People started to congregate around them. One of them, a man in his early twenties with brown hair and pale skin looked at Nate. 'What do we do?'
Nate looked round. 'First thing, we open those doors, in case they need to get more people in.'
Jess started counting things off on her fingers. 'We've got battery backups, we need to get them to the treatment rooms here and in ICU, then we need to check the other units, make sure they're taking care of. I'll tackle the supply closet. You got the doors?'
Nate started heading for the door. 'I'm on it.' He glanced at the brown haired man. 'Gimmie a hand here.'
As the two made for the doors, Nate called over his shoulder. 'Don't wait for us, we'll catch you up.'
Nate examined the doors carefully, standard sliding doors without a gap big enough for him to get his fingers into.
'Typical' He muttered. He glanced up at his companion. 'I'm going to pull them open telekinetically, ok? Once there's a big enough gap, grab a door and pull. I'm Nate, by the way.'
The man nodded 'Rick.'
Nate backed a pace or two away from the doors, closed his eyes and concentrated. Muscles stood out on his neck and the doors ground open a few inches. Rick grabbed the door and started pulling, holding them open against their frozen motors. Nate grasped the other door and heaved. The doors resisted, but with no power to their motors, they could only resist so much and Nate and Rick were able to wrestle them open.
'We better wedge them open, just in case.' Rick was already hunting around, and returned with a door wedge and a notepad from behind reception. He folded the pad several times and forced it into place under one door, then hammered the wedge in under the other.
'There, that ought to hold them.'
Nate nodded agreement. 'We better go help the others.'
Rick looked at him 'You guys are incredible… the way you keep your heads in all this…'
Nate grinned. 'You should have seen me earlier today; I broke two of my own fingers to stop myself going nuts. Don’t read anything into me being calm now, I'm just saving up my panic for later, when it wont hurt anyone.' He headed off toward Jess 'Come on!'
Shaking his head in disbelief, Rick trailed after him.
Jess had organized her work crew into a human chain, passing the battery units out of the store room and loading them onto gurneys. Once a gurney was loaded, someone would take it and head to one of the departments with it.
Nate pulled a fresh gurney over and started loading it. 'Everyone's a hero Rick, all of us. We just need a chance to prove it. Rick and several others quickly helped him fill it, and it was pushed down the corridor and through the double doors that led to Emergency.
Nate dodged aside as another gurney was wheeled into position, most of Jess work crew were now heading to departments with the batteries.
'Jess, I can lift a lot of these through telekinesis, and it looks like we're out of gurneys, do we need more?'
She nodded. 'We need to take that gurney plus what ever you can lift and get them into ICU… they'll need a lot in there. The other departments are taken care of already, I sent people out with the first few loads.'
Rick and the other remaining helper finished loading the gurney and were looking to Jess for directions. She pointed to the broad yellow line painted on the floor. 'Follow that, it leads to Emergency, they still need more in there.' The woman pushing the gurney headed off, following the line.
She looked at Nate, who was regarding the remaining palette of batteries speculatively. 'Can you manage that?'
He nodded. 'I think so…' He closed his eyes and raised one hand, like a waiter carrying a tray. The palette rose slowly into the air and hovered at shoulder height. He opened his eyes and looked round. 'Where too?'
Jess pointed to another colored line on the floor. 'We'll catch you up soon as we're done in Emergency.'
She dashed off after the gurney.
Nate looked round, 'Come on Rick. I cant keep this thing up for ever, and I'll need your help unloading…'
When they reached ICU, Nate lowered his palette to the floor with an expression of relief and cupped his hands round his mouth.
'Got batteries here! Where you need them?'
A relieved looking nurse hurried up and started unloading them, passing them to her helpers who hurried to wire them up.
Nate watched the nurse wire one in and it seemed easy enough, he picked on up. 'Where you want this?' The nurse pointed to a bed on the far side of the room, its occupant wired into a machine that appeared to be feeding him fluids, although Nate couldn’t swear to it. He started wiring the battery in, slowly and carefully, not wanting to make any mistakes. Out the corner of his eye he saw Rick working on another machine.
Jess and the woman helping her arrived, pushing the half loaded gurney. The nurse directed them down to the far end of the room and they started connecting up machines down there.
It took them nearly ten minutes to connect all the machines. Nate finished the one he was working on and looked up. With all the glowing telltale lights, the darkened room had a vague resemblance to a star field, glowing in all the colors of the spectrum. White, green, orange and red. An occasional beep issued from one machine or another.
He walked over to Jess who was standing in the doorway, looking around the room.
'Jess, are we done here?'
She nodded stiffly, still staring at the equipment.
Huh? Thought Nate, what's bugging her? He looked round, a roomful of occupied beds, each patient connected up to the machines that were keeping them alive. Oh, I get it… people wired into machines…
He stepped in front of her, deliberately blocking her view and whispered. 'Relax, this is not the arc…'
She nodded slowly, trying to stare through his shoulder.
'These machines are under OUR control, yes? Not the other way round. Now come on, we've still got more to do.'
Jess shuddered slightly, then finally nodded. She closed her eyes and then let her breath out slowly. 'We need to check on the generator...' She dropped her voice and said very quietly: 'Thanks…'
Nate replied equally quietly 'Don’t worry about it.' Yeah, he thought, your right: things DO hide in the dark… and I'm a Poltergeist Shaman… we understand fear… and not everything that hides in the dark is your enemy…
He raised his voice to a normal conversational level. 'The generator? Tell us what to do.'
