Chapter 2: Ash
Stay focused, eyes on the prize.
Ashley's reaction time had measured the quickest of her class and her agility was off the charts. In conjunction with her uncanny ability to move silently through any environment, she was the perfect scout. This is what she was born to do.
Wait for the gunfire, then grab the docs.
As she crept stealthily through the trees, she wondered whether she'd make it to the edge of the woods before the firing started or if her team would face the opposition sooner than she expected. She hoped for the former.
Another eighty yards to the woods' edge, then hold.
Mid-stride, she heard the distinct sound of gunfire that she knew all too well. This could only mean that Blake's team had been setup camp much closer to them than they had expected. And that was bad news for Miles and the team. Ash tried to calculate the time it had taken them to move forward and how much time that had given Blake to scout and position his troops. If her math was right, it meant that Blake probably already knew the best vantage points and might have even positioned a few guys in those spots. But this was good news for her. Hopefully Blake had called in his entire team by now with the expectation of finishing off Kilo Squad before they even got close to the documents. As she neared the edge of the woods, her last cover before the extraction point, she prepared herself for the hills she would have to traverse and the lack of cover she'd have while doing so. But if all went according to Miles' plan, there would be no opposition. Let's hope he knew what he was talking about.
Sprinting as hard as she could, she counted the ups and downs of the terrain. From her previous scouting, she knew there were three hills she had to overcome before cutting directly to the east and crossing another two hundred thirty yards of desert to get to the documents. As she was decelerating, nearing the bottom of the third hill, she started to prepare for the worst. If Miles' plan didn't work, there could be at least one man to protect the documents, maybe even two. So she had to expect two guards waiting for her, guns at the ready, while she ran in unarmed. There had to be a better way in. But as she scanned the horizon looking for any sort of cover, there was nothing that stood out to her that she hadn't already seen. It was barren desert with a three foot pedestal on which the documents sat.
On the plus side, it didn't look like there
was anyone else around. Maybe, just maybe, Miles' plan had worked. She started accelerating again and readied for another all out sprint. She may have traded the black rubber of a track for this light brown dirt, but still moved with the grace of a gazelle and speed of a cheetah.
A hundred more yards. Seventy more yards.
The closer she got, the more her hair stood on edge. Any second now, she expected to see, or not see, a bullet coming straight for her. But larger and larger the pedestal grew and still, no shots were fired. When she was close enough to discern the documents from the base on which they rested, it occurred to her that they might have booby trapped the pedestal somehow. But she had no time to stop and examine in. Stop moving and death is all but guaranteed. A flyby was her best bet. She extended her arm, not dissimilar to how she would pass a baton, and grabbed the documents perfectly in stride. To her surprise, there was no explosion, no alarm, nothing. Taking a wide left turn, muscle memory kicking in, she reversed her direction and started back to the edge of the woods.
I'll have to make fun of Miles less often.
As the tree line inched closer, she found herself noticing the lack of gunfire, not just around her, but coming from the town as well. Either her team had miraculously taken out Blake and his team, or, more likely, had all gotten shot. But that didn't matter as long as she could make it back to her own extraction point and complete the mission. She even pictured getting celebrated as one of the few teams that was able to knock down Blake a peg or two.
She had a glimpse of hope as she entered the woods again, this time navigating away from the danger instead of directly towards it.