Chapter 67

Copyright© 2010 by Michael Wolfam

They descended slowly as the Jeep hung from the end of an impossibly thin, plasma rope. The treads were barely touching the sides of the ice-encrusted cliff face. To an outside observer, it would have appeared that they were driving backwards, down the sheer face of the rocky cliff.

In the hatch, Finn stared through the AR-15's optics, toward the ground below. The rifle felt reassuring in his numb hands. To Finn, the burble of the turbocharged V-8 idling and the creak of the suspension sounded louder than a brass band at a football game. He prayed that the driving wind and snow would cover their approach as they attempted to sneak up on the group of men with the RPGs.

Adrenaline surged through his veins when he spotted movement in the scope. A figure in white camouflage was shifting positions. Finn could barely make out the man and the deadly RPG he was shouldering. Next to him was another camouflaged man, holding a pair of large binoculars to his eyes. The man was keeping a sharp eye on the valley floor. Finn observed the two men for several seconds, scanned the nearby terrain, then ducked back into the Jeep.

"Looks like there are four of those fuckers. They're lying right in front of the mine shaft. They're split into two teams and they're keeping a pretty close watch on the road leading up to the mine."

"If they only knew!" Liv chuckled grimly.

"Yeah, well, I'm glad they don't. We would be a dangling duck on a rope. Bring us down about ten more feet, then get your ass down here. Grab a gun with some punch." Finn turned and popped back out the hatch.

"You got it," Liv hollered back. She let out more line, and tried to mentally prepare for the inevitable gun battle. The cliff face beneath the SRT-8 started to invert. Soon, the tracks were no longer making solid contact with the ice and rock under them. The heavy Jeep began swaying back and forth in the wind, like an armored pendulum. Liv took a deep breath, then cut the engine. She put the transmission in park and climbed to the back.

Liv grabbed the AK-47, inserted a fresh clip, checked to make sure a round was chambered, and joined Finn in the hatch. "Hope you like carnival rides," she exclaimed as she observed the ground below. They were about twenty feet off the ground, swaying in the wind, just above the gaping entrance of the mine.

"Oh, I freaking love carnivals! I can't believe I never thought of combining a tilt and hurl with the shooting gallery. This is gonna be awesome!" Finn responded as a particularly strong gust of wind twisted the Jeep.

"I'll get the two on the right; you get the two on the left?" she asked after observing the situation through the freezing cold EO Tech.

"Sounds like a plan. Go on three?" Finn yelled, holding up three fingers.

Liv shook her head no and disappeared back into the Jeep. She re-emerged, moments later, holding the last bunny slipper. A road flare was stuffed into the opening. "It's lonely," she explained. "I figure it can join its sister in slipper heaven. They can frolic together again," Liv shouted over the roar of the wind.

"Remind me to never buy you slippers. You get way too involved with them." Finn's voice was filled with amusement.

"Goodnight sweet prince." Liv pet the pink slipper gently. "Do Momma proud." She turned to Finn. "We fire as soon as it hits the ground, okay?" Finn nodded and returned his focus to the situation below. Liv cracked open the flare, stuffed it deep into the doomed slipper, and tossed it into the wind. The weighted slipper tumbled through the air, trailing acrid, red smoke. Her toss was spot on. The flaming bunny landed right side up, squarely between the two groups of men.

Chin-Hae watched the valley below, through his thermally enhanced binoculars. He felt like a hawk, circling high in the sky, waiting for a mouse to come out of hiding. He knew the girl would not give up so easily. The strange, tracked vehicle was out there somewhere.

With Max presumed dead, Chin-Hae was now head of security, and he relished his new-found status. By killing the Driscol girl, he would forever prove to the rest of the men, and Mitch, that he was better than his predecessor. Chin-Hae planned to run the mercenary army with an iron fist. Max had become sloppy and died because of it.

Normally, the two teams under his immediate command were focused on separate locations. One watched the valley below, while the other kept track of the sky above the mine. Chin-Hae had reassigned the aerial observation team to valley scanning. There was no way in hell a helicopter or airplane could get close to the mine in this foul weather.

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