Hey guys! Welcome to chapter 4 of NOT: The Bad Company. Second chapter in 2 days, wow! Helps that I had a snow day today, worked on it all day :D
The tank sat quietly, unmoving deep within the forest. Its tan exterior was surprisingly good at blending into the forest-like environment. It sat as still as a stone, breaking the outlines of the forest and confusing the eyes. A few birds chirped loudly as they flew from tree to tree. There were a couple rays of sunlight that made it through the thick canopy of the tree line. Fog blanketed the ground, almost completely covering it. It created an almost ocean-like feel. Visibility was only a few feet ahead, and even the biggest of trees were hidden.
Inside the tank was dark, completely dark. It was quiet and warm inside, and everyone still asleep. The air was quiet warm and comfortable due to all of the body heat in the small area. It was very safe feeling, since they were all together. The metal of the outside walls of the tank were cold as steel, but served to make sure it didn't get too hot inside. The soft sounds of the four in the turret sleeping echoed off the steel walls.
They were not morning people.
Vegas was the first one up usually, and today proved no different. He had found it hard to shake the training he had had to always get up early. He was getting better though.
He opened his eyes to complete blackness, and couldn't really tell if his eyes were even open at all. The air around him was encompassing and safe. The feeling represented the close ties with the people sleeping around him. It was warm, soft, and comforting.
He pushed the top of the sleeping bag off, continuing to lay there. Illuminating his watch, he read the time.
Ugh, they really needed to get up.
Vegas took a small flashlight from the single pocket on his sleeping bag, turning it on. It shined a bright white light across to the wall on the other side of the turret, where Lauren was still sound asleep.
The cooler sat on the ground where they had left it the night before, or morning, whichever you prefer, since they had gone to bed when it was almost three in the morning. It was joined by the various belts, vests, and heavy boots on the ground that they had opted to not sleep in. They were in no way thrown about in an organized fashion, something Vegas had found hard to get used to at first. Though now, it was second nature to him.
As much as he hated to admit it, their rather unkempt ways had grown on him.
He thought about whether to wake the group up, seeing as they still needed to cover a lot of ground today. Though, they really had no destination. They're main objective at the moment was to keep enough food and water in the coolers, finding civilization was just a bonus at this point.
He figured he should wake them up.
Shining the bright light in Lauren's face, he watched as she winced at the night. Her arm came out of her sleeping bag, covering her face.
"Lauren, wake up, we gotta get going," he said in a normal voice, not trying to be quiet for the others.
She groaned at the rather rude awakening, rubbing her face with her hands.
Vegas did the same for the other two, shining the little night in their faces and watching them try to block it.
"Come on guys, get up," he said, crawling out of the turret area.
"Dude, not cool," Dylan moaned, his voice filled with sleepiness.
Vegas moved down to the driver's seat, shining the light in the little area. He grabbed the man who slept there's shoulder, shaking it.
"Niles, get up," he called to the sleeping man. With a groan, he was awake.
"Ok ok, fine," he replied in a tired voice.
Now that everyone was up, Vegas turned the overhead light on, lighting up the tank. The three in the turret briefly covered their faces from the blinding light. They laid prone, up on their forearms. Niles soon joined them from the driver's compartment, coming to sit in the gunner's seat with the group, yawning. Vegas took his seat in the loader's chair, waiting for the others to fully wake up. He pocketed the little flashlight on his pants pocket.
Lauren looked over to Dylan, who's hair was sticking up in all different directions. She couldn't help but laugh quietly.
"Nice hair Dylan," she laughed in a sleep voice. It quickly drew attention to his hair, and soon everyone was laughing quietly.
"Yours is nice too," he replied sarcastically, trying to comb it down with his fingers.
Kyle stretched his arms out, asking, "what is there for breakfast?"
"Same as dinner noob," Niles answered, already going for the cooler. His hair was not nearly as messed up as the others. The others chuckled lightly.
"I'll check what it looks like outside," Vegas volunteered. He sat in the loader's seat, switching on one of the screens. The light reflected heavily off his face, showing the outside world through one of the multiple cameras mounted on the top of the turret. Using the joystick, he turned the camera all the way around, looking for any threats. All he saw was a bunch of trees, and thick fog on the ground.
While he was checking that, Niles was busying making himself something to eat. He figured that he could eat while they kept driving and the rest got themselves ready and ate.
