Frustrated and not coming to a solution of what to do to free Emelio and even capture the poachers, Matica saw that Tamo and Tima plummeted through the crows just in front of her and Talon. They just pushed them away with their heavy bodies and great wings. The crows couldn’t do anything against them, they just made room for them by flying out of their way and letting them through. Continuing dropping down and flying very low over the heads of the Indians, they ruffled their hair by the wind they created with flapping their huge wings. Then with a nonstop battle cry, they attacked and assaulted the poachers by heading directly at them. Seeing them coming, the poachers, instead of firing at them, yelled out in fright and ducked. Pete pulled Emelio down with him and lay on top of him, not letting him go.
The crows didn’t close the hole so Matica could see how Tamo and Tima assaulted the poachers. ‘Wow,’ she yelled out in surprise, as she watched them going down. ‘I never heard that screech from them before. Is that your battle cry?’ Talon nodded and let out the same cry. ‘Oh no, you don’t go down with me to be with your parents,’ Matica told him as Talon got ready to follow his parents, infected by their cry. It made her hair stand up on her neck, narrowing her eyes and shaking her head. ‘Amazing, just amazing. I didn’t know they had a battle cry.’ Talon looked after his parents and nodded. ‘I haven’t heard that cry from Tamo and Tima, not even before when your parents had their first battle with the “you know who” stealing you in the egg. They are really attacking them now, right? They’ve had enough, I guess. To tell you the truth, I have enough too. It must come to an end sooner than later.’ Talon just grunted quietly and flew on his path. Both watched Tamo and Tima closely as good as they could through the bodies of the crows, as they closed the gab again.
The villagers looked up in surprise, feeling the wind, as the condors hit the air with their huge beating wings. Some bent down so they wouldn’t be hit by the wings, but most just looked amazed at them and wondered what they were going to do now since Aikon’s attack had failed. Recognizing what they were going to do, some of the villagers yelled,
‘When they attack, they really attack openly. Yee-hah! Now we see action.’
They held their breath, hearing Crayn yelling, ‘No, Tamo, Tima come back. They have guns. They will shoot you down. Oh God, protect them. Don’t let them be killed. Not that.’
Mira cried out, ‘Oh my God,’ and fell on her knees beside Tessa, her hands stretched out toward the condors. She was happy that Aikon escaped the bullets from Zed. Now she was troubled for the condors. ‘No.’ Next she looked out for Talon and her daughter, knowing that they were flying together. She couldn’t see them anywhere. She mumbled, ‘Oh good. Talon is not attacking with his parents.’
Each of the villagers thought, Everything has failed, whatever we did to capture the poachers or free Emelio. Even Aikon failed. Will the condors succeed whatever they have in mind to do or will the poachers kill them? Will the condors snatch Emelio out of the poacher’s hands? Will they succeed whatever they are planning to do? It would be time.
Matica was just thinking whether Talon would follow his parents, when Talon screeched the same battle cry again and turned so rapidly that she was nearly thrown off of him. The nearby crows, hearing his cry, flew apart to make room for him, knowing that he will go down as well. ‘No Talon,’ she yelled out. ‘You can’t attack them with me on you. Better…’ She had to stop, because she realised that Talon did follow his parents, speeding up, and didn’t listen to her at all. The attack cry of his parents must have affected him. He couldn’t stop anymore. Matica gave in, what happens will happen. Here we go. And the strangest thing was, the crows followed Talon as a whole black wall, cawing all the time with Talon’s battle cry.
She saw that Tamo and Tima were already very close to the poachers. She also saw that the “you know who” didn’t lift their pistols to shoot at them. Are they afraid? But, she couldn’t dwell on that and couldn’t really watch or think anymore what would or will happen to Tamo and Tima, she had to focus on Talon and hold tight to not slide off. Talon flew so fast after his parents to catch up with them.
