Please Let Me Shoot Something
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: Firing Range, USS Arcadia
Timeline: MD 1 (March 3, 2393)
This a long overdue JP and the delay is entirely my fault. I apologize to all involved. - Roger
The range was bustling with activity. The entire Marine complement was rotating through for their quarterly qualifications. The scene itself was one of controlled chaos. The air smelled of burnt ozone from the repeated phaser fire. Some of the Marines joked with each other, teasing or boasting about how well or poorly their battle buddies were faring.
George entered the range quietly, carrying his sniper rifle in its long hard case. After signing in with the Range Boss, he moved down to the far end of the range, to the lane set aside for long gun operators, such as himself. After he set his rifle case down on the low table, set at the rear of the lane, he opened the lid and started to assemble his rifle. It was the standard T-116, though it had been modified by George himself. The obvious changes were that a high powered scope had been added, as had a bipod at the end of the long barrel. The weapon was also camouflaged to blend into a woodland setting.
After the rifle was assembled, George lowered himself down into the prone position, lining his scope up with the target that was placed at a simulated range of one thousand meters away. After making a few minor adjustments on his scope, he was finally happy with the sight picture. Reaching back into his left leg cargo pocket, he pulled out two items. One was a small PADD. The other was an ammunition magazine for his rifle. It wasn't a small energy battery pack, like phaser rifles used. This was much larger. It held five rounds of ballistic ammo. The rounds were the large and very powerful fifty caliber size.
He slid the magazine into its slot on the underside of the weapon. Then, after typing a few commands into his PADD, he took hold of his weapon, placed his right cheek tight to the buttstock, chambered a round into the chamber, sighted downrange through the scope, located his target, rotated the safety selector switch from safe to semi, steadied his breathing, and then slowly squeezed the trigger. The sounds of the rounds being fired were deafening. They quickly drowned out the various sounds of phaser fire with a booming, rhythmic report.
After the last round was fired, George made sure his weapon was clear, put it back on safe, and then ejected the empty magazine. He calmly placed the magazine down next to his PADD, then reached back into his cargo pocket and pulled out the other magazine he was carrying. With a deadly calm, he repeated the process of readying his weapon, then began firing again, oblivious that many of the young Marines had stopped what they were doing and were watching him instead. Many of them had never seen a T-116, let alone hear it fire.
Korra would never make light of the horrors of war, but if not for the savagery of the Dominion War, fighter pilots like herself would still be carrying a standard issue Type II hand phaser as their side arms, and she hated Type IIs: they were neither powerful nor particularly long lasting under intensive combat conditions. But the brutal experience of fighting the Jem'Hadar and later the Breen convinced Starfleet of the necessity of arming its fighter pilots with heavier and more effective side arms so that in the event they were shot down inside enemy territories they could better defend themselves as they awaited rescue.
That necessity gave birth to the Fleet Personnel Defense Weapon, a compact side arm much smaller than a phaser rifle and far more powerful than a Type II. Even better, the latest Mark IV models came with a ballistic variant for situations where phasers were rendered useless by natural or artificial means such as dampening fields.
And it was love at first sight the moment she laid her eyes on her very own Fleet issued PW-324B, and as soon as she had emptied her first magazine, she knew they would be inseparable, and they had been ever since. Of course, during peaceful times such as the one they were in now, there were very few opportunities to actually use it in real combat, so the firing range would have to do, and she had never missed a practice session. Today was no exception.
Korra had just stepped into the firing range with her sidearm firmly secured in the holster on her right thigh when a series of deafening gun shots grabbed her attention. Compared to her much faster firing PW-324B, those shot were slower, but more deliberate, most likely from a sniper rifle. Turning on the acoustic dampeners in her ears, she followed the sound of the gun shots to the end of the lane and found the same Marine corporal she had met at the gym a few nights before. She let him finish his rounds before glancing over at the score board display. "Nice shots."
