Click...click, Shane opened his eyes as he slowly pulled the revolver from his left temple and sighed deeply, "Dammit" he muttured under his breath, with tears streaming down his face, he glared at the two empty cylinders. Looking around he realized he was still here, lost, in the middle of nowhere. The sun was just cresting over the mountains off to his right. He looked to see what was left from last nights escapades. His K5, bullet riddled from top to bottom, leaking fluid from many places. The air still hung heavy with the smell of cordite, expended brass scattered everywhere. He sighed heavily again, staggering toward the aerated shell that used to be his transport. Drawing a slim fag from the crumpled pack under his sleeve, he nibbled at one end while fumbling for his lighter, he fluidly lifted his .357 super mag, and the world suddenly stopped in an awesome clap, and the jackrabbit that was bounding away fell straight down and tumbled. He just looked down and flicked his lighter to life and lit his smoke. "Gotta eat" he mumbled. The smell of burned rabbit made him smile slightly, remembering back to a better time, when food was easier to come by, (and no one was trying to put an end to him) after picking through the scorched flesh of the rabbit, he stood slowly and stepped toward the hill off to his right, as he topped the hill, he stopped where he stood, spent brass, and blood everywhere. Drag marks, signs of scuffle, and more spent brass. He bent and picked up a casing, almost admiring it he mumbles ".357 super mag? I don't remember "all" this." He stood straight and looked around slowly and said outloud " no bodies"? He just stood in awe, unsure of what what was building in his mind, a faint whinning sound growing on the outskirts of his thought, he spotted a bright flash off maybe 2 miles to the south, he dropped almost instinctivly as the whinning projectile zinged just past his scalp. He lightly felt near his brow, looking up. "That's it!" he growled, biting his ciggarette in two, he stormed off in the direction of the flash. "Somebody's gonna die , now!" as he stormed down the slope. As he reached up to open the tailgate, it fell open with a loud "thud". Shaken, he sighed lightly at the sight of so many bullet holes in Flat black sides of his Blazer, that had held off the heavy rain of lead the night before. The fleeting memories were just now coming back to him, the heavy lines above his brow giving away the deep frustration building in him. The rear panel of his floor mounted tool box fell open with a low "clunk", exposing the many boxes of ammunition. He sat attentivly loading all the speed loaders and magazines he could see, and quickly dropped as many as would fit into his cargo pockets, they bulged heavily. Then loaded all the remaining ammo into his tattered rucksack. The sun had risen only slightly when he finally reached into the battered tool box, and withdrew his most prized. Running his hand across it's smooth, hard lines, he smiled slightly, flashing back to a not so distant time when this animal had roared it's way out of a few really bad spots, he grinned widely, Suddenly it was gone and he was still here, standing in front of a bullet riddled corpse , that was once his trusty K5. He swung the .357 automag in a wide arc to regain the "feel" for it, and then firmly pushed the behemoth into it's home, under his left arm, "310 grains of hate and fury" he said outloud, still smiling. He turned and crouched under the left rear fender, reached in and almost stumbled, then quickly found what he was after. With a swift, hard pull, the charging handle dropped to the ground, he broke out in a full sprint heading down into the ravine on his right, after what seemed a full minute, the Blazer dissappeared into a huge black mushroom cloud. He was about to duck behind a large boulder, when the thunderous blast knocked him off balance, and sent him tumbling into the brush. He caught himself running and scrambled for cover as smoldering debri fell around him, setting small fires here and there in the surrounding brush. He stood, slightly bewildered, and headed back down the ravine, not looking back. After several minutes of dodging tree limbs and rock outcroppings, Shane rounded a curve to find himself standing at the edge of an enormous desert valley. The gray soil crusted with saline deposits and spotted with dry sage brush and dried cedar trees. He sighed under his breath and said aloud "here we go again". Looking around slowly for anything, some movement, a sound, some sign of anything. He looked up for a reference to the sun, as he slowly marched in the direction of the flash he'd seen earlier. There seemed nothing was out of place here, the ground unscaithed, no prints, nothing, instinctively Shane starts almost jogging while crouching trying to stay low as to not attract attention, the ammo in his cargo pockets swinging back and forth as he made his way towards what he hoped would not be