CW: Bullying, Violence.
Captain James Remoi had finished his drinks, his cavalier schmoozing, and his otherwise last bits of business aboard Battlestation 13; the I.S.S. Albion to resume on its mission of fighting on strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations to conquer, boldly … yadda yadda… it was all old hat by now. His swagger was that only confidence of experience can bring, especially in halls well known to be filled with knives.
And as he took a turn down one of those bladed corridors towards his docked ship an edge finally sang out, “A shame about your painting.”
“Oh, Johnny-boy! You finally decided to come out of your lab and say hi!” his turn was fluid, comfortable and bold, “You know I had spent all that free time in your lovely station bar just waiting for the chance to see you and it was like we just couldn’t be in the same room together.” Spoken like the true bully he was, happy to be a pain.
John, in his heavy armored vest and white lab coat stood in a shadowed bend of the tight hall, “As another bidder on the piece I was informed of its… unfortunate delivery mishap.”
Captain Remoi nodded, pursing his lips, “I suppose it is possible our little bidding war stepped on a few toes. If I had to guess Lady Varley found a way to snipe it from me out of spite.” Flicking a hand in pompous devil may care gesture he added, “Alas, it’s what I get for trying my hand at something I am not good at.”
“High stakes politicking?”
“Fine art. After all, Johnny-boy, you and I both know paint and paper isn’t my preferred medium to make my art…” his tone deepened, “that would be blood and a battlefield.”
Johnathon redirected, “A shame, I did think it would have looked good on my ship.”
“That’s my ship, Johnny,” Remoi stalked closer, confident, unconcerned. “You had your chance,” he spat the word in almost a whisper, “twice.”
He was so close John couldn’t help but show the disgust and uncomfortably on his face. He turned his head away, “The Albion is mine.”
“Oh what was that?” James reached up quickly and slapped the older man to look at him in the eyes again, “The Albion is yours? Your name isn’t on it, Remoi is, right on that placard on the bridge. You think you are so smart, so clever, but when it comes down to it you can’t use any of that to get what it is you want,” he gave a shove, “because you just aren’t strong enough.
“You know why I bid on that painting? Why I spent all that time, made sure my comms were relayed properly to mine and the Albion so that every time you bid I could take that glimmer of hope away from you?” he waited for a reaction, Traise’s cold wet face was enough of one, “Yeah you do. It was because you wanted it. And because I didn’t want you to have it. And guess what? I don’t care I lost those credits to those pompous auctioneer windbags because in the end, I still win. You don’t get it. You. Will. Never. Get. It.” James pushed him back, one more time to the wall.
“And you know what, this little visit was a lot of fun for me. I am not going to lie, part of the reason I took this assignment was to scout out the 38th for myself and I think there are some opportunities here for a ship that can get things done. And given our successes, and your failures, this week I don’t see any reason why a transfer wouldn’t be accepted. I’ll take a slight career hit from losing all of my old contacts in my current fleet but that’s fair, a small price to pay. Especially if it means I will be able to park the Albion outside your window every night I am at this station to remind you that I am still here.”
John was furious! Did he ever shut up? Did he ever stop to breath? Why, why did this -person- get everything he wanted without trying? Without the work, sacrifices, that he made? And if he would just shut up for a moment-
As if knowing his thoughts Remoi continued, “You’re an idiot, and you will never be enough. All your shallow tricks, all your pedantic plots, your obvious brown-nosing, amount to jack in the end. The Albion will never be yours and I will lord it over you till the day you die.” He threw his arms out to his sides in open victory, “Like I said, I still Wi-!”
John smashed him across the jaw! The roar came after the strike, and James, in his utter confusion fell to the ground as the nerves in his legs gave out. John in his rage knew the first rule about fighting, win, and continued screaming while kicking James’ unprotected ribs.
As he did he started shouting the words, “You pumpus windbag!”
“You insufferable piece of-!”
“You think you are better than me?!”
As John kicked, James was mostly helpless. While an astoundingly good fighter the surprise left him on the ground first, and John was well aware that while he armored his arms and boots for strikes and defense, his core was soft, and currently growing softer.
