Heart and Soul
Location: USS Hera, Deck 11, The Armory
"It's time to introduce you to what you signed on for, Ensign Tanaak Sado."
With those enigmatic words, the turbolift arrived and the feisty First Officer stepped inside, turning in a casual about-face to confirm Sado was in the car. Looking to the overhead, the commander called out, "Deck eleven, please- the Armory."
While it had been Commander Paris' intention that this all be covered immediately after the new officer's on boarding, circumstances and the emergency mission to Galorndan core forced this all to be put on the back burner for a few days. But with the immediate threat passed, the new member of the Hera crew could be properly introduced to their duties.
"You're trained as a combat medic. In modern Starfleet, I imagine that means you're quite adaptable to unique terrain situations and somewhat prepared for the unexpected?" Paris asked, even as the doors opened and she strode out, the flow of conversation not particularly pausing for the activity. It was clear the Commander was the 'walk and talk' type.
"Yes, Commander," the eager Ensign replied. "I've trained to work in high and low temperatures, high and low gravity, as well as otherwise inhospitable, radioactive, and toxic atmospheres." This brought back a couple of memories from the Academy. First, of the modified helmets he had to wear in most of those training situations. He'd been put in older, squarer models to accommodate his horns. The second memory was of his aquatic training. The radioactive pools of his home world had not given rise to the sport of swimming, and Tanaak had been so delighted by his exposure to the Academy's pools that he returned most mornings thereafter for laps.
"As for the unexpected, I think the right attitude is what constitutes preparedness. One of the things I like so much about Starfleet is that shared attitude of readiness to greet the unknown." He'd met a lot of people at the Academy, one or two who might even have considered him a friend, and they were as diverse a group as he could have imagined. There was one thing they all had in common, though, and that was a sort of alertness and daring he'd come to associate with Starfleet, and admire about everyone he seemed to meet.
"Ahhh, I do love that idealism, Ensign Sado. Try to never lose that, if you please. Consider it a standing order while you are on the Hera," the curvaceous commander tended to march, essentially, when she moved about the starship. There was nothing sexual about her locomotion, save the bouncing line of the front of her uniform and the rustle of the overlaid panel skirt. As they turned into the wide blast doors where two beefy Security officers in gold nodded in recognition, Paris held a finger up in the air and twirled it about.
"This is the armory, of course. Which you may note from all the nods and waves, that is under the bailiwick of Security, of which I am the head. This is not only where you come for armaments, this is also where you get fitted for your EVA armor, which is going to be something of a necessity. Do I assume you have a preference for helmet fit when it comes to your horns?" the commander mentioned it casually as they passed the firing ranges and martial arts and weapons training facilities.
There were an awful lot of women in gold, Tanaak realized. Catching the eye of the male Andorian lieutenant, he saw the distinction set that marked the officer as the Master At Arms for the ship. In a department of mostly females, the blue-skinned soldier stood out.
"Alright, Mr. Sado. I assume you've been fitted for an EVA suit before? Starfleet's come a long ways since those clunky silver suits," Paris asked as they continued deeper into the armory.
"Ah, the helmet... When I was fitted for a suit at the Academy, they tried me in an older model of helmet to save resources, but I was shown how it would be made when I would have my own." As they walked, Tanaak described how a standard design EVA helmet would be produced with the sides cut away, how a holoscan would be done of his horns, how sheaths would be replicated using the exoskeleton material, and how these would seal to the sides of the helmet. "I suppose it's almost like gilding," Tanaak said as he finished his description. "Back home, some men and women who have horns gild them with precious metals and have things like their ancestors' names inscribed." He smiled, remembering tracing the names on his partner's horns with his fingertips. Then he blinked and returned his attention to the Commander. "I promise not to inscribe anything on my equipment," he said seriously.
"My armor is gold, and bears the Starfleet delta of my day, Mr. Sado. This despite it not being an accurate Starfleet insignia, as well as the fact that our EVA armors are traditionally just black and white. And as a flag officer I should be wearing red to identify myself as command. So customization is not as frowned upon as you might image, Ensign," Paris replied with a smile. "Now go stand on the sensor pad and let's get you fully scanned, then we can wrestle with the dilemma of your horns, hm?"
"You need any assistance with that commander?" Thav asked having just finished replicating a cache of stun grenades and signing out several phaser rifles to the security teams heading out across the ship.
"I think we've got it, Lieutenant, but you're welcome to help. Mr. Th'ovohrot, this is Ensign Sado, our new combat medic, who doesn't know it yet, but he'll be following me into combat should the need arise. Mr. Sado, this is our Master-At-Arms, Lieutenant Th'ovohrot," the cheerful commander offered introductions. "He's entirely likely to be right there alongside us, again, should the need arise."
