Terra Mortis II: The Gathering
By Dwayne MacInnes
As Sergeant Greene led the lieutenant towards the door, he looked over at the gunner still sitting on the couch and staring at the floor.
"You can come along or you can stay. The choice is yours," Greene said.
"Sergeant, do what you have to. I won�t be a problem," answered Smith without taking his eyes from the floor.
With that, Ronald and William exited the cabin into the blowing snow.
Brady left Nori�s room and walked down the stairs. He looked over at Coop and Smith and saw them both sitting in silence. Neither the boy nor the gunner looked up as Brady walked into the room.
"Where�s Sarge?" Brady inquired.
"He took the pilot outside," Coop answered.
"I think he�s going to execute Bill. I wish I could be the one to pull the trigger myself," added Smith.
"We have to stop him," Nori said from the top of the balcony.
No one had heard her leave her room and walk onto the balcony. They all jumped when they heard her voice come down from above.
"I�ll grab my stuff and go after them," offered Brady.
"I�m coming along," Nori said.
"I don�t think..." Brady started to say before Nori cut him off.
"I�m sick and tired of you guys never letting me go along. I�m sick and tired of always being attacked by psychos. I�m not going to take it anymore got it!" Nori declared.
Then Nori returned to her room slamming the door behind her. Brady stared at the closed door for a couple of minutes before he started gathering some things into his backpack.
"Coop, think you�ll be alright here with Smith?" Brady asked.
"Yes," Cooper said immediately.
Brady was about done getting everything packed when Nori walked down the stairs. She was wearing her usual black leather jacket, pants, and boots. Sitting upon her head there was a riot helmet with faceplate with the words POLICE painted on the front. She had woolen glove liners stuffed into her normal leather gloves. On her back was strapped her katana. An M-16A2 was slung over her right shoulder. Around her slim waist was buckled an army web military belt that holstered a pink .45 P-14 with a Hello Kitty head on the grip.
Brady tossed her a green down winter jacket that once belonged to his mother and a framed backpack loaded with supplies they may need. Brady dressed himself in a similar leather outfit like Nori, but on his head was an olive drab green PSGAT helmet that he fitted over a stocking cap. He had a .45 P-13 on his hip and his grandfather's 12-guage Remington shotgun slung over his right shoulder. On his framed backpack was lashed a wooden Louisville slugger baseball bat. Brady wore his dark blue down winter jacket to protect him from the elements.
"We hopefully should not be too long," Brady said as he and Nori stepped out into the freezing morning wind.
"Be careful," called out Smith before Brady shut the door after Nori.
Brady could see that the snowfall was getting heavier and the wind was starting to pick up. As the cold bit into his exposed flesh, he remembered why he hated the snow. Being from Seattle, he could handle rain, but the snow and cold was something else, especially the damn wind.
Brady picked out Jones and Sarge�s tracks in the snow. Fortunately, the wind and snow hadn�t erased their trail yet. He prayed that Nori and he could find them relatively soon or things could get difficult.
"Stop right there," hissed the sergeant through clenched teeth.
Lieutenant Jones stopped where he was in the woods. He could tell from the sun burning through the overcast sky that it was still before noon. Jones was dressed only in his flight suit and the cold was blowing right through his core.
"Well, at least I won�t freeze to death. I just hope it�s a headshot," thought Jones as the sergeant began to take off the small daypack on his back.
"I am not going to kill you as you deserve," hissed the sergeant.
Lieutenant Jones just stood there dumbfounded. He didn�t know whether to be relieved or upset. On one hand, he wasn�t going to be killed by the sergeant. However, it was obvious that he couldn�t last for long in the elements. Jones looked up at the evergreen treetops to see the snow was starting to fall harder and the wind was even starting pick up.
"I�ve got you some things to help you survive. If you head east, you can try to cross the mountains and see if you can get back over the border. If you head west and I meet you again I will kill you," said Ronald. "Inside this backpack are also your knife and your pistol, dismantled, and one bullet. You can decide how you want to use it."
Greene then threw the pack into some brush past where Jones stood shivering. William didn�t waste any time scrambling over to the brush and retrieving the pack. Jones then turned around and noticed that the sergeant had disappeared. Their tracks were also rapidly disappearing.
Brady was rapidly losing hope that they could find the sergeant and the lieutenant as the tracks were filling in with snow. Any attempt to turn back was foiled by Nori. She made it quite obvious that she would continue with or without Brady. Brady knew if he left her alone, he was condemning her to certain death.
The snow was up to Brady�s mid-calves that was almost up to Nori�s knees. Nori was starting to stumble as she was getting more and more exhausted. The snowstorm quickly transformed itself into a blizzard. Visibility was practically nothing.
Brady went over to Nori and started to assist her along. As they resumed their trek, Brady noticed that all trace of Ronald�s and William�s tracks were gone. Then Brady turned around and noticed that their tracks were also quickly vanishing. Brady finally convinced Nori that they needed to turn around and start to head back to the cabin. If they were lucky, they would find it before it was too late.
Nori was too exhausted to protest. She just followed where Brady led. She had to lift the faceplate on her riot helmet after they left the cabin as it instantly frosted up from her breath. The snow and wind bit directly into her face. Her own tears were even starting to freeze on her cheeks. The feeling in Nori�s fingers and toes were now gone, making it even more difficult for her to move. She was starting to shiver more and more and her movements became more sluggish.
Brady had lost the trail. The snow had completely erased all signs of their tracks. With the wind howling in his ears, the snow plastering his face, and having to practically carry Nori; Brady could only hope that they were heading in the correct direction. Every once in a while he would stop and rub his and Nori�s hands to get the circulation going.
Nori just wanted to sleep. Many times, she thought that she was sleeping as she saw imaginary images flash before her eyes. Once she thought she saw Father Henderson ahead of her.
"Hi, Father what are you doing out here?" Nori asked the apparition.
Fear colder than the weather ran through Brady�s heart as Nori carried on her random and irrational ramblings. Hypothermia was quickly claiming the girl. Brady�s grandfather warned him about the signs of hypothermia and how to treat it. However, it wouldn�t be much longer before she would succumb. Brady needed to find shelter and fast.
The snow was now up to Brady�s knees and Nori�s waist. Hope and time were quickly running out for Brady. He was now completely lost and Nori was slipping even faster away from him. Brady had very little winter experience on the mountain. The closest he�d even be out here in winter was in the fall hunting with his grandfather.
Brady continued trudging his way praying all along. It would take a miracle for them to get out of this one. Nori was rambling less; it wouldn�t be long before unconsciousness set in. Brady was tired and set Nori down, and then he plunked himself next to her and rested his back against a small tree. The wind blew even harder and the snow continued to obscure his vision. Sleepiness brought on by the cold and exhaustion started to consume Brady.