Awen: Tongue of Flame

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'The last time I checked, many of the flare shelters were still under construction.' Jensen confirmed.

Kelly's jaw fell. 'You're telling me that those idiots chose to build housing over shelters? Not to complain too much, but I prefer to keep my insides, on the inside.' she chuckled.

'After Captain Dares left the landing site, never to be seen again, things changed. Priorities must have slipped.' Jensen said. The tale had the makings of a real ghost story.

'Enough, Isabelle Sharpe is still back there. At least she sent out a warning. Kelly pass me that map will you?' Hal asked.

Kelly didn't hesitate at all, scrambling to climb inside of the wagon. Painstakingly searching for the map, she found that the vehicle's numerous interior compartments were tremendously difficult to navigate.

At long last, she finally found it, and Hal opened up the over-folded map frantically, shaking his head. He stared at it in disbelief. 'There've been fourteen flare shelters built worldwide out of fifty, Fourteen! There isn't one close by either. Our only option is to find ourselves some form of cover out here.' he concluded, glancing around.

Swiftly dragging his fingers across the map, Hal's eyes were tiring rapidly, as he blinked away tears of desperate concentration. They were all out of time.

'Over there, that's our only option; it is approximately four miles away from where we are though. The road's not even finished yet though, so we'd better get moving!' Hal said sighing. There was no telling of how much time they had left to get to safety.

'This is all well and good Hal, but my wife and kids are still back at the holiday camp!' Jensen roared, the hoarse sounds not quite managing to escape his throat.

The holiday camp was an ideal location for children to enjoy a little recreation. Back on Earth, there were parks and countless other forms of entertainment; this, however, was an underdeveloped planet. Whilst people like Jensen and the others worked a day in and day out to build humanity a new home, their families needed a little something for themselves.

'I'd say that you shouldn't worry Jensen, but that would be a load of crap, and you know it. The communications are going haywire, but a phone call is better than nothing. Your family are too far away from us; it will be safer for them to find another shelter.' Hal declared reluctantly.

'You're right, I'll call them.' Jensen sighed, shaking his head in defeat. Racing over to activate the communications terminal, he stumbled, and his trembling hands were fumbling with the controls. Fear was beginning to take hold.

'It's dialling!' Jensen yelled. He couldn't believe it, as a surreal combination of terror and excitement crept over him.

'{Static} Jensen... we're heading to the Asp... {Static} forty-seven of us, wait, what the hell is that… {End transmission}'.

'Helena, what's happening? Helena! Damn it.' Jensen cried. Horrifying thoughts of losing his family were all that he could think of, and it was tearing him apart.

Kelly could sympathise. Her parents had both died when she was a lot younger, but her brother Kyle remained alive, and with no means of successfully contacting him, she was as lost as Jensen right now.

She placed a firm hand on his shoulder to offer comfort, and he embraced it. This was no time to panic; after all, they may only have precious minutes left to reach some form of shelter. From what Helena had attempted to describe, something terrible was coming.

The vehicle was certainly not built for off-road travel, as if that could matter now. The toxic scent of melting rubber enveloped the wagon in its entirety, as it drifted across to the other side of the road in a desperate manoeuvre.

The sheer force of the relentless turn pinned the others against steamed up windows, and if it weren't for their seat belts cushioning them in place, they would all be roadkill by now.

'Come on, Hal, we have enough to worry about without you trying to kill us too!' Kelly complained.

'Listen up lassie; you want to get to this cave of ours too right?' Hal asked. There was a short pause. 'I thought so, then no back seat driving!' he finished.

Four miles should have only taken ten minutes to traverse, but this journey was taking forever. The concept of time was becoming nonsensical, yet Hal did not take his foot off of the accelerator. With a sudden jolt, he hit the brakes so hard that Jensen's head smashed off of the seat in front, something was happening up ahead.

'What is it this time, Hal?' Jensen asked, shaking off the latest resulting injury from Hal's reckless driving.

'Look!' Hal pointed.

There was a panicked lady jumping, waving her arms frantically in the air by the roadside, something had indeed happened, and they had no choice but to stop.

Breathless panting sounded amidst the hammering of hastened heartbeats, as they came to an abrupt halt, and Hal dove out of the wagon to offer the lady some assistance.

'Please help! It's my little boy; there was a crash. First, our radio started playing up, and then a car hit us head-on. The driver of the car isn't moving, over here.' she beckoned. The lady did not wait for Hal to follow and started sprinting back down the hill toward the crash site.

Black smoke billowed from a deep ravine up ahead, and it appeared to be six or seven hundred yards to the South. Not having to say anything to Kelly and Jensen, Hal noticed that they were already leaping out after him.

'Ah, hell!' Hal yelled. The lady's crumpled car was flipped on to its side, and her child was trapped and not moving. The other vehicle was dangling unceremoniously from an old, once strong cluster of tree roots. Time was not on their side.

They could not access the dangling car, but they could get to the boy. The challenge would be to roll the car back over without hurting the child even further if only they had the tools to do so.

'No time to climb back up to the wagon for tools, I'm going in.' Hal said, demonstrating a level of confidence that he did not feel.

Hal sought to use the broken passenger side window to shimmy his way inside, with the support of the others of course. They would not need to use any heavy-duty cutting tools after all, but they would require a backboard to lift the kid.

'Damn, we don't have a backboard; what we do have is a cargo loading board in the back of the wagon though. It's better than nothing, can someone get it?' Hal asked. Kelly turned without a word and began running back up the hill.

A few minutes later, she returned, out of breath. 'That was steep.' she said, panting.

The loading board was being lowered into the opening of the car; if they were attempting to rescue an adult, things would have been much worse. They weren't out of the woods yet though, the child barely had a pulse, and was breathing shallowly. Trauma to the child's head could mean concussion, and Hal needed to be very careful now.

Rapidly blinking eyes met with soft groaning, as the child started to regain consciousness.

'Easy kid, easy, I know it hurts but we... what the hell is happening now?' Hal cursed.

Gazing reluctantly into the heavens above; he could not comprehend the sight before him.

Combinations of thunderous crashes and red fiery-trails were illuminating the sky. Orange lightning began pummelling the landscape in all directions, and they could feel a cruel warmth dawning. Plumes of thick steam gathered across the top of a nearby stream, and the body of water was already starting to evaporate.

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