The Stars Came Back -025- Orders

Fade in

INT – day – modest sized office with four desks, two doors, good lighting.

Lag sits at a desk reading an e-reader. He’s wearing a sharp-looking dark blue military uniform. There is a knock at the door.


The door opens, and in walks a middle-aged woman in a similar uniform, Lt KAT. She’s slender and fit, with long hair in a braid, and looks like she used to be gorgeous. She walks precisely to the front of Lag’s desk, comes to attention, salutes.

Kat: Reporting for duty.

Lag casually returns the salute, waves to a seat in front of his desk, and hands her another e-reader.

Lag: Welcome back. Good to see you again. Have fun on McCullum Prime?

Kat: (smiling) Not nearly as exciting as working with you, of course, but no bullet holes, either. Good to be back; been too long.

Lag: Different sort of mission set now. Wade though that and tell me what you think.

Kat takes the offered e-reader, leans back, and starts examining it intently. The clock on the wall reads 0628.

Series of shots fading together showing the passage of time

Kat in a different sitting position, clock reads 0833

Kat and Lag both pacing back and forth, reading, clock says 0951

Kat looking at the e-reader with a confused look on her face, opening her mouth as if about to say something, then touches the e-reader screen to look at something else, and bites back her comment. Clock reads 1013

Kat tapping furiously on the e-reader, starting to say something, tapping again, biting off her comment, changing pages again, starting to say something, and looking even more confused. Clock changes from 1141 to 1142.

Fade into

Kat setting the e-reader on the desk, rubbing her face, looking tired.

Kat: Sir… as a long-time legal officer for several different units, I’ve see all sorts of orders. But I have NEVER seen anything so poorly written, contradictory, confusing, and patched together. It looks like a copy-paste from a hundred different standard-form directives, put together by a demented third lieutenant, with some random alterations of commas, periods, odd external references, numerous changing of “and” to “or” and vice-versa. Bizarre mix of administrative cutting budgets, working with local contractors, recruiting, transporting of down-cycle troops, reconnaissance, border clarification, training, combat, pirate hunting, negotiation, and God only knows what-all else. I officially have absolutely no idea what the Hell we are supposed to do or what the priorities are, what assets we have, what the budget is, where we go, or what sort of time-line we have. I’m not even sure who you report to! A hundred thirty-six sections, 81 appendices, and at least a half-dozen circular references.

Lag: Excellent!

Kat: Ummm… what?… sir?

Lag: Could you find something in these to justify just about anything?

Kat: (cautiously) Well… yeeeeesssss, likely there’s something somewhere that could in theory support anything short of multi-system genocide if you torture definitions and phrases hard enough.

Lag: And is there anything in there that prohibits action?

Kat: (disgusted) Narrowly read, it’s a straight-jacket that makes us ask permission in triplicate to breath.

Lag: So, anything we do that works out, we could find justification?

Kat: (slowly, cautiously) yeeeeesssssss?

Lag: And if we screw up, we could get hung out to dry as disobeying orders?

Kat nods slowly, kind of starting to see where it’s going.

Lag: (grinning cheerfully) So, let’s not screw things up, and see what we can do!

Kat looks at lag in surprise.

Kat: So, this is…?

Lag: Let’s get started. Section 23 says we need to cut our core budget by 20%. That’s about the same as our maintenance section, I believe. Go find Chief Stenson, tell him he and his section are fired, and send him in here.

Kat looks appalled.

Kat: (faltering) You want… me … to fire a good friend of yours… and he’s GOT to be close to retirement…

Lag: (cheerfully) Yes. He should be out training some guys on the J-6’s.

Kat: (flatly, in disbelief) Fired.

Lag: Absolutely.

Kat stares at Lag in disbelief. Then, she sets her face in a angry scowl, stands, salutes, about faces, and strides out. Lag smiles, and returns to examining the e-reader.

Dissolve to

INT – day – same office

Lag still sits at his desk, reading. The door opens, and Chief HENERY STENSON strides in, smiling, with a confused looking Kat right behind him. He’s late 50s, short cropped graying hair, mustache, trim and muscular, wearing a stained and well-worn camo uniform with rolled up sleeves, and tool belt.

Stenson: Fired again, eh?

Lag: (briskly) Indeed. What’s the local talent like?

Stenson: What, no vacation?

Lag shakes his head. Stenson shrugs and flops into the chair in front of Lag.

Stenson: Eh, not bad. Local companies are a mixed lot, some good individuals, not many that could pass age, physical, or background, as recruits, though.

Kat: I thought he was fired?

Lag: (ignoring Kat) How’s your section?

Stenson: So-so. Usual mix. Only a handful of stand-outs.

Lag: (to Kat) How long to establish a local corporation?

Kat: (even more confused) What? Start a company?

Lag looks at her and patiently waits for her to answer the question. Stenson grins like he knows what’s going on, and is enjoying Kat’s momentary confusion.

