The Great Escape
Tina sat in the black van, restlessly drumming on the steering wheel as she kept a keen eye for potential threats. Glancing in the rearview mirror, she adjusted her Snow. Corp baseball cap making sure it cast a shadow over her injured eye. Her scars were far too conspicuous, one of the reasons she was stuck in the parking garage while Troy and Gomez were extracting her sister. She reached over nervously to the passenger seat, checking the charge on the device there. 100% the display read. Good. Now all she could do was wait.
“Are you ready?” Gomez asked the injured woman lying before her.
“For what? To die again? Not especially. But if your leader think this is the only way... Let’s get this over with.” Mari made sure not to refer to Tina by name as the doctor was unaware how deeply connected the two women truly were.
Gomez hesitated for just a second as she lifted the loaded needle to the woman’s I.V. There was something so familiar about Mari yet she couldn’t seem to place it. The woman’s voice, her face, somehow she knew her.
She realized with a start that she had been staring and quickly shook her head to clear it giving the woman a thin smile before responding.
“Sorry. I don’t usually do extractions... or, um , stop people’s hearts..” Gomez whispered in a hurried explanation. Mari gave her a small smile in return.
“That’s okay. Until recently, I didn’t die this much.”
Gomez gave a nervous laugh at the woman’s attempt to set her at ease. Here she was about to stop this woman’s heart and smuggle her out in a body bag yet her patient was trying to reassure her. Part of her was drawn to Mari, as if they had already met somehow, established a rapport. Gomez inserted the needle and met Mari’s eyes.
“Deep breathes, okay? It’s going to burn going in...” She told her with a grim expression. “Then when you wake up, hopefully you’ll be far away from here.”
Mari nodded before grabbing the doctor’s arm, hastily. “Thank you. No matter what happens, thank you for try-...”
Mari gasped as a burning sensation spread up her arm and it into her chest before her world erupted in pain! She jerked off the bed, the movement pulling viciously at her newly healed skin as she choked and gasped.
Gomez watched the display, heard the monitors going wild before Mari fell limp on the bed. When the monitor announced Mari’s flat line, the doctor jumped into action pretending to resuscitate her.
“What happened?!” The guard burst into the room, panic written large on his face.
“She flat-lined! Get help!” Gomez pointed him back towards the door just as Troy rushed in dressed as a nurse. “Get that tray and bring it here!” She ordered Troy.
He quickly brought the directed items to the bedside where Vasquez filled a large needle to the brim before plunging it into Mari’s chest! To anyone else it would have appeared to be a shot of adrenaline to jumpstart Mari’s heart, in reality it was a concoction designed to flush the other drug from the wounded woman’s system so she could be resuscitated later. Troy glanced at his watch.
9 minutes left.
Their window to resuscitate Mari without permanent damage was rapidly closing.The lieutenant quickly raised the bars on Mari’s bed and began pushing it out the door to an elevator; all the while Gomez sat atop Mari’s chest administering CPR.
It wasn’t just for show; she had to keep blood pumping to Mari’s vital organs while she was in arrest. The guard came back around the corner as the doors to the elevator were closing.
“Operating Room 2!” Troy yelled to the harried guard, seemingly indicating their destination.
Once the doors closed, Gomez hopped down and began removing any and all medical devices from Mari before she helped Troy zip the woman up in a black coroner’s bag, transferring her body to a waiting gurney.
As soon as the doors reopened, Gomez exited and headed left while Troy pushed the gurney right, towards the morgue. Once inside he informed the medical examiner that the body was property of Snow Corp. and he had specific orders to deliver it to the van outside. He presented the annoyed old man with flawless forgeries of official transfer documents then wheeled the gurney out to the waiting black van.
When she saw Troy approach,Tina hopped out and helped him load the gurney, keeping her face neutral as if this were just another pickup. Sure the coast was clear, both she and Troy hopped back in and roared the van to life. Tina passed her lieutenant the baseball cap and jacket she wore before climbing in back to assist Gomez who had slid into the van unnoticed.
The pair unzipped the black bag as Tina handed the defibrillator to the young doctor. She locked eyes with Tina before rubbing the paddles together, holding them above Mari’s chest.
“Here goes nothing...” She muttered. “Clear!”
The paddles slammed into Mari’s chest before the current had her lurching off the gurney. She slumped back, still and unresponsive. Tina tried not to panic. Gomez adjusted a few knobs on the machine then prepared to go again.
“Clear!” She yelled again even though it was only the three of them in the van.
Troy tried to focus on keeping the van on the road but was shaken by the desperation in the doctor’s voice. It had to have worked. Mari lurched upward again yet settled without signs of life.
No. They timed it. They did everything right.
