I decided to start this day at Hanna’s place, her coffee was better and I needed to do some stuff in public.
The first was when Judy Davis came up and sat down, “That was fun to be a seamstress again, but here are the patches you ordered.”
I looked at what she gave me and called out to Hanna at the counter, “Hanna please note that those two unassigned Slizzard quarters are now the property of Judy Davis please.”
“Now Judy how are we coming on repairing and fitting those goonie suits?”
“That’s going to take a few more days; several of those suits took some serious damage.”
I had to grimace, “Yeah, when Magic stops someone it tends to do that.”
Judy looked a little confused, “Dr. Stuart is the kindest most gentile person I have ever met. I just cannot believe that she did that.”
“That Judy is because you deal with Dr. Stuart. You have never met her alter ego Col. Stuart call sign Magic; believe me when I say you don’t want to.”
“Nor I guess do I want to meet the Reaper,” she said calmly. “But Andy Stuart fits in the kind and gentile also. Why does Buchanan’s crowd try to undermine everything you do?”
“Because they really want to do everything they accuse us of. And they are smart enough to not want to meet the Reaper also. Our crowd, if you will, does everything we do up front and in public. They crawl in the dark, so you can take your pick. The only thing I can promise is that we will defend this place.”
Over my shoulder I heard, “That Ma’am you can believe,” said Ash.
Judy laughed, “That from the Man with the bad rep and the kind heart.”
“Good Lord woman, what are you trying to do? Destroy my image? I’ll have you know I worked hard at it. And I’m not that bad. But for a Fighter Jock it isn’t a bad rep to have.”
Judy just laughed, stood up, and walked away.
“OK Ash,” I asked, “where are we on the booze.’
He grinned, “The mash is ready to cook and Walt has all the coils ready so we could rock and roll tomorrow.”
“Great, if today goes as I hope tomorrow will be a rest day.” I handed Ash one each of the patches Judy had made and told him to put them in a pocket. “Ash you will know when it’s time to put those on.”
We took our cups to the counter thanked Hanna and went out front; the Young Guns were waiting for the order of the day. They were a welcome bevy of pleasant surprises for an old trainer. I have two clear-cut officers, even if one did need some more training.
“Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, here is today’s exercise. You are going to the Hydro site and you will stay undercover the whole way. You will get a 15 min. head start. If Ash or I tag you on the way, you fail this exercise. Does everyone understand the task and conditions?” All I got was a chorus of “Sir, Yes Sir.”
“Then move out, you head start starts NOW!”
Ash just grinned, “Graduation exercise I presume. We gonna go full kit on them and make it really tough?”
It was my turn to get a low evil grin, “You bet we are and I bet you we don’t tag a one of them.”
Ash asked, “Have they gotten that good this fast?”
“Ash, they have worked their tails off. This is flat out the best Basic Class I have ever seen. Mike Reye and Summer Pierce are surprises you would not believe. Summer moves to Candidate status as soon as they go through Walt’s little surprise today.”
“Good Lord, what have you two cooked up?”
“Well, I took the generator unit off of that 10 KW generator rig Dave pulled off of your cruiser and put a water spinner on it. That gave us enough power that he spent all last night setting up two 400 yard pop up qualifying ranges.”
Ash just gave me that infamous lop sided grin, “And you are going to pop it on them cold, I love it.”
“Yep, gear up. I don’t think we will tag one but I am not gonna make it easy.”
We pulled up the sub-vocal microphones and the ear bugs. Brought the head screens over and keyed the chameleon effect. Then my wrist comp chimed the end of the 15 min. timer. “OK Ash, let’s do our best to make their life miserable.” With that, we moved out up the trail.
About 2.5 miles up Ash commed, “I am getting some motion and I don’t think it’s your Kids”
“Me too, and whatever it is it’s too big for the Guns not to mention too many sources.”
At three miles I saw the first one, “Ash is that a damn Unicorn or am I dreaming.”
“Hell Cuz, that looks more like a Unicow. That looks like steaks on the hoof to me!”
“Me too Ash, I am shifting frequency’s; follow me this is going to be fun. Candidate Benjamin, if you are where I think you are you are about 45 yards closer to the big thing Ash calls a Unicow than I am.”
“Did you tag me Sir?” Jai’s voice asked in a concerned tone.
“Nope, just thought about where I would be in your situation. How far did I miss?”
“Sir, I am 43 yards from that load of hamburger and how did you know Walt had given me a sub-vocal mike?”
“Jai, who does Walt work for? One round Candidate, drop that sucker with a head shot.”
