The Army of Dickness
The display on the digital clock blinked furiously red but instead of an alarm, a strain of baroque music broke the silence before a masculine hand slapped down on the device and returned the dimly lit room to momentary silence. Freiherr Helmut von Wiener rubbed a hand over his eyes and sat up in his bed and pulled the crisp, linen sheet down to expose his bare, muscled chest. He looked over to his nightstand, grasped the lead crystal shot glass that sat next to the clock and gulped down the amber contents. His eyes scanned across the wood-paneled room and identified the articles of strewn clothing, including the blue flight attendant's uniform wadded up in the corner, next to the gleaming black high-heeled shoe. He then noticed the sleeping form buried under the sheet next to him and shook his head.
A portly old man in a tuxedo stood at the open door, "Ja, mein Freiherr?"
"Did you sharpen my razor and ready the soap?"
"Yes I have, sir." The servant was about to turn but halted, "I laid out your gray suit for the briefing today."
The Freiherr rolled out of bed and pulled his thick bathrobe over his broad shoulders. "Wake up, you."
The woman under the sheet stirred.
"Make sure you fill out the waiver forms before you leave."
The ornate doors of the brass-trimmed lift opened and Freiherr Helmut stepped out into the wide, brightly lit hallway. Clad in a tailored gray business suit with a silk tie, the Baron looked like any other Lyran corporate operative. At the end of the hall was a set of heavy wood-paneled doors which slowly swung open as he approached. The first thing he noticed was a pair of women in gaudy colored dresses.
"What are you two wearing?"
"It's Aloha Friday," replied Bertha Ostheimer, the Human Resources Secretary. "We are wearing muumuus." She smiled at him as her fingers pulled the material of her muumuu at her wide hips and performed a comical curtsy.
"Ah, so there was a sale at Omar the Tentmaker, and when did you learn Holstein dialect?"
"A muumuu is a Hawaiian-style dress," replied Uta Blücher, who stood by her Reception Desk.
The Senior Accountant, Heinz Krummhorn, walked out of his office, he wore a loose shirt with a similar colorful print pattern as the dresses worn by the women. "Hey everybody!"
"Heinz, don't tell me, you joined a gay bowling league."
Krummhorn looked wounded by the remark. "No! This is my Aloha Friday shirt."
"Whatever, just don't use silly Polynesian customs as another excuse not to do your ridiculously meaningless jobs."
The double doors opened again and another man in a gray business suit, Benjamin Dover, walked it. "Is today Aloha Friday? I could have worn my gay bowling shirt."
"Eat a dick," replied Krummhorn.
"If that's an invitation to lunch, I've already eaten," replied Benjamin Dover. He turned to von Wiener, "I'm ready for the briefing."
Baron Helmut nodded, "I'm ready." He pushed against to the door to the conference room.
The conference room was very large with a massive oak table with enough padded chairs for thirty people. On the far wall was a projected image of a large topographical map. A woman with graying hair, Grafin Helga Rheinhardt, wore an expensive business suit and stood next to the projection. Seated about the table were a handful of other people, most in business suits but a couple of them wore uniforms.
"Good morning Herr Freiherr." A woman in a military-cut aero pilot's jumpsuit nodded to von Wiener.
"Morning, Sev," replied the Baron. He shot the pilot a quick wink, took the seat at the far end of the table facing the display, pulled a datapad from an internal coat pocket and placed it on the polished surface.
The woman by the display raised a hand, "Today's briefing is important so try to pretend that you are paying attention." She continued in a level voice, "As many of you are aware, due to Ostheimer's indiscriminate grapevine, Unteroffizier Dong has possible information on the location of a Star League depot."
"You mean where he supposedly found his crappy, old pulse rifle?" The Baron synchronized the briefing material on his datapad. "Holy crap, it's on Carver V?"
"Indeed," said Rheinhardt. "That noxious dirtball has been fought over by every Inner Sphere power due to its being a dumping ground for Star League technology and our preliminary research has confirmed that the approximate site is located on an ancient Terran Hegemony military base."
One of the executives raised his hand; it was Dover, the commander of the Battlemech Lance known as the Ass Clowns. "So, why don't we have more accurate information?"
Grafin Helga replied, "The corporal located the site while on a random prospecting dig and did not have any coördinate or satellite information as the many invasions have destroyed the orbital navigation systems long ago."
"Which means this mission hinges upon that illiterate, Capellan dirt farmer remembering where he found the site," commented von Wiener.
"Not necessarily," added the Grafin. "The unit fields the kind of equipment that may be able to detect the site if in close proximity."
An Asian man wearing a Federated Suns infantry uniform stood up, "Me not Caperran, me FedSun."
