Piercing Weapon: superior (rank 2)
- Ranged Attack
Jason was no stranger to guns, even before his mother’s death. Ever since he was four years old, his parents had made a point to take him and his brother to the range often. Ian had been too young at the time and Robert didn't care much either way. Jason, on the other hand, always had a knack for weapons.
He always remembered his father handing him the small, .22 caliber rifle for the first time, helping him hold the stock properly against his shoulder. The feel of the walnut stock in his hands and his father's gentle touch, his mother watching from a few feet away with a smile on her face had always been one of his fondest memories.
"This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will. My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, or the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit."
"My rifle is human, even as I am human, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other."
"Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life."
"So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!"
Jason and his fellow Marine recruits chanted the cadence in unison, M16A2 rifles held firmly in their hands. Unlike some of the others, Redfield took the Rifleman's Creed to heart.
"Recruits, field-strip your rifles!" the drill instructor called out. Redfield and the others complied immediately. He dropped to the ground, disassembling the weapon with practiced efficiency. He finished well before any of the other recruits, going to attention without a word. The instructor in front of him approached. "What's your name, son?"
"On my mark, you will reassemble that weapon. Understand?" the man said, an eyebrow raised as he fished a stopwatch from his breast pocket.
"Sir, yes, sir!"
"Go," the drill sergeant said, clicking the stopwatch.
Once again, Jason went to work like a machine, placing each component back into its place within seconds. Having laid the rifle flat, he once again backed away and went to attention. The instructor stopped the timer, examined the rifle briefly and raised his eyebrows with the slightest of approving nods.
"I know it's not much, but I did the best I could with what I could get my hands," Daniel's tone was apologetic.
Daniel Henderson was in the business of aiding those that he saw as heroes. Jason Redfield was one such person. Daniel, in addition to being connected to the Angels of Mercy, worked for a variety of defense contractors and private security firms. This allowed him access to much of the equipment Vanguard needed. It had been an uneasy partnership given Jason's caution and apprehensiveness, but it was ultimately beneficial.
Redfield shook his head. "I can work with this. Thanks."
With interest, Jason examined the crates in front of him. They were practically filled to the brim with various firearms, ammunition, knives and tactical equipment. One was dedicated to handguns, all of which seemed to be in good condition. All were accompanied by multiple boxes of jacketed hollow-point ammunition.
Redfield paused, removing a modified, select-fire AR-15 from its case. It was fitted a mix of tan and black-colored components. Various accessories were mounted on the weapon: an adjustable stock, flip-up iron sights, holographic sight, a foregrip that doubled as a bipod, an LED tactical light and laser sight, and, finally, a flash-suppressing muzzle brake. Multiple 30-round polymer magazines, several of which were clipped together, accompanied it. A smile on his face, he placed the weapon back inside its container.
"Oh yeah, I can definitely work with this..."
Marksman: superior (rank 2)
"How far's the target?" Jason asked, sliding in behind the telescopic sight of the Remington 700.
"You don't need me to tell you that," his father replied. He was standing several feet away, arms crossed.
The fifteen-year old boy frowned, examining the distant paper target through the scope. He knew the range well as well as the distances of various landmarks. After a moment, he spoke out, his voice raising an octave in surprise. "That's over a thousand yards!"
"One thousand and twelve," Scott replied calmly. "You can do this, Jason. Remember what I taught you."
Jace nodded, taking a deep breath. He sighted in on the paper, and went silent for an entire minute. The only noise on the range was that of the harsh wind whipping past, another factor to complicate the already-difficult shot.
Wind, bullet drop, drift, elevation... all of these factors and more raced through Jason's mind as he slowed his breathing. He began to apply pressure to the trigger, going for an even pull...
The rifle spat out the .308 caliber round with a thunderous crack, the muzzle blast sending dirt spraying to either side. The bullet traveled for roughly two seconds before reaching its destination.
Jason's father was already looking down the spotting scope in front of him. Slowly, he rotated his head to look at his son. A smile appeared on his face, followed by a nod.
The teenager grinned, working the bolt to eject the spent cartridge.
"Nice shot. Now let me see you do it again."
The words of his father filled his mind as Jason took aim, looking down the sights of the M16A2.
"Squeeze the trigger, don't pull. Remember: speed is fine, accuracy is final..."
He squeezed the trigger, the rifle kicking lightly in his hands as it sent the bullet downrange.
