Categories > Cartoons > G.I. Joe > Tenderfoot0 Reviews
A collection of ficlets, in chronological order, focusing on Lift Ticket and Lifeline.
Victor shook himself awake, stood and pulled his duffel from the over-seat rack, and stepped out, nodding his thanks to the driver. Only one facility of any size faced him, and he assumed that it must be the building that he would be living in for the foreseeable future. It was appropriately large and imposing. White concrete walls inset with small, lead-reinforced windows shot skywards, but the building was so wide that despite its height, it still appeared to hunker on the stretch of asphalt around it. People walked purposefully around the grounds, disappearing into one door or another, or around the side of the massive complex. A fence topped with concertina wire, one that hummed with electricity, made a broad ring around it, and two guards, anonymous and almost sexless in identical uniforms, helmets, and sunglasses, stood at attention at a guard shack, clutching assault rifles as if their hands did not feel comfortable without them.
Victor straightened his green dress uniform and walked over, fishing out his ID. "Victor Sikorski," he drawled. He was not sure which one should take the ID, so he compromised and stuck it halfway between both. "I've been transferred to the Joes. Reportin' for duty."
One of them reached out and took it, looked between it and Victor's face searchingly, then disappeared into the shack, as the other guard started levelly at Victor. He tried not to fidget, but had to shift to keep his duffel from sliding off of his arm. Not one "howdy" or "how's the weather" came from the implacable guard. Victor fought off nervousness; he had heard a thing or two about elite units in general, and was not looking forward to whatever kind of hazing they might have in mind. As he waited and was started at, he began, for the umpteenth time, to question his decision. He was not looking to become Head Honcho of Suicidally Reckless Squadron #57. He just wanted to pick up a few more skills to bring to civilian life once his stint was up, and had been assured that this was the way to go. Did he really trust his assurers, though? They were mostly his fellow enlistees, and a lot of them did want to be Head Honcho of Suicidally Reckless Squadron #57.
After a small eternity, the first guard re-emerged from the shack. "Officer of the Day will come get you," the guard grated, and joined the other guard in staring levelly and silently at Victor.
It was a slightly longer eternity, one in which Victor's two overtures of friendliness were utterly ignored, before a figure emerged from what looked like a main pair of doors in the building and strode towards the shack with ground-eating strides. The figure was broad-shouldered, and was wearing a black-and-green camouflage-pattern outfit that did not look terribly much like an actual army uniform; his face was covered with a green stocking mask that looked more appropriate to a corner-store robbery than a military base. But his manner was authoritarian, as was his voice. "What is this crap?" he bellowed, clearly audible from halfway across the compound. "New recruit? Tenderfoot? You just goin' to stand there, boy?" He had reached the shack at that point, and stepped over the striped barrier, grabbing Victor's ID from the guard who held it out to him.
"I was waiting for orders. You're the Officer of the Day?" Victor snapped a belated salute.
"That's right. Sergeant Sneeden, Beachhead to you. Come with me." He turned and jumped the barricade, then headed towards the main building with those ground-eating strides of his. Victor hurried to catch up. "Flight Warrant Officer?" Beachhead threw the door wide, leaving Victor to catch it and follow him in. He tossed Victor's ID over his shoulder.
"Yes, sir," Victor replied, catching the ID and extending his stride to keep up with the Beachhead. Despite his brusque manner, Victor was warming to him. Perhaps it was his accent; while more Southern than Midwestern, it reminded Victor of home. "I'm primarily a chopper pilot, but I can get anything in that air that's supposed to fly - and a thing or two that ain't."
"Good," Beachhead replied. "You'll be flyin' one of our transport choppers. Sometimes to place Joes, but mostly to head in with Lifeline and pick up anybody who's not doin' so well afterwards. He's our medic. He's also a pacifist, so if you like slow suicide, this is a good assignment."
That was one of the sillier things Victor had heard in an organization that had some highly silly cherished institutions. "A what?"
"You heard me," Beachhead replied, grabbing a clipboard from a wall bracket without breaking stride and flipping through it. "He'll carry on, carry over, carry coals, Mariah Carey and Drew Carey, but he won't carry a gun." Beachhead found what he was looking for in the clipboard, and flipped the pages back in place. "He's also off-duty. Let's see if we can find him."
Victor followed hard on his heels, wondering, yet again, just what he had gotten himself into.