Interrogation

It’s been a good long while since I’ve uploaded a story here. Well I have one for you today. This story is a little different from stories that have gone before. It is entirely dialogue – it doesn’t even have tags. That was the only rule laid down in the competition. I didn’t send it in because, after reading previous winners, I wasn’t sure it was going to fit. In any event I hope you enjoy it.

Interrogation

“Master Chief Warden Darrow. Interrogation of Lieutenant Dunn. Begin recording.”
“I won’t tell you anything, Master Chief.”
“I will do my duty, Lieutenant. You stand accused of murder, sabotage, and, endangerment. If found guilty you will never be released. The captain wants to know why. Why did you do it?”
“I will not answer you. I await the trial.”

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“Lieutenant McKnight, I must protest. This isn’t your area.”
“No, Master Chief. However you’ve been trying for three days. A different approach might be successful.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“The man he killed. It was done impersonally. I’m going to remind him of it. He doesn’t need to talk.”

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“Lieutenant McKnight. Interrogation of Lieutenant Dunn. Begin recording.”
“I didn’t answer the Master Chief’s questions. I won’t answer yours?”
“I’m cuter than he is. Maybe you’ll answer just to keep me around.”
“I prefer blonds.”
“How about this then. I was there when Crewman Adams’ body was discovered. Without an examination you might have thought he was sleeping. You killed him though. He had a younger brother an older sister, a mother, a father, a girlfriend. He had family who cared for him. You killed him. You destroyed his tomorrows. You destroyed all that he could ever be?”
“It… it was necessary.”
“Necessary. Would you mind explaining that?”
“I cannot.”
“Was Crewman Adams involved in some clandestine operation? Are you privy to some classified information?”
“I offer no defense.”
“Malcolm, we have never exactly been friends. We’ve worked together enough though that I think I know you. If there was some justification for your actions tell us.”
“I cannot, Lieutenant.”

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“I believe him.”
“Believe what? He’s told us nothing.”
“Not true, Master Chief. He’s told us that the murder was necessary. That was the voice of a choiceless man.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“That he is being coerced of compelled into doing these things.”
“By whom?”
“That’s what I want to find out.”

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“Lieutenant Dunn, have you ever heard of the trolley problem?”
“No.”
“You’re on a train speeding towards three people tied to the tracks. The breaks don’t work. All you can do is switch it to another track. On that other track is one person. You have not endangered these people but you have to make a decision. Do you willfully kill one person or passively kill three.”
“I would pull the lever and kill the one person.”
“Why?”
“Simple math. In that situation I would try to save as many lives as possible.”
“So you believe questions of morality can be determined by math? Interesting. What about this? What if the three people where strangers and the one was your brother? What then?”
“I… I couldn’t do that.”
“So you would let the three people die?”
“I probably would.”
“What if it was five people? Ten? A hundred? How many before you would sacrifice your brother?”
“Why… why are you asking me this?”
“We know that you had little to nothing to do with Mr Adams before you killed him. It wasn’t personal. You said that his death was necessary. You had a reason. Something that you can almost justify to yourself. Was his death a necessary evil? He was an innocent wasn’t he? But he knew something and had to be got rid off.”
“I’m not saying anything.”

