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Sean Thornton

Another Day Another Dollar

Another Day Another Dollar

part 1

 

RP//ON

 

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on
Robert Frost (ancient earth)

 

Ding- ding- ding, “Damn proximity alert,” I mumble to myself as I rub the crust out of my eyes. Crap I forgot to remove the officer's model .45 from the small of my back because... wait, what time is it? I look at the ships chronometer 14 hrs, damn, well I guess it is ok I needed the sleep and that oversight has caused me one hell of a back ache. I slide out of the bunk capsule and move over to the command chair and strap in. Command Chair ha! What a joke, that was what now almost 2 years ago? I mumble to myself the seat of my old Aurora “Betty Boop” is not a command chair but rather a seat that is damn uncomfortable at best and a torture rack at the worst.

 

I check to see what is causing the proximity alert it looks like a mining ship looking for minerals in this asteroid I have “old Betty” moored against with power at minimal levels. Well I had better get a closer look to make sure this is a miner or a pirate poking his damn nose where it ought not be. I do a passive ECM scan and this is not a miner with picks and shovel but this is a small  fighter. Damn, a fighter, let's see If I can get an image on you. I release a video drone and it drifts past the 300i. Look at this, skull and cross-bones flag a pirate yes, and this is my boy scumbag pirate, proper markings this is my boy, I laugh at this me a bounty hunter, how the mighty have fallen. I think back two and a half years ago I was the Commanding officer of an Indianapolis  class heavy cruiser the Raphael Semmes.

 

I shake my head in disgust then put my helmet on if things go south. The 300i drifts right into my guns sights and I power up and pull the trigger two heavy auto cannons shred the cockpit of the fighter and I watch the headless body fly into space. I pull the body into my cargo pod with my tractor beam close the hatch and then I lock on the 300i. Another piece of crap pirate dead and 50K credits to my account when I get back to port. This time it was easy and perhaps this little prize will give me a new and better ship to hunt pirates. I start my engines and head for the nearest UEE base. I set course and get underway. I had better get out of here before his friends come looking for him. I turn my coffee pot on and wait for my coffee to brew.

 

Coffee pots are hard to come by and is a luxury on an Aurora. I pass the outer marker of the x-ray point forward patrol base For the UEE Military Police. I get the challenge call, Target William-Hotel-Alpha please send IFF codes. I comply and open the channel, “Tom is that you today?” “Affirmative,” comes the reply, “It looks like you had a successful fishing trip Thorn, I have an escort coming up on your six to give assist and cover until touch down.” “Roger,” I reply, “Is this one of your new rookies?” I inquired. “Roger” comes the reply, I had him lurking around  at 30k meters about 30 mins ago. He needs to be more stealthy if he is to survive out here on the frontier.” “Affirmative, I will inform his training officer so we will not lose another noob!” I take the last sip of the mug of coffee and slowly set down the 300i and land “Betty” next to my prize on the base lift.

 

I shut “Betty” down and climb out of the starboard side hatch. The Marine Sergeant Major had a squad at port arms and walked up to me and saluted “Commodore Thornton,” We have orders to escort prisoner to brig and you sir to the Admiralty’s flag representative.” I laugh and reply, “The prisoner is in no condition to need an escort.” The Sergeant Major Raised and eyebrow and quipped “A casualty sir?” “Affirmative.” I replied, “It is hard to breathe without a head.” The unit laughed until the Sergeant Major gave them the “evil eye.” The Bounty stated dead or alive did it not? “Affirmative sir,” came the reply. “I find it more easy and less of a fuss if the dead part prevails.” At this the Sergeant Major broke into a wide grin and he said, “I miss having you sir as my C.O. It has been a sorry two years since the Raphael Semmes.”

