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Governor Snippet #6

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Governor Snippet #6
Post by GraysonLady   » Tue Aug 25, 2020 7:24 am

GraysonLady
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Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:34 am

“Yeah. . . here goes,” he muttered, and shifted the space bag straps on his shoulders and started walking. He passed small knots of families as they said goodbye to sons and daughters. Most of those in uniform were in their early twenties, and wearing uniforms that looked fresh from the printers, with bare cloth where ribbons and unit crests would be.

He did a double take at a Marine with a worn patch on his right shoulder as the man spoke to four children, a pair of elderly grandparents behind them. Republician Marines wore the patch of a unit they’d been in combat with, which meant this man was clearly a veteran. What was he doing here at a muster station?

The feeling of dread grew as he joined a line outside the terminal leading to a barred revolving gate manned by armed military police. Those in the line were silent, eyes locked on the gate.

Callum fought the urge to look back for one last glance at his mother and sister, but that felt as weak as it was useless. They were gone. The line moved forward slowly as the MPs did a bio ident scan on each person before they went through the gate. He glanced at his watch and guessed he wouldn’t be late.

Even the little time he’d spent in military training was enough to accustom him to hurry up and wait. Yet, for as much of his time the Navy wasted, they wouldn’t tolerate him being late for anything.

“Lieutenant?” a woman asked from one side.

“Yes?” Callum craned his head over, careful not to bump the spacer behind him with the hump of his space bags.

A heavyset chief petty officer with graying hair beneath a maroon beret gave him a quick salute. Her name tape read HUGGINS.

“This isn’t your line, Sir,” she motioned to a door near the barred entrance.

“No issue. I can—”

“Not. Your line. Sir." A small but severe smile crossed her lips.

“Must have missed the memo,” Callum said as he followed the petty officer. There was an awkward stiffness in her gait and she held a door open for him. Inside was a small office that smelled of old coffee. The spacer stepped around a combination scale-scanner and a tall desk, like she was going to check him into a flight.

“Bags to the scanner, if you please, Sir." She slipped off her beret and tucked it into a back pocket. “No offense meant, but regulations require me to offer you this opportunity to surrender any contraband with no legal repercussion or notations to your personnel file. Anything?”

“Some of my socks may be non-regulation,” Callum said as he dropped the bags on the scanner platform.

“Must be your first muster,” the petty officer said as she tapped on a keyboard. “Still have a sense of humor. ID, please.” She tapped a small slate on the desktop and Callum laid his palm onto it.

“This fast pass lane just for officers or. . .”

“The Navy decided long ago that its more senior members had better things to do with their time than go through a common muster. Most of the compulsories out there haven’t declared for needs or preference, so they have more paperwork to go through. Hand off, thank you.”

“Sorry, ‘needs’ or ‘preference’?”

Huggins stopped typing and gave him a funny look.

“You must not have gone to public school,” Huggins said.

“No. Mostly tutors and the like. Then the Sorbonne.”

“Must’ve been nice,” she muttered under her breath. “Needs or preference, Sir, is the first and last choice the Republic military gives to those serving their compulsory enlistment. Those who choose to serve at the needs of the military have their specialty chosen by the military and they serve no more than three years. Usually. After that they’re exempt from further compulsory service.

“Those that choose to serve at their preference pick their specialty—aptitude and service need dependent. They’ll serve three years plus twice the length of their training. . . and are subject to recall for twenty years after their initial enlistment.”

“That. . . doesn’t sound like a very enticing offer,” Callum said.

“Let’s see. . . Murphy,” she narrowed her eyes at him, “Callum T. Assigned to the Ishtar. New Dublin? That’s not in the Beta Cygni sector." She scowled at him for a moment, then composed herself. “Scan complete. No contraband. I’ll have your gear tagged and moved to your ship in just a moment. Those that serve at the needs of the service are more likely to be assigned to the combat-oriented specialties.”

“Which have higher casualty rates,” Callum said.

“And those that choose preference can learn valuable skills for the job market at the taxpayers’ expense,” she said. “This system’s been in place since the first decade of the war. It’s worked out well enough.”

“Which was your choice?”

“Needs,” she bent over and knocked knuckles on her pants leg and the metallic ring of a prosthetic limb came back. “Anyone under a hundred percent disability can refuse a medical discharge. I found a way to stay useful.”

Huggins placed a deep blue pamphlet on the desk top.

“Your initial muster receipt. Orders assigning you to the Ishtar and alcohol chits. Don’t lose those. Or sell them. . . Murphy. The task force commander on the Ishtar’s named Murphy.”

“The name's not that uncommon. Thanks, Chief,” Callum slipped the pamphlet into a pocket. “So now I . . .”

“Take this door, stay on the orange line and get to holding area thirty-seven and wait there. Transport will pick you up soon as it’s available. By regulation I’m required to tell you that any attempt to leave this facility in anything but an authorized and assigned military vehicle will result in arrest and a mandatory sentencing for desertion.”

“That’s necessary?”

“Good luck, Sir." She touched an earpiece and went out the front door back to the parking lot. The lock snapped shut behind her. A panel opened in the wall and a robot wheeled out and collected his bags, then vanished into a dark tunnel.
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