Published 5 years ago
Gwen sat at her small kitchen table drinking a cold glass of water. The room was dark, and her mind clouded with confusion about the decisions she needed to make.
Raven asked her some tough questions of choice. Should she spy on the succubus investigation and arrest of Carlo to report back to Raven? Should she say 'NO' and stay as a witness helping capture the succubus killer and her group of fey led by Carlo? These were her major choices, but there were influential factors on both sides. She knew she should sleep, but her mind and conscience bombarded her with feelings that confused her.
Gwen reached for her cell phone and dialed Maria's number. She knew that Maria would help her decide what was best, without telling her what to do. The phone rang three times and a sound as if the phone fell on the floor assaulted Gwen's ear.
Maria's groggy sleep filled voice answered, "This better be good. It was a long two days, and I am in no mood to have someone trifle with me." Maria rolled over and sat up on the edge of her bed.
"Maria, I am sorry to bother you at this late hour, but can I come over and talk to you? I have some problems and need to talk to someone." Gwen's tiny voice meekly asked reluctantly.
Maria looked at her phone, "Gwen, is that you? What is wrong, honey? Come over. I will put the teapot on for us."
Gwen whispered, "Thank you, Maria. I will be there in ten minutes."
Gwen arrived at Maria's and flopped in a chair at the table in her kitchen. After taking a big gulp of tea, Gwen started to explain the situation Raven placed over her head. Maria listened and waited until Gwen finished, but she shook her head and just peered at Gwen through sleep-shrouded eyes. Gwen expected Maria to make the decision for her, but Maria in her wisdom made no move to approve or disapprove. Instead, Maria asked questions about how Gwen felt and pointed out the legal and moral issues that presented themselves. Gwen was disappointed but realized that Maria gave her what she needed to hear. After an hour, Gwen left her friend's kitchen feeling happier and more resolute in making her choice.
Instead of going home, Gwen rode her motorcycle to VJS headquarters where she could inform on what Raven asked. She walked into the makeshift squad room and asked for Eran or Detective Slade. Both of them met her at the entrance and escorted her to the conference room. Leona and Connie joined the group. They peered at a screen on the wall, where they watched the video again. Gwen sat blushing uncomfortably in the room and watched Raven and her creep carefully across the property on the big screen TV. Before Slade or Eran asked any questions, Gwen spoke up and apologized for being on the estate.
After she had apologized, Gwen stated she had more to add about the whole night with Raven. She explained what Raven wanted her to do, but she felt it was too wrong to follow through on it. Slade stood up mainly to stretch, but also to intimidate Gwen a little. He walked around the conference room as if he was in deep thought and slowly turned to face Gwen. He stared down at Gwen as if he were going to remove her from the room and ban her from the investigation.
Instead, he spoke softly and gently, "Thank you; that was a brave thing to do. We are glad you decided to stay on the right side of the law. Maybe we can use your honesty to our advantage against Molly and trap Raven into tipping her hand in Carlo's case. We can feed her some misinformation and get Molly to confess her involvement in the deaths of all the men we found across the country."
Gwen visibly relaxed as Slade spoke and expressed the sentiments of everyone in the room. Leona appeared surprised at Gwen's confession, which was contrary to her experience with shape shifters in the past. She smiled when Slade spoke because she knew that the squad would watch Gwen more closely in the future. She still mistrusted shape shifters, but Gwen puzzled her by being open with the squad. In her mind, she felt like reserving her judgment a little longer, waiting to see if she was honest and determined to do the right thing.
"This might work to our advantage with Raven at least. Gwen, what is Raven's involvement right now?"
"She was hired to get Carlo out of VJS lock-up and placed in Molly's custody. Whether she becomes the defense attorney at trial is another matter."
Connie who up to this point observed everything spoke, "What are you thinking, Slade? Can we feed some misinformation to Raven about Carlo getting Molly to act against him and expose her bad behavior?"
"Yes, that was part of what I was thinking, but more to the point we can make it appear that Carlo co-operated with us, and we are going to let him plea to a lesser charge. But first we need to get him set up with the worst charges we can arrange, so the plea bargain seems to be in his favor."
Gwen sat back in her chair feeling relieved that she did the correct thing. She looked at Eran and asked, "May I have something to drink? The tea I had the other day was lovely. Is there more of it available?"
Slade nodded to Eran, who rose and left the room. Five minutes later, she returned with teacups, a steeping teapot and several cookies on a tray. She set the tray in front of Gwen and poured herself a cup of tea. Gwen poured a cup for herself and looked questioningly at the rest of the group. No one else made a move for tea, so she put the pot down and grabbed a cookie.
