Her ears ringing from the gunfire, Bodil ran to help Ellie with Gregor. Together they laid the bodyguard flat and, still working together as Bodil’s paramedic training kicked in, they quickly and carefully began to examine the extent of the damage to Gregor’s chest and abdomen.
Ranger Weis, meanwhile, was inching his way down the corridor back towards the generator chamber. His rifle raised and ready but hoping against hope that there were going to be no more stalkers waiting for him when he got there.
Hobbes reappeared at the top of the steps, crouched and fearful and ready to bolt. When he took in the scene relief washed through him like a physical thing. His courage began to return as the societal imperative to render medical aid whenever the need arises overcame his personal desire to get away from danger. He descended into the acrid stink of burnt nitrocellulose mixed with the metallic tang of a great deal of spilled blood.
Fortunately for Gregor the ballistic weave of his body armour had held out pretty well against the sharp, serrated claws of the stalker. Unfortunately, the repeated rakes of the creature’s powerful legs had eventually managed to tear through the tough fibres and Gregor’s abdomen and groin had some pretty severe lacerations.
Weis reached the end of the corridor and, after a quick surreptitious glance around the corner to make sure a stalker wasn’t waiting there, he carried out a slow sweep of the one side of the chamber he could see. Then he crossed the corridor and did the same for the other side and finished with the centre of his attention firmly focused on the top of the steps where the four stalkers had appeared.
Although her hearing was slowly starting to return Bodil was still startled by the sudden appearance of the field archaeologist at her side. While she and Ellie used water from their packs to clean the vicious tears on Gregor’s body, Bodil made room for Hobbes so that he could help. Hobbes was trying to talk to her but his words were still muffled so she touched her ear with a bloody finger and then shrugged. Hobbes seemed to get the message as he nodded and began to remove his own pack.
While Bodil cleaned, Ellie gently pressed here and there across Gregor’s abdomen while watching the giant’s face for any additional sign of discomfort. Her biggest fear was damage to any internal organs. The largest and deepest wounds were in the area of the gut and deep damage here could mean peritonitis and the accompanying and rapidly fatal onset of septic shock. If her probing produced any sudden signs of acute pain then she would have to consider possible exploratory surgery.
Hobbes had taken out and opened his medkit. After checking Gregor’s pulse and blood pressure he began to look for signs of hypovolemic shock whilst trying to hide his own fear and reassure the injured man the best he could. Not an easy task with Gregor being able to hear yet but he hoped his reassuring smile was not coming across as some kind of terrified grimace.
Still surveying the generator chamber and being watchful of the way the stalkers had come in Hobbes reloaded the spent rifle round. After his panicked sustained burst against the last stalker the indicators on the sides of the twin 7.6mm drums showed him that they were now only about a third full. Cursing under his breath he hoped he would live long enough to suffer Sergeant Glasser’s wrath for wasting ammo.
To Ellie’s relief she finished her examination without causing the big lummox further pain. Though it still didn’t mean that he hadn’t suffered internal injury it was a good sign. Sound was returning to her world too, which meant it would be for the others. She touched Bodil’s arm.
“We need to get him bandaged up so that we can move him.”
They both turned to their packs for their own medkits and Hobbes, whose ears weren’t affected in the least, added his own supply of bandage foam. Looking down at the cleaned but still bleeding wounds he hoped it would be enough.
It was, but only just. Which meant they now only had Gregor’s and Weis’ supply of bandage foam should any need for it come up on the journey back up the tunnels.
Gregor’s whole middle was swaddled in the rapidly drying antiseptic foam bandage. Ellie used components from her’s and Hobbes’ medkits to snap together a multi-purpose actuator. With another squirt of the foam she attached the actuator to the bandage. Bodil had already taken out a small spray can from her own kit and was holding it ready.
“Mind your eyes.” Ellie intoned. Hobbes and Gregor looked away.
Bodil held a coloured plastic film up to her eyes. Ellie then squeezed the actuator and the foam bandage began to turn translucent as the ultraviolet light producing chemicals activated. Bodil immediately sprayed the foam with black medical paint until she could no longer see the UV through the film eye shield.
Ellie and Hobbes then helped Gregor into a sitting position. Thankfully Gregor did no more than grunt in mildish discomfort, meaning that the set foam bandage was doing its job of holding the wounds closed. Ellie held Gregor’s head in her hands and looked into his face.
“Greggie? Do you think you can walk? Don’t you dare lie to me, now. If you need time we can wait.”
Gregor managed a wan smile.
“I can walk. I’ve had worse babysitting the kittybrat.”
They helped him to his feet and when he was on his feet Gregor gently pushed them away. He took a deep breath and stood upright. Ellie, Bodil and Hobbes hovered around him with arms outstretched, ready to rush in to give him support if he needed it. Once upright Gregor let go of the breath he had been holding. He held out a hand.
“Get my pistol.”
Bodil retrieved it from next to the body of the stalker whose neck Gregor had broken. She passed it to him but Gregor waved it away with a grunt.
“You keep it. You be a bodyguard okay?”
Ellie watched, nodding. She took out her own pistol and passed it to Hobbes.
“Here Mister Hobbes. I hope you are less dangerous with this than I am.” Hobbes took the pistol and looked at it for a few seconds before jamming it into the waistband of his once clean trousers. Ellie put her arm around Gregor’s middle. “I’m going to be too busy looking after the world’s biggest baby.”