Mikriski Desert 0600 hrs.
Military Base: Barask
"The MD-SAADARS stealth helicopter. The baby that changes everything. It does 250 knots. Range 1000 Nm. Quiet blade technology, with experimental engine system and fuel. Synthetic vision implants to optic nerve. Now how the goddamn hell were you ragtag bunch selected for this program?”
Major Jenkins looked around the dingy room, the sun was already up but there was enough grime on the windows to cast everybody's face in shadow.
He grit his teeth grimly, he was seeing the usual bunch of misfits. Probably pulled out of training on their squadrons, deemed trouble-makers or mavericks who thought they were immortal. They would soon learn that was a far cry from the truth. There were here for three reasons only, because they were;
a) Willing to do the crazy shit others balked at.
b) Compatible candidates for the cerebral control systems.
"You're here to be real pains in my ass."
A few nervous titters and side glances were shared around the room.
"No seriously, I don't give a shit how hot you think you are. We've got three modified choppers in that warehouse and I run a strict 'you break it you bought it' policy. Three machines, three teams. Your team is your life-support system, so don't fuck around."
Jenkins narrowed his eyes and looked over the class, "I mean that literally."
Some more smothered guffaws arose from the back.
A hand went up tentatively near the front. Are you fucking kidding me? This ain't high school kid.
The youth was scrawny, looked like he was growing out a standard issue buzz cut. Everyone on the base was growing out a buzz cut. Black ops were less strict with how you looked, more about how you worked. The boy was fidgeting nervously trying to get Jenkins's attention, his large owlish eyes blinking erratically.
"Yes..." Jenkins squinted at the clipboard he was holding, "what’s your name?"
"Bay Pereira, Sir,” the kid smiled nervously. His two front teeth were slightly big and hooked over his plump bottom lip. He was dark, looked Hispanic or something, but his short hair was a dirty blonde. He wasn’t particularly tall or broad and looked worryingly like a strong wind might blow him over. “I was informed there were only two aircraft here? I'm an onboard systems operator so I learned the modified controls for..."
"I don't give a crap about your life story Pereira. There are three choppers here. Ibis, Bobcat and Tegu. Tegu's not running for the moment, modifications are still ongoing, lab-rats trying to make it into the fucking USS Enterprise or something."
Pereira smiled at him toothily. Clearly a science-fiction nerd, of course he would be a system's geek.
"Okay, I'm telling you your teams today,” Jenkins announced reading off of his clipboard.
"Ibis as follows; Pilot - Luca Jeong, Systems Operator - Bay Pereira, Winch-Man - Farid Aziz."
Jenkins looked up to see Bay Pereira grinning at him again. Two other guys raised their hands nonchalantly.
One was a big dark skinned guy set like a tank, yeah, clearly the winch-man. Winch-men were in charge of recovery-systems, on-ground weapons handling, personnel retrieval and basically making sure the others didn't get their pretty little heads blown off.
Speaking of pretty little heads, the pilot wasn't even bothering to look up. Black hair, steel grey eyes and a bit of artful stubble. Jenkins guessed that Jeong was probably so full of himself he would need all the extra cabin space for his ego.
"Luca Jeong I presume?" Jenkins asked, leaning back on the desk. The guy flicked his eyes up lazily, textbook problem with authority - Check.
"Yeah,” Jenkins whistled, “Say I think I knew your brother, back from when the prototype birds came out...is he...?"
Luca's jaw clenched. Jenkins sighed, that had been a nasty business. They'd had some problems with the original cerebral systems prototype, left one of the test pilots in a vegetative state. Last Jenkins heard he was still in it.
"Er...right, okay. Bobcat team: Pilot - Lily Hart, Systems Operator - Toby Harris, Winch-Man - Tom Angelos."
Jenkins looked up. Oh fantastic, we have a blonde Barbie piloting a multi-million dollar aircraft. She looked pretty confident though, shame they didn't equip flight suits with heels.
Hey, it wasn’t Jenkins's fault he was a misogynist okay? Blame the soccer moms in the parking lot at Wallmart, his poor VW would never be the same.
The systems operator Harris looked nervous, why were all geeks such fidgeting freaks? The winch-man looked...where the fuck was the winch-man?
"Where the hell is Angelos? Harris, you bunk with him don't you?"
The other weedy systems operator next to Bay Pereira looked even more anxious and ran his hand through his short sandy curls,
"Er...he didn't come in last night Major."
Jenkins was suddenly overtaken with the urge to start singing Mulan at them.
Did they send me daughters,
When I asked, for sons?
You're the saddest bunch,
I've ever met...
"Oh for fucks’ sakes, right, well when you see him, tell him to report to my office asap."
Nervous boy nodded.
"Okay and the third team for Tegu, when it's up and running, and please note you will also be required as back up and on standby for the other two aircraft. Okay so Tegu will be, Pilot - Brent Brown, Systems Operator - Sydney Jones, Winch-Man - Merit Cooper.
Winch-woman? Winch-men were the weapons guys. Dodgy backgrounds, history of black-ops, trained in every piece of killing equipment known to man. Emphasis on 'man'.
"Which of you is Cooper?"
A muscular brunette girl with an impressively Amazonian physique raised her hand,
"That would be me Major."
"Cooper...Cooper, that rings a bell, not related to Lieutenant Colonel Mark Cooper are you?"
"Yes Major, he's my father."
Well that explained it then.
Jenkins nodded and noted the pilot, a shredded blonde guy, looked like an Abercrombie model, probably jerked off to the Top Gun soundtrack.
"Okay we'll be doing some ground runs and test flights today, go get some food in the refectory first, remember, everyone thinks our division is running a listening station, so no bragging about the babies in the warehouse okay? Secondly, pilots?"
Jeong, Hart and Brown looked up at him.
"You might wanna skip breakfast. Trust me on that one."
A few raised eyebrows. God he loved newbies.