The XCOM Saga, part 7, RP interlude 3
by Dan Repperger
This is the second (and for now, final) installment of roleplaying reactions from the people that were conscripted into my story. I’ll for more after we get a little deeper into the story and/or something really game-changing happens.
- As written by Chris Ings…
From: cings@xc om.eng.net
Sent: June-27-2015 2:22 AM
Subject: SHIV Weapons Platform
Ryan, as the Training/Doctrine officer of this command, I’m forwarding you pertinent details of Project Elah. As of the time of this writing, the Engineering team has reached completion of one SHIV unit (Super Heavy Infantry Vehicle). Constructed with captured alien alloys, the SHIV (we’ve decided to name it GOLIATH) has a broad enough silhouette to provide mobile cover in the field and armor coverage equivalent to 450mm RH armor.
Armament is 1 Dillon Aero M134 Minigun, with a primary ammunition supply of 1500 rounds. Primary ROF is set at 3000 rpm. Suggested ammunition load in disintegrating belt is M948 (7.62 x 51mm Sabot Armor Piercing) with every 10th round a tracer (M959). SHIV is set for remote tele-operation from XCOM Command or portable terminal. Sensors include Full Color Day/Night (Gen 4 Light Amplification) cameras, laser rangefinder, along with auditory sensors and loudspeaker.
Weight (Empty) 255 lbs. (115.7 kg)
Weight (Fully Loaded) 350 lbs. (158.8 kg)
Top Ground Speed of Unit: 8.6 mph
Maximum Ground Clearance: 6in.
Ground Pressure: 13.4 psi
Battery Duration (Standby) 20 days
Battery Duration (Combat) 18 hours
Turn Speed: 135 deg./sec
Turret Traversal: 270 deg.
Weapon Elevation/Depression: (+85 deg. /-20 deg.)
Turret Traverse Speed: 225 deg./sec
Hopefully this information will be of use to you in formulating tactics and doctrine to surround the use of SHIVs in combat. If you have any questions, recommendations, or concerns about the status of this project, I am standing by to assist.
Engineering Dev Group F
- As written by Ryan Fraedrich…
Sent: June-27-2015 4:14 AM
Subject: RE: SHIV Weapons Platform
Pulling another late night shift? Well at least there is one other person in the facility who considers coffee a food group. When can the big guy be ready to send to the training hall for some preliminary testing? Moving with a mobile tank is going to take some a adjustments. I take it you’ll be at the helm of the new drone? The xenos haven’t jammed our communications yet, but just in case, tap two suitable candidates you’ll be cross training.
In a nutshell the SHIV has a big, angry gun, and armor made of reinforced stubbornite. While far from invincible, it can take a hit. With any luck, we won’t repeat the mistakes of the last war and treat expensive equipment as disposable. The immediate hole it can patch in our tactics is pursuit. Its minigun should be able to slow down and suppress fleeing enemies, opening them up to sniper and small arms fire. The GIs are going to get used to giving this thing covering fire. The fast speeds can chew up meters, but if it walks into an ambush without support then we just gave the xenos a giant metal pinata.
My main concern comes from the thing’s size. It can’t duck behind chest high cover and has a neon sign that says, “Shoot me.” While drawing away enemy fire can keep a human from harm, I’d rather deploy this drone smartly so it doesn’t soak up any bullets it doesn’t have to. The last thing we need is smoking hole in our budget because we made an avoidable tactical error.
The only performance questions in mind are: Can it double as cover for troop movement? And when damaged does it catch on fire and explode?
- As written by John Grana…
“Whiskey.” The smell must be unavoidable. Not that he’s taken any measure to conceal or downplay it.
Two amber-filled shot glasses sit on the steel table in his quarters — one for himself and one for the empty chair across from him. The drink in front of him goes down into his stomach with a single, long, easy sip. The drink across from him sprays across the far wall, messily, with a flick of his wrist. He manages to hold onto the glass itself this time.
John considers the green bottle in his hands and the writing on its sepia label. Then he throws it into his trashcan, still uncapped and probably two-thirds full. Ireland can nut the fuck up and sign onto XCOM, or he and Pat can drink something sweet from Kentucky or dry from Japan.
- As written by Chris Ings…
Sent: June-27-2015 6:35 AM
Subject: RE: RE: SHIV Weapons Platform
Yeah, caffeine is one of the food groups, though I’m not much of a coffee drinker, I blame my college days and my natural tendency to be nocturnal.
