Approx. 3500 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
written by SJ
Finally, their 120 day training period was over; they were no longer trainees, but full fledged Cheyenne Ranger Scout Marines. That night, Lana followed Melinda to the mess hall rec room to meet up with Gannon and Bull, who were there waiting to congratulate them. Lana was proud to wear her one stripe, and more so, the two raven feathers. Normally, trainees came out of training as a SM1 private; however, Lana was a SM2 private, because of her Special Ops studies.
Lana winced as Gannon gave a loud howl when she entered the rec room. Bull was eating a large sub-sandwich; with his mouth full, he mumbled something incoherently to Lana, which she took to be, congratulations.
“So...LuLu, do you know what squad you’ll be with?” Gannon asked. “Mel’s squad?”
Melinda answered for her. “Yeah...it’s official. She’s with me.” She nudged Lana. “And we got Ramcke. I don’t know who else we’re going to get.”
There was a tall slender man at the rec room’s pool table. Still holding his pool cue, he came over. On his right shoulder he had the rank of gunnery sergeant, Scout Marine; on his left shoulder he had the standard insignia, only behind the crossed-rifles, was a vertical sword, pointing up, which stood for Special Ops, Level 1. He congratulated the two women, then introduced himself as Jacob Reynolds of first squad. Looking at Lana, he asked, “I hear you’re going into Special Ops.” Jacob asked just before verifying her nickname. “LuLu...is it?”
She smiled. “Yeah. I still have to get a marksmanship badge with the flamer and plasma gun...and go to sniper school, plus--”
“She’s not going to have trouble with any of those.” Melinda cut in. “She came only two points short of getting her plasma gun marksmanship badge, and...well, I don’t think she likes the flamer...not that I can blame her.”
The Gunnery Sergeant agreed with a chuckle. “Yeah...flamers are not very...lady-like weapons, are they?”
The two women had to agree.
“LuLu...have you ever played pool?” Jacob asked, tapping on the table with his pool cue.
“I think she hates that game...right?” Gannon commented, remembering something she had said from an earlier conversation.
Lana had to explain. “Well...it’s just that, when I was younger, on Pavonus...there was nothing else to do. I played it until I was sick of it.”
“So you played it a lot, huh?” Jacob was always looking for good opponents. “I guess you lost your touch.”
“I don’t know.” Lana looked at the pool table and wondered that herself.
“Give it shot, LuLu.” Gannon urged, then grinned. “I would like someone to beat this turkey.”
Lana sighed deeply, then agreed. “Oh...okay. But if I start to get sick...” She pointed at Gannon and joked seriously. “I’m throwing up on YOUR boots.”
Once she had picked out a pool cue, Jacob allowed Lana to break, which put the eleven ball in the side pocket. The woman then proceeded to make three more consecutive shots as Gannon became enthralled, chanting, “go, LuLu, go...”
Jacob had to mention. “Well...I don’t think you’ve lost your touch.”
The cue ball was not in a very good position for Lana to make her fourth shot...and she was starting to feel extremely bored, even a little queasy, so she tapped the cue ball in a bad position for her opponent.
The gunnery sergeant shook his head and smiled. “Good, place shot, LuLu.”
Just at that time another Marine came in...stepped up to the table and called. “Who’s got next game. I’m in...if there’s no one.”
Lana handed the Marine her pool cue. “Here...you can take my place.”
Both Jacob and Gannon looked a little disappointed. Lana tried to explain. “I can’t play anymore. It...it’s just that, this game brings up bad memories. Okay?”
Jacob understood, then proceeded to continue the game with the new opponent.
Bull had finished off his sandwich; he walked over to Gannon and they both faced Lana. Gannon spoke with loud excitement. “Tomorrow night, LuLu...we are taking you to...”
Both of the men finished the statement. “The Blast Zone!”
Lana smiled...but didn’t understand.
Melinda explained. “It’s a club...downtown Revell. It caters mostly to military personnel. Planetary Guard, Corporate Guard, and, of course, Space Marines.”
“Go ahead and go.” Melinda urged. “I’m going to visit my parents tomorrow. Wear that outfit we picked out last time we were on leave.”
Lana smiled shyly.
“Oh...come on, LuLu. Don’t tell me after buying it you’re going to be too shy to wear it.”
