"Him and his furball of a boyfriend tried to rape me!" the human said, hands on the desk and glaring at Jeremy. "Why is that cat sitting here instead of being in prison!"
Jeremy looked at the human, flatly. "Mister Diamond, why don't you sit down."
"I don't want to sit down. I want to know why you haven't taken cared of that!" He pointed to the kelsirian seated before the desk. His fur was lack luster, eyes bloodshot, and he looked like he was going to be sick any moment.
"Mister Diamond, you've just spoken three phrases, and manged to insult me and my people in each one of them. So I recommend that you sit down, before I sit you down myself."
"You?" the surprise on the human's face was genuine. "I didn't insult . . ."
"Sit down!" he didn't want to have to deal with this right now. Only one month in the trip and he already had enough other troubles around the ship, he was regretting agreeing to ferrying those humans.
Mister Diamond was seated.
"Good. Now, don't let the fact that I look like a human mislead you. I am kelsirian. I'm intervening, because you are accusing one of my people of attempted rape, something I won't stand for, but I'm not your ally. Do you have anything to add?"
The human shook his head.
Jeremy looked at the kelsirian. "How are you feeling, Dalfin?" He kept his tone neutral, even if he was hurting at seeing him in such a bad state.
"I'm managing, I'm doing better than Ullallar, but I'm to go back to the medical bay after this."
Jeremy nodded. "Tell me what happened." He raised a hand to prevent the human from speaking, and looked at him. "If you disagree about what he says, you can interject, otherwise, I want you to remain silent, understood?"
The human nodded.
"We met George at the mess. He has a large collection of human vids, and you know how I am about Vids. He invited us back to his quarters so he could show some of them to us. The one we were watching was amusing, but somewhere during it, I don't really remember when, I started feeling, well, amorous. I started nuzzling him, Ullallar must have felt the same, because he had his hands roaming over his body. I don't know why we didn't stop, I swear to you captain, I don't. If Ullallar hadn't fallen over, sick, we would have forced ourselves on him." He put his head in his hands. "Gods, we would have forced him to have sex with us." He looked even more sick.
Jeremy waited for him to continue, but he didn't. He looked at George. "Do you disagree with what he said."
He opened his mouth, but seemed to think better of saying whatever he had planned on. He shook his head.
Jeremy nodded. "I have some questions." He'd read the preliminary report on Ullallar, and he knew they had omitted something. "Did you eat or drink anything while in George's room?"
"We had a few beers," George said, "you know, the regular for watching a movie."
"How many did each of you have?"
"I had one bottle," Dalfin said, "I'd opened a second, but I didn't drink any before . . ." He looked at his feet for a moment, and then back up. "Ullallar finished at least two of them. He might have been partially through a third bottle.
Jeremy looked at George.
"I had two. What does that have to do with what they tried to do to me?" At least he kept his tone civil.
"What kind of beer?"
"It's called High Crown. My cousin makes it."
"What's the alcohol content?" Just a few bottles didn't explain the readings that was in the report.
"Twelve percent," George said.
"What?" Dalfin exclaimed, pushing the chair back as he stood, and then had to lean on the desk to avoid falling over.
"What?" George asked, surprised at the reaction. "It's beer what did you expect? It said it right on the bottle."
"This explains one thing," Jeremy said. "We don't have strong alcohol. At most our drinks have one percent alcohol in them. Consequently, we don't have any tolerance for it. That's why Dalfin and his mate lost control."
"They should have said something," George said, defensively, "it was written on the bottle."
"Do you read kelsirian?" Jeremy asked him.
"What? Of course not."
"Then why are you expecting them to read English?"
"They speak it."
"But they don't read it. I'm the only one who's capable of reading English, here. Now, are you willing to let this go let this go as a loss of control do to an accidental over consumption of alcohol? Or do you want to push this further?"
George looked at Dalfin, then at his feet, and back at Dalfin. "Yeah, I'm okay with this being an accident. I'm really sorry, I didn't know you didn't drink alcohol, or that you'd have such a back reaction to it."
"It isn't because of the alcohol that they're sick. The hops in the beer poisoned them."
George looked at him, eyes wide, mouth open.
