[Aside] Welcome to the Jungle

The Roughest, the toughest, the Galactic Marines. Set in a world where peace is more prevalent than war, the Marines are here to ensure that the status quo does not get flipped around. taken from the best and brightest of every race in the United Galactic republic, the Marines will sacrifice everything to keep the peace they have fought for through generations.
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[Aside] Welcome to the Jungle

Post by Straken »

The Old Caballero shuttle, Or 'Cab' as it had been shortened to by creative Terran boots when it handeled service more than seventy five standard years ago, jostled and bumped about as it made its way into the atmosphere. Thanks to its overbuild and overingineered nature, the humble Caballero had continued to serve not just the Terrans, but by all races un the United Galactic Republic with little to no revisions over time. Some of the first shuttles produced could still be found in civilian hands, dutifully shuttling goods back and forth from a planet's surface to a ship or space station, or vice versa.

This particular Cab housed a mixed unit of UGR soldiers, Mostly of the regular 'Marine' Infantry variety, though a few of various other qualifications and professions were present as well. One of the regular Marines was a young Terran man, of Irish Heritage, named Niall Callaghan. Having recently completed his training, this would be his first real mission, and, rarely for a new soldier, he would be going into actual combat of some kind. Niall stood in the wide cargo bay of the Caballero, which had some convenient loops hanging from the ceiling for the soldiers to grab onto and steady themselves if they desired. Niall was no exception, and one of his arms was held up above his head, a gloved hand gripping tightly on the loop as a mixture of fear and excitement gripped the newbie's nerves.

Clad head to toe in a lightweight semi-armored suit, Niall looked the very image of a generic Terran Marine. He was fit and lean, with enough muscle to properly fill out the suit, but not enough to make him look like a bulky body builder. The suit itself was some amorphous sort of coloration, a pattern which subtly changed itself to match its surroundings, changing its coloring and even its texture to a small extent, in order to make it less visible to any potential enemies. The suit was more or less a bodysuit, but it wasn't quite skin-tight, and it featured prominent armor pads throughout its construction, though those were blended in and contained beneath the outer layer of camouflaged fabric. Along with the pads, numerous pockets were spread about, carrying various items such as ration bars, ammunition, and even a small survival kit. Strapped a little more prominently around the waist was a utility belt that housed his sidearm, some more spare ammunition, a first aid kit specific to Terrans, and finally a few different types of anti-personnel grenades and utility explosives.

Finally, atop Niall's head was the standard infantry helmet. Currently in Breathable atmosphere mode, it was a 3/4 shell helmet made of advanced materials, and covered with the same morphing fabric as the rest of his armor. It had a second mode, which activated automatically in the event of a vacuum or upon the detection of hazardous atmosphere, in which a clear, self-tinting visor would deploy from the front brim of the helm, which was then sealed by a chin-bridge that deployed from the sides of helmet, joining with the voidsuit that made the base layer of any Terran uniform, or really any uniform worn by a species that was not capable of surviving a vacuum unassisted.

Niall was suddenly jostled, having completely zoned out from his nerves. The Drathonian standing next to him chuckled, having been the one to give the young soldier a nudge to wake him up. The CO was standing at the front of the cargo area, and had begun to motion for all the soldiers to pay attention. The earpieces in all of their helmets or other headgear began to activate, Translating for those who didn't speak the common tongue, which thankfully for Niall, was Terran due to its relative ease of learning and robust structuring compared to most other galactic languages.

"Now, I know you have all heard this before" Began the CO, a Seflaurind male whom had bark-like skin and a bit thicker, sturdier build than most of his race, "But we're dropping into a den of NonSents. Mining company dropped by this planet a few cycles ago and found some pretty rare stuff that the republic could really use, though the higher ups won't exactly tell us what that is. Anyway, they dropped a survey team on the ground only to find the locals to be pretty adept at shredding humanoids. Our job is to locate the survivors of the survey team, and kill as many of these shredders as we can."

The CO's briefing was met with a few cheers, some honest, and some half-hearted. a few grumbles could be heard from some of the older soldiers whom had grown accustomed to peacetime, though those of more war-like races seemed to be the most excited. Several Drathonians in the unit seemed to be puffing themselves up a bit with excitement, along with a couple of Chataans, and even a Sabeline looked to be relishing in the chance to hunt. Niall wasn't sure where he stood in all this, but his train of thought was immediately derailed by the CO calling out "Hey, Hey, that's enough, Keep it Professional!" He seemed like he was ready to start the final checkups but then he seemed to remember something.

