Adrenaline could only take you so far. The moment that reality had solidified into something consistent was precisely the moment that adrenaline ceased to carry Tremor any further. Her last explosion had struck its target, but it had also struck her
. Hard. By the time she'd stopped seeing stars, Akhilleus had already been closing in on her again. If Flint hadn't intercepted his punch...well, she imagined her head would hurt even worse right now. Or maybe she'd be unconscious. With the way her head was aching, that might be preferable.
The butterfly had come with her, and echoed the same instruction that Flint had given her moments before. She resisted the urge to tell Amber that she knew what to do
, because knowing anything right now seemed exceptionally difficult. This wasn't the first time she'd sustained a concussion. She'd been through this before, but the haze around her brain made it difficult to recall what she was supposed to do. It was easier to just follow the butterfly's instructions.
Her watch first beeped as she was grabbing an ice pack from the fridge. All clear
. She breathed a sigh of relief, muscles relaxing as a tension she hadn't even been aware of left her body. They were fine. Arno had found Teja, and everything was all clear
. Tremor flipped the lights off and let herself sink down onto one of the med bay's beds. Her motorbike helmet fell to the floor beside her, a portion of the outer casing finally cracking off in answer to the abuse it had been put through over the past hour. All clear.
She lay back, ice pack draped across her aching skull, and a small butterfly perched atop its surface, and shut her eyes. A long rest, and some Advil when she woke up.
Her watch beeped again.
Tremor's stomach sank before she even looked at it. She'd just received an 'all clear' message. Which meant that whatever was coming through now was...something else. Something worse. She sat up slowly, the world tilting around her ever so slightly, and turned her attention to the incoming notification. She read it once. Then again. Then a third time, because she had to processing the words incorrectly. She was misreading it. But every time her eyes scanned the alert, the words were the same. "...Noctua?"
Her voice was quiet, filled with confusion. Nearly every member of the Society had just escaped some variety of life-or-death conflict. And yet, it was Noctua. He was supposed to be safe, recovering in a hospital under a false name. He
was the one who was gone.
She'd never even met him.
Tremor was still staring off into the dark, trying to force her injured brain to come to terms with the news, when her watch indicated a third
transmission was incoming. She shook her head, a motion that sent needles of pain into the backs of her eyes, as though it would have any effect on her watch's communications system. No more. No more news. She just wanted to rest
. But despite her protests, the alert came through. "This is Axiom to everyone. Convene at my location, IMMEDIATELY. The SOS is under attack. All of us are under attack. We've already got a casualty. Move!"
She waited, hoping for the rush of adrenaline that always came with a call. But it wasn't there. There was nothing on reserve. She stood, nauseous, and grabbed her cracked helmet from the floor. It wasn't over yet. Noctua was already gone, but it wasn't over yet. Who next? She opened her mouth, but couldn't force the command out.
COORDINATE COMPLEMENT COLLABORATE
"I'm with you. I'll help. But you need to go."
Tremor took a breath, and said the words, deeply dreading what she was about to find on the other side. "Bodyslide. By one."
She appeared beside Flint, her watch locking onto his signal. Something crunched underfoot. Ice? No. Alaska was gone, the temperature here was the other
extreme. It wasn't ice under her feet, it was glass
. And there was no snow above her head. There was lightning. Arcing in every direction. She crouched down as another bolt jetted out, splitting the air worryingly
close to her. Lightning sought the quickest path to the ground. That was how it worked. Physics. She was fairly certain that it had been Teja that passed that knowledge on to her, during one of their tutoring sessions.
Urgently, she shoved her motorbike helmet over her head. Ouch. The outer casing was visibly cracked, a portion of it still lying on the Empyrean's med bay floor. "What's going on?"
she asked, fastening the strap of her helmet as quickly as she could. There was a deep worry in her voice. All of us
, Flint had said. All of us are under attack.
But the only offensive she could see was the lightning that was arcing from the remnants of the AMPERE facility. "What's she doing?