Sabine, hiking fast. Torn by brambles, whipped by fir branches.
When she hears the crack of a twig she drops and lies flat. screened by dense-growing ferns.
Two more men. She smells them before she sees them. They stink of fear-sweat. And gun grease. And nylon cloth. And fear-sweat again. Sweat is shining on their grease paint darkened hands and faces.
They’re in the same dark Ultra paratrooper Nazi type uniforms as the previous team, gliding through the primaeval forest.
Sabine peers at them, through the fronds of the lush fern that screens her, as they move softly in the fog. In the diminishing rain and the reek of metal and sweat.
They’re holding their light automatic rifles at ready and are using signs to “speak” to each other.
It seems they sense Sabine might be near but they are looking in the wrong direction.
Sabine hears it: a rattle of branches. A swishing in the ferns off to her left.
She shuts her eyes. It sounds like a deer. Yes. Probably. That.
The Ultra agents are too stupid to suspect it is a deer based on the gliding rush and the tapping of fern fronds — how could it be a human being? Even a little girl? It’s too swift, too sudden, too glissando, like musical notes played by an accomplished musician.
The agents are stupid, and fearful, and jumpy. They make tense hand signals to each other and jog double time toward the glissing rushing ferny sound.
To head it off. Off at the pass. Idiots.
Tense, their eyes wide and staring out of the smears of black grease they’ve layered on for camoflauge.
Sabine wants to laugh. To laugh herself sick. She doesn’t. She rolls over very quietly, unslings the rifle from her right shoulder, and lays it flat beneath the fern. Then she rolls back onto her belly, meantime reaching down to grasp the hilt of her combat knife, which slides from its sheath in total silence.
She lies there, her breasts pressed flat, her heart beating. One of the man hurries past her only three yards distant — she sees the black clad legs moving briskly.
He’s jog-walking with his rifle pointed at the direction of the deer-gliding-sound.
Sabine’s eyes move. She takes in the location of the other man. He disappears behind a clump of pines. He’s about twenty yards off.
Silence. Silence, except for the drip drip of rain water from the massive branches above, and the shrills of a few distant birds.
Sabine adjusts her grip on the knife. Reverse grip. She braces her elbows.
The Ultra agent is now seven yards off, with his back to Sabine.
She pushes off the rain soaked leaves and runs fast and silently until she is directly behind the Ultra agent. She taps his elbow. He spins, eyes wide, and tries to hit her with the rifle barrel. Sabine ducks it and flows to his right side and with one smooth movement leaps onto his shoulders, wrapping her legs around his neck. Then she drops her body to one side — in the same direction the agent was moving — speeding up his spin to a whirl. He loses his footing on the mossy earth and they’re airborne. Sabine lands first on her left shoulder with the tight grip of her legs on the man’s neck, the momentum of the fall tossing him over her. He comes down on his back on a decaying log that shatters. He grunts. Sabine releases her leg grip and rolls onto his chest, smashing down with her knees as he gurgles and tries to scream. Whips her knife edge across his throat just under the ear twice, once for each artery.
She rolls off the twitching body, snatching up the rifle one handed and spinning as she rises. Putting her forefinger into the trigger guard, she brings up her weapon and sights the other Ultra man, who has turned at the noise and is standing there looking amazed in a patch of sunlight. She presses the trigger three times, hitting the man twice in the chest and once in the wide open mouth. He falls.
Sabine runs to him, keeping the rifle steady, looking for movement. But he’s dead. Sprawled backward, blood pattering from the back of his skull. Sabine lowers the rifle and jogs back to the first man. He’s dead, too, his blind eyes staring at the canopy. She tosses the smoking rifle on his chest.
Ultra: 0. Sabine: 4.