Mark “Coop” Cooper
Location: Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Earth, United Commonwealth of Colonies
<Why did she do this?> Coop’s eyes were fixed on the digital signature of the Commonwealth Chief of Naval Intelligence.
Two things came to mind. First, Admiral Berg was putting him and her daughter in the same position to show her that he wasn’t worth it. When given increased responsibility in a position that was bound to require high-level technical acumen, the ADM expected Coop to fail, and she expected Eve to see it all unfold. It was a diabolical genius’ plan. The second reason was a positive one. Coop thought this unlikely based on his past encounters with the ADM, but she might be trying to propel his career forward so he would be worthy of her daughter if he succeeded. She’d said people were looking at Eve as a future leader based on her past performance, and people weren’t saying that about Coop. Now, not only was Coop and qualified SRRT, HI trooper, but now he was about to be one of the first soldiers in this experimental armored cavalry deal. If that didn’t build a resume than nothing did.
<The only problem is knowing which one is her true motivation.> Coop wondered as CMDR snow led the group over to the base of one of the towering mechs. <No…MOUNTS,> he corrected himself. He didn’t want to think of them as mechs.
“For your situational awareness the recruiting corps does not know of the true nature of your assignment. We are trying to keep all of this under wraps until we can deploy these units to combat the Blockies, Windsor’s, or anyone else who wants to militarily test the Commonwealth.”
“They’re gonna know when forty of us walk back into the classroom at Stewart-Benning as Warrant Officers,” Camilla whispered, and Coop nodded. The proof of their special assignment was literally on their persons.
When all the enlisted soldiers and NCOs had reviewed their paperwork to see they’d been promoted to WO-1, their CMUs had automatically updated. Like all officers, WOs had a stripe to signify their commission, but unlike regular officers it wasn’t gold or platinum. Instead a black stripe made its way down all of their uniforms. In Coop’s opinion, it looked a hell of a lot better than the gold and platinum he was on the LTs, LCDRs, and CMDR in the room. The gold in particular was way too flashy, and the ADMs walking around practically had golden pants with their five stripes. The black of a warrant officer was subdued and classy. IT didn’t throw it in your face that this person was better than you, it simply stated a WO knew their shit and should be trusted to do their job. Coop gave the stripe a pat and turned his attention back to the CMDR.
“You are all here for a three day familiarization. After that, you will return to your recruiting class, at your previous ranks, and graduate. After graduation, everyone’s orders will be changed and you all will be assigned to special projects at Aberdeen Proving Grounds,” the CMDR finished up.
“I knew that was the sign I saw,” Bill smiled triumphantly, and explained when he saw Coop’s confusion. “Aberdeen Proving Grounds is a joint Fleet-Infantry base to test experimental weapons. It’s been around since before the Commonwealth. I think they tested the first A-bomb here.”
“No way. I heard that was in Manhattan,” Camilla responded.
“No way would they build a nuke in New York City. I thought it was out in Los Angeles, or the desert somewhere,” Coop shot back. A couch and a hard look from a former SSG, now also a WO, shut the three former CPLs up.
The gathered soldiers were all now standing at the foot of a MOUNT…literally. Even the tallest of the enhanced soldiers barely reached mid-thigh on the metal monster.
“As I stated before, these are the Modular Offensive Units, or MOUNTS.” The CMDR beamed up at the grey shell. “We were able to capture a Windsor mech and its pilot at Harper’s Junction and that was instrumental in helping us reverse engineer their combat capabilities, and make our own improvements. To give you all a better idea of what you’ll be riding into battle please give a warm welcome to Mr. Thomas Gold.” The CMDR stepped back and a familiar face appeared from behind the armor.
“I see a few familiar faces in the audience,” the elder Gold, and titan of industry’s lingered on Coop and Eve for just a second longer than everyone else, “and all of you have used my products at one time or another.” He smiled a flawless, white smile. “Today you’re getting a sneak peek at a next generation weapon that is going to turn the tide of war against our enemies and solidify our Commonwealth’s position in the galaxy. Some of you know it isn’t just human we need to worry about.” Gold’s eyes darted to Coop and Eve again.
“Right now things are a little bare bones,” but they’ll be ready for you after you graduate your recruiting course and get assigned here,” he reassured. “But outside this armored shell, which is made of a newly patented polymer alloy that is an order of magnitude stronger than duro-steel, we’ll be putting on a polymorphic skin that will camouflage the MOUNTS.”
“That’s not much of an improvement over the LACS,” Coop mumbled.
“But the polymorphic is a standard measure to help the MOUNT blend into their environment if needed. The real stealth mode is something quite new altogether. Boys, do you think we can dial up Unit 01 to give these soldiers a show.” The engineers under his employ clearly weren’t going to say no to the Thomas Gold, so five minutes later the MOUNT in front of them was up and running.
