“You were one of us, Serron. Why’d you leave?” I feel very defeated and exhausted as my rage subsides into grief. I notice Boom is no longer screaming and take a glance over to him. He is curled up on the ground, but breathing and still alive. I wonder what forces in the world brought me to this place that I am at now: kneeling in the mud of a swamp, filthy, helpless, the smell of the kroyzan and the methane mixing makes me want to throw up. I rise slowly to my feet and walk back to where my crew is standing, all except Boom. I pick up my gun along the way and strap it over my shoulder.
“Gabe, help me get Boom up. He doesn’t need to be in the mud.”
Serron opens his mouth to speak, I look at him sharply, dead in the eyes, “Don’t say a fucking thing. Just shut the hell up.” I say with strength in my voice that causes him to shut his trap.
Gabe and I help Boom to his feet. Gabe asks “You okay, man?” Boom nods his head still trying to catch his breath from the psychic attack on his body. I grab his pack off his back and leave Gabe to help Boom.
I turn my back to Serron and the kroyzan , “Come on guys, let’s get the hell out of here. I need a shower and have had enough of the mosquitoes.” I pass Jake and he reaches out to grab my arm, I shrug him off. “What the hell are you doing Abs?? He’s not going to let us walk out of here.”
“My brother is right Abbie, I am not letting anyone go, especially you. The only reason your team is still alive is because of you and the fact that you will be very useful to me soon.” Serron says snidely.
“Fuck you, Serron. I am leaving, right now. Come on guys lets move it, NOW!.” I say, still walking back the way I came.
Gabe follows behind me with Boom in tow. “Abs, this is crazy you know. We’re going to die right here.”
“Not if I can help it Gabe.” I glance over my shoulder at Jake, “Are you coming babe?? I’m a bit cold and would like to warm myself by a nice hot fire.” This is when Jake notices that I have dug into Boom’s pack and pulled out a couple XM84 flash-bang grenades. He walks quickly after me eyebrows furrowed. When he reaches me, I slide him 2 of the grenades and keep 2 for myself and sling Booms bag over my shoulder.
Serron is confused by my actions and shouts out, “Stop, right now or you all die.” So I stop and hold my arm out to Jake indicating him to stop as well. Gabe stops with Boom who is finally gaining his composure back somewhat and who also sees what is in my hands. Boom urges Gabe to keep moving.
Jake and I turn to meet Serron’s gaze, I smile at him which confuses him even more. I pull one pin from a grenade at the same time Jake does and we hurl them both into the swamp. We quickly disengage the pins in the other 2 and throw them in a wider arc. We then turn and take off running encouraging Boom and Gabe to join us as the grenades explode. While these weapons don’t normally cause any harm to people, or beasts, they are a great ignition source when mixed with something like methane. My plan has the desired effect as a secondary explosion erupts, setting the swamp and cypress trees on fire. Three more explosions follow, and I glance over my shoulder to see a wall of flames between us and the enemy. “Yes!!!” I shout, pumping my fist in the air. I know this will not stop the kroyzan or Serron, but will hopefully buy us some time and signal Jude and CK to come meet us half way.
We make it about a mile before we hear the first squeals of kroyzan on our tail. “Shit” Boom says “We better haul some ass here folks.”
Up ahead we see the spot light from the Bell but way off the mark. I grab my flashlight from my utility belt, turn it on and begin waving it frantically as I keep running. The guys follow suit and we are relieved when the chopper heads straight in our direction.
Jude doesn’t land the chopper, but flies it in low and turns it. Ck slides open the door as we reach the machine. Ducking down under the blades, this is a habit even though they can’t touch us while spinning, Gabe and Boom load up and Jake helps me in, then crawls in himself.
“Holy Mother of Christ!!” CK exclaims. “That looks like one hell of a party you guys were at. I wonder what the bill is for burning down a swamp??”
“Just get us the hell out of here, let’s fly Jude!!” Jake yells over the sounds of the engine.
Jude banks the copter to the North and out of the enemy zone. “Wish I had my camera. Man, I’ve never seen a swamp on fire before. That’s spreading pretty quick.” He says through his mouthpiece.
I notice CK staring at me with his “look”. It’s one I’ve grown to know very well, it basically says, “Girl, what have you gone and done now?” I raise my eyebrows at him and half smile, a look that he knows says, “Uhhh, oops!!” I can’t help but take the opportunity to rib him and quote Robert Frost, “Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. From what I have tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.” Then smile my biggest smile on my muddy, dirty, bloody face. He chuckles at the quote and says, “I hate to see what you do with ice.”