Ft. Stuart, Late Evening Day 887
I had rounded up the whole crew that Andy had asked for and everyone had just finished attacking the Bar when Andy walked in. I was stunned for a moment then yelled at the top of my lungs “Detachment, Attention!”
I snapped off the first well meant salute since the day I had left this man’s Command at old Coronado to the sight of that Star replacing the Eagle on the collar of Andy’s jacket. I could not help but gloat, “Mine was the first General; you owe me. I might even forgo my Silver Dollar for the story of how the Council hung that Fracking Star on you, for I know that you took that about as willingly as I would a Commission.”
Andy returned the salutes of the room with Professional Cold Precision, “Carry On, Master Chief; One of these days!
“Anyway when the Council broke it to me they had a member of the Council and an invited Observer with their sidearms already out with the safety’s off.”
I had to laugh, “And who were those brave souls? Two on one has never stopped you before that I know of.”
Andy’s head dipped like someone who had a straight flush turned on him. “Gabe, it was Mariana and Jai!”
I could not help it, for the first time since this had started; I totally cracked up. The only two people in the Universe old enough to hold a weapon that Andy would absolutely positively not take out, drawing down on him…. priceless!
“All Right you group of reprobates settle down and we will brief the situation.”
Then from the back corner came the voice of Connor Benjamin, “But first a toast for Histy. The only man on this planet who has ever been able to snake trap the Boss!”
I heard the room explode in laughter and high fives and just slumped in my chair. Mariana came by from her trip to the Bar, “Let them celebrate love, this is what you have built. They will follow you into Hell itself computing the loot they are going to bring back. They just might deserve a laugh on the Boss every so often!”
I waited till the commotion started to die down then stood with the tears of laughter still visible on my face. “If you turkeys are ready to quit laughing at the Boss, we do have some business here. Gabe, Connor; rest assured I owe you one.
“OK, here is our status. Ash, Walt, Tim and Subbu are working their tails off on the cockpit upgrades to the MK V. The MK V-A is going to be a single Pilot bird. Every Wizzo who is qualified to be a Pilot is now on the duty rotation for the Cockpit.
“Jai, your bird will be ready by dawn. Move it up to the Dam Complex so we have our assets split. You and River are 10 and 10 on that bird.
“Ash’s and my birds will stay here. We will have two bird’s on ready 5 at all times. I am going to spend tomorrow putting up the two Radar Towers we had ready but just did not get the time to put up. We are going to surveil and defend this globe.” I threw it on the projection screen.
“This is the area that Commodore Hunter St. James would have to enter to launch a Nuke Strike against Liberty. It is my intention to send this projection to Him tonight and inform him that we will likewise not attack outside that perimeter. Remember, every hour we buy is one more that the Mayflower crew has to complete their upgrades and finish the Hamilton. I do not want to go up against that damn Rogon mothership without the Hamilton. Any questions?” The room was amazingly quiet.
“Then finish your drinks and get some sleep. Major Pierce a moment please?”
John Pierce came over, “John as of tomorrow morning you go back to being a General Contractor. Of course Hanna’s is the first major project in the pipe. But, I have one personal request. The Council approved Strike Force’s claim for the 440 acres around where we buried Steve Fallon and Robbie McMaster. I would like this Arch in wood placed over the center of the Southern edge please.”
I showed him the rough drawing of a simple, non-pretentious arch with the simple engraving.