Gunney spoke to me. “You wanna’ sit in the turret, kid?”
“Do I ever…” I breathed.
The two men helped me climb up on the small padded seat in the center of the vehicle. I glanced back at them.
Gunney said, “Don’t worry, it’s safe – you can’t blow anything up right now.”
I grabbed the two handles and pressed my eyes to the periscope. This is way better than my game visor, I thought. This is real.
I slewed the turret around and scanned the campsite, zooming in on one cluster of boys who were obviously playing “war”. I centered the crosshairs on the largest kid in the group and shouted,
“Pew, pew! Ka-pwing! You’re dead, Mikey!”
Suddenly I overheard a voice on the intercom. “Captain, we got a flying bogie, incoming. You might wanna take a look.”
Captain Griswold suddenly appeared at the back of the Stryker. Striding briskly up the ramp, he said,
“I’ll take over from here, kid.” The big rear hatch swung up and clanged shut. The interior of the Stryker was bathed in a soft red light. I quickly climbed down from the turret, using my crutches, and the Captain took my place. I watched him power up the laser and scan the various displays.
“Yep – looks like a flying drone, beating the bushes for us. Easy meat. Invisibility cloak – on.”
He pressed a button. I looked around the interior of the Stryker. It still looked perfectly visible to me. But glancing at the exterior display screen, I noticed that the other Stryker had vanished.
The Captain slewed the turret around and pressed his eyes to the periscope, mumbling, “We don’t wanna’ blow it outta’ the sky, or they’ll know where we are – just cook its optics so it can’t see anymore.”
I watched him study the target for a time. Then he pressed the trigger button on the periscope, and I heard a faint click.
The Captain dismounted. “Done – that drone is blind as a bat, now. If it ever makes it back to base, they’ll have no clue what happened to it. Cloak is off. Carry on, men.”
Sergeant Patten spoke. “You want a lift back to camp, Robert?”
“Nah… I think I can make it on my own. Thanks, guys!”
When I got back to camp, I saw Mikey and his gang still running around, shooting at each other with their fingers. Mikey paused.
“Hey, Hopalong! You wanna play war with us?”
I smiled. “Nah… I already did.”