|SI Archives Part 1: A New Tomorrow
Author: Guardian54 PM
Time wasn't so easy to change, and so all the wars of the C&C series plus WWII would come to pass. This is the tale of Shepard Industries, the world's first PMC, from its beginning to the end of WWII. Presented in format mostly akin to a history book.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Allies Commander & Tanya - Chapters: 23 - Words: 226,919 - Reviews: 81 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 12-12-11 - Published: 09-15-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7385283
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I don't know enough about Pokémon to build momentum there, however I do know enough about WWII and I'm changing history enough to build "momentum" HERE, ergo… here we go.
There may be M rated references occasionally (war often involves rape of women) but the main themes are T rated and teenagers these days have seen it all anyhow, no need for M rating.
Don't try to tell me I have too many things in-progress at once, I know that! However, I need to wait for HOTS and ME3, and ideally LOTV for the story to be completely ready to work out. In the meantime, let us look into a past and a near future that could have been instead of a distant future… This also explains why in most later incarnations where she exists Hannah is either born at a less pivotal time or has a time loop holding down the possibilities of what she can do. The universe decided that it overpowered her by accident and tried not to make the mistake again.
We shall now embark on a story from before World War II to World War IV (RA2) to the Fourth Tiberium War and perhaps beyond. Prepare yourselves… for A New Tomorrow.
Chapter 1: Harbinger of a New Age
Southern Ontario, December 31, 1899…
"I can see the head, love, it'll be over soon, just push…" Neil Shepard, despite the midwife questioning it (he'd replied that to get his wife pregnant he'd seen enough of her anyways), was present at the delivery of his first child. He looked to be in his early twenties… but his friends were all mainly in their later forties. The reason was that Neil Shepard's family had a history of longevity and near-difficulty aging, as well as rather lowered fertility than normal.
His wife, Jade Shepard, fortunately or some would say unfortunately suffered the same problems, also passed down through her family. That being said, she was still quite attractive despite being slightly older than Neil, and looked to be around the same age as her husband. They had been trying for twenty years to conceive… and this was their first child. Neil was feeling his wife crush his hands while watching their baby's head anxiously as it emerged from his wife's body. As soon as its mouth was clear of its mother it began to gasp for air, producing a characteristic baby cry. The rest, after the head, came out fairly easily, and then Neil was watching the midwife, who was also his sister-in-law, set his tiny daughter down as she tied and cut the umbilical cord. Then she dressed the wound and wrapped the baby in a little dark red blanket, the closest Jade could agree with to the traditional pink. Then she handed the infant to Jade, who was clearly exhausted, pushing out the afterbirth as an afterthought as she looked down on the new life she and Neil had created. The little girl blinked and watched her mother, suddenly alert, before settling her head closer against her mother's body, still looking around warily.
"What do you want to name our beautiful little daughter?" Neil asked as the baby stared at him.
"Hannah, I want to name her Hannah Shepard." Jade stated simply.
Neil smiled "Then Hannah it is." His smile shifted into a smirk as his baby girl grabbed a finger on his hand "I can't say I'm sorry you had to go through that though… did Hannah just roll her eyes at me?"
Jade chuckled tiredly "I wouldn't be surprised, Neil, it was a rather lame use of words."
Hannah Shepard was NOT an average child, as her parents soon discovered. And, thanks to their longevity, her grandparents and great-grandparents also discovered it. She didn't seem to know how to cry, though groaning and growling were not infrequent whenever she wanted something. Even when she was less than three months old, she would spend her days looking at her surroundings and quietly listening to the grown-ups. When offered either water or Jade's breast hourly, she would refuse when she didn't want it and accept when she did. She rarely fussed and rarely needed burping, and did not tend to spit up anything while burping. The oddest thing though, was that she would always watch adults taste something before deciding it could be put in her mouth.
Stranger things happened after that observation was made. Hannah learnt to read before she learnt to talk clearly, and she was soon engrossed in learning every bit of knowledge she could. Neil and Jane—and both sets of Hannah's grandparents and all four sets of great-grandparents—realized quite early that they had a prodigy on their hands and supplied her with all the books she could want. Perhaps they should have taken note of the warning sign that was their daughter constructing an electromagnetic nail gun (though it was too long to be practical for nails) in the back yard, but they decided it was just her creativity and innovative nature and let it run. The cumbersome nail gun stayed there until Hannah managed to reroute enough wires from the orchard house and perimeter to fire it at full power. The nail used sheared a lamp post in half at point-blank range. That was when Neil and Jade finally convinced her to take the coil-gun as Hannah called it down. Of course, they had to replace quite a few burnt-out fuses too, but that's beside the point.
At the time, Hannah was only ten years old, knew how to do chores (though she never did any) and was the nerd of her school. She had constructed a small laboratory a safe distance from the house and was conducting experiments with various chemicals she purchased on a fairly regular and planned basis. Her younger sister, Jane, was only four years old and seemed to be almost retracing to an extent her sister's footsteps with her love for books and knowledge, but she seemed a bit more cautious than Hannah, reluctant to conduct dangerous experiments. Jade and Neil jokingly blamed each other (pillow talk) that their daughters had inherited their inventiveness, as Neil ran a factory making harvesting machines for various crops in Toronto, and Jade was the co-owner of the joint venture. It was part of why Neil's family's inherited orchard and vineyard business (mainly run by Neil's younger brother) was so successful, since they tested cutting-edge technologies right at home first.
