She couldn't help the gasp that escaped from her lips as the ceiling crashed down on top of them, nor the unladylike grunt as her body hit the floor and the mass of rock forced the air from her lungs. Her vision swam for a few moments, the spinning of the walls having nothing to do with the rockfall.
" Helen!" She heard Nicola shouted somewhere nearby still obscured by the tendrils of debris still trickling from the ceiling. " Helen!!"
Somewhere in between him calling her name and her eyes opening again time passed. How much she wasn't able to tell but by the frantic efforts of Tesla she'd obviously given him one hell of a fright.
" Helen, dear Lord answer me Helen!"
" Nicola…" Her voice sounded faint even to her own ears, hoarse and scratchy from her throat being coated in dust. She coughed, half chocking on the thick air before snatching enough oxygen to continue " Nicola!"
" Thank God" She heard him reply, more scraping as he pulled more of the rock away to get closer to her. She could see flashes of his body through the cracks in the rocks, his fingers and hands bloodied by the constant abuse, apart from that though, he seemed unharmed.
Helen took stock of her situation, realizing in fairly short order that she had borne the brunt of the ceiling collapse, and was still partially buried in the pressure on her legs and lower back were anything to go by. The rock near her face shifted and was replaced with Nicola's face, and for once Helen wasn't prepared for what she saw there. He was terrified. Terrified for her.
" Are you hurt?" He asked, hauling a few of the larger stones out of the way to better access her. He vanished out of her field of view for a moment, only to reappear seconds later.
Helen paused, taking stock of her body and its responses, gauging what would be a major problem and what could be dealt with at a more appropriate time. Her enquiries to the lower parts of her body remained unanswered, she couldn't move, she couldn't feel.
" I can't feel anything below my waist…" She admitted, the tremor in her own voice a testament to her concern. Her vision was clearing this time, the sting in her cheek reminding her of its presence as she tried to look at the oppressive weight against her lower back. A thousand precautions guarding against spinal damage raced through her mind, but she didn't have the time nor the energy to pay them any heed.
A grunt from beside her told her Nicola was trying to move the rocks pinning her , with some success it seemed. The pressure against her spine eased, sending a rush of blood to her lower extremities that would be very painful in a few moments.
" Can you wiggle forward?" He asked, bracing himself against the single stone piece that stood between her and freedom. Still unable to feel anything definitive below her waist Helen nodded and clawed her way forward, feeling as though she were dragging two useless weights behind her. As soon as her boots cleared the debris Nicola dropped the stone and hurried forward, grabbing her under the arms to help her over to the wall.
" Thanks " She said softly, humiliated that this could put an end to their mission. If she couldn't walk… how could she make sure John, James and Nicola didn't try to kill each other and take the 'source' for their own devices. She leant back against the wall, leaning her head back and sucking in lungfulls of the now clearing air. Rank and old as it was it was almost like the elixir of life to her.
After several minutes she gasped again, the sensation in her legs like someone was pouring boiling water through her veins then slicing into them with a carving knife. She squeezed her eyes shut and balled her hands into fists to keep from screaming.
" What's wrong?" Nicola hovered, resting against the wall next to her and brushing the worst of the debris of his clothing, his concerned eyes scanning her body for any obvious signs of injury.
" Nothing that won't… pass…in a few moments… pins and needles I believe is the layman's term… although this is more ice picks and sledge hammers" She replied, controlling her breathing in an effort to control the pain that radiated from muscles being starved of blood for too long.
True to her theory the pain lessened after a few minutes, and she was rewarded with the return of feeling as well as movement. Flexing her knees experimentally she levered herself upwards, leaning on Nicola to gain her balance once she was on her feet. A few wobbly steps and she was as good as she was going to get, nodding when Nicola cast her a questioning glance.
" Lets get going again shall we?" She prompted, retrieving her pack from the rubble and dabbing a handkerchief against the slowly oozing cut on her cheek.
" I really should speak to the owners about the state of this place, the maintenance is appalling" Tesla quipped, staying close by her side should she require his aid again.
They backtracked the way they had come, using the map her father had provided to find their way around the rock fall.
" Nicola…thank you" She said quietly as the others came into view, her eyes speaking volumes even though her voice couldn't. If John had found out that she'd been injured, he'd no doubt stay true to his previous threat, thus, if he suspected nothing, then they could all continue on their mission.