3/25 & 4/1/00
207 to 245 - 1122.
As the days pass in a flurry of activity, many loose ends are taken care of.
Max will be going back to Rhylanor for a while, and the Navy surgeon there will determine if he can be returned to duty or will receive a medical discharge due to the severity of his spinal injury. Amanda spends as much time as possible by his bedside, but she can't make the trip with him because of her other duties.
Viktor will be returned to Vera Cruz to assist the new commander, General Rik Schaelik (Sengi), and then he will be off to assist in the investigation of the events. About 400 men survived from the 122nd, not including their CO, so the division is being pulled back to be rebuilt. A Sengi kaeleir will be brought in, which will probably be a bit of a culture shock for the Vargrs.
Following his stay in the hospital, Geoff is scheduled for two months leave. Ezbeki, on the other hand, is perfectly fit for return to duty, despite him having been skewered. Geoff tries to get him reassigned to him, but Ezbeki outranks him. Ezbeki writes orders as Colonel Ezbeki, assigning Corporal Ezbeki to Captain Thompson, and writing up orders for Corporal Ezbeki to have two months leave, with the date open so Ezbeki can have the time off with Geoff.
Before leaving Vera Cruz, Viktor has another unpleasant surprise in store for him. He wakes up with people in white around him and a bright white light; the last thing he remembers is walking in a field and pointing out areas to some one. Doctor: "You're going to be all right sir. You've just bought the big ticket home." (Severe pelvic injuries, and they didn't find his leg, so that's going to have to be regrown.) Katarina comes in to see Viktor, and while she appears to be nothing but concerned, Viktor figures that some where inside, she's smirking. Katarina: "Everything will be all right, they said there won't be any permanent damage. But you will be discharged, I'm sorry." Viktor: "Don't give me that - you're loving this, I can tell."
Grand Admiral Grey pays Viktor a surprise visit in the hospital. Grey: "Well, it was a disaster. A total disaster. But you did what you could and you went down swinging, and that's all that can be expected of anyone." Viktor's offered the position of head of logistics for all Marine forces in the 10th Naval District. He'll have a nice command, and will have people below him, but it's a desk job. He manages to track down McLafferty and Vlickelplesterb, and he wants them assigned to him. McLafferty isn't sure that's what he wants though, as the Sengi have made him an offer to go to their homeworld and train them, and he's heard "a man can live like a king there". Vlickelplesterb, having returned all lean and mean from his days as a guerilla with McLafferty, has requested a transfer to a front line unit. Suzette Dowlin, Viktor's S2, did not survive the action on Vera Cruz, and McLafferty gives Viktor her dog tags. McLafferty: "Hell of an officer, sir, she went down swinging." (It's a Marine thing.)
No one knows at first what happened to Lt. General Marx. No body was found, so speculation was that she was dead, or a captive of the Vargrs. And the buffered planetoid got away - either it jumped or blew up. The silver Vargr, General Gorven, isn't cooperating. The Imperials have turned down the Sengi offer to interrogate him. (Darn.) They will not be charging him with war crimes, as this would mean other things would come to light that might be an embarrassment to the Imperium (like a little incident with General Androchev); no one really wants to hear about that, even as part of the court martial investigation. Eventually the Vargrs will make contact and offer to trade the live Lt. General Marx for Gorven, and considering her family connections, that's what will probably happen.
Viktor will see to it that Geoff gets to retire at the rank of major, rather than captain, so he gets a higher retirement benefit. Ezbeki will likewise not re-enlist, so Geoff won't have to go off alone into the cruel world. Ezbeki will get the retirement pay of his highest rank - colonel.
Viktor will be accepting the position of head of logistics, at least for now. And thanks to his participation in the last heroic attack, he will actually come out of the Vera Cruz court martial and investigation unscathed. Since the previous commander committed suicide, the majority of the blame from the press will fall on Marx. Which is not fair, but her family is very important, so it's more fun to bash them. Besides, a dead target isn't as good for selling your papers.
The official court martial itself will be inconclusive as far as who is 'to blame', but since Viktor is evidently protected by the Prince of Darkness, it won't really fall onto him. Of the upper ranking people involved, he's the least tainted. One of the problems is that officers who were not on Vera Cruz but have fought Vargrs before, have an attitude of "what was the problem? they're just Vargrs!". Not. Casualty-wise, it's going to take a while to sort things out. General Pappas is definitely dead. Cheltenham-Smythe, no one is sure about, and the same goes for Admiral Chang. There are still a lot of MIA's, and will be for a while.