To answer your questions, Goliath needs to complete its motive system testing and should be ready to integrate into movement drills. Weapon bore sighting and calibration will have to be done before each deployment. I also agree on the need for multiple operators cross-trained in operation and system maintenance in case field repairs become necessary. After working with the M134, I’ve got an SOP for field maintenance and damage recovery written based on the documents from the manufacturer and some additional notes from the dev team regarding the idiosyncrasies of the platform.
Tex: I would recommend personnel with technical backgrounds be selected to act as additional operators/field maintenance in case I am unavailable for a particular tasking.
As for tactical uses, suppression is indeed a good use of the weapon system, but the current camera-stabilizer is having trouble keeping up with the vibration from the minigun. Short, controlled bursts to engage single targets are fully effective, but longer, suppressive bursts wander off target enough that I would not gauge the fire on target to be fully effective in a suppression role. The dev team is already drafting a proposal to present to the command staff to secure funding for a software upgrade for image and recoil stabilization that would enable effective suppressive fire.
As for the “Shoot Me” sign, we’ll have to see how the xenos react to the SHIV in combat. Sometimes their targeting priorities indicate puzzling logic in their decision-cycle. A lot of their aggression seems directed at biological threats over mechanical ones. Especially at man-size. I do agree with the sentiment though. I’d hate to see old Goliath get turned to scrap after spending so much time working on him.
In answer to your final question, The batteries are a form of Lithium Ion, with some tricks the scientists gleaned from alien power devices to prolong life and decrease size and weight. This said, Lithium burns hot. In the case of a breach of the battery compartment or the primary ammunition storage by an alien weapon, there is a high probability of a K-Kill, rendering the complete destruction of the SHIV.
To mitigate the potential of friendly injury (given the potential use of the unit as mobile cover), the top armor utilizes a Cellular Ammunition Storage scheme to focus all blast forces from within the hull upwards and away from any friendlies in close proximity. Computer modeling tests show a low order 1.5g shock wave within half a meter of a K-Killed SHIV. Unfortunately, I can’t back that up with real world data, without funding for a second test model to conduct live tests on. Still, I’d volunteer to operate the SHIV from directly behind it, if that gives any indication of my faith in the data.
Speaking of which, I’d like to volunteer for my own rotations through your training scenarios. Cross-training is important, and after Melbourne, I can’t let my intellectual pursuits get in the way of keeping my reactions sharp, should I be needed in the field. They cleared me for an M240, after all, and it’d be a shame to waste the trigger time.
Engineering Dev Group F
- As written by Ryan Fraedrich…
Sent: June-29-2015 11:34 PM
Subject: Melbourne Training Scenario
Morale is currently at record lows. I understand I hadn’t yet been brought onto the project when Pat was KIA, but this is the worst I’ve personally seen. Didn’t you pay attention in history class when not talking about something only makes the problem worse? With Dan restricted to administrative duties that makes you the effective CO of all ground operations. If you are to drown yourself in your own martyrdom of dignified silence, then that’s your prerogative. I’ll be damned if I’ll let you set a bad example at the detriment to every other soldier’s welfare. Time to put on your man pants and place the needs of the unit above yourself.
Look, I get it. The sound of people screaming never really leaves you. Children sound like the squealing pigs the moment they realize they’ve been led to the slaughter. Worst is when the screaming stops and you just hear defeated helpless sobbing. Words cannot convey one one-billionth of the hate I feel for these xeno sonsabitches. I can’t change the past. You can’t bring back the dead. If you can accept that, then we can do our best to do better the next time the xenos hit a population center. We have soldiers we need to keep alive.
I’m putting together a training scenario to recreate Melbourne. The Greeks would tell their people The Illiad over and over again until each village understood what it meant, and the soldiers who had returned from war wouldn’t feel as isolated or alone. Training the unit on how Melbourne went south keeps all of us better prepared, will keep more people alive, and will drag this monster out of the closet before we get someone eating a bullet to make the nightmares stop.
The intention is to have the first training session up and running by July 1st at 1:30 PM. By that time the smoke clears out from lox visibility training and we’ll have the facility until dinner chow. I hope you’ll see sense instead of dignified silence.
- As written by Chad Wattler…
Sent: June-30-2015 08:24 PM
To: All@xcomops.com; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: I love men
I must tell you all of my deep love for the male human form.
I will be taking over all dinner cooking duties for tonight. Beer is on me!
