So, I got inspired to begin this after reading some very nice Bane stories on ffnet (one of them is in my Favorites). I wanted to write my own, so here it is. I've always fancied the idea of John Blake having a sister, because she'd be as stubborn and badass as he was in the movie. Hopefully, I'll be able to do her and John justice.
Also, Bane was my favourite character in The Dark Knight Rises, which should come as no surprise since Tom Hardy killed in that role.
Anyways, please R&R :)
You told me you wanted to eat up my sadness
Well jump on, enjoy, you can gorge away
You told me you wanted to eat up my sadness
This modern love breaks me
This modern love wastes me
Bloc Party - This Modern Love
The show-trial had never been more captivating.
Everyone, from criminals and casual bystanders (who weren't that casual, after all) to helpless victims watched with unwavering attention as the procession of sixteen and seventeen-year olds clad in shabby hand-me-downs walked up the distance towards the pedestal of rickety desks behind which Jonathan Crane, judge, jury and executioner, waited, gloating openly.
Normally, no one would have been that excited to witness an execution-trial, because most of them by now were not only repetitive, but downright identical. There were those who put up a fight and got tossed down the ice and those who didn't; those who simply bowed their heads and cowered – and those were subjected to painful humiliation and then tossed down the ice.
But this was the first time the court was sentencing children to death. They weren't too young, but not very old either; just the right age to make the entire ordeal not only uncomfortable, but strangely suspenseful.
There were four boys and two girls, huddled together in a weak formation and they looked so scared, but so brave at the same time that you had to wonder if they would try to fight their way out, like so many others before them.
Of course, they weren't alone. They were accompanied by a middle-aged man and a young woman, who were trying in vain to keep them back, to put themselves in front of them, to protect them from what would happen.
These were the children of Gotham City's Orphanage.
Crane coughed, hiding a smirk and arranged his glasses as the middle-aged man and the young man approach the first row of guards standing before his pedestal.
"It looks like we've got a bunch of early bloomers in our midst. Badly dressed, as usual, but I can let that slide," Crane quipped, scanning their group sharply. "So, what have you ruffians done to offend us?"
One of Bane's unseen and unheard henchmen, who had been standing some feet away from the procession, stepped up and pointed his gun at the children's heads.
"They were causing a hell of a riot at the Vault. Tried stealing weapons too, the bastards. The tall, blond one seems to be the leader," he spoke, pointing at a lanky boy in the middle of the group.
"The Vault? Is that so?"
Instinctively, the young woman at the front shook her head and took the boy's hand in hers, squeezing it in reassurance. She glared at the henchman.
The middle-aged man raised both hands in supplication.
"If we could please make our case – or at least try to – please."
"By all means, old man, give it your best shot," Crane offered, waving his hand towards the crowd to be quiet.
"T-Thank you. Your man is right, they were caught at the Vault, but you must believe me, they did not cause the uprising. I swear there were already people there trying to burn down the barracks. They just happened to find themselves in a crossfire!"
The henchman interrupted him. "Even so, what were they doing there in the first place? And why didn't they leave? The Vault is off-limits."
"Oh, you know how young people are! They wanted to be part of something! I'll admit they're not always well-behaved, but they're just children. Innocent, thoughtless, impetuous children who didn't know any better. They're orphans and they don't have someone to guide them, to make them understand what has happened to their city..." the man trailed off, trying to find a way to acquit them without showing his obvious disdain for Gotham's new rule. "I blame myself for not taking better care of them, but they are not guilty of any crime."
"Orphans, you say? Hmm! So you expect me to make an exception for orphans? Most of us here are orphans so to speak, and we embrace the new freedom gladly, don't we?" The crowd cheered loudly. "They should be happy to be orphans."
"But consider, please, how hard it must be for them," the middle-aged man tried to intervene, but Crane shook his head and leant forward, staring them down.
"And why should I believe they're innocent? Why didn't they try stealing food? Why weapons, if they're so innocent?" he spat, obviously enjoying the show.
"They were initially looking for food! I can vouch for that! They're always hungry. The Orphanage is in danger of being closed down and we don't have any provisions left. You must understand, they weren't looking for any trouble, they just want to survive," the man tried again feebly.
"No provisions left? You keep them malnourished? Outrageous! What is your name, old man? I must write you down for being such a lousy guardian," Crane mocked, taking out a fake file.
