Entry 10 – Life in Camp
Over the course of the week that followed, I learned a lot. Espinoza was basically the person who founded the whole outfit, hiring mercs for Perihelion left and right as well as arranging the structure and equipment requirements. Most of the men and women present were Americans, ex-military, idealistic and, most importantly, disgruntled about the direction their homeland was headed in.
Now, I wasn’t usually the type to fall to optimism, but the feeling of hope somehow permeated the whole camp – ‘finally, someone is doing something mixed with this guy’s as rich as they come, he’s gotta have his shit together.’
I met the squad commanders as well, most of them being veterans of one stripe or another. The tall Native American guy turned out to be a Sioux from Louisiana by the name of James Twocrows, but everyone just called him Jim and he didn’t seem to mind – his authority seemed absolute. I didn’t know about his story at the time, but he definitely had that air of confidence; the kind of leader soldiers follow to hell and back. I wasn’t entirely sure why Espinoza was “in charge” instead of him either, but everyone seemed comfortable with the arrangement, including the two of them.
They had a lot in common too, like their shared dislike of Murdoch’s armor choices, which they assumed weren’t HIS choices since he professed to know very little about military matters. Instead, they believed that “some moron” (as in, me) talked him into it and their favorite evening past-time was sitting near a camp-fire with the troops and ranting how stupid it was to operate Russian tanks in America.
Sure, the “fire sale” years made them affordable and it wasn’t the “really cheap stuff” the borderlands got flooded with (hell, even the police near the southern border operated a bunch of old tanks these days), but everyone would have preferred American machines. It stood to reason, they both claimed, that when you recruit in the good old U.S. of A., you get troops familiar with American equipment. The training period would have been significantly shorter.
And then there were the two BMPT series support tanks nobody really wanted to touch. Being a fan of the Terminators, I immediately claimed one for myself (the better one, of course) with the other one listed as an outfit reserve. The reason everyone felt so hesitant was the fact that there weren’t any tactics developed for it. The U.S. Army was not using this vehicle class at all and as such, these behemoths didn’t fit anywhere – in the end, we decided to just use them as tanks and that was that.
The machines came painted in black (not my fault!) and dark grey (also not my fault!), but each of them was already customized to a degree by the time I arrived. Espinoza’s “Nightsinger” bore her personal livery, truly a work of art, adorned with the images of night sky shining on a dark forest and a ghost nightingale lighting the way.
The other tanks reflected their crews as well. There was a Southern/Irish crew with a guy called O’Sullivan or something, his Challenger tank (one of the few non-Russian MBTs around) painted black and green with various Celtic-themed insignia. Another tank bore Pacific Islander motives – and so on. Nobody seemed to mind.
I had no crew of my own, or an official position for that matter. Everyone simply accepted me as “one of the bosses” (because Espinoza and Twocrows said so), but we had no formal ranks, only assignments. Whenever my Terminator was called into action (I dubbed it Black Mamba because venomous snakes are cool, not for my preference in women as Espinoza suggested along with a few other lewd remarks), crew members would be assigned to me. In fact, all crews rotated on regular basis so that every crew would know how to operate all vehicles. This made training difficult and inefficient but having multiple vehicle types required this approach. What can I say, mercs sometimes do things the hard way.