Yet A(nother) Year In Seattle
Sunday, February 21, 2066 – Hostile witness
Today was a perfect Sunday… if your perfect Sundays involve being drawn down on by a Knight Errant Tactical Squad, when you’re coming home from Sunday Dinner with family and have your eight-year-old daughter with you in the car.
I’m guessing it wasn’t their idea of good day either considering the fact that before Council Island Security forces drew down on them, and the Marshal HRT Team showed up they had to deal with two very angry, highly protective parents. Parents who by the way were fully armed and in a heavily armored SUV and said SUV was being driven by a man who teaches at the Marshal’s EVOC course.
It was, however, a great day for Bri. She was having too much fun to worry about just how serious the situation was and I for one am thankful. Don’t get me wrong, she knew it was serious, but she had complete confidence in Case and me… and the Walkers and her Uncles. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to face us down either.
It turns out that Suspicious Boys really didn’t like the Marshal plan of conducting their interview with me at the Marshal’s office and they definitely weren’t happy about having to wait until Thursday. That unhappiness led to them keeping a surveillance team on me at all times. Church and brunch were fine with them, but Sunday Night dinner on Council Island proved to be too much for them to deal with.
It seems our trip to Council Island was just what they needed for what they considered probable cause to take me in then and there. Something about traveling to a sovereign nation with no extradition treaty.
They also figured that one tactical squad was all they needed to take us down. I’d hate to think what would happen if we were actually trying to evade them.
We had to wait until the Regional Chief Marshal arrived on scene to ‘discuss’ what happened and what the options were. Case had the authority to negotiate, but the sense not to try in his current state. While they were discussing the situation, I put in a call to Citywide, I mean, why should Case’s people have all the fun?
After what they pulled I wanted as many guns pointed at them as possible. It was determined that in the interest of safety and the fact that as a Citywide Medic I could be deployed almost anywhere at any time and we did not want a repeat of todays ‘incident’ that I would meet with the Knight Errant Investigators in three hours at the UCAS Marshal’s Office, and that I was in no way ‘turning myself in’ to the authorities but I was simply doing them a courtesy in their investigation.
They weren’t happy about the three hours, but that was the time needed for us to make arrangements for Bri, for the Marshal’s office to arrange an interview room, with complete monitoring, both magical and mundane and to give me a chance to cool off. They obviously didn’t know me or the depths to which my anger can simmer when it comes to people pointing weapons at my child. It’s a good thing we don’t have more. I don’t think the world is ready for that kind of anger.
Taking care of Bri was easy, we handed her off to Mom Walker and the rest of the lodge that was ready to crispify the Knight Errant boys if they tried anything. Getting me settled, well… let’s just say I was a hostile witness.
They started off with some baseline questions to get a feel for me. They gave up pretty quickly on trying to ‘break’ me since I had the home court advantage and a bevy of lawyers advising me on what to say or do.
They tried to talk me into only having one lawyer present, but I had no intention of having any of them leave.
It would have been fun if I weren’t so pissed off.
Suspicious boys, Marcus and Evans tried to manipulate the scene playing ‘reasonable law enforcement officers to my needlessly hostile and evasive suspect, but the time for that game was well over.
Marcus: “Ms. Miller, why do you need so many advisors?”
Me: “Because right now, they’re all that’s keeping me from being up on assault charges.”
Evans: “We just want some answers.”
Me: “You could have gotten them on Thursday.”
Marcus: “You must see how your reluctance to help looked to us…”
Before I could say anything, they were answered by a chorus of lawyers.
Lawyer #1: “She was a willing witness.”
Lawyer #2: “She was co-operating.”
Lawyer #3: “But her job does not allow her to simply drop everything whenever investigators have a few questions for her.”
Marcus : “But, she was off duty today, why couldn’t she have met with us today and saved us all.. this…”
Lawyer #1: “Because she was on call.”
Chorus of Lawyers: “On Call.”
Me: “On call.”
Then, Evans, bless him asked the stupidest question of all: “why are you so hostile?”
Again, my response was drowned out by the chorus of lawyers but it was a beautiful thing to watch.
Lawyer #3: “You aren’t a parent are you?”
