The Collar Wars
I had been on the colony for about a month and I had not made a very good impression on my CO. He still hated me, and I was fine with that. He knew I wasn’t using the collars yet, somehow, I had achieved massive improvement in my squad. None of my fellow officers trusted me either. I didn’t go to the officer’s club often, as I didn’t want to be around booze. No need to risk the temptation to crawl back into a bottle.
Then there was also the fact that none of them had seen me go into the officers’ and colonists’ brothel. There was a good reason for that though. Unless I was on the job-- you know-- getting ready to kill someone, I had never been in one. There had never been the desire to. It’s not that I’m prudish I’ve just never seen the purpose.
Fuck the rest of the Humans though. I didn’t give a flying rat’s ass what they thought of me. They couldn’t, or at least wouldn’t, do anything. I was too good at my job, but I was fairly sure that they suspected me of being an anti-collar sympathizer. One thing that none of them had figured out was how I could push myself to near the level of some of the toughest Hybrids. None of them knew the fact that I was a chimera. So full of DNA hacks that I had long ago stopped being Human. I could probably push myself even harder than I had but that would require a lot of work. As it was I was well into my middle age and yet made the fittest, young athletes look like weaklings.
I lit a cigarette and relaxed after running through the jerks with my unit. I wasn’t winded at all, not that any of the Hybrids under me were either. Most Humans would have dropped if they had gone through that sort of workout. I wasn’t most Humans though. Besides none of my fellow officers would even try to keep up with Hybrids, they would see it as being beneath them to work up a real sweat. Calisthenics had included a double marathon run in full kit. To put on a show for my Hybrids, and make it damn clear as to what I expected from them I had put on a jarhead’s kit, not an officer’s. Loaded up with about seventy kilos of armor, munitions, and other equipment, my soldiers thought I was nuts to try it.
“How in the name of the creator can a Human do that?” I hear one of the privates, a Raccoon, name Trevor, ask another.
“Have you seen the lewy without his shirt on? The guy makes some of us look soft in the gut. I don’t know where they bred him but he’s no human that I’ve ever seen before,” Sylvester, a huge Tiger said.
“Damn straight,” a Jaguar private, named Rocky said. “The last guy would have dropped dead after a mile in officer’s kit. Lewy did an X marathon in our gear. There is no way the guy’s Human.”
I smiled at how accurate these guys were getting. No Human had anything on me, mostly because I was barely Human anymore. Couldn’t tell them that though.
I took a deep draw on the cigarette before addressing my unit. “Well ladies let’s break for lunch now and then I can run you through the obstacle course two times. And you’re doing it in full kit again.”
“Come on Lieutenant you’ve got to be kidding us,” I head one of my privates whine.
“You’re right I’m running soft on you guys I should have said four times.”
“What???” a Lion shouted, a look of horror plastered on his face at the thought.
“Escobar shut up or he’ll tack on another run,” one of the other Hybrids muttered, elbowing Escobar at the same time.
I glared at my unit. “Next person to speak up out of turn adds another two runs for the full unit. Am I clear?”
No one wanted to risk six runs through the obstacle course in full kit. “Now here’s what I am going to do for you pansies I’m going to show you an officer can do this, in fact I’ll do an extra run through just to prove I’m tougher than any of you slobs. Anyone willing to do that extra run can join me to prove he’s just as tough.”
I stared each of them down they were used to assholes using collars on them. It was obvious they had never had a psycho officer who could keep up with them and physically challenge them this way. They had no clue as how to respond to this sort of challenge. When you get used to people using only one method of doing things, seeing a completely different technique takes some adjustments. “Anyone want to challenge me on this? Feel free to speak.”
Sergeant Drake spoke first. “So you’re saying you are willing to go through the course five times in full kit?”
“That’s correct Sergeant, I’ll go through five times as heavily loaded down as you.”
“Then we’ll go six.”
“Sarge are you nuts!!!” Someone screamed up.
I smiled, Drake was going to stake his honor on beating me. “Good I knew I could count on you guys to show me you’re the best. To give you lily livered hair balls further incentive, anyone who goes through it a seventh time, gets an extra visit to the brothel this week.”
There were several cheers and even more groans. Some of these guys had gone soft from not having had a good CO, only ones who knew how to break their spirits. Now I was going to work them harder than they could imagine, but I was going to make the proud of themselves. A Hybrid motivated by pride can accomplish far more than one who no longer cares about life.
We ate a quick meal and fifteen minutes later were heading for the obstacle course, two kilometers of pure hell. Rope climbs, free hand rock walls that, at times, had hundred-and-fifteen-degree angles to climb, cargo net climbs and descents, mud hugging crawls under electrified trip wires. This was going to be fun. I knew I was going to be dragging tail by the last run, and I could only imagine what my troops would be like at the end of this. Especially the ones who ran seventh for extra brothel privileges. Still I knew they could do it. They were determined to be the best, if for no one else’s stake but mine. They didn’t want me to be forced to use the collar because they knew I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. If I was going to give them the freedom to not have to worry about that thing, they were going to fight for it.
