Night fell and all was dark. We had done more training drills in the dark than in the light. Christine had trained in Japan for 15 years with the shinobi group, and she was most confident when she had the cloak of the night. In the daytime we felt naked and open for attack or ambush, but in the dark cover, we were alive, free, and victorious.
We had been rucking uphill for several clicks when our gear began to malfunction. There was no telling where or when we were, and it seemed like eveything changed when we exitted the tunnels. We had been using standard night vision goggles, which allowed us eyes, using the moon amplify everything around us. There was an electrical interference of some sort, which caused our goggles to flicker on and off for about five minutes. In that last few seconds before they went out completely, I saw an arial beast fly in the face of Christine.
She didn't scream or show any signs of being startled. She was trained to never be scared. I was told of the drills they completed to enstill this skill in the shinobi group, and I am surprised she is able to sleep after 15 years of those absolutely horrid drills. Milliseconds after it lached itself to her face she had pulled it off with one hand and sliced it in half with her blade in the other hand. Harnessing the power of being startled into an instantaneous attack can be the different between life and death.
I tried to see if there was any sort of wound, but all of our electronic equipment was fried. Even our compass was spinning haphazardly, which we could see only due to the tritium gas encapsulated on the needles. She said she couldn't feel that it had bitten her. Thinking back to the image in my mind that I saw it for a split second, I thought that it could have been a bat of some sort. But upon further review, I realized it couldn't have been, it didn't have an apparent mouth or even eyes. I distictly remember a slender needle like protrusion on what could have been its face. Overall, the equipment and the attack were a bad signs of what we were close to. We rucked on.
As we continued what seemed to be a few clicks, though it was impossible to tell, Christine was acting different from her prior state. I couldn't determine what it was, but something just wasn't right. Her respiratory rate was increased, she may have been sweating, and when I brushed up against her she felt cool and clammy. It wasn't good, and I feared that what attacked her could have been poisonous. Our standard med kit had nothing for the time or place we were in, so I continued to monitor her.
It wasn't but an hour after the attack and I saw a glissen of liquid on her face from the moonlight. I remembered that my compass was plated with small tritium gas canisters which emitted a small amount of light. When it was held up against her face, I was stunned. It was nothing like I had ever seen before. There was something growing out of where she was bitten. Slick, rigid tentacle-like strictures were originating from that one spot, and was covering the side of her face. It had to have been a parasite, and it was changing size relatively quickly. I decided it had to go.
I am no surgeon, but my years of my experience in the field have made me pretty handy with a knife. So, naturally, that was my go to method for extraction. With the compass as my guide, I wedged the knife between the tentacle and her skin, and with one swift flick of the wrist, cut one of the many tentacles off. Immediately, Christine went rigid and fell back. Fortunately, I caught her, but at the cost of nicking my knee with my trusty blade. I lowered her to the ground and re-assessed the situation.
She was breathing, unresponsive, cool and clammy, and had a pulse over 100. My electronic equipment was rendered useless, so I was merely guessing with the heart rate. I was thinking about leaving her, that was what we were taught in the training. When behind enemy lines, you have to do what you need to finish the mission. But this mission was starting to wear down on me, it was nothing like I had ever experienced. Also, she had been an invaluable squad member thus far, and without her I would be lone wolf. While big-screen Rhambo romanticized the idea of lone wolf, in the real world, lone wolves are killed by other packs, and don't last long.
I weighed the options, and decided I had to hide her and move onward. I could pick her up after the mission was complete. She would do the same in a heartbeat. Just like we practiced in training. I made it to the next checkpoint almost too seemlessly. It was too easy. It is never too easy in real life. Unfortunately, lone wolves only make it in the movies...
Team Ninja Alpha Destruction Squad
Christine and Josh