When I first started writing this series I was expecting one or two episodes. Now though I am much more drawn into the idea and have a plan for how to carry it forward through several dozen episodes. If you have not seen any of Jamison’s other adventures you should probably go back to last week, where I linked each of the previous chapters. Last weeks episode was Dibolocos Attack. Follow that link back if you need to read the story from the beginning. This week, chapter five called Departure Orders, begins below
The next morning the men were fed in their quarters. Then they were ordered to wear their dress uniforms and were marched out to the parade deck. Standing at full attention in ceremonial order they were given departure orders.
The officer in charge was a commander he had seen in the dining hall prior to the attack, but Jamison didn’t know his name. Apparently he didn’t care for the formalities of introducing himself. He launched right into giving the commands. They were pretty standard for the Colonial Defense Forces.
Each man would be given one month of paid shore leave as well as full pay for their time off world. They would be rich, although probably not for long.
Within the first twenty four hours they would have to be interviewed by a Med/Psych Officer. The MPO might require more appointments during the month. By the end of leave they would have to make a decision as to whether to join the civilian workforce or to continue serving in the CDF. But, the MPO could override their decision if they felt necessity required it.
When the commander was done, he did not give the customary dismissal order. Instead he ordered them to wait for additional informations from Captain Colofer.
Jamison’s knees unconsciously lost tension and bent forward, but he caught it and snapped them back straight before falling. He became aware his hands were trembling and pressed them into his legs for a minute to steady them. This left a damp handprint on each of his legs.
Two enlisted men opened the doors and in walked Captain Colofer. He felt anger, abundant amounts of it. She was his scapegoat. Jamison blamed her for everything related to this war they did not choose.
Her speech was not long. She spoke aloud rather than speaking into their minds. She was encouraging the men to align themselves with the Kilkians. Each person would make a personal choice. They would not be under orders to align, nor would government instruct them how to choose.
Jamison wasn’t really listening. He considered it the details of a battle he did not wish to be a part of. He had parents and siblings waiting back home, He had time to make a new life. He could be a farmer, or maybe he would join the mines. Only thing he was sure of was he would not join the family business and become a retailer.
Colofer’s tone sounded as if she was about done. “The choice is yours, but understand this, if you fail to choose, if you try to remain neutral you will, in fact, be aligning with the Dibolocos. If any of you wish to make the choice to align with us now, you may indicate your choice by taking a step forward.”
Not a single man among the seven survivors stepped forward. Jamison wasn’t surprised. In his mind aligning with the Kilkians would be like accepting a suicide mission.
Colofer seemed to slump a little, she turned and looked at the commander and he gave the order to be dismissed. The men immediately turned to gather their few belongings and head to the shuttle.
On the way down into the atmosphere the men began to talk casually among themselves. For the first time since being picked up there was humor, bravado, even laughter. Jamison didn’t laugh, he didn’t even talk, but the sound made by the others returning to normal behaviors made him feel good.
He was coming home.