PHD #394: Basic Human Nature
Basic Human Nature
Summary: Kincaid and Constin end up shouting.
Date: 27 Mar 2042 AE
Related Logs: Nailing Piers
Constin Kincaid 
Deck Six - Marine Country
The floor plating along the corridors of the Cerberus is standard military. Their forged steel plates are welded seamlessly together to run nearly the entire length of each hallway. The hallways themselves are the typical load-bearing structural design of the angled quadrilateral. Oxygen scrubbers and lighting recesses are found at nearly perfect intervals throughout the passageways.
Post-Holocaust Day: #394

Constin wears his tan duty uniform, in a distinctly non standard manner. The big man's left arm is through the sleeve, but the right (swallowed up to the elbow by a cast) simply has the right half of the uniform shirt draped over the right shoulder. A manilla folder is carried in his left hand as Constin emerges from the Marine Offices.

Much as Constin is leaving the office, Kincaid is coming to it. He doesn't seem to be on active duty as such, since he's not wearing his MP brassard and gunbelt that goes with it. "Gunny," says the Lance to the Master-at-Arms as he passes, giving him a respectful nod. "You doing all right?"

"Lance," Elf returns with a curt nod. "I'm pissed off, Donut. So guess that makes it business as usual, yeah?" A drawn breath, "If you was looking for Mathers, he's on the horn with Cee-Eye-Cee for a bit," he notes briefly. "You need something?"

"Pissed off at something in particular, or just a more generalized sort of pissed off? Anything I can help with?" inquires Kincaid, as if aware that there is more than one possibility here. "But I'm doing okay. Just going over some things. But —" A pause. "Now that you mention it. You got a second?"

"Pissed off in the 'Jag has spoken, so mote it be' kinda way," Elf returns flatly. "So unless you got some talent for uncarving stone, that's all there is to be said." Kincaid's last request draws a nod. "Yeah, I got time. What's the word?"

Kincaid arches his brow as if to ask what has exactly been carved, but does not press on the point. Instead, he says, gingerly approaching the topic: "You talked to the Major lately?" It's the way someone would talk about a friend or colleague who's not been feeling well.

Constin shakes his head. "Nah. Apart from a few words with Mathers and O'Hare, I ain't seen much of the brass since that basestar business." The big man lets the 'why do you ask?' go unspoken, as he stirs his right shoulder in a slow rolling shrug.

"I was in there yesterday talking about my big case." Even if Constin and Kincaid don't speak much lately, the Master-At-Arms knows that the only big case that Kincaid has going is Piers Rene-Marie. "And we were talking about the possibility of a civilian trial if everything goes according to plan." This, apparently, is part of a lead-up.

"What," Constin prompts flatly. The word itself is a question, but the inflection doesn't reflect any inquiry. It seems Kincaid's lead-up was enough to wholly command the MaA's attention.

"The — uh. Major isn't necessarily opposed to it, but she said if one happens, she wants to make sure that a conviction is guaranteed." The whistling sound you hear is the sound of that particular bomb dropping. Clearly, Kincaid need not explain just how a conviction can be 'guaranteed.'

"What?" Constin repeats, not much louder in volume than the first time he'd spoken the word, but unmistakably more.. intent. "Lance, we gonna continue this in my office. March." And with that, the big man starts toward the SecHub and the office of the Master-at-Arms which sits inside it.

MaA's Office - Deck Six
This smallish styled office is typically made use of by the Master-at-Arms to conduct his business and oversee the MP's. A large desk sits in the center of the room, to which a secured cabinet can be seen immediately to the left of it. Across form the desk, two simple chairs are present for those who visit, while behind the desk, a much larger and more comfortable chair can be seen.
Post-Holocaust Day: #394

Once they are in Constin's office — Kincaid doesn't need to be told twice to take this out of the public hallway — the former reporter says explicitly what he implied outside: "She actually said the words 'it couldn't be a bad thing if we arranged for a few civilians we know happen to be more sympathetic to our mission here to be on that jury.'" He's a former reporter. He's used to getting sound bites out of people. And he lets that hang. "When I asked her if she meant rig." He almost spits the word. "She of course denied it. But she said it would be good to give the trial a 'nudge.'"

