Special Assignment Part 2
Council HQ – Infirmary – Day
A nurse slipped an IV needle into Willow's arm, making her grimace. The nurse hooked the needle up to a plastic bag filled with clear fluid that hung next to the bed. Buffy sat in a chair at the foot of the bed. Willow leaned back into her pillow and groaned. "Goddess, I'm so embarrassed."
"You should be," Dr. Miller said. Standing at her bedside, he poked a tablet PC and then turned his full attention to Willow. "You have to take better care of yourself in these situations. You haven't eaten anything or had anything to drink in nearly twenty-four hours, and at the same time you're subjecting your body to magical stresses that we still don't fully understand."
"What you're saying is," Buffy ventured, "she can't stay in a trance forever."
Willow tried to sit up in bed, not making it very far before collapsing again. "Okay, sounds good. Lesson learned." She tried again to get up.
Buffy got up from her chair and gently pushed Willow back down. "Will! Where do you think you're going?"
"If Ro is out there, I have to find her, okay? So I'm going to drink some orange juice and then go back and try again."
"I would advise against that," Dr. Miller said. "In fact, you should have consulted me before doing this at all. But none of you ever do, do you?" He sighed.
Buffy nodded. "It's too dangerous."
"Buffy, please." Desperation entered Willow's voice. "I'll come out of it every two hours. We'll have someone watch me. I can't just sit here."
Buffy swallowed. "Get better," she said.
Council HQ – Hallway – Day
Buffy exited the infirmary to find Grace, Kennedy, and Lori waiting for her. "She's gonna be fine," Buffy said. A sigh of relief went through the group. "So…updates?"
"We're still searching," Kennedy said. "The further along their flight path we go, the harder it is to tell what their flight path actually was. Plus, I mean, it's a big forest. It's hard to see the ground from the air. Amira's got boots on the ground, and she's coordinating, but…I still think I should have gotten on a plane."
No one said anything to this, and the group began to walk together down the hallway.
"I may have better news," Lori said. "I've been on the phone to Jason, and Oversight is lending us all the support they can give on this one."
"Forgive my skepticism," Buffy said, "but I seem to remember a time when Oversight promised me an aircraft carrier, and yet I don't have one. What does 'all they can give' mean these days?"
"Expert search and rescue teams," Lori said. "And lots of helicopters."
"As it turns out, we don't have that many at the Asian offices," Kennedy said, fatigue creeping into her voice. "Which we should probably talk about some time when people's lives aren't in the balance and I'm not about to keel over. Did Willow say anything about what she saw? Maybe, I dunno, a clue? Where to look?"
Buffy shook her head. "No. If she'd found something, she wouldn't have had to push herself till she keeled over." She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "She's freaking about Ro. She begged me to let her go back right away."
"Let her," Grace said. The others stopped and stared at Grace, surprised. "What?" she asked.
"She could have caused herself a serious problem," Lori said.
"She's got four kids!" Kennedy exclaimed. "We can't let her risk it, not when there's no guarantee that Ro isn't…that she'll come back."
"I don't think it's that crazy," Grace insisted. "Look, we need to use every resource we have. I care about her, too, but…"
"We all care about her," Kennedy said sharply.
Grace took a deep breath. "Then you know that she's not gonna take no for an answer, not on this. She's got this thing with her eyes and her lips that she does, and that's that."
Kennedy's eyes bounced between Grace and Buffy. Buffy's lips were pursed, and she was deep in thought.
"You're not considering this?" Kennedy said in surprise.
"We can take extra precautions," Grace pressed. "We give her an extra couple hours to rest up and then let her travel in two-to-three hour blocks."
"Willow actually suggested that," Buffy said pensively.
"And she’s a smart woman. She knows what she can and can’t handle," Grace said, furthering her point. "As an added precaution, somebody can watch her at all times. She can get her three squares and then some. There's no need for this to be a huge risk if she paces herself and has everything she needs on hand."
