Lessons In G’Quan’s Duck

Characters: G’fen, Dunstan Kordieh

After receiving word that he was going to be assigned to the Phoenix, G’fen had not seen much of Dunstan Kordieh. They met each other just outside one of the dormitories late one afternoon. Kordieh was positively beaming.

“Hello, Dunstan,” G’fen said. “You look very happy.”

“I am,” he said. “I’ve just come from the Council chambers. They’re letting me come back to the Rangers! I’m assigned to the Phoenix again!”

G’fen was startled. “That’s surprising, after …”

“After I nearly blew it up?” Kordieh waved a hand slightly, as if to dismiss G’fen’s unease. “The council knew that I was insane at the time. And that I truly wished to atone for what I’d done. And … ” he took a deep breath and let it out slowly, as if testing his lungs. “After what happened a few weeks ago in Yedor, they believed I was ready for the next test.”

G’fen began, “Well, I’m so glad you will be coming with me! When will we be off?”

“I think Captain Hale said nine days. That doesn’t give us a lot of time, but maybe you can help me.”

A worried look came over G’fen. “Help? Dunstan, are you in some kind of trouble?”

“No, no, I’m fine. And when I go back, I’ll be in the medical section, so I don’t know if I even need this. But I think I should learn some unarmed combat. Self-defense. I thought maybe you could help.”

“Of course I can help you! But I warn you, it won’t be easy. Very few humans have been taught Narn fighting, but I can help you with the basics. Well, let’s say we go to the gym, and I can start your training.”

Kordieh nodded. “I don’t know how talented a student I’ll be, but I promise you I’ll be a dedicated one.”

They boarded a train heading in the direction of the gym. “All you have to do is try. Anyway, are you going to specialize in any particular thing in the Medlab?”

“I don’t know, really. I’ll just be doing whatever the doctors want me to do.” He smiled. “I remember one Minbari there. She was very kind. I wonder if she is still with the Phoenix?”

“I don’t know. But I’m sure there has to be some way to find out.” The train slowly came to a halt. “Here’s our stop.”

The gymnasium complex had many different rooms, set up to handle everything from large group exercises to smaller, one-or two-student training sessions. It was to one of the latter rooms that G’fen went.

Kordieh looked around the room, nearly empty except for the indirect lighting fixtures and the mats on the floor, then looked at G’fen. “Well, sensei,” he said, “where do we start?”

“First, we must meditate to G’Quan.” The two friends mediated for a few minutes. Kordieh mused that he didn’t know very much about G’Quan, except that he was a major figure in Narn history and religion. He made himself a promise to find out more as soon as he could.

After the meditation, G’fen stood across a mat from Kordieh. “Okay, put your arms in the air and flatten out your hands…do you understand?”

Kordieh lifted his hands over his head, palms out and facing G’fen. “Like this?”

“Uh…no. Make your hands like they are, what do you call those animals from your world — feathers, beaks…cats? Yes, Cats! Like a cat.”

Kordieh looked puzzled. “Cats don’t have feathers or beaks. They do have claws though.” He reached out toward the Narn, curling his hands into the shape of a feline paw poised to swat. “It would look like this.”

G’fen covered his face and sighed. “Close enough. Anyway, now you slowly move your arms, but keep the ‘cat’ pose.”

Kordieh lifted his arms up again, then paused. “Could you show me? I can follow what you do, and that might be easier than you trying to explain.”

G’fen demonstrated what he was trying to teach. “Is it more clear now?”

The confusion in Kordieh’s dark eyes had evaporated, and he smiled as he followed G’fen’s movements. “Yes, thank you. Now I understand.”

G’fen had Kordieh practice the routine several more times. “Okay, let’s take a break. You’re doing well.”

“You think so?” Kordieh asked as he sat down on the mat and took several deep breaths. “I know I’m in pretty good physical condition, but I don’t know if I could ever be as strong as a Narn.”

“You can always try to be as strong as one of us! Anyway, you’re doing fine. Don’t worry. So, you were in Medlab the last time you were on the Phoenix?”

“Actually, I was in Engineering. My specialty was the structural systems.”

“Then why aren’t you going there again?”

“I think the Council want me in Medlab now to make sure that if something goes wrong, I don’t have the access to the ship that I had before. Or they have an idea that I should work to heal, since before I did so much to cause injury.” He shrugged. “Maybe both. Anyway, I’m content to go where they want me to go. For a long time, I thought the only way I’d ever see thePhoenix again was being blown out an airlock!” He managed a wry smile.

“All is well now. You really must stop beating yourself up over it.” G’fen spoke very slowly, as if he were addressing a pouchling. “It … wasn’t … your … fault. Anyway, what did you do for fun on the ship?”

A faint blush crept up Kordieh’s cheeks. “Me, I’m afraid I was so messed up, I didn’t do much for fun,” he admitted. “Let me think a minute…. Believe it or not, there was a bar on board. I don’t know if it still exists. There are meditation rooms, and a gym. I heard that some people played musical instruments….oh!” he exclaimed as a fresh thought came to mind. “This might amuse you. One person had a pet cat.”

“A cat? Now, how could they prevent it from flying around the ship? I guess the bar and gym will be good. I’ve never been too big on meditation. A cat …that is crazy.”

Kordieh laughed, stifling it when he saw the confusion on G’fen’s face begin to melt into annoyance. “I think there’s still some confusion here,” he said. “Cats don’t have wings.” He thought a minute. “I’ll show you what a cat looks like,” he said, going over to the bench where his street clothes were and pulling a pencil and paper out of one pocket. He sketched furiously for several minutes, then presented the paper to G’fen. “There. That’s a cat. It stands about so high.” He placed his hand a little below one knee.

“Well, that is certainly odd looking.” G’fen grabbed the pencil and paper and drew. “See, this is what I thought a cat was.” He held up a picture of a bird.

“Good grief. No wonder we were confused. That’s a bird of some kind.” Kordieh laughed again. “Well, maybe you’ll get to see a real cat. They are good pets. Do your people keep pets?”

“No, but we used to …before the Centauri came. They turned us into pets. So, we have found it to be wrong to keep a pet.”

It took Kordieh a moment to think of what to say in return to this. Finally he said, “I’m sure that Anla’shok Yoshino is much more kind to her cat than the Centauri were to your people.”

“I’m sure she is, for your people are unlike the Centauri. Anyway, would you like to call it a night? You have learned much today.”

“Maybe that would be best. I still have some studying to do back in my room. Will you be able to meet me to train some more tomorrow?”

“Of course. I look forward to it. Have a good night, Dunstan.” With that, G’fen left for home.

Copyright © 2002 Jamie Lawson and Nick Wistner. All rights reserved.

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