the platoon

Story 215: Cultural Exchange

The human steps onto the station from her shuttle, and walks into the scanner.  It flashes - no weapons.  I pity her, though there’s nothing I can do for her.  By tomorrow she will be a slave the same as me; the Gaunvans collect ambassadors like trophies.
“Hello there!  Amanda Thorn, ambassador for the Empire of Humanity.  You’re a Ixian, correct?”
Mimicking human body language, I nod my head.  "That’s correct.  Ix Malasan.  It is an honor to meet you.“
She smiles, reminding me again that she has somehow modified herself to breathe atmosphere suited to the Gaunvans rather than wear a respirator like myself.  Other than that she appears to be a standard human, something I am led to believe is less and less common as they pursue the bizarre compulsion humans have to alter their bodies.  Changing hair color, adding pigments to their skins in patterns and pictures, growing long tails or ears that mimic other species from their planet.  No other known species tampers with their bodies like this.
“Not to be undiplomatic, she says, "but the Gaunvans enslaved your people.  Why are you here?”
“We… reached a mutually beneficial agreement.  We would have lost in combat and been eliminated, so we chose to preserve what we could of our culture.  The Gaunvans are not naturally skilled at diplomacy, so they bring me along to assist and to show that peace can be made.”
She nods.  "Understood.  I can respect that choice.  How much freedom do you have, personally?“
Smart of her, to start planning for her future. "A fair amount.  I have free reign on the ship when we are in transit.  At the homeworld I have reasonably comfortable quarters.”
“Have you ever met the Empress, or…?”
“Oh, no.  No, while on the homeworld I am confined to my chambers - but they’re quite spacious.”
“Shame.  Okay, plan ‘A’ then.  Let’s get this over with.”

Despite my attempt at encouraging diplomacy, the Gaunvan commander starts with threats.  I don’t know why I bother.  He looms over the human, chitinous plates almost black in the dim light.  His pod of six is posted around the room, for show more than for actual security since she followed orders and came alone and unarmed.  "Failure to surrender will bring the full wrath of our army upon you.  Humanity will be crushed, and wiped from the universe.“
To her credit, she looks very calm.  "We live in a post-scarcity society.  Bloody conquest just seems silly, doesn’t it?”
“It is for the glory of Gaun!”
“Well, I’m not prepared to get into a religious debate with you,” she says, “since I doubt there’s anything I can do to change your mind.  Since you’re committed to this course of action, what are you willing to offer if we surrender?”
Now he goes back on script.  Maybe I am getting through to him a little?  He talks about the benefits of being enslaved, mainly the protections for up to twelve designated culturally historical sites.  They’ve been mostly good on their word on my homeworld, though they did use the area just outside of the Hahhn Memorial as a waste dump.

She nods as she listens.  There was a part of me that was worried she would argue, because the humans are somewhat childlike.  They don’t understand the horrors of war.  Certainly they fought in the past, but the last time they had to battle was more than two of their generations ago, so these ones have all grown up coddled and soft.  They play games with each other instead, silly competitions.  They make art, and play pretend, and alter their bodies for fun.  They don’t have weapons anymore, and wouldn’t know how to use them if they did.
“Well then,” ambassador Thorn says, “this is about what I expected.  On behalf of humanity, I would like to formally reject this offer.”
Oh no.  Foolish humans.  The galaxy will miss your innocence.  The commander makes an excited clicking noise, looking forward to combat.  He reaches a blade-tipped hand towards ambassador Thorn, but hesitates as every device in the room bleats out an alert - we’ve all lost communications with the outside.

Like one of the dances humans do, she gracefully pivots around while taking his hand.  She ends up close to him and places her other arm against his thorax, then… oh gods. Gods, what… she’s ripped his arm off.  It’s not possible.  The commander is clearly thinking the same thing, staring in mute shock at his dripping limb.
“I’d like to extend a counter-offer,” she says, and flips the arm around before jamming the bladed end into his neck.  The warriors around the room are fidgeting, uncertain.  They haven’t been told to attack, and don’t want to dishonor their commander by intervening in a fight with such a small creature.  She’s still holding the commander’s severed arm in his neck, but she rotates and heaves, lifting him off the ground with it for a moment… and then his head pops off, landing squarely on the conference table.  She allows the corpse to slide to the ground, and straightens her clothes as if they aren’t covered in ichor.

I don’t understand.