Evans managed a head shake before they descended on him.
Lawyer #2: “You endangered her family…”
Lawyer #3: “You endangered her child…”
Lawyer #1: “If you were a parent, you’d understand.”
Lawyer #2 ” and you wouldn’t be asking such a stupid question.”
Lawyer #4: “So we suggest you ask your questions and get your answers instead of feeling out our client and drawing this out any further.”
Lawyer #1 :“You aren’t setting her at ease, or making her regret her stance and you aren’t going to. The only thing that’s going to mollify our client is an official apology and getting this out of the way so she can prepare for the day ahead… you have ten minutes.”
I’m guessing that’s they figured that was all the longer I could control myself.
As near as I can tell, the boys pulled a job against a corporation that hired Knight Errant to bring them in, and in keeping with their reputation of always getting their man, they figured that harassing their targets’ little sister would do the trick. They didn’t say that but when you’re questioning someone who hasn’t seen her brothers in ten years… well.. it’s kind of obvious.
They tried to threaten me with ‘We’ll be watching you…’ but before they could finish the sentence the chorus of lawyers had pulled out a copy of a restraining order and handed it to them. It had been duly signed and notarized, they’d just been waiting for something ‘threatening.’
Case wasn’t nearly as patient. After the interview, he had a few choice words for Marcus and Evans… A few words I think everyone in the building could hear, and loud enough that Sifu may not allow Case back into Tai Chi class next week.
If you ask me, they got off easy.
Monday, February 22, 2066 – Surveilling the Surveillers
Still no apology. Not that I’m holding my breath or anything, I just thought I’d get that off my chest right off the bat.
I did, however, get to spend the day under surveillance. They didn’t go out of their way to be conspicuous, but they didn’t really try not to be noticed either. That’s the purpose behind this kind of ‘investigation’ read ‘harassment.’
Thing is, while they were watching me, I know the cameras Case has had watching me have been repurposed and are now watching them. They have been good about keeping the prescribed distance and they haven’t interfered with me doing my job.
They’re just waiting for my brothers to make contact.
Part of me wants to tell them, “They didn’t contact me when Bri was born, they didn’t contact me when Case almost died, they didn’t contact any of us when I was almost killed– they aren’t coming back.”
Hopefully, they’ll figure that out for themselves, or break containment so we can press charges. I really hope they just give up– I have enough enemies who’s careers I’ve ‘ruined’ by standing up for myself.
Sometimes I think I should come with my own surveillance guide.
Tuesday February 23, 2066 – Stand Like a Tree
It seems Sifu did indeed hear Case the other night, or at least heard about Sunday.
When they got home, Bri excitedly told me that Sifu had made Case stand in the corner, and then demanded to know what daddy had done wrong.
To be fair, Sifu did not kick Case out of class, but he did make him practice some Qi Gong exercises off by himself to get centered. The exercise was called Zhan Zhuang, or Standing Like a Tree. And while Case did practice it off to the side, Sifu did not actually tell him to stand in the corner, but when you’re eight and your dad is pretty much told to take a time out… well, that’s the thing that sticks with them.
Case wasn’t entirely amused but we’ve both had two days to calm down and that’s begun to help. Still no apology and I’m still not holding my breath.
I did end up explaining that daddy had used some very strong language with the men who’d pointed their guns at us, and Bri bless her nodded solemnly and said, “because they forgot that you should never point a gun at someone like that because that’s how accidents happen… unless you’re pointing them at the bad guys and you mean it.. then it’s okay.”
Some folks may disagree, but I take that as a sign we’re raising her up right. I just hope the surveillance team heard every word of it.
Wednesday February 23, 2066 – Extended Coverage.
We have gone well above and beyond the need for a formal apology. It’s one thing to watch me and ask questions about me. Do your background checks, I don’t care. I have been fully vetted by the UCAS Marshal’s office… do you really think you’re going to find dirt on me?
Go ahead and look, BUT LEAVE MY DAUGHTER OUT OF IT.
She has never met her uncles, she has no idea what you’re doing but she knows you’re there and oh yeah… she’s EIGHT!
I got a call at 11:05 this morning from the Principal at St. Nick’s telling me I had a very distraught daughter who needed to speak to me.
