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Nellie and Jane were driven to the Manukau District Court by Private First Class Lopa of Charlie troop. The journey from the airport was slow, and they arrived outside the building shortly before ten hundred hours. PFC Lopa decided to park the car at a shopping center across the road.
Jane had looked it up, and was trying to explain courts and lawyers to Nellie. He was not impressed.
“You mean, it takes months or years to decide if some dude hit another one?”
“What? They aint got no cameras?”
“Nah, not like us.”
“And peeps don’t speak for themselves. That’s what lawyers do?”
“And if you do break the rules you get locked in jail and are useless for years?”
“That’s dumb. They’re idiots. This war thing should be easy.”
There was a lawyer waiting for them at the entrance to the Court. Nellie handed her the passports, and she escorted them through the security scans.
“Mr Coffers is waiting for you in an interview room outside courtroom four.”
Jane felt like her head was on a swivel. She had thought of a Court as something like a library, quiet and dignified, but this was nothing like that. It was a miserable place. Dirty. Crowded. There were police, in uniform. There were lawyers, in suits and looking busily superior. There were people, lots of people. Many with children. Some looked angry. Most just looked confused and beaten. The interview room was small, and Mr Coffers seemed stressed.
Nellie introduced them.
“Well met Mr Nelson. That anti-ageing drug must be very effective. You barely look twenty….Thank you for the passports. They will be helpful. ….Mr Adam Gooch is not at court. The Senator has been kind enough to set up a live video feed to the operating theatre where he is currently undergoing surgery. I see that Mr Abel Gooch was also to appear here this morning. However it appears he is no longer in custody. That will be a problem with this judge… his honor, Anders Willnow… There is one matter to be heard before ours. A sentencing….I have two lawyers holding aisle seats for you in the courtroom. If you would excuse me, I have one or two details to attend to before the court opens.”
They were in courtroom one. The lawyer showed them the seats being saved for them, and they sat down.
“What you think?”
“Our boys aren’t here. We should learn what we can about security all the same.” Nellie didn’t really want to know what she thought. He wasn’t interested in the despair all around them. The despair that made Jane just want to pick up a gun and open fire. The more of these people she shot, the greater the gain in average ord happiness. Nellie was only interested in physical things. Right now, how would they rescue the Gooch and his son from here if it came to that?
“Yeah. Lots of glass windows. Just grab him and run. Easy.”
A door opened behind the bench. A lady came in, and announced “All stand for his honor, District Court Judge Anders Willnow.”
The judge entered, robes flowing around him. He stood behind the bench, nodded his head at the lawyers in front of him, said, “Be seated”, and sat down himself.
The man seated immediately below the bench rose. “The Police versus Shane Boggs to be followed by The Queen versus Adam Gooch.”
A door in the side wall at the front of the court opened, and a small man in an ill-fitting grey suit was pushed towards the dock where he stood, hands behind his back.
A lawyer stood, “Mr Fine for the police Sir.”
Another lawyer stood, “Ms South for the prisoner Sir.”
It seemed that Boggs had been in a car driven by his wife when they had encountered a police stop, checking drivers for alcohol. His wife had failed the initial in-car screening and was required to enter the “booze bus”. Boggs had interfered with this, and had finished up attempting to head butt a constable. He had made contact with the officer’s shoulder and been charged with assaulting a police constable. The facts were not in dispute, and Boggs appeared today for sentence.
Mr Fine felt that a sentence of community service was called for.
Ms South agreed, but said that Boggs was employed and able to pay a fine, and so perhaps his community service could be somewhat shorter than the three hundred hours sought by Mr Fine.
At this point Mr Coffers, followed by four other lawyers entered the courtroom. He stood behind the bar until one row was cleared for him.
Judge Willnow scowled, but said nothing. He looked down at some papers in front of him. Looked up, and said to Boggs.
“Mr Boggs, please stand.”
Boggs was already standing.
