Hawk Squadron: From Gue'la to Warrior Pt. 17
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All those involved seemed enthusiastic about that idea, and went to work on their project almost immediately. The armor was, in fact, truly amazing on it's own. It weighed practically nothing, but he'd seen the armor during training take bullets of the same caliber as the Space marines boltgun, up until the shell exploded.
What Rook found to be the most delicately interesting was the networking. Interwoven around the inside of the armor was an advanced electrical system similar in build - but not in effect - to the gyro armor worn during their testing at the training facility. The electrical system worked as a bio-enhancer. One of it's great features was that it sensed when it was connected to a specific area of a body and quickly snatched itself onto it, relieving the need for troublesome ties or adhesives to keep the armor in place. It simply attached itself to the connectors located on certain points of the pants or tunic you wore under it.
The bio-enhancer actually worked when you moved, mainly when you walked or ran with it on. The armor would take the bulk of the energy in place of your own muscles. In a sense, it allowed you to move beyond your normal capabilities. Tau thrived on this particular armor because their bodies were not suited for doing things other life forms could. In fact, although very agile, they lacked some aspects in nature to humans, especially when considering the highly genetically modified Space Marines.
So armor was made to enhance their normal abilities to allow for a much more evenly matched force. When placed on a human body, which is far more capable of doing extraneous work then the Tau, the human body is in a sense made to be almost super-human.
Rook smirked, as that was perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. What it did do was allow the wearer the ability to run farther with less stress or strain to the leg muscles. When you jumped, you not only jumped further and higher, but when you came down, the boots were modified to take the blow, extending an exo-skeletal food pad - a mere slip of metal under the heal and along the edge of your boot - that had some type of shock absorber which collapsed back into the boot after you landed.
It was all seemingly controlled by the power cell located in the backpack they wore. Rook had to wonder what other gadgets lay within the Tau headgear, something he'd never be able to discover as it was molded to fit the Tau head, and not suitable for humans.
One of the great things about the Tau was that their internal anatomy wasn't all that different then humans, so it allowed for quick manipulation to the bio-electronics in the rest of the uniform - and thanks to the Fio cast, the Hawk's would be the first to try out this new technology. Rook just hoped the faith he'd be placing on the Fio caste would be well deserved. The last thing he needed was to have a uniform malfunction in the middle of combat when it would be sorely needed.
He set the final part of the armor - the leg piece - in place, allowed the armor to suction to the cloth and clip on. He felt a tingle as the bio-electronics configured to his specific genetic structure. The idea was to implement his genes to the uniforms memory.
This allowed the armor to use the maximum energy output while keeping true to what his musculature could handle. If the armor superseded what his muscle cells could handle, then serious injury could result to him or somebody around him. That was why the armor only exaggerated movement, it didn't amplify them to bizarre levels. It would be too dangerous to the wearer.
A crackle from the main entrance into the bay brought Rook's head up. Shas'O Tyon'fa stepped into the door as it hissed open. Rook saw the Shas'O shudder, knowing that the although still hot, the Tau docking bays tended to be cooler then what Tau considered to be comfortable. The temperature had to be slightly cooler because some of the more sensitive munitions and fuel rods for the drop ships and air craft were stored here within the hanger . Although usually armed with pulse weaponry, some Tau weapons, such as grenade launchers, and some intricate mechanics like hover electronics can't always take the blazing heat that most Tau enjoy.
Ralus called the Hawk's to attention as Tyon'fa took the very head of the bay, standing tall and commanding, something Rook came to expect from the old commander. Some of the Hawk's had only half their uniform and armor on, and Rook could see that Ralus and a few others were having difficulty keeping their expressions beside them. He caught Stromf coughing in order to subdue the sudden sputter of laughter.
Tyon'fa looked over each individual and then at Rook before he spoke, "You are all about to embark on a vital mission to one of the Tau lesser worlds. You'll find out which one when you arrive.
"We have word that a small contingent of Imperial Guardsmen have set up a forward observation post on this world. We had originally sent out a minor recon force, but lost contact. The last we heard, the guardsmen there overwhelmed our forces and somehow had us out maneuvered.
"You are going to be inserted covertly into a small densely-wooded area about a few miles from the suspected site. Once there, you're to find out unit designations, specific numbers, any weapons they may have, and then report back all findings and wait for further instructions. This is just a recon mission."
Some of the Hawk's looked at each other, and Rook understood why. This was their first engagement, and the high brass were sending them on a special operations mission. They had practically no combat experience since they joined up with the Tau as auxiliaries, so many things could go wrong.