In the split second before they would collide with the poachers, or whatever Tamo and Tima planned to do, Matica remembered something her mum had told her a while ago after she had said a quick prayer that God should always protect her and the condors: “We do not understand God’s way. Often when we pray it turns out to be completely different to what you expected it to be. God is there, no matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how far we travel in any one of billion directions. Even more astounding is that the God of heaven and earth revolves this universe around you! You are more valuable to Him than all the brilliance of His creation. You are the lost coin of great value, the reason for His love and affection.”
Why do I remember that right now? Matica wondered as Talon dived toward the poachers, hearing the crows’ right behind her. She prayed quietly, Thank you for your protection. I know we are in your hands and you make everything right.
She prepared herself for the attack or even for the collision with the poachers by wrapping her feet tightly around the beginning of his tail and clinging tightly her arms around his neck, but not too tight so not to strangle Talon.
As they came closer she saw the stunned faces of the “you know who” as the condors boldly and fearlessly approached them face on and so the poachers acted way too late, even had they lifted their pistols. They didn’t shoot. They lay on the ground and just looked at the oncoming condors, not really believing they would attack them. Their arms with the guns were frozen and then they even dropped a bit, too dazed, too surprised and too astounded to fire at the oncoming condors and crows.
Even Emelio looked stunned from underneath Pete, as he still lay on top of him. Pete looked up fearfully at the oncoming condors, wondering what they would do.
Pete reacted, coming out of his dazed state first. He cried out in desperation and fear then lifted his pistol and, without really aiming, he fired in the direction of Tamo. But Emelio acted immediately. Still laying under Pete, he pushed his arm outward. Pete didn’t feel or realise it. So when he shot, the bullets missed Tamo altogether, going astray. He didn’t notice it. He just kept firing.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang, one shot after the other.
Hearing the shots, but not seeing what Emelio did, Matica closed her eyes. No, no, no, no! He’s being killed.
Pete’s aim was off and Emelio pushed his arm further and further away. All the bullets missed Tamo, but still he twisted away in a tight curve.
However, two crows fell dead to the ground.
Then it happened.
Tamo, in full flight, landed right in front of Pete. His claws scratched over the dirt until he came to a full stop. Bending his head, Tamo pecked hard at Pete’s hand, arm and head. Pete dropped his pistol and waved his arms in front of his face to protect himself, letting go of Emelio.
Emelio crawled out from under him, kicking him wherever he could, yelling, ‘That is for capturing me. You never get what you want.’
Tessa, seeing what happened, yelled at him to come back to her, but Emelio still kicked him, couldn’t let go yet.
Tamo lifted off again and flew so close over Pete that he actually scraped his hair with his claws but not injuring him. Then he turned and came back, attacking him from the back now.
Since Zed heard Pete yelling and firing his pistol, Zed woke up from his shock as well and tried to fire at Tima as she had followed Tamo the same way. He couldn’t shoot. He just aimed, nothing else. She also had landed in front of him with scratching claws then she pecked his hands, shoulder and head. He dropped his pistol and folded his hands over his head to protect his head and face.
When Tima lifted off, she scratched her claws over his hair and head, screeching continuously as Tamo did. Twisting and turning around, they both flew over the poachers again, hitting Zed’s and Pete’s shoulders with their wings and attacking them from the back. Since Pete had led go of Emelio, he turned around and shot at them. The bullets never came near, but again a crow fell from the sky.
The villagers yelled, excited at the condors’ success but were sad about the crows. Because Emelio hadn’t run away, he was too excited and wound watching Tamo and Tima, Pete tried to grab him again.
Emelio, not thinking he could do that and didn’t see it coming, found himself in the clutches of Pete again, who pressed him tightly down.
In the bedlam that followed, a man suddenly cried out and held his arm. His blue jumper stained red. Dumbfounded, the man put his finger through a hole at his sleeve. Everyone looked at him, wondering if one of the bullets had gone astray and had struck him as well as the crows.
