Location: Hall of Remembrance - BS Solaria
Timeline: MD 15 - 19:30
Oliver cast his eyes across the wall. Hundreds, thousands of faces.
Having been assigned patrol duty through this particular section of the ship meant walking past the Hall of Remembrance every other day, and each time he'd quickly glance to see if any of the faces were ones he'd recognise. None so far, but then he never had the chance to give it a proper look until now, whilst off-duty.
He took a deep breath in, stared ahead. The sea of photos stretched so far both directions, and on both sides of the corridor, that it was impossible to know where to start. He saw several other crew members nearby, also studying the vast collage for any familiarity, clinging onto hope.
"It's harder to stomach when duty doesn't compel you," Lieutenant Niamh O'Donoghue, the fleet resident psychiatrist, greeted knowingly from just over his shoulder. She'd been spending a couple of hours a day down here, providing support to the Battlestar's vast population of grieving service members.
"I've yet to add a picture of my own," she carried on. "I don't want them to get lost in a sea of memories," she explained.
Oliver looked at the lady speaking to him. Petite, dark hair, soft features. He hadn't quite noticed the rank pinned on her collar initially, but straightened up slightly when he did, despite being off duty in a loose tee and snug jeans. "Who've you lost, sir?" he asked quietly.
Niamh smiled, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. "Everyone, just like almost everyone else," she admitted, her voice catching in her throat momentarily. "What about you? Are you looking for anyone in particular?" she asked after a beat, taking the moment to compose herself.
"Umm, yeah actually..." he said, pulling out a small photo from his pocket, holding it with both hands as if shielding it from an invisible wind that might blow it off of him. "Boyfriend. He was on Scorpia Yards when the attack occurred. So I don't think he would've made it out..." He looked back up at her. "Who're you gonna add on the wall?"
"I added my mother and sister last week," she told him as she pointed to the picture of two smiling women, a photo taken by Niamh the day she had gone for a celebratory meal to congratulate Niamh's PsyD. She almost regretted taking her shore leave off-world, she might have been able to say goodbye.
"You?" she asked.
He was hesitant to bring it anywhere near the wall, for it was the only photo he had of Jamie with him. But he angled it slightly so that she could see - both of them cheek to cheek and wide smiles, a selfie taken at one of the beaches on Coorabie Island. "It's the only one I have of us," he explained. "This was about four months ago. We were planning to make a second trip there."
Niamh smiled solemnly, her gaze fixed on the familiar looking man besides Oliver in the photo. She'd seen him somewhere, but couldn't quite place him. "You make a handsome couple. What is he called?" she asked, hoping a name would jog her memory.
It was difficult for him to say without feeling emotional. "His name's Jamie."
Niamh frowned, lost in thought. She recalled the night the CMO had tried to coral the most qualified members of the department at what he had hoped was going to be a meal, but they all ended up parting ways after the business was dealt with - not a single person eager to stop working towards survival.
"His last name wouldn't happen to be Perth? Specialist rate?" she asked, her breath was bated as she awaited a response. Could they have good news?
The young Marine froze, the way it felt like his heart had stopped. "Wait, what?" he asked, almost in a stammer. "Perth, you said?" He hadn't heard incorrectly - she did say Perth.
He suddenly felt an overwhelming sensation build up in his chest. Elation mixed with anxiety and a tense apprehension, enough to stop his breath as his mind struggled to keep up with all the questions that felt urged to ask. But all was interrupted by the blaring klaxon from overhead.
"Action stations, action stations! Condition one throughout the fleet. This is not a drill. Action stations, action stations. Condition one throughout the fleet."
For a moment Oliver was torn. Torn between darting off to Sickbay to find Jamie - as it was unlikely he'd be anywhere else on this ship during shift hours - and to report to action stations as commanded by the intercom system above.
"I..." he seemed to stutter. "I gotta go."
Niamh herself grew tense upon hearing the warning. O'Hare would expect her to join the medical staff in Sickbay, if not only for formalities. She nodded in agreement with the marine's decision. "When things have settled down, head immediately to the Sickbay. Jamie will be grateful, to say the least, Corporal," she ordered with a smile.
With everyone being so worked off of their feet, it was the only way she could assure the reunion would be dealt with promptly.
Oliver looked back briefly as she spoke. "Sickbay," he mumbled. "Thanks." And he disappeared, down the corridor, around the corner and into the crowd of crew members rushing to their stations.
Lt Niamh O'Donoghue
Cpl Oliver Haskell
Colonial Fleet Marines