Ikari Files Revisited
Ikari Files #1: Return Home
Lieutenant Ralf Jones sat within the steel confines of a large troop transport plane and reminisced about times long past. He enjoyed looking back on things; waxing nostalgic helped time go by on flights to and from missions. He remembered signing up to join the US Military right out of high school. Basic training seemed like such a long time ago. The smokings, the yelling, the constant physical and mental assaults from the Drill Sergeants
Given the person he was back then he wondered how he made it through it all without breaking. He chuckled: he hadn't always been rough and tough. He remembered a time when he thought about quitting it all and trying to make it as a civilian. He remembered regretting what he had got himself into. He would have never imagined that he'd be scouted out to join Heidern's mercenary force. He would have never seen himself entering fighting tournaments and battling super powered beings. If someone had asked him back in the beginning if he planned on staying in the fight for as long as he had he would have laughed. There he was, though, still fighting, still hanging tough after all those years
He peered out the window of the plane and sighed. No amount of retrospect was going to change the present. Remembering the old days was his way of getting his mind off his current troubles. He adjusted himself in his seat to assume a more comfortable position, although he knew it was futile. There was nothing ergonomic about military flights. Between the net seats, the stomach-turning fumes, and the loud whirring of the turbine engines there wasn't much room for crew comfort. He rested his head back against the wall and sighed. He could just barely perceive the sound of his fellow soldier's snores over the roaring engines. At least they could relax in a place like this. He let his eyes shut and slowed his breathing. I may as well try
To his surprise, the tidal wave of sleep crashed upon him almost instantaneously. He felt his consciousness sink deep into a sea of blackness. His senses numbed. The sound of the flying mechanical cacophony seemed to be swallowed down into a dreary abyss. There was a gentle release and then nothingness as his mind slowly drifted away
It only felt like a few minutes had passed before something shook his shoulder violently, "Yo, Ralf! RALF!"
He awakened with a start and looked around wildly. His comrade, Clark Steel, stood over him with one hand on Ralf's shoulder and the other carrying a rifle.
Clark let go of Ralf and adjusted his sunglasses, "Damn, man, you in a coma or something?"
Ralf blinked, he was still tired and now very confused, "Ugh, what? What is it?"
"We're almost back," Clark knelt down in front of Ralf to help brace himself against the gentle bucking of the aircraft. He looked around before whispering, "You think you're ready for this?"
"The debrief?" Ralf rolled his eyes and groaned, "No, but what am I gonna do? I can't just walk away from it."
Clark tilted his head side to side thoughtfully, "Yeah, having to debrief a failed mission to the commander is tough, but it's not your fault. The odds were stacked against us."
Ralf nodded, "I know. We're lucky to be alive
We seriously underestimated those bastards."
" Clark stood up and turned away, "I just wanted to make sure you were okay with this before we got in. Just make sure you relax and don't worry too much about it. I got your back."
"Uh-huh, thanks." Ralf watched as Clark made his way back to his seat. Facing Heidern was the last thing he wanted to do and he knew Clark didn't feel too keen on the prospect either. Still, he had a job to do as both a leader and a subordinate. Commander Heidern would have to understand.
The plane yawed and rolled as it approached the airstrip. It nosed down and eased its way into a none-to-gentle landing on an old, worn runway. Ralf checked his gear and prepared to exit. The soldiers around him awakened groggily and gathered their equipment; soon they'd be on the ground and back in action. After a brief taxi up and down the airfield, the plane rolled to a stop and the soldiers stood to exit the vehicle. Clark and Ralf got up slowly and allowed the warriors to pass. They gave each other knowing looks and began their long trek to the main office.
Clark removed his shades and cleaned them off, "You ready for this
Ralf shouldered his pack and sighed, "Yep
"Then let's get this over with." Clark pushed past Ralf and made his way off the plane.
Ralf paused for a moment to view his surroundings. He still felt half asleep. He hated going to meetings when he was tired. He stomped the floor of the plane to help jar himself awake as he trudged out the back behind Clark.
