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The Book of Patches: Chapter 5


    Today seemed like it was going to be like any other day in S1; wake up, head to the Medical Bay for sick-call, and then relax until I was grabbed for a combat patrol or some other operation. My plan for the day was to scan down cosmic signatures in an outlying system and report back to Mocker my findings. Everything went smoothly for about four hours, until there was an all-hands call over the intercom to meet in the Briefing Room.

    Upon entering the Briefing Room, I found myself a seat amongs Davion and Skinny and we began to bullshit. The Captain and Lieutenant walked into the room and Kingzmen called us all to attention. We were then given the order to relax to sit down. The Captain stood under a single light at the podium and looked each and every one of us in the eyes.

    He cleared his throat and began to speak: “Good fortune has always smiled on me during my career with the Company.  As a member of Supply Division  pretty much from the start, I’ve always been able to serve the Company in very concrete and definable ways.” He began to pace back and forth in the Briefing Room, occasionally looking up at us. “I thought that I could never have been more proud when I was given the trust and Captaincy of The Black Company. You have all proved me wrong on that count. My greatest pride was to serve as Captain to the finest soldiers I could ever hope for. I’d like to thank you all and let you know how much this experience has meant to me.”

    All of us in the room began to exchange looks of confusion. Was the Captain leaving us? 

    The Captain continued: “Good fortune has smiled on me again. The opportunity exists to make a decision that is both in my own personal best interest and the right decision for the Company in our current stage of development in New Eden. I am here today to announce my preference for stepping down from the Captaincy. I have my own reasons. Placed in the right situation I think most people here would quickly intuit what they likely are.  I will be stepping back into the Liuetenant billet, still overseeing Supply Division activities.”

    A general feeling of shock enveloped the room. He was stepping down. Talk about a blindside; no one saw this coming. No one except the Lieutenant, who stood up in front and despite her stone-faced look, she knew all about this.

The Captain stood back at the podium. “I’d like to thank those of you that have really put the Company on their shoulders these past few months and have been such a great help to me. I’d especially like to thank Lieutenant Bastet, Standardbearer Kingsmen, Staff Sergeant Xtra, and Annalist Mocker for the million things they have done to make the Company happen. Also, as an aside, if any of you read anything into the order that I named those people I should smack ya’.”

    We all let out a slight laugh. “I’d further like to be the first to congratulate Captain Bastet on his new billet and offer my full support towards his and the Company’s further success. Captain Bastet has been a driving force behind establishing our interests in New Eden and is in an excellent position to assure a bright future for the Company.”

    At that moment, Kingz called everyone to attention as the former Captain, Lieutenant Epiphone, walked towards the new Captain, Captain Bastet and exchanged ranks in a formal fashion. The floor was then given to the new Captain and she took her place behind the podium.

    She smiled politely and told us she was going to try and keep this as short as possible. We all doubted that, I’m sure. “As the Captain I have the prerogative of choosing my Standard Bearer. As of this moment, Kingzmen will cease to be the Standard Bearer of The Black Company.”

    Kingzmen stepped forward and took off his Standard Bearer rank and set it on the podium. He then returned to the wall behind the Captain and stood at attention. “His service has been astounding, to say the least. To me, he has redefined the position of the Standard Bearer in its new form, as an honorary title of The Black Company in ‘who embodies our philosophical values and adheres to our methodologies to such a degree as to be an example for one and all.'”

The Captain put the rank in her pocket and continued: “Standard Bearer Kingzmen is the definition of a Standard Bearer.  He is exemplary in every way. And removing such a title from him can never change that definition of how his attitude, strength, commitment, passion, and esprit du corps are the essence of OF BY FOR. He has committed an exorbitant amount of time to train, help, educate, temper, mold and be a Brother. The future may find him back in this position, and a part of me prays it does. For now, I wish to choose my own Standard Bearer. Asking the SB to step aside for another was probably the first most difficult challenge I’ve faced as Captain.”

    She took a breath and observed each and every one of us in the room. Kingz smiled. “This leaves an opening for the bodyguard of the Captain. I will be looking at all positions, ranks and personnel for this person that must be more than a Brother, but an icon. I can only hope this person could ever exceed Kingzmen’s honor and integrity as the Standard Bearer. Some may think they can be this icon now.  I will be watching, and looking for who is best for this position, and I will notify you.”

    The Captain paused for effect and then released us on a ten minute break, to stretch our legs. I stepped outside with Skinny and Davion and lit up a cigarette.

    “You know boys, this changes absolutley nothing but paperwork. I still look very highly upon SSG Kingzmen and upon the Captain. I have no doubt she will pick an SB that fits the bill. But, between us, Kingz will always be the best, in my honest opinion.”

    Davion chuckled a bit. “Patches, your eloquence for words has captured what I could not hope to express.”

    Skinny nodded and added: “SB Kingzmen will certainly be a hard act to follow, that’s for damn sure.”

   We three agreed and were all summoned back into the Briefing Room. We took our seats and prepared to listen intently to what the Captain had to say next. She waited until everyone was seated and began to talk.

    “Staff Sergeant Kingzmen, step forward,” Kingz marched forward authoritatively and stood next to the Captain. “Staff Sergeant Kingzmen is being promoted to the position of First Sergeant. This position has been vacant since I left it when I became the Lieutenant, and I do not hand it over lightly to anyone – but Staff Sergeant Kingzmen has stepped up to the challenge, has shown his commitment as a military minded, competitive, gung-ho mother fucker that will get the job done, has all you mooks’ respect, even when he is hard on you.”

