Monday, January 20, 2020

Don't bet against Darwin (fiction)

General Doug Patrick’s face was set in a perpetual scowl that had been deepening over the last four months. Today, it was notably angry even by recent standards.

Livingston County had four levels of military. They had two Generals, four Lieutenants per General, twenty NCOs per Lieutenant and twenty troops per NCO.

That was about to change based on the information General Patrick had been given at the 8:30 Torvaldsen meeting.

General Patrick and General Rife took turns going to meetings. Patrick went one day, Rife the next. It was pretty much impossible to get anything done on meeting days, so effectively each General had eight Lieutenants on one day followed by a day when they were a messenger-boy with no Lieutenants.

Standard practice was for the General to roll-out a condensed version the information acquired from Torvaldsen’s three daily meetings immediately upon returning to base. The General rolled out the info to the other General and the Lieutenants. The Lieutenants left the meeting and rolled out the info to the NCOs.

The NCOs never bothered to roll out the info to the troopers because it was all bull-shit and none of it applied to their reality.

General Patrick dismissed most of the Lieutenants from the meeting. That meant that Patrick brought back bad news and did not want to try to candy-coat it for general consumption.

Scowling as he looked around the table, General Patrick said “Torvaldsen is going to give us another “General”.

Rife looked up from the spreadsheet he was working on. “Why? What did we do wrong this time?”

“Wasn’t us, buddy.” General Patrick growled. “Mark Richards threw a turd in his own punch-bowl and needed a change of scenery.”

“What is he going to do?” Rife asked. Rife was the innocent straight-man. Patrick was the sarcastic pessimist.

“You and me are going to be defense. Richards will command offensive forces.” Patrick said.

Rife frowned in thought. “This tiff with Milford is a temporary thing. Just some methed up yahoos. It will die down. We don’t need Richards.”

Patrick spared Rife a sidelong death-glare. “Don’t matter. Torvaldsen said ‘do it’ and it was done.”

Rife shook his head in disgust.

“Something you gotta know for your next meeting” Rife said.

“What’s that?” Patrick asked. In spite of their vastly different personalities, they trusted each other professionally.

“We had a fatality.” Rife said.

“Who?” Patrick asked.

“Kelly Andrews.” Rife said.

“Darwin finally caught up with him.” Patrick said, not surprised. “What are the details?”

It perpetually surprises people at the bottom of the food chain how much managers, good managers, know about them. They think that they are invisible to the Gods because they have no interactions with them.

What the bottom of the food chain is oblivious to is the fact that Generals count on their Lieutenants to be transparent windows, as if they were watching the behaviors and responses of their underlings through a TV.

And from the human angle, Generals have nothing better to do than to talk about, and more importantly LISTEN to stories about, the people who work for them. The the fact that Dorcas Druscilla Presley had never interacted with General Rife was not important. General Rife heard about Dorcas if she did anything noteworthy within sight or sound of any of his organization. He might not hear about it five minutes after it happened, but he would hear about it.

Kelly Andrews was a known quantity around the General’s meeting table. Troops under him had a distressing tendency to get “damaged”.

“One of the recruits killed him.” Rife said.

General Patrick blinked. “You said we only lost one person. Protocol is to summarily execute the trooper. You didn’t do that?”

General Patrick was withering when he detected a dereliction of duty.

It bounced off Rife. They were peers and it took a lot to make a dent in Rife’s 320 pound mass.

“There were extenuating circumstances.” Rife said. “According to those who witnessed the altercation, Andrews gave the trooper a direct order to kill him.”

Patrick would not have interviewed anybody. But it was Quinn’s good fortune that Rife was running the show that day.

“So make this trooper...what did you say his name NCO so I can take a yellow to the next meeting rather than a red. It is better to be down a trooper than an NCO.” Patrick said.

“I thought about that.” Rife admitted, meaning there were complications or it would have already been done.

“This guy, Quinn Spackle, has a bum leg. Probably had it since birth. No way he can keep up with regular troops on a battle field.” Rife said.

General Patrick shook his head in disgust. It just kept getting better and better (sarcasm font).

Thinking a second, Patrick turned to one of the Lieutenants, “Martens, does Shepler have a full complement yet?”

“No General.” Lieutenant Martens answered.

Yesterday, Torvaldsen had given Rife the task of putting together a guard for the food depot. Rumor was that enormous amounts of food had been stolen and it was a strategic target for Milford forces. Patrick had delegated the task and Shepler, an older man with a heart condition, was the NCO Martens selected for the task. It was clear that Shepler would need another NCO to support him.

“Make this Sparkle guy an NCO and attach him to Shepler.” Patrick commanded. “I am NOT reporting that one of our NCOs commanded a trooper to kill him...and then got himself dead. I will report that one of our new recruits had a congenital issue and we are down a recruit as a result.”

"I don't even have to change our color-code from green, I can bury it in the foot-notes since it was a recruit with an undetected birth defect." Patrick said.

The Gods had spoken.



  1. That dude is also in charge of UK crime reporting stats.

  2. As a native son of Livingston Co. this sure is fun!



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