No movement other than Tsu and myself. I had to swallow before sound would come out my lips, "Clear."
"Clear." Tsu-Wing sounded like fornicating frog. At least he's a wound tight over this as I am.
With the clear signal given, our rear security, Tech Kyle Andersen entered the room. He was followed by Trooper Patton, our breecher and evaluator for this exercise. She took her position by the right of the next door. We stacked up on the left in the same order. Once Kyle was in position, he squeezed Tsu's shoulder, who squeezed mine, so we could start again. We still had to find at least three more popup targetbots in this building before they popped us.
Damn Sargent Kaiser and her live ammo kill house drills.
As I introduce myself to my third beer, I listen to Tsu-Wing explain, once more, to Kyle why we Techs are being run through advanced infantry training.
"Yes, I am well aware that the Captain hired on a squad of trained infantry. One of their roles is to train us. To increase our chances of survival during a ground attack."
"But damn it Tsu! Isn't that was the Mechs are for? Captain Steele should have spent the money on more electronic diagnostics. Besides, I didn't sign on to be a grunt. I'm in training to be a MechWarrior."
"Our employers do not pay the Spartans to defend themselves. We are paid to have our Mechs take combat to their enemies. We as Techs are responsible for the Mech bays. We would be remiss in our duties if we could not defend it from attack."
"So let the grunts do it. I should be in a Mech simulator, not on a rifle range qualifying prone, kneeling, and standing."
I smiled behind my beer glass. Kyle hated that. He grew up in a Mech unit, so he knew which end the bullets came out of, but that was about it. Most of the old Harrier techs, like me, made it through the small arms quals without too much hassle. Tsu-Wing, having been raised on the Quinn Family Estate/Military Academy on Keystone, had aced the range qualifications. Tsu's family had been Quinn retainers for generations. He didn't have the aspirations of Mechwarriorship that young Kyle Andersen did.
Since Kyle caught Tsu in mid swallow, and my glass was on the way down, I answered him. "Just not enough grunts kid. We have only got nine grunts to cover a Mech Company's worth of bays, and support units. You spread 'em too thin and they will just die alone."
Since me answering caught the kid off balance, I decided to keep him there by continuing. "Trust your Uncle Ralph on this kid. Techs get caught in combat if they like or not. If you're lucky, you'll be fighting ground troops and not Mechs. That gets damn deadly right quick. A favorite commando trick is hit enemy Mech bays while the Mechs are out bashing each other. Taking out a Mech's support infrastructure will take a Mech out of combat as sure a head shot from an AC/20. Hell of a lot cheaper too. The Spartans have twice as many Techs as grunts, and we're already in the Mech bays when the fecal matter impacts the rotating air circulation blades."
Kyle leaned back and scanned Tsu and myself with his regulation Mod 1 Mark 0 eyeball, with raised eyebrow for effect, "Don't tell me you two actually like this meat grinder The Kaiser is putting us through?"
"First off kid, I suggest you don't let Sargent Kaiser or any of her squad, hear you use that particular nickname. That is unless you like additional hand-to-hand training as that squad's designated Uke. Second, listen close, because you will hear this material again. You don't have to like it. You just have to do it."
With that I drained my beer and placed the glass down in front of Kyle. "For example, as junior man here, you are required to fetch beer for grizzled Warrant Officers."
"Tsu is the junior guy! I'm older, and more experienced. Besides, I'm the XO's batman."
"Tsu's my assistant, at this table, that gives him seniority. Second, as a batman, you should be used to fetching things. Third, and pay close attention, I'm the one writing your PT fitrep this month."
For once, Kyle showed good tactical sense. He shut up, and headed toward the bar with my glass.
Author's note: The title of this story comes from Richard Marcinko's Ten Commandments of Spec Warfare. Commandment #6 is You don't have to like it. You just have to do it.