Somewhere in the distance, Simon heard a bell chirp. What was that? What was this bell. He decided to turn around. The ringing of the bell didn’t stop.
Lights in the room came awake and he heard steps.
“Wake up, wake up”, someone was touching his shoulders.
“Why aren’t you awake, 624?”
“What? What time is it? What are you doing in my room?”
“8:15, we have the appointment with the Security Directorate, you have to be ready. We can’t be late”
Simon looked at both of them. They were attired in their finest parade uniform. Everything shined even 308’s bare dome.
“I’ll go to the Bathroom.”
“Hurry, hurry, 624”
Simon jumps in his pajamas into the en suite bathroom and started a quick shower. The slung towel around him and shaved and brushed his teeth.
“Should we put out your uniform? What underwear?”
“He has civilian undies?”
“Other countries other customs”
Simon did not consider himself prudish, but he put a towel around his private parts.
Then stepped out to get underwear and a T-shirt.
Guardsmen looked at him a little bit in shock.
“Sorry, is there anything?”
680 hurried to reply: “No, no,… anything you need to get ready? Should we help you with cleaning and dressing?”
Simon chuckled: “No, no, I can do that myself, thanks!” being bewildered about the strange offer and went back into the bathroom.
He heard something about: “No tattoo, strange”
He stepped out.
“Ok, my dress shirt, dress pants, shoes and tunic.”
He hurried to step into them.
“Yes, you are right, guys, I have virgin skin. But many soldiers have. Do you have some?”
“Well, all Guardsmen have their tag number tattooed…”
“Yeah, on the right breast.”
“Ah, well, we talk about that later.”
He was fully dressed and checked his appearance in the mirror.
“Can we grab something to eat before we head out?”
“Sorry, we have some nutrition in the truck”
“Why did it take you so long to get ready?”
“We usually take 15 min including breakfast.”
“You have to be sung bunch of people”. Simon was a little bewildered.
He grabbed his briefcase and walked out. The door to the parking lot opened when 680 held his hand to a scanner.
The nutrition in the APC truck turned out to be standard guard rations in a baby bottle like device.
“What should I do?”
680 had helped to latch down Simon in the APC but left his right arm free.
“Simply take the rubber nozzle into your mouth and start sucking.”
Simon thought it was a strange thing to do.
The warm liquid tasted slightly vanilla but was, more or less, bland. It wasn’t bad, just very bland.
“So, what is this?”
“As I told you, a Meal Ready to Suck”
“Aha, well in Canada, those look and taste differently. Our rations are more like canned stew or ravioli. I’d only take a protein drink like this after a workout if I was trying to bulk up.”
“But it’s very simple and effective, one less distraction for a Guardsman to worry about.”
The APC moved.
“Where are we going?”
“This morning, we have an audience with the Security Directorate, the ultimate commanders of the GUARD and programmers of the GUMS.”
“What is GUMS?”
“The Guardsman Management System. The integrated computer systems that helps to administer the Guardsman and our security operations. Can you see my earpiece?”
680 turned his ear so Simon could see.
“Through these earpieces, every Guardsman has constant contact to GUMS and can communicate with it, as well as obtain information or directions.”
“Does it have a voice interface?”
“Indeed, a very nice soothing voice.” 680 laughed.
The APC rolled through streets.
“Where will we meet the person from the Security Directorate?”
“Downtown in the administration office. So when we go in, there is another Guardsman who will accompany us. He will also instruct you on how to behave in her presence and how you are to address her. The security there is really tight and it is a big honor to meet her.”
Simon nodded. He was told the Security Directorate was similar to the Canadian Ministry of the Interior.
As they were driving on the road to the downtown Simon tried to make some small talk.
“680, is it okay if I call you 680? Or should I use the full number?”
“No, no, among Guardsmen you can just use the last three digits, it’s almost like the first name of civilians. I will just call you 624. Like your service number. As we discussed yesterday.”
“Ok, how long have you been in the Guard?”
“This one went to a Guard Academy after grade 11”
“Did you always want to be in the Guard?”
680 stopped and seemed to recall.
“No, a recruiter came to my school and we were all given a series of tests. This one scored well so the recruiter visited us at home, and after a discussion with my parents took me to the recruiting office. This one went to a holding facility before processing and then finished my school at the Guard Academy. This one has enjoyed service since then.”
“Do you have a plan for when you are done in the Guards?”
“Hopefully, this one will always be a Guardsman. There is no intention of ever leaving. This one loves the Guards with all his heart!
How long have you been an officer?”
“I have been in the army for 7 years. I joined as an officer to help pay for University and then have stayed ever since. I enjoy the army enough, I guess, it’s afforded me some neat opportunities but i’m not sure where I will end up next.”
680 frowned. “You mean, will leave the army one day?”
“Yes, I mean, it’s a good life but eventually you have to leave it. Retention is always a problem for us. ”
“You could learn from the Guards, this thinks. We have very little problem with retention. Once a Guardsman always a Guardsman.”
Entry to Simons private notes about the trip:
“So far, I have not seen anything from the famous capital of the Europeans. My only glimpse have been from the windows of an armored personnel carrier. Security seems to be very strict. On our trip from the barracks, we passed at least two security checkpoints. On both, we were led through but at the second guy in some kind of really heavy body armor checked the inside of the vehicle.
When we then came to the admin building, it seemed only official cars and pedestrians were allowed.
They led us to an office. And another Guardsman instructed me how to behave. That’s all seemed to be very odd. Like at royal court of the ancient times.
