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Coalition Wars - IC Thread

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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Up north, in the former US state of Wisconsin, we find the Coalition States forward operating base known as Camp Rico. Named for an officer in the Marine Corps from the time of the post-Rifts apocalypse reconstruction, Camp Rico is hardly a 'camp' anymore, having grown in size over the years, it is now one of the larger northern bases of the Coalition military. Under the command of General Wesley Cooper, Camp Rico now sports tens of thousands of troops and many Skelebot divisions.

Dannigan Dannigan
We start in the offices of Captain Emilio Cruz, commanding officer of the Warlords Company of the 7th Light Armored Cavalry division. Along with Capt Cruz, the office holds First Lieutenant Amy Summer and Second Lieutenant Carlton Allen. As the two of you enter, Capt. Cruz is seated behind his desk waiting for you. He returns your salute with a wave of his hand and leans back in his seat.

"Lieutenants. Good to see the two of you. I have been going over your personnel files, and I have decided to assign you both to my 4th Platoon It suffered some fairly sizable casualties recently in the fighting around Tolkeen, and is now being rebuilt. Lt. Summer, you are going to be in charge of the platoon, and Lt. Allen here is going to be in charge of your air wing. I require maximum cohesion between the two of you. Lt. Summer, I am fully aware of the reports of your last command, and I expect that there will be no repeats of the events of that day. Am I clear?"

"Crystal, sir." Summer stays locked into the position of attention, eyes staring straight ahead.

Cruz nods. "Good. Lt. Allen. Since those bars on your shoulder are still very new, I am giving you one of my best NCOs to aid you in running the SAMAS wing. His name is MSG Alphonse King, and he is a very experienced trooper, and this will not be his first rodeo. Listen to him, but remember, you are the one making the call out there. It is not a sign of weakness for you to depend on King; in fact, if you ask him for his input, he will respect you more than if you ignore him."

He looks up at the two of you, and goes on to say, "You are both getting a mix of green and experienced troopers, but all of them have been through training and have all done well enough to be picked for the Warlords. Look over the files that have been loaded onto your data tablets and get to know your people. You have . . . forty six hours before you are to be on the move to join the rest of the company in the field. Your mission is a simple one. Just keep watch on the northern border and put down any DBee activity that you come across. Nice and simple; just the thing to get your feet wet out there. Now, do either of you have any questions before I dismiss you?"


Rykon Rykon and Silanon Silanon
You two are currently sitting inside a large vehicle bunker next to the APC that is your home away from home when you guys are deployed out in the field. Think of it as a RV camper with lots of guns. The APC, affectionately called Gloria, has just gotten out of the repair yard and is looking sharp once more, especially compared to the mauling it and you had both received on your last excursion. Casualties were pretty high in your last run, and you are currently missing over half of the old hands that were assigned in the APC, including the platoon leadership. Right now, the mood in the bunker is not good as the current team grouses and goes through the motions of maintaining their gear.

One of the grunts can be heard saying, "I've heard that we're getting some new officer named Summer to replace Lt. Billings."

"Yeah, I heard that, too. If it is the same Lt. Summer that I've heard of, she walked away from a deployment that killed off her entire platoon."

"Shit. After what we went through our last time out, we drew this bad card? Why does the universe hate us so much? This lieutenant is probably going to end up killing us all off, too."

The reply to this is cut off by the loud cry of, "At ease!" Everyone scrambles to their feet as a tall man comes walking into the bunker, looking very sharp in his field uniform and the rank of Master Sergeant on his collar. All of you recognize him as MSG Alphonse King, the top kick of the third platoon of the company. He looks around at the soldiers standing in the position of parade rest, then says, "As you were. Gather 'round. Ladies and gentlemen, for those that don't know me, I am Master Sergeant Alphonse King, and as of now, I have been reassigned to this platoon to help rebuild it after your last deployment."

Grins spread across the bay from this bit of good news. Everyone is thinking the same thing; your odds of surviving the next trip out into the field have just gone up.

King continues with, "Now, just to keep you in the loop, we are getting a pair of new officers and a bunch of nuggets to replenish our ranks. You will give these new officers your highest level of respect and obedience, and I fully expect that you will help our newbies to successfully integrate themselves into our team and show them how things are really done out here in the field compared to what they are taught in training. Get yourselves ready to roll. We deploy in forty six hours to meet up with the other elements of our company. Just remember, we are Warlords! And Warlords get it done right! Our company has had the highest level performance reviews of the entire battalion for a reason, and that reason is because we are the best!"

When he says this, the assembled soldiers let out a loud and resounding, "OORAH!"

King then says, "Our nuggets are due to arrive within the hour, and I expect that the new LT will want to address us all at that time. Make sure you and your gear are all squared away, or I'll have to give you a boot polish injection up your asses to get you properly motivated! Now, if you have any concerns for me, my door is always open."


Vaneheart Vaneheart and Sherwood Sherwood
Despite the low droning of the engines of transport, or perhaps it is because of it, the two of you find yourselves dozing off as you fly your way to Camp Rico for your field deployment. For Bronson, this is a good opportunity for cross-training away from the wet spray of the Great Lakes. For Stacey, this is your first deployment out of EOD training. As the transport flies along, you can hear the youthful chatter of several of the younger members getting ready for their first field deployments, too.

According to your orders, you are to be assigned to the 4th platoon in the 7th Light Armored Cavalry, and from what you can hear from the newbies with you, several of the passengers of this transport are also going there. Rumors are flying as to just what happened to the platoon that caused so many new bodies being transferred in, ranging from a simple shuffling of bodies to a mass casualty event. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but only time will tell.

The sudden change of the sound of the engines signal to you that you are approaching the Camp.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Sergeant, no, Lieutenant Ridge is in a ready mood. Ridge feels had been out of action too long and the desire to get back into the thick of it was on him like a saddle made of fire.

The last time Ridge had seen combat, his body was flesh-and-blood. Ridge had thought he was dying. Now he had a new body, a Full Conversion Cyborg body, but the directive? The directive hadn't changed - succeed in whatever mission is given him and bring his people home alive.

Listen to him, but remember, you are the one making the call out there. It is not a sign of weakness for you to depend on King; in fact, if you ask him for his input, he will respect you more than if you ignore him."

"Wilco, sir," Ridge replies if the captain provides the opportunity. Wilco is shorthand for "will comply" and Ridge likes the sound of it as it leaves him, for he knows he means it.

Your mission is a simple one. Just keep watch on the northern border and put down any DBee activity that you come across. Nice and simple; just the thing to get your feet wet out there. Now, do either of you have any questions before I dismiss you?"

"Only one, sir," Ridge's electronic voice comes across as serious with a touch of the predator in him. He looks to and indicates Lieutenant Summers before turning to Captain Cruz. "With Lieutenant Summer's permission, I request the air wing to have access to heavy ordnance."

If and only if Summers or Cruz ask him to elaborate does he add the following. Otherwise, he replies curtly. "Three reasons. First, I want to send a message to the D-Bees. If the D-Bees have hostile intentions and are knocking on our door, I want to answer... by blowing their door off its hinges.

"Secondly, this is a new unit. I want to see how our people respond when using heavy weapons, especially under fire. Not everyone is comfortable with particle beams, missile launchers, grenade launchers, explosives, and the like. If they are unused to, or uncomfortable with, these weapons, I want to know now and not later when things get hot." Ridge was Special Forces. He expected things to get hot.

"And third, I want the biggest and best equipment available to protect the APC and everyone in it, sir, along with my people in the air."

He did not bother bringing up the fourth reason. Lt. Ridge felt the bigger the guns he had, the better the chances his people would come back. But he very strongly wanted this next mission to be nothing like his last!

He wonders if he and Lieutenant Summers have that in common. It sure seems like it.

