|Prayers Will Only Get You So Far
||[Feb. 21st, 2006|11:09 am]
I descended from the ladder and helped Sara jump down into the dim tunnel. Sara felt along the wall and found a resin soaked torch, and I gave her a book of hand cut matches. I tossed the revolver to Lionel as he made his way onto the ground. He nodded, and we quickly made our way down the narrow wooden passage. Sara passed me the torch, and I led the three of us in single file, with Sara behind me, and Lionel covering the rear, pistol in hand.
We’d been lightly jogging for less than twenty minutes when the door became visible. I squeezed Sara’s hand reassuringly, and pulled her toward the exit.
I could hear Sara stumbling a little bit as I put on more speed. There was a rustling of fabric, and her steps became smoother. I looked behind me to see that she had pulled up her dress so she could run easier. She gave a weak smile and I turned around again, slowing as we approached the end of the tunnel.
The door was wooden, barely enforced. A rusty hatch and pin was all that kept the rickety thing shut, but it was half-fallen apart nonetheless. I didn’t even have to nod and Lionel had pushed in front of Sara, and backed up against the left wall. I looked at him and he pulled back the hammer on the pistol. Motioning Sara back, I clicked the torch into it’s place on the wall and grabbed hold of the five inch pin. I pulled lightly.
I heard Sara’s prayer beads clicking behind me as my fingers tugged and loosened the chain that held the door shut. Mumbling joined in with the clicking. Sara’s trite spellcrafts. Her invocations of the Powers were distracting, but I managed to make some headway in loosening the chain. I pulled at the pin again, and it came off smoothly enough. With a multitude of chinks and clicks the chain fell to the ground. I felt Lionel tense at the noise, but not enough time to wince as the door was yanked open!
There was an explosion of dust and splinters, but I had shoved myself back and tackled Sara to the floor.
The OIS officer was quick. I heard Lionel fire off a round, but there was a quiet barely-there sound, a whispery sigh, and Lionel’s scream filled the air. Softblade wound. The dust hadn’t begun to settle and my second-in-command had already fallen to the floor, and footsteps were coming behind me, and I lunged - lunged - my legs out behind me and I connected with something. There was a crack, a cry, and the OISer fell on top of me and Sara. I twisted around – Get a grip on him – and threw him under me, beside the trembling Sara. The OISer looked up at me – his eyes were watery, I figure I had broken his leg. I threw all I had into the first blow, and his nose gave way. I hit him again, and again – The bastard was leaking mucus and spewing blood and I hit him again. I felt teeth caving in, and when he started choking I drove my elbow into his throat.
He gurgled. I could hear the blood in his throat but to hell with stopping there. I kept on hitting him. Lionel and Sara melted away and I kept on hitting him, again and again and my fists felt like they were covered in gelatin and my knuckles felt raw but I kept hitting the bastard fucking OISer, kept hitting the fucking traitor, the fucking turncoat to the human race, the piece of shit that raised me and was like a father to me when everyone else hated and beat me, the one who saved my mother from being hanged by Matthias,. I punched his fucking guts out for saving my life and bringing Sara and I to Dome 9, I pummeled him for leaving me and defecting to the Machines, and I didn’t stop until all my fists were hitting was a slab of meat.
I couldn’t breathe. The stench of salt and copper stung, and I could feel the blood dripping down my chin. I suddenly became aware of Sara again, and I couldn’t bear looking at her. I had completely lost myself. I looked down at the OISer. He was barely recognizable. As a human being, let alone his former self. I had beaten him to death and I had lost myself and now I realized we still had to get the hell away.
I sniffed back the snot running down my nose, and wiped my hands on his shirt. I could feel Sara’s eyes on me as I stood up. But I’d deal with her later. I scanned the cramped space: Sara was still stunned, staring at the pulp I had beaten the OISer to. Beneath his body was a hilt. The softblade. I bent down and pulled it out. Rummaging behind his jacket, I started unstrapping the polyetherene sheath. “Lionel? Status?”
Silence. Then his familiar voice rang out, scratchy and painfully muted. “He took my left forearm. I’m missing my brachioradialis, and most of the extensor radialis. It’s not a treatable wound.”
I wound the sheath around me and slipped the softblade into it. “Sara, wrap his wound and staunch the bleeding. Lionel, you fire with your right arm, so pick up the gun and get the fuck up. That’s an order.”
Sara scrambled over to Lionel. He was covered in dust, and it had made his blood sticky and gauzelike. Sara took off her shawl and wiped away at it, before winding it around his left arm. I could see that the softblade had cut out almost two inches of muscle. Lionel was grimacing as Sara handled his wound less than gently. “Shajn. I’m incapacitated. My inclusion in your escape will impede your progress exponentially. I advise for you to leave me behind, and send aid from base.” Sara pulled at the knot on his tourniquet and he grunted sharply. Sara looked up at me, eyes wide. Her voice shook. “Xin, he’s not going to make it if he doesn’t receive treatment from an equipped medical bay soon.”
I stepped over the bloody body and picked up the revolver. Squatting beside Sara, I looked at Lionel and he raised his face to me. He was quivering. He would go into shock soon enough, if I left him. But I grabbed right hand and shoved the pistol into it. He raised a defiant eyebrow. “Shajn –“
“Lionel, I gave you an order to pick up the gun and get up. Here is the gun. Now follow through.” He stared at me angrily. “That’s an order.”
“…Sir.” Objection dripped from his monotonous word.
“Good. Sara, help him up. I doubt the other two Insider officers will make their way here, so let’s get a move on before they start searching for their friend.” I walked through the doorway, Sara and Lionel following. We were in a basement of some sort, dank and cold. We could barely see, even with the dim light from the tunnel. I closed my eyes. Please let there be lights. I opened my eyes and focused. “Lights on.”
We blinked away the spots when the fluorescent brightness hit us, and we stood for a few seconds before we got moving again. The stairs were blocked off by several crates, and we had gotten past them when a piercing electronic shriek came from behind us. Lionel whirled around, gun brandished, but there was no one. The shriek was unrelenting, filling the room. I barely heard Lionel curse angrily. “What is it?” I yelled. Lionel scrambled and gestured wildly for us to continue up the stairs. “OIS officers are currently testing out the Vital Signs Notification vest. It uplinks their status to the Core every five minutes. That means--!”
"What!?" I yelled.
"They know he's dead! They've got a lock on our location!"
"They're closing in right now!"