I wonder…

Where they are going with THIS study…

Sixty-six percent of Veteran firearm owners stored at least one firearm unlocked, and 46.7 percent stored at least one loaded.

Storing a firearm loaded and unlocked was more common among Veteran firearm owners who:

  • Disagreed that firearms should be stored unloaded and locked when not in use
  • Agreed that firearms are not useful for personal protection if the owner has to take time to load or unlock them
  • Agreed that having a firearm in the home makes the household safer

Full article, HERE at Science Daily.

Honestly, I think this number is probably low…

The article goes on to prattle about Veterans Health Administration (VHA) initiatives to stop suicide and claim this is the first ‘comprehensive’ study…

But the total numbers are less that 4000 interviewed, with only a little over 550 veterans interviewed. That, to me, is NOT a comprehensive dataset. There are roughly 20.4 MILLION veterans in the USA, so to have a statistically significant study, one would need to systematically sample over 200,000 people!

Sigh… But they will run with this data, and I’m betting we (VA users) will start seeing more and more intrusive questions concerning gun ownership and storage in the home.

The Grey Man snippet…

The usual caveats apply… Sigh…

Instructing again

SAC Coleman led Bucky and the old man into the instructor’s lounge saying, “You can hang out here. We’ve got another hour before you’re on. There’s coffee, and there might be a Danish or two left. The bathroom is down the hall on the left.”

Coleman left and Bucky said, “I need to hit the bathroom. Be back in a minute,” as he followed him out. The old man made a bee line for the coffee, and poked through the remaining Danishes, What happened to the donuts? How hard is that… Crème cheese, crème cheese, dunno what the hell that one is…

He took the cup of coffee and wandered around the room, looking at the pictures and plaques on the wall, chuckling to himself at the pats on the back some of the plaques displayed. As he walked back to the coffee pot, he heard, “Hey, what are you doing in here? This area isn’t for visitors, it’s only for instructors.”

He turned and look at a youngish, dark haired, slightly pudgy man standing belligerently in the doorway. “Who said I wasn’t an instructor?”

“You’re wearing a visitor badge, that doesn’t allow access back here. You need to leave!”

The old man grinned, “You gonna make me, boy?” Noting a different badge hanging from the man’s jacket, he switched the coffee cup to his left hand and dropped his right hand to the hem of his jacket, as he bladed up on the man.

Something in the old man’s eyes stopped the young man, and he took off without another word as Bucky came strolling back in, “What the hell was that all about?”

The old man shrugged, “Beats the hell outta me. Some punk didn’t like me being in here with a visitor’s badge on. I invited him to throw me out.”

Bucky shook his head and laughed, “Dammit John, you’re getting grouchy in your old age.” Reaching for his belt, he pulled his badge off, and slipped it into the front pocket of his jacket, “The shit I gotta do to keep you out of trouble. You could have just shown him your badge.”

“Why spoil his fun? If he’d asked politely…”

Coleman came in shaking his head, “Fucking students. One just came up and said that there was an old man… Ah crap, Captain, what did you do?”

Bucky laughed as the old man said, “Didn’t like his asshole attitude, so I invited him to throw me out.”

Coleman burst out laughing, “Oh lovely. You bruised that poor baby agent’s ego and his sense of invulnerability. He’ll probably have to have a timeout in his safe space now.”

The old man shook his head, “Has it gotten that bad?”

“Damn near. We’re having to teach more touchy feely crap now than ever before. And we can no longer post grades. That’s demeaning to the lower scoring agents. Speaking of which, I talked to the baby agent’s instructor, and he’s going to have them sit in on your lecture to the NA class.”

“I ain’t going to sugarcoat things. And some of the pictures are pretty nasty. Maybe your babies don’t want to see it, but the cops on the streets need to.”

“Show it, they need a dose of reality.”


SAC Coleman finished introducing the old man, “Having said that, Captain Cronin has over forty years in the field as a deputy sheriff in South Texas, in addition to his tour with DEA. He graduated from National Academy twenty-eight years ago. He and Supervisor Grant will give the presentation as a tag team. Now for you agents in training, this is outside your normal curriculum, but we felt it was worth your time to hear from people on the front lines of the drug and human smuggling battle.”

Bucky ran through the recent operations the DEA had conducted, and gave an overview of the Laredo border crossing, noting that all of the southern border crossings used similar procedures. He turned to the old man, “And now for the meat, so to speak, I’ll turn it over to Captain Cronin. He’s old, he’s grumpy, and he personally has been responsible for twenty-two tons, yes tons of product taken off the street, and untold lives saved. John?”

