By the time the first ray of light filtered through the jungle canopy, the team was up and ready to move out. They made a last sweep of the shuttle and the camp and assembled around Mike Brackett.
“Two Sons you got point. Billy, make sure nobody or nothing comes up on our six,” ordered Brackett.
Charlie pulled the machete from the scabbard attached to his ruck and started off across the clearing followed by Mike Brackett, Doc Hunnicutt, Renita Cortez and, after taking a last look around the camp site, Billy Gilroy.
Two Sons found a trail into the jungle, but soon was wielding the machete to keep the trail open. Doc Hunnicutt slapped at the insect using his neck for a feeding ground.
“Damn bugs,” cursed Doc.
“Stop complaining, Doc,” said Renita Cortez, “I thought you signed up for adventure.”
“My idea of adventure doesn’t include getting eaten alive by insects in a jungle,” replied Doc, slapping his neck again.
The trail widened, the jungle thinned out and Brackett halted the team. “Take five.”
Doc Hunnicutt dropped heavily to the ground and leaned back against his ruck. Slight movement in the jungle across the trail caught his attention. A bushy head popped up in the low cover, then disappeared just as quickly. He rubbed his eyes and looked back into the jungle. The head popped up and disappeared again. Doc sat up and nudged Cortez sitting next to him.
“Hey, Cortez, did you see that?” he whispered.
“See what, Doc?” replied Cortez, never lifting her chin from her chest or opening her eyes.
“Those little bushy heads.”
Cortez opened her eyes and looked at Doc Hunnicutt. “What?!”
Doc turned to Brackett hunkered down next to him. “You seen ‘em, didn’t you, Sarge?”
“Seen what, Doc?” replied Brackett, watching the big black ants file across the trail.
This time two heads popped up and disappeared. “We’re being watched.”
Cortez and Brackett both looked at Hunnicutt. “By who, Doc?” asked Brackett.
“The little guys with the bushy hair.”
Cortez looked over at Brackett. “I think the heat’s got him, Sarge.”
“Have a drink of water, Doc, cool you off a little,” said Brackett. He patted Doc Hunnicutt on the shoulder and stood up. “We’re burning daylight, people.”
The team got to their feet and adjusted their rucks. They continued on down the trail and before long the jungle closed around them again and Charlie Two Sons was back wielding the machete. An hour later, Charlie broke through the dense jungle into a clearing. “Sarge,” Charlie called to Brackett behind him.
Mike Brackett walked up beside Charlie standing at the edge of the jungle. Huddled in the middle of the clearing was a small, fenced village.