The drum unlocked, rotated and popped into alignment with the next chamber as the enemy’s weapon recharged. He raised the rifle and lined up on his opponent’s forehead. This time, the force was more than sufficient to penetrate. The soldier collapsed in a heap where he stood.
The bullet, he realized, had been preloaded with a flux charge. It had not been a grenade launcher like Nam was creating from his rounds, but it had increased the force of the projectile.
Jack dropped the weapon to one side and hastened to the injured girl. She had passed out, and the reason could only be the alarming quantity of blood soaking the ruins of her tunic below the armpit.
His worry only grew as he cut away enough of it and the silk blouse beneath to reveal the full wound. The only good news was, he heard no bubbling or sucking as she breathed. But at the rate she was losing blood, she would bleed out long before a wound this large could clot.
He had nothing acceptable at hand to use for pressure on the wound, so he stripped off his uniform shirt. Multiple fights over multiple days had covered every square inch of it with bits of vegetation and grime.
He pondered whether the dirt and grass on his shirt or his own sweat on his undershirt was worse, then finally decided that his tee at least looked cleaner. After pulling it off, he spread it and pressed it against the wound, then racked his memory for what else to do. The wound was far larger than a bullet would have made, and his first aid training was failing him.
The mental struggle segued into a strange vision. This wasn’t his intuition this time. It was information flowing into his brain as if he were watching a video, telling him how to use functions in the magic stone inside his chest to address the situation. He didn’t know how he was seeing the vision– it was something different than either his eyesight or his ‘flux-sense’– but the speed with which the blood was soaking into the tee made him desperate. He had to do something, so he followed the instructions.
In immediate response, the tee spread out as if alive, cleaving to the girl’s skin almost as if it had been poured out onto her. A warm glow in his flux sense came from the cloth, which he had the vague sense was due to some manner of antiseptic process, cleansing the wound of invading microbes. His stress began receding as he saw the blood staining the shirt stop growing.
“Muh…” the girl mumbled. For a moment, it seemed she might be waking, but instead, she gave out a slight sigh, as if giving up on the idea, and surrendered to sleep. He put his fingers against her carotid, breathed out his relief when he felt the continuing pulse.
A continuation of the process led him to put his right hand– the one with the ash ‘tattoo’ from Rogan– onto her forehead. Following the directions, that had become incredibly detailed, he initiated a particular function within the stone, and saw her face immediately seemed to relax. Experience dealing with wounded comrades in the Army informed him that she was feeling relief from pain, relief he had somehow just used the stone to grant her.
Just as he had no understanding of where or how he was seeing the visions, he had no physical location for exactly where it was he was ‘seeing’ the instructions, or locating the functions that they were describing to him or how he was initiating them. He simply knew these were acts of his own doing. It felt like playing an FPS on a console, staring at the screen while one’s fingers executed combos without thinking through the steps. It just happened because one’s hands were trained to make it so. It was a feeling like that.
He brushed the hair out of her eyes, and shook his head. Now that he had time to think about it, he had realized that this was a child. Possibly younger than his daughter. A pretty girl who belonged in a classroom somewhere, not here on a forest floor suffering a battlefield wound.
She worked for Rogan somehow. And as Jack had just observed, Rogan and his partner were battle hardened warriors. They seemed to treat such things as just a day on the job. What sort of a world did these people come from?
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