Approx. 4900 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
Scout Marine Training
written by SJ
Once Lana and the other recruits had passed the initial physical test for becoming Space Marines, the training sergeant led the group, single file, now only seven left, back to the trainee barracks where they were dismissed to find their sleeping quarters and stow their gear.
Inside, Lana was met right away by a tall woman with short, blond, hair. On the right shoulder of her fatigue shirt, she wore a single, red-brown chevron stripe, a little under that was a small, 15 millimeter green circle with a thick blue outline, indicating she was a Scout Marine, private. Inside the green circle was the rough drawing of a black raven with outspread wings; in the center of the bird’s body was a single red drop, the insignia of the Blood Ravens. On her left shoulder she had the basic insignia, but with green, crossed-rifles in the center.
“LuLu?” The woman called to her. “Hi...I’m Melinda Dion. Sergeant Shannon told you about me?”
Lana thought a second, then confirmed. “You mean, Gannon?”
Melinda chuckled. “Oh, yeah...he prefers, Gannon.
“I didn’t think I was going to see you until Scout school.”
“They decided to put me in charge of the trainees so I can start being in charge of Marines right away...something about me being squad leader of second squad when our training is over.”
After redirecting Lana to, what she considered, a better bunk than the one she was about to take, Melinda queried. “How many do we have?”
“Trainees? Nine...no, seven–-we lost two.”
“Already?” She chuckled, then continued to talk while Lana stowed her gear. “Seven...that’s a good size class. I heard it was going to be eleven or twelve...I’m glad it’s not.”
Lana took no time in placing her suit-case-style duffle bag in her locker.
“Gannon said you came here from the Federal Guards? You must’ve done a good job--they thought you’d be a good squad leader.” Lana complemented.
“Actually,” Melinda explained, “I was a Federal Security Agent. I was going to transfer to the Federal Marines, but I decided to come here. My parents had moved here not too long ago, and I wanted to be nearby them. We came from Terra Zeta2.”
“What did you do as a Federal Security Agent?”
Melinda sighed. “I was nothing more than a glorified security guard. Not what I expected...boring as a block of cement.” She then looked at the time. “Oh, I have to get you...'trainees' to the mess hall.”
The trainees had their own little area inside the mess hall, one small table. None of the other Marines talked to them, however, neither did they sneer. The mess hall was basically divided into two areas, the main, on-duty, eating area with plenty of long tables, and, behind closed doors in a separate area, the recreation room, a smaller, but much fancier place, which could be seen through a row of several windows. The structure was all painted, inside and out, the Cheyenne Ranger colors: medium brown, with light-tan and blue-grey trim. On the door to the rec room was painted two large raven feathers, hanging down as if they where attached to some invisible object. Lana knew what it meant: Unless you have these on your rank insignia, do NOT come in! Raven feathers where not added to a private’s rank until after 120 days; it basically meant you where now a full Cheyenne Ranger Space Marine, until then, you where a just a trainee.
The next 20 days where spent marching, running, exercising, and learning all the basics for life as a Space Marine, especially nomenclature. They were expected to learn quickly, because they were expected to already know certain basics about the Space Marines before they joined. They lost one more trainee.
The next 10 days were spent learning about the different weapons, primarily the standard Space Marine bolter:
There were numerous different makes and styles of bolters (also called boltguns). All were designed around the principle of firing a relatively small (7.5 millimeter), very-dense, heavy, projectile that was accelerated by a chemically propelled, railgun-enhanced, caseless, cartridge at an extremely high velocity. This created a weapon that was almost as powerful as an Old Earth heavy machine gun, that could easily be carried by any soldier, with very little recoil. Along with the hard sights, it had the more commonly used, pop up, holographic sights, plus a digital display indicating current ammunition amount and type. The clips for the weapon came in 60 rounds and 90 rounds.
