Hey guys! I've had this chapter written for quite a while now, but just got around to uploading it. Enjoy!
"I seriously cannot believe our luck," Vegas said as they approached the outer limits of the city. The group in the tank had been able to see the city for about ten minutes now, and they were quickly approaching it. The sun was high in the sky, raining heat and bright light down on them. It was getting towards late noon, but was still very hot and very bright. A heavy hazy covered the tall buildings ahead, making visibility an issue.
Lauren and Kyle were far behind in the chopper, high above the tank. They followed at a lengthy distance, following a well-known strategy when entering an unknown city. It was very unwise for a helicopter to enter a potentially occupied city before ground forces, because it was much more vulnerable to attack from buildings as well as obstacles themselves. As such, the tank would be entering first, and the chopper would come in after the area was cleared.
The city looked massive from their point of view. They could see that it went on for miles and miles. There was everything from high rise towers to tall office buildings to the small "mom and pop" shops and restaurants in between them. There were also streets that were strictly dedicated to outdoor markets as well as large intersections. It seemed to have the modern and cultural sides to the region they were in. It was quite a mix.
But still, no people.
"Yeah, but we aren't out of the woods yet, we don't know who or what is already here, we can't be the first ones," Lauren said.
"I'm not picking anything up so far," Kyle said, looking through his cameras. He was still quite far away from the city though, making it possible there was still a threat lurking between buildings.
"Just move in slow, we have your cover fire if you need it," Lauren told the tank crew, who was ready on the main gun. Dylan had showed Vegas how to reload, and he had practiced while they were making their way over here.
"Roger that Lauren, Ironside moving in, get ready back there," Niles said as they moved towards the outer city streets. The city was tightly packed. There was a street that led into the heart of the city, blocked off by high buildings and light posts. It would be hard for the chopper to provide close quarters fire if it turned into a street fight.
"Eagle, do you have a layout of the city for us? We can't see anything," Vegas asked over the mic.
"Yeah, we will send you a picture now, there are many small streets that lead to huge intersections," Kyle said, sending them a picture from the Longbow system. It appeared on one of the tank's screens, letting the crew see the layout from their point of view.
"You'll be fine, don't worry," Lauren added once again.
"You don't sound very confident with that," Dylan noted sarcastically.
"Hey don't worry bro, I got your back," Lauren repeated with the same sarcasm.
"I seriously can't tell if you mean that, you gonna just leave us in the middle of a city?" he taunted back.
"Nah, I wouldn't do that, I would miss Vegas and Niles too much," she replied again.
"You're real nice," he said.
"I try my best," she replied back.
Kyle kept his eyes on the monitors during Dylan and Lauren's exchange. Though he listened to their rants, he was more concerned with what was being shown on all of his sensor gauges and screens. He furrowed his brow at a certain heat signature on the thermal vision. It was mostly hidden by the buildings, and was hard to make out. All he could see was the large, square-ish back of what looked like some type of vehicle. He couldn't be sure though. From the back he could see what looked like heated exhaust billowing into the air. This could easily be just heat coming off the pavement though.
"Hey guys, I got what looks like an unidentified vehicle on your four o'clock, it's just sitting there though. I'm sending the target info to you now," Kyle warned them.
"Roger that Eagle, we have it," Dylan said, seeing the target light up on one of his monitors. Vegas looked over Dylan's shoulder as the screen, seeing the real time image of the object.
"That definitely looks like some type of vehicle, but I haven't seen something that looks like that before," Vegas noted out loud.
"Yeah, we better not piss it off," Dylan added.
"Just don't go by it, you'll be fine," Kyle reassured them.
Niles moved slowly down the street as he made it in-between the buildings. They crept so slow that they could hear the treads hit the concrete individually with a clacking sound. The buildings were even more close together than they had seemed before. There was barely enough room for them to make it through without hitting the sides of buildings. Polls lined the sides of the roads as well, making it an even tighter squeeze.
"I don't like this guys, I have a really bad feeling we're not the only ones here," Niles said, looking around through his view. They couldn't hear anything that went on around them, and even with a proximity scanner, there was very little room for them to make an escape. They felt like someone was watching them…
"Keep moving Ironside, we're moving in to cover you," Lauren said, diving the chopper down to catch up with the quickly.
"We are, don't freak us out," Dylan answered back. He moved the main gun around on the turret, scanning on the targeting computer for any movement. Vegas quickly sat down in the loader's seat, taking control of the observation cameras. He moved them in a complete circle, looking for any threats.
The chopper was closing in. Now that they had successfully entered the city streets, they could get closer to them. Both kept a close eye on the scanners.
Suddenly, there was a sharp movement to Ironside's five o'clock. It immediately caught their eyes.
Kyle couldn't believe his eyes…this was bad.
"Fuck..." Lauren muttered.