"I – I work at the Orphanage. My name is Wilson. Rick Wilson."
There was cackling and guffawing all around the crowd as Crane tipped an imaginary quill and spoke out loud as he bent down to write:
"Wilson Rick. Pathetic excuse of a man. Is responsible for the exile of not only his miserable person but that of six "innocent" children as well."
Wilson's eyes widened in horror. The boys and girls shared terrified looks. The young woman placed her arms around them, trying to shield them off from the outside world.
"No!" he shrieked, like a wounded animal. "You can't! I – please, these children have done nothing wrong! Please have mercy! They were foolish, but they didn't steal anything!"
"Oh, but they tried to, didn't they?" Crane asked, eyeing the henchman for confirmation.
His gruff voice echoed against the tall ceiling. "They would've succeeded, but we caught them in time."
"Oh, that's too bad. I was really hoping to exonerate them," Crane quipped, leering at the audience. "Oh, well, seems my hand is forced this time–"
"Oh, would you stop this charade already! Everybody steals in this town! You and your men rule by that principle! And you are condemning children for doing much less?"
The entire audience was suddenly jolted by this angry rebuttal. It came from the young woman in the front who had grown restless, trying to calm down the children.
"You can't steal shamelessly and then turn around and punish theft just because it suits you at a particular moment in time! If you base your entire system on crime and anarchy, don't expect the people around you to just sit by idly and not fight back using the same methods you so righteously preach!" she continued, growing a temper.
She had been quiet, so far, watching and not interfering, because she had promised Wilson she'd let him talk. She knew lashing out wasn't particularly wise, but she couldn't take it anymore.
She couldn't stand the self-satisfied smirk on Crane's smug face.
Wilson tried to grab her shoulders to pull her back, but she had already stepped out from the group and was staring fiercely at the crowd and the "judge", almost daring them to deny her words, almost hoping they would so she could throw their hypocrisy back in their faces.
Crane frowned momentarily, displeased at being so rudely interrupted and shouted at. He called for "order in the courtroom".
"And who might you be, buttercup?" he asked, staring down at her with a cold smile. "You are very opinionated for someone in your position."
"It doesn't matter who I am, what matters is that you listen to what I have to say. People have been punished for much bigger crimes than petty theft and you know it. Everybody here does. To have these children exiled for doing little to nothing at all is not only ridiculous, but cowardly," she spat, forcing her voice to remain even. She was trembling from the excitement and adrenaline.
"Ridiculous?" Crane echoed, feigning confusion. "Is it such a farfetched notion to punish traitors? And here I thought that our main business was getting rid of cowards, not becoming ones!"
The young woman tried to respond, but Crane wouldn't let her.
"Or is traitor and coward not the same thing? Because I don't see the difference."
"They're not traitors! What and who have they betrayed exactly? They only tried to do the same thing everyone else is doing!" she retorted once she found her footing again.
"Everyone? Now that's being unfair to the people of Gotham. Not all of them are part of an underground alliance of rebels, are they?"
That finally seemed to make the young woman falter.
"I – an alliance? What kind of alliance? The children wouldn't know anything about it."
Crane smiled viciously.
"No, they wouldn't of course. Not at first. But who can keep secrets in Gotham? They'd find out eventually. And then they'd desperately want to join because their two favorite mentors are already members. Young people like to emulate their role models, don't they?" he asked, glaring at her and Wilson.
Wilson, who had gathered more courage, spoke up again.
"There are thousands of such alliances around town, if you haven't noticed! And neither we nor the children are part of any!"
Crane rolled his eyes, seemingly bored.
"Oh, sure, thousands, I agree, but none like yours. What do you call yourselves again? Brothers of The Knight, was it? Brothers of... the Bat?"
Both their stomachs sank at the sound of that name. Panic was etched across Wilson's face. They had been found out.
But the young woman shook her head stubbornly.
"Brothers of the Knight? That sounds more like a joke. No one here believes in that anymore," she stated boldly, trying to appear convincing. "The Batman has become mere legend."
"Mere legend is enough for a bunch of idiots to start an organization in his name."
"Maybe some have, but I haven't heard of any. What exactly are you accusing us of, anyway? And what is your proof? You're calling us traitors for what? Being found on the premises of the Vault?" she asked, trying to remain as firm as before.
