Jethro Goes to War (Wandering Engineer Jethro's tale) (8 page)

You're here
too, remember?” the Liger chuckled. He stretched once more and
then licked his shoulder fur. “To tell you the truth, I'm not
all too keen about book studies or trying out for Destiny. Which
pretty much left this as a final option.” His pale blue eyes
studied the others for a moment and then he went back to the serious
job of self grooming. After a moment he looked up to them and
shrugged. “What?”

And of course
it lets you shoot people and break things,” Jethro said purring
a chuckle. He fist bumped the big Liger's.

You know it.
When are they going to let us use explosives I wonder?” the big
lug asked innocently.

Never if they
hear you’re in the group,” Hurranna said shaking her
head. She quickly made her bed and then got dressed. “I'm for
the mess hall. Hell if I'm going to take that course again without
some fuel.”

Me too,”
Sergei said rumbling a chuckle. His hand paw rested on Jethro's
shoulder. You coming mate?” His blue eyes looked into Jethro's.

In a bit.
I've got to finish,” Jethro's now expert hands tucked the
hospital corners in then ran a hand paw over the entire surface to
make sure not a thread was out of place. He went to the bathroom
really quick, did a quick wipe down in there since it was his turn
then came out and checked his PT uniform carefully.

So how did
you get in here?” he asked, buffing a scuff off of his boot.
He'd prefer sneakers, or sandals but the gunny had a thing for boots.
It must be a dog thing.

Huh? Oh,
folded in from the other half of F platoon. I got dinged up a few
times in training so I had to sit out things in sickbay and need to
get my groove back.”

Jethro said shaking his head. “Hell if I'll carry your sorry
ass,” he smiled.

You and what
army bub?” Sergei growled playfully, giving him a shove.

Jethro took a
thoughtful moment and flicked his ears. “Yeah it would take an
army for a lard ass like you,” he smirked at the giant cat.
Sergei growled and then shook himself.

Okay, I
walked into that one,” he snorted. “But just you wait...”

I'll be
shaking in my boots,” Jethro said smiling again.

move people!” Valenko called from the troop bay's hatch. “Day's
a wasting!”

Damn bears.
Yogi where's boo-boo?” Sergei growled playfully. “Raided
any good picnics lately?”

Shut it
pussy,” Valenko laughed.

Isn't it past
your hibernation time?” Jethro snickered. Valenko sighed
shaking his head.

Who ever
thought of putting you two in the same bay let alone the same platoon
needs their head examined. Come on you jokers. Just for kicks you two
get to eat last. A platoon is on mess duty this rotation.”

Jethro groaned at
that. “Ah hell,” Sergei muttered. He glared at Jethro.

You started
it remember?” Jethro said shaking his head. “You pay for
your pleasures.”

Move it
people!” They turned and dropped into a dog trot to the galley.


So, what are
you doing here Sergei? Seriously. The whole F story thing is wacked,
I know you weren't with them, we've trained with them. Gamma or
Delta?” Jethro asked, looking over to the Liger. Gamma and
Delta platoons were the only other platoons that had aliens and

I was in


So some dip
shit fell asleep on watch.”

Jethro wrinkled his nose, ears flat. “I take it that it wasn't
you though?”

Sergei gave him a
long look. “Do I look stupid to you?” he demanded.
Hurranna grinned. “You stay out of this,” he growled as
she opened her mouth.

Some dip shit
nodded off. DI's tossed a flash bang in to wake him up.”

kaayyy,” Hurranna looked confused and a little put out.

Flash bang.
It's a stun grenade. Big boom, bright frickin light. Real bright.
Brighter than the sun. Which really sucks if you’re looking
right at it when it goes off.”

Hurranna winced in sympathy.

Wasn't me.
But it blinded a few people. The clatter of the thing and it rolling
down the bay got a lot of attention right away. You know how we cats
are, see something moving and you instinctively lock on.”


I caught a
piece of it,” Sergei grimaced. He shook his head. His fur was
starting to grow back nicely. He had a traditional marine buzz cut
though, thin on the sides, normal on top.

Bay went
nuts?” Jethro asked.

Sergei sighed. “It got worse when the sprinklers came on
spraying foam and water,” he growled. Hurranna giggled eyes
wide. “Then the lights went out, even the emergency lights.”


this wasn't the first time the dumb ass had decided to sleep on duty.
The DI's decided to teach him and us a lesson. So some of us decided
to have a... the DI called it a blanket party for the jack ass who
had let it happen.”

And they
broke the platoon up?”

We were
pretty light on numbers anyway. Less than fifty. That last run
through the obstacle course knocked about ten to sickbay. Our watch
guy joined him,” his lips writhed in a snarl. “They split
us up to fill in Delta and F, to bring both up to strength.”

So we get
you. Gee, doesn't seem fair,” Hurranna laughed.

Oh shut up,”
he shook his head as they padded to the next stop. “What gets
me is this is all backwards than I remember in the movies.”

because that is Hollywood,” Jethro said. He looked around. They
had paused to let a cargo truck past.

