Pfc Ward manages to survive

Peaking over the lip of the trench, Ron saw the next attack come toward him. 10 of the enemy, in a straggled line, dodging from cover to cover. If they knew he was on his own and pretty much out of ammunition, they could walk towards him and take the position without any problem. Ron lifted the stock of the rifle to his cheek, and put the centre of the gun sight on the closest of the approaching enemy. Gently, he squeezed the trigger, and the rifle bucked in his grip. 100 metres away, one of the enemy dropped dead, a neat hole now in his forehead. Quickly, Ron re-sighted, and prepared to use the last round in the rifle. He scanned the enemy, looking for the best target. He was amazed how calm he was, as he watched them start to close in on him. THERE! The Sergeant in charge of the group had given himself away by openly giving orders, as he directed the attack.

“Bad move matey, you can have my last shot…”

Again, but for the last time, the rifle bucked in his grip, and the Sergeant seemed to jump as the bullet slammed into his chest. Leaderless, the remaining enemy paused, and waited to see who would be next to be picked off by the marksmen up ahead.

“He isn’t doing bad so far. That head shot was good, at a moving target too. And his last shot took out the most experienced member of the group. Pity it was his last bullet though. Have you finished with that cake yet?”

Aristomache handed the cake back to Adam, not taking her eyes off the scene unfolding below. Now this was entertainment! Much better than anything the humans could ever hope to do in places like Hollywood. She raised her knees to her chin, and hugged her arms around her legs. She dug the heels of her combat boots into the earth below her. Adam had excelled himself with the cake. He always made brilliant fruit cakes, but that one had also had a touch of ginger in it. Lovely.

“You still think he is going to make it? You don’t want to revise the bet before it’s too late?”

“…nup…” munch “…I sdill fink he will do woll…” munch munch.

“Do you have to talk with your mouth full?”

Adam swallowed the last mouthful of cake.

“Sorry, but what I was saying was, I still think he will do well.”

He wiped the crumbs from his lap. He looked up just in time to see the enemy about to storm the trench…

Ron managed to brain the first enemy that rushed him. It was a lucky strike, true, but better lucky than dead, as his Corporal used to say. He knew that if he stayed in the trench, he would be a sitting target, and jumped up and out at the first chance. As he did, a second enemy made a lunge for him, the bayonet on his rifle looked huge from this perspective. Keeping his head, he left it to the last possible instant before dodging to one side, and a quick thrust of his own knife, and that enemy was out of the fight too. 4 down, how many more left?

“Oh, I liked that, that was quite good”

Adam smiled, casting a sideways glance at his cousin. She loved a good scrap.

Ron stood there, surprisingly detached from the moment, ready to die. He had acquitted himself well so far. Hopefully, he could take a few more with him. The enemy had realised he was out of ammunition, and that they outnumbered him. They wanted to have some sport with him before he died. They surrounded him, and decided that shooting this annoying little upstart would be too easy. This one would need to die in hand to hand combat. 2 of them separated from the circle, and drew wickedly sharp knives from sheaths on their waists.

“Ok, last chance about the bet, its been almost 4 minutes…”

Adam shook his head. He had a good feeling about this human. The way he wasn’t backing down, he may pull this off…

The first one feinted to Ron’s left, trying to draw his attention away from the one on the opposite side of him. Ron trusted his instinct, and instead of just moving to his left, he spun, swinging his arm up and catching the enemy full in the face with the edge of the shovel as he tried to attack from his blind side. A reassuring ‘thunk’ and ‘splutch’ matched the vibration in his arm, telling him he had connected fully…

“Now THAT was good!”

…continuing the spin, Ron slashed at the enemy at the same moment he thrust forward. He felt the impact of the enemy blade as it bit into his side, at the same time as his own knife connected. He staggered backwards, feeling the warm blood as it started to seep out of the jagged hole in his side. 4 left.

“That’s 5 minutes Aristomache. You got all my chores over your birthday. Unlucky. You know, I think you may be singing too…”

“No chance. He has been lucky so far, but that last one, he hit home then. The others could stand back and just watch him die if they wanted to.”

“True, but you know what humans are like. They are not going to be happy unless they get their revenge now. He has beaten 6 of them. 4 in hand to hand. I’m impressed.”

