Mark “Coop” Cooper
Location: Stewart-Benning Training Center, Earth, United Commonwealth of Colonies
“How do I look?”
Coop stopped what he was doing and paid attention. Whenever a girl asked how they looked the question usually had deeper meaning than that.
<Hot…Fantastic…I want to rip off that uniform and fuck your brains out…> Were a few of the responses that went through his mind.
To say any of that would be shooting himself in the foot and then inserting said foot into his own ass. Eve knew she was hot, she knew he’d do just about anything to get into her pants, and him bluntly stating that was only going to hurt his chances. Plus, a uniform inspection wasn’t about how good someone’s ass looked in the Dress CMUs. It was about making sure they were properly presentable.
Luckily, the CMUs were automated in displaying everything from your personnel file; so there was no reason to believe any awards were wrong or worn on the uniform incorrectly. But regulation still demanded a visual inspection by a human being. Malfunctions weren’t unheard of, and a whole unit being jacked up was not something the people in charge wanted to see. That meant they were going to do buddy checks, a squad look over, and finally a company level inspection.
“Let me see.” He pulled out the ruler she’d given him and started measuring.
Being fresh recruits not even out of basic training, there wasn’t a lot to measure. There was only one nametape in the “Dress” setting on the CMUs and it was the recruit’s name was on the right breast. Coop measured the distance to make sure the CMU was configured correctly. He practically held his breath as he draped the ruler over the perky bulge of Eve’s right breast. She stood perfectly still, with an unreadable expression, during all of it.
Next, Coop moved to the left breast. The left breast was where the awards went. Every soldier he’d seen so far had a number of the multicolored ribbons or medals. But they were just lowly, insignificant recruits. Eve only had two awards.
The first was a red and yellow ribbon, which Coop measured to make sure it was correctly placed. The small bit of electronically-displayed fabric was the Commonwealth Defense Ribbon; simply referred to as the CDR. Every recruit in Echo Company and at the training center had the CDR. It was an award given to anyone who joined the Commonwealth Armed Forces.
Grazing the left breast was just as exhilarating as the right one, but Coop kept the emotion off his face.
<This is the most action I’ve gotten in months.> Coop tried not to think about it.
Anyone doing the spot check on the female recruits was probably feeling the same way. After the incident with Harper, there had been a noticeable downturn in flings between recruits; which led to a lot of late night masturbating and/or blue balls.
The CDR placement was good, so he moved onto the second award. Eve had received the award early last week. It was a silver badge. The top of the badge consisted of a thin bar with the word “SHARPSHOOTER” written across it. Below the bar, connected by a single link, was a cross with a circular target at the center.
The CDR might be on everyone, but Eve was the only on in the company with this qualification badge. She’d shot eighty-six out of one hundred targets on her first try.
<And she’d even been disappointed about it.> Coop still marveled at how at home she looked with an M3 stuck into her shoulder.
“It all looks good.” Coop finished the inspection.
They didn’t have rank insignia on their shoulders or branch of service insignia’s on their collars to worry about.
“You look great,” he added, not able to contain himself.
Eve smiled for a split second before she seemed to get control of herself. “Your turn.” She snatched the ruler from his hand and started measuring.
If she got turned on from feeling his pecks; which he personally thought had grown and sculpted impressively since joining the military, she didn’t show it. Coop had the same CDR as everyone else, but he also had his own qualification badge. He wasn’t in the same category as Eve. The bar above his cross read “MARKSMAN” and it was just a plain cross. You had to shoot at least eighty-five out of a hundred to get the bullseye. Coop had hit seventy-five, the minimum number to qualify and get a badge.
He was sure it wasn’t great by the rest of the military’s standards, but for a first try it wasn’t half-bad; especially when only twelve people in the entire company qualified at all.
“You’re good.” Eve finished up the measurements. “And you clean up pretty good.” There was a slight blush, but it vanished before Coop could even compute what it was. “Make sure those shoes and that badge are gleaming.” Eve’s tone shifted back to her squad leader voice. “I better be able to eat chow off that thing.”
The other obvious difference in the Dress CMUs was the shoes. Usually people wore boots with their uniform, but in Dress mode, when you were going to something fancy, there were shiny black dress-shoes that needed to be worn.
The shoes came pre-shined, but everyone from SSG Cunningham down to Eve said that shine wasn’t good enough. Out of nowhere Eve produced an aerosol nano-spray.
“Spray and buff,” she ordered.
Now, Coop was pretty sure his shoes reflectiveness could deflect a terawatt laser.
“Second squad, fall in.” Eve called.
Second squad hurried into position so that Eve could do a walk-through. Harper’s uniform needed a little work, but other than that the squad was looking good. But only Eve and Coop had the qualification badges.