"Oh yeah, some fun stuff today. Seems like R&D has deemed this a good chance to have some of their fancy MTek stuff do a field test today. We've got one of their guys attached to our unit for the day, so don't let him get himself killed. Priority number one, though, is the Civilians. Number two is the shredders, and Number three is the hotshot. Got it?" There was an overall grunt of agreement from the unit, "Alright then, Let's count off!"

As the CO went through his final checklist, the shuttle made its way down through the atmosphere, finally landing with a jostling thud, the rear hatch opening almost immediately and letting in a blast of hot, humid air, revealing a thick rainforest with what appeared to be trails used by large creatures going off in several different directions. They were, thankfully, in the middle of a clearing, and not far off they could see a heavily damaged shuttle next to a hastily constructed camp that looked like it had been attacked by bears. Well, if bears were about twice their normal size and much, much angrier. The troop unloaded, and the cab took off, heading to a holding pattern and waiting for the call to come pick up the soldiers.

If any trooper was looking up, they might have been able to glance another Cab beginning to descend into atmosphere. Suddenly, over their comms, a proper voice came on and informed them of the approaching MTek unit, but was cut short, sounding as though he was arguing about someone not being able to do something. Cutting over the squad's comms once more, music could be heard after some static had passed; music that likely no one had ever heard before. Once more, if any trooper happened to be looking up they might have been able to glance a bright glint of fire coming from the Cab, but it did not appear as though the ship was damaged.

Indeed, the fire would stop occasionally, shift position, and start up again; almost like aerial acrobatics, and the person was coming in quickly. As the spectacle was dangerously close to the ground, and the song reached its climax, the man unleashed a large torrent of fire beneath him, and upon blasting though it himself created a large, shimmering ring of pyrotechnics. Down at canopy level, he then shot out a torrent of air to slow his decent, and finally landed; crouched with one knee and a fist planted on the ground in an eponymous superhero landing. Moments later the song died down, and the man stood triumphantly, looking up at his handiwork, before looking at the troopers. He pulled a pair of steel-rimmed biker goggles down to his neck, and brushed his nose. "Cheers mates, cavalry's here."

The man looked incredibly out of place standing near the armored troops. Where they were suited up and looked ready for combat, he was wearing what amounted to civilian casual. He was wearing heavy denim jeans, heavy leather boots, a thin dark ocher undershirt, and a fur collared leather bomber jacket. Given that both he and his MTek unit, though mostly the unit, were seen as assets, there were some visible concessions he had made to his outfit for the sake of defense in the form of some thick padding on his knees and elbows, and what looked to be a light chest piece over his undershirt. Upon closer inspection, a slight metal frame could be seen under his jacket.

"Name's Cormac Flynn, and for today, Ahm gonna be your Merlin."

"Awww crap," Niall Callaghan muttered as he saw just what was descending toward them, the over dramatic entrance and 20'th century soundtrack made it painfully obvious, at least to the green soldier, if no one else. When Cormac introduced himself to the squad, Niall could do nothing more than to take his free hand and apply it to his face in a discouraged manner. The Section CO, Sergeant Ironbark, made his way over to Cormac, looking stiff as usual, and greeted him in the official manner.

Niall did his best to try and hide his face from Cormac, But the same drathonian from before, a Lance Corporal named Grathchna, who went by the nomiker Roughhide, Pushed him once more, forcing the newbie out towards the edge of the formation closer to Cormac.

Cormac appeared to be capable of basic military protocol, it seemed, as he saluted the sergeant as he approached, and formally introduced himself as well as a basic recap of his goals. He side tracked somewhat as movement caught his eye, and his words trailed off as he made out the face under the half helm.

"Well, kiss my Blarney Stones, I may as well head home," Cormac said, a wry grin crossing his face. "Don't know if this place can handle two Irishman. But, ya know the saying, overkill is underrated. Anyway Sarge, let's see what manner of squad ya got here. My dosier only glazed over the subject." He began to walk closer to the troopers in the line to get a look at team he was going to be accompanying.

He walked slowly down the line, nodding as he went, definitely acting above his pay grade; but making the most out of his status as a Specialist. The Irishman's pace was even, and beyond the occasional "mhmm" he didn't do much; he did wink and nod at one of the female soldiers, though. Once he got to Niall he paused for a second and gave him a playful jab to the shoulder, "I'm looking forward to this, mate. We gon' have stories f' Wendy when we get home, or what?" Beyond that, he did pause and give Rough Hide a stern look, but not much else as he concluded his check.

"Works for me. Got a good team by the looks of it. Should be a fun jaunt."

