Chapter One Thousand Nine Hundred Sixty-Five
2nd March 1970
There was considerable irony in sitting through Geology class near the end of the school day hearing about the latest theories regarding the role of glaciation in the formation of the modern landscape. It certainly seemed to be going by at a glacial pace. Bas was actually looking forward this afternoon because of the events planned. They were in the midst of the slack period of time between the Christmas Holiday and the Easter Holiday. It being late winter, the staff had a large number of ways to enforce discipline that usually involved them out in the freezing cold for extended time. Into this was Niko fretting over just who got stuck in KP this week, as if Bas would object to being in the kitchens this time of the year. It certainly was a lot better than a long hike through deep snow or the threat of shoveling that same snow if they managed to really mess up. Scrubbing a pot in hot water was heaven by comparison. Niko also failed to realize that making him decide who got KP was just another part of the same game. Staber Arbeit not caring about who Niko told was a tell. If Niko had been smart, he wouldn’t have breathed a word of it to anyone and Bas had told him so. He had also noticed that everyone in the dorm’s bay was getting angry at Niko, a divide and conquer move of sorts. Learn to lead or else get your ass kicked and that made the rest of the bay easier for the staff to control.
It was not to say that Bas didn’t have things he was looking forward to. It being Monday, his class would have lessons in Contact Combat. To Bas’ amazement he had discovered that he was quite good at it, though one of the aspects of that martial art was they were being trained to fight someone bigger and stronger than they were. That included Bas and for the first time he was getting knocked down by his classmates due to those lessons making them competitive. Because they were judged as class Bas found that he didn’t have much cause to get too sore over that. If anything, knowing that he was going against equal opponents made it more fun. Tomorrow, fencing lessons were scheduled and that was horrendous. Niko had excelled in that sport while it was all Bas could do not to have their Instructor pluck the foil out of his hand because he was holding it wrong again…
“Cadet Schultz” The Geology Professor said sharply as he slapped a meter stack down on the Formica top of Bas’ desk “Pay attention, this is going to be on this week’s quiz.”
Bas figured that he did need to pay attention. One of the things that was being held over his head was that he needed to keep his marks up if he was going take part in sports. The alternative being spending his afternoons in the Library studying until they improved. While Bas was fairly sure that you couldn’t die from that sort of boredom, it would certainly make you wish for a quick death.
Los Angeles, California
“Pleased you finally made it out here Boot” Sargent Wilkinson as he saw Ritchie get into the patrol car. It had gone exactly how he had figured it would.
Six months in the Academy and the first thing he encountered was a reminder that he was still just starting out here today. Ritchie’s introduction to 160th Regiment of the 40th Infantry Division had gone better. First, he had been briefed on the history and mission of the 160th Regiment. Originally the 7th California Volunteer Regiment of the Civil War era that had guarded the American South-West against Confederate invasion. Later it had fought in the trenches in in France during the First World and had been deployed in the Philippines in 1944 in case either the Germans or Japanese did something very stupid.
The key difference between that and the LAPD was that he had entered the National Guard Division as a Staff Sergeant from the Special Forces and most of the Platoon he had been assigned to had been frightened that he would be some sort of crazy, hard charging lunatic. Ritchie certainly wasn’t that, but he had let them know that he wasn’t going to put up with any bullshit either. The problem was that he only saw the men of the Squad he was supposedly leading a couple days a month. Putting the fear of God into them did however stick while they were in his presence. The Lieutenant supposedly who led the Platoon was still learning that it was not his fraternity at San Diego State, and he tended to do whatever Ritchie suggested. It was an arrangement that suited Ritchie quite well.
Closer to home, things were a bit more difficult. The Police Academy had conducted the physical portion of their training during the hottest time of the year in Southern California. Then they had followed that by teaching them how to navigate the Police Department’s labyrinthine bureaucracy once the weather had finally started to cool down a bit. Now, after months of that Ritchie found himself with Sergeant Wilkinson who had been assigned to be his Training Officer. The best that he could hope for was a quiet night, but when the car turned onto 6th Avenue and headed towards Skid Row Ritchie remembered exactly which neighborhood this was. Quiet was wishful thinking.