The gully was a little ways ahead and like I figured, the invisible dead body had left the premises. I carefully checked the ground and found the traces of clawprints I was looking for.
I remembered to get my order on before starting to jog down the creek bed "That way! I have point, Boyer you have sweep."
We had only gone a hundred meters or so before I spotted the hole. It wasn't that big, maybe two feet across, but then reptiley types are good at squishing down into small spaces. My nose twitched as I bent down. Invisible thing BO.
"We have arrived," I started stripping off my MOLLE and slipped off my vest as well, keeping my knife, my Sig, and Mr. Pointy. I handed the pepper fogger to Boyer, "When I'm in there, make sure you keep this area misted. It'll even the odds for you because of the whole thrashy and unable to smell thing and will keep any from coming in behind me," I masked up. "Oh yeah! Give me all your grenades...CS and Frag."
Colonel Haviland looked shocked, "You're not going in there alone?"
"Well duh sir? I mean, Walsh may be a loony-tune, but she had to have some reason to want me so bad. The fact that I'm going to go in alone and have a actual chance of coming out again in hopefully survivable shape-age might be a clue about that reason. See you!" I dived in and started squirming.
Finally another use for being the pocket sized slayer. Boyer never would have fit through the entrance tunnel and even Faith would have had a rough time with some of the bend-age in the path. Wearing a pro-mask I was functionally blind and deaf and was pretty much navigating by feel. Time to even the odds. I pulled the pin on one of the CS grenades and rolled it ahead of me. The red glow from the burning material lit up the fact that I was entering a much larger space, and seeing that the grenades roll stopped by hitting an invisible something, let me know party time was starting.
I slid forward the remaining two feet into the much larger area and rolled to one side. The thing I had bumped with the grenade was too busy choking to worry about about my entrance. I snapped three chemlights and scattered them around me while standing. I had descended during my squirm into the burrow and I found myself in a 3 meter tall cavern that these things had dug out. This artificial cavern was probably twenty meters on a side and I could feel lots of movement around me. At the far end was a purplish glowing misty area. Probably a portal of some kind. None of the invisible things was approaching me, probably because I was standing in a cloud of CS.
I started pulling CS and frag grenades and flipping them to the corners of the cavern. The CS panicked the things, and when I threw the frags in this kind of confined space I made sure to hit the ground, open my mouth and cover my ears to keep some of the concussion from destroying my hearing as well. I threw all three frags and when I raised my head, after the fragments stopped whistling by of course, I saw the caverns ceiling had collapsed in several places. The air was filled with a nasty mist of tear gas and dust and I could see only a few shapes disturbing it.
Drawing my pistol I began shooting the center of mass of those movements while still staying prone. I was pretty sure that whatever sense they were using were far more messed up than mine. At least I had a mask.
After a while there were no more movements in the mist and I got to my feet. Reloading, I carefully started moving towards where I had seen the portal, scattering chemlights as I went. The ground felt sticky and I knew, even though I couldn't see it, it was covered with blood. The portal was half-buried, but still glowed. at the bottom was an ornately carved piece of stone embedded in the clayey soil. I dug away at the dirt with my knife and found that the stone was part of an elaborate tabletop...who am I kidding? It was an altar of some kind.
I headed back to the entrance tunnel and began my squirm out. When I got to the surface I took out a wad of C4 and a blasting cap from the gear that I had slipped off.
"What's the situation out here?" I asked as I prepped the charge.
Haviland responded, "We got three so far. The fog is keeping them confused, I don't think it really hurts them, just blinds them. How did it go inside? We felt some tremors."
"Pretty well sir. I think I got most of them, there's just a pesky gateway to an alien dimension I have to deal with. No big thing really..." I was turning back to the tunnel when a large earth smeared shape ripped out of it knocking all four of us off our feet.
I shook my head to clear it. It was about 3 meters tall and truly massive. Even with reptilian squishyness it had to have widened the burrow to get out. The dirt stains let me know at least where its claws and head were, which was so of the good. However, the claws were currently swinging at me.
I rolled away from the incoming death shot and got to my feet only to duck the next swing. By killing off its buddies, I may have irritated it a little. I drew my pistol and emptied the magazine into its torso. Sadly I saw the glint of flattened bullets falling to the ground.
