Recent events have made things...difficult as far as fitting time in to write has gone. I won't go into it further, all of you stay safe. I mean it.

With that out of the way, I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Years'. I know I did, always good to spend time with family in such trying times. Seeing more and more followers for the GFL story. It's a good feeling, means I'm drawing attention and for that I'm very thankful.

And to all my HWGA readers, don't think I've forgotten about you either. I know I've said a lot of things, but expect a taste of that rewrite VERY soon. What kind of new year would it be without goals?

Anyways, be easy, and let's get back into it.

Peaceful Transfer of Power

"There used to be a Middle Eastern Coalition and an African Union. The first group got nuked into the ground by a fledgling Rocksert Coalition. Turns out destroying Israel has serious ramifications. The African Union was less glamorous, years of arguing made them fall into infighting. Now the continent is a bunch of independent countries with ties to the superpowers."

Excerpt from Neo New York Time's best seller: The World We Live in


"It's bonkers, no. It's absolute madness!"

Commander Eric Blair continued to wander around his lavish office in a panic as he chomped down on his pipe, the smoke from its spout following him everywhere he went.

Next to Blair's desk and leaning against a well-maintained leather couch his wife continued to file her nails as she let her husband continue his ramblings. Blair had been doing this for several minutes now and she knew there'd be no way to get a word in until he finished. He always got this way, she was just surprised he hadn't lapsed into full-on cockney.

Blair stopped by his desk and leaned against the edge of it as he shakily took another puff from his pipe. "It can't be him, not the same one anyway. Right? Wels, tell me you misheard."

"I did not." Mrs. Blair responded calmly as she set her nail filer down and redonned her leather gloves. "I called in a favor with MI6, the records don't lie. That's is indeed his son."

"And why did you wait until last minute to tell me?!" Blair responded with a frown as smoke poured out of his mouth. "For god's sake woman!"

"Because I knew you'd freak out like this." Mrs. Blair shook her head. "And do watch your tone. I understand you're shaken up, but unless you want to sleep on the couch…" Her voice began to trail off as she tapped her fingers against her arm.

Blair sighed and set his pipe down atop his desk before sitting down on a posh leather chair. "I'm sorry Wels, it's just, why now? Why here? I put that horrid event behind me and now here it is back to rustle the old jimmies."

"The world works in mysterious ways, dear." Mrs. Blair unfolded her arms and walked over to her husband. She placed her hands on his cheeks and brought his forehead to hers. "Whatever happens I'll be here by your side, but you mustn't fret. Approach this the same way we always do."

"Calm, coordinated, and in control." The couple repeated their mantra before bringing each other into a tight embrace.

Blair let go of his wife but maintained a soft grip on her hands. "When does he arrive?"

"Today and he has a lot of dolls under his command." Welrod responded with an affirmative tone. "We'll welcome them in, get them situated, and then-"

"When the time is right I'll talk to him." Blair finished his wife's statement with rising courage. "Over a glass of Scotch perhaps, at the bar?"

"I believe he's more of a whiskey drinker, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. In the meantime." The doll pointed to a large stack of papers atop her husband's desk. "I do believe you have work to do dear."

Blair looked at the stack solemnly and sighed before letting go of his wife's hands. "Yes, I dare say you're right."

"Of course I am." Mrs. Blair placed a soft kiss on her husband's lips and smiled before walking over to the entrance to her husband's office. The doll's hips swayed side to side and every so often she'd adjust herself in such a way that her husband would get just the faintest peek up her skirt.

When Mrs. Blair finally reached the entrance and opened the door she paused before looking over her shoulder with the best sultry smile she could manage. "I'm always right darling."

With that, the doll slammed the door closed leaving Blair slightly relieved if not aroused. At least he could focus on something positive while he worked.


Snowflakes continued to fall from a cloudy sky as the final preparations for the big move continued.

"Another shitty winter day." Hatch grumbled to himself as he reached into his cargo pockets and fished out a crumpled pack of cigarettes. Once again he was out of whiskey, nicotine would have to do for now. The commander lit a cigarette and watched as the last crate was dragged across the landing pad and into a Chinook's cargo bay. This would be the last trip the helicopter would make, a fact not lost on the tired pilots, dolls, and other personnel. Next to the Chinook, Doogan's upgraded Blackhawk sat with its blades spinning as AR team piled into what little space was left in the troop bay. Attached to the sides of the helicopter were two stubby wings under which hung a variety of nasty weapon systems: Miniguns, Hellfire and Stinger launchers. "Mozzy" was certainly a bird to be reckoned with now.

