First of all, EXODUS (ebook edition) is currently FREE, so if you know anyone who might be interested, you should tell them about it! Here´s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Exodus-Trilogy-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00AI9BMHS/
Alright, let´s turn back to RIFT. The final scene has been written, and in about a week it´s going off to my editor. But for now, you can follow the process here, first draft. Expect the final version to be very different, I´m just saying.
Now that Sue is no longer an initiate, she is about to transfer to another camp. So let´s see how that goes.
RIFT - Scene 22
The next day, while Tac Hordvik led them through contact drill, fine tuning their moves, making them act like a single organism, Sub Meridian Hoston came over. He stood there for a moment, watching them practice, before he waved them over. They lined up beside the tacticus.
«Tacticus Hordvik, it is time for the transfer.» Hordvik straightened, and the Sub Meridian continued to read their new placements from a computer pad/ tablet (select word- use throughout). Sue was to go to the Westfold Brigade with Julian and Keisha, while Quinn was being sent east to the coast, to join the Kosmopol Brigade.
They ended practice at lunchtime, and after eating, Sue went to pack her belongings. She was happy about the outcome. She got to stay with her friends, and although she got along well enough with Quinn these days, she wouldn´t consider him a friend. She would miss the tacticus though. After getting to know him better, and having listened to him at Survivor Night, she had grown to respect him even more.
When she entered the barracks, she started. Tac Hordvik stood by her bunk, waiting.
«Susan.» he said, and she walked in. She didn´t know what to say, so she just waited for him to speak.
«The Westfold Brigade is a good unit. And you will do well there.» he said.
«Sure.» she said. She had no idea whether the Westfold Brigade was a good unit or not. «Actually, I´m not even sure where it is, Westfold.»
«Westfold is the westernmost part of the northern borderlands of the Covenant. In fact, if you go south from Westfold, you will reach Warden territory. As far as I know our people don´t have much to do with them though, even out in Westfold. But I´m sure I don´t know half of what happens out there.» He said. Then he looked at his watch.
«I have to go now. Counselor Novak made me realize something, and I have accepted a placement with the Strategos Command back in Legacy. I might be back later though, if it gets too boring.» Sue smiled back at him, and realized this might be the last time she saw him. Tac Hordvik had taught her everything she knew, and now they were both going in their separate directions. She straightened, and slammed her fist to chest.
«It´s been an honor, Sir.» she said. He did the same, a bit more slowly, before he spoke.
«The honor is all mine, Atlas.» Then he smiled again, before he turned and walked away.
Sue didn´t waste much time packing. She didn´t have much to pack anyway.
Five minutes later she was on her way to the train platform with Julian and Keisha. It was strange, the last time she had gone by train had been with a friend as well, but this time there was none of the uncertainty. Sure, she felt the excitement, and wondered how her new unit would be, what kind of commander she would get and what sort of tasks she would get. And there was always the uncertainty of knowing that at any time, she could be sent on a mission that ended badly. Janissary casualty rates was known to be high, that´s why nobody expected janissaries to serve beyond their mandatory three years. But she had done well at Camp Sharpe, and she had been to combat, where she had done even better. She still felt a pang of regret thinking of the woman she had shot, but everyone kept telling her she wasn´t to blame, and that there was nothing she could have done differently. So she tried not to think too much about it.
The train ride was much faster than the last time too. The maglev lines going from east to west was designed to carry troops and supplies quickly to wherever they were needed. So after two hours, the train came to a stop and everyone walked off and stepped out onto the platform.
«Over here, Janissaries.» a tacticus shouted from behind the platform proper. They walked over. Sue wondered whether to come to attention or salute. Regulation said they should, but there was something about the woman, a casual style and a somewhat relaxed smile, that made her hesitate. Julian did though, and the tacticus laughed.
«Yeah yeah,» she said, «you can quit that now. This ain´t Camp Sharpe. Here we do things a bit differently.» Sue cocked her head, noticing the smell. Sweet. She had another look at the woman, and noticed the look on her face. It wasn´t just her being relaxed or a more laid back attitued around camp. Her pupils were slightly dilated, and the she had a dumb smile on her face. She was affected by something, Sue realized.
«So welcome to Camp Gustavson. Let´s get you bunked up, shall we?» the tacticus said. «Follow me.»
The three of them followed the tacticus to a building toward the center of camp. Inside, she noticed the no smoking signs.
«See that?» the tacticus said. «No smoking.» She giggled.
