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The Small Things

Posted on 20 Jan 2016 @ 11:52am by Warrant Officer William Griffin
Edited on on 19 Mar 2018 @ 1:09am

Mission: Rude Awakening
Location: Deck 8, Fighter Maintenance Hangar
Timeline: Concurrent with Repairs and Upkeep

There had been three fighters damaged in the combat with the O'Carrol, all of which had been moved from the main fighter bay to the dedicated maintenance hanger. The three birds were parked in a row in the center of the hanger, surrounded by the maintenance frames which allowed the mechanics and specialists to get to all the surfaces, internal compartments and systems.

Griffin had already written off one of the birds; the structural frame was twisted and the reactor had dumped it's coolant all over the housing before auto-ejecting, which further messed up the guts of the thing. He had some crewmen working on stripping all the salvageable parts off it before the rest was recycled. Waste not, want not.

He was standing on the frame surrounding the left fighter, frowning down into the remains of the cockpit. The inside was a mess; shrapnel from an explosion above and to the left of the cockpit had penetrated the armored shell, it had ripped jagged holes in the canopy, through the bottom and back of the pilot's chair, to the extreme misfortune of the pilot, and ended up embedded in the hull.

The inside of the cockpit was spray painted with arterial blood and half-exploded with sudden decompression. He'd seen it before, the blood and... fragments, which he was careful not to look very closely at, and while it didn't turn his stomach as it had in the past, it wasn't exactly enjoyable. He knew what he had to do, and the first step of that was cleaning up the blood and bits the aforementioned extremely unfortunate and now exceptionally dead pilot had left behind. Outwardly he didn't let anything show aside from his perennial frown. Yet, he couldn't seem to get started; he was standing there staring at the bloody mess with very little but the competing impulses to curse loudly or punch something going round and round in his brain.

"God damn..." Griffin growled to himself, choking off the dozen other words of a similar nature that wanted to trip off his tongue. But even those two small words were enough of an allowance to the building pressure he was feeling to allow action, and he finally lifted the portable matter dematerializer and hit the on switch. The device, as the name suggested, dematerialized biological matter and whisked it away into a connected tank where it was converted into base proteins. Essentially it was half of a replicator with a nozzle.

Gradually the blood and bits of pilot were removed, leaving behind the smashed remains of the cockpit. Oddly, it wasn't the removal of the sight, but the the coppery, throat-choking smell of blood that made Griffin start to feel better. He let the switch go and took a moment to himself, putting the nozzle of the dematerializer back in it's self sterilizing housing and then walking away for a bit.

He made his way to the small office he had made and shut the door firmly behind him. He went to his desk and from a drawer on the left, pulled out a wooden covered box. Inside, he kept his small stash of real, non-replicated cigars. He had attached a miniaturized climate control circuit from a medical stasis unit which kept a relative humidity level of 70%, and a temperature of 64°F inside the box, so the cigars, despite being a few years old, were perfectly fresh.

he sat himself down on his ugly metal chair, leaning back and crossing his ankles. From the box, he pulled a half-smoked cigar. Ideally, he preferred to smoke fresh cigars whole, once they had been lit and stubbed they were never quite as good, but there wasn't always time, as it was now. He lit the half cigar with a traditional match from a small store, also kept in his drawer. For a short moment, he waited with baited breath for the disaster, but then he had dampened the fire sensors inside the small room to avoid such a problem, from bitter experience.

For a moment, he contemplated having a drink with his cigar, a nice smoky malt or a fruity bourbon, but it was only an impulse and he dismissed the idea almost as soon as it popped into his head. He had watched other people, good people, descend into that particular pit of despair and he had no intention of following them. Instead, he closed his eyes and savored the flavor of the cigar, rolling the smoke around in his mouth and then blowing it out in two jets from his nose. The faint, pleasant nicotine buzz began to settle in his brain and he smiled. Sometimes, it was the small things.

Twenty minutes later, Griffin emerged from his small office from a cloud of flavorful cigar smoke, feeling calmer and ready to continue. The breather helped to steady his hands and his head, and Griffin was able to go back to the fighter without seeing the afterimage of blood and bits. Instead, it was just another damaged fighter. He mentally rolled up his sleeves, picked up his toolkit and got back to work.


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