Crane smiled slyly.
"Oh, there's more to that little story, I'm afraid. And here's what I think happened. Some of these kids here found out what you were about and wanted to prove that they could join the ranks, that they could be "knights" too. So far, so good. Except you hadn't planned for that to happen. You always discouraged their enthusiasm and thought it wouldn't amount to much. But then they got braver and stupider and they begged for you to let them fight. Until, finally, you couldn't stop them anymore. They took matters into their own hands and tried to loot Bane's personal supplies."
"Which, by the way," he said, turning to the boys and girls, "is probably the most idiotic thing I've ever heard of. How did you think you could even get out of the building? Either you are a bunch of simpering morons or you have a death wish. I don't see anyone with half a brain doing something like that."
He turned his attention back to the young woman.
"Tell me if my retelling had any inaccuracies."
"Apart from everything, you mean?" she spat, refusing to back down, although she was starting to feel nervous. "You make up secret alliances and brotherhoods, but no one is trying to hide anything. This entire city is openly raging against you and wants to storm down the Vault. It's not the children's fault if they're caught in the middle."
He chuckled, shaking his head amused. "Your defiance is impressive, I'll give you that."
"You'd better come clean, though, before I actually lose my patience and send those kids to their deaths. We both know you're part of the alliance," Crane added, all humor gone from his voice.
"You can't punish them for what you think we've done! If you want to kill us, go ahead, but at least admit that there's no reason to threaten the children!" she cried, growing desperate.
Oh, there is every reason to threaten them. They tried to endanger the new order, didn't they?"
"That's nonsense!" she retorted.
"Silence! If the next words out of your mouth aren't a confession, I'll have to take matters into my own hands!" he barked, nodding towards a couple of masked men behind him.
Wilson grabbed the young woman's arm and pulled her towards him.
"Ann, please, we should tell them –"
The woman raised her eyebrows in shock and pulled her hand away, shaking her head vigorously, but it was as good as a confession and Crane knew he had them in the palm of his hand.
"Oh, Ann, is it? Now we're getting somewhere!" he cried, watching them intently.
"Look, spare the children and have at us, all right? Please, just spare these innocent lives and take us!" Wilson began his pleading anew.
"Care to share a last name to that?" Crane asked, ignoring Wilson.
The woman named Ann wrinkled her nose and glared at him, but she suddenly felt a warm hand coil around her arm and when she turned, she saw one of the boys, Martin, the youngest, holding onto her, his eyes wet from crying, silently begging her to help them.
She pulled him to her and whispered in his ear, assuring him she didn't plan on losing them and had never even entertained the idea of letting them die. "I won't let that happen."
"I'm waiting, Miss Ann!" Crane shrieked, making some people in the crowd flinch.
"It's – it's Blake. Ann Blake," she replied wanly.
The name, though unknown to most, stirred a small reaction from a particular corner of the room, cast in the shadows.
"Ann Blake," Crane repeated amused. "Has a certain ring to it. So, Ann Blake, are you ready to admit you are a Brother - or should I say, Sister - of the Knight?"
Ann clenched her fists and kept quiet, her eyes glued to the children's.
"Should I take your silence as a yes?"
She refused to speak.
"Very well then! How about you Wilson?"
The middle-aged man pressed a hand to his forehead and spoke in a small, withered voice: "I - I confess."
"Excellent! I would like the court to note that the accused party have confirmed the accusations. Now, let's see, who is willing to die first?"
Ann lowered her head. "If you ensure the children's safety, I will gladly die."
The entire audience burst into laughter at the solemnity of her voice.
"Oh, how noble of you! But you're not in any position to strike deals with me. In fact, you should be begging me for mercy."
"All right. I'm not above begging," she said, looking up at him with the same fierce expression. "We both know these kids are harmless. In fact, they're not even part of the equation, are they? They're not the targets. We are."
She lowered herself on her knees with a great thud that echoed dreadfully around the room. The audience gasped.
"So, please. I beg of you. Exile us and let them go. You want us dead, after all."
Wilson quickly lowered himself too, as if to say he wanted nothing more.
Crane mused over their request with great pleasure. He took a sip from his champagne glass which was filled with strong liquor.
"I don't know… it all sounds very tempting, killing two Bat lovers with one stone. I might even hang you up to make an example of you, should any other Bat enthusiast come along," he spoke lazily into his fist, suppressing a yawn.