"Nothing out there, we're clear," he announced, leaving the screen on. They would monitor the outside world from inside, not really wanting to get full of sand when they made it out of the forest.
"Alright guys, hang on back there we are heading out, get ready in case we find something," Niles said before turning back, ducking down to get back into his driver's seat. He took another bite of his sandwich, putting the bottle of water he had grabbed into the cup holder he had installed to his right. He pressed the large red button to the right of the steering, turning the engine on. The roar of the tank rattled the occupants slightly, but they were used to it. He began flipping the necessary switches, including those for all of the lights. The dark forest in front of them was now completely illuminated due to the six spotlights and the two normal headlights.
"Hey Niles, can we get some air back here?" Lauren called down to him.
"Sure thing," he replied over his shoulder, flipping the switch for the engine fan to blow. Though it was a simple addition, the fan could effectively blow hot air from the engine, or suck the heat out of the tank, leaving it cold. It was definitely one of the first things he installed when they were first issued the tank.
"Thanks man," she called back.
"Yep," he answered.
Pushing lightly on the gas pedals, the tank slowly started moving through all of the trees, pushing them down as it hit them. Niles continued to eat his food as he drove.
The rest of the group in the back didn't budge. Lauren covered her head back up with the sleeping bag, deciding sleep sounded better than food at the moment. She found it easy to sleep more, drifting into a light sleep.
Dylan had never left his sleeping bag, and decided to go back to sleep as well. He zipped the bag all the way up, completely covering him in it.
Kyle was never one to need much sleep. He stayed up with Vegas. The two ate with some idle chatter. Kyle sat on the ground just behind the little opening for the driver's compartment, talking to both Vegas and Niles as they went along.
"Man, it would sure suck to have the tank break down again," Kyle said out loud. Vegas lightly laughed.
"Don't tempt it," Niles warned.
They traveled for hours, throughout the entire day. It got to be quite boring just sitting there in the cramped space, but none of the them really cared.
They had made it out of the forest after a half an hour of traveling, and were now in the unforgiving desert once again. Dylan and Lauren had awoken a couple hours after going back to sleep, well rested. The hatches were closed to keep sand out, but it wasn't stuffy or hot inside. The fans made sure it was a comfortable 70 degrees inside. Inside, it still seemed like it was the middle of the night, with only the light from the overhead lamp to illuminate the space. There was no way of telling how light it was outside, but none of them really cared to see the sand anyway.
To pass the time, they passed stories back and forth, laughing at the humor in them.
Spirits were light, and overall the team was happy.
The mission had been successful. Large plumes of black smoke billowed up from the village. Flames climbed up into the air from the destroyed tanks. People scrambled from the vehicles into shelter in fear of them exploding.
All in a day's work.
"Yeah cancel that arty firing, all targets are down," Lauren said over the radio to base. She was standing out the loader's hatch looking at the village from a distance through binoculars.
They were about six miles outside the village stronghold that they had just successfully blown up with no backup at all. Though the original mission had been to get fixed locations on high-value targets such as tanks, they had never planned on doing that. Instead, they had used a supply of C4 they had taken from one of the ammo lockers in the camp. Since not a lot of C4 was used, there was a plentiful supply for them.
"What? What did you people do?" the battery commander yelled back from the other side of the radio.
"We did your job, only we looked cool while doing it! SUCK IT!" Dylan took the radio from Lauren, yelling back into it.
"Listen to me soldier, you WILL get back to th-" Dylan shut the radio off before the commander could finish.
"Noob," he mumbled to the commander.
"Dude, we are going to not get beds for a month now!" Kyle yelled at Dylan from the loader's seat above Dylan.
"FINE! He is a noob anyway," Dylan yelled back up to Kyle, laughing.
"He just screwed us over bad," Lauren mumbled to Vegas, covering up her face in disbelief.
Vegas stood manning the heavy machine gun for the tank, still looking very shocked as to what had just gone on. He had never done something so….against orders. The thought of being in trouble with the commanders didn't sit well with him. But, he so desperately wanted to become a respected part of the group, and knew if he tried to plead ignorance to the commanders would only set himself apart from them. As reckless as they were, being part of a squad was more than simply having to be with them all the time. They became family, brothers and sisters, people that you would give you life for, and that would give theirs for you.
That was too much to give up for sleeping in a tent for a month.
Dylan made a move to turn the radio back on to see if the commander was still yelling at them, but was slapped by Kyle above him.
"Don't turn it back on ya fuck!" Kyle yelled at him.