The weapon looked much heavier than it felt, about eight pounds. The basic types of hard rounds were, empties, or practice rounds (pure lead). Ball-1 rounds were lead with a compressed tungsten core, while Ball-2 rounds were the same only with a slightly flatter tip, giving it a little better anti-personnel effect. Finally, there was the AP (armor piercing) round, which used compressed depleted uranium as its core. There where other less predominate rounds, such as shredder or ripper rounds, chemical rounds, incendiary, and tracer rounds.
By the end of day 30, trainees were at least expected to have knowledge of the other Space Marine weapons: sniper rifle, plasma gun, flamer, heavy bolter, and missile launcher. And along with the weapons, came more nomenclature. It would not bode well for any trainee to say, “huh?” to any name or abbreviation they should know by day 31.
At first, none of the trainees were really expected to hit anything at the range, just get the feel of firing their standard weapon, the bolter, using the hard sights, which was designed for targets up to 300 meters. They would be using the holo-sights during the next 40 days, during their specific school of choice; at that time, they would definitely be expected to hit their targets with well above average accuracy. In fact, Colonel Gallardo would not allow any Marine under his command to be part of a front line combat unit without a marksmanship badge.
Lana and Melinda had become good friends over the last 39 days. Melinda never had a younger sister, and Lana never had any siblings at all, their friendship seeming to be a substitute for both.
Day 40 was testing, both physical and mental. Lana passed easily, as did most of the others.
They now had two days off. Melinda wished Lana good luck, but had to leave quickly to catch the monorail so she could spend some time with her parents located in a city about two hundred kilometers away.
However Lana couldn’t visit her Aunt on Delta Pavonus. It was too far for the only two days she had off...and there was another reason...a reason she had never told anyone. She wanted to visit her Aunt more than anything. She was the only mother, or family she ever knew. She wasn’t even supposed to call or use email, only send and receive regular mail, and even then, anonymously.
Lana had hoped to get mail from her Aunt at least twice a month, but it had been more like once a month lately. She sat alone on her bunk in the dim light of the trainee barracks and wrote a letter to her Aunt, telling her all about the her training experiences, the people she met...and more importantly, about how much she missed her, and how much she wish she would leave Pavonus and move here to Cheyenne; she worried--in her opinion it was dangerous for her there.
Lana was already back at the barracks, reading, when the two Mega Marine Scout trainees came in and said hello, commending her on how good she was doing as a Marine. They were aware of her interest in Special Ops, and realized how hard it was.
When Melinda arrived, everyone quickly noticed her change in rank, the woman’s upper shoulder now sporting 2 stripes instead of one, plus two raven feathers.
Made of the same material as the rank chevrons, about 90 millimeters long, one just a little longer than the other, the black feathers hung down from the circular type-badge like they were attached to it underneath, each at enough angle away from each other not to be overlapped. Only now her type-badge had a green circle outlined in blue.
The two Mega Marines quickly congratulated her.
Melinda had a small bag, the contents in which she dumped out on Lana’s bunk, where she and the two men had sat down. “These are your 41 day Scout insignias and your Scout Marine private stripes...sew them on using GREEN thread, BEFORE you start Scout school. Stripes on the right shoulder, insignias on the left.”
As the two men started to leave to their side of the barracks, she called them back, “hey...here,” she handed them a handful of the new rank stripes and insignias, “...take some of these with you...hand them out.”
As Melinda put away some of the new things she had purchased during her two days off, she chatted. “So, what did you do, LuLu? Finally...two days off. Whew...I needed the break.”
The younger woman didn’t respond.
But Melinda spoke first. “Oh...yeah. You were going to see someone at the Tourist Center. How was that?”
Lana sighed audibly this time.
The older woman sat down on Lana’s bunk. “What happened? Didn’t go so well?”
She didn’t really want to talk about it. “Well...he was with someone else...”
