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Question and Answer
Summary: Sergeant Castus of the New Luna Militia talks to two of the survivors of the recently wrecked ship, the Azure. Divergent opinions show the true difference between both parties.
Cast: Lucius, Jeff Ryan, Elandra & Captain Bob.
Air Date: 3007.04.30


Medbay <Hancock Station>


This brightly-lit bay is cordoned off into four main sections: the waiting area, the operating room, the semi-private rooms for the bed-ridden, and the checkup room. While nowhere near state of the art, the medbay is more than servicable and extremely clean, even if the magazines are several years old. A set of double doors lead out to the Residence Deck.


The pregnant woman has been sequestered to a private room guarded by soldiers. She is currently abed, tired from all the tests that have only recently ended.


Lucius is not the paragon of proper military bureaucracy as he walks into the woman's room, the guards nodding him through. No, on the contrary, the soldier looks rough and tumble, as if he just came off duty. He smiles at the bed-bound woman. "Hello, Miss. How're you feeling today?"


Eyes widening at the sight of a visitor, the young woman pulls the bedsheets to cover herself up to the chin. She does not answer, simply staring at Lucius with evident fear.


"Listen, I'm not conducting tests on you. I'm only here to talk.. I don't even know your name. I'm just a simple man, probably like you're a simple woman. So.. shall we talk then?" Lucius's eyebrows arch expectantly as he takes a seat, pulling his rifle free and leaving it with one of the guards so that it's not present anymore.


The girl just stares, watching Lucius warily.


Jeff Ryan walks into the room carrying a clip-board. He glances between the woman and lucius, "Evening sergeant."


"Evening, sir." Lucius doesn't rise from his seat to salute him, perhaps thinking this wouldn't be the best idea at the time. He turns back to the woman, his ice blue eyes making contact with hers and holding it. "Can I get you anything, then? Water, food? Something you like to make you a bit more comfortable? We're here to help you.. we took you off that hulk of a ship before you could get rad poisioning from the reactor burst, remember?"


The girl turns to narrow her eyes at Ryan, then looks back at Lucius. "I... I want to go home. When will the ship be fixed? Where is Captain Bob?"


"Your ship's beyond repair, but we're going to take you home very soon. We just need to make the arrangements with the La Terran government so that it can be done without any incidents. Nobody needs any more of that." Lucius replies, voice soft and calm. "Captain Bob's in his room in the Guest Quarters at the moment, I think."


"I want to go home," the girl repeats stubbornly. "I want to see Captain Bob and go home." Fear is beginning to get gradually replaced with anger. "I don't understand why we're not already somewhere else."


"Because your government hasn't contacted us about you, and you're diplomats, supposedly. If you tell us something about you.. your name, for starters, we could help get you back. All we want to do is get you on your way." Lucius replies, just as evenly and calmly as before.


The girl frowns. "They don't know where we are. That was the point. That way we would not get attacked, but some pirates found us anyway," she explains.


"Well, then we'll have to contact them. What's your name, Miss?" Lucius asks, tilting his head.

"What's /yours/?" she counters defiantly.


Lucius doesn't seem preturbed by the woman's mind games. "Sergeant First Class Lucius Tullius Castus. How about you?"


Another frown. "Elandra," she answers. "Now take me home."


"Elandra, we can't just take you home like that. That's not how it works, especially since your government just completed a coup and martial law encompasses the Ra system." Lucius shakes his head, his expression remaining as cheerful as it had a minute earlier. "What's your purpose on the ship?"


"It is actually quite simple, I'm sure. You let them know I am here and then get me on a ship that takes me there," Elandra points out. "You are making this harder on purpose because you do not like the way my husband does things. I am telling you to let me go. I am not a prisoner. If you continue to keep me here, I will consider this a kidnapping and so will my husband. My purpose on that ship was to be taken to La Terre, a goal I don't see you eager to help with."


"I'm ambivalent about your husband, if you want me to be perfectly honest. I don't give a shit about his politics. Nor do I decide when you do or don't leave, I'm hear to find out where you're coming from and what exactly you were doing when you supposedly got ambushed." Lucius says, his eyes narrowing slightly and a frown taking its place on his lips. "I'll pass up what you're telling me to my superior."


"You cuffed the captain of my ship, bring me here and test me against my will, treat us like criminals instead of refugees," Elandra lists. "If what you want is answers, you should have thought ahead when you decided to treat us like garbage. The ship, if you must know, left my home, made several stops under the guise of a trading vessel and was meant to stop in New Luna before finally heading to La Terre."


