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Honesty Begets Justice

Posted on Sun Feb 10th, 2019 @ 9:13am by Lieutenant T'sa & Captain James McCullen

Mission: Reactivation
Location: Providence Station
Timeline: MD02 | 01100 Hours

McCullen had his head down, buried in one of the half-dozen engineering reports he had on his desk. It was dry stuff, a briefing on the tolerances of the new injectors the shipyard was installing and a technical document about adjustments to the same said injectors. He wasn't an engineer, far from it, but as captain he was expected to know something about every part of his ship, and so here he was, reading a report about injectors and trying to absorb it as quickly as he could. He looked up as his door chimed, calling "Enter," and setting the padd down.

She'd taken the time to brush down her uniform, and straighten the wrap she wore, despite how frivolous both those details ultimately were. It had been drilled into her, during all her training and years as an assistant diplomat, that appearance can be incredibly important, regardless of how superficial it regularly was. The ritual of seeking out the Captain was one she'd become overly familiar with. If she was to complain, which she never would simply for the sake of complaining, about how the Chief Diplomat on her previous posting had used her as a courier for PADDs, she's sure it would explain most of her distaste at having lower ranking officers do her 'grunt work' so to speak, and why she was so familiar with seeking out people like a bloodhound. But, she was getting off track.

She stepped through the threshold of the doorway, nodding politely to McCullen "Captain," She began, taking a seat "I need to speak with you on-" she paused in the middle of her sentence, which was uncharacteristic of her. There were two things she needed to speak with him about, after all "about two matters"

"Whatever it is has to be more interesting than technical reports, what's on your mind, Lieutenant?" The captain asked, pushing himself up from his chair and grimacing slightly at the stiffness in his legs, he had been sitting for far too long, "and would you like something to drink?"

"Black Tea, thank you" It would help calm her mind - not to say that her mind was all over the place, but it was less structured at the moment then she would like. She'd developed a taste for black tea, a historically Human tea that had actually become quite popular on Vulcan.

"As for 'what's on my mind', it involves the members of the crew that," she paused to find the right word "passed when attempting to establish control of the Sentinel"

"I'd planned to confront command about several errors in judgement that lead to their unnecessary sacrifice," She'd worked with humans for years, her word choice was deliberate. Sacrifice was an accurate assessment of what they had done, but the praise and gentle language were intended to dance around arousing painful emotions "but I thought it would be better to receive your approval before I pursed the matter further"

"Two black teas, one with milk." McCullen requested after listening to T'sa. The short wait for the drinks to replicate, bringing them to the desk and setting them down gave him space to think about his response. Privately, he had already made his feelings about the mission they were assigned quite clear to his superiors and generally he would have instructed an officer under his command to go through the chain, but as a diplomat, T'sa had special privileges and more access to higher command than most non-command level officers.

"You have that right," he eventually told her as he sat back down, deliberately locking eyes with the woman. He had a feeling that the errors in judgment she was talking about were his errors, and that was painful. It felt to the captain like a kind of betrayal, even if rationally it wasn't anything of the sort. Officers had the right, some would even argue the obligation to highlight and report the failings of their superiors, that errors may be corrected and lessons learned. Still, it hurt that she had chosen to do so, even if he did have his own regrets about the choices he made. It was possible that better decision making could have kept both of the deceased officers alive, that was something he had thought about at length in the wee small hours of the night, but the reality was that the decisions had been made and the officers had paid the price, there was no going back and all he could do was look forward and try to be better.

Sipping at his tea, the captain did his best to set aside his personal feelings and focus on the official procedure. "I assume your complaint is about my judgment, leading to the deaths of Commander Logan and Ensign Ashwith aboard the Aberdeen. In that case, you had no need to seek my approval, but thank you anyway for the consideration, Lieutenant T'sa."

"It wasn't you, Captain," She took the tea gingerly "for the record I believe you made the best decisions you could under the circumstances, and Commander Logan and Ensign Ashwith knew the risks," she took a sip, testing the heat "but as much as I believe this to be true, future officers deserve better than that"

"The contents of the file would be directed more towards the authority that authorized the mission, and the officials that rushed the request, which resulted in subpar preparation and a crew that was ultimately unprepared for the type of mission they were agreeing to undertake" She felt almost inspired by his professionalism. He assumed the complaint centred around him, which pointed to how he felt about the entire situation, and instead of reacting with hostility, he respected her rights in the matter.

