Day 13. . .00:13:15:00
“Bang!” Reyes gavel came down again. From the back of the room someone said, “We never should have given him that thing.”
“Quite in the house! I call this meeting to order for the purpose of determining what, if anything additional, has been discovered concerning Jack Seaworth’s death, and devising a plan so that something similar will not happen again in the future. I turn the meeting over to Andy Stuart. Sir…”
“Thank You, Mr. Reye.
“I have two items for the Council. The first is a personal Point of Order and the second is the formal report on the predator. May I proceed?”
Reye just nodded looking confused.
“Thank you Sir, I would like to request that the Council formalize the appointment of a Commander for the Guard Force and Civil Police. I am flat out stretched too thin for both jobs. The death of Seaworth proved that I have exceeded what the Military calls Span of Control.
“Alchibah needs two Military Forces. One is the Guard, which, for those of you who remember the old United States, is a combination of the State Police and the National Guard.
“The second is the Militia, which will be a small highly trained assault force whose primary job is to support Space Command Alchibah.”
“I am the wrong person to command the Guard. Of course, I will assist in the training of the Guard and remain in the Guard rotation as long as required.
“I see the Guard as being under the control of the Liberty Council. The Militia is under the control of the Federal Council. In both cases, the Commander answers to civilian control. It is my intention and basic skill, to Command the Militia. It’s what I have spent most of my adult life preparing for.
“I ask that this motion be tabled for a closed discussion of the Council and that Capt. Sinopia and I be allowed to present the scientific report on the direct threat.
“I await the Councils decision.”
Reye, recovering from his surprise, and looking at the other Council members, said, “The Council will be most interested in your proposals concerning a militia, however the Council has been expressly forbidden from having closed sessions. After our first order of business is completed, a motion for a closed session may be entertained by the meeting at large.”
“I am well aware, Mr. Stuart, that under some rules of meeting procedure, your motion would take precedence, however, in deference to the time already invested by the entire chamber, I feel that even if a closed session should be approved, we complete our original agenda first.”
“Do I hear Objections?” he waited. “Hearing none, I turn the floor over to Councilor Benjamin for a report on the rumbler.”
“Thank you Mr. Reye. I’ve received both Capt. Sinopa and Col. Stuart’s reports on the ‘rumbler,’ as the thing has been nicknamed, and have also reviewed Jaisa’s initial report. Here’s what we know so far. It’s four legged, approximately twelve feet at the shoulder and twenty feet long, and weighs approximately 4200lbs. This figure has been substantiated by both Sinopa’s expertise and a soil compaction test run by Mariana Stuart. It has claws, two horns and a jaw capable of producing upwards of at least 5000lbs. of force, making it two to three times as powerful as an american alligator. Its hide is described as a streaky mix of dark red and black, which, combined with the time of the attack leads me to believe that it is nocturnal. Because of this, the Council asks that all colonists stay within the perimeter of the camp after dark until we have dealt with the animal.
“We know it was hit last night with fifteen standard issue penetrators – not the ideal bullets for large predator control, but they were well placed and would have taken down any Earth animal. We’re not totally sure yet, but we suspect that it has some sort of an exoskeleton and, in addition, that it is capable of regeneration.” There were gasps and frightened whispers from the audience. “I know. I wish I had better news, but I wanted to put all the facts out there in plain sight so that everyone knows what we’re dealing with. I can say, however, that the person most qualified to deal with this sort of a threat, the person most qualified on this world or the one we came from, is right here with us, and right now she’s the only one who’s seen the thing up close. I’ll let her carry on from here. Captain?”
“Oh, please, does anyone here really believe she ‘saw it up close?’” Jack interrupted. “She probably saw it and ran like-”
“You would have?” Summer Pierce quipped, to much laughter.
