Siouxsie cradled his head in her arms, desperately willing him to wake up. Summerhawk had finally stopped twitching a minute or so ago, and since then he’d been completely still. Despite the savage nose bleed and the froth around his mouth, he looked almost serene. Siouxsie couldn’t bring herself to accept that he was gone.
It was black and cold and empty. He felt alone in a vast desolate space whose numbing bareness stretched to infinity. Was this death?
Siouxsie felt a wave of sorrow crashing over her like a voracious tsunami. The carnage around her had faded away and become almost inconsequential in comparison to Summerhawk’s prone figure lying in front of her. She eventually realised what had happened: the controlling generator of the h:chip attached to Summerhawk’s skull must have vapourised when the laser struck, causing some sort of electrical surge in his brain. As a result he had a seizure of sorts that had fried him from the inside.
The landscape began to move around him. At first it was imperceptible—he knew the movement by the barest of breezes brushing his face. Everything remained pitch black, but now rather than being stranded on barren steppes, he felt like he was being taken on an endless journey. He wasn’t sure where he had come from or where he was going. Just onwards.
He’d been her protector. Her first friend in a hostile city. He’d invited her into his home, and given her a purpose again. He’d risked his life to help her get out of the city after the attack had started. His very last action had been to protect her with his body when the explosion had gone off. A true gentleboar. Siouxise fought back tears as she searched for words with which to thank him. She wanted to at least tell his inert body what she’d never managed to tell him while he was alive.
He was moving faster. He gently swayed from side to side as though he was crossing a calm lake in a tiny rowboat. But gradually the swaying gave way to a rapid, almost violent motion of a roller-coaster careening through the darkness. With each turn the speed increased and wind rushed past his face with the strength of a gale. He realised he was pinned to his ride, which was now going as fast as a vacuum-train, and with rising excitement he looked forward to what lay ahead.
By now her hind trotters had gone numb beneath her. She’d been sitting, weeping, for what felt like hours. The dust from the lasered city obscured the early morning sun, bathing Siouxsie in an artificial twilight. Siouxsie knew she shouldn’t stay for much longer, but how could she even contemplate leaving him there? She realised she had been stroking his face with her hands. She had wiped away the blood. She thought maybe she should close his eyes. She reached across when suddenly…
As the speed neared escape velocity Summerhawk saw the faintest of pale white lights emerging from the darkness in front of him. The light grew brighter and brighter until he could no longer look directly at it—Summerhawk knew it to be the sun. He willed himself to leave the darkness of oblivion even faster. He was a rocket now, speeding towards the source of life, towards salvation, towards…
…he opened his eyes and looked at Siouxsie. He was back.
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