"Dude, what the hell is going on up there?" Niles yelled from the driver's compartment.
"Dylan, as always," Kyle replied.
Lauren couldn't help but laugh lowly at the antics that were going on down there. Vegas looked over to her, finding it somewhat entertaining as well.
It was the middle of the night, around 12:30p.m to be exact. They had been traveling all day with nothing spotted. They had the overhead light still on, so at least they could see. The whole day had been spent talking back and forth, eating, or sleeping. Very, very boring for all of them.
Suddenly, Niles stopped the tank. The others in the back shifted forward violently, Kyle almost falling from the turret area into the gunner area onto the floor.
"Woah shit!" Lauren yelled, laughing as Kyle almost fell face first onto the ground. It was a good three-four foot drop that was almost footed by his face. Dylan and Vegas started laughing.
Luckily for Kyle, he was able to grab the very edge of the metal before falling. Dylan and Lauren also grabbed his shoulders to keep him from falling. Vegas was there pushing from the front on his shoulder as well to stop him.
"Jesus Kyle, don't take a face dive into the metal floor ya noob!" Dylan laughed loudly at him, enjoying for once that it wasn't him.
"Wow, that was a fail," Kyle said to himself out loud as the others removed their helping hands from him.
"Yo guys, I think there is a camp out there," Niles called up.
Those riding along froze, and the mood suddenly shifted from happy and playful to serious. Vegas immediately turned to the observation camera. He switched it to night vision, which lit up the entire area. He spotted what looked like a group of tents, resembling a camp. There were hundreds of them, spread out over a huge area. He couldn't see anyone around or anything moving. There weren't any vehicles in sight, but that didn't mean it wasn't a dangerous place.
"It's definitely a camp, but I don't see anyone or anything," Vegas replied, eyes glued to the screen.
"Then I guess we better check it out," Dylan announced happily, eager to get out and move around.
Being cooped up in the very tight area inside the turret all day with very little room to even move around, the group was eager to get out and stretch their legs at least. Plus, they were in need of something to vent energy on, given that they were used to high energy usage during the day. To suddenly not do anything for more than 8 hours was a shock to their systems.
"Better suit up then," Kyle said to them, pulling himself from the shelf-like sleeping area with his arms to the ground. The others didn't protest to the notion, eagerly following Kyle.
Dylan jumped down to the floor below, bending down to grab his things. He picked up his jacket, gloves, face mask, baseball hat, and belt with weapons safety carried in it. He stepped into his combat boots, choosing to leave them untied. He suited up, putting on his jacket and other equipment. He pushed the large backpack he usually carried around far into the corner, choosing to not worry about it for the time being.
"Can one of you hand me my belt please?" Lauren asked, choosing to be lazy and stay up on the ledge, looking down at the three in the tiny area trying to grab their things while not falling over or stepping on each other. She laid with her arms crossed, laying her chin on her hands.
"Get your lazy ass down here and get your stuff," Dylan yelled comically. The others laughed.
"Well I'm trying to help you guys out by staying out of that area so you can get your things," she replied in a smart tone.
Dylan mocked her as he continued to get ready.
"Here you go," Kyle answered her, handing up her leather belt.
"Thanks buddy," she replied, taking it from him. She rolled over on her back, making it much easier to get on in the tight area.
The group finished getting suited up, loading weapons and making sure equipment was ready. They had no idea what was out there, and wanted to be ready for anything. Niles continued to approach the camp, driving the tank closer and closer.
"Hey guys, we're moving in, get on that main gun," Niles yelled back to the others as they were finishing getting ready.
"Give us a MINUTE!" Dylan yelled sarcastically, causing everyone to laugh again. He yelled like he was mad, but in reality, he only did it to be funny.
"Hurry your ass up then!" Niles yelled back up, continuing to drive closer.
Dylan, Vegas, Kyle, and Lauren were frantically gearing up, since it was clear Niles was using time against them to his advantage. They threw on combat boots, tucking the strings into the boot instead of tying them fully. The four could barely move things were so cramped back in their little living compartment.
Then, they were all thrown forward by the tank shifting violently. Kyle and Dylan were thrown up against the wall, and Vegas almost hit his head on the turret loading shoot. All four were instantly assuming they had been attacked, reaching for something to hold onto. Lauren almost fell off the ledge from where she was laying. Luckily for her and her face, Vegas was able to hold her against a face plant into the metal ground. He had grabbed her shoulders, holding her up on the ledge.