Lori looked impressed with Grace’s assessment and turned to Buffy. "You're the Chair. Still. What's it gonna be?"
Buffy nodded. "Green light. We give her a couple hours' rest, and we turn her loose."
Kennedy opened her mouth then closed it. "I should get back." Then she walked off down the hall.
Thailand – Jengar's Camp – Cage – Night
Shannon sat silently, her back against the bars of the cage. Jeff was propped in one corner. Lorinda was on her knees, peering out between the bars at the two Ravana guards. They stood just out of earshot, carrying on a conversation. Torches provided flickering light.
"We should try to make a break for it," Lorinda hissed.
Shannon turned her head to look at her between strands of matted hair. She sounded very tired. "Moving right past the part where it wouldn't work, where would we go? Lorinda, we're locked in a cage in the middle of the jungle."
"And there aren't even any fish biscuits," Jeff said quietly, a thin smile on his face. The two girls stared at him for a moment. "What? Am I the only one who watched ‘Lost’ here?"
Shannon paused a moment and looked to Lorinda before looking back at Jeff.
"Yes. Yes, you are," Shannon said dryly.
Lorinda shook her head to focus on the task at hand and then she turned to Shannon. "The entire reason we're out here is that there's some big encroaching terrible awful badness, right? Well, if I'm right, the badness is right here and for all we know about to go down. I for one am sure as hell not about to sit on my hands."
Shannon took a deep breath and looked at the roof of the cage, as if asking for guidance. "Do you believe what that Jengar guy said?" Lorinda's brow furrowed. "I mean about, y'know, destiny, fate, whatever? Are we really all just sock puppets, moving down a track that's already been laid out like a train? Has the ending already been written?"
"I'm not a sock or a train," Lorinda told her. "I don't take crap from anybody, not even destiny. I am in control here."
Shannon shook her head. "You're not, though."
"No, I'm serious," Shannon persisted, all the while gesturing emphatically. "Your entire life is one desperate attempt to stay in control, or at least keep up the pretense that you are. You make other people's lives a living hell to show that you have control over them. That's all it is. And when you're not in control, you flip the hell out. I don't know how you got that way, and I don't care, but I am so sick of it. I cannot even express how sick of it I am."
Lorinda crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back against the bars. She glared at Shannon. "I don't need to be psychoanalyzed right now, thanks."
"You know what? I feel like I need to get this out," Shannon said, "since we're about to be de-particle-ized or whatever. Let's talk about you and the slaying."
"What about it?" Lorinda said, throwing up her arms in defeat. "What Hallmark card insight have you had that it just wouldn't feel right for me to die without hearing?"
Jeff's eyes were fixed on the two of them. He still had that wry little smile on his face.
"You love slaying," Shannon said, "but you won't admit it. Deep down, you know you'll never be able to just sit back and let somebody else try to save the world because you're convinced they'll screw it up without you. But you don't want to like it because if you really were in control you wouldn't need the slaying to feel in control." Shannon sat back against the bars and raised an eyebrow. "So you're not gonna quit."
"Oh yeah?" Lorinda shot back. "What about you, Miss Nebraska Corn Princess?"
"I meant that thing about your liver, you know," Shannon warned her.
"You're so scared of getting hurt you forget to live your life. You know why I went after you so much? You were such an easy target. You don't know how to be in charge, how to make decisions. You just curl up into a little hedgehog ball and just start trying to prick anybody who gets near you. Well, guess what? You're in charge. Hedgehog ain't gonna cut it, Sweetheart. You gotta let the pain in a little."
Shannon got up to her knees, and the two girls were now kneeling face-to-face. "So, what? I should just act on impulse, like you?" Shannon asked. "You know what the rest of us do when we experience the urge to hurt someone else? We suppress it."
"It's better than freezing whenever you see headlights," Lorinda said.
"So what am I?" Shannon challenged. "A hedgehog or a deer?"
