||[Aug. 27th, 2004|05:34 pm]
“Stay here. Wait ‘til I give the signal.”
Soft words, a voice rough with exhaustion, barely audible over the roar of water. “Sir, I strongly suggest--” A gesture cuts her off; she cannot see his face. Freezing cold water falls in sheets, and the sky is starless black. Her comrades are gray ghosts through her night vision scope, figures wavering through water.
Hailstones rattle against the branches of the trees, a faint sound against the river’s rage. Her commander is a white blur, turning away. She can’t see the water, can only see his feet, then most of his legs disappearing as he wades into the swollen river. Then darkness, as he’s swept off his feet, and she can’t see him at all.
Two microts to extricate herself from her pack, then she’s plunging into the river after him, boots slipping on wet stones, icy water slamming into her, closing over her head. The sheer force of the current stuns her, and the cold numbs her even through thick leather. Lightning flashes as she gasps for breath, and her sharp cry of pain is lost in the crashing of water as broken branches and other debris pound against her bruised back and shoulders. Her scope is long gone, and she can only see in short, chaotic flashes, a progression of still images in black and pale blue-white. In each of them, he’s carried farther away, and she reaches for him, sees his face lit for a microt, but he won’t reach to her, won’t try to save himself.
And she would scream for him, but the swirling current pulls her under and she opens her mouth to swallow frigid water. A desperate breath, and it’s as if her lungs are paralyzed, shock and cold and she can’t breathe, can’t move, can only see light flaring rapidly, lightning through water and stars behind her eyes.
She wakes gasping, shaking as she pulls herself up to sit on the edge of the cot, hunched over with her hands on her knees as she struggles to breathe normally. Several microts pass before she realizes where she is, the quiet beeping of the medbay monitors penetrating through the memory of rushing water and the harsh rasp of her breathing. She’s still fully dressed, and drenched in a cold sweat.
The Captain sleeps still, on the next bed, and she lets her eyes linger on his face for a long moment as she tries to calm herself. If he were to wake now, he would see her pale and trembling, disoriented and afraid. But mercifully he does not, and as her heartrate gradually slows she gathers what shreds remain of her control.
An old dream, but one that had returned with distressing frequency in the last few months. This was the first time since before . . . She lets out a shaky sigh, turning away toward the wall comm unit. A consequence of the Aurora Chair, no doubt. Though the dream bears little resemblance, anymore, to the events that inspired it. A mission more than twenty cycles ago now, before she’d even met Crais, a simple retrieval gone horribly wrong. They’d been ill-prepared, and the weather had been their worst enemy.
She’d stood on the bank and watched as Lieutenant Eiran was carried away by the river, knowing that anyone attempting to go after him would meet the same end. She hadn’t given way to emotion and shock until later that day, when for reasons she still cannot fathom she’d abandoned the mission objective entirely. Even now, she isn’t sure she regrets those actions.
But in the dream it’s always Crais who’s swept downriver, and she cannot save him, and he won’t even let her try.
Her nails bite into her palm as her fist clenches, but her face is blank as she checks the monitors by his bed. Whatever Lirrona had done, it had clearly drained what little energy reserves Crais had left. He would sleep for a long time, and that was probably better for him.
( The bridge is silent, save for the ticking of instruments.Collapse )