Rough Day by David Macfie
Komando-Ka moved quickly after his meeting with Jenny and Jamie. The following morning the team rose at the usual time and reached the meeting area as normal. The commander was already there along with Romalu-Do, Sandaro-Ji, Nunamo-Ge and Tipanapo-Zu. It took Jamie a moment to recall the roles of the four sub-commanders, but he finally remembered – in order, navigation, medicine, communications and operations. The team members filed to their usual seats to find computers at each place. They looked like top of the range laptops and were already open.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome,” began the commander. “At my meeting with Jenny and Jamie yesterday, it was suggested that a change be made to the routine of training that has been proposed. Jamie said that each of you should, immediately, be included into the team that is working in your area of expertise. I have arranged this. Brian and Amy are now part of our medical research team; Peter has joined the engineering team and Gillian the Project Management team; George and Elizabeth are new members of our energy management group and Robert and Laura have joined a newly-structured group that will be responsible for agriculture and environmental management. We didn’t have a climatology team, but we agree that it is necessary. So, it is being created as we speak. Jenny is obviously one of the founder members. Finally, Jamie is now part of our overall Androm Planning and Control management group. The devices in front of you are specific to your new roles. They contain everything you will need to integrate into your teams, including a document with names, a biography and contact details of all other members of your team or group. Communication may be by communicator or via your device. Your devices have all been structured in English, but Jamie has already requested to learn Taurian reading, writing and speaking, so language training will also be integrated into the program. Your individual trainers will assist with this at all times so you will be able to practice any time you wish. Your devices were loaded with the same login details as you used on the ones in your quarters and the ones in your quarters have been uploaded with everything on these devices. Are there any questions?”
“Are there any restrictions on the times we may communicate?” asked Gillian.
“That information is in the contact document that I mentioned and it reflects the personal preferences of the specific individuals.”
“Does it tell us, also, where these individuals are at present?”
“Yes, it does, Jenny.”
“Is there a way we can have conversations, while looking at, say, a machine in a location on Androm at the same time as having a conversation about what we are looking at?” asked Peter.
“All the field workers have video cameras mounted on their safety helmets. These stream constant video coverage to all other members of the relevant team. We can arrange for these to be worn during meetings and presentations as well and we can add video coverage of diagrams and presentations. If required we can do full video conferencing in much the same way as you did on Earth.”
“How did your top management group feel about having an alien in their select gathering?” asked Jamie, with a grin.
“I sense that you are teasing me, Jamie Calhoun. But I must say that, once I told them all about you and your unique abilities and directness, they all seemed rather curious,” replied Komando-Ka, with a hint of a smile in return. “Are there more questions?”
He watched each person shake their heads. Sandaro-Ji stirred himself.
“I have a question for Brian and Amy,” he said. The commander nodded in assent.
“I understand that you are both doctors, but I’m not clear on what experience you have in the area of reproductive issues. Please will you clarify?”
Brian and Amy looked at each other and, by an unspoken agreement, Amy fielded the question.
“We are both gynecologists. We are specialists in the reproductive system in humans. But we have further specialized to focus on reproductive issues and how to treat them or provide interventions to overcome them.”
“Ah, good,” replied the Taurian medic. “Then I would like to meet with you to discuss our situation. I am the leader of the medical research team.” Brian and Amy nodded with a smile.
“I, also, have a question,” said Komando-Ka. “Given the meetings of yesterday and this meeting so far, how are you all feeling about your situation now?”
The humans exchanged glances and an unspoken conversation seemed to take place. Then all nodded to Jamie, who turned to the commander.
“We wish you to know that we had a planning discussion of our own yesterday while you were having the meetings with us two by two. My suggestions, to you, came directly from our planning so they were a consensus between us not my suggestions alone. We wanted to test you and see what the outcome would be. We had worked out that you have been cleverly manipulating us to find out more about the way we would react under certain circumstances and how far you could push us. This meeting shows that you are prepared to treat us as allies rather than prisoners so we welcome it. It makes us all feel much better about the situation.”
Komando-Ka looked nonplussed for a moment, then he burst out laughing. Shortly afterwards he was joined by his four colleagues. When their amusement had run its course, Tipanapo-Zu turned to the commander.
“It seems that we underestimated these humans,” he chuckled. “They show us that we are not as smart as we think we are. I like them and I think they’re right. We must stop playing games and get on with the job.”
“Spoken like a true and pragmatic operations chief,” commented Jamie, dryly. And that set the Taurians off again. Presently the humans joined in the laughter.
“It seems that we all agree,” observed the commander with a satisfied glint in his eye. “Then let’s get busy.”
The newly cemented allies worked tirelessly through the day, breaking only for lunch. They concentrated at first on getting the humans fully up to speed with their new portfolios and the intricacies of their devices. Then each individual focused on familiarizing themselves with the status of work in his or her areas of interest. The Taurians fielded many questions and answered all that they could. Where they couldn’t, they were able to point to the most suitable contact or contacts, who would be able to provide answers. It was a rewarding but very intense and tiring day. Finally, it was time for the day’s physical training and the meeting broke up. Teacher, Number One and Komando-Ka accompanied Jamie, while the others went off to the gym.
