Chapter 11: The Badlands: Part 3: Confrontation
Date: August 4, 2009. Time: 0037 Location: Bad Lands, South Dakota
For many hours two men have been tracking a quarry whose identity they are unsure of. Each has his suspicions. What they both agree on is that nature is not herself this fine night. The air lacks the buzz of life. The younger attributes it to the conflict below them. The elder has no word for what might be causing this most unusual of behaviors from the denizens of the Bad Lands.
"I see him."
The expert tracker and spotter have finally found the prey they have been following for the last 12 hours. It has been no easy task, trying to track a target while a war rages between the United States and the Sioux Nation. However, they have avoided being seen. Now they stalk their quarry hoping that by capturing the "wild man in the mountains" they can bring this escalating battle to its resolution.
Without a word Dart circles around the target as Spirit remains. These two work in perfect harmony with each other and their surroundings. They know each move the other will make, the only unknown is the target. They have watched as the hard to track trail became more obvious. Dragging foot marks, a growing number of broken branches, blood spots on the foliage tell the duo that their target is injured and growing weak. This makes him a growing variable to their plans. How he will react to being captured they can only guess. As each man readies himself for the inevitable fight there is a sudden change in the behavior of their target. His masked face raises and begins to turn toward the location of Spirit. Before the two can react he disappears from sight.
"What just happened?"
The two enter the small clearing where the man they were tracking just vanished from.
"There is only one man who could do what we just witnessed."
"You are correct Dart. But why here and why now? He could have easily slipped out of the area at any given time."
"Perhaps his injuries prevented him?"
"His injuries…" Spirit squats over the last track of Zartan. Between his fingers he rubs a substance that he believed to be blood but now... "I don't believe he was injured at all. I believe we have been set up my friend."
"What do you think we should do."
"Stay and wait."
"I apologize but I have to ask, why?"
"Zartan would not have gone through all this trouble unless there was a reason. That he didn't fight speaks volumes. You have not had the dealings with the master of disguise as I have. He is honorable in combat. There is a reason he led us here. We must discover what it is. Prepare a fire I fear we should have to wait long."
A small easily concealed fire is built and the two wait. Each listening to the eerie silence of the wood. Time seems to stand still until out of the surrounding bush comes a sound which turns the men to stone. A sound that neither have ever heard made by a creature of this world. With a look the two know what they will do. Out of the bushes stumbles the source of the otherworldly noise. In the dim moonlight the attire of this new antagonist is missed by both man. They only notice that this man too is in all black. They prepare.
The bellowing moan coming from the man makes the hair of his hunters arms stand on end, yet they are not stopped. Dart reaches his mark sweeping the legs of the man out from under him while turning his targets body away from from Spirit. Spirit is upon him before he hits the ground driving his knees into the man's lower back. The only reaction is the continued moaning and struggling. Each hunter attempts to secure his area, Spirit the hands, Dart the legs. Securely bound they roll the man over on his back.
"Holy shit! It can't be!"
Staring up at the pair through a slitted visor is a man the two thought of as a friend. The lower portion of his mask torn away, his jaws distended, a low snarl snarl coming from his throat.
"He's injured. Untie him Dart. We must help him."
Dart immediately cuts the bonds off his friends ankles.
"I have to sit you up to cut your bonds my friend. Had we known it was you we would not have been so rough."
Spirit raises his long time colleague and begins to turn him to cut his bonds. At the same time the man turns jaws snapping at the hand of his friend. Dart reacts. He pulls Spirit away. Their injured friend struggles to get to his feet.
"He's obviously delirious. We must get him medical attention."
Dart has no chance to respond as their wounded comrade charges him, mouth wide, saliva flying wildly. Dart sidesteps the attack again sweeps his legs. This time the man regains his footing quicker only to have Spirit rush him from the back forcing him back to the hard earth face down.
"I do think we may have acted hastily. He is acting like a wild animal. Perhaps he has been bitten by a rabid inhabitant of the mountains?"
"Whatever it is I say we retie his legs."
"No. He is our friend, he is injured, he deserves to be treated respectfully. We will keep his hands tied to help prevent further injury. He will need his legs to walk."
Again Spirit tries to raise his friend to his feet. Again the man tries to attack him. The unanticipated action knocks Spirit to the ground. His friend is upon him snapping at him like mad dog. Spirit struggles to hold him at bay.
"He's trying to kill you."
"Dart I can not do what I would ask of you."
The request is met by the quick blade of the Dakota warrior. The head of the assailant falls to the ground, teeth still gnashing, still striving to sink into the soft flesh of its intended victim.
"What monster is this?"
"I do not know Dart. But it does not bode well for those below us."
As the teeth snap Dart kicks the head of his former friend into the fire.
Date: August 5, 2009. Time: 1200 Location: Bad Lands, South Dakota
Highway 17, once a quiet stretch or road full of beautiful vistas. Now home to a growing military, news, and civilian "town."
"The Battle at Crazy Horse has been raging for several days now. What started out as an investigation into a suspected terrorist attack against a Native American monument turned deadly when federal agents from FEMA the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI were murdered on live television after offering help to the local Sioux Tribal Council.
The Department of Homeland Security activated the National Guard prior to the outbreak of violence. The National Guard then found itself under attack."
"How did he get here?!"
"We sent Snake Eyes! He's the best. At least that's what we thought."
"Snake Eyes is a Joe."
"Don't be naive. Do you think the federal government would waste a talented asset like Snake Eyes with mere military actions? He's done more wet work for us than any other operative."
"Why him. Why not send Spirit or me?"
"Because you couldn't get the job done."
"How do you know?"
"Because the job was to kill everyone who may have come in contact with or been exposed to the subject. Man, woman, child. Take a look at yourself. Take a look at what you've already done. Do you really think we could have trusted you to kill these people?"
A single gunshot rings out as the agents head flies back as the bullet exits his skull.
"Spirit what have you done!?!?"
"I have done what we should have done a long time ago. I have retaken my freedom. For far too long I believed my actions were those of the right and just. I believed I was mending relations between peoples. The reality is I was a mere puppet. A puppet of men like Agent Rogers. Now I… No we must take back what is ours before we fall into oblivion."
Date: August 5, 2009. Time: 1700 Location: Bad Lands, South Dakota
"We have just received confirmation that the leaders of the most recent massacre are highly decorated soldiers. Members of the elite G.I.Joe Team. Operatives Charlie Iron-Knife and Jimmy Tall Elk were seen on video footage, broadcast live just hours ago through our local affiliate, cutting the scalps off of several restrained federal agents. The gruesome transmission was quickly cut off due to its highly graphic nature."