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The Book of Patches: Chapter 8

The Black Lance

    The Company has been quiet as of late; we’ve been focusing more on internal training than external combat operations. I must say, that was a smart move on the brass’ part. A change of pace is definitely something we were all looking forward to.

    For two weeks, I would wake up and pull Sick Call duty in my Medical Bay and then, if I had time, I would head out to wherever the training was and take part. If I didn’t have the time to train with the Company, then I would head down to the Annalist’s office and bullshit with Mocker while we worked on the Annals. Collectively, Mocker and I were recording the Company’s history.

    Last night I was having a nice dream; it would be ungentlemanly of me to elaborate. Mid-dream I was awakened by a swift kick to the ribs, causing me to roll out of my bunk. I recognized the boot imprint in my side, for I had a semi-permanent indent that resembled a boot on my upper torso. Sergeant Davion’s boot. Apparently, I was a hard son of a bitch to wake up.

    “Get up Patches, we gotta roll.” Sergeant Davion said firmly. Bastard was never gentle about waking people up, especially me. I swear, he’s lucky I didn’t have a weapon nearby, I might’ve thought about using it. Maybe.

    I grunted something and stood up next to my bunk. Sergeant Davion looked at his watch. “Patches, seriously. Hurry the fuck up. We’ve got places to go and training to do. Get dressed, and get to the flight deck.”

   I grunted yet again and proceeded to get dressed. The Company had gotten rid of the flight suit uniform policy and allowed us to wear a black jacket, provided we had our Death’s Head Insignia and any other awards pinned on in uniform fashion.

    I took a quick look at my jacket, admiring the Brother’s version of the Insignia, my flight wings and my Service Medal. I donned the jacket and walked through the dimly lit passageways leading to the flight deck. Upon my arrival I saw a couple of Brothers and Recruits who had Covert Operations skills. Immediately I knew what we were going to train up and my blood began to pump furiously through my veins in excitement.

    The Captain looked up from her notes and gave me a stern glare. At least, I thought it was a stern glare. The woman always had her damned sunglasses on and it was impossible to read her face. “Nice of you to join us Virg’. You going to be sticking around this time?” A hint of a smile. How about that.

    “Yeah, roger Cap’. I’ll be here for the training. CovOps?”

    She nodded and went back to her data pad. The rest of us, there were about four or five including me, shot the shit until we were told to mount up and roll out.

    I had the dock workers bring out my Manticore and paid them a little more than the regular dock fee. The price of silence here is a small one, but to them it’s a years worth of riches. ‘Security is paramount,’ as Mocker would say.

    Before getting inside my Manticore, I took a look at her; definitely a sight to behold. Silver and gold shimmered in the station lights as I admired her three siege missile launchers and the bomb launcher. She was in tip-top shape, no doubt. I climbed inside and started her up.

    I, along with the rest of the bomb spewing, torpedo launching, cloaky, covert-ninja bastids from the Black Company moved towards Null-Sec so that we could put our bombs to good use. Prior to warping to the first stargate in S1, I activated the cloaking module. All the lights on my pod’s command console dimmed; the cloaking module took up a lot of powergrid. Outside my ship, in the vast expanse of nothingness, not a soul would be able to see her. I would show up on the local Commnet, as I was still connected to it, but no one would be able to pinpoint where I was. We moved into Low-Sec and found a few battlecruisers duking it out. The Captain gave us the go ahead to engage and taught us a few things about Covert Operations tactics before heading in towards the battlecruisers.

    We set up a logistical exit point close to the entry point of warp so that we could drop in, uncloak, fire off a bomb and get the hell out. We did so in typical Company fashion; professionally and with discipline. After we fired off our bombs, warped to the logistical exit point, uncloaked and warped back in. I primed up my siege missile launchers and began whittling away at their defenses with the rest of the fleet. Soon enough, the targets went down.

    A few hours later we managed not to lose a single boat and headed back towards S1. All in all, it was a successful day and a lot was learned in terms of how to properly fly a Covert Operations ship. Upon arrival at the docking bay in S1, the Captain told as all to meet up in the Company Briefing Room. I began making my way over there with Skinny and our newly returned Brother, Stone.

