Finally, something hit her square on and she gave herself up to the darkness.
She woke up to darkness, crying. She tried to sit up but could not, something was restraining her. She could not see, could not feel... but she could hear someone breathing nearby; a soft, measured breathing. "Who... who is it?" she asked feeble, afraid of being answered, of not being answered.
"You are in a hospital," came the reply in a voice she knew she should be able to recognise, a memory buried deep these last few years. "You were found in the wreckage and were placed on life support until just recently." The voice was calm, soothing, friendly.
"Chri... Christina?" She spoke the name in a whisper, not daring to believe.
There was a small hesitation in the darkness. "That's right, it's Christina. How do you feel?"
Wave of exhaustion washed over her, tinged with relief. "I feel lousy, sis. I can't see anything."
"That's because your eyes were damaged, they are currently bandaged. Doctors say they'll come off sometime next week."
"Will I be able to see?" She could not quite stamp out the tremor in her voice.
Christina breathed in deeply, then let her breath out slowly before answering. "I won't lie to you - the chances aren't good."
"I see." A pause. "Christina?"
"What about the others? The bridge crew?"
"I'm sorry, Vanessa. Only Commander Hayes and you survived. All the others were crushed."
Vanessa could feel the tears well up in her eyes - Gloval, Claudia, Sammy, Kim, all her friends, dead. "Why? Why?"
"One of the gravgens reversed itself for a split second before imploding. You were in its area of effect. The field was strong enough to counter most of the pressure from the other generators and that's what saved you from being crushed to death. The others were not so lucky." The voice had remained calm throughout her disertation, not a shadow of emotion present in its tone.
"They're dead," Vanessa cried out loud. "They're all dead and so are you!"
"You're not Christina! Christina died on Macross Island, shot down by the Zentraedi!" Hysteria crept into Vanessa's voice. "You're dead, like all the others," she shrieked. "They're all DEAD!"
It had been just a few hours since they had removed her eye-patches and Vanessa had been sitting up in bed, looking out the window, when the woman walked into Vanessa's room. She was carrying a bouquet of white roses which she proceeded to place in a vase without even saying a word.
Vanessa winced inwardly at the sight of her. She looked so much like her sister, it was uncanny. "Izabelle?"
The woman stopped arranging the roses and looked up, a small smile on her lips. "Yes?"
"I would like to appologise from my outburst, when you were here last."
Izabelle walked over to the bed and waved a hand in front of Vanessa's eyes. "I understand better than you think. How are the eyes?"
"Doctors say I have lost about 10 percent vision off the left, about 5 off the right. I'll have to get stronger glasses."
Reaching in her pocket, Izabelle presented a set of glasses to Vanessa. "It has already been arranged."
"Then you already knew... About my eyes..."
"Yes," admitted Izabelle, "but the question was how you felt about it."
Vanessa tried the glasses on and blinked a couple of times as her eyes adjusted to the new lenses. "Well, vison's almost back to normal. I still have some blurriness on the edges, though."
"The doctor says it will eventually correct itself."
Vanessa pulled her glasses from her face and held them in her hands, looking at them intensely. "Izabelle... has there been any word about David?"
"Seargent Marshall? It's too soon to tell. He was shot up pretty bad and they had him in the O.R. for almost twenty hours. They have him in intensive care."
"Did you... did you see him?"
"Briefly. He was still unconscious when I last checked." Vanessa did not reply but continued to play with her glasses. "Are you all right?" Izabelle enquired.
"Yes... no... maybe... I don't know."
"Feeling guilty? For surviving?"
"A bit. No, a lot," Vanessa answered. "There is no good reason for my being alive and their being dead. I was no better prepared to deal with it than they were, I had no special training... it was just sheer dumb luck."
"`Luck is a word used by laymen to describe quantum state fluctuations.'"
Vanessa looked up. "What was that?"
"Something someone once told me. We make our own luck. It could just as easily have been someone else standing on the spot you were."
But it wasn't them, was it?" Anger seeped into her tone. "It was me! Sammy... Sammy had just gotten engaged."
"I... did not know," answered Izabelle softly.
"Nobody else did. She was going to announce it after work and invite us all to dinner with her fiancee. Dammit, she had everything to live for!"
"And you do not?"
The question was not answered.
"David's out of intensive care." Izabelle was pouring herself a glass of water from the pitcher on Vanessa's bedside table. "They say he'll be conscious any day now."
"That's good," answered Vanessa, vaguely.
Izabelle paused for a moment. She had not been able to get Vanessa to say anything of her own accord today. Her depression was too deep, her guilt and anger too strong. "New Macross is being evacuated - the power piles in Khyron's ship and in the SDF-1 got ruptured during the collision." Izabelle looked at Vanessa, trying to see if her deliberate mention of the accident had any effect on her. Nothing. "The authorities say they're going to have to bury the ships and make this a no-go area for a decade or so, until the residuals die down." There was no movement, nor answer from the bed. "Vanessa, have you heard anything of what I said?"
On the bed, Vanessa kept on looking out the window.
"So where will you go now?"
Vanessa shouldered her pack and looked out of the glass doors of the hospital. A few moments passed before she answered Izabelle. "I don't know. Away, I suppose"
"David has been asking after you."
A wry smile appeared on Vanessa's lips. "I guess he's getting better."
"You are avoiding the issue."
"Yes, I am, aren't I?" Vanessa stepped towards the hospital's exit, the doors sliding open in front of her. She looked over her shoulder to Izabelle. "I'll be seeing you, Christina."
Izabelle stood in front of the check-out desk, watching Vanessa exit the hospital and turn left down the street. A frown was on her brow for only a second before she ran out of the hospital. As she reached the street, she saw a group of people at the nearby intersection. Someone was calling for an ambulance.
"I didn't see her, I swear. She just stepped in front of me, not watching." The car's driver was in hysterics.
"Where the hell're the paramedics?" someone else cried out.
Izabelle shouldered her way to the Vanessa's prone body and knelt beside her. Blood was flowing from Vanessa's nose and mouth, one eyelid bloated shut, her left arm bent in an impossible shape, her jumper slick with haemorrhaging blood. "Vanessa?" she spoke softly.
Vanessa's one good eye opened a fraction. "Izabelle?"
"Yes, it's me." Izabelle checked her pulse. It was weak, very weak. "Why?"
"It made sense, at the time." Vanessa's right hand brushed Izabelle's cheek. "I never saw you cry before. It doesn't look good on you."
"I'll remember that." Izabelle pushed an onlooker back.
"I'm sorry, Christina... I won't make it to dinner..." Her hand fell back.
"Vanessa? Answer me, damn you! VANESSA!!"