Will hunched cursing over Liam’s body. Kit held his arms while Martin cut the shirt away from the wound. It was finicky work, since the cloth had burned into the flesh. But they’d all gotten plenty of experience handling plasma burns over the past years. Luckily, this was only a corona burn, no deeper than the muscle. If it had gotten into the bone, Will would have died. As it was, he would just wish for death. “Can you walk?” Martin asked.
“Check the Java,” Martin told Kit. “See were they carrying a medkit.”
Kit sent Avi to do that, while she and Martin discussed treatment options. Martin measured the area of the burn by eye. It was an elaborate formula for how likely someone was to survive a plasma injury. He thought Will was safely inside the range, even if he was on the skinny side. Better nourished people did better. Well, that was always the case. Beyond the perimeter of the burn, the welted scars from whippings Will had taken in his field days glinted under the milky light of the big moon. That moon edged Martin’s anxiety. They needed gone from here.
Dallas and Naz dragged Liam off into the trees, to cut out his chip and hide his body. Hill-country contracts cut their out chips when they ran, but Liam had still been under contract, technically, like every cot at Rocky Point Academy, which meant his chip was live. If they left it in, when Julian Full Security came down to investigate this site, they’d locate him by it. Then everyone was fucked.
Avi brought the medkit.
“You’re in luck,” Martin told Will, locating a box of patches as he rifled through it. He stripped off two Opix to tuck against Will’s throat. Will jerked away and glowered, dozy with pain. Martin gave the box to Kit. “If he can walk,” Martin said, “you need to move out.”
“Do you think I need your shitting advice, fancy-boy?” Will demanded.
Martin stood and got Kit to come with him out of the rocks. “We should clear some of the hostages,” Martin told her.
Kit chewed the edge of her lip, looking down to where Ivy stood watch over the hostages. Counting Lord Naoko, it was two women and three men.
“Will’s gone slow you enough. Five’s more’n you need. Clear the women.”
Martin set his teeth. “Fine. Clear the men except for Naoko. He’s all you need anyway. But the women would be better. They’re holder bits, you have no idea how helpless they are. Ain’t half an hour before they start whining. Clear them.”
“I ain’t,” Kit said stubbornly.
Martin growled. “You fucking tool. You think any of them would shed one tear for you, if Security had the gun at your neck?”
“Why not just leave them behind? Leave them here. Why not?”
“So they can tell Full Security everything about us? That’s a fine plan.” Martin kicked at the loose rocks on the road. They were spending time they did not have – any minute the sky would fill with helos, and they would all be meat. “How in shit did Security get past you, anyway? What was that? You were meant to stop them at the bridge.”
“They got past us.”
“Yes, I see that. How?”
“In shit it matters how?”
Martin gathered himself to expostulate further, except Twain, at the foot of the rock fall, spoke up: “It was my fault.”
Martin looked down at him. Twain was his crew, brought over from Rocky Point. He looked scared, and even younger than he was. Martin saw he had been wounded, too. Dark blood stained his jacket sleeve.
“One of them shot at me,” Twain said miserably. “I ducked, and, and I forgot…I ain’t know. I didn’t forget, exactly. I let them past me.”
Neither Kit nor Martin spoke. Then Kit shoved ragged curls from her eyes irritably. “We don’t have time for this.”
“What if I take the extra hostages with me?” Martin said. “The women, and both the men? You take Naoko, and--”
“Because I’m an idiot? Because I don’t know shit about you, Martin Eduardo?”
Martin laughed, unable to help himself.
“We’ll take the hostages,” Kit said. “If they ain’t keep up, we’ll ditch them in the trees. You get your crew together and get out of here. Is it?”
“All right,” Martin said amiably, and went the rest of the way down the rock fall in a skidding, bounding jump.