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Unit 2526 Chapter 1: Acquaintance

Week One

Day 1, 25th January, 1980.  

Hi there! Where do I even start... Well, I’m Dyson Unit TG1-2526-3, and I’m in Britain’s 136th Armoured Division, Squadron H. I only know so much about what that is, but there’s always time to learn, right? Anyways, I started talking for the first time today, so my one crew-mate Annabel said it would be neat if I started keeping a diary? I, of course, didn’t really know what that was, but she said its a kind of book or whatever that you just write your thoughts in. Simple enough! So, I guess that’s what I’m doing right now. What happened today… um, I mean, I sat with my crew while they ate breakfast, it wasn’t all that exciting, but I do like spending time with them, so it seems like something nice to write down. They all just had MREs and some fruit that got brought in the other day, is that good enough? I don’t know. I’m still getting used to this whole thing. Oh! I can talk about what we do here, too. I’m a tank, my crew-mate Michael told me I’m a Challenger 2, cool name, right?- And I was made to help my human friends protect their country. All I know is that there’s other humans out there from other countries trying to hurt my friends for whatever reason, and I want to do my best to keep that from happening; whatever it takes.

Day 2, 26th January, 1980.  

New day, new entry! Yesterday wasn’t all that great, so I think I’m going to try and pick a topic and stick with it. That’s kinda what you’re supposed to do anyway, right? So, I thought it would be neat to talk about the camp my division has set up here. We’re still in the UK, but we’re right near the southern shore waiting to cross into France. Once we do that, we’re gonna be on the same continent as the bad guys, and that means they’re gonna have to watch out... FOR US. Oh wait, I’m getting off track, we’re talking about the camp. Right. We’re actually in a very pretty place right now, you can see the shore right from the edge of the camp, it’s still evidently cold out, and we’re surrounded by very gentle sloping hills. All the humans stay in these cloth things called “tents,” and they’re supposed to protect them from the rain and cold and stuff like that. My other tank friends and I don’t really need them since we can’t exactly feel temperature or be bothered by the rain, so we don’t get the whole tent thing, we do have designated places to rest, though! And we don’t have walls like the human tents do, but we have roofs, if that makes sense, Annabel said they’re kinda like open-air metal garages, but made with canvas instead. Not that I’ve ever seen one, but they sound cool. The tents, though, are all lined up and there’s four… rows? Of them, its kinda like…

Dyson's Camp
<<< this! I have a program for drawing stuff, it’s supposed to be for strategizing for battles, but I don’t see the hurt in using it for this kind of thing every once and a while. The smaller rectangles on the fronts of the big ones- which are the tents, are just the fronts of the tents, I thought it would make it a little less confusing.

          Day 3, 27th January,1980  

Hello again! I don’t think I actually have to greet anyone for these, I mean, I’m the only one reading them at the moment; I just think it’s fun. That, and future me might like it! Since I talked about my camp yesterday, I thought it would be nice to talk about all the people here, too. Since I hang out with them all the time and have already mentioned some, I’ll talk about my crew-mates first.

Annabel Bartram is my co-commander, and she’s supposed to help direct the rest of the crew and help me make quick decisions out on the field. I don’t want to be picking favourites, but she’s really nice to me! A lot of nights I actually park by my crew’s tent because she convinces the higher-ups to let me, and we do a lot of stuff together. She’s taught me most of my vocabulary, not just in talking, but she’ll read things to me, too. Sometimes, we’ll wander on the farther outskirts of the camp and she’ll tell me about all the different plants and animals we see, she said before the was drafted, she wanted to be a field biologist, which she told me is when you make a living off of learning about nature. I think it sounds really cool! Maybe some day when the war is over, I could be one, too.

Another crew-mate is Michael, who I know I mentioned earlier, but he’s my secondary gunner. I have full autonomy over all my guns and can reload them by myself, but it really does help when you’re not the only one managing them! Michael is pretty cool, he doesn’t spend as much time with me as Annabel does; he doesn’t ignore me, though, don’t worry! He’s just really sociable and moves around the camp a lot to keep caught up with all his other friends. When he does hang out with the crew and I, though, he’s the one that updates us on what’s going on everywhere in the camp; it’s really nice of him!

