Previous Page Next Page

UTC:       Local:

Home Page Index Page

One Good Soldier: Chapter Seven

       Last updated: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 18:48 EDT



July 1, 2394 A.D.
Mars Orbit, Sol System
Saturday, 10:40 AM, Earth Eastern Standard Time

    “So then, Staff Sergeant Suez says to First Sergeant McCandless that he is standing on the target coordinate spot, right?” Private First Class Rondi Howser held up her hands and shrugged her shoulders at the others around her in the shower. The movement of her arms exaggerated her brilliant red, black, and blue cobra high resolution laser-printed tattoo. It curled around her left leg three times from the knee, up between her legs from behind, across her rippled abdominal muscles, and around both breasts with its open mouth and fangs showing on the left side of her midsection. The red and blue were fluorescent and glowed brilliantly in the low lighting of the showers. “Then the first sergeant tells the colonel that we had secured the spot.”

    “Yeah, we were there. We heard it, private.” Army Specialist Karla Hammermill responded almost annoyed by the PFC’s story. But the two of them had been running partners for more than a year since they had both been deployed to the Madira and the Army Specialist had gotten used to the Marine’s tall tales.

    “Sure, you may have heard it on the QM wireless, but you didn’t see it,” Corporal Sandy Cross who was in McCandless’ team added. “I was there. Goddamned FUBAR if we ever get attacked like that in real life.”

    “The next thing you know,” Howser continued, “we, well shit, we’re all standing on the hill looking around at all these empty e-suits and all the sudden just five of us plus the two sergeants were surrounded by like two hundred fucking Marines from the Blair. Snap! Just like that we were outnumbered and surrounded.”

    “Don’t undersell it, Howser. We were waaay-the-fuck outnumbered,” Cross added.

    “Right. We were waaay fucking outnumbered. There was no way in hell that we were gonna hold that hill with those kinds of odds against us barring some kinda fucking miracle.”

    “So?” one of the Army pukes shrugged her shoulders at her.

    “So? Don’t you see? What the staff sergeant did next is what was so brilliant. He self-destructed his suit! Now if that ain’t a big fuckin’ ‘oohrah’ I don’t know what is. The simulation refs said the blast took out everything in a two hundred meter diameter.” Rondi stepped away from her shower head and it turned itself off. The dryer blasted her for about five seconds and then she began rummaging through her bag for her other personal hygiene sundries.

    “We thought that was an accident,” Karla said in disbelief. “I was told that there was a suit malfunction caused by damage from the fight.”

    “Nope, you can read the sim logs. He blew it himself.” Rondi pulled up her female specific compression undergarment into place and stood tall in front of a sink and mirror as she pulled and squirmed into her Marine issue compression short sleeve top. “It was all Staff Sergeant Suez.”

    “Goddamned crazy fucking jarheads think it was cool that their NCO sacrificed them all to take a fucking hill. Glad he ain’t my NCO,” another Army puke added.

    “Hey, fuck you! The Sarge followed orders and took the hill,” Rondi snapped back while she adjusted her top. “Hey, stow that shit!” Another Army woman Rondi didn’t know shouted from further down the shower stalls.

    “Yes, Sarge!”

    “No shit,” Karla said in a calmer tone to cool the discussion back down. She stepped through the dryer and turned to her running partner. “Don’t pay them no mind. They’re just mad that there was nobody left to kill after you Robots blew your top.”

    “Hey, that would have been funny had it been First Sergeant McCandless that had blown her suit. Ha, ha, blown her top, get it?” Corporal Cross laughed. Nobody else thought it was funny.

