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The road stretched out before them, cutting through a seemingly endless progression of uninspiring dark lumps of scenery capped by a marginally more inspiring moonlit sky.

The hapless RV clattered on, its battered body beset by creaks and rattles that were threatening to drive its three harried occupants to distraction. It had been over an hour since they had stopped to drop off the body of their mysterious assailant.

Winterhawk sat back and ran his hand through his hair for at least the twentieth time. His fatigue, which had formerly manifested itself only in occasional bouts of sleepiness that were easily remedied by hot coffee, lowered windows, and loud music, was now beginning to insinuate itself into his bones. The RV's seat was uncomfortable, and his eyes were tired of scanning the road ahead for obstacles, threats, and the direction of the unending white line. He had long since taken off his jacket and tie and tossed them over the back of the seat, hoping that the cold air would keep him awake. So far it was working, but he wasn't sure how much longer that would be true.

Ocelot lounged in his shotgun seat, refusing to surrender to his own sleepiness. Truth be told, he was keeping an eye on Winterhawk, ready to leap over at superhuman speed and grab the steering wheel should `Hawk drop off unexpectedly. He had almost suggested that this might be a good time for a driving lesson, but then he remembered their previous running battle. The mage might not be skilled as a combat driver, but at least if they got into a scrape like that again, he wouldn't have to waste valuable thought cycles on remembering which pedal was the gas and which one was the brake. This was also the reason why they had chosen, reluctantly, not to rely on the autopilot. They hadn't even tested it yet to see if it had been damaged by a stray bullet.

Hildebrandt remained in his spot on the bench seat, leaning on his elbows and staring out into the night sky. If he had any thoughts about the situation, he wasn't sharing them. During the hour or so that they had been driving, he had counted twelve vehicles, most of them heading in the opposite direction, all but two of them large tractor-trailer rigs. This area was obviously not a favorite for the late-night cruising crowd.

"We'll be needing to stop soon," Winterhawk said reluctantly.

"Gettin' too tired to drive?" Ocelot straightened in his seat, stretching like a cat.

He nodded. "P'raps something to eat and the chance to walk around a bit might take care of it," he said. "Unless you've got some pharmaceutical stimulants you're not sharing."

"Sorry," Ocelot said. "Fresh out. Where the hell are we, anyway?"

Winterhawk consulted the nav computer's map as Hildebrandt leaned forward to look. "Getting close to a junction with what looks to be not much of a road."

"We haven't passed too many gas stations in awhile," Ocelot said. "Maybe there's one there. With any luck, maybe there's even a restaurant or something."

"Anything's got to be an improvement over the ghastly stuff in the refrigerator," Winterhawk said, resuming his driving with a bit of renewed vigor.

Five minutes later, the lights of some sort of habitation became apparent in the distance. "Must be something," Ocelot said. "Unless people around here do their houses in yellow and red neon."

"P'raps the cows find it stimulating," Winterhawk said sourly.

"What if they're waiting for us there?" Hildebrandt spoke up.

Ocelot turned to stare at him, then blew a blast of air through clenched teeth in a frustrated sigh. "Doc's got a point," he said to Winterhawk. "This is the first real stopping point we've seen in miles. Might make sense to think we'd stop."

Winterhawk nodded. "All right, then. Let's see if this autopilot works, and I'll check it out. Don't really know what I'm looking for, though. Keep your fingers crossed--"

He hit the autopilot button. The RV shuddered, then dropped into a slightly slower but steady rhythm. Experimentally, the mage took his hands off the steering wheel; the vehicle continued to track the road. "Doctor," he said, standing, "Please take the wheel for a moment. Won't do to have me spaced out if anything bothers us." He traded places with Hildebrandt, dropping down on the bench seat.

In only a couple of minutes, he was back. "Nothing threatening," he said. "There aren't many people there at this time of night, and certainly no group like the ones who ambushed us. Still, though, best if we keep our wits about us."

"I wish we had armor for the Doc here," Ocelot said, though he knew there was nothing that could be done about it. Hildebrandt was true to his metatype: tall, broad, and barrel-chested. There was no way he could fit into even well-muscled Ocelot's longcoat, let alone slim Winterhawk's. And even if he could wear one of their helmets, there weren't too many things more conspicuous than an ork in a Hawaiian shirt walking into a restaurant in a helmet at one in the morning. "Just keep your eyes open," he continued, "And let's try to make this fast."

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