No WP likes for the combat sequence. Interesting passive feedback. Anyway, today’s and tomorrow’s long-ish segments will take care of some of the post-pirate action. At some point, soon, I will be returning to Aurie’s POV, likely for the rest of this work. Not that Jimmy is getting tossed but that I need the lens to focus so maybe a plot will show up. I think I’ll wait until she leaves the tiny hospital before I do; so, Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, maybe?
“Mister Alvis?” Jansen yelled. “Can you cover us?”
“Help me, Jimmy,” she said, slinging her rifle back onto her shoulder and using a pocketknife to cut off the last inch of her shirt. “We need to bind up her shoulder. Didn’t you say that there was a hospital by your house?”
“More of an urgent care, but yes. Hang on a sec,” he said, taking a handkerchief from his pocket and placing it onto the bullet’s entry point, first. “We can move her in my truck. The bed is filthy so let’s have her head on you and legs on me. Can I lift her now?”
He waited to ask as the older woman seemed to have more medical training than he did.
“Mister Alvis?” she called again. “We’re taking Aurie back to the local medical facility. Uh… does this base have wifi signal?”
“What’s that?” he asked, still trying to look everywhere. “Close to the main buildings, sure.”
“Bring her,” Colour said before raising her voice. “We’re on our way. Should Mister Burns summon more men?”
“Why?” Alvis gestured with his left. “Everyone’s dead.”
“I don’t believe it,” he shook his head.
“Me either,” Jimmy muttered, picking her up. Aurie wasn’t shaking, she was vibrating.
“I do,” Colour said. “And I’ll tell her when she wakes up, no more lies.”
“Ahh…edd allll…ready decidededed that…” the girl in his arms managed.
“Aurelia!” Jansen continued in her terse voice, “do we need to summon the ship, Lenore?”
“Let’ssss see my condi… condish… how I am, first. I am beef… blief… telling them, tho.”
“So you two were lying,” he accused, waiting for Colour to open the passenger door. Once she sat down, he eased Aurie to her before coming around. He slammed his door shut and turned over the engine.
“We dem *cough* demons lie, my love,” Aurie sounded just a little less bad.
“How did…?” he began, turning them around.
“I read y’all’s easy,” she smiled with her eyes shut, head resting in her friend’s lap. “In Combat Mode? You looked at me for barely a second. I perceived you for what you would think an hour. You were scared. You hated me. I didn’t like that.”
“I don’t get any of this shit,” he muttered, not bothering with the gate and knocking it open at thirty kph, turning north.
“I haaaave to undo the changes to myyy lines, Friend. You tell him.” At that, she took a huge breath and was still.
“Holy shit! Did she just die?” he yelled.
“No, she’s still breathing, Jimmy.” Colour shook her head. “Have you ever heard the term ‘demi-human’?”
He shook his head.
“That’s part one. Since she permitted me, here’s part two: her surname isn’t Hardt. It’s Hartmann.”
“But that’s…!” A horn honked ahead of them. He saw Gates and Ypres, headed the other way, and ignored their waves. “That’s the empress’ name!”
Screeching to a halt in the hospital’s Emergency drive-through, Burns ran to open Colour’s door. Hardt had just said something. “…him to go get those.”
“What?” he asked.
“Tell you later,” Jansen barked at him, passing Aurie over before running past him into the building. Following, he heard her shout, “Trauma victim! Gunshot wound!”
Not seeing anything like this in forever, two women and one man, all in scrubs, just stood there.
“Now, goddam it!” Jimmy added. The man pointed to a stretcher as one of the women called a trauma code on the overhead speakers.
“That’s where we’re going,” the man said. “We’ve only the one trauma room but the docs and nurses should be running. Can you open those glass doors there?”
Jimmy ran ahead about four meters and slid them open, the other guy, who he now recognized as a nurse’s aide, pushed Aurie in. A woman about Colour’s age appeared but paused at the blood-soaked small figure.
“Vitals, stat!” She turned her eyes to Burns. “What the hell is going on?”
“Attacked by pirates at the spaceport,” Jimmy replied. “Besides that shoulder wound, I think she’s stable.”
“We’ll see. Could you step out, please? We’re going to be busy in ten seconds,” she ordered politely.
Back in the hall, he realized that now he was the one shaking. He jerked to feel a hand on his shoulder.
“She’ll be fine,” Colour said hopefully. “Tough little survivor.”
“Can you tell me…” he began but stopped as they had to move further out of the way as more staff showed up. He recognized Doctor Crittenden, the chief medical officer, with his bald head about four inches above everyone else’s.
“No, because I do not know the whole story,” she shook her head. “In the meantime, Aurie told me to ask you to go get our rucksacks from your place. It may be that there’s something she needs from hers.”
He nodded and ran. Only a kilometer up Union Street, Jimmy floored it the whole way until another squealing stop. Parked in the street and still running, he dashed inside and picked up their bags. Those tossed into the truck bed, he turned about and headed back.
Her last name is Hartmann. That’s their empress’ last name! She must be related or why keep it a secret? Is she her daughter? Burns jerked to a halt in a parking spot. Is she the heir? Keys into his pocket for once since this began, he picked up the two burdens and ran back to the ER door.
And maybe more importantly, at least to me, unable to shake the demon’s image, what is she?