Chapter 3: Barely Escaped

"Look alive people, its Christmas come early!"

Everyone looked toward the source of the loud noise. Samuels walked into the main room of the base with two crates in his hands and set them down on the table with an ecstatic grin. "And Santa has brought a lot of presents for you all."

"Santa brought presents? Aw if I knew he was coming, I would have set out some milk and cookies!" Caboose exclaimed causing the rest to shake their heads and wonder the same things. Just how is it that he has managed to survive this long even with the help of others? Jake brought in a couple more crates and set them down beside the others. "Take your pick guys."

"Wow!" one of the rebellion members exclaimed studying the advanced objects inside the boxes. There were so many weapons of different kinds. They sparkled brightly in Sarge's visor as he cleared his throat. "You fellas wouldn't be familiar with the international dibs protocol now would you?"

"Too late because I already called dibs on this baby right here," Tucker stated gently rubbing a plasma rifle. Doc held a rocket launcher in good form and studied its ammo compartment. "Time to go to town and make it rain mwhahahah!"

Lopez took several and walked off to his own area and started fiddling with a few. Well at least he is enjoying himself, thought Sarge as he saw the others take their fair share of the guns. "How is it that in all my time in the military, no one has heard of the dibs protocol?"

"Probably because it doesn't exist and is bullshit," replied Tucker causing the other rebellion members to agree. Sarge just picked out some shotguns and walked off grumbling under his breath. He studied one of the shotguns that stood out to him most thanks to its rather slick but futuristic design. "I got it!"

"Got what Sarge Captain?" asked Caboose. Sarge ran his fingers over the various curves of the gun. "I will name her Sasha!"

"Oh, that's nice. Kind of like Freckles."

"Yeah, except Sasha isn't constantly yammering and isn't high maintenence."

Freckles suddenly moved in Caboose's hand exclaiming. "I can kick her ass any day!"

"Down boy!"

"Yes Captain Caboose."

Doc and Tucker looked back and forth between Caboose, Freckles and Sarge. They both scratched their heads and crossed their arms. Tucker felt his mind weigh heavy from the confusion. "I'm having a hard time following this conversation."

"Join the club," said Doc as he turned to walk away. Tucker looked at Doc and asked. "Really? I thought medics are supposed to be able to easily diagnose this sort of stuff."

"Trust me, there is a lot of stuff I have diagnosed with you guys, but we would be here all day long listening to me ramble on and on."

"Okay, all of a sudden I lost interest in this topic," Tucker replied hurrying away from everyone else. Samuels looked around at the excited faces. Hardly anything I would consider getting pumped up about but if it makes them happy, it makes them happy. As long as their morale is kept up in high spirits, it's alright I suppose. "Jake, bring in the rest."

"Sure," the young man replied walking out the room. Everyone froze to see more boxes coming in. One of the members jumped at the chance to see the new box. "Just how many of these did you guys get?"

"Oh well we just managed to nick a shipment truck filled with guns and ammo to the brim. No big deal," Samuels replied in a very boisterous manner. The others shook their heads with another member stating. "You two have some serious balls to actually hijack a weapons truck and bring it back to our hideout. I bet the security detail on this truck gave you a good chase."

"Well they tried, but unfortunately for them, Jake's skilled driving managed to quickly lose them. I bet they felt pretty stupid after that," Samuels replied with a mischievous laugh. They all engaged in a bout of laughter and one asked. "So we have enough weapons and ammo here to go on a heist spree, but what plans do we have to make use of these things?"

"Don't you worry about that, we will get the opportunity to sooner or later when Equal slips up," said Jake.

"If he slips up," another member corrected. Samuels patted that member's back and gave a reassuring smile. "Don't you guys worry about stuff like that. Just leave the planning up to me and a few others. Focus on your tasks, gun practice and families. When the time comes, we can all go gung-ho."

"You are the boss," said another putting the weapons away. Samuels called Jake over and asked for him to begin making entries into their databases for the weapons and ammo inventory. The young fighter went into the intelligence room to quickly carry out the task taking all that he needed. The Blood Gulch crew put down the weapons with the rest, but they separate them enough to still recognize the ones they called dibs on.

Later that day, Samuels noticed the Blood Gulch crew putting on their robes. He approached the group with a curious tone. "Going topside?"

"Yeah, we all need a change of scenery once in a while. I don't know how you guys manage to stay cooped up in here all the time," said Tucker leading the others towards the door. Samuels looked at the group and down to his notepad. "Just be careful up there. They are holding the usual daily announcements, or as I like to call it, the brainwashing sessions."

On the surface, the instructional drones hovered above the clamoring crowds. The crew looked all around and noted the high energy. Where do they even get all this energy from just for his speeches? Doc stopped the rest from proceeding any further. "If we go out into the middle of the street, not only will we be easily spottable, but risk giving ourselves away to the public."

"Good point, I don't want to be persecuted anytime soon," said Sarge turning to change directions. Tucker looked up at the monitors on which Equal appeared. The man bore a considerate and kind smile as he spoke to the masses. Yet behind that smile is a broken and a hate filled dude, thought Tucker as he helped Caboose along in the huge crowd. They all found themselves a nice quiet spot and stretched their body.

