PHD #204: Who and What She Was
Who and What She Was
Summary: Cora interviews Constin on the subject of Coll.
Date: 18 Sep 2041 AE
Related Logs: Clinging to Life
Constin Cora 
TACCO's Office - Deck 10
Full of ex-Intel things, and highbrow Caprican stuff. (Real desc pending)
Post-Holocaust Day: #204

Lauren Coll's corpse is on ice, her personal effects are in the evidence locker, her last letter set off flags in Intel, so now her husband is waiting for the interview that Cora has 'requested'. Moods are sunny across the board, today.

Cora arrives promptly, though not until Constin is already situated, of course. She has in her hand an envelope, which has clearly been opened, no measures taken to try to disguise that fact. "Sergeant Constin," she greets the big marine as she enters, her tone polite, but serious. She takes a seat across from him, and sets the letter down, sliding it across the table towards him.

Constin's manner is a half second off from textbook. He rises when Cora enters, but a half second slow. He greets her properly with the single word, "Sir," a half second late. Eyes the letter on the desk for an idle half-second, and takes it as he returns to his seat.

Cora nods at Constin's greeting, and then just sits and watches, albeit discreetly, as he takes the letter. "I apologize that we were unable to get this to you more immediately," she offers, "And that it was necessary that we open and read it. The invasion of your privacy is regrettable, but as I'm certain you understand, the security of the fleet must come first."

"Yeah," is Constin's monosyllabic response to the 'regrettable' need for such procedures. Without further commentary, the sergeant draws the letter out of the torn envelope and begins reading. He cracks a smile once early, and again late in the reading, before glancing back up at Cora at letter's end.

Cora just continues to watch as he reads, without the need to take notes, since this is likely being recorded. She sits in silence, as unobtrusive as is possible, until he glances back up, and even then waits another beat before asking, "You were involved in the investigation into Crewman Coll's alleged misconduct, the incident involving the missile that ended up on Captain Sitka's raptor, correct?"

"Close," Constin begins, "I was involved in the investigation into Raptor Three-oh-Five, which concluded that then-Specialist Coll had been derelict in her duties, sir. That's what busted her down to Crewman."

Cora nods, accepting the correction without precisely acknowledging it. "Yes, that." She moves on to the next question, tone remaining even, polite but businesslike. "During this investigation, what was your relationship with Coll?"

"While that investigation was ongoing, through the Jag's ruling and Coll's release, the only exchanges we had can be called up on the Brig's cameras, sir. Casual conversation, within parameters established for acceptable interactions between Em-Pees and prisoners," Constin returns, without batting an eye.

Devlin nods at this response, as if it were the one she had been expecting. "How much do you know about Crewman Coll's background?" she asks.

Constin is still holding the letter in its envelope between his hands as he answers, "Grew up in Yarnell- some little backwater corner of Virgon. Lucked out and got into college, went Fleet after that. Ee-Cee-Oh in an attack Raptor Squadron- Either the Wizards or the Warlocks, can't recall which," he notes, briefly frowning in thought. Anyway, moving on. "Made full Lieutenant. Got de-commissioned after assaulting a marine when she got drunk. Re-enlisted in Deck, last assignment was Picon Anchorage, before coming aboard Cerberus on Warday." He waits to see if clarification is needed.

Cora listens to this, making mental notes or whatever she does as she listens. "As far as you're aware," she asks a new question rather than directly following-up on the answer to the old, "Was she acquainted with anyone on board prior to Warday?"

"Couple of the other Picon survivors confirmed her service there. Prior to that, no retrievable records, sir," Constin replies, plain as you please.

"Was she well-known to either of those others from Picon, that you're aware?" Cora asks, "Or just a face familiar in passing? When he has answered that she goes on, "Would you say that you knew her well? Did she at any point keep secrets from you, that you know of?"