 

I sigh and say, “Tis the truth me boyo, tis the truth! Now, what is this crap about the Admiralty’s flag Representative looking for me? I am a civilian now and my last rank was Captain, what is in the wind Sergeant Major?” “Sir, I do not know,” came his reply, However that is what my orders are to tell you.” “Well then, I guess we had better see what they want of this piss-poor-excuse for an officer as was put in my discharge papers.” As I grit my teeth in sarcasm and annoyance. I watch as the medics put the corpse in a body bag, take finger prints, a DNA scan and zip the bag up and haul former pirate “Bloody Able Jones” away, I laugh within myself and think the former title fits now! I sign the release form Com Pad and quick as a wink 50 K now resides in my bank account what is this a bonus? 100K from an anonymous source for successful capture of said Pirate dead? Well now if today is not getting more interesting by the moment!” I quip.

“Sergeant Major, just a moment I state as the flight deck engineering officer walks up to me and inquires, “What do you want to do with the 300i?” I reply, “Give it a good once over and see what it is going to cost to bring it back up to specs, a new paint job will also be in order also have UEE registry and ownership information updated. I will send you color and markings specs when I get out of a short meeting.” “Aye, Aye, Sir.” “What the hell is up every one calling me sir? Last I was here I could not get the time of day out of them.” I mumbled to myself. “Sergeant Major lead on.” “Aye. Aye, Sir!”

 

RP//OFF

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Another Day Another Dollar

 

Part 2

 

RP//ON

I walk beside the Sergeant Major followed by the squad that met me at the base's flight deck elevator. The base's ground crew moved both “Betty” and my new 300i over to the hanger’s repair and service area as we went to report to the Admiralty’s flag-officer Rep. I noticed the UEE military officers and enlisted snapping to attention and saluting as I passed them, as a courtesy I returned the salute, I think to myself “ What the hell is going on here? I am a civilian and Merc at that, something stinks out loud here.” We walk through the main base corridor to the base's visiting Flag Officer Quarters. Hell, ever since I began operating in this sector of the frontier I have not set foot in the military base section or even “officer country.” I have been other than the flight deck or operations office been limited to the civilian section of the base.

 

We cross through the transit tube into “Officer's Country.” We turn right and walk to the registration and security desk where the duty officer and his two enlisted Marines stood, snapped to attention and saluted, “Commodore Thornton, we have expected you since you landed. I will have your personal effects moved from your Aurora to the VAQ please sign in here and when you are ready to have rations. Admiral, you can eat with the other officer's or we have a personal steward at your disposal. We have also taken the liberty to inform the base Quartermaster of your needs and you will find a complete issue of uniforms, boots, athletic shoes and clothing and all necessary undergarments with a ditty bag and a complete issue of hygiene items.” The Duty officer stated. I think to myself, “Someone is damn sure I will accept this re-commissioning, hell if I remember my military history the rank of Commodore is only used in the time of declared war.” I think to myself, “A long hot shower, some new duds and a soft bed what the hell, I will humor them since they are being so generous, maybe I can get some good cigars on the cuff!” I inquire, “Do I have time to clean up and change before meeting the Admiralty’s flag-officer representative?” “Sir, the Commander awaits you in your quarters.” Comes the reply. “Damn, whoever this Commander is they are in a big rush!” Runs through my mind. I turn and say to the Sergeant Major, “You and your men are dismissed Sergeant Major, you and your squad may return to your duties.” Aye, Aye sir, after I set guard on your Quarters. I have direct orders concerning your protection.” He states. Damn, I guess it is going to be, what is the old saying? I think it is an Offer that I cannot refuse! Well, we shall see as to that!”

 

I am escorted to my quarters I put my eye to the security scanner I hear what sounds like a satisfied beep and a loud click and the door opens to a solid Teak with a high gloss finish paneled hallway, “Damn, even carpet on the floor Admiral’s sure as hell have the perks.” I mumble. The Sergeant Major sets the watch and orders them, “No one gets through here no matter the circumstances unless it is the steward and with proper ID. Here is the ID scanner. Unless I change the orders, your relief will be in 6 hours.” He turns and takes the rest of the squad back to their duties after posting four marines. I grin and say, “See you later Sergeant Major, perhaps we can have a drink or two for old-times-sake.” He salutes and replies, “At your disposal Commodore.” He executes a perfect about-face and marches back down the hallway.