Lt. Ridge remains at attention and awaits the response with seemingly endless patience.
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Despite the low droning of the engines of transport, or perhaps it is because of it, the two of you find yourselves dozing off as you fly your way to Camp Rico for your field deployment. For Bronson, this is a good opportunity for cross-training away from the wet spray of the Great Lakes. For Stacey, this is your first deployment out of EOD training. As the transport flies along, you can hear the youthful chatter of several of the younger members getting ready for their first field deployments, too.
Stacey enjoys the sound of the transport, be it the low hum of the engines or the cross-talk of the other people on it. It all means that she is about to be in the middle of it, plying her skills and doing her part to keep her friends and family safe from the threat of otherworldly monsters. She doesn't join in the chatter unless someone directly addresses her, instead she leans back in her seat with her eyes closed, just waiting for the troop transport to get to the Camp.
According to your orders, you are to be assigned to the 4th platoon in the 7th Light Armored Cavalry, and from what you can hear from the newbies with you, several of the passengers of this transport are also going there. Rumors are flying as to just what happened to the platoon that caused so many new bodies being transferred in, ranging from a simple shuffling of bodies to a mass casualty event. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but only time will tell.
Several people here are all going to the same unit as I am. I wonder why there are so many going to this platoon? Perhaps it is a benign reason, or perhaps it was due to contact with something hostile. The only way I'll ever know why is to get there and see what the other members of the platoon have to say for themselves. She shifts in her seat, trying to get comfortable and put these questions out of her mind.
The sudden change of the sound of the engines signal to you that you are approaching the Camp.
With this, she opens up her eyes and sits up, checking her watch to see the time and feeling somewhat surprised that she did manage to get some sleep to make the flight go by faster. Stacey stretches, then reaches down and grabs her duffle bag, getting ready to shuffle her way to the door and out into the afternoon sun at Camp Rico once more.
 

Rykon

Four Thousand Club
Josh could feel the wavering balance of fear and hope in the unit at this news. Rumors like this never sat well with him, the men were quick to judge and just as quick to cling for what hope was offered to them. Better for him to meet these transfers for himself than speculate on hearsay and assumptions. For now, morale seemed on the rise and that was enough. He took a moment to review the state of his gear, stow it away and prepare for inspection and the arrival of the recruits. Let's see how this plays out.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
"Only one, sir," Ridge's electronic voice comes across as serious with a touch of the predator in him. He looks to and indicates Lieutenant Summers before turning to Captain Cruz. "With Lieutenant Summer's permission, I request the air wing to have access to heavy ordnance."
Capt. Cruz reaches into his desk and pulls out a cigar and lights it up, all the while looking up at the two of you. Finally, he says, "The APC standard ordnance has been updated while you were in the hospital to include heavy hand held weapons for the new SAMAS powered armor, available depending on the mission requirements. I see no reason to arbitrarily deny you access to the gear that might save lives out there."
If and only if Summers or Cruz ask him to elaborate does he add the following. Otherwise, he replies curtly. "Three reasons. First, I want to send a message to the D-Bees. If the D-Bees have hostile intentions and are knocking on our door, I want to answer... by blowing their door off its hinges.

"Secondly, this is a new unit. I want to see how our people respond when using heavy weapons, especially under fire. Not everyone is comfortable with particle beams, missile launchers, grenade launchers, explosives, and the like. If they are unused to, or uncomfortable with, these weapons, I want to know now and not later when things get hot." Ridge was Special Forces. He expected things to get hot.
Cruz continues to puff on his cigar as Ridge speaks, then looks over at Lt. Summer and says, "I suspect that you are going to have your hands full with this one. Just remember, the Coalition has spent a shit-ton of money on training of you and your team, not to mention the cost of putting you back together after you were ripped up by those bugs. I don't want heroes, I want soldiers that do the job and come back home. It is your duty to make sure that happens. Do you get me?"
"And third, I want the biggest and best equipment available to protect the APC and everyone in it, sir, along with my people in the air."
The captain nods, saying, "We are on the advance list to get a shipment of Super SAMAS suits delivered to us. I can say that my advance teams of APC crews are on the short list to get those heavy hitters ASAP, so once they are here, you will be getting the new suits."

He jabs a stubby finger at the two of you, and says, "Lieutenants, this is supposed to be a low threat patrol, but I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing. You will make contact with the enemy, and when you do, your orders are clear. Respond to the threat with the overwhelming force that has kept humanity alive and well in this DBee infested world. Don't try and be heroes. All that will get you is a plot of earth and a fancy inscription on your tombstone. Now, you have forty six hours before your platoon rolls. If you wish to spend that time performing live weapon drills and training, check with Chief Cobb to see which range is open to take you."

As he talks, Capt. Cruz glances out the window of his office at a heavy troop transport that is coming in for a landing. "Hm. Looks like the rest of your squad is arriving right on schedule. Let King gather them up and put the fear of God into them, then you can go and inspect your men and their gear. I would be surprised if you find anything out of order once King is done with them. It will give you both time to look over their personnel files to see what you are dealing with out there. Now, step it out. We all have work to do."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Finally, he says, "The APC standard ordnance has been updated while you were in the hospital to include heavy hand held weapons for the new SAMAS powered armor, available depending on the mission requirements. I see no reason to arbitrarily deny you access to the gear that might save lives out there."

Lt. Ridge grins heartily on the inside. "Thank you, sir."

I don't want heroes, I want soldiers that do the job and come back home. It is your duty to make sure that happens. Do you get me?"

"Yes, sir. I don't want any of our people to wind up like me or worse. It's the D-Bees turn again to suffer and die, sir." Ridge says this remembering all of the Xiticix that died while killing him.

The captain nods, saying, "We are on the advance list to get a shipment of Super SAMAS suits delivered to us. I can say that my advance teams of APC crews are on the short list to get those heavy hitters ASAP, so once they are here, you will be getting the new suits."

They were on the short-list to Super SAMASes? This news pleases Ridge to no end. The Super SAMAS was the Corvette of the Sky. Hard-hitting and hard-to-kill, it was the finest SAMAS he had hoped to pilot for it was the finest SAMAS thus far ever made.

If you wish to spend that time performing live weapon drills and training, check with Chief Cobb to see which range is open to take you."

"Oh. I do, sir."

As he talks, Capt. Cruz glances out the window of his office at a heavy troop transport that is coming in for a landing. "Hm. Looks like the rest of your squad is arriving right on schedule. Let King gather them up and put the fear of God into them, then you can go and inspect your men and their gear. I would be surprised if you find anything out of order once King is done with them. It will give you both time to look over their personnel files to see what you are dealing with out there. Now, step it out. We all have work to do."

"At once, sir." Lt. Ridge salutes Captain Cruz before doing as ordered. He felt this was an excellent first impression of Captain Cruz and FOB Rico. As they exit, he opens the door for Lt. Summers as a gentleman should. Cyborg or not, Ridge remains a man, not a robot.

Lt. Ridge is eager to see the cards they have been dealt for the air wing he is responsible for. It was like a Christmas holiday! Each soldier, a present! Each present, a surprise! Who is in the next folder? Who was he going to help shape into a fighting force?

Lt. Ridge had served with Special Forces his entire career. He had run missions that others in the Coalition had found either too difficult or too crazy to achieve. Those were the missions Special Forces got; the missions no one else thought they could succeed and survive. Ridge had "died" a Master Sergeant and woke up learning that he was going to be a 2nd Lieutenant. This is his first assignment in that role. The years of being an active duty recon sergeant running damn near suicidal missions were boiling deep within him, guiding him, preserving him, but the lessons learned at Officer Candidate School are also inside of him, trying to show him a new way. He hopes these two sides of himself play along well with each other just as much as he was hoping he and Lt. Summer would get along.

If Ridge was not needed by Summers, he looked thoroughly through the folders and moved to meet the new air wing. They and this Chief Cobb had a date with some live fire training!
 