"SHIT Ironside tanks and infantry moving in from your five o'clock! MOVE YOUR ASS NOW!" Kyle yelled over the microphone. He saw two unidentified tanks as well as a group of infantry quickly moving towards their rear. This had become very serious now.
"FUCK hold on guys!" Niles yelled, flooring the accelerator. The tank lurched forward quickly, the engine revving loudly. Vegas hastily whipped the camera around to see the lights of two large battle tanks behind them. Infantry was flooding the streets alongside them.
"Smokescreen going up! Lauren get your ass down here and cover us!" Dylan yelled, flipping the switch on the board, releasing the tanks defensive smokescreen from tubes on the turret. The little grenades flew up into the air, exploding and creating a blinding smokescreen, giving them time to get away hopefully.
Lauren flew as fast as she could get the chopper to go, reaching speeds of one-hundred and fifty miles per hour. Their muscles were tight and adrenaline was pumping, hoping that they could make it in time.
"I can't get between the buildings, they are too close together!" she yelled back.
Their hearts were all racing. None were really able to focus, all of their actions were just gut instincts. They knew in such a tight area and with an unknown enemy, their best bet was to try and keep moving, but if need be, they would attack and defend.
The proximity scan started beeping wildly as they blindly sped through the tight city streets. They ran over anything that was in their way, taking out signs, parking meters, and even sides of buildings.
The road continued down a long, slightly curved hill. The street was so narrow, and the added stress of being chased was making their driving reckless. On a cross street, Niles was unable to get the beastly tank through, taking out a supporting post for a small market stand. Fruits and other products spilled onto the ground, pulling the rest of the structure down into the street behind them.
They roared down the hill, picking up even more speed. Stopping was not something on their mind.
"Keep going they are still behind you!" Lauren yelled at them as they entered the limits of the city overhead. They were catching up fast, and hopefully it would be in time.
Vegas and Dylan looked at the monitors as they signaled something straight in front of them coming closer. The siren was blaring loudly.
There was a large intersection ahead of them, with nowhere to go in the middle.
"IN FRONT OF YOU!" Kyle yelled to them, seeing an ambush coming. From all three sides of the intersection a tank was moving in, cutting off any retreat. Infantry was all around them, waiting.
At that moment, Ironside was in the center of the crossroad. Two tanks from their left and right suddenly showed up from behind the buildings, blocking them in.
"FUCK they are all around us!" Dylan yelled in a panicked voice.
He yelled that just in time to be cut off by a tank blocking the road in front of them. Niles slammed on the brakes, locking up the treads to avoid rolling over the tank. The others in the back slammed against the walls of the tank. It skidded to a stop, leaving hot tread marks all the way down the road.
"SHIT we're surrounded," Niles yelled, ripping off his headset and throwing it against the dashboard in anger. Something like this had never happened to them, and he was infuriated that they were unable to get away.
Infantry began crawling out from around buildings and tanks, slowly approaching the tank with weapons aimed.
Those inside the tank were getting very anxious. They could feel their hands and feet start to shake, and their warmed faces soon became very cold.
"Don't shoot don't shoot don't shoot," Dylan repeated out loud.
"NO! Fucking DO NOT shoot!" Niles yelled back to him in a angry voice.
Lauren and Kyle were right above them, low to the ground in the chopper, circling the action. They could not believe what had just happened. The ambush had come so fast…there was nothing they could do about it. Now, all they could do was hope they didn't execute them on the spot.
It left them speechless.
"Turn the engine off now!" The man outside ordered loudly. Niles quickly reached over in an angry fashion to press the ignition button, shutting down the loud engines. The large turbine engine whined softly as it slowed to a stop.
Neither Dylan nor Vegas could believe this. They stared at each other, fear in their eyes, and a bit of confusion.
Were those orders in English?
They removed their headsets, choosing to hang them up rather than throw them. Although Dylan was more angry that they had been caught by someone, this was a worst case scenario for Vegas. Being a prisoner of war was not something he had really prepared himself for.
"Get out of the tank slowly with your hands on your heads!" one man yelled from a loud speaker mounted onto a troop carrier.
"Do as he says, get the fuck out," Niles said, lifting the front opening for the driver's compartment at the front of the hull. He slowly lifted it, showing his hands as he exited. He quickly noticed the flags on the tanks' antenna in front of him, and the insignia on the people's clothing.
They were British.
Niles' hands and arms were quickly grabbed in a rough fashion by the infantry men, and he was pulled the rest of the way out. The repeatedly told him to stay calm and not to try anything, but he simply didn't respond back.
He was pissed.
Once he was out of the hatch and down the front of the tank, the men pushed on the backs of his knees to get him to kneel down. They bound his hands with handcuffs, and continued to hold them up against the back of his head. He was patted down from head to toe. They confiscated his belt which had ammunition as well as his M9 pistol and the holster. They also took his combat knife that was strapped to his upper leg in a holster.
