They found her, underneath the bodies of her squadmates. Gossard's scans had indicated a life form in the valley, and they homed in on that beacon. When the Roughnecks arrived in the area, Razak fanned them out in teams of two.
"Just because nothing's moving, doesn't mean nothing's dead," he whispered.
Gossard and Doc headed out at the two o'clock position, with T'Phai and Brutto, in the Marauder, in the ten o'clock position. Dizzy and Rico took the rear and Razak had point.
The air reaked of chaos, and the ground still smoked where the bombs had gone off, destroying, literally, everything in the area. Which was the reason they were surpised at the scanner's readings.
Gossard and Doc approached a mound of dead warriors, their carcasses cracked from the heat and fire of the bombs' blasts. Several yards further, there was a small pile of bodies. Human bodies. Their corpses formed a line where they'd stood, defending themselves.
While Gossard turned to scan the area, Doc flipped down his visor. Just to check.
Sure enough, the beacon was flashing right at the pile of human bodies.
Doc hurried forward, Gossard a step behind.
"What you got, Doc?"
"Not sure. But definitely, somethin'."
Gossard aimed the Morita while Doc gingerly pried the bodies apart. Underneath, a still form breathed.
And on her helmet, was the name: Roland.
"Lieutenant!" Gossard shouted out.
Doc couldn't see past the female trooper's faceplate, for it was cracked. The trooper was definitely female, and definitely wounded. Not only did the condensation fog her faceplate, but he could see blood, as well.
As he ran a quick scan over her, he could hear the footsteps of the others as they run up to him.
"What is it, Doc?" Razak queried.
"The only one alive, El-tee. Concussion, ruptured spleen, three broken ribs, and a broken femur."
Razak turned on Rico. "Get Ibanez down here now!"
That was all Carl could extract from Kai Roland's memory. Just hearing the voices of whoever found her. He knew the Roughnecks, recognized their voices, but what fatigued him was the void in her mind. There was absolutely nothing before her rescue.
Carl leaned against the paned window that separated him and Doctor McCormick from Roland. Kai, who was in her fourth day of recuperating in the tank, still hadn't regained consciousness. Roland was the sole survivor of her squad.
"Anything?" He quietly asked McCormick.
The auburned physician shook her head, reading their gathered data.
"Not a thing." McCormick suspiciously looked around, then lowered her voice, "I've disconnected life-support. And yet, check out her vital signs. Her system is fighting to stay alive."
Carl held up a hand. "Mac! What're you doing?"
"Jenkins, I'm not telling you to clear my conscience. And I'm not telling you, because I'm running a test on her. SICON ordered me to give her body twenty-four hours to prove that she can sustain herself."
Carl didn't like the sound of that. "They what?!"
McCormick nodded. "They wanted to see if she could go back out into the field."
"What the hell for? So she could endure the natural process of mind-elimination? There isn't anything in her, Mac. Like she's a ghost, or something. There's nothing, do you understand?"
McCormick's eyes flashed. "Whose side do you think I'm on, Private? Even *I* know her body doesn't need any more battle-fatigue."
"Then don't kill her if she's made it this far."
"It's out of my hands, Jenkins."
Carl sighed. They'd had similar conversations in the weeks he'd been assigned to McCormick's clinic. He didn't condone her actions, yet at the same time, she'd earned his trust, and he wasn't going to forget that. He turned to stare at Roland. "What was she doing down there, Doc?"
McCormick looked sympathetically at her comatose patient. "Her job."
Kai Roland floated in a sea of fog. She could hear the firefight, felt it as if it enveloped her completely, could hear the screeching warriors. But couldn't see a thing.
She tried to move. It was natural, her spirit cried out to grab the useless rifle and hammer out another hundred rounds. But she didn't move. She couldn't move. And she wondered why. For the last time before the fog took her.