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"Let's talk," Meyer said.
"Of course," Holloway said. He stood up, and the two of them walked out of the courtroom, leaving DeLise and Sullivan behind.
"This whole thing is getting out of hand," Meyer said, as they stepped into a vacant conference room.
"You're just saying that because I'm kicking your client's a.s.s with the evidence," Holloway said.
"Don't flatter yourself," Meyer said. "Making a show of an animal corpse in a preliminary hearing is one thing. But it's the sort of thing I'm going to demolish in an actual trial. s.h.i.+t, Holloway. You hanging on to that thing for a week? You really think I'm going to have a problem introducing reasonable doubt on that? Not to mention it's morbid as h.e.l.l."
"I see," Holloway said. "So you want to do me a favor and save me the embarra.s.sment of falling on my a.s.s in a big-boy trial."
"Don't do that," Meyer said. "I know about you, Holloway. I know you used to do this for a living. I know you were good at it too, until you punched your client. And I know that you didn't exactly punch your client out of pa.s.sion, either. You did it for effect, and you got paid well for it, and that your time on this planet has been a sort of extended vacation for you. So, yeah, Holloway, I know you're good. All right?"
"Okay, better," Holloway said.
"But we both know this is all bulls.h.i.+t anyway," Meyer said. "You and DeLise have a history. Fine. He finally went over the line with it. Fine. Let's all agree he's an a.s.shole and just settle this."
"What's the offer?" Holloway said.
"Drop the suit," Meyer said. "DeLise apologizes without admitting guilt. ZaraCorp fires DeLise and puts a note in his employment record that keeps him from working security again-but no criminal record. We s.h.i.+p him off and he spends the rest of his life was.h.i.+ng dishes somewhere and is grateful for it. And not that it should matter to you at this point, Mr. Billionaire, but ZaraCorp also reimburses you for your cabin and anything else damaged by the fire."
"How much total?" Holloway asked.
"We're not exactly going to be pinching pennies," Meyer said.
"And what about for the fuzzys?" Holloway asked.
"What about them?" Meyer said.
"Your boy stomped one, shot another, and killed both," Holloway said. "That has to be worth something."
"Name your price," Meyer said. "But don't go crazy about it."
"It's not a bad deal," Holloway said.
"It gets you what you want," Meyer said. "h.e.l.l, it gets everyone what they want-DeLise out of security. He's a menace. You'd be doing the universe the favor."
"That is, if you can get him to accept it," Holloway said.
"Don't you worry about that," Meyer said. "That's my job, and I'm good at it."
"I'm sure you are," Holloway said.
"So we have a deal," Meyer said.
"Absolutely not," Holloway said.
"No deal," Meyer said.
"No way," Holloway said. "Not a chance in h.e.l.l."
"Can I ask why not?" Meyer asked.
"Because, Ms. Meyer," Holloway said, "with all due respect for your considerable skills and intellect, the fact of the matter is you have absolutely no clue what it is I want out of this."
Isabel's testimony was anticlimactic. Yes, Your Honor, Jack brought me the body to examine. No, Your Honor, it was not tampered with in any way I could see. Yes, I dug the bullet out myself. No, I am not a licensed forensic examiner. Yes, the DNA work was only preliminary; I was locked out of the lab for half the week when they informed me I was being transferred. No, I don't know why they should have locked me out of the lab. Holloway smiled at Isabel as she walked out of the witness stand. Now the whole gang was here.
"Mr. Holloway, any other evidence for me before I get to the defense exhibits?" Soltan asked, after Isabel had sat down in the audience area.
"No more physical evidence, Your Honor," Holloway said. "But I have a witness to the arson. Someone who can definitively identify Mr. DeLise as the man in the mask."
"Very well," Soltan said. "Bring in your witness, Mr. Holloway."
"The witness is in my skimmer, Your Honor," Holloway said. "It's in the parking area."
"Send someone, then," Soltan said.
"Mr. Sullivan knows what my skimmer looks like, if that's all right," Holloway said.
