"Fifteen minutes," Miss Pauling hissed. "I told you guys to be here right at five, Scout. And what do you do?" She left the question for him to answer. The young guy who seemed to be named Scout rubbed the back on his neck nervously.
"Uh... We showed up fifteen minutes fashionably late?" Scout's voice crescendoed higher as he answered the question with uncertainty. It had a thick Bostonian accent to it. Miss Pauling lifted her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose in distress.
"If it makes it any better, we ran into a few hiccups on the way here." He tried to relieve the pressure in the situation for them. The man in the hardhat sighed.
"What he means by hiccups is we accidentally crossed paths with a BLU truck returning to base." The man had a calm southern accent. It was like listening to a kind relative who you never see. "Though his unnecessarily bad driving skills almost got us killed." He made sure to add on. Scout shot him a look from behind. That must explain why the truck looked so bent out of shape. Since the truck was up closer now, you noticed there were a few punctures on the side of the truck; bullet holes. Oh boy.
The sound of two metal doors slammed open from the back of the truck. "Hello Miss Pauling, I am here also!" A raspy voice boomed out. He turned the corner and gave you two a salute with a goofy grin. He wore a military helmet that layered over his eyes. The three men's attention then was quickly drawn to you.
"So, 'this the new merc, huh?" Scout questioned.
"She isn't a mercenary, she is your supervisor. Her name is (Y/N)." Miss Pauling introduced you to the men, you felt a little relieved she did so for you. To be quite frank, you were pretty nervous. You couldn't pinpoint why, but it was just the tingly feeling you get in your stomach when you are anticipating something to happen. It was only a matter of time.
The man in the hardhat gave you a friendly smile, "It's nice to meet ya darlin'. You can call me Engineer or 'Engie' for short if ya'd like." He took his thumb and forefinger and lightly tipped his hat to you. It made a small laugh escape your lips. He seems like a nice person. Engineer then pointed a gloved finger behind him. "This here's Scout as you may have figured out."
"Yo, what's up?" The boy replied with a cunning smirk on his face.
" And this is Soldier." His thumb next pointed at the man in the military helmet. In exchange, Solider turned in Miss Pauling and your direction with a straight face.
"Miss Pauling, you promised you would bring us an American. Not a woman!" He exclaimed. His statement confused you.
"But, I am American..." You trailed off.
"Eh, don't take anything that chucklehead says too seriously. He's like this all the time." Scout chimed in.
"That sounds like something a traitor would say! Who are you working for?" Soldier snarled. He tried to move up to talk right into your face, but Miss Pauling obstructed his path.
"Now, now. We can all get comfy and know each other in the truck. We're on a tight schedule here!" Miss Pauling announced.
"And I'm driving this time." Engineer stated distastefully. Scout slid open his door side.
"Jeez, fine. Whatever." He mumbled. After everyone was situated, the five of you were well on your way. The truck departed from the opposite side of the town you entered and back into what was now a setting desert sun.
This ride went by a lot quicker than previous trips. It felt a lot shorter than the supposed 45 minutes that Miss Pauling counted. It must have had to do with getting to know the other three along the way. Just as you expected with first impressions, Engineer was a kind man. He told you a little bit about 2Fort along with some of the buildings and projects he enjoys to make. Soldier intimidated you at first, but after some time you got used to his militia-like ways. Some of the stuff he said seemed outrageous at times, but it was somewhat comedic. As for Scout, a good majority of the time it was his attempts to hit on you and Miss Pauling. You both promptly disregarded his action. He was a very talkative individual, but he didn't seem like a horrible person. None of them were.
"Ladies and gents, we have finally arrived back to 2Fort. Say hello to RED's headquarters." Engineer announced. You looked through the front windshield of the truck from the back. A huge facility stood prominently in the desert dusk. It had that red shade you saw in the pictures you were shown. The structure of it looked familiar from the photograph as well. You just weren't expecting it to be this big.
The truck pulled into a large garage unit, the five of you filed out of the vehicle.
"Come along now, (Y/N). Everyone else is inside waiting to meet you." Engineer and the other three lead the way as you follow suit. That nervous feeling grew in your stomach again. You didn't know what you were expecting about the others, you didn't want to ask out of fear, and willingness on your part to get to know them personally.
