If you enjoyed this story, you might also like the author’s 5 book military science fiction Sim War series (written under the name Henry V. O’Neil), starting with Glory Main.
by Vincent H. O’Neil
“You’re not supposed to be doing this, Colonel.”
Dentzler kept his eyes on the low table and pretended he hadn’t heard. “You said her In-Body chip was damaged?”
“When the grenade went off.” Ensign Teel pointed at a spot under the olive-colored draping that covered the broken form on the table. “One piece of shrapnel, penetrating front to back, managed to nick it.”
Dentzler swept the shroud away to reveal a small collection of bare human bones. His large hands gripped the low wall at the table’s edge, and it was a long moment before he spoke. “Well, she was right.”
“About what, sir?”
“The Hoops. They don’t den in the forest. Every piece of data said they did, but she tracked them out into the grassland.”
“She was stubborn that way.”
“The good scouts always are.” The colonel replaced the sheet. “So her In-Body recording is intact?”
“Sir, it is against Force regulations for you—for anybody—to experience In-Body of more than one fatality in a single mission year. And you’ve been doing every one of them.”
“Your objection is noted, Ensign. Thank you. Now is the recording finally ready?”
“It’s been ready for hours, sir.” Defiant eyes locked with his own, and squared shoulders dared him to rebuke her. “The electronics on two of her ‘bot dogs transmitted the whole thing before the Hoop snakes destroyed them.”
Dentzler’s lined face broke into a tight-lipped grin, and he regarded Teel with affection. “Lying to your boss again, Ensign?”
“You’re going to get into big trouble doing this, sir.” She let her features go blank. “And then I’ll have to train a new boss. Hopefully one who’ll listen to good advice.”
“I have to do this, Veronica.” Dentzler’s eyes were on the table again. “I train them. I send them down there. I owe them this when they don’t make it back.”
In a small, darkened room deep inside the ship, Dentzler calmed his thoughts while strapping on the connections to the In-Body chair. The meditation practices he’d learned during his own scout training slowly eased his muscles and smoothed his breathing. Even so, it was impossible to ward off the dread of what was coming, and so he tried to focus on the environment he was about to enter.
The ship was in permanent orbit over Homestead Seven, so named because it was the seventh Earth-like planet discovered. Homestead One had been colonized immediately after its identification a hundred years before, but the introduction of the alien humans had so damaged the ecosystem that it had been abandoned. That experience had generated the Quarantine Protocol, a ten-year period of observation and inspection to determine if a Homestead planet could be colonized at all.
Sophisticated reconnaissance robots, camouflaged to look and act like the planet’s flora and fauna, were slowly introduced over the first three years. After that the scout teams went down, a single human with robotic dogs assigned to walk the land and learn its secrets while interfering with the environment as little as possible. The human scout was ostensibly included to provide direction and analysis that no amount of artificial intelligence could furnish. Dentzler gave out a wry laugh, knowing that the scout was also the human version of the canary in the mineshaft that had once warned of toxic fumes by dying from them.
Pushing that thought away, he took a deep breath and pressed a button on the chair’s arm. Normally one of the ensigns would be at the controls in the attached observation room, but he always left them out when he was breaking the rules this badly. The walls around him vanished, and so did his connection with them. A second of vertigo and darkness, and then he was on Homestead Seven’s surface with all of Scout Felicia Strong’s sensory input. Perfect vision, toned muscles, and not an ounce of the excess weight he’d gained from too much time aboard ship.
Dentzler gasped, as always, and then relaxed into the feed. Ensign Teel routinely cued up In-Body playback at a point where the scout was stationary, and Dentzler recognized Felicia had been conducting a listening halt. The sky was dark, but not full night, and neck-high grass swayed all around with a light breeze that played across his sweat-flecked cheeks. Six ‘bot dogs, so lifelike that Felicia’s left hand had been idly scratching the fur on the closest one, formed a loose oval around her.
She sniffed the air, and Dentzler’s nostrils filled with the scent of roughened grass and disturbed dirt and another aroma that had been identified as Hoop scat. As if reminded of the terrain where the deadly snakes had first been encountered, Felicia turned to look back on her trace. Miles away, the thick woodland was a barely distinguishable border on the horizon.
