Rick made a mental note to grab a rocket launcher anyways. Intel wasn't as dumb as the military often thought it was. Besides, the rocket launcher was the only thing he could reliably aim straight.
Giant holes that disappear, eh? Camilla shook her head softly; this did not bode well, either due to dodgy Intel, or worse, something that could modify terrain...
James nodded to McMillan and turned back, saluting "Sir, permission to fully arm ourselves for planetside?"
McMillan looked nervous. James had been drilling and stretching and pushing him almost constantly, and now he realized why James hadn't today, he'd been counting the days. If James wasn't trying to make-or-break him, it meant he thought something dangerous enough to warrant such caution might happen. Anything that scared the sarcastic assassin scared McMillan more, and he looked at Kell, suddenly becoming visible, hoping that his other teacher might somehow snap him out of his reverie, not realizing Kell might not even see McMillan now that he was stealthier, in a dark corner.
"An interesting bunch." Mused Jobe as he looked over the assembled squad. They all had side-kicks too. Why didn't he have someone to polish his boots? "Because they're scared of you" he found himself whispering. The weapon nut standing next to him threw him a quick glance then seemed to elect to ignore him. Whatever, it was of no consequence.
Jobe decided to pipe up: "Sir, I've gathered that we've been authorised to deal with any percieved threats by any means necassary. I'm assuming rules of engagement and animal rights crap don't apply to aliens? I REALLY don't want to have to waste my time justifying gutting the Earthworm From Hell."
"Permission granted." Jason responded saluting James back.
"The mission is kill anything that can be perceived as a threat. Sentient or not our mission is to kill them all. As so the rules of engagement do not apply." Jason answered.
Jobes eyes glinted "Splendid" he purred
Gah! Jobe seemed to get creepier by the second.
"Can we get any recommendations for which weapons to take?"
"You may take whichever weapon you'd like. Just take into account if you can carry it and if you are skilled with it." Jason responded.
"Just so I'm clear, what're another squad doing on the planet? I thought WE were the elite! I don't want a bunch of norm's stealing my kills and publicity" he glanced at the nearest feather "No offence"
"From what the report tells me Sergeant Clearwater was getting very impatient just staying on the ship. He put pressure on the E.U.S. Tokyo to send his squad down. But don't worry about your kills we are assigned to our own area that we will clear out. Ours is the biggest and most dangerous area." Jason stated.
"Most dangerous?" piped up Jinxie, "Due to what? And what kills? You said this place is uninhabited, right?"
Chris listened to the mission briefing and and asked, "Sir, how long do we have to stay down there? I mean when do we get picked up?" He then turned to his FEATHER and whispered to him, your going to sit this one out, just keep practicing with fire walls, and computer viruses. And don't forget about weapon maintenance."
"It is uninhabited to our knowledge. But when we were back on earth and Major McLelland told us about the holes I noticed that most of the holes were located here." Jason stated as he pointed to a spot of sand a good ways out from a body of water. "Even if it was caused by natural causes I still think this spot is the most likely to hold a threat if there is one. As for the kills, I don't know if this planet is inhabited or not the only way to find out is to land on it and find out for ourselves." Jason responded.
James nodded, and noticing where McMillan was looking, whispered something to him and walked out to the armory, leaving McMillan to salute to Jason, and Kell, before walking out himself.
McMillan arrived to James with a compact backpack containing the pieces of the M-1334 and it's various ammoes, he already had a Sidewinder on his hip holster and an HK-L on the front of his vest, in the time McMillan took to walk to the armory he'd covered it all in Optic Camo cloth, so that he wouldn't be visible by his gear. He also, rather scarily, had several combat knives on his belt. McMillan's eyes lingered on the blades, James had been using the Matrix room to teach him how to really use one, and he was scared of how much a small, straight sharp object is easily capable of killing somebody. "Sir, What should I-" "You sure you're ready, Private?" "Sir?" "It might be hard down there. I'm not certain I'll be able to hold your hand if things get rough. Are you sure you want to go down there when we have no idea what we'll find?" James had a knowing smirk on his face
"Yessir! I'll show whatever we find who's boss!" James laughed "I figured you might say that. As always, you might die. Now grab your knives, a sidewinder, whatever rifle you know best, and a Tau." ten minutes later, James and McMillan walked out in full armor, and went to the nearest bay to look out on the planet. McMillan did at least, James was busy ordering the Weapons Crewmen things he wanted them to do and what to do if something needed shooting.
Rick watched James and McMillan leave.
"If that is all, sir, I'd like to collect my weapons immediately."