there. He thought maybe a single sniper or maybe a small band at best. He kept glancing at the .357 automag under his left arm, thinking it his only friend. The big revolver in his right hand felt slippery in his sweaty palm, he paused shortly to spin the cylinder making certain it was fully munged for what he hoped wouldn't happen. He hated the anticipation, it almost always gave him pause, sometimes to a fault (it almost got him killed a few times). He had traveled in this state of self imposed stupor for what seemed like days, actually only about 30 minutes. when he awoke peering around a large Cedar tree. "Off maybe 300 yards" he thought to himself. He thought it looked like a body, tied and bound, lying in a small depression, next to a worn sandstone outcropping. Almost immediatly, warning signals started going off in his mind, this is all to easy he thought to himself. He spent the next hour making his way toward the body, low crawling, dodging, pausing momentarly to scan around for any movement. He was now within 30 feet from the body and could see that is was moving, wiggling around, attempting to free itself from the bounds that were tied around it's ankles, hands tied behind the back. He took one step and heard something he recognized instantly, the faint sound of a blade leaving it's sheath,very close too. He instictivly dropped his revolver, and shoved his right hand up under his left arm.The blast that immediatly followed knocked him forward a step, and with gunsmoke still rising from the holstered automag, he spun around to see his would be attacker twitching on the ground. A large, dark hole just above the hollow in the mans throat welled blood up in it. The twitching faded quickly to nothing. Shane obviously shaken, quickly looked around for any further confontation and found himself alone. The bitter taste of adrenaline now on his lips, he stepped back and retreived his revolver. "I need a smoke". he said, as he walked over to the bound and gagged prisoner. II "Well are you going to untie me?" the horse, female voice shot from the burlap bound prisoner. Shane stopped abruptly, surprised by the sound of a female voice. He stooped slowly and said "That all depends!" as he pulled out a small dagger from the inside of his left boot. "Are you going to be trouble?"at the same time whipping the blade through the tightly bound electrical cord that bound the ankles which were immediatly kicking at the cords attempting to be free of them. Shane placed his hand against her shoulder in an motion to calm her long enough to cut her wrists free, He paused and then grabbed the heavy burlap around her head and pulled it down, revielling a tangle of dark brown hair. Through the hair he could make out small toothy grin. She shook her head back and forth quickly to clear her tanned face. "Thanks" she said, after clearing her throat. "I'm Lisa, and what may I call my savoir"? Shane pulled her around so he could reach her wrists and with a good pull severed the cord that held her wrists. "Shane" he replied, as he stood and fumbled for a smoke under his sleeve. Lisa wiggled around inside the heavy burlap trying to free herself. She climbed out of the fray after several seconds and asked for smoke. Shane didn't speak, just held out the pack. She delicatly pulled one of the short camels out and Shane produced a lighter, lit the twig, and was just about to replace the lighter, when Lisa commanded " let me see that". He tossed the chrome box to her, she held it as if reading it. then tossed it back. "U.S. Marines huh?" He looked her straight away, and said "is there a problem?" She said "thanks for the smoke, haven't had one since I was taken". He replied "who took you...who are these guys? What the hell are you doing out here?" Suddenly Lisa spun to the left, landing a hard side kick to Shanes mid outer thigh cargo pocket with a "thud", and followed by two quick hard jabs to his nose, and immediatly sprang away, into a full sprint. He fell to one knee and instantly drew his automag, in a thunderous clap it was over. Lisa lunged forward, bearing the full impact. Her chest now just a gaping exit wound. "Everybody!" he exclaimed outloud, as he holstered his only friend. As he was wiping the blood from his face, he noticed the long, stout barrel, of what appeared to be a huge Sniper rifle, sitting on its bipod legs, several feet away from the depression where Lisa had been tied up. He glanced back to where she had fallen and sighed deeply "why?" Looking at the sky, he notices that sun is nearly touching the mountain tops to the west, and that the smoke rising from where his K5 was, has since faded. He says to himself "Better get camp set up". After a quick inspection of the rifle and a look inside the magazine, He pulls his binoculars from his ruck, and begins a slow pan around the barren valley. "Nothing " he mutters to himself. His small fire built in the depression, could hardly be seen from 20 feet away, let alone a mile