Author: morninsunshines PM
Ever wonder how Commander Taylor was selected for his rank? OC for this story. I decided to add additional chapters as Taylor/Washington work towards Terra Nova and beyond.Rated: Fiction M - English - Friendship/Romance - A. Washington & Commander N. Taylor - Chapters: 53 - Words: 386,176 - Reviews: 109 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 12-14-12 - Published: 05-30-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8167158
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"So you mongrels want to become leaders of men. Well girls, no offense to you real ones. I'm referring to the girls who get their peckers wet once in a while and think they are men," the tall imposing man sauntered among an elite group, handpicked as the best of the best. "If basic didn't make you piss your pants and cry for momma, my training will," with a savage smile as he stopped at the head of his new class. He wiped the smile off, "Only one of you will be given the rank of Commander. As you know, the life expectancy isn't long. The winner will be given every shit detail our collective governments can mess up. Anyone want to leave now, it won't be listed on your record or held against you. And…." he stopped for emphasis, "I urge those of you with children to think about them first." He stopped and scowled at the thirty people sitting in uncomfortable hard chairs. There was a general stirring and the candidates looked soberly at each other, but none got up and left.
Two months later the group had been whittled down to ten and as the six foot five trainer, dubbed Apollyon by the candidates gathered them in the pre-dawn light for a twenty mile run before breakfast. "One of you will be gone this morning. Now, full armor and your packs. Oh, and don't forget your rifles." The trained soldiers didn't protest or whine, just blindly followed his orders. To his credit, the man dubbed Apollyon made himself suffer along with his cadets and laden himself with all the gear they carried. The route he chose in this local was through the Mexican desert, up a small mountain and down the other side into a village. Every two weeks the survivors were relocated for different challenges. Their trainer evaluated each of them with his unreadable black gaze that showed no pupils most of the time, giving him the appearance of something evil. His black hair was non-regulation length and fell long on his neck curling slightly giving it an unkempt appearance. He was broad across the shoulders and was narrow at the hips with long legs. His arms were cords of banded steel and a goatee finished his demonic appearance. The cadets didn't get to know him, just like basic, but these weren't new, young interns. All held the rank of Lieutenant and some were young for attaining such a rank, like the man who dogged his every step. As Apollyon sprinted the last mile into the village he could hear footsteps on his tail and knew if he looked back Nathaniel Taylor would be there. Stopping in front of a small cantina stating it was serving breakfast until noon, with a grin he turned to a heavily breathing Taylor after stripping his rebreather off. The others were seen half a mile to a mile back and jogging at a steady pace. To mix the morning's run up a bit; he alternated between jogging at a steady pace to flat out running for stretches that covered up to a mile, then slowing back to a normal pace. He shook all but the dark hair blazing blue eyed man around thirty. He noticed Taylor kept his breather in place and led the way inside where the air was refined. Only then did the younger man remove his.
"Senior, good to see you again, Sir," a portly Hispanic rushed up and shook his hand.
"Palo, you got my message to feed eleven?"
"Si, I have your room ready," as he led them to the back, he asked, "Your daughter; how is she?"
"Getting ready to graduate high school."
The men sat their rifles in the corner and shed their packs and armor, revealing sweat soaked brown tee-shirts. The table was set and a water pitcher sat in front of every place. Sitting at the head of the table and motioning Nathaniel to sit to his right, he grabbed his pitcher and forego the clear stemmed crystal goblet in favor of drinking directly from the glass pitcher. Following suit, Nathaniel did likewise. Neither stopped until the pitchers were drained. Fresh refills were placed in front of the men as they waited for the others. The rest straggled in and a woman in her mid-thirties was last.
"Miller," she looked down the table at the Commander, "you'll be leaving after breakfast. You did good making the final third. You'll get a commendation in your file," his face was totally expressionless as he swung the ax.
Natalie Miller was disappointed. She had a classic beauty and used it to her advantage, and the blond set her sights on him. She knew he was a widower with a daughter and was sure with a few careful suggestions could finagle a date out of him. She wasn't above using her considerable talents to further her career. On the few times she tried to approach him, he brusquely pushed her off, but he was a man and men had needs. "Commander, yes Sir. It's been a pleasure training under you," she emphasized the last two words, "maybe we can get together and discuss my progress and what I've learned so I can work on the rest I won't get from you."
