“MOVE!” Faith screamed as she took hold of Brandi’s equipment harness and dragged the stunned young woman out of range of the monster’s claws.
The creature followed the four young soldiers as they stumbled away from it, with long rapid steps. Whenever it thought it had a chance of taking one of its prey it would lash out with one of its talon tipped hands, but so far it had only managed to slice into vegetation.
Alternately pushing and pulling her friends out of the way of those wickedly sharp, slashing claws, Faith found herself trying to work out how she was going to kill this hideous monster. For kill it she must, something at the back of her mind was telling her to stand and fight the creature, to beat it into unconsciousness and then rip its head off! But how was she to do that? Pushing Judy ahead of her all she could think of now was how to get herself and her friends away from the thing that seemed so intent on eating them, fighting it was out of the question. Maybe if they had live rounds for their rifles, perhaps then they might have stood and fought the beast, but they only had blanks and their bayonets. Against the monster’s long black claws that was hardly a fair fight.
Taking hold of Judy’s arm with one hand and Nina’s with the other Faith herded her friends along the line of the ravine and desperately tried to think of what to do to save themselves. Suddenly it came to her, it was blindingly obvious when she thought about it, a simple transaction; her life for that of her three buddies. Pushing her friends onwards and yelling at them to keep running, Faith dumped her useless rifle, pulled her bayonet and turned to face the creature.0=0=0=0The Bridge.
“You did what!?” Lt Lewis looked at Recruit Burns as if he’d grown another head.
“Ma’am!” Burns stood to rigid attention in front of the officer and First Sergeant, “I instructed Recruit Philips to move her squad through the forest to outflank the enemy position.” Burns paused for just a moment as he decided how to make himself look good, he needed to salvage something from the failed attack on the bridge. “Recruit Philips’ squad was to be in position by seventeen-hundred hours in time to support the main attack on Lt Woodbridge’s platoon. They must have got lost,” Burns put just a little distain into his voice as if to say ‘what do you expect’, “because they weren’t there and the attack failed because of their failings…Ma’am!”
“And you never thought to run this ‘plan’,” Lt Lewis sneered showing how much contempt she had for Burns, “by me and did you really think that Philips’ squad could make four miles in three hours over such rough terrain?”
“Ma’am,” Burns replied without hesitation, “it didn’t look that rough on the map and you did say that I had to show more leadership, Ma’am!”
“I’ll deal with you later,” Lewis snapped, “now get back to your platoon, Recruit!”
Turning away from the recruit, Lt Lewis kicked at the dirt and cursed herself for a fool; she had indeed told Burns that he had to show more leadership and initiative. But he should have still run this insane plan by her first. If he had she’d have said ‘no’, at least not the route that Burns had suggested. Yes from a quick glance at the map the route chosen didn’t look too bad, but; the area through which Philips had been sent was cut up by small rivers and streams. No doubt Philips and the women in her squad had been hung up on crossing the fast flowing streams in this area, the chances were that they’d not turn up for hours yet.
If Burns would have come to her with his plan she’d have ‘suggested’ that Philips and her squad be sent across the terrain to the east of the platoons route and perhaps reinforce her with one of the male squads. But he hadn’t and now she had a squad lost somewhere in the forest. Taking off her helmet, Lewis ran her hand over her short hair, she turned to face First Sergeant Ballard.
“Okay,” Lewis sighed wearily, “looks like we’ve got a lost squad, better contact Fort Knight and get some choppers in the air.”
“Shall I get some of the recruits organised to form a search party?” Ballard asked.
“Yeah,” Lewis nodded, she was not looking forward to telling Colonel Thornbush that there were eight recruits lost in the woods, “yeah, tell off a couple of squads from our platoon, people you can trust, okay?”
Ballard nodded, knowing exactly what Lewis meant; anyone but Burns or his friends.
“After I’ve spoken to the Colonel I’ll ask Lt Woodbridge if he can lend us some of his platoon to help us search…and Jim,” Lewis gave Ballard a tired smile, “mind if I move in with you when they throw me out of the army?”
“Won’t come to that, L-t,” Jim Ballard smiled, “but if it does, well,” he shrugged, “I expect I can find somewhere for you to lay your head…y’know, on the couch or something…”
“Gee thanks,” Lewis almost smiled but quickly sobered; not only was her military career in tatters she also had a lost squad out there somewhere, “whatever, lets get this search organised.”
Just as she was turning away from Ballard to go and find Lt Woodbridge and ask him for some people to help search for her missing squad, Lewis heard the unmistakeable sound of a Hummer coming down the track towards her. Looking in the direction of the sound she saw the vehicle bounce along the uneven track towards her before it came to a halt a few yards away from where she was standing. Turning to see who was out in the wilderness on a Saturday afternoon, Lt Lewis watched as two figures, one a male captain and the other a female lieutenant climbed out of the vehicle and came towards her; it was only as they got closer that she noticed the Military Intelligence flashes on the sleeves of their camouflaged jackets.
