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None of the trio plus their harpy friend heard the messenger enter the mess hall over the PA system loudly announcing the base’s warning for an imminent full moon.
Mark had made a stupid quip about Rachel hunting down him and Steve back in a poorly timed night exercise right as the messenger set three paper-stuffed tan folders in front of the trio.
“Reassignment, courtesy of Mr. Harsworth.” The military messenger says, giving a firm salute only to drop it to run off with a stack of other papers and folders destined for others around the base.
Rachel picks up her designated folder in paw, remarking “Couldn’t have even sent a text or something?” under her breath as Steve and Mark mimic her, opening the folders in hand.
All three of them exchanged confused looks only to have the moment broken by Steve’s sarcastic voice, “Well Suzie, I don’t think we’re going to see you for a while…”
The harpy gives a quizzical look to Steve, who turns the official-looking transfer notice sheet to Suzie.
She can clearly read on the copy of the form all the important details.
Location: [Creech AFB Experimental Craft Research Facility]
New Advisor: [Director of Engineering Harsworth, Lead Mamono Siatra-2 ‘Siggy’]
Role: [Official Test Pilots of UCAV Team]
Mark grabs Steve’s folder and shoves it into the table, “Opsec ya’ dingus! Don’t want any leaks ‘cause some Alp decides to go’n post about all the new fancy tech on War Thunder!”
“Relax, Suzie-Q probably had to sign some fancy papers after what she saw up there anyways….” The hellhound remarks, sifting through the papers with her paw.
“Y’a know, there’s a bonus involved on here right?” Mark chuckles as he sets the folder on the table. “Check the bottom of the page, maybe the strip is in our future after all.”
Suzie leans in to read the figure listed at the bottom of Steve’s papers, which given Mark and Rachel’s reactions, they also had a bonus of about that size headed to their accounts.
“You guys get all the fun, they didn’t even give me hazard pay for those damned grenades.” Suzie pouts as the trio are ripe with smug smiles.
“You’re not the one that has to strap a rocket to their back and hope some greenie didn’t rig it up poorly.” Steve says under his breath, only to receive a meaty smack from Mark.
“They’re engineer’s too. Dontcha’ go spouting that ‘round ‘em or your pack’ll go up n’flames!”
“Damned straight Mark. Looks like we’re shipping out before tonight… they want us there before the full moon. Go figure, they’ve probably got accommodations set up to keep us off you fools.” Rachel says, closing her folder and setting it on the table.
Steve stands up abruptly from the table, “Shit, how am I going to pack all my stuff by 20? It’s 16 already!”
He stands there holding the folder in hand, realizing he drew the attention of some of the others in the mess hall sitting around their table.
“Uh… I’ll see you guys at the transport chopper…. Suzie, I’ll see you later!” Steve says as the stray gazes fall off of him.
Rachel stands far less suddenly, “Good idea, later Suzie-Q”
Mark stared down at his sub-par meatloaf and decided that copying his peers was probably the best course of action, “Yup, keep it real Suzie” he says, walking off in the direction of the barracks.
Mark didn’t have as much junk as Steve, given that he’d taken the time to save some of his money. Most of his belongings could be packed into two duffel bags and a backpack, which now sat fully endowed on the floor next to his bed.
He sat reading over the pages, finally going over the quick profiles for Harsworth, who he already knew, and this mystery ‘Siggy’.
‘Automaton, considered expert Mamono engineer but has forgone typical Automaton behaviors. Refuses to take a single master, believing she is serving the “worthy” military-industrial complex. Considered odd by other Mamono of her type and has taken on Gremlins as assistants. Extremely dedicated, considered by human workers as abrasive and stern.’
“Never a normal one n’this place…” Mark mutters to himself as he lies back on his well-made bed. He checks his phone, the time reading 18:31. With a small laugh at the though of Steve frantically packing his room, trying to stuff all of his belongings in to the few bags he owned, Mark relaxes and lets out a sigh.
He pulls himself upright and eyes his bags on the floor. Maybe it would be a sight to see Steve in such a state.
Mark had parked himself in the doorway of Steve’s room for the remainder of the time. Rachel had apparently had the same thought and the two of them watched in amusement as Steve tried to fill an ALICE pack with his Mamono Gathering cards and other things Rachel deemed useless.
She had never understood the thrills of throwing down the Manticore venom card after Steve had played his order paladin card, nor would she ever understand the dawning horror of Steve grinning as wide as a latrine ditch as he pulled out his conditional trump card of ‘Surprise Alping’.
“Hey Mark, mind if I sneak some stuff in your bags? I don’t think I’ll be able to fit my speakers in this thing.”
Rachel grabs the speaker in paw and stuffs it into a pocket on her bag, “Steve, it’s 19:30, we’ve got to be to the pad in 15.”
“Fine… fine… I’ll call Suzie. She’ll probably throw most of my leftover stuff in to that pile she calls a nest.” Steve says sullenly as he tries to pull the overstuffed bag on to his back.
“Come on mule! Lift with you legs!” Cheers Rachel as she departs with Mark in tow.
Steve is last out of the now lackluster room, wobbling from side to side as the trio walks out the barracks door to the sound of an approaching helicopter.209 Views