Vaneheart

Friend or Enemy?
Sergeant Stone - CSMC (attached to CS Army)
Day 0



Sergeant Stone never liked duty station transfers.

There was always so much protocol and paperwork when reporting to a new command; having to actually check into the command, meet the CO, meet the XO, meet the command staff, meet the command Master Sergeant or First Sergeant, maybe meet the Sergeant Major (if the SGTMAJ gave a shit about such things) check into admin, check into medical, sign all the forms by thumbprint, take the tour, get a security clearance and code, get assigned TO gear from the armory, meet the squad-mates, get assigned quarters. It usually took all day, sometimes two, or three. A whole lot of "hurry up and wait." The gears of the military system perpetually turned, but sometimes they felt ponderously slow. He'd also be the FNG, despite having rank. While the rank helped, he hadn't proven himself to the others, they didn't know him, and wouldn't know if he was a fuck-up or not. It also didn't help that he didn't personally know anyone at this unit, so there was no one to vouch for him, other than his own exemplary service record. A lot of officers and NCOs got rank and position based on who they knew, who their daddy was, what their name was, or how much ass they kissed. Stone wasn't one of those.

He felt he shouldn't complain too much, a new station would be a nice change of pace. Ever since the CS Army drove the bandit kings and the cultist warlords out of the ruins of old Chicago, and the Navy decimated the lake pirates in the region, for the time being, things in the Great Lakes had become quiet, almost mundane. His hopes for heavy combat and accolades had vanished after the first year on station, and had been routine since. He was tired of garrison life, and drills after drills, with no action. Part of him had even hoped to be transferred to Fort El Dorado, but that hadn't happened.

Nevertheless, he found he was a bit apprehensive. This would be his first Army command, and also his first real combat airwing. He had just received his RPA wings and the qualification badge. He hadn't originally intended to fly, it had just turned out that way. He thought he'd be Force Recon forever. When a training slot for RPA had opened up, he decided to take it. He thought it would be a career checkmark, he didn't think it would flag him for a transfer.

He looked around at the others on the transport and noted that he might be the only Marine present. While a NCO in the Marines could be expected to have some autonomy and respect within a Navy or Marine Corps unit, he had heard that it was different in the Army. It wasn't just the little things in the culture and the customs and courtesies that were different (like saluting indoors, saluting uncovered, different uniforms, the use of "Sarge," wearing berets, and the minor terminology like the Navy's usage of terms like fore, aft, port, starboard, bulkheads, deck, and such, and camps versus forts, versus bases). Being a bigger force with more bodies, NCO authority in the Army was a little bit watered down until you got to the higher Staff NCO ranks. That said, all commands were different. Small commands, or commands with a high op tempo might change that. The Army also had nicer equipment. It also helped that Stone was highly qualified. Recon Marines and RPA Marines were fairly rare, being only 2% of the entire CSMC. He also had his jump wings, EOD badge, combat diving badge, and a sniper qualification to go with his aviation wings. He had tried to get all the training he could. Stone had taken to heart the old Earth saying of "...The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle."

What really troubled him was the rumors he had heard. They noted that he, along with possibly others on the transport, were filling in casualty spots from a unit that was hit hard and had lost a lot of men. He didn't know the details, but it seemed grim, and the rumors had been flying. His mind filled with an image of a incompetent boot lieutenant, carelessly leading his men into a D-Bee trap and a crossfire. Or even ordering his men to fix bayonets, then charge across a minefield. He thought grimly Well, I wanted action. Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. He wondered what had happened. Had there been any survivors?

He sat back and waited for the transport to land, idly wondering what his new life and new duty station would be like, and if he would live long enough to find a place in it all and enjoy it. He also wondered just how many people in this transport would still be alive in a year.
 
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Silanon

Three Thousand Club
Rough times, these - heavy losses during the last venture. But no one ever promised that this would be easy. Or that survival is guaranteed. Everyone here should know that much. Amy Winters knows, at the very least. That's why she pays little attention to the chatter, and all the more attention to her equipment. Good and bad leaders come and go, and no one here has a say in it. The platoon will endure the bad, and excel when given the chance. Simple as that. All the rumours, and fears - no point in those. Better to make sure that this vibroknife won't fail her when it matters. That's her job, after all. Let the others do theirs, and it'll work out alright. Or the coalition wouldn't have endured all the previous challenges.

And still - seeing the Master Sergeant instead of someone else feels good. The man knows what he does, from what she's heard, and seen. Won't make it easy, or guarantee survival, of course. She stands up from the box that has served as her seat. "There are concerns, Sir. The last few days have been bloody, on both sides." A solid kick is the first attempt to shove her former seat out of sight. It's heavier than expected. "The offer's appreciated."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Sherwood Sherwood and Vaneheart Vaneheart

Shuffling out of the transport, Hatch and Stone join the several hundred troopers on the tarmac in the shadow of the Death's Head troop transport. Once the personnel are out of the way, forklifts and other cargo haulers move in and start to unload the heavier gear that is all boxed up in shipping crates. Several members of the personnel office is there, using their handheld computers to verify Id's and orders, and they start to split people off from the large group to send over to waiting NCOs to be escorted off to your particular company areas.

Instead of the usual 'hurry up and wait' that you are accustomed to, there seems to be a sense of urgency to getting the paperwork done, and the two of you hear that the platoon you are being assigned to is due to be forward deployed in less than forty eight hours, putting a bit of hustle into the office staff.

Hatch and Stone are both joined by six other soldiers as you are all escorted to your platoon area and shown where to store your gear in your wall lockers. While you are unloading your duffel bags, the woman escorting you here says, "You have ten minutes to secure your gear and get to the garage for a platoon briefing. To find your way, follow the green painted line on the walls and they will guide you. On the bounce, Warlords!"
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Stacey Hatch moves with purpose, wanting to get her personal effects put away in her wall locker and back out to the garage. It would not do to be the last one to arrive, especially with her newbie status. As a NCO herself, it is important to make a good impression on her new commanding officer. So, once her gear is locked up, she quickly hustles out to find the green line on the wall.
 

Vaneheart

Friend or Enemy?
Sergeant Stone - CSMC (attached to CS Army)
Day 0


Stone was surprised at the hustle. Oscar Mike in less than 48? That's something. Must be something big going on. He was excited at the idea that he might finally see some action. He stashed his gear in the wall locker and headed to the briefing.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
( Psychie Psychie I'm just having some fun here. If you want me to edit this, let me know.) =)

Walking to the motor pool, Lt. Ridge strides about FOB Rico like a man in his own home. The sounds of moving machinery, wheeled vehicles, and soaring aircraft fill his electronic ears along with the crunching of boots, the rattle of gear (among the non-SF, of course) and chatting of soldiers. Human soldiers. Women and men all wearing the fabulous Death's Head motif. All fighting for... humanity! Oh, how Lt. Ridge could not wait to meet his new air wing! They were going hear that word later. Humanity! What a diverse group! What a fighting force they might turn out to be together.

At least... on paper.

Times like these, Lt. Ridge was happy he was in Special Forces. They were the professionals. He was allowed to read the dossiers. He didn't need anyone to read them for him because he was - and the loved the word - authorized. And with a need to know. He had earned the privilege. He had also earned the privilege of trying to keep these people alive and successful in their missions. This gave him true pleasure for Sgt., no, Lt. Ridge loved a real challenge. Not a suicide mission, but a challenge. And in Special Forces where they did just about everything differently, those two things were sometimes synonymous. That's why he was kind of nuts before he became a cyborg. But then again, so were all of the SF units that saw combat. It was a prerequisite. Because everybody knew.

Combat fucked with your mind.

Lt. Ridge notices a jeep in good condition with peculiar markings slowly coming up on him. Lt. Ridge thought he recognized the driver from Special Forces here on FOB Rico. Soon, this jeep would be painted as black as night.

"Brokhausen!" he yells.

