Their ground transport thundered along the rough terrain, bumping its occupants freely, despite their secured harnesses. It had been a long and uneventful mission thus far, and they were all starting to show signs of fatigue.
The unit commander knew that sometimes the key to maintaining high spirited team morale was humour at the expense of others… particularly civvies.
“Attention passengers. The 8:14 express train heading West to Union is experiencing ‘equipment issues’ and will be delayed indefinitely. We will keep you informed of its status as we learn more. Thank you for riding with Interbus.”
He grumbled to himself, standing on the platform, as did many of the other waiting commuters. Some of them went to another track, to take the local “all stops” train, which sadly stopped short of his destination.
What the hell, he thought to himself. I might still make the connecting train since the express train won’t be showing up anytime soon.
52 minutes later, with 3 minutes to spare, the local “all stops” arrived in Union station. The conductor thanked everyone for using InterBus, and wished them a pleasant day, apologizing for any inconvenience their delay might have caused. What he didn’t mention was the platform number for those passengers wishing to continue West, and by the time Gunnery Sergeant Lance Degan ran downstairs to the nearest digital schedule board, the connecting train had left.
He didn’t get angry, as many would do. Instead, he thought of how funny civilian life could be, watching other delayed passengers venting their frustration on some minimum wage customer service representative.
His mind drifted, as he smiled, creating ironic parallels to his military life.
“What do you mean ‘equipment issues’?”, the unit commander screamed through the secured comm line. “You had one job, pilot, and that was to make sure you and your effin’ ship were here at 8:14 exactly for this operation. There are lives on the line, and we have a small window of opportunity to execute this run. Late is not acceptable. Do I make myself clear?”
The pilot on the other end responded cooly. “I’m sorry, sir, but it is what it is. I can have another ship there within the hour. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
Could you imagine? the gunnery sergeant thought to himself. His unit commander would blow a gasket.
Civilians. They thought themselves so important. So they were fifteen minutes late for work. It was almost as if their ultimately meaningless jobs were somehow of universal importance. “You don’t understand! If I don’t get that report written fifteen minutes earlier, all of Minmatar space will implode!”
Civvies… can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill ‘em.
She waited in the doctor’s office for four bloody hours before he finally was available to see her. Four hours! What the hell was the point of even making an appointment if he was going to be late by four hours? Could she bill him for that lost time? Of course not. It was ridiculous really.
Lance Corporal Sheila Gates had plenty of time in the waiting room to spin many stories about the doctor in her mind.
“Requesting immediate assistance! Ground Sector C has sustained serious damage. Send all evac teams stat!” the Dispatch Officer relayed through her team’s helmets. Lance Corporal Sheila Gates gave the orders, and her team mobilized on foot. The debris from the bombings was too perilous for even their ATVs to negotiate.
They ran from street to street, covering each other, helping injured civilians along the way. The dead they left where they were found, there was no time for field cremations today.
“Help… help me.” she heard faintly, and immediately turned her attention to the wounded man she could see partially obscured beneath nearby building rubble.
With a hand gesture, her team mate covered her back, and she raced forward, coming face to face with her own personal physician.
“I.. I can’t move.” he said, clearly in shock. ” Help me. I’m in so much pain.” he croaked.
“This is Lance Corporal Sheila Gates, requiring immediate medivac on my location. Flare is up, lock into my position. I repeat, this is high priority alpha clearance.”
She let her helmet sound system play externally, hoping that the sound of help coming shortly would reassure the doctor laying wounded in front of her. Sometimes, that’s all that was needed, a comforting word.
“Negative Lance Corporal. We’re backed up here. Best we can do is … say 4 hours?”
Teran Race looked in his rearview mirror again at the man leaning on his vehicle’s horn, swearing silently behind his windshield, his hands flailing wildly at being delayed.
Teran looked forward again, at the line of cars completely stopped in front of him, wondering where exactly this road raging moron expected him to go?
The sound of the horn was causing his ears to ring.
He sighed. There were far too many things civvies felt falsely empowered about.
The convoy of military vehicles had come to a stop unexpectedly. They were travelling in the dead of night through open enemy territory, trying to minimize their presence.
Lieutenant Commander Teran Race was the driver of the rearmost vehicle. “C’mon already!” he muttered to himself, being the sole occupant of the vehicle. “What? Is there a red light out here? Get moving!”
He leaned on the horn, blissfully ignorant to its piercing and echoing throughout the night time landscape. Again and again he pushed the horn, knowing that if he used his horn enough, the vehicles would magically be on their way again. Such was the power of the horn.
He saw the C.O. of the mission, along with two MPs running towards him, and was thankful. At least now he’d find out what idiot was delaying things. Don’t people know how important it is that they keep moving that extra thirty seconds?
