Hawk Squadron: From Gue'la to Warrior Pt. 3

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Rook Hawkins

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It was hot. So hot that it seemed as though the sun were only meters above their heads. And to make things even more unbearable, the heavy shock-armor that they wore added on a few more degrees. The pressure put on them didn't help either.

Rook checked his weapons diagnostics indicator once more.Green. It was a bulky thing, the mock-gun was. The G-75 Gyro was longer then the standard Imperial lasgun, and a bit more clumsy then a Devilfish. But in the end, he had to admit the concept of these guns were brilliant for training.  The gun itself was designed to release two quick beams of concentrated light with each trigger pull. But just like a real weapon, it had a power cell that clipped into the right side horizontally and just like a real gun, it could run out of power.

The problem that might prove more troubling was that efficient shooting is top priority for trainees. So the amount of energy within the cell was decreased dramatically, allowing only five shots per cell. Of course, each team member was equipped with three more cells, but the amount of ammo was limited and that meant that each shot had to count for something or it wouldn't, and points would be lost as fast as the ammo.

What was more fascinating then the gun was the armor. The shock-armor encompassed several areas of the body. There was a chest and back plate, thy plates, shoulder plates and of course a helmet. The way the armor worked was that if any of the plates were hit directly by a shot from the Gyro's their intricate webbing of circuits would absorb the energy and then redistribute it to neuro-endings that laced the inside of the armor. There was no padding between the armor and your body, and the result was getting a knock-out wave that paralyzed you until the end of the training session.

The idea was to make it as real as possible without killing anyone or harming them permanently. It was so effective, that since it's induction, the Gue'la trainees had a far better success rate in combat, probably due to the fear of being struck by live ammo and having it hurt more then the shock distributed through the armor.

Taking in all of the instructions he'd been given prior to this exercise was something Rook had been very particular about.  It was similar, in Rook's eyes, to briefing sessions before a raid on a narcotics storehouse or factory.  Preparation was key, because when things got hot, any number of things could go wrong.  In a universe of infinite possibilities, the most prepared have the best chance for survival.  And preparation had been the focal point of his thoughts throughout the past week.

But with all that time spent looking over strategies and tactics, reasoning out possibilities and working out solutions, it was hard to believe that the day was finally here. That he was actually in this impressive armor and that he was going to be leading his trainees into their first engagement.  Even if it weren't real, he had his chance to show Va'tol what he could really do.

It had been a lot to take in, and Rook had to endure the stress for the first few days after his talk with Va'tol. When Harris found out that Rook had been chosen to lead, his face turned the color of Mars and he ended up requesting a transfer to another unit - which Va'tol was more then happy to grant. The problem was that the only other unit without a full roster were the trainees that were only half way through the basics, which sent Harris even further back from ever getting out of basics.

It's for the better. Rook gripped the gun a bit tighter. His team had been designated 'Hawk Squadron,' named so because it's trainee's had the highest kill ratio in target practice then any other unit in the team's cadre.But this isn't target practice, and now the entire team is depending on me to get them out of this intact.

At first, Rook hadn't been so sure over the units designation.  But it grew on him, and on the rest of the squadron as well.  Right away, some of the members had painted some rather haphazard images of Hawk's attacking prey, some in flight, on their helmets and armor.  With a designation, the squadron had come together more.  The experiences they had all been through during basics had bonded them, but the designation sealed them forever. We're Hawk's now, and no matter what happens, that will never change.

And with that designation, Rook had spent the last few days allowing the Hawk's to perfect their target shooting.  He wanted to be sure that when the fight came, they would live up to their names.  And as he soon found out, that would be the key advantage with their limited ammo supply, ever since the details of the initial mission had been presented to him by Va'tol.

The mission details had been given to each team leader the night before the engagement. How it worked was that two cadres squared off against each other. The winner of that engagement would be allowed to move up to the next engagement and face off against another winning trainee team and so on. The catch was that casualties were removed after each engagement, so when you advanced enough -if you advanced enough - you may only have two or three men left in your team.

The final result was that the team that advanced the furthest were given the honors by the brass.

Rook checked his watch. Ten more minutes before we start. Going over the engagement in his head, Rook decided it was a good time to start placing his team around the compound. Pulling out the map from his left cargo pocket, he called around his Hawks and worked up a quick reaction plan.

The compound wasn't much bigger then a standard size arena, however it was out in the open instead of inside a dome. Within the compound there was usually one or two objectives. The objective in this mission was to capture the center Run'al, or "outpost" and then hold it. There were other Run'als along side it and it was set up much like a small ruined city. Debris was set everywhere and Rook almost felt like he was back on Viceria as it was being torn apart by struggling defense forces fighting back the Nids.

"Briggs," Rook whispered into the comlink even though the Rhanda native was right in front of him, "You and Johnston are going to move on the farthest right flank. I need you both to be silent."

"Any reason?"

"No." Rook smirked, "The rest of us are going to be the diversion."

Stromf, an older man with a boyish face piped in, "So we're going to draw them away while Briggs and Johnston hold the whole other team back themselves?"

Rook shook his head, "Not exactly. We're all moving in pairs, taking separate strategic points first, allowing the enemy time to re-evaluate their plans." Rook pointed to the map, "The way this is set up is that the high ground commands the field. All of this debris works for cover, but you notice how all the debris is taller then the walls of the ruined Run'als? That's because if you can use the terrain to your advantage, you can get good shots from above. The idea is to move out at first, grabbing cover.  The tricky part is going to be conserving ammo and making this work, but we can do it.

