This post is a continuation of a story I started earlier. So if you want to read it with the most understanding read the earlier two episodes first.
Jamison didn’t realize he was rising until he felt the firm grip of a hand put him back down in his seat. He heard Johnson’s voice in his ear, “It’s okay, sit back down.”
He glanced around and saw that each of the eight rescued men had someone standing behind them. The one to his right had his hand hovering over his side arm. One of the men who would be sitting beside the captain was slipping a knife into his sleeve. The man behind him touched his shoulder and whispered something.
The knife found its way back to the place setting.
He looked back at Captain Colofer who was making his way toward their table. He was stopping and talking casually to different tables on his way to the front. Finally he approached his chair and hesitated behind it.
He looked slowly around the table, staring at each man long enough to let them to stare back. For Jamison it was immediate. He had been staring at Captain Colofer for some time already.
After rounding the table, he looked back to Jamison and asked, “Did you have something you wanted to say?”
“Begging your pardon sir, but it seems like too much to ask. You are our enemy. I spent over three years strapped to a rock because of you, and I found out yesterday that one of my team was killed by your people. So pardon me but it’s a little too cozy to sit down and have a meal with you.”
Captain Colofer looked at Scott for a long moment. When that was done, with a softer voice he said, “I know all of you have been pushed to your limits and beyond. But your facts are wrong.”
“In regard to the team member you had killed in an attack. It was not done by Kilkians. Our war has been over for thirteen months. The attack on Camp Gamma of the Zilkas Asteroid Belt was just about four months ago according the camp logbooks.”
“Furthermore, what you call a war was hardly a war at all. Your people assumed our intents would be violent the minute you realized we were nearby. It was never our intent to attack your people. All we ever did was defend ourselves by destroying your missiles before they reached us. In the course of the entire conflict we never caused the death of a single colonial citizen. Only five casualties occurred the entire time, not counting our king.”
Jamison wanted to argue for a moment, but everything lined up with what he knew of the start of the conflict prior to his assignment.
Captain Colofer was silent for a moment while the men digested everything they had heard. Then he said, “So can I safely sit down now?”
After asking he looked around the table at each man individually again. The first time he had not noticed it so much, but this time it was giving him the creeps.
As he sat down he said, “In answer to your question, Major Jamison, yes I can read your thoughts. And before we go any further there is one more thing I would like clarify. I am Kilkian; and I am your captain. My name is Captain Charis Colofer. I am female, not male as you have all assumed”
Jamison felt himself squirm a little. It was uncomfortable having someone read your thoughts. He felt a shadow pain in the hand that had been broken, and when he glanced at it, it was shaking.
One of the men on his left spoke hesitantly, “Sorry ma’am, no disrespect was intended.”
She answered, “No apology is necessary. Humans cannot tell male and female Kilkians apart. We can’t do it by what the eye sees either, we can tell by looking into each other’s minds.”
The meal was excellent, the conversation awkward. But slowly the men learned about the event they had all called a war. Eventually the Kilkian king had devised a plan for peace.
That portion of the story was interrupted by the arrival of dessert. Most of the men had barely eaten, not being accustomed to solid food. But the chocolate covered sweet moss broke through their reserve.
When the final spoon was put down. Jamison found her voice inside his head. She said inside his mind, “Go ahead and ask your question, all of these men need to hear the answer.”
Feeling a bit like a puppet on a string, Jamison asked, “Ma’am, if the attack on Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Camp Gamma was not Kilkian, then who was it?”
“Good question, Major. I have told you men about the end of hostilities between the colonies and Kilkians. But you also need to know Kilkians have powerful enemies, the Dibolocos. When you made peace with us, it was an act of war with them.”
Jamison tensed. He felt the unfamiliar food in his gut begin to tumble. He hated being at war. What kind of an enemy is it that Kilkians called powerful.
Once again Colofer gave the men a few minutes to grasp the import of this news. Jamison heard the ringing in his ears grow louder. His mouth went dry. His right eye twitched.