Las Vegas, NV
Still on a Friday night
“The reason for the rush is the staff wanted to give us premium seats for the second showing of DmC: Devil May Cry tonight.” Emily unlocked the car and made her way into the driver’s seat. “Load that briefcase in the trunk and let’s get out of here.”
Ashley silently went along with Emily’s directions until the car was a mile away from the casino. The quiet gave her a chance to shut out Emily’s convoluted story and let her focus on exactly how to phrase the pressing question. “Why are we doing all of this? What is keeping you from just throwing Undyne into the sun OR something else equally absurd? You DID manage to kill someone in FULL VIEW in New York City without consequence.”
“Jessica, do you really think I didn’t try that already? Killing her wasn’t the issue, but keeping her dead IS.” Emily turned on the playlist for auditory distraction. “You’re REALLY one to talk about competence and ‘paths of least resistance’.” Emily noticed Ashley yawn. “Tell you what, we’ve both had long days and we’re probably a bit raw. Why don’t you take first shift sleeping? We can swap positions in mid-Utah.”
“I’m not tired. What are you even saying?” Ashley fell asleep before the car exited the city limits. Emily took the time at one stoplight to switch the playlist into the ‘instrumental’ subcategory. The plush senator managed to ‘coincidentally’ end up in Ashley’s lap at the following stop.
Along I-70, Utah - Early Saturday morning
Interstate 70 provided the fastest and most efficient route to Colorado. Even then, the range limitations of the Charger forced Emily to pull over for the first of several major fuel stops. Emily pulled off the road to the first ‘reputable’ gas station brand she saw when the fuel gauge indicated less than two gallons remaining. The refueling time gave her a chance to throw away some Snapple bottles, buy more drinks and take a few photographs of Ashley asleep.
Emily pulled out of the gas station wondering whether or not she should force Ashley to take her turn already. Her companion looked far too peaceful to disturb like this. “I’ll pull over and nap for just a few minutes. I DID master the technique of condensed REM sleep.” The technique she learned hinged on a TOTAL absence of alcohol and caffeine from the body. In reality, her nap became a full rest.
Along I-70, Utah - Mid-Afternoon
“Is it morning already?” Ashley woke up groggy and slightly disoriented. Had Emily driven the whole night? Looking over to the driver’s seat answered that question abruptly. “Emily, are you awake?” Apart from the gas station and the strangely empty strip mall Emily had parked in, there weren’t any clear indicators of where they were. Fear set in once Ashley discovered her phone had no bars in the area.
“WhoWhatWhereWhy!?” Emily snapped to attention with her hands at 9 and 3 position. She immediately checked to make sure she had turned off the car as opposed to letting it idle. “We’re making good time, Ashley. I pulled over for a SMALL nap after refueling at 3:25 AM. At this pace, we should be in Denver by mid-afternoon.”
“Carol, the time is 3:30 PM.” Ashley showed her phone as proof.
“First of all, we aren’t obligated to use those names anymore. Second of all, are you factoring in time zones?” Emily turned the car on, relieved to discover the gas tank was still full. “Switching from the Pacific Time to Mountain Time is a major transition.” A total absence of traffic allowed Emily to burnout back onto I-70.
“A time zone changes one hour, Emily. It isn’t as though you can give yourself jetlag in a car.” The pieces came together. “You’re embarrassed to admit that you fell asleep, aren’t you?”
“I’m embarrassed to admit that we stayed in Utah VOLUNTARILY.” Ashley’s piercing stare continued to poke holes through her.
“… No one must ever know this shame.”
The Charger continued down the road with few interruptions until the gates of civilization opened across the Colorado state line. Mercifully, Emily pulled into a Motel 6 in Grand Junction for some much needed hygiene and proper eating. The legalization of marijuana throughout the state seemed to keep questions about the costumes to a minimal. No one cared as long as they kept the masks on. Granted, going from Caesars Palace to a motel within 24 hours is a bit of a whiplash. However, a potentially stained bed in a room overlooking a parking lot is preferable to the ‘SHAKESPEAREAN’ performance hundreds of miles away. They decided to hit the road first thing in the morning.
Ashley woke up to the surprising sight of Emily in her traditional blue striped dress. She was walking around the room with a rather expensive looking laptop sporting a backlight color spectrum almost as loud as her fashion choices. “Where did you get that outfit, Emily? I thought you only brought that outfit I found you in.”
