Chapter Twenty-Seven

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Her hands were shaking.

The sky was clear as they left the ship behind, the blue of the ocean giving way to sand first then gradually to rugged terrain.

Ruth stood behind her, clutching the back of her seat, her fingernails tapping against the head rest. The motion centered Rachel, reminded her that she had to keep going no matter how much her fingers were itching to yank the aircraft back in the opposite direction--towards the ship, towards Hector.

She kept checking her radar to see if anyone had followed them but so far there was no one in sight.

Her brain was silent, disconnect from her body and she seemed to have developed a sixth sense that allowed her to operate the aircraft without thinking. Which was good because all she could really think about now was Hector, and Juan, and all of the people she'd left behind.

Her heart beat sporadically as it so often did when her veins were being pumped full of adrenaline. She wondered, for the second time that day, whether or not she should just give up. Did they even stand a chance? Her mother and her against a hoard of poachers all mind-controlled by one deranged man?

The odds were lined up and they were not in their favor.

Not to mention that giving up would be easier. Simpler. Maybe giving up would finally bring her peace. After all, once she was marked, she wouldn't remember any of this any way. At least, she supposed they didn't remember being human. If they did, surely they'd revolt.

Her thoughts were interrupted when a low groaning sound came from behind.

"Shut her up." Rachel commanded.

"Forget about her and focus on flying."

The city was now in sight, the flash of the setting sun striking metal and creating a beacon of orange light.

Abby moaned again. It sounded like she was trying to say something, her words garbling together unnaturally.

"I can't mom, I can't focus! You need to get her to be quiet because she's making me nervous and I just can't focus!"

"A sheeee..."

"Shut up, Abby! The last thing I need right now is to hear you! I'm trying to keep us from flying into a tree or crashing into the ground so just... shut up!"

"There's a shield!" Abby shouted.

But it was too late. Just as the aircraft neared the patch of trees on the outskirts of town, silence overcame the cockpit. The reassuring hum of the engine died, the vibrations under her fingertips stolen in a matter of seconds.

She'd had nightmares about this moment before. Nightmares in which her engine would die and she would scream and scream as she fell out of the sky but no one could hear her. Then she'd disappear into the freezing waters of the Atlantic, never to be seen again. In those nightmares there was Simone--the dead the only witness to her disappearance.

As the control panel went pitch black, she struggled to get control of the aircraft but it was to no avail. A plummeting sensation burrowed in the pit of her stomach as they fell down, down into a copse of trees and finally crashed into the unforgiving earth.

...............................................................................................

The cold is what woke her.

Her teeth were chattering.

Above her, a piece of the aircraft had been torn away, allowing her a clear view of the night sky where stars winked at her through a blanket of clouds.

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