Pyat jolted awake, her entire body in pain. She sprang up, the action relocating her shoulders. Her head was swimming, the mountains blurry. "Schinji!" She cried out, tears bursting from her eyes. She breathed in deeply, locating in her mind where the pain appeared the worst in her torso. Despite the light armor she was wearing, her body did not handle the crash well. The cantrils were leaking blood from the sharp edges embedded in her palm. Her shoulders were relocated but aching. She was pretty sure she broke her foot and a couple ribs, but she did not know for sure.
"Give me an estimate on physical damage, Wēng," she commanded her cantrils. She held out her palms facing her body, agony spearing her arms. A purple light emerged from the cantrils, spreading over her body. She finally could not handle it anymore and let her arms drop painfully to her side. She almost fainted again from the effort but forced her mind to stay alert. She would not die like this. "Give me an estimate, Wēng!" She groaned.
"From most serious to least, you have: internal hemorrhage, two dislocated (now relocated) shoulders, rib fractures on left 7, 8, 9, 10, fractured left clavicle, right lower ulna fracture, one major concussion in temporal lobe, sprained right ankle, three fractured front teeth, mild hypothermia, Bankart labral tears on both sides." She laughed, then cried out in agony.
"Thank you, Wēng. Sleep now." The cantrils purred and turned off. She leaned back onto the cliff she was sitting against, breathing deeply. "OK, Pyat, you have to do this." She pulled her light armor and clothing off her body and examined the blossoming bruises against her pale skin. Pyat ripped her underarmor into long, thin shreds. She broke off a thin metal sheet from her hoverboard, placed it against her wrist, and wrapped a piece of cloth around it to stabilize the metal and her wrist. Then, she wrapped another cloth around her ankle, to brace the dislocation. After testing to make sure she could put weight on her ankle, she tucked her legs into her body and rolled forwards. She landed on her feet, her right ankle screaming in pain, but working. She stood. She bundled up cloth into a swathe and pressed it against her broken ribcage, gasping. She wrapped another cloth around her waist to hold the swathe in place. Then she immobilized her right arm into a sling, securing her fractured clavicle and dislocated shoulder. Her left arm, she left alone, for she needed some sort of mobility. Pyat limped in the direction of the buildings on the horizon.
After a few hours of walking on loose volcanic gravel, Pyat found an old highway leading towards the city. Unlike her island, there was a surprising lack of farmland around the city. The Academy was surrounded by agriculture, but this city’s surroundings were devoid of any life. The 2130 Top Soil Wash must have wiped out any viable land for growth this far north. Pyat wondered how the people here ate, especially as a Contested Territory, it was a wonder who they were receiving supplies from. Pyat could see the signs of battles fought here. The basalt was marked with ash, much newer than any volcano could have produced. Bombs of some sort had been dropped on the small island.
The soldier limped on the road, hardly passed by a single car, across the desolate landscape. In what felt like less time than a blink, she was suddenly enveloped by slums on the outskirts of the city. Small huts constructed on the sides of larger apartments buildings surrounded her as the highway she was walking on turned into a street. As most of her assignments were in the Indo-Chinese Union, due to her apparent race, she was used to crowds of people. What disturbed her more was the lack of attention. The air got increasingly denser, still polluted from some use of fossil fuels, as she wove her way through the shanty towns into a wealthier part of the city. In the slums, people looked at her with some suspicion and concern, due to her dismal condition. Here, though, people passed by her without so much of a glance, typing away at their palms and talking adamantly in a language she did not recognize into their air-masks. Their cantrils were different than hers—larger, clumsier, and separated from their bodies. She stared at several as they walked by. If someone looked at her, they avoided eye contact, likely thinking she was a beggar.
Pyat could not breathe, suggesting the Icelandic were still heavily dependent on pollutants to run their cities. Worse, her makeshift splints that she constructed from broken hoverboard and clothing were not going to keep her together much longer. The air was cold and muggy, yet her body felt like it was on fire. She needed to get to a hospital.
"Wēng, wake." Her cantrils buzzed on and the monotone voice returned to her ears.
"How can we help you?"
"Turn on Translator. And where is the nearest hospital?" Pyat growled, her voice laced with pain. Her vision was fuzzy—the adrenaline had left her system and now her concussion was taking over. An image of a large, black building with the word "Sjúkrahús" on it appeared in front of her, and then the path to get there appeared on a map of the city.
"1.207008 kilometers away. Turn left." She turned down the nearest alley and continued to follow Wēng’s directions. After what felt like hours, the building from the picture appeared in front of her. Her cantrils translated the sign to read, "Hospital." Her entire body almost collapsed with relief as she reached the front of the building. Then, it did. Her ankle stopped supporting her and she crumpled by the door. "Help!" She cried, though a different word left her lips in a robotic tone.
Hands clasped her sides and lifted her off the ground, moving her onto a soft surface. A face appeared above hers. Blonde hair, blue eyes, the face morphed into a woman’s face, and she was staring at Pyat. "Hvað er rangt?" The cantrils were not synced up yet, so they took several seconds to translate. What's wrong?
"I crashed." Ég hrundi.
"Ég get annast þig," the woman smiled reassuringly. I can take care of you. The woman's eyes vibrated slightly as her cantrils scanned Pyat's body. A warmth spread through Pyat's aching body, then paranoia. She had no choice but to let this backwards country hospital help her.
"Thank you," Pyat said, and heard her cantrils translate: Þakka þér. She closed her eyes and gave into sleep.
The man put a warm, wet cloth over her eyes. "How do you feel, qīn'ài de?" She shrugged, coughing into his shirt. "Come on, Shest, I know you're faking it so I won't give you lessons today." Shest grinned at her father past the cloth.
"Daddy, please, I don’t want to." She wiped her nose and coughed dramatically. "I'm so sick, can't I just skip lessons today?" She smiled mischievously. He stroked her hair, disbelief and affection lining his eyes.
"Don't be so bratty, Shest, it doesn't fit you," He laughed and squeezed warm water onto her face. She squealed in surprise and leapt at him. He picked her up and threw her back onto her mattress. The springs dug into her back, but she continued to push back at his chest. He grabbed her wrists and shoved them onto the mattress. Then, he tickled her small stomach.
"Daddy, I can't breathe!" Dyesi cried, screaming with laughter. She could feel him chuckling on top of her. “Daddy!" He stopped suddenly and stood straight up. She sat up and stuck her thumb in her mouth. “Daddy?” Her father looked at her with empty eyes, stood up and walked out the door, his entire body stiff. Shest crawled out of bed, following him into the living room. Her mother, a beautiful, dark haired woman, was sitting working on a paper. She looked up at her partner and smiled. Then, she caught his eyes.
“Tank?” Her mother queried. He walked up behind her, placed his hands on her head, and twisted. Shest stared, holding her thumb in her mouth the whole time. Her father left, but her mother stayed.
Shest walked through the apartment, shouting for her father. The dust in the house was overwhelming, and for some reason it was getting thicker. The walls began to crumble around her, the cement floor melting underneath. She cried out for her father, more scared than she had ever been in her short life. She turned, suddenly facing a mirror. Her face was caleidoscoping into a dozen other faces, all screaming.
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