    We stopped by the Iron and Wine Cantina to grab a drink before the meeting. Stone bought a round of WhatNot on account of his return. I took a sip from my mug and almost spilled it because Stone nudged my arm. “So, Patches. I’ve read some of your Annals. It’s pretty damned good Brother.”

    “Thanks Stone.” I chuckled  “when I first came to the Company, you were the Annalist. It was your writing that inspired me to begin writing my own accounts. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you come accross my writing?”

    Stone let out a slight chuckle. “The Annalist’s office, you crazy mook.”

   I nodded. “Come on man, how long have you been back? Two days? Shit Brother, I didn’t think you’d get down to the Annalist’s office so quickly,” I finished my beer in one long gulp and turned to Skinny and Stone. “it’s about time to head out boys.”

    They finished their drinks and we made our way to the Briefing Room. When we arrived, we saw that we were the last three to get there. The Captain and First Sergeant were waiting on the three of us to arrive before they would begin the briefing. Dammit.

    Sergeant Davion stomped towards us. “It’s about fuckin’ time guys. Find a damn chair and sit.”

   We hurridly found seats and before we were able to sit, the Captain began the briefing. “As you all are well aware, this weekend marks The Black Company’s, uhm, birthday, so to speak. So, to celebrate, we’re going to hold an operation. A competition of sorts between the Brothers of the Company. This has been tradition for as long as the Annals have been recorded.”

    She instructed the First Sergeant to pass out the data pads with the rules of the event. “These data pads contain the rules. They’re pretty self explanatory and before you bastards say anything, yes, there will be awards. Two-hundred million ISK will go to the winning team at the end of the event, and fifty million ISK will go to the second place team. Bets will be placed by the other members on the final two teams for round three.”

    We, being the ISK greedy mercenaries that we are, began whooping and hollering. We’d never miss out on a chance for more money. The Captain shushed us with a hand motion; seemed she had more to say.

    “Also, you all know the corporation known as The Roaches have been in and around S1. They haven’t been causing too many problems, just feelings of paranoia, yes?”

    “Anyway, they’ve approached me with intel concerning an Amarr militia friendly corporation that have set up a POS in a nearby system and have requested our help to take it down. They claim to not want anymore visitors in S1, as I’m sure all of you can agree.”

    I raised my hand. I didn’t like this idea at all. “Virg’, you have a question?”

    “Uhm, yeah Cap’. I just find the need to state that I don’t think this is exactly a wise idea. I mean, far be it for me to question you and maybe it’s my paranoia setting in, but who’s to say The Roaches don’t turn their barrels on us after we take down the POS?” A small murmer of others confirmed that I was not the only one with that thought.

    “Good question Virg’ and I’ve got an answer for that. Our goal is to get in, take down the POS and get the fuck out. I’ve got tactical bookmarks set up around the POS and around the system. Anyone who can, will fit a sniper battleship and be ready to move out at 2015 hours. Anyone who can not fly a battleship will be assigned a ship type prior to the operation. Are there any other questions?” No one raised their hands.

    “Good. Let’s take down that POS and then head out for the operation commemorating The Black Company’s birth, Rage in the Cage!”

    The room exploded in whoops and hollars once more and we were dismissed to prep our fits for the upcoming starbase siege. I exited the room with Slappy, one of our newest phase two Recruits, and Sergeant Davion. On our way to the docking bay, I lit up a cigarette and shot the shit with Slappy.

    “So Slappy, tell me, how are you liking your time with the Company so far?” I took a drag from my cigarette and watched the smoke dance around the air.

    He waved the smoke away from his face. “I’m liking it Patches. I’m liking it a lot. All of you guys are friendly and really show that Brotherhood that is mentioned in the Charter. Flying with The Company is phenomenal and you guys really know your shit.”

    “Well, I’d like to see you stick around and make this place your home. Don’t bail on me. You dig?”

    Slappy chuckled in agreement and walked off towards his respective section of the docking bay. I followed suit and called for the dock workers to bring out my Raven. Within minutes, she slowly lumbered over and docked up near the catwalk. I had the dock workers fit six cruise missile launchers, a microwarpdrive, two sensor boosters with targeting range scripts loaded into them, and two large shield extenders to boost my shield strength.

