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Topic: Day 11 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought  (Read 448 times) previous topic - next topic

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Day 11 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
WITH MALICE AFORETHOUGHT
STARDATE 57584.18
MARCH 21, 2381
1258 HRS.

[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Security Centre | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] attn of and message provided by: @fiendfall

It was turning into a nightmare day. Thea had informed him almost immediately that Trent had been attacked - the assailant having taken advantage of a maintenance cycle to shoot the erstwhile XO in the back while the ship's attention was diverted. Security was wading through the statements of the thirty or so crew that had been present in the relevant section of deck along Trent's route to his office, plus the half a dozen or so people in compartments close enough to have heard the phaser shot.

The culprit had yet to be found. So far, the Bellerophon survivors were collectively the likeliest suspects, despite the work that had gone into vetting their feelings and intentions towards the Theurgy.

The first order of business had been to seal the airlocks and lock down the transporter pads and shuttle bays. According to the logs, none of those places had been travelled through in a reasonable time window either side of the murder, so the murderer themselves could confidently be said to be still aboard. The second order of business had been to suppress all knowledge of what had happened against everyone but the immediate investigation team. The body had been moved to a quiet corner of sickbay and sequestered pending coroner's review, the segment of corridor had been sealed off and crew diverted around, mostly trying to avoid muddying the waters than he was about any panic.

"There is no way they left no forensic traces. It just isn't possible-"

"Enough people came and went before we got to him that they may as well have. Masking the life sign like that..."

Ducote's gaze was switching between the lieutenants between him as they went back and forth. "Then you check every sample you find against the database to eliminate them."

"That's-"

"Going to take a long time, yes," he finished. "So the sooner you start..."

"Aye, aye."

As one of them moved off, and a sensation not unlike relief washed over the other one (which he ignored), the PADD he habitually carried in a thigh pocket buzzed once. He fished it out, finding a message:

Quote
FROM: LCDR HATHEV
TO: CMDR DUCOTE, RANAAN E
SUBJ: Confidential Meeting Requested
ATT: LCHathev.cal

I have some concerns about an officer receiving treatment from my department - Lieutenant Carrigan Trent. I would therefore request a meeting at your convenience to discuss the matter.

I have attached my schedule for your perusal.

Counsellor Hathev.


His convenience, indeed. And what were the chances of her requesting such a meeting today? Right now? Her position as the most senior of the Bellerophon segment of the crew was hardly lost on him; the only reason she hadn't been called in for interview already was that - according to the logged copy of her schedule - she had been seeing a client at the time of the murder.

But if she's volunteering herself... He didn't bother to check her schedule. As far as he was concerned, just about everyone aboard was currently working to his timing now, until this was solved. He tapped his badge.

"Hathev; Ducote. Please report to my ready room immediately. Out." He turned to the Relieved Lieutenant and said, "Hold the fort. Anything new comes up, let me know."

"Will do, sir."

With no further ado, he left the incident room and stalked out of the centre altogether, heading for the turbolifts. It was only a few minutes later that he arrived in his almost never-used office, still totally bare of decoration or personality. He hated being locked away in a separate room, and managed his workload to either be something he could do with a stack of PADDs just about anywhere, or on the move around the ship. No point being the crew's chief point of contact if they never saw you.

It meant his office was, however, rather stark. And that suited his purposes just fine when he did find occasion to use it. Almost always, if Ducote wanted a one-on-one meeting, he would go to the other person and meet them where they worked. If he told you to come to him, you were in trouble. Not that many on this ship would know that yet, having had little need to 'escalate' things that far with anyone. The disciplinary actions that had been taken since he'd taken the role hadn't needed anyone higher than a department head, so far. He'd just been handed the reports.

The downside was that there was little distraction while he waited for someone to arrive. Ducote allowed himself one single circuit of the ready room before he posted up behind his chair, leaning on the headrest with one arm, its hand holding his PADD up for him to read the incoming reports while he waited. His other hand went into his trouser pocket, and curled around his type-I. The phaser probably wouldn't be necessary - if he had to arrest Hathev, he doubted she would resist, given what he knew of her. But if she did, he had the same training afforded to any of their Security crew. She could well overpower him, as a Vulcan, but body mechanics were common across most humanoids; if she couldn't apply her greater strength, it wouldn't matter.

Benefit of the doubt, he reminded himself. The murder had his paranoia ramping up again, and he could only imagine what Hadiya might have had to say about that.

In the end, he didn't have long to wait before his door chimed.

"Enter."

The petite form of the counsellor appeared in his doorway. He gestured to one of the chairs before his desk, but didn't otherwise move. "Have a seat."

Ducote spent a second looking Hathev over, 'tuning' his empathy for a moment, before he joined her in sitting. The PADD was moved off to one side of his desk, its screen dark. His voice rumbled in his scarred throat. 