"Where?" replies Brokhausen. He stops the jeep and looks around as if Ridge has alerted him to possible trouble. Good ol' Sgt. Brokhausen. Always has a sense of humor and one hell of a combat edge - sometimes even at the appropriate times. Just another crazy motherfucker whose luck hadn't run out yet.

"Say, isn't this the chaplain's jeep?"

"Aw, no suh." Brokhausen slips into playing dumb. "This here jus' looks like the chaplain's jeep, lee-yoo-ten-ant. It's really a decoy! Fooled you, didn't it?'

"Yeah, well you can fool me into giving me a drive to the motor pool if you're on your way there."

"Hop in."

Ridge carefully enters the passenger side of the open-topped jeep. It complains as it takes on his 700 pounds plus gear and Brokhausen has to compensate a bit for the wicked lean to the right. "You seen a Master Sergeant King in our ranks around here?"

"Sure have. I'm headed his way."

"Tell him to meet me at the motor pool."

Ridge and Brokhausen were comfortable enough to share some questions. "He your new MSG?"

"That's right. You know somethin'?"

"He's all right, Sar-- er, Lt.. Word is, King is good in the woods."

"That's music to my ears, Brok." The motor pool was coming up fast on the right. "Hey, you know the best part I like about chaplain's jeeps?"

Brokhausen's shit detector was beeping. "Uh, what's that?"

"They make you pray!" Ridge uses his robotic strength to pull the steering wheel to the left and straight into oncoming traffic before bailing out on the right. The oncoming tank lacked a horn to honk, but it had right of way unless a mech came along. Lt. Ridge knew, collisions like these were always the drivers' fault and Brokhausen hated Military Police. Thus, Brokhausen tried to avoid crashes more than most.

"Jesus Christ!" Brokhausen corrects and looses a few SF-tinged curses.

"See what I mean about praying?" Ridge says. "Thanks for the ride!"

"Fuckerrr!" Brokhausen smiles and gives Ridge the bird as he drives away. Ridge just laughs. Good ol' Brokhausen would have his revenge on Ridge; it was just a matter of time. It gives Ridge something else to look forward to.

Entering the motor pool, Lt. Ridge approaches the chief and asks for a noisy place where he'll be out of the way. He gets one and while he waits for MSG King to show up, he takes a seat on a seat that'll bear his weight and fiddles with a tiny plasma torch. Ridge looks at his right index finger and back at the torch.

Inspiration was knocking at his broken mental door. Ridge hopes it wouldn't knock too hard - the hinges on that door were looser than ever.

Nick Brokhausen is one of my favorite authors. He has a writing style that is as conversational as it is immersive. He lets the stories speak for themselves while never allowing you to forget about the human beings involved in them. He is very good at expressing his feelings in ways that stick. Plus, he is freakin' funny and sometimes very wise. Brokhausen served in Vietnam in the Green Berets with MACV-SOG and his two books (soon to be three!) are the kind of reads you shouldn't pick up unless you really want to know what it was like. Get your copies today! Wheee! 8D
 
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Dannigan Dannigan
It does not take long before you are approached by a remarkably fit man in his mid- to late-forties with cyber eyes that give him the perfect tools for a staring contest. His uniform is neatly pressed and looking good, and he is packing a large vibro knife, a conventional survival knife, and a heavy sidearm. His shoulders are adorned with the rank pins of a Master Sergeant, and his name badge reads 'King'. Obviously, he is your new number two man in the squadron.

He stops a respectful distance away and comes to the position of attention before speaking, "Sir? You are Lt. Ridge? I was informed that you wished to speak with me, sir. I am Master Sergeant Alphonse King." He stands stock still until given permission to move by Ridge.


Sherwood Sherwood and Vaneheart Vaneheart
After locking up your personal gear and following the aforementioned green painted line, you get to the garage. Men and materials are on the move throughout the large building, a bustling madhouse to the untrained eye. Soon after arriving, you are both given directions to the APC that you are assigned to. On the front of the APC is the painting of an attractive scantily clad woman, reminiscent of the nose art on the bombers in WWII. Several men and women are standing nearby, and they look over at the new arrivals with curiosity.

Rykon Rykon and Silanon Silanon
From your point of view, you see approaching your APC a group of eight new arrivals to the area, checking to make sure that they are in the right vehicle bay to meet their new platoon. A few of the nuggets look woefully green, obviously fresh from training. But there are a few that have the look of having been around the block a few times; that dangerous, quiet look that marks them as combat vets with nothing to prove to themselves or others.

After a quick check, it turns out that you have your platoon up to full strength, with just the two new Lieutenants and MSG King being the only ones missing from your ranks.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Psychie Psychie

Lt. Ridge is sitting, cradling a laser torch when King arrives. He is hoping the background noise of the motor pool covers the sounds of their conversation. Ridge's voice is low and clear, every word unhurried. He speaks with the intensity of a loaded gun, holstered but clean, maintained, and always ready. Sometimes, he enunciates some words slowly and precisely (his words in italics).

"Master Sergeant Alphonse King. A mighty name your parents gave you, soldier. I have two items for you:

"First, I want your help in keeping our squadron successful and alive. Why? Because I don't want them winding up like me." Ridge draws the laser torch in his left hand closer to his right hand. With a flick, the torch sputters and flares to life - a cone of fiery orange life. With a careful turn of a dial, the orange flame becomes bright white.

"The way I see it, this is Lt. Summer's operation, but it's my show. Advise me, King. Give me your thoughts knowing I can make no promises except I will try and respect them.

"Second... and the big one... King... you and I are Special Forces. I was once a sergeant too and part of me always will be. For those reasons, and because I want to have faith in you, here's a little something I'm not telling the others.

Lt. Ridge's voice becomes harsh and deadly. The words of a killing man. "The D-Bees, King. The D-Beeees... They took my body, King. They took my skin. My muscles. My face. Even my dick!" Ridge turns toward King, his robotic-demon face splits out from the sheath of his armored faceplate. Now, Ridge's face is readable, especially when he slowly says, "I was proud of my dick, King."

"My balls are grenades now. I prove to our enemies that I have balls by throwing mine at them and watching the D-Bees explode. Like I exploded.

Ridge holds up his right bionic hand and draws the cone of white fire to it. "This... is my first combat mission since I left the surgery table. Since all these months of rehab. Since my brain took the hit that reduced my skillset back to that of a newborn. My first mission as a cyborg and as an officer. I've got demons, King, demons at the scene, hungry violent demons, and they're not moving along quietly.

"And here's the the part where I trust you. The demons and me? We want me some payback, King... rich, delicious, juicy payback... against the bugs! But after my experiences, I might want payback too much! That body count too soon! I am reaching out to you, a stranger, a soldier, a fellow Special Forces D-Bee killer, a man I hope I can count on, to confide in. For if I hear talk of this from the others, I'll know who the source is."

Sparks fly as he begins lasering into his right index finger - a delicate act that only a cyborg who has practiced long and hard can achieve. The small letters on his fingers are forming. I-T-'-...

"I want you to help me with this, King. If you see me getting too bloodthirsty, too aggressive, I might risk one of ours without thinking! The squadron's survival, their success, is more important to the soldier in my soul than my payback. My demons exist, but the man in me remains in charge."

The letters continue. R-I-G-...

"We are Special Forces, King! De oppresso liber! We are the most aggressive, most resourceful, and most creative of our breed! I am proud to be among my brothers and sisters they come to when no one else can or will do what's necessary. It's fucked up, but it's the way it is. Our superiors expect results of our deranged battle-family and rightly so, Lt. Summers among them!

"I'm fucked up, King. During our missions... if you see me going too far... call me back, King. Caaall me back anyway you can. Don't think of it as an order. Think of it as a favor... from one Special Forces guy to another."

The burning letters in the three words come to an end. ...T-I-M-E.

"Can you do that? Or should we forever forget that we had this conversation?"

