Chap 3

Same author's notes as first.

Hope it's okay!

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"Beach.. where's the comm unit?" He pointed to one side and she scooped it up. The rattles and clangs continued as she tried to raise someone on the radio. Finally it came to life.

"This is Duke.. CoverGirl, did Dusty and Cross-Country get there? You guys doing okay?"

She breathed softly a few times before she spoke. "They're here, but I can't get them to talk to me on the comm, they bumped us around a little, but I don't know what's going on.."

Duke's voice came back to her soothingly. "I'll try to raise them, just keep calm. How're you doing?"

"I'm okay.. heat exhaustion.. getting dehydrated.. but Beach is already in heat stroke, we need out, now." She tried to not to sound paniced. "I just can't raise them to find out what the problem is."

Dusty's voice suddenly broke in. "CoverGirl.. we're here.. we broke a chain, we've got it fixed and are getting it refastened. Sorry, but the comm unit got knocked around and was on the wrong channel. We're right here.." There was a double clang from outside. "See? We're right here. Gonna get you guys out in just a minute."

She heaved a sigh, turning to look at BeachHead. He had lain his head back and relaxed. When he spotted her looking at him, he gave her a thumbs-up encouragingly. "They're going to give us another try in a second." He nodded. "Dusty.. give us some warning.." As if cued by her request, the tank shifted. "Oh blast!! Hang on!" The wreckage jerked sideways and she saw Beach grabbing for something to hang onto.

Her world tilted and jerked and she felt the piping under her fingers as she tried to grab and hold on, just as it slipped away. Grunts and thumps told her Beach was faring no better as she hit something with her chin and then went weightless again as the 'floor' decided to twist again.

When the tumbling stopped, she lay on her face with a leg hung up on the pilot chair. "Ungh.. that sucked.." Getting herself untangled, she saw BeachHead trying to sit up looking dazed.

"Oh man.. I'm getting payback for ever' time I ever put a bug in a jar and shook it as a kid.." The comm unit buzzed loudly. "Answer that would ya... if it's for me.. tell 'em I'm out.."

She grabbed it. "Dusty you jerk! You didn't warn us! You ever been rattled around in a dice cup? Are you trying to kill us?"

Beach had gotten up and was twisting the hatch lock. "Cinderella.. give me a hand.. I can't get it open.." She put the comm down and tried to help him twist. With both of them wrenching at it, it inched around slowly. "That's it.. it's unlocked.. just.. dang it!!" Beach got below it and braced himself to try to force it up. "It's jammed.. oh fer the love of little green peas... this really is just too much!" He put one powerful shoulder on the underside and braced his good leg. "Eeeergh!!!"

Covergirl yanked at him. "Stop Beach! It's jammed! Let Cross-Country and Dusty get it from the outside." He subsided and settled to the floor. "Good.. good.. just sit there."

"I'm havin' a seriously bad day.. can I have a do-over?" She gave a soft laugh and he sighed. "Get on the comm, tell them to get the danged hatch open."

She clicked the comm a few times. "Dusty.. the hatch is jammed.. hey.. you guys out there!?" There was a banging noise up above them. She put her ear up near the hatch to hear muffled yelling.

"Covergirl! Our comm is out! Open the hatch!!" She was nearly certain it was Cross-Country. "Undog the hatch!"

She put her mouth up next to the periscope, hoping there might be some crevice to carry her voice better. "HEY!! THE HATCH IS UNDOGGED!! OPEN IT!!"

There was slight shuffling above her, then Dusty's voice came through, with him speaking near the periscope hatch as well. "Hey! We're trying to open it.. undog the hatch!"

"IT'S JAMMED!!! WE UNLOCKED IT!! OPEN IT!! OPEN IT!!" She pounded on the underside ineffectively with her fist.

Beach stepped up and took her arm to stop her. "Hey.. calm down.. you'll break your hand.." She pulled away and grabbed a loose piece of metal and used that to pound the hatch. "Well.. that's better I guess..."

"OPEN IT!! OPEN IT!!" She shouted and then threw the metal bit, jumping when it bounced off the wall and flew at her legs. "Come on!!"

