Three hours. They had been in that helicopter for three God damn hours and they were still in the air. Needless to say, Bolt was not happy.
"Hey Bee, holding up alright?" Jay asked with a smirk, nudging Bolt in the side.
"Shuddup," Bolt muttered. He was gripping his harness so tightly his knuckles were turning white, and he was doing his best not to just curl up in a little ball.
"Ya' know, you're the only one here wearing one of them seatbelt things," Canteen teased.
"It's called a harness," Bolt snapped.
"Aw, guys, don't tease him," Domino said. "He can't help it that he's a total wimp."
Okay, that was it. Bolt had had enough. "I swear, as soon as we get on the ground I'm gonna—"
"Hey guys, we're here," Hawk called from the cockpit, interrupting Bolt's threat.
"Oh thank God," Bolt murmured under his breath. Finally this nightmare would be over.
And then he heard it. A grinding noise that one does not want to hear in any kind of vehicle, especially not in one that's hundreds of feet in the air.
"W-what was that?" Bolt said, his voice coming out in a much higher pitch than he would have liked.
"I bet we hit a bird," Domino said.
"Yeah, a bird," Jay added. "And now it's mucked up the engine and we're gonna crash and die. But don't worry Bee, hitting the ground will probably kill you before the horrible fiery explosion can."
"You guys are assholes," Bolt said with a bit of a whimper.
"Alright, I'm bringing her down," Hawk called out. She then guided the chopper down as gently as she could, figuring that Bolt was being tortured enough as it was.
"You alright there soldier? Yer' lookin' a li'l green," Canteen said with a small smirk.
"Yeah, he's right man," Jay said. "Seriously, you're not going to get sick are you?"
"Oh he'll be fine," Domino said. "Just as long as he doesn't think about the fact that we're hundreds of feet in the air and could crash at any moment, or how much the turbulence upsets his stomach, or—"
"Just shut up," Bolt said with a bit of a whine, trying his best to keep from getting sick. "I seriously hate you guys so much right now, I hope a bear eats you or something."
Jay chuckled and relaxed in his seat. "Oh you're just saying that because you don't feel good," he said in a mocking tone.
Bolt just whimpered and kept a good grip on his harness, squeezing his eyes shut tight. He listened as he felt the helicopter touch down on the ground and heard the blades slowly stop spinning. Just a few more seconds…
"Alright," Hawk said, taking off her headset. "You guys can get off now."
Jay, Canteen, and Domino all stood up and made their way to the door, but were all shoved aside as Bolt ripped off his harness and dived out onto the ground.
"I'm never flying ever again," he said with a bit of a whimper, rolling over onto his back. He had scraped one of his elbows and smeared dirt on his shirt and his cheek, but he was so happy to be on the ground that he didn't even care.
"You'll have to fly again to get back home," Domino pointed out.
Bolt closed his eyes and let himself relax. God the grass felt so good. "Fuck it, I'll walk," he mumbled. However, his little happy moment didn't last long. It ended with someone landing a hard kick on his side.
"Ow! What the hell?!" Bolt cried, clutching his side and rolling over.
"Come on," Hawk said with a smirk, placing her foot on the ground and crossing her arms. "Get up, we have work to do."
Bolt stood up and brushed himself off, muttering under his breath. If they kept treating him like this, he saw exploding paintballs in their near future.
"So this is Yellowstone," Jay said, looking around. "Pretty impressive, even with the burnt up parts."
"Are you saying you've never been here before?" Domino asked.
"Nope, first time," Jay said. "Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever been to Wyoming period."
"Dude, two words," Bolt said, holding up two fingers. "Hot. Springs. Seriously. They're amazing. Especially what it's snowing."
"I'll just take your word for it buddy," Jay said with a light chuckle. After a moment he made a face and wrinkled his nose. "Ugh, what's that smell?"
"The geysers of course," Domino said with a grin. "Don't they small awesome?"
"You're a freak," Jay said, shaking his head.
"You're just now realizing that?" Domino asked, giving Jay a questioning look. Seriously, the hair and fashion sense and love of poisoning people didn't tip you off at all? Because if not that's kind of sad."
"Boys, we're here for a mission, not arguing or sightseeing," Hawk said. "Now, we just need to find it…"
"It?" Bolt asked. "What do you mean 'it'? Aren't we here to take someone out?"
"Nope, we're here to pick something up," Domino said. "Something crashed I think. I can't remember."
"Of course, you'd know this if you wouldn't have slept through the meeting," Hawk said with a bit of a glare.
"So, let me get this straight," Bolt said, sounding more than mildly irritated. "Striker ruined my night to drag me out here, shoved all of us in that machine from hell," he paused to gesture to the helicopter, "and sent all five of us to Wyoming to play mailman? I don't think so. I'm going home."
"This ain't a game soldier," Canteen said. "None of us here know what's so gosh darn important, but we figure that it's gotta be big fer all of us t'be here. And I reckon that if we have t'stay, then you do too."
"Fine, I'll see what we have to get," Bolt sighed. "Do we at least know where it is?"
Hawk nodded and pointed to their left. "About a mile that way."
"And do we know how big it is?" Bolt asked.
"No idea," Hawk said, not looking too happy with this fact. "But Striker said we can't possibly miss it."
"Oh goody, more surprises," Bolt said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Five bucks says it's a UFO," Jay said with a grin as the others started walking.
"I say it's going to be zombies," Domino piped up, trailing behind the group as they moved through the trees.
"My money's on a poisonous rock or something," Bolt said, sticking his hands in his pockets.
"That's stupid, rocks can't be poisonous," Jay said.
"First of all, yes they can," Bolt said. "Look it up. Second, yes, because UFOs are so much more realistic."
