I discussed my worries with Foster during the flight and he suggested splitting up into teams. I wasn't too sure about the idea but after I'd thought some more about it I finally realised that we didn't really have another option. Dani had already said she wanted to go after Kirsten and I respected her choice, Kirsten was so young. She deserved a chance.
"I'll take Jagan." I said slowly and Foster looked at me, slightly surprised. "You're not going to end up having to bury him somewhere Crow?"
I grimaced and shook my head. "No, I just think it would be better if him and Beth were apart from each other on this mission, they're getting too close, too in deep. It's dangerous. On top of that you know how angry Beth can get, I don't think she'll let me get away with attacking him without a few words. That's why I don't really want to pair off with her.
"Jagan it is then." he said quietly. "Which one do you want to go after?" I shrugged and steered the jet in between clouds. "I'll go find the president." I decided. "I'll drop you guys at the set down and then take this baby into different territory and hide her before I start tracking." I paused and thought about Jagan being with me, much as I hated the idea I realised I'd better get to know the guy that my little sister was mooning over. "We'll start tracking...."
I brought the jet in to land and Foster informed everyone of the plan. Beth didn't look too happy about me being left with Jagan while he just looked plain surprised. Foster, Beth and Dani hopped out of the jet with their backpacks and Foster gave me a small salute as they ran towards the buildings nearby. I took to the skies again as Jagan slipped into the seat next to me and settled down in silence. We flew like that for a bit and then I started to speak.
"Beth is a good girl." I said firmly. "Don't hurt her."
"I won't hurt..." he started but I cut in.
"Don't let her get hurt either. If I'm not around...look after her."
"What do you mean? You're not planning on leaving are you Crow?"
"No... I just think sometimes that nobody can be as lucky as I've been when it comes down to things like surviving in the war zone."
Jagan shifted uncomfortably and I can't say I blamed him. It's strange to hear a man speak of his own impending death. I didn't plan on dying anytime soon, but I knew that if I did, I wanted to make sure Beth was looked after.
"Do you love my sister?" I turned from the controls and stared him in the face.
"Eh..yeah...I... I think I...well I've only.." he stammered in surprise and I turned away from him and flipped a few switches.
"There can be no 'I think' in happiness Jagan, and you make her happy, I can see it in her eyes. There can be no 'I think'. Remember that, and I'll ask you the same question again sometime."
We flew on in silence until I slowly began to bring the plane down to land on a secluded runway of an abandoned military base.
Then suddenly my communicator beeped and Foster's voice crackled over it. "Crow it was a decoy tip, they're both in the same place, someone on the inside is feeding false info. Get back here quickly, we're not strong enough to infiltrate when we're split up, it was a mistake. A bad mistake. Crow? Crow?"
Everything seemed slow motion then as the jet lurched under the impact of heavy fire and went spinning out of control. I righted it up as best I could and then reached under my chair and threw Jagan a backpack. "Grab your bag." I yelled at him as he fumbled with his belt. He somehow got it undone and pulled his gear bag onto his front and my pack on his back. "Come on Crow." he shouted, trying to keep his balance as I swung the plane around. He sat back down in the chair and clung on. "Go Jagan!" I roared at him.
"But what about you?"
"No I'm not leaving you here." he shouted stubbornly.
I looked into his eyes and saw the same raw determination there that I'd seen before in Beth, in myself.....
"I'm sorry." I said sadly. "Tell Beth I love her." and I triggered the co-pilot ejector seat.
The plane spun towards the ground and I had to crash land. As soon as the jet hit the ground the dirt came up and my head smacked into the controls and my head spun.
I kinda wished I'd died so that I couldn't be used as bait. My mind flashed back to Jagan's face as soon as he realised what I was about to do. He was willing to go down with me just so I wouldn't be alone. I was proud Beth had someone like him. He would look after her. What was it I'd said?
Tell Beth I love her.... yeah... that was it... I love you lil sis...
I was dimly aware of switching on a locator before the darkness enveloped me.