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Random Musings
B7: Knowing the Enemy - Chapter 11 
30th-May-2008 02:38 pm

Rating: Gen
6th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to Memories

 
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Chapter Eleven

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 “What the hell is going on!!!” shouted Argus as he almost flew onto the flight deck by taking the steps at a leap. He immediately landed on two soldiers trying to deck Vila and separated them. He waded in with fists flying, separating the over half dozen fights which were being carried on; knocking heads when required. It was mass bedlam. Cally arrived a step behind and began helping; she tended to use less force and more the locking techniques she had learned in her training sessions from Reya.

Argus and Cally had been escorting the last two soldiers to the flight deck when they heard what sounded like war breaking out. Argus had raced ahead and witnessed all of the soldiers and Vila involved in what could only be described as an old fashioned brawl.

Argus stopped and looked at the chaos; obviously, something else was needed. He bellowed, "STOP!!! EVERYONE STAND TO ATTENTION!" And that includes you!” This last bit was addressed at Vila who was getting up slowly, and holding a hand over an eye that was developing a nice bruise. Faces were flushed and there were sounds of heavy breathing as everyone tried to calm down in the face of Argus’s wrath. Cally stood to the side and stayed out of the way. She tried to gauge the emotional situation. Her impressions had been chaotic and explosive when they approached the flight deck earlier. Now things were starting to settle down as Argus walked up and down the flight deck, looking at all of them with a cold gaze.

There was an air of silent disappointment as he paced, but there was no other expression on his face. Unlike the brawlers, he was very controlled. They all flinched as he walked down the lines of men, taking in their dishevelled and battered conditions.

 “Lieutenant Dain. Stand forward.” Argus spoke calmly and deliberately. The young man gulped and stood forward bravely. He knew that he was in trouble.

Vila, you too.” Though Argus’s voice was not as hard when addressing him, Vila looked nervously left and right, hoping irrationally that someone else would own up to the name. With a pained look on his face, which was not helped by the big bruise darkening his left eye, he stepped forward hesitantly. He actually looked better than some of the other soldiers. His quick-wittedness had prevented it from being worse for himself. The soldiers had all been focused on him at first, but a few well-chosen words had caused them to start fighting each other. Vila had generally been able to stay out of most of the fighting and thought he had handled himself quite otherwise. He had been in trouble a little towards the end when two of the soldiers decided to target him, but fortunately intervention had arrived.

Argus stopped in front of the young lieutenant and faced him as the young man continued staring forward. “Did I, or did I not specify that you were all to come to the flight deck and stand at attention until I arrived?”

“Yes, sir. You did,” the young man replied without hesitation.

“Then explain why my orders were not carried out.”

The young man swallowed nervously. He knew that there was no excuse. “It was my fault, sir.”

“Are you saying that you instigated this fight, lieutenant?” asked Argus.

“No, sir. But I didn’t stop it,” the lieutenant answered.

Argus liked this young man and he knew that part of the problem was not their fault, but in order to maintain control of the situation, this kind of insubordination and breakdown in discipline could not be tolerated. Having a ship full of out-of-control elite soldiers was asking for trouble they could not afford. They still had the encoded information to be dealt with and they might need these soldiers.

Argus looked over the ranks of men and then he said, “Sergeants, stand forward.” Two men stepped up. “You will take these men to cargo bay two. Since you all have an excess of energy, you will all do two hundred push ups and twenty laps around the cargo bay. Each. When you are done, I will decide what to do next. Go.” Argus said dismissively. ““Lieutenant, you stay here. I’m not done with you yet. You will be joining them soon enough.” The two sergeants began marching the men to follow Argus’s orders.

Argus put a hand on Vila’s arm to stop him from following the soldiers out. Vila looked relieved and sat down heavily. He grimaced as he aggravated some of the bruises he had received. The young lieutenant had not moved from where he had been standing at attention.

“Did I say you could sit down?” Argus looked at Vila. Vila sprang up from his seat and grimaced again.

Argus walked between the two of them and then he looked at Cally. She was looking at him curiously. Argus had never used this kind of command tone on the Justice crew before. It was very effective. From an explosive situation, things had calmed down to a level where she was not longer being inundated with strong emotions.

Remember that Vila isn’t one of the soldiers, she projected to him.

Argus started in surprise and stared at her. She had never spoken to him telepathically before but there was no question it had been her voice in his mind.

He nodded in acknowledgement. “I will.”

Argus turned to the young lieutenant. “Well Lieutenant, do you have anything to say?”

“No, sir.”

“Tell me what happened.” Argus’s voice was no longer hard, but neither was it the voice of a friend; it was that of a commander.

