Simon had again finished his breakfast. Every morning, there was a some rye porridge, fruits and tea. 680 collected him and took him to the seminar room.
“Good morning, six-twentyfour. It is always great to see you, my friend”, 680 smiled.
“Good morning, 680.”
“We will have only half a day of seminar, we arranged for you to see some training.”
“Well, you are my favorite exchange officer.”
They entered the seminar room.
“Good morning, Seminar.”
“Good morning, 624”
680 spoke: “Today we have a presentation on Guard Measure to combat the insurgency in Ukraine and then some discussion, after lunch we have scheduled for our guest to view some training.”
Simon surveyed all the Guardsmen around the table.
There was his companion 680. Next to him sat D-4506-971-230 – a short, wiry, guy with short blond curls. He wore wings below his tag number and it said “Airguard”. He had been introduced as a drone operator and pilot.
Next to him, a guy with a dark tan and short slicked black hair F-6736-025-859 some kind of anti-terror specialist. He made a rather scholarly impression.
D-3375-746-039 from internal security and inspection, who never said anything, but was always ramrod straight and wrote down everything that was said. At least, that was what Simon thought.
A rather gruntish, tall, well muscled specimen, with a shaved head, G-1860-196-677 who must have been some leader in what was infantry or actual foot patrol people.
There was the mysterious guy from what Simon was told was the Guard secret service, who wore a full rubber face mask with silver tinted lenses, all the time. When he spoke, his voice was somehow scrambled. Only the last three digits of his number were visible and comically 007.
A small but heavily muscled Prison Guard, bald guy. D-4433-088-496
Some kind of tree that had become a human, who was part of a bomb disposal family unit with a rugged face and rather unstylish 7 mm hair. He seemed to be quite relaxed and the most unstiff of all of them. He must have been old: E-2334-074-551
A lanky guy with short brown hair and a straight line shaved into it from the Border Guards.
And an investigator from the serious crimes division of the Guard. A rather snug looking fellow, with high and tight. He seemed to be older than the average as well.
Sometimes, they were joined by others, but they all seemed to look quite the same with similar faces. As far as he was concerned, sometimes, you saw black or asian immigrant faces but their ethnicity or origin never seemed to be an issues. Guardsmen all spoke fairly similar “European” actually English with some local lean words and it was difficult to gauge where they were from. Mannerism and habits certainly didn’t give a clue.
F-6736-025-859 went to lectern.
“Thank you. The key factor in our success over the rebels and insurgency was establishing lines of control and interdiction the free movement of people. We established internal checkpoints and a tight knit surveillance network.
The second step was also the installation of the concrete wall on the border to Russia and interdiction of all possibilities of the flow of humans. This is part of the fortress Europeanstrategy that we follow as well.
The slide showed what was the land border installations: A wall, razor wire, a no mans land of considerable distance.
Our brother from the drone department can tell you that we also use other means of control. The extension of drone surveillance was essential. However, the recruitment and training of controllers is still bottleneck. ”
Projection showed a 4 m tall wall, topped with razor wire.
“Snap controls have proven an effective tool to intercept random people and fugitives. As you know, it’s necessary to have permit to move around in the Union State.”
The picture showed the checkpoint.
“However, we still have a shortage of personnel, also to sterilize the radiation affected exclusion zone around the reactor. It is dangerous for people to live there and we have to keep the zone free of human habitation and clean the affected settlements. Soon, we expect a radiation proof light tank suit to become available.”
The picture showed Guardsmen doing clean up work.
“We are also quite confident that we can fulfill the necessary recruitment numbers from Ukraine and thus have enough Guardsmen with the ability to speak the local language and Standard European. The training and conditioning process has been perfected.”
The picture showed a a nude young men with a shaved had, who was latched do some kind of gurney, various cables run towards different orificies.
There was excited chatter.
“Some of the guys we got rotated out of Ukraine they were barely able to function, there was so much reconditioning to do.”
