"Platoon Three! Fall in!" Corporal James yelled with a bullhorn as the recruits charged out of their barracks and formed up into rows of three with the tallest man as the right marker. The platoon consists of 28 recruits dressed in long-sleeved grey utilities, camouflaged pants, and boots.
The quartermaster nearly had a stroke while trying to outfit the entire training camp, but he managed to pull a miracle by having the fabricators run overtime to produce all the materials needed for all the recruits.
He had all the crew scrape up all the unwanted pieces of clothing and cloth scraps, before having the fabricators recycle the materials into uniforms for the recruits.
It was 0500 hours, local time, another 15 other platoons have also formed up in the massive parade square and stood in attention in the cold winter morning.
It had been two weeks since they started boot camp and the elves are slowly shaping up. After the morning reveille, the platoons began their morning workout routine with five basic exercises before moving on to a 5km run around the base.
All the elves were used to running while carrying heavy shields and wearing heavy armor so they made quick time with the run. After the run, they rested for a while before heading to the cookhouse for their breakfast.
Lieutenant Frank stood on the top floor of the administrative building of Camp Alpha with Staff Pike, watching the recruits finish their morning run. "Well, physically and mentally the elves are pretty tough." He said, watching the recruits from the frosted windows.
"Yes, the only problem now is teaching them how to think and react to orders," Pike said, "The shipment of the rifles will be arriving tomorrow. The instructors had all familiarised themselves with the handling of the new weapon."
"Great, how about ammunition for the weapons?" Frank sat down on his desk, powering up his computer.
"Over 25,000 black powder rounds produced by the autoloader. Current production is at 9,000 rounds per week as long as we have raw materials. Production will ramp up once a second autoloader is produced by the workshop's fabricators." Pike read off the report in his tablet. "We will also be issuing the men with sword bayonets."
Frank nodded from his desk, "Another eleven weeks before they graduate from the course. Bringing our manpower up to another five hundred bodies."
"448 to be exact Sir, if everyone passes out," Pike replied. "We probably will lose 10% due to injuries or other reasons. So roughly 400 will make it through."
"Pick some of the ones with potential to be instructors, once this batch completed their boot camp, prep the next batch of recruits," Frank ordered, "Quartermaster Chen will have plenty of time to cook up the next batch of uniforms and equipment for the intake. And also the workshop's should have enough time to produce more rifles." Pike nodded, gave a salute and left the office.
"400 to hold the Pass against half a million," Frank muttered to himself as he started his work. "Damn, we are lacking everything!"
Recruit 'Bigfuck' Arven sat with the rest of his platoon in an outdoor training shed, ignoring the cold winter air against his shaved head as he stared raptly at the thunderstick, Corporal James was holding up in his hands. "Alright, now is the best part of being a Marine! Guns!"
The rifle was made out of local wood, finished in a dark brown luster. To the elves, it looked like a thin elongated crossbow, without the bow arms, with the wooden handguard almost as long as the metal barrel ending off in a blunt nose.
"This is called a rifle, not a thunderstick, magic stick or wanking stick. As you have learned in your classes, this here is a bolt action rifle." James displayed the weapon to the class. "This is the M1 bolt action runelock black powder rifle also known as the 'Magelock rifle', as it uses both magic and technology to work together."
"It weights at 4.19kg, with a length of 1.1 meters long, and a barrel length of 60 centimeters. It has a polygonal rifling inside the barrel, which helps reduce the fouling and also makes it easier to clean." James paraded the rifle around the class, "It has an integrated 10 round box magazine just in front of the trigger guard. It has a rear sliding ramp sights allowing the shooter to aim up to 500 meters away. It has an effective firing range of up to 730 meters and a muzzle velocity of 621.8 meters per second."
"For those who did not listen in class, muzzle velocity means how fast the projectile exits the barrel and flies straight at you!" James added to the benefit of those who were looking confused.
"Why is it called a bolt action runelock?" James asked the class, who returned blank faces back. "This here is the bolt, which requires you to manually pull back to eject the round inside and chambering a new round." He pulled the bolt back, showing the class the opened bolt, and points inside. "This here is fire rune, by pulling the trigger, the hammer hits the rune, like the old ancient flintlocks, thus it is called a runelock."
Seeing the confused faces of the elves, James further explained patiently, "In the days of old, flintlocks were the ancestors to our modern guns. Flints were used to ignite the black powder and this M1 Magelock uses runes to fire."
"The M1 Magelock is reloaded using stripper clips of five rounds each," James held up a five round clip of 6.5 mm. "Align the rounds downwards in the opened chamber and push the rounds down firmly. It can also be reloaded by single rounds of ammunition."
"Moving on, here is a bayonet lug," James points to a ring-like device near the muzzle. "You attach the Type 1 sword bayonet to it." He picked up a 40 centimeters long single-bladed short sword with a straight handguard from the table and inserted the bayonet on to the rifle.
"Now, you have a long spear." James demonstrated a few bayonet thrusts and sweeps with the weapon, much to the elves' appreciation.
James removed the bayonet and continued, "Now I will call out each recruit's name, you will be issued with an individual weapon each, memorize your weapon's serial number!" James glared at the recruits, "Treat it like your wife or your girlfriend, make sure you do not lose your weapon!"
"Now, Recruit Bigfuck! Front and center!" James commanded, reading from a list of names. "Recruit Alphabet!!
Soon the whole platoon was issued with a magelock each, they spent the next few hours learning about the parts of the weapon, how to strip and clean the weapons. The elves acted like children in a toy shop, mock firing and play acting with the weapons as they sat in the training shed, ensuring that the rifles are cleaned.
After that, they run through a few rifle drills, as they had practiced rifle drills days before with wooden mockups, they only had an accident when one of them dropped his rifle and the platoon was punished for that, doing fifty push-ups.
The next day after breakfast, after they drew their rifles from the armory, they stood in attention in perfectly aligned rows on the parade square with the entire batch of recruits, dressed in full battle order, gripping their new rifles tightly.
The elves wore a steel 'coal scuttle' helmet printed in blue-grey camouflage, a black 'H' harness with pouches for equipment and ammunition, sword bayonet attached to a sheath on the harness, completed with blue-grey digital camouflage battle dress uniforms.
"Damn, they look smart," Captain Blake who stood with the princess on the reviewing stand said.
Princess Sherene nodded and smiled charmingly, giving a wave to the formed up recruits. "They feel different too."
"They are the future protectors," Captain Blake said, avoiding eye contact with the smiling princess, "Ahem, well, it's good for their morale to see you encouraging them here."
"Really?" Princess Sherene excitedly turned her head, focusing her large pretty eyes on Blake, who quickly turned and to look at something else.
"Damn..." Blake cursed softly, he was sweating even in the cold winter air.
"Now, Recruits! Repeat after me!" Staff Sergeant Pike stood at attention in front of the battalion of elves. "You will repeat the Rifleman's creed after me."
"Sir, Yes Sir!" The battalion replied loudly.
"This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine."
"My rifle is my best friend. 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 my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me."
"I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other."
"I, hereby swear, before the flag, that I will be brave, honorable, discipline and vigilant."
"I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life."
"So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace."