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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
New approach at mixing things up a little. “Polished Memories” folk trying to sort through their emotions and feelings, and make themselves feel better. Doesn’t always work.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 982 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Polished Memories 1.0
******************** Boot Camp *********************
Humankind has always felt the need to struggle. It’s in our blood, in our bones. Maybe it was ingrained within our DNA when we were but rodents crawling upon the ground, or maybe it was injected into us when the aliens first decided that they would give us a boost up the evolutionary ladder. Or maybe, just maybe, God soaked our souls in the waters of turmoil and strife to force us to make an account of ourselves. Whatever one’s belief, it must be admitted that we do not do well without an enemy. If we don’t have one, we’ll invent one.
After our exit from ETW all that time ago, we found a new place, a new home. There were no enemies here, only unpopulated planets and moons…….the system itself could be enemy enough. So we fought, we worked, we brought terraforming to the worlds, and we forced them to become ours. To become worlds we could live on, survive on. Now that the verse was conquered and there could be a time of peace, it was not enough. We still needed that competition, that enemy. One that we could defeat. One that we could struggle against. Looking around, who would it be?
With humankind being masters of the sky, who could we fight? We found someone….ourselves.
Shepherd’s Chronicles : 2519
----------------------------------------------- BOOT CAMP ------------------------------------------------------
The officer stood in one of the supply huts looking out at the crowd gathering on the assembly grounds. They’d come from all over the verse, Salisbury, Aberdeen, St. Albans, Shadow, even worlds and moons that didn’t have names yet. Still here they were, ready to fight, or to learn how. The Lieutenant paused for a moment and thought, such cattle being led to the slaughter. It was his job to train them, get them ready, the moment was at hand. Time to put on his war face and look mean and nasty before beginning his speech.
The crowd outside was waiting to become soldiers. He would do what he could, and hoped the majority of them survived! It was never easy. He would have to be tough on these folk, and unrelenting. It was the only way to teach some of them how to live through a war that was only weeks old. They were just babies as far as he was concerned. Not fit to polish boots on a three legged hyena. But his job was to turn them into fighters. Hard and gritty. War wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t heroic. No matter how many campfire stories they’d heard from old cowboys that used to be marines,…..or navy Hawks. Old soldiers that spoke tales of glory. There was never any glory. There was blood and guts, and friends without arms. Where was the glory in that? Where were the metals of those old soldiers? Likely melted down, or sold so they could buy a coffee pot, or maybe a clock above the mantel.
No, war wasn’t pretty, and neither was boot camp going to be. These folk were soon to find that out!
Lieutenant Gardner stood on an elevated platform reviewing the Independents army’s latest group of raw recruits. He strutted up and down the wide platform letting them stand at attention in the early afternoon sun so they could bake in the heat from the sky above, as well as from the hot ground below. They stood in parade, all lined up and spaced out evenly, with enough room between so that reaching their arms out, they would be fingertip to fingertip.
“Ok recruits! Who can give me a head count on how many personnel are standing in the square here?”
There was silence.
“Sir!” A lanky boy with reddish-brown hair alerted the Lieutenant.
“ I think that I might know sir!”
“Ok, let’s hear it!”
“ I figure there’s five hundred and fifty sir!”
“Five hundred and fifty….....hhhmmmmmmmm,” Lieutenant Gardner rubbed his chin between forefinger and thumb, “ that’s a big number, and a fair guess, isn‘t it recruit? It is a guess, an estimation, or did you do a head count?”
“That was a guess sir!”
“Good guess. Come up here to the stage.”
The young recruit walked through the ranks of other recruits and made his way to the platform. The officer motioned him to come and stand on the platform with him. Once on top the deck, the lieutenant instructed him to stand to the side.
“Anyone else care to take a stab at it?” There were no more volunteers.
“ Come on now! The browncoat army is in desperate need of sergeants and leaders. Soldiers that can be decisive, can make a judgment, give an order and stick to it! Anyone else?” There were no replies. The Lieutenant already had this group of greenhorns shivering in their boots.
