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Avenger Assembled

Wander's September Vignette: Through a Glass

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Through A Glass

The sky was gray with the dust and smoke that came with a collapsed building, billows of it that turned everything it touched a waxy, corpselike white itself. The invasion was over, but at the moment it almost seemed like the least of their troubles. This time, unlike in the invasion of hell, the damage remained behind after the invasion was over. And there were a lot of people who needed help. Right now, many of them were waiting outside of a hastily erected barricade, watching her silently and begging them with their eyes to make things better.

 

Erin did the best she could to walk lightly in the rubble that had once been a five story apartment building. Psyche, working remotely from halfway across the city, had assured her there were people alive in here, people who needed help. There were dogs and equipment, not to mention other heroes on the way, but it might be too late on a day like this with so many disasters. One superhero at the right time could make all the difference when lives were on the line. She reminded herself of that even as her stomach churned and twisted, the acrid smell in the air triggering sense memories she couldn't afford to go back to right now. The job was the thing now, and saving lives, and not letting all her power be for nothing this time.

 

“Hello?†she called, straining her ears for any noises. Her ears were her best sense, but she was no Psyche and no search dog. It was almost worse to walk through this carnage and know that there were living people somewhere nearby, that she could help them but only if she didn't screw up. She was listening so hard that at first she thought the noise she actually heard was a figment of her imagination, it was so faint. But it was real, a scratching from halfway across the collapse site, as of someone trying to move the debris. She resisted the urge to leap, unsure of what a landing would do, and instead raced as quickly and lightly as she could to the source of the sound. “Can you hear me?†she called. There was a murmur from the families watching beyond the barricades at her sudden movement, but they quieted quickly, knowing that their silence was her success.

 

“Here!†came a voice from down in the piles of rubble. “We're down here, help us!†Young, Erin thought, sounded like a kid. God...

 

“It's all right!†she called. “I'm Wander, I'm from Young Freedom! I'm going to help you! Just hold on and be brave, okay?†Working quickly and carefully, she sorted out the massive pieces of fallen building, pushing them aside carefully so as to try and disrupt the pile as little as possible. She'd had extensive training in disaster relief as well as combat; she knew what a shifting field of debris could do to a trapped victim. It was an endless five minutes before she opened enough of a clearing to see through to the victims. Two boys, she realized, one maybe twelve or thirteen, the other younger. It looked like they'd gotten lucky, wedging themselves into a closet that had collapsed into a protective triangle over their heads.

 

“We're okay,†the older boy said, his arms wrapped around what had to be his younger sibling. “Kind of... my leg hurts,†he admitted. “My mom... my mom was over in the kitchen, just next to us,†he told Erin urgently. “We heard her yell out when everything was falling. Is she okay? Did she get out?â€

 

From where she was, Erin could only see a little bit of the rest of what had once been a decent apartment. She shifted just a little bit to get a better idea of what was around, catching a glimpse of a metal sink and pipes that said kitchen. “Just a second...†Sliding her way across patches of crumbled drywall, she made her way over there and shone her flashlight into a gap between joists. Her light picked up the blood first, and then the casualty. Adult female DOA, Erin told herself, making herself be clinical about it. She had work to do.

 

Returning to the boys, she blanked her face to impassive concentration. “I'm going to get you out of there,†she promised again. “You're going to have to be very brave.†It was only much later, long after the boys were reunited with their father and that building and many others like it were cleared that she allowed herself to acknowledge how long they were going to have to be brave for.

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