"Why you guys always be fallin' off that ledge?" Dylan yelled, laughing.
"I wasn't expecting a sudden stop!" she retorted, pushing herself back up.
"Thanks Vegas, you saved my face from a lot of pain," she regarded him.
"Mah bad guys!" Niles called back, keeping the tank steady. H
"You could have warned us!" Kyle called back to him, recovering from the thunderous jolt.
"I'm sorry, I missed my mouth while taking a drink, but this was fun too," Niles replied over his shoulder, earning a laugh from the others.
"Ok, get that fifty-cal up and mounted, if we haven't been attacked yet, we have time to get that up and firing," Lauren said to Vegas, who was instantly gratified that he was going to get to use his weapon of choice.
"Don't have to tell me twice," Vegas replied, grabbing his heavy helmet and pulling it onto his head. He strapped the strap to his chin to make sure it didn't fall off if this turned into a fire fight. He reached back into the corner of the turret and pulled the barrel of the heavy machine gun forward, then grabbed the body of it.
"Going up, cover me," he announced. Kyle took the heavy lock off the gunner's hatch, pushing it open forcefully. Dylan sat down in the gunner's seat, pressing the buttons on the console to activate the gun systems. The targeting screen came on, and the main gun was now active. He scanned the screen for anything moving, but luckily for them, there was nothing.
Vegas worked fast to get up the hatch, pushing the heavy metal gun up first and laying it flat on the top of the turret. He set the mounting socket on the gun onto the receiving socket for the mount. Putting the securing bolts in place, he cocked the gun back, opening it up. Kyle handed him up some belts of ammunition, which Vegas quickly wrapped around his neck. With one end, he loaded the belt into the gun, cocking it back and readying to fire.
"Fifty-cal ready to fire," Vegas called down.
"Roger that," Niles called up, moving the tank forward once again.
With another person out of the little now-dressing area, Lauren jumped down to the floor, hoisting herself up and out of the sleeping area with her arms. Quickly, she took a hair tie from her wrist, wrapping up her shoulder-length hair into a ponytail. Reaching down to the ground, she picked up her pistol holster, wrapping the device around her right leg. She then grabbed her Desert Eagle pistol, ejecting the magazine to make sure it was full. After seeing it was, she loaded it once again, cocking the gun and placing it in the holster. Stepping into combat boots, she too decided not to tie them.
"I got loader covered," Kyle announced, letting everyone know the gun was good to go. Lauren and Dylan nodded to him.
Niles moved the tank slower and slower, until they were practically crawling. They could hear the treads hit the sand one by one as they moved.
The Noobs of Terror were now entering the camp, and all were on high alert. There were no fires in the camp, and it was a crude one at best. The tents were all ripped, and looked like they had been left to sit in the desert for a week or two now. There were tens of hundreds of tents around, all in random places. It didn't look as if they had planned out roads within the camp or anything.
Dylan swiveled the turret around, searching the tents as they slowly passed them one by one. Vegas was looking for anything that could be of use to them within the tents, spotting mostly bags of clothing and dirt.
These people had obviously left in a hurry.
"Hey Niles, I see a cooler!" Vegas yelled down. Niles stopped the tank as Dylan aimed the main gun for the tent.
"You sure it's a cooler?" Dylan called back up to Vegas, looking at it through his camera.
"Positive," he replied.
"Lauren and I will go check it out, give us some light" Kyle answered, looking to Lauren who nodded.
"We got you covered," Dylan replied, giving Kyle a pat on the shoulder. He moved the spotlights over in the direction of the supposed cooler.
"Oh great, I feel so safe," came his reply. He pulled himself up with his arms, leaping up through the loader's hatch, coming up next to Vegas on the heavy machine gun.
As Kyle made it up through the hatch, his skin was attacked by the cold, dry air of the desert night. It was a stinging cold, contributed by the occasional pelt from the sand in the light breeze. He didn't have his heavy combat coat on, only his white t-shirt.
"It's over there," Vegas said to Kyle, pointing to a tent that was directly to their right about ten yards off. Kyle nodded, pulling his legs out of the hatch and moving down the side of Old Ironside. Lauren followed up the hatch, sliding down the side to get by his side. She too felt the cold air on her arms and shoulders, but like Kyle, she ignored it.
Dylan swung the camera around the circumference of the tank, scanning to make sure they would not be ambushed while keeping the fixed turret spotlights on the others. Vegas kept his aim on the immediate vicinity of the two.