"Maybe a rabbit," Jeff said solemnly from the corner. The two girls ignored him.
"Seriously, Shannon, tell me. What were you thinking of before I got you so self-righteous?" Lorinda continued.
"I don't see what that has –"
"No, tell me, I really wanna know. What were you wishing you could've done pre-disintegration?"
"It was Norman, okay?!" Shannon almost shouted. One of the guards craned his neck to look at them, but he stayed where he was. "It was Norman," she said again, much more quietly.
"Well then," Lorinda told her, relaxing a little and resting her arms behind her head. "He's your guy. You get out of here, marry him and have many redneck children. Unless you're too afraid to move out of your nice safe comfort zone."
Shannon thought about this for a moment. "Okay, but if I'm marrying him because you told me to, isn't that just more evidence for the 'our destinies are entwined' theory?"
"We're not entwined!" Lorinda hissed. "Not ever."
Shannon stared at her with wide eyes. "Don't be gross!"
"Ladies…" Jeff groaned. They both looked at him. "Do you really think either of you would be here without the other?"
"Well, if she hadn't sent me to England –" Lorinda began.
Jeff interrupted her. "No, I mean, you're two of the top slayers at the Council's two top branches, and that's because each of you was there to push the other. You've both been trying so hard to one-up the other that you had to become the best. Shannon has the best technique of any fighter I've ever seen, and Lorinda's spectacular at strategizing." He sighed, clearly having tired himself out with just that much talking. "Also, it's the end of the world. Can we just deal with that?"
The noises of the camp and the forest closed in for a few moments. Shannon and Lorinda kept their eyes on each other. It was like they were sizing each other up.
Shannon brought herself up as straight as she could. "So, Slayer Sheparton, do you have a plan?"
Lorinda cracked her knuckles and grinned. "I thought you'd never ask."
Thailand – Ravana Refugee Camp – Morning
The rays of the early morning sun just peeked into the tiny tent that Rowena and Dawn shared. Both still slept. Then a great thumping sound began to be heard just outside the tent, soon accompanied by loud breathing. Rowena blinked a few times and the next instant was wide-awake. She got up to a kneeling position and pulled apart the tent flaps.
There was an elephant standing about one foot from their tent. Rowena craned her neck to look up at it, her mouth hanging open in total bewilderment.
From behind her, Dawn could be heard to say, "Oh hey, elephants!"
Thailand – Ravana Refugee Camp – Morning
There were indeed several elephants in the camp, standing around patiently, snorting and flicking their tails to drive away insects. Ravana clambered over their broad backs, loading them up with saddles and packs.
Rowena and Dawn found the Buddhist monk standing outside the hospital in his orange robes, handing up a basket of medical supplies to a Ravana leaning over the side of one of the elephants. He nodded in their general direction and smiled.
"Um, Sir," Rowena began, her mouth working to find the right words. "Where did the…" She gestured one arm toward the elephant, taking in all of it, "…come from?"
"There is a convoy leaving soon," he said, "for the camp of Jengar and his followers. You have heard of him?"
"Yeah, we've heard of him," Dawn said. "What are they sending? These people have absolutely nothing."
"And yet they share because Jengar is their hero," the monk told them. "The Ravana are a giving people, and they have only one source of hope. When Jengar sends a messenger desperately asking for supplies, they listen. I only hope it's not a waste."
Rowena stepped forward, brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"
The monk looked up at the Ravana on top of the elephant, then gestured for Dawn and Rowena to follow him a short distance away. Standing with his back to the makeshift wall of the hospital, he said, "The Burmese army seeks Jengar in reprisal for his attacks against them. They have not been able to find his camp, but each convoy such as this is a chance for them to find him and destroy him. And with him the last hope of these people."
Rowena and Dawn glanced uneasily at each other. The noise of someone calling out could be heard from inside the hospital. "Excuse me, I must press on," said the monk, and he entered the hospital building. The door swung shut behind him with a crash.
