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Coalition Wars - IC Thread

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Silanon

Three Thousand Club
Amy Winters

"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."
"Got it, Sir." All of it. That this man-turned-machine sure likes to hear his own voice. That he doesn't know shit about her. And that his idea of leadership is not to make a good first impression, and let others lick his boots. Good. Spit out all the insults you want, Lieutenant. I've seen the 'commandos' you're talking about, and I've laughed in their face. Pushed myself when others gave up. Doesn't take an artificial body or implants to be tough as steel - you'll notice. Not that any of this matters. Just words and show, meaningless in the end. Just like that Warlords crap. It's what they all say - these two, those before, and the ones that'll eventually follow. Go a few days back - there were different faces here, back then. Those were Warlords, too. Turns out that doing the impossible still gets people killed.

In the end, it's simple. She'll do her part, others will do theirs. And maybe, if the orders are somewhat reasonable, some will get out of this alive. Stand in another line, in front of another barking officer. Again and again, until luck runs out. So do your job, Lieutenant. I'll follow your orders, foolish as they might turn out to be, because a bad plan is better than none. Order's better than chaos. Make it count. Out there, in the field. Not here, with fancy speeches and pointless blather. What he said - that the people out there deserve the best soldiers - counts for the officers as well. Not that Amy sees any need to remind him of that - either he know himself, or he won't listen anyway.

What follows - the exercises - is her kind of thing. In that weird way that few actually understand. Can't dedicate your life to a single purpose without finding a way to cope with the hardships along the way. To be a little better every day. To endure what might've broken her years ago. To go on, and on and on, one round after the other. Focused only on herself, most of the time. Let the others fight their own fights. Out there, it's a team effort; here, it's mostly her own breath, her voice, and an officer who might be too proud of himself - time will tell. Flabby my ass. Bark all you want, it ain't gonna make you a hunting hound. That's me. I survived the knights. I survived the mages. I'll sure as hell survive a few more laps. She doesn't count. There's no point. It's about still being at it when it ends. About toughing it out. Like everything here. Nobody counts the won and lost battles. It's about what's left when the dust finally settles. "Humanity!"


When the end comes, Amy Winters grins. Not a happy, joyful grin, more like a grim, determined warning for everything that'll ever be in her way. In Steel Rain's way. In Gloria's way. In the Warlords'... nope, not going there. Let others take responsibility for the larger picture. These few men here are plenty enough to have in mind, the last trip showed that much. She offers a fist bump to her fellow runners, a quiet, wordless recognition that they made it. A quiet promise in her mind that they'll make it through much more sinister challenges, too.

Before entering the APC, Amy knocks thrice against its protective plates - an old ritual of hers, as old as her first assignment. Within the vehicle, she finds her spot, leans back and quietly eyes those around her. Old faces. New faces. Funny how the engines still sound the same, after all this APC has been through, lately.
 
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Rykon

Four Thousand Club
Sergeant Joshua Graves stoically maintains his position in formation. Seeing their new Lieutenant beginning to dress down the unit in full boot camp gusto certainly set the tone for expectations going forward. An FCC, Full Conversion Cyborg. No doubt Lt. Ridge was a Sergeant now elevated from a Non-Commissioned Officer to a full commission in light of the surgery. NCO's could dream about the day their tours of duty were over, return to normal life, take up a trade, raise the next generation of Coalition Killers ready to squash bugs and blast wizards to hell's gate and back. No, for Ridge this was now his life's work, one he thankfully seemed to embrace and enjoy. I don't know if I'd do the same in his shoes, but it's not like you have much choice once it's done.

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?
Well, as the saying goes, 'speak when spoken to' right? Hell, what was the worst that could happen from playing along? PT? Latrine duty?

Sgt. Graves knew better than to let any green recruits see an NCO shrink in front of the same punishment they deal on a daily basis. Still, there was a way to play along and toe the line of respect.

"That depends. If a Federation wizard ate a railgun round in the rectum from a full kilo out, would you laugh, sir?" Graves replied with a cold poker face, struggling to keep a smile from forming. Clearly, he could tell Lt. Ridge's inner Sergeant was in rare form and a good show was a sad thing to waste. Besides, they both knew there were no aces here, only Smiling Jacks.

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?"
Man if I had chicken wings right about now, I'd bench press a Glitterboy. He thought to himself, stomach tempted to release an audible growl. He kept his silence. Big talk meant nothing here. All that mattered was how they performed in the field. Knowing that his CO was looking intently over his shoulder meant that there were no excuses. Especially not 'equipment failure'. Only a dead target or a dead soldier.

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?
"Sir, yes sir!" He snapped a salute, ready to get to work. Upon promotion from a typical soldier like a Private or Corporal there was the expectation that one would eventually take the reigns of leadership. Whether that was actual field command or training the next batch made little difference. The point was that each rank came with a solemn duty to humanity. An NCO's was to turn civilians into killers. Even for a newly minted Sergeant.

"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?"
"Sir, yes sir!" Josh barked again, enthusiasm mounting as his stomach longed to cry out for its favorite meal. The one-man-chicken-apocalypse was eager to earn his keep. From what followed, however, they'd live to see another day. At least until drills were done. Looks like PT it is...