One MP yanked open his door, as the C.O. and the remaining MP yanked him from his vehicle, quickly pinning him to the ground, pulling his arms behind his back, and securing him in cuffs.
“What the bloody effin’ hell?” Taren screamed, only to be quickly muffled by a makeshift gag.
The C.O.’s gaze was venmous, but before he could speak, there was a high pitched whine.
“Cover!” the C.O. yelled before the night sky turned white around them all, the enemy having pinpointed their location with ease.
Yeah, civvies were idiots. Taren thought to himself, looking in his rearview mirror. Guy would probably shit himself if I got out of my car.
Teran wasn’t in a hurry. Maybe he would just not move his car even when he could, or maybe he would back up first, making sure the vehicle behind him couldn’t even get around. He wasn’t sure. Whatever he chose, he was confident it would brighten his day with a smile.
“But I’ve been waiting seven minutes for my order!” the small man shouted at the nightshift manager of the fast food restaurant. “I have better things to do than wait seven minutes for my meal!” he raged.
And yet you can waste more time berating these underpaid workers that couldn’t give a rat’s ass about your life, and will probably spit in your meal now, you dumb shit? Evella thought to herself.
Not only was this buffoon making a spectacle of himself, but it was causing the other workers to be distracted thereby delaying everyone’s orders. Nicely done. Feel special now? You’re the center of attention. All for $3.99.
She took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly. Civilians; they really just don’t get it at all.
“I want my rations now!” the recruit screamed, bordering on a full-fledged tantrum. “I don’t care if lunch isn’t for seven more minutes, I’m hungry now!”
Matar Colonel Roc Wieler stormed across the hangar bay floor plating, his long stride bringing him to bear on the young pilot quickly.
“Pilot, what is the problem here?” the Colonel growled.
“Lunch isn’t for seven minutes, but I don’t want to wait that long. I want to eat now.” the pilot said defiantly.
Colonel Wieler stood fully erect, his shoulders pulling back, making his already broad and muscular shoulders even more menacing. The other pilots, who had moments before been standing around the new recruit, had quickly and instinctively backed away.
“Really?” the Colonel said, with obvious sarcasm lost on the young recruit.
“Yes.. yessir!” the pilot said, hope in his voice.
The silence stretched on. Not a soul breathed, blinked or dared to move.
Finally, the Colonel kneeled down and began untying his boot lace.
The young recruit began to speak, but the Colonel silenced him by simply extending his index finger, and when the new recruit was silent, continued untying his boot laces, slowly and methodically.
The new recruit squirmed awkwardly, looking around for support and finding none. He didn’t quite know what to do with himself.
The Colonel took off his untied boot, neatly placing the laces inside.
“Blade Commander Evella!” Roc Wieler snapped, and the recruit jumped reflexively.
“Sir! Yessir!” Evella replied, coming to stand at attention in front of the Colonel.
“Please hold this.” he said, handing her his well-worn but well-shined boot.
“Sir!” she yelled, holding his boot as if it were the most precious object in the universe, and slowly backing away.
The Colonel began flexing his toes underneath his sock, while talking to the noob pilot.
“I want to explain how things work around here, son.” he began. “In our world, I say, you do. That’s how it is. When I say jump, you jump with every ounce of strength you have. When I say run, you run as if the entire Imperial Crusade is chasing you. When I say eat, you eat as if it’s your first and last meal. Do you understand me?”
The young pilot eagerly nodded his head, excited at the prospect of food, momentarily forgetting that the good Colonel was standing in front of him with only one boot.
“I’m glad.” Colonel Wieler continued. “Now you’re probably wondering why I took my boot off. It’s actually to help you learn a very important lesson about patience.”
The young recruit was clearly puzzled.
“You see,” Roc continued. “I once lost my favourite boot. Long story and not important now. But, I learned a lesson from it. We all have lessons we need to learn sometimes. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Again, the pilot nodded vigorously.
“Lunch is in, oh, four minutes now,” he said, looking at his NeoCom. “But you’ll be eating before then, in a matter of speaking.”
The young pilot started to smile, as did the rest of us.
“This foot,” Roc said, pointing downwards, “is going up your ass. Right here, right now. Maybe even ankle deep, depending on just how hungry you are. And if you feel like sitting when I’m done, you’re more than welcome to join us for lunch.”
The new recruit went pale. The rest of us tried to maintain military discipline.
Evella laughed, remembering the rest of that tale, and several customers, including the small man that had still been ranting at the night manager, stared in her direction.
“Seven minutes.” she said, a broad smile on her face. “Seven effin’ minutes.” She was almost in hysterics as she turned and left, leaving behind a great many bewildered strangers.
The squad laughed, and the unit commander smiled. Sometimes you just needed to keep morale high.