 

I turn and close the door to my “Quarters,” Hell, these are even better than my old Diggs. I walk down the hallway into the main living room. Quarters? this is a damn penthouse I take off my shoulder rig with 2 .44 magnum 5" revolvers. Then I pull my officer's model .45 from out of the holster in the small of my back and lay it on the table along with my two heavy laser pistols from both of my side holsters in my gun fighters rig. I remove two more pistols from my two boot holsters. A heavy combat knife from my Holster rig, Two daggers from my boots and a throwing knife from a collar holster. Six grenades of which is a mix of Willy Pete, HE, Flash Bang and Frag from my chest Rig and a pack of 15 more in my side packs. Finally, I take off my vest and body armor then I loosen my collar and flop down in an over-stuffed leather chair what is this? A humidor, a bloody humidor, I flip open the top and there is a full box of my favorite cigars all neatly stacked with a cutter and lighter next to the box.

 

I hear a soft lilting voice behind me, “Go ahead Sean light one up while I fix you a single malt scotch.” I did not have to turn around, I knew that voice as well as my own hands. “Tara! I exclaimed don't tell me, you are the Flag-officer Representative.” She laughed, “The powers that be decided that I was the only one that could persuade you to return. Of course with a special rank and the perks that go with it.” I heard the sound of two cubes of ice tinkling in the glass then the sound of her pouring the drink. I waited to the count 3, 2, 1 and a long slender light toned arm reaches around from behind and hands me the glass and leans close. That smell oh, God that smell! The soft perfume of her hair as it tickles the back of my neck and the touch, the touch of those soft full lips on my ear as she whispers, “It has been a long, long time Sean, too long.” God this woman was all that I ever wanted and more, well beside my command of one of the UEE's capital ships.

 

Sailor through and through. I grinned at this thought. Tara, I have missed you also but as I remember, when I was drummed out of the UEE Navy you turned from the love of my life to a stone cold statue that would not even take my calls or messages. She sighed and said softly, “I was under orders!” You know my position and who I answer to. I replied coldly, “The Advocates branch.” Now things are coming into focus for me.” I sigh then swallow a long swig of the fine scotch that is in my glass. “Tara, you broke my heart. That is why I grabbed an old Aurora had it over-hauled and properly armed and came out here to the frontier to hunt pirates and do Merc work since.” I felt a tear on my ear as she stammered, “It was the hardest thing I have ever done. However, as I said I was under orders and all that we have gone through was for a purpose.” My temper rises within me as I force it down then say coldly, “Just what purpose did it serve to ruin my Naval career, my name my honor and my plans with you?” Tara walks around in front of me wearing a dark negligée leaving nothing to the imagination, her beautiful crimson locks and emerald-green eyes her beautiful full and firm breasts the soft turn of her hips and those long strong legs. Oh God, My Irish is going full boil and I always lose my mind over red-heads, especially me Tara, Tara Colleen by God O'Callghan. I sigh as she seats herself upon my lap and puts her long slender arms around my neck and kisses me gently, ever so softly as tears run down her cheeks, “I am so sorry Sean, you are still the only man and the love of my life!” she stammers.

 

I gently stroke her hair, I set the glass down and put my arms around her and gently yet firmly give her the hug that I have desired to give her these last two years. Just one more hug and perhaps she will love me again. For two long years, two long hard cold lonesome years without my beautiful Tara. We gave each other the longest most passionate kiss that could ever be between two lovers. So it has been a long cold desperate time for both of us I could easily tell by her breathing and physical reactions which is something not even the most well-trained advocate agent could muster. I glance at my time piece and it was glowing green. I wear a time piece that has a built-in lie detector a very useful piece of equipment in my line of work. Tara, before anything goes any further I need to clean up, it has been three weeks since l left on my last fishing expedition. She grins and says “OK, I just do not want to let you go ever again.” I laughed softly then I quipped, “Well then, remove what you are wearing and we shall shower together.” She stands and lets the negligée gently slip off of her body and says, “We have a large whirlpool bath tub here Commodore Thornton, I am sure we will be more comfortable in there, which I already have taken the liberty to prepare for our use.” “Ah such a fine lass, I am sure it will suit my er our needs.”