Yeah but I
remember seeing a documentary on the U.S. Marines, which is what we,
the Federation Marines are based on,” Hurranna said nodding.

And that
means?” the Gahsg asked.

So the first
couple of weeks are supposed to be all about learning to drill and
follow orders. I dunno why they make it so confusing though. I need
sleep. Making us drill and only letting us sleep a couple hours
sucks,” she sighed.

Which is what
they are doing. They want us to learn to work with little sleep. To
be able to function and know that we can even when we are exhausted.
To follow orders even when you don't want to. It's to break old
civilian bad habits before instilling military discipline.”

Yeah but
we're not getting any of the book learning,” Hurranna growled.
“Just the physical crap. The PT as they call it.”

Jethro snorted. “They're probably afraid we'd fall asleep in

So why...”

confusing to re-socialize us. To make us dependent on the DI's for
information so we will conform to new military social patterns. Hence
the bald heads,” Jethro said as he rubbed his stubble. They had
just had a mandatory weekly trim the day before. It sucked. Then
again they got to stand in line relaxing and not doing anything for
that time period.

And the
chickenshit we go through with the inspections. We need to break old
habits and make new ones. Ones that will stick with us when the shit
hits the fan. The Hats do it to make us keep a zero excuse zero
tolerance mentality.”

You mentioned
it before,” Hurranna said shaking her head. “What makes
you the expert? Tobias?”

Tobias had been a marine ancestor who'd left a brief journal he had
found in the clan's archive. He'd practically memorized the files he
could access while growing up.

So when do we
get our implants?” Valenko asked. They looked over to the bear.
“They are dragging this out a lot longer than I thought they

We're not
exactly prime material. They've got to get us up to speed first. And
drop the dead weight. Why put implants in someone who can't go the


sometime after phase one. The PT crap as Hurranna our resident shrimp
here calls it,” Jethro cocked his head down to the small
female. She stuck out her tongue at him.

Once they are
sure we're going to hang, that we're not going to quit they will
invest in the implants. Each implant package is probably costing
around a million creds a pop, so I can't blame them for waiting.
That's when we'll get the classroom training. Or implant downloads as
it is. Until then we'll have to work with what we've got, learning
muscle memory techniques and mnemonics.”

What's phase
two?” a new recruit he didn't recognize asked. Most likely
someone folded in from Gamma platoon.

training normally. Field skills, marksmanship, and more team building
exercises. Probably about six to nine weeks or so, not counting our
time off to recover from the implant surgery,” Jethro said.

Several groaned at
that. Brenet looked around the group but didn't say anything. It was
interesting hearing the recruit accurately describe the syllabus.

And phase
three?” Valenko asked as the others settled back down.

land navigation, camouflage, suit training, field exercises, and some
other stuff I'm not remembering right off,” Jethro answered.
“Probably ship stuff. Boarding actions, ship duties, protocol,
and the works.”

That's it?”

Oh hell no.
After that is the crucible. That's hell week. Remember the obstacle
course? You think it's hell now you are in for a shock. We'll have to
run it or something like it doing team exercises the entire time.
SAR, traps, snipers, ship action, the works. Full combat sim or as
close as they can get to it. All on practically zero sleep and food.
Sixty hours of nonstop fun and games,” Jethro said with a feral
smile. Most of the platoon groaned at that.

You really do
know how to put a wet blanket on things,” Valenko said shaking
his head as the groans died down.

Oh it gets
better. After that we move on to basic graduation and then specialty
training,” Jethro grimaced. “Which is even more of a
bitch. But once you know you can get through basic you know you can
get through anything.” Some of the crew looked at him in
disbelief but Valenko, Sergei, and a few others nodded at that.

That's enough
people,” Brenet growled. “Move out,” he ordered. He
waved his arm stiffly. The group fell out into a march.


We're down to
three platoons. I heard we've got about three hundred and thirty
three, or so I heard. Not counting the ones in sickbay,” Sergei
said, watching the DI's chew a recruit out. The recruit dropped and
started doing pushups.

I wonder why
we're all lobbed together like this. Seems kind of racial,”
Hurranna said. A Veraxin buzzed at her. A chimp nearby huffed.

It's the

Instinctively they
went to parade rest as gunny Schultz came out from the shadows by the
equipment bay. He looked them over. “You're wondering why the
humans are off to themselves? That's why,” there were three
short platoons of humans left, Alpha, Beta, and Delta. Then there was
their one lonely oversized F platoon now that all of Delta and
Gamma's Neo's had been transferred to them.

Sir yes sir,”
Jethro said.

Figured it
out already did you?”

Sir. Some of
it Sir.”

I heard about
your lecture. You think you’re salty?”

Sir. Not yet
sir,” Jethro tried not to flinch as the brim touched his nose.
He went cross eyed looking at the gold thread and insignia serving as
a hat band.

Good answer,”
the DI growled locking eyes with him. That one eye and eye patch
seemed to burn into his for a moment then the gunny turned, moving
off. “You lot are together because the humans can't hack it
with you in the mix. You were bred for war. They
he shook his head, pacing back and forth.

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