"You had no way of knowing, so I'm not accusing you of anything. This is the first time we've been exposed to it, so it's also an accident. Dalfin, go back to the med bay. George, you're free to go, but I don't want you to offer your beer to anyone of my crew, is that understood? If you do, I won't be kind."
George needed before helping Dalfin out.
Jeremy looked behind him, at Korfas, who stood still through all that. "Send a notice to the crew, human alcohol is off limits."
"All of it?"
"Yes. Humans make alcoholic drink for the mind altering effect. They don't have anything that going to be safe for the crew."
"Very well." Korfas continued looking at him.
"Do you drink human alcohol?"
"No," Jeremy said, "human products are banned, remember?"
"Your coffee is a human product," Korfas pointed out.
"Yes, but coffee is worth smuggling in. To answer what I think you really meant, yes I do drink the strong stuff. The ridoshi make something I've grown the enjoy. But I rarely drink it, and only in small quantity. When I've had a really bad day." Jeremy looked at the door. "At this rate I'm going to become addicted to the stuff by the time we reach Paradise," he grumbled.
* * * * *
Jeremy looked at the chiefs sitting around the meeting table. This wasn't how he normally did his meetings, he preferred one on one, but circumstances were calling for something drastic. "Alright, I'm hoping we can make some headway into resolving these problems, because we still have four months to go, and at this rate, I'm starting to worry the ship will fall apart before we get there. Pernic, what's the status of the brig."
"We're at capacity, sir. I've had to increase guard duties to be able to keep the peace, I've even had to borrow some of the hunters, to give my people some relief. The humans are constantly causing troubles."
"All the humans?" Jeremy asked.
"No, our humans are behaving, mostly, I've had to put a few of them in the brig, for getting into fights with the other humans. I don't understand, they're all Leafers, they should be getting along, shouldn't they?"
Thuruk glanced at Jeremy, who ignored it. He would be dealing with that later.
"Humans can be confrontational, and lets remember that quarters are cramped, that's not going to help keep tempers calm."
"I thought humans liked small spaces."
"Only if they're alone in them. What's the reasons for the fights?"
"Over all, it's the humans over drinking, then getting into arguments, which escalate into fights."
"Maybe we should take away the alcohol," Alix commented.
"That's going to make them angry," Jeremy replied, "which is just going to make matters worse."
"I'd have thought they would have drank all of it, by now," Thuruk said.
"You'd have thought. Sayane, can we turn one of the cargo bay into holding cells?"
"Certainly," she answered, "I can probably double the numbers of cell we have, just by using one of the smaller bays."
"Alright. You and Pernic work it out together. Janilan, what is the food status."
"If things continue as they are, not good. Food is disappearing, not that we're eating more than expected, someone is stealing it. The refrigerated storage failing is going to make things worse. We are already getting close to having to ration food."
"We're working on fixing the storage," Retik piped in.
"Janilan, run calculations, and start planing for rationing. Keep in mind that cubs and pregnant females are to be excluded from it. We can't risk their health."
"Thuruk, get some hunters looking into the theft. I know that would normally be your field Pernic, but your people are already being over worked, and we can't afford for those theft to continue."
Both males nodded.
"Retik, what caused the storage to fail?"
"A power relay exploded."
"Exploded?" Jeremy repeated. "How does that happen?"
"An energy spike."
"I've scanned the whole ship," Alix interjected, "there haven't been any spikes that could have blown out a relay." As he finished talking, the lights dimmed and brightened back to normal.
"Can someone cause a specific relay to explode" Thuruk asked.
"Not through the system," Retik replied.
"How about from outside the system?" Jeremy asked. "Can someone manually cause a relay to overload?"
Retik thought for moment. "Yes."
"We have what's needed to make that happen?"
"Xenial, I need you to do a full inventory. Something's going to be missing, I want to know what it is."
"Alix, have you worked out what's causing the power to fluctuate?"
"No, not yet. It shouldn't be happening, the generator is running fine, and not at capacity, but if we don't find the drain, we're going to need the backup to keep up."
"No, the backup stays offline," Jeremy stated.
"Sir, if we don't find the drain, we will run out."
"Then we ration the power, if it gets to that. I don't think it will, but the backup stays offline. That's final. Sayane, how's the ship's structure?"
