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JPL: Counselor N'Tazzia, First Lt. McMillian, Malino, Lt. Commander A'lthere (played by Holden)
As we were ending the last sim, Peter, Matthew and Malino had arrived at starfleet and Lt. Commander A'lthere had escorted them to an interview room. After being Informed that the interview was being recorded the Malino was handed a padd which showed clearly that he deliberately crashed the shuttle into the other cadets shuttle. Now we continue with the story.
~~Just tell the truth sweetheart.~~ Taz sent telepathically.
Malino sensed his mother and looked the man dead in the eye. "Sir, I swear who who who it's like I said, I was flying in thruster mode. the exercise was in basic maneuvering skills. I pressed a button on my console which triggered some kind of lock down. The ship went into auto pilot and crashed into the other cadets shuttle. I supposed what i pressed could have been the auto pilot button but i swaer to sir i did try to stop the shuttle. To be honest sir i was lucky i got away unharmed. As i tried to regain control of the shuttle i damaged it. I dont know or why my shuttle crashed into the other cadet's shuttle sir who who who."
Lt. Intenuar stood alongside Taz, quietly watching the proceedings. He leaned over to Taz and said quietly, "I would love to get a look at the shuttle's systems."
Taz could tell by Malino's hyper "who who who" that the circumstances were starting to get to him and she wanted to comfort her son with more than the single encouraging thought she had already sent but knew he needed to handle A'lthere's interrogation on his own. He was an adult in the eyes of this tribunal, even though when Taz closed her eyes she could clearly see and feel the tiny Liomon drop from the tree into her arms with a plop.
"It would be a good time to go poke around, while everyone is occupied that is. I'll stay here and wait to see if they need me for anything but be my guest if you'd like to see what you can learn." She whispered to Intenuar. The Haslier officer gave her a simple nod and slipped out of the room.
Malino, still scared, started his monkey howl even more. "Who-who-who…€… Sir, it was my first real test…€… who-who-who…€… and I'm not gonna lie, I was seriously nervous... wh- who-who…€… I thought I was increasing thruster power to make a turn around the planet, who-who-who. I was trying to impress my instructors and honestly I wanted to impress my mom and dad too. Who-who. The controls are close together so that's why I said might have accidentally hit autopilot by mistake sir who who who.”
Peter could tell his son was terrified and he really wanted to snap this interrogator in half. However his captain told him to try to keep his cool so he tried his best to contain his anger and let Matthew deal with him.
Lt. Commander A'lthere glanced quickly to the lawyer. He was certain the man knew just how much his client had just incriminated himself. Even accidentally, the Liomon caused the death of another cadet and could be charged with manslaughter. Looking back to Malino, he asked, “Why don't you tell me about your relationship with Cadet Withoo.”
~~Mother this guy is really scaring me. I don't wanna go to jail and Dad looks like he's about snap.~~
Taz was glad Malino couldn't see the glint of tears in her eyes. She steeled her nerves and sent him comforting -- and motherly --thoughts
~~Everything will be okay Malino, we're here for you. We love you. It's Cmdr A'there's job to make you doubt yourself, but you are smart and you've flown other shuttlecraft before. I know you knew what you were doing up there. Think back and see yourself in that cockpit and watch yourself operate the controls. Then, just take a couple of deep breaths before you answer any more questions. And don't worry about your dad, I'll have a chat with him.~~ She tried to project a sincere smile into her "voice".
Immediately Taz switched tones, she wanted to be firm this time, still calm but firm.
~~Peter McMillian, please think of our son before you shoot off your mouth. I think he's at least as worried about what you might do as he is about Commander A'lthere's questions. Try to be patient and let him handle the situation. We did a good job raising him. He will be fine.~~
Taz hoped she had been convincing in her speech to her ex-husband. She missed having Michael's calming presence by her side.
