Chapter 64

Copyright© 2010 by Michael Wolfam

Through the scope of his high powered rifle, Max had watched the battle unfold. He couldn't believe his crack forces had been decimated by this monstrous vehicle. From his position on a hill overlooking the plain, he had observed the fight with horror and fascination.

Shots just seemed to bounce off the vehicle. None of his men could get close enough to make a solid hit with their grenade launchers. Max had underestimated the strength of the Liv's armor and had only mounted a .30 caliber Browning on the back of the Sno Cat. He had been counting on its high rate of fire, combined with the RPGs, to make short work of Liv's vehicle. But to no avail.

Max had fired at Finn when he jumped out of the armored vehicle, but missed the shot when the boy dropped something in the snow and bent over to pick it up. Finn had remained hidden until Liv pulled to a stop, after wiping out the last snowmobile. Now, Max finally had the target he wanted. He took several deep breaths to steady his breathing and the gun. It was just him versus his worthy adversary.

He lined up the shot and pulled the trigger. The shot hit it's mark, and she dropped to the snow. Instead of working the bolt and loading a fresh round, as his instincts demanded, Max observed the targets through his scope. Finn raced over to scoop Liv up, and carried her to the armored vehicle where, she was hidden from Max's view.

A great struggle erupted within the man known as Max. The trained operator tried to take charge of Max's personality. The operator knew it was too risky, too showy, and near suicide to attack the armored vehicle on the open plain. With Liv out of the picture, it was even odds that Finn would go home or head to the mine. Either way, he could regroup and gather more men and more RPGs. Defeating this black monster with the strange symbol on its hood would require firepower, pure and simple.

Max argued that the monster's main guns were obviously damaged or out of ammunition. His snowmobile was faster and more maneuverable. The armored machine would not be able to run him over. Max reveled in the thought of playing a high stakes version of bullfighting. Instead of swords, he would use a grenade launcher to kill the metal bull. His status among the men would become mythical. Max's argument won. It was time to finish this mess, once and for all. Max packed up the rifle and started the snowmobile.

Finn tossed Liv onto the driver's seat and tore open her leather jacket. He stared at the dark stain that was spreading across her black camisole. All thoughts of finding the mysterious shooter were erased from his mind.

"If you want to see what's under my jacket, you just have to ask," Liv said quietly.

"Do you know where you are? What year is it?" Finn demanded as he peeled the jacket off.

"Yeah, I'm getting undressed by some freaked out guy, in the middle of nowhere, just like every year. I think I should probably call the cops or something."

"We tried that, remember?" Finn pulled her camisole up and over her head. He laid the seat back and grabbed a flashlight from the Go Bag. "Jesus, you're lucky." He shook his head. "Looks like it hit you right in the meaty part of your shoulder," he said as he examined the wound. "Probably gonna hurt like hell, and you'll have a nice little scar, but otherwise you're fine. It's not even bleeding all that much."

"Then can I have my shirt and jacket back? It's really f$%king cold sitting here in just a sports bra."

"Yeah, I guess so," Finn said sheepishly. He found a roll of gauze and a bandage in the Go Bag and applied them to her arm. As Liv was putting her clothes back on, Finn noticed movement in the rear-facing camera. He punched the screen and zoomed in. A snowmobile was heading their way, spewing a rooster tail of snow behind it.

"Here we go again. You shoot, I'll drive." Liv pulled the camisole over her head and popped the seat back into position. Finn crawled over her and into the passenger's seat. Liv winced in pain as she flung the shifter into drive and goosed the gas pedal.

In the monitor, they watched as the rider of the snowmobile slowed and pulled an odd looking weapon from a holster mounted to his machine. It looked like a giant version of a cowboy six gun. "Oh shit, that's an M-32 grenade launcher," Finn said worriedly as he focused the gun camera on the weapon.

"That doesn't sound good."

"It's really not. We used those in training. You can shoot six grenades in less than a minute. That's bad. Shit, I think we're about to get a demonstration." In the gun monitor, the man raised the weapon in the air, and in quick succession, two puffs of smoke erupted from the barrel.

The rounds were expertly aimed. Shrapnel rained through the open top hatch, and shards of molten metal bounced around the cabin. The seats absorbed most of the shrapnel, but a few shards found their intended targets, giving Liv and Finn a few minor cuts. "I guess I should probably close that." Finn wiped a streak of blood from his face, raced to the back and slammed the hatch shut before more shrapnel could get in again. He grabbed the AR-15, popped open one of the rear-facing slits, and opened fire.

But the snow machine was too agile, and easily avoided Finn's desperate shots. The driver anticipated every move, and closed in on the left side of the SRT-8.

Max hesitated briefly. There was no way a single person could drive the monster and fire out the back at the same time. She must be alive. Somehow, he had missed. But it didn't matter. She wouldn't be so lucky next time, he thought as he twisted the throttle all the way open. His body tingled with excitement as he leveled the grenade launcher at the driver door and fired.

Finn, who was tracking the snowmobile's every move with the gun camera, saw the puff of smoke from the barrel of the grenade launcher and shouted a warning. Liv slammed on the brakes. Instead of hitting the driver's door, the 40 mm round deflected off of the slanted windshield, exploding several inches above the hood. The concussion rattled Finn and Liv. The image from the front camera winked out of existence.

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