"Likely story," replied Dover. "Somebody arrest him for murdering the English language."
"What do you expect of a guy who needs to save up two month's pay to hire a cheap, Capellan prostitute?" asked the aero pilot, Seven E. Leven.
Baron Helmut added, "Isn't that redundant? I mean, all Capellan prostitutes are cheap."
The aeropilot Leven chimed in, "His best pickup line is 'How much?'"
"That's his only pickup line."
"Usually answered with a sound slap."
"That's enough!" Helga Rheinhardt rolled her eyes; unit briefings always degenerated like this. She paused a moment until she was certain that she regained their attention. "The Corporal's personal life isn't an issue here. According to his report he found a vast underground warehouse filled with crates." She pressed the button on her remote and the image of rifle appeared, "Unfortunately, this one nonfunctional, pulse-laser infantry weapon was all he was able to smuggle out of the facility and off planet."
"Are you sure we have the correct information?" von Wiener held his notepad up and looked at the map on its display.
"Our intelligence analysts have narrowed the search area to a five by five kilometer location."
Dover spoke, "By 'intelligence analysts' you mean Doctor Mengele and his wife, don't you?"
Rheinhardt crossed her arms, "Do you have a problem with that?"
"Does anybody else have a problem with a guy who made a living doing biological warfare experiments on prisoners?"
"I don't," commented von Wiener, "Who else would you use?"
"Meaning the losers," added the Baron, "Who believes that surrendering should be rewarded? Other than somebody from the FedSuns, who'd whine for a medal?"
"Me from FedSuns," declared Corporal Dong. "We not coward!"
"Which FedSuns? The effeminate, tea-drinking FedSuns or the effeminate, wine-drinking FedSuns?" replied von Wiener with a dismissive gesture.
"Ahem." The Grafin frowned.
"What if you were taken prisoner?" asked Dover.
"Unlike the common rabble, I'd be ransomed," replied the Baron.
"Well maybe some of the common rabble don't have a wealthy mother to bail them out."
"How is that my fault?"
"What?!" von Wiener raised his voice; he was obviously annoyed at the interruption.
"This briefing isn't over," said the Grafin.
"So we have a simple dig, grab and run, why do I have to go? Send the menials."
Rheinhardt continued, "Although no fighting is expected, Carver V is still border world with possible hostile elements present so the operation has to be discrete."
A handful of the attendees chuckled.
"If you don't want us to be noticed then make sure you don't send the Baron," said the female pilot, Leven.
"That's right," added Baron Helmuth. "As one of the best mercenary commanders in the universe, I'd be immediately recognized –So I'm not going."
There was more chuckling.
"The plan requires some bureaucratic maneuvering and that requires your presence, Helmuth," explained the Grafin. "Please reconsider." She pressed a button on the remote and the image of a posh resort hotel appeared on the screen. "Over the years since Corporal Dong's discovery of the site, there have been numerous commercial improvements and development of the area. This hotel and gambling casino are located at the Northeast corner of the site and strip mall is at the Southwest corner."
"And with all that renovation nobody found the cache?"
"There is no record of anything like it being found," replied the Grafin. "If everything goes as planned, the operation will take place during the Fasching celebration."
"That does it, I'm definitely not going," announced the Baron. "It's bad enough to be digging around for buried crap but why would I do it while surrounded by Catholics holding some drunken, farmer orgy?"
"We going to orgy?" asked Dong, he looked somewhat hopeful.
"Shut up," snapped Rheinhardt. She used the remote to advance the image to one of a voluptuous blonde woman wearing an expensive gown, furs and jeweled tiara. "This is the Markgräfin Maria von Schleicher, the current owner of a major part of the site as well as the owner of the hotel."
"Which means my presence there is essential to the success of the mission," announced von Wiener. "I suddenly see the possibilities of all manners of discreet insertion."
There was a sudden chorus of exasperated exclamations.
"This is just like you," scolded Leven. "Show you a large pair of boobs and you're suddenly focused."
"You should know," replied the Baron. "I'm ready to spearhead the undercover portion of this mission."
There were more exasperated moans.
"Is that all?" asked Rheinhardt.
"Just a moment," he paused to take a breath. "Penetration," the Baron said. "Okay, I'm done."
"Next, Doctor Mengele is going to brief you on the updated security protocols."
A middle-aged, bearded man with a receding hairline wearing a white laboratory coat strode into the room. The projected image changed to a bizarre display of characters.
"The current security protocols now require every password to include at least one Capital letter, one lower case letter, one punctuation, two numbers, and one Sanskrit character," announced Mengele. "Or, as in the above example, use my dog's name."