"Courtney.. I hope you meant it.. I'm gonna call yer bluff.. gimme a hug.. come on.. you need to calm down.. it'll be fine." He wrapped both arms around her and held her still. It was the only thing he could think of to calm her. "Shh.. calm down.. it's just the heat.. please don't knee me in the nads for touching ya.. I'm havin' a bad enough day.."

She sighed and squeezed him tightly for a moment. "I'm okay.. just.. I'm just so frustrated.. this is so dumb." They listened to clanks and scraping noise over their heads. "At least they seem to understand we can't open it." He let her go and she stepped back and settled into the piloting chair. Instead of taking the secondary position, BeachHead settled on the floor leaning against the wall. "You doing okay?"

"Nope." He was glancing around the interior. "Nope.. put yer clothes back on.. they're gonna think we was foolin' around.. that'd be bad.."

CoverGirl nodded. "Yes.. I'll do that in just a second. Just a minute, okay?" He nodded, satisfied that she would do it. "Beach.. look at me... Beach... hey.." She watched his breathing quicken. "Beach.. calm down..."

"I'm... I'm really not feeling well..." He stared at the wall opposite him. "Can't get my breath.. did.. did I go for a run?"

She settled on the floor next to him. "Yeah.. just rest.. calm down.. slow deep breaths.. Beach.. look at me.." His face turned towards hers and he shivered. "Hey.. I'm gonna go yell at Dusty.. okay?" He nodded.

Getting up carefully, she scooped up a metal chunk of the wrecked console, banging it against the hatch. "DUSTY!!! HELP US!!! PLEEEASE!! HELP US!!" She could hear muffled cursing. Abruptly there was the sound of metal squealing loudly. There was the smallest crack of light suddenly as the hatch began to be pried upwards. "YEAH!! HELP!!! HELP!!!!" As the crack widened, she backed up, turning to grab Beach by one arm. "Get up Beach.. come on.."

"In a minute.." She dragged at his arm ineffectively and he pulled away. "Leggo.. " To her horror his eyes began to drift shut.

"Oh no you don't! Get up!" She looked up as the sunlight began to shine through the hatch being forced open bit by bit.

Dusty's muttered curses blended with Cross-Country's groans of effort as they apparently forced the hatch open by sheer will power and stubbornness. "Almost... almost.. hang on guys.. "

Beach suddenly looked up and blinked at the opening hatch. "LOOK OUT!!!" He swung his left arm in a sweep, knocking Covergirl aside and down, clutching at himself with his right, hunting for a weapon he wasn't wearing. "Incoming!" He snatched at the holstered .45 laying on the floor as CoverGirl lunged upwards knocking his hands away. "We got hostiles!! MOVE!!"

"NO!! Beach!! BEACH!! It's Dusty and Cross-Country!! It's JOES!" He paused and looked at her confused. She could see him trembling as he struggled to stay upright. "Look... it's Dusty!" Beach settled back on his heels, the bandage looking especially bright against his bare skin.

The sergeant ran one hand through his ruffled hair. "Sorry..I.. I'm confused.." He watched the hatch being wrenched off. "You tell me if I need to do something.."

She smiled at his trust in her. "Get up and get ready to get the heck outa here.." He nodded and moved over nearer to her, crouching next to her legs patiently. "DUSTY!! COME ON!!!!! GOOOO!!! YEAH!!!" Her yells of encouragement didn't really speed up the process, but it sure felt good. The air that began to flow felt deliciously cool compared to the furnace temperatures trapped inside the tank. There was one last loud crack, and the hatch flipped free completely.

Dusty stuck his head in, and grinned rakishly. "You Joes wanna come out and play? Come on.. " He reached a hand down to CoverGirl who turned and dragged at BeachHead's arm, getting him on his feet. He bent and grabbed her legs around the knees and boosted her up through the hatch despite her protests. Dusty grabbed her arm, lifting her bodily through the hatch. "Wow!" Suddenly remembering her state of undress, she glared at the desert trooper who hastily looked down into the tank instead. "It really was bad in there.. you got heat waves coming out.. come on Beach.. gimme your hand.. come on Cross-Country, get his other hand, let's get our Sergeant major out of this oven.." BeachHead was lifted out by his arms, his greater weight making the two Joes grunt with effort. "There ya go!"