Marine marksmanship qualification. Unlike a few of the other recruits, Redfield was not nervous. The lessons of his father and of his instructors had honed his skills well.
Several minutes later, Jason and his drill sergeant stood next to Redifeld’s bullet-riddled target. The latter counted the holes, tallying up Jace's score on a clipboard.
"I'll be damned, Private. We may just make a killer out of you yet," the instructor spoke with a sincerely impressed tone as he tallied up Redfield's score. "Looks like you qualified as an Expert. 350 points -- perfect score."
The woman's screams echoed loudly throughout the warehouse as the masked man grabbed her by the throat.
"Sorry, looks like your luck's run out, darlin'. Your husband ain't paying up. And you're a liability," the man said before pulling a pistol from his waistband.
His comrades surrounded him, weapons in hand, as they looked on blankly. The leader placed the barrel to the victim's forehead, his trigger finger tightening.
He didn't get any further before a hole appeared in the side of his head, blowing blood, skull fragments, and brain matter out the other side. Instantly the body went limp, falling to the ground in a heap.
His comrades panicked, aiming and firing their weapons wildly only to be cut down by relentlessly accurate and deadly gunfire from the darkness. The warehouse became a symphony of echoing gunshots and a light show of muzzle flashes filling the night.
The last of the kidnappers scrambled behind the chair the hostage was tied to, holding a shaky gun to her forehead as he huddled behind her. His wide eyes scanned the shadows for any sign of the attacker to no avail. "I'll kill her! Come out into the light or I swear to God I''ll--"
He was cut off as another thunder-like crack rang out, his body going limp and dropping to the concrete with a thud.
The entire firefight had ended in less than sixteen seconds. Had the woman not been blindfolded, she would have seen a man -- clad in ballistic protection and tactical gear -- emerge from the darkness, smoking rifle in hand.
Reaction Speed: standard (rank 1)
With each command that Scott yelled, his son would respond with a double-tap to the human-shaped target in the distance.
Jason's aim snapped to the designated target with the speed of a snake strike, two bullets in the target in less than a second and a half. The boy dropped the magazine out of the pistol, fetched another from his belt, jammed it into the weapon, and chambered a round just as quickly.
"Hey, I got money riding on this one, Red," one of Jason's squad mates called out from amongst the crowd. "Don't let me down now."
It was an impromptu between Redfield's squad and their "rivals". Each unit picked their quickest shooter for a head-to-head competition.
"Alright," the sergeant announced. "The two of you will step up to the firing line, in front of the rifle. On my go, you'll grab the rifle, load, and fire all of the rounds into your target. Semi-auto only. When you go dry, load in another mag. Whoever gets their second mag in and a round chambered the quickest gets bragging rights," the NCO finished with a smirk. "May the best Marine win."
The Marines cheered, pushing Jason and his opponent toward the firing line. Redfield approached his designated M16, two loaded magazines sitting beside it.
"Shooters ready! 3, 2, 1, go!"
Redfield snatched the weapon from the table with his left hand, his right bringing the magazine towards the mag well at the same time. The magazine found its mark, and he chambered a round. He sighted in on his target quickly, his trigger-finger going to work. To a casual observer, it sounded like full-auto, rather than semi-automatic fire.
Jason counted the last round and went to reload. His left hand was already guiding the second magazine toward the weapon before the first even fell free of the rifle.
After chambering a round. Jace called out, "Done!"
His squad mates let out a furious howl of applause as he set the rifle down. Turning to look at his obviously disappointed competitor, Jason saw that the competition had been a close thing. His adversary was fast, but not fast enough.
"It's alright, I'm here to help," Jason said quietly as he approached the bound woman, reaching to untie her from the chair.
The blindfold fell away, and she looked upon her masked rescuer. Speechless, she looked over his shoulder, spotting another armed thug emerging from a side room. Before she could even think to warn the hero, he pivoted on his foot, drawing the Glock and firing two shots in the space of a less than a second. The criminal fell over with a nary a yell of pain.
Satisfied, Redfield nodded to himself before holstering the weapon. He could hear sirens in the distance -- his work here was done.
