Svetlana's eyes, a bright, sky blue, remained fixed on Elenya, even as the other men showed up. At this point, if they were hostile, then Svetlana would be perfectly happy to greet them and, hopefully, die by their hand. It was a different hope from what Elenya had, but when they reached the two women and lowered their weapons, the woman under the rubble was disappointed. She'd seen the other woman consider shooting her for a moment, considering whether or not to fulfill her wish. When Elenya chose not to and spoke, there was a sadness in Svetlana's eyes.
"I don't think I'll make it," she murmured, but she tried to smile. Tried to let the gesture seep into her voice, but she failed. The pain had grown numb by now, and it didn't hurt quite as much as it had before. Maybe dying this way wouldn't be so bad. She heard, but didn't quite comprehend Misha's acknowledgment that together, they could likely dig her out of the debris, but when they began to work on it, the three of them would be more than enough, even for the largest bit of concrete piled onto her.
The closer they got to the rubble directly on her body, the more blood that became visible, and when they finally cleared it off the young woman, they'd see that her legs were completely crushed. Bone, sinew, blood, and more lay beneath her. The pressure of the detritus being removed reignited the pain Svetlana felt as cool air rushed over the wounds. She cried out, but there were no words among those cries.
Her chest heaved as she drew in lungfuls of air, unaware that it might very well be poisoned. Her hands reached not for the men, but for Elenya--she was the first one that had arrived, and she had a brother that was a doctor. She felt the smallest rays of hope dawn within her.
By time Elenya found Svetlana, the poor woman was panting with labored breath. She'd managed to free her upper body from the rubble, but she wasn't able to clear it from her legs. Svetlana's head swam, dizzy with the loss of blood. Worse, she knew deep down that her suit had been punctured and she worried about whether or not she was being exposed to radiation or some other toxicity in the air. The thought horrified her, but there was nothing she could do. Her head turned, blue eyes peering out from behind the mask and settling on the other woman as she laid back down, exhausted and hopeless.
"It's all wrong," she groaned. If Elenya looked at her face long enough, if she looked past her mask, she might realize that Svetlana's face was familiar, as if they'd crossed paths before--it wasn't exactly impossible, considering both women were from the Red Line. A low groan pulled itself form her lips. Blood and tears stained her face, a rock having struck her head. She wasn't aware of her headwear being torn, nor the blood that oozed from it. Her eyes fluttered and drifted closed, her head turning to the side.
"It hurts," she whispered, almost inaudibly. She could hear shouting from up above, more people--men from the sound of it--coming in their direction. She prayed they weren't someone that was going to kill them; Svetlana didn't want to die. She wanted to get to Polis and start her own life. Perhaps even meet someone. There were things she desired, things that would help her cope with the state of the world, but they weren't hers right now. She forced her eyes opened, turning her head to look at Elenya again. Her features looked drained, and the tiredness that came with encroaching death whitened her already ashen features. "Please... Stop it. Stop the... the pain...."
She shoved herself up suddenly, finding one last bastion of adrenaline within her small body. Her hands clawed at the rocks, gloves already torn and warn through from dragging against ragged edge of brick. Her fingers bled, but she managed to push another medium sized chunk of concrete off of her. Then came a loud groaning noise, as if the building had developed its own voice and ached--no yearned--to be free of the its molding. The concrete and bricks shifted, more rolling downward from the collapsed ceiling. The chunks that were crushing her legs shifted, digging deeper into flesh and finding more bone.
"Aaaaah!" she cried out, the force of her scream ripping through the air as she reached desperately for Elenya. "Do you... have a gun? I don't... I don't... want to go like this... please!" Tears rolled down her cheeks, gathering inside the mask.
A portion of the building, they might eventually find, had caved in, and the corner was dark enough that without a light, nothing could be seen. Svetlana had no business there; in fact, she was supposed to be repairing weapons, making sure they were properly cleaned and oiled after use, but those that went above simply were not bringing back enough oil. Or if they were, she wasn't seeing any of it and thus wasn't able to do her job. Perhaps she'd be scolded--not being at the station meant a lack of production--but in the end, she'd have done what was necessary. Only, Svetlana didn't foresee the trouble she'd get herself into.
She lay under the debris, unable to free herself. Unaware as to whether her gear was punctured, she was terrified. The woman heard footsteps up above. Several more than she expected, actually. She drew her lower lip into her mouth, digging her teeth into it. A moment later she grimaced as her mind raced. Screaming might get her help, or it might be her death. She didn't know what kind of people were in the apartments above, just as she didn't know how sturdy the upper floors were. She'd fallen from the third, if she remembered correctly, but it was a blurry thought at best. Pain ripped through her right leg, which lay twisted under several beams and bricks.
