|Tal Ravis during an operation on Planet Sprague in early 825 AS.|
|Republic of Liberty Marine Corps (Former)||4 years|
|Born||May 4th, 798 AS, Planet Manhattan.|
Tal Yahalom Ravis, also known as Underscore or Snoopy, is renowned throughout the Sirius Sector for being the main protagonist of Discovery Freelancer.
Tal was born on May 4th, 798, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district on Planet Manhattan to two relatively poor blue-collar workers. His biological father, from which his name and faith are derived, left his mother in mid-803 AS, leaving him fatherless until seven years later when his mother remarried, this time to a native New Yorker with two children. Understandably, Tal believed that he had little in common with his stepdad and stepbrothers, and as such distanced himself from his new family through much of his adolescence, turning instead to the streets of Manhattan.
Despite attempts at gentrification throughout much of the late-700s, many parts of Brooklyn still remained as low-income, crime-ridden areas well into the early 800s. For an impressionable young man, with no true role models or guidance throughout his most important developmental years, the life of a hardened thug appealed to him. While he never quite stacked up to either of his stepbrothers, both of whom ended up being accepted into prestigious higher education institutions in the Republic of Liberty, his performance in school tanked, and he soon found himself in a quagmire of poor academic performance and waning potential. Instead, his focus became his gang, a small band of friends coming from a similar background who he found refuge with during and after classes, and the group went on to terrorize the neighborhood for several years through their high school educations, committing petty thefts and robberies here and there.
A young Ravis soon found out that this new gang lifestyle, however glamorous in the eyes of another product of a culture of violence, was volatile and unsustainable, as after a botched robbery on a local pizza parlor left one dead and two injured, most of his friends were rounded up and arrested in a large-scale investigation by local authorities. Despite being an accomplice to murder, Tal was luckily able to slide under the radar, although the damage had been done. His group was broken up, the ones who were caught having been slapped with lengthy prison sentences, and now he had little to nowhere to go. He lacked any kind of artistic talent, and his academic records were too abysmal to even remotely consider any kind of higher education, and so, not wanting to be resigned to working a minimum wage job for the rest of his life, he enlisted in the Republic of Liberty's Marine Corps, hoping to find a future killing people and breaking things across the galaxy.
Tal Ravis proved to be the 0331's poster child: rowdy, careless, and seemingly oblivious to rules and regulations, catching a significant amount of flak during his military career as a result. He became a gunner in a machine gun section with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines onboard the LNS Utah. Promised action and opportunities to kill people by his recruiter, he was disappointed when his enlistment consisted of little more than carrying a forty-pound machine gun on training ops.
Early on in his enlistment, he showed minor interest in marrying a childhood friend for additional healthcare and housing benefits, though this plan never came into fruition, in part due to a lack of communication between the two and also due to his upcoming deployment. Upon returning from his time aboard the Utah, after witnessing his assistant gunner’s then-wife leave him during their deployment whilst taking most of his money and belongings, he abandoned the idea altogether.
He participated in one notable engagement during his time with 2/5 Marines, for which he was awarded a Combat Action Ribbon, when a large makeshift Outcast slaver outpost was discovered in the California system. Tal participated in the assault on the station, firing over 450 laser round-equivalents of ammunition and 40 rounds of 10x20mm handgun ammunition over the course of the hour-long siege, and notoriously participated in the routing of Outcast forces and subsequent search-and-rescue mission. Setting up his weapon at the entrance to the hangar that they landed in, he was told to engage any and all living beings that attempted to escape as Navy bombers strategically fired two Nova antimatter torpedoes while the Marines made heavy use of incinerator units and explosives to flush the enemy out from within the station, resulting in the deaths of approximately 200 Outcast and Outcast-aligned personnel, 28 by his gun alone. His commanding officer was less than enthused, however, especially when Tal's section was minorly implicated in a media scandal when images surfaced of him and his squadmates urinating on the corpses of Outcast slavers.
During the early stages of the initial siege, Tal came into extremely close (~5 feet) proximity of an Outcast attempting to escape the station, too close and too quickly to engage with his MG. Undeterred, he drew his secondary, a Deep Space Automatics 10mm handgun, and dispatched the fighter with several rounds to the upper chest. To commemorate this moment, Tal decided to almost immediately mark a tally on his helmet with a black marker borrowed from a squadmate. However, due to his haste, his helmet was oriented incorrectly when he drew the mark, thus making it look more like an underscore when his helmet was actually on. Henceforth, he was nicknamed "Underscore", a name that stuck and has since been dragged along with him throughout his various different assignments.
