15 hours since the loss of the Twelve Colonies.
Less than a day, but to Jamie it felt like it had been a long while since he was last on the Raptor, flying in the skies over Argentum. The sudden change in his life had been, and continues to be, difficult to accept. He was now effectively on full active duty, on an unfamiliar ship – the first battlestar he has ever set foot on – and expected to perform to his best with a completely new crew.
Putting on that tough military facade well ahead of his true thoughts and emotions wasn’t easy. As a reservist, it was something he only had to perform several months out of each year. Losing every facet of his civilian life meant filling that vacuum with a military commitment, and the constant, simmering self-doubt of his ability to cope with such a drastic change was unhelpful.
He’d been on his way back from Sickbay after meeting the CMO when he came across a section of corridor that was different to every other. Entire walls on either side, covered with many hundreds of photos. Static snapshots of lives captured on film. Families, friends, loved ones. Jamie couldn’t be sure whether it was a makeshift memorial or a massive missing persons board, before realising that it was both. Candles, several stuffed toys, and letters bidding both farewell and clinging onto hopes of reuniting with lost ones.
He heard someone walk by, stopping to also look at the walls. An officer in uniform, rank of Ensign pinned on his collar. They stood in silence together, yet apart in their thoughts as they scanned over the walls, each searching for people they would’ve called their own.
Jamie broke the silence. “Sir,” he nodded subtly.
Ryan had only just arrived on the Solaris after a hard flight and was beat to say the least. He had had barely any time to process what was happening before being assigned to a temporary unit and new orders. In the short time he had between flights he had decided to clear his head, ending up wandering to the present location. The photos of missing and loved ones whom were presumed dead had given him pause. His father was only person whom he had left in his life and he had most likely perished in the attack. For the first time in his life, he as glad that neither his brother nor his mother had been alive to see the fall of all they loved. The acknowledgment from the corpsman had pulled Ryan out of his reverie.
He turned to study the young man, noticing the Specialist pin. “Specialist,” Ryan said lightly. “Looking for someone?” Ryan asked, inclining his head to the wall of photos.
Jamie nodded solemnly. “Yeah…” His eyes ran over the many faces on the wall – catching several that seemed familiar, but on closer inspection were strangers, although that didn’t make their potential loss any less tragic. He slowly pulled out a small wallet from his pocket, opening it to produce a small picture he’d kept of Oliver. A photo of both of them, smiling, during their last holiday together on Virgon. Just seeing it brought memories, and along came with it the pain. “You haven’t seen someone who looks like him, I suppose?”
Ryan took a moment to look at the photo, before shaking his head. “No, I haven’t, but I haven’t been here long.” Ryan replied. This whole thing felt surreal, almost like a dream. Ryan wished he could put up a photo of someone, of anyone, but all those items had been on the Acheron when it was destroyed. All he had with him was what he was wearing and a small personal kit, which mainly consisted of a change of clothes and some toiletries. “Someone close to you? Was he in the Fleet or dirt side?” He asked, just glad to have someone to converse with.
Jamie angled the photo somewhat in his hand, hesitating as he considered whether to put the one and only photo he had of Oliver up on the wall. It felt like a hopeless exercise, and that thought simply compounded the sense of loss. “Boyfriend,” he replied, giving a mild chuckle, as if recalling happier times. “He’s a Marine. Was a Marine. He’s spent most of his time on the ground, rather than on a ship.”
Ryan nodded, studying the sense of loss on the corpsman’s face. He couldn’t help but feel for the corpsman, and briefly wondered if he should have him talk to one priests. He quickly pushed that idea out of the way, they were sure to be swamped with requests, as well as trying to get a handle themselves. Sometimes just remembering and talking about loved ones could help the grieving process, it had for him. “A Marine, huh? How long have you been together?”
“Oh, only a year, really. We met on Picon. I was on a two-week mission there with my reserve unit, doing a joint training exercise with them. We kept in touch after I left.”
“Ah, I see,” Ryan said, before looking back to the photo wall. “How long have you been in?”
“With the Reserves? Since I was 18. Joined to help with university tuition.” It took Jamie a while to make the decision to keep the photo. He didn’t think he could give up the only photo he had of them together. He’d have to make a copy if it were to go up on the wall. “How about you, sir?” he asked. “Who’re you looking for?”
Ryan could only shake his head. “No one really,” he started. “Most my family passed away years ago. I was assigned to the Acheron before she was destroyed, and was able to make it here with some of the others. Apart from a briefing in a little bit, I don’t really have anyplace to be at present, so I ended up here.” He said with a sad smile.
Jamie looked down on the floor for a moment. “Sorry to hear about your family, sir.” He knew of the pain of such loss, with his mother having passed away from cancer quite a while back now. A pain that was now resurfacing again.
He looked up at the many photos ahead of him, then slowly turned towards Ryan, “Do you… do you think humanity will pull through this… holocaust?”
“Yes. Our species is nothing if but resilient,” Ryan said without missing a beat, his voice full of confidence. “And with a little luck we give the toasters twice they gave us.”
Jamie was perhaps more of a realist, or in other terms less of an optimist. There was some hope left in him, but considering the scale of destruction the Cylons have laid on the Colonies, it was difficult to feel positive. If the machines could take out all twelve planets, what could stop them from taking out the remnants of humanity scattered across the systems?
But instead of voicing such thoughts, he simply said, “I hope so.” The faces of the dead and missing on the wall could easily be a beacon of encouragement to some, while also an expression of utter defeat. Jamie couldn’t quite figure out which way he felt.
“I should… probably head off,” he said, downcast. But before making the move to depart, he gingerly extended a hand. “Jamie Perth. Good to meet your, sir.”
Ryan clasped the offered hand. “Ryan Kelpor, and a pleasure as well.”
“I’ll see you around, sir,” Jamie said after their handshake, before leaving.