Also, I will do a better job at locking my work station when I get up from my desk.
Live long and prosper,
P.S. Rainbow Dash is my favorite pony.
- As written by Beth Roper…
Beth tried not to pant as the smoke cleared and the noise died down. It was embarrassing enough to be called out for bad marksmanship, but she didn’t want anyone to see her out of breath. Ryan was right: she did need the practice, but having it pointed out didn’t make her that happy.
“OK?” Chris Mais asked.
“What’s that about?” Chris Hussey asked. “Minnesota?”
“If I said ‘Chris’ you’d both answer. I went with place of origin. Would you have preferred ‘dumb ass’?”
“You could call me Tectonic,” Chris insisted, while the other Chris smirked.
Beth raised an eyebrow at him. “Nicknames you give yourself don’t count.”
“I didn’t give myself that nickname,” Chris huffed.
“Sure you didn’t,” she said with a grin. “The boys need a distraction, so I’m having a get together. Come by, both of you, but no hard drinking until after bed time.”
Ryan came out from wherever he’d been controlling the action. “Much better, all of you. Need more work, but it’s a start.”
Beth gave him a salute. “Got rounds. Catch ya’ll later.” They all went their separate ways with a wave, but Ryan caught up with her.
She knew he was referencing her breakdown from the other night. She preferred keeping her weakness to herself, and the sympathy stung like lemon juice. “Yeah. Fine. No worries.”
“Are you sure?”
She stopped walking. “I keep myself busy enough, so it doesn’t happen often. When it does, it’s not for long. I’m fine.” Ryan didn’t look convinced but said nothing. “Listen,” she went on. “Come by later. The boys have been asking after you. You’re a fan favorite.”
Ryan smiled. “OK. I’ll see what I can do.”
She went about her rounds checking various patients. She stopped into Dan’s room to get his vitals and extend an invitation to the get together. He barely noticed she was there as his head was buried in an Excel spreadsheet. He merely grunted at her invite. Even the promise of homemade carrot cake with extra icing did nothing. She sighed and hoped for the best. He had to get better simply because he had to get better. Just like we had to win because we had to win. There was nothing more to be said.
There was one more stop to be made, and she stopped off in the mess to gather the necessaries: tabasco, whiskey and a raw egg all in a tumbler. She stopped at a shut door and began knocking. “Go away,” came the reply.
“You can let me in now or I can stay here and keep knocking until you let me in. Your choice.” The door creaked open and a disheveled John stood squinting in the doorway.
“You look like hammered shit,” she said pushing past him. “Drink this,” she said forcing the glass in his hand.
“I’m a medic. Trust me.”
Eyeing warily, he shrugged and shot it back. “What the fuck was that?” he spat at her, sputtering and gagging.
“Amber moon. Hangover cure.”
“Tastes like shit.”
“Uh huh. Sober up. Connor’s been asking for you.”
“I’ll be there when I can.”
“You can be there tonight. Don’t disappoint him again,” she said heading to the door. “And take a shower. You stink.” She thought she saw a trace of a smile as she shut the door, but she wasn’t sure.
That night around dinner time, one by one they trickled in much to the boys’ delight. Chad brought board games, and he and Wayne were teaching Duncan to play Jenga by flicking the pieces out. John was playing tag with Connor around the tables. The Chrises and Ryan were grousing good-naturedly over who had the biggest piece of cake. There was even a Dan shaped shadow hesitating between Tex and Karla in the doorway, possibly lured by the promise cream cheese icing. Beth smiled to herself. Australia had taken a hell of a toll on the group, but right now was a moment of joy between the storms. There was a piece missing, there always would be since Pat was gone, but the pain was manageable tonight. Her boys were OK, all of them.
- As written by Ryan Fraedrich…
Chad takes a seat across Ryan’s desk. The desk’s owner looks at him for a long moment with the angry scowl that constitutes his only facial expression.
“After reviewing the security tapes from yesterday,” Ryan begins, “you seem to think spreading misinformation is some kind of joke. You would be dead wrong. Lets’ get one thing very clear.” He opens the top drawer of his desk. “The remainder of this verbal counseling will be conducted with sock puppets.” A red, green, and blue sock puppet are placed on the desk. When Chad makes no movement Ryan gives him a motivating, “YOU MUST CHOOSE!”
“Now soldier.” Says the sock puppet adorned with a big, brown drill sergeant hat. “Misinformation is serious business. You’d best understand one thing. Fluttershy is the best pony.”