The hospital stood on a small rise compared to the rest of the valley. Rowena surveyed the scene, hands on her hips. There were five elephants, snorting as the last of their burdens were secured in place. Children skipped around their feet and were shooed off by adult Ravana. The place looked particularly gray and ramshackle in the bright rays of sunlight, the ground muddy from the rain of the previous day. She sighed and shook her head.
Dawn looked over her shoulder. "Ro, look, I know what you're going to say, and I get that we should be trying to get back to civilization, but…"
"We have to help them now," Rowena said, almost under her breath.
"What?" Dawn asked, visibly startled. "I mean, um, yes! Yes, that's what I was saying."
Rowena turned around to look at Dawn. "And you never know, Jengar's camp might have a radio or a phone or something we can use. We were off course. They're looking for us in the wrong place. So we might have to get back on our own. But right now, today, we're here, these people are here, victims of a genocide, and we have to help them."
"On board," Dawn nodded. "So what do we do?"
"Do you know how to do a basic diffuser spell to keep us from being spotted from the air?" Rowena asked.
Dawn nodded. "Sure. But I'd need to be on top of one of the elephants if they were gonna be camouflaged too. And it wouldn't hold up if they looked too hard, not without some extra ingredients. Plus, you know, aren't we trying to be seen from the air?"
"Not by the wrong people," Rowena said, "and I have a feeling that the wrong people are more likely to be up there in the next day than the right ones. We don't have the ingredients, either, but I think it'll be enough." She looked behind her to see that Ni had been tugging on the back of her shirt. "Ni! Just the little man I was looking for. Who do I talk to about getting a ride on an elephant?"
Ni considered this thoroughly, stroking his chin as he thought about it. Rowena looked on the verge of cracking up over this. Then he said, "Come with me," and Rowena and Dawn followed him towards the far end of the convoy of elephants.
Council HQ – Command Center – Day
Kennedy rested her elbows on a table spread with more grainy satellite photos, lit from beneath. Around her, watchers manipulated touch screens and sat at computer terminals, chattering on their headsets. She didn't pay any attention to them. She stared at the photos for a few more moments, then let out a long breath, leaned down, and touched her forehead to the white-lit table.
"We're looking in the wrong place," she whispered.
"Yeah, we are," Willow said from behind her.
Startled, Kennedy stood up and whipped around. "What are you doing here?" Then, more collected, she said, "Aren't you supposed to be in bed?"
Willow shrugged. "They gave me a pass. Guess all I needed was a good meal."
"Pumped into your veins by IV," Kennedy pointed out.
"Just like mom used to make," Willow replied as she slid onto one of the stools next to the table. She gestured to the stool next to hers. Kennedy grimaced as she sat down on it, and Willow's brow furrowed. "Are you okay?" she asked.
"I'm good," Kennedy said, "just a little stiff in my back…and the rest of my parts. Not used to staying on the job this long without the extra juice." She turned her attention to the photos. "We're doing this wrong. They could be anywhere down there, and we couldn't see them. I feel like we're missing something."
"Where are these from?" Willow asked as she leafed through the various photos.
Kennedy rubbed her forehead. Her voice was raspy. "Along their projected flight path, all the way Northwest into Myanmar. They should be there, but they're not."
"Well," Willow reasoned, "maybe we should be looking where they shouldn't be. I mean, it's not like they were on the 7:45 to Yangon. They were following Jeff's nose."
Kennedy's eyes worked back and forth on the photos, clockwork turning behind them. "We need to smell the same smell he smelled…but we can't. It's his nose, and we can't…smell his nose."
Willow's nose wrinkled as she smiled. "What?"
"Locator spells aren't working," Kennedy said, gears still whirring. "But why not? What's so special about this place?"
"That I can help with," Willow said. Kennedy looked up at her. "I think it's being protected by a spirit."
Kennedy considered this for a moment. "Like in Fern Gully?"