Shaping The Battlefield
Tactician: standard (rank 1)
Scott crept through the woods, careful not to crunch leaves under his boot. He held the weapon tightly in his hands, hunting for his target before it found him. The experience was uncomfortably similar to his time in Vietnam. But the gun in his hand was no M16, and he wasn't hunting the Vietcong. Instead, he clutched a BB gun, and the target was his teenage son. The two had embarked on an unorthodox camping trip and training exercise.
Each would begin at different points in the thick, hundred-acre forest that bordered the property. Then, they would track one another, with whoever scored the "kill shot" on the other first emerging victorious.
The "exercise" had been going on for over twelve hours. Scott hadn't found a single trace of Jason until just recently. A set of tracks in the mud, likely made by his son's boots, had given him the clue he needed. Following them for several minutes, they led him to an incline in the distance. Hiding amongst the trees, Scott removed a pair of binoculars and examined the top of the incline.
He saw a vaguely human form, clutching what looked to be a BB rifle, lying atop the hill. It was a good position, with plenty of visibility of the surrounding area. Nonetheless, it was a somewhat sloppy move. Scott took the long way around, through the thick cluster of trees surrounding the hill so as to climb up and approach from the rear. The path was all but hidden from view and would give him an easy route to ambush Jason. Fifteen minutes later, having ascended to the top of the hill, Scott crept forward, toward the form of Jason lying prone on the ground. He could see the telltale jacket and boots, the ones his son always wore.
He brought the BB gun up, aiming, trying to minimize the sound of BBs rattling inside the gun. The lever had already been cocked. Scott pulled the trigger, a crack resounding as the BB struck his target. There was no movement, no yell of pain.
In an even voice, he announced, "Bang. You're--"
He felt the sharp pain of the pellet striking him in the side and heard the pop of another B.B. gun going off from thirty yards to his right. A lone tree stood. Squinting, he saw Jason leap out of the thick branches, pellet rifle in hand. He only wore cargo pants, a T-shirt, and socks. A smile was on his face as he opened his mouth to speak.
Redfield's mind worked rapidly as he scoped out the situation. The mocked-up town and surrounding tree line was filled with the sounds of blanks being fired and soldiers shouting.
He was at Ranger School, one of the most rigorous and respected combat leadership courses in the entire U.S. military, if not the world. Aware that the instructors were watching his every move, evaluating him, he made a decision.
"Barnes! Take your fireteam; take position in the house to the left and hit their flank with suppressing fire. Adams, your guys are on point. Draw their fire but stay in cover. Everyone else, stay on my ass! We're hitting their right and pushing for the target building! Let’s move!”
The team moved, executing their assigned actions to a tee. The OPFOR had been heavily entrenched, but they were slowly whittled down, overwhelmed by the three-pronged assault.
Within minutes, Jason's unit had taken the simulated town, with no casualties throughout the entire platoon. The Marine spared a look at one of his instructors, who looked up from his clipboard and gave him a nod.
Vanguard looked over the situation from his vantage point atop the roof. Khazan City police officers were pinned down by the masked gunmen following a botched heist. The cops were outgunned, forced to take cover behind their cruisers and fire only for short periods before the incoming bullets sent them back into hiding.
Jason picked up the fallen police radio, raising it to his mouth. “This is Vanguard. I need you officers to do exactly as I say. I'll get you out of this in one piece. In..." Redfield paused, "fifteen seconds, I need you to empty your magazines in their direction. Suppress those gunmen. I'll take care of the rest."
After a pause, the radio crackled to life. "Who is thi--" Jason dropped the device, moving into position. The dumbfounded officers did as they were told, albeit at twenty seconds.
The gunmen ducked behind their cover as the intense wall of fire came their way. They never even noticed the figure moving up behind them. As the criminals went to return fire, a voice spoke up from behind them. "Hey!"
The first was pistol-whipped in the head and acting as a human shield before he ever managed to turn around. His comrades went to fire at the vigilante, only to be cut down by 9mm rounds.
The officers heard the sudden burst of gunfire, followed by silence. By the time they moved in with backup, only bullet-ridden corpses and an unconscious gunman remained, shell casings littering the ground.
Pain is Temporary
Iron Will: standard (rank 1)
"Keep moving, Jace. Faster. Faster," his father's insistent voice rang in his ears from what seemed like mere inches away. The man never seemed to get breathless, even during the hike they were on right now. Jason had been moving at a constant jog for two miles, a forty-pound pack strapped to him. He was near the end of his hike-- the hilltop "finish line" was in sight. The terrain was steep, to say the least. His chest burned, his legs ached, and his breathing was rapid.
