Categories > Cartoons > G.I. Joe > Tenderfoot0 Reviews
A collection of ficlets, in chronological order, focusing on Lift Ticket and Lifeline.
He felt something on his arm, and almost jumped out of his skin. He jerked his head over to see that it was just Lady Jaye, her fingertips sitting gently on his forearm, her face unreadable behind her goggles. "It's all right," she hissed. "They don't know."
He took a deep breath and tried to loosen his stride and saunter like he belonged on a Cobra base. Months passed, he felt, as they crossed about fifty yards of open area and entered the biggest building on the compound, a squat windowless structure that looked a little like his old grade school. The corridor inside was clean and well-lit, with doors leading off to either side; Lift Ticket hung back slightly, letting Lady Jaye take the lead. He was not normally one for following, but he was completely out of his element.
Just before they reached a bend in the corridor, Lady Jaye grabbed his arm and pulled him to the inside wall. He glanced at her, confused, and she nodded at the Viper across the hall; he was standing at attention with his fist on his chest, looking at something around the bend. Lady Jaye assumed a similar posture, fist to chest, and Lift Ticket belatedly aped her.
A harsh voice drifted around the corner, followed by Cobra Commander; the Baroness and two Crimson Guards followed behind. He nodded at the Viper across the hall, not interrupting his diatribe. Having come in halfway through it, Lift Ticket had no idea what it was about - but whatever it was, Cobra Commander clearly felt very strongly in the negative. He paused both his rant and his walk in front of Lift Ticket and Lady Jaye, however, looking at them searchingly. He knows! Lift Ticket thought, tensing for desperate action, trying to read an expression in that featureless mask.
"/Women/ pilots," Cobra Commander grated, staring at Lady Jaye's obviously female form and shaking his head. "What is Cobra coming to?" He turned and continued to walk, saying absently, "Now, where was I?"
The Baroness glared at his back, then turned to Lift Ticket, her mouth curving into a smile as she arched her eyebrows. "Aren't you the buff one," she purred, stroking his shoulders. "So many of the Vipers get fat and lazy on the milkruns. Why don't you come by later..."
"Baroness!" Cobra Commander shrieked from down the hallway. "Is this a troop inspection or a speed-dating service?"
"Feh," the Baroness grumbled. "He knows nothing about how to mix work and pleasure." She winked at Lift Ticket and walked down the hall, her hips swinging invitingly.
"Well," Lady Jaye whispered, "so much for nobody important being here. Would you like to come with me while I finish this up, or would you like to run along and take her up on that?"
"Not a word of that to anyone back at the base," Lift Ticket growled, falling in behind her. "Not a damn word."
"I wouldn't dream of telling anyone about this," she deadpanned, as they continued their walk down the corridor. "I'm sure you'll think of a suitable bribe, after all."
Lady Jaye stopped in front of a door after a few yards. The other doors on the corridor had been fairly standard, with a window in the top and a handle on the outside. The one they stopped in front of was stark grey, featureless and handle-less. "How do we get into /this/?" Lift Ticket asked.
"With a little help from our friends," Lady Jaye replied, fishing in her belt pouch. She pulled out a card with a thick chunk of metal on top. She slid the card into a slot next to the door, and LEDs on the metal started to flash in staccato bursts of red. After a moment, they went out, and another LED glowed green. Lady Jaye pressed a button on the slot, and the door started to open. She pulled out the card. "A little gift from Mainframe."
The door took a long time to open. It was as thick across as Lift Ticket could reach with one arm. "Whut the hell is that protectin'?" he asked, impressed.
"What we're here for," she replied. "Information on Cobra's biological weapons. Nasty stuff, we're sure. But Cobra never designs a bioweapon without a cure - they want to survive a strike, after all! So if we steal the information on their cures, we negate the weapons." She ducked into the room, and Lift Ticket followed. The room inside was well-lit; the walls seemed made of banks of humming computers. She sat at one and started to type. "Keep an eye out."
Lift Ticket stood in the middle of the room with his arms folded, watching the corridor. A few Cobras passed by and gave the open door a look, but they kept walking when they saw him. The rattling tappity of Lady Jaye's fingers on the keyboard was hypnotizing, and Lift Ticket shook himself as he realized that his mind was drifting. He walked over to look over her shoulder as she stopped typing and sat back, flexing her fingers. "How's it comin'?"
She popped a diskette out of the drive and slid it into her pouch. "Got it. Let's get out of here."
"What are you doing here?" a voice asked behind them. They both turned to see a slightly built Cobra trooper standing in the doorway, gun leveled at them.
"Just inputting some data," Lady Jaye replied in a deep voice as she stood. "On the request of /Cobra Commander/. Put that away."
"What's your clearance code?" the Viper asked, not moving.
"Why should we give it ta you?" Lift Ticket growled. "Move it, buddy, before we get upset. We work for a livin'."
The Viper raised the weapon slightly. "I've never heard of a Viper having clearance for these computers. They're for the techs. And Mindbender said specifically that Cobra Commander was not to have access to the bioweapons database. Take off your helmets; I want to see you."
