I'd like to thank Mulligan and Steve T for their assistance in turning this into a better story than my initial effort, any errors remaining are of course mine.
British Army lingo for special operations, sneaking about, up to something.
See those blokes over there?
Reeks of sneaky beaky work...
Must be from the Regiment...
Lilian Alford, like most of the inhabitants of Demeter stood two metres tall and had a physique that back on Earth would have required hours of hard work in the gym. Here it was the product of Darjee medical technology and the thousands of nanites that now inhabited her body.
As she moved to open the door before her, you'd never have guessed that before she was extracted she'd made her living as the kitchen manager in the Military College that the Governor had been attending. Now she was one of the drones that belonged to the planet's Governor and spent most of her time as his unofficial personal assistant.
She rapped firmly on the door, an action that drew the plain grey shift she wore tight across her chest and without waiting for a response she pushed the door open and announced almost formally,
"Tribune ap Rhys to see you, Sir."
Again without waiting for a response from the man seated behind the desk she stepped clear of the entrance and waved the grey uniformed man through the door.
Like Lilian, he was two metres tall but he moved as though he was used to the body he was in and was confident that it would do what he wanted, when he wanted it to.
"David," called the Governor as he rose from his desk, "To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"
Just by looking you couldn't tell that the Governor was barely out of his teens, or that the man who was approaching him was twenty years older. The Darjee medical technology they'd been subjected to since they'd been extracted from Earth had given both men the bodies of athletes and an apparent age to suit their positions.
"Hi, Alex," said David ap Rhys, shaking the proffered hand, "I've come up with an idea and I want to know how you feel about it?"
"Grab a seat," said Alex Flowers, Governor of Demeter before turning to the woman stood in the doorway. "Lilly, could you bring us some drinks and after that try and keep everyone else away while I have a chat with David."
The woman smiled at her owner, "Certainly, Sir," she replied before closing the door softly.
"So, David," asked Alex as he dropped into a chair opposite the head of his planet's Civil Service, "What's this idea you've had?"
"OK, you know how stretched my people are getting?" asked David by way of an introduction.
The Civil Service was the organisation responsible for all the concubines who didn't have an official sponsor; they were the only reason that unattached concubines were not recycled within forty-eight hours of losing their sponsors. They were also the closest that the Confederacy had to a combination of Education Department, Social Services and anything else that wasn't geared to helping the military fight the Sa'arm.
The biggest problem the service had was that they didn't really exist. No one had planned for them and they had no real budget or manpower, anything they achieved was down to the strength of personality of the individual Civil Service representative and the way they worked with the military around them.
When they'd met, Alex had just arrived on Demeter and David was dragging a band of surviving concubines around from the military disaster that had occurred on Neptune. Now they were both working together to look after a planet that was home to nearly seventy thousand people, a mix made up of Marines, Citizens and their families.
Fortunately David had managed to forge a good working relationship with the Governor of this planet and, as the Governor nodded in understanding he was going to make the most of that friendship.
"I've come up with a way to recruit a load of people who would suit the Civil Service and if you agree with me those new people will ease the workload on my people," he said. "The only real problem is that I need to get back to Earth and stage my own pickup."
Alex shook his head in amusement; "Well, you've got me interested," he said, "How about giving me some of the details of this idea."
It was David's turn to chuckle, "Actually," he said, "It's all your own fault."
"Mine!" exclaimed the Governor.
"Yours," replied a nodding David. "Remember when you sent Melanie to me with the idea that she should join the Civil Service?"
Alex nodded slowly, Melanie or to be more precise Sister Melanie had been a nun who'd taught at St. Genevieve School for Young Ladies. She'd been caught up in the extraction that dragged Alex and the rest of the cadets into space alongside the girls from her school and those from the Upper Lea Girls School.
"Go on," said Alex, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.
"I had a chat with her and we discussed her CAP score," said David. "Did you know it was seven point three?"
Alex nodded again so David continued, "According to her, there were several other nuns working with her at the school that had CAP scores high enough to volunteer but wouldn't because of the military nature of the Confederacy."
"Military nature," spluttered Alex, "Don't they know what's happening..." He ground to a halt, "Forget that, of course they don't know what's happening out here, we don't tell them. Go on, carry on with this idea of yours."
"It's like this, I need manpower, or womanpower," said David, "and it appears that the Priory that supports St. Genevieve's is likely to have the sort of numbers that would make an extraction worthwhile. However the Confederacy wouldn't plan an extraction on that place in a million years as none of them have volunteered for service."
"So what exactly do you want from me?" asked Alex.
"I want you to arrange for me to go on the next extraction mission to Earth," declared David. "I'll need to run my own pickup and have sufficient pod space to bring them back here."
"Don't want a lot, do you?" said Alex with a frown. "The pickup crews are working flat out just to get the manpower here that we need for the military side of things. Getting them to agree to pick up civilians for you is going to be a tough task."
David watched as Alex ran through several scenarios in his mind but could tell that he didn't look hopeful. When it seemed that he finally given up David said diffidently, "Well I did have another idea but I'm not sure how practical that is."
Alex looked at David and screwed up his face, "Am I going to like this?" he asked.
David grinned, "That depends on how much of the little boy who likes adventures is left under that enhanced body they've got you dressed in now."
Alex was shaking his head, "I know I shouldn't ask," he said, "but go on, spill the beans."
"I happen to know where there are two assault ships that aren't doing a great deal at the moment," said David before falling silent.
The Governor's eyes opened wide, "We couldn't..." he began and then fell silent. He pondered the matter for some time and David watched in silence.
"You know," said Alex, "It may just be possible." He tapped his fingers on the arm of his chair, "I'll have to check what the actual operating instructions are for the ships but if it's as open as I think it is," he grinned, "then we may just be on to something."
Lilian Alford chose that moment to enter the room with the drinks that had been ordered. Alex sat back in his seat and pursed his lips, his fingers drumming steadily on the arm of his chair.
As Lilian rose from putting the drinks down Alex addressed her, "Lilly, see if you can track down Major Lebedev. If she's got nothing on at the moment, ask her to join us."
"Yes, Sir," replied Lilian and exited the room silently.
"AI," called Alex, "What were the operational orders for the Sir Tristam and the Sir Bedivere?" he asked, referring to the two assault ships that had been attached to the training team operating on Demeter.
"They are to provide training facilities for all units attached to the colony world of Demeter," replied the AI. "Specifically they are to provide pilot training resources and associated tasking requirements."
"What is their operational training area?" asked Alex.
"No area is specified," replied the AI.
"Who is in operational command of the ships?" asked Alex crossing his fingers metaphorically.
"Whilst attached to Demeter they fall under the command of the Governor providing that his instructions do not contravene any Confederacy standing orders," said the AI.
Alex looked at David and smiled, "It's looking good," he said. "All I have to do now is convince Svetlana to go along with us."
David settled back and smiled, it looked like his idea had hooked the Governor, so he was half way back to Earth already.
Major Svetlana Lebedev listened politely as David outlined his plan, her face betraying no emotion at all. When he fell silent she looked from David to Alex and frowned, "You two are like a couple of little boys," she said.
"It is totally ridiculous to expect a military unit to take part in such a hair-brained, ill conceived and illogical mission as this," she continued before her face lit up with a huge grin. "Gunny Archer's going to love it. He's been going up the wall being stuck here now that the training schedule is working like clockwork."
.... There is more of this story ...