"Well since there seem to be no more questions you all are dismissed. Meet me in the hangar in 30 minutes!" Jason orderd as the room started to clear. "You two you will be staying here and you go practice with the other recruits." Jason ordered to Mitchell and Webb.
Jason grabbed his bag which already had his weapons. He had a Tsunami, Devil's hand, and a Sidewinder. Jason then headed to the hangar and once he got there put his bag in the Pegasus and waited for the rest of his squad to join him.
Rick trotted down to the armory and selected three Cherub pistols, the Maelstrom assault rifle, and Excalibur rocket launcher, as well as a good supply of ammo. The pack fit snugly between him and his new shield, the launcher hooked right next to it, and the rifle slung over his shoulder. He holstered one pistol and gave the other two to Knobs.
"Knobs, I'm leaving you on the ship."
Knobs looked mildly disappointed. "How come?"
"I know that you're a good soldier, but I don't feel right taking you down to a planet where there's likely to be something even more monstrous, terrifying and oversized than my great aunt."
Knobs fought the urge to snicker. "What should I do, then?" He regarded the pistols in his hands with suspicion.
"Keep up on that Flammenwerfer. You nearly had the explosives chamber completed when I last checked. Also, train with those pistols."
"I can use guns, sir!"
"Yes, you can. In three shots, hit me six times."
Knobs hesitated, then raised the pistols. Both let out a massive bang, and Knobs' arms recoiled high. He barely pulled them down again (after great effort) when Rick leaped over and poked him in the forehead, knocking him off balance.
"Aaaaaaand you're dead! A heavy can rattle off three good shots with those things before the opponent recovers from the first hit. Practice with them until you can as well."
Knobs braced himself against a wall. "And... I assume that you can do that yourself?"
Rick grinned mischievously. "Nope!"
Jobe regarded the display of parent-teacher cameradery with disdain. How touching. His first squad commander had been like that to his men: encouraged and joked. Told his men to stick at it and they'd get the nack. He'd led the entire team into a killing-field and got half of them carved new nostrels in their torso's. Jobe ran his hands over the beautiful selection of weaponry. "Each one is an instrument in the grand ochestra of warfare" his grandfather had told him. Jobe picked up a "Damnation" shotgun and looked down the sights. He'd been wrong. Guns were tools. Nothing noble or heroic about one. And just like any other tool, you had to pick the right one for the right job. The shotgun would do, as would the two automatic "Browning Orphan" pistols. He took plenty of ammo for both, but not enough to encumber his movement. Finally, he grabbed a 20 inch combat machete from a rack and slid it into a sheath on his right hip.
"All set." He muttered, before looking out of the window at the rapidly approaching planet. A new world. So much to see, so much to experiance. So much to KILL!
The pair strolled into the weapons room, looking disproportionate yet balanced. Camilla's training hadn't been as direct as some, nor as brutal, but the efficiency of a well-bonded team was evident. Camilla selected a large, high caliber burst rifle, normally supplied with tripod, and a single, huge pistol.
Jinxie, on the other hand, selected weapons suited to supporting her mentor; a smaller rifle, yet single shot and of greater range, and a shotgun for close quarters, should foes close in too soon and Camilla's fists not be enough.
They were quick, efficient and barely spoke a word, selecting their gear with a mind to what the other would be going for. At no point was there even the question of Jinxie staying on-ship.
After telling Colon to keep up his training, Chris headed for the armory, where he picked up an H&K Shortbow L, and two SIG Seraphs, as well as, enough ammo to sustain himself if the need arose, but not enough to hinder his movement. Not only did he pick up a pair of binoculars, but also his personal data pad, he told the quartermaster to keep safe. With everything ready to go, he headed off to the hangar to wait for further orders.
Knobs sat down to keep welding the titanium scraps that he had taken from various places, but was suddenly aware that Rick had entered the room.
"Hey, Knobs... have you seen my harmonica?"
Rick sighed. "Knobs, did you take anything out of my personal pack?"
"Just a piece of metal full of holes. I wondered what it was."
Knobs wordlessly gave the harmonica back to Rick. Rick examined it quickly, then looked at Knobs. "And how exactly did you plan to figure out what it was?"
"By pulling it apart."
"Of... course." Rick blew a couple of loud notes. Knobs jumped. "It's a panic alarm? You're the last person I thought would need one."
"No, it's a musical instrument." Rick played a few bars of "Soon I Will Be Done With The Troubles Of The World", a melody that his mother would hum every time police brought his sister back to them, high as a kite and twice as flimsy. He grimaced a bit.
"When was this thing invented?" Knobs was a bit fascinated by it. "How much power does it take?"