"UFOs are totally real!" Jay protested. "You can't deny it! Not after what happened in Dallas!"
"My money is still on zombies," Domino said.
"You just want zombies so you can have a pet that eats brains," Bolt said.
"And what's wrong with that?" Domino asked. "You can't deny that it would be awesome! Besides, I wouldn't be worried if I were you. I'm more than positive that brain eating zombies would have no interest in you two."
There was a moment of silence while both Bolt and Jay thought about this. After a while, they both gave Domino a blank look ad spoke in unison. "I don't get it."
"My point exactly," Domino snickered.
"He's sayin' you two ain't got no brains fer the zombies ta' eat," Canteen clarified.
"Hey!" Bolt said, sounding offended.
"We do too!" Jay added, equally offended.
"If you did you would've gotten the joke," Domino chuckled.
"Hey, if you guys are done fighting, you might want to come and see this," Hawk called, waving them over to her. While they were talking she had gotten a good fifty feet ahead of them.
All three raced over and peeked through the tree limbs. On the other side was a huge crater, about a hundred feet across. There in the center, instead of a UFO, zombie, or poisonous rock, was absolutely nothing.
"So, Striker wanted us to find a big hole?" Bolt said. "Great. Found it. Can we go home now?"
"I'm going to get a closer look," Hawk said, sliding down into the crater.
"Watch out, it might be radioactive from the aliens!" Jay called.
Hawk rolled her eyes and walked towards the center. Even though there was nothing there, she was pretty sure that something was supposed to be there. And that's when she saw them. The very light imprint of tracks. No, wait, not tracks, footprints. And from the looks of it, the footprints of a child with no shoes. Odd…
"Hey, Hawk, find anything?" Bolt called from the edge of the crater, breaking her concentration.
"Yeah, I think there was a kid here," Hawk called back, waving the four of them over.
Bolt, Canteen, Jay and Domino slid down into the crater and walked over to her. One by one they inspected the ground themselves, but saw absolutely nothing.
"How can you tell a kid was here?" Jay asked, furrowing his brow.
"There's a footprint right here," Hawk said, tracing the barely visible outline with the tip of her finger.
"All I see is a bunch'a dirt," Canteen said, squinting at the ground. "Must be them eyes'a yers."
"He's right, you have always been able to see things that we can't," Jay said.
"Well, whether you see them or not, there's footprints over here," Hawk said. "A kid's footprints, and they weren't wearing any shoes." She inspected the footprint a bit closer before adding, "They probably don't weigh very much, they're pretty small…"
"Any idea where they went?" Bolt asked, crouching down next to her.
Hawk nodded. "Yeah, up there," She said, pointing up ahead of them. "See the scuff marks? Whoever it was was running and fell a few times. Like they were desperate to get out, and not paying attention to where they were going."
"Think something scared them?" Bolt asked.
Hawk nodded again. "I'm sure of it."
"Alright then," Bolt said, standing up. He then pointed in the direction the footprints lead them. "Hey guys, we're going that'a'way. We're looking for this kid, they probably took whatever we're looking for, but we don't know what scared it so keeping your weapons ready is probably a good idea."
Jay nodded and pulled a set of twin pistols from two holsters on either side of his hips. Canteen and Domino each grabbed their own pistols, although it was obvious that those weren't their weapons of choice. Bolt brought out a long hunting knife with a smooth edge near the tip and a serrated edge closer down to the hilt. Hawk slipped on a pair of fighting gloves.
"Everyone ready?" Bolt asked. Everyone nodded, eyes locked on Bolt. As soon as he wrapped around the hilt of that knife, it was like he was a completely different person. Instead of the goofy, flirty moron who loved pranks and hated heights, he was the focused assassin that you didn't want to piss off under any circumstances. There was a reason why Bolt never failed a mission.
"Alright then, let's go," he said, starting off towards the direction Hawk had pointed in. Then he stopped, looked back at Hawk, and gestured in front of him. "You can see the trail, you should lead the way."
Hawk nodded and lead the team up the side of the crater and into the woods. Although the others couldn't see it, she saw the trail perfectly. Broken twigs, snapped branches, trampled grass, fallen leaves and pine needles, all laying out in a perfect little map for her to follow. Although, oddly enough, there was no snagged hair, no clothing fibers, or anything like that. Strange… Even stranger was when the trail just stopped. Hawk stopped walking and looked around, confused. Where was the rest of the trail? It couldn't just stop. Maybe the child was hiding somewhere nearby?
"What is it?" Bolt asked. "Why'd you stop?"
"The trail's gone," Hawk said. "Ii just stops right here."
"Maybe you missed something?" Jay suggested. Everyone gave him a look that said "Are you insane?!". "What? It could happen!"
"No, I don't think I did," Hawk said, looking back at the trail. "Something isn't right guys, I have a really bad feeling about this…"
As soon as she had finished talking, something rustled in the bushes next to them. Bolt turned and gripped his knife. He glanced back at the team and made a widening motion with his hand, signaling that he was going to move the branches and for them to be ready when he did. The team, used to this silent communication, all nodded their heads and stood alert, ready for whatever it was that was going to be uncovered.
Bolt turned back to the bush and slowly pushed a branch aside, knife at the ready. Jay's fingers shifted anxiously against his twin pistols, eyes locked on the bush and muscles tensed. Canteen and Domino stood absolutely motionless with their hands gripping their own pistols, and Hawn took a steady fighting stance, fists up and ready. But when Bolt revealed what was in the bush, none of them were prepared for what they found. For a moment they all stood in silence, shocked. Jay was the first one to snap out of it and say something.
"You have got to be kidding me."