It soon became apparent that masking the trail had thrown the gendarmes off the scent. For the first couple of days of the great trek south, choppers could be seen flying overhead from time to time, both during the day and night. However, as the days wore on, the choppers were seen less and less until, by the fourth day out, there was no further sightings of them.
By this time, the trails that led through the forest have died out. Closer to Brownport, there were roads into the forest for logging trucks to get access to the lumber, which is one of the other main activities in the area. But 120km out from the city, the commercial logging died out and the party members find themselves riding through pristine, virgin forest that had seen few other visitors since Pavabid was first settled.
As they continue onwards though, the threat from being spotted by the gendarmes is replaced by a different danger … wahroos.
Although the wahroos proved that the like to nibble on Jie and Arvor given a chance, this is nothing compared to their love of horseflesh.
As the party rode through the night, they found themselves constantly being harried by packs of wahroos. Wild wahroos prove to be a lot less brave than the trained and domesticated versions as a few shots fired at them manage to frighten them away – for a while at least, although they continue to follow the mounted party from a short distance until they pluck up enough courage for another attack, at which point the cycle repeats through until dawn.
The party aren’t lucky every time though and they lose a horse per night for a couple of nights. Realizing that there should be no more danger from the gendarmerie now they are so far from Brownsport, the party members change tactics, now travelling by day and sleeping by night so that they are able to corral the horses and keep the wahroos at bay with fire and a protective cordon.
In such a way they manage to keep the wahroos from taking any more of the horses, but ammo is getting lower and lower and isn’t going to last the whole journey unless they use it very sparingly.
The quad bike runs out of diesel half way through the journey. Although they manage to protect the remaining horses from the wahroos, throughout the journey, two of the horses go lame through the constant long walking through the difficult terrain so that Will and Max are forced to ride along with Jie and Taeva respectively.
During the second half of the journey, the weather deteriorates and the party members are forced to continue through constant sleet for several days, which turns the ground slippery beneath them.
And so it is with great relief that Grim checks the map as the party takes a break.
“We need to make a decision now,” he says. “If we travel two more days south-east, then we will get to Southport. If we travel five days south-west, then we’ll get to the starport.”
They check their ammo. They’ve used up all the ammo for the Uzi, shotgun and autopistol and everyone has just 10 bullets left for the autorifles, plus the seven grenades which they took. Although the rations that they took from the farm was used up a long time ago, there is an abundant supply of game in the pristine forest and so they have been dining on venison every night for the last week.
The party members discuss the situation for a short while, but all quickly decide that it will be better to head straight for the starport rather than to give themselves another problem in how to sneak onboard the train and remain hidden for the journey. Taeva leads the group to the south west as they continue on with their long trek.