***

Josh bunkered down, weapons cold sights up. Fifty-five minutes was quite a wait, no sense taking to the air and alerting the enemies of impending Coalition justice and worse, burning fuel. Regardless of estimates, his eyes were still out hunting for targets.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
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?"
Stacey has the sudden, almost irresistible urge to giggle as the Borg Lieutenant is yelling at her in her face, a reaction that would not bode well for her future ability to stay alive, she's sure. Cluster bomb? Not as bad of a nickname as being called the 'little princess'. I can handle that. She takes a deep breath, then says with force, "Sir! I hear you, loud and clear! Sir, I can guarantee that those damn DBees won't see a goddamned thing as I shove some high explosive right up their asses and light the fuse. You want a 'cluster bomb?' I'll give you one hell of an explosion, enough to send a man up into orbit!" She can't contain the cheeky grin as she stands there any more. "Sir, you tell me what target you want brought down, and it won't be standing once I'm done with it."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Lt. Summer makes her appearance just in time to have the APC set out for the training range, and once she is in, the crew starts up the engine with a low rumble and soon after it starts to roll out. Some of the old hands set themselves up in the small bunk room and close their eyes for an expected few hour nap, while others pull out a deck of cards and begin to play a few hands. Everything is nice and quiet, right up until MSG King, standing in his MDC body armor, gets a nod from Lt. Summer and he slaps his hand down on the internal alarm.

A loud klaxon starts to blare, but it is not loud enough to drown out the sound of King's voice shouting at the crew. "Don't move any faster, private! Those DBees out there won't mind if you want some more beauty sleep! That means you need to haul your lazy ass out of that rack and get into your armor! The training standard is that you can get into your megasuit in 120 seconds, and that time starts now! The last one to get into their gear and be ready for action is going to lose their next liberty while everyone else is hoisting a beer! Move move move!"

With a deadly smile, King watches the grunts sliding into their battle gear, and finally they are all armored and armed appropriately for a fight. He stops in front of one of the troopers and says, "Soldier! What is your name?"

"Private First Class Dennis Young, Master Sergeant!"

"Do you remember what it was that I said would happen to the last trooper in their gear?"

"Yes, Master Sergeant! You said the last person ready to deploy would lose their next liberty!"

King says, "Very good, nugget! You can remember basic instructions. See me after the exercise, Private Young."

"Yes, Master Sergeant!"

"Ma'am, sir! Ground troops are fully ready, with 18 seconds to spare. Air wing now needs to suit up in the SAMAS suits and we will be able to begin the exercise." He goes to take his position next to one of the open SAMAS suits, and shouts out, "Steel Rain Squad! The training standard to power up a SAMAS suit is 180 seconds. The last one in their powered suits and ready to fly will be joining Private Young for some extra duty! Seal them up tight and stand by to deploy!"

Sherwood Sherwood Vaneheart Vaneheart Rykon Rykon Silanon Silanon All of you please give me a percentile roll to see which one of you rolls the lowest and is the last one to be flight ready.
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
When the klaxon sounds, it jerks Stacey out of a short dozing sleep and she rolls out of her bunk and reaches for her gear. Once her MDC suit is on with a thankful sigh that she was not the last one ready to fight, she moves over to her SAMAS suit and waits for the order to seal up the flying powered armor and take to the sky. Her Sidewinder is not as fast as the newest Smiling Jack model, nor is it as heavily armored, but it packs one hell of a missile punch. Add to that the oomph that the particle beam cannon brings to the fight, and whatever it is out there that they will run into will be on the short end of the stick.

With the Sidewinder fully sealed, Hatch reaches out and grabs her hand held cannon and stands ready, hoping that she is not the last one flight ready, but sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case. Stacey swears up a storm in her head. I'm an explosives expert, goddamn it! Not some flying ace! I should have some credit for that on my time!
 

Vaneheart

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


Stone awakes out of his short nap and get this gear. He was relieved that he wasn't the last one to have his gear ready and in order. He readied his SAMAS power armor and powered up.
 

Silanon

Three Thousand Club
Amy Winters

Seconds are too damn short once you begin to count them. Not that Amy even has time to spare for that - but she still feels them fly by with every move she makes, trying to get herself suited up and ready to deploy. Still a little groggy - at some point, she must've dozed off a little. But routine still kicks in. Somewhat. The reliable autopilot while she gets her brain back to working shape. Doesn't take too long. It soon spits out curses that never reach anyone's ears. No point in complaining, is there? If cursing would get rid of the D-Bees, they surely would've ceased to exist by now. So she just does her thing, the best she can. Hopes that it's enough to be first, or at least not last. Being last ain't fun, and it ain't enough for her ego, either.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
It is pretty clear right out the gate that Stacey is the slowest person getting suited up, and King turns on her like a shark on a bloody swimmer. "What's the matter, Hatch? I thought that you would be able to tell your head from your ass by now! I'll give you a hint! Your head is where all that shit you were talking a moment ago is coming out of! If you are this slow in getting your ordnance prepped up, we'll all be dead as we wait for you to get it done! Hell, I've had toy soldiers that performed better than you."

Finally, everyone is in their MDC bodysuits or the SAMAS Powered Armor, and King turns to look at the two lieutenants. "Ma'am? Sir? Fourth Platoon is now finally ready to deploy. Private Young and Sergeant Hatch have the honors of being the slowest to load into their gear, and as of now, have lost their next pass. Ready for your inspection, ma'am."

Lt. Summer, looking quite good in her own armor, takes her time inspecting every member of the team, making observations about the person's equipment, offering up suggestions on how to set up their gear to be better for field deployment performance, leaving the SAMAS suits to Lt. Ridge to inspect with King at his side.
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Stacey clenches her teeth as she listens to King's rant about her being so slow to keep herself from saying anything at all. It would most certainly be folly to speak out at all. Now fully armed up in her SAMAS suit, she waits for Lt. Ridge to make his will be known.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
King falls silent as Lt. Summer begins to inspect the SAMAS powered suits of the APC's air wing. One by one, she goes to the flying suits and gives them a skillful once-over, spending extra time with Sgt. Hatch's powered suit. When she is done, the Lieutenant pauses in front of Stacey and says, "You may be trained in the use of these suits, but if you can't keep up the high standards of the squad, I will have King land on you like a goddamned avalanche, and I don't care how useful your skill set is outside this armor. Am I clear?"

