"Lieutenant Young, please respond..."
My eyes opened, taking in a blurry bright world. Long shadows extended from the trees and a mosquitoe landed on my forehead. Tired, I brushed it of, swaying my hanging body. I looked down and saw the ground six feet below. Memories took place of the forest, my body falling.
Someone statically said "Lieutenant Young, please respond..."
I looked around and clued in, patting my jacket. An empty pocket caught my attention and I looked down again, seeing my radio on the ground. Exhaling, I unbuckled my straps and fell to the ground with smack, falling to my side just like in training. My right leg shot with pain and I rolled on the ground, biting my lip. Slowly, I stood up and limped to my radio.
"Lieutenant Young, ple-"
My fingers wrapped around the radio and I said "Young here!"
"This is Sea Goblin, please IFF."
"Processing... Lieutenant, please state your position."
I sighed "Negative, I'm in the bush somewheres."
"Understood, we can still pick you up. Fire a flare, we'll find you."
I dug through my vest, opening pouches until I found my flare gun. My heart jumped a little as I pointed it at the sky and fired. A ball of fire went high and stayed there, arching slightly before it burned out minutes later.
Sea Goblin said "On our way to your flare, hold tight."
A clunk sounded as I loaded another flare into the gun. I flicked the safety on and dropped the gun, grabbing a smoke grenade. My thumb pushed past the weakened part of it's structure allowing red smoke to escape. It fell on the ground and I sat against a tree, waiting.
Sea Goblin finally arrived after six minutes, extending a ladder. Smiling, I popped my flare gun back into my vest and climbed onto the helicopter, holding on as it accelerated west. Duke slapped me on the back and half laughed, half yelled over the helicopter "You look like shit!"
Dried, cracked blood covered the left side of Dukes face. His blood shot eyes were un-naturally wide open as if we hadn't just escaped. I sat down on a seat and grinned "How about shot for shot with Mojave when we get back?"
Duke grinned wide "Loser pays?"
"I know a guy that can get us a couple bottles of tequila but it will not be cheap."
I could already feel my throat warming just at the idea. My head titled back against the seat, the battle felt like a thing of the past. The side door to the helicopter closed, the propellers downgrading to a dull roar. Duke asked "You really think Mojave made it?"
The question felt like it came out of the blue. I casually said "She damn well better, I'm not drinking with anything less than our whole wing."
My gut clenched with the thought is she really alright? Will I regret this conversation later?
Duke mumbled almost too softly for me to hear "Yeah, she'll be alright."
The helicopter dipped down and I asked "Why did they name you Duke?"
"Don't feel like telling you right now."
I laughed "You will tonight."
My head touched the back of the seat and I closed my eyes. Duke shook me, yelling "We're at the airfield!"
I rubbed my eyes that was damn near instant!
We climbed out of the helicopter and walked around the airfields sick crowd, sometimes avoiding some vomit. Duke punched my shoulder and pointed at Mojave sleeping on a bench. He said "Alright, I'm thinking we hang out in the ninth cargo bay, should be empty, only holds basic supplies for outdated aircraft."
"You used to be stationed here, right?"
A worried technician collided with Duke, apologizing as he went."
"Sure, hasn't changed much."
Duke touched his radio and asked "Anyone seen Daniel Grey?"
A chorus of swears and pleas to get the fuck of an open channel greeted him before a light voice locked in to his radio, asking "Duke?"
"Hey, I need that favour."
"A favour? After what you pulled?"
"Hey, after what I pu-"
I punched Duke and walked towards Mojave, yelling "Gonna wake her up alright?"
He nodded and continued arguing with his buddy. A football bounced on the ground, kicked by a helicopter.