Approx. 1700 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
written by SJ
In the declining heat of the late afternoon, Lana finished her five kilometer jog with energy to spare. She rubbed her stomach, and thought to herself, "even that loose gear seems to be fixed." She smiled shyly thinking about what seemed to be the cure for it.
During the next eighteen days, she finished sniper school and qualified with the flamer, and still had time to practice with the double-swords in martial arts class, and train in the holo-suites with her 9.1s. All that was left, was to walk up the hill and talk to the Major.
Taliaferro gladly handed Lana her the badge and Special Ops, enhanced, optics/scanner, a device that could be used by itself or attached to her Scout Marine helmet. Afterwards, the two Marines sat and chatted for awhile. He had to complement her, that in all the time he had been training Marines for Special Ops, he had never had a student like her. It had been a pleasure, and would continue to be.
Lana smiled and thanked him. As she got up to leave, he wished her luck, then informed her that she was already halfway to Special Ops, Level 2. Keep up the good work.
The hill on which the Special Ops building was located, over-looked a great deal of Camp Cheyenne. Using her new Special Ops enhanced scope, she looked around. She could see Colonel Gallardo's Headquarters almost one kilometer to the north, which included the small wildlife sanctuary and Birdbath Mesa. And to the right was the on-base, civilian, living-quarters where she used to reside, what seemed like, so very long ago. She also spotted a couple friendly bozos, preparing an ambush for her. It looked like they had cleverly located themselves between two narrow hills right next to the road she would normally walk back to the rec room. She grinned, thinking to herself. "They do not know who they are dealing with."
Lana strolled casually along the broad, dirt, pathway leading down from the hill, acting totally nonchalant, the pathway eventually taking her behind another hill. Normally, she would take the paved road east to the on-base civilian living-quarters, then north to the mess hall or barracks. But she had a little ambush of her own planned.
She headed off the road, moving quickly across the dry grass and past the intermittent sage brush. When she was on the crest of the hill, she spotted them, Bull and Gannon, waiting to ambush her...probably to congratulate her on her passing Special Ops.
Moving quickly from bush to bush, as quiet as a desert mouse, she was now only twenty meters away, neither bozo none the wiser. They seemed to be looking at someone, distracted...all the better. As she started to sneak up behind them, it dawned on her as to what she was going to do: Shout, yell, what? She chose to do all at once, her shout coming out more like a scream, louder than she expected.
Gannon jumped–-then turned, eyes wide as he stumbled around. "LuLu!"
Bull crashed forward, toward the road, uprooting the small bush he was hiding behind. He was still thrashing around, apparently entangled, when the person on the road, startled more so than the two big Marines, came running over.
It was Colonel Gallardo, walking his dog. "What the hell's going on here?" He spotted Lana. "Was that you screaming like a banshee, LaFong?"
Now it was Lana's turn to be surprised.
"You guys scared the crap out of me." The Colonel pointing at his dog, a miniature poodle. "Look at poor Phoebe here. You scared the crap out of her also...and, oh, look at this, I stepped in it."
Lana and Gannon, at this point were trying to keep themselves from laughing. Bull had freed himself from the destroyed bush, and was walking up to join the group. The Colonel looked at him. Around the big man's neck, wearing it like a large, long, necklace, was a huge, cutout, cardboard, sergeant-stripes, obviously a present for Lana. Gallardo started to laugh himself, pointing at it.
"Oh, I see, you guys were waiting to ambush her." The Colonel laughed again, then shouted with mock sternness. "You guys should've known better! She's Special Ops now..." He smiled, shook his head, then looked the threesome over. "Three knuckle-heads and...a LaFong. No...that's no good. Three knuckle-heads and a LuLu." He laughed again, then pointed at Bull. "Look at the size of those sergeant stripes."
"A present. She's a sergeant now." Bull took off the necklace and handed it to the Colonel, who then hung it around Lana's neck.
The three men laughed.
The Colonel started to get a little more militarily serious. "Okay...I was going to do this tomorrow. You guys go on over to the rec room. I'll join you there after I drop Phoebe off at HQ." He looked at Lana. "I'll bring you some REAL sergeant stripes. We'll have a little announcement, and everyone can congratulate...Sergeant LaFong on her Special Ops promotion."