Niall flinched a bit when Cormac got to him, trying his hardest to keep himself under control. On the one hand he was glad to have a friend around on his first mission, but on the other... Why did it have to be Fecking Cormac? the young Irishman thought. He's just going to spend the whole time blowing hot air and flirting with the female soldiers. He was relieved when Cormac's fake little inspection was over, because Ironbark began to shout orders, separating the section into their usual squads and fireteams.

Cormac was assigned his fireteam, which he had known about, but aside from some basic introductions, he had never really worked with the group. Their leader was of course Rough Hide the Drathonian, and second in command was a chestnut-toned female Sabeline who went by Brownie, not because of her skin color, but because she loved the chocolate dessert. Third was another Terran man, Whose real name NIall had never heard, but whom went by the callsign "Bob". Last but not least was Niall himself, apparently the replacement for another Marine whom had retired not too long before this mission had been assigned.

As the fireteams separated and began discussing their various mission assignments before heading out, Ironbark made his way over to Roughhide and called the Drathonian over, chatting with him for a bit before waving someone over. Niall's stomach sank a little bit when he noticed that someone was Cormac. "f*** me, we're in fer ah load ah trouble..." the brunette mumbled under his breath as he realized this wasn't going to be just your average walk through the jungle with the usual murderous xenos all around.

In between his inspection and getting beckoned, Cormac set himself to inspecting the forests around him; likely appearing absent minded. Once he noticed the wave, he sauntered over to see what was going on. "Aye, something up, Sarge?"

Ironbark motioned to Roughhide's fireteam, before explaining "You'll be sticking with them today. Roughhide here's a qualified Veteran and he's got a good team, plus he says you know the new kid." Niall sighed, knowing he had just been called out, and finally gave in to it all, figuring that trying to avoid it wasn't going to pay off.

"Aye, Ah know 'em e's mah mate from back home. We both Grew up in Ireshire on Terra Fin." With nothing left to say, the young man shut up, just wanting to get on with the mission. Perhaps killing something would calm his nerves.

"Well, Ah look forward to accompanying ya, Roughhide," Cormac responded, before giving a sideways glance to Niall; having known Niall since they were both lads, he couldn't shake the feeling that something had put him off. The older Irishman credited it to predeployment jitters, after all, it was to be expected. "I'll have to try and put him at ease."

"So, any other preparation we need ta make?" Cormac asked. "As the King once said, need a little less conversation and a little more action."

"Not really," Ironbark responded "Just follow them, and remember, Roughhide is in charge, so listen to what he says." With that, the CO left them to their devices, leaving the Drathonian to eye the newest Terran to join his midst.

"Try not to die, little man." Roughhide cautioned Cormac, signaling to his fireteam to move out. They could see that each of the fireteams had chosen a different 'tunnel' to follow into the forest, and Roughhide took the one nearest them, leading them into the forest. The fireteam settled squickly into a practiced pace, with Brownie quickly overtaking the Drathonian and taking point, bob taking up a position just behind Roughhide, leaving Cormac and Niall to take up the rear.

"And you try not to give a kid an asthma attack," Cormac responded back, his cheery tone gracing a vague retort. He resigned himself to his place in the back, having no particular issue with it since he was confident that he would be able to quickly make his way to the head of the pack if need be, and besides, back here he could hang out with Niall some; although he would have liked to try chatting up Brownie some, and see what she thought of his entrance. Being who he was though, he bounced back pretty quick and started enjoying the views of the surrounding foliage.

After walking for a short time, Cormac moved closer to Niall. "Hey, so wha'd ya think o' me entrance, huh? Ahm pretty happy with it maself. Though that landing was a little rough on the knees..."

"Well, Ah'd say that it'd have worked better if yah were a little closer ta tha ground when yah were doin tha acrobatics" Niall admitted, seeming to have calmed down some now that they were active, and that Cormac was actually acting relatively normal now instead of being a public nuisance. The soldier stretched, popping a couple of the joints in his neck, which helped soothe him a little bit further.

"If'n Ah were you, ah'd probably try not tah show off more than was necessary. Ah'd worry about gettin' in trouble, specialist or naw." Nial continued, giving Cormac a slug to the shoulder and grinning a bit to let his friend know he was being at least partially facetious. Ahead of them, Bob and Roughhide seemed to be chatting about something off the comms, and Niall and Cormac were just a bit too far to actually hear what was being said. The only indication of Brownie was a simple dot indicating her relative position up ahead of the group on Niall's HUD.

"Ah know right?!" Cormac agreed, perking up. "But it was then or never. Soon as they heard I wanted to try and jump, the eggheads were all, 'Ya gotta at least wear a parachute' and 'the unit isn't designed for this kind of entry' and 'you'll die'." The older man's arms were waving comically, and his voice went into a high pitch that sounded hoarse as he did the impersonations.

