Rustling started behind him as gear was brought out and prepared for the evening. Snake kept in the trail of the squad they were tracking and inched toward the clearing. His eyes were fixed on the ground. His senses were keen as a wolf hunting a lamed elk through the forest.
"They're traveling with wounded." Snake motioned toward the intermittent spots of blood in the snow. Taylor peered down at the snow nodding in confirmation.
"Must be bad." Taylor remarked. "The blood is outside the tracks. Carrying?"
Snake knelt down examining the tracks more closely. The comment had brought a new aspect and more information he might be able to use. Plissken pulled off his glove and traced over the sets of prints, matching left and right by tread wear the snow held. Finally Snake was convinced Taylor's observation was true.
"Good work Sarge. They're carrying one." Snake motioned to another set of tracks; right then left. "And another lame."
Taylor beamed when Plissken stood smiling. They were friends but both knew out here command came first and then friendship. Dire situations of the past had flipped that protocol but now, with no threats they held firm. Childhood friends were Lieutenant and Sergeant.
Snake headed toward the camp to break out the evening's food from his own pack. "I'll take first and last watch. Figure out who's picking up the other four."
With his rations in hand, thermal blanket and some surveillance equipment Plissken found a tree with cover and a good view of the open plain. Enemies sometimes doubled back. With the blanket pulled tight over his shoulders Snake shed his gloves and opened the black ration pack. He wasn't much for the food but it was something and his hunger would rely on pine needles if it had to. Situations had been worse for the time being these conditions were posh for the field.
The others ate and sought the shelter of the tents when heavy snow and wind began to pick up from the west. Plissken hardly noticed it. Focus kept away the cold and even the bitterest winds. His eyes were on a thin wisp of smoke he gauged to be about a mile into the trees on the far side of the plain.
"Want some company?"
Snake smiled at the sweet voice and nodded in confirmation but his eyes hadn't moved.
"What are you seeing?" She questioned sitting down next to him as she leaned close to get his perspective. Snake pointed out toward the smoke.
"A camp. They're not far at all."
Snake turned to look at the pale woman settling in next to him. She was shivering and instinctively he pulled his blanket up around her shoulders.
"We'll catch them tomorrow just short of the mountains."
Sophia nodded resting her head on his shoulder. "How many more missions do we have until break?"
"Four, counting this one." Snake absently twirled the stray locks of hair poking from her hood with his fingers. "I can't wait to be out of this fucking snow."
Sophia giggled quietly. "You know that South Dakota's covered in a blizzard, right?"
"Don't remind me." Snake gave her a half hearted dirty look.
"Aren't we coming into San Diego on return?"
Snake shrugged starting to survey the landscape he'd been neglecting. "Let's just get through tomorrow first."