“Yes Sir, one shot, one kill!”
The .30 service dropped it in its tracks, the rest of the small herd disappeared in a hurry.
“Good shot Candidate, Ash can I borrow R. Nav? He and Pvt. Nug have a delivery to make.
“To all, exercise over. Ya’ll pass, gather by the Unicow.”
“Pvt. Nug, pass to R. Nav the details of a travois and pulling in trace. You will then take the carcass of the Unicow to the Lab. Drop it at the front door whether Dr. Stuart is there or not. Do you understand?”
“Sir, Yes Sir.”
“Then make it happen Pvt. Candidate Benjamin, move the troops to the Hydro site.”
I shifted channels and sent, “Mariana, if you think he’s ready, bring him up here and let him prove it.’
“On the way, and I think the sudden shock will be good; moving as we speak!” I could almost hear Marinna grinning over the link.
When we got to the Hydro site, there was Walt obviously tired but grinning for all he was worth.
“OK Boss,” he said, “here you go. Two full trainfire Ranges and here is the control unit. What you gonna do to these Kids?”
I grinned and handed the control unit to Ash, “Sgt, Davis, you and I are going to shoot the first course. The Kids got to see it work. Ash, can I borrow your Springfield.”
With a very serious look, he handed me his vintage Squad Scout, “Touch the sights and we may have to have a fight Cuz!”
It was my turn of course, “Unless you have gone blind, you are still one click of elevation above my sight picture. I think I can handle that.”
Gathering the Young Guns behind us with Ash on the Range Control, Walt and I proceeded to clean the 40 round Course of Fire.
I then took the control unit and announced, “Ash and Candidate Benjamin; you are up, take your positions.”
Ash and Jai cleaned it as fast as I could hit the buttons. The rest of the Young Guns were suitably impressed.
We started running them through the range as fast as possible. Mike Reye had just finished cleaning the range, I handed the control unit to Ash.
“Well Sgt. Reye, how does that feel?”
His eyes got big as he realized what I had just said. “Like I finally did something on my own. Dad had nothing to do with this and he did not grease the wheels on this for me. This is mine, I earned it and it tastes sweet.”
I just stared him right in the eyes, “Now I m going to tell you something strange. You have been hanging with Bill Bartlett, stay with him. Learn the woods; the wildlife and how to be a Scout; don’t worry about your Dad. He’s not really a bad person; a little confused and a prick, but not a bad person.”
He grinned back at me and said, “I know, I just wish He could get away from that Buchanan puke.”
“Go with Bart kid, we will take care of Buchanan. Come back the man you can be!”
His answer was the only one you ever got from the Young Guns, “Sir, Yes Sir.”
Just as I finished with Reye, Mariana and Kurt dragged in. “Good Morning Kurt, this is gonna be fast cause ya’ll have work coming your way. You are looking at a Qualification Range. According to the other Col. Stuart you are ready, let’s see OK?”
He just gulped and said, “I guess I might as well give it a try.”
We put him on the range with Mariana in the other lane and let the Young Guns watch them clean the course. No one was going to doubt Kurt Kellerman.
“Ok troops listen up, you see that mound of junk you have moved out of the way of where Our Power Station is going to go. That mound happens to be 70% pure Chalcopyrite. For those of you who missed a science class or two, that’s Copper. We are going to play let’s make a deal with the Mayflower, you have done good work here. Now I am going to make your day.”
I started moving amongst them, they were all wearing the field jackets that Judy had made. I slapped each left shoulder with Judy’s first patch
Ash, Mariana, and I stood in front of the group and very ceremonially lifted the panels on our left shoulders and removed the Earth patches, tossed them to the ground and stomped them. In unison, we replaced them with the Alchibah patch. We then lifted the panels over our left breast and ripped off the US Special Forces badges and replaced them with Judy’s second patch.
“OK folks, go home. Tomorrow is a day off. Do something with your family; have a life. Spend the weekend like normal people. AIT starts Monday, that’s when it gets rough. Kellerman, Benjamin; stay behind.”
As everyone started back towards town, I saw two confused faces. “Jai take these.” I handed her the collar bars of a 2nd Lieutenant and watched her face. “You might want to spend a few minutes this weekend with Candidate Pierce. She’s going to have it rougher than you did; she never had Gabe as a teacher. Summer is going to have a hard time but, she will make it.”
“Kurt, here you go, you surprised me for sure.” I handed him the twin Silver bars of a Captain; “Doc’s always start out big. Now go tell me if that Unicow is edible.”
“Ash, I need a drink!”