Lieutenant Marcus Miller.
Advanced outpost thirteen of the Arlington settlement, Virginia, U.S.A.
2300 Hours, November 13th, 1949.
The cold is making my hands numb, I try to bury myself under the heavy blankets in an attempt to get warm and cozy to no avail, I take a peek at my wrist watch and notice is only 11pm, I´ve been in bed for 3 hours already trying to fall asleep but only managing to sleep in periods of a couple of minutes so I guess that will have to do for now, matter of fact I don´t even feel tired.
After debating with myself for a couple of minutes more I decide to get off the bed with a jump, if I find something to do outside I should be able to trick my mind to feel tired and finally go to sleep, I also might be able to forget about this fucking cold.
I got my boots on and clipped the belt on with my M1911 and a K-bar knife on the right and three mags in their leather pouch on the left to balance it out. After adjusting the straps and making sure everything was tight and secure I set foot outside the living quarters, I saw some light silhouettes to my far left near the gate, must´ve been Helena and Ann trying to set a fire to warm themselves up which is not a bad idea in this awful weather.
I looked up and saw someone up in the observation tower and judging by the large white beard it must´ve been harry, he was using a huge and weird looking pair of binoculars that I hadn´t seen before.
- Let´s see what´s cooking up there. – I muttered to myself.
I walked up to the ladder at the base of the tower structure and began climbing up in a painfully slow manner, the fact that I was feeling drowsy and the freezing cold did not help at all.
- Need a hand son? – I heard the old man say from above.
- Nah, I´m fine, It´s nothing. – I said as I reached the top.
There he was with a sniper rifle leaning on the wall beside him and the pair of binoculars on the right hand. Harold Cross or as we call him around here, ¨Old Harry¨ but we mean no offense to the old bugger we just call him that because he is the eldest amongst us with already forty-nine years of age, mind you the fella puffs out smoke like a German war train and drinks like an Irish but that won´t stop him or even slow him down when it comes to being deadly in the heat of battle, he will rip you apart bare handed if you stand against him.
He just chuckled when he saw me all sleepy and got back to looking over the horizon with his huge set of optics.
- You look like shit son and not the good kind. – He grunted without looking at me.
- Says the guy that looks like a hungover Santa Claus peeping on the neighbor’s sister. – I smirked.
- Yeah I should trim the beard, Domino made a similar remark earlier. Still no sleep huh? – He inquired while stroking his beard.
- Yep, I was able to catch some just a couple of minutes at a time, it´s this damn weather and the fact that the living quarters is beat to shit and full of holes doesn´t help either. – I ranted.
- I know Marcus, but HQ says that they can’t send materials and a repair crew with this weather, so as long as it’s snowing and those walls are still up we will not get any fix-it team over here any time soon. –
- So let me get this straight, we get to freeze out asses out here but ¨they¨ can´t come out here and work? I mean, fuck the *CROWS right?
- FUBAR son I know, but I´m not calling out the shots here.
- Well, shit. –
- Agreed on that. – He said while laughing a bit.
- Harry how can you see anything? It´s darker than a rat´s ass out there and here you are all smug with that weird looking thing which brings the question, what are those? – I asked pointing at his binoculars.
- Binoculars wise guy, never seen em´ before? – He replied.
- You know what I mean. –
- They´re night vision, genius. – He said while looking through them.
- Neat, where you got ´em out from? –
- Remember those Russians that used to wander from settlement to settlement selling and trading stuff they´d salvaged? – He said, this time putting them down and looking at me.
- Last I heard was that they were among the dead after Fort Penn was overrun. – I told him.
- So I thought but I came across them a couple of months ago while on a Rescue mission, that time we found Ray and his group, the poor bastards were pinned down by a couple of bloodhounds inside a broken down truck and out of ammo, I lent them a hand and they repaid me with this for saving their arse, they´ve been sitting on a shelf in storage ever since… thought this night might be as good as any to try them out. –
- How did they managed to get out of fort Penn? – I said quite amazed.
- I forgot to ask, sorry. – Harry said.
- What are you looking out there for anyways? – I asked switching to the real subject.
- We got a call from H.Q dispatch stating that the team from post number seven had gone out on a provision run down to a local farming compound of some sorts located a couple of miles north from here but they lost contact with the team and we got assigned to the task of looking for them and bringing them back home.
