Been some time since I felt the need to write things down. Carol's done in my life. Whatever my feelings were for her, it abundantly clear it's not reciprocal. I have proof she been screwing around with Cunt, I mean Kent, for God knows how long. Now I've been impulsive enough, most would say stupid, to get involved with my Commanding Officer. Of course it's more complicated than that. She had to been in her 20's, mid at least. She's at once vulnerable and tough. There are times I want to hold her until it all passes by, and others where I want nothing more than to drop kick across the tarmac like a tempestuous recruit.
I find the thing that pisses me off the most if her neediness sometimes. I get the whole lack of boobs thing, personally I wanted to tell her to keep them, but it's her choice, and I've learned over the years, the ass is much more in reach, hers is awesome, and her flaring hips stir things in my loins I thought I was past. Is this bump in the road, just that, a bump, or indicative of deeper issues. I just don't know anymore. Next thing is getting a response from the lawyers back in Syracuse, NY, Earth.
Against and maybe in spite of my advice, Yuka brought Miss Larson aboard. Adding insult to injury, the assassin is now my XO. Joy! I expected to be more adversarial towards her, but after reviewing her military jacket as well as anything else I could find, sparse on that front, I am more inclined to give the woman a second chance. Won't turn my back on her for a while though. The thought of her on what should be a vacation for Yuka and I is unfathomable. I get why they did it, I just don't agree with the reasoning. Plus having what amounts to an armed chaperone is sort of a buzzkill.
He used the VX system as he didn't want Yuka or Emily to hear him saying things aloud. "What the fuck just happened?! I get off duty, to come home to my wife, fiancee, whatever the hell we are. Right into a damned minefield!"
He walked around, and cleaned out his pipe. He was calmer, but far from calm. "Yuka comes right out and says, here's my old lover. Do you mind if she comes into our lives and beds? Did I over-react? I really don't think so. Yuka has this all tied into a nice neat box. If I don't let her be with Emily physically, I am somehow the bad guy as I HATE open relationships. There is a reason it's called a third wheel. Someone is always neglected in my experience. If I do let her, I have to share. Do I love her enough?" He thought about it, "yes, though I wonder how she'd react if she had to share me with another woman."
"Then she up and has a nervous breakdown. While not a conscious effort, it still sucks. Now if I leave I'm the cad in the relationship as she's that unstable. We sorted it out before we began the relationship. We sorted it out at the cabin, or so I thought. It's clear to me she can't love just me. Maybe what it boils down to is something else. Does she love me enough to respect my wishes? So far that answer is no if I want to be honest with myself."
But I don't get to have bad feelings in this relationship without her throwing a tizzy. It's all predicated on what she wants to do and her needs, regardless of how I feel. She's made that abundantly clear. Examining all sides though, I wonder about things she said. Have I forced her to love me? Forced the issue of marriage and kids down her throat? How many times did I tell her that it wasn't something we had to decide right now. I have Ayasha. Glad she's not here though, I'd probably have to restrain her from smacking Yuka. "
Aidan moved to an overstuffed loveseat he had replicated. The old style leather noisly succumbed to his weight, and Myron jumped up the instant Aidan was in place and lay next to him. The Marine stroked the semi-soft fur absentmindedly. "I've seen her mental scars, at least the ones she is willing to share with me. I think she forgets we all have scars. I've led countless men and women into battle, many did not return. People I commanded and many I cared about, that I watched or held while they died."
He hated himself instantly for thinking of it, but it might need to be addressed. "Was Yuka really fit for the command of a starship?" His needs aside, there were hundreds of others that were under their collective command, not to mention the billions of people that were counting on the two of them to pull out miracle after miracle. The ship had to come first. No matter how much he loved her, that was their first duty.
[Log] Aidan Thornton ( BACKPOST! ) Syracuse New York/Marine Command HQ Maryland October 8, 4564 Dirty, tired, and generally abused, Aidan padded into the back of the house. It'd been a longer than normal deployment and one tagged as a "hardship tour". Carol hadn't been happy at first, but with their purchase of the house before he left, it had sweetened to the deal considerably in his favor. When she didn't feel like deploying, she could concentrate on her career, him on his, and allowed them to get together when he returned for a list of more normal activities. He unceremoniously dropped his duffel and kit near the back door. Some of it still had foreign mud and blood on it. He'd lost four Marines this trip. Two to a cloaked IED, one to sniper fire, and another to straight up combat. Wilson, Morales, M'yers, Con'n. Good troops all. He probably would see them soon in his dreams as he absentmindedly fingering the neural monitor on his wrist that allowed him less nightmares and combat dreams as they all called them now. It wasn't all unicorn farts and fairy sweat with the monitor, but at least it allowed more rest.
