|«||Sierra, uh, evaluate and - and make a decision. Only you know what you can and can't achieve.
Collins is an infantryman from the U.S. Army's 21st Brigade Combat Team (21st BCT). As the squad leader of November, he went by the radio callsign of November Actual.
Like the rest of the mechanised units from the 21st, Collins was a part of the NATO force sent to the Republic of Altis and Stratis, deployed in response to the AAF's attack against the peacekeepers of Task Force Aegis.
Steel Pegasus (2035)
One of the few commissioned officers amongst the units dispatched to LZ Mustang as part of Operation Steel Pegasus, Collins led a mechanised unit of AMV-7 Marshall IFVs sent to attack Chalkeia, a city located on the south-eastern coast of Altis.
Before they could commence the operation, however, the 21st's VTOL transports are shot down by anti-aircraft fire; Collins' VTOL being amongst those crashing south-east of the primary LZ. With heavy casualties and friendly troops scattered across the entire region, Collins was forced to take command of the remaining ground elements as he was the sole commissioned officer left amongst the survivors of Mustang.
Not long after, Guardian requested a SITREP from Collins. He reported back that he had no word on the fate of callsigns Quebec and Papa, and that the survivors of Sierra were spread thin around the LZ. After reporting in, Collins had the LZ's Emergency Rendezvous Point (ERV) set up at the surf club south of Aktinarki. He then broadcast a message to all radio channels on the network in the hopes that other survivors would know where to regroup.
Those who were with him were then split into two squads: November and Romeo. November gathered whatever supplies they were able to salvage from the crash and stockpiled them into crates. A casualty collection point was also set up for the surviving combat medics to attend to the wounded. Meanwhile, Romeo was to set up fortifications at the top of the hill next to the chapel and monitor the northern approach for signs of enemy movement. Finally, a scouting party led by Sgt. Ramírez, callsign Sierra Actual, was to check the surrounding area for any intact pieces of heavy ordnance which they could use for fire support.
However, not everything was going according to plan as Sgt. Ramírez' radio went silent not long after departing on their search. Only a few scattered survivors - specifically an armoured vehicle crewman by the name of Corporal Louis Barklem and his ragtag fireteam, heard his radio message and had reached the rally point. Another group of survivors by the callsign of Oscar were being held back by their wounded and would take at least another ten minutes to get to the ERV.
|«||Collins: Negative, Pariah - fall back to the emergency rendezvous point. That's grid 213-2 -
Sturrock: I KNOW WHERE THE ERV IS, LIEUTENANT! The question is, do YOU know where WE are?
Collins: Point Erie and not where I'm asking you to be... over.
Sturrock: If we go, your left flank goes too. And who the hell's gonna block this MSR, if we're - fuck - if we're not here?
Collins: Goddamn it, Pariah! I am giving you a direct order.
Sturrock: Okay, wilco with that! Just send us some guys first.
Collins: Negative! Retreat to the designated co-ordinates. I am not going to ask you again. Respond. Over. Sergeant Sturrock...? Pariah - how copy...? Over.
Sgt. Sturrock disobeys Collins' order to retreat
The situation was further complicated when Sgt. John Sturrock's recon unit, callsign Pariah, were pinned down by an AAF counterattack at Point Erie to the west of the ERV. He asked for reinforcements but Collins denied his support request and ordered Pariah to fall back to the ERV instead. Sturrock vehemently objected and simply cut off his radio in anger.
A few minutes later, the ERV came under attack by a massive infantry force and Collins panickedly sent out yet another message across the network. Fortunately, although they were grossly outnumbered by the enemy, Romeo managed to hold the defensive line and repelled the AAF's assault. Furthermore, Sgt. Sturrock had held the line at Point Erie and helped to thin out the numbers (though only with Cpl. Barklem's aid).
Nonetheless, Collins knew that they had no time to celebrate as the AAF were already encircling the ERV. If they were to have any hopes of getting through to LZ Blazer and linking up with Guardian, they needed to achieve a breakthrough immediately before they would be cut off. After Oscar finally arrived at the ERV, Collins began to plan their next course of action. Sturrock gave his assessment of the terrain and suggested that Collins launch assaults in two directions; Collins' men would attack Point Superior head on while Sturrock and any unassigned troops would clear the ancient ruins at Aktinarki.
However, before Collins could conclude his plans on how to handle transportation for Oscar's wounded, the AAF began to shell the ERV with mortar fire. Collins was forced to have everyone move out without having finalised his plan; a mistake that would undoubtedly come back to haunt them. Even so, he put it aside for now as their primary goal was to secure Point Superior first.
Some good news arrives when Collins spots the wreckage of a crashed VTOL nearby. Thinking that the wreck might still contain a functioning vehicle, Collins has Sturrock send one of his subordinates, Barklem, to investigate the crash site.