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“Lieutenant, what makes you think I can get the information from him?”
“Permission to speak freely, Captain?”
“Go ahead.”
“You’re the Captain. A Captain can put the fear of God into anyone. The uniform, the scowl, and a voice like a hammer. You could get a monk to break his fifty year vow of silence.”
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“Lieutenant.”
“Captain.”
“I’ve been informed that you refuse to explain yourself.”
“That is correct.”
“Well you will explain yourself to me.”
“No, sir. I will not.”
“Yes you will. You will account for yourself. You have sabotaged this vessel. That is a treasonable offense. I want to know why you betrayed your oath, why you betrayed this ship, and why you betrayed me.”
“I don’t believe there is any answer that would satisfy you, sir.”
“You’re damned right. You endangered the lives of your shipmates, and committed murder.”
“I didn’t endanger the lives of anyone on this ship, sir. The reason no one died in the explosion is because I was careful.”
“Do you really expect me to believe that! We have one person we know you murdered. We know it was for no reason so what are a few more deaths?”
“There was a reason, sir.”
“Then I’m not leaving this room until I find out.”
“I cannot tell you, sir.”
“You will.”
“I had orders, sir.”
“Orders! I give the orders on this ship, Lieutenant! Do you think that any idiot with a stars on his shoulder can give an order? If the order did not come through me it is invalid.”
“It was…”
“And how can there be an order to commit treason?”
“I do not see it see it as treason, sir.”
“Enlighten me, Lieutenant. How is sabotage not a treasonable act?”
“If it prevents a much greater threat. Our mandate is to safeguard…”
“I will not have you telling me our mandate. That could be considered insubordination. Though I suppose it can’t get worse for you.”
“No, sir.”
“I’ve just received the damage report on the incident. The repairs will take several weeks! Ms Borg and Mr Kriskovich are about ready to keelhaul you. You know what engineers are like about their ships.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Now, Lieutenant. You will tell me who gave you your orders.”
“I can’t, sir.”
“Tell me the reason for the orders.”
“To prevent the mission, sir.”
“So you believe that the lives of our comrades are worthless? You believe that there was no point in their rescue?”
“All lives are important, sir. We are talking about a rescue mission for a few hundred people. There lives are not worth the lives of thousands.”
“Lieutenant McKnight told me your solution to moral problems. I refuse to allow mathematics to govern such decisions. That rescue mission was the right thing to do. What might happen later is the enemy’s responsibility. Are you saying you’ve been given secret orders? Why not simply abort the mission?”
“Public opinion, sir. The public would never accept the abandonment of…”
“But you are prepared to accept it? What happened to never leaveing our people behind?”
“Sometimes we have to consider the many over the few. Those were my orders, sir.”
“And where you also ordered to commit murder?”
“Adams couldn’t be allowed to tell anyone what happened.”
“Except you did some damn sloppy work and were found out! I hope you are aware that following orders is not a defense. It was not a defense at Nuremberg and it sure as shit isn’t a defense here!”
“You can’t possibly think that my actions equate to those kinds of atrocities! I did what I did because I believed it was the right thing to do! The military has always operated on the sacrifice of the few for the many. Crewman Adams life may prevent a war. History may…”
“I don’t know how history will report these events. The fact is you have crossed the line. If you a can provide a name then maybe we can trace the orders. If your lucky you might be able to spend a few years of retirement free.”
“I can’t provide names, sir. I was only given a code to prove legitimacy.”
“You have failed in your mission. A team is being sent in to retrieve the hostages as we speak.”

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“Mr Dunn.”
“Captain.”
“I hope my presence here is not unwelcome.”
“No, sir. I don’t get many visitors.”
“Why are you is solitary?”
“I asked for it, sir.”
“I suppose you mightn’t have heard the news. We are at war. The rescue mission was bungled. The investigation is on going. Sufficed to say only a handful of the hostages were rescued.”
“How did it happen, sir?”
“After the commandos were sent in the ship was over flown and attacked. War was declared a few days later. We will hold our own, Mr Dunn, we will prevail. They don’t really have the power to stop us. I suppose it might have been a matter of honor for them. We will win but not before thousands have died. I can’t forgive you for what you did, Mr Dunn. However I think I finally understand why you felt it necessary.”
“I was wrong, sir.”
“Oh.”
“Moral problems can’t be solved with math. If people are being held against their will we have to act. It is a greater evil to do nothing.”
“Even though it has lead to this?”
“We are only responsible for our own actions, sir. If we always behave honorably we cannot go far wrong.”
“Good day, Mr Dunn.”

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I hope you enjoyed that. Please tell me what you think. As usual I apologies for the errors that have crept in – I did catch a few!

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