Jethro Goes to War (Wandering Engineer Jethro's tale) (3 page)


That's their
problem,” Jethro said shaking his head. “So they are
breeding with as many males as they can? Why? Get their jollies in
while they still can?” he asked.


Something
like that. Or they really were sex starved when they served Leo,”
Hrris said slyly. Jethro snorted.


Hardly,”
The lynx female said, getting up and leaving. They watched her go.


So, you are
going to get yours in? For the species?” Hrris asked. Jethro
shook his head. “Dude! Why not?”


Something
tells me I'm not quite what they had in mind,” Jethro said and
then shrugged. “Are you going with them?” he asked after
a moment of thought.


According to
Hurranna only twenty can go. They chose twelve females and eight
males. The males will compete for the slots.” He looked a
little wary at the idea. He fingered his tool harness.


Combat?”
Jethro asked.


Possibly.”
Hrris tugged at an ear. “But I know my limits. I'm an engineer,
I know that now. I've even got a slot now,” he chuffed proudly.
Before, he and his family had been the ones responsible for
reprogramming the security cameras to ignore them, fixing the life
support and power in their area, and the food replicators to
reproduce protein the clan needed to survive. Finding a way to get
each clan member a minimum of twenty kilos of protein a day had left
him scarred in more ways than one.

Now he had turned
those hard learned skills to good use. He was a food replicator tech
one and might make the next grade soon. Very soon. Onward and upward
as the saying goes. There were a lot of vacancies since the navy was
snapping people up. Hrris shook his head. “Fighting tooth and
claw with a brute like Chung Li is not my thing,” he indicated
the Siberian tiger humanoid in the corner. Jethro looked and then
nodded.


Point. He'd
use you as a scratching post.”


Or tie me
into a pretzel,” Hrris sighed. “You could do it,”
he chuffed, fist thumping the others shoulder. “Mister panther
assassin.”


When or if I
was older. Under the right circumstances sure. But a stand up fight
is suicide.” Jethro shook his head. “Even I know better
than to go toe to toe with an angry sex starved tiger with females on
the line. Especially females in heat. Or who act like it.” He
shook his head.


Spoil sport.”


I wonder if
they realize that.”


Realize
what?” Hrris asked confused.


Combat. It'll
make only the strongest and dumbest go for it. Or just the strongest.
Tigers, ligers, and older lions,” he mused. Sure some of the
smarter ones could win, brains over brawn, but he wasn't sure someone
smart and fight happy would want to be led around by the gonads.


Not many of
those. Leo kicked everyone out who could be a threat.”


Yes, but we,
the clans that is, are reformed. All the cats are here. From all the
prides. We've reformed the clan remember?” He indicated the
others not of their once small corridor gang.

Hrris looked around
and then his ears flicked agreement. Around them were Neo cats of
just about every species. Some were mixed breeds, so mixed you could
hardly tell what genus was in them. A pair of kits nearby for
example. He sniffed. Both had red hair spotted with black and yellow
spots. Ringed freckle spots were on their exposed shoulders and
faces. They turned, twitching noses to him and then to each other. He
looked away.


So, they want
the big males for protection on whatever world they go to,”
Jethro said sitting forward suddenly. “That still doesn't
explain why they are mating with every male that can swing his dick.”


And some who
probably can't,” Hrris said as he rumbled a purring laugh.
“Maybe they just want to ramp up the competition?” Hrris
asked.


Or even their
bets,” a voice behind them said. Jethro's eyes slitted. He
turned to the female voice. The small cheetah was there. She was the
omega female of the group. The omega of his own pride. He wasn't sure
why. The Matriarch had said something about the natural dislike lions
have for cheetahs. There were only a handful left in the clan. They
were a dying breed.


What do you
mean?” Hrris asked. He didn't have trouble with Cheetahra. Not
since she patched his hand up a couple years ago. Nasty electrical
burn.


They got a
human med tech to give them a sample kit. They are getting samples
from each male they mate with. Even those that remain behind.”


Samples?”


Sperm. For
later. They can use in-vitro fertilization methods later on to
impregnate themselves or others if they store the samples right.”


Oh.”
Jethro nodded. “Interesting. So the clan can be reformed?
Reborn on another world?”


Or it is to
make sure they have enough genetic diversity. I think the genealogist
Martel gave them the idea when she came around the other day and
talked about it.”


Or grandam
and her lectures,” Jethro said nodding.


You are not
one of the ones going though,” Hrris said glancing to Jethro
and then back to the female.. “So how...”


How do I
know?” she asked rumbling a chirrupy laugh. “Simple. I
was there when they asked. I had to help them since they didn't know
what they wanted.”


Oh.”


But I'm going
too,” she said and smiled a tight lipped smile. Her ears
flicked. “I've been saving my money to go for some time. A
little here, a little there.” She made catching motions with
her hand paws. Not only was she a medic, as a sprinter she'd run pick
up races or worked as a message runner for the clan. Knowing her
speed she may have even acted as a pick pocket from time to time
without anyone the wiser. “I've got enough now that the price
is down. I've already got a ticket and a reservation,” she
purred. She held up a wrist. Around it was a gold bracelet. It had an
indenti-chip embedded in it. “Right now I'm saving up as much
as I can and learning everything I can. That way I can hit the ground
running.”


Typical for a
cheetah,” Hrris laughed.


