PHD #050: Painless
Summary: The admiral summons Sabaudia to his office to discuss the outcome of a case.
Date: 17 Apr 2041 AE
Related Logs: The Swigert logs. Most recently: You Promised.
Abbot Sabaudia 
Commander's Quarters — Deck 4 — Battlestar Cerberus
The Admiral's Quarters are as stately as can be expected. One of the few rooms on the ship to get carpeting, it has numerous other small amenities that only few can ever dream of having. A personal bathroom has a privacy door to the side with its own shower and sink. The bunk has a queen size mattress which is set deep into the wall. Overhead of the bunk is personal storage while the rest of the room is lined with bookshelves and pictures from various points in the CO's life or noteworthy occasions. Above the Admiral's large oak desk is a set of displays the read-off various status reports throughout the day and night. A seating area with overstuffed chairs and a coffee table, is located nearer to the entrance hatch.
Post-Holocaust Day: #50

What does an admiral do when his battlestar's just been wrecked by invading Cylon Centurions? How does an admiral react when his command has come within a hair's breadth of being smashed by five Cylon nukes? This one sits in an overstuffed armchair and thumbs through reports, worry-lines streaking his face as a thin stack of paper rustles on his lap. From the looks of things, they're casualty estimates — full details from each department have yet to filter in — and from the looks of him, the news isn't terribly good. His blocky features are darkened and grim, and though he wears his blues as impeccably as ever, a faint bit of stubble has started to tickle the bottom of his chin. A mug of coffee rests on the table before him, staining its top with tracks of rich, milky brown.

What does an officer of the JAG Corps do, when meeting with the Admiral after such circumstances? They show up promptly, first of all. Immaculately-coiffed, the uniform picture-perfect, for second. Thirdly, one makes sure one's ducks are all in a row, ready to be waddled out on cue. A light expression, fourthly - so much bad news, at least make sure you're not immediately contributing, there's a good officer. Oh, and for seventeenth and last, the salute - crisp and perfect, her posture like an example straight out of finishing school. "Admiral, Sir."

"At ease, Captain." Abbot's voice is cultured and smooth, and his salute — given from his armchair — is as snappy as such a thing should be. "I apologize for not standing, but — " Hard eyes glance down at the papers strewn across his lap, held in place by his left forearm. Explanation enough, it seems. "Coffee? It's no better than what everybody else gets served, despite rumors to the contrary." His easy smile doesn't reach terribly far beyond his lips. It's the smile of a politician, honed by years of experience until it's become second nature.

Jezza's arm lightly unfurls from the salute down to her side. Her fingers make some minute adjustment on the small folio tucked under her arm before she steps further into the room. "No apologies necessary, Sir. I appreciate that you'd spare me a few minutes in the middle of all this. No coffee, thank you." No need to add jangled nerves to a meeting with the Admiral, figures she. The counter-proposal: "Water?" And, only a beat later: "Have you had a chance to look over the précis I forwarded to you?" Humbly put-forth, that. What is important to the JAG is not necessarily important to the CO.

"I have what time I make for myself. You have ten minutes." The sides of Abbot's eyes crinkle as he looks up at the woman before him — a slight softening that belies the crispness of his words. "And did I say that the coffee's no better than what everybody else get served, Captain? I meant the exact opposite." Which is really just a polite way of letting her know that water comes from a tap, and the only tap in here is in his bathroom. His private bathroom — which might be why the man's smile grows incrementally wider as he begins the process of gathering up all the reports on his chair, slotting them into a nearby folder with remarkable precision. Here and there, glimpses of neat and orderly handwriting — his — become visible in the margins of said reports, though they vanish too quickly for the JAG officer to get a sense of the comments he's made. As for the précis? "I have. But in a case of this magnitude, I wanted to make sure I heard from you in person before any … hasty … decisions are made. Sit."

Mental Note the First: Send word to the Quartermaster for one of those cunning insulated carafes to be sent to the Admiral's Quarters. Jezza swears by hers. Even if it's just cold tap water, it's still from a civilized source. Perhaps she'll think back in amusement to the thought of the Cerberus's Commanding Officer stooping to drink water from his sink-tap like a child at a water-fountain, though. Such are the things that get the JAG through her day.

Heeled steps clack briskly across the floor to the proffered seat. After seating herself and settling her folio Just So across her knees, she'll lift her attention back to the Admiral's face. "Sergeant Demos and Lance Corporal Maragos were very diligent in their investigations," she begins. Her gaze is intent; her expression, inscrutable as she can manage. Confucius might be proud. "Their evidence points very clearly to Crewman Swigert. She denies none of the allegations."

The admiral holds that gaze as long as she lets him, icy eyes unblinking. What takes effort for her takes none for him; indeed, Sabaudia might get the sense that it's she herself that's the subject of this conversation and not the argument she's advancing. Indeed, as the lawyer begins to set the groundwork for that argument, Abbot leans forward until his elbows rest on his knees, face misted by faint wisps of steam emanating from his mug — out of which he also drinks water, thank you very much. It's only his guests who must suffer his choice of beverage.

Only when the woman is finished does he lean back, chair creaking slightly under his compact frame. "But there exists no such thing as proof, Captain, does there?" Palms rest lightly over the creases in his sharply-pressed pants. "Merely 'beyond reasonable doubt' — which still leaves room for doubt." A beat. "Do you have any?"