Dylan and Vegas both opened their hatches, slowly climbing out of the tank and moving down the side. They were kneeled down next to Niles in a line at gunpoint. They were stripped of their weapons as well.
"What weapons do you have in the tank?" one of the men asked who was searching them.
"An M4, TDI Vector, an XM8, SV98, M95, an 870, some frag and smoke grenades, and some combat knives," Niles answered. The man nodded and looked over his shoulder, waving in another man. He moved over towards the tank, climbing up onto the side and moving down the hatch to gather the weapons.
All of the infantry as well as the tanks around them and behind them were poised to strike at a moment's notice. Their hands were on their heads as they waited tensely.
"Well, that worked well," Dylan mumbled to Niles.
"NO SPEAKING!" a British man yelled at him in a thick accent.
"I'm sorry I'm sorry!" he yelled, shutting his mouth.
"Land the chopper immediately or be shot down!" the man now yelled through the speakers.
"FUCKING LAND!" Kyle yelled to her.
"I have to find a spot dammit!" she yelled back, lowering the chopper carefully. She was careful not to hit any buildings or wires with the rotors. There was a small space off to the left of Ironside that was about as good of a place as they would get.
"We should have seen that coming," Kyle said over his mic as they were descending.
"Well, we sorta did, but chose to go in anyway. If they haven't killed us yet, there is still hope for us," she replied.
The wheels touched down, and she stopped the engines, letting the rotors slow with a loud whine.
"Exit the helicopter with your hands on your heads!" he announced, and they did as they were told. Though they knew they had a chance of escaping, they were not about to leave without the rest of the group.
Slowly opening the doors, they moved from the chopper, not bothering to close the doors once again. They put their hands on their heads, and were met by angry looking infantry men right at the doors. They grabbed their hands, holding them up to the backs of their heads. They pushed the squad members up against the chopper, searching them for weapons. Off of Kyle they pulled an M9 pistol with some magazines of ammunition, as well as a combat knife. They got a knife and a Desert Eagle off of Lauren. The men put the weapons into their pockets, holding them.
"What weapons do you have in the helicopter?" one asked.
"Two CAR-15s, one in each cockpit," Kyle answered. The man nodded, signaling another to go find them.
After they were cleared, they were led towards the rest of the group, walking quickly.
All around them there were rifles pointed at them, as well as tanks and heavy machine guns.
It was quite a comforting feeling.
They joined the others, being pushed down to the ground next to them. It didn't take long for Lauren and Kyle to realize that they were in very little danger. They picked out the flags on the tanks and uniforms easily, realizing that these people were British.
Historically, the British and US had always been allies since the Revolutionary War, and frequently met up in the field together in modern times. As long as they could convince them they were American, things would be ok, hopefully.
Shouldn't be that hard.
The man who was speaking to them walked up, looking at them fiercely. Admittedly, he did have sort of a comical face on, and Dylan was having a hard time not cracking a smile.
"DON'T LAUGH DYLAN YOU FUCKTARD!" Niles yelled loudly at him. The group was immediately yelled at by a group of soldiers who were aiming down their sights at them.
"Stand down men," the man who approached them said. He had arrived in an army green jeep that looked past its age, but it was still running smoothly.
They were quite, and backed off immediately for the man. He was very calm, taking his own sweet time to get things moving. It only made it more nerve-wracking for the five kneeling in front of him.
"Sir, we recovered these from them," a man said to him with two other men behind him carrying all of their weapons. The man looked at them with a pleased look on his face.
"Good show, load them up in the truck then," he ordered.
"Yes sir," the man replied, leaving to walk towards a supply truck off to the right.
The man glanced at the little flags that flew on both antenna of the tank the five had been driving. Both were clearly American flags. It was also an American battle tank, the M1A2 Abrams. Looking over to the helicopter they had landed, he noticed the Eagle carrying the American flag on the side. It also was an American war plane, the A-64 Apache Longbow. They also wore clothing that had U.S Army insignia on it. He was highly convinced these were American soldiers, and that they posed little threat to them or their camp.
"You are Americans, yes?" he asked them. There was a pause, as none of them answered. "You can answer," he added after the pause.
"Yes sir, we are," Lauren answered him strongly.
"What are you doing so far outside your Forward Operating Base? And how did you not know we were here? This is restricted military space," he asked, looking skeptically at them.
"My apologies sir, we did not mean to intrude, we were only trying to find civilization," Lauren answered while the others stayed silent.
"Our base was completely wiped out by some type of virus or something, it turned everyone in the base into living dead, we are the only ones that made it out. We have been trying to find food and water since," she answered. They watched as the man's face suddenly became more serious.
"Your base was attacked as well?" he asked seriously.
"Yes, are you familiar with this plague?" she asked. He nodded his head slowly.
"About a month ago half of our forces were taken out by the very same thing," he answered, his accent very thick.