“Yes, I DID only have that with me. However, employing Captain Marvel’s clothing cosmetic transformation skill, seen in Captain Marvel (2014) #11, I decided to temporarily alter my outfit into my old one.” Emily typed inanely in an attempt to switch topics. “I did a bit of searching about Denver and discovered that a major Mock Trial competition is going on this weekend. I dug a bit more to find that one of my college friends is participating.”
“You’re wearing my clothes, though.” Ashley whined, driving the discussion back to the original topic. “Did the outfit OR the excuse come first?”
“I’m only going like this so he can recognize me. I’ll make sure to put on my absurd costume again afterwards.”
“That’s not the point…” Ashley had one last chance to get out of the costume for the day. “What are you going to do when I start to stink? Your little date will be awkward if smelly Spider-Woman ruins it.”
“I cleaned your costume while you were asleep.” Emily’s statement DID explain the ‘stuck in a hurricane’ nightmare from the night before. “Let’s hit the road, Spider-Woman.”
Hours later, senior intern Alex Harold fought the harshest battle in his entire mock trial prosecutor career so far. The season had taken a toll on him and the entire intern team from Mitch Stevens LLP. What lay on the line for Alex was the possibility of an interview with an ACTUAL District Attorney in Wyoming for a better internship that had a chance to lead to fulltime employment AFTER 48 months! A mix of the economy, general market flooding and frivolous lawsuits clogging the courts meant that a law school graduate didn’t necessarily have a clear path to multiple-digit careers. He wondered if Emily’s pursuit of Anthropology studies at Columbia University had been more fruitful; even if her main reason for going there was due to its role in Ghostbusters.
The defense team called for a sudden recess after their ‘pity’ witness had a medical complication arise. Alex fumed in the hall knowing full well that the alternate for his ‘expert witness’ BARELY knew the evidence for the case and had the worst poker face in all of ‘simulated trial-dom’. What he needed was a surprise witness to turn the tide in his direction. His phone rang moments before the bailiff ordered for participants to return to their places. “Francine, do you think you can lead while I take this? Call the character witness in the meantime.” Alex haphazardly gave the new plan to the other member of his counsel. He positioned his smart phone on his shoulder as if it were a 1990’s cordless phone. “I’ll try to keep this quick.”
Elsewhere, Emily sat in the car with Ashley’s phone up to her ear. “I hope that he FINALLY setup voicemail.” The person on the other end picked up. “Is this still Alex’s phone number and NOT a sex line?”
“Oi Emily, is that really you?” Alex asked, the bit of excitement in his voice quickly stifled upon remembering just where he was. “Err, now’s not a good time, even if I am grateful you gave me an excuse to get out of that right mess.”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Let me guess what happened. You agreed to play completely ‘clean’ prosecutor and either your witnesses are incompetent OR the defense had the judge grant them an ‘intimidate’ bonus.”
“My expert witness alternate doesn’t even know the damn basics of the case. This is EXACTLY like the mock trial in our prelaw course. The mock trial odds are ALWAYS stacked against the prosecution.”
“I just so happen to be outside of Denver right now.” Emily parked the Charger two blocks from the courthouse. “Give me the brief and I can b.s. the expert witness position. Do I get to bring props?”
Alex sighed audibly in relief “Would you REALLY do that for me? We’re doing a variant of the ‘People v. Eric Thiemo’ that swaps the Manslaughter charge with First Degree Murder. The defense is playing up the insanity angle DESPITE the defendant building a killdozer. Let me check prop policy…” The leafing of a couple pages could be heard through the phone. Still reliant on physical methods as always. “You’re permitted to bring in a doll to show the impaling.”
“Oooh, I have the perfect plan already. Which room are you in?”
“I’ll be there momentarily.”
In the criminal justice, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.
Denver Courtroom #3
People v. Eric Thiemo
Prosecution Expert Witness Testimony
Alex gestured for Francine to end her cross-examination of the defendant’s mother. The probing simply gave the defense more sympathy points from the jury. Why did the judge even allow the competing team to play up EVERY SINGLE quirk their participants had? Giving the lead defense attorney role, who handled ALL of the evidence, to the ‘hook left hand’ girl was a low-blow, even by mock trial standards. He ran his hand through his classic ‘James May’ haircut before standing to address the judge. “Your honor, the Prosecution wishes to end questioning. We would like to call our expert witness on the subject of neurological disorders to the stand.”
