Stockade

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Stockade

Post by Exacerangutan on Thu May 21, 2009 1:04 am

The most famous, most recognized, and most successful cadet of the class of 22 at Olympus Mons—the flagship MSF Academy—sat calmly in her cell in the cadets' stockade. She had been assigned four weeks, required to attend classes and then report directly to stockade; she would be out on the 35th, just in time for exams.

Cadet Egret wasn't bothered so much by it. She had room enough to exercise, and plenty of classwork to keep herself busy most of her waking hours.

She could come across as being rather antisocial, at times, but she had a small group of friends who at least partly understood; they knew that what many Cadets took for self-importance was just focus on her goals, that her standards for herself and those around her were simply radically different from the bulk of the class looking forward to making a name and finishing their compulsory tour of duty. They knew she simply saw the Academy as a place to learn to kill the enemy and keep her people alive, and not a social scene.

That, in a way, was the error that landed her in the stockade.


***



Six weeks before Cadet Egret's sentencing to the stockade, a rumor had begun to circulate in the cadets' barracks at Olympus that her exceptional class rankings hadn't been due to her own ability or even—as a few jealous souls had intimated—preferential treatment because of her family's status.

These rumors suggested that Cadet Egret's rankings were owed to favoritism brought about by her remarkably well-developed figure, inevitably discussed more than a little by other cadets, especially by those who had known her in secondary school as the ice-princess with war hero parents. The faculty had of course responded quickly to not only disavow such a possibility, but denounce it as a shameful, libelous insult—not only to the cadet and her instructors, but to the MSF as a whole—but by the very nature of rumors, felt no need to invest the resources necessary to track down the source.

Most of Olympus considered the issue settled at that point. The rumor was generally discounted as just an ugly rumor, but it lingered, as rumors will, and was exchanged and alluded to jovially whenever the instructors weren't listening. No one believed it, but everyone had a good laugh.

Everyone except for Cadet Egret. She remained unsatisfied with the situation, and stubbornly set her handful of friends to work to gather intelligence and trace the rumor back toward its source.


***



Cadet Egret's father had been in to scold her for her misconduct the day after she was sent to the cadets' stockade. He had arrived in his service uniform, which looked appropriate on him even as alien as it seemed through unfamiliarity. He habitually avoided wearing anything more formal than fatigues, and even that was merely a grudging concession to the military dress code he himself had helped to write. When he had been wrestled into a proper uniform, he was ruggedly dignified, despite the stubble he sported whenever allowed to avoid public appearances for more than a week.

As Marshal of the MSF 1st stationed at Olympus Mons, and Chief Commandant of MSF Academies, his disapproval carried significant weight.

As her father, however, his disapproval was at once laughable and reassuring. On the one hand, they bickered so constantly that she knew better than to take his typically juvenile displeasure seriously; on the other, she knew that if he was angry with her while in uniform, in his heart of hearts, he was probably cheering her on for a dozen other reasons all his own.

Not least of them was the way the incident would fluster her superior officers. This was sure to lead to a stuffy staff officer sitting in the marshal's office and squirming awkwardly, trying to explain to one of the highest-ranking flag officers in the Force what his daughter had done, and there were few things the marshal enjoyed more.

Well, except for his wife squirming awkwardly.

But that usually ended with a reminder about her right hook.

"You sure dug yourself a hole this time, Jackie," he said, arms crossed.

Predictably, she glared at him, obviously restrained only by his uniform. "It's just 'Cadet,' if you're here officially. Sir."

"Hahaha! Yeah, well, 'Cadet,' you're in deep shit. You'd better not think I'm covering for you."

"I wouldn't dream of it," she answered, eyes flashing with the indignant wrath her father couldn't resist inciting, and which he'd never been able to resist inciting in her mother. "If I didn't believe in people getting what's coming to them, sir, I wouldn't be here."

The marshal grinned at that. He was going to be looking forward to this court-martial.


***



"Agh! Get off me!" cried the darker-haired of the two cadets struggling on the floor of the cadets' mess, her right arm already bent behind her back at awkward angles, and her left shoulder pinned to the tiles, her shoulders arched back as if to emphasize the name tag “Geir” on the right breast of her jacket. Her right eye was already starting to swell. "Somebody get this psycho off me!"

