Tuesday, October 22, 2013

148 - Where Are You Going to Put Them?

*biological repair functions at current maximum*

*Mom, there are people still in the city, they refused to be evacuated!*

*Yes, Eshmaeel. Unload bunks one and two and put those four children in. I can hold the adults in place well enough when we move. Good. Brace yourself.* Above them chunks of rock rained down, ringing off Mom's hide, crackling off the stone making Esh and Dav flinch.

Esh flattened himself as best he could on the floor covered in people, Davood stood with the board just behind the loo door. Every square centimetre it seemed had someone injured on it. Mom had extended her healing protocols so that the med equipment would function fully in her main cabin, rather than just in the sealed bunks. Even insulated inside Mom he could feel the tremors of explosions outside.

Her capacity was stretched enough that Eshmaeel lost all the air in his lungs with an oof as she launched herself down a hundred metre cliff to the river bottom, ran out to a narrow spur of rock and threw up a splash that almost scattered to the refugee city slot in the canyon wall.

She bounced once on a rock mid-river and then made it to the broken rock on the other side, the city side. The water was already flowing through the impromptu dam, bursting through in streams as thick as Esh's wrist gushing hard.

The city butte lay peeled open like a honeybee's hive, or a mordant-ant farm of roads and pathways and rooms, leaking water and blood and dust. Heating columns and pipes leaked and burned, throwing bluish smoke into the air, oozing yellow liquid wax down to float and crackle on the river. Crushed people and bits of people lay, unmoving and the screaming and moaning of the injured echoed weirdly against the rock.

Human bone white lay soaking in human red splinters, painted across the planetary red rock, drying to match, dripping steadily from some levels, enough people trapped and bleeding out to keep the flow, however slowly. 

The water all around, behind the dam was already red and mud. “Help... help us... please oh endarkened take me make it stop hurting mama mamam papa sissy help ow it hurts oh it huuuuurts! Make it stop enlightened make it stop shut up shut up shut up ow ow ow help! AAAAAAAAAA AAAAAA AAAAAA My little brother is there and I can't get to him make it stop shut up ow ow help us help me I want to die please let me die oooooooooooooo help...” The words and cries flowed like the blood, down the stone of the butte.

Eshmaeel felt badly that he was relieved when Mom cut her external mics. “Mom, where are we going to put all these people, you're at capacity already.”

You have no idea, Eshmaeel. Get ready to start loading wounded. I will direct you when I am ready.” 

FireDrake 52 wrapped around the rock above Mom and extended its scales to lock it into the ground to protect her. "Mom, if you move so precipitously I require you to inform me and Drake One of your intention.  Otherwise I cannot begin to protect you."

"Yes, yes, 52. My apologies for not speaking first."

Eshmaeel braced himself, uselessly, as Mom anchored her feet into the stone, right at the worst of the ripped open butte and slowly began to expand. Her skin unwrinkled completely, and her legs extended as her belly blew out slowly, fitting to the very bottom of each leg, making it look as though she were filling posts with the walls of her chameleon skin.

The skin itself went from mimicking the stone and bloody river around her to a fuzzy, off-white blur. Her rear compartment stretched out more that four times, her blunt, shell-like tail digging into the sand and rock right at her creaking limit.

Where bodies had crowded her before, now they lay unconscious in the centre of a floor with space for a hundred more. “I shall be able to accommodate people vertically as well,” she said, popping her mouth, letting the vile, organic stench roll in. “Go, Eshmaeel. Go Davood. The first survivors are at these coordinates to your left.”

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