What's the Matter with You (Part 2)
What's the Matter With You
by Camospam, editing by Wendy K,
The third story in the ‘It Matters’ series featuring the adventures of Outlook.
Berlin NH: January 1, 2008
“I surrender!” announced Cameron as he spread his feet apart and leaned forward resting both hands on the counter.
The State Police Officer rushed around the counter, and began to pat him down, checking for concealed weapons. Cameron was read his rights while being handcuffed, then taken into the cell block. It housed some hungover revellers that celebrated a little too vigorously last night.
Cameron was handled roughly, since one of the charges against him was assault on a security officer he was viewed as one of the lowest of the low. He was placed into a cell with a big man wearing leathers and had little skin left not sporting tattoos. The arresting officer left the handcuffs on the boy and smirked while locking the cage door.
The small cell had only a single bed, and it was also the only seat. The large man stood to display just how big he was.
“You can stay sitting, I don’t need to rest just yet,” suggested Cameron.
The man grunted a non verbal cue that he didn’t find the kid funny.
“I am a little hungry thou, when is lunch? I’m Cameron by the way, I’d offer to shake your hand, but it would be rather awkward.”
“Fresh meat!” was grumbled as the overweight man stepped closer. His tight t-shirt barely retaining his belly.
“Okay Mr. Meat, if we’re going to be roomies, let’s get some ground rules established.”
“You’re breathing my air!”
Unfazed Cameron continued, “First rule: threatening me will result in you taking an extended time out. Second rule: touching me will force me to retaliate.”
“I’m gonna grind you into a pulp!”
“Third rule: If you decide to act nicely, I can be good company in a bad situation. What do you say?”
“I’m gonna split you open and decorate the walls with your guts!”
“That would be rule one, nighty night,” informed Cameron, as the big man dropped to the floor and didn’t move. The prisoners in the cells on either side stepped away from the bars, “You all heard that I tried to warn him … right?”
Mike Williamson was resting in his hotel room and had just put down the phone after having called his family, telling them about what was happened and how much he missed them. The phone’s ring startled him but he lifted the receiver on that first ring. “Mike Williamson here.”
“Mr. Williamson, this is Detective Roberts, we’ve located Cameron Burke.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s at the police station in Berlin, would you happen to be his legal counsel? He’s asked to speak with a lawyer.”
“I’ve talked with a law firm in Boston, and they recommend I act as co-counsel for Cameron. Am I allowed to see him?”
“I will arrange for you to have visitation.”
“Be there in ten minutes,” said Mike, as he dropped the phone into its cradle and started gathering up his notes.
Mike Williamson was walked through the prisoner holding area and past the cell Cameron occupied. The boy was sitting stiffly on the single bed, his hands still restrained. He shared the cell with a particularly rough looking large man, the two were engaged in a game Mike recognized as Geography.
Mike felt sorry for the man stuck in the cell with Cameron. During some of the long quiet nights in the bomb shelter, he and Cameron had played the game. The rules were easy enough since after the first person says the name of a place the next person has to come up with another place’s name - starting with the last letter from the previous place. It had been interesting and kept Cameron occupied, he must have memorized the atlas because that kid was sharp.
Mike heard the big man say, “Halifax! Ha, that’s an X - I’ve got you now!” touting a triumph over Cameron - who apparently had the next turn.
Cameron saw Mike and waved to him, then faced his opponent and said, “Xinzhou … in China, giving you a U.” The boy then stepped up to the bars to get closer. “Mike! How did you get here so fast?”
“I was called in when you went missing,” informed Mike.
“Sorry you got dragged into this,” he admitted.
“Hold tight, they’re getting a room ready for us,” Mike advised while motioning to zipper his mouth.
Mike heard the men behind them bantering around ideas before the big guy called over, “Uzbekistan!”
The guard had unlocked the cell door and ushered Cameron through it, before getting too far the boy called back to his cellmate: “Nassau, another U.”
“Son of a …. beached platypus” corrected the man, giving Cameron a nervous sideways glance as the boy walked away from the cellblock.
Cameron followed Mike into the room and the guard locked them in. Mike held out a chair for Cameron and pushed it in for him as the handcuffs limited how much the boy could manoeuvre on his own, then Mike took a chair beside him. Cameron looked around the room and then turned to face Mike.
“Are they allowed to eavesdrop on us?”
Mike was taken aback by the question. “In Canada a lawyer is granted confidential access to his client, I don’t know if that holds true in the States. It’s why I asked for another lawyer’s help.”
“Makes sense. Is it someone you know?”
“I reached out to Bruce Goodkind, remember in that letter he gave you - he said if you ever needed anything … I figured he would know some good law firms. Turns out he has several top firms on retainer and is having a guy named Paulson assigned to us. He was supposed to show up yesterday.”
“Do you know what I should expect?”
“You’ll be brought before a judge for an initial appearance: they might call it an arraignment. It’s when you will hear the charges against you and enter a plea, I’m hoping the judge will let you out on bail.”
“Will that happen today?”
“I would guess today but maybe tomorrow,” rationalized Mike.
A knock at the door was followed by a man entering the interview room, he was in his forties and wore an expensive suit with a fancy wristwatch, but his five-o’clock shadow was more than a single days growth.
“Sorry I’m so late, it’s been a bear to get here.”
Cameron smirked at the comment, but Mike stood to shake the man’s hand. “Mr. Paulson, nice to finally met you.”
“Mike: “The pleasure is mine, call me Emit, and this young man must be Cameron,” and offered his hand.
Cameron raised his handcuffed hands above the table to let him see that he was unable to properly accept the invitation.
“Are those really necessary?”
“It’s the optics, I hadn’t wished to antagonize the police,” revealed Cameron.
“I would assume they’re a might testy, assaulting an officer tends to get their knickers in a knot.”
“But I didn’t …”
“Did you get your rights read to you?”
“After I surrendered, yes.”
“Have you spoken to anyone about the charges against you, has a policeman interviewed you without a lawyer present?”
“Good. I expect that an officer is going to be asking you some questions, my job is to stop you from incriminating yourself - you can refuse to answer any question as provided under the fifth amendment. I am here to protect you - if I say ‘don’t answer that’ I expect you to stop speaking … understood?”
Detective Roberts had waited to interrogate Cameron Burke until the case worker from Child Services: Sandra Caruthers, was present. The two agencies had been pooling information, but they both needed to speak with Cameron to make any sense out of it.
Roberts had pulled Mrs. Caruthers aside when she arrived, updating her on the latest information gathered. The two stood outside the interrogation rooms door and knocked to alert the occupants.
