World War Burst: Part #9

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[nope]

  • Oxford has changed the topic to: Please keep your voice down in the library!

<Oxford> Thursday afternoon finds the girls clustered around a study table in the forgotten back corner of the library. It is already piled high with book; to a passerby, it would seem a particularly intense bout of exam-prep is occurring. However, the subject at hand is significantly more serious: the upcoming court-martial of Warrant Officer Elsa.

  • Elsa looks at the stacks of books, she barely understands about a third of the words in there so she pretty much is putting all her trust in Caitlin and the others.

<Caitlin> "…Okay… I need a specific list of exactly what charges you're facing."
<Joslyn> "That'd make it easier for us to know what we need to get you in the clear for, anyway."
<Elsa> "Ummm…assault I think? And a whole bunch of others."

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  • Elsa pulls out a sheet of paper with Westfield's impeccable handwriting which states all the charges and hands it over to Caitlin.
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  • Aerendis sits at the table, staring at a seperate piece of paper with a pencil in her hand. She doesn't know anything about the court martial, so instead she's trying to write on the paper with her remaining hand. The resulting unintelligable scribbles seem to indicate that she's not having an easy time.

<Oxford> The paper has a cleanly-printed list, probably typed up on the same typewriter their commanding officer seems to sit in front of night and day. It reads:
<Oxford> a) Simple Assault, b)Assaulting an Officer, Higher Rank, c)Refusal to Obey a Lawful Command, d)Reckless Endangerment, e)Breach of Operational Security, f)Exposing a Civilian to Unnecessary Risk, g)Improper Presentation of Uniform, h)Conduct Unbecoming…

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  • Joslyn frowns at the fifth and sixth charges. "Elsa…who did you tell about us?"

<Oxford> The list actually continues for the rest of the page, but the important ones are at the top. Most of the charges are trivial violations; they don't serve much purpose other than to show the prosecutor has done his homework.
<Elsa> "I didn't!…Well…I kinda told, this one girl…"
<Caitlin> "I see… This is… certainly something…" Caitlin takes a deep breath, sounding a little overwhelmed, "A-alright… Okay, we can do this. Let's take it letter by letter how we can defend you, alright? A and B both refer to the incident where you attacked Mister Westfield, right?"
<Elsa> "Yeah, the first two I are I think."
<Joslyn> "…dammit Elsa…" Joslyn shakes her head. "The thing is, any single one of these is grounds enough for Reiker to have you thrown out. it's not like we can just get the attack charges to go away - we'd need a clean sweep."
<Elsa> "Yeah…it was the girl I…almost killed, I thought she deserved an explanation."
<Elsa> "Maria."
<Joslyn> "…" Joslyn rests her head in one hand "Elsa, elsa elsa…you do realize just how bad this is?"
<Elsa> "I'm not really sure, I don't even know how he found out even."
<Caitlin> "For the assaults… I think the best option is to blame it on the pendants temporarily warping your state of mind. We can cite previous incidents of it affecting behavioral patterns, such as the multiple times it impaired my thinking processes in some way… And, Joslyn, I think we should… focus our energies towards how to fix this…"
<Joslyn> "Sorry. I just…well, she'd have to be the single-worst person to tell about this stuff…"
<Elsa> "I'm…sorry. But how do we deal with…well, the others."
<Elsa> "Improper presentation of uniform?"
<Joslyn> "I think that''s your wings. a 4 pound fine at worst."

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<Elsa> "What about 'Refusal to Obey a Lawful Command' I don't remember doing that."
<Joslyn> "I'm pretty sure Westfield would have asked you to not attack him. Anyway, I think the psychotic side effects the pendants give you the best shot to weasel out of the biggest charges."
<Caitlin> "Furthermore… I believe I may be able to prove it wasn't of your intent… I have a certain ability to read information from people's minds, and I may be able to work in a lie-detecting role for a question like 'do you or did you ever hold ill will or malicious intent towards Major Westfield?'"
<Joslyn> "The thing is, you're the only one who can see it - who's to say you won't lie?"
<Elsa> "So…umm, I'm not sure my uniform will cut it for the trial. I already made holes for my wings and all."
<Caitlin> "Promising under oath, of course!"

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<Elsa> "Well yeah, do we have any clue as to what Reiker is going to do?"

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<Caitlin> "Do you think we could appeal to have a different prosecutor appointed? After all, Mister Reiker has a personal investment and bias in the case due to his history with Mister Westfield…"
<Oxford> Incidentally, the back of the list of charges helpfully contains a quick write-up by Westfield entitled 'Procedure in Courts-Martial', explaining the general format of the trial.