CoverGirl waited for him to clamber down from the tank, taking his arm as he staggered in the sand. "Let's get you to some shade.." They both sat under the front edge of the Mauler while Cross-Country unhooked and stowed the chains. Dusty brought water, making certain that BeachHead started drinking.

Being the resident expert on heat, he very quickly became concerned. "Beach.. you're in heat stroke.. we need to get you evac-ed.. where's your comm unit?"

Beach snorted, sipping at more water slowly. "Where do ya think? Do I look like I got pockets?" Dusty nodded and went to climb into the MOBAT, gathering up their clothing and weapons. Beach swayed slightly where he sat, turning a bemused look on CoverGirl. "You look good."

She laughed at him. "You look good too Beach. Nice shorts."

He glanced down at them, as if surprised. "Yep.. these are my formal shorts, I only put them on fer special occasions.. like.. military formal things.. or dinners.. or getting stuck in tanks with crazy beautiful women tank jockeys.. stuff like that."

Dusty came up and handed their clothes over to them. "If I were you, I'd put on the bare minimum.. of course CoverGirl's bare minimum is always much less than yours Beach.. nothing personal, but you got hairy legs."

He snorted up at Dusty, rocking back and forth slightly as his head tilted. "Watch it.. if I gotta get up to kick yer butt.. I'm gonna kick it twice.." He panted for breath. "Dang it.."

Dusty took his wrist to check his pulse. "It's okay. It's the heat stroke, just try to breathe normally.. we got a chopper coming to take both of you out for treatment." He held up the comm unit. "Dusty here, ETA on that medical evac?"

Lifeline's concerned voice came through clearly. "Ten minutes ETA, give me symptoms.." Dusty ran down everything, while he was wetting down a bandanna to give each of them. "Make sure they're not vomiting up the water you give them.. it's not cold is it?"

Dusty sounded disgusted. "No of course not. They're just sipping it too, but they need some iv fluids." He bent to look at BeachHead's blank stare. "Beach? Hey.." He clicked the comm again. "Beach just passed out.." He was blinked at. "Sorry.. false alarm... he's awake again."

"I'm havin' a bad day.." Dusty grabbed his shoulder and shook it. Beach turned to CoverGirl. "See? Never a kind touch.."

When they heard the rescue chopper approaching, they all got up to move that direction. CoverGirl and Beach had tugged on pants but left off anything else, although Dusty insisted on drenching the clothing they had on with water to help cool them a little bit. BeachHead continued to fade in and out. While they trudged across the sand to meet the chopper, BeachHead turned his head to say something to CoverGirl and suddenly collapsed in the sand with a loud 'snap'.

"Dang it!!" The cursing reassured the slender tank jockey that he was alert and aware. "I think I jus' broke my blasted ankle in the sand... son of a.... I can't believe this!"

Dusty bent to check him. "Take it easy.. you.. wow.. you really busted it." Beach struggled to sit up and looked with disbelief at his crooked ankle. "Sorry Sergeant major.. " They both ducked their heads, covering faces as the aircraft landed nearby and blew sand over them. Once the rotors slowed, the desert trooper shook his head, slinging sand off himself. "Here.. you need me to carry you?"

"No! Dang it.. I can walk.." Despite his protests, the Ranger needed Dusty's shoulder to move across the desert sands to the waiting helicopter. "Stupid blasted day.. I shoulda never got outa bed this mornin'. If that chopper goes down on the way to the Pit, I swear I'm gonna lose it!"

CoverGirl looked a little alarmed at the idea. "Wait.. the way his luck's been running.. we might all want to ride in another flight... "

"Very danged funny! VERY DANGED FUNNY!" BeachHead's snarl trailed off as he blinked back darkness again. Lifeline grabbed his arm and helped lift him on board. Dusty helped get him settled and handed CoverGirl into a seat.

Handing her the bundle of clothing and personal weapons, he gave her a quick pat to her shoulder. "You guys are in good hands now.. ya'll keep an eye on Beach though, heat stroke ain't nothing to shrug off." He hopped out and headed back to the wreckage to rejoin Cross-Country in the salvage of ammunition and the onboard computers. The rest would be dragged back to the Pit for disposal or parts removal later on by a clean-up team of greenshirts.