Throughout the base, goodbyes were exchanged and promises to keep in touch made on the spot. Packing things up for the big move had been a long and somber affair, doubly so for Hatch courtesy of R0's morning wake up routine. A loudspeaker to the ears at 8 am did wonders for one's temper. The tired commander rubbed his stubble and stifled a yawn; he still had an entire day ahead of him. At least his new gear was keeping him warm.

"Commander Hatch, all dolls and material accounted for. We're ready to dust off whenever you are." Kalina stopped by Hatch's side and looked over his new protective equipment in awe. "Well that's new, how's it fit?"

"Good, fits a little tight though." Hatch flexed his gauntlet, clutching the cigarette, the Exo limbs humming in response to the movement. "Came in last night. figured I'd put it on before we left."

"Ah, so that's what that mysterious unmarked helicopter landing was." Kalina shook her head. "I'm gonna assume none of that is legal."

Hatch brought a finger to his lips and gave a loud "Shh."

"Right, of course." Kalina responded matter of factly. "So, I'm guessing you're all good to go then?"

"Kalina I've been ready to go since the moment R0 decided to blast my eardrums." Hatch took a drag from his cigarette. "You know, I'm still not all too thrilled about the whole self-appointed secretary adjutant thing she's done."

"Well you know R0. She loves keeping things orderly." Kalina took a sip from her thermos. "It's not like you didn't need the extra structure in your routine."

"Well look at you being the smartass." Hatch gave Kalina a playful shove, eliciting a mischievous giggle from the adjutant. "I'll remember that when the next stack of paperwork comes in." Hatch let some smoke pour out of the corner of his mouth. "Speaking of paperwork, what's the story with the new dolls?"

"They'll be coming in shortly after we do. An MG doll and two shotgun dolls as you requested." Kalina opened her tablet and flipped through some data. "I can forward the information to your data hub if you'd like."

Hatch waved a hand dismissively. "Nah keep it a surprise. That fat deductible had to have been good for something."

"I'll forward the information anyway." Kalina tapped away at her tablet before returning it to her GnK issued greatcoat. The adjutant sighed as she looked over how empty the base had become. "I'm gonna kinda miss this place you know. Remember how quiet things used to be?"

"Of course, I love the quiet, you know that." Hatch put his cigarette out underneath his boot before donning his new helmet. There was a brief period of darkness before a cool female voice spoke into his ear.

"Good Morning operator, please standby."

Once the helmet's gel layer made contact with the base of his skull a warm sensation spread throughout Hatch's body as the technology went to work. In seconds, Hatch's face lit up as the helmet's visor began showcasing the world outside in high definition. With the wide field of view, it was like Hatch wasn't wearing a helmet at all.

"System at 100 percent, vest integrity at 100 percent. Operator vitals are green, temperature system engaged."

"Pretty fucking baller..."

Now fully situated, Hatch got comfortable as his HUD began displaying subtitles with Kalina's every word.

"You and Dozer used to run circles around the dolls during the training exercises." Kalina laughed as the fond memories returned. "I can still hear you and Calico bickering now."

"No kidding, I still hear it every day."

The two exchanged laughter for a few moments. Kalina shook her head before reaching up and giving Hatch's helmet a tap. "Buuut, I suppose those days are over, aren't they Commander Hatch?"

"'Fraid' so, but that's how it is you know?" Hatch adjusted the sling for his carbine and ensured his armor's exoskeleton was locked down tight. "You make some splashes in the pool and someones gonna notice."

Kalina removed her finger and pointed at the rest of Hatch's body. "With all that gear I'm guessing you're gonna make even more."

"Duh." Hatch looked over at his adjutant and gave the top of her beanie a reassuring pat. "Hey, we got this though. Could be fun right?"

Kalina couldn't see Hatch's face behind the dark visor slit and filtration mask, but she could tell he had his usual sly smile on. The adjutant straightened herself up and gave a mock salute. "Yessir Commander Hatch sir!"

