This story is set in the Swarm Cycle Universe created by Thinking Horndog. Any resemblance between the content of this story or any of the characters depicted herein and real persons or events is probably coincidental.
The characters in this tale are taken from a much larger work-in-progress that is proving to be much too big for a first attempt. The encouraging response I have received from readers for 'The Starbucks Incident' is motivating me to complete The Librarian and get it posted. In the meantime, I have continued Marvin Clark's tale.
I very much appreciate the efforts of Mulligan. He is patiently teaching me how to write in my native tongue. I claim full responsibility for all errors and omissions.
"Okay everyone, listen up." Sergeant Budzinski's voice echoed in the large room as he stepped off of the transporter pad. "I need all of the sponsors to collect their concubine's ID cards, make a list of dependents under fourteen that are to be picked up, and detail everyone's medical needs."
Private Williams approached Budzinski juggling an armful of the ship's PDA units. "If each of you sponsors will use one of these handheld pads then processing the lists will be easier and faster. There's a scanner along the side that can read CAP cards and most standard government issued ID cards as well."
"Are there any smokers in the crowd?" When no one identified himself, Budzinski remarked, "None, that's weird," then raising his voice again, asked, "Is anyone on heart medication or other prescription drugs?"
Marvin reluctantly raised his hand, "I'm taking some medication, but I don't think it's anything critical." He blushed a bit as he handed a bottle of male enhancement pills to Budzinski who was puzzled by the drug's name.
The AI spoke through Budzinski's implant telling him what the pills were for moment's after he read the name out loud. Budzinski chuckled and handed the bottle back to Marvin. "You're right; you'll probably want to trash these. The med lab's nanobots can do a much better job of enhancement than anything you can get Earth-side. Does anyone else have anything interesting to share?" Budzinski was chuckling and shaking his head.
Williams was fielding questions about the PDA functionality. Everyone appeared to be busy collecting the requested information.
Cpl. Miller took advantage of the lull in Budzinski's interaction with the crowd to bring an interesting readout to his attention. "Hey, Sergeant, check this out." She said as she recalled a tactical screen on her display. "Just before we dusted off my scanner registered a couple of CAP cards that entered the parking lot. There was an 8.0 female and an 8.7 male. I've got the names and profiles right here." Miller touched a couple of buttons to split the screen and show him the data on both individuals at the same time.
"Janet Olson and Jacob Caulfield, they've got to be the 'Janet and Jake' that Lt. Clark spoke of during the pickup. You're with me, Miller." Budzinski walked over to Clark.
"Excuse me, sir." Budzinski addressed Clark. "Would you know why these individuals arrived outside as we were packing up to dust?" Budzinski pointed to Miller's combat PDA display.
Clark was puzzled, "Dust?"
"Uh, in the old days when you were ready to abandon a position you'd call in slicks, unarmed transport helicopters, and dive for the doors through the cloud of dust they kicked up because they never touched the ground. They just flew low and slow until loaded and then bugged out."
"Helicopters, right," Clark wasn't sure he'd been enlightened, but addressed Budzinski's question. "My first guess would be that they were there to insure that no one fucked with Misty Nokamura, the young lady I asked you to take care of. She's a real hot babe and was ready to ship out with me, but I vetoed my dick and declined her offer mostly because of Janet. That crazy Amazon dyke would have removed my ass."
"You'd have been safely under the protection of the Confederacy. She couldn't have done anything to you," Budzinski commented confidently.
Clark laughed before advising Budzinski, "The smart money doesn't put limitations on what that pair can and cannot accomplish." Clark expanded the advice. "Three months ago Jake was a wimpy geek. I'm sure my kid sister could've bested him in a slugging match. But I've seen the scrawny little bastard in action and would NOT want to be the focus of his anger even with my fifty-pound weight advantage. He's sneaky and doesn't fight fair," Clark was frowning as he recalled Jake smashing his laptop into the head of the guy who'd just stabbed Ralph.
