"Joy to the world, all the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, joy to you and me..."
Half an hour later, as Andrew moved to the fourth stage of his grid search, he fell suddenly silent when he heard a twig snap behind him. For a moment he stood frozen, concentrating hard, wishing for Jaden and his near bionic hearing. The only sound that greeted him was the whispering of the prairie grass in the wind. Andrew had dismissed the sound to his imagination and started forward again before it hit him: just the wind? What happened to the cricket song?
He spun around, searching the tall grasses behind him for movement, but all he could see was the waving of the dry stems. For a moment the wind stilled and in the distance he could hear oblivious birds singing. Again he whirled when he thought there was a rustle to his left, but he found nothing there either. He stood with his feet set wide, pulling his dagger with one hand and fishing with the other for his radio. He felt him legs and back tensing as the silence around him seemed to deepen.
With a sigh and a shrug Takyle pocketed her radio and, judging from the position of the sun, struck out in a Southwesterly direction. She walked briskly, pushing her fatigue, her throbbing cuts and bruises, and the deep ache in her limbs to the back her mind, forcing herself to not slow down.
"Why are you so devoted to winning this?" Andrew had asked her two long years ago.
"I want to. I have to."
"You know there's a very good chance we'll lose?"
"If that's the attitude you're going to bring into this I'll find someone else," she had informed him coldly.
"Why am I so devoted to winning this?" Takyle asked herself, trekking up yet another rolling hill.
"Ask yourself that when the race is over," she murmured harshly. ~