Challenge: Are you up to this? - You bet I am, are you? 

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes, I am sure." Rishana finished programming the holodeck and looked over her shoulder. "I want to do it, and we can’t have Lieutenant Foster believe I am chickening out, can we?"

Catherine silently agreed, despite her misgivings about Lieutenant Foster’s challenge interrupting the counseling session. But she was still not certain what she was getting herself into. "You know, I doubt I am qualified to act as umpire in this... exercise."

"Oh don't worry." Rishana showed her a lopsided smile. "While I insisted on having you as a referee, I did it only because I will need a second opinion – not on the result of this challenge, but on the way I handle it."

"So you want me to judge you and not the outcome of this contest?"

Rishana took a deep breath and she fully turned to the Counselor. "Yes. Right now I feel like I am two different persons – a pilot and a seeress. I know who I want to be, but I still need to see if it’s who I can be." She touched the holodeck controls and gestured at the opening doors. "Shall we?"

Catherine Lee slightly bowed and motioned for Rishana to lead the way. Perhaps this wasn’t as bad an idea as she had thought. "After you."

* * * * *

Caleb Foster steered his fighter around the approaching asteroids without a conscious effort and reconsidered his position. He knew that Rishana Hagen was one of the best pilots the Academy had ever turned out – after all, her reputation as a helmsman was almost as good as his own – but now he had to think it over.

'No!' He shook his head, chiding himself. So far she had only been lucky. Now maybe he had underestimated her just a little bit, but he knew he was the better pilot. His training was as good as hers, but his reflexes were better and he had far more experience piloting small craft. There was nothing to worry about. Studying his sensor readings Cal Foster licked his lips and a grin spread across his face. However good a pilot she was, he was still racing ahead of her and his sensors revealed the terrain to him first.

He slowed his fighter ever so slightly, then kicked in the lateral thrusters to turn his craft around on it’s Z-axis.

A barrage of phaser and micro-torpedo fire turned an asteroid right in front of Rishana's fighter into a cloud of debris and Caleb knew he was shielded from her sensors for at least a second, which was more than he needed. He swung his ship up and around, keeping the nose of his fighter on Rishana's ship.

Suddenly he was right above her. His weapons came to bear, target locked, and all he had to do was pull the trigger. It had been a nice challenge, but now it was over.

'Bye bye,' he thought, as his fingers touched the weapons control.

* * * * *

Rishana smiled ever so slightly as the asteroid in front of her exploded. She diverted power from the sensor array back to the shields and relied on the computer projection of what lay ahead. Weakening the shields to increase her fighter's sensor range had been just the reckless tactic Foster would have used – and would never have expected from anyone else.

'Here we go, hotshot,' Rishana thought with a mental grin as she ripped open the throttle and shot away from the other fighter, just as it moved into firing position.

Phasers and torpedoes vaporized several asteroids behind her, but Rishana didn't pay any attention. Already she forced her craft into a hard turn, spiraling away from Lieutenant Foster's fighter, not to get away from him, but to lure him into a trap of her own.

* * * * *

Rishana yanked her fighter up and around the asteroid at the last moment and she knew Foster wouldn't follow her course. He had to come around the asteroid, but not the way she had. He needed a chance to outmaneuver her and this was it.

Left, right, down. Three possibilities, three choices he could make, one as likely as the other.

Rishana brought her small craft to a full stop as fast as she could. It was now or never. Weapons online, targeting on automatic, a hand poised at the thruster controls and there he was.

Thrusters fired and aligned her craft with the approaching fighter's vector, but now she was overreacting. Right rudder, weapons lock, compensating for his evasive maneuvers...

WHAM!

* * * * *

"I guess that was exciting." Catherine Lee sounded less than thrilled, but Rishana just answered her with a smile before she lead the way from the holodeck.

Before one of them had a chance to say more Lieutenant Foster raced at them from the neighboring holodeck. "That is impossible! You couldn't have known where I would be coming from!" He spun around and faced the Counselor. "You were there. Tell me how she did it."

A smile tugged at Catherine's lips, but she did her best to keep her voice level. "As far as I can tell Lieutenant Hagen only relied on the sensor readouts provided by the holodeck, nothing more."

Cal Foster starred at her for a few seconds from narrowed eyes, but then he grunted and turned away from the two women. He headed down the corridor, ignoring what he could only call a smug grin on Rishana's face. When she called out "Lieutenant Foster" he took a few more steps, then stopped and glanced over his shoulder.

"Ten Forward in one hour. Remember, you are paying and I plan to take full advantage of it."

* * * * *

"So, what do you now think you are, a pilot or a seeress? Was that just intuition or did you have some kind of vision that told you which course Foster would take?"

Rishana leaned against the wall of the turbolift and a lopsided smile split her face. "Neither. I had no idea which way he would be coming 'round that asteroid. I just picked a direction at random and took my chances."

 

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