“Yeah, in the beginning, it was a mess.”
“The new campaign to recruit is really working. I mean, people don’t have to be fit. We can whip them into shape in the warehouses.”
“Gentlemen…” 680 reminded them go back on topic.
“With the targeted population messenger service we could calm down the local population much better, they are now seeing real benefits in being Union Citizen. The cities were easy but countryside is now in our grips as well.”
A table showed statistics on incidents.
“Again, it shows that our decisive work, support by the Security Directorate and guided by out Mistresses achieves results. We, in the Guard, are part of the elite”
Simon was perplexed by what he had seen.
Again all the Guardsmen left and Simon was lead to a different room were 308 served him lunch.
Even though the food looked tasty, 308 never looked at it as if he wanted to taste from it.
After the lunch, 680 and the so far silent Guardsman with the red trimmings to his uniform came.
“This is D-3375-746-039 from internal security and inspection. This one is going to conduct an inspection on a family unit. You, 624, are invited to accompany me. When we do it, no talking. We can explain later. It will be a surprise for them, but random inspections uphold the discipline and good conduct.”
They walked briskly through the Guard base to some 8 story concrete block. There they entered. All three of them climbed up a ladder, which seemed to be the normal way of getting towards the 3rd floor. The concrete corridor had metal doors going of to the side. They stopped in front of them. The inspector held his hand next to a scanner and the door opened.
Then he yelled into the room: “This is D-3375-746-039 from internal security and inspection. Prepare for inspection!”
The lights in the family unit room went bright, the Guardsmen stood up and came to attention. None of them seemed to have any feature you would remember. All were short haired or bald, well-built and looking a little bit brutish. Seemingly, the standard Guardsmen.
The room was spartan. Metal frame bunk beds, some kind of hard plastic table and chairs in grey, grey floor, white walls, one window, no curtains, grey metal lockers, some kind of TV monitor mounted atop the door. The only decorative item seemed to be the Guard logo next to the monitor on the wall.
With a small white cloth, 039 touched above surfaces. Top of the metal lockers: clean, corners: clean, ridge above the door: dusty, sink: clean, monitor and behind: clean.
B-7854–040-010 opened the lockers of the Guardsmen. And D-3375-746-039 methodically inspected with a flashlight and the white cloth each of the metal lockers.
“Locker of 010: clean.
Locker of 011: clean.
Locker of 012: clean. Throw out this civi book. Even if it is approved literature. If you want to read you can get books from the library.
Locker of 013: clean.
Locker of 014: slightly dirty.
Locker of 015: what is this mess! This is not a locker, this is a pigs hide.” the inspector turned to 015: “you should be ashamed to be a Guardsman to have such a dirty locker!.”
Simon caught a glimpse of the locker and didn’t really find it dirty or messy. It was more or less empty as all the others: Another rubber suit, their parade uniform, a pair of boots, a pair of trainers. Sometimes, what seemed to be a data entry pad. When it came to personal items, there seemed to be one compartment, that had a glass door, was labeled “Personal Items”. Mostly it was empty. With one it contained a teddy bear, at others some pictures of what must have been family members, but rather it seemed to be devout of content. Compared to the lockers at home these were spartan and empty.
The inspector moved on to have a look at the common items the Guardies in the family unit shared: some card game, cleaning supplies, some make your skin glow paste and some cream. As well as three text books.
“This is clean, the bunk beds are made to standard… Step out for personal inspection.”
The family unit group went out of the room, aligned in the wall, put their hands behind their heads and practiced a 100 yard stare while standing at attention.
039 went from Guardsman to Guardsman checking the appearance of the rubber suits and checking for spots, stains or imperfections. When he spoke to them, it was short, clipped sentences, more like a machine gun then a human.
