Finally he spoke. "Unusual."
Brennan looked over at him. "What is?"
Booth glanced over at her, then back at the road. He mulled over his thoughts for a few moments, then said, "I dallied a little in leaving, making sure we were the last of our group to leave. I watched in the mirror as we left...The entire company of troops that forced us out of the dig site. They left with us."
"Why is that unusual Booth? What's so unusual about that?"
"Normally, when the army, or any military force really, takes over an area, they guard it. They establish a perimeter, post guards around it, and within it. But these guys...they didn't."
"What does that mean Booth? Why would they do something like that?"
Booth mulled some more. "Its like they..." Booth grimaced, like he was tasting something he didn't like. "Its like they...not so much took over the area, as..."
"As?" Brennan asked.
"As they...well, not so much took over the area...as evacuated it."
Booth shook his head. It made no sense. The group of soldiers and their actions made no sense. The dig site made no sense. Nothing was making sense!
"We're getting close to their temporary headquarters I think. Only a couple kilometers more. A kilometer or so back, two of the trucks pulled over. I think they're gonna set up a roadblock."
"So?" Brennan asked.
Booth was still thinking. "They pulled off onto the shoulder of the road. One behind the other. Inexperienced maybe. They shoulda just blocked the road with the trucks. Maybe they're gonna offload the troops first and then do it. Wasted time. Unnecessary." Booth was alertly scanning ahead of him. "There's still time."
"Time for what Booth?"
"To go back and take a quick look around."
"For what? There's nothing worthwhile there now. Its all been removed."
"Maybe there's something there that will be a clue, even if we only see it for a 's some reason they want us out of there. We can say that we forgot something, or wanted to go back and look for it, whatever, but we have to do this now." Booth was sitting straight in his seat now, gazing intently ahead of them. "We're almost there. We can do it..."
"Do what?" Brennan asked
"What a ten ton, 20 foot, fully loaded troop transport truck can't do on a narrow road like this...a U-turn!"
Just ahead, a side road intersected with the road they were on, coming in at almost a 90 degree angle to it. Because of this, the road was briefly just about wide enough for the maneuver Booth had planned. By the time he had done it, the heavy truck behind them would overshoot it, and have to take time to stop, back up, turn around...they'd be well ahead of it, and possibly, if luck was with them, able to blow by the impending road block before they could react to a radioed warning.
"NOW!" Booth called, as he wrenched the wheel over and stomped on the gas. His relatively heavy SUV made a fishtailing, accelerating U-turn that would have done a rally car proud. Brennan had involuntarily closed her eyes for a second, when she opened them, they were racing quickly in the other direction.
"Better get ready to hunker down, I have a feeling they might take some shots at is as we go by. IF we can get by." Booth said calmly.
They came around a corner at a high rate of speed. One truck was blocking part of the road. The other was still parked on the shoulder. "They're slow" Booth muttered. "Bad work. Someone'll get a reprimand for this." He accelerated, aiming for the clear section of road..
Four soldiers, standing in the gap not covered by the truck, stared dumbly at the quickly approaching SUV, then dove for their lives when they realized it wasn't going to stop. Not one of them even so much un-shouldered their rifle.
"Caught them by surprise, lucky." Booth said. "It'll take them forever to get those big trucks turned around.I got an idea the truck that was behind us will run into a clusterf*ck with those two other trucks attempting to turn as they all try to get back here. We'll be well ahead of them all. We should have a good 15 to 20 minutes to take a look around, maybe more. .Lets hope we see or find something. Guess we'll worry about the firing squad later." Booth didn't even smile as he stomped on the gas, expertly driving over the narrow rough road.
Brennan looked over at him, alarmed, breathless, a little frightened, and more than a little turned on. This was all very exciting stuff. The way Booth handled that whole maneuver, the way he was handling the vehicle now...the surety of everything he did...Brennan had to shake her head and get back to herself. They had some serious investigating to do, and very little time to do it in.
They rounded one of the last corners before they came to a long straight stretch of road. It was the last one before the road took one last corner, and then ended at the dig site. Booth rounded into the straightaway, flooerd the gas pedal again, and said, "We'll make up a lot of time here, those trucks only have a top speed of...hey...what the hell?" He squinted into the distance ahead of them.
"Brennan followed his gaze, and squinted too. "Is that a...fog bank?"
Booth said, "I dunno...kind of looks like one, but not...maybe smoke? Maybe the troops set light to something... or its...is it glowing?"
Ahead of them, the long straight stretch of road receded into the distance, and then disappeared into the...fog, smoke, whatever it was. In fact, they couldn't see anything beyond it. It was like a tenuous curtain had been pulled down in front of them...no...not a curtain, Booth thought. More of a huge semicircle he saw now. To the extreme left and right of them, normal landscapes could be seen. This seemed to him to be like driving toward a tunnel...a big, shimmering, smoky tunnel.
He shook his head and stayed on the gas. It was just a fire somewhere, making smoke that was being blown in their direction, that was all. In any case, they were almost into it, no turning back now. Booth wasn't going to stop for some smoke. "Here it comes." Booth thought, and eased up on the gas as they entered, instinctive caution taking over. In all likelihood, that caution saved their lives.
Once they hit the "smoke" it thickened quickly...and..."Christ, it IS glowing!" Booth blurted. "We must be right on top of the fire!" Booth hit the brakes, the SUV slowed, but not quickly enough. Suddenly the SUV rocked and shuddered and the world went white.
They were still now. Brennan gripped the dashboard, her eyes closed. She slowly opened them. Whatever just happened, it wasn't severe enough to trigger the airbag ahead of her. "Lucky" Brennan thought as she looked at her position. Arms straight, hands planted on the dashboard. Both her arms could have been broken. The SUV was even still running, so it wasn't a bad accident. She was still checking herself over when she heard Booth 's voice, sounding shaken and confused, say, "What the helllllllll?"