Thanks to her nerd designation, Hannah was sometimes bullied at school, though the bullies stopped after the first few tries resulted in them being hospitalized. An interesting thing was that she seemed to instinctively know what to do. According to Jade, "She inherited her father's instinct for danger…" That included, apparently, making sure no one believed the bullies accusing her of trying to kill them with a cricket bat after they cornered her. She'd managed to persuade the teachers that there was no way a sweet little girl like herself could swing a cricket bat hard enough to break a boy's nose and that the boys had been trying to attack her but missed when they swung at her. Needless to say, said boys were given stern reprimands and never tried threatening anyone with a weapon they didn't know how to use ever again.
4 August, 1914
Neil and Jade were just wrapping up a loving morning quickie when they heard the crash of the door in the next room bouncing off the wall as it was thrown open. "My God, where is it? Where IS IT?" They heard Hannah seemingly in a panic searching about her room for something.
Neil chuckled into the side of one of his wife's firm, sag-free breasts as they cuddled in the afterglow "Looks like Hannah's missing some of her ingredients again." The family was atheist, so Hannah rarely bothered referring to God other than as a figure of speech.
"Neil, maybe we should get up and get to work, it is after all half an hour's commute even with our custom-built car…" Jade stated uneasily, sensing something wasn't quite right.
Neil sighed before raising his head off her chest and pulling what weight he had been putting on her completely off, reaching over to grab a shirt as he sat up "If you say so, love." After both of them were dressed, with a couple more kisses holding promises for later, he opened the door in time to be presented with a briefcase and his daughter's grim expression. "What's wrong pumpkin?"
"Dad, you know I hate it when you call me that, read this." She shoved a newspaper with "WAR!" on the front page under her father's nose. "Now since they're asking for officers, a man from the recruitment office dropped by this morning with a letter for you, dad, apparently they want well-to-do gentlemen for officers… Stupid, I know, but that's life." She held out the letter in question as her parents finished reading the paper and started on the letter. "You are to report to the train station by August 10, that's Monday. I know you're fit and all… but there are a few things you should know. The Ross Rifles the soldiers are given these days… remember how we bought one? I tested it several times this last year, and the 1910 model sucks, it jams whenever the rounds get any dirt or mud in them. So I designed and built something just for you… I might want to open a firearms factory later but this is for your eyes only." She opened the briefcase and her parent's jaws dropped along with the lid when she flipped it open. "Behold, the A-WSM-10-40A Submachine Gun."
"Hannah, where did you get all these parts?" Neil finally thought to ask, looking at the brown-painted metal and wood parts
"Please don't tell me you didn't notice the wood shop equipment going missing…" Hannah groaned "I bought lots of plaster, carved the designs I wanted in metal with wood, and then cast them as stainless steel, and voila we get this, I call it a Sub-machine gun, I tested it myself…"
Jade was very upset at her baby girl "So you mean those noises out in the backyard…" They had an estate in the countryside. "…were you testing a gun you made yourself?"
"Yeah, I tested it every way I could think of, had to custom-order cartridges from an ammunition shop." Hannah still had a broad grin "The thing cycles fast enough to spit eight rounds a second from a twenty-round clip, mechanism's simple but durable. I ran over it with the family car three times and nothing broke other than the sights being deformed, I left it in a bucket of water overnight and still worked the next day, did the same with mud. Last winter I left it in the snow for a night and it still worked fine, it's been tested for everything I could think of, hell, I even left it, with the safety on of course, in uncle's sewage tank for a month between our visits, though I told him not to do anything about it, and it still worked… though I had to wash my hands a lot afterward. Believe me, if you can't get this gun to save you in the face of an enemy charge, nothing can save you."
"Since when did you learn to drive?" Jane shouted indignantly. Hannah pointed at her dad simply and Jane glared at her beloved husband for teaching their 14-year-old daughter how to drive.
Her father finally found his voice "I don't know what to say Hannah, how did you anticipate this… war… last year?"
"Anyone who looks closely enough knows it, reading all those ship magazines and other periodicals, Britain and Germany have both been racing in battleships, so there was an arms race in Europe. Something was going to set it off, so I thought I'd get to work and give dad the best chance he could if he got recruited."
Neil bent down slightly as he hugged his black-haired brown-eyed daughter. He had heard that teenagers were rebellious, but he was not expecting something like this… it was practically the opposite of rebellious. "There are no words for this…" he whispered.
"Thanks for the mushy moment, dad, now can I get back to informing you about the specs and workings of this weapon?" Hannah put in "I had to order the barrel from a gun shop but the recoil dampener on the end is entirely my own design, this gun can be assembled and disassembled within one minute each." Before her parents' eyes she put the gun together and loaded it within a single minute "Safety mechanism is a block mechanism and physical insertion, so it just won't fire without the safety off." She pointed at the lever, then at a more obvious one "this toggles semiautomatic fire and full automatic fire, semi-auto offers accurate kill shots up to three hundred meters" the family worked in metric since it was more convenient than imperial "though if the barrel's clogged expect half of that. Full auto is a bit of a spray-and-pray affair but if you use controlled bursts, a mechanism which I have yet to invent, by throttling your trigger finger you'll get accurate kills up to two hundred meters. Again, if the barrel's full of mud, sewage, grit, and so on expect half of that. Remember to shake out the gun if it's been immersed in something, be it water, sewage or sand, otherwise it may, though it's highly unlikely, jam if the barrel is full of sand. Go report in at the recruitment office to confirm it, then come back, you have a lot of practice to do with this gun."
