Day 33, 7:26pm
Summer, Maylee and Ryu were nearly at the spaceport when the east side of Windmill Hill collapsed in on itself, sliding, a liquid torrent of earth and stone, toward and over the spaceport. The cacophony was deafening, louder than even the tsunami itself had been. The three young soldiers skidded to a halt and watched in horror as the last hope of finding their two friends was washed away with the better part of the very first piece of land on Alchibah that a human had seen fit to name.
Ryu stared intently at the flow and started, “I…” but then trailed off, as if unwilling to tempt fate and proclaim hope again so soon after it was snatched away. Then all at once he was shouting and pointing, “I see them, I see them! There, pinned against the shuttle, the furthest one!” He started forward.
“No,” May shouted above the din, grabbing him by the arm, “there’s no way we can make it through there. We have to go around and wait for it to stop or we’ll be in worse shape than they are.”
“She’s right!” Summer yelled, starting away, along the edge of the hill. She turned and yelled over her shoulder. “May, stay there and watch them until it stops. We can’t afford to lose sight of them. As soon as we get to the other side go to the lab for help. Ryu, with me!”
As they rounded the far end of the hill, battling the still torrential rain and hurricane force winds, the slide stopped and it seemed as if all of the hill that intended to move had. The light coming from the lab was tempting, only a few hundred feet away, but it would have to wait. When they reached the other side they found that Jai and Emily had been moved only slightly, pushed into a corner in the hull of the shuttle. Jaisa had hugged Emily to her and seemed to have shielded her from the worst of it. They were better than waist deep in the hardened sludge, and what miracle had kept them from being sucked under or downstream no one knew. They were thoroughly caked in mud, though because Jaisa had been pinned directly in front of Emily it seemed that both had avoided having their faces fatally covered. The shuttle to which they were pinned was on the very edge of the slide – it tapered off to inches deep not twenty feet downhill from them. Jaisa groaned.
“Jai! Over here!” Ryu bellowed. She strained to turn her head towards his voice.
“Ryu,” she shouted as loudly as she could manage, “She, the mud, bl…” she shook her head to clear it. “Need to get out of here. Attacked. Emily’s loosing blood. No time!”
He charged onto the newly formed ground with Summer at his heels, sinking only slightly as he did. The clay-based mud had formed a dense pack that would be hard to dig through. They both knew they were probably risking another slide, but they had no choice. As soon as they got to their friends they started digging furiously with their hands and knives. Maylee had already disappeared from view, sprinting towards the lab.
Jai seemed to have been successful at shaking off her daze. She actually grinned. “Glad you two could show up. I was starting to think you didn’t care about us.”
“Well, we couldn’t let you get dead, now could we? Then the Colonel’d have more time to pay attention to the rest of us.” He glanced up briefly, grinning back at her. “And you know we don’t want that!”
She laughed. “Knew there must have been a good reason you came looking for us. Shit! This has been one hell of a day. A hurricane hits, then we get attacked by a friggin pack of catamount things, then there’s a god damn tsunami breathing down my neck. And as if that wasn’t enough we get caught in a mother fucking mudslide. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if Santa Clause did a fly over so Rudolph could shit on my head right before the goonies nuked us!” Ryu and Summer both burst out laughing, but they were close to tears as well. By now they all had seen her shoulder and realized that if they didn’t get them out soon they were going to lose both of girls, and the work was slow going no matter what they put into it. She was doing what good leaders did when they had to – keep their soldier’s morale up when the odds were long. It was no “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” or “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” but it wasn’t bad for someone so new to the role. The one small consolation in the whole mess was that the thick layer of mud and clay seemed to have slowed their bleeding to a trickle.
Five minutes later they had managed to create enough of a gap that, with the help of the pelting rain, was enough to pull the now unconscious Jaisa free. Once that was done it was relatively easy to get Emily out of the muck. Summer gasped when she saw the extent of her wounds and then checked the girl’s pulse. It was faint, but still there. How much longer though? And where was the help May was supposed to bring?
“Take her. To the lab, as fast as you can. I’ll be behind you with Jai. GO!” Ryu took the unconscious girl in his arms and ran, heedless of the uneven, slippery ground. Emily had minutes, not hours. If he tried to pick his way safely to the makeshift hospital he might as well have left her where she was. Behind him Summer hoisted her charge over her shoulder and began making her way as best she could in his wake.