She sighed. “I’ll think about it.”
“Hey...Little Sister can wear whatever she wants.” Bull interceded.
“Yeah...just come.” Gannon implored.
During the day, Lana used Melinda’s computer to email her Aunt; she explained that for some reason the Base was on alert, and that she would get back to her in about five days as for her visitation.
That evening she met Bull and Gannon in front of the mess hall when they came to pick her up using one of the range vehicles. The two men howled to her as they drove up; Gannon shouted, “you look great, LuLu. Is that the outfit Melinda helped you to buy?”
She nodded, yes.
Actually, Lana’s new outfit was nothing really fancy or revealing; but after wearing almost nothing but military clothes for five months, to her, it was almost TOO fancy and revealing. “You’re going to get laid tonight in that outfit, Little Sister.” Bull spoke out in jest as the vehicle took off.
Lana sighed...then had to joke back. “Laid...laid...laid. What do think I am...a carpet?”
As they drove up to the night club, Lana was a little nervous. She had never been to a place like this before. But as the threesome entered the club, she seemed to find a new confidence in herself. All the times before, she had been just Lana; now she was Private Lana Lyu LaFong, Cheyenne Ranger. And after all, if Bull and Gannon had confidence in her, why shouldn’t she. It was almost like having two big brothers...two VERY BIG brothers.
She followed closely behind the two guys. They seemed to be looking for someone, or some people they knew. But Lana spotted someone she liked elsewhere.
The man was about medium to tall height, very well dressed, and by Lana standards, quite good-looking. He was standing next to a pool table, but didn’t seem to be playing. However he was talking to another man and woman standing on the other side of the pool table who were holding pool cues. Normally, Lana would just pass by, maybe stare a little out of the corner of her eye, which was what she would’ve done until she overheard their conversation.
“...no, no, you need to have a woman playing on your side.” She heard the man holding the pool cue reiterate.
Lana stopped in her tracks, but didn’t turn around. She now had a line to say, but couldn’t turn around to say it.
“Oh...come on. There are no women that want to play right now.” The well-dressed man retorted. “We can play until one comes along.”
“I’ll play.” The words seemingly came out of Lana’s mouth automatically as she turned to face the man. She was surprised with herself; she had expected to choke, but the words came out clearly. Even her smile felt normal, not shy like usual. Maybe it was her training as a Marine, she didn’t know...didn’t care.
Bull and Gannon had continued on. As they walked up to their usual table, now occupied by two women they knew, Gannon almost introduced the non-existent Lana. He turned, held out his hand, but then spoke, “where’s LuLu?”
“That dark-haired woman that followed you in?” A blond women seated at the table queried with a smile. “She’s over there...playing pool with that guy.”
“Playing pool?” Gannon’s surprised voice was loud. He lowered his voice, then spoke again as he sat down. “She hates that game. What’s she doing?”
The blond woman smiled, knowingly. “It looks like she’s--making her move.”
Bull was still standing, looking across the night club at Lana. “Her move?”
“On that guy. The well-dressed one playing pool standing next to her.” The blond woman clarified.
“Hey...good going LuLu.” Gannon thought out loud, happy for her, wishing her luck.
Finally Bull caught on, smiled, then spoke as he sat down. “Aw...isn’t she the sweetest thing.”
“Is that your friend?” The second woman at the table asked.
“Yeah...she’s a little shy.” That was Gannon.
“Not anymore...it seems.” The blond woman commented.
But the other woman at the table had concern. “You see that woman standing next to the other guy. Not the guy your friend is with...the other one, taking his shot. That’s Sharya...the lingerie model. I hope your friend knows what she’s doing, because, well, she’s up against some mighty tough competition.”
The two men looked....
“Okay...that’s enough looking.” The blond woman demanded.
“Maybe we should go rescue the little tyke?” Bull was wondering about how involved they should be.
“No...let her be.” The blond woman smiled. “If one of you two big dunderheads walk up...you’ll cramp her style. And it looks like she’s doing pretty well.”
Sharya had been given the first shot, but was allowed to shoot again because she missed. Her game companion then made two successful shots, barely missing the third. It was Lana’s turn.
Even though she had made her move, walking up and introducing herself to a guy she liked, clever conversation was still difficult. She was hoping her pool playing would help as she made three successful shots, one a tricky shot that clipped the nine-ball which then put the two-ball in the side pocket. Her next shot was simply to put the cue ball in a good place for her partner.