I was not to speak from my own. I should only address her as Lady Director, he also instructed Guardsmen on what to do. When we were about to leave, he even held something to their underwear and checked it, it was locked. Not really sure how underwear could be locked. 680 later explained to me that it was because he wore their body suit below.
These even kneeled in front of the large wooden desk. And looked down asked how they could serve. The Director told them then to look up and allowed them to speak. It seems from me not such behavior was required.”
They waited in one of several offices. This seemed to be the one for Guardsmen. It was furnished rather spartan. Behind a grey metal desk worked a middle aged Guardsman who seemed to be the adjutant of the security director. He was of the same trim built most higher ranking Guardies seemed to be and wore a silver aiguillette on his left shoulder.
There was a frosted glass cabinet on one side of the room. Two tag numbers were written on it and from behind glimmered dim light.
“What is this?”
“Oh, thats the cabinet where they keep the security directors personal bodyguards.”
“Where they keep their stuff?”
“There stuff, but also themselves.”
“Do you mean there are humans inside?”
“Sure, her personal bodyguards go there to rest and relax when they are not needed.”
Simon was perplexed.
The adjutant smiled.
“I can show you.” The adjutant pressed a button and one of the frosted glass doors opened. The light went on. A Guardsmen in an tank suit opened his eyes.
“How can C-3373-117-290 be of service?”
“We just wanted to show how you rest, to our exchange officer from Canada.”
“Ah. Ok.” C-3373-117-290 blinked, as if to extract the last bits of sleepiness from his eyes.
“See, here in the alcove they can rest and the suite is being charged and stuffed out with all the necessary consumables it needs.”
“It is actually pretty comfy.” C-3373-117-290 added.
“His setup allows the bodyguards to rest while they are not needed and they are ready and fresh when you need. With this we can realize much longer periods of service, before they have to be replaced… You are now allowed in.”
Simon and his handlers walked through several rooms of mostly male secretaries and assistants.
The heavy doors opened and they commenced walking to the end of the office where a large desk dominated the room. Behind that desk sat the Security Director.
The Guardsmen kneeled and asked: “How can we serve you, Mistress?”
Director: “F-3374-205-680, I see you have brought to me our Canadian guest?
680: “Yes, Mistress! Let me introduce Captain Simon Martin from Canadian Army.”
Simon made a slight bow.
Simon: “Lady Director?”
Then Simon took the Ladies hand and kissed it.
Director: “Oh, you’re real gentleman, my dear! What are manners! It’s all good old etiquette, but I like it.”
Simon: “Old etiquette? And is kneeling part of new one?”
Director: “Yes. This is the protocol. It is to show respect for the lawfully chosen superiors.”
Simon: “Is that behavior required from me, Lady Director?”
Director: “You may kneel, if you want. But you do not have to. I am understanding that Canadian officers still using etiquette’s tradition from the past. And, honestly, I am finding that really cute.”
Simon: “But requiring from Guardsmen…”
Director: 2As I said, it is part of our protocol. But let’s not occupy our minds with formalities… I hope, your visit leads our two countries together to a new form of understanding and cooperation. There is so much to gain from it.”
Simon: “Indeed, I hope to learn much and gain a better understanding in your ways.”
The Director laughed. Then she directed her gaze at 680 and 308.
“You shall see that our visitor is safe and gains a thorough understanding of our work here!”
680 replied: “Of course, Mistress. We will do our very best.”
Director: “I expect that!”
She laughed again
Director: “You are clever young man. You will see many strange things here in the Guards and maybe even some things that will shock you. But keep in mind, they are here for a reason and our system, our society works.”
Simon: “Indeed, I will. Europe is the one of the largest powers on this earth and Canada is interested in learning from it.
“From her… Europe is a lady”. The director laughed.
“But now I have to attend other business. I’m sure your visit will be the start of a fruitful cooperation between our states. And I hope your time here will bring insights to you.”
The audience ended. Both Guardsmen kneeled and then exited the room
Entry to Simons private notes about the trip:
“When we finished, the Guardies were really overjoyed and talked to me a lot how great an honor it was to be that woman and were really awestruck.
So far, I also noticed that they call themselves with the last three digits of their numbers. That seems to be the normal form of address. They were even asking if they could use my service number to address me.
For their rank system, I have not totally understood them yet. It seems they have two types of Guardsman: the ones with the lower letters who have joined after school, and the ones who seem to be more higher up in their hierarchy with the higher letters who went to Guard Academies.
And I have never met a fat Guardsman so far. They all seem to be rather fit almost strangely so, as if they spend a lot of time in the gym.
It seems that shaving their hair is also very common, especially among the lower ranks.
Somehow, this all feels odd.”
After the visit to the security director they took me back to the barracks for a lunch.
And then, they showed me a video about the Guard. It must have been full of Hypnotic triggers. We had some counter-hypnosis training and I noticed them, but I fear I must have been overwhelmed. At least, I felt a bit disoriented watching it and realized that about an hour had gone by in what felt like 5 minutes. Man, those are some slick recruiting videos, I didn’t realize how long we were watching them – I can see why so many young lads here get so fired up about it. If I was a young fellow here, I’d probably sign up myself. When I remarked about it to 680 he told me, that I would make a good Guardsman, as I was clearly a knowledgeable soldier, but with their training and brotherhood it would be even better. Strange, how they always seems to want to make me a Guardsman, but I guess I should take it as a compliment that they think I’d be good in their army.
After they left, I had a light snack and went to bed. So far, I have not been served meat.”
A little add on to the entry notes: “Hypnotic effect was really strange. I jerked off three times in a row before I could sleep.”