Aboard the space dock “San Marcos IV” Lieutenant Marinero and his squad just finished another session in the simulators.
“Still not going to well, huh?” asked Lieutenant Vega.
“That’s an understatement compadre,” admitted Manolo.
“But out of all the other groups,” Vega began. “Mine included, your group has the best scores.”
“To be the best of the worst is not a great achievement,” replied Marinero. “I just wish we could get this expedition on its way.”
“We all wish that, Manolo,” replied Vega.
“I get the feeling that the more we delay the more time the enemy has to realize that we have no defense against them,” admitted Manolo. “And then hit us with everything they got.”
On another outpost in the outer fringes of what the New Spaniards called “Hermano Pequeño del Sol” or the ‘Sun’s Little Brother’, the sensor boards all lit up with incoming traffic. “Dos Mio” or “My God” were the last words heard as the outpost and everyone in it died seconds later.
The next day, as Lieutenant Marinero entered the briefing room an assortment of noise and confusion greeted him.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“Last minute replacements and transfers, Sir,” said his second in command, Ensign Santiago.
“Was our squadron affected?” Marinero asked.
“Yes, Sir,” stated Santiago.
“We only lost our point man Warren Officer Pena,” he informed him.
“Are you kidding me?” asked Marinero. “Pena is gone?”
Second Lieutenant Gilberto de Rocho came over to Manolo and patted him on the shoulder.
“Oh, well,” de Rocho began. “Just be thankful that he was all you lost. I lost two of my wing men who went to the 45th. They were replaced by two newbie’s from the academy.”
“That’s just perfect,” stated Manolo.
Lieutenant Vega came up to the two other flight leaders and said, “It’s happening all over, Manolo. Big wigs and military honcho’s pulling in big favors or paying out buckets of gold to get their sons or daughters on this mission.”
“Are they all mad?” asked Manolo.
Vega and de Rocho both laughed.
“You my friend need to get out more often,” stated de Rocho. “You need to take a shuttle down and get some rest and relaxation before we leave.”
“I agree, with Gilberto,” replied Vega. “You are too focused on this mission, Manolo. Don’t you realize that this mission to the Old World is all anyone is talking about? Anybody who is anybody wants to be part of this, Manolo.”
Manolo shook his head. “Maybe you’re right,” he agreed.
“I do need to go back home and say good-bye to Mama.”
“Do so,” began Vega. “And take a few moments for yourself, Manolo. Find a nice senorita and have some fun.”
“Your squad will be fine up here, I’ll keep an eye on them and your own second, Ensign Santiago can keep them in line,” de Rocho said. “So you have nothing more to worry about. I swear sometimes it’s like you’re a mother hen.”
“Fine,” Manolo finally said. “I’ll take a few days off and head back home. Just remember don’t grab all the good new transfers.”
“Us?” asked Vega. “Would we do that to you?”
“You both would do so in a heartbeat, gentlemen,” Marinero stated. “In a heartbeat.”
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