"And what lesson did you learn?" the Commander asked.
        "That if someone changes the rules at the last moment, I am probably going to lose?" Killik answered, then quickly realized the rudeness and sarcasm of his reply. "My apologies, Commander, I was somewhat Š rattled. What was the lesson?"
        "There are many lessons here," the Commander said, "and you did surmise one of them, but not the one I wanted you to learn."
        Killik sat in silence, contemplating that thought, and knowing it was a time to wait for the Commander to speak.
        "I know you, Cadet Killik," the Commander said. "I have reviewed your file, spoken with your instructors and cadet officers, and have even had you in my own lectures. Your records in the simulators are only average, and your scores in the live-fire scenarios are marginal, while your academic record is superior. When you won the chess tournament, the problem became obvious to me."
        Killik continued to sit in silence.
        "You think too much, Cadet," the Commander said. "Combat never gives you enough time to think through every option, every unknown. You need to train your instincts to react far more quickly."
        "But does not a hasty decision lead to a mistake?" Killik asked, trying to remain deferential.
        "Sometimes," the Commander responded, "but far more often, a delayed decision leaves you vulnerable to an attack. You can get yourself killed and your men with you if you're still thinking about the 'perfect' answer when a 'good enough' answer from your opponent scores a killing blow. The point is to be fast all the time, and right as often as possible. Do your thinking before the shooting starts, then the quick reactions will be the right ones."
        "I thought I was expected to use some judgment?" Killik protested.
        "You are expected to follow orders instantly," the Commander said, "and learn how to give correct orders almost as quickly. That comes with experience. You won't be in command of anything requiring an instant decision for some time yet, but you do need to realize that speed has an accuracy all its own."
        "Even soŠ" Killik began.
        "Cadet, when you graduate, what assignment do you want?" the Commander interrupted.
        "Combat," Killik answered without hesitation. "On a starship, preferably. A frigate if I can get it, so that promotion will be faster. I want to command a ship."
        "Cadet, if you cannot learn the lesson I have taught you, I will be recommending you for staff duty in military intelligence, where you can think all you like," the Commander said. When Killik appeared horrified, the Commander added, "And if you argue with me when I'm trying to teach you a lesson, even one more time, I will send you to the police for duty as a detective. You are dismissed."

XO's Office, D7 Battlecruiser Atropos, October Y183
        "Sit down, Ensign Killik," the XO said. The young officer did as he was told. "You have completed your basic division tours, and you will be promoted to junior lieutenant along with two others at a ceremony tomorrow."
        "Thank you, Sir," Killik said. "May I ask what my next assignment will be?"
        "You are being sent back to the battle station for reassignment," the XO said.
        Killik was struck with a wave of emotion. Panic, anger, self-doubt, and a conviction that this must be some mistake all raced through his mind. He was being kicked off the ship as unwanted. "Have I failed to perform?" he asked.
        "Not so much that," the XO said, "as having failed to impress the captain. You think too much. You read too much. You take too long to make decisions. The captain thinks that you will be of better use in a staff position, perhaps intelligence or logistics, where your problem-solving skills will be more applicable."
        "But I want to be in combat," Killik said.
        "The Klingon Empire is not about what you want, Ensign-promotable Killik," the XO snapped.
        "If you send me with that recommendation," Killik stammered, "I won't ever get a combat assignment."
        "Are you sure you want one?" the XO said. "Seriously, Killik, you're not suited for it. You over-think things. You take too long to study a problem. You'll be far happier and far more useful in a staff position."
        "Is there no choice?" Killik said, near panic.
        The XO leaned back in his chair and sighed. He's passionate about combat; I have to give him that, the XO thought to himself. Even so, the captain wants rid of him. I could call a friend about getting him a position on a fast transport Š no, I'd have to use up a favor to get that to happen. Killik will just have to live with disappointment, the XO decided. Then he had another thought.
        "If you were to request a transfer to gunboats," the XO began, watching for a reaction, "you would all but certainly get it. The gunboats need officers, a lot of them, and they'd snap up a qualified K2 junior lieutenant in a flash. Anyone reading your file would find no mark of shame, only a desire to get into combat, and get a command. As things are going, you could have your own boat command in a few months."
        "That would be preferable," Killik said.
        "I will send the forms to request a transfer to your cabin," the XO said. "Have them back to me in an hour. Dismissed."
Killik saluted and left.
        That's going to work out much better, the XO thought to himself. We don't have to use a discretionary transfer to get rid of Killik, and I can instead use it on Svelti Kimtik, who I want to get off the ship before she finishes sleeping with all of the senior officers.