I think the worst thing for Bri was the fact that she is still just settling in at a new school and people are getting used to her and she’s just beginning to make friends, but when Knight Errant shows up trying to make her look like a criminal it was just too much for her.
As I recall I said nothing soothing or mollifying to Bri, but my righteous anger did the trick, as did the return of the Chorus of Lawyers. The restraining order now extends to Bri and they are pretty much not allowed in the same state my daughter.
They actually made the mistake of calling Case to try and smooth things over and see if he could get me to calm down… They quickly learned that I’m the mellower of the two.
I think Case is going to be standing in the corner again tomorrow.
Thursday, February 25, 2066 – Reflection… interrupted
My morning started with a follow-up visit from the Lone Star Detectives who were investigating my leaky bathroom. They have a very good case against the boyfriend but they want to make it solid. I don’t blame them.
I handed them the disc from my Paramedic cam. I guess that’s another advantage of having met some of the people I have here. Always document everything and if your camera burns directly to a disk, there’s no way to say the footage was edited.
I’d just been waiting for them to ask for it (and yes, I dubbed a copy and yes there’s a copy in a safety deposit box)
With nothing else to do I decided to go through the mail and I’m glad. I got a letter from an old friend back in Baltimore-Rudi. He’s looking into moving out this way and was asking about schools and job prospects. Considering the fact that he’s a motor medic and his wife is an RN, I’d say better than average.
I mean, I do know the medic in charge of the program out here.
Then he asked the loaded question: “what have you been up to for the last ten years?”
That gave me a lot of room for thought. Ten years ago, when I first got to Seattle I was green. I was greener than green if that was possible. To be fair-I wasn’t a green medic, I wasn’t even a green motor-medic. I was the program pilot transferring from Baltimore Shock Trauma and places like Johns Hopkins.
I was used to dealing with people on the worst day of their lives… I was used to fighting and that put me ahead in some areas, but I was so… unaware of the underside of the city, the corporations and the people working in the ‘gray’ areas.
Overall I don’t think I’ve changed that much… I mean, I’m still me… I’m maybe a little more cynical but a lot more hopeful too. I’ve seen the worst, lived through it and came out on the other side-a bit worn for wear but I like to think I’m better for it.
I found and lost my brothers and gained a family I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I’ve lost and I’ve recovered. My losses have made me all the more thankful for what I do have, and I’m even more determined to hold onto it with both hands.
I.. gotta go… three alarm high rise fire… more later…
Friday, February 26, 2066 – In parallel – by Jess Miller
I feel like I was hit by a freight train… no, better yet, like I have a monster hangover with none of the supposed fun prior to the feeling.
I thought Mario’s night terrors were bad, but it seems that the skeletons in my closets were invited out to play and haven’t quite gone home yet.
I’ve woken up a few times, totally disoriented. It took me a moment to figure out where I was and even then, everything seemed out of kilter. The only constant has been Case, holding me. So much to process… Consciously I only remember bits and pieces, and I’m pretty sure that’s my brain’s way of saying ‘you don’t need to know.’
Nathan and Mario agree I need time, and I think they need a break as well. Knight Errant has a lot of explaining to do, but I’m not sure if they will…
I’m going to write more later—when I’ve had a chance to process everything when I’ve had some real sleep… and about a year’s worth of therapy.
Friday, February 26, 2066 – In parallel – by Jonathan Walker
I have spent the last eight hours trying to keep my best friend from going off the deep end and storming the Ares compound in Tacoma. The thing is—I’m not sure if stopping him is really the right thing to do.
It almost came to blows a minute ago, but he’s calm again, calm enough that he’s got me really worried.
We underestimated our enemies; we forgot one rule in the game of Jurisdiction… a UCAS Restraining Order carries little to no weight within a Corporation or its enclaves.
No one thought about that until Jess answered a callout to the Ares Campus in Tacoma… it was late enough when she got that call that Case knew he and Bri would be on their own for class and dinner, so he took Bri to Tai Chi class, trusting Jess to take care of herself.
It’s what you have to do. Jess does it when Case is working a detail, it’s a fact of life and we accept the risks. But this was not the risk we’d signed up for.