"I don't have time for one on one consults. You'll advance your career just fine. I heard Philbrick personally handpicked you to be his assistant," his gaze never left hers and she couldn't tell if her proposition affected him.
"Sir, a moment of your time alone then. I have questions of a personal nature about my performance," she was aware the others weren't talking, but listening to their exchange.
He stood up and motioned her to follow. He led her to the other room, but stood in the doorway where the group with a view could see them. Nathaniel was one with a clear shot. He saw her put a hand on the Commander's bicep, squeeze and smile up at him. She was a beautiful woman and if he didn't wasn't happily married he might give her a second look himself. Looked like the Commander would be getting lucky soon. The Commander listened to her without moving or returning any gesture. He leaned over and said something low. The woman dropped her arm and stalked off. Washington returned and sat down with a small smile. Lieutenant Miller never returned.
Looking for a moment, Nathaniel leaned over and asked quietly, "I see you rebuffed Miller's personal invitation. Don't find her proposal acceptable?"
Apollyon leaned towards him and spoke just as quietly, "I've never given in to that type of proposal yet. If she did her homework, she'd have known that. I only kept her around so long because Philbrick asked me to."
Another month and three finalist. Every month the physical endurance was more strenuous and tactical training was added. The three men remaining would sit at a table and plan invasions and offensives then put their principals into practice. Their opponent, Apollyon. That night they camped out in the jungle of Brazil. Swatting mosquitos, three men cleaned kill zone paint off their armor while their Commander fussed with getting a signal on his plexi. They were leaning against their packs and to all appearances looked like a close knit group of men on an outing. It was the first time the Commander had joined them at their fire. Usually he preferred to camp apart.
"Got it," Apollyon exclaimed as his signal to his daughter indicated a connection.
"Hi Dad, where are you?" a young woman's voice filled the night.
"On the Rio Negro," he stretched his legs towards the fire and crossed his ankles.
"Did you get the picture of the dress I'm wearing to the Senior Ball?"
"I did," his tone was definitely disapproving that only a father could pull off.
"It looks great on me," she totally ignored his distain as only a teenager could.
"Well, if my allowance for you doesn't show up, you can always moonlight in it down in the red light district," he pushed a few buttons while talking, "here's your homework. I made a few suggestions."
"Thanks, Dad. This is for my final and it's important I get a good grade."
"Why'd you ask me to help then?" his tone went to a teasing lilt.
"Very funny. I see your changes. You think that maneuver will really work?"
"You can always ask the three men here. I killed all of them with that maneuver today," he grinned at the men who stopped pretending they weren't listening to him talk with his daughter, "Who you going to the dance with, Damian?"
"No, Razor. You don't know him. We met last month. Oh, the school may be contacting you."
"What'd you do now?"
"Razor doesn't exactly go to school here? I need you to agree to a waiver so he can get on campus."
"How old is this Razor?"
"Umm, nineteen I think."
"So he's out of school?" his tone changed again to a smooth interrogator, prying without seeming to.
"He is working as a mechanic. I've been trying to get him to enlist with me. He's really nice, Dad, you'd like him." She came across the waives as trying to convince her father.
He smiled, "Okay, but if he causes any trouble during the dance, I'm holding you responsible. I know you have trouble getting dates due to you being such a homely little thing," his teasing tone was back.
"Oh, Daddy, you know just the right words to make me feel good about myself. It's not my fault I look like you instead Mom," she played along with their long standing joke.
"I took one look at you when you were born and slapped your momma. Told her never give me such an ugly child again. Just for that she didn't."
"You better be home for my graduation. You've been promising me for two years now; I get to dance at my graduation with you."
"Well, I better give the other's a chance at the signal before we lose it, call you in a few days," while he was talking he watched the men.
"Bye, Dad," she broke the connection.