"We cuffed him and then uncuffed him. He's in a comfortable guest quarters eating good food. I don't know why you were tested, but you were, and I apologize for the uncomfortableness it bestowed." Lucius listens to Elandra's list furthermore without saying a thing. When she's completely done, though, he says, "Your Captain made the mistake of claiming you were a diplomatic vessel. Without markings. Since you just admitted to being under disguise for whatever reason, you can't expect us to have treated you as such. Especially when you were being difficult. We rescued you, but this /is/ a military installation. It's part of security procedures to treat those coming off as we did, especially given the suspiciousness of the situation."


"Difficult?" Elandra's eyes now fly wide in anger. "We did everything you asked. We did not offer any threat. You told the captain to kneel and put his hands behind his back. Are you telling me that's standard procedure here? Then this place is run by monsters. Rescuing someone does not give you the right to treat them like shit." She pauses, surprised at her words. "Excuse me. You have moved me to the point of using obscenities. For a moment, I nearly became as much an animal as you."


"Ah yes, animals. We're on Condition One and I really don't need to answer to you, since I don't know you; on Condition One in a military base when you pick up a stranded ship, those are the procedures, like it or not. As I said, I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I'm going to talk to my commanding officer now so that we can get you back where you belong." Lucius says, rising up from his seat. "With the gentle folk who mow down civilians and blow up non-military ships. You must be uncomfortable among animals who only restrain civilians."


"I saw a woman die once," Elandra admits dispassionately. "She beat her children. When my husband cut both her hands off and made her offspring watch as she bled to death, I wondered if there could perhaps be a different way to get things done. An animal is a creature who allows himself to act on emotion, such as yourself with your judgemental views of what General Savant has accomplished. Civilians? Innocents? I do not recall seeing such things on the news, so it seems clear to me you are either making them up or allowing the stories your fellow animals tell during dinnertime fill your head. That... is why you are an animal."


The silent observer pipes up, "Made up? No, definitely not."


Lucius chuckles. "The news doesn't tell the whole truth, never has, and never will. I know what happened from eye witnesses, so you don't need to feed me propaganda. I'm quite alright as it is." He turns to Jeff. "Sir, I think this interview can be called over. I'd like to speak to the Captain, if possible."


Ryan stands up and walks over to the woman pulling out his PDA, he hands it to the woman, "Just hit play." He explains to Lucius, "Camera footage from the Mercy, Mr Pia had it sent over."


The girl watches without any trace of emotion now. "I see ships taking off during the assault. A rather dumb choice when you are surrounded by aggression. I see people running instead of hiding. Yet another foolish choice. Clearly, those who did not seek shelter meant my husband's force harm. The person who sent you this survived, did he not? Had the General wanted to kill them all, he could have done so without hesitation. Those who fell did so because they surrendered to their primitive instincts. Animals."


Again, Lucius shakes his head and simply chuckles. "Reasoning with her's not going to work, sir. Permission to move on to the Captain?"


Ryan takes the PDA back and nods to Lucius, "Permission granted." He eyes the woman, "I disgree with the invasion, I disagree with your opinion of slaughtering innocent civilians and labelling them animals. I disagree with the abhorrant attitude we've been met with since we rescued your vessel." A small pause, "But we're not animals, the sooner I have you and yours off my station and back into the murdering hands of your husband the happier I'll be." He puts the PDA away.


"Our attitude? I will be sure to ask my husband to rid the universe of one violent unit for each of you who disrespected us since we arrived," Elandra counters and smiles. "To us, they will be nothing more than unworthy animals. Since you seem to hold other animals so dearly to your hearts, may their deaths rest on your conscience."


"Have a splendid night, Elandra. I hope you get syphillis and your brain rots." Lucius says on his way out, grabbing his rifle and slinging it over his shoulder. He stretches and abruptly fishes a lone cigarette from an ammo pocket on his belt, likely his only one, and lights it. A doctor gives him a disaprooving look but he pays little attention, now moving towards the guest quarters, and Captain Bob.


"Respect works both ways Ma'am," says Jeff. "You've /never/ shown us any since the moment that airlock opened." Ryan shakes his head, "Good night to you ma'am." And he follows Lucius out the door.


"I will learn your names," the girl promises, "and have them carved on the chest of a child in your honor." She turns and buries her face on the pillow, hands protectively over her belly.


Jeff turns back, "The name's Ryan, Jeff Ryan. And if I ever see that name carved on anyone's chest I won't rest until I have your husband's head on a pole outside this station. Look it up, you'll see I can be quite determined when I want to be."


Lucius arrives outside the guest quarters and simply waits there with lit cigarette in his mouth, relaxing visibly as he smokes his cancer stick.


Jeff Ryan arrives shortly afterward, clip-board probably handed to some Doc.


"We should probably bring them back after we're done. Prolonging this isn't gonna end pretty, sir." Lucius says, looking up at the General. He blows a smoke ring which ends up lazily floating up into the air.


"I want them off my station," says Jeff, visibly angry after his encounter with Elandra. "What I really want to do is put them on that damned ship and blow it as soon as it's cleared the landing bay." A small smile, "But the paperwork would be a bitch."


