Legends of Amacia: Path of the Ancients

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Path of the Ancients

At 6:30 am the next morning, everyone awoke to the sound of gunfire from the perimeter. They gathered in the center of the camp around the fire as Morrison appeared. “Gulez has escaped!” Morrison reported urgently as he ran up. “I don’t know how he did it but somehow he got loose.”

“Nathanael...you, Ned and Harry check our defenses. Be alert. We don’t know what to expect,” Hannibal ordered as the perimeter guns ceased fire. “Arabella…you and Jonathan stay with Thomas and the rest of you follow me.” Everyone dispersed as Hannibal ordered. Morrison, Selina, and Sam followed Hannibal to Gulez’s cell. They went in and Hannibal quickly surveyed the scene. The far window was broken with the broken glass inside the room. Gulez’s bindings had been cut and laid on the floor. “Selina...you and John go outside and check for tracks. I want to know where they came in and how many there were,” Hannibal ordered. Selina and Morrison immediately ran out on a mission. Hannibal and Sam searched the room. He went to the window and examined it, seeing some blood on the broken frame and glass still in the window. “Looks like he got sliced pretty good getting out of here,” Hannibal told Sam.

“Yeah...serves him right,” Sam agreed as he saw the blood. He dipped his finger in it and rubbed them together. “It’s still fresh too. He couldn’t have gotten out of here more than a half hour ago,” Sam added.

“Come,” Hannibal ordered, touching Sam’s shoulder. He led Sam outside the hangar where Selina and Morrison met them.

“It looks like they came through the perimeter near the back of the hangar. One of the gun turrets has been destroyed,” Morrison said.

“They were quick too,” Selina added. “And there were five of them. We found two large blood pools outside the perimeter where they destroyed the turret. Apparently, once they destroyed the turret, one of them went to the window and broke in, rescuing the General while the other two covered him from the bushes. Once they had the General, they took their wounded and pulled out. They did this in less than three minutes. Obviously, this was a professional extraction.”

Nathanael, Ned, and Harry showed up as Selina finished. “There’s no one out there,” Nathanael reported. “It must have been a recon unit. But they’re gone now.”

“Most likely one of the General’s elite recon units,” Sam stated.

“Tell them what you found,” Hannibal ordered Selina and she repeated what she and Morrison had told Hannibal.

“That would make sense,” Nathanael commented. “They found out what a mistake it was to attack us frontally with a lot of troops so they sent a small contingent to rescue him.”

“Yeah,” Harry agreed. “A small contingent of special opts would have a much better chance of getting through our perimeter. And apparently they did.”

“Any thought on this, Ned?” Hannibal asked. “Do we have to worry about an immediate counter attack by the General?”

“I don’t think so,” Ned answered. “He was badly injured in the initial attack even though it wasn’t lethal. It’s my guess that the guys who rescued him have been shadowing the camp since the attack yesterday, maybe some of his elite troops that escaped the blood bath. I don’t think we have to worry about him just yet.”

“Yes,” Jonathan agreed. “He’ll first seek medical attention, and then gather his troops before coming after us. We have a little time.”

Hannibal listened to the input intently, carefully weighing the evidence. “All right,” he said after a moment of contemplation. “Nathanael, Harry, Ned…repair the perimeter and meet us in the hangar. We have a lot of work to do. We’ve been given a brief reprieve from the General’s eye. Let’s make the best of it. We move out before he comes back.” Hannibal turned and went back into the hangar flanked by Selina and Sam, followed closely by Morrison. Nathanael, Ned, and Harry went to check the perimeter guns, to see what was needed for their repair.

Hannibal, Selina, Sam, and Morrison returned to the camp. He and Sam sat down as Selina asked Morrison, “Could you get this fire going while I find something for us to eat?”

“Sure,” Morrison replied, immediately getting to work on rekindling the fire while Selina started bringing out food from their supplies.

“So what’s happened?” Thomas asked. “Did the General really get away?”

“I’m afraid so,” Morrison said as he threw some kindling on the few coals that were still glowing.

“How could you have let him get away? You were supposed to be on watch,” Sam scolded.

“I was on watch!” Morrison snapped back. “I was walking the perimeter over on the far side of the hangar when the guns went off. By time I got to the guns, I saw a soldier and Gulez racing down through the bushes. I fired at them, but missed. That’s when I came to tell you all what happened.”

“Looks like you didn’t aim well enough,” Sam sneered.