"And knock it off with the fucking sir sandwich." Hatch chuckled before leading Kalina over to the helicopter. Upon reaching the Chinook they were greeted by an abnormally tall doll in full winter gear mounting an M2 to the helicopter's ramp. The doll brushed some of her platinum blonde hair out from under her maroon beanie and gave an enthusiastic wave towards the pair, her red eyes shined even from behind her combat goggles. M2, a machine gun doll and one of the newest additions to the team.

"Well howdy there Sugar! Don't mind me none, just makin' sure we're all safe to fly!" M2's country accent boomed loud and proud even over the rotor downwash. "Sheesh, you're lookin' pretty mean. Expecting action?"

"Me? Never." Hatch shook his head and returned the greeting in kind. Not as loud, but just as country proud. "You know how I roll Mama Deuce."

"Sure do, us types are always itchin' for a fight! Maybe I'll get to take some potshots at some Sangvis patrols." M2 flexed one of her biceps enthusiastically before giving her heavy machinegun's charging handle a satisfying rack.. "You know those two Russian clowns flyin' couldn't handle security duty"

"Having two pilots makes the job easier, you know that." Hatch rolled his eyes before entering the cramped troop bay. Lined up on either side and separated by tarp-covered crates the rest of his dolls sat waiting for the trip ahead. Most of them were either silently chatting away on the Zener Network or going into standby mode to catch some rest.

Upon noticing their commander most of the dolls waved or smiled and beckoned to an empty seat beside them. The warmth of a human was a valuable commodity in the cold, even for dolls. Of course, Hatch knew better than to sit with just anyone. Two dolls at the front of the troop bay had already made a spot between themselves just for him.

"Wow, nice garbs babe. Compensating for something?" Calico chuckled into Hatch's ear as he took his seat between the two dolls. Her mouth wasn't moving, but Hatch could hear her loud and clear courtesy of his access to the network.

"Sweetheart, please. You couldn't handle what I'm packin'." Hatch muttered into his mouthpiece in a less than amused tone.

"I disagree." Thunder chimed in as she adjusted herself in such a way so that she could rest her head on what little space was left on her commander's shoulder. "Ben that is a fib."

"Thunder you're not supposed to...ugh." Once again taken aback by Thunder's lack of filter, Hatch could only sigh and lean back into his seat. "Yep, you got me Thunder. Guilty as charged." The commander tried to close his eyes hoping his dolls could just leave him alone for but a few hours.

"Guilty is right, but I'm not surprised given you have no firewall over your little conversation Commandant." Zas chimed in as she wordlessly waved from across the troop bay. "Say Thunder, what exactly is he packing anyways? I'm dying to know; one can only wonder after having what is rightfully theirs encroached upon."

"Well, maybe if you hadn't been so slow on the draw." Calico retorted as she glared at Zas from behind a growing fake smile.

"And maybe if you hadn't decided to be a little menace."

The banter continued even as the helicopter began to take off, the aircraft jolting violently as its frame pushed against the winter winds. Hatch didn't need this, not right now. "For god's sake. Are you dolls or sorority girls? Pipe it down and get your heads on straight for the trip ahead." Hatch interjected before cutting off the transmission.

Finally alone, or something close to it, the commander switched channels. "Mike, how're the new gigs?"

In moments a small window with Michael's grime-covered face appeared. In the background Hatch could just make out the sounds of machinery and personnel yelling, no doubt getting the new engineering bay squared away. Browning rubbed his tired eyes and gestured to the mess behind him.

"Lots of room. Some Commander named Blair showed me around, definitely an upgrade."

"Yeah, Helian told me he'd be doing the big meet and greet. How is he?"

"Too talkative."

"Good to hear I guess." Hatch groaned before changing subjects. "Dozer get there in one piece?"

"Yeah, he's in the back getting the new upgrades Persica sent in attached." Michael shifted his camera and sure enough, Hatch could just make out a tall tarp-covered form surrounded by new techs.

Hatch whistled. "Already? Your teacher works fast."

"Yeah, well I'd appreciate it if you responded to her mail. She just bothers me when you don't."

As if to confirm the engineer's statement a long list of email icons with what appeared to be small emojis of Persica's face started to crop up the top left corner of Hatch's screen.

"Riiight." Hatch grumbled. "I'll be sure to get back to her."


Hatch closed the email icons."When we get there."

