"There are only two things Marines do! Either they're training to fight, or they're fighting. And like the old saying goes, if there's no enemy to fight, then you fight amongst yourselves!"
CPL. R. Osterman
USMC, Ret., Viet Nam Era
RCT. S. L. CHRISTOPHER
SS# 237 44 9013
2nd BATTALION M CO
PARRIS ISLAND, S.C., U.S.A. , EARTH
MCRD 29905, 13006
Saturday, May 5, 2086
I'm certain by now both you and your Drill Instructors have had a load of laughs over those two dozen roses I sent you. Just keep telling yourself, "I needed those extra pushups!"
Scuttlebutt around here is that your old man is still bent all out of shape because of your enlistment. He'll get over it! And I'll take as much of the heat for you that I can. But enough of the bullshit. Let's get down to business.
You've now completed Phase 2. Two thirds of the Battle of Parris Island is done. By now, 20 to 30% of the recruits you went in with have been 'honorably' asked to blow the hell out. Back in my day "casualties" ran 55 to 65%. You've had your head shaved, your ass kicked, learned that the single most important function in the universe is stripping and reassembling your 6 46 Anti-Personnel Weapon blindfolded, snapped it in a million times, and been asked a million ten times, "What makes you think you're good enough to join my Beloved Corps?" by a lunatic wearing a Smokey Bear. Talk about your good times! As crazy as it may seem to you now, I miss them.
Because you're in Phase 3, I'll assume that you've got about 20 minutes a day to yourself, so I'm shipping this stuff to you. I had to call in a few markers to get this package past the regulations, but I really thought now was the time to get this done. Call it a "pre graduation" gift.
I always felt you'd be the one to carry the family tradition on, which is why you're getting this stuff and not the Marine Museum. Feel honored—they asked! So I gave them a few choice pieces, but this stuff is family! And it's all on the "Q.T.!" Nobody is to know you've got it till well after I'm dead and gone. I don't mind being shot at, but Christ! I hate being nagged! And that's what this is all about, I suppose.
Your aunts—my "dear" sisters Queen Kong and Ming the Meaningless—refuse to let me spend my retired years hunting, fishing, chasing women of my own advanced age and drinking beer in peace unless I make up a Will. God forbid the State should get to the pie before they do!
So I did.
I never realized how much I'd put together in all those years. Don't forget. I was out in the fleet 30 of the 40 years of my tour. I never really looked at how much got stored up in those years, and how little of it I need now. So, when the time comes, they can have what they want of it and I'll go out buried in my Dress Blues—I was always proudest of the Blood Stripes. The brass will turn over every ten years or so, but the red stripe down a Sergeant's pants leg has been around almost 300 years. I think it was my realization that I was "good enough" to join my D.I.'s "Beloved Corps!" Finding out stuff like that is your responsibility now! I expect you to see that it happens.
Sam, there are important parts of a person's life that can't be put into a will. The memories, the friendships, the feelings—40 years of being a Marine. A Christopher has been part of the Corps since 1913 and all things considered, I'm glad you've taken this turn instead of letting the line be broken.
Be that as it may, as I was taking inventory I pulled these out of an old sea bag. These were the logbooks from my first non-earth tour of duty. Well, one of them is. The other is the log from the Ship's Captain. The third folder is a collection of Memos, Directives, Wizzers, and letters from that period—most of them were classified then, but now are just keepsakes long forgotten by the powers that be. They'll help you understand why I stayed for 40 years. And if you put 'em all together you'll get a really good idea of what it was like back then in the stone age, when space flight was a gamble and as usual, us Marines got the dirty end of the stick. But hell! That's the job we signed up for…
MAY 11, 2055
To: maWHA coHLI,
MALACAN CHAKI VESSEL phEY‑QUAD.
PORT KENNEDY, FLORIDA, U.S.A.
As per our conversations of 4‑24 and 5‑2, have obtained permission for formal escort personnel. As is traditional, Sergeant ROBERT S. CHRISTOPHER, USMC, will be assigned as your personal guard. It is with regret that we cannot offer further assistance as priority on sanitation and recyclable cargo hauling is low and current demands in other areas are great. I can assure you that Sergeant Christopher is most capable, as I have personally known both him and his family for nearly thirty years. In regards to the other matter, American Army General R.B. Kruasner has given permission for you to proceed to Picatinny and clear all Marine storage huts, G‑6 through N‑9, and utilize all scrap metals and other debris and non‑functional materials as per our contract for nuclear and non‑nuclear waste removal. We regret that at this time we have no fissionable materials for your removal and usage.
