Disclaimer: There isn't any LOTR stuff in my fic yet, but anything you recognize later on is not mine.

Chapter 1: Lost and Found

The sound of bullets, fighter planes and helicopters roared in Fara's ears as she crept through the murky river water. A wound on her arm throbbed painfully from the combination of continued use and the dirty water that had soaked through her clothes. Fara hadn't had time yet to check to see how bad it was. Frankly she was surprised she'd even managed to find a place to hide until the world stopped spinning and the edges of her vision stopped going dark. There had been an accident, she couldn't really remember now. She had been in a helicopter, and awoke to find herself on the ground, bleeding and alone. She had been running for about three hours now, trying to find her team and get back into safe territory. Fara was a commander in United States Army and as of now was in the middle of nowhere. The year was 2035, and the third world war had started only five years earlier. It began with an attack in Lebanon, followed by aggressive action from Palestine and Iran. The fighting escalated until finally the Middle East had exploded into a center of violence and warfare. The United States, fancying itself a peace-keeping, immediately became involved, and the majority of Europe was soon to follow. Africa remained uninvolved in the conflict, but this was largely due to the genocide and savagery that kept Africa's nations otherwise occupied. When the fighting had expanded outside of the Middle East and crept its way into Europe and parts of Russia, people began to whisper of a third world war. Alliances started to fracture and crumble, and increasing numbers of civilians fled the larger cities in favor of the more remote and presumably safer countrysides.

It was a chilly November morning when Fara and her team were being transported from one base to another by way of helicopter. Any airborne transport was difficult because of the number of enemy planes flying everywhere. Their helicopter had been hit and began to spiral out of control. She couldnt remember whether she had willingly jumped or had been thrown from the plane. All she knew was that she was abruptly plummeting towards the ground, and had managed to open her chute before an oppressive darkness took hold. The important thing now was to locate the rest of her team. While Russia was considered an allied nation, Fara knew they had landed in a hostile area where recently a large amount of fighting had broken out, and if the others werent found soon, it was likely they would not be found at all.

When the sounds of the planes overhead faded, Fara pulled herself up out of the river and onto the bank. She took a moment to breathe and then got up and started running. Her muscles screamed with exertion; the water had added a significant amount of weight to her load, none of which she could afford to abandon at this point. She had already left behind a bag carrying what few provisions she had, had not bothered to repack her parachute and had lost her gun in the fall from the helicopter. All she had with her now were the clothes on her back, and a small pack containing a tarp that might be turned into a shelter and a canteen of fresh water. Other small essentials, such as basic first aid and iodine tablets, were also tucked away in its numerous pockets. She still carried a small radio with her, but dared not turn it on for fear it would give away her location. Fara pushed herself onward, ignoring the gash on her upper right arm and the burning sensation that was beginning to creep into her lungs.

The smell of smoke and sweat filled her nose, alerting her to the presence of others. She had unknowingly stumbled upon the remnants of a place where a brigade must had camped for the night, and she guessed they were not far. She crouched low behind a bush and scanned her surroundings, praying she hadnt been spotted. Not far from where she stood, she could see trucks starting to roll up and over the hill. From the shouting, pointing and peppering of bullets in her direction, Fara knew she could not continue in the same direction. Fara pushed herself to her feet, groaning inwardly as she sprinted back the way she had just come.

Fara rolled her eyes, knowing that she was heading deeper and deeper behind enemy lines. She jumped into the river and started swimming to the other side. At least the mud will make my camouflage more believable, she thought as she waded through the chest deep water. She sputtered as a wave of the rushing water caught her in the face. She shook her head and wiped her face with a wet hand to try to clear the muddy water from her eyes.

Fara got out of the river once more and began to sprint. She scanned her surroundings, looking in vain for a place to hide. Given the time of year, all of the leaves on the tall trees had fallen to the ground. There was no vegetation in this forest other than the occasional shrub or blade of grass that poked out from underneath the leaves. Come on Fara, pick a spot, any spot, she though furiously, trying to deny the fact that there was no hiding from what lay behind her.

The ground shook and her ears stared ringing at the sound of a small-range bomb being fired and hitting the ground twenty feet to the side of her. I've been spotted, oh lovely, she thought, angered by her inability to escape.

Fara increased her speed as bullets whizzed past her head and bombs exploded all around her. She broke through the edge of the forest and flailed her arms as she skidded to a halt just on the edge of a cliff. A few pebbles that had been scraped forward by her feet tumbled down the face of the cliff making a soft rattling noise as they hit the bottom. Fara leered down the edge, trying to see the bottom. She couldn't however, a thick fog had settled on the ground and obscured her view. There was no escape for her.