Dentzler felt it all. The sweat on her light uniform, a blister plaintively calling from her left little toe, dryness in her mouth. Felicia had the heart rate of an endurance athlete, but Dentzler felt its slight elevation just the same. In-Body provided all of the senses but none of the mental processes, and he had to rely on his own long experience to guess what she was thinking.
Danger. Her eyes dropped to the grass, focusing on slight bends and breaks at the bases of certain stalks. The view swept across the tall blades behind them, and then looked ahead. She’d reported signs that the Hoop snakes frequently slithered off into this region, and Dentzler now saw that she’d learned how to track them. He squatted down with her, felt the fingertips brush the dirt and then turn to show that the soil wasn’t packed down the way he’d expected. Felicia’s young eyes spotted the first hole, wide around as her thigh, and her heart thumped just a little harder.
His own scout instincts told him to get out of there, fast, but Felicia Strong didn’t back off from anything. She’d just flipped her goggles to night vision when the dogs alerted. Powerful sensors radiated from their innards, searching all around for motion. They crouched as one, emitting low growls, and then the grass erupted.
The stalks swung madly, as if whipped by a hurricane wind that Felicia didn’t feel, even as she slapped a hatch on the nearest dog and reached for the laser pistol. The grass vanished under a tidal wave assault, and then a hundred bicycle tires were whirling at them, spinning horizontally, incredibly fast. The Hoops got their nickname from their mode of attack, teeth biting their own tails and then surging forward in a spinning mass. Tiny spines in their skins helped propel them by rubbing up against the snakes to either side, and at the moment of contact they simply opened their mouths. Their whipping bodies would rend flesh and smash bone.
The goggles showed volleys of laser lines flicking out from the dogs’ torsos, shearing dozens of the snakes in half. In earlier assaults the dismembered bodies had tangled with the others, but not this time—there were too many of them. Felicia had just powered up the pistol when the wall hit them.
A dog to her right leapt in front of the scything reptiles, saving her even as its fake fur sailed off in chunks along with its mechanical limbs. Another one jumped clear over her, dying the same way, even as mechanical jaws latched onto her harness from behind. Denztler’s vision swam as Felicia was yanked full around and then knocked down, heat and pain rising from her right Achilles tendon where one of the Hoops had struck.
Then his eyes saw nothing but dirt and crushed grass rushing by only inches away and he knew four of the dogs had her by the shoulder straps and her belt. They were running and shooting, lasers firing outward while strong fibers leapt across between them to form an extraction rig beneath her. Felicia’s injured leg bounced on the stretcher and the pain soared into her brain while she forced herself not to cry out. She swiveled her head, seeing the stars and then the endless grass while her nostrils filled with an unbearable stench when the dogs launched stink grenades in their frenzied wake.
Dentzler’s hands gripped the chair’s arms, momentarily pulling him out of the In-Body, but then he made them relax. The mesh supporting Felicia dropped away, telling him the first trail dog had gone down, suddenly a lash struck his right buttock and he felt blood, then only two sets of jaws had him by the shoulders. His knees and boots bounced painfully over the bent stalks for a few yards before the right-hand dog disappeared, and the remaining robot turned in a tight circle and flung him clear before it too was swamped.
Felicia flew through the air, seeing the writhing acreage of charging serpents, the pieces of the ‘bot dogs flying too, just before bouncing off a large rock and rolling into a heap in the grass on the other side. The roaring pain from her leg spoke the awful truth, and she looked up to see the stalks beyond the rock whipping and disappearing. Blood ran freely down her face as she yanked out the grenade, a last-ditch device that sometimes scared off Homestead creatures.
Dentzler’s jaw ached from being clenched so hard, even as he felt his own hand tearing out the safeties and watched with his own eyes as the grenade sailed toward the rock. His mouth dropped open in horror when he heard the unmistakable sound of metal striking stone, and the grenade bounced back through the night air in a curving arc above him.
His arms flew up, instinctively trying to ward off the bomb, and the only thing keeping him from diving for the floor was the chair’s harness. His eyes were tightly shut when the grenade went off.
“Colonel? Wake up, sir.” His mind heard the voice, but his body didn’t want to respond. A hand gently shook him, and Dentzler’s eyes opened. He sat upright with a start.
“It’s okay, sir. You just overslept.” Ensign Lawrence Berger stepped back from the bunk in Dentzler’s cabin, joining Veronica Teel. They were both in uniform, and Dentzler felt naked in his pajamas.
