Tucker was sitting on the roof, laying in the sun, bored out of his brains. He was not brave enough to go downstairs and hang out with Caboose, nor was he about to bother the overtired ex freelancer Wash.
Washington had been over tired lately due to Private Caboose keeping him up at night. Bow chicka bow wow. The said private had been missing that asshole Church since he had gone off with ex freelancer Carolina. Caboose's constant whining and wailing and non stop crying out in his sleep had driven Wash to almost breaking point. Poor Washington had more patience with him than anyone before, but this was just the tip of the iceberg. Tucker just got up and left when the baby had started crying, walked right over to the red base and went down into the back of their warthog, sleeping like an infant. It had been going on for weeks now. Time to accept that he was gone. Sure he'd come back but not any time soon... He hoped. He rolled over so the sun wasn't piercing through his visor and burning his eyes.
They had been on good terms lately with the Reds but not good enough to go over during the day while they were training or building something. Better to go over at night, in the afternoon, evening or at breakfast. Any time they weren't working. He was enjoying his piece up until Wash came out onto the roof with him.
"What do you want Wash?"
"The pink guy from red base heard about our trouble with Caboose and wanted to help, then the Grif invited us over for a beer."
"yeah, I wouldn't trust Dounut's help"
Wash shivered. "I learned my lesson the first time."
Not 3 hours later, when the evening into just setting in Caboose, Tucker and Wash made their way over to Red base; one of the very few times they could without getting shot at. Simmons welcomed them in and the went into the base's rec room where Sarge and Grif were sitting at opposite ends of the couch exchanging sarcastic remarks. From the fridge two beers were handed to the two soldiers and an orange juice to Caboose. Donut took Private Caboose to the side and sat him down at the table attempting to engage him in art therapy. Really Caboose was just happy with orange juice and crayons. And everyone was happy that he wasn't accidentally burning down either of their bases.
New Hampshire crawled stealthily from a rock behind Red base across the ground and in through the said base's door. She skulked through the corridor and took the safety off her pistol, why it had been on until now was simply because she had always been afraid of shooting herself in the face while crawling across the ground, after she saw an armature agent do the same thing years ago. Although it had been funny at the time later that night she had been filled with nightmares. Opening a door at random she bust not what appeared to be a rec room and she nearly dropped her gun at the sight. Both Red team and Blue team sitting together, drinking beer and drawing pictures.
"Huh?!" she said aloud. She was more confused then when Texas had tried to convince her that South was really nice person if you got to know her. Although she could happily say that the older agent had not denied that the violet armored one was a bitch.
Both sets of soldiers snapped their heads in the direction of the doorway where the green armored ex freelancer stood. Sarge put down his beer and picked up his shotgun that he had earlier placed next to the red couch he had been grudgingly sharing with Grif. He cocked his weapon and pointed it the green one.
"Hey, who are you?" Asked Grif.
"Newbie? Is that you?"
"Wash?" the ever confused pine green colored girl asked.
"It sure is kid."
"Wash! So glad to see you! Why are you wearing blue armor? And why are you all sitting together drinking beer when you're supposed to be fighting?"
"Well little lady, you probably didn't know this but the red and blue teams were never really at war, it was training set up for the freelancer army courtesy of command." explained Sarge.
"Yeah, yeah I know all about the conspiracy they set up for Project Freelancer. You guys were basically cannon fodder. I just didn't know that you guys knew. And don't patronize me you filthy red."
"Hey!" Donut, Simmons and Sarge chorused as Grif sat there chuckling at the insult of his superior.
"Who are you calling a filthy red you dirty... er green?" Sarge grumbled in his raspy southern accent.
"The old man in ugly red armor that sticks out like a sore thumb." Just as the Sargent was about to pump shells into the young soldier Wash gave out some nervous laughter and changed the subject.
"So what brings you here Newbie?"
"I was looking for you Wash. All the freelancers disappeared while I was off on a mission. Some are in prison for some reason and the others I can't find anywhere. The Director sent me off on some godforsaken mission in the middle of nowhere for years, I come back and all my friends and everything I know is gone."
Wash couldn't help but sigh. "Project Freelancer was shut down because of the crimes it was committing. Not long after you left actually. Now before I tell you any more, I want to ask you a few questions."
