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(Part 4) M31: First Blood
Posted By: Greg and Wes Foutch<hockey0935@yahoo.com>
Date: 28 July 2003, 12:37 AM

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18:30 hrs.

      Even when living in a small town in Maine, Sergeant Major Turk Keller liked to keep in shape. He had recently worked in the Malaysia area, dealing with the rebellious Malaysian Republic. After the Marines, under his command, and himself, solved the whole ordeal, he declined the opportunity to get involved another rebellion, this time in the Korean area. Having received two bullet wounds, one in the upper leg, another in his shoulder, he took his military leave nine months ago. Ever since the wounds healed, nearly five months ago, he had done all he could to keep fit through daily five-mile jogs and the usual strength training exercises. He spent most of the day every Saturday at the shooting range staying sharp. Otherwise, T.K. had been relaxing and enjoying his leave, although recently he had been sensing a familiar itch. Starting about two weeks prior, he had begun to feel boredom setting in. As much as he hated to admit it, he missed the wartime experiences. The adrenaline, the danger, and, unlike no other feeling in the world, knowing that you had narrowly avoided the inevitable: death.
      He reasoned that this particular quality had been inherited from his father. Raised in a military household, bounced around from base to base, Turk had always wanted to take after the old man and join the Marine Corps. His father had taught him from a young age the values of being a good Marine, and more importantly, a good man. At the age of 11, he traded in his toy gun for a semi-auto, top of the line, paint-ball gun. His father, and some of his Marine friends, while on military leave, joined them on weekends for war games, teaching Turk everything they knew. His mother did all within her power to try and convince her only son not to join. Regardless, at the age of 18, T.K. signed up for the Marine Corps and left home for boot camp, which was much tougher than he ever thought possible, despite the forewarning from his father. He then proceeded to Advanced Tactical Training, where he learned everything there is to be known about military strategy, covert operations, and interrogation. Shortly thereafter, with a new issue Heckler & Koch MP5 Submachine gun, Turk was sent with a Battalion to China, in order to subdue a large rebellion against the U.S. He was there for two tours, until the age of 25. He steadily proceeded through the ranks, attaining Sergeant Major at the age of 43.
      The new Sergeant Major, at the prime age of 47, was then shuttled to Columbia to deal with political unrest, which escalated to a two-year assignment. He was then sent to Malaysia, staying for another 2 years. As much as he enjoyed relaxing, doing whatever he pleased, receiving orders from no one, he couldn't get the Malaysia incident out of his head. He narrowly avoided death, twice.
      It's going to be great, he thought, as he jogged through the gargantuan park. Being back in a wartime situation. Not two hours ago, the Sergeant Major had received a call from the Secretary of Defense, pleading kindly for him to save humanity, no pressure involved. Actually, he had been asked to embark upon a journey aboard the U.S.S. Santa Maria, a rescue mission to the M31 galaxy. "Hopefully," the Secretary had said, "We'll find survivors. But I wouldn't count on it. To be truthful, much to the President's discontent, this is more likely going to be a search and destroy, rather than a search and rescue."
      To which T.K. had replied, "Great! You can count me in, then." Turk was to meet at 07:00 the following morning, in D.C., in order to be briefed by the big boy, in this case the big girl, the President. He planned to catch a flight, a little later. He wanted to get in his jog for the day.
      The Sergeant Major took a left, taking him deeper into the park's forest. Gigantic white pines surrounded him on all sides. Even without a cloud in the sky, the forest was dark, sunlight hardly peeking through the branches. But T.K. found it relaxing; he actually thought it to be quite beautiful. This was the place where he had grown up, along with his father, and the father before him. This is where his family had lived for nearly seven generations now. He lived on a respectable fifteen-acre plot, about half a mile from the nearest town, Monticello.
      He eventually decided to head back to his two-story house and pack his things. It would take about 45 minutes for him to get home, and he still needed to get to the airport. He had already made his hotel reservations; they were expecting him at 22:30. The lobby normally closed at 21:00, but he was on official business, so they made an exception.
      T.K. entered his house at 19:15. His house was enormous, but it seemed empty. It's much too large for me, he thought. And it was true. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two spacious family rooms, with a fireplace in each. Most of the downstairs was oak floors, with the exception of his bedroom. He walked down the dark hallway to his room, fumbling in the closet for the light switch, then flipping it on. As he began removing garments from the hangers and drawers, folding them, and putting them in the open suitcase on the bed, he realized this was just what he needed.
      After he finished packing, he climbed in his old man's 2832 Chevrolet Corvette. He backed out of his driveway and took a left, heading for the Houlton airport. From there he could catch a flight to Portland and transfer to a 747 headed for D.C. At this time next week, he thought, I'll be on the way to M31. But even he could not fathom the hell he would go through.