The fire from the torch disappears and the sparks along with it. There is a lot of smoke and the smells of burning hypercarbon, a smell both men are likely very familiar with unlike the civilians they have sworn to defend.

"Ohhh, and if you have demons too, King... by all means! Share, share! Misery loves company! We fucked up people need each other for so few understand! Do the me this favor and I can do you a favor too. I'll definitely owe you one if things get too dark in my new little world, don't you think?"

"It's tiiime." Ridge studies the fleshier soldier with a grimness both steely and remote. Ridge holds up his right index finger. Carved into the inside of the finger which meets the thumb, along the entire digit until it meets the hand, are the smoking laser-etched words of his latest tattoo:

"It's Trigger Time."

Ridge stands and turns to King. "How about it?"
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
When she arrives at the APC, Stacey takes a second to try and get a read on the other people gathered around it, from the bunch that was there before she arrived and the ones that just came along with her. It was clear that some of the others were newbies to the field just like her. Even if she has a few more stripes on her shoulder from the length and intensity of her training, Stacey is still a possible liability out there. Can't say I blame them. I've been through live fire exercises, but that's all they were - exercises. Who knows how I will respond when the shit gets real? I just hope that I won't let the squad or the platoon down.

Not seeing anyone of higher rank to directly talk to, she says to the group in general, "Sgt. Stacey Hatch, EOD Specialist and SAMAS pilot, reporting in as ordered."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Dannigan Dannigan

King is silent as you speak, his expression unreadable. When Ridge finally stops his soliloquy and gives the other man a chance to talk, he is quiet for a moment, taking in your words. Finally, even with what you just said, he is cautious in how he replies. He says, "Permission to speak freely, sir?" He waits for some positive acknowledgement before going on.

"Sir, despite what the bugs did to you, or perhaps, because of it, it takes a lot of balls to be able to come clean to a man that you've only just met like that. I can give you a promise right now that the lives of this platoon in general and the squadron in specific will always be on my mind. In the Warlords, we have many sayings that you'll learn, one of which is, 'Men First, Mission Always'. I take that to heart every time I roll out of my rack and slip these boots on. That being said, sir, I will make damn sure that you are kept in check, and while we may disagree on how the mission should be accomplished, but so long as the lives of the men are safe, I'll be the best damn soldier you've ever seen at your side."

He stops for a moment, reflecting back on some memory of his. "To be honest with you sir, the company's Command Sergeant Major, Rebecca Paulson, is more than a bit concerned for this platoon with it having two new officers placed in it. That's why I'm here, to be the anchor to steady this rocking ship and keep it from getting smashed on the rocks of either your ego, or Lt. Summers'."

King looks at you with his unblinking eyes and goes on to say, "You have your demons in these bugs. Mine is those damn summoners. 'Men of magic' my left ass cheek. They are just as evil and twisted as the demons they consort with, and given a chance, I'll give each and every one of them a plasma grenade enema and watch the light flare up in their eyes before it fries them to slag. I'll watch you around the bugs if you watch me around those fucking wizards, and together we'll make one hell of a team. Sir."

Taking a mental step back, he returns himself to the consummate professional that he looks to be. "Sir, I took the time to look over the platoon before I came to see you. We were still missing eight of our transfers in, but as for the rest of the platoon, they were looking squared away, at least in the few minutes I had to insect their gear and uniforms. According to the personnel jackets that I've read, we have two possible discipline issues, but I will happily take care of them, pending the approval of you and Lt. Summer."

"Sir, the mission orders that I have heard are that Capt. Cruz wants us to rendezvous with the rest of the Warlords in just about forty-eight hours." He stops there, obviously wondering if you had more information to give him. "By now, our new nuggets should be in the platoon area, waiting for you and Lt. Summer to brief them. What is the plan, sir?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
He says, "Permission to speak freely, sir?" He waits for some positive acknowledgement before going on.

"Be my guest."

That being said, sir, I will make damn sure that you are kept in check, and while we may disagree on how the mission should be accomplished, but so long as the lives of the men are safe, I'll be the best damn soldier you've ever seen at your side."

"I admire your high standards, King, but that is one hell of a lofty goal. I have been honored by fighting beside the best damned soldiers I have ever seen. It will take a long while before anyone else starts even getting close."

I'll watch you around the bugs if you watch me around those fucking wizards, and together we'll make one hell of a team. Sir."

Ridge's animated skull-features turn into a devilish grin. "Then it's a deeeal. A contract of honor. Consider my name signed on the dotted line beside yours; may our inner demons rue this day."

According to the personnel jackets that I've read, we have two possible discipline issues, but I will happily take care of them, pending the approval of you and Lt. Summer."

"While I would like to simply leave this to you, tell me - who are they and what kind of discipline issues are we talking about?"

Part of Ridge wants not to ask this and simply trust King to take care of it, but another part of it tells him to, at the very least, be informed before making a decision. Ridge wants to know his people. Ridge hopes the problems don't involve cowardice, because that is one trait he has never had to deal with and has never wanted to. Some people could not fight because they had a mental roadblock in their path. PTSD. Medical problems. Even high blood pressure could bring their career to a screaming halt. But remove the roadblock and the soldier reemerges, sometimes stronger than before. Ridge loves it when that happens.

But others? The true cowards? Some were just trying to get out of the service. Get out of wartime. Get out being a soldier. And that kind of person made Ridge want to choke them like the nickname his subordinates' friendly nickname for him. "Darth Ridge." Ridge likes that name but it hasn't followed him here. If there were cowards, it was probably best that they just get out.

"Sir, the mission orders that I have heard are that Capt. Cruz wants us to rendezvous with the rest of the Warlords in just about forty-eight hours." He stops there, obviously wondering if you had more information to give him. "By now, our new nuggets should be in the platoon area, waiting for you and Lt. Summer to brief them. What is the plan, sir?"

His trigger finger twitches. "Oh, to train, King, to traaain! Our dear captain has recommended I get you all out on the firing line if I want to, and that is exactly where I want everyone to be! I need to know how they shoot and how they deal with new weaponry. There are a few tactics I would like for us to learn together and by training, we'll have a better idea of who's a team player, where the backbone lies, and who needs a hypercarbon heel in his ass to get his shit together.

"Besides," Ridge admires the new handiwork on his trigger finger, "I want all the bonding time we can get before we march into the fold. 'Men first, mission always,' indeed, but I am also for starting the process to make our air wing into a single unit as early as possible. And that means now. That's the only way I succeeded and survived as long as I did back when I could piss." Ridge looks distant for one long moment. Then he seals his demonic face inside of the helmet sheath and rubs his steel hands together. "Let's go to the platoon area and meet these defenders of humanity!"
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
"I admire your high standards, King, but that is one hell of a lofty goal. I have been honored by fighting beside the best damned soldiers I have ever seen. It will take a long while before anyone else starts even getting close."
King cracks his own smile, saying, "Yes, sir. I look forward to proving that my name goes on the same list as those others you speak so highly of!"
Ridge's animated skull-features turn into a devilish grin. "Then it's a deeeal. A contract of honor. Consider my name signed on the dotted line beside yours; may our inner demons rue this day."
"Sounds like a plan, sir! One that I can heartily endorse!"
"While I would like to simply leave this to you, tell me - who are they and what kind of discipline issues are we talking about?"
At this, King pulls out a datapad and taps the screen. He reads out loud, "Private Rick Mulvaney. According to his file, he enlisted into the military to avoid a lengthy jail sentence for stealing. He has maintained a history of having 'sticky fingers', and because of that, he's been passed up for promotion three times. The only good word in his file is this note saying Mulvaney is a good scrounger for any kind of black market goods you are needing. In the field, sometimes you need to deal with the devil himself to get the job done. Doesn't mean that I like it, though.

