172 Shadow In The Forest: Defenders Edition
Frank was not a hot-blooded fool. The moment he figured out that the assailant had attacked a squad that appeared to be quite distant from them, he knew that their point squad was the target. The direction he had his squad run in was towards where he suspected that squad had gone.
Of course, he didn't rush that direction with any intention to get there in time to help. After all, it sounded far away. Since the other squad had called for help from so far away it was obvious that they wouldn't be able to actually get there in time. Thus, trying to reinforce them was pretty pointless.
No, he had a different idea in mind.
Since the point squad, which wasn't tied down to their slow searching speed and thus was a squad that was caught out alone, was the target. That meant that the attacker was picking people off. Because they were picking people off, Frank immediately latched onto the idea to become to the bait.
The difference between being the bait and what the point squad was doing is quite simple. Being the bait meant they expected to be attacked. That changed everything on the preparations side of things. After all, the point squad was searching for Richie's squad. Sure, they probably had their guard up to the best of their abilities. However, when you are playing the bait, you don't move and can set up traps and other measures to ensure an easier battle for your side.
That is the biggest difference between them.
The reason Frank had his squad run out alone was because the rest of the squads would be converging on where Richie's squad was taken out. That meant that they were the only ones that were able to be singled out.
The first thing they needed to do was to become a solitary target for the attacker. Thus, he had his squad charge ahead blindly and rapidly. He continued to push his squad for a full five minutes through the forest before he finally held up his hand to stop them all. They had been running at full tilt without mercy. By now, they couldn't see or hear where the others were. It should be far enough away.
Next, Frank had them come in close. Since he didn't know how far away the point squad was for them, he needed to get his orders out quickly. Hand signs weren't going to be enough for this and he needed some information before he could make his decisions.
Once his squad was gathered up he turned his head to the oldest member of the squad and asked, "How did they die?"
The man blinked once before he replied, "Piercing weapon of some kind. Went right through their bodies like a skewer. Assumption is the point is small while it leads to a fatter end from the target. No traces of metal or energy based composition used at all. The entire squad was probably killed before they knew they were under attack."
Frank nodded curtly as he rubbed his chin through his beard. He closed his eyes for a moment before he pulled back slightly and stated, "Fan formation. Two on delay, three in the center. Prepare for melee combat and be ready for anything."
His squad nodded in understanding before they moved out. Two of his members got down low to the ground and crawled underneath some bushes. Another three stood in the center facing each other and looking like they were in a discussion while they were actually secretly watching their surroundings. The rest of the group, including Frank, were looking bored while leaning against the trees. A critical eye could tell that they actually had one hand on their weapons while they did so.
The bait had been cast with his commands and decisions. Now Frank just had to wait with his squad until that truffle murdering bastard showed up.
A few minutes passed in a tension filled silence as his squad awaited any signs of their foe. There were no other whistle calls or ambush notices. His men didn't even bother to keep track of their detectors. Since the point squad had been successfully ambushed it meant that they were all useless anyway.
As Frank gave out a yawn of boredom, he caught a glimpse of something moving on his peripherals. He followed the movement quickly, his tensed body suddenly uncoiling like a snake and his eyes opened wide in shock at the sight.
The three men he had gathered in the center all had a spider leg sticking into their skulls and shoulders. The thing that the legs came from was a child-sized humanoid that had them coming out of its back. However, the details on the creature weren't able to be discerned due to the fact that they appeared to be one with the darkness.
Even their night vision couldn't give them anything on it.
However, immediately after the freeze, Frank roared in anger and his squad jumped to action, all except the two men that were under the bushes. None of them pulled guns, instead they all pulled their preferred melee weapons. Some pulled energy swords, others pulled real swords, and the oddball of the group pulled out a spear.
They all had one thing in mind now that they had lost some comrades: slaughter. They had been with each other for years now and had a bond. None of them expected that they would be ambushed and lose some people when they were expecting an attack. They also didn't expect some weird monster creature to be the one attacking them!
This was Ordin Prime, capital of the Ordin Empire! How could there be some weird humanoid spider thing here?!
But the proof was before their eyes.
Frank was the first one to get in range of it. The creature lifted a couple of its legs and stabbed them towards Frank without a sound and he expertly deflected them with his boardsword. The sword sparked briefly from the impacts, but he didn't doubt that there was no damage taken. After all, it was made of Duralite and could take far more than that.
Two of his squadmates came in from the sides, flanking it as if it was a planned maneuver. The creature used one leg to distract each of them as it kicked away from the group with its remaining spindly limbs.
The last man who was still out, the one with the spear, was waiting for it to jump backwards. He thrust the spear forward in its path, expecting to skewer the thing. However, the thing's legs had a longer reach the spear in the man's hands and he was the one who wound up skewered.
This caused the rest of his squad to see red in anger. They charged furiously towards the creature while activating their Inborn Abilities. Frank's sword lit up into fire while the man on his right visibly bulked up and the man on his left started to emit a cold air.
The two on delay didn't delay any longer. They stood up with rifles aimed at the creature and opened fire with pinpoint accuracy, trying to push it towards Frank and the others with their shots.
In an instant, the silence of the forest was shattered by gunfire. It echoed loudly into the distance as Frank and his two comrades charged the creature with hate in their eyes.
The creatures spider legs were quickly torn to shreds under the hail of gunfire, the limbs flying off and landing onto the ground. It quickly approached Frank and others and tried to skewer them with its remaining two legs, but his comrades easily deflected them out of the way.
That left Frank with a clean shot and he took it. He thrust out his hands with his firesword and pierced the creature, immediately dumping tons of his Spiritual Energy into the fire and causing it to engulf the creature completely in its magnificence.
And then the creature faded to nothing like smoke in the wind, the fire that had encased it dropped to the dirt ground.
Frank and the others stared blankly in shock. There was no evidence of the creature having ever been there remaining.
Several kilometers away, towards the outskirts of the forest, Altair perked her head up and glanced behind her as she felt the connection was finally cut. She had to drain half of her vials to keep that mirror image of her going for so long, but it appeared to have been worth it for it to last for over an hour.
'Hopefully,' she thought to herself as she walked out of the forest, 'That was enough to delay them for a while.'
Before her, outside of the forest, was a grass plain that stretched as far as the eye could see. Altair frowned at it and sighed lightly at the same time. He pulled one of the chocolate bars out of her makeshift pouch and started to eat it while she walked. Everywhere she looked was grass, more and more grass. It was like the world was mostly covered in that stupid grass, which was oddly trimmed and neat to barely come up over the shoes she made with her Magic.
Still, she just had to keep going as she saw the light of morning starting to rise on the horizon. Her stomach had grumbled to her a moment before, and that was the only reason why she wasn't using her new Transference Magic already. She wanted to take a short break to eat something before she continued.
She planned to use her Transference Magic until she was down to the real vial that wouldn't fade if she went to sleep. She didn't want to waste the boost the Manamium enriched water was providing her.