The Ikari Files #2: AAR
Ralf hated going back to garrison. If he had his way he would always be out on some mission somewhere, working day in and out just to avoid all the ceaseless bureaucracy. Everything was "hurry up and wait" back at headquarters. Much to his chagrin, he barely had time to put his gear down before he was rushed away to meet with Commander Heidern. All he wanted to do was eat, rest, and relax after a perilous mission, but it didn't seem as though he'd get a chance to do that until his next flight out. So instead of relaxing in his room back at the barracks he now found himself fighting sleep in front of a large circular table inside a small conference room.
He looked around the room with half-open eyes. Clark seemed wide awake, but it was hard to tell behind his sunglasses. He was leaned back in his chair rocking back and forth slowly with his arms behind his head. Ralf sneered, sometimes Clark was so easy-going it frustrated him. He hadn't heard a single word of complaint from Clark since the mission had begun. He always went with the flow.
Ralf rubbed his eyes tiredly and focused his attention on Heidern who was standing in front of a large projector screen. An overhead photographic view of the mission site, Goukuentou Island, was displayed on the projection behind him. Heidern looked as stern as ever as he gave the mission debrief. He occasionally smacked his pointer against the screen to indicate some section of the island he was discussing. Everything about Heidern was straight-laced. His boots were shined, his uniform was pressed, and his movements were sharp and precise. To Ralf, everything about Heidern screamed "military," "high strung," and "doesn't get out much."
Ralf sighed: it was a wonder why Heidern and Clark got along so well. They were two entirely different people. He shut his eyes and contemplated why he was always the one who got yelled at consistently when Clark was
"Are you listening, Lieutenant!?" Heidern rapped his pointer against the table.
Oh yeah. That's why, Ralf thought. He nodded and yawned, "Hrm
Heidern was livid. He jabbed his stick at Ralf, "I hope you realize the implications of your failing this mission, Jones!"
Ralf cast a questioning eye over at Clark, but was answered with a shrug. He sighed, Clark had a bad tendency of hanging back while he got lambasted. Ralf couldn't blame him, though; he brought a lot of the trouble he got into on himself. He straightened himself up and prepared the best excuse he could come up with.
"With all due respect, sir, the Peregrine Falcons weren't much help during this operation." Ralf gestured to an area on the map, "Doctrine Dark's forces cut us off here, because Captain Roving couldn't get his company to us in time. We would still be out there fighting if he supported us more efficiently!"
Clark, still seated in a relaxed position, spoke up, "Ralf has a point, sir. Not all the blame should be laid on him. The mission was a joint effort, and the PF Squad fouled it up."
Finally, Ralf grinned, a little support.
Clark continued, "Let's not even talk about the fact that Major Rossi has no clue how to get supplies to his allies. That Sergeant Aikawa chick never has a clue where she is. How could he depend on someone like that to run logistics?"
Heidern didn't look impressed by either of the Ikari Warrior's excuses. He smacked his pointer against the table and shouted, "We are not here to play the blame game, you two! The Peregrine Falcons and S.W.A.L.L.O.W. Intelligence are used to operating alone in combat which is why they didn't work well with us. We've been trying to work around faults in information dissemination since day one. I recognize there is a problem, and I assure you that we are doing something about it. It's a slow process and it's going to be painful, but you all knew the challenge we had to contend with before you accepted this missionalthough, that is not an excuse for their gross negligence of the Ikari forces." He calmed down and fixed his collar, "It will all be dealt with accordingly, I will see to that."
Ralf and Clark nodded silently. Heidern had a point; they knew it wasn't going to be easy. Complaining wouldn't fix the problem at hand.
" Heidern stared down his nose at Ralf. His glare was filled with disdain, "I believe that you ARE partially to blame for this."
Here we go, Ralf prepared himself mentally for the chewing out he was about to receive, "And may I ask how that is, sir?"
