I spent a long time staring at the body of the man I’d strangled to death. I didn’t feel sick. I glanced at the bodies of the three man who’d entered the forest with me and felt glad not to be one of them. After a while I began to get a detached feeling, like an out of body experience. That was the point where I knew I had to start moving or I’d be a zombie’d sitting target for any of the American’s friends who were out there.
His gun lay close by, where it had dropped from his grasp as he passed out. I picked it up and studied it, but took a minute to realise what was strange about it. It was brand new. There was almost no wear on it, except where it had hit the ground as he thrashed around. It still had the thin sheen of oil it had been wearing when it left the factory.
Studying the body I could now tell that the webbing he wore was new as well. The pouches that hung off it held spare magazines, boxes of ammunition and a tracking device. I rolled him over and, without looking him in the face, removed the webbing. After a bit of adjustment it fit me. I reloaded the gun and surveyed the hollow.
It was obvious where we had entered from, the path came down from the trees, ran around a small boulder then headed out again. A shallow gouge, and the wounded tree, showed where our attacker had fallen from. Crouching, and with the gun at the ready, I climbed to where he had been standing.
I hadn’t expected to find anybody at the top of the short climb, but a little paranoia was appropriate. I scanned the trees and soon found the direction he had come from. Branches had been broken and the ground was disturbed, he had run to the vantage point so he could be waiting for us. I turned tracking device on, it indicated that something was slightly to the right of where he’d come from. I started to trace his steps back.
The paranoia resurfaced and I tried to keep the gun at the ready. That didn’t work with the tracker in one hand, until I found how to mount it where the sights would normally go.
The pod had been slowed by a parachute, which had tangled in the branches to hold it upright with the tip jammed between roots. This wasn’t a bomb or a fuel tank, it had panels which opened along its length to reveal the cargo inside. Weapons, lots of them. I approached slowly and checked inside. There were more submachine guns like the one I carried, grenades, slabs of what was probably C4, sniper rifles, webbing and lots of ammunition.
I’d carried a hunting rifle early in the conflict, and become quite good with it. It would be nice to have another one, so I shouldered one and grabbed a few boxes of ammunition.
The beacon had to be somewhere inside the pod. Not the nose, because that would hit the ground first. Somewhere in the tail then. The skin was thin, and the pod was hollow all the way to the end. I craned my head round and stared up the inside. There was a red light up there. It took a bit of fussing to get the gun in and aimed, then I let off a couple of bursts. They were horribly loud in the confined space, but the light went off. The tracker wasn’t detecting anything any more.
I made myself absent, jogging back to the clearing as fast as possible. It was only when I was back with the bodies that I realised I should have tagged the location with my GPS.