"Ha! Shows what they know," he laughed hardily. "Turns out I am pretty good at field testing."

"Either that or yah have a death wish" Niall chided, scanning the area around them as they had been instructed. Every few paces he stopped for a moment to look behind them, though all he could really see was the entrance to their foliage-clad 'tunnel' getting smaller and smaller. All around them, in fact, the rain forest seemed to be particularly dense aside from the well-worn paths that appeared to have been beaten out by the passage of some large, probably herbivorous creature.

"Seems good back here so far" The young Terran commented into the fireteam comms, checking in a basic report. Brownie's voice came across the comms soon after "Yep, same up here, aside from it being a bit creepy" she responded. A grunt of affirmation was heard from Roughhide, and they continued on their way.

Off in the distance, however, the sounds of some small arms fire could be heard- apparently one of the other fireteams had run into something.

Thinking for a few extended moments, Cormac laced his fingers together behind his head in contemplation. "Perhaps," he said simply, without too much tone to it. His face had a somewhat somber look to it, but when the comms chatter began it shifted to a look that was more catty. "Well, if it gets too creepy, Ah can always come keep ya company," his tone had shifted to suave.

Joking aside, he did straighten up slightly as the sounds of gunfire drifted over to them. His eyes were focused, and his hands were free; and the new spring in his step hinted at being ready to jet to where ever the action showed up. "Let's show these beasties what we Irish are made of... by beating them... not getting eaten or bitten in half... thus literally showing them what we are made of."

"Ah'll be fine jes killin 'em, whatever th'hell they are." Niall countered. Still, Cormac would notice that Niall's body language had changed once again. The Gauss rifle which had been hanging at his side was now at a low ready, and the Irishman had quickly flipped down his visor to a middle position, bringing up a more comprehensive HUD which included thermal imaging to help try and target anything alive and moving.

They could see that Bob and Roughhide had also perked up as well, and from up ahead they noticed Brownie's position on the HUD had stopped advancing, and it was followed quickly by the Sabeline hissing quietly over the comms "We can chit-chat later, hotshot, Fireteams Bravo and Charlie have run into what they're describing as nests, and I see a pretty dense reading of heat signatures up ahead."

A rain forest can be a hot and humid place, and thanks to Niall's armor he was somewhat insulated. Off to his side, while readying his weapon, Cormac was readying his own. The wet heat was being pushed away in a small area around Cormac, replaced with a dry heat similar to opening an oven at prime temp. He was visibly excited now, and it was manifesting in minor effects from his MTek unit. "Ah'll hold ya to tha', deary. Just point me in the right direction and we can kick off the fireworks."

"Hold yer horses, there, Cormac" Niall cautioned, feeling the heat rising and the humidity die down, at least through the exposed portion of his face. He looked around, having picked up something on the aucoustic amplification sensors his helmet sported. Aside from the standard jungle noises, he could hear a sound that seemed that something larger than just some small creature was moving through the brush to one side of them, however, the dense jungle meant that the thermal imaging hadn't picked it up yet. "Ummm-" Niall began, but he was cut off.

"We hear it too" Roughhide announced, signaling for the two Terrans behind him to move closer. Brownie's dot also moved in closer to their grouping, the fireteam coming back together in a more defensive position.

Cormac cracked his neck and pressed his knuckles, and his teeth were visible in wide grin. He pulled back on his excitement some, leveling out and appearing calm, but his booted foot began tapping a steady rhythm. This wasn't his usual manner of doing things, but he recognized the value in prudence; and in anticipation for action, he raised his goggles back over his eyes to get his own view of what was going on. The heat radiating from him subsided as well, as it condensed around his hands, spawning a small ball of fire in each hand.

"Ah'm set when you lot are," Cormac chimed. "And Ah'm getting curious as to what these things look like anyway."

Swiftly, the fireteam regrouped, forming a defensive circle, with Roughhide pointed directly in the direction the noise had first come from. Soon, they heard it with their own ears- the sound of something large making its way through the foliage, trunks and vines and branches and leaves rustling, popping, cracking and creaking. Suddenly they became aware that it was coming from more than just one direction.

It was clear that whatever was making the noise, they were being somewhat inconvenienced by having to shove through the dense forest greenery, but at the same time whatever they were were more than strong enough to simply force their way through it.

"Oi, blockhead, yah got any big ideas, or are yah just content to be a big 'ol lighter?" Niall asked Cormac.

"Never know if someone needs a smoke, ey' runt?" Cormac said back with a grin. "That said, I am entirely capable of just blasting away iffen that pleases King Koopa over there."

