The young lieutenant shades his eyes against the glare. "They're probably lurking in those trees. It's got the best cover and vantage point on the path. If we flush them out, it would work to our favour - force them out by the river." He turns to the sergeant. "Sergeant Hendricks, Jones and Carlson are probably our best men for that."
The sergeant grins. "Sir, are we going to bother to run this one by the captain?"
The lieutenant flushes. "Whoops. I keep forgetting."
" 'S a good idea anyway. Tell him and if he doesn't do it, we can do it anyway and pretend it was an accident." Hendricks puts his fag-end behind his ear. "The night one was good, where we managed to ambush that lot when they were trying to ambush us."
The communists had tried to get them when they were sleeping - overpower a few guards and bob's your uncle, which is what would've happened if they'd been as unprepared as the captain. The captain had thought a posted guard was quite sufficient, thankyou, when they'd voiced their doubts. However, Lieutenant Pevensie had been just as uneasy about their position as some of the older hands and it hadn't taken too much persuading to get the sarge to post some of the men along the trail to watch for possible night attack. Which meant everyone ended up being alive to see their morning cuppa, rather than what the communists had planned.
"I'd try to get more stuff past him by making him think it was his idea," Sarge Hendricks continues, adding "Remember, you're not captain yet."
"I do overstep my bounds a little," The lieutenant admits.
"It's okay, lads're agreed that you're shaping up well. Must've been a right bastard on the playground, though, I reckon. Some've your ideas're downright mean."
"But effective, I hope," he grins. "And if you think I'm bad, you should meet my brother."
"All clear, I think, Pevensie," Captain Dawkins says, turning back to the men. That's when Lieutenant Pevensie raises his weapon and shoots at something over the Captain's shoulder. "Steady on, old man, can't have itchy trigger fingers here. I know this is your first posting. We'll soon calm those nerves," he says, patting him on the shoulder reassuringly.
"Sir. Sorry, sir," Pevensie says, ducking his head and moving past him. He's clearly trying to keep a good front up in front of the men.
The Captain nods approvingly. "Once he gets over shooting at shadows, he might shape up well," he comments to the sergeant.
Sarge Hendricks coughs. "Might want to turn round, sir." The Captain turns, and blanches slightly. There's the body of a CT collapsed in the bush, bullethole in its forehead. "Think he's already shaping up, sir."
Corporal Lloyd whistles as he passes the body. "What I want to know, Sarge, is what we've got on our hands."
Hendricks shrugs. "Decent head on his shoulders, practical, nerves of solid rock, cares that the men survive and doesn't give stupid orders. Fine by me."
"Okay, can't fault that. What I want to know is where he bloody learnt to do what he did yesterday."
The sun was blazing down on the patrol. Mid-afternoon and no signs of it letting up, everyone trying to keep a lookout, even though it was dead quiet. All you could hear was the loud buzz of insects. Even with the nerves, you couldn't help but be lulled into a bit of stupor after an hour or so of tramping through long grass. That's when the CTs bloody rose from the grass in front of them.
"Camouflage is good, I'll give them that," Corporal Lloyd comments, bringing up his gun and firing.
To his left, there's cursing. The lieutenant's gun's jammed. And there's a CT coming straight for him.
Lloyd curses, expecting him to freeze. Even if he's handled himself well so far, he's still green. He'll be dead meat if he can't get to him in time, and losing an officer this early always looks bad. However, instead of freezing, the lieutenant shifts his grip on his rifle, bringing the butt up and using it as a club to block the attack, bringing it back across the enemy's face on the backswing, and his attacker goes down like a felled tree. Lieutenant doesn't stand back like you'd expect, but shoves the butt into the man's stomach, then pulls a knife and stabs him in the throat. Right through the big vein. Blood goes all over his hands and face. He jerks the knife out, turns and throttles the attacker firing at Miller as he stabs him in the kidneys.
"Should've watched his back," the lieutenant says grimly as Lloyd comes face to face with him. "Duck," he adds shortly. Lloyd does, just missing a rifle butt coming for his head that the lieutenant blocks with his rifle, twisting it and smashing the CT in the face. Knocks the rifle out of his hand, knife to follow up and grabs the rifle, shooting the CT for good measure to make sure he stays down.
It's over nearly as fast as it started, and by some miracle, they're still mostly standing. "Check for injuries," the lieutenant raps out curtly to Lloyd. He moves off, checking on the men, hauling them up if they're fine, and checking that their attackers're dead. If they're not, the lieutenant slides a knife between their ribs to finish them off, expression grim. Once he's done, the lieutenant straightens.
"Looks like we've lost one. Someone take his ID and possessions. Clarke, go through his pack for anything else useful. Everyone else, strip the dead. Knives, ammunition and water especially," He wipes his knife off on a dead man's body, picking up the spare rifle and sticking the knife in his belt.
"Um, sir?" Clarke says hesitantly. They're not going to argue. No-one's going to argue after all that. "Might want to clean up a bit."
"I don't trust any bugger who fights like that or does any of that without knowing them from the bloody cradle. And if it's an officer with no experience, I really don't trust 'em," Lloyd says. "Officer training school does not bloody teach you to do that."
"Got a point, Bob. Good to have someone like that on your side, though. Be thankful for what you've got. We could've been stuck with some lad still clinging to the spit and polish like it was his teddy bear."
"Yeah, well, we'll see, Sarge," Lloyd mutters, shifting his pack. "You noticed he's got that knack for getting the lads to listen when he talks?"
"Think they call that charisma, which you're just jealous you don't have," Hendricks says. "Useful for an officer who knows what he's doing. This one listens, Lloyd. Be fucking thankful."