Mark “Coop” Cooper
Location: CWS Abraham Lincoln, New Lancashire, United Commonwealth of Colonies
“That shitter better be clean enough to eat off of, or I will make you lick it clean. You get me, Private?”
Coop’s back was turned to the SGT in charge of the work detail, so he was able to close his eyes, grit his teeth and take a few deep breaths. It took a considerable amount of willpower to keep from reaching back and snapping the man’s neck.
<I’m a highly trained, lowly motivated, HI asset and they’ve got me scrubbing down the latrine with a toothbrush. This is the definition of a gross misuse of resources.>
“Roger that, Sergeant. You’ll be able to eat your momma’s cooking off this metal throne when I’m done with it.” Some motivation was better than no motivation, but right now Coop had zero motivation.
It had been a few days since the MPs tossed his room and they hadn’t found anything. Usually, that would have been good enough to get him off the hook, but Gunney Topper had a stick so far up his ass he was tasting wood. Extra duty was the punishment for not getting caught in the Gunney’s book, so Coop had spent all his time on CWS Abraham Lincoln doing pointless, pedantic shit. Scrubbing the shitters with a toothbrush was just the latest treat.
<There’s a nanite-infused spray that would get this whole place spick and span in about five seconds, and it would be cleaner than anything I’m able to manage. I wonder if I could complain to whatever department this fat fuck is in. Maybe he’s violating some health code.>
Coop thought it couldn’t get worse yesterday when he had to trim the artificial grass turf in the recreation section of the assault carrier with a pair of scissors. Why someone had designed artificial grass to grow was still beyond him, but he sure as shit knew he wasn’t setting foot on that field unless he had to. He had a suspicion the second the grass exceed the ornery SGT’s standards, Coop would be back there with his scissors and ruler cutting again.
<Gunney can’t do this forever.> Despite the clusterfuck Coop was currently engaged in, he knew all he had to do was buy his time. Eventually, someone with more authority than the GYSGT was going to ask why a sixth of the battalion’s entire HI contingent was on his knees scrubbing away other people’s ass bacteria.
Coop also knew the GYSGT would push it was long as possible. The GYSGT didn’t like Coop, and he’d let everyone know it. Coop could do everything right and he doubted he’d get a favorable evaluation, which didn’t bode well for his career prospects.
<All because of something that allegedly happened a thousand light years away.> The fact that Coop did it didn’t matter. The important part was he hadn’t been caught. <Looks like innocent until proven guilty is just something they write on paperwork. It actually means jackshit.>
“There ain’t nothin’ like a little elbow grease to wake you up in the morning.” The SGT reminded Coop about the other shitty part of this whole situation. It was 0400 ship-time, and the detail would be working until PT at 0600, and then would be back to more menial, demeaning tasks by 0900 until 1700.
<Please great gugala mugala in the sky, get me out of this fucking place.> Coop offered up his heathen prayers without any expectations.
The universe answered.
Three sharp warning bells rang and amber light flashed throughout the bathroom.
“Everyone up! Get to your units NOW!” The SGT didn’t have to tell Coop twice. He ditched the old-fashioned toothbrush and ran for it.
The problem was that it took a solid five minutes to get from the latrine he was cleaning to where his unit was supposed to muster. He was cleaning the shitters in spacer country when he needed to be in marine land. So, of course the GYSGT wasn’t happy when he was the last soldier to sprint into formation.
“Where the fuck have you been, Cooper? Never mind,” he waved off any response Coop had ready. “You and I are going to sit down and have a talk about how things work in my unit when we get through this little brush fire.” He stared daggers at Coop until a holo-screen appeared in the air with a stern-looking LCDR.
“Gunney,” the officer gave Topper a nod before looking out at the collection of soldiers. “We’ve got a situation. While on a routine patrol of System 1776 one of Abraham Lincoln’s gunboats, CWS Argo, engaged and defeated a pirate ship that was attempting to rob or destroy a vessel contracted with Cobalt Mining Company. Argo was successful in eliminating the threat.” That got a few grins from the infantry grunts. “However, upon inspection of the station per our contract with the organization, the Argo’s captain was kidnapped by more pirates lying in wait. A marine and spacer were killed, and many of the corporation’s on-site officers are unaccounted for and presumed dead. The pirates attempted to destroy Argo, but the gunboat’s crew swiftly responded to the attack. They are securing the area until we can send in additional reinforcements to retake the station.”
“That is the situation, Marines. Our mission is to retake that station, find the captain, and eliminate the threat.”
“Sir, yes Sir!” The thrill of upcoming battle made Coop’s nuts tingle.
“The OIC and NCOIC for the mission will brief you more on the execution, but you are going to be walking into the unknown. Nevertheless, my intent is for you to go in there and kick some ass. Understood?!”
“Sir, yes Sir!”
“Out-fucking-standing.” The LCDR grinned. “I will give you one bit of good news.” The LCDR’s eyes swept the assembled soldiers. “PFC Cooper is going to be accompanying you.” Those eyes targeted Coop.
