Copyright 2014, 2015 James J. Caterino All Rights Reserved
Chapter 21 - Crossing the Continent
Caitlin felt energized and alive.
It was as if the trees and the sounds and all of the life teeming around in every direction was infusing her with new purpose. She was in her element because deep in the equatorial rain forest of Africa, she felt like she was a part of something larger than herself. She had often felt the same spiritual energy back in the great mountain forests of Yellowstone, but here and now that feeling was more intense than ever.
Intense because Caitlin knew that all of this—every creature, every tree, every drop of water—was in grave danger unless she could win in her battle to save it. She had to win. She would win—just as she had in Yellowstone.
She found a forest elephant trail—and a fresh trail at that—and took advantage. The trail ran parallel to the river so she stayed on the course Azrael had instructed. Every kilometer or so she stopped and ascended to the heights of tree tops to get a full view of the river valley all around her.
She thought about Azrael and Naza and began to worry they may have come across trouble in the form of Zahn’s men or even the White Hand. Swanson was supposed be in Uganda by now teaming up with Mustafa’s storm troopers as they prepared to invade Virunga. But the White Hand network was extensive and there could me militia men out here. Bottom line, the sooner she hooked back up with Azrael and Naza, the better she would feel.
On her third look-out climb Caitlin spotted something on the trail up ahead. No, not something, someone. Could it be Azrael and Naza?
No, there were too many of them. It was a group and they had lots of equipment and—fuck me, she cursed to herself. They were poachers. Hunters. Here to murder for fun and were right on the trail of a family of forest elephants.
No way! Not a chance! Not on my watch you cowardice piece of shits!
Caitlin felt her blood boil with primal rage as she snapped up the rope cord, whipped it out to loop onto a tree branch up ahead, and swung into hot action.
Ahead and down at ten o’clock Caitlin spotted a human figure in safari gear crouched down on the shoulder of the trail. It was a woman and cocked on her shoulder was a high-powered AR-15 rifle with a scope. The would-be murdering woman was waiting for the family of elephants to round the corner of the trail so she could slaughter them and show her buddies at the gun club back home how tough she was to her fellow butchers.
Caitlin landed on the branch, recoiled the rope-cord and whipped it out to latch onto the next tree. She placed her bare feet on the core of the branch, squatted down, the pushed off hard, thrusting her form airborne.
She reached the apex of the swing, reached back and grabbed her fight stick. As she descended down to the a lower branch on the next tree—Caitlin used her powerful, deadly accurate left arm and whipped the fight stick down at the woman just as the poacher prepared to senselessly destroy innocent, intelligent life.
The fight stick sizzled across the air javelin style, like a rocketed projectile.
The poacher woman took aim at the female elephant guiding her baby along the trail. Just as she was about to squeeze the trigger—the sound of flesh and cartilage being ripped as Caitlin’s projectile fight stick pierced the poacher's right shoulder—tearing it open as the would-be murderer dropped the weapon and screamed out.
Two male poachers and their guide jumped out in front of the elephants, their rifles raised and cocked.
The family of elephants stopped, became spooked, and frantically charged about looking for an escape route. And Caitlin was happy to oblige.
She recoiled the rope cord back to her, the snapped it out, lassoing the two hunters. Before the two butchers knew what hit them, Caitlin yanked hard on the rope-cord, sending her two captured enemies reeling hard into the dirt. Then Caitlin turned and sprinted, dragging the cowards off of the trail and into a thorny patch of brush. She secured the other end of the rope-cord around a tree trunk, hog tying them while she dealt with the guide. The woman stayed put on the ground holding her shoulder.
“Doesn’t feel too good when you are the one being hunted, does it?” Caitlin said to her before moving toward the guide.
The guide had his rifle pointed at Caitlin.
“Inglais?” Caitlin asked.
The guide nodded yes.
“Shame on you,” Caitlin said. “You can make more money showing off the beauty of this land and its creatures. You should be doing that—not killing them.”
“And now I will kill you,” the guide said.
“Oh yeah?” Caitlin asked. “I don’t think so tough guy. Do you know who I am?”
The guide nodded no.
“I am Caitlin Star of the Bull Mongoni,” she said. “The Bantu forest people call me Nashee Ah. I saved the wolves of North America from people like these murderers—and people like you. And now I am here to save the creatures of this great forest.”
“I am not impressed,” the guide snapped. “Because I have the gun. And you are just a girl.”
Caitlin almost laughed out loud.
“Buddy, you have no idea what I am capable of,” she said. “Now, put the rifle down on the ground. Step back and walk away. Then leave this place and do not ever come back. If you do that, I will let you live.”
The guide did not move.
“I will not ask again,” Caitlin said.
She zoomed in her focus on him and could sense his tension on the trigger, his eyes narrowing. He was about to fire on her.
In a blur of a motion, far too quick for the naked eye to see, Caitlin snatched a bayonet from her utility belt and with a snap of her left wrist, sent it whizzing straight into the skull of the guide. As the blade impaled his brain, a sweet spurting of crimson erupted, spraying out into the air. It made for a perfect impression for the three poachers who watched on in shock.
“Anybody else want to try me on for size?” Caitlin asked as she walked about collecting all their rifles.
“Now, as you just saw, I don’t like to repeat myself, so listen up,” Caitlin said. “You heard what I said to that stupid dead fuck over there. And if you or anyone else with a gun ever sets foot in this forest again, I will do far worse than put a blade in your skull and kill you quickly.”
Caitlin took out her cutlass and paced about. She was still raging. Still feeling the primal savage desire to make these murderers pay. But sometimes leaving survivors can be an even stronger deterrent than corpses.
“Go back the way you came,” Caitlin roared. “Now! Get the fuck out of here and don’t you dare ever, ever, ever comeback. I am Caitlin Star of the Bull Mongoni. Tell all your murdering pals that the jungles of Africa are now mine.”
Caitlin Star did have to repeat herself.