Corporal Green hacked his way through another wall of thick twisted vines with his machete sized knife, the dark green veins in his oversized biceps were popping out of his arms as he swung with all his might. He sighed and then wiped the large drops of sweat that were running down his badly scarred face as he sat on the trunk of a long dead tree. Three more men emerged from the path he had cleaved through the vine wall.
The first was Private Johnson, he was tall and muscular, he wore an ammunition belt around his chest, he had a noticeable overbite and his dark green eyes were set right back into his skull adding an intimidating touch of barbarism to his cold face. Carelessly pushing the grenades that hung from his belt out of the way he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a lighter to light the cigarette that he had stored behind his ear as he joined Green on the dead tree.
The next man was the leader of the four and was a well-respected veteran of war; Staff Sergeant Mercer was the shortest of the four but was by no means the weakest, his large frame was covered in slabs of muscle and sinew. He wore a camouflaged t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off to help him cope with the growing humidity revealing his heavily tattooed arms, dangling from his neck were the many dog tags of men who had fought and died under his command. He had dark bags under his dark brown eyes and two savage looking scars ran from the back of his neck to his large forehead. His once black hair was rapidly thinning and turning grey, stubble covered most of his face and his deep wrinkles were worsened by the fact that he always had a cigar in his mouth.
The last to emerge was Private Legget. Legget was more of a poet than a soldier yet he had been assigned to one of the most elite and respected squads in the entire armed forces. His usually prim and proper hairstyle now looked rough and untidy due to four days of manoeuvring through an overgrown jungle and a constant fight for survival. He wore round spectacles that he twiddled and played with whilst filling in his war journal whenever they stopped for a well-earned rest, his cheeks were thin and bony and his white skin strongly contrasted with his untidy black hair. He was of average size but looked like a mere child in comparison to the three hulking beasts that he was stranded with. Whether it was the fact that his squad mates intimidated him or the harsh conditions they were struggling to survive in that gave him his nervous demeanour none of them knew. He looked much more worn out and scared than the others, mostly due to fact that this was his first ever assignment and they had been on there way to the fortress planet Raxus Prime where reinforcements were needed because of an ongoing war with an army sized cult calling themselves the Prophets of Romulus, but a mere light year away they had ended up crash landing on this god forsaken jungle planet that had been deemed uninhabitable for any human life due to the fact that every plant and animal on the planet was carnivorous, and with no experience at all he was extremely lucky to be placed in a squad with Mercer, Green and Johnson, no matter how much he didn't like them, as they were famous in the armed forces for their unmatched skills in jungle warfare.
Sergeant Mercer looked at his squad. Johnson had moved from the dead tree and was now kneeling on a small pile of leaves next to it, torturing a particularly large and colourful spider with his lighter and one of his knives. A strange grin of twisted satisfaction appeared on Johnson's face as he slowly dismembered the poor creature limb from limb watching the florescent purple juices ooze from the decapitated arachnid. Green was still sat on the tree, sharpening his massive, bloodstained knife with a bemused look on his face as he watched Johnson have his way with the spider. Mercer glanced around for Private Legget.
Legget had found himself a quiet corner in their temporary refuge on a small tree stump where he could fill in his beloved journal describing the picture that he had witnessed on their second day of arrival when Mercer had ordered him to gather wood for a fire and after walking for a while he discovered a recently abandoned research camp with several poorly constructed bunkers and tents scattered around a controlled bonfire. Upon entering one of these bunkers in a hunt for vital resources he witnessed a horrifying scene.
"The room was painted with blood.
Who knew that six people could relinquish so much?
The walls covered with the innards of the victims.
Ropes of intestines decorated the ceiling.
Splattered gore framed the corpses that littered the floor
Barely a square inch of the original façade remains unsullied
We are not aloneâ€¦"
As he stopped to think of more words he slammed his book shut to hide this horrifying knowledge from his comrades as his name was shouted.
"Legget" the Sergeant shouted.
Legget jumped to attention as Mercer chuckled at the Privates uneasiness.
"Err, Yes Sir" Legget replied nervously.
"Why you always so jumpy Private" the curious soldier asked as he lifted his expensive looking cigar to his mouth.
