Spacer Furies 47
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    I anticipated a somewhat drawn-out process, being reasonably familiar with the operating pace of justice in this country. As it turned out, the proceedings had been sped up considerably. The grand jury would begin that very morning and decide whether or not to continue with a full trial; there would be no real time for either side to prepare.
    Lucky had several things going for her: the fact that Vincent's lawyers (he's still in a coma) were not pressing charges, the good coverage we had all gotten lately (which could cut both ways if the press found out the truth), Lucky's well-demonstrated utility as part of the team, and the fact that she had turned in Vincent with enough evidence that he would certainly be brought to trial himself just as soon as he left the hospital. They might be able to play it that she had been going there to arrest him and things had gotten out of hand—not exactly the truth, I thought unhappily, but a plausible approximation. And finally, the prosecution did not have access to the sealed files on Lucky's past in New York, and would not be able to gain access quickly enough to affect the grand jury.
    If it went to trial, on the other hand, they would have enough time to make the necessary appeals and most likely open those files. And Lucky would almost certainly lose.
    Reilly drove. I sat in the back. At the courthouse we were introduced to her public defender, Simon Velke. He seemed like a pretty decent sort, a little young and a bit nervous—"Ooh, code names," he grinned when I introduced myself—but ready to lay out the facts of the situation. Some of them were pretty grim. An assault by a variant defender on a civilian carries up to twelve years, roughly triple the usual assault sentence. The ACLU is trying to prove that giving out harsher sentences according to variant genetics is unconstitutional. The current reality is that variant law is a mess. You'd think after they'd been dealing with us for this long, they'd have figured a few more things out, but right now the compromises are uncertain and uneasy.
    A minor, additional cause for worry was an article in the paper by Holly Shapiro, suggesting that the city would actually be safer if we weren't around. The name sounded familiar; she had done another one during the whole wolf vigilante dust-up (before we found it was Phoenix). That was all we needed, some sort of crusader; if there was a leak, she'd probably lead the lynch mob. On the up side, Vincent's people remained adamant about not filing charges, and had indicated in a statement that if he did regain consciousness and was called to the stand it would be as a hostile witness. They're taking a publicly magnanimous stance to the effect that she was just doing her job, and given the information she had at the time, her action was not unreasonable. Real nice of them, don't you think?
    Velke had a whole pile of Reilly's reports on the table, starting with the very beginning of our work as a team—that first blood-drenched alley seems like it happened years ago. Those initial reports, by the way, characterize Lucky as a "rash, undisciplined, delusional psychotic" with next to no ability to accept instruction. The fact that his opinion of her has changed considerably for the better since then would serve her well, we hoped. Velke indicated that he would like to talk with Lucky alone, start putting together a strategy. The hearing would begin at nine thirty, a little over an hour away.
    "Is there anywhere I can get some coffee?" I asked, suddenly realizing what had been missing from my day so far. Any minute now my nervous energy would probably give out.
    "Yeah, there's a cafeteria downstairs."
    "You have just saved a life."
    "Get me a strudel?" Lucky requested.
    I left in quest of coffee and baked goods, found them, sat down on a plastic chair and stared blearily at the Styrofoam cup, thinking that this just might be the second worst day of my life. The coffee was awful, by the way—Dawn got me addicted to the good stuff before she and Phoenix took off for Japan. Haven't heard from them since they got there.
    "This seat taken?"
    I debated with myself for a moment while my stomach did unpleasant things. "No."
    "What do you think'll happen?" Reilly asked.
    "I don't know," I answered. "I honestly don't know." So much depended on so many unknown quantities. How good was the prosecutor? Would the press find out and come after blood? Did anyone in the room have a score to settle?
    "Huh. Look, they're going to be in there a while. We should talk, someplace that isn't the cafeteria."
    Get it over with warred with This is going to hurt and won. "You have someplace in mind?"
    "I was thinking the roof?"
    I considered lightning bolts and ice rays. "I'd rather not."

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson