(Oct. 31) As soon as Brodin could stand after the explosion, he did so, and felt the icy tendrils of shock creeping into his mind. Where the building had once stood was now only a small pile of dust with pieces of rubble, and a cloud of smoke in the air. People in the surrounding area were panicking, screaming, running away, while a few curious passersby were doing the exact opposite, gathering around the site of the explosion. "Mia," Brodin whispered as he stared at the site of the explosion, stumbling over the name. Someone brushed past him but he didn't notice them. "Mia!" he yelled in desperation, trying to be heard over the crowd. He thumbed almost frenziedly at the comlink he'd had open to Mia's frequency but all he got back was static. A few flames still licked at what was left, but only a cornerstone or two of the original structure had remained. Panic squeezed at his heart and he ran to the ruined building in a daze, yelling Mia's name over and over, pushing people out of his way. Ryatt, one of his best friends and his first officer, was right beside him. The heat and the smoke rose from the remains, settling over them like death. That's when Brodin saw the remnants of a crackling comlink. It was the kind Mia kept on her belt and the one she'd been using to keep in touch with him while she tried to disarm the bomb. "Oh, Harbisyn, no," he breathed. The two of them stood there in silent shock. "No," Brodin protested weakly, his face contorting in grief as he ran a hand over his face. He couldn't breathe and couldn't cry, either, although his emotions were screaming at him. Denial, pain, shock, grief, anger, loss. "They're not sure how many were left in there. Not more than a few, but. . . ." Toshia trailed off as she exited the crowd, finally seeing the remains with her own eyes. She drew in a sharp intake of breath. "I'm sure she got out. Mia always does." The two men just stared at her with grief written all over their features. "You saw her with your own eyes, Toshia," Brodin said in a shaky yet hard voice. "She was upstairs when it went off." He shuddered. He had seen his cousin die. Impossible! Yet he had seen it. The commotion in the crowd behind them was growing, as were the number of people in the crowd. "She can't be gone," Brodin said, grief taking over. "She was just -- right here," he protested. No one dared say what they all truly thought. It was surreal. She would come back to the ship, she would bounce back, just like she always did. "We all saw her, Brodin," Ryatt said sympathetically, full of pain himself. "Please, no," Brodin said as hot tears formed. He sank to his knees on the ground. "Please, anything but this!" he said in desperation. "She's still here, she's got to be here! Tell me she's still alive!" He still stared at her crackling comlink, and then he saw a piece chipped off of her blaster lying a few feet away from the barely recognizable comlink. The pain ripped at him and he sank to his knees. Not real. This wasn't, couldn't be real. "I can't believe it! I won't!" he hissed. Nothing could be as bad as this. Nothing. His parents. Her parents. And now her. "Mia," he sobbed, "please, don't do this. Please don't leave me here!" He felt a hand on his shoulder, comforting him as his tears fell onto the smoky ground. After a few moments, a hand was placed on his other shoulder and he was helped up. He shook off their hands. "She's still here, she's alive somewhere," he insisted. "Brodin," Ryatt quietly stated, "she's gone." "No!" Brodin yelled. "She's not! She was right here. . ." He stumbled back and they caught him again. Telros was there helping as well, he knew somehow. "Let's get you back to the ship," Ryatt said quietly. "Yes, the ship. She must have gone back to the ship," Brodin said, half-rambling. "Or we can scan for her lifesigns. I know she's still here." He didn't need to look around at the three crewmembers to know they knew he was only trying to convince himself.
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