    “Damn,” Rondi just shook her head and ignored the corporal. “Suez’s suit blowing took out all of us Robots except for Colonel Roberts. That’s when he, the Warlords, and the rest of you Army pukes swarmed in and held the hill. Hell, at least we had front row seats for it.” She was a good-looking corpse, though. The fireproof fabric conformed to her Marine hardened midsection and pushed up her breasts into a supported position. The compression shirt had been designed to fit skintight as a lightly armored fireproof paper thin layer. And it did. The shirt not only wicked away sweat and moisture, conformed to most environment color schemes, would repel low order shrapnel, resist fire, and compress the muscles improving the wearer’s performance, but it did it in a way that made the person wearing it look damned good. The new universal combat uniforms (UCUs) looked great on recruiting posters. Rondi smiled at herself in the mirror approvingly and tapped the membrane panel under the neckline to display bulkhead blue-gray which was the standard uniform color for onboard a ship. She slapped the 3rd AEM Recon patch onto her left shoulder. The patch and shirt fabrics meshed together and hardened into a seamless decoration. She then slapped her nametag atop her right breast with similar results and then donned her digicam pants. The pants tracked the color scheme of the top and changed to the same blue-gray base colors.

    Marines always wore base color camo that matched their environment. The Navy always wore a darker blue camo base and their tops were different colors depending on their job. There was never any chance of mistaking a Marine for a Navy sailor--that is, unless a Marine was trying to be camouflaged as one. Rondi adjusted her short cropped blond hair and then tucked her cover in her pocket.

    “And here I thought you poor Marines had simply managed to get all yourselves killed and us ‘Army pukes’ had to come charging in and save your asses.” Karla smiled at her friend. She adjusted her UCU for Army digicam with the standard Army green base colors. Her green base color top was just as form fitting, protective, and flattering. “Hoowah!”



    “First Sergeant McCandless did you give Staff Sergeant Suez the authority to self-destruct and take out my platoon of Robots?” Colonel Ramy Roberts the commander of the 3rd Armored E-suit Marines Forward Recon Unit looked solemnly at his long time friend and staff noncommissioned officer (SNCO). He had fought with Tamara all the way back before the Martian Exodus. The two of them were friends and had no problem completely entrusting their lives with one another in the direst of situations. In fact, there had been any number of times when the two of them played rock-paper-scissors to see which one of them got the honor of staring the lion in the teeth first.

    “No, Colonel. I had no idea.” Tamara stood at attention and stared blankly ahead. “On the staff sergeant’s behalf, sir, I must say that he did take out a shitload of enemy combatants, sir.”

    “Taking that into consideration, First Sergeant, is the only reason I haven’t busted his balls further down. However, he did take out my entire platoon!” Colonel Roberts turned his attention from Tamara to Tommy. “Well, Staff Sergeant Suez? Just what in the flying fuck makes you think you have the authority to self-destruct not just yourself but an entire platoon of Marines? I mean, there I was all by myself with nothing but a bunch of damned Army pukes to help me retake and hold our objective. Do you realize how much money Uncle Sam has invested in a platoon of AEMs? Well?!”

    “Sir, I uh, was pretty sure we were dead anyway and our objective was to take that hill, sir,” Tommy replied nervously.

    “Take it! Take it!” Roberts shouted. “Take it, hell. You took it alright! You took it and blew it to fuck and gone. Had it been the real world and not a sim you would have blown that hill half way to the Oort Cloud. What if there was something special about that hill that we needed? A decision like that is above your pay grade soldier. Hell, it’s above my pay grade!”

    “Had no intel on the hill, sir. Just that we were supposed to take it. So, rather than die to railgun rounds I decided to go out taking as many of the enemy with me as I could, sir.” Tommy said, still standing stiff as a board and looking forward.

    “Staff Sergeant,” Colonel Roberts paused and lowered the tone in his voice. “Next time, try to come up with a less costly solution. You are dismissed. Go get some lunch and meet the dignitary if you can. From what I hear she’ll likely be hanging out with the mecha jocks. Now get. I’ve got to think on this situation more. And stay out of my sight for a little while or you might find that I might lose my temper again.”

    “Yes, sir!” Tommy spun on his heel and marched out of Robert’s office.

    Once the younger SNCO had closed the door behind him Ramy motioned to Tamara to have a seat. He sat down and could no longer contain himself; he burst into laughter. Tamara followed suit. They laughed for several minutes until tears filled their eyes and their sides hurt.