"Oh, I've got a better idea!" he suddenly cried, standing up. "How about I kill you two first while the young ones watch? I bet they'd love to see that!"
The crowd went insane. Everyone was in love with the idea and cheered Crane on. "Perfect!" "Genius!" "Let them watch!"
Ann and Wilson shared a horrified look.
"Then, if I feel like it and they behave, I might not make them walk the ice," he added as an after-thought. "It's the best deal you'll get, anyway. And look how pleased everyone else seems to be with the arrangement!"
Ann looked back at the children. They seemed even more terrified by the prospect of watching them die.
Most of them were in shock and couldn't even speak, but none of them tried to escape or leave the group. They stuck together to the end.
Ann would have felt proud under different circumstances.
"Oh, well, time's up, you two!" Crane barked at them. "I'm afraid we're just going to assume that's a yes. We need to get on with more important cases so my men will escort you to the ice. Don't worry, the kids will be right behind you. We'll see if they survive."
She didn't have the time to reply, although she would have enjoyed spitting in his face. Four men grabbed them from behind and blindfolded them, after which they were dragged out of the room, down the stairs and pushed into a tunnel.
All the while, she could hear Wilson's erratic breathing next to her and the kids' shuffling behind them.
"Martin? Sally? Austin? Julie?" she called out hoarsely. "You guys all right, back there? Andrew? Sam?"
They all murmured something incoherently and one of them, she guessed Andrew, the lanky, blond one, muttered something similar to "horrible feeling about this".
One of the henchmen burst out in laughter as one of boys fell to the floor. "This one's wet himself!"
Ann wanted to struggle out of their grip to help the child get up, but she was still blindfolded and the men were pretty strong.
She half-crawled, half-clambered out of the tunnel hole, at length, and was met with the crisp, frozen winter wind lashing at her face.
It was almost nightfall and the cold had only increased.
The blindfolds were cast off and she could finally see the huge body of frozen water in front of her, stretching out to the deserted bridge, wide and empty, like a bottomless abyss.
The night sky was bleak and starless, just as she had expected.
She turned back to see if the kids were all right, but they were all crammed in the neck of the tunnel, watching them with agony in their eyes.
She sighed in relief. At least they weren't on ice yet.
The ground underneath her feet felt slippery and treacherous. She thought Crane must see this as poetic justice.
For the first time, she allowed herself to fully grasp the fact that she was going to die, stiff and frozen from head to toe, floating under that thin white surface like the parody of a shipwreck.
And it wouldn't be only her. Something deep and sharp cut into her chest; the children had been her responsibility and they were hanging under the same threat.
She felt so angry, so blindly furious at being so helpless that the deadly terror was pushed aside and she wanted nothing more than to claw her way out of this man's arms and run with her kids, blasting through anyone who might stop her. She felt strong enough in that moment because she knew it was inevitable. She knew it was either fight to the death…or just death.
She hissed at Wilson who was stooping next to her and nodded her head towards the henchman who was currently tying her hands behind her back.
She was trying to signal him. He understood. Mute as it was, it was a cry for help. She was asking him to act.
Although much older, Wilson was stronger and if she created a diversion big enough, he might be able to escape or at least keep the men occupied so that the children could run.
They exchanged a few more meaningful looks and then they silently agreed they would do their best to offer them that chance.
Ann pressed her back against the henchman's chest, the contact surprising him momentarily after which she shouted very loud:
"Andrew! Take off!"
With that, she sank her heels into the man's feet and then flung her elbow at his face, almost hitting his jaw.
He hadn't expected as much because she didn't seem the type to know how to fight.
He was quick enough to catch her as she slid away from him, but was only rewarded with a heavy boot in his solar plexus as she scurried off.
Wilson, in the meantime, had managed to knock down one of the men, but the other two were already pushing him down on the ice.
"You heard Ann!" Wilson shouted helplessly at Andrew, the group's young leader, who quickly snapped out of his trance and pulled his friends back into the tunnel.
He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do or where he was supposed to go, but he didn't want to let Ann down. Not after she'd given him this opening.
"One of you, go after them!" one of the men shouted, weighing Wilson down with his knees.
Another one caught Ann by the shoulders, punched her hard in the stomach and as she doubled up, he threw her down on the ice and she half-rolled, half-glided away from him and further into the frozen abyss.
