Avery made good on her word, and we saw no more of the clawed creatures that night. What confused me was how she could see better than me in the dark, without a helmet or any visible NV gear. I let it go though, since I was now on task and focussed.
We had to bust Lieutenant McAndrew from an enemy position of unknown location, with an unknown amount of hostiles guarding it. Too many unknowns for my liking, but the pace Avery was setting was making it difficult to think and run at the same time. She was tireless, and showed no sign of fatigue. Unfortunately, I'd been on the move non-stop for a good 24 hours now, and it was getting to be too much.
"Sergeant, I can't go any further."
Luckily, he was just as tired as I was.
"Avery, hang tight. Me and the Private need some rest."
She swished her long brown hair irritably, but stopped nonetheless.
I rolled my pack off my shoulders and onto the floor and slumped back against a tree. I was getting pretty bored of the scenery. Trees and bushes were only fun for so long.
I drifted off thinking about beaches and mountains...
I woke up to Walsh shaking me roughly by the shoulders.
"Wake the hell up, Private, we've been spotted!"
Spotted? My brain unfogged immediately and I jumped up, swinging my pack onto my shoulders and my rifle into my hands. Avery sprinted out of the trees and stopped breathlessly in front of Walsh.
"Sir, they have a landing craft."
"Well, if we can commandeer it, we can make it to McAndrew a hell of a lot faster than we could on foot."
Walsh looked apprehensive. "I don't think it's a good idea."
I decided to speak up. "Sarge, we're getting nowhere fast without a map or a better means of transport."
He looked from me to Avery, then shook his head; defeated. "Where have they parked the ship?"
"There's a rise not far to the East that's free of trees, they've landed it there. What's the plan?"
Walsh regained some of his earlier composure at being asked for orders. "You and Private Phoenix will take point, I'll come in with the heavy gun when you've drawn them away from the ship so we don't damage it by accident."
I was somewhat surprised at being included in the battleplan, even though I made up a third of our squad. Avery looked at me briefly before sprinting off back into the forest.
"Try not to die on me out there, Private."
I saluted sloppily before running off into the trees after Avery.
"15+ foot mobiles detected to your East."
Well, if we each took five, there wouldn't be many left. I could see Avery's lithe body speeding ahead just in front of me, then out of sight. I really needed to hurry up, or she'd be out there unsupported against 15 Entity soldiers.
I heard an animalistic scream as I neared the tree line, and I burst through to find 3 dead Entity soldiers, with another spasming on the floor in a pool of blood.
I looked up. Avery was a feral blur of limbs. She was moving so fast it was difficult to see her amongst the silver-clad soldiers, who were utterly broken and retreating. It had taken her what, 25 or so seconds to defeat a full sized squad?
I simply watched as she mercilessly butchered them, spinning the claw blade and her own knife in sweeping circles of death. It was like watching a train-crash, horrific beyond belief, but I couldn't look away.
When the last one dropped and spluttered to the ground, I became aware that Walsh was stood behind me. He too was enthralled by Avery's performance.
He noticed I was looking at him, and simply shrugged.
"I've never seen anything like that..."
Avery finished wiping down her claw blade, turned around and winked promiscuously.
"Who wants to drive?"