It took them four hours to clear the scene, another fifteen to twenty minutes for dispatch to realize they hadn’t heard from Jess since she’d called in to say she was en-route. Turns out she’d never called herself on scene, but that’s not uncommon. Major incidents are just this side of total chaos and calls get lost in the confusion: another hazard of the job.
It wasn’t until 18:45 that they started looking for her. Charlie thought she’d gotten waylaid by a sucking chest wound and taken them to the hospital, but she would have returned. Thing was no-one saw her, no one.
By the time they’d figured out she was missing Case was in class and had turned off his LTG and didn’t turn it back on until halfway through dinner with Bri. That’s when things really came to a head.
The good part of this whole fiasco is the resources Case has access to puts Citywide to shame, and while they couldn’t find their Chief and medic, Case’s people found out what happened within a half an hour of being on the case.
It took precious time, but they found footage of her arriving on scene, parking her bike, and heading through towards the command center to report in. Five minutes later someone moved her bike into an unmarked garage.
Figuring out what happened from there was like a roller coaster. The tension kept building when we started thinking about what was probably happening.
Odds are Marcus and Evans hadn’t really planned this out—they probably haven’t even thought it out, or perhaps they have. There isn’t that much we can do legally and the timing couldn’t be worse since it’s after hours everywhere.
I think on one level we knew they were trying to lure her brothers out of hiding, and we were all pretty certain they felt she was hiding something. Part of why we insisted she be questioned at the Marshal’s office is the fact that they couldn’t use any ‘Invasive means’ of questioning.
Again, a Corporation on their turf is a sovereign nation and allowed to use whatever means they feel necessary to produce results. I think knowing that only made things worse.
At times Case has been like a caged cougar, pacing the confines of his cell, waiting for an opening. Other times, like now, he is calm and silent.
Unnerving as his pacing is—I’ll take the caged cougar over a calm and silent Jason Casey.
Mom arrived with coffee about twenty minutes ago and for a minute it looked like I was going to seriously have to hurt Case. His mood has been sour and unable to lash out at those who were hurting his family he lashed out at those of us around him. It’s one thing when he yells at me, or Nathan or Michael for that matter. We don’t take it personally, but when he yelled at mom… is was a totally different story. All three of us reacted almost immediately but not as quickly as Case.
He apologized in earnest and then left the room. I know he needed to gather his thoughts, I know he wanted to be alone where there would be no need for apologies, but I also knew it was the last thing he needed—and if I hadn’t followed him, mom would have.
I’ve been there for him in the mornings after Jess has had a ‘bad night’. It’s been almost six years since the shutdown and she still has nightmares bad enough to give Case nightmares. When I come into the station in the morning and Case is going at it with the heavy bag—I know it’s been another bad night and we talk.
Those occasions are fewer now, but a bad rescue, not enough sleep… an odd noise in the middle of a peaceful night is enough to trigger a nightmare, and now…
Now my best friend’s wife, my sister in all but blood, is being held in a cell on corporate turf and we both know they will hold nothing back to find out what they think she is hiding. When they meet with resistance, and they will, they will think she’s hiding something and pull out all the stops. Magic will be aided with drugs in an effort to get to whatever it is she’s hiding. Lord help them when they succeed.
It’s only a matter of time. Jess is strong-willed, but she doesn’t stand a chance against a mage who knows what he’s doing. She’d be the first to admit it—but she’d still fight. It’s her nature. It’s why we love her. It’s why what’s happening hurts as much as it does.
Two half hours now until we can try and resolve this legally. The unofficial/more dangerous means is already in the works. I hope it doesn’t come to that but everything will take more time than Jess has.
When things happen around here, they seem to happen all at once, thankfully this time it was for the best. While I was and trying to keep Case on track, Nathan was calling a few of Bri’s ‘Uncles’
Bri may have never met her real uncles she has more than made up for that with the people who’ve adopted Jess as their sister or Bri as their niece and or goddaughter. I am happy to say that while several of her ‘Uncles’ were working on obtaining Jess’ release one-way others, including myself and Case, were working on gaining her release through proper channels.
In the end, it was Nick who got Jess out.