“He blew you off?” Melinda found it hard to believe. “Just find someone else...” She stared at Lana, trying to read her thoughts and emotions...eventually asking, “you found someone else...didn’t you?“
Lana didn’t answer and began working on her fatigue shirt, removing the old insignia.
“Oh, my!” Melinda was shocked. “And you’ve got another forty days...”
Lana just sat working on her new patch...ignoring the older woman.
It was at that moment, Melinda began to perceive another side to Lana’s personality. “Oh...you’re one of those shy types...aren’t you?” She let out a good-natured laugh. “I would have never guessed that by the way you act as a Marine.”
Lana looked up at her friend and smiled, reluctantly agreeing with her.
It was expected, by this time, that each squad member have the military version of something called an oPOD (a Pod computer similar to Old Earth’s iPod, expect oPODs were optic computers, which were thousands of times better), something they were encouraged to purchase shortly after they had become Marines. It could also be used as a phone, but was not as reliable as a military com. There were also military oPADs (larger oPODs), but were almost always carried by headquarters personnel.
As Scout school began, it was obvious it would be much more interesting than basic training, but much more demanding, both physically and mentally. First of all, they always ran everywhere they went...no walking, which got to be tough, carrying weapons and equipment. In basic, they simply did what they were told. In the Scouts, they had to learn to think for themselves. They even got a little history lesson on how Gallardo and Taliaferro reinvented the Scout Marines.
In the past, the Scouts were basically nothing more than glorified targets. They went forward in front of the main line of Marines and got shot at, which allowed the more heavily-armed Marines behind them to acquire targets and eliminate them. It worked, but not without a cost payed for by the lives of many Scouts. Back then, a young Scout Marine officer by the name of Ely Gallardo, after being seriously wounded, and while in rehabilitation, began working on changing all that.
Gallardo had become good friends with Ben Taliaferro, a Special Forces officer in Epsilon Eridani's Planetary Guard. Together they worked on ways to let Scouts do a better job acquiring targets for the regular Marines, while staying alive to do it. But the concept was hard to put into place for existing troops. When Gallardo was serious wounded a second time, Taliaferro went with him to Cheyenne, where they started Camp Cheyenne. In five years, the new Space Marine base was a going concern; in another ten years, it became a model for training all Scout Marines.
Now, Scouts are trained to think all the time. When advancing, they constantly searched for the best available cover while still maintaining the ability to pop up and acquire targets for other troops, usually using a target-painter mounted on their helmet and/or linked to the optics of their bolter’s holo-sights. Gallardo’s Scout Marines had two target-painters; one on their helmet as part of the optics, and one which was an enhancement to their binoculars. They also learned tricks of deception, such as turning on their bio-locator, of which they had more than one, tossing it aside, and moving away. Enemy scanners could easily pick up the locator and think it was a Marine, then fire on that location. Training Scouts to use flamers and plasma guns, and especially the new types of high-powered sniper rifles, made them a small, but formidable force.
By day 10 of Scout school, trainees got the option of continuing to carry a regular bolter, or a Scout bolter. The Scout bolter, in height, was about one-third smaller than the regular bolter, which meant it couldn’t use any weapon add-ons, like grenade launcher, but was a good twenty-five percent lighter. For Lana, it was a welcome change; however, most other Scouts, large and small, preferred it. Several days later, they got introduced to grenades.
There were 3 basic types of grenades: Frag, krak, and blind smoke. The frag grenade did what its name implied with a 35 meter kill zone, but was mostly ineffective against armored targets, including Space Marine battle suits unless it landed in very close proximity. The krak was a shaped charge grenade good for blowing holes in vehicles and objects. Blind Smoke was an advanced type of smoke, which had charged particles in varying wave lengths to block most any kind of enhanced optics, target painters, and scanners.
Lana, because of her short arms had trouble getting any real distance with a grenade, but was very accurate at short ranges and had an unusual knack for bouncing them off objects so they would go around corners.