    After I was satisfied, I left the hangar and walked toward Mocker’s office. As is typical as of late, I felt the need to browse through the Annals, both past and present. When I arrived, I knocked on his door and heard the shuffling of papers. “One moment Patches, sit tight.”

    I waved at the camera that was watching his door in the passageway. He opened the door and greeted me with a firm handshake while stepping aside, allowing me to enter.

    “You here to do some reading Patches?” He inquired while shuffling through paperwork around his desk.

    “Yep. Gonna’ see what I can dig up about the Company. Got a few hours before the POS take-down today. Speaking of which, you going to be able to make it?”

    Mocker sat down behind his desk and grunted in confirmation. I took a better look at him. Poor bastard looked like hell; hair disheveled and a haggard beginning of a beard on his face. He must’ve gone two days without sleep, or at least he looked like it.

    As I tried to move towards the computer terminal, I knocked a stack of papers off Mocker’s desk. He didn’t even look up from his work. I gathered up the papers and set them back up on his desk but noticed a curious looking page with some of the Company’s members listed on it. I looked closer and chuckled at what I saw.

Present list of Company Names

Stone

Big Lou

AT-AT

AFK

Tigz

Bones

Choke

Scav

Slappy

Die Hard

Cheech

Juke

    It was an interesting collection of names, to say the least. I thought it hard to memorize the names and use them on a daily basis and I found later on that  it was more useful, and more fun, to use their company nicknames in a joking manner. I placed the paper back on the desk and shuffled through the maze of old books and papers toward the terminal.

    I began to read the third account from the days of Annalist Croaker during the time of the White Rose. It was an interesting read and time flew by. Needless to say, I was slightly upset when the time came to lock up shop and head out to the starbase siege.

    As I entered my Raven, I found it funny that one man could pilot this massive ship. I was beginning to look forward to the time when I would have others with me aboard a capital ship, but those times were far into the future.

    The vaccum of space envoloped our ships as we exited the station. I rechecked my VCOMMS and heard the Captain mention something about The Roaches already attacking the starbase. We were to wait until the order to move in before we could begin our assault. I took a look at the fleet screen and checked the roster. It seemed we had two squads this time, which was good to see.

Scout: Mocker

Alpha Squad (Alpha Damage) – Captain, Stone, Virgil, Greshar.

Bravo Squad (EWAR Support/Battleship Cruiser Support – 1st Sergeant, Staff Sergeant Xt Ra, Gordon, Anja Talis

    I liked what I saw, as it wasn’t often that we moved out in two squads. Indeed it was a sight to behold; battleships slowly moving through space to our rally point with the EWAR fleet behind them, followed by two Caracals.

    We arrived to the starbase about five minutes after The Roaches engagement had started. We moved to 700 kilometers ‘up’ from the starbase, off grid, and did some scanning and assessment with our cloaked ships at range. We then moved in at range to see what could be seen. A Cynabal was spotted harassing the Roaches fleet, and we caught word that it had successfully destroyed two light ships, a Nemesis and Manticore, before we had arrived. At the moment, the Cynabal didn’t seem to interested in us, so we continued moving towards a tactical attack point.

    We warped within 100 kilometers of the starbase and as we exited warp the Captain gave the order to align to Planet II as an exit strategy. The Cynabal was approximately 100 kilometers from us so we opened fire with our sniper battleship fleet, with the EWAR and Caracals pulling security just in case something got too close to us. I noticed that we weren’t doing grievious damage but enough to scare the pilot off the field. We then proceeded to direct our fire on the starbase.

    I checked my scans and saw the Cynabal and the pilot’s name, Mystical Might. Strange name for a man, I thought. Oh well, to each his own; I digress. The Cynabal and another target, a Vagabond who’s pilot’s name was Soldur, returned briefly and would continue to repeat these attempts at harrasment. They were attempting to annoy the Roaches fleet, but our sniper setup had approximately a 100 to 180 kilometer range, depending on setups. With that kind of range we were able to keep the Cynabal and Vagabond off the field easily.

