The Green Room
(2008) No infringement upon the rightful owners of "Combat!" and the characters thereof, is intended. Any resemblance between real people and the characters in this story is purely coincidental and no insult is intended. This piece of fan fiction is for enjoyment only, and in no way will the author gain monetary profit from its existence.
by White Queen
Hanley entered the deserted Green Room from the barracks. Wearing a natty smoking jacket, he bore a thick leather-bound book and a decanter from his secret stash of brandy. He poured himself a snifterful of the liquor, reclined on the couch, and set the decanter on the floor within easy reach. Hanley took a sip, closed his eyes appreciatively for a moment, then opened his book. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." he intoned, savoring the words almost as much as the brandy.
The rest of Dickens' immortal story would have to wait, however, for Hanley's relaxing afternoon died an early and painful death when the Green Room door burst open with such force that it banged against the wall and rebounded toward a glowering Kirby.
Hanley carefully set his brandy snifter on the floor and raised his eyebrows. "Back so soon?" he inquired.
"The raid got canceled." Kirby stomped into the room, closely followed by Littlejohn, Billy, Caje, and Doc. Their expressions mirrored Kirby's. Doc actually slammed the door shut behind them.
"Inclement weather?" asked Hanley.
"Inclement authors," Billy said.
"What?" Hanley frowned. He must have heard wrong. "White Queen and Thompson Girl didn't want to go raiding up and down the Barbary Coast, looking for OCs to shanghai?"
Caje said, "Thompson Girl's gearing up for NaNoWriMo and doesn't have time. She borrowed Andrews' boat to get away and have some quiet time to think."
Kirby nodded. "She left us high and dry."
Hanley tried not to smile. "I might have guessed. Too bad your sailing plans got canceled, but at least you know you've got all of November to do whatever you please."
Doc said, "Hah!"
Kirby said, "Know what 'fat chance' means?"
Billy said, "We wish!"
Hanley's eyebrows puckered. "Don't you remember? November's our time off! White Queen and Thompson Girl do NaNoWriMo and the other authors start getting too busy with holidays to write much. And it's too early for them to get busy on their zine stories, so--"
Kirby cut him off. "Yeah, that's how it used to be."
"Used to be?" Hanley sat up and set his book aside. "Did they move up a zine deadline suddenly?"
Billy took off his cute little sailor's hat and balled it up in his fist. "No. Worse."
Hanley's eyes widened. "I think you'd better tell me."
Littlejohn said, "White Queen's writing fanfiction for NaNoWriMo this year."
"Fifty-thousand words!" Doc moaned.
Hanley began to smile. "She's writing a Combat! novel?" It was true that he and White Queen hadn't exactly seen eye-to-eye in the past, but if she was writing a whole novel, she'd surely give him a nice role. He was one of the main stars, after all.
"Not a novel," Caje said. "Just a bunch of short stories that add up to fifty thousand words."
"And guess what she's calling them as a whole." Kirby folded his arms. "Saunders Saves the Day."
Hanley's smile faded. "Well, we might have expected that. But cheer up -- that means you won't be nearly as busy as Saunders."
"Yeah," Billy said, "but if he's saving the day, that means someone has to be in trouble so he can save them, doesn't it?"
Kirby gestured to everyone in the room. "So we get to spend all month trapped in caves or locked in prison camps or mauled by wolves, or whatever she's got dreamed up."
Hanley nodded. "I see your point." He was beginning to wish he'd been a teensy bit more cooperative during the writing of "Ashes, Ashes." Writer's Revenge could get messy.
Just then, the door opened again. In walked a brunette wearing a nurse's uniform. "Hi, fellas," she said. "Anyone know where the OCs are supposed to bunk?"
Hanley recovered his power of speech faster than any of the others. "Aren't you Patricia Neal?" he asked.
Patricia Neal grinned. "That's right. White Queen's tapped me for a role in a story she's writing next month." She looked him up and down appreciatively. "And who might you be?"
Hanley held out his hand. "Lieutenant Hanley, at your service." Maybe November wouldn't be such a bad month after all.