The Corporal reported back that the VTOL's cargo was indeed still intact, and that he could get the partially damaged but functioning Marshall IFV up and running. Collins had Barklem assume command over the IFV and assigned him two others to serve as his crewmen. He would be given his old callsign of Sierra and provide fire support for both November and Pariah. With his help, Point Superior is quickly secured with minimal losses. Collins then reported back to Guardian of their success.
Unsurprisingly, Collins' failure to finish their planning meant that Oscar was still left behind at the ERV. He asked how long Oscar's men would take to bring their wounded over but Sturrock interrupted and argued that their window of opportunity was closing fast. He suggested leaving behind the wounded, as if they waited at Superior for Oscar to catch up, they would be cut off by the AAF and would have no time to get across to LZ Blazer. Angered by the Sergeant's disregard for the wounded, Oscar's leader was having none of it and sharply rebuked Sturrock's "plan".
|«||Oscar: I am not going to stand for any more of this shit, Sergeant!
Sturrock: Nope. Neither am I. Lieutenant - are you gonna give the order or am I...?
Collins: I - we, we need to reassess...
Collins' failure to assert leadership causes infighting amongst his troops
Unable to re-establish his authority nor come to a decision, Collins' indecisiveness was now impacting unit cohesion. His command was essentially being usurped by Sturrock, and Oscar was refusing to accept any "suggestions" coming out of the former. Left at an impasse, he could only weakly stammer a response to his subordinates. As they continued to bicker, he eventually chose to leave the decision in Cpl. Barklem's hands, seeing as how the Corporal was the only one who had the means to assist Oscar or help push through to Blazer.
Barklem decided to return to the ERV to ferry Oscar's wounded to Blazer. As the Corporal began picking up the wounded and ferrying them to Blazer, Collins had November and Pariah dig into their positions at Superior and brace for the AAF's counterattack. As if on cue, the AAF's counterattack force began moving towards Superior the instant Barklem finished transporting everyone.
|«||Barklem: Affirmative, but, y'know, where and for how long...? Over.
Collins: Here, at, uh, Superior, for as long as it takes.
Collins arranges to have Sierra and Oscar cover their retreat
He ordered him return to Superior to serve as a rearguard to buy time for November and Pariah's retreat towards Blazer. As soon as Collins reached Blazer, he gave the greenlight for Barklem to pull back as well. Shortly afterwards, Barklem arrived at Blazer alongside the remainder of Oscar's men and walking wounded.
The 21st was now linked up as a combined force and could proceed with the assault upon Chalkeia. Collins was placed in charge of Alpha squad, and would be tasked with seizing three strategic locations inside the city. Deploying from Point Phoenix, Alpha would have to first move on foot to relieve Bravo squad, who had been pinned down from an earlier failed attack. After supporting Bravo, Collins would move onto clear St. Louis, San José, and then finally Atlanta.
After almost an hour of fighting through the streets of Chalkeia, Alpha managed to secure their three primary objectives alongside the other elements of the 21st. However, the AAF had also responded in kind with a counterattack of their own; tanks and IFVs had broken through the defensive line north of the city and were now shelling Collins' position with cannon fire. All hope seemed to be lost when suddenly, air support arrives in the nick of time to drive off the AAF's armour. With their assistance, Chalkeia was firmly under NATO control at long last.
In spite of the disastrous landing early in the operation, the success of Operation Steel Pegasus would see to Collins being promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant in recognition of his leadership during the attack on the city.
Personality and Appearance
Collins appears as an African-American male with a clean shaven face and a neatly cut, black head of hair. His standard attire comprises of MTP-camouflaged fatigues, a ranger green-coloured plate carrier, and a customised Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH). He also prefers to wear a set of combat goggles for eyewear.
A young and inexperienced junior officer, Collins initially lacked the leadership skills to properly take charge of a combat unit. Inflexible and rigid, he followed protocol too strictly and disregarded the advice of his more experienced subordinates like Sturrock, who often had a better awareness of their situation.
This fact is quickly realised by Sturrock, who on several occasions disobeyed Collins' orders and even unofficially took charge in lieu of Collins; the latter being too flustered to even attempt to protest against the insubordination.
Over time however, Collins gradually becomes more accepting of Sturrock's advice, and defers the majority of tactical decisions to his seniors (in terms of experience). By the end of the attack on Chalkeia, he grew enough confidence to distinguish himself as a true leader, and was recognised for his efforts as such following the end of the conflict.
- Collins is oddly referred to by Guardian with being ranked as a "Third Lieutenant".
- While the U.S. Army in real-life did have such a rank early in its existence, the billet was deprecated in 1821 and has not been used since. Some branches of the U.S. military on the other hand, continued to retain the rank until 1915.
- Along with the reintroduction of conscription into the 2035 U.S. military, this would suggest that the Armaverse's U.S. Army has reinstated the rank for its officer corps.
- Collins can die during the events of Final Strike if his squad is wiped out by CSAT/AAF troops, and will be noted in the epilogue as having been killed in action. Canonically however, Collins always survives the events of Steel Pegasus.