~~Taz I am! Why do you think I haven't strangled this guys neck yet? Besides, your husband ordered me to play cool I'm trying but this guy is an idiot. And, you should hear our son hes doin' you and me proud i think.~~
Malino could tell he had just incriminated himself but he was firm in his beliefs. He also looked to his father and still sensed his mother in the area. Knowing they were both close by gave him a boost in confidence. So he spoke clearly and without fear. “Sir I didn't know Withoo all that well. Just met him this week 'cause of the exercise. However sir I need you to understand something. My father, right here next to me, is a Starfleet officer and my mother, who I am sensing in the other room, is a Starfleet counselor. They raised me to be honest and to own up to the things that do, even my mistakes. That's why I said that I might have made a mistake -- I don't think I made one, but it's possible.. I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to hide something. That being said sir. I have no ill will towards anyone and even though my Liomon heritage makes me a warrior, I would never intentionally kill anyone out of anger or jealousy. My parents raised me better than that. Cadet Withoo's death will haunt me till the day I die and no matter what the records show, I did not and would not however crash into his shuttle on purpose. Someone or something must have messed with my ship.”
Stepping in, Matthew said, “Commander A'lthere, Mr. McMillian has answered all your questions fully and truthfully, now as his lawyer I must insist that you either charge him with a crime or let us go home. The fact that he was honest enough to admit the truth that he was nervous and scared and might have pushed the wrong button should show you the kind of integrity the McMillian family has.”
A'lthere turned an angry glare toward Matthew. He took a long moment, measuring his words carefully before speaking. “Counselor. Your client has already been charged with the wrongful death of another cadet. By all military rights, and make no mistake, this is a military matter, I could cuff your client and place him back in the brig until the court-martial. However, I have released him into his parent's custody out of respect for said parents. And…€… believe it or not, I do believe what Cadet McMillian says is true. He, at least, did not intentionally alter the course of his shuttle to cause the collision. However, he did admit to touching a control he was not certain of its purpose. Despite what you think, or from his body language, what Lt. McMillian thinks of me, I am trying to do a thorough investigation here. But, if you insist, I will simply escort Cadet McMillian back to the brig and he will then allow the court-martial to render the decision.”
This was going from bad to worse and Taz was being forced to watch. No wonder Matthew and Peter get along so well, they're cut from the same hot-headed cloth. She thought. Malino is at least as careful as he is honest. Knowing that as well I do, what happened here? Did one of Peter's "enemies" decide to take things out of their son? Was there some undiscovered branch of the Purist movement still operating and looking to disgrace Malino? Taz tried to work through each possible scenario, dismissing each one as she did so.
Wait a minute! Taz suddenly thought back a few years, when Malino was at James T. Kirk Academy Preparatory. He had been dealing with two nasty bullies and had lost his temper when one of them had made rude comments about Malinda. The resulting fight had been a serious one in which Malino severely injured one of the other boys. Malino had been expelled and had run away in shame. Could one of those bullies have returned for a more satisfying revenge?
Had Peter and Matthew thought of that incident when preparing Malino's defense? Had Kyle or Jhonny set this entire tragedy in motion?
“Mr. Bradley,” Malino said. “it's okay. I'm not sure what more Commander A'lthere needs, but shouldn't we give him whatever he wants. I know i'm not guilty of anything malicious and he really is just trying to do his job. it's unfortunate that its at my expense. Dad if something like his happened on the excelsior would you not be doin and asking the same questions.
Peter looked like he was about to protest but then said, "You're right.”
Matthew looked at the A'lthere and said, "It seems my client wishes to stay but if you continue to push my client who has told you numerious times that he believes his shuttle was compromised. Then were leaving regardless of your needs. I'm not tryin to sound angry or mean its just my job to protect my client but you are being very forcefull with your questions. If you do it again regardless of what you want im taking my client out of here. Understood?”
“Here's what I now understand, Counselor,” A'lthere said, grabbing his PADDs and rising. “I'm done with all of you now. You think I was difficult, wait until the prosecutor at the court-martial starts on your client. You may take him home, and he will be notified of the court-martial date. Also, he will be considered under house arrest. Good day, Gentlemen.” He immediately left the interview room.