Lift Ticket frowned, trying to gauge possibilities. The Viper was too far away to jump outright; he'd get shot down before he reached the pilot. On the other hand, his momentum would keep him moving, and maybe Lady Jaye would escape. But no - a shot would alert the rest of the base. Still...
"Whatever you're thinking," Lady Jaye murmured as she pulled her helmet off, "don't." Lift Ticket sighed and pulled off his own helmet.
The Viper turned his head slightly towards Lift Ticket, cocking it as if staring. After a few moments, he said, "I know you. You're a Joe." Lift Ticket tensed, readying himself to jump, but the Viper's trigger finger did not move. "You pulled me out of the drink in the Caribbean."
"Oh, yeah, yeah," Lift Ticket replied. "I thought ya looked familiar. Hey, one good turn deserves another, what?"
The Viper chuckled. "Do you think I would just /let you go/?"
Lift Ticket shrugged. "Hey. Ya finished your mission and got home safe. We're just skulkin' around, here. We didn't hurt nobody." He took a guess at Cobra's treatment of its rank and file. "Do ya really think you'll get some kinda reward for turnin' us in? You'll be flyin' the same missions next week whether ya let us go or not."
"You're right, but they'll bust me down to garbage runs if they find out I let two Joes walk right out." The Viper lowered the rifle and stepped farther inside, placing his hand over a red button on the wall. "You have one minute before I sound general quarters. That's my job taken care of, and if you get out of this, you'd better remember that I helped you."
"Hey," Lady Jaye started to say, gratefully.
"Fifty-five seconds," the Viper barked. Lady Jaye and Lift Ticket slammed their helmets on their heads and left, walking with ground-eating strides.
They were just a few steps from the door when a klaxon started to hoot. They both started to sprint. "That warn't a minute!" Lift Ticket yelled.
"Do you want to go back and argue?" Lady Jaye asked, leaping through the closing door. Lift Ticket stumbled through it after her.
The yard was full of activity; guards ran purposefully to stations, weapons at the ready. The two Joes very much stood out as the only two in a hurry to leave. "Halt!" yelled the guard at the gate; he and his companion leveled their weapons. Lady Jaye paused, spun on her toe, and delivered a roundhouse kick to one. Lift Ticket did not slow down; he crouched, caught the other guard in a bear hug, and let the Cobra fall heavily to the ground as he ran on.
Shots followed them into the brambles outside of the base, but the guards were not organized enough to send anyone to give chase. They arrived back at the Tomahawk without incident, and Lift Ticket fired it up immediately. He puffed and blew as he lifted off.
"You haven't been training sprints, have you?" Lady Jaye asked, critically, as she removed her helmet and gloves. "Distance running shouldn't be all of it."
"Thanks for the constructive commentary, ma'am," Lift Ticket muttered, turning the Tomahawk towards base. "I'll work on..." he trailed off as the proximity alert sounded. "Crap."
Lady Jaye looked out on her side. "Night Ravens!"
"Great," Lift Ticket muttered. He started to bob and weave, just before the air started to crackle with gunfire. He turned one zig into a pirouette, and got a good look at three black planes streaking towards him. He fired a missile at the center one, then plunged as the other two recovered from their surprise and got off a few wild shots. He kept in the dive as he watched the first plane crash to the ground, noting that one of the two Ravens was following. He pulled up almost close enough to touch grass; the Raven tried to imitate, but its belly scraped the ground, and it shuddered and plowed a huge furrow in the earth as it, too, crashed.
The last Raven spat more rounds at him, and the Tomahawk quaked as one of them hit. Lift Ticket said a word that made Lady Jaye arch an eyebrow. He leveled out, turned, and blanketed the Raven with fire with a complete absence of finesse. A shot hit the plane's wing, and it disengaged, stumbling smokily back to the base.
"How are we doing?" Lady Jaye asked.
"We got hit." Lift Ticket scanned the board. "Looks like we're losing fuel. Probably won't make it back to base. Any other options?"
Lady Jaye picked up her headphone set and radioed the base. "USS Winthrop," she replied, finally. "They're about 120 miles north-northeast. Can you make it?"
"I'll make it, but you might have to get out and push!" Lift Ticket looked at the fuel gauge with a critical eye.
He had been pessimistic about their fuel loss - always safest, he figured - and made it to the carrier with fuel to spare. "Hardly even excitin'," he commented, as they unstrapped themselves from the seats.
Lady Jaye stretched with catlike grace. "Don't take me out for any 'exciting' nights on the town, if that's the case." They both stepped out of the helicopter, greeting the three sailors who were waiting for them.
"You look beat," a sailor with a sandy-blond crewcut said. "C'mon and have a bite. Commander Garmen's in the mess, and he'll be wanting to talk to you anyway."
"Thank you!" Lady Jaye replied, with a winning smile. "I'd love to." She turned to Lift Ticket.
Socializing with brass was not his idea of a good time. "I got a helicopter to fix. Y'all got some tools?"
The sailors escorted Lady Jaye away, and Lift Ticket turned to the Tomahawk. "You deserve better, darlin'," he muttered, patting it on a charred body panel. He told his rumbling stomach to hold off a while as he leaned against the helicopter and waited for the tools, trying to tug discreetly at the too-tight bits of his Viper uniform.