This story is set in the Swarm Cycle Universe created by Thinking Horndog. Get a grip: this is fiction. Any resemblance between the content of this story or any of the characters depicted herein with real persons, places or events is totally coincidental.
I very much appreciate the patience and efforts of Mulligan. His help has made this a much better story. I claim full responsibility for all errors and omissions.
Pursuant to the Berne Convention, this work is copyrighted with all rights reserved by its author unless explicitly indicated. Reproduction for profit is forbidden. Any distribution must include this note and the author's email address.
WARNING: This story contains material unsuitable for minors and narrow-minded individuals. It contains sex, violence, and other socially unacceptable material. You have been warned!
There is no geographic location on Earth that more clearly demonstrates how a few men with guns can change the course of history than the state of Texas. But, with their opening gambit being The Alamo, and its example being the standard for all that followed, what else could be expected of native-born Texicans?
The populace may squabble like a horde of siblings who constantly fight with each other, but it's patently impossible for an outsider to pick a fight with just one Texan. An assailant must be prepared to fight them all.
The "Good Ol' Boy" mentality permeates more than politics in Texas. Written contracts are typically between Texans and non-Texans. A handshake is all that's needed between two Texans, and if it's a couple of "Good Ol' Boys", then a simple nod of the heads can close a million dollar deal.
Of course there are those who argue that the only real difference between a redneck and a "Good Ol' Boy" is that a redneck just throws his empty beer can out the window of his pickup truck where a "Good Ol' Boy" will hook shot his empties into the bed of his truck. In either case it's a statistical fact that the most common last words of either group are, "Hey! One o' ya'll hold my beer an' watch this!"
Texans are unbelievably proud of themselves and their state. Every new Cadillac that comes off of the assembly line in Dallas has a sticker in the back window that says, "Made in Texas by Texans".
The general population in Texas had mostly ignored the ruckus caused by the Earth First movement disrupting Confederacy pickups in the state until people began to notice the dramatic drop in extractions from Texas compared to a rise in extractions from New York City, which has roughly the same population. Both the "Good Ol' Boys" and the rednecks agreed that something had to be done.
The Earth First supporters in Texas were reasonably easy for native Texans to spot because the pinheads were mostly a bunch of bleeding heart liberals from places like California or Massachusetts who were trying to push their values onto others. And very few of them drank beer.
Beer was present at the very beginning of civilization. This observation could lead statisticians into making a case for Texas being one of the most civilized places on Earth. The only real competition for Texas in the arena of breweries per capita is Bavaria.
Chester Rawlings and Miguel Diego had consumed a rather large quantity of Shiner Bock and were arm wrestling for the tab they had run at the Toro Rojo Bar and Grill when a huge foreigner with a Georgia accent stepped up to the bar and called for everyone's attention. Chester and Miguel ignored the rude man and continued their contest.
Mr. Rude loudly announced, "Excuse the interruption everyone, my name is Corporal Mullins of the Confederacy Space Marines. My companions and I are here to retrieve six volunteers. If the six of you will kindly step up to the bar and identify yourselves we will begin the next phase of this extraction."
About a third of the women in the bar, including Chester and Miguel's waitress Debbie, were shedding clothes as soon as the word 'Confederacy' was spoken. Chester and Miguel figured they had enough time to finish their contest before stepping up to Mr. Rude and continued to stare each other down. About the time the first of the volunteers arrived at the bar a rude and unfriendly person shouted, "Die traitors, take everyone or no one," and began firing at the big Marine and the volunteers.
Chester and Miguel were no strangers to bar brawls and immediately dove under their table content to let the 'rude' duke it out with the 'rude and unfriendly' up until one of the latter group shot Debbie. The two friends looked at each other and sighed. Each knew that they had just chosen a side. One thing you don't do in Texas if you want to live; well three things actually: you don't kick a Texan's dog, you don't insult a Texan's woman, and you don't shoot a Texan's waitress. And it's pretty much in that order.