Heidern thrust his pointer at Ralf, very nearly striking him on the nose, "You're not Rambo, lieutenant. Those soldiers you're out there with depend on you to do your job, and that job is to delegate tasks and lead them to victory." Heidern raised his voice, "Jones, you need to cool down and think. Your duty is to give orders, not run out on the battlefield headlong into danger. I expect careful planning, military bearing, and intelligent restraint from my officers. If you want to run around punching people in the face and shooting everything you see, then you may as well sign up to join the Tekken Force because we don't need that kind of behavior here!"
Ralf grunted, "Yes, sir
Clark stifled a chuckle.
"And you!" Heidern pointed at Clark, "You need to make sure he stays in line. You're a Noncommissioned Officer: you of all people should know the importance of supporting your officers and leading soldiers."
Clark fumbled, "Ahem! Yes, sir!"
"I'm glad we're all in agreement then," Heidern turned off the projector and turned up the lights, "The next time I see both of you I expect there to be better news, understood?"
Ralf and Clark answered in unison, "Yes, sir!"
"Right." Heidern pulled out a small handset radio and spoke into it, "Please send Sera in right away."
Sera!? Ralf placed his hands flat against the table and stood up, "Muchiko!? She's here?"
"Yes," Heidern answered, "It would appear that sending just the two of you was not enough to get the mission accomplished." He lowered his voice, "Leona has already deployed with a Metal Slug section and is in route to her next mission as well."
"What? Without us!?" Ralf shouted angrily.
"Calm down, Ralf." Clark walked over to Ralf and patted him on the shoulder, "You don't need to make the commander anymore upset at you than he already is."
Ralf felt defeated. He slumped down in his chair, Leona
" Clark swallowed hard, "
Is all this really necessary, sir?"
Heidern paced back and forth, "Colonel Guile has already informed me that his air force is being overwhelmed by Rolento's triple A. With Rolento's anti-air capabilities and artillery expertise and Doctrine Dark's ruthless infantry scouring the jungles, we have no other choice. We're putting forth our best operatives so that we can end this right away!"
At that moment the door of the conference room swung open and Whip entered the room. She saluted smartly, "Heidern, sir, reporting."
Ralf watched as Heidern returned her salute and dropped it prompting her to drop hers as well. He hadn't seen Whip in what seemed like ages, but she hadn't changed. She still carried her trademark bullwhip on her hip and was outfitted in her form-fitting brown fatigues. She had an intense, almost intimidating, look in her eyes; one that didn't befit the feminine features of her face. If it weren't for her constant scowl and strict demeanor he may have found her somewhat attractive
Ralf looked over towards Clark to gauge his reaction just in time to notice Clark look aside when Whip's eyes turned to meet his. For a moment, her expression had softened considerably. Clark tilted his hat down over his forehead, crossed his arms, and tucked his chin into his chest. Ralf shook his head and laughed.
Heidern smacked Ralf on the top of the head with his pointer, "Something you'd like to share, Jones?"
"No," Ralf rubbed his head, "Just happy to see Muchiko again."
Whip nodded sharply, "It'll be good working with you two again."
Clark grunted in agreement.
"You all can catch up later," Heidern pointed towards the door, "You two are scheduled to move back to the site immediately."
Ralf groaned, "Already? You think we could get some chow or something. I'm tired as"
"AHEM!" Clark walked over and punched Ralf in the back.
Heidern glared at Ralf, "Unless you have anything to add, Lieutenant, I suggest you hurry and gather up your gear for the next flight out."
Yes, sir." He grimaced as he stretched out his back.
Clark rendered a weak salute, "With Whip's assistance the mission should go as planned, sir!"
Heidern saluted back, "For everyone's sake, I hope so." He put his hand on Whip's shoulder, "She'll meet up with you all when you get there. I have to speak with her privately."
"Yes, sir. We'll be on our way." Clark grabbed Ralf's arm and pulled him out of the room.
Ralf grumbled as he trudged along, there was no rest for the restless.
The Ikari Files #3: Moving Out
Ralf did get his meal, but it came in the form of a vegetable omelet MRE. He would have complained, but he was far too tired and hungry to care. He ate his meal begrudgingly and went to sleep soon after getting on his flight.