Ensign Sado offered a simple salute and grinned at the Lieutenant. He had been somewhat fascinated by the Andorians at the Academy and their resemblance to godlike creatures of myth from his own culture. "It's a pleasure, Lieutenant," he said warmly, then turned his attention to the pad. He stepped into the center and turned to face the Commander, catching her entering some information on a nearby screen. He was at first tempted to remain as still as possible, then considered that he was being measured for armor and not having an operation. He filled his lungs with air, which puffed him up even more than usual, then clenched his fists a few times as he exhaled.
"Speaking of combat," Tanaak piped up as his body was scanned, "Will I be carrying a rifle when I follow you into the fray? I may be a medic, but I'm still a soldier. I can defend myself and others if need be."
"I leave that as a personal choice, Mister Sado," the first officer replied honestly. "I'd not make the decision for a sentient to arm themselves. However, given your statement, I'll be happy to cover arms as well as armament in this briefing. There we are- give the replicator a moment here to spit out your pressure suit, and that's the core of the suit, and the part that we have to insure has a good fit. It should be coming up in that replicator over there, and there are privacy screens if you're an old-fashioned prude like me." Paris grinned at her own joke, although he got the feeling there was an element of truth to it- while the woman was definitely built like a sexpot, she comported herself in a manner consistent with what one would expect from a senior command level officer.
In short, while she joked, he could easily imagine that she was a bit old-fashioned, in more ways than one. A band of starship grey metal on the third finger of her left hand confirmed it- a traditionalist.
Tanaak had never really understood that word, prude. The use of it seemed old-fashioned in and of itself, and he suspected the Commander was the only person who could get away with calling herself one. Still, he took the joke into consideration when he decided to change behind the screen. He wasn't exactly modest, but he was thoughtful.
"Honestly, I've never liked firearms," the giant admitted as he took the pressure suit and stepped out of sight, "But I don't have a personal code against them." He could change in and out of uniform in a flash, and while it wasn't his first time changing into a suit like this, he wasn't quite as quick at it. It wasn't difficult, it slid on from the feet up with remarkable ease, his movements just weren't as practiced. "I'd think I'd like to be as well equipped as anyone else on my team. I believe my distaste for firearms should inform my restraint with them, but not force others to protect me when I could protect myself." He had a little trouble with the suit accommodating his wide chest until it settled properly around his shoulders, finally fitting as intended: like a glove.
"I'll show you the options and we can make decisions from there," the Commander explained. "A phaser can be a tool- it excites molecules and breaks down cellular bonds. Most firearms are sole purpose- destruction. But you'll find our firearms are rather exotic and versatile. Better to know their capabilities and be prepared than not."
As he stepped around the privacy screen, the Commander picked up a hand-held tricorder from one of the benches and scanned the suit. "Pressure suit shows no defects or disruptions, so we're good to go there. Alright, the replicator should start spitting out the various plates for the EVA armor as it starts construction on the upper body hardshell. Did you choose a helmet design? Ah, I see you didn. good... looks like the systems will be able to accomodate it, excellent. Wasn't sure if the helmet functions to retract and armor would still work around your horns,m but it looks like the system has adapted handily, so let's get those additional hardpoints strapped on. I tend to start at the bottom and work my way up- boots, greaves, knees, thighs, groin. Then the breastplate, pauldrons and backplate all snap on as one piece over here. So get started on that and let's get you fitted and secure that we've got your EVA armor ready."
Tanaak crossed the room to accept the plating as the replicator constructed it. He was rather a sight in the form-fitting base layer of armor. He was fit, but not lean. Everything about his build was thick, from his neck that sloped generously outward towards his shoulders (that were more than a third as wide as he was tall) to his almost femininely prominent hips and his tree-trunk thighs. He didn't seem self-conscious, though. If there was awkwardness in his stance, it was more a reflection of his personality than his comfort in his own skin.
He picked up the boots and leaned forward at the waist to put them on. "I am actually quite fond of the Federation's katanas. Back home, fighting with melee weaponry is done for sport. Usually, we fight with small pillars, not swords, but..." He trailed off and began strapping on his greaves. "Guns, however, have always symbolized something ugly on my world, something like destruction, as you said." He could have been more specific. He could have brought up intimidation, suppression, and inequality, but he was thankful to be in a more hopeful place, and didn't want to sour the atmosphere. He strapped on the knee plates, taking a moment to puzzle over whether they were identical or which one went on which knee, then started on the thigh pieces. "Still, I am happy to arm myself in any way that improves the safety of others."
"We'll investigate the options. A katana is a bit small for a sentient your size, unless we scale it up a bit for you, or you plan to wield one in each hand?" Paris asked, having produced a tablet from somewhere that she was currently tapping at busily.
