Kassia now had all the ammo she needed to be sure that Ma’yen had done everything he’d done to Garatt. Now she needed to figure out what to do about it.
Until he arrived at Kassia's office, N'shen had been half-sure she was going to tell him she was going to give birth. The fact that he was imminently to be a father to as many as four in the very near future weighed on him. Every second he had to spend on trying to track down saboteurs was a second he was not spending with his children's mothers.
"Is everything all right?" he asked as he entered.
“I need your opinion on something,” Kass said. “And R’tal’s. There’s klah and cookies if you want it, but you might want alcohol by the end of this.”
"The klah will be fine," said N'shen as he poured himself a mug. He stopped a moment. "And a cookie." He took one of the treats and shoved it into his mouth.
R’tal was a couple of minutes behind N’shen (and slightly more out of shape, and catching his breath for a moment as he stepped in after a headlong dash from the Hatching Grounds. “...We need to talk about how you communicate ‘not an emergency’ again, don’t we?”
“I sent a runner, I didn’t use dragons,” Kassia said. “Do I need to send Harpers to sing ‘not an emergency’ with the runner next time?” She raised her eyebrow at him.
"That does sound lovely," N'shen sighed. He was in no mood to fight. But he could be persuaded – with a cookie, perhaps – to take care of the business of giving advice. "What sort of advice do you need?"
“Yes to the Harpers. I thought maybe all the golds of the world had decided to descend on us again.” R’tal threw himself into the closest chair with a sigh. “Are we doing advice now?”
“Ma’yen,” Kassia said bluntly. “I want advice on what we can do with him because I’m pretty sure that I’m not allowed to use my dagger on him.”
“Okay.” And R’tal sat up, looking more serious. “Run me through what we know again. My head has been all Conclave the last few days.”
Kassia nodded. “While he spent some time doing things against some of the Candidates, he focused his attentions on a boy named Garatt. He systematically turned other ACMs against the boy and started by instituting an impossible amount of detentions over minor issues. During those detentions he used his hand and cane on Garatt’s hand and buttocks multiple times. Garatt was seen in the Infirmary for the damage and also for trouble sleeping, likely inspired by the abuse. There has also been indications that he may have been grooming the boy for sexual abuse, although there is no evidence that he went that far.”
"Skies above," N'shen breathed. "Well. You've already taken care of the obvious. He's not going to hurt anyone else from a cell. I suppose the question is whether you can just… leave him in that cell forever, isn't it? Well. Why can't you?"
“I’d like to,” Kassia admitted. “But he has the complication of having a dragon. I suppose we could arrange for guarded visits, but we can’t keep them apart forever.”
Faranth.” R’tal wasn’t looking so relaxed any more. He poured himself a klah, buying himself time to think with a mouthful. “Okay. What do we know happened, how do we know it and what do we just think happened?”
“I have evidence from the healers, their records, Nayari and her dragon, and Culyar and his dragon,” Kassia said. “The detentions were all recorded in his own records that Nyari gave me and I can show you. Culyar took care of the boy and recorded the evidence of caning, physical attack by hand, and sleep disturbance. Nayari talked to Ma’yen and she said that he implied that he’d make a good ‘green rider’ and the connotations that went with that while he showed signs of arousal, but that part is more speculation than surety.”
"Gross," N'shen spat. "Can we not exile them? I know I never want to see his face again." Nor the face of anyone else who would dare hurt a child this way. "And whether it's Ardeth's fault or not, they're a package deal."
“Where do we exile him to?” Kassia asked. “You can’t exile a rider out of a Weyr and who would take him knowing what he is?”
“More to the point, if we exile him what happens after that?” R’tal said. “If you dump him somewhere like Ista and Faranth help us he manages to manipulate himself back into a position of power.. And he’s really very good at that, isn’t it?” He grimaced. “Do we have any proof at all he was touching the boy? We’ve got options for rape, but if we can’t prove it..”
