Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Location: Rangstadt, Allied Europe, Earth, NEC
|Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:38 am Post subject: BT05: Things Have Changed
|Things had changed on Terra Nova in Black Talon 05's absence.
Pathfinder floated beside Baja station like a glimmering black beetle beside a tinker-toy nightmare. The station was constructed in a hurry and seemed almost frighteningly fragile. It was composed in the most part by the discarded bellies of one-use rocket fuel bottles welded together into rings, then into spokes. It was a tiny scrapyard Monolith station. How fitting that Terranova's monument to the great shipyards would be made of corroded wreckage. Still, defencive lasers studded the torus, and fighters hung docked from the spokes. This junkyard had dawgs behind the gate.
The station was ostensibly a Polar construct, paid for jointly by the Southern Republic and United Mercantile Federation. However, it was solidly Black Talon country and no one denied the fact. Two more Furies hung at their moorings alongside Pathfinder, as well as a fat Paxton Arms transit shuttle. when Black Talon 05 had left Terra Nova the presence of three Talon teams would have represented a major portion of the programs' force. Now it was simply another training schedule underway. Things had changed.
Aaron Birkin ran his hand through his hair as the Talon debarked onto Terranovan soil - soil only loosely, but he could tell that it was home. The air, bottled though it was, smelled Terranovan. He inhaled deeply as if the stale metallic tang was a glacial breeze. Everyone in the debarkation team seemed to relax visibly.
Tynes addressed the group of them. He looked tired, maybe thinner and more gaunt. They must all have seemed so. Their cycle-long mission was longer than most military teams ever expected to be in field, and far deeper into enemy territory than any commando team had ever gone in human history. Aaron felt tired. That didn't stop him from listening, though. A soldier that couldn't stand at attention and listen to orders didn't belong in the Republican Army. And Aaron was a Republican's Republican.
"No speeches. Bunks are in the ring, bubble 22 - any room that says T05 will do. They're all ours for the next week. Debrief is tomorrow at 0800. After that we go through our kit, pack our Gears for the garage teams, and have a medical review. Then we take the Paxton bus dirtside. Find a bed and take the rest of the day off. Get some sleep."
Tynes didn't like flowery speeches, and Aaron gave him grudging respect for the fact. He was unlike what he had expected from a Northern commander, and showed almost Republican cleverness in battle. Though he likely would never admit it to his buddies back home, he actually liked his Norlight commander.
The group diffused apart. Though there was only one way to their bunks, it was silently understood that, after living in the same tin can as the rest of the team for a full Cycle, they really needed time apart. This station was the first opportunity for friendly, Terranovan faces that Aaron hadn't spent the past Cycle staring at. Maybe even a pretty female one, if he was lucky. And Aaron Birkin almost always considered himself lucky.
Two hours later, he would certainly be feeling lucky. It's hard to not feel lucky with a gorgeous girl in your arms, and that is exactly the situation Aaron was in. Unlike the thought in his head some hours ago, though, this girl wasn't 180cm, 50kg and with curves more subtle than Aggie's flight paths through the Blessed Asteroid Belt. no, this girl was almost 1/20 as heavy, a third as tall, and made of carbon honeycomb polymer weave. He oogled his newest romance with broad eyes that drank in the rifle's length.
Terra Nova had been busy. Talon 05 and several other teams had brought a wealth of information and captured booty from Earth, and Paxton Arms Talonwerks' teams had been almost entirely diverted into dissecting the goods. The results were promising.
Sergeant Chelms (Norguard) of the 77th had waved Birkin over when the talon showed up at the gun range to let out a few rounds, and was happy to show off the latest toy. "IK-5 7mil Suppression Rifle. Half the weight of the R36, same stopping power, and the slide rail makes her kick softer than a newborn. Spits out a thousand rounds a minute, and has a 40 round stick or 180 round box. Beauty of a gun. Northco's pumping them out in the thousands for the big push."
Birkin whistled lowly at the northern infantryman. Chelms certainly didn't seem like much of an infantryman by looking at him. Almost scarecrow thin, tall like a weed, and with prematurely wrinkled skin that made him look like a bit of a turtle. He certainly looked like he knew how to handle a gun, though, and the chevrons on his shoulder was evidence enough. He blinked like a lizard might as Aaron cleared the action and turned the gun over in his hands.
"What's this potato-tube?" Aaron pointed at the stubby cylinder beneath the weapons' barrel, where a grenade launcher would normally go. Chelms explained. "Mission pack. That one's a three-fire flechette spud." Terranovan millitaries the planet over colloquially called rocket-propelled grenades "spuds" for their shape and their matte-brown surface. Aaron knew the lingo just as much as Chelms did.
"Mission pack, you say. You mean there's variants, and you can switch'em in field?"
Chelms nodded. "RPG or flechette launcher, markerlight, smoke, incendiary, starshell. Peekaboo omnicam. Rumour has it there's a headhunter pack, too, but I've never seen one."
Aaron whistled again and ran his hand down the weapons' side. "Shit. You boys've been busy."
Chelms shrugged in a completely unimpressive way. "No choice. This is war."
"Glad to hear that Terra Nova is taking things more seriously, finally."
Chelms frowned and his eyebrows knit together. It made him look a little like bushy wings were perched upon his brow, angling down towards the bridge of his nose. His scalp wrinkled as he did it. "Haven't had much choice in that either. You don't know what's happened, do you?"
Aaron looked up at the Norguard sergeant, forgetting about the gun in his hands.
He had nothing to hold on to, no rail or chair arms, nothing to strangle and nothing to break. His hands balled into fists so tightly that the muscles in his forearms bulged and his knuckles went red, then white. His breathing halted, then chattered out in a noisy torrent. His vision swam.
No amount of anger-blurred vision could hide what he saw, though. The satellite footage was live, from the very station he was on. Chelms stood beside him as he watched the emerald and sapphire carpet of the Southern Republic scroll by beneath his feet and beneath his eyes.
The emerald was marred, a flaw in the jewel. Newton, on the shores of Lake Esperance, was gone.
It took a moment for him to realize that the crater was in fact not as big as his first glance, and that the city lived on at its fringes, but that did nothing to marr the gut-wrenching sight of a massive, noble Republican city turned into a smouldering pit of ash. He shuddered and could not yet catch his breath.
Chelms spoke, sadly. "Happened just ten days ago. Antimatter bomb, Terran insurgents. Not as bad as it looks, though."
Aaron didn't respond, just stared.
"Republicans put the toll at thirty thousand dead, three times as much wounded. They're still counting, though. The whole world's come together to help. And to help us up here."
Aaron still didn't respond.
"I'll, ah, let you alone awhile." Chelms backed off, leaving Aaron to stare at the view plate. Eventually the cratered city slid sideways off of the screen, but he stared minutes yet afterwards.
Paxton Arms IK-5 7mm Suppression Rifle
* 3.7 kg, 1000mm
* 0 ACC
* BR 100/200/400/800
* ROF +3
* Round Options:
** Ball: x24 AI (40 round clip or 180 round box magazine)
** Hollow-Point: x18 AI AP (40 round clip or 180 round box magazine)
** RPG Launcher (3 shots, -1 ACC, 40/80/120/240, DM by grenade)
** Flechette Launcher (3 shots, x14, 0 ACC, 5/10/20/40, FRAG, AI, WIDE ANGLE 1)
** Markerlight (TD 3)
(Flechette shells do double damage to infantry targets due to the FRAG perk, but any armour they may have is doubled in effectiveness. They fire in a 10 degree spray.)