And time to put the wraps on the biggest pain in my ass in years!
You know, when I broke his daddy's organization in, um, '10? '11?
I never expected Junior to do anything more than sit in a corner and whine.
I was wrong. I found that out in '13.
Then I did it to him, and you'd think maybe he'd learn.
At least now he wasn't trying to kill me, just strip my humanity and legal rights.
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
Federal Court, Albuquerque, Sonoran Republic
“No, Your Honor. No more witnesses.”
“Any other evidence, Mr. Forman?”
“No, Your Honor. The Plaintiffs rest.” He sat, and Junior looked smugly over at Kendra.
“Very well. Ms. Chew.”
“Thank you, Your Honor.” Chew stood. “Your Honor, the defense moves for a directed verdict on the grounds that the Plaintiffs have not proven my client’s liability by the preponderance of the evidence.”
“Sit down, Mr. Forman. You have no grounds to object. Ms. Chew, explain.”
“Your Honor. The Plaintiffs’ case rests on two pillars. First, that my client is an Enhanced Human. That, we do not contest. Evidence was discovered by the Plaintiffs, evidence which has been independently verified as accurate. My client is, in fact, an Enhanced Human.” Even though this was not in any way news, a ripple went around the courtroom.
“Being an Enhanced Human is not illegal. There are no laws in the Sonoran Republic, of which my client is a citizen, which would deny her her humanity for her genetic background, nor are there any such laws in any of the other nations to which she may claim her rights as a citizen. She has done nothing more than be born and live her life as best she knew how, facing adversity and challenges along the way as any other person would do.”
“My learned opponent has argued that Enhanced Humans are illegal in nations governed by the United Earth Charter; however, my opponent is, to be blunt, wrong. The creation of additional Enhanced Human embryos is prohibited, under the treaties of 2077 which ended the Green War. But those treaties have never claimed that the people born from those embryos are prohibited. Indeed, the treaties specifically discuss Enhanced Humans. I quote: All Enhanced Humans now living, and all those who are yet to be born from the embryos now in existence, are hereby granted absolute equality under the United Earth Charter with all such other citizens as now and may in the future exist, with all the rights and protections granted thereto.”
Chew paused. “That, Your Honor, is as sweeping a statement as ever made by any government. The United Earth representatives intentionally chose that language to make it clear to anyone, even the most obstinate or determined, that Enhanced Humans were, in fact, human. Thus does the first pillar of their case fall.”
“The second pillar is based around an accusation. They accuse my client of fraud, on the grandest scale possible. They claim that my client not only knew of her background, her genetic heritage, but deliberately concealed said background in order to enter into what they claim to be illegal agreements and contracts.”
“This pillar fails on many counts, Your Honor.”
“First, they have not proven by any testimony or evidence that my client knew anything of her past beyond what she herself has related in court. We have provided to the Plaintiffs, and they presented as part of their evidence, video footage, recorded when my client was first informed of these wild accusation. This footage shows the genuine reaction to totally unfounded and unexpected news. Nothing the Plaintiffs have provided contradicts the testimony of that recording.”
“You’ve made that point, Counselor. Move on.”
“Your Honor. Plaintiffs have also claimed that the extraordinary abilities demonstrated by my client, abilities which she testified to under oath in her deposition, are proof that she knew of her status. However, Your Honor, what child, what adult, questions what they can do? If I can run a kilometer in two minutes, do I then believe that there are improper genetic manipulations in my past? If you can solve a crossword in ten minutes with no mistakes, are you possessed of a genetically enhanced brain? The beauty of the human species, Your Honor, lies in the variety and breadth of ability that we demonstrate. Why, some of us are even possessed of the moral flexibility which makes us suited to be a lead attorney in a questionable civil action.” Forman reddened as a titter of laughter coursed through the spectators.
“None of their experts, and I use the word in its most liberal possible sense, could testify under oath that my client would have known, without possibility of doubt, that she was, in fact, enhanced. Their doctors, all four of them, failed to detect any feature which would prove to them that my client was enhanced, and admitted so under cross-examination. None of the Plaintiffs’ personal witnesses could attest to anything more damming than, and I quote the lead Plaintiff, Mr. Williamson, ‘There’s something fucking odd about her, I always knew that’.” She looked directly at Williamson, who squirmed, uncomfortable in her gaze. “Given the contentious nature of their history, Your Honor, and the consistency with which my client seemed to best the Plaintiff in their encounters, a certain animosity is not only natural but expected, and could certainly color his un-expert testimony.”
“Without knowledge, Your Honor, there cannot be intent. Without intent, there can be no fraud. If I sell you a brick, having stated it is a brick, and you choose to believe it is a diamond, have I committed fraud when you finally discover it is, in fact, a brick? No. If I sell you another brick, having said to you, ‘It looks like a brick, it feels like a brick, but I cannot state, uncategorically, that it is a brick,’ and it turns out not to be a brick but a cleverly-crafted imitation, have I committed fraud? No, for I have made no such claim.”
