Day 221 Stuart Compound, Liberty, Alchibah
I was just finishing the walk up from Spacers Point when I guess mortality hit me on the head. I sat down on the bench outside the entrance to the Stuart Compound or “Ft. Stuart” as people were starting to call it.
I leaned back and thought to myself, “Andy, when was the last time you spent a whole day not trying to get ready to win a war?” I realized I could not remember a single day. Gods, what had I promised that faceless voice so long ago?
“Well Mr. Stuart, if I promise you a Space Commander to match your skills and determination; could you defend a Colony World?”
For all my sins and stupidity, I said yes. Glen Travis was every bit as advertised and fate had thrown me some luck, or had it? I never had asked Ash who signed the orders that put him on that Cruiser or how Gabe had wound up in the Belt at just the right time.
Hamilton may have had friends in high places. Crap, stranger things had happened, just look around. Here you are barely over two hundred days on a frontier planet and you are worrying about super capacitors and DIP logic packages.
Hell, I was turning people away from the Strike Force. We were going to go up there with only the 5 percent who really won wars. We were pretty well locked in on that front and the Rear Command was steady. The major construction programs were in place and Mariana was smiling on the Medical front.
Maybe it really was time to lean back for a while and be Human. Hell, I could run a Training Program in my sleep. Time to spend some time with my wife and get ready to start raising some kids; but, first I had to give Bart a run for his money. I drug my sorry rear end up off the bench and went into the compound.
The first thing I saw was Ash dragging out of his place still toweling his hair, drink in the other hand.
“Yo Turkey,” I yelled, “how the Lifesaving class go?”
“Elana could not drown me no matter how much she tried,” yelled Ash. “But you should have seen poor old Connor. I thought that Boy was gonna swallow half of the Ocean!”
“Let me guess,” I laughed, “he could not make his dumb butt get rough with his new Sister-In-Law no matter what?”
“No kidding,” Ash grinned taking a pull on his drink; “Gabe went out as the Panicked Swimmer and Connor jerked his ass in in a heartbeat. What I want to know is how did Mariana pull you?”
I stood and stared, “She understood where every Male is vulnerable, She grabbed and twisted, I was going wherever She wanted.”
“Wait a minute, you Guys had just got together as a Team.” Ash gasped, “How did she live through that?”
“After all the Spotters I had gone through,” I glared, “was I going to yell at the first one that had showed brains. Besides, She didn’t let go till she got her grade.”
Ash spit up the swallow he was taking. “Great, and I got to meet Her the next day.”
“Your problem Cuz,” I grinned, “not mine!
“Plus you got another one, the Race committee just talked to me and they want you to be one of the Official Observers. You are probably going to be on Bart’s boat so, you get to learn all of the old fashioned terminology he is using.”
“Does that mean I’m out of the skull session this afternoon?” Ash asked.
“Nah,” I replied, “just don’t tell Bart squat. I guarantee you he has found out something about the design by being out there first, that he is not going to tell us.”
Ash grinned, “Ya reckon?”
“Hell, I would! Let me grab a shower, come on in and help yourself to a refill. Being as you put half of that one on the ground.
“You understand that in Strike Force that could have you up on charges for Alcohol Abuse?”
Ash promptly snorted yet more out of his nose.
Later That Evening
“OK,” I asked, “everyone have their jobs straight?”
In unison they replied, “Don’t Fracking go overboard!”
I stared at the roof, “I can dress ‘em up but I still can’t take ‘em anywhere.
“I guess we do this one at a time. Gabe, you still remember how to work a helm?”
“Duh, I point the sharp end towards the compass point you call?”
“Thank You, for that succinct summation our resident genius.
“Elana, I am sorry that I have to draft you for our Top Monkey but, my first choice went and got herself knocked up!”
From the back of the room came Mariana’s voice, “Yeah and you are going to claim you had nothing to do with it?”
“Hell No, I am going to claim that Kurt lied to me. He is going to claim it was an immaculate conception.”
Kurt stood not too steadily and exclaimed, “I claim margin of error in an experimental procedure!”
I again stared at the roof again, “SFC Nug at least tell me the bots know what to do?”
The bot proved that he was adapting and learning, “Yassa Boss man, we power us outta dock and then we clamp into our Grinder Stations where we be treated like Donkey Engines. We have in all seriousness run through all the sail simulations you downloaded to us but, we do need the training runs to adapt our programming.”
“Thank You SFC Nug, at least you proved someone in this room is sober. May I ask however, who has introduced you to an attempt at humor?”
From the back of the room JoAnn’s voice rang out, “Guilty Mate!”
I made my best attempt at a stare, “Ash, would you please spank her for me?”
“I would Cuz but, I am afraid she would like it?”
The room lost all control at that point. After the raucous laughter died down I resumed.
“OK, we start practice runs tomorrow. Unlike tonight show up sober; Chavez bring that Wind Sense of yours. Somebody want to wake up Connor?”
Gabe kicked the bottom of his chair and Connor came alert in a manner that proved he could handle his booze. “Yep, I am the Command Relay between the Bow and the Aft Deck. I also advise Jai on the Fisher Sail tension as she can not see the fore surface ‘HIC’.”
“Right. All right everyone, this is not life or death. It ain’t about survival of the planet.
“It’s about something much more important that that. It’s about bragging rights at the Bar for the next Damn A-Year!”
The room exploded in laughter.