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  1. Da Bomb Amanda Davis, MD, PhD Chirakis, Kirel, Captain Kirel stood outside security’s conference room glaring at the surveillance monitor. Three children whose feet barely reached the floor sat at the conference table. Two security guards stood by. Bits of chatter came through now and then, but for the most part the children were sullenly quiet, and for good reason. Kirel watched and waited for her temper to subside. She had just dealt with Ensign Jackson. He was extremely qualified for his position, but at the age of 17 he lacked maturity— especially when it came to the opposite sex. In his distraction to the unusual beauty of a new ensign, he had put the station at risk. Kirel had restrained her anger then. Barely. Would she be able to restrain her anger with these children? Since she was coming very close to slamming a fist through the titanium wall (which was impossible), she decided the answer was no. She would wait for Doctor Davis, the crew's counselor and psychiatrist. It all began with a requisition that made no sense: fifty bottles of a substance that did not exist. A typo? A glitch in the system? OPS sent it back for clarification, and it was returned with an apology, along with a scribbled note saying that they meant fifty jars of hydrochloric acid to make a bomb. Security was on it immediately, and it didn’t take them long to find the culprits: three children ages 10 and 11. The school science lab, closed for the weekend, was about to be bomb central for a science project. The children did not realize that they were going to put their lives, and the lives of anyone within range, in danger. So yes, Kirel was ready to pound some sense into those three small young ones. However, less-than-subtle correction was generally frowned upon. Suddenly the monitor's com exploded with, “Did not!” “Did too!” “Did not!!!” “Did TOO!” Did not, DID not, DID NOT!!!” “DID TOO, DID TOO, DID TOO!!!” Then two children went nose to nose, shouting and name-calling that quickly deteriorated into a full-blown ruckus. The security guards eventually separated them. Thankfully, one was a father. He sat the instigator in a corner until the boy calmed down, and handed tissues to the girl whose tears were streaming down her face. Lieutenant Brand, flicked an eye-roll toward the surveillance camera as he passed. Kirel pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “Captain?” “Hello, Doctor,” said Kirel, turning slowly to meet her. “I understand that you aware of the situation?” “I am somewhat. Lieutenant Garand gave me the basic outline.” Kirel nodded. “And you know the children?” “I know them very well, Captain. And their parents.” The two of them turned to the surveillance monitor to watch the children slowly settle down. Eventually the lieutenant returned the boy to his place at the table, then whispered something into the boy's ear. Whatever it was seemed to do the trick. The boy was Timothy Resplexa, age eleven, son of a Starfleet engineer. Having inherited the brilliance of his father, he was much like Annisha t’Korjata, but the boy usually went too far. Thankfully, Annisha had learned to control herself. After what looked like a moment of thought, he began to swivel his chair back and forth, then swing his legs under the table, occasionally using a finger to trace the swirls of its oak finish. The girl who sat next to him was Cybil Korajon, age ten. She was the daughter of Mariana Korajon, Envoy to Federation Consul General Aspek, and General Nehman, Security Advisor to the same. Cybil’s sob subsided as she wiped a sleeve across her nose. Her eyes were red and evidence of tears still streaked her cheeks. The girl closest to the door was Jelikka t’Rahil, also ten. She was the daughter of RSE Ambassador tr’Rahil. She seemed to be keeping her emotions in check, though she looked somewhat frightened. She and had good reason to be since her father held a high position in the RSE. “To give you the full story, the children planned to make a bomb,” Kirel said finally. “Chances are that they would not have succeeded, but even if they did not they still would have severely injured or killed themselves. It would have triggered alarms, of course, but rescue would have come too late. “The school was closed for the weekend,” she continued, “but the boy devised a way of entry by manipulating codes. That has since been secured. He has the brilliance of Annisha, but she knows to be careful. Resplexa