Please do remember this story is not intended for those under 18.
The Mother Ship drifted slowly near the Nuke’s asteroid, safe and sound. Miguel stood anxious outside the ship’s Conference Room with his newfound friend- the ambiguous Lieutenant Rubelli. Miguel fiddled with his finer uniform suit. Black, with his Combatant patches and emblems delicately sewn on. Ina was right, he was naturally skittish, and being here with a Nuke didn’t help Miguel-no matter how handsome the Nuke looked in his uniform. Rubelli was tan somehow in space. That was always a good thing. Perhaps aware of Miguel’s observations, The Nuke cleared his throat.
“Relax, Pedro.” Rubelli jabbed Miguel on the shoulder gently, but Miguel brushed the Lieutenant’s touch off his uniform. He was still a Nuke.
“It’s Staff Sergeant Miguel Carlos Santiago Rafael.”
“Lieutenant Jason Rubelli,” He offered his hand so casually, as if there was never anything but friendship and allegiance between Combatants and Nukes. As if! “My friends call me Rub.”
“I’m sure.” Miguel denied the handshake, but Rubelli’s uniform wasn’t so different from his own. Dark blue, with shiny buttons about which Miguel suspected Rub was equally vain. Anyone with that perfect a buzz cut was self centered indeed.
The Conference Room doors slid open, and Captain Westmayer joined the boys.
“It’s nice to see everyone getting along,” Westmayer hoped. Miguel could tell when the Captain’s pitch changed. Westmayer said what he wished for, not what he saw. “Where’s Jess?”
“We’re waiting on her?” Rubelli rolled his eyes. So he did have some animosity! Although, JJ had that effect on most people. She took getting used to, there was no doubt. But she was a good officer, a well admired leader whether she knew it or not.
“JJ will be here, Captain,” Miguel assured.
The clang of high heeled shoes echoed down the corridor, and JJ approached the trio. Normally JJ was formal enough in her GI pants and hard pony tail, but this was an occasion! Her hair was clean, neat, and slicked back in a twist. She wore her black dress uniform-buttoned perfectly from the collar to her knee grazing hem. Medals adorned JJ’s left breast, and her hat remained tucked perfectly under her arm. JJ’s only blights were the cuts across her forehead and a swollen lip courtesy of Rubelli. At least his nose swelled, too.
“Finally.” Rub rolled his eyes more, but glanced back at JJ.
“Captain, Miguel, and you.”
“Call me Rub, JJ.”
“It’s Lieutenant Johnson.”
Rub smiled and looked down at the rigid seams of JJ’s hose. “Is that what took you so long? It’s good to know you clean up nice.”
Oh my God!
Captain Westmayer sighed and entered the Conference Room. JJ followed and sat on the Combatant side of the u shaped table. Miguel sat next to her, but Rubelli took his place beside a tall, dark man waiting in the Nuke’s corner.
“Colonel Gauthier, Lieutenant Rubelli of the Nuclear Division,” Westmayer stood inside the table and addressed his guests. “Thank you for coming aboard. Lady and Gentlemen, we are allied.”
Westmayer sat and the solid Colonel Gauthier rose. Also dressed in his finest and adored with ribbons, the Colonel might have been a looker in his day, had it not been for the ugly circumstances the comet put us into. JJ shifted beside Miguel before The Colonel’s presentation even began. Miguel looked at her, but JJ watched Rubelli’s sight line- it was beneath the table gawking at her rustling stockings again. Gauthier sighed and Rub paid attention to his superior.
“Captain, we’ve had this Alliance in the pipeline for some time, but I can tell Lieutenant Johnson needs an explanation.”
JJ straightened and turned to Westmayer. “May I speak freely, Sir?”
“Whatever you say isn’t going to scare them away,” Westmayer braved. He’d love to control JJ on this if he could. Of course he knew he couldn’t.
JJ remained collected before Colonel Gauthier. “You can’t expect me to change overnight. We’re lucky most of the unit only suffered bumps and bruises from your stun weapons. Two, however, did die, and unfortunately, 17 people were on the crashed drop ship. I’m going to weigh this Alliance on those people.”
“Not to mention the thousands of Combatants killed on Isosceles due to your chemical weapons,” Miguel supported. Nukes had once been with Combatants against the Shippers. The high tech shipbuilders had abandoned both factions on earth, but once the leftovers made it to the nearest inhabited planet, the Nukes turned, too.
“Part of this Alliance is accepting responsibility for our actions,” Gauthier admitted. “The comet that ruined earth was beyond our control, but the war and factions we have caused can be rectified here and now.”
JJ put her elbows on the table. “As much as I dislike the past, I fail to see the mutual benefits here.”
Gauthier paced inside the divided table. “Our common enemy is a fine place to start.”
“My enemy’s enemy is my friend?” Miguel crossed his arms. Was that their only negotiation? “Captain?”
“The rest of the Mother Ships are in concordance with this Alliance. They will rendezvous with us before Isosceles. A base, new weapons, supplies. Our leadership wants to hear the Nukes’ case.”
“Isosceles?” JJ crossed her arms, too. “Again? Really?”
“Isosceles is not a bountiful planet-naturally or since our weapons altered the planet. We were wrong to put out what Combatants had come there, “The Colonel reiterated. “But it is a home. Ground, not a ship. Lieutenant, Sergeant, your superiors are tired of running.”
“Isosceles?” JJ repeated in disbelief. “That triangular continent can’t sustain cacti.”
JJ let the room still, but could not resist her stubborn tendencies.
“What’s the catch?”
Gauthier straightened his old school brown jacket and leaned on the table.
“Isosceles is running out of resources, but our intelligence has discovered a new planet within five light years. It’s bigger than Earth, and capable of sustaining us all.”
“It’s already inhabited,“ Miguel burst the bubble. “Isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Rubelli picked an inopportune time to speak up. “By the Shippers.”
JJ heals boomed from the Conference Room, but Captain Westmayer followed undeterred. Two hours of particulars with the Nukes. Ugh!
JJ turned on her heel and confronted her Captain. How could he? How dare he!
“You could have told me, Scott. Everything I know has been turned upside down and I’m hearing why from them.”
“I couldn’t tell you because you wouldn’t have gone on the mission. Nukes have intelligence, so do the Shippers. It needed to look like real. Shippers would double their advances if they knew we combined against them to take their planet. Besides, it’s not like your life hasn’t been turned upside down before.”
“Don’t say by the comet, Scott,” JJ almost turned away, but stepped closer to the Captain. If he was going to use history, so could she. “Have you forgotten what the Nukes did? They got to Isosceles first-deflected everybody with their bombs and toys. They turned the Shippers away and stuck us on the Isosceles tundra-after they killed half of us with their engineered viruses!”
Westmayer sighed. “This isn’t about any ethical debates. We can’t go over old ground-“
“Isosceles is old ground! As old as earth. Let’s try there again. Oh, wait!”
“Don’t play on words with me!” Westmayer wasn’t so much angry as passionate. But why be passionate about this? “You don’t have a choice in this, Jess. Think of it as one last mission before you retire. We can finish this here and now. No Shippers. No Nukes- not even Combatants. Just people going home. To a real home, not a bunk.”
“I can’t do it, Captain.” JJ backed away. “Shippers just made off with the choice ships, but Nukes! They’ve always used the comet for their own agenda. I don’t want to work with any Nukes. I don’t want to be on the same ship with them. I can’t. I won’t even be in the same room with them!”
JJ sprinted away from Westmayer before the Captain could reprimand her, as she knew he would like to.
To read the first five chapters of On The Way to New Isosceles, visit Leigh Wood. Author.