As the Chiron planet party walked, Woon said, “The first thing we have to do when we get back is find out who left Chiron in what ship, and why!”
O’Bien tightened her jaw and said sidewise to him, “The first thing you’re doing is going to your quarters to write a report on your command choices for the poid fight.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Wood said in a resigned voice.
When they disembarked, Woon slipped away as ordered while the rest of the group joined the waiting Walsh.
“Captain, who left the ship? And how?” The Ambassador asked as greeting.
Walsh nodded. “So, you got wind of that. The privateer showed up! You can read everything in my report.”
Karen nodded. “I’ll read while Woon writes one. I’ll be calling you in when he delivers it, to help me figure out what to do with him.”
“Ma’am?” Walsh asked, a furrow forming on his brow.
Karen sighed. “Later. After his report.”
Sufra seemed frozen in place, looking oddly mortified.
Walsh looked at her quizzically. “Don’t you have a department to run, Dr. Shahal?”
“She was injured,” O’Bien said. “Sufra, get to the hospital.”
Sufra nodded dumbly and took the maglev port labelled EMERGENCY.
Twenty minutes later, O’Bien called Woon on the carpet.
Walsh showed up on time as requested, having read a copy of Woon’s report. On time meant five minutes early, before Woon arrived, giving the Captain a chance to voice his thoughts privately.
“He’s left something out,” Walsh said. His report is all about how irresponsible he was to put a civilian in danger, but I don’t buy it.
I’ve asked Sufra to join us for a few minutes”
She nodded, and on Walsh’s signal, Sufra entered along with Woon..
“Mr. Takahashi, what were you thinking leaving the Ambassador alone with only a vital specialist to guard her?”
“I could tell Sufra was angry, too,” O’Bien said. “She already showed signs of trauma from her previous encounter with the Octopoids. I’m considering gross negligence charges.”
Walsh nodded. “I recommend Mr. Takahashi be relieved of command and confined to quarters until we can review his performance.”
“No! Sufra said.” Walsh and O’Bien looked at her expentantly. “He doesn’t deserve that.”
“Yes, I do,” Woon said quickly. “I’m a man of my word. I accept the consequences of my actions.”
Sufra shook her head. “I’m angry, but not vindictive.” She turned to O’Bien. “He’s right, we weren’t in an excessive amount of danger. Can you trust me on that?”
“I don’t think so,” Walsh said. “You’re a member of my crew, and Mr. Takahashi’s future is in the balance. I demand to know what in the galaxy you’re talking about, miss Shahar!”
“Sufra, please don’t, on my account,” Woon said quickly.
“That’s enough out of you!” Walsh thundered at him.
O’Bien nodded. “Agreed Captain.” She glared at Woon, who snapped to attention.
With a haunted look, Sufra said, “It’s simple, sir. Mr. Takahashi is aware that I can look after myself. I received a lot of hand to hand training all while I was growing up.”
Walsh reminded himself that Sufra’s slight form didn’t negate her statement that she could defend herself. Self defence depended more on skill and technique than muscle mass. Aiming, reflexes, dodging, knowledge of target, and timing were the vital factors. “You’ve mastered martial arts or similar skills?” he asked. “What’s the big deal? Lots of people have.”
“I have,” Sufra said. “The big deal isn’t the skills, it’s that I didn’t want anyone to know.”
“Why not?” O’Bien asked.
“I know why,” Walsh said. “You’d expect her to use those skills.”
“Well, Yes,” the Ambassador agreed. “I went out of my way to choose people who had multiple talents. Those skills are a perfect addition.”
Sufra looked at Walsh, and he nodded at her reassuringly. “Well, she’s on my crew, and being a security officer isn’t part of the job description for my head of computer programming officer.”
O’Bien’s eyebrows rose. “You that in an emergency we shouldn’t make use of every possible resource?”
Walsh sighed. “Ma’am, with all due respect, Aren’t you the one who decided how many security officers to hire?”
O’Bien gave him a dirty look, but said only “I agree Miss Shahar’s health and well being is tantamount to the health of our computers, which we can’t do without. Let’s get back to Woon’s actions, shall we?”
”If I may,” Woon said. “I will of course accept the consequences of my action. But now that Sufra’s secret is out, I think it’s best for all.” He turned to Sufra. “Miss Shahar, what I teach in my classes is much more than how to fight. The basic principles are to learn self defence only, and to learn to do minimum damage to the opponent. Killing is easy. All to easy,” he said, lowering his head. “The real skill is how to use the dangers of the martial arts safely. Are you up to the challenge of training with that in mind?
There was a silence while Sufra thought. “Ok, the Ambassador has a point about using all the skills available. I’ll give it a shot.”
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