"It's pistol proof!" I called out.
"Get down Buff!" I heard Boyer yell. I got down with my bad self and a burst of rounds from the SAW stitched across its chest, And more bullety snowflakes were made. Not good.
"And it's SAW proof too..." I added helpfully.
"Oh crap," were Boyer's next words as it advanced on him and swung at his chest. He went sailing down the gully and landed in an unmoving heap. Haviland and his guy swung their M4s and unloaded on it. It didn't really have any practical effect but it did distract it enough that I could scramble over and grab my sword.
My sword is pretty cool. It's not made from any known material and is capable of carving through rebar with losing its edge. I got it after killing a Hunter and it is one of my prize possessions. It is a slashy choppy weapon only, because it has no point, just a squared off end, but I love it.
My first hit caught it in the leg I think. The dirt was starting to slide off its super-slick skin so it was getting harder to see. I could feel the blade sinking in and it spun to face me. I stripped off my mask for better vision and hearing, and started coughing and tearing up from the chemical fumes surrounding me.
My obvious next move was to jump out of the gully into the cleaner air above. As expected the big guy followed me and didn't seem really pleased. Now I was having a hard time landing shots on it, because when it landed a lot of the dirt had fallen off. Not having a visible opponent meant I had to stay cautious, as one good hit from it could drop me no problem. At least I was able to predict what kind of attacks it would launch. It may have been cunning, but it was in no way anything more than a nasty pack hunter at its core. Eventually it might evolve sentience and sapience, but at this stage it was nothing more than a nasty animal.
I kept cutting and rolling, trying to wear it down. The ground was getting translucent which meant it was losing a lot of blood I hoped. It had connected with me and now my right arm wasn't working as well as it should and I was bleeding from a cut across my forehead. I had tried to go for a take down with a leg sweep, but it felt like I had kicked an I-beam and it had back handed (pawed?) me and sent me skidding. I came in and feint left with my injured arm, hoping to take its hand off at the wrist when it fell for my cunning plan. Sadly it was more wary than that and went for my legs with a massive swipe. Buffy Air was flying again!
I crashed down and realized that my hip was dislocated. Resetting it isn't that tough if you're not in the middle of a brawl with an invisible killing machine. If you are in the middle of said brawl, it gets kinda tricky.
Hobbling upright I used my sword as a cane and waited for the inevitable charge to finish off the wounded prey. I watched the ground carefully for the telltale impacts of its movement and when it was only a few meters away, I pushed off and jumped as high as I could with my good leg. Sailing over where I thought its head would be, I slashed down and hit something before crashing and rolling to a pretty uncoordinated landing. Turning I got up and hobbled towards where it would be before jumping up on to its back and slipping it into a full-nelson.
It started thrashing and rolling and slamming its back, with me on it, against the ground. I gritted my teeth and held on while forcing its massive head forward. The thing really wasn't very happy with this event turn-age, and was going completely berserk. I felt like a rodeo clown wrestling a T-Rex as it hissed and tried to slash me. Finally there was a popping sound as I kept up the pressure and its spine separated.
I heaved its corpse up off of me and slid out. Haviland and his guy were looking at me in shock.
"What?" I asked, "Is there something in my teeth?" then I bent down and popped my hip back into place. Before heading down into the gully to check on Boyer. He was sitting up and moaning about his ribs. As he wasn't dying immediately, I picked up the C4 and slid back into the burrow to place the charge on the altar. In ten minutes I was back out and the charge went off. There was a bright purple flash from the burrow and the ground subsided from a massive tremor.
Walking over to Boyer I helped him to his feet.
"Sergeant, you'd better learn to duck."
I gathered up my gear and hoisted Boyer out of the gully. We stood for a second looking at the crushed ground where the big one was lying dead, still invisible of course. I turned to face Haviland.
"Colonel, we'll clean this mess up, but I'm really sure my General would like to talk with you so you'd better stick around before I insist."
He nodded slowly and sat down on the now translucent grass, "So this is what you can do?"
"What can I say sir. Somedays it's just one damned thing after another..."The Damned Thing property Ambrose Bierce