«So keep it outside, alright? And if you need anything, and I mean anything, I´m right over there, in Supply. Just ask for Anna.» She pointed at a nearby building, where a stack of crates were being carried inside by a group of janissaries.
«Alright then…» she continued, looking down at her pad, searching with her finger until she found what she was looking for.
«We go by first names here, okay?» she looked down again.
«Keisha and Julian, you are housed in here. Just grab a free bunk, there should be plenty. Most of the guys in this room got caught up in an ambush last week. Those who made it won´t be coming back here, so just make yourselves at home.» Sue saw the stunned looks on her friends before they went inside. Anna didn´t wait for them, and continued walking. They reached a room at the back of the building, and went inside.
A lean fellow got up from his chair, and extended his hand.
«Rory Sanders.» he said. Sue took his hand and shook it.
«Susan Atlas.» she said.
Although not very muscular, he looked wiry and strong, with a firm jaw and a mustache that made him similar to Tac Hordvik, in an odd way. From his looks she could have sworn he was Moon people, but the name gave him up as just a regular guy from some small town, like her.
«So, I trust you take good care of her, Rory. Let her know what´s what and who´s who.» The tacticus turned to Sue.
«And don´t let him be too strict. He´s a third year vet, but you still outrank him. If you wanna come smoke, you do that, no matter what he tells you. You may need it, even if he don´t.» Sue nodded at her, before Anna turned and walked away.
Rory motioned toward one of the bunks.
«Get yourself situated, Sub Tacticus. The rest of the guys are having dinner so they´ll be back in about an hour.» Sue walked over and put her pack on a bunk that seemed unoccupied. She noticed Rory watching her, and turned toward him.
«So when do I meet my unit? Is this it? This room, I mean.» He nodded.
«We don´t usually get the green ones.» he said, looking her up and down.
«Green as grass, but already a Sub Tacticus. And assigned here, to the QRF. You must be special.» He looked honestly surprised, now that Sue noticed. So he hadn´t seen the show then, thankfully.
«QRF?» she asked. Rory smiled.
«Quick Reaction Force. If something happens, we´re the first to go. And something does happen around here.» He motioned toward the door.
«The Westfold Brigade is a pretty good unit, and we see our share of action. You might have got the wrong impression though, from her. It´s the kissweed from down south that messes people up. Look at Anna, Moon blood and all, she could have had anything. Instead, she choose to stay, doing a shit job, high more often than not. Probably disowned by her family, I mean, she´s been her for as long as anyone can remember. But for some reason the officers never crack down on it. Seems they think it´s alright for some reason. Shit.» he shook his head, but didn´t say anything more.
Sue hadn´t seen anything like kissweed at Camp Sharpe, but then again, that was a training unit. These guys saw combat all the time. She could figure some of them needed to unwind, although she wondered if there wasn´t better ways than by smoking kissweed. She changed the subject.
«So I´m supposed to be part of this QRF then. Is there some kind of training or something I have to go through first?» Rory grinned.
«Sure. As soon as we can get you suited up and get us a mission, we´ll go out there and train. And you´d better learn, Sub Tacticus. Else you die.» Sue nodded slowly. She had figured as much, but she had to ask.
«Ever wondered why us janissaries got the highest casualty rates?» Rory said. «We have a pretty straightforward selection routine, that´s what it is. You get through Camp Sharpe, you get thrown into the water. Sink or swim, live or die. A lot of people die.» He leaned back, rocking back and forth on two of the chair´s legs.
«You´re lucky though. The QRF got the toughest assignments, but we´re also the best unit in camp. And that´s not just something I´m saying. If you´re going swimming in the deep waters, having competent people around you can make all the difference. We´re pretty serious, you´ll see. And none of us smoke either.» Sue finally smiled. She found she liked the man.
«Sounds good.» she said. «Just one thing, and let me assure you, this is just because I´m curious, not because I´m planning to be the first smoker in the QRF. That kissweed, you said it comes from the south. You mean Covenant south? I´m from the south, Charlestown, and I´ve just barely heard of it. Or did you mean Corpus lands?» Rory shook his head.
«No no, not that far. I meant Warden territory. They bring in supplies all the time, Weapons, ammo, high tech gadgets of every kind. Kissweed. Other stuff.» Sue raised her eyebrows. She had no idea. She thought of Dave, from back home, who had gone to the Wardens after she talked his way out from being sent to the Corpus. What on Earth was going on down there?
RIFT will soon be released.
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