In the 26th century, man traverses the stars much as he did the depths of the ocean so many centuries before.
Technology has changed, the means by which men wage war have changed, but men themselves have changed not at all. Fighting men especially. Join the Marines, travel to new planets, meet interesting people, kill some of them.
For the Marines embarked aboard the dreadnought USS Hawaii, life is boredom punctuated by moments of insanity and terror. But not all is bad for these Marines it does include the Liberty calls made by the Hawaii whenever she makes port at the various planets in her sector of responsibility.
The 15th has arrived, heralding military pay day. And Hawaii is about to make port. Lieutenant James “Coon” Lee, company XO and Gunny Sergeant Jackson “Mormon” Strong are expected to provide a Liberty Brief for the Marines under their care.
Normally such affairs are serious in nature, but Gunny Mormon has learned the need for humor and reality in these scenarios. When they enter the hangar where the company is assembled, undergoing uniform inspections conducted by the NCOs, the men become excited. They’ve been stuck aboard the Hawaii in Transit Space for the last 57 days. All these men want is a fresh meal, a soft bed, cold booze and a warm woman.
“Make a box my goons!”
In a moment, the company gets up close and personal to their Gunny.
“Leaper, come here sailor.”
The old salts are smiling, the boots look confused as a sailor in his Crackerjacks and Dixie Cup hat falls out and comes within a few feet of the gunny.
“Yes Gunnery Sergeant?”
It is an old game between the men and the gunny. Leaper is a non-standard member of the company, serving as their electronic communications tech. Leaper’s greatest weakness is his willingness to engage in pranks and shenanigans. The enlisted men use him as a sounding board for their latest tomfoolery. Leaper, ever so adventurous, is all too willing to go along this insanity. Leaper’s physical punishment is a reminder for the whole company that Gunny sees all, knows all, and cannot be outwitted.
“Gentlemen, I am curious. Indeed I do wonder, just what prophylactics were your fathers using when they entered your mothers’ holy of holies? Because frankly, they should have gotten a refund.”
There are looks of confusion, but nobody says anything.
“Chief Waters called me this morning. It seems that somebody left dye packs in the water system. Over half the naval complement of this ship is now dyed red. Skin, hair, the whole shebang. Not just red, like an apple. We’re talking Georgia Bulldog, flag-waving in front of a bull RED.”
He glances at Leaper, who is paused in the upright position.
“Oh does somebody need a break? That’s fine Leaper. You can take a break.”
Gratefully Leaper starts to stand.
“Did I say recover?” Gunny barks. “You get a break from push-ups. Mountain climbers, begin!”
As Leaper’s legs begin to alternate moving forward and backward, Gunny turns his attention back to the rest of the company. “Now, dye packs are an old trick. But red is a very specific color. Does anybody happen to know what school our Captain graduated from?”
“The University of Tennessee. We just took a man who worships the University of Tennessee, wears a particular shade of orange, and surrounded him with the one color he hates the most. You idiots.”
“Now I know what you’re all thinking — ‘How does Gunny know?’. Simple kiddies. I’m Gunny Mormon, and unlike you clown shoes-wearing mouth-breathers, I don’t spend my off-time playing whack-jack. And if I was going to pick a group of individuals capable of pulling this off, I think I know my Marines well enough to believe you’re the only people aboard ship with the brains to make this happen. Well done bypassing the security interlocks by the way. The Master at Arms still hasn’t figured out how you did it. I suspect you’d need at least one good electronics whiz. Matter of fact, I’d look no further than the one behind me making wheezing sounds like a two-legged hippo with emphysema.
The grins were more obvious now.
“We are going to get off this floating fornication barge, and head down to the planet below. While you are on liberty, remember some very important things.
1) no robbery. Simple. Nuff said.
2) no arson. If you boots want to know why, ask your seniors what happened when we were on Durma. Lieutenant Coon’s chest hair is still growing back.
3) no narcotics. Mary Jane will wait for your enlistment to end. I promise. When you get out of uniform, light up a bowl and have fun. But so long as you wear the uniform of my Marine Corps, do not touch her. We don’t have room for that.
4) avoid payday loan places. 300% interest after 2 weeks is not a great bargain.
5) no getting married. You will not let your Libo buddy get married, no matter what. He is in lust, not love. I don’t care if you have to beat his ass and get thrown in the hoosegow- no marriage. I will bail you out myself if that’s what happened, and you will never see an NJP for it.
6) do not start fights, unless it’s to prevent marriage. I hate paperwork
7) do not lose fights. I refuse to listen to the division Chiefs brag about how badass their crackerjack sporting live-wire licking retards are. I want them to look at me with fear and respect in their eyes because we ended up in the brig, they got sent to sickbay.”
8) no buying green dye so you can make the E4 from Weapons division with the Dolly Parton figure look like an Orion Slave girl.”
There is silence as Gunny studies his men. For all that he harangues them, he knows their worth, and they know his great devotion to them.
With his arms shaking from the physical exertion, Leaper stands, sweating profusely and breathing hard.
“We will reconvene at 0800 in three days’ time. Turn to Liberty immediately dismissed!”