The inner chambers of the board were rather spartan. A simple desk where three colonels sat, each with paper work and data pads in front of them. A console computer off to one side, recording everything that went on during the proceedings. Two clerks who would quickly do background checks for information for the three colonels. And two guards at the entrance of the room, who stood at the ready as though they were part of a parade procession. Large windows allow light into the room, as the sunlight shone onto the hardwood floors. Everything seemed to echo in this room, the loudest sound, however, came from a clock that hung on the wall just above the entrance.
Senia took her seat in one of those uncomfortable auditorium chairs, behind a utilitarian desk. Captain Mallard joined her, taking her own seat to Senia’s left. It was Vulpine law that for any hearing, no matter how small, those who would be questioned would always have a representative. In the mahy years Captain Mallard had served at the school, she had always acted in such a capacity. Many said it was because she had some compassion, but also had an air of diplomacy about her.
“Left-tenant Felix,” one of the colonels spoke up as he looked over the data pad once more. He was an older Vulpine, and from what the students knew of him, he was a stickler for tradition. “This hearing is merely being held to clarify a few points,” he continued as he looked up and took off his glasses. “We merely wish to ask you a few questions regarding Private Hawkspur and that is all. Do you understand?”
“I understand completely, sir,” she replied in a bold voice, but trying to keep her lisp to a minimum.
“Very good,” the colonel said with a nod, satisfied with Senia’s answer. “You know Private Hawkspur quite well, I understand.”
“Yes, sir. Very well.”
“Do you consider her one of your trusted friends?” he asked as he put down his data pad.
“Yes sir, I do,” Senia stated with a firm nod. “We have been best friends since we were accepted to the Academy.”
“And during the time you have known Private Hawkspur, have you ever attempted to mislead anyone regarding her grading and evaluation?” The question came as a surprise. Senia believed this to be merely a formality for final questioning before the ruling was handed down.
“Never, sir,” Senia replied after some hesitation. “I have treated Private Hawkspur like any other in House Ocelot. And, if I may, sir, I am most certain the board knows that I have a close friendship with Corporal Hardy Maynard, Corporal Clarfax Billings and Left-tenant Philburt Collinsworth.”
“Yes, Left-tenant,” one of the other colonels spoke up, waving a dismissive hand. “The difference being that none of the others you mentioned have ever slugged a superior officer in the jaw.” She sighed openly and picked up her own data pad. “I believe there is really only one question which remains, Left-tenant. What is your own recommendation for what punishment be handed down to Private Hawkspur.”
Senia took a deep breath, remembering the words Jada said in the hallway. Speak the truth. “There is no precedent for her actions. The ruling itself should be clear. Private Hawkspur should be stripped of rank, and discharged.” The colonels all nodded, satisfied with Senia’s answer. “However,” she said, catching the board off guard. “It should be noted that in the long history of this establishment, an occurrence like this has happened 283 times. In 200 of those cases, the incident occurred toward the beginning of the students education. The remaining cases happened toward the end of their six years. They were allowed to continue on to graduation, where they were given a civilian degree. If the board so wishes, I also recommend that Private Hawkspur be allowed to finish her final year.”
The three colonels sat back in their chairs and muttered among themselves for a few moments. Senia had done something many others would never do in a situation like this. Tactfully, she brought up past cases, showing that there was precedent for Jada to remain until she graduated; albeit in a civilian capacity.
“Very well,” one of the colonels spoke up and motioned to the guards. “Please let Private Hawkspur in.” One of the guards quickly saluted and left the room to carry out his orders. It was only a few seconds, as he returned followed quickly by Jada. She came to the same desk where Captain Mallard and Senia sat and stood on Captain Mallard’s left side. Both Mallard and Senia rose to their feet, knowing that now was the moment the board would officially hand down their ruling.
“Private Jada Hawkspur,” the chair said as he rose to his feet. “It is with great disappointment that I must do this, considering that you were ranked quite high in your house and in the school proper. Private Hawkspur, you will be stripped of rank. You will be barred from service on board any vessel within the jurisdiction of the Royal Vulpine Armada. That includes space faring craft as well as sea faring vessels.” The colonel picked up his data pad and punched in a few keys. “However, let it be known for the record that this Academy does not shrug off a student’s education lightly. You will be allowed to graduate and given a civilian degree in your chosen field. Do you understand the ruling of this board?”
“Yes sir, I do,” Jada replied quickly with a firm nod.
“You will have opportunity to appeal, should you so wish,” the colonel added with some caution. “However, as you are most likely aware, appeals take time.”
“Understood, sir,” Jada replied. “I have thought it over, and have felt that whatever decision the board came to, I would accept it. I will not be seeking appeal.”
“Very well,” the colonel said as he took his seat and picked up his gavel. “I declare this hearing officially complete.”