Chapter 46: Vengeance

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January 2, 2358

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

America

After briefly acquainting herself with the system controls, Ari put the thing into full gear and sped through the trees. With its tiny size and excellent maneuverability skills, it swam through the trees like a fish in a coral reef. All the while, Ari kept trying to coax more speed and agility out of it. As if lives depended on it.

Only a few moments later, the Seeker was looming above them. Way above. During their skirmish, the great black beast had risen ever higher into the sky so as to keep an eye on both sets of fugitives. Somehow, it made the rage in her heighten to an unforgivable amount.

"Hang on tight," she called back, raising their dark vehicle out of the trees. They'd already seen her kill two men. Someone was already aware of what she'd done. So where could be the harm in doing this?

When she was of a reasonable altitude, she set the controls on hold. Their vehicle would remain stationary at that altitude until it was manually shut off. Which would be just enough time...

"Which of you can drive?" Ari asked as she clamored out of the command chair.

"Not me," Cai said, shaking his head as if the idea was unbelievable.

"I-I can," Amaris murmured, looking between Ari and the control panel.

"Good. I need you to sit there. Now, when I tell you, you're going to flick this switch and then ease this lever down. It'll take us back into the trees and we're going to continue north, in the direction of Eila and Jace. Understand? As soon as you get comfortable with it, you can up the speed."

"Okay, but what are we doing right now?"

Ari gave them both a stern expression. "I'm going to do something neither of you probably want to be a witness to. I suggest you close your eyes." All four lids snapped shut in an instant and Ari turned to the weapons panel. Without another word, she located the two strongest missiles in the hold. Named Desmons after their creator, the short capsules could travel six hundred meters and never lose altitude. They were incredibly potent and had a short blast radius. Which is why they were preferred for smaller-grade combat. Like this.

She looked again at the hovering Seeker. Saw once more the emblazoned UNSA seal on its side. And smiled in grim satisfaction when she released the missiles.

Ari didn't wait to see them strike, but instead ordered Amaris into cover as soon as possible. With a daring plunge, the vehicle flew down into the forest's depths and became level with the ground once more. Shock waves blasted through the air above them as the vehicle traveled just beneath the struck Seeker. Amaris's head tilted in that direction as though to get a better look, but Ari was glad to see that her eyes never actually left the speeding trees. Then, they were face to face with two more vehicles just like the one they were driving.

Hesitating just long enough to realize that Eila and Jace were being held at gun-point, Ari did the only thing she could think of. She dropped the dual machine guns on their rotating axis and opened fire. The first vehicle never stood a chance, and soon she had hit the fuel compartment as it attempted to run away.

Just as her attention was drawn to the other vehicle, however, she found Eila waving at her to stop and the gunfire ceased in an instant. After directing Amaris to set the machine down, she watched as Jace dragged the pilot of the other craft out into the open, a gun directing his movements. The breath she hadn't realized she was holding released in a long exhale.

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