"C'mon, you can do this! Get moving!" Scott yelled, and Jason complied, a second wind giving him a burst of speed. As he rushed ahead, his foot suddenly dropped, caught in a pothole hidden amongst a pile of leaves. He fell flat on the ground, his sprained ankle flaring up and throbbing with pain. He sat up carefully, examining the foot with a grimace. His father approached, looking down at him.
"Are you okay?" he asked, concern filling his voice.
Jason nodded, with determination evident in his gray eyes. He stood, grunting with the effort. Turning away from his father, he began to hobble, slowly at first, but gradually picking up speed. His ankle throbbed in protest with every step, but he ignored it. All that mattered was the top of the hill.
The day was sheer hell for the recruits, and it was no different for Redfield. It was undoubtedly the most difficult day of Marine Corps training yet: he and his fellow Marines had jogged with full rucksacks for several kilometers over rough terrain with temperatures in excess of ninety degrees. They had been pepper-sprayed and forced to spar with one another as well as the instructors in hand-to-hand combat while the chemical burned at their eyes and throat, making something as simple as breathing an excruciating task. The fact that they were being pounded with training batons didn't help the matter.
But like the others, Jason endured. Just as he had in the years after his mother was killed. It was like his drill instructors said: "Pain is weakness leaving the body."
And as far as Redfield was concerned, weakness -- like pain -- was only temporary.
Jason took the punch, being sent cleanly off of his feet and to the pavement. He grunted with the impact, sure that his ribs were cracked at the very least. The superhumanly strong villain stood several feet away, cracking his knuckles. An arrogant smile was plastered on his face. As far as he was concerned, the fight was his. The smile was replaced by a look of incredulity as the vigilante stood, slowly, an arm resting on his torso. Finally, he drew his hand back, revealing a knife. He charged.
The villain swung, a haymaker that would have shattered Vanguard's skull. Redfield saw the punch coming, ducking under it to send all of his momentum into his opponent's body, stabbing with the knife once, twice, three times, more. Blood sprayed as the villain staggered backwards, clutching at the cluster of bleeding holes in his chest before falling to the ground.
Jason cleaned the blood from his blade, sheathing the weapon before turning to stagger away.
Armor: standard (rank 1)
"So this is it?" Jason asked, examining the armor laid out in front of him. It looked like standard ballistic protection: a vest, helmet, shoulder pads, and more. Daniel had been ranting on about it for days: the miracles of carbon nanotube armor. Supposedly lighter and more flexible than Kevlar, but with four times the strength.
"Yep," Henderson replied simply. "Feast your eyes on Aegis."
Jason picked up the vest, getting a feel for it before strapping it on.
"It's so light," Redfield remarked, twisting and stretching.
"Yeah, it's only in the experimental stage right now, so protection isn't quite what we expect for the later versions. But we've got the lightness and flexibility down pat," Henderson spoke with pride.
"Speaking of which, what exactly can it stop?" Jason asked.
A wicked grin appeared on Daniel's face. "Why don't you see for yourself?"
For the fifteenth time, the pistol bucked in Jason's hands as he fired a round into the vest, which had been placed on a block of clay. Holstering the weapon, he and Daniel strolled over to examine the vest.
Removing the garment from its post, Daniel turned the vest over and laid it on the ground. Not a single round had penetrated. Looking at the clay, Redfield saw that the dents from the blunt force of the bullets were quite small. An idea formed in his mind as he turned the vest back over, drawing a knife from his belt and stabbing downward into the armor. Once again, the same result. The tip simply stopped upon meeting the fibers.
Jason nodded with satisfaction. "Not bad. Not bad at all."
One Mind, Any Weapon
Martial Arts: standard (rank 1)
Jason pivoted at the hip, driving off his back foot to put more force into the fist that he sent slamming into the punching bag. The bag shook, swaying back and forth. He followed up with several more punches, mixing in several elbow strikes in a barrage of blows.
"Remember, it's not all about punching. Especially when your target's fighting back," Scott admonished him, indicating his raised fists. "You have to be ready to grapple and go to the ground. Use anything that will give you the advantage. Don't be afraid to strike him in the groin, the throat, or the eyes. When your life is on the line, there's no such thing as rules, honor, or a 'fair fight'..."
