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STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert A. Heinlein

STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert A. Heinlein

Author:Robert A. Heinlein [Heinlein, Robert A.]
Format: epub
Published: 2010-04-12T09:24:03.315000+00:00


CHAPTER 11

I have nothing to offer but

blood, toil, tears, and sweat.

W. Churchill, XXth century

soldier-statesman

As we came back into the ship after the raid on the Skinnies-the raid in which Dizzy Flores bought it, Sergeant Jelal’s first drop as platoon leader—a ship’s gunner who was tending the boat lock spoke to me: “How’d it go?”

“Routine,” I answered briefly. I suppose his remark was friendly but I was feeling very mixed up and in no mood to talk—sad over Dizzy, glad that we had made pickup anyhow, mad that the pickup had been useless, and all of it tangled up with that washed-out but happy feeling of being back in the ship again, able to muster arms and legs and note that they are all present. Besides, how can you talk about a drop to a man who has never made one?

“So?” he answered. “You guys have got it soft. Loaf thirty days, work thirty minutes. Me, I stand a watch in three and turn to.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” I agreed and turned away. “Some of us are born lucky.”

“Soldier, you ain’t peddlin’ vacuum,” he said to my back.

And yet there was much truth in what the Navy gunner had said. We cap troopers are like aviators of the earlier mechanized wars; a long and busy military career could contain only a few hours of actual combat facing the enemy, the rest being: train, get ready, go out—then come back, clean up the mess, get ready for another one, and practice, practice, practice, in between. We didn’t make another drop for almost three weeks and that on a different planet around another star—a Bug colony. Even with Cherenkov drive, stars are far apart.

In the meantime I got my corporal’s stripes, nominated by Jelly and confirmed by Captain Deladrier in the absence of a commissioned officer of our own. Theoretically the rank would not be permanent until approved against vacancy by the Fleet M. I. repple-depple, but that meant nothing, as the casualty rate was such that there were always more vacancies in the T.

O. than there were warm bodies to fill them. I was a corporal when Jelly said I was a corporal; the rest was red tape.

But the gunner was not quite correct about “loafing”; there were fifty-three suits of powered armor to check, service, and repair between each drop, not to mention weapons and special equipment. Sometimes Migliaccio would downcheck a suit, Jelly would confirm it, and the ship’s weapons engineer, Lieutenant Farley, would decide that he couldn’t cure it short of base facilities—whereupon a new suit would have to be broken out of stores and brought from “cold” to “hot,” an exacting process requiring twenty-six man-hours not counting the time of the man to whom it was being fitted.

We kept busy.

But we had fun, too. There were always several competitions going on, from acey-deucy to Honor Squad, and we had the best jazz band in several cubic light-years (well, the only one, maybe), with Sergeant Johnson on the trumpet



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