“So let me go over this,” said Tia, “you just got smuggled into Canada, met with your dad who wants to give you everything you ever wanted, and the first thing you want to do is go back to the States and try and blow up a pirate lord who your mom is in with. Am I missing something here?”
“Nope,” said Jenny.
“Okay then; are you missing something here?”
“What, are you telling me you’d never try and get in touch with your mom if she just disappeared on you?”
“And you guess that she’s going to just come back with you, eh?” Tia asked.
“That’s not answering the question, you know.”
“So what do you want me to say?”
“How about yes or no?” Jenny asked. “Or is there even a choice? When you got honest with me back in Nana’s living room, after you heard what I said, saw how I felt, how could you even ask me if I was serious?”
Tia just stared at Jenny. “I suppose this is the part where you ask me to come with you to Cleveland.”
“What?” Tia asked.
“Why should I ask you? How do I know I can trust you?”
“What? After all this, now you think I can’t be trusted?”
“Well, there is the whole lighter thing,” Jenny said. “I didn’t even know you smoked, and when I saw that I really had to wonder.”
“What, this?” Tia asked as she took it out, the silver rectangle that bounced in front of Jenny’s face back in the bathroom before she was trundled off to her father.
“So can I read it now? I caught some of what was on it back there, and I want to see the whole thing.”
Tia grimaced, and Jenny needed to give it a few tugs to break her grip on it before she could read the engraving surrounding the raised symbol:
A / SALH
A Squadron Sally Horse
“Break On Through, To the Soo”
“So you did fight in the war, huh,” said Jenny. “And out at the Soo Locks, too.”
Tia took back her lighter, and started to take out a cigarette.
“So did you smoke before they gave you that?” Jenny asked. “Or did you pick it up because you got the lighter?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yeah, because it’ll tell me how easily I can get you not to do that if I ask nice.”
Tia glowered at her as she put her cigarette away. “Brat,” she muttered.
“So what did you have to do to get that? I know it was like a big victory for Canada, but did you have to rip open a tank or something?”
“Not quite. Right after the American beachhead got set up, a few teams got inserted to paint the targets.”
“Paint the targets,” Jenny said, trying to hide that she didn’t understand the term.
“Yeah, well, after the Americans lost their drone cover, a few fire teams went in, fast but quiet, with a secure LADAR positioning system as FO.” Tia gave Jenny a quick read and continued, “That’s ‘forward observer,’ which meant I had to go in, take a machine with me to help the air force know where to fire a missile after I told them exactly where a few tank units and their supply depots were. I pointed, what I pointed at went ‘boom,’ and then I ran, okay?”
“Uh-huh-sure…” Jenny muttered.
“And because I and a few from Squad A made the Americans pull back to their side of the Locks and forced them to blow the pontoons to keep the Strath from following them back into Michigan, I got this,” Tia held up her lighter.
“As opposed to a medal?”
“Yeah, they wouldn’t have let me keep mine if they had given me one after I took out the platoon leader.”
“What do you mean, you took him out?”
“Let’s just say he took liberties with his command,” said Tia. “And I might not have decked him for what he said if he had just kept his hands off of my-”
“If he put his hands there, you had every right to!”
“Not according to the bastards running the court martial. He was too well connected, and I didn’t have as many friends as he did to turn to during the hearing.”
“So he got away with doing that to you?”
“Well,” said Tia as she poured another round, “I didn’t cry when he had his accident a few months after the discharge, let’s just say…”
All content Copyright © 2013 James Ryan