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It was midday. A storm had rolled in over the Mother Base of the PMC (private military company) Dark Dogs: a group without borders, ideologies, or isms, and that had no regard for gender, nationality, or race. They're heaven, they're hell, they're dogs of war. The rain was coming down hard and fast by now, but a training session was still going on: a drill instructor conducting the session to a group of around 10 soldiers. Each one was dressed in navy blue fatigues with a pair of black jungle boots. A black Bianchi M12 / UM84 holster was on each of their right thighs, with a black LC-2 Individual equipment belt with a QR (Quick-Release) silver buckle around their waist and also a black utility SPIE (special patrol insertion/extraction) harness on every one of them. The drill instructor was also wearing a two eyed balaclava. He stood before the men and women gathered there with his arms folded behind his back and a glare in his hazel eyes. The rain continued to beat down upon the base, thick dark clouds above, as each soldier before the instructor was in the middle of a grueling 200 push-up workout. The drill instructor looked over to his left to see a woman approaching the group.
"Look alive dirtbags, the boss is gonna join us!" The drill instructor exclaimed, shouting out to the group: each soldier jumping to their feet immediately to salute their boss. The caucasian woman approaching them, walking at a casual pace, stood at 5 foot 9 and had unkempt red hair parted to her left, with a blonde streak running through her hair and over her left eye, with dull blue eyes. A black bandanna was wrapped around her forehead and a lit cigarette was in her mouth. She was kitted in a pair of black jungle boots with navy blue fatigue pants, with a LC-2 individual equipment belt with a silver QR buckle and a black tank top with a pair of black fingerless gloves on her hands and dog-tags around her neck. The woman grabbed the cigarette with her right hand before dropping it to the grey metal floor: extinguishing it in a puddle. She then proceeded to stomp it out with her right boot. The woman saluted back to the soldiers. "Time for a refresher on CQC." The drill instructor spoke to the soldiers. CQC (close quarters combat) is a system of combined combat techniques which allow rapid alternation between armed and hand-to-hand combat while engaging enemy personnel. "And who better to learn from then the boss..." The drill instructor continued. "Anyone who feels like getting their ass kicked, step forward. Don't hold back, boss." With that three soldiers stepped forward to face the woman.
"We're ready boss!" They all announced, saluting. The woman cracked her knuckles before getting into the unarmed CQC stance: right leg behind the left with her left arm raised to face-level and her right kept at waist-level. The soldiers copied her stance, though theirs wasn't as poised or steady: rookies, no doubt. The first soldier moved in, he came from the left, going in with a straight jab whilst the soldier to the woman's right flanked her. Like lightning the woman moved in: grabbing the soldier's arm he went to attack with at the wrist with her left hand and delivering a swift jab to the elbow, knocking it out of place. The soldier let out a pained yell as his two comrades moved in. The woman quickly tossed him around and sent him crashing into the second soldier, knocking him off balance and sending both crashing to the floor. Just then the third soldier went in. The woman quickly countered, dodging the punch and delivering a quick jab to the face followed by a knee to the gut. She then grabbed his left arm and tossed him over her shoulder: slamming him onto the ground. By now the second soldier had already jumped back onto his feet and tried to go in for a sneak attack. It was a no go. The woman made a quick 180 degree turn and caught the punch in her right palm. With a swift elbow to the face followed by a sweep kick, this soldier was also out for the count. It was all over in under 20 seconds.
"Impressive display, boss." The drill instructor clapped alongside the rest of the soldiers. The woman meanwhile walked over to the first soldier as he laid there on his back with a disjointed arm. She kneeled down and gently took hold of the arm with both hands. She nodded once to the soldier. Snap!
"Arrgh!" The soldier yelled out again before cutting himself off and holding the pain in. The woman had put his arm back into place. "Thanks boss..." He spoke as she helped him to his feet. He moved his fixed arm around a little before saluting the woman. She saluted back. The trio of defeated soldiers went back to the rest: getting back into line. Beep, beep. The woman got a notification on the small walkie-talkie like device attached to her belt. She pulled it out, holding it in her right hand and pressed the activation button on the lower front of the device: she got the call straight to her personal radio, a nanomachine-based that allowed only the receiver to hear the message. Likewise the receiver was able to respond whilst appearing outwardly silent. After a few seconds the woman looked up and saluted the trainees and drill instructor after putting her walkie-talkie like device back on her belt. They saluted in return and then the woman turned and left.