After George emptied the second magazine, he repeated the process of putting his weapon on safe. Once that was done, he rose up onto his knees, picking up his PADD as he did so. After typing a few commands, he watched the technical replay of his shots, looking to see if there was anything he was deficient in. Aside from a minor elevation issue, which was from breathing, he was satisfied to see that his current shooting skill was strongly in the top one percentile of the entire Corps. He was not arrogant enough to think he would ever reach the top slot, however, that would not stop him from attempting to achieve it.
Hitting another command on his PADD, he was rewarded with a box of ammunition materializing on the deck next to where his currently empty magazines were laying. Lowering himself back down, he reached out, picked up one of the magazines, then opened the lid to the ammo box, and started to remove the powerful rounds from the box, and load them into the magazine. The soft clicking sound of metal moving against metal was barely audible. The background sounds of phaser shots, mixed with the barking orders of squad leaders and platoon sergeants started to fill the range again.
Instead of heading to her own assigned firing station, Korra waited patiently for the corporal to finish his round. She didn't mind that the man hadn't noticed her presence. She knew how easy it was to get lost in doing something you loved. Besides, she really wanted to give that sweet sniper rifle a try. Technically she wasn't certified to use high powered sniper rifles, but hopefully the other Marine wouldn't mind bending protocols a little and let her try it anyway.
As George finished reloading both magazines, he felt someone watching him close by. Glancing over his right shoulder, he saw that it was the attractive pilot he had met the other night in the gym. "Captain," he said, nodding his head in respect, as the range was one of the few places that was considered a salute-free zone.
Korra nodded in kind. "That's some sweet rifle you got there, Corporal, though the scope doesn't look like standard issue. Custom?"
Glancing back at his weapon, George nodded slightly as he replied. "Yes, Ma'am. It has a few more optic options than the standard zoom scope. Along with the normal optics that can be scoped out to nearly two kilometers, I have the ability to see in thermal, low light and infrared settings." He stood up, picking the rifle up as he did so. He then ensured the rifle was safe. Afterwards, he gestured for Korra to take a look if she'd like to. "I've done a few more minor modifications as well. I adjusted the trigger pull to better suit my shooting style, I've reduced the weight of the rifle by a few grams by using a lighter metal for the barrel. Unfortunately, while it does make it easier to move on the battlefield, I now have to replace the entire barrel assembly every thousand shots or so."
At this point, Sean walked into the range. He noticed a Marine Captain speaking to one of his corporals, from the records he'd perused, his top sniper. Only Sean had more experience with the TR-116 than this guy. But Sean was out of that game now. He waited patiently for the conversation to end.
Korra noticed the other Marine. Turning, she recognized him from the files. She hadn't spoken to him personally partly because she and her squadron were technically from a different department and the hanger bays were quite a few decks away from the Marine barrack.
"Lieutenant Riley, Korra Ymir, I'm with the fighter squadron. I have to say, your snipers have some really nice toys."
"Indeed we do, ma'am. Nice and deadly, in the right hands. " said Sean.
George saw his commanding officer, and snapped to attention. "Sir!"
"At ease, Corporal. We're on the range. No need to stand on ceremony here. Besides, from one sniper to another, once we're in the field all that goes out the window. " said Sean.
"Speaking of informality," Korra smiled. "Do you guys mind if I give that rifle a try?"
"I don't see a problem with it," said Sean. Though technically he shouldn't allow it, he was a weapons nut himself, and took every opportunity to try something new.
Following his commanding officer's agreement, George stepped aside to allow Korra room to step up to his rifle.
Korra detached her PW-324B from its holster and left it on the weapons bench. She then lied down behind the customized T-116 and waited for instructions. She was good at what she did - heck, she might even be one of the best fighter pilots in the Corps - but as much as she hated to admit it, sniper rifles were not exactly her forte, and she had no intention of making a fool of herself in front of the other Marines, so she waited patiently.
George watched Korra lower herself down towards his rifle. He couldn't help but steal a glance at her firm bottom. She definitely looked good in her uniform. A part of him started to think about how she would look out of it.
Quickly shaking himself out of the daydream, George cleared his throat, trying to act normally. "Okay, Ma'am. Allow me to introduce you to the SFMC T-116 sniper rifle. While there are several dozen of them throughout the fleet, this one is special. Her name is Maria, and she and I have been together for a long time now."
