Episode 6
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Submitted By Lamp on 12/10/24
CC Fan Fic Project, Lamp, Episodes 

   Looking back on it, I guess it would have made sense that they would be happy that we were not going to torture them to death. But you'd think they have just won a million dollars by the way they shot up and jumped around. They were still tied up too, and most of them couldn't move a step, but they celebrated so hard that it took less than a minute for all of them to break their (admittedly poorly made) rope bonds. Except to the guy tied to the chair, who just ran around with it. Even the guy we shot, jumped and extended an upward fist then started giving handshakes to everyone, including me.
"So I think we are in the clear about the whole fake murder thing, apparently," Frank said just after he exchanged a hug with one of the staff.
Indeed we were. We had used a comm setup in the command center to request Jay back downstairs to help explain the whole situation. It didn't take long to explain to the researchers, but the guards we locked up were a little more confused likely because they were not in on the whole evaluation but thankfully it didn't turn hostile. I could tell from the looks they gave me as they patrolled around the compound that they didn't like the prank we pulled on them, but I could care less. This was all over with, and that was all I cared about.

   After everybody had settled down, one of the staff-I'm guessing the head staff guy-did rounds and called everyone into the command center. Seeing no more reason to disobey anymore, I went in and took a seat on one of the dozen folding chairs. Frank and CKM were already there, along with two of the guards. 
"Any idea what this meeting's about?" I asked Frank. The rest of the guards came in and took seats next to the other guards.
"Official initiation to the unit, I'm guessing," Frank said. "You think they know we looked through our files?"
"Probably, we filled in our code names didn't we?" Happy and CKM came in the romm, followed by one of the staff. The staff member was dressed in a white lab coat, but a patch sewn in towards the top of the coat told me he was an officer.
"Miss anything?" Happy asked me as he took a seat next to me. CKM sat down next to him.
"Hasn't yet started, but I'm guessing the guy in the coat is about to begin."
"Good. I wanna see what they say about me choosing the names for them. It looked like they were going to fill them in right after the evaluation, but I beat them to it and locked the names in. Your welcome guys."   The officer in the coat coughed. Everyone stopped their side conversations and looked up to him.
"All right then," He said. "Now that everyone's here, we can begin.

   "For those of you who don't know, my name is General Shields, and I'll be your commanding officer for this assignment."
General?
"Let's start off with your evaluation grades. You all were extremely efficient, if unorthodox in your approach. Not only did you pass with flying colors, you looked at some documents we never intended for you to see. The very concept of this team was debated from the start; you didn't really help your case with the people in the upper levels with the evaluation results. However, I think I know a way to bring back that trust."
"As you all have seen, this is a vehicle unit. Most of you have had practice in one way or another of controlling armored vehicles, but you still need to get acquainted with the Combat Car. So I am requesting permission to send you on a practice drive. However, we won't actually be going for a practice run. As you may know one of the team members is currently MIA after checking in the gate, and we need to send in a team to go get him. That's where your team comes in, Sunders."

   One of the guards suddenly snapped to attention. "Sir?" he said.
"Command doesn't want us to send in the cars this early, so we are going to send in the next best thing; you guys. However, I'm worried that it might turn out into a shoot-out with someone dead. We need to get them to surrender peacefully."
   "Sir," Sunders said. "Who's them?" The general let out a deep sigh.
"It would appear "them" would happen to be a group of soldiers assigned with escorting the CC team down here as they arrive. They were the last to see our missing team member, and we have reports that they were getting very curious over who they were escorting. My guess is they took him for interrogation somewhere near the base. I looked at security records and found that only one truck has left the base between now and when the team member was dropped off, and the driver was one of the soldiers assigned to escort him.

   I remembered the group of guards who had escorted me in, and it seemed to fit. They never struck me as the friendly type.
"They were heading in a northwest direction according to the security footage. No far perimeter patrols reported seeing them, so that leaves them in a half-kilometer section of land. Only one structure is in that area, an old defense turret the size of a small building. I expect him to be in that structure. The turret is old but it might still work, plus they are equipped with small arms and their stolen truck. Sunders, your team will take position outside the compound and wait for a remote signal. At that point you will use a blowhorn to demand the return of the target and the unconditional surrender of any soldiers on the building. We all know that won't happen."