"Ask away weirdo." New Hampshire replied, entering the room further.
"Alright, but before you do I want you to hand over your weapons to Grif and Simmons over there." A guy dressed in maroon and grey stood up from an armchair and the one next to the Sargent followed suit, only slower.
"What's with you?" New Hampshire asked her old friend who she assumed was coming down from an acid trip. She put the safety back on her gun and slipped it into it's holster. She unclipped the holster from her waist and handed the knife stuffed belt over to the fat one.
"All of them." Wash prodded.
Newbie rolled her eyes and pulled various other weapons for countless other places on her anatomy. "We good now?" She said somewhat annoyed.
"Not quite. Where exactly have you been all this time?" He eyed her suspiciously from under his helmet.
"I spent the better part of a year in the desert, loosing contact with the ship 6 months in. After that I left trying to find out why I'd been abandoned in a pile of sand! Where have I been?! Where were you!? Why are you hiding out in the middle of nowhere with some sim troopers?!" She screamed. She certainly sounded like the New Hampshire he knew.
"I was in charge of recovering all AIs and armor enhancements. Recovery One. Why didn't you go back to the ship when you first lost contact?" He replied.
"How exactly was I supposed to get back to a ship whose last known co ordinates are over 6 months out of date? Without contact with said ship. It's taken me this long to even find you and that was an accident. I was only here to loot." She responded.
"Loot?" Washington asked, surprised.
"So there were these mercenaries looking for a crew. I was going to join them but I needed a passage fee. It was more of an insurance policy, making sure everyone has something to loose and you're less likely to skip out on them. I was going to clean out the place and make a little cash." She explained reluctantly.
"You were going to rob us?" A guy in pink booty shorts asked, surprised.
"Wait, what do you mean clean out?" The maroon one she assumed was Simmons asked.
"She means kill you. All of you." Wash confirmed.
"Well I'm not going to now if that means anything." She said sheepishly.
"It doesn't. And the New Hampshire I knew wouldn't have made a move like that. She'd have found another way." Wash folded his arms.
"Always did have me on a pedestal David." Newbie sighed, pulling off her helmet. "But I assure you, times have changed. Desperate times call for desperate measures."
"It is you." He gasped looking at her sun kissed but worn face. Her blonde hair spilling over her armored shoulders.
"Who'd you think it was dumbass?" She laughed. "Only one New Hampshire."
"They said you were dead. You didn't have any enhancements or an AI so I never got the recovery request. We kept the channels open for 6 months but we never heard from you. We had a funeral and everything."
"Take it it wasn't an open casket, you know, seeing as there was no body. What'd you tell North, huh? He'd have never believed anything he couldn't see with his own eyes."
"About that..." He rubbed his neck.
"What happened?" She yelled, angry and confused.
"Well all surviving agents were sent to prison. And.."
"All surviving agents? What does that mean?" She stormed closed.
"Washington the new mean lady is scaring me." A large blonde guy next to the guy in booty shorts butted into the conversation.
"Not now Caboose." Wash called behind him. "Project freelancer as it turned out, we weren't the good guys after all. The counselor, and anybody left alive went to prison. But we suffered many casualties before hand. Church was the Alpha, not a myth I know, Tex was Beta they both died. She came from Alison, the Director's dead girlfriend. He's dead too. Killed himself. North, South, York they're all dead too. Everyone from the original team is. Well save for me and Carolina, you too now."
"And they're all definitely dead? You're 100% sure and they're not going to pop up somewhere like I did? Cause you know they're all better at hiding than me. They could still be alive. Maybe they made it back, did you think about that?" Her voice sounded more and more desperate the more she spoke.
"I know for sure. Tex and the Alpha were deleted. All that's left of Church is Epsilon. I detonated York's armor myself and South and North died within a short time of each other. Wyoming was killed first by Tucker, then Grif ploughed through a pile of him with the red team's warthog and then Sarge shot them with his shortgun. Simmons took some out from the gunner's position and lastly Texas took him out."
Her breathing was erratic. And she fell to her knees. "I take back what I said about being a badass." Tears fell down her face and Wash regretted the time he wasted confirming it was her. Of course it was her.