or two. The two dispatched bodies, dragged about 50 yards away, lay side by side. Shane streched out next to the fire, rummaging through the effects of both. A rather large survival knife, not very sharp, a small sack of marbles. Lisa was carying a small pocket knife and nothing more. Dozing off, Shane thought to himself, "with a rifle like that there has got to be more ammo"! "I'll find it in the morning". He mutteres to himself as he nods off. He spent the next several hours in and out of sleep, dreaming of a different life, one of his friends, his other life. Where the Corps had been his life, and so many of his friends had died. Every time he awoke with a start and filled with terror, his eyes full of tears. Sometimes he would awake to find a weapon in his hand, other times just balled up fists. Now he had no idea how he ended up here, or even when "here" was. Every day was just that, another day to try to live through. Still people tried to kill him, end his existance, and he never could figure out , why! His tortured sleep lasted until the first blinding beams of sunlight warmed his face. He awoke to find his revolver in his hand, and an overwhelming sense of dread and paranioa. He couldn't tell what had changed, but something had. He looked around and couldn't see anything out of place, everything exactly where I left it, He thought to himself. Then it struck him, left him completely shocked, the bodies were gone! No tracks, no drag marks nothing, just gone! "Just like back at the K5" he said aloud, "what gives?" He walked to spot where the bodies had been last night, and the indentations where still there, but no other tracks, just empty barren clay. The Sniper rifle turned out to be an old single shot .50 caliber. Shane found a small back pack hidden under a large sagebush, beside the sandstone outcropping where he slept. He smiled slightly when he saw the ammunition that was left for the rifle. "Atleast they brought plenty of ammo!" he said. He spent the next few minutes rearranging the contents of his rucksack, making ready for a long walk. He laughed to himself as he hiked through the sagebrush, the hefty rifle felt like weighed a good thirty pounds slung over his shoulder, with one in the chamber. His ruck heavy with ammo, and so much that just happened, he could hardly feel the straps digging into his shoulders. "What happened to the bodies" he kept asking himself as he trudged his way through the sage, stopping now and again for a pull from his canteen. It was midday now, and he covered close to ten clicks they way he had it figured. The questions of the night before faded suddenly as he stepped up onto the shoulder of a worn, old pavement road. Wild grass springing from the cracks in the greying smooth surface, but no other signs of life. As far as his eyes could make, nothing! Just heat waifting up from the grey asphalt. "Which way" he mumbled, looking south down the road, then north. "Don't want to second guess myself now" he said almost reluctantly. "Screw it! south it is then!" and off he went. He hadn't seen any one or anything since this morning, and that was a ways from where he was now, so he walked openly right down the center of the lonely old road. Several hours had past since Shane had looked at the sun, which was settling low in the west, just above the mountain tops. time to camp again, he mumbled to himself. He looked ahead for some cover, an outcropping, a tree, just something to camp near. Off to his left he spyed a small hill about one hundred yards east of the road. He immediatly turned and headed that direction and began his nightly ritual; drop the gear, make a quick recon of the area, then set up camp, which consisted of starting a small fire and unrolling his blanket. He saw nothing of any interest when out scouting, before the sun went down he made a quick scan of the valley he was in, using the scope mounted on his new toy, the .50 caliber Barrett. "What a great gun this is" he mentioned to himself, as if holding a conversation. "No movement" he said quietly as he moved his eye away from the scope. III As the darkness moved in across the valley, Shane sat quietly munching on the remanants of an MRE, pondering the events of the last few days. "Where had the bodies gone?" he wondered outloud, as his lonliness set in with the deepening night. He nodded off, with a peice of salted pork still in his hand. His sleep was restless as usual, even the slightest sound would awaken him. Wide eyed and searching, for what had crept in on him. As the night sky began its morph to grey, Shane awakened from another of his nightly terrors with a start! Jumping up, with revolver in hand, Hammer back, trigger finger tight against the trigger. His heart racing, he scanned around him quickly unable to focus on anything in the lingering dark. After several frightful minutes he collapsed back to his blanket and wiped the the sweat from his forehead. He had the familiar feeling he was being