The flight back to Goukuentou Island was much faster than the trip from it. This time they took a smaller, faster private vessel to their destination. Before long the Ikari Warriors were wheels on deck at the island and on another flight, this time a helicopter, to another base where they were to catch a convoy to their final destination.
Ralf never tended to take in the sights while he was FOB hopping. In fact, he never planned on doing anything but sleeping his way to missions and sleeping his way back. All he knew is that it was hot, humid, and green. All the bases looked the same: neat rows of tents, HQs incased in hard buildings, and bunkers scattered throughout the camp. Military vehicles were lined up by company and bumper number in various motor pools. Troops wandered around to and from their posts. Various types of antennas jutted out at all angles from the tops of buildings and stood tall next to tents where needed. It was the same thing everyday, everywhere. To Ralf, it was all boring and monotonous. He'd seen it time and time again. It made him glad that he was always moving.
When their chopper touched down at the base where they were meeting their convoy, both Warriors were surprised to see that Whip had beaten them there. She stood, staring at them from a distance, waiting as they exited their helicopter. Greetings were exchanged and the mission was laid out. Ralf listened sleepily. His biological clock had been jerked around a lot recently, and it didn't help that he spent most of his past couple days sleeping during movement. He trotted along after Clark and Whip. He was tired, but at least there'd be no waiting around for his convoy.
The walk to the convoy was long even though they were moving fairly fast. An awkward silence had settled in between the three Ikari Warriors. They had walked a good way before Clark finally spoke up.
"Muchiko, how's life been treating you?" he asked quietly.
Whip continued walking briskly. Her response was curt, "Now isn't the time for small talk, Steel."
"Humph, I was just trying to lighten the mood. I don't want to be here as much as you don't, but would you rather be hunting down Kyo clones and raiding secret NESTS laboratories?"
Whip quickly changed the subject, "Heidern briefed me on the current situation. We've been tasked to locate and capture Rolento alive. Anyone that gets in the way must be eliminated. We have his location; we just need to get there."
Ralf silently observed Clark and Whip's exchange. She was a tough nut to crack and NESTS operations were a touchy subject for her. He knew Heidern probably grilled her on that topic and she probably wasn't in the mood to talk about it now.
Clark swung his arms and stretched as he walked. He didn't seem phased by Whip's off-putting behavior, he simply picked up where she left off, "Yeah, that's the objective, but in asymmetrical warfare simple tasks become mountainous challenges." He pointed over the horizon, "We're practically surrounded by Rolento's forces. We may have a location now, but he's constantly on the move. To top it off, he knows the terrain better than we do; he's been at it longer. Rolento wants to create a 'utopia' and it's got something to do with this island. He's done a lot of work to get where he is today. What's more his allies"
Whip interrupted him, "Leona is tracking down Allen Junior at the moment; hopefully she'll be able to locate him. If the Peregrine Falcons can capture Allen it'll lead to the fall of the bulk of the guerrilla forces. Then we'll be able to deal exclusively with Rolento."
Ralf could tell Clark was feeling defeated. Whip was obviously in a sour mood today, nothing either of them could say was going to change that. It wasn't strange for her to be so terse, but it was certainly surprising considering that they hadn't been on a mission together in such a long time.
"There's still Doctrine Dark," Clark added, "He's considered one of the most dangerous threats. He plants IEDs around the supply routes and mobility corridors, and when he ambushes he rarely leaves anyone left alive." Clark lowered his voice, "Ralf and I know from personal experience how efficient Dark's troops can be in combat
I guess I should throw in my two cents, Ralf yawned loudly, "The only reason we escaped before was because we reacted so quickly to their assault and got outta there." He spat, "That bastard still trashed most of our equipment, though."
Whip didn't even look at Ralf when she spoke to him, "Now you have something to say, huh?"
Ralf was taken aback, "Huh?"
"You've been quiet ever since Heidern reprimanded you for your rude behavior during that meeting earlier." She picked up the pace as they neared their destination.