He looked wistfully at the plexi before looking up and shouting, "Connor," and throwing the plexi across the fire for him to catch. Quick reflexes were a must and Connor reached with one hand and missed. Picking it up with the same hand he missed with, he made a call home. All eyes were on him so he kept his message neutral and short and handed the plexi with said hand to Taylor.
"Connor," Apollyon spoke quietly so not to disturb the next caller.
"Let's see your other hand."
"It's nothing," Connor pulled his hand out sporting a swollen finger.
"Looks broke to me," Apollyon didn't move, but his observation caused the other two to look. Taylor called his wife, but she wasn't home so left a message and handed it to the last man who didn't call home until the verdict was passed against Connor.
"How'd you break it?"
"Dove over a log evading you and landed on it wrong. Stupid mistake," he was disgusted with his mental error that eliminated him.
The final man called home and talked to his wife and two son's for a few minutes before handing the plexi back to the Commander. Now that he was eliminated, Connor treated his finger with an air splint over the hand.
"How old is your oldest?" the Commander directed his question to Lieutenant Guzman.
"Same age as my daughter. He enlisting?"
"Can hardly wait. He's a good kid. Will make a good soldier, but he's not officer material, probably won't go further than Corporal. He'd have to do a lot of changing. All he thinks about is cars, girls and sports. He's a jock all the way."
"You send him through junior officer training?"
"He flunked out and wouldn't go back. Your daughter, Sir?"
"First in her class. She's a total jock also, been sparring with me since she could walk. I put her in New York Military High School Academy."
The men whistled in appreciation, "That's the finest military prep school in the country," Nathaniel was impressed. Most officers went through that school including him. It was very expensive, but a Commander's salary was equal to a mid-level General.
"So with all the young future officers, your daughter went and found one outside the system?" Nathaniel wondered about a girl who wasn't infatuated with future officers.
Apollyon chucked, "My daughter has my since of adventure. No other girl at that school would dare buck the system and she looks for opportunities. I think she reads the rules just to figure how to bend them. She knew the school frowned on allowing non-members to attend an after school function, but they don't specifically state it. Every rule with a gray area and eventually I'll get a call."
"Will she make a good officer or have trouble following orders?" Nathaniel pushed his luck.
Smiling into the fire, "She's my daughter. When I was her age, I was in reform school for bucking every rule the parochial diocese institutions could invent. Finally they decided the military was my only hope and I was emancipated at seventeen if I'd join up, and in the army I found my place. I expect no less from her."
"You're the youngest Commander in recorded history. Made Commander at age twenty seven," Nathaniel had done his homework on the man he imitated. He didn't mention it to the Commander, but one of the reasons he went into the Special Forces branch of the service was directly due to an interview he saw as a teenager when the youngest person ever to be promoted to the elite position of Commander made the news. He had a bad case of hero worship, and at only eleven years older than himself, the Commander seemed larger than life. After the initial fanfare died down, the Commander dropped off the scene and he didn't hear his name mentioned again until he found out who was issuing the test for the Commander slot.
"You would be second youngest if you beat Guzman here." The men in question exchanged grins.
The rickety suspension bridge over the gorge in the Himalayans was to be the final challenge. The two finalist were almost evenly matched and Apollyon for the first time in years wasn't looking forward to eliminating one. He had in mind to promote the loser to Lt. Commander which was in his power to perform. The ancient bridge was still used by the locals even missing many planks. Again laden with heavy packs and rifles he told Taylor to go first and Guzman second, taking up the rear so he could watch their reactions. Taylor navigated the bridge with ease and even stopped to look over the edge at the five hundred foot drop to a raging stream a white line snaking through the ravine. He tested a couple planks that looked rotten and wisely stepped over them. Whereas, Guzman gripped the ropes tightly kept his eyes firmly on the planks. The movement of three men walking in single file caused a ripple in the bridge and soon it was swaying in a serpentine weave. Taylor and Apollyon kept one hand on the guide rope and other on their rifle, but Guzman slung his over his shoulder to use both hands for stabilizing. Finally they stepped onto the trail. Taylor turned and grinned at them, "Commander, I'm a little disappointed this is what you chose for the final challenge. I thought maybe you'd make us hike inside a volcano or something."