Neil, still gaping slightly in abject shock, did as his daughter ordered, getting the car, which he'd built himself with some help from Hannah, ready to leave while Jade and Hannah talked. "Hannah, I'm not sure dealing in firearms is entirely appropriate for children… but I'm happy that you did what you could to help your father. I'm really glad we encouraged your scientific ventures… now how's your correspondence with those professors at Oxford?"
Hannah hugged her mother tightly, having left lecture mode when her Dad went to the garage "It's fine Mom, don't worry about it." She mumbled quietly "Me and Jane will stay well clear of your room and ensuite for the week, unless Dad doesn't show up to my lessons. Jane can teach him the theory if need be and while she's doing that you and I can go supervise the plant, I know it's the high season for farm equipment production and sales, but we all know that this war will probably mean the plant gets less attention anyhow, because so many people will be off at war. Enjoy him while he's still home, it'll be several years before you have the chance again."
Jade blinked her blue eyes, her brown hair swishing slightly as she tilted her head "What?"
Hannah pulled away, smirking "You don't think I know what happens behind closed doors? Spend the week with Dad, but make sure he doesn't come home to find a child who didn't see its father for the first three or so years of its life." She winked before running off, dodging her mother's playful swat.
"HANNAH SHEPARD, YOU COME BACK HERE!" Jade eventually gave up the chase, when her daughter locked herself inside her laboratory/engineering shop. "You know me too well…" a broad grin spread over the brunette's attractive face (Jane turning out a redhead was a bit of surprise until she and Neil, who had the black hair Hannah inherited, remembered that each had a redheaded grandparent) "Why the hell not… I don't think we've done enough in Neil's office at work, in public, before, have we?" She moved off to the garage "Neil, go take a shower before we leave, pay special attention down there, I want to try something."
Neil Shepard raised an eyebrow but grinned and nodded approval "Understood, honey." He thought to what she could want to do. It wasn't like they hadn't done it up against his solid oak office door or on the desk before, and then they had to open the windows to let the heady smell of sex out, but maybe she wanted to try something new this time… Why the hell not.
Needless to say, Neil was in heaven for the next week, his virility, inherited from his ancestors, helped a lot, though his talent with his mouth was also relevant… especially under the office desk at his manufacturing plant. Hannah and Jane gave their parents privacy… except for times when Neil had to be dragged out for Hannah's lessons and Jane lecturing him based off of scripts Hannah had prepared. Though the workers at the plant, all old hands, especially now that the economy was beginning to gear toward war production, were used to having Jade for their boss, it was still a source of amusement to hear, and watch (in the plant's yard during lunch break) the bosses' younger daughter lecture her father on the art of digging slit trenches for cover against anything except a direct artillery hit. Then there was the talk of infantry and machine-guns and about the stupidity of charging into machine-gun fire. Many of the workers listened rather closely to that one, and were startled by how much sense it made.
But that was all irrelevant to our story as Neil boarded the train with his luggage, which consisted of the briefcase and a suitcase with some practical clothes. The case had the disassembled parts of what his daughter called the "A-WSM-10-40A" (for Army, Weapon: Submachine gun, 10mm calibre, 40 calibres barrel, first model) inside along with 10 clips. The suitcase contained winter clothing in the form of a warm scarf, a thick winter jacket, pants and boots. All had been chemically treated by Hannah to resist bugs and moulds, and Hannah had created a mask for her father, with aviator goggles, and a disc of activated charcoal sealed in the sealed mouthpiece that was usually not used "Dad, if people around you start toppling for no reason, clip the mouthpiece on after peeling off the covers, I kept rats in the lab to check for poisonous gases… and a lot of them died in the experiments. I found that activated charcoal protected from a lot of gases… use it." She had told him. Other clothes she packed included several summer shirts in inconspicuous brown colours.
When Neil talked to his bunk-mates at Officer School about his daughter, a month after getting to know them, they had stated that he was either lying or he was one lucky bastard to get a prodigy of a daughter like that. Then they'd asked if they could get the guns too, since they practically had to avoid breathing on their Ross Rifles to not jam the damned things. He replied that it was a custom design and had been refused by the Ministry of Militia and Defence. The consensus was rapidly achieved: "Sam Hughes is an idiot."