    “Goddamned if that wasn’t the quickest damned exercise I’d ever been in,” Roberts pulled a bottle from his desk drawer along with two glasses. “I mean, hell, why not just blow everybody up each time we get in a fight. Makes it all go by rather quickly.”

    “Well, sir,” Tamara nodded in acceptance of the shot of brandy. “We’d kinda start running short on Marines after judicious use of that tactic, sir.”

    “Goddamned right, Tammy.” He held up his glass and silently toasted with his first sergeant. “So what are we gonna do about our staff sergeant, huh? That was amazingly quick-witted. When you saw all of those damned enemy AEMs pop into reality in front of you what did you plan to do?”

    “Mostly, shit my suit, sir. Then I thought I could take one or two of them with me before I was killed. I was reaching for a grenade but by the time I had thought of that, Tommy had killed all of us.” Tamara finished the shot of brandy and sat it back down on Ramy’s desk.

    “He’s up for E-7. Been a while since we had a ‘Gunny’ around the Robots-- since Nicks took the job at the Island.” Roberts laughed out loud. “I’d love to have seen the look on the Blair’s Ground Boss when he had to tell Admiral Walker that she had just lost over two hundred of her Marines about one second after they hit the ground. Goddamn, I’d love to’ve been a fly on that bulkhead.”

    “Damn right. I’ll keep on Suez about it. He’s a damned fine Marine, sir. You know that. Hell, I’ve thought so ever since we got him before the Battle of the Oort. I recall him sweatin’ like a mother needing a chill pill more than any Marine I ever saw. But, Tommy wouldn’t take the drugs. And then he did the damndest thing after we loaded our gear. He unwrapped a piece of Halloween candy with his e-suit gloves on. I’ve never seen such suit control before. And green as hell and on his first mission he managed to take out several enemy haulers with that commandeered Seppy mass driver. The kid has gift at being an armored e-suit Marine, sir.”

    “Good. Let’s don’t razz him too much and give the poor kid a complex of some sort. And, let’s hope and pray that we ain’t never stuck with him in situation where we are instantly, amazingly outnumbered.” Roberts swiveled his desk chair and pulled a drawer open. He pulled out a folder and handed it to her.

    “What’s this, Colonel?” Tamara took the manila folder from him and opened it. It was a personnel file of new recruits. By the looks of it, the Robots were getting a few new faces. The face in the top file was of a new second lieutenant on his first tour. Tamara was certain that was just what they needed was a goddamned fresh-out green lieutenant.

    “Well after Major Noonez retired to the Pentagon, we have finally gotten, or should I say are getting, a brand spanking new second lieutenant. We pick him up at the Oort station this afternoon. Read up on him. Otherwise, take some time for yourself.”

    “I think I’m gonna have some lunch. You interested?” Ramy shoved the desk drawer to and stood up, adjusted the waistband of his blue-gray digicam pants and tucked in the utility cover in his back pocket just in case he went outside. In space that wasn’t likely, but trained habits die hard. And who knew? With the advent of these new QMT teleporters any damned thing could happen.



    “Colonel Fink, Mr. Stavros, Ms Moore, welcome to the flight line,” the young looking lieutenant who was assigned them as a tour guide held out his arm as the elevator doors slid open. After a quick introduction to the bridge crew, senior staff, and the CO, RADM Jefferson, they had been handed off to a liaison officer for special dignitaries and were being toured around the ship. Dee didn’t mind so much as she was getting to see the most awesome behemoth of firepower the United States military had ever managed. They had seen the bridge at the top of the tower and the admiral had even let her sit in the captain’s chair.

    Under other circumstances the three civilians wouldn’t have been as much of a sore-thumb-sticking-out amidst the crew of a U.S. Navy warship other than the fact that they were constantly shadowed by a very large dark skinned man wearing a black suit and Secret Service visor. Dee had gotten so used to not going anywhere without an agent following behind that she paid them no attention. But her dad had insisted that Clay Jackson, the giant former AEM turned presidential bodyguard, go along with her on this planned out of system trip. Clearly, Clay made Jay uncomfortable, but if Colonel Fink even noticed him she couldn’t tell.