- Shit, when was the last transmission? –
- Yesterday noon. –
- What about the Emergency transmitters? -
- Nothing on the radar according to HQ –
- Something´s off, I didn´t knew that the guys from post seven were field operatives. –
- They are not, most of them are new units and have not even completed the exteriors training but since they were low on personnel on that post due to the casualties caused by the last attack on their sector they assigned them there prematurely, also we were busy that day to do the run ourselves so they sent the poor bastards out instead, nasty business if you ask me. – He said and took a cigarette out, lit it and gave it a long puff.
- At what time do we roll out? –
- Twelve-thirty. Go down to the armory and gear up with the basics for a search and rescue mission, y´know, some extra ammo, grenades and a med-kit or two, if you haven´t ate something yet I suggest you do before we go, you got an hour and thirty minutes. –
-Right, I´ll do that, see you down there. –
He went back to his thing and I went down to get some food in the kitchen.
When I reached the ground I noticed that the fire was already on but only young Annabelle was getting warm, she saw me and waved.
- Hi Mr. Miller! – She yelled at the top of her lungs.
I waved back and smiled, afterwards I went inside the kitchen and found Ray in there, he looked funny behind the stove and in that white apron of his with the legend ¨don´t kill the chef¨ written on it.
- Hey Marcus, what´s up? You got here just in time, I thought I´d cook something hot to warm you all up. You up for some midnight cravings? – Ray asked while stirring a pot, whatever he was cooking smelled delicious.
- Yep, we are going out on a mission I thought I should get something in my stomach before heading out. – I replied while grabbing a plate and walking towards the counter which Ray was behind.
- Who´s we? – He asked.
- My bet is that it´ll be Katyusha, Beckett, me and the old man. –
- Rescue? –
- You know it, have you seen Alexandria? – I asked.
- Ah yes, the warrior princess dropped by earlier, you know, as gloomy and quiet as ever, she had a sandwich and went to sleep. –
- I see… well, hit me up, what we got tonight? –
- Gumbo. – He said while picking a huge serving spoon and pouring white rice and the greenish soup into my plate.
- Oh right you´re from the bayou, gimme´ a small portion man, I know that gumbo is some heavy stuff. –
- Ah right, you´re gon´ be runnin´ in a lil´while, I´ll save you some for later. – He said and smiled.
- Thanks man, make sure you eat up as well. –
- Will do Marcus, Will do. –
I sat down at the nearest table and began eating, it tasted great as always so I ate everything right up and went outside but not before saying goodbye to Ray and giving a compliment on the food.
Guessing that everyone must´ve been getting ready and I´m the last one to learn about the task at hand I headed to a medium sized barn located in the back of the property that we had been using as the armory and weapons storage, as I reached the barn I noticed that the door was slightly open and I could see Liam and Helena inside and getting ready.
- I´m guessing you haven´t ate a thing, have some of these, Ray made ´em. – Liam said in a commanding tone.
- Geez, thanks mom but I did ate something. – I said, mocking him.
- Shut it and Eat up, we ain´t got all day. -
- I´m just messing with you, thanks man. So… Who´ll be riding with me tonight? – I inquired.
- It´ll be you, me, Harry and Liam, if everything comes out right we should be back in a few hours, Harry claims that it should be a quick snatch and extract mission. – Said Helena as she placed a fresh mag in her Tokarev and holstered it.
- You said it, if everything comes out right, but it never does. – Liam joked and took a big bite off one of the bars that Ray made.
- Gotta love that Irish Optimism. – I muttered.
I took a M1 Garand rifle with a x4 scope and a bandolier with 8 clips on it, a couple of frag grenades, a handheld radio and a flashlight, once ready I got out of the armory and noticed that harry had already brought the ¨new toy¨ near the entrance, everyone was checking it out as it had just arrived earlier today so I hurried and joined the group.
- What do you think Marcus, the M8 scout car aka: the honey badger. This is what the engineers back at base came up with when asked for an easy to manufacture, cheap, reliable and easy to fix and maintain troop transport vehicle… wow, what a mouthful, anyways, the result? A big, ugly, fat fucker. This should be enough to get us around huh? – Harry asked while getting off the vehicle with a booklet on his hand that I could only assume was the user´s manual, he was right, it was a huge ugly hump of steel but it look really rugged, Ray was on the roof hatch installing a machine gun.
- Agreed in the ugly part but I got to ask, is this one armored? – I asked back.
- Light armor, 1 inch of plating should be enough to keep the freaks and the dark ones out. – He said while looking into the manual.
