The Light That Failed Pt 5

From the Story Arc: A Fine And Private Place

Previous Story in the Arc: The Light That Failed Pt 4 by Belladonna Aura (Sunday, October 09, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: The Light That Failed Pt 6 by Bestial Boy (Sunday, October 09, 2005)

(posted Sunday, October 09, 2005)

Commie Cowgirl thundered over the pavement towards the hospital in Skyway City in the saddle of the best horse she had ever ridden in her life. Under any other circumstances this would have been the realization of a dream. Ever since arriving here in Paragon, she had longed for a good horse under her. She had wished that somehow her "travel power" could be equine. And the stunt horse she had "borrowed" from the set of Cowboy In The City was everything she had dreamed of and more.

But lying limply across the saddlebow in front of her was one of the good comrades in the CCCP, someone who had never failed to be kind to her, someone that just about everyone, even grouches like Agn, seemed to like. Medic Third, Belladonna Aura. And Oksana was scared half to death for her. Raised on a "ranch" in Siberia, Oksana was no stranger to real death and illness, and—and Bella had the look about her that Oksana did not like.

So she even though Thunderheels was not her horse, she smacked him to get more speed out of him.

Speedster and teammate Last Avatar had gone on ahead, and to Oksana's intense relief, she saw a reception committee waiting on the steps of the hospital. With—

With a tech with an Xray-blanket, a lead-lined apron of sorts, made to shield technicians from their machines, and the parts one didn't want irradiated of patients.

Oksana sent Thunderheels up the steps and stopped in front of the tech, who threw the blanket over Bella. There was a gurney there too, but Oksana waved it off. "Lead me!" she demanded, and the tech didn't even pause to question her. "Xray One, we’ve cleared it!" he yelled over his shoulder, and sprinted on ahead of her.

Thunderheels didn't even flick an ear. In through the emergency-room doors, down the corridors on the heels of the tech, and in through a heavy door maked "Xray 1" the went, his hooves clattering and slipping a little on the linoleum. Two nurses were waiting there, and pulled Bella, Xray blanket and all, down from Oksana's saddle, waving her off.

Oksana didn't need to be told; Bella was about due to throw another EMP—

It hit just as she reached the door, and something of the green flash leaked past the Xray blanket. The lights flickered—

But didn't explode, didn't even fail.

Thunderheels cleared the door and the techs slammed it practically on his tail.

Now Oksana slid down out of his saddle, and carefully led him down the corridor to the lawn outside. He was exhausted, poor thing, foaming with sweat, and she wondered if there was any place around here she could get him water.

"Cowgirl! Here!"

Oksana looked up to see Last Avatar waving at her, a stranger in hospital scrubs next to her. She led Thunderheels over, to see that the strange woman had two buckets of water, a stack of clean hospital towels and a couple of hospital blankets.

"I ride," said the stranger, "Chrissie." She held out a hand with a towel in it.

"Oksana," Cowgirl said, taking the towel. In short order, Thunderheels was properly rubbed down, under blankets, and being allowed small drinks of the water. That was when Chrissie and Avatar left her—

And that was when Oksana threw her arms around Thunderheel's neck and burst into tears.

#

Victoria Victrix had already known something was wrong.

She had been on monitor duty, and she started getting anomalous readings from Bella, readings that seemed to show her in two places at once. Skyway, where she was supposed to be—but also Talos, Founders Falls, and Perez Park. It made no sense.

Then she stopped getting readings altogether.

In fact, she stopped getting readings from Bella's entire team.

That was when she used her personal backup—magic.

The team was in Skyway—somewhere in the sewers—and Vickie quickly tuned the scanners to Skyway, with a horrible sinking feeling. Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong—

And then all hell busted loose.

The comms and radios lit up with reports of EMP damage, explosions on a movie set, horses running wild, and a nuclear bomb—

But before Vickie could even begin to sort through what was going on, a voice speaking Russian, began shouting in Broadcast mode on the common comm. channel.

"HQ!" shouted Soviet Winter over CCCP channel. "Is Soviet Wing! Is bad accident! Is—"

Vickie didn't hesitate. "Commissar!" she called into Red Saviour's office, "Patching through an urgent transmission!"

Not half a dozen guttural words came over the line before Saviour said "Govno!" in that tone of voice reserved for disasters, and "Tchort!" in the same tone. She replied, Wing spat out some more, in which the only thing that Vickie understood was the word "Bella," and Saviour came flying—literally—out of the office.

"To be calling Commissar Bestial Boy and sending him to Skyway City hospital," she called over her shoulder as she shot out the window. "Now."

Vickie did not hesitate. She cut short Bestial Boy's genial greeting. "Saviour says get to Skyway City hospital. Something's happened to Bella."

Silence. Then, "On my way," in the grimmest tone she had ever heard out of him.

It didn't matter. She was already out the door herself. "Callignous Storm take the comm.!" she called into the rec room as she passed it. She was in the air and thumbing her own comm. as she headed for the Skyway City Gate. "Red!" she cried on their private channel. The readout showed he was on PI. Great. A Portal mission. It could take him hours to get out.

"Darlin'? What—"

"Something horrible's happened to Bella. I don't know what, but she's in Skyway hospital and I'm on the way now—"

The same awful silence she'd heard when she called Zach. Then. "So am I. Meet you there. Out."

#

"Let me in there, dammit! I'm a Healer—" Vickie tried to shove her way past the techs at the door of a room marked "Xray 1" but they were about the size of some of the really bulked-heroes and just as impossible to budge.

"Govno!" Saviour swore from behind her. "Victoria—is nyet safe—not knowing if Shyft's bellyring will hold—"

Vickie stopped struggling and turned to look at the Commissar. Whatever was in her face made even Saviour step back a pace. "Nat," she said, with icy calm—and she had never, ever used Saviour's first name, much less her nickname before. "I am as good a Healer as Soviette. I can throw an aura every five seconds, and a directed Heal every seven. That is my best friend on the planet in there. If you don't tell them to let me in, I will fossilize every damn one of you and get in there anyway."

"Putting on rad-suit," said Saviour, and gestured to a tech, who brought one—about ten sizes too big, because Vickie was so small, but she was way, way past caring. With arms and legs flapping she dashed inside.

#

The corridor had been made into an impromptu waiting room; Red Saviour stood like a stone-faced statue squarely in the middle, as her troops arrived to surround her. First to arrive was Bestial Boy, then Social Medicine—

"Here's the situation," the grim-faced doctor was telling them, as Red Djinni arrived, flaming with agitation. "Her mutation has radically destabilized. She's in multiple organ failure, rejection syndrome, or as close as makes no difference. We can't put her on life-support, she'll burn the machines out. We don't know why she's rejecting her own tissues and none of the anti-rejection drugs we've tried have worked. She's crashing."

"What is crashing?" Nat asked, as Bestial Boy paled.

The doctor's eyes were bleak. "Commissar—Belladonna Aura is dying. And we don't know why."