"For god's sake-"

"See you soon Mike." Hatch cut the transmission just as another window popped up in place of Michael's this time with M4 taking up the frame. The AR team leader smiled warmly. "Ah Commander Hatch, you're awake."

"Been awake for some time M4 no thanks to your friend R0, what's going on?"

"Woops, that is my bad. I just didn't see you all morning."

"Not many people did. I was busy with some things."

"I see-"

"Hi Commander Hatch!" SOP's face came into the frame as the doll cut off her team leader. "Don't mind M4 she's just getting all nervous. She's always like this before big things happen! M16's sleeping so sorry she couldn't talk." SOP giggled and put a clawed finger to her lips. "I think she's hungover, shhh."

M4 could only sit there nervously babbling as Hatch subconsciously pressed a hand to his helmet and winced. "Yeah, well she's not the only one who partook in too many festivities."

"Quite so, please pardon SOP's brashness." R0 cut in as another frame with her face appeared. "I prepared all the necessary files for you."

Hatch rolled his eyes. "Ah well, I had Kalina-"

"Not necessary she can take a break. I have a few meetings scheduled between you and the commanders at the new base. Forwarding the data to you, now." R0's eyes glowed as a pile of files quickly covered the spot where Persica's emails had been.

Hatch grimaced. "Thank you, R0. I'll be sure to look over all of it."

"As you should, we have a big day ahead of us Commander. R0 out." R0's window minimized leaving M4 there still embarrassed as ever.

"Hey, relax. Remember what I taught you." Hatch addressed the doll in a reassuring voice.

M4 nodded. "'A leader must always be prepared for nonstop work and sudden changes. Be flexible and manage everything in sizeable chunks.'"

"Exactly. You've grown a lot these past couple of months. We got this." Hatch smiled. "Partner."

"Yes of course." Emboldened, M4 gave a salute. "Well, I'll see you on the other side. M4 out."

Alone again, finally. Hatch shook his head and relaxed against his seat further. By now both of his arms were occupied by two sleeping dolls. Probably tuckered out from bickering. Of course, someone else still had to get their word in.

"Ladies and gentlemen this is your Captain speaking. The hostess with the mostess, the pi-lot who says why-not. Your boy, Doogz. Joining me today is my co-pilot Grizzly and a woman after my own heart." Hatch could just make out Grizzly's bashful laughter in the background, probably slapping her man's helmet around.

"Ahem, please do not be ignoring us." Dima cut in, his brother merely grunting in agreement. "We are the ones flying the Chinook, so please be calm and of good mind, you are in good hands."

Doogan scoffed. "Yeah as if, now if you excuse me, I was in the middle of a rousing speech!"

"Oh please do not let us steal your Thunder."

"Damn right." Doogan cleared his throat. "As I was saying! Outside we have….shit weather. It's all shit, like this goddamn country. Anywho! We got a few hours so enjoy some inflight entertainment. This one is coming to you from the old world. Enjoy you some of the good stuff."

As the soft melodies of an old music style filled Hatch's ears the commander felt fatigue slowly overtake him. Surely the files could wait, right now he just needed sleep. Hatch closed all the windows on his VISR and set the screen to dim with a few verbal commands. The commander yawned and nestled against his two favorite dolls before closing his eyes.

Little did he know, he'd need all the sleep he could get.

GNK Main base of Operations

"For christ's sakes!" Helian buried her face into her hands and rubbed her forehead. Another day, another mountain of work. The executive groaned as she dragged her hands down her face causing her eyelids to sag before going back into place.

Helian opened one of the drawers to her desk and eyed the bottle of expensive scotch with tired eyes. The relief was right there and she was in desperate need of it after long hours of work. She reached for the bottle and slowly wrapped her fingers around its neck, the brown fluid within sloshing gently. She could almost taste the warm sensation on her tongue, feel the stress melt away.

"No, not yet." The executive huffed before closing the drawer. "Gotta keep a handle on that. Don't want to be like Hatch do we?"

Helian glanced out her window and sighed heavily. Outside and in the chill beyond the rest of the base was much the same. Helicopters and cargo coming and going. Off to whatever battlefield they were needed.

Helian sat and reflected for a few moments when suddenly a sense of dread began to creep up on her. Hatch was moving today; she knew that much, but something ate away at her. Like she had forgotten something important.