" There is the andorian Hrisal if you're looking for an alternative. " the master at arms added. " We have a few collapsable ones in the armory."
Tanaak's eyes lit up at the suggestion of an Andorian weapon. "I'd need to familiarize myself with it, but I'd be honored to wield a Hrisal." He'd seen the scimitar-like blade on display and in vids, and knew his training with other weapons would help him adapt to it easily with a little practice. He snapped the last of the lower body armor plating into place and began looking for the upper body armor. "It sounds like there will be more creative ways of arming myself I expected," he mused with a grin.
"Over here, Ensign. It's a clamshell, see?" Patris swung the rack holding the open breastplate that was hinged at the shoulder over to bring it down to h You lower it down, snap it down, then release the catch it on these magnetic points here, here and here, and it releases. And you know where the points buckle, so I'll let you get situated there. Once we check for manufacturing defects, we'll do an atmospheric test, and you can customize as you like. many of the wrist, calf and belt accessories as well as back storage are up to you, and I encourage everyone to customize their suit. It's an exploration survival suit, after all, and it needs to be able to serve you in a number of capacities. Which includes more than just weaponry... although a hunting knife is a multifunction tool, is it not?"
"With enough creativity, anything is a multifunction tool," Tanaak said with a smile, positioning himself under the rack and pulling the breastplate closed over him. "I had a classmate who passed a practical exam by using a surgical mask and a paperclip when her equipment malfunctioned." He checked the fit of the pauldrons as he released the catches and stepped free of the magnetic hold. He knew he was fortunate to have come from a world where his size was not unusual and directly into one where clothing and armor were customizable. He took a moment to fasten his buckles and double-check that he hadn't missed any.
"I'll take as many extra straps and pouches as possible for a tricorder and medical equipment. Kelotane, adrenaline, morathial... painkillers for when all else fails." Having secured his armor, Sado stood tall with his hands on his hips, ready to check and test it.
"We can secure all of that, of course, and you are welcome to customize accessories as you see fit. Alright, let's get the arms and gauntlets secured, bring up the helmet and test the seal, then let's try a little field test, shall we?" It seemed Paris wasn't planning to suit up herself, as she'd made no overtures in that direction. But clearly she had plans in mind as she walked the new onboarding officer through his paces.
Tanaak was delighted to see that the replicator had finished his three piece helmet. He moved to pick it up and slide the main piece over his head. It gently flattened his short mane as he secured it to his armor. Then he picked up the side pieces, molded after his own horns. He'd not practiced this before, and it took him nearly a minute to get the first one on the right way around. The second sheathe went on a bit easier, and the Ensign adjusted the helmet until the side pieces clicked into place and formed a seal. He'd have to remember to put the sides on first next time.
"Ready for me to test the power supply?" the seven foot soldier asked. He couldn't help but run a his gloved hand along the curve of his armored horn before he lowered it again to rest over the switch on his chest. He could feel his heart beating a little quickly with excitement and anticipation.
"The HUD is reactive, even in powered off mode, so feel free, bring it online," the comely commander directed as she ticked off some of the capabilities of the Mark 19 EVA armor. "Full tricorder sensory capabilities, holographic heads up on your visor as well as the interior surface of the helmet. Strength augmentation up to a factor of three, but it's a slow drain on the battery. Optimal operating window of forty hours, solar recharging capability as well as various input ports. A rather impressive onboard computer that can most certainly hold any relevant data you like- I know quite a few of the crew are fond of musical accompaniment while they are doing field work, and the memory systems in there could store the musical library of your planet's history. At least I assume so- it can hold my planet's musical history and it's a surprisingly small allotment of the data storage capacity."
Thav, seeing how things were going, had disappeared into the armory's storage room to collect the necessary weight pads to help adjust Sado's armor to carrying the necessary medical gear he'd be needing on any missions. He knew where they were stored so it wasn't long before with them in hand he was making his way back feeling his quad's hair on his Shapla as he did. He was......
The bang even shook the andorian master at arms as he wheeled around to see what had happened. His blue eyes stood in shock at what it had come from. The heavy security case Thex kept the armor of Achilles in when she wasn't wearing it had moved from its place. Great, as if we had enough to worry about in this weird pit, he thought as he shoved it back into its place before raising the heaviest shields the armory had.
Sending a quick message to engineering to inform his sh'za he hurried back to the commander and the ensign.
Tanaak's HUD showed green across the board and he flexed his arms as he looked over the icons and indicators. He'd had this simulated for him, but he'd never had a helmet that fit his horns before. It was a proud moment for him, wearing equipment that would be entirely his. He knew it would take a minute for him to get used to the gloves and wondered what music he'd want to use the helmet to play. Probably something soothing, maybe some of the metal he'd grown fond of at the Academy.