Even with many of the members being veterans of the Damocles crusade, the unit had not had time to train adequately as a unit. IN combat, everyone has to rely on each other in a Squadron, trust has to be established before a unit can cohesively bond into an effective fighting force. Although going through military basics training, and spending some time in the tests together had helped them bond, it was far from the experience they'd need to do something as critical as what the Tau commander was asking.
Rook had to question what Tyon'fa had in mind, what his reasons for such an operation were, because he was putting a lot of trust into a unit of basically green troops.
Although, Rook had learned from the last time that questioning the Shas'O's motives were not as wise as one might hope, he couldn't understand why. He would just rather his answers came sooner than later, such as in the midst of combat, when all options had expired.
The Shas'O continued, "Gue'vesa'vre Darksky, we also have a special instrument for you."
Rook cocked his head to the right, "Huh?"
"The Tau high command has authorized a new type of weapon for you to try out, along with your other experimental uniforms. It's perfect for covert missions, specifically because of it's fire rate." The Shas'O handed him a small case, roughly the size of a Pulse Carbine. "It's a Gauss Rifle - a true Gauss Rifle. It uses the same sort of technology found in Rail Guns, however it fires faster, and requires less energy, however it has a shorter range and suffers a bit in armor piercing. It should be extremely effective when used against infantry." He pointed at the metal case, "It also has a short-ranged, small burst shotgun attachment. It can be fired in place of the Gauss ammunition, however you have to specifically set the gun to fire the shells."
Rook took the case, setting it down on a small crate. He flicked up the locks and the case swung open. Inside was a gun resembling a off-set Pulse Rifle, but there was a feeding mechanism for a magazine instead of the normal power cell clip that fed the energy to power the Pulse weaponry.
It was exceptionally light in his hands, almost as light as the Pulse Carbine, and less bulky. Rook nodded, "You understand this only further sparks my curiosity as to the question 'why'."
Tyon'fa gave a look resembling a human frown, walked over to Rook to speak to him more privately. he gestured to the Hawk's who then continued to go about putting on their equipment. "Curiosity. All you humans have it. You're kind rarely wants to accept the responsibility without the why. It is that curiosity which has sparked such hatred in your kind, it is also the curiosity which kills your kind as well. Sometimes it's better to just accept things for the way they are, the answers come to us all eventually. And when the time comes with you, you'll find out why. And your curiosity will be satisfied."
Rook smiled, "I don't really know if I believe in not asking questions -"
Tyon'fa held up a hand. "Perhaps I didn't state my position clearly for you. Forgive me, relaying basic human dialect is hard for an old Tau. The Tau didn't get to be a great empire without questions. What I am saying is, ask questions, but then instead of just assuming the answers, find them out for yourself. So many of you simply assume answers, and then off of those assumptions you base your entire life, your morality and how you use your guns. You are a smart Gue'la, Darksky. But until you come to understand the importance of patience, you'll fail to be a wise Gue'vesa'vre."
In his words, Rook felt humbled. And as quick as he came, Tyon'fa was gone, the door hissing shut behind him.
Rook turned to his command, "Time to leave. Finish suiting up on the way." Rook tore the extra ammo clips from the case, taking out the regular Pulse Weapon power cells from his belt pouches and replacing them with the new Gauss and shotgun magazines. He then gave the additional clips to Ralus, "Redistribute these to our worst marksmen."
"Why our worst?"
"Because our best won't need extra ammo."
"Ah." Ralus walked over to some of the Hawk's and handed them the extra clips as they loaded through the rear entrance of the drop ship. When Rook was inside he found the last seat on the right was left for him. He sat down next to Stromf who looked a bit more alert then he had before.
He had taken note that Stromf seemed to dislike something about the responsibility given to him. Whether it was personal, or simply something else, Rook wasn't certain. When he was promoted, Rook could see the distress in his expression, if only for a short time. And when he became a team leader, he had the same look of distress. But where did it come from?
Rook could also see Kaerin who sat almost diagonal from him. She caught his look, gave him no sign of emotion, but held his gaze. There was a remnant of the pain he had seen in her earlier, but it was altered, almost evolved, into something else. Something he didn't recognize, and he had to tear his eyes away from her.
He found his sight caught something else that was odd. Galeo seemed to be lost in thought, which was strange and almost uncharacteristic of the young boy, who tended to be very sharp and appeal to the moments. So many things seemed to be haunting his Hawk's, and he hoped that in their time of need, they'd turn to their squadron-mates for help.