The old man walked to the lectern, advanced the slide, and looked out over the auditorium. He nodded to Aaron, and was surprised to see Matt sitting next to him. How did, ah not going to bother. Guess the girls and kids are shopping. “Contrary to what you see in the media and in the reports, we’re pretty much losing the battle with the smugglers. We get one, two, maybe three of ten shipments. And it’s not just coke and marijuana, it’s now heroin, meth, and Fentanyl. They are creative, they are ruthless, and they will use any tactic at their disposal to get whatever they are smuggling across the border.” He advanced through a number of vehicle slides, showing the hidden compartments, and more slides with the cocaine, heroin, and Fentanyl hidden in various things, from furniture to watermelons.

“Now I want to talk about human trafficking. It’s not just Hispanics coming across the border, nor is it adults. It’s all nationalities. And some truly bad people, including terrorists.” He clicked the money slide, “Five thousand dollars is the basic fee charged per person. Now you might get a discount if you agree to be a mule and carry a fifty pound pack of cocaine across when you come, but you might not. And if you die in route, too bad, so sad. Hundreds of bodies are found each year in the desert in the southwest. Many of them are female or young, including a week old baby.”

He advanced to the line of bodies after the incident at Monahans, and heard groans from the audience, “This was a seventy-five thousand dollar haul for the coyotes. The truck driver did not know what was in the trailer, it’s called no touch freight. It was a sealed trailer pickup in El Paso, with a drop at a yard in Oklahoma City. It was over one hundred degrees in the trailer, and the illegals had been stuffed in the trailer for at least two days. Seven of them died either in the trailer or at the hospital later, including another baby. And the FBI didn’t know a single thing about this group.”

He turned to the agents in training, “Y’all don’t really do a lot with human trafficking on this scale, or the day to day drug runners. You like to run two or three year investigations, then swoop in and arrest as many as you can.” He shrugged, “Granted it gets you good press, but it doesn’t endear you to the folks on the street.”

The same youngish man stood up, “But you’re supposed to cooperate with federal law enforcement. That’s the law!”

Laughter from the NA students gave him time to frame his answer, and he asked, “Where did you go to law school, son?”

“Harvard Law, if you must know. And I’m not your son!”

The old man grimaced, “Thankfully.” Which prompted a laugh from the NA students again. “Son, lemme give you a little real world advice. You may know the law inside and out, but if you go out on the street with that attitude, you’re never going to get cooperation from the locals on the ground. You try to tell a career officer what to do, he or she is going to ignore you. And the whole department will ostracize you and the local office. Don’t believe me?” He pointed to the NA students. “Ask any of them. Hell, ask any of them what their current level of cooperation with the FBI is.”

That prompted another round of laughter, and Bucky got up to stand beside him, “Any questions on smuggling or human trafficking? We’ve got ten minutes left.” After a few more questions, Coleman dismissed the group, and the old man said, “Sorry about that. But that little asshole needs to get an education before he hits the street. You’ve got enough problems out there today without people like him adding to it.”

Coleman grinned, “Hell, I thought it was great! Personally I doubt that he will survive the basic course. He’s got an attitude problem, not just with the other students, but also with some of the staff instructors that aren’t lawyers. You guys did a great job, and I’d appreciate copies of your presentation, if I could get it.”

Bucky pulled a thumb drive out of the computer and handed it to him, “Voila! With all the background material, including John’s papers that were done for the DEA, FBI, and the Academy here.”


Aaron and Matt came out of the dorm, saw the old man leaning on his rental and walked quickly over. Aaron said, “I was showing Matt the dorm. I figured you didn’t need to see them again, since they’re the same ones you lived in, apparently.

“Yep, same brown building, same entry. We were on the second and third floors, with the baby agents on the fourth. Don’t miss that a bit!”

Matt looked around, “Any idea where the girls are?”

“Jesse said something about the exchange, bathrooms, and lunch.” Pulling his sleeve back, he glanced at his watch, “They said they’d be back by two. And it’s now two-thirty.”

Aaron shook his head, “I swear, she’ll be late to her own funeral. I guess we wait, since you can’t use phones on base.”

Matt chimed in, “Do we want to go to the museum today, or go by the Batt today and museum tomorrow? And Felicia said we’re taking the kids tonight so you and Jesse can have a little private time.”

The old man coughed to cover a laugh, “The bat?”

Aaron laughed, “Weapons battalion. That’s where we worked out of for range training. Some pretty neat things over there, and that’s also where the rifle and pistol teams are out of.”

Jesse, Felicia, and the kids pulled up in the van, and Jesse called out, “Sorry. Took a little longer than we thought. Where are we going?”

The men looked at each other and Aaron said, “Lets go to Weapons Battalion. That’ll be fairly quick.”

The old man flipped him the keys, “You drive. You know the base better than I do.” He climbed in the back seat, laughing as he continued, “Bout damn time I had a driver!”

Aaron mumbled something that Matt laughed at as they got in the car, and Aaron drove through the base to the battalion. Parking in the lot, they piled out and Aaron led the way, holding hands with Jace, as Jesse carried Kaya. Matt had Esmerelda by the hand and Felecia carried Matt, junior, with the old man bringing up the rear and shaking his head.

Aaron stopped at the desk, and the sergeant on duty asked, “Can I help you?”

