Flanked by his armed escort, Howie entered the base’s main entrance. Had it really been a decade since he had last been here? Much had changed and much had remained. The general outline seemed as familiar as ever, but there appeared to have been new buildings added that he didn’t recognise immediately. Various new departments had clearly been set up for a variety of purposes. Howie noted a brand spanking new office under construction for something called the “Personnel Support Service”. With all the new regs in this day and age, Howie wouldn’t be surprised to find an office dedicated to paperclip standarisation.
Nor did he see any familiar faces. Although, that didn’t really surprise him. When he had left, most of his old Redstar squadmates were gone and had whoever had been left had been absorbed into other squads. In fact, he ventured a guess that anybody who would still remember him would probably be high up in the command structure.
He glanced over at his escort. Clearly, their conversational skills weren’t required for this. Then again, Howie mused, If I had to escort someone claiming to be a dead man, I wouldn’t really want to talk to him much either. He reckoned both of them were younger than he had been when he joined up. In fact, he hadn’t seen a single person around the base over the age of 25, including the various alien races whose age was damn near impossible to determine, even by those most familiar with them.
Must be getting old, he thought.
One of the soldiers stopped at a doorway and swiped his passcard. The door opened and Howie was escorted inside. He was passed on to another officer and led through a winding series of corridors. The young officer was a little more talkative than his enlisted counterparts, but the conversation consisted of trivial matters. The weather, local sports news (of which Howie had no knowledge) and general idle chitchat.
The officer led Howie to a fairly sizable conference room. It was larger and more comfortably furnished than any of the briefing rooms from the old days. He ventured at a guess that he had been led here, as opposed to a single office, because several people wanted to talk to him. And since he hadn’t been sent to the brig, somebody believed him. Or at least was curious enough to want to see for themselves. The officer asked him to just make himself comfortable and that somebody would be along shortly.
Howie sat and waited.