L Squad Vignettes: Episode Two: The Storm

“Your mission is to keep the roads clear and people safe during this storm,” said Captain Grek. “Do you remember what roads are?”

“Yes, sir,” said Hitch.

“Good. Get out there and perform like a squad,” said Captain Grek.

As soon as they were out of Grekquarters, Hitch leaned confidentially over to Abby and whispered, “What are roads, again?”

Abby slapped her forehead with her palm and shook her head.

A short while later, the squad joined a few other squads in their division. They were spread out along a 15 kilometer stretch of Northern California. Some squads were using their ships’ tractor beams to lift cars over areas with washed out bridges. Others were helping to clean up accidents, debris, and fallen trees.

It didn’t take long for Hitch’s squad to get in the way. An old-fashioned game of war-of-tug broke out over a car. Hitch was keeping score. He wanted his squad to lift the most vehicles over a river.

Captain Grek hailed the R.A.S. MacGuffin. “Hitch, what are you doing? You are supposed to be helping not competing.”

“We’re competitively helping,” said Hitch.

“I need you to move up to the Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville area,” said Captain Grek. “Just help, don’t add to the chaos.”

“Help. Got it,” said Hitch.

Moments later, the R.A.S. MacGuffin had a red 2009 Toyota Prius in its tractor beam. As it was floating over Mad River, Hitch said, “That’s 17.”

“We’re not supposed to be keeping score,” Abby said.

“We have to be the best squad,” said Hitch. “If we’re not careful we’ll end up being the L Squad. Nobody wants to be the L Squad.”

“What’s wrong with being the L Squad?” asked Charlie.

“It’s the lowest ranked squad,” said Kip.

“I’m royalty,” said Charlie. “I am never the lowest ranked.”

“You will be if we can’t work together as a squad,” said Abby, “and not do foolish things like fight over who gets to save whom.”

“It’s not foolish,” said Hitch. “It’s how we’re going to prove we’re the best.”

“If we perform like the best squad, we will be, and Captain Grek will notice.”

“Saving the most people…”

“This is going in circles and getting us nowhere,” Charlie interrupted.

“Yeah,” said Kip. “While you two were arguing a car skid into the river and floated under where those trees have fallen.”

“We can’t get at them with the Mac,” George added. “If we remove the trees the car will break free and float farther down the river or just sink.”

“Put us down over there, Georgie,” said Hitch. “We’ll get them out by hand.”

“It’s going to be dangerous out there,” Abby warned.

“That’s why we need to be out there,” said Hitch.

“You know it’s raining, right?” said Charlie. “Rain works horrors with my fur.”

No one acknowledged Charlie’s vain vain protest. Yeah, ‘vain’ is there twice. Each appearance carries a different meaning. That’s the beauty of wordplay and homonyms.

While George was landing, everyone strapped on their jetpacks. George’s four arms allowed him to put on his jetpack while landing the R.A.S. MacGuffin. As soon as they touched land, Hitch had the ramp down and was leading his squad out into the storm.

They flew their jetpacks over to the dull brown 1976 Pinto station wagon. It was stuck in branches from fallen trees and starting to sink. When they got to the car, they saw the woman who was driving was unconscious, and there was a crying baby in the backseat.

“There’s some kind of creature in the back,” said Hitch.

“It looks like it’s preparing to attack,” said George.

“I think that’s a baby,” said Charlie.

“Oh yeah,” said Hitch. “A miniature human.”

“Why is it going to attack the other human?” asked George.

“It’s crying,” said Charlie.

“Oh, I’ve heard of that,” said George.

“What do you mean you’ve heard of it?” asked Charlie.

“Sags don’t cry,” said George.

“Yortians do,” said Kip.

“I bet that’s comparable to this storm,” said Charlie.

“How are we going to save these people?” Abby asked.

“Everybody, grab on to the primitive Earth vehicle and jetpack it out of here,” said Hitch.

Everyone grabbed the primitive Earth vehicle and fired up their jetpacks. The car didn’t budge. In fact, George was the only one who could maintain his grip, mostly. His tail slipped, but all four of his hands held tight. The car continued to sink.

