"SONOVABITCH!" Raa jumped forward, grabbing Pim just before he hit the floor and brought his limp form tight against his chest. "Pim." He slapped his face lightly, then a little harder, voice trembling with fear and desperation as he spoke. "Pim. C'mon, Pim! This is no time for beauty sleep! You've got to wake up!"
The shouting from below intensified as thundering feet pounded closer, and another bullet slammed into the open metal door leading into the stairwell, denting it heavily before ricocheting off into the distance; Raa kicked the door shut viciously and jammed both his gun and the one Pim had dropped into the lip of his boots, hoping that they would meet no more resistance: he couldn't hold Pim, run, and fire at the same time. He hefted Pim's body over one shoulder- a sharp stinging pain shot through his left arm, threatening his hold on Pim, but Raa managed to grasp Pim's right ankle with his other hand, steadying him into laying length-wise across Raa's shoulders.
Sending a prayer to Buru that Pim was alive and this venture wouldn't cost both of them their lives, Raa took off straight across the rooftop, crisscrossing and ducking behind large fan vents that rose up from the roof like stocky metal trees. Another bullet, this time from a direction that Raa knew the men who pursued them from below could not have managed to be in, hit the roof between Raa's feet with a crack, causing gravel and dirt to flower up into the air in an impressive display. Raa cursed and flung himself behind a vent, thankful it was just large enough to hide them from behind, at least, and surveyed his surroundings with a critical eye as blood, hot and sticky, dripped from Pim's side and under the leather jerking Raa wore, making him itch.
"Ok, Pim," he whispered, words broken by harsh pants as he struggled to catch his breath. "The garbage shoot is thirty feet straight ahead, and we've got-" Raa poked his head out quickly, looking to the right, left, and behind, "Fuck, we've got twenty guards between us and it. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck... Okay, just going to have to run for it." Raa's feet felt glued to the rooftop, his legs full of lead. "Run for it. Right- DAMMIT ALL TO HELL!" Another bullet, this time right next to Pim's left foot, cut into the thin aluminum of the vent shaft, splintering it into a thousand tiny little flecks that flew through the air like shrapnel, embedding into Raa's right arm- and probably Pim's legs, he didn't know, no time to check- like a thousand needles. The jolt of pain was like a rush of adrenaline, and Raa shot forward, running straight for the dark outline of the garbage shoot that rose five feet into the air above where it attached to the side of the rooftop.
More bullets, some grazing, others coming dangerously close to hitting their mark, flew by in a haze of metal, picking up and reflecting the strong sunlight into Raa's eyes, threatening to blind him completely.
Guards shouted, screamed orders to underlings, and took off in pursuit, abandoning their positions to fire wildly at their escaped prisoners.
There! Raa, in one spectacularly lithe movement, threw Pim as hard as he could into the gaping maw of the garbage shoot, and leapt in after him, darkness swallowing them both.
"He ain't woke yet?"
Raa jerked, eyes blinking wide as he sucked in a deep breath through his nose, startled awake.
"Sorry, boss," Gavoth whispered, cringing slightly. "Didn' know you was sleeping."
"It's all right, Gavoth," Raa said, voice just as subdued, and rubbed his face roughtly. A two-day beard darkened his cheeks and chin, scratching the calloused flesh of his palms before he pressed them into his eyes, pushing hard enough to cause white stars to bloom behind closed lids. "Did you get the goods to the buyer?"
"Yup," Gavoth said, leaning a hip against the side of Raa's desk, squinting in the darkness of the captain's cabin to better see Raa's outline in the dimness; it was noon, but Raa hadn't opened his heavy curtains since the crew had retrieved him and Pim from lower North Reshir, bleeding and exhausted from carrying his burden ten miles through the sewers to get there undetected. The crew of the Absalom had not been pleased with the damage done to their captain, each holding a bit of a grudge against the one who had caused it. "Old bitch did' wanna give us half. Said she wanted it free, cause we didn' meet deadline."
Raa snorted and leaned back in the chair he sat in, back protesting loudly; the chair normally wasn't so uncomfortable, lined with leather and padded with rich green felt, but he had been sitting in it for two days. "And you said?"
Gavoth laughed, deep voice a rumble of amusement. "Told her suck on her own tit. Told her that if she didn' want 'em, we got plenty tha' do. So she paid us half."
"Good. Anything else?"
"Jus' that we was all wonderin' when you was plannin' to eat."
"I'm not hungry."
"I said I'm not hungry!"
Gavoth flinched, unused to being on the receiving end of his captain's anger, and stood, nodding. "Right, then. I'll make sure no body but the doc comes to disturb ya."
Raa watched Gavoth leave, squinting in the bright flood of light coming from the briefly open door, and immediately felt guilty; Gavoth had been his second-in-command for years, a good man, and a loyal comrade. He didn't deserve Raa's bitterness, but Raa couldn't help the cold pit of dread inside of him that forced it out.
He looked at Pim, laying pale and still beneath velvet green blankets on Raa's bed, and thought, C'mon, Pim. You can't die on me yet.
"If he asks me what day of the week it is, I'll be sorely tempted to answer 'orange'." ~Chang WuFei,