    The hangar bay was filled with activity, as ingressing SH-102 Starhawks brought in the last cargo from Mars before the Madira would QMT to the Oort. Navy VTF-32 Ares-T class aerospace fighters filled the hangar from one end to the other and the technicians, flight deck officers, and pilots were scurrying all about in T-shirts or coveralls of solid reds, greens, blacks, yellows, or oranges depending on their particular jobs. Automated robot forklifts on preprogrammed routes or that were AIC controlled were zigging and zagging in and out between vehicles and people carrying loads to and fro. The yellow-and-black striped vehicles almost looked like giant mutant mechanical insect menaces from early science fiction movies. Having grown up in Mississippi, the scene most reminded Dee of a fireant mound that had been kicked over. She knew what happened when you pissed off a fireant mound and she was curious what would happen if you pissed off this bunch of deadly fireants.

    On the starboard side of the supercarrier’s hangar bay were the Marine FM-12 Strike Mecha fighters. Most of them were in fighter-mode being loaded into their appropriate hangar location. A few of them were in bot or eagle modes and were being reloaded or serviced. Standing around the mecha were two Navy officers and one Marine that Dee had seen at the White House over six years ago after that nightmare at Disney World. There was another female Navy officer, two female Marine officers, an Army colonel, and a few other Marines, soldiers, and sailors that she didn’t know.

    “Captain Boland, Commander Fisher, nice to see you again. Major Strong.” Dee nodded and shook their hands. She had seen them a few times around the Beltway the year she had turned twelve and felt some familiarity with them. She wasn’t in any branch of the military yet anyway and was only a student in a private military school, so military protocols didn’t exactly apply to her. Also, she was the First Daughter of the country, and could bend protocols every now and then and get away with it.

    DeathRay and Fish had sat by her at her father’s address to the nation just after the incident in Orlando. And the long blond haired U.S. Marine FM-12 mecha jock beside them was none other than Delilah “Jawbone” Strong. Jawbone had literally singlehandedly saved her and her family as they were trying to get away from wild menacing terrorist controlled dinosaur robots in Orlando. Dee had really liked Jawbone the few times she had met her and looked up to the Marine. In her eyes, there was only one other Marine that was cooler, her dad. She did wonder what the Marine was doing here since last she had known Jawbone was stationed in Florida. Dee also noted that she had been promoted to major. Her dad had seen fit to have her promoted from lieutenant to captain after the Orlando thing. Now, six years later she was a major. Dee was proud of her. Her guess was that the hotshot mecha jock wanted to be where the action was, and everybody knew that there were only two ships in the fleet for that, the Blair and the Madira. Dee hoped one day she’d get the Madira.

    “Oh, this is my instructor Colonel Walt Fink, and my wingman at school Jay Stavros.” Dee could tell that Rat didn’t like her taking the lead of the conversation, but she was the President’s daughter and if he didn’t like it…

    “Colonel, Ms Moore, Mr. Stavros,” DeathRay stepped forward as if he were not sure if he should address the Secret Service agent or not. Dee could see that he hesitated slightly, and then decided against doing so. After all, Dee and everybody else noticed the big man had no change of expression on his face after Boland glanced at him. Dee had always thought Clay was hilarious ever since the first day she had met him.

    “Let me introduce a few folks to you,” DeathRay continued. “This is U.S. Army Colonel Mason Warboys, leader of the Warlords M3A17-T Tank Mecha Squad. These two here are U.S. Marine FM-12 Strike Mecha Fighter pilots Lieutenant Colonel Caroline ‘Deuce’ Leeland and Major Connie ‘Skinny’ Munk of the mecha squadron called the Utopian Saviors. Major Strong there just joined them a few months back. And this is U.S. Navy Commander Wendy ‘Poser’ Hill the commander of the VTF-32 Ares-T Mecha squadron Demon Dawgs. I’m Captain Jack Boland, they call me DeathRay and this is my wingman Commander Karen ‘Fish’ Fisher we’re from the Navy squadron known as the Gods of War.” Dee liked the way Boland spoke and stood and, well, everything about it him. She could find it real easy to do more than just “like” the man. Not only was he a tried and true bona fide hero and super mecha jock, he was also easy on the eyes in an action hero sort of way. She instinctively adjusted her long straight black hair behind her ear the way her mother so often did.