“My client, believing herself to be a human like billions of others, presented herself thusly to the world. The world accepted her as human. She went through nearly forty years of life exactly as the people around her did. There was never any intention to deceive; she presented her true face to the world, and the world responded.”
“This pillar also fails on the most fundamental level: there is no legal prohibition anywhere on the planet which forbids an Enhanced Human from entering into a contract, purchase order, or any other legally-binding agreement. None. The various statutes that my learned opponent has cited have all, every last one of them, been repealed or revoked. Some were dismantled through court action, some through executive action, others through legislation. Thus it stands: if an action is not illegal, then there is no remedy which can be pursued through the courts as if it were illegal. Certainly, my client could be sued for breach of contract, but that is not what the Plaintiffs allege. Their case falls again, Your Honor.”
Chew straightened and stood behind Kendra.
“Finally, Your Honor. It has been said that it takes a human mother to have a human child. This woman is mother to two girls, who are undeniably, completely, and certifiably human. To find that their mother, through some quirk of history, is something other than human would be a miscarriage of justice. Thank you.”
“We will recess while I consider the Defense’s motion.”
“All rise. This court is now in session, Senior Justice Bethany Hodge presiding. You may be seated.”
“Counselors. In the matter of Williamson et al v. Cassidy, also known as Kendra Foster-Briggs, Admiral Cassidy of the Terran Federation, and MGL 29-5. This has been a case of strange motivations; the lead Plaintiff is a convicted criminal whose illegal operations where hamstrung by the Defendant, and yet somehow he went from this to leveling an accusation of Fraud by Deception at the Defendant, uncovering supposed evidence of said fraud while imprisoned, evidence which was so deeply buried that it had not come to light in the prior forty years.”
“Motivations aside, the primary fact of this case is not in dispute. Kendra Cassidy, Admiral of the Terran Federation, and co-trustee of the Harriman Trust, among other titles and positions, is an Enhanced Human. That fact has been stipulated and agreed to by both parties.”
“The accusation of fraud, however, has not been proven by anywhere near a preponderance of the evidence. The Plaintiffs have clearly failed to establish intent, which is the key component in their accusation. Therefore, the Defense Motion for summary judgement is granted and the case is dismissed.” Her gavel came down.
“That’s it?” fumed Williamson, as Forman started packing up his papers. “They don’t have to do anything, just spew bullshit and the judge throws us out? I wish I’d known this at my trial!”
“We’ll appeal, of course,” said Forman, still calmly packing.
“And how long will that take? I don’t get to stay out indefinitely!”
Forman shrugged. “We can ask for an emergency session, of course, but it’s up to the Appeals court to accept or not.”
“Fuck that!” And Williamson lunged across Forman towards Kendra, pulling what looked like a knife from under his suit. He slashed at Chew, who lurched just far enough back to avoid the blade, and then he was on her.
“If I can’t kill your dreams, I can kill you!”
The knife came down and she was raising her arms, catching his knife hand between her wrists. But that didn’t stop his momentum and he bowled into her, both of them tumbling back off the chair.
Kendra was dimly aware of screams and chaos around her, but most of her focus was on the murderous rage on Junior’s face. He pulled his arm back, out of her block, then thrust forward, lower. She felt the knife enter her abdomen, but then she was able to grab his wrist and twist.
He let go of the knife, after a painful turn in her stomach, but then he was on her again, clawing and kicking at her. She curled around her injured middle and held on, enduring the assault as best she could. There was a grunt of pain, then the attack stopped. She could hear yelling and shouts of, “Get her off of him!” and “We need a doctor here!” But it seemed very distant, and not terribly important.
She opened her eyes and uncurled slightly.
“Hey, babe,” she said to Cass’s worried face. She could feel her hands around her own, still cupping the knife.
She looked up at Cass. “Why’s your uniform all bloody?”
“Ma’am, you need to come with me,” a security guard was saying, a hand on Cass’s shoulder.
“Tha’s my wife,” said Kendra. Then, more loudly, “My wife!”
“Officer, that’s her wife,” said Chew from somewhere.
“She attacked Mr. Williamson,” argued the guard.
“Who was assaulting her wife,” countered Chew.
Kendra found it all quite distracting.
“You beat up Junior?”
Cass nodded through tears.
“Kicked his ass?”
Cass nodded again.
“Good. Tha’s ver’, ver’ good.” Kendra let her eyes shut.
“Kendra, don’t you dare go anywhere!”
“’m not,” she said, eyes still closed. “Jus’ resting. Jus’ a minute.”
“Where’s that doctor?” Chew’s voice penetrated the chaos.
“Emergency services are on the way, ma’am,” said another voice.
“Hold on, Kendra!”
“’m not going nowhere.” Then she did.