Chapter 72: Feral

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"Have you ever been to Maine before?"

Lex turned away from the window for a moment to look at her husband. "Only once. My father managed to impress some rich guy who'd sent his bratty son to his martial arts school, and the man lent us his beach house up near Acadia. It was this huge, really nice house, and I just remember my father harping about how he essentially beat the kid into line the whole week we stayed there. Needless to say, I tried to spend as much time outside as possible."

Rolf gave a gentle smile in return. "It's beautiful enough here that I could see why you'd want that, but it would be irresistible with that extra incentive."

They turned back toward the window together, and Lex watched a lake pass by over the course of several minutes as they traveled, just behind the cover of a multitude of trees. The late afternoon sun had turned the lake into a bright mirror, and Lex blinked a few times, even behind her sunglasses. She'd noted that the bus was moving at about half highway speed that day, hampered by the small back roads they had to take, most riddled with potholes. They'd exited I-95 that morning, when the sun had just begun to crest over the tops of the trees, and Lex had seen only a map coordinate on the sign, so she could only guess that this part of the state was not one that people worried about keeping well-maintained, since no one seemed to live here.

Not long after they'd passed the lake by, Lex could see the glimmerings of another through the trees and after having glanced around the bus to see her friends napping, reading, or otherwise engaged in things that seemed to take up most of their attention, she settled in alongside Rolf to watch as they rolled on.

By the time the bus stopped, she saw the sun half-disappeared behind the horizon, and noticed they'd left the small chain of lakes behind. The scenery around them now looked to be low, rough hills, carpeted in moss or grasses and dense groves of trees, but also well studded with bare slabs of granite that poked out of the ground, visible even in the twilight. They'd stopped at a small rest area along the side of the road, one that Lex had been surprised to see, since there had been no town or settlement, or even a house for miles along the road they'd been driving.

After they'd had time to get settled, Lex had ended up turning down Rolf and Kate's invitation to go to look for fallen wood so that Casey could heat up water for hot drinks, since she'd seen a look in Riss' eye, and Victor standing close by, and known her friends needed to talk.

"So, how has it been going?" Lex muttered. They'd moved across the camp to find a quiet space to talk, and Riss had opened a laptop on a nearby picnic table.

"She's getting more restless and nervous as time goes by," Riss replied, flicking a look over at Lakshmi, then focusing back on her laptop. "Her reports back to Washington have not been complimentary, and it seems some of the people in charge of this mission there are beginning to pay attention."

Lex sighed, having known this day was on its way, but hoping it would be farther away. "What have you seen, Victor?"

"She's tried, a couple of times, to get me to make her something to spy on the rest of you. The first time, I fiddled around with it for a long time and then what I gave her only produced static. She seemed angry when she talked to me later, but I just told her that maybe I wasn't up to it and she went away."

He shrugged as he continued. "She may have taken the problem back to her team, so I created something that Riss can use to comb the airwaves for spying. We haven't seen anything yet, but of course that doesn't mean there isn't anything there to see."

Lex nodded, digesting that information. "All right, so it's time to start watching our words on the wireless, even on the protected channel. How long do you think we might have before they start moving?"

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