Then, it hit her like a freight train. She did miss something, something very big. The executive quickly turned back to face her desk and frantically tapped away at a few holographic keys. In moments a small hologram appeared with the face of a blonde-haired male commander. The man rubbed his well-trimmed beard and mustache and waved at Helian with a free hand.

"Good afternoon Commander Blair here-Ah Miss Helian!" The male quickly snapped to attention almost falling out of his chair in the process.

"No time Blair, tell me. Who's stationed at S10 again?"

"Ah let's see well." Blair rubbed his blonde beard stubble in contemplation. "Myself, Gentiane, and Denzel." The commander raised an eyebrow. "Why is something wrong Ma'am?"

Helian's eyes went wide. With all the logistical happenings she had completely forgotten that commander was there, the same place Hatch was going to be landing at. "There's been a blunder with some things. I need you to get into contact with Commander Hatch's flight."

Helian brought up a long list of bases in the region and frantically scanned for one that could accommodate a last-minute swap. "He and his dolls are to reroute immediately."

"Well, a bit of a problem with that." Blair shrugged. "Most of their things are all unpacked and situated-"

"We can handle that, just get in contact with him!"

Blair sighed. "Well, I would if the weather wasn't so bad-oh." The commander stopped as he squinted at something beyond the screen. "Oh I believe that's them now actually. Do excuse me ma'am, but I must roll out the red carpet, as they say. I'm sure we can work something out. Until next time!"

"Commander Blair belay that!" Helian slammed her hands on her table. Too late, the transmission had already cut out. There was nothing she could do now. Helian opened her drawer again and took her favorite bottle out. She quickly popped the top off and took a big swig from the bottle.

Helian could only pray, pray that those two commanders had left their past behind them.


Hatch had just started to fall into the throes of another nightmare when he was violently jerked awake courtesy of Thunder. The commander coughed and frantically looked around as he tried to get his visor back on. "Wuzzat?! Who? What!"

"Ben we're here! Look outside!" Thunder strained against her harness as she tried to look outside her window. Hatch was doing no such thing however, he could barely move as it was with all the gear on. Across from him he could just barely make out a large building in the distance outside of one of the other windows.

Throughout the troop bay dolls quickly began securing their gear and doing last-minute checks on one another. Hatch couldn't hear them, but he was certain there was excited chatter going on in the net. Time to play Commander. Hatch gained access to the local Zener net and addressed his dolls.

"Alright Heathens! This is it, home sweet home. Prep your stuff and look pretty for our new neighbors."

All of the dolls sounded off as the helicopter's landing gears impacted the tarmac with a dull thud. In moments, the occupants of both helicopters quickly piled out gear in hand. Once the last doll was out both helicopters quickly pitched their noses up and flew off towards some buildings at the end of the airfield.

Hatch couldn't help but whistle as he took in the sights of their new home. S09 was a cozy FOB in the middle of nowhere, S10 was an actual installation. The whole place was built a lot like GnK's main base of operations. Miles of tarmac large enough to land cargo planes surrounded a central reinforced building that jutted high into the air. Monorails extended from the main building itself and zigzagged off towards other buildings around the complex. A necessary system of transportation given the size of the installation. Off in the distance huge reinforced walls manned with automated weapon systems separated the base from the snow-covered forests beyond and served as a deterrent to anyone or anything with funny ideas.

It was a huge improvement from S09 and all of Hatch's dolls including AR team were impressed given their stunned expressions. All well and fine until the size of everything dawned on the dolls and personnel. Still basked in the shadow of the main building they were still far enough away that it would be a hell of a walk with all the gear they had.

"Hmm, that's odd." Kalina scrolled through her tablet in confusion. "Commander Blair said he'd have a hauler out here to help us move in. He sounded like quite the punctual type too."

"An English accent does not a punctual type make Kalina." Hatch was about to further gripe when he looked over at a nearby Spitfire. "No offense Spit."

The doll simply tipped the brim of her tophat. "None taken mate."

"And for god's sake stop wearing that damn tophat everywhere, we go. It looks ridiculous with the rest of your gear." Hatch further added, ignoring Spitfire's grumbling before returning his attention to Kalina. "So, what's the deal? We walkin' or what?"

"Well, even if we could walk. There's no way we could get inside the main building."

Everyone paused, staring on at Kalina incredulously and Hatch spoke on behalf of all of them when he let out a loud "WHAT?!"