“Leave him alone,” Hannibal snapped. “It’s not his fault. He did exactly what he was supposed to. Besides, we were going to tie him up beside the road anyway. What difference does it make whether his boys rescue him tied to a tree or from his cell? It shows initiative on their part. But it doesn’t matter now. By this time tomorrow, we’ll be far from here.” As Hannibal spoke, Arabella decided to help Selina with the breakfast.

“Good point,” Jonathan said. “We were going to let him go anyway. But what do you plan on doing about these weapons when we leave?”

“I’m going to leave the perimeter guns running and wire everything with explosives, which we’ve already done,” Hannibal stated. “We’ll take what we can carry and destroy the rest. The General will not get to use the first round from this dump.”

“That’s good,” Jonathan said. “The less he has access to the better. By the way, what’s down the hole over there?”

“That’s the General’s stash of weapons,” Morrison said. “I’ve been looking for that stash for a long time. Looks like Hannibal beat me to it.”

“What else is down there,” Thomas asked, “besides the nerve gas warheads he hid in there?”

“You knew about that?” Hannibal asked.

“Yeah,” Thomas answered. “Every soldier in the battalion knew it because he forbade anyone except his elite troops from going in there. It was a killing offense for anyone not handpicked by him to go to the airfield. So where is the VX? Did you do something with it?”

“I did,” Hannibal declared. “And I’ll tell you what I did with it after we eat.”

“Fair enough,” Thomas replied. “But what else is down in the bunker?”

“Anything you can think of…from rockets and mines to grenades and sensor-operated machine guns. That’s what the perimeter is set with,” Morrison responded.

“Looks like it worked pretty well,” Sam commented snidely. “It did your job.”

Morrison’s eyes flashed angrily and Hannibal saw it. “Why are you talking like that, Sam? He doesn’t deserve your scorn or hate,” Hannibal rebuked harshly. “We’re all friends here, are we not? You have to be able to trust your buddy to watch your back and not stab it when you’re not looking.”

“He let Gulez escape,” Sam hissed. “I think he let him go.”

Morrison’s face grew red with anger and he started to move toward Sam menacingly when Hannibal rose from his seat and restrained him. “Let it go, John. He’s purposely trying to provoke you. Don’t give him the time of day,” Hannibal said coolly. Then to Sam, he turned with anger in his eyes and said coldly, “You’re going to have to dump that attitude, Sam. I’m not going to tolerate dissension amongst the members of this expedition. Where we’re going, any dissension can be lethal to all of us. If you want be part of this, you’re going to have to dump that attitude. Otherwise, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Now which is it going to be?”

Sam’s face fell at Hannibal’s remark as he realized he had crossed a line Hannibal didn’t want crossed. “I’m sorry I accused you of helping Gulez escape,” Sam replied in a half-hearted apology. “I’ll try to behave myself.”

“Good,” Hannibal returned as Nathanael, Ned, and Harry returned from the perimeter.

“We repositioned the perimeter guns to make up for the one we lost this morning,” Nathanael informed as they gathered around the fire.

“Okay,” Hannibal answered, nodding. “Is everyone hungry?” They all indicated they were. “How long before it’s ready, Selina?” Hannibal asked.

“Just a few minutes,” Selina said pleasantly as Arabella helped her. “I suggest you enjoy it. This may be the last good meal we have for a while.”

Hannibal turned his attention to Thomas. “How’s the leg, Thomas?” he asked.

Thomas thought about it for a minute. “You know, it’s not hurting me at all now,” he replied. “And the burns I got are itching just a bit, but not hurting me. Seems this little gizmo you put on me seems to have worked.”

“What gizmo is he talking about?” Jonathan asked.

“Nathanael, could you check to see if the kit is done with his leg?” Hannibal asked.

Nathanael rose and went to Thomas, checking the case first, and then the devices on Thomas’ leg and around the burns. The crystals both on the box and on the small devices on his leg were not glowing or resonating. He carefully picked up one of the small devices and it came right off. “It seems to be done with him,” Nathanael announced as he gathered the devices and put them back into the case. He then took the case and sat it on the table next to the laptop.

“Hey, that wasn’t a dream last night, was it?” Thomas asked as he realized that the devices were not part of a dream.

“No, Thomas,” Hannibal said. “That was one of the little toys we brought.”

“What is that?” Ned asked.