Pajaro, hearing him crying out, pushed through the crowd. ‘What is it? Did…’ And seeing the man’s bloody sleeve, he declared, ‘Hold still. I get the first-aid kit. Someone press on his wound with his hand.’ As he ran away to get the first-aid kit, the man beside him did what Pajaro asked to do.
Pajaro didn’t need to push through the crowd, they made room for him. He ran back. In the meantime the man slipped out of the sleeve of his jumper, looking at the two bloody flesh wounds on his upper arm. The bullet must have been gone all the way through his flesh. Pajaro examined the two wounds then stopped the blood flow with compression then he put a bandage tightly around his arm. ‘What a chance that one of the bullets has hit you, hey? Well,’ he looked around, ‘and the crows they fell from the sky.’ Pajaro tried to cheer him up. The man nodded. ‘You were lucky, you know, it is a flesh wound only.’
Talon is Attacking
In the meantime, just as Tamo and Tima flew up and turned around to attack again, Talon with Matica charged at Zed the same way as his parents had before. He landed just one meter in front of him, skidded until he bumped into Zed’s head with his legs and so was stopped.
‘Yay’, Matica cried out. The stop was so sudden, that Matica was nearly thrown over his head, but the grip with her legs at the beginning of his tail held and so she stayed on. Then Talon pecked at Zed with his beak wherever he could, but did not draw blood. Zed tried to protect his head as much as he could, so Talon pecked at his hands. Matica on Talon had to laugh, she couldn’t hold it back, in spite of maybe been heard and seen by the poachers on top of Talon. It looked too funny. Next Talon lifted off again and scratched his talons over his back.
Talon, Tamo and Tima flew up as they planned to attack again as they saw Emelio in his clutches again. Screeching the battle cry, they dived at Pete and Zed again. But this time they rammed them, scratching their claws over their backs. Flying up again, they screeched satisfied, but were sad to see that Pete still had Emelio in his clutches.
Mira, seeing them attacking again, inhaled loudly but no words escaped her open mouth. Her eyes widened as Tessa put her arms around her. So they comforted each other and watched, frozen in silence and in horror, thinking the worst that could happen.
Emelio was frozen. He had missed the opportunity to run away.
Zed tried to shoot at Tamo and Tima but missed.
Hearing the condors’ battle cry, Zed whirled around and yelled out, ‘Do you not have enough?’ Then in complete fright, he yelled, ‘Pete, let the boy go. They are not stopping until they have the boy. They will kill us. Let him go.’
Seeing Talon coming at them with Matica on his back again and this time with the crows following him closely, Pete hesitated to shoot for a split second, in shock that it wasn’t over yet.
Zed’s hand with the pistol dropped and it threatened to fall. His mouth dropped open, not believing what he actually saw. Talon screeched the battle cry again, joining in with the crows, and took the time and advantage of that split second where Zed was frozen and wouldn’t shoot at him to fly so low at them. Zed got such a fright that Talon would harm him yet again that he screamed out.
Pete let go of Emelio – he virtually pushed him away – to protect his head with his hands as he fell to the ground beside Zed to escape Talon’s claws, whimpering.
Talon dived even lower, seeing them falling to the ground, so that his talons were dragging over Zed’s back and hands. Matica laughed out loud. The crows, loudly cawing, followed him, repeating with Pete what Talon did to Zed.
Zed, frozen, looked stunned with open mouth as Talon with Matica flew past him, unable to fire or to do anything else. Talon accelerated by flapping his wings powerfully and flew up into the sky with the crows still following him, out of the range of Zed’s pistol, just in case he would have the guts to shoot at them.
Emelio, finally free of Pete’s iron clasping hand, rubbed his arm where he had brutally held him. But seeing Pete laying on the ground, whimpering and sobbing quietly, he looked at the situation 232 and, instead of running away, he kicked at Pete’s shinbone and back, screaming, ‘That is for holding me hostage and hurting my arm.’ He kicked him again and again. Pete let it happen, as if he didn’t feel his kicks, too afraid to avoid them and look up at him.
