The walk from the main faculty building where such hearings as this disciplinary hearing take place was not far from the House Ocelot barracks. A series of buildings which were well build, but in such a way to prepare each student for life on a base. It was mid afternoon, and this meant most everyone would be gathered at the barracks mess for tea. Almost all of them knew today was the final ruling for Jada’s hearing.
Captain Mallard walked with Senia and Jada until they reach the entrance to the barracks grounds. She turned and offered a small salute to the two Vulpine, and began to walk off to her own office when she stopped and looked to Jada.
“For what it’s worth, Private Hawkspur,” she stated in an even voice. “While I understand the consequences and ruling handed down to you, this academy will be poorer now that you will barred from the Air Corps.” She offered a nod and turned, but again stopped and said with a small smile. “And for what it’s worth, if I had been in your shoes, Willinham would have gotten it just as good from me.” She didn’t wait for another word from either Senia or Jada, but just continued on her course.
“Did that sound like an endorsement to you?” Jada asked with her usual smirk.
“Hard to tell,” Senia replied before steering them toward the mess hall. “I guess now it’s time to face a different kind of hearing. No doubt, thanks to our incredible security to keep things quiet, will ensure that everyone knows today was the day for your final ruling.”
“A barrage of questions,” Jada said with a sigh. “I don’t know if I can face that.”
“Voicing frustration,” Senia corrected her. “Just as I did on the second day of your hearing. And they have every right. Of the top pilots, you were number 5. We’re losing a good pilot.”
“You know,” Jada said as she lowered her voice, leaning over to Senia a bit as they walked. “I hope your objections don’t get yourself into trouble.”
“I’ll handle myself,” Senia reassured her. “But the ruling board had to know my feelings. It was no different when Jennings hearing came about, nor when Caliope’s. They were in our top fifteen. I know there’s discipline, but there’s also a loyalty to your house. To your comrades.”
They approached the mess hall in a leisurely walk, as though they were crossing the yard from the barracks like any other day. But, this was different. They could both see into the building, the number of faces looking outside, waiting. “Time to face the music,” Jada said with a sigh.
Inside the mess hall, you could hear a pin drop. It seemed as though every member of House Ocelot was waiting to hear word of the outcome. Someone would have to say something before rumours started. Senia looked to Jada, who only nodded. Jada knew that Senia had to say something, but she also knew Senia would say it in a diplomatic and truthful way.
“If I could have everyone’s attention,” Senia started, speaking in as clear a voice as her speech impediment would allow. “I am certain that you are all waiting to hear the outcome of the hearing. So I’ll announce it here and now, and that way any rumours can end with this announcement. The ruling board has come to the decision that Jada Hawkspur will be stripped of rank and barred from serving aboard any vessel in the Royal Vulpine Armada for a period no less than ten years.” There was a groan of protest that went through the cadets who had gathered. Senia quickly put up a hand for silence, and then continued. “However. Because Jada is so close to graduation, she will continue her studies and once complete, granted a civilian degree. I don’t think that there will be any difficulty for her obtaining that.”
“At least we’ll still have her for our rough ball semi final match,” one young Felanus said with a dejected sigh as he attempted to find some silver lining in this sow’s ear.
“I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, Sparky,” Jada said with some reluctance. It was enough of an admission that Jada had been barred from extracurricular activities, and it sent frustration through the room.
“Everyone!” Senia called out as she held up her hand. When the room settled down once more, Senia looked to the Felanus who made the comment. “Corporal Sparks, if you have something to say…”
“Permission to speak freely,” he asked as he tried to hold back his own anger. Senia nodded and gave him her full attention. “With all due respect, this is complete bollocks. Jada was one of our best. And to be honest, I was there when Willy said what he said. He deserved getting a slap across the jaw.” He grumbled slightly and took a deep breath before he finished. “And to top it all off, we’ve lost one of our best strikers.”
“I’m glad that I rank so highly for a match of rough ball,” Jada said with her usual laugh. “But, I appreciate the sentiment, Sparky.”
The group began talking among themselves once again, and Senia began to realize there was something that they could still do for Jada at the very least. “I think,” Senia called out over the other voices, letting them know she had something to say to each of them. “There is still something we can do. It’s not protocol, but in this instance, protocol be damned. It’s tradition for each cadet to be given a send off dinner. And as Jada ranked so highly in squadron and pilot tests,” she said and looked to Sparky. “And as her position as striker on the house rough ball team.” That brought about a small chuckle throughout the room. “But I think Jada has at least garnered the respect of all of us to deserve at least that. Perhaps you could arrange something, Corporal Sparks. Off base, that is.”
“We can probably contact one of the restaurants in the village proper,” he suggested. “Maybe in a week. After the semi final.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Senia remarked with a smile and nodded to Sparky, then looked to Jada. The suggestion was good enough to bring spirits up with the group for the time being at least. Senia then looked around the room for a moment, suddenly taking note of two people that were missing. “Sparky,” she said as she moved over to the aforementioned Felanus. “Have you seen either Hardy or Clarfax?”
“Um… Hardy couldn’t stand waiting around,” he informed Senia. “So she went off to the motor pool to see if there might be something she could do.”
“Like forget her troubles and worries in an engine block,” Senia said with a sigh as Sparky nodded in agreement. “And Clarfax?”
“Last I heard, he was taking in the guest lecture this afternoon,” Sparky replied as he shrugged his shoulders. “Colonel Tyrell had invited Professor Bellton to speak on quantum mechanics. Last minute booking from what I’ve heard.” He scratched behind his ear for a moment before adding. “I could go find them if you want.”
“No, thank you though, Sparky,” Senia replied. “You’ll have your work cut out for you getting this dinner ready. And try to keep it quiet, we don’t need the faculty hearing about it. As far as anyone should know, it’s just a celebratory dinner, after the semi final.” Sparky nodded quickly and turned around in his chair to start jotting down some notes. Jada had slid up beside Senia and nudged her lightly.
“Good way to turn a negative into a positive,” she said with a smile.
“You’re my best friend,” Senia said in a low voice. “I’m not letting you off this base without at least a good send off to remember us all by.” She sighed, still feeling the weight of the day on her shoulders. “Keep an eye on Sparky, would you? Reel him in if you have to, I know he gets overly excited about assignments, no matter what scale.”
“And just what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to find Hardy,” Senia replied with a shrug. “See if I can get her to pull herself away from an engine block long enough to tell her the news.”