Peeling off the uniform top, Aidan dropped it and his trousers into the laundry bot along with instructions for the duffel on the back porch. One of the nice things about the bot, is that it went through your pockets so things that aren't supposed to be washed, stay pristine and dry. Securing his service weapon in a nearby secret safe, he started across the house. Padding upstairs, he turned the corner into the master suite and was wondering what the noise was. It took his brain more seconds that he wanted it to for the connections to form that Carol was naked on top of another man. Her overly ample boobs swayed as she bounced on the other man. Instantly it turned to rage. He started not seeing anything but very violent images of the intruder's death. He must have made a sound as Carol looked up from her kneeling position on top of the man and inhaled sharply in surprise. Carol managed to choke out, "Aidan. I...I..didn't think you were coming home this soon." A bad choice of words.
"THAT much is obvious." He spat back at her. He turned and stormed out. Reaching the kitchen, he opened a taller cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Germany brandy. A favorite, but not something he was trying to savor at the moment. He poured two fingers into a Collins glass and didn't bother with warming it or adding a cola, which was something he did to relax. The smooth liquor burned slightly as it slid down his throat, and he waited for the alcohol to kick in. He poured two more and downed it almost as quickly. It took him two pulls that time. He turned to grab BDU's but the bot had already done the efficient job it was supposed to and they were washing.
Aidan headed back to the bedroom, the only place fresh clothing existed. By then Carol had a robe on and the man was at least partially clothed. Without saying a word, he opened the closet and selected some pressed jeans and an over-sized pullover shirt. As he opened a nearby drawer for undergarments. His wife spoke up and said, "I didn't mean for it to happen this way." Her voice pleading and breaking as she said it.
He spat back, "Was he supposed to mount you instead? You seemed pretty happy riding his cock moments ago." The stranger, who stood a few inches taller than Aidan and even more muscular, moved between Aidan and Carol. "Dude, you shouldn't talk to her like that." The lover made the mistake of jabbing a finger into Aidan's shoulder.
Quickly grabbing the man's hand, Aidan applied well practiced pressure point and twisted, sending the man to his knees in pain, the bones of the hand threatening to snap under the force of Aidan's grip. "Listen up 'dude', I don't think you're the one that should be passing out lessons on manners right now." The man was trying to use his other arm to free the first, with Carol in the background pleading for Aidan to not hurt him. Aidan added, "when I let you loose, you're going to be a good boy and let me get dressed. You two can do whatever the hell you want. Is that clear dude?" When man nodded, Aidan relented.
Aidan was slipping on socks and quickly was dressed, the man rubbing the sore hand. "This isn't over jarhead." Aidan chuckled to himself. He knew that the sentiment around the base sometimes fostered idiots that had no concept of what he and his Marines actually did to keep everyone safe. "Nice choice Carol. He gets to slam you and the Corp all at the same time. He looked over to see the tears falling on her face, but he was beyond caring at the moment. All he wanted was out. Now. He needed time to process to think. The man then said to Aidan, "this isn't over." Aidan turned and took a step towards the larger man and the other man backed up. Aidan chuckled once. "Bring friends. A lot of them."
He finished dressing and was going to pull one of his personal weapons, then decided against. What he wanted was to get drunk. Stinking drunk. Carol tried to speak with him, "Aidan, we need to sort this out." He was having none of this. "If you actually gave a shit, you'd know that I lost team members and I was on my way home. Check your damned email once in a while. I sent one to you about 40 minutes ago. Guess you had other people on your mind. Don't try and follow me. Either of you. It won't end pretty." He walked out, grabbing a jacket along the way, as fall had come with a vengenance and the temperatures were dropping rapidly. Deciding to walk, the cool air hit his face, he could call an air-cab, but wanted the time to process.
Two hours later, he was in one of the local bars. It was an actual bar, as they were more interested in the drinks than the food. Aidan hadn't eaten, and was steadly making his was through the nearly 156 taps of different beverages along the walk. Carol had tried to text and call him, even sending and email. He put his VX into stealth-mode. It was something he wasn't supposed to do as no one could contact him, including his Commanding Officer. Right now, he was hurting more and caring less.
'Dude had made good on his promise. Walking in with two friends close to his own size, it was apparent they were gym rats. The trio dressed like a bad commercial for the latest in workout material. "Hey Jarhead, you want to get that lesson in manners now? Someone needs to teach you dumb Marines to behave around normal people." Dude said.
"Big talk from someone that has to steal someone's wife because they can't get their own woman." Aidan replied.
"Are you kidding, she practically begged me for it." Dude shot back, his friends chuckling along at the same time. Without missing a beat, Aidan retorted, "Kind of like your mom did few minutes ago? I can still smell the desperation and cheap perfume. " Aidan was drunk, which meant he was on edge, but sloppy. The whiskey he had usually made him more ornery. This was no exception. Aidan put up one hand, palm up and made a motion to get closer. "Come on sunshine. You think you can dance at the Marine ball, let's see you still have any. Balls that is."
