Admiral Valken's Office, 4th Fleet HQ, Nepleslia Prime
The Rear Admiral sat at his desk, cursing the unending amount of paperwork that seemed to follow him around. He was alone with papers, datajockeys and a cup of hot chocolate that had long gone cold.
"Damn all this! Drei, get Private Stenton here on the double. Might as well get this meeting over with," Valken ordered the AI. Speaking to someone, anyone, even Stenton, would make a more refreshing break than the occasional trip to the washroom. He pulled up her message and re-read it. Yup, she was asking for specialist gear. He sighed.
Rita entered Valken's office, dressed in her uniform as usual and with a fair amount of spring in her step. She had been waiting for a damn long time for the admiral to call her in. "Sir." Rita said, standing at attention and snapping to a salute. She waited for him to give her permission to speak, and most likely ask her to sit, or at least be at ease.
"At ease, sit," he said gesturing to a chair, after standing and returning her salute. "Coffee, tea, hot cocoa?" he offered politely. Valken obeyed the rule of an officer and a gentleman to the tee and was disgusted with any officer who failed to meet that standard. So even if he disapproved of Private Stenton's behavioral quirks, she was still obliged to receive the same treatment he would give any other lady.
Rita was a cyborg, and with internal organs made of metal, a single cup of coffee or tea wasn't going to do anything for her. That said, she could still taste things, which made the hot cocoa her drink of choice. "Yes sir," She said, taking a seat. "Hot chocolate, please," she added, placing her hands in her lap for now.
Admiral Valken walked over to the counter where he kept his drinks. He poured a packet of powdered cocoa into an empty mug and filled it three quarters of the way with hot water from a hot water dispenser. "Milk? Cream?" he asked, turning back to look at the Private.
"Cream," Rita replied. She was beginning to get impatient, but didn't let the admiral see it. She had asked him about investing in a suit of power armor, not for a taste of the finest hot chocolate from the cocoa farms of some exotic moon.
Valken poured some cream into the mug and a plastic stirrer inside before walking back to the desk and handing it to Rita. "So, let us pretend that I only read that you wanted a meeting with me. What is so urgent that you cannot approach Sergeant Volkov or Captain Murdoch about this?" Valken asked coolly. He did not like to entertain enlisted personnel before they'd approached their immediate superiors. Bypassing the chain of command was not a practice he encouraged but as with all things 4th Fleet, standard procedures were anything but.
"I thought about the situation and concluded that neither of them had the authority to issue me what I'm asking for. With the war effort beginning to hit full swing, sir, I figured it would be prudent to waste as little time as possible," Rita responded, taking the cup from Valken and having herself a sip. [color=red][b]"I had the best intentions in mind, sir. I don't have a problem with speaking them instead, if you think this inappropriate." Valken was probably aware, from Rita's personnel file, that she had had an extremely difficult time submitting to authority prior to being put through the IPGs indoctrination program. Her current behavior made it abundantly clear that it had been very effective.
"They may not have authority but they will have insights that I do not. Sergeant Volkov has been a soldier for seven years and Captain Murdoch was a Marine before transferring to the Navy. But you still have not told me the reason for this meeting," Valken spoke like a school teacher. He'd been told that he slipped into that form of speech in the past but it was extremely difficult for him to be aware of.
"Understood. Ah... One moment." Rita reached into her breast pocket and removed a Datapad, touching the screen to bring up the backlight and look over what she'd written down. Satisfied, she handed it to Valken. The contents of the Datapad were a list of parts and weapons, some definitely not standard. The designations were nonspecific, things like "high-speed sublight engine" and "quantum targetting computer," but seemed daunting. One of the most glaring aspects was the addition of an HPAR built into the unit's arm.
The armor would clearly have to be commissioned, and the specifics of the design worked out by a third party. However, it seemed clear that the intent of the design was an emphasis on speed and firepower at the cost of armor, which was made all the more pertinent when Valken read a footnote which pointed out that Rita's metal braincase and body made her far more capable of controlling something moving at high-speeds without the inertia turning her into mush, which was certainly a fact.
