"DERYN!!!!! DERYN!!!!!" Alek's voice rang out in the near silence. His body felt like it had been stepped on by the Stormwalker. Somewhere amidst their decent, he and Deryn had gotten separated, and he had no idea where she was.
Alek could barely move himself, his legs felt like they were broken, but he tried to ignore it, standing weakly to search for her. He had held on for dear life but....
His head was spinning, the ground a mix of colors and directions. He wasn't sure where he as at all. It was dark, the only light coming from the moon and the lanterns from somewhere up ahead.
He had heard it hit the water, the crunch of wood and screech of men and creatures alike. He wanted to go help them, to find Volger and Klopp and see if they had made it out alive. But he couldn't.
In a way the scenario was perfect. Everyone would think he and Deryn were dead, and his whereabouts would remain a secret forever. But he would give himself up right now if it meant saving the lives that were most likely just lost because of another German aerial attack.
What business did they have over Japan, anyway? It made no sense. They're mission had been kept so secret that no one but the boffin and the Captain knew, so how would the Germans? But that was all too confusing right now. He needed to find Deryn.
Bovril poked it's head out of the small satchel strapped to Alek's chest. The loris looked quite shaken up, it's eyes wide and alert, but also very dizzy. Alek shoved the creature back in the bag and wobbled his way out of the bushes. He stumbled back to the ground, where he decided to crawl instead. He dragged himself around, calling out for Deryn.
No one answered.
Alek broke down right there, everything just dropping on him, heavy as the Leviathan itself. Deryn.....she was gone....
Bovril crawled back out of the bag and scampered away across the darkness.
"Hey! Get back here I say..." but he stopped. Bovril was on its way back, something clamped in its jaws. It was a glove. Deryn's glove.
"Good...good boy!" Alek exclaimed. He grabbed the glove and half dragged himself to where Bovril had come from. Sure enough, Deryn was there, crumpled and hidden in a shrub. Alek crawled to her, resting his head on her.
"Deryn, come on love, get up. Are you alright?" he rocked her gently. Nothing. His hand ran over her pale face, blood trickling from a wound on her forehead. "Deryn. Deryn!" he shook her with all his strength. She did not respond.
"No....No!!!! Deryn!!! GET UP!!!" Alek's eyes stung, and his vision became blurred and the tears came. "No!!!!! Not yet!!! No!!! No.......Deryn?!?! Wake up!!!!"
Alek slammed his fist into the ground, screaming into the dark sky. She was gone....all because of him.
"Alive!" Bovril said from his perch on Deryn's limp chest. Alek swatted at the creature, who took it to offence and skulked away to sit by Deryn's boots instead. Alek sobbed into Deryn's jacket for what seemd like eternity, overcome by hysterics.
When his fit subsided, he stood, picking up Deryn's fallen body into his arms. He didn't know where to go, he was lost. He couldn't return the the Leviathan, they wouldn't give a damn. But what else did he have to live for? Nothing. Without Deryn, he might as well give himself back up and get sent to wherever he was going. Should just give himself up to the Germans themselves, who were so adamantly looking for him.
Alek stumbled back towards the airship, Bovril on his shoulder. It was like a dream, he couldn't feel the ground under him as he stepped. He was numb. The distance to the Leviathan didn't seem to get any shorter, yet there it was, the deflated beast right before him. But still miles away.
Suddenly he felt a jerk in his arm. He looked down to see Deryn's eyes on him, her hand clutching his jacket.
"Deryn!!! Gods wounds, your alive!!!"
"Shut up....." she croaked. "Get us back where we were, you ninny. What are you doing?"
"I...I thought you were dead!"
Deryn rolled her eyes, then winced in pain, squeezing his jacket harder. "Of course not. Did you think I would fall that easily? Get us back in the trees before were spotted!"
Alek ran with a burst of energy back to where they had hit the ground. He stumbled behind a copse of trees and laid Deryn there, setting her against one for support. She was holding her midsection, her eyes squinted in pain. Alek moved her hands to see a spot of blood forming.
"Do you remember what happened when you landed?" he asked, slowly rolling up her shirt.
"Not much. I think I may have hit a tree on the way down, but I'm not entierly - BLISTERS ALEK! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" she screamed, pushing Alek off of her. She had a deep wound, it looked as though she had been impaled. Blood was seeping from it at a pace to quick for Alek's liking.
"I think you were right about hitting that tree." Alek said, the sight of her blood sending him into a panic.
"Well, lucky for me I packed a first aid kit in my bag. Hurry, you ninny, I'm not feeling well." she let her hands fall to her sides, eyes closed.
Alek dug through her satchel and found the small white bag at the very bottom. He opened it and found everything he could have possibly needed. Its like she had known what was going to happen.
Alek had never done this before, but he'd seen enough of it to understand the concept. "Hold still" he murmured to Deryn as he threaded the needle. "I'm not entirely sure of what to do, but I'm going to try my best. Just don't move, whatever you do."
Alek opened the small bottle of alcohol, pouring a tiny amount onto Deryn's wound. Her face contorted into a look of sheer agony and she let out a hiss from between her clenched lips. But she didn't move. She was tougher than Alek ever could have been for something like this.
"Okay, I'm going to stitch this up, but we need to get you to a medic anyway. Just hold still now...."