Dude turned red. "I'm gonna tear yours off and feed them to you." As the man started to charge, Aidan's VX went into combat mode. It pushed chemicals into his bloodstream and tried to counteract the alcohol imbalance along with stimulants and response boosters. Aidan mostly sidestepped the charge, taking the shot to his shoulder instead of his chin. As he was now to the dude's right, Aidan used his right leg to take out the kneecap of the aggressor, forcing him to down to the ground. One of the jocks grabbed him in a behind bear hug as the third came over to attack his front. He wriggled to force the guy holding him to hold him tighter then used the leverage to plant both feet in the frontal attacker's midsection. The man doubled over as the blow landed in the solar plexus, leaving him gasping for breath. With the imbalance from both of their combined weights, the rear attacker leaned forward. Aidan thrust his legs up and arms at the same time, breaking the lock. He quickly twisted, grabbing the man's left arms and the sound made a sickening snap as the bone broke.
By then the dude was nearly up, but limping. The second guy was quick and tried to mirror what the first had done Aidan's awareness was now at it's peak and he used his head like a battering ram, slamming it backwards into the attacker's nose. It also make a crunch and blood gushed. The dude rushed Aidan again and they felt together. Aidan's powerful legs snaked around the dude's midsection as Aidan used an open hand that was forced against the dude's windpipe, collapsing it. With his Adrenaline up, and the man choking, all Aidan could see was rage. His dead friends and team-members, the pent up fury from years of twisted black operations, adding to the prospect of his failed marriage. While the dude wasn't the reason, he was involved and Aidan took his fury out on the man's face.
By then, the Syracuse police had arrived. Aidan was so worked up, he hadn't heard the command to stop, so a taser lanced into his body, making him convulse in pain and fall off the dude. When he came to a minutes later, he was in plastic restraints, and lying on his side. The nanobots had done an admirable job of taking care of him. He was still slightly drunk, but the paramedics were working on the trio that attacked him.
Seeing his was stirring, one of the police officer's came over. A very attractive female. "Are you going to give us any more trouble Major Thornton? " She asked. Hearing his name and seeing the carnage, sobered him up the rest of the way. He turned his VX back on and a few messages flooded in, including one from Admiral Louden, not one of his favorites. "No, I'm lucid. I won't cause any more trouble." She offered, "Good, I don't want to tase you again. My battery is low and you can take a helluva charge.
Ever the comic, Aidan offered, 'too bad you weren't here an hour ago. We might have avoided this and could be having dinner." The female LEO (law enforcment officer) laughed. "I don't normally date drunk Marines. My husband would probably have an issue with it."
"So would my wife, but that's what started this whole mess, I..." The LEO cut him off. "She told us the story and the cameras told us the rest. " Aidan looked over where the LEO was pointing as saw Carol, now freshly scrubbed but with a concerned look on her face. She looked the perfect Marine wife, something Carol was good at. When the conversation with another LEO ended, Carol tentatively came over. "You're an idiot, you know that?" Carol said.
"Well..." he paused tasting blood in his mouth. A quick inspection revealed it was his lip. "...at least we have THAT in common." Carol closed her eyes and chuckled at that. "Touche big guy." She paused, then offered. "I called Admiral Louden. He told me if something like this happened, he would take care of things."
"I bet he did." Aidan said. Carol took that as accusatory. "What's that supposed to mean? I was only trying to help." She said, anger creeping in her voice. "I know you were honey, that comment wasn't directed at you. I'm sorry." Aidan said, knowing in his heart, the price would be more black ops. Not a prospect he wanted to think about but now, it was all he could think about. He opened the email from Louden. "Major Thornton, you will be released shortly on your own recognisence. Tomorrow morning 0900, when you are sober, report for a special tribunal on your conduct and look sharp. My office. Acknowledge this."
Aidan winced inwardly as he sent the reply. Inside he thought "Damn your black heart Louden."
He was released and Carol took Aidan home. She cleaned him up more and they had sex. Neither would call it making love. Carol out guilt and Aidan wanting to establish his dominance a bit over what he thought of as his woman, plus he could use the release. It ended up be satisfying if not over the top. The next morning, Aidan was dashing in his dress uniform, the weight of the medals on the front intimidating to most that looked as he walked to Louden's Office.
After a very short wait, he walked in. The very definition of spit and polish. Stopping at the requesite distance, Aidan projected in normal if overly vocal tone. "Major Aidan Thornton, reporting as ordered."
"Major....do you wish to have defense counsel provided?" Louden offered. Aidan saw that Admiral Greer, and a new one, an Admiral Weston sat on either side of Louden. "I reserve that right until further notice. Neither you nor I want this to drag on for 6 months."
Louden was all business. "Agreed. You're being brought up on charges of conduct unbecoming. The assault on civilian persons. Drunk and disorderly in public. As well as the fact that you turned off your com in order to hide from Command. "How do you respond to the charges?"