“Damn,” Lewis sighed quietly as the two officers approached her, “this is all I need.”0=0=0=0The Forest.
Ducking under the creature’s razor sharp claws, Faith lashed out with her bayonet, she felt the blade bite into the monster’s flesh and heard its roar of pain as warm, bright blood spurted out over her hand. Jumping back from the monster, Faith dodged left and right as the creature tried to catch her in its deadly embrace. Dancing out of reach of the thing, Faith reconsidered her earlier impressions of the monster; yes it was big and those claws and teeth looked real sharp but… But now she’d decided to face it and take it on it didn’t seem to be moving so fast, neither was it as strong as she’d at first thought. It wasn’t going to be easy but she was feeling more confident about taking this thing down.
Dodging a lashing claw strike that would have taken her face off, Faith buried the blade of her bayonet in the creature’s stomach and cut a six inch long gash in the creature’s flesh before backing off again. The Monster screamed with pain as blood oozed from its wounds and it started to stagger away from her. Seeing that her attacks where having some effect gave Faith confidence to press home another attack on the now reeling monster.
This time instead of attacking with her bayonet, Faith dummied with her knife and then lashed out with a side kick to the creature’s knee. Feeling and hearing the monster’s bones break under her foot, Faith cried out with joy as the creature went down. Her cry of victory however was soon turned to one of pain as the monster struck out at her. Its claws easily sliced through her jacket and cut open her flesh as they raked along her ribs. Groaning with pain Faith doubled up as she hit the ground blood soaking into her ripped uniform.
Pushing itself up on its good leg, the beast dragged itself over to where Faith lay momentarily out of action. Pushing itself up until it was more or less standing on its one good leg the creature roared in triumph and raised its clawed hand to bringing sweeping down to rip out Faith’s valiant heart. As it half knelt half stood there in victory the creature cried out in surprise as a stone hit it full in the face. Distracted by the hit, the monster clutched at its bleeding nose and lost all interest in Faith as more fist sized rocks hit its head and upper body.
Screaming like primitives Judy, Nina and Brandi advanced on the monster hurling the stones they’d picked up from the edge of the ravine. Seeing her chance to bring this fight to a successful conclusion, Faith struck out with her bayonet. Ignoring the pain from her side she buried the blade of the bayonet up to its hilt in the monster’s belly thrusting upwards under it ribs. Falling backwards and screaming in pain the monster received an extra large rock in the mouth which knocked out several of it long sharp fangs.
Stabbing again and again, Faith gave the creature no time to recover as it fell on its back. Now that the monster was down Judy, Nina and Brandi fell on it like cave-women striking at its head with stone filled hands while Faith climbed on top of it and stabbed it again and again in the chest with her bayonet. They beat on the creature for sometime before they realised that it had stopped moving or trying to fight back. Exhausted they fell to the ground panting from their exertions.
“I thought I told you to run,” Faith groaned as she rolled off the bloody, stinking corpse.
“Hey, man,” Nina gasped as she dropped the stone she was holding and looked at her blood stained hand; she’d never thought she was capable of such savagery, but a friend had been in danger so all bets were off, “couldn’t leave you to fight that thing by yourself.”
“Yeah,” Judy agreed as she wiped blood from her hands onto the legs of her fatigues, “we had to save you from getting your butt kicked, you’ve got to be Sergeant Major of the Army or something…we couldn’t let you die here.”
“She’s right, Faith,” Brandi crawled over to Faith, “I wanna be fat an’ old and tell my grand-kids that I knew you some day…hey let me see that wound.”
Rolling Faith onto her back, Brandi pulled pieces of torn uniform away from the long cuts on Faith’s ribs.
“Crap, man,” Brandi sighed, “that looks bad, does it hurt?”
“Not so much,” Faith admitted; she wasn’t being brave the wounds didn’t actually hurt that much.
“Better wash it and get a dressing on it all the same,” Brandi reached for her canteen, as she looked up at Judy and Nina, “anyone else hurt?”
After a short pause both young women shook their heads, all the blood on their skin and uniforms belonged to the monster.
“Good,” Brandi started to remove the remains of Faith’s jacket, “come and help me with Faith.”0=0=0=0Epilogues.Colonel Brittles’ office, Fort Bragg, some days later.
“…Lt DeWindt and myself recovered what remained of the creature’s body and had it taken my chopper to the Marine base in San Diego and then by Air Force transport to our facility here,” Captain Miller explained.
Sitting here in the Colonel’s office on comfortable seats was so different from fighting his way through the forests of Oregon. His choice of specialising in Military Intelligence was partly so that he could avoid the rough and tumble of a normal military career. He did in fact enjoy being in the army and working in intelligence especially, he was good at it and it was because of that very expertise that he’d worked so hard to develop that he’d been recruited into this strange, mysterious little unit.
“And the recruits involved?” Colonel Brittles’ question dragged Miller back from his musings to the reality of the colonel’s office.
“The staff at Fort Knight and the local media were given the usual cover story,” Miller explained.
