“Okay, men, today is a defining moment in the story of your lives. Today you will test your mettle against the 16th street crusaders, and you will prevail,” Dave Martinez said, the reflective points on his VFC Elite Force 4CRS airsoft gun glimmering in the moonlight.
“We will be a scourge in their hearts for nights to come, and we will laugh at their misery.”
Dave turned at the end of the line of kids from his street and started walking back up to the top. None were under 16, and some even had shown interest in joining the military right out of high school as he had. He made eye contact with them before moving on to the next kid.
“What happens if we get shot?” Michael Key said, struggling to keep his glasses in place beneath his protective goggles.
Dave brought down his weapon and pointed it at Michael’s chest. His VFC was set on single shot mode, and he fired a single BB. Michael screamed, but upon realizing all the protective gear, he was wearing prevented him from feeling the pain he stared blankly at Dave.
“If you had paid attention during the original orientation you would know,” Dave said. “Gary?”
Dave turned to Gary after saying his name, and Gary stepped forward with his chest out. Gary had been locked up at a juvenile detention facility three times before he met Dave, and since then Gary had turned his life around.
He realized street gangs came with a slew of troubles, but the fun outlet Dave provided in airsoft allowed him to still feel like he was bad without any negative consequences.
Dave fired at Gary’s puffed out chest, and he fell when he felt the pressure from the BB hit him. He dropped his gun, waited five seconds and then stood back up before falling back into line.
“Thank you, Gary,” Dave said, turning back to Michael. “You play dead for five seconds and then get back in the game.” Dave continued his stroll back down the line and stopped, a smile wider than any of the kids had ever seen spread across his face. “Okay, now who’s ready to rock and roll?”
The boys from his block all screamed as loud as they could, and Dave felt a rush of adrenaline that made him shake with glee. The opposing street’s battle cry came a few seconds later, and he smirked. He knew their captain, Josh. They’d been lucky enough to serve two tours together in Iraq, and it would be fun to pit his wits against a friend he once fought beside.
They were in a massive field that was surrounded by trees. The opposing team was a least a full football field away, and only visible in the darkness by their constantly moving helmet lights, which reminded Dave of Christmas lights.
“Go! Go! Go!” Dave yelled, waving his arm in a forward circular motion to tell the kids to start sprinting.
He smiled at the sound of their laughter as they all headed out, and he wished he’d had something like this put on for him when he was a kid. He glanced back at their base’s flag sitting on the damp grass. Next to it was a crude circle made out of broken twigs that signified their base.
In the event of both teams grabbing the flag and alleging a score at the same time, Dave and Josh had put stopwatches beside the flags. The flag stealers were supposed to start the stopwatch, and if a tie was claimed then the team with a higher stopwatch time at their base would be declared the loser.
The soft pops and clicks of various airsoft guns discharging pulled him back to the present and he sprinted forward. His strategy was more offense and less defense, and he sprinted past the two boys designated to defend. They were two of the best shots, and they whooped at him as he ran past.
A kid ran toward him from the right, yelling in glee with his gun pointed. Dave barrel-rolled out of danger and stopped, holding his breath and firing two shots into the kid’s chest. The kid sucked his teeth but plopped down face first in a dramatic fashion, pulling a laugh from Dave.
Continuing on his path toward the other side, he started sprinting again, keeping his weapon pointed forward. He took a brief pause to take down two more kids, finding Michael on the ground and helping the boy to his feet.
“Come on, soldier! Keep your feet beneath you!” Dave yelled with a playful voice.
Michael yelled and fired his weapon five times, finally striking a mark to the right. He yelled in glee and Dave led the way with Michael behind him.
“To your left!” Michael yelled.
Dave dropped to one knee but felt the pressure of a BB against his shoulder.
“I’m hit,” he yelled with a smile, toppling over backward.
Michael yelled at the top of his lungs and fired another five shots, his aim improving a little and striking two marks this time.
“I’m not leaving you behind, captain!” Michael said, grabbing Dave’s collar and heaving.
Dave didn’t budge more than an inch, and they both laughed. Another attacker came in from their right, and Michael defended with more screams. The sound of Gary’s voice came a few moments later, and Dave sat up, his five seconds over.
“I’ve got the flag!” Gary said, crouching and taking down two more of the 16th streeters.
“Michael, cover Gary’s six. I’ll take 12 o’clock.”
Michael nodded and started yelling even though no one was trailing them yet. A 16th streeter yelled that their flag had been taken, and almost everyone on the field turned inward to try and find the white strip of cloth in the darkness.
The pops and clicks grew thick in the air as the trio moved toward their base. Michael continued screaming, and Dave shook his head. If the boy had been quiet, they might have been able to move undetected, but with him blaring their position to the enemy there was no doubt things would turn into a firefight.
Two 16th streeters came in from the front, and Dave dispatched them both. They kept going and their base was in sight. The two defenders ran up to meet the trio, and they provided cover and helped guide them back.
“Someone snuck around through the woods and got our flag,” Bo, the bigger of the two defenders said.
“Josh,” Dave whispered, knowing the sneaky tactic came from Josh’s Seal training.
They came into the base, and a few more attackers approached but they disposed of them, and Gary stopped the team’s stopwatch as he put the white flag on the base.
“Did we win?” Michael said, trying to push his glasses up behind his protective goggles but failing and giving up.
Dave shrugged and jogged toward the center of the field, and a few moments later Josh jogged over as well. He held up his stopwatch with a grin and Dave looked at his. They had lost, but the smile stayed on his face.
“Go again?” He said, lifting his goggles up and onto his forehead so he could look Josh in the eyes.
He nodded and gave the thumbs up, jogging back to his side.