Dear readers, tonight with me is a major in the Commonwealth Marine Corps. He is here to tell us about his career as a space-marine, the alien planets he visited, and the lifeforms he found there — at least, tell us as much as he can without needing to kill us afterwards.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there? Why did you leave and what happened them?
I was born on Mykonos. It’s a nice place, around twenty light years from Earth and very Earth-like, or so I’ve been told. I never visited the so-called cradle of humanity except in my dreams, and those weren’t nice dreams. Mykonos is mostly agrarian, mostly temperate and wholly boring. Humans don’t have to struggle for survival like on so many other worlds, and it means most folks are pretty complacent and self-satisfied. That was one of the reasons I enlisted the moment I no longer needed my parents’ permission. I had to get away from that place before I created havoc just to make life more interesting. Looking back after thirty years away and enough adventures to last most people a dozen lifetimes, I realize now that I was the most useless, ungrateful little bastard growing up. Sure, my parents were dull. Whose parents aren’t? But they gave me everything they could so I would become a decent, upstanding human being. A pillar of the community. Instead, just to spite them, I decided to become a rebel without a cause or much of a brain to be honest. Fortunately I decided the best way to rebel would be joining the Armed Services instead of a local gang, or God forbid something like the Confederacy of the Howling Stars, the biggest mobsters in human history. Why the Armed Services? Mainly because my parents were anti-military, a fairly widespread sentiment on Mykonos, by the way. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but now I know it was merely the normal result of living in a safe star system, far from the wild frontiers. I figured enlisting in the Marine Corps instead of the Army or Navy would prove to everyone how tough I was. Funnily enough, I damn near didn’t make it through basic training because of my smart mouth and my adolescent belief that I knew better than anyone else. But the instructors figured out a way to get through the dumbass shell and turn my stupidity into Marine smarts. The rest, as they say, is history. After a few years in an infantry battalion, I applied to become a Pathfinder and finally found my chosen vocation: jumping out of perfectly good shuttles from low orbit so I could smash into unsuspecting enemies from above.
What do you do now?
If I told you, I’d have to kill you. I know – the joke’s so old it’s fossilized by now. But all kidding aside, I’m a Marine on active duty. It’s what I’ve been since the age of eighteen, except for a few years on the inactive reserve after I took early retirement as a command sergeant on account of my temper. Clocking an officer in front of the entire squadron, even if he’s an incompetent career-seeking sonofabitch, isn’t what you’d call a career-enhancing move. The only reason they allowed me to take early retirement instead of facing a court martial was that everyone in the regiment knew I was right. Of course, that’s when my real problems started. I spent a few months traveling from planet to planet, drinking heavily, and trying to look for something. I never found out what that was. Then a naval intelligence officer by the name Hera Talyn — she’s my partner now, by the way — used me to infiltrate a plot against the Commonwealth. Unwittingly, of course. Hera’s a master manipulator. She figured that my old loyalty to the Corps would ensure I did the right thing. It didn’t do our early relationship much good. Once I blew that plot wide open, Hera offered me a return to active duty as a warrant officer. But by then, I had a good thing going with a lovely lady called Avril. Sadly the good thing didn’t last. The folks behind the plot I foiled tracked me down and took their revenge by killing Avril. They sold me into slavery, which was as painful as you might imagine, but I escaped. When Hera Talyn caught up with me, I took the offer of a return to active duty, this time as a chief warrant officer, with naval intelligence’s special operations section. What do we do, you ask? We run the blackest of black ops against the Commonwealth’s domestic enemies, those threatening our hard-won civil peace. Hera and I are one of many teams who live most of their lives under assumed identities and faces, crisscrossing the Commonwealth and cleaning up messes left by feckless, corrupt, or thoroughly stupid politicians and their backers. Sometimes we clean up those messes with extreme prejudice. I’m a major now, after accepting a direct commission, but the job hasn’t changed in all those years since Hera brought me in from the cold. I still hunt enemies of the Commonwealth with her. Continue reading “Zack Decker (of the Decker’s War series, by Eric Thomson)”