Soldier quickened his pace towards the cache. Koran reluctantly followed. As twilight set in, the two spied the tell tale signs that they were nearing their hiding spot. As they approached, Koran could not shake the feeling that everything was obvious and vulnerable. Someone had stopped here recent. He sensed it. He knew it. Someone had taken note of the carefully placed sign of woven thorns that he and Rusk had taken such care to conceal on their way north.
There, of course were a few such signs left as markers or communications. In some places, entire areas of the thorn wall were dedicated messages openly left weaving the live bushes together into beautiful and intricate patterns. Koran and Soldier had gone to great lengths to make theirs blend in with the natural contours of the wall. One hundred or so meters ahead, Soldier pulled back what looked like a large door made up of thorns and vines. When closed it looked like part of the wall, but actually opened into a short tunnel that lead into the maze of trails throughout the black berry bushes, one of which lead to their cache.
Soldier was already shrugging out of his pack and gear when Koran caught up to him, taking up a guarded position. Rusk felt for the small wooden case tucked safely away in his inside shirt pocket next to his chest. He looked at the case and felt anticipation building.
He quickly retrieved his energy sourced navigation helmet and respirator out of his pack replacing the laborious manual respirator mask he had worn throughout the day. Fitz, the Artificial Intelligence unit, in the wooden box began to jostle around inside making the box vibrate and bounce in Soldier's hands. As soon as Soldier lifted the lid, the little creature flew free of it's confines making a fast escape. So quick was Fitz in flight he was almost too quick to be seen.
"It has been a long time since our last conversation my friend," Fitz communicated to Soldier via the video console inside Rusks navigation helmet; speaking in their own personal language.
"Yes," Soldier answered. "I apologize my friend, I realize your battery life is very low, but I have an important request of you, then I fear it will be not be long before I must ask you go back into the box and i will not be able to release you and communicate with you again for some period of time."
Fitz was registered as a Flying Audio and Visual Recording Device, FAVRD,-R2D2. In reality he was a banned artificial life form with flying, audio, video, iterative AI with massive data Recording capabilities. He accepted Soldier's words in stoic silence. He accepted these long captive dark, silences as terms of his existence, but he didn't like them and described the experience of being in black nothing. "Fine then," He easily weaved in between Soldier and Koran. "What is it you require?"
"My friend, Koran here, is having some distress about our cache. You remember? The last one we left here in the Maze."
"Awe, I see, don't want to crawl in there?" He Teased, buzzing near Soldier's head.
Koran, tried to ignore the interplay he knew was happening between the two of them. He always felt uncomfortable when Soldier communicated with the AI as if we was being left out of something special.
"Fine, I will have a look and report back."
"Excellent, Go as deep as you can, please, beyond the cache, and before dark. Don't draw any attention to yourself." Soldier instructed, turning his attention back to Koran. "We might as well get comfortable as it will be a little while before he clears the passage.
"Go deep," Fitz buzzed up high over the two warriors. From this vantage he could see the maze of thorn walls that lined the shorelines off into the distance on one side and a seeming endless ocean of shallow dirty water on the other. Slowly, lazily he circled back towards the ground and the tunnel entrance. Being about two times the size of a live bee, Fitz could only penetrate the vines so far without risk of being damaged by larger insects or even rodents.
"Tell him, that he is leaving all of the hard work for me, The big jealous thug!" Fitz chided as he circled Koran's head and whizzed into the tunnel's entrance.
" Fitz says good morning, Koran," Soldier smiled..
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BA Hubert lives in Vancouver British Columbia, a long time writer wanna be with the metal boxes of unfinished manuscripts and the rejection letters to prove it.