Approx. 1500 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
The Chaos Begins:
written by SJ
Thunderhawk Mesa was located about one-half kilometer away from of the far southeastern edge of the PT area's track. On top of the large mesa was Thunderhawk Mesa Airport where Colonel Gallardo was proud to boast of four Thunderhawks, two gunships, and two transports. The two transports could easily carry Gallardo's entire company of Marines, four squads of regular Marines and four squads of Scout Marines. At about 0500 hours in the morning, Gallardo called for a surprise Thunderhawk training exercise. The regular Marines got loaded aboard one Thunderhawk, the Scouts aboard the other one.
At a predesignated area deep in one of Cheyenne's chaparral deserts, the gunships laid down a massive barrage. Shortly afterwards, the Marines landed...amid the smouldering ruins of the blast zone (not the nightclub).
Lana had never heard so much noise and seen so much smoke and destruction in her life. The exercise lasted most of the day. Amid the smoking devastation, the Scouts spotted and marked targets, as the Marines with heavy weapons blew them up. It was very exhausting.
After the first part of the training exercise was over, they finally got to eat, around 1400 hours, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), but at their current level of hunger at the time, it was a banquet. Melinda and Lana got to know their fourth squad member, a recruit they both were partially acquainted with from basic training by the name of Reggie Martin, SM1.
However, their day wasn't over yet. They had to establish and defend a landing zone while waiting for the Thunderhawks to return, during which the three gunships pretended to lay down another barrage near their defensive position. The training officer, Major Taliaferro, had buried explosives near the defensive perimeter. Once he was sure the Marines were out of danger, he set off the explosives to simulate the barrage, which sent great amounts of earth and rocks into and on top off the defenders. With so many new Marines, he wanted to make sure they knew what it was like to be near a real barrage, even though he knew the real thing would be much worse. Being very serious, he attempted to explain that point once it was over.
Each Marine could hear over their coms the Major's voice. "Many times has an Ork offensive been stopped in its tracks by a gunship barrage just at the brink of a Marine position being overrun. However, instead of just dirt and rocks landing on top of you...there would've been pieces of Ork bodies as well. Have a nice day."
By 1800 hours, they had finally been picked up, dropped off on top Thunderhawk Mesa, then transported by the monorail back to Camp. They were almost too tired to eat as they entered the mess hall. Colonel Gallardo met them there. After joking around a little, he let them know that tomorrow they would have light duty.
The two women felt more like themselves after breakfast. They sat with Hank and Reggie, talking over yesterdays exhausting training event. It was the first time Lana got a good look at Corporal Hank Ramcke, the squad sniper. Yesterday they were just too busy...and dirty. Now, she could tell why Melinda wanted him in the squad...other than the fact he was a good sniper. He was tall, slender, and good-looking, with light-brown hair. If Lana looked directly at him, it was hard for her to resist that shy smile of hers. But he was a very friendly guy, good-natured, easy to talk to; her shyness soon dissipated, replaced by friendship.
As the day wore on, Lana was expecting to hear from the Colonel, asking her to report to the Tourist Center for her little display of fake punishment. However, shortly after the evening meal, Gallardo called for a Company meeting in the rec room.
The men and women of the Cheyenne Rangers were there waiting as the CO entered, followed by a call, "Ely's comin", by Master Sergeant Wade Abercrombie. It was one of the more colloquial ways they called attention when the Colonel entered a building, but with equal seriousness as a formal call, and only by long time members of the Cheyenne Rangers.
"At ease." Gallardo returned as he took center stage. "Okay...as most of you know, we've been on alert for several days now. Well, you're about to know why." He looked at his oPod, then continued. "As of noon, yesterday, we have lost all communication with the Marine Base on Cornucopia in the Proxima Altair system. Despite the continued investigation of the Emperor Corporation's scientists, people have continued acting strangely, and, as of yet, they haven't found why. I won't go into any specific details, let's just say that all the evacuated colonists are okay; nothing strange or unusual has been reported with them. However, there are still some people there. One of our missions will be to go look for them. Earlier search teams have come up missing; that, and the loss of communication to the Marine Base is why we are going. We'll be taking two Marine squads, and all four Scout squads. Primarily this will be a search and rescue mission. After that, and more importantly, we need to find out what's wrong with that Marine Base. I know the CO there...he's a good man. I have no idea why he's not answering his calls."
Back at the barracks, Lana and Melinda packed their gear, one duffle bag of only a certain minimum weight, which turned out to be more than enough they would need. Lana watched as the older woman took out her 9.1 millimeter auto pistol, the one she had since her days as a Federal Agent, to pack it.
Whether she realized it or not, Lana had definitely become Melinda's protégé. When she had heard about Melinda having a 9.1mm auto pistol (normally referred to as a 9.1) as a back up gun, she got one also.
Back up weapons were not standard equipment for Space Marines, but they were encouraged to carry one. They had their choice of using whatever they could find from the Camp armory, or purchase one themselves, but ONLY if they qualified with it. Lana had already done that, with a marksmanship rating well above average. She showed it to Melinda, saying it was the ‘G' model, but was a little disappointed when she saw Melinda had the ‘B' model.
Basically, 9.1mm auto pistols, looked very much the same as the older 9mm pistols used long ago on Old Earth. The ‘B' model resembled the Barretta, the ‘G' model resembled the Glock. However, the primary difference was that auto pistols were almost twice as powerful as their Old Earth counterparts, and had similar types of ammunition as the bolter.
"Oh...you got the ‘G' model." Melinda commented as she spotted Lana's weapon. "I think that's a good model for you." She laughed. "I got the ‘B' model because I thought it looked better. For you, I think the ‘G' model fits your smaller hand a little better...doesn't it? Did you qualify yet?"
"Yeah. About a week ago. I got ninety six percent the last time I was at the range." Lana smiled, happy with Melinda's approval of the model she purchased.
"Ninety six percent! Wow..that's good, LuLu. The best I've ever done is ninety five. And that was back when I was an agent."
"Thanks." Melinda's comment meant a lot to Lana. She almost felt bad about being better, but it didn't seem like Melinda held any resentment.
Once the two women were packed, they put their duffle bags outside the barracks next to the monorail, where they eventually got picked up, then taken by supply personnel to Thunderhawk Airport. Once a military corsair transport had landed, it started being loaded with all the personnel and equipment assigned for the current mission to Cornucopia.
First to be loaded were the two Rhino APCs, then the four Land Speeder transports, none of which had their support armament. Rhino's normally carried a twin-linked bolter on top protected by a gun mantlet. However, like Colonel Gallardo had said earlier, this was ONLY a search and rescue mission; they were not packing for a battle. But if they needed it, a return trip could be made later.
Next, the troops were loaded, Scout Marines first then the regular Space Marine squads, followed by Colonel Gallardo with headquarters squad. Supply and support personnel were already on the spaceship, boarding the same time as the equipment. It had taken well after midnight to finish loading the corsair. They were tired–-and they would need all the sleep they could get.