Scattered Wounds Chapter 8
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Scotty Tremaine stared at the silver and gold cloud and realized that they had been wrong about which world Her Grace had been the champion for. Turning to Lt. Cmdr. Williams he said, “Commander, do you have an air car?”
Ladashia Williams silently sighed, she’d just paid it off, “The red Osprey outside,” she said as she got her key fob off of the desk in the room. She tossed them to the red-headed captain. She then got to watch the two clouds go through the walls; the silver one went through the North, the gold the West.
“They’re moving,” Willow sent to Kennedy over their telepathic link.
“They?” Kennedy returned, “I thought we were dealing with one?”
“We got two, stay on the gold, it’s travelling on a course of about 271 degrees at a pretty good clip.”
“We’re on it,” Kennedy replied.
Meanwhile Scotty was moving toward the door, “Dawn, Vi, you are with me.”
Dawn started, she hadn’t expected to be doing more than just casting the awakening spell. She was going to be getting to see a lot more of Sphinx, neat. She was also going to have to start working out at higher G’s she decided before she was halfway out the door. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Ten minutes later Dawn didn’t care about the G forces anymore, the car ripping along at almost 500 miles an hour brushed such petty concerns aside. They’d finally caught up with the silver cloud and Scotty had eased in behind it. It turned out it was not travelling straight North, it had eased off to the East a bit. It didn’t seem to be showing any inclination of altering either its speed or course so everyone in the car settled in for the chase. >>>>>>>>>>>
Ladashia stared at the maps in front of her, the big map that showed all of Sphinx and had a gold and a silver dot on them, and they were moving. She was about to ask how this was possible, those maps were paper, she’d put them up herself, but a glance at Willow showed the redhead was concentrating and muttering to herself, she decided to leave her alone.
Suddenly she had an idea, both dots were moving in a straight line. She headed over to the desk and pulled out a ruler. Moving to the map she and held it so the gold dot was just at its edge and held it there, adjusting the ruler so that it was aligned with the direction the dot was moving, following the line out she saw that it was heading toward Sunderton, a regional capital.
Moving to the silver dot she did the same thing, but saw that it did not appear to be heading toward any population centers. Carefully moving the ruler along the projected path, she finally hit something, the headquarters of the Sphinx Forestry Service. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Rear Admiral Mercedes Bringham was trying to do her Chief of Staff work, but she couldn’t help but overhear Buffy arguing with Faith in the seats behind her. Buffy seemed to be trying to bolster Faith’s confidence, but she seemed to be having a singular lack of success. Mercedes was trying to piece together exactly what had destroyed the young woman’s self-confidence so totally.
A sudden burst of giggling from the back of the pinnance, where the two junior slayers Buffy had added to the party were sitting, near the two marines that were along for extra security where sitting.
Buffy grumbled something about professionalism under her breath, stood up, and headed aft.
The two junior slayers quieted down as soon as they saw Buffy heading their way. Mercedes smiled to herself, if nothing else, Buffy seemed to be firmly in command of her group.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” Faith asked Mercedes as she came around the seat.
Mercedes looked up, surprise, but answered, “Sure.”
Her Grace had said to get to know the Sunnydalers better; this looked like a good opportunity.
Faith flopped down into seat and sighed loudly.
“Want to talk about it?” Mercedes asked as she put the confidential documents she had been working with away.
Faith leaned forward and put her face into hands, “I can’t do it, I can’t be in charge again.”
“Buffy is looking at transferring command to you?” Mercedes asked, surprised.
Faith looked at her in shock, “What? No! But she wants me to her Second in Command. If something happens to her, then I’m in charge, and that worked out so well last time.”
“Something happened to Buffy?” Mercedes asked.
Faith looked up, and then leaned back, she seemed to struggle with the question for a while, then glancing back to make sure that Buffy was still involved with Amy and Cindy, she began, “Toward the end of the fight with The First, Buffy got the idea that they were hiding something important in an old winery. We went after it, but it was a trap. A couple of the girls got killed and Xander got his eye poked out. Buffy wanted to go back, she was convinced that there was something there, there was a big argument and in the end we voted Buffy out as leader and gave her a choice, she could stay, but she’d have to follow our orders, or she could leave. She left.
“I was in charge and decided to go after an armory we had found out about, but it was also trap, there was a bomb. I got more girls killed than Buffy did, and she had to show up and save us. To top it off, she had gone back to the Vineyard by herself and found the Scythe, she had been right, they were guarding something, we had been wrong.