The warriors, now with no orders at all, finally act.  She smiles as they come for her, I suppose because she has done her duty to send this powerful message of resistance.  She can die in peace.  Or… no… She’s killing them.  She’s smiling because this is fun for her.  Though they’re partly killing themselves; if there had been two of them, prepared, strategic, they might have prevailed.  Watching six panicked fighters get in each other’s way while trying to stop a smaller, faster, and somehow impossibly stronger foe is almost hypnotic.  At least one is killed by the stab of a friendly lance due to pure confusion.  It’s over faster than I would have thought possible, severed limbs strewn across the room.  I’ve got some fluids splashed across my clothing.  Only one yet lives, and he is retreating.  She seems to be allowing it.

She follows behind, holding a lance.  The wounded and scared warrior scurries down the hallway towards his ship, looking back behind him as he goes.  She’s just… walking.  Calm.  And for some reason I’m following.  The last Gaunvan reaches the airlock and the second he enters his code she throws the lance - throws it! - and spears him.
“Come on, we’re stealing their ship.”  She says it like this is the most normal thing in the world.
“There are thousands more on board!  Thousands!  Almost all warrior caste!”
She smiles again, and keeps walking.  I see errors on the screens that we pass, messages indicating communications have been lost.  They can’t tell anyone what is happening here.  Even the communicators within the ship are on nodes rather than being wired, so the warriors at one end of the vessel won’t be able to coordinate with the other end.  Do they even know they’ve been boarded?
“How?”

We enter the bridge after she kills a handful of other guards with ease.  They’re too shocked by her presence to act in time.  Once the door are sealed and she is working on the control systems she starts talking to me again.
“Well, you know, we do like to be prepared.”
“But you… you ripped his arm off.”
“Yeah, that was super satisfying.”  She looks at me appraisingly.  "Oh, come on.  Is it really that surprising?  You knew we were into changing ourselves, right?  Being strong enough to pop an overgrown bug’s forelimb off isn’t rocket science.“
"Your people are so peaceful…”
“Oh, sure, most of them.  But we did that, too.  Tweaked ourselves over the years to decrease aggression and some of our tribalistic tendencies, increase empathy… all stuff that can be undone if needed.  Though for a good cause even the nicest of us can squish a bug or two.”
“You bond with Ry'ling devourers!”
“Those are the big fuzzy guys that look like cats, yeah?  Those guys are adorable!  But… look, liking some things that could kill us doesn’t mean we’ll sit back and get enslaved.  We didn’t put up with it well when we enslaved each other, and we certainly aren’t going to go for it now that we’re… finally… on the same page about slavery being unacceptable.  It was, uh, a longer time than we like to admit before the last hold-outs were convinced of that one.”

I can feel the ship un-dock.  We’re moving.  "What about all the warriors on board?  They’ll break through the doors eventually!“
"Not according to this control panel here.  Take a look.”
It says there’s no atmosphere in the rest of the ship.  Life signs are negative on all but two of the warriors, presumably the only ones that got to their suits in time.  She disabled all the safety measures, somehow.  She just killed… I check the life signs readout again to confirm the number… three thousand, six hundred, and fourteen soldiers.  Wait, how is it tracking that unless… “Are communications back up?”
“Yeah, I’m calling some friends.  The military is right around the corner, so to speak.”
“But Earth doesn’t have a standing military.”
She laughs.  Not just a little bit.  She’s actually doubled over for a moment, unable to catch her breath.  "Sweet Jeebus, you guys actually fell for that?  No standing military.  Have you read about us at all?“

Three ships appear seemingly out of nowhere, and one docks with the Gaunvan vessel.  Once the atmosphere is restored we head to the airlock to meet them, and I’m surprised by an entire platoon of Gaunvan warriors.  Speaking English.
"Okay boys, send your last goodbyes!  This is in all likelihood a one way mission.  Commander Thorn!  It is an honor to see you again, and might I say you look exquisite drenched in the blood of your enemies!”
She bows to him, blushing, and then salutes the Gaunvans.  Or… humans?  Can they change themselves this drastically?
“You’ve got two holed up in here somewhere.  Bridge is clear, have the techs bring the new brain on board.”
“New brain?”
She looks at me like she’s forgotten that I’m here, and then turns back to the others.  "Men, this is our new friend Ix Malasan who has just been liberated from his captivity.  He’s going to be helping with our intel.  Malasan, yeah, a new brain for the ship.  Once this vessel is cleaned up and back in service with a new crew we’ll be able to take it over whenever we want even if all of our boys get killed.  We cooked up a really sadistic AI for it.“
"But how do you know the protocols?  This was your first contact with the Gaunvans, they’ve never lost a ship anywhere near here!”
“No?  There wasn’t a mining colony disaster two years ago?”
“But that was just an accident… and you weren’t even involved in the war yet… and…”

The faux-Gaunvans have finished boarding.  The one that was talking to them before puts a bladed claw on ambassador - commander - Thorn’s shoulder.  "You coming with?“
"Naw.  Orders said I could only come if they allow ambassadors near extremely high value targets.  Malasan here says they don’t, so I need to wait for my next mission back on Earth.”
“It would have been nice having you with us, Thorn.  Well, maybe we’ll see each other again.  Suicide mission or not, I think I’ve decided to live through it.”
“Bold choice,” she says, and kisses him next to his lower mandibles.
He nods at me, then turns back to his men. “Okay everyone, we are now officially on the job.  And what is that job?”
In unison, they start chanting.

