Too Vulnerable for Help

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He woke up in time to stop Tyson from admitting him to the hospital by walking off the ship by himself, despite what his abused and also bleeding leg told him. He didn't need to ask why Tyson looked like death. A bright orange rescue helicopter flew over them as they stepped off onto the dock of a bay near their hometown. Kai still felt like he was freezing, but it had been put off enough for him to walk—only just. Even so, he didn't think it very important with current circumstances.

One of which included being unable to wake Tala or Ayah up.

"They're both so cold," said Ray, though he held Ayah in his bandaged arms as he said so. "I think she's turning blue—I can't tell if she's breathing!"

Kai put a finger to her neck. They stood at the parking lot of the boatyard, waiting for Tyson's grandfather or an ambulance to get there, whichever came first. The black-clothed assassins had vanished into thin air. Only a few stopped by to thank them for their rescue before running off.

"She still has a pulse." Kai couldn't help but feel Ray's apprehension. Her skin did look a bit too tinted to be just pale. He leaned his face over her mouth. "Breathing too. What happened?"

"You know how she healed my fingers?" said Ray.

Kai groaned. "You don't have to say anymore." And he didn't. He could already see Ayah draining herself dry in attempts to stem the majority of the bleeding of his teammates. Their stained clothes bore witness to the amount of blood they had been losing.

"How can you guys be talking like this?" said Tyson, his voice hoarse from shouting. He sat still soaking wet on the sidewalk while holding Tala's knees up like Ray told him in order to help with bloodflow. His teeth still chattered like Kai's, despite having been in the sun for an hour now. "Max vanished into the ocean—he just jumped off—what could, how did—he could be dead! We've got to do something!"

"Like what?" asked Kai, tense as a drawstring. "Call in the Coast Guard? Dive in after him? Launch Dragoon over the waves so he can drown in the water with him?"

Tyson paled faster than a street light. "Take that back."


"That he—that Max—look, something screwy must have gone with him with Draciel after the waterworks like you with the fire, he's probably just floating around somewhere or in some sort of magic bubble, he can't have...he shouldn't have..."

"Tyson," said Ray, his face twisting with emotion. "Of course there's always hope."

Kai said nothing. He had to, else he'd just spew horrible nastiness at Tyson when he really wanted to be spewing it at himself. What the hell was that business with the water? He could have helped Ray and Tyson look for Max, maybe if there had been three of them—but even as he had walked off the boat he had kept to the center of the dock, trembling at the idea of even a splash of water touching him. The bone-crunching chill crept up from within him, threatening to double him over.

"Max is fine. He's going to be fine," Tyson said to himself, even starting to rock a bit as he put up a sort of prayer. "He'll be fine. He has Draciel with him. Draciel wouldn't let him drown."

Dranzer wouldn't have burnt me so badly, thought Kai, clenching his jaw as he remembered. Bitbeasts didn't save you from the inevitable. Their power was based on the will of the blader. Even the most powerful bitbeast couldn't save your life without its unspinning blade, and he was fairly certain Max hadn't thought to launch Draciel before he jumped into the water.

Though Tyson's question as to why Max had jumped could be anyone's guess. Inwardly, Kai hoped Tyson's weird bitbeast theory was right. Because if Kai had to accept that Max had jumped to his death mere feet away from him...

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