"About that field test--" Tanaak began, but turned abruptly when he heard a sound from the area the master at arms had disappeared into. His instincts drove him forward a step and a half before he stopped himself. There didn't seem to be an emergency, and he would rather not run off into the depths of the armory on his first visit. He glanced at the Commander.
"Not a crisis or we'd have heard the shouting. Alright, Mr. Sado, would you like to take her out in a field test and get a feel for what the job you've signed on for can be at times?" While she wasn't speaking in absolutes, it was clear the curvaceous commander seemed to be preparing the combat medic for duties that might just be a bit above and beyond what he'd been prepared for at the Academy.
Tanaak turned to fully face her and nodded. Timid as he could be at times, the excitement of his new armor and the promise of a challenge had his adrenaline flowing. The Ensign had two frequently used smiles: one, a slight grin that crinkled the corners of his eyes with warmth; the other, and what appeared on his face now, a wide crack in his face that showed off too many of his teeth. It was the smile that he met adventure with. "Let's see what you've got for me, Commander."
A broad grin spread across the face of the curvaceous commander as she eyed the new recruit, nodding with satisfaction before calling out in a clear, strong voice of command, without ever breaking eye contact. "Alright Ensign. Chief Yeager, please load up Meroset 347 scenario 7B, urban combat in Herapolis. Which means, of course, you'll need a weapon. So let's get you introduced, shall we Ensign?"
As she spoke, Master At Arms Th'pvhrot returned with a rather large and bulky rifle cradled in his arms, along with a standard Type 3 phaser rifle, and a phaser that looked like an antique from the same era as the Commander's uniform. Sleek, dark blue and black, it looked like a pistol, rather than the modern 'dustbuster' phaser. Taking the rifle from the Andorian master at arms, Paris hefted it with a grunt- clearly the weapon was surprisingly heavier than it looked.
"The TR-116C2 rifle, slung for a right hander," Rita shifted the weapon in her grip. "The model C was redesigned for more efficient operation against Borg and similar targets as the TR-116, using a magazine filled with dense replicator matter to feed a micro-replication system to create a string of 2.2mm tritanium bullets and varied ammunition types as needed. Thus why it's so heavy, coming in around 22 and a half kilos. The normal capacity of the replicator matter magazine is 80-120 rounds depending on settings. Normal ball point, hollow point, incendiary, delayed tracer rounds, and marker rounds are the most commonly programmed ammunition types. Only single fire and three round burst are enabled on this model without modification."
"The gyrostatic stabilization system can be a bit buggy during high rates of fire, but is fairly consistent in keeping all 3 rounds on target as long as the operator waits a moment for it to resync between cycles. The main unit is powered by the same dual regenerative power supply used in the standard issue proton rifle. Along with this, it uses the targeting microcomputer from the same rifle. Because of the power supply, it still functions in environments in which normal phasers are useless, and has greater effectiveness against energy shielded targets. A transporter module and exographic targeting system can be attached for stealth sniper missions, but I tend to make that part of the normal loadout," Paris explained, indicating where the safety was as she explained the weapon.
"The MACO modified TR-116-C2 takes this technology to an even higher extreme, replacing the lower mechanical tube with a secondary 18mm barrel that can be used for more specialized ammunition," Paris explained as she demonstrated the underslung grenade launcher. "Common preprogrammed munitions are micro-airburst, smoke grenade, rubber, low yield plasma grenade, and tear gas. This reduces a magazine's rounds to 6-12 depending on the munition produced. It also adds a full auto option and a sturdier gyrostatic stabilization system to aid with consistent targeting. Questions so far?" Paris handed the rifle over to the large and imposing armored figure, who noted that even for his large and now armored fingers, the trigger guard was more than large enough to accommodate him. Whether this was a specialized build for him or by design, he was uncertain.
As soon as he took the weapon in hand, the smartlink activated, and a subwindow came up in his HUD, showing the weapon status, clearing him for use, and bringing the power supply, density of ammunition counter calculator and a targeting system that was offline but clearly available, with range finder and atmospheric conditions on display for the asking.
Tanaak's face grew hard as he examined the weapon. He inspected the magazine filled with dense replicator matter as well as the secondary barrel. He thumbed the safety, but left it on as he turned away from the others and raised the comfortably heavy rifle to his shoulder to focus on the back wall. He lowered it again and cycled through the pre-programmed options for ammo, familiarizing himself with the shorthand for each on his HUD. As somber as he was handling a thing of such power, he was also extremely impressed by its engineering... and ever so slightly excited by the incendiary ammo.