"Umm, I'm not really sure Sir"
"Neither am I. Anyway, Johnson's waitin' for ya', he's gon' show you how set up traps. He's jus' 'bout to go set some up back the way we came so you best not be flinchin' at every damn noise ya hear" he said blowing out a thick puff of smoke. "Ya ain't gon' make it out here long with a nervous attitude like that, there's a hell of lot of scarier things than me in this jungle".
"Err yes Sir, I know Sir" he replied, with a hint of a smile appearing on his face.
"Go on then. Dismissed".
Johnson was kneeling down searching through his backpack, throwing various pieces of dangerous looking equipment and bottles of strong spirits on the floor. "Where the hell is it?" he shouted.
Legget nervously approached Johnson, "Err, Mister Johnson" he said. Johnson failed to hear him as he continued his search, muttering endless swear words under his breath, Legget had never realised that anyone had such a large glossary of expletives.
"Mister Johnson" he repeated slightly louder.
Johnson turned and looked at Legget with his barbarian eyes.
"Oh hay there jumpy. I didn't realise it was you". He said, his big smile coming back to him once again.
"Err, have you lost something?" Legget asked.
"Yeah, I lost my damn rock" he told him, his voice casual as ever.
"You've, errâ€¦ you've lost your rock,"
"Yeah, my lucky rock" He stood up straight, towering over Private Legget like he was a child. Johnson shouted to Green as he scanned the ground "Hey Corporal".
"What?" Greens rough voice replied.
"Have you seen my lucky rock?"
"What, you lost it again?" a slight hint of annoyance in his voice. He walked over and stood next to Legget, the two giants making him feel intimidated and belittled. "That's the fourth time ya lost it in the last two months".
"Third, if ya don't count the one where it was in my pocket the whole time"
"Have you tried lookin' in your pockets?"
"It ain't gon' be in my pockets, I learned from that mistake"
"Jus' have a damn look will ya'" he said, this time a considerable amount of annoyance in his voice.
After a few seconds of frisking himself he pulled out a golf ball sized rock with one side stained with splattered blood and said, "Oh here'd is. Jumpy, lets go set some traps"
"An' stop callin' him Jumpy" Green said with authority.
"Aright sir, sorry Jumpy" Johnson led the way to the traps with the nervous Private Legget following closely behind. Just after they had disappeared through the tree line Johnson ran back to Green, "Sorry, I forgot my damn rifle". He picked up his rifle and then disappeared into the trees once again.
Mercer walked over to Green, "What was all that 'bout" he asked.
"Johnson lost his damn rock 'gen" green replied.
"What, 'gen, that's the fourth time in the last two months. Where'd he find it?"
"Was in his pocket"
"Dumb ass. Anyway, its gon' be dark in a bit so we best get movin' pretty soon. I been tryin' to plan are route but ain't easy with no map so I say we just go that way". Mercer pointed to a pitch-black gap in the tree line. Vines covered in six-inch thorns hung down from the trees in a curtain of natural spikes. The knee-deep mud and jagged rocks made even the ground look hostile.
"Why that way sir", Green asked.
"'Cos it looks the most dangerous 'n' with our luck that's usually the right way".
"Hell yeah," Green said in agreement.
"Were leavin' as soon as them two get back".
And with those words the distinctive sound of Johnson's voice could be heard whispering from a few metres behind them.
Green and Mercer looked at each other in realisation. Johnson had tried to sneak up on them and scare them several times since they had landed and they both knew he was about to try it again.
"Watch this" Mercer said.
Johnson slowly crept from the bushes behind them silently making his way towards them. Johnson stood up ready to pounce on Mercer, at the last second Mercer spun around with lightning speed, unnatural for such a huge man, and landed his massive fist on Johnsons face. His legs carried on moving towards Mercer but the sheer power his head had been hit with sent his top half crashing straight into the ground. He knelt down over Johnsons badly bleeding face and said "Sort out ya face 'n' then we move".
Green and Mercer walked over to Legget chuckling and then prepared to leave.
After five minutes of waiting they all stood in a circle ready to leave. "So here's the plan." Said Mercer. "We gon' go through that load o' mud 'n' keep walking 'til I say stop."
"For how long" Johnson asked with a black eye so bad that he could not see out of it and tissue up his nose to try and stop the painful bleeding.
"Til' he says stop ya' dumb ass' said Green.