"Nineteenth century, no power at all... not everything needs robotic components to work, you know. It's just an amusement to pass the time, should I be on guard duty." Rick slipped the harmonica into his pack and left towards the hangar. As he left, he called behind him: "By the way, Private. Please take a shower before I get back."
Most of the other WINGS had already left the briefing room for the armory. Those left seemed to be talking amongst themselves. Jason seemed to be watching Kell expectantly.
"So, how are we supposed to deal with the risks of entering deoxygenated areas, sir? Just avoid them entirely or will we not even be close enough to the edge of the safe areas to risk encountering them?" Kell asked.
He paused for a moment before continuing.
"And what about the possibility of intelligent life? If we can survive down there something else might've as well. Wouldn't be proper killing something that could wonder why exactly its bleeding."
He neglected to ask about Clearwater. He'd heard the name before and would dig up info on his own, free of the Captain's naturally polite filter.
As the Jason began to speak Kell nodded to Hunter who left, heading for the armory.
"We will be given a small oxygen tank if we are needed to go into the desert. We will try to avoid them unless its deemed necessary for us to go in there. As for the intelligent life, it doesn't matter if they can think at a high level or not. If it poses any threat it is to be eliminated, the settlers refuse to land unless they are guaranteed they will be safe. It may seem a little extreme but that is the task we were given." Jason responded.
"Fair enough, sir." He left the room and began making his way to his room and then the cityscape, knowing Hunter would likely end up meeting him halfway with the weapons. He'd already told her what to grab. After he'd grabbed a few special bags from his room he started walking, watching the flurry of activity around him as crew members ran through the halls preping everything for going into orbit around the planet. He saw Hunter walking towards him just as he walked through the doorway to the cityscape. A trio of assault rifles were slung over her shoulder, a tsunami with a dot sight, a Maelstrom with a suppressor and some sort of shortened rifle with a small scope and a wide barrel with a muzzle break. She was also carrying a long bag that clinked as she swung it. She opened it, revealing a canister rifle, some gauss batteries and a large amount of ammunition for it and the assault rifles. Both she and Kell began to organize the contents of the bag, slipping magazines surreptitiously into a variety of pouches and pockets across their persons. After they'd finished Kell slung the long bag over his shoulder. He took the Maelstrom rifle from her as well. He checked the bag strapped to both his shoulder and waist. Yep, still full of enough putty explosives to destroy a quarter of the Berlin. He fished around underneath the gray bricks and found that the pill shaped, matte black device was still there as well. Wouldn't want that going missing.
"Thank you, Maggie."
Kell checked his shoulder holster. The Orphan was still there,
Hunter began to do the same, checking her rifles and Sidewinder, going through the motions of checking the slide and barrel for blockages. They were both ready.
Damien sauntered into the armory, Carver following close behind him. Carter had finally moved up to the Sig Seraph, and was currently working on it as Damien began to browse the selection of weaponry. At first Damien picked up the Cherub, but immediately put it back down after feeling how damn heavy it was. It would be impossible to use in the situation he required it for. "Toss me six Samael Sidewinders, would ya? I gotta feeling that it's gonna be just the right tool for the job. Oh, and bring me the Damnation shotgun." Damien called. He looked longingly at the Standard helmets, wishing he could wear one of those and perhaps give himself a bit more protection for his head. As the quartermaster handed Damien the weapons requested, Carter turned to Damien and stammered out a question. "H-Hey, Damien? I-I-I thought you w-were a m-medic. S-so Why w-would you ch-choose s-such a big g-gun?" Damien raised an eyebrow as he began to walk back to the Hangar. "It's precisely because I'm a medic that I carry such big weaponry. Remember Vietnam, way back when in America, when all the world was't one big ol' country? The medics then carried shotguns because they were the first to be fired upon. I carry Damnation because when I aim a gun at something, I want to be able to pulled the trigger and turn around, safe in the knowledge that there is nothing left larger than a quarter that is able to fire back at me. Oh, and Carver? Stay on the ship. Work on your guns, as usual. I want you to be a little more prepared before going into the field. I don't feel like sending you to your death at the hands of 'God's failed chupacabra.' Got it?" Carver nodded, trying not to let his joy show through at being left behind. He obediently jogged back to the dorms, trying to reassemble the pistol remnants in his hands. Damien shook his head and arrived at the hangar. He decided to to a bit of knife-play while waiting for the others to show up. He smoothly slid two knives from his sleeves, and began to attack an imaginary enemy at every weak point, systematically taking down his shadow opponent.
Rick was leaning on a wall in the hangar, fiddling with his harmonica.