Walking into the room the policeman introduced himself, “I am Detective Roberts of the New Hampshire State Police, I am joined by Mrs. Sandra Caruthers with New Hampshire’s Child Services.”
Mike and Emit stood to shake the officials’ hands.
Mike started: “Michael Williamson, Cameron’s legal guardian, I’m a public prosecutor with the Province of British Columbia, I will be Cameron’s co-counsel with Mr. Paulson.”
“Emit Paulson, junior partner with the law firm Montcliff and Lewis, I represent Mr. Burke.”
Cameron made the effort to stand and bowed slightly in greeting to the newcomers. Mrs Caruthers spotted the handcuffs and tsk’ed.
“He turned himself in! Can’t we do without the handcuffs?” she asked of the Detective.
Roberts produced a key and moved towards Cameron, Cameron however flicked his wrist and handed the handcuffs to him. There was an awkward moment broken by Cameron sitting down, soon followed by everyone else claiming a seat at the table.
“Cameron, can I get your full name and title for the record?” asked Detective Roberts.
Cameron looked to Mike first who nodded, “Staff Sergeant Alex Cameron Burke of the RCMP, assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
“Why were you at Whateley Academy?”
“I was trying to attend school.”
Mike interrupted to ask, “Cameron, be specific. Were you attending school at Whateley?”
“I was at Whateley, I was taking courses, but I didn’t attend classes at Whateley - unless dancing lessons fall under your definition.”
Mrs. Caruthers spoke up, “Wait a minute, you went to school, but didn’t attend classes. Why not?”
“I wasn’t allowed to register until I had a high school diploma.” The blank looks at the table required he say more, “I had already been enrolled in distance learning so continued taking correspondence courses to finish high school.”
Mr. Paulson had to field a question, “If you were at a school to get an education, why didn’t they let you take classes?”
“The headmistress didn’t allow me to get registered.”
The Inspector asked, “Do you have any evidence to support your claim?”
“In my backpack … which looks to be in secure storage at your station. Can I have it to show you?”
Detective Roberts left, and the room went silent until Mike spoke.
“Cameron, why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was trying to solve my own problems, I didn’t want to burden you.”
“But this is so wrong!” Mike complained.
“You had been accepted as a student, they can’t deny giving you an education.”
“I guess I just wasn’t good enough to take their classes.”
“What do you mean by ‘not good enough’?” asked Emit Paulson.
“It’s a school for mutants, I’m not a mutant,” replied Cameron.
The Detective returned with a backpack, it had been torn and cut in an effort to find items hidden within. The Detective placed Cameron’s possessions on the table one at a time, each article produced had an evidence tag affixed. The policeman set down a small aluminum block almost the size of half a brick.
“Would you mind telling me what this is?” the Detective asked keeping his hand on the item in question.
“That’s my phone,” claimed Cameron. “It’s standard Special Investigations issue.”
“It has no openings!”
“That’s how I keep it secure, let me show you.” The Detective handed it over to Cameron, once he lifted up the phone, its face appeared and he displayed it to those at the table, when he set it back down it returned to looking like a solid block of metal.
“And what is this?” questioned the police officer as he set down a slab of aluminum.
“My laptop. I figured if it ever got stolen it couldn’t be hacked if they couldn’t open it … or turn it on.”
“It sure had our techs baffled.”
“There’s a couple files I can show you,” mentioned Cameron motioning to have the computer given to him. Once in his hand the protective covering dissipated and he opened it. Detective Roberts moved to stand behind Cameron as the boy began to type in commands.
“What’s wrong with the screen?” asked Roberts.
“That’s what I need to be able to see it, just a second and I’ll set it up for you,” said Cameron as he manipulated the keyboard. “There, ready to go,” informed Cameron as he turned the screen to allow the room to see it. “This recording is a download from my phone - taken when I spoke with Mrs Carson,” he explained and hit play.
The screen showed a well appointed room with a blonde lady seated behind a desk, her back was turned but the name plate on the desk clearly read Mrs Carson.
“Hello Mrs Carson, I understand you wanted to see me.”
“Don’t bother sitting Ronnie.”
“Who’s Ronnie?” asked Mrs. Caruthers.
“It’s the name my little brother called me,” supplied Cameron, and the recording resumed.
“Do I hand you over to the MCO? See if they want a piece of you?”
“If you stay, you’re not going to be very welcome - the students will hate you.”
“I’m willing to try.”
“Very well, I’m assigning you detention… how long you stay on it will depend entirely upon you, ensure you sign in at Security everyday.”
“Ma’am, perhaps there’s been a mistake?”
“Don’t push me Ronnie! So help me I’ll turn you over to the MCO myself, and don’t show your face at this office again until you have a high school diploma in your hand.”
Mike looked at the boy with his mouth hanging open, he had no words to express his feelings. Mrs. Caruthers had a to fight back a tear and needed a moment to compose herself before asking:
“You tried to adhere to the directions, didn’t you?”
“Yes ma’am,” said a dejected Cameron.
“And detention?” questioned Mr. Paulson.
“I worked in the sewers a lot, or I was assigned manual labour and given some of the more disgusting tasks they could think of.”
“When did it end?”
“That was three months ago! What days did you get off?” required Mike.
“None, I was told to show up everyday. I worked when their classes let out weekdays and all day on weekends.”
Mike hung his head and appeared to be shaking as he sat and tried to compose himself. Mr. Paulson had been taking notes and was busy writing during the brief bit of silence in the room. Detective Roberts had jotted some notes as well, but was checking some other documents.
Detective Roberts commented, “That fits with the time cards from maintenance, and security’s day logs.”
Mrs. Caruthers sighed deeply, then looked at the boy as she asked, “Where did you stay while at Whateley?”
Cameron typed a few strokes then turned the screen to the lady. “I had a nice spot down by a lake,” said Cameron, as the laptop showed a series of photographs of his campsite.
Mike was beside himself when asking, “They put you up in a tent?!”
“It’s my tent! Whateley didn’t assign me a place to stay so I improvised.”
“Why didn’t you complain?” Put forward Mr. Paulson, on the edge of his seat in anticipation of the answer.
“If I went to the office I would be turned over to the MCO!” replied Cameron.
A dejected Mike supplied, “The MCO already tried to kill you on nine different occasions, going to the office was tantamount to handing yourself over to an executioner.”
“And why I escaped from Doyle, I couldn’t allow Whateley to hand me over to them,” illuminated Cameron.
“Is that why you surrendered directly to the state police? To avoid contact with the MCO?” surmised Mr. Paulson.