“We all came to the flight deck as you ordered, sir. Everything was fine. We were standing at attention. Then something happened.” Dain stopped for a moment as he tried to understand what had happened. It seemed like such a trivial thing now; he found it difficult to explain how something so wrong could have happened over it. His face tensed in concentration. “We were standing. And he was talking.” Dain indicated his head towards Vila. “We weren’t really paying attention. At least I wasn’t. But then he mentioned someone’s name.”

Argus’s lips pursed as his suspicions were confirmed. “Galena.”

Dain turned his head and stared at the Commander. “Yes, sir. You understand?”

“I’m starting to,” said Argus with a tired exhalation of breath. “Go on.”

Even though she could only sense him vaguely, at the mention of Galena’s name, Cally was aware of the emotional landscape change in Dain; and also in Vila. Vila leaned towards them slightly as he listened.

“Well, there’s not much else to explain, sir. Vila was talking about Galena and how he was going to try to see her. He kept going on about her. Something….happened. One instant we were standing at attention and then we were all very interested and we didn't want him to get to Galena first.”

“You tried to stop him?” asked Argus. Now he realized how dangerous the situation had been. He glanced at Vila, other than for the large bruise over his left eye, Vila appeared none the worse for wear. Argus wondered if he should have Cally check him out immediately. He wanted to tell Vila to sit down now but didn’t want to embarrass him.

The lieutenant looked down with shame, “Yes, sir. I know it was wrong. He’s a civilian. We could have really hurt him. I have no excuses.”

Argus thought for a moment. This had to be handled very carefully. “Alright, Lieutenant. I am aware of the problem. It wasn’t all your fault or that of the men. But this kind of breakdown in discipline cannot be tolerated.”

“Understood, sir.” The young man straightened his shoulders.

“Go to cargo bay two and do your push ups. I will join the men there shortly.”

“Yes, sir.” Dain saluted and left.

Argus sighed after Dain left. He said to Vila in a friendlier tone, “Sit down, Vila.”

Vila sat down nervously and slowly.

“How are you feeling?” he asked as Cally got the first aid kit and came over and began to examine Vila. “Let me take a look at that,” she told him.

“Like I was mashed by something very big,” replied Vila, touching the bruise over his eye and grimacing. “Do I have to do two hundred push ups and the laps too?” he asked worriedly.

“Not unless you want to,” said Argus.

“It’s not that I can’t do it, you understand. But with my eye in this condition…” Vila tailed off.

“You might hurt yourself?” asked Argus with light amusement.

Cally opened up the first aid kit and began applying a patch over Vila’s eye. She told him, “Keep this on for four hours. The bone is bruised so it will take longer to heal. Don’t touch it. You should be fine after that.” She turned to Argus, “He’s fine. The pad will take care of it. It's nothing serious.”

“That’s quite amazing considering,” said Argus. “How did you manage it?”

“I’m very good at staying out of trouble,” said Vila.

Some kinds of trouble,” said Argus. "Tell me what happened."



                

Vila's mind went back to the events as he started recounting what happened. He remembered feeling very uncomfortable as the lines of soldiers stared at him. They weren't even facing him, their eyes just followed his every movement. It was very eerie......



"Was it something I said?" asked Vila. He was getting a very bad feeling; his instinct was telling him to get out of there, but he was on duty; he couldn't leave. Vila doubted if Argus would consider being stared at, a valid enough reason for bowing out of flight deck duty.

There was no answer to his question, just lines of "loudly" staring soldiers. He backed up but their eyes just followed. This felt disturbingly familiar. Vila remembered sneaking into a museum as a child and being scared out of his wits. The displays of dead animals and people all seemed to be glaring at him, following him accusingly, just like the soldiers.

This is silly, thought Vila. They're just staring. No harm in that. Is there?

As long as they didn't move.

Argus must have told them to come here and stand like statues. Can't imagine anyone else doing this.

"Now, just stay where you are. You're good boys…I mean men…uh soldiers. I'm sure Commander Argus will be here very soon," emphasized Vila.

He looked at them awhile but other than staring, the lines of soldiers didn't do anything else. Vila let out a held breath and laughed nervously. Nothing to worry about. I'm just scaring myself. Now where was I? Oh yes, Galena. Vila began pacing and thinking again, but this time well away from the lines of soldiers. He was still feeling a bit uneasy and they were still staring at him, but he had more important things to do. He really wanted to see Galena.

 "Maybe I shouldn't ask you to help. You're all busy…staring. Maybe I can get Sester. If he can tear himself away from doing inventory that is. Or maybe Avon. Or maybe not. He'd probably make some snide comment. He's changed these days but I don't think he's decided how much yet. Better not risk it. Argus? Now there's a man who understands about loving a woman; although he does make a lot of mistakes. But he would understand how I feel about Galena."

All eighteen soldiers took a step forward. At the ominous sound, Vila turned around slowly. He almost fell backwards with alarm when he saw that they were now all a step closer and still staring at him. Vila backed up. "Now let's not be hasty. "

The soldiers took another step towards him. Vila stopped moving. “Was it something I said?“ he asked in a nervous but light voice.