Kat: … Uh, well, um… an hour or so to find a location, if requirements aren’t too demanding, and another hour to fill out the forms and file. Pretty simple here. But what does that have to do with-

Lag: Section 30 says we quote, support and utilize local companies where possible, unquote. Please work with Mr Stenson to identify a suitable nearby location for “Stenson’s Heavy Equipment Repair Company”, file the necessary forms for it and an associated apprenticeship program, transfer employment for the dozen or so platoon members he wants to keep, expedite the background checks for any locals he wants to hire and train, and select “Stenson’s HERC” as the local contractor of choice for needed support services for our unit, as stipulated in section 118. I’m sure that when we leave, we’ll also be able to achieve our recruitment goal of 15% laid out in Section 55, too, because we can take them with us. Oh, and while you are looking at real estate, see if you can locate a suitable place for housing an infantry company of recruit trainees; section 103 says to assist with other units in the area, and I know the 46th have some training problems the First Sergeant can help with, while we take care of some other items.

Kat realizes what’s happening, and glares at Lag for a moment for the trick he played, then smiles.

Kat: Ah. I see. OK, sir, be happy to do so.

Stenson stands and turns and walks toward the door with Kat to leave.

Stenson: (teasing) You didn’t think he’d REALLY let me go, did you?

Fade to black.



12 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -025- Orders

  1. Heh. There’s always a way around the rules if you look hard enough.

    Oh, and nitpick moment: Near the end, when Lag is laying out the rules and regs supporting the creation of a “local company”, you spelled “First Sergeant” as “First Sargent”. Not a big deal when spoken on-screen, but may stand out to someone proofing and trying to decide whether to buy the rights or not.

    • Thanks. My spell-checker seems to allow both spellings. Have to look in on that.
      Glad to see you are still with me.

      As to getting around orders, these are, um, particularly flexible orders, that cover, or “not,” a great many contingencies. As does Lag. (BTW – “lag” is Norwegian for “layers.” Most of the names have some significance if you dig far enough.)
      FWIW, I’m starting to post things a bit ahead, and have them auto-post at 6:15 AM each morning. Also got something posting every Friday at 6:05 AM for the next month or so, that is totally unrelated.

      • Yup, still here! Takes a lot to drive me away…apathy usually does it (leave your blog to sit unattended for a month or more…if I have to dust off my screen to read your last post, I’m deleting the bookmark). LOL

        I was Navy, myself, but I’ve always seen the Army/Marine/AirForce spelling as Sergeant. Dad was a Staff Sergeant when he retired from the Err Farce, and as a kid I was always confused as to why they pronounced it “sar-jent” and spelled it “surge-ee-ant”. Yeah. I was the kid that never really asked the “usual” questions. LOL

        • Well, at the current rate, I might get the story finished and online before summer break. Or, if I keep having more of the ideas that have been occurring to me in the last few days, maybe not. But the plan is to continue with them every day, chunk at a time in functional plot/story pieces, until I get to the “fly into the sunset-ish” scene (which has actually evolved a bit in the last few days, too). Then I can figure out where to go from there.

          Would be interesting to know how many regular followers are reading this, if not every day, at least catching up every few days and following the story. I can see in the stats how many views a post has, but no really easy way to see how many of those are entirely unique, and not the same person making three comments and a refresh or two (for example) on any one page. I’m sure there IS a way, but I don’t know it yet, still getting used to the regular blogging thing.

          I was Army Reserve, myself. But I was always a little odd about how I did things, too.With half a four-year college degree, I went in to be enlisted, joined the Army to drive boats and floating bridges around. Often in the desert, as it turned out. Occasionally air-dropped. Packing an M-60. And at one point finding myself acting platoon sergeant as a fairly newly minted E5 on a field exercise for a river crossing, with no Lt in sight.

          • I’ve been following and, as you know, reading ahead.

            Getting the unique visitors to an individual post isn’t easy. I’m not even sure it’s possible after you take into account RSS readers since those sometimes get cached.

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  3. I’m hooked as well. Your fishing with steel cable, and I really dont see how you could break me loose at this point.

    • Thanks. Good to hear. Is your avatar a close family member, and you want to find out what happens with Quinn, or just wondering how all these threads (Helton, Lag, Harbin, Kat, Bipasha, Kwon, the Book, the Ship, the rest of the people, and the facts so far presented) all get wrapped up together?

      • My avatar is me, 22 odd years ago.

        Personally, its the universe. You’ve created a great playground, and there are so many threads, all in different directions.

        Cant wait to see how this adventure ends up, and where the next one will take us.

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  5. Personally, I’m hoping this spins off into a “Firefly”-esque ongoing series that DOESN’T get cancelled by some idiotic short-sighted moron who wouldn’t recognize a good sci-fi yarn if it settled on the pad with a maneuvering rocket spewing plasma directly over his rather soft head. But, that’s just me. 😀

    BTW, added your site to my sidebar links, now I just gotta figger out how to increase the number of sidebar links displayed, so everyone can actually *see* it.

    • If I could monetize it, I’d hope it never ends, too, but it has been a lot of work so far. It is something that COULD be turned into a series, without much problem, I’m sure, as you will see. Or, it could end and wrap up neatly in mini-series fashion easily, too.

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