Her body is vibrating, sweat dripping from her hair onto her arms, burning when it reaches the gashes there. The Feds have retreated, leaving her alone among the bodies of the Reavers she has so recently killed.
She can still hear their anger, feel their hunger. It hangs in the air like some kind of putrid mist. She can feel it seeping into her pores. She wants to vomit.
“River, answer me.”
Should she answer to the girl’s name when she is no longer the girl but the weapon? The man is worried. She can feel his fear oozing into her brain even without trying to. She meets his eyes and his fear spikes. He knows the weapon is looking back at him, not the girl.
“Stand down, River. That’s an order.”
Something inside her brain shifts. She can feel the weapon receding back to the hidden place in her mind. She can feel her muscles start to relax from their battle readiness, can feel the exhaustion setting in. She starts to sway. The ax she was holding makes a dull thud as it drops to the ground.
“Whoa there, darling.”
The man grabs her arm to steady her. Her muscles start to tense until her brain reminds her body that this man is an ally, not an enemy. There is blackness encroaching on the edges of her vision. The adrenaline is receding and she knows there isn’t much time before she loses consciousness.
“You gonna be alright?”
Her body starts to fall. She falls toward the man, knowing he won’t let her land upon the bodies of the Reavers despite the fact that he himself is injured. She relishes the feeling of being held, even if it lasts only a second. Her eyes meet his one last time before she submits to the darkness. She knows that he can see the girl in her eyes.
“Welcome back, albatross.”