Stereotype,”
Cheetahra purred.


Good for
you,” Jethro said nodding.


You could
come too,” she said, eying him.


I've got
other things in mind,” he chuffed, and then shook his head
turning away. “I've got to go, I've got Marine pre-proccessing
and stuff this afternoon then training begins in the morning.”
He got up, waved and left, feeling smug at their wide eyed looks.

...*...*...*...*...


Why are we
going through with this? This training?” gunny Thompskins asked
shaking his head. “We didn't need it after all.”

Schultz hid an sigh.
It figures. The blow hard would pitch a snit the night before the
basic course opened up. And he'd save it for the meeting. Hopefully
he could be put down fast so they could get onto business. They still
had a hell of a lot to get done in less than fourteen hours. Doc and
the corporals were handling pre-processing. So far everything was
going smoothly.


Actually we
do. But unfortunately, someone has to be in charge,” Major
Forth replied with a sigh. “We're trying to rebuild an
institution. Not just the habits and training that will hopefully
keep them alive in combat, but the traditions and infrastructure as
well.”


So it's best
to start at the beginning,” Lieutenant Pendeckle said with a
nod. “We need them to go through this. Hell, so do we. To build
a unifying force.”


But all
this...” The gunny frowned and then tapped his finger on the
desk near the padd in front of him. “Renting a park deck? Is
that necessary? Six months for boot? Seriously? Can't we make do with
sims?”


Sims are just
that; a game. We need good hands on training. It's one thing to play
a VR game. It's quite another to be there in person. Sweating it out,
getting your hands dirty. Getting hurt for real is a bit different
than in a vid. No time outs, no stress cards, no pee breaks,”
Schultz growled. He gave the other gunny a disgusted look. He wasn't
sure why they had made Thomspkins a gunny as well, the guy didn't
have a clue sometimes, and loved to slack off. “And no off
switch. This is actually just the tip of the iceberg,” Gunnery
Sergeant Schultz growled.

The others looked at
him. “This is the bare minimum we think we can train for with
the facilities and staff we have in the allotted time for basic.
We've got other courses afterward for more advanced training,”
he grimaced. “Which we'll have to share with the Navy, and
police forces when the time comes.”


But
camouflage? Who needs that in space?” Thompskins asked with a
sneer.


You clearly
need to brush up on your space assault tactics then,” the major
said with a head shake. “The closer you can get to a target
before you are seen... You know what, another time. This isn't the
time for that discussion,” he said firmly trying to keep on the
agenda.


Besides, we
may not be on a planet now, but that doesn't mean we wont be deployed
on one sometime in the future. It pays to be prepared,” Schultz
added.


Prior
Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance,” the Major said as he
nodded and then looked around the room. He made sure to lock eyes
with each of them. He knew Schultz was on board. The others were on
the fence or were more inclined for an abbreviated course. He sat up
straight and knitted his fingers together. “A set standard is
vital.”


Half of the
training period is going to be just getting them up to an acceptable
standard. And of course weeding out the undesirables,”
Pendeckle added. Schultz suppressed a growl as the Lieutenant looked
his way.


Who here
hasn't realized that this class, and most likely the classes that
follow for the next few years will be the leadership of the corps in
a few years? We need to get them on the right footing from day one
and keep them there. It is going to be hard. We're going to screw up.
Hell,
WE
don't have the
training at all! Just because we wear the uniform doesn't mean we're
at all qualified! For some we're making it up as we go along. We'll
have to deal with that. So will they. We're not asking for perfection
in the first class. But we do need to get them sorted out and get the
ball rolling now. We'll be learning as much if not more than they
will.”


Yes sir,”
Schultz nodded, eying the officers and enlisted at the table. “We've
got six hundred and fifty seven in this class. Six platoons. I'll be
happy if we can graduate half that.”


Ouch,”
Thompskins winced. “Seriously? I'd want a bit more.”


If they can't
hack it, they can't hack it. We'll have to build them up slowly, but
we need to figure out those we want to fast track right away. We've
got three officers and fourteen senior non commissioned officers.
That is way too few chiefs for way too many indians folks. So keep an
eye out for the stars,” Major Forth said.

It was a pain in the
ass for his manning tables. The only ships with officers were Firefly
and Sun-Yat. The officer in charge of training would rotate with
whatever ship was in port. The noncoms were going to have to carry
the ball for the training. Hopefully they were up for it. He changed
mental tracks quickly, trying to think of something, anything that
would work, but unfortunately drawing a blank. Fortunately most of
the other ships had small crews so he didn't need large marine
compliments on the gunships. But he wanted an officer on each as soon
as possible.


Yes sir,”
his subordinates said or mumbled.


We may have
discipline problems sir. I mean, I can only be in so many places at
the same time. We've got two assistant instructors for each platoon,
a dumb AI keeping watch, and each gunny is handling three platoons...
but still,” Thompskins said and waved helplessly. “Stuff
is going to be missed and fall through the cracks.”


Any problems
come up, handle them,” the Major said with finality. “Or
if it is very serious and warrants my attention, I will,” he
grimaced. When he was in port of course. Technically he should detach
himself from Firefly and oversee the training personally. He was
still wrestling with that decision. “We're short handed across
the board. This is going to put holes in our manning tables on the
ships until this class graduates. So handle it.”

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