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Tapped Out

Posted on Fri Aug 11th, 2023 @ 7:40pm by 2nd Lieutenant Christian Rogers

Mission: Pre-Launch + Pre-Mission 1 Stories
Location: Recruit Basic Training
Timeline: Several years prior

The speeches were over, the parade review was over. Junior enlisted were given the task to help direct family and friends from the reviewing stands to the field where the graduating class waited under the hot sun. Though they stood at parade rest and did little else, the heat was slowly revealing sweat stains in underarm and backs of uniform shirts. As with other classes, the graduates would get the rest of this day and then a week of liberty while assignments were being formulated and orders dispatched to the newest of junior enlisted.

The official order of the day was to remain at parade rest, eyes forward and were told to wait. This was a part of the ceremony that didn't really involve NCOs or officers. It was meant to be a 'moment' between the new recruits and their loved ones. The idea was for the recruit to be found by a loved one and 'tapped out'. This allowed them to leave parade rest and to begin their week of liberty. Some families ran to their newly inducted Marine, others took it slow as if to draw out the moment and suspense. It was meant to be a moment and usually was over within minutes with recruits leading their loved ones back to the barracks to gather their gear and rucks and then leave the training grounds. It symbolized the journey the recruit made from being 'given' to the Marines by their family to when the recruit has started their first steps in the Corps.

Fifteen minutes passed and it was an instructor just passing by the field who discovered the one new Marine remaining in place. He scowled and started to shout at the Marine that he was supposed to leave. Sometimes induction took too strongly and even the clearest instructions went into a brain incapable of parsing words of more than one syllable - or in the case of Marines, more than ony syllabic grunt. Instead he turned to head back to where he saw a group of officers and would let them deal with this. After all, he was set to start his three weeks of leave before moving to another training class.

The officers heard his news with disbelief but after several minutes they went as a group toward the field. Where the single, lone man still stood.

"Oh, shit," a first lieutenant said. He turned and went back to where the rest of the administrative officers were still gathered. He went straight to a man wearing captain rank on the right side and a chaplain pin on the left.

"Father," the first lieutenant said. "We've got a problem. It's Rogers."

"Rogers?" the chaplain asked, confused. The name wasn't familiar to him. As a chaplain at a training base, he came into contact with many recruits over the course of their training but he couldn't remember a Rogers.

"Private Christian Rogers," the lieutenant said. "He's still on the parade grounds, waiting."

"His family didn't arrive for the graduation ceremony?" the chaplain asked, still confused. The young lieutenant spoke as if he should know something about this Private Rogers.

"No, Father," the lieutenant said. "He doesn't have family. He's an orphan, ward of the State. Well, he was until his enlistement. Now I guess he's a ward of the Corps."

"Wait," another captain said walking over to the pair. He glanced at his chrono as he stopped before the lieutenant. "Are you telling me that we have a private still on the parade ground because no one came to tap him out?"

"Yes, sir," the lieutenant said with a sigh.

The captain shook his head, "Surely a friend or foster parent, somebody was supposed to come?"

"Sorry, sir," the lieutenant said. "But I don't think so. It was mentioned only a week ago that we never received mail for him, nor did we find evidence that he sent mail out. I don't think he ever made calls out either. He did ask, at one point, if he could just give that time to other recruits."

"Well, what about his friend's family? If he's giving extra call time to a friend didn't they go get him? Is he feeb?"

"No, sir, pretty intelligent actually. He followed orders as any good enlisted would - to the spirit. He innovated, was given leadership more than the others in his training squad. But, I don't think he asked to give it to anyone in particular, just asked if it could be given to someone else. Someone that needed the time since he didn't."

"You're telling me," the captain said, his irritation evident, "that we have a Marine still on the parade grounds because we didn't take into consideration he didn't have anybody coming to graduation for him? For crying out loud, Lieutenant, we make them fill out graduation announcements in triplicate! Did no one check to make sure he completed that assignment?"

The lieutenant secured a PaDD and had called up Rogers's file. "He turned it in, just wrote "not applicable" in the invitee fields."

"Oh, for crying out loud!" the captain said then sternly told the lieutenant and chaplain to follow him. Both men had to scramble to keep up as the trio made their way to the parade grounds. The singular private that remained standing at parade rest was impossible to miss now that people knew about him. Others were watching as well, but so far no one seemed to want to interfere or find out about the situation. The captain's irritation increased and he checked his chrono again. A lot of leave was going to be starting late and then with asses being thoroughly chewed over this situation.

Rogers, though the orders for this part of the ceremony were clear, moved from parade rest to attention as he noticed the captain coming toward him. The Corps just spent the last few months working on drilling proper procedures, orders and courtesies into him and after weeks of the need to blindly and quickly follow them, it was instinct that caused him to move from one order to a higher order without much thought.

"Private," the captain asked as he stood before the young man, noting the dark eyes and hair as hallmarks of a Betazoid heritage. "Why the hell are you still standing here?"

Rogers's glance flickered toward the captain then quickly back to the reviewing stand where he was supposed to be looking. "Sir?" he said, simply. It was an unfortunately time honored and somehow never taught tradition of enlisted in avoiding answering a direct question.

"Why are you still standing here, Private?" the captain asked, not quite a bellow but getting close.

"Sir, Recruit Rogers's class was given orders regarding the graduation ceremony, sir!" Rogers said, still using the recruit third person taught and maintained during training. "Recruits were to remain at parade rest after the completion of ceremonies until they were 'tapped out', sir!" he finished, his voice a combination of confidence but also nervous. His dark gaze flickered to the captain again while he spoke, but then away.

