Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Location: Rangstadt, Allied Europe, Earth, NEC
|Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:13 am Post subject: BT05: Things have Changed II
|Hot Helios sunlight poured down onto the Pacifica range, unflitered by nothing more than a thin layer of silt and haze in the upper atmosphere. Hardy badlands plants withered and died beneath the unblinking eye, and animals hid or expired beneath their rocks. It was the sort of day that cared not one whit for wars or the troubles of men, and proved the dominance of the natural order over man's efforts once again.
Men, however, were stubborn. They regularily defied the natural order usually at their own expense. Sometimes they did this voluntarily. At other times they did this at the behest of another. Other times yet they did so because the man in the hat told them so. Thirty two soldiers, men and women, stood in heavy combat fatigues, at attention and in formation, beneath Helios's unblinking eye. Black Talon recruits, the best of the best, the finest warriors that war-forged Terranova had to offer. They stood straight-backed and sweltering, slowly roasting alive under intense solar radiation; their skin was pink and would soon go lobster-red as they waited.
They were haggard and weary. Denied the technological luxuries of their Black Talon counterparts, these recruits had only the most basic desert survival clothing. The thin thermal bodysock struggled to wick away heat and moisture, unable to keep up. Their water bladders had long since emptied, leaving them so tired and dehydrated that their tongues were swollen in their dry mouths. They had the look of defeat about them, all save in their eyes, which still blazed defiantly beneath the fatigue.
All save two. Two of the soldiers remained tight-jawed, stock straight, and unconcerned for the blistering heat. One of the two had spent his entire life under this sun, and a great portion of it training pups like these - the other portion of it he spent shooting Earthers and rovers. The other of the two had just spent the past Cycle in the coldest depths of the Gate Web, billions of kilometers from the closest friendly base. No doubt he thought the excersize a welcome respite from the cold.
Sergeant Ardelmos Roland spared his glance from the block of dishevelled troopers out across the stark desert. He soured. He had spent all of the last Cycle looking across landscapes just like these. He had hoped that his return to Terra Nova would have brought him more green. However, he was asked along on this review by Sergeant McGuinness, whom he had met at his own training. It was hard to say no to a drill sergeant.
McGuinness stood alongside the trainees, their ranks meaningless beneath his hard eyes. He seemed immaculate. His uniform creases were perfect, the buttons polished and bright. His chin and jaw gleamed blue, as if he had buffed it after his shave. He didn't sweat a drop, nor was he the slightest bit red. "Training Platoon! I'm told that you are the best that our magnificent planet has to offer. I'm told that you won't find a finer soldier than you will in the ranks of the Black Talons! Faster, tougher, smarter, deadlier - more than a match for any Mordred or Morgana."
Roland smirked slightly, masking the grin by chewing his bubblegum. He had renewed his supply since returning to New Peace River. McGuinness continued as his traineers melted into their boots.
"No doubt each one of you is up to the task. Who's tired? Anyone tired?" His stern face slowly split into a grin at the chorus of haggard "No, Sergeant!" that warbled from the group. No matter what they said, they were extremely tired. It was no wonder that there was a medevac hopper up on the nearby ridge. The trainees had been out here awhile. A week of desert survival training and hide-and-seek with an off-duty Talon team would wring anyone ragged.
"Good! Didn't think so - no soldier of mine would get beaten by a little camping trip in the outback." Roland couldn't tell if McGuiness was actually cheerful, or if he was forcing it as part of his act. The drill sergeant unslung the rifle from his shoulder and held it up so that everyone could see. "THIS is the Paxton Arms RS-404 Gear Sortie Rifle! It fires a 9mm deployed-fin-stabilized variable-warhead round at muzzle speeds of upwards of one thousand meters per second, to a range of 840 meters. It is capable of *doing* so at nearly a thousand rounds per minute!"
As he spoke, orderlies ran out from the nearby tent with rifle crates and ammunition, which they set in front of the training platoon. "Black Talon teams are being outfitted with this weapon system on their return to Terra Nova. You, due to your *sterling* performace and *spotless* records have been deemed a worthy enough asset to receive this weapon for your first sortie! In celebration of this fact, we are staying on mission for an extra two days to familiarize ourselves with this weapon system. Congratulations!"
Roland had to grin at the groan that arose from the soldiers. McGuinness had been hand-picked by General Aschenbach himself to "welcome" soldiers to the Talons. The man was more cruel than a southern Emir, and could smile as he stuck the knife in your back.
"We are all fortunate enough to have a real Talon operator off assignment with us to demonstrate the weapon system. Sergeant Ardelmos, Black Talon 05, we have set up a target for you." He held out the rifle to Roland. It didn't really surprise him. This seemed like something he'd do to a special guest. Roland hadn't even heard of this rifle yet, much less fired one. He had no idea how the thing would react. Still, there wasn't a gun made that he was intimidated by - even those pointed at him. He popped a bubble and took the rifle.
It was light, lighter than he thought it would have been. It wasn't custom designed to fit his hands and reach, though, and he realized that he had become spoiled with his custom-made weapons provided by the Talons. This was a great feeling rifle and all he could think about was how it was missing the comfortable thumb groove on the stock. He frowned and adjusted his grip. He needed to get back to basics.
Then he looked up and grinned, for two reasons. First was that the target he had been provided was well outside of 800 meters - probably closer to a thousand. McGuinness was testing him as much as he was the trainees - or he wanted to show them just how far they had to go. Probably both.
The second reason was because the target wans't the usual black and white man-shape with rings showing vitals. This was a metal Mordred plackard, purple and ugly, brandishing a minigun like it was a pistol. He had only met McGuinness a few times, but the man knew just what buttons to press.
Normal procedure would have been to lay down on your belly, regulate your breathing, aim for a few moments and then gently squeeze the trigger. Roland, however, was as much a sergeant as McGuinness was, and he had no doubts that after a few more missions he'd be back here in the Pacifica range, kicking trainee asses for a living. He was thinking on the same wavelength as McGuinness was.
He swivelled at the hip to aim at the target, raising the rifle in one smooth motion to his shoulder. Sight. Exhale. Squeeze the trigger. Pop-pop-pop. He was pleasantly surprised by the weapon - almost no kick, and he had let out a three round burst. It was a 9mm that kicked like a pellet gun. Almost disappointing, really.
The clatter of rounds against metal sounded off in the wake of the gun's report as Roland rested the gun back against his shoulder, the rifle high in the air. He popped another bubble and looked back at McGuinness.
"Thank you, Sergeant Ardelmos!" McGuiness barked loudly, all
business. "Training platoon, come forward for your weapons by squad!"
Paxton Arms RS-404 Gear Sortie Carbine Rifle
* 4.2 kg, 850mm
* 0 ACC
* BR 105/210/420/840
* ROF +3
* Round Options:
** Ball: x25 AI (50 round clip or 80 round long clip)
** HEAT: x22 AI, HEAT, AP (20 round short clip)
** Scatter: x14 BR 5/10/20/40 AI FRAG WIDE ANGLE 1 (50 round clip)
(Scatter 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.)