(or, Why Ward ain't around no more) Judge says, "Senior Explorer Ward Pritchard." That wasn't so bad. "You stand accused.." Oh right. "..of numerous crimes against the Sol Central Government, the Expeditionary Corps, and SEV Torch." Oh boy. "Dereliction of duty; drinking on duty; hooliganism; fraud; animal cruelty; endangerment; insubordination.." They are serious "..inappropriate workplace humor; medical malpractice; misuse of comms, insubordination.." They are /really/ serious. "..eating in uniform, smoking in uniform, aiding the enemy.." Ward Pritchard sighs __________ MEANWHILE On another ship, in another system. One man sets out to right a wrong. In the name of duty, in the name of friendship, in the name of honour itself, the time is now. In other words.. ??? says, "Es ist Ehrenzeit." __________ Prosecutor asks, "And at this point you decided to do, what exactly?" Don't they know already? Judge shouts, "Answer the question!" Ward Pritchard sighs, "To bash its head in with-" Prosecutor exclaims, "To bash its head in with a plasteel bat!" Prosecutor throws the photo - animal cruelty! The courtroom observers gasp! Ward Pritchard exclaims, "Hey they were doing sick shit to that monkey!" Judge shouts, "No swearing!" Ward Pritchard says, "Sorry. And the arresting MAAs agreed I did the right thing. Prosecutor asks, "Really, they said you did the right thing?" Ward Pritchard says, "Yeah they did! One did. Secretly. In a whisper.." ______ Prosecutor says, "SXPL Pritchard is then quoted as saying, [expletives deleted]" Judge gasps! The courtroom observers gasp! Prosecutor asks, "Any particular excuse for this one?" Ward Pritchard says, "Uh-" Prosecutor says, "Nothing further." ______ Prosecutor asks, "Perhaps you could explain to the court why a loyal SCG citizen would aid a known criminal?" Ward Pritchard asks, "Well she uh.. texted me saying she was hungry so I figured.. if the AI can read our mail then everyone will know anyway?" Judge asks, "Are you asking us or telling us?" Ward Pritchard asks, "Telling?" Prosecutor shouts "That protein bar allowed her energy enough to jeopardize the entire Torch mission!" Ward Pritchard coughs! Judge says, "Well, Senior Explorer?" Ward Pritchard says, "Does it make it better that I helped catch her after?" Judge says, ".." Prosecutor says, ".." The entire courtroom stares! Judge says, "Yes." Ward Pritchard says, "Whew." Prosecutor says, "Prosecution moves to withdraw the charge of 'aiding the enemy' and submit the charges of 'misappropriation of Expeditionary Corps gear under 50 thalers' and 'littering'." Judge says, "Granted." Ward Pritchard sighs ____ Prosecutor says, "Now, I don't know about anyone else in the room, but if I were infested with dozens of giant arachnoform eggs, I'd want them removed by a trained professional." Prosecutor stares at the courtroom observers Prosecutor says, "With a medical degree." Prosecutor stares at Ward Pritchard Prosecutor says, "Who definitely was not drunk." Ward Pritchard shouts, "I was just hungover!" Prosecutor exclaims, "See? He admits it!" The courtroom observers laugh! Judge hammers the gavel! Judge shouts, "Order!" Ward Pritchard mumbles, "Woops.." ____ Prosecutor says, "In conclusion, there's a single way to see this pattern of behavior for what it is; overwhelming proof. Overwhelming proof of an explorer who chooses which orders to follow and which orders to ignore. Overwhelming proof of an explorer for whom the Expeditionary Corps' rules are made up and the ranks don't matter. Overwhelming proof of an explorer who 'eyeballs it' instead of measuring, and who 'wings it' instead of planning ahead. Is this the kind of man we want potentially making first contact? ..the answer is no." Judge nods his head. Ward Pritchard says, "Well uh. I've been sitting here listening to the same stuff you all have. But in spite of the exposition dump to the contrary, every other corpsman agrees that after themselves I'm the second best medic aboard SEV Torch today. Also I'm no lawyer (and I don't have one) but I believe the maximum penalty is time served and it's been like an hour or two already.. so.. yeah." Judge deliberates! Prosecutor stares! The courtroom observers holds its collective breath! Judge, "Seeing as this is your first court-martial, I'll let you off on time served with a warning: Senior Explorer Pritchard.. don't do.. /this/ again." Judge hammers the gavel! * * N O T G U I L T Y * * Ward Pritchard cheers! Prosecutor groans! The courtroom observers throw confetti!' The air rumbles with the sound of a shuttlecraft landing! ??? Yells, "ACHTUNG!!" Ward screams! Ward's left foot goes flying off in an arc! Ward's left leg goes flying off in an arc! Ward's right foot goes flying off in an arc! Ward's right leg goes flying off in an arc! Ward's right hand goes flying off in an arc! Ward's right arm goes flying off in an arc! Ward's lower body goes flying off in an arc! Ward's left hand goes flying off in an arc! Ward's left arm goes flying off in an arc! Ward's head goes flying off in an arc! Judge is hit in the head by the Ward Pritchard's head! The Courtroom Observers are showered in gore! Prosecutor is hit in the lower body with the lower body! The shuttlecraft airlock opens. The light of an iPatch pierces outwards through a rolling fog. The silhouette of a mysterious trenchcoated figure poses dramatically in the doorway! Aaron Ehrenhof yells, "Quickly Ward! Get aboard!" Judge says, "..." Prosecutor says, "..." Courtroom observers says, "..." Aaron Ehrenhof says, "..." ................................. Aaron Ehrenhof says, ".. Scheiße."