Sarah knew that she was in trouble the moment she heard the knock at the door. The house systems had told her that Ruby’s code was being used to sign for entry, but she’d been told that nobody would be coming back to the safehouse until the evening. After double-checking that the code matched, she told the house to go ahead and grant access. Ruby charged inside less than a second after the lock released, with a body slung over her shoulder and a fierce look in her eyes. The sight shook Sarah so much that she couldn’t manage a better greeting than a frightened “What happened?”
Ruby heaved her cargo on to the trestle in the middle of the room. Sarah moved closer and felt a rush like vertigo when she saw that it was Alex. Ruby rapped her knuckles on the edge of the table. “Our boy here got himself into a big mess, that’s what happened. Get your game on, girl, we need you to get him back on his feet.”
Sarah swallowed and nodded. “Can you tell me anything more specific?”
“Afraid not – you’re going to have to figure out what’s wrong for yourself. He’s still breathing for now, anyway. Best guess is that the fella who jumped him managed to hit him with poison or a shutdown virus.” Ruby shook her head and pushed herself away from the table.
“All right,” Sarah said, forcing herself to breathe steadily as she leaned on the table and looked Alex over. He seemed physically unharmed, at least; there weren’t any obvious wounds and his breathing was regular. His eyes were more worrying, stuck open and staring blankly ahead. Sarah looked up to ask how he’d been attacked only to see Ruby striding back out of the door. She came back in after a few seconds with a second body, covered in blood. Rachel entered right behind her, dragging a stranger behind her.
The girl was obviously terrified – her face was tear-stained and she was looking frantically around the room as if trying to find a way out. Rachel snarled and shoved her into a couch while Ruby dumped the second body on the floor next to Alex’s table.
Sarah caught Ruby’s eye and gestured at the newcomer. “Who’s she?”
“A prisoner,” Rachel snapped, showing an uncomfortable amount of teeth. “Now get moving, girl, Alex is a vegetable and we need you to tell us why.” The aquatic’s hands worked open and closed and she let a muted growl escape from her throat.
Sarah stared before Ruby gave her a warning look. The security specialist pulled her aside and lowered her voice. “We can sort that stuff out later, Sarah. Alex is more important right now.” Sarah nodded as the older woman gave her a tense smile. “I’m off to bring the rest in, but we should be back soon. Stay focused and you should be fine.”
Ruby stepped away and had a brief, muted discussion with Rachel and her prisoner before powering outside and locking the door behind her. Sarah had the feeling that there was more to Rachel’s raw nerves than her Alex’s injuries, but she didn’t have time to figure it out – she had a patient to see to.
She headed over to the next room and grabbed her pack. Her gloves were in the side pocket where she’d left them, and they came to life right away, interface icons lighting up one at a time around the edges of her vision. There was a slight tickling as the gloves sealed themselves around her hands, and then the last of the lights went green.
She was ready to operate.