“Cadet Gens, please take a seat.” The Commandant indicated the chair directly across the desk from him. “My PA and my Staff Officer have orders that we are to be only to be disturbed if there is an outbreak of war. You and I need to have a conversation about why you are a first year cadet here.” He waited until Parthi was seated and then went on, “You could have applied to enlist with recognition of your notional rank and done a conversion course to become an officer. Why didn’t you?”
He sat back in his chair, folded his hands across his midriff and waited.
“There were two reasons,” Parthi began slowly. “One was an impression and one was a fact. When I was discharged I was told to ‘go off and learn to be a real kid.’ I got the feeling that no-one wanted to admit that there had been child combatants. The other reason was that I haven’t done the courses you’re supposed to do to become a Petty Officer. In fact the only courses I’ve done are gunnery courses.”
“Indeed.” The Commandant kept his hands on his midsection. “I understand from your file that your secondary education took place in Jerdu although you’re a native Ainglic speaker.”
Parthi admitted, “Yes, sir. That is so.”
“And you never, at any point, actually set foot in a secondary school. You completed distance learning work packets supplied to you by the Chief Purser of the ship you were on and returned them to him for on forwarding to the oversight authority for assessment.” The Commandant gave her a look that she could only interpret as being avuncular.
“Well, yes,” agreed Parthi. “Where is this going, sir?”
“Your educational results were split between records for Parthi Gens and Jienz Parfi, but we became aware of them all after that episode when your class was introduced to the new records system.” He smiled briefly. “You have a solid but basic secondary school record.”
“I was on a gun boat in a war zone,” offered Parthi, thinking that ‘solid but basic’ sounded unprepossessing.
The Commandant went on, “On top of that, you’ve also completed two years of a four year Commercial Science degree, every first year Jerdu literature course the University of Greater Trajan offered by correspondence in the time you were on Anchor of the Morning, and every Naval Reserve promotion course up to and including the rank of Petty Officer, First Class that it is possible to do by distance education.”
“What?” Parthi remembered who she was talking to and added, “Sorry. Sir?”
“Your Chief Purser seems to have been quite adept at passing advanced work off as age appropriate secondary lessons,” said the Commandant drily. “If someone hadn’t been so eager to keep you out of the photo opportunity that was the Anchor’s crew receiving their accumulated decorations before returning to civilian service, I’m sure he would have provided you with proper transcripts. In fact, so many corners were cut on your discharge that I’ve ordered our Personnel Section to conduct a forensic audit of the process because I am not satisfied that you received your full pay or leave entitlements. Also, Captain Sarharmudi of the Anchor has been extremely noisy about his ‘ward and charge’ being dragged away without notice or consultation. What you need to decide now, Cadet Gens, is whether you wish your current contact details to be passed to your former shipmates, and whether you actually want to be a naval officer or whether you applied to the Academy because you thought you had few choices.”
Parthi didn’t know where to begin.
This is now followed by The Cadet: Part 22.