This is not G rated. I edited it with dashes for FB to keep it PG – I think. FYI. Still rough, I’m sure I’ll tighten this up through many more edits. Comments after you read, please.
Spring came to the great Other continent after several false spurts. Cohort Commander Toll, true to his word, kept the Third Fight in the field. Cale saw plants he’d never seen in the wild. Or, in such abundance. The air grew thick with humidity. It seemed the pollen was so thick, such was the sexual fever in the plants, that Cale felt the whole season aroused him. Or, maybe I’m just a very healthy young man. Screw it, the air here is exciting. He always turned his gaze to the Great Escarpment. Every time he was outside he looked to the high ridge. They’re over there. The Aliens are over there. He was outside for Sevens after Sevens. Toll made them live in the field. He sent them to Training Area J.
Training Area J was called a local training area because it didn’t take more than a day to get there. Units could fire every weapon including the main energy gun. Although firing the main weapon was retricted to two targets from the perspective of only one firing point. Units could maneuver. Dismounts could do anything they could imagine. Cale got to know Third Fight in Training Area J. Third Fight got to know their Warrior Leader Third Class.
At the end of each training event, he talked to the whole Fight. He remarked on every right and wrong action. He showed the Subs deference to make their remarks. He asked the whole Fight direct questions. He asked them to ask questions, which they did with frank, directness.
The soldiers sat in the shade of two machines eating and resting after a deliberate assault drill. Eight out of eighteen soldiers were Potways. Three others came from the Other, but weren’t Potway. Seven came from Back Old, like Cale. Only two of them came from the Colonial Capitol megapolis. The five others came from every odd corner of Original Continent. The Original and the Other continents were the only land masses on the planet. Humans held the Original and the land from the port cities to the far frontier on the Other. It was assumed Aliens had the rest, but no one knew.
Cale had Senior Sub Mett, four machine commander subs, three dismount subs and one systems tech sub. Most of the subs were just acting subs on their first term. Half my Fight is leaders. Half is doers. Why didn’t they tell us they’re so understrength in the Basic course? Some GGO secret? What the screw?
“I gots a question for yas, Warrior Leader,” Dismount Sub Dunc smiled and looked around at his buds. He was beefy and strong. More pale than most Potways.
“Warrior Leader, Sir,” Cale said evenly.
“Right. I gots a question for yas, Warrior Leader, Sir.” Dunc paused. Cale took off his helmet with the slurp from his neck. He nodded.
“Was thats the first time yas hears Alien war machines with yas own ears?”
“Yes. Yes, it was.” The soldiers snickered.
Dunc laughed out loud, “I knows it.”
“When was the first time you heard the war machines, Sub Dunc?” Cale didn’t bat an eye as every soldier stared at him.
“Oh, I hears them all my life. Since I was a baby. I’m Potway. We plays the sound since we’s babies.” Dunc got up, hunched his back and put his hands out like claws. He made the sound of an Alien War Machine, “Aaaaaaahhhhhhh-ew-ew-ew-ew-ew! Blam!” Dunc made it eerily perfect. He stomped in a small circle.
“C’mon, Stew, do it,” Dunc invited another Sub to join. They menaced each other with their hands and made the War Machine noise, over and over. They shouted the “Blam.” They counted out loud to twelve between each firing cycle. Each time was louder. Other soldiers joined the circle. Half the Fight did the dance and half watched smiling, clapping and nodding. Dunc made each chant louder, bringing them to a crescendo and yelled, “Alien enemy. Alien, Alien! And now you’re all dead done!”
“Alien, Alien! We’re all dead done!” The whole fight responded.
“They teach that nursery rhyme Back Old,” Cale smiled broadly. “Never seen it danced out.”
“We does it as babies, Sir. I don’t know when I heard the Aliens the first time. Seems like all my life.” Dunc was out of breath. “Sir.”
Cale had passed another trooper test. There were plenty of tests, until he passed them all. On this one, Cale told the truth about his lack of experience, his no time on the far frontier, and he hadn’t apologized or gone weakling about any of it. He looked the soldiers in the eyes every time. No matter what. Warrior Leader, Third Class Cale had no experience compared to his soldiers, but he had all the training and education to be their leader. His code was hard-tested. He didn’t quit. He wasn’t washed out as unfit to lead. Cale was in charge of the Third Fight. No doubt about it. Senior Sub Mett would never tell the other Subs, but he was glad to get back to his duties and let Cale B. make the decisions. Especially, the hard decisions about working long and late. Even the life and death combat decisions. Mett didn’t think this junior Third Grade would get them killed. He had a good gut about Cale B. He wouldn’t let him do it, anyway.