"That's fine. Seems to be the only thing that's not having troubles."
"I'm not surprised," Jeremy mumbled to himself, but still drew looks from Korfas, seated to his right. "Brafern, how is medical?"
"There's been an increase in minor injuries, the older female answered, "but that's to be expected with the increase in fighting. We have a few theft of medicine, but that's stopped. I think who ever it was, discovered that it didn't work as expected with their biology."
"Alright. Does anyone have anything to add?" shakes of the head all around. "Then we are done." Everyone but him rose. "Thuruk, please stay."
Korfas started sitting again.
"I need you to leave," Jeremy told him.
"Why? I'm suppose to be learning from you."
"I know, but I can't have you here right now."
For a moment it looked like Korfas might argue, but then he left.
Jeremy leaned back in his chair, and ran a hand over his face. "Gods, I need a scotch."
"No. But if I drink one each time I need one, I'm not going to be able to do anything. So, we're both thinking sabotage."
Thuruk nodded. "Even crowded like we are, we shouldn't be having failures like this. They are being manufactured. I just don't know how to find out who is doing it, other than catching them in the act."
"That's what I want to talk to you about. Among our humans, how many of them would you trust with your life?"
"With my life? Maybe a dozen. They're all good people, but those are the only ones I know well enough for that."
"Just twelve? I don't know if we'll be able to do this with only twelve."
"What are you planing?"
"I want to form a human Hunting Squad."
Thuruk's ears folded back. "Train humans to be Hunters? I'm not so certain about that."
"I'm not thinking full training, just make them into a squad, and have them infiltrate the new humans. We can't get close enough to them to find out who is sabotaging my ship, but humans could."
"That's why you want some we can trust."
"I have a few squad leaders under me who've gotten close to our humans, they can probably give me more we can trust with this." Thuruk was silent for a moment. "How do you feel about putting cubs into that squad?"
Jeremy had an immediate reaction against that idea, but he forced it aside. "What do you mean?"
"I've noticed how humans tend to be more open toward cubs, they could help with the infiltration."
Jeremy forced himself to consider it. "How old are you thinking?"
"Around fourteen. Older than that, and human cubs are sometime treated as adults."
"Fourteen," Jeremy whispered. It's wasn't like with their cubs, who at fourteen would already be working on ships, or be in the process of being trained to become hunters. At fourteen, a human cub was still a cub, it would be at least two years before he would even think about doing adult things. "Are you sure? I'm not comfortable with them being that young."
"I might be able to find a few who are older, but look young, but I really think that's the best age. I'm not willing to bring in younger cubs."
"Okay, and you think you'll be able to find enough of them you can trust?"
"With ease. The influx of new humans has caused a lot of frictions between their cubs and ours. Seems one groups thinks it deserves to be treated better, even if they have just arrived."
"Alright, but the moment it looks like things might go wrong, you are pulling them out. I don't want them put in immediate danger."
"Get to it."
Thuruk left, and Jeremy sighed, enjoying the silence. The lights dimmed, and he growled. He left the room, only to find Korfas waiting for him.
"You don't trust me, that's why you didn't want me there."
Jeremy sighed. He didn't want to deal with him right now. He wanted to go find Toom, pull him from what whatever was occupying him, and go to bed. But Korfas deserved an explanation.
"If this had happened four month ago, you would be correct." Jeremy started walking, and Korfas fell in step with him. "To tell you the truth, back then, I didn't think you'd stick with this. I thought you'd realize this isn't for you and focus on something more appropriate." He looked at him. "Now, though, now, I think you're going to make a good captain, eventually, and I do trust you. I didn't include you in the discussion to protect you. What we agreed to do in there might not be entirely legal. If you know the details, you could be held accountable."
"Shouldn't that have been my decision to make?"
"No. A captain's duty is to protect his crew. That doesn't always means keeping them away from danger, sometime, it means keeping them ignorant of what's happening."
"I don't agree," Korfas said, "we know what we are embarking upon when we sign up. We're here to support our captain, to help him however we can."
Jeremy smiled. "You're going to make a very different captain then I am, Yankorfasbernipol, And that is not a slight on you."