“FUCK! SHIT! UP!  FUCK! SHIT! UP!  FUCK! SHIT! UP!”

For a moment I nearly feel pity for the Gaunvans.  Nearly.  Commander Thorn leads me off of the ship, and I start thinking about what useful information I can provide the ‘harmless’ humans.  Fuck shit up, indeed.

Creating Likeable Characters

Sometimes it’s difficult to make your characters likeable as they are tested and are pushed to further and further lengths. Sometimes they have to make hard decisions, and sometimes the pressure gets to them and they mess up, hurt another character or an innocent bystander. How can you keep them likeable throughout the whole plotline?

- Keep their motivations pure.
It almost always comes back to the heart – if their heart is pure, and that’s established early-on, the audience is more likely to root for them.

- Give them flaws – make them human.
Not every character has to have some huge problem, like an addiction or a traumatic past or a disability – if your entire cast does, it’s no problem, but it’s not necessary. But every character has to have some flaw(s), whether it’s cheating at card games because he can’t stand to lose or being too-closed minded or closing off when she gets too emotional. If your character doesn’t have a flaw, they start to come off as too perfect, too angelic, pretentious.

- Give them permission to mess up.
This ties in with flaws – if your character is inclined to make a bad decision at any point in the plot, don’t steer him away from it because “oh no he’s my protagonist and he must be Good and Whole and Pure and All-Knowing”. Let him walk into that ambush despite the sick feeling in his stomach and get half his army killed; let her rush into a confrontation with a bully and get into a fight with another girl who has a switchblade. Let your characters mess up – it shows that they’re human.

- But if your character messes up, let them own up to it eventually.
The general who killed half his army by ignoring the unease in the back of his mind might cry over their makeshift graves long after the rest of the platoon is asleep; the girl sitting in the infirmary might feel remorse for knocking her opponent’s block off. Or your characters might argue and might be stubborn and might not apologize for weeks. But let them apologize eventually. This goes back to the heart, and what the character knows is right.

- Relationships with other characters are vital.
That’s not to say a loner character can’t be likeable – but the audience’s perception of a loner character is determined by the thoughts/words of other characters. Characters all color each other and define parts of each other, just like people do to each other in real life. If your character is a jerk to other characters and other characters don’t like him (especially if the characters who dislike him are likeable), the audience won’t like him either. The character’s image depends not just on himself, but on his supporting cast.

Hope this helps! - @authors-haven

SInce I just finished Mass Effect 1 and did l i t e r a l l y every single sidequest, I’ve compiled a list of all the BULLSHIT Cerberus pulled in the first game:

  1. Allowed a full platoon of soldiers to be eaten by thresher maws (potentially Shepard’s platoon)
  2. Then captured one of the survivors and giddily injected him with thresher maw poison just to see what would happen
  3. Turned an entire colony of people into husks
  4. Released hundreds of sick, violent rachni into the galaxy by transporting eggs incompetently
  5. Lured ANOTHER platoon of soldiers to a thresher maw nest to see how they get murdered
  6. Then injected their admiral with some kind of poison and threw him in a cage with husks

By the time I’d finished the game, I was dreading playing ME2 because the thought of working with that same organization made me ill.

Predictable binch that I am, my point here is that I really need y’all to stop blaming Kaidan and thinking he’s out of line for not fucking trusting Shepard in ME2 because literally imagine that your former commander and friend (and possibly the person you loved) died in a tragic accident and you probably feel responsible for it, but you’ve had to move on for the sake of the Alliance, and then one day out of nowhere, there they are, standing in front of you - working as a Cerberus operative. You either would NEVER believe it was the same person, or you’d believe they were possibly brainwashed, or maybe you’d just think they’d straight up betrayed you for an organization that has historically ruined and manipulated human lives.

Are you honestly gonna tell me you’d abandon your moral code, your honor, and your loyalty as a soldier to your military, just because “they’re Shepard” and that’s supposed to be enough, point blank?

Cause I sure fucking wouldn’t.

[NEWS] Police Shares Update On T.O.P’s Condition And An Account Of His Hospitalization

After it was reported that BIGBANG’s T.O.P was rushed to the hospital on June 6 after being found unconscious, a source from the police has given a statement about what occurred and an update on the artist’s condition.

