Now we meet the other players in this charade. Wil’s chosen his team, now they must assemble. Can he manage to whip such a disparate bunch into shape? Oh, ye of little faith–this is Wil we’re talking about!
Adam Krall slung his duffel bag over his left shoulder and picked up a ruck sack with his right hand. Travel light, huh? Bullshit, never could travel light! Too much shit to carry.” The tall, dark skinned man shifted uneasily, trying to ease his toes in the tight new boots.
“Slap a new rank on a man, try to make him feel important. It’s all bullshit.”
He headed toward the docking bay where a shuttle waited for him. He strapped in, leaning his head back so he could take a nap while he waited for the trip to be over.
“Bullshit,” he muttered.
* * *
“How much on there?” Lance Freedrick leaned over the barbells, looking at the weights.
“Two seventy-five,” the other man answered, glancing up at Lance.
He froze, suddenly terrified. Lance was nearly eight feet tall, broad as a barn and built like a stone wall. He had muscles in places the other guy would have paid real money to own. His abs doubled as a washboard and he could bend a steel rebar one-handed. His platinum blond hair was cropped short and his blue eyes twinkled from his well tanned face.
“Go ahead,” Lance gestured toward the weights. “Didn’t mean to interrupt. I’ll spot you.” He flashed a friendly smile.
The other man looked intimidated, but took his position. With difficulty, he raised the weights to his chest, broke out in a sweat, turned red in the face and dropped the weights on the platform. Breathing hard and rubbing his arms, he stepped back right into Lance. Smiling apologetically, he moved out of the way.
“Mind if I have a go?”
“Sure, help yourself.”
Lance stooped and began adding weights to the bar. The other man’s eyes grew wider with each addition.
“How much you got on there?”
Lance looked casually at the bar. “Oh, around seven fifty.”
Taking his stance, he lifted the bar, the weight on the ends causing it to sag slightly. After a clean jerk, he put the bar carefully back down on the floor.
“Thanks!” He patted the smaller man on the shoulder and moved to another station.
The man shook his head in disbelief, staring at the weights Lance had so casually raised.
“Completely took to shame,” he muttered.
* * *
Billy Wallace sat watching a Tri-D action vid, stuffing popcorn into his mouth.
“This is the best part!” He said loudly, popcorn falling out of his half open mouth. “Just look!” He slapped the fellow next to him.
The other Marine eyed him carefully, deciding whether to take offense. He shifted his weight, scooting further away from the overly excited Wallace and focused again on the movie.
Billy stood, spilling the rest of his popcorn, striking a pose like the actor on screen. “By the power of Thor, god of thunder, I swear!” He said in unison with the actor.
Laughing hoarsely, Billy flopped back down on the couch. “Cool! I fuckin’ love this movie!”
Billy Wallace was a distant descendant of the brave Scottish warrior, William Wallace. Unlike his forefather, he wasn’t wild about battles, but since the military had fiddled with his DNA, he could do nothing else. Still a country boy at heart, he drank heavily, swore too much and chewed tobacco. The guys in his platoon called him Red Neck.
The comlink beside him beeped. He answered it distractedly, eye still glued to the screen. “Yeah, 23rd, Wallace. Go ahead.” He groaned when the hero got kneed in the crotch by the female, would-be love interest.
“Stand up straight when you talk to me, grunt!” The voice of command was unmistakable.
“Yes, sir!” Billy leaped to his feet, saluting the console.
The others in the room followed suit automatically as the visual flickered on. Their salute was returned casually as if the officer couldn’t be bothered by formalities.
“Which one of you sorry, low life bastards is Wallace?”
The Marine next to him pointed and Billy Wallace took a step forward, saluting smartly, even if he was in his skivvies.
“That would be me, sir!”
Ben eyed him critically. “You always watch a vid in your underwear, squid?”
“No, sir, Lieutenant. It’s just wash day, sir,” he concluded lamely.
“At ease.” The men relaxed into their stance. “Wallace, get your gear, you’ve been tapped for a special ops. You’ll be picked up at 1800. That gives you forty-five minutes to pack and get to the shuttle pad. Pilot has your orders.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir!” He saluted again, relieved when the comlink clicked off. “Special ops?” He scratched his head. “I knew I shouldn’t have taken those specialty classes.
Throwing his gear together, he grabbed his only clean uniform, wondering how to cope with his wet laundry. “Hell, y’all send that to me later, okay?”
One of the others nodded agreement. “Hey, Red Neck,” he called after Billy. “Be careful, man!”
Billy turned and grinned, his shiny shaven head reflecting a small puddle of lamp light. “Will do! Don’t wanna mess up my hair! Their laughter followed him as he walked quickly into the night.