PHD #294: Ashes and Stone
Ashes and Stone
Summary: Tisiphone Apostolos and Lauren Coll are laid to rest in fire and earth.
Date: 17 Dec 2041 AE
Related Logs: Clinging to Life; How We Deal With Loss
Bannik Cidra Constin Cora Devlin Khloe Pallas Psyche Sawyer Wade 
Post-Holocaust Day: #294

It's approaching sunset on the planet of Tauron, not far outside the Colonials' basecamp at Taeryth. The plant was near a river (albeit a rather small and still-polluted one), so at least the ground here was softer than might be found on the rest of the rocky planet. A Raptor was slated to depart from Cerberus, for those who were not in the camp the night before to simply walk for the occassion. And a somber occassion it is. The burial, after so many months of investigations and delays, of Crewman Lauren Coll. And the traditional pyre burning of the body of LTJG Tisiphone Apostolos, who ended her life by her own hand not so long ago. The grave and pyre - built hastily from wood scavenged from the dismal forests that spot the countryside of this region - are side-by-side. Perhaps ironic for two women who did not often get along in life, but they will be put to rest beside each other. Their bodies were brought down the night before, to be carried out and laid to their respective rests by the hands of their friends. The Raptor arrived a little bit ago, so those not already in camp could serve as pallbears if they wished.

Psyche and Alex, Bubbles and Decoy, The Flying Devlins… whatever you want to call them, they've been planetside, working more-or-less in tandem, all this while. Some digging, some pyre-building, some more digging. And some more. And more. There was probably a notion in play that, at some point, they'd clean up and get into dress greys, something appropriate for the solemnity of the occasion. But as the hour draws near, and the labor's led down to the wire, there seems little more fitting than dirt and sweat, soreness and exhaustion, blisters and bleeding. Tears, of course, but the tears have come and will again. Tis would probably approve. So would Coll. Anyone can cry, but the people who bust their ass for you, they're the ones you want at your frakking funeral.

It's said that many hands make light work, but there is only so far anything can go in making this much work light. Constin is filthy. Like the other diggers he's had neither time nor inclination to change, and efforts to clean his hands have still left the big sergesant with fingers caked in stubborn dirt and pinpricks of blood; marks of the rough work. The resulting grave- dug six feet long and six feet deep the day before has had it's bottom lined with several of the larger rocks the digging had unearthed, as well as liberal use of broken concrete chunks. To one side of the grave is the pyre, to the other the heap of earth, and another assortment of stones for the burial. The body to be buried was in no state for viewing, and thus has been wrapped in scavenged cloth.

Wade got here beforehand, to help get things ready. While working on getting everything ready, he wore his off-duty greens. He helped both with the digging and the pyre building, trying to help as much as he possible for different reasons. For Coll? Well, he really didn't know her, at all. But when he joined Cerberus, he heard a speech she wrote about another Pilot that passed away just recently at that moment, a Raptor pilot if he is not mistaken. In his mind, he thinks that Pilot would have been doing this if he was still alive, so, he is doing it for him. And out of respect of course. For Tisiphone? He knew her a little better, while their interactions were brief, she did something for that helped him a lot, she flew with him, and made him feel like he belong in this new team that he was part of. He never got to tell her how much that meant for him, and that is one big regret in his life. Now, for the Ceremony, he also packed his ceremonial uniform and is now wearing it. Grey in color, band over his chest with flight pins.

Khloe arrived with the most recent Raptor, dressed in her dress grays. Out of everyone here, she never knew Coll, and knew Tisiphone the least. Her duty here is to see to the final wishes of one of her pilots. She's more or less keeping to herself, arms more hugging her midsection and less crossed in defiance, watching the proceedings with a bit of somber determination.