Neither of the men particularly liked Debbie. She was as dumb as a post and hadn't missed a branch on the ugly tree that she had fallen out of twenty-six years ago, but she was THEIR waitress. Those who think that this is a dumb reason for two grown and normally sensible geologists to begin killing people are clearly not from Texas. As dumb a reason as it might be it was enough for a Colt single action revolver to appear in each men's right hand as if by magic. The two men stood back-to-back and began clearing the bar of 'rude and unfriendly' people.
A key difference between Chester and Miguel, and the six idiots of Earth First is that the true Texans actually knew what to do in a gunfight. It's also possible that the Earth First idiots didn't realize that they were in a gunfight until it was too late. The sixth one fell onto the sawdust-covered floor after two forty-five slugs plastered the wall behind him with most of his heart and about three inches of his spine after passing through the middle of his chest.
Chester looked around for more targets before telling Miguel, "We share that last one, but it's three for me, and only two for you. I get the check." The honor of paying the check meant that Miguel would owe Chester a favor.
"No fair," Miguel complained. "There were more of them on your side of the room!"
"Don't be a pussy, Miguel." Chester admonished his friend.
Miguel was not pleased when he said, "Okay, but I get the tip."
The two men looked at their dead waitress, and then at each other. Chester said, "Don't waste your money. She can't use it now."
Chester looked around wondering what had happened to their ride. It was doubly rude for that guy Mullins to start a fight and then disappear into thin air. Maybe joining the Confederacy Marines wasn't such a good idea after all. If all of them ran from a little bar brawl like a bunch of sissy girls, then associating with them would be just too embarrassing to live down.
The Marines had only managed to push their own wounded, one volunteer, and six mostly naked women through the transporter nexus before shutting it down. The other three volunteers who had made it all the way to the bar lay dead on the floor.
Miguel was sure that Chester was wasting his time when he went to the Confederacy testing center to complain about being left behind. Chester had locked his revolver in his truck and was annoyed when the he was required to also leave his knife with the guard before being allowed to see Tribune Wentworth. The fact that Chester's Arkansas Toothpick was about the length and weight of a Roman gladius didn't keep it from being 'just a knife' to Chester.
The bureaucratic nonsense that Chester had to endure before seeing Wentworth had allowed the Tribune time to review the after action report of the aborted pickup before seeing Chester.
"Good afternoon Mr. Rawlings," Tribune Wentworth said as he stood and extended his hand to Chester. "I understand that you aren't pleased that Corporal Mullins failed to extract you and your friend when violence ensued at the Toro Rojo Bar and Grill earlier this week."
"Mr. Rawlings is my grandfather. My name's Chester," Chester said as he took Wentworth's hand. "Yeah, I was wondering why those four Marines disappeared like a bunch of cockroaches when the kitchen light is turned on."
Wentworth assumed his most sympathetic demeanor, "Well, Chester, Corporal Mullins was seriously wounded and the Marines are not allowed to bring body armor or deadly weapons with them for a normal pickup assignment."
"Well that's pretty stupid," Chester responded. "Who made that idiotic rule?"
Wentworth smiled, "Someone far above me, I'm afraid."
"Look," Chester replied. His patience was clearly wearing thin. "Miguel and I work for a living and are about to be shipped off to a South American oil field for six months. Guys like us could be real dangerous to the dickheads if we had the right equipment. Look at how we dealt with that little problem at Toro Rojo. We were outnumbered three to one and the bad guys were shooting first."
The Tribune nodded and asked, "Yes, but I was wondering why you waited so long before returning fire?"
Chester shrugged, "We don't butt into someone else's business during a bar fight unless we don't have a choice. It wasn't our fight until that Earth First bozo shot Debbie."
"I see," Wentworth replied. "This Debbie was a friend of yours then?"
"Nah," Chester replied, "She was just our dumb-ass waitress."
Wentworth was clearly puzzled, "Your waitress?"
Chester grunted, "You're not from around here, are you cowboy? Look, what will Miguel and I have to do to get picked up?"
Wentworth shook his head, "Pickups have been suspended in Texas. It's just too dangerous. You might have a better chance in South America. Where will you be?"
.... There is more of this story ...