All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
written by SJ
The Omicron Ranger training base was located on Astoria, the Capital of Cartel Sector 3, a lavish, garden-class, planet boasting over 5 million Terrans and Tau. It had a large economic base of mostly exports and industry. The people in the urban areas of the planet, lived well under a fully involved Corporate Government. But it wasn't the urban area Lana was going to. She was going to the country, the wide-open-spaces of Astoria. When she spotted the Marine Base in the distance as her shuttle came in for a landing in a nearby town, it looked more like a big park, nothing like the Marine Base she was used to on Cheyenne, dry and arid, with many thorn bushes and chaparral. She was greeted as soon as she got off the shuttle.
Gunnery Sergeant Jennifer Dakota had a nice, friendly, smile that someone, even Lana, had to smile back to. She had been a Omicron Ranger Space Marine for almost five years, trained both as a Scout and a regular Marine. Even though she was a little short, her strong, muscular build made up for it. She could handle, with ease, any battle suit, even one with a jump pack, which was one of the things Lana was here to learn. She greeted the new arrival with a question: "Sergeant LaFong, I presume?"
"Yes...that's me...or at least the only one who wants to be." Lana responded, jesting.
Jennifer let out a short chuckle.
The two women both chose to walk to Lana's assigned barracks, Lana opting for a short tour of the new Marine Base. Lana had her suitcase-style duffle bag, which, at the end of her tour, she tossed on her assigned bunk and began to unpack.
Jennifer had a heritage tracing all the way back to Old Earth's native Americans, even though she didn't know exactly what tribe. She had light, bronze-colored, skin, normally with dark hair to match. However, currently, her hair was brownish-red, something she had been getting tired off, and had been thinking about changing to a lighter color. Her parents lived on Olympia in the Beta Canum Venaticorum system along with her Grandfather, someone she liked to talk about if given half the chance; he was the only person who knew anything detailed about her native American heritage. It was he who gave her, her first totem, a small, strip of leather or cloth with a native American design on it. Since that time, she had collected numerous totems, always wearing one on any uniform she had on, even a battle suit.
Lana let out a disappointed moan while unpacking her suitcase. She noticed a small, gold-colored object, which she immediately recognized as the metal disk she found in the power plant on Cornucopia.
"What?" Jennifer thought something was wrong at first, until Lana held up the strange object, then she became curious.
"I found this on Cornucopia." She gave the object to Jennifer. "I was supposed to give it to Major Taliaferro...but, with all that crap with Boseman...I forgot."
"Do you know what it is?"
Lana quickly gave the Gunnery Sergeant a brief account of finding the disk in the strange hallway.
Jennifer hadn't been assigned to lead one of the Omicrom Ranger squads on Cornucopia. She made an excellent trainer, which was her current task at hand. However, she was interested in the small disk, at least for the time being. After a closer examination, she made her best guess. "It looks like something that would hold a power crystal. See this little slot. But I've never seen anything like it. It doesn't look Terran or Tau." She handed the disk back to Lana.
"Well, Lana...what do yon want to do first: Meltagun--or do you want to learn how to fly?" Jennifer put on that big friendly smile of hers.
Lana got the message: The disk was interesting...but it could wait. She had a lot of things to learn, and little time to learn them in. After putting the disk back into the suitcase, she finished unpacking, then followed Jennifer to the meltagun range.
Over the next two months, Lana and Jennifer got to be good friends. Using the Assault Marine jump packs was even harder than she expected, taking up half of her allotted training time; but the Gunnery Sergeant was a good teacher. All the other things she had to learn, seemed easy. She had to become expert with the meltagun, bolt pistol, plasma pistol, and storm bolter, the later being a bit heavy for her, rendering it not one of her favorite weapons. She had to become above average with a number of non-Marine weapons such as lasgun, laspistol, plus other Imperial Guard weapons, which turned out not to be a problem since they were normally very easy to learn and use. She still had to become familiar with some of the Marine heavy weapons, heavy bolter (both versions), missle launcher, lascannon, plasma cannon, and multi-melta even though there was no way she could walk very far with each heavy weapon's large, associated, pack on her back. When it came to learning the battle suit, which the heavy packs were designed to be used with, Jennifer decided to pass; Lana was just too small. Even Jennifer had a designer battle suit for her size. Eventually, the Gunnery Sergeant let Lana use the Scout versions of the heavy bolter and missle launcher. Gallardo didn't like his scouts using those weapons, preferring speed and mobility over the extra firepower. But at least Lana could carry the scout versions, even though they would still be a burden for her.
Jennifer saw Lana as an almost tireless learner. Many times she had to urge Lana to go to town for a little recreation, discovering, during those times, about the younger woman's shyness, and relating to it. When her training at the Omicron Ranger Marine Base was done...she decided to stay until she received orders to return to Camp Cheyenne.
One day the two women found themselves at one of the Omicron Ranger recreational hangouts talking to one of the usual groups of men and women seated at a table when one of the men pulled out some standard military handcuffs...just as a conversation item. But Lana found it amusing, and had to show off, something she rarely did. She stood up, put her hands behind her back, and said, "cuff me."
The man smiled, then joked. "Well...shouldn't we wait until we get to my place, first."
Lana hid her shy smile, but insisted. "Put them on just like you would if you really needed to restrain someone. Go ahead."
"I have to see this." The another man at the table mentioned.
Once the cuffs were on, Lana turned around and declared. "Okay, start counting."
By the count of eight, she produced a pair of unhooked cuffs. Handing them back to the man, she mentioned, "eight seconds...a little slow, but I'm out of practice."
"That's great, Lana. Were did you learn that. Escape training is not until Level 3." Jennifer, as the others at the table, gave her a hardy applause.
"My Aunt taught me...she told me she learned it from her brother a long time ago." Lana lost her smile when she mentioned her Aunt. But seeing how Jennifer was still interested, she continued. "I showed Major Taliaferro once...and he gave me some additional pointers so I could get out of...you know, better cuffs."
Lana and Jennifer remained at the table for awhile longer, listening while one of the men talked about hearing yet another newscast about the finding of ancient ruins on a planet in the Sol6 1Centaurus system. Eventually it was time for them to leave.
On the way back to the barracks, Jennifer had to mention something about the sudden sadness she showed earlier when she talked about the handcuffs. When Lana explained about the death of her Aunt, the other woman understood, and tried to cheer her up talking about her family, especially her Grandfather. She eventually gave Lana one of her totems, telling her to keep it. According to her Grandfather, it meant they were linked, kind of like family. And when both women had enough time off, they would both go visit her Grandfather on Olympia, something she had been meaning to do for quite a while, but kept putting it off. By the time they had reached the barracks, Lana had a message waiting for her: Orders for her to return to Cheyenne.