Sawyer has come to pay her respects, despite those that think the reporter isn't capable of having any in the first place. She was one of the latest to arrive, and quietly joins the others volunteering to bear Tisiphone to her final resting place. Dressed in an expensive black suit and scuffed combat boots, the solemn face of the journalist is devoid of any make-up and her hair is pulled back into a neat tight ponytail. No muss, no fuss. She's here for her erstwhile friend.

Pallas is in his flightsuit. While he hasn't been around to actually help with any of the preparations, he did make the effort of switching his CAP rotation so that he could attend the funeral. He says nothing to the others present, acknowledges nobody, and stands off by his brooding self.

Cidra was down the night before. Helping in arrangement of the pyre, mainly. It seems to be one of those strange, mangled half-sister customs the her sect of Gemenon shares with Tisiphone's tribe of Sagittaron. Laid to rest upon a pyre, ashes scattered to the winds for the gods' embrace after the rites are given. It is a tradition she knows. Those have already been administered to the bodies. Now it is just a matter of getting them to their resting places. She walks out with those bearing Tisipone. And, though the earlier work was quite dirty, she did take time to wash her face and hands. And dress in…civilian clothes. Which might be a surprise to some. One could've speculated the CAG didn't even *own* civilian garb. But she's wearing it now, a white dress of a cotton-like material. Plain, with long sleeves and skirt, long dark hair down around her shoulders. Silently, she bears her former pilot to the pyre, helping to lay her cloth-wrapped form upon it.

As the bodies are brought to their final resting place, Psyche rises from a crouch, brings her head up, and faces the finality before her. Her throat works visibly in a swallow. One hand comes up to wipe at her face, as though tears were already present, though there are none. The other gropes blindly at her side, and is met with Devlin's hand, his fingers lacing tightly with hers.

While he is wearing the grey uniform, he really didn't cleaned himself up. So, while the uniform looks clean, his face and hands doesn't. Wade takes a deep breath as he sees everything falling into place. He looks to his left and finds Devlin and Psyche, and he is standing a few feet away from them. Hands move behind his back and stay there as he looks at the pyre in dead silence.

As Tisiphone's body is brought out, Pallas' eyes narrow and his jaw sets. Most people who attend funerals, generally speaking, look sad or upset; he looks angry. It's not just a vague anger, either - it seems to be burning rage directed at the corpse of Money Shot herself. Staying silent, he crosses his arms and watches.

The wrapped corpse of Coll is set on the ground beside the open grave, and Constin crouches to plant one dirty palm on the earth to drop down into the uneven stone of the six foot deep pit. Expression as set as the stones on which he stands, the marine raises his voice, wooden in tone, only loud enough to be audible, to prompt aloud, "Can somebody hand her down to me."

They say a burden is made light when friends help to carry it. Somehow, that doesn't seem the case today. Sawyer's footfalls are heavy and almost reluctant as they all stop to hoist the body of the pilot up onto her bed of sticks and kindling. When all is settled, she takes a few steps backward to the outer circle of people, folding her hands together and staring out over at nothing as thoughts take her elsewhere entirely.

It winds up being Psyche and Devlin who help lower Lauren Coll into Eleftherios Constin's arms. Psyche's not the kind to hear that call and spend a second looking around to see if someone else's gonna do it. Elf asks and she moves automatically, leaving Devlin to follow in her wake. They both take an end of the shrouded corpse, gently handing her down.

Wade focuses a little more on the grave when he hears Constin's words. He swallows and then takes a couple steps to get there but stops when he sees Decoy and Bubbles already heading there to help. He nods to them in silence and takes a step back, going back to his former spot. His gaze moves over to Pallas for a brief second then starts traveling over everyone here, placing itself a little more on Cidra and Sawyer.

Cidra bends down once Tisiphone is settled on the pyre, to pick up a home-made torch at the foot of it. With a lighter on her person, she fires it up. It's offered to Khloe. First and foremost. Getting all the piled wood burning properly will take a concentrated effort, so there are several torches prepared. "Circle around the pyre to cover all ends of it. It is best to get as much of it lit as possible." Whether it's ultimately taken or declined, more or lit and offered around. Getting the whole thing burning will be a collective effort.