The rear entrance closed and a rather human voice came over the comm. At first it sounded like it was coming from the rear speakers, but Rook quickly found that it was Laise at the far end of the transport, "Attention passengers, welcome aboard Tau Aero-Space Cruiser-Flight 975, departing from Sa'cean space to an undisclosed location. For your pleasure, we've made the seats fully reclinable, although it won't help you much because their as hard as a rock anyway. There will also be an in-flight holo-movie scheduled, but only the pilots will be able to view it. In case you get air sick, we couldn't afford to provide you with any buckets so you'll just have to use the lap of the person next to you. Have a good flight, and remember, we support our troops."
"Hey boss, check these out." Ralus flicked a set of blackened sunglasses down over his eyes.
Rook smirked, "It's a night mission, Ralus. I doubt you'll see much sun."
Ralus looked smug, "Put yours on. I think I found the Tau solution to our no-head-gear problem."
Rook pulled his set from inside the rear slot on his backpack. He looked them over, aware of their fairly bulky nature, especially for a set of sunglasses. Rook gave a shrug and put them on, almost blinked a few times before he realized he wasn't seeing an illusion.
In place of the lenses, there must have been a form of holographic material that displayed data directly too the viewer. He could see everyone he normally could without them on, except now, there was a blue outline around each individual, and it gave approximate weight and height data next to them, as well as armor type, weapons they carried and it gave the options of thermal, starlight or infrared filters.
Rook could see subtle highlights around the options. He found that if he tapped specific areas on his frames, that the images in front of him would filter down and back up with the appropriate option. He tapped thermal; the normal blue-outlined image fled from view and in its place left an opaque background and deep red wherever something hot fell in his sight. He did the same thing with starlight, which was basically a lighting system which showed the area he was viewing had it been daybreak. And night vision, which left a green hue on everything, highlighting any kind of light by magnitudes that were unfathomable.
"These are incredible!"
"Laise thinks that they are somehow related to the same thing that the Tau use in their helmets, but instead of reading brain functions, they read our eye functions, since our armor acts in the way that their helmets already would." Ralus shrugged, "They don't even interfere with our comm ear pieces."
Rook nodded, flicking the option back to normal view. He pulled them off and set them back into their pouch. He'd have Laise look at them more carefully later, and find a way to adapt some sort of head protection later. Going into combat without head gear made Rook feel as though he were naked. It left one of the most vital parts of the body exposed, and that just downright scared him.
But that didn't make him as nervous as the wait had been to their landing zone. The ride to their destination had been without incident, and thus far the Hawk's were taking that to be a good omen. They were, according to the pilots who frequently called over the comm, only mere minutes from the target. Rook had to give the pilots some fair amount of credit, for as big and lumbering as these Orca dropships were, the pilots handled them with a grace one would not have expected. Rook hadn't even noticed they'd left Sa'cean atmosphere until it was obvious time-wise that they could no longer be near it.
As he planned to make it a habit, Rook checked over the outlines of the map once again. The map was fed to him during an in-flight data transfer from the pilots on specific orders from Tyon'fa.
The map section he received showed that the target area was densely wooded, as Tyon'fa had admitted too, but only for a good hundred meters. There was a rather large building complex, most of it appeared to be burned out, most likely from an earlier assault. There was, however, a large mountain close by which for some reason was considered off limits. Rook also noted that the map showed a military complex also close by.
Rook tucked the data-device into a slot on his seats armrest, attached a small cable from the armrest to his wrist-band, and uploaded all available information - including the files which held the map and targets of interest - into it. He was ordered to leave the data-device on board in case something happened where he would be captured or killed, and the wrist-bands self-destruct mechanism would kick in if either the wearer were killed, or the wrist-band removed. This ensured that the delicate information that Tau Intel had gathered would neither fall into the wrong hands or incite mutiny.
The first option Rook understood, but he doubted the second option would occur in his own Squadron, and felt uneasy that his hand - and perhaps the rest of him - could be blown apart simply by the removal of his wrist-band, and he didn't have the codes to undo that specific feature.
After the wrist-band had bleeped it's completed data-transfer, Rook slid the pad into a security slot behind him, and reclined back into the hard chair. The normal lighting reduced to darkness and a pair of red lights started to flash in it's place. He didn't expect the Pilots to say anything over the internal comm system the Orca's had installed in them, they had been in comm blackout for some time. But he did know that meant they'd be landing in about a minute. His gut started to churn, and he knew now there would be no turning back...