The only downside to using apertures to move through space and time is that it’s safer to know exactly where you’re going, and there  are  limits  to  what  you  can  carry.  Since  the  Muse  of Mischief and Agent Brzko didn’t know exactly where Scorchbrooke, Oregon was, and they wanted to take enough gear to be ready for anything, they decided to travel by Jeep. And let’s face it a little off road driving in a couple of Jeep Wranglers is fun. M always enjoyed a good 4×4 trip through the remote areas of Oregon.

Zri was on earcom link and monitoring their positions from orbit. Should he hear or observe anything of a threatening nature he, and his team, would arrive at M or Brzko’s location almost instantly.

The Gaznzulian earcom links they wore came in handy whenever they were on a mission and needed to separate. M especially liked the emergency beacon feature. Just like the panic alarm at their house, the emergency beacon would summon Zri and his Gaznzulian security team. And since they always had a few undetectable ships in Earth’s orbit, they would arrive within seconds.

Hardman was less than a day from their home in Lincoln City. They arrived in the ghost town early in the morning and just kept going. When they arrived at Anson Wright Park south of Hardman, there was still a chilly morning fog. With their Jeeps parked far from the few campers that were there, they got out to stretch and check the maps.

Taking a deep breath and then exhaling M declared “I just love the smell of these huge pine trees.”

“I know, I think the fog makes them smell even better.” Brzko took out his tablet, unfolded it, and called up the map of their current location. “Where do you want to start?”

M leaned against the hood of her Jeep facing out toward the forest, seeming to absorb the beauty. “Well I’ve been thinking about that. The lore of the 1880”s put Scorchbrooke here, at this rocky outcropping. But there are no roads close to that. So I’ll approach from the North and park here at the end of Forest Road 033  and you  can approach from the South and park here on Forest Road 146. Then if we use the drones to survey the area, we should be able to spot something. Once we get a visual, we can jump to that location and search on foot.”

“OK, but I’m not crazy about the idea of splitting up. But I know what you’re going to say…. We can cover more ground, and Zri is basically traveling with us.” Brzko said.

Zri tried to reassure Brzko, “We’re standing by Agent Brzko, and we can be there at a moment’s notice.”

“Thank you Zri. He turned back to M, “It looks like I have a little further to go but both roads look a little rough, so be careful M.”

“You too Brzko stay in touch.”

With a plan in place they left the campground, Brzko in the lead as they headed down Sunflower Flat Road. At the first intersection M headed north on Board Creek Road and Brzko headed south on Forest Road 022, until it intersected with Tupper Road.

As M hit Forest Road 033 it got rough. It was more like a trail than a road. Luckily she didn’t run into anything the Jeep couldn’t handle. There were a few washouts that left her boulder hopping on three tires, and the skid plates did their job a few times, but she was comfortable with all of that. It was a Jeep after all.

Brzko had farther to go but since he didn’t encounter any washouts they arrived at their destinations at about the same time. “Hey M are you parked yet?”

“Sure am, I’m running preflight checks right now. How about you?”

“B-Drone is already in the air, I win!”

“Yes, you win Brzko. OK M-Drone is up. Here we go. This forest is just amazing, the trees are thick but I love these open areas.”

Brzko  and  M  began  a  typical  search  patterns.  Both running east to west, back and forth, moving out and toward each other. Their drones were not typical Earth drones. They looked like Yuneec H520  six-rotor drones but  they’d  been enhanced with Gaznzulian technology. They could sustain a flight time of about 20 Earth hours and the camera was controlled with eye movements behind a pair of glasses. They used a control panel that looked like a normal Yuneec control panel but it had also been enhanced.

“M how close are you to 45.093206 by 119.451589? I found the rocky outcropping and I just saw someone with white hair moving in the rocks.”

“I just got there, I missed the white hair but I see the rocks.”

“OK, we know where we’re going then. Let’s pack it up and jump to the clearing just west of the rocks.”

“Got it, I’ll meet you there.”

They  packed  up  their  drones  and  locked  them  in  the Jeeps. They wouldn’t need them now, because the remainder of the search was going to be on foot.

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