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.Fang-toothed jaws gaped wide.For a moment the heads were almost stilled.An arrow pierced the ball of the hydra’s right eye as the tip of a sword simultaneously burst its left one.The creature reared up in agony and confusion, hissing like a trio of steam valves, its two blinded heads whipping back and forth.Crouched in the lee of the rock, Haliwell and Emily could only huddle tighter into their shelter.The side of one of the hydra’s heads, larger than that of a shire horse, beat against the rock and slammed into Emily.In the low gravity the blow sent her tumbling out into the open ground.The hydra’s remaining eye fixed upon her.Instinctively the central head arched over and down on its tormentor.Haliwell leapt upwards with all his strength, meeting the descending head with his sword.The blade passed through the eye socket and deep into the cranium beyond, only to be wrenched from Haliwell’s grasp even as he collided with the great jaw and was knocked aside.The flattened snout smashed into the ground just a yard from where Emily lay winded and gasping for breath.The head lifted again and the great beast rolled completely on to its side, hissing and spitting, flattening saplings and lashing the ground with its tall.Haliwell, his nose bleeding, crawled out of the bushes into which he’d fallen, caught hold of Emily and pulled her away from the monster’s death throes.Only when they reached the pit wall did he put her down.‘That was very brave of you, Richard,’ she said huskily.‘And foolhardy, of course.But I should expect that by now.’He managed a smile.‘That’s the navy way.Sorry.tradition, you know.’He withdrew his arm from her back where he had supported her and caught his breath.His palm was covered in blood.‘Emily, you’re bleeding.’‘I think it was the hydra’s horn.Its head struck my back and side.Is it bad?’Very carefully he turned her over.The back of her jacket and the shirt beneath had been ripped clean through and were soaked with blood.Whatever had done it had cut deep.‘Not too good, I’m afraid,’ he said.‘You’ll need some bandaging.’‘By which I take it you really mean stitching?’He could not deceive this woman.‘Yes.’‘You may have to improvise.’A door not ten feet from them began to swing open.‘No!’Haliwell shouted.‘Not again!’But it was their mechanical guard that rolled into view.It pointed back through the door.Emily laughed, though it obviously hurt her.‘It seems we have overcome our quota of adversaries.We live to fight another day.’Haliwell helped her up.‘Shall I carry you? It is easy here.’‘Thank you, but I can walk.My spine at least is not damaged.’With his support she hobbled out into the corridor.‘Maybe they’ll help,’ Haliwell said.‘We have to try.’‘What do you mean?’He waved his hands to attract the machine’s attention and turned Emily round so it could see her injury.‘We must have medical aid,’ he said, miming cleaning the wound and drawing the edges together.‘Do you understand me?You must help treat her, or else your tests will be finished.’The machine hesitated, seeming to study Emily’s back for a moment, then indicated they should move on again.‘Did it understand?’ Emily asked faintly.Her face was now deathly pale.‘I don’t know.’They were put back in their cell.Haliwell lay Emily face down on her sleeping pallet, then pulled off his jacket and ripped the sleeves from his shirt.He moistened the material in the drinking fountain, then sat down beside Emily.‘I can at least clean the wound,’ he said gently.‘Then I will bandage it as best I can.But I’m afraid I must remove some of your clothing.’‘Of course you must,’ Emily said.‘This is no place for foolish modesty.You should know me better by now.’She eased herself up so that her jacket and shirt could be pulled off.He realised he still had the knife in his belt, and used it to cut away her chemise.The gash ran from just under her right shoulder blade diagonally downwards across her spine and finished at the bottom of the left side of her rib cage.He cleaned it as best he could, though the blood continued to flow, then tore up more of his shirt to make a bandage.The injury was so long and deep there was no doubt it should be stitched, but he had no needle.Somehow he had to close the sides of the wound with bandaging alone and hope it would be enough to stop the bleeding.Then pray it would not turn gangrenous.There was a click from the cavity in the wall where their food was delivered by some form of dumbwaiter [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]