The adjutant pointed at the base of the building. "GnK's standard security measure for buildings such as this prevents there from being a ground-level entrance."

Sure enough, closer inspection of the structure revealed that Kalina was right. There were no doors, only smooth concrete walls.

"And why the hell not?" Hatch inquired with a raised eyebrow.

Kalina put a finger to her mouth and tapped on her bottom lip. "Well, the reasoning is to prevent heavier dolls like hostile SF Aegis from getting inside easily. They'd have to take control of the tram system."

Hatch slapped the top of his helmet and ran a gloved hand down the front visor before balling it into a fist. "And why the hell doesn't the main base have this ass-backward method of transportation?"

"They uh." Kalina looked down at the ground in embarrassment. "Don't expect the main base to be at risk of attack."

"So then how the hell do we get to the trams?"Calico interjected as she pushed in between the two dumbfounded humans.

"Well, the manifest says there's a hauler out for delivery now. I can't seem to reach Commander Blair either." Kalina put her tablet away and threw her hands up incredulously. "This is ridiculous."

"Commander Hatch, if you'd like, I can send my team off and go recon for some assistance." Ever the volunteer, M4 led her team over towards Hatch and the others. "We move fast and our clearances allow us access to most GnK buildings."

Seeing no other option Hatch shrugged. "Yeah, you know what, you do that and see if you can't find me an energy drink or something too. I'm getting tired as hell."

"We are not a delivery service Commander." STAR mumbled from behind M16. "Commander or not you can't just make silly requests-"

"I'll certainly see if I can find one for you Commander Ben, I mean Hatch sir." M4 cut her sister off and gave a crisp salute. "AR team is on the job."

"You all go do that." M16 unslung her rifle and slumped down against a nearby crate. "I'm just gonna take it easy here. Head's still spinning."

"Well maybe if you didn't drink so much last night." R0 groaned. "How unbecoming of a member of AR team."

"It's fine, we'll manage. Let's go." M4 gave a series of hand gestures and her team quickly split off into pairs to cover more ground. "See you guys soon!" SOP gave a mischievous grin and a thumbs-up as the team dashed off towards parts unknown.

Hatch groaned and took his helmet off, the seals disengaging with a loud hiss.

"Well, get comfortable ladies." The commander fished for his pack of smokes, wishing it had been his flask. "We're gonna be here a while."


Sometime later…

Hatch had just redonned his helmet after another smoke when suddenly the sharp roar of a turbo-diesel engine rang out from across the tarmac. Everyone immediately sprang up from whatever position they had taken up as they began searching for the noise. Calico was well ahead of everyone though, her superior optics easily tagging the source of the noise.

"Well, it's about time. I was worried my new boots would be ruined." Calico pointed off towards some garages in the distance. "See, there it is." The doll paused for a moment. "Sorry, they."

Sure enough, the distant shape of a large heavy-duty cargo vehicle quickly began to take shape as it kicked up stray sheets of snow behind it. Upon closer inspection, the vehicle was also an enclosed variant much to everyone's delight.

There was also another one hot on its heels.

Hatch picked up his duffel bags off the ground and effortlessly slung them over his shoulders. "Two trucks? Well lucky us, alright girls grab your kit and get ready. We'll be out of this cold in a few moments."

All of the dolls began prepping their equipment and standing by, each more eager to get out of the cold than the last. They wouldn't have to wait long.

A91 was the first to take notice that something wasn't quite right. The doll craned her head forward and almost fell over while trying to squint. "Heeey, should they be driving that fast? Or am I just *hic* drunk?"

"No, you are not. Well, you are, but not that far gone." Springfield nodded in agreement. "They are moving quite fast, well beyond most base regulated speed limits."

Kalina took a few steps back. "Erm, uh. Maybe we should move back a little bit?"

"No, they'll stop." Hatch stood his ground and eyed the lead truck. Something didn't feel right, there was no way some posh English commander would drive so recklessly. He had served with enough of that type during the Old War to know better.

"Ben is right. They will stop for us." Thunder agreed with a deadpan stare as she stood by her commander's side. The doll put both her hands up in front of her and glared at the trucks as if she was going to telekinetically slow them down.

All of the dolls tensed up, the truck engines were much louder now and the vehicles were almost upon them.

