“Leading Private Fontane April Kezia Tempest Zakiya Ivanoff, you are charged with assaulting Lance Corporal Dawn Natasha Rachel Enid Belicia Kestral with intent to cause bodily harm. How do you plead?” Elder stood in his formal uniform, with Leading Private Ivanoff also in her formal uniform standing in front of him and looking down at him. She had to, she was ten centimeters taller than he was. Being short did not bother Elder as much as it used to, but he wished he were taller now so the relative height was in his favor.
“Leading Private Ivanoff pleads Not Guilty.” Leading Private Ivanoff’s lawyer, a Lieutenant from Greenar (a colony of Concar), also in his formal uniform, rumbled the statement in the small general-purpose office Elder was assigned for his purposes. His first use of this office was to discipline one of his enlisted.
“Very well Lieutenant, please state your case.”
“Since you are Leading Private Ivanoff’s Supervising Officer, you should make the prosecution’s case first Midshipman Elder.”
“I know the case against her Lieutenant.”
“But I need to know what you are presenting as a case so I can have an honest chance to rebut it Midshipman Elder.”
“Oh, yes you’re right Lieutenant. I had not thought of that. This is my first time holding a disciplinary hearing.”
“Yes, I expected that Midshipman.”
“Very well Lieutenant. I have four statements from witnesses giving details of the fight and while they are not here now, each witness is available. You have read the statements I believe Lieutenant?”
“Yes I have and I would point out that the statements are not trustworthy since each of the witnesses is known to be a friend of Lance Corporal Kestral. Indeed, two of the four work for the Lance Corporal.”
“Lieutenant, may I remind you of the training and other measures to prevent lies on duty? Are you claiming that these four people have found a way around these measures?”
“Not at all, however, I will remind the Midshipman that there are ways to tell the absolute truth and still lie. The choice of words used may give impressions that are contrary to reality and there is nothing in Naval training to prevent lies by omission, Each of these four could have left out vital information, vital that is to Leading Private Ivanoff’s defense”
“You have a valid point Lieutenant Vallese. Do you wish a delay until the witnesses can be summoned and questioned?”
“Surprisingly, no. Even without destroying the statements by cross-examining the witnesses, I can effectively defend Leading Private Ivanoff. Carry on Midshipman.”
Elder glanced at the holo-recorder recording every aspect of this proceeding and wondered why the Leading Private had a lawyer present, the most punishment he could give out was three days confinement in quarters on reduced rations. Moreover, even he knew that the reduced rations would probably be made up by snacks brought by her roommates Why did she have a lawyer present?
“Lieutenant, before I proceed, I have a question for you. Why are you here? A lawyer is not normally present at a minor disciplinary hearing. Since Lance Corporal Kestral pressed only the most minor charges possible for the incident, and now you are here, I wonder why this is even happening.
Lieutenant Vallese glanced at Leading Private Ivanoff, that set alarms off in Elder’s mind. She, however, was studying Elder. After a second, she nodded slightly
“Midshipman Elder, please stop the official recording of this hearing. This is an order under Imperial Law 7-167A(523).”
Elder reached over and shut off the holo-recorder. He knew that section of Imperial Law. Back at the Academy, during the investigation of the murder of Cadet First Class Gemma Neva Marion Irving, really Marcia Chayka Rajah Sepheri, the Imperial Services agent, who had actually committed the crime, invoked it often, usually when trying to frame Elder.
“Lieutenant Vallese, you had better be able to back up that order.” Elder didn’t mention that he hadn’t shut off the back-up holo-recorder he had set up just in case of problems.
“Certainly Midshipman. Leading Private Ivanoff is actually Team Chief Ivanoff of the Imperial Services Agency. She is leading an investigation into certain actions by Lance Corporal Kestral and certain others associated with the Lance Corporal. Captain Mizutani is aware of the investigation. That is all I can reveal at this time.”
Elder sat down and pondered the implications of the revelation. Standing back up once he realized that he had sat down, he asked, “And what proof do you have Lieutenant? Granted that you have been through the conditioning against lying, it isn’t an absolute guarantee that you can’t lie, as you are aware.”
Lieutenant Vallese handed over a personal electronic notebook, sealed with the Imperial Seal It contained orders as specified by the Lieutenant. Elder looked it over, everything was intact and official. He handed it back.
“All right Lieutenant, now what?”
“Now Midshipman, you find the Leading Private guilty and give her a small punishment so that she has reason to continue interacting with the Lance Corporal in the manner she wishes. I am not familiar with the techniques involved but I understand that any antagonism perceived as a result of this action will cover any slips as Team Chief Ivanoff continues to investigate Lance Corporal Kestral.”
Elder reached over and switched the official holo-recorder back on. “Leading Private (he almost said Team Chief but caught himself in plenty of time) Ivanoff you are found guilty as charged and confined to quarters for three days under reduced rations.” Elder figured that confining her for three days would not affect her investigation, she had a team after all (how many people were on the team he wondered) and her roommates would probably sneak food to her to cover the reduced rations. However, she was now officially limited to her workplace, her meals, any official appointments, and her quarters. She looked surprised but, under the mask of her face, Elder thought she looked pleased as well. Shortly after her punishment ended, she was transferred away from Elder’s command. Elder learned, since he deliberately investigated, that Lance Corporal Kestral had also been transferred. Elder did wonder if the lawyer was an undercover ISA agent, it would make sense.