The flames in his hands had increased in size, the fire light flickering off of his goggles as he made an offhand quip directed towards Roughhide. "Tha' said, L.C., we just gonna let what ever this is come to us? or is there some other plan you're waiting to hatch? Cause if need be, Ah can lay down some covering fire"

"Lock and Load" Came an order from the Drathonian leader of the fireteam, and his soldiers did just that, Bob and Niall hefting up their Utility Gauss Rifles, and Brownie bringing her marksman's rifle to bear. The Drathonian himself leveled his Heavy Plasma rifle and aimed it toward the nearest approximation of the source of the first noise.

"You too, hotshot" Niall mentioned, though it wasn't really necessary- Cormac was already ready to go as it seemed, with his flames intensifying by the moment. Roughhide grunted for the Private to quiet down, then bellowed a simple order; "Fire!". And without further ado, the four Galactic Republic marines opened fire on each of their respective targeted areas. The sharp cracks of the hyper-sonic Gauss rounds punctuated with the crackling pop of the Plasma rifle, blasting and burning holes in the foliage, respectively.

Finding his own place comfortably in the firing line, Cormac focused in anticipation for the order to attack. It was always an interesting experience, using the MTek units. The best description he was ever able to give was that it was like flexing a secondary muscle you have never flexed before; you really need to think and work through how to make it move successfully, but after enough repetition it became intuitive. For the Irishman the process had since become intuitive, at least when it came to fire, but he still enjoyed thinking through the process over again; he felt like cognitively working through it made it a wee bit stronger.

When the order came to open fire, Cormac wasted no time doing just that. Thrusting one arm forward, he directed all of the energy out in a tight cone focused on the location nearest to him that he thought he had heard something. An intense yellow flame erupted from his palm, searing its way into the jungle growth.

The thick jungle growth proved to be a bit much, with Cormac's flames not doing much more than lighting the wall of the 'tunnel' on fire, though they did do a good job of beginning to char the leaves and branches of everything they touched, causing it to break down at a rapid pace. The Gauss rifles that the two other Terrans and the Sabeline used, fared much worse, doing not much more than causing small bits of wooden shrapnel to fly around, and whizzing off course to hit nothing of importance. The plasma rifle did the most, burning small holes straight through, though they only managed to penetrate a few yards into the jungle before more or less fizzling out.

After the initial barrage, Roughhide called a cease-fire, realizing that it was pretty pointless to try and shoot through the forest. along with the cease-fire, was a cessation of the noises coming from the forest. However, the relative silence (Aside from the gunfire of the other fireteams in the distance) was somewhat unsettling. And then they saw it.

Brownie saw it first, from her position looking farther down the 'tunnel', picking it up first on thermal vision, before switching to the low light sensors so she could make out more detail- an image which she fed to the others. It was about 50 meters away, just outside of the reach of their lights, but they could see the glinting points of its eyes very clearly. The grainy low-light image told a bigger story than just those eyes did, however. It was about 4 meters tall, and very heavily built, with huge shoulders and front legs. it had thick pads on its front paws, and large, very sharp looking claws. It was built in roughly the same proportions as a Terran bear, except it was instead a reptile. Its somewhat blunted face showed a very large mouth, which was lined with needle-like teeth, and just in front of its eyes were pits like a viper- heat sensing organs that meant that it could see exactly where they were thanks to Cormac's abilities.

This individual, however, simply stood there, staring at them with unblinking eyes, breathing heavily and making some quiet grunting noises.

"Crocobear? Bearigator... Allibear? BEARODILE!" Cormac could be heard over his comm unit, trying to come up with a name for the creature, his tone light as usual. "Can I keep it?" Despite his playing around, he noted the image shown to him in the corner of his own HUD, while continuing to scan for more creatures; easily concluding that he wouldn't want to be caught off guard by one of them. In response, his stance adjusted slightly, so that rather than poised to attack he was instead braced to evade.

The creature seemed to be entirely unperturbed by the presence of the five individuals in its way. to be fair, it was a good bit larger than any of them, even the large-for-a-sentient-being Drathonian who stood three feet shorter than it. Brownie raised her marksman's rifle, making sure to draw a bead on what appeared to be the weakest areas of it- its eyes were probably the softest spots but also rather small and difficult to hit. Its underbelly showed the thinnest looking scales but who knew how thick they actually were.

"Shall I fire?" The sabeline asked, curious. She was answered by the drathonian, who sighed before replying; "No, not until it shows signs of hostility. I would very much like you to, but regulations won't allow it." He seemed to be a bit displeased, but he knew the UGR's code of conduct, and unless it showed itself as obviously aggressive, he couldn't do anything about it.