She shook her head. “The evidence suggests that he didn’t actually rape the boy,” she said. “At least, we couldn’t prove it if he did and I had Foreth ask subtly. The rest we have solid evidence on. I could have Foreth try again and push, but I’m not sure we’d get the answer we wanted anyway.”
“Shells.” R’tal looked disgusted as a memory struck him. “And when the kid ran and we arrested him.. Wasn’t he fresh from a flight then?”
“The young greenrider?” Kassia asked. “I doubt it’s coincidence. Nothing we can act on, but we can act on the rest and keep Garatt safe from now on.”
"And anyone else he might target in the future," N'shen sighed. "What's the longest we can keep him locked up? Or can we cane him and call it done?"
“Okay.” And as was R’tal’s habit he reached to swipe paper from Kassia’s desk. “First thing, he doesn’t get to have flights anymore. Can Foreth ground Ardeth from those indefinitely? I don’t trust him with them.”
“I assume it’s something she’ll have to keep doing, but I’m okay with her doing that,” Kassia said. “I’m also a fan of lashes.” Let the arse get some of what he gave.
"Doling out a punishment and more concrete permanent restrictions will be much easier than trying to keep him locked away," N'shen agreed. "Of course, he shouldn't be allowed anywhere near children."
“Keeping him locked away without Ardeth is difficult,” R’tal agreed. “Though I must say I’d have no objection to him being confined to his weyr -- or a weyr - for a longer period. He’s Fort, if he’s out free and feeling misused he’ll be spilling poison and frankly we have enough to deal with.” No need to reward him with a usual bronzerider weyr. Other weyrs would be available. “We could live without another thing that needs guards, but..”
“Keeping him locked to a weyr with Foreth keeping Ardeth grounded might be workable,” Kassia agreed. “But jailing him doesn’t seem like enough. We’re not Fort, but we can’t be soft of people who hurt others like this. Young people like this.”
"Bread rations? Bread and vegetables? Water? He should certainly be deprived of anything pleasant," said N'shen. Perhaps a regular dusting of itchweed powder, too, if such a thing were possible.
R’tal sighed. “..We need to talk to a Healer,” he said after a moment. “K’ren, maybe. If he were twenty turns younger I’d have no objection to lashes, not for this. But.. he is old. If it went wrong and it killed him..”
Kassia made a face. She didn’t want to kill the man, but she wasn’t pleased that lashes might not be on the table. “Fine,” she said with a dismissive wave.
"Agreed." N'shen was not sure he would lose any sleep over M'ayen if lashes were too much. But Ardeth… Well, it was best that the punishment fit the crime, and they could not very well punish him for all the crimes he probably committed at Fort.
“You are right though,” R’tal added. “It doesn’t feel enough. But--” He shrugged helplessly. “Give me ideas here. Other than throwing him in the darkest dampest weyr we can find and only letting him out for Fall.”
“We could check to see if he’s healthy enough for some sort of manual labor?” Kassia suggested, feeling a bit helpless for options.
"Whatever he hates, I'd make him do that," said N'shen. "But… I'd be afraid of what he would do if he were unsupervised." He shrugged.
“Who said it was unsupervised?” Kassia asked. “I hate to have to use the manpower, but I don’t want him anywhere without a guard whether it’s a weyr he’s jailed in or wherever we might want him.”
“If he’s healthy enough to fight Thread he can do manual labour,” R’tal said. “Though.. Let’s be careful here. Is the kid going back to the Barracks?”
“I have no idea,” Kassia said. “I’m not sure he knows what he wants to do yet. But either way I don’t want Ma’yen anywhere near him or the Barracks.”
"Agreed," said N'shen. He could spare a guard to keep an eye on M'ayen if Kassia could, most definitely. "Scrubbing pots, washing laundry… and drilling and fighting Thread are about all I want him doing."
R’tal bit his lip. “I’d agree but.. Both of those are chores that tend to be heavily occupied by Candidates on chore duty,” he pointed out. “What about-- we are going to need to tidy up mess left by the Hatching Grounds explosion.”