    “It’s nice to see you again, Ms. Moore,” Delilah added and shook her hand and then shook Jay’s as well. Dee could tell by the way her wingman was eyeing the Marine major that he thought she was easy on the eyes or hard on something else, and she wasn’t quite sure which was distressing her cohort the most. Dee had to admit that Jawbone was worth looking at twice. Hell, all of them, men and women alike, in that group of transfigurable mecha pilots were rock hard super athletes, but there were a few that had more than just the killer physique. There were a few that had the “it” factor. And Jawbone and one of the other female mecha jocks there had “it.” Dee looked twice at Poser and Jawbone and wondered why they weren’t in another line of work. Of course, that is exactly what people said about her. But she understood exactly why the two women were there. They were there to fly state-of-the-art fighting mecha!

    “Ms. Moore,” Colonel Warboys stepped forward and offered his hand. “You may not realize this, but we met very briefly when you were about six years old on the precipice of a bluff at Mons City on Mars. I was leading the tank squadron that met you and your family there that horrible day. Then I met you a little later on in the afternoon as well when I got to meet your father for the first time. He is a great man.”

    “Oh! Yes. You are Warlord One! I remember you like it was yesterday.” Dee turned to her bodyguard and pointed a thumb at him. “Clay Jackson was there right beside me in that foxhole, Colonel. He was a sergeant AEM at the time. It is good to finally put a face to the giant metal monster I remember. I’m sorry I don’t recall meeting you out of your armor.”

    “Ma’am. You were very tired and had had a very long day. It’s understandable.” Warboys smiled a very personable warm grin at her that reminded her of her father.

    “Colonel,” Clay shook the hand that Warboys offered. “It was a damned good thing the Warlords and those mechaheads from the Blair arrived when you did that day.”

    “Segeant,” Clay nodded solemnly at Warboys’ as he shook his hand. “That was a bad day for certain.”

    “One day on Mars that I wouldn’t want to relive, Colonel,” the bodyguard replied.

    “Amen to that,” Fish added. “I think everybody but Jawbone here was there that day.”

    “Ms. Moore and I had our fun elsewhere, didn’t we, ma’am?” Jawbone added.

    “I don’t recall thinking of any of it as fun,” Dee replied.

    “Me neither,” Jawbone agreed. “Lost a couple good friends that day.”

    “I read about that on the Web,” Lieutenant Colonel Leeland added. “We’ve all somehow or other been in it together. The Saviors, including Skinny and myself were crawling around on that enemy hauler that was trying to crash on top of you during the Seppy Exodus. We tore that rust bucket to shreds but couldn’t stop it.”

    “Right,” DeathRay stepped in to change the subject. “Who wants to go for a ride in some mecha?”

    “Can we?” Dee tried her best not to grin from ear to ear like the little girl the soldiers remembered from that day on Mars or from watching her grow up on television.

    “Well, I’ll have to ask the CAG first,” DeathRay said almost a bit too smugly not to notice.

    “Oh, Jesus! You’re a corny ham, sir,” his wingman laughed at him not with him.

    “For those not in on the joke,” Commander Hill smirked. “Captain Boland here is the Commander of the Air Group and has been for more than a decade. Of course, what he probably wouldn’t tell you is that he was the CAG before that once, but he managed to get himself busted out of it for blowing up a civilian terraformer dome in the southern Martian desert.”

    “Alright, alright, you don’t have to go bringing up that, Poser,” Boland smiled his best action-hero smile. There must’ve been some funny and embarrassing story behind the Marine’s callsign. Dee was afraid to ask.

    Bree, any idea how Poser got her callsign, she thought to her AIC.

    I’ll see what I can dig up. Hold on. The AIC paused briefly. I did find that Wendy Hill appeared in a men’s magazine in a article titled, “Women of the Military.” Perhaps that is the reason?