"How long were you going to stay here, Private, knowing that you didn't have anyone coming to tap you out?"

Rogers took a breath and tried hard to keep his face neutral and controlled. "Sir, Recruits were given orders they were to remain at parade rest until 'tapped out', sir!"

The captain pinched the bridge of his nose. This was one reason he really disliked interacting with privates during training. "Son, you don't have anybody coming to tap you out, how long were you going to stand here?"

"Sir, Recruits were given orders they were to-"

"Shut it!" the bellow came now. The captain took a deep breath as he turned to the two with him. He noticed a definite silence coming from the private standing before him. "Okay, Private, who was supposed to tap you?"

Rogers's jaw tightened. "Sir, Recruit Rogers does not have family, sir."

"What about friends? Hell, a fellow recruit's family could have done it! We don't really check on the parade grounds. It could have been anybody."

Rogers remained quiet but now his gaze at the reviewing stand had a stubborn, shameful quality to it.

"Well, who did you arrange to come get you?" the Captain asked.

"Sir, Recruit Rogers-"

"Oh, for crying-" the captain started but was cut off by a gentle hand placed on his shoulder. The chaplain smoothly slid forward, drawing attention to him.

"Son," the chaplain said, "did you make any arrangements for this? Maybe someone hasn't arrived yet or someone forgot they were going to help you?"

Rogers remained quiet, his jaw tight and stolidly staring ahead.

"Private Rogers," the chaplain said, "who did you ask to perform your tap out?"

"Sir," Rogers started but went silent as the chaplain raised a finger.

"Private, you've graduated training and are no longer a recruit, please keep that in mind."

"Sir," Rogers said, "Private Rogers -" he sighed "I don't have any family, sir. I didn't have anyone to invite."

"No one?" the chaplain said. "Surely there must have been-"

"Sir!" Rogers said then realized he'd just interrupted an officer and stiffened.

"No, go ahead, Private," the chaplain said.

"No, sir, I didn't have anyone to come to graduation for me. My fellow recruits were just recruits, sir, not family or friends. I have no family, I've never had family and no one wants to be friends with an orphan, sir."

The chaplain nodded. "So you were going to just stand here?"

Rogers nodded. "Recruits were given orders, sir."

"Then who are you going to visit on your week of leave?" the chaplain asked. "Where were you going to go?" This was very confusing to the chaplain. He couldn't remember a time in all his years of service that a recruit didn't have anybody come to their graduation. Or, if there was, he never heard about it before today. It took a moment for him to realize that the young man before him had just answered with a whispered two words 'no where'. It struck him silent.

"Then where were you going? And relax, Private, you're making me sore just looking at you."

Rogers took a moment, then must have decided it was akin to an order so he went back to parade rest. "No where, sir. I have pay saved up from training and figure it could get me a room for the week. Or at least until orders came in and I could report to my new assignment. Since I don't have family or friends, I don't really need to go anywhere."

"Lieutenant," the captain said, "Where is this young man assigned next?"

The lieutenant shuffled through tabs on Rogers's file. "He's not been assigned yet."

The captain reached out and gripped the young private's shoulder. "Find the next available assignment for him and get him there. Today if possible."

"Sir," the Lieutenant said, "The only thing I'm seeing is-"

"Don't care, Lieutenant," the captain said. "As long as it's beneficial to this Marine, make it happen. If you need to, Colonel Pubkers and Colonel Asmeric owe me favors. If that doesn't work, tell General Penn's aide that his markers are forgiven." The captain turned back to Rogers. "Son, I want to apologize. This isn't normal and we just didn't consider that a graduate wouldn't have anybody coming to his graduation. If you really don't want to take the leave and spend a week waiting to got to your next assignment, then, well, we'll make this right."

"Sir?" Rogers asked, glancing at the hand still on his shoulder. "Does this count as a 'tap out'?"

The captain stared at the young man. "Yes, Private, I'll say it does."

"Sir?" Rogers said, frowning. "When we're tapped out by somebody, we're supposed to escort them to our barracks to retrieve our gear?"

Now the captain did chuckle. "I think we can skip that part as well. You were assigned a PaDD?"

"Yes, sir," Rogers answered, his body language markedly changed as he wasn't even in parade rest now. "It's with my gear."

"Okay, then you have permission to remain in the barracks until your transport to your assignment happens. The Corps takes care of its own and that means we're not going to let a private spend his pay on a hotel for a week. We've got the room."

"Yes, sir," Rogers answered.

"Though, you'll be the only one there, it might get lonely."

Rogers turned his dark eyes to the captain but didn't speak. He didn't need to. That Rogers was used to spending his life alone was evident in just the look he gae the captain. "Check your PaDD, you'll have orders to an assignment within...what? An hour?"

"Yes, Captain," the Lieutenant mumbled as he went through his PaDD making arrangements.

"Fine, you're dismissed, Private," the captain said. Rogers only nodded, then without saying anything further, he started walking toward the barracks. He turned, however, as the captain called after him. "Son, the Corps is more than just fellow Marines, you need to understand that it's your family now."

Rogers only gave a single, weary nod before turning to walk to the barracks.

"Lieutenant, get the recruit training staff together. This was an abject failure on our part and it can never happen again."

"Yes, Captain," the lieutenant answered, having already composed and sent a message recalling training staff for the meeting. Then, he pushed forth orders for the private's new assignment. It was another training class, and not generally given out to those just graduated, but his orders were to get the private to the next available training and this one started tomorrow morning. And it would be a great benefit to the private, provided he passes. According to his records, however, that wasn't much of a concern.

 

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