Ira braked, and threw the vehicle in park. Lyric scooted forward on the back seat to hear better. Gun leaning against his shoulder, the man wore head to toe camo. He waited as Ira rolled down his window.
“Mighty small rescue party, you have here.”
“Sorry, Sir, but this isn't a rescue party.”
“But ya are Army, aren't ya?” His eyes narrowed, and his hand reached for the shot gun on his shoulder.
“Yes, Sir, we are...”
“Then you're what? A scout?” He asked, cutting Ira off.
A bad feeling rolled through Lyric's belly at the guys interrogation. She didn't like the way he kept his hand on the gun strap, and eyes flicked from Ira to Marcus. She'd been around enough hunters to know a causal hold from a 'I'm getting ready to put holes in something' hold.
She rocked back looking at the church wondering where the other guy had got to and saw another man accompanying the other guard, coming toward them. He was the complete opposite of the other two wearing a crisp black shirt and pants. Looking like he'd be more at place in an office, than the middle of nowhere.
He smiled, flashing straight white teeth. “Mike don't scare them away.”
The man standing before Ira's window visibly relaxed, and stepped aside. “No worries, Rev they ain't going anywhere.”
Lyric glanced from one man to the other through the window, not liking the undertones. Behind the Rev a small group of people filtered out of the church. Her eyes danced over the crowd hoping her aunt and uncle would be there. One woman seemed familiar but otherwise she didn't know anyone in the group. They seemed to be mostly women, children, and older people. She didn't like the uneasy glances, and how they hung back. The kids seemed to cower behind the adults as if they would be attacked or beaten. But what stick out the most was there were no minorities, no one was black or Hispanic or even multiracial. Mike's hostility suddenly clicked.
She turned her attention back to the guys in time to hear. “You folks look pretty beat. Why don't you come in and get some thing to eat, take a break. You could let us know whats going on outside our little town.”
Lyric's stomach tightened, at the greedy look Mike gave their ride, guns and her from his new position next to her window. She shifted forward, “Guys, the Captain told us to cover as much ground as possible.” Marcus' pinched expression asked her what the hell she was doing, but she pushed on. “Mark the map and let's get back on the road.”
The Rev's face showed his dislike of the idea that they were leaving, but he smiled. Mike's face was a thundercloud, as he looked to the Rev. Ira shrugged, “you heard the Lady, we gotta follow orders.”
“Of course. Perhaps on your way back. Mike will radio ahead so someone can open the gate for you.”
“Yeah maybe. Thanks.”
Mike un-holsterer the walkie-talkie on his belt and spoke into it as he and the Rev walked away heads together.
“Be on alert you two.” Lyric muttered as Ira threw the Jeep into drive.
“So you going to let us in on why we couldn't stay here.”
“Do you two not know how to read people?” The exchanged a glance and shrugged. Had all her years reading judges given her some sort of insight on how to read faces or body language better than trained soldiers? Shaking her head she sighed. She stared out the window realizing how this town had remained safe. On one side was a lake the other thick forest. Where the road opened they had erected fences with vehicles, chain wire, barbed wire, plywood, or whatever they could find.
“Mike was plotting your deaths, so he could take the Jeep and everything in it. Get me? We go into that church, you two would be feeding the fish in that lake and I'd be someones forced bride.” Marcus twisted in his seat, to look at her. “I think you might be over exaggerating just a teeny bit, Darling.”
Reaching out she took his hand. Maybe all her father's “stranger danger” lectures had her on high alert. Or maybe she was right. Lyric nodded toward the windshield as Ira slowed “Um, you think?”
Marcus let go of her hand and turned forward. Half a dozen men clad in camo leaned up against several pick-up trucks, all were armed with hunting implements. The men where parked between them and a large wooden gate.
One of the men strode forward, carrying a bullhorn. “Alright boys, the Rev said to do this the nice way so let the girl out of the vehicle and we'll let you go on about your business.”
Lyric bristled at being called a girl and anger bloomed at the condescending tone the guy used. Ira glanced back at her. “Buckle up.”
He tossed the Jeep into four wheel drive, then reverse backing up several feet. Ahead of them the men ducked behind their trucks guns pointing at them. Stopping Ira put the vehicle into drive and floored it, yanking the wheel to the right by passing all the trucks and the gate going straight through a plywood section of the fence. Bullets pinged off the metal, but none pierced the cab. One hit cracking the back window as they fishtailed in some mud. Gaining traction, the vehicle bolted forward onto the road and away from the nut jobs with guns.
Lyric didn't start breathing again until they were out of site of the fence and several miles down the road. Once sure they weren't being followed Ira let up on the gas and they slowed to a more reasonable speed.
“Dumb asses!” Ira muttered, glancing in the rear view mirror. He shot Lyric a grin, “They should've realized this baby was bulletproof and made for smashing shit. It's Military issue for God's sake.”
A shaky laugh slipped out of Lyric's mouth.
Marcus looked back at her, concern in his dark eyes. “You ok?” His gaze swept to the cracked window then back to her.
“Yeah, I'm just wishing my training had been more about dodging bullets and less pretty feet.”
Ira snickered, then broke into full out laughing. Marcus chucked, but still looked worried.
Author's Note: Unedited Version