WA started flailing her arms in protest just as the lead vehicle began to skid to a halt. The vehicle's momentum forced the truck to shift to its side as it threatened to drift right over Hatch and company. "They're gonna run us over! We're all gonna be splatted by some stupid idiots! Why are there always stupid mmf-" Wa's protests were cut short as Springfield cupped a hand around her mouth. "That's quite enough. If the good commander says we're fine, we're fine."

After a long ear-piercing screech of rubber on pavement, the lead truck finally came to a complete stop, its right side facing Hatch and his dolls as it threatened to tip over. The other truck was forced to do the same only its driver had a lot more common sense, choosing instead to come to an abrupt halt several meters behind.

Hatch glanced up at the lead truck's passenger side window as the glass slowly rolled down revealing a woman garbed in winter gear. She looked down at Hatch and the others and gave a seductive smile, the reds of her eyes glowing against a few strands of brown hair that came out from under her patrol cap.

"Hey baby, going my way?" The woman's sultry voice called out. It would've sent chills down Hatch's neck were it not for the fact his nerves were now shot. A quick scan via the commander's helmet-mounted scanner immediately revealed the woman to be a doll. No surprise, the glowing eyes were a dead giveaway.

"Yeah, you could say that! You one of Blair's dolls?"

The doll let an arm hang out the window as the engine cut off. "Mmm, no baby I'm not. He's actually in the truck behind us."

"Oookay, well then. Who's doll are you?" Hatch felt his heart rate go up a little bit. "All of you guys make entrances like this?"

"For someone with such a 'delicious' past such as you. Of course!" The doll opened her door wide and waved at Hatch and the others. "I'm DSR-50, a sniper model doll, but I'm sure you all could figure that out." The doll pointed to the massive rifle tucked between the jet black winter tights she wore.

"Yeah well, we can also figure out you're a weirdo!" Calico pointed at DSR with an accusatory finger. "Now answer the question!"

DSR giggled and jumped out the side of the vehicle, landing on the ground with enough force to scatter some stray sheets of snow. The doll hefted her rifle up and over the back of her shoulders and pushed her bust out towards Calico. "Why honey, I'm with D squad!

"D squad? The hell kind of name is that?" Calico responded confused.

"You don't know D squad?! " A male's voice quickly answered back as it boomed out of some speakers. The truck lurched against as its driver jumped out and made a loud thud on the tarmac.

This was when Hatch froze in place, his heart rate increasing even further. He knew that voice and in that moment he had certainly wished he hadn't heard it.

"You don't know D squad?!" The mysterious male's voice repeated the question as a massive figure came out from around the front of the vehicle."Everyone knows D squad baby! I mean, your commander should remember that name!"

Once Hatch saw who the voice belonged to he immediately put himself between the newcomer and his dolls. Once the rest of the dolls got a good look at who was making such a grand entrance they could see why.

At a glance, the newcomer looked more like an Aegis than anything else. Clad in a battle-worn heavy suit of chrome armor over urban cargo pants and boots, the figure was certainly dressed for nothing less than all-out war. Mounted to the man's hip and sheathed in a bright yellow polymer scabbard was a sword of oriental origin. This was no doll and the man made sure to remind everyone of that as he began to sway side to side in an exaggerated manner.

The man kept a firm grip on his sword as he began to dance to a tune nobody could hear as he got closer to the now paralyzed Hatch.

"That's D as in destroy! D as in decimate, D as in definitely gonna show you how to have a good time!" The man twirled and juked some more as a squad of heavily armed dolls piled out of the back of the truck and sounded off as one.

"That's D as in don't you mess with us!"

The new dolls quickly formed a half-circle around the back of their handler just as he stopped in front of Hatch. He easily towered over Hatch by a few feet and many of Hatch's dolls quickly surmised he might even be as tall as Dozer.

The man put a hand on Hatch's shoulder snapping the commander out of his trance as he began to shift to a more aggressive posture. "That's D as in I'm definitely going to kick your ass after you abandoned me, Benjy boy." The man chuckled. "You're a real lying piece of shit, 'Sergeant'."

Hatch stared up at the behemoth as he brought a hand up and firmly gripped the one on his shoulder. Yes, he knew exactly whose face was concealed behind the featureless silver helmet that was only inches away from his own. "Denzel..."