“No, no way! I’m not doing it! I did it last year, that’s enough!”
Anderson slammed the phone down, glared at it, as if daring it to ring again. It didn’t. But his secretary opened the door a few moments later. He looked up.
“Sir, that was President Kane on the phone…again. He told me to tell you, you will give the speech and he doesn’t want to speak to you again about it. He said not to call him back.”
“OK, then you call him back and tell him I won’t. I have more meetings than my calendar can hold, I have to write more reports than I could even imagine, I have to coordinate G-Force’s missions, I have to liaise with the defence authorities of the other Federation planets. Tell him no.”
The young officer looked at him. She felt pity for the man, he looked as if he could use a week of sleep and a year of holidays. But President Kane’s orders were clear.
“I’m sorry, sir. He also said that I was not supposed to call him back about this either.”
Anderson buried his face in his hands.
He clicked and clicked on the keyboard, trying to get the speech in shape. No good. His mind was with G-Force, currently on a mission to Spectra again, with Jason reporting in with injuries. Or to be more precise, Jason reporting to Zark and asking Zark not to tell the Chief. But the Chief was the Head of Security also because he had good sources. So Anderson learned that Jason had had a fall on Spectra. And he had problems seeing. Anderson stared at the screen for a long time.
A sea of young, eager faces, boys and girls in uniform, looked up at him. Literally, as he was on a podium, in front of a hundred cadets – or rather, newly-commissioned officers of Galaxy Security. Young, eager and innocent. That was Anderson’s first thought as he stepped up to the podium. They didn’t know about the war. They didn’t know what it really did it to you. But they were going to find out very soon, as they were going to be deployed to the garrisons set up on all Federation planets. He cleared his throat, tapped the mike. The young faces looked expectantly at him, the legend of Centre Neptune and Galaxy Security, the scientist who held the burden of defending the Earth on his shoulders. The man who ran G-Force.
“I didn’t want to give this speech…” he started, a bit nervously, wanting to break the ice. “But this is a hierarchical organization, orders must be followed, so here I am.”
A few cadets smiled encouragingly, some more daring ones laughed.
“You know all about following orders. I’m sure this has been drilled into you from your first day in the Academy. You will have heard that our organization is run on discipline. Maybe some of you have already fallen foul of our rules – I’m sure I had done the same when I was your age. But I don’t want to talk to you today about the need to follow discipline in a battle situation – you will see it in practice soon enough, I’m afraid. I want to talk to you about some simple things that maybe your instructors didn’t stress that much – again, I know that they didn’t when I was in your shoes.
Our Federation is in a merciless war with Spectra, and you will be on the front line soon. Or you may be back in Headquarters, staffing the command centre. Or you may be in the backwater of a planet you have never heard of and can’t even find on a map – a planet that maybe joined the Federation after it was attacked by Spectra and is now trying to build up its defence. Or you may be on a Federation vessel, patrolling endlessly around the Earth or Riga or any other of our friendly planets. You may feel bored, useless, frustrated. You may read about G-Force, and see their exploits, and the admiration the world has for them, and you may feel even more frustrated.”
Anderson paused for a minute, to make sure he had his audience’s attention. A few older NCOs, some officers working in Centre Neptune, some technicians, nodded, almost without realizing it, in agreement with what he was saying. He resumed his speech.
“Let me tell you something, not as the Chief of Security, but as someone who’s been around long…I won’t tell you how long, but long enough. G-Force is there only because of you. Of you and your colleagues. G-Force is the face of our defence. You are its heart. We fight for the freedom from Spectra – or any other despot who will want to grab our planets, exterminate our people, abuse our resources, erase our history. In this fight, G-Force is not alone. As you receive your commissions, some of you will get the posting you were after, some of you will not. Don’t let this disappoint you. We need each woman and man of you.”
His communicator beeped imperceptibly. G-Force was on its way home. The weight lifted a little bit.
“Each of you, in her or his own way, be brave. Thank you.”