Marines were also familiarized with the melta bomb, which was not really a grenade, but a small bomb that was attached to the target, then a timer set; its blast radius was only 10 meters, but its intense heat could melt through most any kind of material using a high-yield, concentrated, fusion reaction. Melta bombs were more commonly carried by Assault Marines, but could be assigned to officers, squad leaders, or Special Ops, usually for specific circumstances.
Lana got a surprise when she saw Gannon at the bolter range as one of the range sergeants. She didn’t say anything to him, and he remained professional to her; but it was obvious he was glad to see her again. Even though she didn’t really need the help, he came over to assist her anyway. It gave him a chance to say hello, and he quickly found out she was a very good shot; he complemented her by bellowing, “that’s all the best you can do? Hell, you missed one!”
“A little mess hall revenge...serg.” Lana whispered back, explaining her one miss.
The big man eventually got it, then asked. “Which end?”
She tried not to laugh, then had to confess honesty. “Through my nose. Nasty.”
At that point the last shot for the morning was fired. The range master gave the order for the them to clear their weapons and place them on a long table. Take a break, there was to be a lecture later. Now Gannon was able to chat with Lana, who was standing next to Melinda.
Melinda smiled at him as he walked up, joking. “Hey...where’s the other big bozo?”
“They got him working over at the motor pool again.” Looking at Lana, he started laughing, shaking his head. “Though my nose...” He laughed louder.
Just then one of the senor range sergeants called Gannon over and they began talking; afterwards, he returned to the two women.
“Well...break time’s over. Dion, go get your squad...we’re starting the class early. Target painting. Tomorrow, they’re gonna have me shooting a missile launcher. You paint’em...I blow’em up. Don’t make me look bad ladies.”
“Oh...I don’t think you need our help for that.” Melinda jested with a good-hearted snicker.
The remainder of the 40 days went by quickly. After testing, all the trainees were ready for another two days off. Melinda looked over Lana’s civilian clothes and sighed. “This is all you have! No wonder you wear military clothes all the time. Hey, we should go someplace together, LuLu. We can go shopping...you need better civilian clothes.”
“Well...I was first going to the PX, to pick up my mail. When I get back, we--”
“Oh...you’re Aunt.” Melinda remembered Lana talking about her and how eager she was to get mail. Melinda returned to her bunk, retrieved her laptop computer and placed it on Lana’s bunk. “Hey...you should just email her from now on. You can use my computer.”
Lana couldn’t answer...didn’t know how to. Finally she tried to respond, being obviously evasive. “Uh...I should just stick to using the regular mail. Thanks anyway.”
“What’s wrong, LuLu?” Melinda’s expression became concerned.
“Nothing...it’s, just that my Aunt is very old fashion–-“
Melinda was not buying it. “No...you said she owned her own business, so she has to have a computer, and email. And you cannot tell me she doesn’t have access to an FTL com link.”
The look on Lana’s face was that of begging her friend to drop the subject.
“Geez, LuLu...what’s wrong?” The older woman’s concern was genuine.
Lana responded desperately. “Look...I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to lose what I already have!”
“You mean...kick you out of the Marines. Why would they do that?.” She became pleadingly sincere. “You have to tell me about it, LuLu. Maybe I can help.”
“But...you were a Federal--”
“Did you commit a crime?”
“NO!” Lana shouted. “I DIDN’T do anything!” She tried to calm down, but remained upset. “They arrested me...but I swear-–I didn’t do anything!”
Melinda had to sit down for this one.
Lana was shaking. Melinda had never seen her like this.
Slowly Lana began her story of what happened to her almost one year earlier:
Lana started out by telling how she was awoken in the middle of the night, arrested by police, then taken to an undisclosed location inside a windowless van. It was still dark when they eventually let her out in front off what looked like an old-style prison, in the middle of the jungle, where they took her inside and locked her in a small holding cell for the night. In the morning, some sort of prison official came in with a guard and questioned her, saying she would only get a couple years for stealing some money, but if she would tell her where the rebels were located, she would get a lesser sentence. Of course, Lana knew nothing about any money being stolen, and even less about any rebels.
