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Oh five thirty. Sandy woke up. Damn, his body clock was back to normal. The shower was on. He looked across at Abel’s bed, empty. A minute or so later Abel came out of the bathroom, still drying himself off.
“Good morning, Lieutenant. Into the shower with you now please. Your PT gear will be ready when you get out. Come on, chop-chop.”
Sandy really thought that as he was the lieutenant, every now and then he should get to give the orders. But he got up, got into the shower, and another day started.
First, the run. Of course Nellie was waiting in the corridor, bouncing on his toes. Jane was stretching.
The run wasn’t that simple. He had bodyguards now. A lead car in front and a chase car behind. Forty minutes. Quite a nice area to run in really. Twenty minutes out and then twenty minutes back.
Nellie had planned this. Sandy could tell. They went from the run to the shooting range under the house. Fired off some rounds. At least Sandy got to have a rifle, even if it was only for twenty minutes or so. Abel had never fired one before. It was five minutes before the range sergeant would even let him touch a weapon. But he got the hang of it pretty quickly. And they didn’t have to clean their rifles. Cool. “But don’t get used to it”, the range sergeant said. They’d have their personal rifles issued later on in the day. Those would be cleaned after every time they were fired, and twice a day just for the fun of it. “Not you, Sir. I see you aren’t to be issued with a rifle. Gunny’s orders.” He’d have to talk to Gunny about that. Tell him what was what. Deffo. Maybe later on. Yep, laters. Wonder if Gunny was ever in a good mood?
And then to the gym. Jane and Abel paired off for some one on one unarmed stuff, so did Nellie and Sandy. This was fun. Nellie was keen on Mixed Martial Arts. Sandy was a Muay Thai boy. Nellie was quick, and bigger. Excellent fun, sparring. Sandy just had to make sure Nellie got no chance for a takedown. On the ground Nellie’s weight was a big advantage.
Showers back in their rooms. Into uniform, and down to breakfast at oh seven forty-five. Someone had given Abel one of those pesky tablet things.
“Lieutenant, I see you are down for a meeting at the Senator’s place at oh nine hundred hours. Corporal Afa has left me a note to check that you can find your way there.”
‘Course I can, it’s just next door.’
“Then this afternoon 1RR is to meet some visiting Australians. Oh, it’s a television crew came to film the big game tomorrow. Hey, I know him. Tom Bishop. And Bill Silver, Bushie, he’s coming too. And Dan Goldman from Maori television.”
‘What are you guys doing while I’m having my meeting?’
“It sounds like fun. We’re getting personal weapons issued. Then joining the rest of the platoon for individual weapons training. You wouldn’t like it. Grenades. Rocket launchers. Flame throwers. Stuff like that. Not officer stuff.”
Sandy was feeling just a little on the grumpy side as he walked up to the Senator’s door. He cheered up when he remembered the door had been blasted a couple of nights ago. Fixed now.
Once again the Senator opened the door for Sandy.
“Come in, come in. I was hoping we could have a few words.”
They went into the dining room, but the Senator showed Sandy to a couple of comfy chairs by a coffee table in the corner.
“I wanted to talk to you about the television crew arriving on the plane this afternoon. This is another Dreamliner. They will have been treated well. But the real cargo is one hundred and twenty ILFS, Cylons, HAL is bringing over to send to the New World.”
Sandy was surprised. It showed.
“It has been a bit of a secret. HAL has a manufacturing plant in Western Sydney. We own a few old mines there, and it has been really quite easy to set up a research laboratory focused on producing robots for use in mining. I haven’t seen these ones. They are going to be HAL’s design. I just hope it’s not a whole hive of bumblebees. Nothing should go wrong. I understand that HAL will tell them when the television guys have left and they can get out of their crates.
Oh, by the way, I have a meeting with President Trump tomorrow night, twenty thirty in Washington. That should be interesting.
Anyway, that’s it from me. I’ll let you get back to your men. Should be a fun morning. Blowing some things up and burning other things down. I better call in on Red. He hasn’t slept since we got back. That man is absolutely determined to ramp up anti-toxin production. Oh, one last thing. What do you think of the Gooch and the Choo?”
‘They’re allgood. Why?’
