Lydia slowed her pace to walk alongside him; together they slowed further. The wind was picking up and visibility was just getting worse. “Rose Dawn! Is there anything you can do to shut this wind off?” he shouted into his phone.
“Negative. I can shut off the temperature variations that alter local air pressure zones, but I can’t specify where the winds will blow or when precisely they will stop.”
Dann sighed. It had been worth a try. “Thanks anyway,” he shouted. His fingers were crimping closed around the device despite the cold weather gear they’d found in the stores of the bay. He shielded his eyes from the blowing snow, trying to catch sight of anything moving near them.
He paused suddenly, though he couldn’t have said why. A hint of shadow, maybe, or even less, the suggestion of a pattern against the blowing snow that wreathed the simulated mountainside. He lost it just as quickly though, and stood looking about in futility for any sign of what he was sure he hadn’t imagined. The area was empty to his eyes, even their own footprints lost within seconds to the scouring of wind and snow.
When he turned back again, Lydia was gone.
One second she’d been preparing to ask Dann what he’d seen, and the next everything was a blur. Something or someone had hit her hard and at a fantastic speed; she was trapped in its grip and rolling down a steep section of the mountainside before she could say or do a thing.
The descent was over quickly; she hit hard against a flat, cold surface and immediately felt a series of quick blows rain down over her face and upper body. Reacting instinctively to her years of training, she was able to block most of them without seeing them, but the ones that got through hit hard. The grinning face before hers could only have been Cobb’s.
Slamming her elbow around and into the side of her face, she kicked up with her knee at the same moment; he cried out and rolled away from her with a sharp gasping intake of breath and a wheeze. She rolled off in the other direction before trying to get to her feet; it felt like they’d landed on an icy surface.
“Clever of you to split up to come after me!” his voice came at her. It was thin and reedy against the howl of the wind, but she could hear the touch of madness as clearly as she felt the bruises forming on her face. “I’d wanted to catch you all together, but if I have to end you all before I see each of you, so be it!”
“You’re a nut-job, Cobb,” she spat. “What are you babbling about?” She had her pistol in hand; she didn’t want to risk the sub-machine gun’s more erratic fire while she didn’t know where Dann was.
He crashed into her from behind, knocking her face first into the ice. His footing had been unsure on the slippery surface though, and she managed to roll with the blow; he couldn’t get a grip on her. Blood gushed from her nose; she didn’t think it was broken, but she’d be feeling it for a while.
He swore and grinned as she got her feet under her again and brought the pistol around. He was circling quickly around her; she turned to try and keep him in her sights. “I’ve got a secret! Even the traitor computer doesn’t know. We traveled hundreds of years to reach a new sun that we’ll never live under thanks to you traitors. My sun’ll blow your plans just as dead as you could please!”
He was fiddling with something at his belt; a control device of some sort. The import of his words joined with that image and her breath caught, panic rising in her for one brief moment. Lila! If he blew up the ship, she was dead too.
Cobb was tensing for another spring, but she beat him to it; she threw herself at him with a ferocity and fury that for one brief moment brought a look of shocked clarity back to his features, and then they were down.
She clubbed him senseless with the pistol, heedless of the pain in her fingers where the metal bit into her, heedless of the ominous creaking and groaning of the ice underneath them. Cobb’s face was a bloody pulp, but he fought back, trying to block her attacks. He wasn’t very successful at that, but he did manage to entangle her legs in his. She felt his forearm crushing into her throat, trying to force her off of him when, with a gunshot crack, the ice split beneath them, and together they vanished into the ice-cold river below.
His shout died on his lips as he saw them abruptly vanish. He ran as close as he could to the spot where they’d fallen; there was no sign of them save for the cracked and broken ice, already refreezing in the frigid air and wind.
“Lydia!” he called, searching for any sign of her under the ice. He grabbed his knife from his belt and tried to break an opening in the surface, but it was too thick where he was standing, and too thin to approach the broken part.
“There’s nothing you can do now, Dann,” Rose’s voice said over the ear piece. “I heard her fight with Cobb over her connection. She saved all of us. She saved her daughter. You have to come back now.”