"Then there is Corporal Melissa Campos. Top rated sniper and partial conversion Borg using the new Armor Piercing Railgun, her file shows that she is very headstrong and doesn't like to listen to the orders of her superiors. She seems to think that she knows the best way to get the job done, and doesn't want to deal with anyone's shit in the process. A real problem with authority, it seems. Makes me wonder how and why she is still in the service with her attitude, even with the ability to tag a target some four kilometers out with a kill shot using that rifle."
His trigger finger twitches. "Oh, to train, King, to traaain! Our dear captain has recommended I get you all out on the firing line if I want to, and that is exactly where I want everyone to be! I need to know how they shoot and how they deal with new weaponry. There are a few tactics I would like for us to learn together and by training, we'll have a better idea of who's a team player, where the backbone lies, and who needs a hypercarbon heel in his ass to get his shit together.
King nods, "Yes, sir. Personally, I was surprised to see that our orders were to be on the move in two days time. Not hardly enough time to get to know your platoon members' names, let alone see their strengths and weaknesses are."
"Besides," Ridge admires the new handiwork on his trigger finger, "I want all the bonding time we can get before we march into the fold. 'Men first, mission always,' indeed, but I am also for starting the process to make our air wing into a single unit as early as possible. And that means now. That's the only way I succeeded and survived as long as I did back when I could piss." Ridge looks distant for one long moment. Then he seals his demonic face inside of the helmet sheath and rubs his steel hands together. "Let's go to the platoon area and meet these defenders of humanity!"
With a snort of laughter, the big man says, "Bonding time? Yes, sir. It will take more then two days worth, but a good round of live firing will certainly give us all a good idea of just what we have to work with. I'll make it happen, sir."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
At this, King pulls out a datapad and taps the screen. He reads out loud, "Private Rick Mulvaney. According to his file, he enlisted into the military to avoid a lengthy jail sentence for stealing. He has maintained a history of having 'sticky fingers', and because of that, he's been passed up for promotion three times. The only good word in his file is this note saying Mulvaney is a good scrounger for any kind of black market goods you are needing. In the field, sometimes you need to deal with the devil himself to get the job done. Doesn't mean that I like it, though.

"Then there is Corporal Melissa Campos. Top rated sniper and partial conversion Borg using the new Armor Piercing Railgun, her file shows that she is very headstrong and doesn't like to listen to the orders of her superiors. She seems to think that she knows the best way to get the job done, and doesn't want to deal with anyone's shit in the process. A real problem with authority, it seems. Makes me wonder how and why she is still in the service with her attitude, even with the ability to tag a target some four kilometers out with a kill shot using that rifle."

Ridge crosses his arms and thinks aloud. "A good scrounger can be a lifesaver if he has a heart to begin with, but a killer who doesn't take orders is just a liability who knows how to kill. Maybe she's being allowed to stay here because brass is afraid she'll defect to the other side if she isn't. I will leave them to your tender mercies, King. Keep me posted if there are important changes regarding them." Ridge finds he is happy that neither of the two boat-rockers are cowards and he wants to have faith in King. He feels the only way to have that is to let me man work and see what comes of it.

With a snort of laughter, the big man says, "Bonding time? Yes, sir. It will take more then two days worth, but a good round of live firing will certainly give us all a good idea of just what we have to work with. I'll make it happen, sir."

Ridge raises one metal eyebrow. "You'd rather they go on R&R instead? Wanna count heads in two day's time and see how many you're missing? We're about to rely on each other to keep that APC in one piece and everyone in it, not to mention Steel Rain. I'll take 46 hours over 0 any day. We'll go to the range after we've met at the platoon staging area unless Lt. Summer redirects us." Ridge was hoping Summer would join them too, but when he thought about it, perhaps it was best if it was only his air wing along. Steel Rain was his squadron. His duty was to help keep them alive. That would only happen if he took action. And why wait for later? Waiting promoted complacency. And complacency got people killed. Let the enemy get complacent, Ridge thought.

"King, let's move. I have an air wing to meet."
 

Silanon

Three Thousand Club
New men and women, at last; fresh blood that'll eventually replace the familiar faces of the fallen. No officer there to welcome them properly, just a lot of staring that won't do the trick.
Not seeing anyone of higher rank to directly talk to, she says to the group in general, "Sgt. Stacey Hatch, EOD Specialist and SAMAS pilot, reporting in as ordered."
One of them takes initiative. In response, Amy spits out, stops what she was doing just moments ago and steps up to meet the new arrivals half-way. Someone has to make a move, after all. And ranks come with responsibilities. "Sgt. Amy Winters, SAMAS. Welcome to the 'Gloria', finest piece of life-saving steel you'll see for a while. The new officers should arrive any moment now, so find yourself a spot and look busy, there's plenty of space." Too much, in fact - too many losses. "Unless things change, we'll be on the road in forty-five hours, give or take; think that's about as much as we know. You got any urgent questions, ask 'em - if not, the airwing's with me, makes it easier to get an idea who's who." First learn the names of those you'll have to rely on the most. Then fill in the blanks over time, one by one.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
While King and Ridge are talking, Lt. Summer comes walking up, bringing an immediate halt to the conversation as MSG King goes back into his position of attention to show proper respect to his new commanding officer. She looks up between the two taller men and says, "Well, I think we've made the platoon wait long enough to make them sweat. Lets go break the ice, shall we?" With that, she turns on her heel and starts walking over in the direction of the garage where the APC and the platoon are waiting.

As you walk, she says, "I have checked, and the live fire range is open to us, and I have our platoon booked to roll in two hours, but I'm going to tell the men six. Lets see how well the respond to a sudden alarm going off, and how fast they get ready for action when that happens."


At the APC, all the newcomers are starting to go through the amenities of the Gloria and getting to know one another when one of the sharp eyed corporals suddenly snaps to and shouts, "Attenshun! Officer on deck!" At this shout, the scattered members of the 4th Platoon leap to their feet and go silent as two Lieutenants and MSG King come striding up.

Summer stands in front of the assembled men and women under her charge and calmly says, "At ease. Ladies and gentlemen, I am Lt. Amy Summer, and I will be taking the reins of the platoon. Next to me is Lt. Ridge, new squadron leader of our SAMAS air wing, and here is Master Sergeant King, our number three in the platoon. We have a lot of new blood being introduced to a group of seasoned veterans, some of which have never seen action in the real world yet. Over the course of our deployment, we will be working and learning together, with the ultimate goal of forming a cohesive team that can depend on one another in times of crisis."

"We now have orders to be on the move in two days. I plan on using those days to see what you can do, individually and as a team. To that end, we will be spending much of our time at the range performing live fire exercises, and will continue to drill on the road. I will also be spending some time with each of you, one-on-one, to get to know you better, and let you get to know me. Now, our first training run is in six hours, and will be an all nighter, so get some rest. Just remember you are all Warlords! We make the difficult missions look easy, while the impossible ones take a little bit longer."

She eyes everyone of the men and women in front of her carefully, then shouts out, "Lt. Ridge! You and Sergeant King get the platoon loaded on the Gloria and roll us out to the training range. Let everyone get used to catching some shut-eye as we drive. I want to be on the move in one hour. Call me in thirty with a status update. Get it done, gentlemen."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Part 1 of 2)

"Yes, maaaa'am!" Ridge salutes his superior officer and grins enthusiastically like a lion among sheep and turns one maniacal eye toward the would-be hunting cats presented. Summer had given the order and the time had come for first impressions.

"King! Work on the platoon. I'll be there after a little visit with our... aaair wiiing."

So... back when we first began rolling dice for this game, there was this post that stuck in my head in OOC. =)

So who's going to be our boot lieutenant? :-P Who's the grizzled Staff NCO with the Clint Eastwood rasp?