- Let´s hope so, what about the vehicle´s general specs? – I inquired.
- Well, according to this pamphlet here this thing comes with full time four wheel drive, leaf-spring suspension, a big petrol V8 up front putting out three hundred-ish horses, a decent twelve miles per gallon, forty-five gallon fuel tank and is capable of sustaining speeds of seventy-five miles per hour on rough roads with optimal fuel performance, top speed is claimed to be one hundred, it has power steering and we do get power brakes this time around unlike the M7. – Ray replied.
- Sounds Nice, let´s hope that V8 is as good as it sounds because the engine that came on the last scout car was complete garbage in terms of reliability, what about the armament? – I asked.
- It came with none unfortunately but it does have a rotating roof mount with a hatch and we have that old .30 cal machine gun we found some time ago, Ray is mounting it on the roof right now. – Harry said.
- Does that old thing even fire? – I asked again.
- It should, I´ve been working on that thing all week long, I hope we get a chance to test it. – Harry said with a grin on his face.
- I Don’t. – Helena muttered.
- The most likely thing is that you guys will be able to test it, the motion sensors have detected heavy movement on the last couple of days in that area according to HQ and they´ve declared it a red zone for now, he have no recent plane shots from the area so we got no idea of what´s out there, I honestly find it hard to believe anyone will be found alive but if any new info comes up I´ll let you know, keep it on channel twenty-three, back up channel is twelve. – Said Dominique while coming from the comms room.
- Shite, we´re venturing into a red zone in the middle of the night? I dunno, sounds like chicken shit to me. – Liam said.
- I agree but orders are orders, besides, we are the best fire squad in all Arlington, this kind of stuff is what you guys are made of. – Dominique said in a cheerful manner, everyone stood in silence, finally the awkward silence was broken by a still half asleep Alexandria who just got out of the living quarters and was walking our way.
- Hey Ray, take that thing off the roof, if Harry tampered with it I´m pretty sure it won’t work. – Alexandria said.
- And why in the bloody hell are you saying that? – Harry Barked off.
- Remember the mortar? – She replied.
- Hey that was an accident! Anyone can forget to weld the guide fins of the mortar rounds. – Harry Belted back.
- Well that accident almost blew me to kingdom come you twat! – She exclaimed.
We just stood there for 15 minutes straight watching them argue and rant, Dominique whispered something to Ray and shortly after I saw them taking out some money, they were making a bet.
All of a sudden Harry finally gave up.
- Ok fine! I admit it! I am an absolute and colossal dim witted douche for not remembering to weld the guide fins to the mortar shells. – Harry said out loud.
- Thank you Mr. Cross – She said smiling.
Ray frowned slightly, cursed and handed over the coins to Dominique, she just smiled and gave him a pat in the back.
- Don´t feel bad, as always it´s been a pleasure making business with you. – She said with a huge grin and walked away tossing up and catching the coins, everyone got back to business after the quick laugh, we started to mount up on the vehicle one by one.
I was about to open the door of the truck when I felt a hand holding my shoulder and pulling me back.
- I think you´re forgetting something that might come in handy later. – Said Alexandria as she pulled a silencer out of her jacket pocket.
- For the M1911? –
- Yes, for the M1911. – She confirmed.
- You keep insisting on me using that kind of stuff in my gun huh? –
- Nice and quiet gets the job done dear. –
- Well… If you insist. –
I took the silencer and placed it in an empty pouch on my belt.
- Thanks Alex. – I added while letting out a little smile, I noticed she blushed a little.
- Y-yeah, d-don´t even mention it… just be careful out there and come back in one piece, Annabelle will get sad if end up getting killed. – She stuttered, turned around and began to walk away.
- Just Anna huh? – I asked before she could take a third step, she stopped dead on her tracks and without turning around she said in a low, whiney tone.
- Don´t be an idiot, you know I´ll be missing you more than anyone here if you get hurt… listen, just be safe and take care of the others, I´ll be waiting for your return. –
- Fair enough. – I said and got inside the truck, she made her way to the tower.
Once Ray finished checking the engine and gave us a ¨all clear¨ Harry set the car in motion and stopped right at the gate, Annabelle was at the wall´s catwalk right above the gate, she manned the controls and opened it up for us.
- Be safe out there boys, I´ll have some nice warm bread by the time you come back! – Annabelle yelled.
Harry smiled and stepped on the gas, the gate closed shortly after.
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