“Yes!” replied Cameron.
“Cameron, do you have anyone who can corroborate where you stayed?” asked the Detective.
“Oh sure. I helped out some government recruiters during a bad spell of weather.” Cameron pointed to his laptop, “See! Here’s a picture of us in my tent.” Cameron placed a printed page on the table, “This is their contact info."
“Please explain what you did for food?” questioned Mrs. Caruthers. “Whateley has no record of your eating at the cafeteria.”
“I wasn’t given a student pass, so I couldn’t eat there,“ said Cameron, at which Mike dropped his head onto the table and began banging it against the surface.
“What did you do?” asked Mr. Paulson nearly begging to be told.
“I made an arrangement with Mr. Cooper. When he came to school to collect the garbage he’d bring me supplies to offset what I didn’t have.”
“Please be very clear,” directed Detective Roberts. “Mr. Cooper is facing charges of smuggling contraband, what did he supply you with?”
“Milk, eggs, sometimes yogurt. I just needed dairy products.”
“What was the nature of your agreement?” asked Roberts.
Cameron checked with Mr. Paulson, he seemed as interested as everyone else in the answer so Cameron replied, “I would empty the schools dumpsters so Mr. Cooper didn’t need to make extra runs to dispose of the school’s garbage.”
“What did you do with the garbage?” wondered Mrs. Caruthers.
“I used most of it to repair the broken stuff they had me fix during detention.”
Mr. Paulson sought the complete answer, “And the other?”
“Some of the food I ate. They threw out a lot of really good stuff.”
Mike had tears rolling down his face at this point, “You had to resort to dumpster diving to stay alive?”
Sandra Caruthers needed a moment to collect her emotions, she took a couple pages out of her folder and passed it over to Mike. “Mr. Williamson, can you confirm that this is a receipt for tuition paid to Whateley, that the amount included expenses to cover room and board for Cameron Burke?”
Mr. Paulson looked over Mike’s shoulder at the number and gave a low whistle as Mike responded, “Yes, this is a copy of the cheque I sent to Whateley, and the receipt they issued indicating it was paid in full.”
“Thank you,” said the lady. “I believe I have everything to proceed with my case,” she informed the room as she gathered up her belongings. “Cameron, If you need anything - please contact me,” was offered as she handed him her business card.
Turning to Cameron’s guardian next, “Mr. Williamson, don’t blame yourself. I will direct the state not to make any motions against you, you acted in good faith and sought Cameron’s best interests,” she announced prior to leaving the room.
There was a great weight hanging over the room’s occupants that teetered in the balance as everyone waited for it to drop, Cameron broke the tension by asking, “Is it lunchtime? I’m starving.”
The interrogation continued after the break. Detective Roberts arranged for pizza to be brought in and Mr. Paulson paid for it - he winked at Cameron saying he’s on an expense account.
Detective Roberts hadn’t joined them for lunch, but when he returned he mentioned he’d had to review his case in light of the new information, but still had more questions and he brought a laptop into the room with him.
Pointing the computer’s screen towards Cameron he asked, “I’d like to show you some footage of your arrest, can you give me a play by play description?”
“I can’t see video, is it possible to play it frame by frame?”
“I’ve watched it as a slide show myself,” the Detective admitted.
Cameron explained the setting; It was in Whateley’s maintenance yard. The camera’s vantage point clearly showed Cameron receiving a package from the garbage truck driver. Cameron stepped backwards a few steps away from the truck and waved goodbye to Mr Cooper. From a place of concealment, a female Whateley Security guard appeared and moved fast sneaking up quickly behind Cameron. Even in super-slow-motion the speed with which she took the parcel out of Cameron’s hand was hard to track.
Cameron began to turn, resulting in the woman reaching out to grab hold of him. It looked like the woman became petrified and fell backward into the snow.
The Detective paused the picture, and asked, “What did she say to you?”
Cameron mused for a second, then said: “I wonder?” He asked if he could have access to his phone again and when granted - turned it on and rewound the recording system; he set it to play and let everyone listen.
The sound of a large truck could be heard followed by the squeal of brakes.
“Sorry I’m late, the roads don’t-cha-know,” was said by a man Cameron identified as Mr. Cooper.
“Looks like almost a foot of snow has come down.”
“Yah, it’ll be touch-an-go getting back to town.”
“Anything I can do?”
“Nah, Betsy here is a tough ol’ gal, she’s never let me down.”
“Betsy is the trucks name,” informed Cameron.
“Here: best be taking these supplies, I won’t be back till next year - so I hope it’s enough to last you … Oh! The mayor sent a little something extra, some of his wife’s famous rhubarb muffins.”
“I love rhubarb. Thanks Coop!”
There were some muffled sounds then a truck rev’ed its engine and moved away.
A loud command was yelled: “Don’t Move!”
Cameron was heard saying: “What? Hey! Thats mine!”
After that there was some indistinguishable sounds before the recording stopped.
Detective Roberts sat back into his chair and put his folded hands up to his mouth and rested his chin on his thumbs. Mike and Emit looked at each other as the policeman was deep in thought.
When the Detective spoke, he asked, “Cameron, can I get a copy of that recording?”
“Sure,” responded the curious boy.
“Gentlemen, I’m going to lay my cards on the table,” directed Roberts. “Cameron’s arrest won’t stand up in court, the arresting officer did not identify themselves as an enforcement officer, nor did they state that Cameron was under arrest. As such, any action Cameron took can be considered self-defense.”
The room was stunned at the man’s forthright proclamation.
“Furthermore, having Cameron placed into confinement was an infringement of his liberty, he had every right to escape,” the policeman admitted. “I am prepared to assist you, if you want to lay charges against the state police for wrongful confinement.”
It took a second for the shock to wear off, a quick look at Mike showed him shaking his head no, while Mr. Paulson bobbed his head yes.
Cameron responded by saying; “I am of the opinion that the officer was acting in the public’s best interests; based upon the information he had available. I don’t want to press charges against the police,” much to Paulson’s chagrin.
“Are you prepared to press charges against Whateley at this time?” asked the Inspector.
Mr. Paulson took charge by saying, “My client and I haven't had that discussion yet.”
“Very well,” confirmed Roberts. “Now! While I must wait for the labs report on the package’s contents, I’m willing to accept the word of a fellow officer of the law that his statement is true, I won’t proceed with drug charges at this time.”
“Does that mean Cameron is free to go?” asked Mike Williamson.
