Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 77

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LXXVII

Richard’s training suit locked up. He had just experienced the shortest session since they had started. As Richard’s body tilted over and hit the floor, the timer hit ten seconds. The first nine or so of those had been getting to cover and scoping out possible danger points. Richard turned to look at Susan, lying next to him, with a quizzical look.

She just shook her head. “I don’t know what happened either. That was completely unfair. I didn’t even hear anything. Not even gunshots.” She paused. “Felt something though.”

Richard nodded. He felt something too… but that was as far as it went. After thinking about the match with his father, if it could even be called that, Richard almost felt that his suit just locked up on its own, instead of doing so after being hit. He knew that wasn’t the case, and after looking at the information the suit collected he saw something interesting. The suit actually recorded three killing blows- both the front and back of the neck, as well as a hit to the heart. The strange thing was he didn’t feel any pain as would be expected, as if the suit was hit while somehow not transferring the force to him. He wasn’t sure how that would happen, and he felt that it would be easier to just tell the suits that the took damage. That would just have been a pointless exercise, though, and Richard felt that his father would have just chosen not to have a match at all instead of doing that. He wasn’t sure what to take away from the match as it was, except that there were always attacks he wouldn’t be able to see coming.

—–

Richard continued to work on developing his close combat skills. This still included marksmanship, since if he could shoot someone, it was better to do so than to try to move to melee range. Richard found his melee skills were most useful in tight corridors- indoor settings. It seemed since he was the most effective in those locations, he spent the least amount of time training in those environments. On the contrary, Susan wasn’t as good in those places, so she spent more of her time training in building type environments. Both of them still got practice in many different environments, both alone and as a pair, or on a team with others.

—–

Richard looked around the current arena. He tried not to compare it to any previous layouts he had seen, because it would probably be different. He’d made the mistake of assuming it was the same and missed some slight differences that had led to enemies being able to flank him. He also tried not to think about how expensive it must be to change things around so often.

It was a sort of urban environment, but still fairly open. Sources of cover included buildings, cars, and dumpsters. Since they weren’t using live ammunition, many of the “cars” were actually made out of weaker materials that the bullets could still penetrate. However, that was to make it as close to real as possible, and all of the cars looked as close to real as they could. Richard quickly learned which types of vehicles and building materials were the most sturdy. He’d also learned that even flimsy cover could be useful. Sometimes, it turned a killing shot into just an injury, and if it prevented sight properly, you could just avoid being where the shooting was occurring. That was perhaps the biggest thing that Richard had learned throughout this whole time, was that simply not being where you could get hit was the best defense. Included in the options was not giving the enemy a chance to shoot, but that wasn’t always possible. “Any targets?” Richard asked over the comms.

“None yet,” came the reply. Richard and Susan had become significantly more concise in their communications. If they did it right, that made it both more clear and less distracting. The moment they were talking they could be attacked, or someone could hear them even if they were trying to be quiet. There were also cases where they had been put in situations where their comms were “compromised” and the enemy could hear them, so they tried not to rely on comms too much.

Though he hadn’t seen anything yet, it only took a few more moments of searching before Richard spotted an enemy. The only reason he had not yet been discovered was that Richard hadn’t been in the right place. “One spotted, four o’clock. A big one.” This particular soldier was tall and quite solid looking. That said, everyone looked solid in armor, even the relatively lighter stuff that Richard and Susan’s suits were designed to look like. “I don’t recognize the type of armor. Expect new weaponry as well.” New equipment was almost always bad. Common types of armor were like that because they were relatively good and relatively cheap. This particular type hadn’t come up in any lessons, which meant that it was probably annoying in some way, unless it was just to throw them off.

Richard heard a shot, and saw the figure run to better cover. It was unfortunate Susan had missed, since that would likely be the best opportunity. Now, he knew somewhat where she was. Richard would have followed up with some shots of his own, but he didn’t really have the angle. “Careful, he’s advancing toward your position.”

“Roger that.”

The soldier moved quickly, running from cover to cover. Fortunately, he would have to take a longer path to Susan’s position to avoid crossing an open street, which afford her some time to change positions. Except, he didn’t. He simply sprinted across the open street. Richard was so confused that he almost forgot to shoot. However, he still managed, firing a short burst into the soldier’s side, and then another for good measure. That should have taken down anybody. Except instead of going down, the soldier started sprinting faster, into the building with Susan. Richard was confused. He knew he’d hit, and even if part of the burst missed it should have taken the soldier down. Richard wondered if something was wrong with his suit registering the hits, but either way he looked around for more enemies before quickly following after the soldier. Susan would need his help.

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