Washington smiled at him, "Open your pack, Lieutenant." He and Guzman watched as the mouthy Taylor opened his pack. He pulled a long rope out with a puzzled expression and looked at an wickedly grinning Commander. "The winner is the person who bungee jumps from the center of the bridge."
Guzman turned pale while Taylor shrugged and closed the pack back up, "Ready, Guz?"
"Congratulations, Taylor," he held his hand out.
"I haven't jumped yet," he gripped the hand.
"I'm not," they turned to the Commander for leadership.
He was still grinning broadly, obviously enjoying the outcome, "The winner jumps, err, or is that the survivor, I do get them confused," he started laughing.
Nathaniel Taylor stiffened his spine and carefully made his way back to the center of the footbridge after a return to retrieve his rifle he was ordered to jump with. Washington led the way down a side path and perched on a rock outcropping as Guzman settled beside him. They watched Nathaniel attach the clip to the bottom thick cord and the other wrap went securely around his ankle. Shedding the pack and attaching it to the plank with a tie, he looked down at his audience, lifted his rifle in a salute and jumped. The cord went taut and within a few feet of the stream he rebounded back towards the sky, tossed his rifle onto the planks and grabbed the cord stopping his descent with powerful muscles that strained at the sudden jarring as his weight slammed against them. Pulling himself back up, he placed the cord back in the pack, took his rifle and walked across the footbridge and down the trail until he was able to look from the spectator's angle. Not saying a word, he sat on the rock.
"Last chance, Guzman," Apollyon gave a rare second chance.
"No, Sir. I couldn't match that."
"I'm not sure I could either and since I'm already a Commander, I'm not trying."
"Mrs. Taylor, I don't get home cooking very often, actually I never get it, so if you'll excuse my bad manners I'm going to save Nathaniel from getting fat," he stole a second piece of chocolate cake off the platter.
"Help yourself to as much as you want," the young blond found the tall dark haired man to have impeccable manners and wasn't anything like he'd been described for the past three months. The slang title of Apollyon couldn't possibly describe the kind side he presented to her. She wasn't surprised her husband won the contest. For the past year since he heard a Commander's slot was coming open, his indomitable training made him the Generals favorite to win the challenge.
"You earned the slot and I picked you for the Generals pool to win before the contest began. Of course I couldn't skewer the results in your favor, but studied all the applicants bios and preparedness, and yours was superior to the rest," the Commander finished off the piece of cake he took and shook his head as Ayani offered him a third.
"Wouldn't have wanted it any other way, Sir," Nathaniel grabbed another piece of cake.
"The only thing we have left to do is academic, all the tediousness of putting your taskforce together. I've been told to make sure you have the best from all branches," he looked a five year old Lucas shoving cake in his mouth, making a mess as he opted for fingers over a fork, "Plan on having any more of those?"
"We can't. I had a hard time carrying him and had a hysterectomy when he was born," Ayani filled in the facts.
"If my tenure of Commander is short-lived, I have him to carry on my name," Nathaniel offered.
Apollo sighed, "I don't know how I made it this far. Probably would be dead by now, but I got left with a child so went into training until she was thirteen then went back to Special Forces. I put her in the best boarding schools I could find, but that doesn't replace a parent."
"What happened to her mother?" Ayani felt for him.
"She was Special Forces and got killed when my daughter was seven, ten years now. My girl is graduating high school in a few days. My graduation gift to her is signing her enlistment papers four months before her eighteenth birthday."
"I overheard you talking to her. She studies military tactics?" Nathaniel remembered that night in Brazil.
"I tell you what, why don't you be my guests for her graduation. I'm sure glad they changed the old fashioned speeches and handing out diplomas one by one. I already have hers and it's been filed with the government along with her awards and achievements. All that's left is the party."
"I remember that party, seemed like thousands of people were present, but the beer was the best the school could afford," Nathaniel smiled at the memory.
"You two could consider it a date if you find a sitter."
"My mother is always looking for an excuse, what do you think, Nathaniel?" Ayani smiled hopefully at him.
"I'd love to show you where I went to school, it's a date," he smiled back into her eyes.