Lauren drew her pistol from the holster, holding it just in case. At the same time, Kyle drew his M9 pistol.
"Go, I'm right behind," Lauren told him, bunching up behind, pistol held down. They moved up quietly to the left side of the large tent, careful to pad their steps. It looked to be a command center, being square in shape and large flaps that were mostly torn down.
Lauren made eye contact with Vegas behind her, who was still locked onto their position. Turning back, she tapped Kyle's shoulder. It was the signal that she was ready. With a forceful push forward, the two secured both the left and right corners of the tent.
Both were confronted with absolutely nothing.
They let their armed hands fall, seeing that there was no threat.
"I knew there wasn't anything here," Lauren remarked sarcastically.
"Hey, less work for us," was Kyle's response. He holstered his M9 pistol, walking towards the cooler that Vegas had spotted.
"Come on, let's get this back to the tank," he said. She followed him, holstering her weapon as well.
He kneeled down in front of the tan colored box, lifting the hinged lid off.
"Jackpot," Lauren said, seeing its contents.
Inside were ten packaged rations, as well as two small thermoses of what they assumed was water.
"We won't have to eat Dylan anymore at least," Kyle remarked.
"Grab the food, I got the water," she told him, taking the thermoses off the top of the pile. They were small, no more than a liter in size, but it was enough to last them for a while. Kyle grabbed the packaged food from the cooler, standing up to follow Lauren back to the tank.
"We got room in the coolers?" Lauren asked Vegas, who only laughed at his own success.
"Sure do," he replied. "Hey Dylan, open that cooler down there, we went shopping."
"About time we got something other than sandwiches, what are they?" he asked, getting up from his gunner seat and opening the cooler that still laid on the floor of the tank.
Lauren handed up the thermoses to Vegas, who set them on top of the tank. Kyle handed the boxes up to Vegas one by one. He looked at them as he handed them down to Dylan.
"You're going to be happy, more sandwich stuff!" Vegas called down, laughing at the cruel irony. Dylan took them down, packing them in the cooler. The rations contained dried beef as well as peanut butter and bread that was probably stale.
"FUCK MY LIFE!" he yelled sarcastically, angrily throwing the boxes into the cooler. The others all laughed. Lauren and Kyle both jumped up onto the tank, sitting on either side of the main gun, aimed straight ahead. They held onto it to keep from falling when they started moving.
When Vegas had handed down all the rations as well as the thermoses, Dylan stood up through the loaders hatch to complain more.
"I'm so sick of sandwiches, seriously why can't we find like, hot pockets or steak and potatoes?" he ranted.
"Dude, we are in the middle of a desert…" Kyle replied.
"I'm pretty sure neither cows nor grocery stores are in the desert, and if they are, we are pretty unlucky," Vegas added. This was the first camp they had come across so far, and it was unlikely that they would come across another.
"Is everyone back or are we still waiting?" Niles called up, unable to see what was going on up top.
"We're all good, keep moving," Dylan answered. The tank began to move forward again, slowly.
They scouted the camp anywhere the tank could get, looking for anything they could use. Lauren and Kyle were the designated go-getters, but they never strayed far from the tank, which was a mobile base in their minds. It was their home away from home, their Headquarters, their lifeline.
In their search, they had found more coolers in tents scattered around, but most were empty. They had managed to get some more thermoses with water in them, which they collected in their cooler. Other than that, they found no more food or other supplies. Weapons and ammunition were gone, as well as any vehicle supplies or firewood.
The squad was nearing the edges of the camp's perimeter, and were getting ready to get back into the tank to continue traveling for a couple of hours until it was time to sleep again. Kyle had gotten back into the tank as well as Dylan, who took up their positions as the gunner and loader. Lauren stayed out on the tank's hull, keeping Vegas company at his post.
It had been another uneventful day unfortunately.
"You think we will find anyone out here?" Vegas asked Lauren truthfully. She took a bit to respond, thinking about what would happen if they didn't find anything. Eventually, their food and water would run out, whether they admitted it or not. There was really nothing to scavenge for in the desert, and there was no water to get. Their survival depended on finding more camps or cities.
"I doubt it. We are in this huge desert, with no idea where we are. There are no landmarks, no features, nothing to navigate. The possibility of us finding a camp is very slim," she replied.
"It would be a lot easier if the GPS would work," Vegas added. Lauren nodded.