“I can’t get any more people killed, I’ve killed enough.”
Mercedes consider for a moment, “Faith, how much training do you have in command?”
“Training? They have training for that?”
Mercedes swallowed the chuckle she felt coming on, “Faith, the Military has training for everything from scrubbing garbage cans to running fleets. Whoever dumped you, or Buffy, for that matter, in command is the one who made a mistake. I realize that your situation was different, but in the Navy we send someone to school for four years and then send them out on a training cruise before we put them in charge of anything, much less expect them to be in command.”
Faith stared, gob smacked.
Mercedes shocked at the expression, “Faith, Marine officers in training are put through simulations that put them every situation from being the most junior member of a patrol to commanding a planetary invasion. Okay, it’s a simulation, but at least they get some experience at what to expect. Whoever just dropped you or Buffy into a command situation, especially, given your youth and what was at stake should be brought up on charges, or committed.
“All things considered, you should be congratulated for not getting all of your people killed.”
It was Mercedes turn to sit back and think. Ideally, he’d like to turn the slayers over to Major General Tomas Remeriez, his heavy worlder physique would probably allow him to at least keep up with them. But, he was currently in command of the ground forces defending San Martino, his home world, and would probably not be available for the job. Her Grace would probably like to keep the whole Slayers and Champions information ‘In the family,’ so to speak, so that more or less left Colonel Sandra Gibson, who, if Mercedes memory was correct was currently in system and teaching at Saganami Island, so that made her almost perfect. She made a note to contact the Colonel when they got back to Manticore.
Lt. Commander Williams had called in with the report that the Silver Cloud seemed to be headed for Sphinx Forestry Service HQ and she had asked if she wanted to call them to give them a heads up. Scotty decided not to, no one would be hurt by it, and they would be arriving right on its heels, no need to get people starting to ask questions if they didn’t have to.
When the cloud started losing altitude and slowing down, but didn’t change its heading, making it clear it was head toward the HQ, then he called ahead and asked to be met by in the parking lot by someone in authority.
Landing the Osprey in an available spot they exited it and headed inside. They were met at the door by a woman in a Forestry Service uniform, her rank tab said she was a district supervisor, “What can we do for you Captain?”
“Have you had any strange occurrences today?” Scotty asked.
“No, not that I know of….” She trailed off as her hand went to her ear bud, “Cancel that, there is a disturbance in the Arboretum, is there something I need to be aware of?”
“Probably,” Scotty replied, “But let’s get to the Arboretum first.”
“Wait, is this a threat?” The Ranger asked. “Do I need to start an evacuation?”
Scotty turned to the woman, “No, there is no immediate threat,” glancing at Dawn, “Would there be?”
Dawn got a ‘Why ask me?’ look on her face, but replied, “There shouldn’t be, at least none of the others faced an immediate threat.”
“Okay,” The Forestry Ranger said, “Let’s start over, I’m Nadine Rosemount, I’m the duty officer for the Forestry Service today and head of Black Water clan area, and you are?”
Scotty blushed, he had been a little in a hurry. “I’m Captain Prescott Tremaine, Royal Manticorian Navy; this is Dawn Summers, and Vi, introducing the two with him. Something has happened that is just too much to go into now, but someone in this building has been selected, chosen I suppose you could say, to be a main part of the defense of Manticore. Once we find that individual, and he agrees, then we can brief you in, in fact, it would probably be a good idea to contact the head of the Forestry Service, because I get a feeling it would be better to brief you folks in, sooner, rather than later.”
Nadine nodded and waving her hand, inviting them to follow her she lead them to the Arboretum, as soon as they exited the doors they noticed a group of people, some in uniform, some not, some with treecats on their shoulders, many without. They were surrounding a tall man with longish brown hair and a neatly trimmed mustache and goatee who seemed to be sitting on a bench, holding a treecat in his lap, a dazed expression on his face.
Pushing her way through the crowed Nadine went down on a knee and asked, “What’s wrong, Tor?”
“Nothing,” the man replied, “I can hear him Nadine, in my head.”
Nodding at the treecat he whispered, “I got hit by a silver cloud and then I could hear him.”
Nadine Rosemount was turning to ask Scotty for an explanation, when the redhead that had accompanied the naval captain, head whipped around as if someone had called her name; she was then tackled by a gray and cream blur.