As he toggled from single fire to the three round burst option, he remembered an argument he'd entered into with a couple of young cadets at the Academy about which firing style was superior. To their great annoyance, Tanaak brought up statistics and z-scores for rate of fire, accuracy, reload time, and a few other factors. In the end, Tanaak came down on the side of the three round burst, an answer no one really liked. Tanaak spent the next week at the firing range improving his speed and accuracy with burst rifles just to prove that his numbers weren't wrong. Those rifles didn't have such advanced stabilization, either, thought Tanaak. I bet I could outdo myself with this if I wanted to.
He lifted the rifle to his shoulder again. "Just one question so far." More efficient against the Borg? Tear gas? "Is this standard issue equipment for all your officers?" Tanaak didn't regret where he was standing one bit, but the weapon in his hand suddenly felt much heavier.
"No, Mr. Sado, it is not," Paris replied solemnly. "Type 1, 2 and 3 phasers are standard issue, but you're already familiar with those. Although the Security forces seem quite fond of my old Type 2 replicas." With that said, Paris took a few steps over to a weapons rack panel, keyed in her code to open it, and when the panel slid aside, the produced a phaser looked perfectly at home in her hand, as it matched the era of the uniform she wore. "It has a pistol grip, classic black and bluye-grey styling, ten settings, beam adjustment, and it's remarkably easy to aim. While it looks like duotronics in action, the guts are all modern isolinear chips, and she'll perform as well as a modern phaser. It just fits in the hand better."
"The weapon you're carrying is a MACO weapon designed for heavy assault- warzones, urban assault, ground pounding combat that doesn't involve starships or support craft. because sometimes that happens, and sometimes we are called upon for it. When that moment comes, I'll be there. You, Mr. Sado, will be there if I am there, because I may very well need a medic on hand for civilians, or to keep me in one piece. So this is most certainly an element of your duties- one I genuinely hope we will never have to call upon you for, but a facet nonetheless." The old-fashioned officer's tome made it clear that she did not see war as a glorified exercise, but a last resort. With the regret in her tone and the restraint in her words, it was clear that she viewed this as a necessary evil- yet still her duty. Which she would uphold, and insure that her subordinate knew exactly what he was signing on for, with no evasions or sugar-coating.
"So... would you like to get a practical feel for the armor and the weapon?" the buxom bombardier asked the massive medic. "A few moments of practical exercise, to get a feel for the armor, the weapon, and working with me in the field?"
"I would. Very much." Tanaak deeply appreciated the gravity given to the Commander's answer, and again he thought of the Spirits idolized by his people. Compassion, Duty, Wisdom. He was eager to test the gear, but even more curious to see the Commander in action. Would they move well together, like two parts of a machine? Would their methods of communication be compatible? He already held respect for her, and was ready to find out how confident he could be following her into battle.
"I'm ready to start the simulation if you are, Commander. What are your orders?"
"Carlson," Paris called over her shoulder as she strode over to one of the doorways to the simulators. "Bring up the Meroset 347 simulation for me in simulator 2, urban pacification module 4. Standard difficulty rating, safety protocols set at 4 of 10- bruises but no bleeding. Myself and Ensign Sado."
Turning to regard the armed and armored giant of a combat medic, Paris, still clad in her minidress uniform of 130 years ago, smiled brightly up at Sado. "Our orders are to pacify the hostiles, minimize civilian casualties and wortk our way toward the temple at the center of the city on the mountaintop, while taking out the psychic resonators throughout the city. There are a dozen of them placed strategically throughout the city, as they'll be marked on your HUD and map overlay that should be loading up now, Ensign. They are guarded by contingents of Amazons for whom their shields can absorb energy weapons, Minotaurs whose strength, durability and ferocity are unparalleled, harpies who, yes, can fly, and living stone statuary who are a bit invulnerable to conventional harm, although they are vulnerable to any force that can affect polished marble."
"Yes, I know- it all sounds mythological, and that's a touch confusing. But myths often have a foundation in reality, and you'll discover that's truer on the Hera than most places. So... ready, Mr. Sado?" The door to the simulator opened on what appeared to be a street in a bronze-age society, whose white clay building structures and marble edifices with paved brick streets was highly reminiscent of the Greek culture from Earth, one of their oldest civilizations.
Tanaak stepped through the door with the confident Commander and quickly fell into step just behind her, still slightly in her periphery. The marble architecture reminded him a bit of home, though it lacked the distinctive domes and blue accents. He'd learned a little about ancient Greece in his earth history class, but he was by no means an expert. He was trying to recall if he'd ever learned what harpies were when he saw something flying overhead.
A bird of prey the size of a human, with a woman's torso and face sailed high above them. It had long, dark, lovely hair that matched its dark feathers, but it was too far away to see if its face was just as beautiful. "Above us," murmured the medic. "It hasn't appeared to notice us, but it could be a scout."
"Likely a spotter for the ground troops- good eye, Mr. Sado," said the minidress-clad commander, who turned to face the newest crew member with something of a gleam in her eye. "Now, remember when I mentioned that myths have foundation in reality?"