Surprisingly for everyone except people who knew Neil (including his new buddies at Officer School) or his family, the war was not over by Christmas as Hannah was proven correct again and again with the failure of the Ardennes Offensive by the French and the Germans at the Battle of the Marne. Infantry could not stand up to machine-gun fire effectively on open terrain with charging tactics like those Neil were being taught. The man ignored the lessons and took his daughter's doctrine to heart, which meant that, as he had sufficiently impressed the board in charge of the camp with his low casualty projections, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant. He wrote in his third letter home that "If I did not know how much of an utter genius you were, Hannah, I would not believe how your lessons are being vindicated again and again in the simulation battles we fight here. My men are able to dig better fortifications, survive longer, and move forward faster than anyone else's once I suggested we simulate machine-gun fire. Fortunately the administrators here at the school think Hughes is an idiot, so they'd like to order some of your guns to outfit the officers. They also believed me when I suggested that machine-gun fire simulations as on the Western Front would change the entire art of infantry warfare." Needless to say, his daughter's ingenuity and the hard work displayed by Neil Shepard soon earned him a promotion to Captain and assignment to a unit shortly before they were about to be shipped off. He was assigned to the 54th Royal Canadian Infantry Regiment.
Neil arrived in northern France in February 1915 with the rest of the first batch of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. About half the senior officers in the regiment had been, much to Hughes' chagrin, given the A-WSM-10-40A as a "secondary weapon", though they all knew their Ross Rifles were good for one long-range shot before it would jam so badly it wasn't worth fixing with the time it would take. The WSM proved spectacularly successful, though Hughes still insisted on being an ass about it.
Moments before the Second Battle of Ypres
"Neil, I feel sorry for your wife." One of said man's oldest officer friends stated. Sitting next to Neil in the dugout was a man called Henry Black, dropping by just for a visit with his friend. It turned out he lived only a short distance from the main plant Neil and Jade owned. "Last time our Regiment went for R&R the boys had time to drink, hit on women, and even get laid. You… you did none of the above. Your sex life at home must be really dull if you're always so unenthusiastic…" He shook his head, he'd been watching Neil for some time, and the man seemed to be a eunuch for all the interest he showed women, though he said he had a wife at home waiting for him, and that was why he wasn't interested in flings. Henry, at First Lieutenant one rank under Neil, was concerned for the man's well-being… well, more his wife's happiness, since Henry believed that an unsatisfied wife would not be happy nor faithful.
"Hah, if you knew some of the things Jade came up with and the things she agreed to…" Neil snorted, and then fell silent as he realized it was rude to talk about his love that way.
"Like what? Tell me or next time we'll all ply you with drink until you do." Henry teased, gesturing with his eyes at Neil's men, who nodded at their CO, trying to prompt him into going ahead.
"You know how I own a manufacturing plant and my brother owns a vineyard right?" Neil started reluctantly, since he had a feeling that even if the men forced drink on him no one else would do a thing, simply because being drunk on R&R circuits was normal, unless he showed alcohol poisoning symptoms. "Well other than jumping me in the vineyard fields, she also put my office desk to good use…"
"Go on." His troops, now wide-eyed and attentive instead of slightly downcast from being in the trenches for so long, watched him closely. Neil was instantly reminded of one particular line of Hannah's doctrine: When dealing with subordinate men, tell stories if needed, don't be afraid to embellish, but only enough to establish yourself as the alpha male. If these stories are about sexual escapades, then so be it.
"Well there were a few conferences with the heads of the various departments that she knelt in on, and yes, she was under the desk with her mouth on me. Of course, I returned the favour one a different day while she was doing paperwork at the same desk. We went at it against the door a few times too, and sometimes on the desk. Believe me, I used to get laid something like three times a day, and only the morning quickie is typically in a bed." Neil ended it there, he didn't need to embarrass Jade any more than he already had… he was going to need to talk to Hannah about this part of her Small-Unit Command Doctrine when he got back home, or maybe in the next letter.
Cries of pain and alarm came drifting up the line from the fire trenches, and Neil looked over to see men choking and gasping in a greenish-yellow haze of sorts "Chlorine gas! Quick men! Piss on your handkerchiefs and cover your noses and mouths! If you breath that stuff it'll kill you! Me… I'll use this gas mask my daughter made for me before I came here." He stripped off the seals, then wrapped the scarf around his head and tied it, sealing the mouthpiece of the charcoal chamber to his mouth, finally he slipped the aviator goggles on, with the bottom edges under the scarf.
"Lucky bastard to have such a child prodigy…" Henry mumbled good-naturedly as he finished pissing on his hanky and slapped it over his face before running up the line toward his own unit's dugouts. They weren't as comfortable or as practical as Neil's unit as they hadn't as much practice digging slit trenches, but they still worked.
"German Infantry Incoming! Piss on your handkerchiefs and hold them over your faces to protect yourself from gas!" Neil's men shouted as on in both directions of the second trench line. Surprisingly, people listened, perhaps it was due to Hannah's tendency to have the right solutions ready for Neil to draw on.
Neil suddenly wanted to leave the dugout he'd ducked into "Everyone out of the dugout!" He shouted before charging into the main trench, most of the men once in the dugout making it out before a gigantic blast from a direct artillery shell destroyed it utterly. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…" He muttered under his breath as the odd survival instinct his ancestors had granted him had saved his ass temporarily again. "We just have to be assigned to the same battle zone as the British… men, find higher ground! Chlorine is denser than air and will sink into the trenches! Get out and take cover!" He shouted. Somewhere closer to the gas attack some guy with a strong British accent shouted to some superior whether he should listen to the "Canadian bloke" and said superior shouted back "Why the hell not? He looks to be right anyhow."
