As March turns into April we will today explore one of the most controversial killings in modern times. This gruesome crime touches on the sticky subjects of corporate greed, combat veterans emotionally damaged by their service, and the unprecedented effectiveness of modern military technology.
Naylon Haddock was a complicated man. The second wealthiest human on the planet at the time of his death, Haddock’s life was inextricably entwined with the company he ran. As CEO of the Weyland-Yutani Conglomerate, Naylon Haddock wielded the kind of power normally reserved for elected heads of state.
Weyland-Yutani evolved from the previous Weyland Corporation. The original creation of Sir Peter Weyland, the Weyland Corporation became fabulously successful in producing innovative clean energy solutions for a world struggling with climate change and runaway pollution. While the Weyland Corporation was instrumental in moving the planet toward sustainable energy, the conglomerate that it spawned delved into much darker things.
Naylon Haddock was instrumental in diversifying the Weyland-Yutani Conglomerate into the exploding field of bioweapons. Tapping into a previously unexplored market space, Weyland-Yutani’s unprecedented innovation in the field made Haddock unimaginably wealthy. Along the way, it also made him some dangerous enemies.
Corporal Dwayne Hicks was a squad leader in a small Special Operations-Capable Marine Expeditionary Detachment and a veteran of two previous combat tours. By all accounts an exceptional Marine, Corporal Hicks was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor on his second combat deployment.
Dwayne grew up in Middle America the second son of blue-collar parents Edwin and Mallory Hicks. Like many young men destined for military service, he chafed at the monotony of school.
Hicks enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after his high school graduation.
Hicks’ third major combat operation remains shrouded in controversy. Corporal Hicks and two civilians were the only survivors of what was originally to be a routine search and rescue mission. The details of the operation remain classified to this day, though rumors abound regarding personal involvement by Naylon Haddock and his Weyland-Yutani Corporation.
After Hicks’ return from his final ill-fated op, he was involuntarily medically retired. He was in and out of VA medical facilities for two years being treated for both his physical injuries as well as PTSD. His few acquaintances within the VA system described him as distant and isolated in the months leading up to the shooting.
A combat unit is not unlike a dysfunctional but tight-knit family. When Corporal Hicks lost his tribe he sought retribution. In the months leading up to the attack, he stalked Naylon Haddock both online and in person. Hicks was once arrested at the corporate headquarters of the Weyland-Yutani Conglomerate and subsequently earned the attention of Law Enforcement. However, if hating the likes of Naylon Haddock were a prosecutable offense then much of the world would be incarcerated.
Haddock, for all his undeniable gifts, was also diagnosably paranoid. His estate was equipped with state of the art surveillance, an armored safe room, ballistically resistant construction, and polycarbonate windows. However, as Corporal Hicks used an issue milspec M41A pulse rifle in the shooting, all of Haddock’s preparations were rendered ineffective.
Haddock lived alone on his palatial estate but followed a predictable schedule. In the afternoon he would frequently dismiss his staff and retire to his living room overlooking the sea. Hicks surveilled the man long enough to appreciate his routine and, on the afternoon in question, approached the estate via the ocean.
Hicks’ firing position was carefully selected and placed him with a direct line of sight to the expansive bay windows behind which Haddock typically took his afternoon brandy. The established range from Corporal Hicks’ hide to his target was 273 meters, a simple shot for a man of Corporal Hicks’ skillsets armed with state of the art military firepower. The spring day was overcast, and Haddock was, by all accounts, caught totally unawares.
Hicks’ Pulse Rifle was equipped with a detachable gyro-stabilized electronic sighting unit that automatically compensated for range, parallax, and spindrift. Thusly equipped the maximum effective range of the M41A is published as 1,200 meters. Forensic evaluation of the crime scene indicates that Hicks’ first round was likely the kill shot. The fact that the ex-Marine followed his initial burst with four high explosive grenades made definitive assessment difficult. The devastating extent of Naylon Haddock’s injuries stands in testament to the remarkable effectiveness of modern military small arms.
