“Easy, kid.  Let her be.”

“Let her be, let her be?!  Captain, I’m sorry, but…  Six missions, six high-combat, critical missions, and she has fired her weapon twice.  She provides no suppressive fire; she doesn’t even try to pressure chokepoints.  I understand she’s from a high pedigree, sir, but she’s dead weight.”

“Those two shots, Sargent.  Were those confirmed kills?”

“Yes, sir, but that’s not the point.”

“Were they mission-critical confirmed kills, Sargent?”

“Captain…  If you are trying to make a point, please, I would like to hear it.”

“Son, Agent Philippine is from a very specific kind of high pedigree.  There was a time in this extermination when we didn’t have the advantage of limitless supernatural resources, advanced arms, tracking systems, training programs; we had guns, those guns shot bullets, and we didn’t have very many bullets to shoot.  We did not have hundreds of men that could be trained to be brave; we had a dozen brave men, and women.  They knew they were fighting a tank with rocks and sharp sticks, but when that tank is rolling towards your home, you suck it up, pry the hatch open with the stick, and beat the pilot’s skull in with the rock.

“Agent Philippine was, and is, a Surgeon, and the core of the Surgeon is this:  One shot, one kill, no exceptions.  We simply had no bullets to spare, not of the kind that could kill The Foe, and we quickly learned that a missed shot was more damning in the long run than if the solider had just died and left the bullet unfired for us to scavenge later.  We needed people who wouldn’t miss.  We couldn’t find them.  And so we found a way to make them.

“A Surgeon that misses even a single shot is stripped of the title forever; thus, Surgeons do not shoot unless they are 100% confident that the shot will result in a confirmed kill, and have it beaten into them to do only this.  They will pass up a hundred opportunities for a possible kill, even if those opportunities combined would have given them fifty kills, because it could have just as easily given them zero.”

“No offense, Captain, but those measures are needlessly extreme.  A human can’t be perfect.”

“Correct, Sargent.  But still wrong.  The dropout rate of Surgeons-in-training when the program was still active was 99.97%, and that was out of those that survived basic training.  No one received the title that did not deserve the title, and that their superiors did not think could handle the title.  You consider the inability to shoot a handicap.  They consider it a blessing of clarity.  They have trained their senses to observe everything about a combat situation; to analyze all the factors.  A Surgeon knows his or her own limits, and knows them well.  They understand exactly what situations in which they are able to confirm kills in, and they search out these situations.  And as their skill grows, so too does the number of possible situations.  They invent tactics to favor their combat style; they see chains of events that will lead to an inevitable outcome, as a chessmaster can glance at a board and know which side will be victorious.

“A relic of the past, perhaps; we have bullets to spare, now, and our soldiers are allowed to be mere humans once more.  But there will come a time, when resources are scarce and hope scarcer, that you will worship her presence at your side.  She is the woman who will lose nothing, but in this, her true value is only recognized when you have nothing left to lose.”


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