"BARKING SPIDERS!!!!" Deryn shrieked, keeping herself as still as she could. Alek worked quickly, stitching fast so as to quiet her obscene yelling. When he was finished, he poured a little more alcohol on the woulnd and covered it with gauze, sealing it with the medical tape. He took off his jacket and draped it over her, scooping her up into his arms.
"I'm so sorry, love. I'm so, so sorry."
"No. No, you did fine. It had to be done." her voice was barely a whisper, her weak hands holding onto his arm, squeezing every few moments. "Thank you, Alek. You've saved me twice now. I think I owe you more than just coming with you tonight."
He shook his head. "No, no. Don't worry about that. At least your alive. That's all I could have asked for."
She chuckled. "Don't go getting all mushy on me, your Highness. We're not out of the clear yet."
Alek smiled. "You know, your going to have to stop calling me that soon." she chuckled at that and settled into his arms.
They sat huddled up until the first signs of the sun started showing. There were search parties beginning now, looking for any lost soldiers. Alek woke Deryn as soon as he heard the first group come their way.
"Love, get up. They've sent out a search party. We've got to move." she slowly opened her eyes, wrapping her weak arms around his neck. He hoisted her up and made his way away from the chaos at the Leviathan. He trudged for as long as he could, until there were no sounds from the crash site. He laid Deryn back down under the cover of the trees. The sun was up now, beating down. They needed to hide until sunset.
Alek's stomach growled in protest. He was starving, not having eaten since dinner that night, and he couldn't even keep much down. Deryn had not eaten at all, and he couldn't imagine what she must be feeling right now. But he didn't dare go anywhere yet, it was too risky. Deryn fell asleep, giving Alek an opportunity to search locally for something edible. He found some berries growing, which he asked Bovril about first. The creature had a knack for knowing things he didn't, and actaully made use of itself for once. It told him which were safe, and he loaded up his pockets and shirt with them, not knowing if this might be their only meal for a while.
When he returned, Deryn was awake, propping herself up on her own. Alek rushed over, spilling the berries next to her. "No, no. Don't over work yourself. Just relax. I brought something." he handed her some berries and she ate them gratefully, eating about half of the stock of them. Alek ate the rest, the churning in his gut lessening.
They didn't talk much, Alek letting Deryn rest as much as she needed, which was almost all day. He caught a few winks, satisfyed that they were as well hidden as it was going to get. He didn't hear any sign of search parties throughout the day. By nightfall, Deryn had regained much more stamina, and was able to stand on her own.
"Are you sure?" Alek asked her. "Because I can still carry you if - "
She waved a hand at him. "I'm fine. Just need to take it slow." she stood to her full height, testing her injury. She smiled, satisfied. "Not too bad. You've become quite the talented doctor, Alek." she winked at him and walked around. Just a slight limp, other than that she looked dandy.
"Okay. Now that I've got my legs back, we need to get on the move. Theres a town just ahead of us if we keep going this direction, I can hear it. There we will have to steal some new clothes and maybe a proper meal. If we're lucky, we can snag some more medical supplies. You will have to cut your hair before we leave, and as will I. We're too recognizable, and I'm sure the boffin and Volger have got our faces already being watched for. And we need to keep Bovril hidden at all costs. He would give us away in a second."
Alek nodded, glad to have Deryn back in charge. She ranted for a few more minutes, then sat him down and began taking the knife to his hair. He watched the overgrown tendrils fall to the ground, and by the time she was done, there was quite the hefty pile around him. He ran his hands through it. It was short, but Deryn wouldn't make him look too terrible.
"There!" she said. "Prince? What prince? You know any archduke of Austria? Not me!" she laughed. He smiled, then took the knife from her and started hacking. Hers was already short, but he took off the locks that had grown in a bit, shaping them and giving her a much more feminine look. When he was finished, she took some of the reddest berried she could find, and smashed them into her sunbleached blonde locks. She rinsed in a puddle to get out the goop, but the berries worked. She was now a flaming redhead, the cut he'd given her making her look like an actual girl. He felt himself blush looking at her. She was beautiful.
"Right, that should do it." she said. "Now, its getting dark out, and I bet we can steal some clean clothes if we run fast."
They snuck out of the woods and into the dark streets of an unknown town. There weren't many people about, but the ones they did run into gave them strange looks. They were too obvious. Soon they came upon a street of shops, their merchandise sitting out front like he had expected. Deryn distracted the clerk of a stand full of clothes, pretending to inquire about an item while Alek secretly stuffed random articles into his bags on top of Bovril, who protested but stayed put. He whistled to Deryn whe he had finished, and they bolted, finding themselves an empty and deserted alleyway. They stripped down, stuffing all but their boots, bags and jackets into a dumpster. Deryn unraveled the bandage around her chest and threw it. Alek looked away as she dressed, not wanting to be rude. When they had finished, they looked completely different.
"Wow, your Highness." Deryn smiled. "Unrecognizable. Me?"
"Indeed, no Deryn Sharp here!"
Bovril laughed from inside Deryn's pouch and she hushed it. "Not yet, beastie. Please just keep quiet until I say so. It's too dangerous."
The two of them slipped out of they alleyway and continued down the streets, finally freed of everything they had left behind.