"And so you set up a new base in this city?" she finished.
"Yes, this is all we have left" he replied, seeing that these people were not stupid by any means, and knew what they were talking about. "What are your names soldiers?"
"My name is Lauren sir, and these are Kyle, Vegas, Dylan, and Niles. We are a special operations squad for the 10th Cavalry Battalion," she said.
"Ah yes, I am familiar with that division, they are located down towards the coast, quite a distance you have traveled," he answered.
"It has been quite a journey," she added.
"My name is Carl Winston, I am the commanding officer of the 5th Battalion as you have already met," he introduced.
"A Lieutenant-General I see? Very impressive sir," Niles said, showing that he knew what was going on, and was not completely ignorant to another army's ranks.
"Indeed," he replied. The troops around them all seemed a bit confused as to what was going on. What turned out to be a vital security breach was now nothing more than an unfortunate meeting of two allies. They had lowered their weapons, waiting for new orders.
"Well lads, looks like we have caught some lost Americans here," he said with the jolly laugh. The others around hem visibly relaxed, knowing full well that the Americans were allies. Never before had they seen an atmosphere change so quickly. It left them almost confused.
"Well, shall we go back to the camp and enjoy the rest of our day boys?" the general asked out loud. He earned a cheer from the soldiers around, who seemed eager to go back to a day of kicking back.
"Swell then. Major?" the man called on the Major.
"Yes general?" he asked.
"Gather an escort for our guests, have them in my tent, I wish to speak with them. Find a couple pilots to bring the helicopter back and bring the Abrams back to the lot. Move the men out and tell them to go back to their normal routine for the day," he ordered.
"Yes sir," the man answered, immediately moving out to carry out his orders.
The general began to walk back to his small jeep that had been carrying him around. An almost sinister smile came onto his face as he thought about this plan coming together so well. They may be able to pull this off yet.
A group of six men came over to the squad who was still kneeling uncomfortably on the cement. One came up behind each of them and helped them to their feet. The last man tagged behind, who they assumed was there to shoot them if they tried to escape.
They were walked through the streets back to the base, which was about half a mile away from where they were. Infantry that was in the road parted ways for them.
Behind them, equipment was moved back into formation and readied to move back to camp. The infantry gathered back into their squads, awaiting orders from their officers.
As they walked, they were able to see two people enter Ironside. The roar of the engine was heard, turning a couple heads at the sheer volume of the finely tuned engine. Niles could only imagine what this would be like to see them try to drive it.
They could tell that those inside were not used to the controls. Suddenly the bright lights shined into everyone's eyes. Those in the direct path of the light covered their eyes. The squad laughed quietly to themselves.
"This is interesting," Kyle said out loud, earning a small laugh from the others.
The lights quickly went out. Suddenly the loudest horn anyone had ever heard blared through the air. People yelled in disapproval, some covering their ears.
By now the squad was laughing loudly at the comedic act of watching these people try to work their tank.
Then, suddenly the tank burst forward in a fit of speed. The whole body lurched backwards onto the rear treads, the front lifting up about a foot. The engine roared loudly, the turbine spinning furiously. The tank sped across the road for about ten feet until those inside slammed on the brakes, forcing it to a short stop.
Now, the squad was laughing so hard their abs were starting to hurt.
"Let's hope they don't use the main gun," Vegas added.
"If they're having this much trouble trying to drive it, who knows," Kyle replied with a laugh.
They moved quickly through the camp, which they could tell had been set up rather quickly. There was barely any organization to the set up of the tents, which were sprawled out everywhere. There were no pathways to walk, forcing you to walk in between tents, showers, and other belongings. There were a couple of small plastic pools that were set up, filled lowly with water. They assumed it was for cooling off in the sun, since there was very little cover.
The camp was built in the middle of a clearing right on the outskirt of the city. Tall buildings surrounded it, enclosing it on all sides except to enter the parking lot, where all the tanks and other vehicles were being held. On the parameter of the lot was a fence that had been erected by the British they assumed.
They were moved into a rather large tent that resembled Watson's tent back at their base. It had a table in the center with maps set all over it. They paid no mind to them. The squad was held there by the men until the general returned.
They stood there for about five minutes until the general came into the tent from the back. He appeared in front of them with the major in toe.
"Lead them back to my office, I need to talk with them," the man said, walking back behind the tent where he had come from.
The men holding them led them back through the little doorway. The Major stayed the close the door once they were in, guarding the door. The man sat them down in chairs in front of a large heavy desk. The room was nothing more than a very large tent with a plastic window, but it was far better protected from the elements than the other part was. There were filing cabinets all around the walls filled with papers. A laptop sat on the wooden desk, along with a cup of pens and a desk lamp. Also, their pistols and knives were laying on the desk, and the rifles were leaning up against the wall behind his chair.
