Cassidy snatched the forgotten keys from the floor, unlocking the clasps around Maria's wrists. As the adrenaline began to drain out of her system, she felt her legs grow weak, the pain in her side screaming in her mind, clouding her thoughts. Her knees buckled, threatening to give out from under her, but Maria caught her little sister before they had a chance. "I'm okay." Cassidy protested weakly. "I'm fine, I swear."
Maria shook her head. "Lean against the wall, Cassidy." She instructed, guiding her to the wall.
"Okay, yeah, I can totally handle that."
Maria took the upper section of her layered dress, gripping the fabric firmly and pulling until it finally tore. She worked the fabric until she had a strip long enough to wrap around Cassidy's middle. She wrapped it tightly around her sister's thin waist, covering the open, gushing wound in her side. When Maria pulled it tightly to tie the ends together, Cassidy protested with a sharp cry of pain. "Shhhh..." Maria spoke softly. "Hopefully that will help stop some of the bleeding."
Cassidy nodded understandingly, straightening herself. "Yeah, I'm okay. I can fight if we come across another guard."
"You will be doing no such thing, Aurora Cassidy." Maria scolded her sister, slipping her arm under Cassidy's shoulder to support her weight. "Let's go."
Their progress was slow and nerve-wracking. Maria was anxious, wondering why they hadn't come across any more Azaian guards. The palace's lower level was eerily quiet. Finally, they found the wide, long staircase that led to the main level of the palace. Maria listened carefully, she could hear echoes of voices.
Cassidy's ears perked up, listening intently. "Tech!" She called out weakly. "Maria, the others are here."
Maria smiled. "Thank the heavens."
"I think that's the last of them, Chief."
"Still no sign of Maria or Cassidy?"
"Nothing." Tech's sigh was heavy, tired. Ace frowned in worry.
Lexi turned, ears flicking around, picking up quiet noises. "Guys, I think I hear them!" She shouted, taking off in the direction the sounds seemed to be coming from.
His heart in his throat, Tech ran after her. 'Please be safe, Cass. Please.'
Lexi slid to a stop in front of a hallway Tech didn't recognize, but when he reached it, he didn't see the wide staircase leading down into a lower level, he only saw Cassidy, leaning heavily on Maria. There was blood all over the both of them, more of it leaking from the fabric tied around Cassidy's middle.
Her head moved, brown eyes meeting his green ones for a moment before they closed, her shaking legs finally giving out from under her tiny body. Maria stumbled, catching her and slowly kneeling to the ground. Tech ran to them, skidding across the tiled floor on his knees.
"What happened?" He asked, helping Maria lay her down on the tiles, feeling her wrists for a pulse.
"One of the Azaian guards caught her with his sword. She kept fighting, Tech. I'm afraid she's lost too much blood." Maria answered, watching as Tech reached into his backpack for something to stop the bleeding in Cassidy's side.
Tech nodded, finding a large gauze pad and some bandaging. "I'm afraid of that, too, with how much is all over you and her." He tore the packaging on the pad apart and pressed it firmly against Cassidy's wound.
"Not all of it is hers, but too much of it is."
"Are you injured, as well?"
Maria shook her head. "No, I am fine. She killed two guards trying to free us." Lexi knelt next to her, watching as Tech wrapped the bandaging around Cassidy's small body. "Somehow they caught her and brought her here, forcing their way in by threatening her life. She was already injured fairly badly before this."
"Is there somewhere I can take her? I need to stabilize her and clean up the wound before I know what I can do next."
Maria nodded. "Yes, there is an infirmary in the west wing, for the soldiers in training here. I will show you." She stood, waiting for Tech.
Tech moved swiftly, but carefully, scooping Cassidy into his arms. She felt so tiny and lightweight, her head resting in the crook of his arm. He, as well as Lexi and the others, followed Maria as she led them down the winding hallways to the west wing. When they reached the infirmary, Tech glanced over his shoulder to Rev. "Can you give me a hand?"
Rev nodded. "Sure thing!" He answered, the normally cheery tone sounding a little forced.
Knowing her sister was in good hands, Maria turned to Ace. "How did you know to come here?"
"One of your guards contacted us." Ace explained, his voice somber as he added, "He risked his life to do so, and lost."
Maria frowned, nodding her head. "Many did. But I didn't know what to do." She glanced at the glass doors of the infirmary, where Tech and Rev got to work on stabilizing Cassidy. "They almost killed her, again."
