The Red Sunset

Chapter 1

John Doe

(A/N Well, let's begin. I don't have anything much to say.)



He was lucky that damn idiot of a soldier undid his hand cuffs so could go "pee." That soldier was a true idiot. Once he was done with his business he quickly punched his guard out and ran out of the small military camp. The wind had started to pick up and the suns had fully set with only the faintest kiss of light on the horizon. Three of the five moons were rising up into the sky but they were hazy as the storm moved closer.

He knew he had to hide from the soldiers and from the oncoming sandstorm. There was a large rock outcropping not far from where he was. The light from the moons were dying fast and the winds were only growing faster. The sand was starting to blast against his exposed skin and uncovered wounds. The storm was fast moving and the strong winds were already proceeding it. It was going to be humdinger of a sandstorm.

The soldiers were close on his heels as he made it to the rocks. He needed to find a place to hunker down to protect himself from the storm and to hide from the military. He wasn't really happy when no one came back to help him escape. He would do the same for any of them. He would have gone back for any of them. And his brother of all people really should have turned around.

He shook his head. He'd worry about his abandonment issues later. He had a roaring storm in front of him and a furious military behind him. He heard a bullet wiz by his head. Damn they were closer than he thought. He quickly ducked behind a large rock to avoid getting hit as more bullet came at him.

"Give it up, Vash! If we don't get you this storm will," one of the soldiers yelled, over the winds. "You're wounded and ill equipped to stay out in this type of weather. You know that some of these storms can last for a few hours. Give up now and come back to the camp!"

Vash wasn't stupid enough to answer. They were too close to his position. They could locate him easily even over the wind that whistled past his ears. If he could just hold his spot a little longer he knew even the military would have to retreat to safety of their tanks and cars. The wind whipped sand stung his wounds like millions of tiny bullets and the roughness was starting to chap his bare skin. But he had to wait it out until the military backed down. It was getting so hard to see. He didn't have any goggles for his eyes and nothing to cover his nose and mouth. They had ripped off his coat to get to his large wounds and to check for any hidden weapons. His glasses and sand-filter were in his discarded coat.

He could no longer keep his eyes open as he hunkered down again the flat face of the large rock. It was far too open. He was getting pelted relentlessly but he couldn't move until the military cleared. It felt like forever before Vash heard the bugle call waver through the wind for everyone to fall back to the safety of the camp. He could faintly make out the shadows of the soldiers retreat through his cracked eyelids.

Feeling that they may have left he stuck close to the ground, looking for a large enough crevice in the rocks that he could slip into. That soldier was right. No one knew how long this storm would last. They've been known to last for 4 hours. They were torture to be out in. The wind was blinding and the light from the moons were no longer visible. He was now down on his hands and knees to feel where he was going. But even using his sense of touch to see what was around him he never noticed the small drop off.

A chunk of rock broke off under on his left arm and he fell head first into the opening. He didn't have any time to react. A sharp pain shot through his head and the empty darkness took him again.

The sandstorm finally died down around dawn but a thick haze clung to the air. The military was already out looking for him. They scoured the rocks keeping an eye and ear out for Vash the Stampede. The city of December was near by. With the devils luck that he seemed to possess maybe he had made to the shelter of the city. They combed the area several times before moving on. They needed to get to December and look for him there. They were this close to capturing one of the leaders of Gung-Ho Guns. They packed up their gear and moved out, heading towards the city as fast as they could.

As they pulled out two woman dressed in thick dusters made their way along the road, heading towards the city. Normally they wouldn't have to make this hike but the taller of the two had to check on her family's small farm before that sandstorm hit. She had brought her much shorter friend with her to help in securing a few things on the small farm. Now they were making their way back to the city to start work. It wasn't a long walk but the fine dust in the air made it hard to breath and irritated their noses and eyes.

They saw the small battalion pull out and speed off towards the city of December. Damn if they were just a little soon they may have been able to hitch a ride into town. Well, the only real obstacles were the rocks. It was faster to go over them than walk around them. They were just a bitch to climb over. They were sharp and full of jagged holes to fall through. But they had to be at work at nine. They would have just enough to change their clothes at the apartment before work started.

