Posted 02 January 2019 - 03:44 AM
"I know who you are."
Two men, the signs of age beginning to show--a bald patch on one, a shallow network of wrinkles on the other--yet somehow young. Both wear suits, conservative in trim yet subtly expensive; quality clothes. One stands in the glass doorway of the multinational business he founded, the other before an elegant luxury automobile of his own. These men are rich, but not only in material wealth.
They shake. Both are right-handed. Both wear tattoos on their right hands; one is an X over a blue circle. . .
"Squadder Jeff Patterson," smiles the visitor.
The other wears the astronomical sign of Mars.
"Sergeant Jack Rawlings. Please come in; I've been expecting you."
They walk into the building's lobby. On the far wall, in ten foot high gold lettering are the words: RAWLINGS SECURITY. There are men and women here; they pause in their tasks and nod to their boss. He is short, wears scars over his cheek, eyes, and the crown of his head--he keeps his hair cropped very short--and lacks much of one ear. But he is not ugly, if only for the fact that he is very rich.
"Nice place you've built," praises Patterson. He carries a briefcase. The guards at the elevator do not take him aside and examine it.
"Beats wasting away at the VA," replies Rawlings. He is melancholic. "But don't think that I came up with the capital myself--no, I have to thank a lot of the guys back at Kansai for that. . ."
"Only thing to do, only thing to do," answers Patterson. It was the same at his base.
Due to the large number of soldiers without close relatives or civilian love interests, the majority of XCOM personnel willed their back pay to the best friends they had ever had--their squadmates, officers, and subordinates.
Those who survived became very, very wealthy.
Rawlings and Patterson step into the elevator.
"I read Crusade," mentions Rawlings. "Best damn book written on the topic, and that's including Bob's."
"Thanks, but Flannery's book is very spiritual."
"Bob wasn't a normal dogface like us. He only saw a little ground action--he was a flyboy. I think you book covers the ground combat aspect, the only one which mattered, far better than anyone else, especially all these civilian authors."
Patterson blushes slightly. He is modest.
The door opens and the two walk out, through a large floor divided into dozens of work areas; hundreds of employees scramble about, receiving or filling orders of all types. They do not stop their work in the presence of Rawlings.
"Business good?" inquires Patterson.
"The business of providing protection to the world is always good," smiles Rawlings. He has changed.
"Ten thousand rounds standard nine-millimeter ammunition?" asks a nearby clerk into his headset. "I don't care if we have to buy from those guys! Get me those crates!"
Patterson nods, as if in thought. He has changed also.
The two men arrive in a small conference room. Rawlings offers Patterson a chair and sits nearby.
"So, I assume that you're working on another documention."
"That I am."
Rawlings nods in agreement. Patterson hauls out a personal computer. He opens its screen and touches a RECORD button on its screen.
"If you don't mind," he asks.
"Certainly not," replies Rawlings. "But first I have some questions of my own."
"Why did you decide to do this-" the businessman waves his hand at the computer. "Normally, that's the job of civilians--not that I think you shouldn't, I certainly hope I made my appreciation clear- "
Patterson smiles. He gets this question often.
"Well, as you may or may not know, I got my leg blown off in the second landing I participated in--sometime around oh two. That was when the bugs first came out with those damn heavy plasmas."
"I happened to like those heavy plasmas," chuckles Rawlings.
Patterson shrugs. "Yeah, I guess they were decent for nailing bugs. But they were just as good at punching through light armor. And I lost a leg to one."
Patterson taps his right calf. It sounds metallic.
Rawlings raises an eyebrow and taps his right shoulder. It makes no unusual noise.
It is Patterson's turn to raise an eyebrow.
"Nanotech. New biotech company--taking advantage of the UN's drop of the cloning ban. I suggest you get some money on that pony."
Rawlings hands Patterson a business card. The author runs its metallic strip through his laptop's magnetic reader and hands it back.
"Anyway, I spent the rest of the war on my back in a ward. Not very exciting, but I did get to thinking, which has always been a vice of mine, that perhaps I should write down everything I remember from the war. So, I wrote quite a bit, and managed to get Crusade published right after Cydonia."
Rawlings looks away.
"Cydonia," he mutters.
Patterson is silent for a moment.
"I didn't mean to start off on that subject; I know you lost a good commander there-"
"A good commander? Hell, he won the damn war."
Patterson doesn't argue with Rawlings.
"I'm going back there, some day, when the lab rats get a decent replica of an Avenger running. Personally, I can't see why they haven't already."
"Military," answers Patterson.
"Bah, military shmilitary. Okano and his boys built one of the damn things--from scratch--in less than a month. Or was it a Donner? I forget."
"Well, before you forget it all, I'd like to get what you do remember. . ."
My X-COM Patch Kit For UFO Defense | Emergency XCOM Meeting spoof on YouTube
Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!