Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Advanced training|
I straightened my uniform before standing and heading to the shuttle’s hatch. Five new things had been added to my uniform, the small combat stripe on my left sleeve, the wound stripe on my right sleeve and Private First Class emblems on my collar. On the right side of my chest was a small colorful ribbon that identified me as having served in combat on Cerberus.
Last was the gold and silver mini ribbon for graduating at the top of the regiment and the Imperial Star seemed to glow in the hollow of my throat. I had wanted to leave it off but my sergeant had straightened it and looked into my grey eyes, “always wear it with honor.”
I had also earned an official nickname. One of the other recruits had started it as a joke but it had stuck. It officially went on my record when the regiment commander called me by it during an exercise. Now the other recruits just called me Pendragon.
I straightened when I stepped out of the shuttle and onto the deck of John Wayne. The bosan’s pipes called for the ship to come to attention and I shook myself and continued across to the senior sergeant standing at attention. He saluted and I returned it, “Private First Class England reporting Sergeant.”
He smiled and gestured to the foot prints on the deck, “Take your place private.”
It was a relief to get out of my dress uniform, even if the sergeants made sure to let me know I wasn’t special. Advanced Training was like Basic but they mostly concentrated on weapons and martial skills. Since I was already an advanced student in a martial art, I was assigned as an assistant. We also began more extensive training in or with combat suits.
The weeks and months passed quickly. Twice we were used on a planet as reserves or working in the rear of a combat area. We were two weeks from graduating when we went into orbit around Glamour. The Second Armor regiment only needed a company for support and ours was chosen. As soon as the shuttle settled onto the ground the top sergeant was up and moving.
Our company commander led the way down the drop ramp and the platoon sergeants started splitting us up. My squad headed towards an armored carrier and the three tired looking soldiers. We were dropped in twos and threes until I was the only one left. The carrier finally settled to the ground and I followed a corporal out. He nodded to the half buried bunkers, “Welcome to the combat ammo supply bunkers.”
After a short briefing on what was where, the remote ammo transports started coming in. I slung my rifle and started loading, slowly the hours passed with only a few breaks. We received a huge supply dump from bases even further behind the lines and started unloading. The three soldiers actually relaxed as we worked, there was a sergeant, a corporal and a private first class like me.
We had a chain going with an old senior sergeant that had driven the ammo transport tossing crates of ammo to the sergeant. He let it turn him before tossing it to the corporal who did the same thing and tossed it to the other private. I was just inside the bunker sliding the crates into the bunker loader. The crack of a bullet moving through the air had me spinning as the crate dropped to the floor.
I quickly unslung the rifle from my back as the whole area was riddled with bullets. The old sergeant was down, the sergeant and corporal were hit and screaming on the ground and the other private was on his back staring straight up with half his head missing. I keyed my company radio, “This is Pendragon at the forward combat ammo supply bunker. We are under attack with four men down.”
I brought my rifle up and stepped out, I walked towards the corporal as I started shooting. This time I was more prepared then before, I had switched my basic ammo aboard ship to armor penetrators. Even through I walked slowly and calmly as I fired into the rushing soldiers I didn’t feel that way.
When I reached the corporal I squatted and finally reached down to grab him as he lurched up. On the walk back I helped him but continued to fire into the few soldiers that were brave enough to continue to rush towards us.
Inside the bunker I helped the corporal to the floor before spinning to pull a screamer from my harness. A screamer is an electronic device designed to fog holo sights. The thing about a screamer was it could filter its soldier’s sight so they could still see through the electronic fog. My radio was continuously calling for attention but I couldn’t spare the time yet.
I tossed the screamer and moved back out into the open and started towards the sergeant as I fired at the enemy soldiers again. It seemed like a long way to him but I didn’t run or rush. I continued to shoot the closest soldiers to us as I knelt beside the sergeant and lowered the rifle before grabbing him.
I jerked him up and over my shoulder before standing and heading back towards the bunker. Like before I still fired at the men attacking us as I used my other hand to hold the sergeant on my shoulder. Once inside the bunker I knelt and slipped him off beside the corporal. He grabbed him and nodded to me and I stood to go back out.
I knew the screamer wasn’t going to last much longer. This time they tried to fire blind through the electronic fog. I kept shooting them as I headed for the back of the transport. Several times I had bullets graze me but nothing hit me solidly. I reached the transport and turned to pull the old sergeant out and over my shoulder.
I turned to head back to the bunker when the screamer stopped working and a familiar burning stabbing pain ripped through my upper chest, high on the right side. I spun and staggered before turning back. I was barely holding the old sergeant and knew I couldn’t lift my rifle. I flipped the switch to full automatic and started for the bunker.
Bullets whipped around me and sprang off the transport and the ground. I pointed my rifle and pulled the trigger. I sprayed bullets back and forth through the few men that didn’t drop to the ground in time. I staggered into the bunker and dropped to a knee to let the sergeant slip off. The corporal pulled himself closer holding a pressure bandage and I turned and moved back to the entry.