    At one point the Vagabond came up for an approach. “Hey guys, you see this?” The Captain was referring to Soldur’s Vagabond. “Let’s show him how The Black Company does shit around here.”

    I smiled. It was time to get dirty. The Captain warped us to Planet II, regrouped and had the fleet turn around. We then warped to a tactical safespot that the Captain had setup at 200 kilometers between the system’s star and the starbase. When we exited warp, we were about 200 kilometers from the starbase and 100 kilometers from the Cynabal. 

    “Give him hell, Company!” The Captain can be so inspiring in moments like this, that’s for damn sure.

 The Cynabal coward decided it was in his best interest to leave. The Vagabond arrived and made an aggressive dash towards us from 100 kilometers so we opened fire. We had him down to twenty-five percent shields as The Captain initiated another warp to 100 kilometers from the starbase, leaving the Vagabond burning towards empty space and again at our optimal range of 100 kilometers. We were given the order to open fire yet again.

    The Vagabond made another aggressive dash into us and he found himself in fifty percent shields, fighting his inertia to peel out. I knew that he knew he had it bad, and the Captain was going to let him fly into the intimidating mass of steel and missiles, known as The Black Company. Unfortunately, Soldur knew better, peeled away and ran off. For the remainder of the siege, the Vagabond didn’t try any more agressive acts on us. Smart move on his part.

    I looked at my view screen and watched my missiles barrage the starbase. “Whatcha’ think Cap’? Think we scared ‘em off?”

    Stone answered laughing. “I do believe we did, Patches.”

    From the position we were at now, we heavily laid fire on the starbase. The Captain gave the order to align ‘up’, to our entry point above the starbase. Within about thirty more minutes, the starbase exploded in a brilliant flash of plasma, followed by the blue wave of an EMP blast. We exited by warping to our entry point above the wreckage and headed out to a safespot that was twenty-five AU’s off.

    “Standby, fleet.” The Captain said as we exited warp. What is there to do now? We accomplished our goal. “Apparently, the Roach Commander is requesting help. We’re moving back in to support.”

     “Shit. I don’t like this at all Cap’. This just doesn’t sound right.” I complained.

    “Patches. Can that shit.” First Sergeant. Great. I didn’t even know he could hear me. I stuffed my complaints into the back of my mind, waiting for the moment when I could say ‘I told you so.’

     The Captain warped us to a 200 kilometer position below the starbase’s wreckage to assess the situation. As we arrived, we noticed that The Roaches had gotten the last of their men out of warp and their leader said he was safe. I cursed under my breath and the Captain warped us back to the rally station for the debriefing.

    The Captain cleared her throat and did a quick debrief over VCOMMS. “I heard that Gordon did an excellent job in Bravo Squad on keeping everyone together so they wouldn’t get picked off from the nano setups. Good on you Gordon.” We all congrtulated his leadership skills while the Captain finished.  “Our strategy and execution, in which we were to keep the harassment off The Roaches, was a success. We were able to finish off the POS in double extra time.”

    “To clarify. The Roaches are neither our allies nor our friends. We have not declared any non-agression pact or such. However, I feel they may give us a little more space and respect, but don’t expect to be hugging any of them any time soon, unless you want a knife in your back. Besides, who can live with roaches?”

    That brought a laugh from the rest of us. “In the aftermath of this operation, I cannot say what will happen with the targets we attacked. They can either come back full force or decide that this isn’t where they need to be. Although a little turf war would be fun, I would like to push our focus elsewhere, if possible. Great job everyone. Now, who’s ready to blow each other up?”

    The Captain was answered with a thunderous ‘yarho’ and we headed to the cloning facility. We were going to do this event in null security space, therefore we had to jack into a different clone; it was too far to fly there. I never did like the cloning facilities, especially the act that took place inside. It was a strange feeling being ‘plugged’ into the central clone system and waking up in a different clone in a different system. It just seemed strange to me.

    I laid down in a pod, which was a miracle in and of itself. I have a habit of fighting the clone technitions. The hatch to the pod closed over me with a hydraulic hiss. Embryonic fluid, which has the texture of mucous, rushed in and enveloped me. Darkness and unconciousness ensued. Within seconds, a bright flash burned my retinas through my eyelids, the mucous-like goop began to drain out and my pod opened up in the new system.