"I'm all ears, doc."
  • Last Edit: December 01, 2019, 04:34:28 PM by Top Hat
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
Evoras: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 10 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
Reply #1
[ Lt Cmdr Hathev | Chief Counsellor's Office, Main Sickbay > XO's Office  | Deck 11 > Deck 01 | Vector 02 > Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Top Hat

After almost a week's worth of avoidance, and a full decade's interim between meetings, Hathev had now seen Seren three times in four days. It was a ridiculously high frequency, one which was not necessitated by their adjacent roles and concordant profession, and one which far surpassed that they had achieved even at their most social, in the months during which she had acted as the boy's savensu. Upon learning of the boy's proximity upon the ship, and even indeed upon meeting him once more, Hathev had neither intended nor desired that their encounter would be repeated at such a high rate, and thus the recurrence was a source of some discomfort for her. She merely wished to continue her duties unmolested by the personal and professional difficulties raised by the young Vulcan; preventing such complication in or distraction from her work was, of course, the logical intent.

However she had little recourse for complaint, as despite the unfortunate regularity of their occurrence, the meetings had all been initiated for logical causes; whether that of polite greeting, of personal correction, or of professional concern, she could not deny the logic of their motivations. This latest meeting had been prompted by the last of those, as Seren had once more returned to her with the same professional concern her erstwhile student had expressed during their first conversation. It was an issue that she had considered resolved, at least for the present time; that the situation had deteriorated so rapidly was most regrettable. Seren had acted correctly in bringing such a matter to her.

Twice now, Seren had voiced his concerns regarding the stability and capability of Mr Trent as related to both the safety of the man and of the ship he served upon. Her previous action had been merely to offer advice, allowing Seren the right as a professional to proceed as he considered best. However such a thing had occurred during a conversation that courted the professional and personal spheres with equal intrigue; the advice had been offered in her capacity as savensu. That the situation had now been escalated to her in an official capacity meant that arrangement no longer stood; savensu no more, she was Chief Counsellor and head of department. There was little cause to deliberate upon such an action any further than she had already, and thus at the earliest convenience she wrote and sent her message to Commander Ducote. She delayed only to prepare herself and her knowlege properly first, and to deal with a surprise intrusion from a patient in crisis.

Her message finally relayed, she received a reply almost immediately, the First Officer hailing her verbally over comms, succinctly requesting her immediate presence. Had he not deigned to view the copy of her schedule she had attached that he may arrange a suitable meeting? She was due to begin a session with a patient in a mere two minutes. Did the commander consider her duties trivial? There had been little urgency in her request, certainly none that necessitated immediate attention.

In any other circumstances, Hathev would have informed the commander that she was indisposed, engaged with a patient as she was. However the patient in question was of the type to frequently arrive late or not attend a session at all, and it would be illogical to force the First Officer to re-arrange at the convenience of a man absent. Thus she requested a report of the computer: was the patient in question currently in the waiting area for her office, or journeying to such a locale?

The reply came that he was not, and Hathev acknowledged this information curtly. It seemed her patient did not intend to join her for their session; Ducote's thoughtless timing would see no consequence. Nevertheless, she hailed her absentee patient with a brief message informing him of the change in circumstances. No response was requested, and none was forthcoming.

That business seen to, Hathev collected her PADD and exited her office. She made her way across to the first vector and the offices of Commander Ranaan Ducote, following the most efficient route in awareness of her relative tardiness. Of course, it was impossible to be late to such an impromptu meeting as this, and yet she disliked arriving with anything less than the exact punctuality for which her species was renowned. Thus she endeavoured for the expedience required by the circumstances.

Arriving at the commander's door, she was promptly received, entering the room for the first time. Commander Stark, in her brief term as Acting Executive Officer, had preferred to offer Hathev a walking tour of the ship rather than entertain her in this office, and thus Hathev studied the space with unfamiliar eyes.

The room was starkly functional, without a single marker of its occupant; an interesting choice, considering it was even more devoid of personal detail than Hathev's own office. She, at least, had the glass dish from which she served the treat or delicacy preferred by each patient, alongside the soft furnishings she provided with the couch, and the few small identifying adornments she had triangulated upon her desk in order to present a more approachable and relatable front. Ducote, it would seem, had none of these; considering she had occupied her position only a few hours longer than he his, such absence was worth noting.

The man in question was seated behind his desk, and, she noted, made no move to rise in greeting as she entered. Unable to greet him with a handshake as she would customarily offer to a human or human-raised individual, she therefore greeted him with her native salute as replacement, before moving to seat herself in the chair he designated.

For a moment, they merely regarded one another. Hathev had worked alongside the man on only three brief occasions: two staff meetings, and the interrogation of Dr Nicander, such as it could be called that. In such a time she had hardly gathered a comprehensive view of the man, and certainly not one concurrent with the view espoused to her by Ducote's fiancé -- although that was, of course, biased to the point of inadmissability. Nevertheless she utilised the opportunity to study him now.