"Hey, Meryl, what do you think the military was doing out here this morning?" the tall girl asked as they approached the rocks.

"I heard a small town not far form here was attacked," the short girl responded, starting up the rocks. "I think it was reported to be the GHG. You know we're going to be swamped today with phone calls and paper work, Millie, so that may mean no lunch break today."

"Awe, but lunch is important," Millie moped following her shorter friend. "And I had that nice coupon too. It was only good through today."

"You'll just have to pack a lunch and eat while you're working. That's what I'll be doing," Meryl sighed, watching where she put her feet.

They continued on for a few moments before Millie let out a short gasp of surprise. Meryl paused and turned to look at her. She followed Millie's wide eyes to a large crevice in the rocks. It was hard to see from the dim hazy sunlight but it looked like a person at the bottom of the hole. It was amazing that Millie even spotted him. It was so dark down there that he was barely visible.

"We have to go down and help him," Millie said, getting down her hands and knees.

"Now hold on just a second," Meryl snapped, looking at her anxious friend. "We don't know how sturdy these walls are for climbing. We could be laying down there beside him in the same condition he's in."

"You're not even going to try?" Millie pouted, poking out her bottom lip and looked like she was the verge of tears.

"I-I didn't say that! I'm just saying we're not going to be able help him if we get ourselves killed in the process," Meryl said in a matter of fact voice, shaking a finger. "We have to go back to your family's farm and get so—what are you doing!"

Millie decided she wasn't going to listen to Meryl rattle on about logic. Someone's life was in danger and she couldn't just stand by. She started to climb down the jagged wall regardless of Meryl's warnings. The rocks were cutting her hands slightly as she moved down closer to the man. Millie could hear Meryl moan and whine with worry as she watched from up above. She didn't mean to make her friend worry but she had to know if the man was still breathing.

Getting down to the bottom was fairly easy. Aside from the sharp rocks the wall seemed pretty stable to her. She sunk slightly in the sand below her feet. It came up just over ankles. She drudged through the sand to get to the man. He was laying face up but he was covered in sand. He was almost buried in it.

"What's going on down there?" Meryl called from above her face covered with worry. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, Sempai! It's just hard to walk through all this sand," Millie said, getting down on her knees to get a better look at the man. "He's really hurt but he looks like he was fixed up before fell down here."

"That's odd. Is he still alive?" Meryl asked, trying to get a better look from her position.

Millie put her ear to the man's chest. She could faintly hear it but there was a heart beat and she could feel his chest slowly rise and fall. A smile split her face as she whipped around to look at her upper-classman.

"He's alive! Isn't that great? I think he just knocked himself silly when he fell," Millie exclaimed, looking up at her friend. "I should have him up in a jiffy!"

"Millie, I don't know if you should," Meryl said, looking at the nearly vertical rock walls. "I know you're big and strong but that's a full grown man you'll be carrying up here. Maybe I should run back and get some rope from your family's farm."

"I totally got this, Sempai," Millie reassured, picking the man up and carefully placed him over her right shoulder.

She felt her boot clad feet sink even more into the sand with the added weight. She struggled to get to the wall through the sand. She tried to look for strong rocks that looked more rounded as she worked her way up. Most were jagged and the added dead weight really made the sharp edges dig and cut into her hands. It was worst then going down. She winced in pain and she painfully made her way up the stony wall.

Almost at the top Millie's right foot slipped as a rock gave out from under her. She let out a short shriek as she dropped down about 2 feet. She had frantically clambered to hang on to the natural wall. She managed to get a new foot holding but her hands were sliced wide open. Her heart was in her throat as she continued the agonizing climb once again.

Meryl was on the verge of a panic attack after watching her co-worker and best friend nearly fall to the bottom of that miserable hole. She knew carrying that man would be too much for Millie to handle. She had seen how badly torn up Millie's hands were. It was a miracle that she was still able to continue to pull herself up along with the stranger.

"Oh, c'mon, Millie, you're almost there," Meryl cheered, watching her friend inch closer and closer. "Just a little more!"