Aaron said, “Just wanted to look around, Sarge. We,” pointing to Matt, “used to be instructors here. Doesn’t look like much has changed up front.”

The sergeant laughed, “It’s the Corps, sir. Nothing changes.”

They all laughed, and a voice came out of the back of the building, “I know that gahdamn voice!”

The sergeant popped to attention and whispered, “Master Guns.”

Aaron and Matt looked at each other, until Master Gunnery Sergeant ‘Snake’ Venman strode into the front office. A grin split his face, and he came around the counter, grabbed Aaron in a bear hug and laughed, “You sumbitch! Where have you been hiding?”

Aaron pounded him on the back, “Snake! Master Guns? Is the Corps in that bad a shape that they promoted you?”

Snake laughed, “Desperation makes strange things happen. Mizz Miller, it’s nice to see you.” He knelt and looked at Jace, “And you must be Jace! Last time I saw you, you were a baby!”

Jace piped up, “I not a baby.”

Everyone laughed and Snake replied, “Not anymore,” as he got up.

Aaron said, “Snake, this is Matt Carter, his wife Felicia, Esmerelda, and Matt, junior.”

Jesse added, shifting Kaya, “And this is Kaya. Good to see you too.”

Snake shook hands with Matt, “I remember you. You ran the range at Pendleton, with Moretti.” He nodded to Felicia, “You and Matt weren’t married when you were at Pendleton, were you?”

Felicia smiled, “Not originally, we got married in Texas, then came back to Pendleton.”

He turned to the old man, “And you must be John Cronin. Aaron talked about you a lot.”

They shook hands and the old man said, “I’m pretty sure they were lies.”

Snake laughed, “I doubt that. So what the hell are y’all doing up here?”

Aaron replied, “I’m going through the FBI’s National Academy for law enforcement, and John came up to give a presentation on smuggling. Matt and Felicia just came along for the ride, since Felicia has never seen this place. Wish I’d known you were here.”

“Well, now you know. I’ll tell the old lady. She’ll be happy to see you, and cook something you and me can maybe eat. Or I’ll do a BBQ. Y’all want to look around?”

Aaron glanced at everyone and saw heads nodding, and Snake told the sergeant, “If the colonel starts looking for me, I’m giving some old farts a tour. Be back in a while.”

Snake grabbed his cover, and led them through the facilities, including the armory, classrooms, and the marksmanship unit’s spaces, where a copy of the National Team and National Infantry Team trophies were centered in the display case. Snake said, “We won both this year. The kids are damn good.”

Felicia asked, pointing to the targets on the walls, “What are those?”

Snake looked around, and said, “Those are match winning or perfect targets. They go back years.”

“But they are so big.”

All the men laughed, and Matt said, “Not a thousand yards,” as he hugged her.

Felicia smiled ruefully, “I didn’t think about that.”

They piled back into the cars and Snake directed them over to the 1000 yard range, where a class was shooting. Getting out, Felicia elected to stay in the car with the kids, but everyone else got out and Snake passed out earplugs, “This is the sniper class that’s about to graduate. They’re shooting the different weaps to see which ones they are best on, and famming on the M82s.”

The old man asked, “What calibers?”

“Three-oh-eight, three-thirty-eight, and fifty.”

They heard a call, “Cold range. Cold range. Safe your weapons, open bolts. Standby until released by the instructor.”

Jesse asked curiously, “Break time?”

“That and switching shooter and spotter. Both need to get experience on the guns and spotting.”

The old man commented, “Very nice range. And some interesting winds.” Snake looked at him and he continued, “Different wind at what, six hundred than at the pits.”

Snake grinned, “Yeah, it is a challenge. Think you could hit the target?”

The old man laughed, “Ain’t that much of a challenge. But you got kids to teach.”

“Oh we can a few extra minutes. Three-oh-eight or three-thirty-eight?”

“Either one.”

“Want me to spot?”

“Nah, my spotter is here.” He turned and got Jesse’s attention, “Spot for me?”

“Papa what the hell are you doing?”

Shoving a thumb at Snake he said, “The master guns here doesn’t think I can hit the target from here.” He took his jacket off, handing it to Aaron with a wink, “Hold this. Looks like I got some more instructing to do.

Jesse rolled her eyes, “Oh my God. Yes, I’ll spot for you.  Men!”

Snake called out, “Gunny Suarez, what target were you on with your students?”

A squat lean Gunny stood up, “Nine, Master Guns.”

“Gonna have a little demonstration. Mr. Cronin is going to show these kids how an old man shoots. Meet him at the gun, please.”

The gunny met the old man and Jesse at the rifle, and the old man asked, “Where is it zeroed?”

Gunny Suarez said, “It was zeroed at three hundred. Corporal Hines was on with it as set at a thousand. He was center punching the silhouette. You familiar with an MRAD, sir?”

