Friday, March 27, 2015

Mail Call (07 APR 2016)

"Everything is in place?" Bradford paused, listening for a moment, before nodding. "Excellent. I'm sure the troops will be happy to hear it. Thank you for your efforts."

Central Officer Bradford hung up the phone, and leaned back in his chair. When the Commander gave the go-ahead at the end of March, he'd expected this to take a lot longer than it had. It turned out that the U.S. Air Force had been surprisingly willing to work with them, helping set up an APO with an obscured address. Now, the troops and technicians of XCOM could send and receive mail and packages without giving up any information about where XCOM HQ was located.

Of course, there'd still be a lot of restrictions on the mail, and privacy was basically not going to happen, but he'd argued, and the Commander had agreed, that mail privileges would strengthen morale. Right now, with only a handful of injuries and only one KIA, morale was pretty high, but Bradford knew that things wouldn't continue the way they were forever. Any enemy with the ability to fly craft between the stars must have more up their hypothetical sleeves than they'd shown so far.

Bradford pulled himself to his feet, stepping out of the small ready room and into Mission Control. As always, the Hologlobe caught his eye, and he saw the red blip signaling the UFO they'd splashed just before he'd received the call from the Peterson AFB post office. He knew that troopers were already gearing up to go out. Hopefully they'd all come home in one piece, to good news.

"Intelligence Officer Pidgeon," he said, scanning the room for the technician. He saw the Australian's head pop up as soon as he spoke, and gestured him over.

"Sir?" the man said, coming to attention as he approached. Bradford waved it off, indicating that he could relax.

"I need you to draft up a memo for the intranet message board. I've sent you an e-mail with the details, but the gist is that we're going forward with the mail service," he explained. IO Pidgeon's eyes lit up, but he remained silent as Bradford continued. "It'll be phased, starting only with letters, but once everything is up and running, we'll be able to handle packages as well. Let me know if you have any further questions, after you've read your e-mail."

"Sir, right away," Pidgeon turned and hurried back to his computer with a spring in his step. Bradford smiled slightly. The man had a wife and two daughters back in Queensland, and he was probably missing them terribly. It'd only been a month so far, but everyone knew this was going to be a long haul.

08 APR 2016

"Hey," Naomi Bowden looked up from breakfast as Lorena approached, tray in her hand. "Have you checked the message boards yet?"

"No," replied Naomi, stifling a yawn. She'd been up late, reviewing the just-published material for the Officer Training School, and had barely managed to drag herself out of her bunk this morning. "Something good?"

"I'll say it is," Lorena replied, sliding her tray across the table, and dropping heavily into the seat next to her. She grinned, and didn't say anything else.

"Well?" Naomi knew that the other woman was baiting her, but she didn't rise to it.

"Bowden!" Jared Houston waved from across the chow hall, hurrying over. "Did you hear?" he said excitedly as he slipped into the seat opposite her. "They're going to start allowing mail!" Naomi glanced at Lorena, who was scowling at Houston; Apparently, he'd scooped her announcement. Then what he'd said really hit her.

"Oh," she said. "Oh, now that's quite good." She glanced around the chow hall, and realized that the place was much more abuzz than it usually was this time of day. Apparently, she was one of the last to know. She smiled, feeling much more awake than she'd been a minute before. Oh yes, quite good indeed.

-

Spencer Donohue walked in from the showers, towel still draped around his neck. He'd also heard the word, and he was pretty stoked about it. He'd had to tell his wife that he wouldn't be able to communicate at all for who knows how long. She'd hated the secrecy, but it wasn't exactly new territory. Most of the operations he'd been on over the years had been classified, though none so secretive as the XCOM Project. He saw Parsons hunched over on his bunk, a pad of paper in his lap, scribbling furiously. Spencer hadn't been by supply yet, but he figured there'd be a run on writing paper. Parsons might be willing to share, though. 

"Hey man," he said as he approached. Parsons glanced up with a smile, clipping the pen to the edge of the notepad. "I don't suppose you could spare a few sheets for a comrade?"

"Absolutely," Parsons replied, flipping a few pages and carefully tearing out several blank sheets. "This stuff'll be like gold until the next supply truck." 

"Thanks, man," Spencer replied, taking the paper. "You writing your.." He paused, glanced at the man's hands, and saw no wedding ring. "your girlfriend?" 

"No," Parsons shook his head. "Boyfriend, back in Sydney."

"You're.." Spencer trailed off, startled. 

"Yeah," Parsons replied, then lifted a brow. "Is that a problem?"

"No, no," Spencer quickly assured him. "Just wasn't expecting it. It's been years since they started allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the U.S. but I've only met a couple of girls who were out." He shook his head. "Man, I'm really sorry. I just got caught by surprise."

"Don't worry about it," Parsons waved it off. "You writing your... husband?" He grinned, and Spencer laughed, the tension gone. 

"Nah, my wife. She went back to Texas after I got selected for this assignment. She's gonna flip when she gets my letter."

"Mike will too," Parsons said. "He didn't want me to go, but when the time came, he was as supportive as he could be." 

"That's about the way it always is," Spencer agreed. "Is he military too? I met my wife in the Army." 

"No, he works as a database administrator in Sydney. Doesn't approve of the military in general, but he makes an effort where I'm concerned."

"Can't ask more than that." Spencer reached over and swatted Parsons on the shoulder. "I'll let you get back to it. Thanks for the paper."

"No problem, Donohue." Parsons picked up his pen to begin writing again.

"Call me Spencer," he tossed back over his shoulder. "All my friends do."