The troops found one thing about Cale very annoying. He made them carry their shields. Even when the exercises were over. Even when they took a bio break. All the troops disliked it. Shields were a large plate-sized round sensor worn on the forearm. They had to be worn loosely, so they constantly were slipping off. They banged into everything. They tied up one arm for the most part. The Alien’s energy weapons sent out a broad beam which narrowed on a target when the target was identified. It all happened in three secs. A single element of energy, the first photon, made the shield ring loudly. A soldier had less than three secs to cast the shield from his arm and throw himself to the ground. If the Aliens’ directed energy concentrated and hit a few feet from the soldier, the soldier survived. Whatever was hit didn’t.
During a lull in training exercises, Cale asked his Tech Sub about them. “Why is shield sensor more sensitive than the sensors embedded on the War Machines?”
Tech Sub Izzo D. fit the job description. He looked more mouse than man. He spoke in a nasal monotone. Yet, he was the soldier with the most to deal with during action. Izzo had more distracting, discordant inputs in his displays than Cale had bombarding his strained cognition. And, this runt of a soldier was the coolest, most competent, manager of multiple sensors and reports in the whole cohort. Maybe among all the 1st Fighters or the whole 21st Battle Group. Izzo D. was from the Colonial Capitol and proud of it. He had a certificate, the only one in the Cohort, from the most selective tech institute Back Old.
“Couple of causes, Sir.”
“Like?” Cale had to invite a more detailed answer. Izzo didn’t like explaining tech to grunts.
“Cause the shield has been around for only three standards and these war machines are twenty-five standards old. Refit upgrades are on a five standard cycle. Sir.”
“Cause there’s something in the shield sensors that says something different from what is on the war machines. It’s highly classified, Sir. The ping back to the Aliens slows their target i.d. just enough. Just enough to live.”
“This was determined in the dust up over in the Upper Westerly Sector, right?”
“Yes, Sir.” Izzo brightened. Few junior Grade Three’s would know that. Fewer Alpha grads would even care to know it.
“They were taking hits at max range. Some of these sensors were in prototype testing on war machines. We were able to capture the data on the whole engagement. Who knew the Aliens would hit us on a test range?”
“Lucky and good tech protocols, Sir.”
“So, why don’t we hang a shield on our war machines and be done with it? Not have to wear them.”
Izzo took a long breath. “That, Sir, I’m not sure about. It’s counter-intuitive. The troops hang them on the War Machines now, but that don’t work the same. It’s probably something with the Alien algorithm. When they put out their wide beam, they seem to want to i.d. the war machine and us. Every human soldier. When they close the beam to shoot, the first kill is the war machine. But, then they come back and hit the troops. Every twelve secs. They must i.d. us differently from our war machines.”
“Unless the soldiers have a shield and throw it out of blast effect range.”
“It’s why we have to wear the shields. All the time. And drill, drill, drill.”
“Right, Sir,” Izzo looked dismayed to agree. He hated wearing the shields all the time too.
“Aliens want to kill every soldier they can. They want to kill every human.”
“They will, Sir. They will if they can.”
“Thanks, Sub Izzo. If you hear more about how the shields work, give me a class. Additional training.”
“Yes, Sir.” Izzo thrived on being the master of what others didn’t know.
Cale learned quickly that maintenance was training. That logistics were operations. Operations depended upon logistics, not the other way around. Cale didn’t know how to fix his War Machines, but he had to train and lead others to fix them and keep them fixed. He learned to train and lead others to do what he couldn’t do and he’d know when they had done it right.
“Sub Mett, why does Zero One keep breaking down? It looks bad being towed by Zero Two during every exercise,” Cale smiled slightly. He had to speak up over the racket. Every soldier, crew and dismounts, assigned to Zero One was in the bunker working or pretending to work. The metal banging echoed on the thick walls. The different ‘work’ music the troops played was even louder.
“Zero One has always been a bunker queen. Never worked right, Sir,” Mett had a rag in one hand and a tightening tool in the other. He leaned back into the open side engine compartment.