Needless to say, in short order, the entire Regiment was up past the ramparts of the trenches firing downrange at the advancing Germans who had seemingly pushed through a large chunk of the British lines to the north. Men with wet cloths tied around their faces pried Lee-Enfield rifles from the dead hands of fallen British to keep firing and other soldiers muscled machine guns into position to fire on the enemy advance. It was soon stalemated again, the first major gas attack in the world halted from gaining momentum by the efforts of a Canadian man and more importantly his gifted child.
Later In The War…
"Neil, I still think this madness comes from you not getting laid enough." Henry muttered as the two men, survivors of an offensive that had fallen victim to three fortified concrete bunkers that served as machine-gun nests, crawled toward the imposing bunker in the darkness. The afternoon offensive had stalled, and so here they were.
"Shut up Henry, if we try to go back, we'll probably get shot by startled sentries, or get shot by the Germans, you want to go home in a reasonably small number of pieces, right?" Neil growled as they dragged themselves through the mud, careful for the occasional bayonet sticking out of the dirt from other fallen soldiers.
"Whatever, I'm just following you, Captain, if we survive this, you can get most of the credit… you and your baby girl who invented these babies." Henry grumbled as he crawled, holding onto his WSM as the men had abbreviated it. Neil's family business supplied the Regiment's special demands for the rounds nowadays, having expanded to a different location to handle the additional machinery. "Doesn't seem to be any sentries around… what should we do?"
"The next bunker's firing field covers the back door of this one…" Neil noted. "Stick to the side, out of line of sight of that light over the back door, follow me." The Captain moved forward on his belly until he was flush against the side of the bunker, then inched his way to the front before unhooking one of the grenades from his belt and yanking the dirty pin with his teeth, then chucking it in through the firing window-like opening in the bunker followed by another grenade.
A sudden explosion shook the quiet of the German lines after the exhausting fight that had dragged on for the afternoon well into the evening. The line along the Somme was suddenly alive with search lights, alarms and confused commands as Neil stuck his gun over far enough to fire off a full clip into the bunker and add another grenade for good measure, Henry helping reload the gun passed to him as Neil, with Henry's WSM, stood up far enough to accurately shoot every German inside a few more times, even though only one had still been alive when he started. Then he and Henry slipped in through the gap in the bunker's wall. Neil went head-first, with his gun, now reloaded, ready to shoot any other surviving Germans, then Henry came in and the two men surveyed the inside of the rough concrete bunker and the ammunition they had available.
With Neil's rough and highly limited command of German, which he'd picked up over time, they managed to fool the Germans outside by talking in German (Neil had to teach Henry a few lines on the spot) while German troops searched the area for allied soldiers. Eventually they gave up, deciding it was just a diversion anyways or some random happening, and went back to their own bunkers. Neil then pointed to the German helmets "Put a German helmet on for now, and stock up on stick grenades, we're going to clear those two other bunkers, starting with the one farthest from us, the one at the back of this little formation. You go get field of fire coverage on the last bunker door and make sure you're using semi-auto setting, we don't have time to reload. Throw a grenade when you hear the third blast." Neil told his partner before clapping him on the shoulder and pulling on his own spiked helmet "By the way, once you get around to the side of our bunker out of the light take off the helmet and crawl to where you need to be. I'll give you five minutes before I blow that second bunker. I'm amazed these crates of grenades didn't cook off when we blasted this place, but if that's how it goes… all the better for us. These will hopefully blow the German bunkers and our men can advance again." Neil explained his haphazard plan to his subordinate, who simply nodded. It was after all the best plan they had…
Once in position, Neil waited for quite some time. He tied four of his newly-acquired stick hand grenades together in the meantime and shoved the package in, having pulled the pin on two of them. The ensuing explosion shook the ground slightly again and then he started stuffing in three more grenades as quickly as he could pull the pin. When certain that all the Germans inside had been killed, whether by grenades or by his blind firing with his gun, he noted the end of screaming form the other bunker, then stood up and shot each German corpse in his bunker a couple more time to make sure it was dead. He entered the bunker through the back door (shooting out the lock) and rigged all the grenades together. He put them on a stack of crates so that the grenades were flush against the tops of the bunker before priming one and running like hell.
Behind him, the bunker roof shook with a huge blast and Neil held up the stack of German helmets he'd picked up while in the bunker against small bits of Shrapnel that rained down on him. The fire that it lit quickly burnt the first bunker out even while the other two were set ablaze by the two marauding Canadians. Later in the night, they came across a German artillery gun and managed to capture it, firing its shell toward the coordinates of an ammunition depot they found on a map from a dead German officer. The huge mushroom cloud was visible for miles around from the blast, and the two madmen kept firing shells toward the German lines until they were out. When their own lines finally reached them, Neil got the Victoria Cross, because Henry gave him most of the credit, and Henry got a different but still highly prestigious award for his courage in following his superior on a mad but nonetheless effective scheme.
Jade Shepard's Home, Later…
"…Well girls, your father won the Victoria Cross… and he says to thank you for your bunker-clearing tactics." Jade read from the most recent letter from her husband, looking pointedly at Hannah and Jane at the last part. "The rest is rather more private…" She gave her daughters a wink at that.