Khloe finally steps out of the shadows and takes up a torch, setting to the grim task of contributing flame to the entirety of the pyre. It's difficult to read her expression, although her half-frown that accompanies her usual stoicness is vacant. Her lips are drawn taught and pressed together.

Constin nods once to Psyche and Devlin as they approach and lift. Under his breath, he voices, "Obliged to you both." Recieving the shrouded body, he reflects- not for the first time, how much lighter the remains are. With only Constin's head visible above the lip of the pit, not much is lost to sight as he bends down to settle the body in amongst the rough stones. He remains still a moment at the bottom of the grave, touching a brief kiss to the wrapped corpse's forehead. "Some day, girl," he rumbles under his breath before rising onto booted feet, and reaching for the first of the stones to lay atop the body. He pauses long enough to observe the lighting of the torches.

Whether Constin's sotto voce farewell was audible or it was the unspeakably poignant kiss — Psyche was doing pretty good, up until that point. Something in that moment stabs her to the heart, though, and the blonde pilot breathes a sob, turning her head and staring hard across the river, blinking fiercely at tears. As the torch is put to Tisiphone's pyre, Devlin places a hand on her shoulder, drawing her attention back to the here. The now. The goodbye.

Wait, now she has to actively light fire to her dear departed friend? The hesitation is apparent in Sawyer's frame as torches are past out. Clearly, this is not how they do things on Virgon. Whatever hang-ups the woman has, she powers through, moving forward to help in the effort to start the blaze so it will burn hot enough and bright enough for its chosen purpose.

Wade takes a step towards the pyre and leans forward to take a torch. He waits for the lighter to get to him and then, not before taking a look at Tisiphone's body, he lights up his torch. He looks at the faces that are more visible now thanks to the fire and then looks at his torch, staring right at the core. This is certainly not something that he is used to and he presses his lips together in thought. Still, it needs to be done.

Once Khloe has done her duty and the pyre burns in part by her own hand, she turns to Psyche and Alex. Frowning slightly, she approaches, and in a rare showing of empathy from the normally cold woman she half-reaches a hand out, to the both of them. It's not clear if there's a desire to touch, or offer to hold, the both of them, as the gesture is clearly difficult for her. But the invitation is there. Her lips are still pressed tightly together, almost as if stifling a grimace, or perhaps preventing tears.

Pallas steps up beside Khloe, also taking a torch. Instead of gently pressing the flame to the wood, he takes an overhand grasp of the torch and sticks it deep into the pyre. Crossing his arms again, he stands as the flames slowly begin to take hold, his smoldering eyes resting on Tisiphone's final resting form. "This wasn't to be your fate," he mutters, taking a step back.

Cora has been here as well, silent throughout in her off-duty greens as she helped carry Tisiphone's body to the pyre. When others take up torches, she does as well, silent still as she steps forward to help light the fires. She remains near for a moment as the flames take, stepping back just in time to avoid singed brows. Arms cross against her chest, and she watches.

Constin grasps a stone and bends back down into the pit, only to rise again and repeat the process illuminated increasingly by the pyrelight nearby. In short order there is more stone to be seen than cloth, and the big sergeant draws a last few breaths before climbing out of the grave.

Maybe it's the tone of Pallas' voice Sawyer recognizes, or maybe she's just glancing over at force which he jams the torch into the pyre. Either way, the reporter finally takes notice of this particular man attending the double funeral and she just. Stops. The burning splint of wood hangs idle by her side, her feet cease to move, and for a second she doesn't dare blink or breathe.