"First things frakking first-" Constin answers, making well sure the door is shut behind them, before Kincaid says another word. "This is a frakking battlegroup. Correct me if that part of my brains got blowed out, but Langer was military personnel. Even if the Elpis weren't military property- which, for the record, it frakking well is, somebody best have a REAL frakking good reason for even THINKING about letting civilians handle a Lords-be-damned thing when it comes to law. SECOND:" Oh, yeah, the Master-at-Arms is well and thoroughly riled. "There ain't no 'nudging', there ain't no 'rigging' there's just the frakking law, and the motherFRAKKING truth, and the Major's gonna have to bust my ass back down to Buck Private to change that, you hear me?"

Kincaid is quiet, just listening to this particular rant — he was, after all, one of the first recruits that Constin whipped from civilians into Marines — he's used to it. Then: "Gunny? You're talking to the guy whose commitment to the rule of law made him go and defend accused Cylon Michael Abbott." A beat. "You're preaching to the chorus. At least about the rigging the jury part."

"The chorus gets preached to. The rest get straight-up hollered at," Constin snaps back, shortly. Yeah, he's pissed The sergeant doesn't even sit down in that over sized chair, standing beside the desk, and restraining the urge to stalk around the office. Although the profanities have lessened, and his volume is under control, there is no mistaking the big sergeant's ire. "So. Before I go barking at my commanding officer, how's about you back up a tick, and try explaining to me why anybody with a brain in their head would think about creating a civvie jury, let ALONE kicking this case over to it? Cause if I had two good hands, I'd be scratching my head over that query right about now."

"Because what Piers Rene-Marie did — better than screwing women, better than being a flouncy Virgon with a ridiculous accent — is gin up distrust of the military. He started getting people to think that the military didn't give a damn about the rule of law or their well-being, and that we're all just a bunch of jack-booted thugs out to keep them down any way we can." Kincaid's voice isn't as riled as the Master-at-Arms, but it's just as resolute. "So wouldn't it be damn fitting if the first show of some civilian input is to hoist this guy by his own silk scarf'd petard and have him busted for the murder of a military enlisted. That's the idea, Gunny, and you know what? It was partly my idea, so if you're going to let me have it, go right ahead."

"You know what that is, you just said?" Constin returns, "That is a compromise of military law to appease civilian interests in a frakking battlegroup. That is surrendering authority and letting go of the ability to enforce the frakking law, and it is just about the stupidest thing I've heard in- shit, since the thing I just heard about Willows last breath." Not a good day for Constin's temper. "Civilians ain't even got any kind of law set up for this shit, Donut! We ain't got certified lawyers, and sworn in judges, and you think it will look any less like a military railroading if the first thing the civvies do is string this piece of shit up? Either they do convict, and folks holler 'It was rigged' or they DON'T convict, and you just sent the message that the murder of military personnel is outside the rights and ability of the Military Police to deal with."

"You know what, though, Gunny? It's not just a battlegroup. I mean, it is a battlegroup? But it's also the last bit of humanity alive that anyone knows about. So it's not just a battlegroup. It's all there is. And if we don't start thinking about how we're going to do this long-term; not just for a few months of crisis or 'emergency measures' or 'extraordinary circumstances,' but long term? We're never going to get anywhere." Kincaid doesn't cower on this one. "Maybe people'll yell it's rigged. I can't stop that. But I've got a damn good case building, and I think I can show that we can do this by the book and still not lose control. If anything, we'll gain it, because we can show that we don't view folks on that freighter as a bunch of damn cattle that need to be prodded and herded. I'm not saying we've got to give 'em the launch code to the nukes. But we ought to do something. Maybe even take a bit of the load off of us, while we're at it."

"How's about this? Once we're not IN an emergency situation we start enacting long term measures and shit? Hell, make plans for it, Donut- knock yourself out! Let the civvies make all the plans they want, but the plain frakking fact is this: this IS an emergency situation, and this IS a Battlegroup. You think it HELPS those civvies to relax the law, and relax the discipline? It doesn't. For frak's sake Donut, you're smarter than me, how come you ain't seeing that taking this out of our hands, and putting it into the hands of folks who this Marie jackass CAN effect is a bad idea? Civvies got no damn right calling the shots on a military vessel, especially not in a case involving the murder of military personnel. You're hamstringing the Military Police, all for the hope of keeping civvies happy. Shit, Donut, they ain't ever gonna be happy until this business is over, and appeasing them is just gonna make them hungrier to get more and more of their own way! That's why we don't compromise rules, damnit."