The source stated, “Choi Seung Hyun [T.O.P’s real name] was on standby in his platoon headquarters. Yesterday at 10 p.m., he took the prescription tranquilizer that he usually takes, and went to sleep.”

The source said that T.O.P was sleeping soundly at 7:30 a.m. the next day, and that when he was awoken for breakfast, he opened his eyes but appeared to want to go back to sleep. As it was thought that he would be tired otherwise, he was allowed to continue sleeping.

According to the source, the reports that he lost consciousness were not true. “Around noon, he was sweating and unable to wake up, so he was taken to the emergency room of a nearby hospital, where blood and urine tests and CT scans were performed,” the source stated. “There was nothing wrong according to the test results, and he reacted when his name was called or he was pinched.”

The source from the police clarified, “Also, when he was taken to the hospital, he was not carried there [while unconscious] but was assisted.” They went on to say that according to the doctors, it seems that he took an overdose of the medication that he takes regularly, although the amount he took is not known.

“He is currently not in critical condition,” the source said. “He is sleeping because there is a sleeping aid in his medication.” They added, “Once the medication is out of his system in one to two days, there will be no hindrance to his lifestyle.”

Meanwhile, T.O.P’s agency YG Entertainment told news outlet Star News on June 6 at 10:10 p.m. KST that T.O.P was still in the intensive care unit at the time.

To explain why T.O.P is currently in the intensive care unit, a source from the police said, “T.O.P is a famous celebrity whose face is well known. There has also been a controversial incident recently. It was decided that if people were to gather around, he would not be able to receive tests or treatment properly. Therefore, he was admitted into the emergency intensive care unit, where it was possible for him to be isolated.”

Recently, T.O.P was dismissed from his military service duties as he is being prosecuted for smoking marijuana.

We wish T.O.P a quick recovery.

© Soompi

So I just saw Wonder Woman

I cannot stress enough how important for girls to have good, strong, female role models. I’ve been obsessed with Super heroes since I was TWELVE and I’ve NEVER seen a female super hero portrayed in a way that captured the strength and power the hero was capable of without sacrificing the passion or the innocence of the character. My favourite female super “hero” is actually the villain Harley Quinn purely because she is absolutely fearless and she refuses to take shit from anybody without fail. She was the only female super anything that I had seen with that attitude EVER. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love Harley and she will for ever be my queen of crazy, but tonight I finally found a version of a female hero whose main purpose wasn’t to be a sexy character that the “real” hero could flirt with. The film makers stayed true to the original costume, but not ONCE did I feel like they used it to sexualize her in an unnecessary way. She was sexy, naturally, but it wasn’t forced. She never had to use it in the attempt to seduce the bad guy, men were distracted by her, but the movie made it clear that that was not her fault, she was focused on her mission the entire time and never once faltered for a boy. They just did SO MANY THINGS RIGHT by keeping everything about her focused on her being a badass rather than her being fucking gorgeous, even though she is that too. The best part about her attitude is that she wasn’t “weird” because of it, it was normal and even encouraged for her to be like that. Speaking of attitude, let’s talk blocking. She was put in so many power positions throughout the movie, it was like she refused to let anyone ever look down on her. She had the high ground in SO MANY fights, she was running on rooftops, she was getting all up an some general’s face lecturing him about honour, and this girl WOULD NOT BACK DOWN. Someone tell her to stay put and she didn’t want to? She didn’t. She went exactly where she wanted, exactly when she wanted. And then, in one of my favourite moments, she FLIPS that classic “stay here, I’ll go ahead”, line that guys had been using on her throughout the movie back onto them before running STRAIGHT TOWARDS ENEMY FIRE AND TAKING OUT EVERY BAD GUY IN HER PATH. BUT for every ounce of magnificent attitude in her body, there was AT LEAST an equal amount of compassion. She genuinely cared for every civilian, for every soldier, for every person that she met and everything she did was guided by her desire to do what she believed was right. And despite being told she was wrong, that it was crazy, that “that’s not how the world works”, she was RIGHT. I won’t go into detail, because spoilers, but she was RIGHT. She also treated everybody like they were just as important as her and HELLO THIS GIRL IS TAKING OUT WHOLE PLATOONS NEARLY SINGLE HANDEDLY, SHE DESTROYED A FUCKING TANK AND SHE STILL DIDN’T SEE HERSELF AS BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. And more on that compassion thing? She was still very capable of emotions and you could see them swirl together and twist themselves into knots as she tried to process the idea that everything may not be as she was raised to believe. However this is the first time I’ve seen a female super being feel emotions as powerfully as that and, rather than becoming useless or distracted by them, she was actually STRONGER because of the passion she was feeling. Let me repeat that HER FEELINGS DID NOT IN ANY WAY PREVENT HER FROM BEING A COMPLETE AND TOTAL BADASS. EVEN MALE SUPER HEROES AREN’T GENERALLY ALLOWED TO DO THAT. AND as for things that don’t directly relate to Diana herself, it dealt with soldiers suffering from PTSD (whom she reminded of their value and still saw them as warriors), carried a heavy theme of honour and acting on what you believe in, and it didn’t use the demeaning of men as a tactic for female empowerment. To be clear, it showcased Diana’s strength without making the guys come across as weak, cowardly, or immoral. That’s a victory for equality. I was physically shaking on the edge of my seat for most of the movie, I’ve literally spent the last 8 years of my life waiting for a hero like this, 100/10, GO WATCH THIS MOVIE.