“Never?” Cale looked over Mett’s shoulder at the pool of dark fluids in the compartment. Many tiny leaks made quite a syrup of mixed engine liquids.
“Nevers, Sir. I’se here when we gots her. I’se on my first term. I’se gunner for Zero Three before I went Dismount.”
Why is he talking Potway when he isn’t Potway? A lot of troops talk like locals. Officers, too. They just slip in and out of it. Huh.
“That’s a story I want to hear. Why you went dismount. Later. What was wrong with Zero One from the get?”
“You know that grinding noise you hear before she quits? That’s bad built. That’s not us’s bad maintaining.”
“Why can’t we fix it?”
“Have to get a new War Machine, Sir. Can’t fix bad built. The tolerances on too many parts are off. They rub and break. We can replace broken parts.”
“So, we’re going to rebuild her from the inside out?”
“Been doing that for almost fifteen standards?” Mett stood up straight. He stratched his chin holding the filthy, oily rag.
“How much is left to go?”
“It’s the main drive assemblies, Sir,” Mett leaned back on the machine. His back needed rest from bending. All of his body needed rest from strain. “We can’ts get them replaced unless they is combat damage or catastrophic failure. Then theys get shipped all the way Back Old to refit at the factory. We won’t have a machine for a standard or two. When they just locks up and don’t run, we can’ts get new ones. A machine being towed can still shoot.”
They don’t teach that at Basic. Or, the Academy. Or, Alpha School. Now what?
“I gots a buddy in the Second Fighters who owes me. He says he can get a right and left engine assembly from the bone yard of our combat recovered junk. No way on the main engine assembly. Dunno about the rears one,” Mett’s eyes squinted when he was sly.
“Do you have the authority to do that level swap out? Doesn’t the Old Man have to approve it?” Cale punched up the Zero One War Machine maintenance display on his wrist band.
Mett laughed, “No, Sir. There’s no swaps out. My buddy owes me. The system is broke.”
“You don’t use the system,” Cale punctuated the conversation. His tone wasn’t as accusing as he felt. The system doesn’t work because you don’t use it.
“I uses the system when I cans. I’ll show you on Zero Two,” Mett pointed to the bunker door. He walked ahead with a slight limp.
Major repairs are done Back Old? That can’t be good when the Aliens attack in force. Maybe it’s because a factory facility can’t be protected on the frontier. But, not even at the ports of the Other? Cale spoke to his wrist pad, “Journal note. Major assembly repairs.” He started a journal the last day of his first field exercise. He titled it ‘My Army Unknowns’. His list of questions grew steadily. From leadership, to logistics, tactics to terrain, history to religion, everything that affected The Army on the far frontier as he lived it. Back at his billet, he’d take his notes and write them out as all the questions he couldn’t answer. Questions about everything it seemed, except women. He didn’t have questions about women, just thoughts about women – all the time.
Field time working went by fast. Down time in the field, waiting in between exercises, waiting for supplies or ammunition went by slowly. Excruciatingly slow. But, it was a good time to get to know the troops. Soon enough, Cale could recite 18 names, their ranks, duties, time in service, and rattle off personal details one after the other as the soldiers opened up about themselves in a bit of conversation here, a direct question there, an overhead comment from another, and reading their personal personnel files when he had the time to read. Cale respected his soldiers as individuals. He demanded they set aside everything personal to work together as teams and teams of teams. He liked them as men, but he wasn’t trying to be their friend. Ever. There were a several bad cases and one, maybe two, too odd fellows that didn’t fit in.
Trouble-makers either resented authority or hated work. Or both. Cale knew how small units worked together or didn’t. The grueling years at the academy made him a follower for the longest time. When he got to lead a few underclassmen he learned how to explain, check, explain again, double-check and keep checking during execution – of everything. When he got to lead a few peers he learned how to really lead by example. Do what you expect them to do. Do it better. Cale looked at this battle roster daily. He wondered how to make the Fight better for when it really had to fight. What will this soldier or that do if the Aliens close and engage? Will he do his duty or what? He makes the simplest stuff painful. He whines too much. He doesn’t carry his load. He skips out, for super long bio breaks or whatever, if not watched. What do the Subs say?