"I was attacked without provocation by multiple individuals. I will plead guilty to drunk and disorderly, and you can obviously verify I had my com unit turned off. The attack was a response and should be considered self defense." Aidan offered.
"You were in the process of murdering the civilian that was involved with your wife. It was only the swift action of the local police that prevented further physical damage. He's still in critical condition at a local hospital, Major Thornton." Louden paused to let that sink in. "I can and probably should ask for a general courts martial and have drummed out of the service. Your talents though are somewhat special, so I have an offer to make this less damaging. You will come back and serve for two years in my Command which you having providing unwavering loyalty to. As well as a one rank reduction, for a year."
Aidan's stomach churned at the thought. He thought about it and said, "No sir. Drum me out if you need to, but two years is unacceptable."
Louden was mildly shocked and took a moment to confer with his co-admirals. After a conference, he said. "You and I both know you are too valuable for that too happen, and it might cause too many questions. Your only alternative is TWO ranks permanent reduction and a return to the infantry or to resign your comission. Your choice Major. I can use you and you know it. You're good, but I cannot let such behavior stand."
Aidan thought about it and said, "I'll go with the Infantry, Sir."
Louden was again mildly shocked. "I guess you have lost your nerve for our particular brand of justice. Very well. First Lieutenant Aidan Thornton, you are summarily judged. Do you accept these terms?"
"Yes Sir I do." Aidan replied.
"Very well. I will give you the time until orders are cut to change your mind. Don't make a rash and foolish decision." Louden offered.
"I will give it all due consideration Sir. Thank you."
"Dismissed, Lieutenant." Louden said, making the comment a barb. Carol would be beyond pissed. He no longer cared. He was the one that had to look at himself in the mirror every morning and see the faces of team members and enemies alike that had passed through his life affecting it permanently. He turned as walked out, satisified if a little upset at himself for allowing his own rash behavior to screw up his life even further.
Peanut (Jeff Power) piloted the dark purpose built four person shuttle through a series maneuvers as they entered the system. Gloss black to reflect the starlight, stealth coating, and it even had a cloak. Aidan called out the pilot seat next to him. “Easy there cowboy, I'd like to keep my lunch where it is.”
“Sorry Chief.” the man called out. Chief in reference to Aidan's Indian heritage. “Peanut, I'd like to set down a little ways away from the perimeter. We shouldn't setting off any alarms a farther out.” Like Aidan's nickname, Jeff had one as well. Peanut was an intentional misnomer. Being nearly as large as Aidan, he clocked in at 6 foot 2 inches and nearly 200 pounds.
Peanut set the dark shuttle down, now camouflaged to match the surrounding terrain. Stepping on the forest floor, Aidan retrieved his kit. Jeff knew enough not to bother him. The other two team-mates were already in total suit-up, oblivious to the world around. This was a ritual they had all done dozens of times. There was little sound, save for the background noise from the surrounding plants swaying in the breeze and the occasional bird or small mammal. Snapping on thin composite panels over his powered armored, he waited for the night to become full. That would take time. He took off the thin gloves. Setting a plasma pistol nearby in case of surprise guests, he quickly field-stripped his alternative service pistol. Unthreading the barrel cap, he attached a silencer, about 8 inches , it made the double stack pistol over a well over a foot long when attached. It was nearly a least ditch weapon and the term was actually suppressed, no pistol will be silent as the slide moving will have some noise, like a hammer being used on a nail. Once back together, he slide it into the shoulder holster and made sure he had eight full 15 round magazine. If he needed more than that, he was in trouble.
The option was something he came up with. The two team-mates with him preferred drugged crossbow bolts. Aidan still preferred the gunpowder weapons. They work even in space as there is oxygen in the round of ammunition, and the carbine he was used was nearly silent. You would have to be within a few feet to even hear the sound of the bolt action being worked and the sound hitting the target would be less than slapping a mosquito. It used the same ammunition and magazines as the service pistol to save weight plus commonality let him save space for other things.
Various other tools went into long thought out and practiced spots. Knives, multi-tool, several types of lock-picks, his custom black ops tricorder, and two concussions grenades. Thought if he had to resort to grenades....escape would be impossible. Just for the sake of expediency each of the team, carried a photon grenade with a remote detonator. He hoped they wouldn't need it, but this was a mission he hadn't wanted to do in the first place.
Deep in FSF territory, the intelligence community had solid proof of a biogenics weapons facility. Targeted non-persistent biogenics that would decimate a populace to such a degree that invasion or outright takeover was much easier. Carol had managed to talk him into one more mission after a call from Admiral Louden. It was deemed so important, they had actually pulled him from the infantry and managed to scare up his old partner Jeff “Peanut” Powers. He had to admit that it felt good to be back in the seat with Jeff. The severity of the mission was something he that dwelled on him. He had explicit orders to terminate with extreme prejudice. The scientists were top on the list, but the orders included the base if he could manage it.