With that said, the curvaceous Commander in the antique uniform pulled back her sleeves, to show two bronze bracers, one on each wrist. They looked archaic, more at home on the planet they were virtually standing on than on the throwback commander. Bringing them together, Paris clinked them together gently, and suddenly she was clad in her own EVA armor, the black bodysuit accented by the gold armored plates, the same color as her uniform. On the left breast was emblazoned the same antique delta that the Commander wore on her uniform- a simple delta with a starburst in the center.
As the armor appeared, Sado noted that it was powered off. Bringing the systems up, the hum of electronics and circuitry was familiar, and he could see her HUD displays coming online. "Mythology often has a foundation in fact, and sometimes, on the Hera in particular, it tends to manifest."
A rifle, the exact same as the one in Sado's hand, appeared in the hand of the fulsome first officer, and she powered that on as well, insuring that the weapon was online, linked and ready for combat. "So rule 1- expect the unexpected, and always assume there's more going on than meets the eye. Now, look at our targets, analyze the situation, and outline a plan of action for me. And if you have questions, now's a good time to ask them."
"Ruling out splitting up, since that wold ignore half the reason for our exercise, I can see a clear path to the first resonator. My thinking is that we take it. While the simplest path is often the best guarded, and we should be prepared for resistance, we should take advantage of the open space and even terrain city streets provide. I'd prefer to work methodically, not rush, or else we could be flanked by hostiles. I'd like to avoid patrols when we can, and start with non-lethal methods of dealing with conflict when we can't. If the opportunity for distraction presents itself, I say we take it, but I don't want to damage buildings or put friendlies in harm's way." Tanaak gestured to the road that would take them to their first objective. "If you lead the way, I'll cover our rear."
"Declaring IFF, ordering targets... there's our first objective, suggested course, and there we go, there's our target. The shrine serving as a psionic resonator and amplifier. Looks like four Amazons, a trio of harpies, and a Minotaur. I can tell you from experience, we can offer to parley, but they're a bit fanatical. However," sharing the scans and data she was processing from her armor's scanners, which had the functionality of any tricorder, she outlined the tactical situation clearly.
"Just because we know they won't give up, doesn't mean we don't try to persuade them," the human Starfleet officer smiled, striking a pose, the large rifle hanging casually, but with proper trigger discipline and pointed at the ground. There was the hilt of a short bladed weapon of some sort protruding over her left shoulder, and what appeared to be a billy club of some sort adhered to her right thigh. He noted the corner of a medkit protruding from her back as well, and the hilt of an old-style survival knife protruded from a calf sheath.
When the woman stood and walked and breathed, by human standards, she was pretty- an athletic, attractive woman. But when she smiled, even the great horned Oriasi could see it. Waggling her eyebrows, he watched as the smile she'd beamed his way was put away, and she put on her 'game face'- an alert, focused expression that meant that lives were on the line, and danger was in the air.
"Let's move out, Mister Sado."
Moving off at a trot, head down, Paris stuck to the buildings as she moved, porting her rifle as her scanners told her who was out there, friend or foe. This was, in her estimation, much easier than when she had done such things clad in a minidress, with only a phaser in one hand and a tricorder with the other.
The giant followed a few steps behind, weaving his thick legs surprisingly elegantly as he crossed his feet one over the other in a side-winding pattern. He kept his back to the buildings and his Commander in his periphery as he kept an eye on the direction they'd come from. He held the rifle ready, but kept his finger off of the trigger. Large as it was, it looked natural in his silvery lavender hands. The archways and pillars made him a little nostalgic for home, but pushed thoughts of the past and future to the back of his mind in favor of the present. He kept alert for the signs and sounds of trouble.
Utilizing the scanners of their suits, they were easily able to bypass the two patrols they encountered, ad while the Harpies were still air spotting, they were using stables and what cover the local architecture offered to limit the 'eye in the sky' effectiveness of the winged locals. Arriving at the shrine, Sado's scanners confirmed the numbers and troop types Paris had pointed out earlier, and from a block away, they eyed their target visually.
"Alright Mr. Sado. Take the lead- what's our gameplan here?" Even as she asked, Paris shouldered her rifle in her right hand and flicked her wrist. A phaser appeared in her left hand- one that had not been in use for over a dozen decades in Starfleet, but with it's dark styling and pistol shape, it was quite clearly a weapon, unlike it's modern counterparts. The bright blue eyes of the human officer out of time watched him for his reactions, as he realized that she was studying him, gauging his reactions, and judging him. So far, it seemed, judging him positively, as her demeanor was still relatively easygoing and instructional, and she was giving him room to work.
