AUTHOR'S NOTE AND DISCLAIMER:

Wow, I never thought my first submitted fic would be an Atlantis one. Oh well. I believe that this story will treat Helga's background a little differently than most; I have my own theories about her relationship with Rourke and her husband. These will be brought out eventually, along with a few other twists. Dedicated to L, since without her prodding this fic would not exist. Hi L! *waves* I posted it! Woo!

Oh, and I own the character Nikala, but that's all. Everything else is copyright Disney. If I owned Atlantis, you can bet that it would have been Rourke who took a fall from the gyro-evac. I may also use material from "Atlantis: A Traveller's Guide to the Lost City", which has been very useful. The Atlanteans really do live in hollowed gourds you know.


CHAPTER I - Consequences


With a grunt of exertion, Helga tossed the last fuel tank over the side of the gyro-evac to burst across the cavern floor far below. "That's it," she called to Rourke, who was uselessly raging at the Atlantean ships attacking their biplanes. "Unless someone wants to jump." she added sarcastically.

Leaning forward slightly to watch the brutal aerial dogfight, she realised that the balloon was still sinking. And jumped as she felt Rourke's hands close mercilessly on her shoulders.

"Ladies first." he said with chilling casualness. And before she could react, Rourke had thrown her over the side.

Reflexively, Helga reached out and caught hold of the rail below the platform, narrowly missing losing a foot to one of the propellers as it swept past below her. She hung there for a few moments, unable to believe what had just happened. Rourke had thrown her off. Her! With a snarl of rage, Helga flipped herself back up, slamming both feet into Rourke's surprised face and knocking him back. Before he could get up, she kicked at him again, infuriated beyond reason. How dare he?!

"You said we were in this together!" she shouted as her foot flashed towards him, ignoring the Atlantean craft, which sped past behind her. Kicking him in the face twice, she drew back slightly for a powerful roundhouse. "You promised me a percentage!" But this time Rourke was ready, and caught her foot as she kicked at him.

"Next time get it in writing." he sneered, giving her leg a vicious twist. Then he pushed her back and up, over the rail and too far out for her to grab hold of anything to stop herself falling.

"ROURKE!" Helga screamed as she plummeted to the cavern floor, her hair pulling free from its ponytail and fluttering about her face. She heard his scornful shout of "Nothing personal!" echo after her, and at that point she'd have given all the treasures of Atlantis just to wipe that smug grin from his face. Helplessly twisting through the air in freefall, she saw the solid, unyielding rock hurtling towards her...

* * *

Inexpertly piloting her Martag past the great balloon, the Atlantean girl saw Helga kick at Rourke, knocking him back. She hadn't known the blonde surfacer was on their side as well... A rattle of bullets against the side of the stone fish sharply brought her attention back to her current situation, and she returned fire with a blast of the Martag's lighting weapon.

* * *

The impact with the ground had knocked Helga senseless, but sheer agony dragged her back to consciousness. She was sprawled face-down across the cavern floor, barely able to breathe. Groaning in pain, she slowly pushed herself up with her left arm. She could smell the overpowering stink of gasoline; obviously some of the fuel tanks had crashed nearby. From the sharp pains shooting through her chest, she guessed that she'd broken several ribs, and her right leg was twisted at an unnatural angle. Still, somehow she managed to push herself onto her side, the searing bolts of agony that rifled through her body only spurring her on.

Looking up through blurred eyes, she dimly saw the bright red mass of the gyro-evac high above her, rising up towards the open shaft. The hate that surged through her served as an effective painkiller. That bastard thought he'd won, that she was finished, but she'd show him...

Reaching for her flare gun with her left hand, she found it still safely tucked into her belt at her back, and slowly drew it out. Bracing her left arm with her right, she carefully took aim at the balloon, her finger on the trigger.

"Nothing personal." she muttered savagely as she fired. She watched the flare streak up towards the gyro-evac, hoping, praying it would hit. To her great satisfaction it did, and she allowed a pained smile of triumph to flicker across her face as the balloon burst into flames.