The inside of the tent was colored a deep navy blue, although they couldn't really understand why. It didn't really matter anyway.
Their hands were let down behind their backs finally, letting blood finally make it to their hands.
"You may leave," the general said to the escorts, who promptly left through the door.
Winston took a large cigar from his desk drawer along with a lighter, lighting it and taking a deep breath from it. He puffed out smoke, which reminded the group all too much of Watson.
He stood there looking at them for a moment, without saying anything. It was all to make them nervous they knew, and refused to show any signs of feeling.
"So how did you make it out of the camp as the only surviving people?" he asked them, standing in front of the small window. The sun was shining through brightly casting a shadow on him.
"We were out on a mission to gather information about the location of enemy tanks that were spotted in the area for artillery sir," Lauren answered truthfully. There was no point in lying to them, since their camp was completely gone. Plus, it was good to build trust with them.
"From the time we left to the time we got back, we have no idea what happened," Kyle added.
The general nodded, taking another drag on his cigar.
"The exact same thing occurred to us at our last base as well, which is how we ended up here," he said.
"Do you have any idea what has caused this plague?" Vegas asked.
The general seemed to pause, eyeing the Major who was still at the door. The man gave him a look that none of the squad members could see. Winston looked back to them.
"No, we haven't found anything about it at this time," he finally answered. They had no choice but to take his words at face value, even though they clearly saw the signs on his face. They knew there were things they weren't telling them, but rightfully so. There was no reason for them to share anything with them.
"Now, we need to talk about what to do with you five. You said you were a special forces squad?" he asked, turning the chat to a more casual one. He waltzed back to his chair, sitting down in it and leaning back.
"Yes sir, we were trained as soldiers for different classes," Lauren answered.
"And what classes would those be?" he asked.
"I am a sniper, Kyle here is an assault soldier who specializes in demolition, Niles is the engineer, Dylan is the medic, and Vegas is an assault soldier," she answered.
"We have known each other, with the exception of Vegas, for almost our whole lives, and somehow ended up in the same squad when we were shipped over here," Niles added.
"Yes, I was assigned to their squad the day all of this started," Vegas added to that.
"Sort of weird how all of you ended up on the same squad after being in different training. You must have been meant to be together," Winston said.
"I guess so, we always have each other's backs until the end," Niles said proudly.
"You got it man," Kyle leaned over to see him, nodding. The rest voiced their agreement to him.
"It's good to know you have someone with you, and to have a whole squad even, very lucky," the general said. "Especially in the world of war."
"So then, let's move on shall we?" he asked them. They perked their attention for the next questions.
"What are your given ranks?" he asked.
They looked at each other with questioning looks, seeming confused. They mumbled amongst themselves about what to say.
"Um, we don't really have specific ranks sir, we were apart from everyone else. We only worked with each other, and not one of us is a leader of our squad, it's just all of us," Lauren explained.
"So you did not command anyone?" he asked.
"No, we never worked with anyone but ourselves outside of training," she confirmed.
"Well, I would assume that because you are special operations your ranks as well as skill levels are quite high," he said, taking some more notes down on the paper.
"When we left basic training we were all sergeants, but we never were addressed as sergeants nor did we wear patches with the sergeant rank," Niles said. "We had titles for our classes but that is it."
"I see," he replied. "Well, I assume you know that I called you here for a different reason rather than finding out what ranks you are."
They knew what he was getting at, and for the most part they knew what they wanted to do, it was just a matter of working their way up to that point.
"What should I do with you?" he asked them flat out, as if asking them.
"Since you are not under arrest by us nor are you our prisoners, you are free to leave after this chat. We will give you back your things and send you on your way," he said standing up from his chair. They could tell this was not the option he was pushing for.
Here it comes.
"You may stay under our command and not have to scrounge around in the desert for basic needs, until we can find you another American base around," he added.
They looked skeptically at each other, knowing there had to be some type of condition.
"What's the catch?" Vegas asked boldly. The general smiled knowingly.
"You will have to gain the trust of the soldiers as well as the officers including me, as well as prove yourself to the men that you are not a danger. You will also have restricted access to the camp at first and be guarded from time to time. You also will be required to take orders from myself or any officer in the camp and if the time comes, accompany them on missions," he announced. "What do you say?"
The squad turned to the other members, chatting about the different options. It was clear that they were very unlikely to come across another friendly group, and on their current supplies there was no way they would make it more than two weeks out in the desert. On the down side, they would be required to take orders from the British, as well as be baby-sat until they could gain their trust. It was more the soldiers they were worried about. If they were anything like the soldiers back at base, they were not keen to outsiders and were stone cold to anyone who was not of their nationality.
"Well then?" the rather impatient man asked again.
"You won't send us on suicide missions?" Dylan asked.
"Not on any mission I wouldn't send my own forces. It is unlikely that you will be sent on one anyway," he added.