Tech Support Whel M. was such a challenge. He worked for the Tech Sub Izzo D. Whel’s duties were to keep all the sensors that Izzo employed employable. Keep them all charged, fueled, armed, cleaned, ready to launch, recovered and refitted. It was a never ending job. It wasn’t hard physically, although it could mean crawling all over War Machines as they moved and fired. It required attention to detail. Whel’s greatest attention was to himself.
“Warrior Leader Cale, Sub Izzo and Whel need to Stand Up again,” Senior Sub Mett grimaced. He had had it with those two.
“Right. Bring them up,” Cale sat up from resting against a tree. He put his helmet beside him and rested an elbow.
Sub Izzo and trooper Whel marched up to Cale and saluted. Cale returned their salute seated.
“Sub Izzo has a Stand Up, Sir,” Sub Mett announced and took a step back.
“Standing Rest, Men,” Cale ordered. He slowly looked at each soldier up and down. “Make your report, Tech Sub Izzo.”
“Sir, Whel has disobeyed a direct order to keep all sensors green to go.” Whel small like Izzo but tending toward fat. He kept his round face as well fed as possible. He always needed a haircut. His uniform had flaps flapping and zips opened where all should be sealed shut.
“A direct order? Or, is that your standing operating procedure? Your standard is green. How did he violate a direct order?”
“He hasn’t maintained the aerial or ground drones. They’re not ready now.”
“Is Whel saying he’s not going to do it?”
“No Sir, he hasn’t done the maintenance.”
Cale raised one eyebrow and cocked his head to Sub Mett. Sub Mett shrugged his shoulders. Izzo and Whel couldn’t see him shrug and shake his head in disgust.
“Tell me again, Sub Izzo, what’s this Stand Up about?”
Izzo rocked back and forth on his heels. His hands were locked appropriately behind his back. He looked down. His voice dropped, “Sir, Tech Whel hasn’t kept the drones up to standard. I told him to, but he hasn’t done it.”
“Permission to speak, Sir,” Tech Whel blurted. His fat cheeks were red.
“Permission denied, Whel.” Cale took another long look in each man’s eyes. He looked behind them at Mett. “Whel, if you haven’t done what you’re ordered to do, then when I send you back, you get about doing everything you’re told to do,” Cale let his voice rise for effect. He took a deep breath.
“If you ever come here in front of me for a Stand Up, because you refused to do your duty, because you refused an order from Tech Sub Izzo, I’ll take your liberty and have you in front of our Cohort Commander to take as much from you as he can. Every word that comes out of Tech Sub Izzo’s mouth is an order to you. An order that you are going to obey completely. You got it?”
“Right, Sir.” Whel responded as much in surprise as meekness.
“I can’t hear you, Whel.”
“Dismissed Whel. Senior Sub Mett, get him away.” As Whel did a military about face, Mett pointed him to the other side of War Machine a few steps away.
“Tech Sub Izzo,” Cale glared. “Don’t ever bring a trooper to me again, because you can’t make him do his duty. That’s your duty as a Sub. If you can’t figure it out, talk to Senior Sub Mett or the other Subs or I’ll send you up to Cohort, Fighter, or Battle Group to talk to the Senior Subs.” Cale pointed his finger at Izzo. “But, you make sure you’re real clear on this. Don’t ever bring a soldier to me because you aren’t leading him. And, make even more screwing sure that if a soldier ever, ever, disobeys you, you bring him to Stand Up so fast his head spins off. Got it?”
“Right, Sir.” Izzo looked like he wanted to say something.
“Dismissed, Tech Sub Izzo.”
“Right, Sir.” Izzo did his about face and marched off as quickly as he could.
“Any questions, Senior Sub Mett?”
“Any comments, Senior Sub Mett?”
“I’ll coach Izzo later, Sir.”
“Right.” Cale stood up, picked up his helmet and walked over to his most distant war machine. Afterwards, Cale found excuses during training or on breaks to talk to Whel and Izzo, separately, about their jobs and let them talk about themselves. Nothing was resolved, nobody changed, but any questions about following orders and the authority of Subs was settled in Third Fight. The word was out on how to get fried by the Warrior Leader.
By the end of their time in Area J, Cale got the Third Fight to do every battle drill for their mission list. Their performance was acceptable. Not great. The Cohort Commander visited frequently. He made few corrections. Mostly, Toll spotted maintenance oversights the Subs should have caught. Oversights Cale needed to inspect for – from then on out. Each time it embarrassed Cale. No one knew how much. Cale made the corrections like closing his boots. Normal, everyday, get it done stuff.
