The two fighters said their final goodbyes. Almost the entire tribe was there to see them off on their last journey. One of the attacker’s brothers was in tears. However they were used to doing things without displaying a surplus of emotions and so most eyes were dry. The decision to launch the attack had been taken less than an hour ago.
Not surprisingly, there were no prayers being said. They didn’t believe in God or in any higher being. Rationalists to an extreme degree, even the two fighters about to carry out the attack would have scoffed if someone had offered to pray for them. There were no explosives to be used. They would use their traditional weapons for the attack, weapons they had used almost from the time they were born. The massive retaliation that was expected would almost certainly kill the two fighters in a matter of seconds after the attack was launched.
They had the reputation of being the most disciplined soldiers on earth. No order was ever disobeyed, though the foot soldiers did at times think their commanders were being batty. This was one of those times. There was absolutely no strategic advantage to be gained by this attack. The enemy would be displaced for less than a few minutes before he returned to his original position. What was more relevant was that the enemy's presence so close to their camp was not doing them any damage. None of their supply routes had been blocked. They even had enough stocks to last them for a week. Nor did the enemy show any signs of planning to reinforce his position. If not attacked, the chances were that the enemy would leave on his own sooner than later. In all probability one of the commanders at the top was trying to score a few brownie points with the Chief by launching this attack.
The order was given and the two fighters moved off. They carried nothing with them, except their light weapons. They reached the enemy's base and started their ascent. The smooth polished black surface offered no fingerholds and was not particularly easy to climb. The older of the two fighters, a grizzled veteran of many wars, found the going slightly tougher than his younger mate who actually skipped along, as though he were on a picnic. Once they crossed the black heath, the ascent became entirely vertical. They would have found the going impossible if they had not be so lightly armed. Their feet kept getting entangled in the black netting which succeeded the smooth black surfalce. The younger fighter was at times tempted to lend a hand to his older mate, but he knew it would not be appreciated and so he did not make such an offer.
It had taken them ten minutes to reach the top of the black netting from the time they started their ascent at the base. They were now ready to attack. At this stage, the older fighter moved slightly ahead. He was a lot more experienced and would pick out the best place to make the initial contact. It took him a few seconds to make up his mind. By this time, the enemy most probably felt their presence. The fighters could sense the enemy forces searching for them, moving towards them. Without further delay, the older fighter launched his attack, taking care not to get entangled in the outgrowth.
He bit into the fleshy leg and his victim howled in pain. The younger fighter immediately followed suit, but as he tasted human hair, he realised that he had made the mistake he had been warned against.
The enemy moved his leg a bit and the ants standing around the feet cheered. Their immediate objective had been achieved. It remained to be seen if the enemy would move away from that area entirely.
A heavy hand slapped against the trouser leg and crushed both fighters, but they continued to hold their positions, their teeth firmly clamped into the enemy's leg. The younger fighter wanted to open his jaw and take another bite that didn't include human hair, but decided against it. His current bite was not too bad, there was a decent chunk of human flesh involved, though it would have been grand if he could have avoided the hairs altogether. It was not as if he hadn't been warned. Intelligence had reported that the enemy was particularly hairy.
They felt a warm current against their back and knew their end would be coming soon. They would be dying for the benefit of their brothers, who would cease to remember them in a few hours time. Sure enough, a plump hand hit them both at the same time, killing the older fighter immediately and breaking the younger fighter's back. The trouser leg was now fully rolled up and the enemy searched out the remaining source of his pain. An index finger was used to crush the younger fighter to death.
'Bloody ants,' the victim repeated.
The two brave fighters did not die entirely in vain. May be the commander who had ordered the attack was not so stupid after all. Seeing so many of the dead fighters' comrades milling around, the enemy made a strategic decision to retreat. It remained to be seen how long the enemy would stay away.