The marines ran down the hall at full speed.
Having exited the hive, their boots clunked heavily on the hard metal of the corridor and their armor rustled as they moved.
While the rotten egg smells had gone, there was a now a bizarre scent of anti-septic cleaner that had been overwhelmed by the stench of blood and excrement. The results of the fighting. It covered more of the walls and floor than any of them cared to think about.
Cecilia clung tightly to Gordo as they went.
To her amazement, he never tired. He was like a statue of man and muscle and determination. Even with her in his arms, he never even seemed to slow and he always stayed in the center of the seven other marines.
A precious package protected on all sides.
"How long, corporal?" the woman yelled as they ran.
"Two minutes, Sergeant Raynor!" another man shouted in return.
A screeching roar echoed through the hall and the beast that it came from was almost instantly blown away; the echoing booms of five pulse rifles exploding all around her. She tried weakly to cover her ears, but they had barely recovered from their last onslaught and the jackhammer thuds made less difference than before.
The monster made a single heavy thud followed shortly by an undignified squelch as one of the marines ran through its remains.
"Right here!" the corporal shouted.
They turned hard and barreled down the way at top speed. It was only then that Cecilia realized that the constant klaxon that she had expected to hear was now fading. It was replaced with something else.
There were screeches and roars and the occasional boom of a pulse rifle, but the echoing sounds of people quickly grew louder and louder. The sounds of congregation. Of panicked people talking quickly. Of babies crying and people shouting and the sounds of people hurriedly shuffling about.
"Private! Report!" Raynor yelled.
"Civvies are boarding now, Sarge."
"The hell took so long? We're supposed to be leaving."
"Took those techies longer than expected to put the hunk of junk back together. Was supposed to be decommissioned, ya know."
"So I keep hearing." Raynor growled through her teeth. "There's a little medbay on the shuttle right?"
"Five minutes more." another marine yelled.
Raynor slapped Gordo's arm.
"Alright, Gordo. Get her on the ship. Hawk. Follow them and give her a once over."
"Sir." a female marine responded.
"We'll hold the line while the rest of them get loaded. Be ready to drop what you're doing if we have another wave of these assholes make a break for it. I think they know what's coming."
"Sir." Gordo said in confirmation before dropping his voice to a slightly more gentle tone. "Alright, little lady, let's get you some painkillers."
Cecilia whimpered in response and felt tears begin again. This time it wasn't pain. It was joy. Raw and unmitigated, she felt entirely grateful for the huge man holding her and the men and women around her who promised to fight to the last breath to keep her safe.
Gordo and Hawk made for the ship.
She felt them shoving past people. More than a few of the other passengers barked and guffawed for a moment, but quickly silenced their complaints as Gordo and Hawk pushed their way through. They were all panicked, talking rapidly and easy to upset, but no way were they going to pick a fight with the marines. Certainly not marines carrying an injured civilian.
Soon they were through the shuttle and Hawk was closing the door to the medbay while Gordo gently placed her on the table. The fear and chatter quickly dimmed as Hawk latched the door.
"Easy, girl. We got you." he crooned reassuringly.
"Thanks Gordo." Hawk said as she approached Cecilia.
"No problem." he responded before softly taking Cecilia's hand in his own gargantuan paw.
"Alright, honey." Hawk said in a quiet tone. "Talk to us."
"Cec...cecilia..." Cecilia offered weakly.
"That's good. Your name's Cecilia?"
Cecilia nodded in response.
"Alright Cecilia, my name is Private Juliana Hawk and the big guy who carried you here is Private Romero Gutierrez."
"They call me Gordo." he offered with a soft chuckle and a hand squeeze.
"Only cause you're so fat." Hawk said sarcastically.
"Ha! My old CO tried to make me run once." Gordo snarked before leaning down close to Cecilia's ear. "Once."
Cecilia giggled a little at the dumb joke and immediately doubled over in pain. Her voice escaped in a half scream but the two marines were there to hold her.
"Easy sweetie. We got you. Relief's coming." Hawk said. "Don't move."
She felt a prick in her arm and, at once, a wash of euphoria, numbness, and just a hint of nausea ran through her whole body. It spread from her arm to her stomach and up the back of her neck to her head just as her fingers began to tingle.
Cecilia let out an audible moan as her entire body physically relaxed.
"There ya go." Gordo said with a laugh. "That's the good shit, ain't it?"
"Mmmyea." she moaned softly.
"It's alright, you're safe." Hawk said reassuringly with a soft touch to her hand. "We're gonna do some tests. Scans and such to make sure you're not bleeding out on us inside. But first I need to know, did they do that to you?"
"Do wha?" Cecilia asked drearily through the haze of drugs.
"The aliens. Did they do that to your eyes?"
"Eyes? What about my eyes?" she asked, reaching up tentatively tentatively to make sure they hadn't been plucked out.
Hawk quickly took her hand.
"They're still there. You're ok. I'm going to guess you were blind before all this happened?"
"Blind?" Cecilia confirmed with a half of a nod. "Blind."
She waved a hand in front of her eyes and made a rude noise with her lips before saying, "No lights on."
Cecilia could hear both of the marines audibly sigh in relief.
She let out another moan as a fresh wave of drugs bounced around inside her brain. Those same silvery gray eyes slid shut.
She could hear Hawk talking and she could feel Gordo holding her hand, but it didn't register anymore. She felt the shudder of the ship as it roared to life and a soft lurch as the ship left its dock. It didn't matter though.
The drugs were too powerful and she was too weak at this point. And, more importantly, she was safe.
She was going to be ok.
Cecilia slipped away into a deep, dreamless sleep.
She was safe.