„011 this one see your suit has been mended and welded twice, as Guardsman you are supposed to keep up a clean and tight appearance. And what’s this with your hair? Why can I see this mess on your head?“
„Sir, my suit was damaged during a mission and we decided to repair it. My hair is 4 mm and within the regulation.“
„Still it looks silly. 013 you will make sure this Guardsman gets a blank skull and orders a new suit.“
011 gulped and continued his stare to the wall.
“012, make sure your boots are clean. Cleaner then this. If it necessary, lick them clean.”
Zero-thirty continued inspecting their suits but didn’t find anything, he noted down on a pad what he found.
„Remove suits – prepare for probing!“
The Guardsmen removed their R-class uniforms, folded them neatly in front of themselves on the floor and assumed the attention position again.
Simon gulped and was shocked even more.
Zero-thirty went to the first one and started feeling the muscles, feeling for fat or other unappropriated configuration of parts of the body.
B-7854-040-010, B-7854-040-011, B-7854-040-012, C-7854-040-013, A-7854-040-014, A-7854-040-015 stood with a practiced 100 yards stare, even as they were checked on their responses, reflexes and very private body parts, including probing the ass with his fingers.
After each inspection, 039 carefully noted down on his pad.
„Number thirteen, I sense quite some fat here and here“
039 picked upon the said parts of the body, with a little stick.
„As Guardsmen, we are supposed to be fit and lean. On GUMS this can see your body mass index is dismal. It’s going towards 24, that’s too high.“
013 stood there gulping
„GUMS: So for the next 50 cycles double exercises and put Guardsman C-7854-040-013 on low calorie intake rations. Report the results every 10 cycles.”
“Body inspection finished. Ready yourself!”
The Guardsmen got back into their rubber uniforms. Simon could see that all of them were built at least like swimmers or athletes.
When all were dressed they came to attention again.
“Go back in, take the quiz.”
They all filed back into their room, sat down on the chairs, put out their pads and started taking a quiz on it.
Simon whispered to 680: “What are they being quizzed in?”
“Standard procedures, ideology, protocols,… just some standard quiz to see how good their programming is, what they know and if there has to be done some remedial conditioning or programming”
“Is this a new unit?”
“No, why do you ask?”
“Because the room are so spartan.”
Simon was shocked, this looked more like a prison cell.
“No, just the standard room. One does not need more.”
“Why have those been selected?”
“Why did they not go and simply get a new uniform?”
“If your kit is damaged or loose stuff, it’s deducted from your reward points.”
“Aha, and how do you get reward points?”
“Citations, good conducted, scoring well on tests, doing well at sports and doing a lot of sports, spending your free time with approved actives like the learning apps on the pad. If you have a lot of points you can get rewards for it: promotions, leave or pool it and maybe get an improvement for your family unit room.”
“Aren’t there bunks missing, there were 6 Guardsmen but only three bunk beds?”
“No”, 680 smiled but said nothing more. “We share.”
The inspector stepped out.
“So they have finished their quizzes. Let me have a look on their results… OK. OK. I put them in for some ideology refresher course. And punishment workout 17. That’s it.”
They had come to attention outside their room and 039 spoke to them:
“Guardsman is to think right, to do right, to look right”
“You have gained 78 from 100 of the possible points. We have put into motion the necessary steps for improving your performance. GUMS will direct you.”
“Inspector, we thank you for your review and your help to improve to become better Guardsmen.” All of them kneeled.
“This one does not like to punish, but standards have to be kept up. Remember: Service, Loyalty, Professionalism”
They answered: “Obedience, Frugality, Brotherhood”
“That was quite strict, wasn’t it?”
039 answered: “It is our duty to be strict. Not because we want to torture or tease the lower ranks, but to uphold standards and professionalism.”
Before Simon could ask, more embarrassing questions, 680 lead him away.
“Again, you and your lack of discipline in the Canadian army. Sometimes, this one gets the impression you are a bunch of hairy civilians who sit around a tepee smoking pot. Sure its stricter here, Maple…. But, anyway, we have a meeting with some members of my family unit in the thing that would be the closest to the pub, you wanted to visit.”