Human age could be difficult to determine, but Hathev knew from Ducote's file that he was on the cusp of 40. A hybrid, of human and Betazoid parentage, the man had lived the majority of his life upon Earth prior to serving Starfleet, a career which he had pursued for barely twenty years, yet which had seen several departmental displacements already. Considering his negative reaction to an earlier traumatic event in 2372, she would not be surprised to discover he experienced a similar difficulty with the more recent developments, namely the loss and apparent loss of the Endeavour and Commander Tiran respectively.

With this context she expected to see markers of strain, stress, and perhaps emotional or physical exhaustion replete upon his countenance. She certainly saw some of these in the tensing of the circumocular muscles and in the tightness of the man's jaw; however she saw other emotional symptoms which seemed more readily diagnosed as signs of anger than of tiredness, in the almost challenging quality to his gaze, the determined set of his shoulders.

Did he resent her for having called this meeting, or for the subject matter that required discussing? He could have no logical reason to; thus she was forced to question her reading. It became clear she could draw no conclusions on such insufficient data; she would refrain from doing so until she could be certain as to the situation, lest she do the man a disservice. In any case, she was not here in her remit as counsellor but as head of department, and although it would be foolish to squander such an opportunity to better understand the First Officer of the ship she could not allow herself to become distracted from her purpose in such a pursuit.

The familiar epithet 'doc' by which Ducote addressed her was strange; she was not, after all, a doctor, even by title. Despite having completed a degree approximately equivalent to the PhD on Earth, the Vulcan title for doing so was hardly equivalent to the human 'doctor'. A linguistic quirk, then? Yet it was one that suggested a casualness that the man's tensed positioning belied; however if there was any meaning behind the choice of vocabulary she could not discern it.

'My thanks for the meeting,' she said, her tone carefully neutral. 'Lieutenant Carrigan Trent has been undergoing mandatory counselling with my subordinate, Ensign Seren, so chosen for the task due to his complete removal from the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Trent's dismissal and demotion. Seren was in stasis at the time, and received dispensation to return to duty after a complete physical and mental evaluation. His judgement has my complete trust.'

That Ducote would be unable to dismiss her concerns based on any trivialities, she judged it important to establish credentials thus. Such an aim also informed her belief that raising the matter of her discussion on the matter with Seren was an unnecessary complication to the narrative which served no purpose; indeed, it might only mislead one who was unfamiliar with her department and methodology, as was Ducote. Therefore she elected to speak only on the meeting which had occurred that morning.

'Seren met with me today that we could discuss this patient,' she continued, maintaining a neutral eye-contact. 'He expressed his concern that Mr Trent may pose a danger to this ship if allowed to continue acting in his current position, due the erratic and unstable behaviour Seren has noted thus far. It is Seren's belief, and also my own, that Mr Trent is unfit for duty at this current time.'
  • Last Edit: November 04, 2019, 07:45:20 PM by fiendfall
CPO Morgan Song - Engineering - Chief of Maintenance (V2) [Show/Hide]
Lt Cmdr Hathev - Counselling - Chief Counsellor [Show/Hide]
Ensign Inej 'Avi' Avirim - Security - Investigations Officer [Show/Hide]
Xelia - Civillian - Software Engineer [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 10 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
Reply #2
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | XO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] attn: @fiendfall

Hathev, entirely reasonably, took the opportunity to size Ducote up in turn, though there was little he could discern from her reaction. Or rather, the predictable lack of one. His empathy was similarly useless; she was as much of a storm in a bottle as most Vulcans, but the nature of that particular storm made reading it mostly impossible. At any rate, those winds seemed far away regardless.

"My thanks for the meeting..."

He wasn't sure if he should thank her for calling it yet, for the sake of appearances or otherwise.

Her explanation was thorough, at least; it would save them both the trouble of his having to ask for those ancillary details. While she spoke, he pulled the PADD over to him to check up on Seren; it wasn't a name with which he was familiar. He was surprised to note that he was apparently one of Hathev's familial relations - he was the brother of her son - and a former student. How fortunate that the Theurgy should bring them back together.

"You met with Seren today? Did he also meet with Trent this morning?"

Family or no, Hathev had managed to make him a more urgent suspect than about sixty percent of the Bellerophon list, whether he had been in stasis or not. Not that there was much in his file or his psych profiles to indicate that he was enough of a utilitarian to ignore ethics and legality to just delete a potential problem that way.

Still possible that this is a mere coincidence...

Ducote spent a little mental energy in the background deciding how far he wanted to go with this particular suspicion. There was merit in not dismissing a lead, but he might as well just add the entire crew, the Aldean work gangs, and the KDF to the list while he was at it if he didn't restrain himself. He paged through to the written report about the ensign's recommendation, and quirked an eyebrow as he read it.

