Winston Turner was a Terran Confederation officer.
He had a remarkable ability to appear outwardly calm even in times of crisis, like during the counter-terrorist missions. Turner could not cope with the loss of those under his command; he asked for reassignment and never led a combat unit since; still, sometimes he complained about his career being sidetracked, so that he would never become an Admiral or command a capital ship. Something else that might had costed his career would be his outspokenness and too quick and sharp brain.
Turner became a Professor and took Schneid's office where he kept a collection of old books and 2d prints; indeed the feel of his office was more that of a college professor's, rather than military. He also kept a bottle of drink in his drawer, to share with close friends who visited him.
He grew up in the East Coast and as was felt necessary, he enlisted to the Confederation Service Academy at Houston. He was roommate with Spencer Banbridge aka "Skip", 6 years his senior but they became immediately friends. He was always the "brains" and would care tutoring Skip rather than studying; for this reason he got an A- in Naval History, despite being Schneid's favorite student. Skip credits Turner's help for getting through his studies.
He and Skip graduated in 2604. They remained friends in the following 30 years of service. Turner was once the rising star in Special Ops and led the 30 men and women in Marine Commando Six against a terrorist stronghold. He remained calm even when surrounded by a dozen doped-out terrorists screaming that they were going to kill him. In an occasion, Sergeant Ulandi had saved his and Skip's lives. The mission was fateful and he was one of the few survivors. Both he and Skip were secretly awarded the Fleet Cross for saving the planet from the terrorist attack. Despite the glowing reports the loss of the team haunted Winston and asked for transfer out to pursue an academic career and an assignment to teach at the Academy.
Turner was one of the most respected intellectuals in all of the Fleet, always informed with contemporary political and military situations, writing articles in Fleet Proceedings and historical papers which interested the Confed Fleet although he believed that nobody read them. He also wrote training manuals.
In 2622 he participated in the Panama system war games simulation as an observer from the Academy in his capacity as an historian, and recorded the results.
By 2634 he held the rank of Commander. In one of his newest papers he compared historical conditions of military tension (such as the Americans in the Pacific in the 20th century and the tension with the Yan in the 24th century) with the contemporary ones, predicting a war with the Kilrathi. When Bandbridge saw it he put it among the classified.
That year, he met Bandbridge in the Academy at Houston. They commented on Senator Jamison More who was present there, and smiled to Skip provocatively. Turner constrained him, saying that he is baiting him, and could outtalk him in front of the journalists. Bandbridge said that Turner should go, being a scholar. Then they saw that a brave Ensign, Geoffrey Tolwyn, approached him and made complains on his policies.
Concerning the Kilrathi crisis, Bandbridge gave him grade three A security clearance to Fleet Intel. After the ceremony they talked about the old days in his office. For that summer he planned for a research leave, but after studying the memory cube with Joshua Speedwell's report, Skip told said that he needed his brains for a field work, to visit a couple of bases and installations for a personal inspection and to get a feel for things. Then he was put on the inactive list; he would pose to work in black market trading in rare archeological artifacts. Turner complained that he was not the field intel type and that it had been long since his arm qualification, but Skip mentioned his "good blood", making Turner think about his lines about duty, honor, and sacrifice, to the wide-eyed fleggies. They joked that if he got killed, Janet would make Skip's life a hell, but mentioning her name brought an awkward moment of silence among them. Skip offered him Vance Richards and Robert Singh under his command; satisfied with the choice of Vance, the son of their late comrade, as the Fleet takes care of its own, but still troubled about the fate that awaited Ensign Tolwyn, Winston passed Singh forchose him.
Some days later, while his early retirement was announced, he landed on Johnson Island. On 2634.120 he entered the base officer's club where Richards and Tolwyn waited, picked a drink from the bar and approached them. the coincidences made Geoff suspect that he was connected to their mission. He asked Vance's honest and unoffocial thought, who admitted that despite the abilities of the pilots, they are vulnerable to an attack from the Kilrathi at any time. Geoff mentioned the Varni War. Turner feigned scepticism, saying that the Kilrathi remained silent for years. Both Geoff and Vance agreed that they were preparing something.
Vance expressed disappointment about the lack of fighter carriers; Turner dismissed his worries as there are battlewagons and heavy cruisers. Vance unwittingly revealed his knowledge that the battleship admirals consider battles a matter between battleships, something he learned from classified Varni War reports. Turner relaxed him, as many pilots have this interest, and even Joshua Speedwell was interested in recruiting Richards because of his talents. Geoff supported the theory favoring the carriers mentioning the (also classified) reports of the Panama system war games; Turner pointed out that the scenario concerned a theoretical weapon and the Academy doctrine is that only battlewagons can hammer a phase shield. Turner revealed that their job will be exactly to learn whether the Kilrathi have access to such a weapon, within 2 months at the border. Vance was terrified to hear that their mission will be on a Wasp, but Turner didn't offer them good alternatives: Vance would be assigned to a desk job and Geoff would go to some one-man outpost, so far out into the frontier that doesn't even have an official name yet. Replacing his easygoing professorial manner with a frightening, ice-cold edge, he pointed out that the job was highly classified, already cleared by a friend "at the top", but everything should remain between them, for the rest of their careers; if there is a loose word, they will be terminated.
The boys, one being the pilot, the other administrative assistant, both wanted to be the top dog and their antics made Turner tired. . They went to the Hell Hole looking for a pilot of the Landreich. On 2634.170 he saw a vid of a ship that had an encounter with the Kilrathi and returned with a sole survivor, and was being upgraded. He was impressed by the upgrades, and made an appointment with its pilot, giving the name "Jackson". They were waiting for him in the station bar when "Meyer" approached them. Turner was startled to see how young, and also nervous, was the survivor, reminding him of the cadets during the exams. He also detected qualities shared by the best fighter jocks, the ability to stay calm and analytic during a crisis and make the right decision. He noticed that the young pilot was wanted by somebody, especially after learning that vids of his ship were circulating. He said that they should start business as he pilot would prefer to leave the Hell Hole, before his exploits get into wrong hands, such as certain shipping firms that have been inquiring about him.
The pilot realised they are from the Confed Fleet, but Winston said that both sides have their reasons to keep some things. He hired him to guide them in some trade point inside the Kilrathi Empire, for a shipment of Gotherian glasswork. He accepted to pay him 75% of the profits, more than that of the standard consignment contract. As he explained to his officers, he recognised him as the Landreich youth who applied for the Academy many years ago, and regretted that there weren't enough positions for him, despite his good aptitude. Plus, he was young and inexperienced, and a safe choice compared to veteran smugglers who had a grudge against the Fleet, and won't double-cross them on their way.
While leaving, Turner noticed a suspicious move, and pulled a blaster; with surprising speed and gracefulness, he killed a hitman sent by the Sarns, who fell dead by the bar. As 3 witnesses saw that the victim drew weapon first, he called the issue settled by the laws of the Landreich, and gave Geoff 200 to pay for damage and funeral.
- William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, ch. 1
- William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, ch. 2
- William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, ch. 5