As he played, he wished he could remember the lyrics to the song he was playing. Something about a dead girl in St. James' Infirmary. Two soldiers walking by stopped and stared over at him. He had shed his gauntlets to play properly, and his hands were dwarfed by the armor plating. It was a comical sight, admittedly. Rick refused to care and started playing "Over the Rainbow" just to mess with them. It backfired, as one of the soldiers started mouthing the words to the music.
Finally, they moved on, the not-singing soldier making a derisive "crazy" gesture as they left the hangar. Rick grinned to himself and tried playing "Dixie", a song his mother would softly sing as she did housework. The tune didn't work well with harmonica, but darn it, he was going to try.
Rick hit a couple awkward phrases and stopped. How were his parents doing? When he left, there had been an escalating gang war with a third one getting into the mix. Rick knew that he needed to get them out of their seedy area as soon as possible, but with his parents retired, all income would have to come from their children. He sent all his overflow back to them, which kept their current rent, but he wasn't sure about Erin and Tom, his military siblings. He hoped they sent money. At least Kenton was sending support from his cushy desk job, but it was barely enough to cover all the drug scandals and bail that Olivia kept getting into.
Rick frowned. Olivia was the second child, and still living at home at age 31. She was nothing but trouble, and had even pulled a firefight into their very own house, but her insistence on acting as an in-betweener for the gangs was only overcome by her refusal to "be controlled". Whatever the hell that meant. As far as Rick could tell, it meant "avoid any form of responsibility whatsoever". Maybe she needed a year in the army.
Rick dropped his visor over his eyes and checked his mail. Erin had sent him something! Erin was the polar opposite of Olivia, refusing to endanger anyone and forever asking for orders. She made a great medical apprentice. She wrote fondly of a handsome young soldier who was nearly done his run in the army, and a date they'd had, as well as an update on Tom, a weapons technician. Rick didn't get to see either of them much, what with him being a sergeant while they were still technically civilians. She ended the letter with a slightly starry-eyed tirade about how lucky Rick was to be some of the first to enter deeper space for colonization. Rick closed the message, feeling a bit fuzzy.
"When are we going to get started?" Jobe growled, pacing up and down a corridor. His fingers twitching involuntarily as he clased his hands behind his back. He'd assumed when he left the briefing that it'd be a case of: Arm up, get in the drop-ship, get planet-side and start the REAL fun. As it was, he'd been left wandering around fully tooled up and shunned by everyone. Fine, LET them!! You're better than all of them anyway! Just wait, when the fighting starts, half of them will RUN! But not you, no, never you. You'll show them! You'll stand firm! The enemies will break around you! They'll beg for mercy! Yes, yes! Then they'll...
It was faint and played on an unusual instrument, but he recognised the tune. Un-bidden memories trickled back; and he watched them like a villager staring up at the growing cracks in a dam, knowing its too late to run. Memories of the day he'd starred in the school play: The Wizard of Oz. It'd been in an all boy's school and he'd had to play Dorothy. He'd sung that song. Some people in the audience cried when they heard. Jobe smiled briefly. He'd been 13. Then, after the play he'd put the soundtrack on in his private dorm and listened to it. Three big guys in masks then broke in and...he didn't want to think about it. But THAT song had been playing in the background on repeat the whole time.
Jobe had never sung again.
He followed the music. He needed to find it. He needed to stop it. He needed to destroy it.
Rick was playing "Over the Rainbow" again. That blasted jump got him every time, but he was - GOT IT! Rick ended the song with a flourish, and looked with a feeling of satisfaction at the harmonica before shoving it in his pack. Maybe he could solidify that C-octave with some more -
Jobe burst into the hangar, with a completely murderous look in his eye.
Was in the hangar sitting on some boxes that were near the drop ship with his arm propped up on his knee. He kept thinking about what they would find planet-side, and what they would find in the rest of their travels. When he heard someone burst into the hangar he took a look at the entrance and saw Jobe with a look on his face like he wanted someone to die. "Looks like something is about to go down", Chris murmered to himself.
James was in optic camo, and he didn't make a sound creepily enough as he walked around the hangar. Then Jobe come in with a rather interested look, and he stood still, in a far corner. He watched, and wished Rick was still playing some music, I should re-learn guitar or maybe learn some flute or something, that looked fun. I wonder if he could teach me?
Jason watched as the rest of his squad got on the Pegasus and took their seats in the back. "Okay guys cut the chatter." Jason ordered as the Pegasus fell silent. "Okay this will be our first mission together so let's lay down some ground rules." Jason started as he took position in the middle of the group.