Dylan gave them all a half smile, shrugging his shoulders as if to say "might as well".
"Alright, we will stay here with your army, general," Niles told him, speaking for the rest of them.
They watched as the general smiled, giving a half hearted laugh.
"Swell chaps, now then, we will get a tent set up just outside the camp. Food, water, and firewood will be in the tent waiting for you. You are required to stay by the tent all night until the guards come to get you in the morning. Understood?" he explained.
"Yes sir, we understand," Lauren said.
"Alright then," he said, waving for the Major to come over.
"Major, be so kind as to take those handcuffs off our guests and make sure their tent is prepared. Take them out to their tents after they are done and assigns some guards to watch over them," he ordered.
"Yes sir," the man replied, walking over to them and taking off the cuffs one by one.
"Aw man finally," Dylan remarked, rubbing his wrists where the hard metal was digging into them. The rest gave similar responses to them being taken off.
"Stand up," the Major told them. The five did so, getting a chance to really look around as the cuffs were taken off. The general had many photos up of a beautiful woman, who they presumed to be his wife. There were also pictures of children on his desk as well, a boy and two girls. The girls had light blond hair, and the boy had dark brown, almost looking black in the picture. Around the rest of the room were many propaganda posters about joining the military, some dating back to the second world war.
"Will we be getting our weapons back, or are they not allowed on base?" Kyle asked the general.
"They are allowed, but you will not be getting them back for quite some time," he replied with a smile.
"Alright," Kyle replied, a little upset that he wasn't going to have any of his equipment with him.
When all of the cuffs had been taken off, the Major moved for the door to let them out. He opened it out, motioning for them to go outside. They left in a line, automatically forming one. Kyle led the way, making it out first, followed by the others. They were met outside the room by the same table that had been there, as well as three men. The five stopped, grouping together and waiting for new directions.
"Come this way," the major told them, walking out from under the tent. "I will show you around the camp while your tent is being prepared."
The five agreed, although they had very little choice.
They started walking through the camp. There was really no organization to the way the tents were set up, so they had to walk in and out of other soldier's camp sites. They could hear songs playing through personal radios that people had scattered around in their tents. They paid no mind to them though.
"This is the main camp area. As you can see all of the tents are here for quarters. Some small vehicles are also parked around here," the major explained.
"By the way, forgive my rudeness, I have forgotten to introduce myself. My name is Russell Montgomery. I am the Major of this battalion as I'm sure you have figured out by now."
He was a tall man, though was not as tall as the general was. His hair was short and graying on the sides, and his face was clean shaven. He had hard lines in his face, making him look very serious and strong. He had on a short sleeved army green camouflage shirt with a name badge on it, as well as matching pants and tan army boots.
Each one of them shook his offered hand, giving him a courteous smile.
"Right then, let's carry on," Russell said to them, turning and starting to walk more.
They were led away from the main camp area where there were three or four very long tents all connected together. Together they spanned a distance of at least forty feet. To the left of the entry to the tents, there was a very large tent, the largest they had seen so far. It was square in shape.
"Here is the cafeteria, I guess you could call it. It's where we serve all the food. Our cooks lay it out on the tables inside the tents and you can pick out whatever you want. One thing about the cooks, don't let them see you throwing anything away, they can get quite angry," he warned playfully.
"Over in that tent," he started, pointing to the large square tent, "is the kitchen, where all the food is prepared. We have one squad that sets up everything before each meal, a different squad each meal. It spreads the work load out to everyone."
They continued to walk towards the outer rims of the main camp, coming to a separate looking area. It had a bar looking thing that was set up with stools before the counter. It was nothing more than an old market stand that had been converted into a crude stand, but it had a back area where all the supplies were stored.
In the center of the land was a huge circle that was fenced off. It looked to be a boxing ring or some type of fight ring. Around it was a crudely fashioned fence that was nothing more than random pieces of chain link fence, wood, and even boxes stacked up on each other. The circle was quite large, spanning a diameter of at least 20 feet. The sand was bunched up around the edges of the perimeter from movement. Foot prints were in the sand all over the ring.
This caught the group's initial interest. They took some good looks at it, trying to figure out what it could possibly be used for.
The major sensed their interest, turning around to see they were no longer following him. Their gazes were fixed on the ring as they chattered back and forth with each other. With a knowing smile, he took a couple steps back to meet back up with them.
"That is the fight ring," the major told them.
"What kind of fights?" Vegas asked him.
"Free form mostly, there really aren't any rules to the fights. The soldiers use it to let off steam and have some fun, but also to gain respect among each other. It's a male dominance thing I suppose. I have never seen a woman fight before," he responded, aiming the last bit towards the sniper of the group. She gave him a disapproving look, but he didn't notice. The others' faces gave an odd look to his words, but since Lauren chose to do nothing about it, so did they.
"Now then, let's carry on with some rules, since I don't think the general went over all of them," Russell said, moving them along towards the parking lot, which was on the other side of the camp.