Ralf grinned, "Whatever, I was just speaking my mind. Marco's the ate up one, not me. I'm not taking the fall for his sorry behind."
Clark nodded in agreement, "Ralf's right, we're responsible for some parts of the operationnot all of them." He shook his head, "I don't know if I would have said it quite like Ralf did, but it had to be said."
"You can say what you want, what's done is done." Whip strode up to a line of HMMWVs and dropped her gear.
Must be her time of the month
Ralf disregarded Whip and shouted over the noise of the running engines to the soldiers gathered around, "I guess this is our ride to FOB Warrior to meet with Colonel Guile!?"
One of the soldiers, another lieutenant, approached Ralf, "You guys are the Ikari Warriors, right? Name's Lieutenant Cronkite, I'm the convoy commander."
Clark and Whip saluted, but Ralf didn't have time for formalities. He indicated his and his colleagues gear piled up next to the vehicles, "Can you get some of your guys to help us move this crap so we can get going? I walked a long way and all I wanna do is sit down for a while."
" Cronkite looked around, "I'll see what I can do for you all."
Ralf rolled his eyes, "Yeah. Do that. And hurry up, we got places to be!"
Clark doffed his cap at the officer, "No rush, sir, we can move our own stuff." He elbowed Ralf hard in the side, "Don't mind him, he's just tired"
Whip chimed in, "And loud."
Ralf shoved Clark away and leered at Whip, "Let's just go!"
The lieutenant ran off to grab some help while the Warriors waited to see which vehicles they'd be riding in. Before long the soldiers accompanying them helped the three Ikaris load up into separate vehicles. After that the convoy brief was completed and they prepared to move out to Forward Operating Base Warrior for their meeting with Guile. The mission was soon to be underway and the nature of it would be revealed once they reached their final destination.
Ralf was annoyed by all the pit stops and constant shuffling around, but he knew he only had to endure it a little longer. Once they were done with Guile he'd be back in the wilderness into battle in no time. He could hardly wait.
"Have a safe trip!" Clark rendered a mock salute to Ralf as he entered his designated vehicle.
Ralf returned the gesture limply, "Yeah, you too." He looked around for Whip, but couldn't find her, Probably already inside
What's with her? She's been acting weird. He entered his vehicle, shut his door and fastened himself in.
He knew Whip was always into something or another and it was usually something he didn't need to know about. Dealing with NESTS must have been taxing business and after 1999 she was the go-to woman for any case involving the organization. Even with Ikari forces allocating countless resources going into cleaning up NESTS remains, there were still clones, new threats, and labs cropping up with each sweep. Now, all of a sudden, she was forced to accept this mission.
Ralf pushed thoughts on that subject aside in favor of the task at hand. He felt sorry for her, but at the same he didn't. She knew how the Ikari Warriors worked; acting cold and indifferent wasn't going to win her any favors from him. The only thing that was important now was capturing Rolento and thwarting his plans.
The Ikari Files #4: In Route
The convoy coursed its way through the unimproved, twisting jungle roads at a moderate pace. At first Ralf had a difficult time trying to get comfortable during the bumpy ride, but the warmth of the summer sun combined with cool breeze from the HMMWV air conditioning lulled him into a drowsy, dreamlike trance. The tropical foliage streaked by and blended together forming a hypnotic green blur. The sharp juts and bumps became akin to gentle waves under a slow moving vessel. The humidity outside was thick and suffocating, but Ralf couldn't tell while sitting inside the environmentally controlled troop transport vehicle. The canopy shaded most of the harsh rays of the noontide sun from the road creating a pleasant half-light for the convoy to navigate through. The silencing aura of sleep muted the rumble of tires against the rocks and dirt. Ralf tilted back and closed his eyes.
Just as he began to pass over into the realm of dreams his radio crackled loudly, "Ralf!"
"What'shuh?" Ralf snapped out of his daze, Damn it! What now? He fumbled around for his radio.