Hannah rolled her eyes "Well I just got the acceptance letter from Radcliffe, tell Dad that in your letter back to him, come on Jane, back to the sketching boards… what do you think we should call our armoured tractor concept? Mobile Armour?"
The redhead (with the same hair colour as her maternal grandmother as opposed to her mother's brown and father's black hair) followed her older sister with a shrug "I was thinking something more secretive for initial deployment, hay bales? No, modern armies don't use horses as much so it might attract attention… a movement of draught animals tends to mean artillery on the move."
"Maybe Tanks would be a good name? I mean they're all over the place, men have to drink water all the time after all…"
Jane thought about it for a moment "Maybe…"
Jade watched her girls go off to Hannah's little lab with a roll of her eyes and a smile at their ingenuity as she settled back in her chair to read the rest of what her husband wrote her. Her forehead creased a moment later as she read of everyone else's opinion of Neil. "Oh you poor thing… I'm going to have to help sap you of that extra stress when you come home…" she remarked with a smirk. "And I'm going to enjoy it too."
Neil had wrote "Henry, my partner in this whole affair, whose brother is Jonathan Black (yes, from our plant) is, unfortunately, still of the opinion that I am a eunuch. He's been trying to get me to party with the rest of the men when resting behind the front lines. Fortunately for him, it hasn't worked yet." If it was anyone else, Jade would have laughed her ass off and stated bluntly that they were lying, but Neil was not known to be able to lie to her. The biggest occasion when he lied was probably in response to "What's that bulge in the back pocket of your trousers?" He's said, fidgeting and sweating bullets, that it was nothing important… and later that night he'd proposed. Of course, Jade had teased him about his earlier statement… after accepting.
Jade started work on her response right away, writing about how proud she was that their older daughter had made it into the number one post-secondary institution for women in North America at fifteen years of age. She also talked about how Jane was following in Hannah's footsteps as far as being absurdly inventive went, though she seemed more managerial as opposed to full strategic and business sense. Finally Jade wrote of how much she missed Neil and hoped he'd be safe and back home soon, and that the business was expanding slowly as they received more orders for the WSM design. She finished with her customary "Love, Jade Shepard" before folding it and putting the letter in the envelope, she would drop it by the post office when she went back into Toronto for work tomorrow. Managing a plant wasn't easy for a woman these days, but the workers, mostly old hands or women, obeyed her and kept the new men from making a fuss of any sort. She also had to deal with irritating men when it came to signing contracts and such, but she was alright… she just hoped Neil came back alright too.
November 12th, 1918…
Twelve-year-old Jane Shepard opened the door with a knife concealed in her lab coat, looking up at the soldier before her warily. "Dear, we would like to inform you…"
The soldier found himself held up against the door frame before he was aware of it "What happened to my Dad?" The little but now monstrously frightening redheaded girl demanded with flames seemingly blazing behind her brown eyes.
"He… he was shot, shot yesterday, but he'll be okay, pulled another crazy stunt to save the lives of his men and got even more medals for it." The man ground out before being dropped unceremoniously.
"Well that's not so bad, then, thanks for telling us." Jane stated cheerfully, the soldier's eye twitching once before he nodded understanding. "Good day to you sir, I'll tell my mother."
He nodded "Good day to you too young lady." Then he left the home, sweating bullets still, no wonder Neil Shepard was crazy enough to win so many medals… it ran in the family, even his daughter had it.
Hannah Shepard spent five whole years at Radcliffe College doing "insane things" according to peers. She spent nights drawing up dozens of schematics, published several papers on rocketry, applications of electromagnetism and other physics/chemistry subjects, and shocked all her professors with her sheer genius. In addition to tearing her way through physics and chemistry courses, she also invested time into learning management and acting. Hannah was warm and friendly with her peers but people considered her a bit distant from her surroundings, as if she was somehow aloof, ethereal…
Hannah was rarely seen extremely angry or rather upset at all, but when the papers reported the Battle of the Somme she burnt it after reading and seeing photos of the "tanks" deployed by the British. She cursed at the photo until it was ashes in the ashtray and then sitting back down at her dorm desk, muttering how bad the arrangement was and how a traversing turret was so much more practical to bring all weapons to bear at once. She lightened up considerably after the first Renault Light Tank photos came out though… That was when she decided to invest time into studying performance arts in addition to everything else. Hannah knew the war was soon to be over, especially if the fast-attack tactics she'd thought up were employed, and that returning soldiers would, along with the average citizen, want entertainment. She also saw in it opportunity, to earn enough money to found the business she'd always wanted to. The best way to fight a war was short, to reduce casualties and attrition damage to units, she knew that, and she wanted to put it into practice, to save the lives of countless men in the next war by using smarter tactics instead of the meat grinder that was trench warfare. She saw the days of massed tank offensives coming, and knew that if she didn't find a way to change the course of history, when the angry defeated nations lashed back at the victors, well, France could well be overrun within a month if Germany launched a surprise attack with better tanks…
Hannah relied on her activated charcoal gas mask during the Spanish Flu days right after the war, noting the use of aircraft and bombing in reports on the war, contemplating the practicality of fielding floating airfield-ships and drawing up a few rough sketches, but nothing more than that. She knew that no one would be interested in another war for at least a decade, until the next recession, so she planned accordingly. The beginning of the large-scale movie industry provided her with a tremendous opportunity. Observing the novelty attracting the hordes of sheep-people like a carcass attracts flies, she made up her mind to raise the funds she would need to open her own business by succeeding in the new industry.