Your group entered into a large joint dining room-kitchen space. Scattered between the two areas were six other men who either conversed with one another or sat by themselves. All of them glanced in your group's direction upon your arrival.
"Everybody, we are back! And we found Miss Pauling along the way!" Soldier announced to them. None of which responded. There was a pause before the woman in the purple dress cleared her throat.
"Guys, this is the new member of your team. Why don't you introduce yourself?" Her hands gestured toward you. She looked back waiting for your response. You put one hand up and waved gently to the other six in the room.
"Hello, I'm (Y/N) (L/N)." You say just loud enough for everyone to hear you. There was a pause that hung in the air. Your eyes scanned the room in anxiousness. Were you supposed to say anything else? Oh God, the silence has hung for too long. Maybe you should elaborate. "I... I'm your team's intern?" You spoke as if it was a question. Oh no, and you said intern! It made it sound you were their underling rather than their supervisor! You felt the heat from your mistake radiate off your face and you were about to correct yourself, but it was too late. The other men who sat all gave light chuckles at your response.
Miss Pauling stepped forward and flashed you a reassuring smile. Her head returned to the other men and spoke, "Actually, she is more like your guy's manager. While she takes on more assistant-like roles, in the end, she holds a higher status within the corporation."
"Aye, I think I prefer that lass as an intern than a manager!" A man with a Scottish accent exclaimed. He held a giant jug of... something... in his hands. It looked like an alcoholic beverage but you could not make out what kind. After his response then other men burst into a louder laugher. You laughed awkwardly along with them, your nerves were on overdrive. You were afraid something like this would happen. Although you don't want to come off as too sensitive in front of these guys. They're the ones you will have to work with. In a way, you were going to have to adapt in some form or another. So to simply laugh it off was the smartest choice for now.
The only one who didn't chime in on laughter was a man that had a red balaclava on. He took an inhale to his cigarette, he had a small book in his hand that he kept his focus on. "If I were you I would watch your mouth. Keep in mind she will have contact with the administrator." His reply was clearly directed at the Scottish man. His voice was quite satisfying to listen to. It also had a French accent to it, which made it ten times better to hear. The noise from the other men died down. You felt your anxiousness fall after he spoke. His tone did not seem to be as if he was advocating for you, but it helped suppress some of the worries you felt from the other guys laughing.
"I have already given you all the basic rundown of her reason for being here. She knows her responsibilities as well. I'll keep this quick in that case," Miss Pauling began. "You all are expected to treat Miss (L/N) with respect and vise versa. You all are colleagues and the only way you are going to succeed as a team is to work like one. Since (Y/N) is under a similar code of conduct, she is allowed to give as much personal information about herself to you all as she pleases. She respects your privacy, you can respect her's. Especially in these first few days, help her out if she asks for it and try not to put her down. We were all beginners at some point. Finally, the biggest rule with no exception; never EVER converse with the enemy." Her words were bold and you took it all very seriously. The other men kept quiet and some slightly nodded as a response. Converse with the enemy...? You had slight curiosity, but you didn't want to ruin the moment. Maybe you can ask one of the other mercenaries later. The woman in purple cleared her throat afterward. "If there aren't any questions, then I will be off." She scanned the room for a moment, she began to pivot on one foot when suddenly Scout jumped in her way.
"Uhh, Miss Pauling-! We know that you guys had a long day of travelin' and such. Would you want to join us for (Y/N)'s welcoming dinner?" A look of surprise rode on your face. A welcoming dinner? The only thing you had to eat that day was what you and Miss Pauling had at the airport, and now that you thought about it you were starving.
Miss Pauling looked at her watch while making a humming noise. Her shoulders slouched as she gave a large exhale. "Well, I don't need to be ready to leave in Teufort until eight-thirty... Why not."
"Engie and I will finish getting everything prepared!" A man with a thick German accent piped up. All the guys began to rejoice at his response, and the conversation among them all grew louder. You stood in the middle of the room watching everyone. All seemed to be split up into sub-groups while having multiple conversations. You didn't know where to go, so you gravitated back towards where Miss Pauling was.