Willow shook her head. "Not really. I met her. Sort of a big…mersnake?"
"Think she could be persuaded to let up for a little bit?" Kennedy asked. "Not like we want to cut all the trees down or steal their unobtanium or something."
"Once again want to emphasize the not-from-a-movie part," Willow said, a hint of nerves showing through.
Norman appeared over Kennedy's other shoulder, handing her more satellite photos. "I've looked these over, but there's not much. Except…"
He pointed to a dark splotch on a lower-resolution black and white photo that was somehow different from all the dark splotches around it. Kennedy and Willow both squinted. "Is that a building?" Kennedy asked. "Are we sharpening this?"
"Already on it," Norman said. "But I thought there wasn't anything out there?"
Willow raised an eyebrow. "Could be a ruin. Either way, seems like a good place to start."
Council HQ – Coven Room – Night
Willow folded her legs underneath her on a mattress in the center of the coven room. She stretched her arms, almost lazily settling in. Two other young coven members helped set up candles around her.
Across the room, Skye struck a nonchalant pose in a stackable chair while Buffy wagged a finger in her face. "…and if she's still there in two hours, you bring her out, and she eats and drinks. No exceptions. Are we clear?"
Skye nodded, a sly smile on her face. "We're clear, Mama Bear. Don't sweat it."
"Don't tell me not to sweat it!" Buffy growled. "I am trusting you here. That is hard for me, given your…species."
"I've got a soul, y'know," Skye pointed out.
"But…not really," Buffy argued. "Right?"
"Really really," Skye replied. "It grew spontaneously."
"Yeah, I never really got what happened there," Buffy said.
"Ladies," Willow announced calmly from the floor, "I am trying to concentrate here."
Buffy sighed, continuing to glare at Skye. "I'm leaving you to it." Then she walked out the door. Skye settled back in her chair, arms crossed.
Willow closed her eyes and took several long, slow deep breaths.
Astral Plane – Thailand Rainforest – Day
When Willow opened her eyes, she was standing atop a tall, glowering stone ruin in the jungle. The remains of a medieval-period monastery built of broken stone tumbled down a hillside around her. Beyond, the rainforest stretched unbroken in all directions. Willow herself was translucent, as if only partly there.
She grinned. With the assurance of a cat, she took off at a run, scampering across the tops of a series of columns. Within moments, she had disappeared into the forest.
Thailand – Rainforest – Day
Dawn sat on the back of an elephant, its vast, wrinkled gray back rolling beneath her as it walked. She spoke in an even voice.
"Permissum aer exsisto amo a tentorium supremus nos. Permissum suum oculus reus divello nos turpis. Permissum divum exsisto nostrum prolixus contego. Nos es amo unto umbra. Permissum aer exsisto…"
She repeated herself over and over, always speaking in the same monotone. Rowena rode behind her, and four more elephants walked behind theirs, with Ravana on their backs. The entire caravan pushed its way through the forest stubbornly and steadily. The beasts pushed aside trees with their heads and tusks. Undergrowth crunched beneath each step.
Light dappled through the trees and played sensuously over the caravan. Somewhere nearby, water coursed swiftly. Rowena breathed deep and smiled.
Thailand – Jengar's Camp – Cage – Day
Shannon watched the Ravana guarding their cage, making sure he did not turn around. Lorinda sat behind her, shielding Jeff from his view even if he did. Jeff knelt, his hands on the bars of the cage. He spoke under his breath. After several seconds, the bars flashed red, the color seeping down towards the ground and then disappearing.
Jeff nodded, satisfied, then collapsed onto the floor of the cage. Lorinda and Shannon both scrambled to his side, concern on their faces.
Thailand – Rainforest – Day
Rowena's view of the scenery was temporarily disrupted by an overhanging branch that caught her right across the forehead. She went sprawling, scrambling for a handhold to keep from falling off the animal. She caught Dawn's hand, reaching back for her. Dawn gave her a smirk as she pulled her back into place and then went back to the spell.
