Day 33, 7:13pm
“Emily!” Jaisa screamed, rushing over to her friend. “Emily, talk to me!” She didn’t respond. There was already a stream of blood and water winding away from the fallen girl towards the river, mixing with the mud as it went. Blood was pouring from the base of her neck, her shoulder and her side, and it looked like she had hit her head as well. It was small consolation to her friend, but the wounds on her legs seemed relatively minor in comparison.
Holstering her revolvers, Jaisa quickly grabbed her knife. She was operating on autopilot; at some level she knew that if she let her mind or heart take over she wouldn’t be able to do what she had to. Emily’s life depended on her being perfect and being fast. She didn’t have the luxury of letting herself comprehend the situation. She flung off her raincoat and quickly took her shirt off and cut it into ragged strips, doing her best to shield it from the rain. It would be soaked soon enough, but better that it be soaked in blood than in water. She rapidly field dressed Emily’s wounds as best she could, which was unfortunately not saying much. With the newly made rags absorbing as much rain as blood she had no doubt that the girl lying before her had less than twenty, maybe thirty minutes to live unless she got her to the Lab.
She should have been faster.
Summer was furious. That Dawson woman was now happily reunited with her little brat. That Alchibah had attracted so many sheeple never ceased to shock her. It was her duty to protect them, one that she would (she suspected, for you never really know these things until the time comes) give her life to fulfill. But giving your life for another’s and risking your life because of a hysterical woman’s stupidity are two very different things. And now her Lieutenant and Emily, two of her best friends, were out in this blasted gale doing just that. She glanced at her com. Four minutes and counting until she’d have to tell Nash that they were missing. At least the damn coms were still good for telling time. Frack!
Jaisa had hoisted Emily’s unconscious form into her arms and was staggering as fast as she could manage towards the lab. Her shoulder was ripped wide open, blood running down her left arm and all over her side and back. She had left her raincoat forgotten by the tents and the rain pelting her bare skin made dark pink rivulets that flowed relentlessly downwards. All this went unnoticed amidst the adrenaline coursing through her veins and her desperate need to get her friend back to camp, and had she been aware of her wound she would not have cared. The question now was rapidly becoming how sufficient a substitute for blood adrenaline really was.
She heard a roar swelling behind her, overwhelming even the sounds of storm. Half turning to look she saw the wave rushing up the mouth of the river, engulfing the banks and tents as it went. She thought she had been pushing herself as hard as she could, thought she had done so on more than one occasion in the past as well. She was wrong. Charging up the hill now, the minor ache in her should forgotten completely, she thought she might actually outrun the edge of the crushing tsunami ripping the world apart behind her. About that too she was wrong.
“All right, take Ryu and May and find them. And be back soon, damnit, I don’t want to have to send a search party after the search party looking for the search party!” Nash ordered Summer. He could almost literally not believe how bad a day this had turned out to be. He thanked his lucky stars that things, at least as this day went, seemed to be settling down. Jaisa was as capable of taking care of herself as virtually anyone on Alchibah (which was saying quite a lot, thank you), so he really wasn’t too worried on that count. It also seemed that the rumbler had decided to sit this one out. He sighed and started for the door Summer had just left.
The sound was immense. It was as if someone had gathered every rumbler that ever lived and decided to run them up the riverbanks through Liberty. The huddled colonists rushed as one to the windows overlooking the falls. Nash stared on in disbelief as none other than a tsunami brutally roared up the river, crashing itself to pieces as it hit the base of the falls, for an instant sending the river shooting back up the cliff. God he hoped no one had been down there. Then he went back to work.
She almost made it. Almost. The rushing wave just caught her with its last gasp as she clamored up Windmill Hill towards high ground. Even then it had enough power to pitch her and her precious burden through the waterlogged air and slam them into the mud. Somehow though, through some force of instinct or reflex, somehow she twisted herself so she bore the brunt of the impact, not her friend. Her body crashed to the wet earth, making an unpleasant squelching noise which she never got to hear. Her head hit the ground and everything went dark.