PHD #009: Swigertly Speaking
Swigertly Speaking
Summary: An interview of Apprentice Melisssa Swigert conducted primarily by Sergeant Phaedra Demos, joined by Lance Corporal Cadmus Maragos.
Date: 7 Mar 2041 AE
Related Logs: Hypothetical Fireballs
Cadmus Demos NPC 
Security Hub - Deck 6 - Battlestar Cerberus
More than just an office for the Marines and their XO, this room has remote surveillance views of the Brigs as well as a state of the art communications center built into the far bulkhead. A locked and heavily armored door to the aft leads into another room, the white lettering on it reading 'ARMORY.' There are a few desks scattered around the room for getting necessary paperwork done and the Commandant's picture hangs on the wall next to one of the President.
Condition Level: 2 - Danger Close

Morning in the security hub is much like morning anywhere. The lights are bright enough, the coffee is percolating and the occasional yawn punctuates the sound of organization slowly blooming. The private on guard duty is alert, at least. The desk sergeant a bit less so. Demos is sitting at a desk toward the back, a mug of coffee at her elbow and a stack of reports in a file close at hand.

From the closed hatch comes the short rap-tap-tap of something sharp on metal, which causes the private to jump in his boots before realizing that he's the one who's supposed to investigate the noise. The door swings open with hardly a creak before he relaxes — "Just a wheelchair," he announces to the room at large. "Sickbay's that way."

"I'm not looking for Sickbay," says the girl, her high and lilting voice a little too loud for the morning haze. "I've got an appointment. An interview." Slender fingers play with her shoulder-length hair, her pallid skin a few shades lighter than the gauze bandages still wrapped about her arms. She's in her off-duty sweats, the pants to which look slightly bulkier than they should be: bandages, no doubt, applied as part of her early-morning ritual. "Wheel me?" A quick flutter of her eyes and the private is jumping to attention, pushing her towards the desk sergeant to check the log before depositing her in front of Demos' desk.

"This one's yours, Sarge." The private's voice is suddenly pitched a little deeper than usual, and his chest is as puffed as his shoulders are straight.

The rap-tap-tap catches everyone's attention, though they look to the private to do his job rather than leap to investigate. A glance or two is spared the wheelchair when it enters and the private is not the only one who straightens and tries to look that much more manly. Demos glances up briefly, nods to the girl, then looks back to what she is doing. The folder is closed and returned to the file from whence it came and a sheet of paper is taken from another.

When the private brings the wheelchair to her desk, Demos looks up, then turns her gaze to the hatch, then looks back, "Thank you, Private." Her tone is neutral, though friendly enough as she turns to the woman in the chair, "Welcome to the Security Hub. Can I get you any coffee? Or tea?"

Oh man. You've got coffee?" The girl's spirits lift considerably as she reaches out for the desk, pulling her wheelchair closer to the edge of Demos' makeshift office. "Shit yes, I want some of that. I mean — " The MP receives a cheeky little half-smile. "Sorry. Coffee would be nice. Please." Her bright eyes sweep the room, lingering on several of the more attractive gentlemen in the room before returning to the woman before her. "Nice setup you've got," she adds conversationally. "Lots of fine equipment."

You say, "A bit, yes." Demos offers a quick smile, then rises. She steps beyond the desk. Walking to a nearby shelf, she pours a measure of coffee into a Styrofoam cup and brings it back to the desk. Reclaiming her seat, she sets the cup down near the other woman's hand. A brow lifts slightly and her gaze flickers around, following the same path the Apprentice's took. "It has distinct advantages." Lifting her own mug, Demos takes a slow sip, then swallows and claims a pen with her other hand, "I am Sergeant Phaedra Demos, MP. This interview will be recorded and I will take notes. Please do not think that I am not paying attention." Her smile returns and she addresses the other woman more directly, "When you are ready to begin, please state your name and rank.""

"Apprentice Melissa Swigert." The girl smiles for the camera, flicking back her bangs from her eyes with a toss of her head. She's one of those people who seems to have mastered the art of unconscious grace. "I'm up — down? — somewhere. With Logistics."