“Mr Boggs you have pleaded guilty to one charge of assaulting a police officer. I see that you have previously appeared before this Court. Twenty one years ago you were sentenced to two years imprisonment for selling marijuana. At that time you were a member of a motorcycle gang. I sentence you today to one week in jail.”
Why on the New World would the judge do that? Maybe Nellie was right and this war would be easy. Maybe not.
Ms South was up on her feet immediately.
“Your honor, I apply for bail pending appeal.”
“Application dismissed. Officer, take the prisoner away. Next matter.”
Once again the suited man in front of the bench rose.
“The Queen versus Adam Gooch, followed by the Queen versus Abel Gooch.”
“Fine for the Queen Sir”
“Coffers for Mr Gooch Sir”
“Your honor, I have received applications from TV One and TV3 to record these proceedings.”
“Do you have any objection Mr Coffers?”
“The proceedings may be recorded by TV One and TV3”
“Thank you, your honor. ..”
Mr Fine was interrupted by Mr Coffers rising to his feet.
“Mr Coffers, I don’t know how you do things in Wellington, but up here it is discourteous to come to your feet while the Crown is making its introductory comments.”
“Thank you, your honor. But there are a couple of preliminary issues.”
“Have you raised them with the Crown Mr Coffers.”
“I am doing so now your honor.”
“This is a simple matter. Extradition of a terrorist. What possible preliminary matters can there be?”
“Alleged terrorist, your honor. It is my contention that this Court does not have jurisdiction. The very foundation of the Crown case is that, under American law, my client is, himself, a non-human animal weapon of mass destruction. This Court’s jurisdiction in extradition does not extend to non-human animals.”
“That’s an argument for another day. Your second matter?”
“Mr Gooch bears a diplomatic passport issued by the Kingdom of Tonga. The Crown has made no request that diplomatic immunity be waived, and therefore there is no legal basis on which Mr Gooch can be detained, much less held in custody.”
“Well, where is Mr Gooch? Why is he not in the dock?”
“Your honor, the police attempted to arrest Mr Gooch at his home this morning but he resisted and was taken to the airport by armed employees of Uso Dex.”
“Is this true Mr Coffers?”
“It is true that Mr Gooch has not been arrested your honor.”
“Have you received a copy of the arrest warrant Mr Coffers?”
“I have your honor, just over an hour ago.”
“Well then your client has been served. Why isn’t he here?”
“He is currently in surgery your Honor. He was shot four times by the police.”
“You will forgive my skepticism Mr Coffers. Do you have any evidence of this?”
“I have footage of the shooting, and have a video-link to the operating theatre, Sir.”
“I am not interested in the footage. Get the surgeon on the line then Mr Coffers.”
There was a delay while one of the lawyers talked to the court staff. A cable was run from a laptop to a large flat screen in the courtroom, and within a few seconds everybody in the Court could see inside an operating theatre, where a surgeon was stitching up an incision to the stomach of a large man.
“Mr Bolton, Colin Coffers QC here. I am in the District Court at Manukau. His honor Judge Anders Willnow would like a word with you.”
The surgeon looked up and into the camera.
“I have my hands full here Coffers. Make it quick.”
“Mr Bolton I am District Court Judge Anders Willnow. Can you confirm that the patient you are operating on is Mr Adam Gooch.”
“I have no idea who he is. Look at his face and decide for yourself.” That was sensible. The doc had never met the Gooch before today. He hadn’t arrived at the airport by the time she and Nellie had left to come here. How could the surgeon confirm that the patient was Adam Gooch?
“You will not speak to me like that in my courtroom.”
“I am not in your courtroom. You are in my operating theatre. Now do you have any questions that I can answer? I have a shoulder to save here after I have closed the abdomen and am not particularly interested in your legal games.”
“What are your patient’s injuries?”