“How much time do I have?” A readout was beside the bunk, but his brain was too fuzzed to look at it.
“Don’t worry, sir.” Teel raised a comforting hand. “We covered your class.”
“My class?” Now he looked at the readout, and almost jumped out of bed. “How many alarms did I sleep through?”
“Really, sir, it’s all right.” Berger caught his arm. “You must have been exhausted. We buzzed you for five minutes, and then had to override the hatch.”
“After you taught my class.” The words came out, harsh and accusing, before Dentzler could stop them.
“It’s not a big deal.” Iron was creeping into Teel’s voice. “We helped you write that whole block of instruction, watched you deliver it—“
“Which of course qualified you to teach route selection to a class of scout trainees, when neither of you has ever even been on a Homestead.”
“Come on, Larry.” Teel’s eyes never left Dentzler’s. “Let’s give the colonel time to fully wake up.”
They went through the hatch, leaving him wondering why he’d said any of those things at all.
The two ensigns watched from the observation room as Dentzler settled into the In-Body chair an hour later. Their commander hadn’t apologized, and so Veronica had shared her idea with Larry.
“He’s not gonna like this.” Larry muttered. “You think he was mad back in his cabin? Just wait.”
“You’ve seen what I’ve seen. The strain is wrecking him. Mood swings, eating too much or too little, and his sleep pattern’s completely shot.”
“Then let’s report it. Get him the help he needs.”
“He’s being ripped apart by guilt. Getting him relieved isn’t going to help that—it may make it worse, taking him away from the scout program.”
“So why doesn’t he just get himself put back on Scout status? Get down there, live it for real instead of watching it.”
“He can’t. He got sick on Homestead Four, years before you and I even thought about joining the Force. He almost died, was in isolation for months, and they never figured out what he caught. He can’t pass whatever it was to other humans, but he’s not allowed to set foot on a Homestead ever again.”
“So your solution is to play amateur psychiatrist?”
“Not me. He’s the one who has to do it.”
Dentzler’s voice entered the small room. “All right, Tanner had a close call with that feral hog pack he was observing. Let’s start with that one.”
“Sir, we’ve got a new one we’d like you to try, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“A new one? What’s that mean?”
“Technological upgrade to In-Body. It’s a different perspective … hard to describe. I’ve got it ready.”
The colonel looked at the window separating them, and then shrugged. “Go ahead.”
The room darkened, and his head swam with the familiar dizziness before his eyes opened down on the planet. The view was slightly blocked by a leafy branch directly over his head, but he hardly noticed because the sensory input was simply wrong. The scout’s body seemed made of paper, as if it weighed nothing. Wind played across his unshod feet, exposed toes grasping damp wood. He looked down in a jerky motion, and almost cried out upon seeing a drop of at least five hundred feet, into a rocky river flowing through a verdant jungle.
And yet the rest of his senses felt nothing amiss. No thumping heartbeat, no surging adrenaline, even when the view dipped yet again and he felt gravity pull his body forward and completely off the branch. Dentzler’s eyes opened almost round as his arms blossomed into wings and his short, clawed feet retracted against taught tail feathers.
A bird. He was a bird. In-Body chips had never been implanted in a Homestead lifeform, but that shocking realization was carried off in his slipstream because he was flying. He was flying. His wings were spread wide, and he’d dropped straight into an updraft that leveled him out and gently rocked his body from side to side. The endless carpet of green disappeared for an instant as his beak reached for the sun, and then he effortlessly swung to the right and was looking at the river again.
Weightless. No muscular strain at all, the air currents holding his wings extended as he turned and slowly descended. His eyesight was beyond good; he picked out all the details of the giant trees and their irregular leaves and glimpses of dark jungle soil. His head moved in a jerky fashion that was at first disorienting, but then he settled into it and recognized what the bird was doing. Scanning, looking right and center and left and up and down, searching for predators as Dentzler himself had done so many times on patrol.
An insect with a tubular body flashed by, and he responded. Wings and tail feathers tucked in, dropping fast, eyes fixed on the target even as Dentzler squirmed in the chair and tried to gauge the up-rushing ground. The insect tried to shake him off at the last second, but a moment’s ruffle of his feathers put the thing in his beak and he swallowed it whole.
