Drexler closed with Ohkawa first. The little Asian was the worst shot Drexler had ever seen. Drexler’s heightened sight allowed her to see the bullets being fired at her part the air. The fires that raged near them gave the ripples stunning ethereal rainbows. Drexler always loved that effect; that’s why she allowed people to shoot at her. What was life without fun?
She would save Ohkawa for torture last. The ones that cracked the easiest were always the best to torture with false promises of freedom. The brawnier woman, she realized her name was Delford only because the Asian kept screaming at her for guidance, was a hard ass. Hard asses were no fun to break. Those delusional or stupidly brave eventually did, and their final screams were actually less pleasing than the ones that folded under her punishment right from the outset. Pathetic.
“Dammit,” called Delford as she moved to keep Ohkawa out of her line of fire while keeping Drexler inside it. “Shoot straight!”
“She’s moving too fast. I’m reloading,” answered Ohkawa even as Drexler leapt over her kneeling form.
Drexler was simultaneously pleased and amazed that the soldier had stopped moving. Being a faster bipedal, Drexler allowed herself and extra second to analyze Ohkawa. The soldier had dropped to her knee and was attempting to reload her rifle. Idiot, thought Drexler as she sprang vaulted over Ohkawa’s head, and landed at a crouch behind her.
Ohkawa tried to turn to face Drexler, but Drexler was faster. She snatched Ohkawa by her body armor and ran directly toward Delford with Ohkawa held out before her.
“Don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” cried Ohkawa as Drexler carried her forward at a sprint, closing the over fifty feet between her and Delford.
Drexler laughed raucously up until her left knee exploded in inexplicable pain.
“Oh God, why!” cried Ohkawa, as Drexler lunged forward into the sod.
Drexler tumbled into the grass, while Ohkawa slid fast first into the dirt and grass in front of her.
“Shoot it,” cried Ohkawa as she scrambled to her feet. She spat dirt out of her mouth and rubbed her eyes as she blindly stumbled away from Drexler and toward Delford.
Drexler stood, and promptly almost went back down. It wasn’t her leg that had taken the hit, it was her knee. Regardless, it throbbed like a bitch in heat, the tell-tale sign that it was already healing. She moved with a lessening limp counter clockwise to Delford as Delford tried to clear the walking obstacle.
“Goddamn it,” screamed Delford as Drexler swatted Ohkawa aside.
“Stupid bitch,” remarked Drexler aloud, stepping forward. Even she wasn’t sure if she was talking about Ohkawa or Delford.
Delford had put more space between herself and Drexler. The extra fifteen feet the soldier had gained would do little to help her. Drexler was sure of that.
“You’re going to shoot me again?” taunted Drexler, stepping forward.
Drexler’s eyes narrowed. Her grip on the M4 was off. No, not off. It was wrong. Instinctively she knew what Delford was doing. But Drexler was a werewolf, and superior to these shawarma sluts. A loud thump sounded, and all Drexler saw was something moving toward her. It was cylindrical and slow enough for her to follow its path. She smacked the gold tipped projectile aside and at that instant she realized what it was; a 40mm grenade. The grenade went off at the same instant that Drexler’s hand made contact with it.
The resulting blast threw her backwards. Shrapnel smacked her hand and her face with equal force. The hot metal tore away flesh from her face and hand. It burned the fur on her chest and her left breast burned from the searing chunks of metal.
Drexler stumbled backwards, muttering. She looked from her chest to her hand, and then to Delford, helping Ohkawa to her feet. “Stupid bi-” She tried to yell only her words came out as a croak. She fell to the ground, and blackness encompassed her.
“Is she dead,” asked Ohkawa, as Delford helped her to her feet.
“Unknown. Only one way to find out. You okay?” Delford tried to sound professional and in charge, but this close contact was shaking more than her voice.
“I’m good. I think I’m good.”
Delford released her grip on Ohkawa’s armor. “Stay here.”
“What are you doing?”
“Checking the kill.”
“That’s stupid, Corp. Come on. Let’s get the hell out of here. Okay?” Ohkawa’s voice was pleading, boarding more on pants wetting terror. She wasn’t as much of a soldier as she thought she was, and she knew it.
Delford moved hesitantly toward Drexler’s body. She’d taken a gamble on being just inside of the arming radius for the high explosive round. She’s gotten lucky. She was sure of it. The closer she got to Drexler’s prone figure, the more she was sure of that feeling.
She stood over Drexler, watching for any signs of movement. No occurred and she wondered if werewolf deaths were like the movies. Drexler wasn’t reverting to human, but her chest wasn’t moving with the effort of breathing either.
She stepped back, checked the rifle’s magazine, charged the weapon more, and stepped forward again with the rifle raised in her shoulder.
“This is when the monster wakes up and-” yelled Ohkawa, trying to warn Delford.
This is when the monster wakes up and grabs you was correct. Drexler howled weakly as her hand closed on Delford’s left ankle, and yanked her off her feet.
Delford squeezed the trigger reflexively. Automatic fire poured from her weapon. She’d done everything right except making sure her weapon was on semi. The 5.56mm rounds stitched down Drexler’s back, and the grip eased completely.
“Fuck fuck fuck-a-doodle do,” cried Delford kicking away from Drexler.
Once she felt comfortable being away from Drexler she stood and checked her weapon. The bolt was back, and the magazine was empty. She dropped her made, placed it into an empty magazine pouch with a shaking hand and loaded a fresh one into the rifle.
“She’s gotta be dead, right?” asked Ohkawa. She appeared through the adrenaline fog, and clutched Delford’s shoulders.
Delford jumped at the words and touch. “What? Yeah. Gotta be. Come on, girl.” Delford said in a shaky tone. “We have to clear the battle space.”
Ohkawa hooked her arm into Delford’s and lead her away. Delford tried not to glance back at Drexler’s body, but she couldn’t resist the pull. She’d look forward and then back. Had the body twitched when she last looked back, or had it been her fear and adrenaline fueled imagination? She didn’t care much about anything other than getting away. She focused forward and quickened her pace. “We gotta clear the battle space.”
They trudged on and for the first six miles Delford kept her mind centered on their situation and how they needed sleep and a vehicle; not necessarily in that order.
They bedded down in the remains of a UPS truck for night. Ohkawa took the first watch, which surprised Delford.
Delford slept fitfully for her stretch and was grudgingly grateful for being awake. Her dreams were filled with Drexler and her mocking voice, and explosions. The real world seemed a bit better.
“The truck’s operational, though it’s only got a quarter of the tank. Keys were in the ignition and I’m betting the driver won’t be back for it anytime soon.” Ohkawa gave Delford the run down on the whole lot of nothing that had occurred while Delford was asleep.
“It’s an automatic, right? We can drive it if it is.”
“Yep.” Ohkawa took off her helmet and put on her patrol cap. She leaned against the balled up UPS driver’s jacket that Delford had used for a pillow. “Corporal?” she said after pulling the cap’s bill over her eyes.
“She’s not dead, is she?”
“She has to be. Yeah.”
“We’re the only ones left, so be honest with me.”
“Okay. She’s alive and pissed, and is going to be coming for us after she licks her wounds. Happy, now?”
“Fuck yeah. At least I know what to expect.”
Delford spun around to face Ohkawa. She stood outside on the ground and almost jumped into the truck to come face to face with Ohkawa. She held her temper in check.
“Then why did we stop here?”
“I thought it was as good a place as any to make a stand.”
Delford mulled on that for a second. “Go to sleep,” she said bitterly. “We’re leaving in a few hours.”