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Memories of Lori Part 8: Beeline Through the Treeline

Lance Striker's picture
Submission type:

                                                             10:35 May 13th 2144

                                        Kaibab National Forest


Striker stopped, motioning for Lori to do the same. He crouched slightly, creeping slowly towards

the camp with his gun at the ready. The camp was quiet, save for the crackling of the fire, but

something, whether it was training or instinct was spooking him. He signalled Lori to come in behind

him and she did so quickly, making her way to her own rifle and pack. She joined him in his

caution, moving back to back with him, searching the horizon of trees.


Calm, still and focused – Striker waited. Lori was nervous, but still pumped with adrenaline.

A low growl came from the treeline in front of Striker, circling their position and hidden from sight.

He held steady, even as Lori backed up against him.


   “Stay calm,” he whispered, “go for the head.”


   “...Okay.” Lori replied with shaky breath.


Another noise divided his attention, clumsy footsteps through the foliage. He barely caught sight of

a figure darting behind a tree, but now he began to understand the tactic. He turned his back to the

figure, following the growling around until they began to surround them on both sides, Lori followed

suit, now pointed towards its position. The tension in the air hung about them in frozen time.


   “Now!”. Came a wheezing voice from the trees.


The Vistas dropped to one knee in unison, as a mutant spun out from behind a trunk and fired a round

that whizzed dangerously over them. Lori fired back in an instant, driving lead and copper through his

skull. Behind her, a blight wolf leapt through the tree-line with a snarl, greeted by a fully automatic volley

of death from Striker.


   “Go!” He yelled, practically pulling Lori up onto her feet and pushing her in a direction.


Her feet carried her of their own volition, though her mind was filled with the sight of the mutant's head, collapsed

in on itself from the impact. This was her fault, now they were running for their lives all because she couldn't listen.

She gained pace, focusing on her escape. They'd be all right, she thought, Striker was with her – he'd been doing

this for a hundred years. He caught up to her quickly, swapping magazines on the fly – luckily he made a habit

of taping two together.


   “You got those paints on you?” He asked, sprinting alongside her.


   “I think so.” She replied, looking to him curiously for a moment.


   “Mark trees as we pass them, I'll cover you.”


Lori nodded, slowing down to do as she was instructed. Striker stopped, taking cover behind a trunk and grabbed

the radio on his vest.


   “Ranger Command, this is Striker. Do you read, over?”


   “Loud and clear, ranger. Do you have news for us? Over.” Came a female voice.


   “Negative. Have encountered hostiles. Our position is compromised, heading east towards mission objective.

   Attempting to leave a trail of paint to follow. Over.”


There was a momentary pause, Striker was growing impatient, eyeing their surroundings.


   “Ranger Striker, we have no men to spare. Backup will take days if not more, I'm sorry. Over.”


He gritted his teeth, looking back at Lori splashing strokes of paint across the bark of the trees.


   “Roger that...over and out.”


He clipped the radio back onto his vest and ran towards Lori.


  “Let's go. We're on our own.”


The pair ran for miles at pace, marking trees every 100 meters or so. Striker was trying to keep track of their

location on the map, but their urgency and the lack of reference points in the monotony of the Kaibab meant

he could only approximate. He noticed Lori looking at him as they ran in unison.


   “I know, Lori...”


   “I'm so sorry. I always let you down...I should've waited for you to wake up but I wanted to surprise you

   with breakfast.”


   “I know. We'll get through this but we have to stay focused.”


   “Don't pretend you're not disappointed.”


   “Shush, Lori.”


   “No! I'm sick of failing you time and t-”


   “Lori! Shut up a second.”


She frowned at him with annoyance, he was looking at their feet and listening for something. After a

moment she heard it too, a thundering stampede of feet that weren't their own. Behind them came

two mutants, mounted atop their wolves, bearing down on them and gaining. Shots whistled by them

one after the other as the mutants taunted their prey. Striker kicked at Lori's legs as he began to hear

a wolf's exertions directly behind him. She tumbled to the ground as the beast dived over her and

crashed into Striker.


   “Clever! Shame it won't save you,” the mutant said, grinning down at him as the wolf closed in, “your skins

   will fly as our banners when we wipe the unworthy from Shiva's land.”


Striker laid, pained from the impact. The other wolf was circling, closing in on Lori. She sat, her rifle ready

but, completely outnumbered, she was indecisive. Striker looked at the two riders, pulling his knife from

his vest. The mutants both laughed.


   “What are you going to do with that? You're only...human.”


Striker smirked at the mutant, his mind focused, and the knife levitated in the air with telekinetic force.


   “Hadaway and shite.” He replied, sending the knife flying at the mutant closing in on Lori.


He guided the blade with focused thought, driving it through the mutant's throat. Lori took the opportunity, putting

a round through the wolf's skull then quickly operating the bolt. The other mutant barely had time to react

when the blade came circling round and lodged itself squarely between his eyes. Another bullet tore

through his wolf, giving the pair a brief respite.

   “Oh my god, are you all right?” Lori asked, running over to him.


He winced, holding his ribs as he stood.


   “Got me pretty good. We have to keep moving.”


Lori nodded, grabbing his rifle and handing it to him. He looked at her with concern, she was visibly rattled though

it hadn't really had time to catch up to her. He was grateful she still had the composure to shoot, and

accurately, under pressure; at least some of his lessons had sunk in.


   “Good shooting, by the way,” he said, shuffling along, “knew you could do it.”


She smiled, blushing slightly.


   “As if I deserve a compliment after what you just did.”


   “We'd be dog food by now if not for you.”


Lori's stomach rumbled at the mention of food. She wrapped her arm around his waist and leaned on him.


   “As long as you're with me, we can do anything.”








Joe Spivey's picture

If Lori gets out of this alive she's going to have so many floors to scrub... Oh wait, she's not one of mine.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Lance Striker's picture

She'd probably manage to ignite a stone floor.

Lonely are the brave...

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