Thailand – Jengar's Camp – Cage – Day
Jeff lay on the dirt floor of the cage, eyes closed in exhaustion. Shannon rooted around him on the floor, picking out tiny sticks and bits of grass. She tested each before rejecting it and tossing it over her shoulder.
Lorinda, keeping one eye on the guard, reached outside the cage to try and collect some thorns that had fallen from a neighboring plant. She gathered them in the upturned hem of her shirt.
Thailand – Rainforest – Day
Rowena had barely gotten her balance back when she heard the distant whirr of helicopter blades. The Ravana surrounding them looked around nervously. Dawn spared Rowena a brief glance over her shoulder then went back to her spell.
The sound of the helicopter grew louder. Briefly, Rowena cast her eyes to the sky. She had wrinkles around her eyes, mouth half-open. Was she worried, or hopeful?
Dawn kept up her monotone chant.
Thailand – Jengar's Camp – Cage – Day
Slowly and carefully, Lorinda manipulated the lock of their cage with two sharp thorns, each a few inches long. Shannon kept a nervous eye on the closest guard. Lorinda's tongue protruded out the side of her mouth as she concentrated. She held her breath.
With a little-too-loud click, the lock disengaged. There was a tense moment, but the guard did not turn around. Shannon and Lorinda shot each other a look, breathing sighs of relief. A cat-grin spread across Lorinda's face.
Thailand – Rainforest – Day
The sound of the helicopter faded into the distance. The Ravana in the caravan visibly relaxed. Rowena gave Dawn a brief, awkward pat on the back, earning her a "what the hell was that?" look from Dawn. Rowena shrugged, a sheepish grin on her face.
The elephants continued slowly, steadily, to make their way towards the camp of Jengar, Hero of the Ravana.
Thailand – Sky Above Rainforest – Day
Amira Aziz hung out the side of the helicopter, her hijab flapping in the wind. She squinted her eyes, desperately looking for something, anything. Eventually, she pursed her lips and gave the pilot the thumbs-down signal. The helicopter banked to the side and turned its nose back towards civilization.
Council HQ – Command Center – Night
Grace, bags under her eyes, leaned over the shoulder of a young male watcher at a computer terminal. She pointed at a spot on the screen.
"No, tell them to check sector Twelve C. We've swept Eighteen F at least three times already. And use the new infrared sensors. Let's do this right, at least."
She straightened up and tried to stretch out her back with a groan. She bunched up her eyes for a moment, and when she opened them, Buffy was standing next to her.
"Have you slept since…?" Buffy began.
"Yes," Grace said. "I've gotten my five hours, and that was just…thirty hours ago. Don't worry."
Buffy took a look around the Command Center. The energy in the room was more subdued than it had been since the crash. Kennedy supervised a group near the far video wall. Buffy sighed and licked her lips. "And Willow?"
"Enjoying her next beautiful Thailand vacation. She and Kennedy worked out a plan, I'm told."
Buffy quirked an eyebrow. "They didn't tell you what it was?"
Grace cracked a tired grin. "I trust them, don't you?" Buffy met that question with a glare, and Grace's grin widened. "What, just because it's probably dangerous as all hell, you want to –"
"Well, why don't ya run the numbers yourself then!" Casey shouted from across the room. She shoved a sheaf of papers at Kennedy's chest and stalked off in the opposite direction. Grace and Buffy spun their heads in the direction of this incident.
Kennedy took a few steps after her. "Hey!" When Casey didn't turn around, she threw Casey's papers on the floor and tried again, louder this time. "Hey! Don't walk away from me."
Casey turned, arms wide in protest. "One mistake, and I get hung out to dry."
"These aren't coordinates," Kennedy insisted. "There aren't even the right number of digits."
"It's been three days now, Ken!" Casey yelled. "You think they're still alive?"