  • Elsa just hopes for the best that Reiker won't be able to do whatever he wants.

<Elsa> "So umm, can we even try to get Reiker off being the prosecutor?"
<Caitlin> "Please give me a moment." Caitlin attacks the legal books in search of that kind of information.
<Oxford> Aerendis, meanwhile, seems to be a bit lost in the current situation. Perhaps a brief recap of events would help to put everything in perspective…?

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  • Aerendis is indeed not really sure what the others are talking about.

<Oxford> Caitlin finds what she's looking for: an entire chapter of "Forrestor's Guide to Criminal Defense" devoted to appealing prosecutorial appointments based on conflicting motives. While most of it is focused on civilian courts, there is at least a useful sidebar on courts martial.
<Caitlin> Caitlin reads the words out of that book so hard. Not literally, of course. Is taking Reiker out of the equation realistic?
<Elsa> "So, can we?"
<Oxford> It seems to be a possibility. The procedure is handled via mistrial, meaning they'll still have to appear before the tribunal and present their case. However, if the defense can show "significantly conflicting motives" exist in the prosecution, the tribunal may rule a mistrial, requiring a new prosecutor to be appointed and the entire process to start over.
<Caitlin> "…We'll need to pry into Mister Westfield's history with Reiker, but it seems possible."
<Elsa> "Okay, so now that we have all that covered…what should I wear? I don't think showing my wings off is a good idea.
<Elsa> "
<Caitlin> "Could you dress in something bulky enough to conceal them? Or some kind of robe-type outfit…?"
<Elsa> "I could wear my jacket as always…do they make you take it off?"
<Caitlin> "I'm… not certain… I imagine Reiker would certainly attempt to make you remove it if it harms your case…"

  • Elsa frowns, "…now that I think about it, I don't know how I'm gonna handle when spring or summer come around. I don't have any other clothes that might cover my back."
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<Joslyn> "if we could find someone who will testify to Reiker's rivalry with Westfield…someone neutral, I mean."
<Joslyn> "Didn't they both serve in the same company during the first war?"
<Elsa> "I think WEstfield mentioned something like that."
<Oxford> The list of people who might know about the history of those two officers is probably extensive. Of course, who would be available to testify on short notice like this? Anyone the girls know was with them during the '28 Novgo-Albaean War?
<Joslyn> "That'd mean they had the same commanding officer. There's someone we can get to testify to Reiker's bias against you, Elsa."

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<Elsa> "Well why don't we go ask Westfield then? I'm sure he can help."
<Joslyn> "Eh…you probably should stay here."

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<Elsa> "Ummm…sure, i guess."

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<Joslyn> "I just don't want to give Reiker anything more he can use against you."
<Caitlin> "I-I would feel really bad asking him to go into such a stressful situation with Flauri's absence… But maybe we could ask him?"

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<Joslyn> "While taking Reiker off the case won't get the trial called off…it'll buy us some time and get a prosecutor who won't hate us on general principle."
<Caitlin> "Miss Stranahan might be another possible lead, alongside Mister Donalds."

  • Elsa frowns"I'd rather not put him through that, it just makes me feel bad when I think about it."

<Joslyn> "…No. Not Erica." Joslyn snaps, a bit more harshly than she'd meant to.
<Caitlin> "Is there a reason?"
<Joslyn> "Assuming you want to stay out of prison, yes. The specifics of which are probably best left vague."
<Caitlin> "Joslyn, I would rather be displeased with the truth and at least have a chance for improvement than blissfully ignorant. Please tell me what you're hiding, here." She lowers her voice to avoid possibly being overheard.
<Elsa> "Well, she did see me transform without a pendant, right?"

  • Elsa says quietly

<Caitlin> "There's no reason to bring that up. We'll ask her to avoid the subject where possible."
<Joslyn> "We can't do anything if Reiker brings it up. If he does, she has to answer truthfully and then we'll all be cell mates."

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<Joslyn> "we're flirting with treason here - Reiker would LOVE to make that case. Especially against me."
<Caitlin> "He won't have a chance to bring it up if she can cause him to be removed from his position… And please, stop making this about yourself…"
<Joslyn> "That only takes him off Elsa's assault case. He'd be perfectly available to present our confessions in open court."
<Joslyn> "And if not him, then whoever replaces him. Kind of hard to refute court transcripts."

  • Elsa groans, "Why does this have to be so complicated," She complains as her forehead hits the tabletop.

