I wrote this in like… twenty minutes or so while my Internet was down. It’s a masterpiece I swear. The squad depicted here was my final squad in the game.
“…We’ve read Big Sky’s report and we have absolutely no idea what he said and the news stories surrounding the incident make no sense, either,” Bradford rubbed his temples, preparing for the pain he knew was in his future. “So we thought the best thing would be to ask Strike One what happened… Starting with you, Torres. Can you tell us what happened from beginning to end?”
“What did Big Sky say?” Torres crossed his arms, eyes on Takashi and Bradford. “You have no need to ask me if he already gave his report.”
“Big Sky did nothing but scream about cannibals and velociraptors and cannibal velociraptors in his report,” Takashi said with the voice of a woman who just wanted to leave the planet so she didn’t have to deal with any more nonsense. “And before you ask, the local newspapers and sites think this was some kind of LARP gone wrong. Preferable that may be, it doesn’t help us.”
“Fine, I will tell you exactly what happened,” Torres rolled his eyes and rested his robotic arms on the table. “There were aliens trying to harm civilians. We stopped them. End of report. That is it. You need to know nothing else.”
“From our understanding, you left your squad early on,” Bradford held his hand up when Torres tried to leave the room. “Care to explain why?”
“Ah… A little girl asked me to save her kitten.”
“…You left your squad to fight a horde of Chryssalids so you could save a cat?”
“You try saying no to an angel descended from Heaven.”
“It’s very easy, actually,” Takashi deadpanned. “You grab the kid and you hide them in a trash can. And then forget about them.”
“The kitten was up in a tree, the only place you will ever find a lost kitten,” Torres continued while giving Takashi a look of utter disgust to join with Bradford’s look of horror. “I retrieved the kitten, and found a Cyberdisc near the tree. I pulled the tree out of the ground and used it to kill the Cyberdisc. The little girl hugged the kitten and left. And then the mission was over.”
Bradford and Takashi looked less than convinced.
Takashi and Bradford, both unable to speak a word of Russian, sat in stunned silence as Romanoff gave an in-depth account of the mission in Russian, complete with sound effects. She waved her hands around dramatically to recreate what they assumed were crucial parts of her story, a serious look on her face.
“…And that is it,” Romanoff finished, crossing her arms and nodding. “Am I free to go now?”
“…Did you say that you saw a unicorn?” Takashi blinked, her left eye twitching. “I’ll be honest, I have no idea what you said, but I swear I heard you mention a unicorn…”
“Yes, a unicorn, I heard it too,” Bradford dared to join Takashi’s side. “Why would you mention that?”
Romanoff’s entire body shook, looking like a volcano ready to erupt. “Unicron, you fools! UNICRON! I said nothing about unicorns! I said Unicron, lord of all evil and devourer of planets! UNICRON!”
Romanoff slammed her fists down on the table, breaking it in half.
“…That’s coming out of your paycheck,” Takashi growled, picking up a stack of papers from the floor.
“I do not understand,” Romanoff leaned her head to the side. “Not once have I ever received a paycheck during my time within this organization.”
“Well, now you know why. Dismissed.”
Takashi and Bradford wanted the earth to just swallow them up.
Aran was spending her time duct-taping the table back together instead of answering their questions, and whenever she did answer a question, all she told them was “John Madden,” and that was the end of that.
“Aran, if we could have your attention, please…” Bradford resisted the urge to grit his teeth. He could tell Takashi had already reached her boiling point and knew he needed to be the voice of reason and calm when the Commander just wanted to be the voice of rage and insult.
“What do you want?” Aran, miraculously, didn’t respond with ‘John Madden’ and for that, the two were grateful. “Wait, where am I?”
“Tell us what happened, Aran,” Takashi snarled, clenching her fists as if a decorated soldier could feel threatened by a scrawny woman such as herself. “Tell us or so help me, I will ban you from those infernal cookies you love so much.”
“A Thin Man beat me at a game of basketball.”
Takashi’s rage dropped like an anvil, giving way to confusion. “…What?”
Aran narrowed her eyes. “A Thin Man beat me at a game of basketball.”
Takashi rolled hers instead. “And your weird dreams are relevant to this… how?”
Then Aran exploded. “THAT WASN’T A DREAM! THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED YOU JERK!”
She flipped the table, crushing Takashi and Bradford under it, and stormed out of the room.
“Listen, I have committed no wrongdoing,” the fact that Zhang opened his explanation with that already told Takashi and Bradford everything they needed to know. Nonetheless, they let him continue. “I did what I could do to minimize civilian casualties, to great success might I add, but I-“
“You used the Blaster Launcher on a building with faulty wiring and a gas leak,” Bradford decided to stop him. “It went up in flames. What if there were people in there, hm? What then?”
“That building needed to be condemned. I did that town a favour.”
“But what if there were-“
“There were not. There were only Zuul.”
Before Bradford or Takashi could say anything more, Zhang pulled a big pile of paperwork out of thin air. “Here are all the issues with that building. As I was saying-“
Bradford tried to interrupt him. “Zhang…”
Zhang was having none of it. “You make note of the wiring and the gas leak, but did you see how uneven the bricks were? How the floors and ceilings were falling apart? How the pipes were about to burst? I documented all of it.”
Zhang lifted the mega-huge pile and dropped it on the table, snapping the table in two.
“Dismissed,” Takashi growled.
The silence was stifling, but no one dared to say a word. Takashi and Bradford alternated between looking at each other and looking at Annette, trying to think of something to say. Annette occupied herself by looking around the room warily, as if waiting for a chance to escape.
Finally, Bradford decided to end the silence. He took a deep breath, doing his best to calm himself, “Durand-“
“There was a bear,” Annette blurted out, wrapping her arms around herself. “A bear riding a Sectopod. Or maybe it was a Sectopod riding a bear. The point is, there were bears. Thousands of them. Ninja bears. Yes, they were ninjas.”
Annette paused, and then she froze with a dreadful realization.
“…There’s a duck watching us, isn’t there?”
Miyazaki stared at Takashi and Bradford.
Takashi and Bradford stared back.
Miyazaki’s mouth morphed into a devious smile.
“Don’t you dare…” Bradford warned.
A glint of mischief appeared in Miyazaki’s eyes.
“I will have you kicked out of here,” Takashi seethed.
Miyazaki didn’t care. She opened her mouth and screeched at the top of her lungs, “THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA HE WAS LOOKING FOR A SOUL TO STEAL HE WAS IN A BIND ‘CAUSE HE WAS WAY BEHIND AND HE WAS WILLIN’ TO MAKE A DEAL-“
Bradford slammed his face into the desk, splitting the table in half yet again.
Takashi opted to scream.