The girl has one of those smiles that people react to. Phaedra makes a note on the paper in front of her, "Thank you, Apprentice Swigert." She sets the pen down and leans back, both hands cradling her mug of coffee, "Now, this is where I get to listen and you get to talk. Please tell me what happened leading up to and including the event that caused your injury. I might interrupt with follow up questions, so please excuse my bad manners in advance."

"Just organizing some bottles," Swigert begins. She shrugs as she leans back into her wheelchair, its olive-green fabric bending as it receives once more the weight of her body. "Cleaning fluid or whatever, I don't remember. Been a while. You know. Lots of stuff going on since then, like me almost dying. And then all of us almost dying." Short, quick sentences are interrupted by curious looks at whatever Demos is writing down, though she tries to make her interest as inconspicuous as possible. "Must have tripped. Hit my head. Next thing I know I'm in Sickbay. Burnt worse than a rotisserie chicken you get at the supermarket for five cubits."

Demos lifts a brow slightly, her gaze focusing more sharply. "Take your time, Apprentice. And start earlier. You went to the storage room to organize bottles, you say? Did you go by yourself?" Once more the pen is taken up, a note made. This time, the Sergeant slips the pen behind her ear, her eyes seeking minute changes in the other's mannerisms. The notes are in a kind of short hand, likely meaningless to others. The final two sentences spark another fiantly sardonic lift of an eyebrow. Something to come back to in a few minutes.

"Well. Not 'organizing bottles' if you ask my boss. 'Taking inventory' or some shit like that. He can make stupid stuff sound fancy. And yeah, I did." For a moment, Swigert's confidence wavers as she thinks — and then, quickly, she revises her statement. "Actually, no. That was … oh man, no. I was arguing with Viv about some stuff. She'd just got proposed to. Wanted to take it, too. I was like, 'Viv, you're being an idiot.' Didn't want to listen to me."

Demos nods, "Inventory. I hate doing inventory." A faint smile begins, then pauses. The pen is reclaimed from behind her ear. When the statement is reversed, she lowers the pen, "Viv? Who is Viv, please?" She begins to write what could be the other woman's name. "How long did she remain with you, please? Did she assist with the inventory?"

"They make you do inventory? Damn." The apprentice whistles. "Must be fun, though, stacking bullets. I just get to stack, like, cans of antifreeze or whatever. But if those were bullets, I probably wouldn't be here now, so. Careful what you wish for, right?" Another cheeky grin. "And Viv — sorry. Forgot you don't know everybody in the crew. Crewman Vivian Foster. V-I-V-I-A-N." She pauses so Demos can write, eyes searching once more for any hint of what's on the notepad. "Don't know how long we went for. Fifteen? Twenty? Wasn't paying attention. Came in with me, got in my face, and finally just, like, flounced off. Time of the month or something. You know how that is."

Demos does write the woman's name. Vivian Foster. The pen is tap-taped twice but she nods thoughtfully, "I see. What did she get in your face about, please?" She does not smile, though there is kindness in her tone, a sort of sympathy or fellow feeling, "Some people get so touchy when TOM is here." The wink is only a brief lowering of her lashes.

"You're telling me." The apprentice giggles, a high and childish sound that testifies to her age. "And, uh, don't want to make things up. Thing's recording me, right?" Her look at the camera is a little apprehensive. "But like, use your imagination. You're some poor slag from Aquaria. Guy just bought you some serious brilliant-cut rock. Even got two little white pearls on the side. Your girlfriend says, like, no, don't do it, he's a jerk." Another giggle, this one a little apprehensive. "I, uh, might not have said it … quite like that. Gods, I'd've be pissed."

Demos nods, her smile at the giggle relaxed. She does not glance up at the camera, though she is surely aware that it is there. The smile remains and she leans a hair forward, "Oh, no. Do not make things up. We check and double check. You know how it is. People who lie during an interview tend to see the inside of the brig." Her glance darts to the entrance of said space, then return, "It is not pleasent in there." A lifted shoulder then, and a 'what cen you do' sort of gesture. The pen is returned and she takes a few notes, "Nice sounding ring. I would have been upset too." Her gaze lifts, "And that was when she pushed you, right?"