The last, but by no means least, is Gage. He’s the co-driver, kinda. I’m usually the one in control of that, but he’s there to jump in if he sees something I don’t and can redirect me, and doubles as a loader if something happens that makes it so I can’t reload myself. He’s kinda quiet, but that just means he’s great company if you’re not always in the mood to socialize! He’s really bookish, and he’s always reading something. Sometimes in the evenings when I’m allowed to park outside the tent, he’ll read aloud so I can hear too; not as often as Annabel, but a lot of the stuff he reads is really… attention grabbing? While Annabel leans some more towards making me a good talker :) All in all, though, I love them all a lot, I mean, they’re the ones that basically raised me after the other units and I were activated.

Day 4, 28th January, 1980  

I was out in the fields today with Annabel again, and she was showing me some more different plant species, they’re all really neat, but I think I like the flowering ones the most because they’re really pretty! There’s these purplish ones called Campanula Poscharskyana, or trailing bellflowers, and they actually grow mostly in the winter, but they get pretty big and grow all over the place, even in the cracks of pavement, and they snake up walls. She told me they were edible, which means you can eat them, I mean, I’d certainly like to try, but I don’t think I’d have much luck! Another neat one is called Lamium Purpureum, also called red dead-nettles. That sounds… really bad, but these ones are actually edible, too? At least Annabel told me so, but they have these cool looking heart shaped leaves with serrated edges, and little roundish, purplish flowers that grow bunched up near where the leaves connect to the stem of the plant. Apparently, there’s another species close to it called the stinging nettle, which both plants taste really similar, but this one is kind of prickly. Aside from plants, we saw a lot of cool bugs, too! Annabel doesn’t specialize in bugs, but she still did her best to figure out what they all were. There was this really neat looking green one that she said might have been a green tiger beetle, and it was reeeally fast. She tried to go and get a closer look at it, and it ran away and made her practically jump out of her skin! I was really scared that it hurt her somehow at first, but she was fine.

Day 5, 29th January 1980  

We’re starting to tear everything down to cross into France today. The most I can say right now is that I’m a pretty good mixture of fear and anticipation? I don’t know what’s over there, and frankly, that makes it kind of exciting! Once we get there, we’re going to be meeting up with other small military groupings to plan out how we’re going to attack, then, I guess we head East. I think I’m going to miss all the cool stuff over here, I assume it’s not really different across the Strait of Dover, but I think I’ll notice the more minute things as we go along. Also, I’m kind of worried about Annabel. She seems so much more nervous about this whole thing than everyone else. Is she already getting homesick? I’ll have to ask her after we pack up our things. Did I mention I carry all our stuff? Because I do! Humans aren’t really strong enough to carry things like a whole tent and supplies over long distances, so they let the vehicles take over since we’re plenty strong enough. The only downside as far as I can tell, is that I can’t turn my turret to the right very far since I’ll just hit the tent if I try.

  Day 6, 30th January, 1980  

My crew and I were one of the first to finish packing. At the moment, we’re just waiting around for everyone else to finish, but with all the open space from tents being taken down, it’s a lot easier to navigate the place now. I’ve hung out with the other tanks often, but I don’t actually talk to them all that much, so I saw this as a good chance to get to know the others!

The first other bot I came across was Lucas, since he’s just a few tents down from me. He looks a lot like me since he’s a Challenger 2... too, but he has a different camo pattern and his crew painted our squadron’s insignia on either side of his turret. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned our insignia here? It’s just a charging bull with some orange flames behind it on a black backdrop; not all that original, but it’s ours, but back to Lucas, He’s pretty nice, more of the hyper type, but that’s because he practically mirrors his crew. I’m not saying I’m exempt from that, either! But it’s just kinda funny and endearing. He’s not into much of the same stuff as I am, which makes it hard to get very well acquainted, but I think it’s safe to say we’re on good terms. I mean, we have to be. After all, we’re here to have each others’ backs.

Florence is.. also a Challenger 2? It’s the most common tank in our squadron; of course I’m going to meet a lot of them. She actually looks a lot more like me since neither of us have any kind of special paint job, but she’s a very soft-spoken person who seems like she has the same appreciation of nature. We hit it off pretty well, and at some point my crew came over to visit and both our crews introduced themselves to each other, it was nice! I’m hoping we get to hang out often in the future. I saw quite a few of the other tanks in the division in passing, but most were still too busy getting ready to cross the strait to hold any worthwhile conversation. Maybe after we get into France, we can talk more.