The voice over the radio became louder and more grating, "RALF! Do you copy!? Answer your radio, over!"
He instantly recognized the voice, Figures
She's awfully pissy today. He plugged in his earpiece as he keyed the mic on the handset, "What's goin' on, Muchiko?"
There was a long pause before Whip replied, "Major General Nash just put out a SITREP, over."
" Ralf was annoyed; he didn't like being woken up, "
You wanna elaborate on that?"
"The UAS operators spotted what appeared to be enemy forces on the western side of FOB Warrior, breakThey think it was Allen Junior and his men laying down explosives on one of the main roads leading to the FOB, over."
Ralf sighed, "And are we on that road?"
Ralf spoke over her, "Then who cares?"
Whip began to sound more agitated, "That's not all, over."
"Then get on with it!" Ralf pleaded, "And cut the radio etiquette crap, will ya? No one's on this net but us."
Nothing was said for a moment. Ralf chuckled, Whip was either fed up with him or she was trying to get all her facts together before answering. He guessed the former.
She continued, "Allen's forces were sighted a while back, he's moved since then, breakIt's speculated that he knows the Ikari forces are on the ground and on the move, over."
She never let's up, huh? He considered her comment, but remained apathetic, "And? Of course they know we're here, Dark's men attacked me and Clark remember? It's not like they wouldn't have passed along the info to Allen and Rolento. What's the big deal?"
There was a long silence. Ralf listened intently for a response, but to no avail, Something's up
Clark keyed in and spoke in a low voice, "It's bad, Ralf
Ah, crap. Ralf hated when people beat around the bush, "Well, spit it out! What's the big deal?"
Clark spoke softly over the radio, "Leona's section got ambushed. All comms from them went down shortly after initial distress calls
They think she might have been captured."
"WHAT?" The news hit Ralf like the main gun of a tank, "WHY WASN'T I INFORMED FIRST!?"
"Whip's been trying to contact you for the past half hour, Ralf," Clark answered, "you must have been asleep."
Ralf would not be pacified, "YOU SHOULD HAVE TRIED HARDER, DAMN IT!" He punched the window, fury rose within him.
The HMMWV rolled to a stop alongside the road. Surprised and infuriated, Ralf shook the passenger seat in front of him, "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? WHY ARE WE STOPPING?"
The vehicle track commander answered fearfully, "Um, sir, it'swe"
Whip cut in over the radio, "We have to stop here or risk being captured and possibly killed. Rolento has already started mortaring the FOB and Doctrine Dark's forces are attacking directly, over."
Ralf released the TC's seat and jumped out of the vehicle. He clenched his radio so hard that the plastic started to creak and bend in his grip.
The whole convoy stopped and soldiers began to egress their vehicles to conduct 5 and 25 meter reconnaissance. Clark and Whip exited their respective transport and hurried towards Ralf.
Ralf pointed at Whip, "EXPLAIN WHAT'S GOING ON RIGHT NOW!"
Clark stepped between the two and began to speak, but was pushed aside by Whip. She strode forward and retorted coolly, "The coalition forces have deemed us too valuable to lose in a firefight. With that in mind they've decided to halt our convoy until further notice."
"BULLSHIT!" Ralf spiked his radio, "GAH! HOW LONG DID IT TAKE THIS NEWS TO GET TO US?"
"Ralf, you're making a scene." Clark motioned towards the soldiers around the convoy, "Calm down, you don't want to worry the troops, do you? Remember what Heidern said about military bearing."
Don't patronize me you son of a Ralf took in a deep breath and quieted down, "Alright
Explain the situation to me." He sneered at Whip, "And stow the bad attitude while you're at it."
Whip didn't look the least bit threatened, "I've already explained the situation to you, sir. There's nothing else to make clear."
Clark, probably sensing imminent meltdown, intervened, "Listen, Ralf, I wanted to know why it took so long to get that info as well, but I didn't flip out. It's no one's fault here, so stop getting so wound up over it. There's no need to attack each other."