"We're ALWAYS going to be in an emergency situation, Gunny. We're at war with a race that just leveled the Colonies. Do you think we're ever going to be at Condition Four again? Ever?" Kincaid stays seated, but his voice is starting to rise in volume now, though it's only a fraction of what it used to be. "You know what the rules used to be, if we're not going to compromise them? The rules used to be that there was President that told the military what to do. Military answered to the civilians, not the other way around. No one's said we should go to that; at least not seriously, or not yet. And besides, seems like we're all set to compromise them when we think we have to, when we think it'll help with 'control.' I'm not talking about appeasement here. I'm talking about realizing that martial law doesn't work so great outside the military. We're not going to break Rene-Marie's control if we never show them that he's not RIGHT."

"Bullshit, Donut," Constin returns sharply. "President was Commander-in-chief. Elected, sure, but the president has a role in the military command." That answered, he rolls unmerrily right along. "But no. I don't think we ever will stand down- and if we do, I'm pretty damned sure I ain't ever gonna see it, but I will tell you this much: every human being left breathing has a better chance of seeing that day if we don't bend the rules and regulations and discipline that's kept us alive so far. You ARE talking about appeasement. By frakking definition. You are making a concession from a position of strength in hopes that it will end resistance. You was a frakking reporter, you oughta know that." A snort. "And you show me any place where I've ever compromised the regs. I can't control what other folks do, and damnation if that ain't a sore spot right about now," he states with a scowl, "But the way to break Marie's control sure as frak isn't giving the civvies what HE'S been loudly demanding. You do not compromise, and you do not surrender when you're in the frakking right!"

Kincaid takes in a deep, deep breath. And then he lets it out. Perhaps he's trying to de-escalate the situation. Perhaps he's just trying to gather his thoughts. "Look. I know you've been a Marine all your life, Gunny. You like the chain of command. You like the regs. It makes you feel in control, like life follows a set of rules, and if you follow the rules, everything's going to be all right." A pause. "But those civilians over on Elpis? They don't have control. They don't have a say of what goes on in their own lives. They just sit there, and every time the Action Stations alarm goes off, they have to just huddle up and pray and hope that this time isn't the time the CAP fails, the flak screen breaks down, the FTL gives out and they go into the oblivion that separates this life and the next." Another pause. "So the reason Rene-Marie has sway over them isn't because he's a swell guy. But because he gives them someone to blame for that powerless feeling that isn't the Cylons. He makes them think that if they do what he wants, they'll get a feeling of control again. And if we don't give them some of that, they'll latch on to anyone who does, even if he is a petty gray-market crime kingpin. It's not appeasement, Gunny. It's acknowledging basic human nature. I know that because I can remember what it's like to be a civilian. I'm not sure if you can." And he says that last line like he's almost sorry for Elf, not mad. Like it's a fact when you're part of the Corps for as long as he has.

"It ain't just about control, Donut. Not all of it, anyhow," Constin returns after a breath is exhaled bullishly through the nose. Kincaid's de-escalation (or ordering of thoughts) at least calms the MaA down a notch. "I don't control the rules. I just enforce them. And all around me, everybody I see keeps trying to bend the rules and relax the regs, because they think it makes their lives easier, but it really don't." The Gunnery Sergeant bends his frame to settle into the chair, wincing a bit as he rests the bulky cast which supports the multiple plates, pins and screws which hold his arm together. "Maybe I don't remember that life anymore. Just seems to me that you don't make a problem better, by giving a bunch of scared, panicked folks what they think they want. Especially when it's something you can't undo. No mistake, Donut: if you give the civvies that authority? That's the end of military order. And whatever problems we've got now- however bad shit gets on Elpis, it ain't a shadow of how bad it can get without military order."

"All I'm saying, Gunny, is that I get it. I get how you see having a set of rules and orders and being told what to do makes things work for the best. But what I'm saying is that having some sort of self-determination is just as necessary as food and water and a place to put your head. It's a — psychological need." Kincaid pushes his chair back and he rises. "Look. Maybe this is all academic. The final decision in this isn't up to you, and it sure as Hades isn't up to me. We're all just trying to muddle through and do the best we can."

"Well, then figure out some other way for the civvies to feel better that don't compromise the basis of the whole military," Constin exhales with a shake of his head. "You're right on that though: it ain't my call. Anybody who asks it, they'll get my two cubits, just like folks are already getting yours. And you leave Hades out of this, if command came out of downtown Hades you can bet your ass we wouldn't be wading through half this shit."

Kincaid offers a small smile at that. "And your two cubits are always worth listening to, Gunny." A beat. "But thanks for hearing me out. See you around. Hope that wing gets a bit better." And so with that, Kincaid goes back to — whatever it is he's out doing.

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