Sheppard quickly dropped her pack, stripped down to her long underwear, tied her uniform into a bundle and put her boots and helmet neatly on top. She took a deep breath. It had been about two years since she had last gone swimming. Her family had gone down to a lake for a weekend. Sheppard thought of home and waded into the river.
Nivelle was standing pretending to watch the perimeter. In reality, he was watching Sheppard wade through the river. She was hot, he was dead tired, and after her top had gotten wet and started to rather flatteringly cling to…
Striking a rock with her foot, Sheppard slipped. She struck her head on a boulder. Blood started to spew from her head. There was a moment where no one reacted. Sheppard was floating away.
Evans shouted, “MADISON! THROW HER THE ROPE!”
While Madison was tossing the rope, Nivelle dropped his pack and dove into the river. Fighting the current, he swam towards Sheppard. Aftere what seemed like an eternity, he caught up to her body, wedged next to a log, blood still pouring from her head. He flipped her onto her back then, with Sheppard held firmly with his right arm, started to swim back to shore. They arrived at the sandy bank about twenty meters from where they started. McGilligan and Madison were already there with the first aid bag. Once Nivelle thrust Sheppard onto the shore, he collapsed, exhausted, onto the bank.
After a few moments rest, he felt some prodding. Howe was kneeling over him, attempting to smile. She said something, but Nivelle was too exhausted to hear anything, so he just nodded. Her canteen appeared before his face, so he accepted it, with most of the water going on his face, but managing to make a few gulps.
Looking left and right to make sure she was clear, Howe quickly bent down, gave Nivelle a quick kiss, muttered something, blushed, and then ran off. Nivelle would have been happy about it if he wasn’t exhausted, so, instead, he just closed his eyes to rest.
In a few minutes, he sat up and opened his eyes. McGilligan and Madison were bandaging Sheppard’s head. Corporal Johnson was shouting orders and getting a stretcher made. Tiscornia was waving a red flag. Sergeant Evans was nowhere to be found. Nivelle slowly stood up. McGilligan waved him over. She was wearing a scarf that she wasn’t before.
“Nivelle, Help cradle her neck, once we get the stretcher-”
There was so much blood, Nivelle couldn’t even listen. What if he had been too late? She could… Nivelle ran over back to the river and puked. Hell. He had been at the Third Battle of Tsiv. He had seen people die. He had killed people. Nivelle puked again.
“HEY!” Evans shouted towards Tiscornia’s flag from the road. Only about 300 meters away, “I’VE GOT A TRUCK WITH A NURSE!”
Tiscornia shouted back, “WE’RE ALMOST DONE HERE! JOHNSON’S JUST INSPECTING THE STRETCHER! SHE DOESN’T LOOK GOOD!”
Fuck. Not even their first engagement and already a casualty.