“The court recognizes your request. Will Dr. Collette please take the stand?” Judge Veeh shooed the bailiff over to the room where the Prosecution’s witnesses sat. He visibly raised an eyebrow at the sight of the pink-haired ‘Dr. Collette’ with a strange yellow dragon doll. “I was led to believe that this hearing involved an Algerian male named ‘Dr. Collette’. Is the Prosecution comfortable with this sudden substitution?”
“Yes, your honor.” Alex tried his best to hide how nervous he was. His bet hinged on getting enough leading questions under the radar to give Emily context, let the defense cross-examination provide slightly more context and then finish with one last round of questions. It sounded so easy in his head. After the court swore her in, he had his chance to put the plan into action. “Dr. Collette, will you please tell the court your position and relevance to the case. Please spell your name for the record.”
“Dr. C-O-L-L-E-T-T-E. I’m a Psychiatrist from University College Hospital just outside of Boston, Massachusetts.”
The line of questioning proceeded normally with minimal objections, surprisingly. Now was Alex’s chance to strike. “The Defense would have the court believe that Mr. Themio went on a ‘misunderstood’ rampage in response to an industrial accident paralleling Phineas Gage. Would a person suffering from such an affliction be capable of arranging ‘poetic justice’ revenge with a weaponized vehicle?”
“OBJECTION, YOUR HONOR!” The Defense foolishly chose to react too quickly. What good is there complaining about the stool when the noose is the real threat? “They are leading the witness.”
“I’ll allow it, provided that the Prosecution has a point.” Judge Veeh didn’t want to hear another crying Defense witness if he had the chance. “You do have a point, right?”
“Yes, I do.” Alex nodded. “Allow me to rephrase for the record. Dr. Collette, would a person with significant damage throughout the frontal lobe be capable of processing, let alone acting on, desires from before their accident?”
“Chances are minimal because damage to the frontal lobe DRASTICALLY affects the personality of the victim. There is a higher chance of landing ten consecutive Heads flipping a standard coin.” Emily knew that all would-be prosecutors ALWAYS have a large coin in the possession strictly for the sake of flipping. Coin flipping and legal proceedings are forever intertwined for obvious reasons.
“It just so happens that I have a half dollar on me.” Alex pulled out his large coin from the dedicated pocket in his black blazer. He allowed the judge to inspect it for authenticity before proceeding. “This is a standard half dollar that anyone might have in their possession at any given time. I will now demonstrate the sheer amount of luck necessary for the defendant to plan and enact his rampage on the same day as his accident.” The first and second coin flip landed on heads. “Very much like the Defense’s argument, their narrative hinges on the assumption of certainty rather than actual probability.” The third flip landed on tails. “I won’t bore the court with the math, BUT we must not forget the complexity an exponential formula brings with each added layer of chance.”
Emily asked a crucial question to completely change the dynamic of the trial. “Is there any schematic that shows the length of the rod that entered Mr. Themio’s skull?” She gave Alex a chance to bust out the white ‘pointer’ stick.
“Yes, Exhibit H is a diagram comparing the length of the rod with the dimension of the cabin.” Alex eagerly placed the poster board with the diagram on the court easel. “Forensics measured it at seventeen inches.”
“If he suffered the injury WHILE driving the bulldozer prior to weaponizing it, then why aren’t there signs of metal –on-metal contact on the ceiling of the cab?” Emily used Senator Lemonsnout to approximate the necessary head position someone with a seventeen inch rod through their head would need to take WITHOUT leaving marks on the ceiling. She practically positioned the plush on its side. “Someone would need to be slav squatting in the seat without access to the pedals.”
Alex walked up to the bench, took hold of the plush and showed it to the jury. “The Defense spent TWO HOURS arguing that their client’s weak knees kept them from non-machine jobs on the work site. Would someone with weak knees be able to sit like this?” The deformed nature of the toy undermined the argument slightly. “Use your imagination to add arms and malice as necessary.”
The Defense objected again. “Your Honor, our client’s poor health is already a well-established element in the record. Any further questions are strictly speculation.”
“Justify the line of questioning to the court, Mr. Harold.”
Alex knew that he was on the right track. Even a blind person could see the purpose of the diversion. “The Prosecution alleges that the defendant suffered from the injury AFTER their rampage.” He could smell the Defense’s shock at the NEW line of questioning. He hadn’t felt so alive in years. “It is MIGHTILY convenient that he suffered such a fundamentally mind-altering injury that could have affected his judgment. Some might even consider such a claim on par with an ‘amnesia’ defense.”
The courtroom went silent for reasons not clear to Alex until much later. A small feeling of discomfort evolved into symptoms consistent with bad food poisoning. Alex was too ‘in the zone’ to notice of care about his rapidly discoloring skin and blackening hair. “Something smells rotten in this courtroom.”