"Meals are served breakfast, lunch, and supper at 8, noon, and 6 respectively," he said.
"Shit that's early," Dylan mumbled to the others under his breath. The others looked at him silently telling him not to let the major hear that.
"There are just below 200 people in this camp, we need to keep things organized as you probably know. Keep your camp area clean and there won't be any issues. When it is your turn to help set up for a meal, you will be called an hour early, but you will know ahead of time when your turn is. No vehicles or weapons in the camp. No loud music among other common sense things: don't go through other people's belongings, that sort of thing."
"We have been in a base before, we understand the rules," Kyle finally spoke up, relieving the man of going through every single rule with them.
"You won't have to worry about us," Niles assured him.
Montgomery gave them a thankful smile, happy to know that this would be a lot easier than he had thought it would.
"Right then. Then I assume you know that unless we are training or on a mission, your days are free, to an extent for you of course. You will be allowed into the Rec Area, being the drink stand and the fight ring, and of course the cafeteria at meal time. Do not go into the main camp or the parking lot unless told to do so by myself or the general," Montgomery told them.
"We understand," Lauren told him.
They had walked across the camp, remaining on the outskirts. The sun was starting to get very bright across the sky, signaling the coming of night. The bright yellow-orange sun reflected off the tall sky scrapers that protected the camp. It lit up the sky like fire. There were very few clouds in the sky, making it a very clear night. It also would make it a very cold night, given that they were to spend the night in a tent.
They continued to walk until hitting a guard post on the very outer perimeter. It was constructed out of an old merchant's stand, giving those inside some place to sit and protection from the elements. It was crude at most, made out of wood that looked like it hadn't been painted for years. There was a sign on the top written in Arabic. None of them could make out what it said.
The Major stopped and turned to talk to the guards inside the stand. They stood up tall, listening to their orders for the night.
"Make sure they stay here all night. If there is any problem, radio either myself or the general," Russell told them.
"Yes sir," they both replied.
"Great then, have a nice night lads," he bid the guardsmen, walking the couple feet back over to the squad.
"This is where I drop you off for the night. I will require that you stay in this tent all night until I come to fetch you in the morning. Don't get into trouble or I'll be seeing you sooner than that, and we don't want to do that, I would rather sleep through the whole night. Food and water for each of you is out there as is firewood, some tinder, and a lighter to start a fire if you wish. Don't be up all night, the show must go on tomorrow!" he finished with a laugh. The others just looked at each other, not really knowing how to respond.
"Right then, off you go, I will pick you up tomorrow for breakfast chaps, good night," he bid them farewell, turning to walk back into the camp.
"Ok then," Kyle said with a half laugh as the group started to walk through the gate out towards the tent. They could sense the gazes of the guardsmen on their backs, and it was slightly unsettling. Ultimately they chose to ignore it.
The cool night air was starting to nip at their skin. Unfortunately for them, they still had the clothes on that they had used for daytime travel, which was short sleeves and combat pants.
They all walked up to the tent that had been set up for them. It was a small green tent with a sharp point at the top. It was barely five-by-five feet, which was going to make it impossible for them to all sleep in the tent at once.
"Nice of them to give us a tent that is too small," Niles said.
"I guess we're lucky we even got this," Lauren added.
"Normally I would agree with you, but in this case...no," Kyle argued.
"Brits are fucking weird," Dylan added.
"Hey come on guys, it's not that bad. We have fire, food, and water. Better than we were doing this morning," Vegas said, giving them a bright side to look at.
"Plus we have a steady supply of it, which is way better than this morning," Niles added.
Vegas began taking the pieces of firewood that were stacked on the side of the tent and bringing them over in front of the opening. He took four pieces, standing them up and making a tee-pi like shape. He laid some of the tinder under the wood, balled up tight. He then laid some of the bark that had fallen off the logs on top of the tinder, do help get things going.
"They teach you this in basic training?" Lauren asked him, sitting down by the little fire pit.
"No," Vegas answered with a laugh, "I was a Cub Scout back in the day, we learned all types of this stuff."
"I remember those days, they were great times," Niles added.
"You were one too?" Vegas asked.
"Yep, all the way through Eagle Scout," Niles replied.
"It was a great time, that's for sure," Vegas finished.
He look the little lighter that was laying with the other supplies and held it under the tinder, lighting it. It quickly took the flames, catching the bark first. He put the lighter in his pocket, knowing it could come in use later.
"And we have light!" Vegas playfully announced, sitting down next to Lauren who was already sitting. The rest followed suit, forming a close circle around the fire.
"What a day eh?" Kyle asked the group. They gave a knowing laugh.
"You're tellin' me. It's not even day that you get taken in by a British battalion that was attacked by the same something that yours was and they give you a tent to camp outside their base," Lauren summarized for them.