There were more furious kicks, and an occasional stomp for effect, as John continued his enraged ranting, “The Albion is mine! And if you had shut up for thirty seconds I would have told you how!” He moved to that face, that pretty handsomely scarred face, and tried to break out some teeth. “When you tied the Albion comms to the station system so you could outbid me you made it easier for me to back-hack you!”
“Every bid you made gave me another bit of code to use against you, to rip out of your hands.”
“You think you can protect yourself so well! Hide behind your strength! What good is it now?!” He slapped his chest protector, “You tease me about this vest but you aren’t even smart enough to wear a CUP!”
The noise and scream was, palpable, and as James gasped for air John used his boot heel to roll him prone and then, after tossing off his lab coat, came crashing down - sitting on his chest! He grabbed and tossed James’ knife from his belt, tossing it down the hall and out of safe reach. Pulling out a PADD from the small of his back he lorded it over James face, “Look at this!” He slapped him, “Look at me!” was the roar! “I have everything! Your command codes! Your secure passwords! Your self destruct codes-I HAVE EVERYTHING! The Albion is Mine!” He cross-cut his helpless foe one more time across the face, spat on him, and stood up before delivering another chest stomp.
He then stood, tried to catch some breath, and picked up his coat, but the rage would not subside. “The Crew! I am responsible for saving half of your senior staff’s lives! TWICE!” He was still screaming when he spoke and pointed, slaves coming to investigate the noise quickly found other places to be. “You think they will care when I step aboard that bridge and give my orders?! HELL! They will applaud!” Johnathon Traise turned, fixed his coat, blood from his hands getting on the lapels, and finally slowed his breathing, “They will respect me.”
And then, he felt it first, before James had even spoke, something was wrong. He hadn’t even heard him stand back up, “Are you finished?”
Standing there James Remoi, blood flowing down his face, was grinning like this was just a warm up. After the first strikes there was nothing John could do. In between hits his discourse was far more controlled as he smacked Traise down the hallway, “I am a trained fighter, John. I’ve done the Four F’s with Klingons for God’s sake, they call this foreplay.
"You may have caught me off guard with that sucker punch, which that’s on me, I would give you credit for-” He countered a wide swing and knocked John back to the ground, waiting for him to stand up, “If! If you hadn’t thrown another chance away. After all, Nerd-Rage being what it is is no match for experience and conditioning, but you let me stand back up and that’s your problem.”
James grabbed him by the metal collar of his coat and held him firm, “You had me, John. I was on the ground and you had me. And you did nothing with it. Hell, you said it yourself, you already won by that point. You just didn’t seal the deal and let your rage get the better of you. You get so excited that you got what you want you always forget to follow through.” To make a point, calm and controlled, James punched John repeatedly, mechanically, in the face, with one hand.
He gave his foe a chance to spit out the blood.
“Your problem always was, Johnny, that you like to wait. You are an opportunist. You wait for your chance and then you scramble for it but that can only get you so far, worming your way forward. And do you know why?” There were more punches, “I asked you a question, John.”
He coughed up blood in reply.
“Because when you spend your whole life waiting for an opportunity you aren’t ready to react when one is right there in front of you. You can’t just reach out and take it. Because you’re not ready, your waiting,” He smiled with missing teeth, looking impossibly strong, “Now, are you ready to finish your lesson?”
It didn’t take many more hits after that, after all it was only to prove a point, and when James Remoi let John fall to his knees - then face - he strode over, picked up the PADD and pointed it at John’s crumpled wheezing body, “What did I tell you, John? I win.”
The door to Commander Johnathon G. Traise’s quarters opened, a glowing gateway that his hobbled form limped through. He hadn’t gone to medical, there was no desire to report anything about this failure, and he had his own trusted medical supplies in his room.
As he crossed the main room and called for lights the colors on the wall caught his swollen eyes. There it was, lot #124, hanging in all its glory.
He moved over, bewildered, and read the note attached at the bottom; “The Empire recognizes the strength in each officer simply doing his duty and excelling.”
John looked up at the painting as if it was a mirror, blood in streams cut his face as he remembered his rival’s still fresh words. He grinned, and through bloody teeth promised, “I’m done waiting.”