Keep her busy; don’t let her brood…
'We need to assess what happened, see if we can fix it - get the power back on… it might be something simple.'
Nate shook his head. 'I'm no mechanic... not going to be much use on this…'
Jess grinned at him… 'Same here, I'll call dispatch and they can talk us through it.'
'Ok, one second then.'
Nate headed over to the duty nurse. 'Do you want any help in here? I've got some volunteers right here…' He gestured at Rick and the woman.
The nurse smiled gratefully at him. 'We need to keep tabs on the equipment. The batteries should keep us going... but there's no telling how much charge they really have...'
'If you want 'em to help, run errands, carry messages, raid the canteen, whatever. Grab 'em now.'
'We could use you the help.'
Nate looked at Rick and the woman. 'You guys ok with staying here?' They nodded. 'Good,' he indicated the nurse. 'Take your orders from this woman here.
Nate headed for the door, Jess ahead of him. He stopped and looked back when Rick called him. 'Hey Nate? Thanks.'
For showing you how to be a hero? No problems. He smiled back at Rick. 'Stay useful, ok? We're going to fix that generator.'
'Good luck with that.'
Nate turned to the door again, then hesitated. He pulled his torch out of the air and tossed it to the nurse. 'You might need this.'
Outside in the corridor, he caught up with Jess who was moving quickly down the corridors.
'Ok, I get lost easy, so you better lead the way.'
Jess smiled at him 'If there's one thing I know about hospitals is the way out of their emergency wards.'
He considered this for a moment. 'I'll bet you wish you didn't though...'
After several more minutes trotting through dark corridors, Jess pushed open a door and they were outside in a small yard with a tall metal fence round it. The generator was a dark mass at one end of the yard and the darkened city could be seen over the fence.
Out in the open air, Jess seemed to relax slightly.
Nate looked at her. 'Better?'
She nodded, but the movement was sharp - she was still on edge.
Nate gazed out at the blackened city. 'Damn, I ain't never seen it this dark before…'
Jess joined him in regarding the view over the fence. She spoke quietly. 'They need to get a hold of this soon… there's been some isolated incidents, but…' She shook her head.
'Trouble? Honest working criminals taking advantage of the lack of burglar alarms? Or is it worse?'
'From what I heard over dispatch, mostly gang action, turf wars… late night shoppers, that kind of thing. Mob mentality.'
Nate shook his head. 'Kinda to be expected when you think about it... You'd think at times like this, they'd give it a break, just for one night.'
'Some do... but its like dealing with cockroaches. No threat, they come out of the wood work.'
They crossed over to examine the generator, even a quick examination was enough. It was scorched, and had obviously been on fire, parts of it looked melted.
Nate threw up his hands in disgust. 'Oh well that's just great.... I take it you ain't got a spare on of these in a closet somewhere?'
Jess shook her head. 'Nope. We have got spares… loaded on flatbeds… but that would involve getting it here, and the way things are tonight, you can forget it, for an hour at least. I'll tell dispatch though.
Whilst Jess radioed Dispatch with the situation, Nate stared thoughtfully at the ruined generator. He sniffed the air carefully, then crouching down, dipped his fingers in a puddle and sniffed at his fingers.
He stood up, frowning.
Jess clipped the radio back onto her belt and looked at him. 'What's wrong?'
'What's this thing run on? Diesel?'
'Only I can smell regular gas.' He turned and looked at her. 'Which means someone torched this thing.'
Jess looked at the generator in disbelief. 'Like the world doesn't have enough trouble right now…'
Nate was looking around carefully, examining each patch of shadow in turn.
'Yeah… next question: Was it just to screw the hospital up, or is it a setup for something? Some gang after drugs or something?'
Jess was scanning the shadows as well now. 'I really don't need to start thinking along those lines… are you thinking set-up?'
Nate started walking almost casually back toward the door. 'What ever gives you that idea? Lets get back inside, fast.'
'I can't believe I'm actually looking forward to being back inside.' Jess was trying to watch everything at once as she headed for the door.
Nate spoke in an almost conversational tone, like he was discussing the weather. 'I hear that. Walk, don't run. If they can see us, they'll know something is wrong.' He started gathering in mana for a spell, just in case. Jess shivered as his shamanic mask started to manifest, the air around him seemingly chilling to only a few degrees above zero.
She glanced around again. 'We better head back to ICU… and as much as I hate to say it, close the doors and wedge them shut.' She slipped through the door and glanced up the corridor, which was deserted.
Nate paused in the doorway, taking one last look around the yard. 'Yeah, we better get over to the doors me and Rick wedged OPEN as well.'
Although he couldn’t swear to it, Nate thought he could see movement in the far corner of the yard, half hidden by the darkness and the bulk of the generator. He stepped into the corridor and pushed the door shut. 'Where's the lock on this thing?'
Jess glanced down the corridor again. 'They're not supposed to lock…'
'Great… uh… ok, something we can wedge under the handle then. I think I saw people out there. I could hold it shut magically, but only whilst I can see it…'
Jess pulled a multi-tool out of her pocket. 'I've got it.' She folded out the pliers on the tool and wedged them into the gap between the door and its frame, next to the handle - effectively jamming the door shut.
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