Good, he thought, then turned to look at the man standing six feet away.
“Your name recruit?”
“Covington sir, Mathew J.”
“Well Mr. Covington, Mathew J. Look all the way across this field of young, new inductees. What do you see?”
Covington scanned the crowd.
“A lot of people sir.”
“Yeah, a lot of people. Know what I see?”
The lieutenant stretched his arms out wide and uttered….
“I see a field of potential sergeants!” he looked back over at the lanky young fellow standing on the podium with him.
“You young recruit, with your estimate of five hundred and fifty was way off the mark! There are seven hundred and thirty-two folk out there, so you‘d better learn to do a lot better estimations than that. Your life, and theirs, may depend on it.” He turned again to the crowd.
“If you’re gonna make guesses, you‘d better get good at it. Most of you will remain privates, but some will achieve the rank of corporal or sergeant. There will be lives at stake! lives under your command! Soldiers that will be looking to you for answers, for leadership! If all you can do is guess, then you’d better turn the decision making process over to someone who can do better!” Gardner spoke loudly. He stopped briefly then started again……
“If you’re being attacked by a unit of thirty purplebellies, then you’d better not make the mistake of communicating to “Fire-Control” that it’s one hundred. We can’t waist mortar shells. The Alliance may have an unlimited supply, but we don’t.
“YOU, my young recruit, are the first to be rewarded with the honorable task of latrine duty. Don’t worry, before the day is done you’ll be Sergeant over an entire squad.” He looked over to the crowd again.
“ Ok……you company of half-wit prairie dingos, supply huts 1 through 3 are that way! Last recruit in each line will be shuffled into “Latrine Covington’s” platoon. NOW MOVE…..!
Malcolm Reynolds found himself seventeenth in line at hut #3. He was pretty fast, but sixteen folk had been faster. He was ready to prove himself and show what he could do with a rifle and a pistol. He began to think about what had led him to sign up. A cattle wrestling ranch hand back on his home planet of Shadow had talked him into joining……it hadn’t taken much convincing. Mal was ready to volunteer. There was a call to arms and he meant to make an account of himself by standing in line and doing his duty.
His mom had stalled his joining up at first, said she needed him on the ranch more’n the army needed his lazy hide. She had called him lazy knowing full well that her son was anything but. She hoped this would deter his desire to sign those papers that would take him away from her. It had worked, but only for a while.
Malcolm Reynolds could hardly sit still listening to the war stories of folk. In the evenings, out on the trail, after the cattle had been put to rest the ‘ol rugged cow-pokes that the young Reynolds considered family would sit around the fire and speak of things in the past. Sometime one of them would heighten his senses by telling him ghost stories, or of folk that had gone wild at the edge of space. Others gathered his attention with tales of battles and war, and sometimes, when the storytelling was over……..he would wrestle one of them for the last strip of bacon left in the frying pan that night. That was usually Andy.
Andy Friend was almost like an older brother to the Shadow native. He had been working at the Reynolds ranch for a while. Not much was known about him, only that he was from Haven and he had joined the military to fight the wild folk living out in space. He told Mal that he believed they were a botched government experiment which they were trying to cover up, but Mal didn’t believe all that laji (trash /garbage). Still it made for an entertaining tale.
After a two year tour in uniform, Andy Friend had gotten out of the military and went back to civilian life. A life that wasn’t so easy on the rim worlds. He had gotten hired on by Mrs. Reynolds, Malcolm’s mom, and had been working for them for some time.
Mal was totally intrigued with Andy. So were his friends Dugan & Lyle. During the tagging season they would watch him as he took a cow by the horns and wrestle her to the ground. That took strength and guts. After a while the growing young Reynolds could do it too. Malcolm could get an animal down and ready for tagging in three seconds flat.
Tagging the ear was the preferred method of herd identification by Reynolds Ranch. Not that it made a difference to the cowhands. Tagging or branding was all the same to them, but pinning the ear was less painful and more humane for the beasts. Yet the ritual of roping and wrestling cattle to the ground still remained alive and well, demonstrating a cowboy’s prowess. Growing into a fine young adult, Malcolm Reynolds grew to have physical power and agility that gained him the respect of the older cowhands who were employed at the ranch.