I suited up again. “Come on you apes, you wanna live forever? It’s time to get your shit together and run this like your lives depend upon it!”
I didn’t even have to look back when my foot hit the first steps to know I was being followed. I could hear my soldiers moving in unison. I was one of the first ones to hit the ropes and was quickly twenty meters up and looked down at the Hybrids who were waiting to get to their own rope. Then it was a three-meter jump to the cargo net to scramble down it to get back to ground level. A hundred meters of hugging mud while crawling under electrified trip lines to the first rock wall. I had done a fair amount of this type of thing while I was getting back into shape. When the rock wall was curving over me while I was climbing I had no trouble fighting hand holds. Even with an extra seventy kilos dragging at me getting to the top proved to be of little issue. I won’t bore you with further details, but to say that by the last two hundred meters of my fifth run I was barely standing.
As soon as my foot hit the end of the obstacle course I was on my back wondering what the hell I had been thinking. Showing off to my troops that I could go five runs through this had been pure insanity. I crawled to a chair and watched my troops go through the course for their sixth time. All of them looked beat to hell. I was able to get to a look out to see about dozen soldiers attempt the seventh for those extra brothel privileges. Two made it out the others having collapsed at various points through. I slowly made it back to the end of the course, I was going to be feeling this work out for a couple of days. Sergeant Drake, and a huge, St. Bernard private, named Tanker were collapsed on top of each other barely able to move.
“Well looks like to the two of you are going to the brothel again tomorrow,” I said with a slow smile as I walked up to them. “You two really must need to get laid desperately to make it through seven times.”
“Yes Sir.” Drake said trying to salute. His arms seemed to be worn out completely. Tanker couldn’t even manage the ‘Sir’.
I pointed at four soldiers who were starting to look fresh again and told them to help their squad mates back to their feet and if need be carry them to the barracks. The rest I dispatched to pick up the remainder that had dropped out along the length of the course.
Once I had my Hybrids grouped back together I marched them back to the barracks and started singing an old cadence from centuries past. To my surprise the unit seemed to know a very different version of the same song. One I later learned was sung by Hybrids only when there were no Humans around.
The cadence had some very inappropriate language regarding Humans in general. Eloquent imaginings of collar frying officers and forcing them to serve as whores in the dirtiest brothels they could find. I recognized almost immediately that hearing this was an incredible honor. I don’t want to think of how many officers would have started blowing collars if they heard this. Yet my unit felt no fear in singing the cadence because they knew that I wouldn’t find it offensive and would probably get a kick out of it.
After I got the bead on the lyrics I joined in which cheered them up to no end. It was the perfect morale booster after having had their asses handed to them on the course. I quieted them once we got closer to other officers who would’ve been able to make out the words. No reason for everyone, including myself to get killed for it. We switched to a modern cadence for the remainder of the march. We hit the showers as soon as we got back to our barracks.
Hot water had never felt so good as it wiped away the mud and tension. My muscles were going to be sore for a while, but I would soon be good as new, and ready to challenge these guys again. They had their pride on the line now. Their CO had just gone five rounds on the obstacle in jarhead gear, seventy kilos, as opposed to an officer’s ten. They would need to step up their game to stay ahead of me. I didn’t know if I could go more than five, but I was damned if I wasn’t going to try. I doubted one of my fellow officers could do it once in heavy kit, so the Hybrids hadn’t need to prove that they were tougher than a Human until now.
Sgt. Drake walked in looking a bit refreshed. Lucky thing for Hybrids is that their muscles heal faster than Humans making it easier for them to get stronger faster. It also means they can shake off the beat to hell feeling of a hard work out faster. My chimera based system makes any normal Human pale, but even I couldn’t keep up with a Hybrid. “Permission to speak Lieutenant?
“Yes Sergeant. What is on your mind?”
“The boys and I were wondering both how you did what you were able to do what you did, and also why did you do it. You could have gotten yourself killed out there pulling a stunt like that.”
“The how I can’t answer to, other than to say I did work outs similar to that one when I was sobering up. Nothing that insane mind you, but I had to try. The reason though was simple, I needed you guys to prove you were tougher than me. Most officers would have taken a dive after the first run, in officers’ kit. I wanted to show you guys that your officer was going to make you either look bad, or you were going to prove yourselves.”
“Thank you, sir. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t going to do anything to get you killed. We don’t want a new CO. You’ve spoiled us.”
“Yes sir.” Drake saluted and shut the door on his way out.
After a few minutes I checked the duty roster and made sure everything was going smoothly. I hadn’t needed to worry, Drake was handling everything perfectly. No one was shirking their responsibilities anymore. Though that hadn’t really been an issue after a couple of days. As I said, you show a Hybrid a little respect, and they’ll do anything to prove that they’ve earned it. Never underestimate the loyalty of a well-trained Hybrid with everything to prove to a good CO.