"Didn't say that." The apprentice stiffens at the mention of the brig, though she might have just been hit by a wave of pain from her bandaged legs — she sustained severe injuries indeed, judging from the medical report Demos has undoubtedly read. The brief grimace that flashes across her finely-proportioned features sure seems genuine. "Just got in my face. Viv's a screamer. I, uh. Like, you know." Expressive hands flail in the air as she tries to illustrate what she means. "Boss had to tell her to shut the frak up like two weeks before — before — " Her shoulders sag as she reaches for the coffee. "Anyway. I just tripped. Like I said."

Demos nods, "I see." She sighs, the coffee mug is returned to her desk and she turns the pen between one hand and the other. Her gaze remains on the other woman, faintly skeptical, slightly sad. "Alright. Go back to the storeroom, please. Describe its condition when you arrived. Did you notice anything amiss?"

"Just some boxes moved around. Near the hatch. By some officer, you know." Swigert's brief moment of solemnity passes as she thinks back to her accident. "Down in Logistics, we call it the sock on the door. We don't move them back unless we get orders. And the boss is a busy guy. Doesn't give a damn about who's frakking who and where. Less he sees, he tells us, the happier he is. So we don't get orders." Another pause as she thinks. "Oh, and the lights were broken. Had to use my torch."

Demos half smiles at something said, clairifying by commenting, "I'm with your boss. Don't want to know." The pen stops its passage between her hands and she lowers it to make another note, "You tried the lights, then?" Her gaze flashes to the woman, then back down to her paper, "How bright is your torch? Could you see the entire storeroom?"

Swigert tilts her head sideways. "What?" she asks, eyes blinking as she tries to process what she's just been asked. "I know you're like a cop or something. Just your job. But seriously? Who goes into a dark storeroom to do work and, like, doesn't turn on the lights?" The point of these questions she obviously can't divine. "And, uh. Bright enough? Don't know. Hit the switch and turn yours on. Everybody gets the same kind."

Demos nods, making another note. Refocusing on the woman, the half smile fades, "I am a cop, yes. Military Police, Apprentice. I am trying to find out what happened leading up to the fire that nearly killed you. At this point, we have two theories. One is that it was all just an accident and no one is to blame. The other is that it was set up intentionally. Now, as you were in the storeroom before it went up in flames, your input is vital. I do not care how bright my flashlight is. I want to know whether you could see the entire storeroom when you turned yours on. Your answer will determine which set of questions I ask next with each subsequent answer affecting the subsequent questions. See?" Now, she does smile and it is a gentle sort of thing. "So, please. Answer the questions as posed. Even when they do not seem to make sense, they will help get to the truth of the matter."

Swigert's brows furrow as Demos' sentences get longer and her words get bigger, and somewhere in the middle of that speech her eyes glaze over. She's got time to drain her coffee, look back at the MP's notepad, and trace a little pattern into the side of the styrofoam cup with the tip of a manicured nail before she has to open her mouth again. "Uh. Just what's in front of me. It's a torch, not some big spotlight thing. And the room's pretty big."

Demos nods, "So you could not see the entire room. Thank you. Did you hear anything, or see anything that might indicate someone else was in the room?" The notepad's page is slowly filling up with the symbols that make up Demos' shorthand. Either that or she is actually doodling just enough to look 'busy'.

"Just me." Swigert twirls her cup in her hand, stray bits of coffee grinds coursing down white plastic sides before splashing down onto her uniform. "Wasn't there to hook up or anything. Viv was going to help, but. We did that part already." A hint of impatience enters her high and lilting soprano. "Look, I already told you it was an accident. I tripped. You ever tripped over something? You know what that feels like. Cuz, like, if I thought it was on purpose? I would have come to you."
The note taking pauses for a moment and Demos' attention shifts just a little, "Oh, I know what you said. I have not forgotten." She sits up a little straighter. "Do you happen to remember what you tripped over? And was Crewman Foster with you when you fell?"