Ralf's anger was visible: he clenched and unclenched his fist, his breathing was labored, and his shoulders shook with rage. He stared through bloodshot eyes down at the broken radio parts strewn at his feet. He knew sending Leona out alone was a bad idea.
A lone private approached Ralf from behind and informed him of the current situation, "Sir! Lieutenant Cronkite wanted me to let you know that we're herring boning the vehicles along the side of the road!"
" Ralf's voice shook, "Whatever." He waved the private away.
The soldier saluted and signaled his commander from a distance. The vehicles all began to peel off to opposite sides of the road.
"You okay, man?" Clark approached Ralf cautiously.
" He gritted his teeth, "It's gotta be S.P.A.R.R.O.W. They dropped the ball before and now they're at it again! We should have gotten this info as soon as it came out!"
Clark shook his head, "Let's not start laying the blame on PF intelligence now. We've got other things to worry about. Besides, what would you have done had you heard sooner anyway? We'd be in the same place we are right now."
Whip pulled out her Desert Eagle and loaded it, "Clark's right, Ralf. Having a temper tantrum isn't going to save Leona or move this convoy forward."
"You!" Ralf pointed a trembling finger at Whip.
Clark rubbed his forehead tiredly, "That's not what I said, Muchiko
" He grabbed Ralf by the arm and shoulder and jerked him aside, "We'd better get off the road and lay low for a while."
Ralf ripped his arm away and shouted, "Now wait a second! I'm not going to stand here and be insulted by some"
A loud explosion rang out from the ahead of the convoy. The area became a flurry of activity as soldiers ran to and fro shouting movement orders. Before the Ikari Warriors had a chance to take cover several more explosions sounded, this time nearer and nearer to the main body of the unit. Soldiers frantically attempted to escape their vehicles.
Ralf identified the threat immediately and dashed off the road into the dense undergrowth. He shouted behind him, "DAISY CHAIN! EVERYONE GET OFF THE ROAD!"
The Ikari Files #5: Pinned Down
Ralf's mind raced as he dodged behind a large nearby rock, Shit! Not again! Can't I go anywhere without getting shot at or blown up!? He stooped down, leaned his back up against the rock, and waited for the explosions to subside. After taking a moment to catch his breath he inspected the immediate vicinity. As far as he could tell, no one else was around. I hope Clark and Muchiko found someplace safe to hide 'til this crap blows over
He groaned, Probably shouldn't have destroyed my radio back there. Coulda used it to contact them
Ralf kicked the ground angrily, Whip had a point. His outbursts never tended to accomplish anything aside from destroying equipment and getting him into trouble.
After several seconds more of violent blasts the attacks ceased. Ralf waited a few more minutes before he assumed it was all clear. Thankfully, the explosions never got any nearer to him. Despite this, Ralf knew the damage had to be bad. A good portion of the convoy had pushed ahead. There was no telling how many lives could have been lost in the attack, not to mention the amount of damaged equipment. Ralf edged his back further up the rock and peered over the edge. Soldiers were lying in the prone off to the side of the roads weapons at the ready. It was quiet enough for Ralf to hear the RTOs calling up SALT reports to their squad leaders. Ralf had to hand it to the Americans; they mobilized quickly and efficiently and were now preparing for a counter attack despite the sudden confusion and possible deterioration of the chain of command. They were far more dependable than the PF flunkies
He slumped back down and checked his pistol. If this ambush was at all like the last one, he knew they'd be attacked soon after the initial assault.
Without warning, Ralf heard a loud rustling in the bushes next to him. He readied his weapon and took aim. To his surprise, Clark came bursting out of the greenery waving his arms disarmingly while whispering in a shrill voice, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold your fire!"
Ralf lowered his pistol and let out a sigh of relief, "HolyClark! Try not sneaking up on me like that!"
Clark kept his voice low and snickered, "You need to learn to relax, man."
"Pshaw, whatever!" Ralf looked around worriedly, "What's the status ? Is Muchiko all right?"
"Yeah, we ran off and hid on the opposite side of the road. She's over there with some other soldiers."