Lt. Summer turns to face the whole squad and says, "Aside from a couple of exceptions, the platoon responded quickly and with vigor. Good work, everyone. We will begin the live fire exercise with a rapid deployment in a simulated urban environment, with Lt. Ridge's team providing overwatch from the air. I will monitor from the APC's command center, and Sgt. Ryan will lead the infantry force to perform a breach of the building. The APC will be the extra punch for the ground troops. Get ready for deployment."
 
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Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"Get ready for deployment."
"Yes, ma'am," Ridge responds and goes to doing just that.

Now fully armed up in her SAMAS suit, she waits for Lt. Ridge to make his will be known.
Ridge personally gives everyone's Smiling Jack SAMAS units a good once-over, not so much out of doubt, but out of curiosity. He and King are the only Special Forces here and he could tell just by the ways the others had worn their armor. On Ridge's armor, everything was taped down or secured. Nothing rustled or gave him away. Bad enough he had a 6 foot 6, 700-pound body to give the team away with; it would have been worse if he had not done everything in his power to quiet the rest. Special Forces training comes with a lot of knowledge. Complacency kills, but so does ignorance.

"Squadron, dismount out of your SAMAS units and stand proudly at attention!" Ridge is the first to pop out of his suit. He leaves the power armor set in such a way as to have it set up, ready for the routine he was trained with. But first, he starts with their body armor and gear.

Ridge goes through the would-be Steel Rain (as they were a squadron now only in name as far as he was concerned) with a roll of black heavy-duty duct-tape and the first one he starts on is Hatch. Instead of reaming her ass (Lt. Summer had already done that), Ridge coolly orders his entire squadron, "Watch me."

Ridge tightens holsters, quiets grenades, secures knives, and more. If it rustles, he tapes it down in such a way that it makes no noise when carried or when released, nor is it ever taped in such a way that it gets in the way of its operation. He only uses as much black tape as is needed. Everything else, he arranges carefully so it can be drawn and holstered with as little sound and inconvenience as possible.

"Jump, Hatch. Lemme hear you jingle." When Hatch doesn't "jingle," Ridge moves onto the next person. The entire time, Ridge doesn't jingle (and he imagines neither does King).

"Now see my Smiling Jack? See how it's arranged? Follow this routine and you won't lose anything and fumble up." Ridge points out Hatch without making her look any more the fool than she already feels. Everyone had bad days. Something in Ridge felt for the young EOD soldier because no one enjoyed looking the fool, especially when you were new and had a reputation to earn. Hatch was already on Summer's shit-list and that there was no competition for that particular honor (for she had lost her liberty by a mile) was bad for Hatch. Ridge had to help her, help them all, and he was in a position to.

In Ridge's off-kilter mind, the lesson Summer has provided had Hatch's mental mouth wide open. Now it was time to feed Hatch something she could use; something that would help keep her alive. Closing his eyes, Ridge enters his Smiling Jack by feel alone as he follows a drill that serves him well. In moments, his power armor is humming and ready and so is he, humming along to some tune most people here are probably too young to know.

There wasn't much to tape down on the SAMAS unit, but if it jingled, Ridge taped that too, again starting with Hatch.

"Next time, you do it. Hear me, soldiers?"

When they responded, Ridge told Lt. Summer, "We are ready, ma'am." It may be just another live fire exercise, but Ridge was starting to get excited again. His darlings were waiting! He had missed his darlings! It was only a matter of time. The training was just another way to greet them. The training ground? A kitchen! His squadron? Soldiers hungry for blood! His mental utensils were, as always, sharp and ready, and The Beast in him was hungry tonight. =)
 
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Both Master Sergeant King and Lieutenant Summer watch with interest as Ridge goes along each person's gear, taping up any jingly bits to keep from making any extraneous sounds if you ever have to dismount from your SAMAS suits in the field. Ridge can tell that he has earned a few bonus points in King's mind from the quality of your inspection and the handling of your squadron.

Over the next several hours, the platoon makes several different attack actions in both the simulated urban environment and out in the countryside, with the infantry squad calling in heavier support firepower from the SAMAS team, with Lt. Summer coordinating both sets of soldiers from the command center of the APC, staying on the move, and having the crew of the armored tank also providing covering fire from the weapons mounted on it.

Lt. Summer is very busy from her position in the APC, making the various squads operate with different objectives and complications, including having members act as casualties and make the platoon recover the simulated wounded while under fire and pull them back to safety, including having the air wing operate with a man (or woman) down, and you have to go in and rescue the fallen suit's pilot before having the pilot get captured by the 'enemy'. Overall, everyone works together well, and the few mistakes made are discussed in detail with the comment that if you are going to screw the pooch, best to do it in the safe environment of a training range instead of out in the 'real world'.

It is coming up on dawn before the Lieutenant decides to call a halt to the training run and recalls everyone back to the APC to get some rest. As the tired soldiers secure their field gear while the APC makes its way back to the barracks, Summer directs King and Ridge to join her in the command center to go over some important facts of how the troops responded. She says, "There were a few mistakes made, but the platoon was quick in learning from them and were able to react quickly. Considering that half of the platoon is fresh from training, it is a pleasant surprise to see that the grunts have picked up their lessons so well. Carlton, your squad of fly boys did a good bit of work tonight. I'm impressed with how well they did in the various scenarios that we threw at them."

