Mindstorm, part 21

by Chicago

Disclaimers and other information in "part 0"

Ramilla Chaterjee opened her eyes.

Everything was green.

For a confused moment, she reviewed everything she knew about color perception in animals, wondering what species had eyes that received only green. Then she scowled for half-understood precepts of the religion she had never been properly taught. Reincarnation was not supposed to include consciousness of past lives.

It was only as she began wondering how she had messed up her life so as to travel down the reincarnation ladder that she realized she was not, in fact, dead.

She blinked.

Still green.

She moved one arm, and then the other. Then her feet and legs. All seemed to be working. She turned her head.



Overhead, underfoot - she bit back a sudden, comprehending scream.

She was entombed. She had been helping with the rescue efforts, putting her med student training to work because even that was better than nothing for dealing with the stream of injured being uncovered in the wreckage of the former University Tower. Then the moon had raced across the sky and back again, and there were earthquakes and ...

And Green Lantern had been standing beside her, unwaveringly continuing to uncover the living and the dead. He had turned to her at one moment in the worst of it. "Let me worry about keeping you safe," he had said. "So long as the moon doesn't plunge down on top of us, I can cover you. Promise."

Everything was still green. He had kept his word. He had held open enough space for her to breathe and move and not be another human smear in the remains of Calcutta.

But where was he?

She wriggled out from under the slab of concrete that hovered six inches from her face. There was more space to her left, room to actually sit up at least. Her sense of claustrophobia eased as she cleared the slab and found head room. She sucked in a huge breath of relief as she raised herself to a sitting position.

The move left her dizzy, and she rested against the slab that should have had her name on it but for the green bubble she was in.

"... close off... Zod... make move..."

Ramilla jerked her head up. She wasn't alone. She squinted through the green in the direction of the voice she heard.

"...keep ... no, not... let..."

The green didn't give off much light, but it was enough for her to finally pick out the prone figure pinned a short distance from her. "Mr. Lantern?" she hazarded.

She thought she saw him twitch, and he stopped mumbling.

Twisted rebar stretched between them, but there was space to squirm through. Ramilla considered for a moment, acutely aware of her protecting dome of green. She had a sinking feeling it was finite, and it would not be in her best interests to go beyond its confines.

Reaching a hand out toward the crumpled figure beyond the rebar confirmed her fears. An accidental press against the twisted metal suddenly filled the space around Green Lantern with a cascade of dust and fine gravel.

She jerked back, eyes wide as she prayed to any random deity that might listen that she had not just killed the man who saved her. For the first time in her life, she wished her parents had not been such good secularists.

She had no idea how much time passed before the air cleared again. It felt like forever, but was probably seconds. Green Lantern was still lying there, face bloodied and torso caught less under than between protruding chunks of concrete and steel.

"Mr. Lantern," she called again.

He groaned.

"Mr. Lantern," she tried again. She tried reaching out again, this time weaving her hand through the rebar with the utmost caution. She could just reach one of his hands.

"Mr. Lantern," she said once more, closing her fingers over his palm.

He grasped her fingers and his head moved.

"Mr. Lantern, wake up please," she begged.

That got her a groan and an indistinct, "Wha-?"

"The high rise crashed over us," she explained, not sure he would understand a word she said, but she needed to say it. "You saved me."

His head rolled and she realized he was trying to look at her. "Who-"

"My name's Ramilla. I was helping with the rescue. You said you would cover me, remember?"

"Ramilla." She couldn't really make out his face. The angle was wrong to see his expression even as he craned his neck. "Calcutta." He said it like it was a realization.

"Yes," she confirmed. "There was a bombing and then the moon-"

"Right," he cut her off, and she saw him start to move and then heard him hiss between his teeth. "Well, looks like I forgot to cover my own head," he remarked. "Are you okay?"

"I'm scared," Ramilla answered honestly.

"I don't blame you," he replied, and his hand once again tightened around her fingers. "I wonder..." his voice trailed off, and his grip loosened.

"Mr. Lantern?" she prompted nervously.

There was a long pause, followed by a weak laugh. "Why not Mr. Green? Green is nice..."

"Mr. Lantern," she demanded more firmly, pinching his hand.

"Ow! What - " He stopped, and his hand flexed. "I'm sorry. I'm trying to - but I can't get -"

A sudden electronic crackle sounded, and Green Lantern ripped his hand from Ramilla's, clutching at his head. The volume of the sound decreased, and in the enclosed space, Ramilla thought she could hear a tinny voice saying, "Lantern, can you read me?"

"Cavalry?" he queried, and Ramilla knew he wasn't talking to her.

She could still hear the other voice, but it was now too quiet to distinguish words. "Kinda have a building problem right now, actually... reminds me..." he chuckled weakly.

A sharpness seemed to enter the tinny voice. "Did we win yet?" Green Lantern asked.

"Under the building," he continued after another pause. "I told you... Yeah. ... That ... yes. Good idea... Hello, Wonder Woman. You en route?"

Ramilla felt a pained knot in her chest start to loosen. Rescue. Whatever else was going on in the world, there was hope of rescue. She sharpened her attention on Green Lantern's words.

"Oh, somewhere," he said, and Ramilla stretched her fingers toward him.

"Calcutta, Mr. Lantern. Tell them-"

He heard her. He couldn't look at her, but he must have felt her reach, because his hand returned comfortingly to hers as he spoke. "In Calcutta. I got cold cocked by a building."

He paused and for a second she worried he was fading out again, but it seemed he was listening. His tone was almost light when he started speaking again. "I'm working on it. Lots of survivors in the air pockets above me, though." He squeezed Ramilla's hand. "Gotta keep..." he trailed off.

There was an audible squawk from whatever communication device he was using.

Green Lantern shook his head. "Sorry. Head hurts. I told the ring to keep the air pockets open no matter what."

That settled it, Ramilla decided. She would find religion when she got out of this. How was she so lucky to be the beneficiary of this man's foresight - foresight that had saved her life?

Green Lantern was still speaking. "I promised...Thanks." The last word was weak, tired. She wondered how much it was taking for him to keep her and how many others alive. She stroked his palm, the only comfort she could offer. His thumb brushed the back of her hand in acknowledgement. "Stupid building," he muttered.

Absurd as it was, she knew exactly how he felt.

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