"Well, that's not boring at all..." Cormac said dully, his stance dropping slightly; though he remained poised to dodge. "Ya s'pose these are the same things attacking the other groups? Looks too cuddly to be bloodthirsty to me." There were still the other noises from the surrounding area to be concerned with, and physiology would say that what ever this thing was, it was well equipped when it came to killing.

"Reminds me a bit of an old movie, that thing," Cormac chimed lightly. "It drew attention to the front so its mates could... hmm, Ah think Ah am gonna stop talking about tha' for now."

"Sheeit, is tha' the one 'bout the park with dinosaurs or whatever we called 'em back in the day?" Niall asked, having spent many a day with Cormac in his younger years being made to watch ancient Terran popular culture and cinema. The young brunette kept on the watch, setting his thermal sensors to the highest sensitivity, looking for something, anything moving around. It made pretty much his entire view into a blur of varying levels of red, orange, yellow, and even white- this forest was quite hot, and a lot of creatures, small and large were around, blurring into each other and making it hard to see what was around. Though, now that he thought back to it, that thing's heat signature was very low, much lower than what he was seeing.

Suddenly, the noise returned, this time from directly above them. Niall took his eyes off the brush, as did Bob and Roughhide, though Brownie kept her aim steady despite the noise. From up above they saw another low heat signature like the creature before them, except it was roughly ten feet above their heads- And then it dropped, making a bizarre hissing roar as it came, claws extended, headed straight for the largest heat signature- Cormac.

Cormac followed the noise upward as well, in time to see the bearodile just as it was dropping right on top of him; and a part of him was very impressed by how nimble this creature was for how big it was. "Clever girl," Cormac quipped one last off-hand reference even as his life was in danger. Reacting to immanent threat, the Irishman dodged by loosing a torrent of air, propelling himself back into the fire team's circle. As he jumped backwards he also launched a torrent of air upward from his hand, both to try and redirect the incoming beast at least enough to keep it from landing right on top of the team, and to also replant himself onto the ground so he could stay on his toes.

The beast was startled as it was buffeted during its descent toward the forest floor, landing a bit less gracefully than it had intended, rolling off to one side and hitting the wall of the leafy tunnel. That was enough aggression for Roughhide, however, whom immediately gave the order to begin firing again. Neither he nor his squad mates hesitated in laying fire onto the nearest beast, Gauss rounds and plasma bolts impacting on its hide. The beast turned out to be quite sturdy- Gauss rounds cracked and broke off scales but did not penetrate, and the plasma bolts simply burned shallow gouges into its hide. It gave off another hissing roar, much louder this time and in obvious anguish, and Brownie noticed the other one begin charging- and she began firing at it, trying to shoot its eyes out and thereby penetrate its skull- but this was proving difficult due to the erratic way in which it ran toward them.

Emboldened by his successful redirection, Cormac bound forward with an energetic leap back to the edge of the firing line and launched another concentrated cone of fire on the bearodile that had just tried to pounce on him. He took a cathartic joy from the flames blasting from his hand, every time feeling like a little kid as he smiled with glee. "Fingers crossed on them not trying the same trick twice, eh?" he joked over the din of fire and gunfire.

The Beast that had dropped on them was quickly subdued- despite its toughness the overwhelming firepower and immolating flames that were wreaked upon it caused it to wither and collapse in a smoldering pile of dead reptile. The other one, which had been much further away, was making it closer despite Brownie's best efforts to kill it. She had managed to shoot out both of its eyes, but it kept coming for them, unwavering, as if it still knew where they were somehow. With their other enemy down, they all knew what to do, and Roughhide didn't have to order them to support their scout. As their fire came down upon the second beast it began to bellow its hissing roar like the other, finally tripping onto its face and coming to a halt a few yards away. It gave a few final shuddering breaths, before letting out one last hiss and giving up the ghost, sinking down slightly as its own body weight pushed the air from its lungs.

"Well, that was a thing," Cormac said nonchalantly as he watched from the back of the group. Sure that the second beast was subdued, he then made his way past Roughhide and Brownie on his way to the downed beast in front of them. Once he was a couple feet away he tapped his goggles a couple times before circling the beast and repeating the process. It seemed he was documenting the creature and some of its features; a process that likely seemed somewhat out of character, and almost like he actually was a member of a research team.

"No time for messing around" Roughhide gruffly reminded them, Brownie taking point and Bob falling in behind him in a practiced manner, quickly walking past Cormac and the dead bearodile or whatever he had wanted to call it. Niall stopped for a moment by his friend to make sure that he continued on with them, but Cormac could see that Niall was on high alert again. He seemed to be sweating just a bit more than was normal, even in such a humid jungle, and regardless of his armor suit's mild climate controlling abilities."C'mon let's get outta here" he said to Cormac, nudging the man and continuing onward.