It was delicious, but dry. As if reading his thoughts, the bird extended its wings just a bit, slowing, levelling out, flashing over the river so close that Dentzler felt moisture on his belly. Lower, lower, and then the slightest head dip brought a cool, rushing mouthful before he was flapping hard, rising, catching the breeze again and heading up as if sailing straight for the sun.
“—and then I heard this one bird call, right in the middle of all the others, but I knew it was for me.” Dentzler sat across from Veronica in the busy galley, his food untouched. His face was alight, and his hands danced in the air. “It reminded me of the recognition signals we used on patrol, when the different scouts were coming back together at the pickup point.”
“Sounds similar, really.” She offered. “Then what happened?”
“I answered. I mean, the bird answered. And even though the sun was just starting to peak over the horizon, others called back.” His hands stopped moving. “It sat there all night, on that branch, motionless, but not really asleep. I remember that feeling, of being exhausted but also being half-awake because something dangerous was in the area. I guess that species is vulnerable in darkness, because it didn’t make a sound or a move until daylight. And when the others started chirping, it was like they were calling to each other to see if everyone was all right. If they’d made it through the night.”
“That’s the word. Marvelous.” The colonel picked up his fork, and then put it back down. “Who covered my classes?”
“Major Lawton. We knew you’d want a former scout doing it.”
“I’m sorry about what I said earlier.”
“It’s forgotten, sir.”
He nodded. “Where’d you get that recording?”
“There are more of them. That form of In-Body is so new that the feeds are all going into this one databank that anyone with a regular clearance can access.” She lowered her voice even more. “A friend in Collection tipped me off to it.”
“But how did they get the chips into the birds? Not supposed to catch any of the lifeforms.”
“They didn’t. It’s an aerosol containing millions of microscopic sensors. A drone flies over a flock, releases the spray, and they think it’s just a light rain. If enough of the sensors latch onto a bird, they synch up and broadcast for roughly a day.”
“This databank … sounds like we’re not supposed to be touching it.”
“Oh. You’re going to start obeying the rules now, sir?”
“Listen, it’s very important that I view the KIA feed. I was a scout, for a long time, and I catch what the analysts don’t.”
“What’s that mean?”
“You missed the most important part about Felicia’s passing, sir. Even with a big hint.”
“I told you the shrapnel that dinged her chip went through front-to-back, sir. She wasn’t hugging the ground when her grenade went off. You’d know that, if you hadn’t been trying to dive out of your chair.”
“Wait. You watched me?”
“Every time you do a KIA In-Body, I slip into the booth once you’ve engaged the recording.” She let that sink in. “You’ve got to stop doing that, sir. It’s bad enough when people re-live something horrible that actually happened to them, but you’re doing it with someone else’s experiences, experiences you think are your fault. And it’s killing you.”
“Then why don’t you know Felicia aimed for that rock?”
His face tightened, and his mind heard the metallic thunk before the bomb popped up in the night air. “No. She wouldn’t do that.”
“She always went her own way. She was doomed, and knew the Hoops would skin her alive. Even injured, she was such an excellent athlete that she bounced that thing off the stone perfectly. It was two yards away and two yards up when it detonated.” Veronica softened her features. “If you’d still been watching, you’d know she rose to a knee and spread her arms wide.”
They sat in silence for several minutes. Dentzler finally spoke. “You experienced it.”
“I’ve done them all, sir. Every KIA you’ve done.”
“That’s against regulations.” His voice was a whisper, his eyes unfocused.
“I’ll stop when you stop.”
“I have to do it. I … owe it to them.”
“Then I guess I owe it to you.” She stood, lifting her empty food tray. “So if saving your own sanity isn’t a good enough reason to stop, how about saving mine? I might not have ever been a scout, but I helped you train dozens of them. I’m friends with them in a way you can never be, because you’re their boss. And I’m not sure how many more of those recordings I can take.”
She started walking away.
“Ensign.” Veronica turned in place, defiant until seeing his features. “Did you say there were more of those ‘technological upgrade’ recordings?”
Dentzler sat absolutely still in the chair. His lips were parted, but in wonder.
He’d dropped into a new In-Body filled with sensations he recognized. Deep, twisting hunger and mind-numbing fatigue. His beak listlessly tugged and probed the strands in a thin bundle of small twigs and tough vines, and he’d initially believed the bird was searching for food that simply wasn’t there.