Night came quicker than normal, it being winter on the planet now. Once it was actually dark, Aidan motioned to the other two in the team. Aidan wanted to call them Adam and Eve as they kept to themselves and each other when not in missions. It was frowned upon, but Command looked the other way as long as it didn't interfered with missions. They were commiserate professionals. Aidan had his helmet in hand. He offered Jeff, “not going to be able to give you much of a warning. I know you hate it, but with the briefing I got, please stay in your seat and wait for me. It's either going to go very well, or very wrong.”
“Ah...you worry to much Sitting Bull.” Yet another name Jeff had come up with. There were others depending on mood.”
“Your mouth to the Creator's ears.” Aidan replied.
“If she's cute.” Jeff retorted, unable to resist the endless barbs when Aidan mentioned the creator after finding out that the creator is female in Aidan's culture. The barb made him smile. Slipping on the thin black helmet, he triggered the suit to go dark ( passive mode), and started the kilometer walk to the base perimeter.
The trio drifted through the foliage. The sensors used in the power armor they wore were state of the art. They consumed very little power unless fully active, also deadened by the layers of electronic muscle and stealth material as the outer layer. Within an hour they reached a fully active energy wall. This would be a problem.
Aidan gave the hand signal for down. They all froze. Several guards were walking the perimeter. They waited. Changing of the guard. Activating his chronometer, he checked the intervals. There was swap out every 15 minutes. They all used the same pass-code. Sloppy, Aidan thought to himself. Aidan gave the word that they would each take a guard them mimic the code to get in.
A few minutes later he was waiting in the woods. Carbine to his shoulder. His guard was passing by. Stepping into a darker area, the short rifle made a nearly silent 'poot' and the guard dropped instantly. Carefully Aidan drug his kill deeper into the woods and covered with several branches he gathered. Walking quickly, he adjusted his gait to match that of the one he eliminated. He palmed a small shape charge into his hand and pretended to trip a little using the beam of the energy wall to steady himself. In passive mode, the charge would wait for his coded signal before doing it's job. If it was removed, it would go off instantly. A fail safe.
Within ten minutes the trio was inside the perimeter. Aidan walked over to a nearby console made it look like he was logging in. His customer tricorder was hard at working on the security interlocks. If he managed to get in, the job would be much easier. The map and a few doors codes were all her could obtain from this console. They would have to risk it further in. The limited time they had before one of the three bodies were discovered or a guard failed to return to his post was rapidly dwindling. He latched another small explosive to the underside of the console, out of sight. Moving along, 40 meters away, another console came up. Logging in, his tricorder cracked more files. The labs were up ahead. Approaching the door, he signaled for the other to watch the hallway while he did the dirty work.
Removing the pistol from it's holder he slipping into the door. One the scientists looked up, wondering why a guard was in their when the klaxon sounded. The door behind Aidan slammed shut. He didn't let it bother him. Raising the heavy pistol he shot the first technician in the head. The entrance wound was a perfect neat circle but the back flew out on the wall behind him. Another was moving, a quick double tap to center mass ended the movement. The last one was cowering in the corner. A quick shot to the head made another mess. Aidan put it as far out of his mind as he could, he'd deal with the mental fallout later. A firefight erupted in the hallway. Aidan removed the suppressor from the pistol. It would track faster and noise was your friend in a firefight. Boosting the muscle amplification to maximum, her forced the door open a little. Adam helped him once the door inched. A short staff elongated from a leg pocket and Aidan shoved it into the opening. It wouldn't hold forever, but it should be enough. Several canisters of completed biogenic compounds were in the corner. He took out his photon grenade and looked at the two co-combatants. They nodded nearly in unison. Each sealing their suits, he placed the grenade in the middle. Taking out a concussion grenade has motioned for Eve to do the same. Counting to three they each tossed one in the opposite direction of the door. As they blew, the trio rushed out. Aidan wanted his infantry rifle badly at this point or even a sword for such close quarters. He shot two guards down the hall, as Eve did the same with her plasma pistol. A guard nearby was recovering from the stun effect of the grenade and grabbed Aidan's legs. He punched the man in the head, hearing the sickening sound of the jawbone breaking. Triggering the charges he left on the consoles, two brief thuds were heard, amongst a scream or two.
Reaching the outer wall, he then triggered the photon grenade. The blast lifted the three of them off of their feet, slamming them several feet away. Aidan shook off the effects as quickly as he could, he burst scan the explosion. It should not have been that large. Tricobalt. A large charge of it has been replaced with his photon grenade. He heard Eve make a noise. Her suit had been torn slightly at one of the joints, and she was limping as she got up. The self sealing compounds would take effect, but would they take effect in time was the problem, his tricorder was registering chemical threats. “Take her, I will cover the rear, give me your photon grenades first.” Adam handed over the two grenades. Aidan did another burst scan. Both were tricobalt variants. The equivalent of 50 tons of TNT. “I'll kill him.”Aidan said to himself. He used the power armor to throw one of the grenades as far as he could. He hoped it would reach the other side of the facility to give the illusion of multiple attacks. Waiting 5 seconds after the throw, he triggered the grenade and was satisfied with a large explosion and several secondary ones. Whatever had been there was now burning. Even at this distance he felt the shock wave from the grenade. He thought about using it, then thought better of it. Maybe he'd use it for Admiral Louden's new suppository.
