Some intrigue here. Who can Russ trust?
Hope you’re enjoying the read so far. WC 16,500ish
Chapter Nine — Proof
Russ hated court. Any time he’d been there he’d been pinching pennies. They were always legal disputes over who owned what. It was a simple matter of uncovering the truth. Here, he wasn’t so sure.
The gallery was packed. People scrambled to watch the trial of a superhero. Kari sat at the witness stand, carrying herself with pride. Henry gave Russ a thumbs up. His partner in crime had the ammunition he needed.
Russ picked up the report from the desk. Nothing inside surprised him. The psychological assessment stamped Kari as a potential sociopath. Of course it wasn’t a full analysis, but enough to justify a more thorough one if the case turned sour.
We’re boned if it comes to that.
The judge stepped in from their quarters.
“All rise,” the Bailiff said.
The entire courtroom stood. Russ closed the report.
“Court is now in session for the trial of Mech.” The judge scowled over at her. He probably didn’t like the idea of a anonymous woman being tried.
Can’t blame her.
Judge Maria Rodriguez had a reputation for being fair and impartial, but anyone could see the stench of bias in the air. The Macro Corp. were heroes and in the eyes of the gallery, everyone hoped this to be a mistake.
Kari waited with a dangerously coy look on her face. She hardly looked like a woman on trial, but rather someone waiting for a declaration of innocence. It genuinely irritated Russ, at the very least she could feign concern. He knew the spite she had for the system.
Henry explained the case, putting forward the situation at hand. He provided a map of the stadium and the positions of members of the Macro Corp. as reported by them and confirmed by the police.
“…in conclusion the Prosecution indicts Mech with manslaughter. It is to our understanding her powers are capable of influencing the minds of others. She used this ability to have a man shoot himself.”
Judge Rodriguez glanced over at her. “And how does the defendant plead?”
“Not Guilty,” Kari said.
Not guilty, your honor. Seriously, Kari. Respect.
“The Prosecution has the floor.”
Henry cleared his throat. “We are in a peculiar situation, your honor. We are unequipped to handle cases supernatural in origin, so we have no choice but to rely on hard logic. I have no doubts Miss Mech tried to the best of her ability to protect Mr. Belken, but I move this is a case of negligence.”
“Negligence?” The Judge said, “I have reviewed the case and the victim, one Barnaby Green, held Mr. Belken at gunpoint. “
Henry nodded. “We are not talking about a common person here. Mech is also quite skilled with firearms. May I submit the first piece of evidence, your honor?”
Henry waved in a young patrol officer, he carried a bag marked with a white tag. “Miss Mech, will you describe to the court what this is?”
“Sure,” Kari said. “That is my MSP-5000.”
“For the record,” Henry said. “MSP stands for Multi Setting Pistol. Please tell the court what it is capable of.”
Russ glanced up to the gallery. Ray watched the exchange with a calm glare.
“It can fire any ballistic know to man and available to me, nothing ridiculous like rockets of course. Pistols, rifles, grenade launchers–”
“Grenades?” The Judge said.
Kari nodded. “I’ve only used smoke grenades in it. There’s little reason for me to fire anything but electric stun rounds.”
“If this is the case,” Judge Rodriguez said, “why didn’t you stun the victim.”
“Simple. He would have fired anyway.”
“How are you so sure?” Henry slammed a hand on the table.
“Objection,” Kari’s lawyer said. Joseph Krill was a squirrely man with graying hair, someone Russ had met a few times in person. “The Prosecution is leading my client.”
“Sustained.” The judge said. “However, I would like to know this as well.”
Kari let out an annoyed sigh. “I admit, I was inside his head. I compelled him to act because he wasn’t listening to me.”
The courtroom exploded into whispers.
Judge Rodriguez smashed her gavel on the bench. “Order! Order!”
Henry glanced over at Russ, offering a troubling smile.
The courtroom calmed and the Judge pointed her gavel at Kari. “Are you admitting to influencing the victim? This contradicts your plea.”
Kari shook her head. “No, it does not. I gave him a simple suggestion, the only one he would listen to.”
“What is this ‘suggestion’?”
“Turn your anger on someone who deserves it.”
The courtroom fell into chaos. Russ buried his face in his palm. It was the last thing he wanted to hear. He forced a smile and raised his hand.
“Order! Order!” The Judge said. “What is it Mr. Belken?”
“The defendant seems confused. Under the circumstances, she just admitted to the crime. She gave an order and he listened.”
The courtroom fell silent.
Please Kari, contest this.
The judge turned to Kari, raising a brow. “What do you say to this?”
“Well, I’m not admitting to a crime, but Belken has it right. That’s exactly how it is.”
Russ’ heart sank. She’s as good as convicted.
“Miss Mech,” The Judge said. “You are accused of manslaughter. Admitting to this is accepting a verdict. Is this unclear to you?”
Kari shook her head. “I knew you wouldn’t get it. Normal humans wouldn’t get it. How is it my fault if he shot himself? Would you prosecute someone for telling another person to jump off a bridge?”
The Judge frowned. “I suppose not.”
Kari smirked. “Same thing. If it pleases the court, I could demonstrate my powers one a volunteer of the Judge’s choosing.”
“I object!” Russ said. “This is a court of law, not a circus.”
“I am inclined to agree.” The Judge said. She narrowed her eyes. “Mr. Belkin, please do not over reach, you are not a court official.”
Russ flinched. “S-sorry.”
“Your honor,” Mr. Krill raised a hand. “We anticipated you would refuse, so we have scientific proof of Kari’s innocence.”
“You what?” Russ said, clenching his hands into fists. Would have been nice for Ray to warn me. Then again, it makes it easier to play along. “You’re bluffing.”
Mr. Krill produced a disk. “Afraid not. Mech is capable of interacting with machinery; as such her memories can be logged and presented to the court. We have prepared data ranging from her visual input to the through processes sent and received within five minutes before and after the victim shot himself. Parts of the information has been blacked out to preserve her identity, otherwise– ”
“Objection,” Henry said. “This evidence is completely speculative. There is no way to confirm the validity of the information.”
“Overruled,” the Judge said. “It will be reviewed by a third party and they will make this assessment. You said it best, Prosecutor, this is a strange case for us.”
Henry winced. “Y-yes… your honor.”
The judge clapped the gavel onto her bench. “Twenty minute recess while the information is reviewed. I want it on my desk in five minutes.”
“Yes, your honor,” Mr. Krill said.
Everyone rose and the Judge walked to her quarters.
A storm of emotions raged through Russ. While he was happy to hear Kari had a chance, something felt wrong about the revelation. He’d heard no hide or hair of this data and he couldn’t recall such logs existing for Kari’s memory.
He slammed a fist on his desk for good measure. Henry put a hand on his shoulder and leaned close. “It’s fine. I expected this and I have a counterpunch ready. You OK with losing the battle to win the war?”
Russ gaped at him, but nodded. What could he mean by that? “What’s the plan?”
“Just a little something from a mutual friend. He warned me the Macro Corp. would stop at nothing to clear her name. This mystery data is proof in the pudding. We’re on to something big Russ, something bigger than the both of us. You want the truth, we’re about to get it.”
Henry pat him on the shoulder and left the court.
Russ glanced up and Ray wasn’t in his seat.
The truth, huh? Russ peeked at the documents scattered on the desk and his phone buzzed. He pulled it out, spotted an email from one Phinneas Duth. ‘Enjoying the show? It’ll only get better.’