“He has four bullet wounds. One nicked his spleen and resulted in internal bleeding. I have removed his spleen. He requires a blood transfusion but laboratory matching is not complete. He has soft tissue damage to his right arm and right thigh which I shall attend to next. I have not explored his shoulder wound fully, but the joint has been penetrated and reconstruction may be required.”
“When can I speak to him?”
“That is not satisfactory.”
“It is what it is. I will be operating for, perhaps, another six hours. The patient will not recover from the effects of the anesthetic for a further twelve hours after that, and he will be confined to bed for 48 hours following surgery.”
Mr Fine spoke, “Is your patient human Mr Bolton?”
“The anatomy is somewhat irregular, but within the range of human.”
“Is your patient human or is your patient an ape?”
“Humans are apes you fool, and I’m a surgeon not a taxonomist.”
“Where are you Mr Bolton?”
“In a hangar at the airport.”
“You seem to be in an operating theatre Mr Bolton.”
“A mobile field hospital, Judge.”
Judge Willnow looked away from the screen. “Counsel, there is a warrant for the arrest of Mr Gooch. That cannot be executed at the moment. I am prepared to have a sitting of this Court at Mr Gooch’s hospital bedside two pm tomorrow. Are you available?’
Both lawyers were. Mr Fine stood.
“Your honor the defendant is at the airport. He is clearly a flight risk.”
“What do you suggest Mr Fine?”
“That this Court remands him in custody.”
“He has not been arrested. I can’t remand him anywhere. In any case the surgeon says he must be in hospital at least until the time I have allocated for the hearing tomorrow.”
“Then he should be under guard.”
“I cannot order the police to do that. It is an operational matter for them. Next case please Mr Registrar”
“The Queen versus Mr Abel Gooch.”
Once again Mr Fine stood, and informed the Court he was acting for the Crown. Mr Coffers stood for Abel. Mr Fine spoke.
“Mr Abel Gooch is not in Court this morning your Honor. It seems that, in the early hours of this morning, there was an inmate riot in the facility where he is being held and no prisoner transfers to Court were possible. The picture at present is very confused. There appears to have been an explosion at the facility and firearms have been discharged. TV3 is showing footage of the scene which appears to show dead American servicemen and a burning American military helicopter at the site. There is considerable wreckage and it is unknown whether Mr Abel Gooch is injured, dead, or even still held at the facility.”
“Mr Fine, are you telling me that American armed forces have attempted to remove, indeed may have removed, Mr Abel Gooch from custody?”
“That seems to be one possibility your honor.”
“I will stand this matter down until two pm today at which time I expect better information from you Mr Fine. Do you have any objection to that Mr Coffers?”
“No Sir, I do not.”
“Very well, this matter is stood down and will be called again at two o’clock.”
Jane had a lot to think about as she left the court. It was the first time she had observed ords in the wild, outside of the reservation. They were not impressive. She had thought, for years, until a few days ago, that the war with the ords would be a desperate and quick thing where the job of the army would be to hold off the ords for as long as they could so that as many citizens, Choo, and Gooch, as possible made it off the planet before the army was overwhelmed and all the soldiers, like Nellie, Sandy, and her, were killed. Kind of like that movie ‘300’.
When she’d heard the Senator’s first speech, she’d expected that she only had a few weeks to live. 1RR would be at the sharp end of any war, and its soldiers wouldn’t live for long. She’d worried about how she’d cope if Nellie was killed first. That would be worse than dying herself.
Then the Senator had talked about building a second Stargate to a universe created for humans to colonize. Today, Jane believed, for the first time that perhaps Uso Dex might survive. She understood a bit better the things she’d read in The Prince and The Art of War about dealing with numerically superior forces. If your enemy has superior strength, divide him or evade him. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. It is better to be feared than loved.
Suddenly Jane realized that the Senator had been planning and fighting this war for the last fifty years or more. Maybe there was a better planner, or a better fighter, but if so that person wasn’t an ord.
She leaned over and kissed Nellie.
“Focus girl. We on a mission, and it’s not over till we back on the plane. Soon.”