"Good," Ralf lowered his voice as well, "but why so quiet, the enemy knows we're here right? Why's everyone acting so sneaky?"
Clark drew a line in the dirt, "It was a crushwire detonation. The lead vehicle in the convoy must have set it off. It's hard to catch stuff like that here in the jungle, ya know? Most of the routes are unimproved so it's easy to lay and hide wire. The soldiers said they've seen it a lot recently. The enemy TTP goes like this: the explosions go off and then Rolento's men sweep in with a scouting party to assess damages. This time we're going to try to get the drop on them!"
"Yeah, great!" Ralf paused and looked off towards where the explosions originated, "What about the convoy? Is everyone okay?"
Clark tipped his cap forward and shook his head, "Not good, most everyone's okay, but a bunch of drivers and TCs got caught in the explosion. I hear it's a mess up there. Equipment's totally trashed." He pointed at Ralf, "Cronkite is KIA so that means that you're going have to run the show."
" Ralf nodded solemnly. He gestured towards Clark's handset, "Let me borrow your radio."
Clark disconnected his earpiece and handed it to him, "Next time how about taking care of your own equipment?"
Ralf ignored him and keyed in, "Muchiko, you copy?"
"Roger, I copy," Whip's voice crackled over the radio, "Ralf?"
"Yeah, it's me. You near an American radio guy?"
"What's the story?"
"Hold one." Whip went off comms for a moment and came back minutes later, "The Americans have eyes on targets, breakEight scouts, moving due South at our twelve. They're about 250 meters away right now, but they're closing fast, breakTime was about a minute ago, over."
Comin' right down the road, huh? Doesn't seem too bright. Ralf chuckled, "Awfully ballsy of them. Weapons?"
Whip answered quickly, "Carbines. Uniforms consist of green helmets, green assault packs, green jackets and pants, and breakUm
Deep green boots."
Clark nearly burst out laughing, "Green boots? Heh! Sounds like Allen's boys!"
"Yeah, probably." Ralf exhaled noisily, Thank God it's not those Dark freaks
Suddenly realization dawned on Clark's face, "Wait! Ralf key it for me!" Clark leaned in closer to the radio, "If it's Allen's guys then Leona might be nearby!"
There was a brief pause before Whip answered, "Possibly."
Clark continued, "The report said that Allen was sighted west of the FOB and then moved. He probably ran into Leona's convoy on the way through. Rolento's men usually check up on the traps, right? So I figure why else would Allen's scouts be here if he wasn't nearby to give the order?"
"Thathold one" There was an even longer pause before Whip returned, "The Americans are prepared to move, Ralf. Shall we advance on the scouts or stay put and wait for them, over?"
Clark eyed Ralf, the full gravity of the situation showed in his grim expression.
Ralf thought for a moment and answered, "It'd be best to get the drop on 'em. Move your troops forward and take 'em out. We're going to move past the scouts and see if we can find out where the main force is. Capture one of their guys and try to find out if Leona is nearby!"
"Wilco, out." Whip went off comms.
Ralf stood up and looked around, he could see a team of American soldiers moving towards his position. They were all private first class and below. He swallowed, Most of the guys with rank were probably TCs. These guys are most likely the gunners and crews. He beckoned them and crouched back down.
One of the soldiers, a private, knelt down to Ralf's level and saluted, "Sir, Private First Class Lavaine." He indicated the other soldiers, "We've just been tasked to assist you!"
Ralf nodded, "Good, then let's rock. Whip's group is going to push forward and engage the scouts; we're going to stay under concealment and move along the side of the road past the enemy scouts' position. Half of you guys move with Clark, I'll take the other half. We'll bound all the way through!"
Clark sighted his rifle at the road, "Watch the road, they'll probably be coming straight down it. We're just going to sneak past and do some scouting of our own."
The soldiers nodded enthusiastically, "Hooah!"
The group formed up and began its trek through the undergrowth to their objective. Ralf forged ahead of them, he felt more determined than ever. He'd save Leona if it was the last thing he did.