“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?”
“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."