The hiss of the door opening announced the arrival of their company inspector. “Fall in outside. Ya look like a bunch of bum-fuck hobos!” PO3 Janney roared, his voice physically propelling them past him and out the door.
Coop saw the beauty of the nano-spray when they hit the dirt outside the barracks. The spray repelled the dirt that was being thrown into the air by the sixty-eight recruits.
The new training had already claimed another five recruits with various injuries. All were being recycled to later classes after they healed up. All except one.
And that recruit was the reason for their first experience in the CMU dress uniforms. SSG Cunningham’s promotion ceremony was the second.
Dust was kicked into the air as company after company marched into the battalion assembly area. Coop had to resist looking around. Echo Company was the fifth of the 132nd’s ten training companies. Alpha, the company farthest to the right, was considerably smaller than the rest. In fact, the formations got larger the farther to the left you went. Juliet Company, the tenth and final company, looked to have all one hundred recruits still present.
They formed a large line across the assembly area. That line faced a raised stage with a podium. Several people stood on that stage. A few had officer’s stripes, and those that didn’t had nothing less than a Gunnery Sergeant rank on their shoulders.
The left side of their chests gleamed with ribbon and medals, whereas Coop and the rest of Echo Company had nothing but the CDR. Coop had heard rumors they were heading to the range soon to qualify, but he didn’t dare ask anyone.
Everyone in the large courtyard, not too far from where they been assigned their M3s and Dragonscale armor, was utterly silent. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on the platform.
Coop recognized the tired looking man that stepped to the podium as Lieutenant Commander Shepherd, their Battalion Commander.
“Recruits,” the LCDR’s artificially enhanced voice echoed through the area. “Thank you for taking time out of your busy training schedules to be here today. Because today we are all here to witness something at the heart of our profession: accountability.” The single word seemed to stab everyone present in the gut. “We as soldiers or spacers are accountable to our battle buddies, our NCOs, our officers, and the citizens of the Commonwealth we have sworn to protect. When that trust is broken, when our responsibilities are violated, then we must be held accountable.” He stepped away from the podium, but everyone still heard his next statement.
“Bring out the prisoner.”
Coop rarely felt shame. It was practically a foreign concept to him. But when Davenport was walked out onto that platform in chains, Coop felt a deep embarrassment.
<We allowed it. We allowed the fucktard to do that to Harper.> It didn’t matter that Davenport had knocked out John and Olivia while Coop and Eve had slept. It didn’t matter that once they were awake Coop and Eve had taken swift, debilitating action. All that Coop remembered was the sight of Harper on the ground, in the fetal position, violated and crying her eyes out.
The woman who stood only a few spots down from him in formation was doing better, but she was still a shadow of her old, bubbly self. And that hurt.
“Recruit Andrew Davenport, you have been found guilty of an article one-twenty violation: Rape and Carnal Knowledge. You intentionally committed an act of sexual intercourse with an unwilling recruit, by force and without consent. By doing so, you have displayed conduct unbecoming a soldier or spacer in the Commonwealth Armed forces. You are hereby sentenced, by a court of your superiors, to death by firing squad.”
There was an audible gasp by just about everyone in the battalion formation, but not Coop. He’d seen Rats in the PHA put to death for much less. In fact, he was glad they were killing Davenport. The world would be a better place without that piece of shit.
Whatever fight Davenport had left was long gone. He didn’t even have to be pushed or dragged to the metal post sticking out of the ground. His arms were lifted above his head and attached to a simple ring.
Coop saw that his old squad mate looked sad, but he really didn’t give a shit.
Five men with M3’s and in a light kit marched out from behind the podium. The made a precise column left about twenty-five meters from Davenport and halted when the prisoner was at the center of their formation.
Someone else was at the podium now, but Coop wasn’t listening. The new officer’s first few words reminded Coop too much of his court-appointed attorney back in the PHA. He had no intention of listening to lawyers right now. He kept his eyes fixed on Davenport.
The execution itself was quick. A simple “Ready…Aim…Fire!” The needle-like rounds from the M3 tore huge chunks out of the unarmored criminal; including about seventy-five percent of his skull. One of his arms was completely torn off so what was left of him hung limp from the still intact arm attached to the overhead ring.
Coop watched the execution without emotion. This wasn’t the first time he’d seen death. Judging by the shocked expressions, occasional sob, and gasping coming from the majority of the recruits this was their first experience.
Eve didn’t flinch and neither did Mike or a dozen other Recruits in Echo Company.
<Better they figure it out now than later.> Coop thought as the NCOs started to get their formations back to their training. <That cozy little suburban bubble they grew up in is gone. Human life doesn’t mean as much as it used to.>