Jamie was keyed up. He was pretty sure that Pantando-Ka would try to get a bit of his own back for the humiliation in front of his father and also, because he was a renowned warrior among his own people, he had a point to prove. So this training session in particular would be a real test. The gym that had been created for this training was even bigger than the usual one for the humans. It had a two hundred and fifty meter running track round the outside, a pool in the middle, a section with all kinds of exercise equipment, a combat circuit like the one used for soldiers and finally a square that was clearly for unarmed combat exercises. This last part looked like the area used, on Earth, for karate competitions.
Pantando-Ka was waiting and had obviously been warming up already. The two approached each other and bowed like any martial artists would. Then Pantando-Ka offered his hand and Jamie shook it. The huge Taurian spoke in his own language, looking at Jamie all the time. Number One translated.
“Good afternoon, Jamie Calhoun. Today we will go through a normal session for Taurian elite military officers and men. The routine starts with running, goes to weights and exercise machines, moves to the combat circuit, then to the unarmed combat practice square and, finally, to the pool. As we get to each area, I will explain what you have to do in my language and your instructor will translate and help you to assimilate the Taurian words. We do each exercise at full pace and take no rests. Do you have any questions?”
Jamie shook his head and they moved to the track. Jamie noticed that the commander and Teacher had moved out of the way but were still in the room, watching intently.
“Eight laps of the track,” said the Taurian, quickly translated by Number One.
“Go,” came the command that needed no translation because the Taurian took off like a scalded cat. Jamie was twenty meters behind before he reacted, but then he caught up to within five meters. After that he paced himself to stay at that distance behind. Pantando-Ka was trying to burn him off by setting a rapid pace, but this was one of Jamie’s favorite forms of training so he could have gone faster. He figured that the much bigger athlete would struggle a bit later. He started to see this happening at the end of the sixth lap and moved up on to Pantando-Ka’s shoulder. The Taurian tried to respond but didn’t have anything extra. Jamie maintained his position and the two finished together.
“Why didn’t you beat me?” translated Number One.
“Because we are training together,” replied Jamie. “Next time I will show you how to beat your best time for that exercise. I think you will have things to teach me in the weights section.”
And so it proved. The much bigger Taurian did every weights’ exercise with heavier weights and the same number of repetitions as did Jamie. The difference was directly proportional to the difference in body weights.
“I have a way to go to catch you on these exercises,” he said, through his ever-present translator. Pantando-Ka looked pleased but said nothing. They moved to the combat circuit. The Taurian pointed out the markers that indicated the order of the obstacles and apparatus. Jamie studied the layout looking for places where he might have a bit of an advantage and where he wouldn’t. The course wasn’t much of a surprise because it might have been copied from many that he had done over the years. Overall he felt that his smaller frame and lighter body could be an advantage but the Taurian height of some of the structures would be against him.
“Three circuits when you’re ready,” came the explanation.
“Ready,” he replied and set off. He kept the corner of his eye on the Taurian, studying his every move. He thought he might find some useful information for the combat to come. He noticed that his training partner was solid as a rock on two feet but wobbly on one. He had prodigious strength but was a clumsy climber so, in spite of the height of some of the obstacles, Jamie got over them faster but he lost ground where pure strength was required. In the end his agility and faster leg speed gave him an edge and he gradually gained ground. The Taurian was also visibly tiring, which surprised the human. He wondered if Pantando-Ka had been dodging some of his training while he’d been injured. In the end, Jamie was half a circuit ahead when the third circuit was completed. He waited for the Taurian, who labored to the end then bent over, wheezing for breath.
“I have underestimated you again,” said the Taurian, gasping for breath. “I never dreamt that your training would be as taxing as ours. Even more taxing, judging by your performance here.”
“We pride ourselves on our fitness in the Special Air Service,” replied Jamie. “It’s a survival imperative in most of our missions.”
“Have you seen much combat?” asked Pantando-Ka as the two walked to the square.
“Enough to know what I need to do to have the best chance of living.”
“For us, it is all an academic exercise. We maintain armed forces but haven’t had to use them in ten generations. You show me that we might fare badly if we were to be attacked. I think you could train us better.”
On that note, the two prepared for the combat practice.
“Same rules as before. We try to render each other helpless without doing fatal damage. We will do best of three.”
Jamie nodded and studied his opponent. Nothing had changed. He couldn’t let the bigger male get a hold of him. Today he had seen no weakness that might be exploited so he knew that this would be brutal. And it was. Neither of them expected or gave an inch. Both used every trick they knew. Several times Pantando-Ka managed to get hold of Jamie but never managed to keep him. The agility and experience, learned over many years, always came to his assistance when he needed it the most and he was able to wriggle free. As many times he managed to fell the much larger Taurian, but could never render his opponent helpless. The contest went on far longer than intended for the two were both determined not to be the one to call a halt. Eventually, both were exhausted and sank to their knees.
Komando-Ka approached and ended it. He simply said.
“Never have I witnessed such a contest. Both of you showed things that amazed me. You are warriors in truth and brothers in spirit. I salute you.”
The two got shakily to their feet, straightened up and saluted the commander for his kind words and for the honor he bestowed on both of them. Then with wide smiles and proud bearing they turned and formally bowed to each other.
Truly it had been a rough day, but something unexpected had come out of it.