When the play-fighting and friendly insults came to an end, Weis seemed to remember Ellie and co waiting patiently a few metres away.
"Hey, anyway Sarge, you better meet the rest of the folks I suppose."
The two groups came together and Weis began his introductions with Ellie.
"Sarge, this here is Miss Ellie. She's the big muckety-muck of our little expedition and something high-up amongst the bleedin' Troy family no less.
The untidy mass of ginger hair with a nose sticking out to indicate the front, bobbed up and down as it examined Ellie.
"This little bitty girl?"
Weis moved closer and whispered into the ginger.
"You be nice now Sarge. One word from her ladyship and you'll be back saluting things for a living."
Sarge reached out and took Ellie's hand in both of his own and began pumping it furiously.
"Don't mind me your highness. I've been too long amongst the natives, done lost my manners. It's a mother-fucking pleasure to have you here and that's a plain old fact."
The only reason Sarge wasn't a stain on the ground at this point was because Victor had deftly stepped in front of Gregor and muttered a few words of pig-Latin up in the nick of time.
"Almcay ownday , igbay uygay."
The 'big guy' 'calmed down' but the glare remained fixed. Weis noted the slight tension and sought to deflect it.
"Aaaaand the lady standing next to her is a professor or archelogy, Professor Something - Something, Something-Hill to you and me."
Sarge transferred is attention to Bodil, leaving Ellie to wring some life back into her fingers.
"Proff, it's a pleasure to meet you too. You take a good look around camp, half the old-timers here dang near qualify as fossils if'n you ask me."
"That's palaen..." But that was as far as Bodil got because Weis was now physically manoeuvring Sarge down the line."
"The big bloke here is Gregor. Don't rile him up and mind your Ps and Qs around the ladies or he'll happily remind you into the ground."
Sarge didn't get a chance to do more than open his mouth before Weis steered him away towards a smiling Victor.
"This handsome devil is Victor. He's sweet on the proff there, so you might want to bear that in mind too."
Victor found this amusing; back up the line, Bodil found it less so and the sudden colour in her cheeks suggested she may be having words with the little Ranger later.
Weis had moved on to where Amy and Cybil stood together looking a little overcome by the size, bustle and smell of the Cam's Bridge settlement.
As Sarge loomed up in front of them they simultaneously took a step backwards.
It wasn't that Sarge was particularly big or anything; he was just, well, not like anything, sorry anyone, they had ever come across before.
But that was as far as they got before the always cheerful Weis had squeezed between them and draped an arm across each of their shoulders.
"And these two delightful..."
"Ranger Weis!" Doctor Awolowo placed himself meaningfully between the diminutive ranger and his hirsute friend. He did not look happy.
"Ranger Weis, it is highly inappropriate of you two impose yourself on mine and professor Hill's assistants like this."
Weis let go of the girls immediately.
"Sorry Doc," He turned to the assistants. "Forgive me ladies, I, er got a bit carried away there for a minute. Looking a little like a whipped puppy, Weis turned back to Doctor Awolowo.
"It's just that me an' the Sarge go back a long way. It was him wot vouched for me and got me into the Rangers, see."
While the rest of the party watched, partly amused and partly (the part in question being Ellie) impatient to get on. Doctor Awolowo harumphed and dismounted his rather small pony.
"Yes well... In loco-parentis and all that. Just erm, just watching out for the er... the..." He harumphed again "Yes, well no harm done I suppose.
" Having said his piece, he receded into the background where he was most comfortable.
Amy and Cybil rolled their eyes at each other, slightly annoyed at the paternal stance the doctor had taken over their moral welfare.
Ellie cursed under her breath, then went into leadership mode.
"Right well, now that the introductions have been made," She crossed the few feet to where Sarge still stood looking at the two young assistants.
"Maybe we could get on and see this marvellous machine I've been promised?"
"Sure thing your eminence, right this way. Don't mind the mess in there, Goliath is in shit-hot condition and ready to go.
" Sarge continued talking while he led Ellie, with the rest of the party falling in behind, through the small door and into the warehouse.
"I fire the old girl up once a week regular as clockwork and trundle her out onto the quay to give motors the once over and make sure everything is up to spec."
Once inside, the uniformed archaeologists looked up in awe at what greeted them. Ellie exchanged looks with Victor and Gregor. Weis just stood grinning like a kid in a toyshop.
Sarge held his arms out as if to embrace the enormous vehicle that seemed to stare down at them.
"Folks, I'd like y'all to meet Goliath."
Slowly, the party approached,
taking in as much as they could of the thing that was going to transport them through the hostile jungle that had taken over the once green and pleasant land of Grande Bretagne,
or Great Britain as the locals termed their homeland.
Goliath was huge. Maybe five metres tall to the top of the twin-barrelled turret that squatted on top of its roof. Probably the same wide, and double that in length.
But Goliath was articulated and the rear section was at least as long and even taller than the front section.
The afore-mentioned turret had, besides the two squat cannon barrels, twin anti-personnel missile launchers.
On the front of the lead section, and what made Ranger Weis almost purr was a dangerous-looking multi-barrelled minigun.
Sarge gave the newcomers a couple of minutes to take in Goliath's fine attributes before launching into his spiel.
From the way the words came out of his mouth it was obvious that Sarge was in love with his charge.
"Goliath's tractor weighs in at a hundred and thirty tons. The command trailer on the back there is closer to a hundred and sixty but it carries the bulk of the fuel reserve.
The tractor is armed, as you can see with twin 10cm semi-howitzer cannon.
Now, these things have been adapted to deliver low velocity scientific packages which we don't have, but there are also ten, and only ten, real-life high explosive rounds...
that's five for each barrel by the way."
By now, Sarge had worked his way to the front of the group and stood with Goliath behind him.
"Also, on the turret are two, 2cm missile packets which can be loaded up with a variety of ordnance; smoke, frag,
incendiary and handy-dandy little things which have remote or delayed detonators. You will find boxfuls of each inside. Up front is Ramona; Goliath's 7.
62mm six-barrel minigun with a variable rate of fire up to 7,000rpm. Trust me, you do not want to be on the receiving end of Ramona when she gets angry.
The tractor also has between 20mm and 30mm of armour. The thicker armour on the front and undersides.
The tractor is powered by two marine gas turbine engines, one for each eight-wheel axel, and producing 6,000 hp each." He winked at Cybil.
"If'n you want all the sexy torque details, come and see me later."
Sarge moved along the side of Goliath until he came to the trailer.
"The trailer part is unarmed, but carries a variety of command and communications equipment... should you ever need to call for back-up.
" Sarge paused in his narrative to give Ellie a meaningful stare.
"You won't likely get it 'cause as far as I know, we don't have none, but you might want to use it to get air transport if you find yourselves in a 'we're all gonna fucking die' scenario.
Now where was I? Oh yes. The trailer does have a degree of self-propulsion, but this is only for small positioning manoeuvres or if you want to move a few metres to take in the sunset.
It is NOT designed to travel far by itself and if you try it' you will burn out the damn motors. The trailer has anti-small arms armour only...
plenty enough to keep out pipe-gun fire but if the Bru-Mei have high velocity weaponry... which they do, then anyone inside is gonna be vulnerable to a lucky shot finding a weak spot.
Okay folks, any questions?"