“As long as you remain in Berlin, I see no reason to keep Sergeant Burke in custody … Will you be staying at your Hotel?” requested the Inspector of Mike.
Berlin NH, January 2, 2008
Cameron and Mike Williamson had just been shown to a table in the hotel’s restaurant and started perusing the lunch menu. Mr. Paulson was preoccupied with a phone call he’d taken in the lobby.
Last night and again this morning the three had been talking in Mike’s hotel room about Cameron’s experiences at Whateley, trying to draw the boy out and get a feel for all he’d experienced and work through what their next move would be.
Mike had gotten over his shock, with the resulting aftermath that he was angry, but Cameron was done with being hurt and wanted to forget it. It was Mr Paulson who walked the middle ground and sought a measured approach.
Cameron spotted Ella, she was sitting at a nearby booth. Cameron motioned that she should come and join them but she flagged that off - preferring to keep distant.
Mr. Paulson sat down with them at the table and asked, “Is it too late for pancakes?”
Mike chipped in, “The Belgian waffles look good”.
Detective Roberts arrived and surprising everyone by saying: “I recommend the Philly cheesesteak”.
“Detective, do you have news for us?” asked Mr. Paulson inviting the policeman to sit.
“I received a fax from the Boston crime lab this morning,” he said while presenting a page and putting it on the table. “The tests came back negative for drugs.”
“That’s great news!” proclaimed Mike.
“Indeed, I though I’d better deliver it in person, and offer apologies on behalf of the department.”
“Thank you,” granted Cameron. “How about Mr. Cooper?”
“I called and told him already, Whateley doesn’t consider food items contraband, so his case is dropped too. He asked about you.”
“I’ll have to get in touch and try to make it up to him,” remarked Cameron.
“The lab was curious as to why I sent them my groceries, they figured I might be investigating a consumer complaint because the two percent milk only had 1.98 percent milk fat. They did ask about the letter that was in the package addressed to you - shall I have it sent back to me?”
Mr. Paulson jumped in, “Send it to my office in Boston. We’ll be heading there later today … as long as there’s no need for Cameron to remain in Berlin?”
“Nothing keeping him here, as long as he lets me buy his lunch,” jested Roberts. “Oh! … By the way, the folks at the crime lab asked for the rhubarb muffin recipe.”
Mike and Cameron dropped Mr. Paulson off at the Berlin airport, then pointed the rental SUV in the direction of Boston and headed down the highway.
Their conversation ranged from how Cameron’s friends back in Prince George were doing, to Mike’s thoughts regarding the Supreme Court of Canada’s review of Cameron’s case.
They stopped for gas, with Mike getting himself a large coffee to go. When Mike got back to the vehicle Cameron was sound asleep in the passenger seat. It started to snow so Mike shifted the vehicle into its four wheel drive setting. Falling snow has a hypnotic effect and Mike felt himself getting drowsy, he turned the radio on to break up the monotony.
In the distance Mike saw flashing lights and slowed down as he approached the hazard, reaching over he tapped Cameron and told him to wake up. The lights were from a single police cruiser at the site of an accident. Cameron checked out what was happening and moaned.
“It’s a bus, it went off the road and flipped on its side.”
“Are people hurt?”
After a moment of looking out the window Cameron replied, “Yes!”
Conducting a quick scan, Cameron pointed Mike to a spot where he could pull over. Cameron donned his RCMP jacket and handed Mike a reflective vest.
“I’ll help the patrolman, if you set out road flares and alert traffic.”
Mike felt a wave of pride wash over him as he said, “Be careful.”
“Make you a deal, let’s both be careful,” called back Cameron as he moved quickly towards the bus.
To Camerons eyes, the bus had been traveling the opposite direction he and Mike were going. The bus’ tires had caught some deeper snow on the roadside which pulled the bus into the ditch. The way the bus was laying the door was against the ground. A policeman had scaled up onto the bus and was working to open the emergency access window.
Cameron called up to the woman officer and announced, “RCMP: I’m here to help, I have a man on the road directing traffic.”
“I called it in, Ambulance and Fire are on their way!” shouted back the lady. “The door is blocked, I don’t see another way in!”
“I’ll make a hole!” shouted up Cameron as he rounded the front of the bus. In the roof behind the driver he dissipated the metal and looked inside. Passengers were strewn about, some stood amid the confusion and they were trying to help those closest to them. Most lay against the bus’ side - now floor.
Cameron looked at the driver, he was knocked unconscious but no serious injuries, his seat belt holding him in place. Cameron dissipated the first three rows of seats, and helped prop passengers against either side to clear a passageway.
There were some cuts, but little blood. People had gotten banged up pretty bad when those on the high side fell onto those below them. There were sprained arms and a couple fractured bones with a lot of shock - nothing so serious that prevented him from moving further into the bus.
The next four rows yielded similar results, although a woman was unconscious from a free-fall onto her head; she needed attention. Cameron asked that she be given room then checked her neck and spine. It didn’t take much to repair the damaged vertebra and he eased the swelling, then placed her into the recovery position.
One of the passengers who had come through unharmed was standing nearby, looking at him. Cameron saw the energy signature. Cameron had observed this kid before, a student from Whateley: Dumpy, his old fellow sewer rat.
“DT, keep watch over this lady, if she regains consciousness don’t let her move.”
Dump Truck had a look of bewilderment, but nodded his head to indicate he understood. Cameron slide past him in the confined area and removed the next couple sets of seats bringing him to where the patrol woman was at - after having lowered herself into the bus.
“Cameron,” he identified himself, as he came up beside her.
“Nancy,” she replied, “keep doing what you’ve been doing, I’ll be on your six.”
The two then worked as a team making their way down the bus. The fire department arrived and the emergency response men began removing people from the front of the bus as the two of them began freeing the driver.
The space was getting too crowded so Cameron made another opening. A fireman popped his head in and asked if they needed help; Cameron directed him to the unconscious lady and reported her spinal injury.
The next seats revealed a woman holding a baby. She was in distress as her child was laying quiet in her arms, Nancy indicated she would deal with this and that Cameron should keep going.
Eventually Cameron arrived at the last three sets of seats that were a mess beyond what any of the other passenger’s experienced from the bus’ upset. The overturned washroom had spilled out its contents and showered people with the blue chemical used in the tank. A teenage girl was sitting huddled in a corner crying; shock had rendered her incoherent.
The others who had occupied the back seats had no critical injuries aside from some nasty bruises. Their state of mind ranged from stages of panic to anger.
Cameron cleaned the blue stain from the people. Then the girl began to choke. Cameron asked that he be given room and knelt beside her.