"And the invasion after would be more of a bitch. /Preserve/ the planet, right?" Asks Lucius rhetorically, grinning. As he finishes his cigarette the man pushes the blueish smoke from his nostrils and turns to enter into the guest wing. He knocks on the door leading to Bob's room.


Jeff lets out a breath, "It would, next time we get a distress call..."


There is no response at first, then the sound of toilet suction somewhere in the depths of the room. "Yeah, yeah," comes a voice and then the door slides open, reveal the large-bellied captain still chewing on the same type of long grass he was when he was first seen. "Come in why don't you. Did you bring some food? I don't suppose you did, eh? There's some good eatin' in this here station." He moves to his bed and drops down on it.


Lucius walks into the room, his shouldered weapon bobbing a little bit as he does so, and surveys its inhabitant. "Glad to hear you think so, Captain Bob. We're gonna ask you a few questions before we get a ship ready to send you off on your way."


Jeff follows Lucius in, and takes up position on the wall behind him.


"No kneeling and hands behind my back?" Bob snorts. "Well, sure, ask why don't you."


"Sure. Firstly, what's your full name?" Lucius asks simply, pulling out a PDA to record the 'session'.

The man snorts again. "Sure, why don't I. Bob... Smith. Captain Supreme of the independent Azure, finest ship around. Or was, until it got trashed. Damn fine ship if you ask me."


Lucius smiles in the kind of way your grandfather smiles when he finds out you stole his 50 year old stamp collection and sold it. This would translate to him not smiling in a very pleased manner. "Okay, let's restart. What's your full name? Let's not get stuck on such an easy question, and just when I thought you'd be leaving the station so soon.. but it hinges on you cooperating. /What/ is your full name?"


Jeff Ryan sighs, probably letting go of the anger Elandra invoked, more than anything else.


"Is that a threat?" The captain snorts again, propping up his head with an arm to watch Lucius. "Bob... Smith."


"For the record, no, it's not a threat. I don't threaten people. But we can't bring you back to La Terre if you don't give us your real name. Bob Smith is not your real name. What, do you think I'm a fucking muppet? Was I born yesterday? Iuppiter, are you seriously /that/ stupid?" Lucius snorts, narrowing his eyes at the man.


"Robert?" offers Jeff from his positon near the wall.


"Seems to me as real a name as any other. I'm only returning the courtesy that has been extended to me since my crew arrived. Robert," the captain echoes, glancing at Jeff. "Robert Smith. I should like a fancy politician or businessman why don't I."

Lucius snorts again. "Fair enough, Mr. Smith. Excuse me for not believing your name." He deadpans. "What is the registry of your ship, for official purposes?"


Jeff Ryan says nothing.


"It's right there on the Azure," Bob answers. "Like I know these things. I bought the ship one or two months ago. Seller wasn't exactly your most honorable-looking friend, if you know what I mean. Registry is probably bogus. I know it has some fives and threes."


"Pretty in-depth knowledge for the Captain. Where'd you pick it up?" Lucius says, pressing on. "The ship," clarifies Jeff. "Where'd you buy her?"


Bob shrugs. "Antimone. It was waiting for me there along with my instructions. Take the ship, find a crew, wait for the girl, visit a lot of planets and then take her to La Terre. Supposedly we'd know when that last part was." He chuckles. "Boy did we know."


"When were you given these instructions, and by who?" Lucius asks Bob, finally moving to take a seat.


Jeff meets Bob's eyes, "I don't particularly find the murder of unarmed civilians and transports amusing." He glances at Lucius, "You?"


"Are you paying attention? I said they were waiting for me there. The guy who sold it to me. Now don't ask me his name or what he looked like because I don't remember or even care to. One more job. As for whatever happened in the La Terre, cry me a river, why don't you," Bob says. "Shit happens. Not my problem."


"Not particularly. No need to get testy, Captain Smith. The questions may seem repetitive to you but bear in mind this is for official purposes." Lucius arches an eyebrow. "So you're not a La Terran national?"


Jeff just waits on the man's answer, obviously disapproving of his 'cry me a river' comment.


"Who's La Terran? Damn place was a floating toilet some assholke discovered a couple of years ago. Ain't no one was born there," Bob comments. "Nah. I don't even remember where I'm from anymore. I'm a space national. Out there with the stars, that's my home."


"I don't remember asking you if you were born there. I remember asking you if you were a citizen there, but since you answered my question I think we can move on." And the soldier does just that, moving speedily along. "Where'd you pick up the girl?"


"Depends on who you ask. That crew of mine, they're dumber than a lump of wood. You ask them, they'll tell you she just popped on the ship right out of nowhere 'cause that's what the instructions said would happen," Bob replies and snorts yet again. "My guess? She was hiding in that ship since we left Antimone. Really goodly hidden, why don't you. When food ran out, she came out. I didn't ask no question, why would I. A job's a job."