[Mother Base Command Platform]
"Boss, you're finally here..." A voice called out as the woman walked into the central control room in the main tower of the Command Platform, the door sliding shut behind her. The man who had spoken threw the woman a towel, she caught it effortlessly with her right hand. "Storm is pretty bad out there." He followed up, folding his arms. The caucasianman stood at 5 foot 11, his eyes were blue and his hair, combed back and grown to just above his shoulders, was a pale blonde: almost white. He was around 25 years old and had a 5 o'clock shadow. He had a dark blue scarf wrapped around his neck and was dressed in a grey long sleeved t-shirt with brown fatigue pants and black jungle boots, a regular belt with a gold buckle around his waist. On his right thigh was a brown Bianchi M12 / UM84 holster which he kept his personal DY357 Magnum in.
"We've had worse." The woman dried her hair with the towel as she spoke. "What's the news, Jonathan?" She inquired.
"A new contract has come in. It's in Costa Rica. But that's not what's most important. What's most important is our client wants us to investigate the development of UMs." Jonathan informed.
"UMs?" The woman raised a brow.
"Unmanned mechas." Jonathan answered. The woman pulled up a seat, a metal fold-out chair, and sat down with the towel over her left shoulder.
"Sounds like heavy stuff, who's our client?"
"The Costa Rican government itself." Jonathan asked. "They're offering 11, 026, 600, 000 colóns... that's 20 million dollars."
"Only 20 million?" The woman pulled out a lighter and a cigarette, popping the cigarette in her mouth. She flicked the lighter open but no flame came out. "Damn it..." She closed it and flicked it open again. No flame this time either. "Grr..." She repeated the process again, but still no flame.
"I understand that times are rough for us, but I feel this is something we should investigate, Joanna." Jonathan unfolded his arms. Joanna slammed her lighter down on the metal table to her left.
"Damn it... stupid thing." Joanna grumbled.
"If somebody is developing unmanned mechas it's best we find out sooner than later: don't want any nasty surprises we haven't prepared for to pop up next time you or the men go out to a war zone." Jonathan continued. "But it's up to you, boss."
"Fine I'll go check out." Joanna sighed, putting her unlit cigarette away. Jonathan smiled.
"Good to hear, boss. You want me to ask them to raise the payment?"
"I'll stick with the 20 million, it'll be good enough for now." Joanna replied.
"Hey at least the jungle will be a good change of pace for you." Jonathan remarked.
"Africa was getting a bit dull... the local PMCs were dwindling in manpower and the conflict was dying down... and it was a bit too open at times." Joanna shrugged.
"The conflict will get going again soon enough, won't be such a dry spot for us for too long." Jonathan assured. Joanna nodded.
"Tell them we'll start our investigation tomorrow, I'll set out first thing in the morning."
"Will do. I'll have the mission briefing prepared for you by then: all the info we have and you need to know, I'll give it to you on the flight to Costa Rica." Jonathan nodded back.
[Playa del Sol Naciente]
Joanna emerged from the bushes to the south, stepping onto the sands of the beach. She was kitted in olive drab fatigues with a black knee brace on the right leg and brassards along with a black utility SPIE harness, and a black Bianchi M12 / UM84 holster on her right thigh, in which she carried a P9P tranquilliser pistol with a silencer, scope and laser sight attached. The sleeves on her fatigues were rolled up, leaving her forearms exposed though she had black, fingerless gloves on her hands. Attached to her black US LC-2 individual equipment belt with a QR silver buckle were three US M1956 universal ammo pouches, a US 1-quart plastic canteen with an LC-1 canteen cover and a M1967 nylon field pack (butt pack). Also clipped onto her belt was the walkie-talkie like device known as the ICodex and a combat knife in its sheath. She also still wore the black bandanna around her forehead. The weapon she currently had out at the ready, as she walked along, was an RCP-90. Joanna lowered the submachine gun upon seeing that the beach was devoid of human life. No hostiles in sight. Beep, beep. Joanna received a call on her radio.
'Boss.' Jonathon was on the other end. 'The research facility is pretty far inland, you'll have to make your way through the swamp and jungle, along with an outpost belonging to the local PMC to get to it. Our intel suggests security is pretty lax in the swamp, so you're biggest issue there will be the smell.' Joanna looked out towards the ocean and the rising sun. 'Of course, it's all uphill from there. I'll be in contact, radio me if you want anymore info on the mission or relative details.'
'Understood...' Joanna replied over her personal radio, though appearing outwardly silent.
"Beginning the operation now." Joanna raised her RCP-90 again and headed to the opposite end of the beach: straight for a small pathway that went into the jungle, leading to the nearby swamp.
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