watched, or stalked. His eyes adjusting to growing light, now danced back and forth, scanning for anything, any movement, something out of place. After almost an hour of this self induced anxiety, he came to his senses, and realized it was time to move. After a quick tidy up of his sleeping quarters, bury the fire, drag brush over his tracks to hide any sign of his existance. with his meager belongings packed away in his ruck, he took to checking all his weapons for "happiness". "Supermag, six rounds. Automag, fifteen founds. .50 cal, six rounds!" he mechanically exclaimed! "Three knives all in their respective homes, everything ready and stowed" he said outloud. His ruck was unusually heavy this morning as he set off back down the road. The Barrett kept rubbing his right hip as if to remind him of it's presence. The last bit of last nights pork tasted like heaven to him as he marched uprightly down the center of the worn pavement. The yellow paint still shown in some spots, just enought for him to guide himself straight down the center of the road. By midday, the sky had turned gray with clouds and he could smell rain, allthough, he never saw any. He kept thinking "I'd better keep an eye for some cover if it gets bad". Off in the distance he saw a lone lightning strike, as he watched he waited for the rolling "boom" that would shortly follow, he waited and waited counting seconds, it never came. He wondered, if, it had left a scorched glassy pit in the ground. "Probably not" he said aloud. "Where was the "crack?" he said He could feel the fatigue building in his legs, all these kilometers, and not even a thought of sitting down and resting. "Not till nightfall" he mumbled to himself. He suddenly realized the clouds had just dissappeared. Right back to a sunny day, just as it had started. He paused his march in midstep and peered in the direction of where the lightning had struck, and fumbled for the rifle slung on his back, bringing it up he quickly popped both caps and leveled this awsome beast in the direction of the lightning, as he focused through the leupold scope mounted on top, he drew a half breath and paused, "there you are!" he hissed quietly! Shane broke out in a full sprint as fast as his laden ruck would allow him to move, in a half hunched position he ran to a nearby boulder, surrounded by sage brush. He could hear his heart beating, as he laid down the rifle and untied his binoculars for a better look. He peered up and over the left side of the rock and scanned in the direction he had last seen the movement. He was instantly drawn to this man, half dressed, only pants, nothing more. With kind've a mixed jog-run trying to avoid the sage brush. This man, looked as if someone or something was chasing him but Shane could only make out the lone man running. He dissappeared as he ran behind a rise and Shane almost tripped as he moved to keep sight of him. His rangefinder read more than two kilometers, so he knew he hadn't been seen. Even though, the man ran straight for him. Shane stood almost straight up, looking for the man unable to see over the rise that had blocked his view. He ducked almost instinctivly as he heard something he had not expected. A single "Clap", deep and thunderous, echoed for a few seconds. He knew immediatly what that was, he hesitated momentarly, and then broke out in a hunched-over jog in the direction of the rise. As he crested the hill he dropped to a prone position, with his rifle out front. At first he saw nothing,just dry, barren desert. Using the scope didn't allow for much width of view, but it was enough. He said nothing, just breathed silently and smoothly as he watched. A tall broad chested man, dressed in desert camo fatigues,carrying a large rifle and a rucksack much like his. He sprang from out of nowhere and walked slowly, southward towards an unseen target. Shane noticed a few buzzards, circling high, and slowly descending, he knew what was happening. After ten minutes of hiking the man stopped and stood, then dropped his rifle and ruck, then began rumaging through it. He appeared to be searching a body, but, he couldn't see it. The man occasionally would stop and wave off the buzzards, that had become quite brave at ths point. After about ten minutes, the man stood gathered his belongings and looked down once, turned and started running straight for the road that Shane had just ventured from. He knew it was time to move, as he watched this soldier run. He stored his binoculars as he ran to keep sight of this man. He paused to reaquire his quary, to no avail he was gone. Suddenly "BOOM"! He instinctively dropped to the ground, scanning for it's origins. He saw the black mushroom cloud, right where the soldier had stopped at. He knew what had just happened, was exact protocol...for disposing of an unwanted body. He chuckled shortly, loving the thought of big "Bangs". Now he had a task, find the soldier that had just brought all this to bear, and get some answers.