Not only that, but the last spot of bacon in the pan now usually ended up on his plate. He could wrestle with Andy and have him pinned eight out of nine times. That was when the old cowboy told him that he’d be an excellent candidate for the army, and…..that was also when Mal had made his choice to volunteer.
Now the young Reynolds stood in line wondering if he’d made the right decision?
“Next!” The supply Sergeant behind the counter called to him.
Malcolm Reynolds moved forward in line to receive his gear and begin his initiation into the army.
“Arms out and forword!” The supply Sergeant ordered.
There was fresh gear piled onto the young recruits arms. A heavy, brown duster, a belt, holster, shirt, pants, then a pair of dirty boots were added on top. He looked at the supply Sergeant.
“The previous owner doesn’t need them anymore,” the man said. Mal swallowed hard. Then the Sergeant added a dark brown tie to the mix.
“ For commandant inspection,” the man said.
“ What about weapons?” Mal inquired. The duty Sergeant looked at him.
“ So, the young recruit is eager to get his hands on a gun so he can shoot his own foot off, or mine. Your name?”
Mal’s eyes widened.
The Sergeant wrote it down. He looked up at the new recruit.
“You are not to speak unless spoken to, and then you’ll answer only the question asked. Is that understood?”
The young Malcolm showed that he did.
“You’ll get your weapons from the hard materials officer after you’ve tested and qualified on the weapons range. Nine days from now, now go!”
Malcolm Reynolds exited Supply Hut 3 hoping that he hadn’t drawn too much attention to himself. Causing ones self to stick out in the early stages of boot camp didn’t seem to be the right thing to do. He walked past the others who were waiting for their supplies at hut #3. At the end of the line, two DI‘s were hazing a new recruit. Lieutenant Gardner was standing behind them.
“ You are a disgrace, do you know that recruit? You need to pack your lashi and save us the trouble of shipping your carcass home in a body box!
“ No sir! I’m here to fight!” The fellow said.
“You’ll need boots on your feet to fight son.” The lieutenant spoke aloud, “why are you in bare feet now?”
“SIR, I was hoping the army would supply me with footwear, SIR!”
“The army intends to furnish you with everything you’ll need to fight with, but boots won’t do you much good if your feet are already blistered and swollen.”
That was all Mal heard before he was out of earshot.
In forty minutes, when the entire group had gotten their supplies and were again assemble on the parade ground, the Lieutenant returned to the podium, this time with a ranking officer.
“So recruits! Anyone ready to go home?”
There were no accounts to do so.
“Good! This is Ranking Officer Orbrin. He’s here to greet you and prepare you for what may lie ahead. Colonel Orbrin is our commanding officer, and will be in the field with us when we depart to face the Alliance. You will give him your attention and respect….. sir…” Lieutenant Gardner passed the platform over to the commander.
“Hello new recruits! As you’ve heard, my name is Colonel Orbrin. It is my duty to see that Lieutenant Gardner here, and the drill sergeants at post 17 do their best to make you the fighting people the Independent army needs you to become. I will not lie, it is a grim war we’re facing. But someone has to muscle up and show these folk that the riches of the border and rim worlds belong to the people. We are pretty much left to our own devices out here until the fortunes of our worlds are found,” he paused,
“That could be down a narrow mine shaft, in a pristine stream, on a steep mountainside or in our fields. That, my recruits, is when the Powers of control become interested. The big dogs (*BLUE SUN* and it’s subsidiaries) soon come in and claim the lion’s share of the wealth afterwards. Well, we figure enough is enough. Time to take back what is ours and learn to govern ourselves. We can do it, you can do it, and we’re glad to have you aboard,” he paused and looked around, “ now for the sad news. We have but thirty-nine days to prepare you for battle. The war may be long and costly and at it’s end some of you may not return. But you are not just fighting for yourselves, you’re also fighting for your families. Those who have raised you, and the one’s you will be responsible for yourselves. Do them proud, and pass that honor on.” The Colonel gave himself a pause, then started again.