Sean chuckled. Snipers tended to name their weapons. His own T-116 was named "Annabelle" after his aunt, a kind woman who had taken care of him for a time while his parents were away. He noticed George checking Korra out, but decided to say nothing. Who wouldn't look at the Captain? She was gorgeous and fitted her uniform quite nicely.
Korra noticed the goggling, but she was too enthralled by the beauty that was Maria to care. The funny thing was, when she was little, she had been that chubby kid in class who couldn't climb a pole if her life depended on it. At best, no one paid attention to her; at worst, she was teased and bullied.
That was until one day they had a new transfer student named Oliver, who decided he wanted to be friends with the least popular kid in school, and just like that, all the teasing stopped - there were benefits to being the best friend of the most popular kid in school. But she could not forget the humiliation, no, she could not, so she decided to do something about it, and the rest, as the cliche went, was history.
George knelt down on Korra's right, the rifle in between them. He then reached down and pointed to the various parts of the rifle, identifying them and stating their purpose. "First off, as you can see, the trigger is a standard pull-style. This is because the rifle fires bullets and not energy beams. I have adjusted the pull to only require about half a pound of pressure, so be careful when you are ready to fire. Here is the safety selector switch. With it, you can switch the weapon from safe to semi. Semi means, semiautomatic. Only one bullet will fire per trigger pull. Here is your charging handle. After you load the magazine, you would pull this handle back, then push it forward. That loads a round into the chamber." A few moments later, after describing the rifle, he asked if she had any questions so far.
"Only one, Corporal," the pilot smirked, "can I start shooting something yet?"
George grinned easily. "Patience, Ma'am. First thing ww have to do is get you a target and some rounds." He reached down and grabbed his PADD and tapped in a few commands. An instant later, two loaded magazines materialized next to Korra's left elbow. "When you're ready, Ma'am, go ahead and secure one of those magazines. Then insert it into the loading port on the underside of the rifle. Then go ahead and charge the weapon. However, do not touch the safety selector switch yet."
Korra did as instructed and loaded one of the magazines into the underside of the rifle - the solid click that registered when the magazine was inserted was surprisingly satisfying. Then she pulled back the charging handle before slamming it back forward, loading the first round into the chamber. As she waited for further instruction from George, she glanced up at his platoon commander, "So Lieutenant, according to the scuttlebutt, you are . . . half Klingon? What's with that?"
Riley chuckled. "No ma'am. I was practically raised Klingon, though. My father was stationed on Qo'nos for years with the Marine Guard Detachment there. My mom was with the Diplomatic Staff as a volunteer, so I spent a lot of time with a friend of my dad's from the Klingon Defense Forces. I was raised alongside his sons. " said Riley.
George waited quietly, while the two officers spoke. He found it interesting that Riley had been raised on Qo'nos. It was one of the worlds that he had always wanted to visit. He would have to ask the lieutenant about it later.
Impressed, Korra nodded. "Now that's something you don't hear every day. You will have to tell me more about it over drink later, Lieutenant."
Turning her attention back to the other Marine, Korra said with noticeable impatience and excitement in her voice, "Tell me I can finally shoot something, Corporal."
George smiled slightly. "Yes, Ma'am. If you have your target sighted, when you're ready, rotate you safety selector switch from safe to semi, and fire at will."
A grin crept onto her lips as Korra switched the safety selector to semi.
For then next hour, Charles instructed Korra on the finer points of operating his sniper rifle. During that tine, his mindset towards her began to change. He knew she was attractive and smart, however, he started to gain more respect for her. At no point did she treat him like he was beneath her. In fact, her attitude towards him seemed almost as if they were near equals.
During the time, Sean moved off and began to inspect the rest of his Marines. He had a meeting later with Captain Jackson to go over the operations of the company.
Captain Korra Ymir
Squadron Leader VMFA-31
(NPC - Oliver/Roger)
1st Lieutenant Sean Riley
4th Platoon Commander
Corporal George Charles
(PNPC - Werner/Bill)