She looks forward to where the troops are all sitting back and talking with one another, and Lt. Summer continues. "Feel free to come up with a good bonus for them to show the squad that while discipline is going to be strict, good work is going to be rewarded. Be creative and see what you can come up with." She glances at her wristwatch and says, "We'll be back to the barracks in about fifteen minutes. Once we get back and have the gear secured, let them have some rack time up to 1500. After PT and some food, pack up the APC for our forward deployment tomorrow morning."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Carlton, your squad of fly boys did a good bit of work tonight. I'm impressed with how well they did in the various scenarios that we threw at them."
"Thank you, ma'am."

There were times it was very, very good to be a cyborg. Since he wore his face shield, Lt. Summer could not watch his eyes get wide with surprise. With his "face shield" up, Ridge's face was unable to be scrutinized because it completely lacked expression; it was his "skull face" underneath it that was all so very expressive and the one he wore when doing most of his, well, expressing.

See his Character Sheet for pictures.

Nobody, nobody, had called him by his first name except for his mother and his father and the last time he had seen them was when they were helping put him back together again. "Allen?" Fine among strangers like Summer. "Ridge?" His preference among the military and those he chose to be familiar with. But "Carlton?" Who did this officer think she was? His date for the evening?

Ridge realizes in that moment that he is letting his emotions get the better of him - a typical mental side effect of losing the body one was born with and the head injuries that set his brain back to novice levels of skills. Not to mention his other mental issues. Having recognized this, he cools it. Compartmentalizes it. Puts it away before he overanalyzes it. He realizes quickly that whatever she decides to call him, he is in command of and responsible for his own person. A strange reaction, Ridge thinks, given that he was just calling his own subordinates every creative name he could think of just hours ago and now here he was getting bent out of shape over the same thing! How hypocritical of him! He loved it! A problem to be solved! A solution to be created and followed! Wisdom earned! It made him feel alive. During his ass-chewings, the only one he thought that stayed frosty throughout all of it was Stone. Everyone else had fallen for it and given Ridge something. Especially Winters. Oh, the curve balls life threw you!

"Feel free to come up with a good bonus for them to show the squad that while discipline is going to be strict, good work is going to be rewarded. Be creative and see what you can come up with." She glances at her wristwatch and says, "We'll be back to the barracks in about fifteen minutes. Once we get back and have the gear secured, let them have some rack time up to 1500. After PT and some food, pack up the APC for our forward deployment tomorrow morning."
Ridge looks as thoughtful as a "faceless" cyborg can. "I have yet to see soldiers that didn't appreciate a little R&R, ma'am. A few hours, not enough to get into any real trouble. As big as it is, Rico is a Fire Base and not a city, so... where are they gonna go? Except for Young and Hatch, of course." Ridge ponders, his metal fingers raise as he counts to three. "For Hatch... I recommend she remain and drill on SAMAS operation, maintenance, and combat techniques. That will improve both her knowledge and confidence; something she needs after today's performance inside Gloria. Young, of course, is not mine to advise. The idea of R&R now also throws the weight of their recent punishments off of their backs, clearing their heads for the mission before us. I think the less hang-ups people have before battle, ma'am, the better."

Ridge looks to King as if to see if he has anything to say, but he stops short of asking him given the air of the meeting.
 
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Vaneheart

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


Stone momentarily felt bad for Hatch, and held no ill will. He considered Sometimes these things happen. You don't want them to, but they do. You skyline yourself, duck when you should have dropped prone, zig when you should have zagged. Only thing to do is to learn from it and tighten up. Someone had to be the slowest. Tomorrow is a whole new day. He tried to give Hatch a reassuring nod, in a "you'll get them next time" sort of way, but he wasn't sure if he was successful.

When Lieutenant Ridge made a point about securing gear with tape, he was amused. Is this news to the Army? You learn this in the Marines during field week in recruit training at boot camp. He briefly recalled doing a stealth training mission, low crawling in the soggy mud, under barbed wire with his fellow recruits, while parachute flares illuminated overhead, and the simulated gunfire and artillery sounds stopped, forcing him and his fellow recruits to freeze still and make no noise or movement, lest they be discovered by the enemy and marked for death. He reflected on the technique. The trick with it wasn't just to secure gear that made noise. It was also to note what needed to remain loose or unsecured, and try to limit that as much as possible while not restricting it entirely. Many an overeager private had secured straps, lanyards, and cords excessively, only to find they couldn't pull a sidearm that had the lanyard secured too tight during a parachute drop, or worse yet, drowned or burned to death because they couldn't unlatch or loosen their webgear and couldn't get to their vibro-knife fast enough to cut themselves loose. The other side of it was reflectivity. Every bit of gear had a surface or a color, sometimes the inner materials would be exposed due to excessive wear, revealing the bright metal underneath. Or a previous matte surface would be worn so smooth that it easily reflected light. That had to be repainted, matted up, or in a pinch, also taped, as something bright, reflective, or shiny in the dark could give a platoon away as easily as noise. Not everyone had access to thermoptic camo, and even then, sometimes it failed. Stone's gear was already secured in this manner, as that's what Marines are expected to do upon issue. Still, he remained silent and watched Ridge's lesson carefully, being mindful of anything noteworthy he might not have thought of. Never hurts to have a second look. He was momentarily reminded of the secondary threat airwings faced in this regard: Foreign Object Debris, infamously known as "FOD." FOD could mess up intakes on engines, damage or get stuck in armor joints, get caught in the electrical works behind the armor or aircraft powerplant, or damage manifolds. Gear that was too loose or haphazard could functionally serve as FOD, getting sucked into turbines from the air pressure change and grinding a flight plan to a halt. The more sophisticated the system, the easier it was to mess up the plumbing. It didn't take much either. Hence why no one wears standard caps, covers, and berets in an active or soon to be active airfield. He had even heard of a entire person getting sucked into a large jet engine during a routine engine check gone awry. From what he could see, it didn't seem like that was a major issue at the moment, but it was something he kept having to remind himself to be mindful of, as he hadn't been in an airwing long. On the ground side of things, this didn't often come up unless a unit was regularly assigned to air deployment, so he hadn't had to regularly before.

