Her muscles were weak. Incredibly so. Trying to lift her arm was an effort. Hell, trying to keep her eyes open was a battle unto itself. Her head, she could feel it. Her skull was cracked. She would have shifted the damage away, but her strength was sapped beyond all reason. If she was going to do this, then she needed someone to leech off of. Since what had happened to her was still fragmented, she was careful not to let the nurses know that she had regained consciousness. She was able to control her vitals and brainwaves to keep them in the dark. But she needed someone who could give her what she was looking for. Little did she know, it was coming very quickly.
Gabby was almost running as she made her way to the hospital. If what Oracle had found on her was correct, this wasn’t good. As she got there, she was noticing something about the place – it was rather empty. This was a hospital, right? There were people who worked here, but the average Joe on the street didn’t seem to want to go two steps toward the place. Why? Something was off, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. There was beefed-up security here. Her years as a Runner taught her well. She knew that going in the front door was a bad idea. It was late at night, so the rooftops were a good way to get in. She knew this hospital. Oracle had given her a room number. Using a pipe on the wall, she scaled her way up. After getting to the roof, she got the lay of the place.
Something had happened here. People had gotten hurt. A lot of people. The third floor was almost devoid of people, with only a few nurses working it. There were absolutely NO patients. What the hell is going on?! She made her way along the roof, seeing where there were some machines running, along with IV bags. She knew for a fact that Quinn was on this floor, so it was a good bet that it was her.
She caught sight of a fire-escape a ways away. After making her way to the other building, she ran over to it. She quickly went down a few floors, going inside. Best to stay out of sight, until we can confirm what is happening here. She slipped in, careful to not open the door too wide. That would sound the alarm. She saw an opening into the roof tiles. She wanted to avoid cameras, where possible. She was able to use the metal sections of the ceiling to guide her. For the first time, in a long time, she was back in her element. This was what Runners were made for. They were born to be ninjas.
It was another late night. She could only do minor shifts, but the damage was still present. She needed a body to leech energy out of. As luck would have it, a body would drop down into her room the moment she was thinking about it. It was Gabby! Good! She will work nicely!
Gabby saw that she was awake, running over.
“Quinn, you’re alright!” Her voice was little more than a whisper.
“I am. Gabby, I want you to do something for me.”
The girl was ecstatic. “Name it!”
“Come closer. Close enough for me to hold on to your arm. And I need you to grab the opposite shoulder. Can you do that?”
It was a little weird, but she nodded. She did as Quinn asked. “Alright, what now?”
“I’m going to let you in on a secret. This is going to feel weird, but trust me. I won’t hurt you.”
While nervous, Gabby just nodded.
“Alright, take a deep breath. This shouldn’t take long.”
Gabby did as bidden, bracing herself. Quinn reached out, making sure to touch her skin. She focused her mind, and the shift began. Gabby felt like the life was getting sucked out of her. She got progressively weaker as time went on. Quinn focused the shift on her head. If she didn’t get this skull fracture healed, then she was as good as dead. Her head already felt two sizes too small. She could feel the damage repair, like when one pops their knuckles. It was a very pleasant feeling. Seeing how weak her compatriot had gotten, she stopped.
“Alright, I’ve repaired the worst of the damage to me, and regrew enough muscle tissue to walk. But I can’t do the ninja shit you just did, so we’re going to have to find another way out. One that doesn’t involve people shooting at us.” She ripped the IVs out of her arm, standing up. She tried to stretch, but it hurt.
In a nice bit of irony, their quandary was answered as a nurse came into to check Quinn’s vitals.
Quinn’s eyes immediately started glowing blue. “Hey, you should totally give me your scrubs, then crawl in bed and sleep. Trust me, you need it.”
The nurse looked surprised for all of a second, then just nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. These graveyard shifts are killing me.” She started stripping off her scrubs, handing them to Quinn. Gabby was in awe.
“And I thought that I was good at persuasion.”
Quinn just smiled, shrugging. “Hey, she looked tired enough, and that bed isn’t too terribly uncomfortable.” She slipped into the scrubs, tying the pants to fit. She checked the hallways, seeing that the place was abandoned. “Alright, I know the routes out of here. We’ll take the maintenance elevator to ground level. From there, we can slip out the back and take a car. It might take a few. I may have regrown some muscle, but I’m not doing any running anytime soon. Once we get a car, you drive us to somewhere safe. Alright?”
Gabby stood tall and saluted. “Yes ma’am!”
“Excellent. Let’s go.” The started off.
As they reached one of the desks where some nurses were gathered, they heard them talking.
“So, we’re going to be moving people back to this floor?”
“Yup. Looks like the madness is over! Thank god. I thought that they were going to bring a fucking army in here!”
“For sure. Say, what about that girl on this floor? She have any visitors?”
“No, not for a long time.”
“God, that poor girl. I can’t even imagine. Part of me hopes that she never wakes up. To have to live with that, all alone. I can’t imagine how hard that would be.”
Quinn felt tears come back to her eyes, but choked them down as she walked past. She had Gabby use the ceiling again, until they got past the desk. It felt kind of cool, having a pseudo-ninja watching her back.
They finally got to their destination, as Gabby came back down. They got on board the elevator and she hit the button for ground floor. Neither of them spoke the whole way down. It was easy for her to see that something was hurting Quinn. A lot. But, she said nothing. I think that this is something she has to process on her own.