After maintaining her innocence, Lana said the prison official and the guard left her alone, saying as they did, she would probably have to spend the rest of her life in prison. Later, they came and dragged her to what she could only describe as some kind of medieval torture chamber. They put her hands in some shackles, then dangled her while she screamed in pain, all the while, the official, who had been waiting there, kept demanding she tell her where the rebels were located. When the official hit her, she passed out.
When she woke up, she found herself in a hospital bed in a town called, Cambridge. She had no idea how she got there, but the hospital staff told her she had to leave the planet, explaining that if she was discovered, both she and her Aunt would be taken back to the prison. They gave her specific instructions about how and when she could contact her Aunt, then supplied her with some other clothes, slapped a blond wig on her, handed her a ticket for Zeta Draconis, where she ended up on Cheyenne.
Melinda found Lana’s story incredulous beyond belief. “Lana, had anyone else told me that story...I wouldn’t have believed them. But you...you wouldn’t make up a story like that.”
“I wish it WAS a story I made up...” Lana was still calm, but starting to get angry. “It’s the reason I can’t visit Annie. The people that helped me to escape gave me a strict set of instructions so that my Aunt wouldn’t get arrested because of me.”
“Do you know why they thought YOU would know anything about, rebels?” Melinda questioned, after pausing to think.
“I don’t know.” Lana frowned, then sighed. “All I know is that there was this woman--some woman who seemed to dislike me. Years ago, she had this souvenir shop; all she would do is buy cheap items, have little kids come over and paint stuff on them, then sell them to tourists. I worked there for a short time when I was younger, but quit. When the place went out of business, she seemed to blame me. I even saw her talking to the police, then pointing at me...the afternoon before I got arrested.”
Melinda had to think for a few seconds before responding. “You know, LuLu...I was a Federal Security Agent for over a year, but NEVER did I ever hear of a story like this one.”
Lana gave her friend a look.
“No...I believe you. And I am going to help you get to the bottom of this--”
“No...you can’t do anything--they might hurt Annie!”
“LuLu, I won’t doing anything that might get your Aunt in trouble.” Melinda was assuring, then thought. “You know, LuLu...it is possible that this whole thing was done do you as some kind of a very cruel hoax–-maybe by that woman you told me about. Does that woman have any connections with anyone in the Pavonus Government?”
“She had always bragged about going to the Governor’s mansion many times.” Lana explained.
“Now that’s really suspicious. She easily could’ve arranged this whole thing just to get you off the planet. And if she had access to some virtual reality devices, the whole thing could’ve been faked.”
“You mean it might not have even been real?”
“Well...maybe not all of it--but it would explain quite a bit. In reality, I don’t think there are any old-style prisons like the one you described...anywhere.”
“In Annie’s last letter she said that woman is not there anymore. She said things were getting better...something about the previous Governor returning.”
“That’s good. You know, it possible once the previous Governor returns, he will straighten everything out, especially if he finds improprieties with those he left in charge. I think the best we can do now is just wait. After we finish training, I’ll go to Pavonus with you, and we can see this Governor. I was trained as a Federal Investigator and I know how to find the truth in cases like this.”
For Lana, it felt as if a huge burden had been lifted.
Seeing that her friend was feeling much better, Melinda got up from Lana’s bunk, then asked, “hey, why don’t you come with me. I can show you a few places where my parents live that are good to hang out. I’m still new to this area around here, myself. Maybe we can find you some better clothes.”
As the two women got ready to leave, Lana asked, “should I still send letters the way I have been doing?”
“No...use email. And if you’re still worried, I can show you how to send email so no one can intercept it.” She paused. “After our 120 day training period is over, you can make arrangements for your Aunt to come here and visit.”