The Fighter Commander came out a couple of times. He was a distinguished looking middle aged officer. Cale heard that he served a lot of standards in GGO Army headquarters in the Colonial Capitol. He didn’t inspect anything. He just talked to the troops. He smiled a lot. He asked about their food and sleep cycles before he asked about their quals in training. According to Toll, the Battle Group Commander saw some of the training from his ops table and went out to observe from behind the firing point when they re-qualified their War Machines.
Third Fight did well on shooting. It was pretty simple stuff on the limited range they had. What bothered Cale was his dismounts. They’re too slow. They act like the shield drills are stupid. They probably need to be in better shape to operate longer on their own away from the War Machines. How can they operate away from the machines? The operating distance for dismounts was a huge debate across the Army. Doctrine for training was to keep them in close support to defend the War Machine. Voices called for changes to the tactical doctrine.
Each dismount carried a rocket launcher for rounds with the chemical explosive power of thirty joules of energy. It’d blow up almost any vehicle out to line of sight. It had to have a special warhead to penetrate bunkers or thick-walled buildings. Also, the dismounts carried thousands of tiny fleshette arrows. They could be fired from a wrist device opposite their comms wrist. Or, for more power, they could be fired through a charging device called a ‘gun’.
Arrows and gun training applied for what was called the close in fight. But, Aliens hadn’t gotten that close since the massacres, like the one at memorialized at the ’84 Easterly Settlement. Arrows and gun training was a joke in the Army. There’s a call in the professional pieces to use dismounts offensively at greater distances from the War Machines and even independently of them. I’ve got to figure out what can be done. There’s something there. I know it. First, I’ve got to get them to do the battle drills we already have to standard. Cale thought about options for employing dismounts – over and over. How to fight better nagged his other thoughts all the time. Dismounts became Cale’s personal special study.
Later, Cale referred to all of his first time with troops as his apprenticeship in the profession of arms. He was learning his trade as a soldier just as any good, highly specialized and complex craftsman did Back Old. He remembered every lesson he learned. For the rest of his life.
Many Sevens later when Cale got back to his billet, he couldn’t believe how good a hot shower felt. He leaned against the wall and made the water as hot as his flesh could bear. Screwing wonderful. Ah. This is better than sex. Cale laughed out loud. No, nothing is better than sex. Nothing. A big meal served with all the fixings might be third after sex. This screwing shower is definitely second. Sleeping on that bed will be fourth. He laughed out loud again. Maybe I should put in my journal the top ten. Or hundred things next to making love to a woman. Good sex. Gotta be number one. Always. Some good conscientiousness alterations – pills, beverages, snorts or eats. Whatever. Or does that count as part of number three’s big meal? Cale smiled and rubbed soap over his body like a woman would.
That night he had the big meal, a local beverage of mild conscientiousness alteration, another hot, hot shower and a good night’s sleep in a clean bed. The next day and night were Sevenths so he was off. He was lucky to not be stuck with duty officer as junior as he was. He was free to explore Fort Hope the town or do as he pleased.
Cale walked all day. The fullness of late Spring was paraded in bright flower boxes for almost every window. They love their flowers here. The colors are beautiful. Such reds. The smells were as exotic and overpowering as the first time he encountered them in the train station. That seems like a long time ago. But, it’s not. Work changes time. Like at the Academy too many days were too long. The little time we go off on Sevenths was nothing. Cale accessed the city tourist bureau data. It read like a long list of violence. Little else happened here. Buildings were built. Babies were born. And, then the Aliens would come again to destroy the buildings and kill a lot of the people. He scrolled through the long list of attacks, bombardments, massacres, and a couple of Potway revolts.
His foot explorations always circled back to the center of town and the monument to the Massacre at ’84 Easterly Settlement. He sat in a small park and watched the Potway women march there with their flowers. They chanted and sung songs he couldn’t understand. They sounded like Potway dialect, but so much so he couldn’t comprehend. Is that Old Potway or Old Standard? I have to learn more about these people and their cult. They make good soldiers in my Fight. Actually, studying more about Potways would compete with his tactical studies trying to figure out doing dismounted fighting better and answering all of his journal questions. So, many of his journal questions were technical equipment issues that took time to figure out. And cross check.