She turned her head to look behind her. Dozens of enemy soldiers were running down the hills, pointing and shouting at her in a language unknown to her. Fara closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She turned around to face them and raised her hands in surrender. The men formed a tight circle around her until one came forward to tie her hands with rope and take her gun. She was surprised that rope was used, rather than a more sturdy material that might be less easily cut or broken. It meant that whoever had captured her was very likely underfunded, and not highly ranked.

She felt the poke of a gun at her back and began to walk forward, head held high. Fara masked the fear in her eyes and made her face blank. They would not get the satisfaction of her fear. They marched back to the river and then across it where the trucks were waiting. She climbed into the back of the last truck along with seven other soldiers. Fara curled up in a ball in the back corner. Two men slammed the doors, causing light to only be available from the two small windows on the sides.

The seven soldiers started laughing and talking, pleased that they had caught an enemy soldier and a commander at that. One of the men turned to her and began to speak in fragmented English. The others quieted to hear what was going on.

"You. American?" he asked with a grin on his face. Fara glared at him

"All Americans die. We win. We take soldiers, not let free. You first one we catch. We learn plans and have much fun with you," he said, sneering at her. Fara narrowed her eyes, observing the man for a moment before speaking.

"You speak rather confidently for one who is on the edge of losing," she replied haughtily. The man glared at her.

"We will not lose," he replied. Fara shrugged.

"You may think that," she replied, pretending to be unruffled by his response. In actuality, the United States and its allies were losing. Not by a large margin but they were losing none the less. The casualties were high on their side and the amount of territory they controlled seemed to be shrinking. Fara dreaded to think at what would happen if they lost. No doubt high consequences would follow. She cringed at the mere thought of it. Sighing wearily, she leaned back into the wall. It was a slightly awkward position however because her hands were tied behind her back.

Fara silently thanked the fact that she was wearing green, brown and black face paint as well as a helmet and a thick coat of mud to hide the fact that she was female. She shuddered at the thought of what they would do to her if they knew that. Fara frowned and looked up at the roof of the truck, searching for an escape plan.

An idea began to formulate and Fara looked around at the men inside the truck. Each was armed with a machine gun as well as two small hand guns strapped to their belts. They probably had other weapons in their backpacks, but she couldn't tell. All she had to do was wait until they fell asleep and then she could find a way to kill them all.

She guessed that they were driving to the nearest base, and given that they were still in the middle of the forest, it would be a few hours before they reached their destination. Fara closed her eyes, and pretended to fall asleep. Keeping her movements to a minimum, she pulled a small blade out of her boot. I am never protesting again if the General tells me to keep one in my boot, she thought.

The General had fought in many battles and had insisted that all soldiers always have a blade of some sort with them so that they would have at least one way to defend themselves if necessary. Fara had always found this quite frustrating and a little ridiculous seeing as no one fought with knives anymore. Until now she had never been more thankful for his advice.

Fara began to scrape the blade against the ropes, slowly but surely cutting through the bindings. Eventually, after about half an hour, the ropes began to loosen. Fara twisted her wrists around a bit and felt the ropes slide off. She gently rubbed her still joints, but held her position and pretended to sleep.

Fara listened to the sounds around her. Eventually, all of the men were sleeping and snoring. She slowly opened her eyes to peer at what was around her. None of the men were moving and they all lay slumped against each other. Fara pulled her hands out from behind her and silently crept over to the backpack that was nearest her. She opened it and pulled out a hand grenade. Fara smiled to herself. These were exactly the types of things she needed. Carefully, Fara crept around to each of the men and took all of their guns and piled them in a corner. She tucked two handguns into her belt, and stashed the bullets from the rest in her backpack. Next, she took what little food and provisions she could find out of the backpacks and crammed those into one of the other ones.

The truck hit a bump in the road and caused one of the men to wake up. Fara gasped and grabbed a hand gun. She lunged at the man and smacked him in the back of the head as hard as she could with the side of the gun. She caught him as he slumped over, and Fara gently leaned him against another soldier.

She pulled the shoe laces out of the boots of the unconscious man and tied three of the machine guns together. Fara carefully tied that bundle to the back of the backpack, and then hoisted it up onto her back. She tied the straps of the backpack around her so that it wouldn't slide off when she ran. As a last precaution, Fara took all of the bullets out of the guns she couldn't carry. She put those into her pocket to use for later and picked pulled a hand grenade out of one of the men's backpacks.

Fara crept towards the door of the truck and looked for the knob that would help her to unlock it. Finding the part that connected to the handle on the other side, Fara twisted it and the doors to the back of the truck flew open. The sun had begun to sink and the light was fading making the forest dark and eerie. She pulled the small metal clip out of the top of the grenade and threw it into the back of the truck. She jumped out and stumbled to the ground.

As she fell, the truck exploded behind her. The explosion set off the other grenades in the truck and the force caused her to fly forward in the air. Fara didn't remember hitting the ground. She only remembered falling and then black.