Cidra nods once to Khloe, a slight gesture of approval as she joins in the lightning. And then approaches the Devlins. Blue eyes go briefly to Constin as he buries his wife, before she returns her attention to the pyre. Like Pallas, she thrusts the burning torch she lights for herself deep within it. And steps back as the flames begin to take hold. "All essence burnt away, spirited to the Lords and Ladies…" Its murmured beneath her breath, not really meant as a benediction. "I thought you would remain longer than I, Money Shot…"

Psyche's gone back to gripping one of Alex's hands at some point, fingers entwined, her knuckles showing white as she struggles valiantly to keep it together. Then there's Khloe, reaching out, and Psyche has no idea what to do with that. She looks bleakly at the SL, her own face struggling, lips pressed into a similar, bloodless line… and she reaches out, taking Khloe's hand in her free one. She makes a strange, strangled little sound, half growl and half whimper, like a pained animal that doesn't know whether to fight or flee. She shows teeth — it could be considers a smile, if it weren't in such agony. "I don't have enough hands," she complains, her voice tremulous and wet.

Wade leans the torch forward to start the fire on his side, and then, after the fire is going at least on the surface, he pushes the torch through the wood and leaves it there. He doesn't hear what the others are saying and he mutters something under his breath. He takes a deep breath after this and takes a step back, away from the fire. The man stands straight now and doesn't look around this time, he just looks at the fire and focuses his attention on Tisiphone's body when it starts burning.

Devlin has the extra hand Psyche does not, so after a moment of watching Khloe, his expression tightly blank, he nods tightly to the SL and turns away. A torch is taken up, and he holds it for a moment before doing his (their) part in lighting the pyre.

"It's okay," Khloe says to Psyche in a soft, almost feminine tone. And again, "It's… it's really okay." She finds Psyche's gaze, looking on her with a soft, sad expression, almost as if she was asking for forgiveness. If anything, she's communing with a Viper pilot under her command with which she has only chafed against, before now.

Psyche shakes her head, the motion dislodging the tears brimming on her lashes. She takes a deep, shuddering breath and looks up, then back at Khloe. She squeezes the SL's hand, an expression of gratitude. But no sale. "No," she whispers. "It's totally not okay. But we'll live through this." That much she accepts, and it's probably what was meant. So she nods, and squeezes Khloe's hand again. "We'll live through this."

Constin hikes himself up out of the stony pit shoulders stirring with deeply drawn breath and sweat heavy on his skin. He regards the Devlins, and Khloe who stand near, nodding once, mutely, before turning his eye to the pyre. "If anybody's got words. Figure now's the time." Belatedly, he looks around for the shovel.

While Tisiphone's body burns, from the back of the crowd comes — her executor? Her administrator? Her brother? Something like that; all three, perhaps. Tyr Bannik steps forward with some of her things in his arms — some old clothes and t-shirts, wrapping inside of them who knows what else of the troubled pilot's. He kneels before her pyre, mouths a prayer, and then tosses the things on top of the flames, committing them, along with her, to what lies beyond.

"Snap out of it, Averies." Sawyer mutters to herself, turning back to the pyre to relieve herself of the burning branch by touching it to a few twisted clutches of dried leaves before likewise finding a place to wedge it as the flames start to really catch and it's too hot to stay too close to the pyre. As if needing some sort of safe harbor, she gravitates towards Wade's side and wordlessly hooks her hand into the crook of his elbow.

Pallas takes a couple more steps back as the fire builds up and the heat radiates. He looks to his left and sees an unusual display of emotion from Khloe; a slight frown crosses his brow. He looks to his right and sees the previously motionless Sawyer. His lip twitches at the sight of her. After Bannik throws in Tisiphone's things, he turns and walks away from the pyre, reassuming his position at the periphery of the funeral.

Cidra is murmuring beneath her breath. In Old Gemenese, if one knows about such things. The elongated vowels and strange, almost serpentine words are definitely not Colonial Standard. The prayers seem more for herself than Tisiphone, the funeral rites done to her by the Ecclesiastical Services before she was laid out here. Her eyes flit to follow Pallas as he walks away. Expression…well, difficult to read, as ever. She falls silent from her muttering as Bannik approaches, offering him the faintest of smiles. Albeit a sad one.

