Happy (almost) Halloween, everyone!
The occasion called for a spooky image–so here you go 😀
As we were right in the middle of a situation last time, let’s skip the intro today and jump right in, shall we?
Though, if you are new to my story, please consider starting with Chapter 1 🙂
Worlds Rising: Rebellion
Chapter 11, Part 1
Abbida hated waiting. Hated it in any situation, but she’d never felt as miserable as right about now. Hunkered in the shadows under the belly of the wreck, she watched Rona and Tarek closing in. They were walking brazenly out in the open as if to demonstrate they’d already won. Only this wasn’t a game. Lian might be dying this very moment from loss of blood or shock.
If only the moon stayed hidden behind the clouds!
No sooner than Abbida had thought it, Rona lit a torch. The bright shine actually plunged their hiding spot into deeper shadows, and Abbida’s hopes reared up–then Tarek recovered Lian’s fallen hand lamp. “There we go,” he grunted, sweeping the trees and shrubs. The blinding light turned the site into a well-lit stage.
Abbida cringed. She envisioned herself getting caught in that cone of light, blinded, like a mouse cornered by the snake. Lians naturally fair skin had paled even more from pain, and might be spotted easily in the otherwise dark undergrowth. Slipping off her own treacherously bright jacket Abbida stooped, black curls spilling over Lian’s face. She held perfectly still. Wishing Lian to remain unconscious just a bit longer, and feeling guilty about it.
“Here, hold this for me,” Tarek said, much too close, “I’m going up.”
“What–now?!” Rona said.
“You want that damned signaling device, don’t you?”
“Yes, but–. All right, go for it. I’ll light the rope for you.” Rona sighed.
Tarek grumbled something unintelligible. Next, Abbida heard him clambering about. No, no, no! From up there he was bound to see them no matter what! Should she try and back away, deeper into the wreck’s shadow? But wouldn’t the rustling of leaves alert the murderous couple even more? Lian was in no condition to move anyway.
Tarek must have reached the body of the ship for she heard him grunting, pulling himself over the ledge. He rummaged around the wreck, almost right above her head now. He might spot them any minute! What to do?! She strained her ears, cold sweat trickling down her spine.
“There!” he cried, and Abbida’s heart skipped a beat.
“I found one of our hunting signs!” Metallic scratching and grinding noises rang through the night as Tarek was jiggling something. “I think this is it. The thing we were looking for!”
“The communication device? Are you sure?”
“It’s already been loosened. Cole must have found it before that woman showed up. Smart man, never said a word.”
“Too smart, if you know what I mean,” Rona huffed, edging closer. “How do we get it down here?”
“Let me handle this.”
Abbida heard him fiddling with the rope and guessed he was going to lower the device to the ground. Had it ever occurred to him that Rona might shoot him as well and make a run for it? Then again, she might not. Those two must have been in bed together for years. Not just figuratively. She grimaced.
On the bright side, the pair seemed to have forgotten all about them. She heard Tarek mutter and grumble under his breath as the device wouldn’t wield. Rona called up, urging him to be careful not to drop it which only caused Tarek to swear louder.
Abbida risked a peek, just as Rona said, “Okay, fine, I’ve got it!” She grunted, lifting a bulky casing off the ground, carrying it a few steps and setting it down with a thud. “Dear me, it is heavy.”
Tarek grumbled something, climbing down. A moment later he jumped and landed on his feet bending his knees. He dusted his clothes off. “Let’s get out of here. I’m sick of this ship.”
He picked up the device and made for the path towards the camp, Rona close on his heels. They never even looked back. Let them have it, Abbida thought. She couldn’t care less about any alien devices. All they ever meant was trouble and pain.
After the last of their footsteps had faded away in the distance Abbida sighed and flopped on her back rubbing her face with both hands. She felt Lian stir beside her and squinted over. With the artificial lights gone, her eyes needed to adjust to the shimmer of moonlight again. “You all right?”
Lian huffed and made as if to sit up. Instead, she stiffened, grimaced and hissed between her teeth. “I’m… gonna need your help.”
“What can I do?”
“My medi-kit. Get it out for me. Please.”
“Medi-what? Dressing bandages, you mean?”
“And an injector… with color-coded… vials.”
“Jacket. Pocket.” She padded under her chest, near her side, but her hand trembled violently and she slumped back to the ground. A glance at her face confirmed she had lost consciousness again. Better hurry!