Vlickelplesterb has come back to Rhylanor with that weird light in his eyes, but Viktor lets him know that he has a place if he decides he wants it after he's rotated through a front line combat position. McLafferty still hasn't made a final decision about what he wants to do; he's officially 'unfit for service'. Jenny will make a complete recovery, and will return to active duty. Viktor will keep and eye on her career in the future, as well as Vlickelplesterb's. Geoff is still concerned ab out Jenny. He wants to find out if she's serious about Plexo, so he asks her. Jenny doesn't have time to be serious about any man right now. She won't promise to write Geoff, but she'll try. Geoff will not be re-enlisting, as the Marines will decline (without prejudice); partially in the hope he'll take his monkey with him. Geoff's sensitivity to Regen A has gotten to the point that they consider him unfit for active duty, and besides, after seven terms he pretty much has to retire. The doctor gives him the word as if delivering news of terminal cancer. Geoff takes it in his traditionally stoic manner, but he's a bit upset. He's been in the service since he was 13 years old (he lied) - and after all that time he's not really fit for anything else.
Geoff's mustering out does get him a bit of a nest egg to start with - $75,000 creds in back pay, allowances and other miscellaneous funds. He also receives a nice presentation cutlass - a present from the men, and a high passage. Jenny turns Geoff down when he asks her out for a farewell dinner, although she's really only interested in Plexo for the sex. Ouch. Ezbeki offers to come up with a couple of 'dates' so they can go out and celebrate in style, but Geoff has "certain standards that do not include women who would go out with Ezbeki, women selected by Ezbeki, or women Ezbeki thinks are attractive". Ezbeki leaves with two gorgeous, tall, model-like women, waiting in his convertible. Some things are best left unexplained.
Oh well, here are many people on Rhylanor who would be only too happy to help him spend his money. What he really needs to do is find a very nice investment counselor or stock broker, and marry her. Geoff decides that the best thing to do is use his high passage and go to Regina. Ezbeki sells his convertible, and goes with him. They end up travelling class A, so they don't have to spend money on passage after all, and since they're scheduled for two months leave, they make arrangements to be mustered out on Regina.
Subadai, Joe, and Jimi Ray will eventually be found and rescued after the Sengi and new Imperial troops show up. Joe's share of the insurance money from the ship comes to $8,720 (after settling all his debts). There are some troop transports heading back from Vera Cruz, and they are authorized to carry civilians back for a cut rate. $3000 for the equivalent of a mid passage. This means a cabin to himself, and lots of food. A couple of hundred civilians on board a ship that normally would carry 4,000 Marines. (Well-packed, friendly Marines.)
While Max was on route to Rhylanor, he got to meet the men sent to pick up his body for burial. Excuse me?? Seems that after Max's CO, Captain Spencer of the Spruance jumped out of Vera Cruz and into Imperial space, he passed on the information that Max and everyone else who was on the planet when the Vargrs hit were killed. So Max is chasing the news of his death all the way back to Rhylanor. Max is kept stabilized on the trip back, but that's it. He will be repaired on Rhylanor, and will only end up with a 2% loss of mobility in his back, but he will be adjudicated unfit for high G, and therefore for service. With the right kind of schmoozing, and his record, he could probably get some kind of job like an administrative office or something of that nature - restrictive duty, absolutely no spacing assignments. The doctors think they're cheering him up by suggesting he can get a nice, cush assignment managing the O Club or something, kick back and relax until his retirement. This is some how not comforting for Max, since the only things he's ever really wanted were a Naval career and Amanda (not necessarily in that order). And there's the small matter of his family being notified of his death. Needless to say, his parents are very surprised to hear from the chaplain, and when they get to the hospital Max gets a lecture from his father (retired Admiral Alistair Parrish Fairfax) on what he put his mother through, etc. And they tell him that Amanda came by the house a few days ago, asking for Max, and was told that the family had received news of his death! Max is finally mobile after he hears this, and is able to locate Amanda in a Naval bar, where she has been for several days, drinking nonstop. Fortunately, the bartender has been watering her drinks for a while. First she believes that she's being visited by Max's spirit.; she's been mixing pseudo-narcotics with the alcohol and synthehol. The bartender doesn't care if Max is a spirit, he wants the crazy woman to leave, as when he suggested she go home, she punched him in the solar plexus and threatened him with much violence. (Most of the residents of Rhylanor are not used to physical violence, so they're a bit sensitive.) Max takes her to the nearest hotel, to dry out. Amanda has resigned her commission, due to all the carnage she witnessed - too many dead people. She's thinking about going commercial, and she has a line on a used Far Trader. She has some money, and has heard about some opportunities for small traders in what used to be the Neutral Zone; there's too much competition from the big boys around Rhylanor. Once Amanda recovers, she confesses that she didn't realize how much she loved Max until she thought he was dead, and she's is willing to take Max on as a partner (he does have nav and admin, so he's useful). They go to see the ship - it really needs work, but she likes the idea of having her own ship. Between Amanda's money, the $50,000 Max gets when he's mustered out, and the income from his personal holdings and estates, money won't be a problem for the moment. Now all they need is an engineer.
On hearing what Max intends to do with Amanda, his father decides to become a partner in the venture. He doesn't want his son going off in something unspaceworthy, so now there's a corporation involved.
On a more personal note, Max asks Amanda if she'll still marry him, but she'll have to think about - she's concerned she's not the same person she was before everything that happened in Vera Cruz, and that Max is trying to live up to obligations he made under very different circumstances. Max will wait a while, and then try proposing again.