Challenge #02011-E187: Wrecked

in fiction •  9 months ago

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Seeing as humans as tasked with mainly with protecting and defending a ship, regardless of their occupation and other roles they serve, how do the humans and their crew react when their ship is attacked? And if (when?) they fail?
How do humans cope with loss and failure when their more squishy Havenworlder friends need comforting the most? -- Anon Guest

The Sylph had learned what the Human phrase, "You go ahead, I'll catch up," really meant. And had had to use heavy moving equipment to literally drag their humans out of the fray. Many of them were missing limbs. A few were being kept in a medical coma by their livesuits until they reached a more sturdy level of care.

There were a lot less of them than the original forty.

Theril counted them again. Twelve. It would be twelve when she counted them again, and no amount of wishing could make it any more than twelve. Three in comas. Eight badly wounded. Only one was whole, and then only on the outside. They had collectively rescues seventy-five Sylph out of the crew of one hundred. An amazing success rate considering that this was a surprise Vorax attack on an unarmed science vessel. Human Jes, the one whole Human of the survivors, seemingly didn't view this as a success.

"I had them in my hands," ze kept repeating. "I had them in my hands, and then the airlock blew. I had them right in my hands..." Ze had been found adrift and unconscious in the debris. Hir livesuit had worked, slamming hir faceplate closed and supplying hir with air. The four crewmen in hir arms had not been so lucky. "I had them in my hands..."

Theril, still riding the buzz of her anti-stress meds, moved to try and comfort the Human. "You still had them in your hands when we found you. You did your best. We had to use tools to make you let them go."

Human Jes didn't quite look at Theril. Those eyes were seeing the last moments before the disaster. Over and over. "I had them right in my hands. I was nearly there. And then the airlock blew."

"And so did the transport on the other side," insisted Theril. "There was nothing more you could have done."

"I had them in my hands..."

"Yes," said Theril. Lost for anything else to say. "You did. You did not let go."

"I had them in my hands, and then the airlock blew."

Theril spread her body, livesuit encased though both of them were, over Human Jes'. For what thin comfort could give. "You did your best. We could not expect more."

"I had them in my hands..."

Another Human, their nameplate obscured by a scorch mark, sang on open comms. "Would you know my name/ If I saw you in heaven..."

Two more took it up, "Would it be the same..."

Human Jes' lips were moving, but no sound emerged. Liquid began to flow from hir eyes, quickly scooped up by automatic processes in hir suit. Ze moved, now, very slowly, to hold onto Theril.

They were lost. Wounded. A long way from safety. And all they had was each other. Fortunately, Humans were very used to making do.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Ig0rZh]

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