The standard-issue M41A Pulse Rifle that Corporal Dwayne Hicks used in the assassination was digitally inventoried to his unit arms room and had previously been declared a combat loss on the MTOE (Modified Table of Organization and Equipment). Investigators later surmised that Hicks smuggled the weapon and its ammunition back into the country among his personal gear. As he was injured at the time and processed through the border control system as an urgent medical casualty his personal effects were not subjected to the typical scrutiny. Prosecutors used this fact to establish both his mindset toward Haddock and the extent of his premeditation.
The M41A Pulse Rifle is the product of Armat Battle Systems and has seen front line service with both Army and Marine forces for more than a decade. The M41A was originally developed as the result of the Marine 70 Program, a Corps-wide restructuring of small arms intended to replace the then-issue Harrington Assault Rifle. The Harrington rifle’s manifest shortcomings have been explored in great detail in other venues. The fact that the Army also selected the M41A as its standard Infantry weapon speaks to its many sterling attributes.
In an ironic turn of fate, the M41A incorporated several advanced features from the Weyland Storm Rifle, a private venture of the Weyland-Yutani Conglomerate. In so doing, this killing provides the only example with which I am aware wherein the target of the assassination was killed with a weapon he or she was at least indirectly responsible for developing.
The M41A is a radical design consisting of a titanium aluminide outer casing along with extensive use of temperature resistant polymers for its internal components. The chassis is fully sealed against dirt and moisture, and its microelectronics are hardened to resist EMP. The weapon weighs 3.2 kg empty and 4.9 kg with a fully loaded 99-round magazine and four 30mm grenade launcher rounds.
Unlike its predecessor the Harrington Rifle, the M41A uses an electronic pulse action ignition system, hence the name. The onboard rechargeable Lithium battery is good for at least 10,000 rounds, and the weapon’s shipboard storage racks recharge the batteries automatically.
The M41A is a gas-operated weapon that incorporates a rotating locked breech and hydraulic recoil dampener within a carbon fiber jacket. The fire selector offers safe, semi, four-round burst, and full auto functions. The cyclic rate on full auto is 900 rounds per minute. The cyclic rate on four-round burst is 2,000 rounds per minute. This was the mode Hicks used in the Haddock assassination. The weapon is designed to fire all four rounds before the recoil impulse is transmitted to the firer, allowing exceptional accuracy.
The rifle’s explosive-tipped caseless light armor-piercing ammunition is as radical as the weapon itself. The standard issue M309 10x24mm round pushes a 210-grain steel jacketed high explosive projectile to 2,500 feet per second. The bullet is embedded within a rectangular block of Nitramine 50 propellant. The consumable primer leaves no firing residue.
An Armat engineer carried one of these rounds in her pocket alongside her keys and phone for a full year during the development process before loading the cartridge into a test weapon and firing it. The round still produced accuracy and velocity data that were within military specs. The stellar performance of this system in combat has dispelled any concerns there might have been concerning durability or reliability.
One of the most popular features of the M41A is the U1 30mm over-and-under pump action grenade launcher. This lightweight removable device offers individual soldiers and Marines a significant close to medium range indirect fire capability. The 30x71mm M40 HEDP (High Explosive Dual Purpose) grenades can also be manually armed and thrown in the manner of a conventional hand grenade. The M40 HEDP warhead will penetrate 75mm of rolled homogenous steel at a 90-degree angle of incidence and offers a ten-meter bursting radius in which the operator can expect a fifty percent casualty rate.
Corporal Dwayne Hicks surrendered to authorities immediately after the shooting and remains incarcerated in the ADX Florence Supermax Prison in Florence, Colorado. Hicks spends his days in solitary confinement as his case works its way through the courts. Corporal Hicks maintains a robust group of organized supporters. An online petition demanding his release garnered more than a quarter million digital signatures.
In the gory death of Naylon Haddock, we see personified the ultimate manifestation of greed, rage, and revenge. Haddock was an undeniably evil man, even his closest associates would describe him thus, while the triggerman Hicks could yet still be painted a hero. One of the most remarkable aspects of this sordid tale, however, is that it all unfolded on a dingy spring afternoon, the first day of April.
The remarkable capability of the M41A Pulse rifle system blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. That its might was employed on April 1st to kill the reviled CEO of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation smacks of Wagnerian opera.