“Shit,” Angus said, looking at the light from the helicopter that was making it’s way back toward the north much faster than it had departed. “They’re onto us.”
“They haven’t seen us yet,” Lethen said, throwing his supplies back into his pack. The others were helping Angel do the same. “We have time to get to cover.”
“No, we don’t. They knew you were in the water.”
Angel looked up. “How can you be sure?”
“Because they only disappeared long enough for you to get out onto land,” Marnie said, remembering what Angus had said earlier. “They didn’t want to have to have to pull you out of the water so they gave you enough time to do it yourself. Now that you’re on dry land, they don’t have to contend with the current.”
Angus nodded. “If we’d moved immediately, we could’ve made it, but now we just pretend we’re meant to be here. Stop putting your stuff away, we need to look like we’re normal campers, but the ruse isn’t going to last long. Not too many campers have swords and halberds.”
The team quickly set about giving the appearance of setting up camp. Renala shifted her halberd into it’s shield form to make it a bit less obvious. They only got a few things set before the chopper’s light was directly on them.
An amplified voice from above startled them. The words came in a few different languages. Luckily one of them was English. “Stop what you’re doing and put your hands up. You five are under arrest for illegally entering the country.”
“Five?” Renala asked as she and the others obeyed the command. They did a quick look around. “Where did Prolier go?”
“That dick,” Lethen said. “He saved his own skin while he had the chance. Next time I see him, I’m gonna -”
“Don’t judge him too harshly,” Angus interrupted. “Honestly, we all should’ve made for the trees. Him remaining hidden might help us get out of this alive. I just hope he stayed close enough to help if the opportunity arises.”
The chopper began to descend. “We are going to land now. Hold your positions.”
“How do we get out of this?” Marnie asked.
“I’m not a hundred percent sure we do,” Angus said. “Unless we can take them out quietly and quickly, we are going to be taken. I guarantee they’ve already called for backup. That’s not a big enough chopper for us to all fit in. They’re going to hold us here until transportation arrives. This is not going at all how I’d hoped.”
* * * * *
Prolier knew that the game was up as soon he heard the chopper. They had supplies all over the place and no time to clean up and scram. If they just left the stuff behind it would be spotted and they’d likely still get caught. He knew he shouldn’t leave his team, but he had an idea.
He dropped his pack and bolted to the side. He wasn’t going far.
After spending a few seconds focusing his mind, he laid down and stayed as still as he could. He still wasn’t terribly skilled with his gift, but he figured that even if he couldn’t pass a close inspection, he could fool the eye in the sky.
The light passed over him but didn’t stop, telling him that it had worked. A little worry did creep in once the chopper was hovering over them, whipping his clothing around. Any movement might break the illusion, but luckily, the light and the attention of the men inside was aimed firmly at the others. He might be able to stay hidden after all.
Slight worry blossomed into a mild panic when he saw that the bird was landing because it was coming down right on top of him. He waited until the last moment to move so he wouldn’t be seen, but it shook him enough that he knew he wouldn’t be able to drop back into his ability right away.
He was glad that the chopper was so loud. It meant that the men didn’t hear him let out a little squeak when their boots hit the ground a foot from his head.
* * * * *
The helicopter landed about twenty feet away from them, blowing their hair around and making it difficult to see. Once it had reached the ground, two men jumped out and ran toward them, stopping no more than five feet away. Both had assault rifles and body armor on. “On your knees, slowly,” one of them ordered. It was the same voice that had been coming through the megaphone previously.
The group obeyed.
“Why did you sneak into our country?”
Angus spoke for the group. “We didn’t. We came in through Mongolia two days ago and we are here on a survival excursion. I am their teacher.”
“Do you have documentation to prove that?”
Angus nodded. “I do if you’ll allow me to get it from my bag.”
The man nodded.
“I take rich kids on exotic vacations. Their parents pay me a lot of money to take their kids off their hands and teach them to survive in remote locations. Just between you and me I doubt any of them have ever seen a tree that wasn’t planted by human hands. Most of them wouldn’t survive five minutes in the wild without me.” Angus handed the man a stack of passports.
The man took his time looking over each one while Angus slid his hand behind his back to signal the others. He waved them forward, then extended his hand to show five fingers.
“There are six passports here, but only five of you.”
“Where is the other boy?”
“In your helicopter.”
“What?” The men turned around to see what Angus was talking about.
The team rushed the men.