Zed watched Emelio punishing Pete, still unable to move or do anything either.
‘Emelio,’ Tessa screamed, ‘let him go. Come here.’
Just as Emelio wanted to run, following his mother’s advice, Pete’s hand shot forward, grabbed one of his legs and pulled him down. Emelio fell beside Pete. ‘Let go of me!’
Emelio kicked Pete’s hand with his other foot, but it was in vain. Pete was holding on too tight and he yelled out, ‘Stop that, you brute.’ He had missed the opportunity to run away once again, trying to punish Pete instead of the instinct of survival.
Pete, recovering quickly now and seeing that Talon was gone – he never saw Matica on his back or even heard her laughing – didn’t let go of his ankle, until he stood up and so Emelio was once more in the iron grip of Pete as he grabbed Emelio around his chest yet again. Standing firm, Pete yelled angry to Zed, ‘Shoot them all down.’ Zed just looked at him, not sure what to do.
Mira looked anxiously after Talon with Matica, wishing they would fly away and would not come back to attack the poachers’ once more. But it wouldn’t happen, she knew. Talon was drawn into the attack of his parents. He couldn’t let go, not now. She also knew and realised something else as she looked around at the Indians: the condors attacked the poachers because no one else from the village was doing anything. They wouldn’t dare to do something. Mira also realised that they were afraid to risk their lives and the lives of the condors since the poachers have guns and could shoot them easily down. They were stunned themselves, not sure what to do. They, including Pajaro, hoped that the police would be here by now or would just come. But, as it is, they weren’t here yet, so they were unsure what to do. And why is that? Because no one knows how to handle them, how to capture them, how to deal with them. Including herself, she realised and her husband. But, as she saw it, the police are not coming, not yet anyway. So the condors took the initiative and the opportunity to attack. They wouldn’t let the poachers go, not now, where they have them so close. It was their fight now. Nothing could stop them anymore.
As Mira thought it through in the next nanosecond, she believed to know what she should do. She made up her mind right there and so she ran to where Talon was flying, trying everything to warn him and her daughter. However, she wasn’t really thinking of the consequences that might happen. She was thinking about the condors and why they were attacking the poachers and not letting the Indians do it. As she ran after Talon with her daughter, she ran right into the hands of Zed.
Stopping frantically, ramming her feet into the ground and maintaining her balance just in front of Zed, while nearly running into him, she realised her terrible mistake. She had run without looking where she was running to, only looking up at Talon with her daughter. In the next split second she thought, Oh my God, what am I going to do now? Will he capture me now? Will he shoot me?
While her ears were closed to the surroundings before while running, she now heard the condors screeching in fury as they came back to attack the poachers from the back this time. Seeing Mira running toward Zed, they stopped their attack, flew up into the sky and circled over them, waiting for what Mira was going to do.
Mira nearly ran into Zed. He was quick this time and aimed the pistol he still had in his right hand at Mira’s chest just as she stood in front of him. Mira, thinking fast, knocked his arm to the side. The bullet that was for her chest hit the ground just beside her feet. A dust cloud rose up. She looked angry at the dust cloud then at Zed and yelled out in fury, ‘You shot at me!’
At the same time, Zed yelled at Pete, ‘Pete, quick, let the boy go and grab her. She must be the mother of that girl flying on our condor.’
Pete hadn’t let go of Emelio yet. He asked, ‘What do you mean?’ He shook his head. ‘I don’t think so. She is an adult and furious and the boy is a child. He is easier to hold down.’
‘That maybe so, but it’s the mother of the child on our condor. Aaaarrrgggh,’ he then screamed out and bent down. Mira, taking the opportunity while Zed was looking at Pete, grabbed the pistol in Zed’s hand and tried to twist it out of his hand, away from her body, aware that his finger was on the trigger, simultaneously she punched him with her other fist in his face. Dragging Emelio with him and holding him tight with one hand, Pete moved quickly to Mira’s side and tried to grab her arm. However, having his pistol in that hand, he couldn’t get a good grip.