While investigating what was left of the station after the engagement, Tal found two extremely small, high-quality imported espresso spoons, no doubt former possessions of the station garrison, and pocketed them as a war prize. Prior to his deployment on the LNS Almayer, he punched a hole towards the end of the handle on each spoon, stringing them together on a loop of 550 cord around his neck. Unhappy that he was displaced from his original unit, he now utilizes this trophy spoon necklace to irritate the shit out of his coworkers, wherever he may go. The initials "J.W." were eventually engraved on the bowl of one of these spoons.
Effective February 11, 2186, Tal was transferred to the Almayer with 2/4 Marines, serving as a machine gunner in a weapons platoon. This second, significantly less exciting deployment marked his last, and he was transferred to Twentynine Palms’ tax center as part of the Fleet Assistance Program for six months before his enlistment contract ended, whereupon he separated from service.
Once out of the Corps, Tal quickly realized that he needed a means to provide for himself, eventually taking up a stable job flying freight for Ageira Technologies for two years until his adventurous spirit came back. With a sudden craving for more thrills in his life, he quit working for Ageira and applied to join the Liberty Police, the same organization that jailed all of his closest friends just five years ago. It was here that, over the course of a few months, he discovered that he had anger management issues, eventually deeming himself unfit for duty in the LPI. From here, he resigned and went his own way, using some of his pay to buy a basic model Sabre fighter in order to start his own mercenary company.
Named "Haven Tactical Security", he and an associate mostly flew low-level escort missions, failing to make much of an impact or name for themselves. Eventually, his associate departed from the endeavor, taking with him most of the company's assets and leaving Tal to his own devices.
Undeterred, he turned to the then-Colonial Republic for work, where he was hired as a fighter pilot. Preferring the Nyx multirole superiority fighter, he was pushed through an accelerated pilot training pipeline and was eventually assigned to the 49th Fighter Squadron, operating mainly in the Taus. He flew combat sorties against the Outcasts under the callsign "Snoopy", until he realized that the flashy lifestyle of a fighter pilot wasn't really for him. Stress, injuries, and trauma stemming from frequent combat encounters and sorties was rapidly getting to his head, and so he took his leave from the CR.
Life after the CR was sketchy, as he seemed to be unable to find legitimate work anywhere. His veteran status in the Libertonian Military put off many an employer as the war with Rheinland was becoming increasingly unpopular, and so he simply roamed around Sirius, taking small jobs wherever he went. During this time, he became involved with the Junker Marauders, helping to erect and maintain Beaumont Spire briefly until he disappeared from the face of Sirius for a month. It wasn't until much later down the line that Tal reappeared, this time working for the resurgent Core, having apparently undergone a journey of self-reflection and discovery. It is suspected that he was working for the LSF at this time, as a private military contractor under the Special Activities Division/Special Operations Group, training resistance fighters on Leeds.
Following the Core's successful capture of Yaren and Planet Nauru, Tal was part of a contingent of mercenaries sent to reinforce Core assets on Nauru, starting off with just a week-long search-and-destroy mission aimed at stomping out any remaining Corsair presence on the planet. The length of the mission grew and grew, until it was a full-on six-month garrison mission at a Core forward operating base. It was here that he survived the Great Ion Storm of 822, lucky enough to have received supplies from a transport just days before the storm hit Sirius. For the rest of the month, his garrison was on high alert, wary of any potential Corsair raids aiming to take advantage of the lack of communications between the base and Core command, although no attack ever came. It wasn't even known at the time if Nauru even had an appreciable Corsair presence planetside.
After Nauru, Tal found himself with a fair amount of money, and was willing to settle down somewhere a bit more stable for the long haul. After some milling about as a Freelance pilot, Tal found freight work with the GMG, after meeting Guildmaster Keiji Namura. Gradually, he became more and more part of the Guild, and was eventually absorbed into the GMG's esteemed Paramilitary division as an interceptor pilot. Stationed on Gas Miner Ogashawa, he flew sorties in a Karasu heavy fighter dubbed the Silver Bullet, after the ship's distinctive appearance and an aerial ramming attack incident in which he speared and disabled a pirate Waran bomber.
Unfortunately, the original Silver Bullet was disabled in a confrontation between Guild forces and Nomad-Infected Kusari Naval Forces pilots. While conducting a strafing run on an Isejin-affiliated gunship, his vessel was caught by a full primary battery salvo from a Hatchet destroyer, which erased the entire rear half of the fighter. With no weapons or engine remaining, he coordinated an ejection to avoid capture by Wilde forces and was rescued by Guildmaster Keiji Namura, suffering minor injuries related to the ejection.
In late-823 A.S., he and the rest of the 2nd Interceptor Division were temporarily reassigned to Iejima Station following a threat from an independent group of Corsair battleship captains, flying T-493-B Kaichous from Iejima. Once two weeks had passed without an attack, he and his squadron were relocated back to Niigata Star City. Tal was later given command of the 2nd Interceptor Division, nicknamed "Dealers in Death", and was reassigned yet again to Gas Miner Ogashawa to fly in support of the VWA-BD-Order Anti-Corsair Joint Strike Force. Due to new Guild leadership and administrative policies, which emphasize cooperation and a military draw-down over Namura's "take all comers" policy, the 2nd Interceptor Division, and many other squadrons, were dissolved on April 24, their assets being scrapped or sold to make way for an expanded miner fleet.