“I’ll tell you in a minute. Thomas, try that leg out first,” Hannibal said. Thomas gave him a hesitant look and Hannibal again urged, “Go ahead.” Hannibal helped Thomas slowly get to his feet. To Thomas’ amazement, he began walking around with absolutely no pain. Jonathan, Ned, and Sam gasped in astonishment as Thomas walked around. “You don’t need that splint anymore,” Hannibal said with a slight smile. “Why don’t you take it off?” Thomas then removed the splint and started to walk around again. This time, as he walked, he noticed that he had a slight limp, but there was absolutely no pain.

Thomas looked at Hannibal with wonder and asked, “How’d you do that?”

“Yeah! How did you do that?” Sam asked with equal wonder.

“Sit Thomas, and I’ll tell you all about it…including what I did with the VX warheads downstairs in the bunker,” Hannibal said as Selina and Arabella began to hand out the breakfast to everyone. “But first, check your burns.”

Thomas sat down and pulled the bandage off his burned arm, finding it healed with nothing but a minor scar. His eyes widened in surprise. “Damn!” he breathed in amazement. “The burn is healed too.”

Arabella looked at the burn and declared, “Goodness me. It even has new skin covering the burn. Let’s check the other burns.” She helped Thomas remove the bandages on the other burns and found them in a similar condition of healing. “Amazing!” Arabella cried. “How did that little machine do that?”

“I’d like to know too,” Sam agreed as Arabella sat down beside Thomas.

“I’ll tell you in just a moment,” Hannibal answered with a wry smile after swallowing some of his eggs. “Let me finish my breakfast and then I’ll tell you all about it.” He washed the eggs down with some water while everyone had their breakfast. They noticed he was nearly done eating, so they let him finish.

As Hannibal finished his breakfast, Ned asked, “Can you tell me why there’s a room out there in the office area that’s sealed and mined with explosives?”

“There’s a nest of rather large, dangerous spiders that I’ve never encountered in that room,” Hannibal explained. “We found it right after arriving. The spiders in there seem to be some cross breed of the bird-eating spiders, the giant tarantula, and some other unknown species. They’re highly aggressive and I suspect lethal to humans. The whole room is covered in webs and an egg sack the size of a five-gallon bucket is hanging in the corner with at least a dozen spiders tending to it and the nest same as ants tend to their queen. Both Nathanael and I were nearly bitten by a guard spider the size of a giant tarantula when we looked in there, so we sealed the room up to keep those little monsters from getting out. They’re going to burn with this hangar when we leave here this morning. I’m convinced those spiders may be some kind of biological weapon placed out here as a test.”

“Are those the spiders you were talking about last night?” Jonathan asked.

“Yeah,” Hannibal replied. “One of the smaller ones dropped on me last night before you woke up and Nathanael caught it before it sank its fangs into me. Apparently, some of the smaller ones must not have been around the nest when we sealed the room.”

“Oh, man,” Ned breathed. “That’s not good. I’d heard rumors about a bioweapon being stored out here, but no one really said what it was.”

“Is that so?” Hannibal queried.

“Yeah,” Thomas stated. “That rumor has been running rampant through the battalion for months. Even I heard about it. Some of the rumors say the troops that delivered the weapon never came back.”

Thomas’ words sent chills down Hannibal’s spine. After a few moments of contemplation, Hannibal said, “Regardless of whether these spiders are a bioweapon or not, I’m going to destroy them. They’re not indigenous to this area and pose a hazard to the people of this area. They’re going to burn today right after we leave here.”

“That’s good,” Ned stated. “But you were going to tell us about how you healed Thomas’ injuries with that kit, whatever it is. I’m all ears.”

“So am I,” Jonathan agreed, as did Sam and Thomas.

“Very well,” Hannibal said with a smile after taking a drink of water. “I’ll not keep you in suspense any longer.” He sipped his glass of water again and then began to tell everyone about the Temple, the portal, healing chambers held therein, the link it had to Amacia, and how he rescued Selina and Nathanael from the jaws of a supernova. In the process, he explained what happened to the missing VX warheads. It took him almost three hours to tell the tale. All of the new comers listened with awe and fascination at his tale knowing that he wasn’t just spinning a yarn because of the what the first-aid kit did to Thomas, and because two giant alien cats were sitting among them. Morrison and Arabella backed up Hannibal’s account since they’d seen the portal and healing chambers first-hand. As Hannibal told the tale, Harry, Nathanael, and Selina went about breaking camp, gathering the packs and supplies they were going to take with them into the wilds.

When Hannibal finished his tale, Thomas declared, “So that’s what happened to the VX warheads. You used this portal thing to get rid of it.”

“Yup,” Hannibal answered. “VX is a banned chemical weapon according to international law. I couldn’t let the General use it when I had the means to dispose of it.”