We’d kind of lost track of him after Jess was ‘liberated’ from her ‘cave’ back in Atzlan but it turns out he retired from the military and… being well versed in security protocols and well-vetted had found himself a job with Knight Errant—a job, I’m rather happy to say, he left this morning.
Jess is sleeping off the worst of it—in this, I have to defer to Nathan and Mario which is frustrating. All I can do to help is keep her asleep until the drugs wear off and keep Case from driving everyone crazy.
I feel so useless.
Jess is finally resting normally, but we all know she’s got a long ways to go. Fortunately, there are people who care about her and Case isn’t letting her out of his sight for a good long time.
Me, I’ll be spending some time on Case’s couch watching over my friends, my goddaughter, and my girls.
Never mind keeping your enemies close. Keep your friends close and your family closer, and believe me, the Walkers have circled the wagons around the Caseys.
Saturday, February 27th – Picking up the pieces
My emotions are on a roller coaster right now, and I’m trying to put things in order, so please bear with me.
I arrived at the Ares compound, it was a full call out and they needed every medic they could get. The problem was, Knight Errant is a subsidiary of Ares, and handles their security. That meant as soon as I stepped on Ares’ campus, I was subject to their law enforcement.
It’s something I usually don’t think of and I wasn’t thinking of it then either. I was too angry at the time to realize just how bad things were. No, I was more worried about the lives they were endangering by keeping me from doing my job.
If they’d listened to logic I would have been fine, but they were more concerned with their end-goal rather than mine. Knight Errant does have a reputation to uphold and I have to admit, after I while with their ‘specialists’, I wished I did have something to tell them.
Logically I understand what they did… I even understand why they did it, but emotionally…
The UCAS Legal System has a series of checks and balances and is based on the belief that a person is innocent until proven guilty. A Corporation has policies and guidelines, and a corporation like Knight Errant operates on the assumption that everyone is guilty and they’re the only law that matters.
At least… that’s the way it feels.
I’m pretty sure that early on they figured out I didn’t know where my brothers were, but that didn’t mean my brothers didn’t know where to find me, or what was happening to me. I also have a lot of skeletons in my closet, my belfry and I’m pretty sure there are a few that hide in my left kidney, and a group like Knight Errant loves skeletons.
I deal with them by compartmentalizing them, to the point I lost track of just how many of them there were. For over twelve hours they were pulled out of their compartments given a party hat and favors and served hors de oeuvres.
To save their team of mages from any more headaches than I’d already given them, they used some sort of drug that not only ‘relaxed’ me… it made it impossible for me to control where my mind went… I couldn’t even hide in one of the closets until my party guests got bored and left.
If I did manage to get away from one of them, there was a mage working to bring them back to me.
Again, I understand the mechanics of what was done. Instead of wearing me down or tricking me into admitting something or giving something away and actually working they just kept pressing, kept pushing every chink in my armor until it all fell apart like adobe bricks turning to mud.
I didn’t have any information they wanted or needed, but I had plenty of buttons to push and plenty of points where they could break me and they used every one of them.
Nathan tells me I didn’t stand a chance.
Again, it’s something I understand intellectually, but emotionally…. I have a long way to go and plenty of people to talk to… and from the looks of things, plenty of time to do it in. Citywide has some choice words for Knight Errant—especially since I did co-operate, especially since as far as Citywide’s concerned, I was at Ares as part of my job and therefore was not subject to their rules, as long as I was not violating my contract with Citywide and the city for that matter.
Righteous or not, it can’t undo what was done.
I just have to sweep out the broken beer bottles and herd the reluctant party guests back into their appropriate hidey holes and move on.
While I have help—the clean up is something I pretty much have to do on my own, but I have plenty of people here to help me as I deal with them and Mario tells me I can’t just put everything back where it was—the skeletons know the way out now so I need to examine each one and rebuild my walls against them.
That and I need to make sure no one from Knight Errant gets anywhere near me, not that they’re going to have a chance with an armed and angry husband and a plethora of family all ready to defend me.
The boys may have left me for my own protection, but my real family stays with me for my protection. It’s all I’ve ever asked for.
Copyright 2010 M.T. Decker