Little Girl, Lost
By Crystal Wimmer
Author's note: This story is a little darker than most of what I write, but I was thinking that in the first days following the destruction of their world, not all of the survivors would be busy saving the rest of the fleet. Some of them might just be trying to survive — or decide if they even wanted to do so. If you've ever lost someone close to you, then you cannot even imagine the pain of losing everyone close to you. And yet, they did
For all the dangers of living in space, and the specific difficulties of living on a Battlestar, there were remarkably few practical ways for a girl to kill herself. The thought was nearly as depressing as realizing that she would have to either live, or get really creative. She wasn't feeling all that creative at the moment.
Crewman Specialist Margaret Cally wasn't a warrior. She didn't have a sidearm, and she didn't own a knife. She had a couple of tools that might do the job, but they would be both messy and painful. She had never liked medication, so that wasn't a viable option either. She didn't have enough of anything to do more than make her sick and send her to the infirmary to face a lot of questions that she didn't want to answer. There was always the vacuum of space, but even that wasn't practical. If she tried that route she would likely take someone with her, and there had been enough involuntary deaths in the last forty-eight hours to fill the next ten lifetimes. So barring another attack, it appeared that she was going to have to live.
Cally turned over in her bed and tried to get comfortable in the dead silence of her quarters. This particular enlisted quarters had been home to fifty people as recently as two days ago. There were only nine of them left. The rest had burned, or been ejected into space, or had died as a result of falling equipment or aircraft. In this room alone, there were forty-one empty beds. In the other three quarters that matched it, there were ninety-six more. One hundred twenty-six people that she had worked with were now gone, and many more throughout the crew. They had lost over a hundred and fifty pilots, and no telling how many miscellaneous other officers and enlisted men. The Galactica had been hard-hit by the Cylons, and yet she was still here. Cally wasn't counting herself lucky to be among the survivors.
At the funeral, Commander Adama had asked them if the dead were the lucky ones, and Cally couldn't find it in her to disagree with that statement. Dying couldn't have been any harder than dragging the bodies of her friends through the passageways and seeing the faces of those who remained. They were all scrambling to clean up the mess from the attacks, to repair the Galactica and her fighters, and they had to do so with three-quarters of their deck crews dead. It wasn't an easy task. No one was really talking, and no one had a clue how they were going to manage. They just did as they were told, and worked where they were assigned until they were given permission to eat or sleep. There hadn't been many breaks for that, either.
She was tired. More than just being tired, her heart hurt. She felt horribly alone, and it was from more than the hundreds of anonymous deaths on board and the billions of deaths in the colonies. Over and above all that, Cally had lost her best friend. Literally.
Andrew Prosna had been three years younger than she was. He had only been eighteen, and straight out of high school when he'd joined up. Cally had spent a couple of years on Caprica before giving in and enlisting with hopes for a better future than working with wrecking crews as she had done for the three years following her own graduation. She and Prosna had met in basic, and had been friends from the outset. It had been that friendship which had influenced their choice of the same tech school, and then they had been lucky enough to be stationed together on the Galactia. Or maybe they hadn't been so lucky after all.
They had been pretty much best friends since basic. They had done everything together from mopping decks to double dates. Part of the crew thought they were an item, but it hadn't been true. If anything, Prosna had been setting his sights for Dualla. He had even dated the Petty Officer Second a couple of times, and they'd gotten along well. Poor Prosna had fallen so hard for her that he'd been a mess. Cally had loved teasing him about it. Prosna had been such a kid in a lot of ways. On the other hand, Dee wasn't much older.
Cally hadn't had a chance to get with Dee since all of this had started. She'd been mostly stuck below decks, while Dee was in CIC. Not that it really mattered, anyway. Dee had to know that Prosna was gone by now, and he was really the only link between them. Now that he was gone, she really had no reason to keep in touch with her.
She didn't have a lot of reason for anything.
