“Look, I –“ He stopped. He felt cold to his bone, the way the man was looking at him. He put his own jaw as tight as his, his own eyes as blank and steady. They think your someone, he told himself, they think you’re an experiment. It might not be a good idea to tell them that you’re not.
“Are you going to cooperate with us?” the man asked. Elijah didn’t answer right away.
Don’t try any tricks here. There’s probably guards right outside the door.
“Define cooperate,” he said.
“Who made you?”
Elijah was silent. Inside he laughed. You have no idea I was born this way.
Not receiving an answer the man stood up. He pulled a com from his pocket.
“Open the door. We’re going to transfer him,” he spoke into it.
The door opened, and the man walked out. Two armed guards came in after him. They wore dark green gear and black helmets. Elijah noticed that there were no marks of any country, corporation, or even rank on them.
They motioned him to stand. They handcuffed him and walked him out.
They went up a long hallway, a steady slope up. Soon a door opened up ahead. It was daylight outside. Elijah could already feel a waft of hot air coming down towards them.
He squinted in the light as they led him out.
There were in a compound, and he had been under the central building. He knew they were somewhere in Africa, probably right outside the jungle he had crashed in. The air buzzed and the sun blinked too brightly on the white cement. Elijah heard trucks driving out of a gate.
Now he was being led to a helicopter pad. The engine had already been started. The rotors were already whirring the thick, hot air. The pilots were waiting inside.
There were four guards around the pad, just like the ones that were escorting him.
Helicopter, he thought as they approached it. Well, I’ll just be able to jump out. Right, with no wings.
They ushered him out of the sunlight and into the chopper. The inside seemed even darker than it should have been after the light. And except for the cockpit, the windows were blacked out. The guards sat him down with his back to the cockpit, so he couldn’t see where they were headed when the chopper went up.
The guards sat on either side of him. Elijah looked down at his hands, considering.
He felt the helicopter ascend upwards. He knew in a few moment it would be outside of the compound and over the jungle.
If you get taken to another compound you’ll never get out. Do it.
He flexed his hands. Talons came out of his fingertips.
He threw himself and one of the guards forward, latching onto his shoulder with talons. They both hurled forward. The other guard shouted and leapt over on Elijah.
He had the one guard under him, talons deep in his shoulder.
The guard grabbed him. Elijah swung around, tearing his talons out and grabbing the guard’s leg with them. The guard screamed and fell back as Elijah pulled his leg out from under him.
The chopper rocked. Elijah stumbled forward and the first guard jumped up behind him. He heard a gun click.
Without a second glance Elijah shoved his shoulder against the door and popped it open.
Elijah had already leapt out of the chopper.
It whirred away above him. Once again he was hurling to the earth. And this time had didn’t have any wings.
But they hadn’t been that high. The hot air dropped him fast, right to the treetops.
He broke into them. Suddenly it was all green and breaking twigs against him. Snapping and breaking.
He slammed against a thick branch and was about to go farther. His legs latched around it. The tree shuddered and fell around him.
He hung there, everything suddenly still. The blood rushed to his head, already hot and turned upside down. He hung there for a moment, waiting for the world to stop spinning.
His hands were still cuffed. But he drew his talons in, bloodied.
“That could have been worse,” he groaned. He began to pull himself up but stopped. The chopper had flown back around. It was almost right above him. The leaves had begun shaking again.
He let go and dropped down. He rolled and stumbled onto the jungled floor.
He stood up and started running. His head still spun, and he could feel bruises on his back under the braces. His instinct told him to head west. So he did. Vines snapped past him. He ran and didn’t stop.
“Burton, stand down,” he heard on the PA from the chopper.
He rushed past the trees and down a slope. He could already feel sweat down his neck. His palms were sweaty too, and bloody.
“Stand down, Burton, stand down.”
He didn’t. The air whirred with insects and the chopper. He didn’t know if they could see him or not, either way he knew the only thing he could do was run.
It wasn’t long before he thought he heard another chopper coming in. He started running faster. The jungle past him in blurs of heat and green. It shook as the choppers got closer. He knew he couldn’t outrun them.
A dart hit him in the leg and he whipped to the ground.
He rolled forward and thudded against a tree and got caught in the vines.
He grimaced, sweat pouring in his eyes. It wasn’t bullet, only a numbing dart. He couldn’t feel his leg. He tried moving it, but it was only a dead weight. He struggled franticly, throwing the vines off him, gasping for breath.
He looked up. He could see the black choppers behind the green canopy.
“Remain in your position.”
He barely got out of the vines and crawled round to the other side of the tree. Gasping for breath.
“You gotta get out of here. You gotta get out of here,” he muttered. The sun flashed down. The choppers vibrated the air.
He crouched behind the tree. He glanced down at his feet and noticed a murky stream below them. And underneath the tree was a gaping drain pipe feeding the stream. He was right on top of it.
He swung his legs down into it, banging the dead one on the pipe. He slipped down into it, almost falling straight into the steam. He managed to shove himself into the pipe, five inches of water. Thankfully only lukewarm from being out of the sun.
He slid himself farther in, sitting up with his head ducked. The metal braces scrapped against the sides. He dead leg simply dragged, all the way till he was sure he was out of the light. He stayed there and didn’t go farther so he could still hear the choppers. Dim now. But he could still hear them.
He tried to wipe sweat from his face with his cuffed hands. He only managed to smear the dirty water on his forehead instead.
His one knee was pulled up close against his chest. His hands gripped it.
The choppers still hovered. It wasn’t long before he heard boots on the ground.