Friday, January 23, 2015

Southbound

Yuen Ni had set things in motion.  She had acted hastily.  She was rusty.  She was shaken. Not the best time to make decisions.  But some decisions don't pick convenient times.

She had to center herself.  A ritual.  She had to stop the world.  The water was boiling.  The cup was ready.  She selected the tea leaves like she did a thousand times before.  Her hands only shook a little.

She didn't trust Smith not to kill Devra.  Farlowe was a wild card.  She didn't want Smith dead. It was out of her hands now.  It would play out as it would play out.

She watched the tea turn the water green.  She waited for the right shade.

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Devra knew Smith was nearby, she could sense him.  Sense his energy.  A darkness.  She knew from his history in the Congo that he had a history with Dark XM.  It had killed his partner.  Was it was killing him, or making him stronger?  If he was ill, he sure hadn’t looked like it.  Not when he confronted Devra in Shanghai after she’d injected herself.  Not when he dragged her into the quarantine box some hours later.  Not when he stared at her through the gap of the closing door.  Smiling.  Taunting her.

Her meditations in the box had worked.  Usually meditation lead to clarity.  Not this time.  The clarity was killing her - literally.  She had fought it back with all her might.  When it began to recede, she breathed deeply.  The world became fuzzier again.  More human.  She liked that.  She knew how Medusa felt and it wasn't a good feeling, but it went a long way to explaining the legend.  That was the kind of thing she and Hank could have talked about if he was around.  What was going on with Hank?  Had he found his soul mate in India?  Devra had a bad feeling about it.  She had closed her eyes and analyzed the nagging suspicion. There was something familiar about the woman known as Jahan. Devra just couldn’t put her finger on what it was.
9vcihnexmei4nfdveiriurt4hr She was no longer in the box, but she was just as stuck.  She gently pulled at the plastic zip ties around her wrists.   Not to get free.  She realized that was impossible.  But she was hoping to make the restraint a little less uncomfortable.  That was proving difficult as well.  

And while she was angry at being bound, there was also a perverse sense of pride within her: she was dangerous enough in their eyes that they felt it necessary. A bitter smile graced her lips.
  
Devra looked at the driver of the truck.  His eyes were on the reddish dirt road ahead of them.  He appeared to be of mixed race, possibly part aboriginal.  Although she estimated that he was no older than forty, he had deep lines originating from around his eyes and lips.  She wondered why her presence was having no impact on him.  After what had happened at Hulong, she wasn’t sure anyone in her presence would ever be safe again. Maybe he wasn’t a sensitive.  She wondered if she envied him for that.

The ride of the truck was remarkably smooth for a vehicle standing three stories high.  
They were inside the operator’s cabin of a Liebherr T282, a massive mining hauler.  The tires of the vehicle, each large enough to dwarf a big rig truck, slowly churned through the dusty landscape.  She felt the heat blowing off the endless dusty plain.  Summer.  Looking through the front glass, Devra imagined that this is what the world would look like if she were sitting in the cockpit of a 747.    

She looked to her right.  The three armed Hulong operatives riding outside the cabin, stationed on the walkway leading up to it, were barely holding on even through the ground below was rough enough to tear up the suspension of most vehicles.    

They sure are spending a fortune killing me, Devra thought.  

Devra knew she was in Australia.  They hadn’t made a secret of that.  But since then, until about twenty minutes ago when they had strapped her into the passenger seat inside the T282, she had been blindfolded.  Devra figured this was one of Hulong’s mining operations.  What else could it be?  She knew they had them in Central Africa and that they were also now in the rare earth business in the Australian Outback.     

And the earth didn’t get any rarer than this.  The soil was practically blood red.  2ysj01374494400l7h1j

The truck crested the top of a hill as one of the Hulong men outside the cabin waved toward the driver.  The driver brought the wheeled goliath to a gentle stop.  

“What’s happening?”, Devra asked.  

“I just drive”, the man responded.  

“They’re going to kill me”, Devra said flatly.  5n171t105e1v1q1f9i171k1f1c175o1q5q10
“I know.  But not how you think”, he smiled.   

“And that makes you smile?”, Devra spat out the words.  

“That.  And Smith told me I could watch.”

Devra stared daggers at the man.  His smile just got bigger, deepening the lines on his face.  She turned her attention back to the men outside the cabin.  They were walking down the stairway at the front of the vehicle.  She tried to keep an eye on them, but they disappeared from view, obscured by the mass of the truck.  

So this is what it has come to, Devra thought to herself.  

At least her grave wouldn’t be shallow.