He didn’t bother with that tiny cubicle. Instead, he went straight to the bank of podium-style computer stations in the middle of the machinery. Kila ignored the sound of someone moving about behind him, not wanting any interruption as he contemplated his lovely engines. He brought up the day’s diagnostics and maintenance notes and looked them over in hopes of finding something he could tweak.
He found something, all right. Kila’s fists clenched as he noted the work that had been done on his accelerators. The boosts had been downgraded.
That son of a bitch. That fucking chief engineer. I’ll mangle him.
Kila whirled around, looking for any underling he could scream at. He discovered someone standing several feet away behind him, watching him. Chief Engineer Asshole Lokmi himself.
The idiot didn’t have the good sense to fall over himself with the apologies that should be streaming from his lips. He didn’t even have the terrible sense to attempt a retreat. Instead he stood there stoic as a statue, watching Kila with mild interest. He did remember protocol enough to dip a respectful bow to his captain, but his gaze never wavered.
A sense of unwelcome respect stole over Kila, dulling the urge to rip Lokmi’s throat out. Instead, he growled, “You fucked with my engines.”
Lokmi’s brow rose. “I put my engines within acceptable parameters. Captain.”
Was the bastard actually amused? Kila would change that quick enough. He stalked towards him, all fearsome Nobek. Damn the man’s hide, the chief engineer watched him come with no change in expression. No hint he’d like to take to his heels to escape the coming doom.
Fine. Kila would be more than happy to teach the dual-breed to obey his captain, or he could follow his predecessors by getting the fuck off Kila’s ship.
“I gave you an order to leave my modifications alone. You disobeyed that order. You are subject to discipline, and I do not hold back with punishments.” The vicious smile that struck such fear in the hearts of those more intelligent than Lokmi spread over Kila’s face. Maybe he didn’t indulge in random fights to bleed off his tensions, but Kila had no problem in meting out the painful penalties his commission allowed for.
Lokmi finally rewarded him with a slight flinch. Very slight, but it was there. Yet the Imdiko’s chin lifted in defiance, and he still gave no ground though Kila’s face was only inches from his. “Article four-seven-point-two of fleet regulations: the chief engineer will use his expertise to maintain his craft’s integrity in non-emergency situations to the best of his abilities, even if commanded otherwise by his superior officer.”
“The last fool to quote regulations to me ended up with a mouthful of broken teeth.” Yes, messing up Lokmi’s attractive face would be a nice start to the festivities.
“You may be the captain, but I have no problem with fighting back if I feel I’m in the right. And in this case, I am damned well right. Sir.”
The man spoke in the forceful tones of a Dramok. For a split second, he even sounded like Piras – Piras the admiral, not Piras the lover. Lokmi’s eyes had taken on the cold, severe light of a leader expecting to be obeyed.
The respect Kila had felt turned into admiration. He might get his fight after all. The prospect of a knock-down-drag-out made him feel happy again.