“Can you breath?” he asked.
It took a couple tries, but she did manage to draw in a couple shallow breaths; she shivered and pulled her arms tight against herself. Cameron handed her a blanket and helped cover her up. She looked up at him with tear laden eyes, the tears had tracked down her cheeks.
Cameron reached out to wipe a tear away saying to her, “You’re going to be all-right, it’s okay!”
She said in a small voice, “Promise?”
Cameron sat beside her and managed to say, “Promise!” before he started to cry.
The bus had been emptied and emergency workers had people scattered across the roadside. The most serious cases had been triaged and loaded onto the first of the ambulances. The fire truck was the operations centre, and Cameron headed towards it.
Sitting on one the big red firetrucks bumpers was Mike and Ella, they shared a blanket which was draped over their shoulders.
“Cameron!” called out Mike. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet, Cameron - Ella, Ella - Cameron. This young lady was just a minute behind us - she helped me direct traffic. She has these amazing flashlights that cut through the snow that warned the oncoming cars, and …”
Mike was cut off when Nancy stepped up beside Cameron and indicated he was wanted elsewhere. Bringing the boy down the side of the fire truck, she positioned him in front of a fireman.
“Captain, here’s the young man I told you about,” announced the patrolwoman.
Grabbing Camerons hand, the fireman shook it vigorously. “In all my years I’ve never seen the like!” Holding Cameron at arms length he spun the boy around to read his jacket. “If you ever leave the RCMP, I’ll hire you in a heartbeat,” proclaimed the Captain.
Cameron felt a gentle tap on his shoulder, as he turned he was wrapped into a hug by the girl from the bus. She whispered ‘thank you’ into his ear, with her then being directed over to a waiting medic.
Nancy gave him a nudge and said, “There’s nothing I can say to top that,” as she gave him a quick salute, then hurried off to attend to other concerns.
Cameron gave his statement to a policeman before leaving the emergency scene. Mike and Ella had made arrangements for them to travel in tandem the remaining distance to Boston, considering the poor road conditions.
Cameron was stoic as they drove, Mike gave the boy sitting beside him a few glances, but after awhile he said,“Talk to me Cameron, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.”
Cameron smiled sheepishly at his friend, “I had a breakdown in the bus,” he admitted. "I was helping a frightened young girl - it reminded me of myself, and I flashed back to when … when I was that scared kid on a roadside in the middle of nowhere.”
Cameron didn’t say anything for a couple minutes.
“She came and hugged me afterwards.” He choked up briefly but started again, “I don’t know if I’ve ever said thank you - to you, to Grace, Marcus … everyone. I don’t think I could ever say thank you enough.”
Mike was at a loss for words, for a lawyer that’s saying something.
“I’ve tried so hard to make everybody happy, so that they’d like me. I don’t think I can do that anymore … or if I even care any-longer.”
“You care Cameron, some might say too much. Back there - at the accident: you didn’t skip a beat and were out the door helping.”
“Yah but …”
“Let me finish. I’ve had to force myself to step back, to let you face challenges… that honestly I could never imagine taking on.”
“Yah but …”
“The day I met you: so fragile yet so tenacious when you came out of that coma. Did I tell you that I went home that night and cried, I didn’t know if I had the courage …if I was brave enough to take on your case. Do you know what my wife said to me to help me persevere? ‘I love you’!”
“Yah but …”
“Love! It’s what gives us the strength to face anything. Cameron - there’s a lot of people that love you, including me,” Mike paused to catch his breath.“That damned school chewed you up and spat you out! Everyone around you can see that you are hurting. But if you stop loving - the best part of you is gone, cause best as I can tell: you love everyone.”
“Yah …. But …”
“Are you trying to sound like Fred Flintstone with a stutter?”
“Dabba do,” humoured Cameron as his thoughts took a run leaving him quiet, but he eventually stated, “The world isn’t black and white.”
“No. It’s the whole spectrum in magnificent, vibrant, vivid colours.”
“How do you tell the difference between what’s right and wrong?”
Mike stayed silent for a time before saying: “That question is much easier to ask than to answer. I believe it’s tied to your morals and values - those speak to you’re being a good person.”
“Do you suppose villains think of themselves as good people?”
“I’ve had to prosecute people who in all earnestness felt they hadn’t done anything wrong, but for the good of society they had to be stopped.”
“If everybody thinks it’s right - does that make it right?”
“It’s called the mob mentality: a professor of mine likened it to when a herd of buffalo was driven over a cliff. It’s taking the natural inclination of wanting to be part of a group - and using that desire to gain control of the whole. A normally reasonable person, on their own, would never do something stupid until a crowd was all doing it.”
“Is it that people don’t see, or just don’t care that they are being manipulated?”
“Politicians, businesses, religion … they all depend on manipulation.”
“Some have wanted to call me a manipulator because I alter molecules. I don’t like that term.”
“I can’t blame you.”
“How do you effect change, if the status-quo is taking you towards a cliff?”
“It takes someone with strong convictions to stand up and point people in another direction.”
“Did you become a lawyer because you wanted to help people?”
“Who hasn’t dreamed of changing the world - making it a better place. But I discovered I could only do it one person at a time. Until … ”
“You came along, I never thought I’d ever have a hearing before the Supreme Court - it has the authority to bring about change: laws, thinking, attitudes … the highest court can alter people’s course.”
“It could make a difference to a whole lot of people” ascertained Cameron.“Even if it means hurting those that don’t want to make a change?”
“I guess the question becomes; if they know there’s a cliff ahead - why are they running headlong towards it?”
“This feels like one of those, ‘the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few’, moments.”
“I’m not qualified to administer that kind of advice … how about, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. I know I read that somewhere.”
“The biggest life defining decision I can handle right now is: if spring rolls come with the stir fry.”
“Yeah, let’s stop and eat.”
Mike pulled off the highway into a roadside restaurant. When Ella parked beside them she agreed that food was a good idea and asked to join them. Once inside, Mike excused himself and headed to the washroom, leaving Cameron and Ella alone at the table.
“How much did you tell Mike?” asked Cameron.
“I revealed nothing, I assumed you would enlighten yours as you saw fit,” affirmed Ella.
“I didn’t know where to begin.”
“Was that meant as a joke?”
“No. Sorry - no. I’m not certain how much to tell him,” confessed Cameron. “I don’t want him to check me into a rubber walled hotel room with a huggy-jacket in my size.”
“If you need a place to stay, my house isn’t far, … but I don’t have any ‘huggy-jackets’. Is that something you Canadians wear?”