Wilson quickly followed after her, but he was already unconscious. His face was battered and bloodied. The two henchmen had taken out their anger on him and had given him a good beating.
She tried to stretch her arm towards him, but she could already hear the soft cracks underneath her trembling stomach and she couldn't risk moving any further.
Even though she was just delaying the inevitable, she didn't want to die, not yet, not ever.
"Wilson! Wilson! Rick!" she yelled, her voice hoarse from the cold. "Wake up! Wake up!"
The ice crept into her bones and coursed through her veins and she felt that she could die just from standing there another half-hour. She probably would.
A curious thought occurred to her; she was struggling and dying all in the name of Batman, in the name of Gotham. She almost wanted to laugh.
And then she thought of her brother. He would have been very proud, very proud indeed. But inconsolable. She was his only family as she was his.
She hated that her last minutes were going to be wasted on an unconscious body lying next to her, while her loving brother, John, was somewhere far away, unable to say goodbye.
Oh, if he could be here now…
There was movement coming from the tunnel. Her heart leapt and sank at the same time. Had the children come back? Were they that reckless? Had the henchmen caught them and dragged them back?
Oh, God, what if they decided to punish them for running away?
But her fears were dispelled by something altogether different and perhaps even more frightening.
He jumped out and she felt the entire earth shake and the thin layer of ice quickly breaking under his weight.
He was a man and a machine. He was the man with no face. He was Bane. The one she'd seen and heard of so much. The terrorist. The great author of Gotham's fall. The Dark Knight's murderer.
He was wearing a thin jacket, even though the cold was now unbearable and she could see the pulsing muscles bulging out of it monstrously and the dark skin breaking through the fabric.
"Ah, I see I am on time," he rasped, his voice a sinister combination between a hiss and a growl. It was strangely soft, though, and articulate.
She caught his figure from the corner of her eye and raised herself on her elbows, feeling a sudden rush of anger. She was sure he had come to watch them die.
The henchmen all cowered before him like ants and he pushed them aside, disinterested.
"Leave. I wish to speak with her alone," he said, not bothering to look back at them as he stepped onto the ice.
They were unsure for a moment, but only one, before they nodded their heads and silently obeyed him, disappearing into the tunnel.
Bane crouched down to her level and watched her intently. She was the only breathing, living thing on the ice, like an insect trapped inside a glass jar.
She scrunched her eyebrows at him. He seemed to be waiting for something.
Her anger turned to confusion. Hope slowly crept up on her. He had told his henchmen to leave. If he wanted to talk, maybe he wouldn't let her die.
Then she heard a harrowing noise to her left and watched in complete horror as Wilson's legs suddenly collapsed into the freezing water. The ice had cracked underneath him and he was sinking in, slowly, agonizingly.
She stretched her arm as far as it would go, but her fingers only brushed against cold air. He was too far.
Half his body was already in the water.
"Damn it, Wilson!
Now she was desperate. Her desire to live was so great and her survival instinct so powerful that she couldn't care less who Bane was if he could get her out of there. In those moments, he wasn't the most dreaded terrorist in Gotham, he was her possible means of salvation.
Before he could utter a single word, she raised herself on her palms and, feeling the fragile ground underneath her fingers, she flung one her arm towards him, in a desperate plea.
"Help me! Help me, please!"
The sudden request almost confounded him.
"Don't let me die! Help me!" she cried once more.
His black, beady eyes widened slightly as her arm dangled in front of him stubbornly.
This young woman had just asked him for help. She had just asked a former League of Shadows member to help her. She wanted him, the enemy, the one who had sentenced her to death, to pull her from the ice, to save her life.
The only other person who had ever dared utter those words to him without fearing the consequences had been –
No, it was nothing like it.
Well, she did remind him of her, if only a little, which was very strange since he only ever thought of her when he was completely alone.
Maybe it was her dark-brown curls or the fierce look in her eyes. Most likely it was the tone of her voice, frightened, but calm, pleading but demanding too, as if it was her right and his duty to save her.
He wavered, unsure for a moment.
Her suppositions had been correct. He had indeed come to watch her die, but what she didn't know was that he also planned to take her dead corpse with him before she succumbed to the icy waters completely.