The old man chuckled, “A little bit. Thanks Gunny.” Turning to Snake, he said, “One sighter, then I’m good.”

“Only one?”


Jesse grumbled, “Glad I’m not in a skirt. What got you spun up?”

The old man grinned, “I’ve always heard about this place, never got to shoot here. Now I can say I did shoot here.”

Jesse sighed, “Papa, you are crazy. Just… Gah…”

“Let’s do this.”

They heard the call, “Eyes and ears, hot range. Hot range. Target nine, you are clear to fire.”

He snuggled down behind the gun, got his position and said, “Target nine, correct?”

Jesse swung the spotting scope slightly, “Nine.”

He ran the bolt, dry fired, and ran the bolt again, dry firing a second time, “Nice trigger. I like mine better, but I can shoot this. One round, sighter.”

“Wait, let me see where the other impacts are. Okay, got them. If you shoot high center, it’s clean.”

The old man wiggled again, then said, “Target.”

“Send it.”

BOOM. Ting. Jesse said, “One half MOA down from the shoulder, half MOA right.”

“Got it.” He reached over and grabbed a magazine, checking to make sure it was fully loaded and slammed it home. “Here we go.”


“Send it.”

BOOM. Ting. Boom, ting four more times, and he said, “Okay, head shots.”

Jesse sighed, “You sure?”

“Yep, target.”

“Send it.”

BOOM. Ting. “Center of the head. Hold what you’ve got.”

Four more rounds went down range, each one a hit. He dropped the mag, opened the bolt and rolled off the gun grinning, and Jesse said, “You’re safe. Papa, I… you… are nuts.”

“Hon, I’m an old man. Lemme have my fun. You want to try it, there’s another full mag sitting here.”

Jesse looked back at Aaron, who was standing with Snake and Matt, and she saw him roll his eyes. The old man said, “She should get to shoot it, since that’s the way y’all train, right?”

Snake shook his head and smiled, “Go ahead Mizz Miller.”

Jesse switched positions with the old man, grumbling, “I must be as crazy as you are. Dammit Papa, I’m not… Oh to hell with it. Where were you holding?”

“Center, one dot right for wind. Same wind. Load and go.” He turned, “Going hot.”

Snake echoed, “Going hot, aye!”

One of the gunnies standing behind the line snarked, “Bet she gets less than two hits. She’s shooting wrong handed, she’ll never get that bolt…”

Matt leaned over, “I’ve got a hundred says she goes ten for ten.”

The gunny snapped around, looked at Matt and grinned, “You’re on.”

Another gunny laughed and said, “Damn, I should’a thought of that.”

Aaron chuckled, “I’ve got another hundred for you, Gunny.”

The gunny looked at Aaron and back to the Jesse, “Hell, why not. She ain’t got any graveyards I’ve seen.”

Aaron smiled, “I’ve seen ‘em. They’re real. He turned to Snake, you want in?”

“Nah, I’ll pass. I heard about her shooting a Pendleton. And she taught my wife, remember?”

“Smart man.”

Jesse wiggled down, unaware of what was going on behind her, and said, “Target on nine.”

“Send it.”

BOOM. Ting. “Center. Hold what you’ve got.”

Nine more times Jesse sent rounds down range, with nine more hits. She dropped the mag, opened the bolt and said, “Safe.”

The old man said, “Safe.”

She rolled off the gun and got up, brushing off her blouse and pants, “Oh well, I can change when I get back to the hotel. She looked up to see Matt and Aaron collecting money, with Snake laughing and she shook her head. “Men. They bet on me, didn’t they?”

The old man laughed, “Probably.”

As they walked back up to Snake, the young troops gathered round, and they heard the susurration of multiple comments, “Damn, I can’t shoot that. Did you see her shoot…”

Snake held up a hand, “Marines, let this be a lesson. Mr. Cronin here has been a sniper for how long?”

The old man cocked his head, “Oh, about fifty years, give or take.”

“And Mizz Miller?”

Jesse said, “I’m not, not really. I’ve been Papa’s spotter for… twelve years.”

“Marines, this is why you never underestimate anyone in the field. If you get in combat. The sniper you may be facing might be just like either one of these folks. Do not, I repeat, do not underestimate your opponents. Break is over, back on your guns.”

The old man looked at him, “Teaching point, eh?”

Snake grinned, “And to knock some of the smart ass out of them. They’re good, but they need to be humbled on occasion. And I was pretty damn sure you’d do that.”

The old man laughed, “You used us, and I used you. Fair trade.”

Jesse smiled, “And I need to go to the bathroom. Are we through with the dick beating now? Aaron, since you won that money on me, you are buying everybody dinner.”

Everyone laughed as she headed for the van, and Snake wrapped his arms around Aaron saying, “Y’all have fun. Aaron, give me a call when you get time off. Same number.”

Aaron pounded him on the back, “Will do, thanks for the tour, Snake.”