"Okay, Redfield, you're up," the Marine Corps martial arts instructor nodded to Jason.
As Jason stepped onto the mat, another instructor, a black belt around his waist, approached. Jason knew that in his civilian life, his opponent was a professional kickboxer -- a fact that became painfully obvious for most of his Marine sparring partners. Both were wearing protective gear -- it was to be a full-contact match.
Jace walked forward, fists raised. His adversary approached, sending out several punches that Redfield identified as feints, easily batting them away. Then, without warning, he rushed Jason, sending out a barrage of full-power strikes. The recruit took a nasty hit to the face, his head snapping back before he put his guard up, successfully warding off the remainder of the blows.
His opponent, evidently hoping to catch him off-guard, initiated a round kick, pivoting and sending his foot at the side of Jason's head with almost blinding speed. Redfield reacted on instinct, catching the foot under one arm and hoisting it upwards, putting his adversary off-balance. With his other hand, he sent a vicious palm strike into the man's torso while simultaneously sweeping his remaining foot out from under him.
The instructor fell to the ground in a heap, the Marines on the sidelines letting out whooping calls of inspiration for the recruit. Jace dropped his weight on top of the man, going into a full mount. Before he could take further action, he saw his adversary pull something from his belt. The foam training knife flew towards his neck, and Redfield reacted once again -- grabbing the hand holding the blade at the wrist and wrenching it away. Taking hold of the arm in his own, he dropped backwards onto the ground, wrapping his legs around the man's bicep.
The instructor attempted to wrench out of the hold to no avail. The other trainees were nearly hysterical, hollering and jeering. Jason pulled on the arm, applying some leverage, not to mention a bit of pain.
"Tap or snap, sir!" he called out.
Finally, the man submitted, tapping Jace on the leg twice. The trainee stood, helping the instructor to his feet as the other Marines rushed forward to congratulate him.
The thief ran, sound of police sirens seeming to bear down on him. He still clutched the bloody knife in his hand as he sprinted down the sidewalk, ducking into an alleyway. The flashing lights and sound of a car motor announced the police cruiser rolling towards his hiding place. He huddled behind a Dumpster, praying, his fists tightening around the knife in his hand. A brilliant light illuminated the alleyway as the cruiser rolled slowly by.
Then, just as quickly as it had come, it was gone. Letting out the breath he'd been holding onto, he slowly crept out, back onto the sidewalk.
"Nice try," a voice rang out from the darkness behind him. He turned to see a man -- well over six feet tall with an athletic, muscular build -- dressed in tactical gear. A balaclava masked his face, and a pair of tinted goggles hid his eyes. He held a Glock, which was pointed squarely at the man's chest.
"Get the hell away from me!" the criminal yelled his voice cracking as he raised the knife in shaky hands.
Vanguard raised one hand, "Hey, relax. I need you to make a real smart play here. Put the knife down and turn yourself in. Trust me, it's preferable to the alternative."
"I didn't mean to stab the guy... I don't even have the money," the thief stuttered in protest.
"Whether you have the cash or not, you stabbed a man. He might not pull through. I'm not gonna let you walk away. Now put the blade down," Jason's voice was firm, despite being muffled by the balaclava.
The man, sweating profusely, shook his head several times, looking to the sky. Finally, he replied, "You put the gun down first."
Redfield shrugged. "All right. Here," the former Marine slowly and deliberately placed the Glock on the sidewalk, taking a step away from it.
That's when the criminal made his move -- he didn't surrender, he didn't dive for the gun, he didn't even make a run for it. Instead, he let out a bestial yell and charged Jason, knife in hand. He moved with the speed known only to the truly desperate. But Redfield moved quicker. Years of training in Marine Corps and Army martial arts, Krav Maga, and grappling had seen to that.
Vanguard caught the man's wrist, jerking it violently to one side. Bones fractured as the thief fell to his knees. Surprisingly, the mugger still had the presence of mind to reach for the Glock with his free hand. Jason, still holding the thief’s other hand, stepped forward thrust the tip of his knee into the man’s gut, forcing the air from his lungs. Before the man could even register the pain of the strike, an elbow landed squarely across the side of his cranium. His head recoiled brutally to one side, slamming against the asphalt as he was rendered unconscious.
The thief awoke to find the vigilante gone -- replaced by red and blue lights -- his hands and feet zip-tied together as the police moved in.