“Ok, there is an unpleasant duty that has been bestowed upon me which really brings distaste to my mouth. Yet there are duties which have fallen upon this group to correct before moving on to actual combat. One of those is latrine duty. It has been brought to my attention that the recruit group before ours made a mess and a mockery of our facilities. I mean for our company not to leave the camp in the same condition we found it. Therefore, a list of “Volunteers” has been written down and I will announce the names of each lucky individual who has been awarded the detail.” With that, Lieutenant Gardner slipped the commander a list. Colonel Orbrin called out the name of each recruit.
“Ok, volunteer number one, last in line at supply hut #2, recruit Bass, Dewayne D . Come up here with temporary Sergeant Covington, recruit Bass. You‘ve been awarded the high honor of making this camp livable for the next few days.” The young recruit did as instructed. A short fellow, but stocky and strong looking, with a sour look upon his face. All of the latrine volunteers would have that look.
“Ok, volunteer two, Radcliff, J. M., last in line at hut #1,up here also.” The recruit made their way up to the podium and took their spot besides Covington and Bass. “ May need to work on your speed soldier,” the commander spoke lightly to the recruit.
“Now on to volunteer three, Bendis, Brian M. Talking in line when given strict instruction not to. Up here if you please recruit,” the commander pointed to a vacant spot beside the latrine detail. The recruit walked up and joined alongside the others.
“Ok, the fourth lucky soul to enlist as volunteer, Reynolds, Malcolm……… speaking in supply hut number 3 without permission. Please join us up here recruit,” the commander pointed to a place on the platform.
Mal couldn’t believe his ears, yet it was all too real. He had been picked for latrine duty as well as five others so far. Likely the lowest, nastiest job to be done at Fort Pleasant! *Programming*, the thought raced through his brain as he walked up towards the podium. They were being educated into the ways of command. Don’t talk unless requested, don’t attack unless prepared, don’t assume you will always know what’s coming next, and don’t question a command from a superior. It was textbook doctrine and something he should have expected. He joined the individuals standing on the platform.
“Ok, final candidate for latrine duty, Tracy, W. S! Last in line at hut #3, and presenting himself to the browncoat army in bare feet.”
There was no recruit answer to the call. Commander Orbrin, along with Lieutenant Gardner, as well as every person on stage looked over the vast crowd of recruits, and there was no one taking claim to being that person.
“Is there no Tracy Smith in attendance?” the commander looked confused and bewildered, as did every soul on the podium. The entire group of recruits began to look around wondering if someone had given a false name, or if something else was going on.
“ Smith, SIR, Tracy W. here!”
The commander scanned the parade ground until he found the individual who’d finally responded.
“ Why didn’t you answer recruit?”
“ Well you said Tracy, W. S. sir! Thought that I might not be the only recruit with such a name! Besides, you’ve been calling last names first sir!”
He was right, the Colonel conferred with the Lieutenant. The name had been miswritten, but that made no difference to the browncoat officer.
“Forward and front recruit!” The commander ordered.
Tracy did as he was ordered. He did not gain the podium yet, but stood in front of the commander with bare feet still planted on the ground.
“ Ok, recruit. Just for your information, you are to join this group of lucky individuals on the platform here. Only you will be the lowliest of the low, understand? Any one of these recruits can give you an order and you’d better do it, post haste, is that understood?”
“ Yes commander!” Tracy spoke. This whole time the young, new recruit was being mesmerized by the sight of commander Orbrin’s mustache. A long, handlebar looking thing that extended fully three inches to each side. It curled into a lovely waxed, monkey’s tail at each end.
Tracy,…..always the class clown at his school on St. Albans, thought of how much fun it would be wear that mustache, right on his own face!
End Part 1.0
Saturday, November 12, 2011 12:37 PM
Saturday, November 12, 2011 2:20 PM
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 8:11 AM
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