Wash wrapped his unarmored arms around her and rubbed her back sympathetically. She put her head on his shoulder while she sobbed. Washington rested one of his arms around her waist to support her. With his other hand he stroked her head and hair trying to comfort her and calm her down. "Oh Wash, I've lost everyone."
"I know, I know. And it's not fair, but hey," he said. "There's a bright side in this." She looked up at him and it seemed like a century since the last time he was able to see her shining blue eyes. Only this time they were shimmering with sorrow and filled with salty tears. "You haven't lost everyone yet. I mean, sure, Carolina ran off somewhere with Epsilon but they'll come back. And if it counts for anything, I'm still here."
"You're right Wash, I still have you and Carolina. Things could be worse right? You live at blue base yeah?"
"Great, I'm going to head over there and have a shower." She put on the best grin she could muster after she wiped away her eye's leakage. She pulled away from his warm and comforting arms and walked over to the rec room's door.
"What was all that about?" Grif wondered from his spot next to Sarge.
"Uh yeah, who the fuck was that?" Asked Simmons who had been sitting quietly at the counter near the fridge with the pile of weapons he'd liberated from New Hampshire.
"That, was Agent New Hampshire a freelancer from back in the day, she started a while after the original recruitment back on earth. Besides Tex, North, South, York, Wyoming, Carolina, Maine, CT and myself she was one of the most known agents in the biz, one of the best out of all of us. We all knew her, she was like a younger sister to all of us, everyone except South loved her. And she loved us all, she looked up to us, we were what she wanted to be." Wash was beaming with pride. Pride in his old friend.
"So it looks like, we've to ourselves another member of the blue team to fight." Sarge said schemingly, rubbing his hands together while grinning.
"Hey, why do the blues get her? If she's a freelancer wouldn't she be better on our team?"
"Excellent point Simmons, but the blues are already getting their asses kicked by our superiority and she's a dirty green. Almost a dirty blue." Sarge shook his fist grudgingly.
"Hey, do you guys hear a muffled sobbing noise?" Tucker questioned.
"Grif! Go check it out!" Ordered Sarge.
"Uh, Grif isn't really the sensitive type, it doesn't seem like the best idea to send him out there."
"Simmons, what in Sam hell are you talking about?"
"Well sir, I think what we hear could be New Hampshire and if it is, she sounds like she's crying and I don't think we should send Grif out there."
"Good point Simmons, you get out there."
"Simmons are you arguing with a superior officer?"
"Shut it Grif."
New Hampshire shut the door behind her and slid down the wall next to it. With her helmet sitting behind her she sat on the base's cold floor hugging her knees sobbing some more. She could hear the guys inside's muffled voices but ignored them totally. The door beside her slipped open and pair of legs stood in front of her. The one named Simmons sat down on the floor next to her.
"You know, for someone who's supposed to hate South, you're not doing a very good job. I mean if you hate her so much, then why are you crying about her dying? Is it because you weren't the one to kill her?"
New Hampshire wiped her eyes in an attempt to dry them and sniffed. "From the start I always had a good connection with North, he was the first person to accept me, to like me, to make me feel like I fitted in and he even recommended me to the Director when I was first rejected for the freelancer program. He was always so kind and so nurturing even when he himself was in a bad patch he was always there. And the reason I hate South is because North cared so much for his sister. He would do anything for her and she just used that to he own selfish advantage. I knew one day that because of her North would die. And this just confirms it. I don't know how it happened but I know she had something to do with it. I just know it. Wretched bitch." She spat the last part.
"You want me to tell you the story of how she died?" Simmons asked sympathetically.
"Yeah. Could you?"
"Of course. This is what I heard from the Wash, I wasn't there at the time though. Back when Wash was recovering AI's from deceased agents he found South and North. North was already dead and South said that he was like that when she got there. Actually she put him in the position to be killed. Yes, it was her fault he died. Then the Meta caught up to them so she shot Wash in the back and ran off. Later Wash saved her from the Meta but in the end he had to kill her. So he shot her."
"Wah uh? Weren't you just crying about her a minute ago?"
