Go to Prologue
Kacey stopped long enough outside the Ready Room to ring the announcement bell.
"Pardon the intrusion Captain. We had a situation in the Hanger this morning that you need to be aware of.
"What sort of situation?"
"This sort of situation"." She placed the computer on Kate's desk and started it up. "Computer replay interview with Private Hasting."
The computer hesitated for a second before replaying the interview. Kate and Kacey watched the video without speaking until it finished.
"Any video of the Hanger where this happened?"
"Yes there are no blind spots in the Hanger. Computer bring up the video from hanger cameras six, eight, fifteen and sixteen. From zero eight hundred hours to ten hundred hours fifteen minutes."
The computer took a few seconds to access the information. They watched the scene play out. Kacey narrated the video, pointing out the players in the drama that was enfolding before their eyes.
"There is Private Hastings. Here comes Sergeant Castor. See how close he is standing to her and how she keeps backing away? Now the hands. She definitely did nothing to encourage him. Computer show us camera eight. This is the same scene but from another view. Computer show us video from camera fifteen from ten hundred hours."
They watched the Private enter the door in the back. A few minutes later they saw her return. Watched as the Sergeant reached out and grabbed her arm and force her into the corner behind the tool boxes. They watched her push him away. Saw him slap her and pin her arms above her head. Watched as the rest of the video play out just as the Private stated.
"Turn it off Kacey, I have seen enough. HOW THE HELL DID THIS... THIS ANIMAL GET ON THIS SHIP? YOU WERE RESPONSIBILE FOR VETTING ALL YOUR PEOPLE. TELL ME HOW DID YOU MISS THIS?" Kate yelled.
"I DID MY JOB..." Kacey yelled back.
"OBVIOUSLY NOT WELL ENOUGH, COLONEL" Kate argued.
"NOW WAIT A DAMN MINUTE." Kacey fought back.
"DO YOU REALIZE WE HAVE A POTENTIAL RAPIST ON BOARD? ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE YOU. THIS MAN SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO BE IN A CLOSED ENVIROMENT AS THIS SHIP."
"SO YOU ARE ACCUSING ME OF DERELICTION OF DUTY? GOD DAMN IT KATE." Kacey argued.
"WHAT IN HELL WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND TO LET HIM INTO THIS ENVIRONMENT?"
"I DID NOT LET HIM ONTO THE SHIP. HE WAS NOT ONE OF MY CHOICES."
"WELL HE IS HERE NOW ISN'T HE. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? HOW DID HE FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS?" Kate demanded.
"GIVE ME SOME GOD DAMN CREDIT KATE. I HAD NO CHOICE. I WAS ORDERED TO TAKE HIM. THE ORDER CAME FROM GENERAL EDEN. I FOUGHT HIS PLACEMENT ALL THE WAS TO GENERAL MILLHOUSE AND ADMIRAL TACHER. I WAS TOLD TO TAKE HIM AND NOT ASK QUESTIONS."
"WELL IT LOOKS LIKE WE HAVE QUITE THE PROBLEM ON OUR HANDS THANKS TO THE BRASS. THESE VIDEOS SHOW NOT ONLY SEXUAL HARASSMENT, BUT PHYSICAL ASSAULT AS WELL." Kate stopped to gain control of her temper as did Kacey. "Do you think her would have raped her if he had not been stopped?" Kate asked.
"It would only be my opinion, Kate and would not hold up in any court."
"THAT IS TOTAL BULL SHIT COLONEL." Kate's voice raise again. She stood and placed her hands on the desk. She leaned forward. I AM ONLY ASKING FOR YOUR GOD DAMN OPINION, NOT WHAT WOULD STAND UP AND COURT."
"MY OPINION AND I WANT TO MAKE IT VERY CLEAR THAT THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION, YES I THINK HE WOULD HAVE RAPED HER. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED TO HEAR?" Kacey's voice matched Kate's in volume.
They both had to take deep breaths before they could continue. Kate walked to the window and look out at the stars. She was silent for a minute. Kacey watched Kate's back.
"Had he been drinking?" Kate ask in a normal tone as she turned from the window.
" I did not smell any alcohol on him."
Kate took a deep breath before continuing. "Where is the Sergeant now?"
"Confined to his quarters. Only Captain Taggart knows the code to let him out."
"I would rather he was placed in the Brig. You will make that happen Colonel." Kate ordered.
"What about the other two you were forced to take. Anything that I should know about. Do we have a couple serial killers on board also?"
"THAT IS NOT FAIR KATE." Kacey yelled.
"LIFE IS NOT FAIR KACEY. GET USED TO IT. NOW WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER TWO?"
"Minor stuff, Captain. Joy riding in stolen speeders. Destroying private property. They are General Eden's nephews. They were given the choice to sign up for four years to go on this mission or spend a few years in prison. They chose to sign up. So far they are model soldiers. No problems what so ever. They are trying."
"I want to know if they step out of line. I mean one toe out of line, Colonel."
"Yes Captain. If there is nothing else Captain, I have a report to write." Kacey said tersely.
"That is all Colonel." Kacey saluted, which irked Kate because she knew it was a last sarcastic parting shot. Kacey left the ready room. Liam entered before the door closed. Kate remained at the window.
"Glad you two lasses are done yelling at each other." Liam said with a smile. "I have not heard such fine cussing in a long time. You mother would wash both your mouths out with soap if she heard."
"This room is supposed to be soundproofed." Kate stated.
"No one heard it but me. I was expecting some sort of dust up after I saw Kacey's face when she stepped on the Bridge. What is going on Katie?"
"See for yourself." Kate turned the computer on, then turned back to the window. She had always like looking at the stars. They calmed her when the tensions of the day became too much.
Kacey sat at her computer. She stared at the report before her. She never had problems writing reports, but something Kate had said was weighing on her mind. Was Kate right? Was she derelict in her duty? Could she have fought harder against taking the Sergeant on board? Was there anything she could have done differently?
She pushed away from the desk and walked to the window where she stared out at the stars. She ran her hands through her short dark hair as she felt the headache start. She still had three hours left to her duty shift.
"I think this calls for an early day." Kacey said to herself. "Schedules are set for the test flights to begin tomorrow. Crew rotations have been done." She sighed. " Come on Kacey get your ass in gear, finish the damn report." She returned to her desk finished the report and sent it to Kate.
"Time sign off duty, return to my quarters, have a stiff drink and loose myself in something pleasurable." She logged off, turned the computer off and left her office.
To be continued...
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