***

The training exercise itself was a nice change of pace. Stone could finally see what his fellows were made of, and he felt it was a good chance to feel out everyone's strengths, weaknesses, and establish some basic rapport with one another. Maybe do some teambuilding. He found his apprehension about working with the Army largely fading, as everyone seemed quite competent and capable. Working within a combined arms unit, even one this small, was quite familiar to him, as combined arms was a mainstay of Navy-Marine Corps war doctrine by it's very nature. Yet at the same time, while the overall concept was the same with this Army unit, Stone was in a new role. This was the first time outside of RPA training commands that he was the one in the air providing support to a ground unit, instead of the other way around. He smirked to himself as he briefly marveled at the new perspective. He was also pleasantly surprised at the officer's ability to call for fire and designate targets. He thought Looks like we won't have to worry about the officers fucking up a call for CAS or other fire missions and hitting their own men and positions. He paused. Still, most officers out of the better academies can at least do a basic call for fire during a training run and get the coordinates mostly correct. But while actively under fire from hostiles...? The thought lingered for a moment, before he pushed it away with his other doubts. So far everything seems fine. The training run was good. What are you worried about? Yet the troubling rumors he had heard while on the flight and in the bay briefly returned to his mind. He recalled an old adage, from the days of Old Earth, written on a wall in the Great Lakes Naval Station, but also spoken in the classes there: "No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force." He idly wondered how all the bandit kings, petty warlords, raiders, and D-Bee monarchs out there in the wastelands and ruins of Old America trained their soldiers, and if they trained nearly as hard, or as well.

***

As the exercise wound down, and everyone returned to the APC and secured their gear, Stone once again considered Sergeant Hatch's situation, and how it reflected on, as well as affected, the squad. Everyone else is going to be allowed some down time, except her. Doesn't seem right to me that she should face the "fuckery" of drill and remedial training alone. A squad is only as strong as its weakest link, and it's all of our jobs to strengthen those bonds. He paused. One step at a time though. You don't want to come off as an asshole. She's a E-5/Sergeant too. Use some tact, don't give the wrong idea. You need to be able to depend on this person in a fight, and she needs to be able to depend on you as well.

Resolved, Stone walked up to Hatch and decided to introduce himself. Waiting for the right moment, he eventually asks "Sergeant Hatch? I'm Sergeant Bronson Stone." He extended a hand for a handshake. "I think I heard you are an EOD specialist? That's awesome. Where did you train for it? I have some basic training in EOD myself, via the Combatant's Diving and Underwater Demolitions School, but I doubt if it's as extensive as your own. I'd love to get some tips sometime." When (also if) an opportunity presents itself, Stone continues. "No one should have to face remedial training and drill alone, especially on their first day...with an officer who is probably trying to flex a little, since it's also his first day as well." He thought to himself A 'borg officer. Do they even get tired? He's more machine now than man. Just how much humanity was left in Ridge? Would he still recognize tiredness, combat stress, and exhaustion in others? Or does the empathy and recognition of human social and behavioral cues fade with the memory of the old flesh body? He was reminded of the berating and "dressing down" earlier in the day. He...seems human enough. Definitely much more going on there than just an overly sophisticated skelebot. But how long would that last? Humanity indeed. He continued. "He and the rest of the officers probably feel like they have something to prove." He gave a friendly grin. "You know how it goes. Got to make that first impression, put on a hard face, set the tone of the unit, be the strong face of discipline, instill a little fear, test the morale. The burden of command. Semper Fi and all that." He briefly grinned again, but then was impassive. "Don't get me wrong, I am sure you can take whatever he gives. I do not doubt, nor am I questioning your ability. That said, we're a team. A squad. I'd like to join you." He paused briefly, then carefully explained himself. "In a Navy or Marine Corps unit, if one of us "fucks up"....even if it's a bullshit "green-weenie" situation, we ALL have fucked up. We all eat together, we all sweat together, we all serve together, we all bleed together. We all push together. Solidarity. Camaraderie. Esprit de Corps. We have to look out for each other." He shrugged, and sincerely said "This isn't a Marine Corps unit, but from what I've seen today, it's on the road to being an elite unit, and everyone here is a professional. Personally, I think we should all be up there with you. But I can only speak for myself. I'd like to join you in your remedial training, as your comrade in arms, if you'll allow it." He paused, and added "Maybe I can even take some heat and focus off of you for a bit."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Resolved, Stone walked up to Hatch and decided to introduce himself. Waiting for the right moment, he eventually asks "Sergeant Hatch? I'm Sergeant Bronson Stone." He extended a hand for a handshake. "I think I heard you are an EOD specialist? That's awesome. Where did you train for it? I have some basic training in EOD myself, via the Combatant's Diving and Underwater Demolitions School, but I doubt if it's as extensive as your own. I'd love to get some tips sometime." When (also if) an opportunity presents itself, Stone continues. "No one should have to face remedial training and drill alone, especially on their first day...with an officer who is probably trying to flex a little, since it's also his first day as well." He thought to himself A 'borg officer. Do they even get tired? He's more machine now than man. Just how much humanity was left in Ridge? Would he still recognize tiredness, combat stress, and exhaustion in others? Or does the empathy and recognition of human social and behavioral cues fade with the memory of the old flesh body? He was reminded of the berating and "dressing down" earlier in the day. He...seems human enough. Definitely much more going on there than just an overly sophisticated skelebot. But how long would that last? Humanity indeed. He continued. "He and the rest of the officers probably feel like they have something to prove." He gave a friendly grin. "You know how it goes. Got to make that first impression, put on a hard face, set the tone of the unit, be the strong face of discipline, instill a little fear, test the morale. The burden of command. Semper Fi and all that." He briefly grinned again, but then was impassive. "Don't get me wrong, I am sure you can take whatever he gives. I do not doubt, nor am I questioning your ability. That said, we're a team. A squad. I'd like to join you." He paused briefly, then carefully explained himself. "In a Navy or Marine Corps unit, if one of us "fucks up"....even if it's a bullshit "green-weenie" situation, we ALL have fucked up. We all eat together, we all sweat together, we all serve together, we all bleed together. We all push together. Solidarity. Camaraderie. Esprit de Corps. We have to look out for each other." He shrugged, and sincerely said "This isn't a Marine Corps unit, but from what I've seen today, it's on the road to being an elite unit, and everyone here is a professional. Personally, I think we should all be up there with you. But I can only speak for myself. I'd like to join you in your remedial training, as your comrade in arms, if you'll allow it." He paused, and added "Maybe I can even take some heat and focus off of you for a bit."
As a very tired Stacy is going over her armor and securing it for return to the garage, she is both pleased at how the training went and still somewhat angry for her earlier screwup that put a huge bullseye on her back for Lt. Ridge to zero in on. When her fellow squad member comes up to her and opens up in conversation, she gives him a smile. "Thanks. Do you prefer I call you Bronson, or Stone? I'm Stacey, but ever since I hit the training fields as a private all those months ago, I was known as Hatch. Kinda used to it by now." She listens to Bronson's pitch about the new officers having to flex their muscles a bit and nods in agreement. "Yeah, I see that, too. I think that the one of the trio of our new leadership cadre that has their shit together the most is King. That guy seems to me to be a real pro, having been there and done that, and has the medals to prove it. I'm going to make sure to listen to him when the bullets start flying for real."

