Episode 3
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Submitted By Lamp on 12/09/30
CC Fan Fic Project, Lamp, Episodes 

   It had been a good amount of time, maybe an hour. The door was still locked, and I was still sitting on the floor with the other conscriptees, waiting for someone to come and unlock the door. We had spent the majority of the hour talking, trying to pass the time. It wasn't long before we came into forbidden territory though.
"So what are you guys called?" I asked.
"No names," they all said in union.
Apparently they all had been strictly instructed by the guards outside not to use their names. I must have gotten the half-hearted treatment with just a comment before coming inside the passage. It wasn't long however before we started using nicknames though.
   Happy was the most obvious, for he was the most optimistic about the scenario we were in. He looked young, and I could tell from his frame he wasn't a very outdoors person. In this world, I could only guess that he was refugee or an officer of some sort, but when I asked him about it he said he wasn't.
   "Then what are you?" I asked.
"I ran some defenses along with a few other people in my refugee camp. We were set up in an vacant castle that must have been conquered a decade or two ago. The walls were pretty much gone so we relied on some old tech we had salvaged to keep us defended from raiders and such. I was the newest member on the computer teams for turret targeting and such, but I was pretty good at it."
"I thought you weren’t a refugee."
"Not anymore. These guys came over and gave the camp some ammo for me. Next thing I knew I was in the back of a truck being hauled here."
"They paid for you? Why?" He shrugged.
"Good question."
   CKM was the ugly duckling in the room. It was easy to tell from the looks he gave you on his face that that he wasn't a people person, but he looked fit. His nickname was his initials. "Might as well piss these guys off as much as I can," he had said. I didn't want to ask him where he came from at the moment, but I needed to kill some time.
"I'm a decorated war hero," he has said. The rest of us rolled our eyes.
   "It's true. Seven total deployments, each with a medal to boot."
"They give you a medal just for coming back alive," I said.
"And what makes you an expert?"
"Because I got one myself. I would show it to you, but I left it at home." That was enough to shut him up. He knew that I knew his bluff; you would have to hide under a rock during each of your deployments to survive for seven.
   Frank was the guy who kept all of us calm. His nickname was my suggestion.
"So Frank, how did you get here?" I had asked.
"My name's not Frank."
"Sure it is. Right guys?"
'Yup, sure is," Happy chipped in. CKM grunted "sure".
"Eh, whatever," Frank said. "What was the question?"
"How did they get you, Frank?" I replied.
   "They saw me driving my tank along the old..."
"Your what?" I said.
"Yeah, a tank. Picked it off a battleground, it was ugly but it still started. Took a week to figure out how to move that thing but it made a nice mobile home."
"Damn," CKM whispered. Happy let out a low whistle.
"All right then, where were where you driving your tank?" I said.
"Along some old highway, dunno if you know it since your conscripted. Number 55."
"I might be conscripted but I'm not an idiot. Who doesn't know 55, it's got all the camps."
   "Well you know that part where it goes into the canyon? I was just about to head in, pull over in one of the rest stops and sleep for the night when I pass this truck. It was pulled over you see, and I figured the driver must have been asleep. But as soon as I pass it it pulls up behind me and the guy in the passenger seat shoots out one of my old treads. I figured it was a raider so I swerved the turret around at their truck, but they still kept coming! I didn't have a lot of options so I started ramming the truck."
   "Why didn't you just use the turret?" I said.
"No ammo for it. I just use it to scare people away. They called my bluff though and kept coming."
"So you ran them over."
"Well I was going to but then this helicopter comes in and unloads some rounds into my armor. The thing was already rusty so it only took ten or so to cut into the cabin. That was when they use this bullhorn to tell me to pull over and put my hands up. They had a helicopter, so what was I to do? They throw me in the back of the truck and haul me here."
"Man, you serious?"
"As serious as I can be. So how did you get here?"
   "Me?" I said. "Not as interesting as your story. I was already conscripted, so I didn't really have a say in the matter. They came to my home in the morning and told me to come with them. I figured they were assigning me to another unit so I didn't resist or anything, but then they told me to get in this truck. They had guns and I didn't, so what was I to do? Got in the back and a week later, I'm here. Didn't even get to say goodbye to my family."
   "Wow," Happy said. "I at least got to say goodbye to mine."
"I left a note at the house though, I always do whenever the military wanted me. Just in case I wouldn't come back. I'm taking comfort in that. So what about you guys, what's your family situation?"
"Me and CKM have none," Frank said. "Me, you know what it's like outside the castles. CKM lost his on a deployment."
"Shut up Frank," CKM said. Apparently it was a touchy subject, so we left it at that.
   We filled the rest of the time with stories mostly. Happy told us what it was like at his camp. Frank gave us a bunch of travel stories. Me and CKM talked about the military life. But soon we were out of stuff to talk about, and we were left staring at the door or the now closed secret entrance.   Happy was the one who broke the silence.
"You hear that?" he said.
"I don't hear anything," CKM said.
"Listen, something's going on out there," I said. We all shut up and listened.
   I could hear someone talking, yelling maybe? I couldn't make out any words, but someone was talking beyond the metal door. At first I was hopeful the door would open, but then it scared me. It couldn't possibly be anything better than what we had gone through before, could it?
   Then the door opened.

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