Humor me here…

Now we all know that PETA has forced Barnums’ Crackers to change their box to this…

It represents their ‘utopia’ that doesn’t even come close to reality…

Now ‘my’ proposal would be a little more realistic, and I’d credit it to PETA too…

h/t Tom and Jeff for that one

And apparently somebody designed a ‘new’ vending machine for the south side of Chiraq… Takes a dollar coin! 🙂

Of course they need to expand their selections a little bit… 😀

h/t JP




Interesting, and true…

I’m old enough to remember the riots and the media coverage, both in the papers and on the three channels we got… And it went on for days…

Fifty years ago tonight, a great American political party was murdered by its own children and closest friends.

The party in question was the Democratic party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and JFK, which perished during the riots in Grant Park, Chicago, on the night of Aug. 28, 1968, in the midst of the party’s national convention.

Full article, HERE on the National Review.

This was, if I remember correctly, also the point at which the media really changed their coverage of not only Vietnam, but also the draft dodgers, protesters, and others who were anti-American.

They were lauded, law enforcement was vilified, and Bezerkley really became the forefront of the ‘protest’ generation when Haight Ashbury collapsed in early 1968 due to overcrowding. Remember, this was only a year or so after the hippies started in Haight Ashbury, and the psychedelic rock music was receiving more and more commercial radio airplay.

The Monterey Pop Festival in June further cemented the status of psychedelic music as a part of mainstream culture and elevated local Haight bands such as the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Jefferson Airplane to national stardom. A July 7, 1967, Time magazine cover story on “The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture,” and other major media interest in the hippie subculture exposed the Haight-Ashbury district to enormous national attention and popularized the counterculture movement across the country and around the world.

And here we are today… Sigh…

This is interesting…

Apparently some of the Brit science is settled crowd are getting up on their high horses… Again…

We are no longer willing to lend our credibility to debates over whether or not climate change is real. It is real. We need to act now or the consequences will be catastrophic. In the interests of “balance”, the media often feels the need to include those who outright deny the reality of human-triggered climate change.

Full article, HERE at the Guardian.

For a good basic primer on the whole climate change hoorah, go to Borepatch’s Blog, HERE. He does an excellent job of laying out the basics in understandable language, with graphs!

One thing I do find concerning, is that the RSS data is now apparently being ‘adjusted’ too… Since this is supposedly the ‘raw’ data, that’s a serious issue, as there is apparently a move to ‘make’ the data align more closely with the models. It’s NOT supposed to work that way. Control/raw data is just that. It’s NOT supposed to be ‘pre-adjusted’ to get the numbers one wants…


Nuff said…

h/t DailyCaller.com

h/t DailyCaller.com

Mr. Ramirez once again nails two issues…


Songbird is gone…

John McCain, AKA Songbird, is now having to answer to a higher power tonight. And this will be one time he can’t lie his way out of what he’s done.

I’m sure the media will lionize him, elevating him almost like another Kennedy, all the while sweeping his real ‘accomplishments’ under the carpet as fast and hard as they can.

But the ‘net has a long memory…

His marriage into the Hensley family, and access to the money…

The Keating scandal- Anybody remember that one? No? Didn’t think so… Here are a couple of refreshers, HERE and HERE.

We will never know the real answer to what he did as a POW, unless they finally find the missing tapes of his broadcasts. The part I have a problem with was his insistence that there were no live POWs left behind after the 1973 release of the Hanoi POWs.  How could he possibly have known that? He was supposedly in the Hanoi Hilton, unless ‘somebody’ told him. There are a number of reports that a number of prisoners were left behind, in other locations. Some were alleged to be seen by witnesses, for more than a decade, into the early 80s. His constant fight to not allow access to the MIA/POW records and debriefs held by the Pentagon has never made any sense, unless there is something in ‘his’ debrief that he doesn’t want to get out, HERE.

Maybe it’s a good thing he spent time in Arizona, it’ll make him a little more accustomed to the heat where he’s gonna be for eternity.

Yep, already lauding him, especially for standing up to Trump, but nothing about his past actions, per se. HERE from the NY Post.

Chief Emory is dead…

A Pearl Harbor survivor who pushed to identify buried unknown remains from the 1941 attack died Monday at age 97.

Ray Emory lived through the early morning Japanese aerial bombing but never forgot those who didn’t. He spent the past few decades doggedly pushing for those unknown buried remains to be dug up, identified and returned to their families.

Full article, HERE at Military.com

He was instrumental in pushing for the identification of the unknowns buried after Pearl Harbor, and could be considered one of the fathers of the Defense POW/MIA Accountability Agency, which now works to identify and return home those from WWII through Vietnam who died on the battlefield.

RIP Chief, know that others have stepped up and will continue your legacy!

Rimworld snippet…

Okay, back on the book I’m supposed to be writing… Sigh…

Unedited, as always. Comments appreciated!