Finally after what seemed like forever Millie finally reached the top of the crevice. Meryl quick grabbed hold the man and with all her weight and strength pulled him up to the surface. Millie followed shortly after laying flat on her back holding her bloodied hands closer to her chest. She was certainly winded after doing that but she had done it. Millie had climbed down a deep hole and climbed back up to save this stranger. But that was Millie through and through. She always put others before herself.

"Is he okay?" Millie asked, sitting up she clutching her hands to her middle.

"I think he's fine… It's you I'm worried about," Meryl said, looking at Millie's shredded hands. "Now I need to get both of you to a hospital!"

"My hands aren't that bad, really," Millie said, holding them up to Meryl.

Meryl crossed her arms and gave Millie a look that said, "You're lying." Millie put on a sheepish grin and quickly put her hands down. Okay, so they were really bad and they were still a good ways out of town. This was going to be quite bothersome to get both of them to town. Millie was the only one with the sheer strength to care the man but Meryl wouldn't dare let her carry him with her hands in such a sorry condition.

"What are we going to do, Sempai?" Millie asked, looking between the mystery man and her companion.

Meryl nibbled the edge of her thumb trying to think about what to do. There was nothing out here to help carry the man and they couldn't leave him out here either. The dust was already clearing from the atmosphere and the suns' heat were already baring down on them.

"I don't know," Meryl sighed, brushing the dust from the man's tight fitting clothes.

"I'll have to carry him," Millie said, crouching down and sat the man up, leaning him against her shoulder. "We don't have time to go back to my parents."

"But, Millie," Meryl protested as the large girl threw the man onto her shoulder.

"No buts, Meryl," Millie replied, getting to her feet and steadied herself. "We can't leave him out here in the sun. And who knows how long he's already been out here."

Meryl bit her lip to keep from saying what was running around her mind. As of right now she felt useless to her friend and to the stranger. It wasn't that she was weak but her stature would make it impossible to carry the man. And, okay, so she also wasn't the strongest person alive but still she wished she could do something to help.

"Let's get moving, okay?" Millie said, taking a step forward.

Meryl nodded her head slightly as she walked beside her friend across the rocks. They didn't say much as they cleared the rocks and made it back to the main road. The city of December was growing on the horizon. They clearly weren't going to make it into work today. As soon as they got to town they would have to call work and explain why they weren't clocking in today.

Twenty minutes later they finally made into the city limits. It would be another 10 minutes before they reached the hospital on foot. The man never stirred or made a noise the whole way into town. They did take notice that the military was now in town. They seemed to be looking for so someone. Who knew what the military had lost now. They were good for the defense of a city but when it came to detaining someone they were almost considered a joke.

Soon enough the small threesome entered the doors of the hospital. Needless to say they quickly caught to attention of a few nurses and the front desk. The tattered man was put on gurney and Millie was taken back as well. Meryl was left to fill out the wonderful paperwork. She explained that she didn't know who the man was a how they found him. Hopefully when the man woke up he could tell them what they wanted to know. Like who his was, where he came from, his medical history, and if there was any family to contact.

Once the paperwork was finished Meryl asked if she could borrow the phone. She quickly called the place of her employment the Bernardelli Insurance Company. Needless to say her supervisor wasn't happy to hear that both she and Millie would be out day. She could hardly get word in to the irate man. She was surprised as one of the nurses grabbed the phone from her fingers a yelled at him to shut up. The man's voice vanished on the other end after all the man wasn't dumb enough to yell at his wife.

"He should be more agreeable now, Ms. Stryfe," the blond nurse said with a wink. "Especially if he wants dinner tonight."

She handed the phone back to Meryl. With a long sigh Meryl finally could explain what happened this morning to her supervisor. Once that was over the nurse led Meryl to Millie's room where they had her hand wrapped in gauze. She was going to need surgery on her hands but for now until they could get an operation room cleared and cleaned she just had to wait.

Meryl settled down in the chair beside Millie's bed. Millie put on her smile to hide the fact that she was in great deal of pain. Meryl really did feel bad having her friend carry him all the way here with no help from her.

"I'm sorry, Millie, that I couldn't help," Meryl said, regret heavy in voice.