Lifeline knelt in front of her, grabbing onto the seat as they lifted off. "Hey.. look at me.." He flicked a bright light into her eyes, making her blink. "Let me check your pupils.. what's your name? What's today's date?"

She repeated the answers to standard questions, reassuring him as to her mental state. He took her temperature in her ear, making her rub it afterwards. "I hate it when you stick stuff in my ear!" He grimaced at the reading.

"You're over-heating.. I know.. you know that already.. but you're close to a dangerous level of it, so keep sipping your water.. I'm gonna start an iv on your arm.. it won't hurt much.. just a little poke.. you'll feel ten times better once I get you rehydrated." She shook her head stubbornly. "Look, it's going to get done, whether you want me to do it or not.. you don't get a vote, I'm the medic."

"Do Beach first.. he's worse off." She nodded over at the other passenger who was staring out the opposite open door with his eyes closed, enjoying the wind from their passage. "He needs it more than me."

Lifeline nodded. "I know.." He took her arm and tied a rubber tourniquet in place anyway. "He wants you to get done first, and assured me he won't fuss or fight with me if I get your iv started first, it's just more time efficient to go along than to fight with him. As bad a shape as he's in, he's too much of a handful for me to be wrestling in an open chopper. I'm a combat medic, but I can't fly.. and I have no desire to try to replicate SnakeEyes' dramatic landing without a parachute. I'm no ninja."

While he was amusing her with his reasoning, he'd already gotten the needle inserted into a vein. "Your veins are starting to collapse, because you're dehydrated.. I want you to keep your arm just like this.. don't bend it.. don't touch the iv or the tape.. got that? It's looking good now.. but I don't want to have to put another one in. One good poke with a needle is more than enough for one day, right?" She nodded, and watched him attach a bag of clear fluid and mess with all the dangley tubes. The bag was hung up on a hook over her head on the chopper wall. "Okay.. just sit.. keep sipping your water.. and if you start to feel like you're going to throw up.. do it towards the door, not on your favorite medic, okay? I'd appreciate it." He grinned at her as she nodded. If he was joking with her, she was reassured that she couldn't be in too bad of shape and relaxed. He stepped over to the drooping form of the Sergeant major and began the low shouts he'd used with her.

"Hello, hey.. look at me.. what's your name? What's today's date?"

BeachHead opened his eyes to peer at him. "Eleanor Roosevelt, and it's December forty-seven, four hundred and twelve BC, and the capital of Minnesota is 'M'. Shut up and put in my friggin' iv line."

"Hang on BeachHead.. I need to find my big huge dull needles.. wouldn't want you to not have something to gripe about.."

"Yeah, ya probably do carry some just fer me." His eyes slid away and he blinked rapidly. "I can't see..."

Lifeline had his arm extended, attempting to find a vein to use. "You're okay.. it's like tunnel vision.. is it clearing?"

"Yeah.. it comes and goes.. like fainting but not.. " He peered down at his arm. "Ow.. ow.. how many times are ya gonna stab me? CoverGirl only got one stab!"

"I'm going to stick your arm once for every time you made me run the obstacle course.. how's that?" Lifeline made another attempt, grimacing as the vein promptly collapsed as soon as the needle entered it. "You're so dehydrated, the veins can't support the iv line. I might have to hit your big neck veins instead. Let me try your other arm.."

"Yeah.. you would wanna stab me in the neck on a moving chopper.. probably take out my danged eyeball. Ow.." Beach suddenly tilted his head back and let it thump against the wall, letting out a sigh. His entire body relaxed slowly and Lifeline reached up to pinch the center of his upper lip without warning. "OW DANG IT!!" He woke up and swatted the air in front of him, missing the medic who already had hit the floor of the chopper. "DANG YOU!! That HURT!"

"Had to make sure you wouldn't lose consciousness.. do you really want to go into a coma?" Lifeline was already back up, capturing the errant arm and going right back to sticking his needle into veins. "Just sit still, but stay alert.. I don't need you passing out.."

"Sadistic bastard.." Beach looked at his arm. "Why am I bleeding again?" Lifeline ignored him to attach his tubes and bag of fluid. "Hey! You got one.. good fer you.. no neck pokings fer me."