Jezza's talked juries out of their preconceptions. Judges out of their assurances. Can she talk herself out of an Admiral's scrutiny, though? She does her training, and her parents, proud - there's no quailing from Michael's gaze. A brief slide away, considering the cast of his mouth versus the expression held in his eyes, but that's for appraisal's sake, not cowardice. "I spoke with her at length," she says, at long last. "She's nineteen, Sir. There's only so far their trickery can ever go." A pause, there. Words are important. These, triply so. "No, Sir. Given the evidence we have, and the Crewman's testimony, she stands guilty as charged. Beyond reasonable doubt."

"As you have so ably argued in your report." Abbot cracks his neck, tilting his head to the right, to the left, and to the right once more — thereby conveniently interrupting whatever he was going to say. "And as the panel of right honorable judges will likely determine in a day's time," is the end of that thought. Thumb and forefinger rest lightly on his chin as his other hand reaches for the pack of cigarettes lying open on the end table beside him, pushing it towards the woman in an implicit offer of sorts. "You worked for a public defender's office before receiving your commission?" It's not a question — not really.

"Thank you, Sir. It's my duty to do the best job I can." The slightest of thin smiles. "Civilization crashing down around our shoulders or no." Jezza lightly splays her fingers at the cigarette pack in a mute 'no thank you', and slides them back a fraction toward the Admiral. First, no coffee. Now, no cigarettes. "I did, Sir. Six years. Thankless, for the most part, but every once in a while you make a real difference." The memory's both fond and a little haunted, moss-green eyes on some middle distance for just a moment, between one blink and the next.

"I see." Noncommittal words from the admiral, who now goes about the process of lighting up a cigarette for himself. His gunmetal lighter glints sharply as he flicks it open, flame throwing his features into sharp relief for the second or two it's on. "Libran has the death penalty, last I checked." The steam from his coffee is joined by smoke of an entirely different sort, mingling with the scent of roasted beans to produce that unique aroma so commonly found about the ship. "They don't bother with the noose, if I recall — that's just Picon — but sodium thiopental, potassium chloride, they've still got those." Still present tense. Even the admiral has difficulty adapting. "Ever seen a lethal injection being administered to one of your clients, Captain?"

There's a small jump in Jezza's throat; a breath that can't decide if it wants to finish travelling down to her lungs. She swallows, instead. Leaning back just a touch, she folds her arms lightly across her chest, head fractionally tilted. "It's my duty to attend executions when they're carried out, Sir." Her voice is slightly cooler than it was before. "I saw them to justice. It falls to me to witness the results."

"I'm told there isn't much pain involved." The admiral's voice remains smooth as ever — remarkable, really, given how much the man must smoke. The dozen-odd cigarette stumps in his pewter ashtray are testament to that, as is the ash from his current one that flutters down towards his uniform to be brushed away by a knuckled fist. "You see — " The tip of his cigarette flares a dull red. "You see, sodium thiopental is a barbiturate — a fast-acting anaesthetic, or at least that's how the doctor described it to me." More smoke; more ash. "We don't use it in the Fleet. Our Marines are good shots."

The slightest, sli-i-ightest sullen flare of anger, like a fresh cigarette cherry smouldering against moss. "Followed by a paralytic agent to stop the breathing, and a third to induce cardiac arrest. I am aware, Admiral." By the time Jezza cants her head a little further to the side, her expression is again smoothed over, though carefully-so. She tries her own approach, offered lightly out with a lift of narrow brows. "Are you asking me to bargain for leniency where I should not, Sir?"

Those eyes don't flinch, nor do they even hint at flinching. Indeed, they even narrow considerably behind the veil of smoke. "We lost fifty billion souls the first time the Cylons hit us, Captain." Abbot's lips tighten on the filter of his cigarette, sucking in a lungful of sweet, sweet nicotine. "We lost a hundred more the second time they hit us, maybe more. My senior staff doesn't know, which means I don't know. But this I do know: we're rapidly approaching the point where one soul isn't a drop in the bucket. It's a third of the bucket."

That easy smile has gone the way of humanity. "My yeoman will be delivering a written order to your box after the tribunal returns its verdict. You'll be attending the execution along with the rest of them — and with me. You are not to reveal the identity of any of the Marines in the firing squad if by some accident that knowledge comes into your possession. Have I made myself clear, Captain Sabaudia?"

Not once has he raised his voice.

There's something Jezza really, re-e-eally wants to say, there, for a moment. Her jawline shifts; maybe she's actually setting her teeth against it. Nostrils flare just a little, and her mouth prims. A beat or three come and go, before she lifts her chin a fraction, then nods. "Perfectly clear, Admiral. Is there anything else?" It seems doubtful, but she's a good little Captain. The disembarking protocols must be maintained.

Abbot holds her gaze for just a little longer before ashing his cigarette in the tray, cool metal hissing ever so slightly under the heat. "Nineteen," he murmurs. The words are aimed at her but seem aimed as much against himself. "Nineteen and guilty of treason beyond a reasonable doubt. 'Let the world slide, let the world go; a fig for care, and a fig for woe! If I can't pay, why I can owe, and death makes equal the high and low.'" The admiral permits himself a short, quiet sigh. "Nothing else from me, Captain. Unless you have something you'd like to say, you're dismissed."

Lots she'd /like/ to say, perhaps, but nothing she actually /does/. Jezza pushes herself upright and forms herself into that same smooth, picture-perfect salute. "Sir," she utters, eyes straight ahead and unblinking, and then she's out.

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