I had something else I wanted to record today but what happened this evening has blown it clear out of my head. I don't know even where to start with this, but I'll try.
The captain died today.
No, I'm getting ahead of myself.
It started as just a routine assignment. Not that we really get told what we're doing, after all, we're just the living pieces of the Dodixie Chick's machinery making sure it works the way the captain needs it to. Captain's the one who has to worry about what's going on outside. I always thought I lucked out when I signed on here, though, to be honest, he's fair, pays well, we get time off, and if there's anything we'll need to keep an eye out for, we're told before the ship ever undocks.
I think it was Serps we were engaging this time; we got in a bunch of kinetic and thermal hardeners to install this morning. Can't see outside the ship when you're crawling around its guts, after all. I think it was going well, no alerts or nothing, a bit of turret overheat Gaz and I were called up to deal with. Then everything went to hell.
Something happened, a sudden change in momentum that threw everyone off their feet. Arti-grav and gyro-comps only cover so much, and we must have been going pretty fast. I smacked my head off a console when I went down, Ling fell off the service catwalk and broke her arm. Something ruptured amidships, I remember the alarms doing off, so loud I couldn't half hear myself think. And then all the lights went red.
We train for that, the evacuation orders. Regular maintenance on the escape pods and all that, and we have regular drills. But I'd never before had to actually evac in the middle of a fight. You don't waste time to think, or ask questions. I just hauled Ling up by her good arm and hiked her over to the nearest pod bay, both of us dripping blood everywhere. Ciaran got there the same time and between the two of us we got Ling into a seat and strapped her arm out of the way before hitting the eject button. I got to meet the floor for the second time in five minutes, but by that point I didn't give a flying fuck.
Escape capsules give all crew members immediate access to the Local comms channel so we can get in touch with retrieval crews. As soon as our pod launched, the air filled with an argument between the captain and several other capsuleers. From what I gathered, while Ciaran slapped a mediplast over the gash in my head, they'd got the drop on us while the captain was finishing off a Serp patrol, and wanted money in exchange for letting us go.
The captain refused. They finished off the Dodixie Chick, her beautiful chromed hull evaporating in a cloud of burning shrapnel that shook our tiny escape pod, then snared the captain's own escape pod.
We heard his scream as they destroyed it.
We were sitting there for maybe an hour before the rescue crews arrived to fetch us. We were just... numb. We're just crew-members, we fix things that can't be repaired otherwise and keep the captain's interface running. He's supposed to be an immortal demi-god, untouchable and powerful beyond measure, but to hear that...
When we finally returned home in the care of InterBus, the captain was waiting in the assembly hall. He looked the same as before, though his skin looked a little too smooth, too perfect. I supposed that was the effect of being cloned back to life. The look in his eyes, though... The last time I saw that look, it was on Muri after he lost his family in the pirate raid. The realisation that he's not invincible and that something has been taken away that he'll never get back.
I can't even imagine what it must be like to have your self burned out of your head and injected into a new body like that. In that moment, while he debriefed us and spoke of future plans to replace the Dodixie Chick, the captain looked as vulnerable and human as the rest of us.
I'll never forget that.