  Day 7, 1st February, 1980  

Today’s the day! We started off some time early this morning to shore, and since we only had one landing ship, it took several trips to get everyone over. We’re in France, now, though! We landed near Calais, it was actually Gage that told me about all the different happenings of the previous world wars that took place here, and it’s actually quite humbling; going out to war on the same ground your ancestors marched on so long ago with the exact same goal. Now, though, after we all get adjusted to the unfamiliar soil, we set off for Lorraine, which is where we’re going to meet up with the other groups. If I recall correctly, including us, there’s going to be three tank squadrons, one armed battalion, and.. oh! One airborne squadron, I almost forgot to mention that; we only got updated on that yesterday. I don’t know what exactly we’ll be doing, but I’m sure we can plan out something interesting.

 

Week Two

Day 8, 2nd February, 1980  

Today feels.. awfully long. I’m actually writing this out as we drive to pass the time, but that’s… all we’ve been doing? We’ll take water breaks sometimes when we pass by ponds and streams, but beyond that, it’s a non-stop trip from here to Lorraine. The group in front of mine was playing this weird game called “I spy,” which I probably wouldn’t have batted an eye towards, but I was sooo bored; I asked if I could join and we played for a good hour or two. Who knew humans were so easily entertained? It’s almost contagious, but now that I think about it, I’ve seen a lot of instances of this. There’s this one two-player game where you just have a little three by three square board, and you pick a shape and take turns drawing them in certain spaces to try and make a line across said board. If I recall correctly, it was “Tic Tac Toe.” I guess it’s a good time killer, but it’s just so simple? You’d think it would get boring pretty quickly, but I watched two people a few tents down from me play it for a surprisingly long time. There’s also bottle flipping, which apparently used to be this huge trend, and the goal is to flip a bottle and make it land upright. Interesting enough, but you should SEE how they flip out when they actually succeed. It’s crazy! Anyways, I think we’re stopping somewhere further down along the road here, so I’m going to take a quick writing break, but you’ll know if I come back to write later tonight.

 

Yeah, okay, I’m back. I guess it wasn’t a non-stop trip after all? It’s getting dark, and we still have some distance to cover yet, so we’re stopping for the night and going the rest of the way in the morning. Setting up the tents again isn’t worth all the trouble, so human crews are just sleeping with their AI. Michael and Gage are just in their usual spots in my hull, but Annabel decided to sleep outside beside my turret? It’s adorable, really. I’m also very scared to move because I don’t want to wake her up. I’m really hoping it doesn’t rain, either, it’d be a shame if she got soaked; the blankets, too, but those can’t get sick in the rain.

Day 9, 3rd February, 1980  

We finally got to Thionville Lorraine this evening, and it’s very safe to say that this is the most fellow AI I’ve seen in one place in my entire.. short life. Not like any of the bots here are any older, but still. There’s a lot of cool stuff I’ve never seen or experienced before, though! Did you know American people sound different than British people do? I thought all languages had the same kind of accent, but I guess I stand corrected. There’s a lot of little differences in their speech patterns, too. And French people? A WHOLE different language. I know other languages exist, but it’s crazy to actually hear them, you know? Overhearing all the chatter is starting to give me a basic understanding of what they’re saying, but said understanding is still really patchy. I did say hi to some of the other AI, though! Most of the AI here have more modern vessels, but some have vessels from as far back as the Second World War, It’s pretty neat. Not only are they doing the same thing their ancestors did, but they’re even doing so through the same bodies? All I’m hoping is that we can all prove we’re worthy of following in their footsteps. I want to prove not only to the people around me, but also those before me that I’m more than capable of living up to their expectations.

  Day 10, 4th February, 1980  

I don’t know much about what’s going on today yet, since only the higher in command are part of the strategizing, but everyone’s setting up temporary living quarters, because even if we plan on staying here for a while, it’s not worth it to get too comfortable. ...As Michael explained to me. Since we still won’t be leaving for a bit, I went off with one of the American tanks I befriended, an Abrams, to the edge of the town we’re staying in and went to visit the planes in the nearby field! I don’t know if it’s obvious, but I’d never met a plane before and it was really exciting. They were all french, so it was a bit hard to talk with them, but they all seemed really patient about it, and it was nice. Most of them were Dassualt Rafales, but one of them really.. stood out to me? His name is Vérité, which apparently is the French word for truth; a very pretty word, if you ask me. I don’t know what it is about him, but he’s just very attention grabbing to me for some reason. Carter, that Abrams I mentioned earlier, was dogging me that I liked him, I mean, I do! He was really nice, but I don’t know what warranted him bothering me so much about it.

