Indomitable

Indomitable by W. C. Bauers Read Free Book Online

Book: Indomitable by W. C. Bauers Read Free Book Online
Authors: W. C. Bauers
several paces down the passageway before he realized that Fuji hadn’t budged. Then he turned around and threw her a questioning look.
    â€œSomething else on your mind, Samantha?”
    â€œBecause you asked, sir, yes.”
    Halvorsen noted the concern in her eyes.
    â€œThere may be more to Lieutenant Paen than either of us realize. I queued up her last fitness report. Frankly, sir, what I heard on the vid impressed me. But, and there is one, she’s locked down tight—too tightly I think—like someone who’s afraid of losing control. She may need to learn to bend or at some point she might just break. At the moment, sir, that’s my best assessment of Lieutenant Paen.”
    Halvorsen nodded and turned thoughtful. “Anything else, First Sergeant?”
    â€œBecause you asked again, sir, yes. Have you seen Victor Company’s range scores?”
    â€œYes, I have. And?”
    â€œThey’re pathetic. At least two toons of privates and PFCs are scoring subpar.” Fuji’s eyes filled with disgust. “We’re pushing our boots too fast, shortening training times, cutting through fat into bone. The lieutenant’s unit isn’t ready to deploy. She needs more time.”
    â€œYou just had to go and remind me of that. I know, Samantha. I’ve already filed an official complaint. Lieutenant Paen is going to have to make do, just like the rest of us. Ours is not to reason why.”
    â€œOurs is but do or die. I know, sir.” Fuji looked the colonel squarely in the eye. “That’s what I’m really afraid of.”

 
    Six
    APRIL 19 TH , 92 A.E., STANDARD CALENDAR, 1022 HOURS
    REPUBLIC OF ALIGNED WORLDS PLANETARY CAPITAL—HOLD
    RNS NITRO, PARKING ORBIT WHISKEY-ECHO 6
    Promise swam the tube between the shuttle and RNS Nitro. Nitro ’s bays were full-up with LACs and support shuttles, which explained why Promise was boarding through Nitro ’s fore collar instead of stepping off a gangway in one of the battlecruiser’s expansive boatbays. Swimming the tube was a mildly disorienting experience that reminded Promise more of falling down a shaft than floating through zero g between two vessels under artificial gravity. A host of emotions flooded her mind as she put out a hand along the inside of the tube and pushed off to make a course correction.
    Her newly reconstituted command was barely stitched together, the seams so weak even minor stress might tear Victor Company apart. She had more than her share of janes and jacks fresh out of boot camp and the School of Infantry. And they’d been rushed through. She planned to have words with the colonel about that. No reasonable commanding officer could expect a company full of untried, unblooded soldiers to operate smoothly in toons of five mechanized Marines, or together as a company. Not like a veteran unit could. Unit cohesion was hard-won and earned toon by toon, shoulder-to-shoulder, and hardened by training that either held true or tore apart in the close fight. But I’ve got a real problem. V Company is full of green-as-get-you-killed privates and PFCs, some with poor marksmanship scores. I can’t call them all riflemen, not yet. And it’s not just poor scores, others nearly failed the long-range portion of their final evolution. A few are borderline proficient in mechsuit combat techniques, but they were allowed to graduate anyway instead of being bumped back an evolution for extra training. The Corps may be strapped for boots, but skimping on training like this is going to get a lot of my command killed.
    As Promise neared the end of the tube, she reached up and grabbed the bar marked OVERHEAD , swallowed hard, and swung herself into RNS Nitro ’s standard gravity. Her timing wasn’t quite right, and she nearly toppled forward before getting her feet planted beneath her. The junior officer of the deck was waiting with a datapad.
    Her heels came together with an

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