As we walked, I told Walsh all that had happened and what I'd seen since we'd been shot down. He wasn't as interested with the excavation as I was, but I knew that wasn't really his forte. Walsh was more occupied with making things explode than figuring out why they were there in the first place.
"So what happened to you then?" I asked, after finishing my story.
"Well I hit ground and landed, like I said, on my head. I must've been unconcious for the best part of the time you were rompin' around, since I was only awake for about 10 minutes before the bullets started flyin'."
"Did one of the patrols find you, then?"
"Nawh, I found them," he laughed. "three of 'em dropped 'afore they knew I was there."
"Well, that was when they started firing back. I thought it best if I didn't get too shot up on my firs' day."
I nodded. We had been walking and talking for the best part of an hour, and the sun was starting to set.
"Y'know, I reckon we best keep looking in the dark, so we can hunker down in the day, where they're more likely to spot us."
He may not have looked incredibly intelligent, but he was certainly well trained.
"Yeah, we've got more of an advantage at night." I indicated my dark green, slightly shimmering armour.
"Y'all don't have to talk to me like I was born yes'erday."
I hadn't intended too, but when I thought about it, I was being slightly patronising.
"Sorry, sorry. I'm just tired and hungry." I regretted the words as soon as they had escaped my mouth, expecting another child comment. Instead, he grumbled in agreement, swung his pack to the ground and pulled out a ration pack.
"Liquid steak, just like mama used to make. Pity she wasn't a great cook, right?" He nudged me, and I coaxed up a laugh from somewhere. I may as well let him have his fun.
I followed his lead, taking out a similar meal. Liquified roast beef. While it wasn't particularly enjoyable, it did fill me up and make me feel slightly less tired and irritable.
"Alrighty, let's get going. The sooner we find 'em, the better."
As we walked, the forest began to change from the tall, column-like trees to shorter, thinner trees. They were of the same silvery-green colour though, and they were still immensely tall. More and more, the forest floor became inhabited with all number of small bushes and flora. It was starting to look more like a real forest.
The setting sun threw long shadows across the ground, making it difficult to see much.
"Switch on yer' helmet torch, Phoenix, s'not dark enough for NV gear yet."
I didn't respond, but I did turn on my torch. I then faltered and stepped back. Lying half concealed by a bush was a silver body. I brought up my rifle and scanned around, but I couldn't see anything.
"HELENA, anything about?"
"Thermal scans are showing nothing."
Walsh withdrew a small laser pistol from his hip and made his way slowly to the body. He aimed at it, then nudged it gently with the toe of his boot. It didn't move. He then stooped down, grabbed the being's foot in one hand and dragged it clear of the bush.
"S'dead." he clarified. Not that it wasn't obvious. It was missing its head, and was coated in blood.
"There's another." Walsh whispered, pointing further into the brush. Sure enough, another decapitated Entity soldier was propped up against the tree. This one had taken more of a beating though, and large slashes across its chest told the story of a grisly battle. I touched my glove to the blood on the tree.
"It's still warm..."
A twig snapped somewhere behind me. I spun around.
"What'd you see?"
I flashed the torch around.
"Nothing. I swear I heard something though."
The darkness swallowed my torch beam, and I stared into it until my eyes hurt.
"This place is giving me the willies. C'mon Private, lets move."
I obliged willingly, and we both carried on, running this time. I ignored the silhouettes of more bodies strewn around.
"What do you think could have killed all these guys?"
"That's the worst part, Private. I haven't the faintest."
That was disconcerting. If even Walsh was scared...
The sun disappeared over the far horizon. Darkness moved in and claimed the night.