“Just keep an eye open for me, will you? The Choo seem to be becoming quite hostile to the Alphas. You have probably noticed the way they butcher the spoken language?”
‘Yeah, I quite like it.’
“When they are under pressure, in combat for example, their language is fine. I think they butcher the language on purpose. And I was surprised by how angry Corporal Dave was in that interview. Anyway, enjoy the rest of your morning.”
It was fun. Grenades were OK. Flamethrowers were excellent. But the rocket launchers were best. Easy as to use. You put it onto your shoulder, flicked up the sighting window, lined up the target, and pulled the trigger. Soldier-proof. Really good backflame too. And those old trucks and stuff they were aiming at in the fields. Sure made them bounce around.
Abel, Nellie and Sandy were still talking about it over lunch. Jane was really excited as well. This morning she’d flown a helicopter, a real helicopter, for the first time.
The afternoon sounded a bit flat in comparison. Jane was pretty good, she was back in a flight simulator. But Sandy had to go to the airport to meet the league commentators from Australia. So did Nellie. Both teams were to have afternoon tea with them. Abel was coming along too. It meant Sandy had to wear his number ones. Official like. Repping the unit. Nellie and the teams got to wear tracksuits.
She’s a cruel thing sometimes, life.
Back to the airport. It was kinda fun sitting up front with the truck driver. Not so good that Abel was sitting beside him with his personal weapon, a rifle. Yep, Sandy thought, I’m really going to have to tell Gunny what’s what about that. Deffo.
The television guys were allgood. Tom Bishop wasn’t any bigger than Abel.
Old Bushie, Bill Silver, had been a player and a great coach, the most successful New South coach of all time.
Dan Goldman, from television in New Ziland was fine too. He came across for a chat with Sandy and Abel.
“So, I guess you two aren’t in the team.”
‘Nah, we’re not. Rugby league’s not my game. Not big enough.’
“I’ve never played. My father wouldn’t let me.”
“You sound like a New Zilander. Where are you from?”
“Auckland. Only got here yesterday.”
Dan gave Abel a long look. “Don’t tell me. Are you the boy that escaped?”
“Yep, that’s me. On the run. In the army now though.”
“What do you think of it so far?”
“It’s been cool. I’ve made friends with Nellie. He’s a bit crazy, but allgood. Sandy’s pretty good too. Mind you, I’ve got to say that. He’s my boss, and he’s standing right here next to me. And he rescued me.”
“Was that you? The young chap in the excellent suit?”
‘Yeah. That was me.’
“Well, small world, eh?”
‘If you don’t mind me asking, how come you guys are here?’
“I’m not really sure. Bushie got the call and decided he was coming over. He got hold of Tom. My bosses heard about it, and got me a place too. No idea what kind of game it’s going to be.”
‘It’s going to be a good one. We watch the NRL over here. It’s about the only sport we do watch. The Gooch love it. We played it a lot at school.’
“Are you guys any good at the game?”
‘I reckon we are. But we’ll see what youse think tomorrow. What are you doing tonight?’
“We have been invited to watch the defenders’ gym session. Then we’re having dinner with them, before we catch up with your guys after the captain’s run. Your captain, Max, didn’t want us filming the captain’s run. Anyway, I better dash. I see the Senator and General Dean are here.”
After a while the teams left, taking the television guys with them.
HAL arrived. The Cylon ILFs started emerging from the rear of the plane.
“Oh what?” Sandy overheard the Senator. “They’re exactly out of Battlestar Galactica.”
“Yes, Senator. I thought about painting them in Bumblebee colors, but they’re fine like this. We’ll just pop along to the gate. I’ll be gone for an hour or so.”
They were. Cylon centurions, straight out of Battlestar Galactica. Dull silver in color. Two legs, two arms, a head, but quite clearly robots, not human.
Then they were gone. They were quick.
“Well, Gunny, that should speed up construction.”
“Agreed, Senator. All the Gooch and Choo who are leaving are now on the other side. With the ILFs through too, all we are doing for the next twenty-six days is transporting goods and materials, and humans.”
“And we have enough of those. We’ve been buying stuff up for the last twenty years. Pleased to get rid of it.”