"Staying underground is getting old real fast," said Tucker as he held one elbow in his hand and stretched it over his head. They all agreed to that. "Now I can take Freckles out for his walk!"

Another monitor hovered over them and they all looked up at the topic being discussed, love and peace. How can he talk about all of that considering the shit he put me through and puts himself through? Tucker pondered as he shook his head. Equal continued to talk without a break and Tucker finally had enough. "Man, he sure does love the sound of his own voice doesn't he?"

"Hey! Who said that?!"

The crew became alert and heard the various unexpected noises from the crowd. The once cheerful crowd was starting to turn violent towards Tucker's comments. Uh oh, Tucker started to back away with the rest into the shadows. Caboose quickly turned and ran away. "Running time!"

They all managed to escape without creating too much of a stir around themselves. Doc looked up at Tucker having caught his breath and stated. "Hey Tucker, in the future don't go around dissing their deity."

"Or else I will have to willingly throw you out for the wolves," said O'Malley as he collected himself together from all the confusion. Tucker brushed off the remarks of the others and looked at where they were. "Sig, help me out here."

"It would appear we are about ten kilometers off from the hideout," said Delta suddenly materializing besides Caboose. They all looked at the map Delta drew and Sigma highlighted the best route they could take. Theta appeared beside the two fragments, although the purple fragment seemed to be hiding behind Delta while conducting his work. "We could take this route to make our travel even shorter."

Sarge looked at the newly suggested route and agreed. "Great going Theta, I guess having little fairies around is paying off in the long run after all."

"Donut could have told you that," said Caboose earning silence all around. "What?"

"Too soon Caboose, too soon," Doc answered amongst the slightly dreary mood. Tucker led the way back according to the directions and made it safely back into the base. The mood remained quite dreary after that, especially for Sarge. No matter how much Samuels would ask, he could not get any response out of the crew.

"Just what is this?" Equal asked comfortably seated on his chair. He left a dominant impression on everyone in the room from his glaring tone to his angered stare. The report in front of him was not pleasing in the least. He stood up walking around his desk. Coming face to face with the employees, he stared them all down and saw their fearful selves finally come out of hiding. He turned to walk towards the window and looked outside. "After all the resources I dedicate specifically towards this case, this is all you can get me for a result?"

"But sir finding them is proving to be more difficult than we anticip-"

"I don't want excuses," Equal rebutted immediately having closed his ears to such talks. "Save those for your pity sessions amongst one another. Do you know out of all the other sectors how many resources, including manpower I left at your disposal? I was promised results in under a week."

They all remained quiet with their heads low. Equal took that as a sign to continue. "Yet here we are, it has been two days over a week and all those resources seem to have gone to waste. All that precious time I could have spent on rebuilding the station. On top of that you come to me with the news of stolen weapons!"

"Sir, please calm down," requested one of the staff with their head the lowest he had ever seen it. "Please, anger won't solve anything."

"I disagree, maybe because you are all too calm that you can't do jack squat!" Equal shouted holding himself back from raising his voice any higher. "This level of progress is pitiful for the one squad that had been trained on a much higher level than others. I expected more out of you people and your division! And now we have to investigate this stolen shipment of weapons as well. Weapons that I might add were supposed to go towards the war effort."

"We are really sorry sir."

"Leave my sight!" Equal stated in a swift manner. The three employees in the room left with their heads low and spirits nearly crushed under the weight of Equal's scrutiny. Justice looked at them all as they entered the elevator and gave them a look of pity. Yeesh, once he really starts chewing others out he really chews them out. She turned to walk into the room and saw him sitting at his desk with his head in his hands.

Justice walked to his side and placed a firm grip on his shoulder. "Don't worry too much Equal. You will only create more stress for yourself this way."

"What else am I supposed to do with our time drawing near? We are so close and yet these small screw ups keep on happening. After all this time spent on the setup, I can't let this be for nought. We have a conviction to uphold, I have a duty to you all."

"But getting angry at them won't solve anything."

"Stop defending them Justice," Equal scoffed shoving her hand off of himself. He stood up to stare out the window at the busy sector and blew out a sigh. "If they as military personnel can't defend themselves, then don't go around defending them. All I could hear out of their mouths were bloody excuses when they should have owned up to their mistakes. At times I really wonder if these people actually want us to succeed in this war or not. I just see hindrances everywhere in those times."

Justice suddenly patted Equal's back and leaned onto him. "There you go again with the negative talk. You know we all want to succeed in our collective goal. It's just that they enemy is much better at hiding their presence than we anticipated."

"For a bunch of B-class soldiers, I doubt that would be possible unless it was the incompetence of our own soldiers."

"Well leaving that behind," said Justice getting his attention. She held up her fists in front of her and he looked at her questionably. "Time for some training."

"I can't even think of that in times like these."

"You can't hope to win a war if you let yourself go physically or are underprepared Equal. It doesn't hurt to hit the gym once in a while you know," said Justice practically dragging him out of his office. "Plus, if you want to lead the soldiers into battle in the war then you better be prepared the best you could be."

"You just want to kick my ass again," Equal asked with a flushed face recalling all the other times he had lost to her ever since they began to train him in various fighting techniques. "And then be able to gloat about it to Truth."

"Maybe," she winked back at him with an innocent smile, but with the intentions and tone of a playful devil.