Erut stood at the edge of the southernmost end of the gorge. There were only a few hours of daylight available so Erut took the chance to look around. To his left, in the distance, he could see the virtual wall of dipda trees stretch from either side of the deep cleft and continue north and south. Their leaves, together with a carefully worked lattice of support vines and ropes, created a full canopy that stretched across and down the gap to mark the end of the habitable space of Pa’Myshka. He looked down over the edge of the gorge and was engulfed by the smell of the moist air.
“Oh, no! No, no, no, not again!” said Erut waving his hands back and forth. “I’m not jumping in that thing again.”
“You won’t have to,” said Lagos, now dressed in a borrowed Sifuti bodysuit. “The gorge is too narrow here to simply fly across.”
“What about the…”
“The bridge up north is crawling with your friendly compatriots.”
He came up softly behind Erut. At first, the Kevutian thought he was being pushed from behind into the dark space below, but Lagos grabbed him around the waist. In his hands he held a woven belt with a large iron ring worked into it. Lagos snapped the belt into place around Erut then pulled him back from the edge of the gorge just enough so that the small man would not fall. Erut turned away from the gorge. Other Sifuti were laying down a coil of thick rope taken from supplies hidden behind the Sifuti house. One moved toward them with another rope attached to an iron hook.
“Just relax,” said the approaching Sifuti. It was the voice of the young male. His head covering was off and what remained was a strong and full face lined with wisps of light hair. “We’re not going to throw you in again.” The male Sifuti threw the hook in his hand into the ring now securely around Erut’s waist. He looked right at the soldier. “Ru Omin,” he said.
“What?” said Erut.
“My name,” Omin said. “I just thought you should know my name before you went falling to your death.”
“Before I what?” cried Erut.
Omin just laughed while he took the rope now attached to Erut and pulled back on it to make it taut. He walked backwards with the rope in his hands and continued to laugh. As he moved, Lagos came from behind the laughing man and slapped him on the back.
“C’mon, don’t scare the little guy,” said Lagos. He moved in front of Erut. In his hands was a ball of rope that ended in a coil on the ground. The ball looked to be made from three separate strands of rope tied together.
“Now, listen to me carefully and do exactly as I say,” said Lagos. As he talked, he pushed Erut to the edge of the gorge. Erut swung his head around to try and avoid the edge, but the combination of shoving from Lagos against the pressure of the belt around him made it impossible to resist. Lagos stopped pushing when the Kevutian was at the absolute edge of the crevasse.
“First of all,” began Lagos. “Don’t move.”
Erut was squirming and making indistinguishable noises. He looked around for Avin and Oyn’a, who had joined them in the mission, but had now gone missing. There would be no support there.
“Don’t move!” barked Lagos.
Erut stiffened up and fell silent.
“I need you to listen to me very carefully,” said Lagos, “and do exactly what I tell you.”
Erut stood stiff and silent.
“You need to become as rigid as a board and hold on to that ball of rope.”
Erut was already rigid and clamped his hands around the rope ball as if squeezing it harder might make this scene just go away. He simply did nothing.
“Alright,” said Lagos. “Here comes the fun part.”