<Caitlin> "Do we have reason to think he knows about her abiliity to operate without a pendant, and how does that instantly translate into treason?"
<Joslyn> "Hopefully we won't be in a position for him to ask. But if word gets out that Elsa…you know…"
<Joslyn> "If she were lucky then she'll be lucky to be stuck in that research facility for the foreseeable future."

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<Elsa> "nuh uh, I've got some tricks up my sleeve this time."

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<Caitlin> "How else do you propose we prove Reiker is not a qualified prosecutor due to his connection to the case?"
<Joslyn> "…beg your pardon?"
<Elsa> "I'm not going back there and thats final."
<Oxford> The girls have gotten to the crux of the issue: does Reiker know about Elsa's pendant-less use of magic? If he does, and can prove it, then insubordination charges are the least of their worries.
<Joslyn> "…We could be in way over our heads here. There…is one thing that could get the trial put off for good though…"
<Elsa> "Well what is it?"
<Caitlin> "Yes…?"

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<Joslyn> "A novgaardi attack. You two didn't forget those photos, did you?"
<Caitlin> "We have no control over that. I'd prefer to think about the defenses we can employ."
<Elsa> "I still don't see how a Nov attack will do that."
<Joslyn> "Well…they have the tech for basic focus pendants. And chances are after the mayhem we've caused, they're likely to use them."
<Joslyn> "And something like that would be reason to get every able body on the front lines asap."

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<Caitlin> "Joslyn, you're being ridiculous. Can we please stay on topic?"
<Elsa> "Then they'll just do t after the attack is done, if Reiker is stubborn enough."
<Joslyn> "Am I, Kate?"

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<Caitlin> "You are."
<Joslyn> "I'm the ranking officer, meaning if shit happens to either of you, I'm responsible as much as either of you! So forgive me for trying to figure out a way to sidestep the issue."
<Caitlin> "Sitting around hoping that the enemy attacks us does not do anything. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. That's out of our hands and consequently irrelevant. We're here to figure out what we can do."
<Joslyn> "And what we can do is limited to getting Reiker out and praying we can make some sort of deal with his replacement."
<Elsa> "You're just chasing ghosts Jos, let it go. Even I can see that a nov attack isn't going to do any good."
<Caitlin> "Joslyn… You are really, really trying my patience." Caitlin puts a hand on her forehead for a moment, "We are here to figure out what we CAN do. How to defend each point. If you aren't going to help us do this, please remove yourself."
<Joslyn> "There's nothing TO defend, dammit!" Joslyn stands up, her voice rising dangerously. "She did it, there's proof, end of bloody story! You two need to accept facts and quit trying to win an unwinnable game!"

  • Elsa stands up and says coldly, "Jos, you aren't helping, now shut up. I'm nervous enough as it is."

<Joslyn> "And you think I'm not?!?"
<Caitlin> "She did it in an altered state of mind while under the effects of the pendants. This is not acceptable." Caitlin leans forward and attempts to deliver a stiff slap across Joslyn's cheek.

  • Joslyn raises one arm to try and block it. "Elsa is on trial for attacking an officer. Do you REALLY want to join her?"
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<Oxford1121> A librarian steps from around the bookshelf, drawn by the sound of raised voices. "Girls, please! Voices down in the library!" She glares at all three of them.
<Caitlin> "I would rather receive a court-martial of my own than sit here and listen to you act like this."
<Joslyn> "You do realize how easily that could be arranged, yes? not to mention anything you wanted to bring up to help Elsa would be off-limits." Joslyn is shooting daggers at Caitlin, obvisouly angry. more angry than she should be, really.

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  • Elsa narrows her eyes, "Really Jos, calm down, go run around school once or twice or something."