“Only the ones with mental problems,” supplied Cameron.
“Then by all means, we should get one for you,” recommended Ella.
Mike sat down beside Cameron and fixed both of them in a stern look for a second before saying: “Okay, I want some straight answers. Why has Ella been tailing us since we left the police station in Berlin, and why would she have some of your flashlights?”
“My flashlights?” questioned Cameron.
“You don’t think I wouldn’t recognize your handiwork? Beams of light twice as bright than anything on the market, in the hands of - I’m guessing a Were,” detailed Mike. “You had another run-in with that black slime, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” admitted Ella.
“And?” petitioned Mike.
“When I left Whateley I was ill. I encountered Ella on the road and she took me to the Mediwihla until I got better. One night the black-slime guys attacked - Ella and I figured out a way to defeat them, now the Were think I’m their prophesied saviour, and Ella is my warrior in waiting.”
Mike turned to Ella and asked, “Is this true?”
“In a crude and in-elegant way, he speaks rightly.”
Mike accepted the invitation to stay the night at Ella’s only after a long explanation as they ate. Arriving at Ella’s house the girl stepped out of her Jeep and made three yips into the night air. Then she welcomed them into her home.
The building was recessed into a hillside with the front looking like a frontier home. Inside it was comfortable, it had warmth and was inviting. Ella showed Mike to a bedroom and pointed Cameron to the couch. While Cameron took up the offer of a place to sleep, Ella and Mike talked for a long time in the kitchen.
The sky had just started to show light hinting that dawn was approaching. Cameron had woken but lay quietly on the couch, deep in meditation just enjoying the calm.
A gentle knock on the door caught his attention, and he rose to answer the door. Standing on the doorstep were two little kids: a boy no older than eight, and his younger sister. She stood behind her older brother peeking out at Cameron, letting the bigger boy act as cover.
“Are you awake mister?”
“Let me check,” advised Cameron, who turned to look quickly into the house. “I think I’m still in bed.”
“Oh!” Responded the timid boy, dropping his head. “Mom said not to bug you until you were awake.”
“That was very thoughtful of her. But don’t worry - I had to get up to answer the door anyway.”
“Did ‘L’ bring you with her cause you’re the guy?” asked the little man, his sister giving him a nudge.
“‘L’ hasn’t figured out it out yet.”
“Mom said ‘L’ would only ever bring home her mate or the promised guy.”
“Well! Sounds like I could gets some rumours flying.”
“We only keep chickens here, and there’s some doves roosting in the old barn. We don’t have any rumours,” corrected the boy.
“In for a penny…” mumbled Cameron, reminding himself of the old adage to be fully committed to a chosen path.
“You know my sister?”
“I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure. I’m Cameron”
“I’m Tylor, and this is my sister Penny,” said the young fellow as he pointed to the shy girl behind him.
The little girl had copper colour hair, the name she was given would be a lifelong embarrassment, or a badge of honour.
“Penny is a beautiful name for such an attractive young lady.”
“She’s not a lady, she’s my sister,” countered the boy, receiving a punch from his sibling.
“What can I do for you two rapscallions?”
“Mom is preparing a party at the meeting place … our job is to invite Ella and you. We can show you the way if you want?”
“Just let me leave a note for Ella and Mike, and I’ll be right with you,” conceded Cameron.
Tylor and Penny showed Cameron around the small collection of houses, as his two guides took him on a meandering tour of their favourite places to play, while giving a commentary of the people and places that made up their tribe.
The meeting place was a building that served many of the tribes needs such as a community centre, and school. As they approached, the sound of activity was accompanied by the smell of cooking food. Once at the door Tylor and Penny darted off to get the attention of a woman that also had copper hair, and shared the same signature as the children.
Cameron looked around the hall which was busy with tables being set up and chairs placed; the kitchen had people working a stoves and preparing dishes. Tylor and Penny dragged their Mom up to him and Cameron extended his hand, but she wrapped him in a hug.
“If Ella welcomed you into her home, then you are as good as family to us,” the lady greeted. “Megan: and you’ve met my little monsters.”
“The best welcoming committee ever,” smiled Cameron. “Megan,” he added. “Is there something I can do to help?” as he gestured to the goings on.
“If you wouldn’t mind setting out the cutlery, Penny can help with the napkins,” directed Megan. “Tylor, see if David needs a hand with the fire - he doesn’t have it going yet.”
Cameron asked Penny what was the preferred manner of placement, and they went around finishing the given task. When they were done, she had maybe said all of three words to him, but Cameron caught her frequently staring at him.
The room was ready, the food was smelling fantastic, and the fire had finally had gotten lit and was burning away in the large fireplace. As if on cue, Ella and Mike walked in. Ella was embraced by many before an announcement was made for everyone to grab a seat.
Cameron was happy that he could just sit off to a side, and Mike joined him. Also at the table was an older man, not a Were - but part of the community.
There was much talking, but that halted when the door opened and a woman entered and everyone hushed. Cameron recognized her as the lady Ella had been taking care of at the Mediwihla Village, but the big surprise was when Ben followed in behind her.
The lady and Ben were taken to the head table, and once they were seated, the food began to be served. Cameron’s table got heaps of pancakes, while most of the other tables had every type of meat possible.
Mike questioned the difference and Cameron told him that Were like a high protein diet - so lots of meat, not that they complained - the pancakes were great.
When the meal was done, the room came alive with talking and laughing. Cameron saw Ben moving towards him, but Mike was caught off-guard when the big man sat down beside him.
“I hear tell you are Cameron’s guardian, what weapon do you favour?” Ben asked Mike.
“It might be better said that I am Cameron’s step-father,” reasoned Mike. “I think Ella better suits the title Guardian.”
“Ha!” laughed Ben. “I see where the boy has learned humility.”
“You know Cameron then?”
“Ohhp, shouldn’t have been flapping my jaws,” remarked Ben. “Either Cameron’s keeping tight lipped, or he’s not had time to tell the tale.”
“Perhaps you would be so kind as to enlighten me?”
“If no one else claims teller’s rights, then by all means.” Ben looked to Cameron and the boy waved him off.
Ben recounted the evening when those claimed by the dark-death, the voodoo wolves, had attacked the Mediwihla Village. He told how Ella had charged in and laid out a plan to not only deflect but defeat the dark forces.
Encircling the foe with light, then pelting them with mystical little balls that rendered the dark-ones weak - and then consume the contaminate, freeing those enslaved by the darkness.