"Yeah, I resented her for the ways she was using her brother, but not only did she kill him she shot Wash so she can go fuck herself. I don't give a rats ass what happened to her, I'm just glad Wash got to kill her for what she did to him. Now I think will go for that shower. See ya later Simmons" she said getting up and putting her helmet back on then walking off to blue base.
Simmons walked back into the rec room. He had his head down and was severally confused.
"Hey Simmons, you alright?" Grif asked.
"Yeah, girls just confuse me." He replied half heartedly.
"I'll drink to that." Tucker said raising his beer.
"Here, here." Agreed Sarge also lifting his bottle.
"You think she'll be okay?" Wash asked finishing his beer and putting on the counter.
Tucker closed the fridge door and opened two beers. "I'm sure she'll be fine, now get this down you." He slid the bottle across the counter and over to the stool Agent Washington was sitting on next to the equally worried Simmons.
"Chug! Chug! Chug!" The boy's chorused as Simmons guzzled down a pint of beer and put the empty glass on his head just as Tucker, Grif and Sarge had already done.
"Okay Wash! Your turn!" cheered Donut.
"Oh no I really shouldn't" he said waving his hands in the air.
"Oh yes you should" Tucker told him and poured a beer into a pint glass and thrust it into Wash's face. He took the glass and began to skull it down. "CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! WHOOOOOOOOO!"
"At a boy Wash."
Newbie stepped out of the shower and got dressed into fresh clean civvies. She pulled on a pair of dark denim jeans after her underwear and before pulling on a bullet proof vest. After she pulled on a simple black tank top and a thin baby blue and plaid short sleeved shirt. Same one she'd stolen from York years ago. She unwrapped the towel from around her head and gave her hair a quick brush before grabbing a look in the mirror. It'd been a while since she'd been out of her armor and boy did it feel different.
She sighed, the bullet proof vest she was wearing was one of her smaller older ones, also the only one that was still clean as it had been a while since she had done the washing. Her smaller older vest did nothing but emphasize her DDs almost making them pop out of her shirt.
She sighed again. New Hampshire picked up all the various pieces of her green armor and looked at them, her armor had faded a great deal, it had gone from it's original phthalo green to a simple teal or pine green. They were also covered in a great deal of dirt and dust.
For the third time in five minutes Newbie sighed, she got out a sponge from under the sink in the blue's base's kitchen and some soapy water scrubbing her uniform clean. She put a towel over the bench and then took her armor pieces out from the sink and down atop of the towel. She pulled on some shoes and went back to Red base. She wasn't going to sit around on her own till the boys got back, who'd most likely be drunk. And if they were getting splattered she'd be damned if she wasn't there to join them.
"Why are none of you wearing pants?" New Hampshire asked as she stood a near five feet away from the bench where the 5 drinkers had relocated themselves to. Sarge and Simmons were stripped down to their boxers, Girf in boxers and a grey t-shirt and Washington in his armored bottoms but no shirt. Tucker was on the other side of the bench and she didn't want to know if he was wearing anything or not. Caboose was curled up in a ball without his helmet on the couch and Donut was probably back in the shack with that weird purple guy.
"Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey Hampshire chick. You should join us!" A drunken Tucker slurred.
"Yeah! Whooooooo!" Hooted Sarge.
"We're playing Flip, Sip or Strip. You can join us if you want to." The surprisingly somewhat sober Grif explained.
"Hey, isn't that York's?" Wash spoke thickly, his words pushed together and his breath smelled of heavily alcohol. "How come you never wear any of my clothes?"
"You never let me in your room Wash."
"Woo woo wooh!" Tucker whooted while banging his fist on the counter.
"Okay Grif I will join you."
"Great, it's Sarge's turn right now, grab a beer and jump in the circle when and wherever you want."
Hampshire walked over to the fridge and went to grab a beer just as Sarge guessed wrong again couldn't take another drink so he could only choose the strip option.
"oooooh Sarge looses his boxers."
New Hampshire gave a small squeak before yelling a "No!" And sticking her head inside the fridge. She sculled a full beer bottle before she had enough courage to turn around. She did not like what she saw and immediately opened another beer. She walked over to drunk Washington and took a swig of her beer. Simmons was able to take a drink and Washington too, her first shot she had York's blue shirt off and the rest of the night was a blur.