Enjoy! WC 15,100ish
Chapter Eight — Trial
Russ choked back a yawn; he had hardly slept a wink. Thankfully, the uncomfortable benches in the Plaintiff lounge did a fine job of keeping him awake. His Prosecutor, Henry Jakes, was a friend. He organized the evidence and had an airtight case— against Kari.
If everything went as planned, the case would close with her guilt. He couldn’t see any way around it. Russ rolled a card between his fingers. Phinneas Duth handed it over after the police cleared out. He even offered to cover the legal fees. Russ didn’t trust the guy enough to give him that much pull over the outcome.
Too bad none of the Macro Corp. has legal experience.
“Mr. Belkin. This is an open and shut case,” Henry said. “While this ‘Mech’ woman may have acted with the best of intention, she used her powers to kill someone.”
“Technically,” Russ said, snapping out of his trance. “She used her powers to make him kill himself.”
Henry smiled. “So we’re pushing for damages too?”
Russ shook his head. “Look, we’re not out to make money. Our goal is to protect the city. This case isn’t about skinning the Macro Corp. We do that and the city turns on us. We need to push the angle they screwed up while trying to help.”
He slumped against the wall, drumming his fingers against his arm. I need to tread carefully here.
“Seems like a waste,” Henry said.
“It’s all about the big picture. We’re dealing with superheroes here, not a group of corrupted penny pinchers. We need to play up this ‘Mech’ as a loose cannon, see if we can dig up any dirt on her.”
“Sounds good. Do we have her real name?”
Russ shook his head. “I already did the ground work. Each member of the Macro Corp. has individual protection for his or her identities. They get convicted and this goes up in smoke.”
Henry sighed. “So we can’t use her identity in the case.”
Russ grudgingly pulled out his smart phone. “I do have info on all their capabilities, not sure that will help though.”
“She told us everything we need last night,” Henry said, flipping through his documents. “Here’s where I’m confused. Looking over Mech’s interrogation, she opted to control this guy rather than just shoot him. Looks like a justified use of force. The guy had you at gunpoint.”
“Well I’m not exactly her favorite person,” Russ said. “Who knows, maybe she wanted it to play out a different way.”
Henry smirked. “Oh I get it. Best case would be saving you with a few wounds, discourage you from pushing on with your website.”
“Exactly, she got a bit more than she expected.” Russ stood up, rolling his shoulder. “Anyway, it’s up to us to get to the truth of the matter.”
“As a bonus, if we nail this. We’re household names.”
Russ sighed. Yeah, because I want to be known as the jerk who disbanded my own superhero group. “Let’s just focus on the case.”
“You realize exposure is my livelihood, right?”
“You’ll get paid, Henry.”
“Relax Russ, I’m just focusing on the positive. You ask me? I doubt she meant you harm. This stinks of a negligence case. You want me to make something more of it, I can.”
Russ knew Henry better than that. He was a greedy dick, but he had scruples. He liked to think Henry only went along with it because he trusted Russ.
The Bailiff poked into the room wearing a hard scowl. “The Defendant is here for your interview time.”
“Yeah, see her in,” Russ said. “Just keep a guard at the door. I don’t think she’ll try anything.”
The Bailiff pushed the door open, waving in Kari. She wore handcuffs, which was laughable. If she wanted out of them she’d get out of them.
“Have a seat, Miss Mech,” Henry said.
She sat at the wooden table in the center of the room, keeping her expression neutral. Probably for the best, Kari is kind of a bitch.
Henry cleared his throat. “So you’ll have to forgive me. I’ve never prosecuted a superhero before. Have you given some thought to how you’ll plead?”
Russ kept his mouth shut, he couldn’t lead Kari along, but he didn’t get the chance to warn her about Henry. The instant he realized he could taunt her, would be the end of their chances.”
Kari glanced to Russ then back to Henry. “Depends. What are you trying to charge me with?”
Russ shook his head. “They haven’t told you? Manslaughter: you used your powers to get the assailant to commit suicide. Ironically, you would be in less trouble if you blew his head off on your own.”
“Noted,” Kari said.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” Henry said. “Why do they call you ‘Mech’?”
“Fair question.” She leaned forward. “Two reasons. The first? I can communicate with machines. The second?” She glanced to Russ, smirked and leaned back. “Top secret.”
Here we go. “Ma’am,” Russ said. “It’s in your best interest to not be coy.”
She shrugged. “Perhaps, but you and I both know I wouldn’t be here is I didn’t think I was innocent.”
“So you’re pleading not guilty?” Russ raised a brow. “You were caught red handed.”
She smiled. “So you think. You asked me yourself, Mr. Belkin. Why didn’t I just shoot him? I have a weapon capable of firing any known armament, including tranquilizers. Why would I resort to controlling someone with a gun?”
