Kila’s announce went off, interrupting his conversation with himself. He bared his teeth at the closed door before answering in a polite tone. “Identify.”
“It’s Chief Engineer Lokmi, Captain.”
Kila rolled his eyes at the ceiling. Ancestors help me. Speaking of Imdikos with control issues. “Enter.”
Lokmi stepped in, coming right to the opposite side of Kila’s desk before bowing. He looked shipshape, his uniform without a wrinkle, his hair tied back in neat braid. He was a pain in the ass, but he always looked good. Tasty, even. Kila wondered what he looked like naked.
The Nobek realized he was still aroused from thinking about Piras, and it was feeding into salacious thoughts about a man he’d only fuck as a punishment. Fortunately, his desk hid the evidence from Lokmi. In a gruff tone, he asked, “What do you want, Chief?”
He granted Kila a polite smile. “Greetings, Captain. May I inquire as to your mood this afternoon?”
“Shitty. You couldn’t have picked a worse time to irritate me.” That the man had shown up and acted so pleasant told Kila he was about to do just that. Lokmi looked like he was in far too good a mood to make things better for his captain.
“Just my luck to catch you in a temper.” The exaggerated sigh only underscored Lokmi’s good humor.
Kila rubbed his forehead. “What do you want to do to my engines now, you merciless bastard?”
“It’s not what I want to do with my engines. It’s what I’ve already done.”
Kila jumped up and glared. “Son of a bitch! I told you we’d have it out if you played around without my permission.”
Lokmi, damn his sorry hide, didn’t flinch. “Yes, Captain. You did tell me that. I ignored you with good reason.”
Kila seethed. “There is no good reason. None. You will be disciplined this time. So tell me why I’m about to pound you into next week?”
“I stole another second of your precious boost. You still have five seconds’ worth that I swear on my mother’s name I will not touch.”
“Yes, Captain. I’ve never claimed otherwise.”
Kila was already planning how to best dish out the pain his chief engineer had coming. Yet he was curious to know what Lokmi had been up to. “What does this second of lost speed get me?”
“Traction repel.” The Imdiko was damned near gloating with pleasure. “You remember how I pointed out that the shielding suffers during your speed burst? That hunter-killers could conceivably grab hold of the ship in a traction field? Now they can’t. I thought there was no way around the problem, but I found it. An exterior anti-grav pulse, tied directly into the boost!”
Kila was impressed with Lokmi’s elegant solution, but he didn’t want to admit it. He was at the point where he wanted to beat on someone. He needed a release for the pent-up frustration brought on by Piras’s baggage and Lokmi’s insistence on fucking around with his engines.
He growled, “There was damned little chance Bi’isils would be able to react fast enough to snag us with a traction field.”
“Little chance is still a chance. I’ve eradicated that.” Lokmi refused to be deterred from the delight of his accomplishment. He damned near glowed with joy.
“Fine. Keep it. But I still owe you discipline for doing it without my blessing.”
The Imdiko shrugged. “Shall I stand stoic and take it, or would you like me to fight back?”
Kila eyed the insolent Lokmi. Damn, he’d like to knock him down. Beat him to the ground and then pound him in a different fashion. Already his cocks grew heavy at the idea of fighting and fucking.
He flashed his blood-freezing, ferocious grin. “Let’s see what you’ve got, dual-breed. Any training besides basic combat? Your file mentioned martial arts.”
Lokmi looked delighted, the crazy bastard. “I’m an odikan. Master level.”
“I’ve never faced someone using that discipline before. It uses your opponent’s weaknesses against him, right?”
“That’s part of it. It demands calm and control, which is why most Nobeks aren’t familiar with the practice.”
Kila was intrigued. What mistakes in his fighting style would Lokmi find to exploit? “I look forward to seeing how effective odikan is against a pissed-off Nobek captain. Prepare yourself, Chief.”
Lokmi nodded. His grin was replaced by serene concentration as he bladed his body and crouched. He kept his face towards Kila as the captain came around the desk, watching him carefully.
Kila took his time, eyeing Lokmi’s stance, the watchfulness of his gaze, the ease of his movements as they circled each other. Since Lokmi’s fighting style relied on reacting to an opponent, it would be up to the Nobek to make the first move. Already that put Kila at a disadvantage. Lokmi wouldn’t give up any of his limitations until after the combat began.
So be it. He had measured his foe as best he could. It was time to see if he could beat him.
Just as Kila was about to lunge at Lokmi, the door announce went off. Kila bared his teeth and shouted, “I’m busy, damn it all. Fuck off!”
A cold voice entered the room. “I think you’d better rephrase your welcome, Captain Kila.”
The Nobek froze to hear the clipped tone. Lokmi went still as well, catching the Kila’s mood. He whispered, “Who is it, Captain?”
Kila straightened from his fight crouch and whispered back, “Bloody damned Rear Admiral Piras.” He thought of adding, the man I screwed the living hell out of last night. The man I pissed the fuck off this morning to the point where he wanted to kill me.
Releasing December 16