"We'll live through it, together," Khloe murmurs back to Psyche, offering her another hand-squeeze, and then smoothly disengaging from both her and her husband. She watches Pallas retreat to the periphery, and decides now is the time for her to do the same; she doesn't follow his exact trajectory, but ends up near enough to him to whisper something to him.

Wade just keeps looking at the fire, only looking up when he notices that something was thrown there. His attention moves to Bannik for a moment but he says nothing, just moving back to look at the fire. He notices that someone is next to him when he feels something against the crook of his elbow. He looks to his side and finds Sawyer there. The man shows a very brief, very faint to smile there to provide some reassurance and also a small nod. He moves his hand and gently rests it on top of her own for a moment. Moving it down again afterwards.

"The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love…" It's Psyche speaking, low but distinct. Her words have the cadence of a recitation, but lack nothing in immediacy and rawness. "They are gone," she whispers. "They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know…" And she swallows hard, past the intolerably painful lump in her throat. "I know," she says again, "but I do not approve." A deep, trembling breath. Then, aching, almost a plea… "More precious was the light in your eyes… than all the roses in the world."

Sawyer can't really muster a return smile for Wade, but her fingers tighten on his arm in some vague sort of acknowledgement before her eyes go back to the fire and travel further to the gravesite. So much sadness in one place, it's hard not to be overcome by it. Eventually, the reporter lowers her gaze to the tips of her boots that would never pass inspection, and thus by the angle of her face, she disguises her own emotion.

Pallas's only reaction to whatever Khloe whispers in his ear is to reach into his pocket and pull something out. It's held in his sleeve so the object itself can't be seen, but he passes it off to her. Then he shrugs and lights up a cigarette, fading further into the background.

"Fly swift and hard, Tisiphone of the Furies. Your rites were attended, and you bear your obolus to face the gods yourself." It's said soft by Cidra, and it isn't quite a blessing. There's no real comment offered on *what* the gods will make of Money Shot. But there's a note of relief in her tone as she says it. She idly smooths the white folds of her long dress. Not entirely comfortable in the thing. She doesn't weep, not here, but her expression is pensive and somber as she watches the smoke curl up into the Tauron skies. The fire brightening as sunset fades into evening.

Sawyer is going to be here until the last dying embers, and it seems Wade is content to stay at her side through and through. It's going to be a long night, but not as eternal as Tisiphone and Coll are facing.

Psyche watches the pyre for a long, silent while after that, the orange glow flickering off the wet tracks on her cheeks. At length, the turns and takes up a shovel. Tisiphone will go on her way without help from anyone — all on her own, much like in life. Lauren Coll will get by with a little help from her friends. She waits for Constin to toss the first spade of rocky, brittle soil, then joins in the burial detail.

Constin has no fine or recited words for the occasion. Once the pyre is blazing, and the others have said their piece, he bends a sore back to pick up one of the same dulled shovels they'd been abusing since yesterday, and steps toward the heap of earth to the side of the grave. That first awaited spadeful is shovelled in, and apart from the scrape of spade on soil, Constin goes about his work silently.

The pyre burning, Tisiphone's remains and possessions sent to ashes, Cidra steps away from the pyre. To get a shovel and assist with the burial. She does wordlessly, offering a small nod to Constin as she gets to work. Burying by firelight.

Devlin bends to pick up the shovel he put down not so very long ago, brushing hands off on dirty pants. Once Constin has begun the un-digging, he steps up beside Psyche and Cidra to do his part.

Constin returns the brief looks and nod, but focuses his attention on the burial. With four sets of hands, the work is swifter, but still devours nearly a half hour. The marine's pace of work is slow and steady- five years in the Corp hasnt erased the lifetime of labor before it; the sergeant works as though to work for half a day.

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