They reached ground floor and it was much busier here. Good thing they didn’t try this during the daylight hours. The two were close to an employee entrance, which had no security. They made their way out, heading toward the garage. As they got there, a man was fiddling with his keys.
“Hey!” Quinn yelled.
He looked up, startled. “Yes? What is it?!”
Again, her eyes turned blue. “Give us your car! You can take a cab home.”
The man was confused, then tossed his keys, which Gabby caught. “Alright, take good care of it!”
“We will.” She motioned for Gabby to get in. As the door shut, she leaned her head against the window. She was exhausted, already. They started out into the night, eager to be somewhere, anywhere else.
The doctor was up late, working in the lab. She was analyzing a sample of Quinn’s blood. The results came back, and she was almost in shock. “What the hell?!” The analysis revealed something interesting. Quinn’s blood, the system didn’t recognize it as human.
“So, tell me, how is the fight against the Empire going?” Quinn asked, coming back to consciousness.
Gabby got quiet. “It’s going bad. Really, really bad. Without you, the whole thing is falling apart. Black Mask is good at his job, and is doing his best, but you are the glue that holds this together. Last time I was there, they were started to get at each other’s throats. Some of the smaller resistance forces have left. Our commanders are still with us, but it isn’t trending well. The Empire has brought in a fuck-ton of soldiers, vehicles and even airships! We snagged on of our own in the raid on the warehouse base, but it isn’t enough. What’s more, the Specials are back in battle! Word is that all of them are deployed, all over the country.”
That got a dark look from her. So, Emily, you couldn’t be bothered to come see your girlfriend after she gets raped. Some woman you are.
“We kicked a hornet’s nest when we attacked, but as things are, we don’t have a chance! The army we had is scattered and leaderless. The commanders are at each others throats and you are down for the count. What do we do?”
She thought for a moment. Gabby was right. If she had been there before, they would have had a very clear outline for what to do next. She had expected this. But her order of battle was broken. She was unable to command her army.
“And the situation with the National Zone that the new Viceroy talked about?”
That got a dark look from Gabby. “We’re losing public support, fast! Way they see it, we’re not able to win and the Empire is offering them a way out. They want to take it. Don’t got a clear picture on what to do about that, either.”
She nodded again, taking it all in. After everything that had happened to her, this news was less hurtful than everything else.
“Alright, where is the nearest safehouse? I need rest.”
Gabby looked over. “My place. I’ll drop you off, then ditch the car.”
Quinn smiled. “It’ll do. You mind if I stay there for a while? I have more healing to do, after all.”
There was a warm feeling inside of her when she heard that. “Of course! It would be an honor, to have the commander of Winter’s Shadow in my house.”
“Excellent. Now, I have some orders for you to send to the others. Have Oracle gather them. You have to tell them exactly what I say. Our organization’s survival depends on it.”
Oracle did as bidden, telling them to assemble. They were none too happy. It had been almost a month and a half, with no word from Wolf.
“So, do we have ANY idea where she is? Any at all?!” Black Mask demanded.
“I do!” Gabby called out as she got in. All eyes turned to her. “I know where Wolf is. She contacted me.”
Everyone was on the edge of their seats. “So, what the hell happened?! Where the hell has she been?” That thought process was repeated around the room.
Sitting toward the head of the table, she let out a sigh. “Well, you see, the Empire. They got her.”
Everyone was in shock. Deathstroke sat forward. “But you said she contacted you! So she’s not…?”
“She’s alive. But she’s hurt. Bad. They were after a bunch of resistance forces in the ghetto, and she just happened to be there. Bad coincidence, that’s all. In any case, she has been hiding out, getting medical help from someone friendly to our cause. She was out for almost a month, but she reached out to me. And she has orders.”
The group was both nervous and relieved at the same time.
“What orders?!” Aveline demanded.
“We’re to discontinue offensive operations. When Oracle and I filled her in on the situation, she said that the enemy has gained too much ground, and with her unable to get to a place where she can regularly aid us, we have no chance to continue the fight.”
“So what, we’re just giving up?!” Two-Face demanded.
She shook her head. “No, it’s a tactical withdrawal. She said that she had some back-up plans in order, in case something like this happened. ‘It’s not over. We still can do this,’ she said.”
The others nodded. Bane was the first to speak. “Alright then, I defer to her judgment. What’s the plan?”
Two months later, Emily finally got back from the front. For some reason, Winter’s Shadow had disappeared! Strange for those in the top brass, good for her. It meant that she could see Quinn again. She went running to the room where her lover had been, barging in.
“Quinn, I’m back…” She saw that her girlfriend was nowhere to be found. A nurse was passing by. “Nurse, where is the patient who was in here?! A young woman who was sexually assaulted?”
Seeing the uniform, she stopped. “No idea! She just up and vanished! Apparently, it happened in the middle of the night, a couple months back. She knocked out some nurse, took her clothes and left! Puff of smoke.”
She knocked out a nurse?! Baby, where are you?!
She made her way back to the Academy. If she was anywhere, she would be there. At the very least, she knew that she was alive and kicking. That was a great relief all on its own. She was prepared for the worst when she got to Quinn’s room, opening the door. Inside, the room was cleaned out. Emily felt something grip her heart.
“Baby, where are you?! Please, I don’t want to be alone!” Her voice was barely a whisper as she started to cry again.
Until next time, a quote,
“We’re still in this! The gods of war haven’t given up on us yet.” -Admiral Steven Hackett, Mass Effect 3