* * * * *
Once Prolier had seen the men approach the rest of the team, he knew it was time to move.
He sneaked out behind the chopper, being very careful to stay away from the back rotor. It took him several seconds to muster the courage to peek around and see what was happening. For a moment he just stared, but it didn’t take long for Angus to spot him. He saw the sensei nod to him as he spoke.
Prolier moved forward bit by bit and did a quick peek inside. Relief washed over him as he noticed the only person left in the machine was the pilot, and he had his attention on the exchange going on before him. This was going to be easier than he’d expected.
As he crept into the helicopter, he froze. Somehow he’d caught the edge of a loose bolt and it rolled across the floor tinkling all the way. Prolier watched the pilot, but he didn’t turn around. He hadn’t heard the noise over the din of the main rotor.
Prolier moved forward, being even more careful now. If he screwed this up now, it would be over for everyone. Things were peaceful at the moment, but if either of the men outside realized a claw wielding maniac was about to attack their pilot, they would gun the group down without hesitation.
He got right behind the distracted man and slowly slid his claw beneath the man’s chin.
“I’m not sure if you can understand me,” Prolier whispered in the man’s ear, “But you’d do well to keep quiet and not move.”
The man nodded. Prolier wasn’t sure if he really understood the words, or just knew that when someone has a blade to your throat, you keep still.
“Good. Now let’s see how this turns out.”
* * * * *
The fight was over before it began. The men raised their guns to aim at Prolier, but they didn’t shoot. It could’ve been because there wasn’t a clear shot, or because they didn’t want to hurt the chopper, but either way, it gave the team more than enough time to run up behind and disable them.
Angus took one out with a staff strike to the back of the head before anyone else was even close. Surprisingly it was Renala who got the other one. She had bolted forward with her shield raised. A powerful swing took the man at the base of the skull, dropping him to the ground.
When Lethen looked at the pilot, he could see the man’s wide eyes. With a nod from Angus, he boarded the chopper and made him sleep too. He and Prolier hopped back down to join the rest of the team.
“I can’t believe you called me a dick,” Prolier said. “I was trying to be useful.”
“I’m sorry,” Lethen said. “I just knew you were there one second and gone the next.”
Angus stepped over to the duo. “You need to look at your surrounding more half-breed. While you were all watching the helicopter close on us, I saw him duck off to the side and engage his gift. Well done on that by the way. I didn’t know you were that skilled with it yet. You were hidden so well they almost landed on you.”
Prolier nodded. “Scared the crap out of me too. I had to move at the last second or I’d have a broken leg.”
Angus stopped to look at the scene. “Alright guys, no time to chat. Reinforcements will be on the way soon enough. Pack your stuff up as fast as you can and let’s get moving. I wanted to follow the river up, but that’s probably a bad idea now. When they find their men by the river, they’ll watch it. Let’s hit the treeline and keep moving. We need to put a few miles between us and this and the sun will be coming up soon enough. I still don’t want to travel during the day, but we damned sure can’t stay here.”
* * * * *
They managed to get a few miles behind them by the time the sun started to peek over the horizon. Once, they had heard the sounds of distant sirens, but they were already far enough away that they didn’t even break stride.
When the sun fully broke from the horizon and started it’s march across the sky, they had settled down to rest for the day. With their bags unpacked and drying in the sun, most of the team had lain down to get some rest. Prolier offered to take the first watch. Apparently having a chopper almost crush you makes it difficult to sleep.
Lethen took the second shift and by the end of that, the rest of the team was up and moving. The days weren’t very long at that time of year in Russia, and they made it through without incident. By the time night had fallen, they were well on their way.
It took most of the night for them to get close to the town of Selenduma, and twice they had to cross water via railroad bridges, but they weren’t seen either time. None of them complained about the lack of adventure. They’d gotten more than their fair share the previous night.
“Alright,” Angus said. “Today we’ll have a roof over our heads, but we have to be careful. This is a small town. That means they probably don’t trust outsiders. There are some abandoned buildings on the western edge of town where we’ll hole up. Follow me.”
They made it to a dark, old, warehouse looking building and Angus popped the door open. They filed inside and the door was closed. They settled in for their last day of peace before they reached the farm. Renala took the first lookout shift this time.
Around ten in the morning Lethen woke up to a shoe in his back. “What?”
Renala crouched next to him and whispered: “I think there’s someone in here with us.”
* * * * *