Author : Jeremy M. Hall
“Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen of Third Platoon, Alpha Company, Harod’s Harriers, ” Sergeant Major Clarkson intoned, “you have become the official guinea pigs for the outfit. If you look at the table in front of you, you will notice that there is a new weapon. This weapon will hopefully become your next best friend. You have permission to pick up the weapon and carefully examine it. One of the first things that you will notice is that there is no ammo clip and only one outlet. That outlet leads to a nanofactory, which will turn anything into a projectile. Our illustrious leader has decided that you are going to field test these on your next mission. Briefing is in ten minutes.”
Like most missions that Harod sends her troops on, it didn’t take long for it to go up the “shit creek,” even though it was a simple convoy escort mission. Third Platoon was Tail End Charlie, following the client’s last vehicle from the mission approved distance; in some ways it’s the worst position because you have to watch front, sides and back. Something jumped into the midst of the convoy, bounced up in the air, and exploded.
“Bouncing Betty!” the driver screamed, skidding to a stop next to the remains of a damaged vehicle. Third poured out of the transport, setting up a perimeter around the wreckage amidst the onslaught of the ambush precipitated by the bomb.
They looked at their guns stupidly as nothing happened when they pulled the triggers.
“You have to load them, Dumbasses!” Clarkson yelled over the din.
There was a collective “Oh!” as Third scrambled at the ground, picking shit up off the ground. Dirt, rocks, sticks, debris, and anything else at hand were shoved into the barrels of the new-fangled weapons. The troopers were immediately rewarded with a green light, and they did what they were trained to do: shoot anything that moved outside the perimeter, with spectacular effect. The streams of bullets were different depending on what was shoved in the barrels, with metals giving off a nice green, also taking on armor-piercing characteristics; carbon based matter rewarded a purple projectile, but also doing much better as anti-personnel rounds; silicates created a yellow round, but wasn’t as good as metal or carbon rounds. Third quickly started experimenting with materials.
What had started as a simple ambush became a pitched battle. The enemy poured more and more troops into the area, trying to destroy the Harriers, as they tried to recover the injured and supplies from the damaged vehicles, as per the contract. While the Harriers had always exercised good firing discipline, something every infantryman faces during protracted engagements is the shortage of ammunition. Except for Third Platoon; if anything they were having fun at the expense of the attackers.
“Hey Bucher! Watch this!”
A stream of fire belched from the end of Migola’s rifle, streaking out and setting an ambitious ambusher on fire.
“What in the Hell did you load in that thing?”
“Finally have a use for rations.”
“Which one was it?”
“Remind me to re-label those as ammunition. They were inedible anyways.”
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