I switched my rifle to my other hand and changed the magazine. I took a deep breath before leaning out and firing into the five men almost to the door. My rifle was still on automatic and I spray back and forth through all five. I flipped the switch to semi auto as they were thrown back and started picking out targets. I moved back and dropped the magazine before changing to a new one.
The explosion outside shook the bunker and I looked at the others thinking we were dead. More explosions followed but none near us. I leaned out to see gun ships ripping the company of soldiers apart and keyed my radio, “This is Pendragon. We are still in the ammo bunker and clear of enemy fire.”
“Copy Pendragon. What is your status?”
I glanced at the corporal, “Four wounded and one dead.”
“How bad is the wounded?”
I looked at both the sergeants, “Two critical, one serious and I am still combat effective.”
“Copy, an assault retrieval bird will be there in one minute.”
I took a deep breath before moving to help the corporal to his feet. I squatted and pulled the sergeant up before positioning him on my left shoulder. I grabbed the old sergeant and lifted as my chest and shoulder screamed in agony. The corporal held him as I moved him up onto my right shoulder further. I stood and moved towards the entry as my radio crackled, “Pendragon your ride is inboard and will be on the ground in ten.”
I waited for the corporal to put his arm around me for support. We started out into the smoke as an assault ship dropped down beside the transport. Men spilled out as I staggered to the four medics moving towards us. They took the corporal and then the two sergeants before moving back to the ship as I looked around. One of the medics turned, “Get your ass in here private.”
I grinned and walked the few steps before climbing in and lying back, “Home James.”
The regen nanites had done a good job of stopping the bleeding and they were already beginning to repair the damage. The doctors pulled the bullet fragments out and let the nanites do their job. I woke up in the recover room and shivered before looking at another cute lieutenant sitting beside me. I smiled and she touched my hand, “You are making a habit of this.”
She was as good as the last debriefing officer and she even gave me a soft kiss like the other officer. I was back with my company the next morning, of course I was supposed to only have light duty but I ignored that to continue with my training and graduate at the top of the regiment.
The graduation ceremony was in one of the large shuttle bays. Out of the five thousand men that started basic only three thousand graduated. Out of the five thousand advanced soldiers that started only two thousand made it to graduation.
This time my uniform had another combat stripe and another wound stripe. I touched the brand new lance corporal emblems and smiled as I remembered the talk the top sergeant had given me when he put them on. Of the three thousand men that didn’t graduate two hundred were medically retired and twelve had been killed. Of the twelve killed two had been put up for post humorous decorations.
I also wore a new unit combat ribbon for Glamour and a second gold and silver mini ribbon for graduating at the top of the regiment. I finally put the new dark blue beret on and turned to head out. I had waited as the top sergeant asked and lined up with the ten other soldiers that were being giving awards.
I led the way when one of the platoon sergeants nodded and the regiment was called to attention. When I left, I had a new medal on my uniform, the Galactic Cluster, awarded for gallantry under fire.
I nodded to the ship’s sergeant major as I stepped into the Captain’s wardroom. I had time to change out of my dress uniform and wore standard fatigues. The officers stopped talking and the captain turned to see me. She grinned as she crossed the room, “Corporal England, I’m glad you came.”
I smiled, “Like a mere lance corporal would tell a beautiful captain no?”
She laughed and several senior officers joined her. She looked at a young man, “Mister Jensen?”
The cadet was carrying a bag and a wooden box. He moved closer and held out the box. The captain took it and looked at the sergeant major who stepped up beside me, “Senior Sergeant Michaels, Sergeant Davis and Corporal Allen seemed to think you needed something besides a lousy medal.”
I started to shake my head and the captain laughed as she looked at the sergeant major, “I told you he wouldn’t want to accept.”
She looked at me, “In this case I think you should.”
She opened the box to show a sleek matte black rail pistol resting on a cushion inside, “This is a Swift Mark V 14mm with a built in suppressor. The magazine only carries twenty but what you hit goes down and doesn’t get up.”
I looked up and grinned, “It’s beautiful.”
She laughed as she looked at the sergeant major, “that’s what I thought you would say.”
I hesitated and then reached out to lift the pistol out of the case, just the feel made me grin, Swift made the highest quality pistols in the galaxy. I bowed to the captain, “Thank you captain.”
She nodded and absently handed the empty case to the cadet, “They also sent you spare magazines and equipment.”
She nodded to the sergeant major before turning away. I hastily took the bag the cadet offered and the sergeant major led me out. He held out an orders chip, “This is from the captain.”
I looked at him and he grinned, “I believe you wanted to go to a recon company. These are orders for the fifth regiment recon company.”
I grinned, “What about my orders to the fifteenth?”
He shook his head, “I had them canceled.”
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