Ron felt his knees starting to go weak. His hearing started to become muffled, as if he had water in his ears after a swim. He saw another of the enemy move toward him, but when he tried to swing the shovel, it has suddenly gotten heavier, and the swing was slow, and easily avoided. Acting on impulse, he altered his grip on the handle, and threw it like an axe at the spectator on his right. Too surprised by the sudden change of tactic, the enemy soldier could only watch in shock as the shovel spun end over end straight towards him, and ended up buried in his chest. 3 left. The one who had dodged the first swing of the shovel, made his presence felt with a kick to Ron’s back, sending him sprawling onto his face. Rolling over, Ron focused his eyes through the pain as number 8 dived at him, hands open and outstretched in a move to strangle the life out of the enemy soldier who just wouldn’t die.

“Well, that looks like that then. He didn’t do too badly, I will concede that.”

Adam sat with his legs folded, elbows on his knees. His eyes were still fixed on the human. A look of concern was replaced with a smile, and with a subtle nod, he brought Aristomache’s attention back to the scene being played out below.

“Oh no way! He cant be! Who is this guy? The Sisters of Fate told you about him?!”

Ron pushed the dead body off him just in time to see number 9 start to lunge toward him, with his bayonet pointed at his chest. Blood from number 8 covered his arm, the impact of the body as it had landed on him as his knife bit home had driven the wind from him. The look of surprise in that guys eyes had proved he hadn’t noticed the knife angled upwards as he made the dive onto him. Number 9 was closing in, and he only just managed to roll out of the way of the bayonet in time. He heard it thud into the earth behind his back…

“Ok Aristomache, you ready to sing at your birthday? That human is acting on sheer will power and instinct now. In 20 seconds time, he will have proven a worthy addition for my militia.”

“Shush, stop talking will you, I want to watch this!”

…rolling back onto his back, Ron pinned the rifle below him, and in the same move, pushed his arm upwards. The knife did its deadly work again, between the ribs of number 9, and he collapsed onto Ron. Number 10 had decided enough was enough, and started to unsling his rifle from over his shoulder. He had decided to shoot Ron and be done with it. If a medic was called, then some of the others may live to regret not shooting him in the first place.

Ron knew that he had barely a few seconds left before a bullet with his name on it found him. Whether it was training, or self preservation, or just the stubborn bloody mindedness of someone who refused to die quietly, he would never really know. It was like he was watching someone else through his own eyes. He watched as his blood soaked hand pulled the combat knife from the dead body’s waist from on top of him. Throwing it gently up in the air to spin it around, he caught it by the blade, and threw it with his remaining strength at enemy number 10. The knife hit home into his chest, at the same moment that number 10 pulled the trigger, and Ron felt the impact of the bullet rock him where he lay, and blackness finally washed over him.

“Ok, I am impressed. I didn’t think he would even get that far, but he did put up a good fight right till the very end. Shame he had to die really”

“Aristomache, you still haven’t quite got that instinct yet have you. Cant you feel it? He isn’t dead. Almost, but not quite. Come on, lets get down there before any Wraiths turn up.”

Scrambling down the slope, Adam and Aristomache reach the place where Private First Class Ron Ward had fought to his death. Well, almost to his death.

Pulling the dead body of number 9 off Ron, Adam looked at the wound the bullet had made, when number 10 had missed. Getting a knife in the chest will put you off your aim…he pulls out a sand glass timer, and turns it over. Shaking Ron awake, he has 3 minutes to explain who he is, what he is, and what he is offering Ron…

Ron opens his eyes, and wonders how the religious leaders could have been so wrong with their descriptions of Angels. Ok, the girl is really quite pretty, if you ignore the barb wire…and the bandolier of bullets…but the bloke…he would scare the hell out of anyone who saw him…

“Are you Angels?…”

“Ummm, nope. Now please shut up and listen. I have 2 minutes and 50 seconds in which you have to make a decision. I am a War Spirit, my name is Adam, this is my cousin, Aristomache…”

“Hi there, human…”

“…you will die in the next few minutes, but I watched the fact that you wouldn’t give in just now, when almost all others would’ve . I think you have what it takes to be a War Spirit too. It’ll mean you live, but will only live to fight. You will never be able to return to your family, or your friends, but, you could live for thousands of years, if you’re good enough to survive. I will train you in every aspect of warfare, in every combat discipline there is. The only restraint will be your force of will. The choice is yours…you have 2 minutes…”

Aristomache stood next to Adam, mildly bored with the whole situation. She wondered if he had any more of that cake left…

The End

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