The Daughters of Ellah are keepers of the Ellah, a star spanning system of collective knowledge of all the member worlds of the Vaelor, are living conduits to the vast knowledge of the Ancients. Through the mating of daughters to the sons of other worlds, each system is bound to the protection and expansion of Ellah--ensuring peace and stability throughout the Galaxy. But not everyone shares in this knowledge. Ancient enemies of the Vaelor have returned to wreak terrible destruction. Ithica, a D
Foley struggled to hold himself steady as he braced. His muscles ached with every agonizing moment, begging for relief from the strain, but he did his best to hold very still. Relaxing his position would mean the beam would slowly shift then collapse under the weight of the rubble above them. As long as he could hold the section of wall in its current position, the space created by the mated pieces of rubble would remain and they both would live. Foley looked down at the woman beneath him. He couldn’t tell very much about her. The cramped, enclosed space remained dark, save for the lights on the front of her suit.
She barely moved, but he could see her chest slowly rise and fall. He concentrated on listening to her steady breaths instead of thinking of his burden. This was an unforeseen circumstance that he could not have calculated in the split second before the cave in. In truth it was no short of a miracle that either of them was alive at all.
"An object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force.”He thought to himself.
The air was thick with dust as the air settled around them. The floor of the space offered little in the way of steady footing, but he’d managed to land solidly after the street gave way beneath them. The floor was a mixture of rubble from the section of building they were under, pavement and gravel. He could make out darkened shapes of significant pieces of rubble as well as broken pieces of office furniture, and wiring, all of which had been part of the section of building they now found themselves under.
He could feel the relentless pressure of the weight above him. There was a possibility that the mass had settled and that if he let go it would stay precariously balanced --but he dared not to risk it. He would brace as long as his body could hold out. He tried to speak, but when he opened his mouth --nothing came out. Speaking was difficult for him. Renata, his minder at the Center, had patiently spent years working with him on speaking the most basic phrases he needed to navigate the world around him. He could only muster enough control for a few sentences at a time, but only when he was very calm and focused.
She stirred. His attention turned towards her as he tried to make out what she was doing. He heard her murmur a little in the darkness. The lights of her suit made it easy to work out her shape, but the unforgiving darkness kept her face obscured by shadow. He trembled more and more with each passing moment, feeling the dull ache in his back and a sharp pain in his side as he tried to remain still. He could feel sweat pouring from his entire body and soaking his clothing from head to toe. The pain he felt was a serious injury, but he couldn't tell how serious. He now knew just how the Titan Atlas must have felt bearing the weight of the heavens. Right now his entire world consisted of the tiny space around the two of them.
She stirred again. He closed his eyes and tried to remember the exercises. He cleared away the weight on his shoulders; he cleared away the smoke and rubble in his mind's eye. He cleared away the smell of dust and ruin and --lilacs? Her smell... She smelled of lilacs. He shook his head again, trying to shake loose the distraction of her scent. Lilacs were his favorite flower. It was difficult, but he managed it. What seemed like ages in fact only took a few moments. He finally spoke.
"Wake up" He said. It wasn't enough. His voice was strained and shallow --barely above a whisper. She wouldn't hear --
She sat upright suddenly, her eyes popping open as if his voice had been thunderous. She turned to him, her eyes enveloped in a rich, iridescent blue glow in the darkness. They seemed to illuminate the fine features of her face, giving him something to focus on. She brought a hand to her lips as if she was discovering that she had them. Her face was a look of puzzlement, fear and wonder as she looked at him.
"Ahema...." She said. There was urgency in her voice.
Foley had no idea what that meant. She continued to look at him, oblivious to everything else. He didn't know if she could understand him or not. He continued his measured breaths while he struggled to form more words.
"Heavy.... Got to brace... Can't hold this. Gggh... Gggh...." He couldn't get more out.
Everything --the weight, the cramped space... was too much. Foley could comprehend complex problems instantaneously. Mathematics. Physics. Spatial Dynamics. It didn't matter his grasp of things was nearly instantaneous. But the doctors told him that a side effect of the way his brain worked, was that it made it difficult for him to use the center of the brain regarding speech without great difficulty. His ability to process many sensory inputs at one time made it difficult to concentrate on one thing at time. He had not actually spoken coherently until his thirteenth birthday.
Since then his mother and Renata had worked with him tirelessly to try to get him to be able to manage simple human speech. Just saying hello could be agonizing for him. After months of analysis doctors could not grasp what was happening to him. They knew that in time he would be able to gain greater control, but at his current age, only a few sentences at a time were all he could muster. Not very useful in his current situation.
"Brrrr... Nnngh. Brra..." He could picture it in his mind, but he couldn’t say it.
Before he had gotten the word out, she had gotten to her knees and was moving about the tiny, encapsulated space. She'd found the remnants of a beam and strained with the weight to bring it upright. She strained again, but it was either too heavy or wedged in place. It was dark and there was too much rubble for her to waste time trying to find anything else.
He looked up at the joining of the two wall sections they were under. Just beyond the joining point, there were parts of the interior bracing that here exposed. If he could lift the section a few centimeters, the opposing section would fall and catch on the jagged edges and be held in place by opposing pressures. He had to risk it.
He closed his eyes again. He needed her to move back to where he was and be still. She turned her head and looked at him, then inched back to a position kneeling just underneath him, her head just inches from his chest. She looked directly at him as if she had heard what he was thinking. He couldn’t get over those eyes. They gave off their own ambient light. It wasn’t reflected off anything –they actually glowed.
He nodded at her, not really thinking that she knew what he was planning to do. She got to one knee beneath him and placed both of her hands on the wall behind him on either side of him. In doing so her face pressed into his chest a little bit, and he felt a momentary flush of embarrassment. He didn’t know how, but she knew he was going to push up and was prepared to help.
He didn't try to jerk. Jerking might dislodge both pieces and cause a final collapse. Instead he pushed up with increasing pressure, willing his muscles to all of their strength. Slowly, ever slow slowly he felt the section they were under move upwards millimeters at first. After what seemed like hours of agony, he felt that slight shift he was looking for. He looked up to see if the jagged edges had indeed caught in the fashion that he'd intended. They had. As he relaxed his grip, he began do disengage himself from the wall. He smiled briefly at the thought of his triumph, but his smile faded and his vision began to blur and he felt himself slipping forward into unconsciousness.
He heard her voice and that word before the darkness closed in around him.