Hawk Squadron: From Gue'la to Warrior Pt. 6

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Rook Hawkins


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Rook shifted uncomfortably as the Shas'O gave the details of the final score. They weren't very impressive, and the mood of the Hawk's started to drift eerily towards sullen as the Shas'O pressed on with his interpretation of the tactics.

"During the exercise, several members from your team disrobed their armor and tampered with the Gyro's. Although not an official rule, the elders have decided that this was done in bad taste. Therefore for each member that disarmed their Gyro's, ten points will be taken away."

Rook felt his airways tighten, the words from the Shas'O themselves seemed to have intentions of strangling him, wrapping around his mind and closing all airways, disallowing oxygen from entering his lungs.

The Shas'O continued, despite the look of unpleasantness around the unit. "In addition to points being deducted, all the tampered Gyro's will be taken out of play, along with all the armor that was originally taken off your team members and you will have no replacements for them. Those of you without armor must still eliminate yourselves from the game if you're hit."

Groans came from the team members who knew that meant they'd be going in with no armor and some with no weapons. One voice penetrated them, "But then we lose four pieces of armor andthreeGyros!" Briggs turned his gesture into a bit of a pout.

The Shas'O made an expression that resembled a human sneer, a hint of venom attached itself to his voice, "You're lucky,Gue'la, that I don't just expel seven of your Squadron members. Now I expect silence until I am through."

Briggs shuddered and ducked his head low, his cheeks red with embarrassment.

"As I was saying," The Shas'O looked directly at Rook, which made Rook's lungs squeeze a bit more. "Although your methods were unorthodox, and even though the elders, as wise as they are, have frowned upon your tactics, I applaud your efficiency." The change in the Shas'O's tone, and complimentary words allowed Rook to breathe easily again.

"In combat, it is quick thinking and cheating that will eventually allow you to win the day. However, remember that this is not real combat. This is a game. And in games there are rules that must be followed. The harsh penalties that I have inflicted upon this unit are not because of the manner in which you present yourselves in battle, but more because your Team Leader made an assumption and now must learn a lesson. Assumption is a tool that will only work against you. You assumed that in this game just because a certain rule or case was not spoken, that it didn't exist. It's only by chance that your Team Leader assumes much less in combat then he does about discipline."

Rook blushed, uneasy. The way the Shas'O had read him was haunting. It was a reprimand, but delivered as a compliment. Rook shunned those remarks, and the Shas'O had known it would sting his ego rather deeply. It would make Rook work harder, prove the Shas'O wrong. But Rook had known those were the Shas'O's intentions to begin with.

"Now, we have a final test coming."

"Already?" Cameron asked, "I thought there were more."

The Shas'O shook his head, "Does this Squadron have a problem with listening? Didn't I just say silence until I was finished? To answer your question however, usually there is, but most of the cadre's aren't faring nearly as well as you are. In one of the trials, two cadres wiped each other out in one mission. By the Ethereals, I do not know what happened, and I'm sure they don't either. But this is not the point."

The Shas'O pulled out another map from inside his pocket, this one was much bigger then the one Rook had in his from the previous mission. After flattening the creases out, the Shas'O explained that this mission was a direct confrontation. The idea was to gain as much ground as possible by the end of the mission. To help accomplish this, each member of the squad was given grenades similar in concept to the large remote-bomb they had used to eliminate the Cougars.

"There are two ways to win. The first is to gain the most ground in the amount of time given, and of course to paralyze all the other team members."

Cameron, in a very uncertain manner, raised his hand. The Shas'O sighed heavily, looking to Rook wearily. "I do not envy your position."

Rook allowed a smile, "Try living with them."

The Shas'O pointed to Cameron, "Speak Gue'la."

"Shas'O, how long will we have until the clock runs out?"

"You won't know until the signal is given to end the game. A time is randomly generated at the start of the mission but only the observers will know for how long."

An unsettling quiet fell across the room. Not having a time frame made it difficult to evaluate wins or losses, it made it uncharacteristically realistic for a game because in combat,real combat, time seemed to be an uncertainty, the only thing that mattered was the objective. Without time being set, the ability to synchronize before the mission was going to be difficult. Worse yet, in a heads-on assault, with some of his unit without armor and weapons, this was going to get ugly. If there could be a worse moment for him to be without time, it would be now.

"The terrain you'll be covering is much greater then you're used too, and is also very different. This map has been generated to be as realistic as we could make it while still making it a challenge to the opposing sides. Also, each side will be given certain ground advantages, which the other side will lack. As Team Leader, Darksky, you will be responsible for finding these advantages and exploiting them during the mission. Any questions?"

Ralus chimed in, "Erm, you never said who we were up against."

The Shas'O worked his mouth into an approximation of an evil grin. "That is the biggest surprise."  With that, as before, the Shas'O stood and walked out of the area.

Ralus looked glum, "Sure,nowhe wants to be funny."




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