Recruiting Sergeant Jayce Bronner glared at the teenage boy who had rather nervously asked him a very stupid question. “Okay the quickest way to satisfy your service requirement is volunteer to serve as a K-9 trooper.”
“A what?” The boy who had rather sheepishly introduced himself as Jann replied.
“A dog handler.” Bronner explained. “Sure you gotta break a few skulls with the Gendarmes but it’s a pretty easy gig and you only serve six years instead of the normal twenty.”
“What’s the catch?” Jann asked.
“The service dogs are retired after five years so typically the trooper is mustered out at the same.” Bronner added.
“So what happens with the dog?” Jann blurted out, not completely following the sergeant.
“It goes home with the soldier, that’s why the Guard only drafts K-9 troopers from planets where dog ownership is common.” Bronner said, Jann seemed a little redneckish but that was usually a good thing for a soldier.
“So I get out early and I get a cool awesome dog.” Jann answered, summing up what he had learned so far.
Bronner decided to start on the bad news. “One year of training, and then five years of service but you’ll be a Gendarme private the entire time. Hell you won’t even make PFC unless you do something stupidly heroic.”
“So no real pension or muster out bonus. Yeah I can live with that.” Jann said. Carolus had a decent enough economy that a returning soldier would have no trouble getting job. More than you could say for other places.
“You’ll have to score really damn well on the tests. Every goldbricker, coward and barracks lawyer tries for K-9 duty and the Guard really doesn’t need that many dogboys.” Bronner said firmly.
“So if I make the cut that will be accomplishment by itself.” Jann pondered.
“That’s not quite what I meant.” The recruiter groaned. Jann wasn’t a serious prospect but it was important to Bronner to represent the military as best he could.
“I get out early, I get a companion dog and I’ll be part of a select group.” Jann summed up.
“Select group is… one way to put it.” Bronner said remembering his own service. “One thing however it that if your partner is killed in the middle of your tour you usually get sent back for training with a new dog. Remember it’s the dog that gets retired early not the trooper.”
“So take care of the doggo?” Jann said. Catching the key point quickly.
“Right that’s the deal. You take of the dog, the dog takes care of you, Before, during and after the war.” Bronner said cheerfully “And God help you if another K-9 vet finds out you didn’t take care of your partner afterwards.” The sergeant said very sternly. Jann met his eyes briefly to show that he understood.
“Okay. So it’s the fastest way to honorably complete my service.” Jann stated.
“Second fastest would be to volunteer to service in the Colonial Police. That’s ten years and decent promotion opportunities if you re-up.” Bronner said, A lot of recruiters wouldn’t bring that point up since the Colonial Police weren’t part of the military but Bronner had always been too honest for his own good.
Jann nodded, clearly taking a mental note.
There was one more thing Bronner felt he should bring up, “The dishonorable option would be to intentionally fail your training say around the six month mark…”
“Hell no, sir,” Jann interrupted. “I don’t wanna go die in some rich man’s war but if I gonna do something I’m damn well going to do my best. I ain’t intentionally failing nothing.”
I took every ounce of Sergeant Bronner’ s lifetime of discipline not to laugh at that. “Good. Man to man, that’s exactly what I want to hear.”
Jann blushed and looked like he was on the verge of tears.
“Go home kid. The draft quota on this planet is so small that there’s almost no chance of your number coming up.” Bronner said defeatedly.
“Just wanted a plan in case it did, sir.” Jann said weakly. “Got a lot to think about. Guess I’ll go now.”
“Just remember kid there’s nothing stopping you from volunteering.” the old sergeant said calmly.
“Lot to think about,” Jann grunted, before slipping out the door.
“Go home, think about it.. and work on your English, It never hurts if you’re thinking about going off-world.” Bronner yelled out the door in reply.
Jann turned around and waved to thank the sergeant before continuing on his way.
“… I mean fuck I volunteered.” Bronner said to himself. “And he was a damn good dog.