"Then," Rook moved his index finger along a selected path on the map, "I want to advance as far as we can. I want them to think we're going to take it by force, but the real deception is going to be the awkward balance of our team. I don't doubt if the other leader sees us more heavily balanced on the left, he'll try to flank us on the right. If they take the bait, Briggs and Johnston are then to climb to one of the best debris piles they can and use it to take out the enemy team members holding the center Run'al. Then the rest involves a bit of improvisation."

"So wait," Briggs shifted his helmet around, "This really all depends on luck? That's not very comforting. What if we get hit before we ever get to the top, then you'll be flanked and what then?"

Rook shrugged, "The we improvise. How's that?"

Briggs looked glum.

"Look, we're up against the Lions. They're extremely aggressive, so as long as you get to your location and we're loud enough to distract them, this will all work out."

"Can't I take more of a force?"

"No. If I give you half the unit and I get flanked, we're gone. And it won't matter how high you are, without support, so are you. I suppose we're just going to have to depend on you two. Harold, Cameron, you're going to take my direct left flank. Markus, Galeo, you two are going a bit further down, but stay close to Harold and Cameron. If you two get cut off from each other, you'll be vaped, and so will I. The rest of you stay to the rear, and act as a guard. If they do flank us, we'll need you. Make sure you keep coherency. I can't stress that enough. Now, any questions? No? Okay, let's get ready to move out."

The clock counted down to the last few seconds, and Rook could feel his heart beating slightly faster as the adrenaline started to flow through his veins quicker and with less restraint. This had to work, he'd make it work. And then the distant sound of a buzzer went off, initiating the engagements to begin.

Rook moved as stealthily as possible, crouching low as he passed around cover and into the open. He checked his flanks with his weapon raised, saw the rest of his small 11-man team doing the same. He could hear and smell the other team members in the close distance.  He found a nice position placing a debris structure to his rear and to his front, adding protection to his back, but blocking his view of the rear of the compound rear.

Rook brought up his Gyro gun and clipped off two short bursts at a trio of enemy trainees peeking around a debris pile. They were accurate, grotesquely accurate, catching one trainee in the chest plate and another in his comrade's shoulder as he leaned over to see if his friend had been hurt. They both fell to the ground, first in spasms, then going eerily still.

Returning shots were fired by the remaining trainee, but they just skittered harmlessly across the debris structure as Rook ducked behind, the metal absorbing the energy and turning hot. This could get ugly.

A tall man from Grodo, Jute Ralus, slammed up against the structure next to Rook. Ralus gave Rook a sour expression. "Milford was vaped as he came around the corner back there. He was on my right and to the rear, so methinks that they are taking the bait. But that also means we're about to be surrounded."

As if accenting his words, two more energy darts hitting just to the sides of Rook made both Hawk's hit the deck. Ralus picked up a line of sight and triggered four nicely dispersed shots. Rook could hear a man scream, and then gurgle as if the pain forged bubbles in the Lion-trainees' mouth.

"I think I missed the armor." Ralus gave a rueful look, "I guess these things hurt if you miss the armor."

Rook shook his head. "Try not to do that, that could cost us points."

Ralus shrugged, "Oops."

Rook peered around the side and beaded one of the Lions trying to run for a piece of debris directly to their right. The energy dart hit the mans left thy, causing his leg to convulse. The unnatural direction his leg bent forced him to collapse under his own weight, sending him back against another trainee who had thought the coast was clear and ventured from his hiding place.They can't bethis aggressive!

As the trainee struggled to get his paralyzed comrade off his body, a double burst from one of the Hawk's on the right caught him in the chest, sending him into spasms before rendering him immobile as well.

Rook released his ammo clip and placed a fresh one in the slot, locking it into place and watched the indicator glow green. It was getting hotter, and so was the combat.

Ralus shook his head, "Where's everyone else?"

"In the rear watching our backs, or possibly paralyzed, which isn't good." Rook looked over at the two lions on the ground, then towards where the shots had just come from. "But Briggs and Johnston are on the high ground, so I think it's time we did something."

Some fire came pouring out just beyond where Rook had placed some of his Hawks.  He keyed his comm, "Cameron, what is your status?"

Some haze came back, and then a voice answered, "A bit busy here, Leader. We're at the Run'al next to you but we have a better view of the situation then you do now."

"Do tell."

"We're housed up with Markus and Galeo. We can see Stromf and Laise about two yards from us taking some heavy suppressing fire. It looks like the Lions might be trying to get to Briggs and Johnston who seem to be holding their own, but not much longer. I've seen Briggs change his cell two times and Johnstons on his last."

"On my signal move from your position to the Run'al and debris directly right of the center Run'al. I think we cleared most of the resistance in the front and have some left in the back. If it's clear, take the Run'al."

"As ordered Leader."

Rook looked over at Ralus, who was exchanging fire with one of the Lions, keeping the enemy trainee pinned down. "Ralus, get to the top of this pile and lay down some covering fire for Briggs and Johnston when I give the word."

"But what about this guy?" Ralus clipped off another shot in the direction of the Lion, followed by a scream and then the thud of heavy flesh hitting the hard ground.

Rook blinked, "What guy?"

"Shut up."  Ralus sneered.

"Oh, touché!"

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