“We need HI on this op, Gunney. No arguments.” The LCDR stomped on the Gunney’s attempt to fuck over Coop, and Coop took a certain amount of satisfaction from that. “PFC Cooper if going to be there to kick down doors and smoke out these cockroaches with the rest of you. If you get in trouble you get behind his fat ass.” That got some laughs, and even Coop found himself smiling.”
The LCDR cut the link from wherever he was and left Coop alone with the Gunney’s wrath. It was clear from the look on the GYSGT’s face that he didn’t want Coop anywhere near an Op like this, but he wasn’t about to go against the battalion commander’s orders.
“You better not fuck this up, Cooper.” He got right up into Coop’s personal space while the rest of the grunts went off to fetch their gear. “Do exactly what the NCOIC tells you. Don’t fucking showboat. Get the job done, or I’m going to strip your enhancements myself and force you to peel potatoes for the rest of your military existence.”
“Potatoes get pealed, Gunney?” From the look on the NCO’s face you would have thought Coop said he was going to butt fuck the NCO’s mother.
Before the GYSGT could chew into his ass, Coop and the thirty soldiers assigned to this Op headed down to the unit’s onboard armory. The regular grunts went through weapons issue, while Coop went for his LACS.
“Any chance you’ve got a shiny new V2 in here for me?” Coop grinned at the female CPL manning the cage.
She did not find Coop charming, and laughed in his face as she led him to the old V1. While everyone got ready, Coop submerged himself into the swamp ass slime of the older version’s interior. Thankfully, it didn’t smell that bad. He went through his startup diagnostics, and then buttoned up before stepping up onto the contraption.
“Commo check.” The CPL spoke into TACCOM as she began to input his suit’s data into the local node and link it to the ship that would cart the strike force to System 1776.
“Good copy, reading you five by five.” Coop replied back as he cycled through his sensor settings.
“Call sign?” The CPL asked, and expected an immediate reply but never got one.
“I don’t have one.” Coop would have scratched his armored head if he wasn’t flexing to test the mechanically augmented strength of his LACS.
“Pick.” She said simply, and a whole list of call signs started to run down his screen.
“Call me Maverick…no I want Penetrator…no wait, Mutilator that’s the one.” Coop could feel the drool collecting as some kickass call signs flew by.
“BallBoy it is.” The CPL stated matter-of-factly and locked it in.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Coop yelled into his armor, but no one was listening.
His equipment updated and officially listed his call sign in TACCOM and STRATNET as BallBoy.
<God damnit, stupid fucking bi…>
“Commence loading.” The CPL cut off his mental rant.
He instinctually triggered the OPEN/CLOSE PORTS icon and felt the hiss of air as the suit opened to receive the ammunition. He watched the ammunition streaming in and did a double take. He wasn’t getting a standard combat load, but he wasn’t getting the non-lethal he’d received for the Chicago riot either. He’d only read about this type of load before.
“They’re giving you an environmentally-friendly load because we don’t want to fuck up this company’s shit and get sued. “
Environmental loads were designed to be used in a fragile environment. Where you could use standard duro-steel 1mm rounds on a planet or on a military warship, that wasn’t always the case with fragile civilian run space stations. Their hulls were thinner, they had a ridiculous affinity to have armorplast windows instead of steel bulkheads because it looked pretty, and in general they always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time which led to them getting shot. So, the Commonwealth had done their best to avoid ruining them and their shit.
The rounds fired in an environmental load would still penetrate and kill and unarmored human. Their velocity was just much slower, and they were designed to slow down after hitting and penetrating a target. The difference was they were nanite-tipped – similar to the non-lethal rounds – but a whole lot deadlier. The previous nanites would just irritate the crap out of you. These would actively try to kill you. They were hunter-killer models. They would look for the damaged parts of armor, find ways to breech it, and attempt to kill its host. HI and regular grunts had counter-nanites to fight these environmentally-friendly but lethal nanites, so they’d be ok. But a run-of-the-mill pirate was going to be monumentally fucked.
“You’re set.” The CPL stated when the rattling stopped and she pulled the giant cord that updated all his neural-nets. “The mission doesn’t call for any high-velocity missiles or 100mm arty rounds. They have assigned you 6 mines though, and you can access them in the same menu as the missile launcher.”
Coop went in and renamed the missile system to avoid any confusion.
“Your rail gun is fully loaded with ten thousand rounds, and I’ve got your Buss with a double load. All the 3mm you could ever want, plus extra grenades where the 100mm rounds would usually go. That should be enough for you to clear a station the size of Cobalt’s without having to get sloppy.”
Coop updated his menus and identified sixty more grenades then what was already loaded into the Buss. He might be wearing antiquated armor, but he was ready to fuck up some minor league kidnapper’s day.
A SSG and LT were in charge of the Op, but the two leaders didn’t talk until they reached the airlock for their ride. The CWS Breckinridge was a destroyer they were stuffing the three squads into for the short ride to System 1776. Judging by what Argo had reported, a single destroyer should be enough to secure the system and ensure the pirates paid for what they’d done.
That was a clear take away from the mission brief Coop got in route. These pirates had fucked with the wrong people, and they were to be made an example of.
<If that’s what you want, then I’m the man for the job.> Coop couldn’t wait to kick some ass. <I’ve been scrubbing shitters for long enough. Time to get some.>