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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Friday, Sol 48 (1.1.48)  00:52 AM NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Saturday, 20 February 2016  2:00 PM PST

It was almost one AM NST and Zeke Jackson had been under questioning for twelve hours. He was caught in a cargo area on the QE II and accused of attempting to be a stowaway on the first mission to Mars.

Mr. Duncan had both of his Security Officers on Earth Prime questioning Zeke and he was watching from his monitor in his office in Peru. Zeke flowed through the stages of interrogation. First he denied everything, then he acted annoyed, then he went silent, then he got angry, now he was back to silence.

Nick had told Duncan that he had to end the interrogation at midnight, but Duncan had interpreted that to mean that when his staff took an hour for a meal break, he could leave Zeke handcuffed at the table and add an hour on to the interrogation. Despite their efforts, they hadn’t learned much more than they could figure out on their own. 

Duncan was feeling frustrated and his Security team was feeling cruel. They were leaving Zeke sitting at the table and going to bed, but then Claude Dubois walked into the room. Claude looked at the monitor at Duncan and said, “What have you learned?” “Not much,” Duncan replied. Claude looked at his exhausted former employee and said, “Has he been fed?” The Security team both shook their heads, ‘no.’ Claude then said, “Take him to the Commons area and feed him, and then let him clean up, then put him in Section J in one of the quarters. I’ll send two people to watch over him tonight and you two can get some sleep.”

Duncan did not agree with the Claude’s orders, but he couldn’t do anything about it. Claude was the Commodore of the spaceport and he could release Zeke if he wanted, or have him put to death. Duncan had pushed it farther than he should and ESEP was not an organization that condoned torture of anyone regardless of what they had done.

Duncan was embarrassed. He almost failed to catch Zeke and his failure was in front of three of the most important people in ESEP. Duncan didn’t like being embarrassed.

Closeout of QE II had gone ahead as scheduled. Jenna went off ship to see talk with Claude before the closeout. She had wanted to interview Zeke, but Duncan asked for him to be isolated for a few hours. The fear that he was some kind of terrorist was Jenna’s greatest concern, but after talking to Claude and reviewing Zeke’s history she was convinced he didn’t fit the profile.

Under Claude’s orders, Zeke was allowed to sleep until eight AM NST, dress, and eat. Duncan had planned to start the interrogation at five AM, but he discovered that Claude had talked to Nick about his methods and Duncan was ordered to stand down. Claude would take charge of the prisoner and Security would only be allowed to guard Zeke.

Nick, Claude, and Jenna had decided she would interview Zeke at ten AM. Jenna’s skill at assess someone in a short period of time was a natural ability that had only improved with her years of experience in solving people issues. She wanted to do this face-to-face, which involved her going off ship. After closeout, no one was supposed to cross the ship/spaceport barrier unless it was mission critical. They decided this was mission critical.

Claude had Zeke brought to his quarters and asked the guards to wait outside. Nick was present via the video monitor. Claude asked Zeke to sit down and asked him if he wanted anything to drink. He shook his head ‘no.’ Zeke was unsure what was going on. He expected the interrogation, but this was more like a friendly conference.

The door opened and Jenna walked in. Zeke immediately stood up and faced her. Jenna said, “Have a seat Zeke.” Claude asked her if she wanted anything and she said, “If you have tea, that would be great.” She turned to Zeke and said, “Zeke, do you want something?” Zeke said, “Ah, tea would be great.” Claude smiled. Already she had gotten farther with Zeke than Security and she had just walked in the door. He began preparing the tea. 

Jenna sat down, looked Zeke in the eye and began, “First, I apologize for your treatment yesterday. What you’ve done is a major violation of our program, and you will answer for that in court; however, you were mistreated last night. That is unacceptable.” Zeke shook his head, and said, “Admiral, I deserved what I got, and I know I will be punished. I am sorry I have created a problem for you.” Jenna was not expecting Zeke’s humble attitude. She skipped her lead in questions and went to the heart of the matter, “Zeke, …why?”

Zeke looked down for a moment and then looked back at her and said, “You’re the best. Not only you, but your entire crew. I want to go to Mars and I want it to be with your crew. I would stay in a food locker the entire trip if it means I can go to Mars with you and your crew. If I had the chance…I’m sorry,…I would do it again.” Jenna said, “Why didn’t you apply for the crew?” At that moment Claude interrupted and said, “He can’t.”