Just like last year, I'm posting these basically the day they're written, so it's likely there'll be mistakes. If you notice a major one, let me know and I'll try to fix it.
“Cousin Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy has asked you to dance.”
She swallowed, her mouth dry and dusty. “I…”
“He’s so wealthy, Lizzie!” An older woman exclaimed, leaning close, deploying a fan expertly.
Libby tried to focus on the other woman. Her hair was done up in ringlets, and there were gaudy jewels hanging from her ears and her neck. Her dress was maroon satin and covered in handmade lace. Libby could focus on the lace, could see each individual thread and swoop, but she couldn’t see the woman’s face, couldn’t focus on her eyes.
“I’m not that Elizabeth,” Libby managed, struggling to form the words. Didn’t they understand something was wrong? Her leg ached, and she tried to look down at it.
“But, my dear, Mr. Darcy—”
The woman was clinging to Libby’s arm, pulling at her, and she tried to struggle away. “I’m not that Elizabeth!”
The woman was a man now, wearing an official looking redcoat uniform, with bright blue eyes and a perfectly trimmed beard. “Please be still.” His voice was steady, and he didn’t sound like the rest of them.
“I’m not that Elizabeth,” she whispered again, hoping he’d understand. “I’m not.”
“Okay.” He agreed, and squeezed her hand. “Is your name Elizabeth though?”
She was laying down now, on a chaise. “I don’t need a fainting couch. I’m okay.”
“I’m relatively sure you’re not,” he muttered, and his gloves felt rough against her arm. Where had her gloves gone? “Is your name Elizabeth?”
“Libby.” She swallowed, watching his face. “Are you Mr. Darcy?”
He blinked at her, shocked. “…not sure how to answer that.” He cleared his throat. “What’s your last name, Libby?”
“Wade. Libby Wade.”
“Okay, Miss Libby Wade. I’m Captain Halliday. Do you know where you are?”
“Okay.” He nodded, and started checking her for injuries, her arms and her abdomen. “What do you remember?”
“My cousin wants me to dance with Mr. Darcy.”
He froze for a second. “I’m pretty sure that’s the concussion talking, Miss Wade.”
She leaned her head back, a throbbing pain coming from her leg. “Concussion. I have a concussion.” She blinked, the candlelight slowly morphing into a yellow mining lamp on the ground next to her. “There was an explosion.”
“Run, Libby! It’s not going to hold.”
“I can’t leave you here—”
She struggled, trying to sit up. “James…”
“Don’t move.” The man holding her down was wearing yellow search and rescue gear, and he expertly kept her from getting up. “Your leg is definitely injured.”
“We were in the docking bay, and there was a malfunction. James…” Libby closed her eyes. “James was…was…”
He touched his communication box. “I’ve got one, I think she fell out of the ducting. She said they were on the docking bay.”
“The docking bay is gone,” a voice said darkly. “We’ll keep looking. Do you need assistance?”
“No. I’ll stabilize her and bring her up.” He looked down at her. “Do you know where you are now, Miss Wade?”
She swallowed, and leaned her head back, her pulse slowing. “Pacific Intercoastal City,” Libby answered.
He pulled out a first aide diagnostic scanner, and held it over her leg. “I think we’ll be able to just stabilize this.”
Libby closed her eyes. “Did I ask if you were Mr. Darcy?”
“You did.” He nodded. The diagnostic beeped, and he sat it down and started unpacking a crash board. “Do you feel like you’re injured anywhere but the leg?”
Her head picked then to clang particularly hard, and she breathed through it. “Other than the marching band in my head, no.”
He made a small noise. “I can’t really do anything about that here.” He glanced up at her. “You’d probably rather medical do it anyway. But I’ll be gentle moving you onto the board.”
Libby was pretty sure he was lying. “Does that ever happen gentle?”
Those blue blue eyes looked at her, in the low light, and her stomach flipped. Concussion, and he’s a professional. He’s just pretty.
“It does if the person knows what they’re doing,” he grumbled.
Something pushed against her leg, and she felt him snap it around her ankle and just above and below her knee. Libby stared at the jagged metal hole in the ceiling. She almost asked if he’d given her something, but she recognized the part of blood loss that made you feel calm and floaty. “I think I might throw up.”
He stopped, and moved up to look in her eyes. “Let’s not do that.” He ran the diagnostic over her chest and attached something to her wrist. “Her bp is dropping and I don’t think it’s coming out of her leg,” he said into the radio. “Have medical ready.”
Libby blinked, he’d wrapped an arm around her shoulders and lifted her off the floor, sliding the deployable stretcher under her as far down as he could, and then stabilized her legs together and lifted them just far enough to pull the stretched down the rest of the way. It beeped and hissed as it secured her in, the bubble flashing over her.
“See, smooth as silk,” he attached the mechanical lifters and stood up. “If you still feel like you’re going to vomit tell me. We’ll be on the other side in a second,” his voice came from the pad behind her head, through the communication system attached to the sled.
Libby kept her eyes open. He pushed her through the emergency airlock the system had slammed up to cut off the water. Pacific Intercoastal was one of the older gen of floating cities, more than two thirds of the thing was under the water and once you poked a hole in it, it locked down hard to keep all of that from filling up and turning the floating city into a more modernized Titanic. Halliday’s search and rescue suit had grown into a full-body swimmer, with the jet assist, and she could tell from the pull he was pushing as hard and as fast as he could, for the emergency dock at the top level.
So, she was probably bleeding internally. Her leg wasn’t injured enough for the rush. Libby closed her eyes and wondered if she’d start hallucinating Mr. Darcy again. It’d been a pretty dress.