May 22, 2189: Jamaica Beach outside of the Capital City of Marley, New Kingston Colony
It was a little after 7:30 PM and the sun was just starting to go down as Sam Hall leaned back in her beach chair looking out at the sky over the water and reveling in the feeling of the nice breeze and the pleasant weight of two sleeping children jammed onto the long, reclining beach chair with her. One of the twin four year olds was her nephew Ryan, whose hair on the top of his forehead she was absent-mindedly running her left hand thru as he lay on her side, using her shoulder as a pillow with her scarred left arm slung around him. The other twin was Maxine, who lay across her legs with a bit of adorable-and-gross-at-the-same-time drool running down her wide open unconscious mouth and onto her thigh. Sam knew she didn't have long before their parents, her younger brother Thomas and his wife Adrianna, would be done with their little get-away while she watched them, and she wanted enjoy every minute with them.....even if they were unconscious. A few minutes later though, she started to feel a bit sad because she knew she was shipping out in the morning and probably wouldn't see them again for months, perhaps years. Samantha looked down the beach again and her sad mood became grim as she remembered her nightmare from a couple of days ago....a long day that had led to her recent decision....
2 Days Earlier:
Sam strode down the beach her home stood on, smiling in the warm sun as she watched her brother Tommy and his wife Adi and their wonderful twins Maxine and Ryan play and splash in the warm ocean water. She looked down the beach and her smile fell away as she suddenly saw a massive horde of the terrifying xenomorphs come charging down the sands. She yelled out in horror and panic, rushing towards her family, but before she could get to them several of the Alien monsters leaped and....
Samantha shot up in her bed, covered in sweat, her heart racing and it took her a couple of minutes to realize she was in her home....it had just been a nightmare. Sighing half in relief and half in annoyance, she looked at the clock and saw it read 3:44 in the AM. Mumbling curses, she threw her soaked sheets off herself and staggered into the bathroom to get a shower....
7 hours later; USCM Marley City Base: Rifleman's Training Range Alpha:
Sam ignored her stomach growling at her and reminded herself that it was time to go to work....lunch could wait. For the past 2 years, Samantha had been serving as an Instructor here at Colonial Marine Corps Marley City Base; a Base whose primary purpose was to teach young Marines fresh out of boot camp Rifleman training. After boot camp, each Marine was assigned a role in the Corps; Smartgunner; Comms-Tech; Pilot; etc. Those that were assigned to be Rifleman were sent here or one of the other Rifleman training bases on Earth or several other colonies and once they completed that, they were sent to Active Units.
For now, she stood in her short-sleeved BDUs, watching as a dozen young Marines walked up to her, a few looking at the scars that ran up and down her left arm, but most had their eyes on the massive holographic testing area that was behind her. "Good morning Marines, I'm SGT Hall and today you're all going to be running thru a holographic combat simulation designed to test your marksmanship and alertness in a combat situation. Each of you will be given an M-41 Pulse Rifle equipped with a special laser emitter that has been designed to accurately reflect where real live 10mm ammunition would go when you squeeze the trigger and what effect it would have on real life targets, which the holoprojector will simulate. Each of you will be attacked in a random pattern by four different adversaries who may engage you from in front of you, behind you; to the sides, above you, etc. Everyone will wear a special vest"-, here she held one up; "-also equipped with sensors, which will let you know if the holograms get you first." Picking up one of the modified M-41s, she smiled at the dozen young marines, mostly teenagers, and she asked them; "Okay then....who's first?"
One of the young men, a tall, strapping, dark-skinned young man who had the same unmistakable accent she had, showing he was a local like her, stepped forward with a cocky grin. "I'll take 'dat Sarge....I be nailing deese holo-grams like it was no-ting, you dig". Sam just smiled as she shook her head at the Marine whose name tag read off 'Ranks' and handed him the weapon while saying "Okay mon....go on den".
As Ranks put on the vest and took the weapon, Sam turned to the computer screen next to the door way and pressed a few buttons to unlock the door and open the channel to Corporal Dennis Hoskins, who operated the holo program. "Okay, Denny, get it ready for our first participant, Private Ranks". Denny's disembodied voice came back crystal clear; "You got it Sam, ready in 3, 2, 1....go!"' Sam nodded at Ranks and he stepped in thru the doors and then the doors shut behind him and what he was experiencing was suddenly being played on a massive screen to let Samantha, and the other new Marines, watch.
PVT Ranks was walking through an incredibly realistic looking forest, in a hilly section that had several areas of heavy foliage. Suddenly a holographic 'rebel', wielding a Submachinegun popped up on the Marine's right. Ranks turned in that direction and dropped to one knee, quickly firing a burst, then a second; dropping the rebel to the ground with the second burst. A split-second later, two more popped up to his left and 'above' him on a ridge. The Private stood up and rushed to one side while firing a long, wild burst that clipped one of the Rebels in the leg and stitched the other across the chest. Finally, the last hologram popped up in front of him and Ranks fired from the hip one, twice, three times, finally hitting the Rebel and snapping him back. Ranks yelled out in victory as the holo-gram suddenly vanished and several of the other Marines applauded and whooped loudly; even as Sam noted that Ranks' armor had just flashed a signal that he had been shot several times; clearly the young Marine had missed the 'buzz' sound when he hollered out in joy.
