Epilogue to A Point of Honor

A Point of Honor
Epilogue Draft (01-04-10)

Something was bothering Connie— and Wes wasn’t sure what it was at all. In fact he had no idea. But it was always there whenever they talked, and even in silence. Pulling the pin he said, “What is it Darling? You haven’t been right since we got back from Minton.”

“It’s the train station Wes!”

“You did exactly right, it all worked out. Sure there were some casualties. Nothing you could do anything about.”

“I know all of that, but it’s my first decision I worry about. I should have taken the buses Gaza had waiting and gone straight for Government House!”

It all became clear. “Come on Babe, we have a shuttle to catch.”

The Wanderlust docked hard with Cardoman’s High Station and for the troops brought back up from the planet liberty commenced. Sgts Jeff Jeffries and Jimmy Calagan were among the first off. A harried petty officer was at his end of the docking tube with a list and a stylus to check ID’s and he waved them away almost without a second glance.

“Hey Chief, any action on this berg?”

Bored eyes now looked up; he’d heard the question a half a hundred times and said “Two decks down and starboard. Watch your step.”

A gangling kid of about 20, near as he could tell left the table and Jeff sat down before saying, “Hey girl mind if I join you?” She looked up and Jeff was surprised at how genuinely interested her greeting was. Things could be looking up.

Sure soldier, you must be new in from Triocat. Tell me—how was it?”

“Well Darlin’ wasn’t easy. What ya looking at?” Jeffries could tell by the fatigues that she was some kind of military but the light was dim enough and the alcohol kicking in enough that he couldn’t make out the small insignia on her shoulder from across the table. Whatever it was she was too young to be very high up on the food chain.

“This?” The girl said closing down the screen on the table in front of her, “Just looking over some of the systems Ryman has incorporated into their ship design. Some of the technical details are fascinating.”

“Holy smokes girl! You better watch yourself. All that stuff is top secret or higher!”

“Yeah thanks,” she said blinking, “I wasn’t thinking about that.”

There was a brief commotion at the bars entranceway and two large men entered. One dominating by his mere presence. They walked directly to the table and sat down. And one of them Jeffries could recognize at once. General Robert T, Davis, the other was an unbelievably young Colonel wearing the black and silver Cardoman Seventh uniform with a small pin that seemed to indicate the wearer had once won the Cardoman Medal of Valor.

“Just what have I gotten myself into now?” the Sergeant wondered barely this side of panic.

Raising his hand for an order of drinks General Davis looked at Jeffries and said, “And who might you be son?”

“Jeffries Sir, just in from Triocat via Novi and off of the Wanderlust.” He wanted to stand and salute but his legs were failing him.

“Heard some good things about your unit. I’m Robbie Davis and the Colonel here is Fader Jameson. We were just going over your after action reports and would be happy to hear about it first hand.”

“More than happy to oblige Sir!” the panic now being replaced by an emotion he couldn’t quite name but nearly as unpleasant. “As I was telling the young lady—”

Two more officers, a nondescript Major and an amazingly good looking Captain, both wearing Seventh ground service uniforms, took the last remaining seats at the table while General Davis nodded a greeting and seemed to accept their presence without consideration of rank

“The young lady? You’re not on a first name basis yet?” Davis said this in his gravely base/baritone.

“Well no sir. Though I think we were getting there,” and Jeffries smiled while becoming more sure of himself.

“Then let me do the honors son. The young lady here is Captain Audie Madry, formerly from the Seventh now detached to the Navy and the book Captain of the Perseus. You probably saw the ship when you docked.”.

“Fine looking ship Ma’am,” Jeffries managed to say to the near legendary Madry in spite of the approaching paralysis from the blood rushing ever so rapidly to his head that was giving his face a rich, rosy red glow. Before he had a chance to dig the hole deeper he heard a noise and was the last at the table to look towards where it came from.

Cardoman High was a combination civilian and military establishment. With a number of restaurants and bars this was the most popular and served all comers. Between the rooms long bar proper was a strip of real hardwood that doubled as a dance floor. Then came a carpeted buffer before tables and the rest of the room.

With the Wanderlust docked and liberty called most of the stools in front were filled with Rymans, veterans all but new to the current Cardoman culture. And they were not shy about past accomplishments. Inevitably words were said and territory staked out. Here there is a line one does not cross. Well, and predictably it did get crossed.

Jimmy Calagan struck the bottle on the edge of the bar twice with no effect. The third time it bounced and grazed his forehead. “Dammit, Plastic!” He was doing this for effect only but it always seemed to work in the videos. After that there was a lot of jostling and a flashing light showing a call to security had been made, and of course noise, always the noise. He didn’t remember much else.

“Want me to break it up Robbie?” Fader Jameson asked with a laugh and a smile.

“Let em go Fader. They earned it and will pay the price when the MP’s arrive. And anyway—if I were younger—no I was never that young— least not to own up to. Can’t see as how much damage gets done in the interim. But let us make sure we have someone quietly inform the young Lieutenant on the Lying Bastard that there will be a shuttle available very early in the morning and that his Marines and Recon are welcome to join ours to accompany CSM Carstairs on a morning exploration of Drag Ass Mountain, in full combat kit of course.”

“Party together, fight together and the like I guess?”

“Read your History Fader, it’s worked for centuries!”

Audie Madry watched with obvious interest. “Good move,” she said to the sound of a breaking chair leg.

Jeffries watched from the corners of his eyes, gaze averted and concentrating on his drink, figuring the least said the better. As the battle went fore and back, the outcome in doubt he thought, “Coulda’ been worse, coulda’ been me.”

Next morning, as the only one in his section left with rank and available for the task, Sgt Jeffries was summoned to his company offices and told to collect the wounded. After he left the ship he was grinning from ear to ear. Making up for last night and much loss of sleep. Presenting his ID and orders he was whisked into the holding tank.

“Where were you when we needed you Jeff? One or two more and we would have kicked their asses from here to Sunday! I saw you go over and sit with the short broad in the high class seats. Tell me she was on her meds, cause you sure as hell didn’t score!”

“Well Jimmy my boy, I could tell you all about it—but then, as they say, I’d have to kill you, and that wouldn’t look so good on your record now would it—Private Calagan? What with all the rest of your troubles anything else would just be piling on now wouldn’t it?” And he escorted them back to the Wanderlust for the certain meeting with Lieutenant de La Torrance, all the while refraining from whistling a happy tune.

A Point of Honor
Draft Complete (01-04-10)