[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]
It felt like miles, even if it wasn’t. Sif caught up with me for the last few dozen yards and we climbed together up a slope that at that point was not quite vertical, but close.
“Thom never would have made this climb,” she murmured to me.
I shook my head. “No. Not a chance, not with the shape he’s in right now.”
“I doubt he’s happy about staying behind, though.”
I smiled ruefully. “It is what it is. He understands. It’s for the good of the mission and the good of all of us, right?”
“Mission,” she echoed. “That’s one way to put it.”
I hauled myself up onto the top of the trail. It opened up into a small area of grass surrounded by trees and some rock outcrops, but the footing was stable once I’d made it up. I reached down to help Sif, looking beyond her to the line of others still working their way up the track. “Can’t think of a better way, honestly,” I said, bracing myself as she used my arm to help her make it up over the edge of the lip. “What else would you call it?”
“I guess I don’t know,” she said, then sighed. “It’s as good a term as any. I just didn’t think about it that way.”
“It would be different if we were still home,” I said. “Then it would be a defense. This is something different. A preemptive strike, sure, but it’s more than that. There’s so many more moving parts. It’s so much more complicated than just an attack.”
Sif stared at me for a few seconds, then shrugged. “If you say so.”
She shrugged again. “Okay. Should we go take a look at what we’re working with?”
I glanced back down at the line of others. They would make it up here all right without our help. I nodded as I turned back to her. “Yeah. Let’s go take a look. We’ll figure out how we’re going to arrange everyone.” I took a slow breath. “And once we’re in position, we’ll send the signal.”
We’ll send the signal and one way or another, this ends today.