"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant."
—Quintus Horatius Flaccus
Sergeant Second Class Kendra Pacelli, UNPF, was looking forward to finally finishing the admin from her deployment to Mtali. The entire experience had been unpleasant, from the tedious, cramped trip there in a military transport, to the tedious, cramped trip back in a military transport. In between, the stay had been mostly boring, very aggravating, and exhausting when it wasn't boring.
She'd been eager at first. The chance to visit another planet, even one torn by war, she found exciting. Upon arriving, they'd all been restricted to base, so she saw nothing of the local culture. They were shipped through the UN starport, and there were not even vendors of local food to sample. Most of the other UN troops, predominantly from Earth, had insisted on not listening to "that raghead crap" music. She'd heard nothing but Earth pop for the entire six months.
Then the long-term troops had resented her for her trip's duration. They had eighteen-month rotations. It wasn't her fault, and she was there to help the Logistic Support Function, thus freeing someone else to go home early, but that didn't seem to matter. Apparently, they'd rather have stood the extra time than have her take a short tour.
There'd been a couple of missile attacks on the base while she was there. She'd been in an orbital station doing admin during one, and the shuttle simply waited until it was over to land. The other one was over before she realized it wasn't a drill, and the damage was negligible. She understood some areas had been pasted daily and had regular body counts, but she was nowhere near those places. She wasn't complaining, but the end result was that she had no war stories of any kind.
It had been typical logistics work; issuing, returning and accounting for gear and filing docs, except that the days were longer, the facilities nonexistent and the entertainment lacking. She wasn't a big fan of vid and the rec center's supply of books and games was slim. She also found few people who could play table games well. All in all, she might just as well have stayed home and not left her dorm.
She had received additional pay and got a tax in-centive, which would mean more records-keeping in exchange to justify the tax return. The rest of the pay came at the cost of, naturally, more admin. Sitting at her carrel, she coded off on her travel itinerary, her waivers for tests and boards missed while deployed and the return of her issued combat equipment. She had been ordered not to open that unless attacked, which she'd found bothersome. The fact that to inspect her gear for safety was deemed wrong because it generated more admin seemed illogical. But then, it was the military.
The thing which she wished she'd put off but had waded through first, was the documentation and her personal statement on missing property. Her personal gear was all accounted for, but literal transport loads of gear had gone "missing" on Mtali. She was a stickler for procedure, so she had accounted for the fact that everything she issued had gotten where it was supposed to. The first sergeant had relayed to her secondhand that some clown was claiming that her attention to detail proved she was involved. "He's just digging. Relax," she'd been told.
She still felt nervous. Trucks, generators, weapons and tools didn't just walk off by themselves. Most required lift gear to move. A rapidly maturing and increasingly cynical part of her surmised that they were being sold by someone in system. Well, if they checked her bank accounts, they were all as she reported. She just wished they'd hurry up and do so and get done with it.
Her musing was interrupted when her phone rang. Not a military line at her carrel, but her personal phone. She dug it out of her purse, wondering who was calling.