"I'm not worried about it, besides it takes a lot of guts to call Mr. Merritt and tell him we'll be out of work," Millie chuckled. "And you also filled out all the paperwork. I most certainly couldn't do that!"

She held up her bandaged hands and waved them at her friend to prove her point. But to Meryl that wasn't much at all. She hung her head low a she looked at her dusty shoes. She really hated feeling useless. She ran a hand through her raven hair as she stood up and looked at her friend on the bed.

"I'm going to check on the guy we brought in," Meryl said, walking towards the door. "I'll tell you how he's doing when I get back."

"Okay," Millie smiled as Meryl vanished down the hall.

Meryl walked down to the nurses' station to see where the man was and if he was fairing any better. She knocked on the window to get the attention of one of the nurses. She slide the glass open and looked at Meryl.

"May I help you," the nurse snorted, acting like she was far too busy to be bothered.

"Uh, yes, I wondering if you could tell the condition of a man my friend and I brought in about an hour ago," Meryl said as the nurse scrunched up her nose.

"And does this man have a name?" she asked just a snotty as before.

"No, we just found him hurt and unconscious out in the desert at the bottom a crevice in the rocks just outside of town," Meryl said her voice starting to mirror the nurse's own sarcastic tone.

"So he's not a friend or family member of yours?" the nurse asked, crossing her arms as she sized Meryl up.

"I believe I pretty much stated that we found him unconscious out in the desert," Meryl replied with a sharp tongue.

"Well, then I can't tell you anything," the nurse said as Meryl's face started to grow red.

"What! Listen here! We were the ones that found him! I think it's only fair that we know how he is doing," Meryl snapped at the irritating woman being the counter.

"You'll have to ask a supervisor about it," the nurse spat out.

"Then get me one!" Meryl hissed, glaring daggers at the woman.

"He won't be in for another hour," the nurse replied with venom as she reached out and slammed the sliding window shut and quickly turn her back on Meryl.

Meryl's fuse was spent. There was always that one nurse or doctor that pissed someone off. She reached for the window to give that nurse as fiery piece of her mind but pulled her hand back. She didn't want to be thrown out by hospital security. She bit her tongue and turned sharply on her heel, heading back down towards Millie's room. She was truly furious. It was just a simple request. She didn't want to know where he was just how he was doing. How hard could that be? She almost made it to back to Millie's room when a doctor stopped her.

"Excuse me, are you Meryl Stryfe?" he asked, looking down at some papers on his clipboard.

"I am," she nodded.

"Ah, good. You brought in a John Doe a little over an hour ago I was wondering if you could tell me more about the incident," he said, pointing down the hall. "We can talk down the hall."

"I was wondering how he was doing?" Meryl asked, moving down the hall beside the gentle spoken doctor.

"I'll have an update for you when we get down there," he said, looking down at Meryl.

"I'll get see him, right?" she asked as they neared the nurses' station.

"Yes," he nodded. "I'm Dr. Henry Carter by the way."

"Thank you, for letting me see him, Dr. Carter," Meryl said a little louder than needed as they reached the nurse's station.

The irritating nurse looked up at the sound of her voice. She watched Meryl walk by with one of the doctors. What really set the nurse off was when Meryl crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out at her. Meryl smiled as the nurse started to grow red in face as she moved beside the doctor down the hall. Haha! Revenge was sweet!

The doctor led her to the last room on the left. He opened the door to see another doctor and about 4 nurse running around, trying to get some fluids into him. They replace the old bandages with new ones and they had him stripped down to nothing but a sheet for modesty's sake.

"Oh, Dr. Carter, is this one of the women that brought him in?" the other doctor asked, looking a Meryl.

"Yes, this is Meryl Strife," Carter answered.

"Well, then miss… It is miss, right?" the other doctor asked.

"Yes, it is," Meryl nodded.

"Well, Ms. Stryfe, I'm Dr. William Autry. You brought in a most curious case," Dr. Autry said, turning to look at the blond man in the bed. "Could you tell us in greater detail about how you came upon him in the desert?"