Nicole came in to hear Ophelia breathlessly saying, “Apparently they killed two of those offworld security guys last night. My uncle says the two of them killed six of the people that attacked them.” She stuffed her bag in her assigned cubby, walked toward the vidscreen, picking up the scheduled menu offerings on the way. She stood looking at the reservations for the night as she heard Ophelia continue, “Apparently they landed a shuttle right in the middle of the main intersection blocking traffic for hours!” I need to talk to Ethan. If those were our folks that got hit… I’m not sure how much good I’m actually doing here. Lots of loose talk, but nothing really odd, or that I could actually point at as… rebellious. Maybe it’s time for me to come in out of the cold and help.

Nicole notice there were two private parties scheduled, one labeled Perez and one labeled 3G. As she was puzzling that out, Raymondo swished into the work area, clapped his hands, and said effeminately, “Girls, girls! We’re going to be so busy tonight! We have two privates and three quarters of the other tables are full. Mr. DuMaurier wants to make sure everybody is on their best behavior tonight, capiche?”

A mumbled round of “Okay, yes,” and groans followed Raymondo’s announcement, as he swished over to Nicole. She glanced down at the menu, noting a number of Italianish dishes, and smiled.

Raymondo stepped up and whispered, “You’re not to work the Perez party, only his estate wines will be served, so there is no reason, according to him, for a sommelier. Apparently Mr. Perez doesn’t like you for some reason, but I need you to work the third generation party and the main room.”

Nicole smiled up at him, “Oh, I know why. And the further I can stay from him, the better I like it. Do you want me to at least to make sure the room is prepped correctly?”

“Please. Go do what you do so well!” He said with a smile.

Nicole laughed softly, “I will.” Oh will I ever. She strolled back to her cubby, dug in her bag and pulled out her sommelier pin from her clutch, while palming two more Ferrets. The previous ones had been placed in various locations in the main dining room, and she wasn’t sure if they’d actually done any good, but at least they were passing data, she hoped. She’d already programmed these for passive record and burst transmit after the restaurant closed, and only needed to do the final activation step, which consisted of pressing the gray side of the cube. She snagged a clean towel off the stack and held it casually as she said, “Going to check the private rooms and swing through the main.”

Raymondo nodded distractedly as he was deep in conversation with Otto, the head chef. Nicole remembered her earlier conversation with Raymondo, or Ray, his actual name. Ray’s sharp as a tack. He plays the high queen role well, and it makes people underestimate him. He’s a big part of the success of this place, and Mr. DuMaurier knows it. Ray reads people like a book, which kinda scared me, that he would see through my act, but I guess I’ve carried it off so far.

Nicole checked the first private room, reserved for Perez, and noted it was set for twelve. Five on a side, and one at each end centered in the room. Looking around, she decided to place the Ferret on the ornate frame of the photo mosaic screen that served as a vidscreen if desired. Pulling a chair over, she quickly depressed the gray side, and the Ferret unfolded into its tactical bug like shape as she stepped up in the chair. She found a particularly busy section of the frame and gently pressed the Ferret to it. It automatically attached, changed colors to match the background, and she looked closely as the very small lens swiveled up. Bet that is going to scare the hell out of whoever looks at the initial images!

She replaced the chair, wiping it down to make sure no footprint was visible and repeated the steps in the second private room. It was set up with four tables, so she placed the Ferret on the top of the curtains at the end of the room. Probably lose any low voiced conversations at the far tables, but what the hell. Something is better than nothing. A pass back through the main dining room, and she headed back to the kitchen. She found Otto giving low voiced instructions to the sous and pastry chefs, once he was finished, she asked, “How many of the Italian dishes are light and how many are heavy?”

Otto waggled his hand, “Even split. The red sauce ones are all heavy, the white or no sauce ones are light. And I have the local version of cheese for a variation on Caprese for the salad.”

“So I better go check on the Abruzzis we have in the cellar and make sure we have enough bottles left. I hope somebody puts an order in for more of their wines.”

Otto raised his hands, “Not my job! I only do food, you have to deal with Raymondo for those sins,” he said with a laugh.


Fargo flopped down in the chair angrily, as Jiri looked at him, “Didn’t go well?”

“No, not at all. Apparently the GalPat Intel folks have a higher priority than seeing if they can do anything with the video to enhance it so they could actually catch that son of a bitch. The colonel assured me it will get worked on soonest, whenever the hell that is.”

Jiri cocked his head, “Odd thought, what about pushing the video and other stuff up to the ship? Maybe Liz could do something with it? I know she’s EW, but a lot of those folks are…”

Fargo slapped the desk, “Dammit, why didn’t I think of that? Deity… how stupid can I be?”

“Well, you haven’t had any sleep in over twenty-four divs, and you haven’t taken any stims.”

“Still should have thought of it,” Fargo muttered as he quickly typed a message to Captain Jace and attached all the surveillance data and videos to it. He hit send and leaned back, “And more hurry up and wait.”