“Again.” Tina ground out, wild determination in her eyes. “Hit her again. Please.”
Gomez nodded before turning the machine up as high as it would go. If a charge this size didn’t bring Mari back...
Without a second thought she slammed the paddles against Mari’s chest! The injured woman arched so far off the gurney that Tina flinched when she came back down. The silence was thick in the van as they waited, and waited, and waited...
Tina broke down first.
“NO. Dammit, Mari! Wake up! You have to wake up!”
Tina slammed a fist against her sister’s chest, then another. Over and over she pounded on Mari’s chest as she cried tears of grief, of guilt, of the pure sorrow borne from the loss of her sibling, the other half of her heart. Troy stared at the road ahead in despair as he listened to Tina unravel. Gomez sat off to the side, glaring at her hands as if they had betrayed her.
How had she miscalculated?
Eventually, Tina ran out of steam and collapsed atop her sibling with a whimper, clinging to Mari’s rapidly cooling body. The only sounds in the cramped cabin were sorrowful whimpers Tina emitted ever so often until ... a jagged moan escaped from their patients’ lips as life poured back into Mari, followed by a string of painful coughs and stuttering breathes!
“Mari?” Tina shot upright and scrambled back in alarm! With disbelieving eyes, she reached out for her sister. Trembling fingers barely touched her injured sibling.
“Tina...” came the ragged response, though Mari’s eyes remained squeezed shut in pain. A sharp cry tore through Tina as she fell upon her sister, kissing her tenderly.
“I’m here. I’m here, Mari. We’re going home. You’re going home.” She told her sister as she wept quietly, her forehead pressed to Mari’s in an effort to offer some form of comfort.
Troy nearly slumped over the steering wheel in relief when he heard the injured twin take that first breath. Gomez pulled her medical bag over and quickly began examining Mari to see if their stunt had caused any more damage to the woman’s injuries. She gave Mari a shot for the pain surely caused by her CPR and resuscitation before checking the woman’s wounds. All Mari’s stitches had thankfully held and to everyone’s relief, no one was pursuing them.
Tina met Gomez’ eyes across the cabin and when the doctor gave her an affirmative nod, she lifted her sister’s head into her arms, cradling her gently. She kept kissing the other girl, tenderly stroking her face. Mari was weak but managed to grip her sister’s arm in response. Gomez watched the scene before her, overwhelmed that she had been able to save her commander’s friend.
She watched quietly as Tina continued to cradle the other woman against her, unable to stop touching her, overcome with emotion. Indeed, to the doctor it seemed like the women were more than friends. In fact, from a certain angle, the two women looked quite similar. Like they could be related. Possibly siblings or...
“TWINS!” The doctor gasped startling everyone in the van. She pointed at Tina before shouting, “She’s your twin!”
Tina said nothing, confirming the doctor’s suspicions without a word. But something else nagged at the doctor. She’d never known Tina had a sister yet Mari had seemed eerily familiar. Gomez looked to Troy for answers.
“We couldn’t tell you.” Troy met her eyes in the rearview mirror. “There are a lot of people on the base who wouldn’t be happy about Mari coming home.”
“Why, because she’s in Snow’s army? Because she got hurt?” Gomez glanced at Mari once more, noting the location of her injuries, the timing, her height, build and affiliation with Snow. When it hit her, anger swelled inside Gomez like a firestorm. “Goddamit!”
Tina clutched her sister tighter, placing herself between Gomez and the gurney. She wasn’t taking any chances as the doctor shook with rage.
“Please hear us out...” She beseeched, trying to keep her voice even.
“Hear you out?! Your sister is Captain Saint, the rebellion’s worst enemy! She has done terrible, horrible things! And you tricked me into helping her!”
Gomez had never felt so betrayed in her life. She had felt a kinship to Mari, thought that perhaps she and the woman might have even been friends. But now, knowing who she was, what she represented... the very thought made the doctor sick.
“Doctor...” Mari rasped from her position against Tina’s chest. “Please.... you don’t... you don’t understand...”
Mari was struggling to remain conscious enough to plead her case, yet the afternoon’s events were rapidly sapping her of any strength she had left. Tina wrapped her arms more securely around her in an effort to comfort her sister despite the accusations being flung their way.
“It’s okay. It’s okay Mari, I’ll tell her.” Tina cooed as her sister drifted into unconsciousness. “I’ll make her understand.”
Mari nodded weakly before going still. Tina laid her back down gently on the gurney, turning to face the livid doctor. Vasquez stared her down, hate-filled eyes darting between the gurney and Tina unsure of whom she despised more.“Well?” she demanded, arms crossed and posture rigid. “This better be good...”