“This from the man who proclaimed me dead.” Sinopa commented dryly. “Any more predictions Jack? In any case, as many of you know I spent the last several days exploring the surrounding area, trying to gain as much knowledge as I could on the local predators and herbivores – basically anything we either need to worry about or might be able to eat or domesticate. I’ll skip the other details for now, but I did track a pack of a catamount sized, nocturnal predator species in addition to the rumbler, so I would also like to suggest people not wander at night.
“I believe, and Connor concurs, that the rumbler is likely a solitary creature with an extremely large range, which means that it is entirely possible that we will not see it again for weeks or months. I have seen it run upwards of thirty miles per hour, though I suspect its top speed is far higher. It’s quieter than you would expect for something of its size, though it certainly doesn’t rely on stealth. Right now we frankly don’t know what it would take to kill it. I assure you, however, that I will. I would like to ask the Council’s permission to track it and observe it for a while.”
“I think we can get that out of the way now. Objections?” Connor said.
That vote was quickly called and passed by a majority voice vote… though not without some grumbling.
“That being dealt with we come to the second point of our original agenda. What do we do now to insure an event such as happened last night does not occur again? We are open for comments from the floor. Reye said as he began to raise the gavel, thought better of it, and lowered it quietly.
“Everyone was looking at Jack but Frank Turner spoke first. “It’s obvious the Guard needs organization and a leader The ‘Chief’s’ spot we are talking about will need to be considered a full time position by whoever takes it on, and require organizational experience. With that in mind I nominate Karl Nash.”
The motion was seconded even before Nash could raise from his chair to object. “Thank you Frank, I guess, but I have no police or military experience. Sure, I was in charge of a few organizations back on Earth, but my plan for Alchibah is to get the Port up and running and begin boat building.”
As he paused Joe Fortson stepped into the vacuum, “Karl, organization is the first order of business for any unit. It don’t even look like the roads gonna make it all the way through the port area for quite a spell. If the folks here go along with it, we can limit the initial term to six months. And you’ll have more than enough help on the procedural and training end.”
With obvious reluctance Karl Nash agreed to be considered. No one else was even nominated as the job looked to involve a lot more work than glory. The position was his by acclimation. His first action was to insist Fortson oversee the operational areas of the camp guard for the next week, or until it was operating in an acceptable fashion. Joe tried to resist but couldn’t wiggle out.
“We can now address the Militia issue. Councilor Stuart,” Reye said turning to Mariana, while glancing at a note she had handed him, “I see you wish to make a statement.”
“Mr. Chairman, We have found general agreement that the Township Guard, which will also be our police force, and our Militia, or standing army, be separate commands. The Guard reporting to us here, the Council, and the Militia reporting to the combined Mayflower, Liberty Township boards. It would be appropriate at this time to take nominations for the leadership of the Militia. ”
“I propose we establish a separate panel composed of two from the Council and three from the populace which may meet in secret session to examine those nominations and return with their recommendations. Determination of fitness for command is often brutal and best performed by a select group and in private. That said I nominate my husband Andrew Stuart for command of the Militia.”
“The fix is in I see, Mr. and Mrs. Generalissimo Stuart.” Jack the Blade immediately said from his front row seat.
Mariana turned and in a low cold voice stated, “If the fix is to keep your worthless, lazy, no good REMF ass as far away from the real combat force as possible; then you could say the fix is in!”
Once more down came the hammer, “There will be order! There will be order! And there will no further outbursts and that includes you also Councilor Stuart.”
Mariana glowered but said nothing even as her eyes kept shooting daggers at Jack. One of Jack’s henchmen put in Jack’s name and Buchanan nominated another but the results were a foregone conclusion. The historian proposed a straight up down vote on each of the nominees. If more than one received general approval there would be a run off. It was quick and dirty but when finished there was no need for a private session to examine credentials and make recommendations.
Andy Stuart was the Militia commander. He reminded all that the exact responsibilities of both the Guard and the Militia and how they would be directed by government needed to be codified in out constitution. And from his point of view he said it couldn’t happen too soon.
And on that note the meeting was adjourned.