The first words out of my mouth as we drove through the gates were not very flattering to my new home. “What a dump!”
I heard laughter from the front seat. Sergeant Fraiser, he introduced himself during the drive looked back at me in the drivers mirror. “One small piece of advice young-ling. A military academy can be a cutthroat kind of place. When in doubt stay quiet and listen. Keep your opinions to yourself, whenever possible. That being said you have an advantage over most of the boys already here. You do not act your age and they do. For whatever reason call it eugenics or growing up on a farm, you can pass for a preteen not an eight year old girl. If you are this tough now think how you will be in four years. Now, I have volunteered to be your hand-to-hand instructor. You may come to me with any question you may have. I may not always answer you, but I will listen. Just so you know, Sergeant Major Sully is a good friend and former comrade-in-arms.”
I sat with my mouth open and just stared at the Sergeant. I said a small prayer to keep the Sully’s safe because knowing them has been a personal blessing.
He laughed again. “Close your mouth Cadet Lee. Make sure you answer the commandant respectfully and everything will work itself out. Trust me.”
The aircar pulled up to a decaying two-story building with two antique laser cannons set in concrete outside it. The Sergeant and I got out. He proceeded me into the Academy administration building. A large desk sat in the middle of the room next to a well worn set of staircases. An older man in what I later learned was the school uniform sat behind the desk.
The older man looked up from his console and smiled at the sergeant. “Sergeant Fraiser, what may I do for you today?”
“Commander Heally, may I present Cadet Minerva Lee.”
The commander peered at me over his desk. “Welcome to Three Ships Cadet. I have heard a great deal about you lately. I believe that this will be a very interesting school year.”
I took a chance and said something. “Hopefully what you heard has been good.”
“Ah ha, she speaks. Yes Cadet. Much of what has been said has been good. You have had some good teachers already and they speak well of you. Now, Colonel Gould is waiting for you in his office. The good sergeant will show you the way. If you have questions or need advice feel free to ask what you will.” He turned away from me and went back to whatever he was working on. I looked over at Sergeant Fraiser, he smiled and pointed toward the stairs.
The Second floor had a less worn appearance .Everything had a sharper edge to it than the rest of the building. Paintings of space battles and a few Old Earth historical events lined the walls. We passed several unmarked doors on the way to the ornate on at the end. I glanced at the sergeant. He looked down at me and said. “Conference rooms and the instructors use them as offices occasionally. My office is in the fitness center so I can be closer to my students.”
Sergeant Frasier knocked on the door at the end of the hall. A voice called “come.” We entered into a large office about the size of mamma’s kitchen back home. Comfortable looking chairs and a small love seat sat in the middle of the room around a small table. A large antique desk dominated the rear of the room. Old-style file cabinets and vid screens took crowded the rear wall. The man at the desk older. He had deep set eyes and gray around his temples. He was staring at me like a farm cat might stare at a rat.
“Sir, Sergeant Fraiser with a party of one.”
“Thank you Sergeant that will be all.” The sergeant turned on his heel and left the room closing the door behind him. The Colonel peered at me. “So you are Minerva Lee. You are bigger than what I expected. Good. It will allow you to compete better. I have spoken at length with Governor Stoner about you and the political nightmare you started.” He hesitated a moment.
To this day, I truly think he did it to intimidate me just a little.