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Chapter 52 - What Could Go Wrong[]

28 October 3041
Joshua (Former Outworld System)

"OH, HELL NO!!!" Corporal Crenshaw yelled as he stumbled away from the reeking mess that once had been a SLDF combat ration where he dropped it. He made sure he had not gotten any of it on his hands or uniform while making gagging noises.

"Not even a little bite?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell asked

"Shoot me first, Sir. But no way am I even getting close to that mess. You try it, lead by example sir." Corporal Crenshaw fired back.

Leftenant Colonel Mitchell looked at the SLDF combat ration he had yet to open in his own hands. Crenshaw had sandbagged him with his own morality, never ask your troops to do what your not willing to do yourself. He tore the ration open, and the smell hit him as though someone had vomited on him. An immediate urge to puke seemed to overwhelm him but he fought it back. Holding the ration at full arms reach he glanced around him, and all his troops had taken about 6 steps backwards away from where he stood. That was not a good sign, he thought. It was as though he was holding a live grenade with the spoon already released. He took a step forward and the troops in front of him backed up two steps. Finally, he tossed the reeking ration into a hole. As soon as the ration took flight from his hand, you would have thought he had tossed a grenade the troops scattered so fast.

"Dear god. The SLDF sure failed to come up with a way to properly store rations like they could everything else. Someone bury that crap and mark it as a biohazard." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said. "Wear your Marine Suits, no one should be exposed to that mess."

A collective sigh of relief came from the gathered troops. To a person, they had seriously thought he was gonna taste that stinking mess. Worse, they knew that if he did, so would they. Worse than a possible suicide mission, at least with that you had a chance, eating one of those rations surely would have been a death sentence, and a cruel one at that.

Leftenant Colonel Mitchell turned and made his way thru the assembled troops to find Master Sergeant Caldwell counting some money. He had won the little bet on whether he would go thru with tasting that garbage. "I knew you had some brains left in that head of yours, Sir. Not many, but some left."

"You made such a great speech too. Almost had everyone convinced the rations would be good to go. They are SLDF issue after all, they stowed everything so good that even centuries later everything is as though it left a factory floor. Until Crenshaw opened his up that is. The best part was when you tossed that ration, those battle hardened troops had the fear of God on their face as they scrambled away. They might follow you into hell, but you were pushing your luck with those rations. One of them might bust a cap in you if you forced the issue. A soldier can only take so much before he snaps." Captain Gweneth Rolando said before starting to laugh, followed by nearly everyone gathered

"Ha ha, very funny indeed, but this just leaves us one option less. I do not like how close we are going to be cutting our supplies as it is." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell replied with a smile.

"Sir, just go back to Inner End and rent some extra cargo haulers. We will stay here and guard our find. I would rather chip in part of my bonus to do that than even contemplate having to choose between starving to death or eating that slop. That is my suggestion. We haul all this up to the station, we are looking at a month of travel time alone for a single trip there and back. We have to make like 6 trips. That does not count unloading to the station where we cannot just drive the damned stuff off the dropship. Hell, use my entire bonus for that, I am making good money anyway.", Sergeant Nathan Davis said

"Davis, you keep up with all the sane thoughts and you might make officer." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell replied

"That means I would outrank Master Sergeant Caldwell and Sergeant Major Pullman, now that would be a hoot." Sergeant Davis said

"Up until some brakes slip and you get run the hell over, Davis. And I would just love to see you try and pull rank on Sergeant Major Pullman." Master Sergeant Caldwell replied

"Okay, I will make the run to Inner End and rent some haulers. If this is a typical SLDF cache site, we might need to invest in outright buying a few more cargo haulers. Big ones. I just hate leaving everyone out here." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell said

"Worried about pirates? Hell, Sir, we beat on the Combine good enough on Breed. No pirates are going to take this cache from us. No way." Sergeant Davis said with confidence.

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