Making their way as quick as they could, they has made it about 300 meters when another explosion ripped through the building. It sent debris raining all over the area. To make matters worse, a group of soldiers headed their way. “Adam, keep going. Make the best time you can, I'm going to draw them off.” He triggered his VX com. “Peanut, we are in a bad way out here. Take the others first and me last. A beam out would be nice.”
Going to the enemies right flank, Aidan found a large tree that had been blown over and was rotting. A nice little hideaway for a few shots. He turned on the starlight scope. It didn't have much magnification, but the cartridge was only good for accurate shot to about 100 meters. Normally he'd wait and pick off the stragglers, but he wanted them to stop and scatter. One of the men was waving his arms. Aidan took that as he was in charge and shot him in the head. The man dropped. Several other crowded around him. Racking the bolt, he took aim and shot the one attending to the fallen comrade. This time he aimed for a wounding shot. Simple strategy implied that it takes more people to take care of a wounded soldier than a dead one.
Starting to get up and move to a new location, Aidan saw the second man go into convulsions. “Biogenics” Aidan thought to himself. “Peanut, be advised, level 4 MOPP (mission oriented protective posture), is in effect. I say again, level 4 MOPP is in effect.”
“Roger that Chief. Suited up and ready. On the way.” Peanut responded.
He rolled out quietly, and started catching up to Adam and Eve. He had to occasionally double back to ensure the enemy wasn't too close. A couple of minutes later, he saw the small ship land in a nearly impossible spot between the trees. The ramp in the back came down and Peanut as out helping with Eve. She was limp. It was impossible to know her status from here. They had loaded her into her seat. Aidan was less that 100 meters away now. As he looked up he saw a small patrol of three men flanking his team. He snap-shot one of them, as another was getting ready to toss a grenade. It was a race to see who was first. Aidan quickly worked the bolt. Another snap-shot which hit the soldier as he was mid throw. It caused the grenade to land between the two groups. It went off tossing both groups. He ran, sliding the carbine to his back with the sling and pulling out the service pistol. He slowed as he got there. The last soldier convulsing on the ground. Aidan shot him between the eyes as a mercy killing.
Checking on Adam, he was already dead, tears in his suit and the force of the grenade doing it's deadly work. Jeff was breathing raggedly. He coughed up blood as Aidan lifted him up, then reached to the panel on the man's exo-suit and keyed in large does of painkilllers. “I g-guess this it is Crazy Horse. It's been a wild ride.”
“Louden will pay for this. I promise.” Aidan said.
“Don't. He's not worth the breath. You were right to get out. Tell Jan I love her.” Jeff said. Aidan nodded, tears welling up in his eyes. Jeff passed quickly. He lifted Jeff's body up and into the co-pilot seat, strapping him in. Then doing the same with Adam, and making sure Eve was set. It wouldn't do to have bodies bouncing around in the cabin during flight. His last action was setting the remaining photon grenade out on a ten minute delay. With a little luck a few more bastard would be claimed for this
He had no problem on the return flight. He took the time to run decontamination procedures. Alone with his thoughts he stewed. Carol. Louden, his daughter, they all flooded his mind. A few hours later, he reached the rendezvous point, a small starship waiting. He decloaked a half million klicks away. “Watchtower, this is Nightingale. Mopp 4 procedures are in effect on board. I have three fatalities.”
“Nightingale, this is Watchtower. You are cleared for cargo bay 2. Stay in the ship until decon teams are in place.”
“Roger Watchtower.” He punched the comm a bit too hard nearly shattering it.
20 minutes later, the shuttle was in the bay, the teams had finished the exterior decontamination and the bodies put into stasis until they could be dealt with properly. Aidan, still in full body suit was being power washed in the heavy gravity chamber. He imagined it was a hot shower and let his mind drift. In a few minutes, he was done. “All clear Lieutenant Thornton..”
“Thanks guys.” Aidan had no beef with any of the crew. Like him, they were mere puppets for the puppet master who was now walking in the door. Aidan set the power to maximum on his suit but released the helmet.
Full of himself as usual, but smooth Louden offered. “I read your after action report. Looks like the facility is out of commission rather permanently. I'm truly sorry about your friends.”
“Is there someplace nearby we can talk?” Aidan asked. A nearby office was cleared. Aidan and Louden were alone.