A glance at her watch told her that she was due for duty in only two hours. They were on odd shifts, doubles and triples depending on where you worked. Cally had doubles because Vipers required some level of alertness, but she thought Socinus had been put on triples. He wasn't all that adept with quick maintenance, so the Chief had a tendency to keep him out of them when possible. Now she didn't know how the Chief could excuse any of them from anything. There was too much to be done, and not nearly enough people to do it. Heck, he even had the pilots working on their own birds, and he despised letting the fliers work on his babies.
But work they did. And work. And work. Even now, finally in bed after nearly thirty hours awake, she couldn't wind down enough to sleep. She needed to get it done, though. She had to get some rest, or she'd be useless to the Chief when she reported back in — she glanced at her watch — four hours. Not that four hours would make all that much difference, but it was four more than many others had been given.
After another twenty minutes, during which she checked her watch no less than ten times, Cally finally eased herself out of her bed and slipped on her boots. She had showered before lying down, and had on a clean uniform because there was no telling from where the next attack might come. There hadn't been many crewman caught in their underwear during the initial attack, but there had been a few. She didn't plan to ever be one of them.
Once she'd tied her boots, she walked as quietly as possible towards the hatch leading to the main Galactica corridor. Just before reaching it, she heard a soft and muffled sound. Someone was crying. Moving a little closer, she realized it was Tricia. She had been on deck crew six, as opposed to deck crew four which had been home to Cally, Socinus, and Prosna. Cally thought of trying to offer comfort, but there just wasn't any. She couldn't give someone else a reason to quit crying when she couldn't find one for herself.
Once in the main corridor, Cally felt lost and more alone than she'd ever been. Rather than the bustling activity that this area usually held, there was no one out. The few people who weren't working were sleeping, or trying to. There was no one walking the halls. No one looking for a place to be. She just felt like she wasn't even really there. She felt nothing as she walked the familiar path to the port hangars. It was like she was watching someone else do it.
As she eased onto the upper level of the hangar, she watched a flurry of activity below. They were still trying to get the mess cleaned up from the fire. She was glad she hadn't pulled that duty. There was nothing down that corridor that she wanted to see. She'd spent enough time there, some of it working and some of it screaming. She'd at least been one of the ones who had put on her gear when the fire had begun to decompress compartments. It was standard procedure, but it was bulky as hell. That was the reason so many of the others hadn't bothered. The survival suits could keep out the heat of a fire or the cold of space, but they were nearly impossible to move in. Prosna had always hated the things, but even he had donned the suit after the first decompression. He hadn't put on his helmet, though.
God, why hadn't he put on his helmet?
Shaking her head to try to get those thoughts — those ghosts — out of her mind, she began moving again. She seemed to gain at least some peace from movement. She walked the length of the gangway, past the doors leading into launch control and down towards the tubes. She didn't really realize that she had a destination in mind until she finally got there. Descending the stairway at the end of the gangway, she eased herself over the small ledge that separated tube from bay, and walked a few feet into the cylindrical tunnel.
It was quiet here, and peaceful, and clean. That sounded silly, even to her, but it was nice to see someplace clean. The bays were filled with soot and grime and even blood, but here in the tube there had been nothing but clean Vipers and solid walls. It was far enough from the bay that the noise was muffled, but close enough that she could hear something. It wasn't as total as the silence in the sleeping quarters had been. Here, there was at least the suggestion of life.
The tube reminded her of her home back on Caprica. When she'd been young, she'd snuck out back behind the house and into the woods that surrounded her housing development. She had explored the woods constantly as a child, getting into trouble more than once for coming home late for dinner or not getting chores done. But it had been worth it to just enjoy the calm of the greenery around her, and the small caves that were carved out of the hillsides. She'd had one place in particular, a cave that had a stream running across its opening, where she had spent a lot of time sitting and just thinking. She hadn't had a lot of friends to play with, and no siblings, so she had made up her own little world in that cave. It had been her safety net; her comfort.
It wasn't that home life had been bad, because it hadn't. Her parents had been average class citizens, and she'd had both of them until she'd turned sixteen. Her mother had died of heart failure, and "Little Meggie" had become her daddy's shadow. That had been when she'd started working on machinery and aircraft. It was what her dad did, so it was what she learned. Unfortunately, mechanics weren't in short supply. Once she'd graduated, the only place she could find work was with one of the Caprican wreckers. She hadn't minded the huge aircraft, but they hadn't been much of a challenge. Most of the breakdowns were simple wear due to age or failure to adhere to weight regulations, so fixing things was a simple matter.