"Aye aye, just need one more photo," Cormac responded absentmindedly. He had circled back around and pulled back one of the beast's cheeks before snapping a couple photos of its teeth. Done with his deed, he stood up and wiped his hands off on his jeans, and moving over next to Niall. "Had some coats squawking in my ear as soon as the first beastie showed up."

After a couple moments of collecting himself he noted Niall's somewhat frazzled appearance. "It's okay to stop and breathe, mate. Ya did great for your first time, take confidence in tha'. Next round'll be on me, a'ight?"

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Re: [Aside] Welcome to the Jungle

Post by Kai »

"Jes' don' stray back too far, yannow?" Niall mentioned to Cormac as he walked off, leaving the MTek user to his own devices for a few moments, though his friend quickly caught up, leaving them back in their prior order of movement, although this time they all seemed a bit more wary, now that they actually knew what they were going up against. Brownie had disappeared off ahead of them, visual camouflage making her completely invisible except for the little dot on their HUD's telling them where she was. RoughHide and Bob took their middle position, both on high alert and scanning in every direction for any out of place noise or movement, while Cormac and Niall did their thing at the back, with Niall still acting a bit stiff despite his joking talk.

"Ah'll get tha hang o' this eventually, yannow, I jes' gotta keep mah cool. And Ah think you should keep frosty too, if'n yannow what ah mean."

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Re: [Aside] Welcome to the Jungle

Post by Straken »

"Aye aye," Cormac said wistfully after a few moments more appreciating the dead beast in the road before falling in line. His giddy demeanor had cooled off and he had returned to his usual relaxed tempo as he walked along side Niall. Unlike his friend, who appeared stiff and anxious, the older Irishman was looking much like he would had he been off to a night of drinking; coupled with his attire it reinforced him looking out of place in a jungle combat zone. "An' Ah know tha' you'll do just fine, mate. Ah got faith in ya. Need ya to watch my back an' make sure Ah don't get in over ma head to much; ya know, the usual."

"All in all though, this is probably a pretty good introduction, Ah'd think. These things aren't shooting anything at us, so we got range advantage; they use understandable hunting tactics, given being beasties an' all; and we haven't run into any of them trying to hug our faces and lay eggs. So all the benefits of not fighting raiders, and so far none of the draw backs of fighting aliens."

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Re: [Aside] Welcome to the Jungle

Post by Kai »

Niall chuckled a bit as Cormac once again made a reference to 20th century Terran pop culture- And while face-sucking aliens did exist they were not nearly as much of a problem as those ancient movies had led people to believe. "Awright, awright," Nial began, as they continued to move forward, picking up the pace a bit, before finishing "Ah getcha, but ah still don' wanna take it too easy an get caught off guard"

"Quod visu pulchrum est," Cormac responded in a long dead language. "Tha's fair. Now, le's see about kickin' this party in high gear. Kill some dire bears, beat the boss, find some loot, and maybe level up. You can be a ranger, and I am obviously a sorcerer class."

Private Callaghan just rolled his eyes behind his visor, though the eye roll was still visible to Cormac via the former's body language. They kept running forward, without so much as a setback, toward that spot for ahead where Brownie had confirmed a large heat signature. It would take them a few minutes, but it wasn't too difficult of a run aside from the occasional root or vine across the path, as it seemed to be well used and quite flat otherwise.

Eventually Brownie sent a call out for a halt, as she had found the edge of a sort of clearing, although the vegetation had grown over the top of it, giving it the air of something more along the lines of a cathedral or concert hall. In the center of the clearing, farthest from the edges of the multitudinous foliage, there was an odd shaped pile of random and often bizarre objects. it contained not only wood and stone, as well as some brush and mulch, but there was some sort of substance that appeared to be similar in consistency to common repair foam. After a bit of surveying, they quickly figured out what exactly was going on here.

It was some sort of nest, haphazardly put together by the reptilian bear creatures, with multiple nooks and crannies leading into what appeared to be a rather warm and cozy interior. The exterior seemed to serve two functions- to keep out whatever weather might penetrate the thick canopy above, and to store food.

The food came in the form of woodland creatures that had been immobilized with that foam-like substance, but the local fauna wasn't the only thing entombed upon the nest. Indeed, near the edges of the nest they could see several more recent looking foam piles which had oddly terran-looking limbs sticking from them, often at odd angles. The fauna, as well as the captured Terrans, seemed to be part of what was causing the large heat signature, though the nest itself seemed to be generating quite a bit of heat as well.

