To be honest, I don't know if there are any Phule's Company readers here on the Net. But if you're here, I have fanfiction for you! *brandishes* If not, go read Phule's Company and its sequels!
Journal Entry #121 - Addendum
I have observed in my main entry that those who succeed are generally taken aback by their success. Perhaps I should add that once acceptance sets in, those same people are quite often energized by these successes into even greater confidence and works. These they will set to accomplishing immediately, disregarding such mundane necessities as sustenance and rest. My employer happens to be one of these people. It does, however, take him some time to overcome his initial feelings of shock...and in this span of time, he is prone to adopting a rather peculiar frame of mind.
"Have you ever been in love, Beeker?"
Willard Phule's butler was rarely caught off-guard. He had served the (relatively) young mega-millionare for longer than he cared to remember, and in that time he had become something of an expert on his employer's moods. It had been obvious to him that something was amiss, but he had ignored the signs—and now he was being confronted with it in the least opportune manner.
Beeker closed the screen of his Port-A-Brain computer with deliberate slowness, considering his words carefully. "I should think not, sir. To one in my position, it would be...a conflict of interest. Might I ask the circumstances behind this somewhat out-of-character question?"
Phule was leaning back in his seat, still staring at the sleeve of the uniform bundled in his lap. It hadn't been more than an hour since his company had presented him with the flash patch that was now the focus of his attention—a red diamond, upon which was embroidered a skull wearing a belled jester's cap at a crooked angle. The CO had been staring at it ever since his earlier conversation with his butler had ceased. It wasn't like him to remain that still for such an extended period of time, one of the signs that had originally alerted Beeker something was off.
"Everything," Phule said quietly. There was an undercurrent of awe in his voice. "This planet. This assignment. These people. I saw it in their eyes, tonight more than ever. They've really come together, haven't they?"
"Considering that was your intent all along, I would hope that they had." At Phule's irritated glare, Beeker allowed himself a small smile. "But I agree completely. They have indeed become an exceptional group, especially when compared to their previous mode of operation."
Phule shook his head. "It's more than just that. I was determined to turn them into a unit. They've made themselves into a family. I never could have hoped for that much. Money can buy new quarters, new uniforms, new equipment—but not even Dilithium Express can buy what's happening here." A smile crept across his face. "I hoped, of course, but I never thought we'd strike real gold."
The butler sniffed. "I believe our opinions on the matter are somewhat biased," he said, "as we do happen to be right in the middle of this situation. It seems to me that your superiors will be more inclined to consider it fool's gold."
A long silence followed Beeker's words. Then, abruptly, Phule began to laugh.
"Fool's gold!" he chortled, wiping his eyes. "Of all things! Who else would see any value in it but a proper fool—or a proper Phule?"
"I'm sure I couldn't tell you, sir," Beeker said dryly.
For quite a while after this exchange, my employer was rather taken with the notion. He privately referred to his company as a "regular mine of fool's gold"—or, as the case may be, Phule's gold—for some days afterward. This particular term fell to the wayside during the series of events that followed, however, and I myself was disinclined to bring it up again.
As an interesting aside, the process of mining when "fool's gold", or pyrite, to use its proper name, is present, was once extremely dangerous. On Old Earth, certain mines containing pyrite veins were required to shut down, in order to prevent any potentially...explosive situations. In the earliest days of mining, before the technology to prevent such explosions had been dreamed of, only very brave or very stupid miners would dare to set foot in pyrite-laced mines. The odds were always high of the mineral "blowing up in their faces" (to use a common colloquialism) when the miners least expected. It was only through sheer determination and plenty of foolhardy risks that they were ever able to accomplish anything at all.
Even if you don't really know what's going on, CnC would be appreciated!