Day 83, early evening
I couldn’t believe I had missed the Dancer’s welcome party, not to mention the guardians arrival. John filled me in on it after I got in from the surveying mission an hour ago. It’s a shame. I do love rocks, but even a real passion for geology doesn’t make them more interesting or exciting than that whole hullabaloo. My stop by Hannah’s after I got back more than made up for it though. Way, way more than.
There are a few moments in everyone’s life that are true pivot points, moments that unalterably transform their life, for good or for ill. Though of course I didn’t know it, I was about to have one of those moments.
I had been having the nightmares again almost every night for weeks and weeks. Every night it was the same; I was about to die, and so were my parents and my baby brother, and then the giant came and everything turned into noise and fire and yet at the same time everything was all of a sudden ok. The giant’s eyes were gentle as my mother’s and yet hard as diamonds. I always felt that the nightmare was more than that, but I could never remember anything more than the dreams. Until I walked into Hannah’s.
I reached out and grasped the handle of the big main door to the First Inn and opened it. The sounds of the festivities reached into the twilight, and I couldn’t wait to join in them. As I stepped into the building a large, no, a huge figure a few tables into the room slowly turned at the sound of the door and I was looking into those gentle, hard eyes.
I could feel myself slowly falling, but the sensation quickly stopped and was replaced by something far worse: terror. Sheer, raw terror.
As I turned around out of curiosity when I heard the door swing open I couldn’t believe my eyes. It couldn’t be. I hadn’t seen that woman in person since she was nine. I watched as she won gold after gold as a swimmer in the Olympics but I never expected to see her again, not in my lifetime. And yet here, trillions of miles away…And then she fell like a rag doll, hitting her head pretty bad on the side of a table on the way down.
I was next to her in a second as the room quickly went silent. She was bleeding a bit and would have a nasty bruise, but mostly she seemed fine. She definitely needed a doctor though. I glanced around.
“Mariana and Kurt left the party early.” Andy said, “They’re at the lab – you saw the map, right?” I nodded. “She’ll be ok, but you can get her there as fast as anyone.” I nodded again and lifted her gently as I went into overdrive and headed out the door in a beeline for the lab.
I could hear enormous, horrible sounds in the distance, and they were coming closer. The two guards inside our room were looking nervous, which just made it worse. When they got nervous they’d hit us, and I didn’t like that. My leg hurt so much from last time. And I especially hated when they hit my baby brother. Mom always cried when they did that. She cried so much since we got kidnapped and taken here.
The door smashed open and the guards fell down. There were two really loud bangs when they did. I think they were shot. Good. The guy that knocked the door down was huge. He made dad look like a little kid. And he was dressed all in black and had guns and guns. We were all just staring at him. Then he started talking into the air in front of him.
“Gaelic, Angel. Found em – south wing, east side. Blue’s going out the back door. Cover our asses. Over.”
“Angel, Gaelic. Consider it done. Over.”
Then he turned to my dad.
“Ambassador Pierce, Master Chief Gabriel Benjamin, US Navy. We need to get you and your family out of here. Are you all ok to move?”
“My daughter,” dad said, putting his hand on my shoulder, “they broke her leg. We can’t-”
“I’ll carry her.” He turned and yelled over his shoulder, “Cyclone, get in here and help me strip these hajes of their vests. And bring the two in from the hall too.” He looked up at my dad again as he squatted down and started to take the dead guard’s vest off. “I wish I had better news for you ambassador, but we’re exiting hot. We don’t know what happened yet, but they knew we were coming. We’ll get you folks out of here safely, but it isn’t going to be pretty.” He turned to me.
“Elana? My name’s Gabe.” He reached out his huge hand and I shook it with my tiny one. “I know your leg hurts a lot right now and you’re probably pretty scared, but everything’s going to be ok. Can you put this on for me? It’ll help keep you safe,” he said, handing me the vest. “And before you know it you’ll be playing catch with Sammy and Rex again. Your neighbors the Mannings are watching them until you get home.” I smiled soo big when he said that. I cried for days ‘cause I thought they killed our puppies. I threw my arms around the giant’s neck and kissed him on the cheek. I was crying pretty bad, but mostly because I was so happy, not cause my leg hurt.
“Thank you,” I whispered in his ear. I was real quiet. I don’t think anyone else heard.
My mind started buzzing, flipping through images and sounds faster than I could follow. The giant got shot, once, twice. One of the soldiers went down. Which one? The giant and I got caught in an explosion but somehow I didn’t get hurt. We got trapped in a hall and our whole family huddled behind the giant as the world seemed to end. There were explosions ripping through the building. Blood and fire were everywhere. Images of scores of dead men flashed through my head. The giant got shot again and again and more of the soldiers with us died. And then we were all next to two helicopters and somehow we were safe. The last thing I remember before I went in one helicopter and the giant went in the other was squeezing him tight, kissing him on the cheek and whispering in his ear again, so soft I could barely hear it,
I woke up in the same giant’s arms, twenty years later. We were nearing the lab and I could feel something warm and wet on my head. I must’ve made quite the fool of myself back at Hannah’s. I looked up at the giant.
“It was you, wasn’t it? All those years ago. I never even knew if you survived.” He slowed to a stop, but he didn’t say anything. But the eyes were the same, the hard, gentle eyes. I reached up and kissed him. Not a little girl peck on the cheek, a real kiss this time. After I decided he knew I meant it I leaned forward in his arms and, for the third time, whispered in his ear,