York ghosted across the sand. There was a low rise ahead. It wouldn't offer a much better vantage point than the one he had now, but anything was an improvement. He stopped before reaching the top and flattened his body out. Exposing as little of himself as he could, he peered over it. No one was immediately visible. The truck was a good half a click ahead and for once luck was with them He could stand and break into a jog before needing to take cover again.
Ears attuned for any non-natural sound, he threw himself down when he heard something he didn't recognize. It wasn't until he was down, when he thought it might have been the click of a magazine sliding into place. That seemed odd, since there was no one close enough for that sound to be audible. Through his goggles, he did a three hundred-sixty degree scan. Nothing. The distant noise of the diesel engine still grumbled ahead of him. Your ears could play weird tricks on you, in times like this. Not wanting to risk making himself a target, he continued ahead at a crawl.
There is was again. It wasn't a magazine going home, but it was mechanical. He couldn't tell where the origin of the sound was. Between the big truck's noise and the wind, he was lucky to have even heard whatever it was. It did seem like he was closer to it. Instinct told him to hold, so he did.
His instincts paid off. In the distance, he saw something move. It was small and hard to see even with his night vision. The scorpion, even though clearly mechanical it's design inspiration was clear, was large enough that it would barely fit into his palm. The mechanical sound happened when it clacked its claws together every few feet. That meant something more than a threat display. What it was, he couldn't tell.
He scrabbled back, away from the little horror. His movements were as careful and slow as he could make them. He suspected if this was a weird drone of some kind that he'd know if it detected him. Shooting the thing wasn't on the table. He could hit it, without a problem, but the resulting noise would have the same effect as being spotted. He needed to get back to the car and tell Boner about this. After a handful of minutes, he made it to the top of the little rise.
The scorpion no longer appeared to be following him. It turned and went back towards its home base.
No that he knew what to look for, he scanned the rest of the area in that direction, taking his time. There were a dozen of the scorpion-bots if he wasn't just seeing things. They covered the area in a grid pattern, Maybe this was what had detected the CIA agents? if he had a hoard of these things running around the camp's perimeter, there would be no sneaking up on him. Any interloper might assume they were normal scorpions, if they were even seen. A cloud of questions ran around in his mind. He'd never seen anything quite like them before. How were they powered? What was their effective range? Did they have any offensive capability? None of those questions would be satisfied today.
He wanted to take one, but if they were drones then they'd be missed. He watched for a few minutes as they continued to repeat the grid. They showed no signs of returning home completely. With a nod, he returned as invisibly as he could to the car. He didn't know nearly enough about this Djinn or what he could do. Now, at least, he knew the man had access to some very interesting technology. All of this would go into the report he was about to file.
While he ran, he wondered if they'd be pulled off this mission.He didn't think so, since they were in an invaluable situation. His officers had made bad calls before, though. Disobeying an order to pull back would be met with some harsh punishment and nobody wanted that. As he came in sight of where the care should be, he prayed that wouldn't be the case. When he got to the precise spot where Boner should be, there was nothing but emptiness.
"Shit. Boner, what have you done?"
Read part thirteen - https://www.patreon.com/posts/matt-archangel-5489705