Lana nodded. “Yeah...I’ll do that as soon as I know my schedule.”
The two women continued to talk as they walked out of the trainee barracks.
During the last 40 days of their 120 day training, all the pieces of their previous Scout training seemed to come together. It was time to practice actually doing missions, and working together as a team. And it seemed Melinda was correct, she would be in charge of second squad, Lana as one of her team.
Scout squads usually had five squad members. The two women were not sure who would be the third team member, but Melinda was working hard on getting a guy by the name of Hank Ramcke; currently he was a private, but he would be a corporal once he finished sniper school.
All Scout Marines now had to qualify with the two other weapons: flamer and plasma gun. To use a sniper rifle, a Marine had to take a special class...AND, already be above the level of marksman.
On day 100, the Scouts were introduced to their primary mode of transport:
Regular Space Marines used the Rhino APC; it could carry as many as ten Space Marines in battle suits. Scouts, however, rode in Land Speeder transports.
The Land Speeder transport was basically a light, fast-attack, scout vehicle. It’s type was, hovercraft, but it had the ability to fly at lower elevations using its extendable airfoils. The vehicle could seat a maximum of six people, two crew up front, four Scout Marines in back, much like an open-top car. The driver mainly flew the craft, but could slide over to man a twin-linked bolter mounted on the passenger side hood, assuming there wasn’t a crewman or Scout Marine already there.
Each squad of five Scouts had one Land Speeder transport assigned to them. In addition, the vehicle was able to generate a light force field, used for some minimal protection against energy weapons, but mostly to reduce wind resistance on the crew and passengers.
The last 40 days of training also gave Marines a little more time for extra classes, such as martial arts, a class that Lana had been taking, even before she started basic training. Lana was still working with the school’s primary trainer for females, a darkly-tanned, strongly-build, woman by the name of Victoria, trying to find a good style for her because of her short stature and light build. Sometimes Lana got to meet Bull and Gannon there...to chit-chat with. Victoria, knowing Lana was going into Special Ops, sometimes gave her special attention.
The instructor’s primary advice for Lana was simple: “You can NOT go toe-to-toe with your opponent–-you’re just too small and light. If you face an opponent your size, sure. But against a larger woman, or a male opponent, you MUST keep your distance. Move in quickly, make critical blows...to the eyes, if possible, then get out! If you are going to kick, kick low to the legs, slow your opponent down so you can get away. Your decisive blows should be done with a heavy object or weapon.”
Lana nodded her understanding.
Then Victoria changed the subject, leading Lana to a weapon’s rack. “I’ve seen you trying out the different weapons. Normally, Marines are armed with a standard combat knife, which is basically a fifty-centimeter-long, monofilament-edged, titanium/tungsten blade; I usually get to train them one hour a day, during their last 40 days.”
The trainer eventually pointed at a pair of, what looked like, short swords. “Lana, on your Marine application I noticed you didn’t write anything under special abilities. But in the comments section you wrote something about being ambidextrous. Is that so?”
“Yeah...I think so.” In her normal reserved way, she answered. “A couple days ago, the Major called me to his office to test me.”
The trainer smiled. “Lana...being ambidextrous is an extraordinary special ability. I wish I had known sooner. When you finish your last 40 days, I want to start training with you on the short swords; they are much like the combat knife in design, shorter and lighter, and double-edged. Using just your hands and feet, well, that’s not going to cut it.” She pointed over to Bull, who had just literally knocked the stuffing out of his punching bag, and was looking at it on the floor. “Unlike Bull over there, who keeps...” she sighed, looking at the ruined bag, “destroying our punching bags.” She called to the big man. “Bull...another one?”
He called back, jesting. “Hey...this bag owed me money.”
“I was going to break its legs, but it didn’t have any.” Gannon jested, correspondingly.
Lana tried to keep from laughing, then Victoria told her she’d see her in another couple days.