"Lieutenant Trent will not be returning to duty for the foreseeable future," he confirmed, his gaze flicking back to the counsellor's face. "He was murdered at ten-forty-seven hours this morning. Vector Two is on lockdown; we're the only two I cleared to leave it since that event."

The unspoken implication being that unless it was one of the two of them, the murderer was still aboard the Sword.

"The news has been suppressed and limited to those investigating, Thea herself, and the senior staff - though they haven't all been informed yet. The reason given for the lockdown has been a readiness exercise followed by a failure in the anyon generators... no way to check for Infected, no one on or off."

He watched Hathev carefully. One way or another, that was bound to provoke a reaction.
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
Evoras: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 10 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
Reply #3
[ Lt Cmdr Hathev | XO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Top Hat

Completing her monologue, Hathev watched the First Officer in silence. He had been distracted as she spoke, turning his focus to his PADD into which he keyed something the details of which she could not make out. The result appeared to be a personnel file; Seren's, she would assume. Certainly had she been in his position she would have sought out such information at the earliest convenience; a shame the man could not have waited to hear the end of her statement before he did so, humans being poorly equipped to multitask, but if he was indeed able to split his mind into multiple foci effectively then she could hardly begrudge him the efficiency of the action.

A shadow of surprise crossed his face briefly; had he discovered something unexpected in Seren's file? The boy's service history was hardly exceptional, nothing within warranting such a reaction -- except, of course, her own connection to him. The very fact of their mutual presence aboard was a coincidence even she had found improbable, and yet entirely true. Their past connection was hardly obvious in Seren's file, however; to discover such a thing one would have to explore either the boy's parentage, or delve into his educational records, both courses requiring a more than cursory reading and greater expenditure of effort. If Ducote had indeed discovered their connection, that very fact would imply a greater impulse for detail and accuracy than she had expected of the man.

'I met with Seren from the hours of 1005 to 1020 this morning,' she confirmed in answer to his question. 'It is my understanding he came almost directly from his session with Mr Trent, and returned to Vector One following our meeting.' A surplus of data, perhaps, but she felt the clarification necessary.

Once more the First Officer's focus remained on his PADD as she spoke, seemingly studying something. Hathev resisted an urge to frustration; it had been Mr Ducote, after all, who had called this meeting at such an inopportune moment. Had he merely waited he could have performed this preparatory work before her arrival, and avoided either the wastage of her time or the splitting of his focus.

No matter. She could only trust the matter would be resolved with expediency.

The commander completed whatever task he had set himself, and returned his gaze upwards to meet her own. She expected a statement responding to the concerns she had raised, or a question requesting further information on the exact nature on those concerns. What she received, however, was neither, nor was it something she could ever have predicted.

Mr Trent was dead. He had been dead before she had sent her message to Ducote, and long before this meeting had been arranged, her concerns rendered irrelevant before they had even been raised. A pity that Ducote had required her to speak them, then, when he knew doing so was a perfect waste of time for both of them. There were more pressing matters, the murder of a colleague chief among them.

She did not, of course, feel any emotion as a result of this information. As an officer, the loss of any member of Starfleet was always a grave one, no matter her personal or indeed even professional opinion of the man. She had never pretended to view him with anything other than the opprobrium he had earned when he caused the destruction of the Bellerophon; considering the man's actions, the mutiny they had prompted, and his ensuing mental instability, Hathev could hardly consider his loss too great. However as much as it eliminated a number of issues, the most serious of which she had been here to discuss, it raised as many in their stead, primarily: who was responsible for such an act, and what repercussions would there be for the state of the ship and her crew as a whole?

Now, at least, the First Officer's earlier suspicion seemed more appropriate. Clearly he had called up Seren's file that he could view the boy as a potential suspect; a ridiculous notion, and one she would disabuse him of forthwith.

And yet. Had she herself not espoused the relative logic of Trent's removal from the ship only moments ago? And was Seren not devoted to logic and reason with an intensity that even she could never match? Was he not currently struggling with modulation and maintenance of such things? Had he not left her office in perfect time to commit the crime, and relocated to the planet shortly afterwards, before the lockdown was put in place? Had he not rearranged his meeting with Trent to facilitate such a means of escape?

There was also, of course, the matter of the fight, the past outburst of a violence of which she had not previously thought him capable, and the outcome of which yet remained uncertain.

But no. It could not have been Seren, for what possible logic was there in opening official channels to deal with the issue if he had intended to remove Trent himself? There was no reason in it, and Seren never acted unreasonably. She was certain of that.