"Fine," Soltan said, irritably. "Make it fast." Holloway nodded to Sullivan and handed him his key fob. Sullivan left.
"Is there a reason you left your witness in the skimmer, Mr. Holloway?" Soltan asked, while they waited.
"The witness wanted to spend time with my dog," Holloway said.
"Is the witness someone you have a personal relations.h.i.+p with, Mr. Holloway?" Meyer asked.
Holloway smiled. "You could say that, Ms. Meyer."
The door to the courtroom opened and Sullivan walked through, followed by something small.
It was Papa Fuzzy.
"That's it," Soltan said. "Mr. Holloway. Approach the bench. Now Now."
Holloway approached. Janice Meyer, making a unilateral decision, approached as well.
"You're in contempt, Holloway," Soltan said, spitting out the words.
"For calling a witness, Your Honor?" Holloway asked.
"For trying to make a fool out of me," Soltan said.
"I am not trying to make a fool out of you," Holloway said.
"Really," Soltan said. "Because from where I'm sitting, that's exactly what you seem to be doing. Otherwise you wouldn't have been inserting these animals into the hearing at every opportunity."
"They're not animals," Holloway began.
"Don't start that with me now, Mr. Holloway," Soltan warned. "I am really not in the mood."
"Nor have I been inserting inserting them into the hearing," Holloway continued, risking Soltan's additional wrath. "The video of the attack and the corpse of the attacked fuzzy had material bearing on the charges." them into the hearing," Holloway continued, risking Soltan's additional wrath. "The video of the attack and the corpse of the attacked fuzzy had material bearing on the charges."
"But you haven't exactly been shy about using the creatures as an attempt to play off our emotions, have you," Meyer said.
"I don't particularly care about your emotions, Meyer," Holloway said.
"And I don't particularly care for you attempting to play off of mine," Soltan said, to Holloway. "We're here to look at the facts of the case, Mr. Holloway. I've given you slack on your rope because I thought you were getting to these facts, but this"-Soltan nodded her head dismissively in the direction of Papa Fuzzy, who by now had reached the well of the courtroom and was watching the three of them curiously-"makes it clear that you're not here to present those facts, you're here to do something else entirely. It's bad enough you brought a dead one of these creatures into this courtroom to s...o...b..at. I'm not going to allow you to bring in a live one to make a fool out of me. You've taken that rope I gave you and hanged yourself on it."
"This creature is a witness, Your Honor," Holloway said, grimly. "If you want the facts as you say you do, then you will let me call it to testify."
"And how are you going to do that?" Meyer said. "Have you suddenly become an expert on their communication, Holloway? Or are you planning to call Dr. Chen to translate? Because calling in a xenolinguist who has an entire career to gain by a.s.serting these animals have language isn't going to be problematic at all."
"I find it interesting the concern you have for my potential witnesses, considering how ZaraCorp's gone out of its way to try to make sure I didn't have any to call," Holloway said.
"He's not calling Dr. Chen, Ms. Meyer," Soltan said. "He's not calling anyone. I reiterate, Mr. Holloway: You are in contempt of court. Recess is called until such time as you find new legal representation for the remainder of your case. When we resume, you will be allowed into the courtroom and you will be allowed to communicate with your new legal representative, but that's it. When the preliminary hearing is through, you'll be taken into custody."
"You're going to place me into the loving hands of ZaraCorp's Security force?" Holloway said. "You really are are trying to get me hanged." trying to get me hanged."
"That is enough, enough, Mr. Holloway," Soltan said, and stood. Mr. Holloway," Soltan said, and stood.
"I have a witnesss, Your Honor," Holloway said, loudly. "You need to let my witness talk."
"Stop wasting my time, Mr. Holloway," Soltan said. "The answer is no."
"So I will not talk?" Papa Fuzzy asked, in a high, thin but distinct voice. "I have come to talk. I have come to tell my story. Will I not talk now?"