"I served most of my tour at Chi Town, learning the fun of making things blow up. Not only did my training cover placing and disarming explosives, but the art of making IEDs out of just about anything around you that has the potential of having a reaction. Given enough time, I can even jimmy up the standard warheads of our missiles to have a higher blast potential. It takes a few hours per warhead, so I can't just make the whole team's ordnance explode nastier, but a few here and there? Yeah, I can do that." She thinks for a moment, then adds, "I got to say, being a demo specialist is a remarkably stress free job. Either you disarm the explosive in front of you correctly, or it is no longer your problem to worry about anymore. it took me a while to learn that nugget of wisdom, but when I did, it made live exercises a lot easier to get through."

Then, when Stone opened up and offered to stay behind and work on suit training with her while everyone else gets some liberty, she offers up another smile. "Thanks. I mean it. It will be a lot easier to deal with the 'fun' that Lt. Ridge will be coming up with for me if there is someone there with me. I'm sure it will involve speed drills of getting into the SAMAS suit and powering it up faster. I can't say I blame him for that; getting into the suit during an emergency faster than I did might be the difference between someone coming home or not. Don't want to deal with the guilt of screwing things up that bad, y'know? I just hope that there won't be any more of this 'last one in is denied liberty' shit."
 

Rykon

Four Thousand Club
Sergeant Graves seemed to hesitate in disbelief. Only one was to be punished? That's not how things had ever worked to his memory. Peer pressure had always been the sharpest sword in a leader's arsenal for harassing their unit into shape. However, it could backfire if one doled out punishment assignments too often or on too petty an infraction. The 'chicken shit' was a phenomenon that dated back even before the world ended. So far, Ridge's standards were solely driven by performance relating to actual field duties. This much was as expected.

Like Stone, Josh stepped up to help out Stacey Hatch. "Why not make three of us then. I'm not used to military reprimands that don't weigh down the whole unit either, and I'll second that Stacey. Y'all can call me Josh or Graves. I'm not one to leave a comrade behind, last or not. Lost enough friends to DBees already."

[I'm a bit late to the game, but I'll throw in the d100 roll. lol yikes]
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
"Thank you, ma'am."

There were times it was very, very good to be a cyborg. Since he wore his face shield, Lt. Summer could not watch his eyes get wide with surprise. With his "face shield" up, Ridge's face was unable to be scrutinized because it completely lacked expression; it was his "skull face" underneath it that was all so very expressive and the one he wore when doing most of his, well, expressing.

See his Character Sheet for pictures.

Nobody, nobody, had called him by his first name except for his mother and his father and the last time he had seen them was when they were helping put him back together again. "Allen?" Fine among strangers like Summer. "Ridge?" His preference among the military and those he chose to be familiar with. But "Carlton?" Who did this officer think she was? His date for the evening?