Hannah's near-flawless memory and all-too-real acting also rapidly boosted her career to the stars. Her intuitive understanding of psychology and inherent persuasiveness were just add-ons to the package of razor-sharp mind, beautiful face and flawless body. By the third year of her acting career she was considering opening her own film studio, but decided against it in favour of writing her own scripts. Most of her concepts were pseudo-science fiction, but she only wrote the entire scripts of a few.
Her first self-written movie that she managed to get a studio to accept without changes that would compromise its basis was named "The Ghost in the Machine". She acted the role of the heroine in a society where computers—her name for the electronic processing machines featured in the story—were in common use and everything was networked, and someone managed to corrupt and infiltrate the system. They shut down the utilities, the government system, everything, and she and a young "hacker" (her term for computer infiltrator) had to stop them. 20th Century Fox accepted the script and produced it as a talkie, and it became a huge hit thanks to its novelty in the cinemas of 1928. Even though the costs were significant, Hannah had personally managed to sway her employers into accepting the innovative film with all its explosive and life-threatening special effects, though the latter was mainly due to "It's MY life on the line, and I'm willing to do it." She didn't even get scars from the few scratches she received from the filming. It also provided the small but steady manufacturing of her WSM Submachine Gun with some new business, as several organizations became interested in the weapon based on its performance on set. She was promoted for her innovation and began raking in money, which she mostly invested into the stock market to increase her funds in anticipation of opening her own business.
A/N: Yes, if you're thinking that's Live Free or Die Hard, about 79 years ahead of schedule, you're right. Think about doing that film with a bunch of Ford Model T's and similar cars, and using a model "Helicopter" as they termed it.
By 1929 Hannah had done enough research to realize the stock market had inflated beyond the capabilities of the companies and there would be a crisis if people started selling. So she sold all her investments in the stock market, just in time too, and prompted her whole family to do the same. The Wall Street market crashed days after her family sold all their stocks (some say they were the domino that started it all) and Hannah returned to Canada to begin her plans of becoming the leading business woman in the world. Jane had also graduated from Radcliffe and was right there along with her older sister—both looking to still be in their late teens thanks to their family's difficulties with growing old—when they officially opened up Shepard Industries' first plant in 1931. Hannah was still producing films, though slower now, exploiting the need for escapism as the Great Depression settled in.
In 1931, the two women opened their first plant that THEY owned, on the very edges of Toronto, to the west of the main city (Today southern Etobicoke) area, and at the limits of the public tram system (they actually stretched the limits by laying their own tracks to walking distance of the plant). Offering reasonable working conditions and acceptable salaries, Hannah and Jane took full advantage of the Depression's price drops and their own still-massive money reserves to make the plant fully modernized with custom-designed-and-ordered, beyond-cutting-edge technology they had conceived of themselves. Later that same year their father managed to get an audience with the US Army…
Washington, December 15, 1931
"So tell me about this gun…" Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur watched the man in front of him carefully. Having read the record of this guy and the basic premise of the gun he was bringing to the War Department, MacArthur had decided to take a momentary vacation from the mountains of paperwork he was typically dumped with and meet this man in person "What are its specs and designation?"
"This, sirs, is the A-WBR-7.5-100A Battle Rifle" Neil Shepard gestured at the weapon he currently held "With a ten round clip fired in semi-automatic fashion, without the need to work a bolt, it offers better rate of fire than any other commonly equipped infantry weapon of modern times. With nine hundred and fifty meters or about one thousand fifty yards per second muzzle velocity, it is effective at up to six hundred meters against infantry. It may be able to accurately hit and kill more distant targets under favourable conditions, however do not expect it to."
MacArthur had his eyebrows up "Most salespeople tend to embellish as opposed to state reality, why would you insist not to try for precision fire at over six hundred meters?" He was already slightly interested in the gun from the initial report, which stated that it was rugged and reliable, but Neil Shepard was doing his sales pitch in an odd fashion…
"Like you are, sir, I was a soldier, I know that to lie to a soldier about what his weapon can do is the worst thing an officer can do. I'm saying not to shoot at over six hundred meters unless absolutely necessary because the rugged construction and reliable mechanism isn't designed completely for accuracy, and even when not continuously firing, it would take a very good sniper to take this gun up to its maximum range of twelve hundred meters and still get a clean kill." Neil stated plainly "This gun has been run over by a truck five times, buried in a snow bank for a day, submerged in mud for a night, and been tested to work after each of those treatments. If you are interested sir we could go test it right now. It even fires underwater… though range is terrible then."
MacArthur leant back and thought for a moment, he'd finished his paperwork for the week and it couldn't hurt to go outside for a break… "I want to test it personally." He stated, standing up and grabbing his overcoat as Neil nodded and did the same "If your gun passes my tests…" he held out a hand and the two men shared a handshake, knowing what the General had left unsaid. "Lead the way."
