|Original photo by jGlidePhotoATL|
Lodon guided him through suiting up. Pack on first, com check, helmet, gloves, knife-- no knife? Here's an extra. Alex strapped the sheath to his right forearm for easy access. Lodon shouted over the helicopter, "Both your binoculars and your rifle are transmitting to Zodiac, Dall has a live feed. If she asks you to look at something, you listen."
Alex nodded. He touched the binoculars strapped to his chest and adjusted the sling of his rifle. The Pisces checked each other's gear- a quick touch on all the important straps- then it was time to go.
The helicopter didn't land. Thresher descended first, one hand on the wire hooked to his waist, the other steadying his rifle. The Sagittarius pilot kept their aircraft steady as he threaded between evergreen trees and made land. Then Lodon hung on the wire. Alex tried to mimic the men before him. One hand on the wire, legs relaxed. He saw the forest stretch out for miles, then a branch struck his face and he focused on threading between the trees.
Thresher held his rifle in front of him, low but ready, as he scanned the trees around them. Lodon helped Alex out of the harness. It zipped back up to let Mako down. With all four safely on the ground, the helicopter tilted away and in short order the forest fell quiet.
Mako checked a small disk in her hand.
"Is that a compass?"
She nodded and oriented herself with the digital map her helmet provided. "Technology is nice, but this is never wrong." She wiggled the compass and stuffed it into a pocket on her vest. "Ok, com check, Dall this is Mako, do you read?"
Alex heard Mako's voice and Dall's response through the speakers of his helmet. "Loud and clear, Mako. Eyes are up and running. Sound off, gentlemen."
Lodon pinched the radio trigger in his collar, "Lodon."
"A--..." Alex looked at Mako, "I don't have a field name, yet."
Alex pinched the radio, "Scorpio."
"All clear," Dall replied. "You have nine hours until showtime."
Mako tugged the straps of her bag tight. "No time to waste." She took the lead, Lodon followed. Thresher jerked his chin at them to indicate Alex should fall in. He covered the rear. Alex didn't expect it to be a casual stroll to their target, but their path was immediately hindered by low brush and branches. They climbed through the forest as much as they walked. The need for an entire day to cover just a few miles suddenly didn't seem like enough.
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|Original Photo by kcdsTM|
Original Photo by Damian Gadal