After three years of it, she'd asked her dad about the Colonial Service. Lords, he'd been so proud. When she'd enlisted, he had told everyone he knew that she was now a warrior. In truth, she hadn't been doing much more than she'd done before, but at least she was doing it in a uniform, and the aircraft and spacecraft were a challenge. Her dad had been thrilled.
Her dad was gone now. Maybe he was with her mother, she thought with a slight flutter of pleasure. Maybe they were finally together, as they were meant to be. Maybe soon Cally would join them. She didn't know. She couldn't even care. Lords, she was tired.
Cally took a seat on the floor of the tube with her back against the wall and her knees pulled up to her chest. She laid her head on her knees and just tried to think of anything besides what she'd lost. What everyone had lost. Why did it have to hurt so much?
She looked up quickly to see the last person she really wanted to deal with. Chief Tyrol was great — he really was — but he didn't have a lot of patience for blubbering. He was the type to get things done and not worry about what he was feeling. The few times he'd looked a little down, he had assured her that he was fine, and then told her to get back to work. She had gone back to work.
"Yes, Sir?" she said softly. Her voice didn't sound right. She hadn't realized that she'd been crying. Damn.
"What are you doing down here?" he asked as he came over to sit next to her on the floor of the tube. She was horribly embarrassed that she was crying, but even more mortified that he was here. He was one of the best supervisors she'd ever had, and she hated that she was letting him down.
"Just resting," she finally said as she swiped away tears on one sleeve. "I'm not on duty."
"You should be sleeping," he admonished her gently. His kindness almost set off another bout of tears.
"I tried, but I couldn't," she told him.
"I can understand that," he said. "I don't even want to think about trying to sleep with all that needs to be done."
"Yeah," she muttered. But she wasn't getting things done. She was sulking like a child.
"If you can't sleep, would you like to work," he offered. "You don't have to; I know you're off. But it might make the time pass until you're tired enough to drop. I know that's what I'm doing."
She smiled at his admission that this wasn't any easier on him than on anyone else. But the Chief had always been the first to work and the last to stop. It was one reason that his teams didn't question his orders, and didn't fear his help. He was one of the good guys.
"I could work," she finally said with a shrug. "May as well."
He nodded, then reached over and took her hand. She looked up at him, surprised to see that he looked almost embarrassed for some reason. "I wanted to tell you I'm sorry," he said gently. "About Prosna. He was a good man, and he'll be missed."
Her throat tightened, but she just nodded.
"We lost a lot of the team," he added, but he wasn't looking at her now. He was staring down the length of the darkened launch tube. "But we still have to get it done. They died so that we could get it done." When he turned back to her, his eyes looked very shiny, but he wasn't crying. "Do you understand?"
"We have to make them proud," she answered softly. "Make it worth it."
"That a girl," he told her with a gentle squeeze to her hand before he released it. "We'll get through this." With that, he moved to stand.
"It'll never be worth it," she told him in a broken voice. She hadn't meant to let it slip, but it did.
When he turned back, he wasn't angry, but his expression was sadder than it had been before. "No, it won't ever be worth it," he agreed. "But it's all we can do."
She nodded, and took the hand he offered to help her up. She wrapped her arms around herself, around a body that suddenly seemed very cold, and very small, and very tired.
"Do you think you can replace the gimbals in one of the sevens?"
She nodded almost absently. "Yes, Sir."
Finally he smiled. It wasn't a real one — not like when he was joking around with Prosna and Socinus, or when he was watching Lieutenant Valerii from across the bay — but it was better than she could do. "Thanks. It would help."
She nodded, but she doubted seriously that one more mechanic fixing one more ship would help much of anything. Still, he was her supervisor, and he'd asked her to do something. She would do what she was told, for as long as she could, or until she was relieved to sleep or eat. In all honesty, the work sounded better than the alternatives.