Originally posted by diana-prince

Enlisted Ranks: Army

There’s nothing I hate more than a story that didn’t even try to get its ranks right. Why is a major giving orders to a colonel? Why is a first sergeant working with a bunch of fuzzies? Why the hell did you just call the sergeant major ‘sir’? 

Military ranks are different across the branches, but if your story features the U.S. Army, here’s a breakdown of enlisted ranks and rank etiquette. (other branches coming soon!)

Basics
Ranks in the army follow a numerical pattern, so if you’re ever not quite sure what the name of the rank higher is, you can reference them by nomenclature.
E-series: E stands for enlisted. This refers to soldiers from private to sergeant major. 
O-series: O stands for officer. This refers to soldiers from second lieutenant to general. O-series post coming soon!
W-series: W stands for warrant officer. This refers to soldiers from warrant officer 1 to chief warrant officer 5. W-series post coming soon!

In ACUs, (army combat uniform) the rank is worn in the center of the chest via a velcro patch. In class-A uniforms, the rank is worn on the shoulder.

Each pay grade earns slightly more per month than the one before it. Officers make significantly more money per month than enlisted. Time in service also affects pay, meaning a sergeant who’s been in six years will make more than a staff sergeant who’s been in three years.

E-1: Private
Most people who enlist come in at E-1 unless they were in JROTC, have a college degree, or performed some other feat with their recruiters prior to enlisting i.e. volunteer work, good P.T. scores, etc. This is the lowest pay grade and has no rank. Soldiers who are E-1s do not wear a rank. 
also known as: PV1, fuzzy (because they wear no velcro rank, there’s a patch of bare fuzz in the middle of their uniform. You can buy a patch to cover it.)
Title: Private, PV1

E-2: Private
Yes, there are two ranks by the name of private. You reach E-2 automatically after six months of enlistment. If you enroll in the Delayed Entry Program or have an acceptable P.T. card with your recruiter, you can enlist as an E-2 instead of an E-1. At E-2, you more or less have no more power than an E-1. 
also known as : PV2
Title: Private, PV2


E-3: Private First Class
The final “private” class. You reach E-3 automatically after 12 months of enlistment, assuming you’ve been an E-2 for at least four months. If you were in JROTC for four years, you enter automatically at this rank. This rank still doesn’t have much power, but may be put in charge of other privates and may assist their team leader with tasks, and on occasion may be a team leader themselves.
also known as : PFC
Title: Private, PFC.

E-4: Specialist/Corporal
The last “junior enlisted” class. You reach specialist automatically after 24 months of enlistment, assuming you’ve been a PFC for at least six months. If you enlist with a completed four year college degree, you can start out as an E-4 instead of an E-1. Specialists tend to be team leaders and may be in charge of other specialists and privates. When no NCOs are present, the senior specialist is in charge. 

Corporal, while technically the same pay grade as specialist, is actually an essentially higher rank. It’s a special rank only bestowed on those who are in leadership positions and are awaiting the appropriate time in service/time in grade to be promoted to sergeant. Corporals are considered NCOs while specialists are considered junior enlisted.  Strictly speaking corporals and specialists are the same rank, but in most situations, corporals out rank specialists.
also known as: shamshields, (specialist only) SPC, CPL
Title: Specialist, Corporal

Intermission!

Man, all of that text is boring. Let’s break it up a bit with some rank etiquette, shall we?

• Lower enlisted (E-1 thru E-4) tend to call each other by their surname regardless of rank. Even an E-1 will probably be calling a specialist just by their name. The exception is Corporals, who are considered NCOs and are referred to by rank.

• E-5 and above are referred to as “NCOs,” or non-commissioned officers. 