At least I know this statue is accurate. The women at ’84 Easterling fought the Aliens with knives when the men were dead and the weapons empty. The sensors captured it. But, why did they think holding their own babies as shields would distract the Aliens? Or, was it to make sure the infants got killed first before they did? Or, would having the baby be killed first give them an instant to get closer with a knife? How could knives hurt Aliens? Cale waved his hand in front of his face. Too much to think about. Hmm. How can you kill an Alien close in? What does it take besides a blast of directed energy?
Cale smelled the most pungent odor from a street vendor. Why not? He bought as greasy a sandwich as that taxi driver on his arrival ever hoped to snack. It was tasty. Messy, but spicy good. He walked to the overlook for the pathetic excuse of river with a huge flood plain for when it seriously raged. Here we go. The River Hope carries water all the way from the Great Escarpment to the ocean. Cale drew a map in his head. The entire frontier is defined by the Northwest to far Southeast Great Escarpment and parallel lines of East running West rivers like fish bones dividing the frontier into sectors. In lower latitudes to the equator the vegetation and creatures were different, but this is pretty much it. He was so absorbed, He drew imaginary lines with his hands. Mountains make the Great Escarpment. Humans hold the plains below on our side. Rivers cut them into rectangles. Close enough. What’s on the other side besides Aliens? He sat and watched the sun set. He watched the people watching their home star set. As darkness dominated, the very, widely spaced lights of human civilization flickered across the plain back towards the Ocean. Towards Back Old. In the other direction to the East just beyond the lights of the Army’s Fort Hope there was absolute, complete black darkness.
He’d go back to the Fort through town. Cale’s intestines churned. That sandwich. He looked for a public place. He barely made it to club right outside the park. When he felt cleaned out, he checked it out. It was loud, garish and very busy. He thought he saw one of his soldiers at the bar. Cale left to finish the walk back to Fort Hope, if his stomach would let him.
A taxi pulled up ahead of him. Two Warrior Leaders he recognized from the Officers’ Mess hopped out and scurried right into another club. Cale followed. It was loud, garish and busy. Cale saw the Warrior Leaders across the room and joined them. They offered him a local conscientiousness alteration beverage.
“This isn’t a mild,” Said the tall guy from 1st Fighters.
“Cale B.,” He offered his hand to both. “New guy.”
“We know. Paul A.,” The tall guy’s name clicked when Cale heard it.
“Kevi S.,” said the powerfully built guy. He was a bit shorter than Cale, but twice as wide. His arms looked like legs.
“Seriously, if you have two of these, you’ll have to take a cab back to the billets,” said Paul.
“And, you won’t be able to get it up for any of them,” Kevi made an expansive circle with his beverage. There were women all around them. More men than women, but plenty of women. “Who are you with?”
“Alpha, 2nd of the 21st,” said Cali. The first sip of this brew was a warning. He went past relaxed to almost sleepy in one swallow. Then, he saw a woman who looked familiar. She shook her short blonde hair. Oh. The ground flight engineer. Good bust. Big bust. Rust? Must? Sust? Cale took a sip of his drink. Tust! Ground flight engineer, Tust. He turned his back to her so she couldn’t see him. He couldn’t dump these guys after they just put an expensive conscientiousness alteration in his hand. Cale made small talk.
He pumped them for information unobtrusively. He asked them about their training, maintenance and leadership by getting them to tell stories on themselves. Some were really funny. Better, they were true. People like to talk. Let them talk. I’ll listen. Despite their dire warning about local brew potency, he bought them one each and excused himself as they addled their brains.
When Cale walked up to Tust, she was leaning back on the bar. Three men hovered near laughing at her every word. Her dress was cut low enough to show her magnificent young breasts, but not low enough to be sleazy. Her dress showed every curve enough to say they’re there. She snorted on her drink when she saw Cale.
They both said, “I know you.” They laughed. The other men didn’t.
“Where’ve you been Warrior Leader?” Tust asked.
“Cale. Cale B. Ground Flight Engineer Tust,” Cale offered his hand. She took it like she did the first time and looked hard into his eyes.
“Very good, Cale. You remembered my name.”
“How could I forget?” The other fellows faces fell from laughing to grim to slight sneers. They wandered away in the secs to follow.
“So, where’ve you been, Cale?”
