She knelt down on the shuttle’s deck and then worked over a soldier’s armor. Sheesh, what in the world were the instructors teaching? The way they were telling the kids to prepare their armor would get them killed in less than thirty seconds!
“That’s not how you do it,” she said with a sigh. “Do it that way and the splinters from a shell can penetrate your armor.”
Dirrnyg blushed. “I’m sorry, mom.”
She glared at him for a moment. “Thought I told you to listen to me or your aunts?”
“Dirrnyg, this isn’t a place for trying to impress me by being macho. Nothing in training will match what you’re going to see. There’s nothing honorable in combat. It’s a killing field, and one that I wish I could’ve kept you from.”
He looked at her and flashed a confident smile that only a young and inexperienced rookie could make. “I’m ready for it, Mom. Trust me.”
Talia set her rifle on the floor beside her and then sighed. Why did she acquiesce to his desire to be in the military? He should be back home playing college baseball and dating the girls not on this shuttle. And what made things worse? She could’ve told him no and he’d never been able to join any of the branches. So, why didn’t she?
Maybe it came from the desire to have him close. It really wasn’t fair that she was gone for weeks, or months, at a time, leaving him to be cared for by the other parents. None of them were going to survive anyway, so might as well let him fight with her. At least they could spend that time together.
I just need to keep him alive.
“What are your orders?”
“I’m to stay with fire team Alpha and cover you,” he said. “I read the report. We’re going to blow the Dragus supply dump, which will slow down their advance in this sector.”
“Hey!” She chided him. “Listen up! Those reports are nothing compared to the tricks I know these guys have up their sleeves.”
“Don’t ‘yes, Mom’ me,” she said. “I want you back on the ship after this is over, so you’d better listen up.”
Dirrnyg stopped smiling, all sense of bravado gone, and he leaned forwards. Took long enough to get through that block of wood the instructors loved to put in the recruits’ heads instead of brains. Why did those men and women think foolish overconfidence equaled great military training?
“They’re not going to make this easy on us,” she said. “Even though intelligence claims there are no forces here, I know better. There’ll be a brigade covering the facility, which means it’ll take a bit of work to get inside.”
“I want you to stay behind me at all times. You’ve never been fired at before, so it’ll be a shock.”
“And for Cheikra’s sake, keep your head down!”
He smiled slightly. “I got that one handled.”
She checked her chronometer and then stood up. “Listen up people! Thirty seconds before we reach the LZ! Recon! You lead the way and establish the path. Fire team Alpha, you’re with me. Beta, you’re with Methos, and Delta you’re with Crios.”
“For those of you who are new,” she looked at Dirrnyg and then at the fifteen other rooks they’d sent. “You might’ve been big shots in Basic, but this is the major leagues now. Things are fast and deadly. Listen and you have a good chance to survive. But I have one last command to give you.
“Don’t get killed.”