"Dodger, you are in a world of shit."
My head lifted up as I tried to come to attention, my eyes verified the voice. Captain Streker, my CO on my last combat deployment.
"Sit back down. You'll have a chance to stand at attention at the Captain's Mast. That is assuming you are willing to accept Administrative Punishment."
Oh shit...what ever I did to get me here must have been really bad. The other option is most likely to be a Court Martial. One of the few blemishes I've kept off my record. I'd like to keep it that way. I hauled my aching carcasses to a parade ground attention (Goddess! That hurt. Just what did I do to myself?)
"Sir, the Lance Corporal accepts Administrative Punishment."
The Captain nodded and didn't correct my statement of rank. The first good sign since I woke up.
"Go back to sleep Dodger. An escort will be here at 0530 tomorrow. You'll get a chance to clean up before reporting."
With that, he turned away and walked out outside. I held attention for another 30 seconds to be safe, and then collapsed back on the bed. I called up the subdermal display on the inside of my left forearm. It was 1358. I knew from experience that I needed to start purging the booze and what ever else from my system now. Sleep would come later.
What ever I had done, it wasn't good and I was going to pay for my sins.
I hate Press Tours. Every night it's full dress uniforms, reciting prepared speeches, glad-handing and smiling for photo ops. If I didn't know there was a deep space tour at the end of this, I'd slit my wrists.
Not that I'd get much of a chance to. I've got two Gunnery Sergeants; size XXL, "escorting" me on this tour. Sergeants Chandaoleuang and Czekala are here to make sure I do not embarrass the Corps before I'm boosted out of the well. No booze, no loose men, and if I 'behave', I "might" be able to see a Red Sox game live.
"Your collar is fine, Lance Corporal. Don't muss it up."
"Aye, Aye. Gunnery Sergeant Czekala." She saw me reaching to tug. Can't have me looking even slightly out of picture perfect uniform for the Greater Cape Town Wymen's Social Consciousness Society and Tea Club.
I practiced my smile again reminded myself not to say "fuck", "frag", "shit", or any of the other words I've been nailed for saying in polite company. I'll be sooo glad when I can be Marine again, instead of a politically correct puppet at the end of a Navy Social Officer's strings.
So I play as hard as I fight. This is punishment above and beyond. All I did was break up two bars, educate some smart mouthed 4Fs in proper CQC, and remind some Navy pukes why they need Marines. How was I to know that that Ensign had a great-uncle on staff to the Assistant Undersecretary for Naval Procurement Oversight?
There's Lt. (j.g.) Sadikali waving me forward. Time to put the actual Marine Heroine on parade. No answers outside the playbook, keep Lt. (j.g.) Sadikali in view so I can follow is queues on when to smile, when to pause thoughtfully, and when to shut up and let him pick up the conversation flow.
A quick check to make sure all my fruit salad is on straight (all of mine is for combat, all Lt. (j.g.) Sadikali's ribbons are for knowing what fork to use and who to pass the cookies to first), and I'm off to face a bunch of idle women how can write big checks out of their husband's accounts. I'd rather board a pirate ship that was still hot.
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