The helicopter flares up into position over the jungle and hovers, as the support helicopter holds in a protective position above.
Dillon: Never knew how much I missed this, Dutch.
Dutch: You never were that smart.
Looking up, Schaefer gives a hand signal to the nearest man who nods and in return, passes the signal down the line. From the open doors the rappelling lines hurtle into space, crashing through the double canopy of the trees and to the jungle floor below.
The blue light changes to green. Schaefer nods. Rappelling devices snap into place. Gloved hands grab onto rope. Combat boots move into position. Schaefer signals. Men leap from the chopper. The men crash through the trees and are swallowed up by the darkness below.
The helicopters depart, thumping their way into the jungle. The dense growth seems impenetrable, but from a solid wall of undergrowth, a hand appears and signals in a downward motion.
As if by magic, the assault team materializes, quietly, cautiously. Schaefer makes another gesture and the team moves forward in perfect harmony in point-lock step, taking their cue from Ramirez, the pointman.
Schaefer, highly focused and alert to every sound and movement, follows Ramirez, as if organically connected. Descending the steep mountain slope, the team encounters an even denser growth of jungle, at times moving by instinct, as they are often visually separated.
Ramirez, in a defensive position, sweeps the jungle slowly. He turns, checking, revealing in the b.g. the wreckage of a U.S. Army UH-1H Helicopter, hanging upside down, twenty feet above the ground, entangled in vines in the heavy capony, badly damaged, rotors bent, its tail section blown away.
A grappling hook is hurled from the ground, clattering into the cargo hold, hooking the edge of the airframe. Dillon follows him up into the chopper. Once inside, Ramirez moves cautiously and checking the cockpit wires. Grimly he glances at the two bodies slumped over the controls, then exits and rappels down the rope to the ground.
He joins Schaefer standing in the f.g. Ramirez reports the pilots have each got one round in the head. And whoever hit it stripped the shit out of it. He doesn't think that was any ordinary army taxi, more like a surveillance bird. Schaefer looks at the chopper and concludes they took them out with a heat seeker. Dillon has rappelled down the line and joins them.
Billy approaches and reports there were ten, maybe twelve guerrillas. Then a different set of tracks. There were six others, U.S. issue jungle boots. They came in from the north, then followed the guerrillas. Schaefer turns to Dillon, but he dismisses it as just another rebel patrol. Schaefer is obviously concerned about this. Schaefer instructs Billy to go ahead, see what you can find. Billy takes up the trail, disappearing in to the jungle. Schaefer studies the clearing, eyes always moving, wary.
The hillside of a steep valley, dark and foreboding. Billy passes by and halts, removing his knife. With his other hand he pulls down from overhead a thick vine, severing it. A thin stream of water emerges which he drinks. Suddenly he stops, letting the water drip to the ground. He quietly releases the vine, listening intently.
Something seems wrong. He brings his eyes upward and stares. Billy scrutinizes the jungle, probing the world around him with his keen senses. Hearing a faint rustling sound he looks up, seeing a curtain of moss several feet away.
He takes a cautious step forward. He reaches forward with his free hand, touching the moss. Behind the curtain a slight shifting of dark forms occurs. He pauses and then with a sudden movement, sweeps the moss aside . . . a black explosion of fluttering wings as carrion-eating birds rush past Billy's body.
Billy's face seizes into a mask of horror, his expression descending into a state of complete, primitive shock, his eyes staring transfixed, inches away from the leering death-grin of a human face, upside down, completely stripped of skin. Reeling, his body numbed by the sight before him, he stumbles backwards and stops.
Vines threaded through their achilles tendons, the bodies of three men, skinned and gutted, hang suspended in the think, suffocating air, buzzing with insects. Billy turns away, revulsed as Ramirez moves quietly into view, Schaefer directly behind him. Ramirez stares at the bodies, now seen to be in the first stages of deterioration, strips of flesh torn away by the birds and other scavengers. In an almost childlike manner, he crosses himself.
In a pile of entrails, Mac finds a set of dog tags. Dutch recognizes the name on them; Jim Hopper, a Green Beret. Schaefer's eyes move from the bloody dog tag to the bodies. Upon Schaefer orders to cut them down, Mac moves forward, withdrawing his combat knife. The blade flashes, cutting the vine as the first body thuds to the ground.
Dutch is puzzled and looks to Dillon for information. Dillon says he knows nothing about another team.
Billy kneels at the side of the original trail examining the ground. He looks up toward the trees, holding a spent cartidge. Schaefer approaches, leaning over beside him. Billy looks at him, puzzled. He reports there was a firefight. Shooting in all directions. Dutch can't believe Jim Hopper walked into an ambush
Billy: I don't believe he did; I can't find a single track.
Dutch: What about the rest of Hopper's men?
Billy: There's no sign, sir. They never left here. Hell, it's like they just disappeared.
Schaefer ponders a moment, then orders Billy to stick with the guerilla trail. He tells the rest of the team to move, five meter spread, no sound.
Mac: Time to let Ol' Painless' out of the bag.
Grimly, Blain rips apart the velcro closures of the canvas bundle slung across his shoulder.
Blain reveals a truly awesome weapon, a six-barreled mini-gun adapted for field combat, and cocks it.
Blain: It's payback time.
They move on, Billy pausing to look at the jungle before disappearing into the foliage.
The Observer's P.O.V.: The Observer in a tree overhead looks down, watching the men make their way through the jungle. Dutch pauses and looks up at the tree as if he saw something, unaware the Observer is looking at him with his unique vision. . . Nothing, Dutch moves on.