“What, gangs on PCP?” Colonel Brittles smiled.
“No Sir,” Miller laughed gently at the colonel’s little joke, “rabid bear attack.” Miller paused before expanding on his explanation, “We spread the story that an exceptionally large bear had caught rabies and had attacked the Scouts and the party of recruits in the forest, we didn’t mention anything about our own people that had been killed or the Ranger team that shot what we now think was a Bigfoot.”
“Hmm, just as well,” agreed the colonel, “what about our people, Captain?”
“Usual cover stories about classified missions and closed casket funerals,” Miller explained, “as far as the families are concerned their loved ones died defending their country.”
“As they did, Captain,” Brittles nodded his head slowly before repeating, “as they did.”
Colonel Brittles hated having to lie about the deaths of brave soldiers to their families but for now it seemed like the best thing to do.
“And what about these four young women that actually killed the creature?” Colonel Brittles asked.
“Returned to Fort Knight after medical treatment and debrief,” Captain Miller continued, “they were given a slightly different cover story to everyone else…”
“I would think so,” Brittles smiled, “they got up close and personnel to that thing, the bear story wouldn’t wash with them.”
“We still went with the bear, but this time we told them that it was suffering from some highly infectious disease that could wipe out the entire bear population in the northwest.”
“And they bought that?” Brittles sounded surprised.
“Yes, Sir,” Miller shrugged, “none of them were exactly ‘country girls’ and I was very convincing.”
“What did it cost us?” Brittles asked quietly.
“All things considered Sir, we got off cheaply,” Miller announced, “an extra weeks leave to recover from their ordeal and the choice of MOS training in any branch of the service that would take them.”
“Lucky they were recruits,” Brittles mused, “if they’d been more experienced soldiers we might not have got away with it so easily…however, keep an eye on these four will you just in case they change their minds and tell their story to the papers or something.”
“Already done, Sir,” Miller acknowledged.
“Good, good,” Colonel Brittles glanced at the folders on his desk before looking back up at Miller, “Captain, in a couple of month’s time I’m being promoted to General…”
“Congratulations, Sir,” Miller replied dutifully, not that Colonel Brittles didn’t deserve the promotion, it was just that Miller had a nasty feeling what the soon to be general was going to ask him.
“Thank-you,” Brittles nodded, “I’m to set up a special taskforce to deal with the HST threat and I’d be needing a good intelligence officer, I was wondering if you and Lt DeWindt would stay on as part of my staff?”
“Oh boy…” Miller breath softly.0=0=0=0Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Standing in the shower, Faith scrubbed vigourously at her hands getting the oil and dirt from under and around her nails. This was the one down side to her training as a driver and mechanic, it was so dirty…and it wasn’t clean dirt like mud, but oil and grease and…well crap in general.
Satisfied that she had got her hands as clean as they were likely to be, Faith let the water wash the soap off her skin as she ran her hands over her ribs where the bear had scratched her. The wounds had healed up quickly and the scars were fading away to nothing, obviously she’d not been as badly hurt as she and her friends had thought she was, not that she was complaining. When that bear had hit her she’d felt like it had ripped open her side and broken all her ribs on that side.
Stepping out of the shower, she wrapped a towel around herself and went over to look at herself in one of the mirrors over the washbasins. The barracks at Fort Eustis were more up to date than the ones at Fort Knight and there were separate blocks for female and male personnel. Taking another towel she started to dry her hair, as she did so she wondered what her buddies from Fort Knight where doing right now. Judy had gone into ‘Public Affairs’ and had already appeared on a couple of Army recruiting posters. Brandi had gone off to train as a combat medic while Nina had gone into Army Aviation. That Captain Miller hadn’t been lying when he’d said they could have any job they were suited for and the extra weeks’ leave was cool too.
Satisfied that her hair was a dry as she was going to get it with out using her dryer (Faith had let her hair grow out until it was nearly the same length as it had been before she’d enlisted), she headed back to her room. Here at Eustis you were allowed off base in the evenings and at the weekends and there was a club she wanted to check out with her new buddies.
Life in the Army, Faith had decided, was cool; she had everything she needed and she had friends that would look out for her as she looked out for them. This was just as well because she’d already been attacked by some freak in a fright mask while she was walking home one night; but she’d fought him off and reported the incident to the MP’s. Other than the odd freak attack, Faith decided she liked the army life. Having signed on for three years she was already thinking of extending her service, she’d see how things went before she made her final decision but for now at least she was here to stay.The End.Author’s Notes.
Once again thank-you to everyone who took the time to read and review my story.
I have to say that this was probably the hardest Faith in the Army story to write. Mainly because it was a prequel and I had to be careful not to contradict anything written in the later, already posted stories, while still keeping it interesting.
Okay, the next Fita story is; ‘I’m Not a Loser’ which carries on from where we left off in ‘A Walk on the Wild Side’. This will appear in a week or two’s time. After that I’m posting something non-Faith before getting back to the ‘Prettiest Chief Warrant Officer in the US Army’ and some proper soldiering.