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Ground zero

Posted on Sat Nov 7th, 2015 @ 10:30am by Civilian Haqtaj Matlh

Mission: Trouble on the frontier
Location: Bla'aru; Gaspar

Arne Penversen surveyed the wreckage of what had once been the administrative building. It had been the epicentre of the colony; the hub for all the colony’s activities. Trade had been carried out there, decisions had been made there, entertainment had been provided there.

Then it became the epicentre of the attack.

Now it was just rubble.

Penversen went back to work shifting that rubble. It was backbreaking work but it had to be done. Somewhere down there, there could still be survivors. They had little by way of sophisticated equipment to shift the rubble so hands had to do the job. They did not have things like high-powered microphones to seek out the noise of movement or breathing so they just had to hope they were digging in the right direction.

And that was all that was left now: hope.

The attack had been two days before. Penversen had been at it most of that time. He’d taken a few short breaks but then forced himself back to the task.

He looked across the tangled pile of reinforced concrete and smiled bleakly at one of the gang he’d been assigned to when he volunteered to help out.

Keren barely noticed the cuts on her hands now, the dust has settled into everything and she was running on...well the humans said something like running on empty and that would have to do. She hadn't realized how close she was to the school until she saw another cardassian working at thr rubble.

TAG an NPC volunteer/s

Marek worked in silence, his mind numb, his hands automatic. He had come here from the school. Someone had managed to pull the tiny broken bodies out of the rubble and take them, one by one, to the makeshift morgue. He had watched it all happen from a mile away, refusing to acknowledge it was his hands that had lifted the rubble and carried the children.

He was one of a small group of Cardasians who had settled on the peninsula. Their children were important to them. And now they were gone. Maybe one in fifty survived the destruction of the school.

Penversen looked up to see a shuttle lifting off. It was taking the first casualties up to a freighter that was waiting in orbit. The MV Tampa had been passing on its run from Dorvan in the Cardassian Union to Ba’ku then on to Trill. When it received the distress call it returned and offered to take on survivors. Its holds were largely empty, having delivered its cargo on Dorvan and picking up little by way of exports from there.

Penversen was thankful for that small mercy.

He had heard that the Tampa would divert to DS12 to deliver the casualties to the medical facility there. “At least,” he said, his eyes still on the shuttle, “they’ll be looked after. Better that than what lies ahead for us.” He pulled at a piece of concrete but the reinforcing snagged on the piece below it. He cursed. “We have food and we have water but we have no government. Things will fall apart quickly if we can’t pull things back together soon.”

Marek joined him, helping him maneuver the piece clear of obstruction. Underneath was a small dark hole. Someone would need to climb inside to look for survivors before they searched further. He didn't feel like talking, but the silence of the hole was deafening, like a mouth into death itself waiting to greet him. Anything was better than diving inside to meet whom death had already claimed.

"Governments collapse," he managed. "It's one of the few things about governments you can rely on."

Keren was still too far away to hear their conversation but she could guess what was going on well enough. Picking her way carefully through the chaos, she paused every now and then to listen in the hope of hearing someone.

“Factions were fractious enough before this but at least the government kept them at arm’s length. Now the gods alone know what they’ll do.”

Marek flashed him a look. The Cardasians were seen as a faction by many of the others in the colony. An opinion which was not helped by the fact that most of his people had set up a separate area in which other races were not welcomed.

Had. It was gone too now; neither Cardassians or Aliens were able to enter the area.

He breathed deeply, eyes still fixed on the hole, "You're narrower than I."

Penversen could not deny that. He lowered his feet down, feeling for somewhere to place them but there was nothing. He squirmed and twisted until he could lower himself further. When he was waist deep he stopped.

“Fetch a rope. I can’t find the bottom and I’m not going to lower myself in until I know I can get back out again. And get a torch while you’re at it, please. It’s dark down there.”

Marek nodded and moved quickly away. he returned after a few minutes with a length of strong corded rope.

"No torches left," he grunted. "They are using them on the east wing."

Penversen shrugged. It was no more than he’d expected. The East Wing had been especially hard hit so that’s were resources were going. “I’ll have to do this by touch then. Lower me down slowly; I don’t know how far it is to the bottom.”

"Can't go too slowly," Marek replied as he began to lower Penversen. "Odds of survival in wreckage drop of markedly after the third day."

As she got close enough Keren reached out automatically to help with the rope, then stopped not wanting to startle the other Cardassian, wiped back some of her hair which was matted with dust, "Can I help?" Obvious question, with probably an obvious answer.

Marek was focused on the task, sweat on his brow from the strain. Penversen wasn't very heavy, but Marek had been going for hours. He grunted and nodded towards the rope as he made room for her, glad one of his own people was here to help.

"Keep an ear out," he managed, "In case he get's into trouble in there."

He wanted to make some light comment about the fragility of humans, but the dark memories of shattered bodies was waiting to take him and he blinked it away.

Keren just nodded and crouched down to listen, hoping to hear someone and she said without thinking, "Have you found anyone?" She rubbed at one of the cuts on her hand, talking mainly to herself, "A day ago I heard someone crying under a building. What was left of a building anyway." Too many voices had been calling out and she stopped talking, remembering instead.

TAG

"Sorry." Keren turned back to the hole in the ground, wishing she could do more than just wait and then turned back to the other Cardassian, "Keren, the name is Keren. I should have said. Funny how simple politeness is the first to go." Right now at least she was still numb and just doing anything rather than think...

"Marek," he responded. "I saw you at the school. Did you.... someone..." he ran out of words, unable to ask.

"My brother he teaches there -" Keren stopped, unwilling to think that she should be saying 'taught' there, "I'm sure he is ok. I went to talk to him about something ridiculous..." It seemed like forever ago and fortunately she was interrupted before she could say more.

Marek staggered suddenly, as the rope slackened, "He's at the bottom."

Leaning next to Keren he called down in to the opening, "Anything?"

 

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