For some time, 680 and 308 had started calling him Maple. He was not sure why, but it suited Simon better then his serial number.
They marched through a maze of grey concrete buildings towards a larger area that was styled as a hangout place.
“We just call it the Park.”
It had all the features of an adult playground one for where adults to a lot of sports . Around the park were seating areas for those off duty to watch and sit and chat with their Guard brothers. Some in couples and holding hands, some actually kissing and making out, those were mostly the younger looking Guardies, some sitting in groups and chatting or playing a game. Others were playing soccer, basketball or trying certain calisthenics things.
At the one end, a group of Guardies could be seen going through a heavy workout. Others were cheering them. Simon was not sure, but it could be the group they had just inspected.
680 took them to a set of tables, with a mixed group of Guardies, sitting and talking:
“This is 680’s family unit, this is Mapleboy, the Canadian exchange officer we shepherd around.”
“So, am I allowed to talk?”
“Sure, they are briefed that you will show some strange behavior. But let’s get introduced: You know 308, this is B-4650-609-309, this is C-4650-609-307, this is D-3374-200-688 and E-4646-764-471.
309 and 688 work in the recruiting devision, 688 is our big brother. 307 and 471 are with public relations. We are pretty mixed family unit. Lots of family units share a profession, like the one we saw the check up. But ours is mostly here. 308 is the last one who joined us.”
“688 used to be Mr. Capital area, for his good looks.”
309 was as bald as 308 and 307, while the higher ranking Guardies spotted neatly stylish haircuts. Their bodies were quite similar. Except for the two recruiters who were exceptionally defined.
“Yeah, we all share the same sports program, so bodily, we have become similar.”
688 and 307 sat really close to each other and during the conversation seemed to finger each other up very discreetly.
“So where are you guys from?”
“We come from no special region, but became a family unit, when we were joined up here but have been together for more than 6 years. The Bs and our big brother came strict from induction”
“And what does it mean to be a family unit?”
“Yeah, we also live together and do most exercises and sports together, work at similar departments, the family units are to replace our families, because we only see them once per year.”
“And what is this place here? We don’t have anything like that in Canada?”
“This is the place where we can relax and talk among us, casually. But also, if one gets smoked its done here and the others can cheer on.”
“Don’t you leave base for having a drink or relaxing?”
“It’s safer than leaving the base and here is all we need. Besides, the rule is, every day every Guardy has to get one hour out of discipline and most people spend it here. So you can met all the people you know here. Except my family, this one doesn’t have so much contact to the outside world.”
“Hey, do you want a drink? We can get some from the bar.”
“I can pay.” Simon was to get up.
“You can’t pay.” The others laughed. “Or do you have reward points?”
“Ahhh, no. Isn’t it for money?”
“No, you pay for the drinks with your reward points here.”
So the conversation ebbed around and Simon thought that those talked about the same things then at home. Apparently, all the Guarstations had a place like this:
“On smaller Guardstations the mixing is more thorough, but here on this base are more than 20.000 Guardies stationed, so most groups keep more or less to themselves.”
And the work of the recruiter seemed to be similar to that in Canada.
“Oh, for recruitment we go to schools, see that young lads do their mandatory recruitment and attitude tests, see if they fit and then advise them. For some it’s the Guard, for some it’s over jobs.”
“This one wouldn’t like to go back to its old job, just so boring”.
“Same for me”, Simon added.
“With you tongue you have to be really careful, here in the capital region, they are super strict on formalities and protocol.”
“Actually, when this one hears your talk, it’s more like listening to civilian.”
“Some of the customs here and in Canada seem to be different.”
“This one wouldn’t like to go back to its old job, just so boring”.
680 clapped in his hands:
“So our free hour is coming to end. This one will bring Maple back to his sleeping quarters.”