In early 824 A.S., Keiji Namura mysteriously disappeared without a trace, leaving most of the Guild puzzled as to his whereabouts. Tal Ravis and the 2nd Interceptor Division were tasked with the initial combat search-and-rescue operations as Ogashawa was closest to the Guildmaster's last-known location, although their preliminary search yielded nothing. Despite their efforts, the 2nd Interceptor Division was unable to locate Keiji Namura before their disestablishment.
Several months after his discharge from the GMG, Tal Ravis, with the assistance of several inside men and investigators, was able to pinpoint the location of Keiji Namura, eventually intercepting a slave freighter in the Tau-23 system. Killing four people in the process, he rescued Namura from his captors, taking him back to civilization. Though Keiji offered him a position as his right-hand man, Tal respectfully declined, choosing instead to seek a quieter life back on Manhattan.
After a lonely month of living in an apartment complex on Planet Manhattan, Tal found himself seeking adventure again, choosing not to waste away slowly in silence. His lease was quickly cancelled and he was back among the stars, working with the contracting group Cold Harbor on Planet Sprague in support of Bretonian forces, culling pirate, Gallic, and insurgent activity on the growing planet. In mid-825 AS, he was placed on medical leave for roughly a month after suffering an injured back and right ankle from an IED blast. He returned to active service and supported Bretonian combat operations on Gran Canaria, participating notably in the initial invasion and subsequent Battle of Las Palmas, which saw roughly 80% of the planet’s largest Zoner settlement destroyed over the course of a month. Within a week of the battle’s beginning, Tal, originally part of a twelve-man quick reaction force sent to help delay an invasion force of roughly 10,000 Zoner and Corsair insurgents, was one of three remaining combat-effective members of the QRF, going on to see the battle through to its finish and being wounded three times in the process.
At the end of his contract cycle, he opted not to renew with the Kingdom of Bretonia, and returned to Planet Manhattan where he stayed until contacted by operational planners from the Battlegroup Auxesia. Accepting the offer of 100 million credits to assist in an attack on a major Unioner station, Pacifica Base, and participate in a blockade of the Bering system, he was credited with delivering the two NEMP devices that disabled the installation, participating in numerous skirmishes as well as the destruction of smugglers attempting to deliver repair commodities to the base.
Ageira Technologies Mark 15 Mod. 2
The Ageira Technologies Armament Subsystems Mark 15 Adaptive Rifle System, in particular, it's Mod. 2 iteration, is a magazine-fed, closed-bolt, electronic impulse, radial-delayed blowback-operated select-fire rifle employing a proprietary high-velocity 6mm caseless anti-armor round. Designed as a simple, lightweight weapon geared towards long-range combat operations, the Mark 15 is highly modular and can be easily reconfigured depending on mission needs.
Originally developed for the Libertonian Armed Forces' Lightweight Combat Rifle program in early 800 A.S., the Mark 15 was selected as the winner and was produced under limited contract as a ballistic alternative to the then-standard issue Ageira-manufactured "Backblast" tachyon rifles. Mark 15 rifles underwent multiple upgrades and modifications to prolong their service life, though as of 823 A.S., the Mark 15 inventory was being divested in favor of newer, more modern Enforcer IV tachyon weapons. Some examples remain in service with select special operations units, but the majority of users are now independent entities and as such, the Mark 15 and it's many derivatives are now primarily marketed towards Freelancers and Private Military Contractors.
The Mark 15 is chambered in an Ageira-developed 6x28mm caseless armor-piercing round and operates on a radial-delayed blowback system that rotates the bolt as it accelerates the bolt carrier, thus increasing effective bolt carrier mass and reducing felt recoil as well as improving overall reliability. A stout lithium-ion battery located within the bolt carrier group provides power to the electronic firing pin, and lasts for roughly 30,000 rounds before requiring a recharge. While the short nature of the bolt carrier does not necessitate the use of an external buffer tube, rifles are shipped with (optional) buffer extensions to help reduce recoil and improve stability. All rifles feed from 40-round double-stack box magazines, with a multitude of aftermarket options available.