"Yeah, Cass seems to have this habit of almost dying. Thankfully she hasn't given that up yet."
Maria smiled at Ace's attempt to lighten the mood. "I'm so thankful for you and the others. I believe if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have her in my life. I truly thought for the longest time, after Father and I left her on Acmetropolis, that I would never see her again." She laughed softly, dipping her head as she quickly brushed away a tear that had been hiding in the corner of her crystal blue eyes. "I'm sorry, I'm getting emotional. As much as I want to stay here, I have duties to attend to."
"Do you need any help?" Lexi offered.
"Thank you, but no. You've already done so much. Please just stay with her. I know you all were worried sick when she took off."
"But so were you-"
"I know." Maria answered softly. "But as acting Queen, I need to take care of my people. I know you'll take care of my sister for me."
Lexi and Ace nodded, watching as Maria walked towards one of the palace guards that had lived through the fight. She spoke to him for a moment before they both left the west wing.
"Wow." Lexi sighed. "I can't even imagine how stressful it must be. She has so much responsibility all of a sudden."
Finally, Tech felt like he could breathe. Her pulse was stronger, chest rising and falling ever so slightly as she breathed. The bleeding in her side had slowed, and now Tech and Rev had to work fast to repair whatever internal damage Cassidy might've suffered. But she was going to live.
It was then that Tech realized how tense and quiet Rev was. He kept staring at Cassidy with a look of confusion and concern.
"Is something bothering you, Rev?"
Rev didn't answer right away, thinking first. "Tech... do you think there's something wrong with my powers?"
Tech blinked. Rev hadn't been able to find Cassidy this entire time. Even in the palace, his GPS couldn't find her, or Maria. It was Lexi that found them.
"... I don't know, Rev." He answered honestly, even he couldn't think of a single explanation. "I'm sure there's something that can explain why you couldn't find them." Tech busied himself with cleaning Cassidy's wound, rolling her torn shirt up until it rested just below her bust. He glanced up again, and Rev still looked stressed and worried. "Rev. I promise you that I will do everything I can to figure out what happened, but right now I need you to focus and help me, alright? If we don't work quickly, it could complicate her healing."
Rev swallowed, nodding. "Right! What do you need me to do?"
Time passed quickly, the rest of the team sitting on the floor outside the infirmary. Lexi hugged her knees to her chest, glancing at the clock on the wall. Duck yawned and stretched out. Slam was leaning against a wall, snoring. Ace had his legs crossed, glancing over at Lexi every so often. He was worried.
Finally, Tech finished the last stitch. His back and arms ached, so he asked Rev to clean up the tools they had used while he wrapped a soft, clean bandage around Cassidy's stomach and sides. As he carefully lifted her small body off the hospital bed, something slipped out of her jeans pocket, falling to the floor with a loud clunk. After he set her back down on the bed, Tech bent down to see what had fallen. It was a small, metal object that fit easily in his palm. He stared at it. It looked familiar.
Suddenly it came to him. He knew what this was. He turned the object over in his hands, fiddling with the buttons.
He made it.
Tech glanced over to Cassidy's still body. He gazed down at her expressionless face. The harsh light from above gave her a look of innocence. He laughed. "Aurora Cassidy Coyote... you... you little pain in the ass!"
Rev turned around, confused. "Tech? What are you going on about?"
Tech kept laughing, the tension in his body melting away, and held out the little object in his hand to Rev.
Rev was still confused. "What is that?"
"This..." Tech had to take a moment to breathe and calm down. "This is a prototype of a cloaking device I was making for our ship. It was supposed to make any sign of the ship, including signals from people on board, completely undetectable. It didn't work, so I moved on to another idea."
"You kept it even though it didn't work?"
Tech nodded. "Yeah. I guess she figured that out. And she also figured out how to get it to work!"
"So, you mean-"
"That's why you couldn't find her! It had nothing to do with your powers. She took this so that she couldn't be found until she wanted to be. And when she was close to Maria, it hid her as well."
"Wow." Rev grinned. "I didn't know that she knew how to fix stuff like that."
"Me neither." Tech shrugged. "But she does spend a lot of time in the lab with me. I guess she's a quick learner." He glanced back down at Cassidy, reaching out to pull the hem of her shirt down over her stomach. "I'm just glad she's going to be okay."