a drunk Viper Ensign." There's just a -hint- of levity to that. She finally pulls off the panel and stuffs it into her bag, attention focused on the inside. "Huh. Interface panel. Weird. Deck Chief will probably be able to put this to good use." She flicks a switch on it while moving the screwdriver with the other hand.

<FS3> Merrell rolls Alertness: Success.
<FS3> Haeleah rolls Alertness: Success.

As the switch is flicked, something begins to flash nearby. A small white light, nothing out of the ordinary. Both engineers will catch it out of the corner of their eyes, on another second of the broken deck about 20 feet away. It's a rhythmic pulse, quick, like some sort of beacon in the black. Half covered by a jagged strip of metal, torn nearly to shreds.

"You can't spin so good, the but zero-g lifts are amazing," Haeleah says. Though more talk of dancing is stalled when she notes the flashing nearby. Eyes go up and squint outward at it. "What in the worlds…Chief, you spot that?"

"Huh." Merrell looks at the light. "Its got juice left in the lines. Or one crazy battery hooked up to it. Now I'm pretty curious about what this thing is." She stops working at the panel with the screwdriver and flicks another switch. "Want me to shut it off, sir? Kinda curious what this does." She furrows her brow and looks back to the panel.

Haeleah watches the pulsing for a moment, eyes narrowed behind her helmet. "It doesn't look like code, whatever it is. No light-code I'm familiar with, at least. No pattern, really…" Just regular blinking. "Yes, Chief, see if you can shut it down. I'd like to take a closer look but I don't want us putting out hands in there with it fritzing like that."

Whatever it is keeps blinking away. It's not terribly bright, hardly blinding. It's just there, slowly pulsing on and off and making the dust around it glitter.

"Aye." Merrell just flicks the same switch again to try and shut it off. She then takes the screwdriver floating beside her and begins working at the panel again. "Could be anything. I just hope it isn't some sort of emergency beacon. Last thing we need is to put out on a bullhorn to the cylons that 'Hey, we're right here!' so they can come play hide and seek." One of the screws is stripped and she wedges the flathead between the plate and access terminal.

"Might be," Haeleah doesn't deny the possibility, drifting over toward that area herself. Though she doesn't get in the way of Merrell's tender moment with the panel. "Though cutting through all this debris is a bitch enough for our systems. It's a fair bet it fritzes with the Cylons a bit as well. Which is why we're camped here. Still…best not leave the light on for them."

"Yeah and no, sir. We've got some plasma cutters back on the boat we can grab if we really need to take something apart quick. Had to use them once on some trapped crew after an explosion on a frigate a few years back." Merrell finally gets the screwdriver under the panel and pries at it with a grunt. "If I can get under here I can disconnect the damned power source from control. Should shut everything off." Wedge. Pry. Wedge. Pry.

The silence of space is all-consuming, comforting to some and eerie to so many others. If only the vacuum hadn't existed around them, the prying engineer might've heard one thing — a small scratch-click deep inside the panel as two parts are forced against each other. It was never meant to happen this way, really, the entire setup controlled by an intricate series of wires and mechanical safeties that were designed to stop this from ever happening…but with the panel's broken state there's nothing to stop it.

Through Merrell's thick EVA gloves she'll suddenly feel heat. White hot, even in this desperately cold space. Within half a second it's powerful enough to have melted the tips of her glove to panel, and when that happens? You know you've got a heartbeat left…

Haeleah supervises Merrell's work with the panel without much immediate concern. The NCO is an experienced chief and knows her business. In the comforting darkness, she doesn't hear the scratch-click. She can't feel the heat from her angle. She is, for a moment, blessedly ignorant.

Robin stares at the panel. That ball of ice barely has time to form. She whips her head up. The Chief's eyes are wide as saucers. "FIRE!" she yells over the comms systems. Fear. Panic. Terror. There's barely time to try and make the effort for one pull on her gloves. Anything to try and get out of the way of what she knows is coming.

Gloves fuse to panel, EVA boots to the 'floor' of this old husk as it begins to cry out into the vacuum. The whole thing is beautifully and terribly silent as the old hunk of munitions attached to those wires explodes. Twenty feet away, the flash is momentarily blinding and Haeleah can feel the rush of heat and the shockwaves that bloom as the metal that Merrell's standing on blows up. In an instant, metal's ripped apart and so is the Senior Chief, sending part of the panel ripping through space and past Haeleah's body, showering her with particles, dust, and, most horribly, gobbets of flesh.

"Fire!" Haeleah repeats the yell with no small measure of horror herself. "Chief, get out of there! Raptor One, this is Lieutenant Parres, we're extracting. Tell Cerberus to have a medic ready…" But she's no time to say anything more. She half juts forward to try and near Merrell, to make some effort to pull her out. But she has no time. And would probably only have shared her fate if she'd be able to get more speed out of those boots. Her eyes are open wide as that flash hits them. It is, perhaps, a mercy that she's blinded for a second as the chief is blown apart. Though, as the haze clears, she does notice the flesh that hits her. She intakes a sharp breath. Trying not to scream. Or throw up in her helmet.

The Raptor pilot's voice comes over the comm, panicked: "What the frakkin-…" And them the boom hits, metal spraying the front of the Raptor and slamming into the viewport.

It's the ECO's voice next, high-pitched with shock. "Holy shit! Lieutenant, Chief! The frak just happened? You okay?"

Dust. The cold of space claims the heat away almost as quickly as it ripped from the buried section of missile, leaving behind a broad swath of dust. Metal and body, pulverized together.

"She's…gone…" It is gasped over the comm, but it's hard to tell if Haeleah meant it as a communication or just a stunned exclamation. She tries to gather herself some. "Something tripped under one of the panels the Senior Chief was working on. Tripped a clusterfrak. Nevermind the medic. There's…there's nothing left to save." She bows her head, muttering something to herself. A prayer perhaps.

"/Frak/ me." The pilot again, the comm making his voice sound tinnier than it really is. Or maybe that's just the massive course of adrenaline now in his system. "Shit. Come on, El-Tee, we're getting the frak out of here. Not sitting around a frakkin minefield."

"Coming in," Haeleah affirms, dragging herself back to the Raptor via her line. The hulking suit is helpful right now. Makes it harder for her hands to shake. "My gods…"

The ECO's waiting with the bay doors open, looking about five shades paler as she helps Haeleah inside and then closes the doors, the pilot manuevering the Raptor back out of the debris and home to the Cerberus.

And behind in space the dust drifts, another memory and another soul added to the millions of little pieces. They'll move forever with nothing to stop them, glittering under the light of the ageless stars.

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