Emelio, seeing his opportunity as he wasn’t in that iron grip any longer, grinned ferociously and kicked hard at Pete’s shinbone, hoping that he kicked him at the same spot as he did before. Pete yelled out. Emelio wriggled out of his grip easily now.
Pete recovered quickly but had let Emelio go and grabbed Mira instead then wrestled her down. Mira fought to keep standing, but he was too strong for her. She fell on her knees, letting go of Zed’s pistol. Pete wrestled her more, until she lay on the ground, nose down. She felt Pete kneeling beside her, pressing the cold barrel of the pistol at the back of her head. She now was furious but didn’t know what to do. But she knew she had to do something. Thinking of something was hard with the cold barrel of the pistol at her head. However one thing was for sure, she was too aggravated to lay like a sack of potatoes on the ground. She had to see the poachers eye to eye and see what they might plan. In spite of feeling the pistol on the back of her head, she quickly turned around. Pete let her and pointed his pistol at her forehead. At the same time, one of her hands shot up and grabbed Pete’s wrist. She was hoping that neither of them would have the guts to shoot. She wriggled around as much as she could. Pete bent down to speak into her face. The opportunity presented itself to her. She bashed him with her free hand in his belly and yelled at him, ‘Don’t you touch me!’ But Pete slammed his fist into her stomach. She tumbled over, letting go of Pete’s wrist.
In the meantime, she heard the villagers gasping and yelling at her, what she was doing, to let him go. She heard Crayn’s voice yelling out to her. But it all was too late. She was in the hands of the poachers now.
Talon flew in tight loops over Mira, Pete and Zed. Tamo and Tima were nearby, so was Emelio, watching if he could help Mira in any way, since Mira had put herself in danger now, for him.
Zed screamed at Mira, pointing his gun at her, ‘Get up and kneel down, or I shoot you now!’
Mira did get up and kneeled, facing him and Pete. She lifted her hands to fold them behind her head. She obeyed him only because so she could watch them and could see what they might be doing.
Pete walked once around her, inspecting her. Standing behind her now, he asked her angrily, as he didn’t see it himself what Zed had told him, ‘Zed said that your daughter was laying on my condor, flying on him.’ He shook his head and walked to her front, asking her directly, ‘Are you the mother of that crazy child flying on my condor?’ He pointed up at Talon.
Zed stood to the side, watching her, poking his pistol into her neck. But Mira said nothing, just grinned at Emelio who still stood close by and said, ‘It will all become well. Go now. Your mother is waiting for you.’
Emelio grinned back and nodded, then turned around and ran to his mother. She embraced him, not letting him go again. Soon after, he escaped her and ran to Aikon.
‘Not talking to us, hey?’ Pete yelled into her neck, breathing hotly into her collar of her dress. She felt the cold barrel of his gun pressing against her neck. ‘But you will talk. I make you talk.’ He walked to her front, sliding the barrel of his pistol around her neck, pushing her hair with it. Knocking Zed away, he then pressed the barrel of his gun on her forehead then down at the bridge of her nose to her mouth, pressing it against her lips. She flinched in pain and opened her lips but then she felt the barrel against her teeth. The pressure and pain was too much against her gum. Therefore she opened her mouth. But then he stopped pressing further. She closed her mouth again, with the barrel against her teeth, hoping he wouldn’t press harder.
Mira looked anxiously into his fury and rage-filled eyes, to see if he really would shoot her. Seeing fear burning in his eyes as well, not only fury and rage, she knew he wouldn’t shoot her. And now she knew she had an advantage. But she also knew, because of his fury, he could be unpredictable. She also knew he is doing that to ensure her that he would fire if she wouldn’t answer him.
