Late Fall, Ft. Stuart, Liberty, Alchibah
Hearing the knock at the door I yelled, “Come on In.”
Jai Benjamin opened the door with obvious trepidation and said, “You called Boss?”
“No Jai,” I replied. “ I asked. It’s time you started learning the difference. Anyhow, pour yourself a snort, we just pulled this out of the cask this morning. It’s only aged one E-Year but there should be some change.”
Jai went to the side tray by the fridge and went though the motions of mixing a drink and took a small sip.
“Damn Boss, I mean Mr. Stuart, Oh Hell Andy; this is getting real close to Honest to God Bourbon!” She exclaimed.
“Come back in about 3 more E-years and it’s just gonna get better. Hell, I can deal with rotgut as well as anyone but, I do prefer the better stuff.”
Jai grinned, “I promise not to ruin your reputation by telling.”
That actually got a real laugh. Wiping the tears out of my eyes, “Well, that means you are finally learning some discretion at any rate! More to the point the reason I asked you over here was to discuss some Command Positions; so who do you think the Commander Air Group or the CAG should be?”
Jai actually looked stunned, “Anyone with a brain or five minutes in a simulator knows the answer to that. Ash is the fracking most dangerous thing in Space, who else you gonna ask to do that job?”
“Nobody actually, Glen and I decided that month’s ago! Hell Ash is probably better than his father and the Turd was as good as they come.”
Jai had her turn to throw her head back and laugh, “The Turd, what was that all about?”
“Ashcroft Andrews III, how long does it take sick military humor to make The Third into The Turd? Probably around 4.5 nanoseconds, I can’t even remember who used it first. But he really was good, if some of our own traitors had not sold the missile systems to the damn Haj’s that got him he would be here today and our Ash would be a pure Research Scientist. Of course with the UN and family money covering tracks we could not prove it. The bullshit around that was what drove our Ash into pilot training, then of course his instructors figured out that it seemed to run in the blood.
“That being settled, who do you think should be my Deputy Commander for the Assault Force?”
Jai again seemed a little stunned, “That would have to be Gabe or Mariana. Shit, who else?”
“Well, our Chief Medical Officer also happens to be my partner. Thus she would be a particularly bad choice. Gabe as is now kinda famously known, not going to accept an Officer Commission. The Master Chief has a job and Deputy Commander ain’t it. Thus we come to the Third in line on the skills table.”
I reached into the desk drawer and came out with a set of Silver Oak Leaves. “Once again Jai, you are out of Uniform. Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin, welcome to the hot seat! This is your one chance to convince me that I am wrong and to try you best to weasel out of this. Won’t work worth a damn but, you can try!”
I finally saw Jai without a damn word to say. She actually opened her mouth two or three times like she had thought of something. Finally she spoke, “After the Varg Attack I never had a damn chance did I? But you owe me one damn thing Andy before I will take those. What the hell are you doing to John and I, why are you thrusting that damn Lisa between us?”
I could tell by her reaction that my eyes had slipped into The Reaper, “Because Major John “Scythe” Pierce needs a damn spotter and until this moment you had not proved to me you were Adult enough to handle it. “Peepers” was born to be his spotter and she does not particularly like him, she says he’s too damn much of a builder for her tastes. She is like Kat to Gabe - although there’s certainly no denying that pair’s friendship - the boy ain’t her type but damn are they a team.”
Jai sat and stared at the roof for the longest time, “Major, Scythe, Peepers; do you corrupt everything you touch?”
“Jai, I made a promise to a man I have never seen. I will defend this planet! Anything and anyone I have to use to do that I will. Shit the only stake I had in this place was that promise when we got here. Now get out of that chair and go into the nursery, then ask me what I will do!”
“I don’t have to,” She said as she reached for the pins and put them on. “All Right, Andy you got your Deputy Commander. I never had a choice did I? I just needed to grow up!”
“Bingo,” came the voice of LTC Connor Benjamin. “I had no idea how I was going to reclaim a young daughter who had been through hell on Earth. Then came this troika of Andy, Mariana and Sinopa. I figured out real fast that your father could not do it but look into a mirror and see the woman that that child has become. Now go grab John and be happy because it’s pretty clear you two were made for each other and it’s killing him too.
“Andy, I thought you were going to wait until the Strike Force got back to drop this little Bomb?”
“I was Connor but I have to ask a favor of her and I don’t think it’s fair to ask it and not tell her all!”
Jai was taken aback, “What favor could be that big?”
“Jai I am going to ask you to do something in cold blood that I can’t be sure that Gabe would do. We have enough Electronic Intercepts from the Goonie ships to know that the Political Officer in Charge is one Richard Redmond. Jai, if I go down you find that Son of a Bitch and kill him. Anyone else who surrenders falls under Warriors Code but, that Bastard dies!
“I am asking you to leave his cold dead body in Space no matter what surrender tactic he pulls. Anyone else lives, but this Bastard Dies!”
Jai’s face was a study in confusion, “Dear God, what did he do?”
“He was the asshole who sold MK24 AMRAMM’s to the damn Haj’s that killed the Turd, He was the boss of the project that infected my Sister with the bug that killed Her and His father was the Asshole who killed my Mother! That Son of a Bitch Dies!”
Her face seemed to change as she assimilated the data, suddenly I knew I was looking at Firebird not Jai Benjamin.
“Reaper, you can consider his ass toast!”