Heya folks! This post is going to be long, probably my longest. Why? Because the more that I thought about what Vane said, the more I couldn't help but think of it as a request of sorts. Now, I've never played a Gunny or the like, so I don't know how I'll be at it. But, I did want to put an amusing post together with crazy Lt. Ridge here - a little tip of my hat to all of the real Gunnys and D.I.s out there forging our civilians into soldiers. This is also to the excellent actors who portrayed insulting badasses like Sgt. Apone, Gunny Highway, Sgt. Hartman, and many others. They gave out rations of hell to their people like nobody else! And sitting in my chair, I, just another member of the audience often found myself laughing, seriously motivated, and heavily-pressured, all at the same time.

It's just a post, but this post has been put together in that spirit.

Enjoy!

* * *​

Meeting the Air Wing

Stone


Ridge subconsciously has a bit of a stalk in his walk as he nears the new people in his air wing. The unhinged Special Forces cyborg-soldier sees the Marine markings on Stone. His eyes glow (literally) and he immediately lights into his ass!

"What do we have here? What did the Coalition States Navy send us? Why, it kinda looks like a Marine!" Ridge takes a big sniff with his Mega-damage nose. "Almost smells like a Marine! But in my world, there are only two kinds of Marines. Useless guppies. Can't stand me no jarheaded, washed-up guppies! And... you got the C.S.M.C., the Coalition States Misguided Children! Those children... are sharks!"

Ridge ponders aloud. "Makes me wonder what he did to get sent here, so far from a decent fishing pond? Awfully strange, awfully strange! And lookee here! Says here his name is... 'Stone!' Ridge steps in front of the Marine and looks Stone right in his eyes, his mechanical voice filled with lots of things. Mercy is not one of them. "Is that 'stone-for-balls' or 'stone-for-brains?' You do have balls and brains, don't you? Nothin' worse than a gutless, brainless soldier! You a shark, Stooone? Or you a guppy - some little useless scum-sucker tryin' to leech honor by being with real killers? Either way, you are way out of your element here, gyrene! Don't see no water for you to escape into - only mountains and sky in these parts.

"Poor baby! Ain't no sea for you to swim in, is there? That's okay, because you are gonna make your own sea! A sea of blood from our enemies, you hear me? If I find out you are a guppy, ooh Stone, we gonna to have us a good ol' fashioned fish fry, ain't we? I'll cook your ass myself! Put me some stone-fried asshole on the grill! Pass the spices! Mmm-mmm!"

Then Ridge steps nose-to-nose with the Marine. He growls. If the air wing does not believe Ridge's words, perhaps mistaking them for theatre - there is in them an edge that Lt. Ridge possesses that tells you that Ridge believes. "Now hear this! Stone, I expect you to come forward when we have any situation that requires the nautical mind. When your naval training sees something the rest of us missed. It don't matter to me that you came from somewhere else - what matters to me is whether you can fly with us or not! And when I call for you to make something die in my sky, I don't want it coming back to life - I want it erased from history!

Ridge pauses as if making some inward decision. "Only sharks have sharp, bloody teeth! Scared little guppies ain't worth their own shit! Give me my sea of blood when the time comes by showing me what a Marine can do! Do I make myself clear?"

* * *​

Hatch

"Whyyy, if we haven't been sent a little princess? Is that EOD on your shoulder, your majesty, or did you take it off of somebody who earned it?" Ridge examines Hatch closely. "You know the best thing about Explosive Ordnance Disposal soldiers? I have heard you find out verrry quickly who's any good! In fact, you are the first EOD soldier ever under my command! My! I am excited! I am so excited, I am going to give you a nickname! But... here's the catch, Hatch." Ridge's voice drops into a dangerous tone that everyone can hear.

"See our misguided friend, the Marine, over there? He needs a sea of blood to swim in! You're going to help make that happen, understand?

Ridge stares at Hatch like he is the wolf and she is the rabbit. "Now open those ears good. Hatch, I expect you to camouflage your ordnance in the field so good, the enemy never knows it's there until we blow it! I don't want to hear that your explosives failed to discharge because the enemy found them, or worse, reset them towards us so that we blow ourselves up! Understand? That only happens if they find them, doesn't it? I also expect you to disarm enemy ordnance when we come across it. You will also use just enough of your own that we don't need a second try to succeed at an ambush or create an escape route because we might not get a second chance! In other words, you had better have your act together at all times, little princess!"

"I have a clock/calendar inside my metal head." Internally, he set one of his clocks' timers and starts a countdown. When he sees the numbers moving, he continues. "Hatch, it is ticking down starting right now. When that clock expires, you going to have one of two nicknames... Clusterbomb..." Ridge announces proudly, "...or Clusterfuck!"

Ridge puts his metal noseplate right in her face and shouts. "Which is it gonna be?! You don't want everyone in my brave squadron of aerial ass-kickers calling you Clusterfuck, do you? Of course not!" Ridge glares. "I hope you don't think this is all a joke because my clock is ticking, soldier! And nothing is going to stop it... so I hope you get what it takes to be a Clusterbomb! Do you hear me?"

* * *​

Graves

Ridge sizes up Graves with a mock-gasp of surprise. Then the shit flies again at full velocity.

"Oh myyy! Lookee here, everybody! A flyboy! And not just any flyboy, but RPA! We have been 'graced by an ace,' is that it? Lookit that face! Why, he's got everything but the aviator glasses!" Ridge beams as he walks around Graves like he's a statue in a museum. "Well, I like me some aces! Every deck of cards has four aces, but have you noticed? At least one goddamned joker has to slip in there with the rest? Can a joker be an ace, Graves?

Ridge leans in one inch from Graves's ear but doesn't lower his volume one decibel. "That's the best thing about flying, isn't it, Graves?! You need wings! Can't fly without them wings! What'choo gonna do without them wings?" Ridge gives Graves another once-over. "But what kinda wings we got here? Eagle's wings? The kind our divine Emperor Prosek can be proud of...

Ridge smiles. Sneers. And draws the words out like the keenest of knives. "...or you got... chicken wings?"

Ridge lets that thought sink in, then he looks Graves in the face and becomes deadly serious. "Graves, I expect you to use your flight training to improve our own. I am not asking for your RPA secrets; I want you to help keep us alive in the air, understand? Recommend skills as we fight together. Tactics. Strategies. Start by fixing the little mistakes. Keep us sharp in the air at all times. You can do that, can't you? Oh, and one more thing - I want you to outshoot me when we're in the air. I figure if a lowly Special Forces bush guy like me can outshoot an outstanding poster boy RPA flier, well, I think that says a little something about if you're any good, don't you?

"That is..." Ridge grins and holds up his hands together making tiny flapping motions with his fingers, "...if them little chicken wings can get you off the ground! My! If I find out you're a little chicken on the battlefield, I'm'a break out the BBQ sauce on your ass and serve you right then and there!

Ridge smiles at Stone then back at Graves, shouting to everyone, "We might have us a fish fry with some chicken wings! Maybe use some of Hatch's plastique to warm it all up, if she can get it lit! Yum yum! Anybody else in here gettin' hungry?"

* * *​

Winters

By the time Ridge gets to Winters, he is already rubbing his steel hands together. Gleefully. "May The Emperor have mercy! What now? A commando! Not a spooky, sneaky commando! Oh no! True C.S. Commandos are supposed to undetectable! Invisible! Can't see 'em! Well, guess what, Winters? Everybody here can see right through your bullshit! Commandos are supposed to be scary! Mean! Friiightening! Winters, the only thing frightening about you is the fact that someone like you are supposed to protect our beloved civilians! If I was them, I'd be scared as hell because they're as good as dead with you guarding them, aren't they?

"I hope you're in shape, Winters! I hope you didn't join my badass air wing because you're gettin' flabby? Just what we need! A commando getting so fat everybody can tell she jumped into a SAMAS power armor because it is the only machine that could get her fat ass off the couch and away from the potato chips! You think you're fit to fly in my beloved air wing with that bubblegum body? And I thought I was crazy!