One of the soldier said, “Take it back.”

Vila was confused. “I haven’t taken anything. Honest. Not since…well, let’s say not from any of you fine soldiers. If you’re missing something, I can help you look for it. I’m friendly that way. Yes. That’s me, everyone’s friend.” He was trying to sound cheerful and non-threatening.

“You want Galena,” another one of them said.

“Oh.” Vila said, finally understanding. He looked at the soldiers slyly. These were rivals for his Galena. There was no chance of him fighting all of them, or even one of them. What could someone like him do when facing a wall of big burly soldiers who likely could rip him apart with their bare hands? Even Argus seemed on the average side when standing next to them.

Vila said, “It sounds like I’m not the only rival for Galena’s affections. Even if I weren’t in the picture, you can’t share her between the…all of you. Can you?”

The soldiers all looked at each other.

=====

Vila’s account came to an end.

Argus asked incredulously, “You’re the one who started the fight?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it starting a fight exactly,” said Vila defensively. “More like creative self-defence. ”

“Do you know how dangerous that was?” said Argus.

“I thought it might be more dangerous if I didn’t,” replied Vila. He didn’t feel in the least bit sorry that he did. It was them, or him and he had a strong objection to being beaten up.

“And how does your eye feel?” asked Argus sarcastically.

“I didn’t do too badly.”

Argus studied him for a moment and then he said, “No. You didn’t. Alright. Go and get some rest. I’ll cover the rest of your shift.”

After Vila left, Argus said to Cally, “What do you think?”

“It could have been worse,” she told him.

“I know. He’s lucky,” said Argus.

Vila is very good at staying alive. And he’s clever.”

“Not unlike Avon,” said Argus.

Cally smiled, “They do share some common characteristics. That may be why Avon always wanted Vila with him. They are similar in many respects.”

“Unfortunately this talent for survival doesn’t seem to have made him immune to what is happening with the soldiers,” said Argus.

“Or with all of the men on this ship,” clarified Cally.

“I’m not affected,” said Argus.

“Aren’t you? Tell me. What were you and Reya doing for the last few hours?”

Argus coughed and looked embarrassed. “Well, we…uh…”

“Yes, I thought so,” said Cally, trying not to sound amused.

“What about Avon?” said Argus, trying to move off this topic.

“Yes, Avon too.” Cally didn’t want to talk about their activities of the past few hours either. For Avon it had been both a passionate and frustrating time. He had wanted to break the final barrier but had not been able to, no matter now much he tried. This had resulted in Avon becoming angry with himself and then closing himself off. It had taken Cally a long while to convince him that she didn’t mind and that she wasn’t in a hurry. In the end, he had let her in again and they shared a gentle kiss. The stress and struggle had tired him out so she had given him a sedative right before hearing the commotion outside.

“I think we need to talk to Galena,” said Argus. “This can’t be natural. Do we even know if she’s human?”

Cally had been wondering this. “There’s one way to find out.”



Previous Chapter

Chapter Eleven

Next Chapter


Twin Souls
Comments 
30th-May-2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
“There’s one way to find out.”

But killing her to see if she dissolves into green goo isn't it. :~(
30th-May-2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
Anonymous

Cally could was aware of the emotional landscape change in Dain;

Delete "could"?

"loudly" staring soldiers. creative self-defence. wonderful phrases!

the lines of soldiers didn't any do anything

delete "any"?

"Was it something I said?" said Vila
In my English writing classes, it was recommended not to say the same word twice in close proximity. Suggest "asked" or similar.



30th-May-2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
=) Thanks. I was in the middle of changing some of those already but you're quick.

For the last one..."Was it something I said?" said Vila.

I think allowances are made when the words are within quote marks...although in this case I should have used "asked".

Fixed now.
30th-May-2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
OOOh, the sneaky evil progresses. Galena, Galena, what is with you, girl?

I bet it's her chocolate-scented perfume. :^)
30th-May-2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
Finally they realise something funny is going on!

Typo?
He looked at them awhile should there be a space here?

That and you described the two soldiers as "trying to deck Vila" and then had him getting up a few paragraphs down. If Vila was on the floor he had been "decked" or does it have a different meaning in America than it does in Liverpool, where decking refers to someone being floored?
30th-May-2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
"awhile" is fine. It means for a short time.

"deck" does mean the same thing.

The soldiers were "trying to" deck Vila but Argus got there before they could. When Vila gets up later, it is because he had sat down and was now getting up.
30th-May-2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
I'm still betting on Auronar and her kidnappers making her into a [sex] bomb to be rescued.


Remember that Vila isn’t one of the soldiers, she projected to him.
[...]
He nodded in acknowledgement. “I won’t.”


That should either be "Don't forget" or "I will".
30th-May-2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Fixed.
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