   "I'm taking a gamble that they will use the truck to make their escape. Sunders, your team will ignore the truck and secure the turret. If the turret fires then you have full permission to blow it up. Once you have secured the building you will signal for transport, but it will take some time for it to reach you. I will make the decision to call in the nearby CC team on a practice run to pursue and disable the truck. The cars are currently being equipped with EMP dummy grenades for the training run; they will be perfect in stopping truck. However you will also be equipped with rubber ball riot ammunition which you will use to subdue anyone who doesn't surrender. Transport will pick up the dissenters, and everyone will head back to base. Any questions?"

   One of the guards put his hand up.
"Yes, Elias?" the general said.
"What transport will we be using to reach the target?"
"Your legs. It ain't the far, you can manage. Anyone else?" I raised my hand.
"What's the question?"
"Sir, as you said before, we still need to get acquainted with our vehicles. I don't know how long we will have with our cars before we engage, and I'm not sure the team will be fully ready."
"You'll be ready," the general said. "Tech has made sure that you will find the cars easy to use. Anyone else?" No one raised their hand.
"Good. Meet in ten in the garage."

   I began walking out of the room along with everyone else. Before I could leave the room however the general called me over.
"I saw the report for your evaluation," the general said. "You seemed to have done a very good job not only in your improvising, but also in managing your squad." He handed me a round pin with the letters CC engraved into it. "I think it would be better to make it official, but the people up top don't like the idea of giving you guys ranks. They want you as protected as possible. They do however realize the need for someone to lead the team, and they didn't mean me. Take it." I put the pin in my pocket.
"No you idiot, on your chest."
"Sir, I'm not in uniform."
"So? You think we are going to give you guys a uniform when we don't even let you use your names? Now put it on your chest and get in the garage."

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   The garage looked a lot like a kind of showroom for the Combat Car. The room was circular and as I entered the lighting only let me see the raised pedestal on which one of the Combat Cars was standing on, slowly rotating. The back walls were dark, but from a close distance I could make out a heap of mechanic tools and weapons that supposedly could be mounted on the car. There were flamethrowers, miniguns, missile launchers of all types, a grenade launcher unit-one was currently being mounted on the car on the pedestal by a group of mechanics-even laser weapons. Four other cars were parked near a large metal folding door I guess led to an exit ramp for the cars, though a car-sized elevator on the opposite side of the room would also be a good guess. I was the last to enter the garage due to the conversation I had with General Shields. Everyone looked busy in one way or another; Happy was inspecting the car on the pedestal, Frank was looking over the assortment of weapons, CKM was being scolded by one of the mechanics over touching something he shouldn't have, and Sunder's team was doing a gear check of some small arms they had received. I walked over to one of parked cars and gave it a good lookdown. It was almost entirely the same as the car I'd seen in the computer model, with the exception of the mounted weapon in the model being a rocket launcher and this bearing a minigun.

   "Hey!" I heard Frank yell from behind me. There was a bit of echo to his voice in such a large room.
"Frank, have you looked at these yet?" I said.
"You won't be calling me Frank anymore."
"Right. Codenames, yeah. What's yours again?"
"It's on the back of the car youíre at." Sure enough on the rear bumper, in small letters was his codename; Nattyfrank.
"You got an odd choice in names."
"It's a personal choice. Kinda like CKM's. Well, 5CKM3 now."
"Oh. In that case, not bad."

   "Anyways, you seen these cars?" I said.
"I have now. These beat my old ride at least." I laughed.
"Yeah, well your old ride wasn't a top secret military project. These beat any clunker, any day."
"Sure do. Think we can get a test drive?"
"Can't you wait five minutes?"
"No." Nattyfrank walked over to the mechanic scolding CKM and asked him something. He gave a quick reply to Nattyfrank before returning to CKM.

   "He says to knock ourselves out," Nattyfrank said.
"All right then. Let's get in." I walked through the cars before finding mine and stepping in. There wasn't exactly your standard steering wheel and dashboard. The whole thing seemed to be controlled like a tank, with a joystick to aim the turret. The windshield was rather narrow to accommodate for all kinds of gauges and meters below it, most not really needed. I didn't know what I would need a barometer for, but I doubted it was practical.

   "Crap, are they starting this early?" I heard over a speaker. It was a male voice, no one I recognized. I looked for some type of comms button, but I couldn't find any.
"All right, I'll go through you guys one at a time. My name is...one sec, I got a lot of papers here. You'd think it would just be simpler to just use my real name, but they had to assign all these special codenames. shit, you guys are the only ones that can hear me right?"
"Yeah, don't panic," This was Nattyfrank's voice over the speaker. "We aren't actually starting the mission yet, just checking out the cars."
"Oh thank god. Iím not exactly black ops like you guys, they just have me running comms for you. One second, they gave me my codename in a printout and I lost it in this mess."