“The field. I’ve been living outside like an animal for the whole time since I got here.”
“Hmm. What kind of an animal?”
“You tell me. If you can’t still smell me from there.” Cale stepped closer. As the word foreplay bantered, she kept touching his arm. She’d brush back her short hair over her ear. Several times she tugged at an imaginary sweater to cover her breasts. He put his arm behind her on the bar. She leaned on his arm.
They finished their drinks. They danced. Cale pulled her close. Her ear was just below his mouth. She hugged him tightly in the slow dance. “Let’s go. Do you have a place?” Cale asked.
Tust nodded yes and pulled him in tighter. Cale dropped his arm from her and took her hand in his. It was sweaty and fit well. They walked out into the warm night.
“Not far. We can walk,” Tust said. They stayed silent and kept holding hands.
It wasn’t far at all. She opened the blast doors and led him up the back stairs. Clearly, she shared the apartment. He could hear people in two rooms. She locked the door behind him in hers. It was much more open and airy than the dark apartment suggested. The sky light was bright with stars.
“Another brew?” Tust asked.
“No,” Cale said. “Lights min.” The room turned dark. He took both her hands in his and pulled her to him. He kissed her softly on the lips. He leaned back and saw her smile. Her teeth were strong and white. He kissed her gently. The kisses became more demanding. They opened their mouths to share their tongues. Her breathing quickened.
Cale undressed her while kissing her in the mouth and kissing whatever he was unclothing when he couldn’t have her wet mouth. She was all woman and he thrilled to kiss her, touch her all over, and feel her respond. He mounted her and made love. It was as wonderful as ever. Tust was an out of breath, well-pleased woman. Cale cuddled her face to face. He ran his hand from the curve of her breasts down her side and —-. Over and over, gently but firmly.
“How often are you here, Tust-I-must,” he said softly.
“Cute. Oh, here and then,” Tust looked up at the sky light. The roof’s sliding blast doors hung below like huge shields above them.
Why is she being evasive?
“I’d like to get together again, Tusty.”
“Oh we will. Darling, we will,” Tust wasn’t coy about that.
“How do I contact you?” Cale asked.
“Oh, I’ll contact you,” Tust reached ——. They made love many times that night. In the middle of the night after they finally had fallen asleep for sixty mikes or so, Cale got up for a bio break. As he came back he saw her lying on one side in the starlight and brightness of the three moons this season. He was aroused again. He gently rolled her over to her back. She woke groggily as he took her knees and pulled her legs apart.
“You are a sexual athlete. Aren’t you? A real sexual athlete,” Tust’s voice was husky and tired. But a bit awed and very pleased, she would take as much as he could give.
Before dawn, they had ——-. “I’ve got morning call,” Cale said.
“I understand,” said Tust. She got up and took him to the street in her sheer robe. He was more aroused than ever to see her body through the shimmering gown and know how it felt. She gave him a long, lingering kiss. Tust pushed herself tightly against his crotch. “I’ll let you know when I’m back.”
“You have my contact data?”
“I know how to reach you. More later.”
“Yeah, Tusty. A lot more.” He kissed her again. He headed off towards the Fort in a trot. A few taxis zoomed around at this hour. Most were off call. In a few blocks, Cale waved one down. What a night! That was definitely number one in life. Number screwing one. Tust is wild and… Cale paused in his interior dialogue… wonderful. The best yet.
As Cale went about his duties, he rejoiced in the spring in his step. Nothing is better. Nothing. What a night. Busty Tusty. Hot, willing, wet, wild. Screw me. He laughed at that last thought. I can think about her all day. It’s OPET all day at Fighter Headquarters.
Cale had a quick head to head with Senior Sub Mett. He didn’t know if he would be back in time today to check on the assigned actions, but he knew he would the next duty day. Mett knew it, too. Cale hurried over to Toll’s office to go to OPET with the Cohort Officers. The other Warrior Leaders and the Tech… to be continued.
OPET. Officer Professional Education Training was mandatory in every organization of the GGO Colonial Army, The Army, from Cohort level up to the High Commander’s staff. The education and training varied as differently as each commander was one to another. OPET was designed to enhance officer professional development throughout a lifetime of service. There was no end to improving. That intent was theory. In practice, OPET, went from outstanding to awful. Consequently, OPET was a constant subject of officer conversations and discussed in the professional pieces.