It was dark inside the bunker where one of the rebels had dragged him. Dark and cold. He'd been unconscious for some time - he didn't know how long - but hunger and thirst and a pounding headache drove him awake.
When he touched the floor of the bunker, his fingers touched wetness. The whole place smelled of blood and then he remembered. The explosion. His shattered leg.
He was leaning against the door when he woke up so it didn't take much effort to find a place to grip the fame so he could pull the thing open.
Outside, there was more darkness.
But a full moon shone down and made his path clearer.
He crawled out of the bunker. His leg burned like a hundred fires but staying in an enemy bunker was suicide. It was a wonder no one had found him.
As he made his way toward the facility, a faint smell worked up his nose and settled in the back of his head. He almost vomited when he realized it was some kind of gas.
He'd be dead in a moment.
But aside from making his headache worse - much worse - he was still upright. Still moving.
The facility stood in the moonlight, silent and ghostly. There were no guards like there had been when they'd first arrived. Nothing.
His foot tripped over something and he fell forward.
When he scrambled up, trying not to put weight on his injured leg, he saw what he'd tripped over.
One of the rebels, though he didn't recognize the man.
Now that he looked up, looked ahead, he could see so many more bodies littering the ground, lying where they'd fallen. There were at least two dozen that he could see and as he clenched his jaw and went forward, there were more.
He found the exploded husk of a truck. Their truck. There were no recognizable bodies inside.
He passed the facility, went through the gardens ringing the building.
Another body - two bodies. He recognized them this time. His captain, his leader. Casián. And the girl who'd brought them all here. Jean or Jeanne Erso or something like that. He paused for a moment and rested his hand on Casián's chest, head bowed. He crossed himself, a moment of silence for his leader.
Casián had broken him out of a German prison. He'd followed the man ever since. And now Casián was dead.
Of course Casián had known the dangers.
But that thought did nothing to lessen the ache in Melshi's chest.
He turned around. There had been one or two vehicles in the motor pool that looked intact. He couldn't take them very far since he obviously wasn't a German soldier, but they would get him away from this place.
He needed to escape. The allies needed to know what had happened here.
They needed to know the heroism of Casián and the others.
Leah Morgan, secretary to Colonel Benjamin Kentworthy, stood outside her commander's office, the latest intelligence in her trembling hands. This-this was bigger than anything she'd had the privilege of delivering to the colonel before. This could change the course of the war.
She knocked on the door again.
These days the colonel was so busy with telephone calls from different intelligence branches that he sometimes didn't hear her knock until the third or fourth time. He was, after all, the nerve center of the resistance efforts in both France and Germany.
And she knew better than going in unannounced. She might be secretary to one of the highest-ranked intelligence officers, but there were still things not meant for her eyes.
"Come in," came a voice from the other side.
Leah turned the doorknob and entered, the papers shaking in her hands.
"Sir, the report from the facility on Skaref has come in."
His eyebrows rose. "Oh? And what have they sent us?"
She couldn't control the smile that rose from her heart. "Hope."
A hope she had utter faith in.
A/N: It's been a journey! At times I wasn't sure I'd finish this story...but I was determined to. I realize that I had Melshi's leg being blown off in an earlier chapter but it didn't work for the ending I have in mind. If I ever clean up all the continuity errors, I'll be sure to rectify that. :)