61,200 seconds

Started by Devon McKinney, September 18, 2019, 04:01:24 am

Devon McKinney

After the Universe Battle, she spent 17 hours waiting for rescue.  That was 1020 minutes.  Or 61,200 seconds.  Might have been a million years.  It was all the same to her.  The sound of the ship itself.  Alarm claxons bellowing, the death knell of the Reliant itself.  They went on and on and on.  In the background the sounds of the wounded and dying alike.  Cries of pain and screams for help.  Her ship had been grappled by a Reaver ship.  Grappled and boarded.  It had been her and the Commander in the cockpit.  He'd been wounded, though not grievously so.  She'd been hurt, her shoulder dislocated.  The Commander had locked and sealed the door to the cockpit when he realized they were going to be overrun.  He'd helped her hide behind the panel in front of the pilot's chair. It was an impossibly small space, especially for someone Devon's height and with a dislocated shoulder as well, but he sealed her in.  She didn't want to leave him to fight alone, but he'd insisted, instructing her not to come out, no matter what she heard or saw. 

Eventually Alliance troops came to the rescue.  They cleared the Reliant with fire.  And 17 hours after it started, they found what was left of the Commander, still alive and twitching in the cockpit of the Reliant, along with the Reavers who had turned him into the bloody, mewling mass of flesh.  They didn't find the silent woman hidden behind the console panel. She never made a sound. Her voice had been stolen clean away. She didn't make a sound when her rescuers came, nor when they killed the Reavers in the cockpit and scoured clean the atrocities that happened there with cleansing fire. The Alliance rescue troop walked out of the cockpit with the Commander on a stretcher and she never made a sound then either.  It would have been a kindness if they'd have scourged him with fire too.  It wasn't until 20 minutes later that they let a nearly hysterical pilot aboard the rescue ship. She was found pounding on the sealed door with her good arm, mostly uninjured but hardly unharmed, tattered uniform still smoking and her once luxurious hair partially burned away.  The Reliant was detonated by Alliance ordinance and the two survivors were heavily medicated. 

The commander died two days later.  Most people said it was a mercy and one kind-hearted nurse knew what she'd done had been a blessing to what was left of the man.  The pilot had her dislocated shoulder and minor burns treated and received 6 months on a locked ward.  Eventually she was released on medication, given an honorable discharge and a decent pension.

After that she tried to go home.  Thought perhaps she would find solace with her family.  Instead she found the ghosts of her brothers who never made it home from the war and the resentment from her mother that she had. The meds she had been sent home with did nothing to make it easier.  Her mother would come to wake her in the morning, only to find the bed unslept in and Devon curled tightly in a closet or travel trunk.  The resentment grew and Devon tried living away from people, but she just grew a bit wilder and feral and that just made her family worry more.  After a visit from her youngest brother Bradley, it was decided she needed to walk the world a while.

Her pilot's license was in good order as well as her honorable discharge.  She made enough money from the pension she didn't really have to work, but since she hadn't found a place where she could find peace, she left again with just a backpack carrying all she owned. And she kept moving, always moving, haunted by the 61,200 seconds she waited for rescue and the things she can't unsee.

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