"Just me. I'm kind of short." This, it seems, she resents. "Needed to get some stuff way up high. Boss should have sent Hal or something. He's huge. I had to climb on some crates to reach." Swigert flicks the cup onto Demos' table, watching it float through the air before it settles down, rocking back and forth like a cradle. "Guess I just was careless. Usually I don't crash down like that." Her expression turns pensive.

These interviews always seem to leave Demos acting the part of a bobble head. Again, she nods, though this time her expression is thoughtful, "You remember something about that, do you not?" It is the pensiveness coupled with the rehearsed sound of the earlier statements, plus a lie already known. "Tell me your thoughts, please. And your suspicions, if you would."

"Just seems so stupid, now." The girl looks blankly at the ceiling. "To worry about stuff like this, when — well. You heard what that Captain Till guy said, right? Last night? About the Colonies?" Her wheelchair scoots backwards as she pushes off from the desk, and it takes her a moment to realize that she's going backwards. Forward, Swigert, forward — and soon enough, she's back where she was. "What are you going to do? To, like. Whoever your suspect is. Or, like, perp, right? That's what they call them in the shows." Ahh, detective dramas: educating ninety percent of society's youth in the finer points of law and order.

Closing the door quietly behind him, Cadmus steps into the Security Hub. He busily flips through a notepad as he does so, eventually finding the correct section and pulling out a pen. "Sergeant, Apprentice Swigert," he says, nodding to each by way of greeting. He pulls up a chair and settles down into it, straightening his shirt as he does so. His body posture is surprisingly relaxed, and he seems content to allow Demos to continue her interview without immediate interference on his part.

Demos ignores the cup that rocks on her desk, back and forth and back again. It ends it's gyrations with a few spins and lands upright. "We carry on, Apprentice. Especially in light of Captain Tillman's announcement last night. If there is a perp, as you put it, we find out whom that individual is and arrest them. Then, due process kicks in. We keep our civilization ticking along so that those in our care learn to trust again." She glances up as Cadmus arrives. He gets a quick smile and a nod, "Welcome." Looking back at the Apprentice, Demos adds, "Oh, yes. What made you 'crash down'? You said that you do not usually do that. Was there a reason for it as far as you know?"

"Oh." Swigert looks at the newcomer with wide eyes before glancing back at the camera, flicking her hair out of her face once again. "Arrest. Yeah." Blinking rapidly, she dips her head downwards, not really looking at the camera. There's a long, pregnant pause; then, with a deep breath: "I tripped. I was careless. And — that's all." Her smile wavers ever so slightly as she retrieves the cup from where it's landed to chuck it into the trash can near Demos' desk. "Boss needs some paperwork done, so, like — are we done?”

Cadmus is studying Swigert. There's a distinct difference to 'watching' and 'studying'. The former would indicate he seemed interested in her statements, the wheelchair, and the tone of her voice. The latter indicates a more detached air, a cold read on her body language. His eyes flicker over her hands, throat, mouth - he seems only concerned with her body language, and what she says is incidental to that. "You… tripped," he says quietly, flipping through his notepad for a moment. "That's an unfortunate accident. Perhaps you should check in with CMO Diego; your chart didn't indicate any bruising concurrent with a fall. Perhaps you have been overworked, or have a medical condition the chief medical officer was not appraised of?" Despite the words, Cadmus's tone makes it plainly apparent he is *not* offering her a 'way out'.

Demos draws in a breath. She lifts a glance to Cadmus as he speaks, then nods to the Marine at the door. He shifts to stand in the way of the hatch, blocking entry and egress. Demos' tone drains of warmth, of fellow feeling, of pity or concern. Warmth leaves her eyes and the hazel takes on the cold glitter of tiger's eye. "You have lied to me now three times, Apprentice. I will give you but one more chance to tell the truth, or I will see you detained." She sits straight now, her form having lost all of its softness, retaining a vaguely dangerous charm.