The door opened up and Ranks sauntered out with a cocky smile as he tossed the Rifle back at Sam, calling out "See mon....ain't no 'ting!". Sam called out, "Well, actually mon, if you look down-"; here she pointed to the red light flashing on the side of Ranks' vest; "-you'll see that you got shot in the side and back. That first Rebel you put down, you only hit him in the arm.....and one of the two on the ridge line, you only hit in the leg....so yeah, you're not quite the ultimate bad-ass you 'tink you are, just yet. If you look over here'"; Sam said as she was about to play-back the footage on the wall screen to show him what she was talking about, when she was cut off by the rude sound of the young Private skinning his teeth and talking to her with contempt dripping from his words....
Ranks' face had gone from cocky smile to angry snarl in a heart-beat; "I don't need some Lady-Marine showing me any'ting....some bitch who just 'tinks 'cause she's got Sarge's stripes, she can talk down to REAL marines any time she likes....screw dat, I kicked that test's ass mon!" The room had gone dead silent as the other Marine recruits subconsciously took a step back, realizing that they were out of their depth here and that Ranks had overstepped his bounds. Sam's normally cheerful face had turned hard and cold in an instant and she stared right into Ranks' eyes, not minding for a second the 7 or 8 inch height advantage the tall Marine had on her. She had stared down Rebel insurgents and well trained and equipped Mercenaries firing automatic and explosive weapons at her; faced off against horrifying Harvester alien creatures that could shred a person into a pile of human parts in less than 30 seconds and the horrifying xeno-morphs who were probably the greatest killing machine that existed anywhere in the known galaxy....she was not about to be intimidated by a dumb-ass, cocky young Marine.....
Sam spoke in a soft, quiet tone that caught Ranks by surprise as he was no doubt expecting her to either burst into some kind of tears or fly off the handle in a melodramatic rage. "I don't give a damn that you got hit, but I DO care dat you would've only taken out two of de enemy 'cause dat means dose two could hurt your fellow marines. I'm gonna guess you grew up runnin' and gunnin' in some South-Marley posse wit de odder rude boys, 'tinking you were the baddest 'tings in the galaxy, yeah?" Her accent came thru thick now, letting Ranks now she was from the same place he was. "Well....you're wrong Marine. I've seen 'tings that could chew up you and your entire posse in less time than it takes me to tell you 'bout dem....so why don't you just take dat vest off, park your ass down in front of de screen over dere and watch someting"; she finished as he motioned for him to take off the sensor equipped vest. Her eyes never left his as he began to realize he had shot his mouth off to the wrong person, but saw no way out of it with all of the other Marines in the room silently watching the exchange, and he took off the vest and handed it to her. Slipping it on, Sam walked over to the comms controls and called into it; "Set it up for Round Two Denny"; "Roger that Sarge", came the reply and a moment later, the door opened and gripping the Pulse Rifle, Hall stepped through the open door; taking a deep breath and letting it go as the door spiraled shut behind her.....
This time, the machine had conjured up a bunch of sand dunes, with a wind blowing and Samantha could almost feel the grit blowing into her eyes and face as she struggled through the terrain. As she started to ascend to the top of a dune her peripheral vision caught movement 'below' and to her left, and in a whirl, she dropped to her belly and cut loose a 6 round burst from the Pulse Rifle that caught the hologram rebel center-mass. Rolling down, she came to her feet and fired twice quickly, once to the left, once to the right as holographic Rebels seemed to emerge from behind a dune just in time to catch a burst of Pulse Rifle fire. The holo-rebel on the left got hit across the left side of his chest while the right one took his blast in the face. Warily moving forward, Hall suddenly 'felt' something not right and whirling around 180 degrees while droping to one knee she brought her Pulse Rifle into her shoulder, sighted down the barrel and as a Hologram of a Rebel holding a scoped hunting Rifle appeared on the top of a Sand Dune behind her, she stroked the trigger, putting a burst of fire straight into his chest. The holographic program ended and moment later Sam walked out of the door to half of the Marines clapping and cheering her while the other half, including Ranks, were staring at her with their mouths open in amazement. The first thing Samantha noticed though was Corporal Denny waiting for her in the room as well.
"What's up Denny?" "You got a message, from somewhere 'classified' from a LCPL Giosso? It's waiting for you up on the computer in the 'Secret Squirel' room". Sam smiled immediately upon hearing that name; though it had been 5 years since she had last seen him; she would always think of Mark as her "other" little brother; a fantastic fellow marine she had had the pleasure of serving with on several tours early in her career. "Thanks Denny, I'll go take a look at it, you take over here, would ya?" "Sure thing Sarge", "Thanks!"
As Samantha walked out of the area to go check the message; Ranks in a whisper asked Hoskins; "Yo, Corp....did you know she could do that?" while pointing to the holographic chamber. Denny turned to the young Marine and then took in the dozen of them with his gaze and said; "Hell yeah I did kid. Sam Hall's been in the Corps for a decade, has made a dozen combat drops and has fought everything from Rebel Insurgents to Mercs to Alien Bugs so scary, it's Classified to even talk about them. She's got 2 Purple Hearts and a Silver Sun to her name so far and is one of the best marksmen in the Corps, period. She also would have my balls on a platter for telling you any of that, so if I hear of ANY of you letting out that you know that in her presence, I will PERSONALLY make sure you end up serving a Tour on sanitation duty in the Methane plants on Arcturus, are we clear?!" "YES CORPORAL!" the dozen marines all yelled at once. "Good....now let's keep this going; Private Jackson, you're up next!"
(Part II coming soon)
Fan fiction written by our members.
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