Approx. 1100 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
written by SJ
Colonel Gallardo and his Space Marines made the 38.4 light year jump from Epsilon Eridani to Zeta Draconis in record time thanks to the loan of General Parker's Federal transport. The wounded Marines were carefully transported to Camp Cheyenne Mercy Hospital were they would continue their recovery. The rest of the Marines were given three days R and R.
Cheyenne was the third planet in the Zeta Draconis star system. Camp Cheyenne was located in, what was called, chaparral territory, a dry, bramble-covered, plains, with a temperature almost a constant 90 degrees most of the year. The area was known for it's many mesas; there were a couple of them located within the confines of the Base, the most famous being Thunderhawk Mesa were on top was located a sizable military airport with Camp Cheyenne Mercy Hospital located right next to it.
When Colonel Gallardo reached his headquarters, Major Ben Taliaferro was there waiting for him. After welcoming him back, he briefly updated him about the current situation in the Proxima Altair system, on Cornucopia, where there were still small groups of people acting strangely. However, the Emperor Corporation's scientists had already reported they should be able to solve the problem in a few months, where at that time, another large group of colonists can move back in.
The Major also rendered his regret at losing Staff Sergeant Franklin, and the other Marines. After the Colonel had taken a day off, they'd meet and talk.
Major Taliaferro joined Colonel Gallardo on the fancy, wooded porch of the Camp Cheyenne HQ building. It was a place the Base commander preferred over his office inside, especially when talking to his long-time friend. Except for the occasional noises of the various birds coming from the Wildlife Sanctuary right next door, it was quiet as they discussed the rebuilding of the Scout squads:
They already had replacements for Scout squads one and three. However, as for second squad, only one man hadn't been injured too badly, and he requested transfer to supply. It was obvious second squad would have to be rebuilt from scratch. The Major mentioned he had someone coming in from the Federal Government, a security agent, and already an experienced sergeant. So, as for Scout squads two and four, their replacements would have to come from the next class of trainees...due to start training in less than a week.
Once the subject of new trainees had been mentioned, the Major placed a folder on the table.
"This is the folder of a new enlistee. She says she's interested in Special Ops." Ben had the look of apprehension clearly written on his face.
Gallardo noticed it immediately. "What's wrong?"
"I got the news about the previous Special Ops officer I trained, the one that went missing after we sent him on that Ork recon mission before your guys got there."
Ben sighed. "When the Catachan went in to recover any wounded or dead, they found him."
"They found some of his clothing...and his DNA in some Ork poop."
The Colonel sighed, but then asked, "it's been verified?"
Taliaferro nodded assuredly.
"Well, at least we have closure." The Colonel picked up the folder and tried to read the name. "Lana Lyu...LaFong?"
"She's been here for about five months. You know...civilian worker on base. She starts class three days before her birthday."
When the Major's apprehension didn't go away, the Colonel understood. "Oh, I see. You're afraid she'll end up Ork poop like the last one. Come on, Ben...I think you're the best Special Ops trainer in the Galaxy. Don't let this incident of Ork poop get you down. The Orks surprised all of us."
"If my Ops guys would've found that out instead of getting eaten...well--"
"That's just the way it is, Ben." He shrugged. "We played our cards...and that's best we can do."
"I know. I just can't help thinking I missed something someplace, either during training or afterwards."
"That's what makes you the best trainer in the Galaxy. You care, you take it personally." When he picked up the folder and started to read it, he noticed Ben start to feel better. But, he had to mention right away. "She's twenty six; kind of young. And she's only five-foot five inches tall? That's a little under the height requirement even for a Scout Marine--"
"She's very grown up for her age." Ben replied sticking up for the new recruit. "She's already up to four kilometers on the track, and can do almost as good as any Marine here on any obstacle course. She has an almost photographic memory. And even though she has never yet touched any of our weapons, she could probably disassemble and assemble any one of them. She spends a lot of time studying Special Ops manuals. If I gave her a test, she could probably pass half the Level 1, written test right now."
"Okay...Ben. I surrender. She's good. She's better than good. You know one of the things we instill in our training here is deception. Sounds like to me she's better than good...she's deceptively good."
The Colonel smiled. When he got a confident smile in return he handed the Major back the folder. "You have my permission to train her."
The two men were silent for awhile. They just sat and drank their coffee staring out at the cool comfort of the verdant Wildlife Sanctuary.
It was Ben who spoke first. "LaFong mentioned Special Ops training at first for the higher pay." He sat back and took another drink of coffee before continuing. "She told me she lost her whole family on Mars when she was only two years old--you know...back when that power plant with those old alien power crystals gave out. The ground under Mars City sank into the ground almost two kilometers...destroying the whole city. She was with her Aunt on the outside of the city when it happened. Afterwards, they moved to Pavonus where she was raised by her Aunt."
"You mean...Delta Pavonus?" Gallardo wondered.
"Yeah. She wants to make enough money to get her Aunt to move here."
"Well, I can understand that. Didn't the Cartel declared Pavonus a failed colony over ten years ago?"
"And I can understand why you're apprehensive." The Colonel showed his understanding. "You got to know her a little bit already. It's natural. But...I doubt she's gonna end up Ork poop." He smiled, then joked. "Come on, Ben...she not big enough even for a light snack for any Ork."