Ridge realizes in that moment that he is letting his emotions get the better of him - a typical mental side effect of losing the body one was born with and the head injuries that set his brain back to novice levels of skills. Not to mention his other mental issues. Having recognized this, he cools it. Compartmentalizes it. Puts it away before he overanalyzes it. He realizes quickly that whatever she decides to call him, he is in command of and responsible for his own person. A strange reaction, Ridge thinks, given that he was just calling his own subordinates every creative name he could think of just hours ago and now here he was getting bent out of shape over the same thing! How hypocritical of him! He loved it! A problem to be solved! A solution to be created and followed! Wisdom earned! It made him feel alive. During his ass-chewings, the only one he thought that stayed frosty throughout all of it was Stone. Everyone else had fallen for it and given Ridge something. Especially Winters. Oh, the curve balls life threw you!



Ridge looks as thoughtful as a "faceless" cyborg can. "I have yet to see soldiers that didn't appreciate a little R&R, ma'am. A few hours, not enough to get into any real trouble. As big as it is, Rico is a Fire Base and not a city, so... where are they gonna go? Except for Young and Hatch, of course." Ridge ponders, his metal fingers raise as he counts to three. "For Hatch... I recommend she remain and drill on SAMAS operation, maintenance, and combat techniques. That will improve both her knowledge and confidence; something she needs after today's performance inside Gloria. Young, of course, is not mine to advise. The idea of R&R now also throws the weight of their recent punishments off of their backs, clearing their heads for the mission before us. I think the less hang-ups people have before battle, ma'am, the better."

Ridge looks to King as if to see if he has anything to say, but he stops short of asking him given the air of the meeting.
Lt. Summer gives her subordinate a tired nod. "Excellent. Now, after how well the platoon did out there tonight, mistakes and all, I feel that giving everyone six hours of liberty starting at 1600 will be appropriate, even for Private Young and Sergeant Hatch. MasSergeant, once the announcement has been made, pull our two slowboats aside and give them a 'I had a change of heart due to the good job done this evening' talk, and tell them to make sure to hustle their asses next time or you won't be so forgiving. I know sure as hell that the DBees out there won't cut them any slack. I don't want to yank away your credibility with the soldiers by overriding your orders like that."

King nods. "Understood, ma'am. I'll make it happen."

She then looks over at Ridge. "Lieutenant, I don't know how much sleep you need, but make sure you get some down time too. We won't be getting much of it once we are out in the field."


Once the APC pulls into its parking slot, technicians and ammo loaders can be seen standing by, ready to top off the ordnance payload of the SAMAS suits and the APC itself, and once everyone is off the transport, they move in with cases of energy clips, rail gun ammo and mini-missiles. The Master Sergeant, still looking wide awake despite the long hours of the training drill, yells out, "Fourth platoon, fall in!" He stands still as everyone lines up in a double row, then says, "At ease. Lieutenant? Waiting for your orders, ma'am."

Summer steps forward, and says, "I am pleased with how everyone has performed this evening. Given that fact, once the APC is prepped for its deployment, everyone has some serious rack time coming to them. Wake up call is at 1500, and 'morning' PT is at 1530. I'll make sure to tell Master Sergeant King to go easy on you. Then, everyone gets six hours of on base leave time, with evening roll call at 2000 to be back at the barracks. Lt. Ridge, I leave the platoon in your capable hands."

With that, King calls the platoon to attention once more as Lt. Summer leaves you to your work.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"Yes, ma'am." Lt. Ridge steps up with eagerness and with a tone that carries seriousness without threat. As always, he looks each of you in the eye as he slowly paces. "Air Wing. Platoon. These are my strong recommendations. Use this time to get your personal lives squared away. Send videos to your loved ones and all that. If you have anything on your chest for them, get it out before we go."

He indicates the APC and then the group. "Miss Gloria here is seeing a lot of new blood. Strangers. There's also those who know each other well." Ridge leans forward. "I want any grudges you may have with each other settled. Gone. Erased. Gloria does not have room for your baggage, so take as little of it with you as you can. Leave the rest here."

"Take it from a metal man - the D-Bees mean serious business. They are going to try to bury us. We bury them first! If you don't think you're prepared, seek King or myself. We will aid you.

"Above all, remember! We are human beings! Earth is our home! Not those spineless monsters who come out of a Rift, trying to steal what is not theirs! Not those who utilize magic and succumb to evil forces at the very cost of their souls!

"We are humanity! If we don't stop these sons of the bitches from taking our ground, killing and enslaving those we love, sacrificing our people to demons, who's gonna?"

Ridge stops pacing. "Any one of you gonna do it? No. We do it together. And why? For whom? You know the answer. Say it with me. Humanity!

His growl is pure predator. His eyes glare at you, daring you to shout louder with him. "Who are we killing for? Hyoo-man-i-tay!

"Who is counting on us? Hyoo-man-i-tay!

"Who pays the price if we fail? Hyoo-man-i-tay!

Ridge nods with death in his mechanical stare. "So we're gonna succeed! Get some! Do our part! Come home with some tales to tell! Remember that, soldiers! Spend your time wisely. See us if you need to. Dismissed." Ridge stands tall and statuesque, waiting to see if anyone approaches him.
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Stacey listens impassively to Lt. Summer as she gives her orders, standing in formation with the rest of the platoon. It is no surprise that there is still PT to go to after some shut eye; the Green Machine runs on the sweat and blood of its soldiers, and if they don't keep up the effort, all the hard work of the time spent in training will go from muscle to fat. Still, it is not really that big of a deal to crank out some pushups.

Once Lt. Ridge starts his pep talk, it pulls Stacy's mind away from the future workout as she listens to the infectious enthusiasm of the man. It is clear that Ridge is a true believer of what he's saying. Makes me feel good to know that I'm serving under a man that sees the truth.