    I hobbled out of the greenish-brown orb, shaking the fluid off of my body, as well as coughing it up. Funny substance, that. It evaporated quickly and didn’t mess up the clothes you were wearing. What a glorious age of technology I’ve found myself in.

    We all met up in the docking bay and listened to the Captain’s briefing on the rules of this event. After all was said and done, I loaded up into my Rifter and had her ready to roll in five minutes. As I waited for the rest of the boys to get their shit squared away, I bullshitted on VCOMMS.

    “Hey Cap’, we can fly any tech one frigate right?”

    Sergeant Davion replied: “Yeah Patches. Go ahead and bring out that Kestrel. I know you want to. You’ll just be the blood in the water.”

    Everyone laughed and agreed with him. “Psh, come now Sarge’. You know I would, but I just don’t see it benefitting me at this point in time. Definitely not in a solo fight. Maybe next round.”

    About twenty minutes later we were all ready to roll. The Company met below the station and were told to start the competition. We all warped off in different directions, ready to scan down and find our prey. When I arrived at moon four, I turned off my VCOMMS. I could still recieve but I wouldn’t transmit anything. In this case, silence is your friend; if you’re quiet long enough, everyone soon forgets about your presence.

    I scanned down Scav’s boat near a moon and warped to his location. When I arrived, I immediately got in range and started unleashing hell with my autocannons. The engagement didn’t go as I had planned, however, and I was down to fifty percent shields by the time that Scav had lost fifteen percent of his shields. If I stayed, I was a goner, so I broke range and got the hell out.

    I flew around for a while and encountered Mocker in a Punisher near an asteroid belt. I kicked myself in the ass for not bringing my Kestrel. A fast long range boat is what I needed to win this particular fight. Mocker’s Punishers were almost always armor tanked, therefore they were slow. Alas, I was not in my Kestrel, so upon exiting warp I found another celestial and warped out.

    “You can’t win if you run away, Patches.” Mocker said with a slight laugh.

    I kept silent and tried a new strategy. My new plan was to ‘vulture’ kill. In other words, scan down two ships at the same celestial and then warp in at range, watch the outcome of the dogfight and then take down the wounded victor. The plan didn’t work as well as I had hoped and I soon found myself engaged by Tiger. He took me out like it was nothing and I headed back to the station in a sour mood.

    The first round wrapped up and the second round qualifiers were being announced and teamed up. I was partnered with Stone and began to set up my speed tanked, long range Kestrel. Stone set up a short range Rifter and we waited to start round two. After my previoius defeat, I was determined in taking down anyone I could.

    The second round started up the same as the first. Stone mentioned that he had picked up a Rifter and a Merlin at either a planet or an asteroid belt near the planet. He wasn’t sure of the location, so I told him to standby and that I would warp to the asteroid belt at range and tell him when to warp in. I arrived in an empty belt; no targets to be found. I scanned down the planet and picked up the Rifter and Merlin. Stone arrived to the belt and I warped towards the planet at range.

    Bingo. Tiger and Anja flying a Rifter and Merlin, respectively. I figured I could outrun the Rifter if necessary and have Stone take it out. I called for him to warp in as I opened fire on Anja at 34 kilometers away. Within seconds Anja was right on top of me and activated his stasis webifier. I was dead in the water. My missiles were doing absolutely nothing to Anja. Shit was falling to pieces.

    Stone arrived almost immediately and said he was going to help me out with Anja because Tigz has bailed. I checked my overview quickly, still trying to do some damage to Anja. Strange, Tigz did leave.

    “Fuck! Patches, I warped in at one-hundred kilometers. Hang on, I’m going to burn towards you!”

    “Shit. Stone, I’m going down. Get the fuck out, Brother.” No sooner had I finished that sentence did I find myself in my pod, floating in space. Once again, I warped back to the station pissed off. I thought for sure I would have made it to the third, and final, round.

