Chapter 54

Copyright© 2010 by Michael Wolfam

By the time Liv and Finn left the warmth of the guard shack, the snow covering the road was over three and a half feet deep. The plows had surrendered long ago to the storm.

Liv left the camera on its infrared setting, but visibility was still severely limited. She wanted to floor the gas pedal, but the raging storm kept her from doing so. She was anxious to get to the mine, but didn't want their journey to end upside down, in a canyon. Periodically, they had to stop and clear snow that had piled over the cameras. Eagles Landing faded as they climbed the treacherous road to the Three Crosses mine. It was almost impossible to see where the road ended and the deep canyons began.

While Liv drove, Finn stared at his targeting monitor and gripped the joystick apprehensively. Until this moment, he hadn't really had time to think. Up until now, everything had mostly been a reaction. A result of his Marine Corp training. Like the Jeep, he had been born into a civilized society, but then turned ugly- transformed, armed, and groomed for war.

His time in Iraq had been hell, both mentally and physically. But the ordeal had given him a unique skill set, which he had conflicting feelings about. On the one hand, it had saved his life and the lives of Liv and her Grannie. But on the other, it made him a killer and gave him all the mental and emotional scars that came with it.

Finn shut down the thoughts, pushing them to the back of his mind. They were getting close to the mine. It was time to stay alive. "Okay, slow down. We should be getting close to the turnoff." Liv was sluggish to respond. The lack of sleep and sheer physical exhaustion was having a major impact on both of them. "Stop here for a minute," Finn ordered as they entered the canyon road leading up to the main entrance.

Finn switched to the thermal setting on the gun camera and zoomed in on the mine's entrance. The tell tale signs of body heat appeared on his monitor. All traces of fatigue evaporated. "Looks like there's one guard on each side of the entrance. I think they may be wearing camouflage, but they're lit up like Christmas on this baby! They both have some kind of submachine gun and- Oh shit, they see us!" In the monitor, he could see the guard on the right pointing in their direction and speaking into a handheld radio.

"Think you can take those bastards out from back here?" Liv noted that the man was taking aim at them.

"Let's find out." Finn zoomed in on the guard, centered the crosshairs, and squeezed the joystick's trigger. The hammering sound of the twin SAWs, firing in unison, reverberated throughout the cabin. Spent brass casings bounced off the roof. The guard immediately slumped forward.

Finn swiveled the guns to where he had seen the other guard, moments earlier. However, the other man had disappeared from view. Liv gunned the engine and raced toward the mine entrance, keeping her eye out for the hidden gunman.

Liv desperately hoped they were finally going to find her Grannie. It had been a long couple of days and she really wanted to end this maddening adventure. The MATTRACKS made short work of the deep snow, and they arrived at the entrance in no time.

The adrenaline was back and time seemed to move slowly, as they carefully examined their screens, looking for any sign of the man. Suddenly, a ghostly apparition appeared in the thermal vision. It leaped up and tossed something small, round and cold at them.

"Oh shit! Where the f$%k do they keep getting grenades? Back up, back up!" Finn shouted as he unleashed a torrent of lead at the figure. The man's bulletproof vest proved no match for the SAWs and he dropped to the ground. The grenade bounced off the Jeep's hood. With superhuman speed, Liv popped the transmission into reverse and gunned the engine. The engine growled menacingly as the Jeep lurched backward.

The explosion sounded like a giant had taken a hammer to the armor, as shards of the grenade slammed into the SRT-8. But it failed to penetrate. While they concentrated on getting away, the metal door covering the mine entrance swung open, and three snowmobiles burst into the narrow canyon. Finn opened fire at the small vehicles, but his reaction time proved too slow.

In an instant, the small machines were next to the SRT-8, the drivers unloading long bursts from their submachine guns. The small caliber rounds had little effect on the armor, but the sound of lead bouncing off the metal was intense. "Now I know what it's like to be in a microwave bag of popcorn," Finn yelled.

"Yeah, I know what you mean," Liv hollered back. "Hurry up and kill those assholes, I'm really getting tired of that noise."

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