This is a scene from a novel I'm currently working on:
Carl Grant had arrived on Freya and checked into a hotel in one of the suburbs of Landfall.. But he had to wait a full local day for the scheduled meeting with the defense secretary as all local government offices were closed on what would have been a normal business day.
Why was this?
Grant left the hotel early for the meeting and hailed one of the taxicabs waiting at the cab stand. It was a Ford Galaxy sedan that had seen service as a police car and was now painted in the company colors of red and white. The driver appeared to be entering middle age with glasses, a mustache, and a fringe of blond hair. And he wore his old style M1911A1 in a shoulder holster.
The driver asked a question.
“Where to, sir?”
“The Planetary Government Center in Landfall.”
“There are multiple buildings on the site,” said the driver, “so what department are you visiting?”
“The Department of Planetary Security.”
The driver switched on the meter and electric motors hummed as the cab pulled away from the hotel. But something about the way the driver responded to him seemed a bit odd to Grant. It was as if he were speaking with a long term veteran soldier.
“Is there a problem?” He asked the driver.
“No sir, it’s just that the Founders wanted to call it the War Department, but the groundhogs wouldn’t allow it.”
“The Federation authorities?”
“Yes.” The driver replied.
And then the driver asked his own question.
“Are you a writer, sir?”
“Yes.” He replied. “Of military theory for the most part, of works such as On War by Clausewitz.”
The driver’s response was a surprise to him.
“Vom Kriege by General Karl Maria Von Clausewitz.” He said. “I tried several times to read the complete Standard English edition and the damned thing always put me to sleep.”
“Well military theory is not for everyone.” Grant curtly replied.
The driver quickly and clearly responded.
“The thing is that Clausewitz began to write at a time when Kant was barely cold in the ground and Hegel had just started his emissions. At that time the intellectual culture in Germany was already in deep trouble with clarity and brevity already going out of style.
Grant had not expected a lecture on intellectual history from a common working man.
But he responded.
“I wrote a book on military doctrine titled Future Forces: Organization and Doctrine.”
“I’ve read it.” Said the driver.
“So how do you feel about it?”
“I think Colonel Simmons wrote a fairly good review of it. He clearly understood how the citizens out here on the colony worlds would respond to an invasion by your Future Force but didn’t explain the why...”
The driver solidly interrupted the sneer
“I served with him when he was a battalion commander in Afghanistan--and we don’t give out Sky Blue Berets as supermarket promotional items--even to West Point graduates.”
“So you were in the Quarantine Force and then retired out here?”
“No.” The driver replied. “I enlisted here and served on Earth.”
The driver smiled before answering.
“Because that’s where the enemy combatants are.”
Grant thought for a moment and then spoke again.
“So you feel that the Quarantine Force are all true warriors?”
“Hell no!’ The driver suddenly snapped back. “The goal of every warrior is to impose his will upon his victims. And our mission in the Quarantine Force is to hunt down and kill warriors.”
Present tense. Grant thought. He spoke with hostility in the present tense.
Grant was now concerned for his own safety.
Is there a round in the chamber of his gun?
The cab then entered the main drive of the Planetary Government Center and stopped at the DPS Building. Grant paid the fare in cash and without a gratuity.