<Caitlin> "Then please, do make the plans for such an arrangement. After all, you seem to have no desire to plan for the current court-martial we have to deal with."
<Joslyn> "Then give me an excuse that not only doesn't get torn to shreds in 5 seconds, and also keeps Elsa available for combat patrols. Insanity caused by the pendants doesn't count - she'll be medically discharged."
<Caitlin> "Temporary insanity caused by the pendants. She won't be discharged because it happens to everyone who uses them, given time, but is temporary."
<Joslyn> "Right. because those giant wings sprouting from her shoulder blades are totally temproary."
<Caitlin> "Yes, well, there are clearly effects that can be permanent. Ahem." Caitlin gestures to her de-aged body.
<Joslyn> "And how do you intend to prove that recurring psychotic breaks isn't another one of those 'permanent' ones?"
<Elsa> "Do they have any way to prove its that way?"
<Caitlin> "Thus far, the only permanent changes witnessed have been physical."
<Joslyn> "That we've seen. Reiker's probably got twenty counter-examples lined up if we try that one."
<Elsa> "Then come up with good ideas then, just saying that ours wont work is stupid."
<Caitlin> "We can attempt to get her a psychological evaluation. Preferably with a therapist, rather than a scientist."
<Joslyn> "…" Joslyn opens her mouth, but pauses.
<Joslyn> "Now you're on the right track."
<Joslyn> "If I can think up a way to invalidate your argument in 5 minutes, any prosecutor we face will have it ready for us. You wanted me to contribute, Els? there you go."
<Oxford1121> That's true; the defense is perfectly justified in calling a specialist. Though the insanity defense has flaws; there's no way around it. Whether or not they can get Elsa off on her charges, success might still have her thrown out of the unit.

  • Elsa grunts and sits down back in her chair

<Caitlin> "You aren't invalidating the arguments, though. You're simply saying 'they will invalidate it' rather than actively refuting the point."
<Joslyn> "Try me."
<Caitlin> "We have been, and you've been doing this the entire time."
<Elsa> "What Cait said." SHe crosses her arms
<Joslyn> "Fine then. We call in a specialist, have him confirm that Elsa suffered from a temporary fit of insanity. Where do you go from there? if there's nothing else, it's medical discharge at best."
<Elsa> "We say the pendants caused it, point at Cait's own problems and remind everyone that we're testing them." She nods as if its as clear as day
<Joslyn> "How do you prove it? more than that, how do I know you won't have another psychotic break?"
<Caitlin> Caitlin suddenly hugs Elsa mid-sentence, and right when she starts to pull away, she hugs her again. She gives a confused look to her, "Uh… Is there a reason you…? Please focus."

  • Elsa grunts and "Huh what?"

<Caitlin> Caitlin detaches herself and shakes her head, "I'm not sure what prompted you, but that's not important. How do you propose we avoid getting her discharged then, Joslyn?"
<Oxford1121> More details on the format of the trial may be helpful here. It consists of opening statements presented before the tribunal, five high-ranking officers assembled to oversee and render judgement. Following that, the prosecution will be allowed to present their case and call witnesses; afterwards, the defense may do likewise. While the tribunal may interupt and ask for clarification, the
<Oxford1121> prosecution and defense may only speak during the opposing side's segment in order to raise an objection, which must be sustained by the tribunal in order to be valid. Thus, Westfield's memo notes, you won't have to worry about Reiker interjecting mid-argument.
<Joslyn> "The same thing I've said all afternoon. Get Reiker knocked off, cut a deal with his replacment."
<Caitlin> "Define deal."

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<Joslyn> "Find a way to exchange some sort of service and parole to stay on active duty."

  • Elsa looks to Cait and Jos then back again, "Will that even work?"

<Joslyn> "If they don't know much about magic, I'd bet it's likely"
<Caitlin> "I… don't know. It's worth trying, if we can get a reasonable replacement."

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<Elsa> "And now we're back to where we started."
<Joslyn> "I'd say we're at least a little better off…"
<Caitlin> "…Yes. We need someone who can testify on the Westfield/Reiker feud."
<Elsa> "And why don't we ask Westfield for someone? I'm sure he'll give us a name."
<Caitlin> "That's worth trying."
<Joslyn> "sounds like a plan. let me go find him."

  • Elsa pouts, this is what she said all the time, before all the fighting started.

<Oxford1121> As usual, Westfield is at his desk, in his office. When Joslyn explains that the books and other research are already set up, he reluctantly leaves his unending paperwork to join the girls in the library.
<Oxford1121> "Yes, so… how may I help you girls 'study' for the 'history final'?" he asks knowingly.
<Joslyn> "Didn't you say that you and Major Reiker were in the same battalion or something during the Cimbrian invasion?" no use beating around the bush here.
<Oxford1121> He nods. "Yes, that's right. I was the commander of an armour platoon; he was the XO for Major Donalds, with company headquarters." The topic clearly makes him uncomfortable: the tall man tugs at the hem of his uniform to straighten it.
<Joslyn> "…well then. If Donalds cowith uld testify as to your…feud with Major Reiker, do you think we'd have a case to have him removed from the prosecutor's seat since he's biased?"
<Elsa> "We think that'll give us a chance."
<Oxford1121> The major frowns, clearly unhappy with the idea. "For starters, Donalds has been…in a bad way, since Flamenca disappeared." From his expression, that's probably not his only reservation.
<Joslyn> "…right."
<Caitlin> "We are… all very troubled by her disappearance…"
<Joslyn> "Still no sign of her, huh…":

  • Elsa bites her lip.

