They ran through the desert, holding Rodney's limp body; there was blood all over his person but he didn't make a noise.
"Help!" Towns screamed at the top of his voice. "We need help!"
They had to get back to camp — Rodney needed urgent medical attention if he were to live. Towns knew that there was a slim chance of that happening; besides, he would need water...and their supply was already dangerously low.
They were met halfway to camp by the others; panic reigned as they discovered that he had been shot point-blank. Hands helped as they rushed him to a flat surface. Someone shoved the items off the makeshift table and Rodney was placed there.
"Will he live!" AJ was asking. Rodney had come to cover him...the gun had been aimed at his chest but Rodney had seen, had pushed him away...it should have been him there, him dying...
Kelly was on her knees beside Rodney. The look of her face was resigned, as was her voice. "We need water...water to clean the wound."
"How much do we need?" someone asked.
"As much as it takes!" AJ yelled.
Rodney was gesturing, weakly...Towns leaned down as he tried to speak.
"Don't let...it end," Rodney gasped, weak and dying. "Don't let it end this way...make the Phoenix fly..."
Towns tried to stop him; if he saved his energy, maybe, just maybe he would stand a chance...
But Rodney was persistent. "Make her fly..." It was painful to hear him speak; he was half-gasping his words. Towns knew, knew that Rodney was speaking out of sheer willpower. The shot had entered his chest, most likely near the heart. "Fly them out...Don't crash..."
He was close to death. Despite everyone else's effort, despite AJ's yelling at them to do something, Rodney would die.
Rodney took one last shuddering breath. He used it to tell Towns one last time:
"Make the Phoenix fly."