is reckless. I should have been more vigilant. However,” the captain continued, turning to face Amanda, “As Chief Security Officer I must meet with them, and you must be present. Not only is it standard protocol when children are involved, but for a personal reason. I am sure you understand why.” Amanda nodded. “Their parents are in another room.” She gestured to a visitor’s room down the hallway. “They specifically requested remote visual. They said that the children might distort their answers if they were present. Do you agree?” “Oh, definitely, Captain,” Amanda replied. “Children usually respond more candidly in their parents’ absence.” Kirel dropped her hands to her side and approached the door. “You enter and I will follow. Your presence should calm them… or at least I hope it will. I am not fond of Mr Resplexa, and the feeling is mutual. If you are ready…?” “As ready as I’ll ever be, Captain,” she said with a nod toward the door. As it opened, Kirel wondered how the doctor could be so calm and positive in these situations. Definitely mind-boggling. The children jumped at the sound of the door, then shouts of “‘Manda!” echoed to the end of the hall as soon as Amanda stepped in. Cybil grabbed hold of Amanda’s skirt and wouldn’t let go. Jelikka gave her a firm but decidedly Romulan hug. Timothy pounced on her, then recoiled when he became the first to see Kirel. His, “Oh, gees,” was probably louder than he intended, and his eyes followed Kirel as she walked, as calmly as possible, past him and took her usual seat at the head of the conference table. The girls clung to Dr. Davis as though she would keep them safe from the ogre. “Mr. Resplexa, Ms Korajon, Ms t’Rahil, please sit and allow Doctor Davis that courtesy,” she said. The boy slipped into his chair, then pushed it farther away from Kirel. The two girls clung to Amanda until she assured them that the captain does not bite. But they continued to snuggle next to her. Cybil’s eyes teared up, then relaxed a bit when Amanda gave her a squeeze. “Do you know why you are here?” asked Kirel, regarding each one separately. Quick answers of, “Yes… no… I mean no… I mean yes… no… yes,” bounced from one to the other until all three finally said, “Yes.” “You were going to make a bomb for a science project, correct?” All three heads nodded. Kirel’s deep breath ended in a slow exhale that helped her to relax and think. “I want you to know that I do understand you had a science project due,” she began, “and that you were late, so you decided to use the school laboratory. What I do not understand is why you decided to make a bomb.” “Annie said to,” blurted Cybil. “Shut up, Cyb!!” said Timothy, bolting from his chair. “Why?” Cybil shot back. “Just SHUT U….” Kirel slapped the table. “Stop. Now. Mr Resplexa... sit down.” Timothy froze, then wiggled slowly back into his chair, but his glower never left Cybil. “Mr Resplexa,” said Kirel, sternly without raising her voice, “you will treat Ms Korajon with the courtesy she deserves. If you do not, we have a very quiet place down the hall that is ready for you. Do you understand?” Timothy swallowed hard and looked to Amanda. Amanda gave him a stern nod, and the boy replied, “Yes, ma’am.” “Annie who?” Kirel continued. “Annie t’Korjata,” he replied quietly. “She already made one.” Kirel’s shock was obvious, mirrored by Amanda. After a few questioning expressions exchanged with Amanda, Kirel sat back and waved a hand. “Doctor, take over please.” “Of course, Captain,” she said, still somewhat in shock. “Timothy, did she tell you how to make it?” “No, ma’am.” “What exactly did Annisha say to you about the bomb?” “She said that her project was going to win.” “With the bomb?” “Yes, ma’am. She said that she was going to be away so she gave it to Mister Scanlon early.” “And you think she made a bomb?” “Well… yeah. I mean... yes, ma’am. She said it was special and she wasn’t going to tell us any more. She said it was ‘Da Bomb.’” Amanda’s eyebrows shot up. She looked at Kirel, then back to Timothy. “So… Annisha said her project was finished and it was ‘da bomb’? She said exactly that?” “Yes, ma’am.” “Oh, thank goodness,” she whispered in relief, taking a second or two to relax. “What?” the boy asked, confused. “She didn’t make a bomb?” “No, she did not. She used an idiom. Do you know what that is?” “Yes, ma’am.” “Saying that it was ‘da bomb’ is a way of saying that her project was very, very good.” Kirel's report was definitely going to be interesting.