After getting the order to disperse, she approaches the Borg and says, "Sir? Depending on how long we are on the road, I can spend some time tweaking some mini missiles for our SAMAS suits to be able to have a little bit more yield to them. It would not be many, since it take an hour or two for each warhead, but against the monsters out there, a boosted charge missile or two on each suit might just be the difference between success and failure. I just didn't want to do any work on the missiles without prior approval from you, sir."

Unless Ridge brings up the slow start of her being the last one to suit up, Stacey won't say anything about it. She messed up, got chewed on, and is quite willing to take her lumps without complaint.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Sherwood Sherwood

Ridge looks down at Hatch. At 6 foot, 6 inches in height, that happens a lot. "Ahh, taking a baby step towards Clusterbomb, are we? Hatch, we have seen how you handle failure. How one handles failure says more to me about one's character than how one handles success, don't you think?" Ridge points at her. "Get this done, Hatch. Show your munitions to me when you are finished. If your work is worthy to be loaded into our Smiling Jacks and used in combat, well... then we'll see how things feel on the other end of the scale, won't we?"

Ridge muses. Stronger warheads against the likes of his darlings? The Weapons Engineer in him was curious. How could he say no? Especially from someone who was clearly willing to put in the effort instead of wallow in the dumps and hide away. In Ridge's mind, perseverance was a sign of a true soldier. Silently, he hopes Hatch has what it takes.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Once it is clear that Stacey has finished her conversation with Lt. Ridge, MSGT King calls her and Private Young over. "Listen up, you two. You did well out there tonight, and the Lieutenant is impressed. I will overlook your slow deployment times and let you both enjoy the time off before we drive out into the field tomorrow. Have some fun. Get drunk. Enjoy the time, but be back for evening roll call. Am I clear?"

Unless you stop him, King will roll up his sleeves and get to work on his SAMAS suit, making sure that it is fully armed with missiles and power cells for the rifle, setting a good example of how to get the work done to the rest of the air squad.

With everyone pulling their weight, the Gloria is quickly fully loaded and is prepped for combat, and everyone's weapons are properly stowed away and locked into place, letting everyone head to their rooms for some much needed sleep. All too soon, however, the alarm clocks are going off, calling you all out to do your required PT. The movement helps to get everyone up and going, with the blood pumping and feeling alive. After a relatively short exercise period, everyone is released to their rooms to get cleaned up, changed and get some free time. All of you now have six hours of liberty time on Fort Rico, free to do what you will (within reason).
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Thanks to the Master Sergeant changing his mind about staying behind and pulling extra duty while everyone else gets time off, Stacey does her best to get the Gloria loaded up quickly and safely so she can get some good sleepy time in before getting yanked out of bed for PT. After a quick shower and a change into her BDUs, one of the first things she does is to send a quick video message to her parents telling them that she is about to be deployed forward for the first time, and it may be a while before she can send any other messages like this one to them.

She gives them a grin as she talks, saying, "Don't worry too much about me. I have the best training out there, a top of the line powersuit, and a great team that I'm getting to know. It can't be any scarier than when I brought home my first boyfriend, right?" Stacey laughs a bit at the memory of her dad sitting at the dining room table, not saying much, just cleaning his old shotgun while she watched a movie with her old fling, Trevor. "Seriously, I will send a message back to you as often as I can. I'll make you guys proud of me! Love you both! Bye!"

With the tap of a few buttons, Stacey sends the message on its way, knowing that there is nothing classified in what she's sending to worry about it being censored by Military Intelligence. Then, she puts the tablet away and goes to find the rest of her squad, hoping to get to know them all a bit better over a beer or five.
 

Vaneheart

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


Stone settled into his new quarters. As he unpacked his belongings, he considered what to do with the evening. So much had been packed into the day that he found himself at a loss, as his mind still raced. We definitely hit the ground running. I'm surprised that I don't have a mountain of audio docs to watch and complete waiting here for me. We'll be in the field in a pretty short time. He reflected on what they might find out there. Once off base, the wasteland of Old America wasn't pretty, and was very dangerous. One big savage frontier. Having been from Chi-Town himself, Stone couldn't imagine trying to make a significant living out there in the ashes of the old world.

He glanced at his audio recorder and briefly considered sending his family a message, to at least let them know that he was safe and had made it to the command. Instead, he felt restless, and decided to put it off until later. I should unwind a little. Too much lingering excitement.

He decided to clean himself up, change clothes, and head out in search of a place that had beer.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
It does not take long for the new arrivals to the base to find out that there is only two good bars on post: The Smiling Jack, and Ruby's. Both have good drinks at fair prices, and since they are both on Fort Rico's grounds, it is a short trip to get to either one. From what you hear, there is no real difference between the two establishments, and there is always a good sized crowd at each one of various service men and women enjoying a few drinks.

There are other diversions on the base to take your minds off of the upcoming mission. A bowling alley and arcade are nearby the barracks, along with a movie theater. Plenty to do for the next six hours.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
After sending a video to his parents, getting some rest, and an hour of meditation, Ridge heads to whichever of the two bars he's had the most luck with getting information in the past.

Bars the world over can be good sources of hearsay and good old-fashioned stories - this is also true of military posts like FOB Rico except with the military, you are more likely to find people fresh from the field, trying to decompress their experiences.

Ridge believes hearing what they have to say sometimes leads to good finds which in turn might save you and yours some blood and bandages in the future. And to have not one but two bars on a forward operating base? Rare and wonderful.

Ridge is willing to part with some time and credits to buy cold ones and warm food and listen good if it helps a soldier out - and even moreso if what he learns helps his soldiers out.
 
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