"You've got only one thing worth saying," hissed the red-haired Cadet Egret into Geir's ear, stretching her arm out across the tiles and keeping her shoulder taut. "You're going to confess, out loud, that you came up with those fucking stories, you slimy little bitch. And you're going to hand yourself in to the disciplinary board for being a fucking embarrassment to the Force."

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about!” Geir protested, trying to pull her arm free.

Cadet Egret growled her displeasure; it had taken two weeks of her friends' tracking and following informant to informant, and her own work compiling their data. They relied simply on the techniques learned in their first-year counter-terrorism course on basic intelligence analysis—how to tracking down Radical cells hidden among civilian populations, right down to the insertion of an undercover agent to verify the target. The only departure from protocol was Egret's insistence that she should go into the strike solo, since they obviously had no official sanctioning, and there was no way she was bringing them down with her.

It was only after graduation that they confessed they had been at the scene, making sure Geir's friends were held back long enough for Egret to complete her "operation."

"Fucking liar," Egret replied. "One more chance to own up without anything broken."

"Psychopath!" Geir snapped in response. "Fine, I made a fucking comment or two! It's not my fault if everyone else thinks the same thing! Now get off me!"

Geir shrieked in pain and surprise as Egret dropped her knee on the cadet's forearm with a crack.

"I never said I'd let you get away with a confession," snarled Egret, "you cowardly, squealing shit. That one was for the Force and all the shit you'll stir up in the future with your fucking gossip. The next two are for my reputation, and for anyone you get killed when you break like a twig under interrogation."

When the Academy MPs arrived, Geir was on the ground clutching her arm and sobbing, surrounded by friends.

Egret was standing by a wall console, calling the infirmary, after which she surrendered herself peaceably.


***



Marshal Egret, the legendary war hero, Liberator of Mars, Savior of the Solar System, Scourge of BAHRAM, had sat in his office at the Martian Space Force Academy at Olympus Mons, where he had to listen every day to a string of drab reports on logistics and administration which would mostly be handled by his aides-de-camp, anyway. He would always hope for some interruption of the routine to come along and give him something to do, or at least something more interesting to read.

On the 4th, it came in the form of a captain from the academy's military police arriving with what was announced as "a report of special interest to the Marshal." He read the initial MP report quickly.

"What's this, exactly, Captain?"

The officer hesitated. "Apparently it's to do with the incident of the rumors about—" he paused "—Cadet Egret, sir."

"Is that what it's about?" The Marshal cleared his throat, addressing his aides-de-camp as he read. "Seems that Cadet Egret has found the source of those unpleasant rumors and got the young lady to recant. Publicly.”

The Marshal paused for effect, and then continued: “says here it took a black eye and several fractures to the right arm.”

The captain was obviously uncomfortable.

"Cadet Egret approached Cadet Geir," he went on, reading aloud, "and struck her with a blow to the face, after which Cader Geir fell prone."

Marshal Egret fell quiet for a moment, reading through the rest of the report—then laughed, grinning, and rubbed his jaw thoughtfully as though reminiscing over old battles.

"Guess she's got her mother's right hook."


Epilogue:

Cadet Egret graduated second in her class and went on to join the Special Operations Division, undertaking anti-Radical missions on Mars and then anti-Piracy missions in the Belt aboard the FMS Viking. She is the second most highly decorated officer from the class of 22, and presently serves in the Military Development, Detached Intelligence, and Liaison Group under General Miskimen, based out of the CoRe/Marshalship Military Exchange Office on Gatekeeper.

Cadet Geir graduated a year before Egret, and joined the staff community as a commissioned personnel specialist, where she has been commended for her diplomatic handling of disputes between crew members. She presently serves aboard the FMS James Links.

Marshal "Dingo" Egret is still Commandant of Academies and still gets punched by his wife on a regular basis, but will grudgingly admit that he probably deserves it.

Exacerangutan

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Registration date : 2009-03-24

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