• NCOs with similar ranks might call each other by their surnames and will call lower enlisted by their surnames. When discussing another NCO with a lower enlisted, they will use that NCO’s proper rank. So a sergeant speaking to a PFC will say “Sergeant Smith needs you,” not “Smith needs you.” Freshly promoted sergeants who still hang out with lower enlisted might not mind their friends calling them their surnames in private, but formally and professionally they’re expected to address their senior properly. 

• Lower enlisted ranks are often called “joes,” especially when an NCO is addressing another NCO about their squad or platoon. “Have your joes had chow yet?” = “Have the soldiers directly under your command eaten yet?” 

• It’s considered inappropriate for lower enlisted to hang out with NCOs and it’s discouraged, especially in the work place. 

Are you all rested up? Great! Let’s get back to the ranks. 




E-5: Sergeant

Finally: the NCO ranks! Unlike the previous ranks, you cannot automatically rank up to sergeant. You must attend special courses and be seen by a promotion board where you’ll be expected to recite the NCO creed and have knowledge appropriate for an non-commissioned officer. From this rank on, lower-ranked soldiers will refer to you as “sergeant” and you will likely be a squad leader or in another leadership position. 

• Lower enlisted do NOT refer to sergeants by their surname unless it is paired with their rank. “Sergeant Smith,” not just “Smith,” or your private will be doing a lot of push-ups. 

• No one calls them “Sarge.” Like… just don’t do it friends. 

• Some pronounce sergeant in such a way it sounds as though the g is dropped entirely. Ser-eant, or phonetically, “saarnt.” 

also known as: SGT

Title: Sergeant


E-6: Staff Sergeant

Sergeant Plus. You probably will have similar responsibilities to an E-5, meaning probably a squad leader unless you need to fill in for a platoon sergeant. Don’t misunderstand; in lower enlisted ranks, private and private first class aren’t that much of a difference. E-5 and E-6 are a definite difference though. It is acceptable to call an E-6 either “sergeant” or “sergeant (name)” instead of staff sergeant. 

also known as: SSG

Title: Sergeant


E-7: Sergeant First Class

At this point the ranks become known as “senior NCO.” E-7 and above cannot be demoted by normal means. It actually requires a court martial or congressional approval to demote an E-7. Like, it’s surprisingly hard to demote people after this point. I once knew an E-7 who got busted with a DUI and STILL didn’t lose his rank.

Anyway, it’s still appropriate to call an E-7 “sergeant” or “sergeant (name)” instead of sergeant first class. SFCs may be platoon sergeants or in some circumstances may hold a first sergeant position. While positioned as a first sergeant, they should be referred to as “first sergeant.” Unless you work at battalion level or higher, this is probably the highest NCO rank you’ll interact with regularly, and in some cases interacting with an E-7 can be as big a deal as interacting with an E-8. 

also known as: SFC

Title: Sergeant


E-8: First Sergeant/Master Sergeant

Another dual-rank. First sergeants are the NCO in charge of a company and are usually the highest ranking NCO soldiers will interact with regularly. They run the company alongside the company commander. All NCOs answer to them and most beginning of the day and end of the day formations will be initiated and ended with them. It is only appropriate to refer to a first sergeant as “first sergeant” or “first sergeant (name).” Do not just call them “sergeant.”

Master sergeants are E-8s who are not in a first sergeant position. Typically these people wind up working in offices in battalion or brigade. It’s only appropriate to refer to a master sergeant as “master sergeant” or “master sergeant (name).”

also known as: 1SG, FSG, (first sergeant only) MSG (master sergeant only)

Titles: First Sergeant, Master Sergeant.


E-9: Sergeant Major or Command Sergeant Major

We finally reach the end of the list: Sergeant Major, the highest ranking NCO. Sergeant Majors will be found at battalion level and higher. Command Sergeant Majors are those that hold a leadership position in a battalion, brigade, etc, like first sergeant vs master sergeant. It is appropriate to refer to E-9s as “sergeant major” or “sergeant major (name).” Typically, a command sergeant major will be referred to AS command sergeant major.

In the U.S., the plural form of sergeant major is “sergeants major.” Outside the U.S., “sergeant majors” can be correct. 

also known as: SGM, CSM

Title: Sergeant Major

Now, for the most important announcement:

Soldiers NEVER, and I mean NEVER, refer to an NCO as “sir” or “ma’am.” Forget what the movies tell you; if your first sergeant is chewing you out, you do not say “ma’am, yes ma’am!” You’ll earn yourself some push-ups and some cleaning duty and probably a counseling. Do you see how under every rank I’ve provided a “title” section? That’s how your soldiers address that rank. Period. The only people who get called “sir” and “ma’am” are civilians and officers. Cannot tell you how many movies I’ve rolled my eyes into my skull because some snot-nosed private is calling their squad leader “sir.” Please cease this immediately. Thank you.