Nervously, Abbida searched the pockets for anything that resembled medical supplies at all. Would she even recognize them? She only had a vague idea of what this injector might look like. Probably some sort of syringe.
She found several pouches, and laid them out before her. Most of them were made of a material similar to the uniform itself, but thinner. She’d have to cut them open to see what was inside. Abbida hesitated. The contents might be perishable, and she didn’t want to ruin any of them by randomly tearing things up. She checked one that seemed sturdier than the others and more tightly packed. This one actually came with a clasp! Which made sense for a kit designed to be used repeatedly.
Abbida fumbled around with the clasp. A soft tearing noise made her afraid she’d broken it after all, but the flap came open seamlessly and revealed the insides of the pouch: a gun-like device the size of her palm and some vials, neatly tucked into separate compartments. In the dark the colors were hard to discern. She leaned in and squinted. The lighter ones were yellow and red, the other two… maybe blue and green? Which one was she supposed to use?
Gently she nudged Lian’s shoulder. “You’ll have to help me out here. Which is which?”
Lian didn’t respond. Was she even breathing? Yes, faintly, but there it was! She patted Lian’s cheeks, softly first, and when that didn’t do anything, she slapped her more resolutely. “Hey, wake up! Look at me! You’re not giving up now, you hear? I’ve got the injector. Now which vial?”
Lian’s eyelids fluttered, but she didn’t open her eyes. In the pale moonlight her complexion looked ashen. “Red… for the… pain.”
Abbida had inserted the vial before Lian finished speaking. “Where?”
She turned her head minutely, gasping. Abbida set the injector on the side of Lian’s neck and pulled the trigger. There was a small hissing noise, Lian moaned and relaxed visibly.
“Wow, that’s fast! Can I have some?” Abbida said, trying to make light of the situation.
Lian grimaced and finally opened her eyes. “Thank you. Next is one of the yellow ones. That’s an antibiotic.”
“Yellow it is.”
After the second injection, Lian’s head fell back again and her eyes glided shut. At first, Abbida thought she was out again, then she heard her breathing deeply. “Hey, no time for sleep! I know, you’re beat, but I need to examine your injuries and I’m gonna need your assistance!”
Also, they really needed to get out of this place. By now Abbida expected the worst from Rona and Tarek–even being sold out to the Conquerors.
Lian sighed, but let herself be nudged up ever so slowly. Despite the painkiller she clenched her teeth stifling a moan. By the time they’d managed to nestle her back against the trunk of a giant banyan tree her face was covered in sweat. “Give me… a moment,” she mumbled, catching her breath.
“You need to take the jacket off.”
Lian nodded, barely, and bit her lips. It was clear she couldn’t even lift her arms.
“Let me help you,” Abbida said. She opened the clasps in the front and leaned in to support Lian while attempting to softly pull on one sleeve, then the other. Mother Marja’s constant admonitions came to mind, from way back when Abbida had been helping with the little ones: ‘Tug on the clothes, not on the child!’
It seemed a lifetime ago.
Underneath, Lian wore a shirt of a soft, yet sturdy fabric. It stuck to her torso, and Abbida immediately saw why: her left side was completely clotted with blood. Abbida sucked in her breath. “That needs to go.”
“How bad is it? Can you see my ribs?”
“No!” Abbida gaped at her. Truth be told, though, she couldn’t actually see that much at all. “I don’t know. I’ll have to cut that off first.”
Lian groaned. She was shivering now, more sweat pelting her forehead. She pointed to a pouch on her belt. “Use the knife.”
Abbida herself wasn’t half as cool as she let on. Soon enough they’d know for sure the extent of Lian’s injuries. She hitched a shoulder by way of apology and pulled out the hilt of a hunting knife. Puzzled, she looked up. “Where’s the blade?”
“Point it away from us. Then unlock the safety lever. Carefully! This is a nano-coated blade–it cuts through rock.”
Abbida grabbed the knife like a poisonous snake: firmly, with sound respect. She unlocked the safety lever and the blade shot out, smoothly, without so much as a whisper. Earlier, she had watched Lian cut through the sturdy bindings, but this was the first time she was able to take a closer look. The blade was longer than her hand with a bluish, iridescent shine that seemed to shift and waft as it reflected the moonlight. A thrill ran through her. She’d love to try and see if it really cut through rocks!
If only she didn’t have to use it on another human being first.
“All right,” she breathed, “here goes!”
~ to be continued! ~
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