"Yep.. just don't move your arm.. if that vein blows, I might have to stab you in the thigh to try to find your femoral.. or your neck.. so I suggest you hold it really still and let the fluid work on you.. here.." He picked up a cloth and poured water over it to wipe the man's face and torso, then handed it to him into the non-iv-laden arm. "Keep wetting your skin down, it'll act just like if you were sweating and start cooling you off. Your temperature is waaay high.. if we don't cool you down, you'll end up with brain damage.. not that I don't think you already have plenty of brain damage from all the other junk you get into.. but I'm pretty sure we should try to avoid letting you have any additional brain damage."

"Yer a jerk... just sayin'. How come we didn't find ourselves a nice polite medic?" BeachHead was still obeying the instructions even as he complained to Lifeline, their squabbling amusing CoverGirl immensely.

Lifeline reached up and patted his cheek before he could duck, smiling at him smugly. "You did get some nice polite medics, you just scared them all off with your PT, shouting and body odor. So you're stuck with me by your own actions. When you turn into a nice polite kind well-groomed drill instructor, then you can have sweet kind medics that will hold your hand and coo sweet nothings in your ear. Until then, you're stuck with me."

"What a prick.. hey Courtney?!" Beach turned his head towards her, but his eyes searched blindly again as his vision faded. "Hey.. didja jump out or are ya still with us?"

She grinned, looking at her iv to make sure she hadn't screwed it up accidentally. "I'm still here Beach.. I'm not leaving."

"Good.. did Dusty steal my danged .45? I didn't get it before we left." He blinked and focused on her. "Ahh.. there ya are.. you look good."

She laughed at him. "I have your guns, and thanks, you keep telling me that. I'm gonna think you've been ogling me or something." He blushed and turned his head away, examining the iv site. "I'm already feeling better.. these baggy things are great.. I should keep some in my room for when I feel bad.. just stab one in whenever I want."

"You would." He took a deep breath and turned his head as a gust blew sand in his doorway. Wiping his cloth over his face, he looked back at her. "I'm glad you'll be okay.. I was starting to worry about us in there. You know.. cause Dusty ain't all that great at prying open cans.. I've seen him struggle with a pop-top of coke.. much less a wrecked tank." He tucked his cloth aside to get the bottle of water and sip at it. "You do a really theatric scream for help when you're motivated."

CoverGirl swayed in her seat a little. "I was motivated, what can I say? It sure spurred those two guys to get us pried out, didn't it now?"

"It did that. Who wouldn't start getting frantic with you squealing like a frightened little girl just the other side of a few measly inches of metal?" His amused expression deepened. "That hatch didn't stand a chance. We should just be glad it wasn't TunnelRat outside, he'd have blown it open with C4, and we'd be shredded like taco lettuce."

Lifeline stepped back to BeachHead to kneel at his feet. The Ranger grinned down at him. "Now yer showing the proper respect..."

"Oh shut up! I'm going to wrap up your broken ankle.. oh.. this'll hurt by the way.. don't hit me or I'll have to do it twice.." Lifeline grasped his foot and tugged it straight, ignoring the loud yelp of pain. "Aww.. see? That wasn't so bad. Once I wrap it up tight, it'll feel better until Doc can finish setting it and put a cast on you."

"Sad-DIS-tic.. you really got issues Lifeline.. what happened to the kind pacifist medic that never wanted to inflict pain on any living thing?" Beach watched the bandaging.

"That kind little skinny medic met you.. that's what happened. At least I'm still nice to everyone else... right CoverGirl?" She nodded and Lifeline tugged the bandage a little bit more snug. "Okay.. how's that? Too tight?"

"No.. it's fine." The medic started to reach for his thigh bandage and Beach brushed his hand aside. "That's fine.. Courtney wrapped it for me. Leave it alone."

"I need to check it.." Lifeline's second attempt was brushed away as well. "Look you. You said you wouldn't fight with me if I treated her first.. were you lying? Sit still and let me look at it."

"I don't want you to! She did it up just fine." BeachHead let him remove the dressings anyway. "See? Now you done gone and made it bleed again, it wasn't bleeding before." He winced as Lifeline probed the ragged wound. "Ow.. stop messin' with it!"

