The second the sound hit them, the Navigatrix flattened herself against the Captain, in what was both the best and the worst version of this scenario that she could imagine. First the heat wave and the wind pushed around the tower, whistling but not, thankfully, getting inside; and then in the same moment the blue glow disappeared, throwing them into darkness, and the first of the plasma slugs burst through the wall, screaming with white electric heat, slicing up the tent and carving effortless holes through the stonework.
The Captain’s arms wrapped around her and they just held on to each other until the plasma stopped boiling on the stone and the camotech and the tent lay in tatters around them, sparking and sizzling in the swirling fog.
The Navigatrix buried her face in the Captain’s hair in an effort to filter the smell of vaporized stone and burning copper wire, and didn’t look up until the Captain shook her shoulders;
“Nav – we gotta go-”
– and the tower was already swaying.
She leapt up, throwing off strings of canvas and sparking wires, up to her ankles in static fog, and pulled the Captain up with her.
The Captain pointed to an ornate archway in the colonnade; “That’s our best bet.”
And the Navigatrix saw the top of the tower above them leaning farther and farther, and she threw the Captain’s arm over her shoulder and together they awkwardly, desperately, painfully legged it towards the archway.
Gravel and dust fell faster and thicker, and the creaking sound of stone on stone turned into a sinister grind and rumble, and for the last few yards the Navigatrix lifted the Captain and half-threw her into the archway, diving in afterwards.
The sound of the stone tower, immense and hubristic as it was, collapsing – well it felt like it took over her mind and body. The air filled with wind that whipped up electricity and sand and grit, and the earth shook.
The arch they were under creaked and fell into itself, but not completely; in the lean-to of stone it had created, they were both curled up into balls, coughing into their sleeves and holding onto the ground like it was going to tip and toss them off.
When the dust settled, the sparking fog was gone, and green dawnlight streamed in.
The Navigatrix rolled onto her back and looked up at the seafoam green sky.
It was incredibly quiet.
He was gone! He had left – without the Orb, she was sure of it.
She started laughing again, just unbelievably relieved.