Before long it was dinner time. You sat between two men, you got to know they were referred to the names of Sniper and Heavy. You didn't make many conversations, in the beginning, you just enjoyed the moment of being there with the new people you were going to work with. About halfway through dinner Engineer stood up from his seat and tapped a fork against his glass to get the table's attention. The room hushed down to silence and he smiled as he spoke.
"Ladies and gentlefolk, y'all know why we're here. Tonight we welcome Miss (Y/N) (L/N) to not only what we consider our team, but our family. With our brawn on the battlefield, and her brain in the sidelines may she help us lead RED to a more successful path than ever." Everyone at the table began to clap as Engineer waved you to stand up, you did so holding your glass and smiling.
"As you all know, upon entering our team you are honored with a name. Not just any name, a code name that becomes your alias, a symbol if you'd like. It keeps your identity safe on the field and within some records. So (Y/N), what would you like to be referred to as?" Everyone's attention panned from Engineer to you. Your mind was blank. It was such a sudden question. You swished the drink in your glass in thought for a moment.
"Oh, well... I'm not sure. I didn't give much thought to a nickname. Do any of you have suggestions?" One by one the room shot off with different answers from different people.
"That one is taken, you idiot!"
"Who are you callin' an idiot ya moron?!"
The volume in the room grew greater and greater as you watched in utter shock. For a team, they seemed to argue over some of the smallest things. A wave of guilt washed over you thinking it was your fault for starting it. Miss Pauling and a few others were shouting for others to calm down. Some of the others were shouting for the sake of shouting. You even witnessed two of them wanting to start a fight in a drunken-manner.
It was at that point you have had enough. You picked up your fork from your plate and began to ring it as quickly as possible against your glass. The loud and frantic clinging pierced throughout the room. Slowly, but surely, those who were arguing began to pipe down and turn their attention back to you. You stood up with a solid posture facing the men. "If I may interrupt. While you all were arguing I have decided to come up with a name on my own." They all looked at you blankly waiting for you to finish.
"Well? What is it?!" Scout yelled from the other side of the table.
"I was thinking about the name... Backer." More silence came from the men who all glanced at one another without moving their heads.
"Well, I quite like it alright." The lengthy man with an Australian accent was first to comment.
"Me too." The one in a gas mask mumbled soon after.
"Es ist sehr gut!" The German one spoke out. The room then grew into a cluster of noises of approval. Engineer cleared his voice to speak once more.
"You made a good choice," He nodded towards you, which you returned with a bright grin. "If y'all could raise your glasses. I would like to propose a toast." Everyone took a moment to raise their drinks. You stood and kept it raised. Engineer's rose the highest out of them all. "With the entrance of our newest member, may countless victories come our way, and we all get to get to know her as a part of our family as well. To Backer!"
"To Backer!" Everyone cheered as they all clinked their drinks together. A rush of joy filled you in almost and instant, and it lasted throughout the rest of the meal. You got to know everyone's names that they went by. It took some time, but their uniqueness in style helped make their names memorable. They then continued to ask you some questions about yourself. Before you knew it the second part of the meal was done.
Miss Pauling looked down at her watch. "It's almost 7:45, I need to get going guys." Most of the mercenaries and you all made groaning and mumbling noises to her reaction which was acknowledged with a smile. "Thanks for letting me stick around to see Backer's initiation. I have a really good feeling for you guys as a team." The men all cheered loudly, you could tell a good majority of them may have had too much to drink with dinner, but you didn't mind the energy. "Backer, I wish you luck."
You gave her an encouraging smile. "I won't let you down."
She simply nodded her head cooly as she was already half out the door. "I'll keep in touch. See you guys around."
A mixture of farewells came from you and the other mercenaries as she left the scene. Once she was gone you turned to find the rest of them kept looking at you with an array of smiles on their faces. The one in the balaclava which got to know as Spy split from the crowd towards you. He held what looked like clothing in his hands.
"You simply cannot be apart of our team in much of a disgrace of dull gray clothing such as that. Have these instead." He gently handed you the neatly folded clothing. It consisted of skinny black cargo pants and a somewhat baggy red zip-up pullover. A yellow tie-on armband with a patch of a large megaphone sat with eminence on the top of the clothing. You looked up at him with great gratitude, then to the rest of your team.
"Welcome to RED, Backer."