"I ran this by some of the engineers in the armory to make sure it's all in order, and they gave me some help with keeping it cost-effective and, uh... Designing it. My biggest complaint with our armor is that it's intended to be piloted by people who are flesh and blood. I'm not limited by the same constraints, and I feel that others like me could benefit from this, too, maybe even be on par with the Yamataian suits."
Valken took the pad and glanced over it. "There are others like you?" Valken asked as he looked up at her. The thought of other weaponized humans made by the IPG made him uncomfortable. If there was one thing that Nepleslia ought not to have, Valken felt it was the IPG. They were just a little too zealous in their work as sadists.
"You fail to address some logistical issues. Who is paying for this? Who is designing it? Why should the Nepleslian military order a special unit for just one soldier, regardless of how special he or she may be?" he replied to the request. He had yet to be sold but he would, at least allow the Marine a chance to make her sales pitch. Because right now, he saw no reason to trouble the engineers at NAM or his own superiors with this request.
"And having served in the Yamataian military prior to our independence, allow me to say that anything the Yammies have is inferior to what NAM produces. They have a set style of combat and refuse to deviate from that style. So whatever they produce is perfect for the high speed, mobile combats they love so much. What we have is geared towards greater flexibility, withstanding large amounts of enemy fire, and, above all, putting out more firepower than the enemy," Valken added, surprised to hear any praise for the Yamataian equipment from his subordinate.
"With all due respect, sir, combat statistics say otherwise. Yamataian armor's combined field systems and aetheric technology already allow them more flexibility in the sense that the same units can be used in ground and space operations, and they're half the size of our armors and pack just as big a punch. I'm not the only full-conversion cyborg in the NSMC, sir, and anyone who is could take advantage of what I'm proposing." Rita stopped for a moment to sip some more on her hot chocolate.
"I figured that the units would be paid for by the military, of course, and frankly I think that any engineering corporation would jump at the chance to take a contract from... Us. Of course, NAM also comes to mind." She hesitated for a moment, but made it clear how she felt about the military when she lumped herself in with it. Prior to the last mission, it was clear she hadn't felt that way, but now... She would never admit it, but she'd developed a fair amount of empathy for her fellow marines.
"I felt constrained during the last mission. I spent most of my... Previous life, fighting outside of Power Armor, but I still have a fair amount of experience with it. When I was still made of meat, I didn't feel like the Hostiles resisted my movements. I do now, and I figure that other people with prosthetic bodies are the same. Power Armor is supposed to be an extension of yourself, but it actually felt... Not heavy, but bulky, like wearing ceramic plate armor. As a shock troop, I could better support my comrades, and increase the tactical options for my superiors to exercise."
Compared to her boisterous behavior during combat, Rita was uncharacteristically level-headed at the moment. There was a good chance it was an act to please Valken, of course, but it was impossible to tell.
The admiral contemplated what she had said. If anything, it made him even more against the proposal. Full-conversion cyborgs were IPG creations. No one in their right mind would go that far without a gun to their head. Which meant he was basically deciding upon a new, expensive toy for people affiliated in some way with the IPG.
"I am not yet ready to judge whether this suit is a waste of money or not. Nor am I able to judge its combat capabilities from a list of parts and components. Before I entertain this any further, I want you to sit down with Sergeant Volkov and go over, in detail, whether this is necessary and whether it will actually be of use in actual combat situations. Sergeant Volkov may have a different opinion as to your combat capabilities and potential or she may simply spot something you have overlooked. When you finish that, run it by Captain Murdoch. The man has a brain behind all that cybernetic muscle," Valken finally said.
"Yes, sir!" Rita said enthusiastically, expecting a complete rejection of her idea rather than this. She finished her hot chocolate and stood up, giving Valken another salute and standing at attention. She stayed quiet and waited for him to dismiss her.
Valken stood and saluted, "Dismissed, Private."
Rita nodded and turned around, walking out of the room with a professional saunter.
Dominic Valken sighed. Time to report to the Sky Marshall and see what his thoughts on a new unit were. More paperwork.