"Oooooooooookaaaaaaaaay," Cormac said slowly as he drew closer to the clearing. "Is the punchline of this mission gonna be tha' these things are jus' weird-ass bees?" Crouching down near Brownie, the Irishman once again began taking a couple of pictures of the scene in the clearing.

"So, any obvious bearodiles waiting to jump us? Or is this a more subtle ambush?" he finally said, his tone maintaining its light air.

"Well, aside from the missing Terrans and the food stash, there doesn't seem to be anything moving around here" Brownie noted, her somewhat superior sensor suite giving her a bit better picture of what was going on. "Unfortunately there's so many heat signatures at so many different levels of heat radiation I can't get a clear picture of what's going on inside that nest thing." The Sabeline scanned around the clearing, taking in everything else that she could.

"I think we might also be seeing the other squads soon" she posited, highlighting the fact that there were a number of alternate entrances into the clearing, many of which seemed to come from directions that other groups had gone.

"If they do come in thisaway, tha'll be good fer us" Niall noted, taking a look around and overlaying brownie's feed on top of what his own sensors were displaying,using a full virtual enhancement of his vision to try and pick out as many details as he could- it was a little bit overwhelming though, giving the Irishman a bit of a headache.

Their leader interrupted the more idle chatter that had begun, giving his orders on the situation, no doubt augmented by the status updates he was receiving from other squad leaders. "We'll wait here. Brownie is correct, we should have some support soon, However, most of the other groups did not have it so easy as we did."

"Oh yeah, nothin' but a walk through tulips on the way here," Cormac chided. Maintaining his position, he took the opportunity to snap more photos; though it was more as a way to pass time rather than gather useful data. There were a number of picture of feet, and a couple of stealthy ones in Brownie's direction. Satisfied with his foray into photography, he slid his goggles down around his neck and looking a little bit bored.

"Don'cha ground-pounders keep trackers via GPS on the other squads? What's the ETA? Or am I about to hear something about 'The foliage is too thick to get accurate readings'?"

Roughhide growled in Cormac's general direction, not really fond of the specialist and his constantly running mouth or his wisecracking jokes. "I receive information from other squad leaders. If I am injured, command transfers to the next in line. And you are last in line, Terran." the Drathonian NCO pointed out with disdain. "We have another squad getting ready to emerge about 100 meters to the right, as well as one roughly opposite our position. The other squads are tied up with their own business, and you should either mind yours, or follow orders. Are. We. Clear?"

"Ah think he has a crush on me," Cormac whispered to Brownie as the Drathonian took a very curt tone. Through most of the punctuated lecture, Cormac was making a quiet sound along the lines of 'mawp'. When the intonation of the other's voice suggested he was wrapping up, the Irishman piped up in response. "Yes, Sir. Boy howdy, you sure put yur foot down. Very inspiring."

Either way, Cormac didn't have a particular feeling about Roughhide, he just naturally enjoyed toeing the line when it came to seniority and rank; and the meaner they were, the more inclined he felt to press his luck. Way he figured it, it was a way to test what kind of a leader they were. If they caved in, he would adjust; if they merely barked, he would push until they bit; and if they bit, he wasn't entirely sure what he would do. He had only met one officer who had bit, and he still felt bruised after the beating she had given him; but after the fact he knew where he stood, and felt a drive to move past it. He likened it to corny old shows where the hero would lose early on to the villain of the day, then rubber band back, better than before. To that end, he didn't mind people contributing it to his immature nature; from time to time he did get tired of being called a moron, though. He'd spent too many sleepless nights getting his degree to accept having his intelligence insulted.

Roughhide grumbled quietly in annoyance, muttering "The more hot air you blow the sooner your balloon will burst," without taking his eyes off the clearing. They waited for a few more moments, before the Drathonian signaled with a clawed hand that they should head forward. Without another word, the group began to move forward in a practiced formation, Niall staying near the back and keeping an eye on things as the others made their way forward. From two other spots, just as predicted, two other squads came from entrances to the clearing, and headed forward. Despite the care with which the squads had begun their movements, it seemed that they had been noticed, as if they were being watched. The heat signatures in the nest began to move, and soon the creatures began to spring forth from their presumed abode.

Quite a few of them came, much more than anticipated, and they ranged in size from the large ones they had encountered earlier, to smaller ones that could best be described as juveniles, all making their ways outward from the nest. It seemed they were not just coming from the nest itself, but also from underground below the nest. The Republic marine squads began to fire as the numbers of creatures rapidly increased- Apparently it hadn't been the best of ideas to disturb the nest.

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