“Let’s smash the glass and pull them out,” said Kip.

“Good plan,” said Hitch. He raised his blaster and prepared to smash its butt into the windshield.

“Wait,” said Abby. “That is a good plan, but what if we use the blaster to cut the glass.”

“Better plan,” said Charlie.

“That is good,” said Hitch. He pointed his blaster at the windshield.

“Wait,” said Abby. “Once the glass is cut it’s going to allow more water into the car, which will make it sink faster.”

“Right,” said Kip. “We have to pull them out before it can sink.”

“All right,” said Hitch. “I’ll cut the glass. George, use your hands to grab the glass and pull it out of the vehicle. Abby, Charlie, and Kip, you guys pull out the big human. George, you reach into the back with your tail and pull out the little one.”

“All right,” said George, “but it looks vicious and angry.”

Everybody agreed to their role and got into position. Hitch cut away the windshield as quickly as he could. As soon as there was an opening for his hands, George grabbed the glass. When the cut was complete, he pulled it out and tossed it aside. Abby, Charlie, and Kip immediately reached in and grabbed the large human. George wrapped his tail around the seat containing the baby. All four of them tugged. The mother and baby stayed put.

“The safety belts,” said Kip.

Hitch blasted the buckle of the mother’s safety belt. The others tugged. It was wrapped around her. They tried to finesse her out of safety belt, but they weren’t collectively strong enough to pull her out while navigating her constraints. The front of the car dipped. Water started pouring in through the hole left by the windshield.

“She’s stuck,” said Charlie.

“So is this one,” said George.

“I can’t see where I need to blast the other safety belt,” said Hitch.

“The car’s dipping fast,” said Kip.

Hitch tossed his blaster aside, unbuckled his jetpack, threw it aside and climbed into the car. He untangled the driver’s safety belt. Abby, Charlie, and Kip held on tightly and flew back to land with the unconscious human dangling between them. Hitch crawled into the backseat and tried to unhook the baby. Unfortunately, only a human mother has any idea how to get a baby in or out of a car seat.

The car was quickly filling up with water. George, standing on the hood, was immersed up to his waist.

Kip yelled to Hitch to move. Hitch crawled up to the seat next to the baby’s car seat. Kip blasted the safety belt cutting the shoulder strap and lap strap. Hitch untangled the seat from the safety belt, and George pulled the baby, seat and all, out of the car.

George flew to land. Hitch crawled out of the backseat and pulled himself up to the roof. Abby flew back to the car, grabbed Hitch and flew back to land.

“Good job, squad,” said Hitch.

“Good teamwork,” said Abby.

“Yeah, now, let’s get these people back to the Mac and take them to a hospital,” said Hitch.

They looked over to the Mac to find a tree had fallen on it.

“Ohklay Buré,” said Hitch.

George ran over to the ship and gently caressed it. “Mac, are you all right? Mac, speak to me, buddy.”

George has gone officially bonkers,” said Charlie.

George, it’s a ship. It’s made from strong materials. It’s going to be fine,” said Abby.

“All we have to do is get that tree off it,” said Kip.

George pushed and pulled and huffed and puffed and grunted and collapsed. The others joined him. They all did the same.

“It’s too heavy,” said Kip.

“We have to call for help,” said Abby.

“No, we can do it,” said Hitch. “We just need a good plan. I’ll cut the tree with my blaster.”

“You threw your blaster in the river,” said Charlie.

“These people need to get to a hospital,” said Abby.

“That’s why we need to get this tree off the Mac,” said Hitch.

“That’s why we need to call for help,” said Abby.

“Then, another squad has to clean up our mess, again,” said Hitch. “We’ll never be the A Squad if other squads finish our missions.

“We’ll never be the A Squad if these people die because we can’t put away your pride and ask for help,” said Abby.

Abby called for help. The squad headed by Gremenski Fhart used their tractor beam to get the tree off the R.A.S. MacGuffin while the squad led by Batimus took the humans to the hospital. Batimus’s squad got credit for saving the humans. Gremenski Fhart’s squad got credit for saving Hitch’s squad. Hitch’s squad got an assist for helping rescue the humans and a demerit for needing to be rescued.

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