Familiar Surroundings (Part 1)
Location: Wizard Island/Bethany's room
Timeline: Saturday, August 28, 2010/Afternoon
Against the far wall of a small cavern, nearly at the opening, leaned the nurse who had helped her before. There was a certain art to sleeping sitting up without the weight of your head causing you to nod awake repeatedly. It was an art most medical professionals and soldiers had mastered. Abby sat crosslegged, her head turned towards Bethany to take advantage of a small divot in the stone wall that supported her cheek. Unlike the day before she wasn't dressed in scrubs. Rather, she was wearing a thin stretchy cotton robe with what looked like a bikini top underneath. Nothing too revealing, just a simply halter in a metallic green the same color as the green and gold streaks that wove through her hair in their two french braids. Her hair was short enough that the braids left only little stubs that stuck out at the base of her skull, secured with rubber bands.
The girl on the bed groaned softly, her eyes fluttering open, a scowl sitting on her healing face as Bethany recoiled from the feeling that her head was stuffed with cotton. She cursed the morphine as she climbed out of her drug induced haze, then froze. Something was off, something was weird, she could feel it before her eyes even managed to prop themselves open, could smell it in the air, even past the hissing oxygen tube in her nose. There was something distinctly familiar about the pressure and temperature and a stunned, confused look crossed her features.
She was still lightly restrained in a hospital bed, but it was nearly on the ground; apparently the nightmares had come just as she knew they would, though she blessedly couldn’t remember them. Gone were the monitors and other machines, her IV bags hanging from a hook over her head, the oxygen coming from a large portable tank that was secured near her. The damnable little gray poison-box was laying beside her, and she resolved, once again, to avoid that stuff unless absolutely necessary.
As the young woman’s vision came into a bleary focus, she gasped, sitting up in surprise, and instantly regretted it, her body crumpling back to the bed with a pained grunt, but was unable to tear her gaze away from the suddenly familiar surroundings. It wasn’t her cave, it couldn’t be, the bed and a few other things proved it -- Abby resting quietly not too far away being one thing -- but it was her cave, all at the same time.
The floors of the natural seeming cavern were swept clean, complete with the a small, smooth dip in the center that was stained black from the many times that she’d used it for cooking fires. The walls and top of this small, rocky bubble had also been decorated over with small bits of smooth glass and rough, natural gemstones that had been wedged into various crevices, including her glittering, midnight alignment of the desert stars spread across the uneven dome. It even had the small, clean, cold pool of water that gathered in one of the irregular bubbles of sandstone just off of the main chamber, the blanket that was strung across the opening to the smaller cave merely dampening the sound of gently trickling water.
Her green gaze moved greedily over the surfaces, taking in the familiar scenery with tears of joy mixed with the pain of her recent losses. She never expected to see her precious little haven again, and while she knew it couldn’t really be it, the similarities, the exactness of it all, made that hard to fully discern. She couldn’t be losing it, Abby was right there, her head leaned against the sparkling stone; it wasn’t a dream, because the dark shadows that plagued her in that realm were absent in this one.
“Umm... Miss Abby...?” Bethany finally managed to croak out through a dry, tightened throat.
Abby was instantly awake, a smile on her face as she pushed herself up off the ground, not showing the slightest stiffness to her joints from her stint on the cold floor. "Just Abby, though I also answer to Abigail, nurse, and ‘hey, you, I'm in pain’," she said softly so her voice would not echo on the stone walls. "The headmistress' daughter is in charge of making people feel comfortable here. While we waited for your extraction I took detailed scans of your cave. She thought that this place might feel safer for you. We are still in our stronghold, but it's under a mountain, so she was able to build this place out of the existing stone. Now that you are stable and mostly calm, the doc gave the go ahead to move you down here. Eventually, if you decide to stay, you'll have a room of your own, but until we need this little corner of rock for something else it will be here."