"The school sent me her honors and awards. I asked her and she told me she didn't get any worth mentioning," the Commander smiled at all she was awarded with.
"You know, I graduated from that school," Nathaniel got plenty of honors and awards himself. They were essential to placement in the officer schools, "They still put them on the display board for all to view?"
"I was their last year when some of her friends graduated and we looked at all the awards, so I'm assuming so."
The throng was crushing, balls hanging from the tall dark ceiling spun and glittered, each a distinctive range of colors. Each year the graduates got to plan their ballroom and theme of clothing. This year, black was on the invitations so Apollyon and Nathaniel wore black slacks with matching black shirts while Ayani had a black stylish dress that was fairly modest, with its high collar, but left her arms bare. The graduating girls all wore variations of shimmering black dresses, making it difficult to distinguish them apart.
"I told her we'd be right here at this time," Apollo looked around for his dark haired daughter.
Nathaniel with his arm around his wife's shoulder looked around at the kids and parents and friends with fond memories, "This school always did put on a good going away party. Some of these kids enlist and don't get much of an adulthood. Several from my class are dead from battle. The administration is aware of their role in providing the military with officers and this is a suitable sendoff."
Looking at the mingling girls not paying them any mind, "What's your daughter look like," Ayani didn't think to pull up a picture of the girl before they left.
"Awww, just look for the ugliest girl here. Poor kid doesn't have much in the looks department, favors me," he turned away on the pretense of looking to hide his grin.
"That her?" he turned back to see who Nathaniel was indicating.
A few feet away was a painfully thin blond with bland features who was obviously looking for someone.
"No, mine has black hair like me," he grinned as his daughter wove through the crowd and stopped several feet away smiling at her father.
A couple boys showed up on each side of her, "Dance?" the one asked.
"No, with me. Derek, buzz off," the second placed an arm around her shoulder and tried to guide her away. Two more boys were hanging back, hoping to be noticed by her.
Her father took in the numbers all vying for her favors and sighed, "You promised I'd be your date tonight. Do I have to knock a few heads together," the deep voice and threat from Apollo Washington got everyone's attention, including the Taylor's who looked in the direction the Commander was staring.
Nathaniel got his first look at his future Lieutenant and her amused look at her father as two young men stopped suggestively trying to pull her away. What he saw was a very attractive seventeen year old with huge ebony eyes, straight dark hair adorned with a braid down each side and tied with white pearl bands. Her shimmering black dress was cut almost too low for a school function and the hem at the minimum length allowed showing long slender legs to match her equally uncovered arms. A bracelet of pearl finished her simple ensemble and on the feet heels that were about two inches.
"Sorry guys," she glanced to her right and left, "my date has arrived."
"He's old enough to be your Dad," the one called Derek complained.
Shaking the boys off, Alicia walked up to the tall man and turned back, "He is my father."
They took the hint and disappeared into the multitude taking the other two with them.
Pulling her into a tight hug, "You're late."
"I'm fashionable," never one to let him win the battle of words or wits.
Arm around her shoulder, he turned for introductions, "This is Commander Taylor and his wife, Mrs. Taylor. And this ugly pug is my daughter, Alicia."
Ayani was puzzled, "Why do you call her ugly? She's one of the prettiest girls here."
Nathaniel wisely kept his mouth shut, but silently agreed with his wife.
"She looks like me, poor thing, can't you see the resemblance," he smiled fondly down at his smiling daughter who hadn't pulled her arms from around his waist, "she got voted beauty queen for the senior class."
"How'd you find out about that?" Alicia interrupted. She tried to keep that fact from her father.
"Well, my daughter, I have every piece of information forwarded to me along with your many awards and achievements. I'm especially proud you took the shooting award."
"What about academics? I did extremely well in my studies."
"I never was much for brainy types. What about you Nathaniel," he looked at the military's newest Commander, "you looking for brains or brawn for your unit?"
Still looking at the beautiful girl, he dragged his eyes to her father, "Both. I'll be looking for a second who's smarter than me, but don't mind following orders."
"Well, keep this one in mind. She'll be through officer's training in a year and entering as a Corporal before she's nineteen."
"I will, Sir," they led the women to the dance floor.