Swigert's nineteen, and nineteen-year-olds are known for doing some really stupid things. So it is that she sets her jaw, takes another deep breath, and stares into the camera with a hint of that confidence with which she swept into the room just a few minutes before. "I tripped," she says, her voice clear and crisp. "And I fell. And I don't remember what happened next." Gone is the airhead act — the winks and the giggling, the light humor and the blatant ogling of fit, fit men — to be replaced by proud defiance in tone and posture. "So I guess somebody better tell boss I'm not making it to work this morning."

Scratching the side of his nose with the butt of his pen, Cadmus sniffs idly. Once Swigert is out of the room, he sighs heavily and swings his chair around to face you. "If this is the road Swigert wants to go down, I can't see much we'll do to dissuade her until we can file charges. That should shake her up some, but… I don't like it," he says tonelessly, leaning back to stare at the ceiling.

Once Swigert has been rolled off for processing and detainment, Demos sighs and collapses back into her chair, "Frak it. I blew that one. Sorry, Maragos." The pen is dropped on the desk and she switches off the recording. "I thought she would let it go." Inhaling, she releases it slowly, "She was lying about tripping. She didn't. She lied about turning on the light. She couldn't have. And frakit, I didn't get to the question about how the liquid got spilled."

"My fault to. I shouldn't have jumped in like that and broken your flow. But I'm starting to feel like the longer we wait, the more of a chance this has to boil out of control," Cadmus says, still eyeing the ceiling. After a moment he pitches forward, tucking his pen back into his shirt. "My supposition is that whoever she's protecting, she feels she owes something to - nobody's gonna do a court martial unless they've got a really good reason. My guess is that the liquid was never spilled, it was deliberately poured out, probably after she was unconscious. But we need to keep her detained - partly for her own safety, and partly because if the actual culprit thinks we're getting close, they might screw up. They can't go to ground on the Cerberus - there's nowhere to hide."

Demos lifts a hand, "Not your fault. You made an excellent point and if I'd let my irritation go, you might have gotten her to crack." She frowns a little, eyebrows lifting, "Though you know… That is an interesting notion. If it was spilled after she was unconscious, that would be why she did not mention it when I asked if anything was amiss in the closet. The light switch could have been fraked with after the fact as well. Though that does not answer why it did not come on when she went in the first time. Unless she was a target." Sighing, she turns to her notes. "She mentioned a Crewman Vivian Foster as being the one she went into the storage room with. According to Swigert, they were arguing about the other woman's engagement." Looking at Cadmus again, she glances at the computer system, "I asked Lieutenant Oberlin from Intel to give the security footage a look. He has experience with augmenting video."

Cadmus furrows his brow, and quickly jots down Foster's name on his notepad. "Did she say why they were arguing about the engagement? I infer that this has something to do with disapproval of Crewman Foster's choices?" Cadmus says. He pauses, snaps his fingers, and leans back in his chair. "I had a cousin who was to be married when I was a boy. My mother didn't approve of the marriage - she was always getting into everyone's business, being a busybody. She and my cousin argued. It ended with my cousin stabbing her in the leg. Just a little. Got his blood up. Maybe Swigert really knew what buttons of Foster's to push, and she wanted to frame up Swigert for negligence? It doesn't answer all the questions, but it's a theory."

Demos nods, "She said that the man Foster was engaged to was a jerk. Foster apparently got 'in her face' about it. She said that Foster did enter the storage room with her, remained for about fifteen minutes, then left. After that, Swigart was to do inventory. She climbed on a crate to reach for something and fell off. But… As the medical examination showed, there were no bruises or contusions consistent with a fall. She did not appear to have struck her head on anything, unless I missed something. So… I think we need to find Foster, contact Swigert's boss to let him know she is being held, and talk to the JAG. Not necessarily in that order."

Nodding, Cadmus pushes himself out of his seat and pops his neck by tilting it left and right. "Roger that. We should probably find Foster sooner rather than later. She'll know we pulled Swigert in, we shouldn't let her have any time to construct an alibi if she's guilty of something. Honestly, I hope she is. It'll make me feel a lot better about not having to look over my shoulder for a firebug every time I walk into an empty room with no lights on," he says.

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