Hathev met Ducote's eye. 'You look for a perpetrator in Seren,' she observed lightly. 'There is logic in that, and yet you are mistaken. He would never have acted so foolishly; had the hand been his, the culpability would never have been discovered.'
  • Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 11:24:13 PM by fiendfall
CPO Morgan Song - Engineering - Chief of Maintenance (V2) [Show/Hide]
Lt Cmdr Hathev - Counselling - Chief Counsellor [Show/Hide]
Ensign Inej 'Avi' Avirim - Security - Investigations Officer [Show/Hide]
Xelia - Civillian - Software Engineer [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 10 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
Reply #4
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | XO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] attn: @fiendfall

Seren had more than enough time, it seemed, to make it to deck 10 after meeting Hathev this morning. And then he had left for the Helmet - a quick check of the ship's manifest courtesy of Thea confirming this. That in itself ruled him out, oddly enough; between 1047 and 1053 that morning, the time of death and when the Vector's lockdown had gone into effect respectively, no one had left the Sword by its airlocks nor transporters.

"You look for a perpetrator in Seren." Ducote's eye brightened ever so slightly at the observation. "There is logic in that, and yet you are mistaken. He would never have acted so foolishly; had the hand been his, the culpability would never have been discovered."

"Not that you're biased, of course," he returned just as lightly. "And neither does he know you hold him in such regard, and would therefore never risk a double-bluff relying on it..." He pursed his lips into a tight line, obviously commenting on the largely pointless nature of their (his?) speculation. "I have arrested criminals - including Vulcans - just as clever as Seren, commander, who had considerably more experience in such enterprises. I don't care who did it, in any real fashion. They will be found and remanded to the brig regardless."

He leaned back in his chair, as the meeting had suffered a major change in tone. It was clear that Hathev hadn't come here to issue a tip (or, he supposed, a confession). There was no deception he could detect (though that wasn't exactly convincing when it came to adherent Vulcans), and nor were there any particular patterns in her speech that indicated any creativity with the truth. It would also be a complete waste of time (except as alibi) to come to him to have Trent removed from duty after having killed him herself. Ducote sighed and stood before walking towards the replicator. The meeting could use coffee after all.

"That still leaves a larger problem," he said heavily, before half-turning back to the counsellor. "Do you want anything?" he asked, keying in his preferred blend already, then sipping on his steaming mug as he resumed his seat.

"The side of the mutiny that supported Trent may well point fingers at the side that didn't," he began, using the M-word despite Ives' objection to its use on morale grounds. Ducote obviously hadn't been there at the time, and preferred to call a spade a spade at the best of times. "Theurgy-natives might reasonably point at the Bellerophon crew - their arrival was not exactly smooth. There might be some latent resentment from the Resolve contingent after the Starbase 84 event, and they took action now that things were calm. One of the Morali cult might have managed to slip through the net bearing a grudge and have tried to clear the way for the man's promotion or something. There's even the outside chance that it's someone from Aldea somehow - the reports out of him in that regard have been... light. I'm not impartial, but I at least know the Endeavour officers very well and can at least provisionally count them out... unless of course the investigation implicates them.

"But until we know who it is, telling the wider crew that Trent was killed could rip it apart. There are too many factions among it, despite working under a common banner more recently. I'm sure you can appreciate that the Bellerophon crew in particular prefer to stick together at the moment - mere social mechanics. It'll take time before everyone feels more 'Theurgy' than whichever ship they arrived from, and even then, those old bonds will necessarily be stronger. I don't want this crew to fracture along those lines."

The unspoken finishing line being that, not least of all, he didn't want to be the next one taking a kill-shot to the spine outside his quarters.

"If you have any disagreements or adjustments to all that, I would dearly love to hear them."
  • Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 09:18:49 PM by Top Hat
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
Evoras: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 10 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
Reply #5
[ Lt Cmdr Hathev | XO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Top Hat

Ducote seemed surprised that she would address the issue so openly -- or was it surprise that she had discovered his intentions in the first place? Did he think himself so unreadable to one of her profession?

His response matched her tone in lightness, a technique she was more than familiar with utilising and yet one she was unused to having turned back upon herself. She regarded him levelly, interest duly piqued; such delivery spoke to confidence and control, the subtle kind that need not protest its own existence. There was a quietness to it; this, of course, was why she herself favoured such an approach. She had not expected to see it reflected in Ducote. Curious.

'Had I considered myself to be so, I would not have made such a statement,' she said, her tone chilling slightly. 'Nevertheless I understand should you find such a comment from myself to be inadmissable.' Non-Vulcans did so love to apply their own emotional logics to her, seemingly deliberately incognisant of the fact that doing so was both unreasonable and meaningless. His following statements were issued with a carelessness that belied the steely warning in the words. The contents she could not argue with, of course; it was the intensity of the delivery, the pointedness with which he spoke, that she took umbrage with.

'I have no doubt as to your investigative abilities, to be sure,' she said carefully, lest her words become sharpened, 'I did not mean to suggest Seren's intelligence rendered him unable to committ any crime, only that to open official channels regarding the victim less than an hour before the murder would be uniquely illogical if he had any foreknowledge of the crime in question. Of course, I am certain you had reached such a conclusion yourself already, considering your greater experience in the matter.'