He continued his narrative, "I've fearlessly charged many a line of 250-pound football players who were intent on removing limbs from my body, but Janet scares me. God help the fool at Starbucks that even thought about molesting Misty. Janet would have ripped their heads off bare handed, and Jake would have shit down their necks. Some guy stabbed a friend of theirs in the Starbucks parking lot about a month ago. I barely managed to stop them before they beat the guy to death."
"Who's this Misty to them?" Budzinski asked.
"Friend, lover, confidant," Clark answered. "She's Janet's lover and a member of the librarian's crew which is Jake's only connection with either of them. Trust me, that bunch has more clout than you can imagine." Clark added. "Lesa Crews, the librarian, had Jake out of jail in time for breakfast the next morning."
"Budzinski," bellowed a man from the open hatch.
"Sir," Budzinski saluted the approaching figure.
"One simple pickup! Want to tell me why it took over an hour to pick up four little geeks?" Captain McGregor bellowed in Budzinski's face.
"No excuse, sir." Budzinski responded.
"That would be my fault, sir." Clark waded in and saluted.
"Who the fuck're you?" McGregor barked at Clark; then turned to Budzinski, "Who the fuck's this?"
Clark responded, "Acting Second Lieutenant Marvin Clark, sir. I wasn't expected and took up a bit of the extraction team's time dealing with my personal issues."
"Personal issues?" Capt. McGregor checked his watch, "The two of you, my office, thirty-minutes," he barked; then he returned their salutes and withdrew.
"Wow," Clark commented, "Sorry to have caused you so much trouble. What can I do to make it right?"
"It wasn't your fault that I was distracted, Lieutenant," Budzinski sighed, "I'm a combat Marine, not a damned babysitter. My job is to seize and occupy real estate; not coddle civilians! I hate pickup duty!" Budzinski replied. "I've never seen Lt. McGregor blow a gasket like that. This is bigger than you realize. Something surprised him, and he doesn't like surprises. Let's get your concubines setup for in-briefing. We have an ass chewing to attend."
Clark was puzzled, "He was wearing captain's silver bars, why did you call him lieutenant?"
After a deep breath and a long sigh, Budzinski explained. "I don't know how it started, but aboard ship the officers with naval duty use naval rank designations." Budzinski shook his head. He clearly didn't approve of this confusion. "You'd be known as Ensign Clark while aboard if you had duties associated with any of the ship's systems."
Budzinski turned his attention to his PDA and accessed the data being entered by the five sponsors. "Okay, this is good. No medical emergencies, so, we'll schedule everyone for a routine examination between briefings this afternoon. Next on the agenda are dependent pickups ... Jesus, Lieutenant. You've got ten kids in four locations! Dr. Brown has four concubines and only four kids to retrieve. Why do you continue to surprise me?"
"The day's not over, yet, Sergeant." Clark replied, chuckling under his breath. "The day's not over."
Budzinski looked around and bellowed, "Brown, put a muzzle on those two!" The young stuff Brown had collected were chattering like magpies. "Williams, Miller, rear guard; be alert for stragglers and strays. Will the five sponsors kindly put leashes on your charges and follow me to the briefing pod."
Clark gathered Julie Ann and Rebecca in his left and right arms respectively and set them in motion behind Budzinski with a pat on their butts.
It took fifteen minutes to get everyone settled into the various briefing rooms. Rebecca kept trying to get Marvin's attention, but there was too much going on. All she managed to tell him was, "We need to talk about Lesa Crews as soon as we can." Marvin just nodded and gave her a puzzled expression.
Budzinski checked his watch. "Lieutenant, we have just enough time to get from here to Lt. McGregor's office. I'll brief you on the way. Miller, you're in charge. Williams, you're personally responsible for Clark's two concubines."
Smiling, Clark kissed Rebecca and Julie Ann, "I may be late for lunch, loves; so, start without me." He then ran to catch up with Budzinski.
"Sir, you may be the ranking individual, but this detail is my command." Budzinski stated.
"Loud and clear, sergeant, loud and clear. I'm just a bystander and will stay out of your way." Clark's response told him that he understood the protocol to be followed. Only the person in command of a detail saluted or interacted with superiors. Everyone else kept digging holes, raking leaves, laying mines, or whatever, and they kept their mouths shut.
.... There is more of this story ...