“I don’t suppose you’d let us see this portal, would you?” Ned asked. “We do just have your word about it.”

“He’s telling the truth,” Jonathan insisted. “I accidentally saw it last night when I woke up. It’s because I insisted that he tell you that you know about it now. It’s technology right out of science fiction.”

“It would be easier to swallow if we could just see it,” Sam said.

“I agree,” Thomas added. “You’ve told us so much and have so little to show for it. Just let us see the portal and I’ll never doubt you again.”

“Okay,” Hannibal conceded with a sigh, “just to prove to you I’m not blowing smoke.” He pulled his communicator out, calling for the portal. Moments later off to the left of the camp in a vacant area of the hangar, the portal appeared, stunning Thomas and his comrades. Dan walked through it as if it were merely a door.

“Hello everyone,” Dan called out in a friendly tone. “I’m Dan and through that swirling ring is the Temple of Tiamat in Sumatra some ten thousand miles away.” Turning to Hannibal, Dan added, “I’ve been monitoring the area and seen a heightened state of military activity, Hannibal. I’d advise you to get moving before they find you again.”

“Are they coming this way?” Hannibal asked.

“Not yet,” Dan reported. “They appear to still be massing in town right now. I’d make myself scarce before they head this way.”

“That’s the plan,” Hannibal replied. “We’re getting ready to move out right now.”

“Do you want me to retrieve our equipment after you leave?” Dan asked.

“Yeah,” Hannibal stated. “Take everything you set up here back to the Temple. But be careful when you do it because we’re mining the bunker and hangar to destroy the weapons down there and the spiders in the office.”

“You got it,” Dan stated. “In fact, I’ll get some help to do it now before you set the booby trap.”

“Good thinking,” Hannibal commended. “That way we don’t have to worry about anyone getting hurt.”

“If you fellas will excuse me, I have some work to do here,” Dan stated. “Don’t mind me.” He darted back through the portal, leaving it open.

“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you,” Thomas apologized. “You really do have access to advanced technology.”

“Me too,” Ned admitted. “Seeing that guy just walk through that thing like it was a door blows my mind. Is Sumatra really on the other side of that thing?”

“It is,” Hannibal stated.

Harry abruptly intruded, changing the subject. “Not that I’d like to sit here and reminisce about the good old days, but I must remind everyone we have a job to do and the General is still out there gunning for us,” he declared.

“You’re so right,” Hannibal said. “I’ve taken entirely too long to tell this. We should have been moving an hour ago.”

Hannibal rose and as he did, Thomas said to Hannibal, “Thank you for showing us. You’ve place a great trust in us by revealing this to us. We’ll not fail that trust, will we guys?” Ned, Jonathan, and Sam agreed adamantly with Thomas.

Hannibal nodded with a smile. “All right,” he chimed. “Now that I’ve shown you what’s behind the curtain, let’s get this expedition moving. Selina, Nathanael, would you hand out the packs. I hope you don’t mind. I sent for some extra packs for you last night. That’s when Jonathan caught me with my hand in the cookie jar.” The group chuckled at Hannibal’s humor. Selina and Nathanael handed the packs out to their new friends. “Okay, before we move out, I want everyone to come with me,” Hannibal ordered. They sat the packs down as he led them down into the bunker. Hannibal gestured to the stash. “Take your pick,” he ordered. “But bring only what you can easily carry. We have a lot of ground to cover.”

Ned, Thomas, Jonathan, Sam, and Arabella gasped at the pile of hardware before them. Hannibal, Selina, and Nathanael retrieved five grenades each from the crates. Morrison grabbed an AK-47 with a sling and grenade launcher attached to it along with a nine-millimeter pistol, a hundred rounds for each weapon, and fifteen grenades on a bandoleer. Arabella procured herself a nine-millimeter pistol with fifty rounds of ammunition. Thomas took a crossbow with two quivers of arrows and six grenades. He also retrieved two packets of explosive heads for the arrows along with a nine-millimeter pistol with fifty rounds. Ned searched through the hardware and grabbed a heavy M-60 machine gun with three belts of ammunition and six grenades. Jonathan grabbed a couple of nine-millimeter sub machine guns with harnesses, some ammunition and six grenades. Sam picked up an automatic shotgun with a grenade launcher attached and an appropriate amount of ammunition for it. Finally, Harry grabbed an extra nine-millimeter pistol with fifty rounds and five grenades.