For a moment, they sat in silence, regarding each other coolly. Then: 'I take it you did not call me here to discuss the late Mr Trent's mental instability,' she said calmly. She had little interest in a battle of wills; they both had duties to attend to, and time enough had been wasted already.

On cue, Ducote crossed to the replicator, back left open to her much as the captain had done upon their first meeting, when Hathev had yet been something of a prisoner aboard the ship. Then, it had been a demonstration of trust; if it carried the same meaning now, she could extrapolate the likelihood that the Executive Officer, at least, did not currently harbour suspicions against her, despite his earlier warning.

When asked, she requested a coffee, rising to receive it as Ducote returned to his seat and listening to his concerns as he laid out the more pertinent reason for her presence in his office. She was pleased to discover he was already considering the impact of such an event on the disparate crews on board; although of course, it had been she who had requested this meeting, under different reasoning though it might have been, and there was no telling how long Ducote might have waited to arrange it had he been left to his own devices. Nevertheless, it was an important discussion to have, and she was glad of the opportunity for it, however it had been afforded.

She felt almost a flicker of amusement as Ducote effectively ruled out those from his own ship. 'Not that you are biased, of course,' she echoed, although not unkindly. She did not even disapprove of such methods; the crew of the Theurgy was too large to effectively consider all as suspects, and for efficiency's sake if nothing else it was beneficial to discount some. The assurance that he would re-evalute such judgement if necessary was all she required to accept the matter.

Truly, she did not envy him the task.

Nevertheless, she did not agree with all that he said. 'I do not believe it is either possible or beneficial to keep these events secret from the crew,' she said. 'If we wish to foster a sense of cohesion, and a sense of trust in the ship's command, secrecy will only damage both ventures. There are too many aboard this ship, too many who have already or will in future come into contact with the investigation, to ensure there will be no leaks. Indeed it may be possible that word of Mr Trent's death has already spead without your knowing.' Without knowledge of the crime, she could not offer exact probabilities, a fact that irked her; yet she would have to trust the commander would see her logic even without such proof.

'I would recommend reporting Mr Trent's death and the ensuing investigation, and offering enough details to be perceived as transparent on the matter. It is also essential that the manner of dissemination minimises friction; I would therefore suggest departmental meetings, that the information is shared in person and in gatherings large enough to encompass several subgroups. Obfuscation or distraction is advised, so long as it is not obvious in its intent.' She paused briefly, holding the First Officer's gaze. 'There is no ideal solution in this, I am aware. Yet the appearance of transparency is preferable, even should it put the cohesion of the crew at risk, over a loss of trust in command, especially so soon after the last. The former we can work to fix, the latter we would have far less recourse to amend.'
CPO Morgan Song - Engineering - Chief of Maintenance (V2) [Show/Hide]
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Re: Day 10 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
Reply #6
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | XO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] attn: @fiendfall 

"Not that you are biased, of course."

Ducote had to smile at that, and raised his coffee in salute to the fair rejoinder. He was biased in the Endeavour crew's favour - he loved them dearly - but he felt that his awareness of the fact also mostly negated it. He trusted that none of them had snapped and killed Trent through both practicality (few if any of them had spent long enough around him to reach such a drastic course of action) and experience (he knew them all very well, and none of them were murderers).

Unless, of course, one of them was. He might be heading the investigation team, but that didn't mean that he wouldn't follow things through to their conclusion - no matter who was discovered to be the culprit.

He listened carefully as she laid out her disagreement with the current secrecy. She had a fair point about the effect it might have on the crew's trust in the command team, and he hardly wanted to risk acting in a way that would inadvertently go against everything he was trying to achieve.

"Face to face is generally how I prefer to do things," he agreed, sipping his coffee. "My concern becomes one of timing. We don't know the murderer's motive at all yet; only guesses. Trent wasn't the easiest person to get along with, and even my brief meetings with him were enough to know that he'd fixated on his removal from post. But he was still Starfleet - still Theurgy. We're all supposed to be on the same side... but we're obviously not.

"I mostly just don't want to give whoever it is the excuse to step up their schedule, if they have a list of people they'd rather stopped living."

Still, the point about the ease of fixing the problems disclosure created stood well enough. No need to go off half-cocked, though. Measure twice, cut once, and all that. That said, Hathev's logic was obviously ironclad. He'd be a fool not to take her opinion on what the impact to the crew would be, and so he resolved that he would take her advice following the meeting.

The department heads were all cleared to know already, though as in Hathev's case not all of them had yet been told. He'd simply change the planned order of events and have larger meetings on a department-by-department basis.

"Security first, I think. Medical, Science..." he pondered, then sighed as something else occurred (somewhat belatedly). "I'll need to find a new Intelligence chief, too," he said, already drawing a mental list of potentials from the jackets he'd read so far. It was going to take him a while to get through them all on a crew this size, but he couldn't rely on Thea to act as PA the entire time.
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
Evoras: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 11 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
Reply #7
[ Lt Cmdr Hathev | XO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Top Hat

Her comment was taken in the spirit it was intended, the Commander accepting the ironic accuracy of her words. Touché. It marked the end of that particular exchange, and of the tension that had accompanied it, for which Hathev was grateful. She had no desire to antagonise the First Officer of the ship, and although she had emphatically not requested this meeting with the intention of judging the Commander for herself, it would be remiss of her to ignore such an opportunity. Thus it was gratifying to see he was in possession of a certain amount of self-awareness.