The young woman watched Abby as she moved and nodded as she explained, though Bethany had a bit of a hard time believing that they had somehow managed to craft an exact replica of her cave so easily. It had taken her ages to clear the rubble and clean it up and even more time to gather the bits that spotted the rounded ceiling so that she could fall asleep at night, still watching the stars twinkle from the embers of a dying fire.
“Okay, Abby it is.” The battered brawler took a careful breath and let it out slowly, asking, “Why can’t this be my room? It’s not like I haven’t lived in a cave before.” Bethany gave the young nurse a bit of a mischievous grin as she tried to shift, stiff from her injuries as well as her thrashing about, wincing with the pain it caused her. “Heck, I was always more comfortable here... umm... there...” she let out an exasperated sigh. “In my cave, than I ever was at home.”
"There is a single floor where we all have rooms, it has better security than anywhere else, it's safer up there," Abby said with a smile. She telegraphed her movements before making them as she adjusted the bed to help Bethany sit up and adjust without hurting herself. "We're also pretty far from the nearest bathroom. The private rooms have their own half baths, no tub or shower, but the rest. Laundry and showers are in a communal room, though don't worry, there are private stalls. We'll show you around in a couple days. Until then you and Jon can sleep here. This cave is inside a slightly larger room that has everything Timo and I would need if we have to treat you for anything, as well as a TV...and a bit of a view."
Abby's eyes twinkled. "Want to see?"
“Umm, sure,” the girl answered, grudgingly taking the help, partly from that inherent sense of mistrust that had been beaten into her over the years, partially because she was loathe to admit that she needed it. The young woman listened as Abby explained about the accommodations, already feeling winded from just managing to sit up. “So is putting me so far away from a bathroom supposed to be incentive to get up and move? Cuz I’ll pee in a bucket if I have to,” Bethany teased, then coughed out a small laugh.
After a moment to catch her breath, her brow furrowed and she asked, her tone serious, “Everyone is in the same place when they sleep? That seems dangerous, especially if you’re enemies with Nexus. I mean, yeah, we’re in a mountain, I guess, but they’re allied with the government, may even have access to things like bunker busters...”
Abby chuckled. "They wouldn't dare," she said conspiratorially, setting the small machine up near Bethany's feet, then moved behind the bed and rolled it forward. "As for the bathroom, you have a catheter in right now, sorry, we have to track your fluid output until you're on solid foods, which should be tomorrow. By the time you're out of bed we'll get a temporary bathroom down here."
As they neared the entrance the blanket across the entrance slid back and the bed slid perfectly out the door and into a large open room. Abby fiddled with something and the bed smoothly lifted to the normal height. The space looked as though it was probably used for storage but was open and mostly empty, with metal floor and walls and high, raftered ceilings. There was a small living area set to one side, a couch, plush rug, and a big screen TV against one wall with a military style foot-locker for a coffee table. Then Abby turned the bed back around towards the cave and she could see that the whole thing took up the back half of the room. The far wall was the true prize of the room. Set every foot was a wide window that looked out on the lake... from below. Large salmon and other, smaller fish swam past and high, high above light sparkled on the surface of the water.
"Nexus wouldn't dare hit us with anything too big. Our base is mostly underwater, but also on top of a dormant volcano that's just outside a fairly large city. Hitting us would risk killing nearly everyone in the state. The last time this mountain went blew, a little under 8000 years ago, it took a mile off the top and left a massive crater that turned into a lake. We have a heat shield and all sorts of tech keeping the the volcano dormant, but the student level is shielded so heavily that we could sink into the volcano itself and would be safe for days. Plenty of time for Cam to come get us and spirit us away."
Abby parked the bed facing the windows and moved to where Bethany could see her. "We've been here for months and the base has been here for a couple years so we are perfectly safe from the volcano and the water." She checked both her braids were tight then shrugged off her robe and laid it over the foot of Bethany's bed. Underneath was the matching bikini bottoms to the top she'd seen peeking out. "I thought I would show you what I can do, since this room has such a good view of the lake."