“Corporal…sorry, Warrant Officer Cooper, we’ve worked together before. Come up and help me with this demonstration,” Coop didn’t have a chance before Camilla and Bill shoved him forward. “Now, we all know about the new shield technology developed throughout the fleet, and I also know a few of you have developed countermeasures.” Gold looked expectantly at Coop who nodded in reply. “The old shields are basically a giant bubble around you that at its factory settings will only stop things going above a specific velocity. You can dial the power up and down, but there are drawbacks to battery life and life itself if you don’t have enough air to survive. When its powered up so nothing gets through…that means nothing.”
“What we’ve done for out new MOUNT is create a new type of shielding. Think of it as armor on a knight. Instead of a bubble we have a directional amplifiers built into the armor.” On cue, the shield sprang to life, and even better, it was color coded. “We’ve calibrated most of the MOUNTS shielding to be at its strongest, impenetrable setting, while several smaller, less-vulnerable areas are a standard or weaker power levels and frequencies. The idea here is to give the Dragoon, you fine soldiers here today, the ability to adapt your shielding to the situation and threat.” Gold smiled like a kid in the candy shop. “But forgive me, I’m getting away from myself with all the new gadgets and gear we have in these beauties. We were talking about camouflage.” Gold smiled deepen. “Keep your eyes on the MOUNT, and, abracadabra.”
“Holy shit,” Coop wanted as the six meter war machine in front of him disappeared in front of his eyes.
“It is pretty fantastic,” Gold stood with his hands on his hip and looking at the empty space for a second,” but like all good things, I’m afraid this has a drawback too.” He tossed Coop a pen. “Throw it.”
Coop did as he was instructed and chucked the pen at the invisible armor. It impacted with a soft clang of metal on metal. <Hmm, well that sucks,> he saw the drawback as a pretty big one.
“The shield is what allows for this extreme level of stealth. As of this moment, no sensor in the Commonwealth’s inventory can spot the MOUNTS while in stealth mode, but reconfiguring the shield also reconfigures its priorities. It’s about staying hidden instead of protection. We don’t have the power to do both.”
“I can see some situations where it is beneficial, and others where the standard polymorphic camouflage will be better. Doctrine and strategies are being developed before our training begins, and it will be up to you all to test those theories and adapt them as necessary,” the CMDR added.
“Just one quick question,” Coop asked. He figured if he was the demo dummy then he’d at least take advantage of it. “Where is this thing’s weapon? It’s got to be one big ass Buss.”
“The MOUNT doesn’t have a conventional gun like that,” Gold replied as he walked to the side of the war machine. “It is equipped with a 10mm dual forearm cannon,” he pointed at the ports. “Ammo canisters are loaded and ejected from here,” he pointed at open ports on the side of the armor. “It frees up the MOUNTs hands for other mission specific priorities.”
“So…no gun,” the idea was alien and idiotic to Coop.
“No gun,” Gold shook his head, and then grinned. “But it does have these,” he led everyone around back where two giant cannons were sitting on the ground waiting to be attached.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” Coop said a little too loud and Gold laughed.
“The one on the right is a graviton cannon, similar to what the mech’s you’ve encountered employ, but this one is bigger and stronger. Then there’s this baby,” Gold pointed as the second cannon. It looked terrifyingly fragile compared to the thick, cylindrical graviton cannon next to it. It was made of thinner metal that was formed into a helix shape. It was longer than the other cannon, but funneled down to a comically small opening.
“This is a next generation magnetic accelerator. It’s an alien design that we are merging with our own tech, and its primary function is to fire these.”
A squad of corpies in full armor and heavily armed appeared. They were on high alert, with their heads on a swivel. In between them floating a grav-cart with a single shell sitting at the center. The shell was made of a dark metal, so black it seemed to pull at the light around it, but amongst the black metal were veins of pulsing white lights. It reminded Coop of the ying and yang symbol a bit, but much more organic looking.
“This is a shield buster,” Gold didn’t even dare touch the shell when it came to a stop next to him. “I was able to acquire this from some recent Hegemonic contacts. Our best scientists haven’t been able to find out what it is made of or what it does, but I’ve viewed the shell in action before on an alien world.” A slight shiver coursed through Gold’s body. “One of these will disrupt and drop any shield. I’m talking an assault carrier, a PDC defense shield, or the few planet shields we’ve invested tens of trillions in that are now useless,” he laughed at his poor investment. “Whatever this shell is made of, it gets through, disrupts and makes it so they can’t get back up.”
“That’s a pretty sick super weapon. How many we got?” Bill asked from the back.
“Three per MOUNT. We can do a lot of damage with that,” Coop said.
“No,” Gold shook his head. “Three in the entire Commonwealth.”
“Well shit,” Coop grunted. There was no way in hell anyone was going to give him one of those.