Even more pleasing to discover was his willingness to listen to her expertise on the matter. She had only worked with him in any great detail on one occasion, during the interrogation of Doctor Nicander, and at that time their interaction had been brief indeed. Her impression had been of a man whose intelligence was bent to unfailing practicality, with perhaps an overly-dogged dedication to such pragmatism, yet who was nevertheless willing to not only listen to the advice of others but change his own course to reflect such advice.

Of course, it had not been solely Hathev who had advocated for clemency on the doctor's behalf. Commander Tyre had been of her mind on that matter, and his own position as a former colleague of Ducote's when on board the Endeavour had introduced the question as to whether Ducote would have been as willing to listen had it been only Hathev -- or any other not of the Endeavour -- who had advocated for such a course. It was clear that the Commander clearly placed a great amount of trust and weight upon those with whom he was already familiar; thus it had been unclear whether he would extend similar courtesies to those with whom he did not already have such a rapport.

Such questions were now answered, as Ducote gave her advice on the current matter due consideration. Indeed his first words were of agreement, and his next spoke of an acceptance and desire to reach an agreeable solution that reconciled both his and her expertise.

His own, which was not insignificant. Hathev had of course been more than aware that Commander Ducote's background lay, at least in part, with Security; even had she not been aware of that fact from his file, his deportment during the interrogation had made his erstwhile connections obvious. Despite this, the extent of his professional acumen in this area had been unconfirmed; after all, he had not occupied the role since the incident at Starbase 147, and he had served in multiple departments in his relatively short career. How much skill one could have at any one in particular when one attempted so many was, understandably, limited.

Nevertheless, the implications of his words -- that this murder might not be the isolated incident she had assumed -- revealed an experience and forethought that was both commendable and somewhat disturbing. It was an eventuality she had not even thought to consider; that Ducote could discuss it so off-hand spoke to a closeness with such things that was distasteful to contemplate.

She herself would not have made a good Security officer, a fact that held neither surprise nor disappointment for her. From what Ducote had thus far revealed of his thoughts on the murder, indirect though such revelations might have been, she came to understand that he was at this stage completely unable to rule out any possible explanation or sequence, or at the very least the number of theories he had been able to discard were vastly and immeasurably outnumbered by those which he yet had to hold in his mind as potentially true. The term 'Schrödinger's cat' came to mind, and yet in truth it would be more accurate to imagine an army of such felines, as numerous as the souls aboard this vessel, each existing in multiple states of flux and possibility simultaneously.

It was, in a word, chaotic.  And while Hathev was used to a certain amount of chaos in her own field, emotional logics being tangled and complex at the best of times, she at least could predict various possible outcomes with, on most occasions, pinpoint accuracy. The time required to run similar computations on the question now facing Ducote would render the very act inefficient and wasteful.

Fortunate indeed that this was not hers to unravel.

Thus she was more than content to remain within her own remit. With regards to possible future attacks, then: 'I can only assume your knowledge of criminal psychology surpasses my own,' she began. Her own studies of criminal psychology had been limited primarily to recognition and prevention, and as it was not a subject of academic interest to her she had not pursued the topic further. As such it would be faulty of her not to acknowledge the potential for Ducote to possess superior expertise in the matter, considering his position both as former Security officer and as a telepath. Nevertheless she would, of course, offer what assistance she could.

'From my understanding rapid escalation of timeline would only occur as a result of desperation, a need to complete the task driven either by psychological destabilisation or by a fear of imminent discovery, or both.' She folded her hands neatly around her coffee mug, warming the ends of her fingertips against the container. 'So long as neither condition is met, the culprit would continue to follow their original plans. The discovery of and investigation into this killing would no doubt be accounted for in that plan; indeed an appearance of transparency might slow any potential timeline, or at least encourage adherence to it, if the killer can be led to believe that the investigation is likely to fail in some way.'

She paused for a moment, considering the options. 'Perhaps a certain amount of misdirection would be prudent. An omission of certain details, particularly the circumstances surrounding the death, perhaps; it could be announced merely as an occurrence without any further clarification.'

A compromise, of sorts. She would hardly advocate for complete transparency in matters such as these; the directive was for honesty, not completeness.
  • Last Edit: December 21, 2019, 04:01:05 PM by fiendfall
CPO Morgan Song - Engineering - Chief of Maintenance (V2) [Show/Hide]
Lt Cmdr Hathev - Counselling - Chief Counsellor [Show/Hide]
Ensign Inej 'Avi' Avirim - Security - Investigations Officer [Show/Hide]
Xelia - Civillian - Software Engineer [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 11 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
Reply #8
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | XO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] attn: @fiendfall 

"I can only assume your knowledge of criminal psychology surpasses my own..."

