Chapter 3

His vision was illuminated in a bluish hue. The faces of his teammates were obscured behind polarized face visors connected to the brims of their helmets. His heart rate on the electrocardiogram bio monitor showed a quickened pulse, but Lukas thought that it was just the alcohol working magic in his system. All of them are tense, but Lukas managed to control himself in situations like these.

However, he couldn't help but to wipe the barrel of his M4A1 with his gloved thumb involuntarily. Just like their weapons, his was blessed by the Outpost Chaplain before they march off to battle against the supernatural.

He saw some of the rookies repeat actions, caused by pre-deployment anxieties. He could not blame them, operations like these made you worry about the future, whether you will survive or not, or what about the aspirations you wanted to pursue later in your life after your service. It made them fear for their lives, despite losing it once when they are inducted in the ranks of the 666IB.

The truck was silent, save for the voice of a corporal beside him who was whispering a prayer. Everyone was alert and the tension was high as the truck slowly ground to a halt.

They disembarked in a disciplined manner, the first of the black and grey-clad soldiers who stepped off immediately secured the area with a sweep of their rifle. But they remained vigilant, with trigger fingers still outside of the guard. They waited for their brethren who were still in the process of unloading.

Lukas was the last to leave, alongside Sergeant Alice. The truck they rode remained where it was as they travelled eastwards on foot.

The highway road was quiet, a few vehicles moved past. The presence of armed men in the vicinity urged the drivers to accelerate away fast because they never wanted to know the story behind their sudden appearance. The sky above was void of clouds, with stars twinkling, and the moon, now a crescent, shone above them and illuminated the surroundings in dark blue.

They approached a wooden hut, its windows were barred shut. A signage could be seen on the door, indicating that the owner was a coconut dealer. Beside the house was a large mango tree with withered leaves gathering above its roots. They ignored it and pressed further, vaulting over the roadblock that separates the jungle from the highway road.

Their actions made slight noises that woke the inhabitants of the hut. They immediately stopped; Lukas noticed that a light bulb illuminated behind the frosted window and a faint silhouette of a person approached. Lukas tensed and aimed at the window, which immediately opened.

The man was holding a machete, but his bravery melted into cowardice as he found himself staring directly at Lukas' rifle muzzle.

"This is a military operation. Go back to sleep." Lukas commanded and the man noticed that Lukas isn't so keen on being generous because his trigger was inside the guard.

He quietly shut the window close and turned away. The light behind the frosted glass deactivated, bathing them once more in the dark.

They continued.

The muddy ground was full of fallen leaves and withered branches. Every step was accompanied by crunching sound that would have startled a tiny animal away. Despite their efforts to keep it low, they failed miserably. But their attention was shifted to the sound of a running water in the distance. They are glad because it means that they are close.

A howl was heard. The squad stopped because the sound was not commonly heard from any known animal. They would have ignored it if the Kampft Counter--their in-built paranormal energy detection instrument--did not whine very loud.

One of the soldiers yelled as they caught sight of a greyish silhouette in the distance. Lukas was alerted by the commotion and turned. From the distance, a legless apparition suspended in air approached them. Its blank face was covered by its long unkempt hair but he could see its mutilated face clear enough, carved by a knife to display a crude smiley.

It stretched its ghostly hands as it closed the distance between it and the black and grey-clad soldiers, who began firing. Sanctified bullets after another were issued from their blessed weapons and pierced through its body. Some of the rounds penetrated and hit the tree trunks behind the spectral entity while the others were stuck suspended inside the body, doing its work. It liquified and splattered on the mud.

When the short encounter seemed to end, more entities that possessed the same appearance manifested around them and started their approach. The soldiers formed around and opened up at the moving entities. Lukas terminated at least two of them, each shot he made count. He kept his weapon steady every time the recoil kicked in.

A blood curdling scream was heard when one of the Black Entities reached a trooper, its hands wrapped around his ankles in a death grip. The soldier was thrown onto his back. He was then dragged across the mud, his rifle lost in his hands. He was thrown a few inches above ground as soon as he went to the lake. His body splashed onto the lake and it was never seen again when he sank below.

Lukas felt his blood boil. He set his rifle to full auto and fired in an arc. He tapped three of his subordinates to watch his back before they charged across.

"Sarge, watch our backs!" Lukas yelled at his colleague behind. Alice replied with an indiscernible scream before firing at an entity just a few meters above their heads. It was very close.

They charged across the jungle, crushing the twigs and the dead leaves beneath their armored boots. Frequently, they stopped to fire at any entities that might have strayed too close to be ignored. Lukas was almost killed when one of the entities snuck behind him. The hairs on the back of his neck tingled. He had been in a profession where death and danger was almost at every turn. It contributed to the development of his uncanny ability to sense danger, even if it was inevitable.

He turned and fired, the ghost let out a deathly scream as it faded away. They continued shortly...

...before they finally arrived at the lip of the river.

"Give me your devices!" Lukas yelled. Just one of it would suffice, but he wanted to make sure that the bastards will never disturb the society again. His subordinates handed him their devices, in addition to his own, and began thumbing its activation buttons.

The black rectangular device began to illuminate in orange. He aimed for the middle of the river and hurled the objects one by one. The entities around Sergeant Alice's group began turned to Lukas and his subordinates with horrifying realization and accelerated at their direction with a scream. Both 666IB elements exerted efforts to eliminate the HPEs, but the devices in the river activated.

Four flashes of orange emanated from the river and enveloped the area before fading abruptly. The Black Entities howled in pain before they disappeared. The redundant effect was unneccessary, but Lukas wanted to ensure the device's effect.

As the last of the entities faded, he fell on his knees with ragged breathing. He glanced behind and felt sorry for the trooper they have lost but there was nothing they could do, a fact that he needed to always accept despite the protests of his psyche. His killers are dead, and there was nothing he could do now except to feel the sorrow left by the trooper's passing.

They walked back to the way they came.

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