    Dee laughed to herself. She got the joke. She wondered how Captain Boland had gotten his callsign, and kept her attention on his smile. She really liked it. A lot.

    “Just so happens I have three trainers set up,” DeathRay said. “Two Ares-Ts and one FM-12. I thought we might play a little three-on-three dogfight if you’re up for it?”

    “Up for it?” Dee almost shouted. “Jay and I are more than up for it. Right, Jay?”

    “You bet!” Stavros replied eagerly.

    “Well, we’re gonna play this game a little differently than you two might be used to. One of you will be my wingman in the Ares-T with Fish riding back seat for you and the other will be Deuce’s wingman with Jawbone riding back seat. Skinny will fly with the Marine team. Poser can fly Colonel Fink with her if the colonel is up for a ride.”

    “You bet, captain,” Fink responded.

    “So, who wants to be the navy aviator and who wants to be a jarhead?” Boland looked at Jay first then he rested his gaze on Dee. Dee almost volunteered to ride with him.

    “Should we flip for it?” Dee asked although she really wanted to be in the FM-12. She was almost torn, because she wouldn’t mind being DeathRay’s wingman – among other things – but flying a Marine FM-12 would be the shit. So, she was only almost torn about the decision. She was certain Jay felt the same way about flying with Major Strong, but he’d have a win-win situation there being in an FM-12 and the hot Marine that seemed to be getting his hackles up.

    “Flip for it, Dee,” Jay replied and was clearly as excited as she was.

    “Ms. Moore, I’m not so sure that would be a good idea, ma’am,” Clay stepped forward and warned her. “There would be no protective services there.”

    “Oh, Clay, you’re just a nervous old lady. You can’t always be with me, I can take care of myself, and the fine mecha jocks will be right there with me the whole way. I’ll have America’s finest to protect me in your absence. That is, unless you want to ride in one of the fighters.” Dee gave him a look that she borrowed from her father that he used with them to say without words that the discussion was over.

    “Like father, like daughter,” Clay mumbled to himself. Dee ignored it, mostly. She also loved it when people said that.

    “What’s that?” she smiled at the giant bodyguard.

    “Since I can’t talk you out of it, ma’am, please be careful.”

    “Bah. These great pilots will be right there with me, Clay. And so will Colonel Fink. You really need to consider trying to relax.” Dee knew that careful was for old ladies and not for upcoming young hotshot fighter pilots.

    “I will one day, ma’am, but not while I’m with you,” Clay smiled at the President’s daughter. Dee ignored the comment.



    “So let me get this straight, Wally,” Rear Admiral Lower Half (RDML) Sharon “Fullback” Walker towered over the two-star admiral and smiled. “You mean my Marines were trapped and sitting ducks because some Petty Officer-“

    “Petty Officer First Class,” Admiral Jefferson corrected his longtime colleague, friend, and recent simulated enemy.

    “Uh, Petty Officer First Class, right. Because some Petty Officer First Class was doing a regularly scheduled maintenance on the main tower elevator and it was therefore locked down because of safety regs?” Sharon finished her rhetorical question.

    “That is absolutely right, Fullback. Care for a snort?” Wallace sat down behind his desk and motioned at the one-star admiral and CO of the Blair to have a seat.

    “Don’t mind if I do.” Sharon sat down and crossed her legs all lady-like. But Wallace knew better than to think of her as anything but tougher than nails and then some. Fullback had been her callsign because way back in her Navy Academy days, she had played fullback for the Navy, which was not a position that many females played. It was especially not a position that many females played with the expertise and drive that Sharon had. Sharon was built more like a stack of bricks, a big stack of very big and mean bricks, and had a face that her mother might say was “handsome.” More recently, Wally had been hearing rumors that her COB, Command Master Chief Petty Officer Bill Edwards, might think of her as more than handsome, but rumors never bothered Wally as long as they didn’t bother the people they were about, and they didn’t impact the performance of the sailors involved. And, besides, it wasn’t any of his damned business. Good for Sharon, was his opinion.