Holloway counted in his head the seconds before anyone else spoke. He got to nine.
"Tell me I just heard what I think I heard," Judge Soltan said, still standing.
"This is what I've been trying to tell you, Your Honor," Holloway said, quickly. "I have a witness. It is ready to testify." He turned to Meyer. "And it doesn't need a translator." He looked at Papa, who was eyeing him curiously. "Please say h.e.l.lo to Judge Soltan," he said.
The fuzzy turned and looked back at the judge. "h.e.l.lo, Judge Soltan," said the fuzzy, slowly.
Judge Soltan sat.
"So he's taught the thing to recite a phrase," Meyer said, scrambling to regain ground. "That proves it's as smart as a parrot."
"Mr. Holloway," Soltan began.
"Talk to it, Your Honor," Holloway said. "If you think I'm trying to trick you, talk to this fuzzy here. Ask it a question. Any question. But if I may suggest, keep your words simple. Its vocabulary is not extensive." to it, Your Honor," Holloway said. "If you think I'm trying to trick you, talk to this fuzzy here. Ask it a question. Any question. But if I may suggest, keep your words simple. Its vocabulary is not extensive."
"This is ridiculous, Your Honor," Meyer said.
"Your Honor, I may s...o...b..at, but I'm not stupid," Holloway said. "Do you honestly think I'd bring this creature in front of you if all I could get it to do is recite spoon-fed words and phrases? How long would that trick work? One round of questions, maybe two, before everything went off the script. There's no possible way I could account for every comment or question you would have to ask it. And then what? What good would it do me and my case against Mr. DeLise to attempt to con you?"
Holloway pointed a finger at DeLise. "All I would get out of it is time in a security holding cell with his his buddies watching over me," he said. "So, no. It's not a trick. Ask it whatever you like, for as long as you like, until you're convinced." buddies watching over me," he said. "So, no. It's not a trick. Ask it whatever you like, for as long as you like, until you're convinced."
"That doesn't prove a thing," Meyer said. "A transmitter could feed the thing lines."
"Examine it however you want," Holloway said, to Meyer. "Run any sort of scanner you have over its body. You'll be wasting your time, but if that's what it takes, be my guest."
"Your Honor, this mockery needs to stop now," Meyer said, to Soltan.
"Quiet, Ms. Meyer," Soltan snapped. Meyer quieted, and shot a poisonous look at Holloway. Holloway kept his face blank. Soltan sat silently at her desk, chewing over recent events.
"Your Honor," Holloway prompted, after a minute. "You need to tell us what we're doing now. And I need to know if I'm still under contempt."
Soltan looked over at Holloway. "Mr. Holloway, if I find a single bit of evidence that this witness is anything but what you say it is, contempt charges are going to be the least of your problems."
"Fair enough," Holloway said. "But at least try to talk to the fuzzy first." He and Meyer returned to their tables.
Soltan glanced down at the fuzzy, who still stood there, staring impa.s.sively at her. Soltan opened her mouth to speak, closed it, and got a look on her face that said, I can't believe I'm doing this I can't believe I'm doing this. She looked up again at Holloway.
"Does it have a name, Mr. Holloway?" Soltan asked.
"Why don't you ask the fuzzy," Holloway said.
Soltan looked back to the fuzzy. "Do you have a name?" she asked slowly.
"Yes," the fuzzy said.
There was a pause after this before Soltan figured out that she might have to be more literal. "Please tell me your name," she said.
"My name is," and here there was a pause. "Jack Holloway calls me 'Papa' but that is not my name. My name is."
Soltan looked up, confused. "I didn't catch the name," she said.
"You couldn't," Holloway said. "Fuzzy speech is spoken above the range of our hearing, remember. When it's speaking to you in English, it's talking at the absolute bottom of its vocal range."
Soltan nodded. "May I call you Papa?" she asked the fuzzy.
"Jack Holloway calls me 'Papa.' You can call me 'Papa,'" Papa said.
"How do you feel, Papa?" Soltan asked.