Categories > Cartoons > G.I. Joe > Tenderfoot0 Reviews
A collection of ficlets, in chronological order, focusing on Lift Ticket and Lifeline.
He made a mental note to get up earlier in the future; the mess hall was fairly full. Equipped with a tray of something that might have been eggs at some point in the past, and coffee that looked thick enough to stand his spoon up in, he looked for a clear seat. Lifeline caught his eye and lifted a finger in greeting; a brawny man in a navy outfit (complete with a green macaw on his shoulder) and a fiery-haired woman sat at the same table, but one seat remained free. Victor walked to that free seat, giving a nod and a "Ma'am" to the woman. She was engrossed in a newspaper, and muttered something distractedly in response.
The man shook hands with Victor, revealing an anchor tattoo on his forearm. "Name's Shipwreck. You?"
Before more than a "V" had escaped Victor's lips, the macaw cried, "Lift-Ticket!" It then preened its wing with a self-satisfied air.
"Well, I guess I've been dubbed," Victor sighed, resigned. He recognized that squawk from the previous night; the bird had an uncanny memory.
"What's goin' on in the world today, Scarlett?" asked Shipwreck, breaking his toast into pieces and feeding a chunk to the macaw.
The woman frowned at the paper. "Is 'Concrete' a place?"
Lifeline nodded. "Well, there's one Concrete that's a few hours' drive north of Seattle..."
Scarlett looked up. "Oh, I feel better. The headline said, 'Concrete man downs,' and I was wondering what was surprising enough about that to warrant an article."
Shipwreck chuckled. "What's the punishment for drowning a concrete man?"
"This breakfast," Lifeline replied, pushing the tray away slightly with distaste.
Victor shrugged as he chewed on a mouthful of egg. From powder, definitely, but not badly rehydrated. "I've had worse - far worse."
Lifeline looked over and raised his eyebrows. "And you're here to tell the tale? I'm impressed."
"Bitch, bitch, whine," Shipwreck replied, digging into his breakfast with gusto. Scarlett turned another page just as Beachhead's masked face bent over her shoulder.
"If y'all are done with yer kibitz," he growled, "get suited up and get to the launch pad. We have a flight to escort. Shipwreck and Scarlett in Skystrikers, Lift-Ticket and Lifeline in a Tomahawk."
"May we ask what we're escorting?" Scarlett asked sweetly, folding her newspaper neatly.
"You may," Beachhead replied, and strode off.
"Kibitz?" Shipwreck asked, as he stood and collected his trays.
"I'm proud of him," Scarlett replied. "I thought the only Yiddish he knew was 'schmuck.'"
Victor was rather pleased that Lifeline knew to strap in and shut up while he was starting up and taking off. He had trained on a number of different kinds of helicopters, but the Tomahawk was a different animal from anything he had flown before. For such a big chopper, it was hair-trigger responsive; it was definitely going to be a steep learning curve. It had scads of power, enough to leave your viscera back at your starting point if you goosed it a bit. He was going to fall in love, he knew it, but it was a machine that demanded respect from the operator first and foremost.
As soon as they were streaking in a fairly straight line over the water, Lifeline stirred. "You are good," he said, smiling.
"After all this time, I'd better be," Victor replied. "What're you on this trip for, moral support?"
"No, I'm here in case you run into any unfriendlies."
Victor snorted. "What're you goin' to do - talk them into being more friendly?"
Lifeline looked out over the blue water that was streaking away underneath them. "You never know."
The radio crackled to life. "Bogies ahead!" Scarlett's voice barked. "Look sharp!"
Victor peered into the cloudbank, and noted a trio of black specks diving down out of it. "Got 'em," he said, then held his course steady as Shipwreck and Scarlett peeled away. The specks resolved into sleek black jets, closing in with alarming rapidity. Victor waited until he saw tracer fire, then dove, hard. He leveled out and turned, marveling as the Tomahawk pivoted on a ten-cent piece. The Tomahawk's guns took out the tailpiece of the center jet, and the pilot ejected as the fighter disintegrated in a ball of flame. Victor looked from left to right, but Scarlett and Shipwreck had taken out the other two.
"Right, you two go on ahead," Lifeline radioed. "We'll take care of these fellows."
"Yo Joe," Shipwreck bellowed, his voice crackling with feedback. "Yahooo!"
Victor whipped his head around. "We're going to /what/?" Surely he had misheard. Surely this loony was not suggesting they were going to pick up the pilots who had just tried to shoot them down. But Lifeline had unstrapped himself and was heading for the back. "Hey, /hey/!" Victor yelled.
"You can see where they're floating," Lifeline called forward. "Bring me down a little closer!"
Victor sighed, resigned, and took the chopper close enough to the water for Lifeline to fish out three very sodden and shivering pilots. Two of them resignedly accepted a ziptie around the wrists and a blanket around the shoulders. The third thrashed around, groaning.
"What's with him?" Victor asked, trying to split his attention between flying and keeping an eye on the nutballs in the back. Including the nutball medic who was responsible for bringing the other three aboard. Victor glanced back just in time to see Lifeline snap a compound fracture in the third pilot's leg back into place. He swallowed his breakfast back down again.
"That," Lifeline replied, starting to bandage the leg. He strapped the three in, then walked to the cockpit. "Let's head back to base. Scarlett and Shipwreck can take care of the escort; these fellows need attention."
Victor sighed. It was not that he was raring to go out and get shot at, but he did not like the idea of sending two compatriots out to get shot at without him. Especially if it was for the benefit of the fellows who had just been shooting at him. He reluctantly set his course back for the base, shooting sidelong glances at Lifeline. The man just sat there, calmly. "I don't get it," Victor growled.
Lifeline shrugged. "We have to give them something better."
Victor raised his eyebrows. "What?"
"Look at it from where they are. We both have a stirring chant, a nifty flag, and the latest death-dealing gizmos - and they pay better..."
"It's way more complex than that."
"Of course, but these kids like it simple. And being rescued and healed by the other side when your side has abandoned you is pretty simple." Lifeline glanced back at the dripping cargo in the back again.
Kids? Victor would eat his helmet if Lifeline was over 30. He shrugged. "Whatever you say, Sergeant."
"Oh, don't give me that." Lifeline shook his head. "The end is important in all things." The last had the singsong quality of a quotation, but Victor did not recognize it.
The Tomahawk sped back towards the base, a dubious pilot at the controls.