Louden said just the wrong thing. “They were good people. I think we...” Aidan snapped. He reached out and grabbed Louden by the throat with one hand and lifted him up bodily with the other, slamming him against the wall. Gritting his teeth he said, “what the fuck do you know about good people? They are DEAD because of YOU! How the fuck do you get off screwing with our equipment? Tricobalt?! Why not just shoot me yourself?!” Louden was trying to break the lock Aidan had on him, but it was like a small child trying to break the grip of an adult. “I should fucking end you right now and save the universe a helluva lot of trouble.” Aidan let go and Louden unceremoniously dropped into a heap.
As the Admiral was regaining his breath and composure, Aidan continued. “What I left out of the action report was that stunt you pulled compromised the entire mission. When the first grenade went off, it crippled Eve. Adam had to help carry her away. But by then, she was already infected. It slowed us down enough for the enemy forces to catch up and engage us. I have the information stored in a private location. You will return me to the infantry and never darken my doorway again. If you do, the real report of how the chain of command killed my team by negligent misconduct, will come to light.”
Louden stood up and rubbed his neck. “You're mad, I get it. I have orders too. Mine were to make sure the biogenics didn't make it to the light of day. I was doing what was necessary. It's war. People die Thornton.”
“Fuck you Sir. If you had told me any of this, I could have made a few simple changes. My team-mates died because your sense of duty and honor are SO screwed up, you can't trust anyone anymore. Those people were my friends and more because we have our lives entwined. You just use people like tissue. Needless death is nothing to you as it never hits your doorstep. I did your dirty work for the last time. Do I get my transfer or should I ask for that court-martial and let people see the inner workings this office?” Aidan said.
“You're naive if you think any of this will come to light.” Louden offered.
“True. But I can make enough noise that questions will be raised. We both know that.” Aidan countered. “That's the problem with people that had my particular skillset. I can be an asshole too. I get my life back. A simple Marine career. It's all I ever wanted.”
Louden chuckled. “The higher up you go, simple goes out the window. Thornton, you are talented. I'll give you this.....for now. Life has a way of turning back on itself. We'll cross paths again. Count on it.” Louden walked out.
Aidan had gone out on the balcony. The stars were out. There was more light pollution than Aidan liked. Sometimes it was nice to get out and gather thoughts at the end of day. It was likely he was going to be a father again....perhaps twice over. He was okay with that. Something his mother had told him decades ago. "The days are long, but the years are short." It had taken him time, pun intended, to realize that himself. Missing too many birthday parties, and events with his daughter Ayasha, in her ten years, he made up as much as he could before the breakup of his marriage.
He hadn't seen her in around a month since the deployment of the Lavie to outer regions of the Gal Fed border. He also knew Ayasha would be buried in studies and her academy work. Proud as hell and scared too. Like any other parent, Aidan wanted more for her than he had. Putting her in the Medical service was safer, but by now means free from conflict. He set up his VX and linked it to the padd, the act of putting his thoughts into physical, or in this case, digital form, seemed to help him relax and organize at the same time.
Start log "Dad. It's something I am at once used to and now will be used again. Honestly I am ecstatic about it. Trying to get Yuka pregnant is a chore I will gladly live with, though I can sense the baby fever in her. Don't need to be a telepath for that. It should only be a matter of time with her."
"Emily is another story. I have a harder time getting a read on her. She was friendly from the start and then after her recent trouble, had what I can only assume to be a change of heart. I was happy to have her as a friend, never thought I'd get the benefits, and I was okay with that, great head on her shoulder. Then we had our moment. I typically like my women a bit...curvier. Yuka's hips are inspiring, but I was really unprepared for how hot Emily's athletic build was. Could it just be the change in women that excited me? Hard not to be excited when someone you care about and are attracted to says 'do me'. But does she want the whole relationship?
If that weren't enough, there is this whole gem based mass driver crap on this god-forsaken planet. Spiders the size of small air cars? More dictators? Where does it stop. If I die in this one, Em and Yuka would have access to my sperm in stasis, they would be able to have children without me, which would suck on my end. I didn't have a baby fever with Ayasha, but on look at her face, I was a goner. I expect it to be the same with Em and Yuka. A little for me as well. Love me a fertile round hottie. Carol had her moments there. I can only hope it isn't all morning sickness and cravings. I'm rambling. End log.