Ridge chuckles as he switches subjects without any loss of intensity. "Oh, you've heard the word, haven't you, Winters? I hear some of our commandos earned their way up by possessing skill and courage! But I also hear some are there not because they earned it like a real soldier, but because they are related to some high-ranking REMFs ("Rear Echelon Motherfuckers") with connections! And if I find out you are as soft in the mind as you are in your guts, well! Maybe we'll just take your SAMAS from you and make you walk back to FOB Rico here. You know... get in shape like the rest of us?

Ridge's growling does not stop but it does change direction. "Listen, Winters! You are going to be this air squadron's best friend or its worst enemy! You are gonna use those commando skills of yours to find us the enemy! Track them down! Root them out like the scum they are! You gonna help us set ambushes for the D-Bees while denying those bastards the ability to ambush us! Whether we are in the air or on the ground, you are now this squad's hunting hound, you got that? And my SAMAS squad's hound is gonna be one baaadaaass Alphaaa..." Ridge sneers doubtfully as he looks her from tip to toe, "...not some mangy bitch."

Ridge yells out to the air wing and gets real. "Air wing, here's a little dose of reality. If you can't handle pressure, then you have no right to be wearing that uniform! Lieutenant Summer needs people who can kick ass under pressure! Emperor Prosek and the people of the Coalition States deserve soldiers of that caliber. So search yourselves! Are your feelings hurt? Need a tissue to dry your eyes?

"You're not going to get any tissues from the D-Bees! You're gonna get blood! The D-Bees are bringing death to humanity with them and they have their shit together. So we have to do better than that! We have to create our own way of playing the game and beat them with it. And that means training! You will memorize hand signals for when the D-Bees deny us radio communication. You will learn wingman tactics so that you always work together as a team! I will bring you the biggest, best guns Captain Cruz will allow. For example - anybody here want to fly in a Super SAMAS?" Ridge lets that thought echo about the air wing.

"We are called Warlords. Our SAMAS squadron? Steel Rain. You act like it, and maybe, just maybe we get us some Super SAMASes on top of staying alive and doing our part for the Emperor. I have given each of you something to think about, air wing, so stay here at attention and think on it!"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Part 2 of 2)

* * *​

Ridge does some thinking on his own as he links up with King to see how things are on his end. "Sure, the troops gotta bit of jet lag. Sure, they've been up early. But Lt. Summer said she wanted 'em ready for a nap. Well! I know one good way to make a nap all the more inviting."

When they are finished, Ridge returns to the front of the platoon staging area. "Air wing! Platoon! Form up behind the white line with your gear on your right!" Ridge indicates where he wants them - where he can see them all and they can see him as he glares, step by step, walking past them. He watches their faces.

"Air wing! Platoon! I am not impressed with you! You have not shown Lt. Summer, Sergeant King, or myself that you have what it takes to work together! To kick ass in a way befitting Coalition States soldiers! I do not see the Warlord spirit in you! And because I do not see it in you..." he points to the deck, "... we gonna push 'em out!"

Ridge has every person besides King drop onto their faces, pull their duffels along their upper backs and heads, and do 15-second pushups. 15 seconds from beginning to end. Touch the chest to the deck. Hold the position for a heartbeat. Then 15 seconds back up. Long, slow, muscle-building pushups. Ridge keeps this up until he hears groaning. And then... "Phase one is complete! Time for phase two! Put your gear down beside you! Now pick it up again and this time, put it across your shoulders! Arms straight out! Head up! Time for a personal favorite - some crucifixion running!"

Ridge indicates to King that he wants King watching Ridge's blind spots as he has everyone double-time it around the platoon staging area, mindful of the time. At the 30-minute mark, he advises Summer that the troops are "earning their nap."

Ridge doesn't stop. "Now when I call out, I want you to sound off loud and clear - Humanity!" The way he said it, it sounded like, "hyoo-man-i-tay!"

"Who are we?
Hyoo-man-i-tay!

Who we fighting for?
Hyoo-man-i-tay!

Use magic, you lose your... Hyoo-man-i-tay!

Mother Earth belongs to... Hyoo-man-i-tay!"


And so it goes.

* * *​

By the time the hour is up, Lt. Ridge makes certain everyone is onboard the APC, ready to go.

"Load up, load up, load up! Take your positions! Remember your training." Ridge is the last man to board. "Driver! Take us to the range! We have things to do! Listen up! If you need a little beauty sleep - and trust me, some of you need a lot more than that - now is the time! Good night, good night! When you wake up, some of you will be real soldiers! And only real soldiers become badasses! Somethin' nice to dream about, isn't it?" With that, he clicks off all but the essential interior lights and watches over them all as the APC moves out on time.

Inside it all, Lt. Ridge has one more thought on his mind. "Same as always. If they can't take the pressure, they'll be liabilities. Soldiers can sniff out a coward faster than a particle beam can hit its target. Sure, we all belong to Summer, but right now the air wing - Steel Rain - is mine. I need to make it ours. The cooler these people are in the air and under fire, the sooner that day will come.

"Now that I've made my first impression, I can start seeing these people for themselves. It's odd not working with Special Forces. But now that these people know what is expected of them, they have something to focus on. Soon, we can start working on the real lessons and training that'll keep us alive and successful. Too bad we didn't at least have a few weeks together to do all this in FOB Rico. Delta Bravo, the D-Bees that is, are out there. They mauled some of Gloria's people before, hence us. Maybe I can turn that motivation into something positive. Something that'll help forge us into one single blade to cut Delta Bravo's throat with.

"That oughta start in about... 55 minutes... when Summer's plan goes into effect."
 

Vaneheart

Friend or Enemy?
Sergeant Stone
CSMC (attached to CS Army)
Warlords - Steel Rain
Day 0


After arriving at the bay, Stone took in the scene and was surprised at how familiar it was. He hadn't known what exactly he was expecting, but what he found was just the same type of scene he'd seen plenty of times before in the Navy. He noted that there wasn't an excessive amount of PSI-NET personnel, so he figured the unit probably didn't have a discipline problem or a problem with frequent deserters. He quietly observed the equipment and the markings, soon finding himself lost in thought. He had neglected to listen to any of the audio recordings of the unit's history, as the transfer had happened so fast. He was caught off guard when the call to attention was given, but his training and muscle memory kicked in automatically, and he popped to attention.

From the briefing given by Lt. Summer, he noted that things were moving quickly, and thought It looks like the usual protocols are being set aside so we can all get underway. That's interesting. Upon observing and meeting Lt. Ridge, Stone was surprised, and thought A 'borg... ...with a commission? Now I've seen everything. Never served under a 'borg officer before. Was he a officer before becoming a 'borg? He was pleasantly surprised at the skilled berating. Guy must have been enlisted prior to his commission. None of the overly polite bullshit that some officers are like. Looks like the Army isn't as soft as I thought. Stone was starting to think he might like it here after all. At the question of "Do I make myself clear?" Stone responded with a strong "Yes, sir!"

Stone noted that during the Lieutenant's conversation with Graves, that Lt. Ridge was prior Special Forces, and it sounded like he might not have led an RPA wing before. At the moment, that was mere speculation. He filed that away in the back of his mind for later analysis, and wondered about what was really going on with the Warlords?

***

The exercise didn't bother Stone. This was just another day in the Corps, another day to prove himself, and he didn't mind sweating. He was in excellent physical shape. They say in the Marine Corps that when you hit your first unaccompanied tour, you either become a gym rat, or maybe a gambler or alcoholic, and maybe a discipline problem. Stone had definitely become a gym rat, and had avoided becoming a problem. When the moments permitted, he looked around at his fellow soldiers and observed. These are the men and women I will be serving with. So far they seem alright. First few weeks will be telling though. He idly wondered about what sort of experience the others had? What sort of D-Bee threats had they faced out here?

He piled into the APC with the others and eagerly awaited what was next. He was eager to prove that while he might be a FNG at the moment, he was no guppy.

He was a stone cold killer.
 

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