1.14 Precarious

76 23 3

Disembodied voices filled the darkness, worriedly calling out names. "Are you hurt?" they asked each other in the slave tongue.

There were pained replies, but Margo could not triage injuries without light. She considered poking her blaster glove to see if she could discover a flashlight mode. And was triage their top priority right now? The Torth must have watched their damaged streamship crash into ruined skyscrapers.

An electric blue-white light flickered in one corner of her vision, crackling into a sphere. It illuminated Alex in his makeshift armor. He stood awkwardly on the crooked floor, with his back bent and helmeted head against the chalky gray dome, not fitting in that space. The jumpy sphere of electricity radiated from his armored hand and cast light over the broken room.

"Who's hurt?" he asked in a tone as unwavering as he was. "Where's Thomas?" His shadowed eyes roved over the passengers.

Margo saw Thomas crumpled on the floor, no larger than an average ummin. She climbed past injured refugees. Many were suffering, but Thomas was particularly fragile, with atrophied muscles that barely held together his underdeveloped bones. If he had a broken skull, or a bad concussion ...? Margo tried to stop thinking of her foster brother like he was a tool, like a roadmap or a smartphone, but she was all too aware that without Thomas, they were lost. Even if they managed to escape Torth attacks, even if they scraped a living out of muck—without Thomas's knowledge, they would be trapped on this hellish planet until they died.

An immense armored presence knelt beside her. Alex held his hands over Thomas, his arms roped by crackling electricity.

The air around Thomas seemed to writhe, sparking with friction. The force of the healing lifted Thomas's fragile body partway off the ground. When he fell back, bruises were gone, and limbs that had looked broken were now back to their usual withered state. He was probably as healthy as he was ever likely to get.

Alex's electric sphere coalesced again, and he peered around the ship's interior. "Who else is hurt?"

Thanks to the armor, no one could see whatever bruises he had. "Are you okay?" Margo asked.

"I'm fine." Alex shot her a perplexed look, as if she was speaking nonsense. He aimed the electricity in her direction and looked her over. "Are you hurt?"

She began to say that she was fine, and he ought to pay attention to protecting their wrecked ship, but he saw the bloodied bruise on her arm. He held out his free hand, and Margo felt the healing relief wash through her from her scalp down to her toenails.

All of her aches vanished. Even her weariness was gone. She felt fit enough to run a marathon while carrying an ummin under each arm. The suddenness left her gasping in surprise.

"Who else needs help?" Alex knelt near moaning refugees, and began to heal each one.

"You need to shield us." Margo tried to make her tone gentle, to phrase it like a suggestion, but she couldn't mask the urgency.

"It doesn't matter." Thomas rolled his head enough to glare towards Margo. "We're dead." He squeezed his eyes shut. "Please," he begged in the slave tongue, "will someone please shoot me?"

"No." Margo picked up Thomas and held him like a baby in her arms. She doubted anyone would shoot him as long as she held him like this.

But how long might they cower inside this wrecked ship? The stuffy air reminded her that spacecrafts were, necessarily, airtight. Their life support system was probably wrecked.

"Yeah, that's right, we don't have fresh air," Thomas said crossly. "We can't survive in here for more than a few hours."

"It's worse than that," Alex said, standing. Electricity rippled over his armor, making him glow enough to illuminate all the scared faces around them.

Nowhere Nation [#SFF] Updates every 5 days [#Galactic]Read this story for FREE!