Paperwork was miserable enough, but with the war over, the thought of being yet another desk jockey, Aidan chafed. He knew enough to know that he could do more good here by organizing and guiding the people under Yuka's command. His meteoric rise to now full bird Colonel, was due in large part to the work and effort of everyone around him and Yuka. It had to be acknowledged. Not doing it would be a slap in the face to them. A young stacked woman came in with a padd and walked up to his desk. "Colonel Thornton? I'm Lt JG Jesse Parker. I have a few requisitions that were put through for you. Also congratulations on your promotion." Aidan lost in a sea of paperwork and planning, glanced up, stared at her boobs for a nano-second, before looking her in the face and grumbling, "Thank you, but supply is over there." Pointing in a direction away from his desk. "No Sir. You misunderstand me. There are items that were ordered for you, once you hit Colonel rank, it became automatic. I am here to deliver you a few perks." Aidan locked his desk computer and padd with a simple command to his VX. "Okay Parker, since you obviously feel this is more important than the entire Trinity fleet. Let's get this over with." A slight annoyance was detected in Aidan's voice. She smiled and ignored the barb, "I'll try and make this quick, but I need you to come with me." Parker offered. Aidan ran a check through his wristcom, it was more or less his yeoman now, the thought that they would probably assign him one now made him wince internally. Parker checked out. He got up and said, "Lead the way Lieutenant. You're on my time." She responded with a curt, "Yes Sir." He stopped just long enough to retrieve his weapons. Parker commented, "I don't think you'll need those." "Not your call Parker and I don't want 'i didn't think I'd need it', on my tombstone." Aidan said honestly. Walking outside they took a short stroll to the parking lot. An all black air-car had Marine Colonel plates on it. It was a beauty and large enough for him, Yuka, Em, and a few others with gear. She handed him the fob and he slipped it into his pocket. "Anything else? You could have done this inside." Aidan's irritation growing. "Yes sir, but we also need to get you fitted out for your new power armor. At command rank, there are more functions built in and it's been tested that a simple rescan of body and brain connections make it a better fit and faster reaction time." Parker offered. Then added, "I would be happy to be your driver this time, until we assign you one, since I know the way." "Stop right there. The day I can no longer pilot an air-car, I hand in my commision." Aidan said. Parker looked over with an expression that said, "heard that before. Cry me a river." Aidan surrendered. "Fine, let's get this over with. He tossed the fob back and slid into the passenger seat, the auto harness securing him to the seat. Parker mirrored him and within a few seconds, there were airborne. The short flight over, Aidan checked some presets and added the functions to his wrist com, so the fob was unneeded most of the time. Soon at the destination, they walked in together. His took off everything but his skivvies, socks, and t-shirt. The scanning bed was a slightly different design but it had been a few years since his last scan. Stepping into the rig, it locked him in place. Then extra restaints triggered so that he could no longer move. He was about to say something when Admiral Louden stepped in. Aidan kept his cool, but fumed underneath, having been caught when his gut told him this was odd. "What the hell do you want....Sir." Aidan said, making no attempt to hide the irritation in his voice. "Now, now. I'm only here to make you an offer. Louden said, then added. "How do you like my gift?" "The car? Keep it." Aidan said instantly. "The car?!" Louden chuckled once. " A trinket and you earned that fairly, it didn't come from me. I was thinking of your recent medical treatment. I bumped you a little in the order and made a spot available. Plus I had them tweak your recovery and muscle tone a bit." "What do you want in return?" Aidan said, knowing there probably wasn't a way to reverse it now. "I want you to consider coming back to work for me." Louden said. Aidan opened his mouth to speak, but Louden held up his hand to stop him. "Hear me out. Yes there might be a job or two involved. Your talents are considerable, but the main reason would be for you to teach your skills to other people." Aidan narrowed his eyes a little as he looked at Louden. "Why? You never do anything unless you benefit from it." "True, but in this case you'd be helping me as well as training people to stay alive during special circumstances." Louden offered. "I'm not considering anything in restraints. This is borderline coercion." Aidan offered. "My speech is over. I know you're interested. Helping people out is in your nature." Louden turned and started to walk out. "I guess Parker was a perk too." Aidan said, not as a question. "No, an unwiting pawn, she saw the pips and did her job. No fault of hers." Louden said. "Except trusting you." Aidan said. Louden walked out. The scan started and the restraints unlocked. In a few minutes it was over. Parker walked back in. "Your scans are complete. I will have your new power armor built and sent to your armory." She offered.
"Not even an apology. Nice. Sleep well at night?" Aidan asked her. "I...I...don't understand. The Admiral said he wanted to talk to you and I did need scans for you. I thought it was a surprise greeting.” Parker said, backpedaling. Aidan looked down and the restrains has turned into a powder. One time use. Nothing to trace. " I'll give you that. It was a surprise.” He stopped and was about to unleash a speech, then changed his train of thought. He grabbing his clothes, weapons, and wristcom. “Never mind. You were used. The Admiral does that.” Aidan hurriedly dressed, and tucked in the last of his stuff Once everything was perfectly placed he said. “Word of advice. Watch that trust thing. Not everyone with rank deserves it or uses it properly." He turned and started to walk out the door. "Can I drive you back? Buy you a drink? My way of apologizing." Parker said. Aidan stopped, wanting to be cordial to someone just handed a shit detail. "No, but I appreciate both offers. Have a nice day Parker. Not your fault.” Getting back into the air-car, Aidan was calmer, but put the vehicle through enough manuevers in the short ride back to the Command Center to set off several warnings. He's have to work out extra hard after his duty shift to not take it out on anyeone else.