"Yeah it would, we'd actually know where we are, but unfortunately it doesn't, so we're out of luck," she answered. They had a mobile GPS unit, but it had never really worked, and the team had never needed it, so never bothered to get a new one or have it fixed.
Real smart move.
"What if this camp is a forward outpost? We could be getting close to a city," Vegas said, looking around at the tents. They were not set up in any fashion, and it made them wonder if these were even soldiers that had set them up. With such little plan or thought into the configurations, they would expect more out of a military.
"If it is, next drinks on me," she replied sarcastically, doubting that it was an outpost. She was not normally wrong on these things, but it wouldn't be the first time.
"I'm going to hold you to that," he replied, smiling.
Then, the tank slowed to a stop. The bright spotlights were shining on a massive object about twenty yards in front of them. It was a very odd texture, looking almost like plastic. It was wrinkly and camouflaged a dark tan. Lauren and Vegas looked at it carefully, unsure of what to make of it.
"What the hell is that?" Niles called up to them.
Dylan and Kyle looked at it through the cameras, though they had no answer for Niles.
"I have no idea what that is, but its fuckin' big," Kyle said.
"Think I should go check it out?" Lauren asked the group.
"Go for it," Vegas replied.
"Get it, it could be something cool," Dylan called up to her.
"Cover me noobs, I'm going in," she said, pushing herself off the hull of the tank and landing on the ground. She drew her Deagle once again, holding it downward as she approached. The light behind her created a massive shadow off her, shining up onto the object.
All were focused on the object. Vegas gripped his machine gun tightly, holding the aim steady. Dylan held the main gun targeted in the dead center of the object, while Kyle kept his eyes on the monitor, ready to jump and reload as quickly as possible.
The shape of the object was odd; it had a large circle shape at the top, like something was holding it up. It formed a large cylinder shape, and they were unable to make out any other lines to see what it was.
Getting closer to it, Lauren was able to touch it. She poked at it with her pistol. It was lightweight and plastic-like in sound and texture.
"Hey guys, it's a tarp!" she yelled back to Vegas, who was the only one that could barely hear her.
"She said it's a tarp," Vegas relayed her message down to the others.
"There has to be something under it then that they were trying to keep hidden," Kyle added, thinking what it could be doing there.
"She's going for it," Dylan announced, watching on the monitor as she moved right up next to the tarp. The other's quit talking and focused. Keeping her pistol aimed at the tarp, she reached out with her left hand, grabbing the tarp. She pulled on it, backing up to get it all the way off. It came off fairly easy.
When the tarp fell to the ground, revealing what was under it, the squad was speechless.
"Oh…my…god…" Vegas muttered under his breath.
"Holy shit…" Dylan said out loud, effectively expressing what the others were feeling as well.
"Dude no way!" Niles yelled up to the others, seeing it through his cameras.
Lauren couldn't look away from it, and didn't really know what to think.
"HAHAHAHA! EPIC SICK NOOBS!" Lauren yelled back in a fit of happiness.
The group had just happened upon an Apache Longbow helicopter.
"I call gunner!" Kyle yelled, jumping up as fast as he could from his position and running towards the chopper.
"Hey guys, isn't that the chopper that was captured from Sergeant Adams a couple months back?" Dylan asked.
"A2117, I thought that was the one," Vegas replied, seeing the numbers painted n the side. He had been told about how Sergeant Adams' beloved Apache was captured by an enemy undercover agent a while back, and they had not really tried to locate it, chalking up the loss. He had been upset about it.
"Doesn't look like they really needed it," Dylan added, seeing that it was just sitting there.
Lauren opened the top door on the chopper, while Kyle opened the bottom one. They both climbed up the side, getting into the cockpit of the chopper. The seats were black, slick leather, and in front of them was their respective control panels. The various buttons and switches were no problem for these two, they had both had piloting experience during training. Lauren was an exceptional chopper pilot, often performing maneuvers that even the superiors wouldn't try. Kyle was an excellent gunner, and never missed a target.
The helicopter was painted a dull black color, which made it invisible in the darkness. It had 4 long, swept rotors on top. The nose had a large bulb on it, containing different camera arrangements. On top of the rotors was a large doughnut shaped object, which was the Longbow weapons system. On the left side painted in full color was a large Bald Eagle swooping down from the side with an American Flag streaming behind it in a patriotic fashion. On the other side of the hull, it read "Screamin' Eagles" in sharp, white font.
