The trapdoor in the floor blows open as a ball of fire blasts through it. The couch I used for cover is blown hard up against me, shoving me back into the wall. Several more cracks appear in my helmet, and I feel air leaking out.
I push the couch away from me and make my way to the trap door in the floor. It has fallen shut again, but a chunk has been blown out of it. I’m able to reach through and unlock it from underneath. I pull it open and look through. It looks like a bomb went off. The terraforming machine is nothing more than a pile of twisted metal, most of it blown throughout the cavern.
I don’t see any of Mayze’s or my team.
“Is everyone okay?” I ask over the comm.
No answer. The explosion must have knocked out our transmitters.
I drop down onto the platform below, and as soon as my weight hits, it drops six inches under my feet. I lose my balance and slam into the railing, which barely keeps me from falling over the side. My rib cage feels like it’s about to explode.
Looking down I notice that much of the stairs to the ground are gone or twisted beyond use. I carefully make my way down as far as I can before I have to hang over the edge and drop to another platform below me. I try to land lightly on my toes, but I can feel the impact of my weight reverberating through the remaining stair system. Several pieces of metal fall off around me. Thankfully, it holds.
I make my way down several more levels before I’m out of stairs. I slip under the rail and push off, landing on a large, flat piece of debris several feet away. As soon as I hit, the force of my weight causes whatever is holding it up to collapse. For a split second, I’m airborne.
The back edge of the platform connects with something solid, while the rest of the platform continues to fall beneath me. I land on a forty degree slope, my feet never able to make purchase. I find myself sliding toward several pieces of sharp, twisted metal below. I roll my body off the side of the platform, narrowly escaping impalement. I fall several feet before my body thuds against the concrete floor. My face inches from a piece of metal that surely would have shattered my already broken helmet.
It takes me several minutes to climb my way over and through the debris. I see the area where I left the others, but I can no longer tell where the control room or transporter cage walls were, all having been blown apart. All the equipment that was on the desks and shelves is now scattered all over the floor.
I hear someone cough.
I make my way over and start pulling away the junk. It’s Darwin.
“You okay?” When he doesn’t answer, I realize it’s because he can’t hear me through the comm. I ask again, this time yelling through the helmet.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he yells back.
I help him up. “Where are the others?”
He looks around.
In the corner, I see rustling, as a body emerges from beneath a pile of junk. It’s Brooklyn. Darwin is already on his way to help her up, as I scan the room for others. I see an arm sticking up through the rubble. I make my way over and find mom. She has a broken arm and a punctured suit, but other than that she appears to be okay.
Darwin is repairing a hole in Brooklyn’s suit as I make my way through the debris looking for Mackenzie and GoPro. Stepping carefully through the mess, my foot hits what feels like a body. I pull away the debris to see GoPro’s dead eye’s staring up at me.
“GoPro didn’t make it,” I inform the others, my eyes clouded with tears.
They already knew.
I can’t help but stare at his lifeless body. Sadness washes over me. “It should have been me,” I say to myself. As if pulled from a trance I remember Allyson. Urgently I look for her around the room, but I don’t see a body or any movement.
“She was over here,” mom points to another part of the room as she get’s bandaged up by Darwin.
I hurry back that way, shoving debris away from me. I find her body, face down, on her stomach. I reach for her wrist to check her pulse but don’t feel anything. Maybe it’s the lifesuit, I tell myself.
“Allyson!” I clear the debris from around her and roll her onto her back. There is no light in her helmet, so I can’t see her face.
I shake her body. “Mackenzie! Mackenzie!” No response. “Allyson!” Nothing.
Darwin comes up next to me and puts his hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
Mom and Brooklyn join him next to me.
I break down in tears, collapsing onto the ground. “I can’t lose you, again!” I sob.
Suddenly her eyes open and she inhales deeply. “Allyson!” I yell. “You’re alive. Are you all right? Are you okay? Can you breathe?”
“Hi,” I hear her say through her helmet. “Yeah, I’m all right. My ankle hurts, but that’s about it… I think.”
I help her sit up, and she looks around. “Where’s GoPro?”
I shake my head.
We all take a moment of silence, reflecting on the sacrifice that GoPro made to save his teammates.
“We’ll have to come back for him,” I say, pushing myself up off the floor. “The corrosive agent has been burned out of the air so his body will be preserved. We’ll make sure he gets a hero’s burial, but right now we need to get ourselves home.”