Date: Wednesday 4 November 2040ce 0310z
Location: Shin’s Digs, Portland, Oregon (-0800)
That was higher than expected.
Kevin Dolby had figured some time ago that both of the federated nations would vote for Reunification, but he imagined the NES being more divided on the issue.
“Told you,” Carl began as he motioned to Shin for a refill. “Those southern states are loud, but they don’t have the population base to sway an election.”
Although Oregon had its own elections ending that night, the Coalition vote dominated nearly every broadcast covering the news.
“I’m just surprised by the northern states,” Dolby admitted. “Didn’t think Reunification would be so popular with the Canadians.”
It hadn’t seemed all that likely, even if a large component of their population were refugees and their children.
“Don’t suppose this means your contract is nullified?”
“It’s not a contract,” Dolby answered. “But, no. Still valid.”
The new military did things differently; You didn’t sign the contract until after completing boot camp, a change that allowed those who didn’t finish training to move on with their lives without undue hindrance from having failed or quit.
“And you still don’t want to tell me what it’s all about?” Carl asked as the fresh beer was placed in front of him.
“Already did,” he responded.
Carl chortled as he drank.
“No,” he said. “You gave me the same bullshit story you gave everyone else, which makes no sense.”
It is a weak cover story.
“It’s as close as I can get,” he admitted. “There’s a project. It’ll benefit from my work, and my work will benefit from it.”
He knew he was on the line, if not a small step beyond it, between being honest with his longest friendship and disclosing sensitive information.
“Official story,” Carl muttered.
“Working to restore lost limbs for disabled veterans,” Dolby countered.
The research he had done while gaining his doctorate had become the basis for modern skin grafting and, most recently, reconnecting damaged nerve endings. Being recruited to assist in further developments wasn’t that much of a logical stretch.
It’s the military part my friends are having trouble figuring out.
Carl confirmed the thought, saying, “And why would SciCorps send a recruiter? Couldn’t they just hire you? Or fund your research here?”
He wasn’t a recruiter…
The appearance of military personnel on campus wasn’t all that unusual, though SWS military weren’t all that common.
It was the crimson red of the SciCorps officer’s uniform that had become the subject of chatter throughout the entire university.
…But he did recruit me.
“Not that easy,” Dolby confessed.
He had always understood SciCorps to be the scientific arm of the SWS military—begging the question of whether it would remain so after Reunification—but found his visitor’s presence to be something unexpected.
But Kevin had recognized it.
Doctor Scott is a trooper!
And that was despite having the frame of a man easily knocked down by a small breeze.
Yet something about the man, standing proudly in his uniform, seemed to demand his attention and respect without once voicing the necessity or desire.
Dolby had served a three-year with the State Guard, but Oregon was a state with secure borders. The qualities he witnessed in Doctor Scott had not come to him, but he’d seen it in the older veterans, including those who retired to Oregon after serving in the contested territories.
“Is your uncle still angry?”
The question brought him back to Shin’s and his friend.
“Not angry… Just worried.”
“Well, he did drag your newborn ass all the way from Kansas.”
“Didn’t play out quite like that,” he replied.
“You know what I mean.”
Truth was, that trip had been during the plague. His mother and three uncles were fleeing north; She had died giving birth on the road, and one of his uncles never made it to the border.
To his knowledge, his other uncle was still living in Alberta, but he wasn’t certain how to contact him.
He had come to Oregon by-way of Idaho when he was twelve.
“Thinks I’m wasting my time,” he said. “Says SciCorps is for people getting their degrees, not for those of us who already have them.”
“At least you’ll be an officer.”
“I still have to get through basic training,” he said. “Then officer’s school. About four months total.”
“And that’s when your term begins?”
The part no one seemed to be aware of yet was that becoming an officer required a bit more than just graduating officer training.
At least my first three will count against that.
It would be nine years, minimum, before he’d be a civilian again, although he’d be a Coalition citizen after three if he changed his citizenship.
“They’ve got army on the brain down there,” Carl said, clearly irritated.
“Just different ways of going about it,” he said. “And they’re on the front.”
While exceptions were made for those not able to pass the physical but still had valuable skills to contribute, anyone that could pass were not accepted into SciCorps until after serving the basic three-year Army or Navy term. Medical League did it the same way, as well; Sky Guard did not.
For his enlistment, SciCorps accepted his State Guard service as fulfilling his three year requirement, but he still had to go through basic training just to learn how the SWS (and now, presumably, the Coalition) does things.
“Push-ups,” Carl said. “Sit ups. Jumping jacks. Running until your feet bleed.”
“Won’t be anything that bad,” he said, though he recalled the condition of his own feet after making the trek from Alberta. “It’s SciCorps, not the Army. Can’t imagine it being any harder than State Guard.”
“Famous last words,” Carl joked. “So, it’s still early yet… Are we hanging here or going elsewhere?”
“Actually,” Dolby said, looking at his near empty glass, “I was thinking we can just go home and fuck.”
Carl’s hand flew into the air as he called out, “Check!”