If she did nothing though, she'd die too. And more painful, agonizing death. It was a choice she had to make, and she had to do so quickly. She tried to shove some of the rubble of of her, but all she did was succeed in sending a few bits of broken wood and clay away from her. If that's what bricks were even made of. It was enough to make a noise though. And then, deciding whatever fate that alerting the others of her presence might take, she took a chance and cried out.
Her voice sounded muffled, weak. The mask didn't help. She struggled again, managing to pull some of the smaller bits off. It hurt like hell, though She drew a few long breaths, blinking away the stinging sensation that bit at the back of her eyes. Svetlana didn't want to cry, but she also, more than anything, didn't want to die. She valued life, even if she didn't have the best living situation. Someday though, she'd make it to Polis. Her fingers curled around a decent sized rock and she hurled it as hard as she could at the wall. If they didn't hear her yell, then certainly that would get their attention!
"Please, help me!" Or put me out of my misery, she lamented.
Coming to the surface was always accompanied by a set of feelings for Elenya. Gut wrenching, sweat-inducing, heart hammering; the fear always welled up inside her when she neared the surface. She would check and recheck her mask to ensure the straps were properly done, check to see if her filter was screwed on all the way and that his watch was working. Her fingers would dance along the pouches on her belt, reaching in blindly to fumble with whatever was inside to ensure it had not disappeared or fallen through a hole that suddenly appeared. The rifle in her hands would click and clack as she pulled out the magazine, gazing at the shoddily crafted bullets within before returning it to its slot. The firing pin would be pulled back once, twice, maybe even three times to ensure there was in fact a bullet loaded and more that could be loaded should she find herself squeezing the trigger with all her might. Hopefully there would be no need for that, but that fear always made her think that there could be. Fear was good, though. Fear kept you aware, and being aware kept you alive. She always welcomed it when it came and held on to it.
After the fear always came the nostalgia. It was strange to only half-remember the world before it was blown to shit again and again until all that was left was a desolate wasteland plagued by monsters. Elenya would feel a thrum of excitement at feeling the rays of sun - filtered through grey skies of radiation or not - upon her body. Every time she marched up the steps of the nearest subway exit she could feel himself wanting to run out and look for those towering green trees that lined the street. Her mind would create facsimiles of the people she knew, all dressed in clothes not rotted from the passage of time or covered in the grime one always seems to accumulate from living underground. She would picture cars driving down the streets, honking their loud horns at each other as their engines roared with the push of a pedal. It was easy to imagine when birds flew in the sky instead of demons, when humans walked dogs on a leash instead of humans fleeing from watchers.
Of course, that nostalgia was immediately replaced by a sadness. Her boots would scrape against the topside, aged and cracked asphalt broken into chunks separated by cold hard-packed earth and reality would come crashing down. There would be no smiling faces of neighbors waving hello, no sounds of children running with little regard for etiquette and rules; instead there was only an acute awareness of the world around him.
No more time to think of things that once were.
Elenya pulled out an old map, the browned paper crinkling softly under her gloves as she unfolded it. Each surface trip he focused on a certain area to pick through. Last time it was inner city, this time it would be the Dead City. A certain risk level came with coming to this area, more so than other places. Stalkers would whisper about strange happenings here. They would warn everyone to stay away lest they lose their minds to whatever force made this zone perilous to traverse. More than once he had been called crazy for daring to visit for anything, though Elenya had a sneaking suspicion that the reason for these rumors were less about ghosts from the war and more about what there was to scavenge. Spread enough horror stories and it would lessen the people you had to contest with for the treasures that had been left behind.
There were a few items on her list this time around, the usual "anything useful", medicines, preserved foods, tools, weaponry, gear, and something unique. That last one was technically not on the list but it was something Elenya was always interested. Relics of the past that told stories of the beings that lived before the mess of this world were, to her, things to be treasured beyond bullets or a fresh pair of pants. She considered what she might find within these ancient-feeling halls, carefully picking his way down the street. It was a slow process, moving from cover to cover. There were always things to keep an eye out for and it was those who rushed that never made it back home. Elenya took her time, preferring the ritual of attentive travel. Anything was preferable to fighting for your life, best to avoid a situation all together.
A few hours later Elenya made it to the neighborhood she had circled on his map. The broken windows leered at her from the towering buildings. With unease she gazed at them as she crossed the street. It was equally oppressive and freeing for her to enter into a building like this. At least she would be sheltered from the openness of the streets, but Elenya could never shake the feeling that someone or something would always be lurking around every corner. Quietly she entered through a doorway that had long since lost its door. From within her mask he gazed outward, reaching for her flashlight and flicking it on. The beam of light illuminated particles in the air as she shined it around the entryway. Her father had told him of how these buildings contained dozens of families all at once, and they stacked them higher and higher to accommodate the sheer number of people in the city.
"The whole station could live here, each of us with our own room even."
The sound of her own voice startled her and suddenly Elenya felt the need to press herself up against a wall. She squatted behind a counter that faced the doorway, with the stairs to his left. There she listened, straining for even the smallest of creaks or groans.