When Ben mentioned both the lights and the little balls, Mike gave Cameron a look of intrigue, but allowed Ben to continue. To emphasize the trueness of his tale, Ben exposed the still fresh scar on his arm, to show where he had been infected.
It wasn’t until Ben concluded his telling, that Mike noticed that the whole room had pressed close to hear. It was then that the lady who had been the guest of honour, the woman who had been freed from the contamination, stepped up beside Cameron.
Cameron stood to be introduced, but instead she knelt on a knee and bowed her head. The people around gasped, and Cameron said under his breath ‘not this again’. Cameron took off his visor, the golden light washing out over the room, and he looked out at the swarm around him.
Mike remained seated at the table, but everyone else had taken a knee - including Ben, and Ella.
“I don’t seek your pledge, or ask for allegiance. But I am grateful for your welcome and hospitality. Please; today you celebrate the return of one of your lost family, that is reason enough for joy.”
Amelia Hartford had been home all of a half hour. She had had to fly to Venice on a highly sensitive mission for the Cabal, and this particular situation called for some very discreet activities of a clandestine nature, which included hacking into one of the most secure mainframes on the planet to extract some data.
It wasn’t all business, as her fiancee had been able to meet her so they could spend an afternoon in Venice. A gondola ride along Venetian canals certainly ranks up there as being one of the most romantic things a couple can do.
Her return flight only arrived a short time ago, and she planned to relax a little before picking back-up at Whateley and classes resumed for the new semester.
A discreet knock on her apartment door had her check through the spy-hole to see who it was; a uniformed officer stood outside. She opened the door expecting the worst, as a life of miss-deeds flooded her memory to try to explain the officers presence.
“Hello Officer, can I help you?” she asked through a door held slightly ajar.
“Amelia Hartford?” questioned the officer.
“Yes,” Amelia responded, waiting for the hammer to fall.
“Ma’am, Inspector Roberts was hoping you could come down to the station. He understands you are an administrator at Whateley Academy, and he has some questions regarding a student.”
The assistant headmistress said little on the ride to the police station, and was shown to small interview room. The police officers asked if she wished anything to drink and got her a diet cola.
The Inspector was prompt, and had her drink in hand as he entered the room.
“Ms. Hartford, I am Inspector Roberts. I’m investigating a case involving a student at Whateley. I’m hoping you could fill in a few gaps for me.”
“Whateley has over three hundred students, I hope I can recall the one that has caught the police’s attention.”
“Teenagers do have a knack for finding trouble,” admitted Roberts. “I’m glad both of mine have grown out of that stage … now I just have to worry about grandkids.”
“You don’t look a day over forty.”
“I wish the mirror lied as well as you,” he chuckled. “You had a good trip out of the country?”
“Have you had me under surveillance?”
“No, I asked the school when they had expected your return.”
“I see. And the student?”
“Oh! He finally came to the surface.”
“How do you mean?”
“I’ve been waiting to hear from him. He went missing after I’d made some … delicate arrangements for him.”
“That was after he was attacked on campus?”
“Yes,” confirmed Amelia, surprised the police had knowledge of the incident. “I had his admittance papers ready to go, and was waiting for him to return to the office to complete them. When he didn’t show up I could only assume he had second thoughts about attending our fine school, and ran home to mommy … or.”
“Or, in consideration of his appointment with the police, it was possible that he was re-assigned.”
“Had you made any inquiries as to his whereabouts?”
“We aren’t truant officers. If a student doesn’t want to come to school - we don’t force them,” informed the administration professional. ”I kept his file open since families often request a refund on tuition, even though the admittance form clearly states the school’s ‘no refund’ policy.”
“Had Headmistress Carson been informed of Cameron Burke’s situation?”
“Of course, I spoke with her about the solution we had arrived upon over the attack, and that he was a ‘no-show’.”
“Do you often get students that don’t show up?”
“Perhaps a couple a year, most of the children are courteous enough to call and inform us regarding a change of plans.”
“So to be perfectly clear: You haven’t had any contact with Mr. Burke since September 25th, 2007?”
“None what so ever,” concluded Ms. Hartford.
Montcliff and Lewis’ Office, Boston
Mike Williamson and Cameron walked into the office building that housed the prestigious law firm. Mike made the introductions to the receptionist, after which she placed a call to Mr. Paulson to see which meeting room to direct them to.
They were taken upstairs to the second floor where all the private consultation rooms were located. The space was cordoned off into fancy rooms so lawyers could confer with clients in a relaxed setting. The far walls were floor to ceiling glass looking out over Boston, and Cameron noticed that the first room they walked past was named 2A. They halted in front of the next room, and it was checked to see if occupied. They were shown in and told that Mr. Paulson would be with them soon.
Cameron was the first to enter, passing by the door he drew Mike’s attention to the door plate.
Mike was distracted and asked, ”What?”
“2B or not 2B, was the question.”
“No, that is the question.”
“Isn’t the question if it’s 2B?”
“It’s: To be or not to be - that is the question.”
“That’s not an answer to a question.”
“There needs to be a question first.”
“How about 2C?”
“There has to be a way to get to a boat later.”
“It looks to be a nice day, I’m glad they showed us to a room with view of the water.”
“I should take you to a specialist to see if you’re okay, you seem to be delusional.”
“If we went to a different room, say 2C, It looks to be a view of downtown.”
“We need to be careful, if we want to see the sights, we could look to a guide for directions.”
“2B works for me, are you happy to be in 2B?”
“2B suits me to a T.”
Emit Paulson entered the room to find his clients in a fit of laughter. “You two need to be quieter, the people in 2A can hear you laughing. I’ll have to see if we can move to 2C.”
Emit rolled his eyes when the two burst into laughter, and had to ask, “Are you two all right?”
Cameron replied, “That is to be determined, I always wanted to go to sea,” then cut into another silly laugh.
Emit offered his guests beverages which had the effect of settling them down. Mr. Paulson proceeded to explain that Mr Lewis - as in ‘the’ Lewis of ‘Montcliff and Lewis’ had spoken with Bruce Goodkind.
Mr. Paulson told them that Mr. Goodkind had taken an intense interest in Cameron’s predicament, and instructed the firm to make every effort to secure representation of the case. Mr. Goodkind has offered to cover all costs associated with the lead action. He’d been hoping a high profile case would present itself, one that could prove to be … scandalous against mutants.
The Montcliff and Lewis legal team was anxious to represent Cameron. They had been waiting since Mike Williamson had first talked to them for a slam-dunk case like Cameron’s to walk in the door… and here he was.
Emit began to ask Cameron some more questions about Whateley.
“Why do you suppose Mrs. Carson said the students at the school would hate you?”