"Basically," Dylan replied.
Forgetting that they had food and water, Vegas reached back into the tent, grabbing a stack of packaged meals. He passed them out to the rest of the group, and also passed around the bottles of water.
"Wonder what this is," Niles asked, starting to open the plastic container.
Dylan opened it up, seeing some crackers with sliced cheese and meats, as well as dried fruit.
It was in essence, a sandwich.
He stared at the food with anger as the others laughed loudly as they opened theirs. They were all the same.
"I fucking hate my life," Dylan ranted under his breath. The rest of the squad continued to laugh, starting to fix themselves a meal.
"At least it's not peanut butter," Lauren added.
"They must have known somehow, that is the only way they would have sent us sandwiches," Dylan said with anger.
"Just eat it, you're lucky you got that," Niles told him, eating one that he had already made.
Dylan sighed, setting the container down and grabbing a cracker. "I give up you guys."
Major Russell walked back through the camp, heading back to the general's command tent. We walked in a rushed fashion, as if he had something very important he needed to tell the general. He weaved through tents and setups, making his way all the way across the camp.
Once he reached the tent, he was met by two other captains.
"Is the general in his office?" Russell asked them.
"Yes sir, he's waiting for you," one of them answered.
"Alright, thanks mate," he responded, walking past the table with the maps on it, and into the back room. He closed the door behind himself.
"I have my report general," he announced.
Winston's back was facing the Major, but at the sound of his voice, he turned his chair around to face him.
"Ah yes, Major Russell, I trust that our guests have been taken to the tent?" he asked him.
Russell walked closer to the desk, though he chose to stay standing.
"Yes sir they have, the guards are in the post as well," he answered.
"Swell then. Did you get a chance to talk to them at all?" he asked.
"Not much sir, they were quiet when I was showing them around the camp. I only know what you found out earlier about them," he replied.
"A pity, but we don't want to force them," the general replied back.
"Do you think they will be able to help us sir?" Russell asked him.
Carl smiled, nodding his head slowly. "I have great confidence in their skills. If they function anywhere near how their equipment did, they are highly skilled and very good at what they do."
"So you plan to train them?" Russell asked.
"No, in fact I think we could learn a few things from them, but first we need to make them feel like one of us," Winston said.
"What would you like me to do sir?" Russell asked.
"Carry on with your current orders, do your best to integrate them into out camp subtly. I don't want them to become suspicious of us. Keep everything as normal as possible," the man ordered.
"Yes sir," Russell replied.
The five squad mates had spent the last two hours talking back and forth about whatever seemed to come up. They laughed and joked with each other, spending more bonding time, which they seemed to have a lot of. The sky was very dark, almost black as the sun had gone down long ago. The only like they had was the light of the twinkling stars and from the fire in front of them. It was starting to get chilly, but next to the fire it was hardly noticeable. The radiant heat fended off the cold mostly.
"I can't believe this shit," Dylan suddenly said . The others looked up at him.
"How the hell did two weeks go by and we went from doing missions at the FOB (forward operating base), to driving around aimlessly in a tank, to being captured by a bunch of Brits after leaving the FOB because everyone turned into flesh-eating zombies!"
The others just rolled their eyes.
"It's quite a story for sure, if someone were to even imagine this happening they should immediately be sent to a mental hospital," Lauren replied.
"How did I end up in this squad again?" Vegas asked sarcastically.
"If you were in any other squad, you'd be dead," Niles replied, laughing.
"I don't know Vegas, but now would be a good time to start thinking about retirement," Kyle said.
"Nah," Vegas replied, "I wouldn't trade this for anything. This is what I always wanted to be doing, sitting in British custody with you fine people." The rest smiled at him.
They looked over to the main camp. Most of the lights had been turned off, and there were very few fires still burning around. Most of them had already gone to bed they figured. It wouldn't surprise them, they always stayed up late.
"What time is it?" Kyle asked. Vegas looked at his watch, being the only one who regularly wore one. He lit up the screen, reading the time.
"1:33," Vegas replied.
Kyle yawned, continuing to stare into the fire. They had grown quiet with sleepiness.
"Well, that tent isn't going to do us much, so I'm just gonna sleep here," Niles said, laying back into the cool sand. He stretched his legs out, warming his feet by the fire. He put his hands under his head. The sand molded to his form, creating a form that held his body heat close to him. He sighed deeply, relaxing.
The rest of the members followed, laying back to sleep for the night. They stared up at the stars, letting their minds lull them to sleep. It didn't take long, with the calming sounds of the fire and the sheer sound of empty desert.
"Night guys, sleep well, we don't know what we're in for tomorrow," Lauren said.
"Same, night," Kyle replied, followed by the same from everyone.
It was quiet after that, as one by one, they all fell into a comfortable sleep.
Ahhhh, so it was the good ol' Brits that found them eh? This is gonna get interesting for sure.