  Day 11, 5th February, 1980  

Another day of not much happening, but I tagged along with Annabel, mostly. She has such a set routine, it’s fascinating, she told me humans like patterns because they like predictability by nature, and honestly, I can’t blame them. It must be wonderful going about your day knowing exactly what you’re going to do. Well, we all essentially know what we’re here for, but I’ve been told that war is.. very unpredictable, and even more unforgiving. I don’t know just what that means yet, but it doesn’t help knowing that I’ll have to figure it out first hand. Back to our day, though! Unlike at the first camp, they actually cooked breakfast here today. Apparently it was food donated by the locals, which was really kind of them. I see them all around town often, but I’m told that I’m not supposed to talk to them much since they aren’t used to AI yet; especially Military AI. The smaller, presumably younger ones have approached me before, though. It’s mostly out of curiosity rather than actually aiming to interact with me, I think; I’ll see a few peeking out from behind a building, and if I make it obvious that I noticed them, they bolt. It’s kind of funny to see how long I can get them to stick around before one of us gets called out to do something elsewhere. It does seems like they’re getting much more used to us, which is certainly nice.

Day 12, 6th February, 1980  

Another somewhat uneventful day in the grand scheme of things, but I went off to see Vérité again; alone, this time. Like I mentioned before, neither of us have the same first language, so it’s made talking a bit difficult, but it seems like we’re both quite dedicated. The most we can achieve right now is just basic small talk, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy each other’s company, at least! We went to the edge of the woods; I would’ve wanted to try and go further out, but you can probably figure out pretty quickly that Vérité’s wings wouldn’t agree with that.

Verite: unit 2526
by Beetle3000
It was still wonderful, though. I talked a lot about whatever plant species I could identify, and though he probably couldn’t understand me very well, he was still visibly interested. Just hearing each other is enough for us, really. I didn’t know much of what he was talking about either when he was going more in depth in conversation; maybe his home location? Some of the similar word pronunciations tipped me off to that. We must’ve been out for a while, though, because some time into our walk, one of the humans from my squadron came up to us because they had no idea what I’d left for. Anyway, when it was starting to get dark out, I drove with Vérité back to his camp and hung around for a while longer to make sure he was fine, then I went back to my own camp to settle in for the night.

Day 13, 7th February, 1980  

There was an awful lot of tension in the air earlier, I had a feeling something big was going to be happening, and I was right. We got notice that not that far East, there was a surprise engagement between a neighboring allied group and a Russian battalion, and we’re supposed to be moving in ASAP to support them. I don’t know why, but I never expected to see combat so soon; it’s pretty anxiety inducing, but it’s also the very thing I’ve been anticipating since I was told it was my reason for living. It shouldn’t be too terrible, then again, we don’t know what exactly we’re up against, yet. The only message we got was that the allied group needed urgent backup from our group, and their coordinates. ...Exhilarating! It’s been a long time- relative to my life, that I’ve fired my gun, and I’ve been itching to get a chance to really do some damage with it. Anyways, I really need to help everyone pack up; It’s not terribly much, but still, the sooner we get out there, the better.

  Day 14, 8th February, 1980  

We’re leaving this morning, I have no idea how long we’re going to be out, but I’m not going to be writing here until everything calms down; it’s not something I need to be focusing on when there’s so much at stake. I’m going to try and keep this last entry short for my attention’s sake, but I don’t think we have much further to go, if I strain my audio receptors enough, I can hear the firing of the larger guns and cannons. Am I scared? Excited? A bit of both? I’m starting to question which one it is the closer we get, and I feel I’m only going to get more uncertain as time passes. ...Either way, Annabel told me that no matter what we do out here, we’re just doing our jobs... Is that supposed to be comforting?


What's up lads this is possibly the longest thing I've ever written, and I hyped it up like it was the story of the century but honestly this first chapter is (I hope) VERY mundane compared to the rest of the story.



Cover image: by beetle3000

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