Sergeant Adams was a very artistic person.
"Comms on," Lauren said to Kyle in front of her through the opened door, taking the helmet from the rack and putting it on. Pushing up the sunshade and making sure the microphone was in place, she activated the communication system on the dash. Using the device they all wore on her first finger and thumb, she opened a communication line with those in the tank.
Holding the glove close to her face, she said "Comms active, channel 45.6."
Dylan received the transmission. "Roger that, going online."
"Comms on guys," he announced, taking his own headset off the holder.
"Hey Vegas, get down here, I need a loader," Dylan told Vegas, who was still posted at the machine gun.
"Got it," he replied, quickly detaching the machine gun from the post. He handed it down to Dylan, who took it and pushed it in the back for storage. Vegas closed the hatch, sealing it tight.
Closing the chopper doors tightly, both got situated within the vehicle.
"Comm check 1, 2," Lauren spoke into the mic to make sure local communication was fine between her and Kyle.
"Loud and clear, weapons coming online," he replied back, turning switches to turn on all his sensors and guns. He had a camera mounted on the nose of the chopper for various views such as night and thermal vision. He also had control of a chain gun mounted directly under the belly of the chopper which was controlled by his head movements as well as a joystick. He also had control of the missiles, flares, and rocket pods.
"Longbow going online," Lauren said to him, turning the Longbow weapons system on. Their heads up displays came on in front of them.
"This is Ironside, you guys getting anything?" Dylan transmitted over the system. Both Kyle and Lauren heard it on their side.
"This is Eagle, is everyone online in there?" Kyle asked.
"Niles online," Niles said.
"Vegas online," Vegas replied.
"This is Ironside, we are all online, your rotors are clear," Dylan said, looking through his cameras.
"Motors starting," Lauren said, pressing the large power button on the dash. The whine of the motor started and the blades began to turn, slowly at first, but gained speed quickly. They both strapped themselves in with the harnesses. That whine turned into a roar of wind and sand as they spun quickly.
All of the buttons lit up a dull teal color, revealing a dash board filled with the things. The choppers lights were turned on, having a bottom facing headlight as well as fin and tail lights.
"Clear for take-off," Dylan said to them. He acted like their air traffic control, giving them information on things around them and giving them clearance information. They worked together well.
"Roger that, Eagle going up," Lauren replied, gently pulling back on the stick. The chopper began to levitate, leaving the ground. A huge cloud of dust and sand covered the tank as they lifted off the ground.
"Ironside moving out," Niles said over the mic, pressing on the gas pedal. The tank moved forward, lighting the way with its headlights. It quickly made it up to cruising speed, about fifty miles per hour. A trail of dust followed behind them.
"Roger that Ironside, we're right above you," Kyle replied. Lauren turned the chopper around, following the tank closely. The speed felt like a crawl to them, able to cruise at almost one-hundred and fifty miles per hour. But, they needed to stick together in the unknown desert. They were just able to see the tank in front of them, letting it lead the way with the headlights, making it easier for them to see. They stayed close to the ground, to avoid any detection.
"Hey Kyle you got Hydras and Hellfires?" she asked, referring to the types of missiles that were equipped.
"Yep, Hydra rocket pods and Hellfire missiles on both sides," he replied.
"Nice, total boss," she replied. They were armed to the teeth with this helicopter.
"Sure is," he said.
They travelled for another two hours, retaining the same formation. They talked back and forth, as if they were all in the tank right next to each other still. It was very dark. No one could see anything more than a couple miles in front of them. There was no dust storm, which made it easier to see at least. None of them could see anything for miles. There was just, nothing.
The crews were getting tired. Though the day had been mostly uneventful, the time spent awake was taking its toll.
"You guys thinking about sleeping soon?" Niles asked over the radio.
"Yeah, I'm getting tired," Dylan added.
"Same," Kyle said.
"Doesn't matter to me, you want to shut it down right here?" Lauren asked.
"The closer the better, I need to sleep," Niles said.
"Pick a spot, we'll land right by you," Lauren told him.
"Ok, hold on back there, we're shutting down," Niles said to the others, bringing the tank to a soft stop.
"Coming down," Lauren said, slowing the chopper to a hover. She let the altitude fall, dropping it down steadily. Holding just above the ground, she made sure everything was straight. Gently, she touched down the tires to the ground.
"Touchdown," she said.
