As soon as she arrives back at Hell's Gate, she is charged (dereliction of duty, misbehaving in front of the enemy), arrested (you have the right to remain silent), cuffed (the zip-tie cuts into her wrists; she doesn't try and ease them).
She doesn't like it, but she expected that much.
She is escorted to the Colonel's office after he lands and deigns to summon her. She expects this, too.
She likes it even less.
A short time later, she is standing to attention as much as she can; chin up, back straight, hands behind her back and tied back to back. He is sitting at his desk, arms crossed, expression closed off. Just her and him and a fuck load of silence.
(she has the right to remain in perfect, perfect silence)
(she cannot speak until he does)
"'I didn't sign up for this shit'?"
"You, Chacon, are in damn lot of trouble. You know how many articles you're charged with breaking?"
(she has the right to remain silent, but not to question)
"…I can guess, sir."
"Failure to obey, conduct unbecoming, misbehaving in front of the enemy…that last one could get you shot."
It's not a question, so she cannot say anything except for,
He is staring at her but she is staring off into the distance, eyes fixed on a point that he'll never be able to see. "I want you to speak freely," he tells her.
Her jaw clenches briefly. "I have the right to a court martial." Now her eyes flick over, meet his, and they are blazing black with emotions he has no inclination to name. "Or so I understand."
"Mm, y'do. But back on Earth," he says, getting to his feet and walking around to the front of his desk. "Not here. And I'm not sure lettin' you off the base is the best way forward right now."
(Article 99—Misbehavior before the enemy: "Any member of the armed forces who before or in the presence of the enemy—
(8) Willfully failing to do utmost to encounter enemy.
(a) That the accused was serving before or in the presence of the enemy;
(b) That the accused had a duty to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy certain enemy troops, combatants, vessels, aircraft, or a certain other thing; and
(c) That the accused willfully failed to do the utmost to perform that duty.)
(Maximum punishment: All offenses under Article 99 - death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.)
He can see her shut her eyes for longer than a blink and focus them on another faraway point, and he can see her throat move as she swallows. He can't see her fingers flex as she tries to get feeling back, but he can see the line of tension running through her. His gaze falls to the Bible locket resting at the hollow of her collarbone, and his mouth pulls a little to the side cynically.
He walks forward, takes her chin in his hand and tilts her face up towards him. "I look after my own, tiger, you know that." His voice is quieter than before, but eyes no less hard.
"You ordered me to murder children," she whispers, and mingled with the anger in her being is something that one could only label betrayal. This is the closest they've stood in years, a fact both of them are aware of and ignore.
"That's what's botherin' you?"
He doesn't justify his reasons, and she would have been more surprised if he had. He made his call; she made hers; the only place she can actually question his is in a court.
(but not on Pandora, never on Pandora)
For a long moment, the pair remain in silent tableau; he doesn't move his hand. "Your tour's drawing to a close soon. Another six months, and you are out of here. Unless you want to stay," he adds with one of his almost smiles. A dragon would smile like that, before it lunged in to snap up the unwary knight. She doesn't reply. "Trouble is, Chacon," he continues, stepping away only to walk behind her, "you're useful. Damn useful. And leaving in you a cell seems like a waste of resources."
She can feel cool, sharp metal against the skin of her wrist, and stiffens. But trained Marine that she is, she neither gasps nor spins around, and her boots remain firmly on the ground. Leaving her bleeding on his floor isn't his style; she trusts in that, even now. He twists the knife, cuts her loose, steps back and watches her fingers massage the deep rivets in her skin.
(my job is to keep you alive. I will not succeed.)
She watches as he makes his way back to his seat, the only emotion in the room shown by her glittering dark eyes.
(she has the right to remain silent and she's going to use it)
(if she doesn't, she'll be out of the frying pan with all the troubles that entails)
"You're on restricted duty until I decide what to do with you. Make yourself useful, Chief Warrant Officer. Dismissed."
She salutes, turns on her heel, and marches out with every movement drill perfect. The door shuts behind her with a quiet hiss, and he stares after her a bit longer than he should.
Gertrude Chacon was rapidly turning into a problem, and Miles Quaritch had quite enough problems he couldn't do anything about.
But he might be able to do something about her.