Categories > Cartoons > G.I. Joe > Tenderfoot0 Reviews
A collection of ficlets, in chronological order, focusing on Lift Ticket and Lifeline.
The atmosphere inside was notably more relaxed than he had seen anywhere else on the base. People in civilian clothes sat around a few scattered tables, some playing cards, some chatting, one or two reading. His eyes were drawn towards the greatest amount of motion in the room, which came from a ping-pong table that sat roughly in the middle. A slender, dark-haired man was playing against a bald black man with muscles that would draw double-takes in a heavyweight boxing match. His meaty hand swallowed the paddle; Victor could only tell that one was in there somewhere by the hollow clok-clok of the ball hitting it.
"Lifeline!" Beachhead bellowed. The slender man snapped around, startled, then glanced back irately at his burly opponent as the ping-pong ball hit him in the side of the head. Said opponent spread his hands in mock apology, grinning.
The slender man turned back, pushing a pair of green-tinted wire-frame glasses up his nose. "What is it?"
Beachhead grabbed Victor's shoulder and pushed, sending him stumbling forward. "Show Mister Warrant Officer to his quarters. I got better things to do than baby-sit newbies!" Beachhead spun on his toe and stalked out of the room.
"All the better for you," Lifeline's opponent said in a voice that was far more articulate than his frame would lead one to guess. "That just spared you an ass-wuppin'."
"We're tied," Lifeline replied, putting his paddle down on the table. He walked over and offered his hand to Victor. "Ed Steen..." he began, as Victor shook it.
"Sergeant Edwin Steen, /suh/!" his opponent said, chuckling and snapping a mock salute. He walked over, as well, enveloped Victor's hand in his own, and introduced himself - "Roadblock." He then meandered over to join a game in process.
"Beachhead... Lifeline... Roadblock," Victor said, thoughtfully, as they walked along yet another featureless corridor that looked exactly like every featureless corridor he had been in that day. "What are my chances of just keeping my own name?"
"Slim to none," Lifeline replied, grinning. "It's not just a macho oddity, however. We do benefit from a certain degree of anonymity."
Victor had the sense that it was just the way the man talked, but he could not help feeling chilly towards Lifeline for it. Precise speech always made him feel that he was being reprimanded for the way he talked, even if he rationally knew that was not the case. In an effort to not appear chilly himself because of it, he cast about for a halfway genial subject of conversation. "How do ya find your way around? I haven't seen so much as a sign or placard since I got in here."
Lifeline shrugged. "Things are not well-marked around here, at all. You just need to look for very subtle landmarks. We're talking," he pointed down at a hairline crack where the wall met the floor, in front of them, "stuff on the level of that crack, there. That's about all you get. You get used to it, though. Flint says it helps to acclimate us to nuance."
"In so many words?"
"No," Lifeline replied, jamming his hands in his pockets. "I believe he said, 'It makes ya look for the little things.'"
Victor chuckled. He came to a stop as Lifeline halted, opening one of the many featureless doors. "These will be your quarters."
Victor walked in. It was Spartan, certainly, but much roomier than his old quarters. "Who do I share with?" he asked, dropping his duffel on the spare bed that stood against one wall.
"Nobody," Lifeline replied. "One of the bennies here. A little privacy." He leaned against the wall, crossing his arms, and Victor realized that said privacy would not be coming for a few minutes at least. He sat down on his cot, pointedly sitting at attention with his hands on his legs.
"So... you're a warrant officer? Chopper pilot? That's going to be terribly useful. We don't get a lot of folk with both the skill and the ability to drop right into the middle of something ferocious to do what needs to be done. One or the other, sure, but both - you're quite a catch, from what I'm hearing." Victor crossed his arms and did not reply. Lifeline hurried to the next thought on his mind. "Er... as far as just hanging around off-duty, this," he indicated his T-shirt and jeans, "is just fine. When on-duty, they want you in a uniform. But it doesn't have to be army. In fact, they rather like uniforms that aren't readily identifiable as belonging to one division of the service or another. Builds unity, I think." A nervous smile came to Lifeline's face, then departed swiftly. "Well, just whatever you find comfortable, really."
"Thank you, sir," Victor replied, still sitting stiffly. "Anything else? I've had a long day - I'd like to take a shower."
"Ah, no, that's all for now. Showers are at the other end," Lifeline pointed a finger vaguely. He continued to talk as he backed out of the room. "Great to have you aboard! The boys will all be happy to have a twenty-four-hour lift ticket..."
"Brawk... Lift Ticket!" The unmistakable squawk of a parrot drifted through the door just before Lifeline closed it. Victor put his head in his hands and rubbed his forehead. What had he gotten himself into?