"Systems going offline," Kyle added, shutting down all of his targeting equipment. Lauren shut down the engines, letting the rotors slow. The lights in the cabin turned off, and they took off their harnesses.
"Open the hatch for us, going offline and coming in," Lauren said, getting ready to turn the comms station off.
"Roger that, hatch opening, Ironside out," Vegas replied, getting up to open the hatch.
They took their helmets off and opened the doors, closing them behind them and walked towards the tank, which was only about twenty feet in front of them.
Niles shut down the engine and headlights. The inside cabin lights came on, letting them all see.
Lauren and Kyle jumped up the side of the tank, moving down the hatch. Kyle made sure to close it after they both got in. Both were still pumped after finding that Apache.
"Dude, that was SO epic!" Kyle exclaimed to the others. Niles showed up, sitting in the corner with the others.
"I'm surprised you guys didn't crash and burn," Dylan said sarcastically, earning a laugh from Vegas and Niles.
"Hey, I'm a good pilot, I had training and everything," she said.
"You did? Wow, didn't know that," Vegas said.
"Yeah, in training I was actually going to be a chopper pilot, but I decided a sniper was more my style," she explained, "and now look where I am."
The others chuckled.
"Yeah, with me, because I'm awesome," Dylan said jokingly.
"Sure you are Dylan, sure you are," Kyle said, patting his back. Lauren just laughed at him, leaning up against the opposite side of the space.
"Sorry I can't stay up with you guys, but I'm just exhausted, skipping eating, just gonna sleep," Niles said to the others, giving them a good night. He was the only one that did anything all day, driving through the entire day. It was draining on his mind, especially non-stop.
"Hey no problem, see ya tomorrow buddy," Lauren replied, waving him off.
"Yeah I'm with Niles, I'm tired as hell," Kyle added, climbing up into the back turret. He got into his sleeping bag, covering his head from the overhead light.
"K, night," Lauren said to him, not really feeling all that tired. The rest chimed in with their wishes as well.
"I bet you never thought you would get messed up in anything like this did you?" Lauren asked Vegas, though didn't specifically address him. Though each felt like they had known each other for ages, it had only been about a week since they were introduced.
"Not in my wildest dreams no, but I wanted to," he replied.
"You ever regret joining?" she asked.
"Never. I knew from the time I was a kid that I wanted to serve my country in any way I could, and if it means I have to cross a desert with zombies on the other side of a tank, that's what I want," he responded.
She smiled, looking down as she slid off her boots, leaving them on the floor. She sighed.
"You're a good man Vegas, a brave one at that. I just hope we get passed this to see more action," she said.
Vegas removed his helmet, setting it down from his seated position.
"We will, after all I have seen so far, the one thing I have learned is that you guys never fail. There is no other group I would put so much faith in," he answered truthfully.
"You're a trusting man too, to put so much faith in a squad with our reputation who you just joined a week ago," she laughed. "But don't worry, you're one of us, and we never leave a man behind."
He smiled, feeling very safe knowing that they thought of him as one of them. That was what he had strived for from the beginning, the be accepted.
"Plus, it takes a certain degree of insanity to be one of us, which we are working on with you," Dylan chimed in, smiling.
"That's true, I don't think a sane person would ever do half the things we do," Lauren said, chuckling.
"I have to admit, that first night I was with you and we went on that mission and destroyed all the tanks, I was scared out of my mind to go against HQ's orders. When you guys started blowing things up, I didn't know what to do," Vegas explained.
"Eh, screw HQ, they want everything done by the book, and we don't play that game. We didn't waste arty shells, didn't alert the enemy to where we were, and only hit the targets. Simply, quick, and easy," Dylan said.
"But, I had just gotten off basic training, it's hammered to you that you don't ever go against orders," Vegas said.
"Right, and I understand that, but we shocked that out of ya," Lauren said.
"Hey, anything it takes to be a Noob of Terror," he added.
"That's right buddy. Now we should all get some sleep, we'll need it for more travels tomorrow," Lauren said, moving to remove the holster and belt from her being, leaving them on the ground by her boots.
"Yeah I'm wiped out, see ya guys," Dylan said, removing his combat garb as well and climbing up into the turret next to Kyle. One by one, both Lauren and Vegas moved up into the turret as well, Vegas switching the light off on his way up. None of them had any true idea of how things would play out, but they were convinced that whatever happened, they could handle.
Thanks for reading! Next chapters are going to get pretty epic, stay tuned!