Grayson walked into the office juggling a bulb of coffee, “Hot, hot, hot! Dammit… I’ll relieve somebody.” He looked at Fargo and continued, “And that somebody is you, Captain. You look like hammered lizard shit.” He dropped the bulb on the edge of the desk and rummaged through his pack, came up with a little red pill and said, “Take this with a full bulb of enhanced water. It’ll give you six divs down.”

Fargo started to protest, and Grayson looked at him, “This, or I give you an injection for twelve divs. Your choice.”

Fargo grumbled, but he took the pill and got up slowly, “If anything, and I do mean anything comes it, get my ass up. Understood?”

“Yes, sir. Warrant, you need some down time too.”

Jiri nodded, “I caught a couple of hours. A few more wouldn’t hurt. As soon as the eighteen reports come in, I’ll go down.”

Onboard the Hyderabad, Jace processed the message traffic and was glad that both Wallace and Liz were down, and he didn’t have to put on an act for him, even as he wished he could strike something. Less than ten segs later, he’d enhanced the video to the point that when he started the worm searching the world’s database, it should give at least a 50% correlation. That would be good enough to at least start a physical search for the individual. Jace snarled to himself at the cluster of separate databases, lack of continuity, and just plain sloppiness he saw, including in the GalPat det’s on planet database.

In the process of scanning through the databases, he was surprised to learn that none of the first families were actually tracked in any way, only the second and third wave of migrants were tracked daily. Jace figuratively cocked his head, wrote and loosed more worms, and set up tracks on all of the citizens. Something else going on here. This isn’t just about some rebellious young people. What else is going on? Twenty-eight days until I can pick up the surveillance drone we dropped on the way out last trip. That will take eight divs, unless…

Jace processed the track of the drone, calculated its path around the dual suns, and looked at known ship tracks coming into the system. He figured if he powered the drone on low power and change the trajectory, he could shorten the delay to 23.3 days, and it would take the Hyderabad 10.4 divs to retrieve it on the way out. He sent a request for a move order to Orbit Control for 24 divs out to conduct maneuvering in local space for pilot training, citing upgrade training for the second pilot. Jace laughed as he did it, deciding to see if Wallace wanted to try to fly the ship a little bit on training orbits while Hyderabad did its on searching.


Nicole sat down next to Raymondo and grimaced as she kicked off one shoe, rubbing her foot. “What happened,” Raymondo asked.

Nicole wiggled her foot and sighed, “One of those oafs in the three G party stepped on my foot. I think on purpose. He made a grab for my boob and I might have accidently hit his arm with a wine bottle as I fell against the table.”

Raymondo dropped his effeminate act, “Which one? Describe him?” He hissed quietly.

“Blondish hair, rather long, swept back. Faux glasses or at least don’t look like there is any correction in the lenses. Blue eyes, about my height, probably weighs one ninety. Seemed pretty fit. And was acting like he was drunk when he stepped on me, then laughed about it when I was limping away.”

Raymondo shook his head, “Hayden Archer. He’s a shit. He likes to hurt people. Normally he only picks on the younger girls, don’t know why he went after you. His family are the founders of Archer City, and according to his daddy he can do no wrong.”

Nicole snickered, “Well, he won’t be doing any wrong with his right hand for a while. And I’ll guarantee he’s going to have a bruise. There was an interesting dynamic going on in that room too. Archer and five or six others seemed to be in charge, and everyone else there was… it was almost like they were trying to suck up. When I left, the six guys and one girl were at one table, and their dates or husbands or wives or whatever were at the furthest table away from them.”

“I’m not surprised. At least they hopefully don’t do too much damage tonight. Mr. DuMaurier made them pay up and banned them for three months after the last fight. They really don’t have jobs, or they are just jobs in name only. The only one of that generation that I can think of that actually does anything… well, two of them, are the Abruzzis, Dominick and Elena. They actually work, really work in the winery. Dominick is learning the grapes, and Elena is managing the sale and distribution.”

“So two out of how many?”

“About a hundred. There’ve been a lot of consolidations since the Firsties hit the planet. Some died, some went broke, some got broken…”

“And on that note, I’m going to take my sore foot back to the Women’s Lodge and see if I can trick the fresher into letting me soak tonight,” Nicole said as she slipped her shoe back on and stood.

Otto came into the break room carrying a small hot pack and a cold pack. He saw Nicole and handed them to her, “Some salad and my version of Arribbiata, you never stopped long enough to eat.”

She took them and nodded, “Thank you, Otto. Tonight was a little busy. Oh,” she turned to Raymondo, “We need to order more Abruzzi wines. We went through most of the stock tonight. Even some of the more expensive ones.”

Raymondo grimaced, “I’ll talk to Mr. DuMaurier, Mr. Perez is trying to get him to only carry the Perez wines.”

Nicole shook her head, “Big mistake. Perez stuff is average at best, and way overpriced. Abruzzi’s is good, and reasonably priced. He’ll lose customers if they don’t have an option.”