Once Hannibal saw they had their choice of weapons, he said, “All right. Let’s go. Nathanael, set the charges.” He led them out of the secret room back to the main hangar. Nathanael followed behind, setting the charges. When they returned to the camp in the hangar, the high-tech perimeter and equipment around the inner camp was gone with Dan standing in front of the portal.

“The results came back on the spiders just before you called,” Dan called out as Hannibal walked up.

“Was I correct in thinking they’re a bioweapon?” Hannibal asked bluntly.

“You hit the nail on the head,” Dan reported, casting a grim look at Hannibal. “And you were right to be very concerned about them. Those spiders are definitely not a natural species. They’re a genetic splicing of the bird-eaters, giant tarantula, Brazilian wandering spider, and bullet ants. The spiders are divided into casts like the ants and I strongly suspect they are of a hive mind. The really big spiders that attacked us were guard spiders and the smaller ones that were sprayed with the big one on the door are soldiers. Their venom is highly acidic and neural toxic. Just a drop of venom from the guard is enough to kill a full-grown elephant. That makes them the deadliest spiders on the planet. The one you caught last night is a worker. Even though it’s not as venomous as the others, it’s still lethal to humans.”

“This is not good,” Hannibal declared grimly. “You’re sure the spiders aren’t natural.”

“One hundred percent positive,” Dan stated. “We triple checked our findings. It’s possible you may get a crossbreeding of the spider species, but the ant DNA being spliced into the spider’s genetic structure conclusively proves it’s an artificial construct. You need to destroy these things immediately before they’re unleashed on the world.”

“Did you find out where they were manufactured?” Nathanael asked.

“Not yet, but we’re still working on it,” Dan stated. “There are rumors of a secret US military lab on Jarvis Island in the central Pacific that may have been the source of these things, but there’s no concrete evidence to prove it yet.”

“Hmmm, Jarvis Island,” Hannibal murmured, rubbing his chin. “You may be onto something there, Dan. I know there’s a Class 5 bioweapons lab on that island. They were experimenting with all manner of germs and vectors. Maybe they expanded their operation. Check into the Jarvis operation, Dan, and be very careful. The Jarvis lab is one of Zeus’ main bioweapons facilities and the security around that system is top-notch.”

“You got it,” Dan replied. “We’ll be very careful and hopefully, tie down where these spiders really came from.”

“Good man,” Hannibal stated, patting Dan on the shoulder. “I guess this is good-bye for now, Dan. Thanks for the info and keep our people safe while I’m gone.”

“I will,” Dan said, embracing Hannibal. “Please be careful.”

“Of course,” Hannibal replied, returning the embrace. “We’ll be very careful. And don’t worry when we get out of range. The Lord is with us in this.”

“I’m sure He is,” Dan stated, moving on to say farewell to Nathanael, Harry, and Selina. After giving Selina a hug, Dan said, “Please keep Hannibal out of trouble, okay? You know how trouble always seems to find him even when he’s not looking for it.”

“I will,” Selina answered with a smile and a kiss on Dan’s cheek. “Until we meet again, Dan; may the Lord guide and protect you.”

“Same here,” Dan stated. “We’ll be praying for you guys.”

“We appreciate that,” Hannibal stated. “Now go, my friend. Both of us have a lot of work to do.”

“Right,” Dan returned, smiling. “See you guys later. Be safe, my friends.” With that, Dan walked through the portal. Seconds later, it disappeared with a pop.

“He’s such a nice man,” Arabella commented.

“He’s the best,” Hannibal assured everyone. “Much of what I’ve accomplished would not have been possible without him. We’re very good friends.”

“I can see that,” Thomas stated.

“So what now, Hannibal?” Jonathan asked.

“We get our stuff and hit the bricks,” Hannibal stated bluntly, “and blow this place to hell once we’re gone.”

“Sounds good to me,” Morrison chimed.

“Get your supplies and weapons,” Hannibal ordered. “We move out in five minutes.” With that order, the team gathered their packs, supplies, and weapons. Hannibal, Selina, Nathanael, and Harry retrieved the weapons they had initially brought with them. Hannibal donned his flight jacket and hat. He strapped his whip to his side and once he had his pack on, Hannibal said, “All right people. Into the great unknown we go. If there’s anyone who’s got second thoughts about this, now’s the time to speak up.”

“We’re with you,” Thomas said confidently, speaking for his friends who agreed with Thomas’ statement.

“We’re with you too,” Morrison said and Arabella agreed.