    In what seemed like ten minutes later, Stone returned to the station as well. Stone and I monitored the round through VCOMMS after we re-shipped. The Captain was providing a play-by-play commentary and roughly twenty minutes later, she announced the victors: Anja, Tigz, Sergeant Davion, and Mocker.

    Anja and Tigz would be on one team while Sergeant Davion and Mocker would be on the other. According to the rules, both teams would be flying cruisers and would fight to the destruction of both ships from one team. The Captain began taking our bets, and soon thereafter betting was closed; both teams were ready to move out.

    We all warped to a planet and formed an arena of sorts with our ships. The battle went on for a hot minute and we were all getting restless. Eventually Anja and Tigz emerged as the victors and collected their earnings back in station. The time had come to go back to S1, so we went back down to the cloning facility for the transport back. When all of us had arrived, we were told to meet in the docking bay in formation. It had been a long while since the last time we were in formation as a Company.

    We formed four squads in one platoon with Sergeant Davion standing out front. First Sergeant walked towards us holding an elongated black case with the Death’s Head Insignia etched into the side. He walked in front of Sergeant Davion, faced him and set the case down to his right. They both snapped to attention and Sergeant Davion saluted First Sergeant, thus handing command of the Company to Choke. First Sergeant returned the salute and Sergeant Davion fell in with the rest of the Compnay.

    The Captain and Lieutenant arrived minutes later and the same formalities took place, with First Sergeant handing command of the Company to the Captain. The Lieutenant picked up the black case and in a ceremonial fashion and presented it to the Captain. Only I knew the contents of that case and I smirked ever so slightly. The time had come.

——–

    The Captain called me into her office one week before the starbase siege operation. I thought that strange. She rarely ever called anyone to her office. I don’t know what it was about her, but she much preferred talking to the Company in the Briefing Room, cantina, or out in the field of battle. I knocked three times on the door and was told to enter; I did so. 

    The Captain motioned for me to have a seat. “So, Virg’, how are you doing? Everything good?”

    I raised one eyebrow quizzically. “Sure Cap’ things are going well. I can’t complain. Well, I could, but who’d listen right?”

    She smiled, I think (her office was rather dark) and took out a datapad from her desk drawer. “You know what this is?”

    I leaned forward to take a look and said that I hadn’t a clue. The Captain began scrolling through the information contained in the datapad and I caught a glimpse of my name and my Company picture. A file on me. Nothing gets through the brass I suppose.

    “Well Virg’, since you joined the Company, you’ve done some good things. The men have found that they can come to you with anything. You do what you can to motivate them and you help out the FNG’s. Your work on the Ship Catalog in the Company’s Information Database is phenomenal and I’ll make sure that you and the rest of the project team get put in for the Logistics Excellence Award.”

    I leaned back and relaxed again. “Thanks Cap’, I do what I can. What other notes do you have in that file there?”

    “Hmmm. I can’t tell you, but suffice it to say, it’s a very detailed compilation of your activities in the Company.” She emphasized: “Very detailed. However, that’s not why I called you to my office.”

    She stood up, walked towards a large metal cabinet, opened it and pulled out a long black case. She then set the case on the desk in front of her and sat down again. The case was about eight feet long by six to ten inches wide. The Captain opened the case and viewed it’s contents. I tried to peek over the case, to no avail.

    “Do you know what this is Virgil?” Wow. This has to be some serious shit, I thought. She called me Virgil. I don’t think the Captain has ever called me Virgil.

    “I don’t have the slightest, Cap’. What’s in there?”

   The Captain rotated the case so that I could see what was contained therein. I recognized it immediately and a feeling of vertigo encompassed me. It was the fabled Black Lance upon which is hung The Black Company Standard, the Deaths Head Insignia. It was the StandardBearer’s tool. We haven’t seen the Standard uncased since Choke was the StandardBearer and that was too long ago for me to recall.

    “Close your mouth Virg’, you look goofy as fuck.”

    “That’s the Company Standard Cap’. Why’re you showing this to me?” 

    “Well, when I became Captain, I made Kingzmen my First Sergeant, thus opening up the availability for StandardBearer. I let everyone know that I will be looking actively for a new SB.” I nodded and she continued. “I’ve noticed that you have put your best foot forward and have continued to do good things for this Company. You’ve done an excellent job making this place your Home. At this time, I am considering making you the SB.”