That’s all for scriptsoldier’s rank breakdown of enlisted ranks! Stay tuned for our breakdown of officers, warrant officers, and how your rank affects your standing in your unit!

Expedition to Sol2487-3 Pt.4

“This is the weirdest ride of my life” noted Xato Nexgrra. I could only consent him. Our platoon of eleven, sitting in a CARDBOX, big enough it could have been a scouting ship, attending to our incapacitated member while being carried by a foreign race’s pup, which had the size of a legitimate skyscraper, stomping through the endless plains. Each step of the tremendous creature echoed in our heads and brought us dozens of IFPS standard steps ahead. With our improvised vessel in one and the smaller vicious gazing beast - a cat, as Dr. Proaxl could tell us after touching the giant pup’s mind - in the other hand, the giant crossed the lands in an astonishing swift manner.

“So exactly how is this giant going to help us?” I asked Dr. Proaxl.
The doc, while easing Loxxar Kraes’ pain by mental attendance as best as she could, answered to me.
“It’s taking us to its home, where we will find shelter, food, medical equipment and - so all your religious deities are at our side - the support of its family. For this it would be great if we all could communicate with them. Mindtouching is really tiresome and I don’t want to translate between you as our leader and this world’s inhabitants the whole time, so… Üprrkl, how’s it going?”
The annoying Pjörecian scientist had gone silent for a while now and hatched on the task Dr. Proaxl had ordered him.
A brilliant move of her, both shutting him up and giving his undoubtedly enormous brain something better to do than analysing the non-existing chances of our survival.
“Not bad, the data you collected from the pup’s mind are feeding our intercom’s translation codes. They are fragmentary, and at first glance I would say this specimen does not understand its own language’s grammatic rules quite well - or those rules are so broken and arbitrary I for myself can’t wrap my brain around their structure - but its quite the basis. Some rudimentary communication with natives should be possible at least, until you are able to widen the database by mindtouching a - let’s say more experienced - specimen.”
“OK, then let’s try it” I said and formed with my forelimbs a funnel before my mouth. “Hey! You!” I yelled towards our ride.
“It’s name is Max” filled Dr. Proaxl me in.
“Hey! Max! Can you understand me?!”
“YE… I… UN… U…!” The roaring voice echoed in our whole bodies and stressed the intercom’s abilities.
“Maybe I should build in a filter that pitches the tune up and the volume down” suggested Üprrkl. “Wait a moment.” He manipulated his own intercom and shared the changes to the others. “Now.”
“I’ll try again, Max!” I shouted again. “We couldn’t understand you! Say something, please!”
“CAN YOU UNDERSTAND ME NOW!!!?”
We flinched under the noise.
“You aren’t too quit, you are too loud! Volume down, please!”
“Oh, sorry. Better?”
“That’s it. Good work, Üprrkl. Ok, Max, we can understand you now. How far is it to your home?”
“Why? We’re here!”

Due to the sunset and the speed, we hadn’t even noticed the sudden difference in the scenery. We entered some gigantic building and the reddish yellow light of the sun changed to the cold blue shining of electric lights. Of course this building had to be gigantic, given the fact the giant carrying us - Max – was only a pup, the house of its family must have been astronomic to our standards. It was just reasonable. But nevertheless we were struck speechless, for this building was for real taller as you could see.
Max brought us in through a huge gate – or was it a simple door? It was archaic, moving around a pivot without any means of electromotoric assistance. Then he brought us upwards by stairs into his room. Beside the electric lights there were no proofs of advanced technologies. At least those giants seemed to be far away from space travel and so they posed no threat for the IFPS for now.
“Wait here, I’ll get some food and medicine. What do you need?” asked Max, the giant.
“Something to prevent inflammation and a narcotic against pain” answered Dr. Proaxl. As a bodyless being, it was only natural for here to ignore the offered food.
So I added to her request: “Some water and something filling and easy to swallow, please.”
Max showed quite the troubled face, but nevertheless left us alone in his room. Thank Xaleates he took that “cat” with him, wouldn’t have wanted to be left alone with that.