COLONEL A.L. GRIFFEN
UNITED STATES MARINES CORPS, Parris Island
South Carolina, USA, Earth
NON-TERRESTRIAL AID PROGRAM
It hadn’t hurt either Griffen or the alien captain, a rather strong willed fellow by the name of coHLI. Griffen found himself behind the stick of a FAA-33 Stinger again with his strange visitor in the co-pilot seat chomping at the bit to take over the controls. With his small crew of one hundred and forty safely being entertained by the United Nations, there had been plenty of time for Griffen and coHLI to begin to understand each other as primary life forces.
The greatest level at which minds met were the problems surrounding their organizations. The universe was not expanding, but had stymied at trade routes that had been well established and were relatively safe. But coHLI wanted to expand outward, to see for himself just exactly who else was out there. He was willing, even if his benefactors weren’t, to lobby for contact, for expansion. He had ground his way through the regiments of a nearly caste-like society to attain the rank of ship’s captain. He had not been assigned to a major transport, but rather a small pick-up vehicle shuttling mistakes around the outer fringes of the known galaxy.
It hadn’t taken coHLI all that long to grasp the value of what the historic Marine Corps could offer. And he was willing to make a deal!
Griffen, on the other hand, was perplexed by the traditional problem that faced his small, well-disciplined organization—the dismantling of the Corps by Congressional decree. There was too much history involved to abolish them in one stroke, so the numbers constituting a Corps were driven lower and lower. Funding followed suit. Peering down the road, Griffen could see a final absorption by the Army. This would make them Marines in name only. It would be the ending of a great era. Massive air power and two short sighted presidents were eliminating on paper the need for specialized military organization such as the USMC, regardless of what the truth of the matter might be.
Congress had cut them free from the Department of the Navy and assigned them maintenance duty as the Army flexed its muscle. There was an ugly rumor flying around that the Corps’ mainstay, the Infantry, was about to be abolished in exchange for two tire pullers and a car jockey to be named later.
But as Griffen cracked the cap on their second quart of Jack Daniels, the faint glow of hope was appearing in the distance. The little fellow sitting with his hands folded on his lap and grinning ear to ear had been hinting all afternoon about some sort of deal in the making.
OFFICE OF THE COMMANDANT
MCRD, Parris Island,
MAY 12, 2055
SERGEANT ROBERT S. CHRISTOPHER
‑ 2361308 ‑ 9003
YOU ARE HEREBY HONORABLY RELIEVED OF YOUR DUTIES AS SENIOR DRILL INSTRUCTOR, N COMPANY, AND ORDERED TO REPORT TO MALACAN CHAKI VESSEL phEY‑QUAD AS CAPTAIN'S GUARD.
YOU WILL ALSO ASSIST AS MARINE LIAISON AND METHODS INSTRUCTOR FOR CARGO TRANSPORTATION FROM PICATINNY ARSENAL TO CHAKIAN LOCATIONS DESIGNATED BY SHIP'S CAPTAIN.
YOU ARE REMINDED THAT EVEN THOUGH THE phEY‑QUAD IS CONSIDERED A FULL SIZED CRUISER, ALL RULES PERTAINING TO WEIGHT AND CONTENTS OF PERSONAL ITEMS ARE IN EFFECT.
COLONEL A.L. GRIFFEN
UNITED STATES MARINES CORPS
It had been a left-handed victory. Both he and his old friend coHLI knew that for fact. Over the last two decades they had advanced their positions, but their causes were still very much in question. Griffen was now officially the head of the number one contact organization for Extra-Terrestrial Relations, but the political powers were still tightening the screw on the Corps. He had slowed the process when the Malacan Chaki had begun trading and shipping under Marine supervision. But more than one political feather had been ruffled in the process.
coHLI had, after a number of years, been given his full size cruiser. It wasn’t what he had had in mind. They had buried him in transport. So long as his profit margin was high enough, though, he still had a job. If it flagged, he’d be back at home pushing papers over some desk in a back room. His affiliation with some enterprising earthmen kept him floating in new and unique merchandise, so he made it a point to visit the small planet as often as possible.
There was a uniquely defiant strain that ran through both of these individuals and a whole lot of plain, old-fashioned luck. They had put their heads together on more than one occasion and beaten the odds, but things were getting out of control again. The time had come for a final assault.
There was another factor coming into play. Age. The years had begun to slip by for both Griffen and coHLI. It was becoming time to turn the shop over to new keepers.