It was evening, and there were a about a dozen Marines in the rec room, including Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds. He, as well as the rest of them, after Colonel Gallardo had formally made the announcement, gave Lana a very loud cheer of congratulations.
Lana took off the large, hand-made, sergeant stripes, as the Colonel pinned some real stripes on her collar. The group wanted to shout, "Sergeant LaFong", but somehow, it just didn't seem right. Then Bull said it, loudly, like a rousing charge. "Little Sarge!"
The rest of the group repeated it.
Reynolds was actually glad there was going to be another Scout squad led by a Special Ops sergeant. "Do you know which squad you'll get?" He asked.
Lana thought a second, then shrugged. "I don't know."
The Colonel was on his way out of the rec room. So the mystery would have to wait.
"That was a nice Koufax you made...back on Cornucopia." Reynolds had to comment on Lana's deadly throw with her krak grenade.
The term, Koufax was only really known by people who did play, or had played baseball often. And even then, most of them didn't really know that the term came from an Old Earth pitcher by the name Sandy Koufax, long, long, ago.
Lana eventually got the gist of his comment, but had to ask about the term. Reynolds, apparently a avid scholar of Old Earth baseball, explained it.
The group was just starting to break up, when Melinda Dion arrived. "I missed it? The Colonel was here?" She walked over to the group. "Congratulations, LuLu."
Reynolds asked Melinda if she knew the term, Koufax, then mentioned it in relationship to her throw with the krag grenade. She answered. "Yeah, I sort of saw her make the Koufax." She looked at Lana. "Is that where you learned to throw that good...you played lots of baseball?"
Lana sighed. "No. I didn't learn it playing baseball. Annie and I batted a softball around sometimes. But, I only played baseball, once." She smiled and almost laughed. "I won the game for them."
"Hey...we'll have to get you on the softball team–-" Reynolds mentioned.
"No...I am not playing baseball again."
"But...you, said you won the game." Reynolds was curious.
"Yeah, technically I did, but...." Lana grinned thinking to herself.
However, now the whole group was curious.
"Tell us about it." Reynolds asked, and was quickly followed by more requests from the group.
"To tell you the truth, LuLu...I am interested in hearing about it myself." Melinda smiled.
Lana groaned, holding her head in her hand. "Do I have to?"
"Considered it your initiation." Reynolds grinned.
As the group of Marines settled in for a story, Lana prepared herself, and began:
"I was taking a couple classes in college. There was this guy...a baseball player. He asked me to go out with him, but, of course, instead...he takes me to an informal baseball game in progress...something like that stupid pool game at the Blast Zone...both teams had to have so many girls. When we got there, one of the girls had to leave...and, it was her turn." She looked around at the group with a guess-what-happened-next expression. "Yeah...the guy asks me to play." She sighed. "Well...since Annie and I had played around a little bit, I agreed...just to get it over with. How bad could it be?" After another sigh, Lana continued, this time trying to give an announcer-style, play-by-play, account. "It was the bottom of the ninth inning. Two outs. The bases were loaded. The score was tied. LaFong comes up to bat...switch hitter, batting left against a right handed pitcher. The wind up, the pitch–-a fast ball, blows right past me, I don't even swing. Strike one. The umpire comes over, dusts off the plate, the game continues. This time it's a curve ball, I swing...hell, I was swinging at anything just to look like I was trying. Strike two."
Lana waited...like she was making a dramatic pause. But the group couldn't wait. One of the Marines finally spoke. "Well...what happen?"
After yet another sigh, Lana responded. "I got beaned..."
There was complete silence for almost three seconds, after which there was a roar of laughter.
Lana slumped, rolling her eyes.
Some of the men started rolling on the ground as the laughter continued.
"You guys are terrible!" Melinda cried out...but, then almost started to laugh herself.
Lana knew what was coming next and tried to advert it. "DON'T SAY–-"
"That's using your head, Lana." Someone in the group, said it before she got out all the words.
That started more laughter, just as she figured. But, by now, she was starting to smile also.