“I think it’s because they are taught to hate everybody! They look after their own well enough thou, but if you don’t measure up - buy into the program … you’re just dog-food.” Cameron replied. Then seeing that more info was needed, “They are so prejudiced that the mutant kids with deformities have to be housed separately.”
“What do you mean by ‘The Program’?”
“The school is little more than a front for a weapons factory, those kids are being taught to fight and maximize their destructive potential. Children are being taught to look at everyone and everything as a threat and how to destroy it. I am sorry to say that Whateley makes sure its students get so cranked full of angst and hatred that, … you won’t believe this, they have to beat each other each up and get graded on it.”
“Honest! Just before the holidays, they forced every student into these ‘combat finals’ where they had to fight for scores - like it was an exam or something. The students and staff were even betting on who would win matches … I was shocked at the bloodlust.”
“I’ve heard stories about ‘Mutant Death Matches.’”
“I saw that the fights were broadcast, but don’t know if anyone died. I couldn’t watch them, … from the activity at Doyle, there were serious injuries for-sure.”
“I can look into finding some of the broadcasts.”
“I have a recording of the bit that I saw - it’s on my phone.”
“Tell me, were you put in the ring?”
“No…thankfully, I couldn’t figure out what was going on at first - everyone was so amped up. I snuck into the arena to watch, I left in disgust and didn’t go back. All the talk around me for days was about ‘who beat who’, and ‘who got ranked’ as the most badass.”
“That’s not right!”
“I was shocked to find out that the worst kind of punishment they’ll hand out, is to force students to go to the GSD dorm. They treat those poor kids like lepers or something.”
“So, you were ostracized because you didn’t fit into the program … submit to their programming?”
“I’ve seen how kids form cliches and browbeat each other at school before,” detailed Cameron. “Here they make gangs to become invincible, then they book time in simulators to practice beating each other up, … and get critiqued in case they missed an opportunity to inflict damage."
“Why on earth did you stay?”
“At first I wanted to take some of the specialty subjects offered, but when they demanded I have a high school diploma before they’d even consider admitting me … it seems pointless now! Besides, I don’t think I’ll ever go back there.”
“Why should I? Cause here’s the score as I see it: One: Whateley and the MCO wants me dead. Two: The headmistress has it out for me, and she’s one of the most powerful mutants out there. Three: Most mutants want nothing to do with me. Four: There is nothing that school teaches that I want to learn.”
“It’s alright Cameron, now comes the toughest question of all: What do you want to do? Shall we proceed with laying charges against the school?”
“I - shouldn’t,” said Cameron as he hung his head down in shame.
“Go ahead son: tell me how you really feel.”
“I want to tear that place to the ground; one lousy brick at a time, and wipe it off the face of the earth,” he said, with a tear tracking down his face.
“That’s an answer I can work with,” admitted Mr. Paulson. “Will you allow the law firm of Montcliff and Lewis to represent you?”
Berlin Airport: Friday, January 4, 2008
The passengers aboard the small plane had begun disembarkation, people greeted loved ones as they exited the airport’s secure area. Clusters of students who had caught the scheduled flight back to Whateley Academy milled about waiting for their luggage to be off-loaded. They acted with a degree of restraint due to the headmistress also having been on the flight.
Keeping an eye on the stream of passengers, two New Hampshire State Troopers observed the crowd, waiting until a smartly dressed blonde woman wearing a beach hat entered the arrivals zone. She had a bronze tan from having been in the sun while on a vacation.
Approaching the lady, one of the Police Officers named Atkins, asked:
“Pardon me, are you Elizabeth Carson?”
“What can I do for you Officer?”
Addressing her formally, the policeman asked, “Mrs. Elizabeth Carson - also know as: Lady Astarte, Miss Miracle, and Miss Champion?”
“Yes,” responded the headmistress in a tone reflecting her curiosity.
“I am placing you under arrest,” stated the trooper. “You are charged with child abuse. You have the right to …” spoke the officer presenting her rights.
All activity in the vicinity stopped, aside from the man’s voice you could hear a pin drop. Everyone’s focus was upon the unfolding scene: no movement, not a squeak, not even a breath was taken.
From behind a screen stepped two MCO power frames, the clunk that the heavy machines feet made on the floor spiked everyones heart rate as an escalating situation was building, one which had all the baseline people frightened.
After a moment that felt like eternity, the headmistress extended her arms outward to permit the exemplar four rated handcuffs to be affixed to the heroine; then the officers escorted her out of the airport.
“All rise for the honourable Judge Stone,” announced the Bailiff.
The small courtroom was set up in the traditional manner. Seating was set in rows aligned behind two tables so all present faced the podium that the judge now moved toward. He gave the audience a quick glance as he took his chair.
“This court’s first order of business is the arraignment of Mrs. Elizabeth Carson, aka Lady Astarte, on charges of child abuse laid by the state of New Hampshire,” read the Bailiff.
The judge’s attention turned from his bailiff toward the woman dressed in a chic designer outfit that showed a lot of leg. She had shackles on her hands and feet, but still carried an air of dignity about her and her presence spoke of authority. Although her hair was disheveled - she was still an attractive lady.
Looking down from his high station the judge asked, “Mrs. Carson, how do you plead?”
A suited woman: Mrs. Marissa Dawson, was seated next to the restrained lady. Acting as the headmistress’s lawyer, she stood and addressed the judge, “Not guilty your honour!”
“Counsel, do you object to court setting bail?” questioned the judge to the table in opposition.
“Your honour, the prisoner is by her very nature a flight risk - given that she has the ability to fly. We are asking that no bail be granted and she remain in custody for the duration of the trial.”
“Judge Stone!” cried out Mrs. Dawson. “My client has made no attempts at escape - she has voluntarily remained interned despite the facilities being insufficient to prevent her leaving. I ask that the court show leniency in granting bail in recognition of her years of service protecting the populous.”
“This court does recognize the reputation of the accused, but that must be tempered by the fact she never served as a member of a law enforcement agency - only acting as a vigilante dispensing justice as she saw fit. I cannot disregard the possibility that she would flee to suit her own ends.”
Marissa was already moving to stand in rebuttal when the Judge continued, “However, consideration must be extended since she has never before been charged with a crime. To that end I set bail at one million dollars, and issue a restraining order to prevent contact with the victim.” With that, he struck his gavel to end the matter.
Marisa Dawson turned to Mrs. Carson and gave the woman a warm smile followed by a hug. “The Board of Trustees authorized me to post bail, let’s get you home.”
End Part 2