Day 200 First Inn, Liberty, Alchibah
I had booked one of the small meeting rooms at Hanna’s Place. It was really an office sized room for intimate meetings.
Connor was smiling as he walked in. “Damn Andy I thought you would want to talk at your place or at least come over to mine.”
“This is neutral ground Connor,” I replied. “Also this is the most sound proofed room on Alchibah, I helped John on that.
“All I am going to ask is that you hear me out until I have put on the whole spiel. Then if you wish to scream and call me an SOB, no one else has to hear it.”
Connor’s cocked an eyebrow at me. He looked skeptical and more than a little curious. “I guess I can give you that much.”
“OK,” I started. “Connor, I am going to ask you not to go with the Strike Force when we launch for a lot of reasons.
“First, there are enough Benjamin’s going already. Gabe and Jai are enough to go in harms way.
“Second, you have the twins to worry about. It’s pretty obvious that they would be lost without either Daddy or Jai.
“Third, when we launch I will ask you to move your family up to the Stuart Compound. As you may surmise, by the time we launch that will be the most heavily defended piece of ground on Alchibah.
“There will be someone else there also, if you have not heard; Mariana, JoAnn and Sally are all pregnant. By the time we launch that place is going to be close to sacred ground for me.
“Connor, I am trusting others with the life of Alchibah. I am asking you to protect the life of Clan Stuart. What say you Sir?”
Connor rose and nodded his head ever so slightly, extending his hand to grasp mine as I rose as well. “I’m honored that you would ask me, and it is my honor to accept. As long as I breathe no harm will come to any of them.”
“Done.” I said, staring into the younger man’s eyes. Connor held my gaze. I knew that he had meant exactly what he had said; this was the right man for the job. “OK, bring the twins up to the Compound this weekend. Tell everyone it’s OK to let them play with the Dobe pups.
“While you are there, we will introduce you to the House Computer and I will fill you in on a whole bunch of stuff you have never heard of. Connor, be prepared to shit your pants!”
The Following Saturday
Connor came through the Compound gate with the twins and a pack of shepherd and Aussie pups in tow grinning he said, “Might as well get them to know each other early, it’ll save some damage later!”
I had to grin, “Mariana, JoAnn; you ready to referee Puppy Wars?”
Mariana actually cracked up as she yelled, “JoAnn, Sally; get over here this should be good practice for when ours get to where they can walk and talk!”
“Come on Connor,” I grinned. “This crowd is going to be tied up for a while.” I led him into the main Stuart House and to the large den. Pressing the hidden button I let him see the stairs to the basement unfold.
“Welcome to Command Center Strike Force Rear!”
His eyes bugged just a tad, “No One that I know even knows this exists.”
“Thanks,” I said. “My partners and I enjoy the compliment. SFC Nug, take station please.”
“Yes Sir,” he cracked out and assumed Parade Rest in front of the stairs.
As we exited the stairs I turned and said, “Connor, the next thing I am going to show you must be withheld from one person who is privileged to everything else. This has to be kept from your Daughter. Do You agree?”
Connor stared and said, “If it is that important, I suppose I have to.”
“Good,” I said keying my wristcomp, “Scythe, Reaper; come to Command please.”
Connor looked at me with a quizzical stare, “OK, I think I recognize that voice. You’re a Bastard!”
SFC Nug called out, “Scythe arriving.”
I looked at the stairs and saw John Pierce descending, “Major Pierce, Commander Strike Force Rear Heavy; meet LTC Connor Benjamin, Commander Strike Force Rear.”
I heard two voices as one say, “You Son of a Bitch.”
Staring them right in the eyes I replied, “That I am Gentlemen, and have never denied it. I have only ever promised to do one thing, defend this planet. Everything, except maybe the ship, has been for that one purpose. I am going out there and put it right in the Goonies faces as hard as I can. Can you please tell me as soon as the last of the Strike Force Rear Command Team arrives, who I could better ask?”
Just at that point SFC Nug sang out, “Lilitu and Wraith arriving”
Sin Blackfeather flowed into the room followed by her younger brother and asked, “Who did you expect Connor?” Then turned to me, “Strike Force Rear Recon, Reporting as Ordered Sir.”
I had to stifle a laugh as I watched them. “So when you four get through calling me all of the names I so richly deserve, please do remember one thing.
“I started laying all of these plans the day we hit this planet, when the groundwork for all of this was laid; my only vested interest was a promise to a man I had never seen.
“Now, this place is going to belong to my kids and yours. If I was not going to back down before Kurt’s miracle, what the frack makes you think I will now?”