Otto looked at her, “Really? I mean I know sommeliers pair wines, but would they really leave if the right wines weren’t available?”

Nicole laughed, “There was a case a couple of years ago where a multi-planet corporation threatened the Star Lines with a boycott over a wines from an inner world they dropped. They said if the Lines didn’t pick the line back up, the company would take their millions of credits worth of travel elsewhere. Star Lines reordered that wine the next day, with apologies.”

Otto shook his head, “Glad I only cook.”


Fargo and Jiri sat in the little office looking at personnel files, putting people in different columns until Jiri finally said, “Ekavir, it just makes sense for me to go out there. I’ll take Dhiri from site three with me. You can put the GalPat tech, Mac in the watch section. That is the least impact.”

Fargo scrubbed his face, “I know. I think it might be better to go ahead and pull Nicole back in. Maybe she could sort this intel crap out and help us find out who killed Shanni and Lev. And with you leaving, it’s going to be me and Grayson standing watch and watch. Can’t put Boykin on the schedule, since she’s got to be available to fly. It’s going to mean some long days, but we’re down to only a few weeks left.” His data comp pinged, and he glanced at it curiously, then smiled viciously as he projected the picture on his screen, “Looks like this is the perp. Just got this from Captain Jace. If his folks can’t do it, this should at least get the locals started.”

“You going to see the colonel with that?”

“As soon as I get the morning status. I’ll tell him you’re going out to replace Shanni. I… think I’ll send the warrant up to Hyderabad with Shanni and Lev. Get the bodies taken care of, since we’re not leaving them here.” He quickly pinged the picture to the colonel with a cover note.

Jiri nodded, “They deserve to go home, and be buried there.”

“I’m not leaving anybody behind.”

Five segs later, Barun called in, and reported all normal. He was closely followed by Horse, Daman and Thak, who was standing in for Shanni. Only site four had any protesters, and it was only three or four. Fargo put out the plan of Jiri and Dhiri moving to site four, and then told everyone he was going to see the colonel and would be back up in a div with any further information.

As he headed for the colonel’s office, he passed the mess and saw Grayson and Boykin sitting at one of the tables, swinging in he said, “Senior, can you cover the radio till I get back, please? Jiri is going out to site four.” Grayson nodded, and he turned to Boykin, “WO, can you do a lift out to three, pick up Dhiri and drop the two of them at site four, then go up to Hyderabad and leave Shanni and Lev’s bodies with the ship?”

Boykin smiled sadly, “Taking them home, Captain?”

“Yes. I’m damn sure not leaving them here. I don’t…” He shrugged, “Sorry, every once in a while the Marine kicks in. We were taught not to leave anyone behind.”

“That’s the right way to do it, too bad GalPat has never learned that. I’ll be ready to lift in thirty.” She finished her bulb, dropped it in the recycle, and headed for the door. Grayson had already gone, so he continued to the colonel’s office.

He knocked on the colonel’s door and Zhu motioned him in, “Morning, Captain. I got the picture. How are your people holding up?”

That caught Fargo by surprise, and it took him a moment to think, “Uh, not well. They want to go after the perp or perps, they want to find them, question them, and go after whoever paid for this. It was a targeted attack, no question. And Shanni and Lev weren’t doing anything. They only wanted to get something to eat. They hadn’t harassed anybody, none of our people have. Colonel, have you ever been around the Ghorka for any length of time?”

Zhu leaned back in his chair, “Other than basic, not much. When I had a company, I had one as a CSM. We didn’t interact that much, I pretty much let him do what he needed to do.”

“Colonel, what they need to do is find the killer and take care of him. Right now they’re waiting to see what the local law enforcement and GalPat are going to do. But if they don’t see progress, they’re liable to start looking on their own. That’s why Jiri is going out to site four. He can sit on them for a while.”

The colonel snapped forward, “What are you saying?”

“Colonel, to put it bluntly, I’m sitting on a powder keg. I have almost fifty senior combat veterans, mostly E-eights, and E-nines. They know how things should be done. If they don’t see things getting done, they might start helping things get done. Remember, two small men, only armed with personal knives, took on at least eight men who attacked them. They killed six, and disabled at least one more. If they hadn’t been shot in the back, they would have survived.”

“I’ll get this out to the director and her head of security immediately. And I’ll make sure to impress her with the fact that this one shouldn’t be dropped.”

“Thank you, now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get folks moving. By your leave, Colonel.”

Zhu looked up at him curiously, “Will there be a service or memorial?”

Fargo shook his head, “No, sir. We will take them back home. The service and interment will be on Hunter.”

“Very well, dismissed.”


Occasionally one gets to see ‘weird’ things from the old P-3…

And you wanted to see THESE from a distance… Sadly, the ones we took were black and white, but a shipmate sent me this one from another event he was on as reminder…

And then we occasionally got to go play up north… 90 North…


Now I’m an old fart and paying for all those ‘fun’ times. But I wouldn’t change it for the world…