"Yes, they are," Grace said evenly. She had walked over to their side of the room. Kennedy and Casey both turned to look at her, and Buffy watched with interest. "You know how I know? Because I know them. And you know them, all of you. Do you doubt for one second that they would ever stop looking for us, if there was even the slightest chance? That's why we work with them, why we follow them. I realize that all of our needles are pointing at the E, but this is what we do. You work here, you've gotta have everybody else's back."
Kennedy and Casey looked at each other for a moment. Then Casey walked back over toward Kennedy, knelt down, and started gathering up the papers on the floor. Kennedy knelt to help her.
Grace looked around. "Also, somebody needs to refill the coffee dispenser, or I'm getting a rifle."
Thailand – Rainforest – Day
Dawn held onto the elephant with one hand and took a deep swig from her canteen. She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and said, "I can't keep this up." Her voice was hoarse.
Rowena was looking past her. "I don't think you'll have to."
Their elephant had reached the edge of Jengar's camp. The elephants towered over the tents and low buildings. On the far side of the clearing they could see the skeletal metal dome of the Machine.
"Holy Schnykes!" Dawn exclaimed.
"What…is that?" Rowena asked.
Thailand – Jengar's Camp – Day
The two Ravana guarding the prison cage noticed the arrival of the caravan. They pointed and chattered with each other. Shannon and Lorinda perked up.
"What's going on?" Jeff asked, still sounding woozy from his spell earlier, not to mention the shrapnel.
"The biscuit is in the basket," Shannon hissed.
"Wait, is that code?" Jeff asked. He wobbled as he sat up, but he made it. "Our code is made from SportsCenter catchphrases?"
"As I pointed out, they don't even speak English," Lorinda said.
"Shh!" Shannon admonished.
After a brief discussion, one of their guards walked off towards the elephants. The other continued to gaze in the same direction, not paying any attention to the slayers in the cage. He took a few steps backwards, coming within a few feet of the bars. Lorinda and Shannon glanced at each other.
Lorinda held up three fingers of one hand. "En fuego in three, two, one…"
She and Shannon kicked the door of the cage simultaneously. Its lock having been picked earlier, it swung out and smacked the remaining guard in the back of the head with a loud clang. The two girls leapt out. Shannon grabbed the guard around the neck and twisted hard. Something snapped, and he fell to the ground.
Jeff scrambled out of the cage behind them, but almost immediately his legs failed him, and he stumbled to the ground. Lorinda ran to his side.
"You guys go. I'll be –" Jeff said, but Lorinda cut him off.
"We're not doing that, and you know it." She picked him up easily and slung him over her back. "C'mon, let's go for a piggyback ride."
"We need to move!" Shannon insisted.
Just then a Ravana appeared around the corner of a nearby shed. He and the group stared at each other for a long moment. Then he ran off, shouting at the top of his lungs.
Lorinda and Shannon looked at each other. "I'm going to go with my gut here and run!" Shannon yelled.
The two of them took off for the edge of the clearing, Jeff hanging onto Lorinda for dear life. Before they quite got there, the sound of gunfire started. Bullets kicked up dirt around their feet.
As they dove for the tree line, Lorinda yelled, "Look out for snakes!"
Thailand – Jengar's Camp – Day
A Ravana with an AK-47 slung over his back helped Rowena down from the top of her elephant. She groaned and cricked her back upon reaching the ground. Dawn followed, though she slipped halfway down and landed on her bottom with a yelp.
Rowena glanced around at the scene, hearing gunfire and general commotion on the fire side of the camp. Ravana soldiers ran towards the noise, paying her little mind. Behind her, Dawn got to her feet, brushing herself off and rubbing her butt.
"What's going on?" she wondered. "Did the army find us?"
Three more guards walked up to them, machine guns in hand. One of them pointed at Rowena first and then Dawn. "You…come with us."
"We come with you where?" Dawn asked.
The Ravana looked at her very seriously and said, "Jengar will see you now."
End of Act Two
Onto Act Three