After a quiet few minutes, Slade's cell phone rang causing everyone to perk up and look at him. He answered the phone, listened to the caller and hung up. He spoke to the group, "Carlo made bail and left with Raven in her custody. Now we can proceed to work on the case against him for holding the two men as captives in Molly's estate. We could use Gwen's help here but not right away."
Eran spoke up, "We still have to process the estate where we captured Carlo and rescued the men. That will give us the time we need to convince Raven that she has a good ally in Gwen. How do you feel about that, Gwen?"
Gwen sipped her tea and thought before answering. It was still not clear what they expected her to do, but she knew it was the right thing. "Anything you need that I can do, I will. Raven may be a lawyer and friend, but she asked me something I cannot do."
In another area of the VJS complex, Raven waited for Carlos, so that she could inform him that she was his lawyer and would get him released. As she waited, she thought about Gwen and what Raven had forced her to do. Raven knew it was unethical behavior, but any edge she could get would prevent Carlo from execution and protect Molly's integrity. Carlo meekly entered the cell and sat across from Raven. He looked disheveled and acted as if he had not slept in days.
"Carlo, My name is Raven and Molly hired me to represent you here today. In a few minutes, you will appear in front of the Magistrate of the VJS. You will plead 'Not Guilty' to the charges, and he will set bail, which Molly will post. Molly will have custody of you after that. Your release will happen, and I will take you to her. Do you have any questions?"
Carlos sat looking at the table. He raised his head, stared directly into Raven's eyes and said, "Why is a shifter representing me? I did nothing wrong. I don't need a lawyer. Just get me out of this place."
Raven looked at the fey and shook her head. "You need a lawyer, and you are not in a human court of law. Human law and rules do not apply here. In most cases here, when a guilty sentence is handed down from the magistrate, the sentence is death. With that sentence, the execution happened within days with no appeal process. I am your best hope to avoid a guilty verdict. Let me do my job and get you released."
Carlo stood, and his guard took him back to his cell. He knew that Molly wanted him out so she could watch him. He knew that she would make sure he was quiet and away from police interrogators. He sat in his cell for an hour before the guards came and took him to court. As he walked to court, his mind filled with thoughts of release and what he would do. The guards directed Carlo to a small anteroom where prisoners waited for trial or formal hearings.
In the courtroom, Raven sat at a table in front of the magistrate. Gustaf sat above the court conferring with Andrei about the case. Unlike the human court, there was no area for a jury, and there was no table for a prosecuting attorney. In the preternatural justice system, the magistrate had the final word. There was no appeal; however, the magistrate was supposed to be fair and impartial. In most cases, that was true. This case was different from the normal because it was the key to capturing and convicting a succubus who murdered several young men since she arrived in America.
Raven had no knowledge of Molly's past and she felt getting Carlo off was just a formality. As Carlo entered the room and sat with Raven, she noticed the way Gustaf and Andrei watched him. There was a curious glare from Andrei but mild indifference from Gustaf. The looks confused Raven, but she took it as the difference in age and knowledge of the two men. Raven shook Carlo's hand and whispered to him to calm him.
Gustaf called the session to order and announced the case of Carlo versus The Vampire Justice System. He called upon Raven, "How does your client plead counselor?"
Raven stood, looked at Carlo and replied, "My client pleads not guilty, your magistrate."
"Very well, his plea has been entered; will you request bail to release your client?"
"Yes, your honor, we request bail and immediate release."
Gustaf paused; normally the accused went home with no bail set. Most preternatural knew that to flee meant immediate death when captured. Andrei leaned down and whispered to Gustaf, "Let's get a high bail set to reassure that Carlo will reappear rather than Molly surrender her bond." Gustaf nodded, and Andrei stepped back.
Gustaf pondered a bit longer then spoke, "Counselor, considering the nature of your client's offenses we feel a very high bail should assure the Vampire Justice System that your client reappears. Therefore, bail is set a five million dollars payable in cash tonight. If not paid he will stay with us and await trial."
Raven appeared shocked but realized there was more at work here than she knew. Rather than tip her hand, Raven replied, "Thank you your magistrate. I will have the bail posted immediately and expect my client's release by morning."
Andrei and Gustaf turned to look at each other surprised at the ease of Raven's approval of bail. A thought passed between them that Molly must want Carlo out and back no matter the cost.
After the court had adjourned, Gustaf called Slade and spoke to him for a few minutes filling him in on the bail and release proceedings. Slade did not seem concerned but requested that Carlo stays in jail at least until after sunrise. That would give him time to get things in place to follow and watch Carlo and Raven. Slade informed Gwen, Eran and Leona of the decision and ordered them to set up for watching both Carlo and Molly.