Maberry Pages #11 – The Jungle

The fire ants were on the move again, but with any luck Hahen would be able to intercept them. He and his platoon proceeded in a skirmish-line through the lower levels of the canopy. The rangers leapt between trees up ahead, howling and whooping to scare the other animals out of the path of the regulars. Hahen squatted on a branch just behind the vanguard, waiting for the rest of his command section. His four adjutants arrived, tails’ slapping the branch as they hit along its length. Hahen checked the first adjutant, a little jumper called Datili. The communicator pack strapped to Datili’s back was receiving a message. The four rings that circled its center speaker all glowed blue. Hahen pounded the talk-button on the side of the communicator-pack. The voice of the company commander crackled out of the speaker. “Captains, the fire ants have been sighted on the Idol Path. Proceed with caution.”
That was directly ahead of his platoon. Hahen released the button and nodded to his adjutants. They and Hahen launched themselves forward to the next set of trees and branches. They hit the next tree line hard and then swarmed in amongst the vanguard. Throughout the trees the sounds of the rest of the platoon jumping, and their tails thumping against branches filled the air. Even as he prepared himself for the next jump, he peered off into the trees to where the winding path of Idols was visible with its tall statues. Even among all the carved stone, Hahen couldn’t see a single face from here. But he saw the ants, each one at least a meter long, only half of Hahen’s height, but fearsome enough. They filled the path and the surrounding jungle, swarming forward in their implacable advance. Hahen roared as he leapt. The platoon all around roared with him and they followed his lead toward the ants.
The ants on the outside of the group closest to Hahen’s platoon reared onto their back legs, mandibles working to build up their acidic phlegm. Then the platoon was upon them, dropping out of the trees, tails’ thrashing and crunching carapaces. Hahen landed on one of the front-line ants. He crushed the creature into the dirt.


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