<Oxford1121> "Furthermore…" Westfield adds, after a short pause, "the particular details of our…feud, as you say…would be fairly damaging to both of us. While it might be enough to get a mistrial, it could also…" He grits his teeth.
<Joslyn> "oh."
<Elsa> "Then theres no choice." Her head hits the table slightly
<Oxford1121> "If its the only option left, we'll use it. I owe you girls that much. But…if there's any other option, I'd prefer you try that first. I'd like to still be in command of this unit after the trial."
<Joslyn> "R-right…so now what? is there any other angle we can use to get him out?"
<Joslyn> "Because short of an insanity defense, we really can't think of any way out."
<Elsa> "We can't use mind reading…does he even know about…you know what."
<Oxford1121> The officer scratches his chin. "Aside from that… Reiker has been almost above reproach. He's unpleasant to be around, but he files the right memos to the right people - I wouldn't count on being able to dig up anything on him."
<Joslyn> "While he's apparently dug up everything on Elsa. And if he's able to figure out…" Joslyn trails off there for the sake of plausible deniability.
<Caitlin> "I… apologize for bringing it up. How much documentation is there on the side effects of pendants?"
<Oxford1121> "Unfortunately, I only have the documentation they've given me - ostensibly everything the research branch has, though I doubt that's true. I can provide it to you to review later, but if there's anything helpful in it, you'll have to make your case in front of the tribunal."
<Joslyn> "Well…it's better than nothing.
<Oxford1121> "Ultimately, it will be in their hands. If you can convince them that Warra- er, that Elsa deserves to stay in the unit, then that's it. If not…"
<Caitlin> "She's certainly accomplished enough in combat…"
<Joslyn> "Of course, that's after Mr. Reiker has spent his allotted time showing how irresponsible, brash, reckless, and destructive she's been, mind you…"
<Oxford1121> "My advice would be to start thinking about who you'll call to testify, and what you'd like to present. Reiker is doing the same; if you can guess his likely course of action, you'll have the upper hand. Remember, defense gets the last word in this trial, so if you can set up witnesses that can bring his presentation into question, you'll win." Westfield sounds more confident than he
<Oxford1121> did earlier, though how much of that is for show is anyone's guess.
<Elsa> "Hey it hasnt been that bad."
<Elsa> "So…who CAN we call."
<Elsa> "I can only think about 2 people."
<Joslyn> "Paige and Maddie?"
<Elsa> "And…Erica."
<Joslyn> "…haven't I already made it clear why she's off-limits? I'd almost bet Reiker's gonna call her as his first witness."
<Elsa> "And maybe one of you two."
<Oxford1121> Westfield nods. "It's highly likely he'll call one or both of you two, so having questions of your own for them would be a logical choice."
<Joslyn> "…oh right. Is there going to be someone in charge of our defense, or is it just the three of us?"
<Elsa> "I think its Cait thats in charge."
<Oxford1121> "Normally, I would be, but since the charge originated based on my report, I'm not permitted." Westfield shrugs. "Likewise, Elsa is the accused, so she's allowed counsel. I assumed Caitlin would be the logical choice."
<Joslyn> "Seems fair. It's not like I read much law stuff in my spare time anyways…"
<Caitlin> Caitlin blushes a little bit, "I-I'll do my best."
<Caitlin> She also hugs Elsa and Westfield in that order.
<Joslyn> "…everything okay, Kate?"
<Caitlin> "I'm fine, but why is everyone hugging me today?"
<Elsa> "Ummm…you are hugging us."
<Joslyn> "Mostly because…yeah. what she said."
<Caitlin> "I… don't think so…"
<Joslyn> "…do try to not hug Reiker at trial. I doubt he'll take it well."
<Caitlin> "I would never!"
<Joslyn> "…today hasn't been that convincing."

  • Joslyn has quit (Quit: <Cleff> "Stealing is fun. It's like treasure hunting except you get to screw over people you don't like.")

<Oxford1121> Westfield raises an eyebrow at the thought of Caitlin hugging his nemesis. Then, shaking his head, he takes his leave of the library, excusing himself to let the girls iron out the finer details of Elsa's defense. All too soon, they will have to put their plans into action, and when they do he can only hope they're ready.
<Oxford1121> _/session