Then a tiny, plaintive chirp had sounded from his left and his head turned instantly. His feet gripped the wrapped vegetation, and he hopped across what he now recognized as a carefully woven cord. The air was thin, and he could see far out into a wooded valley. He stopped hopping as he reached a bulging arrangement of straw and leaves, which was suspended in the air like a circular hammock by more wrapping on the other side. Other chirps sounded from near his feet, and he leaned over.
It was a nest. Four blind, impossibly fragile heads were tucked inside, and their shell-like beaks were open and up. His own hunger and tiredness evaporated, and he struggled to hock up a thin drizzle of food for them. Insides emptied, Dentzler stared for a long moment at the mouths that refused to close.
The bird looked all around, first at the valley and then at the lichen-covered cliff face ten yards away. Limbs protruded from the rock as if entire trees were buried inside, and the nest was suspended between two of them. A stab of fear jabbed his core, and then his own hunger returned. With a resigned flutter of wings, the bird launched into dead air.
This time the flight was not fun, and not easy. Overwhelming worry flowed through the bird’s sinews as it flapped and swooped, eyes searching, head jerking back and forth. Instead of riding the air currents until food came into sight, it depleted its already-ebbing strength and alerted its prey by it sudden movements. Even when it spotted an insect in flight or frozen on a limb, its abrupt turns telegraphed the attack and allowed the victim to escape.
He had no idea how long it took, because first the creature had to fill its own empty belly just to keep from falling out of the sky. No relief accompanied the feeding, as its dread continued to grow until the bird was almost frantic. The sky emptied of other flyers, and the sun was starting to set when it madly flapped back to the cliff.
“Awwww. Noooo.” Dentzler moaned in the darkness.
A single claw mark showed on the bark where one side of the nest had been connected, and severed strands still hung from the opposite limb. The bird dived with utter disregard, feathers at the tip of one wing rasping against the cliff as it plummeted. Dentzler thought it was going to dash itself against the green rocks of an outcropping three hundred yards lower, but it turned away at the last second.
Not soon enough to miss the claw marks on the rock where the predator had landed after climbing down for its meal, or to miss the signs of the shattered nest and what little remained of its four occupants.
He didn’t move for the rest of the recording, which went all night. The bird flew back up to where the nest had been, and landed on the rocks. Hopelessly exposed to any hunter that might come along, it folded its wings and stared at the open air between the empty limbs until darkness was complete.
Dentzler understood, and sat with it as the hours passed.
Nocturnal flyers passed by every now and then, and he winced at the sound of their ghostly wings. Hours later something slithered behind him, very close, but kept on going. He couldn’t see anything, and had no idea what was playing in the bird’s head, but decided it was remembering the carnage below and so he focused on that image too.
He was honestly disappointed when the blackness shifted to dark gray, and the trees starting to emit the caws and trills that accompanied morning on this Homestead. The bird’s body, so light, felt made of lead. He was sure his wings wouldn’t even open if he just tilted forward and dived off, and he waited for the bird to do just that.
A familiar call jerked its eyes into focus, and without meaning to he answered it. Thin lines of red started to rise from the forest treetops on the horizon, and more birds joined in. He bitterly answered each one, sure that the bird was saying, “Yes, I survived the night. But I shouldn’t have.”
And so it was with complete shock that Dentzler found his wings fluttering, arranging the feathers, shaking off the doldrums, and then catching the wind as the creature flew away from its vigil. Others just like it rose into the pink dawn light, and when the bird joined them he furiously cut off the transmission.
“Sir? You all right?”
Dentzler looked up, bewildered, to see Veronica standing there. A cold mug of coffee was on the table near his motionless hands, and the galley was empty. The place had been crowded when he sat down.
“No.” He exhaled slowly. “No I guess not.”
Teel sat. “You didn’t replay what happened to Felicia, did you sir?”
“Uh-uh. I went through a few of those bird recordings. It was very peaceful. One of them had a perch in the side of a towering rock where it would just go and … watch things.”
“We really have no explanation for their habits yet. I wonder what that was about.”
“I got to thinking it just wanted to be alone. No reason to believe that, but it’s what I decided.” His voice trailed off, but then he found it again. “The last one was awful. A bird tending a nest full of young. It had to get them food, and while it was gone something came along and killed them.”