Ducote had to look at her carefully at that. Vulcans being deadpan as they were, he was hard-pressed to tell if that was supposed to be a flat statement, sarcasm, or another light-hearted jibe in the vein of her earlier comment about his bias regarding the Endeavour crew. He decided that it was probably meant as read, even if he might disagree. There was specialism thanks to his somewhat unconventional career path, of course, but she still had decades in the psychological profession on him in general terms.

Still, for all her professed lack of expertise, she had the measure of it. Perhaps his objection lay mostly in his paranoia... the chances of there being an actual serial killer among the crew was quite small, because anyone that harboured such ill will towards their colleagues and living mates would be rooted out in short order (in theory) by the counsellors and given the treatment they obviously required.

My kingdom for a Personnel pool.

Hathev did raise the point that they might well simply only publicly tell of Trent's death and leave the rest untold. Indeed, until the investigation was complete there was little to tell regardless. He sighed as he took another sip of coffee.

"... it could be announced merely as an occurrence without any further clarification."

Ducote nodded. "It could indeed... but I'd rather a compromise I think. Given that none of the department heads-" Well, except the man himself, "-were anywhere near deck ten at the time of death, we can safely rule them out as the murderer. They're cleared to know the full circumstances and I'll keep them appraised of the details. But I'll ask that the general staff know only the bones of it; that he was found dead late this morning outside his quarters.

"It's unavoidable for the murderer to know that we're investigating - a phaser set to kill leaves a fairly obvious mark, after all - but they don't need to know how far along we are, as you say."

There were many threads of potential inquiry swirling in his mind at the moment, though some of them were already braiding into stronger lines as new information came in. He preferred it when the others fell away completely... but there were rarely cases so clean.

"Ah, foda me," he muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose. He hadn't even gotten to what they'd actually do with the bastard once they'd been found. The same problem he'd worried about with Trent, only worse. They couldn't get rid of them by palming them off on the nearest JAG, they couldn't replace them with a new crewman... the brig was fine for temporary holding, but a (semi) permanent prison it was not.

'Future Ranaan's Problem' pile, that one, he tried to dismiss it. There were still too many ways the whole thing could go wrong before he spent any excess effort on planning the perpetrator's incarceration. 
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
Evoras: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 11 [1258 hrs.] With Malice Aforethought
Reply #9
[ Lt Cmdr Hathev | XO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Top Hat

She was pleased with the end resolution of the matter, Ducote seemingly content to compromise and take her own advice under consideration. The solution was a reasonable one: department heads were often privy to information not made public to their subordinates, and as none of them were suspects in this matter a free flow of information between parties was the most efficient route. Should any of them have noticed something out of the ordinary they might in turn have information to offer the investigation.

'A sensible course,' she said, inclining her head slightly in agreement. For a moment, Ducote sat in silence, focused thought writ clear upon his face, and then-- So it was not only Miss Tiran who was partial to impolite language. The realisation was accompanied by an unreasonable sensation of fondness towards the woman, absent though she may have been; nevertheless it was clear such an utterance had been motivated by exhaustion rather than whatever reasoning Tiran might have (and truly, Hathev had yet to discern any logic behind the woman's preferred lexicon).

For his part, Ducote wore the expression of tiredness she had become accustomed to seeing upon his countenance even in their few meetings, as it seemed to have made its permanent home in the lines of his face. She had heard of his arrival upon the Theurgy, of course, and although she knew little of his desperate flight from the Endeavour, she knew enough to understand that the man had, most likely, been fighting exhaustion for some time.

The shadow that passed over him now seemed particularly heavy -- a fact for which she could hardly blame him, considering the complexities of the situation and impossibility of a fully-satisfactory resolution -- however it remained only temporarily, the man exerting no small effort upon himself that he might control the impulse to exhaustion. Hathev approved of his endeavours.

'I am at your disposal, Commander,' she said. Had any counselling patient displayed warning signs of violence, she would have been notified; nevertheless she would be performing a full sweep of all potential risks. Should she discover anything pertinent, she would forward the profile to Ducote.

In the meantime, he had made it clear that his initial instinct was to search for the culprit amongst the ranks of her erstwhile crewmates, and she in turn could hardly fault the logic of that impulse. She had, of course, personally interviewed all survivors from the Bellerophon in the early days of their integration into the crew of the Theurgy; at the time she had identified no causes for concern, yet admittedly her primary concern had been the wellbeing of such individuals rather than analysis of behaviour.

Nevertheless, if such information could be of any use to the commander, she was more than willing to offer it.

--FIN
CPO Morgan Song - Engineering - Chief of Maintenance (V2) [Show/Hide]
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