-In the recording booth, twenty minutes later-
All nine young women who had stayed to audition for a part in Armored Hearts were now standing in a semicircle in front of individual podiums with microphones. They all had scripts in front of them with all the lines for the scene and the lines each person was supposed to read being highlighted for their convenience. Molly stood in front of them as two young men who looked to be slightly older than Diana stood against the back wall. One of them was a black-haired youth wearing a white Lakefront Animation t-shirt and blue jeans with beat-up white tennis shoes. The other was a brown-haired youth wearing a navy blue shirt with khaki cargo pants and black tennis shoes.
Diana turned her attention away from them and towards her fellow aspiring voice actresses, who were reviewing their scripts. Each person had a nickname their characters went by and Diana happened to be assigned a character named Huntress Eight, meaning she was the eighth member of Artemis Squad, the Sorority's Main Battle Tank operators. Diana had reviewed the information packet and notes for the scene and learned that The Sorority was using mostly hand-me-down gear from the Federation, so complaints about the secondhand equipment was fairly common. That included the armored vehicles, artillery, even the infantry weapons and infantry body armor.
The scenario was that two vehicles of Artemis Squad that had suffered engine trouble were on a routine patrol of a stretch of farmland between two of Homestead's cities and that they were grousing about the questionable reliability of their gear and what led them to join The Sorority. Again, that idea was a cliche, but if executed properly that cliche could help set the characterization of how The Sorority was not a war machine full of battle-hardened professionals but a group with a disproportionate amount of young women who were not Federation supporters despite working for the Federation and using hand-me-down Federation gear.
A noise that indicated engine trouble played. That was the group's cue to begin reciting their lines.
"Ah, hell! NOT AGAIN!" Huntress Five, the commander of the vehicle Diana was in, groused.
"It's the damn engine again. That's the third time TODAY!" Huntress Six, the driver of the vehicle, complained.
"Well, what do you expect from hand-me-downs? These vehicles are older than we are! The ammo for the main gun was made when I was learning to walk!" Huntress Seven, the loader for the main gun, lamented and tacked on a complaint about the ammunition for the main gun.
"That's what you get with hand-me-down gear. All the shiny new toys go to the Federation while we get the worn-out ones. Besides, they don't want guns for hire having good enough gear to threaten them should we switch sides." Diana, playing her part as Huntress Eight, the tank's gunner, mused philosophically.
"That's not gonna happen. The Sorority's always sided with the Federation." Huntress Five commented.
"They coulda given us better gear to work with. Like some of those shiny new Crusader MBTs. They only have a crew of three 'cause they've got autoloaders to take the place of a dedicated loader." Huntress Six chimed in.
"Hold on! If we switched to tanks with autoloaders, I'd be out of a job!" Huntress Seven exclaimed indignantly.
"Don't be upset, Seven. They might find another role for you." Huntress Five remarked casually.
"Yeah. If you can't get into another tank I'm sure the infantry has a place for you." Huntress Six remarked in the same casual tone Five had used. Huntress Seven made a fake half-hearted laugh.
"Real funny, guys. Real funny." Huntress Seven fired back sarcastically. Huntresses Five and Six laughed while Seven fumed in silence about the joke made about how easily she could be replaced. Huntress Eight stood in silence for awhile as the tank they were in rumbled towards its destination.
"Hey Huntress One, how's your vehicle holding up?" Huntress Five asked Huntress One, the commander of the other tank in the group.
"Eh, it's holding. The engine on this vehicle needs replacement ASAP. It wants to cut out from time to time and there's a really bad grinding noise." Huntress One replied casually before a mechanical grinding noise of gear on gear that made everyone clench their teeth in pain played.
"That bad, huh?" Huntress Five asked.
"Yeah. Maybe once we get back to base Hephaestus Team can fix the engine and make it go a little longer." Huntress One replied.
"This is Artemis Lead. What's your ETA to the destination?" Artemis Lead, the leader of Artemis Squad, cut in with an official tone.
"This is Huntress One. ETA is about one hour." Huntress One replied.
"This is Huntress Five. ETA is about one hour." Huntress Five echoed.
"Understood." Artemis Lead stated simply before ending communication.
Highway sounds played as the two tanks rode down a deserted stretch of highway and looked around for anything out of the ordinary.
"Hey Five, do you see anything out of the ordinary?" Huntress Six asked the commander.
"Negative, Six. Nothing. Nothing but grassland as far as the eye can see." Huntress Five replied.
"Same here. Nothing but prime farmland. Kinda reminds me of home." Huntress One replied without being asked. Since nothing out of the ordinary had been spotted the two tank crews continued to rumble along trying to make up for time lost by the poor quality of their worn-out engines. They still had an hour to go and that was if they suffered no further engine trouble.
"Yeah, me too." Huntress Five chimed in.
"Yeah? Where did you come from?" Huntress Six asked.
"A grassy planet named Emerald. And before you ask, it's actually called Emerald, like the gemstone. It got its name from the green grass that's all over the planet. There's a lot of it between cities." Huntress Five explained in a nostalgic tone.
"Man, I wish I had been born there. Me, I grew up on a planet named Cali. It's packed with big cities and skyscrapers. Couldn't even see the sky unless you stood on top of a skyscraper or went way outside of a city into the wilderness." Huntress Six gave her own story as the two tanks rumbled towards their destination.
[Post Word Count: 1,050]
[Total Word Count: 3,934/10,000]