"I understand your daughter was commanding the vessel responsible for our escape," She took another sip of the tea, gearing up for a small tangent "If I had died on that mission, whether due to a lack of training or a lack of resources, I never would have been able to see my daughter again. I would have died without ever communicating to her how much she means to me" She seemed distant as she reflected on this.

"If you're willing to indulge a moment of complete sincerity," She placed her cup down gently "the thought of that terrifies me" she spoke without a hint of emotion, straightening her shoulders "but I digress"

McCullen remembered the gut clenching fear of his daughter being in danger and for a moment, forced himself to imagine what he would feel, what he would do if something had happened... and couldn't finish, a very real shudder ran through him.

He also thought of Commander Hope's young child, who would now grow up without a mother and perhaps never understand what had happened. Would perhaps blame him for his mother's death.

"I don't disagree with you, lieutenant." He replied, his voice affected by the emotion of his thoughts. "I've already made my thoughts on the matter clear to the admiralty and they are very much aligned with yours, I think. Feel free to submit your complaint and you'll have my full backing."

"Thank you, Captain" She nodded professionally. She'd worked under incompetent superiors before, some of who significantly stalled her career progression, either intentionally or by pure negligence. She'd made a promise to herself never to work under people like that again. McCullen didn't seem the type. He was professional, from what she had experience up to this point, which put her at ease.

"The other matter I needed to discuss with you is something regarding my own actions" She shifted in her seat, taking another drink of her tea calmly "If you choose to dismiss me outright or not is your prerogative, and I will respect either decision"

"It is regarding the Orion prisoner that perished in our custody"

James frowned slightly, as far as he was concerned the Orion had committed suicide. It was a common practice, as far as he had learned from his research, but if T'sa was concerned enough to suggest dismissal it had to be serious. He didn't want to lose his diplomatic officer. "Go ahead, Lieutenant," he prompted, leaning forward slightly.

"During the interrogation," She set her cup down again "I threatened to perform a mind meld on him unless he shared the information we required of him" It was one of the highest taboos in Vulcan society, and even more so feared by non-telepathic races. What disturbed her, was that it was one of her first reactions to meeting defiance.

"I had no intentions of performing one, and I never probed his mind in any way, but, at the same time, he believed I would have if he hadn't complied."

It was up to the Captain to decide if what she had done was called for or not, if the situation was dire enough that the information she and Lt. K'var were able to extract justified the means used to extract it.

Oh, that was another matter "Lt. K'var did not encourage or discourage me from threatening the meld, but she had no active part in it"

McCullen sat for a moment, feeling somewhat relieved and slightly confused as to why T'sa saw the issue as a possible cause for dismissal. He didn't quite understand the problem, the threat of a mind-meld was just that, a threat, an interrogation tactic and he saw nothing wrong with it. whatsoever, But clearly she took it seriously, so he wouldn't dismiss it out of hand.

"The situation was critical," he began, fixing his eyes upon T'sa and doing his utmost to apply logic to the situation, always a risky venture when talking with a Vulcan. "You took a calculated risk and did what needed to be done for the greater good. The threat of a mind-meld was, in my opinion, an entirely justifiable interrogation tactic which produced the results we needed. As for whether you would have actually gone through with the meld, that's academic, and a matter for your own conscience to sort out. I have no intention of dismissing you for something you might have done, or for acting in the best interests of the ship and her crew."

She feels her brows lift in pleasant surprise "I see" She was grateful, of course, she was "Thank you, Captain"

He applied to her own sensibilities like she would have done, and she appreciates it. The bottom of the teacup is a strange sight, she hadn't realized how much of it she had actually been drinking until now.

"If I may ask," She set it down again, permanently "You may not feel I have done anything wrong, but I would request that you not share this with anyone else" It was a matter of pride, but she would never, ever, admit to this fact.

That was easy, the captain considered the second half of the conversation a private one and even if he had been inclined to do so, regulation prohibited him from sharing it with anyone without her consent. "I may discuss your complaint to command with Lieutenant Commander Bast, and likely with command, too." He told her, "but your personal concerns regarding the Orion are a private matter, and they will stay private."

"Thank you," She said again, standing from her seat "that was all I wanted to discuss" What was the human expression? A weight being lifted off of one's person? That was what it felt like "I won't interrupt you any further"

McCullen stood with her, "thank you for coming to me first," he responded, the captain had a feeling that he'd gotten to know his diplomatic officer just a little better, to understand her dedication to fairness and honesty. "And for your honesty."

She inclined her head towards him, with the closest thing to a smile you would expect of her "Naturally"

"Captain" She nodded in goodbye, and turned, once again stepping through the threshold. Back to work, then.


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