Then Pete yelled in his husky and scratchy voice into her face, ‘So, tell me, are you the mother of that child?’ Mira blinked, since his spittle flew over her face. Then she looked down at the pistol in her mouth. ‘Oh yeah, you think I better take the barrel out of your mouth, so you can talk?’ Mira nodded with her eyes, but still the barrel clanged at her teeth. She pressed her eyes close and her head back. It was hurting her gum. He took the barrel out of her mouth and let it wander up her nose again and pressed it against her forehead.
The barrel felt cold on her forehead once more. She flinched and closed her eyes, moving her lips to get the feeling out of her mouth. Opening her eyes again, she smirked with an idea that had popped into her mind. ‘Oh, yes, you lost your rifles. What do you think Tamo is doing with it? Will he shoot you with it now?’
Pete ducked automatically and looked up at the sky if he could see the condors, but left the pistol on her forehead.
Mira giggled. ‘You believe that? You’re such a fool.’
The Indians inhaled loudly. They were angry, not only with the poachers, they were angry with themselves because they didn’t know what they could do to help Mira now and how to get rid of the poachers. They admired Mira that she had freed Emelio but now she was a hostage. What could they do? After all the poachers had guns, they had nothing, only their hands, garden tools and hammers.
When Talon with Matica flew over the poachers to see what they could do, Zed pointed his pistol up at them and yelled, ‘Hey you on that condor, is that your mother?’ He saw Matica’s frightened face.
‘Thanks for giving it away. Yes, she is your mother. Great. We have her now.’ He sneered gratefully.
Pete grabbed Mira’s right arm firmly since she had still folded them over her head, and pulled it down, not lowering his gun from her forehead.
Mira let her other arm fall down into her lap and tried to twist her other arm out of his grip. She protested, ‘Don’t you touch me!’ Irritated, Pete let her arm go and told her, ‘You tell your daughter up there to come down with that blasted condor and hand him over to me, then I won’t hurt you. Otherwise I will kill you and then I will shoot at the condor and so will kill your daughter as well and then I shoot the other condors down too. You hear me?’
‘You won’t do that,’ Mira stated, irritated. Her heart was pounding against her chest. ‘You only kill animals, not people. Don’t you?’ She looked at him challengingly. Since she didn’t get an answer, she went on, ‘You always warn that you will kill but you never do it.’ Mira blinked her eyes then she closed them, knowing very well that she was very vulnerable, and provoking him wouldn’t help her either. What if she would provoke them too much, would they shoot her? What do they know about them? Could they be murderers as well not only poachers? She prayed. God, please help us and take us out of this bad situation.
Opening her eyes again, Mira was aware that Aikon with Emelio were crawling on their bellies towards the poachers from behind them again, as Aikon did before. Aikon put his finger over his lips, seeing that his mum saw them. Mira looked at the poachers, one by one to not give them away and hoped that together they will succeed this time, whatever they have in mind to do. The poachers didn’t see them, didn’t see her look behind them either.
In the meantime, Mira sneered in a low voice, ‘Why do you think you will succeed with getting the condor by capturing one of us? You must realise by now that we protect the condors. You will never get them and you will never shoot anyone.’
‘Then we have to shoot you to get your attention to give them to us,’ Pete growled.
‘So you are murderers then. Not only would you murder animals, you murder people as well,’ Mira whispered when she saw him recoiling.
Mira trembled inside, saying these words hearing Pete’s reply, but she didn’t let her voice give it away. She had to say them. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply to get her strength and courage back. They are murderers. We have to be careful.
When she opened her eyes once more, she saw that the boys were only a few steps away from Zed and Pete’s back. They didn’t see or hear them coming because they were too occupied with the wriggling Mira in front of them, trying to pin her down tightly. Pete also couldn’t see them because the boys used Zed as a cover, sneaking behind him closer.
Suddenly Pete saw movement behind Zed. He turned and saw the boys creeping slowly closer on their knees and elbows through the dry grass. He yelled. ‘Zed, behind you!’
Zed looked at him, wondering what he meant, then he turned around. Also Pete saw the villagers looking astonished beyond them.
He looked. And then chaos erupted.