"To start off with they may say that the planet is uninhabited but assume hostile life, be cautious with this I don't want to lose a squad member on the first mission. Secondly you will all follow my orders to the letter, that will make both our life's much easier. Third do not take unnecessary risks, those lead to someone getting wounded or killed and then your basically useless until you heal up or if you die you won't be useful ever again." Jason stated in his usual cold tone.
"Those are my rules and be sure to follow them. Now that thats taken care of, TAKE US DOWN TO THE PLANET PAX!" Jason shouted to the front of the Pegasus where Pax was located. Jason then felt the Pegasus start to move as he took his seat and pulled down the safety harness. He felt the Pegasus shake as it left the hangar of the Berlin and the Pegasus started to shake a little as the ship made it closer to the planet's atmosphere.
Jason looked out the window and saw that they were getting closer to the planet and that there were more Pegasus coming out of the Berlin and going towards the planet. Jason then saw some flames start to appear on the outside of the ship and he felt the heat of the Pegasus as it started to go through the planet's atmosphere. He then felt a sensation of free fall as the ship got closer to the ground and it was in a free fall. The ship started shaking as they got closer to the ground and the ignition kicked in to stop them from their free fall and it caused jason to slam back into his seat.
Without the feeling of free fall Jason looked out the window and noticed large body of water near the place where they were landing. He looked over to the spot where they were landing and he saw another pegasus near the location and what looked like people. "That must be Sgt. Clearwater." Jason thought to himself as the ship was getting close to the ground. Jason then felt the clank of the ship landing in the sand as the noise of the Pegasus' engines faded. Jason lifted his safety harness as he grabbed his pack and his rifle and exited the Pegasus.
Walking out of the Pegasus Jason noticed the heat and how it was a little difficult to move in the sand. He then looked over to the man who was looked like he was in charge and Jason walked over to him as his squad started to exit the Pegasus. "So you must be Sgt. Clearwater. I'm Captain Kahlil and I'm in charge of this mission." Jason said as the man looked over at him.
Jarmen and Hunter walked into the hangar looking around at the dropship and pair of fighters that now inhabited it, probably to act as an escort for the ride down. Both took notice of seperate things that were out of place in the hangar.
Hunter was looking at the floor, seeing the tell tale dents and scorch marks from the firefight several days before.
They still haven't cleaned this place up?
Kell on the other hand had taken interest in a shimmer of light moving toward a corner of the hangar. He slowly walked over to the corner, near the massive armored doors that acted as an airlock for the hangar, pretending to have taken an interest in the few heavily reinforced clear panels that allowed a view out into open space. With care Kell pulled out a battered, leather wrapped case and opened it. He pulled out a cigarillo and lit up. After standing quietly for several minutes blowing out smoke, the small cigar burning down slowly, he flicked the smouldering remains of it off to the side. It bounced off James' head with a soft *poink*
"That fancy armor's not much help under all these bright lights, sergeant."
Kell walked out, heading behind the Pegasus. He took a few moments to admire the impressive display of rapidly cooling glass that the Pegasus' engines had turned the sand into as it landed. It was still red hot and there was a soft crackling noise every few seconds as fragments cooled enough to solidify then crack.
"So, We're the first people to ever set foot on an alien planet."
He looked at Clearwater and the few soldiers he'd brought with him, milling about on the sand.
"Ok, 2nd people to ever-ENEMY AIRCRAFT!" Kell shouted, everyone jerked their heads up, some even falling to the ground as Kell and Hunter whipped their rifles out, firing into the sky several times. A half dozen bird-like creatures fell from the sky, most falling a fair distance from the pair of shuttles. Everyone looked back down at Kell. He was grinning from ear to ear.
"What? We're supposed to kill everything, right? So they're enemies. And they're flying so..."
He glanced at one of the flying creatures that had fallen near them. It had landed on the edge of the still hot glass and was beginning to burn. The smell of charred flesh filled the air.
James noticed a creature skulking infront of him before confusedly looking around for his scent, and then getting a combat knife in it's head as James de-cloaked "You could have just said birdies, Kell. No reason to make us think sentient life decided to say a military hello." James was cleaning his knife on the rubbery skin of the mastiff-sized creature he'd killed, sitting on the corpse like some sort of macabre log around a the glassed sand campfire
Was casually standing in the heat of the sun, trying to get over the sudden adrenaline rush Kell had worked up, "Ya Kell, try to take it easy before someone does something stupid. You ever hear of the story of 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'?" Chris said to Kell, he then took his pair of binoculars and started scanning the area to see if anything of importance was around. He then thought to himself that it was a good thing that he always wore a handkerchief over his mouth and nose, it was perfect on a planet like this.