Sunday March 16, 2008
Book 10: The Longshoreman of the Apocalypse — Prologue: Drydock


Narrator: Kglastan, guest accommodations, Captain Tagon's temporary quarters aboard the U.N.S. Battleplate Morokweng. . .
Ennesby: Bad news, sir.
Captain Tagon: Hey, we just got paid handsomely, repairs are almost complete. . . How bad can it be?
Ennesby: Pretty bad. You paid the grunts just a little too much this time.
Captain Tagon: What? We didn't run out of money, did we? I was very careful to watch Thurl while he counted very carefully.
Ennesby: No, it's not that. We've still got plenty banked against rainy days, next month's payroll, and petty cash.
Captain Tagon: Then what's wrong?
Ennesby: Most of the non-human grunts are retiring.
Captain Tagon: Retiring? Why? They're making good money!
Ennesby: Too good. That's the problem.
Ennesby: With the combat bonus, the generous scale, and the other multipliers from the last op, a grunt can buy a ticket across the galaxy, settle down someplace nice, and not have to work for a couple of years at least.
Captain Tagon: But. . . I thought these people loved their work!
Ennesby: They do. The ones you're losing are the ones who haven't seen offensive action since the HTRN takedown. I think maybe they feel insufficient 'esprit de corps.'
Captain Tagon: I paid them extra!
Ennesby: Some things are more important than a fat paycheck.
Ennesby: False alarm. I thought he'd had an aneurism and gone catatonic, but just two minutes ago he got up and headed for the bar.