MINUTEMEN: THE CRUCIBLE
Office of Captain Jack O’Shea
UNSC Post 53, “Fort Bunker Hill”
City of Boston
September 29, 2552
Three weeks before the invasion of Earth
“Do they still hang traitors?”
Captain Jack O’Shea looked past the holographic displays streaming above his desk and across his spacious office at Master Gunnery Sergeant Gus Reynolds. Jack raised an eyebrow as he waved a hand over the surface of his workspace and powered down the desk.
“I haven’t educated myself on the subject, but I guess it’s pretty timeless, Gus.” The Captain answered, wary of his old friend’s conversational tone.
Reynolds put his freshly polished boots up on the table in front of the wide leather couch and sighed wistfully. “I think that’s how I’d want to go out. Firing squad is just kinda…sudden.”
“You’re in a particularly sunny mood today.”
Reynolds returned to sitting attentively, leaning forward, palms up in conjecture. “I’m just saying. If the kid rats on us—”
O’Shea rolled his eyes. “He’s not going to rat. As I recall, Master Gunnery Sergeant, you hand picked this kid.”
Reynolds shrugged noncommittally. “You can’t know how someone’s going to react to something like this. It’s not like we’re telling him his pet died.”
Jack made a show of powering up the desk again, stopping Reynolds’ train of thought dead in its tracks. “Look,” Captain O’Shea instructed, pulling a Marine dossier literally out of thin air, “This isn’t just some kid we’re talking about here.”
Reynolds stood up to refill his empty coffee mug from the thermos on O’Shea’s desk. “I know.”
“Are you sure?” The Captain asked pointedly. “Do you need another look at the service record?”
Gus put his hands up in surrender. Jack only stretched his hand out to increase the file’s size and resolution and then flicked his hand to spin the hologram so Reynolds had no choice but to see it.
“He’s not a kid. He’s a Marine. And when the corps asked him to put it on the line he did it no questions asked. He swore the same oath we did, Gus. He’ll play ball.”
Reynolds tugged on the hem of his crisp gray duty jacket before sitting down in silent thought. After a moment and a sip of piping hot tasteless coffee, the Master Gunnery Sergeant spoke without a hint of reservation.
“All right,” Gus nodded. “Let’s talk to the kid.”
Jack nodded back, satisfied, and tapped a translucent blue circle hovering an inch over the desk that turned red at his touch. “This is O’Shea,” he instructed casually, “Send in Lance Corporal McHale, please.”
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