"You're going to need this stitched up, but it's not too bad. I'll bet Doc lets you out of medical in only a couple of days." Lifeline paused. "On crutches of course."

"Crutches??? Are you nuts?" BeachHead pointed at the thigh wound which the medic was rebandaging. "Crutches for THAT??"

Lifeline pointed at his wrapped ankle. "No.. crutches for THAT. Or have you already forgotten you snapped your ankle too? Should I poke it for you to remember it's broken?"

"Oh." The sergeant major subsided. "I feel a lot better."

"You should.. the fluids will perk you right up, you'll be shouting at everyone like normal by the time we land. You'll still be overheated, and still need a lot of time to finish cooling down, but you'll FEEL better."

CoverGirl looked out her side of the chopper. "Hey!! There's command!" She waved out the door at the small figures. "Are we landing here?"

"Yeah, our medical evacuations are using Tomahawks, this rescue chopper is for field extractions. Lucky, we don't have many people to move this time and it's not that far to get back to the Pit." Lifeline reached to take her bag of fluids, much less full already, and handed it to her. "Carry this.. can you walk? I mean seriously.. I can get a stretcher.."

"I'm okay to walk.." Her legs were just a little wobbly as she got out, leaning on one of the greenshirts who rushed out to help her. She turned to check and saw Beach insisting on exiting the chopper on his feet rather than on a stretcher. Lifeline supported one side so he could hop on the good leg. "BEACH!! Stop being so STUBBORN!"

He shot her the bird and continued on his way, even as another greenshirt ran up to take his opposite side. She could hear him fussing at everyone within range.

She entered the tent of wounded and found a spot to sit. Her helper took the bag of fluid and attached it to a pole hanging from the tent supports. Lifeline pointed at her as he slowly helped BeachHead into a different area.

"Heat exhaustion, possible concussion, head laceration, check her for any other injuries, keep that iv going.. " He disappeared through a canvas doorway with his complaining sergeant major. CoverGirl sighed and laid back at the urging of one of the field nurses.

"Hey.. let's check you out.. you got way too hot.. you should have gotten out of the heat and been drinking more water."

The tank jockey scowled at her. "I couldn't, I was trapped in my danged MOBAT, so stop acting like I don't know to come in out of the rain or something." The nurse sighed at her. "Oh.. geez.. I'm sorry.. I've been trapped with BeachHead.. it must have rubbed off on me.."

"Well, that would irritate most anyone.. here.. drink this instead of plain water.." Given a bottle of half gatorade and half water, CoverGirl sipped at it and waited for her turn to leave.

When the commotion started, she sat up and looked around. A few greenshirts ran by, and the canvas of the tent shook suddenly, not as if a chopper landed, but more like a chopper landed ON it.

"What's going on??" She started to get up but one of the interns motioned her back down. "What is it? Are we under attack?"

"No.. everything is fine.. stay there. You'll pull the iv line out, so just stay put, people are taking care of it." When she glared at him, the intern shook his head. "Really, there's nothing you could do right now. The other smaller tent just went down, one of the main support lines snapped or something, and it collapsed."

She stared at him. "Oh good lord!! Is anyone hurt?"

"No.. it's all fine, we were using it for some of the more serious wounded, but they were all being evacuated first though." He motioned vaguely off to the canvas doorway that sagged crookedly now. "Luckily, everyone was already out except for one Joe.."

She suddenly grinned, he'd been right to wish he hadn't gotten out of bed, his luck hadn't improved just because he'd made it to the treatment area. "Oh, no... let me guess..."

He sighed ruefully. "Yes, of all folks to get caught in a tent collapse, we'll never hear the end of it.. the sergeant major was the only patient still inside. He's okay though, we can all clearly hear him cursing under the canvas.. they'll get him out really quick..."

She smiled and laid herself back down. "Poor Beach.. never a kind hand...."

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DONE. So that's BeachHead and CoverGirl trapped in a tank, poor BeachHead has to have bad days on rare occasions. I know, I took them a little bit past the actual trapped part.

Don't forget to suggest pairs(or trios) or situations(places) for trapping. I love reviews too. Lots and lots of reviews.