“But it wasn’t the worst part. You see, the bird set down and spent the night staring at the spot where the nest had been. It was completely helpless, and I thought it was hoping for the same treatment.”
“Maybe it was just mourning.”
“I hope that wasn’t it. Because when the sun came up it simply flew away. The others called, and it joined them. Like nothing had happened.” His throat muscles tightened, and his head jerked slightly as if warding off a blow. “It just moved on. Like … like they never mattered.”
“It’s a creature of the wild, sir. It can’t just sit there until it feels better—it wouldn’t survive. It had to get moving again.” She raised her eyebrows. “And so do you.”
“So that’s it? Forget all about them? Just ‘get moving’ again and I’ll be fine?”
“Sadly, no. We’re not in the wild.” She stood. “For us, it takes as long as it takes.”
The observation booth was empty when he strapped in again. He’d queued up all of the In-Body recordings from the last few days, and the readout on the chair’s arm indicated that Felicia Strong’s final transmission was waiting. His finger hovered over the button, almost pushed it, but then swept through the catalog of available feeds. He advanced it to a certain spot, took several deep breaths, and then started it.
The sun was just over the horizon, and he was looking at the limb where the ruined nest had hung. He could hear the calls of the flock, and felt the bird shifting its weight forward to lift off.
Dentzler flipped a switch on the chair’s controls, and when the bird flew away he stayed behind. He couldn’t change the view, but he didn’t want to anyway. He watched the creature getting smaller in the air, and noted that it didn’t look back. Once it was gone, the sounds of the forest and the awakening day softened and then went silent because the transmitter had gone out of range.
He gazed at the remaining shards of the hammock that had held the baby birds, and made a dry choking sound in his throat.
“Goodbye.” He whispered. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you.”
“—as you can see from this overhead imagery, the easiest ways to traverse this terrain were identified by the native creatures long ago. They cut paths through the vegetation, and of course you can’t use those without disturbing them. So the terrain that’s left for you to use—”
“—will be forbidding, dangerous, and downright painful.” Colonel Dentzler finished Major Lawton’s sentence as he walked across the classroom’s small stage. Short and wiry, Lawton smiled at him and handed over the laser pointer. Four parallel scars, turned almost white by time, emerged from her hairline and ran to her left ear.
“Good to have you back, sir.” She clapped him on the arm. “Feeling better?”
“Getting there.” He looked out at the twenty young scouts in their seats, and then saw Veronica standing in the classroom observation booth. He cleared his throat and departed from the prepared script.
“Route selection depends on many factors, but it’s important not to force it.” He made eye contact with Veronica. “As a very smart individual once told me, some things … take as long as they take.”
by Phoebe Barton
I saw a lot of myself in these pages — or, at least, a lot of my own habits. Because when some people are in a tough situation, it’s easy to blame myself for that problem existing. Dentzler trained the scouts that went on to die, and so he punishes himself for his own perceived failures by experiencing their last moments, again and again and again, seeking a death he can never achieve.
One thing that really resonated with me here is that survival, and the future, is made possible by birdwatching. It’s not a new idea. Back in ancient Rome, auspexes performed divinations by observing birds in flight. Here, the bird Dentzler links with experiences crushing loss and endures nonetheless, because otherwise there is no future to divine.
It makes me glad that I can see birds flying out of my window. After so much time spent isolated inside my apartment, watching the birds can be a powerful reminder that this is temporary. That it doesn’t have to always be this way. That it’s possible to fly.
Escape Pod is a production of Escape Artists Inc, and is brought to you with a creative commons attribution non-commercial no derivatives license. Don’t change it. Don’t sell it. Do go forth and share it.
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Our opening and closing music is by daikaiju at daikaiju.org.
And our closing quotation this week is from Carl Sagan, who said, “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”
Thanks for listening, and enjoy your auditory adventures through time and space.
About the Author
Vincent H. O’Neil is the Malice Award-winning author of the Frank Cole mystery series from St. Martin’s Press and the military science fiction Sim War series (written as Henry V. O’Neil) from HarperCollins. After graduating from West Point, he served as an infantry officer in the US Army for nine years. He is a graduate of the Army’s Ranger, Airborne, and Jumpmaster courses, and holds a master’s degree in International Affairs from The Fletcher School. His website is www.vincenthoneil.com.