“You’re pretty good.” Her pool companion complemented. He paused...
“Oh...my name is Lana Lyu LaFong.” She introduced herself. “Just call me, LuLu.”
“My name is Chadwick...call me, Chad.” He smiled, looking into her Asian-like eyes. “Thanks for setting me up.”
Lana was confused...then thought to herself, “oh...the game.” Out loud: “Sure...anytime.” She smiled in return, trying to hold back that shy smile of hers.
“I saw you come in with those two big Marines. Do you know those guys?” He asked, part curious, part just making conversation.
She nodded. “Yeah...we’re Cheyenne Rangers. From just north of here.”
“You’re a Marine also?” Chad honestly looked surprised. He smiled. “You don’t look like a Marine. I mean...no offense.”
Now Lana was really smiling, she didn’t care if it was shy. “No...none taken. That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me in the last year.”
Chad made the shot Lana set up for him, made another one, then missed.
Sharya became flustered. She flirted and flaunted, as if demanding to be the center of attention. She quickly got the attention of both men as she did her turn, but managed to only clip the cue ball, knocking it only several centimeters to one side. The men allowed her to shoot again...and it was okay with Lana. The lingerie model still missed, pouting as she leaned over the pool table, displaying ample cleavage from her obviously well-shaped bosoms. Her partner took his shot, but missed.
Had Lana been used to these night club scenes, she might have been annoyed. But simple naivety made her look cool. And if Sharya was flustered before, she became more so as Lana performed another great shot, by popping the cue ball over the eight ball to put the four ball in the corner pocket. However, as she began her next shot, she was aware of someone standing next to her. When she shot, she felt hair brush against the back of her neck and she missed; the hair belonged to Sharya, who giggled as she return to her side of the table. The men tried to act like they were laughing with her, however, Lana was not there to play pool...she didn’t mind, and her miss put the cue ball in a good position for her partner. Lana just smiled like it didn’t annoy her one bit, which, for the most part, it didn’t.
Chad easily made his shot, but then pondered his second. Lana knew what he should do, but didn’t say anything until he asked.
It gave her a chance to get closer to the man. However she was brief, giving him a choice of making a long shot, or hitting the ball in a corner to make a bad shot for their opponent; he chose the later.
The model basically had no good shot at all...not that it mattered. Lana remained standing close to her partner, patiently waiting. Eventually, Sharya’s partner suggested she shoot the ball just a little to the left, setting himself up, but the model didn’t like it. She wanted to make a good shot...all by herself. After aiming with the cue stick awhile, she stood back, then turned the stick around, asking, just as pretty as she pleased, if she could use the large end of the stick, which the men, of course, allowed. It still took awhile for Sharya to aim. Eventually, with what looked like all her might, she struck the ball, which flew off the table hitting Chad square in the forehead...
Bull and Gannon had taken their attention off Lana, and where busily talking up a storm with the two women. Bull had taken a drink, but almost spat it out when the two men heard Lana explode, cursing at the top of her lungs silencing most of the night club. “You bitch--you could’ve hurt him with that...”
The two men looked at each other. Bull swallowed, then spoke loudly, “that sounds like little miss sweetness herself...” The two Marines scrambled up and ran over to the pool table.
“LaFong, LaFong, LaFong...” Colonel Gallardo paced back and forth inside the office of Camp Cheyenne’s headquarters building looking at the two men and one woman. Lana was standing between Bull and Gannon, her short stature making the threesome look oddly comical together as they hung their heads low.
After sighing deeply, the Colonel finally spoke, “LaFong, I would’ve expected something like this from these two knuckle-heads. But you?” He paused. “That woman...Sharya, I think her name is, said you broke her arm!”
Lana gave the Colonel an incredulous look.
“Oh...she did not!” Bull intervened. “Little Sister was just defending herself--”
“And you–-Hodge!” The Colonel quickly stepped in front of Bull, shouting. “They said you knocked one guy across the room!”
“He did NOT!” Lana countered, defending the big man. “He did no such thing, sir.” She explained emphatically, “the other guy playing pool saw him coming, stumbled back...and tripped over his own pool cue.”
