“Colonel O’Gill reporting as ordered, sir.” The colonel was at stiff attention offering an exactly proper salute. Normally he wouldn’t have been so exactingly formal with the general, but he recognized the tone in his superior’s voice when he had summoned. He had rarely heard that tone, but it had always meant trouble. When he entered the office, one look at the expression on the General McNamara’s face and O’Gill knew that this was a really bad one.
The general returned the salute and said,” At ease, O’Gill. Where’s the Third Regiment right now?”
O’Gill was sure that the general knew right where every unit in the regiment was. The entire regiment was often referred to as McNamara’s Band, because he kept such a close eye on his command. Still, O’Gill decided to play it straight. “Three companies of the 7th Battalion are engaged in war games and training maneuvers with 8th Battalion. Two companies of the 9th are out there with them. The three remaining companies are here at the fort for standard maintenance and refit, sir.”
The general scowled. “How fast can you recall all units and reform the Regiment?”
The colonel’s face drained of all color. The last time there was a major recall and reform of the Regiment it was to fend off a full fledged Clan Moonraker invasion of Altair IV. The entire Division had been pulled off New Ireland for that one.
The General saw the look on O’Gill’s face and started to laugh. “I’m sorry, Darby. I didn’t mean to scare you. It’s not another Moonraker incursion, although it’s just about as bad.”
“If it’s not the Lizards, sir, what is it?” O’Gill wasn’t sure yet how much relief he should feel.
“Darby, it’s His Royal Highness.”
“The eldest son of the Altarian Royal Family has decided he wants to do his required military service with the Irish Dragoons. Sit down, Darby.”
O’Gill pulled up a chair and faced his general. “So what’s that got to do with us, general? Most of these rich and famous types want to make their reputations in a Battlemech. This little headache should belong to the First or Second Regiment.”
“Most of the time you’re right, but H.R.H. thinks he wants to serve with the Third. So his mumsy and daddy have requested an inspection tour. As a result we’re going to have a Regimental Parade. We only have five days to put the spit and polish on this entire collection of hooligans. We need the regiment regrouped fast. Call in the DropShips Golden Harp, Shamrock III, and Little-Bit-O-Heaven to gather up the guys playing games in the north.”
O’Gill looked more than a little disgusted. “All this and we have to play dress up for some royalty? I’ll bet those jokers in the First and Second are laughing their mechanical asses off.”
“It’s the Altarian Royal Family, Colonel. Remember what they’ve done for the Dragoons.”
“Yes, sir. But they need to remember what the Irish Dragoons have done for them. We’re a fighting unit, not a bunch of wet nurses.”
“That will be enough, colonel. Get the regiment reformed and ready for my inspection.”
The colonel came to attention, saluted, replied,”Yes, sir.” and started for the door. He had not missed the general’s emphasis on the word “my”.
“And Darby . . .”
“Yes, General McNamara.”
“They may be royalty, but at least they’re not English.”
Both men laughed at the long standing joke and Colonel Darby O’Gill left with his orders.