Jessie crouched in an aspen tree watching the forest below her. It was a good perch. She’d used her craziness to select it. As always, the evil magic in her head had done a great job. She could see a large patch of the forest below without any significant obstruction, yet even if someone chose to look at a branch some 40 feet above their head most of her body would have been hidden by the foliage below her. Better yet, there was a branch 10 feet to the side and 15 feet down she could reach in a single leap and from there she could get to almost anywhere in a 30 foot wide circle of forest floor with a couple easy hops.
She was really hoping the group of extremist sorcerers she was waiting for would choose this patch of forest for their clandestine sap gathering. She was absolutely itching for a fight.
Jessie sniffed the night air and found the scent of vanilla was so thick it had started to blot out the woods smell that otherwise surrounded her. That wasn’t good. It meant she was drawing really heavily on the combat spell that had been written into her DNA by a rogue archmage about half a year before. Of course, that was inevitable. The spell vastly enhanced her strength, speed, and agility. It even allowed her to pick cool hiding spots so she could jump down on people from above. Without the spell she couldn’t really do any of that.
She licked a finger and held it out to the wind. The vanilla scent shouldn’t be a problem. The air was nearly still, but what movement there was moved air across the small unpaved service road in front of her, over the no trespassing signs marking off Pando proper and into the forest. She decided the vanilla odor wouldn’t be a problem. Still, it was annoying, the only real problem with an otherwise perfect piece of magic.
Her stomach growled. She reached into a pocket of her shozoku and withdrew a pemmican bar. She ate that, and then three of its fellows, trying not to pay too much attention to the taste. The little things had a lot of energy and they helped when she used her spell, but they weren’t very good. She was considering eating a fifth when a set of headlights started to show through the trees down on the service road.
Jesse grinned. She didn’t realize it, but the expression was broad and feral. That would be the car she was waiting for. Pando was well isolated inside a national forest and, inside that, the circumference of the megaplant was also ringed with a vast barbed wire topped fence. The protections were mostly there for the magical current generation equipment within Pando, but they kept the plant safe as well. There were only a small handful of park service roads penetrating the area. All of them were watched, but Jesse had gotten to pick her own stakeout location and the same instincts that had found the tree for her had told her this road was the most likely target for the sorcerers. She was glad to see they hadn’t let her down.
The car’s lights swept through the forest on the other side of the road as it rounded a corner setting a whole forest worth of shadows moving. Then it slowed and the driver pulled over to the side of the road and parked.
Too soon! Jessie almost snarled. Didn’t the idiot behind the wheel see he should drive another 60 feet? The flat, open, space he’d put himself in was also tremendously sandy. He’d probably just gotten his van stuck. Moron! It also meant Jessie had to move closer before she could drop out of a tree on him. Inconsiderate!
Lights came on in the white van as its doors opened. Music and light spilled out of the vehicle. Apparently the sorcerers were confident they weren’t being watched, they hadn’t even bothered to turn off their radio and they were talking with one another as they got out of the van.
Jessie eyed the branches around her then made a short leap to one about 8 feet above her head and five feet away. From there, she had a straight shot through a long patch of open forest. She crossed it in one very long jump falling 20 feet and traveling 15 to the side. The wind of her passage tangled her hair and made her sleeves snap and crack. It was exhilarating, but she hit her destination branch with more of a thud than she intended.
It was enough of a sound for one of the sorcerers to notice. He was a young man who looked more like a college student than a magical terrorist. He broke off the conversation he’d been having and scanned the forest around the car. Jessie didn’t bother to hide. She was still 20 feet away, and he was night blind and looking at the forest floor rather than the trees. His attempt at finding her was so useless she mostly felt a little embarrassed for him. Predictably, he found nothing and went back to his conversation after less than a minute spent looking.
Jessie made a 10 foot jump, landing silently within easy striking distance of the group. She paused to listen to them for a moment. At the moment, she didn’t care much who was below her, but she’d been instructed to make certain it was actually the sorcerers before striking. She followed her instructions.