 

RP//OFF

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Part: 3

 

RP//ON

 

It had been a great evening, a little splashing around in the huge whirlpool tub then a transfer to the bed and then a call to the steward who brought us two huge rib-eye steaks and all the trimmings. Real beef steaks with all the trimmings, not the usual reconstituted freeze-dried military approved crap which all the Tabasco sauce and tons of garlic salt in the universe cannot help. Real fresh-baked bread and fresh fruit, not fruit flavored substance and a real baked potato with real butter, sour cream and chives. No little potato crystals with water added to reconstitute into thick form of mashed potato. Military cooks throughout the universe since the time of the first armies have been able to turn perfectly good food into what is barely edible garbage. Something that neither tastes good or even looks good, only with some slight exceptions has there ever been anything cooked for the troops that could do anything for them except make a turd.

 

The meal had been the best I have had in the last two years. Damn, Admirals do sure have it good. We ate drank and were merry that is for sure. We had fallen asleep in each others arms exhausted from the evenings activities. I awoke about 6 hours later and I watched Tara snoring lightly with her beautiful breast rising and falling from her soft breathing. God it had been great, more than I could have ever dreamed or wished for. I gently moved out of the bed taking care not to wake her then I put on a new issue of underwear and a new (1) poopi suit, some socks and a new pair of combat boots. Hell, if they are going to give the stuff to me then I am going to damn well wear and use it. After being subjected to, false trumped-up charges, an impromptu  courts-martial without me being allowed an attorney to represent me. To put it promptly I was railroaded for a reason I still do not know to this day but I am damn sure going to find out before I agree to anything; Tara and perks be damned. I want my pound of flesh and my day in court.

 

I spot a coffee pot in the kitchen and go ahead and prepare coffee for both of us and set the timer for 06:30 hrs Base local Time. B.L.T., someone with a sense of humor came up with that long ago as I shake my head slowly grinning to myself. I walk over to the table sit down then pull out my weapon cleaning kit, then unload the projectile weapons taking care as to not accidentally discharge my fire arms, then I proceed to check then clean all my weapons including knives. I pull out my leather cleaning kit and clean all the leather for my gun rigs. Finally a little tin of Brasso to clean and shine all the brass buckles on the rig and the new buckles on my new set of belts. When I finish I grab my new dress shoes and boots then shine them to a mirror shine. By the time I had completed these chores the timer on the coffee pot chimes and starts to brew.

 

Man, I love the smell of fresh brewed coffee, it is not the freeze-dried little chunks that I can normally purchase at X-Ray Point's base PX. The only thing I can say for that is when they package it the freeze drying process they use intensifies the impact of the caffeine for a great kick but the taste leaves something to be desired. So I always load it up with a heavily flavored creamer. I walk over to the kitchen and find two large mugs and fill them, I hear Tara stirring and turn and ask, “Tara, do you still take two spoonfuls of sugar and some French Vanilla Creamer?” She yawns and stretches then replies. “You still remember?”, “Yes I do.” I reply. She smiles then says,“I will be there, just a moment.” I watch her crawling out of bed and enjoy the view perhaps a little too much, no, I guess I had best remember this moment and this passing night; God I still love her so much it still hurts.

 

I turn, sigh as I prepare the coffee cups I think, “I had better get my head on straight before I make any deals or agree to any machinations of the Advocates branch.” I hear the soft padding of Tara's steps as she walks up behind me. I turn just in time for her to throw her arms around me and give me a passionate kiss. Tara looks into my eyes and says, “I wish we could be together all the time so we can have nights like this every night!” I laugh and say, “ Well now, me little Irish darling, that will depend upon the offer that you bring me. Spiffy new clothing and other items and perks will not turn my head. Not now after the past two years, I have to hear the offer first. Having this past glorious evening was great however, I want to know how will this offer impact me and our future?” Tara looks at me and smiles, yet I see a tinge of sadness cross her face and she says, “We will discuss this and have our meeting via encrypted comm link after breakfast.”

 

RP//OFF

 

(1) Poopi suit a light set of cover-all that U.S. Submariners  wear when underway. I surmise that this would be the best type of uniform on UEE capital ships, allowing the wearer to put on a space suit when necessary without having to change into a light set of garments to allow the EVA suit to be worn.

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