Neil did as he was asked "Understood, sir."
Shortly after reaching the range, MacArthur asked his aide to test the gun first (in case of mishaps), and then, after Neil reloaded it, demonstrating the simple procedure of popping the spent clip off, slotting in a new one, and locking it into place, held the weapon himself for the first time "By the way, Mr. Shepard, why did you choose a 7.5 millimetre calibre instead of the typical .30 cal?" He asked as he sighted down the iron sights and fired, the gun nailing a clean bulls-eye in a target three hundred yards down-range. Douglas MacArthur fired three more rounds, then he went for six hundred… aiming up just slightly to compensate for drop, and fired again for another clean bulls-eye. The next five similarly scored bulls-eyes with very low spread "Not bad, Mr. Shepard, not bad at all…" MacArthur stated as he managed to quickly reload the rifle on the first try.
"For soldiers who enjoy sniping, we have a slightly bulkier sight available, calibrated to accurate fire at direct aiming range, two hundred meters, four hundred, six hundred, eight hundred and one thousand meters. Our designers work in metric units because converting between imperial units takes more thought than metric, which works in tens. Besides, we want to have our own specialized munitions designs to field."
"Well, it makes sense, what rounds are we using here?" MacArthur asked as he found the round he was currently using were indeed not accurate to much more than twelve hundred yards, and not reliably accurate at over one thousand in his hands.
"Those are standard Armour-Piercing bullets, we also offer high explosive rounds, however those are less reliable when dealing with obstructions to the barrel."
"Obstructions?" MacArthur raised an eyebrow "show me."
"Understood sir, I'll just use the built-in maintenance kit to introduce the obstruction…" He drew out a metal rod slightly more than half a meter long "The barrel is one hundred calibres in length, this is two-thirds of that, so it can be used for barrel-cleaning, though the back part will need to be cleaned after disassembly if you use this. Still, if you're cleaning your gun, might as well have it disassembled anyways." Neil took out the clip and bullet before shoving the gun barrel-first into the snow repeatedly, before packing it in somewhat using the rod. "This is probably the largest obstruction a soldier can happen to not notice." He explained "The mechanism is closed-in, so if the gun's loaded like normal and the safety's on, it should not be dirtied… much" He dropped the gun mechanism-first into the dirty snow, then picked it up, shook it off and loaded it. Then he fired it, though the first shot was quite off target, the next few worked fine at three hundred yards, and from the fifth shot onward six hundred was acceptable. "We left two of these guns in a septic tank, and that's a sewage tank, by the way, for a month and they still worked after shaking them off a couple times." Neil commented. "The High Explosive rounds might blow up if the barrel is too obstructed, whereas armour-piercing would just clear the barrel."
"Consider it sold, Mr. Shepard, consider it sold…" MacArthur stated slowly "Alright, I'll sign a contract with you for one thousand of these… in a month if all the testers report it's good then expect to become an official supplier of the United States Army. What's the unit price for one of these things and the price of the ammunition?"
"Each standard sales unit of the A-WBR-7.5-100A costs—"
"What does the code stand for anyways?" MacArthur thought to ask.
"It's intended for the Army, hence A, it's a weapon, hence W, BR is Battle Rifle, 7.5 is calibre in millimetres and 100 is calibres for the barrel length, A means it's the first production model with above traits."
MacArthur nodded in understanding "Makes sense… so what's the price?"
"Fifty dollars per unit, with the maintenance kit built in and ten ammunition clips."
MacArthur frowned but only for a moment "Not a terrible deal considering quality… and the fact that it is patented and all. Where's the order form?"
Neil produced it and a pen from his pocket, plus a writing clipboard from inside his jacket "Here sir."
"Thanks…" MacArthur wrote down his order and signed, filling the paperwork out methodically before giving it back to Neil "I'll be seeing you some other time, most likely to sign a bigger order."
"Thank you for your time General…" Neil shook the man's hand before tilting his head slightly.
MacArthur only took a brief moment to realize what Neil wanted "Oh, this gun is included in the one thousand, Mr. Shepard… I should add that as a tail note…" He did just that on the order form before handing everything back to Neil. The men exchanged a handshake and salute before MacArthur gave Neil a ride to the train station to head back home.
"Why does Hannah always have to be right?" Neil pondered aloud on the train, looking down at the empty briefcase he'd brought the rifle (in parts), ammunition and the user manual in "Why did she just KNOW they were going to ask for one thousand guns to test with? Ah well… it's good to see my little girl making her own way in life."
It was the first major sale Shepard Industries had. It was the harbinger of a new age, a herald of things to come. Though the world did not know it, its history had already been irrevocably changed from a timeline that could have been.
A/N: Hannah may seem to be a bit of a Mary Sue, but I guarantee you that she will not be referred to as such. Instead, in this timeline, in later decades, people referred to heroines as "Hannah Shepard" as opposed to "Mary Sue" for the adjective. Though she may be a genius, the observations and such she makes are things that any coolly logical intelligent person could have made given available information. Other than her occasional bad vibes she gets (like her dad with that dugout) she's not supernatural, and her way of doing business may seem odd but in the long run… it profits, it profits big time.