Meryl took a seat and started to retell everything about going to Millie's family farm all the way to arriving here at the hospital. She tried to give every detail that she could remember or what she thought might be important. The two doctors then started to ask her questions and she answered to the best of her ability.

"Thank you for your time," Dr. Carter said, looking a Meryl. "I believe you asked how he was doing?"

"Huh, yes, I did," Meryl said, looking up at Carter and Autry.

"Well, he is stable, the wounds are several days old, and closing very well expect for the couple nasty bumps to the head. He must have gotten them when he fell into the crevice. He has sustained a couple bad concussion and is in a coma. He is also mildly dehydrated," Carter said, looking at the newly written charts. "But despite those things he's a very health individual and it's amazing that all he got from that fall were the concussions. Not saying those are good things but he had no other broken bones or any internal bleeding. It's also a miracle his neck or back didn't break since he fell from such a height."

"Is he going to be all right? I mean in the head when he wakes up," Meryl asked, looking between the two doctors.

"Well, there's no telling what kind of brain trauma he sustained until he wakes up," Autry stated, taking the chart from Carter. "There can be a whole slew of things. Amnesia, speech problems, lack of coordination, loss of senses, and the list continues. He is going to have stay here for a while and hopefully when he wakes we can call someone for him."

"Would it be okay if Millie and I came to visit him later?" Meryl asked. "I know she's really worried about him since she was the one that found him and pulled him out of that hole."

"I don't have a problem with it," Autry said with a shrug. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind the company. You girls did save his life after all."

"Well, it was really Millie who did most of the work," Meryl grinned sheepishly rubbing the back of her head.

"Okay… Well, there's not much more to do here. He's stable and he'll have a nurse in the room with him to see if he wakes and to monitor him," Cater said, looking at his watch. "We've been here a while. I think your friend might be wondering where you went off to."

"Yeah, I guess so," Meryl said, getting to her feet. "I wonder if she was taken back already for her hands?"

"You can ask the nurses' station as you go by," Carter said and Meryl stiffened.

"I'd rather not," Meryl muttered under her breath as her eye twitched at the thought of that horrible nurse.

"Well, it was nice talking to you, Ms. Stryfe," Autry said, warmly shaking Meryl'a hand.

"Same here," Carter said also taking Meryl's hand with a hearty shake. "I hope your friend gets better and once he's in better condition we can move him out of the ER and up into a room. Can I have your number to call you if we move him."

Meryl gave him her home phone number and thanked them before heading back towards Millie's room. Once she got there she saw Millie being wheeled out on a gurney. She quickly raced up to her tall friend before she was taken away.

"I got to see him," Meryl said, walking beside her friend. "He's stable and the doctors said but he does have a couple bad knocks to the head. He is also in a coma but the doctors did say that we could continue to visit him."

"That's great, Sempai," Millie grinned wide hearing the news. "I hope we're there when he wakes up."

"Now wouldn't that be something," Meryl smiled back.

"I'm sorry to can't go beyond this point," a nurse said, opening a couple swinging doors.

"I'll be fine, Meryl, why don't you go get some lunch?" Millie said as they moved her into the restricted section. "See ya later."

"Good luck," Meryl waved good bye as the door closed.

Meryl put her hand down and let out a sigh. Lunch did sound good about now. She went into Millie's room to retrieve her purse but didn't find it. Where did she put it? Of course she left it in the man's room. She walked back the hall and back to his room. She walked and nodded to the nurse.

"Forgot my purse," Meryl laughed, picking the small item from under the chair she had been sitting in.

"Don't worry. Happens to the best of us," the nurse grinned.

"Yes, it does," Meryl agreed, putting the strap on her shoulder. "Later."

"Good bye," the nurse replied as Meryl looked at the man one more time.

She went to turn to leave when she did a double take. She saw set of green/blue eyes open into tiny slits and staring at her. She jumped slight at the fact that the man was now staring at her. She quickly turned to the nurse with surprise on her face.

"I think he's a wake," Meryl gasped as the nurse shot up and hurried to his bedside.

(A/N Well, that's the end of the first chapter! Yay! So tell me what all of you think. I worked really hard it. Please review!)

Millie M. Banshee