BAM here we are. Giacomo’s pretty grumpy hey!
The soldiers had obviously been in the middle of something, if their postures were anything to go by. Giacomo waved his good hand distractedly. “No need to stop, kids. I’m just here to keep warm.” They seemed to take him at his word, which was fine. Things were going well enough if they were willing to discuss things in front of the boss. The tallest one – Massimino – turned back to face the other two and picked up the argument where it had left off.
“Well, okay. I’m just saying I don’t think you’re being entirely fair, Steiner. We’re at least accomplishing something by helping these people.” Massimino was infantry and almost as heavily augmented as Giacomo. His artificial parts glinted in the floodlights and moved as smoothly as anything natural. The man he was arguing with – Steiner – rolled his eyes and made a token gesture of raising his hands.
“We’re not a charity, you know? There are plenty of others who are much better equipped for humanitarian aid.” He slapped the side of the vehicle for emphasis. “I didn’t sign up to drive this just for fun and games. We should be taking the fight to the empire!
The cyborg snorted. “There’s not much point in fighting them if we’re not capable of treating the local population any better than they are. This camp isn’t a holiday resort, it’s full of desperate people who’ve just had their lives ripped away from them.”
“Sure. So what? We’re not here for that. The imperial army’s over those hills, doubtless committing fresh atrocities, and we’re just supposed to wait and let the scout force rap them on the knuckles?” Steiner had gotten louder and louder, to the point where one of the mechanics – Giacomo couldn’t recall his name – turned around and gave the assembled soldiers a look of worn patience. The tank crewman scowled, but didn’t continue speaking. For the hundredth time, Giacomo felt vindicated in his grassroots approach to leadership. He was sure the new girl didn’t ever get this sort of perspective on her soldiers’ mood. The third soldier – Carson, infantry, unaugmented – gave Giacomo a brief sideways glance before replying.
“Steiner, I don’t think you do understand why we’re here. We’re not just soldiers, we’re representatives of Galacia. You may have joined up to get revenge, but that’s not one of Command’s priorities. These people are going through a hell you’ve never experienced,” he continued, forestalling Steiner’s protests, “and yes, I know you ran away from execution or imprisonment. But you’ve never known poverty. You were raised in a noble house, you came here on a private jet, and you’re living in the most pampered nation on the face of the earth. You’ve never had to wake up wondering whether or not you’d have to eat weevils for breakfast. We’ve been ordered to sit here, and for what it’s worth I agree with Massimino: there’s no harm in offering aid while we’re able to. They’re hurting too, you know?”
Giacomo was glad for his prosthetics – he doubted that he’d have been able to keep from raising an eyebrow at that speech. It was amazing to see a grunt as feral as Carson buying into Carla’s high-minded rhetoric about human solidarity. Maybe there was something to it, after all. Steiner looked hurt, but his response was pre-empted by a comms officer who came running out of the darkness. Another nuisance: the rain made personal wireless communications too unreliable for paging, so they had to run everything to him whenever he left the main tent. The man was nearly out of breath – poor fitness standards, Giacomo mused – but managed to speak after a couple of seconds.
“Call from HQ, sir. No details, but I was told to get you on air as fast as possible.” Giacomo nodded. Her Ladyship, no doubt – Carla was rarely satisfied with his reports, and usually grilled him for details she really had no business knowing. Still, she was in charge, and he’d had ample opportunities to quit before now. He nodded to the newcomer and left the circle with a brief “carry on” to the debating soldiers – he considered a casual salute, but his deteriorating arm made him reconsider. They already knew that he fought and bled with them, and driving the point home unnecessarily wouldn’t achieve much. This lot were certainly a better class of grunt than he’d been back in the day, and they deserved a CO they could put their faith in.
He moved on through the rain and cursed it again. Forget moving the whole company out; it was going to slow him down enough that he’d get chewed out for being late to report. Just his luck to be stuck out here in the wet, having to remember half-forgotten minutiae for a commander who should know well enough to let him manage his own affairs. Just his luck to know that it was exactly what he’d signed up for.
Duty could be a bitch at times.