After a short while we heard those gigantic steps approaching again, but this time it seemed to be four legs.
“Please Mom”, we heard Max’ voice from behind the door, “just promise me you don’t freak out!”
“Maxwell, I dare you, if you took in a spider or a snake, you’ll sleep in the garage tonight!”
The door swung open and a way taller giant came in, the head covered in lots and lots of those swirly filaments nearly every living thing here had – hair, as Dr. Proaxl told us.
The bigger giant glimpsed at us.
“Quick!” insisted Dr. Proaxl, “Wave one of your forelimps and bare your fangs! It’s a gesture of greetings.”
We did as she told us – but…
“AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH…!!!!!”
My eyesight went blank, my hearing broke down, my intercom went sparkling and – I admit it with disgust – I had lost control of some of my digestive organs for a moment. When I regained my senses, I found more than half of my men on the ground, struggling for breath. And even Dr. Proaxl, whose nebulous body usually shimmered in a sparkling yellow white, now smouldered in a nauseous looking green.
“WHA… THE… HE…HA…!”
My hearing was still burrowed under a constant screaming noise, but I registered the muffled rough roar coming from the gate. And through my limbs I felt the tremors of a vast approaching third giant.
Just when would this superlative end? The third one was even taller than the second, by at least two heads. And I mean their heads, not mine. It gestured to the second, the second to Max, and Max gestured to us. And all of them made those annoying roaring noises. My head went numb.
Then finally, the biggest one made a wide gesture and the noises stopped. I remember the face of that giant coming nearer and nearer until it filled all of my field of vision. Then my mind went black.

When I came to my senses again, the biggest giant was talking to a still green shimmering Dr. Proaxl, but I couldn’t follow their talking, so I interrupted them.
“How long have I…?”
“Just seconds, captain. Don’t worry.”
“Oh, you are the captain?” asked the gigantic giant. He oppressed his voice with one of his limbs and tried to be as quiet as he could. Plenty of noise still, nevertheless. “Nice to meet you.”
“This is Captain Bcao Kjuk Mrra, Leading Officer of our expedition ship, and this here is Dr. Smith, Max’ father and biologist of this planet the natives call “Earth”” introduced Dr. Proaxl.
“I apologize in behalf of my wife” began the giant. “Our voices must have quite the destructive force to your bodies. We intended no harm to you, we were just… overwhelmed by your appearance. I mean, it’s just natural, that someday, eventually, someone from out there… I mean now, that after all this time finally…” The giant began quiet, but unknowingly it got louder and louder, like a little boy who couldn’t hide his joy about a new toy. Then Dr. Smith coughed slightly and got quiet again. “Ahem… my apologies. Let’s concentrate at the task at hand. Max said, one of your group is injured?”
“Yes, Loxxar Kraes. He got wounded by a … hamster is what Max mind called it” answered Dr. Proaxl.
“Oh you encountered a field hamster? God, you’re lucky the crop’s plenty. In spring, when it’s their season and the food resources are scarce, they go savage for any intruder in their yard. Some fairly random facts the least of my people knew, but for someone in your… position… it would have been crucial intel. Ok, I see. That breastplate absorbed most of the impact. Some sturdy material you got there. The wound is… what’s that?”
“A force field to keep the wound steril” answered the misty Doc.
“Fascinating” mumbled the giant Doc.
Two in their element. I decided to leave them be. Then the giant Doc asked.
“How do you stand alcohol?”
“For disinfecting? Isopropanol should do…”
“No, no, I mean, how do you stand drinking ethanol?”
Did that monster just say “Drinking ethanol”?!?!

I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.
— 

Marie Curie:

After graduating from school at 15, she continued her education in Poland by going to underground classes (as women were not allowed to go to university) while she saved to go to Paris. Once she got there, she completed postgraduate degrees in both physics and maths in just 3 years and began her research into radioactive compounds, discovering 2 elements (radium and polonium), which were later used in treating diseases such as cancer through radiotherapy (something she literally created during the first world war for field hospitals, whilst at the same time running a platoon of mobile x-ray machines also for use on the front line).

She also won 2 Nobel Prizes (the first person and only woman to do so - she was also the first woman to ever win and the only person to ever win 2 prizes in different sciences).

I’m going to go and do my homework.

6

Victor Lundy was a 21-year-old architecture student when he enrolled in the military during World War Two, he served in the U.S. 26th Infantry Division. In 1942, Lundy was 19, studying to be an architect in New York city, but, by 1944, with D-Day planned, the Army needed reinforcements, and Lundy and his company were thrown into the infantry.

Lundy applied his drawing skills to what was around him:


#1 France. “Cracking the Zeigfried line, air raid over Germany Seen on a morning hike. “…we would see that in Normandy but also when we were in combat, at least two times, and boy, did that cheer us up on the ground.” (September 13, 1944)

#2 Part of the Atlantic Wall, Quinéville 6 men from L Co. hurt here, 6 killed. (September 21, 1944)

#3 One of the 4-men German patrol who didn’t get back. (November 1, 1944).

#4 “Pat” (T/Sgt. Patenaude) zeroing in with the 60 mm mortars in front of the 3rd platoon. (November 1, 1944).

#5 ”Shep,” D-Day’. (June 6, 1944).