The Colonel sighed, but found Lana’s explanation believable. He then quickly stepped in front of the other man. “Shannon...what did you do? Did you break that pitcher of beer?”
Gannon just stood innocently, a surprised look on his face.
“He didn’t do anything either, sir.” Lana interceded again.
“I just stood and looked.” The big man explained.
“That must’ve been a mighty big look, Shannon.”
“I don’t think he knows how to look any other way...sir.” Lana restrained from smiling. She composed herself then explained. “I think I broke the pitcher of beer. Well...not me explicitly; when I broke...I mean, blocked, wonder-boob’s arm, I must’ve knocked the pool ball out of her hand...and, I guess it flew out and hit the pitcher.”
Bull was going to say something, but the Colonel held up a finger and silenced him. He sighed, then spoke. “Okay...you two knuckle-heads, get out of here. There are no charges filed against you. Regardless what wonder-bo, I mean, Sharya, said, most of the witnesses corroborate LaFong’s version of the story.”
After the two men left, Gallardo sat down on top his desk, still facing Lana. “Well, LaFong...here’s the story–-“
”I take full responsibility–-“ The woman started to say.
“Oh...don’t be so melodramatic.” The Colonel cut in. “I know you didn’t do anything, well...really wrong. Sharya said she was just playfully waving the pool ball in your face, you said she was trying to hit you with it...” Gallardo sighed then became more serious. “The thing is LaFong, as a Marine you’re trained to hurt people. Yes...I know you were just blocking Sharya’s arm--but, you have to be more careful with civilians...even with a block. Next time, just use more discretion. As for the pitcher of beer, I’ve already paid for that out of petty cash. Neither I nor the club are filing any charges against you--no matter what Sharya wants. After all...that guy you were with ends up leaving the club with Sharya. That’s gotta hurt...” After looking at Lana’s expression, he continued. “Oh, you didn’t know...”
Lana’s posture slumped even lower. Finally she snapped a irritated response. “I might as well just carry a cue ball around with me...I see I guy I like, wham, hit him in the head with it.”
The Colonel laughed. “Oh...LaFong, I like that. That’s good.” After he was done laughing, he continued. “Here’s the final story. Sharya knows some important people, and she wants me to administer some sort of punishment for you. You know that area next to the Tourist Center...yeah, you know it, you must’ve clean it up a hundred times when you worked here as a civilian. Well, in a couple days, Sharya and probably a couple of her friends are going to drive by. When that day comes, I’ll send for you, and you can go there and make it look like you’re cleaning up...you know, like you are on a punishment detail. They’ll probably point and laugh...however, when they’re gone...go back to whatever you were doing before.”
The Colonel got up and started to escort Lana to the door. “Hey...what’s with these two knuckle-heads? Do you know I am just about to give Hodge his sergeant stripes back? That means...wow, they’re both gonna be sergeants for the first time in...almost a year. What did you do? What did you say to make them straighten up?”
She shrugged. “I just told them...they were smart.”
“Oh...smart.” Gallardo laughed. “So that was it all along. Why didn’t I think of that.” As Lana was leaving, he mentioned, jokingly. “Oh, and feel free to borrow one of the cue balls from the rec room anytime...we’ve got extra.”
She rolled her eyes and sighed...
Outside the headquarters building, Bull and Gannon were waiting. Gannon quickly asked. “What’s the poop?”
“Oh...I’m not being charged or fined or anything.” Lana answered.
“Yeah...I didn’t think so. The Colonel’s good about finding out the truth in these kind of things.” Bull commented happily.
“Next time we go to The Blast Zone–-“ Gannon started to say.
“I’m NOT EVER going back there!” Lana shouted stubbornly.
”Oh...LuLu. Don’t be like that.” Gannon pleaded.
“Yeah...Little Sister, you just had some bad luck...that’s all.”
“I made a fool of myself.” Lana said miserably.
“No, LuLu. It’s just, well, you didn’t know...” Gannon tried to explain.
“Didn’t know what? That I was making a fool of myself. That...that woman was some sort of super model, and that...mister fancy pants was her date?”
“Oh, LuLu...I don’t know what to say.” Gannon was genuinely sorry.
Eventually Lana had to compromise. After a long sigh, she said. “Well...maybe I’ll go back again sometime, but not for awhile, okay?”
The two men agreed.