"Passing acquaintance, only," Constin states to the former, before the second half of Cora's inquiry prompts- of all things, a crooked grin. "Yeah, sir. I knew her well. And nah, no secrets by the end. Weren't no need." The polished choice of words the sergeant had recited- albeit colored by his drawl, has given way to a more conversational air, at the last prompt.

Cora nods again, and then watches that grin and the words that follow it. Another slow nod, and then she taps the table once, with one long finger and points out, "And yet, in her letter, she mentions being scared of what might come of honesty. Do you know what matters she's referring to there, that she wants to talk about but is afraid to?"

"Yeah," Constin returns, drawing the letter back out as he elaborates. "You're gonna have to sit through some context though, sir. Coll and I got married two weeks before she was slated to transfer into the Harriers, with a new commission. So's we wouldn't be violating frat regs. Her and me had an understanding: no strings attached. If you'll pardon the language, sir, we wanted to frak with a clear conscience. No 'relationship' or 'love' or any such baggage. The 'no attachment' thing didn't hold up." No shame in the marine's manner at either the subject, or phrasing. "She wrote this-" the letter is held up, "Before heading down to Sagittaron."

Cora appears content to sit through some context, or at least she makes no indication that Constin should cut to the chase at any point. She listens, watching the sergeant as he speaks, shaking her head very slightly at the mention of language and the language itself, the gesture dismissive rather than disapproving. "And so this in the letter," she prompts for specifics, "Is referring to…."

"The bit about what she 'never got around to telling me'?" Constin prompts for clarification, before nodding to the answer and stating simply, "That she loves me." A moment afterward, he tacks on, "Sir."

Cora nods in confirmation that that was indeed her question, and then again at the reply. She does not thank him for it, but neither does she question it further, moving on, "Why did she think she would not be afforded a service if she died on the ship?"

Constin takes a moment to re-read that portion of the letter- having only had time to read it once, and not wishing to misspeak. "I ain't religious, and she weren't always, so I can only answer that with speculation, sir." A drawn breath and he speculates, "But she weren't popular. Lot of folks didn't trust her," he adds, voice going extra dry as he addresses those words to Cora. "And those that did ain't exactly paragons of piety. Besides, most of them we've lost ain't had a service, sir."

"True enough," Cora replies with a faint shifting of her chin in response to that. She does not seem quite done on this point, though, all the same, as she prompts once more with a quote: "'I know who and what I am. That's been made clear to me.' What do you think she meant by that?"

"After the Jag's Dee-Oh-Dee verdict, she requested to spend down time in the brig, sir. All approved through the proper channels- voluntary custody," Constin begins. "Because folks were so sour on her. She volunteered for every shit job there was to be done- overtime, special assignment.. Anadyomene. Major Hahn finally gave her a shot at Air Wing again, and two days before, was that little incident under your command, sir. She's one that gave and gave and gave, and couldn't catch a break with a net. THAT's 'who and what she is', sir. One of the three or four most decorated Servicemen alive and on the day she died, folks were lining up to piss on her memory."

Cora nods once more when Constin is finished, either not counting herself among those pissing on Coll's memory or just not bothered by the accusation. There is an almost thoughtful, considering pause, wherein she looks at the marine for a long moment, and then finally she nods again, and rises. "Very well, sergeant," she says, "Thank you for your time. You may keep the letter. The rest of Crewman Coll's belongings will be released to you as soon as they are cleared. There may be more questions to be put to you in the future but for now, you are free to go."

"One more thing, sir," Constin notes, after nodding, but before taking his leave. "When can I expect Lauren's body to be cleared for burial?" The letter is re-folded and replaced again within the envelope, kept in hand, while he regards Cora evenly at his own question.

Cora pauses and considers the question for a moment before replying, "I will have to check, sergeant, I am awaiting an update on that point. When the necessary reviews have been completed. I'll see that someone gets in touch with you."

"Thank you, sir," Constin returns, rising to his feet, and offering the appropriate salute to the woman behind the desk. With the interview completed, and his question answered as best it can be, the marine turns and strides out the hatch.

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