The Ensign examined the shrine and thrust his lower lip out in his thoughtful pout, but he didn't wait too long before speaking up. "We're dealing with sentient creatures. There will likely be a patrol we could tail or guards we have to deal with upfront. I suggest we go in quietly, subdue any guards without detection if possible, and avoid patrols. If we're spotted, we should try talking them to standing down, but something tells me they won't go for that. If and when we end up in combat, what we do should depend on how mobile our enemies are. If they fire on us from a set point, getting into cover should be our first move. If they attack us directly, we'll want to stay mobile as well. If we're separated and it's possible for one of us to reach the beacon and deactivate it, that should take priority. Otherwise we fall back to our last safe location."
"All right, let's follow through on that plan. Computer's projecting the patrols for the past few minutes we've been leading in and studying the territory.... so. There are our patrols, at least as predicted from available data, which may or may not be great, but it is what we have, and it will increase the longer we are boots on the ground." The subwindow that appeared in Tanaak Sado's helmet showed the data of the specific scan she had requested, pathing the Amazon patrol and predicting their positioning moving forward.
"Alley over there is coming up on their patrol route, so on the bounce, Mister Sadi." With that said, the confident commander got up and took off running, the sun gleaming off that golden armor.
Tanaak followed, noticing that his armor could enhance the strength with which he propelled himself forward. If the need arose, they could sprint faster than this. They ducked into an alleyway as they approached the Amazon patrol. Pressed against a wall, they waited for the patrol to pass. It was a single warrior, wearing beautiful armor and carrying an impressive gladius. They could quietly stun her, incapacitate her while they went about their mission, but now they were in view of the guards posted outside the temple.
"Alright, Mr. Sado. I believe the plan was subdue the patrol, then you were going to attempt reason," Paris said with no sarcasm nor mockery in her tone. "For this one, I'm the observer. So show me."
The Ensign nodded. "Since we can't deal with the patrol without alerting the guards, we may need to change up that order. I'll greet the two guards; if the patrol comes back for me, I want you to stun her." The patrol had passed, but not gone far. Tanaak turned to face the street again, took a deep breath, and stepped out of the alleyway.
The guards noticed him immediately. His size and horns gave them pause. A Minotaur in strange armor? No... They reached for their swords.
"I have important business in the temple," Tanaak said, holding up one hand, palm out. Behind him, the patrol stopped and turned. One of the guards drew her sword, and Tanaak brought his rifle out from behind his back, raising it to his shoulder. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," he warned. "I don't want to hurt you." The other guard drew her sword as well, and the pair of them charged Tanaak.
He heard the sound of a phaser fire behind him, and he trusted that the Commander had taken care of the patrol. He moved as he took aim and fired a three round burst into the left leg of the guard closer to Paris, crippling her, but he wasn't putting as much distance between himself and the other guard as she was covering. With a cry of rage, a brilliant blue disc of energy sprang up from the bracer on her left wrist as she lunged to close the distance.
In that moment, Tanaak had a split second to decide: shoot her point blank, or fight her hand to hand? He lowered his body and sneered, grabbing her sword arm as she was swinging down. He pulled her off balance and into a choke-hold. She was strong, much stronger than a human. Taller, too. She probably could have given some of the Oriasi women back home a run for their money, and definitely could have taken some of the men. Still, as Tanaak lifted her off the ground, head in the crook of his elbow, she finally succumbed.
A roar sounded from inside the temple, and Tanaak turned to the Commander, who had moved up on his 4. He gestured to the unconscious warrior on the ground. "I don't think that trick will work on whatever's in there."
"Computer, pause scenario, please," Paris called out as the tableau froze, and her helmet retracted as she offered feedback. After all, this wasn't a test. "Smart move going with ballistics- those fancy shields only work on energy, which seems pointless in a low tech society. I really should ask about that sometime. I appreciate the restraint of the sleeper hold- nicely done, Mr. Sado. I approve. We carry weapons with stun settings for a reason, and I appreciate your willingness to turn your martial skills in that direction."
"The Minotaur is tough. Go ahead, work your way through some of the rounds, try some of the grenades. I'll take care of the air patrol while you play hit and run. Keep in mind, in a genuine scenario we would be working much harder to be efficient, yes. But in this case, this is a training holo we're using to get a feel for one another in the field, because we're two strangers who are going to be placing our lives in one another's hands in dangerous scenarios like this one. Plus that's the first time you've encountered this multifunction weapon, so you probably would like a moment of experience with it. So on your first day, I feel I owe it to you to know just what you're in for." Paris grinned, and it was a smile that could light up a room- a peculiar sight in a power assist EVA armorsuit with a TR-116CR in her hand.