“There’s only one answer,” Henry said. “You had one choice.”
“Your representation is smart, Mr. Belkin.” Kari said. “I guess I’ll cooperate with you then.”
Russ rolled his eyes. “Does your lawyer know you’re flapping your lips like this?”
She nodded. “He’s the one who told me to tell you this.”
“So plea bargaining? You’re admitting to it?”
“In a way,” Kari said. “I’m saying I had no options. I don’t know a lot about law, but I know this. When someone is faced with a choice that any sane person would make it, no jury would convict me.”
Russ scowled. Good news as it was, an acquittal won this way would win them no favors. It would only open the door to criticism and he’d have to step up his game as the primary critic of the Macro Corp. “Sounds like an excuse to me.”
Kari clenched her hands into fists. “Because it is one.”
Henry shook his head. “You can candy coat it all you want, but this is a plea bargain, Miss Mech. Involuntary manslaughter is the best scenario for you.”
“I won’t lie,” she said. “I’m behaving right now because I know what I need to do. I told you, I have the ability to communicate with machines. The complexity of the human mind makes us closer to computers than animals. As such I can assess a broken machine with a glance– a broken mind is no different.”
“The person that pulled a gun on Belkin, had a spotless record,” Henry said. “What they did was clearly a lapse in judgment.”
“Or something horrible happened to them shortly before they made this poor judgment. The reason I ‘ordered’ that man to redirect his rage rather than dispelling it, is because I couldn’t. Anger is a fleeting sensation of hatred. He embraced the single-minded thought that Belkin needed to die. If I wouldn’t have stopped him, Mr. Belkin would have died.”
“Much like that alleyway, Miss Mech,” Russ said. “It is not your job to make this call.”
“With all due respect,” Kari said. “Why do you think the Macro Corp. was there in the first place? The odd events over the last few days only reinforced this. The organizers of the fundraiser wanted better protection. They didn’t just want pigs, they wanted bodyguards.”
Russ flinched. Worst possible answer.
Henry grinned at that, he had the ammunition he needed to turn the fight in his favor.
“This conversation is over,” Kari said.
Russ expected as much. “Your cooperation, or lack thereof is appreciated.”
“My pleasure,” Kari said, standing. “Bailiff, I’m done here.”
The Bailiff stepped in and held the door open.
Kari winked at him. “Good luck with your witch hunt, Belkin. You’ll need it.”
The door snapped shut and Henry let out a low whistle. “She’s a handful alright. Judging from her confidence she has an ace up her sleeve. We better stay on guard.”
“That does without saying.” Russ flounced back onto the bench. “Now you know what we’re up against, still gung ho about this?”
“Definitely,” Henry said. “If you’re worried about the truth, this will be easy. Win or lose this is going to change things. They’re cocky now, but the Macro Corp. is bound to slip up. We just need to get some fingers in that wound and pry it open.”
“I trust your judgment.” Of course he didn’t want Henry to do too good of a job.
Henry sat at his desk and pulled out his cell phone. He dialed and pushed the phone high on his cheek. “I’ll get a shrink on deck, if I need to call for a psychological profile on her I’ll use it as a last resort.”
“I need to make a private call, too. You mind?”
Henry shook his head. Judging from his expression he already got a hold of someone.
Russ stepped into the side room, locked the door and set a small metal disk just above the lock. It was a simple noise jammer to prevent bugs from picking up anything. He dialed over to Ray, the phone rang twice before he picked up.
“Russ. How’d she do?”
“Coy. We might be in trouble.”
Ray sighed. “I hoped she’d cooperate, but things are hard for her.”
“Not like she spent the night in prison,” Russ said. “We’re talking about a glorified guest suite.”
Uneasy silence followed. “You do realize what’s at stake here, right?”
“Yeah, sorry.” Russ took a deep breath. He had to ask. “Ray, what do I do if Kari is guilty?”
“Hold up. Did you just say what I think you just said?”
“I did. I just need to know, if she really did kill that guy because it was the ‘easier way’, do you expect me to lie to get her acquitted?”
“Kari did everything she could.” Ray’s voice had a dangerous twinge to it. “You know, you were there.”
“Right. I’ll do my best too.” Russ clicked off the call, retrieved the jammer and stepped back into the room.
“Good news,” Henry said, cupping his hand over the mouthpiece of his phone. “I have someone that can do a psychological assessment with the transcript of our conversation with Mech.”
Russ shrugged. “Can’t hurt. She said a few things sensitive to the case, can we trust this guy?”
“I think we can.” Henry slipped a piece of paper across the desk. “Take a look, tell me what you think and we can send this out.”
“As long as his license is legitimate and he doesn’t have a record, I’m for it.” Russ pushed it back to him. Just make it happen. I’m gonna try and catch a few winks before the trial, cool?”
“Sure. Get some sleep. Let me handle this.”