Hannibal looked at Selina, Nathanael, and Harry who just smiled. “Okay, just asking,” Hannibal announced, “Now, let’s go. Please deal with the perimeter, Nathanael.” Nathanael nodded and Hannibal started out of the hangar, flanked by Selina and Harry, followed by everyone else with Nathanael bringing up the rear, setting the explosives as he went. They followed Hannibal to the perimeter near the back of the hangar and stopped as they waited for Nathanael to come. He came running after setting the last bomb in the entrance. “Is it set?” Hannibal asked.

“Yes,” Nathanael said as he pulled the perimeter remote out of his pocket and lowered the perimeter. “This hangar is set to blow the moment the perimeter is breached. Anyone who manages to get past the guns will wish they hadn’t. There are enough explosives in there to destroy a small town, more than enough to sanitize the spiders locked in Office 4. It’s going to make a very nice boom.”

“Good. That’s a weight off my mind,” Hannibal said with a pleased tone as he led them due west through the perimeter. Nathanael rearmed the perimeter once they were out of range. They covered another sixty yards when Hannibal stopped and turned to the group. He pulled the map out and opened it up. He gazed at intensely, and then at the surrounding forest. Squirrels chattered and birds sang as a light breeze blew down from the mountain. “All right…what we’re looking for is this road,” he ordered, pointing it out on the map. “Now, it’ll be overgrown and covered. Spread out and search. Look for anything out of the ordinary that doesn’t seem to belong. It may be discovered by something as insignificant as a difference in the height of the grass or underbrush. The road is here. We just need to find it.”

They spread out and searched the forest intensely in a grid pattern, slowly making their way west. After two hours of searching, a voice called out, “Hey everyone…I’ve found something!” Everyone converged on the voice finding Sam standing next to a strange-looking non-indigenous stone resembling a five-foot obelisk.

Hannibal looked at the stone and Sam standing next to it as the rest of the group gathered. “Looks like you found something all right,” Hannibal stated as he cleaned off the vines that had grown over it. His smile grew broader when he saw the Stone Language written on it was seriously eroded, but readable. Nathanael cocked an eyebrow up as they all watched Hannibal read the writing on the stone.

“Is that what I think it is?” Harry asked.

“Yes, Harry. It’s the Stone Language. This is the first direct evidence we’re on the right path,” Hannibal said.

“Stone Language…What’s that?” Arabella asked.

“The Stone Language is the original language that mankind used before the Flood,” Selina said. “It means this little obelisk is at least five thousand years old or older.”

“Whoa, that’s old,” Ned chimed. “What does it say?”

“It’s a number,” Hannibal answered. “This is some kind of mile marker. Four-fifty is what’s written. That’s it.” He turned his back to it and looked around. “The road is really close to this thing. Spread out. It’s here,” he ordered.

Everyone searched intensely and within five minutes, Harry called out, “It’s over here. The road’s here.”

The team subsequently converged on Harry’s position and found him standing on a narrow road not much wider than a driveway. It was paved with a substance that appeared to be similar to asphalt, but it was crumbled and weathered with brush, trees, and grass growing through it that was much shorter than the underbrush surrounding it. “You found it. Good work Harry, Sam. See, it’s just like I said. The undergrowth on the road is shorter than that around it. Now, we can make some progress,” Hannibal crowed.

“Where exactly does this road go?” Jonathan asked as Hannibal took point, leading them down the road to the west.

“It’s supposed to go to Amacia,” Hannibal replied. “But for the time being, I believe it runs through the territory of the Zinzera tribe before we reach the city.”

“You are aware that the Zinzera are cannibals, aren’t you?” Morrison asked.

“Yes, I am. If I believed I could reach the city without going through their territory, I would. But as of now, I haven’t found that road,” Hannibal declared as he pushed through the underbrush on the road. “Remember…I told you all that we’re going where people don’t usually come back from.”

“We’ll have to keep our guard up,” Nathanael said. “Does anyone know where their territory starts?”

“It’s said their territory is in a valley just west of here, at the base of Aconcagua,” Thomas said as he limped along without any problem.

“Has anyone put any roads into this area?” Hannibal asked.

“No,” Morrison answered. “The developers avoid this area like the plague because of the cannibal problem. Though I suspect that once Gulez removes them from the valley, they’ll be fighting over it.”

“That goes without saying,” Harry chimed in. “I see they’re as big a problem here as they are in the United States.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” Arabella said. “They aren’t nearly as pushy as those in America.”

“Give them time,” Hannibal replied sarcastically. They continued down the road for several hours, covering almost ten miles.

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