"Sure, I can understand that. I worked freelance for a few years myself, and on Tomin Kora. Best not to question when the cash is coming in. So you don't know when this girl came on?" The Martian's eyebrows shoot up, expectantly.


"Not precisely, no," Bob answers and shrugs, chewing on his grass.


"Interesting." Notes Lucius, making sure that his PDA's gotten all of this so far. "So where'd you pick this job up from?"


"I was contacted while on U-999. Some clown with a lisp. I was pissdrunk, thought it was a dream the next morning why don't I," Bob admits. "Went on it, though, and got myself a brand new ship. For two months, at least. Well, I expect if I ever finish the job I'll get paid enough to buy another."


"Savant doesn't seem the 'pay-in-full' type. He seems more like the 'pay-if-I-have-to' type. And if he doesn't have to, I reckon the only payment you'll be getting is a bullet to the brainpan. What do you think about that?" Lucius queries.


"It's a tough universe out there, pal. A job's a job and you run with the risks," Bob says.


"That'd be nice, except for the fact that I don't think you're telling me the truth, Captain Bob. In fact, I don't think your name is Captain Bob at all." The soldier rises up from his seat. "I remember you calling us fools and acting all ominous the other night. Now why would a simple freight Captain be doing something like that?"


"Same reason a group of soldiers would be acting all paranoid at the mere mention of La Terre over a single ship that had already proven harmless," Bob counters. "Who knows these things? Mysteries all around. Like I care what you think. You said you had a report to write. I answered your questions and it seems to me that you have plenty of information to fill that report out, unless you were lying and you are actually after something else." He chuckles. "Mysteries."


"We're on Condition One, Bob. I'm not sure if you can comprehend what that is, but it means full military alert. Any ships that come in and are damaged are treated the same way. So I gotta ask, then.." Lucius rubs his chin, thinking in silence for a moment. "What kind of diplomats are you?"


Bob laughs. "Diplomats? Do I look like a diplomat to you? I said diplomatic mission. Take the young bride to her husband, the president of a world. Avoid trouble. Seems diplomatic enough to me."


"Hell of an interesting diplomatic mission. See what I don't get.. mysteries, and the like, is why you didn't just pick her up openly and all. Of course, I'm just a soldier, right? How would /I/ know such intricate matters." Lucius muses.


"Well, more than a soldier, I'd say you are dumb. Yeah, that's the word for it. No wonder you're serving the people with brains," Bob says and chuckles. "See, if we openly pick up the bride of a man who just took over a world, people may want a piece of the pie. See, not everyone is as nice as I am. They're more like you, acting up and the such. So until Savant had power, we could not take her there, and after he had it, it was too dangerous. Little help that was, why don't you."


"I'm glad you think so." Mostly, Lucius ignores Bob's jibe and presses on with the matter at hand. "It's up to my commanders whether you're sent off on your merry way or kept here any longer. I personally'd like to see you get your fat ass pushed into a shuttle, with the sign, 'Savant's Crony' taped to your forehead but I don't think that's going to happen. Since I don't make the big decisions around here, it's irrellevant, too. Thanks for your time. There won't be a big cheeseburger at the end of the rainbow for you, sorry to say."


"I'll settle for the cheese. I do like cheese," Bob says. "Tell your superiors to make their mind up soon. Picking fights over such trivial things seems pointless."


Lucius narrows his eyes at Bob, smirking at the same time. "Or else what?"


"I doubt a man who takes over an entire world and shows no one mercy will be very happy with his bride kept by another government. Wars have been started for less, but hell, what do I know? I'm just Bob." the captain says, smiling.

"See, Bob, that's why you're a Captain and I'm just a durned Sergeant. You're so damned smart!" Lucius exclaims, giddily. "Savant invades one more planet and I doubt there'll be much of his little empire left for him to pick through. But then again, that's just me. The big powers don't seem to be too happy with the new kid on the block, is all."


"Big powers?" Bob snorts yet one more and mockingly looks around the room. "Well, I don't see any big powers around here, or anywhere else, doing anything about it. The hell do I care? I just want my money. Care to match Savant's offer? I don't know how well this here militiray pays, but match it and I'll even break that foxy little lady for you. I hear pregnant women are real vixens in bed." He laughs. "Big powers. Boy, only power I know of is money."


"Both the Sivadians and Republicans are far bigger than the LTDF and whatever was assisting Savant when he dropped down on the planet. I doubt either'd have any hesitation in smoking the guy. Not my call, like I said." Lucius replies. "We're probably going to send you back. Whether we do or don't isn't up to me, so I'll be on my way now. Thanks for the time."


Bob shrugs.

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