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Posted on Wednesday, September 23 2009 @ 18:29:10 Eastern
"42, this is 2, be advised, WSTI is picking up a lone signature in the north treeline. How copy?" I heard my radio squak from my vest, without warning. It startled me, as I'd been sitting alone in the silence for eleven hours now. That's how life works in the towers. Sitting there all day waiting for something to happen so I can use the cool looking M4 Carbine with 210 rounds of 5.56mm NATO ammunition with an attached M203 Grenade Launcher with 18 rounds of 40mm High Explosive grenades. (weapon briefing, GR? Sure!) Nothing had ever happened, since the beginning. Today was history in the making.
"Copy, 2. Heat signature in the north treeline. I'll keep my eyes-" I'm interrupted by a thunderous crack! At the same time, a freight train smashes into my sternum. The world instantly turns sideways, into a twisted, blurred tangle of trees, clouds, and stars of every color. My arms swing lazily in front of my face as I arch backwards towards the steel grated floor of my tower.
I was talking with a friend, another SF guy just down the hall, about computers the other day. He mentioned force feedback joysticks. I told him that I knew what force feeback was. The vibration in my Ps3 controllers, or his Xbox controllers. He had something else in mind. He went back into his room, opened up his wall locker, and told me to put on what looked like a tactical vest. Never had I even heard of something like this. He told me that it would let me know when and where I got shot in the game I was playing. So, you're telling me that if a sniper pops me in the chest with a .308, I'm going to feel it? ArmA2 gets better every day! I put on this vest and let him do what he needed to do. He then gave me a hat to put on, with little devices mounted on it. TrackIR. This guy should start looking at girls.
My ears were ringing, and I couldn't breath at all. I couldn't see well enough to make out the railings a foot from my head. All I could think about was putting something between me and the trees. I strained every muscle in my body to roll over, and grabbed at the floor. I grabbed the grates and pulled myself forward, inching out of sight. I heard the radio going crazy with chatter. Other towers were calling in the gun shot. Control was dispatching mobile units to sweep the area. I heard them call in for a CPE team for a counter sniper effort. FPCON Delta and Dagger, Dagger, Dagger.
To me, vibration in my controller is enough. I don't need to feel the sting when Ric Flair slaps my chest, or when my fighter jet crashes into the water at mach two because I wanted to see how low I could fly. Obviously, the vest wasn't that extreme. But the idea, to me, was. What if there was a force feedback system so intense, it actually could incapacitate you. When we do our combat training, we have Miles Gear. It's like laser tag, but we shoot blanks and lasers. It's pretty cool. It just sucks to get shot because the beeping is constant and annoying as hell. The upgrade to that, is what we call Semunitions. Basically, you mix paintballs with gunpowder. It's pretty sweet, and actually teaches somebody the difference between cover and concealment. This vest only seemed to poke me when I'd take a hit. Yes, I understood where I was being shot at from, but nowadays, games show you anyway, be it from where the blood splatters on your screen, or a glow on the map, or something. It's a cool idea, but just got annoying to me. In a game like ArmA, it may not be so bad. You shouldn't be taking so many hits anyway, but I played Call of Duty and the damn thing wouldn't leave me alone. It's like the girl who sat behind you in school and just wanted your attention. She couldn't stop touching you.
The pounding in my chest, either from my heart racing at a million beats per second, or from the gunshot, was all I could feel. I pulled at my vest and eventually struggled it off. I frantically patted myself down, and found no blood, no holes, and no bullet. My vest didn't fare so well, however. I guess I picked a good day to do the wrong thing, though. I'd brought a big notebook with me, and do get it out to post with me, I'd stuffed it inside my vest right behind the big, blue, bullet proof plate. I found the round buried halfway through the paper. The nasty little bugger was a half an inch from killing me. Holding it in my hand made me sick to my stomach.
I pulled my vest around and pushed it around the corner, quickly throwing my helmet on top of it. I was only using an M4, but the treeline is only two hundred yards away. My M68 reflex sight is good out to three hundred, and the rifle on its own is good out to six, or seven if you're a good shot. I crept forward and set myself in between the tower wall and my ballistic gear. I squeezed the little lever on the buttstock, and extended it all the way. I'd need the extra length, given my condition. I turned the M68 nine clicks, so I could just barely see the little red dot. I let out what breath I had, and steadied myself. I knew he would fire again. After the first shot, he would relocate, and then confirm the kill. Sure enough, seconds later, I heard another shot and my helmet kicked up in the air and bounced away. I saw the flash, this time. He was already close to my front sight post. I tensed my forearm and moved the rifle as smoothly as I could. The tiny dot in front of my eyes sat cleanly on the man's chest. His rifle was leveled at me, and he was working the bolt. I flipped the selector to fire, and gently began to squeeze the trigger.
For what it's worth, the vest was badass. It did what he told me it'd do, and using the TrackIR with it, I was all the more immersed in the game. I get poked from the right, so I naturally turn my head that way. Since I had the hat on, my virtual counterpart turned, too. It was a really neat setup, but I can't imagine that thing to be very mainstream. I've never heard of it, and I can't imagine many people have. Especially seen one. Maybe in the future, they'll have simulations so real that when you take a shot in the leg, the body suit you're wearing (like a wet-suit) will shock you there or just put intense pressure there. Don't play on Legendary, though, because if you take a head shot, it'll snap your neck. How much do you think it takes to get you in the game? Do you really need a vest that pokes you? Is the vibration enough to tell you that you're about to die? If I have a little, I want it all. Give me the vest, give me the helmet, give me the gun, and let me shoot the sunnuvagun in the balls.
A 5.56mm round isn't very large. Out of the M4, it fires at 2970 feet per second. The maximum ordinate for the M855 ball round is around 6 inches. This means that the round will rise about 6 inches from my point of aim until it reaches two hundred or so yards, and then begin to fall again. The vicious little bullet zipped towards the man with no hesitance. He never saw it coming. It buried itsself in between his mouth and his nose, right in the middle. The force behind it knocked his head back like a big uppercut to the jaw. The round expanded as advertised and sent shockwaves bouncing all around his skull, turning his brain into cornbeef and hash in no time.
For the record, that girl in school that annoyed the hell out of me, is now my fiance. She's the most beautiful girl in the world and I am blessed to have been so annoyed in math class. We'll be hitched soon!
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