   I opened the driverís side door and yelled out "Natty! How do you activate comms in this?"
"Just speak in," the comms guy said. "Everything's a lot simpler than it looks. No need to yell, by the way."
"Yeah, you almost busted my eardrum with that one." Frank said.
"All right, all right," I said, in a quieter tone. "Can you hear me?"
"Sure can," the guy on comms said. "You guys need help with anything else?"
"Not right now," Nattyfrank said. "You find you codename yet?"
"Still looking, hold on. It's a mess where I'm at, they just assigned me to this position today. Never got a chance to get organized."
"I know the feeling," I heard over the comms. It was Happy's voice. "Who's this guy?"
"Hiyah Happy, welcome to the party," I said.
"Found it! Codename's Cremyjr...what the hell?"
"I picked it out for you," Happy said. "And it's pronounced Creamy Jr."
"Yeah, thanks. This will really help me get the ladies."

   "Happy, what's your codename?" I asked.
"XD," Happy said." Much better than Natty's."
"Yeah, thanks," Nattyfrank said. "When are we starting this mission already?"
"Two minutes," cremyjr said. "Last call for any tech support from yours truly."
"None needed," XD said. "This thing looks just like the computers back home."
"I'm lost," I heard 5CKM3 chip in over the comm. "They couldn't just go with a steering wheel and pedals?"
"They did for you," cremyjr said. "You got the easy controls. The pedal on the far right gives flight, the joystick on the right aims the gun, and the joystick on the left tilts the car in flight. Any other questions?"
"Yeah, what the hell do you mean flight?"
"53 CKM," I said, "Just so you know ahead of time, I've been put in charge of the team. No questioning orders out there, you got it?"
"Sure, whatever," 5CKM3 said. "Just don't get me killed."

   I didn't see how we were going to pull this off, even with this equipment. Me and 5CKM3 were the only ones with military experience, and I didn't really trust that 5CKM3 would be calm under pressure. That said, I doubted we were going to lack effort. There was a guy with no idea where he was, what was going on or why he was there being interrogated for information he didn't had. I just hoped he would be able to hold off long enough for us to get there.

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   This was probably going to be the death of me, and I wasn't going to have a clue why.

   I had been in this rusty bunker for one hour? Two? It felt like forever, but that was understandable. I'd been tied to this pipe ever since I was dropped off here, and it had been hell ever since. I'm pretty sure I had broken a rib and my lips were stained with my blood. My wrists were cuffed tightly to a pipe on the ceiling and hurt badly, and my legs felt like they were giving out. Vision was blurry, and my mouth was dry. I would tell these guys anything I knew by know, but I just didn't know anything.

   It had been a week since I was called out for a special assignment. I really had no idea that I was to be tortured and interrogated by some of the stupidest goons around, and if I did I probably would have packed my gun. But even if I did know I probably wouldn't have even time to do that with how much they hurried me. In fact, they put me under such intense watch I doubt I could have bailed if I tried. You would have thought I was guilty of treason with how badly they treated me. First three days in the back of a truck, and now this. And they say they don't even know why I'm here, when they picked me up! There must have been a communication breakdown with orders, or they picked up the wrong guy. I couldn't see any reason I was stuck in this rusty basement otherwise.

   I'd been alone for the past ten minutes or so, to catch my breath. I could hear people arguing outside, mostly over what to do with me. Apparently they were finally starting to realize that they had the wrong hostage, and were starting to panic.
"I can't take this anymore," I heard one say. "We're just waiting to be busted for this."
"Look, calm down," another said. "They probably don't even know we're here."
"They saw us check in, they saw us check out. They are going to figure out that this guy is missing soon, and by how much they wanted him they are going to be pretty determined to get him back." There was a pause in the conversation. "All right then," a third voice said. "We move him, drop him off someplace, and dump the truck and uniforms. We get lost before they notice he's gone."

   My prayers were answered. Sure enough, they untied me and threw me in the back of the covered truck they had brought me here in. I didn't know where I was headed, but it was away from here and I was thankful for that. Like the guards had said, no one would know where I was, and no one would find me.

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