“I was thinking something more physical like that anyway,” Kassia said with a nod. “Let him join that group which should be primarily men from staffers or crafter backgrounds. No Candidates and away from the Barracks.”
“And people big enough to hit back if he tries anything. I wouldn’t put it past him to try on the Kitchens staff if Larissa wasn’t stood over him glaring,” R’tal was making notes. “Drilling, fighting Thread -- will Ardeth hunt without his rider?”
“I suppose we could have Foreth make him if he won’t,” Kass said, reaching around to pull her braid over her shoulder so that she could tug on it. “I’m hoping that’s not necessary though. Otherwise that’s another place Ma’yen gets guarded and gets out. I’m really not liking how often he gets out. Too many chances of something going wrong.”
N'shen nodded. "Best make a trial of that one. See whether he'll go on his own. Then escalate from there if we have to."
“I’ll just have Foreth keep an eye on him and if he’s not hunting, we’ll act.” Kassia gave another tug on her braid, playing with the end of it. “This is my fault.”
“This is M’ayen’s fault,” R’tal corrected. “How was Ardeth acting when Foreth questioned him? Complicit?”
Kassia grunted, not accepting his correction but she said, “He was sad, understandably. He doesn’t think that Ma’yen did anything wrong. He doesn’t understand what the problem is and apparently Ma’yen had him thinking that I was going to change my mind and let Ma’yen out at any moment.”
"It's no surprise M'ayen has him thinking he's in the right," N'shen grumbled. "I don't know whether he can be convinced otherwise. He's old. But maybe. Should we try? It might help if Ardeth wouldn't enable him."
“I’m afraid of having Foreth push too hard and sending him ~between~ honestly,” Kassia replied. “This is a lifetime of indoctrination to work against. A lifetime of denial. If we could convince Ardeth of who Ma’yen really is...it might be too much.”
“A dragon is made to love his rider,” R’tal said ruefully. “Whoever they are. Though I’d almost feel better if he was plotting along with M’ayen. It would feel more justified.”
"Well. Is there anything else to decide?" asked N'shen. They could hardly wring their hands about this all day. At least, it would do nobody any good if they did.
“No, I guess that’s out plan,” Kassia said, looking troubled. “Thank you for coming and helping me work this out. R’tal, can you talk to K’ren?”
“Yeah, I will. You want us with you when you tell him?” R’tal offered. “Or should it be us? Border-line. Riders are ours, Candidates are yours so..”
“Let’s show a united front,” Kassia said. “He fecked up for all of us.”
"United front," N'shen agreed. He had no reason to do otherwise. And at that point, he was more inclined than ever to consider R'tal and Kassia his closest allies outside of his own family.
R’tal nodded. “Tell us when and where and we’ll do it together then. And get a Harper to write it down. Let’s do this properly.”
“Let me get it together and we’ll do it tomorrow morning,” Kassia said. “Am I missing anything?”
“No. But dress to look terrifying.” R’tal smiled at her at that. “I know you can.”
Kassia grinned. “Can I just go in wearing nothing but knives?”
"He might like that. Bleh," said N'shen. "But knives would likely not go amiss. Just be sure to keep them out of his reach…"
Kassia made a face. “Take all the fun out of it.” Her eyes narrowed as she looked down at her dagger and then back up. “He’ll be nice and tressed up before we get in there. He’s not going to get a chance at a knife.”
“He’ll hate that.” R’tal’s smile widened to a grin. “I approve entirely.”
“Maybe we can just leave him that way for a while.” Kassia’s grin returned as she met R’tal’s. Then she glanced at N’shen. “All right. We have a plan and I’ve been told I’m supposed to spend more time on my back, so...”
"Get some rest. Can I bring you anything?" asked N'shen. If he had noticed the potential for the double entendre, he did not show any outward sign. For someone who was very likely carrying his child, he seemed to have trouble seeing Kassia in a sexual light.
“I’ll be fine,” Kassia said. “I just need some rest. Unless something comes up, I’ll see you both tomorrow.”