    “Thank you Captain, it’s good to know that I’m being considered.”

    “Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a shoe-in. You have to put in your work and continue to do what you do. Do you think you can continue? Do you think you can fill the position of StandardBearer?”

    “I know I can Cap’.” I was pretty intrigued with this new development.

    The Captain then began to lay down what is expected of the StandardBearer: promote Brotherhood amongst the Company, motivate the members; keep them interested and keep the morale up, and just be a symbol that the Company can rally around.

    “There’s one more duty of the StandardBearer, Virg’. According to legend and the Annals, the SB is the Captain’s bodyguard. While I see no need for this as of right now, one can never be too careful. I’ll deliberate on how that job can be filled by you as the SB, but until then, keep up the good work and if I like what I see, then you should see the promotion by this weekend during the ceremony.”

    I nodded, stood up, saluted and walked out of the Captain’s office. Hot damn. Me, the Company StandardBearer? Never in a million years did that thought ever cross my mind. What a mind-job.

——–

    The Lieutenant stood alongside the Captain and assisted with opening the case. Together, they pulled out the Company Standard and the Captain handed the case to the Lieutenant while retaining the Black Lance. Apparently, this was First Sergeants cue to come forward. He stood one pace in front of the Captain, to the right of her. The Lieutenant stepped forward and stood one pace in front of the Captain, to the left of her.

    “Brother Virgil Algheri. Step forward!” First Sergeant can be so damn loud sometimes.

    I stepped out of the platoon and up towards the Captain, Lieutenant and First Sergeant. I took my place in front of the Captain, facing her. First Sergeant and the Lieutenant faced inwards, towards eachother.

    The Captain spoke the loudest I’ve heard her speak. “A Company StandardBearer has been chosen amongst the Brothers. I’ve chosen Patches as the new SB of the Company.” At this time, we were engulfed in a thunderous ‘yar!’ “Virgil has been contributing excellent writing to the Annals and picked up on the Company Information Database by taking the lead and wrapping up the Ship Catalog. He’s stuck through the good and the bad, and gotten his ass chewed out enough times by the First Sergeant, that I know our First Sergeant will make sure he earns this rank. The new SB has a lot to live up to, but I know he will do us all proud.”

    After her speech, the Captain sharply passed the Black Lance, with the Company Standard hung upon it, to First Sergeant. He then passed it to me in a formal manner. I took my cue and passed it to the Lieutenant and he passed it back to the Captain. Why the formalities? Who knows. Maybe it dates back to the earlier days of the Company. I guess I had some reading to do regarding this.

    I took my place in front of the Company, one pace behind and to the left of the Captain and held the Black Lance at parade rest. This would be my new spot during formations and ceremonies. According to legend, the Black Lance was bound in some form of magic. Now, I don’t much believe in the arcane, however something did feel different when I was around it. I chalked it up as having the ability to instill morale and boost adrenaline, nothing more.

    Being the StandardBearer didn’t make me an officer, but according to the position description, it did allude to the possibility of making it to an officer position. Whether that would be the case for me or not, was entirely up in the air. I didn’t worry about it anyway. The time that I am to be the StandardBearer, I will make the most of it and enjoy it.

    The Lieutenant passed a new Death’s Head pin to First Sergeant. Choke walked over to me with a slight grin on his face and handed me the pin, followed by a congratulations. He almost looked proud. I examined the pin before I put it on; same as the Brother pin, except this new one had ruby eyes and a small gold insignia on the skulls brow. The StandardBearer insignia of a single gold line with a gold diamond resting on it.

    The Captain dismissed the Company to the cantina to have a celebration, where we all drank to our heart’s, or stomach’s, content. I was greeted with many a congratulations and ‘yarho’s’. The night ended up as a blur and before I knew it, I was half on, half off of my bunk staring at a pile of vomit. I’m getting too old for that shit.

    “Patches! Captain’s office, time now!” First Sergeant calling me. Well, there certainly isn’t any rest for the wicked around here.

   

 

 

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