    Besides, what Sharon lacked in the beauty department she more than made up for in the brawn and brain department. She could have been a champion body builder at the Academy but she was more ambitious and way smarter. And on top of that she could run a four-point-one second forty-yard dash and do it over and over for four quarters while being hit hard by big, mean Army linebackers. She was definitely Navy Fleet Officer material. Wallace had played lineman a couple of the years with Sharon running behind him. The two admirals had been teammates for a very long time. That’s what made this situation so damned funny.

    “So, do you have a problem with a ship’s crew keeping up with its routine maintenance schedule, Sharon?” Wallace had to grit his teeth to keep from laughing while he handed his friend two fingers of scotch he poured up from the bottle in his desk.

    “Hell no, Wally. But if you asked me, and I know you didn’t, it was kind of like cheating or gaming the system.” Sharon smiled, her whiter than white teeth contrasting against her ebony skin. She took the drink and took a tall pull from it.

    “Now you aren’t gonna start claiming the ref’s made a bad call and that’s why the Blair lost the game are you?”

    “You know me, Wally. I’d never use a bad call as an excuse. We should have had a better battle plan or my Marines should’ve improvised better when they got trapped. I must say that your crew was quite creative with their improvisational skills.”

    “Yeah, I don’t know whether to reprimand or promote them. But it did sure as hell work.” Wallace refilled his glass then stretched across his desk to do the same for Sharon. “I do have some concerns, though.”

    “Such as?”

    “Well, sure we won the wargame, but to win it we treated it like a game. On both sides we were just gaming. What would your Marines have done if it were a real firefight?” Wallace leaned back and exhaled in an attempt to relax.

    “They would have done what Marines do, what soldiers and sailors always do, Wally. Improvise, fight, die, succeed. And not necessarily in that order,” Sharon replied.

    “Sure, but think of it a bit more fleet-wide. We haven’t been in a real shooting engagement for nearly six years now. How ready are we going to be when the President finally decides to take it to the Seppies in their own star system? You know that is coming soon. You can’t just secede from the Union. Wasn’t it Zachary Taylor that said something like he would personally lead the Army against persons taken in rebellion against the Union, and that he would hang them with less reluctance than he would spies?”

    Uncle Timmy? he double-checked with his AIC.

    Aye, sir. It was Zachary Taylor, the twelfth President and military man to boot, Uncle Timmy quickly responded. Do you need more, sir?

    That’ll do, Tim.

    “You were the military history major, not me,” Sharon replied.

    “Something just doesn’t set right with the way things are right now,” Wallace continued. “We haven’t heard hide nor hair of the Seppies since the Battle of the Oort. President Moore has been doing his best to fight the idiots in Congress to build up the fleet but that has been slow and marginal. You know that Ahmi hasn’t had the same problem dealing with her constituents.”

    “If she did, she’d have them killed. Or do it herself. She’s a bloodthirsty bitch, that one,” Sharon agreed.

    “We better get ready. I think America is in for the culmination of the last hundred years of strife between the Martian working class, the colonists, and the manifest destiny explorers.”

    “Yeah, I believe it is coming sooner than we realize, but who knows. God help us is all I can say. But the Seppies haven’t been in a shooting war for the same amount of time either.” Sharon finished her drink and sat it back down at the edge of Wallace’s desk.

    “Good point. Want another?”

    “No, Admiral, I’m on duty. I’ve got to get back to the Blair and get ready for our jaunt in a few hours.”

    “Yeah, me too. Did you want to meet the First Daughter while you’re here?”

    “No thanks, I just don’t have time. And stop being such a Wally-worry-wart, Admiral, it’ll give you heartburn, headaches, and hemorrhoids. We’ve got good troops, you and me. They’ll do what has to be done to get the job done.” Sharon stood up and saluted the two-star admiral. “As always, a pleasure, Admiral Jefferson.”

    “Right back at you, Admiral Walker,” Wallace returned the salute. He was slightly startled by a crackling and sizzling sound and a bright flash of white light and then Sharon vanished from right in front of him. “Goddamn, I’m never gonna get used to that.”

Home Page Index Page




Previous Page Next Page

Page Counter Image