Slumping back against the hard ground, her strength spent, Helga felt dampness against her right arm as it fell outstretched at her side. The smell of gasoline was much stronger... her arm lay in a pool of the stuff. The overpowering reek of it made her aching head spin, and she closed her eyes with a wince of pain as flaming wreckage rained down about her.

Her eyes opened slightly as she heard the gyro-evac crash nearby, but she was too exhausted and agonised to move. Strangely, she felt drowsy, the pain growing distant. And she didn't see the flaming ruin of machinery that collapsed into the same pool of gasoline her arm lay in. But her eyes flared fully open as the most exquisite pain she'd ever known engulfed her arm as the gasoline erupted into flames. With a piercing shriek, Helga instinctively rolled herself away to the side despite her injuries, and immediately blacked out.

* * *

Although Helga's scream was almost entirely drowned out by the ominous rumbling of the awakening volcano, the Atlantean girl heard it. Looking round, she saw Helga's body lying forgotten on the shaking ground, dangerously close to the blazing wreck of the surfacers' flying machine. Without thinking, she darted over to her as the other surfacers were chaining Kida's pod to another Martag, and leapt from her own to land beside her. She instantly saw that the blonde woman was horribly injured, her right arm terribly burned and smoking. She would have to move her with great care; the woman must have fallen from the balloon...

Then the ground began to crack and split, lava boiling up from beneath it. In a panic, the girl seized Helga's body and slung it over the back of her Martag, then leapt onto the vehicle herself. Holding Helga on with one arm, she piloted the craft out of the cavern with the other, shooting past the Martag towing Kida's prison as the lava burst free behind them.

* * *

As what remained of the Atlantean armada raced into the city, the volcano began to erupt in earnest, lava seeping through the fissure into the cavern housing Atlantis itself. Like ever other inhabitant of the city, (not to mention Milo and the remaining crew of the Ulysses) the girl who'd saved Helga gazed in both terror and awe as Kida's crystalline form was freed from its prison and rose high into the air.

She jumped in shock as the carved stones representing the ancient kings smashed up from beneath the plaza to circle around the princess. Like every other Atlantean, she had not known of their existence, but recognised them immediately, then was forced to look away as the intensity of the light around Kida grew brighter, shooting dazzling beams across the city. Then the ground began to tremble, a shadow falling across the girl as one of the great stone giants rose from the water nearby to take its place with the others.

As she looked around wildly at the towering statues striding out towards the extreme boundary of the city, the girl caught sight of Helga's limp body lying across the back of the Martag... regardless of the importance of what was going on around her, the girl knew she'd die without immediate medical attention. With a last look of amazement towards the stone giants, now far out in the distance, she turned the Martag towards her home and sped off.

* * *

The Atlantean girl, named Nikala, had been born a few centuries after the sinking of Atlantis, and luckily for Helga had been trained as a combat healer to provide medical help in the head of battle. As a result, she paid little attention to the lava sweeping over the glowing blue dome encasing the city as she carefully lifted Helga's body from the Martag, and carried her into the giant hollowed gourd that served as her home.

Laying the blonde woman down upon the bed, Nikala briefly wondered if she was doing the right thing... should she have told someone that she'd rescued the woman? No, it would have taken too much time, and there was no way she could have fought her way through the crowd to the other surfacers. And the woman needed help now.

A quick examination told her that the woman's burned arm was by no means her only injury, though it was certainly the most severe. She also had about half a dozen broken ribs as well as deep bruises, and her right leg was broken below the knee. Biting her lip in concern as she listened to the woman's harsh, laboured breathing, Nikala removed her crystal from around her neck, and laid it gently on Helga's forehead, just above the bridge of her nose, then began to dash about the room collecting what healing supplies she'd need.

The soft blue glow of the crystal brightened slightly as it rested upon Helga's forehead, illuminating her features. Her face had been contorted in agony, but slowly began to relax as her ragged breathing grew slower and deeper. Nikala returned with a large leather satchel and a bowl of water, almost dropping the bowl in anxiety. Slightly reassured by the woman's calmer appearance, she drew a carved clamshell from the satchel, and opened it. Within it were strange-looking metal instruments carefully arranged upon the silk lining, and the blue light of the crystal glittered upon sharp and serrated blades as the girl selected an implement and began her work.