    I smiled. That bastard was tough as nails, but I respected him to the utmost degree. The Captain continued:

    “There is noone more suited for this position in The Company. He will be an excellent First Sergeant, he will be taking up a good portion of the training, which we have worked on together since day one, since he has a love of training you to be the best as much as I do.” The Captain paused for effect and began to pace around the room in a professional manner.

    “The First Sergeant is more than just an NCO, he is the fighting fury of The Black Company whose mastery of the cold tempered blade is second to none on the battlefield, and that cold tempered blade is you, the Brothers. As part of this, I am awarding the first set of CPCT wings to the First Sergeant.” Some of us in the room began thinking something, but the Captain nipped it right in the bud.

    “Before you gents start talking about ‘the good ol’ boys club,’ the First Sergeant has been involved in each step of the CPCT process, his input not only welcome but integrated, he has written the questions that you will be examined on, and has led each of you on the field over and over – and has anyways still done each step of the process up till now. His last two qualifications are being waived since he practically made them. First Sergeant, I’d like to see you be the first to wear, once again, the Combat Pilot Wings.”

    Kingz stepped forward and respectfully declined the pilot wings, saying that he wants some of the other mooks to finish the training and get their wings first. He then stated that he had something to say and the Captain gave him the floor.

    1SG Kingzmen retained his professional bearing and proceeded to give us his speech. “In two years of my service I’ve been trying to understand what The Black Company really is and not until this very minute do I believe I finally belong. Do not think it is because I have been elevated to the rank of First Sergeant. Rather, it is when the position was offered to me that I asked myself one simple question: ‘why am I here?’  I dug deep, but could not find the answer. I never wanted to be anything more than the Standard Bearer so I respectfully declined.”

    I’m sure I wasn’t the only one shocked at that last statement. Kingz? Decline a position that he is extremely well suited for. Even more suited for, dare I say, Standard Bearer? Needless to say, he caught our attention with that and piqued our interest. 

    He continued. “Several days had passed and I began having flash backs of days gone by. The longer I search the more confused I felt and it was not until recently that the answer has come to me. Simply put I have failed you and I have failed this Company. I found the answer as to why I am here. I am here because I am a mercenary of The Black Company and I have not lived up to it. Those days are over. Dark times are coming my Brothers and things are about to change. The times of ‘getting by’ are over. You have not been pushed and I, I alone, will carry this blame.”

    Another pause for dramatic effect. Goddamn leadership loved to do that, but damned if Kingzmen wasn’t a great orator and motivator. “I am a hard man, I was raised hard and so I will be that man again. I will push you to your limits and test your mettle. Either you will become my Brother in Arms or you will fold and leave. If the way of The Black Company isn’t your kind of fun then maybe you should reconsider why you are here.”
     Kingz walked closer to us. “No longer will we sit around twiddling our fingers like women and wait for something to happen. We will grab the bull by the horns and hear our names be echoed throughout the systems.  People will learn to fear us, respect us; they will know who we are.  Now ask yourselves something, why have you accepted the Charter? Why are you signing off on things? Why are you here?”

    Kingz referenced the Vision Statement of the Company. “Are we really ready? Absoultely not! If you think you are, then you are dreaming!”

    He then acknowledged the Recruits. “You Recruits are here to ‘learn and become’. Fall on our shoulders and we shall guide you. To the Brothers: Your time has come to show your worth. Fail as a Brother and you shall find your days numbered. To the few Veterans we have: If you have any question about being a Veteran then you do not belong and you need to take a step back.”

    He walked back behind the podium and nodded in Mocker’s direction. “And do quote Mocker, ‘Nobody has shit handed to them around here. You earn it. And when you don’t measure up anymore, you are replaced, either the hard way or the easy way.’ Brothers, by standing up you are pledging yourself to our methodologies and beliefs. That you will not allow your Brothers to fall short of nothing less than excellence. That teamwork is what separates us from the rest. That you will work hard and support your brothers to every end. Do not take this lightly. Who will stand with me, Of, By and For the Company!”

    Everyone in the room stood. Kingz gave us all a stern look and told us never to forget this moment. The moment we renewed our Oath to The Black Company. And we never would.


    The Cantina was alive and thriving with commotion this evening. Many drinks were ordered, all operations were cancelled, and festivities were well under way. Skinny, Davion, Laotzu and myself were sitting at a table obnoxiously playing many hands of Tonk and drinking Whatnot by the gallon.

    Staff Sergeant Xtra yelled at the top of his lungs and told everyone to shut their mouths for he had a toast.

    “We’ve seen a changing of the guard. Captain Epiphone moves to Lieutenant. His contribution to the Company has been exemplary and Herculean in effort. We both go back to the Hyborian deployment as Recruits together, and I’ve watched him rise from Brother to Captain. It has been my honor to serve under him while he was Captain and I’m looking forward to the long days ahead with him as the Lieutenant again.”

    The entire Cantina erupted in an uproar of ‘yar’s’ and ‘cheers’ only to be silenced by Xtra again. “For Capt Bastet – here’s to you – good luck, better skill. The days ahead are as promising as the ones gone by, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for all of us under your leadership. ow, everyone try to keep your ‘Yar Lt’s and Yes Capts’ the right way around. Cheers.”

    With that a thunderous ‘cheers’ and a toast of Whatnot continued the evening. As much as I’d like to go into more detail from that night, my memory begins to fade shortly thereafter….


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