The judge finally interrupted at the moment yellow and orange horns grew from Alex’s head. “You have the ability to call a recess IF you wish for your ‘investigators’ to look over the crime scene again.”
“Th4t won’t b3 n3cessary, Your Honor. I’m s1mply h4ndl1ng some bad tuna.” Many participants called in sick over suspected contamination of the complimentary lunch during the preliminary rounds the day before. “I’d go 4s far as to 4sk why not a single person on the Defense Team is suffering from a similar sickness. They C4N’T all have 4LL3RG13S, can th3y?” Alex’s vision became noticeably worse with each MIGHTY accusation that brought him closer to the truth.
“We have no idea what he’s talking about.” The Defense implored, their smell worse than the aftermath of a Mr. Sketch scented marker factory explosion. What a waste of wondrous color on such repulsive ooze.
Alex’s beloved pointer adjusted into a white cane that slightly offset the limitations from his near blindness. “Just1c3 1S bl1ND. >:]” Through sheer will he had managed to convey an emoticon, emphasizing the absurdity of his flailing around the court. Especially while holding a stuffed dragon and a cane. “The p4r4M3T3RS of the c4s3 have changed oh so M1GHT1LY.” His voice cracked into a far higher, shrill tone.
“WHY ISN’T SOMEONE CALLING A DOCTOR?” An unfamiliar voice screamed.
“Th3 doctor 1s st1ll on the st4nd. W1ll the good doctor choos3 to h3lp th3 3nforcer of JUST1CE or will they rem41n impartial? >:[ “ Alex lost his balance and collapsed to the ground. It wasn’t as though there was a change in height; consistently five foot six inches, his innate clumsiness simply gained a permanent modifier. The floor was such a lovely shade of red. “1 could go for ON3 t4st3.” Alex rolled to the side, unwittingly bared his changed teeth, and began to lick the floor wildly with his teal tongue.
All pretense of legal procedure ended at that moment. Apparently, turning into a blind troll is COMPLETELY fair game in a Colorado mock trial*. Licking the floor in frenzy DOES constitute grounds for suspending a trial indefinitely. Emily led Alex out of the courtroom with her M1GHT1LY deliciously R3D boots. She helped him into a R3D chair for support during the final changes. A final cough removed all trace of the inadequate R3D running through the blood streams. R3D is meant to be appreciated, not contained.
The calming teal blood brought the clarity a head prosecutor needs to focus on JUST1C3 in all forms. A few adjustments removed other needless distraction of the W34K human flesh. “1 M1GHT1LY 4PPR3C14T3 YOUR 4SS1ST4NC3 1N TH3 COURTROOM. CL34RLY, 1 N33D TO B3 MOR3 TH4N 4 HUM4N TO PROS3CUT3 TH3 R34L CR1M1N4LS.”
Emily looked over her abomination for remaining details to address. She checked the jacket pocket for a basis for the mandatory red glasses. Success! There was a pair of the ‘look smarter’ glasses in the breast pocket. A simple ‘adjust hue’ transformation made the glasses perfectly red for the blind troll. Similar transformations were necessary for the shoes to give the troll an appetizing enhancement to help further develop kinesthesis. Only the shirt and blazer remained. “Please forgive me for invading your personal space like this, Terezi.”
“WH4T 4R3 YOU DO1NG TOUCH1NG M3 L1K3 TH4T? >:[“ Terezi blushed a deep shade of teal. Her drastically altered body proved quite ticklish. “1’LL S33 H3H3H3H3H3 H4NG FOR TH1S.” Emily pulled off the jacket, exposing the white button up underneath. Removing the RESTRICTING yellow tie made transforming the shirt very easy. The splashes of black defining the lines of the shirt simply took over the territory and imposed a HARSH uniformity policy to the effect of making the shirt into a black cotton t-shirt. The finishing touch involved remaking the awful tie into a teal Libra logo for the shirt.
Terezi’s first conviction as HONORARY Grand Prosecutor came only hours later. Her hunch about the Burger King Kids Club rejects was correct: they had spiked the lunch with bad tuna. They thought that they were SO clever to make the pursuit of ‘an interview with an ACTUAL District Attorney in Wyoming for a better internship that had a chance to lead to fulltime employment AFTER 48 months’ into non contest. They were forced to pay the ultimate price within the scope of mock trial: DISQUALIFICATION. The result was M1GHT1LY R3D.