He wanted her dead body displayed at the heart of the city so that John Blake, her stubborn detective brother, and the rest of the Brothers alliance should witness the fall of another one of Batman's supporters and more importantly, for Bruce Wayne himself to see from his prison cell what his name was doing to Gotham's people.
He wanted to teach a lesson in blood, as always, because that was the most effective lesson of all.
But he would be lying if he did not admit he also wanted to break John Blake.
The stubborn cop had been a sore in his backside ever since the beginning of his chaotic reign and although he could respect his brand of valour, he deemed it more foolish than useful to display it so vehemently and spite others so thoroughly.
He had been the one to lock up Selina Kyle, after all. No matter that she had been given her freedom back; that didn't change the fact that John Blake had been snooping around for him.
He was quite sure Blake, along with Officer Gordon, were the founders of the Brothers of The Knight. They were his most vocal supporters.
However, none of these thoughts stopped him from taking her arm.
He did it almost mechanically, as if that had been his intention all along. He lowered his body further and extended his own hand until warm skin met with cold.
With a swift and effortless motion he pulled her towards him almost as if she were made of feathers and she glided into his body with a soft thud.
For a split-second, her body stayed glued to his in an attempt to absorb the warmth, but then she quickly crawled off, slipping and sliding down the ice, trying to get away.
He easily caught her by both legs and brought her falling back towards him. Her back collided with his chest.
"Stop moving, you little urchin," he growled at her, his metal mask making the hair on the top of her head flutter.
She turned towards him and he held her arm to keep her from slipping on the ice.
"I – sorry, thank you. But I'm not a child," she spoke, trying to extricate herself from his grip.
She looked up at him without flinching and their eyes met briefly, but she couldn't help staring at his metal pouch.
"It is rude to stare, Ann Blake."
"You know my name?"
"Of course I know. It is my job to know. You are the detective's sister."
She supposed that he had been in that room during their so-called trial, hidden from sight. But if that were so, she had to do everything in her power to convince him that she was not that Blake.
"Detective? I don't know what you're talking about. I don't even have a brother," she said, feigning confusion.
He breathed out heavily. "I warn you not to insult my intelligence. Or yours. I do not spare lying fools."
"I'm not lying. I don't know any detective. It's probably just a coincidence – it's a common surname–"
"Quiet! I would only have to bend my arm a little to crush your skull against the ice. Lie to me again and find out."
Ann glared at him through the cold.
"Fine. What do you want with me?"
"Is that how you show your gratitude?"
She lowered her eyes and shook her head. "What are you going to do with me now?"
He sighed, flexing his muscles.
"I was going to let you die, you see, but you would not let me," he replied, the words coming out like a strained hiss.
She blinked in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"So, I must do with you alive," he continued, ignoring her question. "Your brother might, in fact, be more pliant towards a living body, rather than a corpse."
"You can't mean – leave John out of this!" she cried, panic rising in her throat.
"No, I'm afraid I can't do that," he rasped.
"You won't get to him! Not through me! I won't allow it!" she shouted, trying futilely to push him off and run away from his grasp, but he pulled her to him once more, his grip unrelenting.
"Didn't I tell you I could crush you?" he growled.
"John is not going to fall for your ruse, whatever you've got planned!" Ann spat angrily.
"Knowing your brother, I won't have to do anything. He'll come to me."
"What makes you so sure?"
"Blood is thicker than water."
Ann shook her head, smiling bitterly. "John knows there are more important things than that right now. He knows it's about the city, not just one person, even if they're family."
"Words, Miss Blake. Words. But his actions will speak louder. After all, a living body, with a living mind, can be damaged much more than a lifeless corpse. Let's see how he reacts then, shall we?" he said softly, his voice a gentle lull, almost as if he were telling her a bedtime story.
She heard the words coming out of his mouth, but she couldn't process them. All she could see was the darkness stretching out in front of her for infinity. And she could feel the freezing gale digging holes into her coat. She shivered slightly, staring at the water opening in the distance. Wilson was down there now. He was never coming back.
A terrible thought shot through her conscience briefly – where were the children? –, but it was squashed by the sudden loss of oxygen and the overwhelming nausea. He had already placed a cloth to her mouth and his giant hand was holding her in place.
She soon fell into his arms, like a lifeless doll, her shallow breathing the only sign that she was alive.
In no time, he was carrying her back through the tunnel, cradled at his chest.