“Your play?”, Devra asked.
“Coming out of nowhere. And now, that’s where we are both going, doc,” Hubert coughed.
“Think so? Because I don’t, Hubert. You’re proof that there is more to life and death than we could have imagined. I don’t fear dying... not anymore. I fear failure. That is my biggest regret. That we will be face down in the sand while the world burns. And it will burn, Hubert. Of that, I am sure.”
Devra looked at the angry Hulong man. He was on his phone. His gestures were animated.
Occasionally, he looked upward, toward the blinding blue sky.
She followed his gaze. Lifting her bound hands, she tried to cover the sun from her eyes. High above, there was a small dot, circling.
“You know if Australia has vultures?”, she asked Hubert.
“I don’t know. Probably. Every other animal on this continent has evolved to kill and eat you. Got to believe there are a few scavengers out there among the wolves,” Hubert said.
“Sometimes the wolves fly,” Devra whispered. As the dot circled, it descended closer. The wings were too straight from the body to be a bird. Farlowe looked up to where Devra was staring.
“Smith and friends.”
“Expecting that show we were talking about...”, Devra said.
“Yeah. Wish we could give them one,” Farlowe smiled. For a man approaching unspeakable horror, he seemed content.
The angry Hulong man approached them, nodding to the others.
“Get them on their feet”, he said to the guards.
The men dragged both Devra and Farlowe up against the SUV. The angry Hulong man got in Farlowe’s face.
“You can walk,” he said. It didn’t sound like a question.
“Can. But won’t,” Farlowe said as the drone circled above, dropping closer still. It was dull grey. The gyro stabilized camera in its nose was tracking them now, and Farlowe could see it rotating.
“Slap me around a little if you need to. I’d hate for the cheap seats to not get their money’s worth,” Farlowe said.
The man complied, punching Farlowe in the stomach. Farlowe doubled over.
“Stop it!”, Devra screamed.
All of the Hulong men laughed at her.
The drone flew closer, its engine now audible.
Devra reached out for Farlowe.
“They won’t kill us yet, Devra. They have a plan. And orders from Smith. Guaranteed,” he whispered.
The angry Hulong man’s phone suddenly rang. He picked it up. Devra watched him nodding.
“Eye in the sky. Smith telling him not to harm the merchandise,” Farlowe continued.
From the angry Hulong man’s reaction, Farlowe knew he was right.
The drone overhead was low now, no more than a couple of hundred feet. It circled in a lazy arc and then zoomed right over them.
“Time to go. Walk or we will drag you,” the angry Hulong man said to Devra and Farlowe.
“I’ll help you,” Devra told Farlowe.
“Okay”, he replied.
“Which way? Where are we going?”, Devra asked.
“There is a contamination control building right near the entrance to the pit. Move. Now. And I would remind you not to try anything stu...”
The angry Hulong man stopped mid-sentence as the drone passed directly over his head. Close enough that instinctively, everyone ducked, including Devra and Farlowe.
The drone made a hard turn and flew straight toward the massive three story mining truck.
A split second later, it impacted with the vehicle, hitting it directly in its huge grill. The fireball of the explosion was followed almost instantaneously by a shock wave that covered them all in a choking red dust.
If you didn’t count the driver of the mining truck, the two junior level Hulong men were the first to die. One’s head exploded before he could cough up the particles attacking his lungs. The second had only a moment to register that in addition to dust, he was being sprayed by the inside of his associate’s head when his also was ripped from his neck by a .45 round.
The Angry Hulong man watched both headless bodies fall toward the ground before his view was completely obscured by the cloud of sand and dust.
Devra and Farlowe both put their hands up toward their faces as the fast moving dust hit them, stinging exposed flesh. Through the chaos, Devra heard a scream. The Angry Hulong man. His voice panicked, in pain, then silenced.
As the dust settled around them, a figure stepped through cloud, moving toward them both. A ghost. A demon. The angel of death.
Devra realized they had met before.