Tanaak beamed back as the simulation started back up, then turned his attention to the temple's entrance. Grenades, huh? The armored Ensign switched the rifle in his hands over to the secondary barrel and set it to produce smoke grenades, one of which he fired into the temple. The Minotaur bellowed again. Tanaak had hoped that the creature would emerge from the temple disoriented, but the Minotaur was in its own territory. It could have made it through the temple in pitch blackness.
The bull-headed beast burst through the smoke at full speed. "Spirits," Tanaak whispered under his breath when he saw it. He had enough time to switch back to the primary barrel and fire a burst of hollow points into the Minotaur's shoulder before it rammed into the Oriasi's side. Being flung backwards from the force of the blow was quite a shock for the over-sized medic. He'd feel that one tomorrow. Although he'd been wiped off his feet, the smile quickly returned to his face. It had been awhile since he'd been in combat with anything his size, and he loved a challenge.
He switched the rifle to full auto and activated incendiary ammo. As the Minotaur made its second charge, Tanaak aimed for the creature's core and let loose. It roared as the rounds chummed into and through it, sizzling as they cauterized the flesh they passed through, including a number of vital organs. As the beast's momentum carried it on, Tanaak deftly stepped aside, letting the mortally wounded, dead on it's feet beast to fall in a shopkeeper's carts of vegetables.
"We had to create ammunition that would affect them. Until this battle they were immune to anything the rifles produced as well. Sounds like a good time, right?" Paris wisecracked as the two harpies struggled to rise from a nearby rooftop, and without looking she absently launched another flash-bang grenade in their direction, offering the other hand to the combat medic. "Good to know you can take a hit, Mr. Sado. had enough of this for now? Think you've got an idea of what you might be in for just yet?"
"To expect the unexpected, including- but not limited to- mythical monsters?" Tanaak laughed heartily. It was a deep, warm sound that came from his wide chest. "I'm certainly more aware of just how broad a category the unexpected is. I can't say I know what's ahead, but I'll be signing on under no illusions." Serious once more, the horned medic nodded. "I've gotten a good feel for the armor as well. Thank you for the exercise."
"You and I will be doing a few hours like this in similar training scenarios every week, Ensign. So don't thank me too much yet,"
the cheerful commander replied, even as a Harpy, recovered from the flash-bang, took to the air with beating wings and shrieked in Paris' direction wings folding back for a dive.
"Computer, end simulation, please," Paris called out as her armor powered down, the systems going offline and the lights of the suit dimming, then winking out. As she did so, the armor vanished, and she was smoothing out that minidress that really was a bit too short for a woman of her curves and dimension. "Why don't you get back in uniform, and we'll finish the tour, Mr. Sado. This was the less dangerous part of your duties. Now we'll talk about the duty I am hoping you will accept, that's far more dangerous than Amazons and Minotaurs..."
A mix of concern and excitement flashed across Tanaak's face as the holotrainer of the ship's armory came back into view around them. More dangerous? He had no doubt he'd be faced with more exotic and unrelenting creatures, scenarios, and terrains, but he could tell the Commander had something specific in mind. She wasn't trying to warn him that the real thing would be worse, there was something else.
"I would have wanted to run through simulations on my own in my spare time if you hadn't offered," the Ensign said with a nod. He moved back behind the partition where he'd left his uniform and began to change. The pleasant discovery was the armor was just as surprisingly easy to get out of as it was to get into.
"Good. I've never had anyone serve in this capacity for me as part of a coordinated combat strike team," the gold-clad commander admitted, being straightforward and honest as was her style. "Back in my day, we did it all in stretch velour miniskirts, not powered armor, and you'd have been wearing a blue shirt. But times change, and I'd be a fool to believe that times won't come when we'll need that kind of firepower combined with that level of protection. I love the suits- they are everything an explorer could ever want. The guns.... that's a sad fact of the universe. But we've still got phasers, so we still prefer reason. I find that comforting, to be frank."
"I'm curious about this more dangerous duty you've mentioned," the Oriasi mused, a hint of humor back in his voice to mask his concern. "What sort of cold-blooded creatures will I be dealing with? Or is the danger more abstract? Will I be responsible for thwarting a dark future?" He emerged in his uniform once more, holding his helmet under his arm. "You may tell me in your own time, of course, but I am... intrigued."
"Ohhh, Mr. Sado. Do I strike you as the sort to keep you in suspense? You haven't even seen your quarters yet today," the feisty first officer pointed out with a bright and cheerful smile. "Walk with me, Ensign. Time for you to see the experiment we've got cooking on Deck 13."
Once again Tanaak fell into step behind the cheery Commander, wondering just what awaited him on their next stop. Deck 13... He tried to remember the map he'd been given access to of the ship's layout. The intel computer core? Surely there's no experiment in the residential quarters. As he maneuvered his wide frame through the armory's exit, following the Commander's bouncing step and swaying hips, he felt his scalp tingle with anticipation.