The Mark 15 features an ambidextrous fire selector, magazine release, and bolt catch, with a programmable ammunition counter located on the left side of the upper receiver. Rifles are shipped with a fully-adjustable buttstock and a slim free-floated handguard with modular rail units on four sides to accept a variety of sights, grips, and other accessories, as well as longer or shorter barrels. The original handguard was an elongated reproduction of the shortened Ageira heatshield for compact variants of the Backblast, with added electromagnetic mounting surfaces at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock positions. This proved to be fairly heavy and unwieldy when employed in rifle-length configurations, and so Ageira R&D pursued the original Ageira lightweight rail design. The second-generation handguard served well in it's intended purpose, though the in-house-developed mounting solution was eventually deemed not strong enough for duty use, causing severe loss of zero after prolonged use in rougher field conditions. To remedy this, a heavier, stronger 4-bolt iridium-reinforced mounting system was developed, fitted with an integrated slot for quick-detach sling mounts. Rumors of a fourth generation monolithic upper receiver unit are floating around some enthusiast Neural Net boards.
The handguard, lower, and upper receivers are entirely made from special stamped temperature-resistant alloys, with most parts made from high-grade polymers and alloys for durability and longevity. The result of this is a rather lightweight platform, at roughly 3 kilograms fully loaded with a 40-round magazine, but also one that is intensely durable and can withstand all types of environments and pressures.
Detroit Munitions FWG-5
The Detroit Munitions FWG-5 "Featherweight" (Free-electron Weapon, General-purpose, Mark 5 Mod. 0) is a customized laser pistol produced in limited quantities by the Detroit Munitions arms company, based off of the successful FWG-series of directed energy weapons. Owing to its name, the 5-model is a traditional free-electron laser that focuses amplified light in order to damage targets via heating materials to melting temperatures, though as with all traditional laser weaponry, the effective range and firepower are affected wildly by environmental conditions. Nonetheless, it remains a popular duty and carry weapon, especially in the Edge Worlds amongst Freelancers looking for a lightweight, if not long, sidearm that is highly effective at close ranges.
The FWG series is notable for their reinforced polymer frames, capable of withstanding heat from the prolonged discharge of a directed energy weapon without any deformations and allowing for a much lighter weapon overall. While normally plated entirely in a decorative nickel alloy, the Featherweight model has removed most of the coating aside from some essential accents to reduce weight, an overall theme mimicked in modifications such as the indentations along the upper around non-critical components. A modified removable "double-stacked" heatsink unit, accessible and vented to open air via a traditional release button on the grip, provides a 40% weight reduction over the stock heatsink while retaining 90% cooling efficiency. Power for the actual laser is provided via a small, highly-efficient power cell in the rear of the weapon, which can be accessed and replaced by pressing two recessed push-buttons on the sides. Overall, the Featherweight model is lighter, better balanced, and more pointable than the stock FWG-5, though slightly less durable and heat-efficient.
Fire control is manipulated via a recessed knob located forward of the trigger guard, which allows visible/non-visible, continuous beam or pulse, and rate of fire control from 200 to 1200 RPM. There is no manual safety, with Detroit Munitions opting for a trigger safety that only actuates off of a specific, firm finger movement. Depressing the safety lever "activates" the weapon, while depressing the trigger gives the command to fire.
Tal's personal example is equipped with an additional beam-focusing diode, a compact weaponlight, and a slide-mounted closed-emitter LED reflex collimator sight, commonly referred to by both him and members of his team as a "Roland Special".
A Scimitar, bought secondhand from a dealer on Planet Los Angeles by Tal shortly after he graduated from boot camp. Registered in Liberty as POI998 with the serial number 14-009, the ship has been with Tal for over 7 years now, facing extensive modification along the way.
The first of these modifications involved caging off a section of the cargo bay for re-purposing as a living area, featuring a small metal cot, a folding table attached to the wall, and storage drawers underneath the bed. A small bathroom with shower, toilet, and sink is placed across the small hall, which leads back up to the cockpit. These modifications were necessary considering that Tal was disowned by his vehemently anti-military parents following his decision to enlist, and as such he had nowhere to stay during the downtime between boot camp and further training.
The second of the modifications were two navigation lights, one red and one green, placed on the wingtips of his ship. These help to alert other ships of his presence and lower the risk of collision.
The third of his modifications involved getting a lift fan installed and hooked up to his ship's stock engine, allowing him to conduct vertical takeoffs and landings. While completely unnecessary with the inclusion of stock vertical thrusters, he purchased the modifications anyways to better distinguish himself. This VTOL system was used once on Planet Nauru, where the jet exhaust from his engine kicked up sand hard enough that it chipped paint off of a nearby parked Anki freighter.
The last of his modifications so far are mainly cosmetic, as he got his stock engine swapped out for an HN-series light fighter engine. The new engine's longer exhaust proves to be a hazard when used in conjunction with VTOL mode, as it has been shown to melt some older-model launchpads on Manhattan.
Cruel Summer is armed with 4 Enforcer VIs and 1 CP-L Mark 1 Mod. 0 Advanced Debilitator, with iridium armor struts (Universal, Level VIII) in the cargo bay.
Shotgun Diplomacy (Faction)